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02 Nov 2011

Scramble for the Ball: Comebackery

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz


Mike: By now, everyone is familiar with the Saga of Tim Tebow: 45-55 minutes of putridity followed by mere mediocrity. That mediocrity did result in a win two weeks ago, so a miserable game is magically turned into an inspiring comeback victory.

Tom: Because everybody knows it's way better to be super-awesome the last 10 minutes of the game and win than be super-awesome the first 10 minutes of a game and build a lead that your team keeps for the rest of the game.

Mike: The next week, a similar pattern emerges, but instead of a victory, the Broncos pull defeat, and Tebow is thoroughly panned despite an eerily similar performance. Much more telling, however, is this past week's Ravens-Cardinals game. The Ravens were being absolutely slaughtered by one of the worst teams in the league, but in the second half, Anquan Boldin catches fire and the Ravens eke out a close victory. Again, against one of the worst teams in the league. This performance is hailed as a gritty show of mettle, and Joe Flacco, like Tebow, is lionized, despite a putrid first-half performance. I could sit here and give examples until we're blue in the face, like the absurd situation where John Elway is measured not by his incredible success in all metrics, but because he had a large number of victories where his team was losing at some arbitrary point in time, but there's no need to belabor the point; Football fans are obsessed with comebacks.

Tom: It's the power of narrativity.

Mike: Narrative is part of it, but I'm not buying that it is the complete picture. The Arizona meltdown this week reminded me of another Arizona meltdown, where somebody let someone else off the hook, despite the other party being who they thought they were.

Tom: Rex Grossman Just Wins (when his defense and special teams can score all the points for him).

Mike: But that wasn't it. Everyone was talking about Arizona's epic collapse. Grossman wasn't the savior, he was (at that point) just a quarterback who did enough to win. There was no lionization, only mockery of an inept Arizona squad. Clearly, just staging a comeback is not enough to become the narrative's darling.

Tom: Which I think is just more narrativity, only this time it's the emphasis of offensive scoring. The Bears' comeback came on defense and special teams, which are more the other team's fault.

Mike: I think that's way too simple an answer, in addition to simply disagreeing. Defense feeds into the narrative just as well, often more, when there are a ton of turnovers involved. There is just something special about comebacks. We'll call it Captain Kirk Syndrome: We have a hero, we know he's great, but he's getting beaten up. We see he's losing, but in our heart of hearts we know he is the superior man and cannot conceive of a universe in which our hero fails. This dovetails nicely into the American aversion to dramatic tragedy, but that's a conversation for another time. More relevant is that we know that our hero must eventually prevail. The Ravens had that in spades this week, and the Bears of yesteryear did not. Tebow is an interesting case, but I'm inclined to say his personal popularity and newness put him in the former category, at least for one week.

Tom: I'm not really meshing this storyline real well with what I've seen of Flacco this year.

Mike: It's not about Flacco, though, and that's my point. It's not a rational analysis of the teams. We "know" the Ravens are great, so even though they're getting curb-stomped by a bunch of losers, we expect them to come back from any deficit.

Tom: Flacco is capable of melting down and playing horribly. Elway was the comeback legend, the guy you knew was capable of a sustained stretch of above-average play despite what had happened earlier in the game. Comebacks are a useful narrative framing device, but I only like them to the extent they reflect actual inflection points in something that happened on the field. For example, the Titans came back to beat the Ravens in 2008 in a regular season game in Baltimore. Their comeback started when one of the Ravens corners went out and Frank Walker came in as a replacement. That was not a coincidence. That's a comeback that's not just narrative. The comeback story strikes me as mostly pretty silly exercises in narrative.

Is there something in Tebow's game, or what the Broncos do offensively, that really changes in the fourth quarter? Or is it just the semi-random hot streak you might see that for whatever reason happens to show up in the fourth quarter in two consecutive games?

Mike: But you just said that Elway had valid comeback skills!

Tom: Elway was a very good player who could put together a sustained stretch of very good play. That could come in the second quarter as easily in the fourth quarter. Unless you accept the idea that Dan Reeves shackled the offense except when trailing in the fourth quarter, in which case the comeback isn't just narrative.

Mike: I'd actually be interested to see the second vs fourth-quarter stats on Elway.

Tom: Unfortunately, I don't think we yet have play-by-play data for his career.

Mike: Yes, too much of it is missing, sitting in some poorly formatted and non-machine-scannable gamebook somewhere.

