Monday, July 11, 2011

Looking Ahead 2011: Ghost

This is the seventh post of a series of blogs covering each team from the 2010 Brothers Keeper league in detail. We began with the last place team and are moving up to the top of the league standings as it stood at the end of the 2010 fantasy football season (cf. CYBORG PIRATE NINJAS; Kabuki Strikes Back; Simba's Buttkicker!; Points ON the Bench; Rmmm's Dropping 3's; and SOCIAL ISoTopes). So let us turn our attention now to Ghost (B Garner).

Yeah that's him in the flesh on the far right... not so ephemeral.

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
2010 Ghost: (4th Place) 1418.61 points; 13 transactions

Ghost's 2010 Keeper Declaration
When declaration day finally arrived, Ghost kept A Peterson RB (Rd 1), Calvin Johnson WR (Rd 3), D Clark TE (Rd 5), and M Ryan QB (14) as his developmental eligible player. They all had a really good 2009 (Ghost had the second highest point total in 2009) but Ghost was hampered by the curse of the Fantasy Fairy. He made solid safe selections and 2010 was no different until D Clark TE went down with an injury. In 6 games Clark had 37 receptions for 347 yards and 3 TDs. Without the injury he would have continued to produce quality fantasy point totals especially with A Collie's WR and P Garcon's WR injuries in 2010.

The other keepers all performed pretty much where their draft value was supposed to be. Ghost did a good job keeping the right guys for the most part because he definitely dropped the right players from his 2009 final roster. Let's just say everyone else was underwhelming in 2010 from that 2009 final roster.

Ghost's 2010 Draft
Following the old Keeper League Draft Order Rule Ghost (B Garner) had the 5th overall draft pick position in the 2010 draft due to his 2009 7th Place Game win over Favre$Footlong in his second game of the consolation bracket. His 2010 draft results are thus (noting those who were kept from his 2009 final roster with a This player is a keeper.):

1.(5)Adrian Peterson This player is a keeper. (Min - RB)
2.(16)Ronnie Brown (Mia - RB)
3.(25)Calvin Johnson This player is a keeper. (Det - WR)
4.(36)C.J. Spiller (Buf - RB)
5.(45)Dallas Clark This player is a keeper. (Ind - TE)
6.(56)Donald Driver (GB - WR)
7.(65)Thomas Jones (KC - RB)
8.(76)Carson Palmer (Cin - QB)
9.(85)T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Bal - WR)
10.(96)Robert Meachem (NO - WR)
11.(105)New Orleans (NO - DEF)
12.(116)David Akers (Phi - K)
13.(125)Jeremy Shockey (NO - TE)
14.(136)Matt Ryan This player is a keeper. (Atl - QB)
15.(145)Sam Bradford (StL - QB)

Here's Ghost's 2010 draft compared to the 2010 Brothers Keeper Fantasy Football Ideal Draft Value Chart results:

While R Brown RB lent a helping hand to Yer X-MOM's 2009 championship team, he by no means did the same for Ghost who drafted him in the middle of the second round of the 2010 draft. With R Williams RB in a RBBC role in a Miami offense under lots of changes (multiple QBs played and new WRs and largely forsaking the 2009 Wildcat offense) R Brown could not have been expected to be the solid performer of years past. He and R Williams are both beyond their prime years as RBs and both happen to be looking NFL free agency in the face once the new CBA is complete. Suffice it to say that he did not help Ghost in 2010 except for week 1 when he scored just over 15 FP. He was dropped for greener pastures before week 9.

Unfortunately his next 7 draft picks also all underwhelmed big time. If 8 of your 8 picks through ten rounds of drafting (the other two being keepers) suffer colossally then you would expect your team to do so too. And that's what happened. Games were struggles to win, not dominating performances for the most part.

Ghost did seem to draft a good defense and kicker although the kicker wasn't retained for the whole season.

