Summer And NFL Football

Posted On Tuesday, June 15, 2010 by JakeTrain |

Workouts and mini camps, off-season football is out and pre-season football is in. The summer promises to provide fantasy owners with plenty of exciting developments and player news leading up to fantasy drafts. However, sometimes we have to differentiate between the NFL fan and the fantasy owner inside each of us. READ MORE


fantasy football, matt forteChicago's Backfield

What is the value of this former top-five fantasy pick for 2010? I don’t know. RB Matt Forte’s value is in flux and it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. There are tons of question marks surrounding the Bears’ offense and Forte has even more questions to answer individually.

There is too much uncertainty for me to monitor this battle in hopes of landing Forte or Chester this season. I’ll probably be on the sidelines when Forte and Chester are called on fantasy draft day 2010, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be interested as a NFL fan. This battle isn’t about a mere split in carries, it’s about how the running back will be used in the offense and how effective the entire offense is in general. This is a situation in which you have a traditional run-heavy offense being managed by a guy known for his passing attack. In a vacuum, it’s as polish as the city’s inhabitants.

Tightends

Having rode Dallas Clark in my most significant and PPR league a season ago, I’m not trying to under appreciate the position. Having the best TE in fantasy football gives your fantasy squad a clear advantage every week of the season sans his bye week. In 2010, there are so many useful TEs to choose from that it makes little sense to invest much into the position. In fact, in 12-team and shallower leagues you might be able to treat the position like a defense and just stream weekly, playing the match ups.

I’m not that old, but I’m guessing the NFL has not had this much talent at the tight end position in quite some time, if at all. You’ve got young guys who have broke out in Vernon Davis and Brent Celek, young guys who are on the verge of breaking out in John Carlson and Jermichael Finley. Tony G is still a treat to watch and I just know one of Jason Witten, Heath Miller or Greg Olsen is going to have a great year. What’s that you say? Carson Palmer has a tight end now? Perhaps in no other position can you see just how much NFL football has evolved in the past decade or two.

Young QBs Who Were Handed The Keys To The Offense
fantasy football, josh freeman

Some have been around longer than others but each starts the 2010 season as the undisputed starter for their respective team for the first time in their careers. Guys like Josh Freeman, Matt Leinart, Kevin Kolb and Sam Bradford. I’m very interested to see how the next crop of quarterbacks performs. Can Freeman and Bradford fill giant voids and solve their team’s quarterback problems? No longer hidden in the shadows of their predecessors, Kolb and Leinart lead their teams into new eras not just new seasons. Nevertheless, the fantasy owner in me will not be baiting my fishing pole in hopes of landing one of these signal callers on draft day.

Outside of Bradford, they have all shown flashes of the abilities needed to take their game to the next level. The most talent of the bunch, coaches included, surrounds Kolb but he plays in the toughest division of the four. Leinart will be throwing to Fitzy but the other team knows that too and the Cardinals are becoming more run-orientated. Can Freeman’s legs get it done as a top twelve fantasy QB if nobody can catch the deep ball? Meanwhile, Bradford is looking at a season of on-the-job-training with a unit that has less talent than most in the league. I’m not expecting total failure here, but I am expecting learning curves. Those learning curves could take four or more weeks to overcome, potentially making them a detriment to at least one third of your fantasy season.

Be mindful of when to wear your fantasy decoder glasses this summer. Like a day out in the sun, too much exposure can lead to unwanted results; too little exposure and you won’t enjoy it!


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Cup Champs Offer Plan For Fantasy Success

Posted On Thursday, June 10, 2010 by JakeTrain |

Patrick Kane, Stanley cupChampions are champions, whether hoisting the Stanley Cup or whatever passes for a trophy in your fantasy football league. For the astute fantasy football GM, however, much can be gleaned from the Blackhawks’ triumphant run through the NHL Playoffs. READ MORE

Breaking Down A Winner

The path to Lord Stanley is not an easy one. Similar in many ways to a fantasy football season, the NHL Playoffs offer up weeks of ups and downs. The demands and pressures Chicago felt during their run is not that different from the ones you will endure during the 2010 fantasy football season. You don’t have to love hockey to appreciate a championship team.

Overcoming Adversity And Injury

I’m starting with this one because it’s the most intangible attribute a fantasy owner can learn. I have always argued that luck is one of the most significant factors in fantasy football. Luck comes in two forms, good and bad. Since hiding from luck isn’t an option, the next best thing is to understand it’s all part of the game.

If you watch any sports lately, not just hockey, I’m sure you can find a missed call or two. It happens. Phantom calls are everywhere. For the Blackhawks, they dealt with them and persevered.

