“Words of Ingram”: Adaptation and Prized Picks
Welcome back faithful followers, though I suppose you’ve been following my rankings each week thus negating the “welcome back,” to the latest edition of “Words of Ingram!” It feels like forever since I’ve had a heart to heart with my readers, as I’ve spent the past six weeks churning out rankings. Rankings are a lot of fun, but ultimately I get a greater enjoyment out of just letting my fingers moved as if possessed by some sort of typing demon. Does that exist? Should I google, “typing demon”? Good says “No sir, there is no such thing as a typing demon.” Anyway, there is something very rewarding to putting pen to paper, or finger to keys, and simply expressing my thoughts on the wonderful world of fantasy football. What is exactly flows through my mind on these cool autumn evenings? It’s funny you should ask…
Mid-August continues to be the most enjoyable time for any fantasy enthusiast. Rankings have been released on multiple news sites, pre-season games are starting, and mock drafts are firing off at record-setting numbers! There is a chance I completely fabricated the last portion of the previous sentence, but it adds enough dramatic flair to the statement that I refuse to edit! IT STAYS!
Mock drafting is one of the most important aspects of any fantasy season, and if you’re not firing off mock drafts regularly, START DOING IT IMMEDIATELY. No, literally stop reading, open up your fantasy app of choice, and fire off a mock draft. Once you’ve completed, come back and finish reading these words.
There are two very valuable things to ascertain from mock drafts: ADP and Adaptation. I assume that the vast majority of readers have a strong fundamental understanding of ADP. If you’re newer, allow me to give a quick overview. ADP is exactly what it claims to be, the average draft position of a player. The ADP gives a great overview of where a player is being taken. This allows you to formulate strategies based on statistical trends. For example, Dennis Pitta has an ADP of 100 (which essentially means the 10th round of a 10 team league), so if you want Pitta, you can mostly take comfort in knowing that he’ll be available in the 10th round. It also is an indicator that, Dennis Pitta is being drafted on average in the 10th round, so if I really want him maybe I should take him in the 9th. This is incredibly vital as it allows you to adopt a strategy and adapt to changes taking place during a draft.
Take any major provider of fantasy sports, and you’ll see the set rankings when drafting or mock drafting. These rankings were created at a set date and time, and sometimes will not change as ADP adjusts during the off-season. There is huge value towards looking at the results of your mock drafts and having a broader understanding of where a player is being taken. Thus, you will be able to create or estimate your own ADP. This is incredibly important, as it leads into the second biggest value to mock drafts, and that is adaptation.
Adaptation is the single most important skill to have as a fantasy player (luck is not a skill)! Mock drafts will allow you to adapt to the ever-changing environment during a draft. There is something to be said for running four mock drafts at the number 7 spot. By running multiple drafts in the same position, it will allow you to see which players generally are available regardless of your strategy and give you a level of comfort that is invaluable on draft day. It’s very easy to take the next best available, when the clock is ticking, in the 7th round and you’re not quite sure whether to trust your gut, or trust the ranking. The more you mock draft, the more you’ll learn to adapt to having your sleeper taken one spot before your pick, and you will feel loads more comfortable on the big day.
The final fun thing about mock drafts, is it really allows you to hone in on the players you like. I’ve found that, regardless of my draft position, I still find myself targeting specific players. Some of these players may be incredibly obvious, while others not so much. I wanted to share a few of these players, as well as my reasoning for the love, in hopes that you too will find these gems when drafting.
Robert Griffin III (WAS) – I’ve been happily drafting RG3, in most 10 team standard leagues, in the 7th or 8th round. I’m a big advocate of drafting QB’s late in 2014, and an even bigger advocate of RG3. Griffin was slightly unremarkable last season, though he had a multitude of issues working against him. He had a knee brace which was a physical and psychological disadvantage, a coach whom he didn’t see eye to eye with, and a level of expectation he could not meet. The popular selling point of RG3 is the addition of Jay Gruden. Jay Gruden loves to throw the ball which, coincidentally, is something RG3 has been very vocal about in the off-season. You see, Griffin x3 doesn’t want to be a scrambling quarterback. He sees himself as a drop back passer and wants to prove that it’s not all about his legs. He has even expressed his desire for a reduction of the read option is the Redskins offensive schemes. Now, whether that will happen or not is another story, but Gruden has expressed he wants RG3 to “Be himself.” This can only mean good things for a healthy RG3, as he will have the freedom he’s always wanted. Finally, look at what Gruden did with Andy Dalton. Nuff said!
