Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I've never done a sequel to an article before, but since it's fantasy football season, I'm in the giving mood. Let's empty out the mailbag one last time and answer a few more questions.
Friday, I did a lot of name-dropping. This column will have a little of that, but mostly we're going to focus on strategy.
1. So running backs go first, right?
And second and third and fourth and ... okay you get the idea.
The concept isn't that running backs are better. It's an issue of scarcity.
The 20th-ranked quarterback in our rankings? Jay Cutler, not a superstar by any means, but a perfectly legitimate fantasy starter with a reality star wife and 136 career touchdown passes.
As for running backs? Our site has Le'Veon Bell at No. 20. Bell has A. never taken an NFL snap, B. isn't guaranteed to start over Isaac Redman and C. is out for the next six weeks with a torn foot ligament.
The point is, you can afford to wait on a quarterback. That luxury doesn't exist with running backs, especially when most leagues require you to have at least two of them.
2. Is it harder to play in an eight-team league or a 14-team league?
On the surface, you'd think a 14-team league would be tougher. But in a way, it's actually easier because there's only so much you can do. The waiver wire is bare bones in a league that crowded.
In a 14-teamer, you're kind of stuck with what you have. That makes Draft Day incredibly important.
Eight-team leagues are deceiving. People like them because you're basically guaranteed an awesome team. The problem is, so is everybody else.
Huge 14 and 16-team leagues (yes, those actually exist) can be daunting but in smaller leagues, I think people are more prone to over-thinking it, which can lead to mistakes. That's why I prefer 10 and 12-team leagues. To me, that's the sweet spot.
3. Does what defense you have make that big of a difference?
Fantasy owners who had the Bears last season will tell you that it does.
Matthew Berry's rule of thumb is that a good defense should earn you about eight points a week. The Bears averaged almost twice that amount (15.4 fantasy ppg in 2012).
Just to be clear, the best real-life defense isn't always the best fantasy defense. The Bears gave up way more points than the 49ers and Seahawks last season, but they made up for it by generating tons of big plays (10 defensive touchdowns and 44 takeaways). The Patriots were like that, too (5,975 yards allowed with 41 takeaways).
If I had to pick a sleeper this year, I'd go with Tampa Bay. With Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson manning the secondary, Tampa could be turnover city in 2013.
4. What's the strategy with kickers?
Well, I don't know if there is one, but I'll take a stab at it. Obviously taking a kicker on a bad team is never a good idea. So that means we can safely rule out Josh Scobee (Jacksonville) and Nick Folk (Jets).
Kickers on good teams get a lot of extra points, but not many field goal tries because usually, they're getting in the end zone instead of settling for three points. So they're out, too.
That leaves guys like Blair Walsh (Minnesota) and Greg Zuerlin (St. Louis) who play on teams that are good enough to get in field goal range consistently, but don't always find the end zone.
So there you have it. The kicking crisis has been solved. When do I get my Nobel Peace Prize?
5. Why haven't you had a draft yet?
I admit it. It's August 25th and I still have yet to have a fantasy football draft.
Don't worry, though. I'm not a total fraud. I have one coming up on Tuesday, another on Friday and then two more next Monday and Tuesday.
Sure laziness had a hand in pushing back some of my drafts, but mostly we did it by design. If you have your draft too early, players can get hurt.
Just in the last week we've seen Kevin Kolb, Mark Sanchez and Bell all go down with injuries. Not that Kolb and Sanchez are particularly important fantasy assets but the point is, it could have happened to anyone. That's why I prefer to have my drafts after the preseason as opposed to right in the middle of it.
6. Do you prefer an auction league or a round-by-round draft?
I came up with this question on my own. The reason it popped into my head was because of how thoroughly Grantland's Bill Simmons was bashing snake drafts on his latest podcast.
Simmons, a relentless advocate of auction leagues, had this to say,"I can't really take you seriously when you're doing a round-by-round fantasy draft in 2013."
I guess living in Los Angeles has made Simmons a fantasy elitist. I don't have anything against auction drafts but in this day and age when the average fantasy consumer is in at least three or four other leagues, who has the time? Auction drafts take FOREVER.
I'm also a big believer in variety. Of the four leagues I'm in this year, one league is standard, one is PPR, one is a two-quarterback league and the other is a keeper league. Auction drafts are fun but wouldn't it be boring if that's all we had? I believe in the right to choose! (crowd roars in approval)
7. How many leagues is too many?
Seventy-one. That's how many New York Post columnist Drew Loftis was in last season.
Dude, that's crazy. And not the Chris Farley rolling on the floor making me laugh kind of crazy. This is the "get away from me, you lunatic" kind of crazy.
Matthew Berry is in eight and this year I'm going to be in four. I always told myself I'd stick to two so this is relatively new territory for me.
If someone asked me to be in a fifth I would have turned them down. Fantasy is about having fun. When it becomes that much work, I don't think you can really call it fun anymore. Four is plenty.
8. Is there any advantage to picking your team on auto-draft?
Fundamentally, I have a huge problem with auto-drafting. Draft night is amazing. Why would you let a computer take that experience away from you?
But hey, I've heard it works. I have a friend who swears by it. He even has the league trophies to back it up.
I don't understand how you'd get any joy out of that, though. When Alfred Morris did well for me last season, I really rooted for him. He was my discovery. If I had picked him on auto-draft I don't think I would have felt that same pride.
Plus, isn't it a little disrespectful to not show up to the one event a year you're required to go to?
I really hope auto-draft dies a slow, painful death.
9. What's the best team name you've heard this year?
The team name I've been using for the last several years came from a Saturday Night Live skit called "Dissing your dog." I'm telling you, you haven't lived until you've seen Will Ferrell condescendingly tell a Basset hound to get off the couch.
Anyway, they made reference to a rare/possibly made up breed of dog called the Mexican Fighting Beagle and I knew right away that was going to be the name of my fantasy team.
Another name came to me while I was playing a game of Halo on XBox Live. One of the users I was up against was called "Panting Badger." I loved it and I've been using it ever since.
Good fantasy names can come from just about anywhere. A lot of people like to use puns or movie references like "The Blair Walsh Project," which I thought was a pretty good one. "I Pitta the Fool," a name I found on Fansided.com, would have been great if Dennis Pitta were healthy. "Weeden Start the Fire" is another funny one. How can you go wrong with Billy Joel lyrics?
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