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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Off Tackle - Week 8
John Tuvey
October 27, 2010
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When you’re in eight leagues and your day job involves breaking down the fantasy prospects of every player for every game, it’s inevitable that football is never far from your mind. And since many of the same dilemmas I encounter are ones you the readers bump up against as well, I thought it might make sense to share some of my thought processes with you. There’s no rhyme or reason to the topics to be discussed here, other than at some point they popped into my head, kicking to the side lyrics from some obscure ‘80s song (“I don’t need no doctor/I don’t need no priest/All I need is my baby girl/To bring it on home to me”) and commanding my attention.

It says right there in the intro that this forum is all about me cracking open my brain and letting you check out how the gears and pulleys are working as I take on many of the same roster and lineup decisions you do. Since most of my weekend musings tended towards what a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad fantasy weekend it was—and Ratterree already covered that territory with aplomb in this week’s Commentary from the Edge—let’s take that angle quite literally. Here’s what I’m bumping up against in my leagues this week and what I intend to do about it.

DILEMMA #1: NO ROMO

In two leagues, I had already pared my roster down to one quarterback because Tony Romo was past his bye. Obviously, Monday night’s broken clavicle left me in dire need of a replacement.

In one league (touchdown-only scoring; yes, Virginia, they still do exist) I had enough depth at running back and wide receiver to pull off a trade. A fellow owner had Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, Darren McFadden, and a serious need at wide receiver. I was somewhat surprised that my opening offer went through right away, with no need to haggle or counter-offer. I served up the red-hot Kenny Britt and Michael Bush as insurance for my trading partner’s McFadden, asking in return for Roethlisberger and Marques Colston.

Britt had far and away the most points scored of any member of this trade (not only is it TD-only, 50+-yard scores are worth double), but a) I have Calvin Johnson, Johnny Knox, and Steve Smith (CAR)—and now Colston; b) there are at least a couple solid options in the free agent pool; and c) there’s still a very real possibility that Britt will face some sort of further discipline for his role in last week’s bar brawl. Bush is superfluous for me because on a weekly basis I could play the Chiefs’ backfield or the Jets’ backfield (it was an auction, in case you were wondering how I could end up with all those backs on one team).

That means I won’t have to mine the waiver wire for Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman, or Jon Kitna—all available in that league.

In my other Romo league, however, no trade is imminent. It’s a 10-teamer with large rosters, so finding an area of need to exploit will be significantly more difficult. And there I’ll be looking at the names mentioned above (save for Cassel, who’s already rostered) along with Carson Palmer and Matt Hasselbeck. Kitna might be the short term fix, as just about any QB with a pulse and a receiving corps like his should be able to exploit the Jacksonville secondary. There’s no real clear-cut long-term winner, so it may be a week-to-week cobblefest.

DILEMMA #2: BACKFIELD BYES

One of the necessities of building a receiver-centric fantasy team is mining the mid-range backs, and this year I was quite successful in that task with Ahmad Bradshaw and LeSean McCoy each on three clubs. Unfortunately, both are on the bye this week; even more unfortunately for me, two of my teams have both Bradshaw and McCoy.

In one league I actually may have enough depth to get by—which is good, because in this 14-team league there’s virtually nothing on the waiver wire; to wit, the top scoring back on the board is Oakland fullback Marcel Reece, with nearly a third of his points coming on last week’s touchdown. But thankfully my quantity-over-quality approach at the auction yielded not only Bradshaw and McCoy but also both Raiders backs, and some preemptive waiver wire work netted Mike Hart. I may very well end up using all three (one as a flex) this week.

An aside: Yes, I was among the 75 percent who didn’t have McFadden in my starting lineup last week; his injury history and 70 percent likelihood of playing led me to use Bradshaw, McCoy, and Bush instead. Combine McFadden’s output with my other lone bench player not on the bye, Steve Johnson, and it was a battle for my starters to outscore my bench. The final, though, was 2V’s starters 106, 2V’s bench 94; fortunately, my opponent ended up in between with 96.

The other league may be a bit trickier, as the depth behind McCoy and Bradshaw consists of Ronnie Brown and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Best options in the free agent pool in that league include goal line backs Mike Tolbert and Chester Taylor and new Buccaneers carry-sharer LeGarrette Blount. Time to spend some FAAB.

DILEMMA #3: TIRED OF WAITING ON RECEIVERS

Remember how last week in this very space I bemoaned Marques Colston forfeiting his WR1 card? And then I go and trade for him this week? File that under the category of “do what I say, not what I do.”

As noted above, in most of my leagues I have at least one and frequently two (or more) elite receivers. I’ve had better success hitting on receivers rather than first-round running backs; call it “doing the opposite”, call it “the 7/12” rule”, call it whatever you like—it works for me. But in leagues where I only have one elite wideout, I frequently have a gaggle of contenders/pretenders for the other spot. We’re getting to that time of the year when it’s time to separate them for good and move on.

Buffalo’s Steve Johnson is a contender. Not that I wouldn’t sell high on him right now, but we’ve thrown every possible excuse at him—untested quarterback, poor offense, tough match-up, Lee Evans on the other side—and (with all due respect to Cris Carter) all he does is score touchdowns. Ryan Fitzpatrick looks for him at the stripe, too. So he stays.

Denver’s Demaryius Thomas is a pretender—at least for this year. I’m starting to think Brandon Lloyd might be as well, that Denver is pulling a redux of 2009 on us and tanking after a fast start. Thomas seems to be consistently nicked, and for him to put up the kind of consistent production I can trust with a fantasy start he needs to essentially take Lloyd’s job; while I don’t necessarily trust Lloyd much more, I don’t see Thomas usurping him any time soon. File both under pretenders, though Lloyd wouldn’t be a flat-out drop; that many points next to his name should at least fetch something in a trade.

Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams is a contender. Dude passes the eye test, as in if you’ve watched any Buccaneer football this season you know that Josh Freeman will throw to Williams at any time despite double coverage—and Williams will go up and get it. I was a big fan of Arrelious Benn, Tampa Bay’s other rookie receiver, heading into the season because of the team’s desperate need and Benn’s physical gifts. While there’s still hope for Benn down the road, it’s Williams who has shaken off the attitude concerns that dropped him into the fourth round and proven to be a first-round talent. He stays.

Jacksonville’s Mike Thomas is a pretender. This kills me to say, because no one stumped harder for Thomas in the preseason than me. Backed it up, too; he opened the season on seven of my eight rosters. That he’s already been kicked to the curb in two speaks to my current assessment of his fantasy potential. It’s not Thomas, of course; it’s his quarterbacking. Unless and until David Garrard (or Trent Edwards, or whomever the Jags draft in April) demonstrates a whole lot more competence and consistency, I simply can’t trust Thomas with a fantasy start. Hence, sad to say, he goes.

Other Features
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary from the Edge
Tuesday Injury Report
Under the Numbers
Fantasy Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
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