Posts Tagged ‘The Sherpa’s Fantasy Football Blog’

Thursday Morning Quarterback - Week 1 Recommendations (Thu 9/9/10)

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Hi everyone, welcome to another football season!  Hardly seems like it’s already been 7 months since the Saints’ Super Bowl victory, but that’s what the calendar says.  I’m going to try a slightly different format to start this season, so let me know how you like it.  Remember to set your lineups in time for the Thursday night game!  All games are Sunday during the day unless otherwise noted.  Here are my recommendations for Week 1:

Minnesota at New Orleans (Thurs night) - I don’t have a good feeling at all about this game from Minnesota’s perspective.  Brett Favre may or may not be injured, he may or may not be in sync with his receivers, etc.  New Orleans should win in a romp as they kick off their defense of the Vince Lombardi trophy.  New Orleans 41  Minnesota 21.

  • Minnesota
    • Yes (Should definitely be in your starting lineup):  RB Adrian Peterson, TE Visanthe Shiancoe
    • No (Should definitely NOT be in your starting lineup):  RB Toby Gerhart (Questionable-knee), DEF, K Ryan Longwell
    • Maybe So (Okay to start if you don’t have a better option):  QB Brett Favre (Probable-ankle); WRs Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin, & Greg Camarillo
  • New Orleans
    • Yes:  QB Drew Brees, RBs Pierre Thomas & Reggie Bush, WR Marques Colston (Probable-kidney), K Garrett Hartley, DEF
    • No:  TE Jeremy Shockey
    • Maybe So:  WRs Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, & Lance Moore

Cleveland at Tampa Bay - An early-season Battle of the Bottom-feeders (or at least projected bottom-feeders).  If Cleveland pulls off the victory, they have a good chance to start 2-0, given that they host Kansas City in Week 2.  Then, we’d start to get all the “Are they for real?” stories.  Then . . .  Both teams feature potentially strong defenses and weak offenses - at least the Bucs have a young QB who offers hope for the future, although the health of his throwing hand is in question for this matchup.  Look for Jake Delhomme to get off to a winning start with his new team as the Browns win a low-scoring game by 4 points.  Cleveland 17 Tampa Bay 13.

  • Cleveland
    • Yes:  RB Jerome Harrison, TE Ben Watson, K Phil Dawson, DEF
    • No:  RB Peyton Hillis, WR Brian Robiskie
    • Maybe So:  QB Jake Delhomme, WRs Mohamed Massaquoi & Joshua Cribbs
  • Tampa Bay 
    • Yes:  RB Cadillac Williams, WR Mike Williams, TE Kellen Winslow, DEF
    • No:  RB Kareem Huggins
    • Maybe So:  QB Joshua Freeman (Probable-thumb), WR Sammie Stroughter

Miami at Buffalo - Miami unveils their shiny new toy (aka Brandon Marshall).  Buffalo unveils THEIR shiny new toy (aka C.J. Spiller).  Buffalo’s new toy is just a bit shinier than Miami’s.  Buffalo 20 Miami 16.

  • Miami 
    • Yes:  RB Ronnie Brown, WR Brandon Marshall, K Dan Carpenter, DEF
    • No:  WR Davone Bess
    • Maybe So:  QB Chad Henne, RB Ricky Williams, WR Brian Hartline
  • Buffalo 
    • Yes:  RB C.J. Spiller, DEF, K Rian Lindell
    • No:  QB Trent Edwards, RBs Fred Jackson (Probable-hand) & Marshawn Lynch 
    • Maybe So:  WR Lee Evans

Cincinnati at New England - This potential playoff preview features a bunch of head-case wide receivers.  New England overcomes the stories about contract dissension to win a shootout handily.  New England 38 Cincinnati 27.

  • Cincinnati
    • Yes:  QB Carson Palmer, RB Cedric Benson, WR Chad Ochocinco, K Mike Nugent
    • No:  DEF
    • Maybe So:  WR Terrell Owens, TE Jermaine Gresham
  • New England 
    • Yes:  QB Tom Brady (Probable-shoulder/Belichick up to his old tricks again), WR Randy Moss (Questionable-lacking respect), K Stephen Gostkowski
    • No:  RBs Laurence Maroney (Questionable-thigh), Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, & Kevin Faulk;  WR Julian Edelman (Question-foot); TEs Alge Crumpler, Aaron Hernandez (Probable-knee), Rob Gronkowski 
    • Maybe So:  WR Wes Welker

Indianapolis at Houston - Houston needs to win a game early in the season against a quality opponent to convince themselves (and their fans) that they’re a playoff-quality team.  Once again, it’s not going to happen.  Indianapolis 31 Houston 26

  • Indianapolis 
    • Yes: QB Peyton Manning, RB Joseph Addai, WR Reggie Wayne, TE Dallas Clark, K Adam Vinatieri
    • No: WR Anthony Gonzalez, DEF
    • Maybe So: RB Donald Brown, WRs Pierre Garcon & Austin Collie
  • Houston 
    • Yes: QB Matt Schaub, RB Arian Foster, WR Andre Johnson, K Neil Rackers 
    • No:  RB Steve Slaton (Probable-toe), TE Owen Daniels (Questionable-knee), DEF
    • Maybe So:  WR Kevin Walter & Jacoby Jones

