Free Agent Focus

2013 Fantasy Football Draft Tips

By Jared Smola 6:00am EST 2/20/13

Gearing up for your 2013 fantasy football draft? You've come to the right place! has a few tips for you on your big day. Some of these pointers are specific to this season, while others are good rules to follow in any year.

By Jared Smola,

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #1

Last year's stats don't equal this year's stats

This one sounds simple enough, but many people put too much weight on a player's previous season. Just because Shonn Greene finished 2012 as the 15th best RB or James Jones as the 16th best WR doesn't mean those guys should be drafted among the elite at their positions. A lot changes from year to year. Do your research, examine trends, and then determine what each player's value is for this season when putting together your fantasy football rankings.

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #2

Wait on a QB

While QB is one of the most important positions on the field for NFL franchises, the position is not as crucial in fantasy football. There are always serviceable starters in the middle rounds of drafts. Check this out: Over the past 3 seasons, the average difference between the #1 QB (a standard league's top starter) and the #12 QB (a standard league's worst starter) was just 6.5 points per game. The average difference over the same time span between the #1 (best starter) and #24 (worst starter) RBs was 11.0 points per game. The difference between the #1 and #36 WRs was 7.8 points per game. In short, because more RBs and WRs are in starting lineups each week, the value of a top RB or WR is much greater than that of an elite QB. Simple supply and demand.

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #3

RBBCs have created more RB depth

Long gone are the days of the workhorse back. The dreaded running-back-by-committee has taken the NFL by storm. From 2000 to 2006, an average of 18.4 RBs per season rushed for at least 1,000 yards. Over the past 6 years, that number has dropped to 15.8. And how about this: 2000 to 2006 produced an average of 9.9 RBs with 300+ carries. No season since 2007 has seen more than 7 RBs hit the 300-carry mark. The average over that span was just 5.2. Carries and rushing yards aren't disappearing. They are just being distributed to a greater number of RBs. An average of 39 RBs per season have topped 500 rushing yards over the past 3 years. Only 33 guys accomplished that feat back in 2000. The rise of the RBBC has led to fewer stud RBs but far more serviceable ones. Consequently, fantasy owners no longer need to load up on RBs early in drafts. The true workhorses are as valuable as ever. But once they're off the board, don't be afraid to grab a couple stud WRs and then nab a bunch of high-upside RBs in the middle rounds.

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #4

Grab a stud TE

This strategy back-fired in 2012. Owners who spent a 1st or 2nd-round pick on Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski didn't get a good return on their investment. Graham struggled through a lingering wrist injury, seeing his numbers drop across the board. Gronk went down with a broken forearm that knocked him out for the fantasy playoffs. That doesn't mean you should shy away from those guys in 2013 though. In fact, you'll likely be able to get them at more reasonable prices this summer. Graham and Gronkowski remain elite, game-changing players at a position that has become a fantasy albatross. Grabbing one of those guys will give your fantasy squad a big edge over your opponent each and every week.

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #5

Worry about weather

When deciding between 2 similar players, take the climate they play in into account. Draft QBs and WRs who play in warm weather or domes. Even in his ridiculous 2007 season, Tom Brady was held back by blustery conditions in Foxboro at the tail end of the year. Many fantasy football playoff games are lost due to games played in wintry conditions. Don't knock guys who play in cold weather too far down your cheat sheet, but start to take weather into account when you get into the middle rounds of your draft.

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #6

Draft for upside in the later rounds

Go big or go home! When you are looking for your 4th RB or 5th WR, there is little reason to take a guy like Ronnie Brown or Nate Washington. Instead, draft a boom or bust type (LaMichael James, for example). If he ends up being a bust, you can always drop him. If he pans out though, you'll look like a genius.

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #7

Wait until the last 2 rounds to draft a K and DEF

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, like QBs, each team in your league likely starts just 1 K and 1 DEF. That means the demand for each position is low. Second, the turnover at these two positions is so great that drafting them is like throwing darts blindfolded. Among the top 10 Ks and DEFs selected in 2012 fantasy drafts, only 9 actually finished among the 10 best at their position. That's an ugly 45% hit rate. It's a crapshoot. And there will always be a K or DEF on the waiver wire that will finish the year in the top 10. This past season it was Ks like Blair Walsh and Justin Tucker and DEFs like the Chargers and Rams. Load up on all the other positions, and then take a stab at a K and a DEF with your last 2 picks.

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