Most of us have 90 seconds or less in a live draft to make a decision,
so while some owners will have studied every angle and prepared
for every eventuality, they can still be left in a tie-break situation.
Should I go with X over Y or vice versa?
I try to treat fantasy drafting as much as the real thing, forming
opinions on a player and putting them on a value chart long before
the draft so I have time to review it and make any necessary manipulations
to my rankings and/or projections.
While many owners will thumb through a fantasy football publication
to see what player looks good to them when it is their time to
pick, I prefer having a few sheets of paper in front of me with
as much quick-reference, easy-to-understand material as possible.
In other words, I’d just as soon not have last year’s
numbers (or someone else’s opinion of a player) in front
For everyone that read part 1 and
part 2 of this PSA “course”,
each reader by now is aware that I have to make a reference to
a player’s stat line from last season. And for those that
are wondering, I did the utterly unthinkable this season and did
not so much as look at any site or magazine’s projection
for a single player. Even before I knew I would do this article
trilogy, I wanted to make sure my opinion was as unbiased as possible,
so I had no one to blame (or credit) but myself.
Believe me, I hated it when, at the end of the year earlier in
my “fantasy career”, I realized that I felt good about
a player going into the preseason and through the preseason, but
didn’t draft him because some “expert” said
I should draft him in the fifth round and the player ended up
going in the third or fourth round every time.
So, without further ado, let’s complete the journey we
started by breaking each player’s (and team’s) individual
After I have completed the process of projecting each player’s
weekly numbers division-by-division, I then copy and paste every
projected player from each division onto a separate spreadsheet.
Let’s take a look at the QBs first.
A few reference points to consider:
(1) Notice I have “QB”
over to the left of the name. I don’t do that for fear that
I’ll forget what position these players play, but for sorting
purposes. (We’ll revisit that in Step 2.)
(2) The overall fantasy points
expected over a 15-game schedule,
(3) Projected fantasy points/game
during Weeks 15 & 16 (playoff weeks for most owners),
(4) Expected missed games
(much more prevalent for RBs, which we’ll delve into in
(5) The fantasy points/game
Note that I did not carry over the weekly numbers from the projections;
I’m only concerned with matchups.
Now, for the RBs.
Even if I am less than crazy about Steven Jackson’s holdout,
it gives me the opportunity to present another area to cover.
As I have stated a time or two already, the goal is to have a
mass of quality information and a limited number of places that
a person needs to look for it. Obviously, Jackson is a pretty
high-profile RB, so for any fantasy owners in a competitive league,
they may not care to notate his holdout – and that’s
perfectly fine. I, on the other hand, like to assume that –
come draft day – I will remember nothing, so I’ll
leave it in there just to remind me. This becomes more important
when there are multiple holdouts – rookie or veteran –
that extend into late August.
Jackson, as Larry Johnson did before him last season, has
missed enough camp to the point where he will likely fall greatly
in my rankings over the next few days.
Let me backtrack now to the “participation” issue,
or projected missed games. I certainly am no visionary and cannot
predict when or how often a player may get hurt. However, we can
check a player’s history for getting dinged and hold that
against him in the final evaluation, can’t we? (It happens
every year with Fred Taylor.) I’ll admit, this is another
new section I’ve added this year, but for now, it will only
serve as a tiebreaker if I am torn between two backs.
To complete this part of the exercise, let’s include the
top WRs and TEs.
Unlike last year, I have decided to lump in the TEs with the
WRs. For years, I’ve stated how the top TEs can perform
at #2 WR levels, so I figured why separate the two now? In years
past, it was necessary to separate the two (and one day, it may
need to be done again) but with the plethora of TEs challenging
for starter status in fantasy leagues, the point difference recognized
from owning the top TE to the #12 overall TE has lessened dramatically.
I suppose the most eye-popping name of this bunch has to be Coles.
And given he has little to no time to bond with Brett Favre this
preseason, I may need to re-evaluate at some point. That said,
with the cannon Favre has plus the increased protection he will
receive from his offensive line should be enough to give a player
with the speed of Coles the time to outrun just about any corner.
Someone else who surprises me in terms of how highly he is ranked
is Burress. We all know what Burress can do when he is healthy,
which is why he is as high as he is. However, I assume “best-case
scenario” with injury risks, which is a big reason why I
wanted to include the INJ column as just another reminder to knock
a player down a couple of spots. In my mind, Burress really is
a low-end #1, high-end #2 WR for fantasy purposes.
Look, every “system” needs to have a bit of flexibility
put into it. But, once again, what this allows me to do is ask
myself questions like, “Can my team live with my #2 WR possibly
getting shut down near the end of the season?” (Santonio
Holmes) or “Do I really want to place my season squarely
on Burress’ shoulders?” If the answer is yes and I
like the upside of Holmes and/or Burress, I make the pick. If
not, I go in another direction.
