Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Smiles & Frowns: Judgment Week

If, but, well…maybe.

Any Given Sunday.


A lot of leagues will be put a period on regular season play this week, and before the games begin—and surely after—so many owners will toil over the “ifs.”

Just look at this past week:

If Heinz field weren’t an above ground pool on Monday night, Pittsburgh’s kicker Jeff Reed probably would have scored more points.

If Carolina had a quality, half-decent, or even slightly below average quarterback on the right side of age forty, Steve Smith probably would have scored more points.

If the Denver coaching staff weren’t so stubborn or too proud to kick the ball out of bounds, Devin Hester and the Bears Defense & Special Teams wouldn't have manhandled my squad.

No matter how much we know, or think we know, we never really know what’s going to happen week to week. You can’t count on anything, especially in the NFL (a good time to direct your attention back to the Tony Romo botched hold on the extra point in Seattle last year). And that’s the beauty of it all. The same is true in fantasy football, and that principle is never more pronounced than in week thirteen. So whatever you’re fighting for this week thirteen—the number-one seed, a first-round bye, a playoff berth or respectability, or if you’re just jockeying for position, take what you know and hopefully you won’t find yourself on the wrong side of the “if.”

But, if you do screw up, well, maybe you’ll have better luck next year.

A look back at some of the key decisions from this past week:

Decision #1: WR Ronald Curry or WR Javon Walker

Theory: Beware of the player returning from an injury

The Scenario: My squad was matched up against one of the weaker teams in the league, and I was looking to lock up a playoff spot with a win. Walker was hoping to return to action after missing the previous eight games with a knee injury. I had been monitoring Walker’s status all week, hoping to get a vote of confidence, and shortly before game-time this is a portion of what I found: "It's feeling pretty good.” And, “It's not completely healed. But it's something I can work through. It feels good.” That’s like the assurance from one guy to his friend about the girl he met the night before after one too many jack and cokes: “I think she was cute. I didn’t get a good look, but I think she was cute.” Not much of an assurance at all, Jovan.

As much as I wanted to throw Walker back into my lineup, the first receiver I took during the draft, I couldn’t. Not for his first game back, on the road, with QB Jay Cutler having an up and down season. So I went with Curry who has been hot and cold. The majority of receivers are anyways.

The Aftermath: Jovan was only on the field for eight plays and dropped a goose egg. Curry caught six, but for only 39 yards. Still, six and 39 more than Jovan.

Verdict: Good call. As I discussed in a previous week—names don’t win games. Avoid the temptation of starting a guy just because you drafted him high.

Decision #2: QB Carson Palmer or QB Tony Romo
Note: Opponent has T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Theory: Start the guy you would normally start; don’t attempt the “handcuff”

The Scenario
: Okay, this is actually a hypothetical, but a decision many of you, and myself, have faced before: whether to start the quarterback throwing to your opponent’s #1 WR instead of the quarterback you would otherwise start. I’ll refer to that as attempting to “handcuff” your opponents’ wide receiver, because you’re trying to assure that any points the receiver gets, your quarterback will get. And, the hope is that your quarterback will spread the ball around elsewhere so you can still throw up some points without opponent’s receiver getting much of them. It makes sense, sort of. But here’s the thing: if you’ve got a quarterback that is probably a better start, or clearly the guy you would go with otherwise, you’re giving up a lot of points, potentially, to try and gain the advantage of a handcuff.

The Aftermath: Hypothetically, Palmer goes 20/25 for 200 and two touchdowns, one to Housh and one to Chad Johnson, and Romo goes 20/25 for 300 and four touchdowns. Well, you’ve made sure that Housh didn’t break you, and you benefit from the Johnson touchdown, but Romo would have provided a much greater total.

Verdict: Of course, this could go the other way, and Housh could explode (via Palmer) and Romo could wet the bed. But the real football adage guides this theory—don’t let your opponent dictate your move(s). Stick with your guys.

Decision #3: WR Mike Furrey or WR Amani Toomer

Theory: Use your head

The Scenario: Okay, this wasn’t a decision I had to make this week, but it’s one you and I have faced before: the temptation to start a guy because he’s in a televised game (or as common, on your favorite team). My brother actually faced this very predicament on Thanksgiving with Furrey and the Lions playing the early game. He wasn’t thrilled with either option, but in the thick of a playoff hunt, he still had to carefully evaluate this decision. Going into the game, Furrey had been consistent with exactly five receptions and a bunch of yards in six of the first ten games. Toomer has been serviceable and would be facing the 32nd ranked Minnesota passing defense (we know how that turned out). Furrey would face an average Green Bay pass defense, as one among a group of productive Lions WR’s this year. Debatable, but both my brother and I knew he should probably start Toomer.

The Aftermath: He couldn’t resist the temptation of watching Furrey live on Thanksgiving Day. Furrball caught zero passes for zero yards; Toomer had four for 83.

Verdict: Bad idea. I love Thanksgiving.

Related Posts by Subject