When Actual Value Is Staring You in the Face,
It’s Time to Let Go of Projected Value
Please forgive this interruption of your regularly scheduled Q&A
column for an unpremeditated meditation on projected vs. actual
Less than half of the FF emails that I receive each week have anything
to do with the Q&A or LMS sections of this column. Like any
other analyst with a posted email address at a website having anything
to do with fantasy football, I receive countless messages from people
who want advice about trade proposals or have questions about their
There is nothing wrong with the way most people present their trade
proposals to me. They tell me that another owner is offering them
players A & B for players C & D. They may or may not include
details concerning the scoring system used by their league, but
they usually want to focus on whether I think the trade will be
beneficial to their team or to ask me for advice on what sort of
counteroffer they should make. Here is a typical example of a no-nonsense
request for trade advice:
A buddy in my league is offering me Michael Vick for Vernon Davis.
I use Dustin Keller as my starting tight end most weeks, so I won’t
miss Davis. But I’m not sure Vick offers me anything that
I can’t get from Matt Schaub (my current QB). My buddy lost
his main tight end (Dallas Clark), so I would really be helping
him out, but I worry that I would be helping him to eliminate me
from the playoffs. What do you think?
These straightforward requests for advice do not annoy me
even when I am too pressed for time to respond to those who send
them in. The emails that annoy me are the ones from FFers who have
decided to agonize endlessly over projected values. The agonizing
is particularly painful when it comes from people who cannot let
go of the prices players were auctioned for or the rounds in which
they were drafted. Here is an example of the kind of request for
advice that gets under my skin:
An owner in my league is offering me Michael Vick (who was drafted
in the 14th round because everyone expected Kolb to be the starter
for the season) for Vernon Davis (who was drafted in the 5th round
because tight ends are very valuable in our league). I am obviously
not going to make that deal because that is like trading a 5th-round
pick for a 14th-round pick, and I am not stupid. But maybe I can
make him a counteroffer. Schaub went in the 4th round of our draft,
so maybe I can get him to give me Michael Vick for Schaub plus a
5th-round pick. Unfortunately, his 5th-round pick was Dallas Clark.
I don’t need another tight end—much less an injured
one. But another owner in our league took Miles Austin in the 5th
round, so maybe I can get him to trade something to that owner for
Austin so that he can trade me Austin and Vick for Schaub and Davis.
Do you think that would be fair?
I have exaggerated the silliness of this kind of note partly
for comic effect—but mainly to dramatize the point that some
owners cannot embrace actual value because they cling too stubbornly
to projected value.
The first five receivers drafted in my primary league were: 1) Andre
Johnson, 2) Reggie Wayne, 3) Randy Moss, 4) Larry Fitzgerald, and
5) Roddy White. The top five receivers in our league as we approach
the midway point of the season are: 1) Roddy White, 2) Brandon Lloyd,
3) Hakeem Nicks, 4) Austin Collie, and 5) Terrell Owens. The point
is that my primary league is like most leagues in that the projections
we use to make our draft picks invariably turn out to be flawed.
I want to ask a favor of everyone in the fantasy football community
who receives a trade offer this week. Please think hard about the
productivity of the players named in the trade, and do not think
at all—not even for a second—about where those players
were taken in your draft. Stop thinking about how much more ground
Mojo was projected to cover than LeSean McCoy. Stop rubbing your
eyes and asking yourself whether Kyle Orton can really be more productive
than Brett Favre.
I know that this interruption isn’t necessary for most FFers.
I only hear from a few who continue to agonize about draft choices
this late in the season—but those few need to be shaken by
the shoulders and made to confront the game that is unfolding before
us in the here and now of late October rather than slumbering in
the lotus land of a keg party with a list of some expert’s
projections at the end of August. I now return you to your regularly
Last Week’s Question:
What is the best city/venue in which to
hold a fantasy draft?
Brian was the reader who sent in the question about what city
is the best choice for hosting a fantasy draft, but he wasn’t
alone. Many readers apparently wonder the same thing—and
they all wrote to ask me to forward the column to them once I
got some useful answers. Everyone wanted to know where to go,
but no one wrote in with serious advice about cities or venues.
The only specific city to receive any attention was Las Vegas,
but no one bothered to explain why—perhaps because the reasons
for the choice seemed obvious to the writers.
