Are you ready for some (fantasy) football? Welcome to the return of Fourth and Goal, kicking off our football coverage for the 2012 National Football League campaign. Today we are going to have a little fun and compare the two games. However, before doing so, I would be remiss if I failed to mention where you can find our FREE fantasy football coverage. Click HERE to access the free content, including projections, positional reviews, strategy and a list links to our weekly football columns.
You know the George Carlin baseball versus football routine, the one beginning:
"Baseball is different from any other sport, very different. For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs. In most sports the ball, or object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he's out; sometimes unintentionally, he's out.
Also: in football,basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.
In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager. And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you'd ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform,you'd know the reason for this custom."
In fantasy baseball, one of the more popular philosophies is that of positional scarcity, where you draft or invest a lot of auction dollars in the middle infield, since the talent at the position is top-heavy and there is a drop-off into an area you’d just assume not have to deal with. In fantasy football, the equivalent is the running back position where there are precious few that are the reliable bell cow for their team, staying on the field all three downs, carrying the rock and catching passes. One may call Ray Rice the Robinson Cano of fantasy football, perhaps not the top overall player, but one who earns extra credit for consistent, elite level production. Darren McFadden is like baseball’s Troy Tulowitzki – incredible production when healthy, but both have trouble staying on the field.
"Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.
Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.
Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!
Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.
Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying."
In fantasy baseball, first base and the outfield are very deep positions. In fantasy football, the same can be said for wide receivers. Many baseball gamers opt to bypass a higher ranked first baseman or outfielder in lieu of a weaker position, just like football gamers do with wide receivers. But just as some outfielders and first baseman sport numbers too impressive to ignore, the same can be said for wide receivers. Calvin Johnson could be the football version of Matt Kemp, a physical specimen that can do it all. Larry Fitzgerald gets the job done, regardless of his supporting case, not unlike Ryan Braun. While players can obviously emerge from any position, more seem to emanate from these spots. Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen are impressing baseball brethren in the same manner A.J. Green and Julio Jones wowed football fans last winter. Presently, football drafters are faced with the dilemma of how high to rank the likes of Green and Jones, just as baseball drafters will have to consider when to jump on Trout and McCutchen next season. And while the dynamics of football and baseball are a bit different, repeating exceptional performance at such a young age is difficult irrespective of sport, just ask Eric Hosmer, Desmond Jennings and Brett Lawrie. I’m just sayin’.
"In football you wear a helmet.
In baseball you wear a cap.
Football is concerned with downs - what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?
In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error."
Every year, there is a faction that preaches to wait on pitching, even if you can get one of the elite performers. But there is always a small group that is more comfortable with an ace. However, due to some changing landscape with MLB being more of a “pitcher’s” league, the notion of jumping on an arm early is becoming more viable, if not accepted among those disseminating information. In football, the exact same thing can be said for drafting a quarterback. For years it was taboo to take one early, now it is being recommended. Aaron Rodgers is the football facsimile of Justin Verlander – a rock. If you can get Verlander, Felix Hernandez or Clayton Kershaw early, it is worth it just as it is drafting Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees to anchor your football squad. On the other hand, if you wait, you can always pick up a solid talent late.
More from Carlin:
"In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.
Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog...
In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play."
In fantasy baseball, there is a small segment of drafters that like to gain an edge anywhere they can and often do so by drafting a catcher early, especially if there are options that are heads and tails above the rest like Joe Mauer and Buster Posey. In football the analogous position is that of the tight end. Most football drafters prefer to wait, but if they have the opportunity to jump on a Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, they will not hesitate to do so.
"Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football has the two minute warning.
Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.
In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not too much unpleasantness.
In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're capable of taking the life of a fellow human being."
Perhaps the most universal advice in fantasy baseball is to wait on closers. Akin in fantasy football is waiting on a kicker and defense. Sure, there will be someone that feels the advantage of taking Craig Kimbrel or Jonathan Papelbon early is worth it, just as there will be someone that always takes the Steelers or Sebastian Janikowski. And to be fair, sometime they are right. But on the other hand, there will always be a Fernando Rodney or Jim Johnson that surprise, just as the San Francisco defense and special teams unit along with David Akers did last season.
