What did you learn this fantasy football season? We learned quite a bit about three rookie quarterbacks who led their teams into the playoffs and a handful of rookie running backs who will surely impact the 2013 fantasy football draft. But this season also gave us a peek into what strategy to revert back for drafting and where/when to start taking those gambles.
This year saw a shift in the draft status of the elite tight end. Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham were off the board in many leagues by the end of the second round and many teams were happy with taking a strong running back over an elite quarterback in the first couple of rounds. May it be a lesson to fantasy owners that tight ends are never going to be quite as valuable as wide receivers or quarterbacks.
The ability to have an elite playmaker at any position, where the number of elite players are at that position are at a premium, puts you at a considerable advantage over your opponent. This logic and strategic thinking of fantasy football is what can win championships. The logic in 2012 was that an elite tight end that puts up elite WR numbers would be best served since most other tight ends pale in comparison statistically. The same can be said of quarterbacks of elite stature such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Those three have been the most reliable options the last few seasons.
Previous seasons have seen running backs taken with the first few picks and owners have tried to load up on running backs early with their first 2 or 3 picks. Well, that strategy is about to change with the latest crop of quarterbacks and significant change away from teams having all down running backs. While Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Arian Foster are still top running backs that pretty much do it all for their teams that trend has changed in the NFL. Tight ends should probably drop back to the 5th round and later in mock drafts and top quarterbacks should have more added emphasis in the top 3 rounds. Quarterbacks RGIII (if healthy), Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton all need to be added to the heap of the top 3 already mentioned. So while running backs are always great to have, they should not be overvalued as they have been in previous seasons.
My suggestion for drafting depends upon where in the draft you are in a standard 12 person league. If you can get an elite QB then do it in the first round, don’t hesitate. If you can get Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster then do it since those offenses run mainly through those players. Second round players should include a running back if you took a QB in the first round or a QB if you took a running back in the first round unless Calvin Johnson is on the board. The playing field for wide receivers is so large and there is such parity amongst the group outside of Calvin Johnson that you get great value in round 6 to 10 as you can as rounds 3 to 5.
As always, handcuffing your top dog running back with his back up is a final round strategy that I certainly endorse. For example, I think Bernard Pierce is going to have tremendous value next year as Ray Rice’s handcuff in Baltimore.
These are just a few ideas and strategies that I think will become trends as we look towards the Fall. In the meantime, enjoy the conference championship games this coming weekend and here’s to an All-Harbaugh Super Bowl.