Top 5 Mistakes Everyone Makes in Fantasy Football Drafts

The Top 5 Mistakes Everyone Makes In Fantasy Football Drafts

fantasy football draft 2017

It’s that time of the year again when you look at your favorite sites, check the rankings, scratch off who you want to avoid and find your later round sleepers you want to aim for. Yet, as you do this so does everyone else and come draft day things will not go as you planned nor as your exhibition draft predicted. When things force us to change how to we think on the fly or change our strategy it can make us take chances we normally wouldn’t. What I want to do is give you the 5 pitfalls that seem to come about every draft that everyone has made at least once, in the hopes to help you avoid them in this wild 2017 season we have coming up. All rankings discussed are based on’s rankings in July.


  1. Stop Worrying Too Much About Running Back

Every “fantasy guru” will tell you to draft running backs early when possible and that taking a top end running back on a bad team can be a boon. Think Isiah Crowell, Jordan Howard, Todd Gurley and Lamar Miller (unproven offense) for examples of good RBs on bad teams. The issue here is where you draft them you could likely get a more productive player with that pick. Let’s look at Isiah Crowell, a player who has shot up draft boards due to having a good 2016 where he amassed 1.271 total yards, 7 TDs and 40 receptions. Crowell has entered the top 25 of nearly every fantasy rankings list out there and I will say that he has mostly earned it. Crowell is talented and probably the best current talent on that Browns offense, but while he will get 900 yards rushing, which is nice, there is better value being drafted right after him. Crowell is ranked 25th right now, but just after him (within 15 picks) you have Brandin Cooks, Alshon Jeffrey, Tom Brady and Travis Kelce. Kelce is a top tier tight end and, personally, ranked my #1 tight end simply due to Gronkowski never being able to stay healthy.


There are a slew of running backs and ones in the later rounds as well to choose from, more than you usually expect. Running backs like Tevin Coleman, Bilal Powell, Frank Gore, Danny Woodhead and Theo Riddick are all available a bit later and some way later. A lot of leagues are played with a PPR (points per reception) format nowadays which increases the value of a lot of 3rd down backs or backs that are receiving specialists. Think Shane Vereen or Darren Sproles; these utility backs have high value in part because they can rake in a free 6 or 7 points just from receptions. The only two backs that are as valuable, or more valuable, than the top end wideouts are David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell (when healthy/not suspended) because they bring in a slew of receptions along with their elite rushing ability. They are both focal points of their respective offenses. Ezekiel Elliott could make it to that level too, but let’s see more than one season first.


To sum it up for you, there are talented running backs with loads of opportunity outside the first 2 or 3 rounds and you should instead attempt to get the best available player early. If it happens to be a top end running back then it’s worth it, but for everyone out there who cashed in well on Zeke, there are several who drafted Jamal Charles, Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley and were burned from the get go. Getting a top tier tight end or QB can give you an edge whereas a running back’s production on about 28 teams is determined by numerous factors that a running back has no control over. Take this into account when you hear everyone clamor for running backs early.


  1. No, You Don’t Have Any Insider Information

Remember how I was talking about Isiah Crowell a paragraph or two ago? Yeah, everyone that is saying he is a sleeper pick has made him NOT a sleeper pick anymore. Unless you work in the front office of an NFL team or are related to someone that does, you have no information that will truly give you an edge. Isiah Crowell should be just inside the top 40 or 50 picks. Yet because everyone wouldn’t shut the hell up about him, while every fantasy specialist at ESPN, Yahoo and CBS kept touting him, it has shot him up 15 to 20 picks which is about 2 full rounds of difference. Crowell is a great sleeper steal in the 5th, 6th or 7th round, but is NOT a steal in the 2nd or 3rd. The term sleeper has become a lot like the video game industry’s use of the term epic… you over use it which renders it damn near meaningless.


Everyone has a top 150 list, albeit from their outlet of choice, and truly the only difference between you and your league mates is a preference in players and where you pick at. Maybe you like to grab a pair of top end QBs to have trading power, or you prefer to grab the 3 or 4 best available running backs or you do defense early or kicker early. Anyway you put it; you are all on equal footing for the most part. I lucked into Michael Vick and Arian Foster the one season where they both went bananas. That wasn’t my amazing prediction nor my delving into the schemes of each offense. I merely needed a fourth running back and a back-up QB and got lucky with striking gold. My point here is not to go in assuming you are the only one aiming at Isiah Crowell, Michael Crabtree, Marcus Mariota or any other player who is getting hyped from Reddit to Twitter. Anything you read on Yahoo, a league mate has probably read. If you listen to a fantasy podcast, your whole league probably does as well. Fantasy sports are a billion dollar industry and everyone wants an edge. Unless of course you are purposely aiming to draft Ameer Abdullah in which case you are on your own.


There is no reason to adhere solely to the rankings you see as you draft. If you want a player that is 12 or so picks away, then take them! A big issue that people talk themselves into is that it is a bad move to draft a player outside of the next 5 ranked players or so. Avoid that thought process and take whomever you like at your pick. If you want to draft Spencer Ware 10 picks early then do it, cause he will most likely not be there the next time around.


  1. Rookie Rule of 1

Each year the first two rounds of the NFL Draft immediately turn into a fantasy discussion. Right now everyone is hoping to find the next Zeke without realizing that Zeke had the perfect situation. I won’t say not to draft Leonard Fournette, but I have avoided all Jags backs since Maurice Jones-Drew was a thing. Fournette is currently ranked as a 2nd round pick and wshhhhhew that’s a high price to pay for a Jags back.


