Monthly Archives: July 2015
After the fantasy world collectively held it’s breath awaiting word on the extensions for Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant (both were recent hold outs), we can all breath a sigh of relief since both players signed 5 year $70 million dollar contract extensions.
However unlikely it was that either or both players were going to hold out for actual NFL games, we can now stop pondering how Terrance Williams would do in the absence of Bryant, and get back to drafting both of these guys in the first two rounds with confidence.
Below is a list of the top 10 teams in terms of total offensive plays in 2014.
- Philadelphia Eagles (1,127 plays)
- Indianapolis Colts (1,105)
- New Orleans Saints (1,095)
- New York Giants (1,086)
- New England Patriots (1,073)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (1,068)
- Denver Broncos (1,067)
- Houston Texans (1,062)
- Carolina Panthers (1,060)
- New York Jets (1,052)
What’s important to understand is that this merely a baseline to understand how often a team puts its offensive players in position to score fantasy points. The uptempo offenses in Philly and Indianapolis enabled them to run 70.4 and 69.1 plays per game; this means players who line up in large percentage of their teams offensive snaps have a greater ability to procure fantasy points. This would seem rather obvious, but is important to note nontheless. Below is a list of the top 10 players ranked by participation percentage (using snap count statistics gathered at Sportingcharts.com)
- Torrey Smith* (1,098 total snaps, 96.7% of team snaps)
- Jordy Nelson (1,083, 96.5%)
- Dez Bryant (935, 93.7%)
- Vincent Jackson (969, 93.5%)
- Brandon Marshall* (988, 93.4%)
- A.J. Green (1,056, 93.3%)
- Mike Wallace* (951, 92.6%)
- Larry Fitzgerald (998, 92.1%)
- Demaryius Thomas (1,106, 91.6%)
- Alshon Jeffery (963, 91.0%)
*players have changed teams
What can be gained from these statistics? Well for starters, you can infer based on usage that a player like Kevin White in Chicago is in for a large number of snaps as Brandon Marshall vacates the roster. The same for Kenny Stills in Miami as the new top target for Ryan Tannehill in place of Mike Wallace. It certainly appears that Chicago uses their two top targets an awful lot, running them out for more than 90% of their snaps on offense. You could also argue that Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald are both heavy target receivers with a better QB outlook this year, and if the numbers are consistent could be in for a bump in usage.
A few surprises on this list would be players who were used far less than surface stats indicated in 2014.
TY Hilton only saw usage on 71% of Indianapolis’ offensive snaps. A number that if rising could mean enormous stats for the possession beast. Doug Baldwin as the top target in Seattle only saw 74% of the snaps, proving again that Seattle doesn’t trust its passing game, this is likely an indication of Baldwins value in the future. Houston, one of the leagues leaders in terms of total offensive snaps, had both the departed Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins in the 88% range, this could mean a huge uptick in Hopkins usage considering the lack of weapons behind him.
Like anything, it’s important to view these kinds of statistics as secondary, I’m not suggesting that Vincent Jackson should be ranked even close to Antonio Brown (4% less usage), but it’s fair to say that he’ll have far more opportunity then someone like Michael Floyd in Arizona who sees the field less than 85% of their offensive snaps.
It’s late in the draft and you’re looking for potential high reward fliers at the running back position. This stratagy is nothing new and you’ve done your research: you’re looking for the next Priest Holmes. We’re going to ignore backs that are the small head in a two headed RB by committee monster; these backs are solid backups that given the chance to start and carry a heavy work load have the goods to be fantasy studs (think C.J. Anderson). Below are 5 backs you may be able to get very late in your draft that could turn into fantasy gold without a lot of risk.
Jerick McKinnon – Solidly behind returning starter Adrian Peterson, McKinnon took some time to hit his stride last year while Peterson was on the shelf, but his freak athletesism had begun to shine through. A shorter, more compact back (5’10” and 210 pounds) McKinnon is agressive but can make you miss in the open field. Although when Peterson is healthy he may not see more than 5-7 touches per week, if Peterson misses any significant time (he is 30 and coming off of a severe injury) McKinnon immediately becomes a RB2.
