[Shorter version of this post in my reply on the top of page 3
First off, nothing should be set as an absolute in fantasy football as you should always adapt to how a draft is going, so let me preface the analysis by saying that. Also, I know this strategy isn't a novel idea and has been discussed a fair share here in the past with a number of us implementing it in various forms in recent seasons. However, it's generally been discussed in blanket terms of RB/WR/WR independent of draft position (or even WR/WR right off the bat), and I'm going to narrow the scope to certain circumstances which I think strengthen the merit of using the strategy.
The settings which I'm basing my analysis off are mostly standard settings (with the exception of PPR). I'm assuming a 10 team league with 1 pt for 10 yds ru/rec, 6 pts for all TDs (4 pts for PA TDs would likely help strengthen this strategy), and 1 PPR. I'm also assuming the league has either 2 RB and 3 WR or 2 RB, 2 WR, and a flex RB/WR, and the strategy is applicable in either case. Leagues will naturally vary quite a bit, and the strategy may warrant being adapted to other leagues (12 teams, other roster setups, etc.), but I am confining my analysis to the above setup configurations.
To further narrow down the analysis, I'm going to specifically base my argument on a person drafting 1st, choosing LT, and hence, having picks 20 and 21 in rounds 2 and 3. While I think the strategy extends out to more RBs (guys like Westbrook, ADP, etc.) and draft positions, it's easier to do the analysis simplified to this one set of circumstances. And more importantly, I think most of the people who argue against the merits behind the strategy of RB/WR/WR would still have contentions with it in this situation.
To start off, I'm going to list the guys who are almost assuredly going to be drafted prior to pick 20:
RB: LT, Westbrook, ADP, S Jax, Addai, Gore, MB III, LJ, Portis
WR: Randy Moss, TO
Which is 12 players, leaving 7 more to be drafted prior to pick 20. I'd expect at a bare minimum, a few more RBs/QBs to be drafted, and as long as 3 are, then there's no deviation from the strategy.
I see what is a pretty clearly defined tier of WRs behind Moss and TO, consisting of Wayne, Braylon, Colston, Andre, Fitz, and Steve Smith. I realize some people may bump Smith out due to his 2 game suspension, but I disagree and think his expected per game production from week 3 on out warrants his inclusion. As for the rest of the guys, I think it's a fairly consensus grouping as they were all top 9 in Kensat's post (with Plax the only other guy and his rankings being non-PPR), and them being 3-7 exactly on both an Antsports' ADP (for PPR) spanning the last 10 days and yahoo's WR rankings with only Steve Smith a bit on the outside looking in on each.
Which brings us to picks 20 and 21. With the 12 players listed above being drafted as well as 3+ additional RBs/QBs, at least 2 of these wideouts from this 6 WR tier will be available and should be taken. The one caveat I'll mention off the bat is Reggie Bush, who I view as a wildcard if available, and I could see justifying taking him along with a wideout here instead of 2 WRs. For the sake of this analysis, I'm going to discount him and leave that as a separate decision for owners to make.
1.) The first comparison to be done is a heads up scoring comparison between the available RBs and WRs. Based on my projections with all players playing 16 essentially healthy games, the 6 WRs project to around an average around 295 points with nobody under 284. I'll use 290 as a basis as the 5 outside of Steve Smith average closer to 290 and his value should come down a notch from the 300+ projection. Comparably, I don't have a single potentially available RB (Bush excluded) who I project higher than 270 points and the average of this grouping of RBs is around 255. Pretty clear-cut advantage in straight up points value here.
2.) The second comparison is the likelihood of the RBs available and the WRs available to perform within/exceed expectations versus falling short, be it due to injury, under-performing on the field, whatever. I don't have time to go back through all the drafts of recent years, but I'm nearly positive the last several seasons consistently favor the chances of a WR from the comparable tier performing within/exceeding expectations than a comparable 2nd tier RB. Here's a post I made in 2006 comparing 2nd tier RBs vs top tier WRs (slightly different analysis as the wideouts and RBs discussed are higher than those discussed for this strategy as the other post was for WR/WR in rounds 1 and 2 if not getting a top/middle draft position): viewtopic.php?f=1&t=230131&p=1635224#p1635224
3.) Lastly, let's compare the drop-off in expected point production for RBs and WRs available in later rounds. First, let's look at rounds 4 and 5 (picks 40 and 41). The best RBs who may potentially be available are the likes of Parker, Maroney, Graham, Ronnie Brown, T. Jones, Edge, etc. Guys like Maroney and Ronnie are difficult to project and have high upsides and downsides whereas the others can reasonably be projected between say, 220 and 260 points. I'll go with a conservative value of 225 points in assigning the value of an available RB here.
