Monday, May 31, 2010

So you're picking out a fantasy magazine

We all have different wants and needs from a fantasy football magazine. Since the mags should be on the rack soon, here are some of the features I'm looking for in a fantasy football magazine.

Stats for the past three seasons
How the player performed the season before is the most important information, but it's not the only relevant information. I want to see what players have done over the previous three seasons, since the most recent season might have been fluky (either good or bad), and I want to see how the player has performed on a more long-term basis (I'm looking for consistency and reliability).

Game log stats for previous season
There's a lot you can learn from looking at stats for each individual game as opposed to total stats. You learn what players are consistent and inconsistent, what players boosted their numbers with a couple big games, what players started strong but faded, what players came on strong at the end with more playing time, what players had good streaks and bad streaks, and more.

Targets for WRs and TEs
I want to know how often a player was thrown to, not just how often he caught it.

Team Info pages
You need to know team context, and a fantasy magazine should provide pages with team info. The specific knowledge I'm looking for includes:

--Rush/Pass Ratio
--League ranking in rushing and passing
--Projected Strength of Schedule
--Coaching changes (specifically head coach and offensive coordinator), and analysis of the impact
--Roster changes, and analysis of the impact

Rookie Introductions
I need information on skill position rookies, their teams, their skills, and their potential playing time. I can learn about NFL players and their stats pretty easily: I do, however, need information, analysis, and commentary about potential impact rookies. The only rookie position I'm interested in drafting is RB, but I'm still interested in QBs, WRs, and TEs for how they might impact teammates.

League Schedule
Preferably, a fantasy mag will have a week by week NFL schedule on a single page.

Simple Accessibility
Preferably, I'd like to see a player's total numbers for the past three seasons and his game logs for the previous season on the same page. That, however, appears difficult to do. It's obviously an assumed expectation that the stats are arranged in neat tables. It's nice if the positional rankings are easy to locate, though I'll probably bookmark that anyway. Having the simplified rankings (cheat sheets) is nice to look at during the the draft.

I'll be making my own documents to use for prep and draft time anyway (probably), but I want a magazine that makes prep and draft time easy without such documents.

What are some key features you are looking for in a fantasy football magazine?

And perhaps just as importantly: what are some common features of fantasy magazines that really annoy you?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fantasy: Should you load up players from one great offensive team?

For years I've tried to write about fantasy football on this blog without actually revealing what I think to my fellow competitors who read this blog. I've finally found the way around this conundrum: an Argument/ Counterargument gimmick, where I write both arguments. I'll do my best with both arguments, and you probably won't know which argument I actually favor. Since I'm writing both arguments, I'll go ahead and ask the question myself.

Question: Should you try to draft a lot of players from the same elite offense, or should you diversify your roster?

Argument: Absolutely.

Let's call it a Juggernaut strategy, and it's probably only feasible in an auction draft.

Here are the top scorers in the Hazelweird scoring (50 pass yards = 1, pass TD = 3, 20 rush/receive yards = 20, rush/receive TD = 6) at QB, RB, TE, three WRs, and K. I'm going to leave out the #2 scoring RB because of the nature of the comparison: unless your juggernaut offense has a two-back system, you're probably only going to start the feature back, and you'll be able to start a different running back in your lineup.

#1 Fantasy Lineup (1,090.21)
QB: Drew Brees (1) (189.76) (2)
RB: Chris Johnson (221.45)
WR: Randy Moss (141.2)
WR: Andre Johnson (3) (132.95)
WR: Larry Fitzgerald (4) (132.6)
TE: Vernon Davis (126.25)
K: Nate Kaeding (146)

Let's just compare this #1 Fantasy Lineup to the team nearest to our hearts, the 2009 Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes were the #2 scoring team in the league in 2009. I don't think they're actually the top choice for 2010 Juggernauts (the Colts and Packers are probably better), but the title of this blog is "Pacifist Viking."

