We already know the NFL is going to look very different in 2020 based on the way MLB and the NBA and NHL have looked this summer. Playing fantasy sports is different in the age of COVID, so what should we have in mind ahead of our fantasy football drafts? Here are 10 suggestions.
1. If you are the commissioner of your league, consider having more bench spots available and lengthen your draft. If you usually draft for 16 rounds, consider 18 to 20 rounds this year. If you are not the commissioner, contact the commish and express this to them.
2. Injured reserve spots are necessary. Some leagues have them and some do not, but all leagues will need them in 2020. If you do not have any, I recommend at least two spots but would prefer four. Players are going to miss time for COVID issues — maybe even entire teams — so demand your league have IR spots.
3. Draft Sept. 7, 8 or 9. If you have a draft scheduled in August or early September, DEMAND it gets moved to a later date. Let’s be honest, we have less access this year than any other year that I can remember — training camps are shorter, no preseason games and so on. You think coaches were tight-lipped on injuries before? Ha, we haven’t seen anything like this. There is no rush to draft now. Wait as long as you can.
4. Beware of rookies. We all love rookies. We can’t wait to draft them. But rookies have a learning curve — a curve that may not level off until Week 4, 5 or 6. Clyde Edward-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift and Jalen Reagor (to name a few) should all be good players, but when? Can you afford an early draft pick on one of them while he figures it out? Make sure you are taking rookies when the value is worth the risk.
5. Wait on a quarterback … unless you can draft Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson in the late second or third round. Quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady can be drafted after the eighth round, and some can be had as late as the 12th round. So unless it is a SUPERFLEX league … WAIT on QB!!!
6. Wait on a tight end … unless you can draft Travis Kelce or George Kittle in the mid-to-late second or third round. I am perfectly comfortable with tight ends like T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant or Mike Gesicki — or punting it altogether and grabbing Dan Arnold in the last round.
7. Beware of injured players! Regarding players coming back from injuries or who are injured during training camp, just beware. Players did not have their normal offseason and were forced away from trainers, PT and so on. I’m not saying they aren’t healed. I’m just saying they may not be in football shape.
8. Play it safe during the first eight rounds of your draft. We love high-reward players, but this year may not be their year. I expect teams to lean heavily on players they know well in the first four to six weeks of the season. If you have a choice between a rookie and a veteran with guaranteed snaps, take the vet. Like sleepers? Don’t we all! Take them late.
9. Handcuff early and often. Drafting Nick Chubb in the first or second round? Be prepared to take Kareem Hunt in the sixth or seventh. Do not wait. If you feel now is the time to draft him … draft him. Same goes for Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison (around the ninth round). Drafting Zach Ertz? Make sure you grab Dallas Goedert by the 12th or 13th round. You get my point.
10. HAVE FUN! This is supposed to be fun. Yes, money is sometimes at stake. But if you’re playing only for the money, go play DFS.
Ken Zalis ranked No. 3 in FantasyPros’ 2019 Fantasy Football Draft Accuracy Rankings.