Charles Rex Arbogast/Assocated Press

NFL Draft 2015- Rookie Skill Position Picks and Undrafted Free Agents

The 80th NFL draft was completed over three days between 30th April – 2 May 2015. In the past it’s been rare for rookies (other than perhaps RBs) to make a significant impact in re-draft leagues such as the EFFL. However, last year’s crop of rookie WRs bucked that trend. We don’t want you lagging behind so to enable you to keep up to date we’ll have a position by position breakdown of the players drafted and a quick summary of the current industry outlook for the player. I’ll also include a list of the current (13th May) undrafted free agents with teams.

Quarterbacks

Selection Name Team Outlook and Fantasy Draft ADP
1(1) Jameis Winston Buccaneers The best QB in the draft is going to a situation where he’ll have the opportunities and weapons to have immediate success. So how good is that success going to be? The best ever rookie QB season was the 366 pts posted by Cam Newton and that will be out of Winston’s reach as Tampa Bay weren’t the no1 pick by accident. A more conservative outlook is probably around 200-150 range.
1(2) Marcus Mariota Titans The experts feel this isn’t a great fit and to be fair to them Ken Whisenhunt hasn’t been the greatest developer of rookie qbs. On a positive note Mariota is a good player, but the weapons in Tennessee aren’t wonderful. Expect a modest 150-100 point output.
3(75) Garrett Grayson Saints not draftable
3(89) Sean Mannion Rams not draftable
4(103) Bryce Petty Jets not draftable
5(147) Brett Hundley Packers not draftable
7(250) Trevor Siemian Broncos not draftable
udfa() Shane Carden Bears not draftable
udfa() Jerry Lovelocke Ravens not draftable
udfa() Jake Walters Jaguars not draftable
udfa() Bryan Bennett Colts not draftable
udfa() Cody Fajardo Raiders not draftable
udfa() Cole Stoudt Chargers not draftable
udfa() Connor Halliday Washington not draftable- retired at rookie mini camp
udfa() Dylan Thompson 49ers not draftable
udfa() Jake Heaps Jets not draftable
udfa() Anthony Boone Lions not draftable
udfa() Taylor Heinike Vikings not draftable
udfa() Jameill Showers Cowboys not draftable

