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Fantasy Football: On to Week 4

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fantasy football week 3Let’s be honest. This is just sick. My team kind of scares me it’s so good. And, except for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, I started all the right guys. How did this happen? I have no idea. But I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it while it lasts.

I’m also going to become very nervous because it’s only a matter of time until things go bad. Things always go bad. After years of mediocre fantasy football performance, being the only undefeated GM in my league is a little disconcerting. My non-problem problem (I believe these are now referred to as humblebrags) is that my team is so good I’m having a hard time dealing with the pressure of continuing to function at such a high level. (If you want to punch me, that’s cool. My team will probably still win.)

That said, I have what looks to be an unfavorable matchup for week 4. So I’m kind of afraid that this fantasy joyride will come to an end and this time next week I’ll be a bit less self-satisfied, which is probably a good thing.


Here’s who I told you to pick up last week and how they did.

  • Aaron Hernandez: DNP (but we knew that going in to the week)
  • Cam Newton: 15
  • Eric Decker: 4.8
  • Tony Scheffler: 0.4
  • Roy Helu: 3.2
  • Delone Carter: 1.1
  • Denarius Moore: 11.7
  • Cardinals D/ST: 11
  • Cowboys D/ST: 12
  • Bengals D/ST: 14

Oh my goodness some of these are terrible (although always remember, just because you pick someone up off waivers doesn’t mean you start him, unless you have to). I still have hope for Eric Decker, Roy Helu, and Delone Carter, but week 3 was pretty bad for these guys. Tony Scheffler is not as reliable as I’d hoped. On a positive note, Denarius Moore is good and I generally don’t go wrong by playing matchups when picking a defense (I benched the Bears because who wants to start a defense against the Packers and started the Cardinals this week).

Accountability Part 2

To make myself feel better, let’s remember week 1, where unlike some fantasy football people I know who recommended taking Michael Vick with the #1 pick, I said Adrian Peterson was the best #1 pick. So far (knock on wood and all that), I think AP was the better choice. (Also, for future reference, I think Tom Brady needs to get way more love in fantasy football drafts, as does Wes Welker. These guys are always awesome, but Welker especially gets passed over way too often.)

Week 4 Fantasy Football Pickups

Let’s take it a little easy this week. Don’t get too excited about anyone here.

  • Denarius Moore (WR): If you didn’t snap him up last week, you might still have a chance; he’s owned in only 38.3% of ESPN leagues.
  • Stevan Ridley (RB): He took carries away from my guy BenJarvus Green-Ellis (who did nothing) this week. I hope BJGE is back at ‘em next week, but if he continues to suck, Ridley will be getting more action.
  • Nate Washington (WR): He’ll get more catches now that Kenny Britt is out for the year.
  • Dane Sanzenbacher (WR): This is a better option if Earl Bennett is out than if he is in, but Earl Bennett hasn’t done shit anyway. The little guy from Ohio State had a touchdown in the last two games.
  • Dexter McCluster (RB/WR): Ugh, the Chiefs. Their offense is terrible, but if you have to pick someone, it might as well be this guy. Thomas Jones isn’t doing much.
  • Matt Hasselbeck (QB): He’s not going to light it up or anything, but he’s been a steady, reliable performer so far this season.
  • David Nelson (WR): He’s a decent option on a team that’s surprisingly awesome.
  • Devin Hester (WR): This is partly wishful thinking and partly realistic (?) hope. He looked better in week 3 than he’s looked in a while and might be worth a bench spot if you have room.
  • Redskins (D/ST), Chargers (D/ST), Titans (D/ST): These are D/ST to pick up and play this week because they have favorable matchups.

Good luck this week!

Update: Several peeps are wondering whether to start BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Roy Helu this week. This is a tough one! I’m going back and forth but think I’m sticking with Green-Ellis. He did nothing last week, but I don’t want to bench him too soon. Helu is risky — he could be awesome, but you never know with RBs on a Shanahan-coached team.

I’m also starting Cam Newton over Tony Romo. This might be totally crazy, but Romo’s injury, his performance last week, and the Lions defense all make me very nervous. I don’t think the Bears defense is soft by any means, but Newton could get some rushing yards. I think. Newton was a better start than Romo last week, so let’s hope for the same this week.

Written by Tracy

September 27th, 2011 at 9:46 am

Fantasy Football: Week 2 Recap/Week 3 Pickups

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fantasy football week 2

But I don’t play fantasy football!