Rookies are definitely hit and miss because it always depends on their situation. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott landed in perfect situations with a great offensive line. Jared Goff landed in the middle of a losing war where his offensive line was made up of turnstiles and Milky Way wrappers. Rookie quarterbacks are almost always a no-no since the teams they land on are usually bad or weak on quality personnel. Rookie running backs and wideouts can be good, but the keyword is can. Don’t trust that just because Christian McCaffery will go in as a duel RB/WR threat that he could make an immediately impact when that offense was dreadful last season as Cam Newton was targeted heavily and they lack any real deep field threat unless you think the fat version of Kelvin Benjamin can run 30 yards without getting winded. There is no reason to take Fournette and McCaffery together and thus the “Rookie Rule of 1” is what I call it.


  1. Top 5 Quarterbacks are Insanely Valuable

Last season how many quarterbacks broke 300 fantasy points? 5 did, Rodgers, Ryan, Bress, Luck, Cousins. How many running backs? Only 1 in David Johnson, however I will say that Bell would pass 300 with a full season as well. How many of every other position? None. Yes, you can only start a single quarterback (in most leagues), but that position can make your season. Having a top 5 QB 16 out of 17 weeks can make or break your season. Running back goes about 36 deep till you get sub-100 points. Hell, even Matt Asiata had over 100 points for the 2016 season. Only 3 wideouts, (Evans, Nelson, Brown) had over 200 points total with OBJ sitting just outside at 195 points.


While everyone is going crazy for running backs there is no reason to skip out, especially if you are a later pick in the first round, on Aaron Rodgers. And before you say you can get the same production from Matt Stafford later in the draft, news flash, you can’t. Stafford scored just over 100 points less than Rodgers. Would you want to go ahead and take a free extra 100 points? I would.


The top end quarterback is dreadfully underappreciated in fantasy and generally to the detriment of players. You hear every mouthpiece from Yahoo to ESPN and back talk about running backs and wideouts and that’s about it. Excuse me as I partially quote former WCW United States Champion, Raven as I say, “what about me? What about Rodgers?”


If we switch to PPR format, since I know most people do that a lot, then David Johnson is the highest scorer with 407.8 points. Who is sitting at number 2? BAH GAWD THAT’S AARON RODGERS MUSIC! In fact, of the top 15 scorers in PPR format, 6 of them are quarterbacks. Rodgers, Ryan and Brees all scored more than Bell, Zeke and Antonio Brown. It is about a 100 point difference between Rodgers, Brees, Brady and Ryan and those who decide to put it off and take Russ Wilson, Rivers, Winston, Palmer and Roethlisberger. That 100 point difference can make or break a team and, let’s be real, unless you have the #1 or #2 pick you need that extra 100 points from a quarterback. Rodgers, for all intents and purposes, is a top 5 pick realistically. If you are on the latter end of the first round taking Rodgers is a no-brainer slam dunk. Don’t overrate that obsession with running backs and skip out on a top tier quarterback.


fantasy football draft 2017


  1.  Don’t Underestimate Kickers and Defenses

A total of 6 defenses scored over 150 points, averaging 10 plus points a week. The Vikings, Cardinals, Eagles, Chiefs, Broncos and Patriots all averaged 10 points per week with the Giants coming in close at 9.4 per week. A good defense can give you an edge week in and week out and though not a sexy pick up early in rounds, the Vikings alone scored more than the every running back below rank 22 at the end of the 2016 season. A good defense, especially one that can score defensive touchdowns, can cover up deficiencies in your running backs or wideouts. It can win you a week at times.


Now, kickers… the most hated upon player in real football and fantasy football. What do you think of them? Do you laugh when someone takes a kicker in the 7th round? You shouldn’t because the top 2 kickers last season outscored all, but the top 6 wideouts and all but the top 13 running backs. Matt Bryant scored 179 points and Justin Tucker scored 175 points. In fact, 12 kickers scored 140 points or more. 24 total kickers scored over 100 points in 2016. Basically, if you lose out on a top 9 tight end you can replace those missing points with a low end kicker instead.


The kicker position is under-valued artificially without realizing that a great kicker that can knock in long field goals can outscore your QB or top end RB at times. Extra points add up. If the offense scores 35 points then a kicker knocks in 5 extra points. Add in a pair of under 40 yard field goals at 3 points apiece then you have 11 points from your kicker. This is basically what happened with Bryant while Tucker had a cannon leg and could make 40 yarders all day. A top end kicker is a better investment than Gronkowski or Kelce. That is a fact. Travis Kelce scored 138 points, which is just 2 more points than Dolphins kicker Jason Myers, a kicker you know so little about that you didn’t realize he actually kicks for the Jaguars.


What I am trying to say here is that someone like Justin Tucker or Matt Bryant are reliable legs who will have optimal amounts of opportunity at points. Taking a really good kicker on an offense that sputters is basically why Sebastian Janikowski was a god tier fantasy kicker for almost a decade. Drafting a kicker early is a far more sure bet than drafting a 4th wideout or running back, but the problem is the surety. It’s boring. We like risk and taking risks in fantasy. “What if” should be the banner for fantasy sports in general. The lack of love for a top end kicker is especially funny when you think about how guaranteed some of them are. Tucker is, right now, the best overall kicker in the game. Matt Bryant is right behind him just by a tick, but having either of them gives you a nearly guaranteed 10 free points.


Over-looking 10 points per week from either a kicker or defense is something that everyone does. Is drafting the second string running back on a number of teams a better move than taking a starting defense or top end kicker? In my opinion, no. That’s why I look at Justin Tucker and believe he is worth taking a round or two early depending on who is available.

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