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How to Attack Your Large-League Non-PPR Draft

Strategy on Attacking Your Large Non-PPR League Draft

Large leagues are a lot of fun. The size makes them much different than the standard twelve teamers. It is a losing proposition to use standard draft strategies in the bigger leagues. An entirely different strategy is required to make the most of the draft. This article will look at sixteen-team leagues using non-PPR scoring. We will examine strategies specially designed for the larger leagues to best attack the draft and get the most from the roster. These will help you form a new strategy for your larger league.

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

In general, the larger the leagues, the more positional scarcity comes into play. In twelve-team leagues, there might be twelve starting quarterbacks you would be fine with as your starter any given week. But, when the number of teams bumps up to sixteen, there will be a few fantasy squads with poor quarterback play. This is true at the running back position as well. There are not many at the position you want to rely on each and every week as a fantasy starter.

Anyone who has been caught in a position run in a standard twelve-team league knows how hopeless and frustrating it can be knowing there is nothing you can do now to help the situation. These runs at a specific position, especially quarterback, running back, and tight end are even more important in the larger leagues. The extra teams mean the runs can be longer and those left out are in even worse shape than in the smaller leagues.

Since most larger leagues have fewer roster spots per team, each one is important. Knowing how to strike the best balance is the key. This involves the tight end, kicker, and team defense positions as well as finding depth at running back and wide receiver.

Knowing when to take a kicker or defense is a bigger issue in the larger leagues because of the risk-and-return decision for the pick used compared to the scarcity of few good options at either position.

How do I best address these issues above?

Due to fewer desirable alternatives at the quarterback and running back positions, expect to select your starters earlier than in twelve teamers. While it seems crazy for most fantasy owners, it might be best to draft a starting quarterback in the first two rounds, especially if you are picking at the end of the first round. There are two reasons for this strategy. In all league sizes, if you are drafting at the end of round one, you need to have positions of strength in order to make up the sizable deficit at the running back and wide receiver positions. So, selecting a quarterback at the 1/2 turn helps get a stud at the position. The other aspect to think about is how many at the position could be gone before your third-round pick. You could take QB3 in the early part of the second round or the QB10 at the end of the third round. There is a huge difference in the predictability of future production as well as the certainty of the situation in the elite passer. Since the scoring is non-PPR, the value favors the running backs and quarterbacks, but especially the ball carriers. The depth at the quarterback position may allow an owner to risk the position longer, especially if the result is adding running backs.  For this reason, you may need to have your starters at both positions before moving on to wide receiver or tight end. Your leaguemates know the scarcity is coming, too, so they will load up on the two positions accordingly. When this happens, you must be proactive and stay the course. Many think they can find value at other positions, but there will be nothing left but dregs at quarterback and running back. At that point, who cares what you have at wide receiver. The league does not reward you with PPR (Points Per Reception) so the stud receivers you covet in other leagues are not enough of an advantage in bigger leagues not rewarding PPR.

Positional runs are brutal. You need to plan ahead and be proactive. Stay ahead of the runs by picking your core positions early. This means, as stated above, loading up on starters at quarterback and running back with the thought that there are plenty of options at wide receiver which provide similar production to those selected earlier. As you move to the middle rounds of your draft, start keeping tabs on the tight end, kicker, and team defense positions. Make a list of players you will be happy with as fantasy starters at those positions and be proactive as your list gets smaller and smaller.

Roster management is very important in the larger leagues. Many times, it is best to select only one kicker and one team defense. Make sure to draft those with late byes. By midseason, there will be plenty of options available on the waiver wire. The key is finding starters at those positions with a late bye so you will not need to use an extra roster spot early in the season. At the tight end position, there are differing opinions as to the need for rostering a backup. If you have a stud at the position, meaning you have one of the better starters in expected production, then it is best not to roster a backup. You invested a quality pick at the position. There is no need to use two roster spots, too. But, it is best to have a quality reserve tight end if you do not have a top tight end. That is one position where players emerge and disappoint every year. As far as how to best manage your depth roster spots, think about what your league rewards compared to the strengths (and weaknesses) of your starting lineup. In the non-PPR leagues, running back play is rewarded. It might be best to stash an upside back or handcuff of a starter. Since the wide receiver position is likely a point of weakness, and there are plenty of very good receiver prospects for this season, rostering a few additional pass catchers is a good idea. This extra quantity balances the perceived lack of quality.

As touched on a little earlier, it might be best to address the kicker and team defense positions a little earlier in larger leagues than in twelve-team leagues. Each year, there are multiple factors which minimize the number of desirable options. Just think how few kickers and team defenses have late bye weeks (as discussed above), good strength of schedules for matchup purposes since we are only carrying one at each position, and have solid kicking jobs settled. This should make your list very short for both positions.

