Part One – QB/QB
In last week’s column,
I reviewed the difficulties that many of us associate with the
prospect of selecting quarterbacks in the first two rounds of
a traditional fantasy draft. I asked any readers who had used
this strategy successfully to share their experience with me,
and I will confess that I expected to receive exactly zero responses
to that request.
I was therefore surprised to hear from a reader named Chad, who
reports that the QB/QB strategy worked out nicely for him this
I have used this strategy over the years and
have had very good results with it. I only do it if I do not have
the first or second pick in the draft. (I just cannot see passing
up LT or AP in a 12- or 14-team league and waiting forever for
my next pick.) The reason that a manager can successfully use
this strategy today is simple. The NFL has fallen in love with
using a committee or [platoon approach] with their RBs, so each
running back that is not top 5 or 6 [diminishes in value]. However,
there are a few things that you have to know when you do use this
First, does the scoring system allow you to sacrifice that top
tier RB for what seems to be a stud backup QB? Check to see if
the league rewards players for kick return yardage. If it does,
my targeted running backs immediately become those players that
are in a RBBC offense AND are back deep for kickoffs and/or punts.
Or is it a PPR League? Even if the time share is 80-20, you can
still score with these players. Secondly, you do not have to wait
until the season begins to trade one of your QBs. There are always
teams that are unhappy with their QB situation after the draft,
so begin trade talks immediately. This keeps you from burning
one of those roster spots and losing ground in the standings [while
working out a trade]. Also, I almost never trade one of these
two QBs in a 1 for 1 deal. If I can get Selvin Young and Larry
Fitzgerald for Tony Romo, I’m pulling the Trigger (which
I did). Now I just roll with Brady, and I have two new players
that are going to start for me every week. Let me lay out my first
seven picks in a 10 Teamer using the QB/QB drafting scenario,
along with the strategy for the remainder of the Draft.
3 Brandon Jacobs
4 Wes Welker
5 K Winslow
6 E Graham
7 L Evans
I went QB/QB but am still solid elsewhere. Then I laid off of
all RBs for a while and drafted the Best WRs that were left. Once
those were gone, I drafted yet another QB - Marc Bulger (who will
essentially be my backup), then began getting those players that
are in a time share situation and return kicks (Rashard Mendenhall,
Andre Hall, Jerious Norwood, Leon Washington, Ray Rice). This
particular draft was in early August (when Leinart was still the
starter for Arizona), so I was able to Draft Kurt Warner as a
After I made the Romo for S.Young and Fitzgerald deal, my starters
looked like this:
QB- T Brady (Rd 1)
RB- B Jacobs (Rd 3)
RB- E Graham (Rd 6)
WR- Wes Welker (Rd 4)
WR- Larry Fitzgerald (T Romo Trade)
WR- L Evans (Rd 7)
TE- K. Winslow (Rd 5)
WR/RB - Selvin Young (T Romo Trade)
It seems to me as if things worked out just fine for Chad.
If I could go from Brady/Romo to Brady/Fitzgerald/Young, I would
be delighted. He has obviously given some thought to the context
in which this strategy is most likely to succeed, and perhaps
there are other readers who will find themselves in a similar
situation and can benefit from Chad’s strategy.
Part Two – Conditional Trade
Over the summer, I wrote
about the uncertainty concerning Brett Favre’s career
in conjunction with the idea of conditional draft picks. It really
wasn’t so long ago that most of us believed Favre’s
career was over. Then there was a brief period of uncertainty.
And now we know that he has landed with the Jets. Keeper league
participants with Favre on their rosters might have wanted to
deal Favre during any of these periods, and a “fair trade”
would obviously have been very different when he was retired (“Hmm,
I’ll give you Barry Sanders for Brett Favre”), when
he was undecided (“How about Ronnie Brown for Brett Favre”),
and when he was reinstated (“Hey man, I love Favre. Would
you trade him to me for Drew Brees?”).
Trading Favre for Brees would have looked like collusion in the
spring, and trading Favre for Barry Sanders would stink to the
heavens today. The players remain the same, but timing and information
make all the difference in the world.
