There is a lot of talk and hype on players between the NFL draft and the regular season. How does a fantasy player determine the difference between REALITY and HYPE??? Before we do this we have to understand the rules of your draft, the average draft position, player rankings, and how to use all this to achieve an optimal lineup. Is this going to be perfect draft strategy? Is their such a thing as a perfect draft strategy? Will I have to change my strategy between drafting now and a day before the NFL season? How important is the your fantasy football draft? How much of fantasy football is skill or is it mostly luck? Final thing I want to talk about is emotion.
Part 1: Rules of your draft
a. Is it PPR or Standard
The difference between PPR leagues and standard leagues. PPR is short for Points per reception. Some leagues give a full 1.0 point for each reception a player makes. No matter if the player catches the ball for 90 yards or -6 yards, he still gets a point. There are half point or .5 PPR leagues where the player gets only .5 per reception. And then are the odd ball leagues that may give anything from .1 to 2.0 points per reception. A standard league is just a league where there are no points awarded for making a catch. In the beginning of Fantasy football standard league were the most common but times have changed over the last 15 years and PPR is the most prevalent. Full PPR or 1.0 point ppr leagues is most common league and it is looking like the industry is starting to lean towards half point (.5) league. This is because to many points are given to the players that the QB checks down to and also gets less than 20 yards a game. An example of this is a player will have 8 catches(8 pts) for 20 yards(2pts) and will get 10 points in a full PPR league but will only get 6 points in half point ppr league. (4pts(8 x .5))+ 2pts for the yds) The other league Im starting to see is the point per 1st down league. Where the person catching the reception only gets a point if he gets a 1st down on the play. Very interesting but I’m wondering if a team that uses a RB for short yardage situations will vulture 1st downs. We will see after this year.
b. How players do you need to start every week and position
Knowing your starting roster is important due to scarcity. For example in a 2 QB league there are only 32 starting Qbs is the NFL. If there are 12 teams in your fantasy league, than each team will need to draft 2 Qbs just to have a starter each week; which is a total of 24 Qbs. This leaves only 8 starting Qbs left in the NFL to draft on your team. Lets say you don’t draft a 3rd QB on your fantasy team. Then you will be screwed if one of your Qbs gets injured or during bye weeks. This forces you to try to draft 3 Qbs before they are are gone. So I only recommend being in a 2 QB league if there is 10 or less people in your draft. This will make it a lot easier to draft Qbs without worrying about all the Qbs being drafted. The same goes for a super flex league that has one starting QB but your flex spot can also be a QB/RB/WR/TE. Since Qbs score the most in fantasy football, not having a QB in the flex position can be detrimental to your team. Most leagues today consist in starting 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 Defense, and 1 Kicker. Most variations usually have between 1-3 starting Rb’s, 1-4 Wrs, 0-2 TE, 0-2 Flex (RB,WR,TE), 1 Defense, 0-1 Kicker. Leagues are starting to get away from kickers as it has been shown that the points you get from a kicker in a given game to be more dependent on luck than skill. There are also some leagues where the flex position only include RB and WR(NO TE). As for the NFL most teams use 2 Rb’s, instead of a foundation RB. But there are still some teams that use a feature back or just 1 RB for most of the game. Just 10 years ago, most teams in the NFL just used a feature back and not a 2 RB system. Therefor 10 years ago about 20 NFL teams had foundation backs. This made the position scarce in fantasy football, since everybody wanted to draft 2 foundation Rbs on their team. Today Todd Gurley may be the only true foundation RB that plays almost every down. Trying to figure out what the role on a 2 Rb system can be challenging. Most teams use a power/one cut runner on running plays and goalline plays. But use the shifter back who is more elusive for outside runs and passing plays. A shifter passing down back is a better option for a team that is behind, where a power/one cut Rb is a better option when the NFL team has a lead or wants to control the clock. When it comes to WR most NFL teams start 3 WR or will have 3 Wrs on the field for at least half of the game. Therefor this is the least scarce position. So why has it been so popular and successful drafting Wr early in fantasy football? This is due to people wanting the Wrs on their fantasy team that can score lots of points each week. Last year the QB position is the only position that scored on average more points than the top Wrs. The first reason is that you want players that get lots of targets. Getting lots of targets gives your player a chance to have a big game. Also since most leagues require 3 WR to start each week and you can use your flex spot as a WR, this will give you the most fantasy points every week. As for TE, you only need 1 TE to start each week and most likely not going to use them in the flex position unless desperate or a great matchup. Most TEs do not get many passes in a game and are the most TD dependent roster spot. Some teams hardly ever throw to the TE or even use a TE to go out for a pass. The TEs main purpose in the NFL is first to be able to block. Of course there are exceptions like Rob Gronkowski. Since most TEs do not get you many fantasy points and there are 32 starting TEs in the league and you only have to start 1 each week than this position can be waited on in most drafts unless you are in a league that gives a bonus to TEs of 1.5 per reception instead of 1 point per reception in which the WR and RB will get. In this case a good pass catching TE can make or break your season. As for a good defense can average 10 points a week. This may not sound like much but the top defense last year average 13 points a game and the bottom defense gave your 7 points a week. In a given week having a good defense could have been the difference between a win and a loss. And for the whole season the best defense 195 points and worst defense gave you 105 points.
