Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Reality Check: The C.J. Spiller debacle

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Thanks a lot, C.J. Spiller.

Just when you thought it was safe to bench him, just when you had finally come to terms with the idea that your top pick wouldn't be anywhere close to your best player, he went and piled up 155 yards against a Chiefs defense that had single-handedly won its Fantasy owners about four games this year.

It's enough to make you wonder what it's all for -- you know, rankings, projections, matchup info, real-time scoring, Sunday afternoons, football, competition, humanity, life. Assigning random outcomes to each of your players each week simply won't do. This isn't a study in chaos theory. At some point, the numbers have to actually mean something.

Check out our Fantasy Football podcast!
There is no better source for entertaining Fantasy advice than our Fantasy Football Today podcast. Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Adam Aizer will help you pass the time as you anticipate Draft Day 2014!
Latest episode | Subscribe today!

They have to, right? Well, right? Please, tell me they mean something!

You see that? You see what this game is doing to us? All that time, all that effort spent trying to get an edge, and what do you have to show for it? Madness! You want an edge? I'll give you an edge ...

Crash!

Just imagine I toppled a giant stack of plates or did something similarly loud, showy and completely incongruous to what I just said.

And with that, you're in the middle of an after school special -- the kind designed to wake you from your trance, enlighten you to the ramifications and return you to meaningful pursuits like horticulture and rocketry.

But since you and I know that won't actually happen, let's instead work to be smarter about the way we process certain information. Specifically, our approach to underachievers is at times less than sensible.

Most require patience and a reminder that they're better than their last week's numbers. Others legitimately aren't worth the trouble anymore, though they're fewer and farther between than the typical angry commenter would have you believe.

Anger -- that's an emotion that won't win you games. It can serve as a motivator, sure, but if you're this deep into a Fantasy Football column this abstract this far into the season, motivation is the least of your concerns.

Frankly, we'd be better off eliminating emotion from the start-sit and add-drop processes. If we approached them as a machine would, using past data to predict future data and recognizing that any anomalies are just additional data and not part of some vast conspiracy to thwart our sincerest efforts, we'd make fewer boneheaded moves.

Like sitting Spiller?

See, I wouldn't go that far. Based on the information we all had collected on him (and on the Chiefs, for that matter) up to that point, sitting him made perfect sense. But would you believe that in my shallowest league, for the briefest of moments, I actually considered dropping him?

Dun dun dun!

And to further the conversation, I did drop Trent Richardson ... like, just a couple days ago ... after Spiller's resurgence.

Those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it, right? Having just survived a brush with boneheadedness, here I am following through on it with a player of similar standing.

But you know, I feel good about it. They're different players with different sets of circumstances. And while I ultimately talked myself out of dropping Spiller, the arguments for keeping Richardson just weren't as compelling.

Of course, knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em is the eternal dilemma of gaming, but if you can recognize the difference between a Spiller and a Richardson, you won't be so hesitant to pull the trigger. And I don't know about you, but after a week chock-full of attractive waiver claims -- with more to come, to be sure -- I'd rather not devote any more roster space to deadweight.

So how do you act decisively in a game where so much changes from week to week?

The No. 1 pitfall in Fantasy Football is an overemphasis on the micro. You could argue the game is built for it. It has the shortest season of any major professional sport and yet the longest wait between samplings. Had the inventor anticipated the ensuing torment, he would have thrown up his hands and gone back to bed, but alas, here we are.

Every player has a range of potential outcomes from week to week. Though you can't predict where he'll land within that range, you can predict the range itself by weighing a variety of influences, which include ability, health, workload, role, scheme, supporting cast and opposition. Let's go ahead and call that the definitive order. Sounds about right to me.

The one that changes most often is opposition, so it tends to get the most attention from week to week, but in the grand scheme of influences, it's relatively low on the list.

And the rest? Well, unless you're in win-or-die mode -- which, admittedly, some Fantasy owners are this time of year -- they keep you from doing something boneheaded, like dropping Spiller.

