It’s an election year & people couldn’t be more divided. Citizens are throwing punches, tomatoes, & harsh barbs when they should be uniting. Sadly the same is happening in the herky jerky world of 2016 Fantasy Football. Just last year I (& many others) were dictating that you draft WR/WR. I said TE’s were vital to winning. I claimed RB’s were disposable like gerbils. Last year I was right. This year things have changed drastically.
This is my 2016 Fantasy Football Draft Policy Platform.
Picking a fantasy team is like picking candidates in an election. You look at previous performances, health, take scandals into consideration, & look for how you can benefit. This season the whole map is in upheaval. Last year everyone called the NFL a pass happy league, & it was. So much so that WR scoring has jumped significantly & more pass catchers than ever have become fantasy relevant. Tight Ends had a great year & kickers made a difference.
2016 is (figuratively) ten years later from 2015. Previous changes of draft philosophy took years to become taken seriously. Just last year RB ZERO became a legit idea after years of heckling. Picking WR/WR became dogma far too late. This season the tide has shifted so dramatically that our draft plan has to change as well. The fact that WR points are easy to come by makes the other positions more important. RB’s who score have become the rare commodity in fantasy that can’t be equalized. Getting 1 or 2 top RBs will nearly insure a playoff season.
Drafting a Unicorn
- As my gentle hints suggested this year’s championship depends on getting a running back.
- A running back who gets touches on all three downs.
- A running back who gets goal-line carries.
- A running back who can catch footballs & get Yards After Catch (YAC).
- A running back who has never had a serious injury or history of missing games.
I have deemed this running back the Unicorn. A mythical being so rare that just last year we didn’t believe in them. While they are rare, they’re out there my friends & capturing the magic of this beast will bring you fantasy football riches.
The one number I use to justify, this is the number of players that scored over 80 points last season. I compared 2015 scoring of RBs vs. WRs & previous three season’s average.
RBs: 8 /10 WRs: 21/ 9
This graph makes it pretty clear what has happened in one year. Scoring RBs have decreased while scoring WR have more than doubled.
I have mocked about a thousand drafts using ADP averages on Fantasy Pros Mock Simulator and have found going RB/RB to be an excellent way to build a team. Hear is an example of an 18 man team picking 11th. I got Lamar Miller & CJ Anderson with my first two picks, both the Unicorns we’re looking for. I then followed up with Golden Tate & Jordan Matthews, both WR1s. I ran another program that allows for thousands of drafts in a few minutes & gives you the trends based on my projections. Using Lamar Miller as my highest ranked RB I usually got Miller then CJ Anderson or Mark Ingram. The next 2 WRs picked were always good options. Guys like Maclin, Matthews, Cobb, Benjamin, Floyd, & Edelman.
I have mocked & simulated league sizes from 8-22 & the best sizes for this plan were 11 & up. Leagues with less than 10 teams did best with a RB/WR split. The larger the league though the better the results going RB/RB. The most favorable draft position was whatever the middle pick was. If it’s a league of 18 teams, the best picking spot was 9. This worked all the way down to 10 teams.
To Tight End or Not Tight End
One of the major trends of last year was the use or desired use of the Hybrid TE. Every team claimed to have one, even naming their guy Baby Gronk, Gronk Jr, Gronkesque, or Jimmy Graham. We saw some great usage of the TE but the end of the season teams went away from the big guy stalling scoring for most. What seems to have happened is that teams figured out how to cover the TE. A big strong safety or fast LB can stop most teams production to the big man. A few standouts break the mold but in general the hybrid TE hasn’t panned out for fantasy production. The catches are there but the scoring isn’t. Only 3 TE’s broke my mythological 80point threshold in 2015. The crazy part is Delanie Walker led all TEs with 94 catches (22 more than Rob Gronkowski) but didn’t break 80pts. As a position I don’t see it improving this year.
Even worse I expect an upheaval in the King of the Hill.
I did my rankings before my computer projections and ranked Gronk #1 but felt weird about it. I didn’t like that he had Martellus Bennett coming in to take receptions & that Gronk is a walking piece of scar tissue. He has hurt to many vital joints to stay healthy 16 games. Once I got my projection results I was confirmed in the data. My app projected Tyler Eifert as the #1TE and Gronk falling to 4th. Eifert had 20 less catches & only 13 less points Rob Gronkowski.
What does all this mean? It means you’re wasting a draft pick if you get a tight end in the top 5 rounds. The real bottom line is that after mocking with Gronk as your 1st round pick you will see you just can’t make a good team.
QBs -Transition Year 2.0
Last year I professed loudly a changing of the guard in the Quarterback position. The old faithful names like Peyton,Rodgers, Rivers, Ryan, Brees, Roethlisberger, & Cutler would give way to the new stars. Wow was I right. The top 5 were all players that hadn’t been there before (Tom Brady the exception). While I expect 2016 to right the ship of some of these teams I wouldn’t expect much of a shift in the top 10. Last year Veterans were in bad situation while the young guys were setup for success. 2016 is different. Lots of rookies & below average guys in bad spots & veterans sitting pretty. My projections have Rodgers, Eli, & Brees coming back strong only adding more QBs to the top tier.
This year you should wait on a QB unless you can get a top 5 stud. The depth of good qbs goes 20 teams deep. In a small league you can wait till the end & get a Carr or Cousins. Many of my drafts have Brady the 12th picked QB.
Cam Newton had a 2015 season that is remarkable in both fantasy & real football. The only question left to ask is, “Can he repeat it?” The Pros say he has his injured stars back & better supporting cast. The Cons say only Drew Brees has led fantasy scoring in back to back years since at least 2007. Cam also had 60 points in running touchdowns he has to repeat. Only 5 RBs had more than 8 rushing tds last year. Remember how important those 6 point running tds are to him. Can he do that much running without getting hurt … again?
I currently have Cam Newton ranked #4 behind Russell Wilson. I will be adjusting my QB variable & running the projection program again after the 2nd preseason game. Currently I have no one standing out enough to make a 5th round or better pick useful.
Wide Receivers- Ideologically Bankrupt
Since I’ve already explained why I suggest going RB/RB I will instead focus on the WR pool & where the value lies.
More than any other position the WR depends on another player for their production. This means that not only do you have to worry about your WR getting hurt but you have to stress about his QB getting injured or having a bad season. Look at the Broncos when Peyton came in & tore it up. Each WR & TE was scoring big points. Peyton drops off & they’re fantasy irelavant. The people we want to draft are WRs with traditionally healthy QBs that don’t run & have a good pass blocking line.
For example, I ranked AJ Green over Dez Bryant because I like Dalton’s chances of surviving a long season much better than Romo’s. Although Dak Prescott made me bump Dez up, just under AJ.
I currently have 6 WRs that I expect to be top tier and another 9 that are 2nd tier. These are all great WR#1 options.
Remember the graph earlier? It applies here too. More WRs scoring more points makes WR less relevant. Much like QBs are treated now.
I find it hard to not feel like I’m trying to get your vote for the RB/RB ticket. Most of this is pure conjecture as it was last year. Those of you who got Odell Beckham Jr. & Brandon Marshall in the first two rounds can attest that the bet paid off. If you are trying to separate your team from the pack taking a Wide Receiver that is 10 points better than the next one isn’t going to do it. The rarity of the Unicorn RB & the great situation the few are in should translate to you hoisting the trophy.
Wait on a TE & a QB. The top tier should be 8-10 deep with another grouping only 15 points behind.
Remember to factor in all the changes to the roster this year. More than ever before the changes this offseason will affect fantasy points. More teams looking to run & a ton of bounce back.