Return to Thoughtless Being


“3. There are three stages: Thoughtless being. Thought. Return to thoughtless being.

33. Do not confuse the first and third stages. Thoughtless being is achieved by everyone. The return to thoughtless being by a very few.”

 – Chad Harbach via Aparicio Rodriguez in The Art of Fielding

The groundbreaking football book Game Plan by Frank DuPont discusses the way that Madden fanatics may have far more practice making quick game management decisions than NFL head coaches. It’s no surprise, he says, that NFL coaches really struggle with this aspect of the game. Because their many hours of coaching development are spent almost entirely on other aspects of football, it wouldn’t even make sense for coaches like Andy Reid to be good at making decisions in such a context.

Over the last four years, I’ve drafted and played out more than 200 fantasy football teams. It’s my theory that most fantasy experts are presenting misleading information and bad strategies, not from any moral or intellectual failing, but simply because they haven’t put in the practice. A person who plays 4 to 5 leagues a year is going to require 50 years to accumulate the same number of reps.

This is important because fantasy football is a game of strategy, and it isn’t enough to know about football or be able to do mathematical computations. Developing a strategy is about creating conjectures and then testing those conjectures. You read a lot about ‘expert mock drafts’ but participating in a mock draft is likely to make you worse at fantasy football. Even if you haven’t made it explicit, any time you participate in a mock draft, you’re employing a strategy. Essentially, you’ve a theory for your draft, but you receive no feedback because the feedback would come from actively playing out the league.

Competing in Serious Events

In the final week before the season, I participated in more than twenty high stakes drafts alone. At one point I drafted for six consecutive hours. On two separate occasions I was participating in three NFFC Main Event drafts simultaneously – one by teleconference and two by internet. On one of the two occasions, my teams weren’t even in the same format.

This year I’m in 32 leagues, most of which are high stakes. I’m also very excited about the first year of the PFF Dynasty format – my first foray into IDP.  Through one week, the Banana Stand is 24-8 and posted the high score in PFF Dynasty by 33 points.

Tested Contrarian Viewpoints

A lot of the writing I do for both PFF and Money in the Banana Stand is contrarian in nature. Some of these pieces are fanciful or ironic, but most of the outlandish claims you see on the Banana Stand are true. The rankings and strategy suggestions are the result of thousands of hours of participating in drafts, making waiver claims, proposing trades. They’re the result of asking questions, making conjectures, and then testing those ideas within the cauldron of actual high stakes play.

I hope you disagree with many of things I write and many of my rankings and that you’ll let me know in the comments, in emails, and via twitter when I eventually get around to adding that. The only way to get better is to discover that some of your ideas are in error. (Which is why it’s always better to be the loser of an argument.) If nothing else, creative disagreement – even when it ultimately proves fruitless – improves the quality of future ideas.

The Official Money in the Banana Stand 2012 Draft Board

Below I’ve posted my final 2012 NFFC Draft Board, a PPR format which starts 2 RBs, 3 WRs, and 1 Flex. Obviously it won’t aid your draft efforts this season, but you might find it interesting as you go about developing and testing your own ideas.

Last year, I received excellent feedback from readers on my ‘rest of the way rankings’ series. The only way to understand where I’m coming from in those pieces is to see where I started from. Even after one week, it’s clear some of the rankings are in error. (For example, the placement of Adrian Peterson will probably prove absurdly low.)

The highlighted players are those whose ADPs made them targets based on my rankings.

The Board

Tier One


1. Ray Rice 1. Calvin Johnson
2. LeSean McCoy 2. Julio Jones
3. Arian Foster
4. Chris Johnson 3. Larry Fitzgerald 1. Jimmy Graham 1. Aaron Rodgers
5. Jamaal Charles 2. Rob Gronkowski 2. Tom Brady
6. Ryan Mathews
7. Darren McFadden
8. Doug Martin 4. Andre Johnson 3. Drew Brees
5. Demaryius Thomas 4. Matthew Stafford
6. Victor Cruz
7. Hakeem Nicks
9. Stevan Ridley 8. Percy Harvin 3. Aaron Hernandez
9. A.J. Green
10. Wes Welker
11. Jordy Nelson
12. Dez Bryant
13. Brandon Marshall
14. Eric Decker
15. Marques Colston
16. Greg Jennings
17. Roddy White
18. Steve Smith
19. Miles Austin
20. Kenny Britt
10. Kevin Smith 21. Dwayne Bowe
11. DeMarco Murray 22. Torrey Smith
12. Fred Jackson 23. Brandon Lloyd
13. Darren Sproles 24. Antonio Brown
14. Matt Forte 25. Jeremy Maclin
26. Pierre Garcon
15. Marshawn Lynch 27. Reggie Wayne 4. Vernon Davis 5. Cam Newton
16. Trent Richardson 28. Steve Johnson 5. Jermichael Finley 6. Matt Ryan
17. Reggie Bush 29. Mike Wallace 7. Tony Romo
18. Maurice Jones-Drew 30. Justin Blackmon 8. RGIII
19. Jonathan Stewart 31. Vincent Jackson 9. Michael Vick
20. C.J. Spiller
21. Steven Jackson
22. Peyton Hillis
23. Ryan Williams 32. Titus Young 6. Antonio Gates 10. Peyton Manning
24. Adrian Peterson 33. Michael Crabtree 7. Fred Davis 11. Eli Manning
25. Ahmad Bradshaw 34. Greg Little 8. Kyle Rudolph 12. Andrew Luck
26. David Wilson 35. Austin Collie 13. Jake Locker
27. Donald Brown 36. Denarius Moore 14. Joe Flacco
28. Rashad Jennings 37. Alshon Jeffery
29. Evan Royster 38. Lance Moore
30. DeAngelo Williams 39. DeSean Jackson
31. Mikel Leshoure
32. Roy Helu
32. Toby Gerhart
33. Mark Ingram