I would like to thank the late George Carlin for providing some entertainment as he concludes:
"And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:
In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.
In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I'll be safe at home!"
Okay, here’s the deal. I know we like to say NOCAYTBY (no one cares about your team but you) but I am in the championship game of a league that runs through Week 17 and I could use some help. This is a rather unique league in that it is old school, scoring primarily touchdowns. There is a nominal two point bonus for 300-yards passing and 100-yards rushing or receiving, but touchdowns are where it as at. Even the defense scoring is limited, accruing only one point per sack or turnover. The lineup is 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB/WR/TE), 1 K and 1 D. It is irrelevant to the point at hand, but for what it is worth, this is a 16-team league, which does help explain why the team may look weaker than one would expect for a championship finalist.
QB: Carson Palmer or Tim Tebow: In a TD league, Tebow has been very consistent, garnering one or two every week. To me, he is a sure bet to score that again, but is not a candidate to have a 4-TD game. Palmer is higher risk but higher reward. Ultimately, my suspicion is the final decision will revolve around the health of a couple of my key players soon to be discussed. What do you think?
RB: Kahlil Bell, Chris Johnson, Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Saine: The big question here is Chris Johnson, but let’s save that for the flex, as Ahmad Bradshaw and Kahlil Bell seem like decent plays. Bell had a strong game last week, save for a couple of fumbles, one of which was recovered for a TD. He should get the rock again and is a good bet to score. The Giants-Cowboys game is likely to be a shootout so Bradshaw should at least have multiple shots at pay dirt. I don’t have the guts to do this, but if I was injured at RB and was forced to play Saine, I would be talking about how he would be a sneaky play, since the Packers are likely to protect Ryan Grant and James Starks. Right now, my lean is Bell and Bradshaw, anyone disagree?
WR: Calvin Johnson, Miles Austin, Greg Little and Laurent Robinson: Megatron joins CJ2K as my stud injury risks. Unless word comes out that Johnson is not playing, I think I have to start him. Of the two Cowboy wideouts, I am tending towards Austin over Robinson, but can be convinced otherwise. Little is out of the picture (which means he will have three end zone visits). Would you go with Robinson over Austin?
TE: Jared Cook or Kellen Winslow: Houston is locked into the third seed, which only solidifies going with Cook, who has been fantastic the last two weeks. But, feel free to convince me otherwise.
FLEX: Chris Johnson or Laurent Robinson: Unless you think I should go with Saine. I suppose it is going to come down to the injury situation, but maybe not. After all, it is a TD league and Johnson is not exactly a touchdown machine. Here is where I need the most help, as part of me is considering doing the insane with Saine.
As alluded to above, my QB choice may depend upon who I choose at flex, deciding if the one or two scores I get from Tebow is the safe play, or if I need the upside of Palmer throwing to those speedy receivers.
D: Jacksonville or Tennessee: The Jags face the Colts while the Titans have the Texans. The Jax matchup looks juicy, but they have had some sweet matchups and have done squat lately. If the Texans sit their studs, Tennessee could be a good play, but early word is Arian Foster is going to play.
K: Shaun Suisham: Our rosters requirements only allow for three combined K and D so unless I dip into the waivers, Suisham is all I have. I am actually okay with this, he should get ample chances to boot the pigskin versus the Browns and the early forecast is for rain, which could curtail the offense a bit.
Here is what my opponent has submitted for his early lineup. Obviously, it is subject to change.
QB: Drew Brees
RB: Michael Turner, Mike Tolbert
WR: Marques Colston, Jeremy Maclin, Steve Smith (CAR)
TE: Rob Gronkowski
K: Nick Folk
D: Buffalo Bills
Not bad, eh? I am obviously hoping Sean Payton has a change in heart and chains Brees to the bench, but even then, I am facing some decent firepower at the skill positions.
I have scratched and clawed my way this far, please help me finish the job.
Sometimes you have to come to the humble realization that others are better than you at some things. There is nothing wrong with that. What matters is what you do next. Do you give up or do you take it as a personal challenge and strive to improve?
