When fantasy becomes a nightmare

Time sure does fly and we are already in week 6 so do not forget to set your team for Sunday night and be aware of byes. Week 5 may leave a bitter taste in the mouth of many as once again injuries and poor performances were rife. If you are 0-5 then you may still be able to squeeze a play off place so do not despair, your season isn’t over. If you are 2-3 or 3-2 it’s still all to play for. Here I will try and guide you through to recover if you had a poor week 5 (as I did in the leagues I’m in). This will involve stats tools of the mean and 95% Confidence Interval or the range one would expect 95% of future scores to be in.

Like me, you may have Michael Vick and EJ Manuel. You may also have had Ponder and Locker. Now all four are injured. Whatever you do, don’t give up on Vick, who is currently 5th top scoring QB this season. However you need viable alternatives especially as replacement back ups in place of Manuel, Ponder and Locker. The two Smiths, Alex and Geno are 12th and 14th for the season so far, available in 41.7% and 95.2% of leagues (OL) respectively. Alex is probably the safer option, with a mean score of 17.24 pts compared to Geno’s 14.83. Geno is more variable and there is 2 in 5 chance he will score below 10pts. Terrelle Pryor is another viable and pretty consistent option, with a mean of 17.18 pts per game and 95% of his scores within 4.69pts of this. Amazingly Pryor is a better option than Joe Flacco (only 69% owned) and Ryan Tannehill (owned in only 8.9% OL). Go with Pryor, unless he is engaged elsewhere.

Note: It is too early to comment on Cassel, Fitzpatrick and Glennon. I have taken Matt Cassel over Nick Foles based purely on predicted scores.

Now we come to RB and WR positions, where the pool is certainly shallow especially in 12+ team league (which the Gridiron Gentlemen is). Let’s start with the RB position where the depth is so shallow you could wade through it welly boots. The season top 25 looks like this:

1 Jamaal Charles – KC
2 LeSean McCoy – PHI
3 Adrian Peterson – MIN
4 Matt Forte – CHI
5 Marshawn Lynch – SEA
6 Fred Jackson – BUF
7 Knowshon Moreno – DEN
8 DeMarco Murray – DAL
9 Arian Foster – HOU
10 Reggie Bush – DET
11 Frank Gore – SF FP
12 Joique Bell – DET
13 Darren Sproles – NO
14 Bilal Powell – NYJ
15 Giovani Bernard – CIN
16 Danny Woodhead – SD
17 Trent Richardson – IND
18 Chris Johnson – TEN
19 Jason Snelling – ATL
20 Pierre Thomas – NO
21 Alfred Morris – WAS
22 Doug Martin – TB
23 Darren McFadden – OAK
24 Jacquizz Rodgers – ATL
25 Rashard Mendenhall – ARI

Of these Joique Bell is still available in almost 43% OL, otherwise the rest are owned in between 71% to 100% OL. So we’ll forget them. All of these players, unless on a bye, you should start, even the risky ones like Reggie Bush, Giovanni Bernard and Chris Johnson. I’m not going to talk about the above list but the next 25:

26 BenJarvus Green-Ellis – CIN
27 Ray Rice – BAL
28 C.J. Spiller – BUF LP
29 Lamar Miller – MIA
30 DeAngelo Williams – CAR
31 Ahmad Bradshaw – IND
32 Ryan Mathews – SD
33 Andre Ellington – ARI
34 Bernard Pierce – BAL LP
35 Maurice Jones-Drew – JAX
36 Ronnie Hillman – DEN FP
37 James Starks – GB O
38 Ben Tate – HOU FP
39 Daryl Richardson – STL
40 LeGarrette Blount – NE
41 Marcel Reece – OAK LP
42 Kendall Hunter – SF
43 Daniel Thomas – MIA
44 Donald Brown – IND
45 Eddie Lacy – GB
46 Da’Rel Scott – NYG
47 Jackie Battle – TEN FP
48 Rashad Jennings – OAK LP
49 Le’Veon Bell – PIT
50 Chris Ogbonnaya – CLE LP

Why the focus on this lot? Well you are likely to need at least 3 RBs and in a 10 team league this would take in the top 30 running backs. Of course you will want some on the bench also not all leagues are of 10 teams.

