Mike Clay

Football Daily Dose

print article archives RSS

Maximize Your Starting Lineup

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Round 5

Best Available:
QB: Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan
RB: Beanie Wells, Jonathan Stewart, C.J. Spiller, Shonn Greene, Isaac Redman
WR: Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas, Dwayne Bowe, Jeremy Maclin, Kenny Britt
TE: Aaron Hernandez, Jermichael Finley, Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates, Jason Witten

I foreshadowed that our fifth round pick would be Lloyd, but we can investigate as to why he’s a better pick than some other available players.

First of all, we see a strong group of wideouts added behind Lloyd, but he’s still our best available. That makes him a great value in each of the next two rounds. We see no new additions at quarterback, which is why we were able to wait for Romo next round. At tight end, Hernandez and Gates are now in the mix, but they aren’t near as good a value pick as Lloyd is now or Davis will be later. Wells is actually the best value on the board, but (Teaser Alert), we’re already settled at all three running back slots (including flex).

Your next question might be: “If Wells is the best value, why not go elsewhere earlier and grab Wells as our Flex here?” Fair question.

To answer it, we’d need to trace VBD through each pick. Calculations show that a Steven Jackson-Brandon Lloyd combo is significantly better than a Beanie Wells-Julio Jones duo. And if you’re wondering if we should wait and take Lloyd in the sixth round, the math is closer, but still favors our current strategy.

Take a look:
Actual: Jackson (100.4) + Lloyd (67.1) + Romo (55.7) + Garcon (37.2) = 260.4
Alternative: Jones (73.8) + Wells (76.5) + Lloyd (67.1) + E. Manning (30.4) = 247.8

The better question to ask, however, is: “If Wells is the best value, why not keep loading up on running backs and fill in the blanks later?”

Theoretically, that’s not the wrong decision. The problem is that you’d essentially be drafting Wells (who really isn’t that far ahead of Lloyd) with the hope of trading him for a better player at another position once the draft was concluded. If you can pull that off, it’s a good call, but it’s risky. Frankly, you’d be hard-pressed to get a wide receiver of Lloyd’s caliber (at least according to our rankings) in return for Wells. If a player like Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles fell this far, however, you should grab the fourth running back without hesitation. Rewinding and changing topics a bit, you’ll recall that both Lloyd and Romo were available in the sixth round. It probably seems as though we’re wasting some value by essentially reaching on Lloyd when we know he can be had next round, but that’s an occupational hazard of using a snake draft over an auction. Had this been an auction, we could’ve taken Romo and Lloyd well below market, allowing us to upgrade elsewhere.

Roster Progress: Tony Romo (QB), Brandon Lloyd (WR), Pierre Garcon (WR), Fred Davis (TE), Donald Brown (Bench)

Round 4

Best Available:
QB: Michael Vick, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers
RB: Doug Martin, Beanie Wells, Roy Helu, Jonathan Stewart, Frank Gore
WR: Mike Wallace, Brandon Lloyd, Percy Harvin, Steve Smith, Dez Bryant
TE: Aaron Hernandez, Jermichael Finley, Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates, Jason Witten

Settled at quarterback and tight end, and with a pair of wide receivers in the mix, our first four picks will need to cover running back (x3) and a third wideout.

Looking at our best available, we see that Michael Vick, Doug Martin, and Mike Wallace are in the mix. We’re starting to really get into the top fantasy performers. Vick gets a decent edge over Romo, but the latter is a much better value two rounds from now. The decision really comes down to Martin and Wallace. Very much like the example we laid out in the fifth round, this is a matter of comparing VBD. We need to examine how choosing a wide receiver in the first three rounds would impact the overall value of our starting lineup.

Round 1: Ca. Johnson (107.1) + Charles (113.2) + Jackson (100.4) + Martin (84.0) = 404.7
Round 2: Mathews (143.6) + A. Johnson (77.1) + Jackson (100.4) + Martin (84.0) = 405.1
Round 3: Mathews (143.6) + Charles (113.2) + Jones (73.8) + Martin (84.0) = 414.6
Round 4: Mathews (143.6) + Charles (113.2) + Jackson (100.4) + Wallace (71.0) = 428.2

Taking our wide receiver in the fourth round is clearly the right call. Note that, although we don’t actually know our draft slot for this exercise, it wouldn’t matter. As you’ll see later, I conservatively went middle of the first round in selecting Mathews as our top pick. Had I gone Foster, our strategy looks even better. Any other running back with a better ranking or ADP than Johnson would still give us the same result.

Wallace is our No. 1 wide receiver.

