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What I Learned from the 2019 Draft Season

Find out what GuruNation’s Dalton Kate’s found out about the 2019 NFL Fantasy drafts

What I Learned from the 2019 Draft Season by. Dalton Kates @DaltonGuruFF

After months of research of incoming rookies, countless articles consumed and completing 27 drafts this season I can now sit back and watch the fruits of my labor start to sprout. This was by far my most extensive offseason for fantasy as I added 10 more leagues to my platter this year with 27 total between both dynasty and re-draft leagues. 

It is always one thing to give out advice but it is a totally different thing to act on your own advice. As someone who writes articles, podcasts about fantasy and plays in dozens of leagues, I pride myself on giving honest takes and actually draft players I tout. 

Here’s a breakdown of my portfolio of my re-draft leagues and go position-by`-position to give an overview of how I approach it this season.

Below is a chart of all players I own across my re-draft leagues this season.

QB Position

The QB position is deeper than it has ever been with roughly 23 QBs available with a very realistic shot of finishing inside the top 12 of the position. With that in mind it made little sense for me to target a QB early when I could be loading up on positions elsewhere. While diving deep into the well of QBs may limit your ability to truly have a game-changer, you can still get very reliable weekly production from a QB and at times stream if your league doesn’t have deep benches. I still think it is important to have a “game-changer” at QB as my Patrick Mahomes teams last season were some of my best. With that in mind I targeted guys who could be “game-changers” without the price tag of one. Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson were those guys for me this year as their rushing ability raises their weekly floor and if they develop as passers then they bring some tantalizing upside to the table. 

Guys I wish I had more shares of: 

Jameis Winston

Cam Newton

Both of these guys were going in roughly the same range as Kyler and Lamar so those were my preferred targets. I also strongly believe in rostering one QB so my shares naturally were going to make a couple players I liked off my rosters.

Guys I may have drafted too much:

None

RB Position

Research shows that outside of the first few picks in a fantasy draft, you would be gaining more value from taking a WR over a RB all the way until roughly the 9th round. This makes sense because there are only a couple truly elite RBs and every year some of the biggest busts come from RBs due to injury or lack of perceived opportunity we had projected for players in the higher rounds.

I’m a fan of Zero RB strategy due to the anti-fragile approach in which you can really create dominate rosters with selecting the proper types of RBs. When looking at my portfolio you will see very few RBs inside the top 24 of positional ADP in which I own more than two shares on. Any time I was able to scoop a top four selection I would go RB every time, but other than that I was likely avoiding RB altogether until at least the fifth round and sometimes even later than that. Once guys like Will Fuller, Curtis Samuel and Christian Kirk were off the board, it was all about RBs. 

I mentioned how I take my own advice and that is exactly what I did. Ironically, three of my highest rostered RBs this year are players I touted earlier in the offseason before I had even completed one draft as I had my eyes set on Justice Hill, Justin Jackson and Matt Breida

Drafting early is a massive advantage and a big reason why I was able to get a lot of these RBs on my team before their prices increased. A few of these players ADP today would have made it near impossible to have a RB profile this robust.

Guys I wish I had more shares of:

Kerryon Johnson

Aaron Jones

I’m rather high on Johnson as the next breakout RB but my draft philosophy often had me looking elsewhere in the range he was selected. I’m sure I am going to regret not taking him more often, but one share should keep me somewhat satisfied. 

Similar thing with Aaron Jones as he was going in a similar spot and I was unwilling to hit RB in this are of the draft

Update: After seeing his usage Week 1, maybe this was a blessing in disguise. Regardless, I still believe he is extremely good and will have a fine season.

Guys I drafted too much:

Jerick McKinnon

This one is for obvious reasons, but there is also a slight downside when it comes to drafting early as players can have setbacks or unforeseen injuries in which tampers their value heading into the season.

