High-Stakes Redraft Strategies
High-stakes leagues are tempting, especially to casual players, with extravagant paydays attracting everyone with even the slightest interest in fantasy football. Playing for big money does require a slightly different approach, as the competition is stiffer and the financial rewards can tend to cloud judgement. Here are some guidelines for taking a swing at a hefty prize pool, along with some reminders about general draft approaches.
Don’t Overthink It
Playing for big money can sometimes make people draft differently and take risks at the wrong time. Your first three picks should not be risky, they should be guys you can rely on week in and week out. In the middle rounds is when you draft those upside guys. Then the later rounds are where you take your shots with sleepers. You should always love your first three picks and yes, you want upside but you should also be drafting for consistency early on. Don’t let those dollar signs cloud your judgement.
Take Your Guys
Avoiding risk early on is key, but there’s still room to buck ADP trends and think outside the box. If you are a strong believer in a player, you should draft him where you project he should go not where the consensus has him.
For instance, if Miles Sanders’ ADP is near the end of the 7th round, he could be worth taking in the late fifth or sixth if you see him leading the team in touches and holding off Jordan Howard. Just know that the experts in these drafts probably have the same idea. Be aware of who you’re drafting with and understand others may see Sanders’ upside more than say your college buddies in your home league.
In high stakes leagues, everyone will be active on the waiver wire and the trade market. You’re going to need to nail a few draft picks for that initial edge. This applies to most leagues, but again, the added stakes make each decision a bit more critical.
Will Fuller is someone that I am very high on this year. A little over a month ago I was getting him in the end of the sixth or in the seventh round. He’s always had problems staying healthy but when he has been on the field all he does is produce. Fuller has scored 11 touchdowns in 11 games with Deshaun Watson.
Justice Hill is another target, a kid with a ton of talent in a backfield that has Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Kenneth Dixon. Hill is already a better running back than all of those guys and even if it takes a few weeks, this is an offense where the lead back will be someone you want to have shares of.
You have to be able to see a path to players in these middle to late rounds getting the volume to have big years.
In non-PPR leagues, a running back is much more valuable than a receiver, given the disparity in touches and lack of points per reception. There were 23 running backs last year with more rushing attempts than the highest targeted receiver in 2018. This is without even factoring in the targets through the air for those RBs.
For me, I like going RB heavy to start out my standard league draft. Guys like Derrick Henry, Marlon Mack, and Sony Michel are better in this format because they see most of their team’s rushing attempts, especially when they get in goal line situations.
PPR Makes a Difference
Targets equal opportunity, so in a PPR format we want receivers with high target upside and high catch percentages. In 2018, there were 25 wide receivers with over 100 targets. A player like Michael Thomas stands out in this sense. He had 146 targets and 125 receptions with the highest catch percentage of any WR with at least 75 targets last season. Thomas finished 11th in PPR among running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, but 17th in standard scoring, held back a bit by a lack of touchdowns.
Receivers early on makes more sense in this format, along with pass-catching running backs who you might avoid in standard leagues. Guys like James White and Tarik Cohen come to mind, two guys who weren’t lead backs but saw around 50% of the snaps. Both had under 100 rushing attempts last season, but were in the top 11 among RBs in PPR scoring.
If I lose out on one of those top 4four or five running backs in the first round, starting wide receiver-heavy makes more sense where we have guys like White and Cohen who offer great upside at their ADP later in drafts.
Waiting On A QB
This one is a staple, no matter the setting. Last year Matt Ryan and Patrick Mahomes were often going in the double-digit rounds of drafts, only to end up as the top-two fantasy quarterbacks. With even more depth available this year, there should be several QB1 performers available in the double-digit rounds.
To read more about redraft strategy, check out this article by Matthew Gajewski.