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2008 Stat Lab Predictions



It’s September here in New York City, which has commuters gathering towards the oncoming train for that funky yet cooling and somehow comforting breeze, tennis fans from around the world gathering in Queens to watch the tennis elite, and Mets fans gathering in bars to get good and wasted should the team find a way to blow it again. It’s also about the right time to lay out some predictions for this coming season, and recapping some things you may have missed this offseason.


The guy in your league who drafted all the “handcuffs” is going to miss the playoffs.

Handcuffing is expensive, and usually doesn’t make sense, because most backups aren’t good enough to start. The owners who took a bunch of bets on injuries will lose, because they passed on real value to get guys that probably won’t see much time, and generally suck. Those who sought quality depth and value at running back will win.


If you are this guy, it’s not too late to make some trades for some of the less popular but better-bet running backs, maybe exploiting paranoid fears of owners of supposedly “injury prone” players. Stop into the

Trade/Waiver forum for help.


The 2nd round of your 2009 Fantasy Draft will be ripe with running backs.

Last year happened to be a really bad year for injury and inexperience, which has created confusion in a lot of backfields, and led to widespread panic about

non-existent trends towards RBBCs and other assorted myths. The numbers say NFL coaches want the best guy on the field as much as possible, and this season, the coaches are going to figure out who those guys are. I expect a number of guys to shoot up the draft board next year, and flesh out the pool of solid backs to choose from. I’m looking for

Earnest Graham,

Selvin Young, perhaps

Julius Jones, and maybe even both of the




When this happens, here are some suggested Google queries to find writers you‘ll know never to trust again: “death of fantasy rb,” “draft qb first round,” “draft wr first round,” and “espn.”


Frank Gore owners will be disappointed, again.

Starting quarterback and benefactor of

Mike Martz’s nepotism,

J.T. O’Sullivan, does not instill a lot of confidence. The passing game will still struggle, hurting Gore’s numbers. It also turns out that

San Francisco

’s schedule is very run-unfriendly, in ways you can actually show, as opposed to the traditional Strength of Schedule, which is

hardly better than a coin-flip. Finally, at least a couple of the upstarts I mentioned earlier have a good shot at passing him on the stat sheets, making Frank less of a fantasy value by season’s end.


Roger Federer will defeat Rafael Nadal in a five-set

US Open Final, and continue to ignore my e-mails.

Roger still doesn’t look himself, but I think he’ll get it together just in time. A win at The Open won’t be enough to take back his #1 international seeding from Nadal, and whatever happens, he’ll still lag way behind American tennis star

Andy Roddick in girlfriend hotness, with 2008

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model

Brooklyn Decker (

link here, thank me later).


Unfortunately, Roger still hasn’t gotten back to me on going to the NFL as a DB after tennis. With his vision, anticipation, agility, work ethic and about another 10-25 pounds, he could land in both


and … wherever it is the Tennis Hall of Fame is.

Brady comes down to earth, Lamont Jordan rises again.

Speaking of hot girlfriends, extraordinary achievements require extraordinary circumstances and such circumstances are rare. He can’t count on another supermodel if things don’t last, and records don’t get set every season. Both are for the same reason: the world and the NFL are highly dynamic, and frankly,

Tom Brady just isn’t

that good.


“Regression to the Mean” aside the Patriots have a very run-friendly schedule, which is very clock-friendly, and not conducive to running up gaudy passing numbers. If a team can exploit a rushing advantage, they usually will, so I have my eyes open for a three-headed backfield monster when the Pats have a comfortable lead. I also refuse to believe the Patriots’ ownership will ignore this opportunity, and continue to let Belichick make reckless personnel decisions, like leaving the franchise quarterback and expensive receiver toy on the field in the 4th quarter, up 45-0, for a 4th-and-1 play.


Jon Kitna won’t suck.

For the first time since 2003 in


Jon Kitna has two legitimate starting wideouts, as opposed to a converted defensive back or kick returner like he’s had since then. He’s also expected to run more, which should get him the odd rushing TD, as well as cut down on fumble opportunities by way of sacks. I’m expecting a QB#6-12 fantasy performance, but as the 15th or so QB off the board, platooned with boring and reasonably steady guys like

Jay Cutler, I think he’ll be a great value that may still be on your wire.


1-in-6 fantasy owners will regularly exclaim “Ya-mon!”

Not only is

Ricky Williams making a return, which should bring out the Rastafarian in all of us, but


return man and receiver

Yamon Figurs is the highest guy on the depth chart who is actually healthy. He’s a speedster with an outside shot at significant time, and is definitely a waiver prospect to watch.


I will get about 63% percent of my Pick’Em pool selections correct.

This year I’m in an

unusual NFL Pick’Em pool formed by the members of the Shark Tank at, where you predict every game before the season starts. I first let the system randomly select every game. Then, I picked teams I expected to have solid winning records (NE, NYG, DAL, IND, SD, JAC) and awful losing records (KC, STL, MIA), and picked them to be undefeated or unwinning, respectively. When there was a conflict, I stuck with the random result.


If they collectively have really good and really bad records, I should get about 63% right. Let’s hope this is enough to win! You might take this long view with your weekly office pool — you’re bound to have a couple of good weeks!


I’ll have another article like this next September.

Consider this a 90% possibility, with a 5% chance I’ll forget, 3% chance I’ll be too busy, 2% chance of catastrophe, and a 1% chance I’ll make some stupid mistake that blows all my numerical credibility.


I’m much more about strategies, drafts and other offseason analysis than someone who wants to tell you how to run your team, so the Stat Lab will be sparse during the season. If there are interesting topics you’d like me to cover, let me know in the

Article Discussions Forum at

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