By Jesse Carrajat
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In the beginning there was Fantasy Football.
And Fantasy Football was with form, and order, and lightness was upon the face of the bored.
And the spirit of joy moved upon the face of fans, especially those who cheered for awful NFL teams.
And in week one of 2010, Texans’ Coach Gary Kubiak said, Let there be confusion: and there was confusion. And Kubiak called the confusion: Arian Foster.
And in week three of 2010, Colts QB Peyton Manning said, Let there be chaos in the midst of the season, and let it cause great curiosity and anxiety amongst the fantasy world: and there was chaos. And Manning called the chaos: Austin Collie.
And in week four of 2010, author Jesse Carrajat said, Let us skip week four in this intro, because he just realized he skipped week two, and will thus use only odd-numbered integers because he is running out of ideas: And there was no week four in this intro.
And in week five of 2010, Bronco QB Kyle Orton said, Let the army of the average be gathered together unto one place, and let some talent appear: and it was so. And that talent was called: Orton’s mysterious new attribute. And the gathering together of the average was called his over-producing receivers….
The New NFL Testament: The Ten Commandments of 2010 Fantasy Football
Confusion, Chaos, and the advancement of the army of the average: This is just the beginning of the story of the creation of the 2010 NFL Fantasy Football Season. With five weeks of NFL action now on the books, there is only one thing that is certain in fantasy football this season: uncertainty. NFL teams appear to be taking radical steps away from the philosophy that a franchise’s success is reliant on unique/premiere athletic talent, and toward the philosophy that success depends upon a team’s overall system.
For proof, search no further than the rosters of the last three NFL Super Bowl Champions. Of the 2008 New York Giants, the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers, and the 2010 New Orleans Saints, only ONE offensive positional player was voted to the NFL Pro-Bowl the year their team won the Super Bowl: Saints QB Drew Brees. Outside of the quarterback position, NFL teams are relying on a multitude of equally able-bodied pass-catchers and rock-runners to get the job done.
Under-center, coaches and fans alike are employing less patience with their signal callers than Chris Berman does with incompetent stagehands. 49 NFL quarterbacks have attempted a pass through week five. What does this all mean for fantasy football fans? It means we must re-write the book on how we handle our fantasy football rosters. It means in order to guarantee our trip to the post-season Promised Land, we must follow a new set of laws that govern how we survive in an increasingly unpredictable NFL environment.
Behold, my brothers and sisters: The Ten Commandments of 2010 Fantasy Football.
10th: Thou shalt not covet a dome-kicker
Regardless of whether it’s setting the human record for bodily methamphetamine tolerance (Sebastian Janikowski) or setting the human record for Napoleon Complexity (David Akers), it’s about time we all start showing our steel-toed titans some well-warranted respect.
Now, here is the kicker: when paying respect, dome or no-dome does not matter (and you bet your ass that pun was intended). A solid NFL kicker, on a solid offensive team, should be started week in and week out, regardless of the structural design of their current stadium or the geographical locations on their current schedule.
In 2009, four of the top five NFL fantasy kickers did NOT play for a team with a dome stadium, while every top-ten kicker played for a team ranked in the top fifteen in total offense. Further, six of the top ten fantasy kickers played for teams in frigid fall/winter climates: Green Bay, Denver, Pittsburgh, Foxborough, Philadelphia, and New York. So, use your dome, start a stud kicker, dome or not.
9th: Thou shalt honor thy defensive match-ups
In the real world, the 1985 Bears, the 2001 Ravens, and the 1995 People vs. OJ Simpson criminal trial have taught us all one valuable lesson: it’s all about your defense. However, in the fantasy world, the majority of team owners disregard the shutdown ability of a stout defense in hopes that their top-tier positional player will produce. This practice is self-defeating. Thus far in 2010, three of the top-five drafted running backs have faced a defense that is currently ranked top-five against the run: TEN Chris Johnson vs. Steelers – 7 FP, BAL Ray Rice vs. Jets – 7 FP and vs. Steelers – 3 FP, and MIN Adrian Peterson vs. Jets – 11 FP. For other offensive positions, the results are similar. Honor thy match-ups, and ensure thy success.
8th: Thou shalt not honor NFL wide receiver depth charts
In the olden days of fantasy football, the good ole’ depth chart was an invaluable tool for predicting a wide receiver’s potential production. Most NFL teams featured a dominant number one WR, with a clearly established and reliable number two. For every Michael Irvin, there was an Alvin Harper. For every Isaac Bruce, there was a Torry Holt, and so on.
Nowadays, WR depth charts are the hedge funds of fantasy analysis, they are costly and unreliable for those who choose to invest in them. According to CBSSports.com, for 16 of the 32 NFL teams, the top-two wide receivers currently listed on their depth chart are not the top-two fantasy producing wide receivers on the field. Further, on the Bengals, Broncos, Colts, Eagles, Packers, Saints, and Steelers, the WR listed first on the depth chart is isn’t even the top-producing receiver on the team. Outside of your obvious Roddy Whites and Reggie Waynes of the fantasy world, WR depth charts are a re-active information source, constantly shuffling to reflect the past week’s production.
