The 2 Point Conversion

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Squeezing Value Out of Your Fantasy Football Draft


Fantasy football drafts have been tightening up, and consequently, you will find that your favorite sleeper pick is now being taken in the ninth round instead of the thirteenth. Whatever the reason, people are drafting better, leaving fewer studs to slip through the cracks of rounds one and two and snatching up the best kept secrets at more reasonable selections. Don’t be discouraged, however, for there are still many bargains to be had.

The amount of elite quarterbacks are dramatically changing the first three to five rounds of all fantasy mock drafts, and you need to play this new phenomenon to your advantage if you wish to conduct a successful draft. When the top flight passers go early, which means 7 in the top 40 selections, there is very desirable talent on the board at other positions when you are on the clock in the fourth, fifth, or even sixth rounds. Jonathan Stewart, well worth a third round selection, is now sliding to the bottom of the fourth round sometimes. Knowing that a solid #2 runner will be on the board in the fourth or fifth rounds allows you to draft a second receiver or a top tier tight end much earlier than you would have normally.

When the quarterbacks don’t fly off the board, however, one lucky owner can land himself Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, or Matt Schaub in the 40-50 overall range. So, don’t get mesmerized by Brees’ magical ‘09 numbers and pick him fifth overall. Instead, wait until the third round to consider your options at quarterback. At that point, if you aren’t convinced a quarterback you love will fall to you in round 4, take one. If three or four are still on the board though, take a runner or receiver you wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. Personally, I don’t see a huge difference between Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Philip Rivers. While the former two will go in the top 15, I would much rather spend my first round pick on a great RB and wait to select Rivers than have Drew Brees in hand and pick between my #12 WR and #14 RB at 43 overall. In fact, I have tested the QB very early strategy just to make sure I didn’t want to go in that direction. I was very disappointed with the results. The two mock drafts I have posted below contrast the QB-WR-RB-WR and RB-WR-WR-QB strategies.

slot 10/12
A. Rodgers, QB, GB
M. Austin, WR, DAL
J. Stewart, RB, CAR
A. Boldin, WR, BAL
B. Jacobs, RB, NYG
P. Garcon, WR, IND
J. Harrison, RB, CLE
M. Floyd, WR, SD
Cowboys DEF
H. Miller, TE, PIT
J. Forsett, RB, SEA
C. Schilens, WR, OAK
M. Bush, RB, OAK
A. Smith, QB, SF
S. Graham, K, BAL

 

slot 11/12
S. Greene, RB, NYJ
M. Austin, WR, DAL
A. Boldin, WR, BAL
M. Schaub, QB, HOU
B. Jacobs, RB, NYG
H. Ward, WR, PIT
F. Jones, RB, DAL
K. Winslow, TE, TB
M. Floyd, WR, SD
Cowboys DEF
M. Bush, RB, OAK
C. Schilens, WR, OAK
J. Carlson, TE, SEA
A. Smith, QB, SF
D. Carpenter, K, MIA

As you can see, the starters in each draft are nearly identical. I would rather have Matt Schaub and Shonn Greene than Aaron Rodgers and Jonathan Stewart, is what I’m really trying to say. Where you take your signal caller really is what holds the key to how much value you can get in your fantasy draft. If you really believe in Joe Flacco or Brett Favre, take one of them in the eighth round and you should be rock solid at the other positions. I, however, see a big drop-off after the big 7 (Rodgers, Brees, Schaub, P. Manning, Rivers, Brady, Romo) and am willing to take a small hit in my RB stable to ensure I get one of the seven. So long and until next time, fantasy football managers.

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July 13, 2010 Posted by | Fantasy Football | Leave a comment

Split Decision: Michael Crabtree vs. Chad Ochocinco


In today’s edition of Split Decision, Michael Crabtree and Chad Ochocinco will do battle. On average, they are being drafted in the fourth round as #2 receivers. Should you go with the emerging but unproven 49er or the established but regressing Bengal when you are on the clock?

Michael Crabtree’s rookie season was really a waste because of his contract dispute, and he consequently caught barely five times as many passes as the first receiver drafted, Darrius Heyward-Bey. He missed the first five games of the season and did not participate in any offseason workouts. Still, he caught 48 passes for 625 yards despite the fact that he had no chemistry with his quarterback(s), whoever they were. Project those totals over a 16 game schedule, and Crabtree hauls in 70 balls good for 909 yards. Again, that’s with Alex Smith under center, who he has absolutely no rhythm with running routes. This season, Crabtree is a prime breakout candidate. With probably the softest schedule in the league, regular season experience, and an offseason under his belt, all the signs point to a much more impressive season for the second year man out of Texas Tech. Crabtree should also get many of Vernon Davis’ touchdowns since the latter’s 13 touchdown season was a fluke. Even with a shaky quarterback and a coach that likes to pound the rock, Crabtree will win one-on-one battles in the secondary and impress this season. He is an underrated receiver worth a selection between 35th and 40th overall as a top flight #2 receiver.