From the Law Firm to Ryan Mathews you are looking at 88%< ownership with similar levels of consistency (though expect Ray Rice’s score to go up as he improves), from Mathews 8.3pts mean (+/- 2.98pts 95% of games, OG) and De Angelo Williams mean of 8.78pts/game (+/- 2.02pts 95% OG) to Lamar Millers 7.04pts/game (+/-5.23 95% OG). So all pretty similar, all pretty safe bets.
And now we come to some interesting choices such as: Andre Ellington (av. 90% OL, avg. 6.48pts/game +/-  3.55pts 95% OG), Bernard Pierce (av. 42.4% OL, avg. 6.48 pts/game +/- 4.87pts 95% OG), Donald Brown (av. 98.5% OL, avg. 4.62 pts/game +/-3.57pts 95% OG), Marcel Reece (av. 98.2%OL, avg. 4.88pts/game +/-3.9pts 95% OG), Ronnie Hillman (av. 42.5% OL, avg. 5.98pts/game +/- 4.31pts 95% OG) and Le’veon Bell (av. 25.6% OL). Some of these have been noted as waiver wire picks as well as Start ’ems on www.nfl.com/fantasy. Clearly Ellington is a must have and is a bit more  consistent than Rashard Mendenhall (avg. 7.66pts/game +/-5.47 95%OG). Eddie Lacy is owned in 94% OL but worth a possible trade as he does have the promise to get you big points (though currently that is based on 3 points of data).  Some other players of note are Kendall Hunter av. 96.2% OL) and Jackie Battle (av. 99.2% OL). Kendall is a bit erratic in scoring, mainly due to playing behind Frank Gore in the niners offense and his mean of 4.64pts/game is low but there is a 95% chance he could score as high as 9.07pts, which at flex would be handy.  Jackie Battle should be taking up Shonn Greene’s slack but this does not seem to be happening. Again his scoring is inconsistent and quite low with a mean of 4.43pt/game +/-2.65pts 95% OG. Again one for the flex or the bench if times are that desperate. When we get beyond the top 50 we get into most definitely in flex position and bye week cover territory, where consistency goes out the window and you are really just gambling. Anyone worthy of note? Well yes as this is also the territory where many injured and just returning players sit, most haven’t had enough games to get a true indication of their consistency. Steven Jackson (av. 4.2%OL), Stevan Ridley (av. 15.8%OL) and Willis McGahee (av. 49.2%OL) are all just getting back after missing games and all have the potential to score well, so well worth getting if you can. Other than that really have some slim pickings. Ronnie Brown will get you 3.48pts/game (+/-2.1pts 95% OG) and Roy Helu will get you 4.93pts/game (+/- 6.33pts 95%OG). Bryce Brown (av. 35%OL, mean 2.46pts/game +/-1.82 95%OG), had two big scores last season but is highly variable and his scores depend on the health of LeSean McCoy. Alfonso Smith (av. 99.9%OL) is a better option than Brown, as he is a bit more of a goal line vulture. Saying that he still only averages a mean of 2.88pts/game +/-3.32pts 95%OG. Out of the rest Mike Tolbert is probably the safest scoring bet, as in he is most likely 95% likely to get you more than 1pt per game, with a mean of 4.13pts/game +/-2.96 pts in 95%OG. And that are your running backs and as you can see, the depth shallows very quickly to the point you are splashing in puddles, now onto wide receivers.

