Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

FitzgeraldLar04.jpg

» Scramble for the Ball: The DVOA Schism

Mike and Tom try to figure out what kind of secret sauce Arizona is feeding the media to sit at the top of the power rankings and in the middle of our DVOA rankings.

Loser League 2007

by Aaron Schatz

Welcome back to the Fourth Annual Football Outsiders Loser League Contest, the contest so good The Onion ripped us off.. For those of you just joining us, the Loser League is a fantasy league, but not like one you've played before. Instead of trying to put together a team of the best performers every week, you are trying to compile a roster of the worst. It's one of the few leagues in America where Minnesota wide receivers are regularly drafted in the first round.

A group of us started doing the Loser League amongst ourselves before Football Outsiders ever started. We'd draft a new team of players weekly, since the players you've drafted in Week 1 would hopefully be so bad that they'd be out of a job by mid-season. After writing about our weekly league during the website's first year, our readers wrote us in droves trying to get in on the action.

By popular demand, we developed a contest to allow our readers to share in the joy of owning Ike Hilliard and Justin Medlock. Based loosely on the annual HACKING MASS contest run by our partners at Baseball Prospectus, the object is to pick a roster of players who will put up the fewest fantasy points. Unfortunately, we can't have a snake draft each week with all the Football Outsiders readers, so we split the season into two contests so that you aren't penalized later in the year by guessing correctly that a player will be terrible in the first half of the year. One contest will run from Weeks 1 to 9, while the second half contest will run over Weeks 10 to 17. The team that you select at the beginning of each contest is yours to keep throughout the eight or nine weeks the contest runs.

(Of course, you can still run a Loser League over e-mail with your friends, re-drafting every week like we do. You'll find a few more rules to help you do that here.)

Now, you may be saying to yourself, "Self, this sounds easy. I'll just draft fourth-string running backs and emergency quarterbacks and I'll be a lock to win. They won't put up any points!" And you'd be right to think that. Except we've designed the league so that people lame enough to employ such a tactic aren't guaranteed to win.

You have to draft players that are expected to play in a game, or you'll incur a hefty penalty for that week. For each quarterback that attempts fewer than ten passes, running back that rushes fewer than eight times, or wide receiver that catches fewer than two passes, you're penalized 15 points. A team made up of Jared Lorenzen, Kolby Smith, Lorenzo Neal, Sean Morey, Martin Nance, and your favorite Gramatica brother may be a lock for zero fantasy points every week, but in this contest they'll likely score 90 points because of their complete lack of passes, carries, receptions, or kicks.

Here are the full scoring rules:

  • 1 point for each 20 yards passing
  • 1 point for each 10 yards rushing
  • 1 point for each 10 yards receiving
  • 4 points for each passing TD
  • 6 points for each rushing or receiving TD
  • 2 points for each 2 pt. conversion, passing, rushing, or receiving
  • -2 points for each fumble or interception
  • 3 points for each field goal made
  • 1 point for each extra point made
  • -2 points for each missed field goal
  • -5 points for each missed extra point

Penalties:

  • 15 points for any QB who has fewer than 10 passing attempts in a game
  • 15 points for any RB who has fewer than 8 rushing attempts in a game
  • 15 points for any WR who catches fewer than 2 receptions in a game
  • 15 points for any K who makes no attempts because he's been benched for another K

(Note: You only incur a kicker penalty if another kicker on that team makes an attempt and the selected kicker does not. If a kicker's team makes no attempts in a game, there is no penalty. Kicker penalties are one of the world's greatest evils.)

Each team will select their roster for Weeks 1-9 by Wednesday night, September 5. (Secret hint: You can get in under the wire Thursday morning if you pick your team before whatever time we remember to close the contest before the Saints-Colts game.) Your roster will consist of 2 QB, 3 RB, 3 WR, and 2 K. The highest scorer at each position gets thrown out each week (remember, we're aiming for the lowest score here). You'll end up getting credit for 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR and 1 K every week. This also won't keep one injury at a position, or a bye week, from destroying an otherwise perfectly crappy loser team since you can't make changes to your roster once it's submitted. Only one team per person, please.

