Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft
Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Bryan Knowles and Andrew Potter

Andrew: Hello, and Happy New Year to all of our (well, to our Gregorian calendar-using) readers, as we bid farewell not only to 2017 but to the 2017 NFL regular season!

Bryan: And, frankly, good riddance. While there were plenty of highlights, it was also an injury-plagued and headache-inducing year at times, and we're very, very ready to move on to a postseason that feels very different from years past.

Andrew: That's because it is very different from years past! We're accustomed to some degree of turnover in the playoffs, but we are not accustomed to seeing 67 percent of the field replaced from one year to the next. No Seahawks! No Cowboys! No Packers! Instead we have the ... wait, who?

*Re-runs spreadsheet for errors.*

[Error loading this application. Press F1 to continue.]

Bryan: Picking the Patriots, Steelers, and Chiefs to make the playoffs before the season started were the picks of a logical, sane man. Picking the Jaguars, Rams and -- most of all -- the Buffalo freaking Bills to make the playoffs is a sign of insanity or, perhaps, witchcraft.

Andrew: I wouldn't have argued with the Jaguars. That division has been a hot mess for years, with the sole exception of the moderately Irsayed Andrew Luck, and the Jaguars added a lot of talent to a defense bursting with potential.

Bryan: OK, sure, an 8-8 Jaguars team squeaking in on an "everyone else in this division is terrible" pass, maybe. But an actually good, #Sacksonville-led defensive powerhouse? From a team that has lost double-digit games every year since 2010? Madness. Madness, I say!

Andrew: I still think the Titans making the playoffs is a bigger surprise, mainly because the Titans don't even have the one great unit elevating a mediocre roster.

Bryan: All four of those teams broke their longest franchise playoff droughts this year. That's incredible. It makes the Saints' three-year wait in the wilderness seem like a commercial break.

Andrew: It would take some doing for the Saints to outstrip their longest playoff drought (20 seasons, 1967-86), so although it was frustrating, three years is a mere blip.

Incidentally, your commercial breaks in the U.S. are shorter than ours. More frequent, too, but shorter. Maybe because you don't immediately put the kettle on when you hear the fade-out music.

Anyway! I quite enjoyed large parts of it, but I too am ready to be done with what feels like the most politically hijacked, injury-plagued season in NFL history, and move on toward Minneapolis. In that vein, therefore, we present to you the annual Football Outsiders Staff Playoff Fantasy Draft!

Staff Playoff Fantasy Draft

The Football Outsiders Staff Playoffs Fantasy League is back for another run. Once again, the scoring rules are as follows:

  • Six points for rushing or receiving touchdowns, four points for passing touchdowns.
  • One point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving, and for every 20 yards passing.
  • A loss of two points for a lost fumble or interception.
  • Two points for a two-point conversion of any kind.
  • Kickers: three points for a field goal under 40 yards, four points for one between 40 and 49 yards, and six points for kicks of 50 yards or longer. Plus, one point for every extra point.
  • Defense: Two points for an interception or fumble recovery, six points for touchdown, four points for safety, one point for sack, and a loss of one point for every seven points the defense actually allows (and a bonus five points for a shutout).

Teams are comprised of one quarterback, two running backs, three wideouts, one tight end, one kicker, and one defense. There are no substitutions, so if a player is injured or his team is eliminated, then he ceases to produce points for his team. The teams, in drafting order, are as follows:

  • Bryan Knowles, Scrambler (U.S. Edition)
  • Andrew Potter, Scrambler (U.K. Edition)
  • Aaron Schatz, Head Honcho
  • Vince Verhei, Editor Extraordinaire
  • Rivers McCown, Upset Unraveller
  • Scott Kacsmar, Clutch Columnist

This is a serpentine draft with a two-pick round eight. The results were as follows:


Round 1

Bryan: Todd Gurley, RB, LARM
Andrew: Kareem Hunt, RB, KC
Aaron: Tom Brady, QB, NE
Vince: Le'Veon Bell, RB, PIT
Rivers: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
Scott: Dion Lewis, RB, NE

