Ladies and gentlemen, fantasy football is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!
People may say it is early, but not when you've been salivating with your new surefire technique to win your league this year. This is not a rankings list or a big board, Kbyars and myself are working on one of those as we speak. This is just a little guideline geared more towards rookies but it might have some good tips for any fantasy player.
In this post I want to focus on a few draft startegies, ways to manage your season, and then name a few pre-training camp sleepers I think have a chance to make an impact this year. So enjoy the work. More will follow.
Why it works: Using this strategy has many advantages. By following whichever list you select/compile, you ensure that you don’t overreach for a player due to a run on a particular position. In essence this allows you to maximize the talent you select why everybody else follows the runs. This gives you deep positions as well as trade bait to strengthen your weaker positions.
Why it doesn’t work: Following BPA is almost never possible in the later rounds. Even in the early rounds you might come across a situation that does not allow you to select a particular player because of an earlier pick. Let’s give an example.
Your top 10 looks a little like this;
In the first round you may select Aaron Rodgers and during your next selection have the choice of Drew Brees, Darren McFadden, and Larry Fitzgerald. If you follow BPA, you’d be stuck selecting Drew Brees even though Aaron Rodgers was your first selection. Sure you could try to trade him to someone to maximize your value but the guarantee of takers is never there. BPA has upside when it comes to deciphering who to take at a draft position based on similarly expected value from the player’s position but needs a dose of flexibility to be truly effective.
2 Stud RB’s in first 3 rounds:
Why it works: In fantasy football’s beginning days, this method was a necessity. The difference between QB 5 and QB 10 was slight whereas the difference between RB 5 and RB 10 could be a fantasy championship. In certain ways, this is even more prevalent now-a-days. Stud, heavy load carry, backs are fewer and farther in between than back then. Last year only 2 backs had more than 300 carries (MJD and Michael Turner) and while some of that was due to injury the reality is time shares are a more common theme in today’s NFL. You have specialty backs (short yardage, 3rd down, etc.) plus teams try to keep their studs fresher for that post season run. Getting a back that is an every down back is so rare in today’s NFL; getting 2 studs early could be the difference you need.
Why it doesn’t work: Put simply, evolution of the game. The NFL is a pass heavy league and QB’s are scoring at record paces…if they are studs. Last year we saw 3 QB’s pass for over 5000 yards and 3 QB’s eclipse 40 passing TD’s. Let’s take a look at some comparisons.
In a standard scoring league: Rushing Points- 10 rushing yards = 1 point, rushing TD = 6 points, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, receiving TD = 6 points
RB 1- Ray Rice, 296.8 points
RB 5- Marshawn Lynch, 219.6 points
RB 10- Darren Sproles, 185.3 points
The difference between the number 1 back and the number 5 back is 77.2 points or 4.83 points a week (running through week 16 of the season). From 5 to 10, the disparity is 34.3 or 2.14 points a week.
Passing Points- 25 yards = 1 point, passing TD = 4 points, 10 rushing yards = 1 point, rushing TD = 6 points
QB 1- Drew Brees, 417.64
QB 5- Matthew Stafford, 373.32
QB 10-Mark Sanchez, (yes him), 289.26
The difference between numbers 1 to 5 is 44.32 or 2.77 points a week. The difference between number 5 and number 10 is 84.06 or 5.25 points a week.
For this reason most drafts still have stud RB’s going early (1-4) but the depth is good enough that missing out on one of the top 10 guys, can be made up with a heavy laden RB draft in the later rounds. QB’s on the other hand are closer up top but after the top 5 guys, the pickings become slimmer.
Watching bye weeks/match-ups:
Why it works: If you are extremely knowledgeable about NFL teams individual tendencies, defenses ran, offenses ran, match-ups, and historical results, you can construct a draft strategy based upon a player’s upcoming schedule. Let’s give a hypothetical situation. The 2 players you are looking at are Shonn Greene and Steven Jackson. In almost all big board’s Steven Jackson is the better pick but you see he is facing the tough run defenses in the AFC North and NFC East as well as having to contend twice with SF, Sea, and Ari all top 15 run defenses all while running behind a bad o-line. Greene on the other hand is playing behind a great offensive line and faces the weaker run defenses from the AFC West and NFC South as well as the less than stellar run defenses fielded by NE, Buf, and Mia, twice. You choose Greene ahead of Jackson because of this. Greene also pairs better with your first running back, Darren McFadden, because McFadden’s bye week is week 6 and Greene’s is week 9. This way you field a competitive team even without your stud for a week.
Why it doesn’t work: You aren’t that knowledgeable. If you were you’d either be working in the industry (NFL, reporter, or even a writer for a fantasy magazine) or entering fantasy football tournaments to bring home the big money. You also wouldn’t have clicked on this post. More of this will be covered when I discuss some tips for playing your team but suffice it to say, this technique is risky and very hard to succeed with.