Tom: On a related note, I've been remiss not to mention thus far the work on comebacks done by Scott Kacsmar written up at Pro Football Reference. Thanks to Scott, we at least have great lists of the comeback and game-winning drives for quarterbacks like Elway. Another thing that I think about is that the second and fourth tend to be the "longest" quarters. Well, the fourth sometimes is a "long" quarter, sometimes a "short" quarter, depending on which team has the ball and what they're doing.

One thing that I think drives the comeback narrative is that a team trailing in the fourth quarter generally takes the opportunity to do a lot to maximize their chance to win by speeding up and running more plays. Even if the quarterback is only marginally more productive, he may end up with more opportunity to do more and thus appear a lot better for your narrative.

Mike: I think it's far more visceral than you're letting on, based more our opinion of the team and the result the team receives than any coherent, rational process. People aren't looking at stats to find the source of the comeback magic. All they care about is the victory, and how that victory fits their preconceptions.

Tom: Aren't we back to Guts and Stomps?

Mike: Not really. A good team playing a bad team close doesn't get the same kind of credit it would if it were down big and came back.

Tom: Baltimore didn't even get a Gut, they got a Skate, but they're being rewarded for it like it was a Stomp because it's the mystical "comeback." It's a Skate, sure, but it's a "more valuable" Skate because of their "will to win" or whatever it is that give teams the comeback narratives.

Mike: That's just mixing analytical frameworks. Well, an analytical framework with a narrative. I'm not sure it's helpful to look at what seems to be primarily a psychological effect within the context of an analytical framework.

Tom: The real psychological effect is something like the endowment effect, where fans internalize their team's in-game win probability, and the comeback is valued because it's a reversal of that expectation of losing.

Mike: This is primarily a construct of the media, however. Perhaps the media is simply packaging games in a way they think will be easily digestible by their audience, but the internet is alight with people who are neither Broncos fans nor Ravens fans, accepting the narrative. There is very little internalization, just reaction.

Fantasy Football Update

Tom: Guess what? For I believe the sixth time in eight weeks, my team in one league was involved in the matchup with the league's high score for that week. Drew Brees may have had a mediocre game by his standards, but LeSean McCoy's great game and strong performances by Anquan Boldin and Richard Marshall, among others, put me over the top.

Mike: Brees had a pretty mediocre game by anyone's standards.

Tom: We get points per completion, so he actually outscored my opponent's quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, even with a big penalty for interceptions.

Mike: True, I guess he had a decent game if your league is insane.

Tom: Insanely awesome. Maybe it's just because my team is really good, but I like these settings. They feel like real football. Quarterbacks are way more valuable than other players, and IDPs aren't worse than non-quarterback offensive skill position players.

Mike: Points per reception and completions really have no comparison to football. If you want quarterbacks to be more important, than give them more favorable yardage scoring or touchdowns. 50 completions for not-first-downs would be fantastic in your league but insta-cut on a real team.

Tom: I'm not defending the mechanics of the settings, only the results.

Mike: All right.

Tom: Unfortunately, I think I'm pretty much sunk with my other team, as I again put up a below-average score and lost. Bye week fill-ins Curtis Painter, Heath Miller, and Kansas City D/ST put up decent scores, but my regular players all disappointed. None of Miles Austin, Stevie Johnson, or Ryan Mathews lived up to expectations. I'm now tied for seventh in a ten-team league, two games out of the playoffs.

Mike: Ouch. I dominated both leagues this week, despite Brees' generally miserable day.

Tom: Excellent.

Mike: Robert Meachem and Jermaine Gresham were duds, but they're not my starters, anyway. Aside from them, the only disappointment was Vincent Jackson. Steven Jackson and Ray Rice had huge days, negating my opponent's duo of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.

Tom: Meachem unfortunately makes an appearance later in today's column.

Mike: I'm willing to bet everyone knows where! The other league was basically a laugher, despite my opponent (somehow also) having Calvin Johnson. No roster spot had fewer than 10 points, including my IDP (Jared Allen) with 12. The end result was a 148.20-80.84 clobbering.

Tom: You know what? The team that beat me also had Calvin Johnson!


FO Staff League Update

That's Great Hustle! (Sean, 5-1) 107 def. Intentional Rounding (Danny, 3-5) 67

Just as Danny's team (yes, yes, we know, it's an autodraft) started crawling back towards respectability, it hits a Ray Rice-shaped brick wall. Reinforced by a three-inch thick sheet of Matthew Stafford. Throw in Calvin Johnson and Sean's top three slots outperformed Danny's entire team, even with Michael Vick's 24 points.

