Challenge Contests — by Justin Eleff
Starting from scratch, in a few easy steps
Posted Oct. 15 at 12:20 PM
Not much to say this week. We all own Jermichael Finley, so we all have to replace him, and I recommend doing so with Antonio Gates or (if you were playing Gates and Finley together) with your choice of cheapo rookies. In Fanball’s Football Challenge I lean toward Aaron Hernandez and his 13.3 yards per catch. In points games I lean toward Tony Moeaki, who has already scored twice and should see his role expand in coming weeks.
Otherwise our circumstances remain unchanged. Quarterbacks continue to confound me from week to week, as even the ones I believe in most are occasionally concussed (Aaron Rodgers, at WAS) or confused (Peyton Manning, vs. KC). There are still too few viable cheapos at running back to offer real relief at the other positions. And wide receivers might soon be our very trickiest players; most of us own several who share the dreaded Week 8 bye.
Without much of a personnel fix for you -- see last week’s column; there are few if any savior players out there -- I figured I’d try something different this time. We all know what we’d like: a few extra cheapos who’d make challenge life easier for us. But we also know we’re not getting that anytime soon. Instead, let’s focus on what we have now. We all own similar mixes of players, but do we own the right ones? If we built our rosters from scratch today, what would be different about them?
Really, how many moves would it take for any of us to transform our rosters -- the ones we happen to have right now -- into what appear to be the ideal rosters, given the failure of any saviors to emerge? This is how I’d build a team if I were starting over; I can make my own rosters look like this with just a couple of moves each:
QB: Start Aaron Rodgers when healthy. Start Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers or Tony Romo in one of the other two slots, possibly mixing in Tom Brady (in favorable matchups at home) as an alternative to these three or to Rodgers. Start Jay Cutler, Eli Manning or Kyle Orton in the other slot. Good luck making use of other cheap options like Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer and the players Tecmo Bowl would have called QB Eagles.
RB: Start Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson together if you can, shuffling them according to matchups if not. Start Michael Turner. Start Ahmad Bradshaw and Arian Foster. Those are four or five of your starters; fill in with some combination of Cedric Benson, Jahvid Best, Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis, Ryan Mathews, LeSean McCoy and Rashard Mendenhall. The biggest hole in my roster at present is that I own only one of those players: Mathews. I remain hopeful that another terribly fast, not terribly expensive player will emerge soon -- Felix Jones is coming on; C.J. Spiller should come on eventually -- but I may have to buy one of the fill-ins in the meantime.
WR: Start Hakeem Nicks and Mal.com Floyd. Start Jeremy Maclin in weeks when QB Eagles should play decently. Start Johnny Knox in weeks when Jay Cutler should. Fill in with more expensive players to the extent you can afford them -- particularly Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson and Andre and Calvin Johnson (once their health issues are resolved), protecting your receiving average from the likes of, for instance, Roddy White. With Ben Roethlisberger back, Mike Wallace could be a must-start soon. Otherwise, remember that this is the best position at which to save salary. Legedu Naanee hasn’t been great, but he’s so cheap ($400) he doesn’t have to be. Brandon Lloyd has been incredible for $1000, as has Austin Collie for $770 -- but I really don’t trust either of them. If possible I’d prefer to add Wallace, call him an every-week player, and skip the most expensive WRs until we can cut salary at other positions.
TE: Start Antonio Gates, and do not mess around here. As suggested above, offset his salary with the cheapo of your choice.
K: Any four reasonably cheap options, all with different bye weeks, will do. This is not a season in which any one guy has distinguished himself. But hold a purchase or two back, as this is also not a season in which all of the viable kickers appear fully secure in their jobs.
QB: The top QBs outscore the top players at other positions by a lot. Six of the top seven points players in 2010 so far are QBs -- so spend what it takes to start three good ones together, and work around having done so. If you think Kyle Orton can maintain his Matt-Schaub-in-2009 pace, he’s a must-start at $3420. Otherwise I’m still comfortable using Matt-Schaub-in-2010 ($4150) and matching him with two more expensive options. Peyton Manning will wind up starting a lot more weeks for me than I would have thought possible in the preseason.
