• Commish Report: The Draft Plan Part 2- WR/TE/K/DST

    2013 Fantasy Football Rankings

    It’s time for the epic conclusion to the official Commish Report fantasy football draft plan. Part I focused on some basic rules to follow going into your draft, as well as strategy for drafting QBs and RBs. Part II will be focusing on WR, TE, K, and DST. I’ll close the article by formalizing a draft plan, and pass along a few final pointers, including the single most important rule when it comes to playing fantasy football. Without further ado, let’s dive back into this thing.

    To me, WR is the most interesting position to draft in fantasy football. With 2, 3, and sometimes 4 WRs playing a significant role on each team, the quality depth is greater at WR than any other position. Therefore, no position can provide as much value late in drafts. But what really interests me is that early in drafts, drafting a top WR can provide nearly equal value to drafting a top RB. If stuck with a draft pick later in round 1, especially in a PPR (point-per-reception) league, instead of taking the traditional approach and grabbing 2 decent to good options at RB, a better approach may be to just grab 2 elite WRs.

    1. Depth- The most important factor to understand when deciding where to draft your WR is where the value can be found. Based on my research, WRs provide value in 2 distinct spots in the draft. The first spot is in the round 2-4 range. The difference between the #11 and #20 WR was 3 PPG. To compare, that’s the same point difference as there was between the #11 and #25 RB. However, while the RB points start to drop off a cliff, the WR points start to stabilize. While there were 29 RBs with at least 10 GP that earned at least 10 points per game last year, there were 49 WRs to do the same. The difference between #21 (Stevie Johnson) and #49 (Josh Gordon) was less than 4 PPG, or not even a point more than the difference between #11-20. Looking deeper, the difference between #21 and #30 was ½ point. That spread was roughly 1 point from #31-40, and roughly 1.5 points from #41-50. Using this data, the best approach is to draft your top 2 WRs early in the draft, then wait at least 6-7 rounds before worrying about your backups.

    2. Size Matters- The average size of the top 10 WRs in fantasy last year was 6-3, 220 lbs. While there’s certainly no need to ignore smallish, speedier players, the fact is that by and large, at WR, size matters much more than speed. Smaller receivers tend to get lost in the end zone, and therefore, on average, don’t receive nearly as many red zone looks as their larger counterparts. A difference of only 5 TDs equates to 300 yards of additional value. When deciding between 2 relatively equal players, size is a good tie-breaker to consider.

    3. Efficiency = Potential- One of my big focuses late in drafts is on efficiency stats. For WR, I’m looking at such stats as yards per target, catch% rates, yards per reception, and yards after catch. A few of the efficiency stars from last year that could see a significant uptick in opportunity this year include T.Y. Hilton, Golden Tate, Chris Givens, and Emmanuel Sanders.

    Nutshell- With the incredible depth at WR, waiting to accumulate depth at the position is wise. However, the position is still somewhat top-heavy, and as I’ve mentioned a number of times already, you want to take few chances with your early picks. In a more shallow league, it’s ok to grab 2 of the top 10-12 WRs early. In a deeper league, WR is the one position where you can take full advantage of the great depth. Make sure you grab a sure-fire #1 WR early, then go all-in on upside in the middle to late rounds.

    Love (outperform expectation)- Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Dwayne Bowe, Pierre Garcon, T.Y. Hilton, Desean Jackson, Chris Givens, Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate, Julian Edelman

    Hate (underperform expectation)- Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Steve Smith, Stevie Johnson, Denarius Moore, Justin Blackmon

    TE- At TE, it’s easy to keep things simple. Jimmy Graham is worth being proactive over. There’s such a difference in both production and reliability between Graham and all other TEs that Graham is actually worth a 1st round pick. While I’m not sure I’d be able to pull the trigger on him in round 1, the second round 2 begins, Graham becomes my #1 target.

    1. Gronk- Yes there is a time and place to draft Rob Gronkowski. And yes, there are actually some positive reports that are coming out of NE saying that he may be ready by week 3. If that’s the case, considering his upside, and the fact that you’d at least be getting something out of a replacement during any game he misses, Gronk remains the #2 TE option on my board. I’d be willing to draft Gronkowski as early as round 5, with the full understanding that drafting a high upside backup would be a good idea. Right around round 5, upside becomes a much bigger priority for me. And nobody at that point in the draft will offer more positional upside than Gronk.

