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Why I Refuse to Use the Eight-Letter “H” Word

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While it is always sad when the calendar moves from summer into fall, the one saving grace for sports fans is the return of the NFL. The teams are getting ready, preseason games are well underway, and fantasy players all over the world are gearing up for their drafts. Great times!

Even though it has been a busy summer, I have had the fortunate pleasure of taking part in a number of drafts already, including several that we are calling “Shark Staff Drafts” here at The advent of mobile devices has made this easier than ever. I have make selections from home, while taking my dog around the block, in my car (pulled over to the side of the road, of course), tailgating at various sporting events, on vacation, at a cookout, on the beach, and while waiting in line to jump off a bridge (really). What an age we live in where drafting a fantasy football team can be done anywhere.

There is no replacement for a live draft, and I encourage those that are able, to keep this tradition going with what surely are some of your best and lifelong friends. Of the many leagues that I compete in, the original league that started all this, the one that I care the most about (and is the toughest to win!), will be having its 19th annual draft next week. Of the 12 original members, only one has moved away from the league. Owners routinely fly in from Nashville and Atlanta in the yearly tradition (pilgrimage?) of spending an afternoon trying to knock a small white ball into an equally small cup, to congregating together in the evening to calling out player names. Yea, a few of us might partake in some liquid suds along the way, too.

I have never been one to buy into the strategy of the handcuf-, making sure to draft the backup to your starting running back. The idea of artificially inflating a player’s value based on another player already on the roster defeats the whole purpose of value-based drafting. Going with this strategy creates a situation where if someone else ends up over-inflating your now over-inflated value, you end up angry and distracted from the task at hand.

Case in point, I own LeSean McCoy in several leagues. I have him in my top-3 where others may have him in their top-7. In none of my drafts where I selected him with my top pick did I then make it a point of making sure to select Bryce Brown. The statistics suggest that it makes sense to own your own backup, but it’s the value of the selection that drives me away.

Let’s talk about specific examples. Last year in a typical scoring system, McCoy averaged 20 fantasy points in games that he played. He missed four games, and in those games his backup Bryce Brown averaged 20 fantasy points. Matt Forte averaged 17 fantasy points; when he missed a game his backup Michael Bush scored 17 points. In 2011, Arian Foster averaged 26 fantasy points and missed three games; Ben Tate went on to average 18 points in his absence. Also that year, Adrian Peterson averaged 19 points and missed four games; Toby Gerhart averaged 18 points in his absence. Those are some compelling arguments for making sure to have the backup.

On the flip side, last year Darren Sproles averaged 16 fantasy points and missed three games. In his absence, Pierre Thomas averaged seven points while Mark Ingram averaged 11 points. In 2011, Marshawn Lynch averaged 19 fantasy points; in the game he missed Justin Forsett scored three points and Leon Washington scored nine points. Compelling and opposite arguments against having the backup.

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