Tuesday, August 26, 2014

IDP (Individual Defensive Players) 2014 Draft Guide

IDP is an interesting feature in fantasy football. Instead of using team defenses for defensive scoring you actually pick individual defensive players. I have repeated as season and playoff champion in the league I play in which uses the IDP format. Although my IDP league has brought me much success, I still still prefer not playing with IDP.  IDP can be confusing for the more casual of fantasy football players. Having IDP in a league can give an advantage to those players who actually understand elements of football defense, and a disadvantage to those who do not.It really helps me since I love football, but I feel it hinders others.

Most fantasy football owners prepare for the draft by examining projections. Projections for IDP are not as prevalent as they are for offensive players. Although projections are more sparse, you can still prepare for a draft with the ones available. For new players, difficulty with IDP drafts hinges on one important question/problem: when to draft defensive players? This question can be answered byexamining player value for both offensive and defensive players.

Player value stats and value based drafting are ways to see how players rank next to their peers. An example of player value would be to compare Colin Kaepernick and Matthew Stafford. Based on the projections from Fantasy Pros, and average draft position data from Fantasy Football Calculator, Matthew Stafford is overvalued, while Kaepernick is under valued. Kaepernick is projected to get 307.7 points and is going in the eight round, while Stafford is projected to get 304.2 points and is going in the fourth round.  Projections may just be that, a projection or guess of how the player will do. Matt Stafford is only worth taking in the fourth round if you believe he will exceed 304.2 fantasy points. Why draft him in the fourth round when quarterbacks who can provide you with similiar numbers exist later in the draft? Seven quarterbacks are projected to obtain very similar fantasy points. Running backs and wide receivers would make a better target then Matt Stafford in the fourth round (unless you believe he will have a remarkable year). For more on value, my article gives more detailed explanations.

Where should defenders be drafted? It first depends on your leagues format. My league requires two defensive backs, and three general defenders. The general defenders are players who play any defensive position.  I generally draft  three line backers, since they have the highest scoring output. It should be noted that some defensive lineman do put up stellar fantasy points.  he league I play in gives out points for some elements of the defensive game other leagues may not. The league I play in gives out 4 points for a safety, 1 point per pass defended, 3 points for a sack, and 1 point for a tackle for loss. You have to examine your league scoring settings and then make your assessments about which defensive players to pick. Lavonte David  had 206.8 points in the league I played in last year but only 196 with FFToday scoring. It is extremely important to understand the scoring system used in your league. For my analysis about value and defensive players I will utilize FFToday scoring which is listed below.

FFToday
Tackle:1.00 point each
Assist:0.50 points each
Sack:2.00 points for every 0.50
PD:1.00 point each
INT:5.00 points each
INTTD:6.00 points each
FF:3.00 points each
FR:2.00 points each
FRTD:6.00 points each
Safety:2.00 points each


I compiled a list of 160 players: 14 QB's, 39 RB's, 38 WR's, 10 TE's, 24 DB's, 36 D. The player value stat is calculated based off the fantasy point difference of a given player compared to the last ranked player in their respective positional category.The first defensive player appears on the value list with the 32 pick. That player would be Luke Kuechly. He is projected to score 165.5 points and has a value score of 56.5. Two defensive players with similar numbers appear at the 33rd and 34th spot, J.J. Watt and Lavonte David. Their rankings would indicate these players should be drafted in the 3rd round (based off value). I would not draft them this early. My draft last year saw the first defensive player taken in round 5. The top end defensive players are more similar to their peers then the elite players at other positions, this is evident by the chart below. I mapped out the top five value players per position.




If you can draft one of the top defensive players in the fifth round you are getting them at good value. If that is not an option, you can take a second tier defensive player in the 6th and still begin assembling a formidable defense. Don't take a defensive back before the sixth round, the best defensive back (by projection) is Eric Weddle. His value score is only 30.5. Just because you do not have a position drafted yet does not mean you are obliged to select someone from that positional category. If I don't have a DB drafted in the sixth round, I would select a higher value player at another position if they were still available. If the DB is the highest available value I would select him.

