Last week’s question: How many players
from your draft ended up starting in your final game last season?
Although I received a wide range of answers to my
question about how many of the players drafted by owners ended
up on their final rosters in 2017, no one reported a starting lineup
surviving intact from the draft to the end of the season, but no
one ended up with a final lineup featuring fewer than 3 draftees
either. Turnover was wildly inconsistent from league to league (based
primarily on bench depth as far as I could tell, with deeper benches
generally translating to lower turnover—though this may have
been an illusion created by the fact that not everyone who responded
provided information about bench depth).
Unsurprisingly, the players taken earliest seem to be the ones
most likely to remain active, as RDB found with the players he
drafted in rounds 1-5 of 2017:
I'll talk about my championship team from last season. My league
is a 10-team PPR, IDP league. The draft is 19 rounds and I ended
up with 6 total players from draft day, my first 5 plus 1, on
my week 16 roster. Each week we start 12 players: 7 Offense +
1K + 4 IDPs.
I won the league starting 5/12 from the draft. Gurley, Julio,
Tate (who I benched that week), Demaryius, Kelce, and LB Telvin
Smith. Also, I traded away Mixon, who I drafted, in a trade that
didn't amount to much.
The single most comprehensive view of the “draft drift”
question came from Darrel, who color codes the rosters in his
league to keep trades and waiver wire acquisitions separate from
each other and from draftees:
My team drifts a TON annually. Folks in my league have heard
this from me every year: "The DRAFT is just a SUGGESTED roster."
As commissioner I maintain a spreadsheet showing all rosters and
update it weekly. I show drafted players in BLACK, free agent
pickups in RED, traded players in BLUE, and IR players in PURPLE.
By the end of the year it is not uncommon for many teams to be
at least half RED in their lineups. Mine is generally one half
or more RED. We pay $1 into our prize pool for every player added
(ADD/TRADE) during the year. It is not uncommon to see 20 or more
transaction fees among several teams during the year.
As an example, we are entering Week 4 and my roster (15 players)
shows 5 RED players already, 1 BLUE Player, and 1 Player in PURPLE.
The average amongst all 12 teams is 4-6 RED players per roster.
I think more commissioners might want to follow Darrel’s
lead here of tracking this information across the entire league
so that owners can tell, at a glance, whether the most successful
owners tend be more or less active as traders or scourers of the
waiver wire. This could be especially effective as a teaching
tool in sleepy leagues with people who don’t understand
the importance of staying on top of the changing NFL landscape.
However, in a league like Mark’s (which gives veteran owners
16-spot rosters), almost all of the most important talent in the
NFL will be scooped up on draft day:
Aside from injuries, our rosters turn over very little. A lot
of that has to do with very good drafting and draft prep. The
prep has become so good and available these days that most people
who take the time, will find that they have their bases covered.
Sometimes you don’t see people coming after an injury and
they make enough of a splash to displace starters, but the only
turnover that happens in our league with any frequency tends to
be at the bottom of a roster for weekly streaming or to replace
an injury. For example, because I had D Adams, Tyreek, Kupp and
Ginn at WR, I took flyers on Hurns, Benjamin, Miller, and Sutton
in rounds 10-14 of a 16-round draft. I’ve since replaced
them with the Bears, Callaway, Kirk, and Andy Dalton. Same for
RB. Because I had Gurley, Miller, and Hyde, I took a flyer on
Kerryon Johnson and Ty Montgomery in rounds 8-9. Johnson I kept
but I replaced Ty with Buck Allen after week 1. I also drafted
the Texans but have been streaming except where the Bears have
had the matchup. This week it’s the Packers.
The moral of the story is that people who build solid starters
(valued at their norm instead of their upside) tend to not feel
like they’ve got to do a lot of roster changing even if
they start slow. All three RBs mentioned in your article were
drafted at their max. Cleveland is better and not behind so much
and we knew that going in, so Duke was way devalued in our league.
As soon as we all saw “hamstring” injury for Mack,
we knew he wouldn’t be a factor until late in the year if
at all. When Penny couldn’t get anything done in the preseason
but Carson could, you don’t buy into the draft capital argument.
But that’s a different article.
You’re right, Mark. That point about valuing players “at
their norm instead of their upside” could make for another
article—one that the question for Week 5 will touch on in
a round-about way.
Last Week’s Bonus Question:
What if the Bills’ upset of the Vikings ended your survivor
pool after just 3 weeks?
Our resident survivor pool expert (Matthew Schiff) is taking a
sabbatical in 2018, but he wrote in to ask for suggestions about
what to do with survivor pools that ended after just 3 weeks with
everyone being eliminated and more than half the participants
exiting on the final week with the same wrong pick.
Bill wrote in with what is probably the most straightforward
My 12-team league runs a Survivor Pool every year. We had 6 eliminated
in Week 1 and the other 6 all got eliminated in Week 3. I split
the pool evenly between the 6 that were eliminated in Week 3 and
restarted the Survivor Pool in Week 4 and everyone may participate
again (with all teams available to be picked). I found this the
easiest way to handle this unique situation.
Bill’s approach is perfectly sound (and should probably
be the default setting in most pools), but survivor enthusiasts
looking for a more intriguing approach may want to consider Taylor’s
I've been in [survivor] pools for 10 years (and running one for
the last 6). For all but last year, the survivor game was won
before Week 9 of the season; in the vast majority, it was over
by Week 5. After one very short year (similar to this year), my
predecessor made an executive decision to add a concurrent season-long
game (or until a winner was clearly evident). The entry fee was
boosted slightly, and payoffs were split appx. 2-2.5:1 for the
pure survivor game:season-record contests. (Note: Players have
the option of taking different teams each week for each of the
two contests, as long as the only-once-per-season rule is followed
for each contest. Only one player does this.)
