Fri Jun 14th 2019
Grading My 2019 FFPC Start-up Draft
My First Ever FFPC Draft
Two weeks ago I decided to join my first FFPC dynasty league. I had heard about these high-stakes leagues for quite some time on various podcasts that I listen to each week. The ads boasted of their history of dynasty leagues - 10 years of dynasty leagues and not one league has ever folded. Buy-ins start at $77 and go as high as $5000. I decided it was time to test my skills against other high-stakes players and join a $77 league, which was really $154 because they make you buy-in for two years to start.
The first thing I did, of course, was read about league rules, rosters, and scoring. I wanted to understand all the fine print so that I could develop a smart draft strategy. These leagues are very different from my other dynasty leagues, so I had to investigate them well. Here are some of the unique features to FFPC leagues and how these rules affected my draft strategy.
- FFPC leagues are 12-team leagues that roster 20 players with 3 IR spots (so a max of 23 if you have 3 guys on IR). So this start-up draft 240 players would be drafted total. I am used to playing in 27-30-man rosters where 300-324 players are drafted. Plus you have to draft a K and DST, so I was really only drafting 18 positional players. In a league with roster spots this thin, I realized that almost every player on your roster has to be startable, that I could not draft a lot of unproven players or rookies to stash while I wait for them to develop.
- In addition, in FFPC leagues there is no free agency during the offseason, just trades. Then you must drop down to 16 players before the NFL draft. It's really 14 positional players because you have to keep a K and DST. After the NFL draft, there is a 7-round rookie draft that includes all the free agents, so basically it feels like you're starting a rookie draft at round 15 of a start-up as far as the free agents available but with the addition of the entire rookie class.
- I would not draft any rookie WRs or TEs who take too long to develop.
- I would draft as many as 1-2 rookie RBs but only at the right price and if I had solid starters in front of them.
- I decided I would draft older proven players and go for more of a win-now draft strategy but get a few younger guys who have already proven to be flex-worthy but had an immense upside.
- I decided a 2020 first round pick was about the equivalent of a 6th round pick in the start-up draft, especially since I wanted proven, win-now type of players. That's how I set my scale for trading during the draft.
- I aimed for this roster construction at the end of the draft: 2 QBs, 6-8 RBs, 6-8 WRs, 2 TEs, K, and DST.
- FFPC leagues are PPR and TE-premium with 1.5 PPR for TEs. Scoring is pretty standard besides that twist. QBs are 4 points per passing TD but get 1 point per 20 yards passing (rather than 1 point per 25 or 30 yards passing like a lot of my leagues).
- I decided I would draft proven PPR players with my first few picks. I wanted as many #1 targets on a team as I could possibly get, especially guys who had been the #1 target on their team for many years in a row.
- I was much more willing to take a TE early in this draft given the 1.5 PPR.
- I was willing to go WR early and target pass-catching backs late, especially if I was assigned to draft spots 7-12 after all the stud RBs were taken.
- It was not a huge factor, but I wanted to target a QB who would finish the season high in passing yards. I was not going to draft a QB early but would look for a high yardage guy when deciding between players.
- DST and K would be my last two picks.
- In FFPC leagues, there are no waivers during the offseason, only trades. After this start-up draft, we would not be able to make any waiver moves until the week before the NFL season starts. We have a $1000 FAAB budget from that point to the end of the season.
- I was more willing to take RB handcuffs as a result. If a guy I planned on starting was injured during practice or in a preseason game, I wanted to have their back up. I also wanted to have other teams' back-ups too, in case their players were injured. Back-up RBs values could spike if there was an injury before the season and I would be glad to have a handcuff RB to play for me or to offer in a trade.
- FFPC leagues are really unique in the way that do standings because they use Victory Points. Head-to-head winners get 2 points. Head-to-head losers get 0 points. The four highest scoring teams of the week get 2 points. The middle 4 scoring teams of the week get 1 point. The lowest scoring 4 teams in the league get 0 points. So your team record is not just based on head-to-head record but on Victory Points.
- This didn't make a huge difference in how I drafted, but it did make me lean more toward players that can win a week by themselves. I wanted a few players, especially early in the draft that had safe floors and had also proven to be top scorers in a week at their position.
We were assigned our draft position 2 days before the draft so that there could be trades before the draft began. I was given the 10th spot so I knew I was not going to get any of the stud RBs but was happy to go WR and even TE and aim for pass-catching backs later in the draft.
I was immediately offered trades by several teams offering me a 2020 1st for my 2019 6th. It was confirming to see I valued 2020 1st round picks where I had already valued them. I did not take the offers because I wanted to go with more of a win-now approach and draft older proven players. However, I did accept a trade for my 2020 1st and 2019 11.9 for a that team's 6.4. This gave me pick 6.3 and 6.4 at a turn where I felt the value of proven, win-now players were starting to drop off.
My inaugural FFPC 20-round start-up draft kicked off Tuesday, June 4th, and today I only have one pick left - my kicker - though I am still trying to trade my 2020 6th round pick to draft one more WR. Here is my roster going into year one.
