Maybe We Should Snake Draft with an Auction Mindset

Halls Fantasy Draft

I had a standard sleeper setting 12 Team PPR Fantasy Football Snake Draft last night for a home league consisting of colleagues from the fine dining restaurant I currently work at. The level of familiarity ranged from first-timers to people just now starting to think of fantasy football, to me, who may or may not have spent all off-season researching stats and driving his girlfriend crazy listening to hours of different trusted fantasy football podcasts on a daily basis.   

I’ve always been excited for the fantasy football season but this year I took the deepest dive you can in fantasy football and accepted an invite into a couple of dynasty leagues. I’m locked in year-round now looking for any piece of news that might give me an advantage. I’m addicted. My girlfriend’s laugh when I tell her I’ve joined another league has gone from a vague concern for my ability to manage them all to genuine worry about how I’m going to be able to participate in life outside of fantasy football this season. 

I by no means believe myself to be an expert. I’m more of an over-obsessive millennial nerd looking for an escape from our harsh reality than a fantasy football guru. Nonetheless, I’m very familiar with pretty much all draftable players in fantasy football this season. The same can not be said for those I was drafting with. How much does that matter? I found myself asking this question many times throughout our draft. What was the percentage advantage I had when it came to picking the players most likely to have the best fantasy football seasons this year?

I was sitting pretty picking from the 2 spot and I expected your usual home league happenings. I couldn’t wait to take advantage of the values I would find because of the early QB, Def, and Kicker selections.

I planned on going Bully WR (4-5 back to back) and taking advantage of the later round values on RBs that my colleagues maybe wouldn’t be as privy to. I’ve been burned one too many times on early RB strategies recently so I have been going zero RB alot this year. I like a lot of the values I have been finding this year.

My Favorite Zero RB Targets this Year:

  • AJ Dillon
  • Devin Singletary
  • Rhamondre Stevenson
  • Dameon Pierce
  • Chase Edmonds
  • Kenneth Walker III

People are down on Kenneth Walker but I have a very strong feeling that he will be starting by week 4ish and running away with that job. Penny to me seems like a placeholder that they are waiting for Kenetth Walker to organically supplant. I know that uncertainty scares people but I think it’s sooner rather than later that he takes over (If Penny doesn’t get injured before that) and in a run-heavy offense he could be a league winner this year.

Deeper Options:

  • Nyheim Hines
  • Tyler Allgeier
  • Isiah Pacheco
  • Eno Benjamin
  • Kyren Williams
  • JD McKissick

There is already tons of hype on Hines and Pacheco out of training camp. Kyren Williams I think is a stash for later in the season but Akers and Henderson are always banged up and he will be the 1b if that happens. McKissick is the new James White and Tyler Allgeier might be the new starting running back for the Falcons if they end up moving Patterson back to WR like they have been talking about wanting to. 

When I got to the point where I knew AJ Dillon (the player I’m most bullish on this year) wasn’t going to come back to me, that’s when I would stop my onslaught of Wr picks and transition into my zero RB targets. 

As the draft started with the ritualistic selection of Jonathon Taylor I was put on the clock.

This is the part where I reveal my Zero RB strategy was actually a justification for me to take Cooper Kupp with the second pick. Horns Up baby, we’re going back to back this year and I’ll stop there. Passing on Mccaffery and Henry didn’t feel the best but I don’t like the injury risk in my first round pick and I think there is something to be said about how fun it is to root for your own team’s superstars on your fantasy team. This is coming from a Rams fan who watched his team go 2-14 or 8-8 for most of his life up until this point. Your team won’t always have a fantasy superstar so enjoy it while you can, if you can.

The draft continued to continue normally until Team 6 was placed on auto pick (More on them later) and Team 8 then used their first round selection on Josh Allen. Team 12 Also wanted to follow this strategy and solidify their QB position with their first round pick and took Matthew Stafford. Everyone knows taking a QB in the first round is a surefire sign that the person making the selection actually has a life and isn’t as obsessed with fantasy football as those of us who know the value that can be found in taking QBs later on in drafts. Matthew Stafford will be the MVP of the League as he leads the Rams to another ring so I can’t knock him too much for making the pick tho… Horns UP! Team 8 is the General Manager for our entire restaurant and Team 12 is an executive sous chef so I kept comments to myself for the sake of my employment and watched to see who would fall to me.

Team 12 and Team 8 Redeem themselves with their next picks in the second round. 

