When this here online writing space began in its new form back in August, I used poetic, friendly words to say that the root of the fantasy football addiction is the need to explore questions which have no definitive answer. I still believe there’s a lot of truth to that, although I was partly covering my hind region for the day when my predictions and prognostications would be woefully wrong.
So now let’s explore together, sort of like the Reading Rainbow, just with less dragons and pirates and cosmic star stuff. Sorry about that.
This week we started to take your fantasy questions through The Score’s Twitter account. The process is simple, and it’s the first time anyone has ever tried something like it on the Internet. Every week we’ll collect questions through Twitter starting on Tuesday, and then Thursday afternoon we’ll take the best handful, and use them to sort out our problems together.
Consider it therapy, only it’s free, and you don’t have to lie down. I guess you can if you want, but that’s sort of weird.
Onwards then, with five intriguing queries from the first batch.
Ahh the age-old question of subversive weaseling. Don’t pretend you haven’t done this, or at least seriously thought about it. You can’t be obvious about tanking, because there’s nothing worse than really angry people on the Internet, especially when you know said people or are related to them. I wouldn’t advise ever benching Tom Brady in Week 13 for Blaine Gabbert, but some less outlandish move is fair game for those hoping to creep up the draft board next August.
But Taylor, your specific case is difficult, and is a clear reflection of the parity in your league. There’s nothing more maddening than outscoring your opponents overall, but consistently facing the guy who fielded the Ogletree of the week. That’s a dark, lonely place we’ve all visited too, but right now there’s no way you can possibly consider taking your foot off the virtual accelerator.
You have a shot at the playoffs, and therefore you also presumably have a shot at free money. We’ve now set to begin Week 9 tonight, and there are no doubt many owners in a similar position to Taylor’s: you’re managing a team that’s producing heavily in the points column, but due to simple bad luck is lacking in the other two columns where it matters. But sustained scoring production for this long — over half the season — leads to far better odds that those ahead of you will regress, and you’ll remain steady.
I understand and feel your pain as a Newton owner. It burns, and it burns deep. Unfortunately, at this point trading Newton could be exceedingly difficult in re-draft league, and perhaps even more difficult in keeper leagues given the lingering doubts about his accuracy and footwork.
More importantly for your roster, though, is depth. Maybe you lucked out, Aaron, and had someone like Robert Griffin III fall in your lap back in August when his stock was lower, and you can bring him off your bench. If that’s the case, trade Newton away for several used Kleenexes, and call it a day.
But that’s highly unlikely, and it’s far more likely that you spent a late second-round pick on Newton — or at best an early third rounder — and then since you were feeling pretty good at the time about the elite starter you just grabbed, you waited a while to draft another quarterback.
That sets up what I fear is the scenario facing many Newton owners who are contemplating a trade, a hurdle that’s often greater than Newton’s simple lack of trade value. Despite how painful it is to watch, Newton actually hasn’t been that horrid as a fantasy option, averaging 15.6 points per week with 109 overall. That’s not elite; that’s average, but the lower tier likely backup options that Newton owners have on their bench who had a 10th round ADP or later like Matt Schaub (95 points), Jay Cutler (81 points), and Josh Freeman (115), are either worse, or only marginally better.
For now, you’re stuck, so ride it out and cross all body parts capable of such an action.
First of all, Boomer, please be aware that others may be offended by your use of God in your avatar.
Michael Vick is only slightly below Newton on the fantasy headhunting list this year. I can only imagine how horrible it is for Vick to suck so badly in front of fans who vandalize the media’s vehicles, but then also hear about how he’s tarnished the good name of some bro’s team called “Asante Samuel’s Thickness” as he trots off the field in shame.
Your matchup decision is a tough one, but as much as I’m loving the sudden resurgence of Josh Freeman with his nine touchdowns and 1,010 passing yards over his three games since the Bucs’ Week 5 bye, don’t give up on Vick yet. Or at least not until next week. Then go ahead.
You’re surely aware of these numbers, but let’s recite them anyway: the Saints are allowing 304.6 passing yards per game, and they’re given up 15 passing touchdowns. That’s only the passing game, but Vick enjoys running, and New Orleans is allowing 170.1 rushing yards per game, which is bad enough for 31st, and it’s 28 yards worse than the next team. Oh, and the Saints faced the similarly mobile and strong-armed Newton and Griffin over the first two weeks of the season, and they had a combined 50 fantasy points.
That’s quite the snag owning both Witten and Gates. Might I suggest trading one of them to address, well, any other area of need.
If I’m faced with this delightful problem, though, I’d lean towards Gates, simply because tonight he’ll be opposed by a defense that could be dominated by a team of wet socks. The Chiefs are allowing 29.9 points per game, but tonight’s game likely won’t turn into the Ryan Mathews clock killing show, because despite the fact that the Chiefs are the Chiefs, the Chargers will entertain us — and you, the Gates owner — by doing something stupid, and doing it repeatedly to keep the game close.
Last year despite Philip Rivers passing for 635 yards in his two games against the Chiefs (a pace of eight yards per attempt) the Chargers still lost one of the games because their quarterback can’t execute a kneel down properly, while the other was won by only three points.
As our in-house degenerate Rob Pizzola noted earlier today, tonight’s game could stay close, and since Gates is the only truly reliable receiving option for Rivers, he’ll be targeted often against a defense that’s allowed opposing quarterbacks to be especially effective, as the Chiefs are one of just four teams to allow a passer rating of over 100.0.
Trigger fingers are understandable itchy here too, but be kind to Calvin, Nasty Nate.
Megatron’s touchdowns are down significantly (just one this year, and he had 11 through eight weeks last year), which is the primary reason for his zapped production, although lately he’s just struggled to find space in general, with only 80 receiving yards over his last two games. But a lingering knee injury has been a problem, with Johnson admitting that cutting has been difficult recently. That’s partly why he’s been roasted by two elite cornerbacks (Chicago’s Charles Tillman and Seattle’s Richard Sherman), but the primary factor has been Matthew Stafford’s awfulness.
Stafford, though, is beginning to turn it around, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and finishing with a passer rating of 101.7 this past Sunday against the Seahawks’ fifth overall defense. And while he was dominated by Tillman and Sherman, consider what a healthy Johnson can do for you. A wise man once said that time heals wounds, and earlier this year Johnson posted 94 yards on the 49ers — the league’s second best pass defense — and 111 yards on St. Louis and Cortland Finnegan/Janoris Jenkins.