Draft Strategy: NFFC RotoWire Online Championship Review

Draft Strategy: NFFC RotoWire Online Championship Review

This article is part of our Fantasy Football Draft Strategy series.

The $250K grand prize, 12-team PPR contest, otherwise known as the NFFC RotoWire Online Championship, took place Sunday. Scoring rules are fairly standard in this format, though passing touchdowns reward six points instead of the typical four. The NFFC does a lot of things right when it comes to drafts, including the ability to order your preferred draft slot. I've mentioned on a number of different platforms that I'd much prefer an earlier draft spot as opposed to later because the tier breakdown feels relatively similar to me in the 8-14 range and again in the 40-50 range. Inexplicably, I ended up with the No. 8 pick, second to last in my pick order. Suffice to say, it'll be tall order to replicate my feats from last year where I finished among the top 450 contestants. Here's how the draft broke down and an overall image of the draft board below.

1.8 - Najee Harris

I was really hoping a curveball would happen among the top seven, but alas this was a relatively normal draft. While the order of the first seven does seem to change draft to draft, it's becoming increasingly clear there's an obvious tier that ends at Ja'Marr Chase. I definitely considered Derrick Henry, even in a full-point PPR format and I also contemplated Joe Mixon who I figured might have a chance to make it back to me in the second.

Ultimately I went with Harris, who I think has the slightest of edges over both of those guys in full-point PPR. I know there have been reports about the second-year star losing snaps throughout the season, but much like the chatter regarding Austin Ekeler, I think that can only be a positive sign.

I'd be shocked if Harris finishes anywhere near 94 targets like he had last season, but I'd expect his efficiency to rise incrementally with a dramatically over-the-hill Ben Roethlisberger no longer puttering out pathetic checkdowns. Sure, Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett is hardly an inspiring replacement duo, but I do think the rushing element can unlock a bit more in the Pittsburgh offense.

2.5 - Aaron Jones

I didn't plan on taking running backs with back-to-back picks, but once the ever-astute Joe Gelsomino snapped up the Cowboys pass catcher, I felt backed into a corner. I took Travis Kelce No. 11 overall in a NFFC 50 (think bestball, but only top two pay out) and I liked the way in which that roster turned out, but I was relatively certain that I could get a TE with the third-round reversal and was less certain a RB I liked (Jones, Leonard Fournette, Travis Etienne) would fall back to me. Chalk that up as one of the few times I correctly predicted how the draft would unfold.

Provided Jones plays at least 15 games, I fully anticipate the sixth-year back far exceeding his career high in receptions (52) while still toting the ball about 200 times. AJ Dillon finally took a step forward last season, particularly in the red zone, but Jones is still one of the team's top goal-line producers and seems locked in to 10-plus scores. And what happens if the 27-year-old is used more as a receiver? Most rightfully cap his upside given Jones' injury history, but this is one of the few players in the 12-26 range I think could be grossly mis-projected.

3.5 - Kyle Pitts

I was a little surprised to see Mark Andrews go in mid-second (though I would have made the same choice), so I was pleasantly surprised Pitts made it back. I know I should want this pick back given how the rest of the draft went, but I firmly believe Pitts is essentially a WR1 that's not being valued how he should because of the position. Michael Pittman, Tee Higgins and Keenan Allen would have been preferable if I prioritized proper roster construction, but they seem far more like "comfortable floor" guys relative to the absurd ceiling I think Pitts possesses. At the very least, every argument one could make for the aforementioned WR trio far exceeding their draft slots would be one I could easily make for Pitts, and that's ignoring what almost has to be a positive in the touchdown-regression category.

4.8 - Jaylen Waddle

Here began a run of bad fortune. In some ways, I'm happy Waddle was even available given 10 WRs were picked in the 14 selections after Pitts (including a fourth-round Michael Thomas sighting!). I would have much preferred DK Metcalf instead, but the second-year Dolphins wideout is in the same range as the Pittman/Higgins/Allen trio for me in terms of "comfortable floor," but was available a round later. No, I'm not buying the Tua Tagovailoa hype, but I do think it's fair to say that whatever limitations you think he has, they will become less of an issue with both Tyreek Hill and Waddle to target. DraftKings Sportsbook has Waddle's o/u reception total at 85.5. If he gets close to that number and maintains a similar efficiency to last year, this is a win.

5.5 - Justin Herbert

I absolutely despise the 5th-6th round in redrafts and that was true to form here. Even though RotoWire colleague Mario Puig and I talked about this EXACT scenario on the Sirius XM show on Friday, I was still stunned to see Herbert available in the fifth. We're talking about a format that awards six points per passing touchdown and a QB projected for the highest o/u total on DraftKings (36.5 for anyone curious). As much as I know I should have went WR, I just can't get upset at the choice. The fact Chris Godwin and Elijah Moore went before my next selection was just flat out unlucky, but I continue to maintain Herbert's ceiling could be league winning, especially in this format.

