Tailoring Your Draft Strategy to Take Advantage of Your League’s Rules

by: Chris Rito

Editor's Note: Below you will find more a good portion of the more than 5,000 total words in this special article. If you'd like to read the entire piece, please click HERE to order our 2017 Pre-Season Draft Guide.

To any of you reading this article, it comes as no surprise that you should adjust your fantasy football rankings and fantasy football cheat sheets based on the type of scoring system in which you play. For example, every site worth a hoot will publish separate fantasy football cheat sheets for both PPR and non-PPR leagues, so there clearly is a difference in how players are ranked within their positional list. That’s the easy thing to do, and a necessary first step when one is preparing to play in any league. But that is not all there is to it. An often overlooked facet of drafting in any league is the way it should impact your overall fantasy football draft strategy. Too many fantasy owners modify their fantasy football cheat sheets with great care, precision and thought… and then follow the same old plan they would use for any other league, often blindly take RBs with the first two selections. It’s imperative that you look at your overall fantasy football rankings (i.e., across all positions) and see where your projections lead you; many players only look at their overall fantasy football rankings about 20 players deep and then go position-by-position, based on their own team’s need as the draft progresses. But if you look at your overall rankings, you can start to see how your fantasy football draft strategy should be adjusted right from the start in round 1 to best take advantage of the draft.

For the purposes of this discussion, I will assume that the "standard" lineup and scoring system is a 10-to-12 team, non-PPR league in which you select your weekly starting lineup, and that the lineup is QB-RB-RB-WR-WR-WR-TE-K-D. This is the basis from which I will start and to which I will make my comparisons, understanding that your league is probably different. Actually… the fact that your fantasy football league is different is exactly the point of this article! I start here because this lineup is (as I see it) the most common lineup orientation for much of the last 10 years or so and one which is at least familiar to most FFLers. Starting with that definition and the usual fantasy football drafting strategies that are used, I will share my personal drafting philosophies and how they differ depending on the rules of the league. Also implicit in this discussion is the fact that you must be cognizant of the tiers and overall relative values of the positions and the players; blindly following this advice when there are far more valuable players on the board would be as unwise as blindly following the "Stud RB Theory" regardless of your league rules! I will not cover IDP leagues (that topic will be covered by other expert writers in the premium fantasy football guide) but those styles of leagues also will throw a kink into your fantasy football drafting strategy, and will vary widely depending on the IDP scoring system involved.

PPR leagues

As this is the most common variation from the "standard" lineup and scoring options – and, in fact, may currently even be more common – we will start here. The concept of awarding 1 point for every pass reception does skew individual rankings, but I will not focus on that here; we all know that guys like David Johnson, LeVeon Bell and Devonta Freeman ranked even higher in the last few years in these scoring systems due to the fact that they could pick up 60-80 points on other RBs with similar "total yards" production. The real key here is how does this impact your fantasy football draft strategy?

Let me give you some data, just as a place to start the discussion. I took these point values right from the initial 2017 FFMastermind.com premium fantasy football player rankings straight from the Mastermind Championship Projection (MCP) board. I looked at similar numbers from numerous other sources, and they are all fundamentally in agreement with this trend although the specific numbers obviously differ. Here’s the thing - it doesn’t even matter if the individual players’ predicted fantasy numbers are correct in this case, since the overall trend is all that is important to this argument:

Non-PPR league: PPR league:

(predicted)

2017 points

 

# RB

 

# WR

 

# TE

>100 points

44

58

11

>125 points

27

39

5

>150 points

22

19

2

>200 points

9

4

0

>250 points

5

0

0

(predicted)

2017 points

 

# RB

 

# WR

 

# TE

>150 points

32

59

13

>200 points

17

36

5

>225 points

10

24

3

>300 points

5

3

0

>350 points

2

0

0


The first thing you likely noticed is that the scoring scale is MUCH higher for the PPR league. As such, I had to somewhat arbitrarily define roughly equivalent levels to compare each league (This breakdown kept the tiers at WR and TE fairly constant, so I used these levels). The second thing you likely noticed is that the skewing in the points scored far more significantly impacts the top of the RB chart than it does anywhere else on the WR and TE positions. This might not be intuitively obvious since 99% of WR and TE scoring is done via catching passes, and to see the numbers laid out this way is sometimes surprising. With the continued shift of the NFL to more and more pass-based offenses, the numbers have continued to skew in favor of the WR and TE positions more each year.

The one thing you cannot see from this chart (since I did not include it) is that relative QB scoring is unaffected. Since QB scoring is often so much higher than at other positions, the higher totals make the tiers (as defined) useless for QBs. Also, they obviously do not catch passes unless something has gone horribly wrong, so there would be no difference between the two QB columns in each chart. Since everyone else’s scores go up and QB scoring stays the same, I won’t spend any more words defending this statement: "QBs are devalued in PPR leagues as compared to non-PPR leagues."

Let’s break the rest of these data down further...
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As mentioned atop this release, if you like to read the entire article, please click HERE to order our 2017 Pre-Season Draft Guide.

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