Round 2

Scott: Adam Thielen, WR, MIN
Rivers: Antonio Brown, WR, PIT
Vince: Mark Ingram, RB, NO
Aaron: Brandin Cooks, WR, NE
Andrew: Leonard Fournette, RB, JAC
Bryan: Jared Goff, QB, LARM

Round 3

Bryan: Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
Andrew: Travis Kelce, TE, KC
Aaron: Michael Thomas, WR, NO
Vince: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT
Rivers: Julio Jones, WR, ATL
Scott: Alex Smith, QB, KC

Round 4

Scott: Latavius Murray, RB, MIN
Rivers: Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL
Vince: Ted Ginn, WR, NO
Aaron: Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN
Andrew: Drew Brees, QB, NO
Bryan: Rams Defense

Round 5

Bryan: Robert Woods, WR, LARM
Andrew: Tyreek Hill, WR, KC
Aaron: Kyle Rudolph, TE, MIN
Vince: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT
Rivers: Jaguars Defense
Scott: Vikings Defense

Round 6

Scott: Devin Funchess, WR, CAR
Rivers: Chris Hogan, WR, NE
Vince: Sammy Watkins, WR, LARM
Aaron: Stephen Gostkowski, K, NE
Andrew: Keelan Cole, WR, JAC
Bryan: Cooper Kupp, WR, LARM

Round 7

Bryan: Rex Burkhead, RB, NE
Andrew: Wil Lutz, K, NO
Aaron: Patriots Defense
Vince: Delanie Walker, TE, TEN
Rivers: Chris Boswell, K, PIT
Scott: Zach Ertz, TE, PHI

Round 8

Scott: Danny Amendola, WR, NE and Kai Forbath, K, MIN
Rivers: Austin Hooper, TE, ATL and Blake Bortles, QB, JAC
Vince: Saints Defense and Ryan Succop, K, TEN
Aaron: Derrick Henry, RB, TEN and Jay Ajayi, RB, PHI
Andrew: Mohamed Sanu, WR, ATL and Chiefs Defense
Bryan: Alshon Jeffery, WR, PHI and Harrison Butker, K, KC

FO Playoff Fantasy Rosters

Bryan Andrew Aaron Vince Rivers Scott
QB Jared Goff Drew Brees Tom Brady Ben Roethlisberger Blake Bortles Alex Smith
RB Todd Gurley Kareem Hunt Derrick Henry Le'Veon Bell Alvin Kamara Dion Lewis
RB Rex Burkhead Leonard Fournette Jay Ajayi Mark Ingram Devonta Freeman Latavius Murray
WR Robert Woods Tyreek Hill Brandin Cooks JuJu Smith-Schuster Antonio Brown Adam Thielen
WR Cooper Kupp Keelan Cole Michael Thomas Ted Ginn Julio Jones Devin Funchess
WR Alshon Jeffery Mohamed Sanu Stefon Diggs Sammy Watkins Chris Hogan Danny Amendola
TE Rob Gronkowski Travis Kelce Kyle Rudolph Delanie Walker Austin Hooper Zach Ertz
K Harrison Butker Wil Lutz Stephen Gostkowski Ryan Succop Chris Boswell Kai Forbath
D Los Angeles Kansas City New England New Orleans Jacksonville Minnesota

As always, assemble your Best of the Rest team in the comments from players we did not pick, and we'll track which commenter ends up with the highest total.

Andrew: So, the first thing that stands out to me from this draft: we really do have very little faith in this year's wild-card teams. Delanie Walker might be the third- or fourth-most productive tight end in this group, but he only went in the third-to-last round. No Titans or Eagles players were picked in the first six rounds, only one each from the Falcons and Panthers, and no Bills players were chosen at all.

Bryan: Some of that comes down to the odd tiebreaker situation in the AFC, I'd imagine. If the Chargers and Ravens had taken the two AFC slots rather than the Bills and Titans, you would probably have seen a little more diversity in the teams taken. Most of us give Buffalo and Tennessee very short odds of winning even one game, much less going on a run. In a format like this, the number of games played is just as important -- perhaps even more important! -- as the quality of the players. If your team has a bunch of one-and-dones on it, you might be leading going into the divisional round, but you'll soon find everyone else shooting past you.

