Perception and Fantasy in Week 11 Starts, Sits, Bluffs
I might be married right now. I could have a wife, some kids, live in a different house, drive a more family-friendly vehicle (well, I still might have bought my Camaro) and finding ways to juggle sports with birthday parties, family get-togethers and kid duty. It’s all quite possible, but based on my perception of said possible wife, I instead chose to break things off years back and sit here single and living with two guys - which can feel like you have no private space at times.
In fact, the friends that knew me back then still joke with me about splitting up with “Danielle.” She was exceptionally attractive, intelligent, funny, had strong family values and even enjoyed sports. However, I was young(er) and it was during a time when I felt a bit superior in comparison to many others. Not that I still don’t feel that way a bit in the sports writing world, but to be fair, you kind of have to in order to succeed.
To get one thing out of the way, I’ll admit, I have some trust issues. It goes back to elementary days when my best friend, or so I thought, stabbed me in the back. Okay, he actually kicked me in the stomach out of the blue while playing flag football, and then ran off, never to be seen again.
I am still at a loss for the reason behind that one. Maybe he was infuriated about trading me his Mark McGwire rookie card for Jose Cruz? He was an Astros fan – or, maybe just being an Astros fan was enough? I also had my second girlfriend cheat on me. Even though the relationship had become long distance and we were 19 years old, cheating still stings.
So, when it comes to trust, it takes a lot to gain mine – here’s looking at you Mike Shanahan, and you sticking with one running back finally!
Danielle and I had been together for a few months, and then two things happened within a few days that made me call off the relationship. The first was that she found a leather jacket in the campus library and decided she’d just keep it because “it was the cutest jacket ever.” We actually had an argument over the morality of not attempting to return the jacket. She relented and agreed to try to find the owner, but I feel like she only did so to avoid more arguing.
The very next weekend, she went to a party off-campus, while I was off snowboarding with friends. She got drunk. Now, I’m not judging people… I’m not hoity-toity and don’t have a problem with alcohol. I have a problem trusting people and their choices when intoxicated. We argued again – this time about trusting her without me at parties – and in the end, I suggested we go our separate ways.
Whether or not their proximity to each other heightened my frustration is uncertain, but these two situations resulted in my being single again. Granted, by choice, but single nonetheless.
I’m pretty sure – actually, I’m almost positive – that you’re sitting there thinking, “Wow, Jake. That was a pretty dramatic leap and reaction to two minor problems… IF you can even call them that.” And you know what, you’re probably right. I wiped away months of good times and chemistry for a jacket and a drunken outing. Like I said, we could have continued our relationship and maybe even ended up tying the knot, but now, I’ll never know and will always wonder.
Let me ask you this, though, “How is my situation any different to when you ignore or overreact to Fantasy players and their performances?”
Thirty-seven percent! That’s the percentage of leagues where Carson Palmer isn’t owned on NFL.com as of November 13. I’m sorry, but why is the QB with the ninth-most Fantasy Points (FP) not owned universally? In what universe does it make sense for 14 percent of leagues to have Randall Cobb not owned? Meanwhile, lowly Michael Bush has an ownership percentage just nine points under Cobb's.
In what way does any of that make more sense than my ending a relationship over picky issues?
I’ll give you another example. I’ve seen many Ryan Mathews owners considering trades and even some asking if Steve Jackson would be a good swap. Excuse me? Look, I know that everyone expected Mathews to be a RB1 and most even drafted him in the first round. However, letting your perspective (what Mathews expected to do) skew your proper valuation of player is a mistake. In two fewer games, Mathews has only 10 fewer FP. In fact, since his second game back, Mathews is averaging 9.2 FPPG, which is more FP per game and more total FP than BenJarvus Green-Ellis in that time frame.
How about the numerous Marshawn Lynch owners asking if trades for Willis McGahee, Jamaal Charles or C.J. Spiller would be a good move? Why do they ask? Because they think his schedule is too hard for the playoff run. Really? The same Lynch who torched the 49ers impenetrable run defense late last year and again this season?
Let’s go back to Palmer. He’s ahead of QBs like Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Michael Vick, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning. Cobb? Oh, he’s only the 13th highest scoring WR after being the third option to start the season.
Let’s do a few quick-fire examples to close out and hammer down the point.
Player: Rank Owned% Started%
Josh Freeman: 10 86 19
Eli Manning: 18 98 44
(Pretty sure more Freeman owners won in Week 10 than Eli owners did.)