Allow me to demonstrate with a side-by-side comparison of Spiller and Richardson. We'll begin with supporting cast. For Spiller, it's at least adequate, judging by Fred Jackson's production. Richardson has Andrew Luck to keep defenses honest, but it's not like the Colts have churned out productive running backs in recent years. The Bills and Colts are two of the few teams in the NFL that would prefer to run, so both players have scheme going for them. As for role, they're both platoon backs, though the Colts intended Richardson to be a workhorse when they acquired him. Workload? Again, the Colts want to give Richardson as much as he can handle, but you could argue the same is true for the Bills with Spiller judging by offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's comment this preseason that they'd give him the ball until he threw up. In terms of health, Spiller had played on a bad ankle for three weeks before finally getting a break in Week 8 while Richards, as far as we know, is as right as rain.

Now ability ... that's the kicker. We know Spiller has it from his 6.0 yards per carry last year and penchant for breaking long runs. All Richardson has backing him up is the fact he went third overall in the 2012 draft.

So in Spiller, you have an explosive back capable of taking any play all the way whose struggles are at least partially explained by injury, and in Richardson, you have a plodder who has yet to prove capable of more than 30-40 yards and maybe a touchdown if Luck doesn't take matters into his own hands. Shoot, James Starks could do better than that.

One of those players strikes me as somebody worth protecting in all leagues. The other strikes me as just roster filler.

The focus here is on those two, but as with every "big picture" column, the concept is meant to apply beyond just them. You could try it on any player who has you on the fence. Steven Jackson? His team isn't the most committed to the run, but he gets a full workload and has been mostly productive with the carries he's gotten. He deserves a longer look after missing so much time with injury. Ray Rice? He has been embarrassingly unproductive this year, but the Ravens remain committed to him. Given his track record, you shouldn't discount the possibility of a Chris Johnson-like resurgence. Doug Martin? His ability was never in question. His health is a concern, but until the Buccaneers rule him out for good, you have to stick with him, especially with his supporting cast showing signs of improvement. BenJarvus Green-Ellis? An obvious beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time a couple years ago, he has zero big-play ability and is splitting carries with an up-and-comer who seems to be gaining trust by the week. Cutting him loose wouldn't be the most regrettable thing ever.

Of course, just because you could justify dropping someone doesn't mean you absolutely should. I've limited this discussion to running backs not because it couldn't apply elsewhere, but because they're generally in higher demand and, thus, more deserving of protection. At most every other position, your best bet is obvious, and your next best is comparable to what's already on waivers. Cutting somebody loose doesn't have the same repercussions as at running back, where virtually anyone getting regular carries has value. That said, in a league where I also have Reggie Bush, the Tampa Bay duo, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, Starks and, what could be the biggest find of all, Ben Tate, I'm fairly confident I won't be missing Richardson.

But again, this isn't about me or him, but those tough decisions we all face every time we enter our waiver claims for the week. If your inner robot can't find reason for optimism, by all means, pull the plug.

But if that inner robot made the wrong call in Spiller, take a moment now to recalibrate.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB or Facebook . You can also follow Scott via Twitter @CBSScottWhite .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
S Tyvon Branch meeting with Colts
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:39 pm ET) Released by the Raiders on Tuesday, safety Tyvon Branch is meeting with the Colts on Wednesday, reports ESPN.com.

Indy needs safety help: The team released LaRon Landry three weeks ago, and Mike Adams and Sergio Brown are headed to free agency. Branch can play both safety positions, the report said, but has been limited to five games the past two seasons due to injury.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Giants WR Victor Cruz 'very confident' he can return to form
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:18 pm ET) Giants receiver Victor Cruz, who tore his patella tendon last October, told the New York Post his knee is "feeling better every day." He has begun running on a machine that allows him to use partial body weight, the paper said.

"I just want to get back out there and get back to 100 percent," Cruz said. "I’m very confident I can get back to where I was.”

Cruz said he understands GM Jerry Reese's recent comment that the team can't count on Cruz regaining his Pro Bowl form. He knows he has a lot to prove.

“I’m extremely anxious to run for real and make those cuts you need to make when you’re healthy,” Cruz said. “I’m a competitor and want to start that process now. I’ll be out there soon enough.”

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Bills acquire QB Matt Cassel for draft picks
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:36 pm ET) The Bills announced they've acquired quarterback Matt Cassel from the Vikings. Buffalo also will receive one undisclosed draft pick while giving away two undisclosed draft picks.

Cassel, 32, won the starting job in Minnesota last year but suffered a season-ending foot injury Week 3 that required surgery.

