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IDP Interactive - Week 16
Steve Gallo
December 20, 2008
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Welcome to the final edition of IDP INTERACTIVE for the 2008 fantasy season.

Let’s take a look at the LB dilemma forum member Donutrun Jellies has this week.

Donutrun Jellies  wrote,
I'm in a tight matchup in a championship game in a 10-team redraft league that features a single IDP ... Given the thursday game and not planning to start Addai/Rhodes (going with TJones & Pierre), I've waived the two Indy backs and filled my roster with D options, now I have to choose.

Harrison @ Tenn;
Ruud vs SD;
Ware vs Balt.

  • Ruud gets the most love in the IDP weekely LB rankings here in The Huddle, coming in at 3 with Ware close at 5 and Harrison at 16.
  • Ruud's been outscored by approximately 2pts per game in our scoring system -- as his high tackle total doesn't quite keep up with the sack points of the others.
  • Yahoo projections (for whatever the *^&(&** they're worth) this week have Ruud at 10 points, Ware at 10.7, and Harrison at 8 ...

Hmmm. Thoughts on this choice among supermodels?

Tackle Solo (1)
Tackle Assist (0.5)
Sack (3)
Interception (3)
Fumble Force (3)
Fumble Recovery (3)
Touchdown (6)
Safety (3)
Pass Defended (1)
Block Kick (2)

My Team:
QB Drew Brees
WR Steve Smith (backups Berrian, VJackson)
WR Terrell Owens
WR Antonio Bryant
RB Thomas Jones (backup SMorris)
RB Pierre Thomas
TE Dustin Keller
K Rob Bironas
DEF Dallas (backup Pittsburgh)
D Barrett Ruud (backup Ware, Harrison)

His Team
QB Donovan McNabb (backup Campbell)
WR Anquan Boldin (backup Edwards, Chambers)
WR Dwayne Bowe
WR Wes Welker
RB Adrian Peterson (backup White, Johnson, Stewart)
RB DeAngelo Williams
TE Jason Witten
K Sebastian Janikowski
DEF Baltimore
D Patrick Willis”

Always start your studs!
Last week we tackled the “always start your studs” mantra but this week we will have to tackle the dilemma of which stud to play when all your options are studs.  This tends to be an issue in leagues that start a minimal amount of IDPs but can also be an issue in larger leagues too.

Ready, A.I.M., Fire!!
Don’t get caught in the same old rut that many do and just analyze your lineup trying to figure out who to start.  Instead manage the entire process with what I call A.I.M.

AssessThe first thing you need to do is assess the risk/reward each of your starters presents.  Do you have a couple of top RBs facing top 5 defenses?  Is your top WR facing a shut down corner or an injury replacement nickel back thrust into the starting lineup?  Once you have done this for each position you can then proceed to your stud LB issue. 

Investigate:  Many fantasy GM’s don’t “investigate” their opponents roster and probable starting lineup.  “if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles;…”, Sun Tzu.  Just like in war, you must know your opponent and just like you assess your team you should assess your opponent’s team.  Broken down into basic laymen terms, you need to see if you need to “play it safe” or “swing for the fences”.

Matchup:  This is where you are looking at all the variables from both lineups and you play the player that helps you to matchup best with your opponent based on your risk/reward assessment.

Taking A.I.M. :
Your opponents lineup is chock full of studs:

