Category Archives: fantasy sports

Pai Mei, Zero RB, and the NFFC – A 2013 Report Card

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Editor’s Note: This looks at the Banana Stand results through the regular season and isn’t updated for the Gronk injury, for example.

I write a lot of stuff for RotoViz and Pro Football Focus that’s pretty far out of the mainstream. When someone sounds like a crackpot, the most likely explanation is that they are, in fact, a crackpot. I hope that isn’t the case.

Ideas are valuable in their own right – even if they prove unfounded. Most innovations begin with a trial-and-error process that is heavy on the error. But the value of ideas passed off as fact should be judged by whether or not those ideas work. In order to test my ideas, I like to play high stakes fantasy football. If the value of things like the Agility Score, Vision Yards, Dominator Rating, Height-adjusted Speed Score, and Zero RB can be found in their application to reality and fantasy pursuits, then the proof should be in the pudding. If the Sim Scores developed by RotoViz creator Frank DuPont provide a competitive advantage and the advanced stats generated by PFF’s game charters hold a special insight, then someone using those tools ought to be able to produce some decent results.

This is my report card.

The Contest

I play high stakes with my brother and Banana Stand co-owner, Tyson Siegele. Our format of choice is the National Fantasy Football Championship, a contest run by Tom Kessenich and Greg Ambrose. NFFC innovations include Third Round Reversal, KDS draft positions, and the strongest playoff format in the industry. Because of the strength of the format, it’s populated by many of the best fantasy football players in the world, including guys like Chad Schroeder, Jared Danielson, Tom Yates, Glenn Schroter, Michael Edelman, David Hughes, and many, many more.

This season we entered 14 Main Events, four in the Classic (the world’s premier 14-team format) and 10 in the Primetime. In each individual league, the top three teams advance to the playoffs. If a team finishes with the best record and most points through 13 weeks, that team finishes first and the next two teams in points finish second and third. If two teams split record and points, those teams face a three-week playoff for the title that runs concurrently to the Grand Prize portion of the contest.

The Classic has 280 total teams and a $100,000 grand prize. The Primetime sports 432 teams and a $150,000 grand prize. It seems vanishingly unlikely that anyone could win both, but, if accomplished, that triggers a $75,000 bonus for a cool $325,000.

This is how our teams performed.

NFFC Classic

5 Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique – Most Points/Best Record, No. 3 Finish Overall

QB: Jay Cutler/Josh McCown, Ryan Tannehill

RB: Le’Veon Bell, Pierre Thomas

WR: Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffery, Pierre Garcon, Jordy Nelson

TE: Jimmy Graham, Charles Clay

This is one of the two teams I wrote about for RotoViz in Zero RB, Antifragility, and the Myth of Value-Based Drafting. The three top-rated players on my board this season were Calvin Johnson, Jamaal Charles, and Jimmy Graham. My preferred strategy was to pair Megatron and Graham every time that opportunity presented itself.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Le’Veon Bell, especially since he was injured when I drafted him, but I have great faith in my Agility Score model and he finished as far and away the top runner in  Ryan Rouillard’s breakthrough running back evaluation model. I felt he represented a steal in the reality draft and a good value once his injury knocked him into the sixth round of fantasy formats.

Alshon Jeffery was the one player I tried to target for every team. It’s worth repeating again. Jeffery was the best SEC receiver in 2010 despite the presence of A.J. Green and Julio Jones. I’d challenge anyone to check out his stats, watch the video of his second touchdown catch against Minnesota, and not admit it’s possible he ends up as the best NFL receiver of the three. Continue reading Pai Mei, Zero RB, and the NFFC – A 2013 Report Card

Don’t Finish 3rd – Use RotoViz RB Cheat Sheet

Ray

Archer: I forgot you won the Olympic gold medal in men’s downhill.
Gillette: Well, ass, it was giant shalom and I only took bronze.
Archer: So? You lost?
Gillette: I came in third.
Archer: Which is last.
Gillette: Which is third…
Archer: Last.
Gillette: In the world.
Archer: You lost. Geeze, get over it.

 

A lot more drafts coming up this weekend. If you haven’t already, I recommend signing up for PFF’s Going Deep. It’s the best game out there. Recently a bunch of industry heavyweights participated in a mock draft, and I have the breakdown in true contrarian style. Part 1 looks at Rounds 1-9, and Part 2 examines 10-18. Since you have to start 13 players in this format, figuring out a good approach to those late rounds is just as important.

