You were told to only draft Defenses and Kickers in the last two rounds. Here's an alternative.
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Defenses and Kickers in Fantasy Football - You're Drafting Them Wrong but Its Not Your Fault
Despite the universal advice to wait until the last two rounds of your fantasy football draft to select your Defense and Kicker, there is a major flaw with that logic.
First, let’s admit the standard advice about Defenses and Kickers is actually pretty good. Every other Fantasy Draft Expert will tell you why, and generally they’re not wrong.
So what's the major flaw with their advice?
Multiple managers in your league aren’t going to listen to it!
If you hold out until the final two rounds, while a few of your league mates jump early, you’re going to risk scraping the bottom of the barrel.
With Defenses and Kickers, sometimes there are good ones at the bottom of the barrel, and maybe that’s okay. But sometimes you’re losing close games for weeks in a row because your Defense got blasted and your garbage Kicker only hit XPs.
Your goal with this draft strategy is to make sure you end up with a top-tier Kicker, and either a top-tier Defense or a streaming Defense you can live with for two of the first three weeks.
Step-by-Step Guide to drafting Defenses and Kickers the Right Way.
Before Your Draft Starts
1 – Sort your Defenses and Kickers into tiers. There are usually five Defenses in the top tier and about seven top-tier Kickers.
2 – Different from traditional advice, aim for the last four draft picks to be used in the order of Flex, Kicker, Defense, Flex.
In the Draft Room
3 – This plan works best if you have a long gap between your Kicker and Defense picks. By drafting your Kicker before your Defense, you usually start a run on Kickers. As more players also draft Kickers, fewer players are then drafting Defenses before you get the chance.
4 – Conversely, if you have a short gap between your Kicker and Defense picks, draft a Defense before your Kicker. Since most players won’t draft both a Defense and a Kicker on the short turn of the snake, there’s only a minimal chance that the remaining top-tier Kickers all get taken before your next pick.
5 – Know your Defense options if you hold one all season, and your options for streaming. Adjust your late round draft strategy accordingly. If you miss out on your top-tier Defense options, switch to your streaming plan. You can usually pick up a streaming Defense one or two rounds later in the draft! If you planned to stream but a top-tier Defense is available for you, draft that Defense hold them for a bit.
After the Draft
6 – Once the draft is done, don’t make changes until after Week 3. If you drafted a streaming Defense, keep streaming. If you drafted a Defense to hold, keep holding. Don’t drop your Kicker unless he gets injured.
7 – Going into Week 4 you will start to have enough scoring data to know if your plan is a good one or if you need to adjust. This applies to both Defenses and Kickers, but it affects Kickers far more often. Most fantasy players will stick with their Kicker all season without thinking twice about it. They will regularly ignore a Kicker who was good last season but is now having a down year, and every year there’s a Kicker having a great season who flies under the radar because no one knows his name.
7a – Don't look at weekly points projections for Kickers. Even the best experts have no idea what might happen, plus their decent opinions are diluted in the aggregate rankings by the other “experts” who don’t pay any attention to Kicker points.
7b – The best metric to use for evaluating Kickers is Average Points over the last four games. Although Kickers get a reputation for being streaky, it is often their team’s offense who is performing differently and is leading to better or worse scoring opportunities for the Kicker.
8 – If you’re streaming defenses and it looks like you have no good options, look at the Vegas betting lines for that week. Roughly 50% of the time, regardless of team record or quality of opponent, the games with the lowest projected points totals produce a fantasy Defense that is worth starting. Given the option, the home team is usually the slightly better statistical choice.
8a – Admittedly, 50/50 odds are pretty bad when it comes to finding a decent streaming Defense. But throughout the history of fantasy football Defenses, there is no better data point or collection of statics. A 50% chance is as good as it gets!
During the Season
9 – Every week or two, reevaluate Average Points of the last four games for free agent Kickers and compare them to your own. Don’t be afraid to swap Kickers if it looks like yours is on the decline, if it seems like a free agent Kicker is getting hot, or if you’re coming up on a bye week and can make a similar-value free agent swap.
10 – Speaking of which, watch for upcoming bye weeks. This applies to your roster as much as it does for Defenses and Kickers who may hit the waiver wire.
The other managers in your league are either listening to the standard advice of waiting until the last two rounds, or they’re crazy and will take a Defense and Kicker way too early.
Using this strategy and finishing your draft Flex, Kicker, Defense, Flex, gives you the best chance to land both a top-tier Defense and a top-tier Kicker. You’re not sacrificing draft capital like the crazy managers do, plus you’re jumping in front of your league mates who listen to the same boring advice that Fantasy Draft Experts repeat each preseason.
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