2014 Rotobowl Draft Strategy
Mike Clay shares his draft strategy for this year's Rotobowl tournament.
2014 Rotobowl Draft Strategy
On September 1, I’ll be participating in my annual Rotobowl draft. It’s my fifth consecutive year taking part. Same as in past years, I first want to share the details of the contest and supply a full breakdown of my draft strategy.
What is Rotobowl?
Rotobowl is a mid-stakes league hosted by FFToolbox.com.
Around since 2005, this year’s Rotobowl tournament with be the 10th 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 $279, Rotobowl’s entry fee is among the lowest.
Why join? For the recently-doubled $50,000 grand prize, of course. And that’s not all. $2,375 is paid out to members of each 12-team league, including $1,500 to each league champ. New for 2014 is the $500,000 Mega Prize. If the same person wins both Rotobowl and the Mock Draft World Championship, he or she takes come a half million bucks!
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, qualified participants are eligible to compete for the aforementioned Grand Prize, which is awarded based on your team’s performance in the fantasy playoffs.
Live online drafts are already underway and there are only a hundred or so seats still open, including a few in my draft on September 1 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 two 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 $24.99, 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 ‘CLAY2014’ and get 40 percent off your Salary Cap squad!
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. 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 four 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, including a ranking of each of the 12 teams. During the season, I’ll update my progress in the quest for the $50,000 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: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 FLEX, 1 K, 1 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.
On to the strategy:
Considering both the fact that quarterbacks receive only four points for a passing touchdown and the depth at the position, I’ll be waiting a while to select one. Once I fill in most of my running back and wide receiver slots, my target will be one of Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, and Jay Cutler. At least one figures to be available in Round 8 or 9.
As is the case in all of my 2014 leagues, the gameplan early on will be to focus on superstars. The Top 5 backs (Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, and Eddie Lacy), Top 6 wide receivers (Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Brandon Marshall), and Top 2 tight ends (Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski) will be atop my cheatsheet. My goal will be to get one stud tailback here, but I won’t reach for one over studs at wideout or tight end. Looking over my player projections, the numbers say the flex spot should be about 30 percent running backs, 70 percent wide receivers.
Wide receiver is as deep as ever, but I’m likely to need a total of four or five in my starting lineup, so I’ll be addressing the position early and often.
Tight end has become tricky because of Gronkowski’s current situation. If fully cleared for Week 1, both he and Graham would be worthy of consideration in the first round. Graham, of course, still is, but Gronkowski’s health concerns make him a better bet closer to the Round 2/3 turn. Tier 2 options like Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron will come off the board earlier than where I’d take them, but there will be value to be had in the mid rounds. Jason Witten, Greg Olsen, Jordan Reed, Dennis Pitta, and Kyle Rudolph are big-time values at their ADPs.
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.
As mentioned earlier, I’ll be going all out to get a pair of superstars in the first three rounds. In the first, I’ll be looking at Eddie Lacy, Dez Bryant, and Jimmy Graham as my primary targets. In Round 2, I’ll be taking a long look at Gronkowski, but the likes of Le’Veon Bell, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, and Arian Foster will be on my radar.
Examining ADP, we see some big-time wideouts in the third round and some intriguing PPR running backs in Round 4. Alshon Jeffery, Randall Cobb, and Victor Cruz will be my Round 3 targets. I’ll shoot for C.J. Spiller, Zac Stacy, or Shane Vereen in the fourth.
At this point, I’m probably going to have two backs on my roster, and there won’t be many interesting names on the board outside of maybe Ray Rice. So I’ll continue addressing the wide receiver position. TY Hilton, Percy Harvin, DeSean Jackson, and Kendall Wright will likely be available.
I’ll finally start considering quarterbacks in the eighth. Currently, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Cutler, and Romo can be had after the first 90 picks are off the board. That’s strong value in the eighth or ninth round.
I’ll be using the next few rounds to fill out the final slots of my offensive starting lineup and load up on upside. The names that jump off the page all happen to be wide receivers: Rueben Randle, Kelvin Benjamin, Josh Gordon, DeAndre Hopkins, Justin Hunter, Mike Evans, Kenny Britt. 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.
Other upside targets during the later stages of the draft will include Carlos Hyde, Christine Michael, Jeremy Hill, Terrance West, Ka’Deem Carey, Mark Ingram, Zach Ertz, Ladarius Green, Delanie Walker, Jordan Matthews, Cody Latimer, Donte Moncrief, Markus Wheaton, Lance Dunbar, and James White.
Considering this will be approximately my 20th fantasy draft/mock 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 is a summary of guys I’ll be targeting:
QB – Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Jake Locker
RB – Andre Ellington, Shane Vereen, C.J. Spiller, Ray Rice, Lance Dunbar, Ka’Deem Carey
WR – Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Victor Cruz, Kendall Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson, Julian Edelman, Greg Jennings, DeAndre Hopkins, Justin Hunter, Jordan Matthews, Markus Wheaton, Cody Latimer
TE –Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Ladarius Green
Now that I’ve given away all my secrets, all that’s left to do is wait patiently for 8 p.m. ET on September 1. Check back soon after the draft for the recap.
In the meantime, head over to Rotobowl.com and RosterDoc.com to check out their impressive list of contests and fantasy games. If you’d like to compete with me and hundreds of others for $50,000, sign up today for Rotobowl. The season is only a few weeks away.