In the NFC, it's perhaps more that the No. 3 and 4 seeds are actually the best teams in that conference as opposed to the strength or weaknesses of the wild-card teams, and everyone's hunting for that glorious four-game appearance from their top stars.

Andrew: You can see some of that in the team selections too, who each of us thinks will advance the farthest. You made it obvious early on that you think the Rams are primed to win it all, Aaron loaded up on Patriots, whereas I like the chances of the Chiefs and Saints.

Bryan: By our odds, the team most likely to play at least three games this year is the Patriots (54.0 percent), with the Rams right behind them. The Rams are the most likely team to play four games (25.7 percent), so yeah, I was playing the odds. I wasn't necessarily expecting to go so heavily in on them, but when it came to the fourth-/fifth-round turn, and I saw what was left … well. In for a penny, I suppose. I learned long ago that if you Ram it just right, you can Ram it all day and Ram it all night.

Andrew: I am absolutely terrified to ask the context in which you learned that, and will not be opening that video in my regular browser.

I was similarly not planning to pick up quite so many Chiefs players, but when the pieces fell into place that's the picture they formed. I was also, shall we say, a touch overexcited when it became obvious that Drew Brees would fall to me at quarterback.

Bryan: It shows you how screwy 2017 was when Jared Goff and Alex Smith get picked before Drew Brees at, well, basically anything.

Andrew: Vince played that well though, wagering correctly that I would pick Brees and allow him his favored choice of Ben Roethlisberger, while letting him nab the receiver he wanted. Though what it also says of 2017 that Ted Ginn was the receiver he wanted ... again, not entirely what we would usually expect. Overall, it appears we all anticipate a Patriots-Chiefs and Steelers-Jaguars AFC divisional round, then Eagles-Rams and Vikings-Saints in the NFC. That would be one heck of a quartet of matchups, with every single game a rematch from the regular season.

Bryan: I'm just amazed how much we all shied away from the Eagles. We're terrified of them! We had Titans go before the first Eagles player came off the board. I know the drop-off from Carson Wentz to Nick Foles is big, but they're still a top seed, getting a home game after a bye! But no, we avoided them like the plague.

Andrew: Which, naturally, means some reader or five will make a team of all Eagles and make us all look like fools. Or will they?!

Bryan: Actually, I think an all-Panthers team has a lot of potential juice, there. When the Panthers are clicking on all cylinders, they are a very, very tough team to beat. At the moment, they're not clicking on all cylinders, at all, but what if they hit the switch this week? When you're looking to craft a team from the dregs, you're already talking about low-probability outcomes, and is Cam Newton doing amazing things really all that unlikely, all things considered?

Andrew: See, clicking on all cylinders doesn't usually get you far. You want your cylinders to be firing. Clicking probably means you're out of fuel, which would be an apt analysis of the Panthers receiving corps.

Bryan: That explains why my car never starts! This analysis stuff is hard.

Andrew: At least car mechanics aren't usually random and largely uncontrollable. Unlike, say, playoff fantasy football outcomes. Here's to another month of madness! May the best team win! Just ... beware that precarious 28-3 lead.


Loser League Final Recap

Before we get to the worst of the worst from the second half and announce our Part II and season-long winners, let's do a quick recap of Week 17!

Week 17 Recap

Quarterback: That's playoff quarterback Blake Bortles to you. The Jaguars decided to play their starters to go out on a high note … but 15-of-34 for 158 yards and two interceptions is more of a brown note. 3 points.

Running Back: Minnesota really clamped down on the Bears' offense, and Jordan Howard suffered appropriately. He rushed nine times and gained ... 9 yards. That is somewhat less than ideal. 0 points.

Wide Receiver: Six Goose Eggers bring us to the end of the regular season: Terrance Williams, Torrey Smith, Braxton Miller, Robbie Anderson, John Brown, and Jeff Janis. All in all, we had 90 Goose Eggs this year, or just over five a week. That's your key to Loser League success.

Kicker: Shh, Dan Bailey, rest now. It's all over. A missed extra point and a missed field goal as part of a dismal, dismal offensive day for Dallas (and they still won!) puts him at -7 points on the week. Nick Rose's -1 looks quaint in comparison.