As for the best potentially available WRs, I'd include the likes of the Detroit wideouts, Santonio, Harrison, Cotchery, and Marshall. I have these guys projected out to between 220 and 265 points (with the exception of Marshall who I have a little higher over 16 games but has the suspension). The values average out to around 240 points for these guys.
So you're looking at a drop-off in about 30 points if waiting on a RB vs. about 50 points for a WR from rounds 2/3 to 4/5. As you go into the middle rounds of 6-9, there's naturally a starker drop-off at the RB position so you may choose to draft 2 RBs in rounds 4 and 5 if going WR/WR in 2/3 although it's not a necessity to do so.
The reasoning being that you are basically looking to fill only 1 starting spot with all of the RBs you draft after LT. If you draft four RBs from round 4 on and they each have merely a 25% chance on average of succeeding, then you are still likely to fill that one starting slot adequately. While LT could of course get hurt (or dare I say, not perform well enough on the field for whatever reason to start over the Jacobs/MJD/Jamal backs), he's as close to a lock as you get in fantasy football, and I think most people would feel confident in him not missing multiple games and him putting up at least good numbers when he does play. For those who are more leary of placing as much a reliance on him, then I'd probably recommend the drafting of RBs back to back in 4/5 or 3 RBs among rounds 4-7.
Let's take a few examples of different draft scenarios:
A.) LT/RB/RB/WR/WR: The prototypical draft for several years for flex leagues in which an owner ideally tries to assemble a 3 headed RB monster with the 3rd RB in the flex spot. In this case, you may very well end up with a slightly higher scoring flex option than my proposed strategy, but the points drop-off at the 2 starting WR spots will substantially negate it. Projected averages would result in the ballpark of 255*2 (RB2 and flex RB) + 240*2 (2 WR) = 990 for this roster vs. 290*2 (2 WR) + 225 (RB2) + 225-240 (flex RB/WR) = 1030-1045 for my strategy.
B.) LT/RB/WR/RB/WR: Probably along the lines of what most owners would do nowadays. The results in this case would be: 255 (RB2) + 290 (WR1) + 240 (WR2) + 225 (flex RB or WR from rounds 6/7) = 1010.
C.) LT/RB/WR/WR/WR: A shift towards favoring wideouts, albeit not as soon as my strategy. The results here are 255 (RB2) + 290 (WR1) + 240*2 (WR2 and flex WR) = 1025. Fairly close in point value but with a lower likelihood to obtain those points (see point 2 above), and drafting RBs back to back in the 4th and 5th rounds would arguably provide a greater chance for success out of the RB2 slot than a RB in the 2nd and not again until the 6th round.
There are more variables to consider, but I'm gonna wrap this up now as it's probably longer than most cats will care to read and certainly getting longer than I care to write. But I wanted to throw this out there for discussion and consideration. Also, just as a sidenote as I've seen posts stating the opposite numerous times including recently, I have used this strategy or similar variants of it in competitive leagues for a couple seasons counting and have had great success with it. That's not to say that proves its effectiveness as it could just be a combination of luck, my valuing players better than other owners regardless of strategy, etc. Either way, it's not just a theoretical strategy I've considered but haven't implemented.
As a final note, there's also the consideration of drafting another position in rounds 2/3 such as QB or TE. In 10 team leagues, I don't see any TE warranting it this year as the drop-off from 1, both to the middle of the pack and the bottom of the pack, isn't steep enough. As for QB, with Brady obviously off the board I don't see another QB warranting a pick in a 10 team league though it's more justified than TE and becomes a consideration as league sizes grow to 12+ teams. But that's another argument for another day.
Post away. Rip apart, commend, post something irrelevant, whatever
Last edited by My team is injured on Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.