Monday, July 21, 2008
Risk vs. Reward
This past weekend there was a writer's convention in northern California. Therewillbesports writers Walsh, Treater and myself indulged in debauchery of all sorts including hours upon hours of sports bickering (and Treater punching Walsh in the face only semi by accident and semi hard... seen above).
Several football mock drafts were completed, comtreated and comfaulked. In general, Peter (Treater) and I like and dislike the same players at all positions and Walsh, in last.fm terms, has high compatibility, but not quite super...
However all that jibba-jabba is besides the point. There was one, yes just one, glaring difference in our opinions and I found myself fighting a never ending battle. Where do you take your QB? The most crucial piece of information that you need to know as the opinionated reader is the standard CBS scoring system which is: 6 points for all touchdowns (rushing, receiving, throwing), 1 point for every 25 passing yards and 1 point for every 10 rushing or receiving yards. An interception is -2 and a fumble lost is -2 as well. As far as the roster positions: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1TE, 1 RB/WR, 1 K, 1 DEF and 5 bench spots.
Between last football season and this current baseball season I've learned a valuable fantasy lesson. The major mistake made in both leagues (football shared with Peter and baseball shared with Walsh) was taking the high risk / high reward guy at the positions that are thin, a.k.a. the positions that are impossible to fix without trade... I guess I gotta explain myself:
There are 16 teams in the National League. In our NL-only fantasy league there are 12 teams and each team starts two catchers (put your calculator away, I got your back) and that adds up to a total of 24 starting catchers. SO... that means that eight non-starting catchers will be taken by teams, because obviously they will not just keep an empty in that roster spot, and that also means that as far as free agents or the waiver wire is concerned, there ain't nothin' but a ghost town.
If you read my fantasy post part one then you know that we ended up with Carlos Ruiz - bust and Ronny Paulino - bust. Yes, we are still winning our league and yes we are going to win our league, but if we didn't make some ridiculously phenomenal pickups (which Walsh just wrote about below this post) that would not be the story.
Sure some people lucked out in their NL-onlys (IT WASN'T LUCK YOU FOOL! I KNEW HE WAS GOING TO BE AMAZING LBAHBLHALBHALHBLAH) with Soto and Doumit, but what about the humans that ended up with, other than Ruiz and Paulino, Towles, Estrada, Bard, Barrett, Ross, Iannetta or Snyder... I'll tell you whats happening with them. They're probably NOT in first in ALL FIVE PITCHING CATEGORIES like we are, and they're almost definitely not winning their leagues.
Starting any of those guys I just mentioned is an empty in terms of production and most of them even hurt your team with extremely low batting averages versus the top guys taken like R. Martin (.295, 10hr, 47rbi, 10sb), B. McCann (.302, 18hr, 56rbi, 2sb), B. Molina (.279, 6hr, 56rbi) or Y. Molina (.306, 4hr, 33rbi)...Why so serious?...
In last years co-owned FF team (Peter and myself) a similar thing happened. We were busy worrying about every other position then tight-end when a TE run happened right before our eyes. Our favorite sleeper (probably mostly because of Madden and media-hype) was Vernon Davis going in, but we missed out on him so we took Alge Dumpler. Well eventually later in the season when someone dropped Vernon we quickly picked him up and guess what, they were both the worst things ever! Yay! Booooooooo....Jason Witten last year is the Geovany Soto of this year. Remember though, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint these ridiculous statistical explosions...
Some other TE sleeperfails before last season included Greg Olsen (391 yds, 2 tds, finished 20th in fantasy points), Ben Watson (389 yds, 6 tds, 13th), Randy McMichael (429 yds, 3 tds, 16th) and Zach Miller (444 yds, 3 tds, 17th). By the way, Vernon Davis finished 15th and Alge finished 14th. In a twelve team league you're really not looking to draft a tight-end that will finish outside of the top.... TWELVE?!?!?! At the bare minimum I suppose.
Fixing your tight-end s***-storm will also require you to give up a lot because people realize when they're holding on tight (pun absolutely intended) to a guy like Tony G., that without him they'd have nothing in the roster spot which makes his value that much higher. Not to mention however many weeks you did suffer with a -10 to -15 point differential between you and your opponent in the tight-end spot week to week to Rickie Weeks.
It's those reasons exactly that, despite loving guys like the now New Orleans Saint Jeremy Shockey or potentially the next Colston- Dustin Keller, that I refuse to not have a top end tight-end. For the "reverse" reasons I feel that quarterback is a position where risks are worthy. There are 32 starting QBs to begin a season and in a twelve team league probably ten total quarterbacks are taken by the tenth round, when at that point I can take a low risk on two guys that I'm stoked about with extremely high upside such as Aaron Rodgers and Matt Leinart, while using my "extra" early pick to assist domination of another position. If my favorite QB sleeper works out then great, everything went according to plan and it's a very high chance that I have a substantial advantage in my top-end running back or WR against the other teams' favorite sleeper at the same position. If my fav. sleeper doesn't work out well then check the waivers or that other you guy you drafted... Check it.
Last year let's say someone goes Peyton (unquestionably the first QB taken) and Vernon Davis (or any of the other guys except Witten) which equals a total of 409 points in CBS versus someone who instead goes Gates or Tony G. (unquestionably the first two TEs taken) and either Romo (7th QB taken), Big Ben (13th), D. Anderson (undrafted), M. Hasselbeck (10th), Favre (16th) or Warner who was also pretty much not drafted in any leagues and my team wins. So right away there is two great options that weren't even drafted, not to mention other serviceable ones that were and are going to be available on waivers just because of depth and the inevitable injuries at the position.
Add on to the fact that Peyton was a unanimous first round pick in fantasy last year and Vernon, who went the highest of all the tight-end busts, was taken usually in the 7th round. That player difference creates a much, much bigger separation between "my" team and the evil combination of Peyton, Peter and Walsh. Plug-in ALL QBs except for the one out lier Tom Brady and you get the same results.
So take your Brady while I take Addai, I'll take my K. Winslow while you're sleeping on Rudi Johnson, Jon Stewart, LenWhale or Forte, and while you're taking your stud kicker, defense, or despicable backup player I will settle with my super high upside and not too high risk combination of A. Rodg and Leinart and I will win.
Fact or fiction?
WELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL I'm gonna have to go with fact here Tony...