Part II Recap

Quarterback: Last year's rookie sensation is this year's sophomore slump. Dak Prescott fizzled down the stretch, finishing with eight touchdown passes and nine interceptions in the second half of the year. He's the only quarterback to finish in double-digits for Part II, ending with 97 points. Just behind him, Jacoby Brissett fizzled out dramatically after his early-season surprise, as he finishes with an even 100 points.

Running Back: We have a runaway Loser here -- Lamar Miller, who was phased pretty heavily out of the offense by the time the year ended, in favor of Alfred Blue. Miller received just 109 attempts for 405 yards and had only two touchdowns over the back half of the season, managing to avoid the penalty week in and week out. That's good for 57 points, blowing out Bilal Powell's 68 and Samaje Perine's 70.

Wide Receiver: In the end, the race for the bottom was decided by starters sitting in Week 17. Terrance Williams ends up as the bottom wideout with 17 points, thanks to his Week 17 goose egg. He was not in first after Week 16, though -- both Cole Beasley and Jordy Nelson both picked up the penalty in the last week of the season, sliding them to 26 and 27 points, respectively. Saved by the bell! Eric Decker also ended up with 27 points in a more conventional manner.

Kicker: Aldrick Rosas ran away with this. He missed three extra points down the stretch, converted just 76.9 percent of his field goals, and didn't get all that many opportunities to begin with thanks to the Giants' lackluster offense. He finished with 16 points. Meanwhile Ka'imi Fairbairn only managed to connect on nine field goals in eight games, which is Not Good. He finished with 24 points.

The Results

Bryan: So, with all the numbers in and everything tabulated, who reigns supreme? Your Loser League, Part II champion is Jay Cou and his team, CouCou, who snuck up from behind to win in Week 17! With 276 points, he just managed to sneak in under Advanced Cutlery's 288; they had been leading most of the way but just got pipped at the line, making them our equivalent of the Baltimore Ravens.

Your cumulative winner is Hanson Tipton, owner of Harvey Birdman! With 638 points, he squeaked out a win by just five points. Five points over 17 weeks! A rogue touchdown could have scarpered that lead! Congratulations to both, and to everyone who participated.

Check your team's final score and the complete Part II leaderboard here!


Keep Choppin' Wood: 0-16 is the NFL's ultimate anti-achievement. Any team can have a down year, and it is not unusual to see a team lose big when cursed with bad luck, injuries, and a tough schedule on top of their own struggles -- see this year's Giants, for example. Even that, however, is not usually enough for a team to go winless; 0-16 takes a special effort from all concerned. How big an effort? Consider the Cleveland Browns' Week 17 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers' AAA feeder team, led by Landry Jones.

The Browns took possession with 4:30 left, down four, with the chance to drive for the win. After a couple of first downs, they faced fourth-and-2 on the Pittsburgh 27. They went for it, DeShone Kizer escaped to his left away from pressure, and Kizer's pass found Corey Coleman down the left sideline for the first down ... or would have, if Coleman had not allowed the ball to pass harmlessly between his hands and fall incomplete. All was not lost, however! Cleveland could still get the ball back! Until, that is, Jamar Taylor dragged Stevan Ridley down with a horse-collar tackle, giving Pittsburgh the first down they needed to end the game. It's not that there were two miscues here -- mistakes happen -- but that Cleveland's season has been jam-packed with similar gaffes, from the blocked punt touchdown conceded on their opening drive of the season, right through to this sequence at the end of their final game. That they retained Hue Jackson, a coach who is two missed Chargers fourth-quarter field goals away from an 0-32 record, after the team made similar mistakes in game after game only adds to the farce. For that reason, the entire Cleveland Browns franchise gets this award. Consider it a form of extended achievement award: Woodchoppers of the Year, if you will.

Herm Edwards Award for Playing to Win the Game: For the week, this award goes to Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals. A team that looked to have quit just two short weeks ago has since ended the seasons of the Detroit Lions and now the division rival Baltimore Ravens. Fourth-and-12 with Baltimore's season on the line, Dalton-to-Boyd for the 49-yard touchdown!

