Going for Broke in the FPC
By Heath Cummings
August 22nd, 2012

You don't buy a Porsche to drive the kids to school, and you don't enter the Footballguys Players Championship to try and win your money back. Sure, there are a multitude of ways you can win something in this high stakes online tournament, but when there is $150,000 on the line are you playing for anything less? If your answer is yes then this isn't the strategy for you, but if you're ready to go big or go home, and have a real shot at bringing home $150K, I've got the plan for you.

While the FPC will initially set you up in a twelve team league it's important to recognize that this is a far different animal than your standard 12 team league. Risk management and prudent choices may get you in the playoffs in a twelve team league, and once you're there anything could happen. But getting into the playoffs is far cry from success in the FPC, a third of the teams in the tournament will make their respective "playoffs" but only one sixth will make the Championship round. It's not good enough to be informed in this league, everyone one is, you need to be aggressive. Before I get to the strategy that will get you to the cash, I will go over a couple of the differences in the FPC that will definitely influence your strategy.

  1. 1.5 PPR for tight ends. This came into play big time with the emergence of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham as superstars. I anticipate this means people will overpay at almost every level for tight ends in 2012. Too many teams were beaten by tight ends last season for that not to have an impact on their strategy this season.

  2. Double Flex. You start two running backs, two receivers and one tight end plus two flex that can be any of the three. What this means to you is much less concern about what position you're selecting in the first five-six rounds.

  3. League Format. There are essentially three sections of the season as opposed to the traditional two. Your regular season is only eleven game long, providing much less margin for error, and your league playoffs are weeks 12-13. The Championship Round falls weeks 14-16, and this is where you'll compete against the other 300+ top teams for the big money.

ROUND 1

Other than running back, you're likely to see Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy Graham, Calvin Johnson, and Rob Gronkowski taken in the first round. You will take none of them as long as you can get one of the top five running backs. The reason is simple; the running back field is getting thinner and thinner and nowhere is the drop off greater than from these five running backs to the rest of the field. If all five are taken, Graham and Johnson are the next choices, followed by Julio Jones and AJ Green. It is highly unlikely, even with the twelfth pick that one of these nine players will not be available.

Round One Strategy

  • Preferred: Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy, Chris Johnson
  • Secondary: Jimmy Graham, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, A.J. Green
  • ROUND 2

    Regardless of what happened in the first round, we're going after receivers here. As will always be the case, if anyone fell from our round one list to our pick in round two, we take them without regard for position. If you have the chance to start off with Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones GRAB IT! Assuming though that all those players are gone, as well as Aaron Rodgers and Rob Gronkowski, we're going to focus heavily on wide receiver in round two. The only running backs I would consider with this pick would be Matt Forte, Darren Sproles and Jammal Charles, no matter what spot in the second round you're drafting. You've heard a lot about the depth at receiver and so has everyone else. We're going to take advantage of that depth by stacking our team with WR1s. The preferred list is shorter, because our FPC ADP data tells us that only five receivers should be off the board after round two. Since we already listed three of them as round one targets, there are only three we need to consider in round two. One in particular, Jordy Nelson had an ADP of 37 in the FPC exposed drafts, which would be the first pick in the fourth round. Nelson finished second in fantasy point amongst receivers in 2011 and is only 27 years old. In this format, surrounded by people that are paying just as much attention as you, you need to take the guys you want or spend the rest of the season regretting it.

    Round Two Strategy

  • Catch them if they fall: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Forte, Rob Gronkowski
  • Preferred: Wes Welker, Larry Fitzgerald, Darren Sproles
  • Secondary: Jamaal Charles, Jordy Nelson
  • ROUND 3

    After targeting a running back in round one and a receiver in round two, round three is the place that we start looking for who has fallen. There are two targets that could possibly fall to the beginning of the third, and I'd jump all over them. I would be thrilled to land Aaron Hernandez in the third. He could play a formidable second fiddle to Rob Gronkowski all year, or he could turn into the "it" player of 2012. If any of the top five quarterbacks fall this far I would jump on them as well, but the one I want is Matthew Stafford. With the emergence of Titus Young and the Lions issues at running back, Stafford could put up Aaron Rodgers like numbers in 2012. His current ADP is in the fourth round, so he should be available. If not, here are several other players to consider.

