Thursday, August 22, 2013

Draft day getting closer!

It's a busy week in the FFLibrarian household. Last night we went to the University of Tennessee's football team Welcome Back BBQ, which is a chance for fans to meet and greet with some football players and get excited for the season. We thought our son would love it and he did, but had an unexpected fear of the giant Smokey the Dog mascot...turns out humans dressed as creatures might not be his thing. For now. And tonight we've got about 30 people from my husband's department at the university coming to our house for dinner to celebrate the start of the academic year. I've spent some time trying to hide our usual level of chaos, cat fur, and toys, so I haven't had quite as much time to blog between our various events this week; but I'm back now, baby!

Before I get to today's links, let's talk about Yahoo and Buffalo Wild Wings getting together to create a National Draft Day. Kind of love the idea. A few years ago I won a BWW-sponsored league and they sent me to the Super Bowl, so I basically have great love for BWW for eternity. But how can I not love a place that wants to establish a national fantasy football holiday?! Head on over to your local BWW to host your draft party this Saturday, 8/24, and get a free draft kit. If you're in Dallas or Minneapolis, you're in luck since Brad Evans and Andy Behrens will be on-site at a BWW in those cities to give draft advice in person. 

  • Some preseason week 2 analysis continues:
  • If you're a long-time reader, you probably know what great respect I have for Football Outsiders - here I love their look at how their KUBIAK rankings compare to ADP to determine which players they believe are going too high: 2013 KUBIAK vs ADP: The Overrated
  • I find Thomas Casale to be a highly entertaining and informative fantasy expert so of course I'm sending you on over to his Fire Sale: 2013 Breakout Players column with FantasySharks.com. Find out which 7 guys he's excited about as the top sleeper/breakout candidates of the season.
  • Or on the flip side, see Rotoworld's The Shy-Away Top 40 for a list of dudes you might want to avoid. 
  • CBSSports.com's Dave Richard has recently wrapped up a pick-by-pick look at each draft spot in a 12-team league - here's a link to the number 11 pick, but you can get to each pick from this link, too.
  • FFToday.com's player projections are ready to roll and keep in mind that they are completely customizable with free registration.
  • Roto Arcade's weekly roundtable Over/Under talk - Foster fears gripping Fantasyland
  • Catalog this one under Things to Keep an Eye On as the future of NFL Sunday Ticket (going Google?!) is discussed. 
Finally, I'm slowly updating my average position rankings spreadsheet and have mostly wrapped it up. This year I also added a tab called Overall Tiers - basically using k-means cluster analysis, it splits all ranked players into 45 tiers based on their overall ranking. I'm hoping to also add positional tiers if I get the chance. I have just one or two more things to add to the spreadsheet and then I'll put the excel version up on dropbox.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Preseason Week 2 wrap-up

Hope you all found some time in your weekend to watch a little preseason action, but if not, you've come to the right place. I've got several recaps for you and a handful of drafting advice.

Speaking of drafts, many of you know that I run a big, 72-team, 6 conference FFLibrarian Monster League made up of FFLibrarian readers. Two of the conferences (conf 5 and 6) are conducting slow, e-mail drafts and the results of their drafts are unfolding here.

In case you missed it, I've been working on the annual average position rankings spreadsheet and I'm in clean-up mode for the document to make it hopefully even more helpful. When I've got the edits in, look for another post here with the excel version. For now, here's the google docs version

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fantasy wheels are in motion

I've heard from a whole bunch of you that would really rather that I keep creating my annual Average Position Rankings spreadsheet, so I'm going to do what I can to pull it together in the next few days. I'll get it rolling in a Google doc (there's nothing in there yet, so be patient) and feel free to check in on it as I populate it. I'll send out a post once it's complete and color-coded in an array of pleasing shades. Update: I have an initial version up for those with drafts this weekend. I'll add positions, bye weeks, a within position ranking, and color code it over the next few days. Will put it up in excel on dropbox, too. Stay tuned.

