2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Decoding the Past

2012-08-02 21:18:14
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports

Stafford was difference maker

When it comes to drafting, the '12 season seems about as debatable as any. Many of the so-called experts this year are stating you need to act early on a quarterback. It isn't time to wait to grab a signal caller anymore. Others are saying getting one of the elite backs early is the only way to go this year. And we can't forget the other sentiment that going elite receiver is the way to winning your fantasy championship.

With that all said, we thought it would be a good time to examine last year before making a call on the coming season. Using the data from our money league games, below is a look at the players owned on the most championship teams on our site. Some of the data might be a bit surprising.

   NAME               PCT OWN
1. Kahlil Bell, RB	25%
2. Sammy Morris, RB	20%
3. M. Stafford, QB	18%
4. Wes Welker, WR	17%
   C. Johnson, WR	17%
6. Drew Brees, QB	15%
   Arian Foster, RB	15%
   Tom Brady, QB	15%
   Jimmy Graham, TE	15%
   D. Thomas, WR	15%
11. Roddy White, WR	13%
12. Darren Sproles, RB	12%
    R. Gronkowski, TE	12%
    Reggie Bush, RB	12%
    M. Lynch, RB	12%
    Victor Cruz, WR	12%
17. A. Bradshaw, RB	11%
    M. Jones-Drew, RB	11%
    Donald Driver, WR	11%
    Julio Jones, WR	11%
    Ray Rice, RB	11%
    B. Marshall, WR	11%
23. Evan Royster, RB	10%
    Ryan Mathews, RB	10%
    Cam Newton, QB	10%
    A. Hernandez, TE	10%
    Jordy Nelson, WR	10%
    C.J. Spiller, RB	10%
    Percy Harvin, WR	10%
    M. Colston, WR	10%
    LeSean McCoy, RB	10%

First off, you can throw out the first two guys on the list. Both Bell and Morris were one-week grabs for the championship games, which is why they were on so many rosters. So that leaves Stafford as the player owned on most of the championship teams. This isn't overly surprising if you consider he had an ADP of 85 (seventh-round pick). Stafford was near the top of all fantasy scoring and was taken later than many of the other top quarterbacks. He was great value for fantasy teams.

But this gets us back to the quarterback dilemma. What does this data tell us? Well, here is a look at the top five scoring quarterbacks last season with the percentage of championship teams that owned them.

RK NAME       PCT OWN
1. D. Brees	15%
2. Rodgers	9%
3. T. Brady	15%
4. Newton	10%
5. Stafford	18%

If you add that up, it means 67 percent of championship teams had a top-five scoring quarterback last season. That is a pretty high number if you consider all the options at quarterback. This could speak to the strategy of acting early on a quarterback this season. It made a big difference for fantasy teams last season and could be much of the same this year with the NFL so pass first.

But the big key is identifying those top scorers, which is no easy task. Brees, Rodgers and Brady were top five on about all draft boards last season but Newton and Stafford weren't. Guys like Michael Vick, Philip Rivers and Tony Romo were all drafted ahead of Newton and Stafford in 2011. As we all know, the preseason rankings don't always match up with the end of season rankings. But if you can identify and obtain a top-five quarterback, this data clearly shows you have a much better chance at winning your league.

Let's take a look at the top running backs now.

RK NAME       PCT OWN
1. Ray Rice	11%
2. McCoy	10%
3. Foster	15%
4. Jones-Drew	11%
5. Sproles	12%
6. Lynch	12%
7. Mathews	10%
8. Turner	5%
9. C. Johnson	5%
10. S. Jackson	9%

Rice led all backs in scoring and didn't finish first in most owned at running back but was a solid third. It was a little surprising to see McCoy not owned on more teams as he had a huge season, finishing right behind Rice but he still did well as third most owned at running back. Foster was the most owned of the group, which does make some sense as he missed a few games early in the year but still finished third in scoring. So he produced big numbers when playing and helped a ton of teams when championships with his big finish to the year.

