If you have not read my previous article on fantasy football draft day strategy, please do so before continuing to read this one. If you have already read the previous article, you have now graduated to my advanced training.
The last four rounds of a fantasy football draft can give you the ability to win your league. These four picks can be nasty, vindictive, or simple self-defense picks, all depending on your strategy and perspective.
Most of you who attend live drafts at a specific location are usually too intoxicated to even see the draft board by the last four rounds. While you are wasted, people like me are capitalizing on your early draft selections. Dispensing this advice will probably come back to haunt me in my own leagues I participate in, most notably Midwest Sports Fans’ Fantasy Football League, as my guerilla warfare tactics will now be used against me.
My guidelines are simple, and are keys to winning in your league.
1. Protect—Self preservation is key. If you draft a top 20 player, or a very good player who has a strong back up, you better buy insurance, meaning: draft the back up. If you do not follow this guideline, which appropriately is listed first, see what will happen to you in No. 2.
2. Plot—Not only should you have your draft mapped out, like a well designed battle plan, but you should take careful notes on what teams appear strong based on the way the draft unfolded. You know, the team you look at on the board and say, “how in the hell did he get all of those players?” You are left wondering if he was at the same draft your currently in.
Lets face it, injuries are part of the game, you know they are going to happen. It’s only a matter of who and when. Take his backups, and then wait for when a top notch starter goes down with an injury, especially season ending, and owners flock to the waiver wire. You will have made the waiver wire a non-option for owners by grabbing the backup in the draft and then waiting patiently for what you know is going to happen sooner or later. If your opponent is not smart enough to “protect” his assets, stick it to him.
This strategy does have a down side though. If your league counts bench points in ties to determine a win, their weekly “0″ in the points column blows, but when the “Matt Cassel 2008″ is inserted into the lineup when the starter goes down, the team with the injured starter is left scrambling while you reap the benefits of skillful drafting.
3. Gamble—This is something that you are doing in No. 2. If you are not backing up your own starter for insurance purposes, but rather a starter on another team, you are gambling on another starter having an injury.
Drafting a rookie is also a gamble. With the exception of a few rookies a year, drafting a rookie usually leads to an inconsistent, mostly non-productive player. But sometimes you can strike gold with a late-round gamble on a rookie who will get consistent playing time.
I took Matt Ryan in the 16th round last year. There were 20 rounds in this league. Matty Ice started for me on numerous occasions last year. If you are capable of drafting starters in the last four rounds, you are setting yourself up for a loaded team with depth, and potential trade bait down the road.
Be daring with these last four picks, just have a purpose and a game plan.
4. Self Evaluate—After the 10th round, you already know where you have screwed yourself. Try to improve yourself at these positions in the next few rounds. If you still are not comfortable with your players at these positions, spend a few of your last round picks on adding depth to your weak spots.
My favorite positions to back up three-deep which most owners never do is the kicker and team defense position. I know you’re asking “why?” If you have two suspect defenses already, this will give you a third option on any given week.
Hopefully one of your three defenses is playing a miserable offense, and that defense will play well above its normal level of play that week. In addition, most defenses will produce some points to some degree, helping your bench points.
The same applies to a kicker. Are your two kickers playing the Ravens and Steelers this week? If so, that sucks for you. If you had a third option, they might be playing the Lions. Kickers will also always produce points, which will again help your bench points. At some point during the season, you will gauge that you will never start one of your three defenses, or one of your three kickers, so off them when you sustain a short term injury to another player.
5. Future—This applies to only keeper leagues. Draft rookies with upsides. Draft backup quarterbacks whose starter is in the last year of his contract. Draft younger backup running backs to warriors whose best days are years behind them. Keep this in mind as well: when you keep them next year, you may lose a the draft pick where they were selected (depending on your league’s rules), so draft this year in later rounds for them to hopefully produce this year, and if not, definitely next.
I still have a few tricks left in my trick bag, but these five guidelines will throw you from worst to first instantly. If I see these tactics deployed against me, I will know where it came from.
If you like what you see, become a fan here for instant updates on new articles, and weekly notes throughout the fantasy football season.
Senior Fantasy Football Writer
* – Matt Ryan photo credit: AtlantaFalcons.com