Each week I'll attempt to bring some clarity to your questions about the pigskin and the men who throw, catch, run and kick it. To reach me with questions, scroll down to the end of the piece where you can find my e-mail address.
I have Tony Romo in a TD/Yardage league. Should I pick up Roethlisberger and let Romo go?-- Steve D., Clearfield, Pa.
This is the type of question I get all the time with people over-reacting to one good performance or getting too excited about a player returning from injury or suspension. Let's go to the tale of the tape.
Ben Roethlisberger is a terrific NFL quarterback, and his return to the Steelers offense will benefit the entire unit immensely. Big Ben is a winner despite his highly questionable off-field behavior, but in terms of fantasy relevance he is nothing more than average. Read that again -- he is an average fantasy quarterback. Here are the numbers that prove it.
In six NFL seasons Big Ben has thrown for 3,600 yards one time.In six NFL seasons Big Ben has thrown more than 18 touchdowns only twice.In six NFL seasons Big Ben has averaged 3,217 yards and 22 touchdowns per year.
If we take the average performance of the top-10 quarterbacks in the league last season we find that the group averaged 4,378 yards and 29.5 touchdowns. Moreover, 10 quarterbacks threw for at least 4,000 yards and 26 scores in 2009. Only once in six years has Big Ben reached both those numbers, and it was a close call even then (2009 with 4,328 yards and 26 TDs)..
As for Romo, the guy gets no love. The Cowboys are a huge disappointment at 1-3, but you really can't blame Romo, who continues to perform at an elite level. According to my most recent NFL Player Rater Review, Romo is currently the 9th-highest scoring QB in the game despite only throwing seven touchdown passes. It might have something to do with the fact that he is currently on pace for nearly 5,400 yards passing. Unlike Roethlisberger, Romo also has history on his side. In two of the past three years he has thrown for at least 4,000 yards and 26 scores, and he has tossed at least 26 scores each of the past three years while averaging 4,047 yards passing a season. Remember, Big Ben has hit that yardage number only once in his career.
Hold on to Romo. He may not be a better real world quarterback but he is the superior fantasy option without a scintilla of doubt.
I'm skeptical that Matt Forte can keep up the pace that he has set so far this season the rest of the way. Another owner in my league has offered Jamaal Charles and Michael Crabtree for forte. Crabtree is a big plus but I'll need more than one good performance to believe in him. What do you think?-- Joel S.
Forte is currently sixth in scoring among RBs in PPR leagues (refer to the previously mentioned Player Rater piece). At the same time, he has rushed for more than 50 yards in only one of five games, and only twice has he carried the ball even 15 times in a game. He's also fallen off a bit in the passing game after hauling in 12 catches in his first two games (he has just six receptions the past three weeks for 43 yards). He's been solid, but you can't predict that he will score 16 times this season, and without that we are left with one huge rushing game (166 in Week 5) and one huge receiving game (151 yards in Week 1). He hasn't been anything other than ordinary (at best) in the other three contests.
Charles is beast, and one of the most exciting players in football with the ball in his hands. Unfortunately the Chiefs' coaching staff prefers to give their mule (Thomas Jones) work at expense of their thoroughbred. Jones has a 10-carry lead over Charles, 60 to 50, despite the fact that Charles has been nearly twice as effective with the rock -- Charles has a 6.5 YPC mark, Jones is down at 3.9. Charles also has eight catches to two for Jones. Add it all up and Jones has 62 touches at an average of 3.9 yards per touch. On his 58 touches Charles is going for an average of 7.43 yards per touch. It should be pretty obvious who should be getting the pigskin on Sunday's if you ask me.
As rightly pointed out, Crabtree has been a huge disappointment this season before exploding in Week 5 for nine catches, 105 yards and a score. Crabtree has the talent to be a weekly starter in all fantasy leagues, and he does have 14 catches the past two weeks. The Niners don't have another wideout to steal looks from Crabtree, and sooner or later if a team hopes to win it'll realize it has to get the ball into the hands of their play-makers, and Crabtree is certainly one of those. Alex Smith and the somewhat stagnant passing attack will likely cap Crabtree's upside, but that doesn't mean that he won't end up being at least a WR3 most weeks moving forward.
I do this deal. I have an unhealthy addiction to Charles, kind of like Lindsay Lohan to a bottle of booze, so perhaps that is clouding my judgment a bit here. Still, if you are able to get Crabtree in the deal, that's simply too much talent to not jump on if all you have to do is to give up the solid yet unremarkable Forte.
I'm always worrying about my kickers and I find myself constantly considering changes at the position. Does it make any sense to simply roll with the best kicker on waivers each week like some people do with defenses?-- Jeff, Philadelphia
I'm gonna blow the cover off the dirty little secret of fantasy football -- kickers are useless. OK, that might be going too far, there are clearly options you would prefer to have on your roster versus some of the scrubs out there, but the fact is this -- it makes little difference who you have at kicker each week.
There are currently nine kickers in the league with at least 40 points and there are three others at 38 through five weeks. If you have the top kicker in the league -- Nick Folk -- you would have 49 points. If you had the 12th-ranked kicker -- Rob Bironas -- you would have 38 points. Since there have been five weeks of games the team with Folk would have scored 9.8 points per week while the team with Bironas would be producing an average of 7.6 points a week. That's a gap of 2.2 points. I'm not going to say that doesn't matter, but the truth is that the difference at the position is minimal. Here are the gaps between No. 1 and No. 12 options at the main fantasy positions (the scoring system is the one described in the Player Rater piece referred to above):
QB: 21.7 to 14.2 for a gap of 7.5 points per week.RB: 23.3 to 16.6 for a gap of 6.7 points per weekWR: 22.3 to 15.1 for a gap of 7.2 points per weekTE: 23.8 to 10.9 for a gap of 12.9 points per week (holy Antonio Gates)
See my point about the gap with kickers being relatively insignificant?
My advice would be to just go with the same kicker each week if you have a solid option. You could hit it big with kicker-bingo, but you might also end up being better off if you just run Mike Nugent out there each week.
Ray Flowers is Managing Editor for Fanball.com Owners Edge and RotoTimes.com. His work can be found weekly, exclusively at the home of fantasy football: Fanball.com. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear Ray's thoughts at the Fanball.com Sirius XM Homepage. (Ray is the co-host of a daily radio show on XM 147 and Sirius 211 satellite radio).