Crank Score Projections: Part 2
The “Gut Feeling” is often synonymous with a sense
of desperation resulting from a lack of preparation. The Gut Check
is a huge proponent of studying the numbers, but there’s
a point where one can place too much emphasis on the wrong information.
This can result in the undervaluing or overlooking a player’s
potential. Therefore, The Weekly Gut Check is devoted to examining
the frame of reference behind certain number-driven guidelines
that fantasy football owners use to make decisions.
Although The Weekly Gut Check doesn’t claim to be psychic,
he does believe that he can dispel certain numbers biases and
help you make the best choices for your team. We’ll keep
a running tally of The Weekly Gut Check’s insights. This
way you can gauge his views as something to seriously consider,
or at least seriously consider running the opposite way as fast
as you can!
Here are my first Crank Score Projections as training camp begins.
The projections are for a 12-team league and a starting lineup of
1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, and 1 TE lineup with FFToday
default scoring. In order to remain conscious of space and formatting,
I will only list the top 32 QBs, RBs, and TEs and the top 50 WRs.
| Tier Color Codes
|Primary Back ups
|Secondary Back ups
The tier color codes are my way of grouping the players by specific
ranges in Crank Score. Once can see the codes have some mathematical
logic, but it is still a subjective delineation on my part. One
could argue that there are only two elite backs or there is seven
to twelve elite receivers depending on how one looks at the impact
of the Crank Score attributed to the positions. Again, this is
a limited list of players. There are far more flier/waiver wire
picks for my personal draft list.
For this week’s article, I’ll explain my tiers and
update the rankings throughout August.
The Elite Tier
When examining the scores across positions, it’s pretty
clear the Crank Score favors runners and receivers as early round
selections. There are two elite quarterbacks, but their corresponding
Crank Scores are equivalent to an elite tight end, the fifth or
sixth back on the list, and the eighteenth receiver. One might
argue it’s more important to get one of those elite quarterbacks
and tight ends early, but will this strategy create a better starting
lineup than having a four high-tier, players that are starting
RBs and WRs? If I’m a conservative drafter, I would rather
have the backs and receivers with the highest possible Crank Scores
early and hope a QB and TE falls to me in rounds five to seven
that is just below the elite tier. With a slew of quality tight
ends playing right now, I’m not overly concerned with targeting
a tight end in rounds four to six. Although quite few of my mock
drafts have been subjected to runs at this position, I would rather
have three strong backs and three strong receivers with the starting
lineup these projections are for. There are no surprises in the
elite tiers at this point in camp. If Peyton Manning cannot hit
the practice field by the last preseason game, then I might drop
him a notch. At the same time, Marques Colston’s swollen
knee and Terry Glenn’s departure don’t give me a lot
of confidence to move Drew Brees or Tony Romo any further.
The Primary Starters
If playing it safe, Brees, Romo, and Roethlisberger are three
quarterbacks I would pick ahead of most tight ends and after I
get two runners. But I would make sure I have at least two receivers
before making this move. If I can’t get two runners in either
the elite or primary starter tiers, then I would wait until the
fourth round to get a decent secondary starter. Here are the optimal
setups I believe teams should have as they head into round four
based its draft position.
- Picks 1-4: one elite RB
and two primary tier WRs
- Picks 5-8: one elite WR,
one primary RB, and one primary WR; one primary RB and two primary
tier WRs; or 1 primary tier RB, 1 primary tier WR, and 1 secondary
- Picks 9-12: one elite WR,
1 primary RB, and 1 primary WR or two primary RBs and one primary
This is the safe route construct one-third of a starting line
up. Some people would recommend nabbing one of the elite QBs,
but unless it’s a record-breaking season by that quarterback
the difference in scoring among signal callers doesn’t justify
picking one early in most seasons. It’s in the middle rounds
(five to eight) you will have the easiest time to get the best
value when it comes to a quarterback or tight end. Otherwise,
if you pick an elite QB or TE, you wind up without a strong receiving
corps, which makes up a third of your line up. Think about where
your scoring comes from when making selections.
Although the percentages don’t reflect exactly the amount
of points coming from each position, it does provide a visual cue
about percentage each position represents in your lineup. Last year
the difference between the top starting QB and the last-ranked (12th)
starter was 173.1 fantasy points. The difference between the top
RB and last ranked (24th) RB was 167.1 fantasy points. Receiver?
180 fantasy points. For most seasons, the gap between the top and
bottom ranked starters is closer to 100 points. If you believe Tom
Brady has another record-breaking season in him, then you go after
him at the end of the first or early second round. If you believe
he’ll fall back to the realm of most elite starters (the 100
point gap rather than the 173 point gap) then you target backs and
The Secondary Starters
Based on the projected Crank Scores, you should be able to estimate
the best places to draft secondary starters by position. There
really isn’t a secondary starter at QB or TE in the same
way there is one for RB or WR because you can only start one QB
or TE in this example. The secondary starter at these positions
is really a projected “low-end” performer. The range
of the Crank Scores for the secondary starters at QB dictates
you would draft them at a point after you took three or four runners,
three or four receivers, and one of the top five to six tight
ends. This means you would grab a secondary starter at QB somewhere
between rounds seven and ten. Since the gap is scoring between
the best and worst starting QB is typically smaller than other
positions, I would much rather pick two quarterbacks in the later
rounds if landed excellent players at RB and WR.
Notice how the receivers in the secondary tier have higher Crank
Scores than runners in the same tier? The scores are higher for
receivers, because of the lineup requirement for the position
creates a higher score although the amount of elite-#1-#2-subpar
games are in the same range for the two positions. I would place
a higher priority on getting a secondary tier receiver if I have
two primary backs or an elite and primary back. If one of my starters
were a secondary back then I would try to get a secondary back
as additional depth.
