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Tag:Jerome Harrison
Posted on: December 28, 2009 10:12 am
 

Who can we trust?

The holidays are great, because you get to exchange gifts and get some time off from work. With that being said, the best part about this holiday was that I won the championship in both of my fantasy (money) leagues. Nothing is more satisfying that taking money from your friends.

After watching a few of the worst games over one weekend that I can remember in some time, and how it affected the fantasy football world, one thing kept coming to mind: who can we trust in fantasy? I pulled out a win in both of my championship games, but some of my money players weren’t so “money.” Seriously, no one should expect a professional in any vocation to work at peak efficiency 100% of the time, but for a league in which so many "pros" are making more money in one season than many of us will make over the 25-30 years, it would seem that consistency would not be so hard to find. Granted, most of us do not have to: worry about RBBC at our jobs (imagine for a second if lawyers or doctors "shared the load" at their jobs, for example, one lawyer was the opening argument and cross-examination specialist while another one strictly handled closing arguments), face the prospect of the media trying to pull apart your co-workers at every turn or concern ourselves with people at work whose sole purpose is to stop us from doing what we want to do, even if sometimes seems that way.

But getting back to the issue of trust, who makes your list of "trustworthy" players? I decided to investigate this a bit further. Just as in school where 70% is a passing score, winning about 70% of your games during a 13-week fantasy regular season will leave you with a 9-4 record (.692 winning %), which will almost always get you a playoff berth, if not a division title and first-round bye. Using that same rationale, I'm setting the bar at 70% consistency for all fantasy players (or players who are subpar less than 30% of the time) across the board.

This analysis is only for the last two seasons and is simply looking for fantasy players who were subpar less than 30% of the time they took the field. Since the measuring sticks change each year, I cannot give a firm fantasy point average for each position, but rather the "subpar level" that each position recorded that season. I think you'll be surprised by the results.

1.      Aaron Rodgers

2.      Larry Fitzgerald

3.      Wes Welker

4.      Andre Johnson

5.      Dwayne Bowe

6.      Antonio Gates

7.      Tony Gonzalez

Meet your fantasy best friends, the players who over the last two seasons were there for you more often than anyone else. Consider the magnitude of this list for a minute if you would. At QB, you need your fantasy signal-caller to average 200 yards passing and two scores in seven of every 10 games. At RB, the averages are 60 yards and a score. At WR, five catches for 70 yards will do the trick and, at TE, five catches for 50 yards is just about enough. Further consider this list could have been reduced to five if you want to get technical and hold injuries or suspensions against a player. For example, Welker missed a few early games due to injury and Bowe just got done serving a four-game suspension. What's most surprising to me is the fact that not a single RB made the list. Believe it or not, last year's qualifiers were Matt Forte, LaDainian Tomlinson, Steve Slaton, Thomas Jones and Peyton Hillis. (Peyton Hillis, really?!?!?)

Perhaps I'm being a bit unfair at setting the cutoff at 30%. For those of you wanting to know, here is the list of additional players that would make the cut if I raised the bar to 35%:

1.      Drew Brees

2.      Peyton Manning

3.      LaDainian Tomlinson

4.      Adrian Peterson

5.      Chris Johnson

6.      Frank Gore

7.      Steve Smith (CAR)

8.      Vincent Jackson

9.      Brandon Marshall

10.  Dallas Clark

However, if we were to make the cutoff at 40%, we'd also be assuming that 8-5 (.615 winning %) always gets fantasy owners into the playoffs, which it does not. And we all know that somewhere along the way, at least of our opponents will make you their Super Bowl, which shrinks the margin of error even further. Granted, not all of your consistent players are going to hit rock bottom in the same week, so I understand this analysis is a bit lacking in some areas. With that said, it's becoming easier to see why the gap between the #1 team and #10 team is about three games in competitive leagues. We are dealing with a lot of mediocre fantasy players, some much more so than others.

How is this possible? After all, I'm certainly not calling Manning or Chris Johnson mediocre, am I? The answer is no. In psychology, students are often taught that “people are a product of their environment". The same statement applies here as well. Manning, for instance, can blame his knee rehab in 2008 and young WR corps in 2009 for being left off the first list. Johnson was being eased in last year during his rookie season and dealt with a more pass-heavy offensive approach from his offense before the bye in 2009. Steven Jackson's lack of a credible supporting cast recently has made him less consistent than he is capable of while players like Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice are off both lists entirely due to their respective delays to "feature-back" status.

