Experts' Conservatism and the Anti Michael Vick Prejudice
Freelance Submission Posted 8/10 by Brett Martz, Special to Footballguys.com
I have been a Footballguys.com reader for the past three years. Unfortunately,
I have never dominated my league in that time span. In fact, in those three
years I have continually missed the playoffs, albeit by slim margins. Why continue?
Well, despite my dearth of playoff appearances, I still believe that the most
informative, well researched, and best overall fantasy football content exists
on Footballguys.com. Therefore my goal is not to discredit their very knowledgeable
staff, but merely to point out a possible tendency and relate it to Michael
Vick's status in this year's draft.
This is the tendency to be too conservative.
So what has been the problem?
Well, were I playing in a rotisserie league, my teams would have been in fine
shape. In those years of missing the playoffs, I had more overall points than
at least one (sometimes two) of the teams who actually reached the playoffs
(4 in 12). This tells me that the principles of VBD indeed work - I generally
secured good value in the draft vis-à-vis my drafting counterparts and
my overall score reflected that. Unfortunately the large majority of leagues
(including my own) operate on a head to head basis. If you are a dedicated Footballguys
reader who has had the recent misfortune of finishing with high total point
scores but 8-6 records, then I encourage you to consider capitalizing on the
anti Michael Vick prejudice that seems to have stricken the fantasy landscape
Given that fantasy football uses a head to head approach, the most important
goal is obviously to win games. Despite his absence for half of last year's
season, I imagine that Priest Holmes owners were still able to ride his early
dominating performances into an eventual playoff berth. The modus operandi of
most expert articles emphasizes maximizing value while minimizing risk. However,
it frequently seems as if they place an overdue accent on minimizing risk -
leaving one to wonder when in the world it is acceptable to select certain players.
In most cases standard Footballguys strategy would have owners waiting for high
risk/high reward players well past their respective ADPs.
In order to win games, a fantasy football squad needs studs who can explode
for major performances. Michael Vick represents precisely that type of player.
Despite the anti Michael Vick prejudice, experts still cannot help but sing
he has the potential to score multiple TDs and put up huge
rushing numbers against almost any opponent so you can't bench him."
- Clayton Gray
"Vick has a ton of ability and at times can take over a game."
- Cecil Lammey
"I actually like Michael Vick's chances for a solid fantasy year
- Marc Levin
The preceding quotes
were all contextualized in advice directed actually against drafting Michael
Vick. Yet do we not want precisely the kind of player who can basically guarantee
a win when he blows up? Well the problem has recently been his consistency -
an obvious but necessary qualifier.
The conservative bias against Michael Vick and its
usefulness for the 2005 draft
Given the recent criticism from the fantasy community, this appears to be a
great year to keep your eyes on Michael Vick during your draft. It's almost
as if sharks avoid him so they are not "that guy". According to David
Dodds, part of fantasy success is to understand what the average guy thinks,
but it's also useful to know what sharks think too - and Vick is the farthest
thing from chum in their worlds.
When the aforementioned article on overvalued quarterbacks was published, Vick's
ADP was a lofty QB4. I would not touch him there either. However, enough qualified
opinions have caused that to plummet. In fact, Michael Vick criticism or skepticism
seems like an obligatory trait for many experts. My following article will use
the current ranking for Vick as provided by Antsports. Using a "12 Team,
HP, Normal lineup TE required" as a set of parameters, Vick now appears
to going on average as the 7th or 8th best QB off the board, somewhere in the
6th round - still a little generous but worth considering. Given the range of
talent and drafting tendencies for this year, that slide could potentially be
fortuitous for the owner willing to take the risk.
If you are an avid Footballguy, then you most likely have gone to war with
the likes of Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, Rich Gannon, Brian Griese, Chad Pennington,
or Tom Brady. Tom Brady is the poster child for the typical Footballguys QB:
consistent but rarely amazing. In fact, if you followed last year's outline
Perfect Draft", Brady was the best, first available QB for the
appropriate time to start drafting a QB (the 7th round). Therefore I will briefly
use him for some comparisons based on a scoring system similar to FBG (1 pt
per 20 passing yards, 4 pts per passing TD, 1 pt per 10 rushing yards, 6 pts
per rushing TD, -2 for turnovers). I'm going to throw out weeks 15 and 16, since
this article was inspired by my having missed the playoffs despite high overall
point totals, and of course, those weeks usually represent those playoffs. Moreover,
Vick did not perform in week 16 anyway, while making a spot appearance in week
If we denote scores above 20 as swing efforts and those below 10 as causes
for loss, then as expected, Vick shows up multiple times in both categories.
