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Week 10

Last Week's Question

In last week’s column, I solicited feedback from readers concerning the best television show to watch for fantasy football information. The question was primarily an excuse for me to write a review of my own favorite football show, which happens to be NFL Playbook on the NFL Network. I expected a few readers of this column share my enthusiasm for that show, but it came as a bit of a surprise to me to learn how contemptuous many fantasy buffs apparently are of such shows.

Jeff was one of the many readers to provide a downright venomous response:

I can’t understand why anyone watches those pointless football shows that you find on every other network these days. All you get is a bunch of clichéd and misinformed garbage flowing from the mouths of so-called analysts who never in their lives knew anything about the game and from former players who are completely out of touch with the current state of the NFL.

Hank’s response was similarly dismissive:

There’s only one kind of football show worth watching: broadcasts of the games themselves. When I’m watching games at my own house, I always turn the sound down because I can’t stand to subject myself to the inane rambling of the commentators, but in a bar or at someone else’s place, I realize that I have to put up with their gibberish. I’m willing to make that concession if it’s the only way to watch a game, but if you think I’m going to let anyone talk to me about football when there’s no actual football to be watched, you’re flat crazy.

Mark wrote in with explicit directions for how FFers can get some benefit from television. In his opinion, there is only one correct answer:

Here is my guide for how to put television to use fantasy-wise. My 7-step program is simple enough that even Mike Tice could follow it.

Step 1: Record ESPN Countdown (I used to use a VCR; these days I’m all about Tivo).

Step 2: At 12:30 or so EST, start fast forwarding through all the garbage in the show for the updates from Chris Mortensen.

Step 3: Whenever Mortensen’s puffy white face appears, hit play and listen carefully to what he has to say.

Step 4: As soon as Mortensen stops talking, hit fast forward again.

Step 5: Stay tuned for the final injury update from Mortensen near the end of the show.

Step 6: At 12:55 or so, log on to your fantasy website to make the final adjustments to your lineup.

Step 7: Watch the freakin’ games.

The most diplomatic response along these lines came from Mike, who wrote:

This probably does not answer your question directly. When I need info for fantasy football in timely fashion, I never rely on the TV for the most up-to-date data. In less than a third of the time it takes to watch even a half hour TV program supposedly targeted to fantasy footballers, I can check out (your web-site),, and—and then print out whatever info is relevant, all before our Thursday night meetings. It’s just that simple if I want to be informed about injuries, who's starting, who's hot and who's not, etc.

Now, if you were to ask which of the pre-game TV programs is the most "entertaining", I would vote for the Fox version of NFL Sunday (whatever it's called), mainly because I like Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long. Both have a kind of self-deprecating sense of humor, in contrast to say Michael Irvin, whose ego gags me!

I’m serious when I say that the guy who ended with the observation that Michael Irvin’s ego gags him sent in a “diplomatic” response. Some of you folks are so angry at the ESPN crew that I couldn’t even consider printing your responses. You know who you are, and I recommend that you let go of your anger! (I want to add, “Do you kiss your mother with that keyboard?”, but that metaphor just doesn’t work—even if it is funny.)

Fortunately, there was one reader who wrote in to chime in on the topic in the way that I had hoped. Tom responded to my review of NFL Playbook with his own review of The Ultimate Fantasy Football Show:

This one is an easy answer: The Ultimate Fantasy Football Show on Fox Sports Net is the best show for fantasy football purposes. Shows like NFL Matchup and NFL Playbook do give good inside info on how blocking schemes work and matchups are exploited, but The Ultimate Fantasy Football Show (with Erik Kramer, Warren Moon, Andrew Siciliano, and Patrick O'Neal) provides exactly what the average FFer wants. NFL Countdown is annoying, Fox Sports pre-game doesn't even mention anything about fantasy football, and CBS sports only does the bottom menu of their fantasy rankings per position (rankings which don't really help one hour before the kickoffs begin).

Here's why The Ultimate Fantasy Football Show is better than the others:

1) The projected stats for each main QB, RB, and WR (TE's too) scroll on the side of the screen during the whole show.

2) They do the "Over/Under" for certain fantasy players. For example, will Shaun Alexander go over or under 125 yards rushing against Arizona?

3) They answer email questions, such as “Do I play Deion Branch or Santana Moss this week?” (as a week 9 example).

4) The start and sit segment is always good. They pick critical players in key matchups and see if they should be started or benched.

5) The “You Killed Me” segment is funny. They pick a fantasy player that killed fantasy owners during the previous week, and people email the show about their frustration with that player.

I like the NFL Matchup and NFL Playbook shows since I like to look at the X's and O's matchups (and they have their faults too like you said), but most people that play fantasy football couldn't care less about the blocking schemes, how David Carr gets sacked 14 times a game, or why Edgerrin James is the MVP so far this season. They only care about what players they should play and why and what the projected stats are. Sure, Erik and Warren get annoying when they jaw back and forth, but it's a fun and informative show to watch for any fantasy football player, whether they're brand new or they've been playing for 12 years (like me).

