When in the Course of preparing for the fantasy season, it becomes necessary for an owner to dissolve the restraints of conventional wisdom, and to assume among the powers of one’s league, the separate and distinct station of Champion to which the Laws of Fantasy Football entitle to him, a decent respect to the challenges of building said team requires that one should declare the methods which impel one to building said Champion.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all players are created unequal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unique talents, skills, and situations, that among these are opportunity, strength of schedule, and field of battle — That to secure these players, an owner must institute a strategy, deriving one’s Championship players from the pool of most likely candidates — That whenever any Form of Analysis becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Owner to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new analysis, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its players in such form, as to him should seem most likly to positively effect one’s path to a Championship. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Analysis long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly experience hath shewn, that Championships are more disposed to occur when acquiring the right kind of players, as opposed to depending on the Marty Schottenheimer approach of just make the playoffs and anything can happen. But when a long train of failed championship runs despite great regular seasons, pursued invariably with the same Strategy as everyone else, it is the owner’s right, it is his duty, to throw off such Strategy, and to provide a new Strategy for one’s future Championship success — Such is the purpose of these fantasy tips, beginning with the position of quarterback; and such is now a reliable option which improves the chances to accomplish a Championship. The history of recent fantasy seasons is a history of consistent results, all haviing in common these particular traits which can be used to build one’s own Championship team. To show this, let these tips be submitted to a candid world.
- Divide prospects into four tiers: Studs, Usual Starters, Platton Players (those you play the match-ups with), and Waiver Wire options.
- Resist the temptation to put Tom Brady (or any other QB) in his own Tier.
- Regardless of the outcome of this analysis, do not move a player up or down a tier.
- Focus on three critical statistics: a) the prospect’s Team’s ability to score touchdowns (offensive only, no returns), b) the Team’s opponent’s ability to prevent touchdowns (defensive only, no return scores), and c) the percentage of Team’s touchdown’s the prospect throws.
- Be aware of this: It’s not always the QB with the most points that wins the most championships, it’s the QB’s that have the fewest sub-quality starts during the playoff run who win the most.
- A quality start for a QB is equivalent to the fantasy points awarded for 240 yards passing, 2 TD’s and 0 INT’s.
- Just 1 sub-quality start by one’s QB normally results in a failed championship run, even if the other fantasy playoff games are monster games. See Brady, Tom and Romo, Tony (among others) in Week 15 last season.
- The location of a prospect’s game is amazingly important — the odds are the lowest, during December, for a quality start in open air stadiums in cold or rainy locations, as opposed to moderate climates and especially domes.
- You want a QB that meets the following criteria, or as close as possible, in order of importance.
- Plays all fantasy playoff games in favorable locations (good weather sites or domes).
- Throws at least the league average percentage (65%) of his Team’s touchdowns.
- Plays all fantasy playoff games against opponents who allow at least 2.25 touchdowns a game (slightly higher than league average).
- Plays in an offense that scores at least 2 touchdowns a game (slightly below league average).
When looking at a particular matchup, the first question you must ask yourself is, how likely will this prospect gain a quality start? This is more important than identifying the monster games. Following the above criteria is the best way to determine this during the planning stage of the fantasy season.
The key criticism of this method is that we, not being prophets, don’t really know which offenses and defenses will meet this criteria come December. In a specific sense this is true, but we all have a good idea in a general sense. This is especially true in terms of touchdowns; while yardage can fluctuate greatly not just from season to season but game to game, and often doesn’t match even current production totals, touchdowns fluctuate far less, and typically in generally predictable amounts, when looked at on a seasonal basis. The Detroit Lions’ defense gave up 51 touchdowns a year ago — to get to league average (33-34) would be an almost historic improvement. On the flip side, the Cleveland Browns gave up 37 last year, but with their improvements over the off-season it’s reasonable to expect them to improve at least to league average, if not better, especially since they’ve shown a steady, albeit slow, improvement in that category in recent seasons.
So, which QB’s best fit this criteria?
Tier 1, the Studs — players one expects to carry one’s fantasy team.
- Peyton Manning — The only blemish is a Week 16 match-up at Jacksonville. However, the Jags tend to do better stopping the run against the Colts than the pass, so this isn’t as bad as it first looks.
- Drew Brees — The Week 15 game at Chicago is a serious location issue.