Runningbacks

Selection Name Team Outlook
1(10) Todd Gurley Rams The analysts talk about his tough physical running, but when I watch him he looks like Eric Dickerson although nowhere near as smooth (Daniel Jeremiah agrees with me). It’s that upright style that has apparently made him injury prone, but he’s a special back and they don’t come along that often. The big question for re-draft leagues like the EFFL will be if he’s ready to go by the end of the season. He’s worth a flyer, but just don’t get carried away. In MFL redraft leagues he’s going around pick 44 just behind Melvin Gordon III. That’s too high for me. A value pick for him will be around the the 80 mark, but you’ll probably need to squirrel him away for the playoffs.
1(15) Melvin Gordon III Chargers He’ll be the starter and that immediately makes him valuable. He’s currently going at pick 42 in MFL leagues. That seems fair to me and he’s likely to outshine Gurley this season. Don’t be put of by the Wisconsin label, he’s the best back to come out of that program.
2(36) T.J. Yeldon Jaguars Teams give away a lot during the draft and this pick says two things. They’re moving on from Toby Gerhart and secondly the don’t completely trust Denard Robinson to carry the load. He’ll have a chance to start and behind a revamped line he’ll have value….but whoa there! Its still Jacksonville and an ADP at 71 seems a bit high to me. 80-90 seems safer,but hey I’m the bum who was burnt by Gerhart last year!/td>
2(54) Ameer Abdullah Lions A real favourite among some analysts who feel he’s a star in waiting. A smaller back who runs big. He’ll not beat out Joique Bell, but he’ll see work if he can show he can pass block. His current ADP is 103. I’d be cautious here with the competition and an ADP at 180-190 seems safer to me.
3(73) Tevin Coleman Falcons Watch some videos of Tevin Coleman….trust me you’ll enjoy them. Is it translatable to the NFL? Probably not, but he’s loved and loathed equally by analysts. He’ll compete for a starting job with Devonta Freeman. Worth monitoring during the offseason as his boom or bust style may bring fantasy reward. Current ADP is 80 but training camp will give us a clearer picture.
3(77) Duke Johnson Browns He’s a really good back, but the whole situation in Cleveland for RBs just isn’t clear enough. Given how high this pick is it says something about how the Browns feel about Crowell and West and there is a good chance he becomes the #1 early. But, be wary it stinks of RBBC. His ADP is 86, but 90-120 seems more sensible.
3(86) David Johnson Cardinals He’s been brought in as the bigger back compliment to Andre Ellington so we can probably expect a RBBC in Arizona this year. He’s an excellent receiver and that’s always a big plus point for RBs, but he’s not the most dynamic runner. His current ADP is 103 and that’s a fair assessment.
3(95) Matt Jones Redskins A chain mover of a RB. Absolutely necessary in the NFL, but it’ll be a surprise if he beats out Alfred Morris. His current ADP is 159 and as a handcuff for the uninspiring Morris is that really worth it?
4(106) Jeremy Langford Bears More of a depth pick than starter material. He has 3rd down skills, but he’s not likely to see much action because of Forte. His current ADP is 160.
4(108) Jalston Fowler Titans He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
4(125) Javorius Allen Ravens A very interesting pick. Given the injury history of Justin Forsett it may not be long before we see Allen starting. A worthwhile pick-up and handcuff. His ADP at 140 reflects this.
4(126) Mike Davis 49ers Davis’ position is very similar to Allen, but he’s not half the back he is. His ADP is at 142 and as a backup and handcuff that’s only worth it if you actually believe in the 49ers running game this year.
5(138) David Cobb Titans Personally I think he should beat out the pedestrian Shone Greene and Bishop Sankey for this starting job. His ADP at 93 reflects that hope….but this is Tennessee we’re talking about.
5(149) Jay Ajayi Dolphins Good back, bad knees. The Dolphins don’t think Miller can carry a franchise running load. Londoner Ajayi is worth a punt especially in a good running game, but an ADP at 77 seems a little high to me.
5(155) Karlos Williams Bills A safety to running back convert in college and as you’d expect he’s not quite got the instincts for the position. Very impressive numbers, but expect him to learn his position and rarely see action.
5(168) Michael Burton Lions He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
5(174) Cameron Artis-Payne Panthers A decent all-round back who may see time later in the year. His current ADP at 176 is probably a little high considering the competition he’ll have for a starting role especially if Jonathan Stewart is injured.
6(205) Josh Robinson Colts A big plodding back who’s unlikely to beat out Gore or Herron. ADP at 176 is reasonable.
6(206) Aaron Ripkowski Packers He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
7(230) Marcus Murphy Saints A scat-back type. He’ll be useful in the Saints offense, but probably not enough to draft him this year. He’s not being drafted in MFL league.
7(231) Joey Iosefa Buccaneers He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
7(235) Kenny Hilliard Texans Nephew of ex-NFL RB Dalton Hilliard and a top high school recruit. A power runner, but he just doesn’t have the speed or agility to make it in the NFL.
udfa() Terrence Magee Ravens A camp body
udfa() Terrell Watson Bengals A camp body
udfa() Ross Scheuerman Steelers Julian Edelman mkII?
udfa() Corey Grant Jaguars A special teamer…perhaps kick returner
udfa() Tyler Varga Colts He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
udfa() Gus Johnson Raiders A camp body
udfa() Akeem Hunt Giants Probably get a chance as a kick returner first.
udfa() Raheem Mostert Eagles Kick returner and special teams standout
udfa() Trey Williams Washington Small back with kick return ability
udfa() Alonzo Harris Packers Big back probably has opportunity to stick as a power runner.
udfa() Dominique Brown Buccaneers A good player who’s work ethic has been questioned….will that change in the NFL?
udfa() Paul Lasike Cardinals New Zealander….but he’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
udfa() Thomas Rawls Seahawks He’s talented enough to be in the NFL, but it’s character concerns that have him in the undrafted section of this list.
udfa() Rod Smith Seahawks Another big back with a lot of mileage for the Seahawks.
udfa() Mark Weisman Bengals He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
udfa() Ryan Mueller Chargers He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
udfa() Zach Laskey Rams He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
udfa() Luke Lundy Browns He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
udfa() Cameron Stingily Steelers He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
udfa() Abou Toure Colts A camp body
udfa() Connor Neighbors Titans He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
udfa() Michael Dyer Raiders A camp body
udfa() Dreamius Smith Chargers A camp body
udfa() Desmond Martin Lions A camp body
udfa() Zach Zenner Lions Dominant small school back.
udfa() John Crockett Packers Chance to make a team as depth.
udfa() Blake Renaud Vikings He’s a fullback…..you don’t need him for fantasy.
udfa() Synjyn Days Cowboys A camp body
udfa() Kenneth Harper Giants A camp body
udfa() Jacquise Lockett Washington A camp body
udfa() Terron Ward Falcons A camp body
udfa() Lee Ward Panthers A camp body
udfa() Brandon Wegher Panthers Older, but talented prospect.
udfa() Malcolm Brown Rams Chance to make a team as depth.
udfa() Terrence Franks Rams A camp body

