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Thursday 20th Jul 2017

Projections are such dicey things.

On one hand, they carry the weight, or at least the illiusion thereof, of some kind of statistical basis and logic as to a predicted performance by players and teams. For us, that usually means baseball or football.

When I am drafting players to fill out my fantasy team, I try to not really pay any attention to projections on one hand, as I don't want to get too locked into numbers or expectations.

On the other hand, what else is there to rely upon? That is, if Albert Pujols is as steady as they come over ten years, producing .310-35-110 totals, he would seem to be a pretty dependable bet to continue. And, if you drafted Pujols in 2013, well, you have probably come away with cynical thoughts to his future numbers.

Same with football. It was easy at the start of the season to suggest that Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers and Arian Foster would be among the top point producers for the 2013 season.

And, Brees still is, while Rodgers was until he got hurt, while Foster was struggling before his injury.

Of course there are always the surprises, like the Chiefs defense, or Jose Fernandez.

Since football, however, only does battle once a week, we have to look at a running back's skill versus the skill of the defense he is facing.

Well, as I noted a few weeks ago, the older I get, the more pleasure I get in watching defense.

I have indeed always tried to draft my Defense/Special Team around the fifth or sixth round of a football draft, and have even been known to freeze defensive squads in years where there was a mandatory number of freezes, and where my offensive keepers were less than scinitilating.

In the past, the Ravens and Bears defensive squads were both such keepers, and for the most part this season, I have done well. Todd and I drafted the great Seahawks D in the Fantasy Sprorts Trade Association League, and I also own the Seattle D in Trace Woods' Expert Schmexperts League.

I started the season with the Bears in Todd's North American Internet Fantasy Football League, but added the Raiders' promising second unit, and have been rotating the pair, depending upon their weekly foe.

In Michael Duca's Utter Genius League, I actually waited too long to pick a preferred defensive unit, so I grabbed the Ravens in the eighth round, and quickly swapped them out for the Chiefs after Week 1, riding their success to an equally successful season.

And, while I have been looking at those pesky projections for my individual players and matchups this football season, I have tried not to suck in when playing my D's.

A few cases in point.

Three weeks ago, in Utter Genius, I matched up against Mr. Duca himself, who was playing the seemingly strong Raiders defense, at home, against the seemingly inept Eagles offense.

Oakland was projected to bag around ten points on D, but Nick Foles and his mates tore the team apart for -12.5 (in Utter Genius, total yards and points allowed aggregate, meaning a bad performance can create a nasty hole), a horrible result, and enough for me to beat him.

Last week in Utter Genius, the Chiefs had their bye, so I had to grab a second squad out of the free agent pool, so I took the familiar Bears, who matched up against the offensively strong Lions, and projected to lose 6.7 points. Since I saw Chicago was playing at Soldier Field, and against a familiar foe, I gambled that no matter what else, the Monsters of the Midway could hold a little tight and get me through the week, and sure enough they did, losing the game, but bagging me 5.3 points. That was a 13 point swing from projections, and again, it was enough to allow me to squeak past my last opponent with a win.

This week, I did get the Chiefs back, but I got them playing Denver, at Mile High, where it was suggested they would lose 7.5 points of my weekly total.

This was a tough call, as though I knew Manning and Company would be tough, it is very difficult to bench the #1 unit in all of football. And, kind of like the Bears last week, I was not so much expecting a flurry of points, and not so much negative.

Of course, I also suspected that Denver posed a real opponent for the up-and-coming Kansas City team, whom I wanted to do well, but really thought I should go with the Bears, again at home Sunday, against the Ravens.

However, instead of trusting those instincts, I went with the standard, "put your best player" principle, and as a result took it on the chin in Week 11.

Had I played the Bears, they would have been good for 14 points, although that still would not have given me enough boost to push past Dean Peterson's team, which had big days from Carson Palmer, Josh Gordon, Philip Rivers and the Bills defense.

The truth is, I knew the Chiefs were playing well, but I also knew the probability that they would fall flat eventually, or at least not be able to maintain their dominance for the entirety of the season. Although, I was hoping their furious pass rush would bag a couple of sacks and more than just one fumble recovery.

Irrespective, they have made it fun--as have the Raiders--this year, giving me a choice and some big hits and scores.

More important, their performance, along with what I have watched, and judged by my other defensive squads this year, suggests that we should not pay nearly so much attention to what the projections say.

In baseball, a good pitcher can pitch anywhere, and a good hitter can hit anywhere.

In football, a good defense can hold a good offense anywhere.

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