Michael Bush: 36 77 17
Andre Brown: 20 43 12
(Bush saw more starts than Brown? Is anyone noticing that Bush doesn’t have a TD since Week 3 and Brown has seven on the year?)
Brandon Lloyd: 41 91 57
Denarius Moore: 19 89 29
(Do owners still believe the Pats offense and/or Tom Brady make Lloyd the better choice?)
TOP PAIR (Guaranteed a Good Week): Matt Ryan, ATL; Adrian Peterson, MIN; Calvin Johnson, DET – Think those “early” fourth and fifth round picks for Ryan are warranted now? Just as a FYI, Ryan has more FP than Tom Brady… Apparently, ADP really isn’t human. How else do we explain what he’s doing after such a gruesome injury last year… and that is why Calvin had an ADP in the first round.
RIVER RAT (Surprising Top Performances): Joe Flacco, BAL; The Jacksons (Fred and Steven), BUF/STL; Danario Alexander, SD – That Raiders defense, yea, it stinks. After all, it did let Flacco post only his third 20-plus FP game… FJax was facing the third stingiest defense for RBs and is in a timeshare, while SJax appears to have trouble just getting out of his own way at times. So, 21 and 18 FP outputs seem logical… Apparently, now nicknamed DX, Alexander exploded against Tampa Bay. This week is the true test of whether he is for real.
GUT SHOT (Let Everyone Down): Eli Manning, NYG; Michael Turner, ATL; Eric Decker, DEN – I was surprised by three straight weeks for Eli, but now, it’s four! I have never seen a team or QB more in need of a bye… No one was asking Turner for a Top 10 day, but 15 yards on 13 carries?! There are no words… We couldn’t expect Decker to keep scoring (a TD in each of the five previous games), but we also didn’t expect 15 yards and one FP.
Breakdown: Hold ‘Em – start them and/or players I like more than most rankings have them. Fold ‘Em – outright sit them; don’t consider them start-worthy in standard-sized leagues. Bluffs – still start them, but I like them less than most rankings and they will disappoint.
Matt Ryan, ATL (ARZ) – My Ranking 5: But he’s facing the Eagles! Three TDs and 23 FP. But it’s the Cowboys? Just 342 passing yards. Stop overrating matchups. Arizona has remained in the Top Five for fewest FP allowed to QBs, but Ryan has been a Top Five Fantasy player… overall.
Carson Palmer, OAK (NO) – MR 7: This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but Trojan maaaan! is a top-notch option against the Saints. Now this is a matchup to value properly, and the Saints have allowed 24 or more FP to QBs in all but two weeks (Matt Cassel and Michael Vick the two low outputs, and Vick managed 17).
Reggie Bush, MIA (@IND) – MR 14: You’re ticked, I get it. I’m not saying he is Jamaal Charles, actually, I’m definitely not saying that. But last week, I told owners to give Charles one more chance, and it paid off. I may be pushing my luck, but I’m giving Bush that same chance. After all, he did put up 12 FP just two games back, and no team allows as many FPPG to RBs as Buffalo does (25.4). Even with just 10-15 touches, Bush can put up RB2 numbers against the Bills.
Felix Jones, DAL (CLE) – MR 18: Now here, I feel a bit more worried. It seems that just when we’re ready to trust Felix, he kicks us in the stomach (see: cake matchup in first start of 2012 where he scored just seven FP against Carolina). The Browns defense is weak against the run, and Felix managed 25 FP against Atlanta and Philly – both with better run defenses.
Denarius Moore, OAK (NO) – MR 6: Moore has a TD catch in five of his last seven games. The Saints have allowed at least one TD catch to WRs in five of the last six games (Matt Ryan just decided to go to Tony Gonzalez twice and a lineman last week). Moore is also in the Top 10 for all WRs since Week 3, when he fully returned to form.
Stevie Johnson, BUF (MIA) – MR 21: So nice, I like him twice (Stevie appeared here last week). Johnson – and Ryan Fitzpatrick – can take advantage of good matchups. No one on the Bills sees more targets, and Tennessee was the first team since Week 2 to not have their WRs combine for at least 18 FP (with Arizona and Indy both hitting 41 FP).
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, PHI (@WAS) – MR 22/24: Yes, Nick Foles is at QB. Yes, owners are already overrating Foles. On the other hand, we can’t knock DJax and Maclin down too far. Both are rather risk-laden with Foles at QB, but only New Orleans presents a better matchup. Even with the risk, DJax catches enough passes to be the mildly safer play with the higher floor but lower ceiling –is that architecturally descriptive enough for you?
