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Recent Blogs


Fantasy Football Draft Weekend Prep

You have a fantasy football draft this weekend, don’t you? We’re entering the final draft weekend before the start of the regular season so, instead posting my reactions to the ridiculous Adrian Peterson/Cowboys talker as I briefly considered doing, I decided to make better use of my time.
Image courtesy of Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
I chose to be of more service to my fellow man -- by emptying out my fantasy football draft prep notebook.

No need to thank me. It’s just what I do.

Your 2014 Draft Plan
Here’s a quick and dirty plan tailored specifically for 2014. And it all depends on where you are slated to draft in round one.

If you have one of the first five picks in round one…
In standard-sized leagues where the scoring is anything approaching “normal,” including PPR leagues, you will want to take a running back with one of those first five picks. Take one of the big five: Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte or Eddie Lacy.

Or if you get the fifth pick and Charles is left and you’re like me and are leery as heck of him… try to trade down. Bell-cow running backs are a dying breed in the NFL and therefore extremely valuable in fantasy football right now. After these five are off the board, the question marks and warts on the running backs only become more and more apparent as you go down your cheat sheet. Having one elite running back will be a big advantage all season long.

If you have pick No. 6 or later in round one…
Assuming those first five running backs are gone – and they will be in 90 percent of the leagues – you have options once you get to that sixth position. These options include taking one of the elite level wide receivers such as Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas, taking Peyton Manning or selecting Jimmy Graham. Or you could take the sixth or seventh best running back, but where’s the value in that? Manning and Graham are a clear notch above the others at their respective positions, making them extra valuable.

Just know that if you select Graham or one of the top wideouts in rounds one and two (e.g. Thomas followed by Dez Bryant in the second round) you are effectively punting running backs. Once you get to round three the best you’ll be able to hope for are the likes of Alfred Morris or Zac Stacy in your backfield. Hardly awful, but they won’t provide a great deal of confidence when filling out your lineup from week to week.

Keeping it simple
The safest plan for fantasy owners this season, and it’s one that I highly recommend for those who are maybe not as experienced in fantasy football, is to come away from rounds one and two with a very good running back and very good wide receiver. Selecting Manning or Graham can make things tricky unless you really know where to find sleepers and lottery ticket type players later in the draft. Grab the likes of Calvin Johnson and Montee Ball in the first two rounds and then build off that sturdy foundation.

There’s incredible depth at quarterback this year. You can let someone else take Manning in the late first or early second round because you’ll find value picks like Tom Brady, Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan six to eight rounds later.

Quick auction tips
If your league does things the right way and uses an auction rather than a draft to distribute players, congratulations. Here are a few easy tricks you can use to do well in your auction.
  • Keep track of every team’s remaining budget and max bids. A white board and/or spread sheet works best for this. Knowledge is power. You need to know how much money the guy you’re bidding against has left in his coffers.
  • Nominate players for bid that you don’t want. This is especially important early on in the proceedings as a method of draining the pocketbooks of other owners. It’s always fun spending other peoples’ money for them. However, it should be pointed out that this works best when the player in question that you don’t want is popular enough to draw active bidding (i.e. a big-name player). For example, I am very leery of Jamaal Charles this season so I might throw his name out right away and get someone to blow their wad on him.
  • Bid up other owners, whether you want the player being bid upon or not, as another means of spending their money. This must be done selectively and carefully so as not to get stuck with players you don’t want. You’ll get burnt occasionally, but more often than not it’s very effective – not to mention enjoyable.
  • Above all else, look for values and don’t be married to obtaining specific players. It’s okay to maybe overspend for one player that you can’t live without, but do this more than once in an auction and you’ll be down to $1 players before your third beer. Group players into tiers on your cheat sheet and, as the auction plays out, go after players within that tier who are going at below market value rather than above. You know, go thrift shopping. Pop some tags or whatever they call it.
My favorite sleepers this season
Undervalued gems

QB Jay Cutler, Tony Romo
RB Rashad Jennings, Joique Bell, Shane Vereen
WR Michael Floyd, Terrance Williams, Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Baldwin
TE Dwayne Allen, Charles Clay

Biggest potential busts
The players who have the farthest to fall and show signs (to me at least) of doing just that.

QB Cam Newton
RB Jamaal Charles
WR DeSean Jackson

Oh, and as for that whole Adrian Peterson/Dallas Cowboys debacle… Jerry Jones is a buffoon. That’s my quick take. Join in the conversation about this hot talker in our Vikings Journal forums.


It wouldn’t be a fantasy football draft prep column without my latest cheat sheet, so here it is (now with less Josh Gordon).

Attached File  Bo Mitchell Fantasy Football cheat sheet 082814VJ.pdf   381.42KB   163 downloads


Also, in case you missed it or don’t know about it, I do a weekly podcast for 1500ESPN.com with Anthony Maggio called the “Fantasy Football Pants Party.” Yes, you read that right. And you’re invited. Take a listen to episode three, recorded Thursday afternoon. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

Good luck in your fantasy drafts this weekend. Happy Labor Day.


