Which Drafting Method is the Best?

The question of what position to pick and when to pick it is a highly-debated topic in fantasy football. You can ask a dozen team owners about their drafting strategy and find that each has a different method for building their roster. This article will discuss some of the more popular drafting methods.

Is There a Method to Your Madness?

There is no such thing as just one winning drafting method. There are just too many variables involved including team management during the season and player injuries to name just a couple. The draft is just the starting point of a long season, but it is important to start off on the right foot. Make sure your draft selections are made with a specific goal in mind.

Below is a description of six drafting methods. They are listed in no particular order, and of course, they do not encompass every possible variation. However, they are some of the methods commonly seen in fantasy football drafts.

Six Common Drafting Methods

The Autodraft Method – It is amazing how many team owners will sign up for fantasy football and then let a league provider, such as Yahoo, pick their team for them. There may be numerous legitimate reasons to autodraft your team, but isn’t the draft the most anticipated event of the fantasy football season? Every team owner can participate in the draft, which is not true for the league championship game. The key elements of this method are the order in which players are drafted and the use of a default player list. For the first nine rounds, a starting line-up will be drafted, including a team defense in round eight and a kicker in round nine, which is a significant weakness. The remaining seven rounds are devoted to bench positions. All the players are chosen based a default list that can be edited by the user prior to the draft.

The Two-plus-Two Method – Many team owners have been very successful with this method as it places the focus of the first four rounds of the draft on running backs and wide receivers. There is no hard and fast rule as to the order in which the players should be drafted. Many owners prefer the RB-RB-WR-WR format, but depending on the team’s placement in the draft, e.g. at the end of the first round, the preferred order may be WR-WR-RB-RB. Of course, depending on the players available when a decision needs to be made will most likely dictate the order used. The other four variations (RB-WR-RB-WR; RB-WR-WR-RB; WR-RB-WR-RB and WR-RB-RB-WR) are just as valid as the two previously listed.

The Best Available Method – Many owners select their perceived best player at each turn. Some will take the best player even if their starting line-up is already complete (see the Three Running Back method below as a variation on that theme). Most, however, will select their starting line-up first before drafting their bench players. Some will include the team defense and kicker positions in the starting line-up, which in our opinion is a waste of a mid-round pick. Others will wisely wait until later in the draft. The problem with this method is that is allows a team owner to spend his early picks on players best saved for later rounds, e.g. quarterbacks and tight ends.

The Three Running Back Method – This strategy features the selection of three running backs with the team’s first three picks. Many team owners prefer to draft two running back with their first two picks, as discussed earlier, due to the scarcity of consistently high scoring options. Owners who choose to go after a third running back are attempting to either corner the market on the position or prepare themselves for the possibility of an injury to one of their other two running backs. It is a risky method as the third running back holds no fantasy value while sitting on the bench every week. Third-round draft picks are too valuable to be spending on insurance. It should be used to generate weekly fantasy point production.

The Three Wide Receiver Method – This strategy features the selection of three wide receivers with a team’s first three picks. Although the NFL is a passing league, there is just too much of a drop off in fantasy production to leave the starting running back slots to the fourth and fifth round of a draft. Too many owners understand the scarcity of productive fantasy running backs and will have depleted the available inventory by the fourth round. It is very likely that in the first three rounds of a typical 10-team league, at least 15 running backs will have already by selected. Conversely, at least 12 wide receivers will also likely have been drafted. However, we can all agree there is a greater number of productive wide receivers in the NFL as compared to productive running backs. It’s just common sense that this is a risky strategy.

The Quarterback First Method – This strategy features only one element: selecting a quarterback in the first round. Of course, the most recognizable names in the NFL belong to quarterbacks. They are, after all, the face of their respective franchise. However, when it comes to fantasy football, there is very little difference in the production of the top 10 quarterbacks, compared to the difference in production of the top-20 running backs or top-30 wide receivers. Yes, it would be cool to have the most popular quarterback heading up your fantasy team, but it is likely he won’t produce significantly more fantasy points than other quarterbacks to make up for how far behind your second-round running back will trail the first-round running backs. For a thorough discussion of this principle, please read our article, “When to Draft Each Position in Fantasy Football.”

A fantasy football team can win from any draft position and with any drafting method. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Getting the right combination of players for the current season is partly skill and partly luck. You have no control over the luck aspect, but you do over the skill. Craft your draft strategy to take advantage of knowledge of each player’s strengths and weaknesses, team tendencies, schedule and opponents. There is no substitute for doing your homework prior to the draft and throughout the season. As stated earlier, the draft is the first, but an important, step in a long season. Championships are not won during the draft, but they can be lost. Strong in-season management is just as important. Monitor the waiver-wire for key free agent possibilities. Manage your roster diligently and follow injury reports closely. Carefully think through any roster changes you make and be wary of one-week wonders and rookie hype.

Good luck with your drafts!

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Disclaimer: Fantasy football is a game of speculation; therefore, Fantasy Football Impact disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, regarding player performance or results associated with its opinions or advice.