In almost every area of life, backups can be very useful.
Backing up your files on your computer will be a life saver if your computer ever crashes and wipes its own memory.
Backing up your arguments with facts is a key component of being a worthwhile writer, debater, or generally informed individual.
Backing up your car while looking over your shoulder out the back window will prevent you from running into any other cars, people, or objects.
Backing “that thang” up will get you in the top 100 Billboard songs of 1999 if you’re a rapper named Juvenile.
But there are four things you should never, ever backup if you’re in a 12 or fewer team fantasy football league: Your top-12 quarterback, your top-12 tight end, your kicker and your defense.
Learning from History
2012 was the year of the quarterback. Take quarterbacks early and often seemed to be the motto, so you may have found yourself with Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers on your team last season.
But what would have happened if you had declined to back up your stud fantasy passer, and drafted from another position?
Andy Dalton was selected, on average, with the 137th pick in fantasy drafts on MyFantasyLeague.com last year, when filtering out players taken in less than half of 12 team leagues.
Going fewer than 10 spots later than Dalton - a backup on many teams - was Randall Cobb. If you took Dalton to backup Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan or Cam Newton, you might have missed out on one of the values at wide receiver last season.
That sucked, eh?
Switching to another ADP source, we find that C.J. Spiller was going with pick 9.03 in Fantasy Football Calculator mock drafts leading up to the start of the 2012 season. That’s only two spots higher than Matt Schaub, who you also may have selected as a backup.
And if you picked Schaub instead, you missed out on a huge chance at getting an upside running back who panned out in a major way.
That didn’t work out so well, did it?
Too Much Depth to Waste Time With Backups
Last season, if you needed a backup quarterback, chances are you could have found one on the waiver wire. Josh Freeman, who was largely undrafted or taken as a late flier and dropped, finished as the 13th-best quarterback, with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Christian Ponder, Ryan Tannehill, and Colin Kaepernick all providing varying degrees of value.
This year will be no different, with numberFire’s projections predicting a huge batch of quarterbacks within 20 points of each other, as quarterbacks ranked 19th through 25th having very similar projected outcomes.
So why spend a draft pick on any of them, especially when your 10- or 12-team league will likely see at least two or three of these players on the waiver wide?
The same can be said about tight ends. The ones ranked 14 through 20 are only 12 points apart in the numberFire projections, with high-upside sleepers Dwayne Allen, Tyler Eifert, and Zach Sudfeld all falling even lower than 20th.
Kickers and defenses are even more useless positions for which to draft backups. In fact, taking a kicker or defense outside of the bottom two rounds is foolish.
By now, you’ve seen mock and real drafts with Seattle and San Francisco’s defense going in the single-digit rounds. Our projections think this strategy is bonkers, as neither Seattle or San Fran's D/ST are in the top 6 at the position. And defenses 11 (which is actually Seattle) and 25 are only 20 points apart in their season projections.
Don’t waste early picks on defenses, kids.
The same goes for kickers. Kickers 1 through 23 are within 20 points in our projections. There is no kicker worth a pick outside of the very last round. Period. Unless you’re in a 32-team league and don’t want to be stuck with the Jets kicker, you can - and will - make a mistake by taking a kicker before the final round.
Who You Might Miss in 2013 by Drafting Backups Too Early
This season in 12-plus-team leagues, fantasy football players are taking backup quarterbacks in the 9th round and backup tight ends in the 11th, according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP data.
Let’s take a look at some of the great depth players you’ll miss out on by taking a backup quarterback or tight end in the late rounds this year.
Bilal Powell, who is likely to get a ton of work with the New York Jets behind the frail Chris Ivory, is being selected in the 12th round. So before you take Tyler Eifert to backup Jason Witten, you should really consider taking a running back with a decent offensive line in front of him who has a path to playing time.
Likewise, Joique Bell is a 13th-round pick in PPR mock drafts at Fantasy Football Calculator. So instead of grabbing Josh Freeman to backup Aaron Rodgers, you could get a running back who could catch 50 passes as a part-time player, and a potential PPR stud if Reggie Bush gets hurt.
Mike Williams is a 9th-round pick, and is being taken alongside Big Ben and Mike Vick in that round. So instead of a backup passer you may use just once, use this pick to grab a wide receiver who could get 1,000 yards and 10 scores in a vertical passing offense.
You’ll still have your choice of Alex Smith, EJ Manuel, Brandon Weeden and others on the waiver wire to back up your quarterback, and your options at tight end, kicker, and defense are even more plentiful. So don’t waste draft picks backing up these positions, and instead built a bench full of depth your leaguemates will envy (and want to trade for).