Knile Davis – Another back sitting behind an incumbent RB1, Davis is a bruiser whose surprising burst makes for a good plus yardage back when given enough opportunity. Charles is a safe bet to miss some time, and Davis is poised to make good on
Andre Williams – It’s a good bet that Williams sees some time on the field this year regardless of if Rashad Jennings misses any time. Although Williams had a hard time with tearing off big runs, it’s not surprising given his skill set is more to bash the football down your throat. At 230 pounds, he’s a red zone beast, and his 7 touchdowns in limited time (217 touches) was a revelation. Given regular time, he’ll put up solid numbers between the 20’s but the red zone prowess is where he’ll excel.
Matt Jones – Alfred Morris has done little to impress since his breakout year in 2012. He’s a solid yet unspectacular back who runs well between the tackles and finds pay dirt regularly. Still, the Redskins invested a third round pick in Matt Jones from Florida, a big physical runner who’s burst and open field skills are unusual for a man his size (6’2, 230lbs). If Morris finds himself on the bench or IR for any length of time, Matt Jones could run away with the job; literally. In this crop of excellent rookie RB’s, Jones may be overlooked and fall deep into drafts.
Cameron Artis-Payne – Artis-Paynce is a name that’s beginning to pop up on sleeper lists left and right, and rightfully so. In a Carolina backfield that features exciting if not made-of-glass RB Jonathan Stewart, it’s suggested that Artis-Payne would see the bulk of the carries if an injury occured. He isn’t a home run hitter, he’s a between the tackles runner, but has a much better 3 down skill set than Whitaker, and could make the most of it for a Carolina team that will run the ball a lot
Two years ago, the “Muscle Hamster” as Doug Martin is affectionately refered to due to his hulking physique took the NFL by storm. His final stat line of 1454 rushing yards, 11 TDs and a 4.7 YPC made Martin the ultimate in fantasy value as a 4th – 5th round selection in most leagues. Fantasy owners were giddy going into the 2013 draft, spending a high first round pick to own the 24 year old stud they expected to win them fantasy championships.
Instead he rewarded that confidence with a statline of 456 yards and a 3.6 YPC before an injury in week 6 ended his season. If you were one of the few who though Martin may bounce back in 2014, his 494 yards and 3.7 YPC proved otherwise.
The major question going into the 2015 fantasy season is “can Doug Martin bounce back?” With 2nd year pro Charles Sims having a poor showing in limited time last year, the backfield situation in Tampa Bay looks murky for owners bold enough to draft either. If you draft from the Bucs backfield you’re either betting that Martin’s past two seasons were an aberration born of injuries and awful QB play, or you’re betting that Sim’s 2.8 YPC was a result of an ankle injury that slowed him down over the final 6 weeks.
With current ADP of 126 for Martin and 145 for Sims, both players are low risk options. A quick examination of week to week performances for both runners are revealing. Between 2013 and 2014 Martin’s total numbers were poor, but much of that can be attributed to injuries in 2013 and poor QB play in 2014. He turned in some duds but in weeks he averaged over 4 YPC he had such low volume he was unable to contribute to fantasy teams. Sims on the other hand looks even worse on paper. in 3 of his 8 games he averaged 1.2 yards or less, and only had one week over 4 yards and only one TD. Sure, he was involved heavily in the passing game, but Koetters’ offenses haven’t been shy with their RB’s, with both Jones Drew and either Fred Taylor or Rashad Jennings being involved at the same time.
Comparing the two players leads to the most important question, does Charles Sims’ ceiling match Martin’s? in the 12th – 15th round you’re risk is mitigated, but Martin is the player with the highest ceiling. We’ve seen it already in 2012 and with a competent offense and head coach, Martin in the 12th round is a no brainer.
Over the holiday weekend, Green Bay Packers TE Andrew Quarless was arrested for discharging a firearm in public. Police report that they recovered the firearm after two shots were fired after an argument between a few men and women and that Quarless was attempting to hide the firearm in a potted plant.
After a rather successful off-season and praises by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it appeared that Quarless would make the jump into fantasy relevance. This arrest has all but killed that. Although he has yet to be suspended by the league or team, it’s highly unlikely in the wake of similar events over the years that he won’t see a hefty suspension.
In Quarless’ stead, Richard Rogers will get the bulk of the TE work, but I’m still skeptical that he’ll contribute enough to the offense to be relevant on draft day. I’d imagine this will impact Eddie Lacy as he’ll have a small uptick in opportunities when Quarless may have been an intermediate target, and Jordy Nelson may have a few extra TD’s thrown his way in the red zone.