On to today's links: 

  • Roto Arcade has their Position Primer up for QBs - Unprecedented depth at QB sparks intriguing draft strategy - and they explore the notion of drafting in the QBBC mindset. Included is a Yahoo fantasy brainiac roundtable and their QB tiers.
  • Let's keep rolling with the roundtable thing. I really do love getting multiple opinions on one topic and I've got a few gems for you:
  • As for auction drafts, take a look at SI's advice and get back to basics in Fantasy football auction strategies: Understanding the basics.
  • Along the same strategy/advice vein, last year's unofficial winner of the FFLibrarian accuracy contest, Micah James of FFMagicMan, was chatting on Deadspin yesterday with general draft advice as well as answering specific questions: Ask 2012's Most Accurate Fantasy Football Guy How to Improve Your Draft. Considering he was the most spot-on expert I've had the pleasure of ranking, I'd take a look at what he's seeing ahead for 2013.
  • FantasySports.org now has their fifth installment of Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools up. If you haven't been scoping out this series, you'll want to start at the beginning to see what freebie tools might just tickle your fancy. Seriously this is quality stuff, a lot of which we've linked to before, but plenty of which is new or worth a refresher. 
  • From kickers to Adrian Peterson, find out which dudes are the 21 riskiest players in fantasy football drafts from KFFL.com.
  • DavidGonos.com provides us with a hefty 195 Player Overall list for those in IDP leagues (rankings are also divided into LB, DL, and DB individually) - 2013 IDP Rankings for Fantasy Football Leagues. Personally, I think the advice to "fill your lineup with guys who consistently record tackles" is superb.
  • Finally, if you're really into the preseason (and why wouldn't you be?!), see what ProFootballRosters.com has pulled together in Fantasy Preview: Preseason Week 2 for a positional rundown of guys to keep an eye on this weekend.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Preseason Week 1 aftermath

I just spent the weekend with family in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which is kind of a fascinating meld of hardcore hiking enthusiasts and those who can't get enough of Ripley's Believe it or Not. And fudge shops. Oh the plethora of fudge shops was impressive...only to be outdone by the number of pancake restaurants. It was great to have a respite from the normal world (not great cell reception most of the time) and fun to go on some slow hikes with our son in the Smokies. Let's just say that an almost-3-year-old and a very pregnant lady don't move very quickly...

So now that week 1 of the preseason is in the books, seems like the analysis can truly begin! Here are a few helpful links for the start of the week:

  • Preseason week 1 recaps:
  • Some interesting stuff here from Championship Fantasy Football - they've put together a free draft day spreadsheet tool based on VBD (value based drafting) fueled by projections from ESPN, NFL.com and CBSSports.com. Lots of customization available here. You can view their video on how to use their VBD tool first if you want to see what it's all about first.
  • I'm a big fan of Pat Fitzmaurice who has moved to The Football Girl (might remember him from ProFootballWeekly) and is now posting his fantasy wisdom there at Fitz on Fantasy. For those looking to tweak their game a bit, check out his recent article on draft strategy: Drafting Tactics from a Bird's-Eye Perspective.
  • RealTime Fantasy Sports has a free draft guide up and available - rankings, sleepers, busts, IDP, team outlooks, all that good stuff can be found here.
  • Another great pit stop in  your draft prep is Fantasy Football Nerd who has been compiling consensus rankings for years, pulling from 27 experts this year. Note that only the top players are available for free, otherwise premium membership is required for their other tiers, rankings, projections, and Draft Buddy tool.
Finally, speaking of consensus sites, I'm toying with the idea of not creating my annual average position rankings spreadsheet where I pull overall rankings from 10ish top sites and average them together for a consensus ranking (see last year's version). Instead of doing this myself, I might send you all over to FantasyPros.com, who do a great, streamlined version of this with TONS of experts. I'd ask that those of you who are interested in the average position rankings spreadsheet that I normally create take a look at this - you can use the blue "Edit Sources" button to tweak which experts you look at (I'd even be willing to create a list of my favorites on there for you; if you're interested in that, leave a comment here) and then can export it into excel which would include the best, worst, and average on rankings, standard deviation, ADP, and bye weeks. If overall rankings don't do it for you, they also offer the same abilities with positional rankings. What do you guys think? Use this in favor of the spreadsheet I normally do?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Find your fantasy linkage here!

