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High-Staked: What We Learned in 2018 (So Far)

What sets the high-stakes FFPC Main Event apart from other season-long formats is the brevity of the regular season: just 11 games in each individual league, where each team plays one game against every other opponent. That often makes for a decidedly different draft strategy versus other formats.

With that regular season coming to an end, we can look back at some of the picks that proved to make or break owners’ fantasy fortunes – as we also point out that those fortunes could still change, because of the number of starters involved in tonight’s Chiefs-Rams game.

YOU COULD’VE WAITED ON QB

Early QBs may not necessarily have sunk teams that were among the first to take one, but this year again proved you could wait. Going into Week 10, the top four QBs off the board – Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson – were all hovering either just above or below the threshold of QB1 status. Meanwhile, the top QB, Patrick Mahomes, was drafted by most of his owners as a backup.

In our two Main Event leagues, three out of the four likely playoff teams in each league took a QB in the 10th round or later. We wrapped up the likely second seed with a team where we took Jimmy Garoppolo as our starter in the 15th round and Andy Dalton in the 17th, eventually adding Baker Mayfield after Garoppolo was out for the year. In that same league, one likely playoff team waited until the 20th and final round to draft its QB, taking Mitchell Trubisky, who went into the weekend as the overall fifth-best in weekly FFPC points. In some leagues, you could have added Trubisky off waivers a month into the season.

YOU SHOULD’VE DRAFTED TRAVIS KELCE OR ZACH ERTZ

Rob Gronkowski, the consensus top tight end off the board, has killed teams, particularly those that paired him with Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette. Yes, you can blame injury somewhat, but aside from the opening game, even when he’s played, Gronk has been a shell of his typically dominant self.

Ertz and Kelce, however, have been far and away the dominant TEs in the FFPC format, which gives 1.5 points per catch for the position. If you missed on one of them, and you didn’t get lucky by landing Eric Ebron or George Kittle, then you likely suffered through a lot of inconsistent weeks at a tight end position that was decimated by injuries and unreliable starters all season.

YOU SHOULD’VE FADED ROOKIE RBS

Well, except for Saquon Barkley. It’s a personal philosophy of mine that I avoid taking rookie running backs in the single-digit rounds. The simple fact is that in the vast majority of cases, rookie RBs take too long to develop into weekly starters, which is problematic in an 11-week fantasy regular season.

In our case, we drafted Barkley in the Super Bracket format, and I also took Barkley in the Bare Knuckle best-ball draft. Thankfully, he has proven to be every bit as advertised. On our successful Main Event team, we took Nick Chubb in the 12th, and he has provided valuable late-season depth. On our unsuccessful Main Event team, we went Zero RB and took Rashaad Penny in the ninth, which turned out to be a wasted pick.

Royce Freeman was going consistently in the third round of earlier Main Event drafts, then his hype grew even more, pushing him into the second. But it’s his teammate, fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay, who has been the second-most valuable freshman RB behind Barkley. In most leagues, Lindsay was a waiver-wire add after Week 1. Kerryon Johnson has provided consistent production related to his price tag, but fellow heralded rookies Penny and Ronald Jones have been busts. Even Chubb – aside from a Week 4 breakout when almost no one started him – took until a couple months into the season to become reliable.

AS ALWAYS, YOU SHOULD’VE WAITED ON DEFENSE

Defense is likely the least consistent position year to year, so there’s absolutely no reason to take one until the end of the draft, but that didn’t stop teams from picking Jacksonville in the ninth round in one of our Main Event leagues, and in the 10th in the other. The Jaguars have posted one double-digit score all year, and they rank near the bottom of defenses. Just stream the position. Remember: Early defense loses championships.

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