The Master Plan
By Sigmund Bloom
September 1st, 2011

Note: The Master Plan assumes 10- to 14-team, PPR leagues with 20 roster spots, 1 QB, start 3 WR, no QB flex and no TE premium. Err on the side of emphasizing RB in non-PPR or start 2 WR and no flex leagues.

Quarterback

Starting QB

  • Plan A - Take Ben Roethlisberger the round after you see about six QBs go off the board. Probably around the fifth or sixth round. Chances are Tony Romo or Peyton Manning will be the QB you are waiting to hear called as your signal.

  • Plan B - If Roethlisberger gets sniped before your pick, take Matt Ryan instead

  • Plan C - If both Roethlisberger and Ryan are gone, or if you just like to gamble, wait another round and take Matthew Stafford. Follow the next round with Sam Bradford. If you miss on Bradford, make sure to take Shaun Hill late. This is especially effective in ten team leagues where Stafford is often the tenth QB taken (or later), so you can potentially wait two or more rounds because everyone else will have their starter. If you are at a turn in a 10 teamer without 1 QB and no QB flex, you are virtually guaranteed two of Stafford / Bradford / Matt Schaub / Josh Freeman at the 7-8 or 8-9 turn unless your league is crazy about backup QBs.
  • Backup QB

  • Plans A, B, and C - Wait until the 15th or later for Colt McCoy, Cam Newton, or John Beck. Or don't take anyone. Honestly, with at least 4-6 starters on the waiver wire during the season to start and likely 10+ being added at any time during the season, you'll be fine. Last year, the waiver wire yielded Michael Vick, Jon Kitna, and Shaun Hill among others. There's a good chance the QB you add early will outproduce a lot of the QBs drafted. In short bench leagues (18 or less), I highly recommend passing on a backup QB with the Stafford / Bradford committee exception.
  • Running Back

    RB1

  • Plan A - If you have a pick in the first five, you should go RB (2k). You may have Chris Johnson fall to you in the 7-9 range. Later in first you take uberstuds with injury red flags (Arian Foster, Darren McFadden), but probably not before uberstud WR trio in PPR.

  • Plan B - Look for McFadden, Steven Jackson, and Frank Gore in early-to-mid second in that order.

  • Plan C - If you go WR/WR, aim for Mark Ingram, LeGarrette Blount, Michael Turner or as a worst case scenario, Felix Jones, to be your anchor in round 3.
  • RB2

  • Plan A - I know it is old school, but if you can get McFadden, Jackson, Gore, or maybe even Peyton Hillis or Matt Forte in the mid-to-late second round, an RB-RB start may be in order. The key is the top five WRs being gone. I have the next 12 or so pretty level, so as long as you come away with two in the 3rd-4th, you'll be fine.

  • Plan B - Hope for Blount, Ingram, Turner, or Jones to fall to the fourth. If you start WR-WR, include Jahvid Best and Ahmad Bradshaw in fourth round RB2 targets if RBs are going off the board quickly.

  • Plan C - Hope for DeAngelo Williams in the fifth, and fall back on Shonn Greene or Chris Wells if he doesn't make it. Know that you are going to take at least 2-3 high upside backs in the next 5-6 rounds. Knowshon Moreno, Fred Jackson or Joseph Addai in the sixth if you had to go QB in the fifth. Next pick or two should also be RB. RB crazy leagues may burn through the top 25 RBs in the first four rounds, the shark move is to keep going WR while they do that as long as you have an anchor early pick RB1. You'll probably have three top 20 WRs already in your back pocket, don't worry.
  • First Bench RB/Flex

  • Plan A - Hope for boring old veteran like Fred Jackson or Addai or the potentially underrated disrespected third year back Moreno in the seventh. If Ingram, Blount or Felix Jones fall to the fifth, pounce and let QB ride for another round at least.

  • Plan B - Risk/reward plays like Tim Hightower, Reggie Bush, C.J. Spiller, Mike Tolbert, Benjarvus Green-Ellis, and Cedric Benson in the seventh or eighth depending on how strong you are at RB1 and RB2.

  • Plan C - Injury upside plays like Brandon Jacobs, Michael Bush, Pierre Thomas, or a swing for the fences pick like James Starks in the ninth or tenth.
  • RB Bench Depth Targets

  • Any Bench/Flex candidates that slip to 10th or later

  • Bernard Scott

  • NE RBs (Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley)

  • Rookies behind risky starters (Delone Carter, Bilal Powell, Daniel Thomas, Roy Helu, Kendall Hunter, Taiwan Jones or Jacquizz Rodgers)
  • Wide Receiver

    WR1

  • Plan A - In the second half of the first round, you're happy to walk away with Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, or Larry Fitzgerald if no RB values present themselves.

  • Plan B - Hakeem Nicks or Roddy White are fine WR1s in the early-mid second.

  • Plan C - If you feel like you have to go WR in the mid-to-late second because you went RB in the first, Vincent Jackson is probably the best target. If you start RB-RB, any of Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant, Santonio Holmes, Wes Welker or Brandon Lloyd will do just fine.
  • WR2

  • Plan A - If you draw a late first pick and can get two of the top five WRs (Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Hakeem Nicks, Roddy White), and no one like Foster or Chris Johnson falls go for it. It's hard to say that it is a better start than WR/RB if you can pair a top 3 WR with a back like McFadden, Gore, or Jackson.

