Once upon a time, a group of people with a passion for football, a knack for fantasy sports and a major addiction to social networking came together and decided ‘If we’re going to waste so much time talking football, we might as well put this in a format people can actually follow!’
And so the happy band gathered together from across the Twitterverse to provide you, gentle reader, with the most pressing answers to the biggest questions in Fantasy – and a hopefully enjoyable way to kill some time.
In each article we will discuss a different topic – sometimes a few of them – and hopefully give you the edge you need as you execute your Fantasy season.
This edition’s panel includes the following fine football minds:
Matt Schauf (@mschauf63) started writing about football for the expansive audience of metropolitan Oneonta, N.Y., back in 2002. After a couple of years of catering to his three readers there, he got picked up by ProFantasySports.com to be an IDP specialist. Soon after, Matt became the lead football writer for PFS and SportsBuff.com. You can now find his work there or at RapidDraft.com, where he also provides the strategy for the “Hollywood” character in the industry’s first single-player fantasy football game. His IDP writing can also be found at SportingNews.com and in preview magazines for Sporting News, Rotoworld and Football Diehards. In addition, Matt runs the industry news site FantasySportsBusiness.com, which was named best new site of 2008 by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
Ginny Loveless (@GBGinny) is a staff writer at Football Diehards and is part of the weekly fantasy football recap crew. She has been a staff & guest writer at numerous other fantasy football websites, including FOXSports.com, over the past five years and her article, “The Magic Touch”, which premiered in last year’s issue of Fantasy Football Draft Book, was a finalist for the Fantasy Sports Writers Associations Best Fantasy Football Article in Print. This beer-drinking, brat-eating, cheesehead will give you her best tip at being successful in fantasy football: numbers don’t lie. Stick with the facts and you’ll do alright. However . . . a little luck never hurts.
Jared Ferree (@WYFShow ) hosts the “What’s Your Fantasy” radio show/podcast on Blogtalkradio’s Fantasy Sports Channel with Raymond Summerlin. He is also a frequent contributor to www.lindyssports.com with both fantasy player rankings and general fantasy football articles.
Jim Day (@Fantasytaz) is a retired Biotech Engineer who has been playing Fantasy Football since 1992. Seriously addicted, Jim plays in about 30 Fantasy leagues a year, with most of these being large roster IDP Dynasty leagues. He has been writing for FF sites since 2000 when he started with Xpertsports.com. Jim started Fantasy Football Whiz in 2007 just as a place to have some fun and conversation with fellow league mates and any other fantasy fanatic that wanted to talk FF. It’s a small site, but is growing every year. Besides The Whiz, he also owns and acts as head engineer for Ultimate Recording, a 96 track, fully digital recording studio (im’s other love).
Parag Gheewala (@vote4parag) is an average guy with a day job who loves fantasy football and is also the mastermind behind Mockumentary, which started as his Twitter commentary on the first Twitter Fantasy Football Mock Draft. It quickly lead to Top 10 Fantasy Football Tweeter status. Parag loves the interactive and instant nature of Twitter, but the blog allows him to provide more in-depth comments when needed. Follow him on Twitter and via Mockumentary.
Andrew Garda (@ThunderingBlurb ) has been writing about football for the last eight years, covering everything from Fantasy to College to the NFL. He’s written for such sites as Draftguys.com and BleacherReport.com, but for the last year and a half has also had his own site at ThunderingBlurb.com. He’s also been podcasting since before they had a name for it and despite that making him feel quite old, continues his own weekly show The Thundering Blurb Football Show every Wednesday (10pm EST) on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Joshua Torrey (@jmtorrey) is an Electrical/Computer Engineer working out of Austin, TX. A die hard Steelers fan & fan of not just football but football strategy, Joshua enjoys breaking down game tape and team schemes to predict long term fantasy success. He is also a contributor to FantasyDC.com. He has 5 tattoos, showered yesterday and is eating meatloaf for lunch.
Today’s question resonates pretty hard as teams begin Training Camps.
There are a bunch of players who could have fantasy value stuck, but are currently stuck in limbo as we watch and wait for August Training Camp Battles to be decided.