c. How many bench spots do you have
Most high stake leagues have deeper benches. This allows your draft to be more flexible, as you can draft more of a position in which you are weak at. Where a small bench means most of the players that you draft to your bench may not be on your team after a couple of weeks if they are not producing. This is due to bye weeks and/or where the players that were not drafted in your league are producing more than the players you drafted. I don’t know how many times I drafted a player that either had a bad first couple weeks, has not been targeted, or had a nagging injury that hindered him from playing at his full potential. Then I would give up on the guy for the brand new toy on the waiver wire. Then the guy I dropped has a great rest of season on somebody’s else fantasy team. With a deep bench I can keep this guy on my bench longer. In most high stake leagues you get 10 bench spots. This usually consists of a 2nd defense and a 2nd kicker unless either one of them is matchup proof. This is why some people like to draft a kicker or def or early so they don’t need to use a bench spot. Another away to avoid having to draft a backup def/kicker is to draft one that has a late bye week. If you draft one with a early bye week you will be forced to pick one up on the waiver wire or draft a 2nd one. You will need a back up TE for bye weeks and also cause TE’s seem to get injured more often than other positions. Also if your backup TE ends up being a sleeper and has really good season like Jordan Reed last year, then you can put him in your flex spot or as your starter. A back up QB can be important, not only if your starting QB gets injured but also if your starting QB favorite WR gets injured. This happened last year with Aaron Rodgers losing Jordy Nelson. Another reason is the offense is not throwing the ball much (This does not happen much anymore in toda’ys NFL but the Tenn Titans look like they will be running heavy run first offense). It is easier to stream Qbs based on matchup today since most teams are very pass happy teams. Playing a bad QB against a team like the patriots who run up the score, could end of giving the bad QB a great fantasy day just because they are forced to throw the ball all game to catch up. Where the best QB in the league against a great matchup could give the QB a bad day because they take a lead early and decide to run the ball the rest of the game to run time off the clock. Just remember that the teams in the NFL main goal is to win the game and not to give your fantasy team the most points possible. When it comes to Rbs it used to be that there was foundation back on every team. If the backup RB came into the game, he did not produce the same numbers that the starter produced. So in most cases you were drafting Rb’s from multiple teams as your back ups. Today there is very few foundation backs and since most NFL teams use a committee of 2 Rbs or even 3 Rb’s, it makes it harder to decide which back to draft. A good example of this was the Philadelphia Eagles last year. They had RB Demarco Murray who had played in Dallas as an every down back but signed with Philly as a free agent. Philly also picked up free agent Ryan Mathews from San Diego Chargers who was also drafted in the NFL as foundation back. And they picked up utility back in Darren Sproles who is one of the best receiving and special teams players in the league. Demarco Murray led the season in 2014 in rushing yards and rushing attempts. Last year Demarco Murray was drafted in fantasy football in the 2nd rd, while Ryan Mathews was going after rd 8, and Darren Sproles was going after the 11th rd. Demarco Murray did not fit the scheme that Philly had in place and the offensive line was missing blocks. Ryan Mathews and Sproles were both faster in the back field, so even if an O lineman missed a block they were both elusive enough to elude the first tackler in most cases. But Philly had paid Demarco Murray a lot more money than both Sproles and Mathews combined. So DeMarco Murray continued to get most of the carriers even though he was left with negative yards on most of his carriers. This went on half way through the season before DeMarco Murray carriers were reduced but by then it was to late in the season. In the right circumstance all 3 Rb’s could have thrived but it would have been a guess on which of 3 backs was going to have the best game. This is headache for fantasy football owners in this day and age of modern football. I will explain the importance of why, how, and who to draft later in this article. As for bench spots last year you could have drafted all 3 Rb’s on your fantasy team but would have been frustrated by all 3. Mathews and Sproles would have sat on your bench for half the season before they were fantasy relevant. But by then you probably would have dropped them for a RB who was getting a higher percentage of the carriers for their respected team. In a league where you only have 5 bench spots you need to avoid committees like this. The issue with committees for Rbs is the reason that at one time in fantasy football the WR was not as important. When there was no PPR leagues, a lot of the fantasy points was scored by Tds. Since Tds can be fluky, most teams only had one WR that received enough receiving ever week to be a considered a starter every week. Now that PPR has become the normal players like Wes Welker who when he played for the Patriots would have 7 to 13 balls thrown his way every week. Just catching 7 catches for 40 yards, would give you more points than a guy who caught 2 passes for 10 yards and a TD. It is very rare that you find a consistant WR after week 6 on the waiver wire. Unlike Rbs that only require an injuries from the starters to get 20 carriers a game. So having a deep bench with good/consistent Wrs on it, can be a huge advantage for flex spots, bye weeks, and injuries. This is why so many people are going WR early in their drafts to get guys they can trust. After you get your 3 consistent starting Wrs, than any other consistant Wrs that you get later in the draft can be stored on your bench. This is a big advantage over the rest of the league who will be looking who Wrs on the waiver wire every week. Having a big bench with players that other people in your draft cant pick up off the waiver wire is why drafting well is so important.