Denver at Jacksonville - 2 teams that figure to struggle all season.  Maurice Jones-Drew puts to rest speculation that he’s injured, and Jacksonville wins a low-scoring game by a field goal.  Jacksonville 20 Denver 17

  • Denver 
    • Yes: WR Eddie Royal, DEF
    • No: RBs Knowshon Moreno (Probable-ankle) & Correll Buckhalter, WR Demaryius Thomas (Probable-foot), K Matt Prater
    • Maybe So: QB Kyle Orton, WR Jabar Gaffney 
  • Jacksonville 
    • Yes:  RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Probable-knee), K Josh Scobee, DEF
    • No:  TE Marcedes Lewis, WR Mike Thomas
    • Maybe So:  QB David Garrard, WR Mike Sims-Walker

Atlanta at Pittsburgh - Will the absence of Ben Roethlisberger hurt the Steelers?  Will Michael Turner return to his 2008 form?  The answer to both questions is yes, so Atlanta will win a low-scoring game.  Atlanta 20 Pittsburgh 10

  • Atlanta 
    • Yes: QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, WR Roddy White, TE Tony Gonzalez, DEF, K Matt Bryant
    • No:  None 
    • Maybe So:  None 
  • Pittsburgh 
    • Yes:  TE Heath Miller, DEF
    • No:  QB Dennis Dixon; RBs Mewelde Moore, Isaac Redman, & Jonathan Dwyer; WR Mike Wallace; K Jeff Reed
    • Maybe So:  RB Rashard Mendenhall, WR Hines Ward

Oakland at Tennessee - Jason Campbell will improve the Oakland offense.  Rolando McClain will improve the Oakland defense.  That still won’t be enough for the Raiders to win, at least not this week.  Tennessee 24 Oakland 14

  • Oakland
    • Yes: WR Louis Murphy, TE Zach Miller, DEF
    • No: RB Michael Bush (Questionable-thumb), K Sebastian Janikowski
    • Maybe So:  QB Jason Campbell, RB Darren McFadden 
  • Tennessee
    • Yes:  RB Chris Johnson, K Rob Bironas, DEF
    • No:  WR Justin Gage (Probable-thumb), Nate Washington (Questionable-wrist), Kenny Britt (Probable-coach’s doghouse)
    • Maybe So:  QB Vince Young, TE Bo Scaife

Carolina at New York Giants - Matt Moore will prove to be a decent real-life and fantasy option this season, but the Giants win the battle of the Steve Smiths in the inaugural regular season game for the “New Meadowlands Stadium”.  New York 34  Carolina 27

  • Carolina 
    • Yes:  QB Matt Moore, RBs DeAngelo Williams & Jonathan Stewart, WR Steve Smith, K John Kasay 
    • No: WRs Dwayne Jarrett & Brandon LaFell, DEF
    • Maybe So:  None
  • NY Giants 
    • Yes:  QB Eli Manning, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, WRs Steve Smith & Hakeem Nicks, K Lawrence Tynes
    • No:  DEF
    • Maybe So:  RB Brandon Jacobs, WR Mario Manningham, TE Kevin Boss

Detroit at Chicago - Bears’ fans and Matt Forte’s fantasy owners are both eager to see new Bears’ Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz’ system in action.  Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best,  and Calvin Johnson put up a good fight, but Chicago wins a shootout.  Chicago 37 Detroit 27  

  • Detroit 
    • Yes:  QB Matthew Stafford, RB Jahvid Best, WR Calvin Johnson, K Jason Hanson
    • No: RB Kevin Smith, WRs Nate Burleson & Bryant Johnson, TEs Brandon Pettigrew & Tony Scheffler, DEF
    • Maybe So:  None
  • Chicago 
    • Yes:  QB Jay Cutler, RB Matt Forte, K Robbie Gould, WR Johnny Knox
    • No:  RB Chester Taylor, TE Greg Olsen, WRs Devin Aromashodu & Earl Bennett (Probable-hamstring), DEF
    • Maybe So:  WR Devin Hester

Arizona at St. Louis - Cardinals will ultimately regret cutting Matt Leinart in order to make Derek Anderson the starter, but not today.  Arizona 24 St Louis 14

  • Arizona 
    • Yes: RB Tim Hightower, WR Larry Fitzgerald, DEF, K Jay Feely
    • No:  QB Derek Anderson, RB Beanie Wells (Questionable-knee)
    • Maybe So: WR Steve Breaston
  • St. Louis 
    • Yes:  RB Steven Jackson
    • No:  QB Sam Bradford, WRs Laurent Robinson (Questionable-foot, ankle) & Mardy Gilyard, K Josh Brown, DEF
    • Maybe So:  WRs Danny Amendola & Brandon Gibson

Green Bay at Philadelphia - Kevin Kolb silences the doubters, but his performance still isn’t enough to lead the Eagles to victory.  Green Bay 38 Philadelphia 27

  • Green Bay 
    • Yes:  QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Ryan Grant, WRs Greg Jennings & Donald Driver, TE Jermichael Finley, K Mason Crosby
    • No: WRs James Jones & Jordy Nelson, DEF
    • Maybe So:  None 
  • Philadelphia 
    • Yes:  QB Kevin Kolb, RB LeSean McCoy, WRs DeSean Jackson (Probable-neck) & Jeremy Maclin, TE Brent Celek, K David Akers
    • No:  DEF
    • Maybe So:  None

