The Most Underrated Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

LeVeon Injury

Disregard your top 100 player rankings, quit focusing on past performance and lighten up on the strength of schedule analysis. There is one key factor to consider when crafting your fantasy football draft strategy, and every major site (ESPN, Yahoo, etc) has failed to account for it in their rankings. It does not matter who their offensive coordinator is or whether or what the average temperature is on their home field. It boils down to a black and white variable that affects every position on the field: injuries. That is the reason we rank Eli Manning over Ben Roethlisberger, Jeremy Maclin over Calvin Johnson and Lamar Miller over Andre Ellington. Now before you go scouring last year’s statistics, hear us out.

There were a number of “unlucky” fantasy owners in 2015 that spent their first or second round picks on Le’Veon Bell, Jamal Charles, Dez Bryant or Tony Romo (yes, some people did draft Tony that high). And while it cannot be easily predicted, there is a way to hedge your bets and reduce your risk.

First, consider which positions are the most valuable to you in the long run. Compared to quarterbacks, there were nearly five times as many season-ending injuries to wide receivers and more than four times as many to running backs. What does this mean to you and your draft strategy? Quarterbacks matter. A lot. They suffer the least amount of season ending injuries and also account for the majority of your fantasy points each week.

 

Fantasy football draft strategy, Injuries by Position

Source: footballdb.com

Additionally, stop drafting running backs. In 2015, if you drafted a top 15 running back, there’s an 80% chance you failed to get your money’s worth. They either could not sustain their productivity or they endured too many injuries. It’s mind-boggling that the majority of top 10 picks are running backs. They are like startup companies in the stock market – they flutter with brilliance and grab all of our attention, only to go bankrupt by year’s end.

 

Preseason RB RankingsEnd of Year Status
1. Le'Veon Bell, Pit RBSeason-ending injury
2. Adrian Peterson, Min RBFinished #2
3. Eddie Lacy, GB RBFinished #27
4. Jamaal Charles, KC RBSeason-ending injury
5. Marshawn Lynch, Sea RBSeason-ending injury
6. C.J. Anderson, Den RBFinished #31
7. Matt Forte, Chi RBFinished #8
8. DeMarco Murray, Phi RBFinished #18
9. LeSean McCoy, Buf RBFinished #17
10. Jeremy Hill, Cin RBFinished #14
11. Mark Ingram, NO RBFinished #15
12. Alfred Morris, Wsh RBFinished #45
13. Lamar Miller, Mia RBFinished #6
14. Carlos Hyde, SF RBSeason-ending injury
15. Justin Forsett, Bal RBSeason-ending injury

 

Analyzing the table above, we can see that 7 failed to finish in the top 15 (3 of which weren’t even in the top 26), and 5 sustained season-ending injuries. So unless you drafted Adrian Peterson (preseason #2, finished #2), Matt Forte (preseason #7, finished #8) or Lamar Miller (preseason #13, finished #6), then you were left scavenging the waiver boards for DeAngelo Williams, Thomas Rawls or Charcandrick West.

About halfway through the season, chances are you’ve endured a season-ending injury to one of your stud running backs. You want to quickly grab DeAngelo Williams to account for LeVeon’s lost productivity, but this isn’t always the best approach. Understand your waiver priority and use it to your advantage. As noted before, running backs (and even wide receivers) are extremely susceptible to season-ending injuries. The further into the season, the more injuries occur.

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy, RB Injuries

 

From the chart, we notice that it’s not always wise to snatch up the top RB from waivers as soon as possible. Hold on to your high waiver pick. You may feel like your season is over when LeVeon goes down, but when it’s early enough in the season, DeAngelo Williams may go down as well. Whether it’s your preseason or mid-season, follow proper fantasy football draft strategy. Expect injury and play for the long run.