d. Is it a snake, auction, 3 rd reversal
A snake draft starts at the 1st rd with the first person making a pick, then each person takes a player until the last person makes a pick, so that every person gets one draft pick. In the 2nd rd the order is just reversed in who picks a player. The rest of the draft just keeps going back and forth in the order of people making picks. This is why it is called a snake draft because if you draw a line on the picks it looks like a snake. In 3rd rd reversal draft, the draft is very similar in that the 1st player picks a player until the last person picks. Also in the 2nd rd the the last person picks first and the draft goes till the person who picked 1st in the 1st rd makes a pic. But in the 3rd rd the draft does not snake back and forth like a regular snake draft. Instead the player that picked last in the 1st rd and who picked 1st in the 2nd rd gets to pick 1st in the 3rd rd. Then the rest of the draft just snakes back and forth like a normal draft. So why does a site like the NFFC do 3rd rd reversal. You would think that this is unfair to the person who got the 1st person in the draft. But the first couple people in the draft have a huge advantage in the draft in normal snake draft. They get a player in the 1st rd that everybody wants. Then in the 2nd rd they still get an elite player. And then also get a early 3rd rd pick which is most likely a player that could have gone in the 2nd rd or still elite. In 3rd rd reversal the person picking at the end of the 1st rd is stuck with what was left over in the 1st rd and yes they get the best of a 2nd rd player and the best of a 3rd rd player. But if you look people who won in the NFFC last year it came from people who drafted in every spot in the draft. Where in a normal snake draft most of the winners last year came from the first 6 people picking in the draft. In an auction draft, it is similar to a snake draft in the order of people taking turns but instead of making a pick they nominate a player to be auctioned. Everybody in the draft has a chance to bid on every player as long as they have enough money to bid on that player. In most auctions everybody starts with same starting bid money. $200 is the norm for the high stake leagues but your home leagues can use any amount that want to set. The number does not matter since it is all relative, for example in a draft where a player is drafted for $30 in $200 league should go for $60 in a $400 draft. But since everybody has different views and values on players, you will see a person go for $30 in one $200 draft and that same player only go for $24 in another $200 draft. This can be caused by multiple people having a different value on that player and causing war on that player to bid him up. Or a player could go up in value just based on supply and demand. If there are only 7 Wrs you have valued as #1 talent and 6 are off the board, then the 7th will most likely go higher since there usually 12 people in a draft. Forcing the 5 people who don’t have a #1 Wr to bid on the last #1 Wr. Often times the 1st #1 Wr goes little cheaper than 2nd or 3rd Wr off the board since there is no league value to go by. Auction drafts are best for people who think they are better at player evaluation than every one else. My preference in both a snake draft is a top 6 pick. In a 3rd reversal draft I want the spot in the draft where I know there is going to be a drop off in talent. For instance, if I see based on ADP that the all the tier 1 and tier 2 Rbs/WRs are gone by pick 42 than I want the draft spot that gets me the 42, 41, or 40th pick in the draft. This will guarantee I get 4 players that are all tier I/II. If I draft at pick 43 than there is a chance I don’t get 4 top tier players.
e. How many people are in the draft
Most drafts consist of 6 to 16 people in a draft. That does not mean that there aren’t other amounts, its just not common. In the high stakes leagues the number of people in a draft go from 10 to 14. Obviously the more people in a draft the less likely you are to win, but the more money you can win, since the pot will be a higher percentage compared to the amount of money you had to put in. In your home league you play against just the other people in the your league. In the high stake leagues you need to be usually in the top 3 of your league just to get in the overall playoffs. Then you will have to play against all the top 3 people from all the leagues in the tournament. Just to give an example, in the Oline Championship in the NFFC there was over 2000 people drafting. Since only 25% make the playoffs, you are looking at 500 people in the playoffs. In the Primetime league in the NFFC, there was 400 people, so you only had to go against 100 people in the playoffs but the buy in for the primetime is $1600 and the buy-in for online is only $350. Since most drafts use the 1 Qb, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, 1Flex, 1Def, and 1K. In a 6 person draft most likely only a total of 12 Qbs will be drafted.(Your starter and backup) But a good QB will be available on the waiver, so there will be no need to draft a back up. This makes it a lot easier to draft a QB late since you should still get a top 10 QB as your starter. This is why people have been using a 2 QB draft for smaller leagues. This makes the QB position more important. If your in a 14 team league with the normal format, you will not be as happy with your team after the draft, as you would be in a 10 team league. The goal in a 14 team league is just understand that you will have a position that is weak.
f. Seasonal scoring system
Some leagues like to give 6 points for a TD to a QB and other leagues only give 4 points to the QB for a TD. A player like Cam Newton can be more valuable in a league that only gives 4 pts for a TD since rushing Tds are usually still 6 points. Since Cam runs the ball so much, he is likely to get the person who drafted him 6 points running for TD. The person who drafted a QB who threw a TD pass will only gets 4 points. Some leagues like to give 1.5 points per catch to Tes where most leagues treat Tes like wrs and rbs.
(b.Best Ball, total points, rotisserie, head to head)
Best Ball format is where all you do is draft a team. There is no trading, no lineup decisions, and no waiver wire pick ups. It does not matter how many Qbs you draft, the Qb that scores the most point on a given week will be in your lineup for that week. Same goes for all positions. If your favorite part of playing fantasy football is doing the draft, then this is perfect for you. Most Best ball formats use a total points at the end of the season for scoring system to determine the winner. In the NFFC it is called DC or draft championship. Payouts will be paid to top 3 people after week 16 and if you have more points than everybody else in all the Draft championships you will get a $20,000 bonus. The top 10 in all DC’s will also get a bonus.
Total Points format is where only the teams with most points make into the playoffs. Some leagues will then either go head to head in the playoffs or most points just in the playoffs will win.
Rotisserie league format is not common in Fantasy football but it is where there are categories. If you are in 10 person league, the team person with the most points for each category will earn 10 points. 2nd best will get 9 points and all the way to last place getting only 1 point. Who ever gets the most points at of all the categories will win the league. In Baseball it is more popular since there are more categories to calculate. (steal, homeruns, etc…)
Head to Head format is the most common format in the fantasy football. Each week you will play against a random opponent set by league at the beginning of the season. Which every team scores the most points that week gets a win. If you lose you get a loss and a tie is scored as tie. When the playoffs start in your league the teams with most wins go into the playoffs.
Combination format is a league that has some rules of of multiple formats. For instance in the NFFC the first 2 weeks of the season the top 6 of 12 teams who score the most points will get a win. So there is no matchup the first 2 weeks. Then the rest of the regular fantasy football season you play against everybody once. Some leagues give playoffs spots to the team with most wins and the rest of the playoff spots go to the teams with the most points.
g. Playoff system
The playoffs in the fantasy football is not the same as the playoffs in the NFL. Im going to go over the 2 most popular. The first is the way is where the regular season is the 1st 14 weeks of the NFL season. Then the top 4 teams have there playoffs in week 15 and 16. The more popular trend and the way that the high stake leagues play is to play to week 13. Then week 14, 15, and 16 is the playoffs. In the high stake leagues you start with the average points you had during the regular season then they add the points that you earn during week 14,15, and 16. Most fantasy football leagues do not include week 17 of the NFL season due to the NFL teams that are either locked into the playoffs or teams that are rebuilding and are not starting their stars.
