To preface this article, there is obviously no correct drafting strategy and I’m not going to try to tell you that this is one. This is also not a groundbreaking strategy. It’s certainly been done, but I don’t think enough people consider it. What I hope you take away from this piece is that you don’t need to be a slave to anything other than your own opinion.
Simply put, I want you not to bring your usual 1-200 player rankings to your drafts this year. Tear them up. It’s ruining your team. Instead, rank the individual positions with tiers in four separate columns like so:
This will allow you to track each position and adjust to the flow of that specific league’s draft. You can see the number of players left in tiers at each position and make decisions based on your comfort level with who’s left. The positions this influences most are QB and TE. ‘Wait on quarterback’ is a well worn mantra at this point and I agree with it fully. Unless you’re in a league that doesn’t. My home league does not wait on QBs. The top three will be gone by the end of the third round every year, and the other tiers will domino. If you aren’t focused on the position as a group you might miss out on a player from the tier you were targeting.
A great example of this happened in an MFL10 league I was drafting recently. Picking from the 12/13 turn I watched Rodgers and Brady both go in round 3. If I didn’t take Brees with one of my next picks I’d miss out on a top tier QB, something that’s important to my best ball strategy. Ironically, in my next MFL10 I ended up with the 12/13 turn as well. In this draft people were waiting on QB when Rodgers and Brady went in round 4, then Luck and Wilson in round 5. At the turn between rounds 5/6 selecting Brees was an afterthought (with a thank you to the Luck and Wilson owners).
Another situation where drafting this way becomes a true advantage is in any league with scoring or roster quirks. I just completed my Fantasy Cares Best Ball Championship League draft that uses the #SFB7 scoring format (superflex, 6 point passing TDs, 3 extra Flex’s, no PPR but point per first down, and TE’s gain an additional point per first down). Obviously QB is a priority, TEs make good Flex’s, and top RBs are more important than WRs for their first downs gained. Super quirky, but designed to be that way by it’s creator, Scott Fish (@ScottFish24), who tweaks the scoring each year to create market disruption. By the time my pick at 4.10 came twelve QBs had been selected and I still needed my second one. Roethlisberger was available, and while by no means do I think he’s a fourth rounder in standard formats, locking down a QB with his big week potential in a best ball league was a no-brainer for me. He would have otherwise been buried way down an overall rankings list and my second QB would be the likes of Josh McCown.
Now, this drafting method takes getting used to. I strongly recommend mocking this way prior to implementing it. You will get a feel for the pockets of talent at each position you like and in what rounds to take them. It’s helpful to add notes to your positional ranks such as: *target Marshawn Lynch in round 3 or *Wait on TE for Jack Doyle. FantasyPros site not only allows you to simulate a mock draft (which in many ways is more effective than a half empty live mock room) but with a paid account you can customize rankings and display rankings by position. I am in no way affiliated with FantasyPros, just a fan of the product. If you aren’t into subscribing this is still pretty easy to do with google docs or Excel (CTRL+5 is the very useful shortcut to strikethrough). If you can’t leave your overall rankings behind, minimize the amount you use it at the very least. Keep it face down and only reference it when you don’t see a clear cut selection.
Give this ranking style a shot in mocks and see if you don’t feel better about the teams you’re constructing. Liberated from the rigid singular list you’re used to you can optimize each position in your league. If not, maybe it’s just not for you. Maybe you still need the overall rankings. If you commit to it, however, I’m confident you’ll produce better rosters in your most competitive leagues. Good luck and good drafting.