The Perfect FPC Draft
By David Dodds and Jeff Pasquino
August 29th, 2012

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I have studied, mocked, and drafted several teams in the FFPC format this year, and I have learned a great deal. The Footballguys' Players Championship (FPC) format has some unique scoring rules such as 1.5 points per catch for tight ends, two flex starter spots and also "action scoring" which gives credit for kick return scoring. Based on that information, ADP and VBD data I am able to give some thoughts as to how to approach the overall contest and also build a competitive team.

This article is loosely based upon David Dodds' Perfect Draft articles from previous years, and much can be learned from both David and those articles to account for some of the differences of the FPC from standard and even normal PPR leagues.

Now we all know that there is not one way to have a perfect draft. Based upon your draft slot and how the draft flows, draft plans must be fluid enough to adapt and change to accommodate the newfound valuable players that are falling down the draft board. This is where VBD charts and the Draft Dominator can really help, but for now we will talk about breaking the draft down into a few key "segments" and then addressing valuable players that should be available later in the draft.

This article assumes fairly educated drafters. You need to decide whether your league is full of sharks, guppies or a combination of both. Count the number of Footballguys subscriptions and compare that to the number of guys crossing off players from their magazine cheatsheet to get a feel for this if you really are unsure. Against great competition, reaching for a player at the wrong time can quickly dismantle your draft and leave you missing the key "pockets of value" that can help your chances at winning.

Before we can have the "Perfect Draft", let's define our measure of success. After the draft, your team should have these qualities:

  1. Against multiple projection sets, your team always grades out as one of the best teams. And to make your life easy, here just run your roster through our new Rate My Team application.

  2. You secured a great number of players that will outperform their draft position.

  3. You have quality depth (in the right places) to allow for bye week coverage and the inevitable injury bug.

  4. The majority of owners recognize that you have a team that should easily reach the playoffs.

These aren't absolutes, but I list them here so we know what we are trying to build.

Let's start with the two basic principles of Value Based Drafting (VBD). I will expound on them as we go through this.

  • All Players Have Value
    Don't love anyone. Don't hate anyone. Get players that will significantly outperform their draft position and you will build a winning team.

  • Understand What the Average Guy Thinks
    You may believe someone will be the 10th best WR, but if everybody else does not then you need to wait to maximize value.
  • If you don't follow these principles, you will not have a perfect draft. If you believe rookie WRs are always bad or drafting anyone over 30 is too big of an injury risk, then you will not have the perfect draft. Throw away the biases. Let value guide your draft. Let others succumb to prejudices and generalities. You are here to win your league. And you do that by getting value with every pick.

    How do we define value? Value Based Drafting (VBD) has shown us that we can compare unlike positions for comparative value. The cornerstone of VBD starts with solid projections. And these projections can be manipulated to form Top 200+ lists. For this article, I will be using the Top 300 list for PPR along with the 2012 FFPC/FPC ADP Data compiled by Clayton Gray.

    Specific recommendations for a Perfect FPC Draft

    You need to approach this draft as if you are trying to end up with the best team out of the 600+ that will be playing. This is possibly the most important point. Beating 11 owners and qualifying for the big dance with a roster that can never win the event should not be the desired outcome. Things that work in your normal 12 team league can be counter-productive to fielding a winning FPC team.

    Specifically, I think these things are LOSING plays in FPC:

  • Handcuffing players with two picks in the first 8 rounds. You need to pick a side and gamble that it is correct. Handcuffs this early in a draft waste a roster spot that could easily go to another starting player in your lineup.

  • Taking a QB before Round 6. This has to do with the rules (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 flex + PPR). Take a look at how things change for the top QB as the rules change (from the VBD App):
  • 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE (no flex, no PPR) - Aaron Rodgers (QB1) = 4th overall
  • 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE (no flex, PPR) - Rodgers = 6h overall
  • 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE (1 flex, PPR) - Rodgers = 8th overall
  • 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE (2 flex, PPR) - Rodgers = 10th overall (FPC Scoring Rules)

  • This effect is even more evident when you examine where both QB2 (Drew Brees) and QB3 (Tom Brady) end up (23rd and 24th with FPC scoring). Suffice it to say all of the elite QBs will be taken too early. Wait until the 6th or 7th round and then get ready to pounce on one of the best players left.
  • NOT taking a TE early. This is, by far, the biggest difference between the FPC and other scoring contests. With 1.5 points per catch, the Top 5-8 tight ends are elevated very high with many of them going in the first three rounds of the draft. Be prepared to step out there and get one earlier than you might expect - but there are two good benefits to this. First of all you get an elite class tight end, which many other owners are going to have. The additional benefit of an earlier run on tight ends (which happens often in FPC / FFPC drafts) is that other positions slide down the draft board accordingly. There can only be 48 players taken in the first four rounds. If 7-8 are tight ends, that means Top 20 RBs and Top 20 WRs will likely be available in Round 5.

  • Drafting a second quarterback too early. Unless you are planning on a quarterback by committee, your backup QB can wait until Rounds 10-16 of your draft. If you have a Top 7-8 quarterback you should be fine with him starting most of the time anyway. Only take two quarterbacks before Round 10 if you are going with a committee approach.

  • Drafting a first defense and/or first PK in the first 2/3 of the draft. The RBs, WRs and TEs are going to dry up. You need to have your share of these players to improve your chances that one emerges. Quite often the defenses predicted to be the elite ones to have for the coming season are not all that for fantasy purposes. Let someone else grab the Ravens, Eagles or 49ers too early. Use your last picks to secure a kicker and defense and do not draft more than one.
  • I have examined a lot of strong rosters from both the Pros vs. Joes, previous seasons of the FFPC and also from my drafts and mocks this year and I believe the winning teams had this in common:

    1. Winning teams usually took the best players available in the first round, but not a quarterback. This may very well mean selecting a WR or TE based upon a late draft position. After 5 rounds, these teams usually had 2 RBs, 2 WRs and a tight end.

