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Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

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Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

Postby My team is injured » Tue Aug 19, 2008 8:03 pm

[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
QB: Brady

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 ;-D
Last edited by My team is injured on Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

Postby My team is injured » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:00 am

No responses, huh? Too long of a post? Posters already said what they wanted to in the past? Too close to draft time and people already set with their strategies and currently focused more on players' values and roles on their teams?

I realize this is probably a topic better suited for an off-season discussion earlier in the summer, but I'm curious as to whether people agree or disagree and what their thoughts are on the above reasoning.
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Re: Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

Postby JasonSeahorn » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:03 am

TBH I skimmed through most of it, but I don't see anything wrong with going WR/WR after you get an RB1 in a PPR league. Depending on who is available I would do the same.
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Re: Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

Postby Cowboys 4 life » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:05 am

Very long post and I don't have the time right now to read it.

My thoughts are that you have to be ready to adjust your strategy on the fly. If going RB WR WR makes more sense and you get better value then do it. This is a year where it won't hurt you that much. You can stil grab Lendale, Edge, and several others in the 4th and 5th leaving you with 2 solid RB's and 2 solid WR's after 4 rounds.
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Re: Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

Postby treat24 » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:08 am

I don't recall ever seeing this post. Which is rare for me.

Last night I did exactly this and was not very happy with my results. 12 team PPR. Drafted LT #1 then got Colston/Welker at the 2/3 turn.

The best RB left at the next turn was Lendale White. I took Witten as well to round out LT/White/Colston/Welker/Witten in ppr. The rest of my team had real depth issues especially RB. LT gets injured, your entire team is dead. However when I take 3 RBs in 5 rounds ... an injury has never killed a team of mine.

I actually have no problem going non-standard if you have LT. Like others said... you pretty much have to adjust a draft strategy on the fly. Can't cement yourself.
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Re: Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

Postby SniperShot » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:18 am

Yeah I'm all for going RB/WR/WR if the situation presents itself. Ideally I'd always want to go RB/RB but there are spots in drafts this year where it's probably not a good idea at all to go RB/RB. Spots like 1st, 6th, 11th/12th in my opinion are spots where you probably shouldn't go RB/RB because of player value in other positions. But this of course is my opinion. Fantasy Football is very interesting this year. I remember past years where all 12 picks in the first round were the same 12 RB's in like 3 leagues I was in. So far this year every league I'm in has had different strategies and way different picks at the same places which is very cool.

So many different strategies.
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Re: Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

Postby My team is injured » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:31 am

Oh, I completely agree with the posts saying you have to adjust to how a draft is going and not be dead-set on a given strategy. That's why I stated as much off the bat in my initial post (though I know the title may imply otherwise, but I just needed a title to sum up the gist of my post).

C4life, I think it's actually been the case for several seasons counting now that this strategy can be used effectively and exploited due to how others typically draft (most people taking RBs first 2 rounds leaving top tier WRs vs. 2nd/3rd tier RBs available at these picks) as well as enough RBs to pick from in mid to later rounds to fill the RB2 slot.

Treat, in a 12 team league, the strategy may be a bit less built for success, but I'd think you could get a better wideout than Welker with the swing pick. While it wouldn't be a shock if all of the six 2nd tier WRs were taken in a 12 team league, I think you rate Welker higher than I do as I think at least 2 out of Housh, Holt, and Chad would be available. If not, then you're looking at at least 9 wideouts having been taken prior to pick 24, which means there may be a RB like Bush available who I would take instead or a QB like Brees/Romo who I would consider here. Or I may even take a lesser RB like Jamal Lewis. As I said, I'm not dead-set in the strategy, and it's primarily based on the comparison of WRs and RBs available, and I don't think I'd choose a WR like Welker over a RB like Jamal Lewis (though we all rank guys differently of course).

Also, that 2nd RB slot IMO shouldn't be viewed simply as Lendale. It should be Lendale/Chris Perry/Chris Brown/Maurice Morris for example with the hopes of one of them filling that slot adequately. I understand that may place more of a reliance on LT than some people are comfortable with, but I think the value gained by such a strategy (assuming the WRs available in rounds 2/3 are ranked and projected high enough) outweighs the risk of the reliance on LT.
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Re: Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

Postby treat24 » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:43 am

I agree, in a 10 team league going LT/WR/WR is much easier, not only do you get better WRs, but on the 4/5 turn there will be better RBs to assist LT :-)
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Re: Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

Postby TGM » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:00 am

SniperShot wrote:Fantasy Football is very interesting this year. I remember past years where all 12 picks in the first round were the same 12 RB's in like 3 leagues I was in. So far this year every league I'm in has had different strategies and way different picks at the same places which is very cool.

So many different strategies.


Agreed. I believe this season will force many to develop different draft strategies, and draft other than they have in the past. Or, other than they would like to. The further emergence of RBBC in the NFL being a primary reason why. PPR leagues just further exacerbate this, as more value goes to #1 WR's and TE's.

Yes sir...the landscape of FF in changing right beneath our feet.
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Re: Why you should draft WR/WR after a top RB in PPR leagues

Postby dmacblue » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:32 am

Having planned for months, I went to my $$ PPR live draft last Sunday planning to go LT, WR, WR and then best at 4.12.

Reggie Bush slipped to me at 2.12 and i felt I had to take him over Andre & Chad, as I have Bush as top 10 RB in PPR

I ended with

1.1 LT
2.12 Bush
3.1 Colston
4.12 Megatron
5.1 Winslow

Had Bush NOT been there, I surely would have taken LT/WR/WR.
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