For the season-long award, we look to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. Usually, winning teams do not attempt many fourth-down conversions. This year's Eagles were the notable exception: the NFC's No. 1 seed led the league with 17 fourth-down conversions and ranked second with 26 attempts, two fewer than the Green Bay Packers. It helps to be good at those, too: the Eagles converted 65 percent of fourth-down attempts, the third-highest rate in the league behind the Saints and, oddly, the Jaguars.

John Fox Todd Bowles Award for Conservatism: At the opposite end of the scale, despite a 5-11 record the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coached by Dirk Koetter, only tried to convert a fourth down eight times all year -- every other team in the bottom five for fewest attempts (Detroit, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota) had at least nine wins. The Buccaneers punting squad has been their best special teams unit for a while now, but it is something of a surprise to see so few attempts in opposition territory given the protracted agony that is their field goal kicking.

For this week alone, the award goes to Pete Carroll, who saw fit in his team's last game of the year to send out Blair Walsh for a fairly long clutch kick that might have won the game at the death. It did not; Walsh missed what may well have been his last kick in a Seahawks uniform.

Jeff Fisher Award for Confusing Coaching: Doug Marrone has had a very good year, all things considered; he brought playoff football back to Jacksonville! But, with absolutely nothing to play for in Week 17, he made a very questionable decision, trotting out his entire starting lineup rather than giving key players (especially injured ones or aging veterans) a bye week before their first playoff game in a decade. Rather than gaining any of that mythical momentum, the Jaguars came out flat, limping into the playoffs after what is now two fairly concerning losses in a row. Nothing positive whatsoever was accomplished, and in retrospect, giving everyone the week off would probably have been the better move.

'Go Home! Fantasy's Over!' Fantasy Player of the Week: If your league's championship is in Week 17, you need a new league. If you managed to go into your championship game and, for some unknown reason grabbed David Fales as your starting quarterback -- presumably because you normally had Ben Roethlisberger and saw literally every other quarterback in the NFL sucked up by a jealous rival -- well, congratulations, and what are this week's Powerball numbers, please? Fales, who came in after one series to replace Jay Cutler, ended up throwing one touchdown and rushing for another, ending up as QB7 on the day with around 20 fantasy points (depending on your format). Not bad for someone who still has never started an NFL game.

Blake Bortles Garbage-Time Performers of the Year: Rather than look at anyone who performed well in Week 17 -- garbage time for many, many teams across the NFL -- we thought we'd look at those who put up big numbers in huge deficits. These are the league's leaders in stats when their team was down by at least three scores:

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  • Overall, the Broncos had the most time to rack up stats in these blowouts; they ran 206 plays while down three scores, just squeaking past the Dolphins with 204. What about the Browns? Despite not winning a game, they were usually moderately competitive (for an 0-16 team) and ended up with just 158 such plays, which is fewer than Houston ran. Two teams were never down by 17 or more points on offense: the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Derek Carr ended with the most passing yards, going 64-for-102 for 553 yards, four touchdowns, and just one interception. The low amount of interceptions isn't a compliment here -- when you're trailing by a lot, you need to take bigger risks, and that was Carr's problem for most of the year.
  • The most impressive quarterback trailing by a metric ton was probably Matthew Stafford. Stafford was 43-for-64 for 491 yards with the same four touchdowns and one interception as Carr on far fewer attempts. Detroit's entire modus operandi this season was to go down by 20 points and then have Stafford throw them back into the game; few do it as well as Stafford does.
  • Kenyan Drake ends up with the most garbage time rushing yards by a wide margin -- 138 on 24 carries, with a league-high two touchdowns to boot. Teams generally don't run the ball often when they're being blown out, but as mentioned above, the Dolphins found themselves down huge early and often.
  • Remember that close race for Garbage Time Receiver we mentioned a couple weeks ago? Yeah, no, DeAndre Hopkins ended up blowing that out of the water, with 274 yards on 17 receptions for four touchdowns -- no one else even had two. As a matter of fact, Hopkins has more garbage-time receiving yards in the past five years than anyone else in football, with him and Jarvis Landry a couple hundred of yards in front of the pack. Someone get this guy a good quarterback -- oh wait, they're on top of that, never mind. Unless Bill O'Brien still thinks Tom Savage would be better to start a season…

'Comfort in Sadness' Stat of the Week: In the AFC wild-card race, the two teams with the best DVOA and point differential both missed out, while the two teams with the worst of each qualified. In Buffalo's case, they qualified despite being thrashed by the Chargers in the infamous Nathan Peterman game. In Tennessee's case, the early November win against the Ravens proved crucial. The good news is that the superior point differential and DVOA probably bodes better for the chances of the Chargers and Ravens next season. The bad news, of course, is that doesn't exactly do them any good this January.