6.8 - George Kittle

If you're feeling a bit of deja vu, you're not wrong. I made this exact choice last year, only with Kittle going early and Pitts getting selected in the sixth. Once again this just ended up being too much value for a guy who, if he stays healthy (yes, I know, big if), will easily be a top-5 scorer at his position. I did this same type of thing in the RotoWire Vegas draft a couple of weeks ago much to the chagrin of my fellow drafters — I refuse to allow others to benefit from tremendous positional value even if it comes as the supposed expense of my roster. That I doubled down on TE instead of QB deserves a pat on the back! It's worth pointing out you can't make any trades in this type of format, but the wide receivers taken after didn't entice me enough anyhow.

7.5 - Drake London

I think I made a mistake here. Or at least it's very clear to see the error with hindsight. I doubt anyone would have been really scared off due to the rookie's downplayed knee injury, but considering I already have Pitts, I've suddenly committed an awful lot of resources to an offense that I think, best-case scenario, finishes in the 18-20 range. Don't get me wrong, London's upside to me is on par with a bunch of guys that went in the fifth round, but I would have preferred to roll the dice with Allen Lazard or Christian Kirk and hope London fell. The stakes are too high in the NFFC for a bunch of chumps to be playing so I shouldn't have assumed I could get two of the three, but in hindsight I played this wrong.

8.8 - Rashaad Penny

I was fuming that Lazard and Kirk were both gone by the end of the seventh, but Penny here is a nice consolation. The Seahawks are going to have one of the worst offenses in the NFL, but if they don't it's because Penny continued his absurd pace to end last season. Pete Carroll is going to do a lot of dumb things, so this is by no means a sure thing, but I won't entertain any conversations about the 2018 first-round pick losing time to Kenneth Walker, if both are healthy. What's that, Penny missed Saturday's preseason game with a groin injury? Uh ... just chastise my other picks instead. 

9.5 - Robert Woods

If I hadn't lost it prior to this pick, all wits were just about gone by this point. To see Chris Olave go DIRECTLY after Penny — almost two full rounds ahead of his ADP on NFFC — felt like an absolute gut punch considering I had basically penciled the rookie down as my WR3. I shouldn't be so upset because Woods is a comfortable, safe option who figures to be a major target hog while Treylon Burks works through his rookie warts, but it's hardly the league-winning upside I was hoping for had Olave been there.

10.8 - Rondale Moore

It's weird to think about a handcuff WR, but what if Marquise Brown's hamstring is worse than the Cardinals seem to be letting on? Even if Brown is healthy, we just saw last year how effective Christian Kirk was — a role that I think is almost guaranteed to be occupied by Moore. This is a classic case of post-hype sleeper and Moore is too talented for Kliff Kingsbury or Kyler Murray — whoever is calling plays in Arizona — to misuse two years in a row.

11.5 - James Robinson

I really like a bunch of the RBs in this range. Whether it's Cordarrelle Patterson, Rachaad White, Nyheim Hines or Robinson, there's a ton of depth available as a RB3/4. I think I was clouded a bit by my numerous Underdog drafts, which has this tier of RBs all over the place. I'm not entirely sure how I would have done things differently — maybe no Penny even though I love the upside — but it's one of the reasons I'm more comfortable than ever taking WRs often within my first four rounds.

12.8 - DeVante Parker

"Oh, I need way more WR depth. Let's just get someone I like higher on the que and then I can get Romeo Doubs with my next pick. He's buried sooo far down there, everyone will forget," said a totally stupid and frustrated fantasy expert ...

13.5 - Jamaal Williams

The most infuriating part about this flub is I KNOW BETTER. If you like someone, eschew ADP and just get your guy, ESPECIALLY in the later rounds of a draft. My strategy probably would have worked in a typical friends-and-family draft (though not one in Wisconsin), but this is the NFFC — some of the sharpest minds in the fantasy industry play these contests daily. It's an inexplicably dumb move that truthfully as a Packers fan, I hope comes back to haunt me. For what it's worth, Williams might be bad, but the Lions gave him a ton of work last year and I can't imagine that changes with D'Andre Swift always an injury risk.

14.8 - Kirk Cousins

I don't really see the difference between Cousins and Derek Carr and Matthew Stafford, both drafted in R12. The vaccination issue shouldn't be a problem now either with Cousins. Rare W for me even if it comes in the form of backup QB depth.

15.5 - San Francisco D

Best defense for Weeks 1 and 2.

16.8 - Marlon Mack

I don't believe in him, but when other obvious backups are getting taken before the former Colt, it's worth the gamble. If Dameon Pierce is named the Week 1 starter, I'll have the perfect guy to cut.

17.5 - Pittsburgh D

Best defense for Weeks 3 and 4. Oh and I take away a decent option to begin the year for others.

18.8 - Marvin Jones

He's ultra boring, but I don't think the addition of Christian Kirk really cuts in Jones' targets and I'm not convinced Zay Jones does much of anything this year.

19.5 - Broncos K

Mandated kicker alert!

20.8 - Devin Duvernay

I had a queue of Duvernay, Jones, Sammy Watkins and Alec Pierce from R16 onward. Of that group I recognize Watkins has fare more of a ceiling, but I didn't pull the trigger for whatever the reason. I guess I hope that decision comes back to bite me too.

So there ya go. An absolutely infuriating draft that I bungled far too often.

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Joe Bartel
Joe Bartel is RotoWire's Operations Specialist and football contributor among many other things. When not at the office, he's probably playing a variety of Gen 4 console games or rooting on his beloved Green Bay Packers.
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