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Fantasy Football Draft Mistakes To Avoid In 2019

Fantasy Football Draft Mistakes To Avoid In 2019
Davis Mattek June 25, 2019 3:33PM EDT

Fantasy Football Draft Mistakes To Avoid In 2019

It is not possible to straight up win your league during your fantasy football draft, but it is possible to lose it. Avoiding mistakes in your fantasy football draft makes it a lot easier to make smart trades, timely waiver wire pickups, stream the right defenses and generally construct an antifragile roster. At RotoExperts, we generally advocate a Hybrid Zero RB Drafting approach but a robust RB draft or even a Zero WR draft can lead to a profitable season as long as the back end of your roster is built correctly. Today, we are going to look at a few mistakes to avoid while drafting in everything from your 10-team home league with your buddies from high school to a 14 or 16-team high-stakes league.

Common Fantasy Football Draft Mistakes To Avoid

Drafting A Quarterback Too Early/Drafting Multiple Quarterbacks

This should be elementary but it still a mistake that a seasoned fantasy football player could theoretically make in a larger or unfamiliar drafting format. For example, many of my industry brethren will be tempted to take quarterbacks early in the Scott Fish Bowl because the league allows players to start two quarterbacks and penalizes quarterbacks who throw interceptions. Even in a double-quarterback format, the scoring at the position is so flat that you should not find yourself drafting middling quarterbacks over valuable performers at running back and wide receiver. For example, last year’s 24th highest scoring quarterback (Marcus Mariota) scored only 108 fewer fantasy points than the 12th highest scoring quarterback. That sounds like an insane amount until you realize just how many quarterbacks receive a start over the course of the season AND you are not forced to start Mariota every week, even in a two-quarterback league. 55 different quarterbacks threw over 23 passes last year and 39 players threw for five or more touchdowns. This discussion is hyper-specific for deeper quarterback leagues but in a standard 12-team league, you can essentially lock in a top-five quarterback score over the course of the season by streaming. The math adds up that you are able to find a top-12 QB score most weeks by working the waiver wire efficiently. While it seems great to have Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers, consider that you can often find these high-upside quarterbacks on the wire as the “reliable” top scorers are overdrafted and true sleepers at the QB position go undrafted or quite late in drafts.

Overloading On One Running Back Archetype

We took a very deep look at layering running backs in our Ultimate Guide To Zero RB Drafting but it bears repeating. Both in best ball and in seasonal fantasy football leagues, your roster should contain a diverse portfolio of styles of running back. In a hybrid Zero RB Draft, where you start out with one of the five or six studs at the position (Zeke, CMC, David Johnson, Alvin Kamara, David Johnson and kinda sort Melvin Gordon) it is tempting to then shuffle through a multitude of pass-catching, satellite backs to fill out your roster. Nyheim Hines, Giovani Bernard and Theo Riddick are popular examples of this archetype of running back. However, league winning running backs often look much different. They will often time have a small path to playing time at the beginning of the season (Aaron Jones, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb from 2018) but by the time injury attrition and playing time shifts have hit by mid-season, they look like league-winners. I have made this mistake myself and seen others make it just as frequently. When you have a strong running back draft through seven or eight rounds, you feel comfortable neglecting the position in the latter half of drafts and might head into the season with only five or so running backs. Two of those might be studs with three complementary pass-catchers. What the math suggests is that every roster should have one or two strong workhorse types, at least one pass-catching back who can be subbed in when needed and offers a modicum of floor while also adding volatile playing time backs (Seattle backfield, Eagles backfield, Tampa Bay backfield as a few examples) who have league winning potential when they hit their 90th percentile outcomes.

