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Friday 22nd Sep 2017

‘If you have a top three overall pick and you take a quarterback you are an idiot.’   I shook my head as the words hit my eardrums.  This excellent analyst had a point, but it was overstated.  Maybe that’s his job, to stir the pot without qualifiers, but I submit to you that if your own personal projections have Aaron Rodgers as a slam dunk to repeat last year’s performance (36 ppg NFFC/30 ppg FFPC) and you think that Arian Foster, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy all pose a serious risk, then you’re a fool not to take the Packer general.  There’s nothing worse than plopping down $1500, only to follow the strategy of the pundits, ignore your gut, and then watch your team languish in the middle of the pack when you could have flourished if you’d just listened to your own voice.

When I draft ‘by the book’ I finish between fourth and seventh.  In my mind, whether I finish in fourth or I finish last, I’m out of the money so there is no difference.  When I play high stakes I’m aiming for the big carrot.  I’m playing for the grand prize.  That’s a very difficult goal to accomplish when you are going up against hundreds or even thousands of opponents, and it’s even more difficult using a conventional draft strategy.  You have to zig when others zag.  You have to think outside the box.  I’m going to take it a step further this year and blow the box up.  I’m done with it.

The big draft weekend for the NFFC and the FFPC is just two weeks away.  That’s plenty of time to prepare for the two biggest high stakes events in the industry.  We’ll look at both conventional and unconventional draft strategies that will help you leverage your draft position, but in the end there is no silver bullet. There is no magic elixir.  There is only one strategy that has proven the test of time, that is preparation, scouting, and watching the preseason games.  If you can, watch every single matchup.  Get a good look at every single tight end, wide receiver, running back and quarterback.  That may sound crazy, but so is dropping $1,500 to $10,000 to enter a fantasy football competition.  My best advice would be to get the NFL network, a DVR, and watch as many preseason games as you can.   NFL Network is still broadcasting Week three preseason games all week.  Order NFL Network now or bribe a friend who has it!  Otherwise, at best you’re on equal footing with everyone else in your league.  Everyone knows ADP like the back of their hand.  They’ve got their sheets printed up.  The ‘sleepers’ have all been published and everyone knows about them.  People argue about how much skill vs. luck there is in fantasy football.  If everyone at the draft table has the exact same amount of knowledge and use similar draft strategies, then fantasy football becomes 100% luck.  Think about it.

Learn ADP and the market as a starting point.  The key is to spot market inefficiencies.  The best way to do that is to watch as much film as you can with an eye towards discerning where everyone might be wrong.  Leverage your draft position by selecting as many secure investments (players) as possible, then fill your quiver with as many upside arrows as you can to maximize your probability of outperforming your opponent, realizing that this process necessitates going out on a limb; making that pick you know is right but will likely result in a few pejorative jabs at the draft table.  Just smile and let them have their fun in September with an eye towards having more fun cashing a check in December.

Box thinking says draft RB’s and WR’s the first six rounds because of scarcity.  Wait until the 7th or later to draft a QB because you can always find a value pick to give you 20 points per week and starting TE’s can be had a plenty late.  That thinking is fine and you can certainly cash with that strategy, and if I’m playing in a private league in which I’m just going up against 11 or 13 other teams I may do just that, but if you want the overall grand prize in a larger contest, if you’re playing inside the box you might as well play the lotto.  So many people use that strategy with a similar knowledge base you’re going to need a great deal of luck to be the master of a 1,600 player pool (NFFC Online Championship) or king of a 3,000 player mountain (Football Guys Championship). Unless you hit most of your early picks out of the park you’re not going to win the 150k.  On the other hand if you turn the box on its head you’ll either go down in flames or crush the competition.  That’s what we’re going to do.

I had my NFFC Online Championship draft on Wednesday evening. For reference the starters are QB/RB/RB/WR/WR/WR/TE/Flex (RB/WR/TE) plus K and DST There is full PPR for WR and TE, but only half a point for RB. The Online Championship is twelve team leagues and the third round is reversed.

Each week, CREATiVESPORTS’ National Fantasy Football Championship combatants break down one aspect of the industry’s premier fantasy football contest.

I wasn’t planning to write another NFFC Zone column this year, but something has happened which I find both amazing and encouraging to any fantasy player of any game, league or format.

Recently, I wrote about the second season of the National Fantasy Football Championship Classic, noting one of the 65 teams competing for the $100,000 grand prize had a particularly steep challenge.

“1 800 GO DEEP”, owned by Steve Luzzi of Huntington Beach, CA, was seeded 65th of 65 finalists after finishing 151st in points of the 294 main event teams during the initial 13 weeks. That is in the lower half! GO DEEP accumulated almost 300 fewer points than the top scoring team in his own league, but slipped into the final round with the best head-to-head record in Las Vegas League 1.

Still, once the second season began, all that mattered was the average for the first 13 weeks. It would count as one-fourth the final score, added to the points for weeks 14-16 to determine the winner. With GO DEEP over 22 points behind the leader heading into week 14, I assumed he had almost no chance of taking the crown and said so.

I was wrong.

Luzzi’s roster peaked at just the right time, powering him to the 2009 NFFC Classic championship and the $100,000. Here is how he did it:

Week 14 - #3 of 65 teams with 197.6 points

Week 15 - #13 with 157.1 points

Week 16 - #6 with 166.3 points

GO DEEP’s total of 645.04 points edged Troy Young's TOPPDOG by 3.20 points for an amazing, fantastic finish. Congratulations, Steve!

For all of us, this story can be a great reminder that once in the finals, no matter how you got there, keep playing hard and anything can happen.

For CREATiVESPORTS, now Mastersball, I am proud to have carried our flag into the finals, finishing 19th overall. All season long, our roster was just one wide receiver short of being good enough to take it all.

This comes on the heels of an excellent NFBC season, as well. With NFFC co-manager J.P. Kastner finishing 20th in the NFBC and my team at 23rd of 390 teams, our site placed three teams in the top 25 of the NFBC and NFFC main events in 2009.

For that, we are proud, and a bit richer, as well. Best wishes to all for fantasy success in 2010!

Brian Walton is the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, having scored the most points in the league’s 12-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner with a pair of top 25 overall finishes and is also a top 20 finisher in the NFFC. His writing can also be found daily at thecardinalnation.com and his blog, thecardinalnationblog.com.


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