Billy Wasosky is one of the most successful fantasy drafters in the country. He is an NFFC Hall of Famer, accumulating over $500K in fantasy winnings. Billy finished 3rd Overall in the 2013 NFFC Classic and won the 2021 NFFC Rotowire Online Championship. He is an excellent auction manager winning multiple high-stakes leagues. Billy also has written content for The Black Book and continues to do so. In this article, he provides some his best practices, or fantasy football strategies, that all fantasy gamers can use to help improve their process.
Redraft Fantasy Football Strategy
By Billy Wasosky
Glengarry Glen Ross coined the phrase…. “Always Be Closing”. “ABC” as it was often referred to was used (and still is to this day) in all aspects of those who “sell” for a living. While we aren’t “selling” anything when we are playing fantasy football (I won’t be talking about trading, and certainly will not be discussing the “D word” …. Dynasty!), but when it comes to redraft fantasy football, using the “Always Be” concept can be beneficial as a foundation to your preseason prep, drafting, and managing your teams throughout the season. So, in Glengarry Glen Ross style, here are the “ALWAYS BE” concepts that can help both beginners and high stakes players in all their redraft leagues.
IN THE OFFSEASON
Always Be LISTENING
In today’s age of fantasy football, information is EVERYWHERE. Social media, news sources, beat writers, apps, etc. give us information within moments after it occurs. In the offseason, much of this information is just something to write about during the “dead season” (is there really one?). That being said, listening to trusted podcasts and reading informative articles is paramount in the offseason. My goal each day in the summer when listening to various podcasts is to ask myself after “did I learn something that I didn’t know today?” Find yourself podcasts, articles, websites, etc. that you find informative. Find resources that give you good quality fantasy information to prep you for the upcoming season.
Always Be UPDATING
I highly recommend taking the time to do your own projections/rankings once the NFL Draft is completed in April. I simply look at coaching styles, past history, and forecast what I think will happen in the upcoming season. You can be extremely detailed using air yards, yards per route run, and other metrics. Or you can just stick to basics. Doing this will definitely open your eyes about some players that you might not have been thinking about (or players you liked, may not grade out as good as you anticipated).
The biggest key to all of this, is ALWAYS BE UPDATING YOUR RANKINGS! As information comes out, you MUST be able to “get on” or “get off” a player. I know many players in high stakes fantasy leagues who form an opinion on a player in May. Then, they will not change their minds even though all the news is telling them otherwise. You are going to make wrong choices on who to draft (no one gets them all right!). However, being able to change your opinions based on the information you have will allow you to make far less.
Always Be LOOKING AT ADP
There are very few days/nights from May through early September where I won’t be looking at a draft board or ADP to see “what is changing?” Whatever league you play in, you obviously need to understand the rules. However, you also need to see where people are generally being drafted (ADP). While every draft is different, and you SHOULD get the players that you want, you need to have a rough idea of where they go in drafts.
You don’t want to be the owner who is taking players 1-2 rounds consistently above their ADP. That is a difficult way to win a league. In the high stakes arena where there are multiple leagues competing for an overall prize, taking players much earlier than normal can really hurt your chances. If two owners each take Jerry Jeudy, Lamar Jackson, and Cam Akers, but the first owner got them in rounds four, five, and six, and the second owner took them in rounds two, three, and five, you can see how the first owner has a huge advantage over the second owner through six rounds. Don’t be afraid to jump “your guys.” But always be using ADP as a guide to get the best “bang for your buck.”
DURING THE DRAFT
Always Be PAYING ATTENTION TO YOUR ROSTER CONSTRUCTION
Roster construction is probably the single biggest factor to how your team will look when your draft is over. If you are only drafting one team (or very few), you will need to map out a game plan of how you want to build your team. Will you take an early QB? Do you want to pound WR? Will you want a strong backfield? These are all questions that you will have to answer in order to build your team.
Now if you are a high volume player (someone who does say 10 or more drafts in a season), then you can certainly mix up different strategies (especially when playing in overall contests). However, you still need to have a plan. I see so many drafts where someone will take their fourth RB (when you can only start three) before their first WR. Or a player might take two QB’s in the first six rounds of a draft when you can only start one. That is most likely going to result in a team that will have difficulty competing.
I have found my best teams are generally balanced. Then, when it is my pick, I have options. I can choose an RB or a WR. Ultimately, I can take what is best for my team. The alternative is being forced to take a certain position because I have a glaring need. A player may be forced to do this even though that position/player is not even close to being the next player on their board.
