Fantasy Football: Opportunity cost and the Giants backfield

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

With the news coming out yesterday that Andre Brown and David Wilson were listed as co-starters in the Giants' backfield fantasy owners and experts alike were forced to look at the opportunity cost associated with drafting either running-back.

The unofficial depth chart released by the New York Giants Thursday sent out a ripple across the ocean of fantasy experts instead of the tidal wave it could have caused. The fact that Andre Brown and David Wilson were listed as co-starters, while disappointing to some, came as no surprise to most. The fact that David Wilson is going in the third round while Andre Brown is going in the seventh is what should alarm most fantasy football players. While no one can argue with Wilson's upside or "ceiling" his "floor" is actually pretty low at this point. Meanwhile, Brown is being drafted next to running-backs like DeAngelo Williams and Isiah Pead in most early summer drafts.

I'm going to say that again. Brown is actually being taken after a running-back in Carolina that doesn't get goal line carries or feature in the passing game. He is also going behind a running back with the Rams that has to serve a one game suspension and isn't even listed as the starting running-back for a team that didn't run the ball that well last year. Give me Brown any day of the week, and twice on Sunday, when given a choice between those backs. In fact, I am starting to think that taking Brown in the seventh round could be the biggest steal of any fantasy football draft.

If it wasn't obvious in training camp reports that Wilson hasn't taken Giants' training camp by storm then it can be seen in both Wilson and Brown's fantasy draft stock. Over the last few weeks Wilson's ADP has slowly come back to earth in all redraft formats, but had settled at about the 33rd overall draft-pick as you can see at www.fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Brown's ADP has stayed steady, fluctuating from 75th to 81st overall, while this news should see it jump quite a bit. With Brown and Wilson, more than likely, set to split carries and the Giants likely riding the hot hand Brown has become a great value pick for anyone drafting early in the summer.

I know what you're saying. Who has a draft in early August?

Actually, it does happen. More than most people realize. As we get older having a live in-person draft becomes more and more difficult for a lot of leagues. Weddings, vacations, hurricanes, and even child birth can all get in the way of setting a draft date. That's why leagues that usually draft on Labor Day weekend sometimes have to bite the bullet and draft in early August just to accommodate everyone.

Why don't they just do it online?

Because online drafts will never be as good as in-person drafts. The Smack-talk and Razzing just aren't the same in a two-inch by two-inch box. You need to see a person's face when you berate them for taking a kicker in the 10th round. Not type in all caps and hope they happen to be looking at the comments section.

Now back to the problem at hand. Which Giants' running back do we target in early August drafts. To figure this out we must take a look at the opportunity cost of drafting either running back.

If we take David Wilson at 33rd overall, who did we miss out on in the third round and beyond?

If we wait and take Andre Brown with the 81st overall pick who do we miss out on in the seventh round and after?

For this experiment we will be drafting with the ninth pick in a 12-team PPR mock draft using the mock draft simulator on www.fantasyfootballcalculator.com. I especially like using this simulator because the ADP rankings are up to date and there are generally better fantasy players participating in the mock drafts. By drafting in the nine slot we actually will be drafting with the 33rd and 81st overall pick which should help us determine which running back would cost us more.

I was hoping to have a mock draft where Calvin Johnson fell to the ninth overall pick, but it was not to be. In three different drafts where I would be targeting David Wilson in the third round at 33 overall I took Trent Richardson or LeSean McCoy with the ninth pick. With Calvin Johnson off the board it was imperative to take the best RB available so I did. With a top RB already in the fold I took whoever fell to me between Jimmy Graham, Dez Bryant, and AJ Green in the second round. Graham never made it to me in any of the mock drafts so I went wide receiver in all three. In all three mock drafts I was able to draft David Wilson with the 33rd overall pick and only once did a GM send me a message saying they were taking him with the next pick.

The players I missed out on by drafting Wilson at 33 were what I was looking for. In the 3rd round you can still get top 10 talent at the wide receiver position. You can even gamble on the second best tight end in Rob Gronkowski, but I would suggest against it if your draft is this early. I missed out on Victor Cruz, Roddy White and Andre Johnson in all three drafts by taking Wilson at 33rd overall. All three can, and probably will, be top 12 fantasy wide receivers this year, especially with the position thinning out as wide receivers are going down with injuries left and right.

For the second set of mock drafts I was aiming for Andre Brown with my 81st overall pick as my 3rd running back. I decided to take the best player on my board at each pick and see where it got me by the 7th round. At 33 overall I took Cruz when he was available and Roddy White when Cruz was selected before I picked. By not going with a fourth tier running back in the 3rd round my team started to look really good during each draft. For example in one draft I went T. Richardson, Dez Bryant, Roddy White, Frank Gore, Jason Witten, Peyton Manning, and finally Andre Brown. Not a bad first seven players drafting from any spot. I wasn't able to get Andre Brown in all three mock drafts as he went 71st in one. When I asked the GM why he took Brown at 71 overall he said,"I heard Brown was splitting carries and getting all the goal-line work." So there's at least one guy doing his fantasy football homework.

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With all that being said Brown clearly looks like the safer and more valuable pick in early August. I would still draft Wilson if the price is right, but that is starting to look like a fourth round pick to me. I still love Wilson in dynasty and keeper formats, but obviously I am a little more cautious in redraft formats.

I'm always available to talk fantasy sports on Twitter @Coachesser and on Facebook at Coachesser's Playbook.

With drafts coming around the corner don't forget to go to www.coachesser.com to check out my rankings, which are up now, and printout my cheat-sheets when they are posted on August 16th. The Cheat-sheets will be updated daily from the 16th to the 30th of August.

A special shout out to Jonathan Bales who inspired this article with his Opportunity Cost look at drafting Jimmy Graham. A great writer who any fantasy football fan should be reading. Even though he does cover the Cowboys.

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