Martin Mayhew Thinks Matthew Stafford Was the Problem (and other absurdities)

Recently I was able to interview embattled Detroit GM Martin Mayhew. Here’s what he had to say.

Me: Thanks for meeting with me.

Martin: Always happy to talk with Lions fans and explain some of our baffling decisions.

Me: Good hire with Jim Caldwell.

Martin: Thanks, Tony Dungy recommended him highly.

Me: You didn’t vet him yourself?

Martin: Well, there’s only so much you can learn from a person’s track record when they got to coach Peyton Manning.

Me: You could learn that when he wasn’t coaching Manning his team earned the No. 1 overall pick.

Martin: Yeah, but that team Bill Polian put together wasn’t much without Peyton. Hardly his fault.

Me: Kind of like your team without Megatron.

Martin: Pardon?

Me: Calvin Johnson.

Martin: I know who you’re referring to.

Me: Oh, I thought the other part was obvious. You were humiliated in the two games last year where he didn’t play.

Martin: One of those games was close.

Me: It was against the Vikings.

Martin: Any given Sunday.

Me: Without Adrian Peterson.

Martin: There’s no such thing as an easy NFL game.

Me: A day before they fired everybody.

Martin: I know who the Vikings are.

Me: Sorry, didn’t mean to digress. Who drafted Megatron by the way?

Martin: We did.

Me: You mean Matt Millen.

Martin: It was a group decision. Millen wanted Jamarcus but he was already gone.

Me: That’s a good response. I’d go with that next year when you’re interviewing with the Dolphins. Okay, so I read a piece on MLive recently where you say Matthew Stafford was the problem.

Martin: Not exactly. Just that he needs to be better.

Me: You said, and I quote, “There has to be some work done.” I take it you’re not a Harry Truman fan.

Martin: We always want to get better. There’s always more work to do.

Me: And then you say, “But it’s not all on Matthew. There are a lot of moving pieces in that. I’ve been in contact with him several times since the end of the season and he seems pretty confident to me.” As a Lions fan, it’s a relief to know it’s not all on our franchise quarterback who threw for 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns at the age of 23.

Continue reading

Winning $250K and Riding Off Into the Friscalating Dusklight

“Vámonos, amigos,” he whispered, and threw the busted leather flintcraw over the loose weave of the saddlecock. And they rode on in the friscalating dusklight. – Eli Cash, The Royal Tenenbaums. 

At the end of the regular season, I brought you a recap of our performance in the NFFC Main Events. We placed two of our four teams in the Classic’s regular season Top 10. Unfortunately, both of those teams were led by Calvin Johnson. They faded in the playoffs.

On the bright side, we also placed seven of our Primetime teams in the Top 30. That gave us quite a few shots at the $150,000 Grand Prize. If you’ve been following along on RotoViz, you probably know Banana Stand co-owner Tyson Siegele and I were lucky enough to finish first overall. Due to great good fortune, we also ended up in second place by a mere 0.9 points. Including the various regular season prizes, we crested the $200,000 level and now have pushed our career winnings in the NFFC over the quarter million dollar mark.

It was a bizarre playoff stretch with many elite players disappearing and a few monstrous performances whittling down the types of rosters that could theoretically win the title. The teams that finished 1-2 were our third and seventh best during the regular season. The key ingredient, not surprisingly, was the best running back in the NFL: Jamaal Charles.

Here’s a look at the drafts for these two teams. Terms of Enrampagement won most points and best record during the regular season and finished No. 1 overall.

Friscalating Dusklight won most points. By virtue of finishing No. 2 overall, it was also able to win its league playoff against the team that posted the best regular season record. Playoff starters are in bold. Continue reading

Pai Mei, Zero RB, and the NFFC – A 2013 Report Card

Editor’s Note: This looks at the Banana Stand results through the regular season and isn’t updated for the Gronk injury, for example.

I write a lot of stuff for RotoViz and Pro Football Focus that’s pretty far out of the mainstream. When someone sounds like a crackpot, the most likely explanation is that they are, in fact, a crackpot. I hope that isn’t the case.

Ideas are valuable in their own right – even if they prove unfounded. Most innovations begin with a trial-and-error process that is heavy on the error. But the value of ideas passed off as fact should be judged by whether or not those ideas work. In order to test my ideas, I like to play high stakes fantasy football. If the value of things like the Agility Score, Vision Yards, Dominator Rating, Height-adjusted Speed Score, and Zero RB can be found in their application to reality and fantasy pursuits, then the proof should be in the pudding. If the Sim Scores developed by RotoViz creator Frank DuPont provide a competitive advantage and the advanced stats generated by PFF’s game charters hold a special insight, then someone using those tools ought to be able to produce some decent results.