End of Season Commentary
Suffering from a poor draft Ghost managed to scrap his way to the top of the bottom of the heap with a 6 - 7 win/loss record. While he tied the regular season record with Kabuki Strikes Back Ghost was able to score 38.61 FP more to gobble up the 6th and final playoff seed spot but walked backwards into the playoffs. His last 3 games of the regular season were losses.

While there isn't a whole lot to say about the regular season for Ghost other than struggling to win, he did make two trades during the regular season in an attempt to better his team. I likes trades. I like to think about trades. Trades are the spice of fantasy sports life. Don't get me wrong. We all love the draft. But trade talks and executing trades can happen in a much longer time frame. It's like pizza. All the ingredients are thrown together and cooked pretty quickly like a draft. But a hint of spice in the pizza... well it is enjoyed during the entire time it is consumed.

Without the ability to trade a coach is only able to better his team through the draft and free agent pickups. They are both important. However, trading has the chance to better your team in a very exact way with potential quality that might not be available. In a sense, too, it is less risk adverse.

Trading is also not for the faint of heart. There are psychological considerations involved in trades that just aren't there when plucking guys from free agency. There is always that aspect that you need to be of service to the other teams needs in order to offer up a deal that has the potential to being acceptable. There is an art to the trade discussions too if the time is taken to write it out well. Whatever it takes to do the trade is what is needed. But you need to be willing to give in order to get what you're aiming at. And to be honest I like it when I know the deal helps the other team too. That's good to know. That concept of fairness deep within us resonates even in these fantasy transactions. It takes gravitas to do deals and some people just don't have it. You don't have to be The Donald but you do need to think about the pros and cons. The best trades are the ones when you do and don't want to do it at the very same time. You know it is fair in every way possible. It helps them and you but it is so agonizing to finalize. It is such a multifaceted endeavor.

Well I've waxed on about trading long enough without even talking about all it's components. But I will say Ghost pulled off two trades in one week to try to better his team early in the season. When teams struggle early on like Yer X-MOM or Simba's Buttkicker! did in 2010 you are going to see those teams use trading as a way to better themselves for the remainder of the season so that they aren't irrelevant when push comes to shove and the playoffs arrive. No one wants to be left in consolation wasteland. For the better teams with better win/loss records, they've seen enough games to know where their weakest positions are and they want to maneuver to remain competitive. That was Ghost. So here was the win/loss record of the 3 teams after the 4th week of the 13 week regular season.

Ghost: 3 - 1
Simba's Buttkicker!: 0 - 4
Yer X-MOM: 2 - 2

The trade between Simba's Buttkicker! and Ghost
Players Ghost traded to Simba's Buttkicker!:
T Jones RB 143.7 fp
K Walter WR 112.05 fp
D Keller TE 119.35 fp
TOTAL: 375.1 fp

Simba's Buttkicker! needed a TE and wasn't satisfied with the merry-go-round of TEs he'd select from the free agency waiver wire. R Gronkowski, H Miller, and B Celek were all scoring low enough that TE was a hole in the roster for R Johnson. D Keller had at least three monster weeks beginning week 2. He was picked up off of free agency after week 2. But with D Clark on the roster performing well Ghost was able to let him go for the right price. R Mathews RB and M Vick QB were the pieces Ghost wanted but needed to replace too. So he sent T Jones RB and K Walter WR. Looking back we wouldn't think this too fair, but at the time M Vick was a question mark from injury that Simba's Buttkicker! had picked up for free anyhow. Even then he was injured again and dropped from Ghost's roster before the end of the year and picked up by SOCIAL ISoTopes.

Players Simba's Buttkicker! traded to Ghost:
M Vick QB 366.32 fp
Dexter McCluster RB/WR 72.85 fp
R Mathews RB 133.05 fp
TOTAL: 572:22 fp

At first thought we might think that Ghost absolutely robbed Simba's Buttkicker! of talent and fantasy points for a little bowl of porridge. However, if we subtract from those two sets the players that were not on the final rosters of each team (M Vick and K Walter) Ghost made out with only 205.9 fp while Simba's Buttkicker!'s new players scored 263.05 fp on the season. Note that this does not exclude the first 4 weeks of fantasy play before the trade. This is the total amount those players scored over the 16 week fantasy season as a whole. This makes the trade a lot closer in appearance.

