Gentlemen it's almost here... Another Fantasy Draft!
Like Dave Phuller, I hope to add some insight and help out my fellow Dolphans.
I've been involved with Fantasy Football since 1990. A friend had access to "the internet" and we were introduced to the concept by some random kids dialing in through their modem somewhere in cyber space. We adopted some rules and implemented a bid style draft with a "full" roster. (defensive positions, O-lines, and even punters!!!) I have been involved with some high stakes leagues and even ran my own for a few years. Today, I have retired, for now. But I do "consult" and even draft teams for friends, for a mild % of the winnings of course. :)
As a thank you to my Phinsider Friends, I'll be posting some important tips, advice, strategies and more. If any of you need "real" help, I'd be happy to assist anytime.
The most important piece to Fantasy Football is the draft and your draft is only as good as your WAR ROOM DEPTH CHARTS. Building depth charts is a painstaking process, but once you do it right it's easy maintenance. When building a depth chart you must suspend all previous notions about a player, whether you like or dislike them, whether or not the "experts" like them, etc etc. Each player should have a face value. I use a 5 point system to grade their "overall" value. The next phase is tricky. You must begin to adjust your player's score based on several major variables.
RULE #1: LEAVE THE FANATSY MAGAZINES ON THE SHELF, UNLESS YOU ONLY NEED STATS... Besides most magazines and the select advice they offer are outdated by the time you read them.
Let's consider RBs in this article.
1) History: Are they in their prime> Most RBs have a 4 year stretch of their prime years. The few great ones have 7-10 years runs, but those players are easy to identify. For the average RB, you must downgrade them if they are getting older and/or moving away from their 4 "good years". Be mindful that each year should be based on that RB as a solo starter, If their productivity went down because of splitting time or injuries, and they are returning as the sole starter, you may not want to downgrade them as much. Factor in injuries and age as necessary. For rookies and young players, you can guesstimate but never fall in love with a rookie. Their value is suspect so try and give them moderate value dispite the hype.
RULE #2: Be careful watching PRESEASON GAMES. Every year the preseason showcases some exceptional players who never see the field all season or maybe the rest of their careers. Pay attention in case some of these guys get playing time during the season. But never become smitten with preseason Allstars!
Ronnie Brown: he hasn't had a "real" full year yet, but based on his YPC and obvious potential. I consider Ronnie a 1200yd 8 TD rusher. That's including a possible setback and some shared time with Ricky. With the wildcat, I'll give him some extra credit (but be mindful of your league rules, a RB TD pass may be worthless) In short, I'd give Ronnie a grade of 3.5. (4's are for my elites)
Thomas Jones: IMO, Thomas is only an average/above back. He is at the back end of his prime and though I would label him a 1300yd 8 TD rusher, he's getting a downgrade to 1250 7 TDs. 3.7 rating for TJ.
2) Free Agents> Is your RB on a new team? You must consider the new team and what exactly they're walking into. You'll have to adjust accordingly. If your RB is staying put be mindful of the entire offense and how it improved or worsened with Free Agents. Though you may be adding FA talent, be careful because if the personality doesn't match or the systems are too different, you might have some false hope. Grade sparingly. You can also factor in the improvements of a team's defense. An improved defensive means the offense will likely be running more and hopefully playing from ahead.
Ronnie Brown: You have to like Long yr2, Grove, Smiley, and (possibly) Thomas to improve the running game. Factor in CP in year two, with more weapons, and a young growing defense with some major improvements as well. Ronnie is getting a boast to 3.7- 1250 yds 8tds.
Thomas Jones: The Jets OLine did enough to protect Favre and make some holes for TJ in the first 11 games, but they did not shine as expected. With a rookie QB and marginal weapons you'd expect the Jets to be a run happy team. Though the focus on running may favor TJ, I do see the Jet's running game facing 8-9 men in the box often. TJ downgraded to 3.4 1200 6 TD.
3) Continuity and Coaching: Generally speaking most coaches and systems are on a 3-4 year test run. If your coaches or systems are changing this is not always a good thing in year one. There is an adjustment period and you don't want to get caught gambling on this kind of potential. Smaller impact here, but note worthy.
Ronnie Brown: Sparano take 2. You have to like the upside. No change: 3.7- 1250 yds 8tds.
Thomas Jones: Rex Ryan did bring in some of his boys for the defense, but the offense is about to undergo a makeover. I smell a youth movement in NY. Downgrade: 3.3 1150 6 TD.
4) Love and Happiness: There is something to say about a players happiness and whether or not they are in a contract year ( the last year of contract- audition for free agency). There is some merit to players not playing as "good" once they get a big deal and playing "better" when they're auditioning.
Ronnie Brown: Still hungry to prove he can stay healthy- realizes this will hurt him in Free agency. No change: 3.7- 1250 yds 8tds.
Thomas Jones: Swann song for TJ. I can see him gone next year, unless the Jets make a playoff push. He could push hard enough to spark interest for a contender next year slight upgrade: 3.4 1200 6 TD.
5) Last and Most Important: Strength of Schedule! -And I'm not talking about the garbage you'll see posted all over the place. I mean REAL Strength of Schedule. In my next post, I'll explain this in more detail and expose the real chart climbers and chart droppers. (Basically, I apply my per-player point system to each team, coming up with offensive rush/pass and defensive rush/pass scores. Then I apply to the schedule and whalaaa... you see who has the hard schedule VS the rush and who is facing the weakest passing teams, etc. This is important because the teams' values must be done each year.
The real story will unfold and we'll examine the true and final impact to Ronnie and Thomas. You can see already that Ronnie and Thomas have flip-flopped in value. You could have been in trouble if you went with your first instinct. Without building a proper Strength of Schedule, you may also now be inclined to downgrade Ronnie because of the impending DIFFICULT SCHEDULE, but we'll soon see how true that really is. (Even though we might face tough teams, they could have suspect defenses, like INDY, NO, etc. and if they have weak run defenses, we'll then, the schedule might not be so difficult after all- Stay tuned!!!!)
6) Mind Your League! Values of players can change based on the league. Some leagues value scoring more, or as much as, yards, and some account for receiving as much as rushing. Valuing guys like Bush and Westbrook can get tricky, so pay attention to the rules.
SIDE BAR: To compose my Strength of Schedule, I need to maintain and coordinate ever teams depth charts, usually going 1-2 deep at back up. I even factor in the back-up as a small percentage of the teams values. Rookies even get moderate grades.
Also, once we've graded out the running backs and list them accordingly, we will then begin the second most important thing in composing our war room draft board...and that is making BUCKETS!! You will need to begin lumping players together for the purpose of judging their value. Let's say Pederson, LT, Tuner, and Portis are your first bucket and your second might be S Jackson, Ronnie Brown, Westbrook, Forte, Thomas and Gore. You can now compare who might be around as your draft unfolds. Let's say you have a t10 team draft,... we'll if you want a top tier RB you better not wait till round 3. Also if during the draft you are ending round two and you see a few left in bucket 2, you might want to try your luck for a back in round 3 after all. This method also help to avoid going after favorites and gut feelings and rather forces you to concentrate on playing the field for value.
Stayed tuned for more.. The Real "Strength of Schedule" coming up next--