This Sunday, I’ll be participating in my annual RotoBowl draft. Before I do that, I want to share with you the details of the contest and I’ll also be doing a full breakdown of my draft strategy.
What is Rotobowl?
Rotobowl is a high stakes league with an entry fee of $259.00. That may seem a bit lofty, but consider that the grand prize is a whopping $25,000. And that’s not the only prize. The winner of each 12-team league takes home $1,050, while second place hauls in $350, and third gets a $50 credit towards a future league.
Around since 2005, this year’s RotoBowl Tournament with be the eighth of its kind. RotoBowl is set up a lot like your normal Fantasy Football league, but it’s a National Tournament with hundreds of participants. There are only a handful of National tournaments for Fantasy Football and, at $259, RotoBowl’s entry fee is among the lowest.
If you’d like to compete against myself, other industry experts, and possibly a few celebrities in this year’s RotoBowl Tournament, head over to RotoBowl.com and sign up. Once you’re in, you’ll be placed in a random league of 12 competitors. This is where you’ll compete for the individual league prizes. From there, all participants are eligible to compete for the aforementioned Grand Prize, which is awarded based on your team’s performance throughout the season, with an emphasis on weeks 15 and 16.
Live online drafts are already underway and there are only a few dozen seats still open, including a few in my draft on September 2 at 8 pm EST.
Here are some additional facts about the RotoBowl competition. Each team’s roster will include 20 players, 11 of which are starters. The large starting lineup (it includes 2 flex spots) is another feature that attracted me to this Tournament. Anyone can pick a few studs in the first five rounds, happen to catch those players in career seasons, and ride that to a league championship. The 11-man starting lineup means you really have to know what you’re doing to compete for the Grand Prize. The scoring is pretty standard, but it’s worth noting that it is a point per reception (PPR) league.
In addition to RotoBowl, I’ll also be participating in the Loaded Salary Cap contest at RosterDoc.com. For just $24.95, you can choose any players you want to fill out your weekly line-up…as long as you stay under the $100 million team salary cap. Play the market well and you could take home a $10,000 prize. The top-20 overall finishers get a prize, as do the top-four in each league of 25 participants.
Special Promotion – Sign up using the promo code ‘PFFCLAY’ and get 50 percent off your entire purchase.
What really appeals to me about the Salary Cap contest this year is the new PFF Fantasy Gold tools I can use to get an advantage. Starting this season, our Custom Ranking Tool will supply you with weekly auction values. That’s right. Plug in your league roster and scoring settings and the system will spit out full weekly projections, rankings, and auction values.
My Draft Strategy
Much like I did each of the last two seasons, my plan here is to update all of you throughout my RotoBowl journey. Today, I introduced the contest and will give away my draft-day strategy. Following the draft, I’ll provide a recap. During the season, I’ll update my progress in the quest for the $25,000 Grand Prize.
The first step in preparing for a Fantasy Draft is to study and be sure you understand the league rules. That being said, here are the highlights:
• 12 teams will participate in the league
• Rosters will include 20 players, 11 of which are starters
• The 11-man starting lineup is as follows: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, FLEX, K, D/ST
• Scoring is fairly standard. Passing touchdowns score you four points. All other touchdowns are worth six points. One point is awarded for every 20 passing yards and every 10 rushing/receiving yards. This is a PPR league, which, of course, means an award of one point is given for each reception.
Considering both the fact that quarterbacks receive only four points for a passing touchdown and the depth at the position, I will more than likely be waiting to select one. Once I fill in most of my running back and wide receiver slots, my target will be one of Tony Romo, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning.
As is the case in all of my leagues, the gameplan early on will be to get, at least, a pair of tailbacks. The position is very shallow this year, so grabbing a pair of strong backs, and potentially a third for one of the flex slots, will be my strategy. Wide receiver is as deep as ever, but I’m likely to need a total of four in my starting lineup, so I’ll be addressing the position not long after I fill my running back slots.
Tight end is interesting this year. I generally stay away from Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski because I’m focused on running back in the early rounds. After another couple of rounds, Aaron Hernandez and Antonio Gates enter the radar. I think both provide exceptional value, especially when you consider that Hernandez saw more redzone looks than Gronkowski last season!
I don’t have an assigned draft slot just yet, so I’ll assume I’m picking in the middle of the round and do a bit of a round-by-round examination of who I’ll be targeting.
The first round figures to see between one and three quarterbacks come off the board, but none of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees will be on my roster unless they make it to the late second or third round. As mentioned earlier, I’ll be going all out to get a pair of strong tailbacks in the first three rounds. In the first, assuming I don’t have a top-three pick, I’ll be looking at Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray, and Matt Forte as my primary targets. In round two, I could settle on a top wideout if the draft isn’t flowing as I hoped, but the likes of Ryan Mathews and Jamaal Charles will be at the top of my radar. Getting McFadden in the first and Mathews in the second would be a homerun.
Although I’ll keep an eye on Darren Sproles, Trent Richardson, and Steven Jackson’s availability, I could go ahead and snatch up Greg Jennings, Roddy White or Hakeem Nicks in the third round. Similarly, the fourth round will see me taking a back or wide receiver. Doug Martin, Percy Harvin, and Marques Colston stand out.
The fifth round is where I’ll being thinking about tight end. If one of Gates or Hernandez fall, that will be my target. If not, I’ll be waiting quite a while at the position, potentially focusing in on Jason Witten, who has seen his ADP drop due to his spleen injury – an injury that figures to keep him out only in the short term.
The sixth round will be an ideal time to land a quarterback, as plenty of strong options have been falling this far. One of Romo, Manning, or Manning figures to be here. If not, I could pounce on Philip Rivers soon after or wait a bit longer for Ben Roethlisberger or Robert Griffin III. Either way, I’m getting a good value five rounds after the elite quarterbacks came off the board.
I’ll be using the next three rounds to fill out the final three slots of my offensive starting lineup. Some targets here will include backs Donald Brown and Mark Ingram; wideouts Torrey Smith, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Titus Young, Robert Meachem, and Lance Moore; and tight ends Jason Witten and Fred Davis. You’ll notice a lot more wide receivers than running backs in the list. There’s a good reason for that. It really shows the depth and appeal of the wide receiver position in the middle rounds, as opposed to the shallow, underwhelming cast of available running backs.
After my starting lineup (minus defense and kicker) is filled out, I’ll be looking primarily at running back depth, but also upside and potential breakout players at other positions. This is where I found Jordy Nelson last year and where the likes of Victor Cruz, Torrey Smith, DeMarco Murray, and Cam Newton come from.
Considering this will be approximately my 30th fantasy draft of the year, I obviously have a short list of guys I’ve accrued on most of my teams, including those late-round upside targets. Here are a few names I’ll be targeting on Sunday:
QB – Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning
RB – Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, DeMarco Murray, Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams, Rashad Jennings, Jacquizz Rodgers
WR – Hakeem Nicks, Jeremy Maclin, Eric Decker, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, Kenny Britt, Titus Young, Leonard Hankerson
TE – Antonio Gates, Aaron Hernandez, Greg Olsen, Jason Witten
Now that I’ve given away all my secrets, all that’s left to do is wait patiently for 8 p.m. EST on Sunday. Check back soon after for the draft recap.
In the meantime, head over to RotoBowl.com and check out their impressive list of contests and fantasy games. If you’d like to compete with me and hundreds of others for $25,000, sign up today for RotoBowl. The deadline to register is just days away.
Follow Mike Clay on Twitter: @MikeClayNFL