When I was younger my ride to and from work would consist of listening to music. I thought those that listened to talk radio or sports radio were just old boring people. Of course, now during my commute I almost exclusively listen to SiriusXM’s Fantasy sports channel. One of my favorite shows on the channel has been the Fantasy Alarm show with Jeff Mans until he recently moved on. Last year as football season neared he and Ted Schuster developed a segment called “draft pockets”. The idea was to look at each position and determine where the pockets of value were in drafts. The more I listened to this segment the more I found it to be useful. We all know that the WRs at the top of round 1 are really good but where else can you find some good values? As we develop our draft strategies understanding where these pockets are can help you make picks and shape your team. For example, let’s say you don’t want to take Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce or Jordan Reed in the first 3 rounds of your draft. Where is value for TEs? Looking at current ADP via My Fantasy League you are looking at picks 80 to 106. In this range, you can find Jimmy Graham, Eric Ebron, Kyle Rudolph and Delanie Walker. Let’s look at each position and see where some current draft pockets are for a 14-team league:
QB – Picks 70–78 (Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston, Cam Newton and Marcus Mariota), Picks 170-185 (Paxton Lynch, Philip Rivers, Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Tannehill)
RB – Picks 41-56 (Lamar Miller, Carlos Hyde, CJ Anderson, Tevin Coleman and Mark Ingram), Picks 100-118 (Giovani Bernard, TJ Yeldon, Kenneth Dixon, Jeremy Hill, Eddie Lacy, Rob Kelley, Theo Riddick and Danny Woodhead
WR – Picks 50-68 (Julian Edelman, Donte Moncrief, DeVante Parker, Martavis Bryant, Jordan Matthews, Tyreek Hill, Terrelle Pryor, Golden Tate and Michael Crabtree), Picks 125-142 (Willie Snead, Cameron Meredith, Eric Decker, Laquon Treadwell, Jeremy Maclin, Allen Hurns, Marvin Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Kenny Britt and Kenny Stills)
TE – Picks 132-157 (Martelleus Bennett, CJ Fiedorowicz, Julius Thomas and Jack Doyle), Picks 201-216 (Jared Cook, Coby Fleener, Gary Barnidge, Zach Miller, Dwayne Allen and Jason Witten)
It goes without saying but this information will differ a bit for DSE leagues as these ADPs aren’t for a dynasty league. However, what these can give us is a good outlook on where to find the value for each position. As we have talked about during the first couple of articles, it is imperative that you go into the draft with a specific strategy. If you understand where these draft pockets are it can greatly enhance your ability to carry out your strategy. Let’s say you go with a big-time RB early in your draft. In order to make up for that later you are going to need to find some value at WR. If you know that in the 4th or 5th round you can find a WR like Michael Crabtree this make it easier for you to take that RB early.
Having this information at your fingertips can also help you make key decisions as the draft takes place. If in the 10th round you are trying to decide whether to take Larry Fitzgerald (ADP 140) or CJ Fiedorowicz (ADP 142) knowing that between picks 201-216 you can get Zach Miller might allow you to take Fitzgerald.
I would suggest utilizing sites ADPs and finding where you think the pockets of value are based on your league settings. For DSE, go into My Fantasy League and understand how other similar drafts are flowing. Use this information and do some mock drafts. You will find that your teams turn out much better if you go in with an idea of where you are going to go in each round. For example, last year in my startup DSE draft I knew that I wanted to go WR heavy early. I could execute this because I knew that I could get some RBs I liked in rounds 4-6 instead of reaching for a RB earlier.
A good understanding of where the value is in the draft is a big help when you are looking at making trades. If you are looking to move up in round 1 and have to give up your 4th round pick maybe you can get the other owner to throw in their 9th round pick knowing that you like the players that should be available in the 9th round. Most owners will not have done this level of research and will not fully understand the value of what they are giving up until it is too late.
One of the hardest things about DSE is the inclusion of individual defensive players (IDP). Last season was my first playing in an IDP league and I had to do a lot of research beforehand to understand when to take defensive players. As important as it is to know where the pockets of value are for the WR and RBs it is even more so to understand when to take a LB or DB. For example, right now a good pocket for LBs is between picks 188-200 where you can get Kiko Alonso, Jerrell Freeman, Von Miller, KJ Wright, Vic Beasley and Tahir Whitehead. It can be extremely damaging to your team to take a defender too early and end up losing out on a top-notch WR or RB. In my start-up league last year, a team took JJ Watt in the 4th round. Obviously, they didn’t know he would get hurt, but by taking him at that point they passed up Randall Cobb, Mark Ingram, Carlos Hyde, Jordan Reed, Jameis Winston, Lesean McCoy and more. Looking back at that draft the only two DE taken in the top 10 rounds were Watt and Khalil Mack (6th round). Like with offensive players it is very important to understand where the draft pockets are for defenders as well. My recommendation is to use the ADP information you can find to formulate a plan for when you think the best value is for the defenders.
Draft pockets are a very valuable tool that you can use to help set your team apart from your competition by knowing when to take players at each position. By understanding this concept, you will be able to avoid being stuck in a panic because you took a TE too early and now can’t find a quality WR or something similar. While this idea is helpful it is going to take some research on your part to find out where the pockets are based on the players you like. However, the research will be worth it on draft day.