FANTASY GRIND: Targeting targets, Vegas for D

FANTASY GRIND: Targeting targets, Vegas for D
September 11, 2013, 3:32 am
Share This Post

Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor warms up for an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

(APWF)

One game into the NFL season, time for the real fantasy tinkering to begin. But as you're looking at a single win, loss or tie in your standings column, know that your team probably isn't overwhelmingly strong or weak.

No matter how much you won by, all reasonable rosters have room for improvement. And if you lost, your team is probably salvageable with a combination of patience and savvy roster moves.

It all involves assessing your situation with new information, balancing what you thought you knew before with what you think you've learned after one week of games.

If you're planning to bench or trade running backs like C.J. Spiller or Stevan Ridley because they fumbled and didn't score many points, make sure your logic is solid (it's likely not). If you're aching to get wide receivers like Leonard Hankerson or Eddie Royal into your lineup, think about how probable it is that either will get two touchdowns in a game again (Hankerson had three all of last year, and Royal's career high is five in 2008).

Part of winning in fantasy is managing frustrations - seeking scenarios you can reasonably count on rather than depending on long-shot performances, even if they're possible and have happened before.

According to CBS Sports, 83 percent of fantasy teams who had Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning won their Week 1 matchups. He threw seven touchdowns and immediately became the front-runner for the NFL's MVP award.

What's it mean for those more than four in five fantasy owners? One win. No more, no less. On to Week 2.

---

TARGETING THE TARGETED:

Players don't get points for opportunities in fantasy sports, but the more often they touch the ball, the more points they're likely to score.

Look at David Wilson, the Giants running back who fumbled twice on Sunday night and didn't get any carries or passes thrown his way afterward. Among the many running backs with more carries and more fantasy points were Arizona's Alfonso Smith and Philadelphia's Bryce Brown.

Wilson vented his frustration at fantasy owners and angry Giants fans on Tuesday night on Twitter, saying in part: ``ur irrelevant to me!!! Nobody wants me to succeed more than ME!!!''

The truth: What Wilson wants is irrelevant if Giants coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning decline to give him the ball.

Here are some widely available players who had good opportunities in Week 1, with a reasonable chance to keep getting chances going forward.

QB: Terrelle Pryor, Oakland. Pryor is the latest example of the funny relationship quarterbacks have with fantasy scoring. Mobile quarterbacks who are weak passers can often make up ground by running, as Pryor did in Week 1 with 112 yards on 13 carries to go along with 217 yards passing. Pryor will keep piling up statistics on Raider plays that don't involve Darren McFadden rushing.

RB: DeAngelo Williams, Carolina. Likely sitting on someone's bench in your league. But with Jonathan Stewart on injured reserve, Williams is more than a committee back. He had 17 carries in Week 1, tied for 11th in the league with Marshawn Lynch, McFadden and Spiller.

WR: Brian Hartline, Miami. Hartline was third among NFL wide receivers with 15 targets against Cleveland, finishing with nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Mike Wallace, new to the Dolphins with a $60 million contract, was visibly upset Sunday after having only one catch on five targets - enough to warrant a meeting Monday with coach Joe Philbin.

TE: Dallas Clark, Baltimore. That's correct, he's 34 years old in his 11th season, with only two seasons with more than 800 yards (2008 and 2009). Clark led his team with 12 targets, one behind Cleveland's Jordan Cameron for the league lead among tight ends. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco relied heavily on Dennis Pitta last year, who is out for most of the year on injured reserve. Clark has averaged less than six targets per game over his career, but during his best year, a 100-catch, 1,106-yard season in 2009 with Indianapolis, Clark averaged 8.3 targets per game. Baltimore is thin among receivers and Clark will likely be available for a tryout without a waiver claim, as others in your league jump for Julius Thomas or Kellen Winslow.

---

RINGER TIME: DYLAN LERCH

A former online poker grinder is approaching fantasy football defenses with a simple assumption: Sports books in Las Vegas and elsewhere know more than you do about how NFL teams will perform.

Each week, Dylan Lerch posts defensive rankings on Reddit (http://bit.ly/15Q83Ws ) and Nerdball Magazine (http://bit.ly/1eC5pok ), derived by a formula combining point spreads and totals with turnover statistics to generate weekly rankings that look far different from the season-long cheat sheets of many fantasy experts.

It's a next-level argument to streaming, and the age-old assumption you shouldn't draft a defense or kicker until the last round.

The consensus? They're hard to predict and score comparably by the end of the year. But in practice many fantasy players respond by playing whatever defense or kicker they get late in their draft and considering the positions an afterthought during the year.

