Roundtable - FFPC Veterans Edition
By Jeff Pasquino
August 1st, 2010

Welcome to the first ever edition of the FFPC Roundtable. In an effort to help High Stakes Contestants that are looking to play in either the Fantasy Football Players Championship ("FFPC") or the Footballguys Players Championship ("FPC"), I asked a few veteran fantasy football players that have played in the FFPC a few key questions about their experiences. Let's kick it off:

I'd like to start by letting our guests introduce themselves. My first question asked each veteran for a little bit about their history, both in fantasy football and with High Stakes contests such as the FFPC.

DON METTER: My name is Don Metter and I have been playing fantasy since Emmitt Smith's second season. I have played in the high stakes leagues since the inception of WCOFF. Historically, I have done very well in the draft masters format and I am also the overall FFPC champion for 2010 winning 75,000. I am currently registered to play in FFPC, WCOFF and the draft experts format.

RUSS STEELE: My name is Russ Steele but I go by "Just Russ" on the High Stakes fantasy football message boards and "pizzatyme" on the FBG message boards. I've spent 20 years playing fantasy sports. The last 3 years have been exclusively in the High Stakes community with the FFPC and NFFC. Last year I won the regular season scoring title and $1000 with the FFPC. I was 2nd overall in the Championship round going into the last weekend and finished up 6th overall.

SAM HENDRICKS: I'm Sam "Slam" Hendricks and I am a 20-year fantasy football veteran, a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and I have even written a few books on the subject such as "Fantasy Football Guidebook". I've been participating regularly in the FFPC, the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCOFF), and also National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC). I was able to finish 7th and 16th overall (out of 228 competitors) in the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC).

TOM YATES: My name is Tom Yates and I have played in both the WCOFF and the FFPC every year that they have been running a contest, and this will be my 4th year in NFFC. I am buying 3 FPC teams this year and actually have the first pick in the first FPC draft on August 1st.I am trying to talk myself into Andre Johnson there, but will probably go with Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson. Over the last 4 seasons, I have cashed close to 140,000 dollars I think and I was the 2008 NFFC classic champion. I won the FFPC big payback satellite last year ($500 buy-in) and it got me a seat at this year's Big payback league, which is a 12-teamer where the winner will get 25,000 and 2nd place wins 15,000. OUT OF 12 TEAMS. Gotta love the FFPC, huh?

Most everyone either knows me by my team name ("RECOVERY BOYS") or as "Tomdog" on the message boards. Please just call me Tom.

OLLIE RADAKOVITZ: Ollie Radakovitz here, also known around these parts as "radballs". I first began participating in local fantasy football leagues in 1995. I did fairly well in some of those friendly leagues so I decided to ramp up my investment in fantasy football. I first entered into the high stakes arena in the fall of 2003 and have participated in Las Vegas every year since. In that contest, I've taken my league's championship on multiple occasions.

I also decided to begin playing in the FFPC in their first year of existence two years ago. I've done okay so far but am still looking for my first league championship. Luckily, I won a winner-take-all satellite league last year so that's covering my main event entry fee for 2010.

DAVID DODDS: I have been around this game for 20+ years. I played 4 leagues with the FFPC scoring rules last year. I felt like I finally get it. I won my Joes vs. Pros league against some great competition. I felt I crushed the FFPC Main Event Draft and was cruising well through 4 weeks, but I never could find that extra RB I needed to be competitive. My team slowly disintegrated. I think with a year under my belt, I am hopefully a lot smarter in this format going forward.

With several other contests in High Stakes Fantasy Football, why have you chosen to spend your efforts on the FFPC?

HENDRICKS: Dave Gerczak and I met in Vegas a few years back when we competed in an auction draft (he beat me of course!). In 2008, after the AFFL debacle, he invited me to look at the FFPC in its "beta" phase. I liked the idea of a contest run for players, by players. It seems to me that he and Alex have taken the existing contests and made a better product for players. I was hooked the moment I saw dual flex, action scoring and four team playoffs. Anything that gives the player more ways to showcase his skill is a plus in my mind. I hate lady luck.

YATES: Dave and Alex run a great contest and I have known them both not just as owners here but as competitors. I trust them, they pay fast, they give a very good percentage back to the players for the investment, and I also really like the dual flex rule.

METTER: I really enjoy playing FFPC, but through the owners I feel as though, if I have a idea, question or concern all I have to do is voice it to Alex, Dave or Chris and then it is met with legitimate interest. It is that type of attitude which makes me feel as though I am as part of the building process as I am the local leagues which I play in every season.

RADAKOVITZ: There are multiple reasons that I participate in the FFPC. First and foremost is the ownership group. Dave and Alex both have a focus that is extremely customer centric (much like Footballguys). The other participants in the FFPC are really friendly, competitive, and hardcore. Also, the event is always top notch and well organized. At the same time, I really like the fact that my money seems much more secure given the escrowed nature of the prize funds.

