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The General Theory of Entertainment, Interest and Upside

I usually wake up on my own on Sundays. It’s probably the only day I am capable of doing so. My awareness this morning is unmatched to any other. For the most part, before

11:00AM on a typical weekday, I lack any analytical prowess – I generally am only fit for use of my basic motor skills, but it is Sunday. The brain warms up a bit quicker for some of us. You know who you are.

All systems are a go at this point. Unless you happen to live in a city which hosts an NFL franchise, then weather is no factor. Only sustenance and electricity are necessary. The rosters have been updated, and the computer is within reaching distance (or the occasional short sprint) for any possible surprises. The television is turned to an unbearable volume for the early hours.  The rooms are the filled with the fake laughs of former gridiron legends and the catchy melodies of the NFL on network television. Everything is well in the world – our glorious, but occasionally treacherous, fantasy football world. Our only worries are a case of the Mondays the next day, but those are easily remedied with a dose of Monday Night Football. I know this only works for a day or so, but let’s not get into that right now. Take it all in. No need to be some sort of curmudgeon. Let us stick with the happy thoughts …


The television is filled with images and analysis touting the grand leaps of Steve Smith, the brute force in Adrian Peterson’s 65-yard touchdown runs and electrifying special plays from Devin Hester. Drew Brees is hopping around the pocket, just waiting to aim a dart into the hands of Jeremy Shockey. Maybe it’s not for a touchdown, but it’s exciting nonetheless. From the sometimes incoherent ramblings of Shannon Sharpe to the brilliance of your HD display, there is nothing that can disrupt this day. Well, that is until your particular fantasy team starts going in the wrong direction or a spouse/girlfriend meltdown. I am beginning to think for the devotee, like myself, that there aren’t many things better than a Sunday during football season. If you are reading this than you probably agree.


I don’t think Shakespeare would have been able to describe NFL Sundays in words, but for some reason I figured I’d give it a try. Maybe I should just relax. However, I do have something that I think can help you.  


“Help me?” you may be saying to yourself. “It’s Sunday, I am fine.”


Well, it isn’t Sunday yet. It’s close; but hold on, let me make the day of rest a little sweeter …


What if I could tell you that I can make Sunday even better for you? What if I could assist with making your Sundays more satisfying from both a fantasy performance and a personal enjoyment perspective? Let us get down to brass tracks: I am going to propose my theory on a couple of players who are being selected relatively close at the same position in fantasy drafts, and tell you who I think you should pick. I will not only make a case of why one will outperform the other, but also why that same player will provide more entertainment. Catch my drift? No? I will give you a simple example.


Let us take Randy Moss and Andre Johnson. Both are wide receivers in the top tier (for the most part) and both are being drafted relatively close to each other, with Johnson at an average draft position of 12.7 and Moss at 15.4 according to ESPN. However, I would have to defer to the latter: Mr. Moss. Tom Brady’s return and the 23 touchdowns of 2007 cannot be ignored. I see too many analysts not shedding light of the fact that these two may be the most powerful QB/WR tandem in history, and noting that Brady has never accomplished those feats before, they would be almost impossible to duplicate. Duplicate? Probably not, but to suggest that Brady has never done it before the ‘07 season, while ignoring the fact it was his first season with a legitimate receiver, is lunacy. Marvin Harrison was able to score 12 touchdowns the season after Peyton threw for his 49, in which

Harrison had 15. I believe Brady and Moss are a cut above that pair.


Moss has not lost a step and is now completely familiar with the Patriots system, a pretty good one nonetheless, and the chemistry between himself and Brady only has gotten stronger. You would be a fool to think that 15 touchdowns isn’t practically a guarantee, barring injury, for this duo. Of course you may be saying, “but Brady

was injured badly last season” which of course was the case, but the potential is too great to not take a gamble on. The only major road block is the schedule down the line for the Patriots.


