Saturday, July 10, 2010

FDH Fantasy Newsletter: Volume III, Issue XXVII

Welcome to our 92nd edition of the FDH Fantasy Newsletter, as we continue to bring you weekly fantasy sports updates in addition to our usual content on Our archive of past editions is available right here on The Blog and specific links to past editions are available on the front page of

In this week's edition, we are starting to serialize our forthcoming FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFTOLOGY 2010 guide and as such, we bring you our FDH five fantasy football guidelines for 2010.

FDH Five Fantasy Football Guidelines for 2010

^ The first round ain’t the first round anymore. Well, it is, literally, but not in any of the “feel” ways that matter in your gut. You don’t have to inch down many spots from the top to feel real trepidation about the price you are paying for the players available (Ray Rice? Isn’t he prone to getting TD-vultured a lot? Michael Turner? What was HIS story last year? Steven Jackson? Won’t he be seeing a ton of eight-in-the-box?). If your preparation has been thorough – and it should of course start with our draft materials! – then ignore those feelings. It’s classic overthinking to avoid players at this point just because they don’t “feel right.” If you’re completely honest with yourself, nobody is going to “feel right” at this point. The majority of players will actually BE right in the end, though (relative to the other players in that vicinity), and what matters is navigating the landscape of the possible to the best of your ability. Having said that, though, the second, third and even fourth-round picks take on weight that would have seemed unlikely a few years back, as the age of “win with two studs and merely good production in the rest of the lineup” is gone.

^ RB tandems and rotations don’t have to be your enemy. The first point relates largely to the league-wide trend that we have been following since 2005 of what we call the “2/3 – 1/3 model” with the dominant tailback becoming nearly extinct in favor of a system where one back is the clear lead but the #2 plays a significant role. With more of those old-school, every-down backs still in circulation, there would be more of a feeling of certainty in Round One. Having said that, though, this more complicated terrain can still be navigated in fine fashion by the uber-prepared. Recognize that “handcuffing” is a technique that is more relevant than ever. It first gained widespread attention early in the 2000s – an example back then would see an owner hedging his early pick of Priest Holmes with Larry Johnson. Now, with #2 RBs generally worth more than they were then – for reasons outlined above – it’s harder to handcuff your top back or perhaps even your second one without overpaying, although it’s still a good idea on those occasions when you can get value. However, handcuffing your #3 and #4 RBs can be worthwhile also and can be done by paying cheap, late-round prices. Jamal Lewis had nothing but a trail of particulate matter behind him on the bench last year according to the coaching staff, but if you had believed in the upside in Jerome Harrison, you would have really profited down the stretch. Larry Johnson was another aging back without anybody behind him that Todd Haley wanted to turn to, but when circumstances made a move inevitable, Jamal Charles really produced. Granted, some of these depth charts can seem somewhat inscrutable on Draft Day, but if you target one or two and make educated guesses, you can end up holding a winning lottery ticket.

^ Whether on Draft Day or during the season, don’t overthink. This also ties back to the first point somewhat in the sense that deciding against a first-round pick purely because something about it causes you discomfort is an insufficient reason. It is critical to follow your board during the course of the draft, keeping in mind to zig where everyone else zags, but it is equally if not more important to trust it as the season progresses. Generally speaking, your first few picks are players who should be left in the lineup every week if they are healthy. Football is the major fantasy sport with the smallest sample size by far and as such, the highs and lows are magnified to a degree that invites over-analysis. Now, the question of motive has to surface here as to why the industry operates this way. While fantasy football is the game for the masses, it is also the one with the most luck involved in it and the one where an owner is most likely to be completely screwed with a bad draft. Sadly, these truths are not much propagated in an industry that consists of so many touts peddling tales of their own indispensable qualities. Encouraging overthinking is in their own narrow interest. We heard our share of touts playing upon the general sense of disgust with Matt Forte and encouraging owners to bench him. While his 929 yards rushing and four touchdowns were a harsh letdown for a consensus high first-round pick, they were also in all likelihood better than anything you had in the deepest crevices of your bench. We assure you, there is nothing punitive towards the likes of Forte when you bench him, only your own bottom line. Unless you had a breakout player like Jerome Harrison on your bench – keeping in mind that there are of course exceptions to every rule – you would have been better off taking your medicine with Forte and hoping for the best. It’s fine to “play the matchups,” but by and large, you should leave that to the more marginal parts of your lineup.

^ If scarcity equals value, then plenty equals less value. While the running back position has been working its way through its own evolution over the past few years and the wide receiver position isn’t wildly different than in past years, the quarterback and tight end slots are certainly deeper than usual. TE is probably deeper than it’s ever been, which greatly depresses the value of top stars like Dallas Clark and Antonio Gates. Instead of a top tier that runs about four or five deep, this year most estimates would peg it going down to at least eight or nine and that is a radical difference in terms of where the big boys should fall. At quarterback, the difference is slightly less dramatic – a top tier that has expanded from about six players to about nine – but it is accompanied by a second tier brimming with more breakout candidates than usual. Whether you are looking at Carson Palmer with his newly renovated receiving core or Mike Shanahan statistical reclamation project Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb at the helm of the Philly offense or young stud Matt Ryan or Chad Henne (now paired up with Brandon Marshall), you have a great many highly intriguing possibilities. Remember that Matt Schaub was ranked on this tier by most last year and look at his progression during the season. You can certainly wait on a top QB this year, although of course you want to snag somebody still on that top tier and then grab somebody on the next level who you feel could constitute excellent trade bait come midseason.

^ The rookie crop should be somewhere between the flukish highs of ’08 and the downer of ’09. Neither of the past two seasons should be taken as a guide to this year’s rookie landscape – but the land in-between? That’s another story. San Diego RB Ryan Mathews, the heir to LT in that sweet offense, is the most likely candidate for a huge year. While none of the rest are likely to exceed him, there are some decent candidates to ascend to the level of RB1 or RB2 by year’s end. Scatbacks CJ Spiller of Buffalo and Jahvid Best of Detroit would be blazing the same trail as Chris Johnson, so they can’t be ruled out purely because of size (the very similar Joe McKnight is likely to be crowded out in Year One in New York because of the need to get LT carries as a backup). Conversely, power backs Ben Tate of Houston and Montario Harvesty have opportunities to fill move-the-chains voids for their new teams. WRs Dez Bryant of Dallas, Golden Tate of Seattle and WR Demaryius Thomas of Denver all start the year with WR3 potential and the chance to ascend to something more.


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