Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Fantasy Football cheat guide
Everywhere across the United States and perhaps the world fans are eagerly awaiting the 2011 NFL season. With the NFL season starting that means fantasy football drafts are currently going on. I'm in three leagues and I've drafted in one league with two more left to go. Now I'm afraid I'm pulling a Billy Beane in money ball where I'm telling my secrets so my opponents will catch up to me. In this following post I'll give some basic advice and give you some insight on what I think to do for fantasy football drafts. Keep in mind everyone loves how they drafted and a good chance the winner of your league is based on who played the waiver wire the best. I'll give plenty of basic advice to follow which should land you in the playoffs and hopefully win your fantasy football league(unless your playing with me of course). This is like in poker where I'll be telling you ABC poker.
I still think the number one rule is to attack the running back position. In a basic 12 team league you typically start two running backs and then one or two flex positions. In the NFL only 32 starting running backs with some of them sharing time you want to have the monopoly on running backs. For an example Arian Foster last year racked up 307 points in fantasy while the second place guy was Peyton Hillis who had 220.19 and 10th was Rashard Mendenhall 188.49 then Mike Tolbert was 20th with 140.91 points. Also pay attention to the depth charts as Foster last year typically went in the fourth-sixth round while Hillis was a free agent pick up. Foster scored 118.51(7.41 points per week) more than the 10th ranked running back. I personally like to have drafted two running backs before I take my first receiver and three running backs if not four running backs before I take my first tight end. Ideally in a PPR league you want running backs who rack up receptions so even if they have a poor reality game they still have a good fantasy game. The top five pass catchers at the running back position were Lesean McCoy(78 receptions), Arian Foster(68 receptions), Ray Rice(63 receptions), Peyton Hillis(61 receptions) and Darren Sproles(59 receptions). Those first four should go in the first round although Hillis and McCoy seem to fall out of the top 10 so don't hesitate to draft them.
In fantasy football like teams do in real life you always have to be prepared for injuries. Many fantasy owners saw their season go down the drain in 2008 when Tom Brady was injured first game. Now a smart owner will take a backup quarterback who has upside in round seven or eight. You always want to make sure you have insurance on your first round pick. If he is in a friendly offense take his backup. So if you have Michael Vick don't be afraid to draft Vince Young. If you draft a running back in the first round always take his handcuff even if he sits on your bench doing nothing. You don't want to be the Priest Holmes owner in 2005 when he was injured then Larry Johnson blew up. In general I'd avoid taking a quarterback in the first round. Last year Aaron Rodgers scored 290.43 points and the second highest was Tom Brady with 287.03. The 10th ranked quarterback was Eli Manning with 218.05 points, the 20th ranked guy was Sam Bradford with 172.24 points. The difference between the #1 ranked quarter back and the 10th guy was only 72.38 points(4.52 points a week) which is half the difference between the #1 running back and #10 running back. If you have a late first round pick I'd do what I did my last draft take McCoy first round then on the way back take Drew Brees or Rodgers. If you have an early pick don't take Vick instead take a running back then on the way back take another running back then in the third round take a Tony Romo type. The different between the #1 quarterback and sixth quarterback isn't that much.
Speaking of Michael Vick he is a prime example of my previous paragraph. How many Kevin Kolb owners last year screamed "oh crap!" when Kolb went down then some owner snatched up Vick off free agency? Andy Reid has a friendly offense so having Vick on your roster would have been a smart move. This year I think Vick is being grossly overrated in fantasy. Now is Vick great? Yes but to take a quarterback in the top three of your draft is just being crazy. With so much talent at the quarterback position just stick to running backs. Although Vick is very tempting because he can run and pass. Vick is injury prone so if you take Vick early take running backs next three picks then as a backup acquire someone like Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman or Kevin Kolb. Hopefully your league has a waiver pick up so the guy who has the least life who sits on the computer all day doesn't just pick up a bunch of players week one. Vick changed leagues throughout fantasy last year although he didn't win one fantasy title in the three leagues I was in. If anything remember to take a quarterback in round three and go with running backs you'll thank me when you make the playoffs.
