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Scott Fish Bowl 13 Mock Draft Analysis: Top Takeaways
Click to watch: Scott Fish Bowl Mock Draft
Though the annual Hall of Fame preseason game during early-August is often described as the official “starting point” of the Fantasy Football Draft season, I’d kindly like to push back the clock a month further for my nomination instead. Each July, analysts, athletes, actors, musicians, celebrities, and fans from around the Fantasy community come together for a magnificent cause – the Scott Fish Bowl.
Comprised of over 3,000 teams participating in both live and slow-drafts across the country, the Scott Fish Bowl (or SFB) is a celebration of charity and positive vibes, with all proceeds going to the “Fantasy Cares” mission, used to purchase toys for children at Christmas and donating them to Toys for Tots. Aptly named after its creator, the SFB has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, presenting both a networking opportunity for those involved and a chance to demonstrate how wonderful the community is.
The ruleset for the SFB changes slightly each season, but highlights include 6-point touchdowns across the board, bonuses for obtaining first downs, scoring premiums for the tight end position and yardage-based kicker scoring with bonuses for extra points made – ensuring that all positions are relevant. To further throw a wrench in things, the league also uses a SUPERFLEX spot allowing teams to start multiple quarterbacks, and it has a third-round reversal to even out the playing field.
Simply put? The tournament isn’t for the faint of heart, and it requires a good amount of preparation and mock drafts to become acclimated to the format. Great effort is placed to make sure that teams that consistently score a high point total each week are rewarded, with the season average score being added into the six-week playoff tournament to cap things off.
To begin preparation for my slow-draft in the Snapple division on July 10th (yes, you read that right – each division is themed after a childhood food or drink for 2023) I sat down with several analysts from Football Diehards, including Emil Kadlec, Jamie Calandro, Eric Romoff, and John Laub. Our friend Matt Donnelly from Dynasty Vipers was also kind enough to participate, along with a bevy of superfans from across the country.
In an effort to provide myself with the best learning opportunity, I drafted out of the first selection overall – the same position I’ll find myself in a little over a week. Unlike most snake-style formats where the player drafting at 1.01 receives selections 2.12 and 3.01, I needed to wait an additional eleven selections again, thanks to the reversal. Given the ruleset, deep rosters and bone-dry waiver wire, there are many approaches to putting together a solid team each week. Participating in the mock allowed me to make several observations that I’ll share below – hopefully other SFB members will find them insightful.
So, what stood out offhand? Here are a few takeaways.
Quarterbacks dictate the draft
Similar to most leagues that allow managers to start multiple quarterbacks, coming away with multiple solid options within the first five rounds is of paramount importance. Teams that fall within the first half of the draft are pressured to select their first quarterback in the first round, knowing that they will be forced to wait in the third due to the switch. At pick 1.01 I selected Jalen Hurts (though Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen were certainly in consideration) due to his propensity to run and elite surrounding talent on Philadelphia. Seven additional quarterbacks were selected in the first round, and another three were off the board before my 2.12 pick, quickly depleting the position of top-end talent. Interestingly enough, no team in the back-half of the draft started QB-QB, instead choosing to prioritize running backs and tight ends and waiting for the reversal to benefit them. Not feeling particularly inspired by Anthony Richardson or Aaron Rodgers, I opted to instead go against the grain with back-to-back receivers in Stefon Diggs and Amon-Ra St.Brown in the second and third rounds, before taking Kirk Cousins at the 4.01 spot. Understanding that if I waited for another 24 selections before finding my second signal caller I’d likely be in trouble, I was happy to take the perennially underrated Minnesota product.
Having participated in this league for several seasons, I’ve seen what waiting at the position can do to team construction and overall point totals. With the ruleset being even more favorable to quarterbacks in 2023 following the removal of all negative plays (i.e. negative points awarded due to incompletions or interceptions, as in years past) it is of paramount importance to have two “set it and forget it” options at quarterback. Given the depth of the league and impending injury/bye week issues, finding a third option within the middle rounds is also a smart idea. I’d recommend finding someone like Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Purdy or Baker Mayfield as a fallback option just in case.
