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Friday 15th Dec 2017

As this NFL season worked its way through the bunch of Howard Bender's #MockDraft Army, I not only made sure I knew the player pool, but as is my way, tried to figure a way around the current PPR-league logic around drafting top wide receivers first. In fact, 2QB or not 2QB: That is the Question is the piece I wrote suggesting this year I was looking at drafting Cam Newton and a top David Johnson-type running back first two rounds, then exploiting #2 wide receivers like Michael Crabtree, Stefon Diggs, and Willie Snead. Then to augment, I went after Theo Riddick/Bilal Powell-type running backs who would get some carries, but for sure targets.

Five weeks into the season, I feel pretty comfortable knowing that so far it doesn't seem to make much difference. I did draft five of my seven teams (the odd ducks are Dynasties) to getting Cam first and then one of Adrian Peterson, Lamar Miller, or Johnson, and among the handful of squads I assembled, four are 3-2 and one is 2-3 and all are in the throes of the title run.

What is interesting is that as we all know, Cam has been largely ineffective, especially in context to last season, and the coup de gras was being placed on the concussion protocol. Well, in the two leagues in which I did wind up with Cam, I managed to bag Derek Carr as a back-up in one. But, in the second league, I didn't even draft a second QB, so last week I was able to grab Sam Bradford out of the free agent pool.

Both teams won, interestingly with the Derek Carr team being the 2-3 one, and the "Bradford to the Rescue" squad logging their third win. And the four starters each team had in common last week were Snead, Riddick, Kelvin Benjamin and DeAndre Washington. 

Of course, we are just barely one-fourth into 2016, and over the next few weeks the good teams on the grid iron will coalesce and improve trying to hit the post-season, while the over-achievers will drift into a longer off-season. And that means we have way too small a sample to judge what really has worked.

Still, I feel pretty confident that by the end of the season, I might not win any of the five leagues where I tried to go against the grain, but I do feel I will be competitive.

However, I have also been playing DFS each week, and parlaying this same strategy with an asterisk seems to be working as well. That is, I have indeed been drafting Riddick and Washington, along with Fozzy Whittaker, or other mid-line running backs who can catch and get some carries along with a nice chunk of snaps.

And, though I have not drafted Cam, I have looked at the cheapest QB with the best combo of wide receivers playing against the crappiest defenses, and thus far that has meant Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady, and that also meant selecting Antonio Brown (and some Sammie Coates), Julio Jones (and at the time a cheaper Crabtree) and Rob Gronkowski (with Julian Edelman) and as a result, have had pretty good results.

Again, I am not certain what any of this makes at this juncture: probably nothing. However, I have long felt there are always many ways to skin the "Fantasy Game Cat" irrespective of the source of the contest--e.g. baseball, or football, hoops--or format, that with every seemingly dominant solution, there is always a path to defeating whatever contemporary convention says.

After all, such innovation is what made Bill Walsh and Sid Gilman successful, and makes Bill Belichick a winner today, and that is what makes Billy Beane, Theo Epstein and Branch Rickey equally brilliant within their own respective discipline.

Not like I think I can be as good as any of those guys. But, I do have to model myself after someone!

Don't forget you can hit me up @lawrmichaels.


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