In my last article, I talked about draft strategy. In this article, I’m going to talk about the most popular “money leagues.” These are the websites that offer a cash prize for finishing at the top of the league at the end of the season. Before I talk about these leagues, I want to clear up something in regards to my last article. You are not going to win your league with your first couple picks but you could definitely lose it. What I mean by this, is that your team must be balanced. If your 3 starting WRs are all high upside guys, then you only have a few weeks where all 3 players scores lots of points. Those are the weeks that you will most likely earn a win. The problem with upside guys is that these guys usually have lots of bad weeks but at the end of the season their total fantasy points are among the Top 20. Here is the problem— if at least 2 of your guys have a down week, then you will need other position players to step up. After you reach the playoffs in your league, do you really want a player in your lineup that could score either 30 points or 5 points? Here is where the balance of drafting comes in. The more volatile a player, the more you need to draft guys like Julian Edelman on your team. A guy that you know will get at least 7 targets a game. Edelman does not usually have many big weeks, but he usually does not have any bad weeks. This is why Antonio Brown is being drafted 1st in most leagues this year. Antonio Brown has caught at least 5 balls in every game for the past 2 years. He is a player that has no down weeks but has lots of big weeks. Nobody in the history of the NFL has ever done this before. If you do start your draft with Antonio Brown, then it will be easier to draft an upside (volatile) player/players later in your draft. There is only one Antonio Brown and steady-eddie guys like Edelman fall between Rounds 4 to 6. They are not sexy players, but like the NFL are necessary to maintaining drives. These guys will do the same thing for your team. They may never win you a week with a big game but they also will never lose you a game with zero points.
Now let’s talk about the different sites out there. First I’m going to talk about season long drafts. Which site fits you and how you have to draft differently based on the rules of the site. Let’s start with the sites I dislike the most and then move on to the ones I love. One of the most popular sites out there and the site that I highly recommend staying away from is CBS Sports/NFL. The reason I'm grouping these together is because of their similar prize structures, formats, and websites. I will get into the bad payout in another article (worst in the industry). Both of these leagues are standard NON-PPR formats. NFL is a 10 team league format and CBS is a 12 team. If for some reason you decide to draft in one of these sites, here is the strategy. The draft itself is flawed in that you have at most 15 rosters spots and only 9 starters. Since this is a NON-PPR(Points Per Reception) league, the player pool will be smaller since some players have little value in this format compared to a PPR league. Most people think backwards in this type of draft. They feel that since there are so few true bell cow RB’s that you must start you draft with one of them. This is not true. Don't win by following everybody else. You win by zagging when everybody else is zigging. If you listen to almost every website, podcast, and the fantasy channel on Sirius/XM they are all in agreement to take a RB. They say that WRs are not as important. I totally disagree. In a standard league, WRs will only get you points for TDs and total yards. If you look at last year’s final stats, how many WRs had over 1000 yards and over 10 TDs? I will tell you. Just 9. The RBs that did it was just 8 but you need to start 3 WRs and only 2 RBs. If everybody is fighting for RBs, then what are your chances of getting 2 of these players? But if you go the opposite direction, you should be able to get at least 2 of these WRs and possibly 3 of them. Besides, RBs get injured more often than WRs. So WRs are safer, and you have better chance in getting the elite. This does not mean that you go into a league and if WR’s start going off the board quickly that you do the same thing and grab WRs. This when you draft RBs, but this will rarely happen. If I get 3 WRs in this league to start for me every week, then all I need is to rotate RBs based on matchups and I only need 2 spots to do it. With a small bench, you could stream defenses because nobody can afford to keep a defense on their bench.
Yahoo has now entered the fantasy football prize payouts instead of just free leagues. The rules are basically the same as NFL/CBS and the format is also basically the same, so I will repeat what I just talked about in the previous paragraph. They are 10 team leagues but the only difference is a big one. Their payouts are 90%, whereas the CBS/NFL payouts are below 50%. One of the downsides is that there is no big overall prize. If you want to draft in a standard league, then this is a good place to start. The weekly and playoff strategy in this league will be different than the higher stake leagues. In a future article, I will talk about the playoffs and weekly pickups.