The most unexpected answer I received to the question came from
Matthew Schiff (our former LMS consultant):
For those people who are now in leagues that
have evolved from the bar scene/Vegas-style getaway, we have transformed
the draft into a family event where the kids now are involved
in making the party, running the draft board and being part of
their father’s teams. We have been running our league for
over 20 years, and the kids (both boys and girls) look forward
to the event held at the commissioner’s house (mine) on
the deck or in the basement (in case of rain). In recent years,
some of the kids have been picking for their dads who are running
late or just can’t make the draft party, but still want
to be part of the league for the bragging rights. Our menu has
gone from Pizza and Beer to Hoagies, Wings, Chips, a lot less
beer, lots of soft drinks and even more desserts. The body just
doesn’t recover like it used to. Overall, it’s not
as much a wild party for everyone as it used to be, but we get
together, talk some trash about last season and the upcoming season,
and most importantly see the other team owners. That’s what
everyone looks forward to—not to mention as commissioner
it gives me a chance to ask for their league payment before they
Perhaps the real question I should have asked would have
been about what leagues have done to make their drafts more family
friendly. I honestly don’t know how many people would find
such a column useful, but I may have the opportunity to delve
into that question in the future. For now, those of you who want
to stay in town can continue to draft in your commissioner’s
rec room. And those of you who want to go to Las Vegas can do
that without any help from me.
This Week’s Question:
At what point does emotion start to eclipse
talent when it comes to setting your lineup?
This week’s question comes from Bryce, who writes:
You talk about owner apathy in fantasy leagues
a lot, but what about player apathy in the NFL? Some teams start
phoning it in once they fall too far behind in the standings,
and this has to diminish the value of their skill players. I am
thinking specifically about the Cowboys right now, but more teams
will start to look like they are just going through the motions
as the playoff picture comes into focus. If I only had room to
start Miles Austin or Kenny Britt at the beginning of the season,
I would have gone with Austin. But even if I imagine a healthy
Romo back with the Cowboys in Weeks 11-16, I think I would rather
go with a guy like Britt on a team that will be [jockeying for
playoff position] to the end. Austin might be a great competitor
who will fight to the finish, but if the people around him have
all given up and are just punching the clock for a paycheck, then
it seems like a lot of unproven receivers on lesser teams will
make more sense in the lineup.
It’s a tricky question. I know a lot of players
have such incentive-laden contracts that it would be unthinkable
for them to “phone it in” regardless of how poorly
their team might be doing. Nevertheless, when I am convinced a
game is genuinely important to a particular team, I do expect
the players on that team to perform at a higher level than usual.
I look forward to hearing
from any readers who have given this question serious enough
thought to have a sense of when to start looking at the emotional
value of a game more than the stat sheets of the players involved.
Last Man Standing Picks (Courtesy of
Mark Den Adel)
Last week was a tough week at 1-2. I thought the Cowboys would
pull it out, but Romo went down with an injury, and the Dallas
defense was disappointing.
1) Kansas City over Buffalo
Those of us who keep picking against the Bills almost got burned
last week. Buffalo is too talented to finish the season without
a win, but that win won’t come in a stadium as hostile and
boisterous as the one in Kansas City. I have been to that stadium,
but even fans who haven’t been there could hear how loud
it was on the opening night Monday football game vs. San Diego.
Buffalo’s offense will continue to improve, but their defense
is dead last against the run. Expect the Chiefs to win thanks
to double doses of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.
2) NY Jets over Green Bay
The Jets (coming off a bye) will take advantage of being fresh
and rested against a Green Bay team that is due for a letdown.
The Packers just won a huge division game and showed Brett Favre
that a team other than the Vikings is best suited to represent
the NFC North in the playoffs, but now they are going to exhale.
The Jets’ 2nd-ranked rushing attack should have its way
with the Packers’ defense (23rd against the rush). A week
off is just what the veteran LaDainian Tomlinson needed to get
his second wind.
3) Dallas over Jacksonville
I have missed both times I have picked Dallas. Part of me wants
to stay away from the Cowboys, but part of me wants to pick them
in my third slot so that I can’t have anything to do with
them for the rest of the season. I honestly like them this week
because the game vs. Jacksonville seems like a gimme. The Cowboys
are going to have to snap their losing streak at some point, and
why not do it at home vs. a team that is 30th in total defense
and 27th against the pass. The Cowboys needs a break, and the
NFL scheduling gods appear to have given them one.
Upset - Washington over Detroit
I was very close with my upset pick last week as Tampa
won with 10 seconds left in the game. I have a hard time believing
that Detroit is favored in this game considering that Washington
has already beaten other division foes in the NFC North in Chicago
and Green Bay. I guess the odds-makers think that Detroit’s
bad defense (26th) is significantly better than Washington’s
horrible defense (31st overall). Expect a high scoring game with
Matthew Stafford back, but I think he’ll be a little rusty—will
we see a repeat performance from DeAngelo Hall?
For responses to this week's fantasy
question please email me.