If you’ve been reading fantasy football sites online in recent weeks, I’m sure you’ve come across plenty of draft strategies. I’ve read posts about RB-RB drafts, and WR-WR drafts – in each case you choose two of the same position in the first two rounds no matter what.
I’ve also read up on the triplets strategy – get a QB, RB and WR in the first three rounds. There’s the starting lineup strategy – fill out your starters first, right down to the kicker and defense, ensuring a strong starting corps at the cost of depth. And let’s not forget the best player available strategy – pick the best player regardless of need.
That sums up most of the standard draft strategies out there. Each is beautiful in a perfect world, but flawed in reality.
If you tell yourself to go WR-WR, but have a chance at Adrian Peterson, you’re foolish to follow your predetermined path.
Similarly, if the four sure-thing running backs are gone, I say pick an elite WR regardless of your RB-RB plan.
Finally, it has a name, the Ninja Attack Plan
I guess in some ways, I subscribe to a draft the best player available strategy, but with a twist. I’ve read about the zig-zag in other places, but I believe Chinstrap Ninjas have to be ready to avoid a zig, or zag very sharply depending on the situation.
Strike when your foes least expect it. That’s what Ninjas do. That’s how Ninjas win. Call it ep’s Ninja Attack Plan. The name’s a work in progress, but follow along anyway.
At it’s core, the strategy keeps you in charge the entire draft.
A perfect example of the Ninja Attack Plan played out during a deep 10-team marathon of a draft I participated in this weekend.
The Attack in practice
The first big strike came at the rounds 4-5 turn. Already having picked Adrian Peterson, Roddy White and Steve Smith in the first three rounds, I needed a second running back, a third wide receiver a flex player and a quarterback to round out the important parts of my starting lineup.
But instead of taking wide receiver from a quickly dwindling pool – everybody was worried about their three WR spots – I took Ronnie Brown and Brian Westbrook who were inexplicably available at 40 and 41. Conventional thinking would have had me picking RB-WR there.
Jump ahead to Round 8 where Matt Ryan was still available. He’s got the talent and weapons to climb the QB ladder this year. I already had Tony Romo, so picking another QB goes against virtually every strategy out there. But when my two TE targets – John Carlson and Owen Daniels – and two WR targets – Antonio Bryant and Donald Driver – were picked in the four picks directly ahead of me, I zagged hard right, choosing the last top-line QB on the board instead.
I knew that the next TEs I wanted had much less expensive average draft positions, so skip that. I also expect Felix Jones to significantly outperform his ADP this year, making him a better value than the overrated receivers that were left – guys like Devin Hester, Lance Moore, Laveraneus Coles and Jerricho Cotchery, so I again cut against the grain and went with an RB.
At some point, the talent corrects itself
In round 11, I finally caved and picked my WR 3, Derrick Mason. He’s old and boringly consistent. But he’s a steady starter, and that’s good when you’ve got a great, but inconsistent, Steve Smith lining up alongside him.
In round 12, Chris Henry and Josh Morgan – two more WR targets – were both picked ahead of me. Not to be thwarted, my picks were Visanthe Shiancoe and Rashard Mendenhall. Alas, Mendenhall was my seventh RB, putting me at the RB limit.
I still ended up with Patrick Crayton – he is Dallas’ No. 2 receiver, you can have your MIles Austin and your Sam Hurd – and Chaz Schilens – a recovering up and coming receiver on a team that’s going to have to throw the ball a lot – and Hakeem Nicks – a rookie who’s quickly proving he’s got a lot of talent and will demand some targets. Between those three receivers, Mason and whichever waiver wonder I pick up, I’ll be able to send a solid three out there every week and have strong depth at RB and QB.
Finally, a rule for all of us Ninjas
I could have reached for a Santana Moss or a Torry Holt a round early at different points, but then I would have been letting other owners dictate the draft to me.
I guess that’s it, if you want a rule, if you need a draft strategy, a way to sum up the Ninja Attack Plan, remember this:
Ninjas don’t get pushed around, they attack.
Never again say, “well he’s the only one left, I better get him.” Unless you really, really want that leftover table scrap of a tight end, zag and take your pick of talent from another position.
(Man, this part of my brain must have been waist deep in auction euphoria a few months ago when I blew a heap of salary cap on Marion Barber because he was the last one left.)
The comments are yours to fill with whatever you wish, but I wonder, what strategy do you employ on draft day?