This is the next in the line of dynasty strategy articles I call Building a Dynasty. This installment we talk about rookie draft strategies. The rookie draft is the heart of your team building once you are past your startup draft. While trades and free agency will help fill in your gaps, the rookie drafts is your lifeline to new league talent. Here are some strategies to maximize the benefits of your annual rookie draft.
Strategize more than a year in advance
During the run up to one draft there is typically information about thoughts regarding the next draft. For example, this year there have been many discussions about the 2017 RB class and how deep it will be. Many people are trading 2016 picks in order to stash 2017 picks in hopes they position themselves for one or two of these RBs. You do have to decide whether you believe this will come to fruition, there are reasons (injury, staying in school, ineffectiveness) why players don’t live up to the hype from a year earlier. The point is, there is information out there to be had and how much you believe it can and should impact your rookie draft strategy. After every NFL draft there are always several articles on the next drafts prospects. Be aware of this and you can trade on it. It might not always work in your favor, but with this type of early information often where there is smoke, there is fire.
Don’t neglect defense in IDP leagues
It pains me to see this, an IDP league team with an incredible set of offensive players and no defense whatsoever. Typically these teams do fairly well but can’t get over the hump and win a championship because of it. This is usually due to not picking enough IDPs in their rookie draft. Just like the thought that you’re not going to build a solid RB corp without picking an RB in the top few rounds every year, you’re not going to build a solid LB corp without picking LBs in the 3rd to 5th rounds. Picking up free agent LBs can work but you’re not going to get the elite ones if you don’t invest in them. Elite DT/DEs and Safeties can be picked off in the 4th or 5th round too. Why would you not take an elite prospect with your 4th pick rather than the 15th WR off the board? Don’t neglect IDP players in your draft. The balanced teams usually win championships in IDP leagues. Every position is important.
Don’t drop players until you have to do so
Some people just don’t bother to read the rules. Some people are into so many leagues they can’t remember the rules from league to league. Either way, don’t be that person. Know the rules and use them to your advantage. For example, if you’re league opens up IR slots during the off season so you can stash players and make room on the active roster for more, use that and don’t drop players until you absolutely have to do so. If you have roster limits or position limits that change during the off season make sure you’re aware of it and use it to your advantage. You don’t want to drop a player unless you have to and if your rules change over the off season, don’t drop players until you have to do so!
Be Patient, let the draft come to you
I always go into the draft with a strategy, a game plan. I know what I want and through study of ADP information I know generally what I can get in each round. There are always surprises but generally drafts are very orderly that way and people stick to the herd mentality and take someone around where they are “supposed” to be taken. In every draft, there are players that don’t get picked where they are supposed to get picked though and their value becomes worth the risk to take. You have to have the flexibility in your strategy to take advantage of these moments. If you find yourself in the third round and a 2nd round player is still available, change your strategy if you believe in that player and take them. You have to be patient and let the draft come to you. Always have a strategy but be flexible and open to changing if value falls to you. I rarely trade up, it’s usually not worth the risk of giving up a couple of picks and players for one player that may or may not work out. But trading down can create value and can also put you in position to gain from players that have dropped below their current ADP without reason.
Always take the best available in round 1
The draft is a 50/50 proposition, you are never going to have all of your picks stick on your team. You do want as many first round picks to stick on your team though. The first round is critical, which is obvious to most but you’d be surprised on how many reaches I see in my drafts. People go for need instead of best available and that need continues to be a need when the player reached for does not meet first round quality standards. Always take the best available player in round 1. A smart draft technician can position themselves to take a position of need and the best available by trading up or down a few spots if it is not too costly to do so. Even if it is too costly to do so, if you’re stacked with WRs and WR is the best available, take him! you can always trade on his value after the draft to find a quality RB if that’s your need. Always take the best available in round 1, reaching is no fun in the long run!