Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Smiles & Frowns: Fortunes Change Fast

If you made the post-season dance, I hereby extend my congratulations. If you didn’t, rest assured that fortunes change fast.

Just ask Mangenius, or the currently 0-12 Dolphins (picked preseason by Sports Illustrated last year to win the AFC), the Saints and Bears (appeared in last season’s NFC Championship game, currently at 5-7 apiece), Carrie Underwood (dumped by Romo) or the fantasy-owners of Vince Young and Shaun Alexander. At least Mangini lost a lot of weight.

You can also ask the Buccaneers (4-12 last year), the Browns (also 4-12 last year), Chris Chambers—traded mid-season from the winless Dolphins to the AFC West leading Chargers, Jeff Garcia—hero, throwaway and hero again, and Tony Romo—hero, goat and hero again (brief aside: a friend pointed out to me recently that since the realignment beginning in 2002, the last place team in the NFC South has finished first in the division the following season every year, and the Bucs will continue that bizarre tradition this year).

Things change fast in the NFL and fantasy football. People hop on and off the bandwagon. Actually, it’s not really a bandwagon anymore—it’s a more modern, accessible, swiftly moving vehicle. Those of you that picked Laurence Maroney in the first two rounds, it’s not your fault. And those of you who “took a chance” on another Patriot named Randy Moss in the third round, well done.

So if you didn’t make the post-season, go get some Cheez-Its and sulk for a while. If you did, good luck!

A look back at a couple important decisions from this past week:

Decision #1: RB Thomas Jones or RB LenDale White

Theory: Ignore the stats-- go with the better player

The Scenario: Heading into this game, Thomas Jones did not have a touchdown in the previous 11 games. He was also held to 67 or fewer yards in seven of those 11 games. The whole Jets team is underachieving. On the flipside, LenDale White followed up three 100-yard rushing games with a combined 81 yards in the following three games. He carried the ball only 29 times during that stretch for the sputtering Titans. White still had five more touchdowns entering Sunday’s games.

The Jets would play at Miami, ranked at the bottom in rushing defense. However, this was Miami’s “most winnable” game left on the slate this year. I expected the Dolphins would make a decent showing. The Titans were hosting Houston, also ranked in the bottom third for rushing defense. I also couldn’t ignore the fact that the Jets were underdogs to a defeated team while they’ve been playing “competitive” football all year. That had to spur some anger. So I decided to go with Thomas Jones, the veteran, twice a 1000-yard rusher, hoping that he would play angry. I felt he was the better player and the better option.

Aftermath: Almost a push. Both scored a touchdown. Jones rushed for 15 more yards, although he averaged only 3.1 yards per carry (Miami showed some pride).

Verdict: Push. You could make a decent case for both. In the end, Jones did have twice the number of carries as White. All you can really ask for is those opportunities.

Decision #2: WR Sidney Rice or WR Muhsin Muhammad

Theory: When you’re playing spoiler, you’re entitled to be irrational

The Scenario: My team has been out of contention for a while in one league. It’s a league where owners can trade players for future draft picks, and I had my “firesale” several weeks earlier. But I’ve been really enjoying the role of spoiler or the team that makes life more difficult, pouncing on every promising free agent.

This week, in what was guaranteed to be my last game of the season in that league, I was scheduled to play the first-placed team. I had a fairly competitive squad with Steven Jackson, my keeper, and a patchwork of guys including Kurt Warner and Kolby Smith. I needed to choose between Rice and Muhammad for the last receiver spot.

When you’ve got nothing to lose, I think you’re entitled to be irrational, so I decided to pick the guy with the better name. Mushin Muhammad offers alliteration, and it sort of flows off the tongue. He also has a good nickname, “Moose”, so it sounds like boooos when the home crowd calls him. On the other hand, Sidney Rice has the same last name as the best receiver in history of the game, Jerry Rice. Sidney Rice also flows off the tongue very well. I said the name out loud a couple times before deciding that Sidney Rice was the cooler name.

Aftermath: Sidney Rice caught five for 53 and a touchdown, compared to Muhammad’s three for 52 against a Giants secondary without starting free safety Gibril Wilson and corner Aaron Ross. My totally irrational decision-making paid off en route to an upset over the first placed team.

Verdict: Dumb luck.

Related Posts by Subject


B-Rad said...

What are your thoughts on the following players for my flex position:

DeShaun Foster
DeAngelo Williams
Fred Jackson
Dwayne Bowe
Brandon Marshall

I'm playing a strong team in the first round so I really need some points from my flex.


Brett Smiley said...

If you're playing what you describe as a strong team, it sounds like you're an underdog this week. Look for the high risk/high reward guy as well as past returns from each of those players. Of course you have to consider the matchups, too.

As between the receivers, I think you can cancel out Bowe from that crop because Marshall is the better option. Chiefs are reeling right now and Denver is never an easy place to play. Marshall is consistently getting a lot balls thrown his way, especially with Walker nursing an injury on field.

As for the running backs, the Panthers face Jacksonville's rushing defense which gets three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud back this week after a four game suspension. Stroud is large, and he is going to be angry. This doesn't bode well for DeShaun Foster or DeAngelo Williams. Foster also sat out practice Wednesday with concussion symptoms. Williams looked good when he came in for Foster, but if you need points, you don't want to have to guess against a good rushing defense.

As for Fred Jackson, he's also in a curious situation because Marshawn Lynch may return this week for the Bills. Lynch "practiced fully" this Wednesday. If Lynch does return, it's hard to predict how Jackson will fare. This is not a risk you want to take. However, if Lynch is ruled out, that changes things, but that does not seem to be likely.

Normally I like to go running back at flex, but based on your personnel, there doesn't seem to be a good high risk/high reward guy unless Lynch is ruled out. Go with Marshall. He's been consistent enough. He's your man.

B-Rad said...

Started Marshall and was victorious! Thanks.