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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

What's Your Favorite Fantasy Podcast?

Last Month's Question: Is it time to ditch kickers in fantasy?

In my column for August, I asked readers whether fantasy leagues are better off without kickers in the lineup. More specifically, I hoped to hear from commissioners of leagues that had eliminated kickers for the express purpose of making room for a second QB in fantasy lineups. Since no such commissioners contacted me or commented on the column, I can't help thinking that such league transformations are less typical of the mainstream fantasy population than of professional/expert leagues.

Nevertheless, I did hear from several FFers who believe that kickers are worth preserving in fantasy regardless of any concerns about the scarcity/predictability of statistical productivity at the position.

As MKrip commented, "Sure, there might not be a ton of strategy and variance, but . . . it's fun to cheer on potential scenarios that might lead to your kicker getting a shot at a kick on that [potentially game-winning] drive."

Dana boiled kicking down to the element of luck that makes so many games (from craps to poker) irresistible:

The great thing about having a kicker in the game is the unpredictability of your outcome. Kicker is the only position that has no control over when he goes in the game, but is expected to score every time he does. Virtually every week a fantasy game in most leagues is won by a kicker who puts up more than 20 points, or lost by one who only puts up one or two points. Strategy comes heavily into play when you have to decide whether to play the guy you drafted or stream a K from the free agent pool because of the matchup. I think it adds to the fun and challenge because you have to be a student of the game to make that decision.
Nick made the case for kickers via email. He's less concerned about the fun associated with randomness than the reality of how NFL games are played: "We'll consider making this change as soon as NFL teams start fielding 2 QBs at the same time and no kickers ever. SMH."

The other emails I received were variations on this theme. No one wrote in to advocate ditching kickers, and no one commented specifically on any league-wide headaches that might be associated with eliminating kickers to install second QBs. If any leagues out there really are taking the advice of the fantasy analysts who champion such changes, they're staying mum on the subject.

This Week's Question: What's your favorite fantasy football podcast?

Fantasy football podcasts haven't always been around, so there must have been a time in my life when I listened to regular ESPN programming while doing household chores. But I never looked forward to having SportsCenter on in the background while organizing the garage the way I currently look forward to listening to some of my favorite fantasy podcasts these days.

I don't want to get carried away about the value of fantasy podcasts. Almost all of them have flaws, including obligatory mindless banter and inside jokes that are often more tiresome than funny. Then too, podcasts are rarely as focused and data-driven as the articles of folks such as FFToday's Doug Orth. But as much as I like the charts that Orth routinely generates, it's difficult to study those charts while I'm loading the dishwasher.

My point is that if you're still getting all your information about fantasy football from reading articles and watching TV shows, you're doing fantasy wrong. Podcasts pair beautifully with driving, exercising, and other activities in a way that more visual forms of information consumption (such reading and watching TV) don't.

Moreover, there's a vast array of fantasy podcasts out there—with enough difference between them to accommodate all sorts of tastes and preferences.

My general challenge to readers this week is to explain what they like most about their favorite fantasy football podcast (either in the comment field beneath this column or via email).

My specific challenge to readers is to rank the following six fantasy podcasts (listed alphabetically) in their order of preference. Any shows with which you are unfamiliar should be omitted from your rankings. So if you've only listened to the first two and you prefer Fantasy Football Today, your ranking would look like this:
1) Fantasy Football Today; 2) Fantasy Focus Football Show.

Any commentary you might care to add could also be beneficial to other readers of this column, so a more fleshed out response might resemble this: "My favorite fantasy podcast is Fantasy Football Today because Adam Aizer does a reasonable job of keeping his analysts on track. I don't listen to Fantasy Focus anymore because Field Yates can't keep Matthew Berry from blathering on endlessly about nothing. I've never heard of the other shows on this list."

If you know of any other fantasy podcasts that you think should have been included in the list, I would love to know about them even though I already subscribe to more than I have time for each week.

You get the idea.

And since Q&A is lucky enough to have Matthew Schiff back for the 2016 season, let's get to the part of the column that everyone has been waiting for.