    2. Drafting RB, RB, RB with your first three picks is generally a LOSING strategy. In fact, the biggest key to winning is finding that all or nothing RB later in the draft so you can stockpile elite WRs in rounds 2 and 3.

    3. The most common strong start had two TEs, two RBs and two WRs after Round 6. It did not matter how the order went so long as two of each spot was rostered.

    4. Winning teams had a deep roster with deep talent pools at two or three of the non-QB spots. Teams can win with deep rosters at RB and TE, WR and TE or RB and WR. This lends itself back to drafting the best players available early in the draft.

    5. Winning teams had a solid CORE (first 6 picks) and many fliers AFTER that. These teams also were very active in the blind bidding process through the season.

    6. Some of their HOMERUNS hit (either by the draft or waivers) to give them a very solid lineup every week. These home runs by definition are not value picks. They are swings for the fences. Most end up being whiffs, but some (when hit) catapult teams to the top of this event.

    7. Teams drafted to win their first eleven games. You need to have the best record or the most points after 11 games to play in week for the right to join the Championship bracket (where all the big money is). So choosing second half guys (rookies, drug suspensions, tough early schedules, etc. with any early picks is a recipe for disaster). Wins are important NOW.

    8. All things being equal (same projected fantasy points), take the WR or TE that catches a lot of balls over the Red Zone TD producer. Guys like Brandon Pettigrew and Wes Welker excel in PPR leagues because of all of their catches. If the TDs match that pace, you could have an elite producer.

    Generally, I would look to have this positional grouping after Round 6: 2 RB, 2 WR, 2 TE.

    After Round 9 I would want to have grabbed my starting QB and two more depth players at either RB or WR. Typically a roster would have 1 QB, 3 RB, 3 WR and 2 TE.

    After Round 12 I would want to be here: 2 QB, 4 RB, 4 WR and 2 TE as I added more depth behind my flex starter candidates at RB and WR and then grabbed my QB2 in Round 12.

    Let's Have the Perfect FPC Draft

    The goal is to get you the best possible team and to make sure you don't overpay for players that can still be had a few rounds later. What I look for are players that I project significantly better than where they are being drafted. The positional analysis tracks to my projections.

    This article assumes a 12 team league using scoring that starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 flex (RB/WR/TE), 1 Def and 1 PK. It also assumes this scoring criteria: 1 point per 20 yards passing, 1 point per 10 yards rushing/receiving, 1 point per reception (1.5 for TEs), 4 points per passing TD, 6 points per rushing/receiving TD, -1 points for interceptions.

    In a 12-team draft, there is pressure to grab the quality RBs and WRs before they are gone. In a FPC draft, there is pressure on RBs and WRs plus elite TEs. This point is important, because failure to lock up solid starters at all three spots within the first six 5-7 rounds will likely cost you a chance at competing for the title.

    Instead of concentrating on things by position, I believe the correct approach is to grab the best player available until the Top 50 are off the board. With some luck and creating the right Top 50 list, you are hopeful to still be drafting from this list when you complete the 5th round (60 picks). If you are still using this list in the 7th round, you are positioned well to make a strong run in this contest.

    Creating the Perfect 50 List for FPC Leagues

    Because ADP is a crucial barometer on when players will get drafted, I believe it's important to merge the Top 300 Players (PPR) with ADP to create a single Top 50 draft list. Here is how I create this list.

  • For players that have a value lower than ADP, use the average of the two numbers.
  • For players that have a value higher than ADP, use the value number.
  • Example: Player A has a value of 13 and an ADP of 21. His "drafting" value would be 17. (13 + 21)/2. Conversely, if Player has a value of 21 and an ADP of 13, his "drafting" value would be 21.

    Next, with the help of Clayton Gray I was able to build an ADP list for the FPC contest. The source data was 2012 FFPC/FPC ADP Data, which I compared against the current ADP for PPR to determine what FPC ADP data should look like. To do that I used the positional breakdown of the Top 60 picks and compared that ADP to the Top 60 from 2011 FPC Drafts and aligned their positions. For example, the current ADP for Ahmad Bradshaw is 26 in PPR drafts, which puts him as RB16. From 2012 FPC Drafts I know that RB16 has an ADP of 33, and so on. That is how I got the FPC ADP part of the data for the next step in making the Top 50 list.

    Doing this for the Top 300 PPR List and the FPC ADP Data yields these Top 75 players (ranked from 1st to 75th). Note that I expanded this list on purpose as to show how the values play out after the Top 50, and also provide some insight as to how to plan your first six or seven picks.