34. Ben Tate 40. Robert Meachem 9. Brandon Pettigrew
35. Pierre Thomas 41. Darrius Heyward-Bey 10. Tony Gonzalez
36. Bernard Scott 42. Sidney Rice 11. Jermaine Gresham
37. Frank Gore 43. Jonathan Baldwin 12. Jason Witten
38. Cedric Benson 44. Kendall Wright 13. Greg Olsen
39. Rashard Mendenhall 45. Brandon LaFell
40. Dexter McCluster 46. Anquan Boldin
41. Michael Turner
42. Shonn Greene
43. Jonathan Dwyer
44. Robert Turbin
45. Alfred Morris
46. Lamar Miller 47. Stephen Hill 14. Owen Daniels 15. Ryan Fitzpatrick
47. Beanie Wells 48. Malcolm Floyd 15. Jacob Tamme 16. Ben Roethlisberger
48. Isaiah Pead 49. Nate Washington 16. Jared Cook 17. Russell Wilson
49. Kendall Hunter 50. Danny Amendola 17. Coby Fleener 18. Philip Rivers
50. Willis McGahee 51. Jerome Simpson 18. Brent Celek
51. Michael Bush 52. Davone Bess
52. Shane Vereen 54. Leonard Hankerson 19. Dustin Keller 19. Jay Cutler
53. Bilal Powell 55. David Nelson 20. Ed Dickson 20. Matt Cassel
54. Alex Green 56. Randall Cobb 21. Heath Miller 21. Matt Schaub
55. Jacquizz Rodgers 57. Steve Smith (STL) 22. Joel Dreesen 22. Josh Freeman
56. LaGarette Blount 58. Mike Williams 23. Scott Chandler 23. Carson Palmer
57. Isaac Redman 59. Santonio Holmes 24. Dennis Pitta 24. Christian Ponder
58. Daniel Thomas 60. Brian Quick 25. Alex Smith
59. Vick Ballard 61. Nate Burleson
60. LaMichael James 62. Laurent Robinson
61. Ronnie Hillman 63. Emmanuel Sanders
62. Felix Jones 64. Greg Salas 25. Lance Kendricks 26. Tim Tebow
63. Jahvid Best 65. Mario Manningham 26. Tony Moeaki 27. Ryan Tannehill
64. Michael Smith 66. Michael Floyd 28. Andy Dalton
65. Leon Washington 67. Andre Roberts 29. Sam Bradford
66. Chris Ivory 68. Mike Thomas 30. Blaine Gabbert
67. Dion Lewis 69. Randy Moss
68. Bernard Pierce 70. Earl Bennett
69. Jason Snelling 71. Donald Jones
70. Knowshon Moreno 72. T.Y. Hilton
73. Ryan Broyles
74. Rueben Randle
75. Santana Moss
76. Golden Tate
77. Steve Breaston
78. Vincent Brown

10 thoughts on “Return to Thoughtless Being”

  1. What do you think about long-term value (this season only) of Kevin smith vs. Mikel Leshoure. Word out of Det is they think Leshoure is the man. Great site.

    1. Hey Ed, thanks.

      I like Leshoure a lot. Considering one of the two games he missed was against the 49ers, I probably should have had Leshoure higher and Smith lower in my preseason rankings. That game was going to make Smith look bad and open an opportunity for Leshoure. (I own both in the PFF Dynasty league.)

      My study of the 2011 RB class suggests Leshoure was the best prospect (slightly ahead of R. Williams and way ahead of Ingram). He’s not really a short yardage back either and could fit with what the Lions want to do in the passing game. The big question is whether he’s at 90% of his pre-injury form or only around 60%. Despite his low per carry average, he flashed a couple of times in preseason which should be taken as a good sign. (Of course, Williams also flashed and has looked awful in the regular season.)

      The Lions didn’t really play to Smith’s strengths in the first two games and now they seem to have soured on him. If one emerges with 60% of the carries, that back should have RB1 value the rest of the way (both Best and Smith were Top 10 backs last year on a per game basis). Leshoure looks like that guy and is a definite trade target in every format.

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