We’ve all heard the old adage you can’t win your league on draft day but you can certainly lose it.  This could be true if everyone in your league checks out with 25% or more of their roster still to be drafted.  You know the deal… you’re happy with your first 10 picks because you got most of the players you wanted and now your good to mail it in, log off, and catch the 11 pm Sports Center. After all you’ve put in a hard day’s work AND executed your fantasy plan to perfection.  What if you make the conscious decision to grind it out and be super strategic with your last 4-5 picks?  Then perhaps that old adage mentioned doesn’t hold true, so let’s take a look at how we can be more intentional with our team(s) this year.

First off make sure you do your homework and check your league settings to see if drafting depth is even possible.  There are leagues that exist which may only have 3-4 bench spots meaning you’ll have to be way more proactive on the waiver wire every week, while being far more intentional on drafting proven players.  6 bench spots is about the norm, and should give you plenty of room to work your draft day “mojo”.

Secondly please don’t be fooled by any of the hundreds of thousands of articles available to you.  Social media, fantasy sports blogs and draft magazines ruined it for the fantasy football purest years ago.  If there’s a player on your radar rest assured he’s on multiple radars, so plan accordingly.  While we’re in the business of making crazy absolutes chew on this – THERE ARE NO EXPERTS.  Seriously have you ever tried tracking some of these guys?  Their job is to make as many predictions as possible and at the end of the day their picks average out so for every article you find that says Montee Ball will be a top 3 RB this year, you’ll find one that says stay away from Montee Ball, he’s terrible in pass protection and can’t hold onto the rock.  Instead consider yourself the expert.  You have angles to play as well.   You’re a fan of the sport.  If you can’t decide on a player, choose the one you’d rather root for, but don’t sell yourself short by reading these articles as fantasy gospel, except for this one of course.  If you pride yourself on playing in a league where you are the only one that knows who the “sleepers” are then its likely you are the type of person who’s plan B is their plan A.

So let this piece merely be a guide on how to draft for strategy but you can choose the players.  You have 6 bench spots you need to fill, here’s what you don’t need – extra defenses, kickers, TEs, and QBs.  If you’ve secured a top 3 QB in Brees, Manning or Rodgers, you’re rolling with them no matter what defense their matched up with, even Seattle.  So when your bye week comes, spot start a QB, hope for the best and be done.  The same rule applies for a top 3 TE.  If you have Graham, Gronk or Julius Thomas you are set except for a bye week.  Back up QBs are for real football teams, not fake ones.  What if your prized QB gets injured?   Ask the St. Louis Rams if you can find them up the creek they just floated away on.  If any of your top 2 picks fall to injury you will have a long road back, so cross that bridge when you get to it as the Mannings, Bradys, and Brees’ of the world miss very few games.  DEF and K work the same way – they are merely rentals and you could essentially play matchups on both those positions every week.  So be confident choosing New England’s defense and enjoy a weak divisional schedule, and an even weaker fantasy playoff schedule.

Instead load up on 6 fringe players you’ve heard a lot of buzz about, but don’t want to spend big money on. Check out this list of players who are one injury away from being a focal point in their offense.

  • Brandin Cooks- Darren Sproles got a bunch of targets, someone’s going to get them
  • Jordan Matthews-70 offensive plays a game for a slot receiver with size, draft and  hold
  • Justin Hunter – He’s a matchup nightmare on a team that needs to throw the ball a lot
    Or players that your just not sure about maybe because their on a new team or in a new system or due for a bounce back.

  • Ray Rice-if Steve Slaton can be successful in the zone blocking run scheme so can Rice
  • Knowshon Moreno – injury risk, but you can get him on the cheap, think Clinton Portis
  • Reggie Wayne-  old but can still bring it, stay focused and get him only as later draft
    Stocking up on a couple of rookies can’t hurt either – you just need one to break through, as usually one does every year.

  • Mike Evans-will line up opposite Vincent Jackson and will see single coverage
  • Terrence West-think Alfred Morris, but a bit faster, a passing game would increase his value
  • Bishop Sankey-all he did was rip off big gains and score in college.  He will get a chance
    So grab what you can when you can get it.  If you’re in an auction draft, save a little change and have every player your want.  If you’re in a traditional wrap around snake draft, don’t be tempted by players who will likely never start on your roster and the chances are one or more of your 6 players will make a significant impact come playoff time.

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