Alpharetta, GA (PressExposure) May 20, 2008 -- "It's just a fantasy. It's not the real thing. But sometimes a fantasy is all you need." That is what Billy Joel tells us. I thought it was Kenny Rogers who was the gambler.
Yes, it can remunerate to be a fantasy/rotisserie geek because it is a good dry run for excelling in the more important pursuit of gambling. I know our good friend Rick Ballou of Sportingnews Radio does not play fantasy sports because he does not want to have that rooting brain-teaser of betting on one side and having a player on the other side to applaud.
The cheering conflict of interest aside, the make-believe General Manager can get a lot of insight from the roto world. In the ancient times before the World Wide Web, I found that fantasy football had me analyzing from an extraordinarily different and favorable viewpoint than before I met gambling's cousin.
I had situations like having Emmitt Smith in his prime when he was the inimitable running back in the league. I can for example remember one week when two offensive linemen were out and the Pokes were on the road. Plus I had Chris Warren when he was in Seattle and he was playing a team without their two best run stoppers. Should I consider benching the world's best running back because his match-up in not favorable? For the record, I stuck with Emmitt, but scrutiny like that actually refined me into dissecting games like few handicappers had ever before.
Fantasy sports managing helped me breakdown big match-up mismatches. It especially facilitated my acumen when it came to betting over/unders. Quite often imprudent handicappers deduce that an injury to a key offensive player may mean fewer points or a key defensive player more points.
But in my fantasy breakdowns it became quite apparent that if a run blocker on the offensive line was hurt, it might mean the team has to pass more. Kindred to that if a team's leading rusher were out and his backup were an ample drop-off. Often teams to compensate will have to fiddle with their gameplan and in such examples open up their offense.
A depreciated offense does not mean lower scoring. So many sports speculators and general football fans fall prey to the myth that the better an offense is, the more points they will number.
One of my favorite all-time examples was in 2001 once Edgerrin James went down for the Colts. It glaringly repressed their offense, but with a great weapon in WR Marvin Harrison and QB Peyton Manning, there clearly was one way to offset his loss: throw more often. Suckers determined losing such a weapon would mean lower scoring games. I knew while it depleted their offense, it meant they would have to be much more high-octane. They exceeded the total in 14-of-16 regular season games.
Let us say that a defense is lacking their two best run stoppers because of injuries and the total is high, I further investigate to see if it correlates to their opponent having motivation to run more. If so, the end result would be longer possessions, which also means fewer possessions. Fewer possessions mean fewer scoring opportunities.
Luckily though in the hypothetical state of affairs, the total is likely posted higher because of the injuries.
A better offense is not necessarily a high scoring offense and to a lesser extent a superior defense is not inexorably going to give up more points. A great defense, whose strength is stopping the run, may force the opponent to take more risks. A bad defense that has a decent secondary may be run against more often. Ergo the posted totals would be over-adjusted.
Hence the top fantasy sports advice sites can be priceless tools for sports cognation. Rotowire.com is the oldest and still the best all-around. Consummate in all sports, their judicious view for the roto player can also be incalculable for us.
Footballinjuries.com is also fantastic for the NFL. Many sites do stupendous jobs of player against team or often better yet, player against coach career statistical examinations. For example Bill Belichick coached teams have such done extremely well shutting down certain quarterbacks. We have found player history statistics can be of great handicapping value as so long as one also analyzes how much the parameters have or have not changed. Everything in handicapping must be taken in its proper framework.
In fact, now every major sports site, from ESPN to Yahoo has fantasy information of some kind. For the most part, if it is of value to the fantasy player, a handicapper should take note.
But there are compelling contrasts too. The word's best fantasy player could be a dreadful handicapper and visa versa if one probes them as one and the same.
We handicappers must explore games one at a time, while the fantasy players must query long-term performances. Really this seems to happen more in baseball with hotshot pitchers up from the minor leagues, but can also apply in football. Joey Harrington may be great for your keeper league, but there will be peaks and valleys along the way. Actually a head-to-head league in which a participant changes his line-up is more conducive to handicapping than the rotisserie style leagues, but both are sources of knowledge.
Using fantasy sports and the foremost sites dedicated to such can make a winning football season more than just a fantasy. That's the real thing.