Frank Gore (SF) – Each season, the professional fantasy analysts predict a regression in Frank Gore and each season Gore seems to defy all odds and post 1000 yard/8+ TD seasons. Gore currently has an ADP of 40 putting him late 4th early 5th round. I think he’s being a bit under-valued considering the team wants a strong emphasis on the running game. When drafting Gore, you’re looking for your second start RB and need to consider the other options in his draft range. CJ Spiller, Ben Tate, Ryan Mathews are all players being drafted in similar spots. When drafting your #2 RB, I tend to go towards the safer of options. Gore is healthy (Spiller/Mathews/Tate), consistent (Mathews/Spiller) and the featured back in the system (Spiller/Mathews). This gives him a clear-cut advantage over the other options. Plus, he plays behind a tremendously talented offensive line! Please note, if you’re drafting Frank Gore you’ll need to reach for Carlos Hyde. Hyde is the clear-cut handcuff to Gore, and for a team with aspirations of the Super Bowl; they may reduce some of Gore’s carries and give them to Carlos Hyde. Hyde, as a final note, was widely considered the best RB in the draft, so it’s unfortunate to see him relegated to an immediate back-up role. Regardless, until Gore fails to produce, I will continue to advocate his addition to your fantasy roster.
Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN) – I love, love, love Patterson this year. This is a player who had an amazing finish to his rookie season, posting games with 20, 10, 11, and 20 points respectively. In terms of special teams, Patterson is already being hailed as the second coming of Devin Hester, “but with more football ability.” Patterson will be heavily featured in the offensive scheming in Minnesota, and one of Norv Turner’s first actions was to develop a number of special plays specifically for the aforementioned receiver. What’s shocking to me is the current ADP of Patterson (70.2). This is an elite level talent being drafted in the 7th round!? As the great Nate Ravitz would say, that is simply woa crazy crazy. Here are some players being taken before Patterson: Victor Cruz, Percy Harvin, TY Hilton, and Torrey Smith. Let me give you a guarantee: Cordarrelle Patterson will grossly outscore the players I just listed. This is a player you should absolutely reach for, as he is truly a unique talent. Draft him, draft him, draft him!
Brandin Cooks (NO) – I guess it would be silly to try to say this guy is a sleeper. His ADP continues to climb (currently a 12th round selection, last week went undrafted!) He had an outstanding first pre-season game where he recorded 5 receptions, 55 yards and a touchdown. The word ‘round NOLA is Drew Brees absolutely loving what Cooks brings to the table, and plans to utilize him heavily in the offense. There is, of course, a big knock on the value of this rookie receiver; and it’s something that must be taken quite seriously. We have seen speed receivers come through the Saints organization (Stills, Meachem), but none have been stand out receivers. Brees is the type of QB to spread the ball around, and his primary target has been Jimmy Graham. However, we have already seen and heard the high expectations and intended utilization of Cooks; so you should feel comfortable rolling the dice on this guy. Lastly, we’re talking a 12th round selection. You’re not drafting this guy as a starter, you’re drafting him for his potential. Since the ceiling is very high, I believe he’s being drafted way too late. I would expect his ADP to continue to rise as the pre-season goes on.
My final point on Cooks (yes, I’m quite high on this guy as you can see): Draft him in the 9th or 10th round. At that point, you’re just looking for players you’re hoping can break out. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the “next best available” when you reach these later rounds. These are the rounds that make or break your fantasy team. This is when expertise, research and diligence come into play. Take a stab at a high ceiling rookie opposed to a Dwayne Bowe or Anquan Boldin. Trust me on this one!
