Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How To Put Together A Fantasy Team Part 2

Ok so Sunday night presented me another opportunity to show off my drafting skills. This time it was a 12 team league with a mixture of people from my church and family. There were some players that have played before and several who were first timers. I have no soft spot in my heart for first timers, so i went out and did what i have to do.

Unfortunately I drew the 11th pick in the draft. Although originally I was not happy with the pick, as the first round progressed, I was happy to be right where I was. The first round went as such, Michael Turner, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, DeAngelo Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Slaton, Matt Forte, Randy Moss. These picks dumbfounded me as I managed to get Chris Johnson with the 11th pick in the draft. I'm not in love with him, but for picking 11th, I was ecstatic. After the turn I took Andre Johnson, and was feeling very fortunate to leave round two with the 6th best running back and the second best receiver.

After the long wait, it finally came back to me. A lot of mediocre players had gone, and I knew it was time to win the draft. I did just that. I selected Kevin Smith who could be a key force in Detroit and certainly has the role of feature back locked up. After that I selected Dwayne Bowe. By all accounts, I absolutely hit the jack pot with this one. First of all, he is entering his third year in the league; the year that receivers are known to make a giant leap in their production. He is also losing Tony Gonzalez from his team, meaning there will be more red zone targets heading his way. The Chiefs also added Matt Cassell and a pass happy offensive system, all good signs for Bowe.

From there I was looking for value. I selected Pierre Thomas from the Saints, and Knowshon Moreno, rookie from Denver. I really like Moreno's chances this season. He comes from a balanced team who traditionally runs the ball well. If he stays healthy and plays like he can, I can see him having a Forte like rookie year. As far as Thomas goes, I've not been a huge fan, but he slipped so far, I couldn't help myself.

From there I felt like I was in a bit of no-man's land. There wasn't really anything that I wanted so I decided to fill a need and get my tight end. I chose Owen Daniels because I feel like he may have a nice season with Schaub throwing him in that vertical offense. With my second pick, I grabbed some depth at receiver in Kevin Walter, yet another Texan. He could very well be this years' Anquan Boldin.

Once the pick got back to me, I decided that it was time to go ahead and grab my slipping quarterback. I truly believe that this is the year that Matt Schaub stays healthy and lights it up. Considering I have three of his favorite targets, I may be set. I also went ahead and grabbed my sleeper special of the year, Josh Morgan. He supposedly is the most talented receiver on the 49ers roster, and yes that includes Michael Crabtree. Morgan may disappoint, but I think its more than likely that he will be a top 15 fantasy receiver this year.

At this point in the draft, I usually start looking for guys that have fallen and guys with potential for making an impact this year. I found a slipping Donald Brown in round 11. If he beats out Joseph Addai, which is very possible, I have stumbled upon a starting running back, and if not, he becomes a talented back in a time share; you could do worse. I took Dominick Hixon with my 12th round pick. Considering he is now a number one receiver for Eli Manning, you could definitely see a boost in his production, making him potentially valuable.

With four picks left, I had two bench spots and my defense and kicker slots till to fill. I decided to grab a defense before they were all gone and grabbed the Dolphins defense. Their defense is average, but I really like their return possabilities with Tedd Ginn. After that I took what may turn out to be the value pick of the draft. I selected Shonn Greene, the rookie running back from the Jets. Considering the back in front of him, Thomas Jones, is nearing the end of his career, a young, hungry back up like Greene could prove to be very valuable in case of injury or the team deciding to go with a youth movement.

With two picks left, I contemplated selecting my kicker, but boom or bust receiver Nate Burleson was still on the board so I went ahead and grabbed him. With my final pick I nabbed Cowboys kicker Nick Folk. He has a good leg and plays on a decent but not especially potent offense.

Final Thoughts
So I really like th team that Ive put together here. There is a lot to like in my starting lineup. A nice mix between established greatness and untapped potential. My bench is filled with boom or bust players. Obviously I don't expect all of them to hit, but if half of them live up to my expectations, I could have great production from my starters and plenty of depth and trade bait from my bench. Every year a rookie emerges as a legit fantasy threat, considering I have the three top rookies in the league, there is a good chance that I have one of them on my bench. I like this team that I've put together. It probably not a team that I can run the table with, but I like my chances of bringing home the glory.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

How You Put Together A Fantasy Team

Heres a look from start to finish at how I put together my team that will win the league. I started out at one of the most challenging draft positions, 10th overall, so I had to bring me A game, plan ahead, and stick to my game plan to come out with a respectable team. I did that.

So, by some stroke of luck, I was presented with the opportunity to grab LaDainian Tomlinson with my first selection. He is one year removed from being the top rated running back in the league. He was injured last year, prompting a low rating. I believe that he has one good year left. We'll see.

