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FF In The Groin
Week 1

Back For Another Season
It seems like it's been eons since I last wrote this column. 9 long months. The season is finally here, and FF In The Groin returns to its original and rightful home, FF Today. While I did have some requests for a preseason edition - heaven knows there was plenty of great material (Ricky Williams, Anquan Boldin, David Boston, etc.) - we'll start off here hopefully with a bang, but more than likely easing into the season. It takes me a little while to get going, and I like to screw around with the format every season too. Here's hoping we find a winning formula to help relieve some stress when things are not coming together for you on the fantasy gridiron.

Groin Shot of the Week Candidates

Daunte Culpepper (242 PaYd, 5 TD) - That's right, always draft your QB late. You just don't get the value with these early picks at the QB position. Sure, Daunte Culpepper is a nice player and all, but guys like Matt Hasselbeck or Marc Bulger really aren't that different, right? Right. You know what the best strategy really is for fantasy football? Do the exact opposite of what "everyone" says is the right thing to do.

Curtis Martin (196 RuYd, 2 TD) - So, about a month and a half ago, I'm drafting in the Red Eye Masters league. This is an important showcase league for me. It includes IDP and has some stiff competition in it. I was the number 1 seed through most all of 2003, my first year, but lost a close game in the final to Priest Holmes' 3 TD performance in pursuit of the TD record. So this year, I'm drafting along live over the Internet. Things are going well. Then at my 4th round pick I'm all set to take Curtis Martin. Curtis Martin! Curtis Martin!!! #$&@! Why isn't this website working! #&@$! %*#@! @#?%! Argh! By the time I get back on, the commish has given permission to the next team to pick. You know who he took. I got Charlie Garner.

Of course, there was little sympathy at the time since I was apparently the first to have this happen to. It happened repeatedly to a number of owners later on. We waited. (Grr...) Sarah, my loving wife, tells me if I track the difference all year between who I should have had - Martin - and who I got - Garner - then I'll just drive myself crazy. Of course she's right. She's always right. Some solace - I'm in good shape to beat the Martin owner this week anyway (thank you Culpepper) - but I still feel a definite twinge in the groin area over the technology snafu that day.

Any of Steve McNair, Jamal Lewis, Deuce McAllister, Fred Taylor (all under 80 yards, yes, including McNair's passing) - How could anyone not start these guys? Co-MVP award. 2,000 yard rusher facing a team he posted 500 yards on last year. Consensus top 4 pick. 1,900 combined yards a year ago and working on catching the ball to get more involved in the offense (note, no receptions for Taylor Sunday). What a bunch of bums. Yes, I'll be starting them again next week after which we can chalk this up as an anomaly, or watch their trade value go crashing through the floor.

I'm In Too Many Leagues
It's true. Week 1 and I already know this. In fact, I'm pretty sure I knew this before agreeing to join the last one... or, the one before that... Is there a Fantasy Football Anonymous? Seriously there should be. "Hello, my name is Mike and I have a problem."

Last year I had pretty much perfect balance with number of leagues and required time commitment to keep on top of them. I think I achieved that last year because I did the exact same thing the prior year, being in too many leagues. I'm on some kind of reverse schedule as Eric Moulds with his superstar, sub-par, superstar performances in alternating seasons. (Trade for him now if you can.)

Anyway, how to cope. Here are some of my tips:

  • Create a schedule. Grab a sheet of paper and chart out all of your leagues with the following info: free agent/waiver type(s), deadline(s), trade deadline and lineup submission deadline(s) and other important info. This is meant to help you avoid missing or confusing deadlines to manage your teams. Do not lose this crucial document! The size of the paper and print is indicative of how much of a "problem" you have. Unfortunately I'm up to 11x17 ledger paper. I might laminate this sucker.

  • Live scoring is overrated. Yeah, that's right, pretty much every league management service has it now, but to get through this season you're going to have to ignore it (at least until late Sunday). Sit back, watch the games and enjoy the TV broadcast. Just shut the computer right off. If you check the live scoring for all of your games, then you end up driving yourself nuts simultaneously cheering and jeering the same players.

  • Prioritize. I would never abandon a league. That isn't fair to the rest of the owners. However, quickly assess which leagues are most important to you and concentrate your efforts there. Whether it be for money or status or (preferably) where the most active owners are, those are the leagues that are worth your time. I already have one league where the commissioner failed to pay the league management service fee. I'm not about to pull out the abacus to calculate the scores, so that league just went near the bottom of the priority list. If it isn't important enough to him, then it isn't that important to me. Too bad that is one of my best teams though.

Fun With Numbers
Yes, this is stupid and childish but mildly amusing at the same time. Extrapolated season projections (thanks to Kitrick Taylor on the forums for kicking this off):

QB Daunte Culpepper - 80 TD
QB Donovan McNabb - 64 TD
QB Tom Brady - 48 TD
QB Vinny Testaverde - 5,680 yards
QB Steve McNair - 1,168 yards

RB Priest Holmes - 48 TD
RB Quentin Griffin - 48 TD
RB Shaun Alexander - 48 TD (Oh, wait...)
RB Jerome Bettis - 48 TD (With only 16 yards!)
RB Curtis Martin - 3,136 yards

WR Terrell Owens - 48 TD
WR Charles Rogers - 0 catches, 0 yards (Sorry guys)

TE Antonio Gates - 128 catches, 1,968 yards (This is going to blow up some value-based drafting models)

FF In The Groin (MacGregor) vs. Hindsight's a $%&^! (Waldman)

