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NFL Betting – AFC North Preview

Posted by zewkey on September 4, 2007

Knowledge is power and in the sports betting world you can never know enough. Here’s an AFC North preview for the NFL betting community and a look at key off-season moves that will directly affect football betting bankrolls.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens will rely mostly on their defense to get wins. Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs are as solid as they come defensively. Last year, the Ravens allowed just 12.6 points per game which was the NFL’s best. The defense helped generate a 13-3 mark. If Baltimore is to post another solid straight up record they’ll need to manufacture the same type of play on defense, because the Raven’s offense will be stagnant.

New offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel will have his hands full attempting to find points and coach Brian Billick will still call plays. The franchise hopes that the infusion of younger RB Willis McGahee, who replaced Jamal Lewis, will add to the offense.

The Ravens owned an against the spread record of 10-6 last season. Don’t expect a repeat money making performance this year, because the offense will struggle without Lewis.

Baltimore added: RB Willis McGahee. Rick Neuheisel promoted to offensive coordinator. Departed: RB Jamal Lewis, FB Ovie Mughelli, T Tony Pashos, G Edwin Mulitalo.

Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals have one of the NFL’s strongest offensive lineups – not to mention the one at the police department. If this group of thugs can stay out of trouble, Cincinnati has a very legitimate chance of winning the division due-in-part to an offense that put up a solid 23.3 points per game last year.

Cincinnati was 8-8 straight up and 8-7-1 against the spread in 2006. Off field discipline and whether or not coach Marvin Lewis learned having a bunch of criminals is too much of a distraction will be key.

Cincinnati added: OL Alex Stepanovich. Departed: WR Kelley Washington, QB Anthony Wright. WR Chris Henry suspended for first eight games.

Pittsburgh Steelers – A lot of things went wrong in Ben Roethlisberger’s terrible 2006 season. Was it the motorcycle accident? Immaturity? The appendectomy? But what hurt most was that Pittsburgh didn’t have a real running game. RB Willie Parker will be key to the Steelers offense. If Parker can carry the rock successfully it’ll create an open passing game for Roethlisberger who should have a stronger season.

The Steelers went 8-8 straight up and 7-8-1 against the spread in 2006. If Pittsburgh is to better these numbers they’ll need to improve on both sides of the ball from last year.

Pittsburgh added: OL Sean Mahan, RB Kevan Barlow. Former Minnesota defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin hired as head coach. Former Cleveland offensive coordinator Bruce Arians hired as offensive coordinator. Ken Anderson hired as QBs coach. Departed: C Jeff Hartings.

Sportsbook

Cleveland Browns – People in Cleveland love the pick of homeboy QB Brady Quinn, but the problem is that the Browns still don’t have a quarterback with enough experience to mentor their three young guys (Quinn, Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson) who are competing for the top job. Preseason play clearly indicated Quinn will be the man under center on opening day – but head coach Romeo Crennel has decided to site the Notre Dame star for the first game, at least.

The addition of RB Jamal Lewis will help the Browns immensely by adding balance to their offense that posted a bleak 14.9 points per game last year.

The Browns were a dismal 4-12 straight up last year and 7-8-1 against the spread. There’s now hope in Cleveland but be careful investing on them, because Quinn will need a few years to grow into a winning quarterback.

Cleveland added: RB Jamal Lewis, QB Brady Quinn (Rookie), OL Eric Steinbach, OL Seth McKinney, T Joe Thomas (Rookie), WR Tim Carter. Hired former San Diego tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski as offensive coordinator. Departed: RB Reuben Droughns, WR Dennis Northcutt, FB Terrelle Smith, OL Joe Andruzzi.

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Drafting From The Top

Posted by zewkey on August 31, 2007

by Mike MacGregor

You lucky S.O.B.! You landed the #1 pick in the draft. There hasn’t been this much consensus in the #1 overall pick since, well, let’s see…

  • 2006: Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander, and LaDainian Tomlinson interchanged the top 3
  • 2005: Tomlinson, Priest Holmes, Alexander
  • 2004: Tomlinson, Holmes
  • 2003: Ricky Williams, Tomlinson – Ricky? Is that right? Yep, 2,200 yards and 17 TD the year before.
  • 2002: Marshall Faulk

The #1 PickExclusive Expert Analysis at Yahoo! Fantasy Football

Its been half a decade since everyone agreed who the #1 pick is. Congratulations. Ah, but you can’t rely on LT and a team of Drew Bennetts’ to get you to the Championship. You still need to know what to do after locking down LT, and that is what we’re going to cover here.

What’s that? You didn’t get the #1 pick, but wound up with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th pick in the draft? Well boohoo for you. Before you think you’d be better off drafting towards the bottom, understand that is a complete cluster at that end of the draft. You’re in the top half, so consider yourself lucky (just not as lucky as the S.O.B.’s reading this who have the 1st pick).

For the purpose of this discussion we’ll generally assume a 12 team league with normal performance scoring (1 per 20 PaYd, 4 per PaTD, 1 per 10 Ru/ReYd, 6 per Ru/ReTD) with comments thrown in regarding the ever more popular point-per-reception leagues. For those in the 6 per PaTD camp, the difference is not going to be as significant as you might think, but that explanation is for another time. Now let’s get to work.

Sportsbook

Round 1

RB Plan – You have a top 5 pick, you’re taking a RB. Manning? No. But? No, just no. Take a RB. Don’t try to get “cute” by taking Manning unless you can start or flex a 2nd QB. Then I’d consider it, and still may not do it depending on the other starting requirements. We’re now entering the 3rd season since Manning’s 49 TD pass-fest, indicating it was the exception, not the norm.

I got Manning as a good deal in a couple leagues last year. That isn’t happening this year, as people are seeing a bigger difference between the top half and bottom half starting QB. People got burned by the old “wait on a QB” theory last year, but the main reason for that is because they finally took it too far. Did anyone really think Kurt Warner was going to last the season this time last year? My feeling now is people are taking it too far the other way, overpaying for a QB. And with regards to Manning in the 1st, you’re giving up too much at other positions when there are still good QB on the board to be had later.

Now on to which RB to pick. We’ve already established the 1.01, and 1.02 has a very strong consensus as well.

  • 1.01 LaDainian Tomlinson, SD
  • 1.02 Steven Jackson, STL

The next 3 to form out the top 5 are much more debatable, and even at 5 there are very good arguments to put a few others in place of these guys.

  • Joseph Addai
  • Frank Gore
  • Larry Johnson

Not so much red flags, but caution signs with each of these picks. Addai gets the “never carried a full load” label. Gore lost his genius offensive coordinator, and already has a broken hand bringing to the forefront his injury prone history. Larry Johnson’s back in the mix but even with that new contract, are we entirely comfortable with Johnson? Can he buck the heavy workload trend, and what about his sub-par supporting cast?

We’ve been thinking about these top player rankings since April, so at this point it is easy to pick apart each player by identifying their weaknesses. I can see strong arguments for Shaun Alexander, Brian Westbrook, Reggie Bush (in point per reception leagues) and even Travis Henry being considerations in this top group. Ultimately, we could write essays on these top picks and still have uncertainty about who should be taken at each spot.

The only right answer on who you should take with your top draft pick is in your own head and in your own gut. Man, that’s cheesy, but it’s true. The only certain advice I can give you is to take a RB with that pick.

Round 2

RB-RB Plan – You’ve got your RB in the 1st, and let’s assume the 5 listed above are the ones who went in the top 5. You aren’t even going to sniff these guys on the comeback in round 2, picks 2.08 to 2.12 (20 to 24 overall) in a 12 team league:

  • Shaun Alexander
  • Brian Westbrook
  • Reggie Bush
  • Willie Parker
  • Rudi Johnson
  • Travis Henry
  • Ronnie Brown
  • Laurence Maroney
  • Maurice Jones-Drew
  • Willis McGahee

Now that is a RB heavy draft, but true to form 15 of the first 19 picks are RB. The likely candidates to be taken with those other 4 picks are:

  • QB Peyton Manning
  • WR Steve Smith
  • WR Chad Johnson
  • RB Edgerrin James

James may be available depending how much your league-mates can overlook what still may very well be, the same old Cardinals. Usually someone will overlook it, and nab James. Smith and/or Johnson may be available if your league is completely RB obsessed, and instead drafted the likes of Clinton Portis, Cedric Benson or Brandon Jacobs in the mid-2nd. Manning may be available but probably not unless the league starts 7 or more RB/WR/TE versus only 1 QB, and is full of sharp owners.

