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Steve Schwarz | Archive | Email |  
Staff Writer

8 Random Pre-Draft Thoughts

Itís finally the time of year that weíve waited all summer for. All the OTAís are over. The undrafted free agent who looked so good without pads, has faded into the background, headed for the taxi squad Ö at best. All the offseason analysis has been done and itís time to draft. I have already completed three drafts and I have three more over the next two weeks. Barring any Week 3 preseason injuries, we should be ready to win leagues.

Iíll add just a few general thoughts for Draft Day.

Melvin Gordon

1) Risk aversion

When you go to your favorite restaurant, do you order the same thing every time even though the entire menu is excellent? Do you vacation in the same location with the same friends every year (Myrtle Beach golf vacations excluded)? You may be risk-averse. You should probably stay away from the following; Andrew Luck (injury), Cam Newton (health), Melvin Gordon (contract), Ezekiel Elliott (contract), Josh Gordon (propensity for the weed) and Antonio Brown (just plain looney). Or at least donít pull the trigger until they fall to a level you are comfortable selecting them.

2) Better a round early than missing out

A number of us learned this lesson in the staff league draft. If the player fits your strategy or you think is ready to blowup, then itís better to take him a round earlier than his ADP would suggest rather than losing him to another owner and wincing every time he produces as you predicted. Patrick Mahomes was taken in the middle of the second round. Chris Godwin was selected at the start of the third. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you are comfortable in your analysis of their value.

3) Flex with QB allowed is really a 2-QB league in disguise

There is absolutely no circumstance in which you should play a running back or wide receiver over a quarterback. Last season 24 quarterbacks averaged 20 points or more. Unless you are in a league with 11 guys from the South Pacific who drafted players from the Australian Rules Football League by mistake and let you pick Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara, you arenít going to have a back or wideout averaging 20 FPts/G as a flex. The charts below show that no wide receiver averaged more than 17 points over the past five years and very few running backs hit the mark. The more likely result is you will be using a player who averages about nine points.

FFToday Standard Scoring

QB 1-12 5-Yr Avg 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
High 28.6 30.9 28.6 27.6 28.5 27.6
Avg 24.0 25.0 23.2 23.7 24.4 23.5
Low 21.8 22.6 20.9 21.3 22.4 21.8
RB 1-24 5-Yr Avg 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
High 20.0 22.1 21.6 20.7 16.8 19.0
Avg 13.3 14.0 12.9 13.5 12.4 13.5
Low 9.8 10.3 9.1 10.3 10.0 9.5
WR 1-24 5-Yr Avg 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
High 15.2 15.1 14.8 13.4 15.4 17.2
Avg 11.2 11.8 10.1 10.3 12.1 11.7
Low 9.0 9.3 8.3 8.5 9.9 9.2

4) Don’t self-complicate

We have been studying for months, but donít bring more than a couple of pages of information to the draft. Flipping through multiple pages or magazines (god forbid as they were printed more than three months ago) as your allotted time runs down isnít good strategy. Having a simple list of players by position, with notes on particular favorites, will greatly ease your decision-making process and ability to spot mistakes by other owners.

5) Donít be fooled by preseason

I say this every year, but preseason is not an indication of how the regular season will go. Starters are sitting, backups are playing against backups or guys who wonít be in the league by early September. Below is a list of the preseason league-leaders over the past four years. None of these players were fantasy-worthy. The best was Robby Anderson who posted 42-587-2 in 2016. Your preseason attention should only be to the injury lists.

 Preseason Stats
Year Passing Yds Rushing Yds Receiving Yds
2018 Tyler Bray 652 Chris Warren 292 Javon Wims 227
2017 Matt Simms 613 Corey Grant 191 Dede Westbrook 288
2016 Matt Barkley 630 Mack Brown 227 Robby Anderson 264
2015 Landry Jones 724 Zach Zenner 183 Rashad Ross 266

6) Overestimating rookies is a common mistake

Randy Moss (69 - 1,313 yards - 17 TDs), Odell Beckham (91 - 1,305 - 12), Barkley (252 touches Ė 2,028 combined yards Ė 15 TDs) and Eric Dickerson (390 rushes, 1,808 yards - 18) are the exceptions, not the rule. Most times a rookie will be slowly worked into the lineup as the head coach gains confidence in the first-year player's abilities to run the right play, not fumble and in the case of running backs - protect their quarterback from blitzes. Kyler Murray is getting a lot of attention as are running backs Josh Jacobs and David Montgomery, but donít be fooled by media hype. Murray has a disaster of an OL in front of him and I make it 50/50 he survives 16 games. Jacobs and Montgomery will be first- and second-down backs, but each team has a good receiving back thereby limiting production in 2019.

7) Suggest a split season

Try to convince your league to play two eight-week seasons. There are a couple of nice benefits. First, if Draft Day is great, then two is better. Second, it protects an early-season injury from destroying your entire season. At worst, you are out of contention for two months and then you get to compete again starting in Week 9. Season saved. In 2008 Tom Brady was hurt in the first quarter of the first game and his season was over. In 1984, star running back Curt Warner was a top-five pick whose season ended on his 10th carry of the season. I remember the Warner injury, because I drafted him. How would you feel selecting Barkley with the first overall pick and losing him for the year? Handcuffs only help so much.

8) Remember the old ďRule of 370?Ē

It stated that running backs who carried the ball 370 times or more suffered dramatic drops in production the following season. These days, in the era of the pass, backs donít run the ball that often, but they still touch the ball almost as frequently.

In 2016 three backs reached 360 touches; David Johnson (413), Ezekiel Elliott (362) and DeMarco Murray (360). Johnson played one game, Elliott and Murray averaged career-lows 4.1 ypc and 3.6 ypc, respectively. In 2017, four backs touched the ball 360 times or more; LeíVeon Bell (427), Todd Gurley (366), LeSean McCoy (364) and Melvin Gordon (363). None of the three who played lived up to previous seasons. Gurley and Gordon were injured late in the season and McCoy produced the worst average per carry of his career (3.2).

In 2018, two backs touched the ball more than 360 times; Elliott (399) and Barkley (382). I think Barkley is young enough, and strong enough, to overcome the trend, Elliott, however, without a training camp, takes a big hit on my draft board even if he shows up to play in Week 1.

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