WR Position

The strategy this year for wideouts was to load up on as many as possible before the “drop-off”. The crop of wideouts was fairly deep with roughly 36 players who could really do some damage at WR, but after that the list of guys with potential to breakout and be consistent options is very thin. I considered the drop off after guys like Corey Davis, Courtland Sutton and Will Fuller as the last line of defense before things got very gross at the position. 

There was a very intriguing number of WR values in the fourth to sixth rounds in which I found myself hitting the WR position in almost every draft in this spot. I was also trying to secure at least five WRs on my team by the seventh round and touching on an occasional late-round WR to round out the squad. Also, due to this strategy it kept putting me in position to really key in on the RB values after the eighth round. 

Knowing that WRs are a better value than RBs from basically the middle of the first round until the ninth round, this seemed like an optimal strategy for accumulating the most value on the roster for the whole season. 

Guys I wish I had more shares of: 

Odell Beckham Jr.

Calvin Ridley

Tyler Lockett

My biggest regret was having a combined zero shares of these players as I feel I’m just as high (if not higher) than the consensus on them. I believe OBJ is in for a career year with Baker Mayfield at QB but found my drafts kept me from taking himl when I was positioned in the late first. If it weren’t for Chris Godwin, Tyler Boyd and DJ Moore going in the same range as Ridley and Lockett, these two players would likely be closer to my highest-owned WRs than at a zero. I was just unwilling to pass on any of the top three in the fourth or fifth if available as I believe they possess a little more upside. 

Players I may have too many shares of:

Christian Kirk

I love Kirk and the only reason I say this is simply because I was so locked into him in the sixth to seventh round where he was an auto-draft for me in that position. Maybe taking a step back and looking at other options in this range (hello, Allen Robinson) could have put me in a safer position should Kirk get hurt or not capitalize on his upside. 

TE Position 

My goal every year when playing is to roster an elite TE as I believe it gives a huge edge each week if you’re able to build a good starting lineup around it. This year was no different as there was a clear top-three in Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz. Even though I felt comfortable rostering O.J. Howard, Hunter Henry and Evan Engram, I was extremely uncomfortable walking out of the first three rounds without a TE due to the uncertainty of when those players would be available to me. After that, TE was so gross to where I just didn’t want to put my stock into these type of assets who I don’t believe have elite TE upside. In only one of my 15 leagues did I not end up with a top-six TE on my team. 

Players I wish I owned more shares of:

O.J. Howard

This one hurts to only see one share of him this season as Howard is one of the players I am highest on entering the season. I truly believe if he stays healthy he will enter the “Elite TE’ group and have a monster season. Unfortunately, this was a tough year to draft as some of the best values all happened to be going in the same round. I was focused on players like Moore, Boyd and Godwin here and also had likely locked up a TE at this point which lead me to begrudgingly passing on Howard in most of my drafts.

Players I may have owned too many shares of:

Zach Ertz

Kittle was always my preferred target when available as I think he is going to have a huge season, but Ertz was the last line of defense here. To be clear, I am more than content with Ertz on my teams but if I could trade one share of Ertz away for another Kittle share, I would do that. I think there is a little more risk in Ertz as a 29 year-old who has tons of target competition in the whole offense as well as the same position. Think he’s very unlikely to reproduce similar target numbers than he did last year and still can be very good, but not quite as dominant as he was last year.

Summary

As you can see, I felt the most optimal approach to drafts this year was a hybrid of Zero RB, Elite TE, and Late Round QB strategies.  Overall, I’m very happy with the players I have acquired this season and think I’ve put my teams in a solid position to do well with relative health. Now is the fun part where we get to officially enjoy football and watch our favorite players and teams back in action.

Guru Nation Fantasy Football is an organization of four premier 16-man dynasty leagues. GNFF focuses on fantasy football content all year round and has members across the country competing for big money. The group consists of film grinders, statistical analysts and dynasty nerds who all love fantasy football! Follow us on Twitter @GNFF_Dynasty and on Instagram @gn_fantasyfootball

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