    2. Consistency- After the top couple of guys are off the board, TE becomes a crapshoot when it comes to weekly consistency, especially in non-PPR formats. Of the TEs that started at least 15 games, Only Jimmy Graham managed to score 7 or more points on 10 different occasions in a non-PPR league. 2nd on that list, believe it or not, was Kyle Rudolph with 8.

    3. Wait- There’s no need to rush for a TE. The position is relatively weak this year, but the real value of the position (beyond Graham and possibly Gronk) is late. If Jermichael Finley is available in round 9 or 10, that is potential highway robbery. Same with Fred Davis in round 13. He’s one of my favorite sleepers this year, and he’s barely being taken inside the top 20 at the position, meaning he should be available in round 13 or later. Coby Fleener, Jordan Cameron, and Tyler Eifert are other high-upside picks that will be available late in your draft. Grab 2, and hope 1 pops.

    Nutshell- The point is, with TE, anything less than 7 points may as well be a zero as far as I’m concerned. After Graham and Gronk are off the board, I’m looking entirely at upside. The player with the next greatest upside is Vernon Davis, whom I’m willing to select in round 6 of a 10-12 team league. Jermichael Finley is another player that seems to be having an excellent camp. He has 800 yard/10 TD upside, and for an 8-9th rounder in a 10 to 12 teamer, that’s excellent potential return value. Beyond those 4, I’m waiting until the end of the draft (no earlier than 4-5 rounds prior to the end of your draft), and hoping to grab 2 of Fred Davis, Coby Fleener, or Jordan Cameron.

    Love- Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski*, Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley, Greg Olsen, Fred Davis, Coby Fleener, Jordan Cameron

    Hate- Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, Brandon Pettigrew, Brandon Myers, Owen Daniels, Jermaine Gresham

    FLEX- Many leagues incorporate what’s known as a “flex” position into their starting lineup. A flex position usually allows for you to select a RB/WR/TE each week as an added starter. Some leagues have more than one flex. Some only allow for RB/WR, and some have multiple flex positions with varying eligibility requirements. Some even allow for a “super” flex, which allows you to play a QB in the flex spot. When considering players for your flex spot, keep in mind the depth that was discussed in the WR section. After your traditional starters are off the board (top 20 RB, top 20-30 WR), WR becomes the most valuable position in fantasy football in regard to scoring. While it’s always good to at least have a quality 3rd RB that can fill in for bye weeks, and plug into the flex spot, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the RB will be more valuable than a similarly ranked WR. In fact, it’s likely the opposite. In leagues with flex, I often find that the best value is at WR, and not RB, which is different than conventional wisdom would suggest.

    [B]K[/B}- Never draft a kicker earlier than the next to last round. Preferably, wait until the last round to pull the trigger. Target the top non-rookie on the best offense available when making your selection.

    Love- Phil Dawson, Greg Zuerlein, Robbie Gould, Josh Brown

    Hate- Any kicker on a poor offensive team

    DST- The best way to accumulate points from a team defense/special teams unit is to focus on sacks and turnovers. A team’s defense performance with turnovers typically shows very little consistency from year to year. However, sack rates are usually relatively repeatable. At the top, my favorite options are Chicago and San Francisco. However, grabbing either is not a priority. Wait until no earlier than 3 picks prior to the end of your draft to select your defense. If both options are gone, it’s ok to wait even longer.

    Love- Chicago, Cincinnati, Green Bay, New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, St. Louis, Dallas

    Hate- Seattle (relative, I still have them top 5), Denver, NY Giants

    The Draft Plan-

    Early Rounds- Safety first. As I’ve mentioned frequently over the previous 4000 words, early on, we want cost certainty. Ideally, you want to leave the first 5 rounds of your draft with at least 2 RBs and 2 WRs. You can also leave with either a top QB or TE, but I wouldn’t recommend both. Leaving with 2 will likely put you behind the 8 ball, especially at RB. And if the players you target at QB/TE are gone before you pick, instead of reaching, by all means grab a 3rd WR or a 3rd RB. It’s ok early on to let the draft come to you.

