“Vámonos, amigos,” he whispered, and threw the busted leather flintcraw over the loose weave of the saddlecock. And they rode on in the friscalating dusklight. – Eli Cash, The Royal Tenenbaums.
At the end of the regular season, I brought you a recap of our performance in the NFFC Main Events. We placed two of our four teams in the Classic’s regular season Top 10. Unfortunately, both of those teams were led by Calvin Johnson. They faded in the playoffs.
On the bright side, we also placed seven of our Primetime teams in the Top 30. That gave us quite a few shots at the $150,000 Grand Prize. If you’ve been following along on RotoViz, you probably know Banana Stand co-owner Tyson Siegele and I were lucky enough to finish first overall. Due to great good fortune, we also ended up in second place by a mere 0.9 points. Including the various regular season prizes, we crested the $200,000 level and now have pushed our career winnings in the NFFC over the quarter million dollar mark.
It was a bizarre playoff stretch with many elite players disappearing and a few monstrous performances whittling down the types of rosters that could theoretically win the title. The teams that finished 1-2 were our third and seventh best during the regular season. The key ingredient, not surprisingly, was the best running back in the NFL: Jamaal Charles.
Here’s a look at the drafts for these two teams. Terms of Enrampagement won most points and best record during the regular season and finished No. 1 overall.
Friscalating Dusklight won most points. By virtue of finishing No. 2 overall, it was also able to win its league playoff against the team that posted the best regular season record. Playoff starters are in bold.
|Rd||Terms of Enrampagement (5th Pick)||Friscalating Dusklight (3rd Pick)|
|1||Jamaal Charles||Jamaal Charles|
|2||Julio Jones||Jimmy Graham|
|3||Rob Gronkowski||Pierre Garcon|
|4||Pierre Garcon||Rob Gronkowski|
|5||Le’Veon Bell||Lamar Miller|
|6||Josh Gordon||Le’Veon Bell|
|7||Rashard Mendenhall||Kenny Britt|
|8||Alshon Jeffery||Alshon Jeffery|
|9||Rueben Randle||Rueben Randle|
|10||Russell Wilson||Bryce Brown|
|Late Round/FA||Andre Ellington||Keenan Allen|
|Late Round/FA||Jay Cutler/Josh McCown||Zac Stacy|
|Late Round/FA||–||Nick Foles|
|Late Round/FA||–||Jay Cutler|
A handful of quick notes:
1) VBD is overrated. Just own the best players. Jamaal Charles is the best running back in the NFL by a wide margin. Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver by an even wider one. Charles was the No. 2 player on our board behind Megatron. Since the Lions’ transcendent star was gone by our pick in both drafts, we ended up with Charles. I’ve written a lot about Zero RB this season, but the success of our two highest profile “regular” teams offers a convincing counterargument. I think Best Player Available is probably underappreciated among the “expert” clique.
2) The Elite TE Approach was mixed. Jimmy Graham really carried Friscalating Dusklight. On the other hand, both teams had Rob Gronkowski. Needless to say, I thought it was all over when he went down in Week 14. They survived, largely because . . .
3) You want high ceilings, not high floors. You’ll see that on both teams we got minimal production out of three of our first seven picks. Having such a low hit rate in the premium rounds isn’t usually the hallmark of teams that win Main Events, but it does underline some of the flaws in VBD. Our strategy is usually considered high variance even though the risk inherent in individual players is largely mitigated by the method of roster construction.
4) The NFL Draft isn’t an efficient market. This can be a big source of extra value to your fantasy team. Writing for RotoViz, I made a much greater effort to analyze the NFL Draft last year than ever before. Three of my favorite players were Le’Veon Bell, Zac Stacy, and Keenan Allen. This may be the one gigantic inefficiency that remains in fantasy football.
5) Know your ADP. I had Alshon Jeffery rated higher than the two 7th round busts – Rashard Mendenhall and Kenny Britt – but I gambled Jeffery would be available later. The NFFC also publishes ADP data for its drafts, so I didn’t want our picks to push Jeffery up the board and make him more expensive.
6) Free agency is key. Considering the number of injuries that befell our early round players – and combined with misses like Miller and Britt – we wouldn’t have achieved these results without free agency. Before his knee injury stretched from the spring into the late summer, I was arguing for the Lions to select Keenan Allen at No. 5 overall. (You feel kind of silly when a guy you liked in the Top 5 lasts until the third round.) Despite his low draft status, Zac Stacy ranked as the No. 2 rookie on my board. Both players fell out of fantasy drafts when they broke training camp as backups. When they started to climb the depth chart, I made sure to move quickly and overbid if necessary in FAAB. It’s easy to see these additions as luck, but the top high stakes players are more active in free agency than other participants and more accurate in making impact acquisitions with large bids. Working the waiver wire may be the No. 1 key to being a profitable player long term.
7. Late Round QB is the dominant strategy, but selecting the right late rounders is imperative. It’s easy to overlook quarterback because the position is so fungible. But rostering guys with the upside to finish in the Top 10 is crucial. Nick Foles carried Friscalating Dusklight into the playoffs and held his own during the playoff race. Josh McCown put up 49 points during Week 14 and positioned Terms of Enrampagement to take advantage of the Jamaal Charles explosion.
How Did I Arrive at These Players?
Excellent work from my fellow writers at RotoViz helped. These 10 articles led directly to the theses that informed our draft board. Writing Advanced Targets for Pro Football Focus and interacting with PFF’s FSTA award-winning minds like Mike Clay, Alex Miglio, and Pat Thorman also helped a great deal.
Since I used my Agility Score concept to hit on Le’Veon Bell, and pluck Zac Stacy for my dynasty rosters, I’ve already started analytics-based preparation for the 2014 Draft. While a lot of people focus on the scouts-versus-analysts debate, it’s easy to see that the scouting narratives tend to shape ADP. That means that analysts don’t have to be better than scouts – or probably even quite as good – in order to deliver value. If scouts and analysts are giving you similar quality players but the market makers are full price, that means the analysts’ favorites will come at a very helpful discount.
If you’re looking to add some depth to the back end of your dynasty lineup, check out my list of the Top 10 Sleepers.
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