Thursday, November 19, 2009

RotoProfessor's Fantasy Football Roundtable

Fantasy Football Roundtable
Hosted By RotoProfessor.Com  November 19, 2009

Here is the week 11 edition of RotoProfessor.Com's 'Fourth & 1 Debate' fantasy football roundtable featuring some of the best football writers on the net. Each week the participating sites will take turns posing a question.

This week's question:
'Thinking back to the players that you targeted in drafts at the beginning of the season, which 1 or 2 players have been the biggest disappointments? What kind of additional information do you think you could use to avoid selecting this type of underachieving player in 2010 ?'

Paul Greco of FantasyPros911.Com says:

There are definitely more than two players, but since I'm sticking with the format, the two players that have killed a few of my fantasy teams are Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton and San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Both players I selected in the first round, and both have under performed greatly.

Slaton was highly regarded as this Points-Per-Reception (PPR) machine prior to the season. Although his receiving numbers have been decent, at this point in the season, he doesn't start for my team. In nine games this season, Slaton has reached double-digit fantasy points only four times. What a waste of a first round pick.

The jury is still out on Tomlinson. Without a 100-yard game this season, Tomlinson is showing his running back age, 30. What's more frustrating though is the fact that he is not catching the ball out of the backfield. With only nine receptions on the season for 40 yards and no touchdowns, Tomlinson really is no better than a flex position, yes, even with the two touchdowns last week.

Ryan Lester of says:

A couple of players that I targeted in fantasy drafts this year were Calvin Johnson and Carolina's Steve Smith. Both Wide Receivers were coming off of big years and came with high expectations.

However, a closer look at both of their situations would have revealed some red flags. Calvin Johnson had little talent around him on offense to take away some of the pressure that he faces from week to week. He also had to rely on an unproven Rookie QB in Matthew Stafford or washed up Daunte Culpepper. When you consider that he was being drafted ahead of Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, Wes Welker, and Vincent Jackson it just makes you cringe.

There were warning signs for Steve Smith as well, that many chose to ignore. First of all he plays for a run-first offense. Plus, Carolina did not provide him a legitimate complimentary receiver. They don't have a solid #2 WR, slot receiver, or even a pass-catching Tight End. It's Smith and that's it. Finally, the way Jake Delhomme imploded in the playoffs, especially when the Panther didn't solidify their QB depth, should have been the last straw.

Next year, when I am investing an early pick on a Wide Receiver I am going to make sure he has a stable QB.

Kurt of says:

T.J. Houshmandzadeh was a huge bust this year averaging 5 catches per game, scoring in only two games and cracking 100 yards only twice; Houshmandzadeh has left my barrel dry. Lesson learned here? Lets take a gander at players that have moved to new teams and failed versus players that have moved to new teams and succeeded, from a fantasy football stand point.

Big Names that failed on new team:

Jay Cutler - sporadic and unreliable this year
Terrell Owens - umm not worth a roster spot, period
T.J. Houshmandzadeh - Matt isn't Carson
Matt Cassel - No Welker or Moss means no soup for you

Big Names that have succeeded on new team:

Cedric Benson - WOW nuff said
Tony Gonzalez - Not Kansas numbers but still Top 10 TE

The common denominator here is obvious, players don't improve teams, teams improve players. Bottom line don't draft a stud high when he moves to a struggling offense; odds are it won't pan out for you. Teams make the player, keep this in mind in next years draft.

Smitty of FantasyFootballXtreme.Com says:

Brian Westbrook is my number one regret looking back at August of 2009. That said, I did label LeSean McCoy as the number one must-have handcuff entering August drafts, but the real plan of attack would have been to use a second-round pick on a player other than Westbrook, while still drafting McCoy in the later rounds. In some cases we did draft like this, as we didn't always take Westbrook in all leagues, but we almost certainly landed McCoy in later rounds when the price is right. Still, we backed Westbrook in August and he failed us.