Follow Bo on Twitter @Bo_Mitchell


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18 Comments

I had the sixth pick in my draft and McCoy almost fell to me. Was taken number 5. I ended up taking Forte.

 

Good advice overall.

Bo Mitchell
Aug 29 2014 08:24 AM

Getting Forte at five is very solid. That's about where he's been going on average. Is this for a PPR league? How did the rest of your team shake out?

Brock Beauchamp
Aug 29 2014 08:38 AM

I haven't played FF in years but this was a very entertaining read.

Bo Mitchell
Aug 29 2014 08:41 AM

I haven't played FF in years but this was a very entertaining read.

 

Never too late to get in a league, Brock. There's still time.

It's a PPR league. 1 QB 1 RB 1 WR 1 TE and 2 flex. I went heavy on RB hoping to start 3 solid ones.

 

Besides Forte for RB I got Murray, Tate, Moreno and Robinson

WR: Garcon, Crabtree, Jennings, Britt

QB: Luck, Smith

TE: Reed

D: Buffalo

K: Bailey

    • Bo Mitchell likes this
Parker Hageman
Aug 29 2014 10:56 AM

How did I do here Bo? I used your draft sheet the other night wound up with this team (Yes, I'm the guy who drafted Ray Rice, I'm a horrible human being):

 

TITTSBURGH FEELERS

5 Matt Forte, Chi RB  K 
17 Brandon Marshall, Chi WR 
32 Cordarrelle Patterson, Min WR 
41 Rashad Jennings, NYG RB 
56 Ray Rice, Bal RB 
65 Kyle Rudolph, Min TE 
80 Jay Cutler, Chi QB 
89 Seahawks D/ST D/ST 
104 Reggie Wayne, Ind WR 
113 Andy Dalton, Cin QB 
128 Steven Hauschka, Sea K 
137 Doug Baldwin, Sea WR 
152 Terrance West, Cle RB

 

Any potential free agent pickups recommended? 

nicksaviking
Aug 29 2014 11:57 AM

I haven't heard anyone else leery of Charles, he seems to be one of the safest bets unless you're worried about his sprained foot.  He only had about 250 carries last year and got a lot of his touches on catches out in the flat and near the sideline where he wouldn't take half the beating he would running up the middle.

 

Lacey is the guy I don't trust.  Only one year of production and he plays in an extremely pass happy offense and he didn't catch a ton of passes last year.  I think a full year of Aaron Rodgers behind center will limit the running game even if he's only going to see 6-7 guys in the box most of the year. 

How did I do here Bo? I used your draft sheet the other night wound up with this team (Yes, I'm the guy who drafted Ray Rice, I'm a horrible human being):

 

TITTSBURGH FEELERS

5 Matt Forte, Chi RB  K 
17 Brandon Marshall, Chi WR 
32 Cordarrelle Patterson, Min WR 
41 Rashad Jennings, NYG RB 
56 Ray Rice, Bal RB 
65 Kyle Rudolph, Min TE 
80 Jay Cutler, Chi QB 
89 Seahawks D/ST D/ST 
104 Reggie Wayne, Ind WR 
113 Andy Dalton, Cin QB 
128 Steven Hauschka, Sea K 
137 Doug Baldwin, Sea WR 
152 Terrance West, Cle RB

 

Any potential free agent pickups recommended? 

 

Go Bears!! :) Ha!

Parker Hageman
Aug 29 2014 01:05 PM
Go Bears!! :) Ha!

 

 

 

Marc Trestman's offense.

TheLeviathan
Aug 29 2014 02:07 PM

I haven't heard anyone else leery of Charles, he seems to be one of the safest bets unless you're worried about his sprained foot.  He only had about 250 carries last year and got a lot of his touches on catches out in the flat and near the sideline where he wouldn't take half the beating he would running up the middle.

 

If you go look up Charles' career numbers, last year sticks out like a sore thumb.  He's a huge regression candidate IMO. 

nicksaviking
Aug 29 2014 02:57 PM

If you go look up Charles' career numbers, last year sticks out like a sore thumb.  He's a huge regression candidate IMO. 

 

Which numbers? Aside from the TD's his numbers look pretty inline with 2012 and 2010. Actually, his Yards per Carry were down last year compared to his other healthy years.  TD's are pretty unpredictable but Reid showed last year that he will use Charles at the goal line.  You want to talk about inconsistant to underwhelming TD production, look at Matt Forte through his career, 12,4,9,4,6,12. 

 

Between Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, Reid's usage of the RB generally includes 60 up to 90 receptions.  Barring injury, I don't see that changing.

TheLeviathan
Aug 29 2014 09:35 PM

If you go look up Charles' career numbers, last year sticks out like a sore thumb.  He's a huge regression candidate IMO. 

