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Earlier this week RotoViz debuted the Snake Draft App, an interactive tool that lets you practice developing power lineups from every possible draft slot.

The app comes with all kinds of dials so you can specialize the results to your particular format. I set the dials such that it would select a lineup for an NFFC league – 1-QB, 2-RB, 3-WR, 1-Flex – and left the default of picking No. 5 overall.

Round Overall Conf. Based ADP Player POS Proj. Pts
1 5 7 Ray Rice RB 285.55
2 20 25 Peyton Manning QB 453.19
3 29 32 Darren Sproles RB 239.06
4 44 46 Reggie Wayne WR 252.24
5 53 53 Jason Witten TE 217.85
6 68 71 Andrew Luck QB 400.81
7 77 79 Steve Johnson WR 216.98
8 92 95 Lance Moore WR 193.52
9 101 111 Pierre Thomas RB 141.94
10 116 116 Jacquizz Rodgers RB 133.1
11 125 137 Santonio Holmes WR 162.72
12 140 141 Kendall Wright WR 175.11
13 149 200 Mike Goodson RB 103.94
14 164 200 Zac Stacy RB 99.81
15 173 200 Greg Little WR 153
16 188 200 Brandon Pettigrew TE 153.25

This isn’t a bad lineup, but I definitely don’t want a quarterback in R2. One of my favorite parts of the app is the ability to blacklist players. I add Peyton Manning to my list.

The app also uses the Fantasy Pros projections which seem irrationally exuberant on Reggie Wayne’s prospects, so we’ll take him out. I don’t want an early tight end, so Jason Witten is gone. Jacquizz Rodgers is the poster boy for How To Lose a Fantasy League in 10 Picks, so he’s blacklisted. Santonio Holmes and Mike Goodson may not even play this year, so we’ll get rid of them too.

That gives us this lineup:

Round  Overall  Conf. Based ADP  Player  POS  Proj. Pts
1 5 7  Ray Rice  RB 285.55
2 20 20  Reggie Bush  RB 256.92
3 29 34  Darren Sproles  RB 239.06
4 44 49  Tom Brady  QB 430.13
5 53 56  Pierre Garcon  WR 226.24
6 68 74  Andrew Luck  QB 400.81
7 77 82  Steve Johnson  WR 216.98
8 92 94  Jeremy Maclin  WR 198.14
9 101 106  Greg Olsen  TE 174.4
10 116 116  Pierre Thomas  RB 141.94
11 125 139  Marcel Reece  RB 111.04
12 140 145  Kendall Wright  WR 175.11
13 149 150  Brandon LaFell  WR 148.79
14 164 200  Zac Stacy  RB 99.81
15 173 200  Greg Little  WR 153
16 188 200  Brandon Pettigrew  TE 153.25

This is a pretty interesting lineup that features a bunch of RotoViz favorites. I’ve gotten very little positive feedback from my suggestion that you must go RB in Round 2, but the app suggests starting RB-RB-RB is actually the dominant strategy. In most formats, this is the best approach in 2013. I’ll look at how to approach formats similar to what they play in the FFPC in an upcoming column.

A few more thoughts:

The problems? We definitely don’t want two quarterbacks early. So I’ll set the dial to select only one total. We also don’t want RotoViz bust candidate Jeremy Maclin. I’ll blacklist him.

After a little more tweaking, this is the lineup I finished with.

Round  Overall  Conf. Based ADP  Player  POS  Proj. Pts
1 5 8  Ray Rice  RB 285.55
2 20 21  Reggie Bush  RB 256.92
3 29 32  Andre Johnson  WR 274.3
4 44 49  Ryan Mathews  RB 177.32
5 53 57  Pierre Garcon  WR 226.24
6 68 75  Andrew Luck  QB 400.81
7 77 83  Steve Johnson  WR 216.98
8 92 92  Mike Williams  WR 200.06
9 101 101  Isaiah Pead  RB 128.65
10 116 118  Pierre Thomas  RB 141.94
11 125 126  Owen Daniels  TE 163.7
12 140 147  Kendall Wright  WR 175.11
13 149 200  Zac Stacy  RB 99.81
14 164 200  Greg Little  WR 153
15 173 200  Brandon Pettigrew  TE 153.25

A couple of interesting things:

  • Ryan Mathews, who has been the focus of very positive and very negative RotoViz articles, gets drafted in R4 despite being a bench player. In my theoretical lineup, Mike Williams gets drafted in R8 but would be the Flex.
  • You end up with both Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy. I hate handcuffing early in drafts, but it’s usually a great move to add two guys like this if you can get them late. (Matthew Freedman has some more thoughts on how to play the Rams backfield.)
  • Andre Johnson should be on every team you draft. Just ask James Goldstein, who features him as one of 10 WRs you can win with.
  • If you haven’t checked out Davis Mattek’s examination of the Pep Hamilton offense, make sure you do before drafting Andrew Luck. He’s the fulcrum for our Ultimate Lineup but carries a lot of risk for 2013.
  • Pierre Garcon finished with the same number of fantasy points per pass route as Brandon Marshall last year. RG3 is only going to get better.

A Final Note

The man who ghost writes our RotoViz Staff articles suggested in the intro to the app that these lineups are deep and resilient. He further insinuated that if you don’t like to make difficult lineup decisions you probably drive a Prius and yell America! at the top of your lungs when blowing through a stop sign.

When I play in competitive leagues, I often draft bench players before taking starters, exactly as the app suggests. Injuries are practically guaranteed, so you want to play a little more BPA than a rigid adherence to VBD principles might suggest. But I’m also trying to load my lineup in such a way that I get as many points into the starting lineup every week as possible. That may sound obvious, but the strategy that actually achieves it isn’t. Creating too many tough lineup decisions is probably not lineup optimization.

I explore this issue in J.J. Watt and Why You Target the Truly Rare. You don’t need to play IDP to find the thought experiment interesting. We’ll have more on the topic of how to use the RotoViz Apps to load your starting lineup with value as the summer unravels.

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

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