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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Ignoring the Experts

Last Week's Question: What were your best and worst draft-day decisions?

Before I get into the responses to last week's column, I want to comment on a recommendation from a reader named CG4Mongo, who vouched for the quality of the inside jokes on the Living the Stream podcast. Thanks for the tip, Mongo. I checked out episode #108 and smiled several times. I even laughed out loud at a terrible pun when one of the hosts suggested recording a song titled "On the Virgil (of a Touchdown)."

As for my question concerning the best and worst draft-day decisions of readers, the feedback I received focused overwhelmingly on the selection or avoidance of particular players.

Thomsoad, for example, is rightly excited about having acquired C.J. Anderson in the 5th round and Spencer Ware in the 14th. He was one of many Keenan Allen owners who identified the Charger wideout as the most disappointing selection of his draft: "I knew he would be a risk, but REALLY? . . . not even ONE GAME?"

Worse yet, he doubled down on Charger personnel by taking Philip Rivers as his primary QB. Rivers lost his best WR (Allen) in Week 1 and his best pass-catching RB (Danny Woodhead) in Week 2, so Antonio Gates seems like a marked man in Week 3. (Just remember that Rivers found a way to be productive last year with personnel dropping like flies around him, so I wouldn't give up hope on him just yet.)

Speaking of Woodhead, Jacob thought that his biggest draft-day mistake was NOT pulling the trigger on the RB in round 7 and then seeing him taken before he had a chance to nab him in round 8. But he followed up with a comment after the Week 2 games: "Never mind."

SonofaBolt explained what his worst move was—only to further explain that it was even worse than it seemed:

My worst move (to date) was waiving Will Fuller for Breshad Perriman.

Wait, I take that back... My worst move was waiving Will Fuller instead of Kamar Aiken for Breshad Perriman!
Gary emailed me about how happy he is to have acquired both Alfred Morris and Christine Michael—not because of what they've done so far, but because of the satisfaction he takes in having "solid handcuffs on two run-first teams." I like Gary's perspective because it's more about the logic behind the choices he made than the actual personnel involved.

But sometimes logic cuts in two different directions.

For instance, Kree posted that his best decision this year was avoiding players who are injured/suspended at the beginning of the year:
Every year I seem to target a player with an early season "issue" (injury/suspension etc) because of the perceived value (player A may have dropped a couple rounds due to suspension etc, so now I HAVE to draft them). This year I did not do that, and I am very happy with my team.
But as far as MickinMD is concerned, the suspended players on his roster might end up being the strength of his team: "My best decision might be drafting L. Bell or T. Brady. . . . But I won't know until they play."

The upshot appears to be that two weeks into the season is probably too early for fantasy owners to know what their best and worst draft-day decisions were, but I still encourage readers who haven't already done so to jot down their thoughts on the subject. We'll revisit these assessments later in the season to see how well readers are judging their own draft strategies. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, my thanks go out to everyone who emailed me or posted their comments directly to the column.

This Week's Question: Under what circumstances do you ignore the fantasy experts you usually trust?

Do you rely on the projections at FFToday when submitting lineups in your league?

I do.

In fact, when I disagree with those projections, my first impulse is usually to privilege this website's rankings over my own—because my own experience has demonstrated that Mike Krueger is better at fantasy football than I am.

So can any of you guess why I disregarded FFToday's projections for Week 2 and started Donte Moncrief over Stefon Diggs in multiple leagues?

Krueger's projections had Diggs a full 22 notches ahead of Moncrief. They weren't close to each other in the rankings, and they didn't finish close to each other in reality. Diggs racked up 182 yards and a TD; Moncrief got 9 yards and an injury.

The projections couldn't have predicted Moncrief's injury, but they certainly factored in the quality of the receivers' opponents (Denver's pass defense is strong; Green Bay's is weak).

But as I looked at the rankings, I decided that Krueger hadn't adequately weighted Minnesota's rapid turnover at the quarterback position (from Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason to Shaun Hill in Week 1 to Sam Bradford in Week 2).

Sure, the Colts were in for a rough day in Denver. But I reasoned that a rough day might be just the thing to spark garbage time production from Andrew Luck and his receivers. It was easy for me to imagine Moncrief racking up 65 yards and a score in just the last five minutes of an out-of-hand game.

It wasn't easy for me to imagine Sam Bradford establishing any kind of connection with his receiving corps a mere fifteen days after being acquired by the Vikings. "How likely is Sam Bradford to have a good day," I reasoned, "against a divisional opponent that is more familiar with his new team than he is?"