 August is trucking along and the links are flowing...let's get to it:
  • Let the trumpets sound, FantasyPros.com has their multi-year report out on their accuracy studies. They list the Best Fantasy Football Experts both from a draft perspective and an in-season perspective. As expected, it's awesome. It does shame me into trying to get my multi-year report out ASAP, too, but there's a lot going on in the FF world my friends, so hang tight. It is coming. Eventually.
  • Footballguys.com is another one of my very favorite FF sites and they have some content for free - get it while you can, I say. Or just subscribe. At the very least, get off your tuckus and get on their daily email list. You'll be quite pleased you did. Anyway, back to the free stuff. They are offering their first installment of Training Camp Reports for free - they go team-by-team, position-by-position, and give you the latest and greatest scoop. I love it.
  • There isn't much love for team DSTs on draft day but most leagues require that we draft one, so get some defensive knowledge from The Huddle's Team Defense Fantasy Review & Ratings.
  • Take a look at Fighting Chance Fantasy's QB rankings (top 30) when you get a chance - a solid paragraph on each player is a nice touch. Fighting Chance went dark for awhile but they're back this season and worth a look.
  • Finally, FFToolbox.com's Slipping studs: Which 2012 heroes could drop in '13? is good food for thought and gives you an idea of some dudes that (perhaps justly, perhaps not) will slip a few rounds during your draft.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Guest post: Schauf on IDPs

It has been a busy week at FFLibrarian so I've recruited my friend, Matt Schauf, whom I met several years ago at a Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) meeting, to do a guest post on here on IDPs. Matt writes for DraftSharks.com now and he's basically my favorite IDP writer plus just a smart cookie, so if you're in an IDP league and looking for IDPers that may well outperform their draft position, read up. Much of DraftSharks.com's content is behind a paywall so consider this your lucky break if you're a DSharks fan.

I'll be back tomorrow with some really excellent links for the week - seriously, I'm already pretty excited about some of the links I have lined up for you.


By Matt Schauf

Do you use IDPs in your fantasy football league? I'm guessing you do because you decided to read past the headline. I'm also willing to bet that you don't put as much work into preparing for the defensive portion of your draft as you do the offense.

I can't blame you. Most fantasy players don't. But I do, and it pays off handsomely come draft time. That's why I decided to stop by my friend Sara's blog here and pass along some tips to dominate your IDP draft.

First of all, don't be afraid to start the run on defenders. Texans DE J.J. Watt and Panthers LB Luke Kuechly project well ahead of the others at their positions. If you're the kind who says "I'm not taking an IDP before Round 10," you'll miss out on fantasy's defensive versions of Jimmy Graham and Calvin Johnson.

Beyond the top guys, though, draft values are abundant. ADP has become so familiar to fantasy football players that everyone reading this probably already knows what it means without me spelling it out. You can find the offensive numbers all over the place and shape your strategy accordingly.

That's tougher to do on defense, however. IDP drafts are nowhere near frequent enough to build reliable ADP stats, and individual site's rankings will vary more wildly than they do on offense. I checked out MyFantasyLeague.com drafts that have started since July 1, though, and found these 10 defenders who are set to significantly outperform their draft position and help you win a title.

Defensive Line

Osi Umenyiora, DE, Falcons
Among the 31 D-linemen who had been picked in at least 5% of drafts, Umenyiora ranked a lowly 24th. I get it. The guy will turn 32 in November, played a diminished role for the Giants last year and missed 7 games the year before.

But Umenyiora delivered 9 sacks in the 9 regular-season contests he did play in 2011. He contributed 6 more last season as the New York's No. 3 DE, just a half-sack less than Jason Pierre-Paul's team-leading total.

