What I Learned
Posted Feb. 03 at 07:33 AM
Each year I'm usually a little sad at the end of the football season. But with the Super Bowl here in Tampa, I admit to being a little relieved as well. It was a great finish to an exciting year... and I'm ready for the thousands of Terrible Towels (and the handful of Arizona jerseys) to head on home. And they can take the influx of merchandise-hawkers, street preachers and pseudo-celebrities with them.
Still I like to remember what I've learned so I might be able to apply it and improve on my 2008 fantasy fortunes. Here's what I have so far:
- I learned that you can win with receivers, especially in point-per reception leagues. I misfired on some running backs, but when I'm trotting out Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith each week, they often cover up for my incompetence. Speaking of Smith...
- I learned that pre-season mountains often become regular-season molehills. I seem to recall reports that Steve Smith and Brandon Marshall served suspensions early in the year. I guess that's true but by week four nobody seemed to remember. Missing a game or two provided great value as drafts and auctions progressed.
- I learned that even loyal coaches (read: stubborn) will ditch their Plan A if Plan B racks up enough wins. Jeff Fisher and Brad Childress let the backups keep the reins during the regular season when they provided a spark. The quarterback position was volatile enough, but mid-tier signal-callers are now about as reliable as rookie kickers.
- Speaking of kickers, I learned that the good teams have reliable legs. John Carney, David Akers, Jason Elam -- was this 2008 or 1998? Meanwhile, the Saints couldn't figure out who to suit up and they miss the playoffs. It happens in the NFL and on fantasy teams as well. Owners mock the kicker, lose a few games by two or three points and miss the playoffs by one game. Again, good teams have reliable legs.
- I learned that handcuffs normally just handcuff a roster spot. After all, owners who held a roster spot for Felix Jones were lucky if they were able to get Tashard Choice off the waiver wire. And guys like Tim Hightower and Ray Rice didn't justify their roster spots, either. If you're uncomfortable with a starter, maybe his "backup" should wear a different uniform.
- I learned that "disgruntled" players are too volatile to predict how they'll perform. Will they sink into mediocrity and pout (Chad Ocho Cinco) or will they step up and prove their worth in the hopes of securing a suitor willing to trade for them (Anquan Boldin)? Who knows? Admittedly, Anquan had better quarterbacking than Chad, but T.J. Houshmandzadeh was much more productive than # 85 with Ryan Fitzpatrick behind center.
- I learned that rookies are fine for redrafts, too. I think dynasty owners might have had an advantage this year, since they're always scouting rookie talent. But in 2008, a good number of those rookies were immediate producers: Guys like Chris Johnson and Matt Ryan were viable starters, and DeSean Jackson, Eddie Royal and Tashard Choice helped owners win games as well. I guess the days of sitting around waiting for your turn are over in the NFL. Guys are expected to earn their millions from the very beginning.
- I learned that you miss nothing by missing a pre-game show. I don't think I watched one all season and it didn't affect my fantasy year at all. The pre-game data I need is on the computer and I simply turned on the games when it was time for kickoff. As fantasy owners, we already know the "news" they deliver and the analysis is more filler than entertainment.
- I learned that I'm glad to have tenure with my fantasy teams. That means I can't be fired for having a down year or two. Good thing, because in the NFL coaches get booted so fast they almost overshadow the playoffs. New coaches, assistants and general managers get interviewed and named almost daily in January. When I'm trying to enjoy playoff match-ups I don't need to hear about the coaching decisions of an 0-16 franchise, but it's on the news every day. At least, win or lose, I'm back with my fantasy teams next year. And the year after that, too. I guess it's good to be close to the owner.
- Finally, I learned that, even though I criticize it, parity has resulted in better Super Bowls. Of the eight Super Bowls since the Ravens destroyed the Giants in 2001, five have been decided by four points or less, and four by just a field-goal. In fact, only the Buccaneers-Raiders game was decided by more than two touchdowns (and that margin was expanded by two defensive touchdowns toward the end of the game). The games are closer and more fun to watch. The Super Bowl is really living up to its name, especially the past two years.
I'm sure I learned other things as well, so I'll share them later in the year. In the meantime, skip the Pro Bowl and watch playoff hockey when it comes around. See you in the summertime.
Youtube Clip of the Week: If you feel like crying because football season is over, it's okay. Even Roger Federer sheds a tear once in a while.
You can reach Michael Murillo at email@example.com.
Posted by Duane Stay | Feb. 03 at 08:39 AM
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