First I would like to greet my esteemed friends, respected colleagues, and Renal Failure, and welcome all the co-members and fans to what will doubtlessly be another white-knuckled HBFFL football season.
Personally appearing at the first HBFFL live draft was a difficult undertaking ... I had spilled out of the emergency room only hours before. But in the face of a universe that conspired against it mightily, I was there.
One could argue I need not have appeared at all. I had ranked players, and an absolute, galvanized Faith in those rankings -plus I would spend about 60% of the draft on autopick anyway.
“But LOBO,” the vast legions of Predator Press fans cried. “You can‘t use computers to pick your football team! Computers are good at one thing and one thing only ... Pornography!”
Many immolated themselves. Many jumped from tall buildings. Many immolated themselves and then jumped from tall buildings. But this is my second year of experimenting with mock drafts, so I'm not only well-rehearsed, but I have a pretty good understanding of the autodraft "logic."
My plan was to attempt a "hybrid" draft -to get the first five-to-seven highest value players on autodraft, only intervening if/when something crazy was about to happen (or inevitably, when the early kicker was on deck in round eight). At that point I would override the auto and take over, rounding out the team with my own personal picks. (And with the afore-mentioned difficulties merely getting to the live draft punctually, I needed that extra time to get the tricycle and sections of picket fence out of my car's radiator before the neighbors spotted them anyway.)
So I'll bet those vast legions of doubters that immolated themselves and/or jumped from tall buildings are feeling pretty fucking stupid right now: Matthew Stafford, Kenny Britt, Julio Jones, and Plaxico Burress all earned the dubious distinction of donning a Preds uniform this year, picked at my own personal hand. But in my battered physical condition, the second half of the draft was a war of attrition -completely out of gas and addled, multi-kickers be damned, in roughly round twelve I checked out.
-Well, maybe 'keeled' is a better word.
Like any "regular" autodraft, I woke hours later to a lot of unfamiliar faces thinking, “Who the fuck are these guys?” Worse, multiple kickers, defenses and tight ends -exactly what I had been trying to avoid.
Or was it?
See I should have expected some buyer’s remorse for the first half of the draft. Remember (admittedly with a few notable predraft rank exceptions) I had cast my personal opinions, expectations, and prejudices almost completely aside, and put my faith in the handicapping mathematics. I had to: at the time Arian Foster was 'Tweeting' everything short of the Texans' playbook, and the disgruntled Chris Johnson was likely to roll late into camp hungover, 200 pounds overweight, and covered in so much Cheeto dust he looked like a Bengal. Besides, following my so-called football "instincts" last year nearly proved disastrous ... with the lockout and subsequent vacuum of player data, this year seems fraught with even more peril.
So rather than building a team I thought would be great, I got the best five players I could and built my team around that. Simply put, post-draft I was underestimating these unfamiliar faces: I would need to learn the hard way why those assholes at the drive thru keep laughing at me when I order a McFadden with french fries and a Coke. Stat.
And while multiple kickers and defenses are almost universally scorned, in my bold and inventive semi-auto draft I defied convention there too. They do have an upside, and to
Let’s say I have two defenses one week. One is projected to get ten, and one is projected to get fifteen. In most cases I take the fifteen -but not with the expectation to get fifteen points. See I think the projections are mathematical articulations of mismatches, and the greater the mismatch usually the greater the score. I think of it as a “Tug of War” of probability: if my opponent is projected to get one hundred and I am projected to get one hundred and ten, this is how much more force I’m using to pull that “W” to my camp and away from theirs. Is it infallible? Hell no. Far from it in fact. I’m often taking Roethlisberger over Stafford despite numerous projections to the contrary.
With an extra kicker and defense in my chamber, I go over the season to look for trouble spots. Where am I losing that “Tug-of-War?” Where is it too close to call? While imperfect, the projections become a great tool to highlight these areas. In Week Six, I'm minus ten. In Week Nine I'm minus seven, Week Ten I'm tied, and in Week Fourteen I'm minus ten again. This is invaluable data, and here is where the extra “placeholders” I drafted become relevant: sure maybe you can know exactly what you're getting ... but how can you know what your opponents are getting? You could have the greatest draft in the world, but this projection information illustrating holes in your schedule won’t be available until now, after the draft.
If necessary, at this point I go to the Waiver Wire and see who is strong on those weeks, plug them in replacing the ‘expendable’ roster spots with them. There’s nothing better to overcome a ten point projection deficit without traumatizing my team than a defense and kicker combination. The “Tug of War” is set.
It's also worth noting I don’t necessarily consider the kickers and defenses my least-valued and expendable. There's only so many spots in which you can deploy superstars, and -like it or not- that kicker, defense and tight end slot is in your lineup every week too. So why wouldn't you put them to work for you? These supposedly "ineffectual" spots might not mean much individually, but collectively they can amount to quite a bit -in total, scoring comparable to an additional superstar. Further, there's a consistency about them: I've had second-round draft pick Calvin Johnson bring in six points in one matchup, while a good steady kicker gave me ten to twelve all year long.
Finally a good, solid backup for all positions will give you a little peace of mind, and a little peace of mind goes a long way. There’s nothing I hate more on Sunday morning than poring over the rumors, “Who is hot? Who is starting? Who is on IR?” -rather than gearing up the snacks and beer and just to enjoy the football.
(That said, I'm sure I'll be doing it anyway.)
Recommended Reading: Chris Cameron articulates an excellent TE, K, and DEF drafting technique while explaining the mechanical aspects of the autodraft (should you ever choose to employ it) in detail here. Various HBFFL authors expound on their past draft strategies here. Pre and mid-season surrenders, as always, are being accepted here. "LOBO" also butchers grammar, punctuation, and the English language in general here at PredatorPress.com.