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The Official FieldGulls Fantasy Football Thread. Week 5 Edition.

Unfortunately for Bills fans, yes, it does.
Unfortunately for Bills fans, yes, it does.

Vicks has given us the task of a "SB Nation Sleeper of the Week."  Get it, "sleeper?"  I have to be honest, I giggled when I read the headline.  This is one of those times when I appreciate advertisers who actually try.  And to be honest, in those rare instances when I am sick, I am a fan of Vicks VapoRub, so I for one don't have a problem with the tie in.   That being said, it's time to get our Fantasy On.

You know the routine, right?  

Here at Field Gulls we’ve had discussions on just about every aspect of football, including having discussions about when we can or should have discussions about Fantasy.  Well, this IS the place.  You can, if you must, add fantasy talk in additional game threads, but be warned, someone may be watching, and they may be mocking.  Here, you have free rein to talk your team’s reign or your rain of injuries.  Something to note, and this should be a true football fan’s golden ticket when it comes to heaven and hell and the voiding of the warranty on your soul.

The first rule of Fantasy Football, you do NOT root for players against the Seahawks.
The second rule of Fantasy Football, you do NOT root for players against the Seahawks.

On this site, for sake of your own health, NEVER cheer against the Seahawks due to your fantasy roster.  My personal rule is to avoid as much as possible acquiring division rivals, or to avoid playing them against the Seahawks if reasonably possible.  Statements like, "Well, at least I have Larry Fitzgerald on my fantasy team" (if) he was scorching the Hawks will unleash the hounds of hell upon you.  Please don’t be that one bastard playing the "Don’t Come" line at the craps table.  Not only will you bring bad mojo to everybody, but you’ll likely get verbally harassed, if not banned.  You’re a Seahawk fan, you aren’t "that guy" you are one of OUR guys—act like it!

We’re 4 weeks through the NFL season, and have now reached the first bye.  While in the next several weeks, NFL teams might be resting and recovering during a much needed bye, fantasy owners now get to play the waiver wire shuffle.  My biggest piece of advice is this—plan ahead. 


Bye Week Management

If you haven’t already looked at your roster and planned for your starters to have their byes, do so immediately.  Know who is sitting when and start looking for viable replacements.  Use your website’s "Watch List" and add a couple guys at each position you don’t have depth.  It also helps you to see guys on a weekly basis instead of simply looking at the waiver wire on week 9 and guessing who looks good or not.  Add a player to your watch list and you’ll be watching his games on Sundays with more individual focus while debating the merits of picking him up or not.

If you have a player who is going to have a bye on week 6, don’t wait until after week 5 is completed to grab the bye replacement and run the risk of losing him to someone with higher waiver priority.  Be proactive, and try to always stay one week ahead.  It’s smart practice—if the guy you grabbed goes down to injury, you can always grab an alternative later.  But if you wait, someone may already get your top choice.

Oh, and try and make you actually look at the player’s matchup the week you are going to play him.  If he’s a team’s WR1 but a fantasy WR3 with hot and cold numbers and he’s playing the Jets and going to be stuck on Revis Island that week, is he really the right guy to go get?  Another NFL team’s WR3 who is playing a likely high scoring affair may be the better way to go.


Sleeper Picks and Thoughts on when to Cut Your Losses…

As bye week moves need to be made, roster size shrinks.  That means it’s time to reevaluate your pre-season sleepers.  Are they worth sitting on or is it time to consider letting them go?  For example, in one league I dropped Delone Carter last week for a bye week starter next week.  In another, I’m grinning because I didn’t accept a trade and give up on Sydney Rice when someone came calling with something that would have improved me only a little at another position.  Injuries to Andre Johnson and Vincent Jackson mean Syndey’s even that more important to me now.

Be decisive when you decide to make a move, but don’t be hurry to make one just to make one.  Unless you are a hamster and enjoy that wheel of course…

A couple things to look at when deciding to keep or cut bait.  Is he really going to help you, and if so, when and how?  For example, Delone Carter was my 5th RB in a 2 RB/3WR league, and I have LeSean McCoy, LeGarrette Blount, Beanie Wells and Ben Tate.  My WR’s are not nearly as deep (for a 10 team, 3WR start league), with Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, and prior waiver pick ups Eric Decker and David Nelson.  I was hoping Carter would emerge as legitimate depth and then maybe I could package Tate or Beanie and Marques Colston or Reggie Wayne for a less risky WR start. 

Well, like most trades you think up in your head, it didn’t happen.  Arian Foster got healthy, Colston went down and nobody wants to touch Wayne with a 10 foot pole.  So I let go of Delone to pick up someone who will help me-- Brandon Pettigrew for my TE bye week start in week 7. 

Another thing to keep in mind.  If you let him go, will someone else pick him up?  And if so, who will they drop to grab him, and could THAT player help you more instead?

One last tip while evaluating the waiver wire-- at this point in the season you should no longer be using the "projected scoring rank" as your sole evaluation.   That ship has sailed, man.  Generally you will need to a couple clicks to line up by present scoring, but it’s the way to find the guys who are getting it done instead of the guys who, like Dalton in Road House, that we all thought were "supposed to be bigger."


When Fantasy and Reality Blur; a Closer Look at the Buffalo Bills.

Now I was an English Lit Major so I might be wrong here, but I think that statistically we’re a quarter of the way through the season.  We are starting to establish some patterns that may or may not fall in line with pre-season expectations.  Obviously injuries like those to Peyton Manning and Jamaal Charles have caused a ripple effect in both the NFL and fantasy scoring.  And while small sample size is essentially always an issue with football, we’re picking up on trends.  We’ve discovered which teams are better and worse than we thought.

