(Doc’s note: This year Jones and Drew (but not Maurice) are in a league together and will be talking about their strategy and moves pre-draft as well as during the season. This will be a gateway for discussion for the Razzball Universe.  So you’ll be able to see the same league from two separate perspectives and follow it through the whole season.  First we’ll take a look at Jones’ preparation.)

League: Tecmo Super Bowl Champions

Teams: 12

Positions: QB, RB x 2, WR x 2, TE, Flex x 2, K, Team Defense

Scoring: .5 PPR, 10 yards per point for rushing/receiving, 6 points for TD’s . 25 yards for passing, 4 points for TD’s, -2 for Int’s.

Keepers: Yes, 1 per team. Cost is the round where that player was drafted the previous season. Players can only be kept for one season.

Kept Players (by everyone): Andre Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Rice, Rashard Mendenhall, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Crabtree, Jonathan Stewart, LeSean McCoy, Shonn Greene, Jamaal Charles, Hakeem Nicks, Miles Austin

Draft Position: Pre-determined by last year’s standings.

Makeup of League: Degenerates. This is meant as a compliment in terms of Fantasy knowledge. The League is chalk full of highly skilled, competitive people.

I kept Ray Rice…shocker…and I am giving up a 5th round pick for him.  My strategy is to take a top tier receiver or a top tier QB.  Rogers has been kept by another player but if Brees falls to me at ten, I will take him without blinking.  In the second round I am almost assured that I will get Roddy White or Brandon Marshall.  In the third I will take Boldin if Jennings or Colston are gone.  I would consider taking Brady or Schaub in the third if I missed Brees to begin with depending on how watered down everything is at this point.  The rest of the draft follows my standard philosophies: don’t reach for players, a top WR is better than a top RB early in this years draft, and always wipe front to back.

Drafting from the Tenth Position in a 12 Team Standard League

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this but I have participated in close to 50 mock drafts so far this offseason (yes I have a full time job and yes I am married).  I have approached these drafts from all angles and draft positions.  I have punted quarterbacks and tight ends, and I have picked Aaron Rogers in the first and Dallas Clark in the third.  I have done all of these things and remarkably I have hated very few of these teams despite their myriad of make-ups (the drafts I have hated the most from the tenth position were those during which I punted quarterback).  The point is that many of you will have different strategies; the important thing is that you have a strategy.  I’m about to show you what I consider to be the best draft strategy from the tenth position in a 12 team league.

In its simplest terms, my strategy in any draft is to draft four sure fire studs in the first four rounds.  Therefore, in accordance to my philosophy I tend to stay away from guys likeRyan Mathews, Shonn Greene, Rashard Mendenhall and Jahvid Best early on.  This is NOT to say that I can’t understand why others don’t like these players.  They are all the only options on teams that will run the ball…a lot.  And it’s not to say I won’t draft Mathews, Greene, or Mendenhall in the second because everyone has a price.  But once again, I like to draft proven players with my most valuable picks and save my latter round picks for sleepers or players with upside.

In my opinion, you can punt every position in this year’s draft except wide receiver.  There are plenty of good tight ends (Zach Miller, Chris Cooley, and Germaine Gresham are all guys you can get late to very late); there are even plenty of good starting quarterbacks.  In most drafts I have been in Flacco, Ryan, Palmer, and McNabb have been on the board in the tenth round with the occasional addition of Kevin Kolb or Eli Manning.  There are also tons of great sleeper running backs that are almost certain to provide production.   Starting running backs you can easily get after the seventh round include Justin Forsett, Ahmad Bradshaw (getting first team reps and has more upside than Jacobs), Clinton Portis, Cadillac Williams, Jerome Harrison, and Arian Foster; and you can get great upside backs late such as Reggie Bush, Ben Tate, Montario Hardesty, and CJ Spiller.  The biggest mistake you can make, in my opinion, is to go with the popular rb, rb, rb your first three picks.  You need to snag a top level receiver early.

