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Saturday 24th Feb 2018

Always remember, never forget. Never say always or never.

That’s one of my forum signatures. It’s also a general philosophy of mine that I’d like to think applies to more than just fantasy sports. I’m not a fan of absolutes without proof. Paying heed to anecdotal or intuitive absolutes may mean you miss out on an improbability. I’ll accept scientifically proven impossibilities. I won’t accept intuition. I’ve seen intuition come out on the short end too many times.

Always start your studs. There’s that word – ALWAYS.

In case you haven’t figured it out, this is a follow-up to Lawr’s missive from yesterday. Ultimately, we’re on the same page, so I wouldn’t call this a rebuttal, or even a counter-point. It’s more a left-brain approach that meshes with Lawr’s right-brain tendencies and the main reason we make a pretty mean team as evidenced by winning the 2013 Fantasy Trade Association Experts Baseball League and making it to the finals of the football counterpart, albeit the secondary league.

Always start your studs. Sorry, I just don’t buy it. Always start the players you feel will score the most points. That I can buy. And I’ll pay full price plus any applicable taxes.

Granted, more often than not, your studs will be the options that should score more - but not always.

Usually is not always and sometimes is not never. Part of what makes this fantasy stuff fun for me is living in the gray area. I like to take gray and make it black or white.

I expected Ryan Fitzpatrick to outscore Matt Ryan last weekend. We drafted Ryan in the fifth or sixth round, while we picked up Fitzpatrick on waivers to cover for Matty Ice’s bye week. When I went to set our lineup for the championship game, none of that mattered. All that mattered was my sense of their respective production last weekend.

Since Week 9, Fitzpatrick has averaged 20 points, while Matty Ice hadn’t even scored 20 since Week 7, averaging just 13 since Week 9. Fitzpatrick outpointed Ryan in four of the previous six weeks.

Fitzpatrick was playing the Jacksonville Jaguars, who at the time were allowing the third most points to opposing signal callers. The game was in Florida, so weather would not be an issue. The Jags have been playing better so I felt there could be some points scored by both teams.

Ryan had a Monday Night date with the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners were still in play-hard-to-win mode as seeding and bye weeks were unsettled. Going into the game, San Franciso’s defense was the third stingiest with respect to yielding quarterback points. Colin Kaepernick has been playing better but I didn’t envision a high-scoring affair.

I was wrong. Ryan had a better weekend than Fitzpatrick.

The Steven Jackson versus Ray Rice conundrum wasn’t as cut and dried but ultimately I agreed with Lawr and felt Rice was the call. For the record, we picked up S-Jax on waivers that week. One running back was going to be Rashad Jennings, the other either Rice or Jackson with Stevan Ridley and MJD as our other options. We could have played both RB and instead sat Emmanuel Sanders, Cordarrelle Patterson, Torrey Smith or Jordy Nelson, but I liked each of their match-ups and in a PPR league, preferred one as the flex.

Since Week 10, Jackson was averaging a little less than one point a game more than Rice. Both have been playing better lately though to his credit, Jackson had scored 16 or more for three of the previous four weeks. Talent-wise, it was a wash in my eyes.

Here’s the part that was difficult. Rice was facing the New England Patriots with Jackson squaring off against the Niners. Seems like a no-brainer, right? The San Fran D versus the Pats D – San Fran wins. The thing is, against the run, they were almost identical. What swung it for me was Rice is usually more involved in the passing game and New England has trouble checking opposing running backs.

I was wrong.


It wasn’t by much, but Jackson scored a TD which was the difference.

Of course, there was nothing Lawr nor I could do about the doughnut turned in by Vernon Davis or the single-digit games put up by our previously reliable wideouts. Stuff happens.

But I was perfectly good with the Fitz and Rice decisions, not losing a wink of shut-eye.

While on this topic, I may as well vent a little as some of the advice I have heard pertaining to fantasy football start ‘em/sit ‘em is driving me goofy.

This folds back into the notion of starting the player you feel will do the best, but on numerous occasions, I heard my advice-disseminating brethren suggest the decision should be based on “How would you feel all off-season if you benched so-and-so for a lesser player and he went off? You boogie who got you to the dance.” As Vin Scully would say – equine fertilizer.

You dance with the better dancer on that day. Who cares how you’d feel? The specific example that really got my craw was Drew Brees versus Andy Dalton. A caller to a radio show asked if playing Dalton over Brees last week was a good idea. The idea was unanimously shot down. Who cares that Brees was on the road against the tough Panther D. He’s Drew Brees! There’s no way you play him over the inconsistent Dalton even though Dalton had the hapless Minnesota Vikings trying to stop him and the elite A.J. Green. But the hosts pulled the “how much would it suck to have Brees throw 5 TD on your bench while Dalton struggled?” Well, how much DOES IT SUCK that Brees threw for a mediocre 281 yards with a touchdown while Dalton chucked for 366 with four touchdowns!

You play the guys you believe will score the most regardless of draft spot or how you’d feel if you lost with them on your bench.

Then you sleep like a baby.

The other advice that has me going bonkers is using numbers for the sake of using numbers – without any basis. It’s no secret that I’m a numbers guy. The NFBC has branded the language I speak as "numerish." But, some falsely believe that numerish is using numbers to make a decision. That’s almost correct but it neglects one incredibly important caveat. Numerish is the PROPER use of numbers to aid in a decision.

Because a wideout scored 2 touchdowns the last time he faced a team is not a reason to play him in the rematch. Because a team has allowed a touchdown to a tight end two of the past three weeks is not a reason to play a tight end against that team the following week.

Everything is contextual. What were the circumstances that led to the 2-TD explosion or tight ends succeeding as of late? Were they unique to that time or more a reflection of an exploitable weakness? Maybe the advice is right. My beef is the hand-waving supposition that because it happened once it will assuredly happen again without undertaking any due diligence to support the claim.

OK, someone get this soapbox out of here.

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