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Danny Amendola and Jason Witten Dominate PFF’s Going Deep

Jason Witten

In case you missed it, Pro Football Focus Fantasy is debuting their own paid fantasy game this season. As you would expect with anything PFF-related, it’s spectacular. First, it’s relatively low stakes at a $75 entry, so you can play without risking the nest egg. Second, it requires you to play a deep starting lineup of 13 players. If you read RotoViz, then this should be right up your alley.

The RotoViz Snake App was recently tweaked to allow you to put together a lineup specifically designed to dominate PFF’s Going Deep challenge. Since the lineup requires 1-QB, 3-RB, 6-WR, 2-TE, and 1-SuperFlex, I set the dials such that it would select a team that fit those parameters.

Drafting from the 4-spot, this is the team it generated.

Round Overall Conf. Based ADP Player POS Proj. Pts
1 4 4 Jamaal Charles RB 296.53
2 21 22 Reggie Bush RB 256.92
3 28 32 Andre Johnson WR 274.3
4 45 47 Danny Amendola WR 228.8
5 52 57 Jason Witten TE 263.8
6 69 72 Russell Wilson QB 274.83
7 76 84 Steve Johnson WR 216.98
8 93 93 Mike Williams WR 200.06
9 100 100 Lance Moore WR 193.52
10 117 120 Pierre Thomas RB 141.94
11 124 124 Ronnie Hillman RB 113.58
12 141 148 Kendall Wright WR 175.11
13 148 150 Josh Freeman QB 222.62
14 165 200 Greg Little WR 153
15 172 200 Rod Streater WR 147.6
16 189 200 Brandon Pettigrew TE 184.15


As I explained in Pierre Garcon, Andrew Luck, and the Ultimate Power Lineup, one of the great things about the app is the ability to blacklist certain players. The app uses the Fantasy Pros projections and ADP calculations, and you may not agree with a few of their numbers. I blacklisted Darren Sproles because I think his ADP is off and Reggie Wayne, Jacquizz Rodgers, Santonio Holmes, and Mike Goodson because their projections are wildly off.

The resulting lineup is one you should be able to use to destroy your leaguemates.

1. Jamaal Charles

The top three picks in almost all drafts are Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, and Arian Foster. Charles is starting to solidify himself at No. 4 overall. I recently wrote a Contrarian column for PFF looking at how Charles is probably the best pre-contact runner in recent history, but that he also excels after contact because he gains significantly more yardage per missed tackle than Adrian Peterson. If you combine that actionable info with Jacob Myers’ excellent article on how Andy Reid will throw rocket fuel on Charles’ prospects, an argument could be made that he should go No. 1

Further Research: Return of the Running Back

2. Reggie Bush

Both Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith placed among the Top 10 runners in 2011 on a per game basis. Last season Mikel Leshoure finished as RB18 despite missing two games and Joique Bell logged in at RB23 despite just picking up the crumbs. Even if you don’t think Bush is an elite runner – and you shouldn’t – it’s difficult to see how he could find himself outside the Top 10 in a healthy season. Matthew Freedman certainly doesn’t see any way it could happen.

Further Research: Reggie Bush Will Be the Fantasy MVP Runner Up, Part IV

3. Andre Johnson

I put together a thorough breakdown of Johnson’s prospects in Stevie Johnson, Cecil Shorts, and the 10 Most Undervalued Players. It’s simply astonishing that a receiver who posted 112 receptions and 1,598 yards could be going so late in drafts. Johnson was the linchpin for our earlier Ultimate Power Lineup and one of the key cog’s in James Goldstein’s seminal 10 WRs, 10 Ways To Win a Championship.

Further Research: Andre Johnson Doesn’t Care That You Think He’s Old

4. Danny Amendola

Amendola didn’t make the undervalued list, but I’m a little surprised he’s not going higher. I’ve done a lot of work on these guys for various PFF pieces and the differences between Amendola and Welker are very slight. But here’s the kicker:  Amendola will likely see as many as 50 more targets.  I certainly don’t understand how he can be going after Wes Welker, who features prominently on the Overvalued List.

There is one big red flag, however, and this is the point that drives the Fantasy Douche crazy. Fire up the QB to Receiver Efficiency App, and you discover this line for the 2012 Rams receivers.

Passer  Receiver  ATTS  RECS  YDS  TDS  INTS  AYA 
Sam Bradford Danny Amendola 100 62 670 2 2 6.2
Sam Bradford Brandon Gibson 82 51 691 5 2 8.55
Sam Bradford Chris Givens 80 42 698 3 1 8.91

Maybe Jeff Ireland was right in signing Brandon Gibson after all.

Further Research: Since this column is pointed at constructing the ideal lineup for the PFF Going Deep format, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the PFF Draft Guide is on sale now. In the guide, I wrote a feature examining Possession Receiver Sustainability using PFF’s unique and deep database. If you’re considering drafting any of the possession receivers this fall, you want to read that article.

