This article is part of our East Coast Offense series.
When To Fade The Base Rate
I had trouble articulating this in written form earlier today, so I'll just sum it up and direct you to last night's videocast with Jeff Erickson when during the last five minutes we got into a good exchange on it:
Bottom line, most of the time we bet the thing that usually happens, e.g., we take the player with the higher ADP, or we start the roughly equal running back with the better defensive match-up. It's not that we're sure what usually happens will happen again this time, but that barring some specific reason why it wouldn't, it's the best we can do.
But often the bigger money is to be made in the exceptions, the things that are against the base rate that everyone else is betting, but about which we have specific and unique knowledge. While many would be dubious you could possess knowledge so many other smart people in the market lack, you might if you happened to dive deeper into the topic than anyone else, something that's entirely possible if you're driven by curiosity. Deep curiosity is therefore the ultimate edge.
Week 10 Sporcle Quiz
Apropos of nothing really, I decided to post a quiz on all the first round wideouts since 2010:
Guessing The Lines
|Game||My Line||Guessed Line||Actual Line||ML-AL||O/U||Actual O/U||MO-AO|
|Colts at Titans||5.5||4||2||3.5||48||49||-1|
|Eagles at Giants||1||-2.5||-3.5||4.5||45||44.5||0.5|
|Jaguars at Packers||11.5||13||13.5||-2||52||52||0|
|Football Team at Lions||3||3.5||4||-1||44||45.5||-1.5|
|Texans at Browns||3.5||4.5||3||0.5||53||53.5||-0.5|
|Buccaneers at Panthers||-3||-3||-4.5||1.5||52||50.5||1.5|
|Chargers at Dolphins||4||4.5||2.5||1.5||54||48||6|
|Broncos at Raiders||4.5||4.5||5||-0.5||50||52||-2|
|Bills at Cardinals||3||3||1.5||1.5||50||56||-6|
|49ers at Saints||10.5||9.5||9.5||1||49||50||-1|
|Seahawks at Rams||3||2.5||2||1||53||55.5||0|
|Bengals at Steelers||6||7||7.5||-1.5||47||47||0|
|Ravens at Patriots||-2.5||-3.5||-7||4.5||45||43||2|
|Vikings at Bears||0||3||-2.5||2.5||44||45||-1|
My biggest disparities are the Titans, Giants and Pats, and I'll be on all three in Beating the Book. My totals were pretty far off in the Chargers-Dolphins and Bills-Cardinals too.
Week 9 Observations
- The Buccaneers had four carries all game, for a total of nine yards, not including Blaine Gabbert's surrender kneel-down on the last play.
- Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette combined for nine of Tom Brady's 22 completions for a total of 50 yards. Mike Evans had the longest catch of the game, 22 yards in a contest where the Bucs needed to hurry and get the ball down the field.
- Antonio Brown's arrival and Chris Godwin's return were non-factors.
- Tom Brady threw three picks, managed only 5.5 YPA and took three sacks. There was nothing wrong with his arm – he just couldn't set his feet and throw.
- The normally sure-handed Rob Gronkowski caught only one pass and dropped a TD.
- Taysom Hill led the Saints in rushing, and the Saints completed passes to 12 different receivers.
- Michael Thomas (6-5-51) led the way, but he wasn't needed. Drew Brees looked sharp, but he was comfortable most of the night, taking only one sack, though he did lose a fumble.
- The Saints are arguably the best team in the NFL.
- Tua Tagovailoa played great in his second start with 8.9 YPA, two TDs, no picks and some nifty scrambling (7-for-35) when it was badly needed. And he did it in the face of a fair amount of pressure. Tua, Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow might go down as one of the all-time great QB classes.
- Jordan Howard looks like trough Eddie George. Some guy named Salvon Ahmed was much better.
- Preston Williams looked good until he left with a foot injury, but DeVante Parker (7-6-64) made plays late even with Patrick Peterson on him much of the time.
- Jason Sanders made field goals from 50 (the game-winner) and 56. I say this all the time, but the quality of kicking in 2020 is mind-bogglingly high.
- Brian Flores probably should not have kicked the 50-yard FG on 4th-and-1 with a few minutes left on the clock, but probabilities don't exist in a vacuum, and if you knew it would bait Kliff Kingsbury into doing the same on the following drive, it makes more sense. Kingsbury got what he deserved with the Zane Gonzalez miss for such a gutless call.
- Good focus by Shaq Lawson on the fumble six, where he calmly looked the rolling loose ball into his hands and ran it back for a score. Most linemen spazz out trying to grab or fall on it.