San Francisco at Seattle - The Pete Carroll Era in Seattle gets off to a disastrous start.  Luckily for him, the NFL can’t put his team on probation.  San Francisco 21 Seattle 7

  • San Francisco 
    • Yes: QB Alex Smith, RB Frank Gore, WR Michael Crabtree, TE Vernon Davis, DEF
    • No: RB Brian Westbrook, WR Josh Morgan, K Joe Nedney
    • Maybe So: None
  • Seattle 
    • Yes:  TE John Carlson
    • No:  QB Matt Hasselbeck; RB Leon Washington; WRs Deon Butler, Deion Branch, & Golden Tate, DEF, K Olindo Mare
    • Maybe So:  RB Justin Forsett, WR Mike Williams

Dallas at Washington (Sun night) - Will Albert Haynesworth still be a Redskin on Sunday?  Can he and new Skins’ Head Coach get along?  Will Donovan McNabb be healthy enough to play?  It doesn’t matter - Dallas wins in a blowout.  Dallas 31 Washington 10

  • Dallas 
    • Yes: QB Tony Romo, RBs Felix Jones & Marion Barber, WR Miles Austin, TE Jason Witten, DEF, K David Buechler
    • No: RB Tashard Choice, WR Roy Williams
    • Maybe So: WR Dez Bryant
  • Washington 
    • Yes:  TE Chris Cooley
    • No:  QB Donovan McNabb (Probable-ankle), RB Larry Johnson, WRs Joey Galloway & Devin Thomas, DEF, K Graham Gano
    • Maybe So:  RB Clinton Portis, WR Santana Moss

Baltimore at New York Jets (Mon night) - Baltimore ruins both the Jets debut in their new stadium and the Rex Ryan/Darelle Revis lovefest as Gang Green gets an up-close look at what a future Super Bowl champ really looks like.  Baltimore 20 New York 10

  • Baltimore 
    • Yes: RB Ray Rice, WR Anquan Boldin & Derek Mason, TE Todd Heap, DEF, K Billy Cundiff
    • No: 
    • Maybe So:  QB Joe Flacco, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
  • New York 
    • Yes:  TE Dustin Keller, DEF
    • No:  QB Mark Sanchez, RBs Shonn Greene & LaDainian Tomlinson, WRs Braylon Edwards & Jerricho Cotchery
    • Maybe So:  None

San Diego at Kansas City (Mon night) - Kansas City finally has enough weapons on offense to be competitive, but not enough to overcome Philip Rivers and the Chargers.  San Diego 34 Kansas City 27

  • San Diego 
    • Yes: QB Philip Rivers, RB Ryan Mathews, WR Malcom Floyd, TE Antonio Gates, K Nate Kaeding
    • No: WR Legedu Naanee, DEF
    • Maybe So: RB Darren Sproles
  • Kansas City 
    • Yes:  RBs Thomas Jones & Jamaal Charles, WR Dwayne Bowe, K Ryan Succop
    • No:  DEF
    • Maybe So:  QB Matt Cassel, WRs Chris Chambers & Dexter McCluster

Good luck to your teams this weekend! 

The Sherpa

Fantasy Football Sherpa

The Sherpa’s Fantasy Football Blog

@fantasy_sherpa on Twitter

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4th & Inches with Jana and The Sherpa“, Wed. nights 9:30-10:30pm Eastern on Blog Talk Radio

QB or not QB? That is the 1st-round question (Fri 9/3/10)

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Hi everyone,

Fantasy football draft season is in full swing, and many of you have drafts coming up Labor Day weekend.  One “trend” I’ve noticed this season is more and more fantasy football team owners using their first-round draft picks on QBs, with Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and even Peyton Manning often being taken by owners wanting to lock in top-tier production from their quarterback spot.  Does it make sense to do this?  Does the time-honored adage “always take a RB in the first round” still hold?  Let’s take a closer look.

There are 2 commonly-used arguments to justify taking a QB in the first round:

  1. “Taking a running back in the first round no longer makes sense - there are just too many Running Back By Committee (RBBC) situations now, so there are a number of good running backs with the potential to outplay their draft position still left in the middle rounds.”
  2. “The top quarterbacks score a lot more points under my league’s scoring system than the top running backs and wide receivers, so it makes sense to take a quarterback first.”

Let’s take a closer look at both these arguments.

In response to the first argument, it’s undoubtedly true that the trend in the NFL over the past few seasons has seen teams moving away from the single workhorse RB approach and going with the RBBC approach instead.  If we define the “single workhorse RB approach” to include all teams for which the lead rusher is projected to gain at least 65%-70% of his team’s rushing yards, then by my count there are 13 teams using the RBBC approach heading into the 2010 season, which is up from 10 teams heading into the 2009 season.

That said, the basic economic principle of supply and demand suggests that when the supply of a desirable commodity (in our case the workhorse running back) goes down, the corresponding demand for that desirable commodity should increase, not decrease.  Thus, it would appear that drafting QBs earlier in response to the decrease in supply of workhorse RBs is exactly the opposite of what should occur.

The second argument is a bit trickier to deal with.  First, let me bring up the idea of “position scarcity”.  Unfortunately, this term is overused and abused in fantasy circles.  To me position scarcity can be defined as the relative drop-off in fantasy value between the top-rated options and the mediocre options at each position.

