Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Filling Out Your Bench: When To Play It Safe, And When To Gamble: Part 5 In My Fantasy Football Primer

I'm currently doing a slow draft in my Keeper Fantasy Football League.  A slow draft is usually done via text or email where each league member has a certain amount of time to make their selection, and everyone else in the league is notified at the same time who was picked.

It allows for a great deal of (over) analysis, but if you're a draft nut, this is the best kind of draft for you.  Because the draft itself can take a couple of weeks instead of a couple of hours, there is plenty of time to dig deep into player analysis.
One of the more difficult things to do as a fantasy league manager is to figure out what kind of depth you need on your team.  It can be difficult to know what to do.  These are my Four Keys to managing your bench during the draft:

1) Make sure to have at least one backup for your key skill positions: quarterback, running back, and wide receiver.  I actually prefer three running backs, as I'm of the draft strategy that running backs are the most vital position on your fantasy team.  I get one quarterback, and take the rest in wide receivers.

  • Value is important in selecting the players that fill your bench. If you want to take a flyer on a guy like CJ Spiller (who many have ranked far down the draft board), you could probably get him in a late round.  I have 4 spots on my starting roster that cover running backs/wide receivers.  The earlier I'd look at taking a flyer like Spiller would be the eight round, and only then if it seemed like other people were snatching up some lesser-thought-of running backs.
  • If I'm going to reach for a bench player in the draft above his expected draft slot, it would be at quarterback.  If I didn't have a QB on my bench, and my starter got hurt Week One, I wouldn't want to have to select a QB ranked 15-25.  I can always switch my backup QBs out later, but I want to have a quality QB on my bench in Week One, just in case.
  • If you've got space, go get the backup to that hotshot rookie running back, or the new guy that is now in a system known to be friendly to running backs.  For instance, if you grabbed Mike Tolbert last year before anyone else did, you did very well after Ryan Matthews got hurt early in the season.  Consider a team like Washington, who will definitely run more than they throw with Shanahan's system.  Last year a number of running backs rotated through the backfield in Washington (mostly because of injury).  
2) Do NOT WASTE YOUR BENCH during the draft on backups for tight end, team defense (including defensive player), or kicker.  

  • When your bye weeks come up during the season, you should be able to manage roster adjustments so that you can bring another defense or kicker, etc onto your team for that one week.  I also guarantee that there are more than 12 quality defensive players to select from around the league.  You will always be able to find good matchup opportunities at any week during the season at those positions.  Use those spots for your skill positions and trading out your starters during bye weeks.

3) Watch the Bye Weeks On Your Bench vs Starters

  • This should probably be the #1 thing to know.  Do not go out and grab a backup QB who has the same bye week as your starter.  The same rule applies for running backs and wide receivers.  If you ignore this particular rule, you will have to dump someone important for a bye week or simply not play a roster spot, and that's the kind of epic story that will be told by your league for years to come.
4) Don't Get Too Enamored With Any Of Your Bench Players 

  • Odds are that half of your bench won't contribute to your team in a meaningful way. Instead, if you don't hang onto your guys too tight, it allows you to make meaningful waiver/trade moves during the season that can make the difference between making and not making the playoffs.
Check Out The Rest Of My Fantasy Football Primer:

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