FFPC or myffpc.com
This is the craziest format out there, and because of this, you have a chance to really take advantage of the competition. First, let’s talk about the rules and format. 12-team leagues, 20-round serpentine draft, 13-week regular season based on total points, 6 teams advance to playoffs, H2H match-ups during week 14-16 playoffs, like most high-stakes leagues, this is a PPR league. Now for the crazy part— you need to start 1 QB, 1 Def, and 1 K, but also 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, and 2 Flex (RB/WR/TE). The first thing you might notice is that you only need to start 2 WRs, where most formats require 3 WRs. But with the 2 flex spots, you can start a maximum of 4. Also, on this site, they give your TEs an extra bonus for every catch. So instead of TEs getting 1 point per reception, they get 1.5 points per reception. So TEs gain a little more value. So you would think that since TEs are more valuable, then starting 3 TEs every week would be optimal. Last year, I entered this draft for the first time and made the mistake of trying to fill the flex with 2 extra RBs, since they are more consistent on a weekly basis. Also, if you could get 4 RBs and there are only 32 teams in the NFL, then you would screw the other players in the draft. Never, ever draft a player to screw other people in the draft. It almost always backfires. Yes, you will most likely screw the other player by grabbing a player that they really need, but in doing so, you end up hurting your own team, because if you only drafted a player based on screwing someone, then this most likely means that you did not need this player. I love when someone tries to screw another player, because now there 2 less teams to compete against. After drafting on this site multiple times this year, I have noticed that the 2 most common strategies are to grab at least one TE early or draft 2 or 3 RBs in the 1st 3 rounds. These strategies are so common that the WRs that normally go before Round 3 are still available in Round 4. In fact, all WRs are pushed back in this format. On most sites, you are forced to start 3 WRs and have an option to start a 4th in a flex spot. For this site, you only need to start 2 WRs, but can start a maximum of 4. So most people think that WR value has dropped, but because of those aforementioned common drafting strategies, all this does is give you more value at this position. Now, I don't recommend starting your draft with 4 WRs as this would force you to draft other positions when there is still value at WR. I want you to look at ADP for this site. RBs are still the most injury prone, and RBs are at risk to split carries. In the NFL, TE production is very fluky on a weekly basis and it is easier to use strength of schedule to stream your TEs on a weekly basis, and thereby you really don't need that stud TE. In today’s NFL, the WR is protected more than in the past and the ball is thrown more than any other time in the history of football. Going with 1 RB in the first 2 rounds is very important in this league due to scarcity, but RBs are the easiest position to find on waivers every week. So grabbing a 2nd RB early in the draft is not important. Taking a bunch of fliers late in the draft on RBs will be sufficient for your 2nd RB. You still must go after players that start every week on your fantasy team. Go ahead and zig while everybody else zags. This does not mean avoid TE/QB/RBs if you think that a particular player will be an every week starter. Just don't draft those positions early if you feel you can get similar production later in your draft. I love the top 2 QBs, but I will not draft them unless they fall to me in the 3rd round. I also like Gronk in this format, but I want a stud RB before I draft him, so I can draft 3 to 4 WRs in the following rounds. Just a heads up— Gronk is being drafted as a Top 5 player, so there is a less than a 1% chance thatI get him. So let’s say you follow this strategy and draft one RB and one WR with your first 2 picks. The next 3 to 4 rounds will still have every-week starters at the WR position. Go ahead and grab at least 3 WRs. Now you are set at WR and flex for the season. Now you can focus on getting players that have the potential to start for the other positions. You only need 1 QB/TE/RB. If my draft goes as planned, then I will end up with 3 QBs, 3 TEs, and 6 RBs. Since you already have 4 WRs and if they all have different bye weeks, then you just need some WRs in case your WRs get hurt. So you can go after the non-sexy players late in your draft.
