Draft Strategies Experiment, Playoff Time

One of the things that people fret over in August is their fantasy football draft strategy. Should I take a wide receiver first, or am I dumb not to grab a running back due to scarcity. Can I draft Gronk with my first round pick and still have a great team? When should I take quarterbacks?

The assumption is always that these decisions will make or break a team in the season. I drafted a team in four different leagues, each using one of these strategies. For control, they were identical 10-team, PPR leagues. My commitment has been to aggressively manage each squad during the season, as I would any team, to see where advantages lie.

We’ve reached the post-season, so it’s time to see how it’s all shaken out.

Draft Strategy: Zero RB
Team Name: Soft Tissue Issues
Pick Number: One
Original Roster:
QB: Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford
RB: Danny Woodhead, Arian Foster, Theo Riddick, Charles Sims, CJ Prosise
WR: Antonio Brown, Alshon Jeffrey, Mike Evans, Eric Decker, Donte Moncrief
TE: Delanie Walker, Will Tye
D/ST: Seahawks
K: Justin Tucker

Current Roster:
QB: Cam Newton
RB: Theo Riddick, Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, James White, Devontae Booker
WR: Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Tyrell Williams, Alshon Jeffrey, Donte Moncrief, Rishard Matthews
TE: Eric Ebron, Delanie Walker
D/ST: Seahawks
K: Justin Tucker
Record: 8-5, Third Place
Playoffs: Yes

About: This team was always going to be weaker at RB, but losing Danny Woodhead early and seeing Arian Foster retire after a couple of weeks was a blow. But, Spencer Ware was a quality pick up, and he’s been handcuffed, and Theo Riddick has been solid. Cam has been OK, too. Justin Tucker is arguably the best kicker in the game, so that helps. But what’s been solid here is Antonio Brown and Mike Evans. Even as Jeffery was suspended and Decker was lost for the season, Brown and Evans have carried the day. Williams has been a great pick up, as has Matthews, and Moncrief delivered on his upside.

Draft Strategy: Zero WR
Team Name: Hyde Yo Gurley
Pick Number: Two
Original Roster:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins
RB: Todd Gurley, Thomas Rawls, Jamaal Charles, Carlos Hyde, CJ Prosise, Spencer Ware
WR: Donte Moncrief, Emmanuel Sanders, John Brown, Willie Snead, Michael Thomas
TE: Travis Kelce
D/ST: Panthers
K: Robert Aguayo

Current Roster:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan
RB: Todd Gurley, Spencer Ware, Thomas Rawls, Carlos Hyde, CJ Prosise
WR: Tyrelle Pryor, Sr., Jamison Crowder, Donte Moncreif, Emmanuel Sanders, Davante Adams, Willie Snead
TE: Travis Kelce
D/ST: Dolphins
K: Matt Prater
Record: 8-5, Fourth Place
Playoffs: Yes

About: This team should have been stacked at RB. I quickly dumped Charles after he went to IR, but I’ve had pretty decent injury luck at RB. But, as owners know, Gurley hasn’t been the top pick we thought he’d be. Rawls has been slow to come back and Ware has been inconsistent. But I had some finds at receiver, like Crowder, Pryor and Adams, that have kept me in it. This team finished 8-5 and is in the think of the playoff battle.

Draft Strategy: Zero RB and Zero WR
Team Name: Gronk You Tour
Pick Number: Three
Original Roster:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson
RB: Duke Johnson, Jr., Ameer Abdullah, Charles Sims, Tevin Coleman
WR: Eric Decker, John Brown, Corey Coleman, Willie Snead, Will Fuller
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Greg Olsen
D/ST: Broncos
K: Matt Prater

Current Roster:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson
RB: Duke Johnson, Jr., Kenneth Dixon, Jerick McKinnon, Rashad Jennings
WR: Tyrelle Pryor, Sr., Jamison Crowder, Willie Snead, Doug Baldwin, Rishard Matthews, Tyreek Hill
TE: Jordan Reed, Greg Olsen
D/ST: Broncos
K: Matt Prater
Record: 8-4-1, Third Place
Playoffs: Yes

About: The injury to Reed, the decline of Olsen and the injury to Gronk really killed the momentum of this team, which was in first three weeks ago. Running back has been a disaster, too, while the wide receiver finds have helped keep the team afloat. I still finished in third and made the playoffs strong. I actually did another one of these teams, which drafted Reed, Olsen and Delanie Walker after missing Gronk, and that team is 10-3 in first place. Go figure.

Draft Strategy: Best Player Available
Team Name: For Whom Bell Tolls
Pick Number: 10
Original Roster:
QB: Blake Bortles, Matthew Stafford
RB: Le’Veon Bell, Jeremy Hill, DeAngelo Williams, Duke Johnson, Jr., Giovanni Bernard, Charles Sims
WR: Alshon Jeffrey, Allen Robinson, Demaryius Thomas, Allen Hurns
TE: Julius Thomas, Zach Miller
D/ST: Texans
K: Brandon McManus

Current Roster:
QB: Matthew Stafford, Marcus Mariota
RB: Le’Veon Bell, Spencer Ware, Carlos Hyde, Jeremy Hill, Devontae Booker, DeAngelo Williams
WR: Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Allen Robinson, Alshon Jeffery, Donte Moncrief
TE: Eric Ebron
D/ST: Dolphins
K: Matt Prater
Record: 6-6-1, fifth place
Playoffs: No

About: This was my most shocking team. I loved the roster when I drafted and thought I would kill it all season. What happened? Why did I miss the playoffs? Well, fellow Robinson and Jeffery owners know they haven’t returned value. Bell’s been great, but the rest of my running backs have been inconsistent. And I’ve been ravaged by injuries at tight end. Luck also played a factor, as I caught some teams on their best weeks while my team was inconsistent in scoring. I just missed a playoff berth thanks to a scoring adjustment that led to a tie…

What did I Learn: Well, I’ll be curious to see how the playoffs go, but I learned that draft strategies don’t matter as much as people think. In fact, on teams where I was too wedded to the players I drafted, I struggled more. The best teams were the ones where I had a position of weakness (or two) and aggressively played waivers, finding RB and WR gems. A team that drafted Gronk, Reed, Olsen, Rodgers, Wilson and the Broncos D/ST as its first six picks was the one that finished with the best record. Go figure.


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