Going Deep is probably best approached with a triple-RB strategy, or RB-RB-RB. If you go after your draft that way, it’s crucial to build in as much safety and upside as possible. Yesterday, I used the RotoViz RB Custom Cheat Sheet to project the Top 45 runners (rookies excluded). Ray Rice, Alfred Morris, and DeMarco Murray appeared to be very underrated options, while Adrian Peterson’s projection again trailed the RB1 pack.

And now a quick reminder of previous content…

Of course, if you don’t like projections based on what actually happened last year, RotoViz has another solution. They also have a RB Sim Score Lab where you can create your own hypothetical runner.  I recently used this tool to create complete projections for the Top 50 runners.

Part 1 RB1-RB20: In something of a shocker, Trent Richardson finished No. 1. I’d expect you to immediately move Cerberus to the top of your board, but if you check out the article and the methodology, I think you’ll find yourself a lot more willing to use a mid-first round pick on him. (And be excited to pounce if he falls toward the end of the round.) Jamaal CharlesDoug Martin, and C.J. Spiller all perform very well, while Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster struggle a little.

Part 2 RB21-50Lamar Miller leads this group, although he would have placed even higher if I hadn’t broken the players into two groups by current ADP. He’s joined near the top by David Wilson, or the World Turtle, as I like to call him. In this section we see players high profile and contentious players like Ryan MathewsChris Ivory, and Mark Ingram.

As a quick reminder, my two most popular posts on RotoViz continue to be Cecil Shorts, Stevie Johnson, and the 10 Most Undervalued Players, and Ryan Mathews, Jacquizz Rodgers, and How to Lose a Fantasy League in 10 Picks. Check them out on your way to a title.

Follow the Banana Stand on Twitter.

If you’d like to support the Banana Stand and simultaneously purchase the service that helped us win the 2013 NFFC Primetime Championship, please subscribe to RotoViz through our site. We receive half of the proceeds and you get the best fantasy information on the planet. Alternatively, if you want to support the site by doing something you’re almost certainly going to do anyway, consider making your Amazon purchases through our link at the top right. You get exactly the same price, and we make a tiny percentage that could help us keep the site alive. (I also strongly recommend the listed fantasy football books written by friends of the site.) To those who have been Banana Stand readers from the start, thank you. Your enthusiasm has helped us make it this far, and hopefully this is just the beginning.

 

PFF Fanium Draft – Rounds 5 through 8

 

walter

If you haven’t already, check out the first four rounds of the PFF Fanium Draft. My philosophy at the Banana Stand is to provide content with content, but sometimes that means pointing you in the direction of the actionable info craved by true football fans (and fans of dominating fantasy leagues). In this piece I’m giving you a quick snapshot of how the PFF writers approached the Fanium format and links to ridiculously deep content on the players involved.

Round 5

41. Vernon Davis – Jonathan Bales does an excellent job covering Davis’ prospects in The Tight End Volatility Rankings.

42. Sam Bradford – This is a Bryan Fontaine special and shouldn’t be surprising since PFF’s reigning dynasty champion thinks the Rams signal caller could throw for 50 touchdowns. I am much more skeptical of his chances. (For those new to the format, keep in mind that this is an ultra-QB-heavy league.)

43. Reggie Wayne – Wayne’s efficiency is collapsing.

44. Marques Colston – Colston is a RotoViz favorite who projects better even than Julio Jones and A.J. Green.

45. Pierre Garcon – A pure lottery pick, Garcon was up with Andre Johnson in yards per route.

46. Steven Jackson – Jackson’s outlook in St. Louis makes him a Matthew Freedman pick for fantasy MVP. I’m worried that S-Jax has appeared visibly slower the last several years and could barely change direction at all in the first preseason game.

47. Vincent JacksonThe most underrated player in fantasy?

48. Reggie Bush – Another Freedman special, I’m moving higher on Bush than Jackson.

Round 6

49. Danny AmendolaWelker 2.0 might be my favorite player for PFF’s unbelievably cool contest, Going Deep.

50. Maurice Jones-Drew – Varoon Bose and J.J. Zachariason weigh in on MJD.

51. Kyle Rudolph – Rudolph is one of the 10 Most Overrated Players in fantasy. I expect him to finish outside the Top 15 tight ends.

