Welcome to the second edition of the Twitter Fantasy Football Roundtable. As is the case last time, a bunch of Fantasy writers who met on Twitter have gathered together to debate and discuss a current topic – today’s group consists of:
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.
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.
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.
Mark Gram (@FF101) Along with Adam Stark and Eric Pedigo, Mark begins the 5th season of Fantasy Football 101 with a fantasy draft special on Aug 13th on www.sportsradio1450.com WFMB am.
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).
Steve Wyremski (@retiredrookie) is a CPA working in NYC. He’s a big time New York Jets and Boston College (alum) fan and has been playing fantasy football since 1996. His primary focus is to reach out to NFL and NCAA players for interviews in an effort to bring the players closer to fans. Dynasty leagues are a huge focus of his, but general football strategy is his 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.
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.
And now the question of the day.
Last year saw a pretty much unprecedented amount of rookie running backs who turned in stud performances: Steve Slaton, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson were the class of the class – and all things being equal Kevin Smith looked pretty darned good as well.
Which of these guys is most likely to see a dip in numbers their second year and why?
Matt Schauf – RapidDraft.com:
Steve Slaton topped out at 248 carries in college and twice carried fewer than 215 times in his three seasons. The Texans know that they have to be careful about overworking him — as evidenced when they basically sat him (four carries) for the Baltimore game last year. He can’t average 22 carries like he did over the final six weeks of 2008. If more short-yardage carries go the way of Chris Brown and/or Ryan Moats, it’ll chip away at the nine rushing scores Slaton had last year.
That said, I think all of these players belong in the first two rounds of any draft (unless you have some funky scoring system).
Josh Torrey – FantasyDC.com:
I think all of them stand a very likely chance to see a drop in Fantasy production this year. But I agree with Matt, Steve Slaton is one of the ones that stand a better chance. His small frame is what people were holding against him and Slaton proved us all wrong for one year.
But this is the NFL & Slaton is seeing more looks and hits from big time NFL linebackers, injury concerns my come up this year. Injuries can wreck Fantasy seasons and Slaton owners need to understand that one healthy season does not translate into a healthy career.
The other player I see being brought low is Chris Johnson. The kid is a blazer but he really is a one trick pony. Willie Parker lit up the league his first couple seasons as NFL Defenses still were not prepared for such potent speed rush attacks. LenDale White helps Chris Johnson in that opposing Defenses have less time to sub in a better defense for the battering ram that is White or the roadrunner that is Johnson.
Both Titan RBs saw great production increases last year, but if the Titans do start to favor Johnson, he could be in for a long season. My prediction is that the Titans will keep things balanced and Johnson will see some TDs lost to a better passing attack (not by much granted) and White.
Andrew Garda – ThunderingBlurb.com:
Everybody already knows I consider Forte a guy who will slip in year two. But as I’m merely pointing out that I expect him to dip a bit (and remain a top 10 back) I’m not sure I would characterize it as a sophomore slump & I don’t know it will be the biggest.
I agree with Josh that Chris Johnson is a prime candidate for a stumble. My biggest worry is that he is going into the season with no real passing offense. While that didn’t seem hamper him much last year, defenses weren’t as prepared for the speed he brought to the table.
Take a close look at his last few games – he struggled (but scored) on the ground against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. He caught just two catches for a measly 1 yard versus the Steelers. But he also struggled terribly against Houston.
If you let the Ravens game go as he was hurt and left the match, but look at the other two you’ll note that in both cases, teams pinned him against the line, allowed him no cutback lanes and generally hit him early and often.
It didn’t help that Collins was off his already unimpressive game.
If a team like Houston (ranked 23rd vs the run in 2008) can figure this out, more than likely others will too. It’s especially worrisome since it happened late in the season and was replicated by Pittsburgh.
And look at that early schedule – Steelers, Jets, Jags (twice), Pats – it’s not pretty.
Let’s also not forget LenDale White stealing short yardage work, though if it balances like last year that won’t hurt too much.
I like Johnson, but I think this year a season’s worth of tape along with the mediocre pass game may hurt him more than people expect.
Mark Gram – FF101 on Sportsradio1450.com:
I had a tough time deciding between C. Johnson and S. Slaton. While I Johnson coming back to the pack just a little, I feel that Slaton will be the guy whose numbers may drop the most.
Good points have already been made as to why Slaton may struggle a bit this season. First, the NFL is not stupid; Slaton will not sneak up on opponents this year. Defenses will be prepared.