Roster Progress: Tony Romo (QB), Mike Wallace (WR), Brandon Lloyd (WR), Pierre Garcon (WR), Fred Davis (TE), Donald Brown (Bench)

Round 3

Best Available:
QB: Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick, Tony Romo, Eli Manning
RB: Steven Jackson, Doug Martin, Beanie Wells, Fred Jackson, Roy Helu
WR: Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Hakeem Nicks, Mike Wallace, Brandon Lloyd
TE: Aaron Hernandez, Jermichael Finley, Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates, Jason Witten

Well, there’s no longer much analysis to do. I broke down all of our decision-making earlier on, leaving us with the easy task of starting off with three running backs. The best available here in the third round is Steven Jackson. Because I didn’t mention this earlier, it’s worth noting that we show a pretty massive drop from the tier Jackson finishes to the one Doug Martin starts. It makes getting Jackson here even sweeter.

Roster Progress: Tony Romo (QB), Mike Wallace (WR), Brandon Lloyd (WR), Pierre Garcon (WR), Fred Davis (TE), Steven Jackson (Flex), Donald Brown (Bench)

Round 2

Best Available:
QB: Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick
RB: Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, DeMarco Murray, Steven Jackson, Doug Martin
WR: Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Hakeem Nicks
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Jermichael Finley, Vernon Davis

Again, not much to say here. Our rankings show Jamaal Charles as the best available, but no one would fault you for grabbing Marshawn Lynch or Demarco Murray. We know Jackson will be waiting for us in the third round.

Roster Progress: Tony Romo (QB), Jamaal Charles (RB), Mike Wallace (WR), Brandon Lloyd (WR), Pierre Garcon (WR), Fred Davis (TE), Steven Jackson (Flex), Donald Brown (Bench)

Round 1

Best Available:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford
RB: Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews, Ray Rice
WR: Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, A.J. Green
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Jermichael Finley, Vernon Davis

As mentioned earlier, this is where it can get tricky because we don’t know our draft slot. I conservatively went middle-of-the-pack and gave us Mathews. Calvin Johnson is not worth the No. 4 overall pick, so we would’ve passed on him there anyways. Aaron Rodgers is a fine pick at No. 9, but when you consider the eventual value we can get on Tony Romo and the fact that we could theoretically be picking earlier and thus have an Arian Foster or LeSean McCoy, getting the running back is the right call here. Also, don’t forget that as each player comes off the board, the value of every single other player changes. For example, if the first eight picks are running backs, the remaining backs increase in value as a result of a drop in supply to meet the demand. Couple the drop-off after Rodgers and Johnson at their positions with the fact that most first-round picks are running backs and you end up with an easy decision with your first few picks.

Summary

QB - Tony Romo (6)
RB - Ryan Mathews (1), Jamaal Charles (2), Steven Jackson (3), Donald Brown (9)
WR - Mike Wallace (4), Brandon Lloyd (5), Pierre Garcon (7)
TE - Fred Davis (8)

Looks like a contender to me.

The RB-RB-RB approach is one few owners can swallow on draft day, but we showed here today that depth at other positions can allow you to maximize your starting lineup with this strategy.

I realize that everyone has their own opinion on each player and maybe this particular lineup doesn’t get you overly excited. That’s okay. Remember, we just took our best available each round. You can still follow the framework of this gameplan and still get your guys. Scared of Charles’ knee? Take Marshawn Lynch or DeMarco Murray. Not expecting a big year from Wallace? Percy Harvin and Dez Bryant are available in that spot. When we took Lloyd in the fifth round, Demaryius Thomas, Dwayne Bowe, Jeremy Maclin, and Kenny Britt were all available.

I mentioned this throughout the article and it’s important to reiterate. Although you should be leaning towards a running back-heavy approach early on, flexibility is key to a good draft. Don’t feel like you have to pass on an Aaron Rodgers or Calvin Johnson early in the second round simply because you want to get that second running back. Follow your board and study up on VBD. When all is said and done, your starting lineup will be the envy of the league.



12
Mike Clay is a football writer for Rotoworld.com and the Founder/Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He can be found on Twitter @MikeClayNFL.
Email :Mike Clay



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Levitan: Week 17 plug-n-plays

    Levitan: Week 17 plug-n-plays
  •  
    Beer

    Beer's NBA 6-Pack: Monday
  •  
    Bales: Luck

    Bales: Luck's Week 16 struggle
  •  
    Beer

    Beer's NFL 6 Pack - WR & TE
  •  
    Friday

    Friday's Fantasy Minute
  •  
    RotoPat: Week 16 Rankings

    RotoPat: Week 16 Rankings
  •  
    Week 16 Difference Makers

    Week 16 Difference Makers
  •  
    Beer

    Beer's NFL 6 Pack - QB & RB