So if you are set on RB-RB to anchor your team, you are looking to choose from:

  • Clinton Portis
  • Cedric Benson
  • Brandon Jacobs
  • Thomas Jones

Assuming full health, I still believe Portis is one of the top 5 RB in the league in terms of pure talent. The problem is he’s not at full health. Benson impressed me his opening preseason game, but he has 2 years of being a malcontent to overcome before I can completely trust him. Jacobs has great potential, but he clearly falls into the boom or bust category. Jones looks like a potential force on an underrated Jets team, but he’s already injured.If you have a top pick, then RB-RB is a viable plan. Stockpiling RB talent always falls into the “safe play” category. However, I see a clear drop-off from McGahee-James to these 4. You have to consider RB-RB, especially if a good value falls to you, but I’m not expecting it which is why I normally recommend RB-WR start to your draft.

RB-WR Plan – Unlike prior years, instead of only 2 or 3 top tier WR, we’re looking at 6 guys with an equally legitimate shot at finishing as the #1 WR in the land. However at this end of the draft it doesn’t change our strategy that much. If 2 are already gone before the 2.08, that leaves 4. If you drafted 5th overall, and pass on a WR here, then you’re giving the guys drafting 1st through 4th two shots each at cleaning out this WR group. And if you can’t bear to have one of these top 6 on your team like, oh, I don’t know, Terrell Owens (although I tell you, his interviews have been very tame this year with no garbage that usually comes with Owens), then maybe your own top tier is not 6, but 5 or 4 instead.

This is where it really helps to know the tendencies of the other guys in your league. If you want one of the next 4 RB listed above, and one of the top WR coming out of the 3rd round, you should be able to do that, if you play your cards right. I’m not suggesting sneaking into a fellow owner’s house and stealing his fantasy notes, but check old drafts to get a feel for what positions they put their emphasis on. Owners can be surprisingly consistent year to year.

All right, let’s get to these WR. After Steve Smith and Chad Johnson who went at the backend of the draft, these are the guys to contemplate:

  • Marvin Harrison
  • Torry Holt
  • Terrell Owens
  • Reggie Wayne

I love getting one of these top WR, especially if your league starts 3 WR, and even more so if it is a point per reception league. While it is certainly possible to build a WR corps with later draft picks, how good does it feel to drop one of these guys into your lineup every week regardless of matchup? That’s a no stress move if ever there was one in fantasy football.

People may be surprised I added Wayne to this group, but I strongly believe he belongs. In a couple drafts I’ve done he has slipped down into the latter part of the 3rd. I of course was drafting a little later in the 3rd each time, much to my chagrin.

RB-QB Plan – If Peyton Manning is still there in the mid to late-2nd round, many people would jump on it. I personally would not be overly enthused for reasons stated above, but at the same time he gets dangerously close to the “well, I pretty much have to take him at this point” category.

The great thing about Manning is that you can drop in the lineup for every week except the bye, and just watch the points roll in. This is in fact the most stress free move in fantasy football, but there is an opportunity cost here, which is why I list this as the third option to consider.

RB-TE Plan? – Only in a point per reception league would a person start thinking about who else is eyeing Antonio Gates, but the 2nd round is too early to nab him. He should last into the 3rd round. As Matt Waldman would point out, I do have an apparent obsession with adding Gates to my fantasy teams (Exhibits A, B, C… and D), but in every case I don’t think I went overboard on what I paid to get him (forgot to include Exhibits E and F). While Mr. Gut Check chases the “most physically talented [yet unproven] TE in the league“, I’ll take the sure thing in Gates on a great offense. But if even I’m saying don’t spend a 2nd round pick, then its probably a good idea to not spend your 2nd round pick on Gates.

Round 3

A lot of this will be the same as the round 2 discussion, with the small yet significant point that you will have to wait anywhere from 14 to 22 picks until your 4th rounder. First off, you are going to check if any of the players listed above as legitimate 2nd round picks are available. Don’t pull the trigger just yet. Coming out of this round, do we have to have 2 RB? Not necessarily, but understand the implications of not doing it. You will pretty much have to go back to RB with one of your 4th/5th round picks, and maybe both.

Do we have to have a WR on the team coming out of this round? Again, not necessarily but you should be really sure about the 1 or 2 non-RB/non-WR players you added to your roster, and also your ability to grab WR later. If your league starts 3, and you have none in your first 3 picks, then there is a high likelihood that you should take 2 WR in the 4th/5th.

What about having 3 RB through your first 3 picks? Even in leagues where you can flex a 3rd RB I’m not even sure this is a good idea. As your league reaches for more RB the deeper in your draft you go, they get a lot less reliable than the top players at other positions.

I’ll also add, if you find yourself wondering “am I drafting with idiots?” because of the apparently amazing value you’re getting on RB, then you might end up with the dunce cap later on. Inexperienced players may not know the “RB are gold” fantasy rule, so instead of the league draft going RB, RB, RB, RB (ad nauseam) the rookie owners start taking top QB, top WR, top TE. Maybe even a top K and DEF. These rooks surprisingly take you to the cleaners because while you were drafting “amazing value” backups at RB, they stocked their teams at other positions, won’t overpay trading for your backup RB later, and outscore you week after week. Sad, but true. I’ve seen It happen. Don’t outsmart yourself in cases like this.

Let’s run down the positions to consider adding from the 3.01 to 3.05 picks.

QB – Presumably Peyton Manning is already drafted, and not by you. The player most people are thinking about now is the one considered to have the best odds to beat Manning for the #1 QB spot by season’s end, Carson Palmer, with an ADP right in this area of the draft.If you really want a Tier 2 QB, then taking Palmer here looks about right, because all of Palmer’s similarly projected peers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Marc Bulger, are being drafted in the mid-3rd to mid-4th on average. That is your long turn, so you may not get any of them back with your 4th rounder.

Personally I really like Carson Palmer, but I would generally not draft him this year. Unless the first 2 rounds of the draft truly went according to my worst case scenario (all players taken that I like, left with scraps), there will be good choices at other positions I’d feel better about drafting first. Plus it is possible Bulger makes it back to the late 4th, and there is always Jon Kitna lasting to the 5th/6th (or later), Donovan McNabb and other “hold their own” choices (will be good enough at the QB position for you) much later.

RB or WR – Depending how RB obsessed and/or WR friendly your league is, you may have all of those choices at RB listed above in Round 3, or you could possibly have none of them. This could dictate what direction you go with your pick.

I’m going to recommend the tried and true, take the best player available strategy. If there are good WR that have slipped through the 2nd round, then grab them now. If there is a RB you are excited about still on the board, and you haven’t drafted 2 already, then go RB.

Let’s assume the first 19 picks were taken that we listed in the prior 2 rounds, down to Edgerrin James. Then Portis, Benson, Jones, Harrison and Holt make up the rest of Round 2. That leaves us with

  • Brandon Jacobs
  • Cadillac Williams
  • Deuce McAllister
  • Marshawn Lynch

and

  • Terrell Owens
  • Reggie Wayne
  • Roy Williams
  • Larry Fitzgerald

…and others of course. The thing is beyond Jacobs, the rest of those RB have a much later ADP than the value of your pick in the 3rd. This really looks like the WR round. If your league starts 2 RB and is not awarding a point-per-reception, then it is tough to justify coming out of this round with a RB-WR-WR roster.

Really look at your 2nd and 3rd picks as a package deal. What pair of players can you take in these rounds to maximize your potential and minimize the risk? Maybe if you are just as confident in Reggie Wayne or Roy Williams as your #1 WR instead of Harrison, Holt or Owens, then back in the 2nd round, go against my earlier recommendation to take a WR. Take a RB instead or even Peyton Manning if he lasted that long. Actually, that sounds pretty good to me having a top tier player at each of 3 positions QB-RB-WR. This is where it really pays to know your league scoring and starting lineup. Can you get away with this, or are 2 RB a must? Make sure you know the answer to this before your 2nd round pick.

