FANTASY PLAYS: After draft, weekly choices to make

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Your fantasy draft is over and now you're left with a bunch of players, waiting and wondering if they'll make good on your predictions.

But your path to a fantasy championship still isn't in their hands — it's now up to you to make a series of weekly decisions to put yourself in position to make the playoffs and go deeper toward a title.

According to CBS Sports, 60 percent of the teams that won a title last season in standard leagues kept about half the players from their original draft on their final roster. Almost nobody — only one in 100,000 — kept all 14 of their players.

And with daily leagues becoming rapidly more popular — Fanduel expects to grow to about 500,000 players this year and just closed a $70 million round of financing — it's likely that some of your opponents are getting more comfortable with common daily tactics like using spot starters and streaming positions like defense.

As fantasy gameplay gets more advanced, here are some issues you might want to start thinking about now — before Week 1 — to push for any edge you can find.



Daily leagues are far different than leagues that last a full season, but some similar strategies have emerged in both formats.

Like evaluating matchups and investing more heavily in reliable wide receivers or a tight end, said Dave Richard, a senior fantasy writer for CBS Sports.

"They'll have very little money left to spend at the other positions (in daily leagues)," said Richard, who is writing about daily fantasy strategy for the first time this season under a new media partnership between CBS and Fanduel. "It really depends on what running backs you find for cheap each week."

In a daily league, pairing Titans running back Shonn Greene with Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones might be more attractive for Week 1 than rolling with Chargers running back Ryan Mathews and New England receiver Julian Edelman for the same price, even though Greene's job is less secure in Tennessee.

Richard said some players in traditional fantasy leagues purposely waited to draft running backs this year in hopes of finding a gem among several backs in the middle and late rounds.

But despite the similar tactics, Richard said he's not sure daily leagues are leading players to take different approaches in season-long leagues, because of big differences in how the games are set up.

"The salaries that are assigned to each player play a huge role to whether a guy is startable in a weekly league," he said.



Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers' first start at Seattle is making a lot of fantasy owners squeamish.

Richard said a recent query on Twitter showed many fantasy players willing to start Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler instead, playing at home against Buffalo. Expert rankings for Week 1 compiled by FantasyPros shows fully one-third backing away from Rodgers and toward Cutler even though Rodgers is widely considered the better player.

Richard disagrees that Seattle is too daunting for Rodgers, that he's played well in tough games before.

"It's not like he's going to go and stink up the joint just because he's playing Seattle," he said.

The dilemmas play out more often among less elite players — running backs and wide receivers competing for a limited number of starting spots.

Matchups matter, but shouldn't drive you to gamble on clearly inferior players.



For some players, weekly matchups are an approach planned out from the start — a reason to wait until the last round to take a kicker and a defense.

Last season, all 32 teams in the NFL turned in at least two start-worthy defensive performances in 12-team leagues. Some players spent a middle pick on Seattle or San Francisco, but those who left things to the last round aren't necessarily giving up. Playing the Vegas odds, fading bad offensive teams like Oakland and Jacksonville or finding who emerges early in the season are all popular approaches (Las Vegas bookmakers are betting the New York Jets hold the Oakland Raiders to about 17 points this weekend).



It happens every year — a player with no fantasy relevance has a breakout game in Week 1, setting the market for free agent pickups across the fantasy world. Don't get too excited, Richard says.

"I'm always skeptical of the early season breakouts anyway," Richard said.

More appealing in daily fantasy tournaments that reward risk-taking, are keying in on players with talent who've underachieved early, Richard said.

In a season-long leagues, some early drops may yield a good opportunity.


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