In the 2007 season, we were in the sixth year of my now 11-year, local, keeper league. Every year or two, we have a person drop out for one reason or another, and I have to find a replacement. For a while, we had a waiting list because this is “the league” to be in. However, I had increased the number of teams (should be mandatory) to 12 and had someone leave in the same offseason. So, we needed three owners, and the one inexperienced guy at the bottom of the list finally got his invitation.
As is the case in any keeper league, late-season trades happen that aren’t truly equal in value. With one team aiming for a title and another looking to next year, many times the trade is a bit unbalanced. That’s part of the game and entirely acceptable.
However, the trade that was accepted, and nearly processed, bordered on insanity… mainly due to inexperience. It was Week 11, and Team A sent a package of Derek Anderson, Samkon Gado and Anthony Gonzalez to Team B for Peyton Manning and Maurice Jones-Drew. You remember Derek Anderson don’t you? That one amazing year… well, amazing by his standards. How about Anthony Gonzalez? Remember when he was supposed to be the next great WR in Indy?
Apparently, Team B (I’m sure you’ve figured out that he was the “newbie”) bought into the Anderson craze and Gonzalez hype, while overrating Manning’s less-than-amazing first half and MJD’s low number of 100-yard games. And not surprisingly, the league lost it. I had never before seen, and have yet to see, such rage from all other owners.
Now, I fully believe and preach that trades should never be vetoed unless there is proof (real proof) of collusion. However, this one time, I felt an exception was warranted. It was for the good of the league. Owners threatened to quit. Some wanted their money back and others said they weren’t going to pay (side note: always, and I mean always, get the league dues on draft day). One even promised bodily harm – although, I think he was joking, or at least I hope so.
In the end, the trade was reversed after explaining to the new owner why it was a terrible trade, and in the end, the only owner still upset was from Team A. Understandable, but come on, did he really think that would fly?
There is more to this story than just sharing it for your reading pleasure. It’s to point out how owners can miss the entire picture if they just look at the end numbers.
Just last week, we saw LaRod Stephens-Howling rush for 127 yards and a TD. Upon further examination, we see that “The Hyphen” notched 92 of those yards on two rushes where there were no defenders up the middle. He won’t even get the start over Beanie Wells coming off the IR this week.
There are plenty of other examples. Santana Moss and Aldrick Robinson both posted double-digit games. However, both also caught just one pass for a TD. Brian Hartline sits in the Top 30 at WR, but take away his Week 4 game and he doesn’t crack the Top 60 – sitting behind the likes of Andrew Hawkins and Kendall Wright. How about Joe Flacco? The man has only topped 13 Fantasy Points once since his two-week barrage against the Pats and Browns, but it came against the Raiders in Week 10. In case you couldn’t tell, you and I could put up decent passing and receiving yards against the Raiders, and the Pats and Joe Haden-less Browns for that matter.
Before you scoff at the mention of those two Skins receivers, know that I’ve received several questions about both and their validity in starting over guys like Mike Wallace and/or Larry Fitzgerald this week. Owners are often too lazy to dig into the numbers and get the real story.
The point is, looking at Fantasy Point totals alone doesn’t provide you with the best information. It is why I add in additional defensive metrics to make my rankings in Given Up each week. It’s also why you would create as much outrage as that inexperienced owner did if you traded Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shonn Greene and Josh Gordon to get Eli Manning and Jamaal Charles right now.
ACES IN THE HOLE (Guaranteed a Good Week): Robert Griffin III, WAS; Marcel Reece, OAK; Andre Johnson, HOU – Wonder if any of his owners are still worried about RG’s two slow games right before Washington’s bye… The reason Reece is here and not as a surprise is because you played him if you listened to me. No, I didn’t expect a game that good, but he was a recommendation in all leagues… See: Schaub, Matt below and Johnson being his favorite target.
RIVER RAT (Surprising Top Performances): Matt Schaub, HOU; LaRod Stephens-Howling, ARZ, BUF/STL; Justin Blackmon, JAX – Schaub is a good quarterback, but he’s not elite, and that team doesn’t need to him pass a ton – until he did against Jacksonville… Sure, two runs made up for the bulk of The Hyphen’s day, but Fantasy Points are Fantasy Points… Imagine if Blackmon didn’t have early-season injury issues and had a QB who could get him the ball more regularly.