This is my report card.

The Contest

I play high stakes with my brother and Banana Stand co-owner, Tyson Siegele. Our format of choice is the National Fantasy Football Championship, a contest run by Tom Kessenich and Greg Ambrose. NFFC innovations include Third Round Reversal, KDS draft positions, and the strongest playoff format in the industry. Because of the strength of the format, it’s populated by many of the best fantasy football players in the world, including guys like Chad Schroeder, Jared Danielson, Tom Yates, Glenn Schroter, Michael Edelman, David Hughes, and many, many more.

This season we entered 14 Main Events, four in the Classic (the world’s premier 14-team format) and 10 in the Primetime. In each individual league, the top three teams advance to the playoffs. If a team finishes with the best record and most points through 13 weeks, that team finishes first and the next two teams in points finish second and third. If two teams split record and points, those teams face a three-week playoff for the title that runs concurrently to the Grand Prize portion of the contest.

The Classic has 280 total teams and a $100,000 grand prize. The Primetime sports 432 teams and a $150,000 grand prize. It seems vanishingly unlikely that anyone could win both, but, if accomplished, that triggers a $75,000 bonus for a cool $325,000.

This is how our teams performed.

NFFC Classic

5 Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique – Most Points/Best Record, No. 3 Finish Overall

QB: Jay Cutler/Josh McCown, Ryan Tannehill

RB: Le’Veon Bell, Pierre Thomas

WR: Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffery, Pierre Garcon, Jordy Nelson

TE: Jimmy Graham, Charles Clay

This is one of the two teams I wrote about for RotoViz in Zero RB, Antifragility, and the Myth of Value-Based Drafting. The three top-rated players on my board this season were Calvin Johnson, Jamaal Charles, and Jimmy Graham. My preferred strategy was to pair Megatron and Graham every time that opportunity presented itself.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Le’Veon Bell, especially since he was injured when I drafted him, but I have great faith in my Agility Score model and he finished as far and away the top runner in  Ryan Rouillard’s breakthrough running back evaluation model. I felt he represented a steal in the reality draft and a good value once his injury knocked him into the sixth round of fantasy formats.

Alshon Jeffery was the one player I tried to target for every team. It’s worth repeating again. Jeffery was the best SEC receiver in 2010 despite the presence of A.J. Green and Julio Jones. I’d challenge anyone to check out his stats, watch the video of his second touchdown catch against Minnesota, and not admit it’s possible he ends up as the best NFL receiver of the three. Continue reading

Don’t Finish 3rd – Use RotoViz RB Cheat Sheet

Archer: I forgot you won the Olympic gold medal in men’s downhill.
Gillette: Well, ass, it was giant shalom and I only took bronze.
Archer: So? You lost?
Gillette: I came in third.
Archer: Which is last.
Gillette: Which is third…
Archer: Last.
Gillette: In the world.
Archer: You lost. Geeze, get over it.


A lot more drafts coming up this weekend. If you haven’t already, I recommend signing up for PFF’s Going Deep. It’s the best game out there. Recently a bunch of industry heavyweights participated in a mock draft, and I have the breakdown in true contrarian style. Part 1 looks at Rounds 1-9, and Part 2 examines 10-18. Since you have to start 13 players in this format, figuring out a good approach to those late rounds is just as important.

Going Deep is probably best approached with a triple-RB strategy, or RB-RB-RB. If you go after your draft that way, it’s crucial to build in as much safety and upside as possible. Yesterday, I used the RotoViz RB Custom Cheat Sheet to project the Top 45 runners (rookies excluded). Ray Rice, Alfred Morris, and DeMarco Murray appeared to be very underrated options, while Adrian Peterson’s projection again trailed the RB1 pack.

And now a quick reminder of previous content…

Of course, if you don’t like projections based on what actually happened last year, RotoViz has another solution. They also have a RB Sim Score Lab where you can create your own hypothetical runner.  I recently used this tool to create complete projections for the Top 50 runners.

Part 1 RB1-RB20: In something of a shocker, Trent Richardson finished No. 1. I’d expect you to immediately move Cerberus to the top of your board, but if you check out the article and the methodology, I think you’ll find yourself a lot more willing to use a mid-first round pick on him. (And be excited to pounce if he falls toward the end of the round.) Jamaal CharlesDoug Martin, and C.J. Spiller all perform very well, while Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster struggle a little.

Part 2 RB21-50Lamar Miller leads this group, although he would have placed even higher if I hadn’t broken the players into two groups by current ADP. He’s joined near the top by David Wilson, or the World Turtle, as I like to call him. In this section we see players high profile and contentious players like Ryan MathewsChris Ivory, and Mark Ingram.