Prediction: 80 catches, 1,050 receiving yards, 7 receiving TDs. 147 FPTS (9.2 per game)

After a supremely disappointing 2008 season, Chad Ochocinco rebounded nicely last year to grab 72 passes and find the endzone 9 times. He was Cincinnati’s only real receiving threat, but that will change this year after the Bengals added Antonio Bryant via free agency and spent their first round selection on tight end Jermaine Gresham. Those arrivals coupled with the probable suspension of Cedric Benson and departure of Larry Johnson signal a more heavy reliance on the passing game, at least in the early parts of the season. However, Ocho may end up getting fewer targets because of the signings of other legitimate targets. Also, Chad is almost 33 and has been publicly criticized by Carson Palmer for his lack of focus on football during the offseason. He will see more single coverage, but that alone won’t compensate for his decrease in targets and potentially fracturing relationship with his quarterback. Still, Ochocinco presents little risk and is worth taking in the fifth round as a mid to low end #2 receiver. Just don’t expect him to best his numbers from ’09 or even duplicate them.

Prediction: 65 catches, 950 receiving yards, 6 receiving TDs. 131 FPTS(8.2 per game)

Decision: Michael Crabtree. Both are locked in as #1 receivers on run-first teams, but Crabtree is much younger and talented than Ochocinco. Antonio Bryant will steal more targets than Josh Morgan, and Crabtree should find the endzone much more often. This is not that close of a call.

July 11, 2010 Posted by | Fantasy Football | Leave a comment

Split Decision: Joseph Addai vs. Felix Jones


I do much of my fantasy football through Yahoo, and really like their idea of “Spin Doctors” that they do with players who have fairly equal value in the eyes of the public. Two writers, each defending a different player, make their case for their guy and you are left to decide in the end. While I almost always have my mind made up going in, I always learn some new nuggets of information which can lead me to tweak my rankings on occasion. So, I will attempt a one man, 2 Point Conversion version of “Spin Doctors”, entitled “Split Decision.”

I decided on Addai and Jones because they are numbers 49 and 50 in ADP according to http://fantasyfootballcalculator.com/adp.php with Addai holding the slightest edge. Deciding between the pair also gave me pause, as I believe both are low-end #2 RBs. Both have considerable upsides, but also legitimate concerns. Addai got 74% of the carries between he and fellow rookie Donald Brown. Since Addai averaged only 3.8 yards per carry, the Colts will probably allow Donald Brown to eat into his workload. However, even if the Colts take 3 touches away from Addai every game, he will still average over 14 a game. I predict Addai will get between 230 and 250 touches next season, after he had 270 in 2009. Still, he is the goal line back in one of the most efficient offenses in the league, and there is no reason to believe he will score less than 8-10 touchdowns along with his healthy load of touches, which will come consistently. So, Addai’s floor is relatively high due to the ample scoring opportunities, but he may barely scratch the 1,000 yard mark in yards from scrimmage. With 2009 first round pick Donald Brown in the backfield, Addai will no longer have 230 or 250 carry seasons, and he is simply not explosive enough to be a thousand yard rusher on the amount of carries he will get. He is worth a fifth round pick in your league and should be steady, but unspectacular.

Prediction: 740 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs, 390 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs. 173 FPTS (10.8 per game).

Felix Jones showed everybody what he could do on 9 touches a game. He averaged under 6 yards per carry and his workload figures to dramatically increase this season. Dallas will have about 450 carries to divy up between Jones, Barber, and Tashard Choice. I expect Choice to receive about 100 of them, but he has no chance of surpassing everybody to the top of the depth chart barring injuries. Marion Barber should only receive about half of what he did last year (214), leaving Jones with more than 200 carries. However, nobody really knows how those carries will be split up. Felix Jones is a good bet to rack up 1,400 total yards and 6-8 touchdowns, but the bust possibility is real, unlike with Addai. Also, unlike Addai, Felix Jones will give up goal line work to Marion the Barbarian, a premier goal line back and closer. Still, he is explosive enough to do well on limited carries, though he will not be consistent enough to produce as a RB2 in that situation. However, I believe he will get at least 175 carries, meaning at least 210 or so touches, which he should turn in to a solid season.

Barber’s carries can also be lower than what people expect as well. After all, Barber had by far the lowest yards per carry out of the three backs and has endured a lot of punishment for a 27-year-old runner. If this is the case, Felix Jones would be closer to 300 touches, which would go for in the neighborhood of 1,700 total yards and up to 9 or 10 touchdowns. Jones becomes a true #1 RB in this case and cements himself as one of the premier backs in the league. Only time will tell, I suppose.

Prediction: 980 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs, 350 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs. 175 FPTS (10.9 per game)

Decision: Felix Jones. This is a close call, and if you need to draft one as your starter, Addai is probably the safer pick due to his goal line duties. However, if you are looking for a third RB or simply one with a ton of potential, Felix Jones may reward you with a championship.

July 10, 2010 Posted by | Fantasy Football | Leave a comment

That Time of Year Again


When Jamarcus Russell and Michael Vick, a backup and a free agent, dominate the news across the NFL landscape, you know it’s a slow time of year. What to do to fill the time? Besides LeBronapalooza and the World Cup, the correct answer for sports nuts would be fantasy football. Today, I completed my first two fantasy mock drafts. For those of you only concerned with actual football, I advise you to leave this page and go read about Jamarcus some more.

