This year FFLockerRoom Sports’ Thomas Schriner, Jonathan Stulberg and Christopher Ziza all took part in the annual (FSWA) Fantasy Sports Writers Association fantasy football tournament. Pitting the best minds in the industry among one another in 12-team leagues and then an ultimate playoff challenge in which each of the league winners goes against one another, there are definite bragging rights to be had.
This isn’t a league challenge for the faint of heart. As many of the sites and minds that you get your fantasy football information from on a weekly basis are in this tournament. In my league alone we have the likes of the Fantasy Sharks and Draft Sharks to name a few. We are all there for the same goal. To be named the #1 overall champion.
The three of us from FFLockerRoom Sports want to share our experience this year in hopes of helping give you a few last minute golden nuggets to help you out in your own fantasy football draft. Enjoy our Round Table: FSWA Fantasy Football Draft Results, Advice And Tips. This round table is the experience of drafting in fantasy football leagues that are considered the brightest minds in the industry.
What was your strategy going into the FSWA fantasy football draft?
Jonathan Stulberg - I had the #1 overall pick so after taking Jamaal Charles my mindset was to continue to take the best player available and not get too overly concerned with position, thereby forcing myself to grab this or that. I know RB’s are a premium, but every year guys come out of the woodwork and surprise people so I could draft plenty of upside guys later. Having Charles gives me that security blanket.
Thomas Schriner – Going in, I had the second overall pick. I was after Jamaal Charles if the first pick went another direction and that is what happened. Adrian Peterson went #1, which was a little bit of a shock for a PPR league but Norv Turner could rely on him more that coaches in the past. We will see, but I wanted Charles and his lock of at least 50 receptions.
After that, my plan was to get either Peyton Manning or Drew Brees at the bottom of the second round. Manning went a few picks before and I pulled the trigger on Brees. I wanted difference makers at positions and he is.
Christopher Ziza – I had the 5-position in the first round so preparing for it wasn’t too rough. I basically grabbed a handful of players that I figured had the chance to be there and made a mental list. Calvin Johnson, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson and Jimmy Graham were the ones that I was targeting. With all of them being PPR studs, I couldn’t really go wrong. When I was on the clock we still had Calvin, Forte and Peterson dangling there. Considering that it is a WR-3 league and we have a true-flex position, I went Calvin.
The one thing that I wanted from this draft was simple. To stockpile the skilled positions while not falling prey to drafting a quarterback too early. My main target for quarterback was Matthew Stafford somewhere in the 4th to 5th round. He offers great numbers but at a reasonably scaled back price.
The last thing that I was looking for is to let the draft fall to me. I wasn’t going to reach for anyone that didn’t fit into what I was trying to build for my team. I wouldn’t follow a run, I won’t reach for a handcuff because that is the popular thing to do and I wouldn’t just draft from need, but rather aim to take the most talented player on the board that fits the needs and holes that I had. For the most part I think my plan worked out to a T.
What trend(s) did your league show? Tight ends moving too early, etc… and thoughts?
Christopher Ziza – Going into the draft I knew that superstar tight ends would be coveted, but little did I realize how coveted that they would be. Within the first handful of rounds players like Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron were all off of the board. That was fine with me as I wanted running backs and wide receivers while waiting on a solid tight end(s) later in the draft. So the more that tight ends and superstar quarterbacks went before my fourth round pick the better the likelihood that I would end up with Stafford and get a solid tight end later in the draft.
The other thing that I did notice though, unlike in the last handful of years, running backs seemed to hold more weight compared to wide receivers during the first few rounds. While that was a trend for this league, I won’t be expecting that for my other money leagues. But if it does happen to follow suit, I’ll be that much more happier.
Jonathan Stulberg – In expert leagues, people tend to play the game of QB chicken and wait on them. I was shocked that all the elite QB’s survived everyone (well almost everyone J) first and second round pick. Even with 4pts per passing TD, the elite are still that much better than everyone else.
Thomas Schriner - During the draft it felt like tight ends were flying off the board early. I was able to pick up Charles Clay in the tenth, and I may have reached a round early on him but I felt like his production was worth it. That and he was my sleeper pick at TE (insert link).
But after going back and looking, it didn’t look as rushed. Greg Olsen went in the 5th which was three rounds ahead of his ADP at fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Other than that, on average the TEs were going about a round ahead of their ADP.
What draft pick do you feel that you may have went a tad too early on but felt that you had to have him.
Thomas Schriner - Maybe I have a soft spot for him, and maybe he was another one of my sleeper picks but I had to reach for Fred Jackson. In a PPR league, if healthy, he should be a useful flex option any week. And I picked him up in the seventh round, just ahead of his average ADP of 8th.
But my big reach was for Jarrett Boykin in the 8th round, a full three rounds ahead of his ADP of eleventh. I have no faith that both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb can play a full season which should open Boykin for a big role. He should already get a decent amount of targets but at some point this season, he will be a must start.
Christopher Ziza - I can honestly say with confidence and 100% purity is that I didn’t reach for any of my picks in this draft. Everything fell to me as I had hoped for.
Jonathan Stulberg – Peyton Manning. I’m normally a wait on the QB type of guy but Manning with the 25th overall pick was just way too big a value to pass up on. He still has a ton of weapons and is heavily motivated to repeat what he did last season. I predict another monster campaign from him.
What was your draft pick that you sat back and passed on in an earlier round only to be happily gifted a choice to grab him in a later round when you didn’t expect him to be there.
