The Ogletree Factor

This year, maybe we call it “The Ogletree Factor” as owners fly to the waiver wire and then to their fantasy football sources to see if they should grab Dallas wide receiver, Kevin Ogletree. The short answer, no. Why should you? Chances are you draft is just about a week old, can you really tell me that picking up a WR3 based off one game is going to improve you over the course of the next 16 weeks?

Last year we had a similar situation take place on the opening night of the NFL as Green Bay hosted New Orleans. A rookie by the name of Randall Cobb thrilled the Packer faithful with a 108-yard kickoff return and caught 2-35 and 1 TD. That night, followed by the next few days, owners were wanting to know the same thing. “Should I pick up Randall Cobb? He is available on the waiver wire.” Yeah, as he should be, just like Ogletree. We are one game into the season, as Michael_8256 on the FFS Forums said, “Don’t over-think it!

Stealing another saying from Michael, which I subscribe to, “it’s a marathon not a sprint” as it relates to the season. Don’t be worried if you team starts slow or players you expected are not scoring as you had hoped early in the season. Maybe you end taking a few loses or played a particular match up instead of playing your studs. Weekly on FFS owners pose starter questions, most of which receive quite a bit of input. Even with all the opinions of other forum members, go with your gut. If you feel strongly about a play, then play them. You do not have to agree with the opinions you get on the forums, you asked for input and feedback was provided.

Another fantasy fopaux owners make, rushing to the waiver wire. Stop! Don’t do it! Unless you have suffered a season ending injury chances are high (not impossible) a wire pick up before the start of the season won’t help you. Of course there are cases where this has been wrong. Example, 2010 an owner in our league drafted Montario Hardesty, who torn an ACL picked up Peyton Hillis, who went on to rush for 1177 yards and 13 TDs. Again, those are rare instances.

Go into a new fantasy football season with a little patience and remember to take into account The Fantasy Football Law of Averages as described by Russ Bliss on Fantasy Football Staters. Don’t chase a get one week performer, like Ogletree in this case. The law reads:

This is a law that dictates there are only so many yards and TD’s to go around and mediocre guys who have really good weeks will have to have really bad weeks later on to average their stats out. It also works in reverse for good and/or great players. Those who have really bad weeks will have to have some really good ones to again, average it out by seasons end.

That describes players like Ogletree and Cobb, who went on to score no more TDs after his opening night performance. So exercise a little patience with your team, give them time to perform. Don’s be surprised if it takes 3-4 weeks to see some players get up to speed and start performing.

While I am against using the waiver wire, it is a necessity these days. Long gone are the days of the 4 supplemental picks we used to get after every 4 weeks of the NFL season. These days the waiver wire is continually being used by owners in nearly every league. In the league I run, I don’t open the wire until AFTER the conclusion of the first week. I see no reason an owner should be hitting the wire immediately after a draft. The exception, an owner who loses a player to a season ending injury. You can see who I am targeting by reading Watch List #1.

In the end, even those we like bragging rights over our friends and taking their money. In the words of Michael_8256, “remember…its Fantasy Football, its suppose to be fun…there are 800 things more important that it!

Who do I draft?

In the 29 years I have been participating and managing a league in fantasy football, I still haven’t seen everything. Sure I saw an owner (me) draft a kicker in round 1, even saw another owner draft a player because he liked his name (Louie Lipps). This year will bring another season of unknowns that fantasy owners must sort though and make decisions on. A common question I hear, “Who do I draft in round 1?” Not sure why there happens to be so much debate and question when it comes to the first pick or the first round in the fantasy football draft. What you should be more focused on are the players in the middle to late rounds.

Take a look at the fantasy football resources you use. Chances are pretty good the top 3-5 picks look exactly the same. We could probably diagram round 1 out with accurate results. Depending on your league setup, rules and starter requirements there could be some discrepancy. Take example the league I manage, we can start 2 QBs, so the last few years we have see 8-9 QBs drafted by the end of round 2. This goes against what many ADP charts have plotted. Right now we see 3 “elite” RBs going in the top 3, Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy. We also know there are 3 “elite” QBs, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

When you start your draft preparation, more time should be invested into players you draft later. Much of rounds 1 though 3 can be scripted but what’s your strategy when you get to round 10? What questions do you ask when you are looking for a bench player who might only get a few starters this season? There is a good chance your season won’t be lost on your draft #1 (unless you make my mistake and draft a kicker), but poor late round selections could hurt your chances at finishing in the money.

