Wednesday, October 11, 2006

FANTASY NFL: Two-Back System Gives Fantasy Players Fits

Each year in fantasy football presents new challenges and new ways for fantasy owners to find value in drafts and free agency. As the NFL game evolves, so too does the fantasy landscape. What we saw coming and expressed frustrations with say, Fred Taylor and Greg Jones in Jacksonville in 2005, has changed and presented different problems and benefits. The initial use of a two-back system was in goalline scenarios and didn't have a drastic impact on a running back's touches in a given game. But in 2006, all bets are off. Taylor is now giving way to Maurice Jones-Drew, Deuce McAllister to Reggie Bush in New Orleans, LaDainian Tomlinson to Michael Turner in San Diego, Dominic Rhodes to Joseph Addai (or vice versa) in Indy and the list goes on. Exciting young backs are providing their teams with changes of pace, boosts to the passing game and more flexibility in their play-calling. Unfortunately, it's also tormenting fantasy owners.

In any given week, a different one of the two backs can have a big impact, little impact or no impact in a game. Coaches are now afforded the option of feeling games out and going with the hot hand, and how the hell are average followers of the game (I'd be generous to call myself even that) supposed to know who that will be? This problem's not changing, so we must adapt our fantasy strategies to make the most it. My theory: strength lies in numbers - big-time backs are few and far between and a little difficult to predict. After being head and shoulders above the field after 2005, Larry Johnson and Shaun Alexander are stumbling for their own reasons in '06. It's hard to rely on a one-man show in your fantasy backfield, so roll the dice on young, talented rookies and hope that the development of your season allows you to keep them on your roster. A well-timed pickup or draft of a Cedric Benson, DeAngelo Williams or LenDale White can boost your team's depth tremendously. In my 12-team league, I start Steven Jackson, Willie Parker and DeShaun Foster each week, but have Williams and White stashed away for a rainy day.

Pluck these guys off the market, and buy yourself some flexibility, an opportunity to hit a home run in a given stretch of the season and bye week insurance for down the road. Some of these guys mentioned are still available in 10 team leagues and maybe some 12 team leagues; pick them up if you can, I think you'll be glad that you did.

1 comment:

Mark Bolton said...

I love Fantasy Football and I love to play with numbers. I never bet, but I love to figure out how I believe certain players will do. I love sports. My favorite sport is NFL football. fantasy football cheat sheets can greatly help us.