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Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

A million other sites will tell you all you want to know about ADP, projections, injuries, etc.

That’s all important, but in your redraft leagues- the ones you’ve been in for years with the same guys & gals- you have the best chance to crush your draft.

How? Get the results from your last few drafts, use our Draft Planalyzer, and read our 3P strategy series.

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Draftologist.com is pleased to kick off the 2014 fantasy football draft season with some sound strategy advice from guest contributor Jess Tarling.

Fantasy Football Drafting Advice

If you are a NFL fan, it seems like the fall can’t get here soon enough. It is always tough to get through the summer months, but most people who play fantasy football tend to look at projections and ratings heading into the fall to pass the time. Having the right draft strategy in fantasy football can make a huge difference. Here are a few tips to work on between now and draft day.

Fantasy Playoff Weeks Are Huge

As long as you are one of the top teams in your regular season, it all comes down to the playoffs. That is why it is extremely important to take note of who your top players go up against to end the regular season. Scheduling is always going to be imbalanced in some way, and a top quarterback could be facing difficult defenses to end the regular season. You want the most favorable matchups possible when the season is on the line.

Avoid Rookie Quarterbacks

The 2014 NFL draft class had a few intriguing quarterbacks taken early on, but none of them are nearly ready to compete on a weekly basis and put up huge numbers in fantasy football. For starters, guys like Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater are not on very good teams. Secondly, they are not nearly on the same level as other rookies who have had success from the very beginning such as Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.

Running Back Comes Down To Depth

In an era with very few featured running backs left, it is more important to have depth on your roster. After all, it is perhaps the most important position in fantasy football. Injuries are also fairly common, so having depth can help soften the blow if your 1st or 2nd round player goes down with an injury and has to miss a few games.

Tight Ends Matter

Just like the NFL is changing with how they handle running backs, the league as a whole seems to be throwing the football to the tight end on a consistent basis. In fact, that position in a way is turning into a receiver for the passing game. Not every tight end is going to be as productive as Jimmy Graham, but make sure you get a good one earlier than normal.

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Run a search on Google for “fantasy football draft strategy” and you’ll get over 4.5 million hits.

Question: How many of those links can give you specific information about your redraft league’s tendencies on draft day?

Answer: None. Zip. Zero. There is only one place to get that information, and that is from your past years’ draft results. Still got ‘em? Good. Beginning this weekend, the Draftologist will walk you through preparing, planning and perfecting your draft strategy- the 3P Draft Strategy.

We’ll leverage the Draft Planalyzer, available here for free. And, new this year, we’ll delve into generating sensible baselines and even a custom ADP list that you can use to own your draft.

Redraft leagues have three seasons: Draft, regular and playoff. Maximize your chances of  joining the playoff fun in *your* league and stay tuned this week. You can start, right now, by reading our Introduction.

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Last year, and really for several years, I’ve been studying the population of top QBs, RBs and WRs in terms of age and experience. The study began back in 2007 in examining the Running Back Rule of Thumb- don’t trust an RB 30 and over. I expanded the study to QBs and WRs to discover that age and experience alone can help you winnow down the prospective pool of top players to target.

This year, we do away with the ‘sweet spot’ concept and instead look at the whole picture, breaking players into three tiers based on age and experience still, but trying to identify who you should target in a given age/experience tier, along with the number of players you should expect to be in the top ranks in a given position. Check it out here, or above, under Articles-> Dog-Day Tiers.

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It’s a new fantasy football season, and the second year of studying draftology here at Draftologist.com. Or perhaps we should call it ‘redraftology’, since that what we look at here- studying the past in redraft leagues to predict how this year’s draft may go, giving you valuable insight on how to plan for this year.

Last year, we spent the lock-out summer introducing the “3P Draft Strategy” with an accompanying spreadsheet-based tool called the DAW, or draft analyzer workbook. I encourage you to look back at our 2011 work, and while we will ‘reboot’ and walk through the process once again, we will layer in more ideas and improvements to both the content and the DAW.