QB: Brett Favre (183.04)
RB: Adrian Peterson (198.95)
WR: Sidney Rice (113.6)
WR: Percy Harvin (82.25) (5)
WR: Bernard Berrian (54.9)
K: Ryan Longwell (132)

That's over 200 points fewer than the #1 Fantasy Lineup (at seven positions). OK, 200 points is significant, but then again, you're probably not going to compete against anybody who has the the all the top scorers at all of these positions. Still, the place you'd struggle at most is at WR; even a great team's WR2 and WR3 probably aren't going to get as many consistent points as if you picked up WRs elsewhere. Certainly you could just eliminate the WR3 and still go with a Juggernaut's WR1 and WR2, but I'd actually recommend going Juggernaut with QB, RB, WR1, TE, and K, then fill out your WR2 and WR3 with other WRs. If you do that, here's how the #1 Fantasy Lineup compares to some other Juggernaut options

#1 Fantasy Lineup (QB, RB, WR, TE, K): 824.66

2009 Vikings Lineup: (Favre, Peterson, Rice, Shiancoe, Longwell): 721.89

At the top five fantasy positions, the Minnesota Vikings' Juggernaut would be around points fewer than the optimum fantasy lineup. That's aided by having Favre (very close to #1 QB) and Peterson (#2 RB), but strip away those underproducing WR2 and WR3 positions, and you've got a pretty good lineup. It's also a much easier lineup to obtain (in an auction) than the #1 Fantasy Lineup.

Hey now: a 2009 Viking Juggernaut lineup of QB, RB, WR1, TE, and K is 102.77 points short of the highest possible 2009 score at those positions. Spread that out over 16 weeks, and you're just 6.4 points short of an optimum score. 6.4 points per week is a lot--but not when you're comparing a plausible fantasy lineup to a fantasy lineup consisting of the #1 scorer at each of these positions.

The key to making this strategy is to get a good RB2, WR2, and WR3. You're not just getting the Juggernaut's points: if you're smart and lucky, you can supplement your Juggernaut with legitimate fantasy starter production at the other positions. Considering the cost of a Juggernaut lineup, I think you could still fill these positions with quality fantasy starters. If your Juggernaut is pricey, I still wouldn't worry: there are always good fantasy producers that emerge that were cheap in the auction draft (think Ray Rice), or that you can find on the waiver wire (think NYG Steve Smith).

But why would you want to go with the Juggernaut strategy? Aside from the obvious desire to draft high-scoring players, why load up on one team?

Consistency. Sometimes a team's QB throws multiple TDs and the RB gets zero; sometimes the RB scores multiple TDs and the QB gets zero. Get a good Juggernaut, and you won't have to worry about getting skunked too often.

Hoarding. If you have, say, Philip Rivers, but your opponent has Vincent Jackson, Rivers throwing a TD to Jackson actually hurts you.

Affordability. I think you could get the QB, RB, WR1, TE, and K from a Juggernaut for cheaper than you could get the #1, QB, #1 RB, #1 WR, #1 TE, and #1 K.(6) Indeed, in most auction drafts you would be unable to get the #1 player at each position.

(1)This was remarkably close: three other QBs also scored over 180: Peyton Manning (189), Brett Favre (183.04), and Matt Schaub (182.4).
(2)For the sake of fantasy football planning, I exclude a QB's rushing stats (for a couple reasons); if I did include them, Aaron Rodgers' 316 yards, 5 touchdowns rushing would propel him to #1.
(3) With two straight 1,500 yard seasons, he's rightly regarded as the top WR in yardage-heavy leagues. But take note: his next 10 TD season will be his first.
(4) Right behind these three? Miles Austin (131.9).
(5) I excluded Harvin's return TDs, only because I excluded QB rush numbers. Normally I wouldn't: the special teams threat of Percy Harvin, or DeSean Jackson, counts for me slightly more than a QB's rushing potential.
(6) Granted, in 2009 Chris Johnson would have been affordable and Vernon Davis dirt cheap.

Counterargument: Too much goes wrong

Last season in the Hazelweird League, I had Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, and Austin Collie. After week 15, I was 70-50 in the cross-country standings, one game out of first place, and I led the league in points scored. Then the Colts, having clinched the AFC's #1 seed, rested their starters. I went 6-10 in the last two weeks, and ended up in second place, eight games out of first place of the Hazelweird Trophy standings (I also missed out on scoring the most points in the league--AP recognition--by just three points).

After 2007, it might have looked wise to stock up on Patriots, who had just finished the highest scoring season ever. As you know, Tom Brady was injured in week one: the 2008 Patriots were still a good offense, but was any Patriot drafted that season worth the price paid? Brady got nothing, Wes Welker scored three touchdowns, Randy Moss followed up 1,493-23 with 1,008-11, and no RB had more than 727 yards rushing. If you spent the massive amount it would take to stock up on Patriots, you probably had a lousy fantasy season.