TE – Antonio Gates is still there, and my trigger finger is twitching. In the standard setup I’m using for this article though, I don’t pull the trigger. If it is point-per-reception, then I strongly consider it. Many wouldn’t, and instead will recommend getting value in a Vernon Davis or Jason Witten much later. I really like Davis and Witten myself, and they certainly will come at a lesser cost per fantasy point, if that is the way you want to assess value.

What Gates brings to the table though is what I like to call “premium points”. These are points that vault him into an elite tier all himself, that ultimately are worth more because of the separation they create from all other players at his position. You have to pay extra for those. It may very well be worth it.

Will another TE put up points similar to Gates? Possible. Is Gates guaranteed to finish as the #1 TE this season? The only guarantee in fantasy football is that there are no guarantees. However, Gates offers a unique combination of premium points and at the same time is an extremely safe pick, offering more certainty he will hit his projected numbers and be a positive force in your lineup than a Brandon Jacobs or Cadillac Williams.

The safety of Gates is very similar to Peyton Manning. A rock solid, worry free piece of the puzzle. The difference for me though, which is why I’m shying away from Manning a little in this article, is I don’t see the same premium points potential from him. (Not to mention you’re unlikely to get Manning from one of these draft slots.) I can see I’m going to have to expand on this premium points idea some time. Getting back on track though, in non-PPR, Gates = no. In PPR, Gates = very possible.

Rounds 4 and 5

Here are some possible rosters you’ve acquired through 3 rounds:

Team A Team B Team C Team D

The Gore-Harrison-Gates combo is primed for a PPR league. The Johnson-Benson-Wayne is potentially devastating against opponents in a TD heavy league (and assuming a top QB slips back in the 4th).

The ADP varies a lot more from here on out, but time to give it a shot anyway and see what players do not make it back to us having been taken in the 3rd and early 4th round, for a total of 19 picks.

QBs RBs WRs TEs

It was quite the WR run, which is another reason why I put such importance on getting a top WR with either the 2nd or 3rd round pick. These other guys are trying to catch up to you, but they’re having a tough time of it since you already have a better 1st RB, a better 1st WR (other than perhaps the Chad Johnson and Steve Smith owners), and you may have a top tier player at QB (Palmer) or the top TE in Gates. Many of them will have a better 2nd RB than you, so let’s look at that first.

RB – Yikes, I mentioned Cadillac Williams back as someone to think about in the early 3rd, and he slipped all the way back to us in the 4th. Cadillac is similar to Kevin Jones when he was entering his third year, last year. Do we get the guy who ripped it up as a rookie, or the one who stumbled through his 2nd season when those late 1st round drafters (suckers) rolled the dice on him? These are the kind of decisions you need to make waiting to the 4th/5th for your 2nd RB. The choices aren’t too bad though, overall, and you do have an option to double up at RB here if you feel the value is right.

  • Cadillac Williams
  • Adrian Peterson (Vikings)
  • Marion Barber
  • Deangelo Williams
  • Ahman Green
  • Jerious Norwood
  • Jamal Lewis

Double up is not a bad option. There is no rule saying you have to draft all of your starters before your backups. Consider the likelihood of Adrian Peterson taking over the full-time job from Chester Taylor and lighting it up down the stretch. Also consider the likelihood of Ahman Green starting well but fading towards the end of the season as the games and carries on a sub-par team start to pile up. You have to balance your boom-or-bust picks with some steady, reliable guys – or what you expect to be reliable guys.

In a lot of leagues there will not be all of these guys available, because other teams have drafted more RB than my ADP data would indicate. In that case though you’ve been left with some better QB and WR choices from the above list.

QB – Hopefully Brees, Bulger or Brady are there for you. This would be a nice spot to take one of them and secure a quality starter at half the cost of Manning or Palmer. If these are all gone though, then consider these other two guys who have top 3 potential and are a notch up from a larger group of similarly projected QB.

  • Donovan McNabb
  • Jon Kitna

Of course, there is a greater risk with these guys which is why they are getting drafted into the 5th and even early 6th for Kitna. I’m one to tend to push the ADP on the QB position, and what I mean by that is, if I’m not getting a deal, then I’m not buying. So, McNabb I might consider here if I already secured 2 RB and I wasn’t that happy with the rest of the available choices for this pair of picks.

Kitna on the other hand, I would probably pass and just see how far he falls. If he comes back for the 6th/7th round, then great, let’s scoop him up then. If he doesn’t, then move on to the next QB tier and go bargain shopping there. Vince Young’s rushing yards start to look pretty good at that point.

This is not quite the same as the tried and true “wait on a QB to the end” strategy that many people have been preaching in recent years – which failed miserably in 2006. By all means take a top QB. Just don’t overpay for your QB.

WR – Lee Evans is available. Do me a personal favor and draft Lee Evans if he is available for you in the 4th or 5th round (assuming no other remarkable value falls to you). You won’t be disappointed. Well, I don’t think you will. No guarantees and all that. Here is the whole group of WR we’re looking at:

  • Lee Evans
  • Plaxico Burress
  • Hines Ward
  • Reggie Brown
  • Calvin Johnson
  • Deion Branch
  • Laveranues Coles
  • Santana Moss
  • Darrell Jackson

That is a good looking group of receivers to choose from. Yet another reason to thank the fantasy Gods for that early pick.

The only additional comment I’ll make here, after jumping off my Evans soapbox, is if you are keen to draft a guy like Calvin Johnson, make sure to get a steady veteran later you can count on. An Isaac Bruce or Derrick Mason type. Rookie WR do not have a good track record (with known exceptions of course), but Johnson is a rookie, and he could just as easily struggle as any other scenario. You need a guy you can slot in if Johnson does not pan out, or if it takes him a little while to get in gear.

Balance the boom or bust picks. All things being equal, you are almost assured you are overpaying for Johnson here. I don’t mind people taking risks, but take calculated risks and a steady vet in your WR4 spot will help mitigate the risk of having a boom or bust WR2 like Johnson.

TE – This will be a short discussion. Tony Gonzalez is going early 6th as the next TE off the board. I don’t even understand that given Gonzalez’s low TD numbers in 2006 (5) and 2005 (2). Vernon Davis is going mid-6th. Shockey late-6th. Then Heap and Winslow in the 7th. Anyway, it should be apparent that we won’t be drafting a TE in the 4th/5th.

DEF – Bears. Ravens. Yeah, these defenses are good. In most all leagues this is too early. Let’s revisit this in the 6th/7th round.

Rounds 6 and 7 and Beyond

We’ve got the core of our team through 5 rounds. Not all of our starters, but the group of players we are counting on the most. Now it is time to complement them with the remaining starters and quality backups. At this point I would expect most of our rosters consist of 2 RB, 2 WR and Gates or 1 QB or a 3rd RB.

I’m about to pass the 10 page mark on this draft plan, and should almost just turn it over to my tiering article to take it home, but let’s close with some quick comments at each position.

QB – The same applies as I wrote in the last section on QB. If you don’t have one, then look for a bargain. You don’t want to sleep on the position too long, but depending on how keen the others in your league are at grabbing their starting QB, you could still have a fair bit of flexibility here. In a slow draft I’m currently in (not drafting at the top), Philip Rivers was drafted 10th, Vince Young 11th and Ben Roethlisberger 12th. That’s not bad.

One team didn’t even draft his first QB until the 12th round – Eli Manning. Even that isn’t bad in my mind. If you draft your starting QB late though, then invest a little more than you otherwise would on the backup. If you did get Peyton Manning or Palmer, then you can afford to wait longer for the backup.

Deep picks to exceed their draft spot: Matt Schaub and Jason Campbell, each typically getting drafted in the 13th round or later.