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 nine of the first ten players, listed in order of value, are running backs. The league variables used were sixteen 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. Only three receivers made the top 16 picks (representing the first round) and even that number seems high. The number of high-value ball carriers in relation to available starting spots for the position is small when compared to the wide receiver and quarterback positions. There will be many teams who have poor starting running backs. A fantasy team with two Top 10 running backs has a huge advantage over the competition. Yes, the VBD suggests to take a few running backs before any other position, but knowing your leaguemates will take the passers early and often should bring the position into consideration.

Below is a table with the Top 160 players from the Footballguys projections. This represents the top 10 rounds according to VBD.  Notice how the VBD drops way off after the top three running backs compared to the other positions. This is very important since it illustrates how valuable those top ball carriers are when compared to the lesser options at the position. The wide receivers and quarterbacks are tightly bunched in comparison.

Rank

Pos

Rank

Player

Points

VBD

1

RB

1

David Johnson

305

205

2

RB

2

Ezekiel Elliott

270

170

3

RB

3

Le'Veon Bell

255

155

4

RB

4

LeSean McCoy

209

110

5

RB

5

Melvin Gordon III

207

107

6

RB

6

Devonta Freeman

203

103

7

RB

7

Jordan Howard

196

96

8

RB

8

Jay Ajayi

195

95

9

RB

9

DeMarco Murray

190

90

10

WR

1

Antonio Brown

193

84

11

RB

10

Leonard Fournette

178

78

12

RB

11

Lamar Miller

177

77

13

RB

12

Isaiah Crowell

175

75

14

WR

2

Odell Beckham Jr

183

74

15

RB

13

Todd Gurley

173

73

16

WR

3

Julio Jones

181

72

17

QB

1

Aaron Rodgers

379

71

18

WR

4

Mike Evans

178

69

19

RB

14

Marshawn Lynch

162

62

20

WR

5

Jordy Nelson

168

59

21

RB

15

Ty Montgomery

157

58

22

WR

6

T.Y. Hilton

166

57

23

QB

2

Tom Brady

362

54

24

RB

16

Mark Ingram II

152

53

25

WR

7

A.J. Green

161

52

26

RB

17

Carlos Hyde

151

51

27

QB

3

Andrew Luck

356

48

28

WR

8

Michael Thomas

157

48

29

RB

18

Eddie Lacy

147

47

30

RB

19

Spencer Ware

146

46

31

WR

9

Amari Cooper

153

44

32

QB

4

Drew Brees

351

43

33

RB

20

Joe Mixon

142

42

34

WR

10

Tyreek Hill

149

40

35

WR

11

Dez Bryant

149

40

36

RB

21

Tevin Coleman

140

40

37

RB

22

Dalvin Cook

139

39

38

QB

5

Matt Ryan

346

38

39

RB

23

Bilal Powell

137

37

40

WR

12

Doug Baldwin

146

37

41

WR

13

Demaryius Thomas

145

36

42

WR

14

DeAndre Hopkins

144

35

43

RB

24

Christian McCaffrey

134

35

44

TE

1

Rob Gronkowski

136

35

45

WR

15

Brandin Cooks

143

34

46

WR

16

Allen Robinson

142

33

47

TE

2

Travis Kelce

134

32

48

QB

6

Jameis Winston

336

28

49

QB

7

Russell Wilson

334

26

50

RB

25

Ameer Abdullah

125

25

51

RB

26

Matt Forte

125

25

52

WR

17

Sammy Watkins

133

24

53

RB

27

C.J. Anderson

124

24

54

WR

18

Alshon Jeffery

133

24

55

RB

28

Mike Gillislee

123

23

56

WR

19

Michael Crabtree

131

22

57

WR

20

Jarvis Landry

130

21

58

WR

21

Emmanuel Sanders

130

21

59

RB

29

Frank Gore

120

21

60

WR

22

Kelvin Benjamin

129

20

61

TE

3

Greg Olsen

121

19

62

RB

30

Doug Martin

118

18

63

RB

31

Terrance West

118

18

64

WR

23

Davante Adams

126

17

65

WR

24

Larry Fitzgerald

126

17

66

WR

25

Golden Tate

125

16

67

RB

32

Derrick Henry

116

16

68

RB

33

Paul Perkins

115

15

69

WR

26

DeSean Jackson

123

14

70

TE

4

Jimmy Graham

115

13

71

RB

34

Samaje Perine

113

13

72

WR

27

Keenan Allen

122

13

73

QB

8

Kirk Cousins

320

12

74

WR

28

Quincy Enunwa

121

12

75

WR

29

Stefon Diggs

120

11

76

DEF

1

