A Simple Plan: One Man's Approach to a Fantasy Draft Strategy

                                                                                                    Rummy on Strategy: The 2012 Draft Plan



Mock drafts. We all do them, grease the wheels of our fantasy minds to ready ourselves for the 16 week grind of the NFL Fantasy Football season. I could bore you with multiple strategies and force you to play "Sophie's Choice" with one of them, but why put you through that hassle? This is the plan I'll attempt to execute in every one of my drafts in the coming year...every damn one. Adjustments will be made like any good defensive coordinator, but the offensive approach is always the preferred approach. You want to put points on the board, and I'm going to show you how with assembling a strong foundation.



1. RB/RB is still the way to go...especially in PPR: You heard correctly.The fact of the matter is, the shelf life of a featured back is painfully short, and the availability of said featured back is dwindling like the "it" toy at Christmas. If you have the opportunity to draft early in the first round (1-4), you can come away with monstrous value with this strategy, grab two featured backs, and focus on even bigger values in subsequent rounds. With backs like Chris Johnson, MJD, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson tumbling down boards for health, holdout, and just plain hysteria, it's certainly plausible that you can come away with two stud backs, even if you're drafting at the middle or tail end of the first round.

If the value is there, stick to this plan, and let the draft come to you. *Note-As ADPs begin to shift as we near late August, it's important to note that some players will rise back up boards, and make it more difficult to go RB/RB, but that is STILL THE GAMEPLAN if the value is there. In the coming weeks I'll highlight more mocks on 2mugsff.com, and you'll begin to see marked changes in ADP. Adjust accordingly.


2. Target Brady or Stafford at QB or Wait on Vick and Ryan: Yep, I'll be that specific. Fact of the matter is, Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers will go late first and early second, and Drew Brees will go not much later. When you consider both Brady and Stafford have no semblance of a running game, and both secondaries are liabilities, the onus is on these machine-like offenses to put up gaudy points each and every Sunday. Michael Vick has dropped to round 5 due to a down year, and you should capiltalize on that fantasy snub. The Iggles haven't lost any of their young offensive weapons, and a year of chemistry under their belts can't hurt.  Matt Ryan now boasts three stud targets in Roddy White, breakout candidate Julio Jones, and of course, the ageless Tony Gonzalez, in what appears to be a potentially huge year for the QB out of Boston College. Ryan's ADP (as of this writing) is late 6th/early seventh round. Just sick value. Of course, you can roll the dice on Roethlisberger and Cutler much later, but Brady, Stafford and Ryan, all get rid of the football quickly, are less likely to end up on their backs 4-5 times a game, and therefore less prone to make decisions that result in point gauging turnovers in fantasy. 


3. The WR position is deep, just ask @FantasyDouche: A while back, our good friend and guest contributor, Frank DuPont, gave detailed reasons why the WR position is particularly deep and therefore unwise to give up early picks when you can get equal value much later in drafts. Players like Antonio Brown, Eric Decker, and Jacoby Ford (covered in our year 3 WR piece) can be had at much later in drafts, when your league mates are scrambling for sub standard #2 RBs. Again, this is a clear cut case of letting the draft come to you, and not chasing position runs or overpaying for players out of desperation. To put a finer point on it, guest contrubutor and podcast guest, @Bryan_Fontaine, also detailed the value of breakout WRs in his piece, "The Lloyd Factor." You can mine gold at WR late, and that will be the key to your fantasy success.



4. Exalt the Tight End as the Number One WR: Players like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham prove that in a pass happy league, a freakish mismatch tight end that towers over the competition, can quickly become the number one WR in a given offense. That doesn't mean you should shoot your load at the end of RD 1 or 2 to add them to your roster. Nor should you jump on fool's gold like Jermichael Finley, who potentially may only be the 3rd best option in the Green Bay offense. The Mugs are currently high on guys like Fred Davis (in a contract year I might add) who could conceivably end up as the number one option for dynamic rookie QB, Robert Griffin III. Jason Witten is scaring off some due to the emergence of Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, but Witten is still a trusted piece of the offense for Tony Romo. His ADP of 8.10 makes him a steal and a strong VBD pickup. Other veteran TEs I really love are Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. Both have absurdly low ADPs, and are being drafted after guys like Aaron Hernandez and Vernon Davis. When you consider Gates is likely the number one once again for Philip Rivers, and Gonzo will likely pull down another 70+ catches and 9TDs, why go ape shit for a TE early? Not a value based move.


5. Don't draft a team defense or kicker unless it's required: When did a team defense or kicker ever win anyone a fantasy championship? I'll give you one guess...NEVER. Too many people run on team recognition and forget the actual fantasy point regressions of teams like the Steelers and Ravens. Me? I prefer to play week to week waiver wire pickups for both kickers and team defense, and instead just max out my roster with skill players first. This allows you to weigh the pros and cons of each player on your roster, and decided what dead weight to chop before you lock in a weekly team defense and kicker. Try it, you'll like it.


To wrap things up, I'm going to show three examples of mock drafts I participated in recently. All of which featured some fantasy draftnik heavyweights, so it was a good primer for the real deals in September...