If you are reading this, you are likely aware I have been entering a team weekly into the SiriusXM Fantasy Football Salary Cap Challenge. It has been fun, giving me a chance to root for some players not on my regular fantasy teams. But from the standpoint of a highly competitive fantasy gamer that thinks he knows a little something about this sort of stuff, it has been frustrating. My HIGH score is lower than the AVERAGE score of those at the top of the contest. I know, it is only fantasy football, but my competitive nature is admittedly bummed out by this. And there is precedent, as I have been through this before. I had no success early on in the NFBC – none. While I am nowhere near as accomplished as upper echelon players in the contest, I have won multiple leagues and have cashed in a few more, primarily because I learned from my mistakes along with the success of others.
While I am not in the business of preaching life lessons, I am in the business of doling out fantasy sports advice. Heck, now that I think about it, to some, fantasy sports is life. So here I am, a glutton for punishment, with my week 15 entry.
QB: Matthew Stafford ($6300) – I had a hard time debating between Stafford and Eli Manning, who I also think is in line for a huge week. I am going real heavy on RB this week so I needed to cut back somewhere and Stafford is a couple thousand cheaper than the top guys. I have a sneaky suspicion Stafford’s buddy Megatron had a little talk with him this week and we will see Stafford and Calvin Johnson hooking up on some big plays.
RB: Arian Foster ($9800) – Andre Johnson is out, it is time Houston stopped waiting for their stud wide-out to return and just completely hand the keys to Foster. They have pretty much done this already, but it just seems to me there has been a lingering feel of “imagine how good we will be when Johnson is back.” The only problem with picking Foster in this spot is the threat he is pulled in favor of the very talented Ben Tate, who makes an excellent sleeper play as your flex in leagues where you are beset with injuries. But I am sticking with the upside of Foster in the hopes Cam Newtom manages to keep the game close.
RB: Ray Rice ($9300) – In the private league most near and dear to me, I had the third overall pick and went with the aforementioned Megatron. For the first several weeks, I looked like a genius and my buddies were lauding me for my foresight and fortitude to take Johnson so early. While I thanked them for their kind words, I also told them I feared that by season’s end, I was going to seriously regret not taking Ray Rice instead. To all my Little East buddies, I told you so. Good luck in the playoffs guys, maybe I will join you next year. At least I get to root for Rice here.
WR: Hakeem Nicks ($7900) – At least I will get a large piece of the Giants passing attack with Hicks. Hicks seems to be Eli’s primary target, with Victor Cruz getting more of the big play, almost fluky production.
WR: Santana Moss ($4000) – The Giants are going to lay the lumber on the Skins so Sexy Rexy is going to have to throw to keep up, and Moss should be on the receiving end of a bunch of those tosses.
WR: Demaryius Thomas ($4000) – It is not a secret I am a New England Patriots fan and we here like to think that when Tim Tebow thanks the lord, Bill Belichick says “you’re welcome”, after all, “In Bill we Trust” could be the Massachusetts state motto. Part of me thinks Belichick will find a way to stifle the QB phenom, but a bigger part of me thinks the other part of me is wrong and Thomas is the likely beneficiary. That said, I am playing Tebow in two private leagues.
TE: Kellen Winslow ($4000) – For weeks I have been saying that my sense is going bottom of the barrel with tight end is the smart play, but for weeks I have been using Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. The problem is, I have consistently chosen the one with the poorer week between the two, which feeds into my premise being week to week tight end production is a bit unpredictable. So I am finally practicing what I have been preaching and chose who I feel is the best option for the minimum salary in Winslow.
FLEX: Chris Johnson ($5800) – Sorry, I am going to continue to ride out this storm for the huge upside potential. Johnson’s should be able to run on the Colt’s defense.
K: Matt Prater ($4000) – Prater almost propelled me into the playoffs in the league where I opted for Megatron over Rice, so this pick is in deference to that. It is also in hopes that Demaryius Thomas catches two TDs from Tebow and the rest of the points are via Prater’s foot.