DODDS: This is the one contest that protects the funds in an escrow account. Way too many high stakes contests have shorted the players for me to feel comfortable playing in events that are unwilling to protect the prize pool. Besides protecting the players, they also have a stellar record of paying fast, running great events, and offering the highest prize payouts in the industry.

STEELE: I've dedicated most of my entry fees this year to the FFPC due to the rules of their event. While the Customer Service and timely prize payouts are exceptional, the rules are what I enjoy the most.

With Dual-flex coupled with 1.5 points per reception for TEs, I feel that the this allows for maximum flexibility on how to build a team during the draft. These rules make the TE position very relevant and they must be factored early in the draft.

Consider that a TE with 100 catches equates to 150 fantasy points in the FFPC and you can see the need to factor them into your draft.

Regarding the special scoring and lineup rules in the FFPC (the Dual-flex, 1 PPR for RB and WR but 1.5 PPR for TEs), what has been some of the unusual strategies you have witnessed during the past FFPC drafts?

STEELE: Due to these rules, I have seen TEs drafted in the 1st 3 rounds by the same team. While many would scoff at this in other leagues, it is a defensible decision in this format.

YATES: The obvious is the tight ends going earlier than usual, and I have seen teams try and dominate the position by taking 2 in the first 4 rounds for example. Once I saw in an FFPC auction draft last year that one guy spent a lot of his money on the 3 top tight ends. That 1.5 point per reception is tempting and enticing. On the other hand, there's not usually an early QB run in these drafts.

DODDS: The draft revolves around the TE. At 1.5 PPR, this position is very valuable. In some drafts they fly off the board so you need to secure value and then get later TEs at discounts. In other drafts the TEs don't go as soon as they should with the added scoring so you can build your team around using multiple TEs at flex. The dual-flex and 1.5 PPR rules allow for maximum flexibility in the drafts. This rewards the better players. Gone are the days that the first 10 or 11 picks are RBs.

HENDRICKS: I saw TE-TE in the first two rounds from the corner, which was unusual. Another strategy is starting out WR-WR-WR-WR. The theory is that with start 2 WRs and dual flex you can start four WRs. Grabbing four Top 20 WRs is a wild ride though when you have to find 2 starting RBs in the 5th and 6th rounds. Another crazy player went homer and all IND in 2008 drafting Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark...wait a minute that was me, not intentional until I had Reggie Wayne and Peyton then I said what the heck.

RADAKOVITZ: The scoring rules really set this league apart from others. TEs obviously go much earlier than in other contests with the 1.5 PPR, but the best part here is the extra flexibility that you get in this format with the dual flex. It makes for much more interesting and unique draft boards compared to other leagues. In other words, you can really get much more creative with how you attempt to compose your winning team.

METTER: The unique scoring and lineup rules which FFPC offers really do make the draft a wild and unpredictable event; I have seen teams draft tight ends with second and third round selections. What is really great is that it puts much more of an equal weight to the positions and buy being able to start 2 flex players it does allow many different draft scenarios.

What have you done in your past FFPC drafts which was drastically different from other formats, and why?

METTER: My draft strategy really only is altered by the tight ends rule changes. I have always been a best player on the board type of drafter; however, drafting a strong tight end can really give you a leg up on your opponents.

STEELE: My strategy in FFPC events is to get a top TE in the first 2 rounds provided one of the top 4 or 5 TEs are available. Then, take best player available after that. You have to get a top TE to set yourself apart in my opinion.

HENDRICKS: For me it was rostering (is that a word? It is now) two or more TEs for the entire season. In other formats I draft my one required TE late (looking for a mid level value TE with a late bye week) and focus on RB and WR early. With the FFPC, TEs can make or break you with their added PPR. I find the draft is more balanced because a good TE is equal to a WR in many cases and the run on TEs starts early in the FFPC for just that reason.

YATES: I am as guilty as most with drafting tight ends early in the FFPC, and in fact I chose Vernon Davis in the second round in a satellite draft here last month.

DODDS: I believe the key to winning a contest like this is to bail on RB for a good while. Based on where you draft, you probably will start with a RB in round 1, but you have a great opportunity to lock up quality WRs and TEs while waiting at RB. This does force you to then find a capable RB either later in the draft (or through waivers during the season). This sounds extra risky, but it usually can be done. A team constructed in this fashion then is strong at all positions (with two capable TEs) and that will pay huge dividends through the bye weeks.