Of the following, which will have the most impact on owner’s seasons and bear watching most closely?
a) Shaun Hill vs Alex Smith
b) Jamarcus Russell vs Jeff Garcia
c) Tim Hightower vs Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells
d) Michael Crabtree vs Josh Morgan
e) Mark Sanchez vs Kellen Clemens
If the one that is most critical isn’t here – what is it?
Matt Schauf – RapidDraft.com
Among these five, the highest-impact is easily Hightower vs. Wells. The three QB battles don’t occur on teams with high-profile fantasy receivers (Jerricho Cotchery being the most important there) and don’t include players that anyone should be looking at for serious starter value in 2009. Hightower, on the other hand, went for 10 touchdowns last year before showing that he apparently wasn’t ready for a starting gig. Did the Cardinals really spend a first-round pick on insurance behind him for year two? I don’t believe so. I think Wells should get drafted first, even if he doesn’t open the season as the starter. In many leagues, both will be selected before any other player on this list.
I don’t think Morgan-Crabtree is really a battle, as both should be talented enough to win starting gigs in San Fran if healthy. Morgan should be the No. 1 for 2009 by virtue of his experience and Crabtree’s shortened prep time thanks to the foot surgery.
More significant than the other battles listed here, I think, are those in the Denver, Indy and Baltimore backfields. Each situation will yield multiple value players, but the workload breakdown remains unclear in each case. For the record, I’m drafting Knowshon Moreno first among players in these backfields.
Parag Gheewala – Mockumentary
I agree. The hardest part about making projections is not determining the winner of “battles”, but rather reading the minds of each coaching staff to determine playing time allocation. I’m most interested in:
1. Addai v. Brown.
2. Rice v. McClain v. McGahee
3. Hixon v. Smith v. Nicks.
5. Graham v. Ward.
Ginny Loveless – FootballDiehards.com
The most critical training camp battle out of everything listed here would be Hightower vs. Wells in my opinion, simply because that backfield has the potential to have the most impact on your fantasy roster. I opine the exact sentiments as Schauf here: “The three QB battles don’t occur on teams with high-profile fantasy receivers (Jerricho Cotchery being the most important there) and don’t include players that anyone should be looking at for serious starter value in 2009. Hightower, on the other hand, went for 10 touchdowns last year before showing that he apparently wasn’t ready for a starting gig. Did the Cardinals really spend a first-round pick on insurance behind him for year two? I don’t believe so. I think Wells should get drafted first, even if he doesn’t open the season as the starter. In many leagues, both will be selected before any other player on this list.” Couldn’t have said it any better. :thumbsup:
After that battle, what I am most interested in is what’s going on in Tampa Bay between Earnest Graham and Derrick Ward. Tampa will be forced to rely on its running game this season and between Graham and Ward, someone has got to step up. Graham was injured last season, had ankle surgery and says that he is now 100%. But, to me, he is still an injury concern —- back off Bloom (Sigmund of Footballguys.com), I know you don’t agree here —- I’m not saying he is fragile, or injury prone….just that he is an injury concern to me. The year in which players return from a season where they had a serious injury are always injury concerns for me– I prefer simply to err on the side of caution.
Anywho… Graham desperately needed someone to share time with – Warrick Dunn and Cadillac Williams contributed what they could last year but both players are virtually done. After his three 100-yard games in September last year he (Graham) was slooooow. Ward is an excellent player to pick up the slack much like he did in NY. From all the reports I have come across, the two will be splitting carries. I can see Ward easily reaching 1000 yards (like in NY) and catching passes whilst Graham gets more of the goal-line touches and TDs.
Jim Day – FantasyFootballWhiz.com
I can’t agree that Hightower-Wells is the biggest battle. It isn’t a battle at all. Wells takes the job and the only thing that stops him is injury.
To me one of the biggest camp battles is in Indianapolis for the #2 WR position. Most are assuming that 3rd-year WR Anthony Gonzalez will win that spot, but there has been a lot of talk out of OTAs that 2nd-year WR Pierre Garcon was outstanding and might battle Gonzalez for the spot. This is the battle that I will keep an eye on in training camp because whoever wins this race will be a very viable WR2-3.
