Fantasy football draft prep season is finally upon us, and I'm here to answer the biggest draft question plaguing fantasy football players everywhere:
How am I supposed to be able to compare players from different positions to determine the right guy to pick?
The answer to that question is obviously not just total points scored. If that were the case all of the quarterbacks would get drafted at the top of the draft since they score the most points. You’ll see a lot of your competitors do this anyway since they are either new to the game or they just haven’t done very much research when it comes to fantasy. You know, like you’re doing right now. You’re already a step ahead of the pack.
I like to focus on strategy and tactics that help everyday fantasy football players to evolve into the truly elite. And, we do that without a lot of complex mumbo jumbo. For the most part, we’ll even veer away from player comparisons unless they help us to illustrate a particular tactic.
Okay, here we go. Let’s talk about what happens in every single draft… You get a few rounds in and you start to have some interesting choices to make. Let’s say you grabbed a stud running back in round one and then in round two you weren’t completely sure, but you saw a wide receiver you liked and took him. Okay, so far so good. Now, round three hits and most of the marquee players have been taken. You have to choose between an RB2 that you think is okay, a pretty solid WR2, a 2nd-tier QB, and maybe one of the top TE’s.
You’re stuck. How are you supposed to compare players like this?
Well, first things first. What are you trying to accomplish? At least that part is easy: You want to put yourself in the best position week-to-week to outscore your opponent. The “what” is easy, it is the “how” that truly separates typical fantasy players from the elite.
You’re going to want to take the player who has the biggest points-per-week advantage over the other options. The way you do that can take a couple different forms. The easiest way is called the “The Roster Ladder.” This is an adjunct to the information that we teach in “The Program” which is our reusable, evergreen system for fantasy football… The Masters Degree in Fantasy Football. It is a system you can use for every league, every year.
The Roster Ladder combines with the No-Brainer draft plan, the 20/20 Process, and the “3P3Z” draft preparation plan that we teach in “The Program.” I’ll do my best to define it here, though the full system makes it easier to digest.
With The Roster Ladder you start at the top and step down throughout your draft. The goal is to take the most differentiated players at each rung as you head toward the end of your draft. This is done through player projections, something we call the Prime Profile, tiered rankings, and a deeper version of value-based drafting.
The first step in the process is to find or create solid projections for all of the players in the draft pool. This could be as simple as a download or as complex as developing your own. If you really want to take those projections to the next level you can score those players (or perhaps just the top 50) regarding whether they are in the prime of their career. You can assess quality and risk with an up arrow, down arrow, or no arrow.
The key to this whole thing is the next piece, so hopefully I didn’t get you stuck on any of that stuff above. This next part is the only section that gets into any number crunching, but it is fairly simple. What we need to do is find the average value for each position for the number of players that are likely to be in rotation at that position in your league. This average at each position gives you a baseline for that position and a pivot point to compare one position versus another.
Allow me to explain.
Let’s say you’ve got a 12-team league that starts two RB’s, two WR’s, and one each at QB, TE, DST, K, and Flex (RB/WR). In any given week there are about 30 RB’s starting in the league as well as about 30 WR’s plus 12 each at QB, TE, DST, and K. The 30 number comes from splitting the 12 starters at Flex and adding 6 each to the 24 RB’s and 24 WR’s. Realistically, common rotations are a little deeper than that so we need to account for it. There will be a certain number of lower-rated players that get swapped in and out based on matchups. I like to go 36 deep at RB, 36 deep at WR, 16 deep at QB, and 12 at TE. So, what I want you to do is to add up the projected point totals for the associated number of players at each position and divide by that number. (So for example, add the top 16 projected QB individual point totals and divide by 16.) That will give you the average number of points scored by weekly rotational players at each position. From there, you score every player on the difference between the average rotational score at their position and their individual projection.
So, a stud RB might be +100 points and an RB4 might be -100 points. A stud QB might be +88 points and one of the QB2 candidates might be -10. When you are faced with the challenge in our scenario at the top of this article, you’ll be prepared. For example, you might look and clearly see that the RB2 is a +42 guy, the WR2 is a +21, the QB is +36, and the TE as +18. From a simple perspective you can see that taking the RB2 is likely the way to go. In a vacuum you take that RB2 in this scenario every time. This is the same method Fantasy Knuckleheads uses to project values in their customized cheat sheets. If you already purchased their system, now you know!
When you add the concept of tiers to this “Roster Ladder” you’ll have even more insight when making the pick. If you group together players from each position into similarly-valued sections you can start to clearly see where those steps down the ladder happen. Your goal is to get a player close to the end of the tier. This maximizes the value you get from the roster slot for the lowest possible cost. It also ensures that you will have an edge over your competitors over the full roster, not just one slot at a time.
Let’s say you took that RB2 who was +42 in our example in round three but he was early in the tier and the tiers at QB and WR were drying up. It is possible that the +36 QB was actually the better way to go… For the sake of argument, let’s say that the next time you draft the best QB is only +14 and the RB’s available are still in the +30 range. In that case, you would have been better off taking the +36 QB in round three and a +30 RB2 in round four (in lieu of the +42 RB2 and the +14 QB).
You want to gain an overall advantage over your full roster, so planning out your tiers will give you a view into what is coming up in your draft so you can plan a few steps in advance.
If you're interested in grasping advanced drafting techniques you need to purchase my system called "The Program".
I wish you all the best in completely and totally demolishing your friends this year.