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Fantasy Football Draft Advice from Shawn Childs
2009 Scoring Gaps At Positions

Shawn ChildsAs the World Championship of Fantasy Football approaches, I thought I would take a look at the past few years and see some of the gaps at certain position. Every year the playing field changes. What works for one year might not work for the next. If you are caught playing the strategy that won last year, you might be in for a long year if your players don’t live up to your expectations. There are many ways to win in fantasy football. The key is finding a plan that will be consistent over time. Some players always wait on a QB. Others love running backs. And there a few who think wide receivers are the way to go. I personally think the inventory changes every year and a fantasy player should always be looking for players who give them an edge at a position.

Before I look at some of the past season, I wanted to think about how many points I need to score each week to have a chance at winning $300,000. As each year is different, I think 150+ points per week is the desired number heading into each season. Some years you might only need 145 points a week to make into the championship game, but I’d rather aim high.

Last year there wasn’t a huge edge at QB, but there was enough of an edge to warrant owning a Drew Brees type player.  There were only five QB’s that averaged over 20 points per game for a full season-Brees 23.27, Rodgers 21.85, Cutler 21.52, Phillip Rivers 21.12, and Kurt Warner 20.93. I think last year was a good season to wait on a QB. Brady was a bust. Manning was just average for a 12 team league and Romo missed three games.

In 2007, Tom Brady had nearly a 6 point gap on Tony Romo who was the second highest scoring QB. A Brady owner had a ten point edge on one third of the league. A team with a weak QB needed to beat a Brady team in three roster slot to overcome the loss at QB. This kind of edge doesn’t happen often, but I believe it is the best edge to have. The only other year that compared to Brady’s season was 2004 when Daunte Culpepper (27.47) and Peyton Manning (26.10) had a 6 to 7 point edge over most of the field at QB. In 2005, the difference from top QB to the 12th was less than 4 points. I think 2002 and 2003 were similar to 2005. The RT Sports site is only going back as far 2004 this year.

Going into the draft, I’m looking for a QB who can score 20 points per game. I don’t like flip flopping QB’s every week. So I tend to search for a quarterback and stick with him. If he has a bad year, chances are I didn’t switch quick enough to save my season.  If I think a QB has a chance to throw 30+ TD’s and 4500+ yards, I will take him early.

So the first piece to the 150 point puzzle is finding a top QB who can average 20 points per week.

The running back position has lost its luster the last couple of years. Last year only two running backs scored over 300 points for the season (Matt Forte and DeAngelo Williams). In 2007, Tomlinson and Westbrook had huge edges as they both averaged about 23 points per game.  Prior to 2007, it was common to see 6 to 8 running backs score over 300 points for the season. The special backs would approach 375 points for the season.  It’s hard to imagine that Tomlinson scored 480+ points for the 2006 season. I think this year is the first year in the high stakes arena where wide receivers are getting as much respect as running backs. Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, and MJD all look like special players, but will any of them score 350+ points this season? I could see this year being the return of the running back. I think there are 6 maybe 7 backs that could score 300+ points this season if they stay healthy.

The next piece to the puzzle is finding a top running back that can approach 300 points for the season (about 1800 yards, 50 passes, and 12 TD’s). After that, you need to add a second back that can score 15+ points per week or 1500 yards, 30 passes, and 10 TD’s. The goal for RB1 and RB2 is 33 points per week.

This year wide receivers are becoming more fashionable. Maybe the rest of the fantasy world is catching up to the trend of declining running backs. Either way an up year at quarterback position will mean an up year for the wide receivers. Every year there will be some wide receivers that have break out years. The running back guys will be searching for those players. Last year there were 10 receivers who scored over 250 points for the season and only 2 that scored over 300 points. Is it perception that receivers are more valuable or is it reality? In 2007, there were 10 that scored 280+ points and 6 that scored 300 points for the season (TJ Houshmandzadeh 299.70 was 6th). So last year the top 10 receiver actually declined, but they are getting drafted higher this year. It seems like most years that there are about 10 receivers who score 250+ points for the season and a couple score over 300. The 2004 season was the most interesting. It had 13 over 250, but the top 3 were Mushin Muhammad, Joe Horn, and Javon Walker.

The ideal situation for me would be one top wide out who could score about 17-18 points per game (90+ catches, 1300+ yards, and double digit TD’s). The second wide receiver would be in the 15-16 point range and the third would be about 14 points per game. If I could average over 45 points per week, I would have a solid receiving core.

After the QB, RB’s and WR’s, I’d hope I can score close to a 100 points per week. In order to be an elite team, I’ll need a strong flex player. I’m hoping for close to 15 points per game at the flex position.

I think the most frustrating position might be the tight end. Each year there seems like there are one or two tight ends that have great season and give their teams a big edge at that position. I think the tight end is a position you don’t want to get beat at. I think you need a consistent 10 points per week out of the position. In most seasons there are 6 to 8 that score 10 points per week. In 2006, there were 4 TE’s that score 14+ points per week. If you are weak at TE, it will most likely lead to losses with inconsistent scoring.

The last two positions are kicker and defense. These are two positions that are important. A solid kicker and defense can put you in position to win your league. In the WCOFF, a top defense will typically average 10 to 12 points per week. If you own a top defense, you might only have a small edge per week. In this game, you want every edge you can find. Last year no defense averaged over 10 points per week. I think you need 9 to 10 points per week from your defense. It sound easy, but it can be challenging if you get a few zeros and you start flip flopping defenses every other week.

Most seasons the top kickers will score less points that a top defense. It seems like each season only one kicker will average more than 10 points per week. Most kickers will score between 8 and 10 points per week. Between the kicker and defense, I think you need to score close to 20 points per week. It seems like an easy number to hit, but a bad defense or bad kicker can cost you a league title.

Even as I lay out a plan to score 150 points per week, I can see how hard it is to make that number. I think you need to hit on almost all of your first 8 picks and have enough depth to cover your bye weeks.

As I start planning for this season, I’ll try to find where I can get an edge at certain positions. The more edges I can find, the better chances I can have success.

Shawn Childs
World Championship of Fantasy Football - WCOFF Weekly Target



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