Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Three Fantasy Football Thoughts

It's been over two weeks since I last posted, but with the start of school happening I've been caught up getting used to the new school year.  Anyway I figured I'd make a list of 3 things I have noticed so far this year in fantasy football. Some of my observations are more in depth (e.g. number 2)  while some are more quick (e.g. number 1).  It's totally random.

Three Observations
Fantasy owners don't find this funny
1. Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, and Jamaal Charles
Through two weeks CJ0K, DMC, and J-Mail (I so dearly love bad nicknames) have combined for 29 fantasy points.  That's six "weeks" of fantasy action from three consensus top ten running backs.  That's  an average of 4.8 points per game for these three.  If you project that over a sixteen game season this player would end with 77 fantasy points.  Trent Richardson has averaged 14 fantasy points per game over two weeks, and is the #10 fantasy running back.  Over 16 games Richardson would score 224 fantasy points, giving the fake running back a massive VADP of -147.  Whew that's brutal.  If you own them I'd be worried, Charles not so much because it seems he might've gotten injured in his most recent game.  All three are good "buy-low" candidates, but only if you can get them for pretty darn low.  Right now they are all #2 running back starters, but I wouldn't feel confident starting any of them.

2. Wide Receiver is a Mess
Jumping into the top ten
Only nine wide receivers scored 10 points or more in both week 1 and 2.  Only three scored 12 or more in both week 1 and 2.  None scored 15 or more in both week 1 or 2.  As a fantasy owner this frightens me.  As a fantasy owner I want to own one of those nine, and especially one of those three.  The nine are Demaryius Thomas, Reggie Wayne, Miles Austin, Brandon LaFell, Malcolm Floyd, Steve Johnson, Brandon Gibson, Steve Smith, and Percy Harvin.  Not one of those players was ranked as a top ten fantasy player in ESPN's standard wide receiver rankings.  The three are Demaryius, Wayne, and Austin.  Of those three none am I comfortable saying are going to be top 10 receivers this year (though I think Wayne and Demaryius have a pretty good chance).  Fantasy points are a good indicator of a wide receivers ongoing value, but targets and yards I find much more interesting.  In terms of yards, the only players to accumulate over 75 yards both weeks are Steve Smith, Calvin Johnson, Desean Jackson, Roddy White, Percy Harvin, and Demaryius Thomas.  Those six are another six who I feel comfortable starting, and considering high end fantasy performers.  Lastly the group of players who have gotten at least seven targets in both games is slightly larger, but still important.  This list contains Danny Amendola, Victor Cruz, Percy Harvin, Brandon Lloyd, Vincent Jackson, Roddy White, Brian Hartline, Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green, Donnie Avery, Santonio Holmes, Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, Denarius Moore, Eric Decker, Mohammed Massaquoi, Michael Crabtree, and Julio Jones.

Do the John Wall...
If you combine a players targets per game, fantasy points per game, and yards per game divided by eight (you divide the players yards per game by 8 in order to balance that number with the rest), and you average the total you get a metric I made up myself called estimated fantasy value (EFV).  Using only players in one of the first two groups above (group three players can have skewed totals if they had one big game, and then another poor game where all they got were the targets) I came up with a list of top wide receivers based on their performance so far, and how it should translate to the future.  1. Reggie Wayne - 12.7  2. Demaryius Thomas - 11.92  3. Roddy White 10.94  4. Percy Harvin 10.92  5. Calvin Johnson - 10.77  6. Steve Smith - 10.21  These six are the top half of the 12 players who I "graded," and these were the only six to post scores higher than ten.  Many of the players who I did not grade would have posted scores higher than ten, and Danny Amendola in fact would register a score of 13.31.  This however is largely skewed by one game, and Amendola is a great example because his first game would have only been an 8.25.  To be an elite #1 wide receiver in fantasy football you need to show fantasy owners that you can consistently produce at a high level, even when you don't get the touchdowns that are so important.  By the end of the season there probably will be 5-10 players who fall into that category.  Of the group above Roddy White and Calvin Johnson were considered locks for that group pre-season, and based on their performance so far I think they will end up that way.  The remaining four contains to aging players in Steve Smith and Reggie Wayne, and two up and comers in Percy Harvin and Demaryius Thomas.  I think Thomas and Harvin have better odds of keeping up their impressive pace, and Smith and Wayne will more likely finish in the 10-15 range.

3.  TE is Crazy Deep
The tight ends are coming!
Much of the Fantasy discussion coming into this year was about how crazy deep wide receiver is.  Wide Receiver does have a lot of talent, but it's unpredictable.  In the last section I tried to highlight some wide receivers who are definite starters right now.  Even with all my work, I only came up with six names by the end (and frankly I'm not too sure about Steve Smith).  For those who like the mellow side of life.  For those who are better safe than sorry.  For those who tend to err on the side of caution.  I present to you the tight end.  I do not deny that Wide Receivers have tons more upside than tight ends, and you'll find way more wide receivers scoring fifteen plus points than tight ends.  However in the 7-15 point range no one is as sweet as the tight end.  Despite the fact that their are nearly triple as many wide receivers who could be considered relevant in fantasy, there are just as many consistent tight ends as wide receivers.  A wide receiver who gives you ten points or more will generally be a top 15 wide receiver in a given week.  A tight end who gives you seven points or more will generally be a top 12 tight end in a given week.  Nine wide receivers had back to back games of over ten points, and eight tight ends had back to back games of over seven points.  If you are the type of fantasy owner who likes to play it safe, or you are strong at running back and quarterback I strongly recommend trying to acquire a high end tight end.  With a good fantasy team having balanced production from the tight end slot versus having volatile production at wide receiver can be the difference between a Championship and missing the playoffs.  In fact the new ESPN standard rules this year allows teams to play TE's at the flex, so if you really wanted to play it safe you could get a second starter level TE  (I'd say there's about 11 of them) to play at the flex position.  If you have a good roster in which your flex position is already strong I don't think this is a great strategy, but if your team is in need of some stability going after a TE might not be too bad an idea.

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