Please Stop Drafting Defenses and Kickers in Fantasy Football

by Granola Jeremy ·

In football, the naked bootleg is a play in which the quarterback takes the snap and runs in the opposite direction of his offense. After faking the handoff to his running back, all of his blockers go one direction and he takes ball the opposite way. It is a bold strategy, having the most important piece of your team run without any safety. But done right, it catches the defense off guard and leaves all opponents in dumbfounded awe. It even works with the slowest of quarterbacks. This play works because everyone expects something different. In 2013 we saw Peyton Manning pull this play again against the Dallas Cowboys at the goal line. Third and goal, no one expects Manning to turn and take it to the pylon. But that’s the beauty of a play like this. It’s unexpected, boldly brilliant, and can most importantly win you games. In this same way, the Naked Bootleg Draft strategy will leave your fantasy opponents vexed and confused while you walk away the winner of the draft waiving the advanced stats and metrics flag.

The Naked Bootleg

A Naked Bootleg Draft is done in typical redraft league. These are leagues that are non-superflex and non-tight-end-premium. They are the most common leagues and many of us have home leagues (the oldest league(s) we are a part of) that play this way. Drafting in these home leagues is typically done during or just after the third week of the pre-season. So now is the time to strike with this ridiculous strategy!

The basic strategy of the Naked Bootleg is to draft only running backs and wide receivers. That’s right. No quarterbacks. No tight ends. No defense. No kickers.

Draft Strategy Implementation

Football is plagued by randomness. Injuries, coaching decisions, suspensions, etc. This strategy gives drafters success because it allows them to roster possible lottery ticket running backs and wide receivers before the season starts. Before week 1 of the regular season, NFL depth charts are still in motion. There is competition and sometimes the unexpected win the starting job before week 1. In addition, every preseason there are numerous injuries to offensive playmakers. Last season we saw Julian Edelman, Spencer Ware, Quincy Enunwa, and Cameron Meredith each have season ending injuries. Already this preseason we’ve seen suspensions to Mark Ingram and Aaron Jones, controversy surround LeSean McCoy, and injuries to Doug Baldwin, Rashaad Penny, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and over half of Washington’s running backs (Derrius Guice, Byron Marshall, Samaje Perine). Sleeper players get roles through injuries, suspensions, and camp battles. That’s why four extra roster spots is key before the regular season begins.

Check out Aaron Jones & Rex Burkhead on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:

Using those four extra spots, you get to add running backs and wide receivers that could inherit substantial roles on good offenses. Without having to worry about tight ends or quarterbacks in the middle or late rounds. Instead, you can continue to pound running backs and wide receivers with potential opportunities. Imagine doing this last season and drafting Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, Adam Thielen, and Chris Hogan. You would have won your league. This is where the strategy works best. Roster four extra lottery tickets. Then, once week 1 is approaching, you can drop them if they haven’t broken out to complete your roster.

And even if you didn’t roster one of the injury breakouts, you can still pick him up and drop one of your four extras. It’s a lot easier to drop a roster spot you weren’t intending to keep than to drop a starting quarterback, tight end, defense, or even kicker. For example: Ezekiel Elliott gets injured. You pick up Rod Smith instantly if you don’t already have him rostered and drop one of your other lottery tickets to wait for the injury news. If it’s substantial, you just won your league. If it’s nothing and Zeke will be back the next day, drop Smith at the start of the season. There’s no loyalty needed or expected with these final roster spots, which makes you a very flexible owner.

Now, I know may seem like an outrageous draft strategy. It may appear to be a big risk to not draft quarterbacks, tight ends, defenses, or kickers. You might fear losing an edge to your opponents. But after reviewing undrafted options available at each position, your fear should turn into confidence.

Quarterbacks & Tight Ends

Only 23 quarterbacks are currently being drafted in 12-team PPR drafts. Your best options to pick up before week one include: Case Keenum, Mitchell Trubisky, Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill, and Sam Bradford (or Josh Rosen). Even in desperate situations you could stream Joe Flacco (or Lamar Jackson), Sam Darnold (or Josh McCown/Teddy Bridgewater), or even Josh Allen. Obviously those aren’t the sexiest quarterback options, they are nonetheless viable fantasy starters.

Looking at tight ends, there are only 17 being drafted. This leaves quite a plethora of tight end options for you to roster later. Names like Jared Cook, Charles Clay, Ricky Seals-Jones, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Cameron Brate, Vance McDonald, Mike Gesicki, Eric Ebron, Tyler Kroft, Luke Willson, Virgil Green, Ed Dickson, Stephen Anderson, Gerald Everett, and Vernon Davis are all going undrafted. Surely there is at least one good tight end for you to pick up off waivers to start in week one.

Defense & Kickers

There is no need to draft a defense or kicker, regardless of if you use the Naked Bootleg Draft Strategy. Honestly, only 13 defenses and 13 kickers are drafted by fantasy gamers. That leaves 59-percent of defenses and kickers available for adding. If you struggle figuring out a week one streamer for those positions, here are a few of the best options at those positions.

Week One Defense Streamers:

  • Washington at Arizona
  • Seattle at Denver
  • Tennessee at Miami
  • Detroit vs New York Jets

Week One Kicker Options:

  • Roberto Aguayo (LAC) at home vs Kansas City
  • Josh Lambo (JAX) at New York Giants
  • Graham Gano (CAR) at home vs Dallas
  • Ryan Succup (TEN) at Miami
  • Randy Bullock (CIN) at Indianapolis


If you are feeling like a bold fantasy drafter, don’t draft a defense or a kicker. It allows you to optimize your upside, while driving your league-mates insane at the draft. If none of your extra picks become fantasy relevant, your cost was minimal. There are always quality streamers and waiver options at positions other than running back and wide receiver. But if just one of them hits before week one, you get to look like your league’s fantasy guru. Do yourself a favor and try the Naked Bootleg Draft strategy.