• Neil O'Donnell

The Way Part 2: High IQ Drafting

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

Approaching a fantasy football season is complex. Scouting players through a fantasy lens is complex. Life is complex. Females... very complex. BUT, most importantly, drafting in fantasy football is “trying to understand the movie, Inception” complex. Let’s break it down in part two of my approach to the grueling Fantasy Football season coined, “The Way”.

Davante Adams celebrates a play by flexing for the camera.
Credit: Mike De Sisti - Milwaukee Sun Journal

Adjust Your Draft Strategy Based on Your Draft Slot

I have already spoke at length about developing your player perspective from scratch. You need to begin by brainstorming and creating a list. However, the high IQ drafter must now move towards organizing the findings, or list in this case, based on draft slot. Choosing from different slots breeds different approaches to Draft Day. You have your “no doubt” top 3/4 RB’s who are considered Tier 1 with insane usage and ample opportunity. Then we transition to around pick 5 and there are critical moral dilemmas between whether you want the 5th best RB or the #1 WR who could be more dominant. Regardless, we move to picks that act as doubles (10-12th). These teams are deciding a strategy to maximize yield of picks 10-12 because the next time they pick, nobody on the current visible board will be available.


This is all flexible and will change based on your league settings. You need to understand WHO in your league has WHAT pick and what type of players they have traditionally preferred. Knowing your fellow league members is such a crucial aspect in drafting. You obviously will never predict 100% who they will draft. Even if they try and “play it cool”, everyone is most likely dealing with an existential crisis with every pick due to the looming thought of injury, potential holdouts, or the inevitable Eddy Lacey diet catching up to players pre-training camp. It’s time we stray from the pack.

Don’t be rattled, and definitely try to be more-calm than the guy in your league whose diet is Hot Cheetos, Monsters and falling victim to Stephen A. Smith click bait.

If you can master the draft, we could be looking at the difference between you snagging a round 2/3 RB or WR steal or you panic drafting your QB #3 in the 4th round resulting in your girlfriend dumping you. I understand your team is struggling… but you can’t stop showering and punch holes in the wall on Sunday. Let’s avoid that buddy.


Analyzing Your Draft Strategy for Rounds one and Two

For the sake of visual explanation, we will break strategy down between clumps of picks and what our mentality should be in certain rounds.


Rounds 1-2

The initial rounds in your fantasy football draft really have a certain tempo and guideline it will follow naturally. Mid/End of round one will be where you need to be in control of your emotions and in the driver’s seat, you are setting up success later in the draft by maintaining flexibility. You are a flower, and after these rounds, will blossom like one. (Doing my best yoga teacher impression)

  • Picks 1-4: This is RB country this year (and usually every year) . CMC and Kamara are 1-2 in my opinion but regardless you have your choice of Chubb, Zeke, Cook, and Henry. You will be in the driver seat for picks 3-4 and should go your preference of RB1.

  • Picks 5-7: Pick 5 first. We now either get the leftover RB1’s or we go after someone like Davante, Tyreek, or whatever WR you have as #1. 6-7 are also in the same boat. You trust your gut, and if the WR has WR#1 potential don’t be scared to snub a RB. These are not the sexiest picks to obtain, but honestly, they garner a more-calm approach and you can be the most flexible round-round.

  • Picks 8-9: Best available RB1 is more important here than a WR. Kelce creeps into range just due to the gap he makes between other TE’s under him. You really are never in control of your picks and have to be most flexible at these positions. 5-7 got their preference in player in round one, moving forward they will be complete wild cards as well. This sets up 10-12, who is going to have 2 picks at a time that will be premeditated if done right.

  • Picks 10-12: Planning ahead is crucial. 1-3 has a similar strategy in later rounds The difference is, early on they got a stud. YOU have to draft thinking about how to get the highest reward with the highest floor (last year I drafted Josh Jacobs/Tyreek Hill). After these two rounds, Round 3/4 will be a long wait. Look at this as splitting a Kamara into two players who can compete up to the same level as Kamara, but will not explode into one or two separate liabilities.

Adjusting Beyond The First Two Rounds

Past Rounds 1/2 we are on tier watch. For your own sake, you should take time Pre-Draft to tier check everyone. For example: WR: Tyreek Hill (Tier 1), Davante Adams (Tier 1), Stefon Diggs (Tier 1), AJ Brown (Tier 2/3). You see how the first three are no doubt tier 1. Then you have a decision: Brown is great but an obvious drop off from the other three studs. If we scan the QB/RB/TE landscape and can see someone like Kelce (Tier 1), Waller (Tier 1), Najee Harris (Tier 2) etc. We can look to pivot and maximize our yield in that second or third round.


Leaving flexibility for yourself in Rounds 3-6 will be the reason you win the draft. Going RB-RB-RB can work, do not get me wrong. You can hit on all three and now you are dangerous. BUT, this can be very difficult for you in the draft. Round 4 will leave you not allowed to draft another RB. Wide Receiver is the popular choice now, but if you get stuck between a tier drop off, it will force you to draft Sammy Watkins and pray Lamar likes him and the Ravens pass frequently. Ok, I know you're not taking Old Man Watkins in round 4, but you get the point. On the other side, if QB’s like Mahomes, Rodgers, or Lamar are wiped out then we don’t want to reach at that position either. For Example (hypothetical depending on your rules):

  • Round 1 - Chubb

  • Round 2 - Jonathon Taylor

  • Round 3 - Najee….

  • Round 4 Options - Miles Sanders (good value), Darrel Henderson (good value), Sammy Watkins (LOL JK), or a non-tier one TE/QB.

This is tough, and those RB’s are awesome but honestly my mindset is to draft a potential top 10 performer at every position and this tanks your chances to have an evenly performing team. This may be wishful thinking but with a mix of high upside, high opportunity, being on an adequate team, etc. You can not only maximize rounds 1-6, but also rounds 7-20.


Takeaways

  • Forecast different game plans Pre-Draft

  • Do not get stuck falling off a tier cliff

  • Embrace having picks 5-7

  • Shower regularly