  • Donovan McNabb has been on fire the past 3 weeks having thrown 7 TDs and averaging over 20 points/game over that time.
  • The duo of Adrian Peterson and Deangelo Williams are a formidable pair.  Peterson looks to be the top RB this week but Williams does have a tougher matchup versus the Giants
  • Boldin, Bowe & Welker:  I wish he had Brandon Marshall on his team so I could refer to his WRs as a BMW b ut the truth is both Boldin and Welker look to be playing in less than ideal conditions for a passing game and Boldin may not play at all as he missed practice on Friday due to a shoulder injury. Bowe has quietly been a top 15 WR this year but versus Miami I don’t see him having a huge week.  I do think he will have a solid game just not a 25+ point monster type game.  If Boldin can’t go both of his options have been inconsistent neither scare me this week.
  • Witten has been slowed but this week he looks primed for a decent  week as a safety valve for Tony Romo versus an aggressive Ravens defense.
  • Janikowski, a kicker!  Are we talking about a kicker?  Nope we aren’t.
  • Baltimore Ravens, have been one of the top defenses in many team d leagues this year but this week they face a Cowboys team in Dallas that needs to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.  This will probably be one of the Ravens lowest point output for the season, unless the Tony Romo from last year’s Bills game shows up.
  • Patrick Willis, talk about a stud.  Willis is the darling of all IDP leagues for the 2nd consecutive year but to be honest he has been a bit inconsistent this year.  Especially compared to last year.  That was the good news.  The even better news is he gets to face a Rams team that will offer up a very limited amount of tackle opportunities.

Overall, what I see is a team that is stacked with studly talent that will end up with one of their more mediocre performances for the year due to their matchups. 

Your lineup looks championship caliber…

  • Drew Brees gets to run up his yardage total against the lowly Lions.  Look for Brees to pass for 350+ yards with multiple TD’s
  • Thomas Jones and Pierre Thomas are both safely top 5 RBs this week, in my opinion.
  • Steve Smith, Antonio Bryant & Terrell Owens has to have your opponent very nervous and if he isn’t he should be.  I wouldn’t be shocked to see 20+ receptions for 300 yards with 4 TD’s from your WRs this week.
  • Dustin Keller started to turn it on as the season progressed but this week he will probably be a nominal start with the projected bad weather in Seattle.
  • Rob Bironas, in all fairness if I didn’t talk about his kicker I am not gonna talk about yours.
  • Dallas or Pittsburgh gives you two solid options.  However, I agree with you that Dallas is the play.  Plus that will let you watch your Steelers without any added pressure.
  • Stud LB, TBD.

Overall, I see a team that could post one of its highest scores of the year.  Keller is your weak link.  Note that I said weak link, as in singular and not plural.  Now let’s take a look at those stud LB’s.

Demarcus Ware vs Ravens
Ware is a viable starter in a league with scoring like yours but relying on sacks can still be a dicey situation.  One thing to consider is that Ware is just 4 sacks shy of breaking the NFL record for sacks in a season.  Yet, you shouldn’t look past the fact that the Ravens will look to protect their rookie QB and run the ball as much as possible.  I see either a very big day for Ware this week or a very bad day.  So, his risk/reward puts him in the “swing for the fences” neighborhood.

James Harrison @ Titans
Harrison is another LB like Ware in that he is a stud but without sacks his point totals will usually leave you feeling a bit flat.  Unfortunately, facing the Titans I think that the top LB for the Steelers is going to be James Farrior and Harrison looks to be a bit of a poorer play versus what should be a run heavy Titans game plan.   Or just like Ware, Harrison looks to be more of a “swing for the fences” type play and I would say he would still be a rung below the upside that Ware presents.

Barrett Ruud vs Chargers
Ruud has been a stud of studs in tackle heavy formats this year but in your scoring system his value does get depressed some.  Over the past month, MLBs are averaging just under 8 tackles/game versus the Chargers.  While I wouldn’t expect Ruud to have a huge game in your scoring system I do think he will post between 8-12 points making him a “play it safe” choice.

And the winner is…

While an argument truly can be made for any one of the three choices I think it is fairly obvious which LB should be in your starting lineup.  After taking A.I.M. what I see is a lineup that just needs a “play it safe” option to pair with all of your other studs that look to be in line for big weeks.  Couple that with the fact that your opponent looks to have some difficult matchups it is easy to say you should minimize your risk and just “play it safe” with Barrett Ruud!

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