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Reverse Engineering a Monster – Using the FFPC Tools to Work Our Way from Round 20 to Round 11

With high stakes drafts happening fast and furious, Shawn Siegele uses the FFPC Redraft Dashboard to reverse engineer a roster.

As Curtis Patrick and I prepare for our FFPC Main Event draft in a few hours, it’s vital for us to know which players we might select late. If our late-round selections are mostly WRs, we might feel more comfortable deviating from Zero RB in the opening stanzas. If we prefer a string of six straight RBs from Round 11 to Round 16, it might push us more WR-heavy early. Do we like QBs extremely late, or are we loading up on the potentially elite players in the Round 8 to 12 range?

The Board

Today, we’re working our way from Round 20 to Round 11. I’ve set the ADP range to only pull in drafts from this Monday or later, so we have almost up-to-the-minute draft positions.

Options in the second half of fantasy drafts can come off the board at wildly different locations, so we know these players are not locked into these positions. The idea of this exercise is to make sure we have a good feel for potential scenarios.

Rounds 20-19

We’ll cordon off these picks for K and D as high-stakes champion Monty Phan recommends in his series on FFPC Tactics.

Round 18

The Options: D.J. Chark, Dare Ogunbowale, Mike Gesicki

Ogunbowale has been a revelation for the Buccaneers, impressing as a runner, blocker, and receiver. He’s already gone for over 100 yards from scrimmage in the preseason. Neil Dutton breaks down his prospects and explains why his receiving chops give him a chance to enliven a depressing Barber-Jones committee.

Chark doesn’t fit our second-year breakout WR criteria, but he’s interesting as a Freak Score standout on a wide-open depth chart in Jacksonville. He’s another camp MVP, but a Thursday night concussion gives him less Week 1 blow-up potential.

By all reports, Gesicki has been so terrible in camp that Miami is already coming to terms with the pick being a bust. He did flash for three catches and 59 yards in the third preseason game. Allen Iverson would be happy about Gesicki’s priorities,1 and Gesicki scored very well in the TE Prospect Model as he heads for the TE Breakout Window.

The Pick: Dare Ogunbowale

Round 17

The Options: Marquise Brown, Sam Darnold

You’re probably right to be skeptical of rookie WRs, but the trends are improving. From 2008 to 2018, the average score for 21- and 22-year-old, first-round WRs over the second half of the season is almost 10.9 PPG.

Unfortunately, Brown hasn’t been healthy during the offseason. He enters an offense with a very small receiving pie but little competition for slices. The Ravens rookie is likely to be dropped during the first month. Grabbing him at that point is a key part of building roster depth through waivers.

Darnold is the reason Denny Carter doesn’t draft QBs.

The Pick: D.J. Chark. In this exercise, we can still select from players who were available later, and that gives us a second shot at Chark.

Round 16

The Options: Gerald Everett, Tom Brady, Mitchell Trubisky

Everett has been my preferred late-round option in the MFL10 of Death and the Scott Fish Bowl. He’s a puff piece all-star in a big media market, but no one’s buying the hype. And there’s good reason. Despite what you often hear, The Wrong Read reminds us that top-100 picks at TE have their highest breakout rate in Year 2.

In his eye-opening Fantasy Football Multiverse series, Matt Jones uses the Projection Machine to explore a scenario where Trubisky becomes the highest-scoring QB in the NFC. Following a similar line of thought, Trubisky was my QB selection in a Draft Dashboard experiment where I drafted exclusively from explosive offenses.

Brady finished as QB11 during a down year in 2018, underlining his extreme value at an ADP of QB21. A few weeks ago his WR corps looked like the snow swept plains of Hoth. Now it looks like we could see a real snap battle to complement Julian Edelman. Josh Gordon, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, and even Demaryius Thomas could be in the mix.

The Pick: Tom Brady. Instead of trying to guess which receiver will win this battle, just select the QB and buy them as a bundle.

Round 15

The Options: N’Keal Harry, Zay Jones, Jalen Richard

The Gordon return threw a wrench into my Harry plans. His rookie-model projection is above the first-round rookie average I mentioned in the Marquise Brown section, and he looked like a Michael Thomas/Calvin Ridley hybrid before the depth chart got a lot more complicated. I was buying him all the way down during the Meyers Enthusiasm, but now he may be available as a waiver pickup three weeks into the season.

Zay Jones is the guy you buy in Buffalo if you want real points. Is a breakout likely? No. But he at least has all-around upside. There are notable differences, but Jones is the best candidate to be this year’s Tyler Boyd.

Ben Gretch discussed Richard with us on RotoViz Overtime, explaining his TRAP metric for locating backs who are fantasy viable on smaller workloads. Richard is one of the two RBs most likely to be this year’s James White, and he’s much less expensive than the actual James White.

The Pick: Jalen Richard. The No. 15 player in the Zero RB Countdown finds his way onto all of my teams.

