Strategy

Journey Through the Box Scores: Week 4

Every week, I try to go through all the box scores and pick out a few interesting tidbits for fantasy owners. I post them on Twitter as I go, but below is a compilation of this week’s tweets:

- R. Mathews 21 touches, 149 yards; Tolbert 11 touches, 68 yards, TD. Both good starts in mediocre to good matchups.

- Slaton saw two touches in first game. Bush 15 touches for 65 yards. L. Hilliard got the TD.

- Raiders rush defense is BAD. Patriots averaged 6.1 ypc.

- Stevan Ridley (10 car, 97 yards, TD) now has 139 rushing yards on 16 carries in last two games. 8.7 ypc.

- Nearly two straight goose eggs for D. Branch, who caught a four-yard TD in 4th qtr.

- Gronkowski just 1-15 on five targets. Raiders LBs did a nice job of bracketing him down seam. Welker took advantage 9-158-1.

- Not buying any Seahawks other than maybe S. Rice. Untrustworthy.

- That’s the Julio Jones we thought we’d see — 11 receptions for 127 yards on 17 targets.

Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Content at 4for4

Just in case you’re looking for Waiver Wire Watch, Defensive Team By Waiver Wire and Sneaky Starts, they’re over at 4for4.com.

We’ll also be rolling out in-season Strength of Schedule starting in Week 5.

If you’re wondering why I don’t have a weekly Q&A post, please read this.

Through three weeks, I’ve been rated the #2 most accurate expert at FantasyPros (the same contest that I won last year). My Week 4 rankings are below.

Thanks for stopping by.

Journey Through the Box Scores: Week 2

Every week, I try to go through all the box scores and pick out a few interesting tidbits for fantasy owners. I post them on Twitter as I go, but below is a compilation of this week’s tweets.

- DMC 27 touches, 143 yards, 2 TD; Bush 4 touches, 23 yards, TD; Bush still vulturing some goal line looks, but DMC getting a ton of work.

- Hagan 5-61 overshadowed by D. Moore’s big day. If Ford/DHB continue to be sidelined, might be worth a look.

- Fred Jackson has 229 rushing yards in last two weeks. 38 touches vs. Spiller’s 11. F-Jax upcoming sched: NE, CIN, PHI, NYG.

- David Nelson 10-83-1 on 13 targets. Stevie 20 targets, Nelson 19, D. Jones 11, Chandler 9.

- Jahvid Best 3.6 ypc, lackluster rushing once again. However he posted 6-66 in the passing game plus two TDs.

- Nate Burleson 7-93, leading the Lions in targets. Don’t forget about him, especially in PPR leagues. Titus Young 7 targets (5-89).

- Brandon Pettigrew 1-7 on three targets. Yeesh. Sit him down. Scheffler 1-36-1 on four targets.

Read the rest of this entry »

FantasyPros Invitational Draft Recap

I was invited to join a league formed by Yahoo’s Andy Behrens made up of fantasy football writers who have performed well in FantasyPros individual or overall rankings accuracy studies. The draft order went like this:

1. David Dodds – FootballGuys
2. Andy Behrens – Yahoo
3. Brandon Funston – Yahoo
4. Josh Moore – 4for4
5. John Paulsen – Fantasy Shrink / 4for4
6. Jamey Eisenberg – CBS Sports
7. Pat Fitzmaurice – Pro Football Weekly
8. Scott Pianowski – Yahoo
9. R.J. White – Fantasy Football Cafe
10. Chet Gresham – Razzball (who was out of the country on a mission involving national security, so Eric Yeomans drafted for him)
11. Jeff Pasquino – FootballGuys
12. Bob Henry – FootballGuys

I thought they should have gone in order of the 2010 accuracy standings, but…whatever.

This is a 12-team league that starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 R/W/T flex, 1 W/T flex, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 DT. It’s a 0.5 PPR league that awards 6 points for all TDs.

Round 1: LeSean McCoy, RB
This draft was conducted Wednesday night on the heels of Arian Foster‘s “MRIgate” and before the end of Chris Johnson‘s holdout, so I was not particularly happy about drawing the #5 pick and was prepared to pass on Foster for Andre Johnson if the top 4 RBs flew off the board as expected. Luckily, Funston stepped up and took Foster, so I thanked my lucky stars as I nabbed McCoy. His value is a bit diminished in a half-PPR league, but he’s still a very safe pick in the first round.

Round 2: Mike Wallace, WR
I wanted to grab a WR here and then look for Antonio Gates or a RB in the third round. I think there’s a drop-off after Vincent Jackson and Wallace, and I’m a bit higher on Mikey. Entering his third year, I think he’s in for a big 2011.

Round 3: LeGarrette Blount, RB
Reggie Wayne, Jahvid Best and Blount made it to me, and I like the way Blount is playing (specifically the way he is catching the ball) in the preseason. I have Best in several leagues, so wanted to switch things up and take Blount.