RB – Backup your main starter or not? It depends what is costs, but generally, yes, I think you should. Its like buying insurance. If you have LT then why not back him up with Michael Turner who has you covered with continued top 3 RB fantasy points if the cost of that insurance isn’t too expensive? Turner is borderline expensive, so it will depend if someone swipes him on you or not.

In other cases, if the backup isn’t very clear then don’t feel compelled to grab someone. The player still takes up a valuable roster spot. I like Brian Leonard at a very reasonable cost for Steven Jackson owners. Michael Robinson for Frank Gore, maybe, but Robinson may not be suitable for a starter position. The Colts’ backup behind Joseph Addai is such a mess right now, better off just to pass on that situation.

Deep picks to exceed their draft spot: DeShaun Foster (9th), Leon Washington (11th but rising), Adrian Peterson (12th – the other one).

WR – I had a discussion with a friend the other day who was making a deep draft pick at WR. He already had 5 WR on his roster, and was considering Joe Jurevicius (his idea) vs. Maurice Stovall (my idea). My thought pattern: you’re drafting WR late, so go for young and upside guys who have a chance to blow up and be regular starters, similar to Marques Colston and Mike Furrey who came out of no where a year ago.

What good is Jurevicius to your roster? He will never start for your team in a 12 team, start 3 WR league. At least I hope not. If you draft a boom or bust young WR and he is doing nothing, that’s fine, chalk it up to a mistake and cut him for another guy. I know I said balance the boom or bust players earlier, but at WR once you’re filling the 5th or deeper WR, go boom or bust. If you hit one who booms, then your team is remarkably better as you’ve just struck gold.

Stockpile WR is also a good strategy, just for more chances to strike gold. Especially in point-per-reception leagues, and especially in leagues where you can start 4 WR.

Deep picks to exceed their draft spot: Kevin Curtis (9th), Derrick Mason (11th – gut feeling and I’m not sure why) and Patrick Crayton (14th).

TE – The 6th and 7th round is a good spot to grab a TE if you didn’t get Antonio Gates. The targets include Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow, Vernon Davis and Chris Cooley. I’m personally not high on Tony Gonzalez and Todd Heap, so I don’t foresee the TE position being as deep as some would suggest, which I guess goes back to helping explain my obsession with Gates.

While I realize some people are happy waiting for a deeper sleeper TE like Owen Daniels or Eric Johnson, it seems to me like you aren’t getting enough benefit from waiting that long for your first TE. Those guys are better second TE for the time being. Don’t give up a starting position like that because you could get beat by your opponent there every week.

Deep picks to exceed their draft spot: Jason Witten (9th), Owen Daniels (13th – its not like I don’t like the guy; I’m just saying he’s a better 2nd TE) and Bo Scaife (15th+)

K – Last two rounds guys and gals. The last two rounds.

DEF – I used to recommend just not drafting a defense until the late rounds. The Bears and Ravens have been so good though, its been tough to stick to that. Stick to it I will! Just kidding. Well, I personally will stick to it because I’d still rather stockpile RB and WR while the Bears and Ravens invariably get drafted much higher than I’d be willing to take them. I won’t knock someone for taking one of them though, in a league where DEF scoring is significant. The ADP is the mid-7th for both, but will fluctuate quite a bit depending on the league.

Assuming you fall in my camp about taking a DEF late, then I say take them really late. Before the K but not much before. Play the matchups and there will be viable DEF on the waiver wire, so I’m happy to draft 1 short-term DEF and work from there once the season starts.

Deep picks: Jets, Redskins and teams playing against the Vikings.

Final Thoughts

Enjoy having an early draft pick. In fact, rub it in you have an early draft pick to those guys down at the bottom of the draft order in your league, but make sure you back it up by maximizing your draft spot. You’re in position to do it, especially if you are sitting with that prized #1 pick. Lucky S.O.B.

Source

Posted in Draft, Draft Tips, Drafting | 1 Comment »

Immaculate selection: 2007’s perfect draft

Posted by zewkey on August 29, 2007

10:03 PM CDT on Monday, August 27, 2007


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Perfection is a relative term. And believe me, I’m not referring to my relatives. Especially my in-laws.

As much as you and I would love to field a fantasy team piloted by Peyton Manning, anchored by LaDainian Tomlinson and Steven Jackson in the backfield, with Chad Johnson, Marvin Harrison and Antonio Gates catching passes, that’s about as likely as George Clooney having trouble finding a date on Saturday night.

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Unless you’re playing in a league of monkeys throwing darts at a draft board, you simply must accept that many of the players you covet most will be stolen by your competitors. That’s why they are no longer your friends.

Our challenge, therefore, is to secure the best value with every pick, methodically assembling a team that will dominate from Week 1, withstand an injury to one or two key players, and peak during the fantasy playoffs.

With that lofty goal in mind, I’ve once again done the research for you – analyzing the average draft position of each player from several mock draft sites to determine the best pick in each round – resulting in the 2007 Perfect Draft.

As always, we start with a few key assumptions. First, we’re in a 10-team league using a standard scoring system that starts 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 Def. Second, we are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a zig-zag format, meaning LT is long gone by the time we pick. Third, because all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way. And finally, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2007 Fantasy Draft, we select …

Round 1 – Joseph Addai, RB, Indianapolis: We’re in great shape with the Colts workhorse in our backfield. He can’t help but rack up yardage and scores in that offense, and there’s no one threatening to share carries. If he’s gone, Fast Willie Parker is the pick.

Round 2 – Chad Johnson, WR, Cincinnati: If Travis Henry falls to us here, we raise our fists and declare victory. Otherwise, we take the top fantasy receiver in the land, and pray that our competitors allow at least one top RB to fall to us in the next round.

Round 3 – Cedric Benson, RB, Chicago: As tempting as it may be to load up at WR with Reggie Wayne, we must secure our RB2 with Chicago’s workhorse. Edgerrin James is arguably a better option but is probably gone.

Round 4 – Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans: Pass on Peyton Manning three rounds earlier and get the next best thing. We’ll love his creampuff schedule during the fantasy playoffs. If Brees is gone, Marc Bulger will be just fine.

Round 5 – Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota: Let’s grab the 2007 Rookie of the Year while we can and shore up our backfield at the same time. We may keep him on the bench for a couple of weeks, but it won’t be long before Peterson gives us fits when making our start/sit decisions.

Round 6 – Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia: DeAngelo Williams, my leading candidate for Breakout Player of the Year, may prove to be a better pick. But we’ll take Donovan McNabb’s go-to receiver here instead. We’re stacked at RB.

Round 7 – Tony Romo, QB, Dallas: He may have slipped to us in the next round, but let’s not risk losing one of the steals of the draft. We now have two of the top six QBs in Fantasyland.

Round 8 – Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay: Tatum Bell may fall in our lap here, especially if our competitors are leery of his shin injury. If not, Jackson has the inside track on the Packers’ starting job, with Vernand Morency still nursing a strained knee.

Round 9 – Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego: A potent end zone target, Jackson will be a prime beneficiary of Philip Rivers’ continued development. If he’s gone, we take Bernard Berrian, Chicago’s home-run threat.

Round 10 – Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh: Let’s scoop up another sleeper to round out our receiving corps. Let someone else spend big on Hines Ward. We’ll take the more explosive receiver who will out-produce the veteran in his third year.

Round 11 – Jason Witten, TE, Dallas: We gambled a bit waiting on our tight end, but Witten is severely undervalued this year. He’s poised for a sensational season running deeper routes for his dynamic quarterback and good friend Romo.

Round 12 – Drew Bennett, WR, St. Louis: There are several intriguing options here, including, possibly, Warrick Dunn. Bennett offers terrific upside in the Rams’ passing game, particularly given the worries over Torry Holt’s slow recovery from off-season knee surgery.

Round 13 – Jaguars defense, Jacksonville: Waiting on our defense allowed us to stock up at the other positions. Meanwhile, the Jaguars give us a formidable unit at a great price.

Round 14 – Brandon Marshall, WR, Denver: A steal this late, Marshall should develop a solid bond with fellow second-year player Jay Cutler.

Round 15 – Owen Daniels, TE, Houston: We need a backup to Witten, and Daniels offers significant upside after a surprising rookie campaign.

