Fantasy Draft Strategy 101: K.I.S.S! Using Your Brain to Succeed in 2011
If you've played fantasy sports long enough, you've almost certainly had those moments where you put too much thought into a decision regarding your team.
Whether it's deciding who to draft, setting your weekly lineup, or deciding to make that big trade or not, we've all been there!
Now, what if I told you that most of your questions can be answered with a simple K.I.S.S.?
Before I get offers to write for Penthouse, I'm not talking about those big, wet kisses that your grandmother plants on your cheek at your family reunion. I'm talking about the acronym version:
Yes, that K.I.S.S.
Now that we have that cleared up, if you look back at all of those lineup-related questions that made you lose sleep over the years, you may realize that most of those questions could have been solved by using simple logic.
Yesterday, I had a friend of mine text me prior to his draft. Being a novice fantasy footballer, he wanted advice for his upcoming draft. He had the third overall pick in a basic 12-team league.
Instead of just following his cheat sheet and football knowledge, he over-complicated the situation by over-thinking.
By the time he was on the clock and I was through a bottle of aspirin, he ran through around five different scenarios on how his team would look pending on who he drafted third overall.
Instead of simply following his cheat sheets, rolling with the draft, and making an easy pick, he complicated the situation and ended up making a rushed pick which set the tone for the rest of his draft. Odds are, he's not winning his league this season
Obviously, it's advised to come into a draft with a plan on what you want to do. This plan should be simple and non-specific.
For example, part of my plan in my first draft this season was to draft two running backs and a receiver with my first three picks. It didn't matter how I got to that point, as long as I entered the fourth round with two backs and a wideout.
I kept it simple, followed my basic plan and finished with one of the best teams I've had in my 10 years of fantasy football.
By having a basic and simple plan, you leave yourself room to improvise and adapt to what happened before and after your pick. If you come in with an over-complicated plan that leaves little room to improvise, what happens when you start seeing your plan fall apart?
If you get into the mindset where you feel you have to take a certain position in a certain round, you're going to get into trouble while trying to stick with your plan.
That means reaching for players and getting poor value out of your picks because you feel you have to draft a running back in round three.
K.I.S.S. with a draft plan that leaves room for many possible scenarios. Let the draft happen and roll with it.
Deciding your weekly roster is probably the easiest and most common way to get yourself into trouble by over-thinking. A lot of owners make the wrong decision by looking too much into their players' matchup, playing conditions, past performances, etc.
While it's true that you should take those factors into advisement, they shouldn't be the say all/end all to making a choice on who to start or sit.
For example, if Adrian Peterson is going against the top run defense in poor playing conditions, do you sit Adrian Peterson in favor of a No. 3 or 4 back because they're playing indoors against a weak run defense? No. You don't even think about it.
There's some players that should never sit unless they're hurt. I'm amazed by the amount of people who ask if they should sit a Peterson, Johnson, Charles, Manning, Brady, etc. I'll take the best players going against tough match ups over average players with easy match ups. There's a reason why those players are labeled as the best in the game.
The match up, playing conditions, past performances, etc. should only be used for your No. 2 or 3 players or when deciding injury and bye-week replacements.
K.I.S.S. and go with your best players every week. Lose with your best roster rather than lose because you left your top player on the bench when they ended up having a great week.
Deciding who to retain in a keeper league is almost more important than the draft itself. Usually when you keep a player, you lose a pick in the round in which the keeper was taken the year before.
With that being said, don't over-think the process.
I had someone ask me if they should keep Matt Schaub, Kevin Kolb, or Adrian Peterson because a lot of the top quarterbacks were going to be retained.
That's an example of over-thinking to the extreme.
How many mid-level quarterbacks on the level of Matt Schaub are out there? How many Adrian Petersons are floating around the league? If the question was between Peterson and a player like Mike Vick, then you're going to have to make a tough decision.
If you feel that a player can help your team and you don't see a suitable replacement falling to you in the draft, keep that player. What would be the point in keeping a lesser player because you think the other owners in the league are going to keep the top players at one position?
Though quarterback is an important position, it's only one position. You're not going to get the best player in each position.
K.I.S.S. and retain players who are going to help your team. Take note on who the other owners are keeping, but don't feel you have to keep a certain player because other owners are going for that position.
Outside of trading, the biggest and most common way to improve your team outside of the draft is to play the waiver wire. Almost every week, there's hot players to pick up and cold players to drop. It's a never-ending process.
If you think there's a player on the waiver wire who can help your team, don't over-think the process and pick him up. If you really think that player is going to help your team, grab him before someone else and figure out the rest when you have to.
Some owners may think that helping simply means to have them on your roster. Helping in my book is that if there's a chance he's going to play. I don't want anyone on my team who I don't think is going to contribute
On the other hand, if a player isn't doing anything for your team aka sitting on your bench, why keep him on it? The purpose of having a bench is to have effective players ready to go if you need them.
If you're sitting on a player that isn't doing anything, drop him. Don't over-think it because he may have a favorable schedule later in the season. If he isn't doing anything, say goodbye and look to pick him up later.
Also, don't start thinking about the different consequences that may pop up when making the decision. You know, the "if I pick this guy up, what if the player I drop starts to play well" feeling you may get when making roster moves. Have confidence in every move you make.
In today's technology age, odds are if you have a tip on a player being promoted due to injuries or poor play, the other managers have the same information. You have to be quick on the trigger.
Sitting back and thinking too much about the potential move can be the difference between landing the player or losing out on him.
K.I.S.S. and pick up players if they're going to help your team regardless of what your team is looking like. On the other hand, get rid of the dead weight.
Now that you have some basic ideas on how to keep the fantasy game simple, go out there and K.I.S.S. your way to the top of the league!
Dan Carey is a sports/sports-humor writer at www.BleacherReport.com.
He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on TWITTER: @DC4MVP
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