Looking ahead to 2010, you're going to see roughly 10-12 of the 17 aforementioned players go in the first two rounds of fantasy drafts next summer and rightfully so, barring the unforeseen. But some of these players (in particular Bowe, LT, Smith, Gates and Gonzalez) will all be seen as players coming off disappointing seasons and thus will see their stock drop. But should it?

Due to his age and shaky future with his current employer, LT will be a hard sell as anything more than a low-end RB2 next season. Outside of him, I think the other 16 names listed above are players that you definitely can "trust".  I'll project now that if you can kick off your draft with Gore (Round 1), Manning (Round 2), Welker (Round 3), Smith or Bowe (Round 4) and Gonzalez (Round 5) next summer, you will find that you have yourself an incredibly consistent and competent team. The point I want to make here is that in a game like fantasy football that has so many variables contributing to its outcome each week, the goal should be to land as many constants as possible. With 4-5 "constants" making up your nine-man starting lineup, you increase your margin for error significantly, which is a very good thing. Ultimately, the draft only puts you in position to succeed; in-season management takes your team to the playoffs and wins championships. But the path to fantasy success begins by locking up as many constants as you can early on, so you don't leave early-season points (and thus, wins) on the bench and easily identify your team's weaknesses before your competition takes advantage. When an owner can use the waiver wire as a way to supplement their bench as opposed to their starting lineup, then it is quite likely their team is in very good shape.

Let's get back to what makes even the NFL's best players "untrustworthy". Sometimes, the biggest obstacle can be the one group of people that fantasy owners SHOULD be able to count on - coaching. For as much good as the great coaches do for their teams, isn't it amazing how often even they forget their team's identity? If I can say that about the great coaches, what does it say about the average or poor ones? The answer to these types of questions usually can be answered in one of two ways: 1) the GM "hints" who should play and the head coach or coordinators don't feel they has the authority to go against him or 2) the coaching staff, as a whole, are poor talent evaluators who can easily be swayed by a box score or the public. One of my biggest never-to-be-answered questions is: what exactly goes on during an NFL practice? Of course I'm being a bit sarcastic, but I ask because I find it amazing how often players just seem to burst on the scene. Let's examine a few pertinent examples:

  • How is it possible that Miles Austin goes from a part-timer to a player who must be double-teamed in less than a month? Are we to believe that Austin merely flashed in practice, only to become option #1 the same week Roy Williams was sidelined? Of course not.

  • How does Jamaal Charles go from Larry Johnson's part-time sidekick to a poor man's version of Chris Johnson in half a season? Apparently, Johnson had built up so much good will with the new coaching staff that Todd Haley & Co. saw fit to give LJ 132 carries to Charles' 23 prior to the bye (and LJ's subsequent suspension and release). It should also be noted that in standard scoring PPR leagues, Charles somehow still managed to outscore Johnson in three of the Chiefs' first seven games.

  • How does Jerome Harrison post the third-highest rushing total in NFL history one game after getting benched after seven carries? Was Jamal Lewis capable of putting up this kind of performance this year? Not a chance. James Davis may have had a chance if he could have stayed healthy, but Cleveland wasted valuable time - in what we all knew was a rebuilding year - giving Lewis carries when it should have been using that time to figure out if Harrison or Joshua Cribbs were part of the solution in the backfield.

  • Lastly, how is it that Michael Bush has the each of the Raiders' last three 100-yard rushing performances and is often the least used of the three backs? With all three Raiders' RBs - Bush, Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden - all having recorded at least 90 carries this season, isn't it a bit odd that Bush is sporting a healthy 5.0 YPC while the other two backs are each under 4.0 YPC?

