Last Week's Question: How Many Players from
the Same NFL Team Is Too Many?
Last week’s column
featured the quandary of a reader named Michael, who felt compelled
by his value-based drafting approach to acquire a disproportionate
number of Detroit Lions in 2011.
The note I received from Michael
indicated that he went into all of his drafts this year expecting
to pick up Nate Burleson in the late rounds, but in one draft
he ended up with Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best on his roster
well before it was time to pull the trigger on Burleson.
In the opinion of a reader named David (who says he has been playing
fantasy football since 1995), Michael’s problem may have
less to do with the number of Lions on his roster than his decision
to target Burleson before the draft even started:
[Michael’s decision to target] Burleson
is a potential example of why not to get fixated on any 1 specific
player in any position or tier. I believe you should always have
multiple players at each position and tier level that you like,
so you can be flexible in case someone takes your guy, which happens
more often than not. [Fixating on specific players often causes
owners to draft their “pet players” too early (just
to be sure they get them) or to react with panic and stupidity
when the guy they expected to get in the 10th round gets snapped
up by a rival in the 9th.] It's good to have options every step
of the draft, and then you will always get at least a few of the
players you wanted.
Apart from cautioning against the idea of fixating on any specific
player, David has a number of insights to share concerning Michael’s
While drafting for value assumes you are always
looking to take the next best available player based on historical
stats, an experienced drafter knows that there are other factors
to consider, which could keep you from drafting or drive you to
draft multiple players from the same team.
When Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were both in AZ, they
had 3 years that both WR's went for over 1,000 yards. I remember
seeing some owners draft both WR's during that time, and in some
ways this strategy can pay off because if one of them had a down
game it usually meant the other would score enough to match the
production of two #1 WR's. However, the key to keep in mind is
that it took a great QB and a pass-oriented offensive scheme for
these results to happen.
Now I would say most seasoned FF owners would not draft 2 players
at the same position from the same team, even if they were the
best available, unless it was a handcuff situation or a RBBC.
That being said, it is actually not a bad idea to have a QB and
WR or TE from the same team, but even this decision needs to be
thought out. (It works best when the team is pass-oriented, has
few other weapons, and the players in question already have chemistry,
e.g. Andre Johnson & Schaub in ‘09).
It is usually counterproductive to draft a QB and RB from the
same team. While not exactly a terrible idea, it means you will
be rooting for opposing offensive philosophies all season. With
a balanced team (like Indy in the days of Manning and Edge) or
a team that relies on a RB a lot in the passing game (e.g. the
Rams with Faulk), you can succeed, but how many teams each year
actually have that right mix?
Along with the above info, you also have to realize that
the value of players in FF is constantly changing, even during
the draft, and that there are 3 different types of value. First,
there is the value of the player before the draft begins (how
ADP is created). Second is the value of the player to your team,
which fluctuates based on who you have already drafted and what
needs your team still has in order to be as strong as possible.
Third is the value the player has to other owners drafting, which
is especially important in leagues where trading is allowed.
If you keep the above in mind when you are drafting, there will
be very few times you think about drafting 2 players at the same
position from the same team because you will know that the perceived
value of the 2nd player you are considering from the team in question
is likely no longer at the same value he was at when the original
ADP was established. I mean would you constantly take WR's for
your first 4-5 picks if they just happened to be the best available
player? (I hope not, unless you know you can parlay some of them
into RB's within a week or two.)
Now getting back to the original question, and the situation mentioned
about taking Megatron, Best and Burleson: If you believed that
Megatron was likely to get injured and miss some games, and you
intended to trade him to someone in your league that just loved
him, leaving your own squad with Burleson as a possible WR3 with
potential upside, then that is a strategy—and all strategies
are subject to success if you know your league well enough, and
your predictions have some history to back them up.
Otherwise I would not take both WR's from DET since that offense
is still growing and Burleson's upside this year is also capped
by having 2 quality TE's, and rookie WR Titus Young, which may
lessen Burleson's overall value this year. While it is true that
drafting him as a WR4/5 with upside is not a bad idea, I could
name a dozen or more other WR's that I would gamble on instead,
especially since I already have Megatron and Best.
