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Unorthodox Draft Strategies

One of the biggest factors left out of the draft-day discussion is the makeup of your league. Analysts often mention the importance of understanding league scoring, but then fail to mention how important it is to understand your competition.

There are many reasons why your competition is important. Does your league love RBs? Do they prefer Zero RB? Do they all draft QB late?

But let’s walk before we run; are you playing with Fantasy Experts or Fantasy Jabronis? Let's find the difference.

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Fantasy Jabronis

If your league is made up of all Jabronis, I highly recommend you join a Rotoballer Challenge where you compete with experts like El Camello (@PFunk00) or Real Talk Raph (@RealTalkRaph). But…. if you continue to surround yourself with fantasy plebeians, your draft should probably lean to the conservative side i.e. value-based drafting.

Capitalize on missteps by your inferior league mates to draft players that should not still be available. It is a straightforward strategy where you cross-reference rankings you trust to grab value after value while the Jabronis overpay for "their guys". Butttttt…..if you happen to be playing in a very competitive league you will have to be a bit more creative.


Fantasy Experts

If you play in a very difficult league, you face a conundrum. Should you use value-based drafting or take a chance on something different? The issue with VBD in a quality league is that you are relying heavily on luck, the luck of your players simply outperforming those of your competitors (assuming everyone drafts intelligently).

For instance, take the first two rounds of an expert draft and compare Team 1 and Team 2:  Team 1 (Julio Jones, Nick Chubb) Team 2 (Michael Thomas, Joe Mixon). Can anyone honestly say who will end up with more fantasy points? And the same holds true for later in your drafts when Team 1 goes with someone like Donte Moncrief and Team 2 grabs Dede Westbrook. These coin tosses leave a lot of variability. Without getting more granular (hit me up on Twitter if you want further analysis), I’m suggesting that you take an unorthodox approach if you are going to rely on luck anyway.


Unorthodox Drafting Strategies

Upside Fishing

Draft the players with the highest upside. Yes, this may mean the greatest chance of each player busting, but it also presents the opportunity to hit it big and surprise your league.  Some examples of huge upside players with risk include: Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliot, Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, AJ Green, Robby Anderson, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Miles Sanders, Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton and so on.  As you can see, these players all have some level of boom/bust. But if a couple hit big, your team's ceiling can exceed that of the experts in your league.

Top Players

Go for as many top players as you can at as many positions.  This involves drafting QB, TE, Kicker and DEF early as well as focusing on the supply and demand of your league draft.  Meaning, that if everyone is taking RB, jump on the top choices at other positions.  It is very feasible to have a team with DeAndre Hopkins, Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, Los Angeles Rams and Greg Zuerlein along with some stud position players in between. Couple that with some great in-season management to fill weaknesses and you could just strike gold.


Many a combination of players has helped fantasy owners win championships. I will never forget the season I owned Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles of the New Orleans Saints.  Not only could this strategy pay dividends for two or three players, but if you have an inclination of a team turning things around you could go deep in stacking and boom in a big way. Pay attention to key information like coaching changes, player changes, indoor games and SOS. A key example of this would be the buzz surrounding Arizona. Is it too difficult to imagine Kyler Murray hitting, making David Johnson, Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald league winners?

Have you been in the same league for many years? Do you consistently finish in the bottom six? It’s time to face the music and realize that it may not just by the byproduct of bad luck that continually puts you in the Loser Bracket year in and out. Try something different and let me know how it turns out.



Brett Mitchell (@BrettMitchellFB)

P.S. Join my Rotoballer Challenge #16 on Fleaflicker!


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