DRAFT.com offers a unique twist among DFS providers, blending the traditional DFS method of player selection with the snake draft format that season-long fantasy players might be more familiar with. It changes the competitive formula from selecting the highest-scoring collection of players within a designated dollar amount, to selecting the highest-scoring collection of players within an allotment of picks distributed through a snake draft. That means a player is removed from the pool once selected, in contrast with the usual DFS arrangement where any participant can own any player they can afford.
In addition to daily contests, DRAFT offers unique 'Best Ball' leagues for NFL, where you select players in a snake draft just as you would a season-long format, but there are no post-draft roster moves and the site automatically inputs your highest-scoring combination of players each week throughout the upcoming season. With buy-in amounts varying from $1 to $100, you can aim high if you'd like, but you could just as easily play in many leagues with low-risk amounts. It's at the very least a good way to test the market for the upcoming season and put yourself ahead of the curve on ADP trends. DRAFT uses .5 PPR scoring for the format.
I jumped in DRAFT recently and will narrate my experiments weekly in this article, so if you're new you can learn along with me. Since I mostly know about NFL and MLB, and am almost completely ignorant about NBA, NHL, or golf, I'll be sticking to NFL Best Ball until the MLB season starts.
I recently joined my first contest, a $3, 12-person slow draft. We're 11 rounds into it as of this writing, and there are already a few developments that caught me off guard. I had the fourth pick, where I was left with the choice of Ezekiel Elliott or David Johnson – the first three picks were Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown. I took Elliott, mostly due to the uncertainty surrounding the Arizona quarterback position. If I were to simulate the scenario nine more times, I'd probably take Johnson four times to diversify.
After my 'safe' Elliott pick, I went a bit unconventional if not a tad reckless. That's the beauty of a $3 buy-in. Largely due to uncertainty at the running back position – we hardly know who will be on which team, let alone who they might have to compete against for touches – I wasn't drawn toward the options in Rounds 2 through 5.
So my next four picks were wide receivers – A.J. Green in the second round, Adam Thielen in the third, Alshon Jeffery in the fourth, and Allen Robinson in the fifth. Not bad at all. The problem is that by the time the sixth round arrived, Duke Johnson was the best running back on the board. He's not the ideal RB2 in any format, but especially outside of full point PPR. I'm always going to pick A.J. Green in the second round, but perhaps I should have taken a runner over Thielen, Jeffery, or Robinson.
On the other hand, when revisiting the options on the board when I made those second, third, and fourth receiver selections, I don't see any running backs that I wish I had taken in hindsight. After Thielen, Kenyan Drake, Joe Mixon, Carlos Hyde, and Jay Ajayi were the next running backs off the board. I like the talent with all four, but Drake and Mixon play in offenses liable to collapse, Hyde isn't guaranteed a starting role right now as a free agent, and Ajayi plays in an offense that aggressively rotates its runners.
After the Jeffery pick, it was Dion Lewis, Derrius Guice, and Alex Collins who were next off the board. Guice interests me quite a lot – I think his talent is substantial – but not knowing where he'll play makes him an anxious pick in the fourth round. Still, given Jeffery's shoulder surgery, I think I probably should have picked Guice here. Lewis and Collins were great in 2017, but I think Lewis is a product of the New England system, and I'm skeptical that Collins can sustain his 2017 production, especially if Baltimore adds running back talent in the draft.
As things currently sit, here is my roster. I'm in the 11th round and I just got my RB3 – rookie Rashaad Penny from San Diego State, who I expect to be a second-round pick in the NFL Draft after blazing a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the combine. I'm hoping to get fellow rookie Royce Freeman of Oregon as my RB4 at the next pick.
I have no idea what I'm going to do at tight end, where I still have no selections. (I meant to take George Kittle a round ago, but I forgot to turn off Autopick and I was given Winston instead). I'm going to need to target breakout candidates like David Njoku, Trey Burton, and Adam Shaheen next, and hopefully catch a floor guy like Charles Clay while I'm at it.
I'll talk a bit more in next week's article about my quarterback approach in this, but suffice to say I will heavily invest in Marcus Mariota and Pat Mahomes at their current price tags.