As a quick reminder, my two most popular posts on RotoViz continue to be Cecil Shorts, Stevie Johnson, and the 10 Most Undervalued Players, and Ryan Mathews, Jacquizz Rodgers, and How to Lose a Fantasy League in 10 Picks. Check them out on your way to a title.

Follow the Banana Stand on Twitter.

If you’d like to support the Banana Stand and simultaneously purchase the service that helped us win the 2013 NFFC Primetime Championship, please subscribe to RotoViz through our site. We receive half of the proceeds and you get the best fantasy information on the planet. Alternatively, if you want to support the site by doing something you’re almost certainly going to do anyway, consider making your Amazon purchases through our link at the top right. You get exactly the same price, and we make a tiny percentage that could help us keep the site alive. (I also strongly recommend the listed fantasy football books written by friends of the site.) To those who have been Banana Stand readers from the start, thank you. Your enthusiasm has helped us make it this far, and hopefully this is just the beginning.


PFF Fanium Draft – Rounds 5 through 8

If you haven’t already, check out the first four rounds of the PFF Fanium Draft. My philosophy at the Banana Stand is to provide content with content, but sometimes that means pointing you in the direction of the actionable info craved by true football fans (and fans of dominating fantasy leagues). In this piece I’m giving you a quick snapshot of how the PFF writers approached the Fanium format and links to ridiculously deep content on the players involved.

Round 5

41. Vernon Davis – Jonathan Bales does an excellent job covering Davis’ prospects in The Tight End Volatility Rankings.

42. Sam Bradford – This is a Bryan Fontaine special and shouldn’t be surprising since PFF’s reigning dynasty champion thinks the Rams signal caller could throw for 50 touchdowns. I am much more skeptical of his chances. (For those new to the format, keep in mind that this is an ultra-QB-heavy league.)

43. Reggie Wayne – Wayne’s efficiency is collapsing.

44. Marques Colston – Colston is a RotoViz favorite who projects better even than Julio Jones and A.J. Green.

45. Pierre Garcon – A pure lottery pick, Garcon was up with Andre Johnson in yards per route.

46. Steven Jackson – Jackson’s outlook in St. Louis makes him a Matthew Freedman pick for fantasy MVP. I’m worried that S-Jax has appeared visibly slower the last several years and could barely change direction at all in the first preseason game.

47. Vincent JacksonThe most underrated player in fantasy?

48. Reggie Bush – Another Freedman special, I’m moving higher on Bush than Jackson.

Round 6

49. Danny AmendolaWelker 2.0 might be my favorite player for PFF’s unbelievably cool contest, Going Deep.

50. Maurice Jones-Drew – Varoon Bose and J.J. Zachariason weigh in on MJD.

51. Kyle Rudolph – Rudolph is one of the 10 Most Overrated Players in fantasy. I expect him to finish outside the Top 15 tight ends.

52. Dwayne Bowe – Davis Mattek points out how the Andy Reid teams like to spread the ball around. This is a legitimate concern, but I think Bowe in his prime is the second best wide receiver to ever play for Reid.

53. Wes Welker – Another player who would have to hit his absolute ceiling to return value at his ADP, Welker is an example of a player even the experts are missing badly on.

54. Jordy Nelson – If you haven’t read Jon Moore’s take on Jordy Nelson, you could be missing a golden opportunity for value. Get him now while he has a double injury discount.

55. Jermichael Finley – Ridiculously under the radar, Finley’s ADP represents an obvious and easily playable inefficiency.

56. Stevan RidleyRidley is the RB2 on my All-Trap Team. (If there’s a takeaway from Week 1 of the preseason it’s that everyone is going to look awesome against Philadelphia.)

Round 7

57. Darren SprolesSproles came in No. 33 in my RB rankings, which is probably too low. But that’s the beauty of Sim Scores. They tend to see things we can’t.

58. Torrey Smith – Bryan Fontaine is all Torrey Smith all the time.

59. Hakeem Nicks – I’m starting to feel like Nicks will either be dominant or worthless. He’s a difficult fit in a league where the cost to also own Rueben Randle is pretty steep.

60. Ben Roethlisberger – I’m expecting a massive season from Big Ben, but also check out his schedule concerns.

61. Eric DeckerNo. 3 on my Undervalued List, Decker could be this year’s James Jones (but, you know, also be a decent all around receiver).

62. Owen Daniels – I’m high on Daniels because Matt Schaub is going to make everybody remember 2009 while DeAndre Hopkins opens the field for the underrated tight end.

