Players that win Fantasy championships

Charlie Sheen has made the word "winning" into one of the most overused and annoying catch phrases we've heard in several years. But to Fantasy owners, winning is still important. And yes, we have to talk about it all the time.

But what is the key to winning in Fantasy Football? Is it a good draft, where you get every player in every round that you want? Or is it playing the waiver wire and adding the right players before they become stars?

The answer for most Fantasy champions is likely both. The smart Fantasy owner knows the team picked on Draft Day rarely looks exactly the same by the time the playoffs start. At the same time, you don't want to be on the waiver wire every week and tweaking your roster in a complete overhaul.

To win a Fantasy title you need a solid roster on Draft Day and then make enough good additions during the year to have your team peaking in the postseason. And the data we have here for winning percentage over the past two seasons supports that notion.

Based on data from Fantasy leagues, owners with Arian Foster had a .623 winning percentage in 2010. That's not hard to believe since Foster was the No. 1 running back last year, but his average draft position was Round 5. Even if you took Foster in Round 2, he was still a steal on Draft Day.

At No. 2 was Michael Vick (.573 winning percentage), and we all know he wasn't drafted in the majority of leagues. The same goes for Peyton Hillis (.550) at No. 8 and Jacob Tamme (.549) at No. 9.

The study is based on the winning percentage for Fantasy owners of all players owned by 80 percent or more in leagues on, which came to about 160 players. Only commissioner leagues were considered with at least eight Fantasy teams or more. And the results showed some interesting points.

For example, owners who added Tamme after Dallas Clark went down in Week 6 with a wrist injury were happy. Adrian Peterson (.544) and Aaron Rodgers (.533) were the only players drafted in Round 1 last year that finished in the Top 20 in win percentage.

San Diego tight end Antonio Gates didn't factor for Fantasy owners in the playoffs because of foot and toe injuries, but he still had a .542 win percentage, good enough for No. 12 overall. And his teammate, wide receiver Vincent Jackson , only played in five games following a holdout, but he still had a .533 win percentage at No. 21 overall.

To fully understand this study, you have to realize that the players with the highest win percentage were all part of quality rosters, which accounted for their high total. Based on their average draft position, it's conceivable that a Fantasy owner drafted well with Peterson in Round 1, Roddy White in Round 2, Jamaal Charles in Round 3, Gates in Round 4, Dwayne Bowe in Round 5, Ahmad Bradshaw in Round 6 and Mike Wallace in Round 7 -- players who all had a .536 win percentage or higher, good enough for the Top 15.

If they whiffed on quarterback, all they had to do was add Vick off the waiver wire, and Tamme would have been a suitable replacement for Gates. You also could have added Hillis, Brandon Lloyd or Ryan Torain off waivers, and your Fantasy team was likely a championship contender.

On the other hand, you could have had this draft: Randy Moss in Round 1, Ryan Mathews in Round 2, Shonn Greene in Round 3, Steve Smith of the Giants in Round 4, Carson Palmer in Round 5, Beanie Wells in Round 6 and Donald Driver in Round 7. These players were all in the bottom 30 of win percentage at .475 or lower. Only a perfect trip to the waiver wire could have saved this team, but that's probably unlikely.

If you look back at the 2009 winning percentage, the data suggests again that a good draft followed by quality additions off the waiver wire is the key to success. In 2009, Chris Johnson (.604) had the highest win percentage along with other top draft picks like Aaron Rodgers (.567), Ray Rice (.564), Maurice Jones-Drew (.550), Andre Johnson (.542) and Reggie Wayne (.541).

But if you take a closer look, you'll also see names like Garrett Hartley (.563), Jerome Harrison (.557), Fred Davis (.548) and Jermichael Finley (.539) in the Top 15. These guys were added off the waiver wire and helped many owners win championships.

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 that they won or lost their league based on the picks they made.

Playing the waiver wire might be more important than the draft. If you make the right moves, you might end up with a winning roster. It's something to keep in mind when looking ahead to 2011.

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