Tomorrow’s debut of the A-Team movie couldn’t sum it better, “I pity the fool who cries when his or her fantasy team is hit by a freight train of injuries and unforeseen bad luck.” It can happen to any team, including yours. Luck has a way of evening out so the more you play through the misfortune, the closer you are to flipping the coin in your favor. If Chicago’s Duncan Keith can lose a mouthful of teeth and come back determined to win, you can too.

Line Depth

You can win with a stars and scrubs team if the above mentioned luck meter tilts in your favor most of the way. The better way to go in my opinion is set yourself up with the best chance to win each week by fielding a strong deep team capable of matching up every week.

Throughout the entire playoff run, Joel Quenneville did as good a job as you will ever see at getting the guys he wanted on the ice. It cost them a few goals and even a win as they got caught in a line change, but in the end it proved to be advantageous.

As a fantasy football owner, having quality options allows you to play the best matchups each week and ultimately increase your team’s ability to put up higher point totals on a weekly basis. A star player can get you to the playoffs, but one bad game in week 16 could cost you a title if the rest of your team can’t score.

Patrick kane, fantasy football

Shots On Goal

Patrick Kane’s series clincher in overtime was a puck thrown at the net more than it was a shot. Throwing pucks towards the net creates more scoring chances. Every team that simplified their game plan to highlight this philosophy found success. It didn’t always lead to wins, but it led to more goals being scored. The more chances you have to score the more likely you are to score.

In fantasy football scoring chances equates to touches. When a player touches the ball he has the ability to score points for your beloved fantasy team. If there is any stat you want to follow along throughout the season it is touches and targets. In this case, more is better.

This also applies to speculative player additions and handcuffs. There is no guarantee a backup will see the same touches or targets as a team’s number one option. A team that loses it’s top RB is just as likely to throw the ball more as it is to hand the ball to it’s second best ball carrier. When filling out your roster, look for players who have the best chance at getting maximum touches or targets if the guys above them on the depth chart miss time.

Changing On The Fly

This might be the hardest skill to master and quite frankly I am not even sure you can actually master it. I’m talking about the ability to know when to stop relying on something that has been working extremely well and make a change. We’ve all heard the expression, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The problem we face as fantasy owners is that the more success we have with something the less likely we are to feel it is broken. If we don’t feel it is broken them we subscribe to the adage and refrain from fixing anything. Our confidence in players can blind us to identifying the parts that are broke.

Remember what I said about line depth? The Blackhawks began the Stanley Cup Finals using the same line combinations that got them there. Philly smothered Chicago’s best scoring line in the opening games of the series and ultimately got themselves back into the series because the best players weren’t scoring. The ‘Hawks were blinded by the past production from that top line and kept running them out there. Once they realized something was broke, they fixed it. They one decision led to more offense from the entire Blackhawks team.

Sometimes fantasy owners do have to bench their best players against good teams. Sometimes fantasy owners do have to trade away their best player because their roster resembles a M.A.S.H. unit. How do you know when to sell high or buy low? It’s the toughest skill to master, but when you fix the problem at the right time, it can make all the difference in your 2010 fantasy football season.

Preparation

Last but not least is preparation. More specifically, using your experiences from previous years to steer clear of previous pitfalls. If you don’t think the young Blackhawk players learned a thing or two from last year’s loss to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals you are mistaken.

Experience is a big deal; it makes us more knowledgeable fantasy football owners. What are people looking at first when evaluating players in 2010? They are looking at last year’s performance. We always look to the past to help us find success in the future. It’s not just in constructing fantasy football player rankings; it’s in preparing for your draft, communicating amongst your league mates to broker a deal and identifying your opponents’ biases.

When you spend 17 weeks slaving over a fictional team of professional players, you inevitably learn a thing or two. You learn how to balance your fantasy sports addiction with the rest of your life and you learn how to be better at playing the game that is fantasy football. You learn that the only way you can win a championship is to be even better the next year.

Congratulations to the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks!


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Really Early 2010 Fantasy Football Stockwatch

Posted On Thursday, June 03, 2010 by JakeTrain |

2010 fantasy footballIt may only be June but some players are already being evaluated as "breakout candidates" for the 2010 fantasy football year. After taking a quick look around the league, I have gathered up a few players who might fall into that category and more. READ MORE

I ended each heading with a '?' because it is almost too early to start judging players. Yet early rankings are already out, and mock drafting has begun! My opinions might change by the end of the summer but why not dust off a few of the perceptions I'm carrying into 2010?

Attractive Investments?

Dwayne Bowe – Bowe falls into the category of guys I have always liked but never seem to roster. This year it looks like the Kansas City offense has better talent to keep defenses honest. Consistent targets should make him a pretty steady producer in 2010. When you apply the discount he'll likely receive on draft day, Bowe becomes a nice value play.


