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Domination of a Weird Free Public League (1 Viewer)

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Axe Elf

The thing for which I seem to be the most admired around here is my ability to make the domination of a free public league look easy. Of course, when you're Axe Elf, and you've mastered all the standard fantasy football formats, you're naturally on the lookout for unusual challenges to hone your skills and provide advanced challenges beyond the mere accumulation of trophy hardware. This is why one of my leagues this year involved me picking all my players from the free agents left over after all the other owners had drafted, and what led to me joining the uniquely formatted league I'm about to tell you about.

This is a customized free public ESPN auction league with 12 teams. The rosters are deep, with 12 starters and 8 bench slots--and there are no kickers involved. The starting lineup consists of 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 Flex, and 2 Offensive Utility slots, along with 1 D/ST. The flex slot is limited to RB/WR/TE, but the Utility slots can be any offensive player--including QBs--so you can start up to 4 QBs each week. (However, there is a limit of 4 total QBs on your roster, including bench players.)

Further, the scoring is a little strange. QBs get 6 pts per pass TD, but they only get 1 pt per 100 yards passing. They do get 5 and 6 point bonuses for 300+ and 400+ yard passing games, respectively, and an 8 pt bonus for a 40+ TD or a 10 pt bonus for a 50+ TD. On top of that, they get 1 pt per completion and -1 point for an incompletion, and -2 points for an INT. Rushers and receivers get 1 pt per 50 yards, the same bonuses for 100+ and 200+ outings and 40+ and 50+ TDs, and 1 pt per rush attempt and 1 pt per reception. Offensive players do get 6 pts for kick and punt return TDs, but no points for return yardage. Defenses get 1 pt per 10 kick/punt return yards, 3 pts per sack, blocked kick/punt, INT or fumble recovery (+2 pts for every forced fumble), 1 pt per every 5 total tackles, and 8 pts for any kind of defensive or special teams TD (not to mention the usual array of positive and negative points based on points and yards allowed).


And so, the draft. I went in kind of thinking that everyone would be fighting over QBs, with the possibility of starting four of them in a 12 man league, but I guess the points for rush attempts made people value RBs as much as QBs still--so a lot of teams spent a lot of money early on for the stud RBs--and a few of the top QBs too. I started out just sitting back and saving my money for the QB wars I thought were coming, so by the time I figured out that the QBs weren't going to be as valuable as I had thought, most of the top tier RBs and WRs were gone. In a way, that was good, though, as it allowed me to totally nail the draft in virtually every other way. Here's how and why...

QBs: Tony Romo ($7), Andy Dalton ($7), Matt Schaub ($1), Carson Palmer ($1)

I was truly amazed that I was able to get this stable of QBs for $16 total, but by the time most of these guys were being nominated, most of the teams were down to a max bid of only a few dollars anyway, so I was pretty much able to pick and choose who I wanted. These were the exact four guys I was targeting going into the draft, so I was extremely happy to get them. Why these four?

Well, first off, none of them share a bye week. So I will be able to start all four of them in 13 of the 17 weeks (yes, all 17 weeks), and I will never have to start fewer than 3 QBs (barring injury). Secondly, all four of them have credible deep targets that can earn me the distance TD bonus at any time (Romo-Bryant, Dalton-Green, Schaub-Johnson, Palmer-Fitzgerald). Thirdly, all of them but Dalton threw for more than 4000 yards in 2012 (they ranked #3, #10, #11 and #16 in yardage), so the 300 and 400 yard games are regularly possible. They ranked #6, #7, and two were tied for #15 in pass TDs in 2012, and they ranked #2, #8, #9 and #12 in pass completions, so they should rack up plenty of points there. Further, they ranked #5, #6, #12 and #14 in completion percentage, so they won't lose a lot of points for their incompletions, and they averaged 15.25 INTs apiece, so that's an acceptable cost as well.

