Fantasy Football Answers, Courtesy of Fantasy Football Metrics

Use the Schwartz, Kraken

Below are the answers to some of the questions submitted by you guys earlier this week.  May the Schwartz be with you.

Note from RC Fischer at

*Note, Fantasy Football Metrics looks at player performance in a couple unique ways. One, we do not include Week-17 games in evaluating player performance/PPG for Fantasy Football (as we think this is skewed performance data for a variety of reasons). Two, we consider fractional games played where logical, i.e. if a player plays a half of a game, and misses the 2nd-half due to injury...we will count the performance as 0.5 games played. Keep those two items in mind when considering our statistical references. Thanks
Greg Olsen: Will he have a break out year with a new QB dumping passes off to him? Also, will he help Steve Smith attain pro-bowl level again?
The problem with Greg Olsen for Fantasy Football 2011 is that the formula of great TE + inexperienced/rookie QBs, never really works out well for high-level/break-out statistical production. We think Olsen is an ultra-talent, one of the most gifted receiving TEs in the NFL...but it's likely he will not have a breakout season in 2011, if history is our guide. Let's look at the last 3 years of top draft pick QBs matched with respectible/good NFL TEs:
Colt McCoy with Ben Watson (5.8 FF PPG, 9.9 PPG PPR)
Sam Bradford with Daniel Fells (3.1 FF PPG, 5.7 PPR PPR)
Mark Sanchez with Dustin Keller (4.5 FF PPG, 7.7 PPG PPR)
Kellen Winslow with Josh Freeman (7.5 FF PPG, 12.3 PPG PPR)
Joe Flacco with Todd Heap (3.7 FF PPG, 5.8 PPG PPR)
The 2009 Kellen Winslow output was fringe top-10 worthy among TEs, but was a lower per game output than he had produced the prior 3 seasons. Good/great receiving TEs don't seem to break-out with inexperienced QBs. The top Fantasy Football TEs each season are typically paired with an elite NFL QB. We probably wouldn't know who Dallas Clark is...if he was not matched with Peyton Manning for all these years.
Mix the inexperienced QB issue with the fact that it's very suspect that the WR-core for the Panthers will be able to take the heat off of Olsen. You've likely seen what I've seen in the preseason -- the Panthers seem like they are looking for Olsen every play. The problem with that is, opposing defensive cooridandors are seeing that too...and are going to want to take that security blanket away. If the Panthers counter that with a lot of two TE sets in the passing game...then Olsen will give some targets/stats over to Jeremy Shockey, further reducing his targets.
We love Olsen's talent, but not projecting a 2011 breakout given the circumstances.
Can Steve Smith be a Pro-Bowl level WR again? I would say yes he can, but not on the Panthers in 2011. Everything that we mentioned about Greg Olsen, could be attributed to Steve Smith for 2011. Setting injuries aside, Steve Smith hasn't gotten worse over the past couple seasons...the Carolina QB situation has. Larry Fitzgerald went from a perpetual top-WR in the NFL/Fantasy Football for years statistically, then "dropping" to just a very good top 15-20 WR (statistically) for Fantasy Football last year. Fitzgerald didn't get worse, the Arizona QB situation did.
Smith is worth taking a shot on for Fantasy Football 2011 if the value is right. However, he is usually remembered as the "Steve Smith of old"...and is taken higher than he should be. If Smith is available after the 100th pick, 40th+ Fantasy Football WR taken; it could be a smart value/nice gamble. I wouldn't reach for him in the 2011 Fantasy Football Draft due to the "bad impact" that inexperienced QBs have on good WRs productivity.

