Drafting Your Bench
By Staff Writer John Belaska
One of the most important things to long term success throughout a fantasy football season is a strong bench. These are the player you will put in your starting lineup when things get tough. The bench players can be called up at any time for multiple reasons. Maybe one of your starters gets injured or is facing a really tough defense. The bench is also good for trading. They are the prospects in the league. They may not be considered the best in the league before the season starts, but you may be surprised. Every year there is some unknown player who turns into a super star. Teams that have these types of players on the bench are the ones’ that win.
Deciding who your first bench selection is going to be should be based on your starting roster. This means you have to quickly evaluate what positions is your strength and what are your weaknesses. This must be done quickly because your pick will be up soon. This is why during the offseason; you must do a good amount of research. Just knowing who the NFL’s superstars are is not enough to win a league.
There are a few things to understand. One mistake that new fantasy football player make all too often is drafting backup kickers and defenses. This is completely unnecessary. Kickers and defenses are always readily available on the waiver wire. Drafting them is a waste of a pick and, more importantly, a roster spot.
The second thing to look at is your quarterback. It is not necessary to draft a backup quarterback. The only time this should be done is if you are very weak at the position. To decide whether or not you need a backup is very simple. You look at who you have selected as your starter and compare it to the starters of every other team in the league. If your quarterback is in the bottom three among the starters of every team, then you might want to pick one.
You will not need to make the quarterback the first position you draft on your bench. Once all teams have a quarterback, they will typically focus on other positions. This means you do not have to reach and grab a backup early. Wait until some later rounds. More than likely, there will still be a decent one available who can be counted on if your first choice did not pan out as well as you hoped. Even if your team’s starting quarterback is not one of the top in the league, you still do not have to grab a backup. Like kickers and defense, the quarterbacks are readily available in free agency.
Prior to last season, I would have told you not to select a backup tight end either. After last season, grabbing a backup at this position does not seem like such a bad idea. Tight ends were huge contributors to fantasy football owners last season. This is because of the changes in NFL offense. The reason to consider taking on is a matter of how the position works. The tight end position is extremely physical. This means these players have better chances of getting injured. There are only a few tight ends in the NFL worth starting in fantasy football. If your starter goes down it will not be so easy to replace them with something on the waiver wire.
This leaves us with running backs and wide receivers. These two positions should basically make up your entire bench, unless you decide you need a quarterback or want a backup tight end. It is critical to know before it becomes your turn to pick. You need to look at your starting running backs and starting wide receivers. Whichever position you are weaker at should be the first one you grab for your bench. If your wide receivers are stacked, but your running back are not the best then you should take a running back. This of course works the opposite way.
Once you have decided which position you are in more desperate need of, you have to decide who to actually take. This player is going to be the first option when you need to promote someone from the bench to your starting roster. Therefore, both the first wide receiver and running back you select should be strong enough to be a starter. You definitely do not want to take any risks at this time in the draft.
Remember, old does not mean bad. One reason players get overlooked in the early rounds of fantasy drafts is because of their age. While it is turn that players’ production tends to decrease with age, these are great options for a top bench spot. They have a proven track record and you will know what to expect. Do not be afraid to pull the trigger on one of these guys if he is the best player available at your needed position.
After you have both a strong backup wide receiver and a strong backup running back, you become free to build your bench up. You should not be afraid to take some risks. Sleepers are very important to success. The reason you do not want to take sleepers too soon is that just because you think someone will play great does not mean they actually will. Therefore, you want your starters and you first options on your bench to have a proven track record.
Sleepers include wide receiver that may or may not have a breakout season. It also includes rookies. Rookies get a lot of hype prior to the season. Do not fall victim to hype. Rarely does a rookie wide receiver do much during the regular season. The only rookies who are worth taking a chance on are rookie running backs. These players have a lot of potential to put up big numbers of fantasy points.
Remember, for every sleeper you select you should have a more proven player to balance it out. Your bench must be balanced. If you go to heavy on sleepers, you may find that you need more than one roster spot filled and end up starting a player who will do nothing. If you do not take some risks, you might see it back fire as well. By only selecting players who have been productive in the past, you are setting your team up to have no potential to have a breakout candidate. These types of team can pretty much know how their season will pan out before they even play in week one.
The bench is extremely important. You will need it at some point. It is extremely rare to draft a perfect starting roster. So whether you plan on swapping starters going up against tough defenses, need to be prepared for injury, or are looking to improve you team by trading with other owners; you are going to want a good amount of depth. It is pretty simple: no depth equals no championship.