Saturday, January 30, 2010

Looking Ahead 2010: Ghost

This is the fourth post of a series of blogs covering each team from Brothers Keeper in detail. We began with the last place team and we are moving to the top of the league standings as it stood at the end of the 2009 fantasy football season (cf. Kabuki Strikes Back; CustodianPandemonium; Favre$Footlong). Fourth up, Ghost (B Garner).

Overview of B Garner's Brothers Keeper History
2007 Ghost: 5-9-0 (3d Place) 1396.69 points; 12 transactions
2008 Ghost: 10-3-0 (2d Place) 1482.78 points; 9 transactions
2009 Ghost: 5-8-0 (7th Place) 1502.85 points; 8 transactions

2009 End of Season Commentary
"All Day" (A Peterson RB), the former OU standout, has been a mainstay on Ghost's team since the 3d round of Brothers Keeper's inaugural 2007's draft. Ghost has been competitive ever since. The fact that Ghost was only 5-8-0 for the season with a 7th place playoff seed and 7th place finish doesn't do his team justice. Ghost had the second highest total of fantasy points scored for the season in the league. Ghost had a difficult schedule.

Sometimes you get bit by the fantasy fairy who makes your season schedule. It seems to happen once a year to at least one team if you are in an average of 3 fantasy football leagues. Basically your team is blessed with one of the best point scoring teams in the league but your record is horrid because every week your opponent's team has their best game of the season. Curse the fairy or die trying if you are that team. Ghost tried hard. Ending the season on 4 consecutive losses with another 2 more in a row in the playoffs for a 6 game skid is definitely frustrating. If he had not had so many points scored through the regular season he could have been the 8th seed playoff team and made it to the Semifinals by overcoming Yankinfowlsandfeline (J Smith). Instead, it was Sea Buzzards (M Peltonen) who got the easy Quarterfinal matchup and made it to the Championship against the number 2 seed Yer X-MOM (P Smith) who deftly submerged Ghost's playoffs hopes in that Quarterfinal game. Ghost got bit by the fantasy fairy twice. Once in the regular season and once in the playoffs. What did the Ghost do to deserve that?

In 2007, Ghost was the 8th seed playoff team who won the 3d place bronze trophy over the number 2 seed Yer X-MOM. Ghost never gave tribute to the fantasy fairy for that or the 2008 season. Lesson learned: Don't tick off the fantasy fairy by ignoring her. Send her your annual dues today.

In fantasy reality (isn't that an oxymoron?) it was another story. Ghost's season point total was high and his team was on the cusp of greatness until... his number one pick overall in the 2009 Brothers Keeper Fantasy Football BBQ Draft went kind of bust. A Boldin WR had an outstanding season for Yer X-MOM in 2008 scoring 207.60 fantasy points making him the most productive fantasy player per game (not counting his lost games due to that monster hit of an injury). Plus he was a 7th round draft pick in 2008. Ghost had amazing keepers in 2009 from 2008's team. Keeping A Peterson RB and Calvin Johnson WR and Jay Cutler QB was a fantastic foundation to begin building around. A Boldin made sense considering his 2008 fantasy production. L Fitzgerald WR, E Doucet WR, and S Breaston WR also receive passes from K Warner QB in Arizona. That's a lot of talent to throw to. A Boldin was going to suffer slightly regardless of injury concerns. Was he really worth a number 1 draft pick?

But worse than Boldin, was Calvin Johnson's WR, J Cutler's QB and M Ryan's QB unforeseen fall in fantasy production. Calvin Johnson inherited a rookie QB while J Cutler inherited a new team. In Garner's own words "the Bears ruined a great QB!" M Ryan is still a year or so away from being a top ten fantasy producer. Who else could you turn to in order to produce fantasy points at QB? The inconsistent D Garrard QB (a.k.a. "the town bike" because everyone had a ride)? Ghost was a QB short of a very dominant team in 2009... and maybe he'll pay off the fantasy fairy in the offseason before 2010 arrives. However, he still drafted nicely with P Harvin WR as a force to be reckoned with in the years to come (if the Minnesota Vikings stay with veteran talents like B Favre at QB). T Jones RB also produced good results. But his time with the NY Jets may be coming to an end. Ghost really did get bit by the fantasy fairy twice.

