By Paul Charchian
Do the Opposite: 2006 in Review
Every preseason I spend breathless hours begging, pleading, and beseeching fantasy owners to "Do The Opposite," my term for a draft strategy that involves drafting receivers and quarterbacks early and filling your middle rounds with running backs. As the name would suggest, this is the opposite of how most people draft.
The premise goes like this: the running back position is ripe with injury and inconsistency. But the receiver and quarterback positions are much more stable. Further, those that think they can't find good running backs in the middle rounds are flat-out wrong.
While the season isn't quite done yet, it's not too early to evaluate how well an Opposite Draft worked, compared to the standard strategy of going RB-RB in the first two rounds.
First, note that everyone agreed, myself included, that the "big three" of Larry Johnson, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Shaun Alexander should have been the top three selections. After that though, the Opposite Draft was game on. So, as I analyze the Opposite Draft, I'm leaving those three out of the discussion.
I'll look at the running backs who typically were taken in the first two rounds, and then the receivers and quarterbacks who could have been taken instead.
Note, I'm using early September draft results from Fanball and AntSports.com for my list of players.
Typical First & Second-Round Runners
Tiki Barber, average draft position 1.5: Nice yardage, but one touchdown from a first round pick is disastrous to 90% of us.
Clinton Portis, 1.6: He posted seven touchdowns in eight games, which isn't bad, but his yardage numbers are lousy, and his season ended in week 10.
Steven Jackson 1.7: We're through 12 weeks, and he's only scored six times. His combo yardage numbers have been pretty good, but he's only topped 100 rushing yards three times. It's a mixed bag here.
Edgerrin James 1.9: A total disaster. No 100-yard games and only three touchdowns. Is it too late to bring back J.J. Arrington?
Ronnie Brown 1.10: He's a damn good back, who was criminally underused until the light bulb went on for Mike Mularkey in week six. He's only got five touchdowns and two 100-yard games. And his hand injury will sideline him 1-3 weeks.
Rudi Johnson 1.11: Johnson is having a solid season, scoring eight times, but topping 100 yards just three times is disappointing.
LaMont Jordan 2.1: Thanks to an injury-shortened two-touchdown season, Jordan has made an Edgerrin James pick look good.
Carnell Williams 2.2: One touchdown and two 100-yard games? Are you kidding me?
Brian Westbrook 2.3: He's been alright, especially in yardage-heavy and PPR leagues. Scoring just once from weeks six to 11 was very tough on many fantasy owners, though.
Willis McGahee 2.5: He showed some nice determination last Sunday when he played through the pain of three cracked ribs, but scoring one touchdown through the first 11 weeks is apocalyptically bad.
Willie Parker 2.8: Despite a terrible game last week (hey, it was against Baltimore), Parker is having a fine year, scoring 12 times, and posting over 900 yards already.
Kevin Jones 2.10: Seven touchdowns through 12 weeks isn't bad, and he's been a nice surprise in PPR formats.
Reggie Bush 2.11: As good as I thought he would be, he's been equally disappointing. A total loss. The only format where he's startable is in PPR leagues.
Julius Jones 2.12: He hasn't topped 100-yards since week six, and he's managed just three touchdowns all year.
- # of RBs who played below his typical draft position: Nine. Barber, Portis, James, Brown, Jordan, McGahee, Williams, Bush, and J. Jones.
- # of RBs who played to his typical draft position: Four. Jackson, Johnson, Westbrook, K. Jones (I'm being nice here).
- # of RBs who played above his typical draft position: One. Parker
Bottom Line: So, of the 14 runners who were likely to be taken after the Big Three in the first two rounds, only five have lived up to their selection status. That's a horrifying 36% success rate.
Typical First & Second-Round Quarterbacks and Receivers
Peyton Manning 1.10: Tom Brady and Carson Palmer didn't quite average out to second round picks, so I'm just analyzing Manning. His 21 passing touchdowns and two running scores equals at least 12.5 rushing/receiving touchdowns in most scoring systems. Only two players (LT and LJ) have more touchdowns.
Steve Smith 1.8: After missing the first two weeks, he has scored and/or topped 100 yards in every game but two.
Torry Holt 2.2: He's been quiet lately, but his seven touchdowns and three 100-yard games isn't bad.
Marvin Harrison 2.5: Five touchdowns and three 100-yard games are moderately disappointing.
Terrell Owens 2.7: Eight touchdowns is solid, but I'd like to see him top 100 more often.
Chad Johnson 2.9: He's in the middle of a historic run, which almost makes it worth forgetting that he only scored once in the first six games.
Larry Fitzgerald 2.11: Lousy season, marred by injury and inconsistent quarterback play.
Anquan Boldin 2.12: He's posted solid yardage numbers, but just four touchdowns.
- # of QB/WRs who played below his typical draft position: Three. Harrison, Fitzgerald, and Boldin.
- # of QB/WRs who played to his typical draft position: Five. Manning, Smith, Holt, Johnson, Owens.
- # of QB/WRs who played above his typical draft position: None.
Bottom Line: I'm a little disappointed that none of these guys has blown away his projections, but still, you can't argue with a 63% success rate.
I'll let you do the math. A 36% success rate for runners versus a 63% success rate for receivers and quarterbacks. You should be able to draw your own conclusions here, so I won't insult you by stating the obvious.