Wide Receivers

Selection Name Team Outlook
1(4) Amari Cooper Raiders Current ADP between 31 and 87. Made some very average Alabama QBs look NFL ready.
1(7) Kevin White Bears Current ADP between 33 and 89. One year wonder, but should do well with Cutler
1(14) DeVante Parker Dolphins Current ADP between 44 and 118. Mixed reception from analysts who feel he’ll struggle to get off line of scrimmage. Welcome to the AFC East!
1(20) Nelson Agholor Eagles Current ADP between 58 and 175. Value has shot up since going to the Eagles where logic says he’ll get opportunities to shine.
1(26) Breshad Perriman Ravens Current ADP between 53 and 174. Great deep threat and joining one of the best deep passers in the NFL…..has drop issues.
1(29) Phillip Dorsett Colts Current ADP between 88 and 219. No doubting the talent but, the wide ranging ADP says everything. Will he have opportunities in a crowded Colt WR stable never mind passing game?
2(37) Devin Smith Jets Current ADP between 173 and 276. Deep threat with scary speed. A pick for next year.
2(40) Dorial Green-Beckham Titans Current ADP between 62 and 123. Talent and potential, but hasn’t played football for a year.
2(41) Devin Funchess Panthers Current ADP between 112 and 190. Should do well with Newton, but will have to share red zone opportunities with Kelvin Benjamin.
3(69) Tyler Lockett Seahawks Current ADP between 146 and 252. Tiny but elusive receiver. Will probably get spot action and kick return opportunities.
3(70) Jaelen Strong Texans Current ADP between 85 and 166. Should start early in his career, but DeAndre Hopkins is #1 in Houston and poor QB play should limit his potential.
3(76) Chris Conley Chiefs Current ADP between 182 and 242. I like Conley….and he’s part of a complete overhaul of a joke WR corp.
3(87) Sammie Coates Steelers Current ADP between 137 and 202. Needs a lot of development and given the WR talent in Pittsburgh he shouldn’t feel too much pressure to start.
3(94) Ty Montgomery Packers Current ADP around 140. A return specialist who’ll be introduced slowly to the offense. Doubts about his skill as a receiver might not matter as he’s catching passes from Aaron Rodgers.
4(105) Jamison Crowder Washington Current ADP around 351. Small wide receiver.
4(107) Justin Hardy Falcons Current ADP between 185 and 278. Small wide receiver, likely to replace Harry Douglas.
4(123) Vince Mayle Browns Current ADP around 327. Raw prospect who probably shouldn’t contribute this year. Expect the Browns to have him starting, struggling and failing by week 3.
4(132) DeAndre Smelter 49ers Current ADP around 324. Suffered ACL before draft. Very good prospect if he recovers.
5(139) Rashad Greene Jaguars Current ADP between 214 and 284.
5(146) Stefon Diggs Vikings Current ADP between 179 and 245.
5(156) Tony Lippett Dolphins Current ADP around 400.
5(159) J.J. Nelson Cardinals Current ADP around 700.
5(162) Kenny Bell Buccaneers Current ADP between 277 and 299.
5(175) Keith Mumphery Texans Current ADP around 702.
6(184) Kaelin Clay Buccaneers Current ADP around 492.
6(186) Geremy Davis Giants Current ADP around 515.
6(187) Evan Spencer Redskins Current ADP around 791.
6(201) Bud Sasser Rams Current ADP around 764.
6(204) Darren Waller Ravens Current ADP around 263.
7(220) Neal Sterling Jaguars Current ADP around 794.
7(221) Andre Debose Raiders Current ADP around 518.
7(233) Da’Ron Brown Chiefs Current ADP around 464.
7(234) Dezmin Lewis Bills Current ADP around 659.
