Snake Drafts: Position of Power
July 9, 2012 | Jeff
The 30 minute warning before a snake draft is a very stressful moment in the life of a fake footballer. Apprehensively clicking the “Enter Live Draft” icon and diving head first into a fantasy football draft room means that the player is about to find out the critical piece of information that will shape the upcoming fantasy campaign: draft position. There are varying schools of thought in regards to the most preferred draft slot in a snake draft. Some folks enjoy the top selection, others favor taking two of the top 13 players at “the turn,” and then there is the camp that would rather be slotted in the middle of the draft, in order to get a top tier player in round one, but not sit out too long before pick number two. The answer to this riddle lies, of course, in the season’s player pool. So, which seat in 2012 drafts is the Position of Power? Let’s find out by answering a few simple questions:
Who do I target?
The available talent when a team is “on the clock” in the first two rounds generally shapes which draft position is most beneficial. With the right early round selections, a team can stabilize its foundation while feasting on middle-late round value to make the strongest possible squad. In 2012 drafts, two groups of players have begun the march into uncharted territory, with quarterbacks and tight ends being selected earlier than ever. However, two factors illustrate that early round fantasy success can be found elsewhere. First, the quarterback and tight end positions have extreme late round value (check out our tiered rankings if you don’t believe me!). Second, we all have been enlightened on the topic of Value Based Drafting (VBD) by Zen Master Chet, and we know that elite running backs provide the most value compared to their drafted counterparts.
The next step is to give those knuckles a crack and dig into the latest average draft position (ADP) data to find out where the best duo of top running backs can be landed. Courtesy of fantasyfootballcalculator.com, we find that our top two tiers of running backs generally last through pick number 10 in the first round of a snake draft. Clearly there is a benefit to selecting in the top three, due to the skills of the Foster/Rice/McCoy trio, but drafting a back at the bottom of the second tier means a team can secure another beastly ball carrier in a matter of a few picks. By selecting a player like Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, or Maurice Jones-Drew at pick 9 or 10, teams will get to double dip into the quickly evaporating pool of quality running backs in the second round.
Current ADP data shows that backs in the Richardson/Lynch/Murray/Forte region will be available from picks 12-16, which will make a fearsome tandem of backs to build upon. Furthermore, the team that selected Arian Foster at pick #1 would have to choose between a running back on the Fred or Steven Jackson level, or draft another position in the 2nd round, which means having to start running backs from the dregs of the pack each week. We can safely conclude that picking from a slot in the 7-10 region of the first round will put a team in the best possible position to lock up elite backs early in drafts and capitalize on positional depth in later rounds.
OK! I get it! What’s next?
Now, after selecting your second headline running back, you can’t rip open a bag of Funyuns and set your team on “auto pick.” In order to complete a well balanced team that will bring fantasy titles by the bucket full, careful attention needs to be paid to the middle rounds. This is where a quarterback selection of Tony Romo (5th round), Eli Manning or Philip Rivers (6th round), or Matt Ryan (7th round) can keep a roster competitive at the QB position, while elite backs dismantle opposing teams each Sunday. But don’t get distracted by that Rubik’s Cube on your coffee table and miss the boat, or you will be cheering for Mark Sanchez to lead your fantasy team. Also keep a lookout for late round tight ends to compliment your other starters. Undervalued producers like Fred Davis (7th round), Jacob Tamme (8th round), and Brent Celek/Jared Cook (12th round), would all look mighty fine next to a set of power backs and a solid quarterback.
Oh yeah? Prove it!
After having the disadvantage of drafting at either the #1 or #12 slots in many mock drafts, I recently got a chance to draft from a power spot in TheFantasyFix.com’s 2012 Industry Mock Draft. Drafting from the #9 position, I was able to grab Darren McFadden along with DeMarco Murray in the first two rounds to start things off. These two studs were followed by two solid receiver targets in Hakeem Nicks and Dez Bryant in rounds three and four. In round five, I was able to grab a great quarterback at a very reasonable price, in Philip Rivers. To round out my group of starters, I selected big Vernon Davis in round six to compliment my other top level producers. In hindsight, I should have waited even longer to take a tight end, as Brent Celek lasted a few more rounds, but a foundation of Rivers/McFadden/Murray/Nicks/Bryant/Davis is an excellent way to begin a draft and should make a competitive team throughout the 2012 season.
Stay tuned to The Fake Football for more in-depth strategery discussion as draft season approaches!