The draft for your league sets the tone for the upcoming season. Especially in your league’s first year. If you pick a suspended player early, or even a retired player, and you’ll quickly lose the respect of your league mates. This is not what you want to happen. Soon you’ll be getting BS trade offers and you’ll forever be known as the runt of the league. Of course, if you’re returning to a league a bad draft can be just as damaging. A bad draft leads to a bad team which is almost impossible to come back from. Here are 5 do’s and don’ts to master the drafting process.
- DON’T Draft a Quarterback Early
The first 3 quarterbacks drafted on average last year were Peyton Manning, Brees, Rodgers. These quarterbacks also were the only ones to be taken in the first three rounds. By the end of they year, it was only Rodgers that was a top 3 quarterback. Many people wasted a valuable pick on Manning at 4th pick overall and directly behind him was the number 3 running back Marshawn Lynch. Brees also had a huge game changer behind him in the draft with Demarco Murray, the highest scoring running back. You’ll find that good, if not great, quarterbacks are available in later rounds. For instance, Andrew Luck was drafted in the 4th round normally and had the 2nd most amount of points for all quarterbacks. Russell Wilson, who was drafted in the end of the 5th round ended up being the 3rd ranked quarterback. Why would you draft Brees, (12th pick and 6th rank quarterback) and Darren Mcfadden (121th pick and 41st RB), when you could draft Demarco Murray, (18th pick and 1st RB) and Roethlisberger, (114th pick, 5th best quarterback). Running backs and wide receivers are much more scarce than the deep quarterback position. If you were picking players based on forehead area it would be an entirely story for Manning, but for now stick with waiting a few rounds.
- DON’T Spend a Worthy Draft Pick on a Defense
The 49ers, Seahawks, and Panthers all were drafted in the first ten rounds this year on average. Out of those teams, the Seahawks were the only top ten defense fantasy points wise. Instead of drafting inconsistent defenses early in the draft, spend that pick on a wide receiver or running back sleeper. Having a good defense is a valuable asset, but you don’t need to draft a top ranked defense early. Instead pick up a defense with a favorable matchup week by week. An example of that would be any team playing the Jaguars, Bucs or Raiders. The D/ST playing these teams got 13, 11 and 10 points respectively which would be the highest scoring defensive average. This strategy will get solid points week in and week out.
- DO Draft these Three Players
Alfred Morris- Robert Griffin III was named the starter for the Redskins by Jay Gruden during the NFL combine. Griffin put up good numbers in the last three weeks of the season last year. In fact, he throw more yards per game in those games than he did in 2012. He also had a better Yards per attempt, and completion percentage. When RG3 attempted more than 15 passes in a game Alfred Morris recorded 12.8 fantasy points per game, which would place him in 8th place for running backs. Another reason to draft Morris is that his draft stock has fallen significantly. While last year he was a surefire 2nd or early 3rd round pick, this year he is projected to go in the 5th. Alf also showed a promising development in his receiving game when he had more receiving yards this year then his past two years combined. Morris had a promising performance with 4 catches in the pro bowl. Another impressive statistic with the 5’11 power back is that he has started every game since he has been drafted in 2012, and did this without missing a single week. Deep into the season you’ll find yourself with injury issues, and Morris will be ready to go.
Joique Bell- Joique Bell has a deceiving yard per rush average. Though he only averaged 3.9 yards per rush that number changed greatly when he gained more carries. After getting 16 carries a game in November, Bell’s average run jumped 1.2 yards, and in December he averaged 4.73 yards per carry. Former Lions starter Reggie Bush was cut by the team last week, and Bell’s carries will go up significantly due to this. Last year in games in which Bell 18 or more carries he averaged 86 yards and 4.5 yards per attempt. Though the 28 year old out of Wayne State is projected to be drafted relatively early in the 4th round, be ready to snatch him up if he falls any farther.