Equipo del Jefe (Aaron, 3-3) 122 def. Reverse Jinxes (Elias, 6-2) 115

This was largely a slugfest between exceptional games by running backs. While Elias had a slight edge with Steven Jackson (30 points) and Fred Jackson (19) against LeSean McCoy (31) and Maurice Jones-Drew (13), the Jefes just had too much production across the board for the Jinxes to keep up.

Dyscalculia Plus Ones (Will, 6-1) 99 def. Los Pollos Hermanos (Rob, 2-4) 80

Wait, Will is 6-1? How did that happen? Isn't there some kind of rule against that? Rob probably missed Aaron Rodgers, despite a decent game by Ryan Fitzpatrick, and definitely missed Roddy White, but he had no business being in this game in the first place. Aside from Fitzpatrick (14 points) and Lions DST (a whopping 28 points), no other roster spot had more than seven points to show. The DPOs were, by a small margin, the weakest victors this week. It took a pretty huge game from Bengals DST, but they still easily surpassed El Hermanos.

Edmonton Eulers (Tanier, 2-4) 102 def. Parts Unknown Mufflers (Ben, 0-6) 56

Yes, Ben has still yet to win a game, even against the second-worst team in the league. To be fair, the Eulers had a good game despite the loss of Matt Forte and Bears DST, but it's hard to be fair because the Mufflers are just so bad.


Maybe the favorite commercial we’ve covered in this column concerned Jake Delhomme’s delivery of Biscuit Justice. Well, we weren’t the only ones who appreciated what Delhomme did in Carolina for Bojangles.

Unknown soul on the internet, your Scramble writers thank you.

Loser League Update

KICKER: If Mike Shanahan were really wrathful, Graham Gano and his -2 points would be getting the boot this week for giving the Ultimate Leader his first shutout as an NFL coach by missing a field goal.

WIDE RECEIVER: Robert Meachem and Golden Tate combined for four catches for 23 yards for 1 point each. Volunteer doughnuts all around!

RUNNING BACK: This week's loser on ... Wheel ... of ... Shanahan? Ryan Torain, eight carries for 14 yards and 1 point. Even better news? The Redskins grabbed Tashard Choice off waivers, so the wheel is now back to its normal complement of three players.

QUARTERBACK: A disappointingly good week for quarterbacks, as even players who struggled still had decent fantasy games. Your low player is the ineligible Blaine Gabbert with 5 points, while your low man is the sack master himself, John Beck with a still pretty good 7 points.


KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: We were tempted to give this to Tim Tebow because, well, "Come on – that’s your quarterback? Seriously?" Really, though, Tim Tebow is starting because John Fox is starting him, and we mentioned Fox in last week's awards section. Instead, kudos to John Beck and the Washington Redskins offensive line, who only allowed the Buffalo Bills on Sunday to register more than twice as many sacks as they'd had in all of the previous games put together.

MIKE MARTZ AWARD: It takes a finer mind than your Scramble writers possess to come up with a coherent theory of risk from Pete Carroll's decisions Sunday. While trailing 17-3, he went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Bengals' 3-yard line with 14 seconds to play in the first half, then while still down 17-3, he punted on fourth-and-4 from the Bengals 36-yard line with 8:03 to play in the third quarter. Then, just for good measure, he kicked a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the Bengals 7-yard line with :08 to play in the third quarter, while still down 14 points. Carroll also twice inserted and removed both Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.

COLBERT AWARD: In any given game, an NFL team may throw passes to a couple wide receivers, a tight end or two, and maybe a couple backs out of the backfield, and that'd be enough. Not for Jim Harbaugh, not Sunday, as the 49ers completed passes to wide receivers Braylon Edwards and Michael Crabtree, tight ends Vernon Davis and Justin Peelle, and left tackle Joe Staley and defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga. And, yes, Staley and Sopoaga's receptions both gained more yardage than Edwards' longest grab of the day.

Scramble Mailbag

alexbond: I am considering starting Tebow. My options are Ben Roethlisberger vs Ravens or Tebow vs Raiders. Roethlisberger is of course the superior player of the two but Ravens is a real tough matchup. Whereas the Raiders D sucks versus QBs, and despite Tebow's real life suckiness, he's actually put up decent fantasy numbers with all the running. And he can't really be worse than last week, right? Or do I give up on both these two and surf the waivers for an Alex Smith or Andy Dalton type guy?