Umenyiora will play right DE full time in Atlanta and should at least approach 10 sacks. He has also proved an adept collector of tackles and forced fumbles, knocking 31 loose over the past 8 seasons (3.9 a year). Don't be surprised if Umenyiora winds up among the top 12 fantasy D-linemen -- barring injury.

Rob Ninkovich, DE, Patriots
This one, quite honestly, is tough to get. Ninkovich finished each of the past 2 seasons among the top 10 IDP linemen. His current MFL ADP sits somewhere outside the position's top 31. Unless I overlooked the report of him losing a leg, this simply doesn't make sense.

Ninkovich faces no real challenge to his starting left DE job. If anything, his work might get easier with second-year DE Chandler Jones developing and the team adding veteran DT Tommy Kelly. Ninkovich has proved a multi-category producer in his 2 seasons as a full-time starter and improved his sack total each of the past 2 years. He can start for your IDP squad.

LINEBACKERS -- 48 listed

D'Qwell Jackson, ILB, Browns
Jackson ranked outside the top 20 fantasy linebackers in many formats last year, but that'll change in 2013.

You might read about how he struggled against the run the last time Cleveland lined up in a 3-4 front. That's true. Pro Football Focus graded him third-worst among 46 qualifying inside linebackers in run defense back in 2008. But it also doesn't matter. Know how I know? Jackson also led the league in tackles that year.

He could challenge to do so again in his first year under new coordinator Ray Horton -- especially with Craig Robertson and a bunch of other guys you've never heard of manning the other ILB spot. Look for Jackson to assume some of the blitzing duties that helped make Daryl Washington the top fantasy linebacker last year. The whole package should easily outperform Jackson's current LB14 draft position at MFL.

Bruce Carter, OLB, Cowboys
Everyone in Dallas seems to expect this guy to break out under new coordinator Monte Kiffin. That's not surprising, considering Carter will play the weak-side role that helped make Derrick Brooks a star in Tampa Bay and has worked smaller wonders for players from Lance Briggs in Chicago to Cato June in Indianapolis.

Carter stands 6-foot-3, 246 pounds and has reportedly been timed in the 4.4s in the 40-yard dash. He's a big, fast man who returned each of his three college interceptions for at least 41 yards. This is a playmaker whose new scheme is setting him up to make plays. MFL has him going a respectable 20th among linebackers so far. Fantasy Pros' aggregate "expert" rankings says the fantasy community likes him just 25th at the position. Neither set goes nearly high enough.

If you get nothing else from this list, make sure to put Bruce Carter in your IDP lineup this year. (Draft Sharks Insiders can check out our LB rankings to see just how high I have him.)

London Fletcher, ILB, Washington
Fletcher's bound to break down at some point ... right?

He's heading into his age-38 season. Only two linebackers have ever started 16 games in an NFL season at 38 or older: Sam Mills for Carolina in 1997 and Clay Matthews for Atlanta in 1995. No player has reached 100 total tackles at that age. Only Mills and Fletcher have done so at 37. Throw in the multiple injuries that nearly cost Fletcher a game or more last season, and he could nearing the cliff.

But you know what? He ranked among the top 5 fantasy linebackers last season. And the year before. And in 2010. And he finished 2009 among the top 10. Fletcher's age makes me more wary of him than a younger guy with the same profile, but it doesn't make me forget about him.

The veteran has been the 29th linebacker off the board at MFL. That ain't right.

Erin Henderson, MLB, Vikings
According to the My Fantasy League ADP, Henderson isn't even consistently getting drafted. PunchDrunkWonderland.com is running a series of IDP-only drafts -- I took part in No. 13 -- and said that Henderson went undrafted in seven of the first 14 exercises.

Apparently most people thought that Desmond Bishop would automatically take over in the middle after signing. They were wrong. Henderson has stayed there and continued to impress coaches. The only thing standing between him and consistent starting fantasy value is a three-down role.

