Last Updated: Aug 12, 2014 1:19 PM
10 Commandments for Winning at Fantasy Football
This is the ninth in a series of articles geared toward winning at fantasy football. To find more content on useful ways you can win your league, click here
9th Commandment - Thou Shall NOT Draft a Kicker or Team Defense Too Early
Do not select a Defense until later in the draft (3 or 4 rounds to go as a guideline), unless Defenses play a huge role in your league, and even then try and hold out until at least the 11th round (in a 18 round draft).
There is always one or two teams that feel the need to go out and get the best Defense. They think that the team with the best D from last year did great, and he's going to do that this year. The problem with that is predicting the top Defense can be harder than it looks.
If you go back over the last decade only a few teams have consistently been great Fantasy Defenses. It's generally hard to repeat as the top fantasy D. SO we prefer to play the odds and NOT take a Defense early and instead look to get any 1 or 2 of our top 10 Defenses. Sometimes we follow this strategy and end up getting a D we want in nearly the last round.
Looking back to last year; even the top Defenses were not THAT special. In a typical league scoring system there were a number of teams that were within 2 points a game of the #1 team. There is no viable reason to reach for a Defense. Our point is that you can still get plenty of value if you do your homework and go in with a handful of “Value” or “Sleeper” Defenses, and just make sure you get one of them.
The fact is, I almost always pick up a solid D from the waiver wire each season that outperforms what everyone expects, so I refuse to overpay for a position I can easily improve from the waiver wire.
Years ago, I went into the draft with a strategy on Defenses, and it was to make sure I got one from the AFC Central (when it used to exist). The reasoning is all were decent Defenses, and all got to play the then horrendous Offenses of CIN, CLE & PIT twice a year. Usually the Defense I ended up with was one of TEN, BAL or JAX and each year one of them helped me to a Championship over the 3-year span.
That system doesn't work as well since re-alignment, but it helps illustrate my point. If you go in with a solid plan, you don't have to be the guy who wastes a top 8 round pick on a Defense that you end up needing to replace off the waiver wire. At the beginning of the season look at the top available Defense on the waiver wire and take a shot if you have a spot. Stay proactive and always look to upgrade, eventually one will work out.
Also, most teams in your league would prefer to carry only one defense, unless they are forced to carry more. Therefore you can always find a decent D available if you're in a pinch, as usually there is at least one top 10 Defense on the wire.
All this leads to our strategy of waiting on your Defense.
I have a rule, “I would rather have…”, and I apply it to Defenses and Kickers. I won't look to a D if any of my top (x amount of guys) are available at each position. As of right now, according to our rankings I would rather have any of the top following guys at each position, before a Defense:
I'drather have any of my top..
24 QB's, before taking a Defense
50 RB's, before taking a Defense
70 WR's, before taking a Defense
18 TE's, before taking a Defense
I guess if you add all of those up you get 162, so in a 12-team league as of right now I am waiting until the 13 or 14th round or so. Now, if you have a tremendous draft and build depth all over, you could always take one a little earlier, but you may be costing yourself more depth.
I have devised a plan with my Defense for this year, and will put out my list of “Sleeper/Value” Defense to get late in your draft soon, so stay tuned…
As for Kickers, honestly the reasoning is almost identical. Kickers are just hard to predict.
The thinking I have for Kickers is the identical one to Defenses except the target round changes (3 or 4 rounds to go as a guideline),:
I'drather have any of my top..
24 QB's, before taking a Kicker
50 RB's, before taking a Kicker
70 WR's, before taking a Kicker
18 TE's, before taking a Kicker
So if any of these players are still available, I'd likely take them over even my top ranked Kicker.
I do have a strategy for eventually taking my kickers as well, or for how I determine which I like the most. My goal is to basically get any of my top 10 or so as late as I can. The first thing I look for is a powerful offense that plays in a dome. So my goal would be to get the Kicker from ATL, DAL, DET, NO, etc.
After that, I look for the best offenses NOT in a dome.
After that I try to find the teams with good defenses, as I think their Kicker tends to decide a lot of games, and their coaches are usually more content with settling for FGs as they have faith in their Defense.
We take all of this into account for you in our Kicker rankings, but the main thing I want you to remember is DO NOT take your kicker until the last few rounds of the draft, trust me you'll thank us later.