There is a reason why 10-team and 12-team fantasy football leagues are regarded as the norm or standard. It’s because they give the fantasy player the ideal balance between competitiveness and also getting a team that doesn’t completely blow. Anything above that, and the difficulty level increases by a decent amount. Anything below that, and everyone has a team of gods.
To prove the point, we’ll use FantasyPros.com’s sweet Draft Wizard tool to run through all eight spots in a regular 8-team fantasy football league. Obviously certain variables really can’t be accounted for in every situation. For instance, this league will have a roster that consists of 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1 Flex, 1K and 1DEF in the starting lineup, along with the usual six bench spots. It also will have standard scoring (4 pts for a QB passing TD, and the like) it will be non-PPR and we’re operating under the basic assumption that you give a care about running backs and don’t overvalue quarterbacks.
Sound good? If so, let’s take a stab and mocking each spot and see what we come up with (hit the team link for the final roster):
Team 1 (1st Pick)
The most important thing about 8-team leagues is that it really doesn’t matter who you draft, provided they just don’t suck. As you can see with this mock draft from the #1 spot, I found a deep, balanced team with no real holes. The Draft Analyzer gave me solid grades across the board (2nd Overall, 3rd Starters, 1st Bench). That equates to a trip to the playoffs, hypothetically, but more importantly it tells you that, by the numbers, my team looks pretty good. If you do it right in an 8-team league, you really don’t have weak spots. Of course, that’s arguably easiest working from the top spot, so we’ll continue on and see what we can come up with.
Team 2 (2nd Pick)
I’m bouncing around here, not even paying full attention to my personal fantasy rankings or caring about player value all that much. It’s an 8-team league, so the harm of reaching or not reaching isn’t as prevalent. ADP isn’t quite as crucial, as players are lasting much longer than they would in larger leagues, so guys I normally wouldn’t reach for are falling into my lap. Doug Martin and Bishop Sankey are two prime examples of guys I don’t really want that badly this year, but they’re starters and they’re my RB and RB6. That’s ridiculous. This is the depth of an 8-team league, folks. I graded out just fine in this one, too (2nd Overall, 5th starters, 1st bench). I don’t put a huge amount of stock in the grades or which ones I get higher or lower, as one important thing seems to always be true: the guys you draft as your starters don’t always pan out and the steal/bench plays you get can be great picks. As long as you have a solid draft from top to bottom, it usually works itself out. Of course, you do have to know who to play each week, too, and that’s where Breaking Football comes in with our weekly fantasy football advice.
Team 3 (3rd Pick)
I’m sure you’re getting sick of me analyzing this, as you can see plenty if you just hit the links. I’ll switch up who I’m drafting and where, just to give you an idea of the rosters you can piece together. The one constant is I’m largely only drafting guys I’m a fan of OR I can’t pass on their value. Just a side note on this Draft Wizard and the collective ADP we’re using, is that there’s some hate going Cam Newton’s way. He’s healthy and is a top-10 type of guy, so I have no qualms letting him fall to me in as many mock drafts as it takes to show people he’s simply too good to pass up on a regular basis. I still get a bad grade for my starters (6th) but my overall (1st) and bench (1st) keep my afloat here. A closer look shows this fantasy tool doesn’t love Cam Newton as my passer, and isn’t high on my defense (Broncos are just fine), Flex, TE or WR4. I’m not in agreement, as Zach Ertz has tons of upside (I’m completely open to streaming TE, anyways – ESPECIALLY in 8-team leagues), while Mike Evans is a rock solid Flex (and I could also just as easily roll with Joseph Randle, T.J. Yeldon or Chris Ivory there. My WR4 is either Amari Cooper or Vincent Jackson, too, and I’m fine with seeing how that works out. Okay, so sick of the analysis or not, I gave you a bunch more. I promise It”ll get lighter from here.
Team 4 (4th Pick)
Oh snap, I can embed this.
Team 5 (5th Pick)
No matter what type of league you’re in, my suggestions are going to remain largely the same: wait on quarterback and tight end, don’t draft defense and kickers until the final two rounds and stock up on running backs and wide receivers. But in 8-team leagues, that all is less important. If Travis Kelce is there for the taking and you have your main WR and RB, go for it. If Drew Brees falls into your lap in round 7, pull the trigger. If Tony Romo is still there and you normally wait another round or two for your fantasy passer, go nuts. I think value based drafting is much easier in 8-team leagues, but it also could be more important here than any other league. It allows you to stock up on more elite players and can make for a really nasty bench, depending how you conduct your draft. Here’s this one:
Team 6 (6th Pick)
My only blemish here is my RB2, but I’m totally fine with figuring out who my true #2 guy is between Latavius Murray, Andre Ellington, C.J. Spiller, Ameer Abdullah and Doug Martin. Sure, it’s POSSIBLE they all tank, but they all also have a crap load of upside. I’m all about getting five rushers like that behind a stud like C.J. Anderson and hoping for the best. If you give yourself enough outs, things usually go the right way in the end. Here’s the full roster and analysis:
Team 7 (7th Pick)
I could toy with the idea of a wide receiver, tight end or quarterback in round one (8-team leagues would certainly be the place to do it), but my philosophy doesn’t change much here. Stud running backs are very hard to come by, so I think getting at least one to get you going is pretty crucial. Now, if you personally don’t like any at this point, then obviously taking someone like Antonio Brown, ODB, The Gronk, etc is a move you may want to consider. Here’s how the final roster looks:
Team 8 (8th Pick)
And from the 8th spot:
One big thing to remember in 8-team leagues is that the waiver wire is the place to be all season long. With less teams, you’re able to take more risks if you want to be bold, while it’s far easier to find quality talent out in the free agent pool if you mess up in the draft or lose guys to injuries.
The moral of the story here is that I’m not a fan of 8-team leagues. They kill draft strategy, they’re not as competitive and frankly, they’re kind of easy. They’re good for friends leagues and just to draft a team, but if you want it to be a little harder and more competitive, think about 10 and 12-team leagues.