52. Dwayne Bowe – Davis Mattek points out how the Andy Reid teams like to spread the ball around. This is a legitimate concern, but I think Bowe in his prime is the second best wide receiver to ever play for Reid.

53. Wes Welker – Another player who would have to hit his absolute ceiling to return value at his ADP, Welker is an example of a player even the experts are missing badly on.

54. Jordy Nelson – If you haven’t read Jon Moore’s take on Jordy Nelson, you could be missing a golden opportunity for value. Get him now while he has a double injury discount.

55. Jermichael Finley – Ridiculously under the radar, Finley’s ADP represents an obvious and easily playable inefficiency.

56. Stevan RidleyRidley is the RB2 on my All-Trap Team. (If there’s a takeaway from Week 1 of the preseason it’s that everyone is going to look awesome against Philadelphia.)

Round 7

57. Darren SprolesSproles came in No. 33 in my RB rankings, which is probably too low. But that’s the beauty of Sim Scores. They tend to see things we can’t.

58. Torrey Smith – Bryan Fontaine is all Torrey Smith all the time.

59. Hakeem Nicks – I’m starting to feel like Nicks will either be dominant or worthless. He’s a difficult fit in a league where the cost to also own Rueben Randle is pretty steep.

60. Ben Roethlisberger – I’m expecting a massive season from Big Ben, but also check out his schedule concerns.

61. Eric DeckerNo. 3 on my Undervalued List, Decker could be this year’s James Jones (but, you know, also be a decent all around receiver).

62. Owen Daniels – I’m high on Daniels because Matt Schaub is going to make everybody remember 2009 while DeAndre Hopkins opens the field for the underrated tight end.

63. Darren McFaddenInjury-prone runners see their stocks crushed in this format.

64. Steve Smith – Could Smith be undervalued because of his potential role in the slot?

Round 8

65. DeMarco Murray – If you’re about to start a Fanium draft, consider how far the runners are falling. But there’s no format in which a potential post-hype superstar should be immediately followed by Cook, Wallace, and Eli.

66. Jared Cook – I’ve broken down the Bradford/Cook lovefest and suggested both players are individually overrated and a trap tandem. I’ve also updated that analysis to move into the neutral camp on Cook.

67. Mike Wallace – The arrow has always been pointing down on Wallace and now it’s fallen on the floor.

68. Eli Manning – This is the perfect year for Late Round QB, but there are still dangers. Eli is the perfect example of how not to play LRQB.

Okay, you get the idea. I had a blast with the Fanium draft. Moreover, you can use the same tools to crush your opponents in this novel format as you can in more traditional leagues. If you haven’t purchased the PFF Draft Guide and subscribed to Fantasy Gold, you’re going to miss out on features from award-winning writers along with reel upon reel of advanced stats that simply don’t exist anywhere else. If you aren’t on RotoViz taking advantage of the apps, well, your competitors are and when you meet them on the field of play or on the computer or in the box score . . .

You can now also follow and/or heckle the Banana Stand on twitter. No word yet on when the first actual tweet will occur. But it’s coming.

Shawn Siegele has finished in the Top 10 of the NFFC’s Main Event Classic for two consecutive seasons and is one of only a handful of players to own three or more Main Event league titles. He also contributes to Rotoviz and works as Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

An Awesome New Format/Platform – Fanium Draft Results

I’m currently involved in a drafting an 8-team league through Fanium – download the app at Google Play/itunes – with a novel scoring and roster approach. It’s 2-QB, 2-RB, 4-WR, 2-TE and the points are essentially doubled for running and receiving yards.

This is a PFF staff draft, and the results have been fascinating in the early going. I’ll try to keep you updated as we go along. (Update: In my hurry to get the picks out Wednesday afternoon, I skipped a portion of Round 3. Be sure to note who was selected in that area if you’re interested.)

Picks 37, 38, and 39 are in.

Round 1

1. Jeff Ratcliffe – Adrian Peterson.

My thoughts: This is a decent format for Peterson, but I still think he shouldn’t be a Top 5 pick. For a full breakdown of Peterson’s prospects, try Weird Science: Breaking Down the Strange Projection for Purple Jesus.

