Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Fantasy Stud Popularity Overrated?

Even the cool kids aren't the best kids every week.

Disclaimer: The only two people completely exempt from this discussion are Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning. Play them. ALWAYS.

I recently read a selection of postings from some of the fantasy football experts on the internet regarding the issue of whether or not you should always start your "studs." These are those players that you invested high draft picks in (usually the first two or three rounds) and who will likely end the season with solid overall numbers. Prime examples include running back Chris Johnson, wide receiver Greg Jennings, and quarterback Tom Brady. These players will certainly give you a multitude of amazing games before the season's end. However, I chose those examples because each one of them has had at least one not-so-grand to just-plain-bad performance within the first four weeks.

Let's start with Mr. Perfect himself: Tom Brady. Coming back from his season erasing knee injury last year, he was expected to be a little rusty in the saddle, but rusty for Brady is at least eighty percent better than most quarterbacks. He caught the New York Jets during week 2 and only squandered together eight points in Yahoo! standard leagues. In week 4, Drew Brees faced the same shutdown defense of the Jets and mustered a measly eight points for himself. Matt Schaub stared down the barrel of fantasy irrelevance during week 1 with six points against the Jets. The highest-scoring quarterback so far against Rex Ryan's dominating defense? Kerry Collins, with nine points in week 3.

The point that I'm trying to make is that you have to observe your matchups. Sure, no one expected Brady to flounder that early in the season against a defense, that though it looked good, was not fulled tested. The have proved themselves in and out since then and will continue to do so throughout the year.

Take a look at who your players are going up against and make judgement calls. Don't just sit atop your high draft pick throne and pretend that everything is going to be awesome for you. A little observance of who your star running back is sledding against helps. If it's the easily punished Kittie-Cats of Detroit, then go to town; however, if you are up against the Steelers, maybe you should consider benching Matt Forte and going with Correll Buckhalter against the Cleveland Puppies. The payoff would have been well worth the worry.

This isn't to say that matchup plays are perfect. After all, Ronnie Brown still plowed through the Colt's formidable defense for 136 yards and two touchdowns. If you had benched him in favor of Ryan Grant against the Bengals, you would have been pounding your head into the wall thanks to the 15 point difference between the two.

Sometimes a smart owner knows how to spot a bad matchup from miles away and will shy away from it. The payoff on this all depends on the wisdom of the person. It can be huge, it can be mild, or it can hurt. Just do your research and don't rely on DeAngelo Williams every week, though most weeks you can.

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