Fantasy Football 2014: Draft Strategy To Win Your League This Season

Jamaal Charles KC Chiefs
Jamaal Charles was a top fantasy performer in 2013, but he could be a disappointment as a first-round pick in 2014. Reuters

There’s a lot of luck involved in winning a fantasy football league, but being a successful player usually doesn’t happen by accident. The road to a championship starts with the draft, and having a sound draft strategy might be the most important factor in where you finish at the end of the season.

There are dozens of draft strategies that fantasy football players use when trying to win their leagues. Depending on what type of league you’re in, a few specific ones will work best for your quest at a title.

Wait on a running back

Drafting a top running back can be key to helping you win your league. Players like Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte were among the top players in all of fantasy football last year. However, it might be smart to wait and find value at the position.

Because injuries are so prevalent among running backs, and their performances often vary from year to year, it can be costly to draft one in the first or second round. Of the 16 running backs that ran for over 1,000 yards in 2012, only seven of them did the same in 2013. In the first few weeks of the season, it might not difficult to find a running back on the waiver wire that’s either taken over as the starter or burst onto the scene and poised to have a big year.

No middle ground with quarterbacks

With a top five pick, it’s hard to go wrong by taking a quarterback. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are all but guaranteed to put up monstrous numbers and give you a weekly advantage at the position.

Failing to get one of the best signal callers, though, might mean waiting a few rounds to fill the position. While the elite quarterbacks have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, the majority of them don’t offer much of a difference. The NFL has become so much of a passing league that a lot quarterbacks are putting up relatively big numbers, with a chance to have a few standout performances. There’s a good chance the No.6 ranked quarterback on a particular fantasy football website will have worse year than the No.15 ranked player at the position.

Concentrate on your bench

Even though you only plan on starting them during bye weeks, your bench players could make or break your season. The physical nature of the sports lends itself to numerous injuries each week, almost ensuring that top draft picks will miss significant portions of the season.

Drafting a strong bench is much more important that landing a top kicker or defense. Those two positions rarely produce a lot of points and are so hard to predict that they should only be addressed with the final two picks. Even if you’re strong at a position, having a good backup can open up trade possibilities to help your strengthen a weakness.

Be flexible

Every fantasy football player should enter their draft with a strategy, but sticking to that plan, no matter what, can be a problem. Depending on how other members of the league are drafting, you may need to call an audible.

Taking an elite quarterback at No.10 overall is a good idea, but it might not be possible if seven signal callers are taken before your first pick. There are only so many studs at wide receiver, and you might have to grab one earlier than expected if they continue to fly off the board. There are no steadfast rules, and you must be prepared to change your strategy and adapt.  

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