Fantasy Football Grind: Week 4
Rest easy if you think you lost your fantasy matchup this week because of a Monday night fourth quarter rock, paper scissors showdown between Broncos running backs Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball.
The backs apparently used the game to decide who would get the chance at a 1-yard touchdown late in Denver’s game against Oakland. Hillman threw rock, while Moreno and Ball threw scissors, according to the Broncos’ team website (http://bit.ly/14BZvzs).
But Denver coach John Fox told reporters Tuesday the roshambo was just a watercooler moment, not a decision-maker.
Real or not, the episode comically illustrates a common fantasy dilemmas — predicting touchdowns is ridiculously difficult, at best.
Look at the NFL’s touchdown leaders among non-quarterbacks: Eddie Royal has five, while five players have four each. Adrian Peterson, Jimmy Graham and Wes Welker aren’t too surprising, but Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas? It’s still a tough bet to see those two and Royal all passing 10 touchdowns each this year.
Remember, NFL teams constantly try to misdirect opponents to open up holes on the field and easy routes to the end zone. That creates a lot of variance for fantasy scoring, and should be part of what you consider as you’re making decisions for your teams.
Also, “Rock is for rookies,” according to the World Rock Paper Scissors Society. So Moreno or Hillman are clearly the better picks if a similar scenario arises — if Fox doesn’t catch them and calls a bootleg for Peyton Manning instead.
PATIENCE VS ANTICIPATION
Fantasy players at all levels have widely varying philosophies on when to change their minds on players and when to make serious changes to their fantasy teams.
Many agree that one bad game isn’t enough to warrant dumping an underperforming player or jump ship for a one-hit wonder. But it’s getting closer to the time to get away from what you thought on draft day and weigh more heavily what you’ve learned so far this season.
Yahoo fantasy analyst Brad Evans (who we’ll get to know more in a bit) says he considers three games enough of a sample to make some concrete observations and serious fantasy changes.
ESPN senior fantasy analyst Mathew Berry says he waits until after Week 4 for serious changes, feeling it’s enough time to make a comeback from a slow start.
Whether, you’re benching, adding, dropping or trading, here are some players who are giving much different impressions now than they were at the beginning of the year.
QB: Sam Bradford, St. Louis. Bradford was considered a breakout candidate in some fantasy circles going into this season — in two-quarterback leagues where 20 or more passers start each week. But despite a rough Week 3 game, Bradford finds himself tied with Matthew Stafford as the sixth-best quarterback in fantasy, according to ESPN scoring. If Philip Rivers has already made a splash in your league with another owner, Bradford could be available while you wait for Tom Brady, Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick to work out the kinks.
RB: C.J. Spiller, Buffalo. He’s averaging 3.5 yards per carry. But worse: He has 14 total fantasy points this year, behind Andre Ellington, Da’Rel Scott and the injured Shane Vereen. Worse, his teammate Fred Jackson has more yards rushing and receiving and is close to Spiller in carries and receptions. Spiller is expected to play Sunday.
WR: Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants. The assumed risk for Nicks coming into the season was health — not what he can put up when he’s actually on the field. But with the Giants 0-3 and Eli Manning struggling, all-around prospects are looking ugly unless Nicks’ teammates can pick things up.
TE: Tony Gonzalez. His line through three games: 11 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Think he could have used a full preseason?
RINGER TIME: BRAD EVANS
Yes, there’s value in being wrong and admitting it.
Ask Evans, whose background in history and education influences his approach of getting multiple sides to a story, then making educated guesses.
Evans says there’s sometimes a tendency in the fantasy world to gloss over bad calls.
For example, many owners are still clinging onto Denver’s Ball, expecting him to eventually surpass Moreno and Hillman and run away with the Broncos starting job.
“It’s pretty embarrassing,” Evans said.
It’s also understandable — nobody wants to concede on a player prematurely only to see him explode for an opponent’s fantasy team.
But owners need to “put aside their mancrushes for a minute,” Evans says.
“I’m one that completely admits that I’m wrong, because I’m going to be — a lot,” Evans said. “You have to constantly reassess.”
Evans offers this interesting stat: Among the top 12 running backs taken in drafts any given year, nearly 44 percent finish outside the top 15.
So if it happens to yours, don’t act like it’s such a big surprise.
Getting close to needing to make bold decisions in several leagues after Week 3. Among many outstanding questions:
— What the heck do I do about Spiller and David Wilson in a relatively standard 10-team league where I’m 0-2-1 and have DeMarco Murray and Rashard Mendenhall? I could easily be 2-1.
— I’m 2-1, in first place and the top scorer by a wide margin in a modified point-per-reception (PPR) league with good all-around depth, especially at receiver. Should I package a bench player like Antonio Brown or Josh Gordon with Frank Gore to try to get an even better second running back?
— How can I shore up a badly underperforming receiving corps in a 12 team PPR keeper league where I’m 0-3? Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson and Tavon Austin haven’t shown much, yet have potential. I’m also deep at running back with Peterson and could potentially trade Darren Sproles, Lamar Miller, Reggie Bush or Moreno for a pass catcher.
Almost look like math problems, don’t they?
My approach in each situation is the same. There’s a range of outcomes I can expect if I just sit tight and let things play out. But I’m also measuring the risks of making trades, assuming fair or win-win deals.
It’s like chess, cards or any other game. You know the moves and possible strategies, then adjust to the pieces you have.
Maybe there’s something to the simplicity of daily leagues, where I went 3-1 this week.