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Offseason Extra: Winning percentage matters

Senior Fantasy Writer
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There will be a lot of debate about taking Aaron Rodgers at No. 1 overall on Draft Day. He finished as the highest scorer in standard leagues in 2011 and it makes sense to take him with the top spot if you want a quarterback in Round 1.

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For you pro-Rodgers, pro-quarterback owners, this research is right up your alley. Rodgers finished as the No. 1 player based on win percentage in CBSSports.com leagues at 59.8 percent. And he wasn't alone. There were three quarterbacks in the Top 12 overall with Drew Brees (57.4 percent) and Tom Brady (54.8).

This study is to show how players affected Fantasy leagues and not individual performance. It is based on the winning percentage for Fantasy owners of all players owned by 80 percent or more in leagues on CBSSports.com, which came to about 150 players. Only paid leagues were considered with at least eight Fantasy teams or more. And the results produced some interesting highlights.

For example, of the Top 12 players drafted based on Average Draft Position -- Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Rodgers, Jamaal Charles, Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, Andre Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Brady and Michael Turner -- only Rodgers, McCoy (57.6), Rice (56.8), Foster (55.6) and Brady (54.8) lived up to the billing. Rob Gronkowski (58 percent) presented the best value since he was the No. 2 most successful skill player yet he was drafted the latest at 107 overall.

To fully understand this study, you have to realize that the players with the highest win percentage were all part of rosters that were likely already successful, which accounted for their high total. Those owners who drafted well then made quality additions off the waiver wire, which is why players like C.J. Spiller (54.0), Toby Gerhart (53.9) and Victor Cruz (53.4) are all in the Top 20 of win percentage.

It's not like Spiller and Gerhart were better Fantasy options than Fred Jackson and Peterson, respectively, but they helped Fantasy owners more based on their late-season success. Cruz also was a player likely added to an already-solid team and his overall production just made that roster even better.

It might seem obvious that a good draft along with the right additions off the waiver wire is the key to winning in Fantasy Football. But you'd be surprised how many owners walk away on Draft Day saying they won or lost their league based on the picks they made.

As for the quarterbacks, the old-school owner who still prefers running backs first can use Matthew Stafford (55.6 percent) as his argument against taking Rodgers or another passer in Round 1. Stafford was the No. 11 quarterback drafted at No. 68 overall, but he still finished No. 9 in win percentage based on his amazing year in 2011.

Top 50 winning percentage

1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers (59.8 percent)
2. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots (58.0 percent)
3. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles (57.6 percent)
4. Drew Brees, QB, Saints (57.4 percent)
5. Wes Welker, WR, Patriots (57.2 percent)
6. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints (57.0 percent)
7. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions (56.8 percent)
8. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens (56.8 percent)
9. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions (55.6 percent)
10. Arian Foster, RB, Texans (55.6 percent)
11. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots (54.8 percent)
12. Seahawks, DST (54.5 percent)
13. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers (54.2 percent)
14. C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills (54.0 percent)
15. Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings (53.9 percent)
16. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks (53.7 percent)
17. Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers (53.5 percent)
18. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants (53.4 percent)
19. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars (53.2 percent)
20. Laurent Robinson, WR, Cowboys (53.1 percent)
21. 49ers, DST (53.1 percent)
22. Titans, DST (53.0 percent)
23. Michael Bush, RB, Raiders (52.9 percent)
24. Steve Smith, WR, Panthers (52.9 percent)
25. David Akers, K, 49ers (52.8 percent)
26. John Kasay, K, Saints (52.8 percent)
27. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers (52.5 percent)
28. Bengals, DST (52.5 percent)
29. Ravens, DST (52.4 percent)
30. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers (52.4 percent)
31. Marques Colston, WR, Saints (52.3 percent)
32. Donald Brown, RB, Colts (52.2 percent)
33. Broncos, DST (52.2 percent)
34. Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys (52.1 percent)
35. Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings (52.1 percent)
36. Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers (52.0 percent)
37. Texans, DST (52.0 percent)
38. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals (51.9 percent)
39. Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins (51.8 percent)
40. Santana Moss, WR, Redskins (51.7 percent)
41. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants (51.7 percent)
42. Malcolm Floyd, WR, Chargers (51.6 percent)
43. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers (51.6 percent)
44. Matt Forte, RB, Bears (51.6 percent)
45. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants (51.6 percent)
46. Nick Novak, K, Chargers (51.5 percent)
47. Jabar Gaffney, WR, Redskins (51.4 percent)
48. Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins (51.3 percent)
49. Darren Sproles, RB, Saints (51.3 percent)
50. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals (51.2 percent)