Some may argue that from an entertainment perspective that it is difficult to pick either Moss or Johnson. I think they need to check themselves. Moss, in his record-breaking campaign in 2007, did it all; from catching balls in double coverage in his biceps, to playing safety, to the un-defendable fade pass from Brady. To have such an instrumental cog in potentially one of the greatest offenses of all time, is nothing less than a Christmas morning, or even better — a Thanksgiving afternoon. Andre has performed to his full capabilities only once in his career, while Moss, with the proper motivation (as he has found in

New England), has yet to disappoint. Plus, for the legions of fans outside of New England who tend to look down on their “ways”, it gives you a reason to enjoy the scoring machine that resides in



I now want to take some time to emphasize the point of this theory. Advice on fantasy football found on the internet is very generic and raw. It is how you apply this information to your decisions in your particular league, whether on draft day or managing your team, which allows you succeed. Much of what you read is eschewed due to a writer’s particular Web site, and/or how the leagues are set up within said Web site. My particular goal is to enlighten you with not only my opinion, but also facts that will help you make decisions and think in alternative ways. It’s advice that can not only transcend leagues, rules, and settings, but also managers and strategies.


I believe strongly in the concept of smart, and safe

early drafting, followed by all upside, and compiling necessary position depth. If you have to start multiple WRs and RBs, then overload on those positions in the middle and late rounds, after you establish a foundation. Focus on

potential and

opportunity in those particular positions during those particular rounds. Don’t be ignorant. Don’t waste your draft picks on cursed players or cursed teams. Take as many chances as you can afford. These are the players that will hand you the winning lottery ticket. These are your only shots at a title.


I hope that you apply the advice for the players and choices below to other decisions. Sometimes it is difficult to do, but I hope I made my analysis translatable to other scenarios. Also, as you have read above, I believe in enjoying my time on Sunday, so if you are in a bind, have a little fun. Don’t split hairs. Go with the player who you’ll enjoy more.


I guess that was more than an example. I’ll take it down a notch for the next few. Let us begin!


(Note: all of average draft positions are according to ESPN Live Draft Results)


Darren McFadden (OAK) vs. Thomas Jones (NYJ)

ADP:    42.4                              ADP:    36.8


Nothing is more alluring in fantasy football than upside. You’ve read the reports and you’ve watched the video. Some show so much promise that it is very difficult to resist on draft day. The sky is the limit for a potential breakout that you think is very well poised to come out of nowhere and carry you to a title. Case being: McFadden. I understand that for the most part people tend to ask, “what have you done for me lately?” and McFadden hasn’t done much, but do you really think Jones, in 2009, is the type of player that will carry you? At age 31? With a rookie (Shonn Greene) breathing down his neck, and a well-paid game changer (Leon Washington) taking away potential opportunities? With only one, maybe two stellar fantasy years in a career over a player who could just take over and dominate? The offensive line is a strong one, but you should know Jones’ ceiling this year isn’t high. He has eclipsed double-digit touchdowns once. McFadden has enough talent that it makes me forget the fact that Jones has the guaranteed starting job, (although it is now being reported that Raiders coach Tom Cable is saying that McFadden is very close to claiming the starting role). The

Oakland offensive line isn’t terrible either, and 2008 wasn’t all bad news for McFadden. When he was healthy, he showed some brilliance and had flashes down the stretch under Cable, while Jones began to fade when fantasy owners needed him the most.


Now for the fireworks! Comparing the potential of having McFadden for his breakout campaign to watching the old Jones assimilate to an offense moving towards the future is like comparing a filet mignon to a taco. I like tacos but I LOVE filets. Basically (if that wasn’t basic enough for you), the two are on a completely different level. Imagine you sitting there with buffalo chicken in hand, while McFadden is hit for open screens, operating out of the wildcat formation and lining up as a wide receiver? It is an unprecedented ceiling since the likes of Adrian Peterson. I wouldn’t be able to stop giggling. Maybe it wont work, maybe it will, but I can guarantee you that Jones at this slot wont make your fantasy season any better or enjoyable. Take Jones if you please. Watch him in his twilight, bouncing off of offensive lineman for a paltry three yards, or you can roll the dice on over 1,400 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns. Hoping for too much? We’ll see.