Below is an actual tangible example of drafting defensive players. I just participated in my leagues fantasy draft on the weekend. It has the weird scoring system I listed earlier in the article. The fifth round of my draft is when I took the first defensive player drafted by anyone in the league. I did this because it made sense at the time, which I can display through value.

Round 5 FPP Value
Reggie Bush (Det - RB)  164.3 42.4
Jordan Cameron (Cle - TE) 122.4 21.1
Sammy Watkins (Buf - WR) 123 2.3
Torrey Smith (Bal - WR) 142.1 22.4
DeSean Jackson (Was - WR) 141.4 20.7
Victor Cruz (NYG - WR) 150 29.3
Shane Vereen (NE - RB) 158.5 36.6
Antonio Gates (SD - TE) 94.1 -7.2
Ryan Mathews (SD - RB) 168.3 46.4
Larry Fitzgerald (Ari - WR) 162.3 41.6
Maurice Jones-Drew (Oak - RB) 136.5 14.6
J.J. Watt (Hou - DE) (My Pick) 194.96 57.2


J.J. Watt was the most sensible pick at the time. His value was exceptionally high. He was the best defensive player on the board. Aside from putting up the most total fantasy points, he exceeded his peers at his position by the largest margin. While some of the people around me drafted average tight ends, and old running backs, I took the best defensive and most valuable player on the board. The chart above should show you the high value that defensive players have in a league that rewards points for tackles for loss, pass deflection, etc; Watt is projected to score one less point than Jimmy Graham in this league!

It is important to draft IDP's just as much as it is any other position in fantasy football. I would not recommend drafting players before the 5th round. You will be able to snag good players at other positions when people start picking defensive players in bunches. Every draft I have been involved in that features IDP see's a slew of individuals draft players after the first IDP player is picked. You do not have to pick a position just because other people are, buck the trend. 17 linebackers exist that are projected to give you between 115 and 130 fantasy points. You can not ignore the defensive position. You must treat them the same as offensive players in fantasy football. Defensive players can make or break your season in an IDP league. Good luck!




















Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2014 Positions, Value, Draft Strategy

I have taken ADP data from FantasyFootballCalculator which is accurate as of August 9th, as well as projections from FantasyPros which are accurate as of August 9th. The projections from FantasyPros are fairly good as they take data from at least four other sites in order to reach projection numbers based on multiple experts.

I have used the concept of VBD in other articles on this site. I have decided to analyze where players are being drafted via ADP data, and cross referencing their "value". I am doing this in order to determine who is being drafted higher/lower in position than their value would indicate. It is ideal to find players, positions, and areas of the draft that are under/over valued. Gaining this information will help you immensely during the draft for your fantasy league.



QB

The table above displays various stats for quarterbacks. The data shows that many QB's exist who can provide you with similar numbers.  The average of the eleven quarterbacks below the top three (Manning, Rodgers, Brees) is 289.6. You can look at the chart and see that there are eight quarterbacks who all have value numbers between 15 and 40.  Eight quarterbacks across rounds 4 to 8. If the projections are correct, there will be numerous quarterbacks who are projected to get you between 280 and 310 fantasy points. This data shows that the quarterback position is one that you should not be drafting early. The exception would be if  you are drafting Rodgers, Brees, or Manning. These three are projected to bring you so many points that they are actually in the Top 30 players for value. Manning coming in as the 8th most valuable player in the draft, Brees at 28th, Rodgers at 21. Those players can be worked into a draft strategy. What this tells me is that unless you truly believe that any of the players between Matthew Stafford to Colin Kaepernick are going to have a "Peyton Manningesque" season in terms of FPP's; you should not reach in a draft to get one of these players. Don't take Andrew Luck in the fifth (unless you think he will put up a +300 point fantasy year) as you can get RGIII in the seventh who will produce similar numbers.