Avoiding underachievers is a tough gig, as you're always going to have disappointments year in and year out... but one thing fantasy owners can do to avoid such disappointments is to avoid athletes that are prone to injury. Avoiding 30+ year old runners is also advised. Yes, on rare occasion you're going to miss out on the successful 30+ rushers, like Thomas Jones and Curtis Martin, but more often than not, you're going to save your fantasy season. Play it safe with your first- and second-round picks, it's well worth it when it is all said and done.

Bryce McRae of KFFL.Com says:

The biggest disappointment this year must be the San Diego Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson. The other disappointment: the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson.

Outside of medical reports, psychological tests, game plans, etc., I'm not sure there is a ton of information we'd use for 2010 that we didn't already have. With each of our projections, we take into account the news, surrounding offense, player's talent, past production, etc.

One thing I've learned to weigh even more for next year: Putting stock into the offense and coaching staff on the player's team. For Johnson, the Lions were starting a rookie QB, yes, but we figured if Johnson can put up great numbers with a multitude of poor quarterbacks in 2008, he could do the same with a strong-armed rook in 2009. This wasn't the case as Stafford has struggled with his accuracy and getting on the same page as Megatron.

I avoided him largely in drafts, mainly because of strategy, but he was ranked higher than he should have been. You can't plan for injuries, but the offensive line in San Diego hasn't been right all year even before Nick Hardwick was injured. Taking that into account, plus the way Philip Rivers showed command of the offense last year, meant LT shouldn't have been ranked as high as he was. Also, we weren't able to factor in that Norv Turner would be so quick to abandon the run. Picking the right fantasy players is a combination of finding all the news and information you can and analyzing that (along with a little luck). The latter is the biggest area to improve; anyone can find the information.

Jacob of FantasyFootballFools.Com says:

The biggest two disappointments in my book are Matt Forte and Calvin Johnson. Both were drafted in among the top-three at their position, and both have been miserable for most of the season.

In Forte's case, there was good reason to believe his role in the offense might be threatened. Chicago traded for Jay Cutler, bringing an arm to Chicago and taking away Kyle Orton's compulsive checkdown passes. But that alone was not enough to scare off fantasy owners.

The decline of the Chicago defense, an unexpected factor this season, has also hurt Forte's value. When the Bears get behind, they have put the game in Cutler's hands and reduced Forte's chances. Forte's turned it around in recent weeks, but the damage has, for the most part, already been done to the owners who drafted him and their fantasy hopes.

Calvin Johnson was regarded as "quarterback-proof" coming into this season. No matter who was throwing the ball, he would get his yards and probably a score. He still ranked as one of the elite wide receivers in fantasy despite news that a rookie quarterback, Matthew Stafford would start for the Lions. With no legitimate threat on the other side of the field, defenses tried to take Megatron out of games, and a few times early in the season, they were successful. Even if you're quarterback-proof, you can't be "team-proof," and the Lions were doing him no favors.

A knee injury prevented Johnson from seeing the field for several weeks. Now that he's back to full health, he is contributing, but with only one touchdown and one 100+ yard game this season, it's safe to say owners were hoping to get more out of him by this point in the season.

What info could prevent us from making these same drafting mistakes in the future? We must pay close attention to change in the offseason, and give special attention to teams with new quarterbacks. The quarterback runs the offense, and changes at that position can often mean big swings in fantasy. In their first year with a new team, quarterbacks must spend time learning the playbook and finding their rhythm with the receivers and running back. There are many variables in play there, and it creates risks in fantasy.

In Chicago's case, Cutler brought that "gunslinger" mentality and a powerful arm to Chicago, which has allowed the passing game to be more of a focus on offense. He didn't avoid using Forte, but Cutler had to understand how and when he could use Forte, which led to Forte's slow start.

A rookie quarterback always has a big learning curve in coming to the NFL, and Matthew Stafford was no different. Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco's exceptional rookie seasons may have warmed fantasy football players up to the idea of starting rookies, but the Lions were not nearly as complete a team as the Falcons and Ravens were last season. Stafford's rookie struggles have held Calvin Johnson back, and an unexpected knee injury did the rest.

