I know that we have at least two leagues happening this year on BTSC, and that a few people participating are relatively new to the fantasy scene, and even if you aren't, you might still learn some things. Conversely, you may think I'm an idiot and want to bash everything I am going to say -- regardless, you're welcome in this post to ask questions and learn a little bit about one of my favorite parts of football: the fantasy aspect. This is my fourth year active in fantasy football, and in that short time I've learned quite a bit. Last year, my first year in college, I essentially did nothing first semester besides look at fantasy information and, when that wouldn't suffice my hunger, looking up stats for any player I was interested in and figuring out my own rankings, usually to a higher degree of success.Before I even joined a mock drafting lobby, I went into the "Draft Central" section of Yahoo's fantasy football website and attempted to change my player rankings. After screwing with it for some time however, I could not manage to get my rankings right. This is my first gripe with Yahoo's fantasy football: you cannot re rank every position as you see fit. you have to rerank in an overall list, which is not something I like to draft with. I'd much rather have 4 or 5 different lists of players, so that I can have WR list, RB list, QB list, TE list, and sometimes even a flex position list or a sleeper list just so I can keep an eye on where these players are going.
Since it's just a mock I decided not to worry about it and proceeded to find a lobby. You may take the time to completely revamp your player rankings, but I can pretty much rank them in my head as I'm filtering Yahoo's ranking to WR or whatever position I'm interested in.
The first draft I found was a 14 person draft, with me sitting at 11. If ever there was an interesting draft scenario for me to explain drafting strategies this would be it. I'd have almost 0 chance at blue chip running back talent and if there is a run on first round QB's I am deprived one of those. Although there are drafting strategies you can read about and put in place, I decided that I would wait until my first round pick to decide what direction I would want to take in this draft.
The fake league I end up in has 3 WR slots and 2 RB slots, with no flex. Which is kind of a good thing for me because it means I'll need less running back depth than a 3 RB league or a flex league.
The first pick was $$BEEZE$$, a fellow internet denizen. He spent almost all of his time on the first pick... apparently couldn't decide between Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson. He ultimately went with Chris Johnson and then was the predictable rush on blue chip runners. MJD, Ray Rice, and Frank Gore flew off the board, as well as someone slipping in a Drew Brees pick and Andre Johnson. Just before I picked, Rashard Mendenhall and Steven Jackson were both drafted, and I was hoping at least one of them would fall to me. In this situation, a majority of the blue chip runners are gone -- all I had left according to Yahoo rankings was Ryan Matthews (no thanks for a first rounder) and DeAngelo Williams, who is struggling with injuries this offseason. It was here I decided to go with Aaron Rodgers, who improves every year and is all but guaranteed 4000 yards and 25+ touchdowns, with 3+ rushing touch downs. He'll be one of the few every week starters for this team.
The first round was ended with Peyton, Ryan Matthews, and Calvin Johnson being picked. It was heavy on RB1's, but there was still variety.
My pick in the second round came much sooner than I thought it would, I didn't realize it was a snake style draft (oops.) I had a touch decision to make, RB or WR? There was some good WR left and only a few RB worth RB1 status. I ended up taking Miles Austin over Joseph Addai, hoping that Addai would be left for the third round. I picked Miles Austin because I think he'll become a true number one in Dallas while I don't see Fitz replicating his numbers post Warner. It turns out I made the right decision because after Miles Austin, there is a run on WR talent. Wayne, Marshall, Fitz, and even Steve Smith are off the board well before I get to pick again.
While waiting on my ridiculously late pick (being 11 in a snake draft means you'll have lots of time between every other pick) QBs were falling off the board. By the early third round, the best QB left in this 14 man league was Donovan McNabb, making me grateful for Mr. Automatic Aaron being in my corner.