63. Darren McFaddenInjury-prone runners see their stocks crushed in this format.

64. Steve Smith – Could Smith be undervalued because of his potential role in the slot?

Round 8

65. DeMarco Murray – If you’re about to start a Fanium draft, consider how far the runners are falling. But there’s no format in which a potential post-hype superstar should be immediately followed by Cook, Wallace, and Eli.

66. Jared Cook – I’ve broken down the Bradford/Cook lovefest and suggested both players are individually overrated and a trap tandem. I’ve also updated that analysis to move into the neutral camp on Cook.

67. Mike Wallace – The arrow has always been pointing down on Wallace and now it’s fallen on the floor.

68. Eli Manning – This is the perfect year for Late Round QB, but there are still dangers. Eli is the perfect example of how not to play LRQB.

Okay, you get the idea. I had a blast with the Fanium draft. Moreover, you can use the same tools to crush your opponents in this novel format as you can in more traditional leagues. If you haven’t purchased the PFF Draft Guide and subscribed to Fantasy Gold, you’re going to miss out on features from award-winning writers along with reel upon reel of advanced stats that simply don’t exist anywhere else. If you aren’t on RotoViz taking advantage of the apps, well, your competitors are and when you meet them on the field of play or on the computer or in the box score . . .

You can now also follow and/or heckle the Banana Stand on twitter. No word yet on when the first actual tweet will occur. But it’s coming.

Shawn Siegele has finished in the Top 10 of the NFFC’s Main Event Classic for two consecutive seasons and is one of only a handful of players to own three or more Main Event league titles. He also contributes to Rotoviz and works as Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

An Awesome New Format/Platform – Fanium Draft Results

I’m currently involved in a drafting an 8-team league through Fanium – download the app at Google Play/itunes – with a novel scoring and roster approach. It’s 2-QB, 2-RB, 4-WR, 2-TE and the points are essentially doubled for running and receiving yards.

This is a PFF staff draft, and the results have been fascinating in the early going. I’ll try to keep you updated as we go along. (Update: In my hurry to get the picks out Wednesday afternoon, I skipped a portion of Round 3. Be sure to note who was selected in that area if you’re interested.)

Picks 37, 38, and 39 are in.

Round 1

1. Jeff Ratcliffe - Adrian Peterson.

My thoughts: This is a decent format for Peterson, but I still think he shouldn’t be a Top 5 pick. For a full breakdown of Peterson’s prospects, try Weird Science: Breaking Down the Strange Projection for Purple Jesus.

2. Ross Miles - Jamaal Charles

My thoughts: Charles ranks No. 3 on my running back board and is a candidate to break the single-season yards from scrimmage record.

3. Alex Miglio - Calvin Johnson

My thoughts: Megatron is the poster boy for Why Cheaper Isn’t Necessarily Better. He would have probably been my choice at No. 1.

4. Banana Stand - Jimmy Graham

My thoughts: Leagues with fewer than 12 teams become increasingly BPA. This is a very TE-heavy format, and Graham is the one player who has no peer at his position.

5. Scott Spratt - Aaron Rodgers

My thoughts: Quarterbacks have been going very late in PFF mocks, but Rodgers looks better in 2-QB formats. He’s the No. 1 player in my QB Safety Rankings and a guy I’d build my strategy around.

6. Kevin Greenstein - Arian Foster

My thoughts: I have Foster as my No. 6 runner, and I’d be nervous selecting him early with the injury issues.

7. Bryan Fontaine - Doug Martin

My thoughts: Martin is the clear No. 1 in most formats – if not necessarily this one – and the headliner for my fancifully titled Eternal Sunshine post.

8. Mike Clay - Drew Brees

My thoughts: I’m avoiding Brees this season. He may be the ringleader of the Great QB Conspiracy.

Round 2

9. Mike Clay - Brandon Marshall

My thoughts: Marshall clipped Calvin Johnson for No. 1 in my most recent WR projections. He should be one of the top four players in this format and represents quite a bargain here.

10. Bryan Fontaine - LeSean McCoy

My thoughts: McCoy is the RB1 on my All-Trap Team. Bryan is a big C.J. Spiller fan, so this was an upset pick.

11. Kevin Greenstein - Cam Newton

My thoughts: No format has ever been as favorable for rushing QBs as this one. Newton seems like the biggest early round value at QB.

12. Scott Spratt - Ray Rice

My thoughts: Reports of Rice‘s demise are greatly exaggerated. This was a very safe pick.

13. Banana Stand - C.J. Spiller

My thoughts: Spiller was the other guy I was considering at No. 4. I didn’t think there was any chance he would come back around.

