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Drafting high-upside guys at the onesie positions (1 Viewer)

zftcg

Footballguy
I have a theory that I've never actually tried in drafts, but have been thinking about implementing this year.

I'm generally in favor of streaming QBs, DSTs and kickers (less so TEs, mostly because of the agita from trying to guess TE performance). In the case of Ds and Ks, unless I truly hit the jackpot (Jags D, Zuerlein last year before his injury) it's easy to avoid getting too attached to any one player. If the Rams are doing well for me and then they have a couple bad weeks, I'll just drop them.

With QBs, though, it can be a little harder. Let's say you someone like Rivers, Stafford or Alex Smith as your QB, and they're middling along as a low-end QB1. You might be able to get better performance from streaming (I believe the Living the Stream guys last year said that if you had followed their weekly recs you would have had the QB6), but it's going to be really hard to drop someone like Stafford, knowing he will almost certainly get snapped up right away.

So what I've been thinking about is ignoring the solid low-ceiling guys and rolling the dice on later-round guys who are riskier but could have upside: Mahomes, Mariota, Trubisky. The thought is that if they don't pan out, it will be easy to drop them, and I'll have my antennae more attuned to guys who emerge on the WW the way Watson and Goff did last year.

Like I said, TE is a different animal, but I've found myself targeting Reed and Eifert in later rounds, the feeling being that if they get injured I can just move on (though I suppose there is the risk that they get nagging injuries that limit their effectiveness but don't actually put them on IR). I actually implemented this strategy by accident last year, drafting Eifert and then snagging Engram when he got hurt. If I had been relying on a "safer" option like Delanie Walker, I might not have been looking for Engram on the wire.

Anyway, haven't thought this all the way through, but curious if anyone else has tried this approach.

 

TheWinz

Footballguy
Currently on fantasy football calculator, here are the ADP's for a 12-team redraft PPR league:

2.11 - Gronk, 3.6 - Kelce, 4.3 - Ertz, 5.6 - Graham, 5.10 - Olsen, 6.6 - Engram, 7.2 - Rudolph, 7.3 - Walker, 8.4 - Reed, 8.10 - Burton, Doyle and Kittle in the 10th, Njoku in the 11th, Eifert in the 12th, and the rest in the 14th or undrafted.  For the top studs here, your draft position plays the biggest factor in whether or not they will be on your team.  For example, if you draft from the 12 spot and you want Gronk, you have to reach for him at 2.1, because he won't make it back to you at 3.12.  With Reed's ADP at 8.10, you may have to reach for him at 8.1, if you draft from the 12 spot, as he may be gone at 9.12.  For the record, I also like Reed, and he ends up on my team in lots of mocks.  He is a stud when healthy, and will outplay his ADP, UNTIL he goes down.

 

wlwiles

Footballguy
zftcg said:
The thought is that if they don't pan out, it will be easy to drop them, and I'll have my antennae more attuned to guys who emerge on the WW the way Watson and Goff did last year.
I think there's a fine line to walk between streaming/hawking the waiver wire, and being overly reliant on the wire to keep you competitive.  If your plan is to draft Rivers and stream him/Smith most weeks with the intention of keeping an eye on the wire for the next Watson, then you have to be ok with missing out on them because of waiver priority, or your hesitation based on sample size, or whatever else may happen. 

I like the idea, but its going to be hard to pull off picking up the next Watson, and stream defenses, and take a flier on whatever waiver RB is making noise, and pick up a kicker to cover bye, etc. etc. if you're going to be waiver priority dependent all year.  If the rest of your league is lazy or ignores the wire more than normal then your odds increase obviously.   

 

Hu-Tang Clan

Footballguy
I think there's a fine line to walk between streaming/hawking the waiver wire, and being overly reliant on the wire to keep you competitive.  If your plan is to draft Rivers and stream him/Smith most weeks with the intention of keeping an eye on the wire for the next Watson, then you have to be ok with missing out on them because of waiver priority, or your hesitation based on sample size, or whatever else may happen. 

I like the idea, but its going to be hard to pull off picking up the next Watson, and stream defenses, and take a flier on whatever waiver RB is making noise, and pick up a kicker to cover bye, etc. etc. if you're going to be waiver priority dependent all year.  If the rest of your league is lazy or ignores the wire more than normal then your odds increase obviously.   
Unless you have FAAB instead of archaic waiver priority.

 

zftcg

Footballguy
I think there's a fine line to walk between streaming/hawking the waiver wire, and being overly reliant on the wire to keep you competitive.  If your plan is to draft Rivers and stream him/Smith most weeks with the intention of keeping an eye on the wire for the next Watson, then you have to be ok with missing out on them because of waiver priority, or your hesitation based on sample size, or whatever else may happen. 

I like the idea, but its going to be hard to pull off picking up the next Watson, and stream defenses, and take a flier on whatever waiver RB is making noise, and pick up a kicker to cover bye, etc. etc. if you're going to be waiver priority dependent all year.  If the rest of your league is lazy or ignores the wire more than normal then your odds increase obviously.   
Well, that's really a debate about the efficacy of streaming in general. I should point out that on the Living the Stream podcast, they frequently say that the whole point of streaming is that you shouldn't be using top waiver priorities/huge FAAB bids on streamers; the surplus at onesie positions means there is cheap value.