Round 4: DeSean Jackson, WR
My decision was between D-Jax and Stevie Johnson here, and again, since I have Stevie in about three dozen leagues this year, I zagged and took D-Jax, who should have a fine season. I really wasn’t expecting him to make to 4.08 anyway.

Round 5: Jason Witten, TE
This was a tough pick. I was hoping Mario Manningham would fall to me, but he went 4.10 to Funston. Santonio Holmes went on the turn, so at 5.05 I was mainly looking at Witten and Peyton Manning. I love Witten, but I regret this pick because of how far a couple of other TEs fell later in the draft. Had I known that was going to happen, I would have taken Percy Harvin or Tim Hightower here and used a middle round pick on a TE.

Round 6: Joseph Addai, RB
I really wanted to grab a third WR here, but the RBs were thinning out quickly. Hightower, Beanie Wells, Reggie Bush, Fred Jackson, Cedric Benson, Marshawn Lynch and Mike Tolbert all went between 5.06 and 6.07, so while I wanted to grab Santana Moss or Mike Thomas, I felt compelled to take Addai as my RB3.

Round 7: Matthew Stafford, QB
A bit flustered after Moss, Thomas and Julio Jones all went on the turn, I decided to bypass my WR3 and take a QB that I haven’t really been targeting this summer. I figured I would need some bold moves to win an experts league and if Stafford can stay healthy, I think he’ll produce Top 5 numbers. Also, I have the other QBs that were on the board (namely Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman) in multiple leagues, so I again wanted to switch things up. (Note: Jimmy Graham and Owen Daniels were still on the board at this point, so if I had a do over, I would have taken Harvin or Hightower at 5.05 and taken Graham or Daniels here.)

Round 8: Pierre Garcon, WR
I’m not a big Garcon fan this year, but if Austin Collie or Reggie Wayne miss anytime, he’ll be WR2-caliber. As it stands, he’s a marginal WR3. I thought about Mike Sims-Walker, Danny Amendola or Davone Bess here, but I figured one would make it back in the 9th.

Round 9: Josh Freeman, QB
No such luck. Once again, I was foiled by the WR run at the turn, so with Freeman as the best value on the board, I took him to give me some insurance if Stafford can’t stay healthy. Freeman hasn’t had a great preseason, but the kid is a gamer and I think he’ll produce when the games start to count.

Round 10: Rob Gronkowski, TE
The WRs available were pretty dreadful from a value standpoint, and I think Gronk is capable of not only backing up Witten, but starting regularly in my WR/TE flex. I am higher than most on Gronkowski.

My picks for the remainder of the draft: Ronnie Brown (handcuff for McCoy), LaDainian Tomlinson (unexciting yet decent flex play), Jets DT, Arrelious Benn, Terrell Owens (yes, I know he’s still injured) and Jerome Simpson. I’ll have to drop someone for a kicker, but wanted to give myself an extra couple of days to consider my options.

Here are the complete draft results, and here is my full roster:

QB: Stafford, Freeman
RB: McCoy, Blount, Addai, LT2, R. Brown
WR: Wallace, D-Jax, Garcon, Benn, T.O., Simpson
TE: Witten, Gronkowski
K: ?
DT: Jets

Given the competition, I’m happy with my team. Most of the players I was targeting were going a round or two earlier, so it was tough at times to decide quickly about who to take. Most weeks I’ll be starting Stafford, McCoy, Blount, Addai, Wallace, D-Jax, Garcon, Witten and Gronkowski, and I don’t think anyone is going to want to play that team, at least not on paper. Wait, fantasy football is on paper! Sort of…

Step by step through another fantasy auction

To read about my first auction, click here. If you’re wondering about my auction strategy, start there.

Here are the details: 12-team slow auction PPR w/$400 cap; 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 flex, TE, K & DT

My second auction started two weeks ago and is just about complete. Using our revamped auction prices over at 4for4.com, I was confident that I was heading into my draft with a good idea of what each player was worth. We used 4for4′s Value Based Rankings to calculate dollar amounts per player, based on a customized percentage of total payroll (suggested: 90%) that will be used on the starting lineup. These prices were invaluable in helping me identify value as it emerged.

I began by going big on two studs — Adrian Peterson ($95) and Chris Johnson ($85). I was fairly optimistic about CJ2K when I bid on him, but now I’m regretting it a little. I thought the Titans’ position (that they would make Johnson the highest paid RB in the league) was enough, but I didn’t realize that he was looking for money beyond his position. While I do think something will get done before the season, I was concerned enough to nab Javon Ringer ($12) and Jamie Harper ($3) late in the draft. Gotta protect that investment.

I normally don’t bid too much on defenses or kickers, but I dropped $5 on the Packers DT early in the auction. Some of the elite defenses went for $6+ in my other auction, so I figured it was worth it so that I wouldn’t have to play Defensive Team By Waiver Wire in every league.

The next auction I won was Mario Manningham for $36, which was up from the $31 I spent on him in the first auction. In other words, his stock is rising. (In two recent expert drafts, he went in the 5th round, which means you can probably get him in the 6th in your friends and family league.) I was prepared to spend $40+ because I view him as a very solid WR2 in both standard and PPR formats.