Biggest surprise: Usually the best waiver-wire additions or late draft picks have the highest win percentage, so it's surprising that guys like Nelson, Lynch, Cruz, Newton and Sproles weren't more successful. But you could see which late-season additions made an impact with players like Spiller, Gerhart and Robinson having a good stretch run after being added to quality rosters.
Biggest disappointment: The No. 1 overall pick based on his ADP is not in the Top 50. Peterson's win percentage was just 50.8, and he was a tremendous letdown to a lot of owners this season. The same goes for guys like Chris Johnson (47.0), Philip Rivers (46.8), DeSean Jackson (46.7), Andre Johnson (45.7) and Michael Vick (43.3). But you didn't need win percentage to tell you those players struggled in 2011.
Looking ahead to 2012: There is a lot of value in taking a quarterback in the first round since Rodgers, Brees and Brady lived up their billing as top picks. You know they will play 16 games, and they should continue to post outstanding stats. It also might be worth your while to draft Gronkowski and Graham with early-round picks because they have the chance to play at a high level, and an elite tight end clearly is a difference maker in all leagues.

Top 12 quarterbacks

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1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (59.8 percent)
2. Drew Brees, Saints (57.4 percent)
3. Matthew Stafford, Lions (55.6 percent)
4. Tom Brady, Patriots (54.8 percent)
5. Cam Newton, Panthers (52.5 percent)
6. Tony Romo, Cowboys (51.2 percent)
7. Eli Manning, Giants (51.1 percent)
8. Tim Tebow, Broncos (50.3 percent)
9. Andy Dalton, Bengals (50.0 percent)
10. Matt Ryan, Falcons (49.2 percent)
11. Alex Smith, 49ers (48.8 percent)
12. Carson Palmer, Raiders (48.6 percent)

Biggest surprise: I would have expected Ryan to be higher on the list based on how he finished the season. But the owner who drafted Ryan struggled early, and he was only started in more than 75 percent of leagues once from Week 2 to Week 9. But he finished strong even though his win percentage didn't reflect that.
Biggest disappointment: The names missing from this list illustrates the struggles of many of the top-tier quarterbacks. Vick, Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger (47.2), Josh Freeman (46.4) and Matt Schaub, who didn't even make the Top 150 of win percentage, all had losing records for Fantasy owners. They all had down seasons due to injuries or inconsistent play, and all five need to play better in 2012 to help Fantasy owners be more successful.
Looking ahead to 2012: If you draft a good quarterback it is still in your best interest to have a quality backup, even for trade bait. Tebow, Dalton, Smith and Palmer were not drafted in the majority of leagues, but they still helped owners more than Vick, Freeman, Rivers, Schaub and Roethlisberger. Again, it's all a matter of the team around them, but having a good backup quarterback can still help your Fantasy squad.

Top 12 running backs

1. LeSean McCoy, Eagles (57.6 percent)
2. Ray Rice, Ravens (56.8 percent)
3. Arian Foster, Texans (55.6 percent)
4. C.J. Spiller, Bills (54 percent)
5. Toby Gerhart, Vikings (53.9 percent)
6. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (53.7 percent)
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (53.1 percent)
8. Michael Bush, Raiders (52.9 percent)
9. Ryan Mathews, Chargers (52.4 percent)
10. Donald Brown, Colts (52.2 percent)
11. Matt Forte, Bears (51.6 percent)
12. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants (51.6 percent)

Biggest surprise: Bush wasn't expected to be a starting option for many Fantasy owners, but he proved to be an excellent replacement for the injured Darren McFadden. The same goes for Spiller and Gerhart, but they came on at the end of the season. Brown also turned out to be a good flex option or No. 2 running back as he played a lot for the injured Joseph Addai. If you don't draft running backs early you can still find quality options by playing the waiver wire, which is proven here.
Biggest disappointment: Like the quarterbacks, there are many high-profile players missing with Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall (47.0), Peyton Hillis (47.5), LeGarrette Blount (47.8) and Frank Gore (49.0) all finishing with losing records. Reggie Bush (51.3) and Kevin Smith (49.4) were also surprises that they didn't finish with a better percentage given that Bush was drafted in Round 7 or later in most leagues, and Smith was a late waiver wire gem.
Looking ahead to 2012: The Top 3 running backs in win percentage this season should be the Top 3 players drafted in most leagues. Even though someone will take Rodgers with one of those picks, you still have a better chance of building a quality roster with McCoy and Stafford (average of 56.6 percent win percentage) with your first two picks then taking Rodgers and Gore (average of 54.4).

