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DRAFT STRATEGY GUIDE 2017

By: Joe Jenkins @joejenkins78 and

Johnny Slokes @johnnyslokes

July 30, 2017

Draft season is upon us! Have you been doing your research? If you been following along with us all offseason, you would have been able to prepare for the offseason with our Offseason Strategy article and be well prepared for this occasion. This will be our second of three installments of our draft strategies for The 5th Down FF Draft Strategy Guide 2017, along with a nice lengthy podcast as well!
 
In our first installment of our draft strategy we had our lead writer Telmo Costa write about the different draft strategies and applied them to use in a mock draft. In this article we will dive a bit further and highlight some of the pros and cons to each strategy as well as taking a peek at our draft rubric that we have created, to help map out which players should be available at each draft position. The link to our draft rubric is below.

Zero RB

Best draft slot: 7th-12th

The first strategy we will talk about in this article is a strategy that has been gaining popularity over the pasy few years. Zero RB is exactly what it sounds like. The idea is take WRs early and often, maybe throw in a TE or QB if you wish. The reasoning behind this, is that top end RBs are more volitile from year to year than WRs. You are aiming to construct a roster which benefits from the choas of the season and capitalizes on over-zealous drafters that are clinging on to the RBs Let's dive into some of the pros of this strategy.

Pros:

1. Your starting WR core will be undoubtingly strong

- Spending high draft capital at WR should ensure you that you have dafted at least 2-3 top 20 WRs. Imagine pairing up Julio Jones or Mike Evans paired up with Micheal Thomas or T.Y. Hilton and then followed up with Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson or Travis Kelce.

- By stockpiling WR, this could create a shortage at WR in the draft pool. This can lead to panic, overdrafts or even positional runs, which could lead to value at other positions.

PRO TIP #1:

You may wish to veer off of your Zero RB strategy if you're at the tail end of a positional run on WR as this may cause value to appear at other positions.

2. Less injury risk & more consistency

RBs from 2012-2016

WRs from 2012-2016

click.PNG
 
- As you can see from the charts above, over the past 5 years, only 24 of the 60 RBs drafted as top 12 RBs returned value based on their ADP. While in this same span, 33 of 60 WRs drafted as top 12 WRs returned value. That seems kinda close right? Until you look and see that only 9 of 25 RBs taken top 5 at RB returned value compared to 16 of 25 WRs. The biggest taken away from these charts is that it appears to be a much safer option early on in your drafts as your more likely to return value, as opposed to the volitility of the RB position. In 2013 it could have been possible to pair up Calvin Johnson (1.06), A.J. Green (2.05), and Demaryrius Thomas (3.01) if he slipped a little. You could even throw Victor Cruz (4.05) if you want to get really nasty. The main point we're trying to really hammer in here is that WRs typically return value at a higher rate than RBs on any typical year in the last 5 years with the 2016 season being an obvious outlier season.

3. Every time a RB gets hurt your lineup gets a little better
    - Now, I don't condone hoping a player gets injured and nor should you. These are real people with friends and family. 
    - Your lineup gets better in the sense that there is now one less healthy RB in the player pool and another team's RB core just got weakened. You may have the back up already on your roster or if you're a crafty (or lucky) player you could be in position to pick the back up off waivers.

Pro Tip #2:

No one is a fortune teller, but a crucial element to using the Zero RB strategy is to try to use the craziness and sometimes random events that happen in the game of football to your advantage by constructing your roster to benefit from injuries rather than suffer.
 
4. Drafting high upside RBs

    * Since we have already established that WRs are more stable earlier in the draft, that means we are targeting RBs in the mid-to-late rounds. The goal is to take RBs with high ceilings, RBs that may be backups on high powered offenses i.e. (Tevin Coleman (6.07), Derrick Henry (7.09), Samaje Perine (7.12), C.J. Prosise (8.08)) just to name a few. You may also choose to take a handcuff to an injury prone RB or even a receiving back if you are looking for some standalone value.

Pro Tip #3:

This is ideal because even though the top end WRs tend to return value at a higher rate than top end RBs, once you get into the middle rounds around WR25+ are all mostly unpredictable what you are going to get (even more so than RBs)

    * There have been some examples of RBs finishing as an RB1 while being drafted in the mid-to-late rounds that are quite remarkable actually. Last year Melvin Gordan (5.06) , LeGarrett Blount (8.08), Jay Ajayi (10.03) and even Jordan Howard off waivers were all back last year that you could have gotten in the mid-to-late rounds or even for free in Jordan Howard's case. If we go further back, there are more examples of this. In 2015, there was Todd Gurley (5.12), Danny Woodhead (6.09), Devonta Freeman (8.12), Dsvid Johnson (10.10), and DeAngelo Williams (11.09). I could continue doing this every year, but I think you get my point.