Cassel is signed for this season at $4.15 million. He'll compete with EJ Manuel and possibly otheres for the starting job in Buffalo.

The trade won't be finalized until the new league year begins next Tuesday.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Giants DE Damontre Moore has arm in a sling
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:29 pm ET) Giants defensive end Damontre Moore had his right arm in a sling as he watched Texas A&M's Pro Day with other former Aggies, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. More information on Moore's injury was not immediately available.

The Giants expect big things from Moore in 2015 after he registered 5.5 sacks and 32 tackles last season. The 6-5, 250-pounder is entering his third season.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Vikings officials meeting with Adrian Peterson on Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:14 pm ET) Vikings officials flew to Houston to meet with running back Adrian Peterson on Wednesday, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Coach Mike Zimmer was among the contingent.

Peterson's suspension, which was supposed to run until at least April 15, was deemed flawed by Judge David Doty and sent back to the league. The NFL put Peterson on the exempt list and appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We are able to have communication now with Adrian,” general manager Rick Spielman said Monday. “We’ll keep all those communications internal. I don’t want to give you guys a blow-by-blow [account] every day. I think it’s been very clearly stated that we want to have Adrian Peterson back. There’s no question about the talent. He’s a unique talent and he’s under contract with us next year.”

Peterson said recently he was feeling "uneasy" about returning to the Vikings.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


LB Jarret Johnson to retire as a Raven
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:23 am ET) Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson will sign a one-day contract this offseason to retire as a member of the Ravens, reports the Baltimore Sun. Johnson, 33, spent the past three years with San Diego after nine seasons in Baltimore.

"I also want to thank my Baltimore family," Johnson wrote on Instagram. "Where I learned to be a pro and conduct yourself like a warrior on the field. Where I spent 9 of the best years of my life."

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Report: Andre Johnson asks Texans to cut him
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:10 am ET) Andre Johnson's agent asked the Texans to cut the disgruntled wideout, rather than try to trade him, reports Pro Football Talk. Johnson said he was told by coach Bill O'Brien last week that the team envisioned him in a reduced role in 2015.

Johnson, 33, has two years and $21.5 million left on his contract. He has spent his entire 12-year career with Houston.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Report: Steelers hoping S Troy Polamalu retires
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:00 am ET) The Steelers hope 33-year-old safety Troy Polamalu retires so they don't have to cut him, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette.

"That is the elephant in the room,” Bouchette told 93.7 The Fan. “I expect him not to be here by some means. The Steelers are hoping he would retire, but I don’t know if he is going to.”

Polamalu has two years left on his contract and carries an $8.25 million cap hit this season. He's spent his entire 12-year career in Pittsburgh, making eight Pro Bowls.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Jaguars, Raiders expected to lead chase for Randall Cobb
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:58 am ET) Impending free agent receiver Randall Cobb apparently will not be returning to Green Bay, "barring the unexpected," and the Jaguars and Raiders are expected to be his top suitors, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Green Bay did not slap the franchise tag on Cobb, and the 24-year-old star believes he can do better than the Packers' offer of five years at $8 million to $9 million annually, the report said.

Other teams can start negotiating with Cobb at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Jaguars, who have $69.3 million in cap room, "are expected to be all over Cobb" as they need a dynamic threat from the slot to help quarterback Blake Bortles, the paper said.

Oakland has $56.6 million in cap room and also is preparing to bid for Cobb, the paper said, adding: "Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie helped draft Cobb for Green Bay in the second round four years ago and wants to reunite him with steady James Jones."

The Chiefs are over the cap but could create space to make a play for Cobb too, the report added. If Cobb leaves Green Bay, Davante Adams likely would step in as the starter opposite Jordy Nelson.

Cobb set career highs last year with 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


DT Darnell Dockett expected to choose team Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:22 am ET) Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is expected to choose Wednesday between returning to the Cardinals and signing with the 49ers, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Rams and Seahawks also expressed interest in Dockett, who was released by Arizona in a cost-cutting move last week.

Dockett, 33, missed the 2014 season while recovering from a torn ACL. In the 10 previous seasons, all with the Cardinals, Dockett piled up 459 tackles, 40.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and four interceptions. 

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


 
 
 
Rankings