Because I will be releasing Top 200 Big Boards like they are
going out of style over the next week or so, I'll save the long
introduction for another time. This week's Big Boards are catered
to the high-stakes players who get their fantasy football groove
on with the Fantasy
Championship and FFPC.
This particular Big Board is focused on the latter competition,
with a $250,000 payout for the grand prize winner. The overall
setup is nearly identical to the TFC, with the major difference
being tight ends are awarded 1.5 points per reception. Otherwise,
both formats require owners to start one quarterback, two running
backs, two receivers, a tight end, two flexes, one kicker and
one defense/special teams unit.
Because the goal is to win not only your league, but also the
huge grand prize at the end, the boards will be set up even more
with an eye toward the postseason. As such, I have chosen to carry
over the content below from my TFC
Big Board because it applies just as much here as it does
Just to reiterate, the TFC and FFPC use scoring that is very
similar to the PPR scoring I used in last
week’s Big Boards. The main differences are as follows:
1) The TFC awards four points (instead of six) for passing touchdowns,
penalizes one point for interceptions (instead of two) and hands
out a point for every 20 yards passing (instead of 25).
2) The FFPC uses the same scoring as I just laid out for the
TFC, but awards tight ends 1.5 points for every catch, as opposed
to one point per reception for every other position.
I realize that 150 players probably won’t be enough for
you this week (both sites use a 20-round draft) and I apologize
for that. Fear not, however, as next week’s 200-player Big
Boards should be deep enough for the majority of you. (And honestly,
shouldn’t most of us be drafting our most important teams
next week anyway?)
Before I get to the boards, I would like to remind readers about
two key points:
1) I doubt you will find another draft board like this one and
further doubt you will find a similar set of rankings anywhere
else. The standard the industry uses to measure accuracy
among analysts is overall scoring, but I am more concerned with
projected consistency and matchups. Consistency tends
to lead to big fantasy numbers at the end of the season and championships
while inconsistency and bad matchups at the wrong time usually
lead to frustration.
2 ) I'll include the risk signs you have become familiar with
in recent years when I release my final Big Boards next week.
For now, owners can take solace in the fact the SSI I use to help
me set my values below accounts for the attributes I feel are
most important for a fantasy player at his given position. Among
the areas I consider at each position are durability and job security,
so don't think the absence of
means I didn't account for such risk factors.
Let’s revisit the color-coding system before we start:
Red – A very difficult matchup.
For lower-level players, a red matchup means they should not be
used in fantasy that week. For a second- or third-tier player,
drop your expectations for them at least one grade that week (i.e.
from WR2 to WR3). For elite players, expect them to perform one
level lower than their usual status (i.e. RB1 performs like a
Yellow – Keep expectations
fairly low in this matchup. For lower-level players, a yellow
matchup is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier
player, they can probably overcome the matchup if things fall
right. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average
White – Basically, this matchup
is one that could go either way. In some cases, I just don’t
feel like I have a good feel yet for this defense. Generally speaking,
these matchups are winnable matchups for all levels of players.
Green – It doesn’t
get much better than this. For non-elite players, the stage is
basically set for said player to exploit the matchup. For the
elite player, this matchup should produce special numbers.
OVR – Overall Rank
FPts/ G – Fantasy points/game (over first
SSI – Although you will not see it featured
in the Big Boards this week or next, SSI is the sum of several position-specific
attributes that I feel are important to fantasy production, weighted
and scored. A perfect score is 1000, but it may help to move the
decimal point one spot to the left and think of each score as a
percentage. It may also help to think of the final score as the
likelihood that player will produce at the level I have projected
him if his current environment stays roughly the same as it is now.
Value - After a year away, standard deviation has
returned to the Big Boards. In this specific piece, "value"
is essentially using the VORP (Value over Replacement Player) concept
for a two-RB, three-WR league, which essentially allows me to compare
apples and oranges. At QB and TE, the value reflects the standard
deviation from the 12th-ranked player at the position – the
last starting-caliber player at the position.
At RB and WR, it gets a bit trickier this week. Because I wanted
to remain unbiased here, I took the standard deviation from the
24th-ranked player at the position. All players who did not fit
into the first 24 at RB and first 24 at WR were then put into a
"flex pool" and the standard deviation was taken from
the 24th-ranked player there, which explains why there are
numbers in blue this week.
Just so you know what you are getting yourself into, here are some
of the attributes I weighed and scored at each position:
Quarterback – Talent, aggressiveness
of the offensive scheme, durability, offensive line play and difficulty
Running back – Talent, job
security, durability, percentage of team's backfield touches and
Wide receiver – Talent, targets/game,
scheme fit and the quality of quarterback play.
Tight end – Talent, importance
to the team in the red zone, targets/game, scheme fit and the
quality of quarterback play.
1. For this first set of Big Boards, I have chosen to stop at
150 players. In the final set of Big Boards next week, I will
rank 200 players and present my final rankings for kickers and
2. Over the next few days, I will be “quality controlling”
my projections (basically double-checking my numbers, such as
not having one defense projected to intercept 15 passes through
four games while another has just one). As with all things that
are worth doing, this process takes time and needs to be constantly
revised as more information about depth charts and injuries becomes
available. Thanks in advance for your patience.
