Fantasy vs. Reality
I started thinking about the different aspects of managing a fantasy football team, and how individuals use information to make decisions. To me, it is divided into two major categories, and every aspect of fantasy football falls into one or the other.
Fantasy – Anything you can learn about football by not actually watching the games. Fantasy is doing research on numbers. There are a huge percentage of fantasy managers that make a majority of decisions based on ‘fantasy.’ This includes all stats, including carries, targets, receptions and yards per carry/catch/attempt. Knowing how much each team runs and passes, learning how coaches have treated past situations in dealing with players compared to similar situations today. Knowing red zone success and opportunities, reading accounts of games, reading these types of articles, etc. Knowing the value of players, and knowing the value in relation to position is a great example of something reality can’t teach you … only fantasy.
Reality – You can only learn reality by playing football, coaching football or watching football. Scouting is the biggest concept of reality. Watching things other than just where the football goes. Watching how a running back cuts, explodes and accelerates. Knowing how certain injuries might affect player performance. Learning the types of routes receivers run. Learning about gameplans, schemes, and X’s and O’s is very critical. Watching players’ attitude on the field, how they react to adversity, and if they are improving are all things to take notice of. There are numerous aspects of ‘reality,’ and even knowing them all is an aspect of reality in itself.
I truly believe it takes the perfect mix of both to be successful at fantasy football long-term. Not just knowing this information, but using it well is something that will determine how well you do. What facet weighs the most heavily in your decision making? Maybe you should consider spending more time focusing on one or the other, whichever you are lacking. Each fantasy manager in every league is made of up a percentage of both approaches. I consider myself 50/50.
With all of that said, I will try my best to bring you information on both sides of the spectrum and continue to present information you might not realize or discover otherwise.
Trends and Quick Hits:
The Philadelphia Eagles offensive line is in shambles. I am skeptical of LeSean McCoy’s early success, and it will not continue if Kevin Kolb returns as starting quarterback. Kolb has a tendency to bail out of the backup and forget his throwing techniques when he is outside of the pocket. Defensive coordinators know this and all types of blitzes – including run blitzes – will be thrown at Philadelphia when Kolb is in. Teams don’t blitz Michael Vick nearly as much and basically spread themselves out because they are so concerned with Vick getting outside the pocket. Vick also extends plays and allows DeSean Jackson to improvise his routes. Cornerbacks simply cannot stick with him that long. Jackson and McCoy are both more valuable fantasy players with Vick under center.
Both Jacksonville and Houston boast two of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Target these teams when looking for bye week fill-in quarterbacks. If making a tough decision between two quarterbacks, if one of them is playing one of these weak squads, take advantage.
The offseason claims that the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is slipping has turned out to be incredibly inaccurate. This is the best run defense in football, period. Do not start a running back versus them unless you are extremely desperate.
As much as I love Brett Favre, he should not be starting in any 12-team fantasy leagues for anybody until further notice. Kyle Orton, David Garrard, Matt Ryan, Carson Palmer and even Josh Freeman are better options at this point. It really is not his fault though as he has no established deep threat. If you thought Bernard Berrian would fill that role, forget about it. When Vincent Jackson or Sidney Rice finally do line up on the outside for them, it will make a tremendous difference. Stash the gunslinger on your bench and wait it out as he could easily return to form later this season. By the way, Orton leads the NFL in yards per attempt.
Best LaDainian Tomlinson has looked since 2007. I was watching the New York Jets’ game with some other football experts, and when he made that run down the sideline to inside the 5-yard-line, we simply looked at each other like we had seen a ghost. I have seen hundreds of unimpressive carries from Tomlinson over the last couple seasons, but he is the Jets’ running back to own and start. Mark Sanchez isn’t going to throw three touchdowns every Sunday – don’t forget the Jets rushed for 16 touchdowns in 2009 and 19 in 2008.
Terrell Owens has been targeted 24 times in two games, making him a pretty solid buy-low candidate. Louis Murphy is also a player with a low value right now, as everyone will think his performance was a fluke, but he has 17 targets in two games and should lead the team in all receiving categories. If Bruce Gradkowski takes over, watch out – he seemed to really tunnel vision Murphy in the second half, as he had three first downs and a touchdown with Gradkowski under center.
Other buy low candidates include:
Joe Flacco: Played the Jets and Bengals thus far.
DeAngelo Williams: Getting the touches, could easily have two touchdowns at this point. Jimmy Clausen will increase the completion percentage on offense.
Dustin Keller: Although he has looked good, people still think he is a borderline top 12 tight end, when in actuality he is locked in the top 8.
Joseph Addai: Eyeball test tells me he is in his prime. No touchdowns yet though.
Tony Romo: Cowboys will hit their stride eventually; hopefully the Romo owner in your league doesn’t think they will.