It doesn't even take an injury or an early-clinching-thus-rest situation to doom your fantasy team if it is reliant on one offense. Even elite offenses have a bad week, and one bad week can really ruin your season. In head-to-head standings (as stupid as head-to-head standings are), that one bad week could come in the playoffs. If you were loaded up on 2007 Patriots, you were probably dominating your league. And if you played with a playoff system, you probably didn't win your league: the Pats played week 15 in cold and windy conditions, and managed one offensive touchdown (from Laurence Maroney!).

Furthermore, we have the problem of prediction: the 2010 Vikings are not the 2009 Vikings. Sure, that's the nature of fantasy football: we're all guessing at who will be good in year n+1 based on year n numbers. But few drafters hit on every pick: you have some hits and misses. That's fine: if your hits are really good and you are smart in trades and free agency, you can cover your misses. But if you draft a Juggernaut team strategy, you've only got one chance for a hit: if your Juggernaut misses, you've got nothing to cover it. It's an all-or-nothing fantasy strategy.

And even if that Juggernaut is a hit, there's still the problem of breadth: say the QB, TE, K, and WR1 produce elite numbers. A Juggernaut offense could still have a RB that scores few TDs. So you're getting elite production from some positions, but getting duds at other positions. If you had diversified your lineup, those weak positions on your roster might not be weak positions.

You want one more big problem with a Juggernaut philosophy? Bye week. Prepare to suck. If you think you can withstand that awful bye week score, go for it.

A plausible alternative is a QB-RB Juggernaut Combo--get the QB and feature RB from the same dominant offense. If the #1 plausible combo is Drew Brees/Chris Johnson (411.21)*, how about Favre/Peterson (381.99)? There's your consistency: basically, if the #2 scoring offense scores a touchdown, you're probably getting points. If you want to add Ryan Longwell, you're getting points when the Vikings score points, and they score a lot of points. While that's nice, I still wouldn't go out of my way to secure a QB-RB Juggernaut Combo: the goal is to get the most points, and it doesn't really matter what team those players are on.

Look, it's fun to get kinky and think of clever ways to draft a unique team: during summer. When draft time comes, just draft the best players you can. Don't worry about bulking up with one Juggernaut team.

*Though I wouldn't exclude a QB's rushing numbers as the Argument did: Aaron Rodgers can probably be relied upon for a couple hundred rushing yards and a few rushing TDs: why exclude that? But in the Counterargument, I'll keep the terms of the Argument.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blizzard: Wednesday Night

Actual Dialogue
PV: I only want two things in life: for the Vikings to win the Super Bowl, and for Ted to meet their mother. Which of those things is going to happen first !?! Honest to God!

Wife of PV: I think Ted is going to meet their mother.

Some Links

Toby Gerhart (Star Tribune)

Matt Schaub (Star Tribune)

Marshawn Lynch (Yahoo!)

Bears' wide receivers (ESPN NFL North Blog)

The Titans declined in 2009 because of their pass defense (Advanced NFL Stats)

Jared Allen's mullet (Shutdown Corner). I don't care, even a little bit. Still thought it was something to link to.

Why should you care where the Super Bowl is played? (Lawyers, Guns, & Money)

Fantasy Heavy
Brandon Funston's Big Board (Yahoo!)

John Hansen looks at the top 20 fantasy rookie prospects (Yahoo!). This is exactly the sort of fantasy article I'm looking for: introduce me to the players I don't know, rather than give me opinions on the players I can already analyze myself.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My advice to the kids

If you're a teenager, you should piss away most of your money on sports cards (what else are you going to piss your money away on? Making a romantic impression on whomever you have a crush on? I've got news for you, kids: if you're reading this blog, your crush doesn't like you). Spend most of your time looking at these sports cards. It will give you hours of pleasure and more knowledge of sports than you'll ever need.

If you're lucky, you'll get to store these sports cards in shoe boxes, and you'll be able to leave them in your parents' storage room for over a decade. Then you'll pull them out and relive your childhood. Probably, your spouse will look at you disgustedly the whole time, and you'll remember that your teenage crush never liked you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Blizzard: Sunday, May 23

The Vikings are having trouble getting public funding for their stadium because of democracy: in a recent poll, 64% of Minnesotans oppose it (MPR). That's a frustrating thing about the rising rhetoric of the Vikings: the Vikings are trying to get legislators to do something that a large majority of Minnesotans oppose, but they seem to be getting angrier and angrier about legislators' reluctance to do such a thing. It's certainly not the case that the majority of people are always right about policy issues (the majority can be in the wrong, factually, morally, or pragmatically), but it still matters that the Vikings are trying to get our money for their stadium, and most of us don't want them to. In St. Paul, schools are closing, consolidating, and restructuring due to funding issues. A serious, not rhetorical question: why should tax revenue be created to build a Viking stadium, rather than to provide better funding for Minnesota public schools? But I also know that at some point, there will need to be some public money for a Viking stadium, or the Vikings will leave Minnesota: that's the Realpolitik.

