This four-part article series is designed to help you prepare and plan for your fantasy league's draft, with winning draft-day techniques and strategies to ensure ultimate victory in your fantasy football league. Look for steps 1-6 here.
Step 7: Look for QB/WR combinationsI define a QB/WR Combination as drafting a QB and a WR (or TE) from the same team. Many fantasy managers are often afraid to do this in case the QB (and consequently the WR) has an off-week. However, I feel the potential upside far outweighs the risk. For example, let's assume that you own A. Rodgers and G. Jennings on your fantasy football team. A 50-yard passing TD from Rodgers to Jennings would score 17 fantasy points in a standard Yahoo! fantasy league (4 points for the passing TD, 6 points for the receiving TD, 2 points for the passing yardage, and 5 points for the receiving yardage for a total of 17 fantasy points), for just one play! Some of my favorite QB / WR combinations include A. Rodgers / G. Jennings & J. Nelson; M. Stafford / C. Johnson; T. Brady / W. Welker, B. Lloyd, & R. Gronkowski (TE); D. Brees / M. Colston & J. Graham (TE); M. Ryan / R. White & J. Jones; C. Newton / S. Smith; and E. Manning / H. Nicks & V. Cruz (just to name a few).
Step 8: Grab "handcuffs"I define a "handcuff" as a backup to a highly ranked fantasy player. These players are generally drafted later in drafts, but can easily find their fantasy value skyrocket due to an injury to the starter. As a result, they are a great value, bought low with the possibility of selling high (in the case of a future trade) or capable of moving into your starting lineup if needed.
Depending on the primary fantasy player drafted (specifically at the RB position as discussed in Step 6: Get RB Depth), I will often draft their backup as an insurance policy if the starter were to go down. Last season, owning M. Bush ("handcuff" to D. McFadden in OAK) not only saved some of my fantasy teams, it allowed me to win some league championships. Some of my favorite "handcuffs" for 2012 include: M. Bush (now backup to M. Forte in Chicago); B. Tate (backup to A. Foster in Houston); R. Jennings (backup, and possible Week 1 starter, to M. Jones-Drew in Jacksonville); P. Hillis (backup to J. Charles in Kansas City); T. Gerhart (backup to A. Peterson in Minnesota); and T.J. Spiller (backup to F. Jackson in Buffalo) just to name a few.
Step 9: Do I draft a team defense and kicker early, or wait?This is actually one of my favorite fantasy football questions, and one that is argued by even the most experienced fantasy managers. Truth is, there is no set answer. I generally take an old-school approach to the draft in that I do not plan on taking my team defense and kicker until the final rounds. However, depending on the flow of the draft and whether I still have a good number of my higher-ranked players available, I sometimes find myself diving in and taking my team defense and/or kicker earlier than planned. As discussed previously concerning starting (and not following) a run at a position, this is often my justification for making such a move. Again, I do not feel there is a black and white strategy that works in all cases.
Also, the type of draft can make a difference. If you are part of an autopick draft, many leagues (Yahoo! being one) will make sure to fill all of your starter positions before they start to fill your bench. So, even if you have skill players ranked higher than your team defense and kicker, they will still bypass them to complete your team defense and kicker starters. This is almost always done in the 8th and 9th rounds of the draft (in a 10-team league). Use this to your advantage! Break all of the fantasy football draft rules and rank your top 2-3 team defenses around #60-65 in your overall rankings and your top 2-3 kickers around #70-75. This has enabled me to get my favorites at each position in the seventh and eighth rounds (and allowing me to start the run at the position). In turn, while everyone else is taking their team defenses and kckers in rounds 8 and 9 (a round later than me), I am able to continue with my picks at the skill positions.
Try it with your next autopick draft and see if it works for you. A couple of additional things to note though, make sure to rank your top 2-3 team defenses and kickers (as you may have another coach doing the same strategy or unexpectedly ranking someone at that position higher than normal). I have seen a couple of cases this season where the San Francisco 49ers defense has been ranked abnormally high and they are picked in the 5th or 6th round. If you do not rank your top 2-3 at that position, you could be in for a surprise. And obviously the number of teams in the league can make a difference of where you need to rank your team defense and kicker. Plan it out before you commit to your final draft rankings.
Steps 10-12 will be listed in future posts in the next couple of days. Please make sure to look for these to help you with your upcoming fantasy draft and season.
Brian Music is one of five inaugural inductees to the 2011 Toyota Legends of Fantasy Football Hall of Fame on Yahoo! Sports. He has participated in fantasy football for 23 seasons. He participated in his first Yahoo! fantasy football league in 2001 and has competed in 21 competitive-level public leagues since with a nearly .700 winning percentage.
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