When I started preparing for my draft I read what information is available on the Internet about each team and their offensive players. Rarely do I watch much pre season football as it really only clouds my judgment on players I might be targeting. I do take some items into consideration, such as the NFL schedule for weeks 14 through 16. These usually correlate with fantasy football playoffs. You might also add the NFL strength of schedule ranking, but these numbers are a bit ambiguous as the season gets rolling, which is why I like Russ Bliss’s fantasy points per game of FP/PG. Unfortunately this method cannot be applied at the start of the season, but you can refer back to last season, but take it with a grain of salt for the upcoming season.

I don’t believe I am a majority voice when it comes to backing up all my players. This comes from the many years we played without having access to a waiver wire, but using supplemental draft picks every 4th week of the NFL season. You had to draft 18 players and run with them all year. Injuries? Hopefully you backed up your starting QB or TE because you didn’t have a chance to add one during the season. These days many people vigorously work the waiver wire to build their team AFTER the draft. I don’t subscribe to this method of team building. I believe you build a successful team in the draft and use the wire as necessary, when necessary to supplement your team. After all if you build a strong, competitive team you shouldn’t have to chase the hottest players of the week. Right?

One of the more common strategies when drafting is the handcuff. If you draft Arian Foster, then you should make plans for adding Ben Tate to your team. You might even need to jump on him earlier than anticipated, as another owner could take advantage and draft Tate before you. The handcuff usually applies to the running back position. More recently I have seen owners reject the idea of drafting a back up QB, opting for adding depth at RB or WR. For the bye week, they may drop a lesser used player and pick up a QB to cover a BYE week. I subscribe to drafting a back up QB. Chances are if you lose your #1 QB your season will be hosed anyway, especially if your QB was Rodgers, Brees or Brady. It’s very difficult to recover from losing a player of this caliber at ANY position. Make the sacrifice and plan to draft a back up. You might refer back to weeks 14-16 of the NFL and see if there are any QBs who have soft match ups.

Many players in the later rounds could fall under the label of “sleeper,” which is used quite often in fantasy football. These days with so much information available on TV, radio and the Internet, the true sleeper has gone to bed. Many will still put together a list of sleepers, but the names on that list might be well known come draft day. For example a WR like Michael Crabtree, while known could make a sleeper list. Based on the last few years he hasn’t put together great stats and has been injured. This year with the addition of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, Crabtree might develop into a solid #2 WR.

Bottom line, don’t get caught up in the hype at the top of the draft board. While the first few rounds are usually scripted, surprises can and will happen. Remember to be flexible when it comes to draft. Don’t get caught not knowing who was just drafted. Being prepared is a key to be successful in your draft. While there are other aspects that are out of your control, do what you can to learn the players and know how to implement your strategy when it comes to your draft picks. A bit of extra time now preparing will save you a draft day headache and answer the question of “Who do I draft?”

2 QB Draft Strategy

2 quarterback draft strategyDigging through the archives of fantasy football material I have collected it’s interesting to see how the quarterback position has dominated scoring over the years. Years past it’s the running back position owners are interested in during the early rounds, which they build their team around. What happens if you the league you play in starts 2 quarterbacks? This is the case with the league I have managed for 29 years, owners have the option to start 2 quarterbacks or 2 kickers. During the early years many owners chose the 2 kicker option, but over the years that trend has turned and the quarterback is the more valuable position. This year I will attempt to implement a 2 QB draft strategy, as we have one of the strongest groups of QBs we have seen in the NFL.

Regardless of you scoring a league that allows you to start 2 quarterbacks will have you organizing your cheat sheets a bit different. Many years I have approached a fantasy draft with a balanced approach in mind in a similar manner as Russ Bliss discusses in his eBook, How to Win at Fantasy Football. While not always successful, it is one of many ways to build a team. It hasn’t been until 2008did we see an owner draft QB/QB in the first two rounds, going Brees/Brady. This move would have paid off, but the owner lost Brady for the season due to a knee injury. He finished in last place. In 2010 we saw a Brees/Manning combo that accounted for 637 (59%) total points. The following year it was Brees/Rivers going off for 837 points (43%). This year I believe we could see 2-3 owners going QB/QB based on the NFL starting to air it out.

So what is your plan as you prepare for your draft? Based on the previous year, it’s difficult not to draft a quarterback. I don’t believe you can go wrong with Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Tom Brady at 1.01. Here are some interesting statistics from our league going back 5 years as it relates to the QB position.

