Early August is a dangerous time for the casual fantasy football player. The calendar page flips and draft dates start being thrown around in a never ending email stream. While checking their kid’s play date schedules they check their favorite fantasy pundit’s twitter page. They coast in and out of twitter conversations and check the occasional blog post. They see a few experts agree with an upside potential of a fantasy running back and never think to check back before their draft. It’s for these types of GMs that I write this warning.
These casual GMs may have spied some great fantasy minds talking about how Montee Ball was a touchdown machine in college and will be a favorite of Peyton Manning. They tuck this information away and immediately put Montee Ball at the top of their rookie running back chart and never hear about the weight that Ronnie Hillman gained in the off-season, or his excellent start to training camp.
There’s a reason that fantasy “experts” make the right choices during drafts. They have all the information available. They follow the beat writers. They follow the film guys. (www.footballguys.com or www.ProFootballFocus.com) They follow the the stats and metrics guys. (www.RotoViz.com or www.numberfire.com) They also take all the views of the trusted opinion guys and make their own conclusions based on the strength of the arguments for and against certain players. (there are so many that I won’t mention anyone by name.)
I think it helps me in fantasy football that I am a skeptical person at heart. I wasn’t always this way. I was as gullible as they came when I was younger. If you came up to me on the street and told me that you were a football expert and believed that Jake Plummer was the next great fantasy quarterback, I may have believed you. (Stranger on the street or ESPN the magazine, what’s the difference.) Slowly over the years I have become more and more wary of people who offer free advise.
You can never have an absolute “truth” in fantasy football. If you don’t believe me, please don’t read any further. I may ruin some of your preconceived notions. I may have to spoil the fact that there’s no Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy or even that rich Prince in Nigeria trying to wire you money. The “truth” that fantasy experts advertise is a conclusion based on many, many factors that if they all align will see itself play out. This year we have the closest things to “truths” at the top of every positional ranking. Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, and Jimmy Graham are all the odds on favorites to top their categories in fantasy scoring. If any or all weren’t to finish at the top of their category it would surprise me, but I wouldn’t lose a night of sleep over it. (Unless I owned all of them!)
For example, while I was looking back at last year’s Rotoworld draft rankings for my long standing standard scoring league I realized that they had Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson as their 11th and 12th rated running backs in that particular scoring system. Do I blame them? Absolutely not. A lot of people were scared off of Peterson after the knee injury, while others were skeptical of Lynch with an unsettled quarterback situation. Imagine if I had picked at 12 in a snake draft and Calvin Johnson had gone in his customary top 7 spot. I would have had Lynch and Peterson at the 1-2 turn there for the taking. Would I have pulled the trigger in that scenario? Who knows, but it makes me feel good to know that those types of things play out every year.
As Dick Vermeil said,”If you don’t invest very much, then defeat doesn’t hurt very much and winning is not very exciting.”
Invest the time this year and see all the angles of the bigger picture. Take it all in and form your own opinions using every scrap of available information. Whether it’s playing the late round quarterback game, or getting Drew Brees at all costs, it doesn’t matter. As long as you know all the factors to the equation.