Fantasy files: The art of roster construction

The art of roster construction

As of this moment, I am not in any active fantasy drafts. I hope this is the last time I can say this until late August. When Brian (he of great rants and quality beer takes) offered an opening in a league, I couldn’t pass it up. Everyone who joined did so because we like Brian and we like playing in leagues. To be honest, the actual shape of the league didn’t become clear until we had the draft order settled and we’re still working out whether there will be money on the league and whether it’s going to be a best ball.

Hello, I like booze

Honestly, I joined because of the name

Note to everyone: Best-ball leagues are going to be more popular than ever this year because (a) not making that horrible lineup decision each week will avoid heart attacks and (b) more brain cells can be spared for DFS.

The more flexible a league’s starting lineup, the more flexible you can be with roster construction. It’s been a very long time since I had a rigid draft strategy, and that’s probably why I’m trying to dip into as many leagues as possible. Brian set up the league as follows:

Total starters: 12
starting QBs: 1-2
starting RBs: 2-5
starting WRs: 2-6
starting TEs: 1-4
starting team D: 1

Seeing as I haven’t been a big math guy since barely passing calculus as a high school senior, the one thing that stands out is that I’ll have to start at least three RBs or WRs every week. Other than that, the possibility of two starting QBs jumps out.

Quarterbacks get the girl and they score more fantasy points than anyone else. Therefore, it’s a mortal lock to get two good ones. Or is it? If everyone’s jumping on QBs, you’ll be able to lock down some quality talent at other positions. Also the ability to start up to four tight ends means you can jump all over that position or play the late round game.

Let’s look at some of the roster-construction decisions made by some of the teams. I’ll link to the league’s draft page and roster page so you can play along:

Brian: He stated on Twitter that he had a plan as to which position he’d draft each round. He went with the “crazy like a fox” strategery of taking three quarterbacks in four rounds. That means he has one top-four draft pick guaranteed not to start for him every week. It also creates scarcity, as the math is pretty straightforward if 12 teams need to roster three starting NFL QBs. The result is he’ll be scraping the bottom of the barrel for running backs (current starters are CJ Spiller and Doug Martin), although I like his taking of five TEs.

Rummy: This is a Late Round QB-approved roster. The Rumminator slammed RB early with ADP/DeMarco/Justin in the first three rounds. By the time he took Alex Smith in the 9th, he had four WRs and the three RBs, a solid foundation. An Eifert/Daniels/Chandler/Tamme TE foursome screams best ball.

Brad: Another LRQB guy, although he rostered four guys, Flacco/RGIII/Manziel/McCown. It’s a 22-round draft, so you can wait until really late to fill in those backup RB/WR positions as Brad grabbed Cameron/Hill/Donnell in the 8th/10th/13th rounds.

Greg: He went QB/TE at the 3/4 turn, and because of that will look to rookies like Jay Ajayi, DGB and David Johnson to contribute. Greg was the early team D guy, taking the Bills in the 14th and the Jets in the 16th.

Matt (kidrob21): Gronk at 1.01 is going strong to the hole. He waited until the 5th to take a QB and had three by the 9th. In a draft this deep, it’s not as costly to handcuff as he went with Ridley/Ivory at the 12/13 turn, and he even pulled off the rare WR handcuff with Martavis Bryant and Sammie Coates.

Drew (urban_achieving): A lot of guys gave up on the hold-your-breath QB waiting contest around the fourth round. I think we like the name Mallett more than Hoyer which is why the former is being drafted higher. Drew took a few guys about ten rounds below their 2014 ADP, going with long-shots like Cordarrelle Patterson, Christine Michael, Michael Crabtree and Jordan Reed.

Tyson: Is this the only five-QB roster? I think it is, although he did take two fliers in EJ Manuel and Jimmy Garoppolo in the 21st and 22nd rounds. I’d rather blame the best-ball machine for making me start Mariota and Bortles every week. Tyson likes ’em young as he drafted 10 rookies out of 22 picks.

Mike (Drdynasty80): This is how you wait on QB, going with Palmer in the 7th and Geno in the 11th. Mike’s leaning toward the high number of RB starters since he drafted nine and the low end of TE starters since he has two.

Franchise 9: Not everyone gets a name, so he must be part of the Unsullied. Aaron Rodgers in the first round meant a lot of shots at mid- to late-round RBs. That’s nine RBs, six WRs, two TEs one of whom is Robert Housler and I’m starting to get dizzy.

Zack (zman68): Then there’s the “draft Luck in the 1st and Brees in the 4th” method. He did the zero-ish RB theory, grabbing three from the 5th to 7th rounds. Drafting two Rams’ WRs (Britt and Austin), now that takes stones.

Ka Boom!: Three RBs in the first four rounds means saving a couple of scraps for later. He took Peyton and Tannehill early and went with Dalton/Foles late. I’ve seen 20-round drafts in which Dalton is not taken so seeing him go in the 8th round means this is a QB-crazy format. If you hold off on WR, then take them four out of five rounds between 6.10 and 10.10.

Me: I went a bit bonkers, taking four straight WRs from the 11 slot. I didn’t know if this league was real/mock/best ball so I took an unusual strategy. I couldn’t hold my breath forever so I took Teddy and Jay early and filled in with Sanchez and Cassel spackle. I’d probably prefer best ball since I picked Tre Mason and DeAngelo Williams, two guys who may be out of jobs by October. I took my TEs late, in the 9th (Allen), Rudolph (14th) and 18th (Amaro). I also took the MFL10 strategy of three defenses, which I saw once on RotoViz so if it blows up it’s Todd’s fault.

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