1. Draft a QB Late
This is one of the most well-researched edges in fantasy football. Every year there are late round QBs who breakout and finish inside the top-5 at the position. Last year, as expected, that guy was Lamar Jackson. This season, my money is on Cam Newton to be the late-round league winner at the quarterback position. The best part about this strategy is, even if your late round QB is a bust, you will be able to find other good options for free on the waiver wire throughout the season.
2. Do not Draft a Kicker or Defense Until the Last 2 rounds
Do not waste any valuable draft picks on a defense that you will very likely drop in 1-2 weeks. 84% of defenses had at least one top-4 week in fantasy football last season. Year-to-year defensive production is also historically volatile and hard to predict. That is, even if you reach for a defense early in your draft there is a decent chance that defense ends up not being good. As for kickers, their production is best predicted by the quality of the offense that they are in. Streaming kickers and defense off the waiver wire based on weekly matchups and implied team totals is an optimal approach that limits opportunity cost in your draft and still maximizes upside.
3. Don’t Worry About Bye Weeks When Drafting
When it comes to the draft, don’t pick a worse player just because he has the same bye week as players you have already drafted. You want the best players on your team even if they will put you in a tough position for a single week. This is precisely why we do not show bye weeks in the WalterPicks app: we do not want our users considering bye weeks in their draft decisions. Just ask the guy in your league who passed on Lamar Jackson last season because he had the same bye week as his “starting” quarterback if he regrets his decision. Bye weeks are something for you to handle in the future, do not overthink them during the draft.
As someone who has been building fantasy projection models using machine learning for years now, I can confidently say that the single best predictor for fantasy football points is volume; and it is not particularly close. In fantasy football, it is better to have a mediocre player who gets 15 touches per game than it is to have an electric player who only averages 8 touches per game. There are of course exceptions to this rule. For example, Le’veon Bell averaged more touches per game than Austin Ekeler last season, but Ekeler far outperformed Bell.
More often than not, however, you should be targeting players based on volume. Not all volume is created equally, either. In PPR leagues, a target is nearly 3 times more valuable than a rushing attempt for running backs. It is critical to be drafting running backs with receiving potential.
5. Focus on Per Game Statistics From Last Season
It baffles me how many people still do not do this. Season total statistics can be extremely misleading because they do not account for how many games a player played. For example, Matthew Stafford threw the 2nd most passing yards per game and scored the 4th most fantasy points per game at the QB position last year. Yet, he finished 28th in total passing yards and 29th in total fantasy points scored because he missed half the season.
Fantasy Football is a weekly game, so it only makes sense to look at weekly stats. Focusing on weekly stats rather than season-totals could be the single biggest edge you gain over your league opponents. All statistics in the WalterPicks app are calculated on a per game basis.
P.S. Download the WalterPicks app for FREE on your iphone (coming to android soon) if you want to increase your odds of winning your fantasy league this season by leveraging Walter, an artificially intelligent algorithm with the best projections in the industry. We also have some exciting DFS and Player Prop tools coming soon!