Neglecting High Upside Wide Receivers Later In Drafts

This is fairly similar to only sticking to one type of running back (whether it be satellite backs or risky handcuffs) but can be even worse when it comes to determining the outcome of your team. Many of the choices are faced with after the 10th round of your draft are about floor versus ceiling. You can feel pretty comfortable that Cole Beasley will end up with 60 catches by the end of the year, even if on most weeks he is going to post a very bland four catches, 40-yard performance with minimal touchdown upside. On the converse, anyone who says they know how much D.J Chark and Marquise Lee is going to play for sure is lying to you. The upside case for players becomes more important later on in drafts when the implications for cutting them become less severe. Sending your seventh-round pick to waivers hurts a lot more than cutting your 15th round draft pick. Therefore, later on in your fantasy football draft game plan, you should be focusing on players like Robert Foster, TreQuan Smith, Michael Gallup, DeVante Parker, Demarcus Robinson, Josh Gordon or D.J Chark as opposed to Adam Humphries, Cole Beasley, Randall Cobb, Jamison Crowder or Mohamed Sanu. Most weeks, if you are diligent about working the waiver wire and have access to good projections, you will be able to find a spot starter at wide receiver or flex. However, if any of these late round wide receivers take off early in the season, their value will appreciate to the point that they elevate to either starting players for your lineup or valuable trade assets. You should really think about your fantasy football draft as the beginning of a portfolio and you mostly want to be acquiring assets that will either hold their value or appreciate relative your leaguemates’ assets over the four-month NFL season.

Spending Extra Draft Capital On Mid-Tier Tight Ends

A pretty surprising trend to me this year is just how much the market is valuing the tight ends after Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Zach Ertz. We have all three of these tight ends projected for over 110 targets. No other tight end, outside of the big three at the position, is projected for over 96 targets. That tight end with 96 targets is Evan Engram, who will be playing in a terrible offense with two other slot-style pass catchers plus a running back who will also be catching short passes (meaning 96 targets might even be a bit too high). No other tight end out of the top three is projected for more than 750 yards which is really the sticking point. While Hunter Henry, Jared Cook and Eric Ebron offer intoxicating touchdown upside, touchdowns are the least stable metric to project. From 2017, only one tight end scored 10 or more touchdowns. That was Jimmy Graham who had two touchdowns in 2018. Kyle Rudolph had eight touchdowns in 2017, followed by four in 2018. Tyler Kroft had seven touchdowns in 2017, followed by zero in 2018. While I don’t think Eric Ebron, Hunter Henry, Jared Cook or O.J Howard are utterly horrible buys at their current average draft position, I find that I generally do not like the teams I draft when I select those players in the middle rounds. They do not fit an anti-fragile roster build as you’re likely not drafting a backup tight end when you spend a sixth-round pick on one of them but they don’t have the same week-to-week ceiling of one of the big three tight ends.

Ignoring Age, Even In Redraft Fantasy Football Drafts

Aging curves matter, even in non-keeper fantasy football draft formats. Aging wide receivers reach a point of diminishing returns, as do running backs. Age matters less at the quarterback and tight end positions because quarterback is a less physical position and tight end is almost entirely about projectable volume. When wide receivers hit 28 years old, there is a gradual descent in efficiency and production league-wide. After eight years at the wide receiver position, there is a marked drop off in performance. Aging wide receivers continue to get playing time at a greater rate than aging running backs for a few reasons. There are multiple wide receiver positions to play, so aging wide receivers can move from the boundary into the slot as they lose explosiveness. It also requires less total plays to funnel their way for wide receivers to continue to accrue fantasy points. An aging running back who declines in effectiveness and usage (see: Gore, Frank) has a harder time cracking the top 24 at his position than aging wide receiver who moves to the slot (see: Fitzgerald, Larry). The overarching point here is less about specific players and more about philosophy. Selecting younger players, specifically second and third-year players who have not shown their full ceiling yet, is another way to build an anti-fragile roster with more outs to upside. Older players are more likely to be injured or suffer dramatic but unforeseen declines in efficiency compared to younger players. You do not have to plan for this with every pick you make but selecting a roster of mostly (or all) older players is a sure way to create a very fragile fantasy football draft roster.

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