Going Against the Grain
You know what I've always tried to do and have had success with
in drafting my fantasy football teams over the last dozen years?
Going against what other people are doing. It really does tend to
be a good path to success. Others zig, so you zag. Here are some
- Everyone is drafting RB heavy: Go get a stud WR, maybe two.
- No one wants to pay for a stud TE with an early pick: Do
- Everyone is waiting as long as possible to draft a QB: Hey,
the most talented QBs are actually worth a hefty premium (I
was admittedly a bit slow on this last one).
Some would call this simply staying ahead of the curve. Some
people have legitimate instincts for predicting what is coming
next. Me? If I had a superior grasp on seeing the future, I think
I'd apply it to other walks of life, like the stock market, currency
futures or straight up betting on the NFL (more immediate payouts
than fantasy football).
I may not be able to predict the future—or at least want
to claim that—but I am able to assess how the majority is
drafting, which helps me alter my own draft strategy to take advantage
of gaps in value others may be overlooking.
Problem: 2012. It seems there is no single top strategy to fantasy
success these days.
We have any of four positions being drafted in the first round.
The stud TE became the super-stud TEs (two of them) and don't
typically make it through two rounds. The top-tier QBs are gobbled
up quickly. Some say you must have a stud QB to compete. Some
are still willing to wait. The RB position is thin this year,
so more risk has to be taken in trying to find one who earns enough
weekly touches (and can be productive with them). The WR position
is deep, but drafters still won't let a star WR pass them by,
knowing how important those reception points are.
It seems there is less rigid positional strategy than there ever
was, and owners are drafting positions in almost any combination
through the first four or five rounds to form the core of their
team. So if my desire is to go against what others are doing,
what is that exactly?
Well, with the last in the series of mock drafts I participated
in this summer, I pulled an off-the-wall though not necessarily
recommended draft approach that is the complete opposite of what
most fantasy "experts" are recommending this year. I
didn't plan it going in, as you'll see from the pick commentary
below. The draft just evolved into an opportunity to try something
So…RB thin, WR deep? If that is what everyone is spouting,
then let's turn it on its ear and go whole hog at WR and mine
for gold at RB—where potential landmines litter the field
anyway because of injuries and starters being usurped by the team's
next unsung plug-and-play option. Shanahanigans, indeed.
Note that this is a point-per-reception scoring league where
you start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex RB/WR/TE, 1 K, and 1
DEF. I was assigned the fourth pick in the draft, just as I was
two months ago. For a more traditional approach to drafting from
this spot, check out that draft.
For this one, I ended up waiting to draft my first RB until .
. . here it comes . . . the sixth round! My draft went WR-WR-WR-WR-TE-RB-RB-QB
through eight rounds.
Again, I'm not necessarily recommending this approach by any
means; it is extremely risky and offers practically no flexibility
late in the draft. Sometimes you have to stretch the bounds of
common sense, though, just to see how it might turn out. This
is just a game after all, so why not have some fun with it?
And strangely enough, I'm surprisingly happier with this team
than I thought I was going to be when I decided to go down this
path. Yes, the RBs are rather pathetic, but heck, look at those
receivers! Have fun with your own fantasy draft, and best of luck
- Images courtesy of the Draft
1.04: WR Calvin
I am pretty tempted to go with an RB given the perceived depth
at WR versus RB this year, but Madden curse be damned, I'll take
Megatron because he is so dominant at his position.
2.09: WR Andre
There are a lot of different directions I could go here. WR-WR
to start isn't at the top of people's strategies this year—more
like a Plan C or D—but I like Andre Johnson quite a bit,
while I'm more even on the available RBs. I'd rather wait at QB.
I'm loath to leave that second stud TE for one of the guys who
got a top 3 RB already, but c'est la vie. Short of getting Jimmy
Graham, I'd rather wait at TE, too.
3.04: WR Roddy
I was hoping for Jamaal Charles to fall here. And as a Bills
fan, I've got too much pent-up angst against Marshawn Lynch to
trust him with even the smallest of red flags next to his name
on my cheatsheet. White’s not a sexy pick, but he’s
a reliable, high-target guy who people are writing off a little
too soon as we're all wowed by the young guy, Julio Jones.
