Win. Your. League.

Receive 3 Free Downloads More Details

How to Attack Your Small League Non-PPR Draft

Strategy on Attacking Your Small Non-PPR League Draft

Small leagues are a lot of fun.  There is something about the eight or ten team leagues that make them enjoyable.  Maybe, it is having a team full of very good players.  The size makes them much different than the standard twelve team leagues.  Just like with the larger or two-quarterback leagues, it is a losing proposition to use standard draft strategies.  An entirely different strategy is required to make the most of the draft.  This article will specifically look at ten team leagues using non-PPR scoring.  We will examine strategies specially designed for the smaller leagues in order to best attack the draft and get the most from the roster.  This will help you form a new strategy for your small-sized league.  

Down to basics, what are the differences I should know about the small leagues?

a.  Since there are no scarcity issues, everything is about the studs.   The whole draft is focused on how to draft enough elite players to win weekly and through the playoffs.  It is only through the studs that an owner can gain an edge over his leaguemates.  The top two or three players at each position outscore the rest by tremendous amounts. 

b.  Knowing how to best attack the quarterback position is one of the biggest keys to small leagues?  Is it necessary to select a passer early in the draft like in the bigger leagues? 

c.  The running back position is one where the drop-off in expected production comes later in 2016 than in years gone by, especially in non-PPR leagues.  How can I take advantage of this phenomena?

d.  With only fifty wide receivers rostered, on average, how do we gain an edge? 

e.  Is there is a valid reason to take a kicker or team defense early? 

How do I best address these questions above?

a.  Since we need studs in order to gain advantages, how best do I go about drafting these players?  The top players at every position give their owners a huge edge.  The best way to get these studs is to be proactive in your draft.  When the value stagnates at one position, look for studs at another.  In the table below, we can see how the top wideout (Antonio Brown) has a similar value to a large tier of backs, and the next two receivers are not far behind.  So, why not gain an edge at receiver and select a similar rusher next round?  It pays to be proactive and look for talent plateaus and drop-offs.  Look for studs.  A top kicker or defense might be a great pick earlier than you would think, especially if they give you a two or three points per game edge each week. 

b. In smaller (eight or ten teams) leagues which start only one passer, there is no reason to address the position before the eighth round unless you get a stud at an outstanding value.  There will be great fantasy quarterbacks available.  In smaller leagues, owners want to wait on a quarterback (because there are so many good options) which makes the good passers drop further.  So, wait on a quarterback and try to find studs at other positions.  It is best to wait until there are at least eight quarterbacks off the board before even looking at selecting a passer.  You may even want to consider waiting until some teams start taking backups and take two of the tier with Ben Roethlisberger, Jameis Winston, and Philip Rivers.

c.  We will look a little later at how weighted the values are heavily slanted toward the backs.  The ball carriers have a huge VBD value edge over the other positions so it is best to lock up as many top rushers as possible.   The expected fantasy production for these players at the position has definite tiers.  But, even the lesser fantasy starters are worth more than every quarterback – yes, even Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers - and every tight end, even Rob Gronkowski

d.  Unless going after a bona fide stud (e.g., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr, or A.J. Green), it is best to wait on the wide receiver position until ten or fifteen are off the board.  There is very little difference in expected production – especially in non-PPR leagues - so you might as well stock up on the position (running back) where you gain an advantage. 

e.    There are at least ten good kickers and team defenses so every team can have a good option.  You should employ one of two strategies for the kicker position.  Either take a stud earlier than you would think, or wait until ten are gone.  The stud gives you an extra few points a game so it is a viable strategy.  For the team defense position, it is best to play matchups with a smaller league.  There will be plenty of good options available on the waiver wire each week from which to choose.  Many times, it is better to have a mediocre defense with a great matchup than a good defense with a mediocre matchup. 

