I'm always reviewing fantasy football draft boards and then taking a look at NFL offenses from a normal football perspective and not a fantasy football lens. What that does is help me evaluate and call out any type of discrepancies that might not make sense or translate to fantasy versus actual football.
What I mean by that is when you are looking at player ADPs, and then you review the actual offense, you realize that something has to give. I will give a few examples here in a moment, but what I'm trying to explain is in order to be successful at fantasy football, you can't look at it from a fantasy football perspective 100% of the time — you must take a step back look at it from a coaching perspective and then simply from a numbers perspective and you need to be able to try to predict what type of gamescript you expect for each offense.
Sometimes the defense dictates a lot of that. So if you have a team that has a terrible defense, chances are it’s going to be involved in a lot of shootouts or often playing catchup. This is not the rule, but it’s something to consider. Obviously, the player's skill set is going to matter also.
Let's get into it with my first example:
You have Joe Mixon with a second-round ADP. You then have Ja'Marr Chase, who was selected in the first round of the NFL draft and is an alpha-type receiver. He typically goes in the fifth round along with Tee Higgins. Not too far behind is Tyler Boyd, who has been solid the last couple years. When you look at this, I feel like something has to give — meaning someone is going to bust or underperform expectations. It's very difficult to have every player meet value in this offense, because there is only so much to go around. So the question you must ask yourself is: Who could possibly be the odd man out? You have Boyd, who has been really solid in his career. You have Higgins, who looked really good as a rookie last year. And then you have Chase, who played with Joe Burrow at LSU and will command targets right away. You can't have every guy go 90 catches for 1,000 yards and have Mixon hit value in the second round. It's quite possible, though, that you see two out of the three wide receivers command targets and Mixon have a great year at running back. It's also possible that all three wide receivers fluctuate week to week and Mixon has a solid year. It's possible the Bengals go pass heavy and Mixon is the guy impacted the most. I don't pretend to have the answer right now, but it was something I wanted to bring up to think about as you draft. The one thing that does stick out to me is that you probably should be investing in Burrow, considering the weapons he has at his disposal and him having a modest ADP.
Here is another team that is a spitting image of the Bengals situation. You have Najee Harris with a second-round ADP. You have Diontae Johnson, who typically goes in the fifth round, followed by Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster in the sixth/seventh rounds. Again, I feel like something has to give. You cannot have Harris meet expectations or hit his upside and still have all three wide receivers viable. They can definitely all have their moments throughout the year, but as far as being consistent fantasy producers, I feel like there needs to be an odd man out. I do feel confident from what I've heard that JuJu will be the go-to guy for Ben Roethlisberger. If the coaches don't play around with Harris' playing time, I feel fairly confident that he will meet expectations as a second-round pick. But if the coaches get it in their head that they want to involve the other backs throughout the year, it could end up being a frustrating pick. So again, just something for you guys to think about and evaluate when you're drafting.
Which brings me to my last point/observation that I've noticed in drafts. If you're playing in high stakes leagues in a tournament format and trying to win an overall contest, stacking makes sense if it's the right correlation. What I have noticed that I advise against is when I see someone select Dalvin Cook and then at the Round 2/3 turn select Justin Jefferson and then grab Adam Thielen later. Throughout the year, you're going to get production from each guy, but in an overall contest where you need to put up monster scores in a three-week sprint, chances are that all three guys are not going to go off in the same week. That limits your upside. Same goes for drafting Derrick Henry and following up with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. Now, can you take Tyreek Hill with Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes? Yes, you can; they've shown to be able to post monster weeks together. But if you add in Clyde Edwards-Helaire to the equation, you're probably not maximizing your ceiling for a potential high score. That’s just one example — a stack of Cam Akers, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp is another. It makes sense to own two of these guys along with Matthew Stafford but not all of them. So just keep this in your thought process when drafting that you are looking to maximize your upside in a tournament format.
I'll have another article coming out soon but just wanted to get this out there as an observation and random thoughts that I had when analyzing draft boards this week.
Nelson is our High stakes lead analyst. He's self-employed, married with 2 boys and has been playing High stakes FF for over 15 years. He has well over 1 million in career earnings, including winning the FFPC Main Event, 2 NFFC Platinum titles (20k entry fee) and countless league titles. In 2020 Nelson had a 46.2% ROI, so he's not just giving you advice, he's putting his money where his mouth is and backing it up!