I was very curious about this season, and going in I kept my eye on a few situations. First, there are eight quarterbacks most fantasy players would consider at least 3rd or 4th round picks (Rodgers, Brees, Manning, Favre, Romo, Brady, Rivers, Schaub in no particular order). I doubted very seriously that eight of ten people would be willing with such a high pick to guarantee themselves a top flight signal caller. Make that eight of nine, because I refuse to take a QB in the first two rounds and it would take great value for me to pick one in the third or even fourth round. I did want one of the seven (I don’t consider Favre elite this season) however, and was resigned to taking one in the fourth. To my chagrin, Matt Schaub, Tony Romo, and Philip Rivers all went in the fourth round and before my pick. I later settled for Favre in round 6. Those same seven quarterbacks lasted even shorter in my next draft in which I was able to snag Philip Rivers with the 29th overall pick.

The implications of the 7 passers in the first 30-35 picks were both obvious and big. They push talented backs and receivers way down the draft board, and this is a trend I expect to continue right up until late August. In my first draft, I was able to net DeAngelo Williams with the 25th selection, a full round after he should go in my opinion. In my second draft, three QBs went in the first round, which allowed me to pick Andre Johnson with my #9 selection and Greg Jennings early in the fourth round. With less elite passers, Johnson would have gone between the 5 and 7 slots and Jennings would have been a sure-fire third rounder. My advice would be to resist the temptation of drafting Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees with a top 5 pick and wait until the third or early fourth round to get your Matt Schaub or Tony Romo. The difference between Rodgers and Schaub will probably be smaller than the difference between Ray Rice and Felix Jones.

Another situation I wanted to observe was where first year starters would find their niches in a fantasy draft. Do people really want to spend a top 15 pick on Rashard Mendenhall or Shonn Greene or will they opt for a proven veteran instead? How will people look at Jamaal Charles, Ryan Mathews, and Jerome Harrison? The biggest surprise was without a doubt Jerome Harrison. While Jamaal Charles (my #19 RB) consistently went in round 3, people viewed Harrison (my #22 RB) in a much different light. In fact, I was able to pick him up in round 12 in one of the drafts. Why are their perceived values so different? Both play on lousy offenses with dreadful passing games and offensive lines with considerably large holes in them. Both took on large roles towards the end of the season and gave their teams huge boosts in their ground games. I give Charles the edge because he plays in a much easier division and is more explosive. He was also more highly regarded coming out of college, and was very impressive at Texas. Harrison however was the MVP for Cleveland’s four game win streak at the tail end of the season, costing them Sam Bradford in all likelihood.

I also found out that I had no idea where kickers played. Since when did Shayne Graham move to the rival Ravens? Rackers plays for Houston? Jay Feely’s left the Jets? I’m already getting a good feel for this season. Last year, I wanted a top 4 pick, but I’m loving the middle picks this year. I was comfortable at #9 out of 10 as well, but I much prefered the fifth slot. I’ve also found out that you can find a #2 RB in round 5 or even round 6 if you get lucky. So, I my early strategy looks roughly like this: RB-WR-QB-WR-RB-WR.

I’m also quite surprised at how low some players are going, so I now have sleepers that I didn’t expect to be. Keep in mind that these drafts had only 10 teams. At quarterback, the most undervalued guys are Joe Flacco and Donovan McNabb. I consider Flacco a low-end #1 QB who can be had in round 9. McNabb is a real nice backup plan available in rounds 10 or 11. At running back, Steven Jackson (my #5 RB)  is going in the middle of the second round, a victim of the early run on signal callers. DeAngelo Williams is slipping out of the second round way too often. Brandon Jacobs and Jonathan Stewart are often lasting as long as round 7 or 8 and I already mentioned Jerome Harrison. As far as pass catchers go, I love Anquan Boldin. He never cracked the top 35 or 40 picks and has top 5 overall potential as a true #1 playing with a franchise QB. Braylon Edwards is a guy I happily snatched up in the 13th round of both my drafts. Malcom Floyd is one of my favorite sleepers who is well worth a flier after round 12. He is a big-time red zone target a 6’5″ for an elite quarterback in a passing offense. He will also be the #1 wideout during Vincent Jackson’s suspension. He had nearly 800 yards last season and he will almost surely best those numbers by a sizeable margin. He should be fine to draft as a #3 WR. The most undervalued player, however, is Zach Miller, the Raiders’ tight end. At age 24, he is poised for a breakout season alongside a potent passer for once, Jason Campbell. Last season with Bruce Gradkowski/Jamarcus Russell at the helm, Miller caught 66 passes for over 800 yards despite missing a game due to injury. Campbell also loves his tight ends, so expect Miller to match Chris Cooley’s production he had between 2005 and 2008. Until more mock drafts get done, this is the most advice I have for you. Good luck this season guys.

July 6, 2010 Posted by | Fantasy Football | Leave a comment