Always Be LOOKING AT OTHER TEAMS NEEDS
This will be my 36th year of playing fantasy football, and 20th year in high stakes. While I have seen a lot of things, the one thing that is always consistent is people not paying attention to how a draft is flowing. For example, if you are at the fourth pick, and it is coming back to you in the first 10 or so rounds of the draft, and you want to get both a QB and WR with your next two picks. If teams one through three already have a QB, there is absolutely no reason to take your QB now. Take the WR, and there is a very high chance that the QB will come back on your next pick (not guaranteed, but highly likely!)
The lesson here is that you should always be looking at the teams to the left and right on the draft board. Also pay attention to the needs of other teams. Another example would be if you are picking 11th in a 12-team league. It is the 5th round, and you need an RB or WR. The team who is 12th already has a QB and three WRs. The smart play is to draft the RB. The rationale is there is a good chance team 12 would take him. They probably won’t be interested in the WR that you also would like to get. Doing this in all your drafts will allow you to get many more of the players that you want on your team.
Always Be STAC, I mean SMART!
Let me first be clear that stacking CAN be beneficial if executed correctly (and it is a much better strategy for extremely large tournaments and DFS). The problem I see with stacking in redraft is that people often try to “force” a stack. This can backfire for obvious reasons. For example, when someone forces WR20 over WR14 on their rankings just so they can correlate it with their QB. The opportunity cost is often far too much in that situation. Many other times, I often see fantasy owners stacking two or three receiving options on an offense. Unless it is an elite offense (which will be costly to get), this strategy is often a dud in my experience. Having two pass catchers “go off” in an offense does not happen consistently enough to justify stacking more than one pass catcher.
As I said in the first sentence, “stacking can be beneficial if executed correctly.” So, while I will stack when the opportunity presents itself, I often let it happen naturally. Then I continue to execute my strategy for that particular draft. The key is being smart enough to realize when and when not you should stack.
Always Be AVOIDING LANDMINES
In most seasons of fantasy football, staying healthy is what often separates teams from getting in the fantasy playoffs/championship round, etc. You could have the best draft. But if those injuries rear their ugly head, it makes your chances dwindle quickly.
Avoiding often injured players in the first few rounds of your draft is just one helpful thing you can do to avoid landmines. Of course, ANYONE can get hurt. However, there are players every year like Mike Williams and Dalvin Cook who you know will miss time. If you have other comparable players available, why take a chance on someone you know you more than likely have for the whole season?
This also applies to players who you just don’t feel will have any juice this year. Last year, a lot of people realized that Deebo Samuel was bound to regress. He was a player who you probably wanted to avoid in the first couple rounds. Sure enough, he finished as WR36 in PPR scoring and WR 28 in PPG. This made him a “bust.” Look to avoid players who had “career years” the previous season. These players scored an abnormal amount of TD’s. They became a “target hog” in the offense because the WR1 on that team got injured.
As I mentioned earlier, pay attention to how ADP is moving weekly. See the trends of players you are interested in drafting. If the fantasy community as a whole is moving a player up or down, you need to figure out why this is happening. Fantasy gamers may need to consider moving them as well.
DURING THE SEASON
Always be….. GRINDING AND LOOKING AHEAD
While the draft is without question the foundation for your fantasy team and season, it certainly doesn’t stop with you just plugging your best players each week into your lineup. You have got to stay on top of news, injuries, and especially who is available to pick up each week (free agency). However, depending on how your league decides to do their free agency (blind bidding, worst team gets first choice, you need to be looking not only at the needs for your team, but also what your opponents need as well. For example, you own Tua Tagovailoa, and he gets hurt. Your back up (Jimmy G) is doing poorly as well. So, if you are in a league who does blind bidding, you need to be aware of anyone else in your league who could also use an upgrade at QB. From there, you should adjust your bid accordingly.
When bidding on players each week you also need to be churning the bottom of your roster each week. There is no sense in having players on your team who aren’t producing and have a small chance at getting an opportunity. Dump the players who aren’t producing and don’t have a good chance to. Fantasy gamers should be trying to find that next “diamond in the rough!”
Bye Weeks and Bad Matchups
Once you are in the routine of checking needs for the upcoming week, it is time to “up your game.” A big part of being successful is looking ahead at potential bye weeks and bad matchups. Getting players a few weeks ahead of when you actually may need them is vital. Many successful fantasy players will stream defenses each week. If I am streaming defenses, I will often have two defenses on my roster. This is because I have mapped out the next four to five weeks with prime matchups.
This also works for things you may be hearing about players. Maybe the coaches want to give their backup a chance. Perhaps someone has been gutting it through injuries. Maybe it doesn’t look like they will make it much longer? Regardless of the situation, ALWAYS be looking at weeks ahead on ways to “get an edge.” And if you are fortunate, and are heading into the playoffs, look at matchups that potentially have bad weather possibilities that you can avoid as well.