Fantasy football draft strategies come in many forms and there is always that one player who drafts a real-life NFL team’s whole offense, believing they can “outsmart” the rest of the league using players from one of the league’s hottest offenses from the previous season.
Often, this strategy falls on its face. Let’s take the Kansas City Chiefs, for example. Here, you got Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, both of whom you can draft in the first and third round. Tyreek Hill could be a second-round steal. Clyde Edwards-Helaire could have gone in the fourth prior to the season.
Then you had players like Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman, among others. And boom, your whole starting lineup comprises Chiefs. And while the strategy looks good on paper, it’s often anything but good.
This post tells you why you need diversity from several teams rather than one.
Ultimate Boom or Bust
You are banking on a lot of boom and little bust. So if teams who were hot the previous season via offensive stats like the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, and New Orleans Saints piqued your interest, your team is likely toast.
Ditto if you are reading this post while making early plans for your 2021 draft, when evaluating NFL teams like the Arizona Cardinals can give you plenty to look forward to next season or the Green Bay Packers.
Here’s what you are banking on: A repeat performance from the previous season, and this is rare. So rare, that the only smart team would have been the Chiefs while Dallas, New Orleans, and Baltimore have gone to the wayside.
Not that their offenses aren’t effective, sans Dallas. The Saints have been great on offense. Only Drew Brees and Michael Thomas have missed extended time. The Ravens are effective, but not the team they were in 2019.
And the same can go for teams like the Cardinals, even if at the time of this writing they are on the up and up. But what about Green Bay? Can Aaron Rodgers duplicate his 2020 production? And can Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard prove they’re more than one-hit wonders?
You are putting a lot on the line here, and if just one variable goes amiss, your team is in trouble.
Let’s say you took Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, Mark Ingram, Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown, and Gus Edwards in your draft in 2020. Jackson has proven he is nothing more than a gimmick considering his fantasy decline. Ingram is showing his age. Brown is a splash player.
And Andrews is ineffective unless Jackson is having a good game. And once again, the team had a gimmicky offense to begin with, which if you look at NFL history, gimmicky offenses don’t last in the league.
The Dreaded IR Label
Chances are, you will lose players regardless of who you draft. But if you drafted a bunch of Chiefs yet Mahomes goes down with a serious injury, now what?
If you diversified your draft and had only two players on the same NFL team that you had on your fantasy team, you’re in a much better position. Okay, Mahomes went down, meaning Kelce probably won’t have an effective season. Suppose you had both on your team.
So you put Mahomes on IR and trade Kelce for a viable player. Problem solved.
But if you had Jackson and Brown and Jackson’s out with an injury or illness, you can just replace them both. But it’s hard to replace an entire starting lineup with second-tier fantasy players. Replacing just two positions? Far easier.
Not only can losing an impact player on offense be an NFL betting nightmare; it will also sink your fantasy team if your entire starting lineup comprises players from the same team.
Your best bet is to resist the urge to draft any more than two players from the same team. And a lot of fantasy football owners aren’t even fans of that. You will see why in the next section.
Football Studs and Duds
When your entire roster comprises one team, the chances half of them won’t even fare well from a fantasy standpoint loom. Sure, there is always a chance your QB1 will have a bad outing. There is also a good chance your entire team will have a bad week.
But if you have nine starting spots to fill and each starter plays for a different real-life NFL team, the chances of half your team blowing the game grows slim. The fewer players you have playing for the same team, the better.
But if seven of your nine starters play for a single team, expect just one of your two backs to turn in a good fantasy performance. Maybe two pass catchers. The quarterbacks these days are often okay, but when evaluating quarterbacks, you only need one unless your league plays with a unique set of rules.
As the subheading says, you will have a lot of studs, but you will also suffer through just as many duds.
So if you got the seven Ravens on your starting roster and two Saints, you can expect three or four good outings from those Ravens, but also three or four bad outings. Perhaps Jackson, Dobbins, and Andrews have a good game. But Ingram, Duvernay, and Edwards score fewer than 5 fantasy points throughout the contest.
Want more fun?
Those players who don’t score often in fantasy could have helped their real-life NFL team win by playing decoy or picking up first downs when necessary. They helped their team win, but they didn’t help your team win.
So remember that if you make the mistake in picking players who play for one of the league’s hottest offenses, you will see some poor performances from a fantasy football point of view.
Lack of Impact Players
Finally, as high-powered as some of these offenses are, how many impact players do they truly have?
Let’s look at a few teams.
With a healthy Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys have Zeke Elliott, Amari Cooper, and CeeDee Lamb. That’s 4 players, and if you look at the stats, none of them put together a crazy amount of fantasy points in a single game. All at once, that is.
The Kansas City Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes, who seems to elevate everyone’s numbers. But other than Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, you’re looking at major contributors who turn in average fantasy production.
Then there are the New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees is one-dimensional. And other than Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, is anyone else on the offense worth a RB, WR, or TE1 spot? Maybe Jared Cook, if you play in large leagues.
So while you see a lot of high-impact offenses, the number of actual impact players remains small. And with the small number of impact players from a fantasy football standpoint, it’s just best if you buckle down and diversify your selections.
For example, neither Allen Lazard nor Marquez Valdes-Scantling are fantastic fantasy options. But it’s great to have one of those guys, knowing one of them will give you double-digit points in specific matchups.
You can even say the same for Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown trio. Mike Evans may rank high on fantasy draft boards, but in 65 percent of all fantasy contests he’s giving you fewer than 10 points.
Now, if you had Chris Godwin and Allen Lazard on your team, plus someone like Jarvis Landry as the WR3, you got a real-life WR1, WR2, and WR1 in your WR1, 2, and 3 positions on your fantasy team.
If you have Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, then you just put a WR1, WR2, and WR3 on your fantasy roster’s WR1, WR2, and WR3 positions.
And again, you could have had three impact players at each position if you buckled down and diversified your lineup. But rarely will all three receivers on the same team have a solid game. At least from a fantasy production standpoint.
It’s tempting to draft an entire roster of impact players. Especially if this can be done with careful fantasy football strategy. Something like Travis Kelce in the first round, Tyreek Hill in the second, and Patrick Mahomes in the third, and boom, it looks like you just won the league.
But if you kept going that route with Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the fourth and Sammy Watkins in the fifth, now you’re taking the stud or dud risk. And that’s not worth your time or money.
So instead, pick no more than two players from each NFL team to your starting fantasy lineup and leave it at that.
Have you ever used this specific fantasy draft strategy? Tell us in the comments.