Mike: The Ravens' passing defense is still pretty bad. It would have to be really, really good to even consider starting Tebow. Seriously, what is wrong with you?

Tom: The Ravens are No. 1 in DVOA by a good margin, third in yards allowed, and first in yards per attempt.

Mike: Yes, and they've played .... the Steelers, in one of their worst games in a decade. The only other serious passing offense they have faced was Houston minus Andre Johnson. The rest of the schedule has been a parade of passing ineptness: Tennessee, St. Louis, the New York Football Jets, Jacksonville and Arizona.

Tom: The premium DVOA database isn't updated with Week 8 as of this writing, but the Ravens have put up a Pass Defense DVOA well negative every week except the game against the Titans. The Raiders are below-average in DVOA, middle of the pack in YPA, and teams pass the ball against them a lot. Tebow clearly has a much better matchup.

Mike: They have a high DVOA because their mediocre-to-bad secondary hasn't been tested. I'm not saying DVOA is junk, I'm saying that it's hard to get an accurate read, statistically, on a defense that has played so many soft offenses.

Tom: We'll just agree to disagree on the Ravens' pass defense. But the Raiders' defensive line has been playing great this year, and it's not likely Denver will see the garbage time where Tebow accumulated his fantasy value against the Lions last week. Play Roethlisberger despite the matchup.

Mike: There is absolutely no reason to play Tebow in any situation, regardless of matchup, so unless you can find Dalton on waivers, this is a no-brainer.

Tom: I'd even play him over Dalton.

Mike: I think it's a closer race, but I agree

0tarin: My current WR collection includes Nate Washington, Antonio Brown, Andre Johnson, and Robert Meachem. I get to start three of them, and since Meachem's absolutely worthless, I'm trying to figure out who his replacement should be. I've used Deion Branch as an effective plug-in before and while he's inconsistent, I'm optimistic that NE will provide a revenge beatdown in compensation for their dismal showing last week. Other available options include Early Doucet (although he might be gone by the time waivers subside) or Jonathan Baldwin, who might have good upside against Miami. Also, any chance Scott Chandler will be worth playing again this year, or should I drop him for Dustin Keller?

Tom: Contrary to my expectations, Nate Washington had a decent fantasy game last week thanks to two touchdowns to make up for less than 40 yards of offense. I think the 40 yards is more likely to be repeated than two touchdowns. Then again, I have no affection for mediocre receivers behind better No. 1 options with mediocre quarterbacks like Baldwin and Doucet.

Mike: I like Baldwin as a WR3 this week. Whether you would replace Washington or Brown, I don't know. Probably Brown.

Tom: Of your waiver pickups, I like Baldwin best as a longer-term replacement, but you may be better off playing matchups.

Mike: Washington isn't as good a player, but Pittsburgh is lousy with wide receivers right now, and Roethlisberger won't have the same kind of time as he did against New England. Yeah, I don't think his receiver corps is so bad that he needs long-term replacements off waivers. He should see what he can get with trades, if his bench and running backs are deep enough.

Tom: I'm not sure a trade is the right answer if the rest of his team is good enough. In terms of tight ends, as a frustrated Keller owner, I’m not sure he’s a good weekly option, or at least any better than Chandler.

Flores: Full PPR, 2 WR, 2 RB, 1 W/R, and I'm agonizing over the choices, compounded by the fact that I'm still stuck in the "Is Andre Johnson going to play or not" limbo. WR choices: Julio Jones vs. IND (Indy's secondary is a DISASTER, but Falcons seem to like their running game), Wes Welker vs NYG (should I be concerned about how he's been bottled up the last two games?), or Santonio Holmes (I hate Sanchez. I hate the Jets offense. Enough said). For now, I assume Johnson doesn't start (if only to spare myself continued disappointment and heartbreak). I'm thinking Jones and Welker.

RB choices: Steven Jackson vs ARI (thinking yes), DeMarco Murray vs. SEA (he ran well this week, just didn't get chances because Tony Romo is awful ... but even Romo can't screw up against SEA ... right?), Darren Sproles vs. TB (TB shut down NO last time they played ... and they were obviously dysfunctional against STL, though Sproles managed an ok game for me thanks to PPR), Mike Tolbert vs GB (assuming he plays). So which 2 of the WR, which 3 of the RB (I'm assuming my RB choices are better than the odd man out from the WR crowd)? And if Johnson plays, who gets kicked out of the line up then?