 

Some of you may have a few players YTP, before the championship is decided, but now is the time to start thinking about next FFB season. I already cashed in on both of my leagues, by winning the championships. I won, because I prepared for the draft, starting in April. This is how I won:


League 1:

QB: Matt Schaub

RB: Ray Rice

RB: Knowshon Moreno / LeSean McCoy / Donald Brown / Darren McFadden

WR: Andre Johnson

WR: Chad Ochocinco / Calvin Johnson / Pierre Garcon

TE: Vernon Davis / John Carlson

K: Lawrence Tynes

DEF: Jets / Chargers


League 2:

QB: Matt Schaub

RB: Chris Johnson

RB: Knowshon Moreno / Jamaal Charles / Jonathan Stewart / Darren McFadden

WR: Andre Johnson

WR: Vincent Jackson / Jericho Cotchery

TE: Dallas Clark

K: Nate Kaeding

DEF: Eagles / Saints


Most of the players on my roster were drafted. Some were FA pickups, but most were through the draft. The only trade that I made was in League 1: Hines Ward and Willis McGahee for Knowshon Moreno (in week 6). The main point that I’m trying to make is that you have to study the players and draft guys whom are consistent. Fantasy football doesn’t normally reward risky moves. Doing your homework should prevent you from drafting busts (like Darren McFadden). If you take a couple of busts in your draft, the other reliable players should be able to make up for the few stinkers.


Good luck in 2010, boys.  

 

 

Posted on: December 10, 2009 8:25 am
 

Steelers vs Browns

In a marque matchup, the Steelers play the Browns tonight...can you catch my sarcasm? The Steelers need the win to stay in the playoff hunt, so this game should be a rout.

Passing Attack:
When these two teams hooked up earlier this year, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 417 yards, the most since a 433 yard performance against Denver back in 2006. Cleveland has lost its last seven games, but the Browns have actually played respectable defense recently. They were torched through the air last week against San Diego, but they held Cincinnati the previous week to 96 passing yards and Baltimore to 146 passing yards in week 10. We’ll see if Big Ben and crew can exploit the Browns on Thursday.

Roethlisberger’s task of leading the reeling Pittsburgh passing game will be made difficult if Hines Ward doesn’t play. The team’s leading receiver has a hamstring injury that will limit his effectiveness if he plays, but if he doesn’t play, Mike Wallace will take his spot and be the deep threat he’s been all season. And don’t look now, but Santonio Holmes has scored in the last two games after not scoring in nine straight. Cleveland’s 32nd ranked defense could be in retreat mode for most of the game, as Holmes could be the driving force of the passing game. You should keep in mind, though, that there could be inclement weather in Cleveland. Snow and wind are possibilities, both of which could hinder the passing game somewhat.

Running Attack: The five games leading up to last week’s contest were okay for Rashard Mendenhall from a yardage standpoint, but they lacked the TDs necessary to make him the consistent low-end #1/high-end #2 RB he’s turned into. His 103 yard effort last week against Oakland, coupled with the fact that he’s had at least 20 carries in 4 of the last 5 games translates into Mendenhall being a valuable commodity right now. The Browns have had trouble stopping the run most of the year, and with DT Shaun Rogers out for the year, that only makes their problem worse. Mendenhall was held to only 62 yards in the first meeting this year, but he did score a TD. And again, with the weather playing a potentially important role, he should be counted on and given every opportunity to at least put up those kinds of numbers this week. The Browns have given up 14 rushing TDs, so expect Mendenhall to get in the end zone this week as well.

And now for the Browns:

Passing Attack: Ok, who was that impersonating an NFL-caliber QB last week for the Cleveland Browns? Couldn’t have been Brady Quinn, right? Well, actually it was. In fact, Quinn had a solid performance against San Diego, throwing for 271 yards, 3 scores and no interceptions. And while Pittsburgh remains one of the league’s toughest defenses, one needn’t look any further than last week’s game against Oakland when Bruce Gradkowski played great in the second half against the Steelers. Cleveland’s offense is just as putrid as Oakland’s, so conventional wisdom says if the Raiders can succeed against the Steelers, the Browns should too. We’ll see if that is indeed the case.

As it stands now, however, be cautious about starting a Cleveland Brown with any level of confidence. Their receivers are still works in progress, and each game in fantasy football this time of year is simply too big to risk playing subpar players against a formidable opponent. Table any thought you may have of starting a Cleveland receiver.

Running Attack: Can you believe that after 12 games the Cleveland Browns only have 3 rushing TDs? That’s an incredible number, but one that hammers home the struggles of this team’s ground attack. With Jamal Lewis on IR, the rushing duties fall on the shoulders of Jerome Harrison, who’s nothing more than a 3rd down back in this league. His fantasy production will be kept at a minimal this week and into the foreseeable future. Perhaps his biggest contribution can be made in the passing game. He did have 7 receptions last week and scored on two of those catches, so there is value there. Just keep your expectations in line this week.

My Prediction: Steelers 24 - Cleveland 13

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com