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Faceoff: Drafting Against a Magazine

The Footballguys staff discusses how to best draft against someone using a magazine

Back in the day, having a magazine (with a free August Update) was considered the norm if you were an informed fantasy football player. Today's technology has obviously made that form of drafting look like a stone tablet, but there are still some who walk into a draft with magazine in hand. What are your thoughts on drafting against this type of person? Does it change your strategy at all?

Will Grant: Not really. The reality of it is that at least one or two of the other owners in the league have done their homework and are using some sort of online source. If only to keep up on the injuries to guys like Dennis Pitta. It's all about preparation. The magazine owner just appears to have a lot less of it than most. That owner probably isn't the guy that you're worried about anyway. It's the guy sitting there with the FBG Draft GM or the Draft Dominator on his laptop that you're trying to beat.

Side note: Most of the more popular league software management systems default to sorting available players by some sort of projection or average draft position. Even guys with ZERO preparation can come into a draft like that, look at who the consensus next picks are and instantly have a sorted list of the top five available players based on some criteria. This really plays right into the theory that many guys advocate here: don't lock into any one particular strategy and be flexible enough to draft the best player available based on how the draft is flowing.

As long as you're flexible, it doesn't matter what tools your opponent is using. You'll be able to adjust and still draft a strong team every time.

Matt Waldman: The one place that a magazine still has an advantage over a draft app is that unless you've got a great arm and terrific aim, you'll get more shots to the head against your competition with a magazine in your hand than chucking your smart phone or iPad. Well, maybe the iPad is better to brain someone who snipes your pick but you probably won't have charges pressed against you for whacking someone with a rolled up magazine.

I don't underestimate anyone who has a magazine. While it's fun ad copy to be snide about those walking into drafts with print material, some fantasy owners do their research online but like to have the magazine as a part of their draft ritual. In my experience the better managers tend to be with the times, but there are always exceptions. Will put it best: do the research, be flexible, and learn to read the draft to make good decisions.

Jason Wood: Magazine drafters are maddening for two reasons. One, they usually hold up the draft scanning for players and often will draft someone and then hear "he's already been taken." Two, they clearly don't take the league seriously but often find themselves in the championship hunt. Yes, it's true, while we would like to think we have an edge and add value with our advice, anyone that's been in enough leagues knows that randomness plays a role. I am in a local league (14 teams) where a magazine drafter, who literally didn't know who Doug Martin was on draft day, took him because the magazine said to...and he ended up winning our league. Such is life.

In terms of strategy -- at the risk of sounding pompous, I don't care what anyone else does. I'm drafting against myself and trying to execute my plan.

Andy Hicks: As most of the staff guys are reasonably serious drafters, we sometimes we forget that most of the drafts going on are just a bunch of friends getting together to chew the fat, have some fun and talk about Football. If a guy has a magazine, then as Jason pointed out he can still win your league. Failing to respect your opponents, no matter how ill informed or bizarre their logic may be gets you into trouble. Doesn't matter to me if I'm drafting against 11 guys with a magazine or 11 guys with a Deep Blue like computer at their disposal (commonly known as the Draft GM), I'm taking the best squad I can get.

Adam Harstad: I have to agree with Jason Wood, here- I don't care if my competition shows up with a fantasy magazine from 2004 and tries to draft Kevan Barlow in the first round, or if my competition is running the Draft Dominator on Watson the Jeopardy-winning Computer and has David Dodds on speed dial, the only thing I can control is the quality of the players that I draft. It's important to understand your leaguemates and their tendencies so you can optimize your approach. Casual or inexperienced players tend to take quarterbacks earlier and try to fill out their starting lineup before drafting reserves, which means that quality running backs tend to be available later. More experienced guys (and especially the old-school fantasy guys who came of age in the late-90s and early-00s when RB-RB-RB was all the rage) are going to grab backs early and often, which means you can afford to wait longer at QB while trying to keep up. Knowing tendencies like these allow you to tailor your approach to maximize the number of quality players you manage to walk out of the draft with, but magazine drafters don't have any real strategic tendencies other than a tendency to draft guys who have gotten injured since publication and then announce to the league what a huge steal they just got.

Jeff Haseley: I agree with Jason and Andy here. The draft should be You vs. The Draft. Stay focused, execute what the draft gives you. Play to your strengths, stay ahead of the curve, dictate runs, draft for value and the results will follow. Nothing against those who draft from a magazine, but are they aware of the latest camp news and buzz? In deeper leagues, this is where the cream rises to the top. The middle and late round picks is where a draft is won, in my opinion. This is where avid readers and prepared owners will distance themselves from the pack. The only other substitute for preparation is luck, and luck runs out quick.

Jeff Pasquino: For the most part, it does not matter, but unless it is a very competitive league I will try and not let a guy draft someone that is gone for the year - I just don't like to beat another player that way. Now, if the league is full of drafters like this, the only impact to my strategy is to know that bigger names will go earlier, while sleepers will fall down the draft board with consistency. However, do not get too cute - it only takes one guy to snap up your late round sleeper and you lose him. Odds are that if you are drafting against several magazine drafters, you will have a very good team and need not wait to the final picks for your sleepers. Like Jason said, if they are scanning for players after about Round 10, the back half of the draft is yours for the taking.