It's unfortunate that new quarterbacks impact a team so much. Avoiding them as a rule can prevent you from finding some real value in your fantasy football draft (see: Vikings receivers like Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin), but taking a risk on teams with new signal callers can also cost you big, as we saw this year with Forte and Megatron.

The secret is to do your homework on them.

Hatty of HattyWaiverWireguru.Com says:

I targeted Anthony Gonzalez in as many leagues as I could, because I was certain he was going to be a stud opposite Reggie Wayne. The truth is that he would have been a beast and everyone would have been jealous of my pick, but got hurt. What's the moral of the story and what can I do different? NOTHING, players get hurt, the best fantasy football owners are the ones that plan for injuries. I drafted Derrick Mason, Sidney Rice, Miles Austin, and Torry Holt in the later rounds of the draft and I would say I ended up pretty good. You have to plan for injuries and do your research on later round fliers that have huge upside. Many people were down on Mason and I grabbed him late; I also got Rice and Austin in the last rounds, they have paid off in a major way.

Moral of the story is be prepared for injuries, no matter how well you draft you have to expect one of your better picks will be out for most of the season.

Jake of Junkyardjake.Com says:

Oh boy, have I been burned by more than my share of players this year. In one category, there are the players that went late in drafts, but turned out not to be worth the gamble. For example receivers like Chris Chambers and Kevin Curtis. These guys could be picked up late in drafts, but lingering injury problems, and advanced age have rendered them essentially useless. In the runningback department, Willis McGahee and Laurence Maroney looked like decent bounceback candidates, but the value of both these guys has been diminished by better players on their respective teams.

More to the point, I think two players who I was really fond of, and who went high enough in fantasy drafts to cause collective damage to many fantasy teams are Eddie Royal and LenDale White. The good news, is that both these guys offer possible lessons for to help refine your draft strategy next year.

Eddie Royal

In the case of Eddie Royal, his outstanding 91 catch 980 yard 5 TD rookie season dictated that you would need to spend at least a 5th or 6th round draft pick on him. Fair enough, seemed reasonable for the precocious and potentially explosive offensive weapon that Royal represents. Wrong ! I'm not sure there has been a bigger fantasy disaster than Royal in 2009. While he has clearly demonstrated his physical skills during his short career, other factors needed to be considered.

QB Changes Of course, it was fairly obvious that Kyle Orton was a downgrade from Jay Cutler, and this has no doubt affected Royal this year.

Coaching Changes I believe the other less obvious lesson that might be inferred from the Royal situation, is the need to assess the possible impact that coaching changes can have on a player. While Mike Shanahan deployed Royal as a featured receiver in his run-heavy West Coast offense, new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels has used his receivers in a way that attempts to exploit the defensive team he is playing. Seemingly, this has often meant that Eddie Royal has been sent on deep routes, or treated as interchangable with less talented receivers like Jabar Gaffney.

LenDale White

LenDale White has been another player whose performance has not come anywhere near his preseason draft value. It was probably more difficult to see this disaster coming, as White entered 2009 with two productive seasons under his belt. In 2007 White had 1,110 yards and 7 TDs, and then after Chris Johnson joined the team in 2008, he produced 773 yards and 15 TDs. Moreover, he was reportedly in the best shape of his young career, and the team and coaching situation for the Titans had remained largely intact from 2008. So what went wrong?

Consider RB Platoons and Team Defense Well, in this case, it seems that underestimating the superior skills of Chris Johnson was a mistake, and a more subtle change for the Titans seemed to be the deterioration of their defense. Perhaps a lesson here, is that if you wish to invest a draft pick in a runningback who is largely designated as a short yardage and goal line specialist, it is important to assess the quality of both the offensive and defensive squad. For a team with a weak offense and defense, like the Titans this year, there will be less goalline chances, and more extensive use of a back like Chris Johnson, who is far more effective on passing downs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fantasy Football Sleepers/Creepers - 11/17

Fantasy Football Sleepers/Creepers
Our thoughts on some possible undervalued and overvalued players...

