DFS Roundtable: Finding an Edge with DRAFT

Footballguys staff members discuss DRAFT strategy and rank their top 2 QBs, 4 RBs, and 4 WRs for Week 11.

Thinking of the DRAFT site, projections can be key to giving you an edge in the current DFS space. DRAFT gives their own set of projections when going to enter contests on their site. You can pre-rank players on your own based on your own projections but doing so early in the week on Monday or Tuesday you will have to do it without the help of tout sites as rankings typically become available by Wednesday. Give your basic strategy when playing on DRAFT and rank your top 2 QBs, 4 RBs, and 4 WRs as if you were preparing for a Head-to-Head game on the main slate (Sunday-Monday)?

John Mamula: I have had much more success with DRAFT as compared to the other major DFS sites this season.

After putting together initial projections for the week, I rank the players based on tiers. This is impactful for your drafts when there is a drop off at a particular position. Another key factor when drafting is to observe how your H2H opponent is filling out his roster. For example, if your opponent drafts two WRs with his first two picks, you should hold off at the WR position and fill out the other position. In that scenario, I would hold off and select my WRs with my final two selections.                                                                           

Typically, I hold off with my H2H, 3-man, and 6-man drafts until after I am satisfied with my weekly projections and rankings. With the Steelers playing on Thursday night this week, there should be more of an edge on DRAFT due to the fact that Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown will be removed from the player pool.

Currently, here are my DRAFT rankings for Week 11: QB: Tier 1 Carson Wentz, Tier 2: Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott   RB: Tier 1: Kareem Hunt, Melvin Gordon III Tier 2: Leonard Fournette, Mark Ingram II  WR: Tier 1: Julio Jones, Travis Kelce, Tier 2: Michael Thomas, Doug Baldwin

Justin BonnemaI honestly haven’t played DRAFT at all this season, but I’ll give my thoughts on those players based on their matchups. As John noted, Wentz is at the top. The Cowboys hosting the Eagles is the best game of the week and will have a ton of DFS action on it. The Eagles average 26 points per game on the road, and even though the Cowboys defense has been playing better than expected this season, they just lost Sean Lee again. Wentz is in a great spot, especially since we can count on a bounce back from the Cowboys’ offense.  

The next tier is a little more cluttered. I want to love Brady and Carr in a what should be the highest scoring game of the week. Unfortunately, they are QB1 and QB2 in terms of salary on DRAFT, so we’re probably better off dropping down to Prescott, whose upside is similar and whose salary is much more reasonable. 

John’s running back rankings are spot on. Fournette makes me a little bit nervous given recent events and the quality of the Browns’ run-stuffing defense, but I expect the Jaguars’ to blow this game wide open and to feed Fournette in the process. 

One player John didn’t mention that I’d put on the same tier as Hunt is LeSean McCoy. Apparently suffering from the Kelvin Benjamin Curse, the Bills are coming off of back-to-back ugly losses in which they averaged only 15.5 points and 252.5 yards per. As a result, McCoy’s numbers have shrunk. But one thing that hasn’t changed is his monopoly of the backfield. He handled 63.2% of touches in their Week 9 loss, and 57.9% last week. Unfortunately, it won’t matter what percentage of touches he handles if the Bills don’t start scoring points. That changes against the Chargers, who have allowed the second most total yards to running backs. 

My early-week wide receiver ranks, with both matchup and salary in mind, look like this: Brandin Cooks, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, Doug Baldwin, Michael Thomas, Sterling Shepard. By the end of the week, I’ll probably have Mike Evans in there somewhere, which will bump Shepard.

Justin HoweOn DRAFT, my general goal week after week is to roster the two best running backs possible, with a caveat. We optimally pay for volume, and while a pairing of, say, Le'Veon Bell/Todd Gurley is thoroughly cost-prohibitive on a salary site, it can be put together in a DRAFT. Since the massive, week-winning WR weeks we see are less predictable than at RB, a haul like Bell/Gurley that doesn't crush a dollar budget maximizes both floor and ceiling.