    Round Three Strategy

  • Catch them if they fall: Ryan Mathews, Aaron Hernandez
  • Preferred: Matt Stafford, Drew Brees, Ahmad Bradshaw, Cam Newton
  • Secondary: Percy Harvin, Brandon Marshall, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks
  • ROUND 4

    Once again, there is a good chance that some of the players mentioned above will be there at the start of the fourth. If you don't have a quarterback or tight end at this point, and none of the players above fall to the fourth, you'll be waiting for those positions. Percy Harvin is someone that was mentioned above and is fairly likely to still be there in the fourth. Harvin isn't getting the credit he deserves for the strong finish he had after Christian Ponder took over, and word out of Vikings camp is that he'll be on the field even more than he was in 2011. There are a couple of other players currently being taken in the fourth that have much higher upsides than ADPs, Fred Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. In PPR formats, Maclin is the Eagles receiver to own and it isn't even close. The only real question surrounding him is his quarterback's ability to stay healthy. He could definitely produce like a third round receiver in 2012. Fred Jackson looked like one of the best running backs in football for the first half of 2011. While I don't expect him to duplicate that performance, I do think he'd undervalued in the fourth round.

    Round Four Strategy

  • Catch them if they fall: Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch
  • Preferred: Fred Jackson, Jeremy Maclin
  • Secondary: Dez Bryant, Steve Smith, Peyton Hillis
  • ROUND 5

    This is the point where we start to at least consider the position of the player we're drafting. If you don't have two running backs at this point it is time to take Peyton Hillis. I mentioned him above as a worst case scenario in the fourth, but he could be an absolute steal in the fifth. The Chiefs are going to run the ball a ton, and when they do throw it a good percentage of those throws should go Hillis' way. Forget about 2011, Hillis is motivated again and in a perfect situation to succeed. The only way I would pass on Hillis in the fifth is one of the players listed above him in the fourth round fell. Assuming you were forced to take Hillis a round early, or someone else grabs him, the next best option if you didn't land Stafford is Matt Ryan. He is easily the most likely quarterback to jump into the ranks of the top five and he has the best wide receiver tandem in the league. If you already have Stafford, then it's time to look at some receivers that are falling just a little too far.

    Round Five Strategy

  • Catch them if they fall: Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd
  • Preferred: Matt Ryan, Steve Johnson, Dwayne Bowe
  • Secondary: Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace
  • As you can tell, there become a few too many what ifs to take this format through all 20 rounds of the FPC draft, so we're going to switch gears and take a look at three scenarios of what you could have after five rounds, and what you should do next.

    Continuing On

    Scenario 1

  • Fourth Overall Pick
  • Relatively Chalk Draft
  • Current Roster: Matt Stafford, Darren McFadden, Peyton Hillis, Jordy Nelson, Jeremy Maclin

    Rounds 6-9: If Kevin Smith makes it to you in the sixth you could snatch him up, but otherwise you're going to exploit the depth at wide receiver. Pierre Garcon, Desean Jackson and Vincent Jackson are all receivers to target in the sixth and then take your first tight end, Kyle Rudolph in the seventh. Rudolph has a connection with Ponder and an offense that is set up to make him successful. Kenny Britt or Titus Young give you huge upside in the eighth round, and if for some reason Rudolph was gone I'd be happy to take them a round earlier. You can build depth at running back in the ninth with either Rashad Jennings or Roy Helu.

    Rounds 10-13: Justin Blackmon is a physical freak whose off the field issues have caused him to fall too far in drafts. What's better is that he will probably improve as the season goes on, take him in the tenth. Shane Vereen, DeAngelo Williams and Ronnie Hillman all provide good value at this point and are all just one injury away from becoming feature backs. I'd see which one falls furthest and grab that one in the next round. Jay Cutler is a QB1 in most any league, but grabbing him as your QB2 in the 12th protects you against a Stafford injury. Ed Dickson is a high upside TE2 that is recovering from a shoulder injury. Once healthy, I expect him to take some targets from the aging Anquan Boldin.