Round 14

The Options: Mecole Hardman, Tre’Quan Smith

Tyreek Hill’s return sucked all the wind from the Hardman’s sails, but that breeze has been returning with two preseason receiving TDs. The dynasty thesis that I outlined after the NFL draft could come to fruition even with Hill in the picture.

The last couple of seasons I’ve been using “early declare” as one of the elements in my young WR model, and it’s one of the reasons that I recommended you load up on JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2018 even at his very healthy ADP.

Blair Andrews has been advancing our understanding of prospect projection – diving into RotoViz concepts like breakout ageDominator Rating, and more – in his fantastic series The Wrong Read.

Perhaps the most shocking is his look at the difference between declaring early and staying in school.

Hardman is an early declare and one of the youngest players in the class. Twenty-one-year-old early declares average well over 200 fantasy points in their first two seasons.

Meanwhile, Smith was a RotoViz favorite who teased in 2018, but even those brief moments in the spotlight made him a strong selection according to One Metric That Will Help You Locate Second-Year WR Breakouts.

The Pick: Mecole Hardman. It’s so difficult to get any Chiefs early, and knowing we have Hardman late will make it easier not to reach on Travis Kelce or Patrick Mahomes.

Round 13

The Options: Darren Waller, Lamar Jackson

We might have to reach on Waller in Round 12, but that reach could be worth it. Devin McIntyre explains why he’s likely to benefit from the Antonio Brown shenanigans.

Fortunately, we have a pretty good model for that outcome, since the Raiders ditched their star receiver on purpose last year after Week 6, when they traded Amari Cooper to the Cowboys. I’ve recreated the Raiders’ 2018 season post-Amari with help from the RotoViz Screener and the Player Usage App to get a sense of where all those extra WR1 targets were distributed.

When a WR1 goes missing, tight ends are often the biggest beneficiaries. Unlike RB, where a replacement back frequently absorbs the starter’s workload, lesser WRs can rarely carry the offense to the tune of 28 or 30 percent of team targets. The WR2 certainly gets a nice bump, but a receiving TE who can go from a 14 percent target share to a 19 percent share (or more) can become a top scorer for the position. Recent examples of this include Jared CookEvan EngramJack Doyle, and Cameron Brate.

If that excerpt doesn’t get you fired up to read more from Devin, I’m skeptical of your interest in fantasy football. Jump over and follow along as he takes you through a Projection Machine exercise with the Raiders.

Jackson is one of Denny Carter’s priority QB selections, and he was the focal point in my Superflex strategy for the RDL Reboot.

The Pick: Lamar Jackson. If Waller and Jackson don’t make it, we can always select Tre’Quan Smith.

Round 12

The Options: Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Kyler Murray, Drew Brees, Jamison Crowder, Nyheim Hines

As we move back into the heart of the draft, we start to have more options in each round. We won’t select a QB with two already on the roster, but it’s good to know that Murray might fall after the pre-Week 2 meltdown.

Crowder makes it through our filters when we’re looking for the most promising bounceback WRs.

Graham and Olsen offer veteran bounceback options at TE, the former exciting because of his placement with Aaron Rodgers, the latter a star who just needs to stay healthy. They both fit Monty’s TE selection criteria.

The Pick: Nyheim Hines. Hines is the other player I own absolutely everywhere.

Round 11

The Options: Cam Newton, Alexander Mattison, Devin Singletary, Anthony Miller

If you’re not targeting second-year breakout WRs, you’re giving away a key source of value. That was the thesis from my look at historical second-year breakouts,2 and it came with these specific takeaways:

  • 34 players broke out, including 14 first-round picks, nine second-round picks, and six third-round picks.
  • 16 of the breakouts improved their scores by at least 100 points.
  • Of the 32 players with a third season, 17 again returned WR2 value or better.
  • Second-year breakouts score an average of 200 points the subsequent year, a big jump from the third-fourth-, and fifth-year breakout classes.

Does Miller fit the criteria of a good second-year breakout candidate? He has a few flaws that I’ll explore next week, but he meets that same key screen we mentioned earlier in relationship to Tre’Quan Smith.

Mattison was my selection at 13.09 in the recent Apex Experts League, and the Vikings have been raving about him. Jordan Hoover makes a strong case for buying him despite the lack of long speed.

There are concerns about his likely workload if Dalvin Cook stays healthy. This was not a backfield that provided standalone value for the handcuff.

The Pick: Jimmy Graham. As we did once before, we reach into the group of players from the previous round.

What We’ve Learned

With all of the positions covered, we have plenty of flexibility late. Quarterback will not be a priority early, and there are enough TE options that we could pass on both the Big 3 and the intriguing second-tier options if we felt the cost was too high at those picks. In the unlikely event that it becomes necessary, RB and WR are both deep enough that we could counterbalance even extreme RB-heavy or WR-heavy starts.

At the same time, we want to be aware of the relatively sparse later rounds and the possibility that our limited targets in those rounds could end up going earlier in any particular draft.

Image Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Lamar Jackson.

  1. If you want to pretend a preseason game is a game.  (back)
  2. 2001-2018  (back)

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