Part 2: ADP (Average Draft Position)
a. What is ADP
ADP stands for Average Draft position. Average draft position is very important to get a rough idea where players are going in the draft. Last year in the FTSA “experts draft” (I say experts because most of these guys talk and write about fantasy football but most do not play in the high stake leagues, where the best players in the world play) In this draft last year Darren McFadden was drafted in the 2nd rd and even though the person that drafted him was right that McFadden would have a great season. There was no reason to draft McFadden where his ADP was in the 10th rd. If you were to play in 100 high stake drafts Mcfadden would not have been drafted before rd 8. So if this person was smart who drafted McFadden in the 2nd rd, he should have drafted someone else there in the 2nd rd and waited till the 7th rd to draft McFadden. In home leagues, I see this all the time. Players get drafted way to early and it ends up hurting your overall team. Right now there is a player whose ADP is in the 17th rd who I believe is going to top 30 WR. But the earliest I will draft this guy is rd 13. But I have gotten him as late as rd 19 because I had no need at WR but I can not pass on the value of him in rd 19. When you look at the our player rankings Im sure you can figure who this player is. Now ADP for the season will change since people start to draft in April. A lot can happen between April and the first week of the NFL season in early September. So it is better to look at ADP from the last 30 days. Also make sure you use an ADP that is from the same league scoring and roster rules to get the most accurate ADP. This year based on ADP I can wait on drafting a QB till rd 8 unless a top 5 QB falls to me after the 5th rd.
b. Why does it change
Lets talk about some of things that change and cause/effect of these changes. First of all, ADP changes due many things. A player who is injured and will not be ready for week 1 of the NFL season will have a big drop in ADP. This is because you need start someone else in week 1 at that position. Another thing that will drop a players rankings is talk about how good another player on the same team at the same position is doing really well in practice. If you look at a player like Devonte Freeman last year he dropped to the 10th rd in ADP since the hype was so high Tevin Coleman. Both were injured in the preseason but talks were that Coleman won the starting job in the preseason. But at the end of the season Freeman ended up as one highest fantasy football scorers for the season even though he did not play week one. Players also drop due to age. Larry Fitzgerald is considered one of the best NFL Wrs in the league and he is a lock into the Hall of Fame. But last year the hype was up on the other 2 Wrs on the team. Fitzgerald was considered to old/past his prime. But again if look at the end of the season he still ended up as #1 WR, which great value for people who drafted him in the 7th rd. Another thing that can drop ADP is a teams Offensive Identity. Marcus Mariota had great season last year as a rookie and if he was on a team that focused on throwing the ball he be would drafted higher this year. But the offensive identity of the team is run first. So Marcus could end up being a sleeper if the Titans defense is really bad and the team is forced to throw the ball due to being behind alot.
Why it is so important
All of this is so important because the best players in the world will draft a player a rd before their ADP if they think they are better than their ADP indicates. And vica versa will take a player if they fall to them. In 2013 I drafted Marshawn Lynch, who had an injury that was suppose to keep him out a couple weeks. This happened right before the season started. A month before that injury he was being drafted in the late 2nd rd. I was able to get him as the 9th pick in the 4th rd. He ended playing every game and was a Beast just like his nickname. Also the people who are the best at high stake leagues rank their players based on tiers. Lets say you are in the 3rd rd of your draft and it is your turn to make a pick. Before you just pick the best player available, you need to understand which tiers are disappearing. If there is 8 picks before your next turn in the 4th rd and there are only 4 players left in a tier. Then you are better off drafting a player from that tier now, since most likely those players from that tier will be gone when you pick again. If instead there are 10 players left in a tier and you have 8 picks before your next pick, than you can just wait a rd. Knowing you will get one of those guys in the next rd. Again in 2013 I had Tony Gonzalez as the last guy in my TE tier but everybody behind me already had a TE. It was the 8th rd and I decided that since everybody behind had a TE that I can wait get him in the next rd. Well that was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. In the next rd the the guy right before me drafted him. He drafted him because the TE he had was Jason Witten who had an ankle injury and wanted someone to start the first 2 weeks for him. In 2013 I did end up 3rd overall in the Primetime Championship but if I would have drafted Tony Gonzalez in the 8th rd I would have gotten 1st place and won $150,000. That happened to be one of Tony’s best years ever. Don’t assume you know what the rest of the people in the draft are going to do. Last year I saw a bunch of Tes that I liked after rd 10. So the 1st 10 rds I knew I could focus on the other positions. Players like Jordan Reed and Ben Watson were golden for me. This year Qbs are the same way. Now this does not mean if a player like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees is still available in the 6th rd you dont draft him. All it means is that you dont have to reach for these players. This year I also know in the 2nd rd Im drafting a WR. The reason is because in every draft I have done this year all the rbs I have in tier 1 are all going in the 1st rd and in tier 2 of rbs are still available all the way to the 5th rd.
Where in ADP are your #1 players
I highly recommend printing out an updated ADP based on scoring. Look at all the players in the ADP and high light all the ones who you consider players that are every week starters, no matter the matchup. (this includes kickers and defenses) I ideal situation would be to have a fantasy team where you had every position filled with players you did not have to decide on who to start every week. Of course this is not going to happen due injuries and other unforeseen circumstances. This is why the best players in the world know you cant win your draft in the 1st 6 rds. Just looking at the 2015 fantasy drafts, most people who were at the top of the leader boards at the end of the season had players like Jordan Reed and Devonte Freeman. Both of these players were drafted after the 9th rd. Knowing this means if you are in multiple drafts than to go after some different guys in the later rds to diversify your teams and give you a better chance to win it all. Some of people who are considered the best in the world will enter as many leagues as they can possibly afford to achieve this goal. This does not mean that you have to enter multiple leagues to win it all. When I entered the primetime league in 2013, I only entered in one draft. There was over 400 entries total and I almost won it all.