That creates a hole for savvy fantasy owners to pick up valuable points each week, without the investment of a draft pick.

``These lines, they might not be 100 percent perfect, but for essentially our imprecise fantasy football purposes they are far better than any other predictive model that we have available,'' Lerch said. ``They reflect injuries ... they reflect weather, they reflect every single scenario and variable that can describe a football game.''

Lerch, who approaches fantasy football as a game that can be solved, said the effort is an attempt to gain an edge on information, as teams try to guard their plans on the field and fantasy players try to predict what's going to happen.

``You're trying to exploit your opponent's lack of information,'' he said.

---

FULL DISCLOSURE

Entered Monday ahead in all five leagues. Ended the night 2-2-1, with the tie coming on the last play of the Houston-San Diego game when Randy Bullock made a 41-yard field goal for my opponent. One loss was by 2 fantasy points to an opponent who scored 16 points with Texans tight end Owen Daniels, while the other was to a first-time fantasy player who scored a combined 27 fantasy points with Chargers running back Ryan Mathews and the Washington Redskins defense.

Both wins came in leagues with Manning.

---

Oskar Garcia is a news editor for the AP in Honolulu who spends way too much free time on fantasy sports, with little to show for it. He can be reached at ogarcia(at)ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia

Texans - Team News
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) remained limited in Thursday's practice. Johnson doesn't need full practices at this stage of his career. He's a solid WR2 for Sunday's game against the Titans.
Oct 23 4:37PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) said he'd be surprised if he doesn't play in Sunday's game... Clowney hasn't played since tearing his meniscus in Week 1. He says he plans to "push through" the soreness that's still in his knee. If the training staff lets...
Oct 23 11:41AM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Ryan Fitzpatrick admitted he "didn't get it to Andre [Johnson] nearly enough early"... Johnson finished with 5-77-0 on nine targets, but had just one catch for four yards through the first three quarters. After the game, coach Bill O'Brien said that Johnson...
Oct 23 8:03AM Read More
Brian Cushing - LB
Texans ILB Brian Cushing will miss at least one week with a knee injury. It's a blow to an already vulnerable Houston run defense, and a nice upgrade to Bishop Sankey's Week 8 matchup. Justin Tuggle and Mike Mohamed figure to start at inside...
Oct 22 8:32PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans are limiting Johnson's reps coming off Monday night's loss. He'll remain a WR2 for Week 8 against the Titans.
Oct 22 5:22PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans listed Foster as "not injury related," but he missed practice time last week with a groin issue. Foster has a matchup with the Titans' No. 22 ranked run...
Oct 22 5:15PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
According to HoustonTexans.com, there's a "decent chance" Jadeveon Clowney (knee)... "He feels good," coach Bill O'Brien said Monday. "Well see how it goes this week in practice. We'll be able to make a determination pretty soon about whether...
Oct 21 3:58PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught two passes for 24 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers. Graham was targeted three times, but dropped the other. It can be considered one of Graham's better statistical games of the season, which obviously means he's nowhere near...
Oct 20 11:31PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson caught five passes for 77 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins each saw a team-high nine targets. There was nothing special about Johnson's night. His biggest play was a 24-yard grab on a deep in route in...
Oct 20 11:25PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins caught six passes for 108 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Hopkins and Andre Johnson each saw a team-high nine targets. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw it to whichever receiver was working against embattled Steelers CB Cortez Allen. ...
Oct 20 11:16PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue rushed for 14 yards on five carries and caught an 11-yard touchdown in the Texans'... Blue was the vulture on the opening-drive 11-yard score after Arian Foster managed 59 rushing yards to get the Texans near the goal line. Foster is an every-down back,...
Oct 20 11:09PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21-of-32 passes for 262 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception... Fitzpatrick played well for much of the first half, leading the Texans on three consecutive scoring drives to open the game. It was a train wreck thereafter. One play...
Oct 20 10:56PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster rushed for 102 yards on 20 carries in the Texans' 30-23, Week 7 loss to the... Foster got off to a blazing start, rushing for 59 yards on the Texans' 94-yard opening touchdown drive, but was vultured by Alfred Blue for the 11-yard touchdown catch to...
Oct 20 10:47PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is inactive for Monday night's Week 7 game against the Steelers. Clowney's lateral agility wasn't where the Texans wanted it to be in pre-game warmups. He's been out since undergoing knee surgery after Week 1. Whitney Mercilus is...
Oct 20 6:09PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins (hand) is probable for Week 7. The Texans listed Hopkins on the injury report, but his status was never in doubt. He'll be a WR3 for Monday night against the Steelers.
Oct 18 2:54PM Read More

More Team Talk