There must be something about the 10th of every month that gets me in the writing kinda mood. I started to brainstorm some ideas last night about what to post today, and noticed that I had begun drafts for previous posts on September 10th and October 10th. So, if you had been eagerly awaiting a new installment from this blog, first of all, you could have just texted me because most everyone who reads this is someone I know.
I also debated posting and offering analysis as the season went on, but I considered the inherent disadvantage in posting my thoughts and theories during the season and giving my competitors the advantage of reading my mind (assuming they actually wanted to use my advice).
But I have had the itch to write for over two months, and at this point, sharing any ideas won't be too detrimental because I am COMPLETELY DOMINATING EVERY LEAGUE......well not really, but in the five leagues I am participating in I am 32-16-1 with a slight chance of winning in one other league tonight (all other match-ups have been decided). Even if I lose some place in the standings, I am on pace to most likely make the playoffs in all leagues.
Before sharing any insight though, I'd like to grade myself on how my summer predictions have gone.
Most Successful Prediction: The Success of the Carolina Panthers
This is by far the best preseason prediction I made. I was convinced the Panthers could make the playoffs this year, and started their defense in the two high-stakes leagues I participate in since week 1, despite playing Seattle and being told by every analyst except Adam Schefter that they were going to get smoked. Ironically, the only time I didn't use Carolina's D was when they whooped the Giants, but they at least remained on my bench and have been used ever since. After watching them scare my beloved Bears into a near-upset last season, the names Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy became ingrained in my brain, I already knew Thomas Davis was good and that Luke Kuechly would most likely to be an All-Pro before too long, and the addition of Star Lotulelei was a major steal in the draft (Mel Kiper had this guy #1 in his early big-board predictions, prior to teams discovering he had a heart issue during his physical). Needles to say, these players have all had great success, but even the secondary, which I did not know as much about, has played fantastic and helped this team go from an afterthought after 5 games of the season into legit NFC title contender.
Worst Prediction of All Time: Thinking Josh Freeman would be a difference maker this year
I forgot I even thought about Josh Freeman and success in the same sentence until I checked some old blog posts, and literally read something along the lines of "I think Josh Freeman keeps the Bucs competitive and has a bounce-back year this season." Ouch.
I still like Josh Freeman, and I still thought he could have a successful career prior to his one-game implosion for the Vikings this season. I think this game unfairly damaged his reputation and that he will most likely be a career back-up for the rest of his career, which is unfortunate.
I did think the Bucs would be 'competitive' to the tune of at least 6 or 7 wins, but even if I had predicted them to be terrible, they have been beyond terrible this year. You know your franchise is in trouble when given the opportunity to remove someone from their organization, they choose their potential franchise quarterback over their unsuccessful head coach or their MRSA outbreak, which has officially had a longer NFL career than Ryan Leaf.
In-Between Predictions that were sort of ok: Guessing QB success
I had some hits and some misses when predicting QB success for this season. My biggest hit would be Philip Rivers. I explained that he had been a full standard deviation above average in yardage and touchdowns for 4 out of the past 5 seasons, and that he would be a mid-draft steal. He has certainly had some inconsistent moments this season, but he is a top-10 QB and has shown flashes of fantasy awesomeness (but most importantly, he has given me the chance to tell my students that I actually used math to predict something in real life, and it worked!!).
With the crew of young QBs (Luck, Wilson, Kaepernick, Newton, RG III) I was very off with my predictions. I had considered Luck and Wilson to be the type of QB I would want on my REAL team, but not on my fantasy team, and I now want them on BOTH of my teams. They both far exceeded my expectations, and have convinced me that they are the real deal. I thought Kaep and Newton would take the world by storm, not so much because of the read option, but because they were good passers AND would keep plays alive with their legs when necessary, not just through designed runs. Well, oops on that. Newton has actually had a relatively quiet fantasy season, but has matured as a leader and QB in REAL football, which I am happy to see. I still think Kaep has the chance to have a fantastic career, I just think that two things have happened: 1. Teams have learned more about how to scheme against him. 2. He has nobody reliable to catch the ball besides Vernon Davis. I think the loss of Mario Manningham until recently, and Michael Crabtree for the entire season (so far) have really limited Kaep's opportunities to succeed in the passing game. The guy still has a great arm and good accuracy, and the 49ers are still winning, but he has certainly not been the fantasy beast I thought he would be.
