Well, so much for my grand plan of uncracking the key to choosing defenses. Here is what I determined, none of which is particularly cutting edge analysis. As suggested last week, one or two D/ST units are going to pace the field, but determining which ones is at present a crapshoot, though I am convinced there are means to improve your chances. I just need more time to narrow in on the answer. As might be intuitively obvious, what separates the outlying defenses each week are defensive or special teams scores, which are fairly unpredictable. I suspect it may be just as important if not more so to focus on the opponent as opposed to looking for a defense good at scoring touchdowns. That is, the better call could be to find teams more likely to give up defensive scores and play that D/ST. Teams that turn the ball over are prime candidates.
But here’s the problem, at least for this week. We have juggled the publishing day and Fourth and Goal will now be a Thursday feature and I have not been able to put all the data together to really look at this. It doesn’t help that football data is not quite as accessible as comparable baseball data, so there is more grunt work and picking apart of box scores necessary.
That said, the real problem is this leaves me without a topic for today. But, my buddy Lawr says he and I have been doing this so long, we can write 1000 words on anything, so I guess this is my chance to prove him right – and I’m already up to 275 words!
So here are some random thoughts:
The knee-jerk reaction is to spend big FAAB bucks on the guys that produce during the first couple weeks of the season, but as my fellow writers Ryan Carey and Perry Van Hook have warned, this is dangerous. If you look, every week there are out of nowhere performances that will end up being the player’s best week. It’s just that they stick out so much during the first week or so. That said, we are beginning the time of the season where the players emerge that will in fact take hold of the job and run with it the rest of the season. Coaching staffs have a better feel for their team’s talent and identity and play to that.
An example of this could be Alfred Morris. One of my favorite terms is Shanahanigans – referring to Washington Redskins’ Coach Shanahan’s proclivity for messing with the heads of fantasy enthusiasts by being so unpredictable with whom he starts at running back. This sort of reminds me of Bill Parcells when he first came to New England. Tuna had the reputation of being a defensive minded guy, very much reliant on ball control and the running game. Enter first overall pick Drew Bledsoe and suddenly Parcells skippered a squad featuring a staunch aerial attack. The best coaches adapt to the situation as opposed to forcing their team to adapt to their style. Perhaps Shanahanigans is more a result of Shanahan not having a talented enough back to be the bell-cow and now he feels Morris can handle the job.
I admit to being old-school but put me in the minority of fantasy players that does not think PPR makes the game better. To me, it is a little like fantasy baseball adapting to the 5x5 format from 4x4, adding runs for hitter and strikeouts for pitchers. The result in both is to add a safety net to decisions, taking out some of the strategy of risk mitigation. I know both are supposed to add additional players to the available pool, and both of course do, but by doing so, your decision is made a little easier. Lesser pitchers are more valuable so long as they get innings and strike some guys out. Same for receptions, as running backs whose job it is to be a last resort when the offensive line breaks down and the primary receivers are covered downfield get rewarded. I know there are some receivers integral to the passing game, but they amass yardage so they get credit. I don’t know, it just bothers me that a 10 yard TD run is generally worth 7 points (including standard bonus) while a 10 yard TD catch is worth 8 in a PPR league.
We were very high on Matt Ryan coming into the season but I have to admit, he has passed my expectations. In the name of full disclosure, I am a Boston College season ticket holder and watched Matty Ice in person for his tenure at The Heights. It’s just weird to me that he is now being mentioned in the same breath as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. I’ve been following football for almost the entirety of the near 50 years I have spent on the planet, and as long as I can remember, quarterbacks have always had a different aura about them – an ethereal presence if you will. I’m just having a tough time wrapping my head around the fact that Ryan could be approaching that level. It’s a little weird to realize that’s the same guy you saw play on Saturday afternoons.
I’ll end this rambling with a little pep talk. Unless you play in a high stakes league which may give the front of being head-to-head but is really a points contest, all you need to do is get into the playoffs. The season starts now. Hopefully you are at worst 2-3, but even if you are 1-4 or heaven forbid, 0-5, it is not too late to make a run and get in playoff contention. In 12-team leagues that have 6 playoff spots, inevitably there are 6 and 7 win teams that make the playoffs. If only 4 make it, usually closer to 8 or 9 wins is necessary, but there is always that division where the teams are really close, so a squad at or about .500 takes the division. With byes in full force, maybe you pick up some momentum due to superior depth. I’ve gone from 0-5 to 8-5 and a playoff run leading to a league championship birth. I lost in the finals, but the point is I made it. If I can do it, so can you. Expect you can win it all.