7(238) Mario Alford Bengals Current ADP around 419.
7(245) Tre McBride Titans Current ADP between 213 and 279.
udfa() Cameron Meredith Bears not draftable
udfa() Levi Norwood Bears not draftable
udfa() Andre Davis Bills not draftable
udfa() Christion Jones Dolphins not draftable
udfa() Nigel King Dolphins not draftable
udfa() Devin Gardner Patriots not draftable
udfa() Chris Harper Patriots not draftable
udfa() DeAndre Carter Ravens not draftable
udfa() Cam Worthy Ravens not draftable
udfa() Jake Kumerow Bengals Son of former NFL 1st round pick Eric Kumerow.
udfa() Tyler Murphy Steelers not draftable
udfa() Eli Rogers Steelers not draftable
udfa() Quan Bray Colts not draftable
udfa() Ezekiel Ruffin Colts not draftable
udfa() Matt Miller Broncos not draftable
udfa() Jordan Taylor Broncos not draftable
udfa() Josh Harper Raiders not draftable
udfa() Milton Williams Raiders not draftable
udfa() Titus Davis Chargers not draftable
udfa() Tyrell Williams Chargers not draftable
udfa() Demetrious Wilson Chargers not draftable
udfa() Rasheed Bailey Eagles not draftable
udfa() Devante Davis Eagles not draftable
udfa() John Harris Eagles not draftable
udfa() Reggie Bell Washington not draftable
udfa() Tony Jones Washington not draftable
udfa() Tyler Rutenbeck Washington not draftable
udfa() Javess Blue Packers not draftable
udfa() Adrian Coxson Packers not draftable
udfa() Jimmy Hunt Packers not draftable
udfa() Ricky Collins Packers not draftable
udfa() Larry Pinkard Packers not draftable
udfa() Marquez Clark Falcons not draftable
udfa() Joshua Stangby Falcons not draftable
udfa() Shane Wynn Falcons not draftable
udfa() R J Harris Saints not draftable
udfa() Malcolme Kennedy Saints not draftable
udfa() Rannell Hall Buccaneers not draftable
udfa() Josh Reese Buccaneers not draftable
udfa() Trevor Harman Cardinals not draftable
udfa() Damond Powell Cardinals not draftable
udfa() Jaxon Shipley Cardinals not draftable
udfa() Isiah Ferguson Rams not draftable
udfa() Bradley Marquez Rams not draftable
udfa() Tyler Slavin Rams not draftable
udfa() Dres Anderson 49ers not draftable
udfa() Isaac Blakeney 49ers not draftable
udfa() DiAndre Campbell 49ers not draftable
udfa() Darius Davis 49ers not draftable
udfa() DeAndrew White 49ers not draftable
udfa() Austin Hill Seahawks not draftable
udfa() Paul Browning Browns not draftable
udfa() Darius Jennings Browns not draftable
udfa() Chandler Worthy Texans not draftable
udfa() Kasey Closs Jaguars not draftable
udfa() Deon Long Titans not draftable
udfa() Andrew Turzilli Titans not draftable
udfa() Kenny Cook Chiefs not draftable
udfa() Donatella Luckett Chiefs not draftable
udfa() Austin Willis Raiders not draftable
udfa() Tony Pierson Bears not draftable
udfa() Vernon Johnson Lions not draftable
udfa() Erik Lora Lions not draftable
udfa() Jared Haggins Lions not draftable
udfa() Davaris Daniels Vikings not draftable
udfa() Isaac Fruechte Vikings not draftable
udfa() Jordan Leslie Vikings not draftable
udfa() Gavin Lutman Vikings not draftable
udfa() George Farmer Cowboys not draftable
udfa() Antwan Goodley Cowboys not draftable
udfa() Nick Harwell Cowboys not draftable
udfa() Lucky Whitehead Cowboys not draftable
udfa() Deontay Greenberry Cowboys not draftable
udfa() Quinton Dunbar Washington not draftable
udfa() Damiere Byrd Panthers not draftable
udfa() Donteea Dye Buccaneers not draftable
udfa() Adam Humpries Buccaneers not draftable