2011 9 out of 10 were QB (8 QB thru 2 rounds)
2010 9 out of 10 were QB (6 QB thru 2 rounds)
2009 8 out of 10 were QB (3 QB thru 2 rounds)
2008 7 out of 10 were QB (N/A)
2007 7 out of 10 were QB (2 QB thru 2 rounds)

The trend is ascending and this year I expect more quarterbacks to be selected in the first two rounds that any prior year. Considering how conservative I draft with my balanced approach, if the right draft slot comes up I will make a grab, going QB/QB in the first two rounds. This strategy immediately puts you in a bind forcing you to follow up in round 3 with a running back and then a wide receiver (or a second running back). Much like the WR/WR/WR/QB/TE approached I used last year, preparation is the key. You must get value at the RB position in round 3, which includes Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and Darren Sproles, based off ADP between July 31, 2012 and August 1, 2012.

Depending on the talent remaining at the RB position at the start of round 4 it would not be a stretch to double up at that position, leaving round 6 and 7 for WR/WR or WR/TE. Since there is great depth at the wide out position this year (and based off ADP) Eric Decker and Steve Johnson could be available. If you buy into Robert Meachem in San Diego or Torry Smith in Baltimore, both could be there the following round. Round 7 shows Vernon Davis and Jason Witten could potentially be available. Even beyond this round names such as Fred Davis and Jacob Tamme could grace your team.

By round 8 or 9, it’s back following my balanced approach, similar to what Russ Bliss proposes in his eBook, How To Win Fantasy Football: Secrets of Gridiron Greatness. By this point in the draft you are draft back up players and looking to handcuff a running back or possibly a quarterback before drafting your defense and place kicker.

I believe this strategy works best for an owner who is slotted with a 7-10 draft pick, a draft slot of 1-6 could have you rethinking strategy when you are on the clock in round 2. A later draft slot will also allow you to draft a higher rated QB at start round 2, a player will will undoubtedly finish in the top 10 scoring. If you have a 1-6 slot in your draft and start 2 QB, it’s not impossible to accomplish, but you could be sacrificing a high scoring player at RB or WR if you start round 1 draft a QB. I will only push my limits on the QB/QB if, based off my projections (and history) the 2 QBs I draft have a track record of finishing in the top ten scoring (all players, not just the QB position).

Round 1 – QB

Round 2 – QB

Round 3 – RB

Round 4 – RB/WR
1.I think this pick depends on the talent remaining at the RB position. If you can secure a starter in this round, I would consider following up round 3 with another RB. There is a good chance there will higher quality WR still available, but it’s important to secure 2 starting RBs while there are still some to be had.
2. If you feel there is more value in drafting a WR in round 4 then taken him. The longer you wait to secure your second running back, the thinner the talent pool will be, especially in the following round. This round is 50/50 or 60/40 when it comes to RB vs WR drafted.

Round 5 – WR/RB
1. This selection depends on what you did in round 4. If you drafted a RB, I suggest you draft a WR. There should be some solid starters available, possibly some on passing dominated teams.
2. If you drafted a WR in round 4, then secure your second starting running back. Talent is beginning to thin out as it relates to starters, but you might find a few names surprisingly still on the board. I would avoid a DET or WAS situation in this round as well.

Round 6 – WR or TE
1. Don’t get caught up in a potential run on the TE position in this round (Gronky & Graham not included), but if that happens you might be able to draft a WR who was bypassed in favor of a TE.
2. I do feel there is good depth at the TE position, so you can probably wait one more round to grab your starter.

Round 7 – RB

Round 8 – WR

By no means does this strategy equate to a championship season. It is just one of many draft strategies that owners can use. Our draft takes place on August 18, poolside at The Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. Depending on what draft pick I pull I plan on implementing a QB/QB strategy in the first round. I will provide a post-mortem after the conclusion of our draft to see just how this strategy played out. I am always welcome to comments and suggestions, feel free to e-mail them to me at tbh [@] the6thfloor [dot] com.

Part II, coming soon…

The Sproles Effect

The Sproles EffectIt seems to happen early in fantasy football every year. A lower tiered player comes to the forefront who was not necessarily expected to outperform star players. Unfortunately, no matter how good you are at predicting statistics, providing advice to other owners or making decision based on fantasy tools you use, the biggest part you have no control over is luck.

