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Week 4

My Underestimation of Marty the TV Executive
In last week’s column, I solicited responses from readers about the attitudes they adopt when proposing or accepting a trade. I received a number of informative (and some extremely clever) notes, but I am going to save them for next week, when I will return to that question along with some statistical reference points that I hope to generate with the follow-up question that appears below.

Before I get to that question, however, I need to apologize to Marty the TV executive, a fictional show biz suit whom I spoofed in a column that I wrote over the summer entitled “Pelting the Redheaded Stepchild with Candy.” In that column, I suggested that television executives in charge of programming fantasy football segments had virtually no idea what sort of product to deliver to their target audience.

Along the way, I made Marty out to be a bit dimwitted. Moreover, I suggested that he was prone to violence and obsessed with bunny rabbits. These distortions about people like Marty were both hurtful and irresponsible, and I want to apologize to fictionalized Victorian stereotypes throughout the world. But even though I may once have been a large part of the problem, I hope to become part of the solution by setting the record straight.

Marty is not a dunce. And he has no more fondness for the soft fur of a nice, cuddly bunny than you or I or any red-blooded American. It’s true that Marty doesn’t yet know what it is that fantasy enthusiasts want in a fantasy segment, but we must acknowledge that he has one heck of a plan for finding out.

As I watched The Fantasy Show last week, I realized that Marty was hard at work using the ESPN fantasy website to find out exactly what his viewers want to know. On that program, the commentators talked not only about specific players, but about the percentage of leagues hosted by ESPN in which particular players had been claimed. Just think about what an incredibly specific product this information enables ESPN to churn out. If Laveranues Coles is owned in 85% of fantasy leagues, then ESPN knows there’s a huge market out there for the consumption of the latest information about how Coles is doing in practice this week. As people lose faith in Jerry Porter’s prospects and cut him for free agents such as Jericho Cotchery and Marques Colston, the writers for ESPN can shift their focus from what it means to be in Art Shell’s doghouse to what it means to be a No. 2 wideout on a surprisingly productive offense.

I’ll remind readers here that my summer column was not about shows like The Fantasy Show, but fantasy segments that appear as part of shows that are otherwise dedicated to traditional coverage of the NFL (such as the “Fantasy Five” segment on NFL Live). I contended in that column that such segments were bound to land somewhere between pointless (at best) and insulting (at worst) in the estimate of FFers until the producers of the segments got a clue about what sorts of information most FFers are on the lookout for.

I didn’t solicit feedback on that column, but a number of readers wrote in to let me know that the one sure way to get them to turn the channel was for the networks to run one of the wrongheaded “fantasy segments” that I discussed in that column. The readers who felt strongly enough to write in contended that the best information for FFers is almost never packaged as fantasy info. It’s stuff like the injury updates that Chris Mortensen provides on Sunday morning.

The new wrinkle (well, new to me anyway, though I have no idea how long ESPN has been collecting or using the information about the percentage of leagues in which specific players are owned) is that even if Mortensen sticks to reporting on the high-profile players in marquee matchups, ESPN has a pretty good idea about how many people want to know about the injury status of RB Reuben Droughns as compared to those who want to know about the availability of TE Erron Kinney.

To my mind, this is the best of all possible worlds. The programming executives don’t have to understand the intricacies of fantasy football in order to know what information is likely to be most greedily consumed by the greatest number of viewers. Better still, the information doesn’t have to be packaged as part of a lame fantasy segment that does more to alienate than educate the average fantasy viewer. Bravo, Marty. I gave you insufficient credit, and I look forward to seeing what you can do with this very precise information that you have collected.

This Week’s Question: Winning A Trade
Although I have been delighted by some of the thoughtful answers that I received in response to last week’s question, I have concluded that I should have posed a more concrete question so as to help frustrated owners and commissioners get a better sense for how trading works in leagues other than their own. For my next column, I hope to blend some of the insights I received to last week’s more general question with the information that I will attempt to collect with this week’s specific request. To participate, please email me with the following information:
  1. What (in your opinion) is the most balanced trade offer that has been made in your league this year?
  2. Did this trade go through? (Yes or no)
  3. What (in your opinion) is the most lopsided trade offer that has been made in your league this year?
  4. Did this trade go through? (Yes or no)
  5. How many teams are in your league?
  6. What is your league’s starting lineup (eg. 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, & 1 Def or 1QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 K, 3 IDP, etc.)
  7. Does the round in which traded players were drafted have any consequences for the teams involved next year?
  8. If yes to question 7, please indicate the rounds in which the players were taken (or the prices paid for them in an auction/salary cap league).

Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt & Michael)

Matt’s Picks

Trap Game: New Orleans at Carolina - The Panthers are 1-2 on the season and are in a fight to get
back to respectability before they can even focus on the division. This week would go
a long way towards resurrecting their season. But the Saints are not last year?s
Saints and have a new found respect for themselves. Sean Payton has the Saints playing
great, and this divisional game will go a long way towards the Saints taking over
control of the NFC South. Wait, the Saints in control of the NFC South? Odds makers
had anyone but the Saints winning this division, but if they pull off this game they
will have commanding control at 4-0. And the Saints know this as well as anyone else.

#3: Philadelphia over Green Bay (2-1 Season):
The Eagles are in the middle of the easiest part of their schedule, and while Brett
Favre looked like the Favre of old, he is going to have a hard time duplicating his
performance of last week in Philadelphia. McNabb and company showed everyone that the
collapse against the Giants was an aberration and will pick apart the Packers secondary
that is giving up an average of 388 yards per game, 301 yards through the air.

#2: Dallas at Tennessee (3-0 Season):
What? No Terrell Owens? No problem. Miami barely escaped with a win over the Titans
last week, but Bill Parcells likes to run the ball, and that is the Titans' weakness
(30th against the run). Combine Julius Jones and Marion Barber with some controlled
play action pass and the Cowboys can hit cruise control early in the second half.

#1: Indianapolis at New York Jets (2-1 Season):
This is the week to use the Colts in your Survival Pool. If the Jets can give up 300
yards passing and 150 yards rushing and still win in Buffalo, imagine what Peyton
Manning can do against them. No way do the Jets score 28 points against the Colts.
And even if they do, the Colts can march down the field and score at least one more
point than them.


Michael’s Picks

3 - (1-2) - Not doing to well with my third pick, so ignore this one. Atlanta over Arizona. I try to avoid teams coming off a Monday night game, but the Falcons are alot better than they looked against the charged-up Saints. If rookie Matt Leinart gets in the game for Arizona, I expect the Atlanta defense to give him a tough introduction to the NFL.

2 - (3-0) - Colts over the Jets - I really think this should be a safe pick, but there are other times the Colts look like a juicy pick, perhaps as early as Week 5 against the Titans.

1 - (3-0) - Dallas over Tennessee -
My top pick last week was against the Titans (Miami). I see a trend I'm getting into. They are a struggling team while the Cowboys are coming off a bye week. Along with Week 6 against Houston, this is going to be one of the Cowboys' best chances to be used.

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.