2. Ross Miles – Jamaal Charles

My thoughts: Charles ranks No. 3 on my running back board and is a candidate to break the single-season yards from scrimmage record.

3. Alex Miglio – Calvin Johnson

My thoughts: Megatron is the poster boy for Why Cheaper Isn’t Necessarily Better. He would have probably been my choice at No. 1.

4. Banana Stand – Jimmy Graham

My thoughts: Leagues with fewer than 12 teams become increasingly BPA. This is a very TE-heavy format, and Graham is the one player who has no peer at his position.

5. Scott Spratt – Aaron Rodgers

My thoughts: Quarterbacks have been going very late in PFF mocks, but Rodgers looks better in 2-QB formats. He’s the No. 1 player in my QB Safety Rankings and a guy I’d build my strategy around.

6. Kevin Greenstein – Arian Foster

My thoughts: I have Foster as my No. 6 runner, and I’d be nervous selecting him early with the injury issues.

7. Bryan Fontaine – Doug Martin

My thoughts: Martin is the clear No. 1 in most formats – if not necessarily this one – and the headliner for my fancifully titled Eternal Sunshine post.

8. Mike Clay – Drew Brees

My thoughts: I’m avoiding Brees this season. He may be the ringleader of the Great QB Conspiracy.

Round 2

9. Mike Clay – Brandon Marshall

My thoughts: Marshall clipped Calvin Johnson for No. 1 in my most recent WR projections. He should be one of the top four players in this format and represents quite a bargain here.

10. Bryan Fontaine – LeSean McCoy

My thoughts: McCoy is the RB1 on my All-Trap Team. Bryan is a big C.J. Spiller fan, so this was an upset pick.

11. Kevin Greenstein – Cam Newton

My thoughts: No format has ever been as favorable for rushing QBs as this one. Newton seems like the biggest early round value at QB.

12. Scott Spratt – Ray Rice

My thoughts: Reports of Rice‘s demise are greatly exaggerated. This was a very safe pick.

13. Banana Stand – C.J. Spiller

My thoughts: Spiller was the other guy I was considering at No. 4. I didn’t think there was any chance he would come back around.

14. Alex Miglio – Peyton Manning

My thoughts: Manning also stars on my Trap Team. I think you need rushing yards to select a QB this high.

15. Ross Miles – Robert Griffin III

My thoughts: RG3 may be the best player in football by year’s end.

16. Jeff Ratcliffe – Tom Brady

My thoughts: This league penalizes -3 for INTs, so Brady appears to be a good fit. Unfortunately, both Matt Schaub and Philip Rivers had better PFF passer ratings than Brady a year ago.

Round 3

17. Jeff Ratcliffe – Rob Gronkowski

My thoughts: I selected Gronk with my second round pick in the RDL. If healthy, he would be the No. 1 player in this format.

18. Ross Miles – Colin Kaepernick

My thoughts: Kaepernick is one of only three players from the QB1 tier whom I recommend building around. He’s a superstar and perfect fit for this run-heavy system. He might be the pick of the draft so far.

19. Alex Miglio – A.J. Green

My thoughts: Green is probably a little overvalued this season, but Alex is putting together an elite WR lineup. Megatron-Green is the perfect 1-2 for a 4-WR league.

20. Banana Stand – Trent Richardson

My thoughts: Richardson was the No. 1 running back in my recent projections for RotoViz (using the groundbreaking RB Sim Score Lab). I wanted to select a wide receiver here, but Cerberus was simply too good to pass up.

21. Scott Spratt – Marshawn Lynch

My thoughts: Lynch often comes in so low on my board that I forget to even include his projection. But I’ve been wrong on Skittles before.

22. Kevin Greenstein – Dez Bryant

My thoughts: Bryant was selected No. 3 overall in the RotoViz Dynasty Startup. He has gigantic upside in this format.

23. Bryan Fontaine – Demaryius Thomas

My thoughts: Demaryius Thomas was the linchpin for my successful NFFC teams from last year and I like him to improve slightly on those numbers. Charles Kleinheksel loves him as well and has written this excellent profile for RotoViz.

24. Mike Clay – Russell Wilson

My thoughts: Wilson was one of only three QB1 candidates who is not a part of the Great QB Conspiracy. He’s perfect for this format.