Denver

144

11

77

DEF

2

Arizona

144

11

78

TE

5

Jordan Reed

112

10

79

WR

30

DeVante Parker

117

8

80

QB

9

Dak Prescott

316

8

81

PK

1

Stephen Gostkowski

152

8

82

WR

31

Willie Snead IV

117

8

83

RB

35

Adrian Peterson

108

8

84

QB

10

Cam Newton

315

7

85

QB

11

Philip Rivers

315

7

86

WR

32

Donte Moncrief

116

7

87

WR

33

Martavis Bryant

115

6

88

WR

34

Adam Thielen

115

6

89

TE

6

Tyler Eifert

107

5

90

WR

35

Terrelle Pryor

114

5

91

QB

12

Marcus Mariota

313

5

92

TE

7

Kyle Rudolph

107

5

93

WR

36

Brandon Marshall

114

5

94

WR

37

Julian Edelman

113

4

95

PK

2

Matt Bryant

147

4

96

WR

38

Jamison Crowder

112

3

97

RB

36

Duke Johnson Jr

103

3

98

DEF

3

Seattle

133

3

99

RB

37

Jonathan Stewart

102

2

100

WR

39

Corey Coleman

111

2

101

QB

13

Eli Manning

310

2

102

PK

3

Justin Tucker

143

1

103

WR

40

Tyrell Williams

110

1

104

PK

4

Mason Crosby

141

0

105

WR

41

Randall Cobb

109

0

106

QB

14

Ben Roethlisberger

308

0

107

RB

38

LeGarrette Blount

100

0

108

DEF

4

Minnesota

130

0

109

DEF

5

Carolina

130

0

110

TE

8

Hunter Henry

101

0

111

RB

39

Theo Riddick

99

0

112

TE

9

Delanie Walker

100

-2

113

WR

42

Mike Wallace

107

-2

114

PK

5

Dan Bailey

139

-2

115

WR

43

John Brown

107

-2

116

WR

44

Pierre Garcon

107

-2

117

PK

6

Wil Lutz

139

-2

118

WR

45

Rishard Matthews

107

-2

119

TE

10

Zach Ertz

99

-3

120

QB

15

Derek Carr

305

-3

121

PK

7

Graham Gano

137

-3

122

DEF

6

Kansas City

125

-4

123

WR

46

Breshad Perriman

105

-4

124

WR

47

Cameron Meredith

105

-4

125

QB

16

Andy Dalton

304

-4

126

RB

40

Rob Kelley

96

-4

127

TE

11

Jack Doyle

98

-4

128

PK

8

Cairo Santos

136

-4

129

WR

48

Jordan Matthews

104

-5

130

PK

9

Caleb Sturgis

135

-5

131

PK

10

Dustin Hopkins

134

-6

132

DEF

7

Houston

123

-6

133

PK

11

Adam Vinatieri

134

-6

134

PK

12

Josh Lambo

134

-6

135

DEF

8

Baltimore

123

-6

136

PK

13

Phil Dawson

134

-6

137

RB

41

Latavius Murray

93

-7

138

WR

49

Kenny Britt

102

-7

139

PK

14

Matt Prater

133

-7

140

TE

12

Martellus Bennett

95

-7

141

PK

15

Chris Boswell

132

-7

142

PK

16

Sebastian Janikowski

132

-8

143

QB

17

Matthew Stafford

300

-8

144

WR

50

Marvin Jones Jr

101

-8

145

DEF

9

New England

120

-8

146

PK

17

Brandon McManus

131

-8

147

DEF

10

Philadelphia

120

-8

148

PK

18

Blair Walsh

131

-8

149

WR

51

Robby Anderson

100

-9

150

RB

42

Darren Sproles

91

-9

151

PK

19

Jake Elliott

129

-10

152

QB

18

Tyrod Taylor

297

-11

153

DEF

11

Jacksonville

116

-11

154

TE

13

Eric Ebron

89

-13

155

DEF

12

NY Giants

114

-13

156

QB

19

Carson Wentz

295

-13

157

WR

52

Sterling Shepard

95

-14

158

WR

53

Eric Decker

95

-14

159

PK

20

Jason Myers

123

-15

160

DEF

13

LA Rams

112

-15

With 25 running backs showing up in the Top 50, the position slows down as only 12 of the next 50 are backs.  But, still, ball carriers occupy 37 of the Top 100 overall.  It is best to come out of the first three rounds with two running backs and one quarterback.  The depth at the wide receiver position allows an owner to wait until the fourth round to address the position.  It is not until the fifth round that the receivers catch up to the backs in terms of value.  With the ability to start three running backs (including one in the flex), taking another rusher in the fourth or fifth round may be the best move.  It will also create more of a shortage at the position for your leaguemates.  This year has a few viable tight ends so you are encouraged to wait until the first six or eight are off the board before worrying too much about the position even if you can get Rob Gronkowski at a huge value.

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.