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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.

RoundOverallConf. Based ADPPlayerPOSProj. Pts
157Ray RiceRB285.55
22025Peyton ManningQB453.19
32932Darren SprolesRB239.06
44446Reggie WayneWR252.24
55353Jason WittenTE217.85
66871Andrew LuckQB400.81
77779Steve JohnsonWR216.98
89295Lance MooreWR193.52
9101111Pierre ThomasRB141.94
10116116Jacquizz RodgersRB133.1
11125137Santonio HolmesWR162.72
12140141Kendall WrightWR175.11
13149200Mike GoodsonRB103.94
14164200Zac StacyRB99.81
15173200Greg LittleWR153
16188200Brandon PettigrewTE153.25

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
157 Ray Rice RB285.55
22020 Reggie Bush RB256.92
32934 Darren Sproles RB239.06
44449 Tom Brady QB430.13
55356 Pierre Garcon WR226.24
66874 Andrew Luck QB400.81
77782 Steve Johnson WR216.98
89294 Jeremy Maclin WR198.14
9101106 Greg Olsen TE174.4
10116116 Pierre Thomas RB141.94
11125139 Marcel Reece RB111.04
12140145 Kendall Wright WR175.11
13149150 Brandon LaFell WR148.79
14164200 Zac Stacy RB99.81
15173200 Greg Little WR153
16188200 Brandon Pettigrew TE153.25

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
158 Ray Rice RB285.55
22021 Reggie Bush RB256.92
32932 Andre Johnson WR274.3
44449 Ryan Mathews RB177.32
55357 Pierre Garcon WR226.24
66875 Andrew Luck QB400.81
77783 Steve Johnson WR216.98
89292 Mike Williams WR200.06
9101101 Isaiah Pead RB128.65
10116118 Pierre Thomas RB141.94
11125126 Owen Daniels TE163.7
12140147 Kendall Wright WR175.11
13149200 Zac Stacy RB99.81
14164200 Greg Little WR153
15173200 Brandon Pettigrew TE153.25

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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