Ryan Tannehill- Ryan Tannehill had a strong finish to his year in 2014. It was rumored that he was going to be benched due to poor play in during the beginning of the season, but regained his coaches confidence as the year went on. Tannehill ended up throwing interceptions on only 2% of his passes, which ranks 7th in the NFL, and he rushed for 300 yards on the year. The 6’4 quarterback also posted an above average TD%, Completion % and quarterback rating. Many quarterbacks failed to perform when in the playoffs when it was needed most. Tannehill though, posted his best TD/INT ratio in December. Tannehill is also deceivingly fast. In his 2012 pro day Tannehill ran a 4.58 40 yard dash at his pro day which would place him in fourth for starting quarterbacks since 2010. The 26 year old out of Texas A&M is projected to be picked towards the end of the quarterback class in 2015, so be sure to grab him as a sleeper in the draft.
- DON’T Draft These Three Players
Seahawks Wide Receiver – Since quarterback Russell Wilson has taken over the Quarterback duties in 2012, not one wide receiver has posted over 120 points in a season or averaged 7.5 points. Even though Wilson is a great field leader, and threw for 3400 plus yards in 2014, no receivers with Wilson have posted 900 yards or more in the past three years. Even with these number, in both 2012 and 2014 drafts Seahawks’ receivers have been drafted in the first 5 rounds. Be wary of taking one of Wilson’s pass catchers too early. Just because a team is a super contender does not mean their positional players will excel.
Patriots Running Backs- Bill Belichick has a reputation of not using a running back consistently throughout the season. This was again proved correct when Belichick had 4 different single game leaders for rushing, and not one Patriots running back posting over 450 yards on the year. The leader in carries for the Patriots, Shane Vereen, had 96 rushes on the year which ranks 46th in the entire league. Even with Vereen, and Steven Ridley being unrestricted free agents, Belichick is too inconsistent to trust with a significant draft pick.
Demarco Murray- Last year Murray was arguably the best player in fantasy football. He led all eligible flex players in points, rushing yards, touchdowns and carries. Carries is the reason that put the 2014 AP offensive player of the year on this list. Murray’s carries began to hamper his production in December when his yards per rush average dropped off from 4.91 to 3.98. Though Murray is a talented running back, he will come nowhere near his numbers from 2014 next year. Part of the reason for this is that Murray is most likely not going to be resigned by the Cowboys. The most likely suitors for the 27 year old back are the Titans, Jaguars, and Chargers. Unlike the Cowboys, these teams do not have a stellar offensive line. Respectively, Jacksonville, San Diego, and Tennessee have the 29th, 31st and 18th best run blocking offensive lines. This will hamper his production even more, coming out of the best run blocking o-line in the league. Though I would not suggest taking him completely off your draft board, I would be cautious about making a round 1 commitment to the 6’0 halfback.
- DON’T Consider the Last Three Rounds a Joke
Throughout the draft most people start to brag about their starters, and forget about the final rounds of the draft. This seems harmless at the time, but 10 weeks into the season you’ll regret it. The first reason for this is lack of depth, a bench can be a key factor into the success of your team. Deep into the season you can easily cure injury woes with a good bench, or you could trade a few of your backups for different team’s top 10 talent. Last year, in round 16 the number 9 wide receiver Mike Evans was normally drafted. In round 18 breakout fantasy star Odell Beckham Jr. was drafted along with Justin Forsett. Instead of taking guys with funny names, or a 3rd string kicker that has cool facial hair, take a potential breakout performer.
And One Bonus Hail Mary
- DO Take the Risk by Picking Justin Blackmon
Blackmon has been suspended twice in his three year career for possessing weed. Last year, he was suspended for the entirety of the season for marijuana possession. Before being suspended in 2013, Blackmon was showing all-pro talent with the Jaguars. In those games the 26 year old posted 413 yards, and 14 yards per catch. Now remember, this was with bust Blaine Gabbert and Journeyman Chad Henne under center. These quarterbacks posted a horrible quarterback rating of 69.4 in the games with Blackmon. The third year wide receiver out of Oklahoma State will now have promising quarterback Blake Bortles tossing the pigskin to him. Chances are you will be able to draft the 6’1 receiver in the late rounds of the draft, and he just has too much upside to miss out on.