Fantasy football is probably the simplest of all the fantasy sports. In baseball, you have pitching and hitting categories. Anything from a hit by pitch to a single to a stolen base to a hold to WHIP and dozens of other things contribute or affect your score. In basketball it’s rebounds, points, foul shot percentage, steals, etc. In hockey, goals, assists, plus minus and a crapload of goalie stats. Football, it gives us yards gained, touchdowns, and field goals. And of course, the 7 or 8 points you’re hoping to squeeze out of your defense if you weren’t the guy that went way early on Seattle or San Francisco.
What this essentially means is that you have fewer players that will actually contribute to your score. Whereas in baseball, hockey and basketball, every player in the game is a potential fantasy contributor in some way or another. With football, you have a significant number of the players on the field at a given time who will have no direct impact on your team’s point total at the end of the week. There’s also only one game a week, making what a player on your team does during that game all the more critical. In baseball, if your stud first baseman has an off game and goes 0-4, he has five or six more to more than make up for it with a couple of bombs and bathtub full of RBIs. Sidney Crosby might not have picked up any points for you on, say, Monday, but if he hangs a four pointer with a plus 3 on Thursday, you’re still in the black. D Wade turns an ankle on Sunday and plays only 9 minutes, the previous three games he played that week still count.
Come Sunday (assuming the Thursday game didn’t have all of your players in it), you better have your best available guys in. This is the one shot you have to get maximum points. You’re not cycling guys in and out on a daily basis based on who has a game that day. You are looking at your approximately 5 running backs, 5 receivers and maybe 2 tight ends (if you don’t have a Jimmy Graham type) and trying to figure out which 2 backs, 2 receivers, 1 tight end, and one flex is going to give you the best numbers. That’s a lot of pressure! Not in the large scheme of things, but look at it. End up with more points from guys you left on the bench than the guys you put in the lineup and you will likely come up on the short end of the week’s match up.
At the risk of over simplifying, this makes a fantasy football draft more vital than all of the other sports. There aren’t a bunch of minor league studs who were high draft picks a couple of years back, waiting for their shot while you wait to snag them from the waiver wire. In football, high draft picks in football usually play immediately, meaning they’re drafted. Then you have guys who generate preseason buzz. Those are the guys who go late in fantasy drafts as flyers. Most fail to have a fantasy impact. Even fewer guys than that end up being contributors from the waiver wire. Sure, every now and again, an unheralded rookie like Alfred Morris or Arian Foster who was a sixth rounder or no rounder respectively, ends up being a huge find. But almost never do you find a veteran on the waiver wire who suddenly becomes a big fantasy contributor. Sure, guys have huge games sometimes. Nearly 100% of the time, it’s a fluke. Look at Kevin Oglegree last year. Massive game. Huge waiver wire scramble for him. Months of major suckage afterward.
So, now let me ask you. Did you run out and get Willis McGahee, Brandon Jacobs, or Harry Douglas from the waiver wire? Sure, McGahee is a starter now in Cleveland. Jacobs in New York. Douglas in Atlanta. McGahee was declining anyway when he suffered a knee injury last year with Denver. Jacobs ended up being an afterthought in San Francisco last year. Douglas, despite having some talent, has been a tease in Atlanta for seasons. Did you run out and get one or more of these guys?
If you did, that could mean one of two things. Either your team is so decimated by injuries that you are desperate for any player that has even an outside chance at producing, or you drafted so poorly that any of these guys represent an upgrade over the guys you have.
Or it could mean a third thing. You’re a fantasy impulse buyer. You see a name you recognize suddenly relevant again in pro football and you frantically grab them off the wire. Then you probably do a giddy little dance and brag to the rest of your league about how you got them.
The silver lining here is that you are salvagable. You can be fixed. All you have to do is channel all of your enthusiasm for washed up or never-will-be veterans into rookies that at least have a chance of turning into something. Will McGahee grab a score every now and then to mask his 40 yard or so production? Of course. In fact, Jacobs just had a nice game against Chicago on Thursday. STAY AWAY FROM HIM! It won’t happen again. Sure, Douglas will catch the odd touchdown from Matty Ice. It happens. But are you really benching guys like Torrey Smith, Eric Decker, Anquan Boldin, DeSean Jackson, Cecil Shorts, etc. to put him in your line up? Why did I choose those names? Because they are all wide receivers who were very likely NOT the first or second one you chose in your draft, but are viable fantasy producers. Think about it. If a guy has either always sucked, or is well into a pattern of decline and perpetual suckage, it isn’t likely to change. Your odds are much better taking a crack at a guy like Zac Stacy. Sure the Rams suck, but he’s starting now. And he’s a rookie, so there isn’t anything to say that he can’t be the next Alfred Morris or Arian Foster, whereas there is everything to say that Jacobs, McGahee and Douglas will continue to be every bit the irrelevant fantasy entities they have either always been or have been steadily heading towards.
As always, good luck this week…unless of course you are playing against me. 🙂