Team 8

  • 1st Round / Pick 8 – Josh Allen QB
  • 2nd Round / Pick 5 – Saquan Barkley RB

Team 12

  • 1st Round / Pick 12 – Matthew Stafford QB
  • 2nd Round / Pick 1 – Stefon Diggs WR

I would never take a QB in the first round myself or advise anyone else to but Josh Allen very easily could be the QB 1 and honestly I’m all aboard the Saquan hype train and wish he would have fallen to me. I think he is determined to prove the doubters wrong with a huge year and the stars might be aligning for him to do so. Danny Dimes also has something to prove in his contract year and is surrounded by great weapons and finally being coached by a competent staff. I think he will get RB 1 volume and opportunity and with his talent. I expect big things. So Team 8 Potentially has the RB 1 and QB 1 after two rounds, should we be mad about that? 

Team 12 obviously made a huge reach grabbing Stafford but Stafford ended as a top 6 QB last year. His 41 Tds last year was second in the league and they upgraded from Robert Woods to former perceived to be surefire superstar Allen Robinson. Call me crazy but I could see him doing even better in his second season with the Rams and could crack the top 5 leaving Team 12 in a relatively good situation as well now that he’s grabbed the aforementioned QB 1’s favorite target in Stefon Diggs who himself has WR1 Potential. 

Personally, I think the most important thing to do with your first round pick is to not fuck it up. Having the player you choose bomb statistically or get injured is often the ruin for many championship dreams. These unorthodox picks got me thinking about how maybe taking a QB in round 1 can offer some interesting safety/floor for your team!? QBs rarely get hurt and having a clear positional advantage is always a good thing. Plus this now leaves them open to make an additional skill position pick or two in those middle rounds where most league winners are found while others are taking the QB they felt they needed to wait to take because of “value.” As these thoughts swirled in my head I found myself thoroughly interested in how the rest of their rosters would fill out. 

The auto pick team at spot 6 doubled up at Wr 

Team 6

  • 1st Round / Pick 6: Justin Jefferson WR
  • 2nd Round / Pick 7: Tyreek Hill WR

Obviously, there is alot to love about Justin Jefferson but Tyreek Hill is a GREAT WR2. That Miami offense this year is very interesting to me. A lot of people hate on Tua but with the new coaching that’s in Miami, I think Hill and Waddle are going to be extremely fun to watch this year. Tua has the arm to make the 50-yard (if not 60-yard) throws and will be extremely accurate in the short to intermediate parts of the field. Mike McDaniels is going to build around that. With an exciting backfield and proven TE in Gesicki, the Miami Dolphins might be really explosive this year.

Mark Andrews, Mike Evans, and Aaron Jones go before I get the vaunted home league value from those early-round QB picks

*Que Maniacal Laughter*

I happily sidestepped my original plan and selected D’Andre Swift in the back end of the second round with the 11th pick of that round (23rd Overall). I wanted to go Bully WR but with the turn coming up allowing me to pick from a slew of valuable WR, I had to grab Swift. Am I drunk because of Hard Knocks? Maybe a little but I think Swift could be a monster in fantasy if he stays healthy and stays involved in the passing game as he was early on last year. I think he has top 5 RB upside in PPR and a very nice RB 1 floor for my team that was going to be now going for a modified Hero RB strategy. 

I resumed the heavy WR push with AJ Brown on the turn. AJ Brown has made a name for himself as an elite NFL wide receiver and fantasy superstar in an offense that struggles to crack the top 25 in the NFL in means of passing yards per game the past few years. Despite how it looks on paper It’s a different situation in Philly. They were extremely run-heavy last year but not because they have an all-star running back they can afford to not give touches to. I think the Eagles were running so much out of necessity. That game plan gave them the best chance to win. Devonta Smith looks like a great player but I don’t think he can be atop the depth chart of a wide receiver core and expect that team to light it up through the air, but he’s a perfect complement WR. Which in my opinion is exactly why they traded for AJ Brown. Quez Watkins is an absolute burner too so I’m excited to see all three on the field. I think Jalen Hurts solidifies himself as the franchise QB for the Eagles this year.

Team 6, 8, and 12 continued to peak my interest as I waited for my next turn.

Team 6 (Auto Pick)

  • 1st Round / Pick 6 – Justin Jefferson WR
  • 2nd Round / Pick 7 –  Tyreek Hill WR
  • 3rd Round / Pick 6 – Javonte Williams RB
  • 4th Round / Pick 7 – David Montgomery RB

Team 6 Has a very balanced team by Round 4. Two high-end WRs in Jefferson and Hill followed by a high upside RB in Javonte Williams and a high-floor RB in David Montogmery. Autopick not doing a bad job so far. 

