Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 13

"Hey, you're not Ronnie Hillman!" said Peyton Manning and fantasy owners. (Cannon City Daily Record)

FAABulous will recap the week of football activity and point fantasy owners where to spend their hard earned (not really) FAAB or waiver priority. Players will be owned in at most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

Talking about fantasy sports is fun. Playing fantasy sports is fun. When it comes to predicting fantasy sports, that can be not so fun.

What is funny is that as soon as the business side of things comes into play regarding fantasy sports, things take a turn to the ugly. Sure in leagues among friends there's trash talk and the occasional blow up. Public leagues allow the mask of anonymity to allow some to be total jerk-offs, but in general there's just a sense of competition. As soon as someone pronounces themselves an expert or works for a big company like ESPN, then the attitude towards these 'experts' in fantasy change.

Their predictions and rankings become something sacred. Line-ups are set, add/drops are made, and of course FAAB money is spent largely based on these fairy tale prognosticators doing their job and getting that insider info out to the public.

No one tunes into a podcast or reads a fantasy football article to hear about how awesome Tom Brady is, or that A.J. Green is a pretty good wideout. No, these are all obvious and not very astute observations. What draws people in is the mystery. Who is the next big sleeper? Is this back-up running back going to take over the starting job? What do you think this 7th round rookie will do in Week 13?

Those more in-depth opinions are what fantasy experts are out there for, and as a result being an expert and being responsible for making these more difficult calls gets you grilled by the fans 95% of the time. 

"You told me to start Kenny Britt over Brandon LaFell!? Thanks for nothing, moron!" 

That's basically how I see things going. People that do go off on fantasy experts are clearly disappointed in their inability to make their own decision as well as putting a little too much emphasis on an industry where they are anointed experts.

Of course, in a world where everything is listed out or ranked, there would be a site that ranks these rankers. The overall mark equals out to about a D- in school grading terms, so across all experts the hit rate isn't all that definitive. 

I guess now would be a good time to state the obvious. I'm not an expert. I don't claim to be. Could I see myself being one? Yes, but at this point, I'm just a guy that loves sports and writes down some thoughts. My opinion is based on my own skills and probably on par with the next 20-something year old guy bellying up to a bar that serves some great microbrews

With that out of the way, to me, what makes an expert an expert is having a lot of good insights, and getting paid for those insights so he can focus his livelihood around researching, reading, watching games and doing all the things amateur fantasy fans or people that have to work for a living cannot do.

As a result they should be able to dig deeper; to search a little harder and look for the nuances of teams, games and match-ups which is why fans tune in to hear what the experts have to say.

One fact that many people appear to ignore is that the experts on their computer monitor or TV screen aren't necessarily the best at what they do. They're fantasy experts with personality. You need that presence to write interesting and fun columns or carry an hour long fantasy show on Sunday mornings. Unless there's a guy out there who can predict in the low 80% range, then no one is going to sit there and sift through pages of data and info for a guy who hits on 62.1% of his rankings as opposed to 61.1%. 

While fantasy players may not admit it in this new sabermetric world we live in, we still want to be entertained. Sure, it doesn't have to be lame jokes or puns, but interesting writing or an on-air personality is what players value just as much as who is right and who is wrong. If I'm lying then John Paulsen would have almost half a million Twitter followers. This isn't praising guys like Paulsen or shunning guys like Berry, this is just a note that fantasy experts come in different shapes and sizes. They bring different things to the table. But for this game, entertainment is paramount. 

In this game of, let's face it, failing grade fantasy analysis - it's impossible to be right a large percentage of the time. Fantasy experts go off of the same thing that guys like Mike Florio go off of. Information. So when being a fantasy experts basically invites you to accept failure and criticism all the time, I found it particularly rough this past week when an obvious add for Week 12 Ronnie Hillman was set to take over for the injured Willis McGahee and quite frankly looked primed to be a big impact player. Everyone was reporting this, but then hours before the game we were all out foxed. Out John Foxed. The Broncos head coach started the 2009 12th overall pick Knowshon Moreno. Moreno was a former high pick, yes, but injuries combined with a fumbling problem left him inactive for most of the season. So to suddenly see him in the game and starting nonetheless sent shockwaves through fantasy football.