Tight Ends

Selection Name Team Outlook
2(55) Maxx Williams Ravens Current ADP between 122 and 132. It’s tough for rookie TEs to succeed immediately and despite the great situation Williams finds himself in don’t expect too much. That ADP of 10th round seems fair to me.
3(68) Clive Walford Raiders Current ADP between 207 and 234.
3(85) Tyler Kroft Bengals Good player and will have opportunities especially with Eiferts continued injury problems, but probably not draftable
3(92) Jeff Heuerman Broncos Good pass catching TE. Probably not draftable
4(117) Blake Bell 49ers not draftable
5(143) MyCole Pruitt Vikings not draftable
5(157) C.J. Uzomah Bengals not draftable
5(160) Jesse James Steelers not draftable
5(171) Nick Boyle Ravens not draftable
5(173) James O’Shaughnessy Chiefs not draftable
6(194) Nick O’Leary Bills not draftable
6(195) Malcolm Johnson Browns not draftable
6(198) Randall Telfer Browns not draftable
6(202) A.J. Derby Patriots not draftable
6(213) Kennard Backman Packers not draftable
7(229) Ben Koyack Jaguars not draftable
7(246) Geoff Swaim Cowboys not draftable
7(254) Rory Anderson 49ers not draftable
7(256) Gerald Christian Cardinals not draftable
udfa() Brian Vogler Bears not draftable
udfa() Clay Burton Bills not draftable
udfa() Wes Saxton Jets not draftable
udfa() Matt Lengel Bengals not draftable
udfa() Cameron Clear Steelers not draftable
udfa() Connor Hamlett Jaguars not draftable
udfa() Jean Sifrin Colts not draftable
udfa() Justin Sinz Colts not draftable
udfa() Gabe Holmes Raiders not draftable
udfa() Eric Frohnapel Chargers not draftable
udfa() Brian Parker Chargers not draftable
udfa() Matt LaCosse Giants not draftable
udfa() Andrew Gleichert Eagles not draftable
udfa() Eric Tomlinson Eagles not draftable
udfa() Justin Tukes Eagles not draftable
udfa() Devin Mahina Washington not draftable
udfa() Mitchell Henry Packers not draftable
udfa() Beau Gardner Falcons not draftable
udfa() Harold Spears Saints not draftable
udfa() Jack Tabb Saints not draftable
udfa() Gannon Sinclair Cardinals not draftable
udfa() Emmanuel Bibbs Browns not draftable
udfa() Kevin Haplea Browns not draftable
udfa() Khari Lee Texans not draftable
udfa() Mike McFarland Texans not draftable
udfa() Tim Semisch Dolphins not draftable
udfa() Manasseh Garner Chiefs not draftable
udfa() Casey Pierce Lions not draftable
udfa() Ray Hamilton Cowboys not draftable
udfa() Will Tye Giants not draftable

Placekickers

Selection Name Team Outlook
udfa() Andrew Franks Dolphins Camp body
udfa() Tom Obarski Bengals Camp body
udfa() Josh Lembo Chargers Camp body
udfa() Ty Long Washington Camp body
udfa() Jeremiah Detmer Bears Camp body
udfa() Justin Manton Ravens Camp body
udfa() Mike Meyer Titans Camp body
udfa() Kyle Brindza Lions Camp body
udfa() Kip Smith Eagles Camp body

Drafting for Success- Kickers and Defenses

I’m back with the fifth and final installment of Drafting for success. This time we’ll discuss the unpredictable and often overlooked last two starting spots on your fantasy team- kickers and defenses/special teams (DST).