Team 8 

  • 1st Round / Pick 8 – Josh Allen QB
  • 2nd Round / Pick 5 – Saquan Barkley RB
  • 3rd Round / Pick 8 – Keenan Allen WR
  • 4th Round / Pick 5 – Kyle Pitts TE

Team 8 by round 4 potentially has the QB 1, the RB 1, and the TE 1 on their roster. That is completely within the realm of possibilities for Allen, Barkley, and Pitts respectively. Adding a high floor consistent target hog in Keenan Allen in that mix could hold up well. I personally believe Mike Williams eclipses, Allen, this year but I think Allen doesn’t slip far and will remain with WR 2 value. With QB and TE out of the way, Team 8 can use rounds 5 onwards to build WR and RB depth and take a lot of shots at potential league winners. 

Team 12

  • 1st Round / Pick 12 – Matthew Stafford QB
  • 2nd Round / Pick 1 – Stefon Diggs WR
  • 3rd Round / Pick 12 – James Conner RB
  • 4th Round / Pick 1 – Terry McLaurin WR

Team 12 Has secured two great WR options as well as a potential touchdown monster in James Conner. Arizona running backs score touchdowns under Kliff Kingsbury we have seen it year after year with seemingly a new running back each time. On that note, I have invested considerably in Eno Benjamin this year among dynasty and redraft leagues alike. If Conner can stay healthy he might rock out as a top 12-15 RB but I think Eno carves out a role in this offense either through injury opportunity or simply as a compliment to Conner. Benjamin is someone you can get super late in drafts and is the clear direct potential workhorse backup to Connor.

Back to My Team

Michael Pittman and Courtland Sutton were two Wr I wish returned to me but didn’t. I was happy to take Mike Williams who was third on my list under Pittman and Sutton. Like I said earlier I think Williams takes over as the WR1 for the Chargers this year. His route tree and involvement in the offense were expanded, he’s got a great young QB, and the dudes huge. A whole lot to love about Mike Williams this year. Especially as a WR 3. 

In the middle of my adapted Hero RB / Bully WR strategy I had going on, I found an opportunity to play a little home league mind games on this pick. There had been a QB taken each round up to this point, including two in the first round, so I could feel the steam bubbling up. I had 3 stud receivers (and a Hero RB in Swift) but we have two flex spots, so I really wanted a fourth stud WR. To secure that fourth wide receiver I decided to select Lamar Jackson. Not only do I think he has QB 1 potential but I was hoping to set off a chain reaction of QBs off the board and was able to scare the next three people into taking QBs and watched two more go before my pick returned to me. 

Unfortunately, Allen Robinson nor Jaylen Waddle made it back to me but understandably so. Coming from a Rams fan, McVay has a habit of intentionally getting new people involved. He’s a great coach who understands that part of the game and he will do wonders for Allen Robinson. Having him as a WR4 or even 3 this year I think is an amazing choice. 

The guy after me had two picks in a row before my next pick and he needed an RB so even though I was sweating to grab Amon-Ra St. Brown I chose AJ Dillon instead because I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to get him as an RB 2. I don’t know If he is going to have a HUGE year but I think he is a lock to be a top 20 RB and upside for bigger weeks based on goal line usage and touchdowns.So in other words Perfect for any RB 2 spot. My instincts were right as the next team chose Gibson and then…. The Bills Defense. God I love home leagues. So I was able to snag St. Brown and fill out the main part of my roster.

My Team So Far

  • QB: Lamar Jackson
  • RB: D’Andre Swift
  • RB: AJ Dillon
  • WR: Cooper Kupp
  • WR: AJ Brown
  • TE: (What will later be Pat Freiermuth in the 11th Round)
  • Flex: Mike Williams
  • Flex: Amon-Ra St. Brown

Update on how those two rounds went for our Round 1 QB stars Team 8 and Team 12

Team 8 

  • 1st Round / Pick 8 – Josh Allen QB
  • 2nd Round / Pick 5 – Saquan Barkley RB
  • 3rd Round / Pick 8 – Keenan Allen WR
  • 4th Round / Pick 5 – Kyle Pitts TE
  • 5th Round / Pick 8 – Allen Robinson WR
  • 6th Round / Pick 5 – Gabe Davis WR 

Team 8 was the reason I didn’t get Allen Robinson. He also took Gabe Davis. Two amazing high upside picks that give respite to the floor Keenan Allen pick. At this point, even though Team 8 took a QB with the eighth pick in the draft our teams are looking very similar. He also has gone with the Hero RB strategy and the only difference is he has an Elite TE!?! 

