League: Tecmo Super Bowl Champions
Positions: QB, RB x 2, WR x 2, TE, Flex x 2, K, Team Defense
Scoring: ½ 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, Jonathon 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 stole Andre Johnson in the 2nd round last year thanks to some reaching for QB’s that went on in the 1st round. I feel good having him as a Keeper. I will be giving up an early round pick but there is a ton of differential between him and the next best dudes at receiver; more than in any other position in football this year.
I will be drafting from the 9 spot. Given the Keeper situation, I see three options: Grab an upside RB with question marks, a 2nd Tier receiver, or possibly a 1st tier quarterback. I’m not a big fan of question marks early on (i.e. Westbrook, Forte, and LT from ’09) so I don’t see myself going RB. Brees or Manning would be very tempting but they’ll probably both be taken. My preference would be to go for a receiver along the lines of Calvin Johnson, Marshall, or Roddy White. It would put me in a difficult position later on at Running Back but that’s my MO anyway. In the first three rounds I’m looking to pick receivers in two of them and out of the first five rounds I like to go receiver in three of them. We’ll see how this particular draft plays out.
So beyond just this league in general, let’s talk a little bit about draft strategy in a standard non Keeper PPR 12 team league. This is the most common format out there and always a good lens through which to analyze the Fantasy landscape.
I hate even writing about round one because it encourages the obsession people in Fantasy Land have with it. All you’re looking to do is solidify your team and not draft players who could bury your team. I get in to the argument all the time about Michael Turner, Frank Gore, Mendenhall, and Ryan Mathews. I’m not saying those guys won’t be studs; half of them will. But if you take one of them realize that you’re playing a dangerous game and there’s a 50% chance your first round pick will blow up in your face.
Pick 5 or later: Andre Johnson then Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Calvin Johnson. All those WR’s won’t be gone in round 1 (in fact, I’d be shocked if you missed out on Moss). If for some reason they are, grab Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers.
Round 2 and Beyond
If you don’t get a WR in the first round, you have to go WR in the second. If you did take a WR, I would go ahead and grab another one unless there’s someone else at RB or QB you’re dying to take. I think the best value in terms of RB is DeAngelo Williams at 15. He’s the only RB I can see myself taking in the 2nd round later on.
In terms of filling your team, don’t ever pass up value just to take a position you “need.” For example, let’s say you don’t have TE yet and Kellen Winslow’s there in the 7th round but so is Bradshaw. I’m taking Bradshaw all day there and rolling the dice the Winslow will fall back the next round. If not, you have plenty of decent TE’s later on in the draft. Sometimes you’re going to end up being weak at TE but that won’t hurt you nearly as much as other places.
Necessary Knowledge for WR Hoarders
Ironically, advocating a WR lean on drafting strategy requires me to be more knowledgeable about RB’s in order to stave off weakness. My argument for all of this is that setting up your team in such a way creates an environment in which you’re much more likely to end up with the huge Sleepers. Here’s why:
If I stack myself up with 4 solid WR’s and a good QB, there’s no reason to draft backups or stash Sleepers at those positions. This is something I talked about exclusively in a column called “Ditch the Snuggie” last season. When you look at the bench of one of my teams, you’ll rarely see anything except RB’s on the bench. By the middle rounds I’ll solidify myself everywhere but RB. Starting then you might see me take a RB with my next 10 picks IN A ROW.
I am going to be dropping “Sleeper Math: Draft Edition.” What I’ll include there is a list of my “running back pool.” This is a list of players that I plan on targeting from the middle to late rounds in every single draft this year. If you share the same philosophy on being strong at WR and shoring up TE and QB early this will be particularly useful to you.
Alright so it’s time to put all this talk in to action. One of Jones’ favorite terms is “Champ Stamp” and I would apply that label to both of these. Both were done on Yahoo in 12 Team format with mostly all live drafters. I am not expecting my real drafts to be this easy but I think the general strategy will show itself.
Example Mock Draft 1
I put myself in 6th position here which is, I believe, the best place to draft from this year as long as Andre Johnson falls to you. Going in my strategy was to hope AJ falls then grab another stud WR in the second round unless Brees or DeAngelo Williams somehow fall back. From there the playbook is pretty much the same every time.
1. Andre Johnson (Hou – WR)
2. Calvin Johnson (Det – WR)
3. Marques Colston (NO – WR)
4. Philip Rivers (SD – QB)
5. Jermichael Finley (GB – TE)
6. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG – RB)
7. Matt Forte (Chi – RB)
8. Felix Jones (Dal – RB)
9. Michael Bush (Oak – RB)
10. Kenny Britt (Ten – WR)
11. Donald Brown (Ind – RB)
12. Tashard Choice (Dal – RB)
13. Tim Hightower (Ari – RB)
14. Josh Scobee (Jac – K)
15. Arizona (Ari – DEF)
After taking AJ, Calvin, and Colston in the first three rounds I was nervous about getting thinned out at the other positions. Even for me, taking 3 WR’s in a row is a bold move. I knew that I wanted to get TE and QB out of the way so I could start scooping up my RB’s and was more than happy to see Rivers in the 4th. Finley was solid value in round 5. I can’t believe that I landed Bradshaw, Forte, Jones, and Michael Bush in rounds 6-9. All four of those players have question marks but tons of upside and I’m more than happy to fill my roster full of them. The only guy I’m not crazy about here is Hightower because he’s just sort of a Chester Taylor type; the ceiling and floor on him too close together for my liking. If I had to do it over again I’d have grabbed someone else. I love this team but am not delusional enough to think I have a chance of ending up with it “in real life.”
Example Mock Draft 2
So here we go from the #2 spot. I knew I was taking MJD because I just like his durability more than AP and his role is much more solidified than Ray Rice’s. I could’ve almost written down the team I’d end up with drafting from here because I’ll go WR-WR in rounds 2-3 all day. Alright let’s see what happened.
1 .Maurice Jones-Drew (Jac – RB)
2. Brandon Marshall (Mia – WR)
3. Greg Jennings (GB – WR)
4. Jahvid Best (Det – RB)
5. Jeremy Maclin (Phi – WR)
6. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG – RB)
7. Jay Cutler (Chi – QB)
8. Jerome Harrison (Cle – RB)
9. C.J. Spiller (Buf – RB)
10. Zach Miller (Oak – TE)
11. Eddie Royal (Den – WR)
12. Donald Brown (Ind – RB)
13. Tashard Choice (Dal – RB)
14. Josh Scobee (Jac – K)
15. Arizona (Ari – DEF)
Champing and Stamping, Stamping and Champing. Here’s another draft that I would be ecstatic to end up with. Surprised to see Marshall fall to me at 25 and it only took me about ½ second to make this pick. A few picks later I’m slobbering over Greg Jennings. Somehow I get Jahvid Best in the 4th but from there the gifts stop falling. I was extremely happy with the value I was able to get in each round. Ultimately I netted a starting lineup that’d be good enough to compete with any team plus boat loads of upside to boot.
Hopefully this has shed some light on my thought process going in to drafts. I think that it is important to have a philosophy and to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and pitfalls of your style. I look forward to sharing and critiquing the draft in this league with my illustrious colleague.