DynastyFootball

Ryan Mathews, Jacquizz Rodgers, and How To Lose a Fantasy League in 10 Picks

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Andie: Does Princess Sophia want to come out and play?
Ben: Who’s Princess Sophia?

* If you’ve seen more of that movie than what naturally happens changing channels, then you probably have some Eternal Sunshining to do before you begin your fantasy preparation.

As Davis Mattek pointed out in his Four Noble Truths, winning in fantasy is at least as much about who to avoid as to select. Without further adieu, here’s a trendy fantasy lineup that won’t win titles in 2013.

1. Marshawn Lynch (1.07)

Lynch was on a lot of fantasy titlists last year after his average draft position plummeted due to injury issues and the uncertainty surrounding his DUI. The subsequent inflation of his ADP combined with the imminent resolution of the drunk driving mess makes him the one clear cut disaster pick in the 1st round. I’ve previously demonstrated that Lynch is an overrated reality player with unsustainable splits.

Who You Should Pick Instead: If you’re drawn to a Lynch-type player, select Alfred Morris, a guy who is similar to Lynch but superior in every possible way.

2. Julio Jones (2.09)

In the big picture, Jones is a future megastar. I drafted him in the first round of the RotoViz Dynasty Startup. For 2013, he becomes something of a trap player. Jonathan Bales has demonstrated that Jones is overvalued in redraft. Moreover, my examination of draft strategy revealed that Marques Colston and Vincent Jackson have better 2013 projections. Therefore, you must draft a RB in Round 2.

Who You Should Pick Instead: Assuming you’re not in position to select Matt Forte or Steven Jackson at the top of Round 2, you should target Chris Johnson or DeMarco Murray. All of the trends are very positive for Johnson, a player who remains one of the biggest talents in the game. Meanwhile, DeMarco Murray is the obvious choice for those who aren’t scared off by the Cowboys’ dysfunctional coaching staff or Murray’s previous injuries. Murray represents a first round value at second round prices.

3. Randall Cobb (3.08)

RotoViz Staff – yes, that’s the implied imperial wewould vote for Percy Harvin, but my argument against Cobb follows the same logic. (Plus, Cobb is smaller and slower and must actually compete with other decent receivers.)

Who You Should Pick Instead: Andre Johnson.

I’m strongly predisposed to ignore older players, but this is a no-brainer. As James Goldstein adroitly details in Andre Johnson Doesn’t Give a F*ck that You Think He’s Old, Andre1500 is massively underrated. Compare the projections:

Cobb Andre1500
Low 9.2 9.9
Median 11.1 11.6
High 13.4 15.4

So Johnson crushes Cobb according to the Similarity Scores. But, wait, there’s a twist for those who are reading instead of skimming. While the numbers for Cobb are full price, the numbers for Andre1500 represent his projected score in half-ppr formats. If you drafted Andre Johnson and he only got half the credit for each reception that Cobb gets, you would still expect him to be more valuable. (RotoViz RB and WR apps now have 0.5 PPR scoring!)

Want more? Matt Schaub is poised to rejoin the quarterback elite, in part because DeAndre Hopkins will be the biggest impact rookie receiver. Hopkins’ presence could help Johnson improve his surprisingly mediocre touchdown numbers.

4. Ryan Mathews (4.09)

The dearth of 4th Round RB talent is one of the reasons you have to go RB-RB to start your draft. RotoViz has suggested that Mathews is becoming a value as the bandwagon empties, but the situation in San Diego remains pretty dire.

Who Should You Draft Instead: Marques Colston.

In PPR formats, Colston’s median projection (15.7) beats Mathews’ high projection (14.6). There are other considerations, of course – the value over replacement for the two positions isn’t necessarily the same – but giving up that many points is example of what I’ll refer to in a future article as How to Use VBD Principles to Destroy Your Team.

5. Eddie Lacy (5.02)

The fifth round is currently sprinkled with landmines, but Lacy’s presence boggles the mind. Here’s a quick rundown.

Who You Should Pick Instead: Torrey Smith.

I’d suggest Danny Amendola, but if you’ve read Anthony Zonfrelli’s piece on the rise of Amendola, you don’t really expect the New Wes Welker to be available in the fifth round once the draft season begins in earnest. Bryan Fontaine makes the case for Smith, detailing how he’ll see his targets rise dramatically while running a more complex route tree.

6. Gio Bernard (6.01)

Really? The closest comp for Bernard is Kendall Hunter. The best case scenario for Bernard is emerging as a slower version of Darren Sproles. Of course, Sproles scored nine fantasy points as a rookie and finished as RB127. Fortunately, the NFL has learned the value of small, pass-catching backs and has been drafting them earlier with the intention of playing them sooner. So to get an idea of Bernard’s likely rookie year impact, we should look at more recent backs who were similar in terms of size/speed/draft status.

Fantasy Points (PPR) RB Finish
Isaiah Pead 10 RB126
LaMichael James 18.4 RB114
Ronnie Hillman 54.9 RB66
Shane Vereen 11.7 RB122
Donald Brown 74 RB60
LeSean McCoy 158.5 RB32
Felix Jones 47.6 RB77

Okay, so that’s demoralizing. Intuitively, I would project Bernard to trump every single one of those seasons, but then I would have projected every single one of those previous backs to also outperform what they actually accomplished (excepting McCoy). That’s why we use historical comparisons.

