Collinsworth Invitational: Bouncing back from a Week 1 loss
(Pro Football Focus gave subscribers the opportunity to win a team in the Cris Collinsworth Fantasy Football Invitational, playing alongside celebrities such as Warren Sapp, Jenny McCarthy and of course Cris himself. As the lucky winner of that contest, I will be writing a weekly piece that provides a view into what it’s like playing in a celebrity league and how I will use the PFF tools to give me an edge.)
As we entered Week 1 of the Collinsworth Invitational, I talked about “trust, but verify” — the concept of making sure your beliefs in certain players had not changed leading into the start of the season. So how’d that work out for me? Well, my Week 1 opponent, Ric Bucher, used that very strategy, starting Spencer Ware and we all know how that turned out. But he also combined teammates for fantasy glory, with Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks in the same starting lineup. The result is one of my more embarrassing defeats with Ric doubling my score as he won 150-73.
As I lick my wounds, my Week 2 opponent is none other the commissioner himself, Cris Collinsworth. There is no better way to seek redemption than handing defeat to the boss, and Week 2 is my chance to do it. At the top of my agenda will be following the lead of leaguemate Gary Vaynerchuk and becoming a Jets fan. Collinsworth had both Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins stacked in that Thursday night game so I was cheering J-E-T-S in that one.
Putting the tools to use
Besides cheering against the Bills, my other strategy this week is to put the tools of Pro Football Focus to good use as I prepare for the week. I need to avoid a repeat of my Week 1 performance and that means I have some work to do:
- Use the PFF Weekly Rankings to make lineup decisions: While defense isn’t a high-scoring position in this league, you still don’t want a goose egg in the lineup. My Cincinnati Bengals are going against the Steelers in a game with a 48-point over/under. The result is the PFF experts rank them as the DEF19 this week. On the hand, Jeff Ratcliffe has Oakland ranked as his No. 3 defense as they look to rebound at home. If this wasn’t enough, Oakland was also called out by Mike Tagliere as the top defense to stream in Week 2. So I went ahead and picked up Oakland from the waiver wire and put the Bengals on my bench.
- Replace my best value pick of the Invitational draft: Speaking of the waiver wire, Week 1 saw me lose Keenan Allen for the season. Allen was a steal for me as my WR3 in the fourth round so this loss really hurts. PFF helped ease the pain with their waiver-wire target I decided to go with Mike Wallace, who flashed big-play ability in Week 1 with a 66-yard touchdown. While Wallace was horrible in 2015, Flacco loves to throw the deep ball and I think Wallace might just return to the form we saw earlier in his career. He won’t come anywhere close to replacing the target monster that was Allen, but it’s a step in the right direction.
- Snaps, Pace and Stats to find fantasy goodness: One of my favorite weekly PFF articles — both for season-long and DFS — is the Snaps, Pace and Stats by Pat Thorman. As Pat describes it, this article is “where we examine trends in snap totals and no-huddle usage. It is meant as a 30,000-foot view of upcoming games, with the goal of identifying which matchups will — and which will not — be played on fertile fantasy soil.” The first game covered in this week’s article is the Giants vs. the Saints. With Eli Manning as my QB, it reaffirmed the potential for him this week. But given the high pace and snap count likely in this game, I am also giving Coby Fleener a second chance. With all the points put up by the Saints in Week 1, the stat line for Fleener was concerning. If he can’t turn that around in this high paced game, I’ll be looking for a new option in Week 3.
With that, time to see if my team can turn it around in Week 2.