With the tenth pick I would take Randy Moss if he falls and Andre Johnson isn’t on the board.  If Moss is there I like to try to get a tier one QB in round two.  If Rodgers and Brees are gone, I will usually go for another WR unless some of those other running backs listed above have fallen (everyone has a price).  If Moss isn’t there in round 1 I tend to grab Aaron Rogers or Drew Brees.  As I said before, you will be staring the running backs listed above in the face at this point.  Some of you guys will go for one of those backs, but as I said before, I try to pick sure fire studs.  If you take a tier one QB you are pretty much guaranteed to get Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White, or Brandon Marshall in round two.  I like those guys in that order.  As I said before you need a top WR.  If you don’t have one, you will hate your team, either directly after the draft or after the third week in the season.  With the tenth pick in the third round you’re never quite sure what will be out there.  If Colston or Jennings are on the board, I take them without hesitation.  If they’re gone, I look to the running backs that are available.  If Grant somehow slips to that spot, take him.  I would also take Benson or Beanie Wells.  Some people like Pierre Thomas and LeSean McCoy.  I have an irrational hatred for both of them but they will both be there too and so will Jahvid Best who will tempt others but not me.  With an early pick in the fourth I have a hard time passing up Dallas Clark if he is still on the board.  If he’s not I take a look at the running backs and at Anquan Boldin who will most likely be gone.  A guy I really like this year is Joseph Addai in the fifth round.  It’s not a sexy pick but he is in a contract year and he will get his share of yards and touchdowns.  After the fourth I am satisfied if my team looks something like this: Aaron Rogers/Drew Brees, Randy Moss/Calvin Johnson, Marques Colston/Greg Jennings, Dallas Clark/Antonio Gates.  Once again, I am assured that I have four studs with which to build my team around and you would be hard pressed to find a team as good as this one after four rounds.

Many of you would be unsettled if you didn’t have a running back after four rounds but I challenge you to draft with a WR first strategy and try drafting some of these rb’s late to fill the gaps:  Justin Forsett (usually available in the 7th and great for ppr leagues), Ahmad Bradshaw (8th), Portis, Cadillac, Harrison (all starters).  There are certainly risks with some of these guys but there are just as many risks with the first round running backs.  The other day I picked up Felix Jones in the ninth round and I wrote on the message board that I couldn’t believe he fell that far.  Several people cited injury concerns to which I replied simply as: Peterson, Gore, Turner, Jackson, Greene.  See Tomlinson, Westbrook, and Portis last year who were round one picks in many leagues.  Once again you should notice a trend: running backs get injured, receivers get injured less often.

Here is an example of a random draft I did from the tenth position last week.  The players are arranged in the order they were drafted in (there were no autodrafters for the first six rounds).  I will state that this is in no way, shape, or form my best draft from this position but it is a good average indicator of what you can do here, even on an average day.  That being said, I would be pretty happy with this team going into week one:

1. Aaron Rodgers (GB – QB)
2. Larry Fitzgerald (Ari – WR)
3. Greg Jennings (GB – WR)
4. Dallas Clark (Ind – TE)
5. Knowshon Moreno (Den – RB)
6. Justin Forsett (Sea – RB)
7. Mike Wallace (Pit – WR)
8. Jerome Harrison (Cle – RB)
9. Carnell Williams (TB – RB)
10. Devin Aromashodu (Chi – WR)
11. Darren McFadden (Oak – RB)
12. Demaryius Thomas (Den – WR)
13. Toby Gerhart (Min – RB)
14. Miami (Mia – DEF)
15. Rian Lindell (Buf – K)

At the end of the day my team has arguably the best fantasy quarterback and tight end, one of the best receiving corps in the league, four starting running backs, one sleeper back (McFadden) one handcuff back, and two sleeper receivers. Here is another draft example from the same position.  Jennings and Colston weren’t available in the third:

1. Aaron Rodgers (GB – QB)
2. Calvin Johnson (Det – WR)
3. Cedric Benson (Cin – RB)
4. Dallas Clark (Ind – TE)
5. Mike Sims-Walker (Jac – WR)
6. Matt Forte (Chi – RB)
7. Malcom Floyd (SD – WR)
8. Justin Forsett (Sea – RB)
9. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG – RB)
10. Carnell Williams (TB – RB)
11. Santonio Holmes (NYJ – WR)
12. Ben Tate (Hou – RB)
13. Dexter McCluster (KC – WR,RB)
14. San Diego (SD – DEF)
15. Jeff Reed (Pit – K)

I have the same benefits as before with a slightly weaker receiving core but much stronger running game.