David provides us with plenty of food for thought in his commentary,
but I would direct the attention of all readers (particularly
Michael) to the 4th paragraph from the end, which I have put in
bold type because I consider it the most insightful of David’s
comments. Our cheatsheets may paint an accurate picture of any
player’s value relative to other players in the NFL, but
they can’t and won’t account for the value of a specific
player to a particular half-finished roster.
Most of the readers who responded to last week’s question
shared the concerns of both David and Michael about having too
many players from the same team. No one proposed a mathematical
formula for determining how to avoid over-representation from
a single NFL squad, but the general sense appeared to be that
owners should proceed with caution whenever they ended up with
more than 2 (non-handcuffed) players from the same team. Greg,
however, spoke for the FFers who consider this cautiousness to
be much ado about nothing:
I don’t think avoiding drafting multiple
players from the same team is very important. Consider an extreme
example where you have drafted all of the 2009 Colts or 2008 Pats
(just assume all these players were the best value choice in the
draft). You probably wouldn’t have too much of a problem
since they had only one combined loss weeks 1-16. Now bring it
down to only three or four good players drafted from a team that
goes 12-4 and I think we’ll still get our money’s
I agree with your “all things being equal” approach.
It’s better to grab players from different teams when it’s
convenient, but only to avoid a big hang up during bye weeks.
I believe as long as you’re drafting the players who will
get you the most points, it shouldn’t matter much which
team they’re from.
This kind of reminds me of a similar situation where you are considering
starting a highly ranked defense, but it is up against your starting
QB. It really shouldn’t make any difference. Just start
who you estimate will get the most points each week, not who you
hope will. There is something to be said for the “Peyton
Manning effect,” i.e., all of your players losing value
by an injury to just one of them. Peyton is special, and the fact
is it often won’t take more than one season-ending injury
to one of your top draft picks to kill your season anyway (RIP
Jamaal Charles owners).
My thanks to everyone who responded to Michael’s question.
I share the curiosity of one reader (Shane) who points out that
Michael never says whether he drafted Burleson after acquiring
Johnson and Best. Michael, if you are still reading, please let
us know at the end of the season how things worked out for
the mini-Lions squad.
This Week's Question: How Seriously Do
You Take Weekly Matchup Advice?
A reader named Ken is starting to feel persecuted by “Start
‘em/ Sit ‘em” advice:
I didn’t ask anyone if I should start
Eli Manning in Week 3, but that didn’t keep people from
telling me to bench him. It started with an email from [name of
service withheld] explaining that of all the players in the NFL,
the one guy that they wanted to single out for benching in Week
3 was Eli Manning. Then I started hearing it everywhere. On the
radio they talked about how good Philly is at picking off passes
from Eli. On TV they said the same thing. When I went to my fantasy
website to enter my lineup, there it was again—a warning
from [name of a different fantasy service withheld] that Eli was
a poor fantasy choice in Week 3.
Now I am no great fan of Eli. I don’t give two [fecal units]
about him or the Giants or the NFC East. He was the best QB on
the board when I got around to picking my QB, and I figured he
would be decent for me, which is exactly what he has been.
But the only reason he has been decent is because I started him
in Week 3 despite the objections of these know-it-all dimwits
who wanted me to bench him when he threw for 4 TDs and 256 yards
with no picks and no fumbles. The game that I was specifically
warned against using him turns out to be his best game so far
But it doesn’t stop there. I got curious and checked his
stats from last season. He scored more fantasy points in Week
3 of 2011 than in ANY game of 2010. That got me curious about
how far back I would have to go to find a stronger fantasy performance.
I had to go all the way back to Week 14 of
But here’s the real headscratcher. Guess what team he was
playing when he had his best performance of 2009.
And then I took another look at the 2010 season. His best fantasy
performance in all of 2010 came in Week 15 against . . .
What are these guys who give the start ‘em/sit ‘em
advice smoking? Eli’s best fantasy game in 2009 is against
the Eagles. His best fantasy game in 2010 is against the Eagles.
So when he plays the Eagles in 2011, they have to shout it from
the rooftops that I should bench him. I mean seriously, what the
I couldn’t resist Ken’s question because it gave me
a chance play cutesy editor with his profanity. But the fact is
I wanted to ignore it because I have never had much luck with
questions such as this one. I know in advance that I am going
to hear from at least a dozen readers who will want to tell Ken
that the most important strategy in fantasy football is to always
start your studs regardless of what team they are playing against
or what the experts and their predictions say.