5. Jason Witten

I’ve been strongly arguing for a late round tight end strategy this season, but a 2-TE format where they also receive a bonus .5 per reception changes up the equation. Check out his projection compared to a guy you might consider passing on Witten for.

Jason Witten Vernon Davis
Low 10.5 6.3
Median 12.4 7
High 13 8

Now the app doesn’t know Vernon Davis is likely to see an avalanche of targets in the absence of Michael Crabtree, but the app also doesn’t know the defense is likely going to prioritize taking away the 49ers’ only decent threat. And is he a decent threat? The app doesn’t know Vernon Davis is a better athlete than Calvin Johnson either. If it did, it might be even less sanguine on his prospects. (In case it’s not clear what I mean by that, if you’re a better athlete than Megatron and put up the career Davis has so far, should you really expect a breakout at age 29?)

Unless Rob Gronkowski makes a startling recovery, Witten is the clear No. 2 at the position this year. If there’s a question, it might be whether Fantasy Pros ADP is accurate.

Further Research: Top 10 Tight End Sleepers; Vernon Davis Poised for Return to Form

6. Russell Wilson

Wilson is a superstar. Can he be a high end QB1 in a run-oriented offense? I think he can, and so does James Todd who likes him a lot better than Andrew Luck.  Check out his excellent series on Wilson if you haven’t already.

Further Research: Wilson is great in the Red Zone and on Third Down; Dynasty Building Block: Russell Wilson

7. Stevie Johnson

I don’t have a lot more to say about Johnson that I didn’t cover in the Ultimate Power Lineup and the 10 Most Undervalued List. How about this: He’s being drafted 18 spots after Reggie Wayne despite having a far, far better RotoViz projection.

Further Research: Last Time We Checked, Stevie Johnson Was Coming Off Three 1,000 Yard Seasons

8. Mike Williams

If you’ve read The Contrarian: Mike Williams Dynasty Star, you know he finished with very similar numbers to Vincent Jackson in targets per snap and fantasy points per snap. You also know the two Tampa stars scored an identical 142.8 points from Week 8 on.

Williams is one of our favorite players at RotoViz. Jacob Myers believes he has more upside than Torrey Smith (and I agree). Our prolific Staff writer recently published the Williams Heat Map, a graphic that almost has to be seen to be believed. Williams is an elite red zone threat, which might make him a better buy than V-Jax even before you adjust for ADP.

Further Research: 10 Redraft Targets in 10 Days – Mike Williams

9. Lance Moore

Moore is another guy who shows up on almost every positive list we generate. Matt Rittle recently pointed out how he is still undervalued. He also landed on the Ultimate Power Lineup (so RotoViz and Fantasy Pros are in strong agreement on this one).

Further Research: Aaron Rodgers, Doug Martin, and the Eternal Sunshine of the Fantasy Mind

10. Pierre Thomas

Darren Sproles made the Most Overvalued List for a variety of reasons, but it didn’t help that Thomas has actually been the more efficient receiver over the past two years. When it comes to running ability, the gap between Thomas and Mark Ingram is even wider. Since Ingram joined the team, he’s generated 38 missed tackles on 295 touches. Thomas has almost doubled that with 63 on 304.

11. Ronnie Hillman

Sometimes it’s smarter to let the sleeper sleep.

12. Kendall Wright

We haven’t done a lot on Wright, possibly because he’s sandwiched between Kenny Britt and Justin Hunter in an offense run by Jake Locker. I’m not betting on a Wright breakout this season, but he’s good value here. If you fire up the WR Sim Scores, you find he also has an excellent Year-Over-Year Change Plot.

13. Josh Freeman

Jon Krouner and I have a rap battle on Freeman coming soon.

14. Greg Little

Do you also think it’s strange Jordan Cameron is a trendy sleeper and Greg Little isn’t being drafted? Little’s comps include Vincent Jackson’s 2007 season. That should grab your interest. My breakdown of Little versus Josh Gordon can be found in the further research.

Further Research: Top 10 Sleeper Wide Receivers

15. Rod Streater

Let’s take another quick look at QB to WR Efficiency.

Passer  Receiver  ATTS  RECS  YDS  TDS  INTS  AYA 
Carson Palmer Denarius Moore 102 48 731 6 5 6.14
Carson Palmer Darrius Heyward-Bey 68 37 562 4 1 8.78
Carson Palmer Rod Streater 64 33 491 3 2 7.20

DHB is gone and was pretty inefficient on the plays where he wasn’t targeted (a topic of another article). Denarius Moore took a massive step back as a second year player. Catching less than 50% of your targets and costing your quarterback almost as many interceptions as you scored touchdowns is not even replacement level.

Rod Streater was surprisingly good for an undrafted rookie and could see 130 targets this season.

Further research: Don’t Overlook Juron Criner!

16. Brandon Pettigrew

Pettigrew is a slow, stone-handed reality player who just happens to play in the NFL’s most pass-happy offense. He finished second at the position in targets when he was healthy in 2011. He’s a steal if you can get him this late.

Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

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