Fantasy Football Draft Day Do’s and Don’ts

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (L) runs past San Francisco 49ers cornerback Shawntae Spencer for a touchdown during the second quarter of their NFL football game in San Francisco, California October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Regular TSR readers may have noticed that I haven’t written much (any) fantasy football content here this season. That’s because I’ve launched my own site (FantasyShrink.com) and have also joined 4for4.com as Contributing Editor.

I thought I’d put together a quick list of do’s and don’ts that fantasy owners should keep in mind on draft day. These are meant for fantasy owners in 12-team drafts. If you’re in a 10-team league, you can typically wait longer than the rounds I’ll mention.

DO utilize the ol’ RB/RB draft strategy in the first two rounds if your league requires two starting RBs (or has a RB and a flex position). The depth at RB is pretty thin this season and I’m not too confident in the guys that are available in the 3rd/4th rounds. Ahmad Bradshaw is an exception, as is Jahvid Best in PPR leagues. Meanwhile, the depth at WR is solid, so it makes sense to go RB/RB/WR/WR in the first four rounds.

If you’re in a PPR league, DO consider LeSean McCoy amongst the top six RBs (the others are Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson). In standard leagues, Rashard Mendenhall is a solid pick at 1.06. If you’re outside the top 6 in PPR formats, DO draft Darren McFadden, who has the most upside of any RB in the second tier.

In the second round, DO consider Peyton Hillis and Matt Forte, especially in PPR formats.

In the late 2nd or early 3rd, DO consider Mike Wallace and Vincent Jackson. Both players are good bets to finish in the top 10 at WR.

In the 4th/5th rounds of PPR drafts, DO look to grab Felix Jones, who should make a fine RB2 for those owners who drafted a WR or QB early.

DON’T draft a QB early, not when you can get Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan or Josh Freeman in the 6th/7th rounds. Even if you miss out on those guys, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning and Jay Cutler are good lead QBs in a Quarterback By Committee.

DO try to get Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford or Ryan Fitzpatrick as your QB2. Also, Colt McCoy is shooting up my rankings due to his fine preseason play. Kevin Kolb is another decent option due to his strong job security.

If you’re in a PPR league, DO draft a stud TE in the 4th (Antonio Gates) or 5th (Jason Witten, Dallas Clark or Jermichael Finley). There is a lot of depth at TE this year, so if you miss out on these guys wait until the 8th or 9th and pick Rob Gronkowski, Marcedes Lewis or Kellen Winslow.

Jacksonville Jaguars Don Carey cant stop New York Giants Mario Manningham from diving into the end zone for a 26 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter at New Meadowlands Stadium in week 12 of the NFL in East Rutherford, New Jersey on November 28, 2010. The Giants defeated the Jaguars 24-20. UPI /John Angelillo

DO target Mario Manningham in the 5th/6th round. He should be a very solid WR2 in all formats with Steve Smith gone, and is one of my favorite middle-round value picks.

DON’T draft Marques Colston or Anquan Boldin before the 6th and 8th rounds, respectively. Colston is dealing with a knee injury while Boldin has lost a step.

DO target Mike Thomas, Santana Moss and Lance Moore in the middle rounds. In PPR leagues, DO look for Danny Amendola and Davone Bess as your WR4.

DO target Mike Tolbert or Tim Hightower if you need a RB3 in the 7th/8th rounds. Both players are likely to outperform their current ADP (Average Draft Position).

DO spend a 12th/13th rounder on Terrell Owens — he’ll land somewhere early in the season and get WR1/WR2 targets the rest of the way.

DON’T waste a pick on Randy Moss. He may very well come out of retirement, but he proved last season that he can’t acclimate to new teams very well.

DO look to snag Greg Olsen, Jared Cook or Brent Celek as your TE2. DON’T draft Chris Cooley, who is dealing with a troublesome knee injury. DO think about his backup, Fred Davis, in the later rounds.

If you’re in a league with many/unlimited transactions, DON’T draft a defense before the 13th round. Target the Patriots if the Packers, Eagles, Jets and Steelers are all gone. If you miss out on NE, DO utilize Defensive Team By Committee or Defensive Team By Waiver Wire (which will be a weekly feature at 4for4).

DON’T pick a kicker before the 15th round. Target guys who kick for teams with good offenses like Stephen Gostkowski, Alex Henery, Garrett Hartley and Adam Vinatieri. Josh Brown, Matt Bryant and Neil Rackers are good sleepers.

Finally, DO sign up at 4for4.com, where I’ll be posting my waiver picks, DTBWW and more on a weekly basis. Readers who use this link to subscribe will have a better chance of getting their questions answered during the season. Click here for details.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Which DTs were most productive in 2010?

Other positions: QB | RB | WR | TE | DT

When doing a postmortem on any fantasy football season, I like to look at how a particular player performed on a per game basis adjusted for his strength of schedule (SOS). DTs are no different, except that they all played the same number of games. SOS will have an impact, but the per game aspect of it won’t make much of a difference.