14. Alex Miglio - Peyton Manning

My thoughts: Manning also stars on my Trap Team. I think you need rushing yards to select a QB this high.

15. Ross Miles - Robert Griffin III

My thoughts: RG3 may be the best player in football by year’s end.

16. Jeff Ratcliffe - Tom Brady

My thoughts: This league penalizes -3 for INTs, so Brady appears to be a good fit. Unfortunately, both Matt Schaub and Philip Rivers had better PFF passer ratings than Brady a year ago.

Round 3

17. Jeff Ratcliffe - Rob Gronkowski

My thoughts: I selected Gronk with my second round pick in the RDL. If healthy, he would be the No. 1 player in this format.

18. Ross Miles - Colin Kaepernick

My thoughts: Kaepernick is one of only three players from the QB1 tier whom I recommend building around. He’s a superstar and perfect fit for this run-heavy system. He might be the pick of the draft so far.

19. Alex Miglio - A.J. Green

My thoughts: Green is probably a little overvalued this season, but Alex is putting together an elite WR lineup. Megatron-Green is the perfect 1-2 for a 4-WR league.

20. Banana Stand - Trent Richardson

My thoughts: Richardson was the No. 1 running back in my recent projections for RotoViz (using the groundbreaking RB Sim Score Lab). I wanted to select a wide receiver here, but Cerberus was simply too good to pass up.

21. Scott Spratt - Marshawn Lynch

My thoughts: Lynch often comes in so low on my board that I forget to even include his projection. But I’ve been wrong on Skittles before.

22. Kevin Greenstein - Dez Bryant

My thoughts: Bryant was selected No. 3 overall in the RotoViz Dynasty Startup. He has gigantic upside in this format.

23. Bryan Fontaine - Demaryius Thomas

My thoughts: Demaryius Thomas was the linchpin for my successful NFFC teams from last year and I like him to improve slightly on those numbers. Charles Kleinheksel loves him as well and has written this excellent profile for RotoViz.

24. Mike Clay - Russell Wilson

My thoughts: Wilson was one of only three QB1 candidates who is not a part of the Great QB Conspiracy. He’s perfect for this format.

Round 4

25. Mike Clay - Jason Witten

My thoughts: Witten would have been my pick if he’d lasted. Tight end is a lot shallower than quarterback.

26. Bryan Fontaine - Julio Jones

My thoughts: Jones is a player whose value is heavily dependent on format. I selected him in the first round of the RDL, but also feature him as an example of How To Lose a Fantasy League in 10 Picks. He’s a good fit for this league.

27. Kevin Greenstein - Matt Ryan

My thoughts: Ryan is the QB I contrasted with Aaron Rodgers in Why Cheaper Isn’t Always Better. (He’s a strong early candidate for 2013 Player I’m Completely Wrong About.)

28. Scott Spratt - Matthew Stafford

My thoughts: Stafford is my favorite reality quarterback but not a good redraft value. There are a lot of reasons to believe he’ll underperform 2012 instead of bouncing back.

29. Banana Stand - Andre Johnson

My thoughts: Andre1500 ranks No. 6 on my list of the 10 Most Undervalued Players. I’ve recently soured on him a little, but he’s the perfect WR1 in a yardage-heavy league.

30. Alex Miglio - Tony Romo

My thoughts: Romo is one of my favorites this season. He’s No. 8 in the QB Safety Rankings, making him a discount here (at least relative to where the other quarterbacks have been selected).

31. Ross Miles - Roddy White

My thoughts: Roddy White shockingly came in at No. 3 in my complete projections of the Top 40 WRs. I wouldn’t select him quite that high, but he’s a value here.

32. Jeff Ratcliffe - Andrew Luck

My thoughts: Luck ranks No. 20 in the QB Safety Ratings. That doesn’t mean he can’t win fantasy titles, just that he’s an incredibly risky pick. After you’ve read Davis Mattek’s breakdown of the Pep Hamilton offense, you probably won’t be enthusiastic about Luck’s prospects.

 Round 5

33. Jeff Ratcliffe - Larry Fitzgerald

My thoughts: Fitzgerald should be able to accomplish everything Reggie Wayne managed last year and more. (For an important contrary take, check out Mattek’s exhaustive look at Fitzgerald’s prospects.)

34. Ross Miles - Tony Gonzalez

My thoughts: The creator of the Iron Throne league is having a great draft. I suggested Gonzalez was overrated in my breakdown of the Going Deep Expert Mock, but he’s a good value here.

35. Alex Miglio - Chris Johnson

My thoughts: Chris Johnson could very easily be the best value in 2013 fantasy leagues. Based on a handful of surprising advanced splits, I like him to have a massive bounceback season. Choosing between CJ2K and Julio Jones will be the key decision in many drafts this fall.

