After making the playoffs in the 2014 Scott Fish Bowl but failing to advance because of weaknesses at certain positions, I decided that I needed to really dig into why I didn’t reach the winner’s circle.
— Mike Rigz (@MikeRigz) July 7, 2015
My strategy in 2014 was to load up early on receivers and tight ends who would see significant volume. As a league that awarded one full point per reception, I thought I could gain an edge with a few players who were averaging around five receptions per game in 2013. I drafted Dez Bryant in Round 1, Antonio Brown in Round 2 and Julius Thomas in Round 3. I mainly focused on drafting receivers, and I thought that I could skimp by on the running back position. I concluded the year with a pretty solid receiving core of Bryant, Brown, Kelvin Benjamin and Mike Wallace. While I did make the playoffs, Ryan Mathews, Maurice Jones-Drew, Frank Gore, Charles Sims, Christine Michael, Bryce Brown, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Jonathan Franklin didn’t offer me much value at the running back position. Some of those players weren’t even in the league by the end of the season. My one saving grace was drafting Justin Forsett in the last round of the draft.
I was way too cute with my running back selections, and I relied on way too many backups who needed chance circumstances to become Fantasy relevant. I also whiffed at the tight end position. Thomas looked like a good pick at the start of the season, but it turned out that I overpaid for him. I also overpaid for Eric Ebron in Round 10, and I had too much faith in the first-year tight end. I found average results at the quarterback position with Eli Manning (12th-highest scoring qb in the format) and Colin Kaepernick (14th-highest scoring qb in the format), so my success boiled down to my receivers. After taking my lumps in the 2014 Scott Fish Bowl and reviewing the winning lineup, I knew that I placed too much emphasis on the wide receiver position because of the point per reception format. Before anyone freaks out and thinks I just said the wide receiver position wasn’t important, realize that I am talking about my own results. My emphasis on receivers hurt my team in this format.
How could I achieve better results in 2015?
2015 Scott Fish Bowl
Next year I think we’ll need the #SFB360 tag and have each division have a tag in their header… so people can talk about their own div too
— #SFB360 FishBowl (@SFBowl) July 10, 2015
I had a plan to draft receivers or tight ends early at all costs last year, but I decided to watch how the draft unfolded in 2015. Eddie Lacy fell to me with the fifth pick in the draft, and as you could see from my article in June on FantasyPros, I thought Lacy should be the first running back off the board. Taking the “wait and see” approach, three quarterbacks were selected before it was my pick in Round 2, and Marshawn Lynch was still on the board by the eighth pick. With an average of 17.5 rushing attempts per game in 2014, Lynch is certainly a player who can take advantage of the .25 points per rushing attempt scoring system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxqOwch3hS8
It was very tempting in Round 3 to select Mike Evans. I started off with two great running backs, and it would make sense for me to focus my attention on building a well-rounded team with Evans as my first receiver. Before the draft, however, I stumbled upon a book that caught my eye. Professor David McAdams wrote Game-Changer: Game Theory and the Art of Transforming Strategic Situations, and the book focused on topics such as dominant strategies and payoff matrixes. I actually contacted Professor McAdams, and although his book focuses on much more important things than Fantasy Football, he was very gracious when I approached him about the concepts in his book relating to Fantasy Football. I wrote an article about how his work relates to strategies in Fantasy sports.
The idea of zigging while others are zagging can offer great results, but I wanted to do more than just go against the grain. Professor McAdams states that everyone is worse off when each player plays a dominant strategy in a contest, and utilizing a completely different strategy can be one of the best ways to counter the plans of others and offer positive results. So with the third pick, I decided to draft Alfred Morris. At this point, Le’Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson, Lacy, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, DeMarco Murray, Arian Foster, Matt Forte, Lynch, C.J. Anderson, Jeremy Hill and Forsett were all off the board. I’m not a fan of the Carlos Hyde/Mark Ingram type of players available in the late part of Round 3 or the early part of Round 4, so my goal was simply to try and cause as much disruption as possible. For anyone who planned to draft Morris in Round 4, I wanted to try and create a mini panic.
