Late Round Draft Strategies

Draft Strategy

Many people go into a draft with some basic strategy of who they plan on picking for the first few rounds. Whether they have their favorite players or like to pick RB’s first, or WR’s, etc.

Some strategies are typically based on position scarcity, perceived value and a desire to formulate a somewhat balanced team. But what happens when your half way through your draft and everyone executed their draft plan as best they can?

Most people’s draft strategies fall apart halfway through and in the second half of some drafts have no strategy or reason as to what they are going to do. Fantasy owners end up looking to fill out rosters with random guys they’ve had on their teams before, or guys from their favorite NFL team. Its these later rounds that an strewd owner can often separate himself or herself from the pack by drafting guys with upside or protecting against the chance of injuries to your starters. Im going to show you four tips that will give you the edge you need in those later rounds.

1. Take Fliers on Young/High-Upside Players

Tight end Zach Ertz should be on your late-round radar.
If you’re like most people, you are probably taking a cheat sheet to your draft with a list of players based solely on someone else’s projected fantasy points, you may end up with a bench full of veterans if you pick soley based on a player’s name.. And, while having a few veterans like Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin or DeAngelo Williams can certainly give your team some stability, it limits your teams upside. Think about this, Eddie Lacy, Zac Stacy, Andre Ellington, Alshon Jeffery,Keenan Allen, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jordan Cameron andJulius Thomas, all had breakout seasons in 2013 and most were in second half. If you’re like me and hit on atleast one of them, it likely catapolted your team to another level.
Here are a few rules for late round picks:
1. Take some chances. Especially if you’re playing in a keeper or dynasty league!
2. The whole second half of your draft should be fliers minus maybe one or two “safe” backup picks. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

RB: Take Carlos Hyde, Andre Williams, Terrance West and Devonta Freeman over running backs like Darren McFadden, Shonn Greene, Chris Ivory, Jonathan Stewart and Knowshon Moreno.

WR: Take Terrance Williams, Kelvin Benjamin, Sammy Watkins and Kenny Stills over wide receivers like Greg Jennings, Hakeem Nicks, and Steve Smith.

TE: Take Zach Ertz, Ladarius Green, and Dennis Pitta over tight ends like Antonio Gates, Heath Miller and Jared Cook.

Note: The one position I didn’t include here was quarterback. If you’re going to take a flier on a young/high upside quarterback who hasn’t yet established himself, make sure he’s your No. 2 or 3 quarterback and not your starter. Rookie quarterbacks rarely break out, which leads to consideration No. 2.

2. Obtain an Upper-Tier Backup Quarterback

In recent years, the quarterback position has become deeper for fantasy purposes. This year there’s a big difference between the top-tier “backup” quarterbacks and the lower-tier backups. Let me be more specific: Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, and Andy Dalton are significantly better than Ryan Tannehill, Alex Smith, and Joe Flacco . You can find wide receivers on the waiver wire throughout the course of a season, but once the draft is over, you’re basically stuck at quarterback barring a trade. If your starter goes down or is struggling like Tom Brady did last year, it could be a season-killer unless you’ve got a quality backup quarterback. Just a side note here, Dalton and Rivers were actually in the top five at the position last year in most scoring formats (8,800 yards and 65 touchdowns combined). Although coaching changes this season (Jay Gruden and Ken Whisenhunt are now head coaches elsewhere and not coordinators) have led to a drop in their respective values, having them on your team could be invaluable.

3. Draft Running Backs Who Backup Players with Health Risks

The term “handcuffing.” Gets talked about every year, so its nothing new to most fantasy football owners, but it is still a vital late-round drafting strategy with respect to one position and one position only: running back. If Calvin Johnson gets injured during the season, for example, it’s highly unlikely that his backup is going to beable to fill his shoes in such a way to put up the numbers Johnson puts up. Its much harder to replace wide receivers on NFL teams. Running backs on the other hand, if you have a good offensive line, it can make even a marginal player into a productive fantasystarter. That’s why it’s a good idea not only to handcuff, but look to draft running backs who back up injury prone guys such as Steven Jackson, Arian Foster, etc. Keeping that in mind, here are the running backs (top 25 or so) with the most and least health risk entering the 2014 season:
Level Two Risk (Running backs whose health is MOST concerning): Arian Foster, Ben Tate., DeMarco Murray, Doug Martin, Reggie Bush, C.J. Spiller, Ryan Mathews.

Level One Risk (Running backs whose health is LEAST concerning): LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, Giovani Bernard

You should look to draft players like: Terrance West (CLE), Jonathan Grimes (HOU), Lance Dunbar (DAL), Bryce Brown(BUF), Donald Brown (SD), and Bobby Rainey (TB). All of which make really nice late-round targets, even if you don’t have the guys starting in front of them on your roster.

Suggestions, comments, or questions? E-mail me.