36. Banana StandAlfred Morris

My thoughts: This is a controversial selection since I’m drafting a bench player with my fifth pick even though I need six more starters. But I’m fond of drafting unbalanced lineups and rostering three of the Top 10 runners should be valuable even in a 2-RB system. I won’t have to worry about bye weeks or hold my breath every time Spiller or Richardson tweaks something. There’s nothing to distinguish the next 50 players at my positions of need, so I won’t fall victim to runs by reaching.

Moreover, I’ve spilled more virtual ink writing about Alfred Morris than any other player this offseason. He’s going to be the next Terrell Davis and ranks among the 10 Most Undervalued fantasy players in the NFL. Almost all reports out of Washington suggest 2012 was only the beginning.

37. Scott Spratt - Victor Cruz

My thoughts: Cruz had an other quietly superb season in 2012 and is probably undervalued this season.

38. Kevin Greenstein - Matt Forte

My thoughts: Runners continue to be incredibly devalued in this format. I have Forte ahead of LeSean McCoy – who went No. 10 overall – at least in part due to Kleinheksel’s superb research.

39. Bryan Fontaine - Greg Olsen

My thoughts: Olsen is a RotoViz favorite, but I’m not sure he separates much from the next pack of tight end targets.

40. Mike Clay - Randle Cobb

My thoughts: Cobb is a player I’m selling at his ADP, but he’s a high floor guy who won’t cost you a title even if he doesn’t carry you.

To Be Continued . . .

Shawn Siegele has finished in the Top 10 of the NFFC’s Main Event Classic for two consecutive seasons and is one of only a handful of players to own three or more Main Event league titles. He also contributes to Rotoviz and works as Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

Official Money in the Banana Stand Draft Guide

There really isn’t an official guide, but at this point I’ve covered almost every angle for RotoViz. If you subscribe to RV, you’ll get my take on virtually every player for 2013 and have access to the great Apps besides.

Here are my most popular posts on the fledgling superpower.

1. Stevie Johnson, Cecil Shorts, and the 10 Most Undervalued Players

2. Trent Richardson, Chris Johnson, and Why RB-RB is Back

3. Ryan Mathews, Jacquizz Rodgers, and How to Lose a Fantasy League in 10 Picks

4. Trent Richardson Ranks No. 1 on Complete Projection of Top 20 Running Backs

5. Brandon Marshall Ranks No. 1 on Complete Projection of Top 40 Wide Receivers

6. Aaron Rodgers, Doug Martin, and the Eternal Sunshine of the Fantasy Mind

7. Colin Kaepernick, Tony Romo, and 12 Other Quarterbacks to Build Your Strategy Around

8. Stevan Ridley and Roddy White Highlight the All-Trap Team

9. Matt Ryan, A.J. Green and Why Cheaper Isn’t Always Better

10. Wes Welker, Kyle Rudolph, and the 10 Most Overvalued Players

Perusing those articles will give you rankings for QB, RB, and WR, strategy sessions on how to approach your draft, and undervalued players to target. Just as importantly, it will give you overvalued and trap players to avoid.

Or if you’re trying to decide whether to take Adrian Peterson No. 1 overall, whether Chris Johnson will bounce back, if Alfred Morris is the next Terrell Davis, when Joe Flacco or Ben Roethlisberger will morph from reality to fantasy threat, or, most importantly, what to do with David Wilson, the answers are all there.

More new Banana Stand content on the way soon. Have a great weekend everybody.

Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and QB Schedule Analysis

“My feeling is that if you’re not self-obsessed you’re probably boring.”
― Dave EggersA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Hopefully if you’re a Banana Stand fan you believe we’re self-obsessed in a good way. We’re definitely obsessed with the QB position. If you’ve been following my QB Workshop over at RotoViz, you know I believe it’s important to have a comprehensive approach to the position. I’ve tried to cover it from all angles.

Schedule analysis is probably the final piece of the puzzle. One of the reasons I like to play Late Round QB is the ability to take advantage of plus matchups. If you select a stud quarterback, you’re pretty much set playing that guy come hell or high water. We’re getting close enough to the real draft season that it’s time to start examining schedules and trying to find exploitable matchups.

I have a bit of skepticism about most schedule evaluations for a variety of reasons – reasons that are simultaneously too complicated and too boring to explain here – but you should maintain a healthy skepticism about my analysis as well since it’s of the “soft” variety. I went through the schedule for every NFL team and marked the game as favorable, neutral, or unfavorable to the quarterback based on my own intuition.

