Cody Pagels
The Weekly Barometer - Week 9

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Barring some crazy stat correction, I won in my 12-person money league last week despite scoring the 11th-most points. I have a very good team. Before last week’s stinker I was leading the league in points scored, but I can’t deny that luck has been a big help in my 7-1 start. I like to think of it as karma paying me back for the 2011 season where, no joke, through four weeks I was second in points scored and 0-4. Not once, but twice, I had the second-highest point total and had the horrible luck to run into the top scorer of the week.

This brings my mind to the great debate of whether head-to-head fantasy leagues are inherently unfair, and if the rotisserie format is the way to go. I’m not going to go over all of the particulars, but a rotisserie league essentially has no head-to-head matchups and determines winners based on total points scored on the season. It’s certainly the more “fair” system because there’s no guy who was eighth in points sneaking into the playoffs under cover of a handful of lucky matchups.

But the more I think about it, the more I say “forget fairness!” Smart owners who play the game well will invariably succeed more often than not, but it’s impossible to eliminate the luck aspect of the game. If we change the entire format to eliminate unfair head-to-head matchups, where does it stop? Should people who drafted Julio Jones be spotted 14 points a week? Should you be gifted top waiver priority if your starting running back gets hurt? Should the people who drafted DeSean Jackson be docked points? They were expecting him to be a WR3 with the potential to produce like a WR2. Nobody who drafted him honestly expected top-10 wide receiver production. Why should they be rewarded for good luck?

The head-to-head format we all know and love isn’t always fair, but it’s the only format where you get to take on your friends directly and talk smack. Needing 20 points from your quarterback on Monday night to beat your stupid friend from high school is the kind of dramatic climax that rotisserie leagues can’t create. In short, fantasy football is supposed to be fun, head-to-head is the most fun format, and I stand by it. That being said, if I score 160 points next week and lose I will immediately change my opinion to the exact opposite of everything I just said.

So anyway, some guys played football last weekend. Some of them did way better than expected and some did way worse. Let’s barometerize these fools.

Quarterbacks

Robert Griffin III (Week 8 at Denver: 132 passing yards, TD, 2 INT, 1 fumble, 7 rushing yards)

The knee injury against Denver is a brutal reminder of why Griffin III this season is like picking your poison in fantasy. The injury itself doesn’t seem to be overly serious, but it reminds you that there are two Griffin IIIs, and both make his owners uneasy. You get to choose from the completely ordinary fantasy performer who doesn’t run, or the stud who could get hurt at any time. With Peyton Manning , Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford and Colin Kaepernick on a bye in Week 9, Griffin makes a recommended top-12 start at home against a generous San Diego defense, but downgrade expectations in general, because he just isn’t the guy who carried you to the playoffs last year.

Griffin III’s Status: Start

Terrelle Pryor (Week 8 vs. Pittsburgh: 88 passing yards, 2 INT, 106 rushing yards, TD)

His arm was useless for fantasy purposes, but one play, a 93-yard touchdown run, was enough to turn a disaster into a solid fantasy performance. He’s way too raw as a passer, he’s far too ineffective against good defenses, and that sprint Sunday was actually only his first rushing touchdown on the season despite leading the team in rushing yardage. For those reasons he isn’t even in the conversation as a weekly play, but he certainly has his moments. He’s matched up against a poor Philadelphia defense. As a bye week filler you could do far worse.

Pryor’s Status: Usable Bye Week Filler

Alex Smith (Week 8 vs. Cleveland: 225 passing yards, 2 TD, 40 rushing yards)

Maybe it’s time to seriously consider starting Smith and his tiny hands. The line on him all season has been that he’s better in real life than in fantasy, but with multiple passing touchdowns in 4-of-8 games and more rushing yardage than the likes of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck , he’s producing better than expected. The overall offensive approach limits his upside, but he’s actually scoring like a low-end No. 1 quarterback and every single matchup he has remaining is favorable. He may be on waiver wire in your league, or his owner probably doesn’t believe in him at all. I can’t see the harm in at least getting him on your roster.

Smith’s Status: Get Him

Running Backs

Andre Ellington (Week 8 vs. Atlanta: 154 rushing yards, TD, 2 receptions, 8 yards)

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has shown incredible loyalty to Rashard Mendenhall on account of their history together in Pittsburgh, but after what transpired against Atlanta, I don’t know how Ellington doesn’t enjoy a stranglehold on the feature role going forward. Arians is loyal, but he’s not an idiot. Ellington is averaging 7.7 yards per carry, and Mendenhall is averaging 3.1. Case closed. After the Week 9 bye, the Cardinals have a largely inviting rushing schedule going forward.

Ellington’s Stauts: Start With Confidence

Mike James (Week 8 vs. Carolina: 39 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 25 yards)

His 39 yards on 10 carries isn’t half bad against a surprisingly good Carolina defense, and he proved to be a competent receiver as well, which can help him produce even after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have inevitably fallen behind by multiple scores and have completely abandoned the run. He’s completely unstartable for his next nightmare matchup against Seattle, but better matchups are on the horizon, Doug Martin ’s status is still up in the air, and James hasn’t looked completely worthless. Stash him if you’ve got him, and acquiring him on the cheap isn’t the worst idea ever.

James’ Status: Bench

Peyton Hillis (Week 8 at Philadelphia: 70 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 15 yards)

And Hillis pulls off a second week of exceeding expectations. They weren’t very high since we’re talking about a soybean farmer who is three years removed from his lone relevant season as a football player, but still, good for him. The Giants have a bye in Week 9, and Week 10 could mark the return of any combination of Andre Brown, Brandon Jacobs and David Wilson . With a bye week to shake off more rust, Hillis could be a quality Week 10 play against an Oakland defense that’s average against the run, but his value likely craters if any one of those three players come back. Don’t trade away any players with potential long-term value, but don’t drop him if you have him either. Let’s take a wait-and-see approach here.

Hillis’ Status: Wait



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