Let's be clear about something right away: I'm not the biggest
fan of Superflex leagues. For those of us who have been playing
and/or writing about fantasy football since its boom in the mid-to-late
90s, there was a time when the Kurt Warner's and Jeff Garcia's
of the world were drafted in the first round. That was before
PPR scoring became the standard, which served its purpose by creating
more fantasy scoring but also devalued the quarterback position
to a large degree in fantasy. In other words, the unintended consequence
of making every other position more important led to the most
important position in the game becoming less important. The ability
to start a second quarterback every week doesn't make the position
more valuable nearly as much as it creates a demand for at least
10-15 players that wouldn't otherwise be on the majority of fantasy
Many folks believe fantasy football should reflect real football.
I don't believe Superflex leagues accomplish that either. Among
other things, a football team rarely ever plays two quarterbacks
at the same time and most don't have three active on game day.
Also, an injury or demotion of your fantasy QB2 in Superflex can
severely alter your team's chances of winning a title. That also
seems wrong from a real-world perspective. The notion there are
35 or so quarterbacks worthy of being rostered also seems a bit
With that said, I love the fact Superflex leagues offer fantasy
owners the potential to build powerhouse teams, so they are starting
to grow on me. Do you want the opportunity to land Chris Godwin
in the fourth round? James Conner in the fifth? Mike Evans in
the late fifth? Allen Robinson in the sixth? With the exception
of Conner missing the fifth round by two picks, I participated
in an industry Superflex draft in mid-August where all of these
events occurred. Then again, fantasy cornerstones will slip when
16 quarterbacks are selected in the first 40 picks of a draft.
In a year in which quarterback depth may be as good as it has
ever been and there isn't likely to be much difference between
the QB12 and the QB22, fantasy owners will panic, bypassing the
likes of Godwin or Kenny Golladay for Baker Mayfield and Drew Lock. Sam Darnold has more value to some owners than D.K. Metcalf,
as was the case in the aforementioned draft.
Especially with quarterback being as deep as it is this year,
I'm comfortable taking my two quarterbacks in the first five to
six rounds - the first usually in Round 3 - and ignoring the position
after that. The odds are good that owners will be able to snag
a capable replacement quarterback off waivers during the season
to serve as temporary insurance if necessary. Put another way,
there's significantly more value in drafting Metcalf, Tyler Lockett,
Tyler Boyd or even J.K. Dobbins than making sure I have a decent
QB3 option. (When that QB3 is Darnold, Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky, aren't owners just burning a roster spot?)
Football is simple at its very core but a very complex game to
evaluate and analyze because 11 men are being asked to work in
harmony approximately 60 times per game, while 11 other men are
being asked to disrupt that harmony. Pro football is not pro basketball
in that a team can clear out one side of the court when things
break down and the offense can still score. Pro football is not
pro baseball in that one player can defeat a pitcher and eight
fielders by timing his swing just right. Even as great as Barry
Sanders was, he never beat a defense all by himself. In football,
every player needs some help to accomplish his goal. That is part
of what makes football so great and part of what makes it so highly
unpredictable. The violence of the game - even by the tamer standards
in this day and age - adds another element to the equation that
is difficult to quantify.
Regardless, it doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Over the last month,
I have evaluated the weekly matchups for 500-plus players. Analyzing
matchups alone requires me to make 7,500 "decisions".
This is not meant to be a humble brag. Each year, my goal is to
give those who put their faith in my evaluations the confidence
they have the best draft-day tool at their disposal. I like to
think that even if readers believe my logic is flawed for whatever
reason, they can count on the fact that much thought has been
put into that opinion.
How much thought, you ask?
For example, Michael Gallup lined up on the left side of the
formation 456 times, on the right side 292 times and in the slot
96 times last year. Since the majority of defensive coordinators
tend to have their cornerbacks stick to one side as opposed to
following a particular receiver, Gallup's ability to match up
and defeat each of the defensive backs in those spots should/needs
to be considered. I do that for each player who projects to stand
inside the top three of his team's depth chart, and all of that
information is factored into my projections. While how often Gallup
lines up in a certain spot will inevitably be different from last
year, it's unlikely his role as Dallas' "X" receiver
will change under second-year OC Kellen Moore.