If you accept this definition of position scarcity, then if you make a list of players’ projected 2010 fantasy points in descending order by position (using your league’s particular scoring system, of course), you’ll almost certainly find that there’s a greater decrease in fantasy values between top-rated and mid-level RBs (or top-rated and mid-level WRs) than there is between top-rated and mid-level QBs.  This will be the case even though the increasing use of RBBCs has increased the fantasy values of mid-tier RBs relative to what they were just a year or two ago.

If that’s the case, the opportunity cost (i.e. - the value of the option you don’t choose when you make a decision) is greater for passing on a RB (or WR) in the first round of a draft than it is for passing on a QB.  In other words, even though QBs generally score more fantasy points than RBs and WRs under many fantasy scoring systems, your fantasy team will be better off overall at the end of your draft if you start out by taking a RB (or a WR) than if you grab one of the top names at QB.

A quick caveat - in order to make this analysis complete, we would need to look at not only supply/demand and position scarcity, but also the relative consistency in actual vs. expected fantasy values among the top options across the different positions.  That consistency, of course, will depend on the particulars of your league’s scoring system, but based on the analysis I’ve done, generally speaking the slightly greater consistency among top QBs vs. top RBs and top WRs is not enough to overcome the supply/demand and position scarcity issues.

So, unless your league has “highly unusual” roster requirements (e.g. - start 2 QBs and 1 RB) or point values (e.g. - 6 points for a passing TD, but only 3 points for a rushing or receiving TD), your fantasy team will still better off at the end of your draft if you take a top-tier RB (or WR) with your first round pick than it will be if you use that same pick on a top-tier QB. 

Wishing everyone a great holiday weekend and good luck in your upcoming drafts! 

The Sherpa

Fantasy Football Sherpa

The Fantasy Football Sherpa’s Blog

@fantasy_sherpa on Twitter

The Fantasy Football Sherpa fan page on Facebook

4th & Inches with Jana and The Sherpa“, Wed. nights 9:30-10:30pm Eastern on Blog Talk Radio

2010 Defense Rankings (Sun 8/29/10)

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

The fantasy value of team defenses is only slightly more predictable than that of Kickers.  That’s why it generally makes no sense to draft a defense until the final rounds or spend more than a dollar or two for one if you’re participating in an auction.

Still, given that most leagues require you have a defense in your starting lineup, what’s the best way to go about picking one?  The defensive events that produce the most fantasy points (i.e. - defensive and special teams touchdowns) are virtually impossible to predict.  Events such as sacks, fumble recoveries, and interceptions are nearly as difficult to project.  Thus, I find the most useful way to rank team defenses (with or without special teams included) is on the basis of total yards allowed (i.e. - rushing + passing), which is somewhat less random than total points allowed.  Again, this is at best a reasonable proxy - you’ll almost certainly change defenses at least once during the course of a season due to a bye week, and perhaps more often based on your defense’s matchup for a given week.

With all that said here is my ranking of team defenses (with or without special teams) heading into the 2010 season:

  1. New York Jets
  2. Baltimore
  3. Green Bay
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Minnesota
  6. Dallas
  7. Denver
  8. Cincinnati
  9. New England
  10. Carolina
  11. Washington
  12. New York Giants
  13. Houston
  14. Philadelphia
  15. San Diego
  16. San Francisco
  17. Chicago
  18. Indianapolis
  19. Arizona
  20. Miami
  21. Buffalo
  22. Atlanta
  23. Jacksonville
  24. Seattle
  25. Oakland
  26. New Orleans
  27. Tennessee
  28. Tampa Bay
  29. St. Louis
  30. Cleveland
  31. Kansas City
  32. Detroit

One final point about defenses - many fantasy football owners like to draft a backup defense so that they’ll be covered during their primary defense’s bye week and/or have the option of playing matchups each week.  I strongly disagree with this strategy, primarily because of the random nature of a defense’s fantasy value.  It’s very difficult to predict this fantasy value over the course of a season and even more difficult to predict a defense’s fantasy value from week to week.  My recommendation - pick one you’re comfortable with in your draft our auction, ride with it until the team’s bye week, then replace it via free agency.  You may fret that you’re putting the second coming of the Bears’ 1986 defense on waivers, but that’s almost certainly not the case.  The spot you’ll save by not carrying a second defense can be put to much better use by stashing another running back or wide receiver with high upside.

Until next time, 

The Sherpa

Fantasy Football Sherpa

The Fantasy Football Sherpa’s Blog

@fantasy_sherpa on Twitter

The Fantasy Football Sherpa fan page on Facebook

Sherpa alert - Twitter Roundtable fantasy football Blog Talk Radio show (Sat 8/27/10)

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be on The Twitter Roundtable fantasy football show on Blog Talk Radio tonight between 10-11pm Eastern!  The show is hosted by Jim Day (@FantasyTaz), and the other guests will be Ginny Loveless (@gbginny) & Mike Jones (@mikejones42).

Hope you’re able to tune in!

Scott (The Sherpa)

Fantasy Football Sherpa

The Fantasy Football Sherpa’s Blog

@fantasy_sherpa on Twitter

The Fantasy Football Sherpa fan page on Facebook

Put Away Those Handcuffs! (Thu 8/26/10)

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

For many of the people who started playing fantasy football more than a couple of years ago the mantra “always handcuff your star running back” is a sacred drafting strategy.  Handcuffing (i.e. - drafting your star running back’s backup), the theory goes, guarantees that you’ll lock in the production from a given NFL team’s running game, even if your star running back is injured for a significant number of games or lost for the season. 

