It goes without saying that the typical reader of Advanced NFL Stats is what's frequently referred to as "VIP material." Power meetings abound, followed by erotic liaisons on private yachts, followed by ever more powerful meetings, followed by even more erotic liaisons on even larger private yachts. It's tiring business, indeed.
Against this backdrop of fast living, the reader attempts to maintain an elite fantasy football team. Yet, it's not always possible to make the necessary mid-week waiver-wire moves. So the reader finds himself at week's end -- perhaps even on Sunday morning -- with an injured quarterback here, an ineffective wide receiver there, and neither the time nor inclination to research all the available players duly.
This is where Advanced NFL Stats can help: below are a couple of options at each of the typical fantasy-football positions that are likely to perform better than what we'd expect from a typical a freely available player. Each player named below is owned in fewer than 50% of Yahoo leagues, making it quite possible that at least one of them is available in the reader's league.
What sort of performance might the reader expect from the following players? Obviously, it's impossible to answer this question with any certainty; however, in the interest of full transparency, I've included a list of all the picks from the first three weeks of this experiment at the bottom of this post.
Here's a summary of the average points by position over that same three-week span (using Yahoo's default scoring, minus the last four categories, which are largely random):
And here are this week's picks:
In T.S. Eliot's poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", the narrator of said poem agonizes painfully over trivial matters, asking "Shall I part my hair behind?" and "Do I dare to eat a peach?" One thing he doesn't ask is "Do I dare to roster Curtis Painter (5% owned) this week?" Why? Because that is decidedly not a trivial question, is why. Painter has an 83 NY/A+ and has failed to top 6.0 (raw) yards per attempt in his last five games; however, the Carolina defense is ranked 30th overall by GWP and, as you can imagine, is favored -- suggesting that Indy will have to resort to passing sooner than later, allowing Painter's pass attempts to add up. The other pick this week is Vince Young (19%), who's starting in place of Michael Vick for a second straight week against a weak (28th overall) New England defense.
Danny Woodhead (23% owned) remains widely available in Yahoo leagues -- perhaps mystifyingly so. Over the past three weeks, Woodhead has averaged 10.7 rushes and pass targets combined (and 53 yards) per game. This is part of what makes him useful: he's used fairly evenly in the running and passing games, making him an asset for the Patriots whether they're ahead, behind, or even.
Up till about five minutes ago, I was unaware that Austin Collie (19% owned) was averaging over five targets per games (5.7, precisely) this season, and yet Advanced NFL Stats is well known for never telling a lie. Tennessee's Damian Williams (24% owned) had only one reception last week for 16 yards, but he was targeted 11 times. Even presupposing an average yards per target of, say, 7.0 (i.e. not particularly high for a wide receiver) that should have produced just under 80 yards of receiving. He may not duplicate that target total against a 29th-ranked Tampa Bay defense, but he appears to have become at least the second option in Tennessee.
With Dallas Clark sidelined in Week Ten, Jacob Tamme actually led Indianapolis in targets (8). That's pretty great for a tight end -- in particular, for one that's only owned in 2% of leagues and facing Carolina's defense this week. Also, my fellow Americans, please note that Brent Celek (35% owned) is still widely available, has been targeted at least six times each of the past five weeks, and facing New England.
St. Louis (18% owned, 0.62 PROB, 10 D-Rank) and Atlanta (35%, 0.77, 17) combine availability with likelihood of defensive success this weekend.
Results to Date
Here are the results from the first three weeks of our Great Fantasy Experiment -- again, using Yahoo's default scoring. It's not immediately clear to me what might constitute a "good" performance from a freely available fantasy player. For now, we'll leave that question to a different time.
A glossary of all unfamiliar terms can be found here.