(Editor’s note: Every Sunday, we’ll wrap up the week on PFF Fantasy with some topic one of our writers has been thinking about of late, and recap the features, columns, and podcasts you could find on the site that week.)
In our recent superflex mock fantasy draft, I had the 12th pick of 12.
(As an aside, MFL has apparently decided that I don’t warrant early picks in these mocks. We’ve done 10 as a staff so far this offseason, and I think the earliest I’ve picked is 10th. I actually got the third pick in one draft in this series, but then I realized I had screwed up one of the base settings and had to start over … and I got 12th. I wonder what drafting Le’Veon Bell would be like.)
In a slow draft, just from a time-devoted perspective, having one of the picks at the turn isn’t so bad. You can make a couple picks and then take a day, two days off altogether. It’s at least not stressful. But (and maybe this is just me) in a superflex in particular, it made me employ a strategy I didn’t love. My ideal would have been wait until Round 3 or Round 4 at the earliest to start on QBs, but I couldn’t afford to be wrong in my expectations, pass on QB at the R1/2 turn, and then see a massive run on the position and end up with, say, Ryan Tannehill and Mitchell Trubisky.
To solve the problem, I just took Tom Brady at 2.01, and ultimately I’m happy with how the draft turned out, but the point is that staring down the barrel of 22 picks without me doing anything was daunting.
Auction drafts are the best. I think we can all agree with that. (Okay, probably not all of us, but I’m writing, so you have to agree with my premise.) But sometimes it’s not practical to do an auction, so we have to go with a snake. And for what it is, a snake draft isn’t bad. It’s definitely easy to both use and explain. But we have worlds of data that show that the earlier you pick in a snake, the better you do. We know this. It’s not a guarantee that the first overall pick will win or that the last pick in the first round will finish last, but the odds say those are the most likely outcomes, or close to it.
So isn’t there a better way? If you get the massive advantage of the first overall pick, shouldn’t you then have a slight penalty for your next one? If you have to wait and take the 12th-best player, is it fair that you’re likely waiting to take the 36th-best as well?
I’d love to see us go deeper on fantasy draft orders. I’m shamelessly stealing this from a Bill Simmons Grantland piece from 2012 where he uses the draft order for a team wins pool among friends, but here’s one suggestion (for a 10-team league, but the point still works):
|Round 1 pick
|Round 2 pick
|Round 3 pick
|Team 1||1||10 (20)||6 (26)|
|Team 2||2||6 (16)||9 (29)|
|Team 3||3||3 (13)||10 (30)|
|Team 4||4||8 (18)||5 (25)|
|Team 5||5||5 (15)||7 (27)|
|Team 6||6||9 (19)||2 (22)|
|Team 7||7||1 (11)||8 (28)|
|Team 8||8||7 (17)||1 (21)|
|Team 9||9||4 (14)||3 (23)|
|Team 10||10||2 (12)||4 (24)|
More confusing than now? Yeah, sure. But I would definitely argue it’s more equitable. If you assign a numerical value to every pick (i.e. Pick 1.01 is 1, Pick 1.10 is 10, Pick 2.08 is 18), this system has every draft slot totaling 46 or 47, with the 46s (and therefore a slight overall advantage) predominantly going to the teams that pick later in the first round. For comparison’s sake, in a traditional 10-team snake draft, Pick 1.01 would total 42 through three rounds, while Pick 1.10 would total 52, a clear 1.01 advantage.
Simmons’ example is for a three-round, 10-team draft, but a similar approach — basically building a mini-Magic Square out of draft picks — could be employed for any league, any draft size, any number of rounds. It’s more complicated than things are now, but in a game where we are parsing carries down to the hashmark and inventing regression models to predict kicker extra-point success, what’s a little extra complication?
The snake draft is the predominant approach in this game, but it’s time to ask whether there’s a better approach. And I would argue the answer is a resounding yes.
- Speaking of that superflex mock, Tyler Buecher recaps the approaches and strategies employed.
- Julian Edelman’s suspension appeal is in the news right now, and Scott Spratt offers up thoughts on what fantasy owners should do no matter how long Edelman might be out.
- Scott Barrett’s Metrics that Matter looked at the most and least consistent fantasy players by usage.
- Daniel Kelley looks at teams that have struggled to find success at a position over several years, and investigates whether that might change.
- Walton Spurlin turns his attention down the road at next year’s free agency class.
- Draft advice:
- Michael Moore’s Player Showdowns takes a stab at the overall TE1: Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce.
- Tyler Buecher highlights position battles to watch at quarterback and running back.
- Tyler Loechner turns the microscope on running backs — those with extra PPR value and those with less.
- Daniel Kelley explains how to stream a fantasy DST without knowing anything about football.
- Tyler Loechner uses data on fantasy points per route run to find some of the most efficient receivers around the league.
- Dan Clasgens looks at the recent history of successful running backs to find what has made them so effective and who could follow in their footsteps.
- On the devy side, Curtis Patrick previews the Pac-12 from a fantasy perspective.