Perfect Draft Series: Drafting 6th in a 12-Team PPR League

Perfect Draft Series: Drafting 6th in a 12-Team PPR League

By TJ Hernandez (Associate Editor), last updated Sep 12, 2016

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TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.

Follow TJ on Twitter: @TJHernandez.

This season, has brought back the Draft Analyzer software, one of the most powerful drafting tools available today. Draft Analyzer already comes preloaded with John Paulsen’s award-winning projections for 4for4 subscribers, and the software uses those projections to create rankings based on your league's nuances. In addition to rankings customized for your specific league settings, Draft Analyzer adjusts its suggestions dynamically throughout your draft based on position scarcity and outputs an optimal draft plan tailored specifically to your needs.

The most unique and exciting feature of Draft Analyzer is the ability to customize your draft plan and identify players that you want to target and avoid. You can specify the rounds that you want to draft certain positions and add players to your target or avoid list. Players on your avoid list will be removed from Draft Analyzer’s suggestions and targeted players will be highlighted as their ADP approaches, even if Draft Analyzer doesn’t consider that player an optimal pick.

For this draft, I will be picking from the six hole in a 12-team PPR league that starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB/WR/TE Flex, 1 DST, and 1 Kicker with six bench spots. QB and TE are capped at two per roster and no team can select more than one DST or kicker.

Here are the restraints that I built into my draft plan:

  • Quarterbacks: No QB before round 10 - I am usually an advocate of the late-round QB approach, but even more so this year. With just 20 projected fantasy points separating the QB8 and QB21, spending up for a QB is a suboptimal plan.
  • Running Backs: No RB before Round 3 - Earlier in the summer, Joe Holka explained why the Zero-RB approach might be the optimal draft strategy, especially in this league format. While I usually take this method to the extreme, I intended to tone it down some in this draft to see what kind of magic Draft Analyzer can work on its own.
  • Tight Ends: No TE before Round 10 - The opportunity cost of drafting a tight end, especially in a league where I can start six running backs and wide receivers, always makes me hesitant to invest much in a position where there is always a surplus of replacement-level talent on the waiver wire.
  • DST and Kicker: Always in the last two rounds.
  • Target List: Giovani Bernard and Torrey Smith - These two players have as much potential as anyone in the league to smash their draft-day price. Assuming I’m able to land them, I will elaborate once I draft them.
  • Avoid List: Empty. Every player becomes a value at some point in the draft and I want to be sure that I am notified when those values become available.

Draft Analyzer in Action

Round 1, Pick 6, 6th Overall - A.J. Green, WR, Bengals

With the no running back restraint built in, Draft Analyzer suggested A.J. Green as the sixth overall pick, and I agree. The departure of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones left over 30 percent of the Bengals’ targets from last season vacated. Green is already one of the most heavily targeted wide receivers in the league, but without a clear number-two option and Tyler Eifert questionable to start the season, the sixth-year wideout could be one of the few players to see at least 30 percent of his team’s targets, a target share only seen by three receivers in 2015.


Round 2, Pick 7, 18th Overall - Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears

For the second time in two rounds, Draft Analyzer and I are in tune, both favoring Alshon here. When active last season, Jeffery accounted for 30.8 percent of the Bears’ targets and 34.8 percent of all red zone looks, numbers that would have ranked fourth and second, respectively, over the entire season. 

Like Green, Jeffery is one of the few receivers that can flirt with top-three target volume, making him a fantastic second-round value. Some might worry about Kevin White cutting into Alshon’s workload, but Jeffery has already shown that he can dominate the targets with Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett on his team -- White is not a major concern for me. Remember, we should always target targets, especially in PPR leagues. 


Round 3, Pick 6, 30th Overall - Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills

Draft Analyzer wanted me to start building my running back core and recommended LeSean McCoy here, but the prospects of adding a big-play receiver to my dominant duo was too intriguing to pass up. Sammy Watkins isn’t a receiver that I want to anchor my team with, as I prefer the wideouts at the top of my roster to rely on target volume rather than splash plays. Last season, Watkins saw less than eight targets in half of the games that he played and was only targeted in the red zone nine times all year. He is also one of just 10 receivers over the last three season who has seen at least a quarter of his PPR production come from touchdowns outside of the red zone.

As my third receiver, though, I welcome Watkins' volatility and upside, which he displayed over the final six weeks of 2015 when only three receivers scored more PPR points. The fact that Watkins catches passes from Tyrod Taylor, who was one of the most efficient passers in the league last year, also mitigates my consistency concerns to some degree.


Round 4, Pick 7, 43rd Overall - Eric Decker, WR, Jets

I didn’t plan to go crazy with receivers early in the draft, but I guess I can’t help it if I wanted to. Draft Analyzer’s choice here was Danny Woodhead, but no running back is expected to regress more in the touchdown column this year and the fourth round is just a touch too expensive for me to buy Woody.

With Decker, I get arguably the most consistent wide receiver in the game (and easily the best jawline). Decker gained 80 yards or scored a touchdown in every game last season, led the league in red zone targets, and only Dez Bryant has converted a higher percentage of his career red zone targets into scores (minimum 40 targets). By rostering Decker, I have the potential to start four top-15 wide receivers every week, and fantasy football is a race to win the flex.

Continue reading round-by-round analysis and the RBs chosen for this Zero RB team.

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Filed Under: Preseason, 2016

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