Jonathan Stulberg – When I took Manning with the first pick in the 3rd round, part of me was still concerned about my 2nd RB and WR spots. I was really high on Shane Vereen (because of PPR and Ridley’s fumbling issues) as well as Wes Welker (since he’s the greatest slot receiver in NFL history). I was shocked when BOTH made it back to me at the 4/5 turn.
Thomas Schriner – Since I had Clay, whom I love but only has one year of being a solid fantasy TE on the board, I wanted to get a second end that could possibly hit a home run. My first choice of Kyle Rudolph went early (not surprising in an industry league) but I had my eye on Travis Kelce who has shown up in the Chief’s first two preseason games. If he played well in the regular season tune-up this weekend, I might have gotten a steal. His ADP was in the 13th round but I waited and got him in the 15th.
Christopher Ziza – Drafting at the 5-spot, you are not guaranteed someone that will fit a need that you have while being a stud player. I lucked out getting Marshawn Lynch at 19th overall. Strategically, the reason that I went with Calvin over Peterson or Forte is that I figured that if a star were to fall in the second round, the likelihood of it being a receiver over a running back wasn’t too great. So my thought process was to go WR/RB/Best Available. Leaving with Calvin, Lynch and in the third Victor Cruz things were playing out just right.
In the fourth my boy Stafford was sitting there as I had hoped. Then I was able to follow up in the fifth with Ray Rice at running back. In the sixth Emmanuel Sanders was sitting there and in the seventh Golden Tate. Before I knew it, all of the positions where I wanted to draft them while getting high-end value all came to fruition. The cherry on the top though was being able to grab Martellus Bennett in the eleventh. A solid starting TE1 for a quarter of the cost that most paid for theirs. I am pretty elated.
Draft Tips, Strategy and Recommendations
Give some advice, tips and recommendations to our readers for their fantasy drafts.
Christopher Ziza – You have to enter your draft being open minded. Just because you have a man-crush on a player that doesn’t mean that you should ruin your draft by overpaying to get him onto your team. Remember, fantasy football is just a game, albeit it can be very lucrative. You can always root for your player(s) every Sunday. They don’t have to be on your fantasy team to root for them. Fantasy football is a game of numbers. Start swapping out the backs of the player’s jersey’s for x’s and o’s. Once you give them numerical value instead of a name, you should be fine.
Also, don’t fall into the rut of following a run. By that I mean, if a handful of wide receivers were just selected, make sure the player that you pick has similar value or just go another positional route that way you can get the most bang for your buck. Would you rather have the best tight-end on the board at the time or a receiver that pales in comparison to what your competition just drafted? It is all about checks-and-balances.
And of course, especially in the first half of the draft, go with the best player available. Just because you don’t have your second running back yet and it is the fourth round it doesn’t mean that you have to jump the gun and overpay to fill the slot when a wide receiver who is sitting there and would help your team out and holds high value goes undrafted. Checks-and-balances! Don’t panic.
Jonathan Stulberg - Do NOT fall in love with a particular player, team or position. Early in the draft focus on getting the most value and fill in the roster with your later picks. You absolutely must understand the rules, rosters and scoring system for your league or you will have no idea what value actually is. If you’re in a league that’s been around, pay attention to tendencies of the other owners. Most guys never change their strategies so you can predict what they will do and that helps you analyze who you can take now and who might survive the turn and get back to you. I may be in the minority with this next statement, but don’t reach for your handcuff unless your starter is a guy who always gets hurt. Having a handcuff is almost an empty roster spot because he has no value unless the starter gets injured. I’d rather have the starter from another team who I can potentially package in trade because I have excess value on my roster. That doesn’t mean to ignore the handcuff, just don’t jump too early.
Thomas Schriner - Do a little research before hand and have those sheets ready. Print those sheets out and go through them, highlighting guys you might jump a little early for. Or guys that offer more upside based on your league settings. Cheat sheets are great, but they often generalize to either a basic standard league setting or PPR. and for some sites, they don’t offer individual rankings for both. Luckily we do, but your league could still differentiate from the normal scoring. If you have a league that takes away -2 points for every interception, some quarterbacks will go up and down. If your league offers up bonus points for long touchdowns, some receivers will benefit. Go in and highlight those guys before the draft starts. It will help!
BONUS: What the @#%#@$Q? Did he really pick him?
Biggest head scratching pick(s) in your draft.
Thomas Schriner - The biggest surprise for me was seeing the Seattle D/ST go in the middle of the sixth round. I expected teams to reach for high profile sleepers because we all want to be the guy that took the breakout star but seeing the Seahawks go that early was a shock. The next two defenses, Carolina and San Francisco, didn’t come off the board until the 13th round.
Christopher Ziza – Someone in my league actually grabbed Josh Gordon in the fourth in hopes that his hearing would go favorably. Really? Gordon would had been there most likely in the fourteenth and you could had done it then. Or at least wait until your starting lineup was set, minus your place kicker and defense. But to take a huge, unlikely gamble in a league that is full of fantasy football geniuses wasn’t too smart. I hope it works out for him, but I highly doubt that it will.
Jonathan Stulberg – Giovanni Bernard at 10th overall was very surprising. I’d have gone elite WR like A.J. Green there and potentially gotten Bernard on the flip. The other was Rob Gronkowski in the 2nd round. When healthy he’s a monster but he hasn’t been healthy in ages. That’s a huge risk in the 2nd round.