 

Which numbers? Aside from the TD's his numbers look pretty inline with 2012 and 2010. Actually, his Yards per Carry were down last year compared to his other healthy years.  TD's are pretty unpredictable but Reid showed last year that he will use Charles at the goal line.  You want to talk about inconsistant to underwhelming TD production, look at Matt Forte through his career, 12,4,9,4,6,12. 

 

Between Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, Reid's usage of the RB generally includes 60 up to 90 receptions.  Barring injury, I don't see that changing.

 

"Besides TDs"?  You realize how enormous a difference just the TD's make right?  He had 19 Rec/Running compared to 22 the previous four years combined.

 

Combine that with a bad offensive line and that screams regression.

ForPete'sSake
Aug 30 2014 06:23 AM
Your thoughts on this article - more so in PPR leagues? http://sports.yahoo....-193759684.html Picking 11 or 12 in a 12-team PPR league I did this a couple of years back - landing Dez, D. Thomas, Brandon Marshall and Reggie Wayne - allowing me to breeze through the league - my running backs were marginal as I started all 4 WRs - one being at the flex position.
Bo Mitchell
Aug 30 2014 07:56 AM

Charles concerns me because you have to spend a top-3 pick to get him and every defense they face this year will have one mission: stop him. Even more so than last year when they started hot, Alex Smith was playing over his head and they were winning every week.

 

This year they have a much tougher schedule, defenses will just dare Smith to beat them with his little six-yard dump-offs and totally load up to stop Jamaal... running behind an offensive line that looks terrible.

 

I don't want all that risk with my first-round pick.

Bo Mitchell
Aug 30 2014 08:00 AM

Your thoughts on this article - more so in PPR leagues? http://sports.yahoo....-193759684.html Picking 11 or 12 in a 12-team PPR league I did this a couple of years back - landing Dez, D. Thomas, Brandon Marshall and Reggie Wayne - allowing me to breeze through the league - my running backs were marginal as I started all 4 WRs - one being at the flex position.

 

Another name for the "Do the opposite" strategy, which has been around for about 15 years. It works very well if you hit on at least one sleeper running back in the mid-to-late rounds. If that happens, and your stud WRs and QB do what they are supposed to do, you're golden.

Bo Mitchell
Aug 30 2014 08:04 AM

How did I do here Bo? I used your draft sheet the other night wound up with this team (Yes, I'm the guy who drafted Ray Rice, I'm a horrible human being):

 

TITTSBURGH FEELERS

5 Matt Forte, Chi RB  K 
17 Brandon Marshall, Chi WR 
32 Cordarrelle Patterson, Min WR 
41 Rashad Jennings, NYG RB 
56 Ray Rice, Bal RB 
65 Kyle Rudolph, Min TE 
80 Jay Cutler, Chi QB 
89 Seahawks D/ST D/ST 
104 Reggie Wayne, Ind WR 
113 Andy Dalton, Cin QB 
128 Steven Hauschka, Sea K 
137 Doug Baldwin, Sea WR 
152 Terrance West, Cle RB

 

Any potential free agent pickups recommended? 

 

You had me at Tittsburgh Feelers.

 

Your first three picks were great, but you might win this league with your 6-7 round values of a 10-TD tight end and a quarterback who could post top-5 numbers at his position. Baldwin (one of my favorite sleepers) and West in the final two rounds could prove to be steals.

nicksaviking
Sep 02 2014 10:54 AM

"Besides TDs"?  You realize how enormous a difference just the TD's make right?  He had 19 Rec/Running compared to 22 the previous four years combined.

 

Combine that with a bad offensive line and that screams regression.

 

Right, but my point was TD are largely unpredictable, we're not going to be able to get a good estimate for any RB so I'm not sure why Charles would be singled out.  My example of Matt Forte seems to be very apt, as no one is as unperdictable as he when it comes to TD, yet he is refrenced here positively.  Defenses likely will target Charles strongly, but they did last year also.  Everyone was just fine letting Alex Smith try to beat them with his arm, specifically since he doesn't have one, and he has no recievers.  That hasn't changed, I'd think the single concern with Charles is the lost of Brandon Albert and Jon Asamoah from the OL.

 

I don't have any particular bias for Charles, I just had a hard time understanding the reservations about him as I trust Forte and Lacey less and while McCoy is a stud, teams generally find that year two of "innovative" offenses generally are met with a dose of reality as the other 31 teams had a year to figure out how to stop them.  It seems like only last year that the NFL was going to be taken over by read-option offenses.  Actually, it was just last year....

TheLeviathan
Sep 02 2014 07:10 PM

Right, but my point was TD are largely unpredictable, we're not going to be able to get a good estimate for any RB so I'm not sure why Charles would be singled out.  My example of Matt Forte seems to be very apt, as no one is as unperdictable as he when it comes to TD, yet he is refrenced here positively.  

 

Forte doesn't have nearly as a dramatic shift in scoring.  Has he been super consistent?  No, did his production spike wildly last year?  No.

 

You know what you have in Forte - the lead back in an offensive juggernaut.  Charles?  He's the only guy on a suspect offense.


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