Part 3: Player Rankings
a. Fantasy player rankings (based on every week starter)
Explaining tiering players based on how likely they are to start each and every week. The 1st tier at every position is based on if the player can get at least 30 points in a given game. This player must be likely to do this 4 times in the season. But also never score less than 10 fantasy points in any game. So these player can not get injuried in the season to qualify. In 2013 primetime draft I had 3 of my players who had given me at least 10 fantasy points every week the whole season, and then gave out on me in week 15, with 3 zeros. The difference between 1st and 3rd place was 22 points. These tier 1 players also must average above 20 points a week. You dont want players that give you zero points one week and 40 points another week. This type of player will give you 2 shitty weeks and you will sit him on the week he has a huge game. The way I got my name was based on this. You do not want to think every week and second guess your decisions. The more NO THINKING the better off you are. Our brains get in way of our instincts. Instinct is based on past experience. In case you are wondering my 9 year son and I are on team Instinct on PokemonGO for this reason.
b. NFL player rankings
A players like Wr D Thomas for the Denver Broncos and breakout WR Allen Robinson for Jacksonville Jaguars are considered some the top Wrs in the NFL. Just because these players are great in the NFL does not make them great in fantasy football. Both of these players will most likely end up at the end of the season with great numbers but can you trust either one of them ever single week to get you at least 10 points. As of right now I dont trust them to get me 10 points each week and its not because I think they will have bad seasons. Thomas has an unproven QB in Denver and struggled last year in Gary Kubiack offense. Just based on history Kubiak offense only produces one stud WR. That could very well be Emmanuel Sanders. Im not saying Sanders is a better player. Im just saying he may fit Kubiaks offense better. As for Allen Robinson, there is no doubt that Jacksonville was smart to pounce on him in the 2nd rd of the NFL draft when other teams and scouts thought it was to early to draft him. First issue with Robinson is ability snatch the ball in odd situations. You would think this is a good thing but it puts Robinson is a position to be injuried easier. Also there are other players the QB Blake Bortles can target. (Allen Hurns, M Lee, R Greene, Rbs, and J Thomas) J Thomas was paid big money to come to Jacksonville and in the off season him and Bortles practiced a lot to be on the same page this year. This team decided that TJ Yeldon was not the answer at RB and picked up Chris Ivory off of waivers. Ivory will steal some Tds from the wideouts. I believe the team also wants to run the ball to help the defense. Allen Robinson is being drafted in the late 1st rd and early 2nd rd. After understanding what the team wants to do shows that A Robinson should have a decrease in receptions/TDs this year. Taking the best player on a team does not mean he is going to be a great player on your fantasy team. Lets say to take Robinson and week one he has 5 rec for 70 yds and TD. That would give him 18 points for that week. That will give you a good chance to win that week. But what about week 2. Defenses know Robinson is the top guy and did well week 1. So in week 2 Robinson gets 7 targets for only 3 rec, 36 yds, and no Tds. Since Ivory vultered 2 tds when the team got in the red zone. That only gives Robinson 6.6 points for week 2. How likely are you to win with the 1st or 2nd player you picked in the draft only giving you 7 points. Lets get into who I consider the fastest 3 WRs in pads in the NFL. Torrey Smith, Mike Wallace, and DeSean Jackson. All 3 of the these guys go blow by defensive backs. Torrey is considered the best Wideout on the team. But if you looked at his catch rate it is around 50%, which horrible in the NFL. And he is really good at getting defensive pass interference called against the opposing Corner. This helps NFL team in moving the chains but does nothing to help your fantasy team. Mike Wallace has a QB in Joe Flacco is possible the best long ball thrower in the NFL but is playing in a new offense and already failed his conditioning test. And the wideout position is by the far the best it has ever been in the history of the Baltimore Ravens. Wallace is also on the tail end of his career. As for DeSean Jackson who is most likely the fastest in pads in the NFL and also the biggest head case. He not only let go of the ball before entering the endzone in celebration but he did it again in another game. Taking about not learning from your mistakes. He is also playing for a team that has a QB that has only had one good season. The Redskins drafted one of the top 3 WR in this draft in the 1st rd. They still have P Garcon and have TE Jordan Reed who is considered one of the best Tes in the league if not the best if he can stay healthy. Based on ADP both Jackson and Smith are being drafted as #3 Wrs. Wallace is the only one being drafted as a flex option. The problem with where they are being drafted is that these guys are have the ability to each have 4 weeks of 30 points or more. The problem is that most likely you will not start them those weeks because all of these guys will have weeks that give you zero points and may get you 2 straight weeks of zeros before a big week.
Part 4: Optimal Lineup
a. NFL is not about having the best player on the team
In golf it is you vs golf coarse and whoever beats the golf coarse the best wins the tournament. In the NFL it is 53 man roster. It takes a full team to win the Super Bowl. A good offense can win with a great defense and good special teams. A great offense can win with a good def and good special teams. But you cant have a bad defense, bad defense, and good special teams. If you take a chain and pull on it till it breaks, the piece that breaks is your weakest link. Same goes for the NFL and Fantasy Football. Antonio Brown is considered the best in NFL and in fantasy but the Steelers did not make it to the Super Bowl last year and there were a lot of teams in fantasy football that did not have him on their team but won their league. Nor does that mean having the best player on your team will guarantee that you don’t win it all. If you looked at my 2013 Primetime team would not see the best player at any position on that team. My team was consistent and pretty boring to todays fantasy standards. They did have some big games but not great games. That being said you can win drafting the best Rb, WR, TE, and QB. But what are the odds that all the players you draft ending up as the #1 player in that position. There are guys in the high stake leagues who draft in over 100 leagues to get a little bit of everybody. But one, that takes lots of money and two it takes a program to make sure you get a little bit of everybody. One of my favorite cartoons of all time was Duck Tales. I actually wrote my way into college on the Duck Tales and Scrooge McDuck. The lesson I learned from Scrooge was to work smart not hard. Yes, diversifying does give you a better chance in getting the right combination but the reward will be lower since you are putting more money and time into it. You best chance of winning is try to get a top 5 player at every position instead of a couple #1 players to carry your team through the whole season.