This Week's Question:

Does it seem to anyone else as if absolutely everybody playing fantasy football has suddenly become way savvier all at once? You can disregard this question if you only play in hard-core leagues. I’m sure plenty of FFers only participate in leagues in which their competitors have been on top of the developments around the NFL for years. If you are such a person, you won’t have any idea what I’m talking about. But I know that a number of people, such as myself, participate in different leagues against different kinds of owners with very different knowledge bases. In the staff league for FFToday, for instance, it’s really hard to find a decent running back at this point in the season even if he comes out of nowhere. If I recall correctly, Tony Fisher was taken well ahead of the time that he emerged as a probable starter in Green Bay. Last week, I managed to snag Jonathan Wells (who filled in for Domanick Davis) just minutes before another owner picked up Vernand Morency. But when you’re playing against other fantasy football writers, you expect to be racing against time on every decision.

What puzzles me is that it seems as if the participants in my more ordinary league have become worlds better at responding to late-breaking news around the NFL this year. These aren’t FF writers; they’re ordinary football fans—the same fans who left Kurt Warner on the waiver wire for weeks after he took over for Trent Green in St. Louis years ago. Now they’re racing to snap up the Ernest Wilfords and Reggie Browns of the NFL with lightning quickness. I guess that means my question is two-fold. 1) Am I over-generalizing on my own experience here, or do others perceive that roster decisions are generally being made more quickly, more judiciously, and more frequently by the majority of fantasy owners? 2) If others sense that such a phenomenon is genuinely occurring, what should we attribute it to? Does it have to do with the media catering more to the fantasy community? the fact that popular hosting sites such as provide players with instant updates just for logging in? the emergence of hordes of purveyors of fantasy football information? the general streamlining of fantasy football as it has switched from a paper format (commissioners calculating points by studying printed box scores) to a computerized format? Of course, if you think I’m just imagining things, feel free to say so.

Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt)

Although Matt occasionally makes mistakes (like anyone else who tries to predict the outcome of NFL games), he’s more often right than wrong. You also have to concede that the guy is not afraid to go out on a limb. Just check out his number 1 pick this week.

Matt’s Picks

Trap Game: Minnesota @ NY Giants:

The New York Giants have a three-game winning streak since losing the overtime game in Dallas after their bye week. And while these same Giants have been winning with defense of late, the Vikings should be an ideal team to make the streak four in a row with a team that is constantly having to deal with the media attention about their off-the-field antics, the loss of their best player in Dante Culpepper, and the stigma of being left for dead before last week at 2-5. However, because of the Giants’ recent success and the fact that their next four games are against conference opponents (three against the Cowboys and Eagles), the Giants might just be focused on the games coming up instead of this “easy” game at home. Brad Johnson is a solid veteran quarterback who has now won 60% of his starts, and it looks like Michael Bennett is out of the doghouse and will start against a defense that earlier this year gave up numerous 100-yard rushing days. This game will be a lot closer than many think and just might slip away from the G-Men if they don’t put the Vikes away early.

#3: Houston @ Indianapolis (7-1 Season):

If you haven’t used the Colts yet in your Survivor Pool, this is the game. All signs point to the Colts going 9-0 with Domanick Davis injured and a Houston defense that is giving up yards and points to average teams rather easily. The combination of the new Colts defense with the already powerful offense means that this could be the first undefeated team since the ’72 Dolphins. Once they get into the playoffs, however, all bets are off.

#2: Chicago @ San Francisco (4-4):
If you didn’t use the Bears last week against the Saints, you will get another chance this week against the 49ers, who surprised the Bucs two weeks ago and played tough against the Giants until late in the third quarter. The Bears defense is better than any defense the 49ers have faced all season, and Cody Pickett will have his hands full with the pass rush. The Bear rushing game may have a little trouble against the front line of the 49ers, and they may need to rely on Kyle Orton to Mushin Muhammad to win this, but win it they should.

#1: Buffalo over Kansas City **Upset Special** (6-2):
The Bills are ranked second to last in defense against the run, giving up 150 yards per game and a league worst 13 touchdowns. However, against the pass, the Bills are a league best, allowing only 156 yards per game and giving up only 6 touchdowns. Larry Johnson should have a very good day up in New York as the featured back, but Kelly Holcomb might just have a 400-yard game. He has done it two times before while playing with the Cleveland Browns, and he has publicly said that Eric Moulds is the best wide receiver that he has played with. The Kansas City Chiefs are second to last in the league, giving up 260 yards per game and 16 touchdowns through the air. While the Bills will try and run McGahee and control the clock, this just might become a shootout that results in the home team pulling out a surprise victory.

For responses to this week's fantasy question or to share your LMS picks, please email me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.

Readers who want to have their fantasy questions answered live, on the air, by Mike Davis are invited to tune into FFEXradio on Friday afternoons at 5:00 p.m. EST. Archived programs are also available.