When we look at the VBD (Value Based Drafting) application, we quickly realize how valued the running backs are when compared to the other positions.  The VBD accounts for positional scarcity and available options at other positions using the Footballguys.com projections.  It is amazing that there are just one quarterback and one tight end valued in the first two rounds.  If we look at just the first two rounds of a ten-team draft (in terms of VBD), ten running backs and eight wide receivers are worth a pick.  Further, even with the strong showing by Rob Gronkowski last year, he is barely a Top 10 player.  The league variables used were ten teams, sixteen roster spots, non-PPR scoring, and starting requirements of 1 Quarterback, 2 Running Backs, 3 Wide Receivers, 1 Tight End, 1 Flex, 1 Kicker, and 1 Team Defense.  The depth at the quarterback and wide receiver positions means that a fantasy owner can afford to wait on those positions while stocking up on rushers.  It is obvious looking at the table below that smaller leagues dictate a strong nucleus of running backs. 

Rank

Pos

PosRank

Player

Team

Points

VBD

1

RB

1

David Johnson

Ari/8

280

182

2

RB

2

LeVeon Bell

Pit/9

233

135

3

RB

3

Ezekiel Elliott

Dal/6

229

132

4

RB

4

Melvin Gordon

LAC/9

198

101

5

RB

5

LeSean McCoy

Buf/6

198

100

6

RB

6

Devonta Freeman

Atl/5

197

99

7

RB

7

Jay Ajayi

Mia/11

193

95

8

RB

8

Jordan Howard

Chi/9

190

92

9

WR

1

Antonio Brown

Pit/9

210

90

10

WR

2

Odell Beckham Jr

NYG/8

202

82

11

WR

3

Julio Jones

Atl/5

198

78

12

RB

9

Lamar Miller

Hou/7

173

75

13

RB

10

DeMarco Murray

Ten/8

172

74

14

WR

4

Mike Evans

TB/11

192

72

15

RB

11

Leonard Fournette

Jac/8

167

69

16

RB

12

Isaiah Crowell

Cle/9

164

66

17

RB

13

Todd Gurley

LAR/8

162

65

18

WR

5

Jordy Nelson

GB/8

183

63

19

QB

1

Aaron Rodgers

GB/8

370

62

20

WR

6

A.J. Green

Cin/6

174

54

21

RB

14

Marshawn Lynch

Oak/10

148

50

22

QB

2

Tom Brady

NE/9

357

49

23

RB

15

Ty Montgomery

GB/8

146

48

24

WR

7

T.Y. Hilton

Ind/11

167

47

25

WR

8

Michael Thomas

NO/5

163

43

26

WR

9

Amari Cooper

Oak/10

162

42

27

WR

10

Dez Bryant

Dal/6

160

39

28

RB

16

Eddie Lacy

Sea/6

137

39

29

RB

17

Mark Ingram

NO/5

137

39

30

RB

18

Joe Mixon

Cin/6

137

39

31

RB

19

Spencer Ware

KC/10

136

38

32

TE

1

Rob Gronkowski

NE/9

151

37

33

RB

20

Dalvin Cook

Min/9

133

36

34

WR

11

Doug Baldwin

Sea/6

155

35

35

RB

21

Christian McCaffrey

Car/11

132

34

36

RB

22

Tevin Coleman

Atl/5

132

34

37

RB

23

Terrance West

Bal/10

130

33

38

RB

24

Bilal Powell

NYJ/11

130

32

39

WR

12

Demaryius Thomas

Den/5

151

31

40

RB

25

Carlos Hyde

SF/11

128

31

41

QB

3

Matt Ryan

Atl/5

336

28

42

WR

13

Allen Robinson

Jac/8

146

26

43

QB

4

Drew Brees

NO/5

332

24

44

WR

14

DeAndre Hopkins

Hou/7

144

24

45

RB

26

C.J. Anderson

Den/5

120

23

46

QB

5

Russell Wilson

Sea/6

330

22

47

RB

27

Frank Gore

Ind/11

120

22

48

WR

15

Brandin Cooks

NE/9

142

22

49

QB

6

Jameis Winston

TB/11

329

21

50

RB

28

Ameer Abdullah

Det/7

119

21

The table above represents the Top 50 players in terms of VBD.  There are a few things that jump out as obvious items of note.  As discussed above, the value of studs is immense, especially at the running back position.  Notice the VBD values for the three top players in comparison to the rest of the players, even very good players.  Also, as we progress to the 50th overall player, the wide receivers are still lagging the running backs, and we will see them start catching up in the table below. 

