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Just finished my weekly fantasy chat, and the hot topic naturally was draft strategy. Most players wanted to know what their strategy should be for the early rounds and if they should target wide receivers first.

With the dearth of stud wide receivers, it's a good move with picks later in the first round. I was more than happy to draft Randy Moss at No. 12 overall last week.

Most fantasy experts agree targeting a wide receiver early is sound strategy, especially with all the running back by committee backfields this season.

Another question many chatters had was where LaDainian Tomlinson should be slotted. The fantasy world is split on LT, and I'm not sure where I stand on him at the moment.

Right now he's in the top 10 according to many fantasy experts, so getting him in the second round would be good value.

By Gene Wang  |  August 28, 2009; 1:15 PM ET  | Category:  Fantasy Football Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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OK Gene, I am with you on the lack of WR talent this year but I can't really piece together your thoughts on Cutler. First, I think he's not in a better offensive situation there, and I'm frankly not expecting much from him, and second, would anyone really trade a top tier WR for such a big question mark?

Posted by: Matt | August 28, 2009 2:15 PM

Yeah, Matt's right about Cutler. Those WRs are mid-second round picks; no league in the world is drafting Cutler in the middle of the second round.

Posted by: Kurt | August 28, 2009 3:06 PM

Also, I wouldn't target positions at all for the first three rounds - just go best available player. The one mock I did had me starting RB-RB-RB, which I would never have set out to do but the talent that slipped (Slaton in the 2nd, Grant in the 3rd) was too good to pass up.

Posted by: Kurt | August 28, 2009 3:10 PM

Matt, thanks for your comment. As I was writing my most recent post on Brandon Marshall, I thought he might be a fair trade for Cutler. Former teammates traded for one another . . . only in fantasy.

Posted by: Gene Wang | August 28, 2009 5:05 PM

Gene, I feel you gave that Draft Strategy Guy far too much credit. His strategy is rigid, doesn't really account for the flow of the draft, and it can't be effectively adjusted for your own leagues scoring system. Because I'm stuck in the boonies with nothing but the internet to amuse me for now, I will attempt to describe what I feel is by far the best draft strategy. I hope it will be recognized for its merits, and though it may be initially confusing (or perhaps not) it is designed to be adjusted to the situation where it must be applied. The idea is that there is an overarching metric that will produce maximum value, but the specifics of said metric are severely influenced by your league format. Continued in next comment.

Posted by: Sir Twist | August 29, 2009 2:10 PM

Ranking players is important, but the error, especially for novices, is that the "best available player" strategy, as well as the "best available player at x position" have a major flaw. They do not account for the relative value of a player as compared to the person below him, or to players at other positions. It also does not account for position runs (ignoring position runs is a myth!) The key to the entire system is tiers.

Be realistic and honest with your tiers, but the general idea is that you you want to draft players of near empty tiers, thereby maximizing value. You do not want to be the first to begin a new tier if your roster can avoid it. So you create your tiers by position (yes, your tier can have only one or two players in it), and then you rank your tiers relative to each other. Then, you draft based on your rankings, but if someone becomes the last person available in their tier, their value rises comparative to the tiers around them. The top of the draft is not really that important with this strategy, because generally the top of the draft adheres directly to your straight ranking (ie, I put Tom Brady above Slaton, but if Slaton, and all the RBs above him are gone, then I draft Tom Brady.) But once you hit the meat of your draft, you are constantly maximizing value, because you are effectively responding to the other teams in your league. That is the goal, is that by focusing on emptying tiers whenever possible, you gain value comparatively to your competition, and that is ultimately the point, you want to beat your competition.

You must adjust your players and your tiers based upon scoring systems and roster rarity, this includes understanding what makes players valuable. QBs in a 2 QB league become more important then any other position (as I commented on your previous draft Gene), and WRs inch closer to the value of RBs in PPR leagues. But by creating tiers on your ranking sheet, and then focusing on finishing a tier as opposed to starting it, you are constantly giving yourself a hand up on the competition, as opposed to following a strategy based upon position or based on something you read on the internet but don't know how to properly apply.

I think that my wall of text is too long and dense already, but that is the general gist of it. There are tricks and values that help, but it requires more detail than would be valuable in this space. I hope this helps someone somewhere.

Posted by: Sir Twist | August 29, 2009 2:31 PM

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