So even though I know that Krueger is better at these calculations than I am, I decided that he was wrong in this case and that I should start Moncrief.


This isn't to suggest that I've never benefited from second guessing Krueger. Sometimes I'm right—but usually I'm wrong.

I need to do a better job of figuring out when my instincts to ignore him are justifiable and when they aren't. This week, I learned that a lack of imagination on my part is a pretty poor reason to disregard his insights. In fact, no one had to imagine a connection between Bradford and Diggs because they were happy to show us all exactly what such a connection looks like.

What about you? How do things work out for you when you decide to privilege your own take on particular games over the expertise of the websites you consult? Can you point to a specific insight that you either overvalue or undervalue? Do you try to track your results in any way? Do you even know for certain if you're better or worse off at the end of the season for having disregarded certain pieces of advice from certain experts?

Whether you usually end up kicking yourself or patting yourself on the back for your independent thinking, please email me or post a comment explaining when and why you ignore your favorite experts.

Survivor Pool Picks - Week 3 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

Trap Game: Seattle over San Francisco

What's wrong in Seattle? In the post-Marshawn Lynch era, Russell Wilson was supposed to carry this team on his shoulders. Instead, Wilson is carrying Ndamukong Suh's footprint on his ankle and relying on a resurgent Christine Michael. But even though Michael has outplayed Thomas Rawls so far in 2016, Seattle as a team has averaged 70 yards less per game than in 2015 and has fallen from the 4th offense in the NFL to 26th overall. On top of that, the Seahawks have scored only 15 points and may be chasing the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West for the rest of the season. The 49ers are supposed to be the doormats of the division in this year of rebuilding, so the odds makers have the Seahawks winning by nine. The problem with that line is that the Seahawks aren't even averaging 9 TOTAL points per game this season, so it's hard to foresee them beating any team by such a wide margin. More distressingly, the 49ers put up 28 points against the same Rams team that only yielded 3 to Seattle. Steer clear of this one.

#3: Dallas over Chicago (0-2, JAX, OAK)

I almost put this game as my top pick based on quarterbacks alone. Chicago's Jay Cutler is out and Cowboy rookie Dak Prescott has been rock solid in his first two weeks under center (though he is yet to throw a touchdown pass). The Cowboys might well be 2-0 if not for the last-second gaffe by Terrence Williams that kept the clock running in the loss to the Giants in Week 1. The Cowboys may have come up short against Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, and a smothering Giant defense, but this week they get to face a Bears team that will be lucky to finish 4-12. Without Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery must be feeling pretty lonely. Is Brian Hoyer good enough to coax Chicago to a win in Dallas on Sunday night? Probably not. Look for Prescott and Dez Bryant to finally connect for a TD or two in a primetime matchup that Dallas should win.

#2: Carolina over Minnesota (2-0, HOU, AZ)

These teams appear to be in similar situations as far as the running game is concerned. But appearances can be deceiving. With Adrian Peterson out for the Vikings, it's reasonable to wonder whether Jerrick McKinnon or Matt Asiata will be the primary rusher for Minnesota. But with Jonathan Stewart out for the Panthers, it's not especially important to figure out whether Fozzy Whittaker or Cameron Artis-Payne will be the primary rushing threat for Carolina—since Cam Newton is still in the lineup. Newton will put this team on his back and gut out a victory at home against a very likely playoff opponent no matter who is in the backfield. Moreover, the Panther defense (with no AP to worry about) should manage to contain Stefon Diggs. If you didn’t take the Panthers last week, it’s safe to take Carolina and look to Week 4.

#1: Miami over Cleveland: (2-0, SEA, CAR)

Let me begin by saying that this game absolutely scares the you-know-what out of me. Miami's offense is unreliable, but the Cleveland offense will have to exceed expectations dramatically for the Browns to win with their third starting quarterback in as many weeks. With RG III out for the season and Josh McCown out for the time being, rookie Cody Kessler is poised for his first NFL start. This should be a sloppy game between two teams that rank in the bottom third of the league both offensively and defensively. In a situation as potentially ugly as this one, the deciding factor will likely be the play of the quarterbacks, so Ryan Tannehill's experience should give him the edge. Tannehill won't have an easy time without Arian Foster in the backfield, but he'll have a much easier time than his Cleveland counterpart. Expect a hostile crowd in Miami and a lot of disguised blitzes to keep Kessler rattled. This game won’t be pretty, but as any person who picked Seattle in Week 1 knows, victory doesn’t have to be pretty to get you to the next week.

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.