  1. Noobee says:
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    2nd year doing fantasy football. Did ok last year in a league where I made the playoffs but finished 4th of out 12. I might have just been lucky to do that well. Anywho, I’d like to do better and have it be more knowledge based rather than luck so that’s why I’m here.

    You like the 1st mock team or 2nd team you posted? ANd if ya have time, why?

  2. Broadstreetbrawler says:
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    I got a live draft upcoming in a few weeks, 2 rb 3 wr. 1 ppr league, 10 team league. I have the 4th overall pick, MJD and Andre will be there, am I crazy to skip MJD and take Andre? I know numerous people will be going wr/wr for round 1 and 2 (atleast 2 probably 3).

  3. Drew

    Drew says:
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    I am huge on Andre Johnson this season but it’s hard for me to advocate passing up on MJD in any format or situation. Look at it this way- by getting MJD you can take a QB and four WR’s in rounds 2-6 and you’d still end up solid at WR.

    My assumption is that you’re worried about injury. That’s a definite possibility; 50% of the first round RB’s each year are a total flop. If there’s a league setup to grab MJD, this is it with the 3 WR’s.

  4. T-BZA says:
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    Great piece, I agree w/ the strategy.

    Only thing is, say you play in a PPR AND .5 per carry league. Does the stud wideout still trump a guy like Benson or R.Grant who will grind out 15 – 20 carries a game in round 2?

    Say you have the 12th pick in a 14 teamer.

    WR is thin, but workhorse RBs are thin too. It’ll be draft momentum specific, but watching a legit 250 -300 carry guy go by might be dangerous in that format. Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance.

  5. Dakota says:
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    In a PPR league I have a tough time seeing Clark falling to the 4th round. I just did two non-PPR draft from position 10 and Clark went off the board with the 9th pick in the 3rd round both times. He’ll be getting a ton of targets and his catch percentage is outstanding (sit-down routes and check down throws will do that).

    And, T-BZA, in a 14 team league I put a little more premium on QB. If you’re taking 12th I’d probably target Rodgers/Brees/Manning and best WR available at 17 (e.g. Roddy White).

    I did however use your strategy of drafting stud QB and WRs first and then filling in with starting RBs. Turned out well enough. Here’s what I ended up with:

    1. Rodgers
    2. Reggie Wayne
    3. Steve Smith – Carolina (Colston, Jennings, Boldin and Steve Smith – NY all went in the 2nd or early 3rd)
    4. Lesean McCoy
    5. Justin Forsett
    6. Jeremy Maclin
    7. Mike Wallace
    8. Jerome Harrison
    9. Donald Brown
    10. Zach Miller
    11. Ben Roethlisberger
    12. Montario Hardesty (made my draft)
    13. Chaz Schilens
    14. Cinci Defense
    15. Rob Bironas

  6. Jones

    Jones says:
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    @T-BZA-Clearly a .5 per carry league will change your strategy dramatically. As stated earlier I think that everyone has a price. I wouldn’t pass up a workhorse running back if I could get him for value i.e. greene, mendenhall, Jackson or mathews in the second round. I will stick to my guns in that after the sixth round, you are really reaching to find good receivers. I’m high on some of these guys (Johnny Knox, Kenny Britt, Mike Wallace, even Jacoby Jones) but there’s no way to replace the elite level receivers. That you can only get in early rounds. You can still get starting running backs through the tenth round more often than not (Cadillac, Portis, Buffalo backfield).

  7. Jones

    Jones says:
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    @Dakota-Like your team. However, I’m not a big fan of Steve Smith CAR in the third round. I know you justified it but that is an instance when I may have checked out the running backs or even reached for a Dallas Clark who will rival any wideout in fantasy points.

  8. T-BZA says:
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    @Jones:

    Thanks for the insight, appreciate it!

  9. herschel says:
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    @Drew/Jones:

    I posted this on the previous entry for Doc, but curious about your thoughts as well.

    i have the 6th pick in a 12 team ppr league where ray rice is being kept (not by me). assuming top 5 in some order will be cj, ap, mjd, aj and gore. where does that leave me at 6? sjax (i had him last year, and although i know he has beast like tendencies, he can be painful to watch on stl), rodgers (too early for a qb here?), turner (too early in a ppr?), moss or fitz (headcase playing for a contract and solid wr with a new qb and loss of boldin), field (any wildcards?).

    thanks in advance.