We begin by looking to the past, since the data we use here are up to the last three drafts in our leagues. But for now we’re just going to look at last season, and we’ll use a draft that won a coveted championship in an amateur, private league that’s been around for 13 years.

THE PLAN & THE PROBLEM:

A plan infers that there is a problem to be tackled. The problem at its simplest appears to be deciding which players to draft in which order. True.. but that’s not the complete problem. You know who you’d love to draft, for the most part. You’re not the problem. The true puzzle we want to solve is what order your league-mates are going to want to draft players in. Know that, and you have the upper hand! You may not get the exact players you want, but you’ll have a great idea of who will be available when, and can then plan accordingly to whatever level of detail you wish.

As espoused here last year, this fantasy football Draftologist follows the principles of value-based drafting, or VBD. Intimate familiarity with the league rules, especially the scoring system (performance-based with a point per reception and 6 points for QB TD in this case), is also critical to creating a realistic plan. Finally, an understanding of how the competition values players is invaluable. You can gain a baseline by studying the average draft position of players during the preseason; we endeavor to do better here by learning how your league-mates will value players and what order they’ll draft them in.

BACK TO THE FUTURE:

We begin by looking at last year’s draft. Let’s just start with yours; we’ll walk through the one previously mentioned. What you want to see is what worked and what didn’t.

Using the DAW and three years of data, we mapped out a plan in 2011 that adhered to the principles described at here Drafotlogist.com. We punted the K and IDP positions to the end of the draft since the waiver wire always has rosterable players for those positions. We filled offensive positions across the board until taking a K in round 16 followed by 4 straight IDP to fill out requirements.

We’ll begin with a look by position. The team in our true-life example had pick #3 in a snaking 12 team, 20 round draft. The starting positions: QB/RB/WR/TE/O-FLEX (RB,WR or TE, Qty 3)/K/DL/LB/DB/D-FLEX.

QB:

In this league, the QBs tend to go off the board throughout the draft, 1 to 2 per round from the start. The plan here was to take Peyton Manning if he was there in round 3, and back him up with Matt Stafford in the 6th round. If you recall, during that week between preseason games 3 and 4, there was a fair amount of confidence that Manning was going to come back in 2011. Stafford was a high-upside insurance pick but he hadn’t been able to stay healthy in years previous. Unfortunately, Manning never came back, making the third pick a throw-away. But Stafford turned in a monster year and was a key component of this championship fantasy team. FYI when Manning was lost, we picked up Alex Smith (SF) off waivers as a solid backup and trade-bait for later in the season.

RB:

As in many PPR leagues, stud RBs are the most potent position here. Sitting at pick 3, with Jamaal Charles (stupid pick since he was hurt- owner didn’t know) and Ray Rice gone, we rolled the dice and took Adrian Foster (we were targeting Rice, who wound up finishing #1!). Foster was hurt and didn’t do much of anything until week 4, but was solid after that. We followed that pick up with MJD at 2.10, who turned in a monster season. We took DeAngelo Williams at 4.10 (Bust, traded), Danny Woodhead 10.10 (Bust), Pierre Thomas 11.10 (OK as RB3) & LaRod Stephens-Howling 15.3 (Bust). The tag team of Foster and MJD (finished 4th and 5th), with Thomas (21st) as a filler, really helped solidify the line-up. We passed up Adrian Peterson, who had a good year until he was hurt, but clearly Foster was the right choice when the season’s dust settled.

WR:

We liked the depth at WR and willingly sacrificed what may have been a good one at 3.3 to get Manning. Had we followed our own rules and not went after Manning (too old, too many seasons), we could have had our choice of Dwayne Bowe (woudn’t have taken him since I didn’t like KC), Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, etc. As far as what happened, though, we took Santonio Holmes 5.3 (WR3 at best), Santana Moss 7.3 (fine until injured, but had Victor Cruz off waivers- who was #4 WR overall!), Sidney Rice 9.3 (Bust), Hines Ward 12.10 (Bust) & Denarius Moore 13.3 (Bust). WR was an unsettled position until a week 12 trade that shipped three spare parts to a desperate owner in return for Wes Welker, so it was like a second change with that third pick. But as far as the draft went, WR was almost a total loss. Moss only helped for half the season, and Holmes was a warm body that contributed a smidge. Fortunately, other positions over-performed, masking the deficiency here until Cruz and Welker locked it down.

