NFFC Draft Strategy
The National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC) is entering its 14th season in 2017 and maintains its position as the longest running high stakes fantasy football league in the industry. Although the NFFC operates a wide range of fantasy league formats, the most popular have settled into the 12-team size leagues. In that 12-team category, there are no less than seven different choices for owners to entertain:
- $150 Draft Champions (35 round draft, “No Moves” Best Ball Lineup, Total Point Competition)
- $350 Online Championship (20 round draft, FAAB waivers, Overall Playoffs)
- $1,600 Primetime (20 round draft, FAAB waivers, Overall Playoffs)
- $2,500 Super (20 round draft, FAAB waivers, League Playoffs)
- $5,000 Ultimate (20 round draft, FAAB waivers, League Playoffs)
- $10,000 Diamond (20 round draft, FAAB waivers, League Playoffs)
- $20,000 Platinum (20 round draft, FAAB waivers, League Playoffs)
This article will focus on draft tips to help you win your NFFC league in the 20 round draft formats, which incorporate a scoring system that uses Point-Per-Reception (PPR) and high scoring Quarterback (six point Pass TD and one point per 20 pass yards).
1. Receivers, Receivers, Receivers[the_ad id=”72106″]The key to the NFFC format is the Wide Receiver position, this is a complete 180 from the drafting standards of fantasy football 10 years ago where Running Backs dominated the early rounds of drafts. With three required starting Wide Receivers, and the option to use a fourth in the Flex slot, the depth of available talent at the position tends to dry up quickly in these savvy drafts. You do not want to be left scrambling for Wide Receivers late in the draft or off waivers. Only six of the top 24 Wide Receivers in 2015 were selected outside the first six rounds in the final Average Draft Position (ADP): Larry Fitzgerald, Doug Baldwin, Eric Decker, Allen Hurns, Michael Crabtree and John Brown.
2. Hold off on Running Backs
Applying this tip comes naturally after employing tip #1, if you are taking Wide Receivers early, naturally the Running Backs will need to slide back a little bit. Many reasons have led to this becoming the optimal strategy:
- Running Backs off a good “floor” for scoring, but Wide Receivers offer a much higher “ceiling” which is what you are looking for in high stakes contests.
- Only two Running Backs are required to be used in the 2 RB / 3 WR / Flex lineup, where as you can use four Wide Receivers to go for more of that upside scoring.
- Many NFL teams are using time shares or clear early down/third down splits, leading to fewer heavy usage backs.
- Running Backs are a much higher injury risk than other positions.
Unbelievably 12 of the top 24 Running Backs in 2015 were selected after the sixth round: Devonta Freeman, Doug Martin, DeAngelo Williams, Danny Woodhead, Chris Ivory, Darren McFadden, David Johnson, Rashad Jennings, Charles Sims, Ronnie Hillman, James Starks and Theo Riddick – there is a lot of value to be found later at Running Back, try not to get bogged down in the fact that your late round options may take a few weeks to emerge, you can survive a few rough weeks at your RB2 slot, in exchange for a loaded roster later in the year.
3. Do Not Ignore Quarterbacks
Quarterbacks can single-handedly win weeks in this format with the six point touchdowns and inflated yardage points, so do not treat this format like a standard Yahoo league and wait until Round 12 to get your starting Quarterback. But…
4. Do Not be the First to Draft a Quarterback
Even if you are a fan of the top options this year, such as Cam Newton or Andrew Luck, the draft-to-draft valuing of Quarterbacks fluctuations a good amount, so you are better off loading up on your Wide Receivers and at least one Running Back while waiting to see how the Quarterback market shakes out. The top end Quarterbacks are usually safe bets, but the top scorer at the position, Cam Newton, was the 13th Quarterback selected; Blake Bortles and Carson Palmer were the fourth and fifth highest scorers last year and were selected 27th and 20th respectively, so there is value to be found late.
5. Tight Ends are Fairly Straight Forward
Of the first 13 Tight Ends selected in the ADP, eight finished with TE1 value at the end of the year. Only Jimmy Graham, Martellus Bennett, Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron and Kyle Rudolph failed to reach TE1 value – the first three guys on that list missed at least four games.
Jordan Reed and Richard Rodgers were the only late round finds, while both Gary Barnidge and Ben Watson went undrafted. If you do not invest in Rob Gronkowski early in your draft, consider diving into the next tier of options – Reed, Tyler Eifert, Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce or Delanie Walker, most should pay off TE1 value if they stay healthy.
6. Win the Flex
This seems simple, but it is a fact that many owners do not stress enough. A casual owner will get his three Wide Receivers and his two Running Backs and just relax at those positions, and that owner will have a weekly struggle to find a decent flex. You need to continue to add depth early, especially at Wide Receiver, where it is not a bad idea to have five or six Wide Receivers in the first 10 rounds. An ideal roster after 10 rounds is a Quarterback, 2-3 Running Backs, 5-6 Wide Receivers and a Tight End, with the plan to be using four Wide Receivers in your starting lineup every week and filling in depth at Running Back in the double digit rounds.
7. Understand and use ADP[the_ad id=”58837″]Many owners completely eschew the ADP report as a useless piece of information, however understanding the player market is as important as picking the correct players. If you know for sure that a player will produce 3rd round value, but his current ADP is in the 7th round, you absolute do not take that player until at least the 5th round – by taking them in the 3rd round, you might end up paying a fair price, but you are passing up on a lot of opportunity costs by not taking another player at that draft spot. Study and analyze the ADP, other owners will not, and that gives you an advantage.
There is no magic formula for winning in fantasy sports, but that’s what makes it so challenging and enjoyable for everyone from small home leagues up to $20,000 buy-in High Stakes leagues. At the same time, using a sound NFFC draft strategy, along with doing your fair share of preparation, you could be one of the big winners in the NFFC this season.
30-something, Southern California native and have lived here my entire life. That being said, the state of NFL Football in the region has been relatively poor for most of my life, so I gravitated to Fantasy Football as an alternative. Being a math nerd, gambler and NFL fan, Fantasy Football was a natural outlet – over the years I have played in small home leagues with my high school friends and also worked my way up the ranks to play in some of the largest buy-in leagues in the world as part of the National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC). I am also an avid poker player which began at a young age, but after college I played online poker and competed twice in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event in Las Vegas. My day job as a Construction Cost Consultant is another “math” outlet, but I prefer using my brain for Fantasy Football. Most importantly, I am a husband to an amazing wife and new father to a wonderful baby girl.