Team 12

  • 1st Round / Pick 12 – Matthew Stafford QB
  • 2nd Round / Pick 1 – Stefon Diggs WR
  • 3rd Round / Pick 12 – James Conner RB
  • 4th Round / Pick 1 – Terry McLaurin WR
  • 5th Round / Pick 12 – Cam Akers RB
  • 6th Round / Pick 1 – Rhamondre Stevenson RB

Team 12 managed to continue balancing out his team. Two great starting WR and three solid RBs with upside. I particularly like the Stevenson pick. I think Akers ceiling this year is RB 2 so I like doubling up with Stevenson, who has more upside, to protect against the uncertainty of Akers usage. I know Stevenson is in a similar ambiguous volume boat but I think Belicheck just isn’t one to give much insight on his game plan, much less before the season starts, but it’s clear who the most talented back in New England is.

For two teams that took QBs in the first round of the draft, they were left in surprisingly good positions to build a decent squad. Maybe all the news and perspective we gather from our podcasts, our Twitter accounts, and our research ultimately give us nothing but a small edge when it comes to drafting. Maybe the only advantage you gain when it comes to drafting is that feeling in your stomach. That feeling that has you believing you can see the future. I see AJ Dillon getting more rushing attempts, yards, and touchdowns than Aaron Jones in 4k on the fantasy football TV in my head. I rarely leave a draft without him. I can’t betray that feeling of “value.” Sometimes I get a good value on AJ Dillon, sometimes I take him a round early if I have to based on how the draft has gone. ADP means literally nothing once the season starts. Get your guys. Be like Team 8 and Team 12. Maybe don’t take a QB first but with all things considered even with that decision, they both were still in a good position to build good squads.

Team 8 took three QBs (Allen, Carr, and Ryan) and a gag last pick with Tim Tebow that he has since dropped and replaced on waiver along with alot of his bench. 

Team 12 didn’t take his kicker, defense, or backup QB until the end which made me proud. Overall his squad ended up balanced but with players, I’m not generally super excited about.

The point is they didn’t ruin their chances to have a Championship-winning roster by taking their QBs first so let’s translate that to a more reasonable approach.

Don’t be afraid to take your guys in the first and second rounds. If you have that feeling in your stomach about CeeDee Lamb don’t take Ja’Marr Chase just because he’s the best-perceived value at 7. Be Bold! Tee Higgins genuinely might outscore Chase in fantasy this year and if that’s in the realm of outcomes how much could CeeDee outscore him by!? If you know CeeDee isn’t coming back to you, go with your gut. Don’t let the draft board tell you how to build your team. You know what guys you’re excited about. Take them. 

My Final Team

  • QB: Lamar Jackson
  • RB: D’Andre Swift
  • RB: AJ Dillon
  • WR: Cooper Kupp
  • WR: AJ Brown
  • TE: Pat Freiermuth
  • Flex: Mike Williams
  • Flex: Amon-Ra St. Brown
  • Bench: Elijah Moore
  • Bench: Devin Singletary
  • Bench: Trey Lance (Home League Trade Bait)
  • Bench: Kadarius Toney
  • Bench: Nyheim Hines

Final Thoughts

I love the potential of my starters all being high-volume players and finishers at their positions plus I was able to fill my bench with a lot of the deeper options I love. With such a small bench I don’t normally advocate for taking a backup QB but I think once the season starts I’ll be able to flip Lance for something huge in a trade, so I plan on moving him as soon as his value skyrockets.

I think what I learned from this home league draft is that we can look at snake drafting from a different perspective. In auction drafts, you often end up with a team that would make no sense ADP-wise in a snake draft. You’re able to truly go after your guys. Some teams will elect to miss out on the traditional first round (sometimes even second round) players altogether and still build teams that compete and win Championships.

So remember this year that Fantasy Football is still a game and is as much a lottery as it is skill based. Have fun with that aspect. Go into your snake drafts with an auction mindset and get your guys because after the draft that ADP doesn’t matter. Only who you’re starting and going to war with on opening kickoff. Good luck and have fun this season

Sincerely,

NeelyWrites

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