This line of thinking is somewhat like the act of buying a put option on a stock you own in order to recoup most of the value of your investment in case the stock’s price does a nosedive.  I say “somewhat” because unlike a put option, there’s no guarantee you’ll recoup any of the value of your fantasy football investment through the use of handcuffs.  This could happen for one of several reasons: (1) the star running back’s backup at the time of your draft may suffer a significant injury prior to the star running back’s being injured, (2) the star running back’s backup at the time of your draft may lose his spot on the depth chart due to worse-than-expected performance on his part, better-than-expected performance by another running back, or a coach’s inexplicable decision (think Mike Shanahan’s Reign of Terror in Denver), etc, or (3) an injured star running back’s team may change its offensive philosophy after his loss (i.e. - passing more, running less).

Besides the uncertainties associated with the handcuffing strategy, it’s also a bad idea for two other reasons.   The first is the associated opportunity cost (i.e.- the value that’s lost by foregoing other possibilities) that comes with passing on the chance to draft an additional backup at other positions, namely quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end.  Quick - what do Chad Henne, Alex Smith, Josh Freeman, Vince Young, Sidney Rice, Mohammed Massaquoi, Louis Murphy, Mike Sims-Walker, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Mike Wallace, Malcom Floyd, Brett Celek, and Vernon Davis all have in common?  That’s right - in 2009 they all went undrafted in the vast majority of fantasy leagues, and even in the minority of leagues in which they were drafted, they delivered significantly more fantasy value than you would expect from players taken in the late rounds of a draft. 

Quick - how many “star running backs” (I’ll define that term to mean running backs who were expected to gain more than 2/3 of their team’s rushing yards) missed “significant” time in 2009 (which I’ll define to mean more than 3 games) due to an injury (which does not include foreseeable ineffectiveness and/or ill-advised Tweeting) and were replaced by the expected handcuff?  That’s right - just two:  Jerome Harrison, who replaced Jamal Lewis in Cleveland, and Ricky Williams, who replaced Ronnie Brown in Miami.  By my count there were 22 “star running backs” available to be drafted in 2009, so that’s less than a 10% chance that your handcuff investment paid off last year (warning:  as they say in the investment biz, past performance is no guarantee of future returns).  Meanwhile, you gave up the potential fantasy production you would have received if you’d gotten lucky and speculated on one of the undrafted players listed above.

“Okay,” you say, “but there’s no guarantee that even an extremely knowledgable football fan like me would have had the foresight to pick one of the 14 players you listed above - tear down your straw man!”  Fair enough, which brings me to my final reason for opposing the handcuffing strategy: the trend among NFL teams towards the dreaded Running Back By Committee (RBBC).  Of course, many fantasy football team owners have come to dread the RBBC approach because the NFL teams that use this strategy shrink the supply of “star running backs”.  While that’s certainly the case, the positive side to RBBCs is that they increase the number of available running backs who are better alternatives than the handcuffs to star running backs. 

Case in point - in 2009 by my count 10 of the 32 teams headed into the season with what I would describe as an RBBC approach.  In 2010 that number is up to 13.  Yes, that’s three fewer star running backs available to be drafted, but that’s also three more running backs whose expected payoff is better than that of a handcuff.  Drafting someone who’s currently not the lead back in an RBBC situation still offers significant upside (the secondary back could move ahead of the lead back if the lead back is injured or the secondary back outperforms the lead back), while offering a higher expected return than a clear second-stringer who would be drafted as a handcuff.  The greater the number of fantasy teams or required starting running backs in your league, the more sense it makes to take secondary backs in an RBBC rather than a handcuff.

So put away those handcuffs today, and improve your chances of drafting a winning team in 2010! 

Until next time, 

The Sherpa

Fantasy Football Sherpa

The Fantasy Football Sherpa’s Blog

@fantasy_sherpa on Twitter

The Fantasy Football Sherpa fan page on Facebook

Sherpa alert - Twitter Roundtable fantasy football Blog Talk Radio show (Sat 7/31/10)

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be on Jim Day’s Twitter Roundtable fantasy football show on Blog Talk Radio tonight between 10-11pm Eastern along with Ben Ice & Mark Gram.

Hope you’re able to tune in!

Scott (The Sherpa)

Fantasy Football Sherpa

The Fantasy Football Sherpa’s Blog

@fantasy_sherpa on Twitter

The Fantasy Football Sherpa fan page on Facebook

2010 Industry Fantasy Football Draft (Tue 7/13/10)

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Dave Cymerman of TheFantasyGeek.com recently did a writeup for a 2010 fantasy football industry league we’re both in: http://bit.ly/dbp2zM

This draft was part of the proceedings at the Fantasy Sports Trade Association’s recent conference in Chicago.

Enjoy!

The Sherpa

Fantasy Football SherpaThe Fantasy Football Sherpa’s Blog

@fantasy_sherpa on Twitter

The Fantasy Football Sherpa fan page on Facebook

Sherpa alert - Yahoo! Roto Arcade blog (Fri 9/11/09)

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that our predictions for the Mayors’ Fantasy Football Challenge were cited in Andy Behrens’ Roto Arcade blog on Yahoo!  The victorious mayor will win $15K from Yahoo, to be donated to the charity of his/her choice.  Here are more details on the contest (including the list of participating mayors).