You can read my previous articles on running backs, quarterbackswide receivers and tight ends on this blog.

It’s one of the fantasy football ten commandments that you shouldn’t draft either of these two positions early and that even goes for NFL kickers who play fantasy football! But here at Drafting for success we’re not put off by standard thinking. Today we’re going to dig a little deeper and see if we can spot any trends or nuggets of information that might give us a fantasy advantage.

We’ll start with kickers who despite their lowly status regularly score in excess of 90 points in a 13 week season- the equivalent of a RB3/4 score. This would appear to make kicker an important selection for a fantasy owner. The common wisdom for this position is to select a player on a winning team and even better a winning team with a top offense.

A closer look at the top 12 kickers last year generally agrees with that assumption. However, the presence of Buffalo’s Dan Carpenter and Houston’s Randy Bullock last year; Justin Tucker, Dan Carpenter (again), Jay Feely and Nick Folk in 2013; and Jason Hanson, Sebastian Janikowski and Phil Dawson in 2012 all point to a slightly different set of  attributes that may be determining the scoring leaders.

New Orleans are actually one of the important cases in showing why a top offense isn’t always a good home for a kicker. Over the last 3 years their offense has ranked 9th, 10th and 3rd in total offense, 10th, 11th and 3rd in scoring and 12th, 3rd and 10th in % of scoring drives, but their kickers have ranked just 12th, 19th and 17th. On the other side of the coin we have Dan Carpenter who’s part of an offence that’s ranked 25th, 19th and 19th over the last 3 years, but he’s still managed to break the top ten.

What the Saints kicker have to their advantage is being part of a great offense, but with a highly efficient red zone offense comes less opportunity. Saints kickers have had some of the lowest number of FG attempts in the league in the last 3 years (let’s call it the Jimmy Graham effect). Add to that a below average kicking accuracy and you have a recipe for a below average kicking unit. Conversely we have Dan Carpenter who suffers on a poor offense, but his skill and their reliance on that ability mean he sees a lot of work and makes it count.

What we have in effect here is a combination of 3 attributes that affect our kickers success. Finding a kicker who can answer at least 2 of those attributes ‘should’ guarantee you at least a top 12 finish.

  • Great offense
  • Accurate kicker
  • Large number of opportunities

One name does stand out over the last 3 years- Stephen Gostkowski has been the top fantasy football kicker from 2012-2014 and combines a rare blend of accurate kicking, great offense and large number of opportunities.

Therefore does it make sense to pick Gostkowski in round 9 before everyone else and take the positional point advantage?

It would be an option, but the difference in points per game is usually under 3pts and falls to just 2 points per game between the no1 and no12 ranked kickers. Therefore the difference between the no1 kicker and the no12 isn’t worth sacrificing the equivalent no20-30 WR or RB or no12 TE.

A further disadvantage with the kicker position is the large variance in weekly scoring. As I’ve spoken about in the previous Drafting for Success articles, success isn’t measured in total points a player scores rather your success at selecting players who score consistently or above average due to good match-ups.

The table below shows the consistency of each of the top 31 kickers in the league. Blue indicates a game better than 12.1 pts. Green is a game between 12.1 and 9.8 pts. Light green is a game between 9.8 and 8.7 pts. Gold is a game between 8.7 and 6.5 pts. Pink is a game below 6.5 points but better than 3.1 points. Games in red are where the kicker scored less than 3.1 points or missed that particular game (byes not included).

Kicker Scoring Consistency

kickerconsist

What the chart shows  is the highly inconsistent nature of kickers with even the best having a few stinkers. What is also frustrating for a coach is that a kicker having a good game relies on his offense being good….but not too good. What you need is consistent offensive production with poor red zone efficiency and that’s a little too deep for this article and really anyone to predict with any accuracy.

Another problem we have is beyond the top 5 or 6 guys things get really inconsistent and that leads us to the common thread throughout these articles. It’s not the total score your looking for its picking the weekly match-ups which bring you success. Which brings us to our conclusion on kickers, yes there are players you can rely on, but they’re not worth drafting high as the inconsistency of the position and the availability of replacements will likely burn any owner picking one before the 11th round

That then brings to the second part of our article. Where kickers are in equal part frustrating and unpredictable at least they produce points. Defense/Special Teams on the other hand are probably the least consistent position in fantasy football not just on a season by season basis, but play by play.