This year, the winner of each half of the contest will get a free copy of next year's 2008 KUBIAK fantasy football projections downloadable spreadsheet, guaranteed to have even more cool stuff in it than this year's KUBIAK spreadsheet. We'll update the full standings every week on the website and highlight some of the best performers each week in Scramble for the Ball.

Need help drafting your team? Here are some folks that I like for the first half of the year:

QB: The name that probably stands out to you here is Tarvaris Jackson, but before you check that box, take a step back and think about it. We know that Jackson will not have good passing numbers, but the Loser League is based on fantasy football stats, not DVOA stats. Every time that pocket collapses, Jackson is going to run with it, and those points count.

The three worst quarterbacks in 2006 Loser League Part II no longer have starting jobs (Carr, Gradkowski, and Brooks) so let's look at the next three. I see no reason to believe that Rex Grossman, Eli Manning, or Trent Green will be any better this year than they were last year. Another good pick would be Charlie Frye, but how sure can you be that Frye will be the starting quarterback in Cleveland all the way through Week 9? There's a reason that I've left the projected starter listed in KUBIAK as Brady Quinn, no matter what Romeo Crennel says in the preseason.

A dark horse among this year's new starting quarterbacks would be Matt Schaub. Perhaps he is better than David Carr -- the jury is still out on that one -- but he's playing in the same Gary Kubiak offense based on quick hitches and three-yard slant patterns, he still has only one dependable receiver (Andre Johnson), and he still is behind the Houston offensive line. As a bonus, he won't scramble as much as Carr did, so there will be fewer rushing yards.

RB: Your ideal RB candidate will get 8-12 carries a game, every game. That usually means the slightly lesser half of a running back by committee. Unfortunately, going into the season it's always awfully tough to guess at who that will be. It's also interesting to note that it seems like there are fewer teams going into this season with committee situations, whether because of maturing youngsters (New England, Indianapolis) or because injuries struck part of the committee (Green Bay).

The best bet is to find starting running backs in poor offenses that will most likely get at least eight carries a game. No one fits this description better than first ballot Loser League Hall of Famer DeShaun Foster. The Panthers have decided yet again that Foster is the starter, not a member of a committee with DeAngelo Williams, so you know he's getting his carries each week. Last year, Foster set his all-time career high in touchdowns ... with three.

Another starting running back in a poor offense has a better chance at the actual Hall of Fame than the Loser League Hall of Fame -- but not in 2006 or 2007. Edgerrin James was the best Loser League running back in Part I of last year's contest. He scored more points in Part II, but still only topped a dozen points in a week twice. Edge shouldn't feel bad... Curtis Martin had a year where he was the standout Loser League running back too.

If you are looking for a committee back who may struggle, Warrick Dunn definitely has very little tread left on his tires. LaMont Jordan may be a better Part II pick than Part I pick, since he won't have Dominic Rhodes taking away carries in the first few weeks of the season. But the identity of the committee back who was the best running back in 2006 Loser League Part II may surprise you: Julius Jones. Plenty of carries + no red-zone looks = Loser League MVP. Jones' scores from Week 10-17 of last year went 4, 9, 4, 3, 18, 2, 4, 2. That's some good losin'.

WR: The key to a championship caliber Loser League franchise is your wide receivers. It is also the toughest position to pick. This is the position where you stand the best chance of putting up consistently low numbers every week. You want your two wide receivers to combine for under ten points a week. What you want to look for are number-two or number-three wide receivers on bad offenses, or receivers that are in decent offenses but don't get looks in the red zone.

When it comes to Loser League greatness, nobody can hold a candle to Peerless Price. In his two years in Atlanta, Price had 13 games in which he scored three or fewer points while only scoring six touchdowns. Last year, Price pulled the penalty three times, but in his 13 other games he never had more than 10 points. The man put up lines like two catches, 12 yards; three catches, 10 yards; and three catches, 13 yards. Now, that's a loser! The one worry this year is that Roscoe Parrish might start, which increases the chance Price will pull the penalty more often.