RB: Start Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson together if you can, shuffling them according to matchups if not. Start Arian Foster. Those are two or three of your starters; fill in for now with some combination of Jahvid Best, Matt Forte, Frank Gore, Peyton Hillis, LeSean McCoy -- all of whom have done real damage through the air, not just on the ground -- but be ready for Ray Rice and Michael Turner to reestablish themselves as top options in the weeks ahead.
WR: Go as cheap as you need to in order to start your preferred QBs. All of Austin Collie, Mal.com Floyd, Brandon Lloyd, Jeremy Maclin and Hakeem Nicks rank among the top eleven scorers at the position so far, and the highest salary among them is Nicks’ $1780. I trust Collie more in this format (where receiving average does not count) than in the Football Challenge; Lloyd still makes me nervous, as nothing yet has convinced me that the Broncos are done spreading their catches around. One cheapo I expect to come on over the remainder of the season: Johnny Knox. I’d add Miles Austin, the cheapest of the really good, really expensive WRs at $3080, to four of the cheapos named above, then fill in with anyone I could afford to make the salaries work at the other positions. Again: especially at QB.
TE: Start Antonio Gates, and, again, do not mess around here. I know he’s expensive, but he’s been almost 40 percent better than the second-best TE. As suggested above, offset his salary with the cheapo of your choice.
K: Same comment as in the Football Challenge; any four reasonably cheap options, all with different bye weeks, will do -- but hold a purchase or two back just in case.
DEF: I hate repeating myself, but if you disagreed with me in the preseason that defensive and special teams scoring is essentially random in these games, check out the highest points totals through Week 5:
1. CHI ($1950) and ATL ($1680), 48 pts.
3. PIT ($2840) and KC ($1120), 46 pts.
5. NE ($3220) and SEA ($1610), 44 pts.
Our biggest preseason debate was over my insistence on owning MIA ($1210, 37 pts.) instead of either NYJ ($2330, 43 pts.) or SF ($2100, 11 pts.). Please, let’s not spend time talking about this ever again.
Posted by Chris Metz | Oct. 16 at 12:23 AM
Looks like it's finally time for me to make some buys. I think you're right about those mid priced RBs but I think Felix Jones should be added to the list. Really sounds like he's going to get the bulk of the carries and he will help the ypc number. If you ask me who I'd rather have, him or Mendenhall, I'd take Felix. Probably going to get Rivers for Schaub because Schaub is not right and I need to make up QB categories badly, Jamaal for CJ Spiller. Even if he has limited carries for awhile he will make the most of them, and I believe as a KC fan it's inevitable he will be the man there. EASY schedule too. The schedule is a big part of it. Felix for Gore. Gore is a relative bust and getting another mid priced RB makes things lock in towards making a roster easier. Felix also has a NICE schedule starting around week 9. Aaron Hernandez, I think he will be very very popular. Then Mike Wallace for Jabar Gaffney because I have zero faith in Gaffney and don't really know why I got him to begin with. This will let me start Rodgers Rivers and Peyton this week and still start some studs. I will just have to bench Peterson and CJ for a week, and from there I will probably have to choose between them until another cheap guy emerges. We'll see what happens.
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Oct. 16 at 08:13 AM
Chris: Your thinking isn't far off from mine. I can't imagine I get through today without buying Wallace in the FC, and Hernandez seems just as likely. I'll post my roster as soon as I've locked it in.
Posted by MARK MALONEY | Oct. 16 at 12:38 PM
Justin - Don't see anyway around Gates as much as it kills me to pay that in the 35K. Luckily spotted Harvin last week but I think he goes for Gates. Wierd price and going to be hit or miss from here out I bet. Will score 1 or 2 return TD's though. I think Benson goes also. That ship is sinking and it ain't going to be pretty from here out....
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Oct. 16 at 02:45 PM
Mark: I wouldn't dump Benson just yet. Lots of pieces in Cincy that could still work together, and with Palmer having been so terrible (at least: terribly unreliable), they may try to go to a vastly run-heavy scheme and see if that gets a few Ws. Not saying it's any guarantee, but I'd at least see what they're doing after the bye before I made any decisions.
