Challenge Contests — by Justin Eleff
PLAYING THE GAMES ALREADY: CDM'S FOOTBALL CHALLENGE
Posted Aug. 21 at 01:17 AM
So after it takes me seven weeks to get through five positions -- QB, RB, WR, TE, K -- you are entitled to have your doubts when I say I’ll do it all again right now, below. And to those doubts, I say ...
Watch me now.
ALL FIVE POSITIONS ...
IN THIS YEAR’S CDM FOOTBALL CHALLENGE SPECIFICALLY
(Before we get started in earnest, though, this is the screech. And this is the halt. Remember, the basic setup of the Football Challenge is as follows:
You own 30 players, 20 Active (3 QBs, 6 RBs, 6 WRs, 2 TEs, 3 Ks) and 10 Taxied. The salary cap is $30-million (expressed for these purposes as $30,000); there are no position or salary requirements for the Taxi Squad.
All 20 Active players contribute what they can to all 8 Roto-style scoring categories: (1) passing yards and (2) passing average; (3) rushing yards and (4) rushing average; (5) receiving yards and (6) receiving average; (7) total scoring; (8) kicking points.
On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of how expensive these things are to play, the Football Challenge is maybe a 7. All things considered the prizes are fair. I consider this the best of all fantasy challenges, and to my knowledge it remains the biggest as well.
All of that said, back to business.)
This far into the preseason, everything has come clear. I will own, in descending order by salary, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Jon Kitna, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler. And no one else.
Apologies to Peyton Manning and Drew Brees (who looks especially sharp), and perhaps also to Donovan McNabb (who never starts the year on my Roto teams but often finds his way on before long; last year, especially, I thought he’d found a new level).
Farther down the salary list no apologies are needed. To Phil Rivers? Nice to know he’s there in case of injury, but no way he out-numbers Kitna (and Mike Martz) in the meantime. To Vince Young? If he runs enough, sure, he becomes a Flavor of the Week. I’ll probably buy him that week.
I will own LaDainian Tomlinson, Steven Jackson, Joe Addai, Travis Henry (health permitting -- and he sounds OK at the moment), Laurence Maroney, Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson. Plus three of Larry Johnson, Frank Gore, Cedric Benson and Marshawn Lynch; for now I lean to L.J., Gore and Benson.
I like the idea of owning all four big-ticket guys and shuffling them as salary allows, hoping to start two per week most weeks. (Note, though, and perhaps this bodes badly: I can’t make it work with more than one in Week 1, with L.J. (at HOU) and Gore (vs. ARZ) the likely finalists for the start.)
Everyone else on my Will Own list seems obvious to me, most especially Adrian Peterson at an even $1000. Rookie of the Year if he plays as many as 14 games.
I’m coming around on Benson at least in part because I’m cooling on Lynch. In any event, no sense leaving Benson off when we get a free look at him: If he stinks, he stinks for 80% of all teams in the challenge, and everyone dumps him at the same time. And, note: I think there’s a real possibility he does stink. Rex Grossman is not and never will be a good NFL quarterback, and I see the whole Windy City offense maybe blowing the way Rex blows. (Pun, you guessed it, intended.)
Clinton Portis is off of my list entirely until I get a better sense of what’s going on inside that knee. Which is to say, Ladell Betts doesn’t frighten me off; Portis does.
I will own Steve Smith, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch, Calvin Johnson (on the same free look theory as Benson), Ron Curry and Brandon Marshall. Plus two of a wide mix, including, at last pass, Reggie Brown (I know what I wrote, but I’m worried about receiving average and like the idea of shuffling him with the comparably-priced Housh...), Vincent Jackson, Brandon Jones and Demetrius Williams. Going back and forth between the last two has me agonizing lately; Jones gets the nod at this writing as TEN’s No. 1, where Williams is clearly not even BAL’s No. 2. Then again, as long as Steve McNair holds up, there isn’t much difference between BAL’s No. 3 and Vince Young’s top target. Hence the back-and-forth.
I guess every true stud is still in play in a sense, too; I’d much, much rather own Terrell Owens, for instance, than Brown, but that $430 salary gap is not quite as small as I may have made it sound a couple of weeks ago. Mea culpa.
Just what I said last week: Jeremy Shockey, Vernon Davis, Eric Johnson. I’ll watch closely for E.J.’s involvement in New Orleans over the last two weeks of the preseason, but at $500 I’m not likely to find a better option regardless. Shockey wins a coin flip with Todd Heap and (health considered) L.J. Smith, albeit on potential he will probably never realize.
Again, what I said last week: Adam Vinatieri, Josh Brown, Olindo Mare, Stephen Gostkowski. You’d have a hard time talking me off of any of them at the moment.
I won’t post a SAMPLE TEAM this week because I’ve focused on this challenge for pretty much the whole run of these columns so far; my thinking is all here if you care to piece it together, and any other nugget I offered would be more guess than true insight. Especially because ...
Remember that the Thursday night (September 6) Saints-Colts NFL Kickoff game does count here, even though the deadline for roster submissions is a couple of nights later. With J. Addai, R. Bush, E. Johnson, A. Vinatieri and O. Mare all sure to make my final roster -- and other guys at least on the fringes of my consideration -- many of my Active / Taxied decisions will be made for me.
It’s even possible that I’d decide to own a player based on performance in that game alone, especially if I was considering him already. Throw Reggie Wayne in for Steve Smith (with Smith still on the roster, of course) after 8 catches for 139 yards and 2 TDs? You betcha.
In 2004 I owned Brandon Stokley just to get a 4-for-77 and 1 TD effort into an Active slot for minimal salary. Taxied him Week 2 but then had to start him again Week 3, when, with a hurricane blowing through, I switched on a battery-powered radio and heard most of his line vs. GB: 8 catches. 110 yards. 2 TDs.
Better to come.
Next week we’ll talk points games.
Posted by KEVIN DALLAS | Aug. 26 at 04:33 AM
Justin, If I tell you who I have on my challenge roster, can you comment on some of the players I have that I am overvaluing?
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Aug. 28 at 03:23 AM
I'm happy to do it, but there are no quality guarantees. Finished top-25 or so (overall) in both 2004 and 2005, but slumped badly last year. So you get my advice whether expert or not. Deal?
Posted by KEVIN DALLAS | Aug. 30 at 12:07 PM
I left a message at Fantasy Index for you to email me so I can tell you my lineup without divulging it to everyone who subscribes to this site...ok? Just drop me a line as soon as you can...thanks.
Posted by Steven Lachapelle | Feb. 08 at 05:44 AM
Your current issue (Fantasy baseball Index) does not list 3B Jose Bautista on your Index Cheat Sheet???
Posted by Fantasy Index Customer Service | Feb. 08 at 07:57 AM
We list Bautista as an outfielder. He played 114 games in the outfield last year, vs. 48 at third base. In the outfielder listings, you'll see #3B after his name. All players who have that # symbol after their names played 20 or more games at more than one position. You'll also see in the alphabetical player listings (and the individual player capsules) that we list Bautista as "Also: 3B."
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