We have read and heard Russ Bliss discuss this factor previously. Last night Saints running back, Darren Sproles scored 2 TDs and had 7 receptions for 75 yards. If asked would I start Sproles chance are pretty high I would have said no on many accounts. Why? Simple. He was one of three running backs in an RBBC for Sean Peyton. Preseason did not give us a good read on how each of these backs would be used. Knowing Sproles from watching him for years in San Diego, Peyton used him exactly how Norv Turner used him. Sproles, along with returning kicks, was used as a receiving back out of the backfield. On Thursday he happened to capitalize on his ability to catch and run.

On a similar note, rookie, Randall Cobb of Green Bay scored twice, including a 108-yard TD return and a TD pass from Aaron Rodgers. He finished with 2-35 yards and 2 TDs. Should he have been considered a start? Nope, not with the weapons the Packers have, there should have been no thought of even having him on your fantasy roster.

The morning after, we now have fantasy owners bum rushing the waiver wire to pick up Darren Sproles (if he wasn’t drafted in your league) as well as Randall Cobb because of a single game performance. As FFS moderator James stated, “Do you think Sproles has a 41 point production week left in him the rest of the year?” The last time Sproles had 2 TDs in a game was against 2009 against Denver in Week 5 in which one was a kick return, the other a TD reception. In Week 2 of that same year He had 7-124 yards, 1 TD. Again, he was not a real fantasy option for many owners.

Another comment I subscribe to. The fantasy football season is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t buy into early season hype or performance based on a single game. If you do, you could end up chasing hot players all season long, while possibly ignore talent you have on your bench. While it was great to see Sproles do well reunited with Drew Brees and amazing to see the talent Randall Cobb bought to the Packers I have neither on a watch list after just a single game. Great performances that added to the Saints/Packers shoot out, but after a single game I am not ready to start sprinting.

Alternate Draft Strategy

Over the years in the TFL I have drafted and promoted “balance” in my fantasy football teams. Unlike some owners who stockpile (usually) running backs, I opt for drafting value at each offensive position (RB/QB/WR). This allows me a top player at each position and provides me a strong foundation to build upon.

When I joined Fantasy Football Starters, I read about the Russ Bliss Draft Strategy, which I was very familiar with because it mirrored how I usually drafted. Russ took his strategy a step or two further, providing contingencies in each round depending on the position you just drafted. This makes the transition into a fantasy football league easier for new owners, but it also allowed me, as an experienced owner of my options, round by round.

Last year I failed before I even started in how I computed and used my cheat sheets, which had me throwing in the towel by week 10, but in reality I failed myself with Shonn Greene being drafted in the 3rd round in 2010. This year I would like to think I am a year wiser, but also open to new ideas when it comes to fantasy football. Over the years I have been drafting with blinders on. Thanks to FFS those blinders have been dropped and I am open to alternative draft strategies, depending on where I am in the draft.

Regardless of the strategy you employ in your draft, one key component is to “stay flexible.” This year FFS member Cody bought an interesting strategy to my attention. The piece came from the Rotoworld Forums written by the user, Mad Scientist titled, “The Don’t draft RB’s until the 6th round strategy.” In 2000 I actually started by drafting  two WRs in Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison. He does make a compelling argument, “the strategy is a stat that 67% of RBS in the top 24 this year will not be in the top 24 the next year. There is also a similar drop off in the top 12 (RBs).” I also understand Russ Bliss has a similar strategy at FFS, but have yet to read about it.

This strategy has an owner drafting WR, WR, WR, QB, TE, RB, RB, RB, RB through 9 rounds. “I’m shocked at the RB’s that are available pretty much free and clear…there is less competition at RB rounds 6-8,” says Mad Scientist. Using our most recent TFL draft only 8 RBs were drafted in those 3 rounds as compared to 11 WR, 7 QB and 4 TE. Even rounds 9-12 have some good RBs on the board.

Trying to apply this strategy in my most recent draft I could have drafted Andre Johnson and either Roddy White or Charles Johnson in the #5 slot last weekend. Round 3 would have been interesting because historically the TE position goes off the board in Round 4 or 5 with Antonio Gates being draft. This year he was a 4th round pick and I don’t believe I would have reached for him in the 3rd meaning guys like Nicks and Fitzgerald would have been available. That would have rounded out my 3 starters at WR and if Gates was still selected in the 4th round, all the other big named TE were still available.

I can only speculate how it would have actually played out, but the strategy is interesting, but an owner needs to really pay attention to the tiers and getting the best value at RB when the times comes. This strategy might work better if you had a #9 or #10 draft pick (10 team league), as you would almost assure yourself of 2 top WRs. With any luck in one of my last two fantasy drafts I might have a chance to employ this strategy and see just how my draft goes.