In the other trade that week Yer X-MOM traded D McFadden RB (242.05 fp; 8th best RB) to Ghost for M Ryan QB (316.40 fp; 8th best QB). All in all it was an exact and fair trade helping each team at a critical hole by trading away from a position from strength One team got the 8th best QB on the season and the other team got the 8th best RB on the season. A classic apples for oranges type of trade.

In the end, Ghost (6th seed) and Yer X-MOM (4th seed) made the playoffs. Simba's Buttkicker! did not. As I have indicated elsewhere Ghost made it into the playoffs by scoring more fp during the regular season than Kabuki Strikes Back despite them both having the same winning percentage.

While Ghost struggled to win in the regular season, the playoffs were no different. In the quarterfinals Ghost beat SOCIAL ISoTopes just barely. It could have gone the other way. In fact, if it had, M Peltonen would have seen his second championship game appearance in a row against Yer X-MOM. But it didn't happen. Ghost advanced to the semifinals again for a 3d time in 4 years of league play. But again, as in 2007 he lost to the eventual runner up by an embarrassing loss. This time TheSloppyButts scored 131.45 fp to Ghost's 76.79 fp. It was the end of his run in 2010.

Ghost's Final 2010 Roster
Following the new Keeper League Draft Order, Ghost, while failing to win in the semifinals, he had the same regular season winning percentage but scored more points than Kabuki Strikes Back to enter the playoffs. Despite winning 4th place, his team was weaker than Redman's CatClippers and SOCIAL ISoTopes in the 3 Factor Power Rankings. Therefore Ghost will have the 5th overall pick in the upcoming 2011 Brothers Keeper fantasy football draft.

I have included the upcoming 2011 draft round and pick number (overall pick is in parentheses) of each player on Ghost's final roster followed by the name of the player, player's position, any 1st Rd Keeper Value players, total # of fantasy starts for the season (a * indicates developmental eligibility for 2011'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) Adrian Peterson RB (1st Rd Keeper Value); 14 fantasy starts; 258.85 fp
1. (5) Ryan Mathews RB (1st Rd Keeper Value); 3* fantasy starts (2 with Simba's Buttkicker! and 1 with Ghost); 133.05 fp
2. (16) Calvin Johnson WR; 14 fantasy starts; 210.2 fp
3. (25)
4. (36) C.J. Spiller RB; 3* fantasy starts; 105.78 fp
5. (45)
6. (56)
7. (65) Dexter McCluster WR/RB; 1* fantasy starts (1 with Simba's Buttkicker!); 72.85 fp
8. (76) Fred Jackson RB; 6 fantasy starts (1 with Yer X-MOM and 5 with Ghost); 172.45 fp
8. (76) Pierre Garcon WR; 11 fantasy starts (4 with Points ON the Bench and 7 with Ghost); 142.8 fp
8. (76) Carson Palmer QB; 11 fantasy starts; 295.8 fp
9. (85)
10. (96)
11. (105) New Orleans DEF; 14 fantasy starts; 131 fp
12. (116)
13. (125)
14. (136)
15. (145) Darren McFadden RB; 8 fantasy starts (1 with Yer X-MOM and 7 with Ghost); 242.05 fp (Undrafted)
15. (145) Dan Carpenter K; 8 fantasy starts; 123 fp (Undrafted)
15. (145) Josh Freeman QB; 2* fantasy starts; 313.44 fp (Undrafted)
15. (145) Jacob Tamme TE; 7 fantasy starts; 122.55 fp (Undrafted)
15. (145) Danny Woodhead WR/RB; 6 fantasy starts;141.65 fp (Undrafted)
15. (145) Sam Bradford QB; 2* fantasy starts; 233.78 fp

Looking Ahead at 2011
Ghost seems to be at an advantageous position as he has the ability to keep a top 2-3 RB and top 2-3 WR assuming he wants to win now. Otherwise he will be planning for the future by collecting really young talent and tossing aside the fantasy football industry monsters of the present time. Assuming Calvin Johnson WR and A Peterson RB are the no brainer keepers the decision then surrounds the remaining keeper and the developmental eligible player. Ghost should continue to try to win now and not dump these two fantasy studs.

