Draft Strategy

Where was the Value in 2018 Fantasy Drafts? (Part 1)

By Jared Smola 8:07am EDT 7/22/19


I went through this exercise 4 years ago, looking back at 2014 fantasy drafts to formulate a strategy for 2015. The biggest takeaway: spend early-round picks on RBs.

That was particularly noteworthy because it was during the middle of the Zero RB craze. The recommendation had mixed results in 2015, with early-rounders like Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte and Lamar Miller cashing in — but others like Marshawn Lynch, Eddie Lacy and C.J. Anderson busting hard.

With the fantasy landscape much different now than it was then, I thought it’d be interesting to run through the same exercise, looking back at 2018’s optimal strategy as we approach our 2019 fantasy drafts.

I’ll steal from 2015 Jared to explain why this is important …

Player evaluation is the most important part of fantasy football. That’s why we spend the majority of every offseason analyzing talent and situation to create our projections and rankings.

But player evaluation is also the hardest part of fantasy football. The end-of-season fantasy rankings never look like the rankings you draft from in August.

While we’re always looking for ways to improve our projections and rankings, we can also become better fantasy footballers by deploying a better draft strategy.

When I say draft strategy, I’m talking about when and how often we target each position. Fantasy success ultimately boils down to picking the right players. But we can improve our odds of picking the right players by understanding the positions that present the most value at different points of drafts.

Makes sense, right?

So how do we figure out when and how often we should be targeting each position? There are surely other methods, but how I’m doing it is by looking at the average “starter weeks” per player found at each position in each round of 2018 fantasy drafts.

Stick with me.

We define a “starter week” as a top 12 QB finish, a top 24 RB finish, a top 36 WR finish, a top 12 TE finish and a top 12 DEF finish. We can determine where the value was in 2018 fantasy drafts by calculating how many starter weeks an average player produced at each round and at each position.

Let’s look at a quick example. Last year, WRs Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham were picked in the 1st round of average fantasy drafts. Those 3 guys combined for 40 WR starter weeks. Divide that by 3 and we get an average of 13.3 starter weeks from a 1st-round WR last year.

Let’s look at that data for each position for the first 16 rounds of average 2018 drafts. For the purposes of this project, we’ll consider any player drafted outside the first 16 rounds a free agent.


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