The Perfect "Going Deep" Lineup
Those who follow my work know the only thing I enjoy more than writing about fantasy football is playing fantasy football. I play a lot in leagues like the NFFC and the FFPC. Now PFF has joined the fray with a game that trumps all of them. To get the full rundown on the best new fantasy game in town, head over and read about PFF’s Going Deep Challenge. Here are my two favorite reasons to play:
1) The price point is manageable. For $75 you get an entry into the best contest out there.
2) The format is spectacular. One of my least favorite aspects of fantasy football is setting my lineup. If I have two RB2 candidates who are better than my opponent’s, it’s annoying to choose between them and run the risk of randomly getting outscored. If I have three WR3 candidates that are better than my opponent’s, I feel the same way. Better, deeper teams should win.
Well, PFF’s Going Deep solves that problem by rewarding the best overall roster. It requires you to start 1-QB, 3-RB, 6-WR, 2-TE, and 1-SuperFlex. The best part of fantasy football is rooting for your players, and this format gives you more to root for. The worst part of fantasy football is the somewhat bizarre feeling of actively rooting against your bench players, even though in the back of your mind you know it’s beneficial to your long term hopes if they also play well. Problem alleviated.
A couple of days ago, I was promoting the contest over at RotoViz and looked at how to put together a dominant lineup from the 4-spot. Today, I’m going to use PFF’s Advanced Stats to show how to put together an unbeatable team from the 5-8 range.
First Round: C.J. Spiller
Let’s take a quick peak at how Spiller compared to the bruisers in PFF’s Elusive Rating (which might have been called Punisher-Slash-Explosiveness Rating if not for the wordiness).
|#||Name||Team||Att.||Rec.||Y.Co/Att.||MT Rush||MT Rec||Elusive Rating|
|2||Adrian L. Peterson||MIN||348||40||3.93||64||7||72|
Spiller finished with the top Elusive Rating despite the epic 3.93 yards after contact posted by Adrian Peterson. For someone who ran almost as fast as Chris Johnson at the Combine, Spiller’s ability to force missed tackles is elite. Based on running back aging curves, if Spiller is going to make a run at the all-time single-season yards from scrimmage record, it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
Second Round: Chris Johnson
Recently I compared Jamaal Charles to Adrian Peterson and pointed out how players like Charles and Johnson actually perform pretty well after contact because every missed tackle forced is worth more yardage to them than it is to someone like Marshawn Lynch. (And by a wide margin.) Johnson is also a poster child for the Vision Yards concept. He averaged more yards before contact than AP last season despite getting far inferior blocking. Take advantage of the negative buzz surrounding Johnson to get him at a massive discount.
Third Round: David Wilson
When it comes to good mid-draft values, the running back landscape is almost completely barren in 2013. Starting RB-RB-RB is strongly recommended in many formats, including this one. Wilson’s ADP currently hovers in the early third, but the potential for starting two quarterbacks and the necessity of starting six receivers should push him down just far enough for us here.
We don’t really know what to expect with Wilson, but he posted solid numbers in both the Elusive and Breakaway categories in a tiny sample. Wilson fits the Second Year/First Round profile that makes for a good gamble, and Giants backs often do quite well in the fantasy department.
Fourth Round: Jordy Nelson
In 2011 Jordy Nelson finished with 2.98 yards per route, an unsustainable number that would have left him second to Andre Johnson in 2012. He also splashed down for 15 touchdowns, a fluky total largely pilfered by James Jones this past season.
Nelson dealt with injuries in 2012 and saw his raw totals decline sharply. His advanced splits still showed room for optimism. All three Green Bay wide receivers finished in the top six in fantasy points per target, a pleasant offshoot of catching balls from Aaron Rodgers. Moreover, his snap percentage rose from 60% in 2011 to 68% in 2012. Of the Packers receivers, Nelson represents the highest upside and the most bang for your ADP buck.
Fifth Round: Pierre Garçon
Garçon struggled with injuries last season but caught fire at the end to the tune of 2.94 yards per route. That finished second to Andre1500 and left players like Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, and Demaryius Thomas in the dust. Garçon is only available in this area because he opted not to address his toe problem and possibly due to skepticism about the sample size of his late season outburst. I can’t exactly say, Fear Not!, but Garçon is a decent risk-adjusted bet in this spot. He played through the toe problems with success at the end of last season, and RG3 is only going to get better.
Sixth Round: Colin Kaepernick
The SuperFlex allows you to start a second quarterback, elevating the potential value of the position. The four-point touchdown scoring and a lack of emphasis on passing yards moves the run-oriented quarterbacks to the fore.