This particular fact has already been mentioned
by Chase Stuart. If we compare him to Brady, he helped fantasy teams win games
five times (weeks 2, 6, 8, 11, 14) compared to three such performances from
Brady (weeks 1, 3, 13). However in only two games did Brady turn in detrimental
performances (weeks 4, 11), while Vick was the bane of fantasy teams in four
appearances (weeks 3, 5, 7, 11). In some games he was truly awful. There were
two other weeks (4 and 13) where he probably required support from the rest
of your squad. By most accounts Vick truly did have a substandard year last
year, and he represented miserable value for his ADP, which was somewhere in
the 3rd or 4th round. Teams who waited and rostered Brady were definitely better
off. Nonetheless Vick still most likely propelled fantasy teams to at least
5 wins, despite his problems, while Brady only likely provided the points to
swing 3 wins. The major difference this year seems to be that Vick is only going
about a round earlier than Brady in most drafts, making his potential much more
The Michael Vick Experience: Admission Fee
It was not too long ago (2002) that Michael Vick recorded a top 5 fantasy QB
season. That earned him an ADP somewhere in the first round of the following
year's fantasy draft (2003). A preseason injury ruined his prospects for that
year, and in the next year (2004, i.e. last year), his ADP slipped, but he still
failed to put up stats commensurate with that draft position.
He is now not only more than a full season removed from that injury, but he
also benefits from the experience of having worked under Knapp and Mora Jr for
an entire year. Add to that the acquisition of Roddy White, a slightly more
seasoned Michael Jenkins, and Vick's own vows to perform at a high level, and
his prospects seem more intriguing. Of course, they're always intriguing. The
buzz and controversy surrounding him outweighs that of any other fantasy player,
yet I find it hard to project worse numbers for his upcoming season. So, if
there's any year to actually take a gamble on Vick, this might be it. Moreover
and perhaps more importantly, one need not deviate too far from the cautious
blueprint usually outlined by David Dodds in his perfect draft articles.
Now that Michael Vick comes a little bit cheaper, we can still execute the
standard game plan of grabbing 2-3 stud RBs along with 1-2 solid WRs in the
first four rounds. Fine. The case for grabbing Vick in the late 5th or somewhere
in the 6th round can first be grounded in the fact that this year's WR crop
seems particularly fuzzy. By the round we possibly are targeting Vick, the receivers
available are of the Drew Bennett, Isaac Bruce, Jimmy Smith variety, but if
there is a consistent lesson to be learned in drafts, it's that value can be
had at WR late in guys such as Eddie Kennison, Keary Colbert, or Brandon Lloyd
among others. Is it seriously that safe to assume that Nate Burleson will be
the man in Minnesota or that Booker and Boston can be easily written off in
Miami? No. This year's WR group has a lot of question marks surrounding its
higher draftees in my opinion. In any case when it comes to WRs "Wait for
value to emerge - it always does," maintains Mr. Dodds.
Additionally, the TE crop appears stronger than in recent years with addition
of Antonio Gates to the elite, and the expansion of the highly effective class
through Dallas Clark, Todd Heap, Jeremy Shockey, and Alge Crumpler. Even if
you wait longer, decent options pop up in L. J. Smith, Randy McMichael, Jason
Witten, and Eric Johnson. That seems like enough to me for a twelve team league.
The case only gets stronger when we scrutinize the caliber of RBs being selected
near Vick; names like Kevan Barlow, Lee Suggs, and Travis Henry. If we pretend
that Vick is an RB, which doesn't require us to stretch our imaginations too
far, then his upside clearly makes him a better choice than any of those other
possibilities. Actually, his rushing totals could even surpass those of the
RBs being selected near him.
Finally, as always, value can still be had later in the draft for the QB position,
should the Michael Vick experiment blow up in our collective faces. Just like
any other year, players like Carson Palmer, Aaron Brooks, Jake Delhomme, Chad
Pennington, and Brian Griese could be available with very attractive ADP price
tags while still being fully capable of performing as a QB1. So what's different?
Well instead of selecting a WR in round 5 or 6 who might possibly perform worse
than a player selected 4-5 rounds after him given the murky WR talent pool this
year, you are nabbing a tremendous athlete with the potential to finish top
5 at his position. You also have attractive trade bait. I doubt that the ticket
for the Michael Vick experience will ever come any cheaper than it is for this
year's draft, and if he falls to the late 5th or 6th round, I suggest you consider
taking the ride. Let the rest of your conservative Footballguys strategy field
you an otherwise solid team and allow Vick's dominating performances to guarantee
you a few Ws.
This piece was written without any personal affinity for Michael Vick. Firstly,
I'm an Eagles fan who hopes the Falcons crash and burn. Secondly, I am a graduate
student at the University of Virginia and therefore harbor no love for any Hokie,
former or current.