Finally, Eli Manning vs. NE and Ben vs. Ravens...Eli is definitely the choice here, right? And for defense, I have CIN D against TEN, but DAL D is available - since they play SEA this would that be the better play? They looked pretty shaky against the Eagles, but Seattle is far more dysfunctional than the Eagles. As always, thanks!

Mike: I agree with the wide receivers. The Falcons love them some running, but Jones got a lot of targets before he was injured, and was very effective.

Tom: Agreed.

Mike: He's bound to start picking up touchdowns as Matt Ryan becomes more comfortable with Jones.

Tom: Welker is still leading the NFL in receptions and yards per game.

Mike: Yeah, don't let one mediocre game against a very good defense spook you.

Tom: Sproles is second in the NFL in receptions per game. Andre Johnson is third in the NFL in receptions per game.

Mike: I don't think receptions is the end-all for running backs. Even in PPR, it's nice, but we like running backs because they're go-to red zone options. That said, even a healthy Tolbert vs. Green Bay isn't that great an option.

Tom: If Andre Johnson is healthy, I'd play Johnson, Welker, Jones, Sproles, and Jackson. If Johnson isn't healthy, I'd put Murray in flex.

Mike: I agree with your assessment.

Tom: At QB, you have a good quarterback (Eli) against a horrible secondary (Patriots). We've discussed Roethlisberger. Play Eli.

Mike: I don't think it's quite so clear, but yes, the game will be on Eli's shoulders. Pray it isn't windy.

Tom: In terms of defense, I would go with Dallas against Seattle, especially if Tarvaris Jackson is at all injured.

You have internalized the idea of a Scramble Mailbag each week, so send your questions to scramble-at-footballoutsiders.com.

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 02 Nov 2011

44 comments, Last at 03 Nov 2011, 9:12pm by nibiyabi


by 0tarin :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 4:43pm

Thanks for the advice, although it ended up being a moot point--both Baldwin and Doucet got picked up off waivers this morning when Yahoo's wire cleared. For what it's worth, this column would be all the more awesome if it got posted yesterday evening (to give us submitters a chance to file claims). Although I certainly imagine it'd be harder on the writers that way, so no major complaints here.

It would seem I'll go with my original instinct and grab Branch, since he should get a few targets against NYG. Depending on my mood, I may hoover up Lance Moore or Crabtree on a gamble as well.

by Mike Kurtz :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 4:45pm

Sorry about the delay. If you need instant responses, go ahead and say that in your email or forum post -- if we know there is a time pressure, we can just email you before we draft the column.

by 0tarin :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:25pm

Noted, and as I said, I didn't intend for it to be a complaint. (I only posted the question yesterday anyway.) I just assume that most leagues have their waivers clear out at the same time as my Yahoo FF league does, but perhaps I'm mistaken. I'll make a note for future queries, regardless. Thanks!

by jtduffin :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:56pm

Actually, if he's available, I think Crabtree might be a better gamble than Deion Branch. Not as good a passing offense, of course, and I haven't had the chance to actually watch any 49ers games this year, but Crabtree's stats have been quite good over the past several weeks. (i.e. as he's been healing from a preseason injury, if I remember right.) Looks like Branch does have more touchdowns, and maybe that will continue, but he's obviously not the top target on his team, and Crabtree probably still is on his. With the caveat that Frank Gore is probably the most important offensive skill player on the 49ers, of course.

by 0tarin :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 9:46pm

That's a good thought; I actually thought Crabtree was already taken in my league, but he is floating in FA after all. I think I'll snag him as a contingency regardless. Thanks!

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 4:57pm

8-team league, no PPR. I'm stacked at TE (trades has been tried, unsuccesfully). Pick from J. Finley (@SD) or A. Gates (vs. GB).

It might, literally, come down to a coinflip for me.


by Flounder :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 10:12pm

Well, Gates has played GB twice in his career, and went over 100 both times. After seemingly fixing the problem last year, GB is back to sucking at covering tight ends (26th by DVOA).

