2021 NFL Draft Guide: Winning the Scott Fish Bowl
Published: Jun 25, 2021, 6:20 AM EDT
The Scott Fish Bowl. It’s essentially become the “Catalina Wine Mixer” of the fantasy football community. If you’re reading this article you probably know what the SFB is already but here’s a quick synopsis for those who are not familiar.
The idea is to have a large fantasy football tournament with industry experts, fans, and celebrities to raise money for charity while strengthening the ties within the fantasy community. It’s essentially a big, virtual opportunity to network, give back, and show everyone what you’re made of. It started while Scott Fish was at FFOasis but became known as the Scott Fish Bowl in 2014 when FFOasis closed down and he chose to continue running the tournament. It has since grown to a field of nearly 2,000 people that all compete with one person each year being crowned the champion. It’s basically Fantasy Football Christmas.
How To Enter
If this kind of thing might interest you (and it should), the first thing to do is sign up at ScottFishBowl.com. There may still be spots open for this year but sign ups are also already open for next season so get that done now. They do a good job of creating a mix of analysts and fans so that might be all it takes to get you in but there are also other ways to increase your odds of getting in, such as winning Fantasy Cares Eliminators, SFB Satellite Leagues, or by winning giveaways (like the spot that the Fantasy Alarm NFL Podcast had to giveaway, for instance - congrats to longtime Fantasy Alarm member @panchrio!). Beyond that, make sure that you are following Scott Fish and Ryan McDowell - the two people that painstakingly organize this each year. They’ve also been known to randomly do fun contests to giveaway spots so might even help to have notifications on...
Scott himself is in charge of choosing the roster and scoring settings and has never been shy to adopt new and creative scoring ideas to both keep the league fresh and stay in tune with the most innovative trends. In order to best understand this article, I suggest you check out the full scoring/rules here but some of the key aspects to keep in mind with the settings are as follows:
- Superflex - this means that you have one mandatory quarterback spot but can also start another quarterback at the flex.
- Quarterback Scoring - on top of being able to start two quarterbacks, there is creative scoring for passing. QBs receive a half point per completion but lose a point per incompletion which creates a bonus for the more accurate quarterbacks. There is also a negative 4 point hit for interceptions, an extra -2 if it’s a pick-6, and sacks are -1. The idea is to create scoring that is more balanced towards winning real life games vs. simply accumulating fantasy points. Sorry to all the Jameis Winston and Blake Bortles enthusiasts.
- First Downs - like many leagues you get a half point per reception but, in this one, you also get a half point per first down.
- Tight End Premium - on top of the half point per reception and first down, tight ends get an additional half point for each, effectively making it full PPR and full point per first down for tight ends only.
- Kicker Flex - this is the new wrinkle for this year. There is no requirement to start a kicker but you can draft and start kickers at a flex spot.
- Starting Spots - the idea of this league is to test the industry’s brightest so it’s one of the deeper leagues. The positions are as follows.
We aren’t going to tell you exactly what players to draft. That goes against the entire spirit of the Scott Fish Bowl. The idea is to show everyone what YOU can do - not draft the guys I like or Howard Bender or Jon Impemba likes. What we will do however, is share some advice for you at each position based both on the format and our experience with the SFB. In reality, that’s more valuable than simply saying “draft this guy” since you can take these pieces of wisdom and apply them to your own thoughts and predictions. With this article we hope to teach you to fish rather than simply giving you a fish that may or may not even help you win YOUR league - no two drafts were the same last year despite there being over a hundred leagues.
First, let’s do some general advice and then we’ll get into actually planning for the positions.
- Donate! Giving back is a MAJOR theme of the tournament and it doesn’t just have to be strict donations to FantasyCares either (though that’s obviously the easiest way). You can buy SFB shirts from Rotowear or Veridian with most of the proceeds going to charity. You can also get a custom avatar made by the SFB-Avi-Makers with money, once again, going to charity. Get out and show your SFB spirit and help raise some cash for a good cause!
- Set up notifications. This is more of a MyFantasyLeague.com tip but the website/app can be tough to use and even tougher to realize when you are on the clock. MFL is used because it’s highly customizable for the weird scoring and that customization carries over to notifications as well. You can set up emails or text messages that tell you when you are on deck/on the clock and I advise you to do so. Which brings me to the next point...
- Do not hold up the clock. This is a “slow draft” meaning there is an eight hour clock. That said, the clock isn’t for you to deliberate your pick for seven and a half hours before taking Austin Hooper - it’s there because people are in different time zones or they have day jobs or commitments. If it’s your turn to pick and you are able to make your pick - make it. Utilize the pre-draft list whenever possible too; if I’m up next pick and there are two guys I want, I’ll put them both in there, set it, and forget it (just remember that the pre-draft is not a queue so it will actually take whoever you put in there instantly). The site keeps track of how long you take on the clock and people in this league actually take pride in how little of the clock they can use throughout the draft so it will make you look good to have a short clock time, if possible. You don’t want to rush it but definitely don’t sit there for hours if you can avoid it.
