Welcome to August, home of two things: 95 degree days with back-breaking humidity and the start of the NFL regular season. We are less than two weeks away from kickoff, which means we are approaching the peak of fantasy draft season. With that in mind, I wanted to start off my NFL coverage this year with a few of the most important things to know in order to have success on draft day.
For the record, this article is designed for those that are relatively new to fantasy football. However, there are still some helpful points for even the oldest of veterans. Also, all statistics used in this article are from ESPN’s PPR fantasy football rankings.
Don’t be in a rush to get a quarterback
One of the biggest mistakes new fantasy players make is that they equate real football to fantasy football. In real football, the single most valuable position is without a doubt the quarterback (QB). However, this changes in a fantasy league.
Of quarterbacks that started the majority of their games last year, Patrick Mahomes led the league with an average of 25 points per game. He will undoubtedly be the first QB off of the draft board, but is he worth it? What would, say, the 10th best QB get you per game? Last year, that would have gotten you about 21 points per game. The biggest difference? Patrick Mahomes is going in the top 20 of drafts as of right now, while the 10th highest QB is going at pick 99. And, of course, that is none other than Ryan Tannehill.
Now, for the important part. Let’s say you took Mahomes at pick 20 and had to take a running back at pick 99. Based on the current Average Draft Position (ADP), you would be stuck with Raheem Mostert. Now, Mostert is a fine player, but he is projected to score a mere 9.1 points per game. Now, let’s do some math. If you added Mostert’s 9.1 points per game to Mahomes’ 22 projected points per game, you would come out with about 31 points per game from your QB and running back on a weekly basis. Now, what if we switched the order?
If you took a running back first, you would be able to get Najee Harris, the dominant prospect from Alabama. He is projected to score 15.7 points per game, with elite upside. With him out of the way first, let’s assume you did take Ryan Tannehill with your later pick. He would get you about 17 points per game, with the potential for more. If you added those two up, you would get 33 points per game from your starting QB and running back, which is better than if you went QB early.
However, the benefits don’t just stop there. At the end of the day, it is incredibly difficult to find a running back with a consistent role and a ton of talent in the NFL. These days, more and more teams are moving to a committee approach where they rely on the talent of three or more running backs, which kills their individual value. On the other hand, exciting quarterbacks are a dime a dozen nowadays in fantasy football. Want to snag Trevor Lawrence, the best college prospect since Andrew Luck? He is going as the 14th highest QB in drafts. Want to grab Baker Mayfield, the electric playmaker in Cleveland? He is going 15th, at an average pick of 145.7. Want Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Fields, a pair of ridiculous athletes that can do it all? Lucky for you, they each have an average draft position of over 148.
That is the key difference between quarterback and every other position in fantasy football. At pick 145, for a quarterback, you can choose between a pair of potential superstars in this league. If you wanted a running back at pick 145? You get Nyheim Hines, the third best running back on his own team.
Understand your league rules
Fantasy football is a great game. It is also, however, a very varied game. There are a number of different league styles, and it is essential to know which one you are a part of. How many FLEX positions do you have? How many quarterbacks do you have to start? What is the draft type? Do you get an IR slot? How many bench positions are there? Is that more than usual? Do tight ends get extra points per reception?
Each of those questions have huge implications on your draft strategy. Be sure to correlate whatever research you do with your league style. For example, I will be playing in a standard, one point per reception (PPR) league this year, which is why I cited the rankings that I did. Make sure that you do the same!
Fantasy football is a silly game where you make fake teams to get fake points to beat other fake teams. At its heart, the game is just a way for you to connect with some of your favorite players. With that in mind, throw all strategy out the window if it makes you happy! Have you always been a lifelong Chiefs fan? Draft Mahomes in the first round! Love repping the University of Tennessee? Grab Alvin Kamara first overall! Do you love kickers? It is never too early for Justin Tucker!
The goal of your team is to win, but the goal of fantasy football is to have fun.
Thank you for reading, and I hope I see you soon! I will be covering the NFL on a weekly basis this year, so I am quite excited for things to get started!
Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.