What We Learned: 2021 Preseason
Check back here every week to listen to Tim: analyze what we saw, discuss who's trending up or down, and jump to some wild conclusions.
It’s the eighth round of a 12-team (PPR) draft. You’re on the clock.
Who would you rather have? Former undisputed fantasy WR1, and recent favorite target of Tom Brady, Antonio Brown… Or unproven Jets rookie RB (likely to split touches with Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson) Michael Carter?
It seems like an easy decision. But often times, it’s not that simple.
Let’s say, for the sake of this exercise, you’ve already drafted a QB, TE, two RBs and three WRs. Or maybe one anchor RB, and four WRs.. You wanted to secure that high-upside QB & TE, and you did. BUT.. you passed on starting RBs like Myles Gaskin, Mike Davis and Gus Edwards to do so.
Now, it’s round 8 and you need an RB2 or RB3. Unfortunately there are no RBs left that aren’t second-string or stuck in a committee. Well crap. How did we get here?
This seems like a problem many people have been running into when drafting their teams this season, especially in 12-team leagues. With season ending injuries to players like Travis Etienne, JK Dobbins, and Cam Akers, the mid-round, high-upside RB pool has thinned out more than usual. Most times, you're going to end up with a sketchy RB3 you don't have much trust in.
So, how do we solve this problem? My answer: go RB-heavy early on.
Take the two players listed above for example. You’ve made it to round eight in a 12-team league. Trust me when I say, you’d MUCH rather be looking for a WR at this point than an RB.
RBs available in 8th round range (84-96 overall):
Michael Carter, Sony Michel, AJ Dillon, Zach Moss, James Conner
All are players that are either a second option on their team, or are stuck in a timeshare/committee and are FAR from a safe bet. On the other hand..
Some WRs available in same range:
Antonio Brown, Jarvis Landry, Corey Davis, Will Fuller, Marquez Callaway
All of these players are not only likely to score more consistent weekly points than the RBs listed above, they all offer LEAGUE WINNING UPSIDE !!!
But if you wont take it from me, how about from Matthew Berry? In the TMR’s ‘7 habits of highly effective drafters’ article, he lists understanding position depth as a key to being an effective drafter. He details the difference in fantasy points between a top-20 RB and a top-20 WR, and how over the last decade numbers have proven you’re MUCH more likely to find a WR1 in the WR2 pool than vice versa with RBs. I would highly recommend checking it out as he puts it much better than I could. I’ll post a link to it below.
In essence, Berry tells that the average drop-off in points among RB2s and WR2s is, on average, a nearly a 20 percent difference. Long story short: WR is always deep, QB is usually pretty deep, RB hardly ever is, and is the last position you want to wait on.
The solution, in my opinion, is to grab as many top-30 RB's as you can before it is too late. Trust me when I say, you can wait on WRs. There are plenty of trustworthy options with a clear path to fantasy-friendly usage in rounds 6-10. The same can't be said of RB's.
Now, am I recommending you pass on Tyreek Hill in the second round to draft D'Andre Swift? Absolutely not. I'm not suggesting you grab someone you know is going to score less points than the player you want. I'm simply suggesting you bolster depth at a position where depth is hard to come by.
The fact is, fantasy WRs literally grow on trees. It happens every year. Take Travis Fulgham last season for example. Did he get drafted on fantasy teams last season? No he did not. Did he have a stretch of games where he basically put up low-end WR1, high-end WR2 numbers? He absolutely did.
How about QB/TE? If you want to grab your TE/QB early, my advice is to pick one, and punt the other.
As for TE, If you can secure Kelce, Waller, Kittle, Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts, TJ Hockenson I certainly wouldn't blame you for taking that route. But if you miss on those guys, you don't have to feel like it's time to panic and reach. There are plenty of intriguing, albeit less safe, options going later like, for example, Logan Thomas (ADP: 96th overall, finished last season as TE3 in total points, undrafted ADP in 2020). RBs available in that range listed above.
As for QB, the minimum requirement for a good fantasy QB is a lot more lenient than any other position. Sure, it is nice to have a solid bet for elite production like Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, etc. But you don't always have to spend one of your top-five/six picks to get that. Ryan Tannehill was/is a fine late-round option that scores consistent points and offers elite upside, and can normally be drafted AFTER you have 4WRs/4RBs and a TE. Last season, Josh Allen's ADP was QB10, Aaron Rodgers was QB13! How outrageous does that sound knowing how they performed?
My point is, it's fine to grab an elite option at either QB or TE early on, but if you grab both, your depth (at least for one position) will often suffer as a result.
Hopefully the position it doesn't suffer is your RB slot, because to overcome that, it'll be an uphill battle.
Photo courtesy of @TimsFantasyTips on Instagram
Antonio Brown and Michael Carter are going in the same range in fantasy football drafts this season. One clearly has more upside, so why is the decision so close? Read the enclosed article to find out!
Tim Brosnan, Fantasy Sports Analyst/Freelance Journalist
Tim Brosnan is a college-educated sports journalist from the New Haven, Connecticut area.
Brosnan earned his Bachelor's Degree from Castleton University where he majored in Media & Communication, with a focus in Journalism.
During his tenure as the sports editor of the Castleton Spartan newspaper, Brosnan created the segment 'Tim's Fantasy Tips'. It began as a simple weekly start/sit column, but since then, the idea has grown into so much more.
Brosnan has taken his experience/passion for fantasy football and combined it with his journalistic know-how in order to bring you a completely original, well-informed, multi-layered fantasy football advice experience.
We hope you enjoy.