GUT SHOT (Let Everyone Down): Matt Ryan, ATL; Arian Foster, HOU; Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ – Five interceptions for Ryan? Brady Quinn outscored him – Brady stinkin’ Quinn!… What happens when your QB throws for 527 yards and five TDs? You put up your first single-digit game of the year… Remember how last year, the QB in Arizona didn’t matter much for Fitz’s production. Well, talk about one year making a big difference.
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.
I just want to say all of the bird teams have me ticked (Eagles, Falcons, Cardinals… ok, not the Ravens). I was nearly perfect last week except that Matt Ryan went interception-happy and Nick Foles forgot DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin existed (maybe he was just following Michael Vick’s lead?). This is just all the more reason I hate birds! Chirping at five A.M., pooping on my car, carrying diseases… why do they exist?! Anyway…
Matt Ryan, ATL (@TB) – My Ranking 5: He’s back this week and back at number five again. And no, that’s not intended because of his five picks last week (still fuming). Ryan has reached the level where we expect a bounce-back game and that one-off game won’t faze him much. Plus, the Falcons head to Tampa Bay to play a team that’s allowed 21.8 Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) to QBs over their last five games.
Andy Dalton, CIN (OAK) – MR 9: Not only has Dalton hit 23 and 24 FPs the past two weeks, he has six TDs and no INTs in those games and now faces a defense that’s worse than either of the two opponents (NYG, KC). The Raiders allow the third most FPPG to QBs and recently let Joe Flacco notch 29 FP against them. Trot Dalton out there with confidence.
Alfred Morris, WAS (@DAL) – MR 12: I’m doing it again. I’m picking a player in a Thursday game, and I had promised I’d stop because Thursday games just laugh in the face of logic. This is a bit different, as it’s a day game because of Thanksgiving, but also because Morris has not only gained our confidence, but Mike Shanahan’s too (20 carries against Philly). On top of that, Dallas has allowed at least 100 rushing yards or a rushing TD in every game since their bye. That averages out to 16.5 FPPG – quite an attractive number for ALF owners.
Marcel Reece, OAK (@CIN) – MR 15: I like him last week and nothing is changing my opinion for Week 12. Darren McFadden is likely out again, and that means Reece is primed for another nice week. The Bengals allow 17.2 FPPG to RBs and even if the running game struggles, Reece is too heavily involved in the passing game to be shut down. Lock him in as a RB2.
Victor Cruz, NYG (GB) – MR 7: It always sounds like booing when the crowd yells “Cruuuuuuuz” after a big game or TD catch. It’s actually quite possible some of those were boos during the last three Giants games. Cruz has just 10 FP in those games, but the Giants were on a downward spiral heading into their bye. Eli Manning is saying that his arm feels significantly better, and that, along with a matchup where much passing will be needed, presents Cruz with a great opportunity to hear those happy fans scream his name again.
Jordy Nelson, GB (@NYG) – MR 13: While the Giants will pass to keep up, the Packers will just pass, and pass again. The Giants have kept just one team from scoring 19-plus FP via WRs. In addition, WRs averaged 25.5 FPPG in the four games before New York’s bye and scored seven TDs. Even with Randall Cobb being the top option in Green Bay now, there will be plenty of Aaron Rodgers love for Nelson to near WR1 value.
Michael Crabtree, SF (@NO) – MR 23: Four scores and three games ago, Crabtree brought forth on his owners another disappointing season, conceived in potential, and dedicated to providing WR2 value or more. With those four TD catches in three games, Crabtree is finally providing the kind of production we hoped for when San Fran drafted him in 2009. The Saints are miserable on defense, and there is no better matchup for Crabtree to keep his run going.
Brandon Myers, OAK (@CIN) – MR 7: How on Earth does my Brandon Myers bandwagon not look like this?
I’ve been driving this thing with Carson Palmer in the passenger seat for weeks now, stopping at every Fantasy owner’s house to spread the word. Myers has at least 44 yards in every game since Oakland’s bye and 30 targets over the last three games. Palmer loves him, I love him, so why don’t you?
St. Louis Rams (@ARZ) – MR 11: Add in a rookie QB for a team allowing the third most FPPG to opposing defenses, and you have yourself the pickup of the week. The Cards have only one game without a turnover, and that’s not going to happen again with Ryan Lindley making his first NFL start.