A conditional trade allows deals for players such as Favre to
be made even when no one knows where he will end up (or even whether
he will play). As I tried to point out over the summer, there
is no easier way to ensure that traders will give up something
roughly equal in value to what they will get than by using conditional
Many FFers, however, are reluctant to engage in conditional trades
because they are too complicated or because they take so long
to resolve themselves (often spanning two seasons or more).
Many readers picked up on this last point by writing in to confirm
that their leagues avoided conditional trades to avoid situations
such as the one I outlined (in which an owner who owes another
owner a 4th-round pick decides to leave the league before honoring
However, Bruce wrote in to explain that this sort of problem need
Any owner wishing to trade or receive a future-year
pick must pre-pay for the year in question. If they don’t
return the team is paid for and the owner would be compensated
with a free year of ownership for the lost pick. (They never leave
when they’re prepaid…)
I think Bruce is exactly right here. In the first place, no one
who has paid an entry fee a year in advance is likely to quit.
But even if he did and the commissioner had to find a replacement,
I doubt it would be difficult to find a fantasy buff who would
be willing to take a chance on a team without a 4th-round pick—so
long as the entry fee had already been taken care of!
Like many other readers, Bob wrote in to share the details of
a conditional trade that went off without a hitch:
Pre-season 2006, Brees was slated to face
Rivers for the starting job in SD. I traded Rivers (long term
contract, decent price) for a conditional draft pick. I got a
7th rounder in 06 for sure (worthless in our league - 16 teams,
mostly rookies), then
IF Rivers starts 1-3 games in ‘06, 5th-round pick in ‘07
IF 4-6, 4/07
IF 7-9, 3/07
IF 10-12, 2/07 and
IF 13+, 1/07
I got the 1st rounder and the other owner got a young starting
The conditional trade Bob outlines here is very similar to the
ones other readers reported, but I have selected Bob’s because
he provided a link to his
league’s website for anyone who wants to see the sort
of league in which a trade like this can occur.
A reader named Jason pointed out that conditional trades needs
not be terribly complex in order to work out. In fact, there is
no reason to assume that the “condition” will need
to be triggered at all:
I am the commissioner of my league and was part
of a conditional trade last year that did not have to utilize
the condition. I traded Larry
Johnson for Andre Johnson and Michael Turner with the condition
that Turner had to be picked up by another team before our 2008
draft or I
would receive a second round pick. The trade passed league vote
without issue. I put the condition in for my protection. The rest
of the league did not require additional conditions.
My thanks to everyone who wrote in concerning conditional trades,
and I hope that the generally satisfying experiences that readers
had to report concerning these trades will encourage more leagues
to explore this alternative.
Part Three: This Week’s Question
Do you believe there really is such a thing as a “sweet spot”
in a traditional serpentine draft? I get this question at least
once a year, and I have usually disregarded it because of my sense
that a truly expert drafter can dominate a draft from the first,
fourth, or fourteenth spot.
Nevertheless, since I usually participate in several drafts each
year, I have begun to notice that my own teams are usually most
successful when I draft from the x + 1 position (with x standing
for the number of truly elite running backs in a given draft). In
a year with 8 clearly outstanding RBs, I feel most comfortable if
I draft from the ninth slot. This year I only see 3 or 4 genuinely
elite runners, and I generally felt best about my performance in
serpentine drafts in which I had the 4th or 5th pick.
Maybe I can explain why next week, or maybe one of the readers of
this column will explain it better than I can.
If you think that there is no such thing as a sweet spot (as a good
part of me does), then please explain why.
If you think that there is such a thing as a sweet spot, please
explain whether you think it changes from year to year or stays
pretty much the same—and explain why.
I’ll look forward to hearing
from you by the morning of Wednesday, September 10th.
I’m grateful to Matthew Schiff and Paul Moore for stepping
back up to the plate for another season of LMS prognostications.
Somewhere in the cybersphere, there is a never-ending round of
applause for these guys.
