by The Buzz Contributor Ryan Racicot
As this year’s fantasy football season comes to an end you may be asking yourself why did I not make the playoffs or why did I lose in the first round? Fantasy football is a game where even the most seasoned and skilled players still need a little bit of luck mixed in with some great strategy and commitment throughout the season to become a champion. If you have been playing for a few years now and have not had much luck, it is time to review the season to see what worked and what you might want to try and improve on next year.
Now is the time to go back to the beginning on the season and look at your draft. Did you feel confident after you drafted your team that you had a great mix of players and back up options? During the draft, the first 7-8 rounds are fairly easy, and you will have a large selection of great players to pick from. However, because of injuries not even a “sure thing” works out every time. In most leagues this year, 3 of the first 6 picks this year missed significant time due to injury. Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Michael Thomas were each picked to be a workhorses and score you big points every single week. This year in a Points Per Reception (PPR) league they have about 150 points combined, for the season. A far cry from the production you were hoping for. However, this is not something you could have avoided or predicted, do not blame yourself and move on.
Not every draft pick has to score 25 points every week to help you win. We know that quarterbacks score the most points every week because they have the ball and dictate the offense. In looking back at your draft, did you pick up your quarterback in the second or third round? If you are out of the playoffs and watching from the side lines that might have been too early. The top 4 fantasy QB’s after week 14 are Kyler Murry (total of 336 points), Patrick Mahomes (333), Russell Wilson (321), and Aaron Rodgers (318). When being drafted, only Patrick Mahomes went in the first or second rounds. In contrast, Rodgers went about 10 rounds later in most drafts and he has put up only 15 points less that Mahomes. If you had picked Rodgers over Mahomes in the draft you would have had the opportunity to pick up another RB1 (Nick Chubb, Joe Mixon, Josh Jacobs), WR1 (Tyreek Hill, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins), or TE1 (Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews) for your team. The first few rounds of a draft are a great way to build a solid core for your team’s season so I would suggest waiting on a QB. Every year there are always a few QB’s that surface out of nowhere to become league winners for some teams.
In the later part of the draft, wait on your quarterback but draft a second one so you are not putting all your eggs into one basket. Who knows, you might pull an Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Tanehill, or Tom Brady and avoid being screwed over by your higher picks of Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, or Cam Newton. Later in the draft you should have all your starters in place except for your team defense which you will not be drafting until the very last round if at all. Unless there is a rule saying you must draft a defense, why would you? If you are playing against a league of 12 people and all of them draft 2 defenses that would still leave you with 10 teams that were available. The top defenses will not always score the most points each week and that even a bad defense can have a good week against the right opponent. Your last rounds should not just be picks you waste. You want to go into this upcoming year and every year with the intention of making smart picks from draft day to the championship. You want to look for someone who has high upside and the potential for points at some point this season. A team’s depth chart will show some potential good players that will have great opportunity. The biggest statistic to look for is projected touches of the ball either rushing attempts or targets keeping in mind that the running back could have both. Remember the more times a player has the ball, the more points they have the potential to get.
After the draft, make sure you keep up with how your team is doing and if there is anyone who needs to be replaced from your team because of injury or for someone better. Most leagues run waivers Tuesday nights and the first few weeks are important. NFL teams have just begun to figure out what they have on the field and your team is no different. Use your Free Agent Budget (FAB) to bid on players early in the season to get the most bang for your buck. Mike Davis was a waiver wire bid in most leagues after week 2. If you spent $25 and won, that means you have been able to use him for the last 11 weeks at $2.27 per week. And with CMC not likely to come back it might be an even better value at $1.78 for the season. Bidding on a player in week 15, gives you 2-3 weeks with him. If you bid $25 this week on Jalen Hurts and he plays the next 2 weeks, it cost substantially more at $12.50 a week. Use your FAB budget, you cannot take it home at the end of the year and you will not get any points for having the most money left at the end of the season.
Keep in mind the draft is only part of the season and even with a poor draft things can turn around. Even making a few small changes next year can have a big impact on making your team a contender in the playoffs instead of playing in the loser’s bracket. Remember when you are drafting you can not predict injuries. With 32 starting quarterbacks you can wait to pick your quarterback to the later rounds just make sure you grab two. Team defenses also are immune to injury so you can wait to the last pick of your draft. Make sure you are using your FAB and staying active picking up emerging players off the waiver wire. A little follow through and attention to your team will have you in the hunt for a championship each year and cheering every Sunday.
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