A Plan for Every Pick

Building a draft plan for the later stages of your draft or auction.

Every good draft starts with a fantasy team owner having a good strategy prior to the draft (or auction). The best fantasy teams result from owners that not only have multiple plans, but also ones that prepare for the inevitable surprises that can come at any point – or multiple points – in the draft. Having seen many approaches and strategies, most of them tend to focus on the beginning of the draft and maximizing value early. The outcomes of these various strategies typically results in a team after 10-11 picks that has 3-5 running backs, 3-5 wide receivers and usually a starter at quarterback and tight end. Nearly every plan yields the same outcome at this point of a draft – a starting lineup plus a few key players for depth at running back and wide receiver. But where are all the plans for what comes next?

Having participated in many drafts and auctions over many seasons, I have noticed that there comes a time in every draft or auction where one or more team owners want to take a breather or even starts to mentally check out of the draft. Sometimes leagues even take a break in the middle of an auction or draft, which emphasizes this transition point in accumulating players on rosters. Not many plans focus on this area, but if it happens so often, why not? That is the emphasis of this article.

David Dodds touched on how to approach later picks in his Perfect Draft article (see “putting it all together”, point #5:

Use the final rounds to add your kicker, defense and to go after younger players in a swing-for-the-fences mentality. Our Deep Sleepers series list a lot of these types of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. Most are dart throws and could need an injury to be relevant.

The home run aspect is key here, and one of the six reasons for selecting any player after the midpoint of your draft (typically after Round 10 or 11). To keep it simple, here are the criteria in making selections in double-digit rounds:

  1. Handcuff or injury insurance for a player already on your team (2-4 points)
  2. A home run potential player who could become a fantasy starter (2-3 points)
  3. A player to stash due to injury or suspension (0-2 points)
  4. Potential for a trade (0-2 points)
  5. Kicker/defense/weaker second player need (1 point)
  6. General depth player (0 points)

In addition to listing the six reasons, I also put a point value on each one to help grade each potential selection as your draft proceeds. The points can adjust somewhat according to your league rules, but essentially you want to get as many as possible with each pick. All of the rules are additive, meaning that a pick of a player that fits several criteria can score well above five or six points. Let’s dissect each reason, one at a time:

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