Avoiding the Chopping Block

By Paul Charchian @paulcharchian

Guillotine leagues are really different from standard fantasy leagues. And as such, you'll want to reorient the engrained draft strategies you've employed for years.

The key mental hurdle you need to change: You're not drafting a team to win; you're draft a team that won't lose.

You'll see that mindset play itself out several ways in the topics below.

Draft Strategy No. 1: Build a roster of safe players

You win a guillotine league by not finishing last for 17 weeks.

The players who help you not lose are the ones who perform predictably well most weeks.

Conversely, the boom-or-bust guys who put up dud games can end your season. When three of your players stink in the same week, you’ll need three touchdowns from your tight end on Monday night to avoid getting chopped.

Draft Strategy No. 2: Avoid early bye weeks

In my experience, nothing contributes to getting chopped more than bye weeks to your best players. Having to bench a star player, without a suitable replacement, makes you a candidate to be chopped.

Compounding matters, early in the season with a lot of teams left alive, your roster is still pretty thin, so you can't easily fill the bye week holes.

So, don’t draft guys with early bye weeks unless you’re getting great value. And even then, don't draft many.

Our GuillotineLeague.com cheat sheet takes bye weeks (among several other factors) into account with our player rankings.

Related, don't take a lot of players with the same bye week. If you've got four starters with a Week 7 bye, you're in serious danger.

Draft Strategy No. 3: Rookies are dangerous

In a guillotine league, your first objective is to survive the early weeks of the season when your roster is thin.

Many rookies take two, three, or four months to become reliable starters. You'll be chopped before then.

Eschew rookies who don't have a clear path to early-season playing time, except as backups who you don't need to start.

Draft Strategy No. 4: Don't draft players from the same team

In a guillotine league, there's a lot of risk in taking multiple players from the same team (often called "stacking").

First, they've all got the same bye, a danger discussed in Strategy No. 2 above.

Second, if things go wrong for that team, like an injury to the team's quarterback, your suffering multiplies.

This is true even for one game! If the starting quarterback get knocked out in the first quarter, and you've got his receiver and tight end, you're going to spend the day shredding your fingernails to the quick.

If you follow these guidelines, you'll survive a couple potential chops over the course of the season and that's enough to give you a big advantage.

Our Guillotine League cheat sheet takes bye weeks (among several other factors) into account with our player rankings.

So, who to avoid?

A) Touchdown-dependent players. Players whose fantasy value is tied to touchdowns are incredibly dangerous any time they don't score. 

B) Rushing-dependent quarterbacks. To be clear, I'm not talking about elite quarterbacks who can both run and pass well. I'm talking about quarterbacks who primarily generate fantasy points through scrambling. What happens when a wobbly-armed quarterback doesn’t break off a long scramble or score a rushing touchdown? You’re in trouble.

C) Runners who can’t catch. Most of us (including this site) award points for receptions. Those points help balance out bad rushing games for runners. 

Each of these elements are factored into our exclusive Guillotine Danger Grade that we assign every player in our cheat sheets.