Here are a few ways in which my approach might provide some information that most schedule-based analyses will not.

1. I focus on the opposing team’s offense almost as much as the opposing team’s defense. This is important because defensive strength regresses to the mean more than offensive team strength. Green Bay and Detroit may be much improved defensively this season, but they’ll almost certainly have high-powered offenses. Even if your quarterback struggles in the first half, he’s going to see a lot of garbage time value against such offensive juggernauts.

2. I focus on home and away. The same team that might be a plus matchup at home could be a neutral matchup on the road. Again, I’m considering the opponent’s likely profile both on offense and on defense when trying to project the quarterback’s matchup. Contrary to what you might think, quarterbacks actually do well on the road from a fantasy perspective, in part because they spend more time playing from behind.

3. I focus on weather down the stretch. The difference between playing in a dome or playing at Buffalo is gigantic.

5 Guys Who See the Biggest Boost

1. Nick Foles – The likely Philadelphia starter played well in limited opportunities last season. He sees a big boost from the NFL’s easiest schedule. The NFC East is overrated defensively, and the Birds also benefit from playing the last place schedule (Tampa, Arizona) and crossing over against the pitiful AFC West. They also face the NFC North, a division with three potentially up-tempo, attacking offenses. That’s serious shootout potential.

2. Eli Manning – Manning is my most overrated quarterback this year, but his easy schedule might thwart that prediction. The Giants benefit from the same divisional weakness as the Eagles. The one caveat is a brutal Week 15 matchup against the Seahawks. If you pair your quarterbacks properly, you can avoid starting Eli in that one and then come back with him in Week 16 inside the Lions’ dome.

3. Matt Ryan – Ryan also shows up on most of my negative lists. I contrast his upside with that of Aaron Rodgers in Why Cheaper Isn’t Always Better and he just misses the starting job on my All-Trap Team. Fortunately for Ryan, he owns a favorable schedule in perpetuity. The NFC South is a train wreck defensively. Combine that with at least nine dome games a year and the relatively pleasant climes of Tampa and Carolina, and you have the makings of a fantasy utopia.

Two things to keep in mind. Ryan’s schedule was arguably even easier last season, which means his good schedule may already be priced into his ADP (since most people are just drafting off of last season’s numbers). Secondly, the Falcons do play at San Francisco in Week 16. Although the Niners were exploitable after Justin Smith’s injury last year, that’s a brutal matchup for a guy you pretty much have to play in your Championship Game if you own him.

4. Alex SmithCharles Kleinheksel and I have been promoting Smith at every opportunity. (Don’t worry, his ADP isn’t going anywhere. Rotoworld just compared him to Colt McCoy in a recent blurb, and that hilarious note probably sums up what the fantasy world thinks about him.)  All of the AFC West teams own plum schedules, but Smith might be your best candidate to take advantage. Philip Rivers and Matt Flynn are too low end, while Peyton Manning doesn’t need the schedule boost to get drafted super early.

5. Tony Romo – This is our third NFC East quarterback. Romo finishes with a Week 15 game against Green Bay and a Week 16 game against Washington. The Packers tilt should be one of the highest scoring games of the season, and by the time your fantasy championship game comes around, RG3 will have Washington scoring at will. Romo was one of the only QB1 candidates to not be overvalued.

5 Guys Who Get Crushed

1. Ben Roethlisberger – If you’ve been following my RotoViz series on quarterbacks, you know Big Ben profiles as the somewhat rare veteran breakout candidate. He owns a spectacular projection in both upside and in safety. Unfortunately, Roethlisberger comes in dead last in my QB schedule rankings. There’s very little good news attached to having the worst schedule in the NFL, but I offer this silver(ish) lining. Roethlisberger also had a terrible schedule last year and the app loves him anyway. So this is my takeaway: BB’s awful schedule may already be priced into his ADP, but his potential breakout isn’t.

2. Andy Dalton – Dalton is my No. 1 QB breakout candidate for 2013. He’s poised to become a cheaper Matt Ryan, or, in an extreme upside scenario, the next Drew Brees. Playing in the AFC North isn’t quite as bad as it used to be. All four squads are poised to be much more explosive. That’s a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats situation. Despite this, Dalton’s schedule will be a serious liability. Many pundits are focusing on the late season swoons the third year signal caller experienced in 2011 and 2012. Schedule, not talent, played a huge role in that.