    FPC Draft List
    Value
    FPC ADP Rk
    Diff
    Pos
    Player
    Avg
    Top 50 Rank
    1
    1
    1
    0
    RB01
    Arian Foster, Hou
    1.0
    1.0
    2
    2
    2
    0
    RB02
    Ray Rice, Bal
    2.0
    2.0
    3
    3
    3
    0
    RB03
    LeSean McCoy, Phi
    3.0
    3.0
    4
    4
    5
    1
    WR01
    Calvin Johnson, Det 
    4.5
    4.0
    5
    5
    8
    3
    QB01
    Aaron Rodgers, GB
    6.5
    5.0
    6
    8
    4
    -4
    RB04
    Chris Johnson, Ten
    6.0
    6.0
    7
    6
    7
    1
    RB05
    Darren McFadden, Oak 
    6.5
    6.0
    8
    7
    9
    2
    RB06
    Matt Forte, Chi
    8.0
    7.0
    9
    9
    6
    -3
    TE01
    Jimmy Graham, NO
    7.5
    7.5
    10
    10
    17
    7
    RB10
    Jamaal Charles, KC
    13.5
    10.0
    11
    11
    19
    8
    RB11
    Ryan Mathews, SD
    15.0
    11.0
    12
    12
    14
    2
    RB08
    DeMarco Murray, Dal
    13.0
    12.0
    13
    13
    15
    2
    RB09
    Darren Sproles, NO
    14.0
    13.0
    14
    14
    16
    2
    WR03
    Julio Jones, Atl
    15.0
    14.0
    15
    20
    10
    -10
    TE02
    Rob Gronkowski, NE
    15.0
    15.0
    16
    15
    27
    12
    RB14
    Steven Jackson, StL 
    21.0
    15.0
    17
    16
    22
    6
    QB03
    Drew Brees, NO
    19.0
    16.0
    18
    22
    12
    -10
    WR02
    Larry Fitzgerald, Ari 
    17.0
    17.0
    19
    21
    13
    -8
    QB02
    Tom Brady, NE
    17.0
    17.0
    20
    17
    41
    24
    RB18
    Doug Martin, TB
    29.0
    17.0
    21
    18
    21
    3
    RB12
    Trent Richardson, Cle
    19.5
    18.0
    22
    19
    37
    18
    RB17
    Fred Jackson, Buf
    28.0
    19.0
    23
    23
    20
    -3
    WR05
    Andre Johnson, Hou
    21.5
    21.5
    24
    24
    32
    8
    WR09
    Brandon Marshall, Chi 
    28.0
    24.0
    25
    25
    24
    -1
    RB13
    Adrian Peterson, Min 
    24.5
    24.5
    26
    32
    18
    -14
    WR04
    Wes Welker, NE
    25.0
    25.0
    27
    26
    30
    4
    RB15
    Marshawn Lynch, Sea 
    28.0
    26.0
    28
    43
    11
    -32
    RB07
    Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac 
    27.0
    27.0
    29
    28
    26
    -2
    WR07
    A.J. Green, Cin
    27.0
    27.0
    30
    27
    31
    4
    QB04
    Cam Newton, Car
    29.0
    27.0
    31
    30
    25
    -5
    WR06
    Roddy White, Atl
    27.5
    27.5
    32
    29
    52
    23
    RB20
    Reggie Bush, Mia
    40.5
    29.0
    33
    31
    42
    11
    WR14
    Percy Harvin, Min
    36.5
    31.0
    34
    36
    29
    -7
    WR08
    Greg Jennings, GB
    32.5
    32.5
    35
    33
    33
    0
    RB16
    Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG 
    33.0
    33.0
    36
    34
    39
    5
    QB05
    Matthew Stafford, Det
    36.5
    34.0
    37
    41
    28
    -13
    TE04
    Aaron Hernandez, NE
    34.5
    34.5
    38
    35
    34
    -1
    WR10
    Victor Cruz, NYG
    34.5
    34.5
    39
    38
    35
    -3
    WR11
    Hakeem Nicks, NYG
    36.5
    36.5
    40
    37
    38
    1
    WR12
    Jordy Nelson, GB
    37.5
    37.0
    41
    39
    57
    18
    RB21
    Frank Gore, SF
    48.0
    39.0
    42
    40
    44
    4
    WR15
    Dez Bryant, Dal
    42.0
    40.0
    43
    59
    23
    -36
    TE03
    Antonio Gates, SD
    41.0
    41.0
    44
    42
    40
    -2
    WR13
    Steve Smith, Car
    41.0
    41.0
    45
    44
    53
    9
    WR21
    Steve Johnson, Buf
    48.5
    44.0
    46
    45
    59
    14
    WR24
    Dwayne Bowe, KC
    52.0
    45.0
    47
    47
    45
    -2
    WR16
    Marques Colston, NO 
    46.0
    46.0
    48
    46
    71
    25
    WR28
    Torrey Smith, Bal
    58.5
    46.0
    49
    47
    79
    32
    RB30
    C.J. Spiller, Buf
    63.0
    47.0
    50
    61
    36
    -25
    TE05
    Vernon Davis, SF
    48.5
    48.5
    51
    49
    66
    17
    WR27
    DeSean Jackson, Phi
    57.5
    49.0
    52
    51
    48
    -3
    WR17
    Demaryius Thomas, Den
    49.5
    49.5
    53
    54
    50
    -4
    WR19
    Miles Austin, Dal
    52.0
    52.0
    54
    52
    81
    29
    RB31
    Donald Brown, Ind
    66.5
    52.0
    55
    58
    51
    -7
    WR20
    Jeremy Maclin, Phi
    54.5
    54.5
    56
    55
    68
    13
    RB25
    Willis McGahee, Den
    61.5
    55.0
    57
    57
    55
    -2
    WR22
    Vincent Jackson, TB
    56.0
    56.0
    58
    56
    64
    8
    WR26
    Eric Decker, Den
    60.0
    56.0
    59
    60
    54
    -6
    QB06
    Michael Vick, Phi
    57.0
    57.0
    60
    70
    46
    -24
    RB19
    Michael Turner, Atl 
    58.0
    58.0
    61
    69
    49
    -20
    WR18
    Mike Wallace, Pit
    59.0
    59.0
    62
    50
    86
    36
    QB09
    Matt Ryan, Atl
    68.0
    50.0
    63
    53
    83
    30
    RB32
    Stevan Ridley, NE
    68.0
    53.0
    64
    74
    47
    -27
    TE07
    Jermichael Finley, GB
    60.5
    60.5
    65
    63
    58
    -5
    WR23
    Antonio Brown, Pit
    60.5
    60.5
    66
    67
    56
    -11
    TE08
    Brandon Pettigrew, Det
    61.5
    61.5
    67
    81
    43
    -38
    TE06
    Jason Witten, Dal
    62.0
    62.0
    68
    62
    63
    1
    RB23
    Shonn Greene, NYJ
    62.5
    62.0
    69
    64
    90
    26
    RB35
    Kevin Smith, Det
    77.0
    64.0
    70
    65
    78
    13
    QB08
    Eli Manning, NYG
    71.5
    65.0
    71
    66
    65
    -1
    RB24
    BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cin
    65.5
    65.5
    72
    68
    88
    20
    RB34
    Mark Ingram, NO
    78.0
    68.0
    73
    72
    76
    4
    WR29
    Pierre Garcon, Was
    74.0
    72.0
    74
    84
    61
    -23
    WR25
    Brandon Lloyd, NE
    72.5
    72.5
    75
    73
    75
    2
    RB29
    Peyton Hillis, KC
    74.0
    73.0

