Testing the Russ Bliss Draft Strategy

This is my first year using Fantasy Football Starters as an online resource for both the fantasy football league I participate in. In the past my strategy has been to draft a balanced team, not focusing on a particular position, but attempting to get top players at each offensive position. While that doesn’t guarantee you a championship season, it should give you a shot to have a good season.

This time around I decided to use the Russ Bliss Draft Strategy as seen on the Fantasy Football Starters forum.  it was interesting to see how the team came together after some early round runs on players (RB & QB).  You can read below how all 18 rounds went.

The 2010-2011 NFL season marks my 27th year participating and managing a fantasy league, which was started in 1983 with 5 friends. This is the first year I have decided to use Fantasy Football Starters as my online resource to assist me with the draft and weekly player decisions. I have used other services in the past, but so far I have been impressed with the interaction with other owners in the fantasy football community, something the other services didn’t provide.

As in years past my draft strategy is to build a balanced team. I don’t like to put too much emphasis on a single position, unless you happen to have a player you just cannot pass up. It was interesting to compare my draft strategy with that of Russ Bliss at Fantasy Football Starters. While it was not too surprising to see many similarities in, there were a few rounds that made me stop and think before making a selection.

Our league has 12 teams, with 18 players per team. We have no restrictions on the number of players at each position you need to draft. Starting lineups allowed:

  • 1-2 K
  • 1-2 QB
  • 2-5 RB
  • 1-5 WR
  • 1-5 TE

There is quite a bit of flexibility with the starting 10 players. I was drafting in the #2 spot of snake draft, which means 16 players before my next pick. Too much time to wait and watch.

Round 1: Russ says to draft a RB if you have a top 5 pick.

Adrian Peterson was selected 1.2 to start my draft.

Round 2: Russ says to take a WR if you got a RB in Round 1

Roddy White at 2.19 was still available and now my #1 WR.

Round 3: Russ says, “If you took 1 RB and 1 WR in rounds 1 and 2, take one of top 3 QB’s. If none are available, take a RB.

After a run on QBs (7 selected in Round 2, making 8 QBs overall) I went for my next RB and that was Shonn Greene (3.32).

Checkpoint: Not a bad start, 2RB, 1WR. I usually like to have 1 QB, 1RB, 1 WR after three rounds, but the Round 2 run on QB put any chance of that to rest.

Round 4: Russ says, “If you have 2 RB’s and 1 WR take one of QB’s ranked 1-7.

This was a mistake on my part selecting Jay Cutler at 4.49 as he was not a top 7 QB (I had seen him as high as 8). It was a cause for concern as I considered my options prior to the selection and felt if I did not get a QB now, I would have been in a worse position with a lower tiered QB.

Round 5: Russ says, “If you have 1 QB, 2 RB’s, and 1 WR, take a WR ranked 1-16. If none are available, take a RB.

Ochocinco was probably another stretch and I know for a fact not a top 16 WR. I felt he was better than the other names left, which were all tier 2 WRs or lower

Round 6: Russ says, “If you have 1 QB, 2 RB’s, and 2 WR’s, take a RB no matter what.

I felt good with Matt Forte (6.59) to give me 3 starting RBs.

Checkpoint: I was still on par with Russ after 6 rounds with 1 QB, 3RB and 2 WR.

Round 7: Russ says, “If any of the top 6 TE’s are still available, take a TE. If they are gone, take a WR.

I usually take a TE in the 5th round, but held off and was rewarded nicely with Vernon Davis (Gates, Clark and Finley had already been drafted).

Round 8: Russ says, “If you took a TE in round 7, take a WR.

At 8.79, Mike Sims-Walker was still on the board and became my 3rd WR. He is the starter in Jacksonville, so I was pleased with his pick up.

Round 9: Russ says, “Draft depth at RB and WR or grab your backup QB.

You can never have enough RB and Felix Jones of Dallas was still on the board. Of course Dallas is prone to have a RBBC, Jones is probably the strongest of the three RB available. I did have a fleeting thought to select LT, but decided against it.

Round 10: Russ says, “Draft depth at RB and WR or grab your backup QB.

With a WR taken in Round 9 I decided to take my back up QB, Alex Smith of SF. Maybe he can be considered the “best of the worst” that were still available. Matt Cassel was the other QB I was considering before making my selection.

Round 11: Russ says, “Draft depth at RB and WR or grab your backup QB.

I had intended on taking a WR for depth in this round, but I was surprised to see Tim Hightower still available. I wasted no time in adding him to my bench to give me 5 RB after 11 rounds.

Checkpoint: My roster looked like 2 QB, 5 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, I was a one WR off based on this draft checkpoint because of my selection in Round 11. I still left I was on track for a good draft with 5 round remaining and was not worried about adding depth at WR.

Round 12: Russ says, “…continue filling out your bench RB’s and WR’s.” (Our league does not play a defense)

Lee Evans (12.119) of Buffalo was still around in Round 12, so I felt he was a starter and main target in Buffalo, who will usually be trailing and needing to throw.

Round 13: Russ says, “…continue filling out your bench with either handcuff RB, sleeper RB/WR or backup TE if one of the top 18 TE’s is still available.

With the run on kickers in the 12 round I decided to bump my kicker up a round and select Gostkowski from NE. I am of the rational to play two top tier kickers.

Round 14: Russ says, “Consider one of the top 5 kickers if available or fill out more depth with handcuff RB, or sleeper RB/WR or second TE.

Jerricho Cotchery was selected to help cover bye weeks and as a possibly 3rd WR if I needed to go with that option.

Round 15: Russ says, “If you didn’t take your K in rd 14, take one here. Most every team will be taking their Kicker in the last round anyway so you should still be able to get a good sleeper RB/WR, second TE, or handcuff RB.

I know this is an unpopular strategy but in our league I usually start 2 kickers, as they can end up being top 10 scorers at the end of the year. Since I did not have a good #2 starting QB I picked up Tynes to be by second (and starting) kicker.

Round 16: Russ says, “Handcuff RB, sleeper RB/WR, second TE, or handcuff QB.

Kevin Walter was added at WR, a #2 starter in Houston with Schaub and Johnson, he should have a strong year if he ends up staying healthy.

Round 17 and 18: Russ didn’t say anything because he had only planned for a 16 round draft.

Round 17: I took Mewelde Moore of Pittsburgh, which was more less a wasted selection because he backs up Mendehall. Very little value here unless Mendenhall gets injured.

Round 18: I am also of the belief to carry 2 TE, one for the bye week. Todd Heap fits the bye and should have a strong year in Baltimore with Flacco and now Boldin in town.

My Russ Bliss team consists of:

QB: J Cutler, A Smith

RB: A Peterson, M Forte, S Greene, T Hightower, F Jones, M Moore

WR: R White, C Ochocinco, M Sims-Walker, L Evans, J Cotchery, M Walter

TE: V Davis, T Heap

K: S Gostkowski, L Tynes

Not sure if I would consider this a championship team with the quality I have at QB, which worries me. Maybe Martz will turn Cutler into a superstar this season with a West Coast style offense. I also feel a bit weak at WR with Ochocinco as my #2. He is saying all the right things leading up to Week 1, hopefully he has a good season.

We will see just how good of a team I drafted starting this weekend.

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