In a bit of surprising NFL news, San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates was suspended for 4 games for violating the leagues rules banning the use Performance Enhancing Drugs. Gates released a statement claiming he never knowingly ingested a banned substance and the Chargers released a statement concurrent vowing to back their star 100%.
What this means in terms of Fantasy is that not only does Gates take an obvious hit in rankings, missing 4 games 25% of the fantasy season, but it finally gives athletic freak LaDarius Green the chance to impress San Diego coaches and prove he’s got the ability to supplant Gates once and for all.
Green will likely still be drafted as one of the last 4 or 5 TE’s taken, but keep in mind that San Diego has shown a great deal of loyalty to Gates in the past, and it’s likely upon his return that he’ll take over the bulk of the TE duties going forward.
So you’re preparing for your draft and you want to make sure that on week one you haven’t already given up hope for a Fantasy Championship. The keys to a draft are simple ones, but are often times ignored when the pressure to build a solid team becomes the focus.
Make your own rankings: It’s important to read up on expert analysis and player values to determine how to rank your own players. If you simply print out the top 300 ESPN list, chances are you’ll miss out on a lot of valuable players due to lack of information. Not only are you drafting players who’s value is more to your liking, you’ve educated yourself on the potential for everything from sleeper picks to overrated bust candidates.
Understand your league rules: I’ve participated in so many leagues with different formats that have at least one or two drafters that are completely ignorant of the nuances of their scoring format. If you don’t realize that this league awards a full point for a PPR player, you may never target Danny Woodhead who’s value skyrockets if he approaches the 75 catches in San Diego. If you’re league awards big play bonus, you may ignore a player like DeSean Jackson who jumps up on draft boards due to his big play ability. It’s important to adjust your rankings with this information in mind.
Don’t get caught up in Bye weeks or Strength of Schedule: While I may ruffle some feathers here, and there’s some evidence that drafting with Bye weeks in mind can be helpful, I wouldn’t get too caught up in trying to out think other owners. By trying to adjust on the fly to fit two players together with bye weeks, you may miss out on having the best player available for that pick and it’s not a good stratagy to pass on great players because you’re concerned with how you can employ a worse player on week 9. As a tool, Strength of Schedule is nearly useless. To rank an Elite player higher or lower because they play Seattle is a surefire way to over think the draft and sabotage your team.
Make a list of players for Sleepers and Busts: This can be done any number of ways, you could highlight players based on which list their appear, you can keep a seperate list with their names on it; whatever your method, it’s important to denote the players you think will either out perform their value or under perform. This will come in handy in the middle rounds when you’re looking to maximize value with 2nd and 3rd starters for your team.
Have a plan B: You’re going to spend weeks, or even months preparing for your draft. You’ll draft five rounds and you’re eye will drift to your must have list, names of players in the middle or late rounds you know you want. And suddenly the guy drafting right before you starts taking everyone you want. You’re on tilt, a poker player with a bad beat. If you didn’t prepare for this, your failed foresight could cost you in the long run. It’s important to have a plan B. Odds are most of the players who you covet, someone else in the draft has them on their must have list too. You can’t have them all, it’s just not realistic. So prepare to lose out on a few of those players, and make sure that you don’t change your draft stratagy half way through because you think your balloon has popped. There’s nothing more infuriating than looking back after a completed draft and realizing you changed your targets and missed out on players you didn’t realize were there.
Know the other team owners: So you have your draft rankings, compiled personally with the league rules in mind. You have your list of players you value high or low, and you’re prepared with possible scenarios in which you’d have to adjust your stratagy. The last thing, and often times the most difficult, is to try and understand how your fellow Fantasy owners draft. This takes some time if you’re new to the league, but don’t underestimate how important knowing Drafter A values WR’s over RB’s could be when you’re deciding who to take at the turn. Will the player you want later be available? Does Drafter B value rookies higher than the rest? Will the player you want fall to the late rounds?
HAVE FUN: the most important thing is to have some fun. Fantasy Football is a game, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t remember to enjoy yourself. Don’t let a bad draft disuade you from following week to week, because if it’s one thing that’s constant in Fantasy Football, its that the strangest things can happen.