Brett Favre's surgery means Brett Favre is probably coming back (Kevin Seifert).

And Kevin Williams and Pat Williams are probably not getting suspended in 2010 (Kevin Seifert).

Roger Goodell's dad (New York Times).

Why do you care about what a writer predicts or ranks (Ta-Nehisi Coates)?

Fantasy Heavy
Fantasy relevant questions for beat writers (Rotoworld).

The Cardinals' running game (SI).

Ryan Mathews (USA Today). Because I had a sports nervous breakdown that lasted four months, I read no draft previews, and so before very recently, I had never heard of most 2010 NFL rookies. And yet players like Mathews are of legitimate fantasy concern, and I have a long history of drafting rookie RBs (and with a pretty good success rate), so I need to look for stories like this to read up on. For me the key to drafting rookies isn't the player but the situation: as Philip Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment suggests situation and role dictates behavior more than character or personality, so too does the situation dictate the effectiveness and productivity of rookie RBs.

I'm interested in recommendations for other quality fantasy football websites: I've really streamlined my football reading, but I'm interested in adding more useful sites to my regular reading (and to Blizzard links).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Jason Cole ranks teams by quarterback (Yahoo!).

The Vikings' statement regarding the political lack of priority for a new stadium (Pioneer Press). If you must know, I have extremely mixed feelings about a public-funded Viking stadium, at both a rational and emotional level. I feel that every argument for either side has a quite reasonable counterargument.

Christopher Gates on how the Vikes could do starting the season without Pat and Kevin (Daily Norseman).

Really good comments from Ross Tucker on voluntary offseason workouts (SI).

Vic Carucci on David Garrard and the Jaguars (

Fantasy Heavy
Christopher Harris's top 200 (ESPN).

Matthew Berry's top 100 (ESPN).

Christopher Harris's mock draft (ESPN). Would you judge me harshly if I told you I've done many fantasy mock drafts in my day?

David Komer with a lot of good stuff (SI).

Jahvid Best (SI).

Adam Levitan on the Rotoworld/Beckett mock draft (Pancake Blocks). Here's what I don't get: when these magazines get a bunch of individuals together to do a "mock" draft, do they really just have a mock? Wouldn't they just go ahead and have a league, now that they've drafted teams? And if they do, then why still call it a mock?

The Steelers' fantasy prospects, from Hal Spivack (NFL Fanhouse). I would love to draft Mike Wallace, just so I can scream "Where's Wallace!?!" at the TV next fall.

Where do we go from here?
Since I had the sports fan equivalent of a nervous breakdown and basically avoided football for four months (I have a brief recollection that Ladanian Tomlinson was almost a Viking--that can't have been real, was it?), I feel a little behind. This summer, I plan on buying not only a fantasy football magazine or two (but not Fanball's mag: I'm looking for a change), but maybe one or two general NFL preview magazines. I know, the internet has mostly made such things pointless. But I remember loving such magazines as a kid, and I'll enjoy the thrill of sitting around flipping through a magazine (I freaking love magazines) more than I'll enjoy sitting with a sweaty hot laptop on my lap.

One thing I'll never again comment on here
There are some useful football column gimmicks. A mock draft isn't about being right: it's an easy, concise way to inform readers about the draft order, the top prospects, and team needs.

I might even come around to seeing that Power Rankings columns can serve a function. But there's one thing that's beyond pointless: responding to an individual football writer's Power Rankings with anger. First of all, who gives a shit? Second of all, who gives a shit? Third of all, why get worked up about what one person thinks? Fourth of all, what possible impact could one individual's power rankings have? And above all, don't actually respond to a football writer's Power Rankings: all you do is verify for him/her that he/she is important, make him/her feel edgy and controversial even when he/she is not, and you give him/her an easy next column, responding to the angry critics. Don't do it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Basketball blues

The NBA draft lottery for Timberwolves fans is like the playoffs for Viking fans: we get our hopes up every time, every time we're massively disappointed, and every time we react with the same "This always happens to us!" combination of anger, depression, and shrug-your-shoulders-and-grimace ennui.