RB



38 running backs will likely be drafted in the first 100 picks. That element of ADP data shows that most managers draft their 2 (3 if you play in a RB/WR flex league) "starting" running backs  and another to back them up within 100 picks. I have seen other managers and even myself carried 4 RB's or more on a roster. Running backs are a needed element on your fantasy team. 16 of the top 30 players by value are running backs. 6 in the 1-10 range, 6 in the 11-20 range, and 4 in the 20-30 range. 

If you end up with an high draft pick I would recommend taking Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Lesean McCoy or Matt Forte. There are many running backs who can give you between 190 and 210 fantasy points.  My last two sentences may seem careless and rushed, but there is a larger point to be made. You need to draft a running back in the first two rounds. Regardless of if your pick is early, middle, or late in the draft order. 

You do not have to draft two running backs right off the bat, in fact I am a proponent of drafting an elite WR and great running back when I have a late first round pick. However, it is clear that you can not wait until the 4th or 5th round to draft your first running back. In most leagues you have to play a minimum 2 running backs. It is evident that your best running back should not be a 160-170 fantasy point guy, you ideally want a player who will exceed 190 fantasy points. Draft an RB in the first two rounds, look for depth at RB in later rounds, find RB sleepers,  you need to be researching and drafting running backs if you want a shot at a title this year.

WR




38 wide receivers will  likely be drafted in the first 100 picks of the draft. Most leagues require either three WR or two WR with an option of an RB or WR as a flex. Wideout is a position that you must draft intelligently. I believe it is a good idea to draft a strong wide receiver. 10 wide receivers are in the top 30 for fantasy value; 2 in the top 10, 3 from 11 to 20, and 5 from 20 to 30. 

Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, and Brandon Marshall are all players I would personally love to have on my fantasy team. I would draft any of these players in the later half of the first through to the end of the second round.  I would give consideration to Jordy Nelson, Alshon Jefferey, and Antonio Brown as well (during the second round).

The third to the sixth round features wide receivers who hover between 130 and 160 fantasy points (based on projections). You have to go with your own personal thoughts and research when picking receivers. Plenty of WR exist between the 3rd to 6th round that give you similar production. You need to be drafting players who you believe have upside or will exceed projections. You also need to be  drafting great players at other positions if they are still available. My ideal drafts from the 12th spot (I have been practicing picking 12th for an upcoming draft) see me landing Dez Bryant in the first, I then draft the best running back available to pair with him. This allows me to then draft my 2nd running back in the third. I then am able to draft the best available WR or RB in the fourth.

The biggest piece of advice I can give based on WR value stats is don't reach to get wide receivers not in the first or second round. Draft players who you believe will exceed projections, draft players who slide in draft position. If you can get Randall Cobb in the late third round go for it, but don't draft him if it leaves you neglecting your running game. Based on projections there are 12 players who will finish between 130 and 150 fantasy points, and 10 who will finish with between 150 and 170 fantasy points. Wide receiver drafting is all about drafting players who slide and not unnecessarily reaching for players.



TE


Tight ends are an interesting position in fantasy football. Jimmy Graham is projected to have the best season. He is the only tight end projected to break the 1,000 receiving yard mark this year. I have never had Graham on any of my fantasy teams, he is the 17th most valuable player in the draft. I personally would not take him in the first round.  In this years draft I truly believe I will be waiting to draft a tight end. Far more valuable players can be drafted at most levels where managers are reaching for tight ends.  Many more valuable players exist in the third round when Gronkowski and Thomas are typically being drafted. I would take the following players who are all rated higher then Gronk and Thomas and are projected for the third round: Doug Martin, Zac Stacey, Alshon Jeffrey, Andre Ellington, Randall Cobb, Vicent Jackson, Reggie Bush, C.J. Spiller. Several players projected to go in the fourth round are also better picks then Thomas and Gronk.

