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Part 4 - Starting Lineup Requirements

  Posted 6/29 by Chris Smith, Exclusive to Footballguys.com


"Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration." -- Evan Esar

So now you know what fantasy football is, why we play it and how various scoring rules can impact your fantasy roster. You are well on your way to doing well in this hobby but there is much more to learn still.

In this section, we will walk you through some different types of starting lineup requirements and the impact it can have on your fantasy roster.

1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, (1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF)

This is one of the most common starting lineups used in fantasy football. In this type of league, running backs are definitely the position that needs to be targeted the most. Breaking down each position really illustrates why drafting running backs early is so critical to a fantasy squad's success. We will breakdown these positions based on a 12-team league with performance scoring. Let's start with the quarterback position. There are 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Not all of them are worth starting in fantasy football but only 12 are needed within these rules. It is easy enough to find a serviceable starting quarterback later on in the draft unless exceptional value presents itself early on. Also, only 24 starting receivers are needed each week and with many teams having two viable options at the position (Colts - Harrison/Wayne, Bengals - Johnson/Houshmandzadeh, Cardinals - Boldin/Fitzgerald to name a few) it is not too difficult to find good value in the middle rounds of the draft. At the running back position, 24 starters are needed as well but unlike receivers, it gets difficult to find worthy starters. Many teams utilize the dreaded 'Running Back by Committee' approach and that is a fantasy owner's nightmare. The tight end position can almost always be left until the mid-rounds of the draft unless terrific value presents itself with the top tight ends such as Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. The kicker and defense slots should always be filled in the back end of a draft where value can always be found.

In this type of league, it makes a lot of sense to take two running backs in the first two rounds to build your foundation. Only target a receiver or quarterback in those rounds if exceptional value presents itself such as receivers Steve Smith, Chad Johnson and Marvin Harrison falling to the mid-second round or quarterback Peyton Manning available at the start of the second. It is critical that a roster has three running backs on it by the end of round six or the owner will have to scramble all year to field a competitive squad.

Example of the Start of a Team's Draft in This Type of League

  • Round One: RB Rudi Johnson
  • Round Two: RB Ronnie Brown
  • Round Three: WR Randy Moss
  • Round Four: WR Javon Walker
  • Round Five: RB Ahman Green
  • Round Six: QB Matt Hasselbeck
  • Round Seven: TE Alge Crumpler
  • Round Eight: WR Greg Jennings

Roster After Round Eight (… starters in bold)

  • QB Matt Hasselbeck
  • RB Rudi Johnson
  • RB Ronnie Brown
  • RB Ahman Green
  • WR Randy Moss
  • WR Javon Walker
  • WR Greg Jennings
  • TE Alge Crumpler

1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, (1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF)

This is another very common lineup. The strategy in this kind of league is quite similar to the first one except that receivers jump up in value somewhat due to the extra starting slot used in the position. It becomes harder to find a viable starter at the receiver position in leagues that must start three. In leagues such as this, it can make sense to pick up a receiver or two in the first couple of rounds but it then becomes absolutely vital that you target running backs in the next few rounds. For example, with the final pick in round one, you don't see any real value at the running back position but both Steve Smith and Chad Johnson are available. It makes a lot of sense to grab both, but it is very important in rounds three through six to pick up at least three running backs while there are still decent options to be had. Not selecting a running back early would mean you must go with a shaky combination such as Ahman Green and Brandon Jacobs as your starting duo.

In most cases, an owner should always emerge with at least one solid running back in the first two rounds. It becomes very difficult to find value at the position after the first few rounds. It makes sense once again to ignore the quarterback position early on unless value presents itself.

Example of the Start of a Team's Draft in This Type of League

  • Round One: RB Rudi Johnson
  • Round Two: RB Ronnie Brown
  • Round Three: WR Randy Moss
  • Round Four: WR Javon Walker
  • Round Five: WR Plaxico Burress
  • Round Six: RB Brandon Jacobs
  • Round Seven: QB Jay Cutler
  • Round Eight: WR Greg Jennings

Roster After Round Eight…(starters in bold)

  • QB Jay Cutler
  • RB Rudi Johnson
  • RB Ronnie Brown
  • RB Brandon Jacobs
  • WR Randy Moss
  • WR Javon Walker
  • WR Plaxico Burress
  • WR Greg Jennings

