Do you remember when you looked at your teams right before the season started and sized them up against your competition? Do you remember singling out those couple teams per league that had a stacked starting lineup and calling them, “Your only Competition.?” I went through my leagues Sunday night and I was shocked to see that many of those teams are in the middle of the pack at best. Then I looked at the teams I had stamped “Easy Wins” and saw some of them at the top. After carefully inspecting each team I realized that if I had graded teams in the preseason according to their bench rather than their starting lineup I would have had a better indication of where teams would be eight weeks into the season.
This happens each year to a certain degree, but I’d say TEAM DEPTH was crucial this year more than any other I can remember. Between a rash of injuries, high round busts, and spread out bye weeks, if you haven’t had a solid bench for the last five weeks, you are probably looking from the bottom up. With the bye weeks running out, you might not have to turn to your bench as often down the stretch provided that your studs stay healthy. Here is a general guideline that could help you now and in future seasons:
***** Make sure you trade for depth early in the season because your bench will play a huge factor. Deeper into the season, as the bye weeks evaporate and as the opportunities for your starters to get injured shrink, trade out some of your depth for better starters and starters who have good playoff match ups.
I have been told that whether a team is playing home or on the road should be worth around 6 points in terms of handicapping the game. So if Detroit was favored by 3 over Chicago at home, Chicago would have been around a 3 point favorite if the game was played in Chi town. These 6 points are very important to the overall outcome of the game; but in years past it hasn’t made a gigantic difference to the fantasy points scored. Usually if one of your players was against a poor defense, you’d feel confident about starting him whether he was home or on the road. This year the Giants, Minnesota, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Arizona have all cracked this conventional wisdom. I understand playing better at home, but these teams are unrecognizable on the road. Yes Carolina looked great yesterday and yes Tampa Bay lost to the Niners, but next week when Carolina goes to Tampa, both teams will more than likely pull another flip flop of sorts. What do we make of all of this?
***** #1, Play Steve Smith and Tiki Barber no matter where they are.
#2, When deciding who to start each week, make sure to downgrade (but not necessarily bench) all other players on the Giants, Minnesota, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Arizona WHEN THEY ARE ON THE ROAD.
I remember when you wouldn’t dare to sit Peyton Manning, Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Daunte Culpepper, Rich Gannon, Jeff Garcia, Trent Green, or Kurt Warner. They were all considered “Must Starts” and if you didn’t have one of these guys, you had an up hill battle all season. Times have sure changed haven’t they. We still have our fair share of solid Qb’s, but how many “Must Starts” do we have? Maybe Carson Palmer….If McNabb isn’t injured…….and…..uh….didn’t Peyton Manning score 49 td’s last year? Yes, but he’s on pace for 24 this year and that hardly qualifies him as an absolute MUST START. The Qb’s have been up and down all season, so if you have a couple of decent ones and you’ve been riding the best match ups all year, you’re probably ahead of the game. So what should we remember?
***** With very few exceptions, don’t be afraid to bench any QB if you have another one who’s been hot and has a better match up.
If we had to do the draft all over again from the beginning, how would it look? If the draft was today factoring in what we know now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go something like this: Tomlinson and Alexander would still be at the top with Edge and McGahee not too far behind. We’d probably kick Manning down a few rounds, and obviously Jamal Lewis, Culpepper, and Deuce McAllister wouldn’t make the cut. I think Steven Jackson, Lamont Jordan, Thomas Jones, and Steve Smith would be 1st rounders and T.O., Tiki, Priest, Dillon, Davis, Dunn and Portis would go in the late 1st to mid 2nd. We really could see Gates going in the late second to very early third with Chad Johnson, Carson Palmer, McNabb, Ronnie Brown and Santana Moss. Fred Taylor, Rudi and Westbrook wouldn’t be too far behind, and Favre and Manning would probably go somewhere in the 4th. Would Mewelde Moore go in the 4th too? As crazy as it sounds, he’d make sense there as would Willie Parker, Kevin Jones, and Joey Galloway.
Obviously I skipped a few and I don’t even agree with the order 100%, The reason I started separating some of these names into particular rounds was to show you how much trade value some of these guys should have at this point in the season. Peyton Manning for Joey Galloway never looked so fair…And there is your true Halloween Horror!
Next week I’ll break down how to prepare early for the fantasy playoffs for those fortunate teams with a good record. Until then, Enjoy Halloween and the rest of your week.