  10. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @Herschel: Are QB passing touchdowns worth 6 points or 4 points? If they’re worth 6 then I don’t think it’s too early to make a move for Brees or Rodgers. My play here would be to go for Moss, however. He’s not gonna put Andre Johnson numbers but you’re getting 1,200 yards, 10+ TD’s, and 75+ catches with a possibility for more. I think Fitz with the injury concerns and questions at QB just isn’t as sure fire a bet at WR as Moss and early in the draft you’re looking for stability, not upside.

  11. herschel says:
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    @Drew: 4 pts for passing TDS with a small bonus for 300 yard games. Im not opposed to the idea of Moss (especially because Im a Pats fan), but wasnt sure if that was too early over a guy like SJax.

    Thanks.

  12. KVC

    cleaver596 says:
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    how much does this strategy change if the league is an auction instead of a snake draft? Our league is a 12 team PPR, 2 RB, 3 WR with 1 flex. I do like the idea of building a devastating WR base with as many lower tier and sleeper RB’s as possible. There are always lots of break out RB’s, if even for one game when they get a start. What pointers do you have and what guys do you target?

  13. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @herschel: I love SJax as much as anybody. He has a ton of talent and is a warrior. Reports are that he’s healthy in camp. The back surgery and the excessive burden he’s carried the last few years are going to scare me off this year, however. I mean if you go Moss first round it’s just a solid move. Some people might advocate grabbing Calvin Johnson instead because the ceiling is higher but so is the floor. Just make sure you go in to the draft with two or three guys you’d like to take at that spot because you never know what might happen.

  14. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @cleaver596: Auction Drafts don’t change anything about the strategy. In fact, it makes it easier. What I like to do is keep nominating stud RB’s that I don’t want in the beginning if I can. In an auction draft I’ll never end up with a RB better than LeSean McCoy or Jahvid Best unless I made a mistake somewhere.

  15. BMcP says:
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    Thanks for the insights – might want to steer clear of Ben Tate, though.

  16. Greg says:
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    “get Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White, or Brandon Marshall in round two. I like those guys in that order”

    –I agree with 95% of what you wrote in this piece. The key is to have a plan. Many ppl do not. But with regards to the above receivers I would list them in exactly the opposite order.

    Brandon Marshall is going to have a rock solid year in Miami and of those 4 receivers he has the highest upside potential

    Roddy White – I have the same un-natural hatred of him that you have for Mccoy…. but I have to admit i was wrong about him. He is a stone cold stud and Ryan is only going to get better in 2010.

    Larry Fitz – He falls HARd for me this year. Look at the first pre season game. Leinhart lead him into that hit. That is why he sprained his MCL. I know he is still Fitz but Leinhart is going to destroy him physically my continuing to lead him into horrible spots on the field.

    Calvin Johnson – I HONESTLY feel that he is living on his name from 2 years ago. I am starting to seriously doubt if he is legit. This will be his year to prove me right or wrong…that being said I would prefer to pass on him if possible.

  17. cbuck says:
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    I am in a 12 team 1 PPR Keeper League and this is the first year of keepers. I came in 3rd last year so I have the 10th pick in a standard draft this year (no snake). We are allowed up to 4 keepers and I plan on using all 4, I think. I wanted to know your opinion/ideas on what I should do here. I dont find out the other teams keepers until night before draft. My roster is as follows:

    * = who i think im keeping.

    rd1 chris johnson*
    rd2 calvin johnson*
    rd3 wes welker*
    rd4 tj whosyamama
    rd5 jay cutler
    rd6 greg olsen
    rd7 jonathan stewart
    rd8 bears d
    rd9 percy harvin
    rd10 willis mcgahee
    rd11 jerious norwood
    rd12 crabtree
    rd13 bironas
    rd14 vernon davis
    rd15 brett favre*

    Will Favre be woth is one more season at rd 15? or do i cut him and keep crabs or harvin? should i keep megatron or will he flounder yet again (having a great pre-season, stafford looks good.) I want to try to target Best or Spiller in rd 4-5. I think 4 will be a reach but I think people may reach for youth here. What do you think ? Thanks !!

    c buck.

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