A team with a big mess of underachieving wide receivers is a good team to use for Loser League wide receivers. The ball gets spread around plenty; it's just a question of making sure you don't get the guy who ends up scoring touchdowns. Stay away from the designated deep threat, who will have more games with only one catch and more games with touchdowns. Take Bobby Wade, not Troy Williamson; Ernest Wilford, not Dennis Northcutt; Eric Moulds, not... wait a minute, who is the deep threat in Tennessee, anyway?

"Possession receiver" is the word of the day, here. Well, two words, I guess. The Patriots love Wes Welker, but he sure looks like a Loser League special, guaranteed to get at least two catches every week with very few touchdowns. Also worth your time: Michael Jenkins, Bobby Engram, Marty Booker, and always, always Ike Hilliard.

K: Neil Rackers used to be a guaranteed first round pick in our weekly Loser League draft back when he was a Bengal. Oh, how times have changed.

When you look for a Loser League kicker, you are looking for two things: low field-goal accuracy and/or a low scoring offense. After the research we did on field-goal percentage from season to season, the latter is more important than the former. That means just looking at the worst kickers as projected by KUBIAK: Sebastian Janikowski, Jay Feely, Justin Medlock, Kris Brown. It's also good to find guys in cold weather, but that's not really an issue until Part II of the contest starts in Week 10.

When you pick your team, you'll see that three teams have two kickers listed, and if you pick one of those teams, you will get whichever kicker wins the job. Rookies do generally struggle, and they are given fewer opportunities by their coaches, so it may be worth taking a gamble that the kickers in Green Bay, Dallas, and New York will be Mason Crosby, Nick Folk, and Josh Huston.

Click here to begin, and good luck in losin'!

Comments

1
by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/01/2007 - 12:06am

Whatever you say, Aaron. I'm still not picking a roster until the Browns name a QB.

2
by footballprofessor (not verified) :: Sat, 09/01/2007 - 1:09am

"Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Self..."

I'm pretty sure I used that exact phrase in one of my high school term papers, and was docked appropriately. Good times.

3
by J.R. (not verified) :: Sat, 09/01/2007 - 1:21am

I went with Culpepper for one QB. Doesn't seem like he will lose job really. I mean Josh McCown played reciever for the Lions. Russell isn't playing either.

4
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Sat, 09/01/2007 - 5:37am

Next year the loser league should be more competitive and we can have a "loser league auto draft". That way I can spend 2 hours ranking all the players on Yahoo, only to have Yahoo ignore my rankings and go for the shitty defaults... #6 pick and I got Peyton Manning, Willie Parker and Clinton Portis, also Cadillac Williams even though I had Manning ranked at 11 so I specifically wouldn't draft him in the first round, and was trying to get 2 stud RBs, and maybe 3 if people were sleeping. WRs are no better... the New York double-team of Plaxico Burress and Laverneous Coles... whoopdee fleeping do... so glad I ventured into the world of Yahoo fantasy sports... did I mention it ended up giving me 2 crap defenses and not one of the kickers I wanted?

Good times, good times...

Here's my loser league team:
QB: Joey Harrington
QB: Rex Grossman
RB: Reuben Droughns
RB: LaMont Jordan
RB: Cadillac Williams
WR: Derrick Mason
WR: Laveranues Coles
WR: Reggie Brown
K : Billy Cundiff
K : Rob Bironas

WRs are really the hardest ones to pick... but I figure Grossman and Harrington is a freakin' stud lineup at QB. I think Reggie Brown could be a mistake... probably could've gambled on Jason Avant... yup, I doubt I'm gonna win again, but it's always fun. You'll note 2 of my loser league picks ended up in my botched Yahoo fantasy draft... I'm doing a live-draft tommorrow morning so hopefully I can assemble a killer fantasy football team... I know why MDS hates fantasy football already, it's too damn annoying... why should you have to worry about bye weeks and such?

Loser league rules!

5
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Sat, 09/01/2007 - 2:07pm

re4

You going to be very sorry using L Jordan. L Jordan not going to be bum this year. Raiders line improved due to new coaching staff. Offense more deadly, better passing, better coaching. L Jordan healthy again. He should run for like 1200 yards.