Drafting from the 2 hole (PPR)- (Late June Expert Draft)

1.2-LeSean McCoy

2.11- Adrian Peterson

3.2- Matthew Stafford

4.11- Jeremy Maclin

5.2- Stevie Johnson

6.11- Fred Davis

7.2- Robert Meachem

8.11- Shane Vereen

9.2- Alshon Jeffery

10.11- Jay Cutler

11.2- Rashad Jennings

12.11- Kyle Rudolph

13.2- Santana Moss

14.11- Tim Hightower

15.2- Austin Collie

16. 11- Chief Defense

17.2- Bengal Defense

18.11- Rob Bironas

19.2- Mike Nugent

20.11- Chris Givens

My strategy in this mock was simple, take a stud PPR back at 1.2, and hope that a great value at RB was there in round two, and solidify my starting rotation. Adrian Peterson is scaring some folks off, but I'd be stunned if he missed more than a handful of games (as of this writing, he's rumored to start on the PUP list, but it doesn't mean he won't be ready early in the season, so monitor closely). In the meantime, I can make due for a few games with a backup. The addition of Riley Reiff is the best gift the Lions could have given Matt Stafford, which is why I went against my usual gameplan, and opted for a QB who throws a ton, and can put tons of points on the board. That put me in the position to take a page out of our good friend @FantasyDouche's book, and attack the WR position in the meatier middle rounds, where the drop off is minimal. Grabbing Stevie Johnson, Jeremy Maclin, Robert Meachem, and my current rookie binky, Alshon Jeffery, made for a high upside group who could all be PPR studs. I waited on a tight end, and opted for undervalued guys like Fred Davis and Kyle Rudolph, who benefit from being in offenses where at least in this man's opinion, there are no true number two WRs. Taking this tact allowed me to take some calculated risks on my bench, and feel pretty safe at the top end of my draft.



In my 2nd expert draft, I was selecting from the 10 spot (Early July Draft) , and it offers an interesting contrast to the first mock, where the RBs were not as plentiful on the turn, and a greater value at WR was presented early. I mixed things up, and the results are mixed.


1.10- Darren McFadden

2.3- Larry Fitzgerald

3.10- Steve Smith (CAR)

4.3- Peyton Manning

5.10- Vincent Jackson

6.3- Fred Davis

7.10- Michael Bush

8.3- Jacob Tamme

9.10- Pierre Thomas

10.3- Alshon Jeffery

11.10- Matt Schaub

12.3- Mike Tolbert

13.10- Randall Cobb

14.3- Jermaine Gresham

15.10- Patriot/ DEF

16.3- Dan Carpenter


As I prefaced earlier, the WR value was there, so I opted to go RB/WR/WR and still felt pretty strong about the overall lineup. Again, even drafting this late, I could have come away with two featured backs in McFadden and Peterson (even with reports of Peterson beginning the year on the PUP list) but tried a different tact. I also could have waited on a QB, and not taken Peyton Manning that high. I think there's better value in guys like Vick and Ryan this year, allowing you the opportunity to stock the roster with WRs and RBs in the middle rounds. My strategy begins to take shape as we jump into the third mock...



Drafting for the 7 hole (Late July Draft) - My last mock is still in progress (I'll post the finished results in a follow-up piece at a later date), and again, the value was not there to take a #2RB with my second pick...

1.7-Matt Forte

2.6- Andre Johnson

3.7- Hakeem Nicks

4.6- Steve Smith (Carolina)

5.7- Jahvid Best

6.6- Matt Ryan

7.7- Fred Davis

8.6- Peyton Hillis

9.7- Jared Cook


As stated earlier, there wasn't the prime value for the 2nd RB on the turn, so instead I took monster WR (in any format) Andre Johnson, and attacked WR thereafter. Nicks and Smith solidified my WR corps, and even at this early in the draft, I'd say I flaunt the best WR corps on the board. Three #1 WRs in succession, classic value based drafting. My strategy then turned to picking up a valuable PPR back as my #2RB. A guy like Sproles comes off the board at the end of round two, while a dynamic talent like Best, in an equally pass happy offense in Detroit (much like New Orleans), is a much better value in the middle of round five. My strategy was to target a QB in the next round, before a run started, and I missed out on the real value. Damn near giddy to get Matt Ryan at 6.6, and my foundation is nearly set at this point. I take Fred Davis in round seven (per my "wait on a TE" advice) and practiced what I preached. A potential PPR monster for RG3, Fred Davis has a chance to truly breakout this year. After I addressed my starters, I added depth at RB with Peyton Hillis. I'm a big Jamaal Charles fan, but Hillis will see his share of goal line work, and could even split carries. A solid value this late. Beating a dead horse at this point, but attaining a high upside TE like Cook, late in the 9th round, presents tremendous value. With Kenny Britt staring at a potential suspension, Cook will likely be the most trusted and athletic target remaining. While I like rookie Kendall Wright in the offense as well, Jake Locker will lean on his TE early and often.


In closing, here's my fantasy draft strategy in a condensed "Cliff Notes" version...


1. Draft RB/RB in Rounds One and Two -ONLY if the value of two featured backs is there, otherwise makes adjustments. My last mock (shown above), cites just that. Exploit value, don't be exploited.

2. Wait on QBs and TEs- Feel strongly that the value just isn't there to go QB in round one. As for TEs, after Gronk and Graham the drop off is inconsiderable at the position. Just wait.

3. Never Chase a Position Due to a Run- If you stick to your plan, you shouldn't have to. A RD early on a QB? Fine. Just never let the anxiety of others force your hand.

4. Unless it's a league requirement, never draft a defense or kicker in your live draft- Play matchups and work the wire. Hold onto your optimum lineup until week one, because you never know if a preseason injury will take down your team. You can always purge a scrub or two to fill the defense and kicker spots...it's that simple.


Remember, build your foundation through your initial draft. While trades are part of the fun of fantasy football, you'd be hard pressed to find a league champ who had a bad draft, made trade after trade, and used the waiver wire like it was going out of style. If you follow this simple plan (adjustments made for scoring formats of course), you'll build a contender. Follow & on Twitter for even more strategy and rankings updates. Cheers!