Thursday, July 18, 2013

National Friday League: The Team Team

The Team Team is something I've always been curious about, but have never been willing to risk an entire season on it. It would be very difficult and in many cases impossible to pull it off in a snake draft, but it could be done in an auction (which is why I've never experimented with it: my auction league is my most serious league. Like, we have a written constitution serious). You see a team that you'd project to be a dynamite offensive powerhouse. You look at that team and it's not just a QB spreading it around to everybody, but that there are elite fantasy performers at most positions. What would happen if you just drafted all of them? You could get the team's elite QB, elite two WRs, elite TE, and elite RB, leaving you room to pick another starting RB from another team, and if your league lineup allows it, a third WR from another team (or a flex). Would this be wise? And since you expect the offense to be good, why not just go ahead and get that team's kicker too?

You know you're writing off one week for the bye; in a head to head league, that's probably OK (in a truly awesome league with cross country scoring, it might be a problem). If that team has one particularly awful week, or has a few games against a dominating defense and gets itself a more mundane 20-23 points, you're probably in trouble. But on the whole, could you do it?

There are a few possible team teams this year. I'm leaving out some teams that will be great offenses, but who may lack the total fantasy starters and they'll spread it around so much (the Patriots and Saints).

QB: Matt Ryan
RB: Steven Jackson
WR: Julio Jones
WR: Roddy White
TE: Tony Gonzalez
K: Falcon Kicker*
Choose RB, WR from another team

QB: Peyton Manning
RB: Montee Ball/Ronnie Hillman
WR: Wes Welker
WR: Demaryius Thomas
WR: Eric Decker
K: Bronco Kicker*
Choose RB, TE from another team

QB: Tony Romo
RB: DeMarco Murray
WR: Dez Bryant
WR: Miles Austin
TE: Jason Witten
K: Cowboy Kicker*
Choose RB, WR from another team

Let's say you went in a slightly different direction, and said "I'm going to get the entire Bronco passing game." You don't need to wander into the Denver running back morass; you just want all the passing stats. I don't want anything to do with Bronco WRs this year: I think all three will have fine season totals, but week to week there will be at least one of them who gets skunked. But if you don't want to deal with the off weeks, why not get them all? Manning is going to end up with amazing season totals, and his 35ish or more TDs are going to go mostly to those three guys. That's a pretty nice fantasy season, and you can go find RBs somewhere else.

Here's another direction you could go: let's say you expect the Patriots to continue to be a great offense, but you don't know who Brady is going to throw to consistently, and just don't see many fantasy starters in the passing game. What if you drafted Brady and Stevan Ridley? With few exceptions, you're getting all the Patriots' offensive touchdowns, and it seems there will be a lot of Patriot touchdowns. If you really wanted to, you could get the Patriot kicker to add a point to each of their TDs, get the FG when they miss out on a TD, and still get that one point on the few occasions Brady or Ridley aren't involved in the TD. With this approach, there is a much smaller investment in one team, and it's an approach you could pull of in some snake drafts.

With this approach, what are some of the elite fantasy QB/RB combos? These are combos that you could reasonably expect to combine for 40-45 TDs.

New England (Tom Brady and Stevan Ridley)
Atlanta (Matt Ryan and Steven Jackson)
Washington (Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris)
Seattle (Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch)

If you looked at these teams, Seattle seems to have the most going for a dominant offensive season in 2013. You could do a lot worse than nabbing Wilson and Lynch and getting all the Seahawk TDs (Seattle had 43 rushing and receiving TDs last season, with just one rushing TD and one passing TD coming from anybody else--though Percy Harvin may rush for a few this season).

Is it worth it? In a snake draft this year, I might try it to see how it goes (it's not like I'd be risking a lot to draft, say, Brady and Ridley). In an auction, I wouldn't make an effort to pursue a QB/RB combo, but if the price was right, I wouldn't feel too bad about it either.