It is important to examine value before your fantasy football draft. The chart and projections from sites don't have to completely rule your draft strategy, but they should at least influence it. It is important to not draft players early who have similar point producing players who can be drafted later. Good luck everyone!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

2014 Drafting from the 12th Spot

I have been conducting research on drafting from the 12th spot in a 12 team draft. This includes analyzing stats, as well as conducting mock drafts. I have tried a few different draft strategies and drawn many conclusions. This article should be able to give you advice and a chance to draft a championship team from the 12th spot.

The league I am drafting for features QB, 2 RB's, 3 WR, TE, DEF, and K.

I have conducted many mock drafts in order to prepare for my actual fantasy drafts. I have seen a wide assortment of players get drafted in the eleven picks before mine (the 12th).  I would personally recommend drafting an elite WR and elite running back with your first two picks. The best part about picking 12th is you get two solid players at the end of the first round. This has typically lead me to drafting Dez Bryant and Arian Foster. The following list average draft position data, and shows where players have recently been getting drafted. This can give you an idea of who is available when you pick.



Rank Pick Name Pos Team
1 1.02 LeSean McCoy RB PHI
2 1.02 Jamaal Charles RB KC
3 1.04 Adrian Peterson RB MIN
4 1.04 Matt Forte RB CHI
5 1.05 Calvin Johnson WR DET
6 1.06 Eddie Lacy RB GB
7 1.08 Jimmy Graham TE NO
8 1.09 Demaryius Thomas WR DEN
9 1.09 Peyton Manning QB DEN
10 1.1 Marshawn Lynch RB SEA
11 1.1 Montee Ball RB DEN
12 1.11 Dez Bryant WR DAL
13 2.02 Arian Foster RB HOU
14 2.02 A.J. Green WR CIN
15 2.03 DeMarco Murray RB DAL
16 2.05 LeVeon Bell RB PIT
17 2.05 Julio Jones WR ATL
18 2.05 Brandon Marshall WR CHI
19 2.07 Aaron Rodgers QB GB
20 2.08 Giovani Bernard RB CIN
21 2.08 Drew Brees QB NO
Data accurate as of August 3rd,2014

I believe it is important to snag a running back as well as an elite wide receiver. I could take two running backs or two wide receivers. The reason I choose not to do this is that by doing so I would be losing out on point production at the position I do not choose.
Taking Dez Bryant is a good move. He is in a class of recieiver that provides your team a serious advantage. He resides in what I deem as the top tier of wide receiver. He is ranked fourth on the current Fantasy Pro projections for the year. I believe he has the ability to exceed the projections and possibly be the best wide receiver in the league. The value chart I made has Dez Bryant producing 64.8 points more then the 29th receiver being taken. This link can give you an explanation on Value Based Drafting.  He is a valuable draft pick. Technically Julio Jones is more valuable then Dez Bryant based off Fantasy Pros projections, but I go with Dez because I truly believe he will score more points.


Player FPTS
Calvin Johnson (DET)  228.5
Demaryius Thomas (DEN)  219.4
Julio Jones (ATL)  202.4
Dez Bryant (DAL)  198.2
A.J. Green (CIN)  194.5
Brandon Marshall (CHI)  190.6
Jordy Nelson (GB)  185.1
Alshon Jeffery (CHI)  184.8
Antonio Brown (PIT)  184.7
Randall Cobb (GB)  171.9

Picking Arian Foster (or the best running back available) is an extremely important move to make for your second pick. The alternative to drafting a running back would be drafting a second wide receiver. It is important to snag a quality WR, but grabbing two could be a very ill advised move. This would lead you to rely on lower point producing running backs to anchor your running game. The chart below show the difference in projected points if you were to draft two a WR/RB in the first vs WR/WR in the first.