This data does show having an elite back does make a difference but as you can see at the end of the top-10 scorers, two players were owned on just five percent of teams. So the running back spot remains a little top heavy. The elite guys make a big difference but there is a drop off from the top. Keep this in mind come draft day when trying to figure out what position to target early in your draft.

Now it is time to examine the receiver spot.

RK NAME       PCT OWN
1. C. Johnson	17%
2. Welker	17%
3. Cruz	        12%
4. Nelson	10%
5. R. White	13%
6. Harvin	10%
7. Fitzgerald	9%
8. S. Smith	8%
9. Wallace	7%
10. Colston	10%

With more leagues going PPR, including this league data, having a top-scoring receiver is almost a must for fantasy teams. And this data clearly shows that as the top two scorers at receiver (Calvin Johnson and Welker) finished tied for first in most owned by championship teams. If you had either Johnson or Welker last season, there was a good chance you did well in your league.

There wasn't a huge drop off between the third rated receiver and the 10th in terms of owned by winner, but you have to remember the position is very deep so these numbers are skewed some because of that. This league starts two receivers and a flex, which is normally a receiver. The position is deep with a lot of quality players that can serve as a No. 1. It still helps to get the cream of the crop, though, as evident by Johnson and Welker's high percentage.

And finally, a look at the tight end position.

RK NAME       PCT OWN
1. Gronkowski	12%
2. Graham	15%
3. Hernandez	10%
4. Gonzalez	8%
5. Witten	6%

This might have been the most surprising data of the group. You would have thought with the huge, monster seasons both Gronkowski and Graham had at a pretty thin position that the percentage owned by champions would be very high, especially if you consider you start just one tight end. But kind of by surprise, Gronkowski wasn't even first overall in percentage owned despite leading tight ends in scoring. Graham finished three percentage points higher than Gronk. And just three tight ends in all were owned by at least 10 percent of champions. So a lot of championship teams won their leagues will all sorts of combinations at tight end.

The tight end spot isn't a throwaway position anymore but using an early pick on the top guys can make a difference for fantasy teams. While the numbers of Gronkowski and Graham weren't off the charts for percentage owned by winners, they were still very good. They were top 12 overall, which means they were on a lot of championship teams. There is a reason both these guys will go in the first or second round of drafts this season. But after the elite guys, it seems a good idea to wait to grab your starting tight end. Don't reach too early after the top guys are gone.

In closing, what the heck does all this data mean? Well, for us, it still means you must draft well and identify the breakout players and good values. That means as much as anything. But this data also shows that getting the best of the best at any of the positions is almost essential to winning a championship. You can't have guys at the top of all the positions, but getting one or two of the top scorers likely gets you a ton of wins. This isn't shocking news by any means but we think it shows that all the key positions carry value and none are positions you can ignore anymore. The top guys at any of the spots can lead you to a fantasy championship.

We don't think there is a set in stone strategy for winning (i.e. drafting a QB first), but getting a top-level, elite player at a position or two seems the way to go. So if you are picking at the end of the first round and all the elite running backs and quarterbacks are gone, feel free targeting that top receiver with your first pick and follow that up with an elite tight end. That seems the way to go to building a championship team. You can't ignore position runs but don't reach for a position too soon if you can get elite players at other positions.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Jeff Paur at jeff@rtsports.com

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Giovani BernardOct 31 11:12a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) is unlikely to play in Week 9.

Trent RichardsonOct 31 10:32a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is not on the injury report for Week 9, and should be able to play Monday, Nov. 3.

Rashad JenningsOct 31 10:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) is aiming to return for the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Ronnie HillmanOct 31 09:12a

Updating previous reports, Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) is expected to have his normal workload in Week 9, despite his limited practice repetitions.

DeAngelo HallOct 31 08:52a

Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall (Achilles') tore his Achilles' again at home and had surgery to repair it Thursday, Oct. 30.