Ghost's transactions were not perfect however. He dropped the drafted L Maroney RB who turned into a fantasy producer for the first time in his career. His previous 3 seasons were useless for fantasy purposes. 2009 finally demonstrated Maroney was worthy of a fantasy team's roster spot. Beginning in week 6 Maroney scored noteworthy fantasy points total in 7 of the next 10 weeks of fantasy play (this excludes his week 16 performance of 0.20 points). He ended the season with a total of 149.95 points. Maroney could have single-handedly catapulted Ghost into a better playoff seed or better playoff performance. But he was let go on Monday October 12th. Six days later on Sunday October 18th the New England Patriots trounced the Tennessee Titans 59-0 in week 6 of the NFL season, the first week of Maroney's attack of the disloyal owners.

Ghost's 2009 Draft
Ghost (B Garner) had the 9th overall draft pick position in the 2009 draft thanks to his strong playoff performance in 2008 gaining him the silver medal trophy (2d place). His 2009 draft results are thus (noting that those who were kept from his 2008 final roster:

1. (9) Anquan Boldin WR
2. (12) Adrian Peterson RB (Keeper)
3. (29) Thomas Jones RB
4. (32) Calvin Johnson WR (Keeper)
5. (49) Dallas Clark TE
6. (52) Jay Cutler QB (Keeper)
7. (69) Willis McGahee RB
8. (72) Pittsburgh DEF
9. (89) Percy Harvin WR
10. (92) David Akers K
11. (109) Julius Jones RB
12. (112) Laveranues Coles WR
13. (129) Laurence Maroney RB
14. (132) Heath Miller TE
15. (149) Matt Ryan QB (Keper)

Ghost's Final 2009 Roster
I have included the 2010 draft round and pick overall (overall pick is in parentheses) value of each player on Ghost's final roster followed by the name of the player, player's position, total # of fantasy starts for the season (a * indicates developmental eligibility for 2010's draft; some players were on more than one team but their total starts for all teams is listed); and total fantasy points scored by the player for the 16 fantasy week season (which is not subject to the # of starts):

1. (5) Anquan Boldin WR; 14 fantasy starts; 162.40 fp
1. (5) Adrian Peterson RB (2009 Keeper); 15 fantasy starts; 299.70 fp
2. (16)
3. (25) Thomas Jones RB; 15 fantasy starts; 237.10 fp
3. (25) Calvin Johnson WR (2009 Keeper); 12 fantasy starts; 149.50 fp
4. (36)
5. (45) Dallas Clark TE; 15 fantasy starts; 216.40 fp
5. (45) Jay Cutler QB (2009 Keeper); 14 fantasy starts; 297.94 fp
5. (45) Larry Johnson RB; *2 fantasy starts (2 with CYBORG PIRATE NINJAS); 73.20 fp
6. (56)
7. (65) Willis McGahee RB; 5 fantasy starts; 155.65 fp
8. (76) Pittsburgh DEF; 15 fantasy starts; 129.00 fp
9. (85) Percy Harvin WR; 8 fantasy starts; 199.53 fp
9. (85) Braylon Edwards WR; 5 fantasy starts (1 with Favre$Footlong + 4 with Ghost); 103.00 fp
10. (96) David Akers K; 15 fantasy starts; 145.00 fp
11. (105)
12. (116)
13. (125)
14. (136) Heath Miller TE; *1 fantasy starts; 151.45 fp
14. (136) Matt Ryan QB (2009 Keper); *2 fantasy starts; 233.54 fp
15. (145) Austin Collie WR; *2 fantasy starts; 136.17 fp (Undrafted)

Looking Ahead at 2010
Ghost (B Garner) is upbeat about 2010 and beyond: "My team is young and will be a team to watch out for, for many years to come!!!" That's confidence. After all, he used three exclamation marks. There's nothing wrong with confidence most of the time. Some people have more confidence in this league than others. Take R Johnson for example. He's only made the playoffs once. Ghost's confidence can tell you he has made it deep into the playoffs the previous two years and 2009 was the attack of the fantasy fairy whereby he came out relatively unscathed on the injury front.

