Fantasy Football Roundtable Debate Part 2: TE, DEF & K

Fantasy Football Fantasy Football Strategy

By Fanspeak Staff Writers John Belaska, John Manuel & Jack Concannon:

 

Tight End:    

1. There seems to be a pretty big gap between the top 2-3 tight ends versus the rest of the bunch. How does that disparity play into your draft strategy with evaluating these tight ends?

JOHN BELASKA:

With the impact tight ends had last season, I definitely want to grab a tight end early. No, I will not be shelling out a second or third round pick on Jimmy Graham. I will say I willing to draft one in the fourth or fifth though. I would only pick one in the fourth if the guy I want is there, otherwise I would wait. However, they were just too valuable last season to ignore them this year. Investing in a top guy is a good decision.

JOHN MANUEL: 

I usually take the route of letting Gronk and Graham go to others in the 2nd round and taking a tight end later.  Does it work?  Sometimes.  I think the tight end gap has closed a lot with guys like Julius Thomas so even though having Gronk and Graham is huge there is still a lot of risk using a 2nd round pick.  Both were hurt last season remember.

JACK CONCANNON

If you don’t get Jimmy Graham in the first round wait until much later before selecting your tight end. Julius Thomas is painfully overrated and Vernon Davis is not consistent enough to warrant a fifth round pick. Wait until Jason Witten or Jordan Cameron around the seventh or eighth round. If you want to wait even longer than that Greg Olsen and Kyle Rudolph should both be available in round ten and have high upside going into this season.

 

2. With more and more teams splitting their tight end production between two guys, what is one team with 2 respectable tight ends that you should avoid when it comes to fantasy football, because neither tight end will end up being very fantasy relevant?

JOHN BELASKA:

Stay away from the Lions’ tight ends. Last season they had two decent ones and now they have a third. My guess is fantasy owners will target Eric Ebron because he is a rookie and rookies are always overhyped. Ebron is not even listed as the second tight end on the depth chart now.

JOHN MANUEL:

Indy and Cincy.  I think Fleener, Allen, Eifert and Gresham could be solid options if they didn’t split time but you can’t expect solid numbers each week from any of them.  Detroit has Ebron and Pettigrew but I bet Pettigrew is a small factor there now.

JACK CONCANNON

Tyler Eifert is an extremely talented tight end who had a great run at Notre Dame. Jermaine Gresham had a few good fantasy years in Cincinnati before Eifert was drafted. Both of these guys have the skill to be valuable in fantasy but the timeshare between them limits both of their value and make them both just about irrelevant for fantasy. 

 

3. Last year Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron were breakout tight ends, who is a sleeper you are looking to draft this season?

JOHN BELASKA:

I have two sleeper tight ends. One is a normal sleeper and the other is a deep sleeper. If you play in a standard size league with 10 or 12 team, try Jordan Reed. When he was in the game last year, he made an impact. His stats are not as good as the other tight ends because he was injured during the last half of the season. The Redskins have a fully health RGIII and have added DeSean Jackson. With Garcon and Jackson on the outside, defenses are going to pay less attention to Reed. My deep sleeper is Jace Amaro, the rookie tight end for the New York Jets. Geno Smith is still developing. Young quarterbacks have to use the tight end much more often. Amaro is 6’6”, so the big target will definitely help Smith out a lot. He should really only be drafted in leagues with a high number of teams though.

JOHN MANUEL: 

If he can stay on the field and avoid getting his bell rung Jordan Reed.  He showed signs when he played as a rookie but the problem is he missed a lot of time.  Ladarius Green is another one I would watch as he looks to take over for Antonio Gates as the main tight end.

JACK CONCANNON

Norv Turner has a long history of using tight ends in his offensive schemes. When Turner was the head coach for the Chargers he set up an offense that ran through tight end Antonio Gates. Last year Turner was the offensive coordinator for the Browns and Jordan Cameron became a star overnight. Turner heads to Minnesota this year to be their offensive coordinator and that could be great for Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph is an athletic tight end who has never been used to his full potential before but that will likely change this year. Rudolph is a definite TE1 and is being undervalued.

 

Defense:        

It was painful to take the Seahawks' defense. I am thankful this is a mock draft. I do not think I could live with them for a full season.

 

1. When is the earliest you will draft a defense and who will you be targeting?

JOHN BELASKA:

With how important defenses were last season, I would have no problem with an owner drafting one in the fifth round, however I would personally rather wait until the sixth or seventh. If one of the best are not there I would wait even longer and just rotate my defenses based on matchup. However, getting a top flight defense is a great option. During the first half of the 2013 season, the Chiefs defense was putting up enough points to make them as valuable as any second running on a roster.

JOHN MANUEL:

All depends how your first 6-7 rounds go.  If you get lucky and guys fall perfect to you in these rounds I could jump at a defense in like round as early as round 8 if there is a dominating type out there.  I would usually go later though and take my chances.

