Possibly the most fascinating thing to me in observing Fantasy Football Draft
preparation is the dichotomy of people laboring over a decision between one RB versus
another RB, or WR versus WR, and the hours of study, philosophy, theory and prep
they put into the "glamour" positions. Then, when asked about selecting a Team
Defense; it's crickets chirping.
There is often little
or no preparation concerning Team Defense and it's, "oh, who can figure out Defenses", or even worse
they make the 1980's or 1990's rewind picks of former great past Defenses like the
Bears (Buddy Ryan is not walking through that door...), or the Giants (Parcells
and Belichick have been gone awhile), or the Ravens (Rex Ryan is not walking
through that door...); just to name a few. The point being -- no preparation
no study on any position/situation is an amazing miss playing Fantasy Football. If you are just going to
"shoot from the hip" and hop around
Defense-to-Defense all season, you are always
likely to be one week too late taking the "hot"
Defense. If you don't subscribe to studying for
your Defense and/or don't want to use an early pick for one, or even if you do
study the Defenses -- have you considered the San Diego Chargers Defense?
I know Antonio Cromartie is gone, and Shawne Merriman is no longer an elite
player. Which is pretty much like it was in 2009 (Cromartie gone mentally). The
Chargers GM A.J. Smith has been an elite evaluator of talent in the NFL for
awhile now, I trust that he would not leave the "cupboard bare". But, this isn't
about the Chargers personnel (for the most part). It is about their 2010
schedule, actually it is about their first 6 weeks of schedule in 2010.
Personnel and scheme matter, but a talented opposition can neutralize the
best Defenses; as well a weak opponent can enhance a mediocre Defense. Take the
2009 San Diego Chargers, not particularly great at anything on Defense; not
awful either. Their key NFL Team Defense rankings from 2009:
- 16th overall in total yards allowed
- 11th most passing yards allowed
- 20th most rushing yards allowed
- 11th least amount of Points per Game given up
- 13th most sacks
- 20th most interceptions
- 16th most recovered fumbles
To go along with the mediocre theme, the 2009 San Diego Team Defense scored 7.2
FF PPG (traditional scoring, no KR points, Games 1-15 only). That was 15th best
in the NFL/Fantasy Football. The Chargers did, however, excel at something on Defense in 2009.
The Chargers posted 9.4 FF PPG (same scoring parameters mentioned prior) when
facing the lowest level QB's (KC 2x, OAK 2x and Cleveland) in 2009. Any team
9.4 FF PPG for an entire season for Team Defense would be Top-5 FF scoring
production. As opposed to the same Chargers Team Defense scoring only 5.0 FF PPG
against the Top-Tier QB's they faced in 2009 (Roethlisberger, Eli, McNabb,
Romo). A +4.4 swing per game facing the bottom level QB's versus the Top-Tier
Increased scoring against lower level QB's is not a special phenomena, it's 90+% true of all NFL Team Defenses for Fantasy Football. The key
of this entire article
being, the Chargers come out the gates avoiding any Top-QB's but catching a lot
of lower level ones for 6 straight weeks..
WEEK 1 = @ KC, Matt Cassel was barely over 50% completions vs. SD last season
with 2 TD's and 4 INT's. The Chargers Team Defense racked up 14.5 FF PPG in 2
meetings against Cassel in 2009.
WEEK 2 = vs. Jacksonville, the Jags and David Garrard have not been
particularly exciting against anyone offensively. All NFL Team Defenses averaged 8.1 FF PPG
versus Jacksonville (overall NFL/FF Team D avg PPG was 6.8).
WEEK 3 = @ Seattle, the Seahawks are not an offensive juggernaut. NFL Team
Defenses scored 7.9 FF PPG against them in 2009.
WEEK 4 = vs. Arizona, Matt Leinart or Derek Anderson....need I say more?
WEEK 5 = @ OAK, will be a little trickier now with Jason Campbell but Oakland
likely to be good (upgraded from awful) on Offense, can't classify them as a
power-house at this point.
WEEK 6 = @ STL, you have to love a Team Defense when it faces a rookie
(assuming Sam Bradford by now). Team Defenses against Josh Freeman and Matt
Stafford pulled 9.9 FF PPG, and 8.0 FF PPG against Mark Sanchez in 2009. Facing
rookie QB's offered a higher proportion of times the Team D grabbed 15+ FF
points scored in a game.
WEEK 7 = vs. NE, head for the exits by now. Matt Schaub and Peyton Manning
are looming in the next few weeks too.
6 weeks of likely above average, Top-5 Team Defense level scoring perhaps.
Possibly leaving you with trade value as well? All this, and not to mention that
if Kick Returns is a scoring consideration in your league you then have a top return man
Sproles that might pop a return TD in there as well.
San Diego is a nice option the first 6 weeks,
or even a backstop/occasional substitute for top
rated Fantasy Defenses. A few possible uses of
the San Diego D as your "back up" Defense (first
- Jets D, Week 2 vs. NE
- 49ers D, Week 2 vs. NO and Week 5 @ PHI
- Bengals D, Week 1 @ NE, and Week 6 BYE
- Steelers D Week 5 BYE
- Saints D, Week 1 vs. MIN
Squeezing/creating an extra 3-4-5+ points per
game is what we should do at every turn as
Fantasy Football GM's. We will have total
anxiety over not getting (example) Drew Brees,
or anxiety over trying to get any "Big 3"
QB...yet (example) Donovan McNabb scored only 2
FF PPG less than Brees in 2009 (trad. scoring,
Two points separated Brees and McNabb (also 2
FF PPG points separated Brees from Big Ben,
Rivers, Brady, Favre, Schaub, Romo), yet Brees
will go Round 1 this year and McNabb will go 6th
Round? 8th Round? 10th Round? All the others
mentioned will all go later than Brees. People
would lose sleep without a Top-3 QB and yet in
2009 it was only a 2-4 FF PPG difference versus
the next tier of QB's. A waste of a high draft
pick in my estimation. Team Defenses and their
schedule matchups can give you those 2-4 FF
points back and then some, but for most
people...Team Defense = yawn.
The San Diego Chargers Defense looks like it
could provide an excellent opportunity to cherry
pick some Fantasy points, or be a mainstay
....for just 6 Weeks.
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