It had to happen. As much as many of us wanted to avoid it, and as effed up as our off-season has been, football had to come back. It’s that spiteful broad we just couldn’t quit. Here she is. Rearin’ to go.
Like years past I’ll be supplying anyone interested in a few draft tips. Unlike KCCB’s (hopefully) tongue-in-cheek advice about watching porn on draft day, I’ll actually be bringing you some information that you can use. But for all his jokes and self-deprecating banter, Cocoa Butter is right about one thing, and it’s probably the most important thing to remember…it’s pretty much all luck.
And I can’t stress that enough this season. As of this writing free agency hasn’t started. The lockout hasn’t been lifted. Kevin Kolb has yet to be traded to the Cardinals. No old, useless running backs have been cut. Cedric Benson has been arrested, but it had nothing to do with a boat, unfortunately (oh, and while we’re on the subject, screw annoying Colts bloggers and oversensitive Colts fans who are pissed about Jerry Hughes’s most recent run-in with a PI charge, how the hell is Pacman Freaking Jones still in the league?). Anyway, it’s all sorts of effed up. Even when stars skip pre-season games, or holdout of camp for contractual reasons, you can sometimes sort of see them falter early, succumb to freak injuries, or just take a while to get going. It’s to be expected.
Football is a terribly violent, physical sport. But now we’re basically telling them to jump into training camp after having gone through no OTAs, and having had no contact with their teams’ trainers? Most of the whiny ones are probably going to skip camp if their contract isn’t in great shape. Many vets will be cut, and unemployed for God knows how long, before finding a situation that works for them, thus extending the getting fat period. The rookies will be the best off, physically, but most of them will have no idea what their playbooks look like, and will have no chemistry with their fellow offensive players and coaches. If ever there was a year for some freak occurrences, this is it.
That said, here’s my advice. I wouldn’t bet on most of this stuff though.
Rule 1: Don’t Get Cute
Yes, Roddy White is a bad-ass. Yes, Mike Vick probably helped you secure a playoff spot last year. No, neither of them should be drafted before your consensus first three RBs (it used to be the first 8-10 RBs should have automatically been the first 8-10 players drafted, but lately that number has dwindled; some years it’s four, some years it’s two…this year it’s three). Don’t get cute. Cute=stupid. This season it goes:
1. Adrian Peterson
2. Chris Johnson
3. Arian Foster
I don’t care how you rank them. This year, whether it be PPR or standard, they’re all relatively equal. Foster has the overall edge in PPR, but CJ and AP are healthier, have a bigger body of work and have less competition for carries. If you draft White, Vick, or anyone ahead of those three, you are making a huge mistake.
Rule 2: It’s All About the Positional Matchup Advantages
As long as you’re following Rule #1, which really only pertains to three guys this season, you can go ahead and feel free to get cute starting with pick #4 (assuming the people drafting in slots 1-3 didn’t get cute; if they did, go ahead and feel free to pillage one of the three RBs who should’ve gone in the first three picks). If you are certain that you can gain an automatic positional matchup advantage at WR by selecting Roddy White #4, and don’t feel so confident you can gain an automatic positional matchup advantage at RB by taking Ray Rice, then take White.
You can’t waste your time comparing Rice to White. Instead, take Rice’s weekly fantasy projection and subtract a second round RB’s weekly fantasy projection. Then subtract the weekly projection of next WR who’s most likely to come around to you (maybe a Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne or DeSean Jackson) from White’s. If the result is a larger difference in points from White to the next viable WR than that of Rice to the next viable RB, go with White. I’m talking about this like it’s an exact science. Obviously it’s not, as we have no way of knowing exactly how each player is going to perform before the season begins, so there’s a huge subjective factor, some guesswork, and gut feelings etc.
