East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
Sympathy for a Fantasy Pundit
No one's allowed to complain about this job - and for good reason - on the misery scale of 1 to 10, it's probably a 1.2, right between restaurant critic and bat boy. But I'm going to detail the least pleasant aspects of it anyway. Feel free to mock me.
First off, I don't always have an opinion on every question that comes up. I agonize over setting my own lineups sometimes, and in the end I'm basically flipping a coin or going on a hunch. And the smartest readers and viewers who ask these 50/50 questions know there's no right answer - you know who you are! If there were a right answer, you wouldn't have to ask. So you put it on us, and we have to make a call. Now you guys won't hold it against us if it goes wrong - because you knew it was a coin flip anyway. But everyone else who's watching thinks: "Man, Liss is really off his game - he got that Eddie Royal/Lance Moore question wrong." The best answers I give in those cases, and I wish I remembered to give them more are: "I don't know - it's 50/50. Go with your gut." I know people want certainty, but it's better to tell the truth and admit you hadn't thought about it before that second, and now that you have, you still don't know.
Second, it's stressful being accountable for predicting the future. Of course, that's what we're paid to do, but sometimes my joystick doesn't work, and those people in the uniforms on Sunday seem to have a mind of their own. Look, being wrong on occasion is okay - no one's perfect. But there are at least a couple weekends a year where watching the games is like having Ray Lewis and Albert Haynesworth come to your house and work you over. Of course, that's small poatoes compared to what Mad Money's Jim Cramer is going through. People lost their life savings after he told them to invest in Bear Stearns and Wachovia! Thank God I'm just costing people a couple hundred bucks and their one chance in life to prove they're "the man".
And third, there's the obligation to be in eight leagues (and it would have been more like 15) if I hadn't pawned some off on other people. While that might seem like fun to some of you, there's simply no way to do the waiver wire and FAABing properly during busy weeks - especially because each league has a slightly different deadline. Usually, I just pick through the scraps on Wednesday or Thursday when I get a moment. The other problem with having so many leagues is you're almost always rooting for some crazy scenario each Sunday. I need Jay Cutler to get 14 in one league, but Brandon Marshall can't get more than 12 in the PPR one, but I need Marshall to get at least seven in the non-PPR one. It's virtually guaranteed between all those leagues, my spread picks and survivor that I'm going to be miserable about something.
Two weeks ago, Brandon Funston and I got into a back and forth on Fantasy Football Live about when to play matchups and when to go with established stars. I typically come down on the side of the stars, but I thought what he wrote in last week's column pretty much sums up how I make my decisions as well:
The moral of the story here is that, yes, you have to factor in the track record of a stud like Manning. But you also have to consider the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately element. And you definitely have to weigh the merits of the matchup (points allowed by the opposing defense, how the defense matches up from a personnel and scheme standpoint, etc). And then you mentally factor in key injuries, the educated opinions of others, and so on...
When you've done all that, you look at your lineup and you make gut calls.
Basically, take in all the information you can, much it contradictory, factor in the illogical way the NFL works and synthesize it into a gut impression. How much weight does long-term track record, recent performance, matchup or venue get? Impossible to say. Your hunch is itself the algorithm, and it can't be broken down by percentages or into orderly component parts. It's not analysis but synthesis.
Bad Clock Management Award
We could probably give out a few of these each week, but the Bears-Vikings game presented an interesting case. The Bears had the ball 1st and 10 at their own 33 with 2:48 left in the game up seven. The Vikings had no timeouts left. All Chicago had to do was run a play that took four seconds, and it would have taken them down to the two-minute warning. Instead they ran the ball straight into the line which took three, and they had to run a second play before the two-minute mark. As a result the Vikings got the ball back with 1:06 on the clock. Of course, they did nothing with it.
Poor Use of Instant Replay
As an Anthony Gonzalez owner, I was aghast that the replay officials decided to overturn his touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, down 34-7 with less than two minutes left. Replays showed it wasn't a catch, but who cares? The game was over, and refs make mistakes on unchallenged calls all the time during the 56 minutes when replay's not automatic - why waste everyone's time?
I suppose net points is the 25th tiebreaker for playoff seeding, so maybe it has some relevance, but still - very annoying, and if they had let it slide, no one would have cared. (I also have Dallas Clark whose touchdown on the subsequent play was also overturned by replay). But I didn't realize that until just now when I was looking it up the game's play by play.
Things to Take Away From Week 7
Beating the Book
The Raiders covered and won outright as we predicted last week, putting us at 6-1 in forum. We're 57-42-3 overall.
Bills -1.5 at Dolphins
The Bills are off to a good start, but we'd sell high here after a home win against the erratic Chargers. The Dolphins should compete at home, and they're getting a point and a half. Back Miami who wins outright.
Dolphins 19 - 17
We were 6-10 in this forum last year, but 127-120 on the season overall. From 1999-2007 we're 1184-1018 (53.8%, not including ties).
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Surviving Week 8
Just about anyone you could possibly take won last week, including all three of our suggestions, the Bucs, Giants and Steelers.
This week we like the Jets - if there were ever a time to use them, it's now. If for some crazy reason you've used the Jets, we'd take the Texans at home against the Carson Palmer-less Bengals. We give the Jets an 85 percent chance to win this game, and reserve the right to change our mind on Thursday when the full article comes out.
Article first appeared 10/22/08