Anquan Boldin (ARI) vs. Terrell Owens (BUF)

ADP: 29.1                          ADP: 29.4


I didn’t think this was even a question, but apparently it is. I guess you could argue that Owens is rejuvenated and coming to a new offense, but I will stop you while you’re ahead. The fact that a 35-year-old wide receiver (who turns 36 this year) playing in

Buffalo is being drafted this close to Boldin is an abomination for fantasy football. Boldin, who is 28-years-old, (turning 29 during the season) practically playing for a contract in

Arizona with Kurt Warner should be the clear cut choice. The arguments can be made against Boldin: yes, he is playing with Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston, and yes, you are constantly monitoring a Warner physical meltdown, but are these any worse than the situation in

Buffalo? Lee Evans is a talented receiver who

will take away Owens’ looks, but it’s Trent Edwards in

BUFFALO. An unproven quarterback who may never be good in a defensively sound division! Don’t forget they play a number of home games in the

Arctic Circle! The Cardinals attempted almost 140 more attempts through the air than

Buffalo in 2008. If anything, this is me begging you to not a make a decision like this at any point in the draft. I cannot recommend Boldin over Owens any more. I hope, for your sake, that you wouldn’t even consider Owens over Boldin.


Now it is hard to argue against the showmanship of Owens: his popcorn, the celebrations, the press conferences and all of the nonsense that comes with him (including the reality show which, to my surprise, was actually pretty entertaining). He brings his circus to town and he is a very good fantasy receiver, but he’s no Anquan. Boldin is a man’s man. Like that of Brandon Jacobs, Boldin transforms into some kind of monster when he steps on the gridiron. The man had his face explode and was back weeks later to reclaim his role as an elite NFL receiver. Owens could barely accept the fact that his quarterback liked his tight end. Let Boldin be your boy. He deserves it.


Donovan McNabb (PHI) vs. Matt Schaub (HOU)

ADP:  57.5                             

ADP:   64.7


This may be my most difficult argument.


McNabb has thrown over 25 touchdowns once in his career, has not had his legs under him in five years, never has (and probably won’t) throw 4,000 yards and has played only four full seasons in his 10-year career. I am not a McNabb hater; I think the man gets too much flack for what he has done on the field, but the red flags are there. The talks of his best season ever as a starting quarterback do not have much merit for me. He has finally found his WR with the emergence of DeSean Jackson, but the weapons aren’t coming full circle for me. There are question marks swirling around Brent Celek’s capabilities, Brian Westbrook’s health and LeSean McCoy being there to improve the offense Like I said, this is difficult, and I like McNabb, but I am going to go with Matt Schaub. The weapons are all around him: stellar wide receiver, proven tight end, and a young, healthy running back. Kevin Walter’s coming out party only bolsters Schuab’s budding prospects. Yes, he has the same injury tendencies (10 games in the past two seasons) as McNabb, but Schaub is much younger. Wouldn’t you want to roll the dice with a player with less wear and tear? Especially one, who if you look at his points per game in his second season with Houston Texans last year, was one of fantasy football’s top performing quarterbacks. The offensive line is better and his schedule is much more favorable (especially in the fantasy playoff weeks). They play in a weather-friendly city, and the Texans could emerge as one of the most powerful offense in all of football, which leads me to my next argument …


The Texans are going to be exciting. I know you might think this may contradict my Moss over Johnson argument, but I don’t think they will be as exciting as the Patriots. Nonetheless, they will be very, very exciting. If I could recommend anything, it would be to try to get one of their players so you can enjoy what they could potentially bring to the table in the upcoming season, and it will all be anchored by Mr. Schaub. I know the Eagles will pass, run the wildcat, etc., but they play a lot of difficult defenses and are in a tough division. McNabb is one of the most frustrating fantasy quarterbacks to have, and it could continue this year. The

AFC South has weakened tremendously with the dismantling of

Jacksonville’s defense –

Tennessee losing Albert Haynesworth and the weak run defense of the Indianapolis Colts. The Texans, if they keep Schaub on the field, can emerge as a force.



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