** These points are primarily directed at leagues where one can freely and limitlessly work the waiver wire.
(UPDATE: Feel free to leave your opinions in the comments section.)
- Never draft a kicker. The skill of the kicker matters relatively little when compared to potential points in each matchup. Kickers on teams with average to above average offense and a below average to poor red zone touchdown percentage are likely available every week on the wire. If you have two viable choices check the arenas and weather. Minnesota's Dome in November? - great. Chicago's Soldier Field in November - terrible choice. Of course, this strategy point requires diligence on your part; do not expect to see the man with the golden leg sitting unclaimed Saturday afternoon.
- Never draft a defense. Choosing a defense is trickier and every week in the NFL there is potential for a perennially poor offensive team or player to have a monster statistical game (I am sure the Browns have proven this at some point in history). But just like in poker when you just folded a 2-7 off-suit and 2-7-7 flops, you have to be satisfied with the high percentage choice. Most leagues spot the defense ten points to begin with, so the smart move on defense is the conservative move. The average defense against average offense is safe, sometimes holding onto a total point range between 8-12 will be the difference between win and loss. But if the rest of your team has favorable matches why not gamble, start whichever defense is playing against whoever is the starting quarterback in Seattle now. The point is whether you want to play it safe or gamble you will be able to find a solid choice without wasting a draft pick on a defense.
- If a player is the primary-whatever on their team they are more valuable than a more talented second-string or relief player. Example: LaDanian Tomlinson versus Mike Goodson of the Carolina panthers in 2010. Goodson saw less than 20 carries until week 10 that season he got a three game stint as starter; here's how those three weeks played out between them: LT-142/0TD - 134/0TD receiving and MG-275/1TD - 125/0TD receiving. Going by common point values (6 per td, 1 per 10 yards gained) the final tally is LT 27, MG 36. You have to take the point where you can get them. Oh, and if you want to argue that LT is old and MG is in his prime, all I will say by way of response is - c'mon.
- Who to draft in the first round? My feelings here are not steadfast. The overall quality of quarterback in the NFL is so high right now, it doesn't make sense to me to go QB in the first round. Especially when your league is likely filled with half non-obsessive football fans and no matter what Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and now Aaron Rogers will come off the board first. That leaves Matt Schaub, Matt Ryan, Big Ben (who passes more than you think and is always seems to add a few points via scramble), and oh yeah, the incredibly prolific Philip Rivers. I'm leaving out 4,000 yard and/or 25TD QB's here because I think my point is made.
My preference is starting running backs, usually in rounds 1 and 2, but in more savvy leagues (read: leagues filled with more obsessive players) maybe 1 and 3 is better. If one gets injured you can pick up an average one and not be eliminated from contention. It's riskier to build a team around wide receivers because what do you do when you rely heavily on Sidney Rice and Brett Favre snaps his brittle bones into pieces? It is tougher to predict consistency in wide receivers from week to week than running backs; how many targets, is it windy, is the quarterback healthy, who is covering him. A running back is usually good for an expected minimum number of carries and if an important O-liner goes down, and the RB had been producing, then the rest of the line will probably manage to hold up well enough to not effect your man's point total too much. The offensive line is not successful because of one man, it's better or worse. Now imagine: Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne, and now, Curtis Painter to Reggie Wayne.
For more articles by him follow his blog You Can't Mean That!
Hope everyone has a fantastic Labor Day. Enjoy yourselves and have epic cookouts!
Love from your humble blogger,