The 2013 fantasy football season is over and for degenerates like me there’s no time like the present to start thinking about next seasons fantasy draft. Each NFL season has a unique flavor when it comes to fantasy strategy.
Going in to the 2013 draft one theme that many fantasy pundits including yours truly harped in waiting on the QB position. That strategy paid off nicely as the season played out. Drafting your fantasy team is a balancing act. The key is to recognize where the talent pool is deep and where it is shallow. In this post we are going to take a look at the various positions and include tiered rankings for each.
Going in to 2013 there were 10 to 12 QB’s I was comfortable heading up my team. Players like Luck and Romo had ADP’s in the 10 to 12 range. This meant I could wait well into the middle rounds to draft one. What further solidified the “wait on the QB” theory was the parity in the second tier QB position. I had Wilson, Luck, Kaepernick, and Romo all with similar grades. As that point why waste a 5th on Kaepernick when one could wait and grab Wilson in the 9th. I used a “wait on the QB” strategy in 2013 with fantastic results. Of the 5 Fantasy Teams I drafted in money leagues all but one finished in the money. The one losing team was a very early draft which was crushed by pre-season injuries. I wound up riding QB’s like Foles and Wilson to Fantasy Glory due to depth at the other positions. Looking ahead to 2014 the same logic applies. We will take a look at all of the positions and determine where the elite talent is.
Elite Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees
Excellent: Cam Newton, Nick Foles, Stafford
Solid Starters: Matt Ryan, Kaepernick, Brady, Wilson, Romo, Rivers, Cutler, RG3, Luck
As you can see above there are 15 QB’s I would be comfortable with as season long starters for 2014. That does not even include the draft which may produce one or two more startable players. When a position is this stacked it makes sense to wait in the draft.
Elite: Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte,
Excellent: Eddie Lacy, Marshaun Lynch, Adrian Peterson
Solid: Le’Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Zac Stacy
4th Tier Startable Players: Reggie Bush, Ryan Mathews, Gio Bernard, CJ Spiller, Knowshon Moreno (or Monte Ball if Moreno leaves via FA), Arian Foster
5th Tier: CJ2K, Ray “knock out” Rice, Steven Jackson, MJD, Shane Vereen, Frank Gore,
There are around 20 RB’s I’d be comfortable rolling out as starters on my fantasy squad. Some of whom are a fairly large drop off in talent from the “elite level”.Since most fantasy leagues feature at least 10 teams and at least 20 starters at RB this area is critical to address in the early rounds. My goal will be to land two of the top 15 Runners within the first three rounds of the 2014 Fantasy Draft.
Elite Talent: Megatron, Josh Gordon, Brandon Marshall, Demaryus Thomas, AJ Green, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones
Excellent: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Antonio Brown, Alshon Jeffrey
Very Good: Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Michael Crabtree, Keenan Allen,
Good: Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Vincent Jackson, Eric Decker, Victor Cruz, Reggie Wayne, Edelman, Welker, Percy Harvin
Tier Five (These are WR3-4 Type Players) Corradelle Patterson, T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Bowe, Roddy White, Michael Floyd, Mike Wallace, Torrey Smith, Riley Cooper, Marquez Colston,
Tier Six Tavon Austin, Marvin Jones, Cecil Shorts, DeAndre Hopkins, Ruben Randle, Hakeem Nicks,
Looking at the WR position there are 15 names in the top three tiers. The major dropoff occurs in tier 5 24 players in to the draft. Assuming a 10 team league with 3 WR positions the indication here is to focus on WR early. I would want at least 3 of the top 25 names on my squad.
Elite: Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis
Good: Jordan Reed, Dennis Pitta, Jordan Cameron,
Startable: Jason Witten, Greg Olsen, Martellus Bennett,
Upside: Zack Ertz, Delanie Walker, Ladarius Green, Tim Wright, Zach Ertz, Kyle Rudolph
Here we have 16 names all with fantasy starter potential. This is another situation where waiting in the draft is the way to go. Outside of the elite four there are very few options here that differentiate from one another. Do you grab Pitta in the 5th or Delanie Walker in the 10th? The savvy team manager would wait on TE there and grab a player in a more scarce position instead.
It’s difficult to know what will happen between now (February) and the start of draft season. Still when looking at this upcoming draft through the lens of the 2013 season its clear that once again we have a depth of startable fantasy talent in the TE and QB positions. The appropriate strategy is to wait on both of those positions and focus on WR and RB in the first 5 to 6 rounds.
When drafting I always use the tiers method to value players. Using the example above there are 6 RB’s that should go in the first round this season (The Elite and Excellent Tiers). Depending on your strategy somewhere after the 3rd pick is where WR’s should start coming off the board.
Sample 2 Round Mock For The 2014 Fantasy Football Draft
This Sample is for a 10 Team Draft (QB 2RB 3WR 1TE)
1. Jamal Charles
2. LeSean McCoy
3. Matt Forte
4. Eddie Lacy
6. Marshaun Lynch
7. AJ Green
8. Josh Gordon
9. Adrian Peterson
10. Brandon Marshall
11. DeMarco Murray
12. Doug Martin
13 Julio Jones
14 Dez Bryant
15 Alfred Morris
16 Jordy Nelson
17 Randall Cobb
18 Alshon Jeffrey
19 Antonio Brown
20 Zac Stacy
As you can see the first two rounds focused exclusively on the WR and RB positions. In this case if you look back at the tiered ranking system the picks fell in line as follows:
Elite level RB’s outrank Elite level WR’s. As we make our way through the draft that would be the outline to follow. When the top three tiers of RB’s and WR’s are gone it is time to consider TE and QB. I would rank the elite TE’s ahead of Elite QB’s as the TE spot has a large drop after the first four players go of the board. QB is the deepest position and should be filled only once all your starters and perhaps a backup or two are in place.
What do you think of the tiers I put together? What about my “wait on the QB and TE strategy”? Would you do something different? What about the mock? Where would you take that first QB in 2014? Let us know in the comments section!