- Draft players who actually contribute. This one seems obvious but we are talking about a 12 team league with 11 starting spots. The draft is also in JULY which leaves a huge period of exposure to risk. Derrius Guice was going in the fifth-round last year and he’ll probably never play football again. Austin Ekeler got hurt mid SFB draft. A bunch of dudes opted out. Guys like Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Courtland Sutton, etc. were done pretty much the moment the season started. I know it was tempting to draft guys late who weren’t even signed to teams last year like Lamar Miller or Devonta Freeman given their “upside” but what you really need are as many guys who are going to contribute as possible. It gets really ugly when the injuries and bye weeks start piling up - Ty Johnson was a regular starter on my team last year by week 5 or so.
And lastly, the most important piece of general advice….
- HAVE FUN WITH IT! Not only will you be in a league with 12 people that Scott Fish has deemed worthy (meaning they should be good folks) but you should also have an opportunity to join a chat with people picking at the same spot as you (search for #SFB11 and your pick number on Twitter to see if you can find where people are congregating on Twitter or Discord). Make some friends, send some memes, share some knowledge! I actually have a podcast called the FantasyBesties that I do every Monday with four other people I met during the SFBX. We didn’t even know each other this time last year and now we are great friends. That’s part of what makes this thing so damn cool.
So now some positional advice!
There is essentially a draft within the draft in the Scott Fish Bowl. There is the draft and then there is the quarterback draft. By nature of the position and the “superflex” option, the goal of most teams is going to be to have two quarterbacks in their starting lineup most weeks and that makes a lot of sense. If you look at the scoring last year, the top five scoring players were all quarterbacks and guys like Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers scored over 50 more points than the highest position players (Travis Kelce, Alvin Kamara, and Davante Adams). If you look at the top 20 scorers, 13 of them were QBs. Anyone that has played in a superflex or two quarterback league is familiar with this conundrum - with 12 teams and everyone wanting two QBs in every lineup, that’s 24 quarterbacks that go pretty quick and, when you factor in bye weeks and each team ideally wanting three guys, that’s 36 when there’s only 32 NFL teams. So the quarterback draft realistically ends before the regular draft. You don’t have to draft QBs early but just remember that it’s not like other positions - even with your last pick there will be WRs, RBs, TEs, or Ks that will actually play and score points but, based on SFB11 mock data so far, we will already be into the backup QBs by the 13th-14th round. Don’t get caught with your pants down.
Beyond that, the scoring for this league is not like your typical league. If you don’t pay attention to the scoring oddities for interceptions, completions, incompletions, you will be at a severe disadvantage. A guy like 2019 Jameis Winston might have been great in your hometown league but this league does negative four points for interceptions and an extra negative two for interceptions for touchdowns, which makes sense. In this league, throwing a touchdown to your team is worth six points and throwing a touchdown to the other team is negative six. Winston threw 30 picks and set an NFL record for pick-sixes with seven so he actually tallied a ridiculous -134 points on interceptions that year. On the flip side, conservative guys like Phillip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, and Derek Carr weren’t doing much for you in your typical fantasy leagues where you start one QB but, in this format, they were QBs 13, 14, and 15 last year and were incredibly valuable. You have to remember that in superflex there are essentially 24 starting QBs so these guys were starting every single week. If you think of it this way, there are sneaky ways to get quarterback value but just don’t miss the boat.
Anyone who has read my Ultimate Tight End Guide the past couple years knows that there is a strict philosophy to it. In that guide we are talking about your typical 10-12 team league that starts one tight end so the entire goal is to get your hands on a singular tight end that is top five or six at their position. It pains me to say it but, for the Scott Fish Bowl, that line of thinking needs to go out the window completely.
Let’s do a little math here. Each Scott Fish Bowl division is 12 teams and you have 11 starting spots. Without even considering bye weeks, that’s 132 players starting every week. Four of those starting spots are flexes, so you can essentially start any player there. This format also is a “tight end premium” league so while a catch or first down is half a point for most players, it’s a full point for tight ends. If we look at last year’s scoring, out of the top 132 players, 20 of them were tight ends. So it’s not at all like your typical league where there are 5-6 difference makers and 10-12 total guys that just have to be started because of the rules. In this league you HAVE to start at least one tight end but in many weeks teams in your league will be starting two, three even four. So the tight end draft game doesn’t stop when the 10th or 12th tight end goes off the board, it goes DEEP.