Rob Gronkowski was nominated and I once again won him for $9. I simply think he’s undervalued and would be happy with him as my TE1. As it turns out, he’ll be my backup, but more on that later.

Santana Moss ($29) should make a fine WR3, though I am a bit concerned about John Beck at QB. Moss and Rex Grossman showed a nice rapport late last season and now he has to adjust to a new QB. At WR1, I went after Mike Williams, Stevie Johnson and Santonio Holmes, but they all went for $50+, which was more than I had budgeted. I settled for Austin Collie at $37. He’s risky, but when he’s playing, he’s WR1-caliber in PPR formats. To shore up the WR position, I won Mike Sims-Walker ($9), Terrell Owens ($1) and Steve Smith 2.0 ($1). I think MSW could have a nice year with Sam Bradford throwing to him in Josh McDaniels’ offense. I have no idea why Owens only went for $1 — he’s going to land somewhere and get WR1/WR2 targets and is still a top 20 WR talent-wise. I guess we’ll see.

By not extending myself at WR1, I was able to afford Dallas Clark for a discounted price of $28. His value at 4for4 was $42, so I felt I was better served putting my dollars towards an elite TE instead of overpaying for a low-end WR1. I could potentially start Gronkowski at the flex or possibly trade one of my TEs for help at another position if need be.

At RB, I got on the Tim Hightower train for $15 before he really cemented the RB1 job in Washington. I really like him as a RB3 in the 7th round of standard drafts. The only way I see him losing the job is if his fumbling problems resurface. I also nabbed Jonathan Stewart for $16. He’s a tough guy to value because he’s clearly a backup right now, but if DeAngelo Williams gets injured again, Stewart will have top 10 value.

At QB, I did what I normally do — look for value. And I found it in Matt Ryan, whom I locked up for $13 just before reports of Falcons’ desire to air it out hit the internet. People paying attention to the franchise this offseason could predict this shift in ideology, especially after the thrashing the team took at the hands of the Packers in the playoffs and their subsequent moves on draft night to acquire Julio Jones. I am high on the entire Atlanta offense this year, including WR3 Harry Douglas, who is drawing rave reviews at camp.

From there, I targeted Peterson’s backup, Toby Gerhart ($1), and the up-and-coming Colt McCoy ($2), whose schedule meshes nicely with Ryan’s. I also nominated Stephen Gostkowski and won him for $1 while the rest of the league was focused on other positions.

Here is my complete roster:

QB: Ryan, McCoy
RB: Peterson, CJ2K, Hightower, Stewart, Ringer, Harper, Gerhart
WR: Manningham, Collie, S. Moss, MSW, T.O., Smith 2.0
TE: Clark, Gronkowski
K: Gostkowski
DT: Packers

Step by step through a fantasy football auction

For the last two seasons, I’ve played in a PPR auction league ($400 cap, 2 RB, 3 WR, flex) and as much as I enjoy drafting, auctions are so much more fun. In snake drafts, you are at the mercy of what the guys ahead of you do, and you know that if you have the #11 pick, you aren’t even going to sniff any of the top 6 RBs this year. In an auction, if you want a particular player, you can have him — provided you are willing to pay the price.

My auction league is so much fun that I joined another that is run by the same commissioner. Our slow auction has already started, so I’m planning to update this post throughout the process. As some background, I finished third in my league in 2009 (after finishing as the #1 seed heading into the playoffs) and won the league last year even though I lost Tony Romo midseason. (Thank you, Josh Freeman…thank you.)

Each owner can nominate one player every 24 hours and that player is up for auction for 24 hours. If there is a new high bid on that player, the clock on his auction is reset. This gives everyone an equal opportunity to react.

My strategy early in drafts is typically to try to acquire two studs using a max budget of 50% of the cap. I normally go after one RB and one WR, but this year, with so much depth at WR and not as much at RB (at least right now), I was hoping to grab a top 6 RB — Foster, AP, CJ2K, Charles, Rice or McCoy — and get one of the guys from the second tier — DMC, Gore, Forte, Mendenhall, MJD, S-Jax or Hillis. (Bradshaw could join that group if he re-ups with the Giants.)

When I nominate, I look for big-name players whom I believe are overrated. I do this to coax the money out of the other owners and give myself a better shot at the guys I do like. To start this year’s auction, I went with Greg Jennings (whom I like, but not as a 2nd round value). He went for $67, which was predictably more than what I was willing to spend. After locking up a couple of studs, I nominated Roddy White, knowing I had no chance of winning him with the remainder of my budget.

Arian Foster was the first player nominated and I immediately put a big bid in. I project his value in the $135-$145 range, and I ended up getting him for $98, which is a screaming deal. One by one, the other top 6 RBs were nominated and their prices climbed into the $80-$95 range. Jamaal Charles was sitting at $82, so I decided to see if I could get him for $100 and ended up landing him for $95. I had my two studs at a total price of $193. To put this in perspective, in 2009 I nabbed Adrian Peterson ($111) and Larry Fitzgerald ($84) for $195 total. In 2010, I bought Chris Johnson ($120) and Miles Austin ($77) for $197.

