Our Resident Fantasy Expert A’s your Q’s
by Lead Fantasy writer Steve Cook | @SteveCook84 | Mail@3PSMag.com
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Welcome to the Fantasy Attack! It’s Week 3 of the preseason, which means this week we’ll be getting a pretty good look at most of the people we’ll be drafting in our fantasy leagues. This is the week where teams actually try to do things. We’ll have plenty to unpack about all that next week.
I thought this week would be a good time to answer some of the most common questions people have about fantasy football, and explain a little bit about how I wound up here.
Why are you here telling us about fantasy?
I’ve made my bones over the years talking about stuff I had no personal experience with. I’ve never been in the pro wrestling business, but watching it for nearly thirty years has given me an insight that some people want to hear. I stopped playing sports competitively around the age of ten, but I still talk about those fairly often too.
Fantasy is actually something I have some positive experience with. I’ve been playing since 2004. I started in football, then expanded my game to baseball, basketball & hockey. There’s no time of the year where I’m not playing some kind of a fantasy sport. I win championships or finish in the top three in all four sports more often than not.
Basically, I’m a gigantic nerd. You have other things to do with your life. I don’t.
What’s the toughest part of becoming a fantasy football player?
99% of us have a favorite team. We also have a least favorite team. It’s tempting to draft players from your favorite team & avoid players from their rivals. It’s also silly to do such a thing.
As a Cincinnati Bengals fan, the idea of having an interest in players from their rivals in the AFC North was difficult to swallow. I quickly figured out that I would have to get over it in order to succeed. A good percentage of my fantasy teams have had either the Pittsburgh or Baltimore defense because I knew how good those units were. I was early on the Antonio Brown bandwagon a few years back because I saw him light up the Bengals a couple of times. Brown & Ben Roethlisberger have been on my two-time defending dynasty championship team since the start of that league. I still hate them like any diehard Bengals fan does, but I do love having that double-dip at my disposal.
Many fans can’t reach this point. One of my podcasting colleagues hates fantasy because he’d rather just root for his favorite team. He doesn’t want to be ok with Julio Jones getting 2 touchdowns & 100 receiving yards against his Carolina Panthers because Jones is on one of his fantasy teams. He’d rather wallow in the despair that all of us football fans know too well.
I do try not to draft any Cleveland Browns, but that’s more due to the fact they’ve been terrible my entire fantasy career than anything else.
Who should I take with the first overall pick?
DRAFT has Todd Gurley at the top with a 1.30 ADP. It’s tough to argue. Gurley has a good offensive line and was the top-scoring running back last season by sixty-two points over second-place Le’Veon Bell. Bell is tempting because he’s been so good for so long, but Gurley’s got more upside at this point.
Wide receiver or running back in the first round?
Depends where you’re at. I usually end up near the end of the draft order in every league I’m in, so I end up in the spot where you’re looking at a top-3 WR versus a top-10 RB. I’ll take the top-3 WR at that slot, then an RB with my next pick as there aren’t very many picks between my first & second. If you’re one of those people that actually gets a top-5 pick, I’d jump on an RB.
Why do fantasy experts think you can take quarterbacks later?
Because they aren’t in drafts with people outside the expert circles. The quarterbacks dominate the media coverage and are the most familiar names to the average fans. Every expert mock draft I’ve ever seen has QBs going in the middle rounds. Most drafts I’ve been in have seen the top QBs go off the board in the first four rounds.
The fact of the matter is that there isn’t much separation in fantasy quarterbacks. Russell Wilson was the top performer last season by a wide margin, but the next eleven were within fifty-one points of each other. Heck, Blake Bortles was only twelve points behind them. You probably picked Drew Brees real early last season, but he was a point behind Dak Prescott in production. Waiting to pick QB is the smart thing to do.
When should I draft a defense?
A lot of people like to stream defenses. Sometimes I’ll end up doing so myself as the season progresses and I’m looking for an edge. I don’t recommend going in with that strategy though. There are always a lot of things up in the air. I don’t want to spend much time if any worrying about what I’m doing with my defense slot. I’m spending my time watching my WRs & RBs and keeping an eye on guys that we missed on in the draft. I don’t even recommend having a backup defense, unless you’re in a deep league and other people have them for some reason. Usually, there will be good selections on the waiver wire.
There’s always a spot in a draft where everybody decides to pick a defense. It’s the same with tight ends, and to a lesser extent with quarterbacks. Once one gets picked, the rest start disappearing from the board. If you’re towards one of the ends of the draft order like I typically am and have a long time between your picks, you’ll reach for one just to have it. When you go 20-something slots between picks, you can’t let everybody take all of a position that isn’t particularly deep.
Some people don’t even take defenses or kickers. I don’t recommend this either, as you’re just going to end up dropping somebody before the season in order to fill these slots.
When should I draft a kicker?
Last. There’s never a good reason to pick a kicker before the last round. No disrespect to the guys, I’ve won fantasy leagues thanks to kickers before. A 20+ point effort from Blair Walsh won me a championship game in 2015. A lot of folks in Minnesota don’t care for Walsh now but he’ll always be ok with me.
Here’s the thing: I didn’t draft Blair Walsh. I added him to my team when the kicker I drafted, Mike Nugent, had a bye week. Walsh got a good score so I kept him around. That’s how the kicker category works. Ride the hot foot. There’s no reason to put more thought into it than that.
What’s your favorite part of the DRAFT app?
It’s easy fantasy drafting on my phone. The other drafters are on their game…I did a Yahoo mock & the first two picks were Zeke Elliott & the Jacksonville defense. You don’t see that on DRAFT. It’s real money on the line & folks take it seriously. The whole Best-Ball thing is a dream come true for people that make terrible lineup decisions. The Fast format means you aren’t sitting there all day. If you enjoy a good fantasy draft involving the moolah, there isn’t a better option than DRAFT. Don’t forget to use the link PlayDraft.com/3PSFantasy
to sign up and get your free entry.
If you’ve got some fantasy questions of your own, hit me up on the Twitter @stevecook84