A great example is the 3-0 start of the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills were way below the radar prior to the season both in NFL and Fantasy scoring.  They stand above mighty Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC East standings at 3-1, and several players have emerged as viable fantasy starters.  Of course, last weeks’ loss takes some of the luster off, but it’s time to recognize that Chan Gailey has turned Ryan Fitzpatrick into a viable QB1 rotational option, or even a full time starter in deeper leagues.  Although he lacks consistency, Steve Johnson is a legitimate fantasy WR1 at this point.  However, be wary if you expect to trust in him the next month of the season.  Fred Jackson continues to be a solid RB option, clocking in right now with around a 90 yd/1 TD per game average.

The Bills defense is also an interesting fantasy option, both in Defense/Special Teams and IDP leagues.  They are a big play defense, with 3 safeties (Jairus Byrd, George Wilson, and Bryan Scott) currently legitimate starting IDP’s.  Byrd is the youngest and probably the most talented, but hasn’t had a "big play" yet this year.  All three are clocking tackles (70! between them this year already) and are threats for a pick or sack.

In 2009 and 2010 between the three of them they have 278 tackles, 15 INT’s and 8 sacks, with Byrd getting the most INT’s – 9 two years ago but only 1 last year, and Scott the most sacks, 5.   Those are great fantasy numbers… but they also show you the difference between fantasy and reality.  That’s too many tackles and big plays by safeties for a team that is 3-1 and wishes to be a legitimate contender.

So, in other words, fantasy-wise, the Bills are off to a great start—a better start than the 3-1 record of the team for real.  However, I’m going to tell you this is the last week we’ll see them sitting above the Patriots in the standings. 

I like the Bills.  I even think they were the best team of the 90’s.   Hell, about the only thing catchphrase I enjoy from Chris Berman is ‘Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills."  Unfortunately, I doubt most people listening actually understand the reference, but that’s neither here nor there.  I don’t understand why Chris Berman is still on the air, so I guess we’re even in that regard. 

Being a native Washingtonian and lifelong fan of our teams up here in South Canada, I empathize with Bills fans, they remind me of Seattle fans with our sports luck and anonymous national significance.  "Oh, you’re the team who complains about the officials and can’t win the Super Bowl!"  "Ha ha, Wide Right!  You’re the team who can’t win a Super Bowl!"  If we could just go back in time, those are the two most unjust Super Bowl losses of all time, by hardluck franchises who deserved to win and loyal fan bases who never seem to get to taste victory. 

So that means I am pleased they got to enjoy a little of the NFL season this year… even reminds me of us this year.  Well, our Mariners with that quick start and early contention. 

In both cases, fun while it lasted, but the wheels are going to come off.

In hindsight while looking at the early season schedule, the Bills SHOULD have started 3-1.  It was just an unexpected 3-1.  Week 1 found them @ the Chiefs, who have been nuked by injuries and are just now waking from the long offseason.  Week 2 they beat the Raiders at home.  Not a huge shock.  Week 4 they lost to the Bengals, a game you probably would have given them going in, but not a huge shock @ Cincy.  Quite honestly, Week 3’s upset of the Patriots (in Buffalo) was the only genuine surprise.

A wider view of the NFL schedule shows the Bills may be in for some rough times ahead.  Here’s the schedule the next 5 games:

                                                vs. Philly

                                                @ NYG


                                                vs. Redskins

                                                vs. Jets

                                                @ Cowboys

                                                @ Dolpins

                                                @ Jets

The next 5 weeks they face a pissed off and embarrassed Eagles team attempting to crawl back into contention, the Giants in NY, the much improved Redskins and then the Jets, before heading down to Dallas to play the always mercurial Cowboys. Just using the "eyeball test" there are some very talented defenses in that mix, and you may see the passing game suffer for it. Right now including the Cincy game last week, I would not be surprised to see them losing five in a row heading into Dallas.  They then have the Dolphins @ Miami before facing the Jets in NY.  It could get "M’s losing streak ugly," as in going from 3-0 to another disappointing season in upper NY and a 1-6 stretch

Let’s bounce back to fantasy again—The "big three" of Steve Johnson, Fred Jackson and Ryan Fitzpatrick will never have higher value than right now.  If you can sell high on Steve Johnson, Fred Jackson or Ryan Fitzpatrick, do so now before it’s too late.  But if you can’t unload them now, best to weather the storm.  Expect all three to have a drop in consistency but still remain viable fantasy starters.  David Nelson and Scott Chandler are another story, however.  Their numbers are going to suffer as well, but unlike the other three, that will push them off rosters and back onto the waiver wire. 

As for the defense, well, it will be playing Tony Romo, Mark Sanchez (twice!), Sexy Rexy Grossman, Matt Moore and Eli Manning.  You tell me if you think a big-play ball hawking defense has a chance to get some pick 6’s there.      

Final Verdict:  Reality?  Not a believer in the 3-1 start.  In fantasy?  It isn’t a nightmare, but things are going to start getting a bit lean if you depend on the Bills offensive playmakers. Expect some drop in numbers and some tough times the next month and a half. 

That’s it for week 5.  Feel free to discuss the article and your fantasy teams in the comments.  Have a great weekend watching the games.  I’m going to pretty much miss them, as I’ll be in Portland enjoying the rain and 26.2 miles of streets in the city of roses.  This will be my first marathon, and I’ll be the first to say that I’m an idiot. This is such a stupid idea, I can’t even explain what the hell I was thinking four months ago when I signed up. Someone shoot me now, please.  In the calf, preferably.  Nothing that I wont recover from, but enough to keep me from ever running again, and more importantly-- keep me from losing control of my bodily functions like a WSU freshman… only without alcohol.