To stay on top of the game, monitor past weekly targets and future defensive match-ups, and start and acquire receivers accordingly.
7th: Thou shalt implement “red-zone targets/touches” into thou scouting repertoire
Whether we like it or not, NFL coaches aren’t paid to bolster fantasy stats; they are paid to win games, which involves putting points on the board. When a team’s offense enters the red-zone, the personnel packages, play-calling tendencies, and ensuing fantasy production all undergo a subtle or dramatic change. In a season with so many contributors and so little guarantees, targeting players with extensive goal-line touches or targets is an excellent way to gain a much-needed edge over the competition (in a non-Barry Bonds kind of way).
6th: Thou shalt create your own weekly fantasy column/blog (or at least tell people that you did)
If you are currently in a romantic relationship, or somebody somewhere at least cares what you choose to do with your time, then I must urge you to seriously consider following this sixth commandment. If you do, blowing off a niece’s graduation, a brother’s court appearance, or an acquaintance’s funeral on NFL Sunday will never have been easier, I promise.
Scene: As you joyfully sit perched in front of your widescreen TV with drink, treats, and laptop all within arm’s reach, your irritated wife/GF yells from the other room for you to accomplish some mundane task. There is no better feeling on earth than being able to reply with, “BABE, CAN’T YOU SEE I’M WORKIN’ HERE!!” Feel free to follow up with some exaggerated reference to the “millions of subscribers” that are relying on your priceless and ingenious weekly fantasy insights.
5th: Thou shalt not hesitate to secure a future bye-week replacement
The common practice in most fantasy leagues is to wait until the week of a player’s bye to secure their bye-week replacement. However, more often than not, the majority of productive players are snagged from the waiver wire well within the first month of the NFL season.
It is much better practice to scoop up a productive fantasy contributor early, regardless of whether or not they will immediately break into your starting lineup. In one of my leagues in which only one QB may start per week, I began the season with SD’s Phillip Rivers as the only QB on my squad. Rivers is a must-start fantasy QB, and does not have a bye until week ten. However, when I saw that DEN QB Kyle Orton threw for Nile River yards in his first three games, I locked him up immediately. Now, come week ten, I will have a legitimate replacement at QB, as opposed to choosing between your Jake Delhommes and Matt Cassels of the world.
4th: Thou shalt never send lewd photos to a diabolical wench
……….or to anyone, for that matter
3rd: Thou shalt utilize multiple D/STs
It’s the most common mistake amongst fantasy football players, and a sure-fire recipe for failure: Leaving your fantasy football roster maximized on your web browser while away from your desk at work will undoubtedly result in your ass getting canned. The second most common mistake is just as disastrous and equally as avoidable: drafting and starting one Defense/Special Teams unit for the majority of the year. Just as it is important to start your offensive players based on defensive match-ups, it is valuable to consider offensive match-ups when choosing your D/ST, especially if your league uses the range scoring system.
2nd: Thou shalt avoid all trades that solidify a formidable opponent’s roster
Some people play fantasy football to “socialize,” “keep in touch with the guys,” or “express their healthy inner-competitive spirit.” If you are one of these people, than you probably throw a football like Jimmy Johnson. Real men and woMEN play fantasy football to WIN, end of story.
Middle of story: Thus, when you conduct ANY transaction during your fantasy season, it should be done in accordance with winning the entire league, NOT just the current week. Specifically, when contemplating a trade, be sure to consider the END result for the other team, not just the magnitude of your OWN team’s improvement. The LAST thing you want to do is give an already powerful team that last MISSING piece TO their puzzle, solidifying A juggernaut THAT will most likely win the entire LEAGUE. The first thing you WANT to do is REALIZE that I have capitalizing RANDOM words, aNd nOW leTTers, just to confuse YOU.
1st: Thou shalt remember to keep holy thy playoffs
It’s great to be dominant during the regular season, but you win your league in the fantasy playoffs, which require an entire different strategy for success. The standard fantasy football playoff period lasts three weeks and starts in week 13. If you plan on winning your league championship, you should start preparing your roster well before the playoffs begin.
By week 15, it is common practice for NFL playoff contenders that have locked in their playoff positioning to begin subbing out their established starters. Simultaneously, teams who have been clearly eliminated from playoff contention will begin spreading the ball around to rookies and backups to evaluate their future talent (see Jerome Harrison and Jamaal Charles last year). As your playoffs approach, evaluate the future of the team’s that your fantasy starters play for, take steps to prepare for any late season drop-offs or productivity boosts, and modify your roster accordingly.
Here, laugh at this caption:
“Brett, wait, are you tellin’ me the only thing you was wearin’, was Crocs? You’re a sick dude.”
“I know, ain’t it great?! BAHAHA. She was probably like, ‘WTF?!?’”
Week Four “Un-Googleable Trivia” Question
While in college, which former New York Jet wrote for his alma mater’s school paper under a secret alias?
Answer: While at Marshall University, QB Chad Pennington wrote for the school newspaper, The Parthenon, while also broadcasting on the school radio station, both done under a pseudonym to avoid distractions.
Week Six “Un-Googleable Trivia” Question
Which former New York Giant started a hunting resort in a mid-western US state while still playing in the NFL, but not with the Giants?