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Oct. 16 at 02:54 PM
All: No question, Week 6 is the week I made my move in 2010. Bought Rivers and Hernandez in the FC, Rivers and McCoy and Moeaki in points. I'll post the full rosters below. Went ahead and made them look like I wanted, while also conserving purchases where possible (starting White once more rather than adding a receiver in the FC) and trying to be smart about the ones I used (feeling free to burn for McCoy this week when I was going to need a cheap running back in points with Foster on his bye next week, etc.).
Posted by MARK MALONEY | Oct. 16 at 02:59 PM
Justin thanks for the insight. It's between him and Greene, who's just a LT hamstring away from Challenge Gold. Looking at Reed for K - little pricy for me but looks Pitt looks solid until the weather/field turns crappy at Heinz... moving up to Gates and trying to keep 2 primo QBs in the lineup has got me thinking staying cheap elsewhere. Another drop possibility - hate to bail on Megatron but Austin and Roddy would be playing most weeks don't you think?
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Oct. 16 at 03:05 PM
FOOTBALL CHALLENGE: P.Manning Rivers Cutler (Rodgers Brady) / Gore Turner Greene Bradshaw Mathews Foster (Ch.Johnson Peterson Spiller) / White Austin Nicks Floyd Maclin Knox (A.Johnson Ca.Johnson Naanee) / Gates Hernandez (Shiancoe) / Rackers Cundiff Buehler (Nugent)
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Oct. 16 at 03:12 PM
$35K POINTS: P.Manning Rivers Schaub (Rodgers Brady Palmer Vick) / Ch.Johnson Gore Turner McCoy Mathews Foster (Peterson Rice) / Austin Smith(NYG) Nicks Maclin Floyd Knox (A.Johnson Naanee) / Gates Moeaki (Shiancoe) / Nedney Cundiff Buehler (Nugent) / ATL MIA (OAK)
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Oct. 16 at 03:23 PM
Mark: Forgot to write this above: I concluded a few weeks ago that we had to own Gates in the points games. He's producing like the best WIDE RECEIVER in the league; of course that's worth $2620. Re your second comment, note that I dropped Greene and White in $35K points tonight. You're right that I lose if Tomlinson hurts himself, but given that Greene can't catch at all I'll win for sure as long as he's splitting carries meaningfully. I mean, even if he creeps up to two-thirds of the playing time, he'll only be getting two-thirds of the CARRIES and adding essentially zero receiving production. I liked him a lot better before McCoy was catching 4+ passes per week, put it that way. As for White, I'd urge you to double-check your roster. I own only four WRs who don't have the Week 8 bye, so when it was time to drop someone tonight White (Week 8) had to go before Andre Johnson (Week 7) for me. Can you really afford to drop Megatron (also Week 7) first?
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Oct. 17 at 12:21 AM
Justin: In points this week, in order to start Gates and Tony Moe (as opposed to Keller and Z. Miller), I would have to substitute Mendy for Forte. 3 pts for the W is pretty much guaranteed. What do you think? Thanks
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Oct. 17 at 12:50 AM
Peter: I like Mendenhall better than Forte. Seattle has been lights-out against the run so far, and at peak effectiveness - by its very design - Mike Martz's offense will always favor the pass, even in the red zone. And you're right; SEA could hang with CHI, but there's just no way Colt McCoy is winning at PIT.
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Oct. 17 at 01:25 AM
Justin: One more. I'm thinking of starting R. Moss in points. I remember last years playoff game when Favre torched DAL with a similar type receiver (S. Rice). I could bench Wayne vs. Wash or White vs. Philly. What do you think?
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Oct. 17 at 01:29 AM
Peter: Receivers' biggest games are distributed essentially at random. There's no right or wrong answer here; play your hunch.
Posted by MARK MALONEY | Oct. 17 at 02:27 AM
Justin - Dropping Megatron would mean an unnecessary move down the road; good catch - he stays. To get PMann, Rodgers, AP and Gates in means Turner sits for Mathews and no White or AJ. Ouch. Best of luck.
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