Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Jan. 29 at 05:54 AM
Publisher Ian Allan fields your questions on strategy, how to run your league, player ratings -- and whatever else you think of. Updated every Friday during the season; Tuesdays and Fridays during the last two months of the preseason. You must be registered and signed-in to submit a mailbag question. After you sign in at the top of the page, the link to submit a mailbag question will become visible.
Can you address the Super Bowl from a fantasy stand point?
Made it through the conference games with the help of your suggestions. Most of those suggestions were exactly what I was thinking and just want to justify my Super Bowl picks. I get first pick and think I have to grab Warner.
Josh Blain [Bardstown, KY]
It’s definitely a lesser Super Bowl matchup. Nobody, with a straight face, will suggest that either of these clubs is one of the top 25 teams in NFL history. Statistically, Arizona has the worst defense ever to make it to Super Sunday, and the Steelers have the worst offense to ever advance to one of these games. I wouldn’t call either one of these teams great; instead, they just got hot at the right time. That’s why we’re not watching the Giants, Titans, Colts or Panthers on Sunday.
But at the same time, there are always some interesting angles to every game. The Cardinals have never played in one of these games before – they haven’t appeared in a championship game since 1947. Kurt Warner’s trying to become the first quarterback to win championships with two different teams. The Steelers are trying to become the first team to win six Super Bowls – all three of the coaches they’ve had since the merger in 1970 have taken teams to Super Bowls. Larry Fitzgerald is as hot as any receiver in postseason history, and he played his college ball at Pitt. And two of Arizona’s main coaches, Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm, were the runnersup when the Steelers hired Mike Tomlin. So an interesting game will occur.
The betting line for this game has Pittsburgh favored by 7 points, with an over-under of 47. That translates into the Steelers winning about 27-20. Using that as a guide and fusing in the offense-defense numbers for each team, a “fantasy line” then emerges. At the 20-point level, Arizona would project to finish with about 300 yards (265 passing, 55 rushing, with perhaps 20 yards lost on 3 sacks). I get 1.4 TD passes, a 60 percent chance of a rushing touchdown and a 15 percent chance of touchdown on defense or special teams.
For the Steelers, with the line having them scoring 27 points, that translates into about 335 yards (240 passing, 110 rushing, and about 15 lost on 2 sacks). For their touchdowns, I get 1.7 TD passes, a 90 percent chance of a rushing touchdown, and a 20 percent chance of a touchdown on special teams.
So based on the raw line that you might find if you were to walk into a casino in Vegas and they had some kind of fantasy betting deal set up, the probabilities suggest that Ben Roethlisberger will be just as valuable as Kurt Warner – the numbers suggest Warner will throw about 30 more yards, but Roethlisberger is far more likely to throw 2 TD passes. Don’t forget that the Cardinals have the leakiest pass defense of any team ever to make the playoffs – 36 TD passes in the regular season. They’ve played a bit better recently, but this is nevertheless a defense that has allowed 57 TDs in 19 games – that’s an even three per game over the season. (The Pittsburgh defense, in contrast, has allowed only 24 TDs in 18 games while playing a much harder schedule).
I expect Roethlisberger to have a good game. He’s been playing well, this is a soft defense, and I don’t think the Steelers will get a lot out of Willie Parker. Pittsburgh doesn’t run the ball real well, and Arizona has been pretty solid against the run recently, doing a nice in the playoffs against Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams and Brian Westbrook. Parker had the big game against the Chargers, so perhaps he’ll surprise me, but he was under 2 yards per carry in the game against Baltimore, and Parker was under 2 yards per carry when Pittsburgh played Arizona last year.
Hines Ward injured a knee in the AFC Championship. He’s definitely not healthy, and that could be a factor. But for me, the most compelling angle on this game is the shunned Arizona coaching staff. Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm are familiar with Pittsburgh’s players and personnel, and the Cardinals could get some mileage out of that. Arizona, recall, beat Pittsburgh 21-14 out in Glendale last year. (The Cardinals were starting Matt Leinart at quarterback at that time, so I don’t think there’s any need to look at that game in too much detail). To me, considering Pittsburgh’s suffocating defense and limited offense, it makes more sense to take the under in this game, rather than mulling whether the Steelers will be able to win by 7 points.
What do you think about the Super Bowl matchup ? I'm in an elimination format, starting a QB, K, 2 RBs, 2WR/TE's,and a FLEX scoring TD + Yardage. I have Hightower & Fitzgerald & Reed and the 2nd pick. He has Warner, Russell and Breaston. Do you feel like that there are enough good options at WR/TE to grab James or Parker with my 1st pick? Matt will probably drop Breaston and maybe Russell. For instance, if he takes Parker 1st and I go with James that leaves me with only one of Holmes, Miller, or Boldin all of whom I think have a chance to score more fantasy points than the RBs in this one. However if I don't take James I will probably end up choosing between Arrington or Moore as my No. 2 RB. I was the top team in all 4 leagues this year but so far have placed second in every championship match. This is my last chance to take home the big enchilada.
Donald DeKeyser [GREEN BAY, WI]
As I mentioned in the e-mail to the other guy, I see Roethlisberger and Warner as pretty much interchangeable this week. I'm not sure which one I would select first. So you'll definitely want to check the fine print of your rulebook. Is your opponent allowed to select Roethsliberger with the No. 1 pick overall? If he went that route, you'd be left having to go with Leinart or Leftwich and hoping they got into the game. (On the other hand, if he doesn't take Roethlisberger No. 1, than I suppose that's a sign he isn't thinking along those lines and also won't take Roethlisberger at No. 3). Or with him already having one quarterback, does that give you the automatic right to collect Roethlisberger with your last pick?
I think Holmes is the guy I'd zero in on. WIth Hines Ward banged up, Holmes may have to play an expanded role. And that's an awfully weak secondary he'll be working against -- 42 TD passes allowed in 19 games. Holmes has scored in both of Pittsburgh's playoff games. He caught 2 TDs against the Cardinals last year. I think that's enough to edge him past Willie Parker. Parker doesn't catch any passes, and there's a chance that he (like Edgerrin James) will be pulled out of the game if the ball winds up on the 1-yard line.
in your rankings how much do QBs' value change in a PPR format awarding 6 pts. per TD pass ?
Donald DeKeyser [GREEN BAY, WI]
It definitely gives them a boost. I went back and ran my final projections from late August -- looked at the PPR format, with 1 point for every 10 yards, 1 point for every 20 passing yards and 1 point for catches (I also assumed three starting wide receivers). At 4 points per TD pass in this format, my top quarterbacks came in at 11, 19, 24 and 29. When TD passes were expanded to 6 points, those four quarterbacks moved up to spots 3, 14, 17 and 21. So it definitely makes a difference. (No other quarterbacks, by the way, in the top 55 of either scoring format).
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