With most NFL draft’s it’s usually the first round picks who receive much of the attention and attract most of the spotlight. Yet over the years when you go back and review successful draft classes it’s typically the “sleepers” or day three selections that make a good class turn into a great class.
With that in mind we reviewed each NFL teams draft class, per division, and attempted to point out who potentially could turn out to be that groups “sleeper”
Denver Broncos – Will Parks, S Arizona 6th rd. 44th pick (#219 overall)
Having lost their top two backups at safety, in David Bruton Jr. and Omar Bolden, during free agency the Broncos knew that they needed to replenish some of their depth on the back-half of their defense.
The Broncos used two draft picks in the 2016 draft to add Boston College’s Justin Simmons, and Arizona’s Will Parks to help reload at safety.
Will Parks was a two-year starter and versatile defender for the Wildcats over his four-year career. He leaves Arizona having complied 197 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 20 pass break-ups, and four interceptions.
Parks is a tough competitor who plays hard down in and down out. At 6’1” and 204 pounds he possesses good size and length for the position. He is an aggressive downhill punisher, who will tackle through his target. He is able to come up and set a hard edge when defending the run, and displayed the ability to shed blockers and find the ball carrier while playing as a box safety closer to the line of scrimmage, as his 20 tackles for loss over the last two seasons can attest to.
Initially Parks will be looked upon to provide depth at both safety positions as well as help on special teams. However, with his ability to tackle and help defend the run, as an in the box safety, Parks could force his way onto the field sooner than many may have anticipated for a sixth-round pick.
Kansas City Chiefs – Dadi Nicolas, OLB Virginia Tech 6th rd. 28th pick (#203 overall)
With Outside linebacker Justin Houston undergoing surgery in February to repair a torn ACL in his left knee you had a feeling that the Chiefs would target an outside backer at some point in the draft. Not necessarily to replace Houston, but just to add some quality depth at the position.
That point came in the sixth-round in the form or former Virginia Tech Hokie Dadi Nicolas. Nicolas is a talented physical specimen who has tree limbs for arms (35 inches) and very impressive lower-body explosion and burst. Nicolas posted a 41 inch vertical, 4.74 forty, and 7.04 three-cone time which speaks favorably to his agility, body control, and quickness.
Nicolas is quick off the line at the snap of the ball and is able to use his speed to provide a consistent pass rush off the edge. Nicolas has good balance and lateral quickness with an active body that is always hustling on the field.
Nicolas, who played defensive end at Virginia Tech, will be converting to outside linebacker with the Chiefs so there will be a learning process he will need to go through initially.
However, the talent and athleticism is there for Nicolas to develop into a genuine pass rushing threat off the edge for the Chiefs in the years to come.
San Diego Chargers – Jatavis Brown, OLB, Akron 5th rd. 38th pick (#175 overall)
Looking to improve some of their overall depth and team speed at linebacker the Chargers took a big step towards that direction by selecting the 2015 MAC Defensive Player of the Year in Akron’s Jatavis Brown, with their fifth-round pick.
Brown, who at 5’11” and 227 pounds ran a 4.47 at one of the NFL’s regional combines, was a tackling machine for Akron. In his four-years he totaled 340 tackles, a school-record 41.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, and 10 forced fumbles.
Brown possesses terrific instincts for the linebacker position. He plays fast and hard with a non-stop motor. Brown’s ability to quickly change directions, and natural-bend allow him to chase down ball carriers from sideline-to-sideline. He is an explosive tackler who can quickly close in on his targets.
Although he is strong (33 reps at 225-pounds) Brown’s size and ability to take on impact at the point of contact remain a slight concern in terms of how he will hold up physically in the NFL.
The Chargers will start him off at inside linebacker where he will be backing up starters Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o, but with his speed, quickness, and tacking ability a future move to safety isn’t totally out of the question for Brown.
Oakland Raiders – DeAndre Washington, RB Texas Tech 5th rd. 4th pick (#143 overall)
Washington is a multi-purpose back who led the Big-12 in total yards from scrimmage in 2015 with 1,877, while his 16 total touchdowns ranked third in the conference.
Washington is a thickly-built runner who plays with more power than most would expect out of someone who is 5’8” and 204 pounds. He runs hard with good balance showing off his lower-body strength. He demonstrates good instincts and vision able to quickly identify a hole and hits it hard.
Washington is also a very good pass catcher out of the backfield, finishing his collegiate career with 124 receptions.
He projects more as a change-of-pace back who can come and spell starter Latavius Murray for either a series or two or possibly even on third downs. With no other runner on the roster firmly entrenched as the primary back-up do not be surprised if Washington lays claim to that role coming out of training camp.
Danny Shimon is a graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp.
Follow Danny on Twitter @dshimon56
The Seattle Seahawks have been led by Pete Carroll for six seasons. During that time frame, Carroll led the club to five playoff berths, three division titles, two conference titles and one Super Bowl title. Seattle is just one year removed from making back-to-back Super Bowls. And yet, it feels as though the Seahawks are slipping out of the NFL forefront.
