I have a quick and simple way to evaluate my draft before I even leave the war room. At each position, I want to see that I have more than my fair share of the top players. For example, in a ten team league you shouldn't have more than 3 of the top 30 players in any position, but I want four or five of those guys. And yet it's surprising easy to do.
In my auction league (8 teams), I drafted 3 of the top 6 tight ends, 2 of the top 6 kickers, 7 of the top 21 wide receivers, 4 of the top 17 quarterbacks, and 6 of the top 27 running backs. I had between half and a quarter of all the top talent, position by position, when I should have only had one-eighth. How do you do this?
For any kind of draft it come down to how you evaluate the players pre-draft.
- Avoid backups. Only a fraction of backups are able to step in and reproduce the numbers of the first-string guy. So load up on first-stringers from other teams to be your backups.
- Know your number one receivers. In 2006, the worst passing team (Atlanta) was ignored while the best passing team (New Orleans) had its roster picked clean. But Atlanta's top receiver had more receiving yards than all but one Saint and would have been tied for most receiving touchdowns in the Big Easy. Even on a bad team, the one top receiver is still worth something.
- Avoid committees. Rarely is it worthwhile to have a running back that must share the wealth. A true committee usually just devalues everyone involved.
- Avoid the hype. Running backs usually have short productive careers–accept it. Quality rookie WRs don't happen every year–predictable ones come around every three or four years. The top 20 QBs will all average between 200 and 275 yards per game–less than a four point spread. Which leads to my final note:
- Understand value. In my auction draft I avoided the top one or two players at each position. These guys were overvalued and I could get the third-ranked guy who'll produce about the same numbers for a fraction of the price. In a traditional draft I wait for quarterbacks. Good quarterbacks that produce 80% of Peyton Manning's numbers are still available when the running backs are long gone. Basic supply and demand is a significant concept understanding how to draft your team.