Players who drafted quarterbacks or wide receivers in Rounds 1-3 may start to feel a little worried about the running back depth pool. This could potentially cause a run on the position, which would open up more options for me in the receiver department. I didn’t have the greatest set of quarterbacks last season, so why did I continue to pass on elite and strong quarterback talent once again in 2015?
The Scott Fish Bowl and the Quarterback Position
It’s been 633 days since Sam Bradford’s last start. — Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) July 15, 2015
This year, the format does not penalize quarterbacks for interceptions. Also, the .25 points per rushing attempt is a nice little bonus for Russell Wilson and Cam Newton owners. It can be pretty intimidating to see a team start off with Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, but I was intrigued by Ryan McKee’s team from last season (2014 Scott Fish Bowl Winner).
Here are the quarterbacks McKee drafted last year:
QB- Tony Romo
QB- Johnny Manziel
QB- Brian Hoyer
QB- Ryan Mallet
QB- Matt Flynn
These were McKee’s quarterbacks at the end of the season: *Red names marks players not selected in draft*
QB- Brian Hoyer
QB- Johnny Manziel
QB- Brock Osweiler
QB- Tony Romo
QB- Mark Sanchez
McKee got it done with Romo (the 15th-highest scoring quarterback in the Scott Fish Bowl and Sanchez (a waiver wire pickup). Of course, this is just one team in one season, but McKee’s results offered me comfort that I could wait to add my starting quarterbacks if I so chose to do. Though, I am not looking forward to playing the team with Luck and Peyton.
I pulled the trigger on Sam Bradford in Round 8. I knew I had to protect my investment in Bradford with Sanchez, so I acquired him in Round 14. I might have been able to wait on the main known for the butt fumble, but I didn’t want anyone else to have him. Either way, I will have the upside of owning a quarterback on the Eagles. I followed my selection of Bradford in Round 8 with Jameis Winston in Round 9. I love Winston’s weapons: Evans, Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and pass-catching backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims. These targets will help Winston grow, be it will be up to the rookie quarterback on how well he handles adversity and how quickly he can adapt to the NFL.
E.J. Manuel was still hanging around in Round 17, which it appeared that a lot of other players may have been waiting to grab him as well. After I selected Manuel in the middle of Round 17, Hoyer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jimmy Garoppolo and Ryan Mallet were all selected between Rounds 17-18. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to pair Manuel with Tyrod Taylor, but Taylor was snagged a few picks after I selected Zac Stacy in Round 21.
Tight End Upgrades
The NFL is just like any other job in the sense that people can always improve and reach new levels of production. Also like any job, however, you will have people who are content with their position and skill set. There are people who think they are already at the top of their game, and there are individuals who don’t have the desire to improve. You have to filter through generalities, but I like the fact that Zach Ertz took the initiative to meet with Tony Gonzalez to pick his brain. He was also humble enough to talk about the experience on his blog. His blocking abilities kept him sidelined in favor of Brent Celek, but Ertz isn’t too proud to admit that he needed to improve.
Stories of Ertz connecting with Bradford help to swing votes in Ertz’s favor, but I think an improvement in blocking is the most important factor to consider. If the third-year tight end is a better blocker, then he should see the field more. If he is on the field more, he will have the ability to earn more opportunities.
Tight ends seemed undervalued, and I was happy to land Delanie Walker in Round 10. Although they will probably not offer the same upside as my RotoBowl pairing of Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen, Walker should offer steady consistency in a PPR format. I wanted to add Seferian-Jenkins to my collection of tight ends, but I waited too long to give him a roster spot.
The tight end spot was very dicey by Round 19, but again, I didn’t want to leave Rob Housler available at the end of the draft incase anyone thought they could wait on him. Houser is only mentioned in passing in most Fantasy circles, so I like the fact that he is still pretty much off the radar. I don’t know how promising his future will be with Josh McCown or Manziel, but spending a pick in Round 19 isn’t going to hurt me if he is a bust.
Late-Round Wide Receivers
Group think is amazing. #SFB360 At 14.08, I passed on Dwayne Bowe for Charles Clay. Next pick, Bowe. 14th round, good value for a WR1.
— Scott Atkins (@RedBlueRadio) July 13, 2015
I didn’t necessary have a plan to start the draft, but I did want to focus on drafting receivers who are overlooked in the later rounds.