Why it works: This is the technique I am going to attempt to use this year. It is time consuming so depending on your devotion to fantasy football, you may not wish to use this technique. The first thing you do is draw up a top list for each position. I chose to go with a top 25 QB, top 30 RB, top 50 WR, top 20 TE, and top 15 team defense list. The next thing to do is grab two "professional mock drafts". This gives you a good baseline to start with. A "professional mock draft" usually consists of 12 teams and anywhere from 15 to 17 rounds. The next step is to construct a form (I chose an Excel spreadsheet since you can use the calculations average and rank and they will automatically fill in as you update) to get the average draft positions for each player. Following this baseline you construct a sheet listing players that you expect to be available at each position and then compare them to your personal rankings to target certain players. This way you can maximize your pick’s value and construct a formidable team. Let me give you an example. In this scenario I chose to go with the number 1 overall selection. This will give me picks, 1,24,25,48,49,72,73,96,97,etc. Let’s take a look at some players I expect to be available;
In this scenario I have chosen Shady with the number 1 pick. He is the top player on my big board and it gives me a stud RB to build my team around. Now let’s take a look at the 24th pick and who I expect to be available there. Based upon the mock drafts I have participated in or taken from the "professionals" I give a 2 player on each side of position 24 cushion and write down the names.
Average Draft Position
I also then peruse the average draft positions around this draft position and find 2 players from each position, compare them, and use the one ranked higher in the positional rank as my emergency picks.
I then make adjustments I need (in this case moving Hakeem Nicks in place of Victor Cruz) and then decide how important each position/player is to me in that round. In this case I feel comfortable getting a later TE if need be, whereas getting 2 stud WR’s to pair with my stud RB would be great.
My final list looks something like this.
I now have a general basis of what I can expect to be available at a particular draft position and can plan for the next rounds accordingly. In this case I can see that with the possibility of getting 2 top receivers and already having acquired a top RB, my next focus should be on a top QB or a top 2nd RB. The other great thing about this technique is the ability to adapt. For example say when your draft position arrives a player you weren’t expecting to be available has fallen into your lap. Selecting him won’t completely throw you off your game plan. Since you have such a wide array of expected possible picks at each draft position, adjusting on the fly is easy. So how well does this work? Keep in mind the list above.
Using this technique I ran 5 mock drafts on yahoo. These are my 24th and 25th selections;
Mock 1: Greg Jennings, Wes Welker (still available from list: AJ Green, Hakeem Nicks, Michael Turner)
Mock 2: Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks (still available: AJ Green, Michael Turner)
Mock 3: Roddy White (who is my #3 WR), Greg Jennings (still available: Wes Welker, AJ Green, Hakeem Nicks, Michael Turner)
Mock 4: Roddy White, Greg Jennings (still available: Wes Welker, AJ Green, Hakeem Nicks, Michael Turner)
Mock 5: Andre Johnson (my #5 WR), Wes Welker (still available: Victor Cruz, AJ Green, Michael Turner, Hakeem Nicks)
The accuracy in these rounds of my projected and my actual available was remarkable and I have high hopes for this technique.
Why it doesn’t work: This could not work for any number of reasons. Like I said it is very time consuming and this strategy is not something that can be closely followed for a little and then just tossed aside. You have to stay up on it for it to truly work. Another fault could be your personal rankings might suck. Sure you may think DeSean Jackson is a top 10 WR and worthy of a 2nd round pick but the majority of your opponents doesn’t. So far I have DeSean as my number 24 receiver and his ADP is 54. If you are dead set on his top 10 ranking you may draft him number 24 overall (in this case 30 spots too early) and miss out on better talent.
Another short coming could be in the ADP. Say in 5 mock drafts DeSean is drafted at 52, 53, 54, 54, and 57. His average for those 5 would be, 54. Now let’s say in the 6th mock someone who has a hard on for DeSean drafts him with pick 16, his new ADP is now 39. That’s a whole round earlier and could cost you some serious talent. A prime example of this has actually been happening to me in the form of one Willis McGahee.
According to my ADP calculations Willis’ draft position is 77. However upon further review of his draft positions through the various mocks I find one abnormality. 77, 81, 77, 94, 99, 45. The 45th selection skews the average big time. Without 45 his ADP is 86, that’s a whole round difference! I noticed this when in 4 of my 5 mock drafts I got McGahee with selections 96 (which I thought was the abnormality) 72, 73, and 72. In the one mock where I bypassed him McGahee’s draft position was 95. You can correct this by constructing a formula to ignore the lowest or highest number. Still if you miss this, as I obviously did, all your data could be faulty leading to a poor draft.
So there you have it, some of the more common draft strategies deployed on draft day. If you’re a novice to fantasy football I would suggest a BPA approach. Let someone else do the work because they have been doing it for a longer time and will get you the best results. However if you have been playing for some time now (going into year 10 for me) try one of the other techniques if your current technique hasn’t been yielding the results you want. You can always switch back if you do worse or don’t like the results.
Managing your fantasy team during the season
Okay so you now have drafted your all-star fantasy team but feel you still need an extra edge to ensure your run to a championship. Here are simple tips to follow that could earn you, your leagues championship.
