Earlier, I wrote about one of my fantasy football teams that was auto-drafted by Yahoo! and my efforts to transform that team into a winning team. Unfortunately, those efforts didn’t work and that team finished 7 out of 12 teams in the league— (update to that original post is here). However, the other of my 2 teams that I didn’t write about actually won the championship! Vandalay Industries took the prize in my 14 team league. Here’s my view of how it happened—the brilliant moves, good fortune, and simple luck that propelled my team to the championship.
The basic parameters of our league.
- 14 teams
- 15 rounds
- 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF and 6 Bench players
- Performance standard scoring league
- .5 Points per reception (PPR)
- Snake draft pattern
I had the first pick in the draft—thus my first pick was # 1 overall, and then my second pick was #28 overall.
|Position||Name||Team||Final Yahoo! Ranking in Total Points per position|
|WR||Marques Colston||New Orleans||14|
|RB||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City||11|
|K||Garrett Hartley||New Orleans||36|
|DEF||New Orleans||New Orleans||1|
|Bench- QB||Alex Smith||San Francisco||20|
|Bench- QB||Matt Cassel||Kansas City||25|
|Bench- RB||Beanie Wells||Arizona||35|
|Bench- RB||Chester Taylor||Minnesota||43|
|Bench- WR||Roy Williams||Dallas||41|
Initial Draft Roster
|Position||Name||Team||Overall Draft Position (Round)|
|RB||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota||1 (1)|
|RB||Ronnie Brown||Miami||28 (2)|
|WR||Marques Colston||New Orleans||29 (3)|
|QB||Kurt Warner||Arizona||56 (4)|
|WR||Brandon Marshall||Denver||57 (5)|
|WR||Derrick Mason||Baltimore||84 (6)|
|RB||Beanie Wells||Arizona||85 (7)|
|WR||Percy Harvin||Minnesota||112 (8)|
|QB||Matt Cassel||Kansas City||113 (9)|
|DEF||San Diego||San Diego||140 (10)|
|TE||Anthony Fasano||Miami||141 (11)|
|WR||Patrick Crayton||Dallas||168 (12)|
|RB||Carnell Williams||Tampa Bay||169 (13)|
|RB||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City||196 (14)|
|K||Robbie Gould||Chicago||197 (15)|
- Of the players I originally drafted, two notable players drafted not on my final roster were Ronnie Brown and Percy Harvin. There final rankings for their respective positions was 17 for Harvin at WR and 36 for Brown at RB.
Why I won—the Draft Picks, Waiver Moves and Trades that made the season
- Looking at my final roster, the primary reasons for winning the championship are my running backs and wide receiver.
- At the RB position at the end of the season, Peterson and Charles ranked # 3 and # 11 in total points. If you did average points per games for the last 6 weeks of the season when he started, Charles would have certainly been in the top 5. Having 2 top five running backs in a 14 person league requiring 2 starting RB’s during the playoff run and the playoffs is certainly a recipe for success. Furthermore, on my roster, Charles only began starting after Ronnie Brown was lost for the year to injury. If you looked at average points per game at RB for Brown, he was the # 8 RB for the season. So, whether the combination was Peterson and Brown or Peterson and Charles, my running back combination was stellar.
- At the WR position, Marshall, Colston, and Mason final WR rankings were 8, 14, and 18 respectively. In a league that starts 42 WR, to have 3 of the top 18 is also a clear advantage. In essence, I was starting 2 # 1 WR’s and a near # 1 WR at my 3 WR slots.
- So, RB and WR led me to the championship but some deft drafting decisions, trades, and waiver moves were critical to lead to those results:
- Picking Peterson with the # 1 pick was obvious, but choosing Brown and Colston at my # 2 and # 3 picks instead of Ryan Grant or TJ Houshmenzadeh or Terrell Owens which were available players at those slots and quickly taken in the next couple of picks turned out to be important choices.
- At draft time, Brandon Marshall was creating waves with his new Denver coach, demanded a trade, and was loafing at practice. There was talk that he would get a long suspension by the team, possibly waived or traded. He thus slipped in the draft and was available in the 5th round at pick # 57. I took him at that slot thinking he was worth the risk and the upside if he didn’t get suspended would be very high given his performance. To guard against that risk, 2 of my next 3 picks were WR. Overall, it turned out to be a fantastic pick as he ended the season as #8 overall WR- a great value for a 5th round pick.
- In the middle of the draft, I chose two rookies with high upside—Beanie Wells and Percy Harvin. Harvin, in particular, turned out to be a great pick as he ended the season as the # 17 overall Wide Receiver. Again, a near # 1 pick. Which leads to the next point.
- Given Harvin’s performance in the first 4 weeks, I was able to make him the primary piece in a trade for Jason Witten. One of the weaknesses of my draft was selecting Miami TE Anthony Fasano as my TE. After 4 weeks, Fasano had an average of almost 0 points per game and was clearly not going to be an option at TE. With Harvin’s strong start as well as strong starts by Colston, Marshall, and Mason, I had one extra WR I felt I could trade for my weakness at TE. I found a team in the league that had a shortage of strong WR but had both Heath Miller and Witten at TE. With Witten’s slow start, I was able to trade Harvin and Cadillac Williams for Witten and Chester Taylor. While Witten didn’t have the season he had last season, he was still productive and ended up in the middle of the league in terms of overall TE points, but had some strong games in the playoffs for me. Obtaining Taylor was extra insurance to handcuff Peterson in case Peterson were to get hurt, which fortunately he did not.
- What turned out to be a huge pick and move for me was selecting Jamaal Charles in the 14th round. The thought in the late rounds was he could have upside in the later part of the season in case Larry Johnson were to struggle as he did last year. Of course, as fate would have it, Johnson got into verbal and Twitter spars with the team management and was ultimately released. Charles became the starter and had some monster games. The more important move I made was not waiving Charles in the early part of the season. Charles had fallen into the dog house of Coach Haley early in the season and many owners would have waived him—I kept him and it turned out to be a monumental decision.
- Mid-way through the season, I picked up the New Orleans defense which was creating turnovers and scoring touchdowns in bunches. Being first to the wire to to get New Orleans shored up a weak spot in the lineup.
- Finally, Alex Smith became the starting QB in San Francisco mid-way through the season after coming in the 2H of a game and throwing a couple of touchdowns. While I did not need a starting QB as Kurt Warner was performing adequately and also had a backup QB in Matt Cassel who felt was going to continue to get better, I picked up Smith as a 3rd QB ahead of others from the wire. This turned out to be important as Warner eventually got injured and I started Smith without any drop off during those games. At that point, the 49ers had moved to a mostly spread office and were throwing the majority of the time. When I initially picked up Smith, I did so mostly for trade options and I had even offered him to another owner for Chris Chambers for WR depth which I didn’t have after trading Harvin away. Fortunately, the owner rejected the trade and Smith turned in some valuable performances for me.
So, my 2nd championship in 3 seasons and a 2nd place finish in the other season that I didn’t win. Not bad for Vandalay Industries (the fictitious company that George Costanza created in Seinfeld)!