Going For Broke
The “Gut Feeling” is often synonymous with a sense
of desperation resulting from a lack of preparation. The Gut Check
is a huge proponent of studying the numbers, but there’s
a point where one can place too much emphasis on the wrong information.
This can result in the undervaluing or overlooking a player’s
potential. Therefore, The Weekly Gut Check is devoted to examining
the frame of reference behind certain number-driven guidelines
that fantasy football owners use to make decisions.
Although The Weekly Gut Check doesn’t claim to be psychic,
he does believe that he can dispel certain numbers biases and
help you make the best choices for your team. We’ll keep
a running tally of The Weekly Gut Check’s insights. This
way you can gauge his views as something to seriously consider,
or at least seriously consider running the opposite way as fast
as you can!
Sometimes in fantasy football (and life) you have to go for broke.
Nothing is meshing. You’re out of step. You’re in a
funk. You’ve lost your groove. If your season is on the brink
of sliding down the fantasy toilet bowl, it’s time to shake
First let’s cue up a groove elixir to help you get your mind
right. The first minute and forty-five of this
track will do the trick. Once you’re tapping your foot
and nodding your head, check out the logic I’m about to throw
There comes a time – be it fantasy football, your job,
a relationship – where you just have to take a chance or
nothing is going to improve. If your team is floundering with
only a month to turn things around, it’s time to go for
For those of you who think floundering means you have a winning
record or have a team loaded with top-tier performers at every
position, but quarterback, take a deep breath and get some perspective.
You need to stay the course and stay out of your team’s
way. Micromanaging your team can kill its potential for success.
We are a society that has grown used to having great deal of information
available to us and we’re expected to act quickly upon it.
The upside is a potential for great ideas, productivity, and efficiency.
The downside is we tend to overanalyze and overreact to everything.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that there is often a lag
between the technology available to us and our ability to use
it wisely. If you’re winning more games than you are losing,
have strong backs, receivers, tight ends, etc., but your quarterback
isn’t a top tier guy, don’t try to make a blockbuster
trade unless you are getting a significant upgrade at the position
without losing any of your starters. If you have to e-mail someone
to know the answer, don’t go through with it.
It’s funny that I decided to write about this subject on
Monday evening, because since that time I have received several
e-mails from guys with winning teams that are considering a different
quarterback because their signal caller isn’t a top-tier
stud. My advice is for you to check out the difference in points
between the best QB and the lowest-ranked “starting”
QB – the 12th rated guy in a 12-team league - then compare
it to the difference among other positions in the same way.
The difference in average fantasy points per game between Drew
Brees (#1) and Kyle Orton (#12) is 5 points per contest. The top-performing
fantasy runner, Clinton Portis, averages 17.4 fantasy points per
game and the lowest #1 quality starter, 12th-ranked, LaDainian
Tomlinson, averages 13.3 points per contest – a difference
of 4.1 points. But most leagues start two backs so 24th-ranked
Kevin Smith is the real bottom end here. He averages 8.8 fantasy
points per game – a difference of 8.6 points.
If you trade away a starting quality runner for a better quarterback,
you’re likely to be giving up more points than you’re
receiving in return. Even if you have Ben Roethlisberger, who
averages 7 points fewer than Brees, you aren’t likely to
have an depth chart RB you can plug into your lineup as a starter
and make up the difference in the deal for that QB upgrade. If
you can, then take a shot at it – but I doubt most of you
If you are still concerned about your team because don’t
have the perfect lineup, but you’re one of the top two teams
in your league, get a grip. It’s like whining that you’re
not rich because you’re comparing your financial status
to Jay-Z, Oprah, and Steve Jobs. If you drive an SUV, BMW, or
even a Honda or Toyota, you can afford to deposit money to your
ten-year-olds college fund each month with the goal of $500,000
within reach (because you just know they are going to Duke), take
annual vacations, belong to Netflix, eat out regularly, and the
mall is a regular destination for purchases, don’t complain
that you can’t retire at forty-five and don’t have
a mansion. Shut up, you’re richer than most everyone else.
