Week 15 – Evaluating My Stock Portfolio

As Christmas is fast approaching us and as the lines at your neighborhood Target and Best Buy leave you waiting for what seems like hours on end, you patiently wait your turn to spend hundreds of dollars while constantly refreshing your iPhone (or Galaxy SIII) to check your fantasy team to pass the time. After all, it is semi-final week in most fantasy football leagues.
Maybe you are buying presents for your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, significant other, children or whatever the case may be and you just want to swipe your credit card so that you can get into your car only to wait in another line, for what seems like hours, in order to leave the parking lot. Regardless of what the texting while driving laws in your state are, you are, yet again, constantly refreshing your phone to check your fantasy football team to pass the time. Again, it is semi-final week.
Maybe you tune in to the broadcast of your favorite team’s game or maybe you are listening to radio’s version of the “Red Zone” on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports with hosts Matt Camp and “Big Game” Joe Dolan, both of FantasyGuru.com. Their fantastic show runs for six hours each Sunday with a focus on covering the games and players’ statistics for fantasy purposes. You listen just to pass the time with the hope of hearing your players find pay dirt. Again, it is semi-final week.
Maybe you were out shopping earlier in the day to avoid the crowds but were on your iPhone tweeting your trusty fantasy sports analyst your sit/start questions. If you did not receive a response within 10 seconds, you fired off another tweet to your next go to analyst. You probably spent hours debating who to start in your flex (the running back with the starting gig or the high-upside wide receiver) or which waiver wire defense you should pick up to stream so as to prove to yourself and your opponent that you know football better than they do. After all, understanding football better than your buddy or your brother (or sister) means more to you than anything else on Sunday. Again, it is semi-final week.
For some of you, all of the time you spent this week fidgeting with your fantasy football rosters at work or at school when you should have been studying for finals paid off. For the rest of you, you just wasted a week of time.
I hope that if you are seeing this, you had a great week and just want to laugh at the fact that you did not own or start some of the players that I highlight below. I know that I certainly made some horrible sit/start calls to my Twitter followers. Some of them have already tweeted me about my stupidity – how could I not have seen Danario Alexander getting a goose egg and why did I not recommend starting James Jones over Demaryius Thomas? Sorry.
Week 15 has one more game to go so for those of you losing your matchup, you may have some light shining on you coming from championship week.
Let’s dig in and see where I went wrong this week.
Bad Calls
Donnie Avery – Hindsight is certainly 20/20 and as I study the box scores, I have become violently ill at the number of bad sit/start calls I made. I told renowned fantasy analyst, Glenn Colton, to sit Sidney Rice in favor of Donnie Avery. Rice ended up with 76 yards on 4 receptions while Avery had a much less exciting performance pulling in 3 receptions for 37 yards. In giving this advice, I went against my own rankings (my first mistake). I had Rice 15 spots higher than Avery. My rationale was that the Texans’ defense was, surprisingly, giving up the most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers over the past five weeks. With an angry Houston looking to rebound after being embarrassed by the Patriots just six days earlier, I figured that Houston would jump up early, forcing Andrew Luck to throw and that Avery would be the beneficiary of some of those tosses. Instead, when the Texans were not grinding the clock down with Arian Foster, Luck was looking for his other wide receivers and tight ends on just 25 attempts, which was Luck’s lowest number of attempts this season. Who knew that the Colts would attempt to get back into the game by giving Vick Ballard the ball? Not this fantasy analyst.
Bryce Brown – Brown lands on my “bad call” list for the second week in a row. After putting up a sweet zero fantasy points against the Buccaneers after putting up an average of 26.5 fantasy points in his first two NFL starts, you had to think that Brown would rebound and run hard against the Bengals, at home, knowing that LeSean McCoy was healing and was breathing down Brown’s back for his job.  For the second week in a row, Brown disappointed his fantasy owners finishing with 34 yards on 16 carries and caught just one ball for 11 yards. Over the past five weeks, the Bengals were surrendering 15.88 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and the 2nd fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks over the same time span. With that knowledge in hand, you would figure that Brown should get a heavy workload in order to drive the offense as Foles would be limited. The Eagles fought back in the 2nd quarter to take a lead going into the half, but out of the locker room, the game got out of control quickly and the Eagles were forced to throw the ball, which took Brown out of the game.