This website’s league consists of 20 man rosters and is a snake draft. They are 12 team leagues with a 13 week regular season. After Week 13, the top 4 finishers in each league advance to the championship rounds of Weeks 14, 15, and 16. No one-and-done playoff schedule. There is no trading allowed and the waiver wire consists of free agent bidding. Unlike most fantasy football sites, Scout uses an 11 man starting roster. You need to start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 Flex (RB/WR/TE), 1 DST, and 1 K every week. The big difference is the extra flex spot. This makes RB/WR/TE even more valuable. So this year since after Luck and Rodgers are drafted, the next 14 QB’s are very similar, so go ahead and wait on QB. This does not mean wait until the 11th QB is off the board until you draft a QB. This just means you should probably draft 2 of these guys. Just don't draft 2 QBs in a row unless you are in the 10th round or later. Let the draft dictate when to take a QB. If the Top 6 or7 QBs are off the board, then go ahead and get the 1st QB you want. Then wait until about Round 12 and grab your 2nd QB. I’m going to talk about trust again with QBs. If you decide that you love Cam Newton (for this site the QB only gets 4 points for a passing TD and 6 points for a rushing TD) then you need a player like Phillip Rivers. Cam Newton is an arm thrower and inconsistent on a weekly basis. Cam will likely end the season as a Top 10 QB, but you can't trust him every week to get you at least 20 points. The same goes for players like Sam Bradford (injury) and Tom Brady (suspension). The reason you must wait on QB after Luck and Rodgers is because you need to draft 8 RB/WR/TEs that start for you every week. Go look at an ADP report and you will see how big of drop off there is after Round 8. Almost everybody from Round 9 and onwards are just fliers. Yes, you hope one of these guys will turn out to be a starter every week, but the odds are against you. What I believe is the most important reason you draft in this league over a Yahoo league is the huge grand prizes. So you buy into this league and you win the league where you make more money than your buy-in. But now you enter the playoffs, where you have a chance to win life-changing money.
I already discussed the NFFC, which is my favorite league in the high stakes, but now I will explain why. The KDS system lets most people get their number 1 choice in draft order. If you don't get your 1st choice, it is usually very close. So no more wanting to draft at the beginning (1st pick) and getting the end (12th pick) or vice versa. The 2nd thing is the 3rd round reversal. The person who drafts last in the 1st round gets to draft 1st in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. This has been proven to even the odds. This site is also the most trusted of any of the sites. They have been around longer than anybody else and is owned by Stats (huge parent company).
Now that I have talked about strategy drafting in season-long drafts, I want to discuss the draft champion (or draft expert) types of drafts. These drafts consist of huge rosters of at least 24 rounds, all the way up to 35 rounds. These are best ball formats, where the most total points wins it all and there are no roster adjustments. After the draft is over, you do nothing. No waiver wire pickups, no setting weekly lineups, and no trades. The huge roster is to make sure that you have a starter to play every week even with injuries and bye weeks. If you decide to draft Peyton, Eli, and Brady, then whoever has the best week during any given week will be the player that will be your starter that week. I started doing this type of league years ago when I always made the wrong decision on who to start every week. 2 years ago I made the mistake of drafting Cam Newton in a regular season long draft. Every week I sat him he played great, and every week I started him, he did horrible. But if you would have played him in this format that year you would have had one of best QBs. All I’m going to say about this type of draft is to make sure you get 3 starting kickers, 3 decent defenses, and at least 3 QBs, but I would recommend 4. You can be more creative in this draft. I’m not a fan of zero RB theory, but the chances of it working in this format are so much better. Last thought on this draft—do not draft all upside players, even though it may sound like a great idea. I have seen the rosters of the prize winners in this type of draft and you would be surprised how many players are on their teams are boring or were considered out of favor by the analysts before the season.