This is the third article in a multi-part series on how to attack the high-stakes Main Event, the flagship contest of the Fantasy Football Players Championship that pits 2,400 teams against each other in a race for the $500,000 grand prize. In the FFPC Strategy Sessions, we learn from one of the best, the 2017 regular season Main Event points champion, Monty Phan.
Last time, I explained how I would attack the single-digit rounds. In this post, I’m focusing on the double-digit rounds – namely, the onesie positions of quarterback, tight end, kicker and team defense.
The advice here is pretty easy: Wait. You don’t need Patrick Mahomes. Actually, let me clarify: You don’t need the 2019 version of Mahomes, who’s being drafted as if he’s a lock to repeat his 2018 performance. All you really want is a decent portion of his production, which you can find much, much later than his current third-round FFPC best-ball ADP.1
Last year, we won our league with a team that drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the 15th round, five spots ahead of Matt Ryan, who finished as the overall QB2, and eight spots ahead of Mahomes, the overall QB1. Another team waited until the 20th and final round to take his first quarterback,2 Mitchell Trubisky. For the first three months of the season, he was an every-week starter available on the waiver wire in most leagues. That Trubisky-led team also made the league playoffs.
On our league-winning team, our QB2 to start the year was Andy Dalton. By the time we progressed to the championship round in weeks 14-16, our QBs were Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. If you pay attention during the season, you can stream QBs via the waiver wire based on matchup once it’s clear who the worst defenses are. After all, getting 30-plus points from your QB spot counts the same whether it comes from Aaron Rodgers or a waiver-wire hero like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Allen.
How to play it: In FFPC best-ball drafts over the past two weeks, Russell Wilson has been the 10th QB selected, and Cam Newton has been the 11th. It would not be surprising to see both QBs available in the 12th round or later in Main Event drafts. While either would be excellent starters, I’d be comfortable waiting even later.
I already covered some of this in the previous installment, but you can probably expect some of the more hyped TE sleeper candidates to come off the board earlier than you want as drafters try to find this year’s version of 2018 George Kittle or Eric Ebron. The current candidates are Vance McDonald, David Njoku, Austin Hooper, Trey Burton and Mark Andrews. Each of those players are being drafted in the single-digit rounds according to FFPC best-ball ADP. (I like Andrews the most, but only if he drops.)
Regardless of whether you take the elite TE approach and wait on a backup, or you decide to stream TEs and play matchups, ample tight end value may still be found even deeper into the draft. Some of the double-digit round candidates include: A finally healthy Jordan Reed, who could lead Washington in targets; Jimmy Graham, whose team lacks a clear-cut No. 2 passing option behind Davante Adams; Dallas Goedert, whose value would skyrocket in the event Ertz misses time; or Greg Olsen, coming off an injury but in a passing game with young, as-yet-unproven wideouts.
How to play it: I prefer drafting one of the three elite TEs, then waiting on a backup. A riskier option would be to try to take an older TE like Reed, Graham or Olsen and pair him with a deeper sleeper, such as Mike Gesicki, Ian Thomas or Gerald Everett.
Prepare for some mild ranting.
In 2017, the Jacksonville team defense was as dominant as they come, finishing with more total points than Brandin Cooks and Golden Tate, both of whom played full seasons. That performance inspired some drafters to take the Jacksonville defense in the ninth and 10th rounds. Last year, the Chicago defense was almost as dominant as Jacksonville was in 2017, so we could once again see a defense being picked in the single-digit rounds.
Don’t do this.
Jacksonville finished as the 10th-best defense last year, behind defenses that were basically free. One of those defenses was Indianapolis, which was among the least valuable team defenses according to 2018 ADP. In order to rationalize taking a defense that high, you have to be certain that not only will that team finish as the top scorer at that position, but also that the margin by which it outscores the competition would be so great that the advantage justifies the cost.
Simply put, using last year’s team defense rankings to predict this year’s order of finish is as arbitrary as throwing darts at a hat.3 In 2017, that dominant Jacksonville defense scored less than one point per game more than Baltimore, but no one was taking the Ravens defense in single-digit rounds last year. In fact, the difference in the scoring for most top-12 defenses is only one to two points per game. #DefensesBarelyMatter.
How to play it: Wait until your last couple picks to select a defense, and take only one. If you can’t decide which one to take, then choose whichever has the latest bye week. The last thing you want is to have to roster two defenses early in the season, because your starter is too good to drop on its bye.
People tend not to take kickers as early as defenses. But, again, selecting one before your last couple picks is too early. Like with defenses, predicting the top kicker based on the previous year’s results is too difficult. And, once you get past the top few scorers, the per-game point average doesn’t vary that much anyway.
The added wrinkle here is that, while it’s impossible for an entire defense to get hurt or cut, the same isn’t true with kickers. In 2018, 40 kickers scored at least one point during the fantasy season, and in 2017, 37 did. So, if the guy you drafted is no good, you can easily replace him, almost for free.
How to play it: Wait until the end of the draft, and take the guy with the latest bye week.
Image Credit: Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes.
- Quarterbacks in best-ball leagues, which have no weekly waivers, tend to go earlier than in redraft because more are selected to cover possible injuries or ineptitude. (back)
- Which I’d never seen done before in 10 years of high-stakes drafts (back)
- Or, if you prefer, picking names out of a dartboard. (back)