Average Value of Receivers
 FF In The Groin
 FF Pts  Hindsight's a #%$@!
 FF Pts
QB Maddox 6.98 QB Bulger 16.88
RB Faulk 16.50 RB Barlow 9.10
RB Dunn 18.30 RB Faulk 16.50
WR Bruce 17.20 WR Lloyd 2.90
WR McCareins 6.60 WR Owens 24.80
WR Branch 14.60 WR Branch 14.60
TE Kinney 6.01 TE Graham 11.70
K Stover 3.00 K K. Brown 8.00
DEF Rams 7.00 DEF Eagles 7.00
Total 96.19 Total 111.48

Fellow FF Today writer Matt Waldman and I are having a bit of a sideline, column-vs.-column competition in conjunction with our FFTOC contest entry where we are competing for a $10,000 grand prize amongst 600 competitors. The unique thing about FFTOC is the "tournament-style" play, in which you can start any player you like, but only once all season. There is a 12 week regular season after which the top 200 scoring teams advance for a 4 week playoff. There is some interesting strategy going on here about when to save players for later to win the big money in the playoffs.

I decided to go almost completely into saving mode in week 1. Faulk is the highest rated of the players I went with. That pick was very, very close to being Onterrio Smith actually until Mike Tice opened his yap during the week about Smith getting 100 yards. That great bulletin board material for the Cowboys, plus Tice's history of false info through the media, caused me to twitch enough and go with Faulk in what was sure to be a Rams blowout (blah).

So Waldman has the early upper hand on me here. Maddox was a dumb pick. Probably no reason to save on the QB position that much. Kinney was a dumb pick. After the game got changed to Saturday which no one wanted to play the teams just weren't into it. I was lucky to get the 1 catch for a TD. Stover was a dumb pick. No reason to take a kicker playing away from home, even though I thought the Ravens would bury the Browns. Dunn, Bruce and Branch were nice picks for week 1. Matt and I didn't compare notes beforehand. Nice job on Branch, buddy!

This style of play seemed to fit perfectly with our respective columns. Total control over the weekly lineup, assessing matchups, building expectations, and (too often) total frustration. Yep, perfect fit. We'll showcase the results all season.

Comments From The Couch

  • RB Edgerrin James doesn't play fantasy football. He moves the team down to the New England 6 yard line after runs of 5, 7, 9, 8 and 16 (he is basically gouging the Pats D), proceeds to pull himself for not 1, but 2 plays, the second of which Dominic Rhodes punches it in for 6 points. That and the pair of fumbles, one of which was on the 1 yard line, would have made Edge a perfect Groin candidate if not for the fact he looked so good otherwise running the ball that allowed all Edge owners to let out a small sigh of relief that he is okay, and wait in anticipation of more good things to come.

  • Perhaps a small (very small) thanks is in order to the NFL, CBS and Sunday Ticket/DirectTV for NOT nationally broadcasting the Titans-Dolphins "tilt" on Saturday. That one was ugly with a capital U-G-L-Y.

  • So, these new Coors Light ads, noted predominantly on ABC during the Thursday night game. Can a beer really be "frost brewed"? I'm not sure what to think about the catch phrase, "The Coldest Tasting Beer in the World." Maybe I'm the stupid one, but I thought how cold a beer tastes has pretty much everything to do with what I do to it between purchase and consumption.

  • The popular 3rd year WR theory - yay or nay? Yay: Deion Branch. Nay: Donte' Stallworth.

  • I couldn't find the exact quote, but near the start of the movie Major League, first at-bat of the season, Bob Uecker says something to the effect of, "this first play is indicative of how the season is going to go." Jet's kick returner Jonathan Carter, opening kickoff, trips and fumbles! Kevan Barlow, finally out of Garrison Hearst's shadow, first carry of the season, pop and fumbles! Just something to keep in mind Jets fans and Barlow owners...

  • Why I hate open bidding as a free agent system, part 1. Deep dynasty league, no one is bidding on anyone for days so I look through the free agents and find WR Doug Gabriel. He's a good prospect I figure. I open the bidding. Another owner sees Gabriel is up for bid and drives up the price beyond all reason. Would he have noticed Gabriel had this been a blind bidding format? I can't help but wonder...

  • Why I hate open bidding as a free agent system, part 2. Same league, I lose Gabriel so go plan B and open the bidding on WR Eric Parker. Same result.

  • There were a lot of "Aren't You Supposed to be Washed Up?" candidates yesterday. In fact we could field a damn fine lineup between Rich Gannon (or Vinny Testaverde), Curtis Martin, Emmitt Smith (or Jerome Bettis), Terry Glenn and Rod Smith. What year am I playing in? Sometimes it's a little hard to tell.

  • And let's not forget the "I'm Competing For 1st Round Bust of Decade Award" pairing of RB Thomas Jones and WR David Terrell. That was against the Lions though. Next week, Green Bay. I'll reserve judgment for now.

  • When you knock the starting QB for the opposing team out of the game, they bring in the backup and you knock him out, they bring the original starter back and you just barely hang on for the win, there's a sign there is still a lot of work to do. It could be a long season for both the 49ers and Falcons if that game provided any insight.

  • Yep, I think I'll be playing as many players against the Giants as I can possibly come up with this year. And that probably won't be Tiki Barber's last garbage time jaunt up the field for a big chunk of yardage that we see this season.

  • Time to take the "offensive genius" label off Jon Gruden? It sure seems like it. If he would just realize he needs at least a couple of players in their prime, not way past their prime or before their prime or never had a prime.

  • Have you ever seen so much fuss for a nickel corner in your life? ESPN is all about the hype.

  • I'm not even going to comment on the Bills debacle this week.
And The Winner Is…
Culpepper! Culpepper! Culpepper! Culpepper! Culpepper! Woo! (One for each TD.)