Kaepernick revitalized the 49ers offense last season, but it was as much with his arm as his legs. Once he took over, the young phenom ranked among the top quarterbacks in deep passing percentage and No. 1 by a mile in deep accuracy (61%). Even without Michael Crabtree, that type of ability will create lanes for receivers and for runners, himself included. In fact, Crabtree’s injury allows you to get a potential superstar for relative peanuts.
Seventh Round: Danario Alexander
With the need to start 13 players, we can’t afford to take handcuffs or high upside backups like Ben Tate or Bryce Brown. Alexander led the NFL with 2.69 fantasy points per target in 2012. He won’t be able to sustain that type of production in the Ken Whisenhunt offense, but Alexander is an easy bet to leave Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen in the dust. One of the best college receivers in recent memory, Alexander’s balky knees create an opportunity to get a mega-talent in the seventh.
Eighth Round: Mike Williams
Recently I explained how Williams was primed to be a Dynasty Star. Joe Owens followed that up by showing how he’s dramatically undervalued again this year. Check out the tantalizing statistical splits in those pieces and see why he might be poised to outscore Vincent Jackson this year.
Ninth Round: Lance Moore
Fantasy players are forgetting Moore finished as WR21 last season. He’s a strange player who was trendy last season, paid off big time for those who believed in him, and now has fallen by the ADP wayside. The odds that Joseph Morgan, Nick Toon, or Kenny Stills significantly cut into his playing time are miniscule.
Tenth Round: Michael Floyd
Considering all the buzz surrounding Michael Floyd, will we see him available in the 10th round this fall? I doubt it, but until the ADP numbers tick up, you have to take him here. I’ve been a mild skeptic of Floyd who posted mediocre advanced splits in college, but his size/speed profile remains that of an early first round pick. Arizona beat writers suggest Floyd’s emergence this season is a fait accompli.
Eleventh Round: Brian Hartline
I recently suggested Brian Hartline would outscore his new teammate this season. Hartline averaged 2.03 yards per route in 2012 to only 1.53 for Mike Wallace. Mike Clay’s paradigm-shifting column on opportunity-adjusted touchdowns demonstrated how Hartline should have reached pay dirt nearly seven times last season. Even if you think Hartline is a terrible red zone threat, he should see a bump in touchdowns this season. With Ryan Tannehill impressing in OTAs, Hartline could easily take another step forward this year.
Twelfth Round: Ryan Broyles
I wrote an article on Possession Receiver Sustainability and Breakouts for the PFF Draft Guide. It’s a must read if you plan to stake your fantasy fortune on trendy guys like Randall Cobb, Percy Harvin, or Danny Amendola. I won’t spoil the breakout player spotted by the uncannily accurate Breakout Filter, but Broyles came very close to the meeting the criteria and could easily see 120-plus targets for Detroit.
Thirteenth Round: Matt Schaub
I’m not sure where QB2 prospects will end up going in this format. Traditionally, the QB2 tier goes much later in high stakes formats with 18 or more roster spots than they do in leagues with 16 roster spots. Two competing issues will be in conflict in the PFF format. The deflating force will be the need to start 11 players at RB-WR-TE. The inflating force will be the possibility of starting a second quarterback in the SuperFlex. I have a feeling drafters will want the security of a QB2 and then find themselves plugging that player in the SF.
I’ve been the lone voice in the wilderness on Matt Schaub, but recently Ron Jaworski chimed in by ranking him No. 9 in the NFL.
Fourteenth Round: Fred Davis
One of my other contributions to the Guide was the Tight End Feature where I recommended waiting until deep in your draft to address the position. Davis is a perfect example. Many are forgetting he averaged 1.96 yards per route last season before getting hurt, a number which would have trailed only Rob Gronkowski. He averaged more fantasy points per game in 2011 than Jason Witten. Washington will throw more in 2013 and still lacks talent at the wide receiver position.
Fifteenth Round: Dwayne Allen
Allen was PFF’s No. 2 ranked tight end last season. He now gets Pep Hamilton’s tight end-centric offense. He’s easily one of the most underrated players in fantasy football.
Sixteenth Round: Dustin Keller
Keller also starred in the Tight End Feature. He takes his game to Miami where they have Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace as red zone threats. I mean where they have no red zone threats.
Seventeenth/Eighteenth Round: Joique Bell and Latavius Murray
It’s hard to guess how a draft will fall out in the final spots. According to some mock draft sites Joique Bell and Latavius Murray will be available this late. Perhaps even better players will be available in this particular format. I would expect all of the clearly playable runners to go very early and then the RB5/6 tier to fall much further than in regular formats. Regardless, Bell and Murray both play behind injury prone runners. Bell appears ready to beat out Mikel Leshoure for the backup position in Detroit, while Murray possesses great athletic upside.
That’s Going Deep.