Michael Crabtree – Character aside, Crabtree is one of the most gifted young wideouts in the league. Alex Smith has matured and the ground game should create plenty of play-action opportunities for Crabtree to exploit. Even in a run-orientated offense, I expect Crabtree to show us some razzle and dazzle when the ball is thrown his way.

Steve Smith (Car) – I’m expecting a ton of receptions from the quick-footed Smith in 2010 so PPR leaguers might want to bump him up a few spots. I love receivers with big RAC potential that receive a ton of targets. Not only does Smith provide that, he’s a tough, wily veteran  and doesn’t take any plays off.

’09 Dividends Too Tough To Match?

Cedric Benson – I admit I have some bitterness towards this guy (being a Bear fan). I just question his ability to produce under a heavy workload as well as the chances he receives the same kind of touches in 2010. File him under "I'll gladly let him prove me wrong (again)."

Jay Cutler – This one has more to do with expected '09 dividends than the ones his owners actually accrued, however the Cutler is still perceived to be amongst the better quarterbacks to own after the top three to five are gone. Mike Martz has to get the Bears’ young receiving corps to run great routes. Then he has to get a quarterback who lacks confidence in those receivers to throw it through a window to a spot on the field where those receivers should be by the time the ball is there. I’m hoping like crazy they can make it work, but I’m more than a little skeptical.

Greg Olsen – This one is more about the position than the player. More often than not there will be a fantasy owner in every league who feels the offensively gifted Olsen will be successful in a Mike Martz offense. That’s a chance I won’t be taking with plenty of cheaper options this year. The difference between the 5th rated TE and the 12th rated TE will be far less than you'd expect in 2010.

Holding Their Value?

Jerome Harrison – Don’t sell this guy short, but be careful to pay attention to the news coming out of Cleveland during training camp. Harrison was a beast for fantasy owners down the stretch last year but his role in the 2010 Cleveland Browns offense is not cemented.

Steven Jackson – It’s almost a travesty to even have to mention Jackson’s name here. Let’s face it, touchdowns are king and Jackson proved last season that St. Louis can experience droughts at times. I'm seeing a beast of a running back with just as much chance of scoring 15 times as he does scoring 5 times.

DeAngelo Williams – Chances are Williams’ 2009 owners will steer clear of him in 2010. Considering that his backfield companion had more carries in 2009, they won’t be the only one who is skeptical on draft day. I understand dropping him down the board a few slots, but don’t go overboard and forget he is a RB1.

Wild Cards?

Ladanian Tomlinson – A decline in 2009 was not hard to predict but the level of decline was certainly debatable. He heads into 2010 with a reduced role. Will that reduced role keep his legs fresh to make him a great flex play most weeks or will it lead closer to his retirement? At the end of the day, he has name recognition and that will probably prevent him from sliding too far in the minds of your fellow fantasy competitors.

Steve Slaton – I’d have to say this was the biggest bust of the 2009 fantasy football season. He is too talented and too young for the Texans to just give up on him and neither should you. The fumbles need to be solved and his confidence needs to be reparied. I’m reserving judgment on him until at least week 2 of the pre-season.


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Blitz: Wisenhunt To Call Plays Again

Posted On Friday, May 28, 2010 by JakeTrain |

fantasy football newsI’ve rounded up a few links from around the NFL and fantasy football community to digest over the holiday weekend. Thank you to the brave men and women who have fought and continue to defend our homeland! READ MORE

It looks like Arizona HC Ken Wisenhunt will be calling the offensive plays again in 2010. The departures of WR Anquan Boldin and QB Kurt Warner combined with the play of last season’s rookie RB Beanie Wells should lead to more balance attack from the redbirds. Arizona rushed the ball only 365 times during the 2009 regular season, less than any other team in the NFL.

One of the more intriguing position battles to keep an eye on this pre-season will be in Texas where Jacoby Jones is trying to unseat Kevin Walter as the team’s #2 WR behind Andre Johnson. Jones has impressed HC Gary Kubiak early in in OTA’s and could become a low end WR3 for fantasy owners by draft day.

The Lions are reportedly going to take a look at LB Keith Bulluck. Bulluck played for Detroit HC Jim Schwartz in Tennessee and is coming off knee surgery.

Torry Holt will try to become the latest aging veteran to blossom into a useful role player on the Patriots in 2010. Holt’s experience and route running should help the Pats overcome the loss of Wes Welker and help mentor the younger receivers on the team.

Cornelius Griffin and E. J. Henderson are ahead of schedule in their respective recoveries from injury. However, both defensive starters remain questionable to be ready in time for the start of training camp.

Have a safe holiday weekend!

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