If this is you, you’re probably not even reading this post in the first place. If you got here anyway, why not play fantasy football? It’s super fun and it’s the reason I find watching NFL games much more enjoyable than watching college football games. If you’re not one of my teams in college ball (Iowa and Northern Illinois) or one of the Big 10 teams I kind of care about, I can’t be bothered to watch you. There’s nothing in it for me. I’ll happily watch any pro football game, any time. Sure, it’s partly because I love watching football. But it’s also because there’s a good chance I have a fantasy player in any given game. To tell you the truth, I don’t really give a rat’s ass about the Buffalo Bills. I’ll watch the hell out of their games, though, because their RBs are near and dear to my heart. Having a fantasy football team is like having a pretend investment in the lives of perfect strangers, which, as silly as it may be, is kind of awesome.

I’m “That Guy”

You always hear that nobody cares about your fantasy football team. I know nobody cares about my fantasy football team. But here’s the thing. I wish my fantasy football team could come to life so we can be pals. That’s how much I like it so far. Look at that score! I’m 2-0 (first place)! Perhaps this is finally the year my fantasy football wisdom has developed such that I can not only dominate my league but also share my glorious knowledge and insight with you so you can, if all goes well, dominate your league, too. Oh yes.


I don’t often see fantasy peeps talking about who they told you to pick up last week. I think it’s important to see how well my recommendations have turned out in the past — it’s the best way to know whether I have the credibility to make recommendations for the next week, although there’s no accounting for dumb luck. (Point values are taken from my ESPN league, which has slightly modified but almost standard H2H scoring.)

  • Aaron Hernandez: 12.2
  • Jermaine Gresham: 0.8 (Oops, at least for now!)
  • Cam Newton: 29.6 (Is it too early for the I-told-you-so parade? He did better than my starter, Tony Romo, who got 23.8.) 
  • Chad Henne: 11.4
  • Nate Burleson: 9.3
  • Jabar Gaffney: 6.2
  • Eric Decker: 23.3 (Holy shit, and he’s still available in my league — not for long if I can help it.)
  • Texans D/ST (this week only): 11 (Better than my defense, which scored 1 point.)

I said to avoid:

  • Early Doucet: 2 (I said the ball would find its way back to Larry Fitzgerald. It did, to the tune of 21.3 points. I love him.)
  • Derrick Ward: Out with a sprained ankle.

Aside from Gresham, my week 2 pickups weren’t totally awful, right?

As you can see, I started the right guys, with the exception of Jermichael Finley (I should’ve started Aaron Hernandez instead, better defense against the TEs be damned — the Pats are just that good) and Tony Romo (although not many people would’ve been crazy enough to start Newton over Romo at this point, so I’m not going to worry about that).

The Injury Dilemma

It’s early in the season and guys are dropping like flies already. Jamaal Charles is out for the season (holy crap). If you have him, hopefully you did the smart thing this season and loaded up on RBs during your draft. Otherwise, tune in for my week 3 pickups below.

I have one QB who finished a game with fractured ribs and a punctured lung (Romo),1 and another QB wearing a boot on his right ankle (Newton). Aaron Hernandez is out for a week or two with a sprained MCL. Ricky Williams is high as shit. (Sorry, old joke, but what else explains putting up negative points (-1.8)?) If nothing else, Ricky Williams is this week’s Donovan McNabb — the stinker you want to dump because his very presence on your bench is totally harshing your fantasy groove. And apparently I’m secretly a crotchety grandparent who uses the word “stinker.”

Week 3 Fantasy Football Pickups

  • Aaron Hernandez (TE).  He’s available in a few leagues. WTF? He’s out this week but still worth getting.
  • Cam Newton (QB). If it’s not too late.
  • Eric Decker (WR). See discussion above about last week.
  • Tony Scheffler (TE). They call him Tony “Afterthought” Scheffler (they don’t really) but he’s had one touchdown per game this season. Granted, that’s only two touchdowns, but that’s more than Jermichael Finley, for example, has had and everybody loves the yellow pants off that guy (they don’t really).
  • Roy Helu (RB). Don’t start him yet, but he’s worth a look if you feel like taking a chance on a young RB. I just have a hunch about this guy, although you might not want to start him just yet and Shanny’s RB-by-committee scheme is maddening.
  • Delone Carter (RB). Another hunch I recommend picking up but not starting yet. He’s not doing much, but he did a little more in week 2 than he did in week 1, plus it’s not like Joseph Addai is the world’s greatest RB so far this year. A bench stocked with at least two young RBs is the best insurance policy protecting you in the event your starters get injured (and chances are they will, although if AP gets hurt, this site will be nothing but wailing and rending of garments for the rest of the season).
  • Note: I’m not just telling you to pick up Helu and Carter because I want to feel better about the fact that I actually drafted both of them. I swear.
  • Denarius Moore (WR). Louis Murphy, Jacoby Ford, and Darrius Heyward-Bey were out last week. That leaves Denarius Moore, who put up 25 points. He might not do that again (and I’m still waiting for this week’s injury report to see whether any of the other guys will be back), but he should be a decent start.
  • Cardinals D/ST, Cowboys D/ST, Bengals D/ST. If you need a defense for just this week, consider one of these. I’ll probably pick one up because I don’t trust the Bears against the Packers, especially considering what they did with the Saints in week 2.