Needless to say, I’m feeling very good about my start.

It’s now time to sit back and let value emerge. I have a certain budget set for each of my other starting slots (QB, WR1, WR2, WR3, flex, TE) and have a list of guys that I think I have a shot at at each position. My goal is to get a player at each spot at a price that is no more than 80%-90% of my calculated value.

I won’t be spending much on a QB1 — I spent $14 on Romo in 2009 and got him for $39 last year, and regretted it. Not just because he got injured, but because of the other almost-as-good players who went later, for less. Just like I’m targeting Big Ben, Eli, Freeman, Ryan, etc. in drafts in the middle rounds, I’ll likely be going after the same guys in this auction.

That’s it for now. I’ll update this post after I win a couple of more auctions.

Update (8/3)

I haven’t forgotten this post! It just took a while for my roster to develop after grabbing my two studs. The third player I targeted was Cedric Benson (pre-contract w/Bengals). He went for $24 and I pegged his value at almost twice that. I think with Bruce Gradkowski at QB, Cincy will feature Benson early and often, and he should make a great flex/RB3. One downside is that everyone in the league knew that I wasn’t all that interested in RBs in the short term, but that’s a small price to pay.

I’m not sure why, but when I saw Stephen Gostkowski sitting at $1, I decided to throw $2 down and ended up winning him at that price. Normally, I wouldn’t spend more than $1 on a kicker, but he kicks for what will probably be the most prolific offense in the league, so what the hell?

It was time to get down to business and fill out the rest of my starting roster. I needed a QB, three WRs and a TE. (DT could wait since I normally play Defensive Team By Waiver Wire throughout the season.) Rob Gronkowski was nominated and after missing out on Zach Miller ($16, pre-SEA), I jumped all over Gronk. He was a stud down the stretch last season and even with the addition of Chad Ochocinco, I think he’ll be the team’s main red zone receiving threat. I locked him up for $9.

At WR, I tried unsuccessfully to get Hakeem Nicks ($76), Dez Bryant ($40), Vincent Jackson ($54) and Mike Thomas, who went for a bit more ($30) than I was prepared to pay. I ended up targeting Santonio Holmes, Mike Williams (TB) and Stevie Johnson, and got outbid a few times on each. It became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to afford all three, so I focused on Holmes ($41) and Johnson ($45). Williams went for $48.

The reason I eventually gave up on Williams is because there was a certain player that I was targeting as my WR3 — Mario Manningham. With Steve Smith sidelined, Manningham has a great opportunity to have a top 20 year at a 6th/7th round price. I ended up landing him for $31 (after raising my bid a couple of times to fend off other owners) and I’m pleased with that price. To put it in perspective, Anquan Boldin ($37), Chad Ochocinco ($30) Austin Collie ($33) and Mike Thomas ($30) went in the same range. I do think Collie is a nice deal at $33, but otherwise, I am quite pleased with my receiving corps.

On to QB…I had budgeted $15 for my QB1, but was willing to throw caution to the wind and play QBBC if need be. I was on Matt Ryan for a long time and even extended my high bid to $16, but once I was bumped off of him, I moved on to Josh Freeman. I like Ryan a bit more than Freeman, but not much, and I ended up landing the up-and-coming Buccaneer for $14. With Williams, Winslow and a healthy Arrelious Benn to throw to, I think he’ll have a top 10 year.

So my core roster is set: Freeman, Foster, Charles, Benson (flex), Holmes, S. Johnson, Manningham and Gronkowski. Now it’s time to find a backup at each position along with a few cheap upside guys. I don’t worry too much about the bottom of my roster because I’m pretty active on the waiver wire. Last season, I dropped my entire free agency budget ($100 bidding bucks) on Austin Collie. That worked, for a while at least.

I’ll update this post one more time with my final roster. Thanks for reading.

Update (8/12)

Final Roster:

QB: Freeman ($14), Flacco ($7), Fitzpatrick ($2)
RB: Foster ($98), Charles ($95), Benson ($24), B. Scott ($7), B. Jackson ($1), McClain ($1)
WR: S. Johnson ($45), Holmes ($41), Manningham ($31), Ford ($5), Benn ($1)
TE: Gronkowski ($9), Hernandez ($6), Celek ($7)
K: Gostkowski ($2)
DT: Chargers ($2), Lions ($2)

I was happy to land Jacoby Ford for $5. I did go after Ben Tate and Derrick Ward to backup Foster, but missed out on both. I like Fitzpatrick as a third QB at $2 and feel good about my TE situation with both Gronkowski and Hernandez, plus I think Celek could have a bounce back year.

My main goal in the first few weeks is to secure some more quality depth at RB, which means I may big bid on a waiver wire RB who emerges in the first week or two. I plucked Peyton Hillis off the waiver wire in one league last year, but I doubt I’ll be able to repeat that success.

