This article is the second of a series devoted to the “art” of winning fantasy football. Fantasy success is part art, part science. However, the “science” element–data, information, statistics, reports–has become increasingly easy to acquire, organize, and validate. Even modest preparation affords an owner “data parity” with the most experienced and prepared owners in the league. To create and maintain a competitive edge, therefore, requires emphasis on the “art” element of fantasy success. Judgment, creativity, and at times intuition are more pivotal than ever in establishing fantasy success.
My prior article focused on the “replicator” theory for dynasty leagues. This piece introduces the “lump of coal” concept, applicable to all leagues but especially useful in redraft formats. Using the “lump of coal” concept, we apply art to our data (i.e., the “science”) and turn that lump of coal into a fantasy diamond.
One can find lumps of coal across the fantasy landscape. Lucrative areas include players out of favor either publicly, with the NFL, or with their own teams. Likewise, scouring the fantasy experts’ “bust lists” often can yield lumps of fantasy coal that can be shaped into those fantasy diamonds. Remember, a bust is only a bust if you paid too much for the player relative to the value he ultimately produces.
Two lumps of coal we will focus upon today are current Pittsburgh Steeler Ben Roethlisberger and former Steeler and current Jet Santonio Holmes. The NFL has confirmed that Roethlisberger will miss four games to start the season, as will Holmes. Each therefore will be available for seventy-five percent of the year. (Admittedly, this includes Week 17, when many fantasy leagues do not even compete. However, many leagues do compete that week, and for purposes of this analysis, we will include Week 17.)
Last season, Roethlisberger passed for a hefty 4,676 yards, threw for 26 touchdowns, and ran for a couple more. Extrapolating those statistics over his suspension shortened 2010 suggests Ben still may throw for 3,500+ yards and 19 or 20 touchdowns. These statistics are comparable to those of Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, or Donovan McNabb for all of 2009 and they are superior to the 2009 statistics of Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, and a host of other quarterbacks.
Yet, Roethlisberger is going significantly behind many of those guys, especially Flacco, McNabb, Palmer, and Ryan in most drafts. This may be because until this week it was unclear whether Ben might face a six game rather than four game suspension. However, as many of your competitors might simply consult average draft position data (i.e., the “science”) without factoring in Roethlisberger’s reduced suspension or his comparative value, Ben might prove to be a significant value. Indeed, this Thursday, I acquired Roethlisberger in the 14th round of a ten-team, 16 round draft league. Roethlisberger was picked long after quarterbacks like McNabb, Ryan, Palmer, Orton, Stafford, and Flacco, yet he has the potential to add similar value. By picking Ben late as a QB2, we were able to build depth at WR and RB.
Turning now to Roethlisberger’s pitch-and-catch mate from last year, Santonio Holmes, we find a WR who, in 2009, put up 1,248 receiving yards and five TDs. Holmes too will miss four games and has changed teams (more on this in a moment); however, his extrapolated statistics suggest 936 yards and four TDs. Holmes’ ADP currently places him significantly behind players such as Steve Breaston, Johnny Knox, Dez Bryant, and even the injured Sidney Rice. Holmes seems to project significant value as an end-of-season and fantasy playoff star, who can be drafted with WR3s and WR4s yet produce like a WR2 when he starts playing.
Yes, Holmes has changed teams. He no longer will have the experienced Roethlisberger throwing him the ball, and he will likewise play wide receiver in the Jets’ clearly run-dominant offense. However, last year that same offense featuring a rookie quarterback in Mark Sanchez allowed Braylon Edwards to generate 680 yards and four TDs, and Jerricho Cotchery to put up 821 yards and four TDs. Significantly, Cotchery missed two games (in addition to the bye week), while Edwards missed one. Factoring in this missed time, the Jets’ offense appears to have enough passing oomph for Holmes to approach 900+ yards and four TDs, albeit at the expense of Edwards and/or Cotchery. Keep in mind, the Jets knew what they had in Cotchery and Edwards, knew what they were getting in Holmes, and moved forward. It appears that Holmes is in New York to be “the man” in the Jets passing game. The savvy owner who acquires Holmes 90 to 100 picks into his draft (or who trades lesser-acquired talent for him later) likely will be rewarded handsomely.
Scott Rozmus is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Scott in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Goose.
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!