Having the eleventh pick I was able to take the second best receiver in the game, Andre Johnson. By doing this, I set myself up to be consistent with both positions.

Having to wait for the rest of the guys to pick twice, I was worried that when it came back to my turn there would be nothing left. Fortunately for me, I was able to end up with the exact two guys I wanted in the third and fourth round. Kevin Smith, running back from the Lions, should build on a strong rookie season, and with a more consistent line and passing game, could develop into a star. Marques Colston could be an absolute steal in the fourth round; he is Drew Brees' favorite target and should get 10 to 15 targets a game. Lot to like there.

At this point, I was just trying to fill some bench spots and get some value. Derrick Ward was available in the 5th round, so I decided that I couldn't pass on a feature back this late into the draft. In the next round, I took Knowshon Moreno, the best rookie option this season. If he establishes himself as the starter, there is potential that he is this years' Matt Forte talk, about 6th round gold.

By the time I got to round 7, I decided that I should go ahead and grab my quarterback before someone else did. I grabbed McNabb because he should have some explosive weapons at receiver and the backfield is nice. Could be a big year for Donovan. After McNabb, I took Kevin Walter, who by all accounts should be the Anquan Boldin of Houston, a great secondary option to an explosive primary target. Should be a big year for Mr. Walter.

At that point, i was still looking for value, and when you find a feature back in the 9th round, you've got to take a chance on him, so I grabbed Cedric Benson. He played well at the end of last year and should get better ypc this year with fewer guys in the box with the return of Carson Palmer. I grabbed my Tight End, Greg Olsen, at that point, proving that you can wait and still get good tight end. With Cutler not having any good targets, Olsen should get lots of targets.

In the 11th round, I went ahead and took my sleeper. Its good to wait on taking your guys under the radar, but you need to make sure you get him. I love Josh Morgan this year. Nobody had him on their radar, but I felt like if I waited someone else would've lucked into him. He is supposedly the best receiver in the bay area, thats including Crabtree and Hayward-Bey. Felix Jones was available after that, and with a stroke of luck, or bad luck as the case may be, he could vault into a starting role in Dallas. Marion Barber is a fragile beast, and one bad cut or rough tackle, and I may have found myself a steal.

At this point, I deemed it time to take my backup QB. I looked for a guy with high upside or value. Matt Hasselback is coming off an injury plagued season, if he can return to his old value, he is incredible value here. With my last bench spot, I went upside with Rashard Mendenhall. He may have a big impact or he may not, but with Willie Parker's fragility, he could be a nice addition to my team.

After that I went with my defense and kicker. I picked the panthers for no particular reason. I picked Robbie Gould because though I think the Bear's offense will be better, I can see them stalling in the red zone, making him a nice option.

So thats how I put together my team that will win my league. I went with youth, upside, and value to snake some guys that could potentially win the league for me. My starting lineup is good enough to win games, and if my sleepers come through, it could be dangerous.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fantasy Football Draft Manifesto

When it comes to having a successful fantasy team the draft is the where it all begins. You can win or lose a league based on how you draft. That’s not to say that you can’t win a league if you don’t draft well or are a lock to win with a good draft; but by doing certain things on draft day you can establish yourself as the favorite going into the season.

First things first, we need to go over how the first round should be played out. Let’s be honest, there is a giant gap between the first four picks and everyone else. Regardless of how the order goes the first four people off the board in every league should be Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Matt Forte. Everyone has love for a different one of this group, but if you can get any of the four outside of the top four, go for it. Now if you are stationed later in the first round, things are a little less cut and dry. At five, I would go with one of two players; Chris Johnson of the Titans or LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers. The safer play is Johnson who will get more carries each progressive week as LenDale White gets fatter each progressive week. At past those six guys there are a lot of ways you can go. As far as I’m concerned the best remaining back would be Steven Jackson, although he comes with significant injury risk. After that I would suggest taking the top rated wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald. Now comes a plethora of somewhat impact running backs that could help your team, but are a ways behind the first group in value. DeAngelo Williams, Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, and Steve Slaton are good choices, or you could also go with Andre Johnson or Drew Brees.

Your first round selection dictates your second round selection. If you went running back, you may want to go receiver in the second round, but if you went receiver in the first round, you more than likely will want to grab a top back while you still can, unless you can grab Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss in the second.