3. As noted earlier, this Big Board is designed for owners drafting
TFC leagues, which require one quarterback, two running backs,
two receivers, a tight end and two flexes to start each week.
Here is the scoring
system that I used to rank the players in the PPR format:
The bulk of the content this week will focus on players who owners
should target and avoid (mostly with an eye on favorable playoff
Potential FFPC-Winning Picks
I can't make much of a case for owners to go against Antonio
Brown in any format this season, but it should be noted Odell
Beckham Jr. and Julio
Jones have mouthwatering matchups during the TFC's four-week
playoff structure, beginning in Week 13. Brown has proven he can
perform at an elite level against any opponent and stay healthy,
which is why he'll remain ahead of OBJ and Jones. While I wouldn't
advise going contrarian with the first pick, I cannot fault owners
for doing so when the goal is to win $250,000 (as opposed to a
regular league prize).
The path of least resistance at running back for owners who select
receivers in the first two rounds may be to double up on Tampa
Bay running backs. Perhaps no player is projected to have a better
slate in December than Doug Martin, who ends the fantasy season
with San Diego-New Orleans-Dallas-New Orleans. A lot can change
between now and December, but remind me again: What exactly those
teams have done to improve themselves on defense - specifically
to stop running backs - this offseason? All of those games have
shootout potential as well, which is why Charles Sims is also
a big deal. And should Martin not make it through the season,
well, I guess we know what that would mean for Sims. If you miss
out on Martin, LeSean McCoy is also a third-round selection (in
most drafts anyway) who could easily help his fantasy teams finish
in the money.
Speaking of Bills, the Doug Martin of wideouts this season could
be Sammy Watkins, at least speaking of receivers outside of the
top 10 or so. Oakland (Week 13) will be a challenge, injuries
have been an issue and the No. 4 overall pick in 2014 needs his
number to get called more often in the red zone, but if Buffalo
can open things up even just a little bit toward the end of the
season, Watkins has the schedule (Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Miami)
to help owners cash in.
I think most of us would acknowledge Danny Woodhead's RB3 finish
was a bit of a fluke in what was a terrible year for running backs.
What is not a fluke is in his two full seasons as a Charger, the
Chadron State product has been a top-12 PPR fantasy back because
he is a legitimate threat for 70-plus catches and the team's most
trusted option in the red zone. Maybe the latter role changes
hands at some point this season if Melvin Gordon lights it up,
but his passing-down work isn't going away since he is one of
the league's best backs when it comes to pass-blocking too. Not
only are his five straight green matchups in Weeks 4-8 a nice
bonus, but favorable matchups against Oakland and Cleveland over
the final two weeks of the fantasy season make him very TFC-friendly
as well. His TFC ADP is 5.8 at the moment; I'd argue that is at
least one round too low.
Occasionally, I am guilty of an oversight or two when I release
the first Big Boards, since time almost always seems to be in
short supply in August. Marvin Jones was an example of that last
week, as I had him ranked 81st on the PPR Big Board. Never fear,
it has been corrected. A strong case can be made that Jones is
better equipped to be a full-time outside receiver than Golden
Tate, who will lose a significant number of snaps in the slot
following the Lions' addition of Anquan Boldin. Tate figures to
draw the opponent's top corner in "shadow situations"
and his owners have to be thrilled about matchups against the
Saints, Bears and Cowboys in three of the final four fantasy matchups
of the season.
Owners typically don't need an excuse to draft Drew Brees or
Eli Manning, but the NFL did everyone associated with the pair
a huge favor by giving them perhaps the juiciest playoff matchups
of any quarterback. Manning's slate is ridiculously favorable
over the final five games of the fantasy season, as Cleveland,
Pittsburgh, Dallas, Detroit and Philadelphia don't have the personnel
to match up with OBJ, much less his new partner-in-crime Sterling
Shepard. As for Brees, I'm willing to listen to an argument regarding
the "ease" of the Saints' final four fantasy contests
because it could be a trap. The Lions could have a formidable
defense if they are able to cobble together some effective play
in the secondary behind CB Darius Slay, although such a hope appears
to be a longshot at best. The Cardinals could (and should) be
a top defense, so the ease of which I speak centers on what I
expect to be a young and mistake-prone Tampa Bay secondary in
Weeks 14 and 16. It should be noted, however, the Bucs did a serviceable
job against Brees last season with lesser personnel.
Jameis Winston may not see much time in fantasy lineups during
the fantasy regular season, but I dare anyone to find a three-week
stretch during the fantasy playoffs that lines up better than
New Orleans-Dallas-New Orleans. If Mike Evans has the year most
think he can have, Vincent Jackson can stay healthy and Austin
Seferian-Jenkins can deliver on his promise, then expecting Winston
to produce against two of the worst defenses from a season ago
isn't asking much.