On the whole, I am very happy with this team. My main roster will be Freeman, Foster, Charles, Benson (flex), Johnson, Holmes, Manningham and Gronkowski, with Ford as my first and best reserve.

Pros vs. Joes Draft Recap

The lockout is over! Be sure to check out my Free Agency Primer over at 4for4.com.

I was invited by the nice folks over at Fantasy Mojo to participate in the Pros vs. Joes Draft Challenge. The format is simple, six Pros (in this case, Joe Dyken of Fantasy Football Nerd, Chet Gresham of Razzball, Mike Clay of Pro Football Focus, Roy Daniel of RotoExperts and Gary Davenport of FF Oasis and myself) squared off against six Joes in a 26-round, best ball draft. Time is tight during the season, so I prefer these draft-and-forget leagues when given the choice.

Under this best ball format, each team’s top QB, two RBs, two WRs, one TE, two flex, one kicker and one DT are tallied each week. There are five leagues in total and Joes have won the last two seasons. It’s time for the Pros to take the trophy back!

It’s a PPR league and the only catch is that TEs get 1.5 points per reception, so they went earlier than usual. From a value standpoint, it didn’t change the value of TEs all that much (in my opinion) because it’s still relatively unlikely that a backup TE is going to be ‘starting’ in the flex positions against comparable WRs and RBs.

Anyway, here’s how the draft went. (Click on the grid to see a more readable version.)

As you can see, I was given the #10 spot (grrr!), which makes things a little tough on draft day. After the top 6 RBs (Foster, AP, CJ2K, McCoy, Charles and Ric) are gone, things get dicey. Since I like the WRs available in the 3/4/5 rounds better than the RBs available there, I decided to start the draft going RB/RB if possible.

Darren McFadden is a bit risky given his injury history, but he was the #2 RB last year in terms of points per game production. I was really hoping Matt Forte would slip to me at 2.03, but he went one pick ahead of me, so I had to decide between Steven Jackson, Peyton Hillis, Hakeem Nicks and Calvin Johnson. In my heart of hearts, I like Nicks the most, but my aforementioned disgust with the RBs available in the 3/4/5 area prompted me to grab Jackson, who is basically a toss-up for me when compared to Hillis.

At 3.10, my decision was between V-Jax, Mike Williams (TB) and Ahmad Bradshaw. I nearly took Bradshaw, but the uncertainty of his contract situation scared me off a bit. I decided to go with Jackson since it looks like he’ll be a Charger this year (and in a contract year). At 4.03, there were a number of good WRs still available (D-Jax, Maclin, Holmes, Colston, Collie and Stevie Johnson), so I went with Jahvid Best (over Felix Jones) thinking that one of those WRs (or Felix) would slip to me at 5.10.

Low and behold, Stevie fell to me in the 5th! I was thrilled to get him that late as my WR2 and felt like that I had two top 15 guys anchoring that position. I started to think TE in this round, but Vernon Davis went early on. On the way back, I decided to grab Zach Miller to give myself a solid starter at the position. At 1.5 PPR, he should have a field day. (I did consider going with Big Ben here and targeting Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez on the 7/8 turn, but I wasn’t sure that they would make it. It would have worked.)

It was time to start thinking QB in the 7th, but both guys drafting behind me already had a QB, so I let Josh Freeman and Eli Manning go figuring one would be there on the way back. I was hoping Lynch would fall to me at 7.10, but he went one pick ahead of me. I was unimpressed by the options here, but I went with Torain, who should remain the starter in Washington assuming he can stay healthy. (The plan was to grab Helu later.) Freeman was there at 8.03, which I think is a very solid value that late. I give him the slight nod over Eli.

You’ll see that I abandoned Helu for Leshoure in the 9th. I could have picked Helu in the 10th, but couldn’t pass up Julio Jones that late as my WR3. (I thought about Jordy Nelson here but felt better about ATL’s second receiving option versus GB’s third. At best.) I ended up taking three rookie WRs (counting A.J. Green in the 12th and Greg Little in the 13th). It’s risky, but one or more should pan out in a best ball format. I nabbed Fitzpatrick as my backup QB in the 11th — love that pick.

The TEs were flying off the board and I was left with Heath Miller in the 14th. In retrospect, I probably should have shored up the position with an earlier pick, but H. Miller isn’t a bad backup.

I was targeting the Eagles (who have a very favorable schedule when combined with the Cardinals), but they went earlier in the 15th. New England and Dallas make for a nice DTBC this season.

To round out my roster I took Jason Hill (a sleeper as Jacksonville’s WR2), Jason Campbell (played well late last season), Le’Ron McClain (could go elsewhere and thrive, or take over goal line duties in Baltimore), Tony Scheffler (did I mention TEs were going fast?), Terrell Owens (for a half season in the 22nd, I’ll bite), Devery Henderson (always good for a few big games), Steve Slaton (trade bait for the Texans?) and Rex Grossman (who played well in three starts late last season).