Round 16 – Adrian Peterson, RB, Chicago: This is the time to backup our top RB, but there’s no clear handcuff to Addai. The “other AP” has looked good when given the opportunity, and could fill in admirably if Benson is injured or wears down. A flier like Packers WR James Jones is another decent pick here.

Round 17 – Nate Kaeding, K, San Diego: I don’t always insist on waiting for the last round to take a kicker; but when a sure thing like Kaeding is going to be there, it only makes sense.

There you have it. Great players at every position, no major bye problems, and, best of all, no Raiders, Browns, Bills, Titans, Chiefs, Dolphins or Bucs.

Here’s hoping your draft is perfect, too.

Source

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2007 Fantasy QB Sleepers

Posted by zewkey on August 23, 2007

Sleeper: A draft term for a NFL player that an owner believes is going to have a breakout season. These are usually players who are not rookies, but they can be. For the most part they are not well known NFL players. Usually sleepers are drafted in the middle to late rounds of a draft. From our Fantasy Football Dictionary

Enjoy all the benefits of Yahoo! Sports.

We have classified the following players as sleepers for 2007. We will be updating this list throughout the pre-season.

QB RB WR TE IDP

Name Team Age Yrs
Exp.
Pos. Rank
Green, Trent MIA 37 10 QB – #22
Losman, J.P. BUF 26 3 QB – #19
Romo, Tony Contract Year Player DAL 27 3 QB – #10
         
         
         

Source

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Different types of Fantasy Leagues

Posted by zewkey on August 22, 2007

Posted 6/29 by Chris Smith, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

This section will give you a rundown on the different types of fantasy leagues that one can participate in. From a standard redraft league to a full-fledged dynasty league to an IDP league, there are many styles of leagues that all offer various challenges and enjoyments to the fantasy footballer.

Exclusive Expert Analysis at Yahoo! Fantasy Football

Standard Redraft Leagues (Head to Head)

The standard redraft leagues are by far the most common fantasy leagues. The league has a draft that is usually serpentine in nature (first pick overall in round one will pick last in round two, the last pick in round one will pick first in round two, etc.). The owners will pick out a starting lineup each week depending on the regulations of the league and match up against a different owner each week. Scoring more points than your opponent results in a win whereas scoring fewer points will result in a loss. The best win/loss records meet in the playoffs. Each new season, all of the NFL players go back into the pool and can be drafted all over again.

Example of Head to Head Competition

Team One – winners

Team Two – losers

QB

Donovan McNabb

23

QB

Peyton Manning

18

RB

Brandon Jacobs

17

RB

Brian Westbrook

6

RB

Willie Parker

14

RB

Warrick Dunn

6

WR

Chad Johnson

16

WR

Plaxico Burress

10

WR

Darrell Jackson

14

WR

Derrick Mason

11

WR

Joe Jurevicius

8

WR

Marvin Harrison

22

TE

Alge Crumpler

7

TE

Todd Heap

5

PK

Mike Vanderjagt

7

PK

Jason Elam

6

DT

Baltimore Ravens

7

DT

Chicago Bears

10

Starters’ Total Points

113

Starters’ Total Points

94

Standard Redraft Leagues (Total Points)


These leagues start off the same as head-to-head leagues. Once the draft is finished however the ultimate goal is to finish with the most points overall instead of the most wins. There is no weekly head-to-head schedule and it is simply a matter of building up as many points as possible. Over the last decade or so, the total points’ leagues have become less popular.

Example of Total Points League

Franchise

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

Tot

Charitable Donation

82

103

87

104

113

108

94

143

108

114

80

100

119

89

136

103

110

1794

Chris Smith’s Goons

81

102

74

122

133

107

94

112

98

95

99

103

107

132

108

102

92

1759

Unlucky’s Bass Turds

112

78

113

98

94

127

85

111

76

137

82

90

89

136

130

98

67

1724

Stuart’s Ships

107

104

70

67

67

83

98

75

133

122

128

97

115

100

88

110

77

1641

Harrisville

61

94

78

83

92

72

112

103

84

116

64

97

88

110

108

102

119

1584

Hollywood Funk

71

102

78

88

79

100

102

99

80

84

77

111

105

84

77

128

93

1527

Hocking Valley Egos

64

115

82

58

96

92

68

99

88

44

99

106

138

127

95

91

57

1520

The Assassin

90

98

81

95

81

81

87

74

82

56

119

106

93

67

118

68

80

1476

Joe T Carney Men

68

88

74

144

105

82

101

107

98

62

87

77

97

58

90

56

73

1468

Spartans Rule

125

117

102

76

79

73

97

91

77

93

59

80

82

72

64

92

87

1465

Longboards

94

87

78

92

82

97

81

83

86

71

138

75

68

103

92

80

53

1463

Baptist Breakers

84

90

61

74

87

45

119

55

74

83

107

99

77

110

95

91

39

1390

Auction Draft Leagues

Auction drafts are a relatively new type of fantasy league to the casual fantasy gamer. These drafts can be a ton of fun and offer unique challenges but it also takes up a lot more time on average than a standard draft. As an owner in an auction draft, make sure to devote a block of six to ten hours in order to complete your draft. Each owner in this kind of league gets a sum of play money in which they will use in order to build their fantasy roster. Each owner can bid on any player on the auction block as long as he/she has enough money remaining to win the bid. The best part of an auction draft is simply that every player in the league is available to a fantasy owner. If an owner wants to build a squad featuring Shaun Alexander, Steven Jackson, Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison as part of their starting unit, they can do so (although he won’t have much, if any, money left to add other strong players).

Example of the first six bids of an Auction Draft

Pos

Player

Team

Drafted By

Cost

QB

Peyton Manning

Ind

Team One

$34

RB

LaDainian Tomlinson

SD

Team Four

$75

WR

Marvin Harrison

Ind

Team Seven

$25

RB

Willie Parker

Pit

Team Four

$44

WR

Torry Holt

StL

Team Ten

$29

TE

Tony Gonzalez

KC

Team One

$14

“Thus those skilled in war subdue the enemy’s army without battle …. They conquer by strategy.” – Sun Tzu ‘Art of War’

Keeper Leagues

Very similar to the leagues above. The difference being that the owner can keep a predetermined number of players from his draft in the previous season to carry forward into the new campaign. In some leagues you can keep one player, in others three and in others five or more. Sometimes it costs an owner a draft pick to keep a player from the previous season and sometimes no penalty is paid. It really depends on the leagues rules.

Example of a four-player keeper league (the teams will keep the players in blue)

Team One

Team Two

QB

Donovan McNabb

Phi

QB

Marc Bulger

StL

QB

Byron Leftwich

Jac

QB

Trent Green

Mia

QB

Kyle Boller

Bal

QB

Kurt Warner

Ari

RB

Warrick Dunn

Atl

RB

Jamal Lewis

Cle

RB

Edgerrin James

Ari

WR

Steven Jackson

StL

RB

Marion Barber III

Dal

RB

Cedric Houston

NYJ

RB

Michael Pittman

TB

RB

Marcel Shipp

Ari

WR

Marty Booker

Mia

WR

Isaac Bruce

StL

WR

Plaxico Burress

NYG

WR

Laveranues Coles

NYJ

WR

Randy Moss

NE

WR

Andre Johnson

Hou

WR

Bobby Wade

Min

WR

Steve Smith

Car

TE

Daniel Graham

Den

WR

Michael Clayton

TB

TE

Ben Watson

NE

TE

Jim Kleinsasser

Min

PK

Matt Stover

Bal

TE

Jeremy Shockey

NYG

DT

Dallas Cowboys

Dal

PK

Jeff Wilkins

StL

DT

St. Louis Rams

StL

DT

Atlanta Falcons

Atl

DT

New Orleans Saints

NO

DT

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pit

Dynasty Leagues

A dynasty league is similar to a keeper league but each team can keep their entire roster of players from one year to the next. After the inaugural draft in year one, the players will stay on the team they are drafted to unless they are traded away or released. Each offseason a rookie draft will take place in which the owners can add talent to their rosters. These leagues can be really challenges to rebuild a poor roster as it may take years of wise trading and shrewd drafting in order to rise to the top. Great leagues if you want to challenge yourself.

