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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
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
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.