Enjoy!

The Sherpa

Fantasy Football Sherpa

The Fantasy Football Sherpa’s Blog

@fantasy_sherpa on Twitter

Thursday Morning Quarterback - Week 1 Recommendations (Thu 9/10/09)

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

In a sure sign that summer is coming to an end, the NFL season kicks off tonight in Pittsburgh.  Hard to believe that when the last NFL regular-season games were played, George W. Bush was still President, Michael Jackson was still alive, and no one was talking yet about “death panels” or attending health care town hall meetings with shotguns (ironic, no?).

Each week I’ll take a look at the upcoming NFL matchups from a fantasy perspective.  At the risk of stating the obvious, my recommendations are necessarily general in nature - if you’re in a league with 20 teams that starts 12 players per week, in all likelihood you’ll have to start some players you wouldn’t think about starting in a 10-12 team league that starts 9 players per week.  Also, in a forum like this it’s impossible to tailor recommendations to the myriad of scoring systems that exist.

Although a market for them definitely exists, I’m also highly critical of sites that claim to project players’ fantasy points on a weekly basis - that’s just nonsense.  Yes, fantasy owners are much more interested in point estimates than in ranges of outcomes, but if you don’t understand the limits of the information you’re using, you’re likely to misuse it.  There’s so much variation around a player’s “expected points” for a week that the expected results themselves are practically useless.  No one can tell you with anything remotely approaching a high degree of certainty whether Clinton Portis will score more fantasy points this week than Brandon Jacobs or vice versa.  To pretend otherwise is doing a disservice to your audience.

That being said, the one thing I can promise you is that I won’t be afraid to make recommendations that go against conventional wisdom when I feel they’re called for.  Many fantasy experts will advise you to “always start your studs” - I’m not one of them.  If you’re an Adrian Peterson or Drew Brees owner and they have a particularly tough matchup in a given week, you may actually be better off starting a Ray Rice or Jake Delhomme instead.  I don’t expect you to agree with or follow all of my recommendations, but at the very least, hopefully I’ll give you some food for thought.

Without further ado, here are my recommendations for Week 1 on the road to Super Bowl XLIV:

Tennessee at Pittsburgh - I don’t expect much scoring in this game from either side - the Defenses should dominate.  The Titans have a pair of talented RBs (Chris Johnson & LenDale White), but neither of them is a good play this week.  The only Titans I would start this week are TE Bo Scaife and the Defense.  I’m slightly more optimistic about the Steelers’ offensive players’ prospects, but only because I don’t have a good sense for the impact of Albert Haynesworth’s departure and Kyle Vanden Bosch’s return on the Titans’ defensive line.  Steelers worth starting include RB Willie Parker, TE Heath Miller, WR Hines Ward, and the Defense.

Jacksonville at Indianapolis - Both offenses should have success moving the ball against the opposing Defense, but I suspect Indianapolis will have more success and win the game fairly easily.  Jaguars worth starting include QB David Garrard, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, TE Marcedes Lewis, WR Torry Holt, and K Josh Scobee.  Colts worth starting include QB Peyton Manning, RB Joseph Addai, TE Dallas Clark, WRs Reggie Wayne & Anthony Gonzalez, and K Adam Vinatieri.

Detroit at New Orleans - As with the previous game I believe both offenses will move the ball successfully, but I expect the home team to win by a substantial amount.  Lions’ rookie QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson figure to develop into a top fantasy combo for years to come, and both are worth starting this weekend.  RB Kevin Smith, rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew, WR Bryant Johnson, and K Jason Hanson are also good starts.  If you have to submit your weekly fantasy lineups before the Titans-Steelers game, I would assume that New Orleans RB Pierre Thomas will not play, so leave him out of your lineups.  Saints’ QB Drew Brees, RB Reggie Bush, TE Jeremy Shockey, WRs Marques Colston & Lance Moore, and K John “Methuselah” Carney should all be in lineups for this favorable matchup.

Philadelphia at Carolina - While both teams feature potentially explosive offenses, I expect Philadelphia’s Defense to outplay Carolina’s, resulting in an Eagles’ victory.  Eagles worth starting include QB Donovan McNabb, RB Brian Westbrook, TE Brent Celek, WRs DeSean Jackson & Kevin Curtis, K David Akers, and the Defense.  The only Panther I’d start this week is WR Steve Smith.

Dallas at Tampa Bay - The Cowboys are finally playing in Tampa, but their rabid fans would have rather been in The Big Guava back in February for Super Bowl XLIII.  At least Punters Mat McBriar and Dirk Johnson won’t have to worry about kicking the ball into a scoreboard . . . Tampa’s defense features some talented players, but their offense will probably have a hard time staying on the field, leading the defense to wear down as the game progresses.  Cowboys worth starting include QB Tony Romo, RBs Marion Barber & Felix Jones, TE Jason Witten, WR Roy Williams, K Nick Folk, and the Defense.  The only Buccaneer I’d consider starting is TE Kellen Winslow.