Survivor Draft Leagues

These leagues can use either the auction draft or the standard draft. Once the rosters have been filled out however the rules are much different. Similar to the television show, Survivor, in this style of league, the team with the fewest points scored in a week is booted out for the season. It is very important in this kind of league to build a well-rounded squad that can withstand the perils of injuries, bye weeks and other similar challenges. Usually in this kind of league, no free agent pickups or trades are allowed. Because of the format, there is possibly a higher degree of luck involved as you can have one back week and be kicked out of the league.

IDP Leagues

These leagues use defensive players as well as offensive players. This is only for the diehard fantasy player as it takes a lot more research, knowledge and experience to know not only what defensive players to draft but when.

Source

Posted in Auction Drafts, Auction Leagues, Beginner's Fantasy Football, Dynasty Leagues, IDP Leagues, Keeper Leagues, Redraft | 1 Comment »

Mock Draft Review: QBs go early

Posted by zewkey on August 20, 2007

August 17, 2007

By Jason Lake

It’s official: The Tom Brady bandwagon has spilled over into fantasy football.

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Our cracked editorial staff held its 18-round draft Monday morning. We’ve got 12 teams separated into three divisions: Animals, Vegetables and Minerals. Yours Truly is the manager of The Torn Labrums, and I’m already giddier than a schoolgirl after what went down at the draft.

Things began simply enough. LaDainian Tomlinson went first overall to the Cowboys, followed by Steven Jackson to the ChalkDogs. But then my divisional rivals, jimmyville, selected Brian Westbrook with the No. 3 pick. Interesting. He was the fourth-ranked RB from 2006 on the Bodog Fantasy charts. Perhaps jimmyville was worried Larry Johnson might be caught up in an extended holdout with the Kansas City Chiefs? No matter. I was more than happy to snap him up with the No. 4 overall pick.

Bodog Nation

Then things really went off-Broadway. The Reds put their faith in Reggie Bush with the fifth pick, and the LTown Wondercats, another charter member of the Minerals division, took Mr. Brady sixth overall. Clearly the Wondercats have been seduced by the major WR upgrade the Patriots enjoyed during the offseason. Otherwise, Brady was ranked No. 7 among QBs last year. So much for conventional wisdom. However, sometimes you have to take the road less traveled to win in a sharp league, which we most certainly are (cough, cough).

The Mels are my other competitors in the Minerals division, and they went with Joseph Addai. He’ll get more touches with Dominic Rhodes moving to Oakland, but this is still a gamble. That left the next three teams drooling to make their picks: Frank Gore to the Confused Moose, Shaun Alexander to the Riggo Redskins, and Willie Parker to the Cougars.

The Seahawks followed up by picking Laurence Maroney, who again figures to handle the rock more often in 2007. Last but certainly not least, the Ancaster Football Club grabbed Peyton Manning with the No. 12 pick. Manning is usually the first QB off the board, and a solid pick this late in the first round.

Other picks of note: Steve Smith (Confused Moose, 17th overall) was the first WR off the board, Antonio Gates (Seahawks, 35th) the first tight end, Chicago (LTown Wondercats, 67th) the first defense, and Adam Vinatieri (Seahawks, 83rd) the first kicker. Let the games begin.

Source

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10 Tips for Fantasy Auctions

Posted by zewkey on August 19, 2007

10 Tips for Fantasy Auctions
David Dorey
August 16, 2007Auctions are the most fun way to have a local draft because it involves everyone in the room on every player. They create the most fair leagues in that way – any team owner can own any player, he just has to want him a little more than anyone else. They also bring an entirely new level of entertainment to the room when people get into heated bidding wars or someone lands a player far too cheaply and everyone looks at each other “why did we let that happen?”.

Yahoo! Fantasy Football – Leader in Fantasy Sports

But those of you new to auctions sometimes find it more daunting since it is more involved than merely reading the next name on a cheatsheet. Some act like they are going into a store in a foreign country with no idea of the value of the currency they are spending while others act like sailors on home leave for the first time in six months when LaDainian Tomlinson comes up for bid. Some previous articles at The Huddle which can help:

The Three Styles of Bidding

How to Budget for an Auction

Following on the lead of those, here are the top ten things to remember when you go to your fantasy auction.

1. Bid on every player if only initially when you know he will go for more money. This helps to cloak who you really are pursuing. If you only bid on “your guys” then it becomes pretty evident that you can be pushed to spend more money.

2. Budget your positions and realize that an auction is about creating an optimal team within the constraints of limited dollars. Re-evaluate your budget each time you acquire a player, but have a strong sense of what you are willing to play overall for positions and then how much for players within those positions.

3. Never get locked onto one player. Unless you are so dead certain that this one individual is going to be a huge difference maker for your team, go for the best values on players. If you acquire players that are priced at or below their true value, it is like having more money to spend than others who overpay.

4. If possible, try to save enough money so that your final picks can go for more than the bid minimum (typically $1). Sometimes there is an amazing difference in the quality of players you can get for $2 over just $1. Once you reach the point where you can only pay minimum amounts, you have lost all control of who will be coming to your roster. This often comes more into play the larger the league because the higher valued top tier players are and many teams will blow their wad on a few players and hope to backfill with minimum cost players.

5. Never, ever finish with money left over. Spend your entire salary cap. That seems obvious but in many auctions, those reticent to spend end up with money left over that could have been used to create a better roster. Budget and spend. Budget and spend.

6. In the initial rounds of a smaller league (ten teams or less), it is usually a good idea to always throw out players that you do not want in the attempt to let people burn up their cash on someone you would have never wanted. Do it early for more desirable players and you can set yourself up to spend less when your favorites come around. Conversely, the larger the league (anything over 12 teams), throw out the players that you do want because there will be a lot of cash sitting around on those other teams and you are likely not going to get any bargains. Throw out the players you want and chase them as far as your budget allows. If nothing else, do this so that you can know you will not get player “X” and can make other arrangements for the position.

7. The first player in his position always seems to go for a lot of money and that often ends up to actually be a bargain. The first player up for bid in a position sometimes will not go for quite as much because other team owners are waiting to see what sort of price the position is bringing.

8. Auctions are about supply and demand. The best values are usually when you are bidding on a player from a position that some already have filled and many others have not. In a twelve team league that starts two running backs, the league will need 24 starters and each team owner will be willing to spend money in order to get two decent starters. So after 6 players or so are out, often values happen because while half the league still needs a starter, there are still plenty to chose from and many are waiting on “their guy”. By the same token, the 11th running back coming up for bid may go for much more than they should because you have two teams desperate for their first starting tailback and they get into a war. This usually happens the most noticeably when the final two or three teams are hunting for their second starting tailback after 20 or so running backs are taken. They get desperate and end up driving the cost of the 21st best back up to the same level of the 10th best back. Happens all the time. Pay attention to your league – it is supply and demand.

9. If you have a big desire for some certain player, the earlier you bring him out for bid, the better off you will be. The worst thing you can do is to fixate on a player and allow great values to pass by only to discover that one or two other team owners were doing the same and suddenly you do not have your player, have missed great values and are looking at far less attractive options for the position. If you gotta have one guy, playing waiting games can burn you.

10. Avoid handcuff players. Like running backs where you would really want their back-ups. That sets you up to need two players to make the set and controlling what you pay for just one of them is hard enough. Best bet is to go after players that do not have an injury history or that are in an unsettled situation because the “other guy” can get stolen from you. Each year there are typically about four to six NFL teams with unsettled backfields which mandate you get both players to be safe. If you can avoid them, you remain in better control of your team and salary cap. You can play the gamble that you have the right one of the two (or three sometimes), but never pay much for that headache.

Auctions are a blast to participate in and they are quite different than drafts in many ways. The end result is no different – full rosters for all teams in the league. But getting there is all the fun.