    Mid Rounds- The middle rounds, starting at roughly round 6, is where it’s ok to become more aggressive in looking for high upside talent. These are the rounds that are likely to make or break your team. I like to load up on RB/WR depth, with an eye on RB in the early-middle rounds, and WR in the later-middle rounds. Also, if you’ve not yet taken a QB, it’s wise to leave the middle rounds with at least 1, and possibly 2 options. The longer you wait on QB, the more wise it is to grab a top backup, and play matchups. It is less important to leave the middle rounds with a TE. You certainly can, but keep in mind that while the TE position is weak as a whole, there are a number of high-upside options that should be available late in drafts, even in deeper leagues. As outlined above, my favorite mid-round TE option is Jermichael Finley. If he’s there in round 10, I jump. If not, then I have no problem waiting around a bit longer and continuing to build my depth.

    Late Rounds- The later rounds are filled with the somewhat boring task of choosing your Defense/Special Teams and kicker. Many people have a tendency to essentially throw away the end of their draft. Don’t be one of those people. There is good value to be found. Make sure you have a cheat sheet and updated depth charts, because these rounds are where those tools carry the most value. At the end of the draft, I’m looking at where my depth is weakest, and targeting that position. If I’ve waited on TE, then I’ll make sure to grab 2. If I took an elite QB, I’ll likely wait until the late rounds to grab my backup. The depth at WR has been chronicled, and there will be quality options available to you. At RB, I’m mostly looking at volatile RB situations, including starters that are injury risks and starters that have only a tenuous hold on the gig. I’d also consider players at the end of drafts that have dropped due to injury concerns. Joique Bell, Bilal Powell, LaMichael James, and now Le’Veon Bell are my favorite late round RB options.

    Final Thoughts- At the end of the day, fantasy football is all about having some fun. While I’ve spent two articles giving advice on how to approach your draft, the fact of the matter is, it’s your team. You are the one who is going to be living vicariously through your roster for the next 16+ weeks. So for all the advice I’ve given, this is the most important. Have fun. Build a team you like, and that you want to root for. If you are an Eagles fan, go ahead and avoid all Giants if the thought of rooting for even one player on their team makes you sick to the stomach. Heck, avoid the entire rest of the NFC East if you want. DO grab at least one player from your favorite team so you can follow them every week. I’m not here to tell you to avoid that. It’s your team, build it in the way that allows you to get the most enjoyment out of it.

    All that said, there’s one more hard and fast rule to follow. Make sure you follow through on your team, no matter how well, or how poorly it’s performing throughout the season. Keep your lineup up-to-date with starters that are actually playing. If you commit to a fantasy team, you’re committing to a league. And while one of the most important rules is to build your team in a way that allows you to maximize your enjoyment, the other most important rule is this… Allow others to enjoy your league, and their team, as much as you are. Don’t ruin your league by either accepting or offering an obviously one-sided trade. Don’t dump your roster when it’s clear your team is out of it. Don’t forget to set your lineup each week with players that are not on bye, and are not injured (if at all possible). You’ve committed to a league, you owe it to the integrity of the league to help keep your team, and all teams competitive throughout the season. There’s nothing worse than reaching the mid-way point of a season, and realizing that 3 or 4 teams are delinquent. It ruins the enjoyment for everyone.

    Have fun with your fantasy football season, and allow others to do the same. That's the single most important rule to follow. If this is your first foray into the realm of fantasy, it’s ok. Allow it to suck you in. You are still allowed to follow and root for your favorite team. Just be prepared to follow and understand football at a level that you’ve never experienced before.

    If you would like some advice, feel free to drop me a PM, or post a note in the fantasy football forum, and I'll be happy to throw my 1.7 cents your way. Also, if you are interested in a more detailed cheat sheet than the one I've posted on the site, I have a color-coded spreadsheet (by tiers) that I'd be more than happy to pass along to you. Just send me a PM with your email address, and I'll get it to you as soon as I can.

    Lastly, don't forget to sign up for the "Perfect Challenge" game on nfl.com. Search for "footballpros" (all one word) and type in the password: collinsworth to join.

    Good luck to all!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Editor's Note: Trumpet posted this for publication days ago and I made a mistake and left it as a 'User Article' when I approved the submission, leaving it wasting away where only our most seasoned members could find it. If there was any doubt about my candidacy for dummass of the week, I believe it has now been resolved. Apologies, Trumpet. And nice work as always.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      Editor's Note: Trumpet posted this for publication days ago and I made a mistake and left it as a 'User Article' when I approved the submission, leaving it wasting away where only our most seasoned members could find it. If there was any doubt about my candidacy for dummass of the week, I believe it has now been resolved. Apologies, Trumpet. And nice work as always.
      No worries. Thanks for fixing it!