1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 2 FLEX (RB, WR, or TE), (1 K, 1 DEF)

The FLEX position can add a lot to a league. It gives owners different branches he can head down during a draft. The most important aspect to remember for an owner in a league that utilizes a FLEX position is to remain flexible. Sure starting three running backs can be a major coupe but it isn't always possible to land three great backs. However in many cases, while other owners scramble to pick running backs, exceptional value at receiver remains on the board. If you can land a trio of receivers such as Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, and Randy Moss with the first three picks, do so and don't look back. Make sure to land a couple of decent running backs in the next couple of rounds and your team would be set for a run to the championship. Basically, be flexible enough to change your strategy on the fly (the VBD theory will be covered in the next section and it is perfect to help owners capitalize on value). Don't be afraid to go with a 1 RB / 4 WR starting lineup or a 3 RB / 2 WR lineup depending on how the draft falls to you each round.

Two Different Examples of the Start of a Team's Draft in a Flex League

Example #1
Rnd
Example #2
Pos
Player
Pos
Player
WR
Steve Smith
1
RB
Rudi Johnson
WR
Chad Johnson
2
RB
Ronnie Brown
RB
Jamal Lewis
3
RB
Jamal Lewis
RB
Adrian Peterson
4
WR
Randy Moss
RB
Ahman Green
5
WR
Plaxico Burress
WR
Santana Moss
6
RB
Marion Barber III
QB
Matt Hasselbeck
7
QB
Matt Hasselbeck
WR
Greg Jennings
8
WR
Greg Jennings

Example Rosters After Round Eight…(starters in bold)

Example #1
Example #2
Pos
Player
Pos
Player
QB
Matt Hasselbeck
QB
Matt Hasselbeck
RB
Jamal Lewis
RB
Rudi Johnson
RB
Adrian Peterson
RB
Ronnie Brown
RB
Ahman Green
RB
Jamal Lewis
WR
Steve Smith
RB
Marion Barber III
WR
Chad Johnson
WR
Randy Moss
WR
Santana Moss
WR
Plaxico Burress
WR
Greg Jennings
WR
Greg Jennings

2 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, (1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF)

Some leagues like to incorporate a 2nd quarterback slot in order to give the position more clout in the draft. If you are in a league that does start 2 players at the quarterback position, it definitely should change your drafting philosophy. Once again, using the VBD theory is a great help in determining value at each position. In a league such as this, 24 quarterbacks must start in the league each week. It is very difficult to find 24 quarterbacks capable of putting up fantasy numbers in a given week and during bye weeks it can be almost impossible. Quarterbacks become almost as sought after in the early rounds as running backs and the receiver position definitely becomes the third option. In a draft like this, it could be very probably that an owner drafts three quarterbacks and three running backs before even considering the receiver position.

Example of the Start of a Team's Draft in This Type of League

  • Round One: QB Peyton Manning
  • Round Two: RB Willis McGahee
  • Round Three: QB Vince Young
  • Round Four: RB Jamal Lewis
  • Round Five: WR Andre Johnson
  • Round Six: WR Santana Moss
  • Round Seven: QB Philip Rivers
  • Round Eight: RB Dominic Rhodes

Roster After Round Eight…(starters in bold)

  • QB Peyton Manning
  • QB Vince Young
  • QB Philip Rivers
  • RB Willis McGahee
  • RB Jamal Lewis
  • RB Dominic Rhodes
  • WR Andre Johnson
  • WR Santana Moss

In Conclusion

"Inspiration and genius - one and the same." -- Victor Hugo

As illustrated above, different starting lineup requirements can, and should, change an owner's perspective during his fantasy draft. It is vital to take the time to scrutinize both the scoring rules and the starting lineup rules and understand how both ultimately affect the fantasy league. Go into your fantasy draft with a strategy that involves your starting lineup requirements in addition to your scoring rules but don't be afraid to adjust your strategy if value presents itself. Just remember that if you do step outside of your strategy going into a draft, you must make adjustments going forward. If you are in a league that starts two running backs and two receivers and you scoop up Chad Johnson and Steve Smith with your first two picks, make sure that you target running back over the next few rounds to maximize your chances at that position. You can certainly afford to wait on the receiver position with your two starters already sewn up.

Just remember that understanding your league rules will go a long way towards your ultimate success in the league. If you remember that and do your homework, victories and championships will inevitably follow.