Fantasy Football 2011 | Championship winning players in 2010

When I first started mocking this season I was surprised by a couple things. At the top of my most-shocking list is an arid wasteland of overpriced running backs from mid-round 2 to mid-round 4. I do not want to roster most of them at the going rates.

It made me rethink how I was going to draft. That, coupled with my success last year, really pushed me into this must-draft-quarterback mentality. There is a belief that quarterbacks are the fantasy football’s most reliable picks, if there is such a thing. Studies by several writers, including Chinstrap Ninjas’ own sockonfl a few years ago, back up this theory year after year.

I took part in two drafts at Real Time Sports yesterday, and while tooling around the site I came across something else that made me feel stronger about my plans.

Here’s the link to an article posted by Jeff Paur. I’m not sure if it is free or only for RTSports subscribers, but I’m going to hit on a few key points from it because it backs up my findings in mocks. It also backs up my plans of attack in almost every draft format in 2011.

Paur’s story was simply titled “First Pick=win?” and it was illustrated with a photo of Michael Vick. Vick was a clever choice. A 2011 first-round pick in most formats, Vick was also one of the players most frequently rostered on championship teams at RTSports last year, when he was anything but a first-round pick.

The part of Paur’s article I most want to focus on is the revelation of those “championship-caliber” players. The list includes the top 30 players rostered on championship teams in 2010. Each player was owned on at least 10 percent of winning teams across the whole site. The list may surprise you:

2010 championship rosters at RTSports

  • Players picked in the first round, according to 2010 ADP? Two: Ray Rice and Andre Johnson.

My take: So, how important is that first pick? Is that $70 player really worth the auction price?

  • The draft “round” of most note was N/D, as in not drafted. There were eight players on the final rosters of championship teams in 2011 that were not drafted in 15-man-roster drafts, according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s 2010 ADP archive. All three quarterbacks on the list, Mike Vick, Tim Tebow and Josh Freeman were not drafted in standard leagues. Running backs Rashad Jennings and Derrick Ward were not drafted. Also not drafted but taking home fantasy championship trophies in 2010: tight end Jacob Tamme, kicker David Buehler and receiver Josh Morgan.

My take: Be active on the waiver wire from the opening bell to the final buzzer, and don’t blow all your FAAB cash in week one. Tebow, Jennings, Morgan and Tamme were all late-blooming championship ingredients in 2010. Morgan, the “weakest” link of the bunch scored 17 points each in weeks 14 and 15, the first two weeks of fantasy playoffs for some teams.

  • Five players, all wide receivers,  made championship rosters after being selected on average in the second round in 2011, they were: Roddy White, Greg Jennings, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Miles Austin.

My take: The top receivers proved to be the best investment in 2011. Thinking about going WR-WR with a late first-round slot? Last year it would have likely put you in position for a championship.

  • Of the top 30 players (about two average teams) there were two players each from the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and 10th rounds. There was also one player from the 11th, a kicker as you might expect, and one from the 13th, a defense. There, however, was also one notable 14th-rounder, a running back named Peyton Hillis.

My take: You know those people who jump out of a mock draft after seven rounds, clap the dust off their hands and think they’ve done something useful? Yeah, they probably didn’t win a championship last year unless they got very lucky. Only 17 of the top 30 players on championship rosters were selected before the eighth round.

Championship-winning players from 2010 who were selected after the eighth round: Vick, Tebow, Freeman, Darren McFadden, Hillis, Jennings, Ward, Tamme, Buehler, Nate Kaeding, Mike Williams (TB), Morgan and the Cowboys defense.

This information does not give anyone permission to punt the first few picks in a draft. No doubt, a lot of first-rounders put the championship teams in position for a title. But it doesn’t mean the end of your season if your top RB blows out a knee in Week 2 either.

Smart picking throughout the draft, and a twitchy finger on the waiver wire trigger are at least as important as what you do in round 1 when it comes to winning a championship.

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