By this point in time I have highlighted several running backs I'd like to build my stable around, and put them on my watch list. On this list is Joseph Addai, Beanie Wells, Marion Barber, Cedric Benson, and the Miami Duo. Marion Barber is said to be in the best shape of his life, Beanie Wells should be the main guy in Arizona. Beanie got drafted just seconds before I got there, so I took Joseph Addai. He is an underrated fantasy player, as he's all but guaranteed double digit touch downs, 850+ yards rushing, and 300+ yards receiving. So far my squad looks like this:
QB: Aaron Rodgers
WR1: Miles Austin
RB1: Joseph Addai
Right after that, I took Barber to fill out my starting RB corps, with Jonathon Stewart still on the board. Last year was a down year for Barber and he still got nearly as many fantasy points as Stewart, not to mention Stewart is more so dependent on Williams getting hurt for his yardage. All reports out of camp say that Barber will be the main guy this year if he stays healthy, with Choice/Jones as change of pace backs.
Now I need to focus on filling out my WR position. I've got my eyes on the steady veterans Mason and Ward, as well as Wallace and Hakeem Nicks on my watch list. The WR position is looking thin, as according to Yahoo, the highest ranked receiver left is Steve Smith of the NYG, who I think will be a letdown this year. I avoid him and hope that one of my fab four reach me. Thankfully the other players in my draft start drafting TE's, which is not a position of great need. I always wait until the end for my TE so I can get more quality depth at my other positions.
Hines Ward is picked one pick before I select, so I went with Mason, who is pretty much a 1000 yard machine. Next I've got my eyes on either Ricky Williams for RB depth or Mike Wallace to finish my starting WR's. My next pick came and I realized right next to Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson was left. I picked him on a flyer, hoping that no matter where he ends up this year he will produce, and with an intent to get another WR. There would be someone serviceable left next time I picked, perhaps even Mike Wallace, who I wanted in the first place.
While waiting on my next pick, I have set up the rest of my draft on my "player watch list." On here I've got wideouts Wallace, Kenny Britt, Steve Breaston, and Eddie Royal. Runningback wise, I have Ricky Williams, Thomas Jones because I'm not sold on Charles, Hightower because he had nearly 1000 yards total last year, Steve Slaton in case there is a resurgence, and Toby Gerhart for when AP is hurt, because it's pretty much guaranteed. Even after the run on TE's I have Shiancoe, Miller, and Dustin Keller on my watch list.
When my next pick came, Wallace was gone and I went with Kenny Britt, because he only really came on in the last half of the year and put up a respectable 700 yards and 3 TD. Eddie Royal I decided was too underused in Orton's offense and If Fitz won't be doing as well without Warner, Breaston will be more likely to struggle. I decided after that any pick used on a WR was a waste, as they were all free agent quality anyway. I set out to build quality depth for trading blocks later on in the year.
I took Hightower for myself if Beanie goes down or to trade to the Beanie owner if he goes down. And even if Beanie does not go down he should get a decent amount of looks in an offense that is likely to rely more on the ground attack.
I notice that only Miller and Keller are left of TE's I would settle for. Next round I'll draft one of those two if they slip to me. I chose Miller and after that it was simply filling out roster spots. I ended the draft with choices of Heath Miller, Steve Slaton, Vince Young, Tashard Choice, Devery Henderson, Jeff Reed, and Kansas City D/ST.
That fills out my roster to look something like this:
QB: Aaron Rodgers
WR1: Miles Austin
WR3: Kenny Britt
RB1: Joseph Addai
RB2: Marion Barber
TE: Heath Miller
K: Jeff Reed
D/ST: Kansas City
BN: Vincent Jackson
BN: Steve Slaton
BN: Tim Hightower
BN: Vince Young
BN: Tashard Choice
BN: Devery Henderson
This isn't a bad roster for a 14 team league. Usually in leagues that big you have to start scraping the bottom of the barrel for any kind of talent, but I was pretty well off. I definitely have much less WR talent than I'd like and that is probably a result of bad drafting, but I have enough quality RB depth to start striking trades when the injuries hit, and enough handcuffs of my own players to support myself. Aaron Rodgers will be the corner stone of this team and if he goes down I'm pretty much screwed.
If you ever try one of these, you'll be surprised by the talent that starts slipping after the fifth round, because you'll have people drafting based off name and they will completely look over a solid or even outstanding fantasy player in the later rounds.
I hope this helped you understand the process of drafting a successful fantasy team and some of the trains of thought you get on while deciding who you're picking. My piece of advice is to always always always use your player watchlist to the right of the player bank during drafting, and to pay attention what positions are going quick and which are staying around a little longer. As always, suggestions for improvement are welcome.