Top 12 wide receivers

1. Wes Welker, Patriots (57.2 percent)
2. Calvin Johnson, Lions (56.8 percent)
3. Jordy Nelson, Packers (54.2 percent)
4. Mike Wallace, Steelers (53.5 percent)
5. Victor Cruz, Giants (53.4 percent)
6. Laurent Robinson, Cowboys (53.1 percent)
7. Steve Smith, Panthers (52.9 percent)
8. Marques Colston, Saints (52.3 percent)
9. Percy Harvin, Vikings (52.1 percent)
10. Vincent Jackson, Chargers (52.0 percent)
11. A.J. Green, Bengals (51.8 percent)
12. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins (51.7 percent)

Biggest surprise: Nelson and Cruz were two of the best waiver wire additions this season, and Robinson came on late to help many Fantasy owners. They are great examples for owners who are against drafting receivers early. Even in 2010, the No. 1 receiver in standard leagues was another free agent in Brandon Lloyd. But still, you can see that taking Johnson as the No. 1 receiver worked out well as he finished No. 2 in win percentage at his position.
Biggest disappointment: Roddy White (50.7), like Ryan, got off to a slow start, which hurt his overall production. Andre Johnson's injury also ruined his year, and Reggie Wayne (47.0) suffered with Peyton Manning out all season. DeSean Jackson might have been the biggest disappointment since he let his contract situation impact his performance, and Fantasy owners who continued to start him likely suffered the most.
Looking ahead to 2012: Nelson and Cruz have played their way into being drafted as Top 10 receivers. They have elite quarterbacks, and their roles should only continue to expand in tremendous passing offenses. Green also has proven to be a standout Fantasy receiver even though he was just a rookie in 2011.

Top 12 tight ends

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (58.0 percent)
2. Jimmy Graham, Saints (57.0 percent)
3. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots (51.1 percent)
4. Jason Witten, Cowboys (51.0 percent)
5. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons (51.0 percent)
6. Brent Celek, Eagles (50.7 percent)
7. Antonio Gates, Chargers (50.1 percent)
8. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals (49.9 percent)
9. Jermichael Finley, Packers (49.7 percent)
10. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions (49.3 percent)
11. Dustin Keller, Jets (48.7 percent)
12. Kellen Winslow, Bucs (48.4 percent)

Biggest surprise: Graham in Round 8, Gronkowski in Round 9 and Hernandez in Round 11 presented some of the best value on Draft Day at any position since they were the Top 3 tight ends in Fantasy production as well as win percentage. Gates was still helpful despite dealing with injuries most of the year, and Witten was also successful even though he struggled. Gonzalez continues to defy age by producing at a high level despite turning 36 in 2012.
Biggest disappointment: Fantasy owners watching the NFL playoffs had to be throwing things watching Vernon Davis play at an elite level after struggling during the year. He had four touchdowns against the Saints and Giants but finished with a win percentage near the bottom at 48.2. Davis should rebound in 2012, but he left a lot of production on the field until the postseason.
Looking ahead to 2012: The biggest decision facing Fantasy owners, especially early in Round 2, is when to draft Gronkowski. If you take him early and he continues to perform at a high level (he has 28 touchdowns through two seasons) then he will pay off in a big way. But if he struggles and another tight end emerges late (Gresham is a great candidate, as is Jared Cook) then you could ruin your team. We think Gronkowski is worth the risk based on how he's done so far in his career.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Report: Packers' Andrew Quarless arrested on gun charges
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:07 pm ET) Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested for firing a gun twice in Miami on Saturday, per the Miami New Times.

Quarless was involved in a fight at South Beach and fired the gun into the ground. 


Titans receivers can thrive in YAC with Marcus Mariota's accuracy
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) The Titans wide receiving corps could gain more yards after the catch this season because of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and his accurate throws, per ESPN.com.

The Titans were 24th in the league in yards after the catch last season, but with Mariota under center that can all change.

