How To Plan A Fantasy Draft With Risky Players

How to plan a Draft with Risky Players

Its August, which means that the majority of fantasy drafts are going to be occurring over the coming weeks.  Each year we see regular players that hit the “top risky players” or “risk vs. reward” articles for nearly every expert.  These names are also engaged in dialogue around the water cooler, at the office or among friends.  And every year, we get a new batch of players that enter the debate. 

Most of these players are being discussed because at some point, one person in the draft will be taking them.  The term “value” is usually thrown out there when discussing these players.  The conversation begins with I wouldn’t want to draft him, but I’d take him in a specific round.  Here’s a conversation that I have had myself:

Person A: “I wouldn’t touch Alshon Jeffery this year”. 

Person B: “Well if he falls, what round would you be willing to draft him in”?

Person A: “I’d think about it in the 5th or 6th”.

Person B: “Then I guess you will not be having him on any of your teams”.

Person A: “No”.

You see, the question shouldn’t be whether you will draft a player; it should be about what round you would draft a player. 

I’d like to propose a twist to this conversation; in what circumstance would you draft a player around the current ADP?

In this example person A in all likelihood, will not be able to draft Alshon Jeffery in the 5th or 6th round.  His current ADP is 34.7 according to FantasyPros.  I suspect this means that he is being drafted on average between 30 and 40 and thus in the 3rd or 4th round depending on league size. 

As we start to plan for our drafts, some of us know our draft position and some will find out shortly before the draft.  But in all circumstances, we can prepare our game plan for how we will be drafting based on the information we have about our leagues. 

In this example, if I believe I will be drafting Alshon Jeffery in the 4th round, then I need to also prepare for who I will be drafting in rounds 1,2, and 3.  This way I can mitigate the risk that is associated with Alshon. 

For instance, this draft result could occur:

Round 1 – Ezekiel Elliot

Round 2 – Todd Gurley

Round 3 – Rob Gronkowski

In this scenario, you probably had an early 1st round pick and then selected Gurley and Gronk around the turn.  Jefferey, because of his injury history and switching teams has now fallen to the early 4th round and you believe that increases the value of picking him. 

However, I would caution that this would not be in your best interest.  Elliot could be receiving a suspension at some point this year and Gurley along with Gronkowski have their own concerns.  Picking another risky player only adds to the potential downfall in your roster.

Instead a draft that would look like this, would put me in a position to take Alshon with a 4th round pick:

Round 1.  David Johnson

Round 2. Aaron Rodgers

Round 3. Doug Baldwin

Now with your 4th round you can select Alshon without as much risk because you are drafting players who have performed at a high level consistently. David Johnson is…. well David Johnson.   Aaron Rodgers is usually the 1st or 2nd ranked QB each year.  And Baldwin has been a top 10 WR the last two years.  And oh because you probably are on the turn as well, you have another consistent player to choose with your 5th round pick.  Because you have constructed your roster with “safer” picks early you have wiggle room later on in the draft.  You might be able to reach for a Martavis Bryant or another player a round earlier because you have flexibility. 

You will not lose your draft if you do select riskier players early and they fail…

But you will have to plan your draft accordingly.  This means, that instead of drafting Martavis Bryant in the 5th; maybe you choose between Michael Crabtree and Larry Fitzgerald.  Or instead of flipping a coin between Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson for your bench; you now must draft LeGarrette Blount, cause at least you know he will have a role. 

My advice is to not have too many of one thing.  Just like you want to diversify types of players in the same position (read: Diversifying your RB’s and WR’s); you will also want to diversify your risk. 

Here is a list of risky players in the early rounds that if drafted would match with safe picks. Risk in Bold:

  1. Devonte Freeman, Melvin Gordon, Demaryius Thomas.
  2. Le’Veon Bell, Rob Gronkowski, Doug Baldwin.
  3. Antonio Brown, Todd Gurley, Aaron Rodgers.
  4. Julio Jones, Jordan Howard, Amari Cooper.

Here is a list of safe players that allow you to draft risky afterwards: Risk in Bold:

  1. Odell Beckham Jr., T.Y.Hilton, Marshawn Lynch.
  2. David Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Dez Bryant.
  3. J. Green, Melvin Gordon, Leonard Fournette.
  4. Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, Sammy Watkins.

You will notice, that the player that is risky, you will want to ensure a solid option at the same position.  I would not recommend drafting Marshawn Lynch with your 3rd pick if you do not have another safe RB in the 1st round or 2nd round.  This is because of scarcity at the RB position, as the draft continues.  WR gives you a little more flexibility but if you follow this process through the remaining rounds, you will have a solid team to contend with. 

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