Perhaps a great fantasy expert would have see the writing on the wall, but doing so would only be out of a gut call. There was nothing to suspect Moreno would start or be effective - well, except for Peyton Manning being involved. Sure enough, there were plenty of people freaking out and complaining about their fantasy team being ruined as a result of adding Hillman over Moreno. Again, I'm not expert, but I didn't even pick the right guy and I had two guesses.

Moreno's injury bug doesn't make Hillman an automatic drop, but it does suck for fantasy players and experts alike. Let's not feel bad for Scott Pianowski, Ray Flowers, Ladd Biro, and their ilk because they have awesome gigs, but let's not pretend that they are holding the answers to everything. Like most oracles in this realm, they are here to guide you, not tell you what path to take. 

So let's get nudged in the direction of some free agent pick-ups.

Bottoms up. (NY Daily News)

Knowshon Moreno, RB - DEN (21% owned) TB

Damn you fantasy experts! Damn you! Regardless if Hillman eventually steps in, Moreno has the gig now. He's a bigger back that might be preferred for his pass catching and pass blocking capabilities. After all, it's Peyton that makes this team run on offense.

Daniel Thomas, RB - MIA (26%) NE

Fantasy experts, why didn't you predict the Matt Forte injury and tell me to trade for Michael Bush! Well, Bush is owned in 57% of Yahoo! FFL so he doesn't qualify for this column. Of course though, if you can get him, do it. Bush has been underrated since he broke his leg near the end of his college career in Louisville. He's capable of monster games and sure handed at the goal line.

Daniel Thomas is available though. While he hasn't shoved the other Bush out of his way in Miami, Thomas is starting to come around in Joe Philbin's system. He's got some tough run defenses coming up, but weeks 15 and 16 he faces Jacksonville and Buffalo...who are not.

David Wilson, RB - NYG (15%) @WAS

Hey, remember David? That was all the way back in Week 1, but now Wilson has the opportunity to make his rookie not about if he cried or not after a fumble. Previous Lockration FAABulous pick Andre Brown unfortunately broke his fibula which opens up carries for Wilson behind Ahmad Bradshaw, and allows us all non-Bradshaw owners to player our favorite game of "There's no way Bradshaw can make it through the rest of the year, he has X injuries. Wait, how does he have 19.70 fantasy points? He's not stopping is he? Are we sure he's hurt?" I gotta think of a better title for that one.

Mark Sanchez, QB - NYJ (10%) ARI

Just kidding about Mark. Arizona is 28th in the league for most fantasy points allowed to QB's, but unless you're Fireman Ed, you can't believe in this guy. Although a nice QB to look at for a bench spot is Jake Locker. Since his return from a shoulder injury, the former Huskie has put up 14 and 16 points respectively. Even going against a not quite as good as you remember from the start of the year Texans D, his remaining schedule breaks favorably.


Cole Beasley, WR - DAL (0%) PHI

This is a half-hearted one, not because I don't think he's necessarily ownable, but the 5'8 Beasley was quite the Thanksgiving treat. As my family and I watched football, we loved seeing this guy fly all over the field for 7 rec 13 tar and 68 yards. With Miles Austin hurting, there's an opportunity for him, but I think the ball will be going other places, especially with DeMarco Murray due back...soon?

THE 1%

Joe Webb, QB - MIN (0%) @GB

You know he's coming. Christian Ponder is struggling and with Minnesota fading they need the sometimes WR-eligible QB to take the field. If the Vikings' fans aren't already in a Colin Kaepernick fueled rage, then I don't know football fans.

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