    The First 50 Players

    Essentially you are just looking to grab the best player available until this list is exhausted - but use some common sense while you do this. You must take at least one RB, one WR and one TE within the first five rounds of the draft (no exceptions). Additionally limit yourself to at most one QB or two TEs from this list. If you draft a QB because he represents value, then you must quickly address the other positions because you must catch up your depth at those key spots.

    I would pay little to no attention to bye weeks during this phase. You have plenty of time to adjust after the Top 50 players are gone. The list above only has them there for your reference - focus first on accumulating talent.

    After the Top 50 Players are Taken - Assessment / Building Your Core Phase

    The transition from the Top 50 to rounding out your team based on need is a critical one. Your analysis here can instantly turn a good draft into a great one. Here are the questions you should be asking yourself to determine your weaknesses:

  • How many backs did you secure? Is this a position of strength for your team? If the answer is no, this should be your prime objective. You will need a minimum of two to start, so if you have only two consider adding depth soon.

  • How many wide receivers did you secure? Is this a position of strength for your team? If the answer is no, this should be your prime objective. You will need a minimum of two to start, so if you have only two consider adding depth soon.

  • Did you draft a QB yet? If so consider yourself done at this position until at least Round 11 in the draft. If you have not drafted quarterback yet, do not panic. Good ones will exist throughout the draft, but if you want a Top 8 QB you better grab one as soon as possible. Otherwise grab two of the next 7-9 guys on your list and build a strong QB by committee.

  • Do you have two TEs yet? If not, consider looking hard at getting another one before the Top 15-16 are gone. Elite TEs are worth a good deal in 1.5 PPR leagues, plus with the dual flex rule a stud TE can serve as a nice flex starter. Grab one if there is good talent left.
  • Assess your bye week situation. If two or more of your first four players are off on the same bye week, I will usually sacrifice that week to be strong in every other week. If that is not the case, then I look to patch the holes with complimentary players that could have big weeks during these rough spots. Teams lining up against Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cleveland and Jacksonville should all yield good results during these weeks.

    As an example, let's say you landed this team after 6 rounds (from the 5th position):

  • 5. WR Calvin Johnson, Det/5
  • 20. RB Steven Jackson, Stl/9
  • 29. RB Doug Martin, TB/5
  • 44. RB Reggie Bush, Mia/7
  • 53. RB Frank Gore, SF/9 OR WR Steve Johnson, Buf/8
  • 68. WR Torrey Smith, Bal/8
  • This is not a bad start. You have some bye week concerns in Weeks 5 and 7 for sure, but they can certainly be managed with the backups selected over the next several rounds. Note that in Round 5 a personal preference arises where you can select a fourth running back instead of a second wide receiver. With the values so close it may be wiser to select Steve Johnson (ADP 53) over Frank Gore (ADP 57) for roster balance and also to avoid another bye week issue.

    So in this example, assuming you have three RBs and three WRs, your next steps would be:

  • Grab two tight ends in the next 2-3 rounds (before they dry up).
  • Add your starting QB in the next three rounds if a Top 8 one is available.
  • Avoid bye week conflicts that currently exist (Weeks 5 and 9) when possible.
  • Fast-forwarding this roster, you should have 1 QB, 3 RBs, 3 WRs and 2 TEs after 9 rounds.

    Here is another example (drafting from the 10th position):

  • 10. TE Rob Gronkowski, NE/9
  • 15. RB Jamaal Charles, KC/7
  • 34. RB Doug Martin, TB/5
  • 39 RB Reggie Bush, Mia/7
  • 58. WR Dwayne Bowe, KC/7
  • 63. WR Torrey Smith, Bal/8
  • Assessing where you are:

  • You have good roster balance one strong TE, three starting RBs and two solid WRs.
  • You have Bye Week issues in Week 7, but that is the most common week to have them as six teams are off. Adding later depth will cover any issues that develop.
  • So in this example your next steps would be:

  • Grab another starting tight end in the next 2-3 rounds (before they dry up).
  • Add a strong WR in the next 3-4 rounds (without a Week 7 bye).
  • Add your starting QB in the next round or two if a Top 8 one is available.
  • Fast-forwarding this roster, you should have 1 QB, 3 RBs, 3 WRs and 2 TEs after 9 rounds.

    See the theme here? That's right.

    The Perfect FPC Draft should have 1 QB, 3 RBs, 3 WRs and 2 TEs after 9 rounds.

    Moving to Fill Positional Needs

    Quarterbacks

    If you followed this plan up to here, you probably did not select a QB with the top 50 picks. If you did get an elite one without overpaying, you should avoid adding a 2nd quarterback until after the 10th round.

    Most times you won't be rostering these "elite" QBs because some other owner will have overpaid. They may think they are going to have an awesome team grabbing Rodgers, Brees or Brady early, but most times that simply will not be the case. How can I say that with such conviction? Because draft after draft, I have seen the same thing happen. People overpay for the top quarterbacks, and then a lull takes place creating pockets of value for quarterbacks 10 through 15. The guys you need are in this second group and by waiting you will secure the running back, wide receiver and tight end talent needed to field a dominant team.