Mike Evans (TB) – I feel like Evans isn’t getting nearly the love he deserves in 2014. He is an elite talent coming out of Texas A&M, and he had the best YPA of any receiver in the draft. Evans will be the second option in Tampa and will face a healthy dose of single coverage as teams will stack against Jackson. Evans is 6’5, 231 pounds and runs a 4.46 40. This is a player who will blow Sammy Watkins out of the water in terms of fantasy production when all is said and done. Look, I know some of you love Sammy Watkins and feel he’s the better player, but look at the quarterback. EJ Manuel did not look great in 2013, nor has he looked so hot in the pre-season. Yes, I completely understand it’s a bit early and last season he was hampered by a LCL injury which caused him to miss 5 weeks. He’s a fine player, but he has not shown the ability to produce like Josh McCown. As you’ve seen in previous articles, I am incredibly high on McCown which increases my love for Mike Evans. Evans is currently a 12th round selection, and my Brandin Cooks logic applies here as well. You could draft a Hakeem Nicks or Danny Amendola, but why not grab a talented rookie who could explode. Hey, that’s not to say I don’t’ like Nicks or Amendola (like Nicks, don’t like Amendola); but I’m all about taking a chance on big upside rookie’s when drafting that late.
Jordan Matthews (PHI) – I’m throwing this on here as a shout out to my boy, and former IFFL Champion, Brent Keeney. Jordan Matthews is going to be a star. While he may not finish as high as Keeney thinks (Top 15 receivers is pretty lofty of an expectation for a 3rd option rookie WR, but I think Top 25 is very possible), I think that he will be an absolute stud in 2014, and even more so in 2015. Listen Eagles fans, I know how you all are. I do, I get it, I work right outside of Philadelphia. Every player on your team is the best in the league (McNabb) until they sour you for some reason (McNabb) and then you vilify them and choose to ignore their massive contributions to the organization (MCNABB). So, for me to heap praises upon an Eagles player is very noteworthy, as I just don’t buy into the hype surrounding their players. McCoy, of course, is an exception as he is legitimately elite. Nick Foles, Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin…no thanks. Foles will regress, Cooper will be nothing without Desean Jackson and Maclin is just a ham & egger type player. However, I will commend the Eagles for a tremendous off-season and draft; specifically related to Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz. Ertz will be the player we all thought Brent Celek would have been. *For the record, I really liked Celek and am sad to see his career not pan out as anticipated.
However, Matthews is the real hidden gem of this offense. He is a huge value for dynasty leagues and by week 5, will be a crucial part of the offense. You can’t take the Philly beat writers love for Matthews too seriously, but you can take mine as an unbiased opinion. Matthews currently has an IDP of 170, which means he’s going undrafted in most 10 team Standard leagues. However, I’m here to tell you that he should be drafted and stashed on your bench. Again, why not take a guy with upside JUST IN CASE.
This concludes “Words of Ingram” 17. We had some laughs, we shared some stories and we all grew a little closer to one another. Draft day is right around the corner for a number of readers, and some of your drafts may have already taken place. It’s a great time to be a fantasy football player, and an even better time to jump on the ship if you’ve never played before but been curious. A lot of what’s discussed on websites can be a bit intimidating to the new player, but don’t be fearful! It’s a fun, and easy game that I encourage all fans to play. If you don’t want to get into a league with “high level people,” it’s easy to find beginner leagues. Hell, if you want to get a league started with some friends and you need more people, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to play with any of the readers. Keep reading, keep studying and continue to adapt to the ever-changing world of Fantasy Sports. You WILL find success.
Next week, we’ll be taking a look at some players whom I consider to be mandatory handcuffs, as well as a few more players you absolutely must draft in rounds 10+.
Thank you all for reading and I look forward to any comments, criticisms or critiques in the comment section. Cheers and happy drafting!
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join us this Monday the 18th of August from 1-2pm EST for another episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. This week our guest include Eric Paulen and Joe “65 Mustangs” Iannone. This week our featured guest is Eric Paulen who is the Founder & President of Bald Bull Entertainment. Eric has produced projects for companies & organizations such as ESPN, WWE, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, NCAA, HBO Sports, History Channel, MLB, A&E, and is an owner in Major League Fantasy Sports in baseball, basketball, and football. Joe is a writer for majorleaguefantasysports.com and an owner in baseball & football. You can call in at 646.915.8596, listen live online anywhere, or if you can’t listen live you can download the podcast on I-Tunes or Google Play stores. Search for Sports Palooza Radio Show.