So who would that last keeper be? There are three quality QBs available to Ghost. C Palmer is good. If C Ochocinco is correct about his QB, his QB will not play in Cincinnati in 2011 or he will retire. All indications are that Palmer wants to be traded. He could go to a great situation like the Arizona Cardinals or he could end up a Seahawk. We don't know yet. But once the NFL and NFLPA decide on a new CBA (soon!) we will find out what becomes of C Palmer's 2011. He would definitely be worth a keeper spot if he goes to the right team. Having a solid QB, RB, and WR to begin a draft is definitely a solid way to end up in the playoffs again and again as Ghost has done. Keeping Palmer for an 8th Rd pick is not a bad idea whatsoever once we know he will be a productive NFL player in 2011. Good thing we do not need to declare our keepers in the next few days. In the meantime Ghost will need to monitor Palmer's status and news.

If he does not want to keep a QB alongside A Peterson RB and C Johnson WR, then he will need to decide which of the remaining players to keep. There WRs like D Woodhead and P Garcon to consider along side RBs like R Mathews, F Jackson, and D McFadden. These have all been at least semi-productive when uninjured. Garcon has a great QB in P Manning tossing footballs his way. So does D Woodhead. Either one could be good to keep for a couple more years as their QBs age... hopefully in a good way. They both have the potential to be excellent keeper values and they both could be the last piece of a puzzle to send Ghost into the Championship game again.

The RBs are an interesting lot to consider. R Mathews appears to be the future in San Diego but it could be a future a couple more years away. Will he produce 1st Rd fantasy value if kept? It is possible. D McFadden RB will most likely still share the ball with M Bush RB in Oakland (see also here). He has been injured in both of his 1st two seasons as an NFL player (missed 10 games in 2 years). M Bush is also really good. Taiwan Jones was drafted in 2011 (4.3 40 time) and may take away some touches as well. If the new head coach goes with a RBBC approach like he saw in the Baltimore Ravens organization (R Rice - W McGahee and R Lewis - W McGahee) then you will definitely have the luck of the draw as to which RB will be the one running or catching it in the end zone as they both have similar skill sets. Hue Jackson was also instrumental in developing the young QB in Baltimore and looks to do a good job with the QBs in Oakland. They have the WRs and the TE to make it a pretty honest offense and they finally have the right coaches to make the team competitive. If Ghost were to keep D McFadden he would have to spend a middle round draft pick on M Bush. There is also speculation that D McFadden was a one hit wonder. The reason is because D McFadden scored almost half of his fantasy points in only 3 games while the other half came in 10 games of play. So he got lucky while M Bush didn't play and had super easy run defenses. Otherwise he was sharing the ball playing better run defenses that could contain him. There could be a more solid option to consider than D McFadden as a keeper.

F Jackson is also a good RB and has stayed the starter despite not being the big name for a few years now (bye bye W McGahee and M Lynch!). Ghost could keep him and CJ Spiller as the developmental and have the RBBC covered for Buffalo, although F Jackson was the feature back with CJ Spiller picking up very few carries. So far it hasn't been a true RBBC in Buffalo. We know the Bills will need to continue to run the ball heavily in 2011 with whoever their developing QB turns out to be. It would not be a bad idea to keep F Jackson for an 8th Rd pick. He did score 172.45 FP in 2010. Not something one would pass over lightly. It would have benefited Redmans CatClippers to retain him again for the 2010 season (a second time) but with the likes of R Wayne, T Brady and M Forte he was unable to do so.

