Archive for the ‘Trend spotting’ Category


Warning: I’m about to overreact to two preseason games. Feel yourself lose control, and join me.

Although it’s often skewed and misleading, the portion of the each preseason game that matters for fake football is the one where both the first team offenses and defenses are on the field. In Week 1, that was often only a series or two, and then in Week 2 it was the first quarter, and usually at least one series into the second quarter. Now as Week 3 begins tomorrow, we’ll see the starters play well into the third quarter, with backups sometimes seeing the field for just the fourth.

So far then, our sample size to measure anything of meaning in the preseason is inherently small. But in two instances with two tight ends who are being leaned on to deliver varying degrees of value (one a quality late-rounder, and the other a high ceiling sleeper), an alarming early trend has emerged, especially with both learning new offenses.

Namely, they haven’t even had a chance to make a play yet, and they’ve rarely been targeted. Ruh roh?

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rodgers smiling2

Damn you and your irresistible smile, Aaron Rodgers.

With all due apologies to Santa and the residents on the Island of Misfit toys, right now it is in many ways the most wonderful time of the year. The sun is getting sunnier, which means beaches get beachier, and patio lanterns are more than just the hook for a bad song. And the sooner we can get summer over with and dispense with the brews and holiday time and such, we can return to football, and drafting fake teams.

Oh, it’s coming after one more stretch of darkness. With minicamps running this week for most teams and therefore ending this week, the NFL will soon begin its six weeks of darkness prior to training camp. And when that darkness descends, fantasy drafting season begins.

So welcome one and all to a post (likely a weekly post, or maybe twice weekly…who said anything about planning around here?) in which we’ll look back on the trends and tendencies of last year and see if we can learn something together in hindsight. To start, let’s emphasis the importance of a simple approach, and one that had become common until the explosion of passing numbers in recent years.

Draft a running back early, and then draft another running back early.

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During the 2012 season the Buffalo Bills backfield was an odd, nonsensical place. An offense that often struggled to score points — a crucial element in the fight to win football games — refused to put the ball in the hands of its best player much more regularly. That players’ name is C.J. Spiller, and his 6.0 yards per carry placed him in a tie for the league lead with Adrian Peterson. Yeah, he was pretty alright.

At first his opportunities came when Fred Jackson combusted early again, which led to Spiller’s incredible 364 all-purpose yards (292 of which came on the ground) and three touchdowns over just the first two games. Then something maddening happened: when Jackson returned he often remained a sidekick. Robin to his Batman, Luigi to his Mario, etc etc.

That ends now.

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Adrian Peterson is not a man. He’s a man-beast, or a beastly man, or a man-like beast. He can save cats from trees just by speaking cat, and he can carry a piano from a burning building. He is everything to everyone.

But he’s also a little depressing to think about from a fantasy perspective, unless of course you own him, in which case you’re happier than a slinky on an escalator. Why? Well, because of all the draft misses, this one burns the deepest, and the longest.

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When Andrew Luck throws, the result is often a perfectly-placed spiral, a sight we saw often last night during the latest Colts uprising, and the latest reminder that the Jacksonville Jaguars are clinging to their status as a professional football team.

The spirals and passing proficiency were expected, as is the case with any first-overall pick at the quarterback position. The running and scoring wasn’t, or at least not to this extent.

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Let’s have a little bit more fun with snap counts, this time with a player who at first seems insignificant, but you quickly realize his potential importance to a lot of owners in a lot of leagues after a glance ahead to the upcoming Week 9 byes.

Thy name is Jared Cook, the Titans tight end who’s been a breakout candidate for like nine years. Cook was widely drafted as a secondary tight end this year, with an ADP of 145th overall in leagues. That’s the kind of draft territory in which you’re clicking, and hoping for something. Anything really, with the minimal draft investment made in Cook’s upside and potential leading to equally minimal concern if that investment fails miserably. Essentially, I just wasted the preceding sentence explaining the basic definition of a flier pick.

So that’s Cook. High on upside, low on trust, and actually high on consistency. The problem is that he’s been consistently average, pacing along at a clip of 46.6 receiving yards per week. And really, that’s fine, right? You’re cool with having average from your TE2 as long as he still provides bust out potential when you’re forced to plug him in due to a bye or injury. Cook does that, or at least he did.

Judging by yesterday’s usage, his upside could be fading quickly.

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Doug Martin has received all of the praise for all of his running and pass catching and tackle dodging last night. He deserves your words and admiration, because his 214 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns — which included a 64-yard score on a screen pass when he showcased impressive breakaway speed — did more than just collect 32 fantasy points for his owners.

What’s even more important is that if there was still any lingering doubt about who was the lead RB in Tampa’s backfield between the rookie first-round pick and LeGarrette Blount, it was violently crushed Thursday night. So keep sporadically thrusting your fist high into the air, Martin owners, and don’t inform your co-workers about the motivation behind your spontaneous action.

But I’m more interested in the continued uprising of a Bucs wide receiver who isn’t named Vincent Jackson.

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