As always, good luck!
1. See Epstein, “The Truth About Pain: It’s In Your Head,” Sports Illustrated (Aug. 8, 2011) (discussion of Petra Majdič, who won a bronze medal in Olympic women’s individual sprint (skiing) with a similar injury).

Written by Tracy

September 20th, 2011 at 10:14 am

Fantasy Football: On to Week 2

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fantasy football week 1

The good news is I won my fantasy football matchup last week (obvs., I’m Wesley Willis Football Fiasco). The bad news is that this means I feel compelled to write more about fantasy football. A few people found my post on who to take with the #1 draft pick useful (yay!) so I might as well keep on keepin’ on (sorry if the subject bores you to tears).

If I were to do a “studs & duds” list of my team’s first week performance (I loathe the word “stud”), my first two draft picks (Adrian Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald) would be heading up the duds. Fitzgerald got me 6.2 points. As they say on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown, “Come on, man!” The Bears defense was a (somewhat surprising?) stud, as was Aaron Hernandez who was lounging on my bench.

The rest of my team, with one exception (discussed below), was, as they say, what I thought it was. Guys I’m taking a chance on (C.J. Spiller, Roy Helu, and Delone Carter), as expected, didn’t do a whole lot. That’s okay, though — they’re on my bench, where I can save them for later.

If I have a general philosophy going into week 2 of the fantasy football season, it’s “No rash decisions.” Don’t get rid of anybody yet, because it’s too early in the season to make any big moves. You might be cursing Arian Foster and the golf cart he rode in on, but hang in there. Larry Fitzgerald might have disappointed the hell out of me in week 1, but I’m not trading him now, especially considering that Kevin Kolb isn’t that bad.

As for the exception, the biggest dud of my fantasy football team and, arguably, the entire NFL, was, of course, Donovan McNabb. I was tossing a Nerf football around with my kid at the park yesterday and I have to tell you, there’s a pretty good chance I could throw for 39 yards in an NFL game. (Also, if “walking back” ever becomes a position, my kid is ready.) Is McNabb finished? I don’t know. But his performance was so embarrassing and terrible I’m willing to violate my week 2 guideline to get him off my bench. (Lucky for me, although my waiver order was 11/12, I managed to scoop up Cam Newton as my new backup QB. There’s a good chance Newton won’t be as awesome as he was in week 1, but I think he has a good enough upside to deserve a seat on my bench and he can’t be much worse than McNabb.)

The only other add/drops I’d recommend considering for week 2 are kickers or defenses. If you don’t have a really good kicker or really good defense, you might as well play matchups. It usually turns out okay if you drop a mediocre defense with a bad matchup for a mediocre defense with a decent matchup that week. Hell, you can go through the whole season doing that if it won’t stress you out too much.

That said, if you are looking for someone to pick up this week, here are my week 2 fantasy football pickups. They’re all guys who might actually be available (all but Hernandez and Newton are available in my 12-team league):

  • Aaron Hernandez. Honestly, I kind of regretted drafting him at first because who wants a tight end who shares work with a guy you’ve actually heard of? It turns out he’s awesome and the Pats have more than enough offense to share with everybody. (Except Ochocinco, but don’t give up on him yet!)
  • If you need a TE and can’t get Hernandez, Jermaine Gresham is worth a look.
  • Cam Newton. Every fantasy person in the world is saying Sunday was a fluke. Was it? Maybe. If it wasn’t, think of how bad ass you’ll be feeling in a few weeks when you were shrewd enough to grab him early. It’s like that time I got Michael Vick before he became mad crazy insane good — bragging rights for months, I tell you.
  • Chad Henne. When I wanted to dump McNabb, I figured I’d pick up either Henne or Newton. I went with Newton, but Henne looked good. If he and Brandon Marshall can get it together, they can accomplish amazing things in the end zone.
  • Nate Burleson. The Detroit passing game is kind of good, no?
  • Jabar Gaffney. This is iffy, but I’m kind of all aboard the Redskins bandwagon. (For the record, I did pick them to win last week.)
  • Eric Decker. This is a stretch, but maybe.
  • Texans D/ST. This week only — play the matchup.

