Fantasy Football Answers to CSR questions

Thanks to RC for the insights provided.  It's all for real, starting tonight, so everybody's looking for an edge in their Fantasy League.  They're running a "Question of the Day" feature over at FFM, that I must recommend, even if I want to keep it for my own selfish purposes.  So without further ado, I give you answers to some very important FFL questions.

*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

QUESTION – "We know the Steelers, Ravens, Jets, and Bears should have good defenses. Is there anyone else you would put in that group that would be considered a "sleeper"?

Of the more popular "name" defenses, one we think gets overlooked is the San Diego Chargers. Last season, the Chargers Defense was rated in our top-5 (scoring systems differ, but they were like #4-6 in most any league). They were near the top of the league in Sacks last year, plus the Chargers Defense had good output for Fantasy Football despite having a below-average amount of fumble recoveries. The Chargers have a very favorable schedule in 2011 -- besides Week-2 with Tom Brady and Week-9 with Aaron Rodgers…they have a pretty comfortable schedule. Having KC, OAK, and DEN in their division twice, is an added benefit.

A Team-Defense that has moved into our Top-12 for 2011, that most won’t have anywhere near that is the Houston Texans. We base that on the incredible upgrade in talent, this year -- Demeco Ryans is back from injury, and they added Danieal Manning and Jonathan Joseph in Free Agency, plus added a proven D-Coordinator in Wade Phillips.

The topper for us with the Texans -- is the drafting of JJ Watt. We base all of our Fantasy Football work and projections on a computer model/Moneyball-esque type approach…including college player scouting with computer models. We have done most all of our work with Offense, and have begun to dabble in defensive player theory…if any of our early defensive work is to be trusted, JJ Watt is going to be a franchise type defensive player.

Add all that with the fact that the Texans now get to face Kerry Collins, Luke McCown, and Jake Locker twice this season…and it could be an awesome Fantasy Football run for the Texans Defense (the Fantasy Football playoff stretch Week 14-15-16 is possibly – Dalton, Newton, K. Collins).

QUESTION = "What do you make of Tim Hightower"

We’re mostly NOT buyers of Hightower for Fantasy Football 2011, mostly on valuation and risk concerns. The rise of Hightower up the draft lists makes sense – you have to respect any RB that’s going to get the bulk of the workload...but there may be better RB value for as high as Hightower is now taken.

Our question is…will Hightower really get the full workload? Hightower is not an immense talent, but he is certainly solid. The Redskins have other talented RBs – Ryan Torain and Roy Helu. They say Hightower is "the man," but the Redskins also said 4 RBs were "the man" last year. Clinton Portis started poorly and got hurt last year , then we all got excited about Ryan Torain, then Keiland Williams, then James Davis…all along Mike Shanahan was telling us how great all of them were.

Are you ready to trust the coach who told us not long ago that, "he knows QBs, and John Beck was going to be a star"…but then decided on Rex Grossman? He also had confidence in Grossman over Donovan McNabb last year. Either Shanahan is a mad genius, or just mad. We don’t trust anything Mike Shanahan says, as it pertains to Fantasy Football.

Keep in mind the Arizona Cardinals had Hightower for 3 years, and basically gave him away this year. Hightower has lost 4 fumbles in each of the last two seasons, while only averaging less than 10 carries a game both seasons….a lost fumble every 37 carries the past two seasons combined. How long do you think Shanahan will put up with that? For as high as the price is on Hightower, we’ll go somewhere else and try to avoid the risk.

QUESTION = "Is the St. Louis Rams defense for real or just a product of playing in a terrible division?"

Yes, we think they are for real. Yes, they were helped by facing dreadful QBs in 2010. No, I would not touch them for Fantasy Football 2011.

We like where the Rams are headed, we really like what Steve Spagnuolo brings to the table as the Head Coach, and we can see the Rams in the Super Bowl soon…just not this year. It could have been this year, maybe…but their opening schedule is going to rock them, as well as destroying their Defense as a Fantasy Football play to start 2011.

The Rams Defense starts the season facing the following QBs/Offenses – Vick, Eli, Flacco, Grossman, BYE, Rodgers, Romo, Brees, Kolb, McCoy. The Rams will not see the Alex Smith/Tavaris Jackson benefits until Week-11 and beyond. The Rams will likely struggle this season, and so will there Defense…not that they will implode, just not a huge upside for Fantasy Football 2011 with this schedule.

QUESTION = "For those that drafted Peyton Manning, would it be wise to add Kerry Collins?"

Much like the Colts franchise, if you add/rely on Kerry Collins for your 2011 Fantasy Football season…the season is likely over before it started.

Depending upon what else is out there, maybe it is your only hope. We’re seeing reports that Peyton may be done for 2011, so if your back is against the wall…you might have to add Collins. Collins will be 39 years old this season, and he just joined a team a few weeks ago with a bad O-Line…there is nothing that looks good about this situation for Fantasy Football 2011. Collins has the Texans, Browns, and Steelers to start 2011…our guess is he won’t make it past Week-3.

QUESTION = "Which Kickers do you think are under-valued or over-valued? I’m looking for a last round sleeper, though it’s just as easy to get someone off the wire after Week-1"

We run a lot of theory and computer modeling to try to figure out Kickers for Fantasy Football, but it is mostly folly.

The one trend we like (not love) – the higher scoring kickers for Fantasy Football, typically tend to correlate to playing with the better/elite QBs/Offenses. If that is true, you should take Shawn Suisham and Neil Rackers more seriously for this season…and Adam Vinatieri just crashed and burned for value.

Actually, my favorite Fantasy Football kicker trend is to take kickers with the last name Janikowski.

Good kickers, under-the-radar/likely waiver available now, that may have an upside with an emerging offense – Matt Prater and Jason Hanson.

Thanks for the opportunity to share our opinions and data.
Good Luck to all in Week-1,
RC Fischer, Fantasy Football LLC

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