Here’s a look at my complete roster:

QB: Freeman, Fitzpatrick, Campbell, Grossman
RB: DMC, S-Jax, Best, Torain, Leshoure, McClain, Slaton
WR: V-Jax, S. Johnson, Ju. Jones, A.J. Green, Little, Hill, TO, Henderson
TE: Z. Miller, H. Miller, Scheffler
K: Brown, Tynes
DT: NE, DAL

Drafting from the #10 spot, I am very happy with this lineup. Freeman and Fitzy will both have some big games, and my RBs should be a strength all season. My WRs are young, but they also have a lot of upside and I’m banking on three or four ‘starters’ at RB every week anyway. I was happy to get Miller in the 6th at TE, but am weak at that position as a whole.

John Paulsen to join 4for4.com as Contributing Editor

In news that will surely rock the fantasy football world (or more likely cause a small, almost unnoticeable tremor), I’ll be joining 4for4.com Fantasy Football in a part-time capacity for the 2011 season.

I met the site’s Executive Editor, Josh Moore, through Twitter as a result of FantasyPros’ expert accuracy contest. We both finished in the top 5 and started chatting as the season wound down. I could tell he was a good guy, and as the spring and summer wore on, we discussed the possibility that I would do some writing for 4for4, which is a well-designed, subscription-based fantasy football site with a focus on projections, custom scoring tools and other valuable goodies.

At some point in mid-June, Josh and I came to an agreement for the 2011 season, and even started working together on a project of which I’m particularly proud.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce the ADP Draft Planner.

This was an idea that has brewing in the back of my mind for a couple of years now. When planning for a fantasy draft, I thought it would be extremely helpful for owners to know the odds that a particular player (or a group of players) would be available at a certain draft spot. While the idea came easily, actually developing such a tool is not in my wheelhouse. This is where Josh’s excellent programming skills came into play. Within a week, we had a working prototype that pulled in actual draft data from MyFantasyLeague and at that point I knew I was making a good decision in joining the 4for4 team.

Want to know the chances of Stevie Johnson or Jeremy Maclin being there at 4.12? The ADP Draft Planner can tell you.

Wondering if a top 4 TE will slip to 5.10? The ADP Draft Planner can tell you.

Thinking about waiting until 8.08 to draft your QB, and wondering if Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford or Eli Manning will be available? The ADP Draft Planner can tell you.

Right now, the planner is using mostly PPR draft data, but as the draft season really gets going over at MFL, the planner’s scope will expand exponentially. I like that it uses actual availability since there is so much interdependence in player availability. (In other words, if Finley and Clark are taken in the 5th round, it will probably increase the chances that Witten slips to the end of the round since only so many fantasy owners are targeting a TE in that round.)

For an overview of what a subscription to 4for4 gets you, click here. Feel free to poke around — the site is free through July 15.

They are offering a “lockout special” rate of $27.95 for the entire 2011 season. When the lockout ends, the special ends. In the unlikely event that there is no 2011 season, the site promises to rollover dues to 2012.

During the preseason, I will be writing various strategy/player posts for 4for4 while updating the site’s IDP rankings and managing its news desk. As the season gets rolling, I’ll be writing weekly features like Waiver Wire Watch, Defensive Team By Waiver Wire (DTBWW) and RBBC Report. My official rankings will continue to be hosted here on FantasyShrink.com, but I will act as consultant on 4for4’s rankings as well.

Part of my deal with the site is that I get a portion of referral subscriptions, so if you do decide to join, be sure to use this link (or click the 4for4 ad to the right) to get to the site’s subscription page. By doing so, you’ll help to ensure that I can keep writing about fantasy football for a living. The plan is to eventually join the site in a full-time capacity, but for that to happen the subscriber base has to grow enough to support another full-time writer. I’ve decided to go this route to avoid the headache of trying to build a profitable site based solely on ad revenue.

As always, I appreciate your support.

2011 Strength of Schedule: QBs (Pass)

Pass | Receiving | Rush

As promised in Wednesday’s post that examined the dependability of preseason SOS, here is a look at team-by-team QB (pass) SOS for 2011. You’ll notice that there are no numbers associated with each specific matchup. I found that using previous year’s data was pretty undependable, so showing matchup-specific data to a tenth of a decimal point just isn’t appropriate since it gives the illusion of accuracy when there is none.

At this point, I am just going to adopt a five-category system for matchups: very good (++), good (+), mediocre (?), bad (-) and very bad (- -). I’ve found that defenses that fall into any particular category generally won’t stray too far away in the following season. For example, 44% of defenses with a “very bad” two-year average against the pass (i.e. good matchups for QBs) finish “mediocre” to “very good” the following season. That means that 56% finish either “bad” or “very bad” the following year. Those may not seem like great odds, but only 17% finished either “good” or “very good” (becoming bad matchups for QBs), so if you know your QB faces a “very good” matchup in Week 16, you can be reasonably certain (83%) that it will be at least “mediocre” and possibly “good” or “very good.” Got it? Good.