- Kyler Murray might push Lamar Jackson's 2019 for the greatest QB fantasy season of all time (tough Russell Wilson 2020 is right there with both.) Murray had 283 passing yards, three TDs, no picks, 106 rush yards and a score on the ground. His season-long numbers prorate to 4,260 passing yards, 32 TD passes, 14 picks, 1,086 rushing yards and 16 rushing TDs. Murray's numbers are no fluke, either. He's a quicker and faster Wilson with similar touch on the rainbow deep balls. He's neither the field general nor the pocket passer Wilson is yet, but Murray's upside feels more sustainable than Jackson's.
- The Steelers are 8-0, but their offense looks shaky. I'd make the Saints and Chiefs favorites against them on a neutral field.
- I took the Cowboys plus 13.5, and the cover was never in doubt, except when the Steelers went up 24-19 with a few minutes left and attempted the two-point conversion. Had they made it, they'd have been up seven, just a pick-six away from the cover with a desperate Garrett Gilbert taking chances on a final drive. It just goes to show how precarious even the biggest underdog bets can be.
- Gilbert played credibly against arguably the league's top defense. I'd imagine Andy Dalton comes back when healthy, but Gilbert might have earned himself work as a backup for a few years.
- I finally dropped Tony Pollard in a few leagues this week because it occurred to me having the sure backup in Dallas wasn't exactly the same proposition as before the year, and Ezekiel Elliott already had COVID and never gets hurt anyway. Of course, Zeke showed up on the injury report Wednesday and nearly missed the game.
- There's not much more to say about Herbert – he delivers every game, and it's not his fault his receivers are dropping TDs or his coach is botching the clock management.
- I assumed Kallen Ballage (15-69-1, 3-2-15) was out of the league by now, but there he was, balling in Los Angeles. I have no idea if or when Austin Ekeler is coming back, but the Chargers sorely miss him.
- I was down on Keenan Allen (11-9-103-1) because Philip Rivers, who targeted him all the time, left, but Allen's situation is better than ever.
- I had the Chargers minus 1.5, so initially I was upset when the game-winning TD was overturned on replay, but when I thought about it more, the Chargers would only have been up one and almost certainly would have knelt down on the PAT try. Why risk a block and return with no time on the clock?
- The Raiders show up, but besides Josh Jacobs, whose output since Week 1 has been modest, it's hard to like any of their fantasy players.
- It turns out Gardnew Minshew's thumb might have been holding back DJ Chark (12-7-146-1.) Or maybe it's just that Chark is finally healthy or got to face the Texans secondary.
- Jake Luton looked credible, and remember Minshew is only a sixth-round pick himself in whom the Jaguars don't have a huge investment. Kudos to Luton and the epic spread-covering drive while failing to convert the two-point try. Pitch perfect if you had the dog.
- Duke Johnson (16-41-1, 4-4-32) got a shot, didn't do much and also lost a fumble. But he'll be the starter if David Johnson (concussion) misses more time.
- What an opportunist Alex Smith is, taking advantage of a gruesome Kyle Allen injury to get his chance! Smith looked good until the game-sealing interceptions on the last two drives. I imagine the job is his for the foreseeable future.
- People mock Dave Gettleman all the time, but his offseason signing of corner James Bradberry and the trade for Leonard Williams, who had to be re-signed, have shored up the defense. Terry McLaurin (8-7-115-1) had a big day, but his 68-yard TD was on a play where Bradberry was on the other side.
- The Giants run blocking was good Sunday, with both Wayne Gallman (14-68-1, 2-1-9) and Alfred Morris (9-67-0) having room to run.
- Daniel Jones played better too. He took five sacks, had only 6.2 YPA, but he threw the ball away rather than turning it over, and the Football Team's pass rush is fierce.
- Evan Engram made a great TD catch, extending for a ball, hauling it in and holding on as he went to the ground. He also tipped a ball (slightly behind him) into the air that was nearly picked, dropped a perfect throw that cost them a key first down late in the game and was called for an offensive PI. The Giants should have traded him before the deadline.
- Joe Judge seems like a good coach – the Giants always show up, no matter the opponent, and this was a road game against a bye-week-rested team after they played on Monday night. But his punt on 4th-and-3 from the Team's 39 after which McLaurin got his long TD was beyond nutless.
- Dalvin Cook (22-206-2, 2-246) looks unstoppable, and Vikings are built almost entirely around him these days.
- Matthew Stafford's red-zone picks were tough to take in a game where the cover seemed to be in reach.
