An Expert’s Cheat Sheet to Dominating Yahoo! Fantasy Drafts

Sep 04, 2020
An Expert’s Cheat Sheet to Dominating Yahoo! Fantasy Drafts

I say this every year, but it is always worth repeating: There is no singular perfect draft strategy for fantasy football. Successfully navigating a fantasy football draft requires preparation, foresight, quick-thinking, and the ability to adjust on the fly. This article will focus on that first quality, preparation, as I have used our mighty 4for4 rankings and the ADP Bargains tool to help provide you some strategic angles for attacking drafts on Yahoo!.

Before I get into all of that though, I have two general strategy reminders:

  1. Know your league
  2. Know your scoring system

Rankings, analytics, and strategy are all well and good, but if you have a die-hard fan of a team in your league who is going to overdraft that team’s top players, that’s going to change the flow of the draft. Knowing your league mates and their draft-day tendencies can be just as important to drafting successfully as studying rankings and sleeper articles all offseason.

More Expert Cheat Sheets: ESPN | NFL | CBS

Yahoo! asks you to start one QB, two RBs, two WRs, one TE, one FLEX, one K, and one D/ST with a half-PPR scoring format. If this is your first league with half-PPR scoring, don’t fret, as it really doesn’t change the process as it impacts all positions equally. It is the scoring equivalent of drinking a half water, half coffee instead of a full coffee. You will get your caffeine, but one way takes longer for the effect to hit your system.

PRINT: Jump to 16-Round Cheat Sheet

Now that we have cleared that up, below you’ll find several strategy tips for Yahoo! drafts. Remember: these are not ironclad. These are ideas and strategies to keep in mind as your draft progress. By watching out for these players, trends, and opportunities, you should be able to acquire a title-contending 2020 squad.

Wait on a Quarterback … Unless Deshaun Watson Falls Past Pick 50.

For veteran fantasy football players, waiting on a quarterback has been the strategy for the last decade, at least. This strategy still holds true today, as it allows you to extract more value from your early-round selections, as quarterback production is more easily replaceable (in one-quarterback leagues) than running back or wide receiver production. However, there’s one exception I am willing to break the rule for in Yahoo! leagues, and that is Deshaun Watson.

Per Yahoo! ADP, Watson is currently going between the 50th and 60th picks in drafts. Here at 4for4, Watson is our 50th overall ranked player, so if/when he starts to fall beyond that 50 pick margin, I become increasingly interested. I discussed on an episode of The Most Accurate Podcast and in a player debate earlier this summer why I believe Watson has the potential this season to be the QB1 overall, but here are some highlights. Since Watson became the starter in Houston, he is the only quarterback to average 20-plus fantasy points per game each year. And he’s done this with relatively average statistical seasons (never thrown for more than 26 touchdowns or finished in the top-10 in passing yards).

Watson has been an elite fantasy passer without ever having a true breakout season. Given the deficiencies on Houston’s defense, and the additional weapons added to the offense to replace DeAndre Hopkins, Watson could easily stuff the stat sheet each and every week en route to a QB1 finish overall and he’s currently the sixth passer coming off the board in Yahoo! drafts. As long as he falls far enough, don’t feel bad about calling his name earlier than you might normally draft a quarterback.

Grab an Elite Tight End at the Right Cost … or Wait, Wait, Wait

I hardly ever grab an elite tight end early, but the ADPs for Yahoo! sync up pretty well with our top three tight ends at 4for4: Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews. After that, the disparities start to grow for where players like Darren Waller and Zach Ertz are being drafted. This is why if you miss out on one of the top-end guys at the right time in the draft (don’t reach for them, please!) the real value comes in waiting at the position. Players like Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert, and Blake Jarwin all have top-10, maybe even top-five upside at the position and are coming off the board past pick 120.

Gesicki showed promise last season and the team may be without Preston Williams for the first few weeks of the season if he lands on the PUP list. Williams led all rookie wide receivers in targets during the first several weeks of the season before tearing his ACL. I discussed Goedert and Jarwin at length in my CBS and ESPN sleeper articles, respectively, so hit those for more on why I think both are great late-round targets. The point is, if you can’t grab one of the big three tight ends, you could end up overpaying relative to the production you’ll receive, making it better to wait and draft a high-upside player and hope for the best.

Running Backs: Avoid Overreaching Early and Exploit Late-Round Values

We all know running backs are the lifeblood of fantasy football, but adhering too rigidly to a “get a running back early” mentality could cost you on draft day. Specifically at the turn of the first round and into the second round. Players like Nick Chubb, Josh Jacobs, and even Aaron Jones, while excellent, are often creeping into the first round despite concerns about their passing game involvement or touchdown/workload regression.

An elite wide receiver may be a better choice there, especially when you look farther down the ADP Bargain tool to see players like David Johnson and Cam Akers representing great mid-round values. And at the end of drafts, the ADP hasn’t swung to meet Antonio Gibson’s upside in Washington yet following the release of Derrius Guice, while Boston Scott is going absurdly late in drafts. Running backs are important, but don’t get caught chasing the position when there is value to be had throughout the draft board.

Wide Receivers: Ride The Early Elite-Wave and Then Draft Will Fuller (no matter what)

While there are some questionable running backs filling in the turn from Round 1 into Round 2, the wide receivers in that same area offer more tantalizing upside and safer floors. Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, and to a lesser extent, DeAndre Hopkins all fall into that area and represent safe picks with high upside (Hopkins, as I wrote about earlier this summer, is the only one who concerns me slightly in that area). You can find plenty of other great values late using the ADP Bargains Tool (as I did here when I highlighted three wide receivers in my Yahoo! ADP values piece), but I want to especially highlight Will Fuller for a minute here.

Fuller is one of my favorite breakout candidates this year. The Texans opened up over 34% of their team’s targeted air yards and 28% of the team’s targets when it traded Hopkins to the Cardinals. Fuller set career-highs last season with 49 catches and 670 yards, so I understand the reservations around him as he has struggled to stay healthy at the NFL level. But with a current 11th-round price tag in Yahoo!, Fuller is a league-winning wide receiver candidate with a bargain-basement price tag. And, if you pair him with Deshaun Watson as I mentioned above, then you’re cooking with gas, as Watson averaged more than 7.0 more fantasy points per game when Fuller started heading into 2019. The Texans vacated the No. 1 wide receiver position on their squad and Fuller is in line to fill that void. Don’t miss out on his upside given this massively depressed ADP.

The Bottom Line

These recommendations are not gospel. Use which ones you agree with or fit the way your draft is flowing. Or tweak these strategies to match your own philosophy. As your draft approaches, be sure to utilize 4for4’s Draft Analyzer tool. It uses your league’s scoring settings and 4for4’s rankings to help you strategize. For more information, check out Jennifer Eakins’ Draft Analyzer Walkthrough.

Lastly, this handy 16-round cheat sheet is compiled both by using 4for4’s ADP Bargains tool and my own general feelings on some players. Use it as much or little as you’d like. I put some player names into rounds to reflect where they should be taken, even if that round is ahead of the current ADP. For instance, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is worthy of a first-round pick, but his ADP doesn’t reflect that yet. So in order to actually acquire him and at relative value, you’ll need to (likely) take him in Round 1, which is where I included him in the chart.

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