Stafford would be good (bingo)
Romo would be good (bingo)
Eli would not be consistent (bingo)
Schaub would stink (bingo)
Carson Palmer would be good (oof)
Doug Martin would not be effective (sorta bingo, injuries are unpredictable) (kinda check)
Alfred Morris would not be effective (super miss by me, he has been the model of consistency, and I love his touchdown dance, you win Alfred) (horrible miss)
RB's over 30 years old who I thought would do well/stink
-Sproles - for the most part (I am in a PPR league with kick return yards, so definitely so) (bingo)
-Fred Jackson (much better than expected) (miss)
-Steven Jackson (sigh....I keep holding out hope that he will be good one day, and that day will not be in 2013) (miss....for 9th straight year)
-Arian Foster (avoid = good job by me, but you can buy stock in him??) (bingo by default, this wasn't much of a stretch)
-Gore (better than expected, currently 6th in NFL in rushing) (kinda miss)
-DeAngelo Williams (quietly has worked his way to being 10th in NFL in rushing, albeit only 2 TDs and a longest run of 27, so surprisingly better than I expected) (miss)
-Patriots avoiding the NFL trend of uber-passing and just run the ball a whole bunch (true, for awhile I didn't think it would be Stevan Ridley, but now it finally is, and they are currently 9th overall in rushing this year) (kinda bingo)
Avoiding boom or bust guys like DeSean Jackson, Nate Washington, Mike Wallace, Jacoby Jones (miss, bingo, bingo, bingo - but injury related bingo)
WR's over 30 I thought would do well/stink
Andre Johnson would do well (for awhile, thought this was a big miss, but Case Keenum is making my prediction look great!) (bingo)
Vincent Jackson would do well (bingo)
Roddy White would remain consistent (ummmmmmmmmmmm.......yeah, look over there)
Marques Colston would remain consistent (barring injury, who knows what could have been. He will most likely average out to a bit below his career numbers, but it's hard to know when that success will occur and if his recent output will continue through the season) (kinda miss)
Welker would remain consistent (not much of a stretch, but believe it or not, people worried that Peyton Manning wouldn't have enough balls to throw around to all receivers prior to the season) (kinda bingo)
Steve Smith/Anquan Boldin/Reggie Wayne finishing in that order (this is only a win by default: Wayne was far exceeding my expectations prior to injury, Steve Smith has been ok as a WR3, and Boldin has done his usual play one awesome game and kinda stink the rest of the year) (kinda bingo)
Jordan Cameron (and for that matter Brandon Weeden and Browns Defense would be good (bingo followed by horrific miss, followed by kinda bingo)
Jason Witten remaining consistent (not performing at his usual Witten-ness, but still been decent) (kinda bingo)
Kyle Rudolph (and anyone who is touchdown dependent) would have a rough year (bingo)
Gronk's replacement (at the time Jake Ballard, then became Zac Sudfeld) would not automatically be great just because he took a great player's spot on a team (bingo for me! - Sudfeld is already on the Jets, Ballard is on the Cardinals)
Greg Olsen would be a top 5 TE (kinda miss - he is currently 9th in my leagues, but will most likely not finish in the top 5)
Jermaine Gresham would have a breakout season (mega miss, and not just because Tyler Eifert is around. The Bengals look like Super Bowl contenders for a month and then can't throw a touchdown the next. Regardless of Dalton though, Gresham has not been nearly as good as I thought he would be)
Tony Gonzalez continuing his RoboCop-esque ability to not age and keep catching touchdowns (bingo)
Owen Daniels to be avoided at all costs (not much of a prediction, but bingo)
Antonio Gates being decent, but only as a second option or Flex (oops)
Anyone playing Jacksonville (until this past weekend, great move, but if you really couldn't make this prediction on your own, maybe you were one of those people who is anxiously awaiting Arian Foster's IPO)
General Thing I Mentioned Doing that Paid Off
I reiterated many times the importance of knowing your league and its settings. You can read all the fantasy articles you want, but they are all written from the frame of reference of a basic, non-PPR league. Where this has really helped me is with my leagues that reward for return yards. It's why I won games fielding a receiving corps of Ted Ginn, Cordarelle Patterson and Golden Tate (which has turned out to be a boon for me because he has now become the #1 option in Seattle and may remain so even when Harvin returns). Even if these players had decent games ( a few catches, a few returns, maybe one run), they would usually add up to about 10 points.
I would say I have earned a B- or B, because if my team's have a .653 winning percentage, that would win me 2 out of 8 NFL divisions thus far, and at the very least, get me into the playoffs. In the world of fantasy, it will most likely get me into the playoffs in 4 or 5 of my 5 leagues.
For my future predictions for the rest of the season (and prior to the fantasy playoffs), tune in next time (which statistically seems like it will be in one month, but I will try my best to write before December 10th).
Until next time,