Last season, I participated in six high-stakes leagues through
The Fantasy Championship
(TFC), winning the league title with one team that finished inside
the top 20 of all teams inside "The Championship" round.
All in all, I came out a few hundred dollars ahead, which isn't
bad considering how many of my teams had Brandon Marshall and
Allen Robinson. (Just another reminder why it always a good habit
to target receivers attached to proven quarterbacks.) One team
had David Johnson and couldn't buy a win. On another team, five
of top seven picks were out for the year by midseason. But I'm
not here to complain, only move forward.
Without getting into a long-winded discussion about strategy
in the TFC, what is the easiest way to negate the attrition that
takes place at the running back position? Avoid investing high-end
capital into it as long as you can, but doing so responsibly.
In high-stakes competitions like the TFC and FFPC in which owners
are required to start one quarterback, two running backs, two
receivers, a tight end and two flexes, most owners opt to fill
both flex spots with receivers, essentially making the first 4-6
rounds a race to see which owners can fill their flex spots the
fastest. If you thought the demand for wideouts was/is crazy in
leagues that start three receivers, you're in for a surprise in
Given how much the Zero-RB crashed and burned for many last year,
there may be a push in these high-stakes leagues to go a bit more
old school this time around. I'm not sure that's a great idea.
In fact, I'm more convinced than last year the way to go in the
TFC is to prioritize receivers after the clear-cut
running back workhorses are off the board. The Zero-RB "pool"
in the middle rounds (high-upside backs like Mark Ingram, Mike Gillislee, Bilal Powell and Duke Johnson this year) should be
more than serviceable as weekly starters if owners toward the
end of the first round can come away with a pairing such as Jordy Nelson-Brandin Cooks-Michael Crabtree-Kelvin Benjamin after their
first four picks.
Having said that, my winning team last year started off Ezekiel Elliott and Le'Veon Bell, who dropped into the second round because
of his season-opening suspension. While some might wonder if Elliott's
suspension this season provides a similar buying opportunity,
I would agree to a point. However, the difference between Bell's
three-game suspension and Elliott's likely six-game suspension
is that I had Bell in my lineup by Week 4 last year. Elliott owners,
as of now, are looking at Week 8 in 2017. The TFC playoffs begin
in Week 13, meaning Elliott owners will only have him for five
weeks at the most in the fantasy regular season. Fortune favors
the bold, but buying Elliott in the third round of TFC drafts
requires a leap of faith he will see is suspension reduced to
The TFC uses scoring that is very similar to the PPR scoring
I used in last week’s Big Boards. The main differences:
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).
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?)
For all of those unfamiliar with the Big Boards, allow me to
explain 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 RB2).
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.
I've been working overtime this week in order to get my Success
Score Index (SSI) on track. The score is an apples-to-oranges
number I reach after meticulously grading and assigning certain
weights to several unique attributes to that position that I feel
are critical to fantasy success. While I still have some minor
tweaks to make in order to adjust for different scoring systems,
I feel comfortable enough with it to use it for this particular
set of rankings. The goal all along has been to find a way to
arrive at a common-sense score and use that to rank the players.
I feel I have achieved that.
Note: Later this week,
I will release my first Big Board for the FFPC. In the final set
of Big Boards over the following two weeks, I will rank 200 players
and present my final rankings for kickers and defense/special
Here is the scoring
system that I used to rank the players in the Half-Point PPR
- I'm assuming above Elliott's suspension will be reduced to
four games. While I haven't done the math on it yet, I would imagine
the current six-game suspension for Elliott would send him back
into the 45-50 range for the purposes of this board.
- Receivers will go fast. On this board, 25 of the first 50 players
are wideouts. I would expect that to be a bit on the low side
in most TFC drafts.
- How you view upside is ultimately up to you. I can't assign
a number to one player's upside without tipping the apple cart
over for several other players. For example, I prefer Dak Prescott
over DeAndre Washington. Another good example would be James Conner
and Paul Perkins. The SSI is only a value I have assigned for
the player - and not a draft grade per se - and another way to
tier within a position as well as across positions. I cannot assume
to know whether a low-end QB1/high-end QB2 or high-upside RB5
is more important to you after the 10th round, nor can I assume
if you need someone who is going to get some touches out of the
gate (Perkins) or if you value a back who have huge upside if
the starter in front of him gets hurt (Conner). I personally value
Conner's upside more. That is why I emphasize year after year
this is a "value board" more than it is "take the
next guy on the list" board.
- There are several players on the outside looking in due to
current injury situations or some other factor I am waiting (hoping)
for more information on. Once those get resolved (if they do),
I am confident several of them will slide inside the top 150.
They are (in no particular order):
Next: FFPC 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.