Don’t be afraid to consider Kickers a viable FLEX option
The red-headed step-child of the Fantasy Football world, kickers have developed a reputation for being a throw-away selection at the end of most drafts, and some leagues have gone so far as to ban the position altogether. In an effort to bring relevance back to the “foot” in “football”, the ruleset in SFB13 is very rewarding to kickers, rewarding them with a massive 3.3 points for completing a simple extra point. Considering that this is equivalent to a 33-yard successful field goal, selecting a kicker with a high number of expected PATs in the middle to late rounds is a viable FLEX option in most weeks. Justin Tucker, Matt Gay and Daniel Carlson will see plenty of love due to their accuracy and strong legs, but snagging a Harrison Butker (Kansas City), Tyler Bass (Buffalo), Jake Elliott (Philadelphia), Michael Badgley (Detroit) or Tristan Vizcaino (Dallas) after round 15 or so is a nice way to inflate your weekly point floor. I would not go crazy by starting multiple players at the position each week, but overlooking it entirely is a mistake. In our mock, 9 of the 12 participating teams took at least one kicker, and Jamie Calandro drafted two. In a territory where dart throws are prevalent, kickers are a viable pivot.
Volume is King
A simple rule for SFB13? When in doubt, select the players who will touch the ball the most often. First-down and carry scoring bonuses propel running backs to higher projected totals than their receiver counterparts, even with the shift to full point-per-reception (PPR) rules. Managers drafting in the back-half of the first-round should be happy selecting Christian McCaffrey, Bijan Robinson, Jonathan Taylor or Saquon Barkley before eyeing a Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase due to the first-down bonuses alone. Running backs such as Austin Ekeler and D’Andre Swift who primarily accrue points via the passing game experience a slight downgrade in the format compared to their counterparts, while short-yardage options like Jamaal Williams or Najee Harris have higher floors.
Examining the data from last year and converting it into the new scoring system, six running backs would have broken the 400-point threshold, including two (Josh Jacobs and McCaffrey) over 500 points. Just two receivers (Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill) would have surpassed 400 points, and neither over 450. Obtaining a solid WR1 and WR2 to anchor the position is still important to be sure, but the amount of points that WR3s generally generate begins to be rivaled by mid-range TEs or even kickers. In the back half of drafts, prioritize players who will expect to see a high volume of touches, or could be in a position for a big workload on account of an injury to the depth chart above them. A few players worth mentioning here would be Quentin Johnson, Isaiah Hodgins, Jakobi Meyers, Kendre Miller, Tank Bigsby, Zach Charbonnet and Kenneth Gainwell – consider their situations and ear mark them.
Travis Kelce and Co.
One of the funnier moments that I had while prepping for the draft was watching Scott Fish discuss the scoring changes for 2023 on his YouTube video that was published several weeks ago. When discussing the breakdown of receiving points, he highlighted that it was still six points for a touchdown grab, a full PPR and an additional full point for every first down. He then went on to draw attention to tight ends receiving an additional point per first down catch, and an additional point per reception, stating:
“Tight ends get some crazy bonuses, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Travis Kelce go off the board first overall in some drafts. He was the fourth-highest scoring player last year. Every reception they get will be two points. Every first down will be two points, on top of the yards. So, a 20-yard first down is a six-point play, equivalent to a touchdown. Huh. I might need to reconsider how I did this. Yeah, that is a lot of points for tight ends”
Think about that for a moment, if you will.
It goes without saying that Kelce should be considered a top-5 option yet again, but the following tier (Mark Andrews, George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, Dallas Goedert, Darren Waller) should also be delved into during the third through seventh rounds. Any team that makes use of the position in 11-personnel needs to be considered. I was able to grab Evan Engram with the 7.12 pick, and shortly afterwards Matt Donnelly grabbed Tyler Higbee at 8.04 – those are some mid-round options to consider.
There are sure to be many ways to construct a winning team for the 2023 Scott Fish Bowl, but the bottom line is that it all comes down to having fun and understanding that this is for a wonderful cause. High point totals and outlasting your competition will be crucial this year, but ensuring that you have depth at QB and RB is also critical. I look forward to participating in many more mock drafts to hone my strategy, and I’d strongly encourage anyone else lucky enough to be a part of this year’s draft to check out the multitude of resources on social media that have been created, including the “GoingFor2” Discord, where there is a separate private chat for each draft position to discuss strategy and sleeper selections.
Best of luck to all, especially those within my Snapple division! Let the games begin!