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Off Tackle - Week 9
John Tuvey
November 3, 2010
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When you’re in eight leagues and your day job involves breaking down the fantasy prospects of every player for every game, it’s inevitable that football is never far from your mind. And since many of the same dilemmas I encounter are ones you the readers bump up against as well, I thought it might make sense to share some of my thought processes with you. There’s no rhyme or reason to the topics to be discussed here, other than at some point they popped into my head, kicking to the side lyrics from some obscure ‘80s song (“But I won’t cry for the wasted years/Cuz you ain’t worth the salt in my tears”) and commanding my attention.

The whole Randy Moss debacle in Minnesota has pushed the waiver wire into the spotlight. Personally, when it comes to fantasy football I’m firmly a FAAB guy—as in free agent acquisition budget. As in bidding on players rather than rewarding the worst team in your league with first crack at the best player.

The waiver wire smacks of the participatory trophy, of all the non-competitive namby-pambys who want everybody to get an A rather than reward those who earn them. The free agent acquisition budget, like the auction method of player dispersal, gives every team an equal shot at every player—so long as you don’t squander your budget. Shouldn’t we be teaching our children fiscal responsibility?

But enough politics. Election’s over, and we’re past the midpoint of the season. Time to make those final roster tweaks to fine-tune your lineup for the fantasy playoffs. And we’re talking FAAB because you may soon be facing a decision I faced last year: just how much of your remaining budget to throw at that last 15-plus carry-per-game back.

Last year it was right around this time that Leon Washington went down and it appeared as though Shonn Greene would be in line for double-digit carries on a regular basis. And as per usual, my team was receiver-heavy and cobbling together running backs. I had $76 of my $100 FAAB remaining, and I pushed all (okay, most) of my chips to the center on Greene with a $70 bid.

Unfortunately, Green didn’t do much for me down the stretch, but when I overpaid for him he definitely had the potential. But the question is, why $70? I didn’t arrive at that number lightly. In fact, there was some serious anguish over that amount capped with about a half-hour instant message discussion with DMD while I came to grips with parting with so much of my FAAB.

As it turns out that bid was, if I remember correctly, about $14 more than the next highest bid. But I picked that amount as a freeze-out in the blind bidding for a couple reasons. There were at least two other teams who needed a back as badly as I did, and both had similar dollar amounts remaining; I tried to gauge their desperation to guesstimate what they might bid. I also examined my roster to see how many other moves (at $1 each) I might need to make over the rest of the season.

Feel free to use a similar approach if you’re in one of the 30% or so of leagues (according to where LeGarrette Blount is still available. Or, you could opt to beat the rush and make an early—and significantly less expensive—play for a back with a less clear path to 15-plus touches, but just as much potential. Here’s a trio of backs who might fit that bill.

Keiland Williams, Redskins (available in 78% of leagues)

Ryan Torain left the Redskins’ loss to Detroit prior to halftime with a hamstring injury, and while Washington is on the bye this week and Torain’s MRI was negative for a tear we’re talking about a guy with an extensive injury history—not to mention a coach with a quick hook. Clinton Portis is still nursing a groin injury and is also iffy for the Redskins’ Week 10 return to action. Rolling with a Shanahan back is admittedly as confidence-inspiring as a trip through the drive-through, but if the injuries to Torain and Portis linger—hardly a stretch—that leaves Williams to handle a relatively favorable schedule against running backs following this week’s bye. Unless, of course, Shanny places a call to Mike Anderson. Or Olandis Gary.

Kevin Smith, Lions (available in 80% of leagues)

Smith saw a surprising spike in touches last week, receiving almost as many as Jahvid Best despite the rookie’s claim that he’s almost over his toe injury. Smith, meanwhile is roughly one year removed from the knee injury that prematurely ended his 2009 campaign and didn’t look half bad against the Redskins. And Best’s injury history suggests that as soon as he’s past this toe malady another one is right around the corner. And while Detroit’s finishing slate is middle of the road, there are some definite helpers out there—including the Bucs in what is the fantasy semifinals (Week 15) in most leagues.

Tashard Choice, Cowboys (available in 80% of leagues)

It can’t get much worse for the Cowboys, and specifically their running game. If you thought Felix Jones and Marion Barber were laying eggs now, how about the next two weeks when they play at Green Bay and at the Giants—two teams who rank in the bottom eight in fantasy points allowed to running backs? Always the forward thinker, Huddle grand poohbah David Dorey has a vision of the Cowboys’ future—and Choice is heavily involved. If you have a roster spot and could use a back who, from Week 11 through Week 16 has the easiest schedule in the league against the run—with zero stoppers along the way and the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16—beat the rush and add Choice now.

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Free Agent Forecast
Commentary from the Edge
Tuesday Injury Report
Under the Numbers
Fantasy Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
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