Covid-19 Draft Strategy
Benjamin Shamel / @benjamm1n
There are many questions to consider as the season approaches. Roster construction, league settings, and keeper rules are only a few to name but this year brings many uncertainties that we have never experienced before. How does Covid-19 change your draft strategy? First and foremost, the NFL has announced that players have until August 1st to opt out of the 2020 season. Once a player opts out, they are ineligible to return for the duration of the 2020 season; so make sure your drafts are set after that date. There is not a lot that fantasy owners could control at this time but the draft date being after this opt out date is something we can consider.
Rookies are the players who could be most impacted by Covid-19 due to the decreased time in training camp and lack of a full pre-season. Roster sizes are expected to be 75 or 80 instead of the usual 90 and joint practices between two NFL teams have been ruled out for the upcoming season. Rookies will be starting their NFL journeys a lot later than usual which could affect their ability to learn their playbooks and schemes early on into the season. As a result, drafting rookies in redraft leagues could bring a much higher risk.
Some could think it may be a good idea to reach for your handcuffs earlier than usual, but I think the opposite is true. If a key player gets Covid-19 the chances are that his back up could be exposed to it as well before they are able to quarantine. The better tactic in this case would be to draft other people’s handcuffs. That strategy not only increases your team’s upside it also prevents you from using a bench spot for a player that will have minimal value unless something happens to your stud running back.
The most important change that should be made in leagues is to add I.R. Spots. At this time the most IR spots that you can have is two, but it is possible that that will increase in options down the line as three or four IR spots could make a world of difference this season. It is possible to just increase team sizes in lieu of I.R. Spots but doing so would limit waiver options for teams during the season in redraft leagues.
What about start-up dynasty leagues? Covid-19 could change your strategy from a win now one to instead building a roster that can compete for the future, maybe one that is built for a championship run even just a year from now by incorporating more rookies and second year players than usual. Or, if you find your league mates are incorporating that in extreme cases it could instead leave you with more key veterans than usual allowing you to stock up on players that normally would not have fallen to you. As always, it is important to stay fluid in draft rooms and not stick to any one strategy no matter any circumstance.