Aug 1,2012

2012 Draft Strategy: Pounce Soon and Keep it Kinky

You know that relative/friend/acquaintance who inevitably ruins game night because of their over-the-top competitiveness? The same person who finds a way to cheat at Candy Land and screams “IN YOUR FACE” each time he/she passes “GO” and collects two hundred dollars? Well, I’m not that person.

You know that other relative/friend/acquaintance who inevitably finds themselves in the middle of epic quagmires due to their over-the-top competitiveness (and sharp tongue)? The one who can’t quite grasp the point of “catching” beads in New Orleans without catching ALL of the beads… which might also land her in a screaming match with some drunk idiot who promised her two sets of beads, but definitely only threw down one? Well, that’s me.

The point is, I’m not your cliche competitive jerk. Oh, no. It’s more complicated than that. I’m the dingbat whose desire to win fuels fantastically harebrained schemes… which sometimes land me in hot water… and other times pay off.

All of this is to say, I have an new draft strategy. You’ve been forewarned.

Every fantasy die-hard with an internet connection and a cable subscription has witnessed the decline of the workhorse back. Yet, for some reason, we keep waffling about what to do with our first round picks. It’s as if we think maybe just maybe, by drafting an RB in the first round we’ll be able to save them from extinction. Well, I’m done trying to avoid the inevitable. Assuming I’m playing in a standard scoring league (6 points per passing TD) and don’t have one of the first THREE picks in my draft, I’m scooping up an elite QB.

Yes, I did give myself a loophole there. Obviously Arian Foster, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy are studs. They deserve to be drafted immediately. A lot of analysts also have Ryan Mathews on their “gotta grab” list, but he’s way too risky for me. Most ADP calculators also have Calvin Johnson drafting high, but due to the massive depth at receiver this season I don’t mind passing on Mega (Madden Curse, notwithstanding). Personally, I’d rather make an early move on Aaron Rodgers (even if he does play for the enemy), Tom Brady, or Drew Brees and wait until the second round to pick up a “lesser” RB like Matt Forte, Trent Richardson, or DeMarco Murray.

Simply put, I believe that a fantasy team led by an elite QB has a better shot of dominating than one led by a stud RB. Why? Because most systems favor QB scoring… and because I was screwed by Darren McFadden last year.

Which leads me to my next point and the heart of my strategy… HANDCUFFS. I plan to stash them away like Christian Grey on a coke binge. Why? Because this year I’m drafting for the last third of the season. By stockpiling handcuffs I’m not only adding insurance to my own team, but I’m also devaluing the “hot” RBs other owners spent early-round draft picks on.

As the the season progresses, so does the risk of injury. To that same point, owners are more desperate and likely to trade in week 12 than they are in week 3. Stashing hand-cuffs, therefore, maximizes a team’s leverage. The longer one waits to trade them, the more value they accrue.

With that in mind, take note of these five fab handcuffs:

Ben Tate – Houston Texans
If Foster is Batman then Tate is Robin. He’s a star on his own and has the potential to go off at any time. His current ADP is 82, which means he’s going in the 7th round of most drafts. My recommendation is to jump a bit sooner and try to snag him in the 6th.

 

Peyton Hillis – Kansas City Chiefs
The White Rhino must like ribs more than chili because he’s left Cleveland for KC. Hillis is set to back-up Jamaal Charles, who hasn’t seen the field since injuring his knee in Week 2 of last season. According to the Fantasy Pros ADP calculator, owners are waiting until the middle of the eighth round to draft the one-time Madden cover model. However, I think that’s a bit low. This past Sunday, I participated in a Draftmaster and snagged “the other Peyton” with my 6th pick. Don’t expect Hillis to stay on the board past Round 7.

Michael Bush – Chicago Bears
No one is more thrilled than I am that Matt Forte has signed on the dotted line and gotten paid. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve completely forgotten about the tear to his MCL, or the fact that he only scored three TDs last season. After noting how well Bush took over for Run DMC, I’m happy to see the former Raider in Chicago, and would be delighted to add him to my fantasy roster. If you’d like to do the same, try to make a move before Round 9.

David Wilson – New York Giants
After Brandon Jacobs caught a flight to San Fran, the G-men acquired Wilson in the first round of the 2012 draft. The rookie out of Virginia Tech has a ton of potential, displaying impressive speed, strength, and balance. He’ll be spelling Ahmad Bradshaw who struggled last year with a lingering foot injury. While Bradshaw claims he’s “great” and feeling “light on [his] feet,” I’d be surprised if No. 44 went all 17 weeks without spending time on the sidelines. Wilson’s current ADP is 105, which means he’ll likely go sometime in the 9th round. Plan accordingly.

Mike Goodson – Oakland Raiders
The former Panther, who sat out last season due to a hamstring injury, is hoping for a brighter future in Northern California. He showed potential in 2010, but was, for the most part, buried on the depth chart behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Given McFadden’s fragility, there’s a sound chance Goodson will receive an opportunity to prove himself. Fantasy-wise, he’s got great value as a late-round flyer. You can feel good about drafting him in the 14th round.

If you take nothing else away from this article, take this: almost every back in the NFL is part of a tandem. And if you make a point of drafting the LESSER half of that tandem, later in the draft, you’re going to look like a genius as soon as the big guy goes down.

Which, in a league suddenly – and rightfully – obsessed with concussion precautions, and player safety… can happen almost immediately. When Jamal Charles or DMC go down in week 3, you’ll look reasonable asking for a top tier WR in exchange for Hillis or Goodson.

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