Updated November 17, 2009  JunkyardJake.Com

Calvin Johnson ,WR

- Even a talented crime-fighter like Calvin 'Mega-Tron' Johnson needs a little help from his super friends now and again. Not to make excuses for his discouraging fantasy performance this season, but the Detroit Lions have no offensive line to speak of, no legitimate #2 receiving threat, and Matthew Stafford is no Aquaman. In fact, noone expected Stafford to have a Dan Marino rookie campaign, but he has played more like a crabby and injury-prone Wonder Woman so far. That said, when healthy, few receivers possess the physical ability to dominate mortal cornerbacks like Calvin Johnson. Stafford can remain his inconsistent self for now, because all he really needs to do is throw in the general vicinity of Johnson and positive results are bound to happen.

Ricky Williams ,RB

- At 32 years old, and with a seemingly much more compelling player ahead of him on the depth chart, Ricky Williams really had no business representing a viable fantasy option this year. The results have obviously suggested otherwise however, as Williams is averaging 72 yards per game, with 8 total TDs so far. It gets even better, because with Ronnie Brown very likely out this week, the veteran is inline for more extensive action against the questionable Carolina run defense. Maybe those couple years he spent at Cannabis University served him well, but whatever the reason, even if Brown returns this season, Williams should continue to serve as at least a solid flex/#3 option.

Anquan Boldin ,WR

- Owning Anquan Boldin in fantasy leagues this year has been somewhat analogous to owning the Sears FlapDoodle-5000 lawn tractor. For anyone unfamiliar with this particular model of lawn tractor, it is a fictitious machine made up specifically for this comparison that never starts when you need it, and sets you back about $500 a year in repairs. Don't despair though, because Boldin demonstrated last week with his 8 catch, 105 yard performance that he could be past his nagging knee problems. What makes Boldin even more intriguing, is the Cardinals schedule down the stretch this year. From now through week 16, Arizona faces St. Louis twice, Tennessee, Detroit, San Francisco with a marginally tough home game against Minnesota just to keep it somewhat fair.

LeSean McCoy/Leonard Weaver ,RB

- With everyone insisting on clobbering Brian Westbrook in the noggin lately, the veteran runningback is now in peril of missing multiple games after suffering his second concussion in the last month. The Eagles still have some strange aversion to running the ball this year, and rookie LeSean McCoy needs to refine his skills as a pass-blocker, but he's proven to be a decent #2 fantasy RB when given the chance. As a receiver, the Eagles don't lose much with McCoy filling in for Westbrook, and he is probably just as effective at the goalline. If you are really reaching for runningback help, Leonard Weaver is a decent guy to consider too, as he is expected to share time with McCoy while Westbrook is out.

Justin Forsett ,RB

- There is nothing positive about an injury to any player, but if we have to grasp for any good news related to the injury to Julius Jones, it might be that the Seahawks have possibly upgraded their running game by default. Forsett is a bit lacking in the size department, but at 5-8, 195, he is comparable in stature to Ray Rice. Moreover, his instinctive running, vision and acceleration have drawn comparisons to Maurice Jones-Drew. Forsett has a tough matchup versus Minnesota this week, but has the Rams in week 12 and is worth picking up for immediate RB help.

Dwayne Bowe ,WR

- If Dwayne Bowe was taking performance enhancing drugs this season, we hope he saved the receipt because it hasn't seemed to help him or the Kansas City offense whatsoever. In any event, Bowe has earned himself a four-game suspension, which knocks him out until week 15. Obviously Bowe is not going to be much help to you the next month while he is in the studio working on his new hip-hop single with Dr. Androgenic. As such, if your team is on the fringe of making the fantasy playoffs, it could make sense to deal Bowe away to the 8-2 team in your league for immediate receiver alternatives.