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 12:44am

Gates still looks a little off to me, but I'd expect Green Bay to look more to exploit Cason or Gilchrist in coverage, which means targets for the wideouts more than Finley. In that case, unless Gates shows up with something serious on the injury report, I'd play him.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 4:59pm

Reminds me: Does anyone know what goes into NFL.com's fantasy projections? They seem pretty random to me...

by jtduffin :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 6:00pm

If there is anyone knows what goes into any website's fantasy projections, other than the people who create them, I'd be curious to hear from them as well.

I think they are all pretty random. If they use something other than the player's fantasy points-per-game this season - and they must, because it seems like much of the time they project some wildly optimistic game coming up, compared to what the player's actually done this year - I have little idea what it is. (I don't say "no idea" because I know that, on ESPN for example, they have data on "fantasy points allowed to opposing WRs, RBs, etc" and maybe they use that to try to give a weighted projection? But that's total speculation on my part.)

by CeeBee (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:00pm

I'm also worried about Big Ben vs BAL. It's either him or Alex Smith vs WAS. Thoughts?

by 0tarin :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:28pm

Even as a Ravens fan, I'd go with Ben. He tends to find a way to get at least a few TDs against Baltimore, and in these games, the Pittsburgh running game never really seems to get traction. I don't think it'll be a shootout and I definitely don't think the 'burger will get the points he did last week, but I think he'll at least match Smith's production.

by jtduffin :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:43pm

I'd say Washington's defense is better than the team results suggest, and SF seems to focus more on running than passing. Pittsburgh is more of a passing team (despite their history), I think, and the Baltimore defense is certainly very good, but I think Roethlisberger is better than Alex Smith. (Now, the first BAL/PIT game this season might argue otherwise... but PIT does seem to have gotten things somewhat fixed after an extremely rough start to the year. I write that, as it happens, as a remorseful former-Roethlisberger-owner who dropped him after four (or was it five?) extremely poor fantasy showings. I might have felt able to stick it out with him if not for the fact that my team had gone 0-4 at that point... anyway, personal tangent aside, I think Roethlisberger should be a better option than Smith this week.)

by Jeremy Billones :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:43am

Washington's pass defense is completely dependent on the pass rush: their numbers against all receivers except the #2 WR are below average (OK, #14 vs other WR), but their defensive ASR is #1.

SF is below average in offensive ASR. Could be bad.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 12:46am

As time goes by, I'm leaning towards thinking that the Ravens did a particularly good job of gameplanning against the Steelers Week 1, so that game isn't weighing heavily on me. Ben's also looked good to me, and I'm never sold on Alex Smith as a good fantasy option, so I'd go with Ben.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:06pm

Tracking comebacks as a stat is ridiculous. Except for Josh Freeman's, those are awesome.


by John (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 7:29pm

You misspelled Peyton Manning.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 10:39pm

Fine, fine.

Tracking Peyton Manning as a stat is ridiculous. Except for Josh Freeman's, those are awesome.

by John (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 8:42am


by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:17pm

That is an awesome biscuit commercial.

by tunesmith :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:22pm

I dunno, even a merely solid game from Tebow means a passing TD, a rushing TD, and over fifty yards rushing. But I'd still start Ben, especially since there's a blueprint on how to beat Tebow now that Tebow (and McCoy) haven't demonstrated they can beat. On top of that, Oakland's D-Line is strong, and you can review Orton's game 1 stats to see that it was a bad offensive game then, too.

by Thok :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 6:26pm

Given Oakland's current offensive problems, Tebow might be worth a play. You shouldn't be expecting him to get much value passing, but Tebow could easily vulture a couple of short TD runs after Oakland turnovers, which would be enough to make him a viable play.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 6:33pm

The dream is dead.

by John (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 7:27pm

I really, really wish Bojangles would open some franchises further north. It's like Hardees breakfast all day long, which is as close to heaven on earth as I ever expect to be.

by JIPanick :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 7:27pm

I went all in on Tebow (traded Rivers for a RB) as soon as Orton was benched. In fantasy terms, I haven't been disappointed - even with bad passing numbers and no rushing TDs the 50 or so rushing yards a week have made him at least an average starter. Besides, he's got nowhere to go but up.

OTOH, Roethlisberger is considerably better than an average starter.

by Guest789 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 8:03pm

"I went all in on Tebow (traded Rivers for a RB) as soon as Orton was benched"

... Not sure if serious

by JIPanick :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 12:08am

Yes, I'm serious.