Player Points
Player Points
Dez Bryant 198.2
Dez Bryant 198.2
Arian Foster 207.6
AJ Green 194.5
Vincent Jackson 166.5
Bishop Sankey 174.5
Bishop Sankey 174.5
Ryan Mathews 168.3
Total 746.8
Total 735.5


It is truly beneficial to draft a top wide receiver and running back with your first two picks. When the time comes for your next set of picks I advise taking a wide receiver and running back once more. My personal suggestion is to take Wes Welker at wide receiver if he is still available. His Average Draft Position has not been very high, although he has been quite a formidable fantasy receiver for many years. You can draft several other talented receivers such as Vincent Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald, Percy Harvin, and Victor Cruz. Take whichever receiver you believe will have the best year. Next I would draft the best running back available. In my recent mock drafts that can be anyone from Andre Ellington, Bishop Sankey, Ryan Mathews, Reggie Bush, CJ Spiller, or Toby Gerhart. Evaluate who you think has the best chance of success this year and draft that player.

My next two picks I choose to take the best receiver available and possibly a QB or Tight End. Bear in mind you should always draft the best player possible. So if the draft you participate in somehow has a very good running back still around at this point draft him. I have been able to draft TY Hilton, Julian Edelman, and even Percy Harvin in the fifth round. If Vernon Davis is still around at this point I am tempted to take him. If Nick Foles is available I take him. Michael Floyd is another receiver I take if still available.There is QB depth in this draft. The core of this article and my advice from the 12th spot is to go WR/RB in the first.

This article provides a basic frame work for drafting from the 12th spot. I personally suggest taking a strong elite WR, as well as a top ten running back in the first round. The following rounds can see you pick your QB whenever you feel is right, however I personally believe it is best to grab another good RB and WR with your second set of picks. Remember to always attempt to draft the best and most valuable player possible, capitalize on the players who slide down to you. The 12th spot is not a bad spot to pick from, it can actually be very advantageous! Good luck!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Draft Part I



How are you going to win your fantasy football pool this year? That is certainly a good question. No guarantees exist in fantasy football. One of the things you can do is try and have the best draft possible. I have won two championships in a row in an IDP standard league. What was the key to my success?  Who I drafted and when I drafted them. The most important element of the draft is drafting players when they slide down in draft position. I believe in drafting players who offer more value than their peers.
To find my approach to the 2014 fantasy football draft I first analyze last year’s numbers. It is important to analyze the numbers to understand how to group players, and to see the distribution of points at the various positions.  
The easiest way to display this principle is by examining the top 12 quarterbacks. I base my calculations off groupings of twelve due to being in a twelve team league.  I also do calculations based off the top 6 at a position. It is also a good idea to group players into tiers, but we will get to that later. The average of the top twelve quarterbacks from last year came to 366, the top six came to 399. By those calculations Stafford, Dalton, Brees and Manning were the truly exceptional quarterbacks. Peyton Manning was the most valuable fantasy football player last season.  He exceeded the average of the top 12 quarterbacks by 131 points.  Peyton Manning provided production that far exceeded his peers.
Player
FFPts
Peyton Manning
496.8
Drew Brees
437.5
Andy Dalton
377.1
Matthew Stafford
367.8
Cam Newton
359.7
Philip Rivers
359.1
Andrew Luck
345.2
Ben Roethlisberger
341
Matt Ryan
335.3
Russell Wilson
331.8
 Ryan Tannehill
321.5
Colin Kaepernick
320

Here is a list of players who greatly exceeded their positional top 12 average.
Name
Points
Peyton Manning
130.73
 Jimmy Graham
86.24167
Jamaal Charles
84.48333
Drew Brees
71.43
LeSean McCoy
53.08333
Matt Forte
37.68333
Vernon Davis
31.74167
Josh Gordon
26.275
Demaryius Thomas
25.875
Calvin Johnson
19.775
Julius Thomas
19.54167
Marshawn Lynch
13.68333
Andy Dalton
11.033

Although Peyton Manning was the best fantasy player of 2013, I am still trying to decide where I will draft him in 2014. The reason being the amount of quarterbacks I start in my league. I can only start one running back a week, while I have to start two running backs, and three receivers.   Over the next few days I will be participating in mock drafts to attempt to find out the best draft strategy from the 12th spot. The 12th spot is where I will be drafting in one of my leagues, so it will be beneficial research for me and hopefully for you readers!  I will also have general draft tips, and lot of information pertaining to the 2014 fantasy football draft.