I mainly had my eye on Steve Smith Sr. and Anquan Boldin, but it turns out that my opponents did as well. Players are scared away from Dwayne Bowe for two reasons: he didn’t record a touchdown last season, and he plays for the Cleveland Browns. The touchdown situation was largely circumstantial and an anomaly. While the Browns may not be a powerhouse at the quarterback position, the team still can’t run the ball the entire game. I’ll be happy if Bowe puts up 800 yards and six-eight touchdowns.
I wondered how far Greg Jennings would fall, but I didn’t want to take a risk that he tickled someone’s fancy and let him get scooped up before I could draft him. DeVante Parker may or may not be available in Week 1, but it’s important to note that he is missing valuable time to build a rapport with Ryan Tannehill. Jennings gets the benefit of working with Tannehill before the start of the season, and he also offers value as veteran. His value may decline when Parker works his way into the offense, but he was brought in just to sit on the bench.
My other receiver strategy was to limit my risk similar to the Bradford/Sanchez selections. Brian Quick was on a roll in the begging of the season, posting 21 receptions, 322 yards and hauling in three touchdowns through four games. He quietly disappeared in his next three games and suffered a shoulder injury that made Week 8 his last appearance. I side on being cautious with Quick because there is only a limited set of data to judge his work off of, and it also worries me that he is gaining a herd behind him. Still, I like the upside of a 6-foot-3, 218-pound receiver who will benefit from a better quarterback situation.
I grabbed Kenny Britt to protect my investment if things don’t work out with Quick. His numbers weren’t amazing last season ( 748 yards and three touchdowns), but he is the next best option as a receiver. I can always drop Britt if he comes irrelevant, but I at least have him incase things don’t work out with quick.
Here is my full roster from the 2015 Scott Fish Bowl
I just spent about 2,000 words on my thought process and what I liked about my draft, but I also want to focus on what could go wrong.
Devastating Fantasy Football Scenarios
What if Mike Glennon starts over Winston? What if Matt Cassell or Taylor win the starting job and Bradford can’t start the season? I would be left with just Sanchez.
My quarterback selections could come back to haunt me, and most of my receivers are just serviceable and not elite. I don’t like the fact that I have to heavily rely on Robinson and Quick, and the rest of my receivers are not likely to offer consistent results from week to week. What happens if Benjamin goes down or underperforms? I was much more comfortable with the receivers I rolled out every week last year, so I will have to find out if I made a huge mistake or if I am able to get by with my choices.
I can’t say I have too many complaints at the running back position. Last year I went for sleepers and backups, but this year I chose serviceable players over players with just potential. I would have a pretty hard time starting Toby Gerhart, but he should at least have some involvement in the offense and could offer value if T.J. Yeldon is injured or ineffective. There is a scenario that could make Stacy worth starting, but it will be a stretch and a difficult road to get there.
Here’s what I’m looking at:
–Steven Ridley struggles to return from his ACL injury and starts the year on the PUP list
– The new regime is not big on Chris Ivory and limited his workload
– Bilal Powell is the main pass-catching back
If Stacy can prove that he can at least catch a few passes, and if he proves that he is a better rusher than Ivory, the brass may realize Stacy offers more valuable than the one-dimensional nature of the other running backs. It’s a stretch, and it’s more likely than not that Ivory will hold onto a major role and Powell will receive third-down work, so nothing much will change.
I also face the risk that my tight ends will not reach my expectations. Ertz could continue to lose time to Celek, Walker may lose value if Marcus Mariota does not rely on him and Housler has never recorded more than 454 receiving yards in a season. I imagine one of these backs has to offer value, but it could be a coin flip that lands on tails three times.
Scott Fish did another amazing job organizing the league, and I want to give a big shout out to MyFantasyLeague for hosting this beast. If you missed out on the fun you can sign up for 2016 here, and this is a great way to analyze different formats and bring the community together. You can also check out the #SFB360 hashtag on Twitter to see the teams of writers and fans.
Best of luck to all participants!
Ps. You do not draft kickers or defenses!
Categories: 2015 Fantasy Football