Drafting From Slot #12

Sandi EdmondsContributor IJuly 27, 2010

In each 12-team league, someone has to draft out of the 12th spot.  Does this mean you finish last in your league??  Not by far – it just means you have to be a little more “crafty” in choosing your picks.  And rather than seeing it as the “last” pick, remember that philosophy only applies on odd rounds…… position #12 in a serpentine draft is the #1 pick on even rounds!!!  And who wouldn’t rather have 2 of the first 13 draft picks than picking #1 and then waiting 23 more slots before picking another player? 

So if you have the “luxury” of picking #1 in your draft this year -- that is, in the even rounds (slot #12!!!!) – then this article might be of interest to you.  Some leagues have a unique option, however –  after randomly drawing numbers to determine draft position several weeks before the actual draft, owners are allowed to trade draft picks up until the day of the draft.  Actually, trading is often allowed up to the last round of the draft.  This dynamic throws an interesting spin on draft day philosophies, and on the 4-6 weeks that precede it.   It is not uncommon to have up to 100 changes in the trading blocks.

So the dilemmas are many:  Do you trade up to get out of the #12 spot in the 1st round?  Do you focus on the middle rounds?  Do you stay put and make the best of the situation?  Even if you are offered the #1 overall slot, you would have to give up several early round picks (i.e. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks -- #13, #36, and #37.  If it were me, I would politely decline and remain steadfast in my plan to stay at #12 throughout the draft.  Why?  Let me share the reasons: 

  • With the RBBC being used by so many teams, finding a clear-cut top tier RB to take in the early picks is getting harder and harder.
  • One wrong turn can land a top pick injured for several weeks, out for the season, or hobbled (yes – I know this from experience).
  • If your league scoring system gives you -1 point for each fumble, you have to consider whether Adrian Peterson or other fumble-happy RBs are worth the gamble.
  • In a league that gives only 3 or 4 points for QB passing touchdowns, the focus remains on RBs and top QBs tend to fall down the draft board so you can get a great starter at the #12 position.

Keys to a successful draft from the bottom slot include:

1.       Know your league’s rules for starters and scoring system.  – As stated above, 3 or 4 points for a passing TD is a big factor to consider when determining how much value to place on a QB and when to draft that position.  Obviously, QBs who score 6 points for passing TDs should draft higher, so you have to take your league’s scoring system into account when you draft – even more so when you are in the #12 slot.  You have to make good decisions and get the best talent available at that time.  Also, negative point(s) for fumbles should be a consideration when drafting ALL offensive positions.  You have to know if your QB gets sacked a lot, or if the offensive line is going to allow the RB to get hit in the backfield, or if your WR/TE forgets to put the ball away before running up field.  Some leagues require a TE while others combine the WR/TE position, so you have to draft accordingly.  Kicker scoring can win or lose games, so you need to know if FG scoring is higher with long range goals or if points are deducted for a missed PAT.  Some defensive scoring systems are basic while others involve elaborate points schemes or IDP values.  The bottom line:  know your scoring system and use it to your advantage on draft day to make intelligent picks that will work for you within the confines of your scoring rules and guidelines.

2.       Know player values. – Some owners base their draft choices solely on ADP.  There has been a great deal of controversy over this theory in recent years.  If you can tailor ADP to fit the rules and scoring scenario used by your league, it can be quite effective.  Keep in mind that ADP can vary from day-to-day, publication-to-publication, and site-to-site.  A good ADP will use information from hundreds of drafts, not just a few.  And due to the variation in averages, it will take into consideration the standard deviation.  (Don’t worry about statistical terminology or figuring these numbers yourself when they are available elsewhere.)  If you plan to base your draft choices on ADP, find one that is:  1) current; 2) relevant to your league; and 3) well researched.

3.       Identify a best pick each round. – Look ahead to determine what players will be left in the pool when it is your turn to pick in the 1st, 2nd, and all subsequent rounds.  And most importantly, BE REALISTIC!!!!   We’d all like to think that we could get a team full of stars regardless of where we draft, but it’s just not gonna happen!  Based on a reputable ADP and/or mock drafts, you should be able to determine what choices you may be faced with on draft day.  There is no worse feeling that being on the block and feeling a sense of panic because everyone you wanted is already on someone else’s roster.  Do your research before the draft, and have a plan to follow when your neck is on the line.

4.       Avoid picking favorites (and don’t avoid good players that you don’t like).  – If you’re one of those owners who tends to have the same player on their roster each year, then you need to take a look at what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.  If that player is a star and scores points year in and year out, then keep doing what works.  But if the player was once a star and has now dropped in the depth chart, see if there is a better pick out there.  On the other hand, if you despise a player for some reason – he looks like someone you hate or because he beat you in last year’s title game, that doesn’t mean you should ban him from your roster this year.  It’s hard to keep your heart out of the draft, but it’s necessary if your goal is to win a championship title. 

5.       Monitor bye weeks.  Keep a list of bye weeks for players drafted.  Before you make your next choice, make sure a player in the same position does not share the same bye week unless it is more than halfway through the season or unless you plan on trading sooner.