Rank

Pos

PosRank

Player

Team

Points

VBD

51

WR

16

Tyreek Hill

KC/10

140

20

52

TE

2

Travis Kelce

KC/10

133

19

53

QB

7

Andrew Luck

Ind/11

325

18

54

WR

17

Alshon Jeffery

Phi/10

137

17

55

RB

29

Mike Gillislee

NE/9

114

16

56

RB

30

Paul Perkins

NYG/8

113

15

57

WR

18

Sammy Watkins

Buf/6

135

15

58

RB

31

Matt Forte

NYJ/11

111

14

59

RB

32

Doug Martin

TB/11

109

11

60

WR

19

Michael Crabtree

Oak/10

130

10

61

WR

20

Jarvis Landry

Mia/11

129

9

62

TE

3

Greg Olsen

Car/11

122

8

63

RB

33

Adrian Peterson

NO/5

105

7

64

WR

21

Emmanuel Sanders

Den/5

126

6

65

RB

34

Samaje Perine

Was/5

104

6

66

RB

35

LeGarrette Blount

Phi/10

103

5

67

WR

22

Larry Fitzgerald

Ari/8

125

5

68

RB

36

Derrick Henry

Ten/8

102

4

69

WR

23

Kelvin Benjamin

Car/11

124

4

70

PK

1

Stephen Gostkowski

NE/9

152

4

71

WR

24

Golden Tate

Det/7

122

2

72

DEF

1

Denver

Den/5

142

2

73

RB

37

Duke Johnson

Cle/9

99

2

74

QB

8

Marcus Mariota

Ten/8

309

1

75

TE

4

Jordan Reed

Was/5

115

1

76

WR

25

Keenan Allen

LAC/9

121

1

77

QB

9

Kirk Cousins

Was/5

308

0

78

TE

5

Jimmy Graham

Sea/6

114

0

79

DEF

2

Seattle

Sea/6

140

0

80

WR

26

DeVante Parker

Mia/11

120

0

81

PK

2

Matt Bryant

Atl/5

147

0

82

WR

27

DeSean Jackson

TB/11

120

0

83

RB

38

Jonathan Stewart

Car/11

98

0

84

RB

39

Theo Riddick

Det/7

97

0

85

WR

28

Davante Adams

GB/8

119

-1

86

RB

40

Danny Woodhead

Bal/10

96

-1

87

WR

29

Willie Snead

NO/5

119

-1

88

QB

10

Ben Roethlisberger

Pit/9

305

-2

89

DEF

3

Arizona

Ari/8

137

-2

90

PK

3

Justin Tucker

Bal/10

143

-3

91

QB

11

Philip Rivers

LAC/9

304

-4

92

WR

30

Stefon Diggs

Min/9

116

-4

93

PK

4

Mason Crosby

GB/8

141

-4

94

DEF

4

Houston

Hou/7

133

-5

95

QB

12

Dak Prescott

Dal/6

302

-6

96

WR

31

Martavis Bryant

Pit/9

114

-6

97

PK

5

Dan Bailey

Dal/6

139

-6

98

WR

32

Adam Thielen

Min/9

114

-6

99

QB

13

Cam Newton

Car/11

301

-6

100

PK

6

Wil Lutz

NO/5

139

-7

When looking at the VBD spots from player 51 through 100, the wide receivers begin catching up, the value at quarterback and tight end is still apparent.  As discussed above, having studs is the only way to gain an advantage.  For this reason, an owner who loads up on running backs early on can still get studs at the other positions through the first ten rounds.  This is why the kickers are actually a decent play when the value running back and wideout positions plateau.  

Every league is different but this article should help you form a winning strategy in smaller leagues. 

Feel free to (email me) with feedback.  Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.