- Tony Romo — At Pittsburgh is a real problem Week 14. Home dates against the Giants and Ravens could be problematic, also, due to their abilities to rush the passer and force turnovers.
- Tom Brady — Home games in December are not positives, even with a favorable opponent (Arizona), and while Seattle (retractable roof) and Oakland are potentially positives in terms of location, there is still risk involved with two quality defensive backfields. Maroney looks real good for the Pats here (topic for the RB edition).
Analysis — Manning is clearly the best option, though all four are likely to do well for you. This is not usually the case, last year being a typical example — and especially with Manning one must be concerned with someone sitting if the division is wrapped up.
Tier 2, the Usual Starters — Good enough to trust leading your team coming out of the draft, but potentially not good enough to overcome shortcomings elsewhere on your roster.
- Matt Hasselbeck — Home games are potentially okay because of the retractable roof, so we give that a pass. Pats pass defense and the Jets aren’t scary either.
- Derek Anderson — Location sucks, but having Cincy as an opponent is nice in Week 16.
- Roetlisberger — Location is a positive, but three tough opponents plus potentially losing alot of TD’s to Mendenhall really hurts.
- Carson Palmer — Rudi Johnson, before last year, was always the Bengal to own this time of year, and that may be the case again with location problems (home vrs Washington, at Cleveland) and opponent problems (at Indy, Washington).
- Donovan McNabb — Typically throws high percentage of team’s TD’s, but location is an issue and opponents are a killer.
Analysis — The opposite of Tier 1, aside from Hasselbeck, who has his own issues, this tier looks like a loser come playoff time. This, too, is opposite of normal. The top playoff QB usually comes from these ranks.
Tier 3 — Platoon Players. You have them for upside, but need a solid team around them just in case.
- Jon Kitna — The overall schedule is daunting, but fantasy playoff time is real nice.
- Arizona QB — If Warner was the man, he’d be up a tier. The two biggest knocks are a Week 16 date in New England and uncertainty on who will be the guy. Warner was the #1 QB for championship teams last year.
- Marc Bulger — He has to stay healthy and not have S-Jax eat too much into his TD opportunities, otherwise the outlook is great.
- David Garrard — Only Warner was on more champ teams last year among QB’s. At Chicago Week 14 appears to be the biggest hurdle, as the Colts matchup usually features plenty of TD’s.
- Jake Delhomme — At Giants in Week 16 is a horrible place to finish the fantasy season. And how many TD’s do Williams/Stewart siphon away? Otherwise this is a great situation.
- Philip Rivers — At underrated (defensively) Kansas City Week 15, and LT is always first option when it comes to scoring.
- Matt Schaub — Location is daunting, and schedule could break either way.
- Jay Cutler — Uncertainty surrounding ground game, Brandon Marshall hurts already poor location factor with two games in Denver.
- Aaron Rodgers — Only decent location is Jacksonville. That sucks.
- Eli Manning — Home games in New York is a negative in December. Road game is in Dallas.
Waiver Wire — Keep your eyes on these guys. Not really worthy to draft but really look good come December for our purposes.
- Tavaris Jackson — No one has an easier schedule — at Detroit, At Arizona, Atlanta. All good places to play also.
- Falcons QB — Chris Redman was pretty decent in December last year, and things look good for him, if he’s the starter, this year also (at New Orleans, Tampa Bay, at Minnesota).
- Jeff Garcia — Aside from ready-to-fall-off-the-radar Joey Galloway, he has nothing in the receiving department to lift up one’s skirt, but the schedule is nice. Last year’s was also, but Earnest Graham was the beneficiary there, and might be again this season.
- 49er QB — Home against the Jets, at Miami, at St Louis. Martz likes that.
Analysis — These guys are all worth picking up off waivers if they show something during the season. If they are not on a roster come December, grab them then and put them on your bench or (gasp) consider starting them over the likes of our Tier 2 guys.
I’ll be back in a few days with RB’s. The criteria is different for them, following this set will get you a quick exit if you apply it to your money-makers.
You still need to make your league’s playoffs, of course, but knowing which players in each tier is the best fit for a championship is invaluable. It would be foolish to draft Tavaris Jackson, for example, and expect him to be good enough to lead you to the playoffs. But don’t be surprised if someone picks him up in November and wins a Championship with him either.