Part of that is self-explanatory. The salary cap has been catching up with this organization for a couple of years now. With so many highly talented players reaching the end of their deals, Seattle was forced to jettison a lot of depth as well as pay stars their market worth.
It started by moving on from players like Red Bryant, Percy Harvin and Zach Miller. Then it was Golden Tate, Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith and Brandon Browner. As the years went, Max Unger and Cary Williams were out the door in a trade and a release respectively. Russell Okung, Bruce Irvin, Brandon Mebane, Jaye Howard and J.R. Sweezy ventured elsewhere as well. Then Marshawn Lynch retired. Suddenly, the Seattle roster, which had been the envy of the league in terms of depth, looked like a stars-and-scrubs knockoff.
With those changes, it was only natural that the team would begin to decline. Even still, last year, while they were worse than they had been, the Seahawks still put together a pretty impressive season overall. I mean, making it to the to the second round of the playoffs is a huge achievement to most organizations. But that was far from the level of expectations of the fan base or the team itself.
This brings us to the 2016 NFL season, where Seattle seems to have taken yet another step back in the public consciousness. Another offseason has resulted in even more roster turnover. Perhaps more importantly, another season has seen the advancement of the Arizona Cardinals, who are now deemed the cream of the NFC West crop to most observers. It’s not necessarily that Seattle has gotten any worse, though its offensive line will certainly be an area of concern even after the selection of 2016 first-round pick Germain Ifedi; instead it’s that Arizona has passed it over.
But the Seahawks still have a case as an NFC title contender. They are still led by Pro Bowler Russell Wilson at quarterback. They have the breakout star at running back, Thomas Rawls, to fully take over for the departed Lynch after he played so well in a relief role a season ago. They have another full year of Jimmy Graham pending as the former Pro Bowl tight end gets acclimated into the offense. They still have the Legion of Boom and most of its founding members, as well as a fearsome linebacking corps.
Suddenly, the two-time conference title winner is looking like an underrated and under appreciated foe entering this season. Even the fans were starting to question some of the moves made by the Seahawks, leading to this feeling of disappointment. It is hard to imagine that a team that has won double-digit games for four straight seasons is being disregarded, but here we are. Just don’t bury the Seahawks among their past cap casualties just yet.
The Arizona Cardinals look like a Super Bowl contender at times, but then other times look pretty pedestrian. Last year they got to the NFC Championship Game, but once they got arrived, looked wretched while getting blown out by the Carolina Panthers.
Can Carson Palmer and the Cardinals get one game better and make it to the Super Bowl in 2017?
To answer this question, let’s first look at the other teams in the Cards division, the NFC West. The Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers would not appear to be good enough to finish ahead of the Cardinals. But the Seattle Seahawks very well could. This would put the Cards in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs. If that happens it means the Cardinals winning playoff games on the road. We saw how that went last year in Charlotte. So it seems almost necessary for them to win the division.
Let’s look at the Cardinals schedule, and see how realistic that is.
They start the season with a home game against the New England Patriots. This could be a break since Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games. Brady will be back for the Pats game with the Seattle Seahawks. So the Cardinals could pick up a game there.
Tampa Bay comes in for the second game. The Bucs should be improved over last year with second year quarterback Jameis Winston, but we still like the Cards in this one. The Cards also catch a break in Week Three because they go on the road to face the Buffalo Bills. If you have to play at Buffalo, playing there in September is when you want to do it because of the horrible weather conditions in November/December. The Cards have a great chance here too.
Week Four brings the Los Angeles Rams to the desert. The Cardinals should have a tough time, but they still can win at home. It seems like the first four games should leave the Cards at least a 3-1 to start, maybe even 4-0.
Then in Weeks Five through Eight, they have the San Francisco 49ers on the road, home games with the New York Jets and Seahawks and a road game with the Carolina Panthers. We know how tough that game at Carolina will be, but it still feels like a good chance they can split these four. They should beat the Niners and they ought to be able to get one of two between the Jets and Seahawks. So the Cards should being no worse than 5-3 at the halfway point seems very realistic.
Weeks Nine through Twelve have the 49ers at home, then away games with the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons and a home game with the Washington Redskins. If the cardinals can win in all four of these games where they are likely the much better team, that will put Arizona at 9-3.
The last four games are at the Miami Dolphins, a home game with the New Orleans Saints and two away games at the Seahawks and Rams. They should be able to get a split out of these two games. That puts their predicted finals regular season record at 11-5. The question thought is will that be enough to win the division? It will most likely end up being very close.
If the Cardinals can win the games they’re supposed to, and maybe even a few that they “shouldn’t,” they’ll be on their way to have a potential home field advantage in the early rounds of the playoff, possibly throughout. That just may be the missing pieces in order for them to make it back to the Super Bowl. Can they do it one more time for Larry Fitztgerald? Let’s hope so, the all time great deserves it!
After an offseason of speculation of who will be healthy and who will not, the PUP watch is on. The eagerly anticipated news of the week will be who is placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but what does it really mean?
As previously explained, there are two types of PUP, Active (for the preseason) and Reserve (for the regular season). The other designation is Non-Football Injury (NFI) which is used for injures not occurring during NFL football, which includes collegiate injuries.
One needs to be on Active/PUP even first, if only for a day, to be eligible for Reserve/PUP . Thus, is it not the end of the world if your favorite player is placed on PUP. For example, the Jets signed Muhammad Wilkerson to a big free agent contract but fans should not freak out, rather expect his appearance on PUP initially in case his ankle doesn’t respond as expected.
It says more when a player is not on PUP than when he is. The Ravens announced six players were not ready for training camp, including Steve Smith (Achilles), Terrell Suggs (Achilles), Elvis Dumervil (foot), Breshad Perriman (“partial” ACL), Trent Richardson (knee scope, hamstring) and Jumal Rolle (Achilles). Notably absent from this PUP list was Joe Flacco coming off ACL surgery. This speaks volumes to the team’s confidence in their QB’s recovery.