Game-Changing Plays of the Year: Rather than talk about Week 17, let's talk about the five teams that were one win away from making the playoffs. If just one or two things had broken differently, these teams would be preparing to play a game on Sunday, rather than sitting at home and thinking about draft prospects. Here are five plays, one for each team, that stings the most in retrospect.

  • L.A. Chargers: The Chargers finished the season with -22.2 FG/XP points below average, the worst mark we've ever recorded. As flipping literally any of their losses to wins would have seen them in the playoffs, that really, really hurts. Choose your own favorite kicking malfunction; we went with Younghoe Koo's 44-yard miss at the end of Week 2's loss to Miami, but you really can't lose playing Chargers Bingo.
  • Detroit: The Lions went 1-3 against the NFC South; any other win would have seen them playoff-bound. So with all due respect to a close loss to Carolina in Week 5, let's go back to Week 3 against Atlanta, with the Lions at the goal line, down by five. I'm sorry, this may or may not be a touchdown, but at least it shouldn't have been a 10-second runoff.
  • Dallas: The Cowboys only had one game that, if the results were flipped, would have seen them in the playoffs -- at Atlanta in Week 10. A 27-7 loss doesn't leave a lot of room for "what if"-ing; the game was essentially over before the fourth quarter began. Still, a win would have seen the Cowboys finish ahead of the Falcons for the sixth and final playoff slot, so nightmares of Adrian Clayborn and his six sacks seem more than appropriate.
  • Seattle: The Seahawks needed one more head-to-head win over an NFC playoff team to make the playoffs, so let's flash back to Week 11 against (who else?) Atlanta. Down 34-31 with under two minutes to play, Pete Carroll and company decided to play it safe, with short passes to slowly move down field. They settled for a 52-yard game-tying field goal attempt from Blair Walsh, which…
  • Baltimore: Just one more win would have sent the Ravens to the playoffs, so thinking of all those Joe Flacco interceptions in key moments, and all those times when the offense was just unable to move the ball even a foot downfield has to really hurt. The most crucial interception, however, wasn't really Flacco's fault. It came just this week against Cincinnati in a win-and-you're-in game, and, well, this is going the wrong way.

Three-Eyed Raven Lock of the Week

All picks are made without reference to FO's Premium picks, while all lines are courtesy of Bovada and were accurate as of time of writing.

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Bryan: Buffalo has been below-average for most of the year, but in the past few weeks they've been very bad indeed, struggling to put away the Colts and Dolphins, and backing into the playoffs thanks to a bizarre set of tiebreakers -- they slipped into the postseason at literally the last minute when Baltimore fell to Cincinnati. At time of writing, LeSean McCoy's status is questionable with an ankle injury. If McCoy can't go, the only above-average player on offense for the Bills is Tyrod Taylor, and I'm aware how controversial it is to say Taylor is above-average (he is, though). And then, I look across the field and I see Calais Campbell, Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, Telvin Smith, Tashaun Gipson, Barry Church ... I could go on, but I'm not sure I have to. I'll take Jacksonville (-7.5)

Andrew: If picking NFL games in Week 17 is a fool's errand, picking them in the wild-card round of the playoffs is madness. All of the lines are roughly a touchdown in favor of the home team. All of them look roughly right to me. The College Football National Championship is not much better, but the recent history at least looks to favor Alabama more heavily than the 4.5-point money line. In the most Southern of all Southern football games -- Alabama versus Georgia in Atlanta -- give me the master over the pupil. Alabama (-4.5) over Georgia.

