The new NFL season began on Thursday night with Round One of the 2017 Draft. New players bring new hope to NFL teams and their fans – and to some fantasy owners as well. The anticipation of snagging a rookie before he explodes onto the scene can build over the course of the summer until it culminates in a first-round fantasy pick. Last year, Ezekiel Elliott personified this fantasy turned reality, leading many an owner to a league championship.
But as many of you know, I consider this to be the exception to the rule. Rookies typically make poor fantasy selections. Yes, some of them come with amazing talent. But these youngsters are still raw and inexperienced. The NFL is played at a speed they’ve hardly ever witnessed on the field of play. And so it takes time to acclimate to it and develop the skills necessary to take their talent to that new level. At the very least, half a season is probably needed before fruitful production begins.; often, it is more like 3 seasons. Again, yes, there are exceptions to the rule. But even quality rookies like Peyton Manning usually take it on the chin during their first year.
So is there no fantasy value in the NFL draft? Yes, there is. But it is found in the nuances of team play. In other words, if an NFL team shores up its defense significantly during the draft, it may lead their offense to run more and pass during the coming season (they won’t have to pass as often to keep up with their opponent). A strengthening of the offensive line could lead to an increase in that team’s offensive production across the board. Or a failure to draft a new wide receiver after the departure of a solid one could lead to a decrease in offensive production in the coming season.
The key to the NFL draft in the world of fantasy is reading the shift in team dynamics. Mind you, most of us are not well-versed enough in NFL rosters beyond the big playmakers to grasp all these subtle effects. Nor do we tend to know much about the college players being drafted and how they might actually fit (or not fit) the scheme of the NFL teams that drafted them. So my suggestion to you is to red up on them. ESPN.com and other robust websites provide detailed analysis on the draft. They will often breakdown each player and discuss his potential impact and flaws. This is where you will find the knowledge to leverage the draft in your preparations for the coming fantasy season. And now is the time to research it, while the analysis s still front and center on these websites.
The NFL draft is certainly exciting. But the fantasy aspects of it are found on a completely different level than what is promote on the big screen. Take the time to research the results in detail, and you will provide yourself with a fantasy edge over most of your competitors. It is well-worth your time and effort if you intend to compete at any serious level in the coming season. Get to work on making your fantasy into a reality.