Where does Peyton Manning fall this year in QB rankings?  His fantasy numbers dropped last year and now we don’t know how his neck should respond. Where should FF teams look to draft Manning?
This is even more timely now that Kerry Collins has been signed. We would look at Manning as a high-risk/high-reward, possible huge value pick right now. Typically, Manning is a no-brainer top 3-4 drafted for Fantasy Football among QBs. After a weaker 2010 and neck issues, he had been tracking 6th-7th among all Fantasy Football QBs taken.
We have been advising clients NOT to take him as their primary starting Fantasy Football QB already this year, because there are so many better/similar options among top 5-6 QBs. However, we are now advising clients to disrupt their draft board/strategy in leagues where the QB is more valuable on a statistical/relative scoring basis -- i.e. leagues where a passing TD is worth 6 points and/or there are 300+ yard game bonuses.
The strategy we are discussion on Peyton is -- if Manning falls to the 8-10th QB available in your draft (6th-7th+ Round)...why not secure him as a back-up QB/valuable trade chip? In theory, if you have already taken Rodgers, Vick, Brees, etc., you theoretically don't need a QB for the first 4 weeks (pre-Bye weeks starting) of the NFL/FF Manning has time to recoup and/or get back in the groove. If Manning is back at full-strength by Week 3-4-5, you have landed a top Fanasy Football QB and only spent a 6th-7th+ Round pick to do it (one of my clients got Peyton in the 8th-Round just this evening). How much trade value will Peyton have if he's back Week 1 or 2 and throws for 300+ yards and 3 TDs? All the fear of a lost season will turn to how the rest did him good.
We are advising clients to take advantage of the fear out there if Manning slides a ton, and if they have the stomach for it...especially if they already drafted the high-injury risk, elite Fantasy Football QB named Michael Vick. A Vick/Manning combo would make me feel better about Fantasy Football 2011 than Vick paired with a sketchy 2nd-QB. Obviously, this strategy has risk if Manning never hits the this is not for the faint of heart.
Side Note -- don't worry about people laughing if you took 2 QBs in the first 7-8 Rounds, after they chuckle, they might be the same ones begging you to trade Peyton to them in Week-4. Don't be a sheep in Fantasy Football Drafts and follow the "rules"...the rule should be to smartly acquire elite talent/assets at the best value possible. What are the odds your 8th-Round pick WR is really on your team by Week-2, or has had any meaningful contribution? What can you get in trade for a normal Peyton Manning mid-season?...probably a lot better than what you would have taken in the 8th-Round of the Draft. Risky, but intriguing...


Where should he be picked if his lockout continues through the remainder of the preseason?

I would be worried about Chris Johnson's contract situation if I have a top 3-10 overall Fantasy Football pick, and I'm thinking about taking him. There are so many other great options to consider in Round-1, why invite this trouble into your Fantasy Football life? If he falls into the mid-2nd we have an interesting discussion. Should Johnson fall to #15-20+ overall in your Fantasy Football Draft, I think you have to consider altering your draft plan to accommodate him...even if just to trade him the second he signs his contract.

We're a little skittish on Johnson for Fantasy Football 2011, even if Johnson signed his contract today -- all because of the Titans opening schedule. We hate early schedules that have the tendency to cut our elite/heavily depended upon player's FF scoring down to start the season. The first 6 weeks of 2011, Johnson faces -- JAC, BAL, DEN, CLE, PIT, BYE. Johnson has not faired well against the BAL/PIT type defenses as of late. If Johnson is squashed in Week 2 & 5, with a Week-6 BYE...then through the first 6 weeks of 2011, Johnson may only be useful for 50% of them. -- which is not a good early (ROI) return-on-investment for as high as CJ is taken.

If I'm taking an elite QB/WR/RB in Round-1, I'm not taking one with a rough starting schedule. Think about the psychological issues a bad start has caused in your past Fantasy Football seasons...and Ray Rice 2010 was a great example. Last year, Rice starts out slow (first 4 games = NYJ, CIN, CLE, PIT); and my emails were lit up with Fantasy owners in panic. We were trading for a declined value Ray Rice in Weeks 5-7 all day long, and it paid off once the schedule relented. Don't be the one on the other end of one of those panic trades, when you can help it...and a Chris Johnson bad-start situation, is one you can properly avoid.

You can see it now for Johnson -- Week-1 vs. JAC, maybe has an OK game, maybe is a little slow due to lack of preseason time. Week-2, the Ravens sit on 2 weak/bad games, and panic will ensue. Be ready to swoop in on that panic and be the beneficiary, not be the one who is panicked. If I'm wrong, then you took some other elite RB in the 1st-Round and you are likely fine anyway. Chris Johnson's best 2011 Fantasy Football value is to pass on him early, and try to trade for him on a reduced value later.

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