Tony Romo ,QB

- It's always been a challenge to forecast which Tony Romo will show up each week, but at least he's narrowed it down this season. It seems that the 2009 Romo will either be the guy who throws 3 picks, and needs to be escorted from the stadium under heavy security to avoid being pelted with bottles, or the QB who makes Miles Austin look like Michael Irvin. Of course, this is just a completely unfair exaggeration, because Romo is obviously a pretty good fantasy QB. However, here are a couple of things to consider as we head into the final weeks of the season. First off, the Dallas Cowboys schedule against the pass is fairly unfriendly down the stretch. Here is their schedule from weeks 11 thru 16 - Washington, Oakland, @NY Giants, San Diego, @New Orleans, @Washington. Secondly, ever since becoming a starter in 2006, Romo has yet to have a good December. Over his career, he has a 19 INT to 14 TD ratio, and a QB rating of 72 in the final month of the season.

Laurence Maroney ,RB

- It's probably worth hanging onto Laurence Maroney through the end of the season, just remember to set your expectations sufficiently low enough to avoid the bagholders remorse that will likely occur. Maroney hasn't been terrible, but that's about as complimentary as you can get with this guy. If nothing else, he's been consistent with his typical pattern of an occasional great game, and then right back into the witness protection program he goes. Maroney's numbers could take an additional hit if Sammy Morris makes it back this week, and also consider that the Patriots are facing some pretty good defenses over the next three weeks, with the Jets at home up next, and then away games versus New Orleans and Miami.

Ryan Fitzpatrick/Trent Edwards ,QB

- It looks like Bills coach Dick Jauron was just fired today, but was he really going to start Ryan Fitzpatrick again? It would surely make sense to bench Trent Edwards if the Bills had anything that could be confused with a potentially better option, but what in the world has Ryan Fitzpatrick done to suggest he is that better option ? In the battle of the former Ivy league QBs who are probably better suited as government lobbyists or aerospace engineers, Harvard's Ryan Fitzpatrick has a 49 QB rating and has completed 49 percent of his passes this season, while Stanford's Trent Edwards has a 78 QB rating and has completed 61% of his passes. Applying simply mathematics to this situation, it's easy to conclude that Trent Edwards is partly awful with a chance of occasional offense, while Ryan Fitzpatrick does little more than keep the punter busy. Either way, this is a situation to keep away from.

Larry Johnson ,RB

- It's nice to see Larry Johnson escape from the Kansas City Chiefs so he can possibly finish out his career with a playoff contending team that engages in something resembling marginally effective offensive football. Of course the problem still remains that Johnson is missing a few steps from the front porch on his old house, and is in jeopardy of getting shutdown by the building inspector. For now, Johnson looks to be around #4 on the Bengals depth chart behind Benson, Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard, so he is probably not worth picking up unless he is your Twitter buddy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Special Waiver Wire Alert on NY Jets TE Dustin Keller

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fantasy Football Sleepers/Creepers - 11/4

Fantasy Football Sleepers/Creepers
Our thoughts on some possible undervalued and overvalued players...

Updated November 4, 2009  JunkyardJake.Com

Malcolm Floyd ,WR

- Well apparently the Chargers had enough of watching Chris Chambers get in the way of their other receivers who have a chance of catching the ball. They summarily granted the 31 year old receiver his release on Monday, leaving career backup Malcolm Floyd to vie for the residual passes that don't go in Vincent Jackson's or Antonio Gate's direction. At 6-5 and 225 lbs, Floyd is a huge target, and has decent speed to boot, so it wouldn't be surprising if he does well as a starter. Keep in mind however that the Charger's passing offense is still largely controlled by a Phillips/Jackson/Gates oligarchy, so Floyd's value will likely be limited to a speculative play going forward.

Dustin Keller ,TE

- Dustin Keller finally broke out of his slumber against Miami to deliver the respectable fantasy output he is capable of. Unfortunately, many fantasy managers probably either dropped him or watched Keller help their bench players outscore their selected week 8 lineup. It's difficult to say if Keller will be trustworthy going forward, but note that he led the team in targets with 13 in week 8. Also consider that Keller was the preferred target over Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards in the redzone, where he was targetred three times this past week.