Henderson struggled in coverage the past two years and lost those duties to MLB Jasper Brinkley last season. But head coach Leslie Frazier has continued to tout Henderson's upside and would like to see him earn every-down work. I'm more than willing to grab Henderson as a third or fourth fantasy linebacker and see what happens.

DEFENSIVE BACKS -- 36

William Moore, SS, Falcons
Moore has been going 18th among defensive backs in MFL drafts since July 1. That's actually down from 15th for the whole year. Why?

I can only guess that people are ignoring his per-game production last season, which ranked second among all defensive backs in many IDP setups. Moore missed the final 4 weeks with a hamstring injury, which dragged down his total fantasy score, and the injury issue has recurred throughout his young career. But this is the easiest position in fantasy football at which to find a replacement.

I had Moore as a top breakout candidate last season -- projected third among DBs -- and he delivered. I see no reason to back off him this year.

Reshad Jones, SS, Dolphins
If you watched Sunday night's Hall of Fame game, you probably noticed Miami's issues with tackling (among many other football fundamentals). The Dolphins played without starting middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe but had their other two LB starters. Continued issues on that front would only mean more opportunities for Jones.

Of course, he doesn't need crappy linebacker play to deliver IDP results in 2013. Jones finished 2012 -- his first full starting season -- with 95 total tackles, 4 interceptions and a No. 8 ranking among fantasy DBs. Pro Football Focus graded him the third-best overall safety in the league. For some reason, he's going 16th among defensive backs on MFL.

T.J. Ward, SS, Browns
Ward's low rating among drafters is easier to understand. He finished last season outside the position's top 50 and missed half the season in 2011. But don't forget about a stellar rookie campaign that ranked
Ward among fantasy's top 10 DBs.

He finished second among all NFL defensive backs in both total tackles (123) and solos (95) that year and could generate big numbers again in that area. New coordinator Ray Horton played Adrian Wilson in the box a lot with the Cardinals, and Ward has already professed excitement for the "downhill" approach. He entered the league out of Oregon with a well-earned reputation for big hits.

Behind a questionable group of linebackers, Ward could deliver consistent scoring for your fantasy squad.

Matt Elam, SS, Ravens
You want a safety made to play in the box? Elam stepped into the lineup as a sophomore at Florida on one of the nation's best defenses and led the team in tackles for loss. Last year he tied DT Shariff Floyd for the lead in that category. (Floyd, by the way, just became a Viking in the first round of April's draft.)

Elam also finished second on the team in total tackles each year and tallied five career sacks and six interceptions. So he's a stout tackler who also presents big-play upside. No wonder head coach John Harbaugh and GM Ozzie Newsome were excited to get Elam at the end of Round 1.

Fantasy drafters can get him pretty much whenever they want so far. Elam doesn't show up among the 36 DBs in MFL's average draft position list.

Matt Schauf writes about IDPs and everything else fantasy football for DraftSharks.com. Online since 1999, Draft Sharks won the 2010 and 2012 FSTA awards for most accurate fantasy football projections.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Monster league invitation!

Greetings all. It's that time of year when I open the invitation to the 2013 FFLibrarian Monster League, hosted by MyFantasyLeague.com. It's a 72-team, 6-conference league with one final winner (kudos to Jeff, owner of The Immaculate Collection, who won the title in 2013). It's kind of awesome to have such a big group of enthusiastic owners all in one space and I highly recommend it if you have the time/space in your fantasy world to join us. If you're interested in playing in this league, e-mail me immediately with your team name and e-mail address. Please also let me know if you'd prefer a live draft or a slow, e-mail draft; I'll do my best to accommodate. Once all the spots in the league have been taken (and that will happen very quickly), I will update this post. All spots are taken, e-mail for wait list only. Thanks!

Looking forward to a great season ahead!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Lots of rankings, position previews

Happy August, friends. Things are brewing over here...the FFLibrarian Monster League (72 teams, 6 conferences) is starting to be put into motion again so if you're interested in playing in the league this year, stay tuned for more info on how/when you can get on the waiting list.  

Today's links: