Hello everyone and welcome back to Strategy Sessions. As my regular readers know, I use this page to dig deep into fantasy football analysis, focusing not just on player projections, but on specific strategies that work. I started writing for the Shark last year and I’m looking forward to another fantastic season.
You know you’re a fantasy football addict when you go to the supermarket and you spend $43.00 on groceries and $45.00 on all 6 of the fantasy football magazines ShopRite has to offer. I’m not ashamed of my addiction though, and as some of you know my fantasy football obsession paid dividends last year when I was fortunate enough to win the Buffalo Bills Home Team Challenge; good enough for a trip for two to Hawaii during Pro Bowl Week. And while Carson Palmer has had all off-season to heal from his knee injury, I’ve had the off-season to heal from my Hawaiian sunburn and to think of the catchy title of this article.
There is no doubt that fantasy football fever starts heating up in August, so lets get down to business. If you’re serious about fantasy football you know that just having a couple of cheat sheets is not going to get the job done on draft day. To excel you must have an idea of position value. For example, if by studying mock drafts you see that QB’s like Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselback, are typically going in the 4th round while QB’s like Marc Bulger and Jake Delhomme are going in the 7th round, it might be wise to get a backup RB or two before going after your starting QB. In fact, that is a key draft strategy for this season: The difference in value between the 3rd highest rated QB and the 13th highest rated QB is as small as it has been in many seasons; so don’t draft a QB until most of your league already has. Then, since this is a very deep fantasy QB season, you might want to get a top notch backup that you can rotate with your starter based on schedule.
Analyzing the risk and reward ratio of players is important for your draft. It’s good to have a couple of high risk/ high reward type of players, but obviously you need to balance them out with some consistent, yet unspectacular players. One thing I learned last year was not to take a high risk/ high reward type player with one of your first two picks. Let’s not forget Priest Holmes, T.O., and Ahman Green last season. Its one thing if you draft a steady producer like Clinton Portis and he just so happens to go down, but if you took Ahman Green in the early second round last year you were asking for trouble. Each season there are a handful of players who are so vastly overrated that I choose to keep them off my cheat sheets all together. I mean it! I didn’t have Ahman Green on any of my sheets last year because even if he was worth a 3rd round pick, I knew there was no chance of him being available after the mid second. The following is a list of overvalued RBs you might want to avoid this season:
Willis Mcgahee- Willis has talent and ability, but he had 1 total touchdown in the final 10 games of last season. Last year the Bills’ passing game was one of the worst in the NFL which certainly didn’t help matters; but I’m pretty sure the Bills didn’t sign a Manning during the off-season so I don’t see why things would get better. Mcgahee is still a borderline top 10 RB on most cheat sheets, but without Eric Moulds and with the possibility of Losman playing more than last season, I’d avoid him all together.
Edgerrin James- Edge is a very complete back, but I probably wouldn’t draft Shaun Alexander in the high first round if he was on Arizona this season. Lets not forget that last season the Cards were dead in last in total rushing, yards per carry, and rushing TD’s. Edge may bring the team some instant credibility, but a teams’ run game doesn’t go from worst to first without vastly improving the o-line during the off-season, which is something the Cards did not do. Edge will still find ways to be productive, but he’s not worth the high to mid first round pick anymore.
Julius Jones- Jones has been going in the 2nd round of most mock drafts which is shocking to me, because that is where he went last year after going off in the final 8 games in 04. Last season was far from a step in the right direction for this guy though, and his average draft position should suffer at least slightly because of it. There are major durability questions here and if that’s not enough, we’ve seen that Parcells is enamored with Marion Barber, who matched Jones’ 5 TDs last season in only half of the attempts. There are a slew of teams who have questions in their backfield this season so I can’t leave Julius completely off of my cheat sheet, but if you get him in the early 3rd round make sure you get Marion Barber later in the draft.
Kevin Jones- Different Jones, same story! Kevin Jones was also a sexy 2nd round pick last year on his way to being one of the biggest busts of the season. Only, for some strange reason, he continues to go in the 2nd round of drafts this year. Here is something that needs to be said: The Lions do not have a good offense. Their o-line underachieves, their wide receivers underachieve and they have a shaky QB situation. Lastly, Kevin Jones isn’t good enough to create his own holes. Where would you draft a RB who’s good for 800-900 yards and 5-6 tds this season? Whatever your answer was, I’m sure Jones will be taken by then, so avoid him.
You won’t find any of those RBs on my squads this year unless one of them falls 12-15 picks farther than their mock draft average. Next week I’ll give you a few more players you should stay away from and we’ll go over more 2006 draft strategy. Thanks for reading and good look to anyone who has an early draft.