14 man PPR strategy
Drafting in a 14-Man draft proves to be one of the most challenging draft types. It can be punishing and season ending if your number one draft pick doesn’t pan out, but the chances of you getting lost behind the crowd tends to be less if everyone’s skill level is equal. 14-person drafts typically show who has the most savvy. A skilled FF player will finish in the playoffs much more frequently than a less skilled player. To maintain a strong standing, I’ve devised a strategy known as the ‘core four’ strategy. The CF strategy involves using the first four picks of your draft to draft the best 4 skill position players available that do NOT include TE or QB. I know that a lot of people drool over the idea of having Aaron Rodgers on their fantasy team, but the volatility at QB as well as the value at later rounds makes this position one for the less skilled players in earlier rounds. Drafting, say, Tom Brady 7th overall would likely lead to a miserable fantasy season.
The core four strategy also depends on consistency. ‘Core’ means the nucleus of players you can depend on to score points week in and week out. When drafting a WR, using the core four strategy, think of the three T’s targets, touchdowns and team. A player such as Keenan Allen is a perfect core four player to try and acquire. He is on an excellent scoring offensive team, draws a ton of targets (which ideally lead to catches) and is targeted heavily in the red zone. The knock on Allen is that he has a pertinent injury history, but this is not necessarily something you can factor in. If this is something that you worry about you can target another highly-targeted player as well.
A player that seems to get drafted a lot in the early rounds that would NOT work well with the core four strategy would be T.Y. Hilton. Maybe this year Andrew Luck can resurrect his career, however, TY does not instill consistency. He is an extremely talented wide out and is a burner. He can line up in the X, Y or Z position and puts all DB’s on skates. His big knock is that he only runs two routes effectively. He is the epitome of a boom or bust player. Ideally you would like your core-four skill group to AVERAGE 5 catchees for 90 yds in a PPR league. This may seem like a little amount, but it leads into almost 60 points amongst 4 different players. This is before counting any touchdowns. If amongst your core four players you can average 0.5 TDs that leads to a total of 68 pts. If one of them has an extra ten yards, most leagues will award a 3 pt bonus for that yardage leading to a total of 72 points from just 4 players. Typically in a 14 man league, scoring above 120 pts will win you most games. This should be your baseline target each week. Assuming you are playing with 1QB, 2WR, 2RB, 1TE, 1FLEX, 1K, 1DEF, this means you will only need to score 48 more points with a QB, TE, Flex, K and DEF (assuming the DEF scores 8 points and the K scores 6 this leaves you with 34 points between a Flex, QB, and TE). This is all very attainable if you draft for CONSISTENCY and not boom or bust.
An example of a running back that observes consistency is David Johnson, Le’veon Bell and Todd Gurley. This RB’s catch the ball often and average greater than 4 targets per game. They also run the ball well, all averaging greater than 15 attempts per game. This gives them a very high floor and the higher the floor, the more consistent these players will be. A player that represents a boom or bust would be Legarrette Blount. He is a bruising back that only gets about 10-12 carries a game and does not catch a lot of passes. While he has HUGE upside because of the volume of goal line carries that he receives, this gives him a high ceiling but a rather low floor. Remember, in 14 man fantasy leagues we are shooting for a consistent 120 points, not MAYBE 140 that could result in 105.
Let’s take a look at a mock draft that I participated in with an unfavorable 13th pick in the draft:
My first four picks were in this order:
13 -Keenan Allen
16 – Leonard Fournette
41 – Amari Cooper
44 – LeSean McCoy
With a VERY late pick, I was able to target one of the most consistent WR in Keenan Allen. If he can stay healthy he should net 7+ targets a game. Leonard Fournette does not catch a ton of passes but receives 20+ touches a game in a run first offense. This gives him extremely valuable touchdown opportunities as well as a chance for a 100+yd rushing bonus in most leagues. Amari Cooper some would argue is a boom or bust player – unfortunately he fits all the metrics of being a good pick this year. He has high target values per game, he is targeted heavily in red zone situations and is on a team with a strong offense. LeSean McCoy is the best back in another run-first team that catches the ball early and often. He is the best player on the field in most games and is always a threat to score with the ball in his hands. With 15+ rush attempts per game and 5+ targets per game he is a steal in the fourth round.
When you observe the core four technique you then are able to draft the rest of the time with ease for need. In the 5th round I was able to draft Mark Ingram who, although serving a 4 game suspension, when he returns will be a top 8 back and a steal in the back of the 5th round. For those crying foul about a QB, I was able to snag Carson Wentz at the top of 6th round (even though i’m always happy to wait for Philip Rivers in the 10th round) with no problem. Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins were all available into the 7th round as well if I would have chosen to go with another skill position player as well.
The core four strategy, if anything, is at least a strategy to follow instead of going into your draft blind and ending up with 4 RB’s in a 14 man league! 14 players can be tough to navigate with a more than usual depletion of talent, but with the right goal in mind you can consistently make it to the playoffs!