3. Joe Flacco – Flacco is the star of my QB Safety rankings. Even more than Big Ben, he represents explosive breakout potential. In fact, he should be the next quarterback to undergo the Tom Brady 2007 mid-career fantasy explosion. If Flacco does go supernova, it will be despite another difficult schedule. From Week 7 to Week 13, he has zero plus matchups. Why shouldn’t you worry? Well, Flacco took apart a number of elite defenses in last year’s playoffs. And after the horrible mid-season stretch he gets Detroit and New England in the fantasy playoffs.

4. Tom BradyBrady is a definite trap player this season. Sure, he’s overcome a lack of targets before, but this is an extreme version of that scenario. In recent years, the Patriots have begun to struggle in big games against elite defenses, which should give you pause about pulling the trigger on the Pats’ trigger man. They face a rebuilt Jets defense twice and play the entire AFC North. A tilt with the Ravens during the fantasy finals brings back memories of last year’s playoff debacle.

5. Aaron Rodgers – I’ve been promoting Rodgers as the perfect combination of safety and incredible upside. Unfortunately, even star quarterbacks put up very different numbers in difficult matchups. The NFC North crosses over against the AFC North this season. Although it doesn’t always stop them, Green Bay’s weather is not a plus, and facing another division with serious climatic issues doesn’t help. The Packers start the season with San Francisco and finish with Pittsburgh. You don’t want to bookend your season with losses.

Can You Play the Schedule Strength Issues to Your Advantage?

If you draft Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, you basically have to play them every week. A bad schedule is a clear negative, plain and simple.

The opposite might be true for Flacco and Roethlisberger. In competitive leagues your opponents are probably going to engage in some serious schedule analysis, which could play to your advantage. If Flacco and Big Ben are devalued due to schedule, it could make two guys with spectacular risk/reward profiles even cheaper. I’ve been advocating the Flacco/Roethlisberger committee as the perfect way to maximize your roster value in 2013. When you pair their schedules, most of the problems go away. A combined schedule gives you 10 favorable matchups, 3 neutral matchups, and 3 negative matchups.

You could further remedy that issue by adding E.J. Manuel or Jake Locker when necessary. After a brutal start to the season, Locker has a dream schedule down the stretch. He’ll almost certainly be available on waivers. His temporary pickup would give you 12 favorable matchups, 3 neutral matchups, and 1 negative matchup. The ability to cheaply take advantage of such efficiency glitches is yet another reason to consider Late Round QB as the dominant strategy.

“We are all feeding from each other, all the time, every day.”
― Dave EggersA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Shawn Siegele has finished in the Top 10 of the NFFC’s Main Event Classic for two consecutive seasons and is one of only a handful of players to own three or more Main Event league titles. He also contributes to Rotoviz and works as Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

Josh Freeman and Inscrutability

Josh Freeman is an interesting test case for predicting quarterbacks in both fantasy and reality. I’ve been fairly certain Freeman is a bust for over a year now, but some aren’t so certain. Chase Stuart is one of the ten best football writers out there, and he recently took Freeman as the 32nd pick in the RSP2 draft project.

Freeman came in as the No. 13 quarterback in fantasy a year ago, but is being drafted as the No. 21 QB off the board in summer mocks. This would seem to indicate Freeman owners are receiving a discount to his 2012 season and getting the potential breakout tossed in for free.

So let’s generate some comps and see what we come up with.  Continue reading

Andy Dalton, Alex Smith and the Return of the Electric Monk

“The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder… Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.” 
― Douglas AdamsDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

The new FanSided article on sleeper quarterbacks for 2013 is out today. It’s heavy on stats but requires a metaphorical Electric Monk to truly be believed. Starring Andy Dalton, Alex Smith, Nick Foles and others, it’s a must read for any Late Round QB advocates out there.

I have quite a bit of new Banana Stand content coming, but if you missed the FanSided article on super sleepers at tight end, you’ll want to check that out. You don’t need to believe in tight end streaming for 2013 to want the best breakout candidates at the position. For those who miss on Jimmy Graham this season, landing under the radar guys like Fred Davis and Jermaine Gresham while avoiding the overhyped Kyle Rudolph and Dennis Pitta will be the key to winning a fantasy title.

While a handful of my RotoViz articles are performing nicely, the breakdown of J.J. Watt’s transcendence languishes unloved. If you know anybody who plays IDP, point them in that direction. And everybody should play IDP. (I mean if you have time, of course.)

Champions of Matt Ryan and A.J. Green will want to check out why Cheaper Isn’t Always Better where I encourage everyone to just draft Calvin Johnson and Aaron Rodgers.

But again, there’s more straight Banana Stand content on the way.

Shawn Siegele has finished in the Top 10 of the NFFC’s Main Event Classic for two consecutive seasons and is one of only a handful of players to own three or more Main Event league titles. He also contributes to Rotoviz and works as the Lead Redraft Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.