The Minnesota Timberwolves won 15 games last season, and they weren't even that good. I can imagine some scenarios in which they aren't unwatchably awful next season (realistic scenarios, even), but those scenarios are pretty unlikely (they depend mostly on huge leaps from Jonny Flynn and Kevin Love, and the addition of a guard or small forward with legitimate scoring ability). They might be just as palpably terrible next year as they were this year.

The Timberwolves have some pieces I can talk myself into (Jonny Flynn, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio), but they sure seem a long, long way from ever being competitive again.


One thing about being a Timberwolves fan outside the KG era: I really look forward to the NBA lottery. The Wolves need a guard-forward type scorer like crazy: my fantasies revolve around Evan Turner.

For some reason, the NFL Network replayed a 1994 game between the Vikings and Bears. It is sitting in my DVR, and I hope to blog the experience of watching it soon. Because why not? Why the hell not?

Viking stadium: not yet (Kevin Seifert).

On paying Adrian Peterson (Kevin Seifert). Seifert's NFC North blog at ESPN is pretty spectacular.

Lito Sheppard ( I'd like some info on his football role and current abilities, but whatever.

Some good things this Mark Craig post (Star Tribune).

Fantasy: Wide Receiver Numbers

For years I've tried to write about fantasy football on this blog without actually revealing what I think to my fellow competitors who read this blog. I've finally found the way around this conundrum: an Argument/ Counterargument gimmick, where I write both arguments. I'll do my best with both arguments, and you probably won't know which argument I actually favor. Since I'm writing both arguments, I'll go ahead and ask the question myself.

Question: is there a particular number that is most useful in evaluating fantasy WR prospects?

Argument: Three-year season yardage total (or average)

Elite Wide Receivers are so wonderful in fantasy football because they are so reliable. WRs are much less injury-prone than RBs, and the elite WRs are much less prone to great swings in their statistics from year to year. Look at the career numbers of players like Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Marvin Harrison, or Torry Holt, or Chad Ochocinco. Look at the career numbers of current WRs still playing at a high level, like Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, or Reggie Wayne. When you look at these players, you see a whole string of seasons with high production in yardage and touchdowns.

Of course that doesn't mean those elite WRs can't be prone to a down year (especially when success at the position is dependent on so many other factors). It also doesn't mean there aren't great WRs that take big year-to-year swings. But in fantasy football, I'm looking for consistency and reliability. And that's why I'm looking for those elite WRs that do produce the high numbers year in, year out.

That's why my #1 fantasy statistic for evaluating wide receivers is their total receiving yards for the past three seasons (to translate it into familiar single-season terms, I go ahead and average it out). I think this number will reliably show me what WRs are in their statistical primes. I think it will tell me who can be counted on for quality production from year to year. Sure, it's going to eliminate some players whose productivity hasn't stretched over three seasons, but that's fine; I don't want to spend a lot on flavor-of-the-month WRs when I could be drafting predictably reliable WRs (were you happy if you drafted Calvin Johnson for 2009 based on his breakout 2008 numbers?).

Based on this statistic, here is my list of the elite fantasy WR prospects for 2010: every WR who has averaged 1,200+ yards over the past three seasons. And of course this number can also determine the next tier of productive WRs: averaging 1,100+ or 1,000+ over three seasons is a sign of a productive fantasy WR.

1. Andre Johnson: 1,332
3. Reggie Wayne: 1,306
4. Randy Moss: 1,255
5. Roddy White: 1,246
7. Wes Welker: 1,229

Counterargument: There ain't no Santa Claus, and there ain't no magic number, either.

Your three-year-average system excludes breakout performers of the past two seasons (Sidney Rice, Vincent Jackson, NYG Steve Smith). Wide Receiver is a very team-dependent position, and your system doesn't account team circumstances, like a new QB (Larry Fitzgerald, CAR Steve Smith) or a new team (Anquan Boldin, Brandon Marshall). It doesn't account for WRs that get a lot of yards but not a lot of TDs (Wes Welker). It doesn't account for a WR who had one year of injuries, or one down year, or a year with backup/rookie/lousy QB. It doesn't account for aging WRs on the decline. Fantasy WR is an eclectic position: there are stud #1 WRs on run-first teams, there are productive #2 WRs on pass-first teams, there are possession receivers, there are deep threat receivers, there are small guys and big guys, there are guys that run a lot after the catch, etc., etc., etc.