Josh Freeman – By now, I am sure that you have read the Buccaneers’ box score. Then again, maybe you saw highlights of the game. Worse yet, you may have seen the game on the Red Zone only to see Josh Freeman throw one of his four interceptions. You may have lucked out and witnessed Freeman’s lost fumble. In any event, I was so confident in Freeman and his solid 2012 season that I ranked him as my #7 quarterback on FantasyPros.com.  In fact, I know that I was not the only fantasy analyst to field questions this week about starting Freeman over Aaron Rodgers, who had a much tougher matchup against a Chicago Bears’ defense that was giving up the 5th fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks over the last five weeks. Mean while, Freeman was about to face a Saints team that was surrendering the 5th most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks over the same period. Seems simple – go Freeman. Well, I did not advocate starting Freeman over your first round pick, but I was advising to start him over Romo, Roethlisberger and, gulp, Russell Wilson, who had been on a major hot streak. Freeman ended up passing for 279 yards, but his 4 interceptions and one lost fumble did nothing to salvage his fantasy day. I chalk up Freeman’s poor day to the Saints getting up early and the Saint’s forced Freeman into making poor reads.
 Demaryius Thomas – I had Thomas locked in as my #4 ranked wide receiver, which was equal to the average of the “Expert Consensus Ranking” on FantasyPros.com. As it turned, out, all of fantasy analysts took this one on the chin. On nine Peyton Manning targets, Thomas only managed to pull in a measly 4 grabs for 13 yards (or 1 point in retro scoring).  My thought was that the Broncos would easily win this game over a team who just fired its offensive coordinator and had a depleted defense, but even in blowout games, the older Manning brother manages to give his stud receivers equally great fantasy days. In the end, it was teammate Eric Decker who pulled in 8 balls for 133 yards. Thomas was doubled for much of the game, but he does have enough athletic ability to typically shake even the best defensive backs. I have struggled for much of the night trying to learn what happened and what went wrong. For now, I just see a horrible game by my #4 wide receiver.
Other Notable Bad Calls – The entire Giants’ offense (Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Martellus Bennett); Doug Martin; Danario Alexander (0 receptions on just 3 targets); Ryan Mathews (22 yards rushing and 8 yards receiving); and Jamaal Charles (9 carries for 10 yards).
Good Calls
My week was so bad (#67 on the “experts” accuracy ranking list vs the #21 spot from a week earlier) that I will credit myself with just one “good call” as I reflect on my portfolio. In reality, I should just reserve this section for when I make true good calls.
Stevie Johnson –I had Johnson ranked as my #20 wide receiver, which was 9 spots higher than the “Expert Consensus Rankings”. Jackson made me look good by torching Seattle’s secondary, albeit in garbage time for 133 yards and a touchdown on 8 receptions. There are many players who make a great name for themselves living on garbage time production (e.g., Carson Palmer).  Johnson played well throughout, but I cannot give him full credit for an excellent fantasy day as his TD came when the Bills were already down 31-7.
Joe Morgan – This is not the sexiest name in the fantasy football world, but I had him ranked as my #59 wide receiver for the week, which was 36 spots higher than the “Expert Consensus Rankings”. Morgan ended up catching one of Drew Brees’ four touchdown passes and 61 of Brees’ 307 yards, but over the past few weeks, Morgan has been targeted more and more as he and Brees have developed a nice rapport as a third and fourth option.
Kregg Lumpkin – Again, not a well-known fantasy football player, but I ranked Lumpkin as my #41 running back (a good 27 spots higher than my colleagues). I figured that David Wilson would get the workload, but I also knew that if Wilson struggled or made a mistake, Tom Coughlin would have no bones yanking the underperformer and putting in his backup. Lumpkin was given a chance early on, even with Wilson playing well, but Lumpkin ended up with a respectable 42 yards on 9 carries (4.7 yards per carry).
A 22-year fantasy sports veteran and a California and New York licensed corporate attorney by day, I am a fantasy sports analyst by night. Please feel free to contact me at any time on twitter @JakobMD with your fantasy sports questions. Be sure to listen to my podcast “Sports Counseling with the Doc and Slim” with my radio partner, Michael Clifford (aka @slimcliffy) on the Fantasy Trade 411 Radio Network.

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