    The ADP data source continues to be the the 2012 FFPC/FPC ADP Data compiled by Clayton Gray. Keep in mind that in general, quarterbacks go later than expected in the FPC format, simply because tight ends are elevated up the ADP chart along with RB and WR.

    Here are the Quarterbacks that I think represent great value this year:

  • Matt Ryan, Atl/7 (Value = 50, ADP = 54 (assuming he is now higher than Michael Vick) in the 5th round or later. - His draft stock is going up by the minute so he may not represent a value pick for very much longer. The Falcons have revamped their offensive philosophy to a vertical pass attack and Matt Ryan could be primed for a huge breakout year. WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White are both elite and veteran Tony Gonzalez is still getting it done despite his advanced age. It's an added bonus that Matt Ryan also graded out as the key person to have in any QBBC strategy.

  • Robert Griffin III, Was/10 (Value = 71, ADP = 82) in the 7th round or later. - I see a future star in this league in Griffin. He may just be entering the league, but the poise he has already shown this preseason has confirmed my early thoughts that Griffin can be a difference maker. He can beat you both with his arm and his feet. The Redskins upgraded their wide receivers substantially this offseason and old man Santana Moss is still there to help move the chains.

  • Ben Roethlisberger, Pit/4 (Value = 87, ADP = 86) in the 8th round or later. Big Ben Roethlisberger loves to throw the ball and stay in the pocket for the Steelers, who now will struggle running the ball with no featured tailback after Rashard Mendenhall's injury. Roethlisberger has big play targets with all his wide receivers, giving him options to spread the ball around and drive a pass-happy attack.
  • If you miss on Matt Ryan and Robert Griffin, I would look to pounce on Ben Roethlisberger as soon as two of these players are off the board: Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning. Let those guys be your trigger. When they start getting drafted, you need to grab Roethlisberger before it's too late.

    Late in the draft, I like these quarterback flier picks to represent value:

  • Andrew Luck, Ind/4 (Value = 127, ADP = 113) in the 11th round or later. - He is already showing the poise he demonstrated at Stanford and has no competition at the position. The Colts are lacking of big play skilled players, but still have Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie to throw to. But in the 11th round, you are gambling on the upside and Luck has plenty of that.

  • Alex Smith, SF/9 (Value = 112, ADP = 161) in the 13th round or later. - San Francisco upgraded their offense and brought all 11 defensive starters back. They are primed to make a strong run in 2012. Alex has no competition for snaps. He may not be a sexy pick, but he should outplay his draft position by a significant margin.

  • Jake Locker, Ten/11 (Value = 143, ADP = 159) in the 13th round or later. - Jake Locker has won the starting role this year in Tennessee. That could be a strong fantasy role with Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and rookie Kendall Wright at wide receiver, not to mention TE Jared Cook and RB Chris Johnson out of the backfield. Locker also has good running ability which only adds to his fantasy value.

  • Russell Wilson, Sea/11 (Value = 133, ADP = 199) in the 15th round or later. - The Seahawks thought that they had grabbed their QB of the future when they signed free agent Matt Flynn, but Russell Wilson has played far too well in the preseason to keep on the bench. Wilson is a surprise starter that many other fantasy team owners will not even know who he is in some of your drafts. Grab him late with some great upside value as Wilson is very athletic and has a strong arm. He may not be this year's Cam Newton, but picking a QB this late with about 75-80% of Newton's upside is a great value play.
  • Running Backs

    In most leagues, running backs are golden. Yes they can run and catch, but the real reason they are golden is that there simply are not enough of them to go around. More and more teams are using a committee approach to the running back position, pulling the starter both on obvious passing downs and sometimes in goal line situations. It has made the workhorse backs (that do all three roles) even more valuable, but also created a bigger pool of next tier backs that don't do it all. If you followed the Top 50 plan from above, you likely have a nice stable of backs on your roster to build the rest of your team around.

    But two or three quality backs don't make a powerhouse fantasy roster...Having depth at RB does.

    The ADP data source continues to be the the 2012 FFPC/FPC ADP Data compiled by Clayton Gray. Keep in mind that in general, running backs go slightly later than expected in the FPC format, simply because tight ends are elevated up the ADP chart along with wide receivers.

    Here are the other RBs that I would target for value (outside of the top 50 picks):

  • Donald Brown, Ind/4 (Value = 52, ADP = 73) in the 6th round or later. - He is the starter and doesn't look pressed for carries from anyone. He exploded for 161 rushing yards and a score on just 16 carries in week 16 last year.

  • C.J. Spiller, Buf/8 (Value = 47, ADP = 78) in the 6th round or later. - He is again backing up Fred Jackson, but showed last year that he can deliver with more carries. Fred Jackson is 31 years old. It's not out of the realm of possibilities that he again misses time (or gets benched for Spiller). A high risk/high reward pick. Even in a timeshare, Spiller will get looks.

  • Stevan Ridley, NE/9 (Value = 53, ADP = 80) in the 6th round or later. - Now that BenJarvus Green-Ellis is in Cincinnati, the goal line job for the Patriots falls to Stevan Ridley. Anyone who had Green-Ellis last year as a touchdown machine knows how valuable Ridley can be in a similar role. Ridley will be the power back this year and the workhorse in the fourth quarter, running out the clock and racking up touchdowns against tired defenses. Even if New England uses a committee approach to their backfield, Ridley should be the most valuable fantasy Patriots back.

  • Kevin Smith, Det/5 (Value = 64, ADP 72) in the 6th round or later. - I have zero faith we will ever see Jahvid Best play again. Mikel Leshoure might be the back eventually there, but starts the year injured and serving a suspension. Kevin Smith is the starter by default. He had 201 combined yards (and 3 TDs) in week 4 last year and is just 26 years old.