    Scenario 2

  • Tenth Overall Pick
  • Early Run on Running Backs
  • Current Roster: Matt Stafford, Peyton Hillis, Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Johnson

    Rounds 6-9: With your weakness at running back the Kevin Smith pick in the sixth becomes even more obvious. At this point you're probably going to want to stockpile running back depth which means Jacquizz Rodgers in the seventh, and maybe even Ryan Williams in the eighth. If either Smith or Rodgers gets taken ahead of you don't be afraid to bump these guys up a round or take a flyer on Roy Helu in the ninth. Assuming you grab three running backs in rounds 6-8 you're taking Coby Fleener in round nine as your high upside tight end.

    Rounds 10-13: Your team has a definite weakness at tight end that is hard to address this late in the draft. Much like I did with Fleener, I'm looking for high upside guys here. Lance Kendricks and Ed Dickson both come into play, maybe even a round earlier than where you see their current ADP. I would still select Cutler in the 12th to shore up the quarterback position. Because you've neglected receiver for so long, Jonathan Baldwin is a great sleeper candidate in the 13th.

    Scenario 3

  • Sixth Overall Pick
  • Early Run on Quarterbacks
  • Hernandez falls
  • Current roster: Chris Johnson, Peyton Hillis, Wes Welker, Jeremy Maclin, Aaron Hernandez

    Rounds 6-9: You already have one tight end, but I love building on strength, especially with two flexes. Jason Witten's spleen injury may cost him a few games early in the year, but shouldn't linger much past that. In the FPC you'd much rather be strong late and I'd gladly take Witten in the sixth. Receiver can be solidified with Torrey Smith in the seventh whose upside would give you the possibility of having two legitimate WR2s. You're going to take Robert Griffin III in the eighth as your QB1, and follow that up with Peyton Manning in the ninth giving you a ridiculously high ceiling on your QBBC.

    Rounds 10-13: It's time to stockpile running backs and receivers again and you start with Mikel LeShoure who could give you a huge boost in the second half. I mentioned Blackmon in scenario one and he's the eleventh round pick in this scenario. Since you're not taking Cutler in the 12th this time that makes room for Santana Moss. Moss is a receiver that people just keep trying to write off, but he could see a major resurgence with Robert Griffin III at the helm. Because the team is still thin at running back, Daniel Thomas makes perfect sense in the 13th.

    Final Rounds

    Regardless of your scenario, rounds 14-20 will fill out in similar fashion. I would not suggest taking a defense before the 16th round and wouldn't fault you at all if you wait until round 19. Kickers should definitely be taken in the last round as they're unlikely to make a huge impact either way. That leaves three rounds for deep sleepers, here's a list of ten to consider for the final rounds:

  • Bernard Scott
  • Bilal Powell
  • Emmanuel Sanders
  • Alshon Jeffery
  • Josh Gordon
  • Stephen Hill
  • Dwayne Allen
  • Andre Caldwell
  • Dexter McCluster
  • Jordan Shipley
  • I'll leave you with my Porsche of an FPC draft, from the fifth spot in the draft:

    1. RB Darren McFadden
    2. WR Wes Welker
    3. QB Matt Stafford
    4. RB Fred Jackson
    5. WR Steve Johnson
    6. TE Jason Witten
    7. RB Jacquizz Rodgers
    8. WR Kenny Britt
    9. RB Rashad Jennings
    10. WR Justin Blackmon
    11. RB DeAngelo Williams
    12. QB Jay Cutler
    13. TE Ed Dickson
    14. TE Dennis Pitta
    15. RB Bernard Scott
    16. WR Alshon Jeffery
    17. WR Josh Gordon
    18. TE Dwayne Allen
    19. Def Kansas City Chiefs
    20. PK Neil Rackers

    As always, thanks for reading. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome to cummings@footballguys.com.

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