My personal experience playing in a 16-team league that used priority was that the streaming options were somewhat limited but I could usually get something decent, especially if I planned a week or two ahead. But a lot of that had to do with what I was talking about in the OP: "brand name" QBs were typically over-owned -- guys like Flacco or Eli were inevitably drafted as backups and stashed on less-sharky owners' rosters all season -- while the rest of us would keep an eye out for the emergent guys like Watson or Goff.

 
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zftcg

Footballguy
Thinking about this topic some more, here is what I think it boils down to: Guys like Stafford, Rivers, Smith, etc seem to be high-floor, low-ceiling guys. They'll probably end up as low-end QB1s, but they're unlikely to vault themselves into the Top 5. However, once you draft them, chances are you'll be stuck with them. They're too good to release to the WW, and you'll be unlikely to get a ton of value for them in a trade because they don't excite anyone.

Meanwhile, if you take a flier on someone like Mahomes, Darnold, etc, you theoretically get more upside. And while there is obviously a lot more downside as well, that's not such a big deal because if they suck it's much easier to drop them and revert to streaming, which gives you a good chance at low-end QB1 production ... exactly what you would have gotten from the established veterans.

Potential holes in this theory:

  • The Matt Ryan exception: Established vet with a track record of low-end QB1 (or worse) performances who suddenly blew up into the overall QB2 in 2016. Anything can happen, but based on track record I don't think it's very likely
  • How much upside is there really in the rookies? I can think of rookie QBs who blew up (Watson, RG3, Cam), but even the ones who do well will probably be inconsistent. I do think that when targeting potential breakouts it's probably better to focus on guys with running ability, since that gives them more of a floor
  • Can you play the wire effectively? I do think that if you have a larger league and/or if there are lots of other owners also streaming, it can be trickier. But I still think streaming will need to get much more popular before it loses its effectiveness.
 

Pwingles

Footballguy
Thinking about this topic some more, here is what I think it boils down to: Guys like Stafford, Rivers, Smith, etc seem to be high-floor, low-ceiling guys. They'll probably end up as low-end QB1s, but they're unlikely to vault themselves into the Top 5. However, once you draft them, chances are you'll be stuck with them. They're too good to release to the WW, and you'll be unlikely to get a ton of value for them in a trade because they don't excite anyone.

Meanwhile, if you take a flier on someone like Mahomes, Darnold, etc, you theoretically get more upside. And while there is obviously a lot more downside as well, that's not such a big deal because if they suck it's much easier to drop them and revert to streaming, which gives you a good chance at low-end QB1 production ... exactly what you would have gotten from the established veterans.

Potential holes in this theory:

  • The Matt Ryan exception: Established vet with a track record of low-end QB1 (or worse) performances who suddenly blew up into the overall QB2 in 2016. Anything can happen, but based on track record I don't think it's very likely
  • How much upside is there really in the rookies? I can think of rookie QBs who blew up (Watson, RG3, Cam), but even the ones who do well will probably be inconsistent. I do think that when targeting potential breakouts it's probably better to focus on guys with running ability, since that gives them more of a floor
  • Can you play the wire effectively? I do think that if you have a larger league and/or if there are lots of other owners also streaming, it can be trickier. But I still think streaming will need to get much more popular before it loses its effectiveness.
Well, yes and no.

You already stated the obvious about guys like stafford and rivers. They are low end qb1's. If dropped they will likely get picked up. This works the same when you just don't draft them...Someone else will, and now you have to rely on their mistake, and some good fortune depending on how your wire works, to get a streamable qb.

So you can't bypass guys like the examples you gave, in favor of dart throws, and then simply get one back. You run the risk of not having that option again. At least options with the floor and upside that guys like Rivers, Ryan, and Stafford have. You will just be moving on to the next dart throw and praying for upside, which is not the same as streaming.

 

zftcg

Footballguy
Well, yes and no.

You already stated the obvious about guys like stafford and rivers. They are low end qb1's. If dropped they will likely get picked up. This works the same when you just don't draft them...Someone else will, and now you have to rely on their mistake, and some good fortune depending on how your wire works, to get a streamable qb.

So you can't bypass guys like the examples you gave, in favor of dart throws, and then simply get one back. You run the risk of not having that option again. At least options with the floor and upside that guys like Rivers, Ryan, and Stafford have. You will just be moving on to the next dart throw and praying for upside, which is not the same as streaming.
The idea behind streaming is not that you use low-end QB1s to get low-end QB1 production. It's that you play the match-ups with QB2s and 3s to manufacture low-end QB1 production. We don't really know who will be the good streaming candidates for this year -- if we did, they'd probably be drafted. But looking at last year, it was guys like Bortles, Goff, Jimmy G, Siemian, Kizer, Hundley, Foles, etc. If you rode any of them for a full season you'd be screwed. But if you are able to deploy them strategically, you can extract value.

That's the theory at least. In one league last year where I drafted Luck and Palmer, I cycled through Siemian and Tyrod and by the end of the season I settled on Bortles for my playoff run, which led to a championship. In my other league I grabbed Foles after Wentz went down and ... well ... it was good for one week.

 

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