RB: Steven Jackson ($40), Reggie Bush ($18), DeMarco Murray ($17), Giovani Bernard ($9), Ahmad Bradshaw ($8), Ronnie Hillman ($1)

They may not all get a ton of carries, but most of them should make up for carries with catches. Most of them have big-play ability to earn the lucrative bonuses. Only Hillman and Bush share a bye week, so I should have at least four of them available every week to cover the two RB slots, the flex slot, and an OP slot on any QBs bye week.

WR: Reggie Wayne ($18), Danny Amendola ($14), Dwayne Bowe ($14), DeSean Jackson ($11), Anquan Boldin ($11), Justin Blackmon ($3), Greg Little ($1)

A little more bye conflict here, with Amendola, Bowe and Little sharing Week 10 and Blackmon and Boldin sharing Week 9, but I should only need a starting three available on any given week, and I have the depth to swing that. Most of these guys should be PPR beasts, as the clear WR1 for their teams.

TE: Tony Gonzalez ($13), Greg Olsen ($5)

Both are in the top 6 PPR TEs.

D/ST: Arizona Cardinals ($1)

They have Patrick Peterson for INTs, return yardage, and TDs--and just signed sackmaster John Abraham.

There is only one other team that drafted 4 QBs, and they have Rodgers, Stafford, Cutler and Vick, half of which are pretty formidable--and they have Arian Foster as well--but after that, not much. Lacy, Dunbar (I guess they watched the HOF game) and Blount round out their RBs, and then they have Fitzgerald and a steaming pile at WR--ADobson, DHarris, Heyward-Bey, NWashington, DBaldwin, BGibson and RCooper. Finley and Fleener are his TEs--I'm not scared. Three other teams drafted 3 QBs, but they are similarly limited at their RB and WR positions. One starts out with Brees, Ryan and Luck, but has FJax, MBush, DThomas, DWoodhead, RBrown, RJennings and ERoyster behind McCoy at RB, with RStreater, MiFloyd, AJeffery, NBurleson and JWright backing up Cruz at WR. (At least they do have Gates and Graham at TE.) Another leads off with PManning, Roethlisberger and Manuel, but backs up Adrian Peterson and MJD with MIngram, KMoreno, DRobinson and Stephens-Howling at RB, and backs up AJ Green with DHopkins, JacJones, RWoods, SHolmes, MSanu, and DAvery at WR. Tyler Eifert is their only TE. Maybe the best 3 QB team starts with Kaepernick, Wilson and ASmith, with Forte, Ball, Bell, PThomas and LJames at RB, Marshall, Nicks, Decker, Garcon, MWilliams, SRice, BEdwards and BQuick at WR, but they have only FDavis and MLewis at TE. Close, maybe, but I still think no cigar.

Some might think that the points per rush attempt would warrant starting RBs in the Offensive Utility slots, but given that a RB is also the best option for the Flex position, I just can't see a RB4 or RB5 getting the rushing attempts that it would take to outscore a solid QB on a regular basis. Still, a couple of teams went for broke at RB--and then, that's about what they ended up--broke. One has Lynch, Rice, Martin and DWilson in the backfield (not to mention RWilliams, Mike Goodson, Justin Forsett and Cedric Benson), but their only 2 QBs are Freeman and Locker. At WR, they have everyone in Minnesota (Jennings, Patterson and Simpson), plus Kendall Wright, Andre Roberts, Stephen Hill and Davone Bess. Ed Dickson and Jake Ballard are their TEs. Another has Charles, Spiller, Richardson and Mathews at RB (as well as BPierce, JRandle, MReece, and TGerhart), but their only 2 QBs are--wait for it--Christian Ponder and Geno Smith. They have Austin, Hilton, Tate, Hartline, Broyles, Kerley and KAllen at WR, with Pettigrew and Housler at TE.

And now you probly know more than you ever wanted to know about a weird free public league, but if you're like the rest of the fantasy world, you're left shaking your head in amazement at how Axe Elf can dominate in any situation.

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