Razzbowl Guidebook

Welcome, welcome, welcome! If I say it three times into the mirror, the Fantasyman comes and gives me Dalvin Cook at 1.12. There’s not even a supernatural catch! ENYWHEY. Welcome to the 2021 RazzBowl, which was voted by the Razzball staff to be “The Most Important Industry/Fan Better Ball Cutline Season-Long Fantasy Football Tournament” three years running! But maybe you’re thinking, “I’m one of those ‘industry’ folx who just has a schtick and doesn’t have any real imaginary football cred,” or you’re thinking, “I’m just a fan — it’s time to seize the day!” Wherever you land in the scope of imaginary football management, I’m here to point you in the right direction to help your draft, help your in-season play experience, and level up your game to the metaphorical “next level.” Meet me after the jump and I’ll give you everything you need to know to succeed! 

The Draft

I know you all want to know the draft secrets, so let’s get that out of the way, shall we? Last year, I made an in-depth 2020 RazzBowl Guidebook that gave managers all the tips and tricks that the Razzfolx had learned through intense study of astrological signs. That guidebook was made with painstaking evaluation of league-by-league data, where I came to the conclusion that Robust RB and Balanced teams performed the best over the RazzBowl format (as well as NFC Cutline and other best ball formats). And if you don’t trust me, then trust the folx over at 4for4 Football and Establish the Run, whose articles I detailed in their respective studies of Underdog and FFPC best ball tournaments in my 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Guide.

In other words, we’re doing metastudies of multiple best ball formats and looking at past historical RazzBowl data, and we’re confident in making this statement: draft a balanced team. If you’re going to go with a specific strategy, lean towards Robust RB, which asks managers to draft about 3 running backs within the first 6 rounds. The Robust RB strategy helped Mike Beers win the 2019 RazzBowl, when his league gifted him Dalvin Cook at the lowest draft point seen in the entire RazzBowl and likely the entire NFC Cutline Tournament environment.

In 2020, we saw balanced teams overwhelmingly dominate the RazzBowl and Cutline tournaments (they’re very similar in structure, so we can compare them). Here are the results of the tournament winners from 2020: 

NFC Cutline NFC Cutline RazzBowl Main RazzBowl Main
RazzBowl Qualifier
RazzBowl Qualifier
R1-7 Alvin Kamara R1-6 Dalvin Cook R1-6 Davante Adams
R2-4 Joe Mixon R2-7 Davante Adams R2-7 Travis Kelce
R3-7 Calvin Ridley R3-6 Melvin Gordon R3-6 Kenny Golladay
R4-4 A.J. Brown R4-7 Adam Thielen R4-7 Melvin Gordon
R5-7 Raheem Mostert R5-6 Terry McLaurin R5-6
R6-4 Darren Waller R6-7 Deshaun Watson R6-7
R7-7 Stefon Diggs R7-6 Hunter Henry R7-6 Jarvis Landry
R8-4 Marvin Jones R8-7 Brandin Cooks R8-7 Rob Gronkowski
R9-7 Zack Moss R9-6 Matt Breida R9-6 Josh Allen
R10-4 Josh Allen R10-7 Anthony Miller R10-7 Sammy Watkins
R11-7 Justin Jefferson R11-6 Jalen Reagor R11-6 Baker Mayfield
R12-4 Antonio Gibson R12-7 T.J. Hockenson R12-7 Brandon Aiyuk

Want the quick takeaway? All of the teams were balanced by round 10. All of them drafted at least 2 RB by round 5. How about some more info? Let’s break down those drafts for y’all!

NFC Cutline: 

  • The winning team took a classic Robust RB approach, drafting Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, and Raheem Mostert in the first 5 rounds. “But Blair!” you shout, spilling your Kool-Aid Sangria, “those guys were super-injured!” Indeed, they were, and it shows how even a tough start (Joe Mixon missed most of 2020) can be overcome. The critical piece to understand here is Value Over Replacement: Mixon’s replacement (generally Giovanni Bernard) didn’t provide significant value to turn the tide in favor of other managers. Meanwhile, the NFC Cutline champ went heavy on PPR-wonders, grabbing A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, Darren Waller, Justin Jefferson, and Josh Allen. But! More importantly, you’ll notice that the NFC Cutline champ had a balanced roster by round 12, taking 5RB, 5WR, 1 TE, and 1 QB. He targeted a value QB (can you believe people were off Josh Allen last year?) and several value WR (Stefon Diggs moved teams, Justin Jefferson was a rookie, etc). So, this winning roster targeted position volume among the highly volatile positions (RB and WR) while going thin (yet smart) at TE and QB in the early rounds. 

RazzBowl Main Event: 

  • Jerry Janiga edged out some fierce competition with a roster that highlighted a balanced start (2RB/3WR/1QB/1 TE by round 7) and demonstrated the power of a good start. With Dalvin Cook and Davante Adams, Janiga secured a huge floor and ceiling to start, and then he secured Melvin Gordon in the 3rd round (Gordon later missed time due to a DUI infraction). Janiga continued to focus on high-upside players who came from rough 2019 situations (Adam Thielen was injured, and F1 was a rookie on an awful WAS team). We can see that Janiga’s roster composition was pretty similar to the NFC Cutline winner; Janiga took 6 WR, 3 RB, and 2 TE, however. 