Don’t fall for:

  • Early Doucet. The football will find its way back into the loving arms of Larry Fitzgerald. I hope.
  • Derrick Ward. He’ll be languishing behind Arian Foster (back soon?) and Ben Tate.

I’m sticking with my current players and almost definitely the same starters as last week. I was considering switching Finley for Hernandez, but the Chargers are a much better defense against TEs than the Panthers. I’ll let you know how I do during next week’s fantasy football update. (I’m sure you can’t wait.) Good luck this week!

Written by Tracy

September 14th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

What to do with the First Pick in Your Fantasy Football Draft

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Note: My 2012 top fantasy football draft picks are here.

People really want to know who to take with the first pick in a fantasy football draft. I agonized over the same thing for, well, the hour between when I found out I had the first pick in my fantasy football draft and when the draft started.

1. Adrian Peterson

This is what I did and I don’t regret it so far (not that anything has happened to make me regret it, but it hasn’t been one of those things I do and wake up the next morning thinking, “Oh, shit.”).

2. Chris Johnson

He’s insane awesome and his contract situation has been resolved so it should be house music all night long.

3. Michael Vick

Listen. I’m an animal person and I hold a grudge forever. I don’t like Michael Vick. However, I do believe he has a chance to be the best fantasy player of the season. I’m not completely sold, though, which is why I didn’t take him at #1.
Really, if you have the first pick, you’re going to take one of those guys. If you want to get crazy, though, here are more options.

4. Ray Rice

Another awesome RB, Rice is in line to get more end zone action this year.

5. Arian Foster

I almost considered him at #1, but Arian Foster’s hamstring makes me nervous. If you can handle that and the temptation to name your team, um, Foster Nation, go for it.

6. Jamaal Charles

This guy is getting a lot of love. Truth be told, I have a hard time trusting a Chief (and, as a somewhat anti-Broncos fan, I don’t even hate the Chiefs — I just don’t think they’re very good; that said, he was the #2 pick in my league so I shouldn’t hate).

The other thing to remember when you pick first is that, assuming your league’s order reverses for each round, you’ll pick first, wait forever, and then pick twice in a row, which is hard. More on that here.

Other reader questions regarding fantasy football drafts:

Can I take two running backs in a row?

Yes. Should you? Yes, probably. You need as many awesome RBs as you can get. Hell, I drafted our league maximum of 7 of them. And I don’t regret it.

Should I really take Adrian Peterson? Really?

Yes. If you’re like me, you worry that he’ll get hurt. And you know what? He might. But so might anybody else. As much as we like to pretend to know everything about anything that could possibly happen in the NFL this year, we don’t know jack. Unless you’re that guy from Psych only actually psychic. Or better yet, you’re the Kyle Chandler character from Early Edition. Remember that show? With the cat? Where he got tomorrow’s newspaper today? On man I loved that show. That sort of arrangement would be very helpful for fantasy football players. I mean shit, we have four cats and not one of them has done anything to help us learn anything about what will happen tomorrow today. Slackers.

Who should I avoid?

I don’t trust Darren McFadden or Marques Colston (Colston burned me so bad last year — I had him and he did nothing so I traded him and he was suddenly awesome). Also Cedric Benson, because, well, duh, but also he’s supposed to do some jail time in October and I don’t know whether it lines up with the Bengals’ bye week. On the flip side, I totally would’ve drafted Chad Ochocinco or Plaxico Burress if they’d been available during a reasonable round. I think Chad Ochocinco is the Randy Moss of a few years ago (I drafted him the year he went to the Patriots and he was phenomenal).

If you have a fantasy football question for me, feel free to email fanmail at hitbyapitch.com. I could talk about this stuff all day!
(I still owe you a post on the first two months of my spending fast. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget. I’ll work on it soon!)

Written by Tracy

September 1st, 2011 at 9:26 pm

The first prong of my fantasy football draft strategy was “don’t suck.”