There’s a great quote from the advanced stats site Football Outsiders of which we should take heed-

Offense is more consistent from year to year than defense, and offensive performance is easier to project than defensive performance. Special teams are less consistent than either.

This is one of the main reasons why they’re drafted in the last round. Trying to find a DST that maintains consistency from week to week is hard enough never mind from year to year. If we just look at the top 10 fantasy DST’s from 2011-2014 an average of 50% of those in each year return to the top 10 in a subsequent year.

Top 10 Fantasy Defense/Special teams 2011-2014

2014 2013 2012 2011
Eagles Chiefs Bears 49ers
Bills Seahawks Broncos Bears
Texans Panthers Seahawks Ravens
Dolphins Bengals Patriots Lions
Cardinals Cardinals Bengals Jets
Rams 49ers Chargers Packers
Packers Rams 49ers Seahawks
Patriots Bills Texans Eagles
Vikings Patriots Rams Patriots
Colts Colts Cardinals Texans

In many cases coaches play a damage limitation exercise with their choice of defense or attempt to stream defenses against some of the poorer offenses in the league on a weekly basis. Both strategies have there merits and certainly the streaming option becomes more difficult when more coaches participate in that strategy.

However, a canny coach can find a considerable weekly advantage if they can pick a high scoring defense/special teams each week and the payout can be very high in some cases. A large number of games in the EFFL were swung on defensive performances. Therefore getting a handle on a effective strategy for this position is a MUST.

The table below shows the weekly performance of defenses in the league for each of the 13 regular season games. Blue indicates a game better than 13.5 pts. Green is a game between 13.5 and 10.2 pts. Light green is a game between 10.2 and 8.6 pts. Gold is a game between 8.6 and 5.4 pts. Pink is a game below 5.4 points but better than 3.7 points. Games in red are where the DST scored less than 3.7 points but more than 0.4 points. Games in black are where the DST scored less than 0.4 points. Byes are shown in gold.

Defense/Special Teams scoring consistency

dst_2

What the table shows is the huge variation in week to week scoring for even the high scoring defenses (except perhaps the Bills and Texans). Of course some of that variation can be explained by the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, but for every instance of that there’s a 31st ranked Jets fantasy defense scoring 14 points against an offense that scored 94 points against defenses ranked 10th and 12th in the league.

And this is the main problem with trying to predict, draft and determine which defense/special teams is a good choice for your roster. Not only are you not guaranteed consistent performance, but picking from last years top performers is also a bit of a lottery.

Let’s go back to the quote we had at the beginning of the DST section particularly this section-

Offense is more consistent from year to year than defense, and offensive performance is easier to project than defensive performance

If that’s a given then perhaps its a better idea to find poor offenses than good defenses. Does that improve our weekly predictions for DST scoring?

In 2014 the 5 worst NFL offenses were Jacksonville, Oakland, Tennessee, Tampa Bay and the Jets.

The 5 offenses giving away the most fantasy points per game were Jacksonville, St. Louis, Washington, Tampa Bay and Tennessee. The Jets and Oakland gave away the 8th and 11th most fantasy points to opposition DST. Washington and St.Louis were ranked 26th and 21st respectively, but both ranked highly in turnovers.

In 2013 the 5 worst teams painted a similar picture- Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, St. Louis, Baltimore and the Giants were the worst offenses in the league. The Giants, Texans, Jets, Vikings and Redskins were the most generous to DST’s that year.

and it was a similar picture in both 2012, 2011 and 2010….but I think you’re getting the picture.

So in conclusion I’m not advocating any startling changes to your strategy when it comes to Kickers and DST’s, but here’s our 2 pearls of wisdom for them.

  • Draft Kickers in round 11 and DSTs in round 12- kickers are (slightly) more valuable than DST’s
  • You should try to stream DST’s against the weaker and turnover prone offenses.

……but you knew this already!