Just so we’d have some summary of a QB’s SOS outlook, I assigned points for each matchup: very good (2), good (1), mediocre (0), bad (-1), very bad (-2). You’ll find the total score for each team (for W1-W16) in the first two columns. The “2010″ column shows the actual SOS from last season so you can compare it to each team’s projected SOS in the “2011″ column. Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have generally favorable schedules, while Tom Brady and Matt Cassel do not. (Though it should be noted that Brady’s schedule is actually more favorable than last season.)

Bottom line: Preseason SOS is volatile, especially for pass/receiving, so be careful not to depend too heavily on it when making roster/draft decisions. It can be used as a tiebraker between two players in the same tier — i.e. Joe Flacco (+4) vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick (-3) — but I wouldn’t bump a player up or down a tier based on his predicted SOS.

Tm20102011VGGBVB1234567891011121314151617
ARI6-11121--?++???-??????+-++
ATL-714142???++---++--+?++--++-?
BAL-443331?+?--++++??++-?+--+-
BUF-5-31232+-++-???--??--+-??++
CAR-563330?-++?-+??+++-?+++?-
CHI-113251+----++???++--+?++-?
CIN-953321+??--++-+++?-+?++??-
CLE-713160--?+-++?++?++--??-?
DAL-323002--??++++??++--???????
DEN1-42262--+--?++-+---??++--+
DET-6-40241?+????+??----?---
GB0-11231---??+??-??++?-+?++
HOU2-12361-?-?--++++?+++----+
IND1084531+++??+--++++--++-+++++
JAX5-12452+------?-++-+++-?++-
KC6-62062--++-?---??++??----?
MIA-603223+++++---??+?--?-?--++--
MIN-6-12251-?+++??-----+?++-??
NE-13-80133?------???--+?-???--
NO053321-?++++--?-??+?+++?+--
NYG4-22022????++--?++??--??--?
NYJ003132?++--++?---++?--?+???
OAK433322?----++++++?-???-+++-
PHI512102?+??--?????++++?--??
PIT-464350-++-+++++?++--+-+??+
SD1113232?+++??--+--??++---++-
SEA-100220???+?+-?-???????
SF-153120++?-??+++???-???++?
STL612140??-?-?-?+++??++-??
TB-403242++?+-?-?-++-+--++?--+
TEN5-13252++-?+?++----+?----++++
WAS1-22003?????----???++--++???

Stay tuned for more SOS for WRs, TEs and RBs.

Breaking down my first experts mock draft

I was recently asked to join a fantasy football experts mock draft (my first of 2011) and you’ll find the results below. (Apologizes for the font size, but there’s really no way around it. Bigger font = wider table, and that’s just not going to fit. So get your magnifying glass out.)

Pro Football FocusLester's LegendsFanatic Fantasy FootballFantasy Footall XtremeFootballguysFantasy ShrinkAll Purpose RotoFFSDraftsharksFantasy Football TraderGO Ahead ScoreJunkyard Jake
1Foster, APeterson, AJohnson, CCharles, JRice, RMcCoy, LJohnson, AMendenhall, RJohnson, CJones-Drew, MWhite, RGore, F
2Jennings, GTurner, MJackson, DRodgers, AFitzgerald, LWallace, MJackson, VWayne, RForte, MMcFadden, DNicks, HJackson, S
3Vick, MBowe, DMathews, RAustin, MBrees, DHillis, PWilliams, MManning, PWelker, WRivers, PBradshaw, AMaclin, J
4Clark, DMarshall, BGreene, SLloyd, BFinley, JGates, ABryant, DBlount, LCollie, AColston, MBest, JMoreno, K
5Jones, FBrady, TRomo, TIngram, MWilliams, DJohnson, SFreeman, JWitten, JAddai, JDavis, VStewart, JRyan, M
6Holmes, SHarvin, PCutler, JSpiller, CRice, SBenson, CGraham, JThomas, DSchaub, MBritt, KRoethlisberger, BCrabtree, M
7Grant, RLynch, MBoldin, AGarcon, PJackson, FGreen, AStarks, JNelson, JDaniels, OWells, CManningham, MKnox, J
8Smith, SOchocinco, CPettigrew, BWilliams, RMoss, SStafford, MManning, EAmendola, DJacobs, BThomas, MGronkowski, RJones, J
9Tolbert, MMiller, ZBess, DLewis, MFord, JGreen-Ellis, BHelu, RLeshoure, MFlacco, JWilliams, MBradford, SCooley, C
10Smith, SCassel, MWard, HBrown, RCarter, DFitzpatrick, RThomas, PAlexander, DMeachem, RBranch, DTorain, RKeller, D
11Bush, MTomlinson, LMoeaki, TMoss, REdwards, BLittle, GWinslow, KSanchez, MWoodhead, DKolb, KMoore, LPalmer, C
12Celek, BSteelers, PTate, BOrton, KGonzalez, TOwens, TVereen, SGoodson, MCook, JJennings, RHernandez, AScott, B
13Tebow, TGresham, JPackers, GBush, RMurray, DHardesty, MGreen, ASanders, EClayton, MJets, NHankerson, LSimpson, J
14Ringer, JSnelling, JJones, TIvory, CHunter, KHeap, TGiants, NRodgers, JChoice, TGerhart, TPowell, BEagles, P
15Ravens, BShipley, JSims-Walker, MCardinals, APatriots, NBears, CBrown, DFalcons, ASaints, NFloyd, MJanikowski, SMcCoy, C
16Henery, AAkers, DBironas, RBarth, CHartley, GBrown, JCrosby, MRackers, NBryant, MKaeding, NLions, DGostkowski, S

This is a PPR league that starts one QB, two RBs, two WRs, one TE, a flex, one K and one DT.

