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Sunday 28th May 2017

Don’t believe everything you read (except if it is posted in this site) or hear (unless a Mastersball staffer says it.) OK, maybe you can’t believe everything we write or say either, but today I am going to discuss a quartet of inaccuracies being disseminated by my brethren in the fantasy football industry. I’ll leave it up to you to determine if this should be believed or dismissed.

RATE MY TEAM

This is the time of the season message forums and radio shows are inundated with “rate my team” posts and questions. Truth be told, more often than not “rate my team” should be replaced with “tell me how great I did”, but that’s a rant for another day. The present focus will be the naïve manner many analysts answer the question. How often have you heard something along the lines of “I like your team except you don’t have a WR1”, or “your team is very strong but your QB is weak”?

Here’s the deal, using a standard 12-team league as the model. Too many analysts are programmed to scan your roster for a top-12 quarterback, a top-12 running back, another RB ranked 13-24, a top-12 wide receiver, another slated 13-24, a third placed 25-36 and a top-12 tight end.

If you are have 2 top-12 RB or 2 top-12 WR with another in the 20’s, you are deemed strong at that position. If you don’t have a RB with the top-12, you are weak at the position, etc. And in a vacuum, they are correct. But the problem is they should be looking at your roster as a whole and its potential to score fantasy points. For every position you are “strong”, you can be “weak” at another and still have a perfectly competitive roster. It’s just that this is not usually communicated properly and the take home message is “you’re weak at WR” instead of “your WR are weaker than average, but you make up for it with a top-3 QB and top-3 TE.”

The way to approach this is not to label players as RB1, RB2, WR1, WR2, WR3, etc., but rather to fill all the skill position roster spots with players expected to produce a target number of points. I discuss this concept in detail in my Guide to a Successful Draft, available along with the rest of our free fantasy football content.

The down and dirty way of thinking about it is to start with the foundation of aiming for a QB1, RB1, RB2, WR1, WR2, WR3, TE1 and flex but for every tier you double up, you can aim for a tier down on another position. For QB and TE, consider the top-4 to be the top tier and 9-12 as the bottom tier with the minimum goal as getting one in the 5-8 range.

If you draft two RB1 (defined as two ranked in the top-12), you can now target 2-WR2 and a WR3 or a WR1 and 2-WR3, etc.  If you draft a top-4 QB or TE, you can drop another position down a tier.

Here are a several example teams to illustrate this point:

ROUND Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5
1 RB1 RB1 QB(top) RB1 WR1
2 WR1 RB1 RB2 TE(top) WR1
3 RB2 WR2 WR1 WR1 RB2
4 WR2 WR2 RB2 RB2 RB2
5 QB(mid) QB(mid) WR2 QB(mid) QB(mid)
6 TE(mid) TE(mid) TE(mid) WR3 TE(mid)
7 WR3 WR3 WR3 WR3 WR3
8 flex flex flex flex flex
Team 1 is standard
Team 2 has two RB1 but no WR1
Team 3 has a top QB but no RB1
Team 4 has a top TE but no WR2
Team 5 has two WR1 but no RB1

Of course, the goal is to BEAT the standard team, but the main point is there are infinite means to construct your roster. To at minimum “break even”, track your squad using this tier method and you’ll have the confidence to go off the chalk and still assemble a points-producing machine. Then ignore it when someone chides you for being weak in an area. Your goal is to build a strong team.

SCORING SYSTEMS

It is paramount to know your scoring and understand how it impacts the relative potential across positions, but too many advise-givers forget that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. That is, when a quarterback scores six points for a passing touchdown, all quarterbacks score six points. So while it is true that this impacts the raw point totals, it does not skew relative rankings as much as many suggest. Remember,  bottom QB’s also enjoy a bump, albeit a bit moderate. The best thing to do is set up a value based drafting adjustment (discussed in Guide to a Successful Draft) by subtracting the points from the lowest ranked, but still starter-worthy player at each position. You will likely find the adjustment is not nearly as steep as anecdotally implied by those spreadsheet averse. In fact, there is more flip-flopping within the position as compared to elevating QB’s up the overall list.

The same is true for points per reception leagues. The potential of certain RB and WR increases, while others fall - but the position as a whole is distributed similarly with or without PPR. At the very least, the impact is not as pronounced as those allergic to math.

ADP

Our baseball readers know we follow average draft position, or ADP a lot less than most. I personally admit that I still use it as a tool, albeit a secondary tool, but I’d be lying if I said I completely ignore ADP when I assemble my baseball teams. However, when it comes to football, I don’t blink an eye I am not privy to an ADP. While it is true that in both baseball and football, it is all about the strategy and intrinsic potential to your team, in baseball there may be once, perhaps twice a draft I opt to wait a round on a player based on ADP. In football, I could give a rat’s ass what others think. In baseball, you are balancing hitting and pitching, speed and power, strikeouts and saves not to mention filling six or seven different positions. In football, you want points – that’s it. If I draft Arian Foster, shame on me for getting cute and waiting too long to get Ben Tate. Ditto for Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashard Jennings. If you feel Stevan Ridley is going to break out, don’t try to time your pick via ADP. If the one-game suspension to Kenny Britt doesn’t scare you, don’t assume he will fall because others will shy away. Football is so much about in-season management that you should do all you can to start the campaign with “your guys” and ignore the incessant references to ADP.

DOUBLING UP

I'll make this one short and sweet, though it has wriggled way up on my pet peeve list. It is perfectly fine to draft two players from the same team, outside of the standard QB-WR hookup. The expectation for LeSean McCoy is the same, regardless if you have Michael Vick as a keeper or wish to draft Matt Ryan or Tony Romo later. If you own Ray Rice and Torrey Smith is the highest ranked WR on your board, don’t pass on the greater potential. His expected points are the same as if you owned Darren McFadden. Too many advise to opt for less potential in case both players have off games. Hogwash. Potential is potential.

There you have it, my four fantasy football fallacies. Good luck in your drafts and may all your studs remain healthy and your sleepers wake up.

Comments   

0 #2 Todd Zola 2012-08-31 18:48
This touches on several of the points I made.

If you make up the lost PPG on your first 4 picks, you can still be OK, but if the WR pool is deeper, the baseline for value based drafting is also deeper, which flattens out the usefulness of the middle to low end but punctuates the potential of the top of the class.
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0 #1 Perry Van Hook 2012-08-31 17:41
Here is another one making it's way around FF forums - "The WR pool is so deep this year you can wait a long time on drafting your receivers". There were just as many receivers in the league last year - maybe some look a little more appealing this year but if you wait until the 5th round to start drafting your wide receivers you will be several PPG behind on EACH one - save the one breakout you actually find or an injury to the starter your guy was running with or behind.
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