Snake Draft Strategies

If you are reading this, that means you failed to convince your fellow fantasy league members to switch from the traditional/snake draft to the auction draft. In the event that you have not yet tried and convince them, please do so immediately. The auction draft method is far superior and much more fun.

But enough of my politicking. You are here because you want some advice and strategies on how to rule your fantasy draft. Well, you have come to the right place. Below are my thoughts on how you can have the most success with your traditional/snake draft.

First, some basic assumptions:
(1) You operate in a 12-team league with 15 rounds.
(2) Your starting roster = QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, K, DEF.
(3) Pass TD = 4 pts, 25 Pass yds = 1 pt.
(4) Rush TD = 6 pts., 10 Rush yds = 1 pt.

Pre-Draft Preparation

Create your Cheat Sheets. You want to have your so-called cheat sheets prepared in advance of the draft, so you can reference them as you go along. Once the draft starts, you have very little time to think through your picks and strategize, so having your cheat sheets is helpful. Most sites rank the top 200 players overall, and then rank the top however-many players at each position. However, I am not a big fan of this approach. Seriously, how can anyone realistically say that player #164 is better than player #165? Plus, as you get towards the end of the draft,  you should be less concerned about who is #164 and who is #165 and more concerned about what positions you need to fill out your roster. Here is my approach:

  1. Rank your top 100 players overall. If you have a list of the top 100 players, this means that you have a composite ranking of players for (approximately) the first 8 rounds. By this time, you will likely have drafted your starting lineup (QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE) and a couple key backups. At this point, however, you need to focus on the relative value of each remaining player in light of your current roster. Which is why I rank the players into tiers (see below).
  2. Rank players at each position in tiers. After the top 15 or 20 guys, the gap between two given players begins to narrow. As a result, it is important to group players in tiers. Because once a given tier is close to depleted, you need to be mindful and grab one of the last guys on that tier if that is a position of need for you, because you know there is a drop off until the next available guy.

So, check out my rankings (QB Rankings, RB Rankings, WR Rankings, TE Rankings) to get an idea of how the tier system works. But, I will humbly suggest that you do not rely entirely on my rankings. Although I believe my system is a very good one, you should use your own knowledge and the rankings from other sites to adjust it according to your liking. Before I started this website, I would get 3 or 4 different sets of rankings and create my own personal set. Because it is always wise to have multiple sources of information available when you are making decisions.

Identify your sleepers. As you are creating your rankings, you will notice that most sites have similar rankings towards the top, but they vary greatly as they go on. This is because it becomes very difficult to differentiate between players at the lower levels. So, what I generally do is identify players that are often referred to as “sleepers” — or lesser known players who you (or someone else) expects to perform unexpectedly well. Check out some of my potential sleepers here and here.

Early Rounds (1-5)

What is your position? Your strategy here depends entirely on what selection you have. Obviously, if you have one of the top 3 selections, you should take the best player available (“BPA”). But if you have a selection in the middle or at the end, there is a lot more strategy involved (which also means there is a lot more room for error). On this page, I will just give you some general advice. But check this out for more detailed advice on the first and second rounds of a traditional/snake draft.

Trust your draft board. The worst thing you can do during the draft is second-guess your draft board. I have been in too many drafts where someone will reach for a player because they had a big play in a preseason game that was shown on Sportscenter the night before. Do not let things like this influence you on draft day. Trust that you did your homework (or that you let someone like me do it for you) and that you are fully prepared.

Avoid the urge to take a QB. I do not like taking a QB early. Even with guys like QB Drew Brees, QB Tom Brady, and QB Peyton Manning. Yes, they ave consistent fantasy producers, but you can get a guy later who is not that much worse. But if you waste a pick on a QB early, you put yourself in a very tough position with respect to RBs and WRs, which are much more scare, because you have to start two RBs and three WRs.

Middle Rounds (5-10)

Look for value. Do not get fooled by the hype. Guys like WR Percy Harvin and WR Jeremy Maclin will have buzz about them. But they are not going to produce. You are better off taking guys like WR Kevin Walter (HOU), who may not be flashy, but they produce fantasy points. Which is what this game is all about. It is okay to take risks, but do not pass on guys who are solid produces to pick a guy who is a boom/bust prospect.

Consider your handcuffs. At this point, depending on the player, it might be time to consider drafting your starting RB’s actual backup as a handcuff. For example, if you picked RB Adrian Peterson with the first pick, you might consider grabbing RB Chester Taylor if he is still available. However, handcuffs are only worthwhile when the RB is on a good team and the backup is actually a decent player. If one or both of those is missing, you might be better off finding yourself a different starting RB (or someone who is part of a RBBC) to use as your fantasy backup.

Late Rounds (11-15)

Know when to pull the trigger on sleepers. You made your list. So you know who your “sleepers” are. Which is very important. But, as with any good plan, the key is execution. Even if you know all the “sleepers”, if someone else beats you to them, you have gained nothing. So you have to know when the optimal time is to pick them. And this is where ranking your players in tiers is valuable. You can identify why position is getting thin and know when to grab your guy. And since you have identified a guy as a “sleeper” he will be ranked higher on your list than your opponent’s.

Wait for your defense. As with kickers (see below), it is impossible to predict how well a defense will perform. For example, the Chargers were the consensus top-ranked fantasy defense in 2008. However, they finished around 20th in fantasy scoring at the end of the season. So let other people pick the Steelers and Ravens while you pick up sleepers and quality bench players, and then grab your defense in one of the last rounds.

Never EVER take a kicker before the last round. Kickers change so much every year, it is not worth taking one before the last round. You can always find a worthy kicker at the end. And, if he turns out not to be that great, pick the guy off waivers who turns out to be better than everyone who was drafted.

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