6.       Know the trends of your fellow owners. – As you implement all the aforementioned ideas into your draft plan, keep in mind who you’re competing against.  If someone drafts Peyton Manning in the 1st round each year, then don’t waste a lot of time contemplating whether Manning will be there at pick #12.  If your league scoring weighs heavily on RB contributions and fellow owners draft accordingly, you can guarantee that the top 8-10 RBs will be off the board before you get a chance to pick.  Consider whether a top QB or WR could strengthen your team more than a second-tier RB.  Or if you know an owner will take a RB that gets a lot of yardage but stands on the sidelines during scoring situations, look at the scoring back in the RBBC situation.  If a fellow owner just HAS to have Larry Fitzgerald (or a similar caliber player) in his/her lineup each year, they may take a chance that he will be available in the 2nd round.  If so, draft him at #12 (or #13) and make a trade for someone who fits your lineup better.  Know your fellow owners and try to be one step ahead of them all the time --- take what they want and make them pay to get it from you!

Here are players that may be available to target in each round (based on a roster of 2 QB, 4 RB, 5 WR/TE, 2 K, 2 Def):

1.12 --  QB:  Assuming Brees and Rodgers are off the block, P. Manning and Romo are available

                RB:  Top 8-10 RBs will be gone  – R. Grant, P. Thomas, or C. Wells should be there

                WR:  A. Johnson will be gone – L. Fitzgerald, R. Moss, or M. Austin are options

                TE, K, Def:  Should not be considered at this point

                Best Value:  QB Peyton Manning

2.1 --      Since no one else has chosen a player, you get to choose from the same player pool

                Best Value:  WR Larry Fitzgerald

3.12 --   QB:  Too early to look for a backup QB

                RB:  P. Thomas, J. Stewart, F. Jones, R. Brown,

                WR/TE:  G. Jennings, C. Ochocinco, S. Smith (NYG), TE A. Gates

                K, Def:  Should not be considered at this point

                Best Value:  RB Pierre Thomas

4.1 --      Since no one else has chosen a player, you get to choose from the same player pool

                Best Value:  RB Jonathan Stewart

5.12 --   QB:  Too early to look for a backup QB

                RB:  R. Williams, R. Bush, A. Bradshaw, F. Jackson

                WR/TE:  H. Ward, J. Maclin, M. Wallace, TE J. Witten

                K, Def:  Should not be considered at this point

                Best Value:  RB Ricky Williams 

6.1 --      Since no one else has chosen a player, you get to choose from the same player pool

                Best Value:  WR Hines Ward

7.12 --   QB:  K. Kolb, D. McNabb, M. Stafford, D. McNabb

                RB:  F. Jackson, M. Bush, L. Maroney, D. Sproles, T. Hightower

                WR/TE:  M. Wallace, S. Moss, L. Evans, M. Floyd

                K, Def:  Should not be considered at this point

                Best Value:  WR Mike Wallace

8.1 --      Since no one else has chosen a player, you get to choose from the same player pool

                Best Value:  QB Kevin Kolb

9.12 --   QB:  not needed

                RB:  D. Sproles, L. Maroney, T. Hightower, C. Taylor

                WR/TE:  L. Evans, J. Gaffney, D. Hester

                K, Def:  Should not be considered at this point

                Best Value:  WR Lee Evans

10.1 --   Since no one else has chosen a player, you get to choose from the same player pool

                Best Value:  RB Darren Sproles

11.12 -- QB/RB:  not needed

                WR/TE:  J. Gaffney, TE H. Miller, TE Z. Miller, A. Bryant

                K:  M. Crosby, N. Kaeding, S. Gostkowski

                Def:  Baltimore, San Francisco, Miami

                Best Value:  WR Jabar Gaffney

12.1 --   Since no one else has chosen a player, you get to choose from the same player pool

                Best Value:  Def Baltimore Ravens

13.12 -- QB/RB/WR/TE:  Not needed

                K:  N. Folk, L. Tynes, S. Graham, D. Buehler

                Def:  Tennessee, Arizona, Carolina, New England, Indianapolis

                Best Value:  K Nick Folk

14.1 -- Since no one else has chosen a player, you get to choose from the same player pool

                Best Value:  K Lawrence Tynes

15.12 -- Def:  Detroit, Atlanta, Buffalo, Seattle, Cleveland

                Best Value:  Def Detroit Lions

The following summarizes the final roster for Position #12:

QB:  Peyton Manning; Kevin Kolb

*RB:  Pierre Thomas; Jonathan Stewart; Ricky Williams; Darren Sproles

*WR:  Larry Fitzgerald; Hines Ward**; Mike Wallace**; Lee Evans; Jabar Gaffney

K:  Nick Folk; Lawrence Tynes

Def:  Baltimore;  Detroit

*Even though 2 RB and 2 WR share the same bye week, the other players on the roster can fill in.

**Having 2 WRs from the same team is a concern, especially without their star QB for the first 6 games, but both players represented the best value at the time.  You merely seek an owner who made the mistake of having too many players on the same bye week or someone with low WR rankings and you make a trade offer.  Or you wait until someone sustains a WR injury (we all know it will happen), and you “sacrifice” one of your players to “help” them out.  This epitomizes efficiency in the draft, making the most of your opportunities, and then showing some patience to get more at a later time.

Following this format has produced the strongest lineup, and the strongest QB pair in a mock draft for a 12-team league.  So don’t let anyone tell you that drafting from the #12 position will guarantee a last place finish – study the material, make a plan, stick with the plan, and be patient.  The title could be yours this year!


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