Source

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Value Based Drafting For Dummies

Posted by zewkey on August 17, 2007

For the fantasy football guru, drafting is like a field trip to candy land. With their unnatural (and somewhat obscene) wealth of NFL knowledge, they’re licking their chops over all the NFL’s treats: studs, sleepers and rising stars. Their sticky fingers will be busy bagging all the great players new and old, and, with no strategy, the only sucker in the draft will be you.

Exclusive Expert Analysis at Yahoo! Fantasy Football

We know the drill. Draft day can be damn intimidating for the newbie fantasy player who just wants to do well but doesn’t know where to start. This is why prep work is key. And what better prep work is there than researching solid drafting strategies?

Enter Value Based Drafting (VBD) – a strategy the pros use to build their teams by choosing the players with the most fantasy value available during the draft. Understanding VBD will help you avoid the pressure to pick up that middle-ground running back “just because everyone else is doing it” when there’s a huge point advantage to picking up a high scoring wide receiver instead. Remember this, young grasshopper: the object of the game is not to assemble a group of high scoring players with zero regard to position. To win, you must assemble a starting roster that serves to outscore your opposition at as many starting positions as possible. This will not only help you figure out what the order in which you should draft your players is, but understand when it’s ok to deviate from your plan to swipe all the best picks.

Master VBD and dominate your draft. It’s that simple.

The Concept

Lots of people think the objective of fantasy football is to “score lots of points!” A monkey can score points. Scoring lots of points does not mean sure victory. To win, you have to distance yourself ahead your competition. The basic idea behind VBD is outscoring your opponents’ teams at each of the players’ positions instead of simply “scoring lots of points.”

And the best part is this: it doesn’t matter what positions you’re using to outscore the competition. The only thing that matters is that you’re outscoring them. Period.

The Theory

Look at what you’re already doing. You probably choose kickers close to last. Why? Because there are lots of similar ones out there to choose from. Their value, then, is relatively low since you’re unlikely to outscore your opponent by very many points with a kicker. For example, our top ranked kicker is Nate Kaeding (who had 136 fantasy points last year), and he is followed quite closely by Jeff Wilkins (who had 131 points). A whopping five points difference. Clearly, choosing one over the other won’t make a huge difference in your overall standings at the end of the day. One the other side of the dime, top ranked running back LaDainian Tomlinson had 483 fantasy points last year. Second in line is Steven Jackson with 419. That’s a 64 point lead if you get Tomlinson.

In Practice

So, you might be asking yourself, “How can I apply VBD to my everyday existence?” Well, Skippy, we’re glad you asked.

1. Projected Fantasy Points

Going by last year’s fantasy points is a mistake so grave, you’ll wish you never lived to regret it. You’re going to want to base a player’s value on his projected points for 2007. If you’re really keen, you can make up your own projections for each player’s statistics and do the math to get projected points for 2007. If you aren’t so confident, you can use projected stats from one of many reputable fantasy magazines or Web sites out there. Regardless of whether you’re doing the math yourself, or using a fantasy site online, be sure to calculate projected fantasy points using the scoring system set by your commissioner. You will find the scoring system by clicking on the league’s name, and looking under “league rules” (found on the drop down menu at the top of the page).

2. Finding Your Baseline

You need to measure players against their peers to determine how valuable they are. You do this by choosing a “baseline” player. The baseline player will be the lowest scoring starting player at each position. All other players will be better or worse than this guy. To figure out your baseline, you will need two pieces of crucial information: the number of teams in your league, and the number of players at each position you have to start. Usually, there are:

– 12 teams in a league
– 1 starting quarterback
– 2 starting running backs
– 3 wide receivers
– 1 tight end
– 1 point kicker

Your baseline players will be the:

– 12th best Quarterback (Matt Leinart)
– the 24th best running back (Marshawn Lynch)
– the 36th best wide receiver (Santonio Holmes)
– the 12th best tight end (Randy McMichael)
– the 12th best point kicker (Josh Scobee)

3.Better or Worse?

To determine a player’s value, we need to see how much better or worse he is than the baseline player in his position. The best way to do this is to subtract the baseline’s projected fantasy points from all the other players in his position.

Here’s an example using our baseline tight end, Randy McMichael:

If McMichael’s projected fantasy points are 131 for 2007, we subtract 131 from him, and every other tight end on the list to get each tight end’s value. So, McMichael will have a value of zero, and Antonio Gates (with projected fantasy points sitting at 206) will have a value of 75 (206 less 131).

You will notice that everyone who has more projected fantasy points than our McMichael will have positive value and everyone below will have negative value.

4. Order Your Players by Value

Your list is ranking players all right, but it’s still organized by position. We all know players aren’t drafted in order of position. So now, you have to sort your players by their value. Dump them all into a spreadsheet together, and sort their VBD amounts in descending order to see how they all match up against each other. You can see how valuable a player is in terms of the entire league, and their ranking should tell you where that player deserves to be drafted, but this doesn’t mean that you have to take that player there. Crunch all the numbers you want, but remember one crucial thing: a successful General Manager won’t draft a player earlier than his opponents force him to.

Now go kick some ass!

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Top Wide Recievers

Posted by zewkey on August 16, 2007

Who’s Number 1?
A Look At The Top Fantasy Receivers
7/23/07
by Eli Mack

No other position in fantasy football garners stronger polarizing opinions than wide receiver. It is the only position where you can find a player listed as the top-ranked receiver in one publication, but as low as #6 in another. Interesting, especially when you consider those involved in fantasy football are exposed to the same pre-draft information, but yet somehow develop diametrically opposed viewpoints. The list that follows is my look at this year’s top-rated wide receivers in seasonal drafts and whom I believe is the best of all.

Exclusive Expert Analysis at Yahoo! Fantasy Football

1. Terrell Owens – Dallas Cowboys
The Player: T.O. is #1 on my list because he is the best receiver in the league. Period. That is certainly debatable, but he has proven his worth under numerous circumstances, in various offenses, with an assortment of quarterbacks, plus he can do everything asked of a receiver. And sure, there should be trepidation with his age (he will turn 34 in December), but T.O. is one of the rare athletes whose supreme talent is matched only by his Herculean work ethic. He could easily play another three or four years and remain productive. T.O. led the league in receiving TDs with 13, but missed out on at least two more with a serious case of the dropsies due to a broken hand. Expect T.O. to once again battle for touchdown-receiving supremacy and show why he is considered one of the most dominant receivers of his era.

Offensive Philosophy: It’s anyone’s guess what the approach will be on offense. First-time offensive coordinator Jason Garrett lacks a true track record from which to draw an opinion, but one thing is clear: T.O. will hound Garrett from Day 1 to get and keep him in the game plan. My money is on Garrett complying in an effort to pacify his mercurial receiver. And it’s a sure bet that T.O. will make certain QB Tony Romo knows he’s open on every passing play. As a result, those involved in ensuring T.O. receives his requisite attention will be proactive in their attempt to cater to T.O., culminating in a rewarding season for T.O. owners. It’s not hyperbole when I say the success of the Cowboys offense hinges on the productivity of Owens, and the coaching staff knows it – and to the delight of his owners, so does T.O.

Friendly Competition: Terry Glenn is the perfect complementary receiver: he’s not so great that he becomes a #1 option, stealing potential catches from T.O., but he’s not a bum that defenses can totally ignore and concentrate on T.O. exclusively either. Tight end Jason Witten will also contribute to diverting attention away from Owens. Consequently, T.O. should continue being the recipient of a passing attack that involves getting him the ball in the best possible position to be successful.

QB Or Not QB: Tony Romo is a young and developing quarterback who should continue to improve. The best and quickest way to ensure that happens is getting Terrell Owens the ball. The Cowboys have no other offensive weapon on their roster with the playmaking ability of #81, and I trust that Romo understands that and will take all the necessary steps to ensure T.O. gets the rock on a regular basis. And here’s the best part for T.O. owners: Terrell Owens will see to it!!

2. Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis Colts
The Player: Eight consecutive years of double-digit TDs, a 12-TD per season average during the same period and being the #1 receiving option for, arguably, the best QB of his generation is all you need to know about this eerily consistent wide out. Is this the year he starts his descent? Is the most common question this time of year regarding Harrison, and evidence during the previous eight years proves it will be awhile before his decline commences.

