Fantasy Fantasy Football: A Look at the Experts’ Week 1 Picks

“Don’t trust anyone.”

I’ve received that advice from more than a few of people in my life. My father would even add an extra “including me!” right before he snatched my allowance and raced to his car. It’s gotten to the point that I’m even suspicious of innocent conversations. These days, I choose to spend my time peering through the blinds of a window and scowling at strangers.

But there’s one thing even I can trust: numbers. Numbers never lie. They prepare you for life’s difficult decisions. For instance: When you’re thinking of dating someone, know the average length of his or her previous relationships. Before you agree to buy candy from an enterprising child, analyze the candy bar company’s expense reports to determine the real worth of the cause. If a friend needs help moving furniture, calculate the money you’d lose by volunteering, along with the probability of injury, and compare that to what you’d make staying home and selling an “antique” on eBay.

And friends, before you go adjusting your fantasy football roster on the advice of a man from the Internet, know his track record!

On that last topic, we’re here to help. Welcome to Fantasy Fantasy Football, where we determine which of our five featured experts deserve your greatest commodity: trust. Here’s the roster, with each guru’s Week 1 “Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em” columns linked:

We’ll be dividing the scoring into four categories: quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and defense/special teams. (To hell with tight ends!) The best advice from each category earns five points, the worst gets one. (The ESPN fantasy scoring leaders chart will be the official guide. Generally speaking, any pick that winds up in the top half of these rankings will be considered positive, and any pick that falls below is negative.) We’ll tally the overall score at the end.


Quarterbacks

5 points: Matthew Berry loved Michael Vick, Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, and Rex Grossman, and each came through with at least 17 points. He hated Josh Freeman, Eli Manning, and Kyle Orton, and again, he was on point. Each failed to top 14 points and was 18th or lower in the rankings. Great week on the QBs for Berry, whom I already want to crown the Peyton Manning of fantasy fantasy football.

4 points: Eric Mack made some positive sounds about Freeman (underwhelming), dissed Stafford (8th overall among QBs), issued a warning against Matt Cassel (bingo), talked up Matt Hasselbeck as a fringe QB (good call — he finished right in the middle of all QBs), stayed off Kerry Collins (thumbs up), gave his blessing to Eli (ouch), shied away from Donovan McNabb (correct), promoted Mark Sanchez (decent), and demoted Orton (wise). By my count, that’s 6-3 on the week. Solid work.

3 points: Jamey Eisenberg started Stafford, Orton, Freeman, Kevin Kolb, and Sanchez: 3/5. He sat Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco, McNabb, Sam Bradford, and Cassel. Again, 3/5, and 6/10 overall. Fair to middling.

2 points: Mike Harmon’s Week 1 Heroes included Kolb, Stafford, Orton, Freeman, Ryan, Manning, Sanchez, Bradford, and Cutler. Four of eight ended up in the top half of the leaderboard. Only two of his five flop alerts (Vick, Romo, Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, and Cassel) paid off. A coin flip week for Harmon, and we don’t need a computer to flip a coin (though we can use one in a pinch.)

1 point: Of the five quarterbacks Michael Fabiano urged readers to start, Matt Schaub, Freeman, Orton, and Manning all ended up on the wrong side of average. Only Sanchez managed to stay middle of the pack, but Fabiano did correctly identify Grossman as a sleeper. He was more effective at identifying the weak links, but he missed the boat on Flacco, Cutler, and Cam Newton. Of course, if I saw those dudes on a boat, I’d probably miss it, too.

Running Backs

5 points: Jamey Eisenberg started Jahvid Best, Mike Tolbert, Tim Hightower, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Brandon Jacobs. One great pick, two very good picks, one average, one very bad. He sat Ryan Grant, Daniel Thomas, Marshawn Lynch, Mark Ingram, and Felix Jones. Yeoman’s work on all except Jones. Eisenberg gets 8/10, and a gold star.

4 points: Six of Harmon’s Heroes were Ahmad Bradshaw, Hightower, Best, LeGarrette Blount, Matt Forte, and Jones. All but Blount were solid calls. Six of his Flops were Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice, Michael Turner, Lynch, Thomas, and Ingram. Big miss on Rice, not so hot on Turner, but the rest were good. 9-3. The Rice non-call keeps him out of first, a decision he’ll curse all week.

3 points: Eric Mack liked James Starks and Grant (good, so-so), disliked Ingram and Pierre Thomas (on the money), knew Ray Rice would light it up, missed on Mendenhall and Blount, hit on Best, thought the Chiefs backfield would be better than it was, overestimated Chris Johnson, undervalued Cedric Benson, wrongly joined the anti-Hightower chorus, hit a home run with Beanie Wells, and got it wrong with Jones and Knowshon Moreno. That’s 7-8 on the week. Also, if he hadn’t finished third, I might have put him there anyway because his picks are grouped by team rather than position. My life is hard enough, Mack!

2 points: Berry loved Green-Ellis, Hightower, and Willis McGahee, and hated Reggie Bush, Best, Jonathan Stewart, and Daniel Thomas. 3-4 overall, and that just ain’t gonna cut it with this elite group.