RADAKOVITZ: Well, I try to really understand all the scoring rules and lineup configurations. I probably wait even longer on QBs than I normally do because of extra PPR at the TE position. The other unique thing with this draft is you have a better ability to draft across positions more because of the extra flexibility. You can then draft much more closely toward a "get the best player available" philosophy instead of being pigeon-holed into a particular position based on either need or round.

Going back to the special FFPC rules (Dual-flex, 1ppr/RB+WR and 1.5ppr/TE), how do these affect your weekly starting lineup decisions? Which positions do you lean to starting more?

HENDRICKS: I love the fact that I can start four RBs if I am good enough to draft well at that position. I typically draft strong RB teams (Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Thomas Jones and hit on Tim Hightower in 2009). Then I target a few good WRs and later grab value at QB and TE. However, when it comes to start'em and sit'em decisions, I let the matchups decide. One week I may start 2 RBs, 2 WRs and 2 TEs. The next it may be 4 RBs and 2 WRs. It all depends and that is what the flexibility of dual flex brings to the table.

METTER: My weekly lineups are never dictated by the rules. In other words, I do not start two tight ends just because the scoring is more favorable for tight ends. I base all my lineup decisions on matchups to try and optimize total points. If I have to bench Randy Moss because he is going up against Darrelle Revis, so be it. I know it sounds very elementary but many owners let names and rules dictate who is in their starting lineups instead of likelihood of strong performance on game day.

YATES: I like wide receivers, always have especially in PPR leagues, so I give them a lot of consideration in my lineups. I do have an official man-crush on Larry Fitzgerald. He is a stud and he played his college ball at PITT.

RADAKOVITZ: I still think the big thing that people overlook in this competition is that you need a ton of wide receivers. I try to focus on value with the WRs and mix in both vets and younger players with upside. I will attempt to get a relatively high top TE but only if the value is there. If the TEs go too early, then I'll just load up on RB and WR value and put together a TEBC (tight end by committee). Still, I prefer to at least have a top 7 or 8 TE without using 4th round or earlier picks.

Even though you can start 4 RBs if you wanted, I generally think that the best team will be composed with a 2 RB, 4 WR, 1 TE lineup week in and week out unless you really hit on some of your sleeper RB picks.

DODDS: I just use FBG projections (mine) and pick the guys that are projected to score the most fantasy points at each position. Look at RB+WR+TE as one big pool where you must take 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE and then the two other guys highest left still on the list.

STEELE: The answer to this question really depends on how I've built my team. It is not unusual to start a TE in one of the Flex positions.

How does the Dual-flex, 1.5ppr/TE impact your free agent add/drop strategies?

METTER: If any part of my strategy changes due to the dual flex, it is free agent acquisitions. Obviously in-season management is extremely important in all leagues but it is magnified in this format. Because of the flexibility, teams need to try and be as deep as possible to give you the most flexibility due to injuries, bye weeks, etc. I am certain my team won the title last year because I was so deep at all positions. Sometimes I played 4 RBs, or 2 TEs. That type of flexibility leads to a great deal of consistency that is what you need to win the big prize.

HENDRICKS: TEs have more of a role as a short-term free agent pickup. The 1.5 PPR rule means that a crucial matchup can propel a lower level TE (most are drafted already) into an important stop-gap filler role as a flex player. You rarely see that in other formats. I think FFPC adds another layer of skill when you have opportunities to dig out deep sleepers like that; even if only for a one- or two-week period.

YATES: I would overbid for a tight end that shows promise during the season and was available on the waiver wire. A good example from last year would be Fred Davis.

RADAKOVITZ: I would say that free agent add/drop strategies aren't tremendously different from other leagues other than the fact that other competitors in your league won't be as desperate to make moves at a given roster post. To clarify, someone really needing another WR will also have the option to bid on picking up another RB or TE. In any case, I think this relatively smoothes out some of the large bidding figures that you see in other contests.

STEELE: These rules really make me jump on lesser-known TEs early in the fantasy season as I try to hit gold here. It really just makes the position equal to the other skill positions.

DODDS: Depth is super important in this scoring system. Because you can flex in so many directions, there is no exact right answer on how to add/drop. Generally I only want to carry 1 Def and 1 PK and likely 2 QBs. The rest of the positions are at RB, WR and TE as I want that pool as deep as possible each week to maximize my chances that a player is up against a very bad defense.

The FPC format allows you to continue picking up free agents via blind bidding during League Playoffs, weeks 12 & 13. How does this ability effect your spending the $1000 bidding bucks? Is there an amount you try to "save" for the playoffs?

DODDS: I generally blow through the majority of my cap pretty early. By the end most of the good players are gone. If you can snare a stud that got overlooked in Week 1, you can ride him to lots of wins plus the playoffs.

STEELE: I try to save 20% or $200 for the playoffs. Kickers and injury replacements are key in these leagues.