Upset Special: Carolina over San Diego:
Jake Delhomme is back under center and happens to be a pretty
good quarterback (something people are questioning because of
his health). Combine that with a running back in DeAngelo Williams
who finally feels the urgency to produce because of rookie Jonathan
Stewart and this team could put up enough points to go into San
Diego and surprise the Chargers who will be playing without Shawn
Merriman (season ending surgery). Ironically everyone seems to
forget that the Panthers have a pretty good defense and can lock
down the opposing teams #1 wide receiver. Make no mistake, the
Chargers are a good team, but with Delhomme back under center,
the Panthers can and will put up some points in this game.
#3: New Orleans over Tampa (2007 12-5):
The Saints may have had to move to Indianapolis to avoid Gustav,
but the Buccaneers will have a hard time avoiding a rout in this
game. The Saints were one game away from the Super Bowl in 2006
and failed to make the post season because of a number of injuries.
This year the defense is stronger and key players are healthy
(McAllister and Colston). Add a Top tier (though flaky) tight
end in Jeremy Shockey, and you have the makings of an extremely
potent offense. Meanwhile Tampa Bay will be entering the season
with a running-back-by-committee approach and a defense that will
only give us glimpses of its prior glory. This is a divisional
game, which means that anything can happen. But the Saints will
come marching back into town with something to prove.
#2: New England over Kansas City (2007 9-8):
Anyone can pick this game. Right? They are a two and a half touchdown
favorite to win the game. Right? So why do I pick this as my number
two pick instead of my top pick? Well, it’s a sucker bet.
I was once told an adage that said, “Never fight someone
who has nothing to lose” and the Chiefs have nothing to
lose. Tom Brady isn’t 100% with a chance of not playing.
On top of that, the offense hasn’t really sparkled in the
preseason and every team in the NFL will be looking to knock off
the Patriots. Larry Johnson is finally healthy, and Herm Edwards
believes that with a revamped offensive line and second year starter
Brodie Croyle, the offense will be able to open up running lanes
for one of the best running backs in the league. Last year the
Chiefs may have lost their last eight games, but before injuries
decimated the team, they were able to surprise both the Vikings
and the Chargers (a game won by the Chiefs 30-16). This game may
be closer than a touchdown and if that happens, the Chiefs might
just shock the world.
#1: Indianapolis versus Chicago (2007 13-4):
Welcome to the rematch of Super Bowl XLI (snore). Last year at
this time Peyton Manning was basking in the afterglow of that
win, and everyone thought that the Bears might repeat as NFC Champs.
This year, everyone is questioning whether Manning is healthy
enough to even start the first game of the season because he hasn’t
played a single down in pre-season and the Bears offense has been
rebuilt completely. Gone are Cedric Benson and Bernard Berrian
and welcome Kyle Orton, Matt Forte and Devin Hester to the offense.
Combine these changes with a questionable line and this team is
expected to have one of the worst offenses in the league. There
will be immense pressure on the defense to keep games close while
hoping for big plays, and this week’s matchup is anything
but easy for a talented football team. Look for Manning and company
to score early and often while the Colts defense feasts on offensive
A brand new year, a clean slate, and all 32 teams to choose from—although
I doubt anyone will take the Chiefs or Dolphins this year. Looking
at the first week, half the games are divisional matchups. I generally
try to avoid these games if I can since these teams are very familiar
with each other.
#1 (2007: 14-3)
NE over KC - Yeah, I know, this pick is too easy. I should save
the Pats for later in the year but why? Are you going to hold
onto them until you get bounced out of the pool? I use the survive-and-advance
approach. The Pats should jump out to an early lead and coast.
#2 (2007: 14-3)
IND over CHI - This matchup looks a lot like the game above. A
championship caliber team with a QB that hasn't taken a snap in
the pre-season vs. a struggling team with an inferior QB.
#3 (2007: 15-2)
SD over CAR - I'm beginning to see a trend. Top AFC teams over
NFC teams with weak Quarterbacks. With Steve Smith out, Carolina
is also struggling to start 2 decent wideouts. Delhomme isn't
going to have anyone to throw to, making the Panthers very one-dimensional.
It’s also a good idea to take SD now in case Merriman stays
injured and opponents figure out how to best exploit his absence.
For responses to this week's fantasy
question or to share your LMS picks, please email
me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football