But what can help you make the controversial decision to draft a receiver as high as number 4 or 5? That brings me to my next rule…
Rule 3: Know your League’s Roster Requirements
If you’re in a 12-team league that starts 4 WRs and only two RBs (as is the case in one of my leagues) that means that you need to have four receivers who are in the top 48. Hopefully that doesn’t mean that your receivers are numbers 45, 46, 47 and 48. That would equal zero positional advantage at WR for you. Instead, consider grabbing White at #4 or #5, or either Andre or Calvin Johnson at #8 or #9. That means that you’ll almost certainly have one of the 5 best players out of a field of 48, which is a whole lot more impactful that having one of the 5 best players out of a field of 24. Yes, your starting RBs may end up being Peyton Hills and Jonathan Stewart. But given that you only have to start two, and factoring in the crapshoot effect, you’re more likely to gain a positional advantage by focusing on the larger field (WR) because, let’s face it, you’re more likely to find some sort of injury fill-in-turned stud at RB than you are at WR, if for no other reason than RBs get injured more frequently than WRs (and it takes less skill to be a RB in the right system, but you didn’t hear that from me).
It works similarly with QBs. Normally I would avoid drafting even the best QBs until the end of the first round of a 12-team league. But if you’re in a 10-team league that starts two QBs, well, you have a unique opportunity to score a pretty valuable positional matchup advantage. Pretty much all QBs score more than the other skill positions, no matter the scoring format. But let’s face it, there aren’t 20 top-tier QBs in the league. There may be close to 10 (which is why we say avoid drafting QBs in the first round of leagues that start only one; chances are you can be the last guy in your league to draft a QB and still end up with a QB who finishes in the top 10, or even top 5). But if your league starts 20 total QBs and you have the #1 QB scorer (like Mike Vick or Aaron Rodgers) and another top 10 scorer (like Tony Romo or Matt Schaub) your positional advantage is going to be nice, especially considering the sheer volume of points a QB can put up. In some cases, it makes it worth it to give up good values at WR or RB. Also keep in mind the number of craptacular veteran QBs and starting rookie QBs that exist in today’s NFL. It’s shocking. You might want to grab a decent one early if you’re in a league that starts two.
Rule #4: Know Your League’s Scoring Format
Here at TFN we pride ourselves as the industry standard in PPR analysis. But then, we’re arrogant assholes. That said, we like PPR, and think it’s way more fun than standard performance and TD leagues; and many are starting to jump on board. PPR has grown more popular over the last four or five years to the point that major Web sites are finally doing some PPR-only analysis. That is, major Web sites besides thefantasyninjas.com…I mean they’re on par with us, and maybe just a little bit bigger (CBSSportsline.com, Yahoo.com, ESPN.com), but we were doing it first. Or at least doing it better.
But seriously, if you’re still in a standard league, more power to you. You should go talk to Matt Berry or Nate Ravitz or something. But if you’re on the PPR bandwagon, for the love of God, know that you’re on the PPR bandwagon. If your league allows even a fraction of a point per reception, it makes a huge difference. It makes Cedric Benson, Michael Turner and Beanie Wells undraftable for reasons other than they kind of suck. It makes Joseph Addai, Danny Woodhead and Ryan Torain a lot more viable. It makes LeGarrette Blount and Michael Bush not so exciting of breakout candidates. It puts a healthy Wes Welker and Reggie Wayne on par with or superior to Greg Jennings
and Hakeem Nicks. And it knocks DeSean Jackson and Mike Wallace down a few pegs. But most importantly it impacts the very top of your draft. In 2010 Arian Foster scored 126 PPR points, not counting his receiving TDs. It’s the reason you even consider taking him over household names like Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. It’s the reason guys like Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice are still in the top 5 conversation (though MoJo seems to be losing believers by the second). Pay the hell attention to your scoring format just so you can know who to draft.
Rule #5: For F*ck’s Sake, Don’t Trust the Following:
* Saints’ receivers—No, not even Marques Colston, who is coming off of microfracture surgery
* Mike Shanahan—He’s lied to me, he’ll lie to you.
* Patriots Runningbacks—I don’t understand the fascination with Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Yes, I know, on paper he looks like MJD lite. But you have to know that Bill Belichick, who hates fantasy football with all of his cold, shriveled heart, is reading all that hype and planning on ways to incorporate 3-9 other running backs who you’ve never heard of, into his game plan and rotate them in every third possession just so BGE is out of a Monday Night game just when you need him to score you 0.78 points to win your league title. You have to know that, right?
* Peter King—Major chode.
* Matthew Berry—Ditto.
* Nate Ravitz—Always wrong.
* Anyone who tells you to draft the best defense any time sooner than the second-to-last round—These people are idiots.
* The advice you received in this article—Let’s face it, I’m such a self-centered prick I almost certainly want you to lose.