  • DeAngelo Williams, Car/6 (Value = 76, ADP = 92) in the 7th round or later. Williams was re-signed in Carolina last year, signifying that the organization believes in his long term value. Williams averaged over five yards a carry last year and finished just outside of the Top 25 rushers in both PPR and non-PPR formats even though he averaged fewer than 10 rushes a game. Imagine what he can do if that number moves to the 15-18 per game plateau? Snap up Williams as a nice value play wherever you can.

  • Mark Ingram, NO/6 (Value = 66, ADP = 87) in the 7th round or later. - He had a disappointing rookie season, but has flashed skills this preseason and plays in a high-powered offense. If he distances himself from Pierre Thomas, he could deliver a huge season on this team.

  • Rashad Jennings, Jac/6 (Value = 82, ADP = 109) in the 8th round or later. - Maurice Jones-Drew continues to hold out, and you will struggle to find a starting tailback later in your draft. Even if Jones-Drew comes back, Jennings will get plenty of work for Jacksonville and players who are late into training camps or skip them entirely do have a history of slow starts and injures. Great upside pick here.

  • Ryan Williams, Ari/10 (Value = 93, ADP = 96) in the 9th round or later. - I have never been much of a believer in Chris Wells. The team drafted Ryan to replace Beanie and then prompted to lose him to an ACL injury last year. He is running strong in camp while Beanie continues to remain injured.

  • Evan Royster, WAS/10 (Value = 104, ADP = 124) in the 10th round or later. - There is a logjam at running backs on the Redskins, but Royster has been running with the first team for the last month. Roy Helu is considered a better blocker, but the coaches seem to like the complete game associated with Royster. Draft him while cheaply he remains under the radar.

  • Felix Jones, Dal/5 (Value = 116, ADP = 151) in the 12th round or later. - Felix came into camp overweight and frankly has not looked very good this preseason. But here is a player who was the starter for the Cowboys to start last season. DeMarco Murray looked good and then faded last year. Without much else at RB, Felix Jones may get more looks than everyone is expecting simply by default. If he sheds the weight, he should be the team's 3rd down RB.

  • Taiwan Jones, Oak/5 (Value = 135, ADP = 228) in the 13th round or later. - Darren McFadden is immensely talented, and maybe he really does stay healthy this year. But it won't surprise any of us if McFadden is sidelined again, which would open the door for Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones. While Goodson ran well in limited opportunities in Carolina, he's a more one dimensional straight line runner, whereas Jones is the explosive, do-it-all back that would better suit the Raiders offense. It's likely the Raiders would use a committee, but Jones ability to catch the ball and break explosive plays makes him a high risk, high upside end game choice.

  • Bilal Powell, NYJ/9 (Value = 145, ADP = 250) in the 15th round or later. - He has secured the 3rd down RB for the Jets (over Joe McKnight) and might end up pushing Shonn Greene for the starting job. Greene is nothing special at all (averaging just 4.1 yards per carry the last two years despite running behind a good offensive line). Powell showed nothing last year as a rookie, but has made a big impression this year in camp.
  • Wide Receivers

    The biggest key to having a great wide receiver corps is following the Top 50 plan above and then swooping in and stealing the players that slide unnecessarily in a draft. The ADP data source continues to be the the 2012 FFPC/FPC ADP Data compiled by Clayton Gray. Keep in mind that in general, wide receivers go slightly later than expected in the FPC format, simply because tight ends are elevated up the ADP chart.

    Here are some guys that should represent excellent value this year:

  • DeSean Jackson, Phi/7 (Value = 49, ADP = 66) in the 6th round or later. - He has a new contract and appears motivated to play his best football. He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

  • Torrey Smith, Bal/8 (Value = 46, ADP = 70) in the 6th round or later. - He has emerged as the WR1 on this team. Baltimore is promising more "no-huddle" and increased looks vertically. Smith is the player who will benefit with this change in philosophy the most.

  • Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oak/5 (Value = 79, ADP = 101) in the 7th round or later. - He struggled his first two years in the league, but flashed his true potential at the end of last year catching 26 passes for 433 yards and 2 TDs in his last 4 games. Gifted with amazing speed, this is a player on the rise.

  • Denarius Moore, Oak/5 (Value = 91, ADP = 102) in the 8th round or later. - He is nursing a hamstring issue which is a bit troublesome, but showed immense talent in spurts last year. He could become an elite talent in this league.

  • Santonio Holmes, NYJ/9 (Value = 94, ADP = 111) in the 9th round or later. - He is the WR1 by a wide margin on this team. He is nursing an injury (as are the rest of the Jets' receivers), but is expected to be ready to go soon.

  • Titus Young, Det/5 (Value = 99, ADP 103) in the 9th round or later. - This 2nd year player is having an electrifying camp and plays on an offense that should challenge for the league lead in pass attempts. I like his chances to have a break-through season.

  • Brandon LaFell, Car/6 (Value = 114, ADP = 149) in the 10th round or later. - He has emerged as the WR2 on the high-flying Carolina offense. Steve Smith is 32 years old (an age where speed starts diminishing) and could see his targets decline as the year goes on. LaFell managed 103 yards and a TD on just 3 catches in week 16 last year.

  • Jerome Simpson, Min/11 (Value = 129, ADP = 173) in the 12th round or later. - Probably known more for his spectacular flip last season for the Bengals, Jerome has developed into a pretty good player. He will start the year suspended, but will be WR2 on the Vikings after the suspension. He had three 100+ yard efforts in 2011 and has improved every year.

  • Doug Baldwin, Sea/11 (Value = 126, ADP = 177) in the 12th round or later. - It's a mess at wide receiver in Seattle, but Baldwin is one of the guys who will have a role no matter what. Sidney Rice is the big wildcard, but he still is not healthy. Doug managed 136 yards and a TD against the Super Bowl winning Giants in week 5 last year. At age 24, he is an intriguing prospect going forward.

  • Davone Bess, Mia/7 (Value = 131, ADP = 165) in the 12th round or later. - Someone in Miami has to catch the ball. I am not in love with Bess' game, but it's hard to imagine him not getting targets and some production based on who else is on this roster.

  • David Nelson, Buf/8 (Value = 137, ADP = 224) in the 13th round or later. - This player gets zero respect, but he improved significantly in his 2nd year. He is worth a gamble this late and represents nearly zero risk of not performing at his ADP.

  • Emmanuel Sanders, Pit/4 (Value = 151, ADP = 193) in the 13th round or later. - Up to this point in his career, he has had a very minor role. But with injuries mounting at RB for the Steelers, the team may need a lot more from Emmanuel Sanders in 2012. He has a lock on the WR3 job behind Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace.

  • Brian Hartline, Mia/7 (Value = 155, ADP = 247) in the 15th round or later. - See Bess above. Someone has to be the WR1 in Miami. Bess and Hartline are the favorites to be that player.
  • Some other WRs will undoubtedly slip in your drafts besides the above targeted bargain list. In recap, grab approximately three receivers in rounds 2 through 6 and then wait for exceptional value to emerge at WR because it always does.

    Tight Ends

    The New England Patriots rolled out two rookie TEs in 2010 and those players took the league by storm. That continued through 2011 and many more teams are now deploying two TE sets to confuse defenses.

    Because so many more teams are utilizing the TE position, there are almost always bargains at this position late in a draft. In fact once the top 7-8 names come off the board, there is minimal pressure on the TE position the rest of the draft (in leagues that start just 1 TE). It's no surprise that since TEs catch a relatively small amount of passes, primarily on short and intermediate routes (again, excluding the top tier guys), there usually isn't a great deal of variance between the sixth-best PPR TE and the 11th best. Last year the 6th best TE scored 191 fantasy points while the 11th best contributed 173 points (18 point difference or 1.1 points per game).

    So ultimately, once you get past the big TEs, you're really debating over approximately a few points per week (which is why it can be wise to just wait until the later rounds to select a TE).

    The tight end that I will be targeting in most of my drafts this year is Aaron Hernandez, NE/9 (Value = 29, ADP = 41) in the late 3rd or early 4th round. I think the Patriots decision to not give Wes Welker a longterm deal speaks volumes about what they plan to do in the passing game this year. And that plan involves using both TEs on the field as their standard offense. Instead of always using Welker in the slot, I expect the team to slide Hernandez in the slot out of a lot of these two TE formations. Add in Hernandez rushing skills and he should be an elite option all year at the position.

    The ADP data source continues to be the the 2012 FFPC/FPC ADP Data compiled by Clayton Gray. Keep in mind that in general, tight ends go much, much earlier than expected in the FPC format, simply because tight ends are elevated up the ADP chart due to the 1.5 PPR and Dual Flex rules.

    Here are the other TEs that I think represent great value in drafts this season:

  • Brandon Pettigrew, Det/5 (Value = 67, ADP = 75) in the 7th round or later. - He had a slew of drops that could have been TDs. I like his game and he plays in an offense that insures he is rarely double teamed. If he adds the TDs and converts on more of his 125 targets, he could put up huge numbers at TE for a fraction of the cost of the big 3.

  • Brent Celek, Phi/7 (Value = 117, ADP = 129) in the 10th round or later. - Despite getting just 17 yards in three weeks (weeks 3-5), Celek finished the year with 62 catches, 811 yards and 5 TDs. He had 4 games with 75+ yards receiving.

  • Dustin Keller, NYJ/9 (Value = 124, ADP = 152) in the 12th round or later. - This is not a sexy selection, but with no real WR2 on the Jets, Keller should be targeted enough to provide excellent value. He finished with 65 catches, 815 yards and 5 TDs and has no challenger for his position.

  • Kyle Rudolph, Min/11 (Value = 136, ADP = 150) in the 13th round or later. - The Minnesota Vikings have no real veteran receiving presence in their offense after Percy Harvin, who is still rather inexperienced himself. With a young quarterback (Christian Ponder) and injury concerns with their star running back (Adrian Peterson), Minnesota can use all the talent they can get in the passing game. Rudolph will be splitting time with John Carlson which limits both of their upsides, but if Rudolph becomes the primary tight end then his fantasy value really climbs the chart.

  • Greg Olsen, Car/6 (Value = 142, ADP = 132) in the 13th round or later. - He did not put it all together last year after moving to Carolina from Chicago. He split time with Jeremy Shockey last year, but now is the only legitimate TE on their roster for this year. Playing with Cam Newton, Olsen should have a lot of opportunity to put in his best season to date.
  • Since tight end is a premium in the FFPC and FPC contests, here are three additional later picks to consider:

  • Lance Kendricks, Stl/9 (ADP = 179) in the 14th round or later. - Sam Bradford and the Rams are still a work in progress, a good description for his top tight end. Kendricks struggled a great deal last year (28 catches, zero touchdowns) despite a lot of hype entering the 2011 campaign. The good news is that he will be the starter again and the odds are against another zero touchdown season. Kendricks has been featured a great deal in the preseason and offers a lot of upside as late pick.

  • Kellen Davis, Chi/6 (ADP = 230) in the 17th round or later. - Chicago likes what they saw in Kellen Davis down the stretch last year and the coaching staff is going to be using him as a key part of the passing attack going forward. Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler will stretch the field, opening up the middle and shorter routes for a big tight end.
  • Place Kickers

    In leagues that go after kickers early, just wait. You can get an adequate PK in the last two rounds of your draft. In leagues that draft this position real late (most leagues), look towards the second to last round to grab the one kicker you will roster. Suffice it to say that in a lot of leagues now, people wait until their last pick to take their kickers and end up missing the good kickers by a few picks. Most likely that sleeper WR you want in the second to last round will still be there for you in the last round. In waiver wire friendly leagues (most), don't be afraid to draft just one kicker and add others as necessary during the season to cover the bye weeks and/or exploit matchups.