Ron JohnsonOct 30 08:22p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (back), DE Michael Bennett (toe), C Stephen Schilling (knee), CB Tharold Simon (knee), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), LB Malcolm Smith (groin), DT Jordan Hill [ More ]

Patrick WillisOct 30 07:52p

San Francisco 49res CB Tramaine Brock (toe) and LB Patrick Willis (toe) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and CB Chris Culliver (hamstring) practiced in full.

Chris MatthewsOct 30 07:42p

The Seattle Seahawks re-signed WR Chris Matthews and TE Brett Brackett to their practice squad Thursday, Oct. 30.

Scott WellsOct 30 07:42p

St. Louis Rams OG Rodger Saffold (shoulder), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), DT Aaron Donald (shoulder) and S Cody Davis (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Rodney McLeod [ More ]

Luke JoeckelOct 30 07:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars OT Luke Joeckel (concussion) has recovered nicely from the concussion he suffered in Week 8, and he could play in Week 9 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joeckel [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

Arian FosterOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (knee) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Johnathan JosephOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans LBs Brian Cushing (knee), Brooks Reed (groin) and Jeff Tarpinian (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. RB Alfred Blue (ankle), LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), CB Johnathan [ More ]

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Justin TuckOct 30 06:42p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin), CB Carlos Rogers (knee) and WR Kenbrell Thompkins (non-injury) did not [ More ]

Anthony CollinsOct 30 06:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Anthony Collins (foot) and LB Brandon Magee (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and DE Michael Johnson (hand) were limited.

Brian RobisonOct 30 06:32p

Minnesota Vikings DT Shariff Floyd (ankle, knee), TE Chase Ford (foot), CB Jabari Price (hamstring), CB Josh Robinson (ankle) and DE Brian Robison (glute) were limited in practice Thursday, [ More ]

Louis VasquezOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos S Quinton Carter (hamstring) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Lamin Barrow (concussion), TE Virgil Green (calf), LB Steven Johnson (ankle) and OG Louis Vasquez (illness) [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) was limited in practice for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

Billy WinnOct 30 06:22p

Cleveland Browns WR Rodney Smith (hamstring) and DE Phil Taylor (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DE Desmond Bryant (wrist), S Jim Leonhard (ankle), LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder), [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Chris JohnsonOct 30 06:12p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson, who carried the ball just three times for seven yards in Week 8, said he's frustrated with his limited role in the offense. [ More ]

Tom CrabtreeOct 30 06:02p

The New Orleans Saints waived TE Tom Crabtree Thursday, Oct. 30.

Patrick PetersonOct 30 05:42p

Arizona Cardinals S Tony Jefferson (head) and TE Troy Niklas (ankle) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DE Calais Campbell (knee), LB Kenny Demens (knee), S Rashad Johnson [ More ]

Cyrus GrayOct 30 05:22p

Kansas City Chiefs CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring) and LB Josh Martin (hamstring, knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Eric Berry (ankle) and CB Christopher Owens (knee) were [ More ]

Demario DavisOct 30 05:22p

New York Jets CB Darrin Walls (calf, knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OT Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Phillip Adams (groin), LB Antwan Barnes (knee), OG Willie Colon [ More ]

Keenan RobinsonOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins S Ryan Clark (ankle, shoulder) and OT Trent Williams (knee) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Ryan Kerrigan (wrist), LB Trent Murphy (knee), CB Tracy [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) practiced in full for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

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Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) will start against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9, barring any setbacks this week in practice, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Mike PounceyOct 30 05:02p

Miami Dolphins OG Daryn Colledge (illness, back) LB Chris McCain (foot) and TE Dion Sims (toe) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Nate Garner (neck), LB Koa Misi [ More ]

Andre BranchOct 30 04:42p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Will Blackmon (finger), DE Andre Branch (groin), DE Chris Clemons (non-injury), LB Geno Hayes (non-injury) and DT Roy Miller (non-injury) didn't practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB [ More ]

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