Bryan: Woah, woah, woah, going off-board with a college football pick? That's … that's…

That's genius. Dang it. Too bad the Winter Olympics are the week after the Super Bowl, or I could dazzle you with my curling knowledge.

Records to date:
Andrew: 9-7
Bryan: 7-9

Email us with fantasy questions, award suggestions, crazy videos, outlandish conspiracy theories, your playoff picks, and other assorted flotsam and jetsam at Contact Us.


37 comments, Last at 06 Jan 2018, 6:36pm

2 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

Advanced Cutlery here - congrats to CouCou...I lost week 16 when Jonathan Stewart and Doug Martin both managed to hit the penalty by 1-2 carries each. Not to mention Cutler playing one series week 17...So close!

Best of the Rest:
QB: Case Keenum
RB: Tevin Coleman
RB: Christian McCaffrey
WR: Rishard Matthews
WR: Allen Hurns
WR: Martavis Bryant
TE: Jesse James
PK: Matt Bryant
DEF: Steelers

4 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

Andrew, your roster is almost completely dependent on the Jaguars and Chiefs.
Bryan, your roster is almost completely dependent on the Rams.

Respectfully, were you drunk?

You both passed up Brady, who is guaranteed 3 games.
Andrew, you passed up Brady and Gronkowski for teams who are a combined 2-7 in playoff games since 2005.
Bryan, your hitched your cart to a horse who last made the playoffs when Goff was 13 and McVay was 18. They went 4-12 last year.

Tell us the truth. Aaron made you leave Pats on the table. =)

6 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

If I felt I could corner the market on the Patriots, I would have done so, but I doubted I could get all the other five guys to hold off from picking Patriots in the early rounds. The Rams, however? Yeah, I figured I could get them all, and get three (and possibly four!) games out of them. I'll take four games of Gurley over three games of Brady.

That being said, I thought long and hard about taking Brady #1. But I believe the winning strategy here is to pick a team that's going to get three or so games and go in, HARD on them. I didn't think Gronk would come back to me at the turn, and there was no way I could get all the Patriots' chief contributors. I mean, look at it -- they're scattered all over the place: Lewis and Cooks were gone before I had the chance to make a second pick. Last year, I tried the strategy of balancing players on top teams and I finished fourth. No one cares who finishes fourth! Go big, or go home.

For what it's worth, though, I would have taken Gostkowski if Aaron hadn't grabbed him in Round 6, balancing myself out more between the Rams and Patriots. But then, Aaron's tendency to grab Pats was a known variable coming into this thing :P

And that "4-12 last year" really only matters if Sean McVay is kidnapped by Jeff Fisher, charging in to "coach up" the Rams with his playoff experience.

14 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

While I certainly wasn't drunk, we did run the draft over the course of January 1st...

I had no intention of focussing on the Chiefs and especially the Jaguars. That's just how the chips fell. My intended strategy was to grab players from the 3 and 4 seeds, because I expect them to advance in this round -- yes, the Jags and Chiefs aren't known for playoff success, but the Bills and Titans aren't exactly perennial juggernauts. I think all of the 3-4 seeds would then have a reasonable chance to play in their respective title games -- Saints should beat the Folesing Eagles, Jags and Chiefs already won their prospective road matchups in the regular season, Rams/Vikings could go either way. If participating for the first time last year taught me anything, it's that games played trumps per-game performance in the clear majority of cases.

Now I did not know going in that somebody was going to nab 80 percent of the Rams players, though I had a good idea that the Saints RBs and Michael Thomas would go quickly, and therefore I'd be almost all Chiefs and Jags. That admittedly changes the equation a little bit, but a Chiefs-Jags AFC Championship with a Chiefs-Saints Super Bowl would do quite nicely, thank you very much.

17 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

"Saints should beat the Folesing Eagles"


Brees is 1-4 outdoors on the road in the playoffs, with losses to the Hasselback Seahawks, Smith 49ers, and Grossman Bears.

Yes, the win was against the Foles Eagles, but that was on a last-second FG against a worse defense than this.

I think they can win. Should is more dubious.

5 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

Vince played that well though, wagering correctly that I would pick Brees and allow him his favored choice of Ben Roethlisberger, while letting him nab the receiver he wanted.