*I don't learn each team's kicker's name until much, much closer to the season. One thing that irrationally infuriates me is that some chocolate bars are labeled "dark chocolate" even though milk is one of the ingredients. Chocolate works on its own; if you put milk in it, it's now milk chocolate! Don't call your milk chocolate dark chocolate! Another thing that irrationally infuriates me is when fantasy magazines rank kickers and give you that kicker's stats from the previous season, even if that kicker is now on a new team. Those stats are absolutely, utterly, completely worthless. Kicker points are about opportunity: how many field goals and extra points a kicker had on his previous team is supremely irrelevant to what opportunities he'll have on his new team. Fantasy magazines should just provide each team's kicking points from the previous year: how many field goals, field goal attempts, and extra points the team had. Of course kicker is a position to prioritize lowest during a draft, but to the extent you're going to put thought into the kicker you take, you are taking that kicker based on the team situation, not the kicker's history with a different team. That's why in my long-running league we draft team kickers: you don't have to know the name of the kicker, you just get the rights to whomever the team picks up to kick.


  1. I came close to attempting a clean sweep of New Orleans several years ago in one of my leagues having practiced it in several mock drafts (snake), but I decided against it when significant value fell to me early enough that it seemed profitable to abandon my plan.

    I can't help but wonder if Atlanta wins it all this year. The story for Gonzalez, Steven Jackson and Roddy White would all be great headlines. I'd be nervous about that rapidly closing window if I were a Falcons fan.

  2. I've had good success going with a two team team. In other words, I get a QB and some parts from two teams and then I just play match ups.

  3. I had a football site I like rate my fantasy team of all Vikings, just for fun. Results below.

    Obviously, Adrian Peterson is a great way to anchor any RB group. We've got him ranked #1 at the position, and by our reckoning he gives you about a 2.9 point advantage over an average team in the first RB slot.

    We have Christian Ponder rated #28 among quarterbacks, so we're not even sold on him as a fantasy starter in your league. We strongly recommend that you add a backup QB

    We see all your starters at receiver as below average. Greg Jennings is our #30 ranked receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson is #69, and we have Jerome Simpson 93rd.

    Some of our staffers have Greg Jennings as high as #14. Jeff Tefertiller's take: "The ex-Packer will be the focal point of the pass offense. He is a star and will see 100+ targets. The presence of Peterson will open up the field for the passing game. "

    Some of our staffers have Cordarrelle Patterson as high as #43. Jeff Pasquino's take: "Cordarrelle Patterson was the first round selection (29th overall) by the Minnesota Vikings, a team in great need of playmakers in the receiving game after trading away Percy Harvin to Seattle. Patterson has a shot to start right away opposite of free agent signee Greg Jennings, and if things break just right for Patterson, he should see the field early and often with very little depth at wide receiver in Minnesota. Now Patterson needs for Christian Ponder to continue to develop as a quarterback to increase Patterson's upside. The addition of Jennings should be great for Patterson, as the veteran can both mentor him and also draw coverage away from the young prospect."

    Some members of our staff have Jarius Wright ranked as high as 54th. Heath Cummings defends his high ranking as follows: "The Vikings will look to Wright to fill the shoes of Percy Harvin as a hybrid type player that can turn Christian Ponder's three yard passes into decent chunks. Wright's performance after taking over Harvin puts him in a WR4 slot, which is a safe projection for 2013."

    Kyle Rudolph, who we have ranked #11, is below average but probably adequate as a starting tight end. You might get by with only Rudolph, but some additional help here probably wouldn't hurt.

    Some of our staffers have Kyle Rudolph as high as #4, which would make him an above average first tight end. Chad Parsons's take: "Rudolph has been a major red zone factor through two seasons, converting a Gronkowski-like 11-of-19 targets into touchdowns. With the additions of Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, Rudolph may need to match his nine touchdowns from a year ago to be an upper-tier tight end option. "

    Blair Walsh, our 11th ranked kicker, is below average but probably adequate.

    When you don't have an elite defense, one option is a committee approach. That is, try to get two cheap defenses whose schedules fit well together. Here are a few teams who we think may be available and whose schedules fit best with the Vikings': Giants, Rams, Browns

  4. Peter:

    I'm not big on fantasy football but that was an interesting little read there. I think Cummngs take on Wright is spot on. Thanks for sending that along.

    1. It's fun to hear fantasy opinions on Vikings players - it's coming from people who know the stats and are typically familiar with the skill position players of all 32 teams. It's subjective, su8re, but there's not much homerism in the opinions.