Christian Ponder, MIN (@DAL) – MR UR: Yes, that’s “unranked” for Ponder. Even if Percy Harvin returns, Ponder has no prayer in Chicago, facing a defense allowing less than 10 FPPG to QBs. Two similar defenses that Ponder faced recently (Seattle and Arizona) held him to two FP each. Ponder has a legitimate shot at negative value!
Michael Bush, CHI (MIN) – MR 49: Say it with me, “I will not start Michael Bush in any league.” Bush will keep showing up here until owners stop asking me if he is startable. No TDs and no games with over four FPs since Week 3. Stop trying to start the man.
Alex Green, GB (@NYG) – MR 50: It seemed a bit excessive to run James Starks 25 times against the Lions last week, but it also sent a message: Alex Green’s time involved in the Packers run game is over. In fact, Green didn’t touch the ball once (no carries and just one pass target). You should move on just as Green Bay has.
Andre Roberts, ARZ (STL) – MR 52: While Lindley can’t be any worse than what’s been at QB for Arizona so far, there is no guarantee this rookie can be any better. He has some long-term upside, but Lindley went just 9-for-20 after stepping in last week, and the Rams allow just 141.3 WR receiving YPG.
Brian Hartline, MIA (SEA) – MR 53: Oh, how long ago that 12-catch, 253-yard and one TD outburst seems for Hartline. He sure seemed cooler at the time…
It took Hartline four games to match those numbers afterwards, and that Week 4 outing is still the only time he’s reached the end zone. Seattle allows a paltry 120.1 WR receiving YPG and have only seen five teams have their WRs score – four of those only notching one TD.
Dennis Pitta, BAL (@SD) – MR 25: You might not think so when discussing the Chargers, but they are actually quite strong versus tight ends. San Diego allows just 5.2 FPPG to them and let only Tony Gonzalez top seven points on the season. Add in Pitta’s concussion and you have more than enough reason to find another option this week.
New York Jets (NE) – MR 25: Okay, the Patriots are actually forcing opposing defenses to average a negative 1.6 FPPG. Yes, negative points. As in, you would be better served leaving your D/ST spot empty than to start a defense against the Pats.
Russell Wilson, SEA (@MIA) – MR 21: If not for his TD passes, Wilson would have almost no value. Okay, let me explain before you tell me that’s the most obvious thing I’ve ever said.
Wilson has only topped 188 yards three times. In fact, Wilson averages just 182.7 YPG, and while many think Miami is a nice matchup, they have only allowed three QBs to pass for more than one TD.
Daniel Thomas, MIA (SEA) – MR 37: The Seahawks defense is traveling well this season and has held RBs under 10 FP in four of their five road games. Reggie Bush and Thomas continue to share the workload, which already presents Fantasy issues, and with a tough matchup (Seahawks allow just 79.7 rushing YPG and 71.4 on the road) Thomas is best avoided where possible.
The Entire Saints Backfield (SF) – MR 27, 40, 46, 47: Darren Sproles tops the list, but it’s only because of his explosiveness and not his guaranteed touches. With Mark Ingram (40), Chris Ivory (46) and Pierre Thomas (47) all healthy and in the mix, you can’t start any with confidence. Unless it’s a PPR league, I’d actually try to bench Sproles where possible, as I am just now mentioning the fact that the opponent is the 49ers… and they are not a Fantasy RB treat.
Dwayne Bowe, KC (DEN) – MR 47: Brady Quinn at QB, enough said. Well, actually, Champ Bailey in coverage too. Man, this is bad – as in, mom burnt the turkey and now we have to have Chinese on Thanksgiving bad.
Santana Moss, WAS (@DAL) – MR 48: As a reminder, Dallas shuts down wide receivers. As another reminder, Moss needs TD catches to have value. Without them, Moss is averaging 2.4 FPPG. Do you want to risk Moss finding the end zone against the Cowboys secondary? You should risk taking the last slice of Thanksgiving pie instead.
Editor’s Note (see: Ciely, Jake) – Of course, Moss hates me. Posts his highest catch total and scores again… sigh, at least I did say he was a risk play, which means he could do just that… oh well, good thing the pie was tasty.
Martellus Bennett, NYG (GB) – MR 17: I did say the Giants would need to pass in order to keep up with Green Bay. That doesn’t mean Bennett will necessarily benefit. Since Week 3, Bennett hasn’t scored and only topped three FP once with two zero-point efforts mixed in. In addition, after allowing a TD catch to a tight end in the first two games, the Packers have allowed just one more since – during the Andrew Luck pass-fest in Week 5.
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