Greg Olsen, CAR (TB) – MR 8: It always feels good to have a player you recommended a significant amount show up big like Olsen did last week. While I’m not expecting two TDs again, I am expecting another good game against a Bucs defense that will force Carolina to pass.
Cincinnati Bengals (@KC) – MR 6: (Insert defense playing Kansas City here) Seriously, until the Chiefs prove otherwise, why not start a defense against them? Even the pitiful Saints defense managed positive points against KC, and the Chiefs have seen D/ST score 20, 12, 15, 14, 26 and 9 over the past six weeks.
Brandon Weeden, CLE (@DAL) – MR 21: No QB has topped 17 FP against Dallas – a team that shuts down opposing WR1s and has allowed just three passing TDs at home. Weeden also has just nine FP over his past two games.
Kendall Hunter, SF (CHI) – MR 47: Frank Gore will be lucky to post RB2 numbers, which means Hunter, who has seven games with four FP or less, doesn’t have a prayer at providing value against a defense allowing 9.8 FPPG to RBs.
Taiwan Jones, OAK (NO) – MR UR: The Oakland coaching staff just gave us the definition of “coach speak.” Heading into Week 10, the Raiders coaches were saying they trusted Jones and that he’d get the start. Then the gamed started and Marcel Reece led the way, while Taiwan saw two carries and heard Dennis Allen say he didn’t trust Jones. If the team doesn’t trust you, how can Fantasy owners?
Laurent Robinson, JAX (@HOU) – MR 49: The only reason the Texans defense doesn’t rank near the top against WRs is because Aaron Rogers went all… well… Aaron Rodgers on them in Week 6. Outside of that game, the Texans haven’t allowed more than one WR TD in a game and have held WRs to 14 FP or less seven times. Even with his 15 catches in two games, LRob has just nine FP to show for it.
Greg Little, CLE (@DAL) – MR 53: The team is expressing more confidence in Little since he stopped dropping balls like a horse trying to juggle (you know, because hooves would make that impossible... eh, whatever... you know it's a funny mental image). That doesn’t mean you should have more confidence in Little as a Fantasy option though. As I mentioned, Dallas shuts down opposing teams’ WR1s. While it’s worth arguing if it’s Little or Josh Gordon in Cleveland, it’s not worth arguing whether Little has value this week.
Joel Dreesen, DEN (SD) – MR 21: If only there were no Jacob Tamme in Denver. Actually, you can say the same for Dreesen. If there were just one TE for Peyton Manning, we’d have a TE1 option on our hands. As it stands, neither provides consistent value, and neither has topped 10 FP – even while reaching the end zone.
Arizona Cardinals (@ATL) – MR 17: The Cards were a hot D/ST pick, but since Week 3, they haven’t topped nine FP. The Falcons have forced three negative-point outings for opponents, including back-to-back sub-zero efforts for Dallas and New Orleans.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (@BUF) – MR 20: If you didn’t read Given Up, just because a QB has a great matchup doesn’t mean he’s start-worthy. The Titans were a gift matchup, and Tannehill responded with more picks than FP (three to two). Don’t forget his zero-point effort in Week 8. Tannehill may seem like an upside play, but few are riskier.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR (TB) – MR 40: Crazy how much difference a year can make. Tampa Bay was the most favorable matchup for RBs last year, and now, they allow over 10 FPPG less at just 14.8 per.
Michael Bush, CHI (@SF) – MR 44: Just scroll back up to his comparison with Andre Brown. If Bush can’t score against weak defenses, what prayer does he have against San Fran and their wall-like run D?
Malcom Floyd, SD (@DEN) – MR 33: Floyd may be Philip Rivers' favorite target, but the Broncos defense tops out as the most difficult matchup for WRs. They even held Drew Brees’ receivers to eight FP. Floyd and Rivers are good, but they aren’t Marques Colston and Brees.
Michael Crabtree, SF (CHI) – MR 35: It’s unclear who will be the 49ers QB come Sunday, but it’s crystal clear that this game might see zero offensive touchdowns.
Vernon Davis, SF (CHI) – MR 11: Ranking Davis 11th doesn’t put him on most benches, and if I could move him lower, I likely would. It’s just that Davis has more upside than any TE in the teens and lower. However, he also hasn’t scored more than three points since Week 5 and Chicago allows just 5.0 FPPG to TEs.