4.09: WR Demaryius
Remember that old game show, Press Your Luck? Feels like I'm
playing that right now with this mock draft. I know I should be
taking an RB here, or a QB or a TE. I had an RB queued up, with
the write-up ready to go and everything. And then I thought...
what if? Thomas looks really tempting. How is this going to turn
out if I grab my Flex starter—another WR—and then
still need to fill the other skill positions later? I'll take
a hit at RB no doubt, but if I remember last year, in half of
these drafts a bunch of my RBs didn't last the season anyway.
Okay, lets find out. No whammies!
5.04: TE Antonio
I had Michael Turner, Michael Vick and a pair of TEs pre-drafted
at this pick—in reverse order. Gates was my number one choice,
although it was really dead even between him and Aaron Hernandez.
Already certain I'm going to get raked over the coals for this
draft, I'm not going to settle for an average RB in Turner (had
he made it) or C.J. Spiller just to finally address the position.
I'd rather get players capable of being the best at their position
while they are still available, of which Gates, Hernandez and
Vick fit the bill.
6.09: RB Kevin
Smith surprised everyone when he was pulled off the street midseason
last year and performed well. Off the street, people! Now look
at him: the last guy standing from a trio that included Jahvid
Best and Mikel Leshoure to start the season, and with a full training
camp under his belt. Smith showed his talent as a rookie and has
clearly rededicated himself to the game with his comeback. His
staying healthy has always been a concern, but with so many pros
in his favor—talent, opportunity, high-powered offense,
pass-catching ability—he is a good bet to produce what I
need, and perhaps then some. I’m happy getting him at this
point in the draft when RB pickings are slim.
7.04: RB Donald
With two of the three teams to the left of me passing at QB,
I can pass as well and wait until the next round. Of course I
have my preferences at QB, and anything could happen in this draft,
but playing the odds, I should be in line for a good starter.
This allows me to keep digging for a decent RB after my early
WR hoarding. Donald Brown—yeah, never been a big fan—has
the opportunity to put up some numbers and is a good pass catcher.
He's the most experienced running back on the Colts, and the team
should lean on him to protect their new prized asset. He's a worthwhile
bet at this price.
8.09: QB Ben
Not the QB I was hoping for on the way back, but I’m still
pretty satisfied with Roethlisberger as a late-drafted starter.
He's got a trio of good receivers, now that Wallace is expected
back, and the running game looks like a bit of a mess—plus
the defense is showing its age. Big Ben could be in line for more
passing attempts than we are accustomed to seeing from him. Here
is to hoping his stats trend upward, too, and that his body can
handle the wear and tear—a legitimate concern, for sure.
9.04: RB Cedric
I’m not loving this pick, but I've backed myself into a
corner here in having to take an RB, and Benson seems like a reasonable
risk at this point compared to the other options.
10.09: RB Kendall
The 49ers backfield is crowded, but Hunter looks willing and
able to make a strong contribution. I don't expect much from Brandon
Jacobs—and this pick was made prior to learning of Jacobs'
injury. I’m happy to add Hunter as an RB4, given the strength
of the San Francisco running game and the need to limit Gore's
carries to keep him healthy.
11.04: QB Matt
I could wait for my backup QB a little longer, but with Big Ben
as my starter, I should acquire one a little earlier than I otherwise
would, plus Schaub seems to be a little undervalued right now.
The Texans will be a top contender in the AFC, and Schaub should
be in position to put up some strong numbers as a result.
12.09: WR Alshon
Time to add my first WR since Round 4. Pickings are pretty slim
at this point, but I'll take a chance on this rookie, who has
two pretty good preseason games under his belt and should start
ahead of Devin Hester and Earl Bennett. With opposing defenses
paying a lot of attention to Brandon Marshall, Jay Cutler should
be able to find Jeffery a fair bit.
I think Keller is going to have a hard time making the Pro Bowl
in the same conference with Gronk, Hernandez and Gates, among
others, but he is the poster boy for the tried and (sometimes)
true "Well, someone has to catch the ball" fantasy football
theory. Hopefully Sanchez/Tebow can keep up their end of the bargain
and the Jets average more than three points a game this season.
14.09: RB Bilal
From a handful of boom-or-bust prospects available, I've still
got to lean toward RB since I'm more set at WR. Powell gets the
nod as the one I least want to let slip away. This is a reach
for him here, but he's had a strong camp and I feel he will be
next in line if the Jets decide to switch out Shonn Greene.
15.04: QB Christian
16.09: WR Emmanuel
17.04: DEF Arizona Cardinals
18.09: K TBD
19.04: DEF TBD
20.09: K TBD