Second, as Matt mentioned, the Texans aren’t going to give him the workload that he had last season. With C. Brown and R. Moats as the backups, I think Slaton will see fewer touches at the goal-line.
He’s still a fine option in fantasy drafts, but I’m going into my drafts not expecting the same #’s as last year.
Jeff Terfertiller – Footballguys.com:
I see Slaton and Johnson having a decent chance of wearing down. Both are “smaller” and there is talk of both having a big role this season. Hard to believe the Titans will give Johnson too many carries.
With White being used to close out games in 2008, he saw extended action as the Titans led many games. What happens if more games are close? Will the Titans give Johnson 20-25 touches per game?
Also, what happens if Collins is hurt or ineffective? I think last year was a perfect storm of good fortune for Tenn. In Houston, this is the year for Slaton to prove he can handle the load. If he has two great seasons, he vaults to a perennial Top 5 pick.
Josh Torrey – FantasyDC.com:
Andrew said ‘I like Johnson, but I think this year a season’s worth of tape along with the mediocre pass game may hurt him more than people expect.’
I like Chris Johnson in the 2nd Round. But I don’t think I will ever get a chance to even sniff at him.
Parag Gheewala – Mockumentary:
I like all three RBs and don’t foresee a major stumble out of any of them. I expect Forte’s numbers to decrease from last year because of fewer targets and carries, but he’s good enough not to bust. Until I see signs that Slaton can’t handle the load, I’ll believe what I saw last year. Same goes for Johnson – I think he’s got elite skills. Slaton and Johnson are great values.
Jared Ferree – What’s Your Fantasy Podcast:
One thing that really annoys me about Matt Forte is that I feel people are over valuing him based on the value he represented last season. Forte went undrafted in some leagues and if you did draft him, you probably picked him up very late. So based on what he did last season, he was a tremendous value and has people all in a tizzy about him. The guy did less with 300+ carries than anyone I have ever seen, 3.9 YPC, and 8 rushing TDs, are you serious?
His value was in the passing game and I don’t think that was planned ‑ it was due to Kyle Orton looking to check down. Cutler thinks he can hit a guy with 2 DB’s draped on his back and if there is one thing I can guarantee in fantasy football this season, it is that Matt Forte won’t come close to his reception totals last season.
If you watched some of the games that Forte played in last season, there were times he sat out for a long stretch and then got brought in at the one yard line and got a TD, and his stat line was decent. He was average at best running the ball and better than people thought catching the ball. I think he doesn’t carry more than 265 times, and doesn’t catch over 40 balls. That means his production drops quite a bit.
I don’t predict injuries, so I am assuming Slaton stays healthy and Johnson is a threat to go deep every time he touches the ball, so to me, this one is easy, if you take Forte top 5, you will be disappointed, because I don’t think he is a top 10 fantasy back this season.
Jim Day – FantasyFootballWhiz.com:
I have to agree with Jared on this one, I think Forte falls the furthest. That being said, I think all of these kids (outside of Kevin Smith) will remain top 10 at the position. I just don’t think Forte come out on top of this group.
Hate to reiterate what has already been said, but it has been said that his touches will go down partly due to a healthy Kevin Jones looking quicker than he has in the last couple of years according to Chicago beat writers and also the fact that Cutler will look to throw the ball further downfield more often.
Ultimately though I think these things help Forte and allow him to remain fresher longer into the season and maybe even extend his career some, I’m just not sure I see top five in his future in 2009.
Josh Torrey – FantasyDC.com:
While Kevin Jones might be healthy with the pads off, I don’t expect Jones to make it 2 weeks without getting injured. I think the other Adrian Peterson will steal more carries from Forte & is the handcuff to own.
Jim Day – FantasyFootballWhiz.com:
I am not a fan of Handcuffs and don’t draft that way, so I really don’t care who takes his carries, just that they will be taken.
Steve Wyremski - retiredrookie.com:
Forte is my guy.
Chicago was a game managing team last year with a ton of dump offs and clock management. Add a gun slinger and I see two changes:
1) Less dump off passes to the RB;
2) More tossing the ball around.
This all equals fewer opportunities for Forte. Let’s face it… Forte was the Bears offense last season. While the addition of one of the best young QuarterBacks in the league may help keep the safety out of the box, he’s not going to see the same number of touches. The Bears are also more likely to get a second RB involved this season based on recent news out of Chicago.
Forte’s big time overrated right now.