The same goes for your fantasy team. If you have a winning record
and multiple starters in the top fifteen to twenty at their position,
you’re not struggling. In most cases if you have a winning
formula. I repeat, stay the course and try not to over manage
For those of you truly struggling, you need to spot these guys
in your league (I’ll see if their e-mail addresses match
up with any in your league so you can cast your rod and reel)
because they are fresh fish for a deal that could turn your fortunes
around and allow them to manage themselves into the ground. The
strategies I’m going to suggest aren’t tried and true
methods for winning. They are merely suggestions where you know
that you need to go big or go home and you don’t mind going
down in flames because if it doesn’t work, you weren’t
any worse off to begin with:
Time is of the essence
Is your team waiting for a player like Tony
Romo or Marques
Colston to return from injury or at least return to form after
they’ve hit the field? Or do you have T.O. and you’re waiting
for Romo to get him the ball like the old days of weeks one through
five? Maybe you have Roy
Williams and T.J.
Houshmandzadeh and you’re just waiting for them to develop
enough rapport with a teammate to put up numbers that justify
where you originally selected them.
If you are going to go for broke, stop waiting. Trade these guys
and get a player you can rely upon for slightly lower points than
the projected points you had for the player(s) you dealt away
and as a bonus get a guy that could produce if called upon. Otherwise,
you may lose 3-4 games waiting for these players to produce as
before. In some cases, it is better to get players of slightly
lower production, but greater consistency than keep a player capable
of 20-point games, but can’t even give you 5 points for the last
2-3 weeks. Yeah, I know sell high, buy low, but unless
you are 5-4 or better, you may not have this luxury. If you are,
you don’t need to go for broke.
Ride that rookie
Green Ellis, Joe
Flacco, and Matt
Ryan all have been playing well enough for you to consider
them as every week starters. If you have an ascending player on
your depth chart and trading one of your mainstay starting RBs
or WRs can shore up a glaring weakness in your lineup, take the
chance. Remember, your team better be losing by more than five
points on a regular basis and lacking consistency from the position.
Rookies are often the best to take this chance on because they
don’t have enough of a track record for other teams to want to
acquire them, but they can produce for you.
Deal your depth
No sense it holding onto a depth chart of four starting backs
if you can only use two of them. If you have to trade one or both
of them and a big time player at another position for starters
you can actually use each week, do it. Don’t worry about
favorable schedules, injuries, teams benching starters during
your fantasy playoffs. The goal is for you to win enough games
to get to the playoffs. At that point, anything can happen. Plus
if you are allowed to acquire players off the waiver wire during
your playoffs, there will be a good chance a decent alternative
will still be available in case you need one. I once added Frank
Gore to my starting line up in a championship game over Edgerrin
James and the rookie 49er lead me to the title despite the fact
James was the one that got me there. Gore wasn’t even the
starter as a rookie, but he was performing well enough to consider
but still justifiably a free agent in this fantasy league.
Don’t mortgage wins now for wins on paper
I am not a fan of strength of schedule analysis as a method for
adjusting your roster for the playoffs. Sure, there are times
this can work wonders for your team, but I’m a believer
that you deal players because you believe they have more talent
and more talent around them to get the job done. Last year, Shaun
Alexander – Mr. Softy, according to most critical analysts
– posted 14.7 fantasy points on the Baltimore Ravens in
week 16. Two weeks prior Joseph Addai had 26.1 fantasy points.
If a player has been delivering week-in and week-out, don’t
outsmart yourself by trading him away. On the other hand, if you
can offer a lesser player with a more attractive schedule in exchange
for a better performer now – do it!
Be More Specific
Ok then. Here are my Go for Broke guys to acquire or
Matt Hasselbeck – The Seahawks quarterback is expected
back in week 11, but I doubt he won’t be hindered from the
knee and back issues that have plagued him all season. You won’t
be able to trade him away and get a productive quarterback in
return without a quality starter at another position paired with
him in the deal. Still, there’s a chance Hasselbeck could
finish the season strong and a team with two decent quarterbacks,
but lacking at another position could take the bait.
– There’s a lot more wrong with the Cowboys than the absence of
Jessica Simpson’s boy toy. The offensive line is in a shambles
and ESPN analyst, Mark Schlereth, suspects Flozell Adams is playing
with an injury. This poor line play is the reason Romo is on the
sideline in the first place. I appreciate the fact that Romo is
far more mobile than Brad Johnson, but between the Redskins, Steelers,
and Giants he only gets San Francisco and Seattle. It’s an up
and down schedule, which means you can probably get someone to
take him and get a quality player in return. I would definitely
give up Romo for a shot at spreading the wealth around the rest
of my lineup.