“If you have an accurate quarterback, it allows us to get more yards after that catch,” wide receiver Harry Douglas said. “And that’s one thing that makes a receiver dynamic -- first being able to catch the ball and then being able to do some things with it after you catch it. I feel like [to this point] Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers.”


Saints RB Khiry Robinson doesn't feel he's on outside looking in
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) Saints running back Khiry Robinson might be the least known of his backfield counterparts, but he doesn't feel like the off man out, per ESPN.com.

Robinson knows the team is heavily invested in the likes of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, but he's still confident he can thrive in whatever role the Saints put him in.

“I’m the type of person, I’m gonna get what I get and do what I do with it. So whether it’s 20 carries or one carry, I’m gonna do the best of my ability every play,” Robinson said.

Robinson has shown flashes of success during his three years in the league. Injuries played a key role against him last season, which can ultimately put him as the third back on the depth chart. He will use the offseason to continue to improve and challenge his counterparts for playing time.

“I just gotta keep working,” Robinson. “It’s all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we’ve got another player right up there to do the same thing.”


Browns OL Michael Bowie itching to compete for starting spot
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Browns offensive lineman Michael Bowie is not required to report to training camp until the end of July. But never mind that - he's heading out after the last Independence Day firework explodes in the sky.

Bowie is itching to get started. He missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury after starting for Seattle on its Super Bowl title team in 2013. He is seeking to stay in tip-top shape in an attempt to land a starting spot on a Cleveland line that is the strength of the team.

"It's up to them to decide who is the best five," Bowie told the team website. "All I can do is take care of my business. Hopefully I can get a shot. That's what I'm working for."

Bowie participated fully in the offseason program, working mostly with the second team at right tackle. That will likely be the spot at which he competes for a starting job. Incumbent Mitchell Schwartz has not performed particularly well there and Mike Pettine has vowed there will be competition all over the field in camp.


Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan nearly recovered from knee surgery
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(7/3/2015) Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan appears to be on target to join the team for training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery that prevented him from participating in earlier offseason activities.

Kerrigan, who registered a career-high 13 1/2 sacks a year ago, had the operation to alleviate pain in the area.

"My leg feels really good and I'm glad I got the surgery - not just for football but it makes my everyday life feel better so I'm glad I got it done," he told CSN Washington. "Now it's just a matter of getting stronger and getting into shape."

Kerrigan added that he's been running and now only needs to regain strength to insure his place at training camp.


Texans waive DT Brandon Ivory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Texans waived rookie defensive tackle Brandon Ivory on Thursday, according to ESPN.com

Ivory was arrested on first degree burglary charges in Tuscaloosa, Ala. just one day ago. Ivory's agent Jeff Guerriero said Ivory is not guilty of the charge. 

"I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges," Guerriero said. 


Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended 4 games for PED use
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the team announced. 

It's unknown at this time what drug Gates tested positive for. Gates, in a statement, said he was unaware that he took a banned substance

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

With Gates out for four games, the Chargers will turn to Ladarius Green as the team's top tight end, though it was expected for Green to continue getting more looks in the passing game. Green is entering the final season of his rookie contract. 

The Chargers expressed disappointment in Gates for his suspension but plans to stick with the longtime veteran through the suspension. 

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers stated. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."  


Packers' Datone Jones out 1 game for substance-abuse violation
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(7/2/2015) Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones will be suspended for one game for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFL.com. 

Jones will miss Green Bay's season-opener against the Bears. In 2014, Jones totaled 22 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 13 games played. 


Cowboys LB Rolando McClain suspended four games for 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Cowboys announced that linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season due to violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

McClain hasn't been able to participate much in offseason workouts due to going under offseason knee surgery. McClain will be eligible to practice in training camp and is expected to be healthy by then. 

"I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake. I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error," McClain said in a statement, via CSN Bay Area. "I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.

In 2014, McClain, who had previously retired twice before being traded from the Ravens to the Cowboys, totaled 81 tackles and a sack in 13 games played.


Jets DL Sheldon Richardson suspended four games
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(7/2/2015) Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was suspended four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, the NFL announced Thursday.

“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans," Richardson said in a statement via the Jets, per Fox Sports. "However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on. I don't want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won't be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field.”

Richardson, who was a 2013 first-round pick, is entering his third season in the NFL. He was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2014.

He has totaled 84 tackles and 11 1/2 sacks in 32 career games. He also has one safety.


 
 
 
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