Round 4

25. Mike Clay – Jason Witten

My thoughts: Witten would have been my pick if he’d lasted. Tight end is a lot shallower than quarterback.

26. Bryan Fontaine – Julio Jones

My thoughts: Jones is a player whose value is heavily dependent on format. I selected him in the first round of the RDL, but also feature him as an example of How To Lose a Fantasy League in 10 Picks. He’s a good fit for this league.

27. Kevin Greenstein – Matt Ryan

My thoughts: Ryan is the QB I contrasted with Aaron Rodgers in Why Cheaper Isn’t Always Better. (He’s a strong early candidate for 2013 Player I’m Completely Wrong About.)

28. Scott Spratt – Matthew Stafford

My thoughts: Stafford is my favorite reality quarterback but not a good redraft value. There are a lot of reasons to believe he’ll underperform 2012 instead of bouncing back.

29. Banana Stand – Andre Johnson

My thoughts: Andre1500 ranks No. 6 on my list of the 10 Most Undervalued Players. I’ve recently soured on him a little, but he’s the perfect WR1 in a yardage-heavy league.

30. Alex Miglio – Tony Romo

My thoughts: Romo is one of my favorites this season. He’s No. 8 in the QB Safety Rankings, making him a discount here (at least relative to where the other quarterbacks have been selected).

31. Ross Miles – Roddy White

My thoughts: Roddy White shockingly came in at No. 3 in my complete projections of the Top 40 WRs. I wouldn’t select him quite that high, but he’s a value here.

32. Jeff Ratcliffe – Andrew Luck

My thoughts: Luck ranks No. 20 in the QB Safety Ratings. That doesn’t mean he can’t win fantasy titles, just that he’s an incredibly risky pick. After you’ve read Davis Mattek’s breakdown of the Pep Hamilton offense, you probably won’t be enthusiastic about Luck’s prospects.

 Round 5

33. Jeff Ratcliffe – Larry Fitzgerald

My thoughts: Fitzgerald should be able to accomplish everything Reggie Wayne managed last year and more. (For an important contrary take, check out Mattek’s exhaustive look at Fitzgerald’s prospects.)

34. Ross Miles – Tony Gonzalez

My thoughts: The creator of the Iron Throne league is having a great draft. I suggested Gonzalez was overrated in my breakdown of the Going Deep Expert Mock, but he’s a good value here.

35. Alex Miglio – Chris Johnson

My thoughts: Chris Johnson could very easily be the best value in 2013 fantasy leagues. Based on a handful of surprising advanced splits, I like him to have a massive bounceback season. Choosing between CJ2K and Julio Jones will be the key decision in many drafts this fall.

36. Banana StandAlfred Morris

My thoughts: This is a controversial selection since I’m drafting a bench player with my fifth pick even though I need six more starters. But I’m fond of drafting unbalanced lineups and rostering three of the Top 10 runners should be valuable even in a 2-RB system. I won’t have to worry about bye weeks or hold my breath every time Spiller or Richardson tweaks something. There’s nothing to distinguish the next 50 players at my positions of need, so I won’t fall victim to runs by reaching.

Moreover, I’ve spilled more virtual ink writing about Alfred Morris than any other player this offseason. He’s going to be the next Terrell Davis and ranks among the 10 Most Undervalued fantasy players in the NFL. Almost all reports out of Washington suggest 2012 was only the beginning.

37. Scott Spratt – Victor Cruz

My thoughts: Cruz had an other quietly superb season in 2012 and is probably undervalued this season.

38. Kevin Greenstein – Matt Forte

My thoughts: Runners continue to be incredibly devalued in this format. I have Forte ahead of LeSean McCoy – who went No. 10 overall – at least in part due to Kleinheksel’s superb research.

39. Bryan Fontaine – Greg Olsen

My thoughts: Olsen is a RotoViz favorite, but I’m not sure he separates much from the next pack of tight end targets.

40. Mike Clay – Randle Cobb

My thoughts: Cobb is a player I’m selling at his ADP, but he’s a high floor guy who won’t cost you a title even if he doesn’t carry you.

To Be Continued . . .

Shawn Siegele has finished in the Top 10 of the NFFC’s Main Event Classic for two consecutive seasons and is one of only a handful of players to own three or more Main Event league titles. He also contributes to Rotoviz and works as Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.