Furthermore, what great insight does your list provide? You've basically made a list of WRs that everybody recognizes to be elite fantasy WRs (with the exception of Welker, who doesn't get TDs). At best, your system eliminates WRs that might get a lot of hype but that you deem unworthy of an expensive pick. I would argue, however, that it eliminates a lot of quality WRs that will be producing good fantasy numbers, and whom you might get cheaper than Andre freaking Johnson.

I do think there are certain singular statistics than can help you evaluate some positions (I'm partial to yards from scrimmage per game to evaluate RBs, but only from the previous season). But attempting to evaluate WRs based on a single statistic is bound to fail.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fantasy: High-Priced QB or High-Priced RB?

For years I've tried to write about fantasy football on this blog without actually revealing what I think to my fellow competitors who read this blog. I can't believe it's taken this long, but I've finally found the way around this conundrum: an Argument/Counterargument gimmick, where I write both arguments. I'll do my best with both arguments, and you probably won't know which argument I actually favor. And since I've eliminated a debate partner (frankly, I've always thought PV's only worthy debate opponent is PV), I'm going to go ahead with a Q & A gimmick wherein I make up the question on a topic I want to write about, then answer it (like I'm pretty sure PETA does in Animal Times, but can't be sure). But if there's an actual question you want me to tackle with the Fantasy Argument/Counterargument, go ahead and ask it in the comments: there's a very good chance I'll actually answer it.

Q: If you are deciding between drafting an expensive RB or an expensive QB, which position should you take? Of course it will come down to the specific players available, but is there a position principle?

Argument: Draft the RB, not the QB
Too many Quarterbacks put up good fantasy numbers to waste an expensive pick.

In 2010, there were ten quarterbacks that threw for both 4,000+ yards and 26 TD passes (ESPN). Think about that: there's a pretty good chance you were getting elite statistical production from your fantasy quarterback last year. Maybe you were in a league with more than ten teams. Maybe somebody in your league drafted two good quarterbacks and refused to trade one to you. But there were ten star fantasy quarterbacks in 2009, putting up the sort of numbers you can win a championship with. And most of those quarterbacks could be had pretty cheap.

Contrast that to running backs, and let's go with nice round numbers again, this time 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns. There were four 1,500/10 RBs: Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Frank Gore, all high-ranking, expensive fantasy RBs. Elite fantasy running backs are much harder to come by than elite fantasy quarterbacks.

It's a pass-friendly league, and you can find decent quarterbacks.

Counterargument: Draft the QB, not the RB
QBs are predictably reliable, while RBs can be busts.

Last offseason there was relative consensus on the top four fantasy running back prospects: Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Matt Forte. Peterson and Jones-Drew were highly productive, Turner was solid but missed five games with injury, Forte was a massive disappointment, and it was actually Chris Johnson that dominated the league with 2,509 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, can you name a quarterback bust from last season? I can't: 2008's passing leaders were mostly among the 2009 passing leaders. And if you spent a lot on a quarterback last season, that quarterback is probably one of those ten 4,000/26 guys. If you draft an expensive RB, he could be a big bust. If you draft an expensive QB, he's probably going to reliably get you what you were expecting.

Furthermore, PV really set an incredibly arbitrary RB standard with 1,500 total yards and 10 total touchdowns. Lower your standard to 1,400/9, and we add Thomas Jones, Jamaal Charles, and Ryan Grant, none of them expensive draft picks. Take the standard down to 1,300/8, and we add Ricky Williams, Ray Rice, and Rashard Mendenhall, again, very affordable draft picks (or mid-season free agent pickups). Sure, you probably have to get lucky. Maybe, though, if you're paying the most attention, luck will get you. The point is, there are RBs around that produce winning fantasy numbers.

Use your resources wisely: use high picks/auction money on sure things, and go cheap on riskier positions, hoping to find a breakout producer.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pacifist Viking: return to form

Of course I know avoidance wasn't a healthy reaction. Avoiding it means it was more important than it should be, and if it is that important, avoiding it means postponing dealing with emotions. But after putting my every last hope into the 2009 Redemption Dream, the idea of following through the offseason, offering commentary on the roster, speculating about moves, checking on the court proceedings of Kevin and Pat...I just couldn't do it. When the snow was still on the ground, the very idea of reading a mock draft made me sweat with the despair of meaninglessness. Sometimes I would flip to just to check on news, and I'd see a picture up from that NFC championship game, and my gut would go hollow.