That said, as John points out, DRAFTs are generally won by exploiting the value drop-off from one positional tier to the next. However your draft unfolds, this is best accomplished by creating a set of value tiers. It's absolutely crucial to track the draft's progression through those tiers and to know when to jump from one position to the next. You'll have to note the composition of your opponent's roster and pick accordingly to extract value. And it's crucial to know when to "punt" - in DRAFT terms, punting is best accomplished by filling one's second WR slot with the best available last-round stack that corresponds with one's QB. For example: if my DRAFT's WR pool has dropped off majorly before I could secure my WR2, I'll be sure to take the best available QB now (say, Drew Brees) and save WR2 for an upside stab on his best available target all the way down in Round 5 (say, Ted Ginn Jr, assuming Michael Thomas is gone). It doesn't give me an optimal WR2, as I'll be taking Ginn ahead of a handful of safer plays, but it extends my ceiling in an attempt to cover for the big tier dropoff. Think of it as turning your safe cash lineup into a high-impact GPP one midstream by necessity: it's not ideal, but it's your best play when things go awry.

QB - Brady, Wentz .. RB - Hunt, Gurley, Kamara, Gordon .. WR/TE - Thomas, Jones, Kelce, Gronkowski

Chris FeeryLike Justin, I also haven’t played on DRAFT this season, but I’ve definitely been intrigued by the chatter and positive reviews from my colleagues. It’s definitely on my list to try out as time permits, and I’m hoping to be able to take the plunge before the season gets too long in the tooth. Ranking the players in tiers before jumping in definitely sounds like the way to go, as that affords you the opportunity to adjust on the fly based on how your opponent drafts. For this week, I’d be most interested in the following by position - with the obvious caveat that it’s subject to change as news breaks during the week. 
QB: Brady, Wentz, Smith
RB: Hunt, Ingram, Gordon, Gurley 
WR: M.Thomas, Jones, Kelce, Ertz 

Dan HinderyThe general strategy is similar to a full-season draft, where you focus heavily on the principles of Value-Based Drafting. The key is trying to set tiers and determine which positions have the biggest drop-offs if you wait to address them until later rounds. 

Beyond the more general strategies, another big key is to try to tailor your mix of floor and ceiling to the format you are playing. In head-to-head, you can focus primarily on median or mean projections and not be overly focused upon upside. In 6-Team and 10-Team contests, you have to put extra focus on each player’s upside. You need at least two players in your lineup with a realistic shot of drastically outperforming their draft position. There should be an extra focus on touchdown expectation because it is tough to win one of the larger field drafts without getting at least three or four touchdowns from your non-quarterback positions. 

I will have a full write-up of strategy for the Main Slate on Friday morning. My early rankings for Head-to-Head Drafts are below:

Kareem Hunt
Tom Brady
Todd Gurley
Michael Thomas
Julio Jones
Mike Evans
Leonard Fournette
Brandin Cooks
Mark Ingram II
Russell Wilson

James Brimacombe: DRAFT has been one of the highlights of my NFL DFS year so far. I enjoyed their Best Ball drafts in the offseason so much that I ended up drafting 221 teams. Since then I have continued to play in all formats on DRAFT each week, including H2H, 3-mans, 6-mans, and all the tournaments that they offer. I have learned a few tricks while playing so far this year, that if you do your own research and prepare your rankings by Tuesday you can comfortable start drafting and a lot of the players you are playing against will most likely be relying on DRAFT's preloaded projections. For instance this week Mike Evans is listed as a "O points" projection in their model, so you could have an edge by hoping your opponents don't realize this and maybe draft him a round or two later than where he should be drafted. 

I also often value the running back position heavily in this format as they typically go off the board rather quickly in any larger size tournament. While playing H2H contests you want to watch closely at how your opponent is drafting and lets say you have the first pick and take a running back and he follows it up with a pair of running backs at picks 2 and 3, you don't have to pick your second running back now until the last round. This allows you to block him from the top plays at wide receiver or quarterback.

Week 11 DRAFT Rankings - Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon III, Mark Ingram II, Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, Travis Kelce, Tom Brady, Carson Wentz

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