Eric Ebron isn't exactly rocketing up Big Boards at the moment
given the seriousness of the ankle injury he suffered earlier
this month. Assuming he is ready to go by Week 1 and can stay
on the field, perhaps no other tight end - especially one who
will usually be drafted as a TE2 - boasts a more favorable slate
of games, especially during the fantasy postseason.
Unfavorable FFPC Picks
Allen Robinson has a brutal path to success this year, which
is about the only reason I don't have him higher than I do on
any of my Big Boards. He obviously has enough working in his favor
to be a productive WR1 anyway, and I think he'll be good enough
to help owners win their fair share of league titles. I'm just
not sure he's a player owners in this competition want to hitch
their wagon to in their pursuit for $200,000.
Bell in the first round became a bit more palatable over the
weekend when his suspension was shortened to three games, but
the soundness of drafting him high can still very much be questioned.
Brown, he is pretty much matchup-proof and will probably lead
most fantasy teams that can win at least one of its first three
games into the playoffs, but will he be the difference-maker he
needs to be for his owners in December? It is entirely possible
Bell posts 20-point performances against the Giants, Bills, Bengals
and Ravens (the Steelers' opponents from Week 13-16), but that's
a tough slate for any owner hoping to compete for the grand prize.
C.J. Anderson has looked very good this preseason, so while he
has some things working in his favor (great defense, conservative
offensive philosophy, receivers good enough to keep defenses from
loading the box, etc.), I'm not sure he'll be finding his way
onto any of my TFC teams over the next two-plus weeks. The offensive
line is still very much a work in progress, the schedule is a
bear at the beginning and the end and Devontae Booker probably
isnít going away.
This could very well be Tyler
Lockett's breakout year; there's a reason I have listed as
a sixth-round value. Will he be the main reason why some owner
pockets 200K? I doubt it. With Doug
Baldwin likely to spend roughly half of his snaps in the slot,
Lockett figures to be the one receiver defenses will attempt to
shadow (assuming they have the personnel to do so). Most of the
Seahawks' opponents have at least one very good corner capable
of doing just that. Granted, most owners aren't expecting their
sixth-round picks to carry the team per se, but it should go without
saying few receivers have a more difficult path to fantasy success
this season than Lockett.
I've seen Jordan Matthews go as high as the third round in some
drafts. Why? Yes, he is the lead receiver for the Eagles and possesses
a fair amount of talent. Beyond that, he has a quarterback with
little job security in Sam Bradford, an offense which will not
push the pace (reducing volume) and no discernable threat in the
passing game to take the defense's attention away from him. After
Philadelphia's Week 4 bye, he also won't catch a break from the
schedule either. I think I'm doing him a service by listing him
as the WR38 in this set of rankings; I just don't think he'll
be of much use outside of perhaps five or six games this season.
And if Bradford gets hurt (again), things could go from bad to
Chris Ivory has long been one of my favorite backs, so I feel
like I'm doing him a disservice this year after advising owners
to take him as early as the third round last year. (That seemed
to work out well if I remember correctly, however.) Good luck
to you if you decide on counting on him for anything important
this season. While I believe Jacksonville's offense will be good
enough to help him get a few scores over the second half of the
season, I frankly cannot remember the last time I applied a solid
yellow line to an entire half of a season for a fairly prominent
player. For a back that figures to lose most of the passing-down
work to T.J. Yeldon, Ivory will have the deck stacked against
him in 2016.
Although I don't pay a great amount of attention to ADP, Arian
Foster is usually going off the board sometime in the fifth
round. Certainly, one should never say never, so let's just leave
it as I have no idea how owners expect him to return that kind
of value. There is the Achilles' injury and questions that need
to be answered along the offensive line, not to mention the fact
he will turn 30 this week and hasn't come close to playing a full
season since 2012. And then, there is the schedule. How does Seattle,
New England and Cincinnati in September sound? How about Baltimore,
Arizona, Buffalo and the New York Jets at the end of the fantasy
season? Even if he somehow manages to play 14 games this season,
Foster is not a winning pick in any league. His own injury history
suggests he won't last half the season, his most recent injury
suggests he'll have less explosiveness than last year (when he
averaged 2.6 YPC) and his list of opponents at the most critical
time of the year for fantasy owners makes it virtually impossible
to consider anything more than a high-risk RB3.
I have no idea how I am supposed to rank Justin
Forsett. If I knew he was going to be the man in the Ravens'
backfield for 14-16 games, he'd probably be a sixth-round value
for me. However, Terrance
West seems like he could be the goal-line back in Baltimore,
Buck Allen may steal passing-down work and rookie Kenneth
Dixon is arguably the most talented player of the bunch. Furthermore,
Forsett will turn 31 this season and certainly doesn't have the
history or fit the profile of being a featured back. Speaking
of running backs who are difficult to rank, allow me to include
Crowell. He appears to be in line to start and be Cleveland's
answer to Jeremy
Hill, but Crowell doesn't have Hill's talent, while Duke
Johnson is every bit the equal of Giovani
Bernard. Projected game script also doesn't favor Crowell,
although the Browns should have a better offensive line than most
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.