TE:

One word: Gronk. We liked the press on him from last season, the situation he was in for 2011 (no good red-zone targets other than him), and the preseason vibe. We got him at 8.10 and, in the immortal words of Keith Jackson, “Whoa, Nellie!” Gronk turned in a historic season both in NFL and fantasy terms when you look at the TE position. In our league, Gronk finished 13th OVERALL. Only a dozen players surpassed him- and 8 of them were QBs! Gronk would have ranked as the #3 RB or WR. Absolutely incredible.. and we got him late in the eighth round. Talk about value! Certainly, he was the clear difference-maker in terms of winning a championship. Further, we backed him up with Dustin Keller at 14.10, who finished as the #10 TE.

That’s really all we’ll go into in depth. We took Mason Crosby at 16.10 and never had to worry about a K until the bye week. We drafted four IDP in rounds 17-20 but none finished on the roster. We paid for deviating from principles in drafting Manning and old WRs. We’ll learn from those mistakes (and make entirely different ones, probably).

That said, only 8 players drafted remained on the championship game roster. It isn’t just about the draft, as fantasy football players know well. But the 8 that counted at the end- Stafford, Foster, MJD, Thomas, Holmes, Gronkowski, Crosby and Keller (who was waived at one point but reacquired when Gronk got hurt late) made up a championship-winning core in the most important positions.

Next time, we’ll start prepping for our preseason draftology homework. Get your past three seasons’ worth of drafts and come back for more soon!

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Finishing up the ‘checking our work’ series, we examine our predictions for picking WRs. We determined that the sweet spot is a WR aged 25 – 31, entering their 2nd to 8th year. How many of these guys make up the top 24 in WR? About 15 will make it. (Note- in my article, I inadvertently used ‘Top 36′- but the stats were based on Top 24).

One thing I want to demonstrate now- I listed these WRs as being risky picks. Looking back, it is amazing how accurate these criteria were:

Too old/too many seasons: Reggie Wayne (32,11), Steve Smith (CAR, 32,11), Santana Moss (32, 11), Hines Ward (35, 14), Deion Branch (32,10), Terrell Owens (37,16), Derrick Mason (37,15), Donald Driver (36,13), Chad Ochocinco (33,11), Randy Moss (34,14)

Too many seasons: Andre Johnson (30,9), Brandon Lloyd (30,9), Anquan Boldin (30,9), Nate Burleson (30,9), Kevin Walter (30,9), Jabar Gaffney (30,10)

The only one that finished in the Top 24 was Steve Smith.. and did anyone really see that coming? So these results were amazing. And, I also cautioned against taking Andre Johnson, who was the consensus #1 WR in the preseason. I recommended drafting Calvin Johnson (finished #1) or Roddy White (#8) over him. I think that worked out rather well..

So, how did the 2011 class stack up against history? 16 sweet spot WRs made it in, close enough, I’d say, to prove the rule. Steve Smith was the only older WR to make it, the rest were youngsters- Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Torrey Smith and Antonio Brown.

WRs that will step out of the sweet spot next season: Wes Welker & Larry Fitzgerald, both entering their 9th season. We’ll delve into the 2012 class for the sweet spot later this summer.

Next up at Draftologist.com: I’ll be a little self-indulgent and take a look back at my sole championship fantasy team from 2012, from the draft to the final roster and interesting points in between.

Down the road we’ll reboot for the 2012 season and get started on our pre-draft home work using the updated Draft Analyzer Workbook. Along the way I’ll turn you on to some of our favorite sources of fantasy information and insight, and give you some ideas on how to run a fun and successful fantasy football league.

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