    5. Sets up trade bait later on in the season

    * Did your QB or TE just go down? Did none of your RBs pan out? Have no fear! Because you drafted heavy at WR, you now have some trading collateral you can work with to upgrade your holes in your roster. And because you should have some nice WRs on your team, it should land you a nice piece or two at another position.

Pro Tip #4:

Typically don't advise drafting players just to trade them, as this can leave you stuck with a player that you don't necessarily want. This is moreso just a tactic to cover yourself in case of injuries.

Cons:

 
1. Suspectically weak at RB
    * Spending high draft capital at WR typically means that you are missing out on bellcow RBs that tend to produce more points. While RBs that touch the both more are at a higher risk to get injured, because they get the ball more, they have more oppportunities to produce fantasy points. I guess the Keyshawn Johnson famous quote of "Give me the damn ball!" stands the test of time. This next con ties in with this one.

2. Positional scarcity makes early RBs important
 

# of 300 carry RBs from 2006-2016

The Down Trend of the Bellcow RB
 

Pro Tip #5:

There are just so many RBBCs in the league now that those true bellcow RBs extremely valuable in most formats. To combat this Zero RB drafters will look to try and draft back up or pass catching backs that may never pan out.

        * Zero RB doesn't make any sense when picking inside of the top 3 this year. There's no reason to push a strategy that doesn't fit.




   3. Going Zero RB, you'll want to target backs on the waiver wire more aggressively than your league mates.
        * Chasing RBs (many of which don't pan out) on waivers could make you miss out on potential breakout players at other positions. 



   4. You are more predictable with your mid-to-late draft picks.

       * Spending high capital at WR, makes your mid-to-late draft picks more predictable as other drafters will know there is a good chance you are drafting a RB. This can either leave you prone to being sniped at RB or make it easier for opponents to draft around your need.

Vbd (Value based Drafting)

Best Draft Slot: Any

 
In VBD (Value Based Drafting), you are looking to looking to get the most value each round with your picked based off a each player's projected fantasy points per game compared to the other players in their own position. In a 12-team league, that means the value of the best quarterback versus the 12th best quarterback, the best running back versus the 24th best running back, etc.

EXAMPLE (for pick 6 of 2016):

 
vbd1.PNG
 
Since nobody should draft a QB or TE in the 1st round, I just compared the top 2 players at the position.

Picking  at the 6 spot in 2016 the options you would have the options of Ezekiel Elliot (21.7) and Lamar Miller (13.7) or Todd Gurley (12.4), so Elliot was a full 8 points per game better than next remaining player. Compared to AJ Green (18.6) to DeAndre Hopkins (12.4). In hindsight Ezekiel Elliot would be the correct choice here because of the point advantage he would have gave you. I know this is just a hypothetical example, but with solid projections, you'll be able to make the right decison to maximize your point total each round.

       There are some benefits to using this strategy but before we get into that, I must stress that a lot of man hours and research go into this strategy and it may not be for everyone.

PROS:

1. Great "on paper" team

  * Taking the player that you deem most valuable each round should give you a sexy team on paper. Your startimg line up should be strong and balanced with no blantant holes in your roster and not being top heavy at any position.

2. Let the draft come to you

  * Especially when you are picking at the turn, you can see the draft unfold in front of you and it can prepare you for positional runs and makes your decision making a lot easier. Ideal for someone who is able to adapt on the fly or just enjoy some extra flexibility as rather than targeting a specific position each round, you are taking the player with the most value.

3. Compares players against other players from the same position

  * You are drafting the player that gives you the biggest week to week advantage amoung his peers each round. This maximizes your total scoring output each round and insures that you are getting the point advantage each round.

CONS:

1. Poor projetions can be a disaster

  * Because value based drafting relies so heavily on solid projections, if you were to make picks using projections that are not up to par then you could be in for a long season. Poor projections can lead to you picking the wrong players at the wrong time and turn you into a league donor. 

  * A good example of this is projecting a RB that appears to be the starter of his team with starting numbers over the rookie that is actually going to take his job. Yes, we are looking at you Spencer Ware.

Pro Tip #6:

Personally try to stay away from other people's projections and rankings because they are biased and wrong. Even the best and most accurate projections and rankings are wrong and biased. Just some food for thought.

2. Doesn't take positional need or positional scarcity into account

  * Value based drafting just looks at the numbers of the players that are remaining and you select accordingly in disregard of need. This is obviously something that you can deviate from, however.
  * This can also lead to overdarfting at QB or TE position, as in most scenerios one of each should be sufficient VBD can sometimes lead you to draft two of each, effectively clogging two roster spots on your bench.

3. Doesn't take injury risks into account

  * Some players that carry their own injury risk are not always discounted when ranking players like they should. This can lead to you making riskier picks earlier in your draft and may criplle your chances in the season. 

4. Prone to using basic site rankings and cheatsheets

  * Let's face it, we are all humans and humans tend to be lazy. Nobody wants to put in the work to create their own projections or rankings so they use someone else's or wotse yet use the preset rankings on whatever site they are using. I call it manuel auto drafting.