It’s easy to go into a draft with a simple plan, and maximizing value is a great way to start your preparations. It’s also important to recognize players that may be overvalued going into draft day in an attempt to avoid wasting valuable picks on players that may not reward you with anything but headaches. It’s especially to remind ourselves that drafting a player because we like them is not the same thing as drafting them based on their value. Below are the five players that at this very moment are valued far to high for my tastes and as a result I will be crossing off on draft lists before the bell to begin even rings.
Rob Gronkowski – TE | New England Patriots
I’ll preface this first player by saying that as a life long Patriots fan, it pains me to include one of my favorite players on this list. The fact remains that his ADP (currently around 10-12) will result in Gronk being drafted near the end of Round 1 and his value begins to become a question mark. There are pro’s to Gronkowski’s fantasy game; he’s the clear-cut number one at a position with a very small top tier, and when he gets going he puts up consistent points week to week. But the Con’s for me outweigh all of this. At his draft position, there are 6-10 players who will likely out score Gronkowski by a measurable margin. It becomes preference if you’d rather target a 6-10th round TE like Martellus Bennett that may score 40 points less than Gronkowski to target a top 5 WR or RB that will likely out score Gronk by the same margin. Sure it seems like a wash in the long run at the TE position, but what you’re doing is hamstringing your other skill positions, especially RB, considering how shallow the elite pool is and how many of those will be drafted in the first two rounds. If it’s me, Gronkowski is out of the question in the first round, and likely in the second. If by some miracle he drops into the 3rd, he provides excellent value, but at his current ADP, he’s on my Don’t Draft list.
Alshon Jeffery – WR | Chicago Bears
With Brandon Marshall gone, everyone bumped Jefferey up due to higher expectations as the clear-cut number one in the Chicago offense. This in spite of the fact that Jay Cutler is the epitome of inconsistent and that Jeffery isn’t known as a crisp route runner. In fact, his biggest asset is his size, which rookie WR Kevin White brings in spades. While White may not usurp the starting job from Jeffery right away, the plan in Chicago is to mold White in to an elite WR, and the expectation is that he’ll steal a good chunk of red zone targets. As talented as Jeffery is, over a complete season he’ll likely under perform his ADP, and the inconsistencies would be infuriating and if poorly timed, could cost your team BIG.
Mark Ingram – RB | New Orleans Saints
When Ingram came into the league, he was expected to step in and contribute right away. He had the skill, and he had the pedigree. Unfortunately he didn’t have the success. It took him three years of under whelming play on the field for him to finally put up numbers that represented the pick the Saints invested in him. Granted, much of his struggles can be attributed to health issues, the fact remains that Ingram is being targeted as a RB2 because of a small sample size of success. With a poor defense that may result in a lot of passing plays, and a better 3rd down back in CJ Spiller on the field, I sense a recipe for disaster. Ingram could be one of the biggest busts of the draft, and I’m determined to not let it be on my roster.
Carlos Hyde – RB | San Fransisco 49ers
Carlos Hyde is a fine player, but a player we’ve seen very little of in a backfield dominated by Frank Gore. The news in the offseason has been tumultuous to say the least, and if you expect San Fransisco to run the ball often, you’d be wrong. I expect a defense decimated by departures to provide for plenty of passing opportunities for a supposedly improved Colin Kaepernick. The fact that Kaep likes to run the ball as often as he does and that Kendall Hunter is still in the fold to steal rushes will impact Hyde’s ability to be anything but a depth pick for bye weeks and injuries. I’d rather draft Frank Gore who has a later ADP in Indy than bank on a player who is just now getting his chance.
Todd Gurley – RB | St. Louis Rams
We all know Gurley’s recent injury history, which is why he’s being drafted in the 4th round despite his immense talent. The issue that I take with even an ADP around 47 is that Gurley will see very little of the field in year one. The team has a capable back in Tre Mason who will get the starts until Gurley returns. To expect that Gurley will suddenly touch the football 20 times a game when he does is plain irresponsible. St. Louis knows what they have in Gurley, and they’ll work hard to limit his exposure as he continues to distance himself from a potentially devastating injury. Unless you’re in a keeper or dynasty league and you can get him with a pick later in the draft, let him be an albatross on someone elses roster.