Welcome to the 45th installment of the “The Wrong Read.” Believe it or not, this week’s edition is somewhat inspired by a podcast episode. On a recent episode of RotoViz Radio, host Dave Caban and guest host Shawn Siegele go through a half-PPR draft with the Draft Dashboard.
With a few tweaks I thought it might be possible to use the Draft Dashboard to practice drafting a team for the DRAFT Best Ball Championship. As the $25 entry fee for the Best Ball Championship is not quite an insignificant amount of money, getting as many practice drafts in as possible before drafting multiple real entries should help calibrate your expectations.
Keep reading to see how I set up the Draft Dashboard to enable this.
In the previous edition of “The Wrong Read,” I noted how a Zero-RB strategy appeared to give you several advantages in the DRAFT Best Ball Championship. Not only does it help you score more points in the critical playoff weeks, but it also is likely to be an underutilized strategy, thereby further differentiating your team from the other playoff teams. But before executing the strategy, it would help to have some idea of the sort of players you can expect to be able to draft. The Draft Dashboard can help. Today I’ll use it to draft a DRAFT best ball team that should provide some upside during the most important weeks of the season.
Setting Up the Draft Dashboard
Before doing mock drafts with the Draft Dashboard, it’s important to make sure you set up the league correctly, and this goes beyond simply setting the right number of teams and starting lineup requirements. DRAFT Best Ball Championship leagues are 12-team leagues, and every DRAFT best ball draft is 18 rounds, and includes no defense or kicker.
You start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, and one flex. Scoring is half-PPR.1
After importing DRAFT ADP, if you go ahead and begin to mock draft, you will find that the results do not exactly match what you see in real life. Either because the Draft Dashboard is not optimized for best ball drafts, or because it’s actually much smarter than real-life drafters,2 the Draft Dashboard tends to wait on both QB and TE far longer than actual drafters do. Even after turning the CPU Team Settings to “QB-heavy,” QBs like Dak Prescott and Jared Goff often went undrafted through 18 rounds.
Getting accurate results with the Draft Dashboard requires a few manual adjustments to the CPU Team Settings. Here are the settings I used, assigned somewhat randomly, to ensure the CPU prioritized QB and TE to slightly greater degree:
You can copy these or make small adjustments, but as you can see, replicating the results of actual drafts requires you to be extremely aggressive when manually setting the CPU’s QB preferences. The early results in terms of positional breakdown look realistic:
Even with these extreme settings, four teams (including mine, the Broncos, drafting ninth) have yet to draft a QB, and three have yet to draft a TE through eight rounds.
Setting the QB and TE preferences so high somewhat ensures that no team tries any non-standard roster construction — when I took my first RB, Ronald Jones, in the fifth round, every other team had at least one, and most had two. The only exception is the Raiders, drafting from the 10th slot, who waited until the seventh round to take their first WR, Devin Funchess.3 This is not ideal, but in terms of positional scarcity, the differences should be minor.
The most surprising pick, no doubt due in part to my extreme CPU Team Settings, is Rob Gronkowski going at Pick 1.03. Many QBs were drafted earlier than you will typically see, such as Deshaun Watson in the third and Cam Newton and Drew Brees in the sixth. At the same time, I was able to draft Matt Ryan in the 14th and Alex Smith in the 16th — far later than they are typically drafted. Actual drafts will see QB picks more concentrated in the middle rounds. So these extreme settings go too far in one way, and not far enough in another. Still, this should give some sense of the sort of players available in each round, especially at RB and WR.
My Perfect DRAFT Draft (Sort of)
My final team lacks RB depth. Although D’Onta Foreman, Matt Breida, and Jeremy Hill all have the realistic potential to produce spiked weeks and outperform their draft positions, both Foreman and Hill also have realistic chances of producing zeros for the most if not all of the season. Ideally I’d like a little more safety, but there is a reason Foreman and Hill were available when I was able to get them.
My nominal starting RBs are also in uncertain situations, but for the time being Ronald Jones looks like the lead back in Tampa Bay. And it would probably surprise few people if Tarik Cohen ended up with around 100 carries and 100 targets — exactly the workload that helped Christian McCaffrey finish 2017 as the RB9 and Alvin Kamara finish as the RB3. These are both high-upside picks with established roles that I would be comfortable drafting at least a round earlier.
My Other Perfect DRAFT Draft
One of my favorite features of the Draft Dashboard4 is the “Could Have Drafted” table. One thing it allows you to do is to start from the last round and see who was still available when you made your pick, and then construct your team backwards.
Mitch Trubisky was still there when I took Jeremy Hill with my last pick.5 If I pencil him in for my final pick, this frees up an earlier QB pick that I can use elsewhere.
Corey Coleman was available in the 17th round when I picked my third TE, Gerald Everett. Coleman’s trade to the Bills is not an obvious upgrade, but it gives him a chance to emerge as one of the target leaders on the team, given the dearth of receiving options in Buffalo. It’s a chance I’m willing to bet on in the 17th round, and even several rounds earlier, as I expect a modest bump in his ADP as a result of the trade. Now that I’ve locked up a high-upside WR in the 17th, I can use an earlier pick elsewhere. You can keep building your alternative team this way, from the last round to the first, using your knowledge of who is available in the later rounds to inform your early round picks.
The resulting team that I could have drafted reinforces a roster construction tactic I’ve been using a lot this offseason, almost by accident, which is to go after two early TEs.6 In this case, as mentioned, the elite TEs went much earlier than expected, so although I could have drafted Travis Kelce in the second round, he was the only Top-3 option available to me.7 In most DRAFT drafts, one or both of these two is often available in Round 3, and Ertz is occasionally available in Round 4.8
This particular “Could Have Drafted” team goes with what I guess you could call a One-RB strategy, taking Saquon Barkley in the first and then avoiding RB until the seventh round. On this team I’m actually much happier with my RB corps, as all should have some standalone value to give me a usable weekly floor, along with the potential for multiple weak-winning performances. All (except Barkley) fit the mold of backs who could have much more value at the end of the season than they do at the beginning.
The only player who makes an appearance on both teams is Amari Cooper, whom I had to take one round earlier in my “Could Have Drafted” scenario. In truth I would almost certainly stick with Stefon Diggs in the third, rather than reach for Cooper, who I know has a decent shot of coming back around in the fourth.
This is, of course, only one of many possible ways to build a successful team, and admittedly it’s probably not the best way.9 Play around with the Draft Dashboard to see if you can construct a $100,000-winning team for the DRAFT Best Ball Championship.
- The scoring actually doesn’t matter for the Draft Dashboard, since we are going to import our own ADP. (back)
- Probably a combination of the two. (back)
- The Raiders also selected four QBs, something that you will rarely (but not never) see in DRAFT drafts. (back)
- And also the feature most likely to bring out my tendency toward buyer’s remorse. (back)
- He’s unlikely to be there in a real DRAFT draft, but for the purposes of illustration, just go along with me for now. (back)
- I executed this strategy in the Scott Fish Bowl, for instance. (back)
- Obviously I could have drafted Zach Ertz in the second instead, but I would not have been able to draft both Ertz and Kelce. (back)
- Gronkowski, as mentioned, went off the board before I even made my first pick. I have yet to see him go that early in any DRAFT draft. (back)
- In particular, I paid no attention to bye weeks when doing this mock, which would be a mistake in a real draft. (back)