Matt Schauf – RapidDraft.com
I like Garcon, but that’s not a battle. Gonzalez is the No. 2 wideout in Indy. The battle in Colts camp is Brown-Addai for carries.
Interesting potential battles at linebacker, too, for IDP folks. Keiaho could well be out of the lineup with Clint Session looking like a sleeper and even Philip Wheeler intriguing for deep leagues.
Jared Ferree – What’s Your Fantasy Podcast
I agree with the Wells – Hightower having the most affect on fantasy owners rosters, but agree with Taz, that I don’t think it is much of a battle at all. I feel that Wells is the superior back and should get the starting gig and that the Cardinals didn’t use a first round back as insurance for a guy who averaged less than three yards per carry – I am looking directly at you Hightower.
I think Hill – Smith is interesting just because of how affective Hill was down the stretch of last season. Smith could put up really nice numbers on a week to week basis and be a very solid backup with upside.
Personally, I could care less what happens in the Tampa Bay backfield because I think that team doesn’t produce a solid fantasy option at any position this season – maybe TE, just because 600 yards and 5 TDs is good for a TE and that could be possible for Winslow. For some reason I just see all the carries in Tampa Bay getting split over a lot of different guys, limiting all of their potential. I kinda feel the same way about the situation in Baltimore – let someone else worry every week about whether McGahee (editor’s note – McGahee is already on the PUP as of 7/28/09) will get the most carries this week or will it be McClain, or will it be Rice, or will it be someone else. I don’t want that headache every week.
Andrew Garda – ThunderingBlurb.com
I like two battles here – Shaun Hill/Alex Smith is an intriguing one with Frank Gore, Josh Morgan, Michael Crabtree and several other offensive weapons hindered or helped by the outcome. You got the sense early that the staff likes Hill who, as Jared mentioned, finished solid in 2008. But the overall franchise loves Smith and continues to back him strongly. Smith also looked a tad better towards the end of OTAs.
This battle will be decided prior to the third preseason game and could make a difference for the fantasy value of several players. Of course, that’s not even counting which of the two will actually start and be viable for your team.
The Addai/Brown battle is also intriguing. Addai just can’t stay healthy and we know Brown will be getting some of his carries even if Addai manages to stay healthy. The question becomes – how many carries will Brown get to start? My gut feeling is Brown will have the majority by mid-season, but a strong camp by him could start him off with a big enough chunk to obliterate most of Addai’s already sinking value.
Josh Torrey – FantasyDC.com
I’m not sure that Crabtree & Morgan are really going directly at each other. But that’s beside the point; I don’t think Crabtree contributes much this year either way. So this is not the biggest battle.
I agree with other sentiments that Chris Wells should walk away with the Cardinals RB job easily. The Whiz is now back to HIS playbook and making the calls. He loved the Bus more than Parker (in Pittsburgh) and I think he’ll fall in love with Chris Wells.
Similarly, I’m not sure that the Shaun Hill battle is truly a battle either. Hill should also run away with this one as the PR for Alex Smith is in the dirt now. The 49ers are looking to make their move to Santa Clara and Smith is not the face they want going in. It’s better to struggle while looking like your searching for the answer (new coach, new QB) than struggling will refusing to admit past mistakes (drafting Alex Smith).
Therefore the winner of this question is Mark Sanchez vs Kellen Clemens! I’m leaning towards Sanchez here. The guy has so much experience at this point against NFL caliber D (at USC) & then a brutal camp against NY (Rex Ryan’s scheme). I think the guy could be more battle tested than the average Rookie QB. One COULD make the completely illogical argument that a great practice defense made Big Ben & Flacco the early successes that they are today. I won’t. But I’m throwing it out there for people to laugh or get uptight about.
So there you have it, the opinions of some of the finest minds the Twitterverse has to offer. We’ll have another installment later this week and be on the lookout for many more all season long. Make sure you never miss another Twitter Roundtable by following @ FFroundtable on Twitter.
If you want to hear more of what all these people have to say, definitely check out the websites they work for – each has an incredible amount of very tight information.
Every opinion is another tool to give you an edge over the rest of your league.
Thanks to all those who contributed today – and those who are working hard for more great discussion coming your way soon!