New York Jets at Houston Texans - Much has been made in the New York City press about the proverbial “change in attitude” that new Jets’ Head Coach Rex Ryan has brought to town.  Like his father, Buddy, Ryan is very down-to-earth and gives great interviews.  He’s also brought several players with him from his Ravens’ defense, most notably LB Bart Scott.  Still, with rookie QB Mark Sanchez and a WR corps that lost its top option (Laveranues Coles) to free agency without replacing him, I expect the Jets to struggle mightily on offense this year and be picking near the start of the draft next April.  The Texans, on the other hand, are a team genuinely on the upswing, and if QB Matt Schaub can finally stay healthy for a full season, I believe they’ll represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLIV.  The only Jet I’d start this week is TE Dustin Keller, whom I believe will emerge as one of the NFL’s top pass-catching Tight Ends after a promising rookie season.  Texans worth starting include QB Matt Schaub, RB Steve Slaton, TE Owen Daniel, WR Andre Johnson, K Kris Brown, and the Defense.  Texans’ WR Kevin Walter is listed as Questionable - if you need to submit your lineup for the full slate of games before tonight’s game, I’d err on the side of caution and assume that he won’t play this weekend.

Kansas City at Baltimore - Many would look at this game and label it as a mismatch in Baltimore’s favor - I don’t believe that’s the case.  Baltimore’s defense lost several players, as well as Coordinator Rex Ryan, during the off-season, and their offense, which was mediocore last season, doesn’t appear to have improved much.  The big question mark for the Chiefs is at Quarterback - Matt Cassel is listed as Questionable.  Even though backup QB Tyler Thigpen filled in admirably last season, he’d be playing without standout TE Anthony Gonzalez this season.  Chiefs who are worth starting are RB Larry Johnson, WR Dwayne Bowe, and the Defense.  The only Ravens I’d start are TE Todd Heap, WR Derrick Mason, and the Defense.

Denver at Cincinnati - There will be two defenses on the field for this game Sunday, but the final score may have you questioning whether either of them actually showed up.  Even though the Broncos will be sporting new starters at several key offensive positions, they figure to get off to a fast start against the Bengals’ defense.  Although QB Kyle Orton and rookie RB Knowshon Moreno are both listed as Questionable on the injury report, indications are that Orton will play, but Moreno won’t.  Broncos who should be started include Orton, RB Correll Buckhalter (assuming he starts in place of Moreno), WRs Brandon Marshall & Eddie Royal, and K Matt Prater.  Bengals who should be started include QB Carson Palmer, RB Cedric Benson, WRs Chad Ochocinco & Laveranues Coles, and K Shayne Graham.  This doesn’t figure to be one of FOX’s featured games Sunday, but it could easily turn out to be one of the most entertaining.  Marshall and Ochocinco may actually garner attention for their football talent rather than their off-field dramatics.

Minnesota at Cleveland - For better or worse Vikings’ Head Coach Brad Childress has put his team’s fate in the hands of drama queen Brett Favre.  For better or worse Browns’ Head Coach Eric Mangini has put his fate in the hands of . . . well, we’re not sure yet.  Reports indicate that Mangini has chosen Brady Quinn over Derek Anderson as his starting Quarterback, but good luck getting Mangini to confirm that.  I don’t buy the notion that adding Favre makes the Vikings’ a Super Bowl contender, but they figure to get their season off to a good start in this matchup.  Vikings to start include Favre, RB Adrian Peterson, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, WR Bernard Berrian, K Ryan Longwell, and the Defense.  If you’re in a deeper league (i.e.- more than 12 teams), RB Chester Taylor and rookie WR Percy Harvin may also be worth starting.  The only Brown worth starting this week is WR Braylon Edwards, who figures to catch his share of passes this season no matter which Browns’ QB is flinging them.  Hopefully, he’ll hold onto some of those passes this season too.

Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons - Both these teams took a major step forward last season and finished 11-5, but I expect them to move in opposite directions in 2009.  I don’t expect Dolphins’ Quarterback Chad Pennington to stay healthy for a second consecutive season, which indicates that “Quarterback of the Future” Chad Henne will find himself the Quarterback of the Present at some point this season.  The Dolphins won’t revert to their 1-15 form of 2007, but I don’t expect them to make the playoffs again this season either.  The Falcons are a different story - they are my pick to win this year’s Super Bowl.  I believe they will emerge as the top offense in football this season, and the infusion of youth into their defense should also pay big dividends.  It may take the Falcons’ defense a good part of the season to come together, so Dolphins worth starting this week include Pennington, RB Ronnie Brown, TE Anthony Fasano, WRs Tedd Ginn & Davone Bess, and K Dan Carpenter.  Falcons worth starting this week include QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, TE Anthony Gonzalez, WRs Roddy White & Michael Jenkins, and K Jason Elam.