The tight end premium also means that tight ends are capable of scoring just as many points as WRs or RBs. In fact, Travis Kelce last year scored MORE points than any WR or RB. Yes, more than Alvin Kamara or Davante Adams. Kelce was player six overall and Darren Waller was 15. Historically in these types of formats what you see are the elite tight ends being heavily drafted and at some point a run on tight ends until everyone has “their tight end”. But often people forget that, with so many flex spots, you don’t want to just stop at one tight end if there are viable players out there. Because of this, there is value to be had in that tight end 10-20 range and even well beyond. A guy like Jimmy Graham was being drafted outside the top 20 tight ends last year but he ended up finishing as the tight end 10 in this format and as the 64th player overall. In a league where 132 are started. That extra half point for receptions and first downs is no joke.
To a certain degree, running backs can be treated as you normally would in any typical half PPR, superflex league. Though there is one twist that has hidden ramifications within the scoring system. And that’s the first down scoring. Here is a chart that shows how NFL teams ranked in total yards and total first downs in 2020.
This may seem obvious to a lot of people and it should. Better offenses go for more yards and, thus, more first downs. But in the context of the SFB, every one of those first downs is worth points. Take the Cowboys for example. They were kind of a bad team overall and a mediocre offense without Dak Prescott and the O-line injuries, but they finished seventh in first downs. A lot of those were running the ball. So, unlike some of your other formats, Ezekiel Elliott finished RB8 in the SFB. In this league you HAVE to start two RBs at all times and there are four flexes so you can start upwards of SIX running backs at a time. Ronald Jones had 50 first downs and Todd Gurley had 61 - they finished as RB17 and RB24 in this format meaning they were in a starting lineup for a team every single week. With so many players starting, even “bad” running backs on decent teams that are getting those first downs are going to offer a nice floor when the injuries and bye weeks hit. And they hit hard.
If there is one position you should be able to wait on a bit in this format, it’s this one. First off, wide receivers simply don’t score as much as other positions in a format like this. Davante Adams scored 18 touchdowns - he wasn’t even a top 10 player. In fact, he was 14th, and he and Tyreek Hill were the only wide receivers to finish in the top 20. Every NFL team essentially uses two to three WRs on most snaps, so I have a feeling Scott Fish set it up this way. He knows there are going to be more viable wide receivers than any other position so didn’t want them to be TOO powerful.
Here is something else to consider when making your WR decisions. You might be deciding between a wide receiver and a tight end. Let’s say that wide receiver plays slot so he’s out there for three WR sets but he comes off the field for two WR sets. Let’s say the tight end is a guy who plays some snaps at slot and some snaps at in-line tight end - not a guy you’d consider even a TE1. You need to remember that this league offers literal double points to the tight end for his catches and first downs. Remember Jimmy Graham who we mentioned earlier? Here’s how he compared to some well known slot receivers.
So, given the half PPR and no bonuses, you might want to avoid low average depth of target guys - especially those who aren’t focal points or the offense or don’t play a full snap share. Guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, Stefon Diggs on the other hand never leave the field and are go-to guys in their offense, registering over 70 first downs last year. So maybe take a moment to think who the ball might go to on third and “gotta have it”. Who is going to be a team’s Julian Edelman who plays the slot but moves to flanker for two wide sets and is a third down darling?
If you’re anything like me, your immediate reaction would be to be dismissive of the kicker position. But, after a bit of discussion with kicker guru Linda Godfrey, I now realize how antiquated that view is - especially in this format.
One of the pieces of general advice from this article was to draft players who are going to contribute (as opposed to highly speculative pieces that might not factor in at all). Well the reality here is that, per data from Linda, the top couple kickers (Jason Saunders and Younghoe Koo) actually scored more points per game than the top 12 tight ends scored in PPR last year on average. They would have factored in as mid to back end TEs if eligible at that position. Now, their ceiling will be capped a bit and there may not be a huge difference from mid range kickers to the low range kickers so you might not need to reach too high for them. But I can tell you right now that quite a few kickers are going to outscore “startable” WRs and RBs so they will absolutely be in the mix for me when push comes to shove and I just need a guy who has a chance to score 6-10 points. If this is your first time playing the Scott Fish Bowl, I can assure you that it gets scrappy out there.
If you aren’t in the big SFB this year then don’t fret - there are only so many spots and next year is another year. For now, get signed up for next year and do yourself a favor and find your way into an SFB satellite (or do like I do and make a side league with your hometown friends with SFB scoring every year). Its just a cool thing to get involved with regardless so be sure to pop in Twitter with #SFB11. Good luck everyone and for any additional questions or advice, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @CoopAFiasco!