If this is the first time you are reading me you need to understand
something before going any further. I have no tact whatsoever. I say
what I think when I think it. I like to think I have a good handle on
the topic before speaking, but what I say, I believe.
So when it comes to ranking players when I say rankings are crap, I
mean it. Does that mean they are worthless? Absolutely not. Even crap
can be used as fertilizer and we all know that fertilized crops grow
better than those without it.
So how can you use crappy rankings to help you in fantasy football?
Well there’s good crap and there’s bad crap. First you need to find the
Athlon Sports has been around the fantasy world for a long time. He has made a living from it for a long time so his crap is golden.
next week’s Podcast to talk about his rankings. We will also have
This Just In.
Okay, enough of the promotional crap – it’s time to get to the Common
Fallacies the title suggests I talk about. Well the first part is part
of some of the common fallacies found in fantasy football. And that is
fallacy, not phallus-y. though there are some similarities if you look
Most people who rank players do so from projections – how else could
you create a fantasy ranking. The problem lies in the projections. How
do you accurately predict what a player will do in the coming year?
How many of you thought
Randy Moss was done when he was in Oakland? Did you see 50 TDs for
Tom Brady before the season? Really? C’mon, it’s just the two of us – you can be honest.
If you see someone projecting more than five quarterbacks to throw for 30+ TDs – run away.
From 1989 through 1993 the league began transitioning to a
pass-first philosophy. From 1993 through last year the NFL average of
runs to pass had a high of 46.87% in 2004 and a low of low of 44.15% in
1995. While some might think there is not too much of a difference
between running the ball 46.87% over 44.15% the difference is huge.
There has been one time the passing TD leader topped 50 passes. Last
year. Only twice has a quarterbacked thrown between 45 and 49 TD passes
Dan Marino and
Peyton Manning). Marino threw for 44 TDs in 1986 and
Kurt Warner threw for 41 in 1999. But after that the drop-off is dramatic.
This means that there have only been five seasons in the history of
the league where someone has topped 40 TD passes in a year. This is not
an easy thing to do. Those of you thinking Brady is throwing for 40+
TDs should take notice.
After pro-rating the strike-shortened 1982 season, I found 13 years
where the top TD passer finished with between 30 and 34 TD passes.
There were also six more where they finished between 35 and 39. That
means that in my 30-year study, which includes 14 years of the
pass-first era, 19 seasons the top passing TD producer finished between
30 and 39 TDs passing.
The season with the highest percentage of pass to run was 1995. In
that year five quarterbacks had a combined TD total of over 30. Two of
them had to use rushing TDs to push them over the top. The NFC North
had three of them –
Brett Favre led the league with 38 passing TDs. He was joined in the NFC Central by
Scott Mitchell with 32 TDs and
Erik Kramer with 29 (plus one rushing).
The same fallacy holds true for the running game. Too many people
predict too many backs to have completely healthy seasons. This just
doesn’t happen. If someone is predicting 10 backs will gain 1500 yards
– not gonna happen.
Since 2003 the league has averaged 18.4 running backs that top 1000
rushing yards per season. Typically you will see 17-18 in a year. But
with 16 games, 1000 yards is only 62.5 yards per game. Do you really
want a back that averages 62.5 ypg as your featured player?
There have been a lot fewer 1500 yard backs in the same time span.
Last year was an aberration with no back topping 1500 rushing yards.
However, the previous four years had 5, 5, 5 and 6 backs at that range.
That is a more realistic prediction. Five backs will produce 1500
rushing yards this year. And 1500 yards is a healthy 94 ypg average.
Think your top guy is going to get 10 rushing TDs? It only happened
six times last year but again, last year was a down year for running
backs. The four years prior saw 9, 9, 10 and 10 respectively so you
should expect nine backs to score 10 rushing TDs this year. But what
about those big 15+ TD years. Those have occurred just 10 times in the
last five years with 2005 having the most – three. In other words,
don’t hold your breath unless you have a back named
Ladainian Tomlinson (there’s a reason he is the first player picked in most drafts).
But how about predictions for 1000+ yards and eight or more TDs?
You’d think anyone who scored 10 TDs would have to go over 1000 yards.
You’d be wrong. Further those backs that top 1000 yards aren’t always
pushing it in the last yard or two.
In 2003, there were six backs that topped 1000 yards and failed to
score at least eight TDs. There were seven such backs in 2004; five in
2005 and then in 2006 the number of backs topping 1000 yards but
topping eight touchdowns ballooned to 15. There were 10 of these guys
That means that over the past five years, 47% of the backs that
topped 1000 yards failed to score eight TDs. Ask Willie Parker owners
if they were pleased with his 2007 season.
He Did it Last Year
So he can do it again? Check the popular rankings that have Brady at
the top of their lists. Then ask them what they expect him to do this
year. Invariably they will project 4500 yards and 40+ TDs. Some will
say he will break last year’s record.
Not gonna happen.
Remember only five times has a quarterback thrown for 40 or more TDs
in a single season. In the history of the game. And Marino did it
twice. According to many pundits, Favre was finished entering last
year. He had thrown for 20 and 18 TD passes in his previous two years.
Last year he threw for 28 and finished second in the MVP voting.
John Elway is a first ballot Hall of Famer. He is
fifth on the all-time passing TD list. He never topped 30 TD passes.
That’s right – never.
Brady’s best season prior to last year was 28 TD passes. Other than
last year he has averaged 24.5 in his starting seasons that don’t
include last year. I think I am being generous in predicting 4300 yards
and 35 TDs for him this year. And I am considered crazy for suggesting
such a drop-off.
Devin Hester followed up a season with
five return TDs with one that had six. I am still shaking my head at
that but that just shows that exceptions do happen, which is why I am
predicting no more than three return scores for Hester this year.
Fantasy Football is all Luck
Not true. There is a certain element of luck involved. But many times
it can be mitigated by careful planning in your rules and your roster
building. If you have an injury-prone player (
Fred Taylor) draft his backup (
Maurice Jones-Drew) even if you have to take the backup first.
Set up your scoring rules to include individual defensive players
or, for team defenses, scoring categories for first downs allowed,
points allowed and yards allowed. Perhaps even time of possession.
These are all standards of a good defense and help remove the luck
created by basing your scoring on turnovers and defensive scores. Add
return yardage to give another category that is somewhat predictable
(over the course of a year).
To Get the Best Advice You Have to Spend Big Dollars
Our Podcast is highly thought of and brings in some of the top minds from around the net as guests.
But we aren’t alone. Many see the pay for info model of business as
quickly disappearing. Sure there are still a lot of pay services. And
many of them are very good. I can recommend some to you if you like.
But so much information is easily accessible now that when you enter
into an agreement with a pay service you should do so with the
understanding that you are not paying for information. You are paying
for analysis – the opinion of one or more persons that you respect.
The information is free. It is their take that you are paying for.
And even the best of us is going to be wrong an awful lot of the time.
You will see testimonials on the web sites and they are true. Each
service does help many, if not most, of their subscribers. But if you
are in a league with eleven other owners and you all subscribe to the
same service – and you all do exactly what they tell you to do – guess
what … eleven of you are still going to lose. And a couple are going to
have really bad seasons despite getting the same advice from the same
Because only one of you can have Tomlinson. And that is the big
unspoken secret to the pay services. They do a lot of homework and have
some great advice – but they are not infallible. To suggest so is the
biggest fallacy of all.