It's not as risky as it sounds - it was a good RB (Mathews), and the other guy I unloaded as part of the deal was Felix Jones. I come out ahead even if I have to ditch Tebow and goto the emergency reserve option (Freeman), although I doubt that will become necessary.

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:58am

I don't think it's risky at all. Tebow has started five games in the NFL and been an excellent fantasy play in four of them under most formats and a mediocre one in the other.

Running QBs, especially if they get short yardage attempts, are often great in fantasy even when they stink in real life.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 10:01pm

Tebow can go up, down, or stay about what he is now. I would guess staying about the same is the most likely.

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 8:38pm

I have nothing interesting to say, but I have the 2nd most points scored in my league, and I'm 3-5 with one victory coming because my opponent left 3 players on their bye weeks starting.

by MurphyZero :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 11:27pm

I am first in my league, third in points, in a 10 team PPR league. But one of the teams in my league is 1st in points by 99 over second place, and 4-4. Weekly, he's scored in a week 1st 3 times and 2nd (by 3 points) once-those are his 4 wins. He's finished 3rd twice (lost by 6 and 11 to the second place team), 4th once (lost by 11 to second place) and 6th (to the 4th place by 21). Each year he talks about switching the league to one based on power ranking (scoring based on weekly rank, 10 for first, 1 for last, same as 9 head to head matchups each week) instead of head to head because of stuff like this.

by mick5434 :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 8:17pm

Yeah in my league I am in a league where I am 4th in scoring 0.08 pts behind the 3rd place guy. I got back to .500 this week. I outscored the team that was in first until they lost this week by just under 100 points. League average is about 94 points per game on the season for a 12 player league. The other team has only had one team score more than that (95 pts) not one team has scored more than 100, and only two teams scored more than 80 pts. Meanwhile, I have had 5 teams score more than 100 points on me. Some teams just get lucky and have their opponent play the worst game of the season against them, other teams play the worst team in the league the one game where they score the most points in the league. Guess which team mine is.

by erniecohen :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 12:26am

The comeback silliness is not limited to football. In golf, the public places much greater value on making impossible recovery shots than on staying out of trouble. I suspect the public loves comebacks simply because they are more difficult to achieve than other forms of winning.

by Illmatic74 :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 4:08am

Oh really I remember hearing Skip Bayless say Tiger Woods was overrated because he didn't engineer a comeback in a major. I though it was Skip just being ridiculous but, it turns out it was Skip being ridiculous but a ridiculousness that was common in Golf circles.

by JMM* (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 7:10am

Scoff at comebacks if you like, but consider Phillip Rivers' performance in recent weeks.

by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 7:48am

Comebacks are a crock as a stat. Two examples. I've looked at Scott Kacsmar's work. His Elway comeback totals are listed at Pro Football Reference. I randomly clicked on one game box score early in Elway's career. The Broncos led or were tied all game until their opponent scored late in the third quarter to take a 28-27 point lead. Early in the fourth quarter, the Broncos scored a TD to take the lead for good, and added a field goal and another TD to win going away. I don't see how this is considered a comeback except by the loosest of definitions, which is trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. This "comeback" was no game-on-the-line, clock ticking down, last gasp effort. This victory was just the natural flow of the game.

Second example. Favre was always lauded for his comebacks as well. I checked all Packer games from 1993 through 2007. The Packers trailed or were tied 34 times in the fourth quarter and won the game. As comparison, I checked the Bears for the same period, because everytime the Packers and Bears met, the TV team would have a graphic showing the Bears started about 20 QBs during Favre's streak. So how did that mishmash of Bear QBs, journeymen all, do in the fourth quarter? The Bears trailed or were tied 31 times in the fourth quarter and came back to win. So a first ballot HOF QB managed three more wins in 15 years under this "comeback" definition than a bunch of QB hacks.

If comebacks are to be tracked, some element of points vs time needs to be defined. Down by two scores at any point of the fourth quarter? Trailing by more than 3 with 7 minutes remaining? Trailing by any amount on the last possession? On the game winning drive, the QB must be responsible for more than half the yardage gained? The game winning drive must cover more yardage than the game winning field goal?

I've actually read criticism of Aaron Rodgers to the effect that Rodgers has so few comeback victories. The Packer have just tied the NFL record for never trailing in the fourth quarter for 13 straight games, obviously all victories. Who wouldn't prefer that?