RADAKOVITZ: I'm a big believer in not leaving much money left regardless of your in-season situation. I just think that you better spend almost all of it if it's going to make a difference in getting to the postseason. Obviously, save a little bit (at least 3%-4%) for later moves if you get to the playoffs. But, you have to get there first. Don't be afraid to blow your wad on one guy if he's the missing piece.

YATES: For me it doesn't matter one bit. Sometimes I have lots of money near the end and sometimes I am broke. It just depends on injuries and how badly I want a player plus how much I am willing to risk.

HENDRICKS: No real dollar figure except as a minimum I want $40 to maneuver if I need to with adding a player due to injury. My focus is the other three teams who legitimately have a chance to join me in the playoffs. The four of us are the only ones able to bid in those last 2 weeks. Therefore, if I can come into week 12 with the most FAAB I can have whomever I want that week. That can be critical in a playoff matchup. I do not plan to have the most, I bid throughout the season as needed. but tend to throttle back in weeks 10 and 11 based on the upcoming playoffs.

METTER: As far as saving dollars for playoff free agents, I think all the owners here are very knowledgeable and very little gets past them so I tend to think minimal dollars are needed for late season pickups, I lost Owen Daniels last year and honestly, it would not have mattered if I had 2 dollars or 200, the talent was picked over and pickings were slim. I do save a few bucks but I really only spend what I think a player is worth, sometimes I run out of dollars early and sometimes I have a bunch left.

Can you share one major mistake that you have made in your past FFPC leagues?

HENDRICKS: Do I have to? I am going to take some massive grief for this. In week 16 of 2009, I had Steven Jackson as a starter. He was listed as questionable (as he had been for the past few weeks), but always played. Anyway I forgot to check his status for the 4 pm game. Maybe it was a case of celebrating other victories too much. He did not play in week 16. I found out too late to replace him. It was the difference between finishing 10th out of 228 top competitors in the FFPC and 16th. It was a huge mistake.

STEELE: The biggest mistake I've made to date in FFPC events was to avoid the TE position like it were a more standard draft. In those events, I failed miserably. You snooze you lose if you wait on your TE!

METTER: I made a major mistake my first season when I tried to draft a team that was running back heavy, which on paper was a great idea but injuries caused a ripple effect which killed my ability to field a team. That left me searching the waiver wire not for depth but for starters every week.

DODDS: I avoided RB2 forever and then took Darren McFadden. I still believe waiting for RB2 is a solid strategy, but make sure you have targeted the right players (and in good situations).

RADAKOVITZ: The biggest mistakes that I've made are probably devaluing the QB position TOO much. Sometimes you better get somebody before everyone else has their second one.

YATES: The biggest one ever for me was in year one of FFPC at the Main Event. I had Pick 5 and in the second round I drafted Tom Brady (he was coming off of that 50 touchdown year). I remember as people were choosing going down from Picks 9, 8, 7 and 6 and I was thinking and even said out loud, "Please don't make me do it." I wanted someone else to take him but no one did, and I just couldn't pass on him. He of course went down in Game 1. That's the one that sticks out in my mind.

If you had to give one serious bit of advice to a newbie playing the FPC, what would it be?

METTER: Have an open mind and be prepared to shift strategies on at the drop of a hat.

RADAKOVITZ: Be completely flexible as far as what position you anticipate drafting and where. Every position carries value and it's silly to think you can bypass a good to great QB, RB or whatever because it goes against "your plan" for that given round going into the draft.

Also, don't count too much on valid ADP data. It's extremely different in this kind of league compared to other leagues. Check your source and understand the major differences. WRs and TEs go MUCH earlier than even most expert PPR data.

HENDRICKS: Don't underestimate the power of a TE both as a great starter and as a decent flex player. Eight TEs had over 200 Fantasy Points last year in the FFPC format. Unlike other formats, you cannot sleep on that position in the draft.

DODDS: Wait until 6 TEs are off the board and then grab the next one on your list. You have to have a good TE in this format. If you pull the trigger too early or too late, your team may suffer tremendously for it. TE6 to TE8 usually represent great value.

STEELE: My advice to someone new to these rules is to look at your TE1 as an equal to a RB1 or WR1. Be flexible within the draft and build a dominant starting lineup which may mean doing things you haven't done before.

YATES: Believe in yourself, and do it YOUR WAY. Do your homework and get creative with your drafting - you might surprise yourself.

The best team I ever drafted (from an overall prize winning success point of view) started off WR/WR/WR in the first 3 rounds. This happened before it became popular to even draft 2 WRs in the first 3 rounds.

Good luck to all.

Great stuff, guys. Thanks for sharing some of your vast collective knowledge from all of your fantasy football experience. I'm sure that it will be valuable information for many of the players signing up for either the FFPC, the FPC or both. Thanks again.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to