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East Coast Offense: 2007 East Coast Offense-Week 1

Chris Liss

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

East Coast Offense

By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor



Paralysis on the Eve of the Season

Where do I begin - by looking through the 600 emails I got last week to figure out which of my seven leagues have their free agent pickups due tomorrow? Or maybe I should start sending out those five or six entry-fee checks for the survivor pools I agreed to be in. If only I can find the emails with the amount and the right address to send them to. And the two picking pools - what's the URL for those again? Got to remember to email in a separate "best bet." Now all this would be easier if my six baseball leagues weren't still going on. Can't we just nix September with the expanded rosters and veterans being shut down the way we don't count Week 17?


Enthusiasm

Seriously, though - there's nothing quite like an NFL Sunday when you've got a stake in all the games against the spread, huge fantasy implications in every game against the enemy owners in your league and life and death hanging in the balance of a field-goal attempt for your big-money survivor pool. A fumble in the 49ers-Cardinals game is like a category-five hurricane destroying my Yahoo Friends and Family crops. A defensive touchdown in the Raiders-Lions game is like a much-needed rain falling on my Beating the Book farm. The Chiefs getting that garbage touchdown late is like the Fed cutting interest rates, sending my RotoWire Steak League stocks through the roof. Civilizations are rising and falling with every play, whole universes are coming in and out of existence from Big Bang through Heat Death and back again. All this from the comfort of my living room sofa.


Around the League

Here are a couple things that struck me this week:


  • Travis Henry's got bad judgment

    Sure peopling the earth with your descendants is a perfectly natural biological urge, but in this day and age, you have to pay child support. Let's leave aside the moral question because you can be a really bad guy, but a good player. I just want to consider the judgment issue - someone who makes poor decisions is more likely to hang out with the wrong people, be at the wrong place at the wrong time or stick a fork in an electric socket. It's added risk, and it's enough for me to want to avoid Henry unless it's the second round.

  • Daunte Culpepper is worth drafting

    Who knows whether Culpepper can turn it around, but given that he played well in the preseason, was even able to scramble a bit and now has the starting job, he's got to be worth a look late in your draft. Culpepper's still just 30 years old, and he's got big receivers who can make plays down the field. Remember, Culpepper put up some of the greatest fantasy seasons of all-time at the position, and it's all about upside late in your draft.

  • Bernard Berrian's overrated

    Sure he's good in distance scoring leagues, but consider that he had just five red-zone looks all last season, the absolute least among receivers with 100 targets or more. Berrian can get down the field, and he's got a quarterback who can throw the deep ball and a coach who'll sign off on it. But unless the team decides to use him a lot more from in close, he'll be a one-dimensional home run threat.

  • Vince Young is underrated

    People are scared by his unpolished passing skills and his poor receivers, but consider two things: (1) if Young gets 700 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs, he doesn't have to do a whole lot in the passing game to be a top-5 quarterback - 16 TDs and 2400 yards would more than do the trick. And (2) that Brandon Jones, Roydell Williams et. al. haven't done much to date, means little. Steve Smith was a scrub at one time, too, and Jones, Williams and even the receivers in Tennessee that you've never heard of are all incredible athletes. Would it be so shocking if one or two had a good season? These are world class athletes whose full time job it is to execute football plays on the field. Their employer is a half a billion dollar (at least) organization dedicated to their improvement. There will be breakouts somewhere.


    Strategy

  • Don't Overplay Matchups

    So what if Chad Johnson's going against the Ravens, and Hines Ward's going against the Browns. Do not sit Chad Johnson for Hines Ward this week. Do not ever sit a top fantasy wideout for merely a good one no matter what the matchup. Of course, no rule is without exceptions - if the Bengals were playing in 70 mph winds, then maybe. But consult matchups for the most part to break ties between players of roughly similar skill and opportunity.

  • Don't Overplay the Schedule

    I've gotten a lot of emails from people worried about drafting a player like Lee Evans because his team has a tough schedule. It's the same thing. If two players are close in value, use their teams' schedules from last year as a tiebreaker. Don't use it when the gap is significant. For one thing, when you assess a schedule based on stats, you're backward looking. The top-10 defenses from 2006 won't be the same as the top-10 defenses for this year. In fact, here were the top-10 from 2006 in total yards allowed:

    1. Ravens
    2. Jaguars
    3. Raiders
    4. Dolphins
    5. Bears
    6. Patriots
    7. Panthers
    8. Vikings
    9. Steelers
    10. Chargers

    And here were the top-10 from 2005:

    1. Buccaneers
    2. Bears
    3. Panthers
    4. Steelers
    5. Ravens
    6. Jaguars
    7. Packers
    8. Cardinals
    9. Redskins
    10. Cowboys

    Only four teams, the Bears, Steelers, Ravens and Jaguars, made both lists. Of course, the change between 2005 and 2006 isn't necessarily representative of the average amount of top-of-the-list turnover. So let's look at 2004's top-10:

    1. Steelers
    2. Bills
    3. Redskins
    4. Broncos
    5. Buccaneers
    6. Ravens
    7. Jets
    8. Dolphins
    9. Patriots
    10. Eagles

    Again, only four teams from 2004's top 10 made the top 10 in 2005: Steelers, Redskins, Bucs and Ravens.

    And maybe both those seasons are anomalies, but I tend to think not. There's so much turnover in the NFL every year that it would have surprised me to see more unformity at the top. That doesn't mean there's no year-to-year correlation, only that it's not as big as people often imagine when they use it to justify avoiding a player. And that your worries last year about the Saints you drafted playing the Bucs (2005, 1st) and Panthers (2005, 3rd) twice each were for nought. Incidentally, the Steelers and Ravens are the only teams in the top-10 the last three years - good thing you stayed away from Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson.


    Beating the Book

    We were 9-6-1 against the spread in this forum last year - never did a Week 17 column for Yahoo. On the year, we were 139-108-9 for RotoWire.com. From 1999-2006, we were 1057-898 - not including ties - (54.1 percent).


    Patriots -6.5 at Jets

    This seems like an awful lot for the Pats to lay on the road against a well-coached Jets squad that made the playoffs last year. The Jets won't have any trouble getting up for their biggest rival, and you have to imagine that the public will be all over New England, given all the offseason acquisitions. Moreover, the loss of Richard Seymour to the PUP list softens the New England run defense significantly. The only worry we have is that this is so obvious that something might be up. Sometimes a line that looks too good to be true is, and the Book is purposely steering you to the losing side. But in Week 1, we're not going to overthink it. Back the Jets who keep it close.


    Patriots 21 - 20

    For the rest of this week's slate, check out Beating the Book


    Surviving Week 1

    Well, this is a tough job - my first regular season NFL column of the year, and I might seriously get everyone killed. No double-digit favorites to choose from, but a lot of mediocre five, six and seven point ones instead.

    That said, we're going with the Chargers for now. The Bears are a tough opponent, especially with a healthy Tommie Harris stopping the run and providing a pass rush up the middle. But San Diego is so solid from top to bottom - with a better running game, a better pass rush, a far better quarterback and the home field advantage. The Bears ability to throw the ball down the field worries us - San Diego's secondary is the weakness of the team, but Rex Grossman is liable to make a mistake or two as well.

    The full article comes out on Thursday morning. (If we change our mind, it will be reflected in Thursday's article).

    Article first appeared 9/5/07