Polly's Playoff: Draft Strategy
This year there is a new charity fantasy football tournament, along the likes of other philanthropic tournaments like the Scott Fish Bowl and Fantasy Cares Leagues, called Polly’s Playoff. Polly’s Playoff is the brain child of Shane Barrett, @ffShaneB, who decided to use his platform on twitter to run a fantasy football tournament to benefit Alzheimer’s care, support and research after his wife’s grandmother passed away from it. My grandmother was also a victim of Alzheimer’s almost 30 years ago so this was a cause that I immediately wanted to get behind. Worldwide it’s estimated that there are over 50 million people who suffer from Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia and this tournament is specifically created to benefit the Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser.
Being able to contribute to this fundraiser while also playing fantasy football was a no brainer for me. I highly encourage anyone that is able, please donate to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser right here. Any little bit helps as it’s estimated that another 500,000 people just in the United States will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s this year.
As for the tournament, Polly’s Playoff is a total of 120 teams consisting of ten 12 team leagues. Rosters for teams have a starting lineup of 1QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 3 flex(RB, WR, or TE) and 1 superflex (QB, RB, WR, or TE) and then 11 bench spots. This tournament has a couple scoring changes from standard leagues, including a non tight end tiered PPR system which values longer receptions with more bonus points. Wide receivers are the position that benefits most from this scoring change and with 3 starting wide receiver positions that also creates more value for them. Also, passing touchdowns are worth 5 points while interceptions are -3 and another -1 if the interception is returned for a touchdown. The superflex position creates more value for the quarterback position, especially quarterbacks that throw fewer interceptions.
In a larger tournament pool like this, it’s all about constructing a very unique roster and maximizing upside. Being a bit contrarian can help as it’s not just about winning your league, it’s about coming out a head of the other 119 teams. One way I planned on doing this was by stacking my quarterbacks with their receiving options. Because it’s a superflex tournament, I was actually looking to possibly stack both of my starting quarterbacks. I was also looking to hammer wide receivers to take advantage of the tier PPR bonus points. To help accomplish this, I planned on punting the tight end position until late in the draft. My plan was to draft 2 quarterbacks in the first 3-4 rounds then a 3rd quarterback in the 8-10 round range. As always though you don’t know which way a draft will go and you must be ready to adapt depending on how the draft unfolds.
Draft order was randomly selected, and I came out with the 7th pick. I immediately thought about which quarterbacks might be available in the first round. I assumed Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes would be gone. Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson were QBs I thought would be available. I also thought about which wide receivers might be available. I thought there was an outside chance, with this tournament being superflex, that Michael Thomas might be available but more likely that Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill would be there.
Of the 10 leagues in the tournament, I'm in league 2 and also Co-Commissioner of this league. The following is a recap of my and my league’s draft.
1.07 - Michael Thomas
Thomas was my number one target heading into the draft, but I assumed he’d be gone and I would have to draft a QB. I was wrong and happy about it. 149 catches on 185 targets is just ridiculous and I’ll take it to start my draft.
2.06 - Dak Prescott
I was absolutely pumped to get Prescott. At this point 3 quarterbacks (Jac
kson, Mahomes, and Watson) were drafted so I had my choice between Prescott, Kyler Murray, and Russell Wilson. I went with the Cowboy whose offense is loaded with weapons and expected to be high scoring this year.
3.07 - Amari Cooper
Russell Wilson got drafted right before me so I went with my second big play wide receiver. I gave thought to Mike Evans, A.J. Brown, and Allen Robinson as well but ultimately opted to go with the stack. I passed on a second QB hoping/expecting that either Drew Brees or Matt Ryan would be there on the way back.
4.06 - Carson Wentz
I was highly disappointed to have both Brees and Ryan gone by the time it got back to me. I really wanted a 2nd QB here and went with who I thought was the best available. I don’t really like the Eagles wide receivers to stack with Wentz but rookie Jalen Reagor could still be a possibility in later rounds.
5.07 - Todd Gurley II
I really wanted to go wide receiver again but was worried because RB’s were running out fast. Three teams already had 3 RB’s before I had one and there were a handful of WR’s I liked. I figured one of them would get back to me. Other RB’s here that I passed on for Gurley were David Montgomery, Mark Ingram, and Kareem Hunt. In a high octane Atlanta offense, my hope is Gurley produces touchdowns even if he’s not the same player as years past.
6.06 DeVante Parker, WR
7.07 Brandin Cooks, WR
8.06 J.K. Dobbins, RB
9.07 Jalen Reagor, WR
10.06 Jordan Howard, RB
I wanted to continue to load up on wide receivers, which I did with 3 in the next 5 picks. I was also able to stack J. Reagor with Wentz to go along with the Cowboys stack I already had. I grabbed my 2nd and 3rd running backs in Dobbins and Howard. Dobbins being a rookie, his role is yet to be determined but his upside is high which I wanted in a tournament like this. I really wanted a 3rd quarterback with my 10th round pick but 6 QB’s went in the 8 picks right before me, including my target Kirk Cousins.
11.07 Henry Ruggs III
12.06 – Tyler Higbee
I finally picked a tight end in Higbee as he fell all the way to the 12th round. At this point, if he picks up where he left off last year, he could be another league winner.
13.07 Nyheim Hines
14.06 – Nick Foles
I immediately regretted making this pick. I feel like I should have grabbed anybody else and then picked up a quarterback later off the waiver wire. If he wins the starting job though it may not turn out as bad as I originally thought.
15.07 – Desean Jackson
This pick got me pumped about my team again. Originally I wasn’t too high on an Eagles stack, but this is how the draft played out for me. In the 15th round though with his big play ability I’m on board with Jackson. I’m now all in on the Eagles stack with Wentz, Reagor, and Jackson. A bit of a homer pick for me, but if he stays healthy he’ll return value at round 15.
16.06 O.J. Howard
17.07 Joshua Kelley
18.06 Devonta Freeman
19.07 Antonio Gandy-Golden
20.06 Devin Duvernay
21.07 Kyle Rudolph
22.06 Brian Hill
Below is Polly's Playoff league 2's draft board.
In the late rounds of this draft, I got a couple more tight ends and a few more rookies. In total, I drafted 6 rookies. Four of them wide receivers which I highly value because of the tiered PPR scoring. Sometimes rookie wide receivers take longer to transition to the NFL than rookie running backs, but a couple of them step into situations that present immediate opportunity for playing time.
Overall, this was a really fun draft to be a part of. I was able to get a lot of players I liked and able to stack both starting quarterbacks which was my strategy going in. I realize I’m highly invested in the NFC east with both Eagles and Cowboys stacks, but I actually like this because I feel this could be a high scoring division. Being an Eagles fan doesn’t hurt either.
In conclusion, I feel good about my team and like my chances in the league. Participating in this tournament and helping bring awareness to this cause has been such a great experience. Again, thank you so much to anyone who has or is planning to donate to this fundraiser. I plan on continuing to be part of this tournament and raising awareness for Alzheimer’s next year , and I also plan on returning as Polly’s Playoff inaugural champion.