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The FFPC Pros Vs. Joes Challenge: Ten Best Ball Questions

leseanmccoy

Each year, the Fantasy Football Players Championship in collaboration with Fantasy Mojo hosts the Pros Vs. Joes Challenge, a contest in which 36 industry writers (the Pros) and 36 high stakes players (the Joes) compete against each other through six 12-team leagues. Darren Armani of Fantasy Mojo created the contest in 2009. Each of the six league winners will receive a free entry into the 2015 FFPC Main Event, which has a value of $1,825—and the overall winner of the entire event is recognized as ruler of the underworld. Since the contest started, a Pro has never won the overall contest.

This year, Aaron Messing and I will attempt to fix that problem as we represent RotoViz in the contest. To prepare for our draft (in the Munsters Division)—which takes place tonight, July 21, 2014, at 9:00 PM ET—I last night followed the first of the six drafts, 1 which (as all six drafts will be) was broadcast by Eric Balkman and Dave Gerczak on the High Stakes Fantasy Football Hour blog talk radio show and viewable live on YouTube. Tune in tonight if you want to watch Messing and I do RotoViz proud, and in particular listen to the HSFF radio show at 10:00 PM ET, when I plan on calling in to talk about the ongoing draft and my patent-pending early-round kicker strategy.2

In tracking the Hong Kong Phooey draft last night, I was fascinated by how the draft unfolded. Here’s the board for your viewing pleasure:

projoe

If you want to see what this looks like when broken down into positions, here’s a table showing the number of players at which position who had been selected by the end of each round:

Round

QB

RB

WR

TE

DST

K

Total Picks

1

0

7

4

1

0

0

12

2

1

12

8

3

0

0

24

3

2

18

12

4

0

0

36

4

3

22

18

5

0

0

48

5

3

28

22

7

0

0

60

6

4

29

28

11

0

0

72

7

7

33

33

11

0

0

84

8

8

38

36

13

1

0

96

9

8

42

41

16

1

0

108

10

9

46

47

17

1

0

120

11

12

48

50

21

1

0

132

12

16

52

53

22

1

0

144

13

21

55

55

24

1

0

156

14

24

58

61

24

1

0

168

15

25

62

66

25

1

1

180

16

25

66

69

27

4

1

192

17

27

67

74

27

8

1

204

18

28

69

74

31

13

1

216

19

30

71

76

34

14

3

228

20

31

72

77

36

17

7

240

21

31

75

82

36

18

10

252

22

31

76

84

36

20

17

264

23

34

76

87

36

21

22

276

24

35

78

88

38

23

26

288

25

35

82

90

39

26

28

300

26

36

84

91

42

31

28

312

27

38

88

94

44

31

29

324

28

41

92

98

44

31

30

336

After the draft finished, I had a lot of immediate thoughts swirling through my head, and these thoughts materialized themselves into ten questions, which I will know present to you. If you have opinions about or some answers to these questions, feel free to post them in the comments. Who knows?—maybe something you say will influence the way I approach the draft tonight.

[By the way, the format is points per reception best ball. Tight ends get 1.5 PPR, and quarterbacks get 4 pts/PaTD and 1 pt/20 PaYds.]

Question #1: How Do I Rank The Top Six Players?
I pick at 1.05. Running back Jamaal Charles will certainly be gone by then, but after that I’m unsure about how I rank RBs LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and TE Jimmy Graham.3 I generally have the RBs ranked in the order I listed them, but I’m not sure where I have should have McCoy in relation to Megatron and The Queen. How highly should I value the receivers in this format?

Question #2: What is the Optimal Positional Breakdown?
Kevin Cole has written about optimal roster construction for the My Fantasy League best ball format, which features a 22-round draft. But what about a 28-round draft? As the starting lineup is one QB, two RBs, two WRs, one TE, two flexes, one defense, and one kicker, my general inclination is to go with 3QB, 6RB, 10WR, 3TE, 3DST, and 3K, although I am open to moving some numbers around at the RB, WR, and TE positions. Does this seem reasonable? The distribution between RB and WR could fluctuate, but in general I think I might be best served by drafting 3 each of QB, TE, DST, and K. Agree?

Question #3: Should I Go RBx6?
Last year, while I was touting the strategy known as RBx5, which Shawn Siegele called “morbidly spectacular,” Shawn was employing the extraordinary Zero RB Strategy. This year, Shawn has suggested that drafters use a Zero WR Strategy, which is basically a version of RBx5 without the mandate that one must select only RBs, and I’ve upped the ante by suggesting the robust RBx6 Strategy, or, as I refer to it, “RB Sex.”

Such a top-heavy RB draft strategy might seem crazy—and it is—but it would at least enable me (in theory) to withstand injuries to the position and under performance by high-round selections, and it could also result in my having a few top-10 RB performances each week. Additionally, RBx6 would free me up thereafter to grab all the mid- and late-round WRs, TEs, and QBs I want without needing to address the RB position again. Is this something I should seriously consider?

Question #4: Why Should I Go RBx6?
RBx6 seems like the dumbest idea ever when one considers that I could just draft three RBs early and then get their handcuffs late. Right? RIGHT?!

