Dictating the Turns

Dictating the Turns
Photo by Fred Heap / Unsplash

The thought of drafting 100+ teams in a summer would have seemed nuts a couple of years ago. But this year, Team 100 is far in my rearview mirror... and I have plenty of open road ahead.

And one of the advantages of drafting frequently is that specific tactics begin to occur to you as you go; these tactics require a deep familiarity with the current player pool.

And by current, I don't mean the player pool for that season... I mean the player pool and ADP environment for that month or even that week.

For example, the elite QBs have begun to slide in drafts. This is well-documented in the best ball space, but it's the type of thing you could feel beginning to happen simply by drafting frequently.

And the sliding QB ADPs have unlocked a draft tactic I'm utilizing fairly frequently.

Falling QB ADP

As we recently covered on ADP Chasing, quarterback ADPs are trending down after being obscenely expensive to begin draft season.

I'll have more thoughts on the QB market soon. But for now, it's enough to know that the top QBs are sliding in drafts, as Sam Sherman illustrated with this chart.

Per Sam's number crunching, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Joe Burrow are all down significantly in ADP. And the top 12 QBs were down 2.9 spots on average.

Dictating the Turns

The falling prices on elite QBs create opportunities for bargains. And if drafting near the turn on the front of the board right now, this dynamic allows you to control the draft in exciting ways.

Theoretically, what I'm about to lay out would work just as well at the back end of the board. But the way ADPs currently line up, drafters from the 1.03-1.05 have a much easier time implementing this approach than drafters on the opposite turn.

The 2/3 Turn

2023 marked the 10th season of the MFL10 of Death, a best ball league made up of some of the industry's heaviest hitters.

https://twitter.com/Pat_Thorman/status/1663578173886300163?s=20

To give you a sense of how much best ball has grown over the previous few years, this league used to be one of the first signs that draft season was ready to get going in earnest. Things have changed a bit since then.

But the draft remains a fascinating look into how 12 industry minds are attacking the early draft landscape.

Sigmund Bloom's approach to the 2/3 turn immediately caught my eye.

https://twitter.com/Pat_Thorman/status/1664224520289255428

In this PPR league, Sigmund took Travis Kelce at 1.03, then grabbed DeVonta Smith at 2.10. This set him up for a solid value on an elite QB by giving him a stacking partner with either Kelce or Smith. With QB thirst much less intense in this draft, Bloom had no trouble adding Mahomes at the 3.03. (I don't actually know if Bloom would have taken Hurts had Mahomes been sniped, but it would have been a beautifully executed pivot if he'd needed to).

On Underdog, this type of start is a little trickier, given that reaching for Kelce above 1.06 isn't as appealing. However, this is where the falling QB prices come into play... if you want to be in a position to scoop a falling Mahomes or Hurts, a Kelce/Smith start from the 1.04-1.06 could be an interesting way to play things. I have yet to do this myself but may attempt it if QB prices continue to slip.

The 4/5 Turn

This turn is why I'm writing this post. Current ADP sets up very nicely for drafters out of the 1.03-1.05 at the 4/5 turn.

The setup requires D.J. Moore and Justin Fields to be available when on the clock in the late 4th round, and at least one team behind you on the turn to have already drafted a QB.

A Fields-to-Moore stack is easy to complete from the 1.02. If both Moore and Fields fall to you at the 4.11 and the drafter at the 4.12 already has a QB, it's a layup. In the draft below, I missed out on a Chase-Burrow stack but was able to pivot to a Moore-Fields pairing rather easily.

Grabbing Moore/Fields from the 1.02

But in the example above, I didn't really do anything; the stack fell in my lap. The only strategic element of the picks was taking Moore first since the drafter at 1.01 already had Mahomes.

But we can have more fun than this.

From 1.03-1.05, the same stack is doable. But achieving it usually requires Joe Burrow to be available.

With Moore, Fields, and Burrow all on the board, you have the option to reach for D.J. Moore and try to force a nice value on Justin Fields. Here's an example of the tactic working out from the 1.03.