In addition, I added a third contest (and shuffled prize pools
around slightly) starting last year, giving an entry fee + $5
for the longest unbeaten string for the length of the season/contest.
I added it to reward those who were picking well, but otherwise
out of [contention for] any awards. The survivor winner is ineligible,
and tiebreakers reward those picking low-win NFL teams. (Our pool
has too many players who just take the biggest spreads available.)
Last year, the “most-meager unbeaten streak” prize
had the most interest and intrigue, with a risky-but-winning pick
of Indianapolis to win the tiebreaker on the last week of the
On the one hand, I feel like it might be easier to teach a person
how to play craps than how to participate in the simultaneous
and overlapping pools proposed by Taylor, but on the other hand,
he speaks from experience about the fact that survivor pools (especially
when they are confined to a single fantasy league) tend to be
over far too quickly—often with far too many “winners”
in the final week. In other words, I think there’s a lot
to be said for experimenting with some of Taylor’s ideas.
Doh! Chris Hogan appeared to be a safe
pick in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts this summer.
This week’s question: Which of
your draft picks turned out to have a lower floor than you thought
This question grows out of Mark’s comment about mistaking
a player’s upside for his norm, as I did with Chris Hogan
in the FFToday draft. When I took Hogan in the 5th round, I didn’t
think I was getting a great WR for the entire season, but I was
dead solid certain that I would have a start-worthy player for 6
weeks. “With Brandin Cooks gone and Julian Edelman suspended,
how unproductive can Hogan possibly be?” I asked.
I don’t remember how I answered, but I definitely answered
wrong—because I had no idea that Hogan would be held to 31
or fewer yards with no scores in 3 of his first 4 games this season.
How about you? Which player from your draft has gone above and beyond
in the disappointment of expectations department? Are some positions
inherently more likely to create the illusions of false floors than
others? Why do we get floors so wrong in our projections?
You can email me your
answers or post them in the comment field below.
Survivor Pool Picks
Trap Game: Colts at Patriots
For the third week in a row, I’m refusing to get anywhere
near the Pats. I was right to be worried about them against the
Lions in Week 3, but wrong to be worried about them vs. the Dolphins
in Week 4. I’m probably wrong again this week, since New England
is the only double-digit favorite for the entire Week 5 slate. With
T.Y. Hilton already declared out, it seems especially unlikely for
the Colts to upset the Pats in Foxboro, but the many skill player
substitutions we can expect from Indy (which will also be missing
RB Marlon Mack and TE Jack Doyle) could cause confusion for a Patriots
team studying film on the Indy offense of yester-week. I’m
sure I’ll come to trust New England once Josh Gordon or Julian Edelman helps to get a legit passing attack established, but until
then, I’m steering clear.
Pick #3: Bengals over Dolphins (4-0; GB, NO, CHI, LAC)
The Dolphins travel to Cincinnati as 6.5-point underdogs. It’s
not clear what the line would be if Miami could find a running game,
but the Fish appear more likely to plunge down from their 25th-ranked
rushing spot than to climb up any time soon. The Dolphins cruised
to a 3-1 start by beating the Titans, Jets, and Raiders before collapsing
against New England in Week 4. That collapse is likely to continue
against a Bengals team that has achieved the same record against
considerably stiffer competition (wins vs. Indy, Baltimore, &
Atlanta—and a loss to Carolina). Bengal fans who overvalue
the eternally injured Tyler Eifert may think that their team is
weaker now than at the beginning of Week 4 (when Eifert was still
healthy), but the return of LB Vontaze Burfict from suspension should
actually make the Bengals more formidable than they have been at
any point this season.
Pick #2: Carolina over NYG (2-2; no, LAC, hou, GB)
The last time Cam Newton faced the New York Giants was in Week 15
of 2015, when he racked up 340 passing yards, 100 passing yards,
and 5 TDs in a 38-35 squeaker. In an interview after the game, he
remarked, “The score wouldn’t have been so close if
I had a weapon like Christian McCaffrey to exploit.” Okay,
I made that up, but it’s true that McCaffrey’s versatility
only makes Newton more dangerous as a passer and a rusher. It doesn’t
help that the Panthers spent Week 4 resting, whereas the Giants
spent it being embarrassed at home by the Saints. The streakiness
of Eli Manning makes it difficult to know what to expect from the
Giants, but we are into the second quarter of a season that looks
promising for the Panthers and gloomy for New York, so Vegas is
probably right to favor Carolina by 7.
Pick #1: Saints over Redskins (3-1; BAL, LAR, min, JAX)
It’s no fun picking the Monday night game in survivor pools,
but the disparity in talent (especially at skill positions on
offense) makes this choice almost irresistible. Washington’s
passing game uses wide receivers so ineffectively that RBs Adrian
Peterson and Chris Thompson have almost as many receiving yards
between them (255) as WRs Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder, &
Josh Doctson (258). So my question is simple: How do you beat
a team like the Saints without a passing attack? I understand
that when Washington gets into the red zone, Jordan Reed is a
touchdown machine. But you have to get to the red zone with frequency
to keep up with the Saints, and Washington’s 28th-ranked
passing attack doesn’t seem capable of pulling that off—even
against the wildly inconsistent defense of New Orleans.
Mike Davis has been writing about fantasy football since 1999--and
playing video games even longer than that. His latest novel (concerning
a gamer who gets trapped inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms)
can be found here.