By: Mark Leipold @LeipoldNFL
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DFS Snake Drafting for Dummies
By now, you’ve probably played, or at least heard about DFS sites that use Snake Draft formats rather than salary caps (e.g., DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo). I’ve played on a few different sites, and wanted to explain some of the basics, as well as my general approach. The two sites I use for my Snake Draft DFS entertainment are DRAFT and Drafters. DRAFT has accompanying iOS and Android mobile apps, but Drafters uses a desktop interface for now as it is still in the beta version. However, if you were one of the first to try it out, you may have downloaded the app when it was available for a short time. Regardless, stay tuned as there are big things to come with Drafters. Both sites follow the same general philosophy – users play one-week fantasy contests similar to the salary cap sites, but choose their teams via a Snake Draft. There are varying levels of buy-in, pool sizes, and sports to choose from on both sites. Both sites offer Head-to-Head contests as well as larger pools (6 or 10 entries). I’ll briefly discuss each and how I approach them.
In Head-to-Head contests, you typically need 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, and 1 TE (Drafters only). Drafters also has some formats with K and DEF/DST. When constructing your lineup, it’s crucial to ensure you don’t have any busts – like cash games on the salary cap sites, the floor of your lineup is very important. I try to avoid high-variance players (e.g., T.Y. Hilton) in these formats. The strategy for this game type is more in how you draft than who you target – you should simply target the best available players. That being said, in Head-To-Head contests, your selections should be based on your player ranks, but also largely what your opponent does. If your opponent has filled a position, you should not touch that position until the very end. For example, if my opponent has the first pick and takes Tom Brady, I won’t draft a QB until my last pick of the draft, because there is no way for any of the other QBs to disappear, so I can have whoever I want. By waiting on QB, I will improve my options at the other positions. The same goes if your opponent fills up their RB or WR slots. There is no need to draft those positions until the end once your opponent has filled those positions. As a result, you’ll see be drafting K and DEF/DST on Drafters long before QB or TE in some contests if my opponent takes a QB or TE early. The same is true on DRAFT, where you should prioritize position groups that your opponent has not filled.
In larger contests (let’s say 10 entries), usually no more than 3 positions get paid out, so you need to sacrifice some floor in order to get the upside to win. It’s harder to stack (take multiple players from the same team, such as a QB and WR from the same team) in draft games, so I don’t focus on that, because I’ll end up reaching if I do. My strategy in those contests is to see which position I like the later values most, and punt those early on. For example, this Week, Cooper Kupp is far enough down the board that you can get him later in the draft, but with Robert Woods out, Kupp should have a nice floor and an improved ceiling. If I know that going in, I can try to target QB/RB/TE with my earlier picks to ensure I get production out of those positions. On the flip side, if I look at the available RBs for a given week, and like none of my options after the first 10 or so, I will try to prioritize that position. In general, it’s tough to find RB production deeper down the board since there aren’t many workhorses at the NFL level. It’s typically easier to find WRs who are either the #1 on a bad team or in a nice matchup, or QBs that have good matchups but aren’t elite options (Andy Dalton this week). The landscape changes each week, so your approach should be based on the options and depth at each position. In order to cash in the larger pools, you have to hit on a few of your later picks, so be willing to accept some variance. Most importantly, have fun and play responsibly. Enjoy!