RazzBowl Qualifier: 

  • Razzball reader Daniel Dykstra took home the qualifier championship behind a rare inverted Robust RB construction. Dykstra took 3 receivers to start (Adams, Kelce, Golladay), followed by another 3 RB (Gordon, Montgomery, Mostert). Expanding out a few rounds, we can see that Dykstra balanced his roster quickly, grabbing a TE and 2 QBs before his 12th round. Dykstra was in my qualifier league draft room, and to be fair, I’ve rarely seen a roster construction like this in action. It required Dykastra to take Adams slightly ahead of ADP and hope for Kelce to fall a bit. He then relied on RBs who were the RB1 on their team, albeit with somewhat lower upside than typical round 1-2 RBs (DEN had a bad offense, CHI had Tarik Cohen slotted for a 40% market share before injury, and SF was supposed to be a bit more pass-heavy until Jimmy G got injured). 

The 2021 RazzBowl Takeaway:

Let’s get some points in here to help you with your draft, whether it be the Main Event or the Qualifier: 

Draft a Balanced Team: 

  • I go over this in my 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Guide. If you choose to do one of the ballyhooed “Zero RB” teams, know that you’re looking at a massive disadvantage and playing suboptimally. Zero RB teams (which tend to draft no RBs before round 5, or even later) are not represented among most industry league champions. Zero RB constructions can win, but they’re much less likely to win compared to a balanced team. More problematically, going Zero RB can gift excellent rushers to the Sharks, which resulted in Mike Beers dominating the 2019 competition behind a combo of Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Derrick Henry

Talk to the Community: 

  • Get a Twitter chat going with your league. Use the hashtag #RazzBowl when discussing it on Twitter. If you want to find everybody on Twitter who is in the Main Event, use this Twitter List. Have questions about the tournament? Then hit up one of the Razzball Football Writers either in the comments or on Twitter. 

Research: 

  • I know I’m biased, but Rudy Gamble has — and I kid you not — the best value on Fantasy Football tools in the industry. He was ranked as the top aggressive ranker by FantasyPros from 2017-2019, and you can get access to his projection tools for $1 a week. Sign up for the Fantasy Football Tools here. If you want DFS tools, he’s got that as well, and I’m a huge fan of the lineup generator (which came a Joe Mixon FLEX spot away from predicting the Millionaire Maker last year). Personally, I love that Rudy lets you download the tools as a CSV, and then I import those into my own Google Sheets homebrew, where I can play around with the data as I like. Rudy builds the house, and I decorate it in my own fashion. Also, supporting the site with a membership helps keep all of us doing this [waves hands around] and shows us that you care. If you’re not in a financial place for a membership, then help us out by leaving comments, sharing posts on social media, and being part of the community. We’re more interested in having you as a friend than a customer! Although, our customers are usually our friends, too. 

Research, Part 2: 

  • The key to winning fantasy football is choosing players that get snaps and get quality yardage from those snaps. Pretty easy, eh? Well, it’s remarkably hard to find that kind of data on most sites, but not Razzball! Rudy’s got your depth charts, projections, and usage stats for free when you search a player or click on their name. Seriously, did I mention that there’s no site that provides more data for free than Razzball? And it’s essential stuff, too. Take a look at Keenan Allen’s player page. If you want to go there, just click the hyperlink on his name or use the search bar. What happens if Allen gets hurt? Who slots in as the new WR2 in the pass-heavy Chargers offense? Why, look no further than Rudy’s depth charts for your answer!

Keenan Allen Player Page

ADP is a Trap: 

  • We’re drafting very early in the year, where many industry leagues have non-standard scoring rules and we don’t know the playing time of a number of players (and the pre-season injuries haven’t even started yet!). So, ADP is all-messed up. That’s fine, ADP is a trap and isn’t helpful in drafting a team. Did Mike Beers expect to get Dalvin Cook at the lowest draft pick in 2019? Nope. Should he have? Nope. You can see even in the RazzBowl Main Event/Qualifier from 2020 that Davante Adams went a full round difference between the champions. But Adams was on both teams. Did it matter where Adams went? Not really. If you have a roster construction in mind, you should chase it. Here’s the salient RazzBowl ADP data from 2020; you can see the crowd was rather “sharp” on knowing where to hype players and where to fade players…except for Jonathan Taylor, where the RazzBowl crowd got it totally wrong! 

Have Fun!

Steve Paulo (who you may know from the RazzSlam articles) will be taking over the weekly RazzBowl updates this year. Will he continue my post-apocalyptic fan fiction from 2020? Will he make a pirate-themed romance novel for 2021? Stay tuned! And keep smiling, keep having fun, and keep enjoying this game of imaginary football management that we love. If you have questions, ask the community, and we’re here to spill our advice and strategies to one and all. Cheers everybody, and I’ll see you throughout the 2021 season!