Offensive Philosophy: It’s easy to view the Colts as a team that throws the ball all over the field. And while they certainly have the skill position players to do so, their approach has always been about balance and taking what the defense gives them. Even with that philosophy, it’s amazing how everyone remains highly productive in this offense – both receivers and running backs. Suffice it to say the Colts – and specifically Harrison and QB Peyton Manning – will continue their assault on the NFL receiving record books.

Friendly Competition: Surprisingly, Reggie Wayne’s development at wide receiver has not affected Harrison’s production at all. Harrison’s yearly averages since Wayne’s arrival: 101 receptions, 1357 yards and 12 TDs. Not too shabby. Owners of Harrison should expect this kind of production for at least the next two years.

QB Or Not QB: No need to elaborate beyond these two words: Peyton Manning. As long as he remains under center, Harrison will maintain his standing as a top-five fantasy receiver.

Sportsbook

3. Torry Holt – St. Louis Rams
The Player: He’s had one of the most productive first eight years of a career of any other receiver in history. Seems like a lifetime ago that Holt once was considered the reception and yardage king who lacked a nose for the end zone. I’d say he’s picked up the slack, as he’s averaged 10 TD receptions each year during the previous four seasons.

Offensive Philosophy: The casual observer may think the absence of head coach Mike Martz would spell doom for the Rams’ passing game, and specifically Torry Holt. Interestingly enough, the Rams had more passing plays last year (591) than they did in 2004 (577), Martz’s last full season in St. Louis. What does this mean? It means we should expect more of the same from Holt, although the presence of Steven Jackson in the passing game could create some anxiety for those greedy Holt owners who want every pass to go #81’s way.

Friendly Competition: Holt has little competition at the receiver position. Isaac Bruce continues to get longer in the tooth, newly-signed Drew Bennett is an overpaid, over-hyped, under-performing possession receiver and prototypical slot receiver Kevin Curtis signed with Philadelphia. Holt owners needn’t worry about Jackson’s role in the passing game, however. If last year is any indication, the two can co-exist smoothly, as both had at least 90 receptions and transformed a passing offense that at times looked like the Rams circa 1999.

QB Or Not QB: Marc Bulger’s veiled threat of a holdout could leave Holt owners shaking in their collective boots, but assuming he signs a new contract and participates in training camp, Holt will remain Bulger’s favorite and most viable down field weapon. Bulger played in all 16 games last year for the first time in his career, and as long as he remains vertical Holt has a good chance to continue his consistent production and burgeoning Hall of Fame career.

4. Chad Johnson – Cincinnati Bengals
The Player: As an owner of Chad Johnson two of the last three years, it’s been fun witnessing his maturation into a very good receiver. He’s a tough player with tremendous heart who is capable of running every route in football, including the clock-cleaning, over-the-middle variety. He enjoyed a stretch from 2003-2005 when he snagged at least 90 catches each year, but there’s something about his productivity that leaves us wanting more. Having only one season with double-digit TDs (10 in 2003) – a disappointing fact considering he has been the #1 option – may be the culprit. Keep in mind, too, that Johnson scored in only four games last year, with five of his seven TDs coming in two games.

Offensive Philosophy: Cincinnati’s offense is designed for receivers to be the catalyst for success. Bengals’ receivers accounted for 70% of the completions last year, with Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh being the primary beneficiaries. Quarterback Carson Palmer spreads the ball evenly between the two, and while that’s great for the Bengals as an NFL team, it could be a source of frustration for Johnson owners – it sure was for me last year. But the personality of the Bengal’s offense will remain an intriguing enticement for those waiting for Johnson’s Marvin Harrison-like explosion.

Friendly Competition: Here’s what should worry those who use a high draft pick on Johnson: Houshmandzadeh had three more receptions than Johnson, two more TDs, but played two fewer games. What’s more, Houshmandzadeh scored in eight of the 14 games he played – a far cry from the feast or famine Johnson owners experienced last year. So while it’s obvious the Bengals enjoy a productive one-two punch, the question is who’s the “two” in that equation?

QB Or Not QB: Carson Palmer remains a season or two away from taking over for Peyton Manning as fantasy football’s top QB. In the meantime, Johnson should remain a major cog in the offensive machine that resides in southern Ohio. Just keep your fingers crossed that Houshmandzadeh doesn’t vulture the targets previously reserved for Johnson.

5. Steve Smith – Carolina Panthers
The Player: Steve Smith’s production and consistency never cease to amaze. Despite missing the first two games of last season, the Carolina Panthers’ one-trick pass receiving pony still produced respectable numbers, scoring in seven of the first 10 games in which he played. But therein is the concern with Smith: can he stay healthy? If so, he’s proven to be one of the most feared playmakers in the league; if not, he’s relegated to second-thought status and placed in the ‘would’ve, could’ve, should’ve’ domain.

Offensive Philosophy: Out as offensive coordinator is the fossil Dan Henning, in is Jeff Davidson, the Cleveland Brown’s interim O.C. from last year. Ouch. I’d imagine Davidson is smart enough to realize that Smith is the most talented player on offense, and that it would behoove him to focus the weekly game plan on his abilities. Obviously we won’t find out how this offense will run until the start of the season, but for those with the fortitude to choose Smith, tempering your expectations should be in order.

Friendly Competition: Smith has shown he can produce monster numbers even as a solo act. He’s done it before as recently as 2005, the year Muhsin Muhammad departed for Chicago, leaving Smith as the only receiving threat and he rewarded owners with a career year. Now with the (forced) retirement of Keyshawn Johnson, Smith is once again left with a collection of underachievers (Keary Colbert, Drew Carter) and young, unproven players (Dwayne Garrett, Ryne Robinson) as help. So Smith owners needn’t worry about reception vultures; rather, the attention should be paid to Smith and his hamstrings and whether or not he can repeat his performance from 2005.

QB Or Not QB: Color me skeptical when it comes to QB Jake Delhomme. He enjoyed dynamic seasons in 2004 and 2005, but endured a thumb injury last year that hindered Smith’s production late in the season. Personally, I’m not a big fan of Delhomme and would think long and hard about drafting Smith because of it. Further, it should be interesting to see how short a leash he has since former #1 overall pick David Carr – he of Houston Texan lore – is now on the roster.

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Top Tier Wide Recievers

Posted by zewkey on August 16, 2007

WIDE RECEIVERS
1 Chad Johnson CIN 5
2 Reggie Wayne IND 6
3 Steve Smith CAR 7
4 Torry Holt STL 9
5 Marvin Harrison IND 6
Tier 2
6 Terrell Owens DAL 8
7 Roy Williams DET 6
8 Donald Driver GB 7
9 Lee Evans BUF 6
10 Larry Fitzgerald Risk ARI 8
11 Deion Branch Upside SEA 8
12 T.J. Houshmandzadeh CIN 5
13 Plaxico Burress NYG 9
14 Javon Walker DEN 6
Tier 3
15 Mark Clayton BAL 8
16 Andre Johnson HOU 10
17 Braylon Edwards CLE 7
18 Marques Colston NO 4
19 Anquan Boldin Risk ARI 8
20 Hines Ward PIT 6
21 Randy Moss Upside NE 10
22 Laveranues Coles NYJ 10
23 Chris Chambers MIA 9
24 Terry Glenn DAL 8
25 Santana Moss WAS 4
26 Reggie Brown PHI 5
27 Joey Galloway TB 10
Tier 4
28 Bernard Berrian CHI 9
29 Greg Jennings GB 7
30 Vincent Jackson SD 7
31 Jerricho Cotchery NYJ 10
32 Kevin Curtis Upside PHI 5
33 Darrell Jackson SF 6
34 Calvin Johnson DET 6
35 Derrick Mason BAL 8
36 Isaac Bruce STL 9
37 Muhsin Muhammad CHI 9
38 Santonio Holmes PIT 6
39 D.J. Hackett SEA 8
40 Eddie Kennison KC 8
41 Donte’ Stallworth NE 10

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