Question #5: Should I Consider Handcuffing my WRs?
On the topic of handcuffs, should I think about using them with my WRs? Or, more generally, is it advisable for me to seek (or purposely stay away from) same-team WR combinations? If I draft Andre Johnson, should I automatically look to draft—or explicitly not to draft—DeAndre Hopkins? What about Megatron and Golden Tate? A.J. Green and Marvin Jones? Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery? Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb? Julio Jones and Roddy White? Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans? T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne? Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks? Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline? Maybe even Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods? When does it make sense to target (or strictly avoid) WR combos?

Question #6: Is it the Worst Idea Ever to Try to Draft the Top Three DST and Ks? Yes?
The idea behind drafting three DSTs and three Ks is to benefit from the volatility that those positions provide, so (in theory) one doesn’t need to draft great players at these positions because the volatility of even average (or maybe even bad players) will provide a startable player each week. But here’s a thought: If I go (relatively speaking) early-round DST and K, ending up with Seattle, Carolina, and San Francisco’s DST and Matt Prater, Stephen Gostkowski, and maybe Justin Tucker or Mason Crosby, wouldn’t I potentially benefit from higher-quality volatility? Instead of having an average high of 12 pts from my K each week, might I not get 15-17 pts? And wouldn’t the same potentially apply to the DST? I know this sounds like the worst idea ever . . .but is it?

Question #7: IF I go early-round DST and K, can I live with my QBs? (How Late is too Late for Late-Round QB)
Using six high-ish spots on DST and K would mean that I might end up with some combination of Carson Palmer and then Matt CasselTeddy Bridgewater or Chad HenneBlake Bortles at QB. Hell, I’d be lucky if Matt Schaub or Ryan Fitzpatrick fell to me if a take my DSTs and Ks early. On top of how crazy it would be to use high picks on DST and K anyway, wouldn’t my resulting QB group especially make that strategy untenable? But, more importantly—whether I go early DST and K or not—how late is too late for late-round QB?

Question #8: Could I Survive With a Dumpster Fire TE Corps?
What made me think of the early DST and K strategy in the first place was this morbid thought: If I had to use a dumpster fire TE corps of Ryan Griffin, Joseph Fauria, and Brent Celek, 1) could I make that work and 2) what would I do with the picks I’d normally spend on TE? My answer to #2 was the stupid early DST and K thought experiment. My answer to #1 is . . . I think that Griffin, Fauria, and Celek are all extremely undervalued, especially the latter two, who both were unclaimed in last night’s draft.4

Look, I know that in this TE premium format good TEs seem especially important—but Griffin has a chance to be Rob Gronkowski-esque beast in Bill O’Brien’s Texans offense. A second-year breakout could occur. Meanwhile, Fauria scored seven touchdowns last year, and I’m not expecting much from the rookie Eric Ebron and the underwhelming Brandon Pettigrew. If Fauria turned into a part-time Jimmy Graham impersonator in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s system, I wouldn’t be surprised. And Celek . . . he’s still the starting TE for Chip Kelly’s offense! And he’s had significant fantasy seasons in the past. Hell, at least in standard leagues he was the #14 TE last year—and no one seems to remember that. I think Zach Ertz is likely to advance this year, but Celek should still see plenty of action in two-TE sets and probably even on single-TE sets, because he can block much better than Ertz and the Eagles are fundamentally a running team.

I highly doubt that it would be optimal to have these guys as my only TEs—but if they were my only TEs could I survive?

Question #9: Where are all the RotoViz Reaches?
Last night, 98 WRs were selected—and not among them were many of the younger WRs who are RotoViz favorites, guys we’d reach for in dynasty drafts. I’m not going to list all the undrafted WRs who I think should’ve been drafted, but you can probably go through the list above for yourself and get a sense of the players who aren’t there. Just as a frame of reference, know that Stephen Hill wasn’t selected till Round 27 and Eddie Royal, Marlon Brown, and Jarvis Landry, going in Round 28, were the draft’s final WRs. Suffice it to say, I think I know what I’ll be doing in the final rounds. Don’t you?

Question #10: Which Should I Value—Volatility or Consistency?
In general I think that high-upside volatile players, especially in the late rounds, are good for the best ball format, but I’ve also been advised that it’s best to select players who actually have a good chance of being on the field. I’m not sure which is best. For instance, Mike Tolbert was the #71 RB drafted last night. Barring injury, he will far surpass that positional ranking by the end of the season: In standard formats he’s been a top-40 RB for the last four years. But despite the value that Tolbert presents, do I really want him on my team? Is he likely ever to score enough in any given week actually to break my starting lineup? Wouldn’t it be better to select a high-upside player who, if he sees the field, has the true potential to be a major contributor? I’m honestly not sure. What do you think?

Again, if you have opinions about or answers to these questions, feel free to post them in the comments.

Also, be sure to tune in tonight to follow the Munsters Division draft as Aaron Messing and I tonight represent RotoViz. You can follow along on the High Stakes Fantasy Football Hour blog talk radio show and on YouTube. I plan on calling the HSFF radio show at 10:00 PM ET.

On behalf of Aaron and myself, I want to thank all the RotoViz writers and readers for your support and feedback. We’ll do our best to bring all of you the championship.

  1. for the Hong Kong Phooey Division  (back)
  2. I’m half joking.  (back)
  3. In the draft last night, Shady went at 1.05.  (back)
  4. Griffin was drafted in the penultimate round.  (back)

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