Keep in mind that I used the following scoring system:

DT/ST TD = 6 points
Safety = 2 points
INT = 1 point
Fumble = 1 point
Sack = 1 point

Defensive Points Allowed
Shutout = 10
2 – 6 = 8
7 – 10 = 6
11 – 14 = 4
15 – 19 = 2
20+ = 0

Here’s a look at how the 32 DTs stack up against each other when SOS bias is removed:

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Draftmaster mock draft, continued

New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead (39) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield (26) and linebacker Chad Grehttp://www.scoresreport.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=54241&action=edit&message=10#edit_timestampenway on a 7-yard reception in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on October 31, 2010. The Patriots defeated the Vikings 28-18. UPI/Matthew Healey

If you missed my explanation and the first six picks, click here.

7.06: Danny Woodhead, RB
I needed a third RB and was debating between Woodhead and James Starks. I like Starks, but Ryan Grant is expected to be back in Green Bay and I don’t like a timeshare there, especially without the roles being clearly defined. That’s one thing about Woody — he’s not going to set the world on fire, but as the Pats third-down back, he’s going to catch a number of passes. They used him regularly in the running game too. So while there’s not a lot of upside here, he’s a pretty sure thing for the 7th round.

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Is it too early for a fantasy football draft? I think not.

Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy breaks free for a 9-yard gain with Houston Texans Shaun Cody in hot pursuit during third quarter Philadelphia Eagles-Houston Texans game action in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field December 2, 2010. Philadelphia defeated Houston 34-24. UPI/Eileen Angelino

In an effort to keep my fantasy mind sharp during the doldrums of February and March, I decided to join one of FantasyFootballWhiz.com’s Draftmaster drafts. I am not part of the Invitational, but the same rules apply:

The drafts are being done so that the changes in fantasy value over the next 7 months can be tracked and debated by a strong group of very knowledgeable Fantasy Football players. These drafts will lead to a whole series of articles, debates, roundtables and podcasts that will allow the readers and listeners to get inside the heads of these select drafters.

Note that these are “drafts” and not “mocks”, as the leagues will be scored. Each team will select 16 players in the draft and no roster moves will be allowed once it is complete. They will be scored using a best-ball system, which basically means that each teams top scorers will be automatically used each week to provide their score. No setting lineups, no waivers and no trades, they are simply put, all about the draft.

The leagues will be using a standard PPR scoring system with 16 roster spots. Each week’s scores will be generated by the best lineup, which will consist of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF, FLEX (RB, WR, TE). To maximize the usefulness of the draft results, teams will be allowed no more than one kicker and one defense.

The competition seems good. There are a number of other fantasy experts and enthusiasts in my league (#Draftmaster 19) that I recognize from my time spent on Twitter.

I thought it might be valuable for me to go over each pick after I make it, revealing the other players that I considered along with my reasoning behind picking the player that I did. You can check the updated draft report here. My username (and Twitter name) is @FantasyShrink.

I had the #6 pick overall, which this year turns out to be a pretty good spot to be. Let’s jump right in and discuss the first six rounds.

1.06: LeSean McCoy, RB
With Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Ray Rice taken with the first five picks, I was left with a decision between Maurice Jones-Drew and LeSean McCoy. While I do like MJD, his knee injury has me a little worried and I’m not all that confident in the Jacksonville O-line. On the other hand, McCoy was actually RB3 (behind Foster and Darren McFadden) on a per game basis in PPR leagues because he catches so many passes (78 in 2010). His adjusted numbers (for bias due to strength of schedule) are a little better.

One mistake that I see fantasy owners often make is to overlook pass-catching RBs like McCoy (or Brian Westbrook before him) in PPR leagues. They’re looking at magazine or website rankings that aren’t intended for the PPR audience, and those always underestimate the value of a guy who catches a lot of passes out of the backfield.

Here’s a look at highlights from McCoy’s 2010 season. The kid is explosive.

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Fantasy Points Per Target: WRs

Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Wallace pulls in a pass and runs away from Carolina Panthers Nic Harris for 43 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 23, 2010. UPI/Archie Carpenter

A few days ago, I calculated the fantasy points per touch for the running back position, and today I’m looking at fantasy points per target for wide receivers. It’s important to note that not all targets are the same. A wideout will register a target if a QB throws the ball in his direction, so it really doesn’t matter if the ball goes off the receiver’s hands or if it sails 10 feet over his head. Generally speaking, the better the QB, the better the quality of targets his receivers will see, so all else being equal, fantasy owners should usually take the WR with the better QB. (But we knew that already, right?)

A few takeaways:

– These numbers don’t include a point per reception, so they’ll skew more towards the big play, TD-heavy wideouts. I also limited the scope of the table to those receivers who saw at least 80 targets. Of the players who were targeted 30-79 times, a few names stand out: Kenny Britt (1.80 FP per target), Austin Collie (1.57), Ben Obomanu (1.50), Malcom Floyd (1.40) and Dez Bryant (1.26) would have likely finished in the Top 20 in FP/T had they stayed healthy. Jerome Simpson (1.90) was only targeted 24 times, but obviously did a lot (20-277-3) with those looks.

– Mike Wallace is explosive. If he gets his targets into the 120+ range, he’d have a great shot at becoming fantasy’s top WR. Wallace saw 4.8 targets through the first four games (with Ben Roethlisberger suspended) and 6.6 targets over the final 12 games, with Big Ben under center, so his final 2010 numbers may be a little depressed.

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