6
by RobM (not verified) :: Sat, 09/01/2007 - 7:17pm

Here's who I went with:

QB: David Garrard
QB: Trent Green
RB: Vernand Morency
RB: Ahman Green
RB: LenDale White
WR: Reggie Brown
WR: Drew Bennett
WR: Courtney Roby
K : Justin Medlock
K : Jay Feely

Is Reggie Brown the new Ike Hilliard?

7
by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/01/2007 - 8:02pm

All the talk in Philly is that Brown is primed for a break-out season. Of course, he disappeared in the preseason, but the Eagles will likely get less production from the TEs and with Curtis forcing teams to pay attention, Brown could benefit. At least this what I tell myself.

8
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Sun, 09/02/2007 - 2:13am

re6

Smart guy. Has no Raiders on team. Remember people in Loser league you want bad players. So no point in having Raiders on tean. Raiders O to be good this year. No rreaason team can't beat Lions by 30 points next week. Regular season Get here already.

My lose rleague picks-

qb- D huard
qb- J Kitba
rb- T Bell
rb- T Jones
Rb- M Lynch
Wr- A battle
WR- B Marshall
WR- M, Furrey
K- Lions guy
K- L Tynes

9
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Sun, 09/02/2007 - 2:16am

wait, Tynes on giants now. i forgot. Sports Illsutrated says Justin Medlock new Cheefs kicker. so justin Medlock my other kicker pick Lions one other one oh SI says Jason Hanosn Lions K. He sitll kicks? Who knew?

10
by Ted Reamus (not verified) :: Sun, 09/02/2007 - 2:23am

Hanson is still in the NFL? I thought he jumped ship back to the XFL where his career started... wow, blew over my head... oh and my teams would be like this...

QB: T. Dilfer
QB: D. Flutie
HB: Mugelli
HB: Kimbal Anders
WR: Issac Holt
WR: A. Van Dyke
WR: Dre' Bly
K: John Hall
K: Jeff Feagles

11
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Sun, 09/02/2007 - 2:27am

Dre Bly is not WR. He is cb on Broncos. going to be exposed by Raiders receivers. C Bailey had trouble with J Porter in snow game of 2004. Said Porter toughest receiver to cover. Bly get R Curry. Going to be major problem for Bly. Raiders go at least 1-1 against Broncos, maybe 2-0. Definitely finish ahead of broncos in AFC West

12
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Sun, 09/02/2007 - 2:41am

Sports Illustarted says Raiders go 4-12. I want to know what they smoke in SI office. Only Lions (4-12) and Falcons (3-13) get worse predicions. SCout says L Jordan can still be great. I been saying that all year.
Scout also says Jamarcus Russell should have been signed. Big deal. He was going to sit and watch games anyway. Raiders plan is to sit him like Bengals did with C Plamer when he was rookie. So now J Russell sit in box and watch game with Al Davis insteaed of sitting on bench during game.
Raiders can take time signing him (might sign him before next weekend) and he can sit whole year. Will start in 2008 and will be good. Will have great impact as rookie just like Ben Roehtlisberfer.
Best thing about Raiders article is ad on other page. Evan Williams ad show old black and white photo- not good. That part of ad like KC Chiefs. Other part of ad has amazing woman. That woman is like Raiders.

Raiders HC L Kiffin probably going to show this article and prediction to team as bulletin board material. Now ay Raiders go 4-12.

13
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Sun, 09/02/2007 - 2:13pm

Did Billy Cundiff just get cut? Dammit, there goes my loser team.

14
by Dwight Cans (not verified) :: Sun, 09/02/2007 - 2:52pm

Re: Raiderjoe

He responded to post 10 like it was a serious post! That is unbelievable.

15
by A for Anonymous (not verified) :: Sun, 09/02/2007 - 3:10pm

wait...

if Russell is in the box on gameday or the bench his whole rookie season...
yet he still has the great "Roehtlisberfer" impact his rookie season...

does he finally convince Al Davis to sell the franchise?

16
by A for Anonymous (not verified) :: Sun, 09/02/2007 - 3:11pm

15
I forgot to put the "Re: Raiderjoe #12" in there

17
by Theo, Holland (not verified) :: Mon, 09/03/2007 - 6:54am

Re 11.
Raiders go at least 1-1 against Broncos, maybe 2-0.