1 point: Fabiano went for Peyton Hillis, DeAngelo Williams, Blount, Moreno, Best, and Hightower. 2-4. He didn’t like Turner, Ryan Mathews, Rice, Jones, Lynch, and Grant. Call it 3-3, for 5-7 overall. And call it his second straight fifth place.

Receivers

5 points: Matthew Berry loved Wes Welker and Dez Bryant, and hated Mario Manningham, Mike Thomas, and Braylon Edwards. Small sample size, but he played it right: 5-0. That’s Berry’s second category win. He’s looking like a clear favorite at this point.

4 points: Eisenberg started Santana Moss, Kenny Britt, Nate Burleson, Percy Harvin, and Plaxico Burress. Huge call on Britt, but just 2-3 overall. He sat Austin Collie, Marques Colston, Chad Ochocinco, Hines Ward, and Mike Sims-Walker. Five for five! What a recovery! That could be huge, as he moves to 7-3 overall.

3 points: Fabiano started Holmes, Brandon Lloyd, Britt, Mike Williams, and Manningham. Nice work on Britt and Williams, and we’ll give him half credit each for Holmes and Britt. 3-2. He sat Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston, Sidney Rice, Jeremy Maclin, and Austin Collie. 4-1, for a 7-3 total. Because he needed half credit, he takes third instead of a tie for second. Appeals to generosity are frowned upon in a rough game like football.

2 points: Eric Mack sat Michael Crabtree and Rice (good instincts), liked Harvin (below average), whiffed on Steve Smith, the best receiver of the weekend, did well to promote both Miami receivers, was down on all three Packers receivers (only wrong on Jordy Nelson), hit on Robert Meachem, missed on Lance Moore, got it right with Boldin and Wallace, and missed on Maclin. The final record is 9-5, and he drops to fourth by mere percentage points. Mack goes out on a limb more than his colleagues, and it doesn’t necessarily help.

1 point: Harmon’s first four Heroes: Holmes, Manningham, Moss, Stevie Johnson. 1-3. The man has a ton of heroes, so I’m capping it at a level roughly equal to his flops. And those flops are: Sims-Walker, Rice, Harvin, Miles Austin. 3-1, 4-4 on the week.

Defense/Special Teams

5 points: Fabiano started the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, and Cleveland Browns. 2-2. He sat the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions. That’s 3-1, for 5-3 overall. That’s right, folks, he just went from worst to first! Fabulous Fabiano is back, baby. It’s possibly the greatest turnaround in fantasy fantasy football history.

3.5 points: Berry loved the Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans, and Houston Texans, and kindly kept his hate to himself. He is nothing if not a gentleman. After yet another small sample size, Berry finishes 2-1. By percentage, he should be tops, but this tie for second is punishment for a lack of volume. I’m getting the awful sense that he’s been gaming the system all along.

3.5 points: Eisenberg liked the 49ers defense, with the Browns, Titans, and Cardinals as sleepers. The Niners were the top defense in the league, but his sleepers more or less stayed asleep, remaining in the bottom half of the leaderboard. He sat the Cowboys against the New York Jets, but they ended up middle of the pack. We’ll call it 3-2.

2 points: Mack cautiously advised starting the Green Bay Packers (low finishers), liked the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers (split — Ravens were great, Steelers awful), rolled with the Cincinnati Bengals (top half, barely), nailed it with the Atlanta Falcons, missed on the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks, called league-best San Francisco a sleeper, thought the Chargers were promising (13th in Week 1), came up empty on the Cardinals, and knew to avoid the Miami Dolphins and Cowboys. That makes him 7-5. Again, it’s tough to put him fourth after that kind of ambition, but math is math. You’ll always be the people’s champ, Mack.

1 point: Harmon’s Heroes were Cleveland, San Diego, New England, Tennessee, and Denver. 2-3. His Flops were the Giants, Saints, Jets, and Cowboys. 3-1, for 5-4 overall. That’s two straight last-place finishes for Harmon, tying a record previously held by Michael “Feeble” Fabiano. (Hey, that’s what the people were calling him at the time. I’m just reporting the facts.)

The Results

We have a tie atop the leaderboard!

1. Eisenberg – 15.5
1. Berry – 15.5
3. Mack – 11
4. Fabiano – 10
5. Harmon – 8

So, for Week 2, tune your antennae to Eisenberg and Berry and start these men on your fantasy fantasy roster! They are dependable lead blockers en route to the end zone of success. As for Fabiano and Harmon, you may want to bench them. They have a history of strong results, but in fantasy fantasy football it’s always wise to ask what a man has done for you lately.

In other words, don’t trust anyone. Including me.


Follow Grantland on Twitter or check out Grantland’s Facebook page.

Read more of The Triangle, Grantland’s sports blog.

Contact us at triangle@grantland.com

Filed Under: Fantasy Football, Shane Ryan, Start Em Sit Em, Things On the Internet

headshot

Shane Ryan is a contributing writer for Grantland. His book about the young stars of the PGA Tour will be published by Random House in early 2015.

Archive @ ShaneRyanHere