EARLY ROUNDS

I would consider LeSean McCoy as early as #2 or #3, so I was really happy to get him at #6. I think the #5 pick is the sweet spot this year as you’re guaranteed one of my top 5 RBs: Arian Foster, Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles. At #6 or #7, you are at the mercy of the owners ahead of you. Ray Rice isn’t a bad consolation prize, but after he’s gone, I’d start thinking about going with Andre Johnson instead of Maurice Jones-Drew or some other RB. But back to McCoy — he has this year’s #3 adjusted points per game (using 2010′s per game output adjusted for 2011′s strength of schedule).

In the 2nd round, I took my favorite underrated stud Mike Wallace, but if I had to do it over again, I’d probably nab Larry Fitzgerald instead. I’m drafting based on current status and the Cardinals’ QB situation is dreadful. But he’ll likely fare much better even if Arizona upgrades to a mediocre talent like Kevin Kolb or Kyle Orton. We probably should assume that the Cardinals will do something at QB. Still, getting Wallace in the middle to late 2nd round is a nice value given his per target output, Ben Roethlisberger playing a full season and the odds that his looks will increase as Hines Ward continues his decline.

In the 3rd, I was fortunate to have Peyton Hillis fall to 3.06, which prompted me to write this piece about him. I think he’s a terrific value in the 3rd and a pretty nice value in the late 2nd. In the fourth, I considered considered a few WRs (Steve Johnson, Brandon Lloyd and Brandon Marshall), but couldn’t pass on a WR talent at TE in the form of Antonio Gates. I typically take Gates in the late 3rd round in PPR formats, so getting him in the middle of the 4th seems like a steal.

MIDDLE ROUNDS

I was fortunate to have Stevie Johnson fall to me at 5.06. I have him ranked as the #18 WR, so he’s a solid WR2. In taking Johnson, I passed on Ben Roethlisberger and Josh Freeman. The hope was that Big Ben would be there at 6.07, but he was gone. I went with Benson and if I had a do over I would perhaps go with Santonio Holmes or Percy Harvin instead. At this point, I was targeting Eli Manning in the 8th. You’ll notice that everyone picking between 7.07 and 8.06 already had a QB, so I was gambling that no one would take Eli as a backup in the first half of the 8th. All Purpose Roto ended up taking him at 8.06 (doh!), so I instead went with Matthew Stafford who will finish in the top 10 if he can stay healthy. (Big ‘if,’ I know.) I landed A.J. Green in the 7th, which is a gamble, but if he gets WR1 targets, he should have a good chance to finish in the top 35.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis was a lot better last year than people give him credit for, but the Patriots’ draft picks are a little worrisome, so that’s why the Law Firm was available in the 9th. I feel great about him as a RB4. I’d even be comfortable with him at RB3 if I were strong at WR and TE.

I decided to take Ryan Fitzpatrick in the 10th to shore up the QB position. I think he’s an excellent QB2 and would be a solid addition to any QBBC. Plus, he has the 9th-highest adjusted PPG due to a much improved schedule.

LATER ROUNDS

At this point, I felt great about my RB (McCoy, Hillis, Benson, BGE) and TE (Gates) positions, but a little thin at WR with Wallace, S. Johnson and Green. So I took back-to-back WRs in Greg Little (likely the Browns’ WR1) and Terrell Owens, who will no doubt find a landing spot and get WR1/WR2 targets. I thought about Tony Gonzalez in the 12th considering he was 2010′s TE6, but felt it was more important to get some additional upside at WR.

At that point, it was a matter of grabbing a handcuff/insurance for Hillis (Hardesty), a backup for Gates (Heap, who is fringe starter worthy in PPR leagues when healthy), a defense and a kicker.

Here’s a look at the entire roster:

QB – Stafford, Fitzpatrick
RB – McCoy, Hillis, Benson, BGE, Hardesty
WR – Wallace, S. Johnson, A.J. Green, Little, Owens
TE – Gates, Heap
K – Brown
DT – Bears

I am a little shaky at QB, but that’s not a bad position to be shaky. There are always QBs that emerge during the year and if Stafford can’t stay healthy, I can always go QBBC. I’m strong at RB and TE and solid at WR with two bona fide WR1s (for their teams) and three more potential WR1s. Considering that this was an experts draft, I’d say the team turned out quite well.



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