Being undefeated this fantasy season has little to do with early-round draft strategy.
Forget about top draft picks Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin and Arian Foster — guys taken in middle to late rounds or even off the waiver
wire have ended up on more 6-0 fantasy teams.
According to data compiled by CBS Sports, only two of the top 12
players most often on 6-0 fantasy teams were first-round draft picks in
12-team leagues — Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy. Two others, Peyton Manning and Jimmy Graham, were taken on average in the second round.
But 4.8 percent of CBS fantasy teams with DeSean Jackson are unbeaten —
the 26th wide receiver off draft boards, according to FantasyPros.com.
So are 3.8 percent of teams with Knowshon Moreno — an early-season
waiver pick playing as one of fantasy's top running backs despite
owners clinging to hope that Montee Ball will somehow take over as the
The other players most frequently on 6-0 teams: Wes Welker, Jordy Nelson and Reggie Bush, along with the Chiefs and Seahawks defenses.
Plus Matt Prater, Denver's kicker.
The list underscores a common lesson in fantasy — it's as much about
finding value as seeking out top performers. Bush and Nelson aren't the
absolute best at their positions, but they're returning much more than
many players taken earlier.
Analyzing undefeated fantasy teams also gives a new way for owners to
appreciate Manning, the top scorer in fantasy (even though he did put
up an unexpected down game against Jacksonville in Week 6).
In CBS leagues, 8.2 percent of teams with Manning are undefeated at
6-0, and only 0.3 percent are 0-6 — you'd almost have to try to lose to
be winless with him.
We all have them on our teams — that trendy sleeper who's just not
getting it done (Tavon Austin) or the proven real-game performer who's
taking a step back (Eli Manning).
Can't be too clingy in fantasy when you need to make way for emerging
players deserving of a shot or at least some bench speculation. Here
are some guys to consider dropping, with the usual caveat that you
should factor in your format (keepers? roster size?) and scoring system.
QB: Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco. Maybe you haven't dropped him and
are just using him as a matchup play. If so, ask yourself: Can't you do
better picking from available free agents each week? Among the passers
who have outscored Kaepernick this year in leagues that award 4 points
for passing touchdowns: Andy Dalton, Alex Smith and Russell Wilson.
RB: Montee Ball, Denver. Ball is still owned in more than 83 percent of
ESPN leagues. For all the talk of Denver's run game being a
three-headed monster with Moreno and Hillman, Moreno has twice as many
carries as Ball, 80 to 43. Ball has as many carries as Oakland Raiders
quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
WR: Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City. It's hard to let go of Bowe — he's
probably Kansas City's best talent besides Charles. But he's caught one
touchdown on six targets in the red zone, and has only 35 targets
overall this year, fewer than Aaron Dobson, Golden Tate or Austin Pettis. It's painful, but don't keep letting guys like Alshon Jeffery
and Keenan Allen pass you by.
TE: Jared Cook, St. Louis. He has as many targets as Bowe. Joseph Fauria, the touchdown-or-nothing dancing spectacle in Detroit who's far
from startable in fantasy, has 4 fewer points total than Cook for the
D/ST: Houston. It's not entirely this unit's fault, with the Texans
offense struggling so badly. But Houston's defense should not be owned
in 94 percent of leagues on ESPN. They're nothing more than an
optimistic matchup play at this point — and a cautionary anecdote about
drafting defenses early.
RINGER TIME: JUSTIN SABLICH
It's the most common question among fantasy footballers as the weekend
approaches: Who do I start?
Justin Sablich, together with his brother Jason, is one of the best
experts at answering just that each week during the season. The
brothers who give fantasy advice for the New York Times were ranked in
the top 5 in fantasy expert accuracy rankings by FantasyPros.com in
2011 and 2012. And they're No. 4 in the list of more than 120 experts
so far this year (http://bit.ly/beINC7 ), through six weeks of games.
Sablich says he and his brother don't use strict projections down to
yardage and touchdowns for each player to compile their rankings
(http://nyti.ms/16wNefe ). They look more broadly at matchups, and take
a safe approach to ordering the lists, Sablich said.
"It pays to have a fairly conservative approach to rankings," Sablich
said. "Over 16 weeks, people tend to perform where they're supposed to."
Sablich takes that same safe approach with his own fantasy teams,
something underscored by how things have played out so far.
Sablich says he's been surprised so far at the high number of injuries
affecting fantasy-relevant players. Those injuries, underperformers and
standout performances from unexpected places have made each position
volatile and difficult to predict.
"Every position is kind of jumbled this year," Sablich said.
A 2-3 week was a mixed bag, with prospects growing really thin in one
league where I own David Wilson, Randall Cobb and C.J. Spiller. The
free agent pool is extremely shallow, so I'll be getting aggressive on
adds, drops and trades this week.
The most interesting win came in a keeper league where I'm now 2-4, in
ninth but only two wins and some points behind fourth place, with the
top five teams all at 4-2. Goodbye Bowe, aloha Austin. I'll likely
grind things out with matchups in the third wide receiver slot, mixing
between Harry Douglas and Michael Floyd or whoever else is available in
the free agent pool.
I'm playing the fifth-place team this week, with a side bet of a
home-cooked meal at stake.
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