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Faceoff: Eschewing WRs in a PPR League

August 24th


Clayton Gray: In a standard PPR league that starts three wide receivers, how would you feel about your team if you didn't draft a wide receiver in the first four rounds?

Jeff Haseley: Looking at the current PPR ADP for WRs, if I could get two of Steve Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Brandon Lloyd, Erick Decker and Antonio Brown, I would be fairly excited. All of those receivers are potentially fifth round selections. A 10, 11 or 12 slot could potentially get two of the above mentioned receivers with pick 5.10, 5.11 or 5.12, followed with 6.01, 6.02 and 6.03. The next selection in round 7 would look something like Denarius Moore, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Malcolm Floyd and Santonio Holmes. Potentially, by waiting until round five to select a WR, you could come away with...

  1. WR1 Brandon Lloyd
  2. WR2 DeSean Jackson
  3. WR3 Reggie Wayne

That's not too bad, especially if it means your first four picks are two strong RBs, a TE and a QB. The only problem with that is, if things don't go to plan, you could be left with one of the aforementioned five WRs plus two mediocre WRs like Malcolm Floyd and Santonio Holmes. This is where keeping track of team stats is important (Draft Dominator does it for you). If the owners picking before you have a rosters with 2-3 WRs each, there's a good chance that they will seek a different position, thus leaving you with a crack at the better WR options.

Andy Hicks: Pretty Horrible. I just couldn't do it. Three WRs is almost half my skilled roster and to eschew that for a stud QB, TE and 2 RBs would be something I'd have to be forced to do. I like to have a stud WR to base my team on and by the end of round 4 I'd prefer to have 2 top 16 WRs.

If for arguments sake I had to follow this approach, then I'd almost have to commit to half my roster being wide receivers in the hope of getting 3WRs that play to WR2 level or better later on. I can usually find 1 or 2 good WRs late, but like relying on a stud or 2 to carry my roster.

For the sake of practicalities I could end up with my first 7 rounds looking like this:

  • R1 - Darren McFadden
  • R2 - Jimmy Graham
  • R3 - Ahmad Bradshaw
  • R4 - Michael Vick
  • R5 - Dwayne Bowe
  • R6 - DeSean Jackson
  • R7 - Randy Moss

or

  • R1 - Aaron Rodgers
  • R2 - Adrian Peterson
  • R3 - Steven Jackson
  • R4 - Antonio Gates
  • R5 - Dwayne Bowe
  • R6 - Torrey Smith
  • R7 - Reggie Wayne

I'd be happy with either of those lineups. As Jeff explained though, this is a high risk strategy. I could end up with Steve Johnson as my WR1 or having to rely on the likes of Kenny Britt and Robert Meachem. No thanks.

Steve Holloway: I would feel very troubled by not having one wide receiver after four rounds were completed. The reason is not so much that there would not be wide receivers available in rounds five through ten, it is that my ability to draft the best value would be limited.

When you have to have three and you have none, there is a tendency to focus more on the position of need and overlook the value that is sliding at other positions. This is even more vital when there are flex players included.

The most prevalent drafting pattern I have noticed this year as the season approaches is that many drafters frequently mention the depth at wide receiver as the reason that they are taking running backs earlier and more often. If that happens in your draft, then you might be one of several owners that have an urgent need at the wide receiver position at the same time and that further compunds your shortage.

I prefer to be able to have options at all positions and think that you probably need at least one of your first four picks to be a wide receiver when you must start three.

Ryan Hester: At first I was going to say that I wouldn't feel like the world was ending if I didn't have a WR in the top four rounds. But Stephen's point about positional flexibility was certainly a good one. Attacking the WR depth in the middle-to-late rounds is definitely a prudent strategy. Ideally, though, I'd have one WR in the first three rounds just to be able to use a pick in the Round 4-6 range on a player of another position who is falling down the board.

Sticking with the original question posed, however, I look at it this way. Not having a #1 WR can be mitigated by also not having a #3 WR. Picking three consecutive players ranked as WR2's can help smooth out a potentially bad situation. Let's look at a couple of those guys:

  • 5th Round: Jeremy Maclin, Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, Steve Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, Antonio Brown
  • 6th Round: Eric Decker, DeSean Jackson
  • 7th Round: Torrey Smith, Reggie Wayne, Robert Meachem
  • 8th Round: Pierre Garcon, Denarius Moore

A WR1 case could be made for every guy at the top of that list. Similarly, a WR2 case could be made for anyone listed in the 6th round or lower. Going even deeper, a PPR WR2/WR3 case could be made for any of the following:

  • Titus Young (WR 39)
  • Randall Cobb (WR 47)
  • Kendall Wright (WR 48)
  • Austin Collie (WR 55)
  • Brandon LaFell (WR 56)
  • Nate Burleson (WR 60)
  • Davone Bess (WR 62)
  • Alshon Jeffrey (WR 63)
  • Steve Smith - STL (WR 69)

Sigmund Bloom: I would feel just fine about it. Likely I would have 2 RBs and a stud QB/TE or a hammerlock on RB with 3 and still have a stud QB or TE. The WR value is terrific this year with, 25-30 strong plays, and lots of upside in the 30-40 range. Even if you didn't take a WR until the 5th, you could easily end up with say, Vincent Jackson, Eric Decker, and Pierre Garcon as your starting 3 WR, and all have top 20 upside, if not top 10. Unless it's a player you're in love with or the last member of a tier, always break ties in favor of the non-WR during drafts this year.

Jeff Pasquino: In a non-PPR league, I can see this, especially if the league was just 10 teams. With 12 teams even I could see justification here as you can load up on 2-3 RBs and get a stud QB or TE. The best part is that most teams would be looking at QB/TE and backup RBs as you collected your WRs in Rounds 5-7. Now, you have to look ahead and see if you like at least six or so of the project WR30-50 wideouts, but as long as you grab NFL starters (preferably a team's first option in the passing game or the second option in a potent offense) you should be fine.

I agree with most of the sentiment that I would want one of the Top 20 WRs and then use my other three picks for RBs (or 2 RBs and a stud QB or TE). Painting yourself into a corner where you must select a player at a given position often backfires as you'll draft someone you really never wanted.

Maurile Tremblay: I agree with Bloom. I'd also feel just fine about it if I got solid value at two RB spots, QB, and TE. (If I can start a third RB, including at a flex position, I'd also be okay with a third RB instead of the QB or TE.) My next four picks, at least, would all be WRs. But I don't see anything wrong with that.

If the best values on the board in the first four rounds are all non-WRs, then I'll take all non-WRs. I reject the idea that I should pass over the best value in round four for the sake of remaining flexible later. The point of remaining flexible is so that you can take the best value on the board instead of letting positional needs dictate your strategy. But by drafting a WR in round four just for the sake of drafting a WR, and not because a WR is the best value available, you're already letting positional concerns dictate your strategy. There's no sense in giving up value now so as to avoid possibly having to give up value later. That's like paying $40 to park in a lot instead of risking a 50% chance of getting a $40 ticket by parking on the street.