Just to clarify this, it's not that I preferred Roethlisberger to Brees, it's that I thought Roethlisberger was a good Plan B at quarterback, and gave me a chance to grab another receiver first. The way this draft is set up, you can always find a quarterback, but filling out your running backs and wide receivers can be a nightmare. My strategy is always:

Round 1: Best RB available
Round 2: Best RB available in the other conference
Rest of draft: Fill out roster with as many players from those same two teams as you can.

Then hope those two teams both make it to the Super Bowl.

10 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

Is the preference for pickings RBs first based on something other than the way regular season drafts work? I cannot remember the last time a running back had more than one impressive game in a playoff season.

In the regular season, RBs beat up on soft defenses. In the playoffs, they tend to get shut down.

Having said that, there are a lot of soft run defenses in the AFC. By DVOA, we have Jax (26th), NE (30th), Buf (31st), and KC (32nd). So yeah, Le'Veon Bell looks like a good pick.
Hmm...apparently run defense isn't important in the AFC any longer.

The two best run defenses in the AFC? Denver (no surprise) and Cleveland (seriously, WTF??)

12 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

Well, Devonta Freeman had 330 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns last year. Le'Veon Bell had 360 YFS.

In 2014, somebody named Dan Herron had 298 YFS, 20 catches, and two touchdowns for the Colts. Marshawn Lynch had 381 yards and three scores.

In 2013, Lynch again had 291 YFS and four touchdowns.

In 2012, Arian Foster had 327 YFS, 15 catches, and three touchdowns. Frank Gore had 367 YFS and four touchdowns. Ray Rice had 394 yards and two touchdowns.

So you're wrong in that these big postseason runs do happen once in a while ... but you're right in that they are rare, maybe one or two in a season. But that only makes it all the more critical to grab a stud RB early while you can. Especially in this format, where you have two starting RBs on your roster. That's 12 starting RBs in a league, when there are like four or five good candidates in the entire field.

(Also, if you haven't been paying attention all year ... yes, Cleveland's defensive front is really, really good.)

20 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

There were also the decisive performances Pat vs. Colts 2013 & 2014 by LeGarrette Blount (166 yds + 4 TDs & 148 yds + 3 TDs respectively). As I look at it I'm not sure it's right to say big running days in the post-season are rare. It does seem pretty rare that a single back has multiple big games in a post-season, which in itself is somewhat interesting.

13 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

"Detroit's entire modus operandi this season was to go down by 20 points and then have Stafford throw them back into the game".............actually the Lions were down 20 points or more in a game just 2x this entire season (New Orleans and Baltimore)

15 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

They did go down by 10pts in the first quarter 4x (won 1).

Their point differentials by quarter are interesting.

They went -36, +35, +19, +16. (the -17pt 4th against Baltimore really hurt)

They were really bad in the first quarter and really good in the second. Basically, once they abandoned the run and just let Stafford save them.

Their bizarro games were against Cincinnati and Baltimore. Baltimore crushed them in the 2nd and 4th quarters, which no one does. Cincinnati was the inverse game, where they won the 1st quarter and lost all the others.

22 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

It seems like the scoring for the defense will result in about 1-2 point average per game, so why bother. I think avg defensive performance would be 1 TO, 2-3 Sacks, 21 Pts and 0 for the rest. Also like the NFL it is too pass-centric, a 40 yard TD pass is worth 16 pts (a 2 pt conversion pass is worth 4 more) and 10 pts for a 40 yd TD run.

31 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

Ok going for a 3 peat here are my boys
QB: Case Keenum
RB: Christian McCaffrey
RB: Jerick McKinnon
WR: Martavis Bryant
WR: Marqise Lee
WR: Albert Wilson
TE: Jesse James
K: Matt Bryant
DEF: Steelers

35 Re: Scramble for the Ball: 2017 Staff Playoff Draft

Just in time to be too late...

I'll put together a team w/o Titans or Chiefs.

QB: Case Keenum
RB: James White
RB: Tevin Coleman
WR: Nelson Agholor
WR: Kenny Britt
WR: Martavis Bryant
TE: Greg Olsen
K: Sam Ficken
DEF: Eagles