Jamaal Charles/Kolby Smith ,RB

- The Kansas City Chiefs offense no doubt spent the bye figuring out different ways that they could represent an abject embarrassment to professional sports. Of course, we won't see the details of this plan in action until Sunday, but what we do know for certain is that the scoreboard operator will not be deprived of his typical naptime and Larry Johnson will be suspended for at least one game. Jamaal Charles should be the primary beneficiary of the Johnson suspension, but don't count out Kolby Smith, who returns from injured reserve this week. Whatever the ultimate RB mix this week, the Chiefs get a decent matchup versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, so either guy is worth flex consideration.

Zach Miller ,TE

- Zach miller is kind of like the conscientious GM assembly line worker helping to churn out Chevy Aveo's for a bankrupt and languishing organization. Of course, the sad thing about this analogy, is that comparing the Oakland Raider offense to a Chevy Aveo may actually be too generous. For now, Miller remains the only member of the Raider offense who is arguably worth consideration as a fantasy starter, and you can't help to wonder what Miller could actually accomplish on a functional offensive team with a competent quarterback.

Mike Thomas ,WR

- Mike Thomas is an interesting rookie receiver who has quietly been assuming a more significant role over the past two games for the Jaguars, where he has accumulated over 50 yards in each game. Against the Titans this past week, he actually had more pass targets (7) than Mike Sims-Walker (3). He is almost certainly still available on your waiver wire, because at a dimutive 5-8 (5-9 with his fancy shoes), he is a little bit difficult to locate. If you need depth at receiver though, he's not a bad guy to consider, especially in leagues that award points for return yardage.

Josh Freeman/Antonio Bryant ,QB/WR

- To any saavy fantasy player, this will not occur to be a revolutionary thought, but it needs to said anyway - It seems very unlikely that a midseason transtion to rookie QB Josh Freeman is going to help reverse the fortunes of the team's dreadful passing offense. Freeman does have a rocket arm, but will need to improve his accuracy to make an impression in the pros. Moreover, he is considered quite raw, even compared to the typical rookie QB. Really, the only way that the Buccaneers could have sent a clearer signal that they were conceding the remainder of the 2009 season, is if they replaced the pennant on the Raymond James Stadium pirate ship with a white flag exhibiting a new team symbol of Droopy Dog holding a bottle of Prozac.

Steve Slaton ,RB

- Given that Steve Slaton was abruptly pulled after serving up his 3rd turnover in three weeks, it's probably safe to conclude that Houston head coach Gary Kubiak has a low tolerance for chronically fumbling runningbacks. At least Slaton got his day over early, because his fumble and immediate benching occurred on his very first carry of the game. Maybe we should have seen this coming, as Kubiak still makes his youngest son do 75 pushups and a couple laps if he drops a cookie on the kitchen floor.

Donnie Avery ,WR

- Donnie 'Peanut Brittle' Avery had his big chance to do something significant against the Lions in week 8, and as we should have expected, he blew it. At least the fragile 2nd year receiver seemed to emerge from the Rams latest passing offensive debacle without hurting himself again. Unfortuately, fantasy teams who chose to start Avery had no such luck, as they absorbed the usual damage that results from starting any receiver associated with the Rams.

Mohamed Massaquoi ,WR

- How long is Browns head coach Eric Mangini going to stick with his awful decision to start Derek Anderson ? Maybe he is waiting for Titans owner Bud Adams to give him a call and tell him to switch back to Brady Quinn ? That seemed to work, at least temporarily, in the Vince Young situation. Please Bud Adams do Cleveland Browns fans a favor and give Mangini some much needed QB advice so Derek Anderson can pack up his 36.2 QB rating and head back into hibernation.

Julius Jones ,RB

- Julius Jones started off the season on a very optimistic note, with 119 yards and a TD in week one. However, considering Jone's undistinguished performance over the past couple years, we should have suspected that this one week explosion was just a cruel hoax. Sure enough, as the 2009 season has progressed, Julius Jones is drifting deeper into the Seattle fog. He's now reached the point where he is now almost exactly on pace to match his unmemorable 2008 season, when he finished with 698 yards, and a paltry 2 TDs. Seattle plays Detroit this week, so if by some miracle Jones has a significant game it would be a great opportunity to dump him in a trade of some kind.