The timing of drafting your quarterback, tight end, kicker, and defense is what really can set you up for success. As far as your quarterback goes, you definitely can wait this year. Outside of Brady and Brees, there are no real game breakers that are worth taking high. Everyone ranked from 3 to 15 are virtually going to give you the same stats. You might as well fill holes elsewhere while everyone else gobbles up the mediocre mid round quarterbacks. Around round seven you can start to look for a quarterback. Names that I would keep in mind are Donavon McNabb, Matt Schaub, Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler, or Kyle Orton. Don’t panic if there is a run of quarterback in say the third or fourth round, once everyone takes their quarterback, they will not look for another one until the later rounds. After the top 8 or so are off the board, the rest will slide until you’re ready to take yours. Tight ends are another very interesting question when it comes to timing. In round five or six, you can get a top four tight end. You could snag Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, or Dallas Clark and you would be justified in doing so. However after those four, tight ends are a dime a dozen. You could easily wait until 10 and take an undervalued Kellen Winslow or 14 and take Vinsathe Shiancoe, the most underrated tight end in the league. As far kickers and defenses go, the thing to do is to wait. There is no point in using a high pick on either because there is little difference in value from the top rated defense to the fifteenth ranked defense is very little. Same goes for kickers, so wait and take a kicker with your second to last pick and a defense with your last.

One more way you can take advantage of your less intelligent league mates is through knowing their game. Chances are, if you’re playing on ESPN, the rest of the people in your league will come to the draft with cheat sheets and ranking pulled off of espn.com, and consequently, most play straight off those sheets. You can use this to your advantage. Knowing when guys are going to go is a huge advantage, therefore if you like a guy, you know when you’re going to need to draft him, and if you like a guy better than he is ranked, you know you can wait on him and fill another hole in the mean time.

Now drafting two backs from the same team can prove to be very advantageous, especially ones from teams the rush the football well. These would include Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall from Pittsburgh, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart for Carolina, and Chris Johnson and LenDale White from Tennessee. Often they will be good enough to play together and if by chance there is an injury to one, you now have a feature back with the other.

Another strategy that I use all the time is looking for high impact rookies. Rookies can be well worth taking late over a stagnant veteran. There are a couple of things to look for in a rookie. First of all is opportunity. If there is an established veteran ahead of him, chances are you’re not going to want him, but if there is a chance for playing time, it’s often worth the risk as rookies are usually the first to get an opportunity. Also it’s good to look at the offensive style of the team they play for. If the team throws the balls 50 times a game, chances are their rookie running back is not going to have great value and same with rookie receivers on a conservative running team. Two names that I’ve been enamored with are Knowshon Moreno of Denver and Hakeem Nicks of the Giants. Both come into good teams with balanced offense. Both seem to have a clear chance to perform and both have a lot of potential.

Finally, it is never a bad idea to take guys from good teams. I’m not saying fill your team with guys from the same team, but it’s not a bad idea to have five or six key offensive pieces from the same team, so long as they can move it. The Patriots have had a great offense in the past few years and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a lineup filled with Pats. The same goes for the Bears. Adding Jay Cutler to an already potent rushing attack makes a potential powerhouse offense. If you start with Matt Forte, it might not be a bad idea to surround him with Jay Cutler, Devin Hester, Mushin Muhammad, and Greg Olsen. You might take a hit the week the bears are on bye, but other than that, it could be scary.

My final tip for you is to invest wisely in your backup quarterback. Remember, as long as your starter is respectable, your backup is only going to be playing when your starter is on bye or injured. There is no need for a steady but unspectacular veteran. It’s safe, but not necessarily smart. I like to take impact potential young guys or veterans who are stepping into great situations. Overall, just look for breakout potential, that way if they are busts, you’re only out a couple points one week, but if they hit big, you never know they might have trade value or might be able to replace your starter. Guys in this mold that I like are rookies Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford, emerging young veterans Taveris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels, Matt Schaub, or Eli Manning. Finally, if you are still not convinced he is done; Brett Favre will probably be available late.

Lastly, I don’t care how good you think he can fit in the wildcat with the Patriots; don’t even think about drafting Michael Vick.

Guys that I like better than they’re ranked
Donovan McNabb
Matt Schaub
Jay Cutler
Carson Palmer
Matt Hasselbeck
Kyle Orton
Maurice Jones-Drew
Kevin Smith
Ronnie Brown
Derrick Ward
Jamal Lewis
LeSean McCoy
Jerious Norwood
Tashard Choice
Dwayne Bowe
Marques Colston
Lee Evans
Desean Jackson
Kevin Walter
Anthony Gonzalez
Lance Moore
Donnie Avery
Devin Hester
Domenik Hixon
Greg Olsen
Kellen Winslow
Visathe Shiancoe

Guys that I don’t like as well as they’re ranked
Phillip Rivers
Matt Ryan
David Garrard
Michael Turner
DeAngelo Williams
Thomas Jones
Reggie Bush
Fred Taylor
Steve Smith
Roy E. Williams
Braylon Edwards
Santana Moss
Santonio Holmes
Michael Crabtree
Tony Gonzalez
Chris Cooley