What is a snake draft? Rules, how it works, strategies, and more

What are the basic rules of a snake draft as well as some strategies fantasy managers can implement in dynasty startups?

In my previous article covering dynasty startup draft strategies, I focused primarily on the different objectives you can have in a startup. Punt Year 1. Win-now mode. Or a hybrid approach. Today, we’re going to dive into more specific startup strategies for snake drafts, while also covering basic rules for those just getting into fantasy football.

What is a snake draft?

I’m sure most, if not all of you reading this know what a snake draft is. However, let’s be cognizant of the rapidly growing fantasy football player base. Remember, there was a point in time where you and I didn’t know what a snake draft was, either.

In a snake draft, each team has one pick per round and the picks go in a specific predetermined order. After a round is over, the following round is in the reverse order of the previous round. For example, if you pick first in an odd-numbered round, then you pick last in the even-numbered rounds.

Dynasty startup snake draft strategies

Whether you’re punting the first season, trying to win now, or going for a hybrid approach, how you construct your roster is extremely important. Here are a couple of common draft strategies for dynasty startup snake drafts.

Hero RB (also known as Anchor RB or Single RB)

I’m starting with my favorite strategy and one I find you can consistently execute under the rules of a snake draft. Hero RB, which is known by many different monikers, is exactly what it sounds like. You take one running back in the first or second round and then ignore the position until the later rounds.

The goal of Hero RB is to have your backfield anchored by a stud running back. For your RB2 spot, you will draft a medley of later-round guys and figure it out along the way.

With Hero RB, the goal is for your lone elite running back to carry your backfield while your ability to go heavy on wide receivers in the middle rounds gives you an advantage at that position.

Your plan should be to draft five wide receivers before you take your second running back. You can even grab a quarterback, tight end, or both before your second running back as well.

Zero RB

Zero RB is basically the same as Hero RB, except without the hero. I’m not a fan of Zero RB in redraft leagues, but it’s a much more plausible strategy in dynasty startups, especially if you plan on punting Year 1.

Wide receivers stay at the top longer than running backs. By utilizing a Zero RB approach, you can load up your roster with wide receivers and then focus on adding running backs the following season.

Since running backs produce at elite levels quicker than wide receivers, you can fix your RB problem a lot easier than you could if you had elite running backs but really needed wide receivers to contribute immediately.

If you’re looking to implement a Zero RB strategy in your dynasty startup draft, you need to ensure a significant edge at the other positions. Take five wide receivers, a tight end, and a quarterback before your first running back.

Robust RB

The Robust RB strategy involves going heavy on running backs. But it doesn’t mean to ignore wide receiver altogether. The goal is to build a strong foundation of running backs. If you implement a Robust RB strategy, you’ll want to draft at least three running backs in the first five founds.

This is a much more viable strategy if your plan is to compete immediately. Since running backs have shorter shelf lives, but produce quicker, going Robust RB could be an advantageous contrarian approach in a startup where most managers are pounding WR and looking to build for the future.

Zero WR

One of the least common strategies — but still viable — is Zero WR. It’s rare to see this in redraft leagues, which is where it’s more viable. In dynasty startups, it’s extremely uncommon, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

As you may have deduced, Zero WR is the same as Zero RB, except the positions are flipped. Using the Zero WR approach, you won’t be drafting any wide receivers in at least the first five rounds. Instead, you will take three running backs, a quarterback, and a tight end. You may take four or even five running backs before your first wide receiver.

I would not recommend a Zero WR approach absent very specific circumstances where RB value keeps falling to you and your fellow managers are extra heavy on wide receivers.

Which strategy should you implement in your dynasty startup?

It’s always important to have a plan. You should never go into any draft unprepared. With that said, here’s a quote you will surely find in more than one of my articles regarding planning for any fantasy draft.

Leonard Snart’s four rules of planning: 1) Make the plan, 2) Execute the plan, 3) Expect the plan to go off the rails, 4) Throw away the plan.

How does this help you in fantasy drafts? The point is to always be prepared to adapt. You may enter your dynasty startup draft planning to go Hero RB. After drafting your elite RB1 in the first round, you’re all set to start loading up on wide receivers. Then, something unexpected happens. Everyone else went heavy on WRs and at your second-round pick remains a first-round RB.

Do not make a suboptimal pick purely to stick to a predetermined strategy. Always be willing to adjust your plan on the fly based on how the draft is playing out.

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