These would typically be the third receiver or in a flex lineup
a third RB. In the lineup example I am using, you can probably
grab a quality third receiver in rounds seven through eleven if
you don’t already have one, especially if you want to focus
on depth at running back.
Primary Backups And Secondary Backups
The most valuable primary and secondary backups are runners because
they are often potentially elite players waiting for an opportunity
to come to them. The quarterbacks, receivers, and tight ends in
this tier are already starting for their NFL team, but aren’t
producing at a high fantasy level. In fact some of them are not
even drafted. It’s common sense for most fantasy owners
to prize the runners more. This often applies to secondary back
ups. Maurice Jones Drew would have been seen as a secondary backup
during his rookie year, but finished the year as a primary starter.
The last third of a traditional fantasy draft is probably the
place a fantasy owner selects his talent based more on pure ability
and less on situation and stats. Last year, Selvin
Young would have been a flier or waiver wire pick. The same
can be said for Derek
Grant, or Donald
Lee. These are players owners learn about through college
football or draft evaluation publications. They can make your
draft. For me, the key is selecting players with great talent,
but need an opportunity to do something with it. For example,
was a great college talent but I donít see him as a great RB talent.
Iím not going to make it a priority to draft him at the end of
a fantasy draft because I donít think he would produce very well.
On the other hand, I would draft Ray
Booker, and Darren
Sproles because I think they have the skills to be a productive
fantasy runner if given the chance. If I were drafting a couple
of weeks ago, I might take a chance on Brett
Favre as a flier. Kurt
Warner may qualify as this type of player if Matt
Leinart indeed wins the starting job.
Thoughts About The Rankings
Adrian Peterson Over LaDainian Tomlinson:
I’m still vacillating between the two. Tomlinson’s
cumulative carries and injury naturally shift my focus to Peterson
as a player on the rise, but I vacillate back to Tomlinson when
I think about all the backs that experience excellent rookie seasons,
predict greatness for themselves, and stumble back to earth: Corey
Dillon, George Rogers, Curt Warner, Jerome Bettis, and Rueben
Mayes. But when you think about it, only George Rogers had huge
expectations as a rookie. On the other hand, when you look at
the list of Eric Dickerson, Ottis Anderson, Clinton Portis, Curtis
Martin, Barry Sanders, Earl Campbell, Eddie George, and Jamal
Lewis, the expectations were far higher for them as rookies and
they did as well or better as sophomores. What keeps the arrow
leaning towards Peterson is that fact that none of these backs
I mentioned other than Dickerson (Jim Everett) and Martin (Drew
Bledsoe) had strong quarterback play. It kind of defeats the whole
Tarvaris Jackson doesn’t help Peterson’s fantasy numbers
theory, doesn’t it? Tomlinson seems like the safer play
with his proven production, but Peterson’s line is excellent
and the Vikings defense is on the rise. If I’m a fantasy
owner looking for a tandem that will keep me competitive, I like
Peterson-Taylor more than Tomlinson-Hester. Even if Darren Sproles
earns a real shot – and he should – I’d rather
have the Vikings duo as my first pick and handcuff.
Marion Barber In The Top Five:
Barber had nine games with fewer than 15 carries in 2007. Most
of these games Barber logged eight or less – and he still
had 973 yards and 10 scores on the ground. With Dallas’
strong passing game that includes a great receiver and nearly
great tight end, Barber will finally get his chance. Remember,
Julius Jones was a Jerry Jones favorite and Barber was the mid-round
bargain with Parcells’ stamp of approval. Barber has had
to play his way into Jones’ good graces. This should be
a coronation of a season for the Barbarian.
Brandon Marshall Not In The Top Fifteen:
He’s not in shape and likely expecting some type of suspension.
He’s simply not showing any form of maturity in this profession.
He has time to turn around his act, but it looks like it’s
going to take at least this year. He’s dropping down my
rankings at the rate Seattle Seahawk receivers used to drop footballs.
A healthy McNabb equals a primary starter
Donovan McNabb A Top Ten QB:
McNabb’s 2007 was his first year back from an ACL tear and
he also dealt with some shoulder problems that he said weren’t
quite right until the off-season. Why is it that fantasy owners
gave Deuce McAllister, Jamal Lewis, Frank Gore, Edgerrin James,
and several other backs and receivers the benefit of the doubt
that they would regain enough of their skills to be quality starters,
but won’t do the same for a quarterback who uses his legs
to create opportunities on the perimeter of the defense? At this
stage of his career, McNabb hasn’t been beat up like McNair.
I think the Eagles are going to return to prominence this year.
Lorenzo Booker was an excellent acquisition to provide quality
depth for Brian Westbrook and I like the combo of L.J. Smith and
former Chief TE/FB Kris Wilson as in-line receivers. Kevin Curtis
wasn’t bad at all in 2007 when you consider it was his first
full season as a starter and in an offense different than the
Rams scheme. I think Curtis still has upside and when teamed with
Reggie Brown and DeSean Jackson, McNabb is fully capable of producing
as a fantasy starter worth drafting.
Dogged Davis Supporter: Vernon
Davis is a fantasy explosion waiting to happen. I rate him eighth
among tight ends because when you look at Martz’s plan for
him and his physical talent; why not take a chance on him after
the name brand-proven tight ends are off the board? If he busts,
it’s not like you would have kicked yourself for not picking
any of the guys that went before him – because they weren’t
there to be had. If he succeeds, you drafted a major steal with
the skills to perform as a top 20, fantasy WR.
NYJ TE? No, I didn’t
pick Chris Baker or Dustin Keller, but I believe they will produce
around the same amount regardless of who starts. The reason is
the quarterback situation.
Next week: I’ll discuss
basic draft strategies and give updates (if any) to my Crank Score