Who You Should Pick Instead: Chris Thompson.

Just kidding. But I did recently suggest Thompson makes the better rookie pick, and I think Washington’s sleeper has more long term potential. In redraft formats, I would recommend picking just about anybody but Bernard. In this case, you should target Eric Decker and benefit from the Welker Effect.

7. Matthew Stafford (6.11)

Currently Stafford’s ADP is at the tail end of round six, but he’ll probably be available to you at this point in most competitive leagues. Stafford is my favorite NFL quarterback, but his current levels of efficiency will crush your team if his attempts crater. He’s going to be breaking in two new tackles in Riley Reiff and Jason Fox. His RotoViz projection puts him squarely outside the Top 15 quarterbacks.

(Full Disclosure: I recently drafted Stafford with the 86th pick in the RotoViz Startup draft, believing his short term and long term projections differ significantly.)

Who You Should Take Instead: Not a quarterback.

Based on my current suggested lineup, we have two runners and four receivers, so it’s probably time to go running back here. RotoViz makes an excellent argument for Mark Ingram in the 10 in 10 series.

8. Kyle Rudolph (8.05)

It may seem like hyperbole to claim that using an 8th round pick to draft an up-and-coming tight end would be an absolute dagger to your fantasy team, but it’s true nonetheless. Consider the projections for Rudolph versus Jermichael Finley.

Rudolph Finley
Low 5.3 6.2
Median 7.2 8.7
High 9.1 11.5

Finley is available in the 10th round, has Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback, and is still younger than Jimmy Graham. Rudolph catches passes from Christian Ponder and now has to compete with Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson for targets.

Who You Should Draft Instead: Cecil Shorts.

I’m a little reluctant to mention Shorts here because I strongly doubt his current 8th round ADP will hold up. If it does, you should instantly draft him as a cheap version of Randall Cobb. If not, RotoViz also likes T.Y. Hilton and Josh Gordon (even after the suspension).

9. Kenny Britt (9.05)

Britt is one of my personal favorites, but he’s a roster fit for only the most swashbuckling (delusional), risk-embracing (emotional) drafters. Despite incredible per play efficiency early in his career, Britt has never crested 800 receiving yards due to a combination of injuries and suspensions. The risk of those two maladies remains omnipresent, and he now has to compete with Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter for targets from the scatter-armed Jake Locker. Oh, and the Titans want to be run-based.

Who You Should Draft Instead: Lance Moore.

Moore is another cheap version of Randall Cobb.

10. Jacquizz Rodgers (10.05)

Rodgers averaged 8.8 ppg in ppr leagues last season and finished at RB29 despite competing with a broken down Michael Turner for touches. I explore his lack of NFL size and athleticism in demonstrating why Mike Gillislee doesn’t have a professional future. Rodgers won’t have many opportunities this season behind potential fantasy MVP Steven Jackson. If S-Jax goes down, expect Jason Snelling to soak up a lot of the carries.

Who You Should Pick Instead: Pierre Thomas.

We need another running back, and Thomas has been consistently superior to Ingram throughout his career. RB21 in 2011 with Sean Payton at the helm, Thomas is massively undervalued and also acts as a handcuff to Mark Ingram (or, to be more precise, Thomas is the guy you want, and Ingram acts as the handcuff, albeit one you have to draft first). In an injury-laden, nightmare scenario, Thomas and Ingram can be effectively deployed as RB1 and RB2 in your lineup.

What To Do About QB and TE

In 2013, your first ten picks should all be at RB and WR. The double-digit rounds hold almost no value at the two premium positions, yet are flush with TE and QB gems. In Round 11, you can select Greg Olsen or Owen Daniels.

At quarterback, the RotoViz Similarity Score apps absolutely love the boring veteran quarterbacks. If you drafted Joe Flacco last season, you could be forgiven for not realizing Flacco’s comps are better than those for Eli Manning or Matthew Stafford. If you owned Matt Schaub as your QB, you might be surprised to find that Schaub is going to have a massive bounceback campaign. He’s going to trounce Andy Dalton.

Here’s the final breakdown of our two comparative rosters. For more info on how to build a dominant fantasy squad, check out the excellent 10 in 10 series.

Trendy Loser RotoViz Winner
Round 1 Marshawn Lynch Alfred Morris
Round 2 Julio Jones Chris Johnson
Round 3 Randall Cobb Andre Johnson
Round 4 Ryan Mathews Marques Colston
Round 5 Gio Bernard Torrey Smith
Round 6 Eddie Lacy Eric Decker
Round 7 Matthew Stafford Mark Ingram
Round 8 Kyle Rudolph Cecil Shorts
Round 9 Kenny Britt Lance Moore
Round 10 Jacquizz Rodgers Pierre Thomas
Late Round Picks Greg Olsen
Joe Flacco
Matt Schaub

Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Redraft Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

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By Shawn Siegele | @ff_contrarian | Archive

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