D/ST: Green Bay Packers ($4800) – I really, really tried to find a better way to spend the extra $900 available to me over the cheapest defense, but I could not. Perhaps this is reflective of my weakness in this format, or perhaps it is the opposite and I try too hard to max out the cap and not assemble the strongest group, regardless of salary. So instead of playing more musical chairs with my lineup, I funneled the money to a defense that has a penchant for scoring, primarily because they are always ahead and able to tee off on opposing offenses, forcing turnovers.
Good luck in your playoffs this week, While I did not make it in my favorite league, I did in four others so all is not lost.
Well, so much for enjoying my best fantasy football season ever. I am playing in two third place games while playing in wild card weekend in a league that has the final in Week 17, but all in all, after a blazing fall, the early winter has not been so kind. Such is the nature of the beast with fantasy football.
The theme for this week’s entry into the SiriusXM Salary Cap Fantasy Football Challenge is loading up on studs whose teams are in the playoff hunt while backfilling with high upside low-priced fodder. I caught a big break this week, as my desired lineup was $100 over the cap. On a whim, I took a look at the kickers and found a way to make it work. Yes, we are at the point of the season where I am building suspense around kickers. That is sort of like losing sleep over how Batman and Robin are going to escape from the impending doom administered by the Joker or the Penguin.
QB: Matthew Stafford ($6700) – Part bang for the buck, part expecting another big game as the Lions attempt to regain the momentum they enjoyed early on and peak for a playoff run. I sure hope they have better luck than me doing it.
RB: Ray Rice ($9500) – The Ravens are still in the hunt for the #1 seed in the AFC and they should be playing with a chip on their shoulder after San Diego embarrassed them on national television.
RB: Ryan Mathews ($8200) – If he keeps this up, everyone will realize he spells his last name with only one t. Mathews is seeing goal-line chances, which thrusts him to the upper echelon of backs.
WR: Roddy White ($7800) – Fits the mantra of a guy on a team playing for something. White and Matt Ryan seem to be back on the same page and Atlanta is going to have to go airborn to keep up with the Saints, who always seem to excel in the spotlight of Monday Night Football. As an aside, imagine how many jelly beans are going to up for grabs come Monday night as fantasy league championships are decided everywhere and both teams are dotted with strong fantasy contributors. The ratings of Monday Night Raw may even suffer.
WR: Santana Moss ($4800) – Moss has been one of the more consistent performers the past several weeks and is still a huge value pick as his salary is not commensurate with his production.
WR: Torrey Smith ($4400) – When you are playing for the big score like I am in this contest, it is probably not the best idea to double up on a team like the Ravens, not known for their explosive offensive onslaughts, but with Anquan Boldin out, the exciting Smith could get more targets beyond the downfield shot or two Joe Flacco always seems to take with him.
TE: Jared Cook ($4000) – Tight end in fantasy football is really beginning to remind me of the catcher position in fantasy baseball. I thought long and hard about The Gronk, but in the end, went bottom of the barrel with Cook, who I hope is going to salvage what was a promising season.
FLEX: Reggie Bush ($6700) – I have actually had some pretty decent success picking an offensive player facing my hometown Patriots defense (well, for the sake of this column, let’s pretend they actually have a defense) while still watching my boys get the W. Bush is this week’s pick as he is finally being given lead back responsibilities and taking full advantage.
D/ST: Washington Redkskins ($4000) – I am forced to go with the minimum and I have opted for the Skins, who face a dinged up Christian Ponder at home where they should be able to pressure the rookie, resulting in sacks and turnovers.
K: Shayne Graham ($3800) – Did I say double on Ravens? I am actually tripling up as Graham is a couple hundred bucks below the price the lowest level kickers usually reside. The reason is regular kicker Billy Cundiff is hurt so Graham inherits his “out of a job” price. Basically, I am okay with Graham, feeling the difference between what he gets and say Mike Nugent is potentially less than what I get by downgrading someone above to slide in under the cap.