- QB: Matt Ryan, Tom Brady
- RB: Damien Williams, Mark Ingram, Miles Sanders, James White, Carlos Hyde, Jamaal Williams, Gus Edwards
- WR: Julio Jones, Brandin Cooks, Robby Anderson, Donte Pettis, Keke Coutee, Jamison Crowder
- TE: Travis Kelce, Dallas Goedert
- K: Yet to be drafted
- DST: Minnesota
Travis Kelce (1.10)
- I've never drafted a TE this early in my life, but in this format, he finished just behind Alvin Kamara in total scoring last year. I wanted to get #1 targets on teams that would surely get 150 plus targets this year. Kelce fits the bill to a T. I knew this would hurt me at RB in this draft, but I was happy to take him here. Tyreek Hill's likely suspension made me like him even more. He's rarely injured and was as safe of a pick as there could be. I thought about going WR here, but I was happy to take whichever of the next WRs that would fall to me 5 picks later and was happy to know I would not have to consider drafting a TE until much later in the draft.
Julio Jones (2.03)
- Speaking of target hogs, here's another. He and/or JuJu were the guys I hoped to get in the 2nd round after drafting Kelce. I was thrilled to see him fall to me. I am not concerned about his age. I wanted proven players and Julio puts up the same numbers year to year. He may not be the touchdown scorer that we wish he was but his receptions and yards are sure to be among the highest in the league. I didn't think twice before drafting him.
Damien Williams (3.10)
- Here was my first and only crisis moment of the draft. I thought for sure that either Kerryon Johnson, Marlon Mack or Josh Jacobs would fall to me at 3.10 and I would have been pleased to have them as my RB1, but 6 RBs were taken in front of me this round when I thought teams would go for more WRs. I debated between Devonta Freeman, David Montgomery, and Williams here. Knowing that I wanted to be a win-now team, I went with the unproven Williams here instead of Freeman who I believe is injury prone and Montgomery who I could not wait to earn a starting role. Williams should be great in PPR. Andy Reid always makes money out of his RBs. I committed to doing whatever I needed to do to also get Carlos Hyde in this draft since I have been high on him this offseason as you can read about here.
Brandin Cooks (4.03)
- I debated for quite a bit between Cooks and AJ Green here. Green fit my win-now strategy, but he's older and become more injury prone and is adapting to a new head coach and offense. Cooks is 5 years younger and while it's hard to say he's for sure the #1 target in LA, he has 1000 yards receiving every year no matter what team he has been on and has a longer-term contract than the other WRs in LA. The LA offense is proven and may need to pass more with some of the uncertainty around Gurley. I was happy to get Cooks here in the 4th.
Mark Ingram (5.10)
- I felt like I missed out on another run of RBs leading up to this pick. Kenyon Drake, Rashaad Penny, and Chris Carson were my targets but all went right before me. I felt like I needed some certainty with this pick. While Ingram is not going to help me in the PPR side of this format, I believe his touches are a sure thing in what looks to be a run-heavy offense. I'm banking on volume here. RBs adjust better to new teams than WRs do, so I trust Ingram will get the bulk of the carries in Baltimore.
Miles Sanders (5.12)
- Here is where I felt like I needed to make a move to get an upside RB and a proven PPR RB. I had picks 6.03 and 6.04 but felt like I could not wait until then to get my guys, especially since my guys had been snipped before me twice before. I made a trade with a team that also had back to back picks, but his were in front of me. I traded 6.03, 6.04, 12.03, and 13.10 for his 5.12, 6.01, and 11.05. I moved up a few spots to get my guys and received an 11th round pick back (after trading it before the draft). This meant I'd no longer have a 12th or 13th round pick, so I would have to fill out my roster well before then.
- Miles Sanders is my guy. He's been my #1 or #2 rookie for most of the offseason. You can see my rookie rankings here. He was the one rookie I was willing to draft and hold on these thin FFPC rosters. I love that Philadelphia identified him as the RB they wanted, and I am sure they have plans to use him this year. They picked up Jordan Howard in free agency, but that was before they knew Sanders would fall to them. Sanders may not play a lot for me this year, but he will in the future after Howard is gone (one year left on his deal).
James White (6.01)
- He was the other guy I needed to pick up in the trade. White has been PPR gold the last two years. I really can't believe he fell this far in the draft. Sony Michel and Damien Harris may fight for the 1st and 2nd down roles in New England, but White's pass-catching role is untouchable on this team. They will need him, even more, this year with Gronk gone. I hope this looks like the steal of the draft and the trade of the draft for me.
Robby Anderson (7.10)
- I was surprised at this point to get what should be the most targeted WR on a team. Robby Anderson has had WR1 value for long spurts of the season last year and the year before. He and Darnold really seemed to make a connection near the end of last year. He has the PPR value and the win-a-week and that help Victory Point scoring value in a league like this.
Donte Pettis (8.03)
- Here is where I started to pepper in a little youth, but proven youth. Pettis was great at the end of the year last year and he's always been a player I've valued more than other analysts. It remains to be seen who will become the true #1 WR in San Fransisco (Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin, or Pettis). None will out target George Kittle, but someone will rise in value for sure. My bet is on Pettis. This was my draft for upside pick.