Completing a Moore/Fields stack from the 1.03

Note that in this example, I'm dictating the draft to the 1.02 drafter a bit. On the 2/3 turn, I set up a possible DeVonta Smith-Jalen Hurts stack. When that was sniped... I used his snipe against him by forcing Fields around the 4/5 turn.

The Hurts drafter was put in the position of either making a suboptimal QB2 selection (which helps me as one of his 12 opponents) or allowing me to get my QB1 at a considerable discount to his. This drafter rationally chose the latter, while the Higgins drafter gleefully scooped Joe Burrow, benefiting from the same dynamic.

Dealing with Snipes

This tactic isn't always going to work. And it's definitely annoying when it fails.

But even the failed versions of this move help illustrate how much easier it is to stay flexible if you grab a WR before the QB in a stack rather than vice-versa. If I'm going to be sniped, I'd rather be loaded with high-upside pass catchers.

Here's an example of a failed stack attempt. This time, I was attempting the stack all the way from the 5-hole. It was a bit of a half-court shot. But after the drafter in the 3-hole passed on Fields, I was certain I was going to sink the attempt.

Sniped on Fields by a QB double up

I'm not going to lie; this snipe tilted me pretty hard.

But I ended up feeling good about the final team. I stacked Tua with Tyreek Hill in the 8th and Daniel Jones in the 9th, who I paired with Darren Waller and several WRs. Sure, I didn't get a good price on Moore, but I lived to fight another day while staying on schedule at WR in the early rounds.

And even after that painful snipe, I'm still happy I took D.J. Moore first rather than grabbing Fields and gambling on losing Moore.

In another draft, I ended up being the sniper when an opponent tried to build the stack with Fields first.

I snipe Moore from the 1.03

I view Moore as an early 5th-round value and was happy to add him as my WR3 in the 5th round. The 1.04's incomplete Fields stack was just collateral damage. But I don't like to find myself in the position that I left him in. After committing to Fields with just one WR through four rounds, the Moore snipe made life more difficult than if he'd grabbed Moore first and lost out on Fields.

The 6/7 Turn

While Burrow's availability is a near necessity to complete the Moore-Fields stack from the 1.03-1.05... Christian Kirk can factor in as well.

With Kirk also available, losing out on Fields becomes less of a concern—because Kirk provides an out to an even better QB value.

With Kirk available, you have solid odds of dictating at least one of the following two turns.

In the draft below, I was drafting out of the 1.04 (yes, I'm taking a lot of Breece Hall).

In this example, I grabbed Moore with confidence that everyone would stay in their lane. The Mahomes and Allen drafters would grab the WRs they needed; the Chase/Higgins drafter would happily grab Burrow. Easy game.

But that's not what happened.

Turning a Fields snipe into a Lawrence bargain

Fields didn't make it back to me, but Christian Kirk did—which was a blessing.

Because with QB ADPs falling... Lawrence sometimes makes it all the way back to the 6.09. That's exactly what happened here. But instead of taking him in the 6th, I decided to test the turn's appetite for QBs yet again.

This time, with four elite QBs already on the three teams, my QB target came back easily. I scooped Lawrence a full 12 picks past ADP.

(Caveat: In a fast draft... it would be crucial to make sure that none of the drafters on the turn are on auto-draft.)

Being Thoughtful

If you are low on D.J. Moore... I get it. The Bears have very legitimate pass-volume concerns. Some of the sharpest drafters I know aren't touching Moore right now. And if you think Lawrence is being overdrafted, I agree. I see him as more of a 7th-round value than a truly elite option. And if you think that Mahomes and Hurts are still too expensive in the early 3rd round, I get that too.

The point of this post isn't to tout the merits of particular stacks—the point is to use the current player pool to get uncommon values on expensive and stacked QBs.

As ADPs shift, more opportunities like this will arise. For example, Anthony Richardson is close to presenting a similar opportunity at the 8/9 turn to the one that Lawrence offered at the 6/7 turn in the draft above. Michael Pittman's 5th-round ADP also sets up the stack similarly to Kirk-Lawrence.

And there's no real reason that this dynamic has to be limited to the front half of the board. Perhaps if the elites fall enough, we can dictate the back half of the board as well.


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