Sports

2011 Fantasy Football Lessons Learned Going into Week 5

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I’m a big advocate of personal growth. I often ponder ways to become “a better person” when I’m not modeling supply chains in my riveting day job. Because I equate “better person” with improving my fantasy football experience, I spend the vast majority of my time analyzing the strategic and tactical nuances that have made me successful or unsuccessful. The traditional “important” values like stewardship, integrity, honesty, etc should be taught to me by my company’s computer based training modules. I can’t waste my free time addressing any issues in those areas when I scored 5 out of 5 on the “Respect” course. Does a perfect score indicate any room for improvement? Of course not!

So when I win every weekly matchup I’ll stop worrying about fantasy football strategy. Also important to note…when I’m not obsessing over fantasy football, I typically spend time thinking up ways to become besties with Phil Mickelson (I’m a big fan of full self disclosure, makes for entertaining conversation and it’s an automatic alibi if my advice screws someone in their fantasy league since my thoughts can generally described as insane), my thoughts of which may actually be more entertaining than the remaining contents of this article. But, since this site isn’t  www.waystostalkthebestpersoninhistorywhoalsohappenstobethebestgolferinhi..., I’ll keep the content limited to fantasy football (and some extraneous stream of consciousness).

Anyway, I’m not perfect. My fantasy football advice, while hopefully insightful, is and forever will be occasionally misguided. By critically examining the choices I and my league mates make during the course of a season, I can become more knowledgeable, refining my fake football skills while providing guidance to fantasysmacktalk.com visitors.

Lesson 1: Don’t overanalyze

This week I ran into this guy on an elevator in my hotel in Detroit (I travel every week for work…impressed?). The actor’s name is Tony Cox and he’s graced the big screen in two of my favorite underrated comedies, Bad Santa and Me, Myself and Irene. Anyway, I wanted a picture with him very badly for obvious reasons and there were other people on the elevator who would have obliged (I think).

Here’s what went through my head from the first to the fifth floor of the Marriott: Do I ask him for a picture? Celebrities hate being bothered though…but wait, he’s not a celebrity, he’s a C list actor who doesn’t exactly have an incredible repertoire of movies under his belt. He probably wants me to ask for his picture. Wait, he was in Willow, one of the best stories of courage and hope ever, he’s a great actor, he doesn’t want me to bother him! Ok, what do I do now? I pondered what to do and before I knew he was out of the elevator…

The moral of that ridiculously long story is in fantasy football, like in unplanned interaction with “short” actors, don’t overanalyze situations. Go with your instincts if you can’t easily make a decision. For instance, I believe Arian Foster and Chris Johnson are going to dominate the rest of the year, starting with this week even though a lot of people are ditching them. If you have one of them, it better take a trade of epic proportions to separate them from you. If you don’t have them now is the time to capitalize on vulnerable owners with a trade (see immediately below). I was trying to find some blockbuster trade to get some benefit from Foster when I went back and watched film of him from last year. Wow. He’s going to go bananas. Namejko is right.

Lesson 2: Never underestimate idiocy in your league

In one of my leagues this week, 2 trades that would make a seasoned fantasy footballer cry occurred: One was Chris Johnson and waiver wire crap for DeAngelo Williams and Miles Austin plus more waiver wire crap. The other trade was Frank Gore and Dez Bryant for Santana Moss and Benjarvus Green-Ellis (who I am renaming Benjarvo Green Jello…I don’t know why, I just like the name). My head nearly exploded. In the many years of playing fantasy sports, I have never wanted to veto a trade.

Now I saw two in one week that kept me up at night. My buddy in our league put it best. “I couldn’t even think up such an uneven trade. How did get to take that trade?” Then we find out that the guy giving CJ2K away actually proposed the trade! All references to the lack of integrity of the CJ2K recipient were thereby refuted. It’s not his fault he’s trying to win the league. References to the mental capacity of the CJ2K dealer tripled, both in number and severity of the handicap.

Moral of the story here is to never forget that there are people who play fantasy football who deserve to be taken advantage of. It is irresponsible of you not to manipulate them into an uneven trade! Was it immoral to sell dumb people an adjustable rate mortgage in 2005? You decide, but there is a reason why planned economies collapse and the USA is still a global powerhouse. It’s not because we coddle the weak!

Anyhoo, try the following approaches to get an uneven trade (more to come on this topic in later weeks). Consider commiserating with potential targets on their bad luck. Send them four thousand trade offers to wear them down. Send them trade proposals that are significantly skewed in your favor; when they reject (or in some shocking cases, accept and crack open some Andre you baller you!), send a moderately better trade offer that will now look like a bargain. Confuse them with statistics. Offer them name players that are obviously slowing down (did someone say Michael Turner?) but since they don’t watch the games they just see numbers. Offer them scrubs who got lucky a couple of weeks (Mike Tolbert was prime trade bait last week…too late now!) These are all ethical ways to take advantage of your competitors.

Lesson 3: Trust your instincts/The double tight end

That is not a sexual reference you pervs. I drafted Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis in a non PPR league, fairly early in the draft. I also had Kenny Britt on this team. Pretty good right? Well, I ended up dropping Graham to clear some room to keep my double handcuff of Arian Foster (Ben Tate and Derrick Ward). I knew Ward, even as the starter in week 1, is not the same caliber as Ben Tate. As soon as Tate did well, I should have dropped Derrick Ward and kept Graham because I knew he would be extremely productive this year since everyone is copy catting the Pats.

Instead, I conservatively kept both Ward and Tate because I illogically wanted to protect by Foster investment with too many backup plans. Now my original plan of playing both Graham and Vernon Davis as a TE and flex would serve me well right about now after Kenny Britt busted his knee. In a different league, I stared at Jermichael Finley for the entire 10 minutes before my pick, only to go with Gates because of sheer cowardice of taking him against most TE rankings. If my name was JerMark I think I would have had the guts to take Jermichael. Anyway, trust your instincts, unless your instincts tell you to trade Frank Gore to get Green Jello. In that case, move on to fantasy golf and let the sane people play fantasy football.

Lesson 4: Take the time to choose the right RB handcuff

Right now there are a number of teams that have two fairly equal backups and a few of the starters are showing some signs of wear. In Dallas, I really like Demarco Murray. In his limited carries, he’s looked very impressive, much more so than Choice. There is no way Felix Jones is making it through the year without missing some games and I think Murray will breakout given the chance to get 10 rushes a game and Jones will comply with some serious injury sooner or later. In fact, I think he’s better than Jones right now, but Jones obviously has ingratiated himself with the organization and will get the touches until he inevitably gets hurt.

For Atlanta, I believe Jacquizz Rodgers can potentially have some value, especially in PPR leagues as the year goes on. He’s like a mini MJD! Or a biggie Tony Cox! Anyway, he has good explosiveness (I love a good cliché) and can run outside the tackles; Turner sorely lacks both this year. Snelling, while a good substitute in PPR leagues during bye weeks, should not, in my opinion, get more carries than Rodgers in any scenario should Turner really start underperforming.

Other RBs on my radar are Steve Slaton (now on the Fins), Kendall Hunter (Gore looks really bad although I think he’ll turn it around) and Stephen Ridley. I watch every game every week to evaluate the performance of sleeper RBs because any n00b can evaluate WRs based on stats. It takes a true fantasy sportsman to suffer through 49er/Bengal games to judge potential sleeper RBs. I watch that garbage so that you don’t have to.