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Fantasy Superbowl Predictions

NFL junkies have plenty to think about during the season. We can watch games all day each Sunday and every Monday night and often on Thursdays and Saturdays. We can catch games that we missed when they are rebroadcast by the NFL network. We can read all sorts of publications concerning the NFL. And we can surf the web endlessly for rumors, gossip, and breaking news.

Those of us who play fantasy football can put all of this information to work in the form of cutting injured stars, acquiring up-and-coming no-namers, and even working trades—particularly when our trading partners are twelve to twenty-four hours behind the latest news cycle. It keeps us all very busy and makes us very happy from late August through early January.

But what are we to do with the rest of the year? Some of us play fantasy baseball, but that’s not for everyone. I used to wonder what in the world could be duller than baseball; I found out when some friends tried to get me to play fantasy baseball. Some of us play fantasy golf, but I’m pretty sure it was Mark Twain who said that fantasy golf is a good sit at the computer spoiled.

Others of us simply gear up for the next NFL season. We carefully prepare our spreadsheets and meticulously enter data concerning fumble recoveries and missed field goals. We study the NFL draft. We listen for reports concerning NFL players who are dealing with off-season injuries or legal troubles. We try to think through the implications of various coaching changes around the league.

All that stuff is fine so far as it goes, but it isn’t the sort of thing we talk about. My spreadsheets are my business, thank you. And if you ask me what I think the coaching changes in San Diego will mean for LaDainian Tomlinson, the one thing I’m not going to tell you is the truth.

The only thing that leaves for diehard NFL fans to talk about is predictions—predictions that will invariably be forgotten by the end of the season . . . predictions that can’t be taken seriously because something like the unexpected retirement of Ricky Williams always comes up at the last minute to screw up all of our thinking about what the season has in store.

The upshot is that many of us will spend the summer posting our thoughts on forums like the one at FFToday about who the 10 most productive running backs of 2007 will be. Or maybe we’ll focus on sleepers and busts. Some folks will say what they think; others will overvalue the players from the favorite teams; others will deliberately mislead readers in the hope of conning competitors into overlooking the Marques Colston of 2007. In the end, those who were right will say, “I told you so,”—but no one will remember what they were right about. Many of those who were wrong won’t even remember what they said or why they said it. And when they do remember, they will explain that they would have been right if not for unexpected injuries or suspensions or personality conflicts.

My purpose in this column is to assign readers a specific prediction and to give them a motive for speaking honestly. The prediction itself is kind of laughable, since it concerns fantasy production in this year's Super Bowl. But the motive for honesty is deadly serious, since the winner of the contest I propose will be awarded a T-shirt from FFToday. That’s right folks, Mike Krueger has already agreed to award the winner of this prognostication contest a T-Shirt emblazoned with the FFToday logo. I can vouch for the quality of the shirt. Mine has held up through three years of service as my preferred lawn mowing attire. All you have to do to be as stylish as I am when mowing your lawn is make the best prediction in the FFToday community according to the guidelines below.

Part 1: Submission of Entries

Mike Krueger has already set a special thread aside in the forums for people to post their predictions. Only predictions posted to that thread will be eligible for consideration. Predictions must be made prior to midnight on August 31st, 2007 (slightly less than a week before the first game of the regular season).

Only one prediction per reader will be eligible for consideration.

Part 2: Distribution of Players

A) Eligible Players: Only players who participate in the upcoming Super Bowl will earn points in this contest, so you will need to focus much less on which players will be the most productive at their position than on which players are on teams likely to make it to the big game.

B) Rosters: You will need to select 1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 2 wide receivers, 1 tight end, 1 kicker, and 1 defense for your fantasy team.

C) Only one player per NFL team: Some participants may choose to place AFC and NFC players on their teams. Others may elect to go all AFC or all NFC. You may have as many players from either conference as you like on you team, but you cannot have more than 1 player from any NFL franchise on your team.

D) Obvious Objection: But if I’m confident that this is the year the Houston wins it all, why can’t I pick 8 Texans? The first answer is that you’re confusing stupidity with confidence. The second answer is that this approach makes things more interesting. The third answer is that it’s just one of the rules. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you consult Part 2, Paragraph C.

E) Scoring: Any players on your list who are active in the Super Bowl will generate points according to the default performance scoring system that FF Today uses as the standard for their calculations.

  • 1 Pt for every 20 yds passing
  • 4 Pts for every passing TD
  • 1 Pt for every 10 yds rushing/receiving
  • 6 Pts for every rushing/receiving/DEF/Kick Return TD
  • 3 Pts for every FG
  • 1 Pt for every extra point
  • 1 Pt for every sack, interception, fumble recovery
  • 2 Pt for every safety

F) Post Format: For your post, you will need to list players by position according the format I will follow below (position, name, team). If you choose to include an explanation of why you have made any particular choices or to clarify any of your strategizing, feel free to add a paragraph or two of elucidation.

Sample Prediction by Mike Davis

QB: Peyton Manning (Colts)
RB: LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers)
RB: Rudi Johnson (Bengals)
WR: Javon Walker (Broncos)
WR: Marques Colston (Saints)
TE: Todd Heap (Ravens)
K: Robbie Gould (Bears)
Defense: New England Patriots

Logic: Although I have a lot of fun looking at people’s Super Bowl predictions this far in advance, I don’t put a lot of stock in what any one person has to say until after the season has begun. I think there’s a tendency in the FF community to overemphasize particular nuggets of information in the off-season—to reason from a lineman’s strained ligament to a busted year for a running back, so I decided not to think very hard about which teams are genuinely most likely to make it to the Super Bowl. Under the rules of this contest, it’s impossible to have more than 2 players active in the Super Bowl, so I figured that the way to maximize the possibility of having 2 players would be to cover as many bases as possible in the AFC (where the field seems to be wide open) and to take just 2 players from the NFC (since the Saints and Bears appear to be clear frontrunners in that conference).

I couldn’t resist Manning as my QB. The fact that the Colts are poised for a repeat helps, but he is the 2nd-most durable QB in the league (behind Favre), so it seems likely that he’ll actually make it to the Super Bowl intact if the Colts get that far. The argument for Tomlinson was similar, as he presents us with a rare combination of talent and durability on a team that is quite likely to make it to the post-season. As for which AFC teams I selected, I simply consulted the latest Las Vegas odds on which teams were likely to win the AFC Championship and tried to balance that with concerns about productivity by position. I know the Rudi Johnson choice will look odd to some readers, and I would have preferred to take Chad Johnson as my Bengal and the Denver running back, but you’re nuts if you think I’m going to try to settle on a Denver running back half a year in advance of a contest. I would have preferred to have the Ravens as my defense and to take a wide-out or tight end from New England, but too many things need to settle down with the Pats for me to make that choice with any confidence. (Could the Pats make it to the big game with Randy Moss riding the pine? You betcha.)

Whether my logic stands up to your scrutiny or not, gentle reader, I hope you’ll consider posting your own set of choices in this contest. In addition to the chance at winning a T-shirt, you should manage to distract yourself for a few minutes from the painful fact that the football season is still 2 full months away.

For responses to this fantasy question please email Mike Davis. Readers who want to have their fantasy questions answered live, on the air, by Mike Davis are invited to tune into FFEXradio on Friday afternoons at 5:00 p.m. EST. Archived programs are also available.