Also notice that I keep referencing “late in the season”
or “playoff week matchups”. I’m not quite sure
it is the most important tiebreaker between two similar players,
but it’s probably not much lower than #2. Ask any owner
that had Brees, Brady or Randy Moss in Week 16 going up against
Kurt Warner and/or Boldin. People, I cannot emphasize enough…if
it were all about talent, the teams with the top 3-4 picks in
most drafts would also end up being the teams that make the playoffs
most of the time.
Once I’ve grouped all the players and the positions, it’s
time to sort the entire population according to position and then
to overall points. (On another page, I may sort the entire player
pool just by overall points just for fun.)
At this point, this is where all the hard work becomes fun for
me. Earlier, I referenced that I try to mimic the real thing when
I prepare for a fantasy draft. However, unlike the player personnel
members in reality, my “draft board” isn’t set
up based on talent and potential so much as a player’s likelihood
to achieve a certain performance level each week. (Remember, in
redraft leagues, I’m not looking for anything more long-term
than Week 16.) Thus, I set per-game averages for each position
in each round. Obviously, I expect a QB drafted in the first round
to outscore one selected in the second round, just as I prefer
a RB or WR to do the same.
Thus, here is my current fantasy point per game (fppg) chart
that I move up and down based on my results.
| Positional FPts/G
A couple of points to make right off the bat.
1) If I am going to draft a QB in the first round, I am going
to need him to carry my team in a big way, which is why such a
high point total should be expected from a first-round QB. Last
year, Brady scored an average of nearly 33 fppg in Weeks 1-14
but scored a combined 24 for various reasons in Weeks 15 &
16. (Just ask any NBA team what happens when their leading scorer
struggles, other teammates must pick him up or the team may get
blown out.) The 21-fppg falloff from fantasy regular season to
playoffs likely cost many Brady owners a shot at the league title
while Warner and Boldin likely gave their owners a nice Christmas
2) Call me close-minded on this one, but since I feel it is unrealistic
to expect a TE to post Randy Moss or Terrell Owens’ type
of numbers, I do not consider one before the fourth round (and
not often until the sixth or seventh round) because the dropoff
between Witten and, say, Chris Cooley is not enough that I should
pass up on a chance to land a top-end #2 RB, low-end #1 or high-end
#2 WR or a #1 QB like Brees or Palmer that I feel may take fantasy
by storm this season.
Many “experts” have cited the use of tiering to keep
an owner aware of when the value at one position may be coming
to an end. I am no different, except in the way I separate each
position by “round value” instead of a category such
as “franchise RB” or “fringe #2 RB starter”.
I’m not sure the way an owner tiers his/her players is nearly
as important as the fact that he/she actually tiers his/her players.
As anyone can see, I’m not all that concerned with my chart
matching up with anyone else’s. Yes, finding out a player’s
ADP is very important part in getting to know when to expect certain
players to go, but if I really feel good about Thomas Jones and
Larry Johnson leading my backfield this season (and they both
live up to my expectations), isn’t it more important that
I land both of them a round earlier as opposed to not at all?
“Reaches” only truly become that when they don’t
perform to the level of the slot they were drafted in. That said,
I’m not suggesting that an owner should draft Johnson in
the first round of their draft if they are pretty certain that
most or if not all of his/her league-mates are completely sold
on the notion LJ will not produce.
And we’ve reached the final step…the “big board”.
For the sake of time and space, I’ll just include the top
Note from before that even though Burress was my fifth-ranked
WR, he doesn’t even appear in the top 25 (he’s at
#30 right now).
Once again, just because I believe in this system doesn’t
mean my ranking and drafting processes are rigid and that I must
conform to them. Just like the real thing, drafting is about finding
as much relevant information as possible on a player, making an
educated guess about how well that player can consistently perform
throughout the season and then following through on draft day.
Because I have all my information on different tabs within the
same spreadsheet, I do not carry over the matchup information
onto this page (although I am still considering it). I wish I
could tell everyone that the “big board” was the only
sheet I used on draft day, but the reality is that I often go
back and forth this page and my tiering page, all the while keeping
track of the players and positions that each of the other league
owners are drafting. (If it sounds like a lot, it may very well
be…just another reason that doing mock drafts regularly
are a great idea, that is, to practice strategy AND execution.
This draft-day practice of mine is really not as difficult as
Why do I do all this? Much as players progress the most throughout
the offseason, the spring and summer is the time I do my “power
lifting”. In other words, I too want to improve on last
season. I have little interest in leaving a draft room knowing
I did not do everything I could have done to build a championship
team. And isn’t that what this is all about?