FF Tips

2014 Fantasy Football Draft Tips

By Jared Smola 2:31pm EST 2/7/14

Gearing up for your 2014 fantasy football draft? You've come to the right place! DraftSharks.com 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.

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 Fred Jackson finished 2013 as the 10th best RB or Julian Edelman as the 18th 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.  Speaking of those rankings …

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #2

Trust your rankings – You put in countless hours piecing together your fantasy football cheat sheet.  Trust it.  Don’t bump a guy way up your rankings just because you read that preseason puff piece an hour before your draft.  Don’t drop a guy way down because he struggled in a preseason game.  Trust the research you did all summer and don’t let emotions get in the way when it comes time to draft your fantasy team.

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #3

Be flexible – There’s nothing wrong with heading into your fantasy draft with a basic plan.  Maybe you want to load up on RBs early.  Maybe you want to make sure you land a stud TE.  Fine.  But you need to be willing to diverge from that plan when necessary.  A draft is a living, breathing thing.  And each one is different.  So no matter how many mock drafts you run through or how long you stare at that ADP data, you’ll be thrown some curve balls in your draft.  That’s when you need to adjust on the fly, trust your rankings and grab value where it presents itself.

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #4

Wait on a QB – This is a staple of the Draft Sharks philosophy.  While QB is one of the most important positions on the field for NFL franchises, the position is not as crucial in fantasy football.  Yeah, having Peyton Manning this past year was fun.  But he turned in the best statistical season in NFL history.  More often than not, you don’t get good value by taking a QB in the first few rounds.  And there are always serviceable starters in the middle rounds of drafts.  Six of 2013’s top 10 QBs (Andy Dalton, Matt Stafford, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson) could be had in the 5th round or later in 12-team fantasy drafts.  Rivers and Roethlisberger were available on a lot of waiver wires.  Simply put, there are more quality QBs in the NFL than starting spots in your fantasy league.  The same can’t be said at the other positions.

Fantasy Football Draft Tips - #5

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 7 years, that number has dropped to 15.4.  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 4.7.  And only 2 RBs reached 300 carries in 2013 (LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch).  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 4 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 stud WRs and maybe an elite TE – and then nab a bunch of high-upside RBs in the middle rounds.

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 Michael Bush or Mohamed Sanu. Instead, draft a boom or bust type (Justin Hunter, 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, 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 2 positions is so great that drafting them is like throwing darts blindfolded.  Among the top 10 Ks and DEFs selected in 2013 fantasy drafts, only 5 Ks and 5 DEFs actually finished among the 10 best at their position.  It’s a 50-50 proposition.  You might as well flip a coin.  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 Nick Novak and Steven Hauschka and DEFs like the Chiefs and Panthers.  Load up on all the other positions, and then take a stab at a K and a DEF with your last 2 picks.  You’ll likely end up churning the waiver wire at both positions all season. 

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