Survivor Pool Picks - Week 1 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

Trap Game: Kansas City over San Diego

Kansas City comes into 2016 as the favorite to win the AFC West now that Denver has “come back” to the pack after Peyton Manning’s retirement. However, Jamaal Charles is not 100% in this divisional contest. Worse yet, Jeremy Maclin can't really stretch the field the way he should because of his reliance on Alex Smith (the NFL's reigning monarch of timidity as far as the deep ball is concerned). The Chargers are only slightly improved over last year’s squad that finished 4-12. For them to rise in their division, they will need to play better than the twentieth ranked defense that they were last year. But Philip Rivers still has more weapons than the Chiefs do in a divisional game on opening day where it is already apparent that one team is healthier than the other. In spite of the large spread, this writer will avoid a normally “juicy” lock at Arrowhead.

#3: Jacksonville over Green Bay

You read that right. I'm taking the Jags over the Pack. For much of the last decade, the Jaguars have been a team in disarray, with almost no fan base and even less talent on either side of the ball. Slowly, management has been adding skill players to help a strong-armed Blake Bortles compete for a division crown. Bortles' weapons include two 6’3” speedsters in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson as well as a proven TD threat in TE Julius Thomas—along with underrated RBs T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory. Offensive talent alone makes the Jags a dangerous team this year. But look for their defense to improve with a healthy Dante Fowler, the highly touted draft pick in 2015 who spent the whole year out due to injury. As for the Packers, until we see that Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy have both returned to their 2014 form, we shouldn't assume they are the juggernaut of yesteryear. The next-man-up philosophy hasn’t been quite as reliable as it used to be for the boys from Titletown. For this reason, if you feel compelled to be brave in Week 1, take the Jags and hope that Seattle gets upset by Miami. What I wouldn’t do is assume that the Packers will win this game just because of history. They aren't playing your daddy's Jaguars.

#2: Houston over Chicago

The monsters of the midway are rebuilding. Brandon Marshall left for the Jets last season, where Matt Forte has joined him for 2016. Martellus Bennett also left for the AFC East and is now a Patriot, which leaves Alshon Jeffery to carry the Bears to glory without any other proven commodities on offense (which is only unfair to Jay Cutler in the minds of people who value inconsistency as a commodity). Jeffery may be able to win a few games by himself—but they won't be the games in which the Bears are missing three starters in the secondary (as is the case this week). As for the Texans, they get to test out the gunslinging capabilities of Brock Osweiler, who is playing with one of the best wide receivers in the league in DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans should also benefit from the explosive potential of former Dolphins RB Lamar Miller. However, it isn’t the offense that will electrify fans in this game as much as the Texan defense, which might score two touchdowns against Cutler. If you have any misgivings about the Seahawks, take the Texans and relax.

#1: Seattle over Miami

Remember that there are no style points in Survival Pools. All you have to do is pick a WINNER that will get you through to the next week. So many Survival Pools are blown up by that game that looks like the perfect game, and then something goes horribly wrong and you end up out of the pool (along with 30-40% of the rest of the participants). That shouldn't be the case with this game. The Seahawks enjoy a home advantage unrivalled by most teams in league history, and the Dolphins must travel about as far as is geographically possible for NFL teams. Old Man Foster (that is Arian by the way) is expected to be the lead back after signing with Miami to replace Lamar Miller (in what amounted to a running back trade without quite being one). But he is coming off an Achilles injury that still isn’t fully healed. And even though it's unclear how large the role of a tweaked Thomas Rawls will be, Christine Michael is a capable (and potentially explosive) backup. Regardless of who takes over for Marshawn “RetiredMode” Lynch, this team should hardly miss a beat. Moreover, the Seahawk defenders and their 12th man will make it difficult for Ryan Tannehill to establish a tempo. Feel good about taking the largest point spread available this week and enjoy Week 1.

Mike Davis has been writing about fantasy football since 1999--and playing video games even longer than that. His latest novel (concerning a gamer who gets trapped inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms) can be found here.