Gronk could be a 1st rounder, but there is also a new crop of young TEs ready to break out
I’m not here to offer the one ultimate draft strategy; each year creates new hierarchies of positions and tiers as they fluctuate in talent and depth. Also, each league will have a different draft dynamic, with 10 or more personalities with their own strategies and level of competitiveness.
Ultimately, being cognizant of the trends and strategies being used in your draft will be the most important thing, but there are some generally applicable tips and rules to live by when approaching and participating in your 2012 fantasy draft.
Tip No. 1: Know the League Settings
The first thing you need to do before the draft is familiarize yourself with the league settings.
Standard scoring for offense (ESPN) looks like this:
- TD Pass = 4pts
- Every 25 passing yards = 1pts
- 2pt Passing Conversion = 2pts
- Interceptions Thrown = -2pts
- TD Rush = 6pts
- Every 10 rushing yards = 1pt
- 2pt Rushing Conversion = 2pts
- TD Reception = 6pts
- Every 10 receiving yards = 1pt
- 2pt Receiving Conversion = 2pts
- Kickoff Return TD = 6pts
- Punt Return TD = 6pts
- Fumble Recovered for TD = 6pts
- Each Fumble Lost = -2
Most ranking systems, big boards and draft guides are set to these settings unless otherwise noted. A deviation from standard scoring should change your draft board and strategy.
PPR leagues boost the value of high volume receivers like Wes Welker, Roddy White and TE Brandon Pettigrew, as well as elite pass-catching backs like Darren Sproles and Matt Forte.
Some leagues award six points for pass TDs instead of four, placing a premium on the top TD-throwing QBs. This makes selecting a QB in Round 1 more reasonable. In the B/R Writers’ Mock Draft, I selected Tom Brady with the 10th pick overall as the league awarded six points for passing TDs.
Tip No. 2: Stay Ahead of Position Runs
A way to maintain a competitive advantage from any draft position is to stay ahead of strings of picks at one position. By position runs I mean a block of picks that includes a strong majority of players at the same position such as 4-of-5, 5-of-7 or 6-of-8.
As a majority of owners fill spots at the same position, they are less likely double up on that position the next time around—meaning you can wait to fill that spot on your roster and get ahead by going in a different direction.
The one exception: It is advisable to end a string of picks with the last player in a tier at his position.
Tip No. 3: Depth at RB Is Key in 2012
There are few proven stud RBs this season that don’t come with question marks. The best of the group (Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy) will probably be the first three off the board. A number of players coming off injuries (Darren McFadden, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson) or rookies (Trent Richardson, Doug Martin) will be starters on fantasy squads.
The best way to fight the question marks is to have three or more RBs who are starters or potential starters on their NFL teams.
There is a lot of young talent at WR right now, and there are easily 25 guys who could finish in the top 10 for WR fantasy scoring, grabbing a backup RB before filling up your starting WR spots wouldn’t be a bad move.
Also, if you fail to land an elite QB, you can fill your roster with three or four RBs before selecting your starting QB.
Tip No. 4: Draft Players You Like Watching
If you hate the players on your team, you’re probably not going to have much fun tracking your fantasy team. That’s why you should create a short list of two to four players that you will reach for. If you like your team, you are more likely to pay attention to the details in your fantasy management as well.
Also, if you’re in a league with the same people every year, figure out what players they target or have targeted in the past. This can help you project how your draft might unfold, especially in the early rounds.
Tip No. 5: Keep in Mind Other Teams’ Needs
As the draft progresses, teams will fill their positional needs at different rates. Looking over each team’s needs before your pick will give you a good idea what distribution of positions will be selected before your pick in the following round.