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I failed.

On Sunday evening, Ben and I participated in a mock fantasy football draft. Usually, I am not a big fan of mock things (or moot, as the case may be — e.g., I refused to participate in moot court during law school because, well, it was moot) but I thought a mock draft might be a good idea to help prepare me for the real draft. Real drafts often involve beer and very questionable decisions when I’m involved, so being prepared is never a bad idea.

The problem with doing a mock draft one day and a real draft the next day is, well, this:

Team 1

Michael Vick
Kevin Kolb

Peyton Hillis
Jahvid Best
Daniel Thomas
Ryan Torain
Ronnie Brown
Roy Helu

Vincent Jackson
Mario Manningham
Johnny Knox
Steve Breaston

Vernon Davis
Benjamin Watson


Neil Rackers

Team 2

Tony Romo
Donovan McNab

Adrian Peterson
BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Fred Jackson
Ricky Williams
Delone Carter
Roy Helu

Larry Fitzgerald
Anquan Boldin
Steve Breaston

Jermichael Finley
Aaron Hernandez


Neil Rackers

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Which team is better? Or maybe the question should be: Which team would you rather have? Find out which one is my real team after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Tracy

August 30th, 2011 at 9:44 am

Fantasy Football Lineup for 9/27

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I’m 1-1 in my fantasy football league. In week 1, my team was awesome. In week 2, my team was absolutely atrocious. My big mistake was totally overthinking everything and making really stupid moves. I benched Dwayne Bowe because I was worried about how well Matt Cassel would throw the ball. I picked up and played Antwaan Randle El. Why? I have no idea. I can’t even blame being drunk for that one. I kept Jason Elam after his craptacular performance in week 1 and he rewarded me with FOUR points.

This week, I grabbed two solid or soon-to-be solid WRs of waivers: Mario Manningham and Johnny Knox. I’m not sure if I’m a Johnny Knox believer yet, but I think he might be big. Devin Hester still isn’t doing much and Jay Cutler really likes Johnny Knox (and if there’s one thing I know about Jay Culter, other than that he has diabetes, it’s that he loves to throw the ball to the dude he really likes). I also dumped Elam for Lawrence Tynes.

So, here is what I’m doing this week:

QB: Eli Manning
RB: DeAngelo Williams
RB: Willis McGahee
RB/WR: Felix Jones
WR: Dwayne Bowe
WR: Mario Manningham
TE: Tony Gonzalez
D/ST: Titans (holy questionable, but the only D I have and I’m not ready to drop them)
K: Lawrence Tynes

QB: Tom Brady (don’t trust him yet)
RB: Darren McFadden (not a bad option but there are better; Broncos run defense is not bad)
RB: Ray Rice (McGahee is the better option)
RB: Shonn Greene (bench until something big happens)
WR: Anquan Boldin (not ready)
WR: Antonio Bryant (broken)
WR: Johnny Knox (projected to outscore Bowe but I’m not sure about him yet — I think he might do better than Bowe but also might do a lot worse; also, last week I said that, as long as Bowe is playing with a QB who has arms and legs, I’m leaving him in)

If you think I’m doing anything really stupid here, let me know. Seriously. I was really, really bad last week.

Update: The second I posted this I found out that Bowe is now listed as questionable instead of probable. I’m keeping him in for now, but if he doesn’t play, I’ll put Knox in his place.

Written by Tracy

September 25th, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Fantasy Football 2009 and Broncos Prediction

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Here is my fantasy football roster for the 2009-10 season. (Remember, I won my league last year — you can see who I drafted here.) We have 10 teams and I picked sixth. We have a flex WR/RB position this year, which is awesome (last year we played 3 WRs and 2 RBs every week, which I hated.) As you can see, I went a little crazy with the RBs again. I tend to do that, but it works.

QB: Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Jason Campbell

RB: DeAngelo Williams, Darren McFadden (I already don’t like this), Ray Rice, Felix Jones, Willis McGahee, Shonn Greene (my crazy sleeper pick of the year — go Hawks!)

WR: Anquan Boldin, Dwayne Bowe, Antonio Bryant

TE: Tony Gonzalez, Anthony Fasano

D/ST: Titans

K: Elam

My prediction for the Denver Broncos? (Remember, I predicted 8-8 last year, which was correct.) This year, they’ll go 4-12 (I almost said 3-13 but they might be able to steal a fourth win, maybe from the Redskins.

Written by Tracy

September 5th, 2009 at 11:52 am