JACK CONCANNON

My strategy when it comes to defenses is to draft two defenses late with the intention to switch between them during the season based off of matchups. I usually select these defenses during the third to last and second to last rounds and the first defense I will be targeting is the Chiefs. They always have the potential for a huge defensive play and their upside is huge. Someone else may pick them up before I do but if they are there I’ll take them.

 

2. How much does a team’s schedule factor into your consideration with drafting a defense?

JOHN BELASKA:

The schedule is very important to me. Team defenses are one of the only positions where rotating them on a regular basis makes sense. If you can get a top defense with a really easy schedule, you are going to be in great shape.

JOHN MANUEL:

How much does a team’s schedule factor into your consideration with drafting a defense?

I think it does a lot even with the uncertainty of the NFL.  I don’t get all in depth and look at every team’s 16 games but do look at teams that have weak or tough divisions as a possibility.  If you are in a 10 person league it is very easy to take the week to week defense option if your drafted defense sucks.

JACK CONCANNON

A defense’s matchup is critical to their performance. I would rather play the Titans D going against the Rams than the Seahawks D (my personal #1 ranked defense) going against the 49ers. This emphasis on matchups is magnified if you use the strategy I use which involves constantly switching between two or more defenses hunting for the best matchups.

 

3. What defensive/special teams’ stat is most important to consider when drafting a defense?

JOHN BELASKA:

Without a doubt the most important stat for defenses is the number of points allowed. If a defense does not allow a lot of points you are guaranteeing yourself some fantasy points that week. Normally when a defense does not allow a lot of points it is because they are able to create turnovers. Basically if the number of points allowed is low all the other stats such as forced fumbles, sacks, and interceptions will be high.

JOHN MANUEL:

Depends what you get for giving up less than 7 points.  If you get 10 points for that it is huge.  It’s hard to predict if teams will be able to score DST touchdowns especially now with the kickoff rule so that is a crapshoot.

JACK CONCANNON

Forcing turnovers is crucial for fantasy defenses. Forcing interceptions and fumbles translates straight into points and can easily turn into defensive touchdowns. Getting turnovers is the most important stat to look at when evaluating defenses.

 

Kicker:       

1. In leagues that receiver bonuses for longer field goals, how much consideration do you put in quality distance kickers over a guy who is likely to kick more FG’s and extra points in general?

JOHN BELASKA:

I never really consider a kicker’s ability to hit longer field goals. For me it is all about accuracy. If a kicker can hit a sixty yarder, but only hits 50% of his field opportunities it just is not worth it. I want a guy who is going to put up points each and every week. I never want a goose egg in the point’s column.

JOHN MANUEL:

Very little.  Every season some kicker comes out of nowhere and scores the most.  Best bet is to take a solid kicker on team you know will put up points.  If that doesn’t work out there is always someone on the waiver wire to get that 5-8 points a week.

JACK CONCANNON

Kickers that get the most opportunities to kick the ball are the most valuable. Fantasy owners have no ability to predict when a kicker will get chances for long kicks so draft kickers from teams that have good offenses and will often be in field goal range.

 

2. How much impact does kicking indoors or outdoors matter in your decision for drafting a kicker?

JOHN BELASKA:

The impact is actually on the specific weather conditions the player is playing in. Obviously an indoor kicker does not really have to worry about this. However it is better to have an outdoor kicker because if you can kick outdoors you can do it indoors. I like kickers who play in colder weather stadiums. I also like kickers at higher elevations. This is because the air pressure is thinner which allows for the ball to travel further. The cold weather makes the ball harder and can come off the foot stronger.

JOHN MANUEL:

A little.  But again I would go based on kicker being solid and teams ability to move the ball.

JACK CONCANNON

The top three kickers in the league last year based off of percentage were Denver’s Matt Prater, Seattle’s Steven Hauschka and Pittsburgh’s Shaun Suisham. All three play outdoors in cities where the weather can get bitter cold. Don’t overthink the kicker your drafting and get too caught up in indoors versus outdoors and warm weather versus cold weather.

3. When is the earliest you’d select a kicker in a fantasy draft?

JOHN BELASKA:

I typically never want to be the first guy to take a kicker. Once the first one is taken, then I will start looking. I will absolutely never take a kicker in the last round. A lot of owners wait until the end of the draft and end up with a kicker they may end up dropping. I prefer to target one between rounds 10 and 13. This way I get one of the better kickers and still ensure my bench is set. After I grab my kicker I can simply draft some sleepers. You must always keep in mind your kicker is a starter. It is more important to have a quality kicker than any player who is just going to sit on your bench all year long.

JOHN MANUEL:

Last round.  Depending on your draft date and league rules I would almost pass on a kicker in the draft and take a chance on a position guy.  Then pick one up right before the week one games.

JACK CONCANNON

I never draft a kicker earlier than the last round. Kicker performance is more or less random each week so there’s no advantage in drafting ayour kicker any earlier than the last round.

 

 


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