Keke Coutee (9.10)
- I see Coutee much the same way as I see Pettis. He will never be the #1 target in Houston with Hopkins there, but he could become the #2. I see Fuller as more of a downfield threat in Houston whereas Coutee can be the PPR monster underneath. He's had 10+ target games in Houston already with Hopkins and Fuller in the line-up. I see him as a strong PPR flex play with the potential to become an every week starter on my team.
Matt Ryan (10.03)
- I only had two picks to go before I was going to have to wait and watch for two rounds. I feared that a lot of QBs were going to be drafted after this pick, especially since I did not have a pick in the 12th and 13th round. Boy was correct. Eleven were drafted! So I felt I needed to make a move for a QB here. I chose Ryan over guys like Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz because I feel like he will throw for far more yards than them and likely the same amount of touchdowns. He plays 13 games indoors this year and for whatever reason, the Falcons play far better indoors. I'll admit it, Ryan to Julio connection also made me a bit more excited about Ryan. He never gets hurt, so I thought this pick allows me to wait for quite a while before drafting my QB2.
Carlos Hyde (11.05)
- This pick was part of the previous trade I made in the 5th round. I wanted an 11th round pick back since I had traded it away before the draft. This was the round I anticipated being able to get Hyde as my handcuff to Damien Williams. Sure enough, he was there just as I had planned. I love Hyde. His best year was in San Fransisco when they used him as a passing down back too. He's capable to do the same today and Andy Reid knows that. He and/or Williams will be a stud for me this year.
Dallas Goedert (11.09)
- Knowing I was about to have to watch two rounds go by without picking, I felt like I wanted to trade up one last time to get a player to solidify my team. I noticed one team seemed to be going for the "productive struggle" strategy overall in this draft by trading back and lot and collecting picks. He seemed like the best owner to inquire about a trade up. I traded a 2020 2nd and my 19.10 for this pick here at 11.09.
- I love Goedert. He is my TE #7 in my overall dynasty TE rankings. He fits the young but proven with massive upside guy that I wanted to draft as depth. I was very surprised that he had not been drafted yet. Three TEs went before him this round and 5 TEs went after him in the next round. I knew that would happen so I traded up to get the highest ranked overall dynasty player on the board at that point. He'll start for me in the future, and if Ertz gets hurt, I'll certainly be running a 2-TE set every week with Kelce and Goedert.
Jamaal Williams (14.3)
- I had to wait for 29 picks and could not afford to trade up again nor did I need to do so. My starting team was set after the 11th round, including young depth behind them at every position but QB. Now I was just drafting for depth and guys who could fill in on bye weeks or spike in value if someone was to get injured. I've always loved Jamaal Williams. I always had him ranked ahead of Aaron Jones until midway through last season when I had to admit defeat. Still, I have them closer than most analysts do. He has proven that he can be an RB2 when given the workload. I drafted him here because I still believe Jones is unproven and I believe he is injury prone.
Tom Brady (15.10)
- I planned to take my QB2 this round. I was really hoping Phillip Rivers would fall to me but he was taken in front of me. Before the NFL draft, we have to cut down to 16 players (14 positional players given we have to keep a K and DST). I do not plan on holding 2 QBs after the cutdown date, so I was happy to get the aging Tom Brady here. He may start for me on some weeks when he has a better matchup than Ryan. He also never gets hurt. I love having him as my QB2.
Jamison Crowder (16.03)
- He was at the top of my queue for two rounds. I was pleased to see him fall to me. WRs are always iffy when coming to a new team as a free agent, but there are not many guys competing for a starting role in New York. Darnold liked the slot WRs quite a bit last year, so I am hopeful. He's also a small hedge against Robby Anderson in case here were to get hurt. I'm hoping Gase and Le'Veon can make the Jets offense more explosive.
Gus Edwards (17.10)
- I debated a lot of guys here but decided on picking up my handcuff for Ingram. Justice Hill will certainly have a chance to become the #2 back in Baltimore or maybe even Kenneth Dixon. I looked at his productivity at the end of last year and decided to trust that's he's the handcuff to Ingram. I'll know more by the end of pre-season and can drop Edwards with that one round of waivers before the season if I need to do so. In the meantime, if Ingram gets hurt before the season starts I'll be thrilled to have Edwards.
- I traded away my 19th round pick so I had to get my DST here. I was surprised to see 5 DSTs had already been drafted. I figured I'd have the first DST in this draft since I had to draft one in the 18th, but each owner has their own way of drafting. I'm sure I'll have a different DST by the end of the season, but I like Zimmer and his defensive coaching. If they do well, they don't have a bye week until week 12, so I can hold onto them for a long time.
- Who will be my kicker? I don't know yet, but I don't really care. The fact that 6 kickers have already been taken really surprises me. I'll look for a guy that has a high scoring offense and give a little more weight to guys that kick indoors. That's about all I can say for kickers.
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