1) Play your studs: It’s as simple as that. Some people over think things and get nervous when they see their top RB going against the number 1 defense in the league. That bench player, playing against the number 29 defense looks pretty promising. Stop! Studs perform because they are better than other people at their position. Play him at all costs and know that his talent level is going to be the deciding factor. A caveat to this is if you have 2 similar players in talent level. Say BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. the Steelers or Shonn Greene vs. the Rams. Go with Greene.
2)Be patient young Skywalker: Oh no, ray Rice has only put up 238 yards and 1 TD through 4 games! I have CJ Spiller on the bench and he has 512 yards and 3 TD’s over the same period. I have to play him. Stop! Ray Rice is the number 1, 2, or 3 pick this year for a reason. In the long run his stats are going to even out and jumping ship is going to leave you with a top talent on the bench when he finally explodes. Let him play and be happy that over the next 12 games he is going to explode for 1100 yards and 9 TD’s.
3) Watch the waiver wire: Raise your hand if you took Victor Cruz in your draft last year knowing he was destined for a breakout season… You’re a liar or have the sports almanac from Back to the Future II. Most likely if you had Victor Cruz on your team it is because you were quick to act and see how explosive he was and snatch him off the waiver wire. Every year an unknown comes out of nowhere to fill in for an injured star or just makes the most of his opportunity and explodes onto the league. Waiver wire pickups are a primary key to a championship season and can turn your good team into a dominating force.
4) Play your primetime players: News flash, football players have ego’s and nothing feeds that ego like a Thursday, Sunday night or Monday night football game in front of a national audience. Your star players are better and your bubble players turn in star performances. Use that to your advantage when weighing who to start.
5) Sell High, Buy Low: This rule has been repeated over and over. Trades to improve your team aren’t a necessity but they can add that extra push you need. Sure, few people are going to trade you a disappointing Drew Brees for a high flying Ahmad Bradshaw but someone might be willing to part with a struggling Matt Schaub. Most players, barring an injury, are going to get their stats and Schaub is a 4000 yard, 25 TD QB when he is healthy. So make that move and strengthen your weakest position. That’s how you win championships.
A Couple of Sleepers
Okay Guys so as a final addition to this piece I wanted to give you guys some of my top sleepers to either draft or follow closely on the waiver wire.
Jake Locker, Ten: He may not begin the season as the starter but he will probably see the reigns by at least week 6. Locker had some good flashes last year and he has some nice weapons surrounding him in the form of Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Jared Cook and Chris Johnson. He can get you points with his rushing and although he will probably throw some interceptions, accuracy has been one of his biggest criticisms; he should throw about an equal amount of TD’s. He can be a good fill in and match up start and he could be had in the 14th or 15th round of your basic fantasy league.
Prediction: 3100 passing yards; 14 Td’s, 16 Int’s, 400 rushing yards, 3 TD’s
Other QB’s to watch:
Chad Henne, Jac- He was abysmal in Miami but could beat out Gabbert for a starting spot at some point.
RB- Ryan Williams, Ari: Without his injury, Beanie Wells would’ve never got the chance to put up the season he had. It’s because Williams is better. They will most likely start out in a split situation but be it an injury, bad performance from Beanie, or just because he shows he is better I think Williams will be the lead back by years end. Caution though, he does have an injury history. You can probably get him in the 14th round or later, possibly even from the waiver wire.
Prediction: 780 rushing yards; 6 TD’s, 30 receptions; 320 receiving yards, 1 TD
Other RB’s to watch:
Dan Herron, Cin: He’s got a lot of hurdles and I have no real clear reason to have interest in him other than a gut feeling. Not draftable but watchable.
Davone Bess, Mia: Someone in Miami is going to have to catch the ball now that Marshall is gone but the question is who. The two front runners look to be Brian Hartline and Bess. Hartline will get you the big plays but Bess is the consistent one so I like his chances better.
Prediction: 88 receptions; 1050 receiving yards, 6 TD’s
Other WR’s to watch:
Alshon Jeffery, Chi: I think he’ll contribute immediately opposite of Marshall and will be given serious consideration for offensive rookie of the year.
Lance Moore, NO: Moves into prime real estate now that Meachem is gone. He was already a 600 yard receiver with Meachem there so adding another 200 or 400 yards seems likely.
Mike Williams, TB: The addition of Vincent Jackson helps Williams out tremendously. He’ll no longer be the focus of defensive pass protection game plans and with the talent he showed his rookie year, a nice bounce back could occur.
Lance Kendricks, STL: Highly overvalued last year Kendricks was crap to say the least but to be fair the whole damn STL offense was crap. He is now an afterthought and makes for a perfect player to watch. Fisher knows how to get his TE’s involved in the offense and we might see some of that hype that Kendricks had last year. Prediction: 50 receptions; 750 receiving yards, 6 TD’s
So there you have it. A little discussion topic pertaining to our favorite time stealing actvity. Consider this an open fantasy forum and when Kbyars and I get our big board done more fantasy mayhem shall ensue. Good luck in your championship quests!