    The kicker I am targeting in a lot of drafts is Garrett Hartley, NO/6. You can usually get him after 6 kickers are taken. Should you miss out on him, grabbing Shayne Graham, Hou/8 will get you a producer after ten or more kickers have been taken.

    Defenses

    Scoring systems generally come into play and define when defenses are taken. I suggest you wait until 7-9 defenses get selected and then take the Bills defense with confidence.

    Another winning strategy to deploy after the draft for defenses is simply to look two games ahead in the waiver process. Most teams will have one or two defenses meaning that half of the defenses are available as free agent pick ups each week. By looking two to three weeks ahead at who will be playing Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cleveland and Jacksonville etc. you likely can find a cheap defense that should perform well against subpar offenses. Drop this defense after their "quality game" so that you can continue to pick up other defenses that will have good weeks. Because of this strategy, I advise you to draft just one defense and look to play matchups the rest of the way. Every year two or three defenses are predicted to be terrible but end up playing great.

    Putting It All Together

    In Summary

    1. Use the Top 50 List to grab as much "core" talent as possible

    2. Assess your strengths and weaknesses after the Top 50 picks are gone. Look to fill in your roster as well as adding more RB, WR and TE depth should significant value be present.

    3. At the end of 9 rounds, you should have 1 QB, 3 RBs, 3 WRs and 2 TEs. This is a preference, but not mandatory. Do not reach in Rounds 7-9 to make this happen.

    4. QB value is available throughout the draft so just wait until it emerges. Unless you get a top guy at a reduced price, look to grab your first QB after 8 or 9 have been taken.

    5. Stockpile value wide receivers. Some will bust, but others will help you win your league. In this format, allocate no less than 7 roster spots for wide receivers. When in doubt choose younger players that have higher ceilings. To win the FPC you must connect on some cheap talent.

    6. Keep a pulse on TE throughout the draft and do not wait too long to grab your first tight end. They will go early in most drafts, but if for some reason they are falling do not hesitate to grab two studs. If there is a run on them as expected, do not wait and grab at least one of them before the studs disappear. The good news about a tight end run is that RB and WR values will fall to later rounds. Brent Celek, Dustin Keller and Kyle Rudolph are solid TE2s to target.

    7. Wait on defense, but don't be afraid to grab the first or second one in Round 12. If defenses go earlier than normal, wait for 6-8 defenses to be picked before you take your first. Do not add a second defense unless you feel you can spare two roster spots, but odds are a flier on a RB or WR is a better value. Work the waiver wire weeks ahead of great matchups for value.

    8. Wait on kicker, but don't be afraid to grab the first or second on your list in round 14. If kickers go early, take the fifth to eighth kicker off the board.

    Well that is it folks. Hope you all do well in your coming drafts. Remember, the key is not to just follow the FPC Top 50 and then the Top 300 PPR Lists but to see where it differs substantially from average drafts. This is how you get value with every pick. And value is how you build winning fantasy teams.

    Here is a sample team drafted from the 10th position (All picks taken at or before their ADP).

  • Rd 1 - Pick 6 TE Jimmy Graham, NO/6 (ADP = 6)
  • Rd 2 - Pick 19 RB Ryan Mathews, SD/7 (ADP = 19)
  • Rd 3 - Pick 30 RB Doug Martin, TB/5 (ADP = 41)
  • Rd 4 - Pick 43 RB Reggie Bush, Mia/7 (ADP = 52)
  • Rd 5 - Pick 54 WR Dwayne Bowe, KC/7 (ADP = 59)
  • Rd 6 - Pick 67 WR Torrey Smith, Bal/8 (ADP = 71)
  • Team breakdown: 0 QB, 3 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE

  • Rd 7 - Pick 78 - QB Matt Ryan, Atl/7 (ADP = 86)
  • Rd 8 - Pick 91 TE Jermaine Gresham, Cin/8 (ADP = 110) but will go earlier with 1.5PPR
  • Rd 9 - Pick 103 - WR Titus Young, Det/5 (ADP = 103)
  • Rd 10 - Pick 115 TE Brent Celek, Phi/7 (ADP = 129) but will go earlier with 1.5PPR
  • Team breakdown: 1 QB, 3 RB, 3 WR, 3 TE

  • Rd 11 - Pick 126 WR Brandon LaFell, Car//6 (ADP = 149)
  • Rd 12 - Pick 139 TE Kyle Rudolph, Min/11 (ADP = 150)
  • Rd 13 - Pick 150 RB Felix Jones, Dal/5 (ADP = 151)
    Rd 14 - Pick 163 WR Jerome Simpson, Min/11 (ADP = 173)
  • Rd 15 - Pick 174 WR Nate Burleson, Det/5 (ADP = 174) (Excellent pairing for Titus Young)
  • Rd 16 - Pick 187 WR Emmanuel Sanders, Pit/4 (ADP = 193)
  • Rd 17 - Pick 198 QB Russell Wilson, Sea/11 (ADP = 199)
  • Rd 18 - Pick 211 - Buffalo Bills Defense / Best Defense Available
  • Rd 19 - Pick 222 - RB Taiwan Jones, Oak/5 (ADP = 228)
  • Rd 20 - Pick 235 Best kicker available
  • Team breakdown: 2 QB, 5 RB, 7 WR, 4 TE, 1 PK and 1 D/ST

    Note: I have crafted this team to be balanced with four TEs, 5 RBs, and 7 WRs. Locking up high end TE2s plus a few wideouts that could break out are never a bad idea. This is the type of balanced roster with solid upside that could vault a team like this way up the rankings should these later players take advantage of their potential.

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

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