– I’d take a chance on Ryan because the Falcons are playing solid
football in all aspects of the game and he’s making quick, accurate
decisions in the passing game – especially downfield. Michael
Jenkins is no superstar and if he’s getting two long touchdowns
on a decent – but underachieving – corner in DeAngelo Hall, it
should be apparent that Ryan has caught on quickly. Remember when
Peyton Manning was a rookie? His first eight games weren’t very
productive from a touchdown standpoint, but he still wound up
with 29 to finish the season. I don’t see Ryan achieving that
number, but I do think he has a shot at some nice fantasy games
for you and you can probably get him as one of two or three players
in return for an underachieving stud.
– I’m getting a ton of e-mails from owners of good teams trying
to trade for a top-tier QB when they have Delhomme on their bench.
If you have a stud QB and little else, deal him to this type of
owner for a good WR/RB and the Carolina QB. I have Delhomme in
one of my leagues and between him and Jason Campbell, I’m content
with playing either one because my backs and receivers are more
than good enough to win any game as long as my QB scores 12-15
points. Delhomme should be getting you 15-18 each week now that
Steve Smith is back, the running game is clicking, and Muhsin
Muhammad is playing as well as ever.
Bush – Admittedly, dealing Bush only to watch him blow up
down the stretch could be the ultimate ignominy, especially if
our resident physical therapist, Bob Thompson, is correct about
his diagnosis. In
fact, I’m going to agree with him. Although I’ve been recommending
NOT have a player you have to wait to return to health, Bob has
been saying for weeks that you need to add Reggie Bush and I like
his medical logic. He’s averaging fantasy points on the level
of a top ten back, but ranked in total points at the bottom end
of the top 20 because he has missed nearly three games. He’s a
perfect, go- for-broke option because he’s one of those exceptions
with talent and a fine team around him.
Joseph Addai – Here’s another guy I would take a
chance on because of an under-performing Colts offense that is
about to see a highly favorable schedule and the o-line has gotten
healthier. Addai gets Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Detroit
in the near future. Not a bad stretch of games.
Ray Rice – This is a rookie I love to watch, but I would
let someone else try to ride him to championship glory. His schedule
isn’t the best and if you have a wealth of running backs,
I would trade him before the Houston game. This way, the team
wanting Rice will give up more to take advantage of this prime
match up. After that, the Giants, Eagles, Redskins, and Steelers
all lie ahead. He could play well enough despite the schedule,
but this is the perfect time to parlay Rice into something better
for your team.
Ronnie Brown – When Miami has played a decent to good defense
(Jets, Cardinals, Ravens, and Bills) he’s averaged less
than six points per game. When he’s faced easier defenses,
he’s averaging 21.4 per game. Outside of New England and
Buffalo, his match ups look pretty favorable, but when you consider
he’s averaged under four yards per carry in the past four
games, including games versus Houston and Denver, I’d go
for broke and trade Brown if I had a decent starter waiting in
Bowe – The addition of Mark Bradley and the offense moving
past it’s former power running identity has helped Bowe become
a more consistent force in recent weeks. Since he’s performing
just below his projected level, he’s a risk to acquire with the
hopes of him blowing up. At the same time, if you find an owner
that is down on him, you should be able to get him in a package
Colston – Colston was a guy you probably shouldn’t have waited
on, but if you stuck by him this long, you might as well go for
broke and reap the benefits. He only had three targets last week,
but caught two of them for 56 yards. Either Colston is getting
used to playing with the injury or the thumb is healed well enough
that he’s no longer self conscious about it. With two weeks of
games under his belt and a decent, but by no means great, Atlanta
defense up next, look for Colston to return to fantasy prominence.
I’d say Devery Henderson will be the receiver most likely to see
a decrease in production as a result.
Terrell Owens – With Romo coming back, Owens could rebound
and probably will to some extent, but I’d deal him if I
needed to go for broke. The schedule isn’t great, the offensive
line is in rough shape, and you can probably get more for Owens
in a trade than waiting and hoping Romo gets healthy, stays healthy,
and plays healthy.
Lee Evans – His productive start is a change of pace for
Evans, who generally finishes stronger down the stretch after
disappointing fantasy owners early. This could be attributed to
better quarterback play, but if you need to go for broke, deal
Evans with the hope that his slump will occur down the stretch.
Considering the easier pass defenses he’s faced thus far,
the odds are in your favor.
Driver – This one is completely a choice from my gut. Greg
Jennings has been so good, that I think Driver will benefit down