What would life be without NFL Fantasy? Who knows, because we’re not those people.
We like to beat our mates, win fantasy championships and remind everyone for years to come. Maybe even design T-shirts to strut around in.
Many people like to play NFL Fantasy, and that’s fine. But we like to win fantasy. And there are certain draft strategies that increase your odds. Let’s brush up, as draft season heats up.
Best draft strategies in NFL Fantasy
Draft strategies: What is the Value-based draft strategy?
Reasonably self-explanatory, value-based drafting is letting the draft come to you; take the best available player, considering positional cost, and allowing the value to land in your lap as the draft unfolds.
It’s wise to take a value-based approach into every draft and also be ready to pivot if a particular trend or position group suffers swift depletion.
This approach is recommended to fantasy players that enjoy trading. If that’s you, take the best available player and then find trade partners later; draft the best players and then work hard to build an elite starting roster. That’s setting you up for success because you’ve extracted more value out of the draft than your league mates.
Yeah/nah rating: Yeeeah, with three E’s.
Draft strategies: What is the value-based strategy?
‘Zero RB’, or zero running back, is a more controversial approach that’s been gaining steam the last five or so years. Gun fantasy analyst Shawn Siegele was originally behind this approach, with an anti-fragility theme in mind. The idea is to skip on running backs – ‘fragile’ assets – in the earlier rounds and cobble together an insane wide receiver group.
The philosophy of Zero RB is around embracing the chaos of an NFL season, understanding that players will get hurt and accepting that running backs get injured more frequently than players in other positions. With that in mind, running back production heavily relies on usage and is more repeatable by whoever is an NFL team’s backup, replacement or ‘handcuff’.
It’s a lot harder for replacement receivers to step up and be consistently productive, if there’s an injury to the starter. So therefore, draft great receivers early and grab some high-upside running backs in the mid-to-late rounds and prioritise finding replacement running back production as the season unfolds.
Don’t take it entirely literally, you still need to find good running backs. Just use ‘zero’ of your early-round picks on one. If executed properly, this strategy gives you the best chance to add the most value to your roster, as the chaos of an NFL season kicks in.
Yeah/nah rating: Yep!
Draft strategies: What is the Hero RB fantasy strategy?
This is actually kind of the ‘Zero RB’ approach that many experts deploy in a competitive league.
Hero RB is basically doing the Zero RB thing, where you load up on quality receivers early and then spam the mid-to-late-round Running Backs with warts but upside. The difference is that you start your draft with a bona fide workhorse stud back with true RB1 upside.
Yeah/nah rating: Big yep.
Draft strategies: What is the Robust RB fantasy strategy?
Kind of the opposite of Zero RB, this strategy is about taking a few gun running backs in the early rounds and then trying to scoop up value at receiver a little later.
Some drafters swear by this strategy, citing that ‘the running back dead zone’ is fool’s gold. The RB dead zone is essentially middle-round running backs that all have a couple of red flags.
There are two problems with Robust RB. The first is that if one of your star backs gets injured, your team all of a sudden looks very mediocre. The other issue is that it’s really hard to find consistent receiver production in the mid-to-late rounds. You’ll have no trouble finding receivers, but it’s impossible to know which weeks the more unreliable ones will actually pop off. And that’s a problem in week-to-week redraft leagues; you don’t need constant start-sit headaches right the way through the season.
Yeah/nah rating: naah with two A’s.
Draft strategies: What is the Late-Round QB strategy?
Analyst JJ Zacharison was originally behind this drafting principle, but it’s certainly lost its appeal in the last couple of seasons, as more and more fantasy gamers get sharper.
Back in the day, waiting for your league mates to spend an early pick on a flashy, big-name quarterback would pay huge dividends. Because you could find cheat code options late in the draft; quarterbacks that had a high rushing floor or unforeseen ceiling as a passer.
The trick with quarterback is that passing touchdown efficiency is kind of random. A QB can lead an offensive drive right down to the opposition one-yard line, but they won’t be rewarded if the running back then punches it into the end zone.
So it made sense to take a stab on the position later on, knowing an option or two may even pop up on the waiver wire as well. But some leagues are weird, where too many people will roster multiple QBs and leave the waiver wire dry.
Projecting out the top QB scorers has become more efficient and these days, there’s value in guys like Pat Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson — they’re elite passers but also offer varying rushing upside. The difference between them and some of the mediocre quarterbacks in the league has pushed certain passers back up drafts, leaving the Late-Round QB strategy more fraught with danger
Yeah/nah rating: Yeah, but probs nah.
Bully Tight End
Draft strategies: What is the Bully Tight End strategy?
Like Late-Round QB, this is one of those draft strategies that can be deployed along with other draft strategies. Like quarterback, Tight End is a ‘onesie’ position — in most fantasy leagues, you only need to play one of them each week. But unlike quarterback, there are only a few viable top-end talents at the Tight End position.
So why not piss off your league mates and take two of the elite guys, like Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews? After all, you can play a second Tight End in your flex slot and ensure you’ll never get caught without at least one great option in you TE slot.
Well this is a hard one to pull off, because projecting Tight End production is not easy – just ask last year’s Kyle Pitts owners. If you miss on one of these guys, you’ve just spent far too much capital on the position and crucially missed out in other positions you need to fill.
You’ll need to thread the needle and hit on late round value at other positions to make this work. Grab one great Tight End by all means, but don’t think you’ll be the one to make Bully TE work.
Yeah/nah rating: Nah. Don’t be that guy/girl.