  • Plan B - If you started RB/RB, then you hope for Dez Bryant, Santonio Holmes, Wes Welker, Mike Williams (TB) or Brandon Lloyd in the fourth. If you started RB/WR or WR/RB, you might take one of those WRs in the mid-to-late third if it looks like an RB might fall to you in the fourth.

  • Plan C - If you go RB/RB, and then your leaguemates rip off 15+ WR picks in the next 20-24 selections, grab falling RB value and go Anquan Boldin, Austin Collie, Percy Harvin, Mario Manningham or Santana Moss in the fifth. If you have to go QB in the fifth, Santana Moss should be there for you in the sixth with Kenny Britt as a fallback.
  • WR3

  • Plan A - As long as you feel ok waiting until the sixth to get a QB, you are aiming for Boldin, Collie, Harvin, Manningham or Moss in the fifth. Obviously if a Bryant, Holmes, Welker, Williams or Lloyd falls to the fifth, you gamble on QB falling no matter what.

  • Plan B - Moss in the sixth with Kenny Britt as a fallback.

  • Plan C - An upside play like Lance Moore, Steve Smith (Car), Julio Jones, or A.J. Green in the seventh, and go WR in two of the next three or four rounds.
  • First Bench WR/Flex

  • Plan A - An upside play like Moore, Smith (Car), Julio Jones, Green or Jacoby Ford in the seventh or eighth

  • Plan B - Underrated high floor guys like Pierre Garcon, Mike Thomas, Danny Amendola or Nate Burleson in the eighth or ninth.

  • Plan C - Old dependable Hines Ward in the ninth. You've got either three solid RBs and WRs with a stud QB and value TE, or three very good RBs and WRs with a quality QBBC at this point, so just get the safe depth.
  • WR Bench Depth Targets

  • Lee Evans
  • Earl Bennett
  • Mike Sims-Walker
  • Antonio Brown
  • Greg Little
  • Johnny Knox
  • Jason Hill
  • Denarius Moore
  • Dezmon Briscoe/Arrelious Benn
  • Tight End

    Starting TE

  • Plan A - You can almost certainly wait until everyone has taken a TE and get Aaron Hernandez as your #1 in the ninth or even later. In a worst case scenario, you'll get Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, or Greg Olsen as your #1 in the tenth. No worries. TE is very deep. There are potential values to be had if certain players fall.

  • Plan B - Owen Daniels becomes very hard to pass on in the seventh, maybe even the late sixth if QBs are falling and Britt and Santana Moss are gone. Jimmy Graham is worth the plunge in the eighth for sure. Seventh depends on QB availability and whether need and value dictates a WR pick.

  • Plan C - If people are scared of Antonio Gates and he falls to the fifth with no ridiculous value at RB/WR on the board, plus you don't feel urgency to get a QB, pull the trigger. Same with Jermichael Finley or Dallas Clark in the sixth - no ridiculous RB/WR values and QB can wait, then do it. This could mean Daniels gets pushed to eighth, but you cant do anything about it though. Be careful if your league is just sloughing TE to drain other positions ahead of schedule.
  • Backup TE

  • Plan A - Punish your league for overlooking Hernandez if he falls to the tenth or later even if you have a solid starter. Make a point of it if you draft Gates as your #1. Hernandez has flex value if he hits, and he looks like he might.

  • Plan B - Cook, Olsen, and Kendricks all have top 10 upside. Snag the last one on the board in the 12th or later.

  • Plan C - Unless your starter is Gates or Hernandez following the plan at TE - starter, there's no need to take one. The position is almost 25 deep with waiver wire potential and even if the rest of your league takes backup TEs, they'll start dropping them when the bye week gauntlet or injuries arise.
  • Kicker

  • Plan A - Last round. David Akers, Rob Bironas, Shaun Suisham, Alex Henery are all just fine.
  • Defense

  • Plan A - Next to last round. Detroit, New Orleans, or New England if they fall that far. If not, a team with a good home matchup against potentially poor QB play week 1. DEN against OAK. SF against SEA. ARI against CAR. Rinse, repeat as the season goes on. Will cover this strategy each week on the waiver wire edition of the audible that comes out Tuesday.

  • Plan B - With scoring for points and yards allowed, the Steelers are worth it as early as the 12th. Otherwise, wait until the pentultimate round.
  • Possible Cores

    A Master Plan draft core from an early pick:

  • RB Chris Johnson / Rashard Mendenhall
  • RB Peyton Hillis
  • WR Santonio Holmes
  • WR Brandon Lloyd
  • QB Ben Roethlisberger
  • WR Santana Moss
  • RB Joseph Addai
  • WR Danny Amendola
  • TE Aaron Hernandez
  • A Master Plan draft core from a mid-first pick:

  • WR Andre Johnson
  • RB Steven Jackson
  • WR Dez Bryant
  • WR Brandon Lloyd
  • QB Ben Roethlisberger
  • RB Joseph Addai
  • RB Fred Jackson
  • TE Jimmy Graham
  • WR Hines Ward
  • (You'd be taking a lot of high upside RB picks in the 10-15th with this core)

    A Master Plan draft core from a late-first pick:

  • WR Larry Fitzgerald
  • WR Hakeem Nicks
  • RB LeGarrette Blount
  • RB Felix Jones
  • WR Austin Collie
  • WR Kenny Britt
  • QB Matthew Stafford
  • QB Sam Bradford
  • RB Michael Bush
  • TE Aaron Hernandez
  • (RB depth would be a priority in the 10-15th here too)

    Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to bloom@footballguys.com.

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