Dude! The Raiders and Broncos play american football in the NFL, not soccer in the MLS.
1-1 and 2-0 are normal scores in soccer, in american football 21-17 is more likely.
The Raiders would end up higher in the MLS than in the AFC.

18
by elhondo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/03/2007 - 9:33am

I wish we could get raiderjoe would join the loser league, with his actual fantasy team roster.

19
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 09/03/2007 - 1:18pm

17: To defend Raiderjoe, I think that he meant that the Raiders would win one game and lose one game against the Broncos and that they could possibly win both. I don't think he was predicting the scoreline. He's still wrong but he does at least make sense.

20
by Theo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/03/2007 - 1:39pm

19. Meet 14. 14, 19.

21
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 09/03/2007 - 2:15pm

Fellow Redskin fans think too much alike... so what happens to those of us who got Billy Cundiff? I take it that means we'll just pick up whoever won the competition from him...

22
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 09/03/2007 - 9:40pm

20: That is the problem with trying to be sarcastic online. However, looking at your post again I still don't see how it was funny. You might find it easier if what you say is actually a joke in any way, shape or form.

23
by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 09/03/2007 - 10:14pm

Here's my squad:

The Guy Whimpers
QB: Trent Green
QB: Tavaris Jackson
RB: Marshawn Lynch
RB: DeShaun Foster
RB: Ahman Green
WR: Kevin Walter
WR: Marty Booker
WR: Justin McCareins
K : Justin Medlock
K : Sebastian Janikowski

I'm gambling that Trent Green will stay conscious for 9 weeks. There's a risk that Lynch won't suck, but I'm betting on some rookie jitters, A-Train getting more carries than some expect, and a poor D & tough schedule leading to few carries in the 2nd half. I had to look up who Kevin Walter was, but when I saw "Houston Texans #2 WR," I was sold.

24
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Tue, 09/04/2007 - 1:10am

Ok, THIS is the year I will place well. Right? Right?

25
by starzero (not verified) :: Wed, 09/05/2007 - 12:10pm

does chris chambers still play? i had him on my real fantasy team last year and he just killed me. week in-week out he was terrible. worse even than my qb's: rexypie, who somehow managed a -5 one week, and carr, who was only good when he got way behind. evil rex is the loser league king.

26
by JPS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/05/2007 - 1:53pm

Here is mine.

QB B. Roethlisberger
QB R. Grossman
RB R. Brown
RB A. Green
RB J. Lewis
WR M. Jenkins
WR S. Parker
WR M. Booker
K S. Janikowski
K New York Jets

I think that Ben is overrated QB. His number will be low whether he has a good season or not--he is to be there to manage the game, not to win for the team. Rex is... well Rex. I heard that Ronnie may not get enough touches this year because of other RB--sounds like RB in committee in Miami. I think that Green and Lewis will be the primary RB for their teams, but their production will be low. WR... well, I picked based on last year's production along with the QB that they have. I don't know much about kickers....

27
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 09/06/2007 - 1:47pm

oops. was exhausted last night, so for the first time ever, I missed Loser League sign-up

28
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Thu, 09/06/2007 - 5:38pm

Aww.. too bad Sid. Don't see you on the boards as much nowadays. Course, neither am I.

Wonder when we'll get to see our teams up?

29
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 09/06/2007 - 5:43pm

I don't have nearly as much time now as I did back when I first found the site in late 2003. Oh well. :(

30
by JPS (not verified) :: Thu, 09/13/2007 - 3:19pm

Yay.... I am at 2nd place (tie). I just realized one of the problems in my draft (other than Ben is doing way better than I thought on those TDs, but again... he is still managing the games). My WRs Jenkins and Parker have same bye week (week 8). :-( That's guarantee 15 points. Yuck!

Aaron,
Question for Part II draft... if RB catches like 5-7, but has 1+ reception, should each reception considered to be like 3-4 carries for RB? I mean.... Bush (not that I will ever draft him for loser league although he didn't do well at all on first week) last year has less than 8 carries, but has half dozens of receptions. Let us know about the rule. Thanks!