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The Stategist

As many of you know, there is a group of Footballguys, myself included, that take great pleasure in the use of statistical analysis as a means to succeed in fantasy football. Traditionally, we do much of our work leading up to the draft, using historical trends analysis and number crunching to help fine tune our annual projections for players and teams. But statistical analysis can, when used in conjunction with logical reasoning and sound football acumen, be useful during the season, as well. With that in mind, I will attempt to address some relevant in-season issues each and every week, with a statistical slant of course…


Holiday Cheers & Jeers…

It's Week 16 and fantasy seasons are sadly coming to a close. I'm sure I speak for all my fellow Footballguys when I say that it's my sincere hope you're still playing this weekend, as that likely implies you're in your league's championship game.

By now, there's not much strategizing left…you go with your top dogs and hope they don't disappoint in the most critical of weeks. To those of you chasing a title, best of luck. To those who are done for the season, better luck next year.

So with the holidays quickly upon us, I thought this week would be as good a time as any to dish out some Cheers & Jeers. Late December is a time for reflection, right?

Cheers to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady…

Two of the favorites for league MVP, Manning and Brady have both been excellent this year.

Manning, after looking like Jim Sorgi through the first month, now stands at 28 TDs and 10 INTs through 14 weeks. He's 2nd in the league in TD passes, and seems a virtual lock for his second consecutive 30-TD season. If Manning wins the MVP award [entirely possible given the Colts fantastic record], he would join Brett Favre as the only 3-time winner.

Brady, who has had the reputation of being a better NFL QB than fantasy passer, has changed that perception this year. Through Week 15, Brady is 2nd only to Carson Palmer in fantasy points and leads the league with 3,888 yards. With a decimated defense and a hobble Corey Dillon, this could arguably be his most impressive regular season. But as we know, Brady's legend has been [and will continue to be] made in the postseason.

Cheers to current state of the quarterback position…

It seems just a few years ago NFL pundits were lamenting the lack of viable NFL franchise QBs, those who could take the mantle from aging veterans like Elway, Young, Marino and Favre. Well, aside from Brady and Manning [28 and 29 years old, respectively], the QB position has experienced a renaissance of late…

  • Carson Palmer, Cincinnati [25 years old]
  • Drew Brees, San Diego [26 years old]
  • Eli Manning, New York Giants [24 years old]
  • Michael Vick, Atlanta [25 years old]
  • Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh [23 years old]
  • Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville [25 years old]

Jeers to an injury-riddle season for preseason QB favorites…

Marc Bulger, Daunte Culpepper & Donovan McNabb were consensus top 5 fantasy QBs this preseason and all fell prey to significant injuries this year.

Jeers to an unfitting final chapter in Brett Favre's career…

Brett Favre, the league's only 3-time MVP, deserves to go out better than this. Granted, Favre may [and probably will] come back next year but that doesn't change the fact that 2005 has been one of his most disappointing on many levels. From an NFL perspective, his team is 3-11, the second worst record in the NFC. His personal standard of excellence is in serious jeopardy as well as he's thrown only 19 TD passes through 14 weeks while throwing a league high 24 interceptions. Barring an exemplary final two weeks, Favre stands to finish outside the top 10 fantasy QBs for the first time in his Packers career.

Cheers to Shaun Alexander's consistent excellence…

Say what you will about LaDainian Tomlinson being the better back, but no one has been more consistently excellent in the last five years than Shaun Alexander. Alexander has already gone over the 1,600 yard rushing and 16 TD mark this year…which is his FIFTH CONSECUTIVE season of said accomplishment.

  • No one in NFL history has accomplished the feat FOUR times [much less five]
  • Only one other RB has done it three times [Emmitt Smith]

On top of that, Alexander still has a chance to break Priest Holmes' record for most TDs in a season. He's got 24 through 14 games, and needs 4 more touchdowns to tie Holmes, five to break the record. Good luck Shaun.

Cheers to those backs who delivered this season…

We applaud you LaDainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James, Tiki Barber, Larry Johnson, Lamont Jordan, Rudi Johnson, Clinton Portis, Mike Anderson, Steven Jackson, Thomas Jones & Warrick Dunn…who delivered as much if not more than we hoped you would this season.

Jeers to those backs who fell short this season…

Priest Holmes, Ahman Green, Deuce McAllister, Willis McGahee, Kevin Jones, Julius Jones, Tatum Bell, Jamal Lewis, Curtis Martin & Fred Taylor, you came up short…some of it was beyond your control, but much of it wasn't.

Cheers to backup RBs saving our hides…

We thank you Larry Johnson…Greg Jones…Jon Wells…Willie Parker…Marion Barber…Sam Gado…

Jeers to Curtis Martin's streak ending…

Martin entered this season with 10-consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons to begin his career, a remarkable measure of ability and consistency. Unfortunately, that streak ends and also keeps Martin from tying Emmitt Smith for most 1,000 yard seasons in a career [with 11], at least for another season. If Martin never gets another 1,000 yard season, he'll finish his career alongside Barry Sanders and Walter Payton, with 10 each.

Cheers to veteran receivers proving their worth…

Marvin Harrison, Joey Galloway, Rod Smith, Keenan McCardell, Terry Glenn & Jimmy Smith are all enjoying top-20 fantasy seasons and proving that WRs can stay productive well into their 30s.

Jeers to the 'can't miss' youngsters who missed…

  • Nate Burleson [Preseason rank = 12]
  • Michael Clayton [Preseason rank = 13]
  • Andre Johnson [Preseason rank = 7]
  • Javon Walker [Preseason rank = 10]
  • Roy Williams [Preseason rank = 16]
  • Jerry Porter [Preseason rank = 23]
  • Ashley Lelie [Preseason rank = 24]

…and Cheers to those who didn't

  • Larry Fitzgerald [Ranked 4th through Week 15]
  • Anquan Boldin [Ranked 5th through Week 15]

Jeers to the 2/3rds of the "Big 3"…

T.O. and Randy Moss, this year your on-field performance most certainly did NOT make up for your considerable off-the-field flaws [Marvin Harrison, this is a salute to you at the same time].

Cheers to the smurfs…

Santana Moss, Steve Smith, where would we be without you?

Jeers to Kansas City's offensive line woes...

You cost Tony Gonzalez far too many receiving opportunities and, in turn, have him all but assured of his worst fantasy finish since he became a full time starter

Cheers to Antonio Gates' making history, yet again…

Despite sitting out Week One [due to suspension], Antonio Gates has ALREADY gone over the 1,000 yard mark, has 82 receptions, and nine receiving TDs. With one more touchdown in the final two games, Gates joins Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe and Wesley Walls as the only TEs in league history to have multiple 10+ TD seasons. Even if Gates doesn't play another down this year, his season stands as the 15th best in NFL HISTORY by a fantasy TE, and he looks like a very solid bet to finish with one of the 10-best single seasons for the second consecutive year.

I'm sure you have a litany of your own Cheers and Jeers, I would love to hear them…perhaps I'll create a thread in the Forums to foster the discussion.

Happy Holidays!


Feel free to contact me (wood@footballguys.com) if you wish to discuss this column further or share other ideas for future issues

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