Fantasy football is a stock market game, and our job as analysts
is identifying when stocks may be poised for an increase or ready
to tank. While last year's results help fantasy owners/analysts
set the table for the following season, they are merely a starting
point. Fantasy rankings and drafting need to be predictive, not
reactive. This is the approach I have taken for more than 10 years.
While some of the processes have changed in that time, the main
goal has not.
The Success Score Index (SSI) below is powered
in large part by my target and carry predictions that have been
featured in this space over the last two weeks. As always, the
matchups are included in the algorithm. SSI allows me to compare
apples to oranges across positions. Perhaps just as importantly,
I have been able to eliminate most of the guesswork across different
scoring systems (PPR, standard, etc.).
For all of those unfamiliar with my Big Boards, allow me to explain
the color-coding system before we start:
Red – For lower-level players, a red matchup
is the most difficult one a player can face. 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 an RB2).
Yellow – For lower-level players, he is a borderline
start at best. For a second- or third-tier player, the slight
edge goes to the defense in what is essentially a toss-up. For
the elite players, expect slightly better than average production.
White – This one can go either way, but I favor
the player over the matchup. In some cases, I just don’t
feel like I have a good feel yet for this matchup. Generally speaking,
these matchups are winnable for all levels of players.
Green – For non-elite players, the stage is
set for a player to have a productive day. For the elite player,
this matchup could produce special numbers.
Note: Players with a
next to their name have some degree of injury/character/holdout
In the coming days, I will present my final rankings for kickers
and defense/special teams as well as my final Top 200 Big Board
for the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC).
Here is the scoring
system that I used to rank the players in the PPR format:
Are some of the elite quarterback options worth the opportunity
There's very little chance I will draft Lamar Jackson over the
last 1 1/2 weeks, regardless of setup. Why? It's about his draft
cost, positional scarcity and how he goes about scoring fantasy
points. Jackson doesn't get enough credit for being a capable
passer, but it's a safe bet one of the unspoken reasons Baltimore
ended up selecting Dobbins - outside of the fact the Ohio State
product was an incredible value pick late in the second round
- was to reduce the number of times Jackson needs to run and the
offense's reliance on him to create big plays. Dobbins offers
the same kind of big-play potential and has a frame more conducive
to taking punishment than Jackson. The other problem with investing
heavily in Jackson is fantasy owners should try to avoid paying
for a career year. Maybe Jackson has another 43-touchdown, 1,000-yard
rushing season in his future, but history tells us it is unlikely.
Yes, he can still offer his owners a significant positional advantage,
but the draft capital it takes to secure his services hampers
usually leaves owners out of the running back sweepstakes and
largely negates that advantage. While Superflex makes it more
likely a Chris Carson, James Conner or Todd Gurley lasts until
the late third or early fourth round, it's far from a certainty.
I have no problem with people viewing Dak Prescott as the QB3
in drafts this year, but there's an issue with how fantasy owners
are viewing his supporting cast. Do we expect him to attempt 596
passes or throw for nearly 5,000 yards again in an offense that
is supposed to revolve around Ezekiel Elliott? Will the defense
struggle to the same degree it did during the second half of last
season all year? Amari Cooper is generally considered a top-15
fantasy receiver, Michael Gallup is generating a ton of buzz as
a future stud, CeeDee Lamb is reportedly enjoying a camp unlike
any rookie in recent memory and Blake Jarwin is supposedly on
the verge of a breakout season. Is it even remotely possible for
all of them to live up to their fantasy billing in 2020? I don't
see how. Dallas should enjoy more favorable game scripts, so Prescott's
volume should decrease, first and foremost. But let's consider
from a broader perspective: what is the likelihood that all four
pass-catchers will all meet expectations, especially in an offense
featuring a top-five running back? The only offense I can think
of in recent memory to do that (or come close) is the 2013 Broncos.
In other words, the Cowboys are either on the verge of a historic
offensive season or perhaps as many as two of the four pass-catchers
will disappoint. Each of them will undoubtedly have their moment
in the sun this year, but consistency figures to be lacking.
Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured
in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He
is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst
on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's
"Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy
Sports Writers Association.