The other two QBs are young guns, developmental eligible, and worth a 15th Rd pick. J Freeman and S Bradford are both at the beginning of seemingly illustrious careers. Who would have thought either one of them could have drudged their respective NFL franchises from the miry clay of loserville and pulled them hard enough to the surface to be playoff contenders. While neither team made the playoffs they definitely were vying for a shot up until the end of the regular season. Developing chemistry quickly with teammates has no doubt led to their success. S Bradford had a tough loss when Mark Clayton WR went down but with D Avery WR, D Amendola WR, and S Jackson RB all in the fold S Bradford didn't skip a beat once Clayton went down with his injury. The nice thing "Bradford to Clayton" had was they were both Oklahoma alums.

J Freeman also suffered from an up and coming prospect with A Benn's WR injury. Without missing a beat he turned to M Williams WR and K Winslow TE. With A Benn returning to the fold Tampa Bay they should be ready to make J Freeman look good and is thus considered a solid sleeper candidate in fantasy.

Before deciding on which developmental eligible player to keep between Bradford and Freeman, we need to consider that CJ Spiller RB is also a 4th Rd developmental eligible player. The hype machine was definitely there prior to the 2010 fantasy draft detailing how much of an impact CJ Spiller was going to make for Buffalo. However, the new coaching staff let go M Lynch RB and relied upon F Jackson RB. As a result I expect CJ Spiller to continue to backup the more experienced F Jackson in 2011. To keep CJ Spiller for a 4th Rd selection in the upcoming draft would be quite expensive with a bunch of other talent that will start on a weekly basis and kept for a better value.

When I contacted B Garner about commenting on his team he was optimistic about 2011 and rightfully so. He's reached the semifinals 3 out of 4 years. It is time for him to successfully take the next step:
As far as the future its time to put some gold on the mantel in the Haunted Mansion. I can see 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, maybe 8 Championships in the future, Yeah I skipped 1 and 2 cause the rebuilding is over, its time to start collecting. X-MOM is going down! From the words of the great Kurt Angle "It's True, Oh It's True!"
My Best Guess at Ghost's 2011 Keepers
My best guess as to who B Garner will keep off of his final roster is A Peterson RB (Rd 1), C Johnson WR (Rd2), C Palmer QB (if on a good team), and S Bradford QB (Rd 15) as the developmental keeper. If C Palmer is not on a good team by declaration time then my guess is on R Mathews RB (Rd1) as a result of that trade with R Johnson. Otherwise Ghost will gamble with D McFadden RB although F Jackson RB would be more reliable. We have to account for his confession: "Last [year] was a building year for my team. I gather[ed] a collection of young players through the draft [and by trade] as with Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson as the two book ends." This would explain young guys like S Bradford and CJ Spiller or R Mathews as hopeful works in progress to be retained. Will they or will they not help him past the semifinals is yet to be seen.

Brothers Keeper Third Party Consultant's Best Guess at Ghost's 2011 Keepers
I would keep A Peterson, Calvin Johnson, D McFadden, and Sam Bradford as a developmental player. Letting go of Tamme, Freeman, Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller and Ryan Mathews is tough to do but all your stars are under 27 and heading into the 4th yr of their careers which is usually the start of their prime. Some would rather roll with Freeman cuz of the players around him but Bradford is the future face of the NFL. Bradford is the Peyton Manning and maybe [he will] turn out to be better.

Lots of questions about D McFadden this offseason but i wouldn't worry. The guy was a beast last year when he was 100% healthy and Bush is a restricted FA which means he might walk and go to a team that will let him start. Most of the others you should try and redraft especially Mathews. But keeping him over any one of those guys would be taking a huge risk especially when your wasting 14th and 15th rd picks on D McFadden and Bradford.

Your team looks pretty solid. Maybe you can make a deal with an owner so you can double up with Calvin Johnson and since I suggested you keep Bradford I would look at drafting Laurent Robinson and Donnie Avery. One of those two should be his number one target.

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