Washington Redskins at New York Giants - Both teams feature suspect offenses and stout defenses, so this figures to be a low-scoring game, just as last year’s season-opener was.  Redskins worth starting include TE Chris Cooley and the Defense.  Giants worth starting include TE Kevin Boss and the Defense.  Not much to see or discuss here - let’s keep moving.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals - I’ve seen many football “experts” predicting the Steelers will repeat as Super Bowl champs, but I’ve yet to see anyone predict a rematch of Super Bowl XLIII.  That implies that most of these same experts are skeptical about the Cardinals’ ability to repeat last season’s success.  Count me among them.  Some will point to the departure of former Cardinals’ Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley, who’s know the Head Coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.  I think the more likely culprit will be Quarterback Kurt Warner’s inability to stay healthy for a second consecutive season.  I’m probably in the minority in believing that Matt Leinart can still be a successful NFL quarterback, but I don’t see it happening this season.  Much of the positive buzz surrounding the 49ers has to do with Head Coach Mike Singletary’s “winning ways”.  Unfortunately, being a star on the 1985 Chicago Bears doesn’t guarantee success as a coach in 2009.  49ers’ RB Frank Gore figures to have a good game Sunday and is worth starting, but he’s the only San Francisco player I like this weekend.  Cardinals worth starting include Warner, RB Tim Hightower (no, I’m not sold yet on Chris “Beanie” Wells in spite of his preseason performance), WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, & Steve Breaston, K Neil Rackers, and the Defense.  The Cardinals won’t repeat as NFC champs, but they’ll get their season off on the right foot (my apologies to you Joe Nedney fans out there).

St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks - These two teams combined to win all of 6 games last season, so it’s reassuring to know that one of them will start the 2009 season 1-0 (wait, Donovan McNabb just reminded me of the possibility of overtime ties during the regular season!)  Their combined win total could double this season, but if it does, it figures to be the Seahawks contributing the (sea?) lions’ share of that improvement now that Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is back in the saddle again.  Call it symbolic, but Rams’ QB Marc Bulger is already banged up heading into the season (injured pinkie on his throwing hand).  The Rams figure to rely heavily on RB Steven Jackson (as long as he remains healthy), and he should be started this week.  Other Rams to start include TE Randy McMichael, WR Donnie Avery, and K Josh Brown.  Seahawks to start include Hasselbeck, RB Julius Jones, TE John Carlson, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and K Olindo Mare.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers - Ever since Brett Favre shocked the world last month by coming out of retirement to play for the Vikings, Packers’ fans have had November 1st circled on their calendars - that’s the Sunday that #4 returns to Lambeau Field to face the team that he led to a Super Bowl victory what seems like 30 years ago.  Favre obviously holds no animosity towards his former team, so let the lovefest begin.  However, first the Packers have to contend with another division rival, led by the equally loveable Quarterback Jay Cutler.  Cutler, Running Back Matt Forte, and Tight End Greg Olsen are undeniable talents, but will the Bears’ receiving corps be able to keep pace?  The Devin Hester Project enters Year 3 - results remain inconclusive.  Both defenses feature household names (at least if you live in the Urlacher or Hawk households), but I still expect a high-scoring contest.  Bears to start include Cutler, Forte, Olsen, Hester, and K Robbie Gould.  Packers to start include QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Ryan Grant (one of my favorite “sleepers” for this season), TE Donald Lee, WRs Greg Jennings & Donald Driver, and K Mason “Taken!” Crosby.

Buffalo at New England - Are you ready for some football (squared)?  Barring any hurricanes or other “acts of God”, the first Monday night of the season is the only one to feature two games for your local watering hole’s viewing pleasure.  Regardless of whether they love or despise the Patriots, many football fans (Marshawn Lynch among them?) will tune in Monday night to see if The Brady Bundchen can return to their 18-1 heights of 2007.  In spite of the recent nonsense culminating in the firing of former Offensive Coordinator Turk Schonert, I still expect the Bills to contend for a wild card playoff spot this season.  While both defenses figure to improve as the season progresses, I expect a shootout in this game (with the Bradys winning).  Bills to start include QB Trent Edwards, fill-in RB Fred Jackson, WRs Terrell Owens & Lee Evans, and K Rian Lindell.  Patriots to start include Brady, RB Fred Taylor (isn’t he older than John Carney???), TE Chris Baker, WRs Randy Moss & Wes Welker, and K Stephen Gostkowski.

San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders - The second Monday night game features a team many people feel will be a Super Bowl contender (I’m not among them) versus a team many people feel will never be a Super Bowl contender again until Owner Al Davis “ceases to be involved” (I’m definitely among them).  Perhaps roughhousing Raiders’ Head Coach Tom Cable will invite LaGarrette Blount to give a pregame pep talk to get the Raiders fired up.  On second thought, that’s about as likely as Chargers’ Linebacker Shawne Merriman inviting Tila Tequila to give a pregame pep talk to get the Chargers fired up.  Chargers worth starting include QB Philip Rivers, RBs LaDainian Tomlinson & Darren Sproles, TE Antonio Gates, WRs Vincent Jackson & Chris Chambers, K Nate Kaeding, and the Defense.  The only Raider I’d start (and only if I had to) would be TE Zach Miller.  In deeper leagues you may also want to start Raiders’ RB Darren McFadden, but since he’ll be part of a Running Back By Committee situation and he’s going against the Chargers’ defense, hopefully you have better options.

That concludes my thoughts on this week’s games.  Making predictions about the opening weekend of the NFL season feels a bit like being blindfolded and swinging wildly at a dangling pinata, but that’s the nature of the beast.  Preseason football has next to no predictive value (does anybody really expect the Lions to win 75% of their games this season?), so those of us who engage in this weekly exercise have little more to go on at this point than our own analysis and hunches.  Hopefully, as the season unfolds, the weight will shift away from the hunches and towards the analysis.  Feel free to remind me if my recommendations don’t work out - you know where to find me!

Until next time,

The Sherpa

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