The story with wide receivers is very similar as with running back position but I think there is a bit more depth, possibly a bit more consistency. When looking over 4 weeks of the top  seventy five point scoring players, wide receivers make up 30%. We’ll start with having a look at the top 25:

1 Brandon Marshall WR – CHI
2 Victor Cruz WR – NYG
3 Dez Bryant WR – DAL
4 Wes Welker WR – DEN
5 DeSean Jackson WR – PHI
6 Demaryius Thomas WR – DEN
7 Julio Jones WR – ATL IR
8 Alshon Jeffery WR – CHI
9 Torrey Smith WR – BAL
10 Calvin Johnson WR – DET
11 Jordy Nelson WR – GB
12 Antonio Brown WR – PIT
13 A.J. Green WR – CIN
14 Eric Decker WR – DEN
15 Randall Cobb WR – GB
16 Anquan Boldin WR – SF
17 Rueben Randle WR – NYG
18 Reggie Wayne WR – IND
19 Denarius Moore WR – OAK
20 Eddie Royal WR – SD
21 Julian Edelman WR – NE
22 Nate Washington WR – TEN
23 Cecil Shorts WR – JAX
24 Pierre Garcon WR – WAS
25 Larry Fitzgerald WR – ARI

Though the majority of the above are owned in over 83% of leagues there are a few notable exceptions worth highlighting. Rueben Randle is available in 94.1% OL and averages a mean 8.55pts/game +/-6.51 pts. Eddie Royal is still available in 46.3% OL with a mean of 9.92pts/game +/-9.54 pts 95%OG. On the lower end of the availability scale, Julian Endelman (mean 9.7pts/game +/- 5.7pts 95%OG) is available in a third of all leagues and Denarius Moore (12.43pts/game +/- 5pts 95%OG) is available in 34.3% of all leagues, a player who if you can get, do get! All these players should be on your starting line up, unless you have a couple of the top 10 wr’s. On to the next 25:

26 T.Y. Hilton WR – IND
27 Austin Pettis WR – STL
28 Kenbrell Thompkins WR – NE
29 Brian Hartline WR – MIA
30 Josh Gordon WR – CLE
31 Hakeem Nicks WR – NYG
32 James Jones WR – GB
33 Robert Woods WR – BUF
34 Andre Johnson WR – HOU Q
35 Steve Johnson WR – BUF Q
36 Marques Colston WR – NO
37 Greg Jennings WR – MIN
38 Donnie Avery WR – KC P
39 Jerricho Cotchery WR – PIT
40 Doug Baldwin WR – SEA
41 DeAndre Hopkins WR – HOU
42 Ted Ginn WR – CAR
43 Jerome Simpson WR – MIN
44 Mike Wallace WR – MIA
45 Terrance Williams WR – DAL
46 Marlon Brown WR – BAL Q
47 Kendall Wright WR – TEN
48 Golden Tate WR – SEA
49 Leonard Hankerson WR – WAS
50 Dwayne Bowe WR – KC

I love this list as there are so many actually good players still available. At the lower points end we have Donnie Avery (av. 90.7%OL) and Doug Baldwin (av. 97.2% OL). Avery is surprisingly not as good as pick as Baldwin, with an average of 7.32pts/game +/-4.05 95%OG , where as Baldwin manages 7.18pts/game +/-2.24 95%OG, so a preferred option and is even more consistent even of the next lot. Austin Pettis (av. 91.7%, mean 9.24pts/game +/-5.38pts 95% OG)  and Brian Hartline (av.56.3% OL, mean 9.04pts/game +/- 4.85pts 95%OG) appear to lead the way with Robert Woods (av. 92.7%, mean 8.42pts/game +/- 3.83pts 95%OG) and Ted Ginn (av. 96.3%, mean 8.8pts/game +/-5.73 95% OG) following close behind. These are probably the pick of the available lot, certainly showing the best consistency (and explains why in one league I picked up Ted Ginn and still feel justified. But also this is why I think Baldwin is possibly the best choice just because of his consistency. He may not be likely to get over 10 points but neither is he likely to get below 4pts, unlike the others. I will update you next week on how I do. In my next post I will cover the rest of the WR’s, tight ends and defense/special teams (kickers are still ten a penny).

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Toodle pip and good luck!