If one were to compare his team to the top 7 picks of Favre$Footlong's (D Kessler) 2009 draft then yes, his "team is young." But how young is Ghost's final roster which is available to him to build from? Excluding the kickers and team defense from each team, here is the average age of the skill position players (what their age will be at the beginning of 2010's season) for each Brothers Keeper fantasy football team (from youngest to oldest):

Yer X-MOM                      25.87
Yankinfowlsandfeline        26.64
Sea Buzzards                    27.25
Ghost                               27.46
CustodianPandemonium    27.54
Simba's ButtKicker!           27.69
Redmans CatPunters         27.83
Favre$Footlong                 27.92
Cyborg Pirate Ninjas          28
Kabuki Strikes Back           29.46

However, this is a skewed look in three ways. First, for a better look at each team one should not just take the overall average of the age of the team (as I have it listed above). Rather for a better perspective one should account for the years plus or minus the peak years for each position. For example (and I'm just pulling numbers from thin air here), if one decided that RBs declined after age 26, TEs after age 27, WRs after age 32, and QBs after age 34 then you could take each player's position into account and calculate how many years left they have in their prime. Then an average overall of that plus/minus number total could possibly help determine if a team is "young" or not.

The second way this is skewed is by underrating who actually might be kept for 2010's team. For example, if Kabuki Strikes back keeps B Jacobs, K Moreno, and M Crabtree (all under 28 in 2010) then the above statistic is unhelpful at projecting the age of a team for 2010.

The third way this is skewed is that it does not take into account the the age along with the number of active starts for players utilized throughout the season. For example, someone could could use T Owens (37) for two games and never activate him again through the season, all the while other 20 year olds are getting the fantasy starts. This too would change these numbers.

Next, whatever set of numbers you use to calculate the age of a fantasy team you would need to see if it even correlated to fantasy points or wins and playoff success. While the above list shows some correlation to this year's league standings, CustodianPandemonium becomes an anomoly to the correlation. Maybe a team's sit/starts makes it even more skewed.

There are a lot of variables in play that determine the success of a fantasy team in a keeper league (and it could occupy many posts). The fantasy fairy (fantasy schedule), a player's NFL schedule (e.g., a RB could play an above average amount of tough run defenses), and injuries to any aspect of a team (e.g., an offensive lineman may hurt the RBs production or QBs production, while a QB's injury may hurt the fantasy value of a RB or WR or TE) could all be the deciding factor of success. Not just the fact that a team is young. Overuse in one season to a young RB may completely devastate the rest of his career. A fantasy player may keep the wrong people. There are too many variables to fantasy success or loss of fantasy production for a team. Plus, youth purely on its own may actually be a detriment to fantasy production as is the case with conventional fantasy wisdom about WRs (3d year in NFL is first year of major fantasy success). But it sure is fun trying to win.

Back to Ghost's team specifically: At the time of this post, it appears that the Cincinnati Bengals are not going to bring back L Johnson RB nor is it certain that the New York Jets will bring back T Jones RB for the final year of his contract. They are older anyhow. Ghost definitely won't be on the lookout to keep them if he wants his team "young." If he wants youth he'll have to look at 4 players on his team: A Peterson RB (25); Calvin Johnson WR (25); A Collie WR (25); P Harvin WR (22); B Edwards WR (27); J Cutler QB (27); and M Ryan QB (25) [ages listed are for player's age at the beginning of 2010's NFL season]. They seem to be good keepers to me. "All Day" is a given keeper. Not sure which combination WRs and QBs he might keep. Ghost will probably have to determine who gets kept based on their 2010 projected production and if they are worth being kept at that round in the draft. If A Collie is supposed to have increased production then his 15th rd draft pick makes him a good keeper candidate. However, Calvin Johnson may be the better producer. P Harvin may be kept depending on who the Minnesota QB will be. If Favre retires and the NFL team brings in another veteran other than M Vick to QB the team, then Harvin's production should continue. Minnesota has a lot of WRs and a rising TE with a RB who also is important. I'm not really sure what Harvin's future looks like with such a talent crowded offense and unsure QB situation. I'm also unsure of A Collie's WR production if or when A Gonzalez WR returns to Indianapolis. Unless A Boldin WR is traded or the Arizona Cardinals get another veteran QB (since K Warner QB has retired) I doubt he will be an attractive keeper at the number one draft position.

My Best Guess at Ghost's 2010 Keepers
A Peterson RB, Calvin Johnson WR, P Harvin WR, and M Ryan QB as developmental seems to me to be the best keepers for Ghost unless Favre retires and the Minnesota Vikings do not attain a veteran QB. If there is no worthy QB for the Vikings then I'd say maybe D Clark is kept. It really is hard to say.
Brothers Keeper Third Party Consultant's Best Guess at Ghost's 2010 Keepers
"im gonna say ap, megatron, matt ryan, and dallas clark"

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