And I must say, at least right now, I feel changed. I've spent years living with what can only be described as desperate hope for the Vikings to win a Super Bowl. But after the NFC championship game, after everything that happened in that game, I don't think I have that desperate hope (at least right now). I've turned fatalistic: I don't really believe the Vikings are ever going to win a Super Bowl. That game was so full of such ridiculousness, a game the Vikings could have and should have won but for such strange mistakes it can barely be fathomed. When transitioning from desperate hope to fatalism, how can one write intelligently about Lito Sheppard? How can one spend any time looking at draft prospects? It all felt so hollow, like roaming through Eliot's "The Wasteland" picking up fragments and pretending they matter. So I've stayed away, occasionally chiming in with a post that never really satisfied me.

But some time has passed, and more importantly, the first half of the football offseason--the roster moves and speculation period--is over. Now begins the second half--the waiting period. And now we come to PV's time to shine. A time to share the dreams and nightmares. A time to read the backs of football cards. A time to read literature that (on this blog, anyway) I reduce to a coping lesson on Viking fandom. A time for a lot of bad sportswriting to lambaste. A time for FANTASY FREAKING FOOTBALL (probably mostly a time for fantasy freaking football).

So I'm back, baby. I missed the childish glee, the escapist joy, the fun of following sports deeply. Rather than wallowing in a tragic view of the Minnesota Vikings, I'll return with the joy of loving a game. If nothing else, it's fantasy football planning season (I've got secrets, man. I've got secrets).

Optimism for 2010 Vikings
I spent most of 2009 believing it was the last chance. Brett Favre's miracle season at 40 can't be expected to be repeated at 41. Kevin Williams and Pat Williams are looking at a suspension at some point (and Pat Williams, a dominant force on the defense for five years, is closer to retirement too). The rest of the NFC North all looks to be improving around young quarterbacks. And there's the specter of relocation.

But maybe, just maybe, there are reasons for continued hope.

Young Skill Position Stars. Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Adrian Peterson all look like legitimate play-makers to count on for years. Having a trio like that to get the ball to makes any offense dangerous. It floors me to think of some of the skill position players that were leading this team during Brad Childress's early years; regardless of quarterback it's doubtful we'll see offense that ineffective again for a long time.

Jared Allen. In today's NFL a dominant pass rush can disrupt an opponent and make any defense effective; the Vikes still have one of the best pass-rushing ends in the league. If Allen keeps that dominant outside rush coming for several more years (and there's no reason to think he won't), a defense with as many talented players as the Vikes have can still dominate.

There will be joy in 2010. I don't think it will be quite the joy we got 13 times in the 2009 season, but the Vikings have players to give us joyous moments.

The Twins
I won't know how to feel about the Twins until the Viking stadium situation is resolved. If the Vikings relocate, I'll hate the Twins until death or dementia, whichever comes first. If the Vikings get a new stadium to stay in Minnesota long-term, I'll probably embrace the Twins. Until then, I'd best keep a certain wary distance.

The Timberwolves
I ask this question regularly: how many players currently on the Timberwolves' roster will still be on the roster the next time the team makes the playoffs? Right now all I can answer is maybe Jonny Flynn (he's a very young point guard that was on a lousy team without any outside scoring presence: early to judge), Kevin Love (he's a great rebounder and solid in many parts of the game), and maybe Corey Brewer (not because he's good, but I think he could be a decent contributing role player on a good team, though I doubt he'll still be around by the time the Timberwolves are a good team). That's it. I don't think Al Jefferson will be there (he's been the best player on an awful team for three years, making it hard for me to ever see him as the best player on a playoff team), and the rest of the roster just sucks. Just sucks. I was there, sitting in the upper deck for a fair number of their games this year, and they were rarely ever close to being competitive.

And this is where it's worth noting that the best player in franchise history is 6-0 in playoff series since getting traded.

I updated the links on the side to make it quicker and easier to follow the NFL. I purged all the Viking sites that appeared inactive (basically, any site with no updates in 2010), and and trimmed the other links to a few fantasy sites, and a handful of very good websites devoted exclusively to the NFL. The sidebar is basically my football bookmarks list, so I wanted it clean and trim; I will, however, likely be adding some more links there.