Until comeback victories are defined in a manner that sets tighter criteria, dismiss that stat as nonsense.

by JMM* (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:42am

I agree that comeback as a stat (in today's world) is nonsense. However, as a reality I think there are quarterbacks who seem to raise to the occasion better than others. The dismissal of the reality because of an existing inability to quantify it is just as much nonsense. Because something hasn't been measured properly doesn't mean it isn't real no matter what management gurus say.

As to the argument that it's better to play a good enough game to not have to come back, of course that's true. So what? There will still be games when a team is down and a quarterback (or team for that matter) needs to perform at a higher level at the end than he did earlier in the game, no matter how well he played. Is that a definable skill which can be measured and compared? Not if the people who have the interest and quantitative skills to do the analysis dismiss it because they believe its preferable to not have to come back. It isn't the be-all and end-all any more than arm strength. I would have expected an article on Footballoutsiders.com to propose a definition, or two, and look to see if it captures anything meaningful.

by Sophandros :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 8:35am

"Is there something in Tebow's game, or what the Broncos do offensively, that really changes in the fourth quarter? Or is it just the semi-random hot streak you might see that for whatever reason happens to show up in the fourth quarter in two consecutive games?"

No, what happened in the last two weeks for Tebow is that they went into the fourth quarter behind against two teams. One played prevent in the last five minutes and failed to recover an onside kick, while the other liberally substituted players on the defensive side of the ball and "called off the dogs".

Tebow gets garbage yards because of this, and looks better statistically than what he really is because of this. In this manner, he's very similar to Aaron Brooks...

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by DenverCheeze (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 12:05pm

What are the chances of FO sponsoring a type of Fantasy Football league where the selected players on your team score points based on FO stats...such as QB efficiency rating, DVOA, DYAR, etc...even Special teams would come into play. Basically, pitting a true team or QB performance rather than a bunch of passing yards or TDs put up in a losing performance. This would be a very interesting league and would require a good knowledge of the game and teams.

What say you?

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 2:28pm

There was a previous attempt at adjusting raw fantasy stats into FO stats (IIRC, what was then PAR, now YAR) a few years ago. I'll see if I can dig those up somewhere in the comment archives. Speaking personally, I don't think adding in opponent adjustments would be a good idea, just because they change from week to week. Continuing to speak personally, I don't think DVOA would be good either unless you want your fantasy games decided by rare fluke plays featuring rarely uninvolved players.

by nibiyabi :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 9:12pm

I remember that as well; I definitely posted in that thread so you might be able to throw my username into the search. I entered the scoring rules into my KUBIAK database and listed the top ~30 players. I believe it was no later than 2009. Probably earlier. One stat that stuck out for me that I'm pretty sure I remember correctly is that TDs were 1 point.

by nibiyabi :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 3:49pm

Who do I start? 6 points per TD (10 points for 50+ yards), 6 points for 100 yards (99 yards = 0 points). Start 2 RB, 2 WR, and 1 RB/WR:

AFoster v CLE
CBenson @ TEN
SGreene @ BUF
DThomas @ KC (questionable - hamstring; practiced today)
BJacobs @ NE (if ABradshaw is out)
MLynch @ DAL
KMoreno @ OAK

WWelker v NYG (probable - neck; full practice today)
MColston v TB
RWhite @ IND
AGreen @ TEN
SRice @ DAL
MWilliams @ NO

I'm pretty confident that I'm starting Foster, Welker, and Colston. I'm trying to choose who to sit from Benson, Greene, and White. What do you guys think?

As as aside, I really appreciate the passing defense stats broken down into receptions and yards allowed by receiver type (WR-#1, WR-#2, WR-other, TE, RB), but is there any way you could add rushing defense stats broken down into carries and yards allowed by rusher type (e.g., RB-#1, RB-other, QB)?

Thank you. :)

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 8:25pm

Hmm, no yardage points for anything under 100 yards? I'd probably go Foster, Benson, Welker, White, and probably Colston, though all of NO's other targets concern me so I might play Jacobs (assuming Bradshaw is out) myself.

Speaking personally: I don't think RB1 and RB2 usage patterns would be interesting or useful since whether RB1 or RB2 gets the carry is the result of a choice made by the offensive team, whereas receiving distribution may tell us something interesting about the defense. My sense is QB carries are along the same line: some QBs will run, some won't, and some will do it opportunistically and it may or may not happen in a given week against a particular team.

by nibiyabi :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 9:09pm

Fair enough -- that makes sense. And thanks for the advice! :)