- I had the Chiefs minus 10.5, and I felt like they'd do it when they were up nine, but their defense just couldn't get a key stop. To his credit, Teddy Bridgewater made a couple great scrambles.
- Tyreek Hill (18-9-113-2) wasn't efficient, but with that volume in a Patrick Mahomes offense, he's locked in as a top-three receiver.
- Christian McCaffrey (18-69-1, 10-10-82-1), please report to the top of the cheat sheet. On second thought, please report back down into the 40s again, pending your shoulder injury.
- Mike Davis only saw one carry but did catch five passes for 34 yards. Obviously, he'd be huge again were McCaffrey to miss more time.
- Curtis Samuel (9-9-105-1) is a bigger part of the offense now, and it seems to be coming at DJ Moore's (3-2-18) expense.
- For the second time in three weeks Joey Slye had a chance to set the all-time FG distance record and came up short. At least last time he had it on line, though.
- I took the Colts as a home dog, but liked it less and less as the game neared. Philip Rivers' chances don't just decline linearly as the defense quality increases but logarithmically.
- Jonathan Taylor (6-27-1, 2-2-7) was doing okay before losing a fumble-six, and Jordan Wilkins (11-39-0, 2-2–1) took over. It doesn't feel like we'll ever be in the clear with Taylor.
- Unlike Rivers, Jackson played well enough against a good defense and broke through with a rushing TD in the fourth quarter. The Ravens will need him to re-connect with Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews again if they expect to do damage in the playoffs, though.
- It's amazing the Bears scored 17 points in the fourth quarter after having none through three. The Bears had all the usual suspects get the ball: David Montgomery (14 carries, three targets), Allen Robinson (9-7-81), Anthony Miller (8-5-59), Jimmy Graham (6-6-55-1) and Darnell Mooney (11-5-43-0). Only 10 targets and four non-BDN carries went to anyone else.
- Russell Wilson had his worst game of the year – two picks and two fumbles – but still managed 390 passing yards, two passing TDs and a rushing TD. If you prorate his stats over a full year, you get 5,082 passing yards, 56 passing TDs, 530 rushing yards and two rushing TDs.
- Josh Allen (415 yards, three TDs, no picks, 14 rushing yards, one rushing TD) had a monstrous game. The Seattle defense is the ideal opponent for fantasy QBs.
- I made the Falcons minus four my best bet, and it sure looked in the bag at 34-13 with nine minutes left, but of course I had to sweat it out.
- Todd Gurley is a workhorse and a TD machine, and it doesn't matter whether you think he's good. If you took him in the third round, you're perfectly happy. Unless it was ahead of DK Metcalf.
- Drew Lock is this year's Minshew – the scrub QB who lights it up in garbage time.
- Cam Newton played well. He only ran for 16 yards on 10 carries, but he scored twice and scrambled out of trouble, turning would-be sacks into incompletions or positive plays. He was mostly accurate except for a miss on a wide open deep ball to Jakobi Meyers.
- Speaking of whom Meyers (14-12-169-0) was everywhere and caught everything. Had Newton hit him on the deep ball, we're talking about a 230-yard game too.
- The Patriots running. game wasn't dominant, but it worked. Damien Harris (14-71-0) and Rex Burkhead (12-56-1, 3-3-11) both played well, but James White (5-4-24) is the pass catcher and Newton the goal line back, so the upside is limited. Harris left late in the game with a chest injury after taking a big hit, too.
- Joe Flacco played well aside from the late pick. He got 10.9 YPA, threw for three TDs, took only one sack and was largely poised and accurate. Unlike Newton, he didn't miss on the deep ball to Breshad Perriman.
- Perriman (7-5-101-2) looked like the guy the Jets were excited about when they signed him. He's one of the league's burners, but also big and physical. Denzel Mims (8-4-62) made a couple plays, and Jamison Crowder (2-2-26) was either still compromised or the player the Patriots decided to stop.
- A Jets game wouldn't be complete without the obligatory Frank Gore suck-up fest, and naturally it occurred, though I caught only part of it on the 40-minute condensed version. My loss, no doubt.
- Remember the Chris Herndon hype this preseason?
- An underrated form of NFL-watching misery is rooting against teams/players and seeing them break apparently sure tackles for crucial yards. The CIA should make detainees play fantasy football and bet ATS, using only previously-played games wherein the defenses you need to make stops simply refuse to wrap up or prevent the player from falling forward over the line to gain. Sure, it might violate the Geneva Conventions, but when has that ever stopped them?