In most fantasy leagues it pays to be balanced not fantasy football. Let your buddy be "balanced" as he goes running back, quarterback, wide receiver, and then tight end. Go unbalance and go running back, running back, quarterback then running back. At the end of the day it's about who has the most points and the running backs especially those who rack up receptions rack up the most points. For receivers Roddy White had the most points with 228.29, Dwayne Bowe was second with 219.74. The 10th rated receiver was Stevie Johnson with 178.55. The difference between the top rated receiver and 10th was only 49.74(3.10 per week difference). The 20th ranked receiver Mario Manningham scored 151.07 points which is only 27.48 from the 10th receiver(1.71 points difference). There isn't much of a difference between the top tier receivers and mid tier receivers then bottom tier receivers. The same goes for tight ends as Witten led with 169.80, Antonio Gates was second with 143.14 while Zach Miller had 107.66. The difference was 62.14(3.88 points difference). The difference between Gates and Miller was just 35.48(2.21) points. So while someone in your league takes the top rated tight end because he is head and shoulders above everyone else remember that Witten scored just 28.89 points(1.80 per week) more than the 20th ranked running back and just 18.73 more than the 20th ranked wide receiver(1.17 per week). Witten is also scoring 2.44 less points than the 20th ranked quarter back. Like I said let someone else be balanced while you build an unbalanced team that is smashing your friend.
I have one rule I always obey when drafting in fantasy football which is I always take a kicker in the last round. I simply don't care about having the best kicker. As some chase the top kicker I'll be taking my fifth or sixth running back while getting some really good value. The top kicker was the Oakland Raiders Sebestian Janikowski who scored 158 points, the 10th kicker was Mason Crosby with 124 points and the 20th was Gano with 111 points. The difference between the #1 kicker and 10th is only 34 points(2.1 points per week) and 20th kicker is 47 points(2.93 points). I'll take a kicker the very last round and let my opponent be "balanced" while I stock up on running backs. You want to buy your running backs in bulk because some will bust but some will emerge. You will kick yourself for passing on a sleeper back but you'll never kick yourself for passing on the top kicker. Same goes for defenses as the New England Patriots scored the most points with 182, the Pittsburgh Steelers were second with 169 points. The Dallas Cowboys were 10th with 132 points and the Cleveland Browns were 20th with 118 points. The difference between the top defense and 10th defense is 64 points(4.0 points per week). I tend to grab two defenses who are ranked like eighth and 12th somewhere in that range and play matchups I feel that is better than picking high on a defense. I noticed when one guy takes a defense or a kicker everyone copies. Just sit back and take stock up on running backs.
One last piece of advice is pay attention to the coach. Think what you want about Norv Turner but his quarterbacks thrive in his offense. Why Phillip Rivers despite losing Vincent Jackson keeps getting better. I drafted him in a keeper league in the seventh round back in 2007 and he guided me to a regular season fantasy championship in 2008 and won me a fantasy championship in 2009. Don't fall into the trap of the Denver Broncos passing numbers as Josh McDaniels is gone while John Fox who is more consertative is there. Instead look at Sam Bradford who McDaniels is now the offensive coordinator for. Other than Wes Welker avoid all New England receivers as Tom Brady likes to spread the ball around. One week your guy can blow up for you while the next week he does nothing for you. Mike Shannahan has a habit of producing good running games but he also likes to mix up who he starts. So keep an eye on who he is using at running back which it appears to be Tim Hightower so he could bust out. The key is knowing who is coaching your player if he leans on the pass or the run. Also draft guys on good offenses you don't want your team full of Seattle Seahawks or Buffalo Bills. You want plenty of players on high scoring teams which increases the chance of your guy scoring a touchdown.
In conclusion, if you remember anything from this post that is to go heavy on running backs. I know that is boring advice but that is winning advice. Don't worry about starting two receivers ranked in the teens and a tight end ranked lower than 10th. Just grab a top six quarterback and load up on running backs. If you go running back, quarterback, running back, and running back you'll make the playoffs. Just make sure to look on the waiver wire as plenty of big time guys emerge from the waiver wire. Hopefully your team can stay healthy as losing your first round pick is tough. Look at the tendancies of the coaching staff of the player you are drafting from. Keep in mind this is fantasy and not real life so although Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the NFL don't waste a first round pick on him. Also try to avoid all Seattle Seahawks other than Zach Miller as he is the only player worth starting on your roster. Hopefully you enjoyed my fantasy football advice. I know I may have pulled a Billy Beane where my opponents will close the gap on me but I welcome the challenge.