The problem with this answer (as I have written in the past) is
that it fails to define a stud. I know that Tom Brady is a stud
QB. The same obviously goes for Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees and
arguably Matthew Stafford. But is Cam Newton still an indisputable
stud after his Week 3 performance? What about Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Even if he looks studly now, he probably struck owners as more
of a “solid alternative” when drafts were taking place.
What about those lucky owners who drafted Brees early and managed
to pick up Fitzpatrick late. What good does it do such owners
to hear that Brees and Fitzpatrick are both studs and that they
should always start their studs?
Eli may be a solid quarterback, but there probably aren’t
many FFers who would consider him a true stud. So if an owner
has, for example, Eli Manning and Matt Schaub as his two options
at QB, telling him to start his stud is pretty much the same thing
as clearing your throat and mumbling something about the weather.
Surely there are times when it is worth thinking about matchups,
but there are just as surely times when matchup analysts get things
horribly horribly wrong.
So I am asking readers to walk me through matchup analysis of
their own. Show me how you use matchups to decide between two
roughly equal RBs or WRs or QBs. If you want to use a past game,
fine. If you are willing to stick your neck out, then write
back to me before Sunday about the hardest choice you have
to make for the Week 4 games. Don’t pretend that it’s
difficult to choose between Ray Rice and Joseph Addai. But if
Rice is your #1 back, you might have difficulty choosing between
Addai and Willis McGahee as your #2. How much do you focus on
the opposing defense? How do you factor in injuries to fullbacks
and other blockers? Is there a particular fantasy service that
you rely on to make these judgment calls for you? I withheld the
names of the services that Ken named because FFToday is not in
the business of picking fights with industry peers, but if there
is one website that you think does an outstanding job of weekly
matchup analysis, I will be happy to give credit where it is due.
(Courtesy of Matthew
Trap Game: Indianapolis at Tampa Bay:
Who would’ve thought that the Bills could rally against
the Patriots and come back from down 21 points. And if you had
chosen the Pats as your LMS team, you’d be out. While I
don’t think that Tampa losing will be as big a shocker,
the betting public seems to differ in their opinion. The Colts
are not sure if Kerry Collins will be cleared for the game and
they are 0-3 and thinking about going into the Andrew Luck draft
lottery early with Peyton Manning most likely done for the season.
But don’t be surprised if this team copies the format of
beating Tampa and pulls off the double digit underdog win on the
#3: Buffalo over Cincinnati (2-1 PIT, SD,
If this were 2010, the average American Football fan would have
been asleep by the end of the first quarter. But this Bill team
is becoming a legitimate threat in the AFC East. And the more
they face adversity going forward, very few teams will be able
to match up on defense against the spread offense of the Bills
talent all over the field on each and every play. It is just too
much to defend. Even though Cinci hasn’t’ given up
a lot of points in the first three weeks, that will all change
against Fitzpatrick and company.
#2: Green Bay over Denver (3-0 SD, ARI,
The Packers are good. They are home. Ryan Grant seems to be returning
to form and the Broncos defense is horrible at stopping the run
(don’t let the Titans struggles fool you). The Broncos meanwhile
are in the last quartile in almost every offensive category. And
playing against last year’s number one ranked, Super Bowl
Champion defenses, won’t be an easy task. Put this one on
auto pilot if you are concerned Vick won’t play.
#1: Philadelphia over San Francisco (3-0 SD,
Michael Vick has declared himself 100% guaranteed to play on
Sunday! But that may not be a good thing. The 49ers have only
given up an average of over 17 points per game, sacked the quarterback
7 times in three games and allowed 306 yards per game (4th, 4th
and 7th in their respective categories). But the Dream Team’s
defense won’t be tested nearly as much as the 49ers defense
unless their anemic offense that generates only 213 yards per
game can continue to score more than their 23 points per game
average. In Philly, after a major divisional loss, the Eagles
just need a win more than the 49ers and will provide the hometown
faithful with a win.
For responses to this month's fantasy question please email