The Lions placed three players (WR Corey Fuller, TE Brandon Pettigrew, T Corey Robinson) on preseason PUP. The key is not that a player begins on PUP but when he comes off.
Jordy Nelson is reportedly doing well and had almost an entire calendar year to recover from his ACL tear; however, don’t be shocked if the medically conservative Packers start him on PUP. Sometimes, it is just the team taking the precaution and leaving the worst case option of Reserve/PUP open if there is a setback.
The Cowboys reportedly will start TE Gavin Escobar on PUP after a Week 15 Achilles rupture. The Bills will undoubtedly start Shaq Lawson on Active/PUP and convert him to Reserve/PUP to save the roster spot and get him back this season after shoulder surgery in May.
There are some big names coming off injury: Jamaal Charles (ACL), Dion Lewis (ACL), Jimmy Graham (patella tendon), Thomas Rawls (ankle fracture), Sammy Watkins (Jones fracture) and Julian Edelman (Jones fracture). Don’t be surprised if many of these names at least start training camp on PUP. The key will be how long they stay on the list and unable to practice.
The annual PUP watch is on.
MMMD 1: J.J. Watt’s back surgery isn’t the issue, rehab is
Although back surgery is nothing to scoff at, the herniated disc procedure for the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year is relatively straightforward. The rehab of the core muscles for this injury is more unpredictable.
While it is possible that Watt will play Week 1, it is very unlikely that he will be 100% until mid-season. The Chiefs’ Dontari Poe had a similar surgery and a late July 2015 time frame and indeed returned to play Week 1 but was not himself until much later.
The disc procedure was undoubtedly in the lower lumbar spine at L5-S1 or L4-5 level meaning it affects the player’s base. In my NFL experience, it is harder for a power player like a defensive lineman to return to full effectiveness than a skill position. After all, playing on the D line is like wrestling a bear (or two).
The Texans medical staff didn’t miss the injury and Watt didn’t delay surgery. Yes he played with a herniated disc (many players do) last season; however, it likely got worse, or extruded, leading the team and player to decide to be aggressive. Pulling the trigger now on surgery assures Watt being 100% for the critical parts of the later season.
MMMD 2: Bell suspension minimal real effect on Steelers
Le’Veon Bell is still recovering from his multi-ligament knee injury. In reality, the four-game suspension will just give him more time to recover and might not really be costing additional game time. Combined PCL/MCL injuries are harder to recover from than an ACL tear.
Bell was likely to start training camp on active/PUP and work his way back in anyways. The biggest significance is that he will have to find his own rehab and workout place as he will not be allowed to be with the team during the first four weeks of the regular season. The Steelers are likely to factor in the suspension in deciding when to activate Bell. This is not illegal, as when Bell is ready to play is a subjective decision anyways.
The bigger worry for Bell is that this counts as a second strike. A third violation would mean a one-year suspension. He needs to continue on random testing and this potential jeopardy could cost him in his pending contract status.
MMMD 3: A change in stance on Jaylon Smith?
The Cowboys have always expressed confidence in their high second-round pick’s nerve recovery. Has that now changed?
Jerry Jones remained steadfast in his comments that Smith is not behind in his recovery; however, he did say “if it comes around” not when. This is the first acknowledgement from the team that it might not. Let’s all continue to hope that it does.
MMMD 4: New IR/dfr rule
The amended injured reserve-designated for return (IR/dfr) rule should benefit clubs and players. In the past, a team needed to designate the single slot with the initial roster move. Last season, the Steelers wasted their only IR/dfr slot on Maurkice Pouncey, as he was unable to return after his ankle fracture as he ended up with seven additional surgeries due to infection.
This year, teams can place players on IR and not make the decision on which player they want to return until the player is ready to come back. This removes the worry of teams of using the designation too early in case a star player gets injured later or holding the spot and wasting it in the end. It also prevents using it on the wrong player, as in the case of Pouncey. This rule change is a good improvement.
MMMD 5: NFL medical director “retires”
Elliot Pellman, the longtime Park Avenue medical voice, has been asked to step down by the commissioner. Pellman and the NFL have made their share of mistakes over time. No one is going to shed a tear in his departure.
People seem to want a “scalp”, rather than focus on a solution. Now they have Pellman’s so lets focus on fixes. Hopefully this signals a new era where the NFL, NFLPA, concussion researchers and media stop playing politics.
The bigger issue is perhaps the NFL will now be forced to have a real medical advisor. I am not at all knocking current chief health and medical advisor, Betsy Nabel. However, working on a part-time basis one day a month is hardly enough time to tackle all of the health and safety issues in the NFL. Hopefully the new medical director can have the time and resources to truly lead the NFL where it needs to go.
MMMD 6: Dennis Green passes away
One of my early experiences as a NFL team physician was with the Dennis Green coached Minnesota Vikings in 1994. I had the fortune of taking my first NFL road trip with that special team. Besides Green, there were some great coaches on that staff including Brian Billick and Tony Dungy as well as future head coach Jack Del Rio who was playing at the time. Four players on that squad, Warren Moon, Randall McDaniel, John Randle and Cris Carter, would later be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I will remember Green fondly and may he rest in peace.
MMMD 7: ProFootballDoc scorecard
When Desmond Bryant of the Browns was announced with a pectoral muscle injury, I immediately indicated it was likely a tendon tear and surgery would be needed, essentially costing him the season. Unfortunately, this has come true, but the good news is he will recover 100% for 2017.
When Muhammad Wilkerson broke his leg last season, I tweeted he would recover well and it would not have a negative effect on his pending free agency. Indeed, the Jets resigned him to a big contract as expected.
This takes the 2016 record from 10-0 to 12-0.