Before I go, I would be remiss if I did not wish all of you luck in your championship game, as well as those playing for pride and a couple of jelly beans in the third place game. But more importantly, please enjoy whatever it is you will be doing this weekend, hopefully spending some time with family and friends while filling up the recycling bin with ravaged wrapping paper.
Greetings all, hopefully your playoff push has begun with Antonio Brown anchoring your receiver corps. Before I jump into my SiriusXM foray into mediocrity this week, I want to dovetail a little on what Brian Walton talked about yesterday with respect to owning multiple defenses come playoff time. Depending on your league rules with respect to waivers, this is not the time to be cute, make sure you have a viable backup at every position, including kicker. This is playoff time, you no longer need to keep sleepers or fliers on your roster, you need to protect yourself against last minute surprises. There have already been a couple of instances where a kicker unexpectedly was unable to go, most recently Dan Carpenter. Unless you own Frank Gore, carrying Kendall Hunter in lieu of a second kicker is no longer prudent. That said, the one guy that I have picked up everywhere I can afford the roster spot is running back Brandon Seine with the Packers. Both James Starks and Ryan Grant are nicked up and John Kuhn is more of a third down back, though a valuable one in PPR. On an offense like Green Bay’s, Seine could rack up some points, especially if they use him to help get Starks and Grant healthy for the playoffs, though it would not surprise me if Seine usurped the job.
Now we move onto this week’s SiriusXM entry. I am in go for broke mode, just looking for that one big week as the chase for the season-long title was laid to rest weeks ago.
QB: Aaron Rodgers ($8700) – Rodgers has the same look that Tom Brady had during the Super Bowl run, extreme confidence that so long as there is a tick left on the clock, there is enough time to get the job done. While anything can happen on any given Sunday, especially on the road, chances are The Pack are not going to need another week of late-game dramatics to keep their streak alive versus the Raiders.
RB: Maurice Jones-Drew ($8500) – MJD leads the league in rushing yards, but his trips to the end zone have been few and far between. This is the week he hits pay dirt and he will do it more than once versus the Buccaneers.
RB: Chris Johnson ($5800) – Johnson appears to be running with more confidence, hitting the holes quicker and then making things happen when he breaks through the first line of defense and gets into space. Did I really just write that?
WR: Victor Cruz ($6100) – Cruz continues to produce and is a value play at his tempered salary. Sure, most everyone will have him, but I did not see anyone else I wanted to use to be the smartest guy in the room instead. I have nine other picks for that.
WR: Steve Johnson ($5100) – Probably my least comfortable pick of the week, I just don’t have the trust factor with Johnson; he is a little hit or miss. On the other hand, I am in the position of needing some upside guys to hit, it is not like I lose anything if he misses. Time to shoot for the moon.
WR: Santana Moss ($4000) – It is almost impossible to believe the amount of passing yards allowed by both Green Bay, and Moss’ opponent this week, the New England Patriots. Moss looks healthy and should benefit via even more targets as Fred Davis sits out his suspension due to his romance with the chronic, or whatever the kids are calling it these days. Whatever happened to just calling it pot?
TE: Jimmy Graham ($8700) – As I mentioned last week, I am 99% sure the proper play at tight end is to go dirt cheap, with the 1% being the possible addendum unless you play Graham or Rob Gronkowski. I am banking on that 1% this week.
FLEX Roy Helu ($4700) – To be completely honest, I am not sure I like the recent transition of adding points per reception to fantasy football scoring, but that is not going to stop me from taking advantage of the rule and using Helu, who should once again be on the receiving end of a bunch of pigskin spirals.
D/ST Seatte Seahawks ($4000) – I have a little wiggle room with respect to salary, but I just do not see anyone better than Seattle with the available funds. They should thrive against a rookie QB as Sam Bradford continues to nurse his ankle and AJ Feeley’s finger is banged up, leaving Tom Brandstater as the first string signal caller for the Rams.
K: Lawrence Tynes ($4000) – I cannot believe I just wasted ten minutes of my life trying to figure out if there was another kicker I wanted to spend my extra $400 on.
Good luck to you and all your teams this week and let the playoffs be decided on the field and not via injuries.