What do mood rings, lava lamps, and the Zero-RB Theory have in common? Answer: they're all fads.
As we've already covered in more depth, the Zero RB Theory postulates that the use of running backs has changed since the days when RB-RB was the way to go in your draft. It places a heavier emphasis on wide receivers given the overall passing nature of the NFL and the diminishing role of the workhorse back. The theory is used to suggest waiting on running backs during your draft.
Over the past several years, we've seen running backs finish in the top 10 overall points over wide receivers by a factor of 2 to 1. Running backs are still a fundamental element in fantasy football. It's really no different than any of the countless fad diets. At the end of the day, take in less calories than you expend and you'll lose weight. Likewise, be prepared when you enter the draft room and amass the most fantasy points, and you'll not only have a great draft, but you'll win your league.
It would appear that fundamentals, whether in dieting or fantasy football, are here to stay.
The season is right around the corner and drafts are heavily underway. If your draft is coming up, here are some tips and news that you need to know before you start putting guys into your Player Queue.
1. Understand the difference between price and value
As Warren Buffett once said, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." Let me demonstrate how that applies to fantasy football. Let's say you spent a 2nd-round pick last year on Dez Bryant and another person spent a 5th/6th-round pick on Stefon Diggs. Using last year's numbers, they were pretty equal in their total points contributed (Diggs contributed ~1 extra point per game). Now, you paid a certain price for Dez (what RB, TE, or WR could you have had instead?) but the value wasn't worth the price. An equal upside WR was available 3 or 4 rounds later. Every player has value and every player has a price. Knowing the difference is key.
Knowing the depth at the WR position, you could have grabbed a running back instead where the drop-off between tiers in that position was (and remains) more significant. Diggs had much more value relative to the price that you had to pay.
2. Mix safety with sexy
Demaryius Thomas, Carlos Hyde, and Larry Fitzgerald weren't sexy picks last year, but every single one of those guys delivered consistent results. They are pretty reliable in that way which makes them safer picks, but nobody wins it all playing it 100% safe. There are times when that sexy pick can make or break your team. The key is finding them and taking the risk of spending a roster spot. It's really no different than a healthy 401K portfolio. Diversify where you can.
Remember that in 2014, Le'Veon Bell was labeled a "bust" by ESPN before the season began and barely made RB3 status, yet he went on to become the single most dominate running back that year. Odell Beckham Jr. was barely drafted four seasons ago, and we need only look at the 2016 Madden cover to know how that turned out!
Don't be afraid to take a flier on a guy you think has the potential to be something. When your league laughs at your pick, just remember all the laughter when Bell and OBJ were drafted. It doesn't matter who laughs in the preseason. Week 16 is all that counts.
3. Know Your Scoring
I can't stress this one enough and I see it happen every year. If your league gives points for receptions (PPR or 1/2 pt PPR), certain players are going to be more valuable than others. If your league starts 2 quarterbacks or gives 6 points for a passing touchdown, those players will be more valuable.
Know your scoring before you enter the draft room.
4. Ditch the magazines
If you're using a magazine to help you draft this year, you're better off taking your money and giving it to charity. Your money is as good as gone, but at least with the charitable donation someone who really needs it can put it to good use. Listen, we've all used magazines in the past, but as time-honored as that tradition might be, it's like using AOL's 56K dial-up service to get connected to the Internet. If you use the rankings from Fantasy Football Nerd, we are updating those every single day. Trades...injuries...suspensions...those things all get factored into dynamic player values.
The moment a magazine goes to print, that's it folks, and keep in mind that most of those articles are written well before it goes to print. It's as outdated as 56K. If you bought a magazine, what did you do with it after your draft was done? Exactly...
If you're going to spend 8 or 9 bucks on an out-of-date magazine that you can only use for the draft, why not spend $14.95 on an FFN Premium subscription and get access to not just draft information, but an entire season's worth of tools, rankings, and advice?
5. Players on the same team
I've watched people pass over players because they feel like they have too many from the same team. The logic generally flows something like this: half my team will be on bye at the same time and if the team does poorly, they'll all do poorly. When I hear that, I like to sit the person down and regale them with fantastic stories about the 2007 New England Patriots and the 2013 Denver Broncos. In both examples, I played in leagues where someone did have a roster full of those players including Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Ben Watson, Laurence Maroney, and Sammy Morris for the Pats and Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, and Knowshon Moreno for the Broncos. Guess what? Each guy lost the week that those teams were on bye, but they completely dominated every...single...other...week. The playoffs were a breeze for them.
6. Sh!t on your neighbor
This is one of my personal favorites and it comes from a card game that I was taught as a young child. Regardless of the name (I've also heard it called Screw Your Neighbor), it's a fun game that any age group can play and it's all about making things difficult for the person on your left. In this case, it's about the person who is drafting immediately after you.
The tactic works like this: get your Player Queue lined up before it's your turn to pick. You should have two or three players ranked in the order that you'd like to take them. When it's your turn to pick, grab the top-ranked guy in your queue and draft right away. The person drafting after you generally assumes that he/she has 60-90 seconds to make any final decisions about his/her next pick. By picking quickly, you are forcing the clock on them. People have a general fear of running out of time and auto-picking. Play on that fear and watch as their heart rate increases. Hopefully this forces them to rush into their pick.
7. Take the Best Available Player
Think you need to fill your roster right away? Think again. I haven't had the luxury of drafting Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce on any of my teams, so what's the point in rushing to get a tight end? The same can be said about Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. I don't own either so why would I rush to get a QB just to fill out my roster? Take the best available player on the board. If that's another running back or wide receiver and your QB spot is unfilled, so be it. I'm happy to wait for Jimmy Graham or Kirk Cousins.
Trust me, reaching is only good for getting things on really high shelves. It's not for fantasy football drafts.
8. Be Flexible
No, you don't have to be a master in yoga, but you do have to be flexible when it comes to your draft. Re-read the Zero RB strategy up top. Every year I get questions from FFN members who want to know what I think about their draft strategy. Should I go RB/RB or WR/WR? The answer is that it depends. It's helpful to do a mock draft to get an idea of where guys will likely fall, but no mock draft will ever perfectly replicate your actual draft. You may have a RB/RB strategy going in, but if Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Jr., or DeAndre Hopkins are staring you in the face after all the Tier 1 running backs are off the board, you need to pivot and take an elite WR instead. The point differential between a Tier 1 WR and a Tier 2 RB can be significant. Have a plan, but be prepared to take what the draft gives you.
9. Draft a kicker LAST
Seriously - if you draft a kicker before the final round not named Greg the Leg, you're in trouble. Given the point contributions, prediction difficulties, and relative variances, I have yet to hear a coherent, logical argument for drafting one before the final round. Oh, and you only need 1. Seriously - drop the one you have and pick another one up on the waiver wire if you have to. That extra roster spot should be spent on another skilled position player.
10. Be Prepared
Yes, FFN is an awesome tool to have, but what if your Internet connection goes down? What if you drop your tablet or laptop as you're reaching for your favorite beverage? Who knows what's going to happen on draft day?!? Be prepared by printing out our fantasy football cheatsheet and taking that with you. Yeah, it's old school, but it's definitely more timely than a magazine, and just like that condom you kept in your wallet all throughout high school, it's best to be prepared for the moment.
Finally speaking of moment - enjoy yours! We talk about things like strategy and which guys to target and when, but rarely do we talk about the fun part of the game. After all, we're not all in it for the money, right? Right?
Have fun! Throw some smack talk. The social aspect of fantasy football is one of the best parts of the game! Trust me - it won't be long before December is here and fantasy season is over.
Good luck in your draft!