Thursday, July 19, 2012

National Friday League: The New Team Team

The New Team Team
There was a time when I would avoid players who were joining a new team. I feared product of the system guys crashing. I didn't like that statistical analysis of past performance didn't help me make predictions on how they'd be used in their new team. But there have been too many examples of fantasy game breakers in their first seasons with a new team at every position. There is no reason to avoid players on new teams on principle (you can, of course, judge case by case. And always look out for the Alvin Harper Principle: a #2 or #3 WR on a really good offense signs a big contract to be a #1 WR on a bad offense).

So this week let's make a team out of players switching teams.*

QB: Peyton Manning  (also consider: Matt Flynn, David Garrard)

RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Michael Bush (also consider: not drafting a RB on a new team)

WR: Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall (also consider: Brandon Lloyd)

TE: Dallas Clark (also consider: Martellus Bennett, Jacob Tamme)

Analysis: This team sucks. The WRs are serviceable if you got great players at other positions, but with this team you wouldn't. I don't like BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Michael Bush is a backup (but one worth following, as he's a very good player and possible touchdown vulture). I don't like the TEs at all (though Bennett is a worthwhile sleeper: a big target going to a team that throws a lot). I like Manning, but he's the best fantasy player on this team, and you don't want that.

Well that wasn't much fun. But the point of doing these Theme Teams is to organize some of the types of fantasy prospects out there. This year's crop of players on new teams is weak--but that's not always the case. For the hell of it, here are some of the best fantasy performers in their first years with new teams.

QB: Brett Favre '09**, Drew Brees '06
RB: Marshall Faulk '99, Michael Turner '08, Priest Holmes '01
WR: Randy Moss '07, Terrell Owens '04

It's worth noting that a lot of these guys were huuuuge question marks going into what became great fantasy seasons. Favre might have been washed up. Brees might have had a lingering injury. Turner and Holmes were previously only backups. Randy Moss was coming off his worst season by far. So even if guys switching teams don't look like great prospects going into the season, these players are worth keeping your eye on. More often, it seems, players disappoint on new teams, but there are enough season-changing studs that you need to pay attention.

*I used Sports Illustrated's fantasy mag for its really clean list of fantasy-relevant offseason moves.
**My oldest son came into football consciousness in 2009, so his favorite football player is Brett Favre. He knows the #4. I don't know when another player will become his new favorite player.

Previous Theme Teams:
The Team Team
The Sophomore Studs
The Return from Injury Team

Well that's confidence!
Dan Wiederer at Star Tribune looks at five new players on the Vikings' offense and assesses their best case and worst case scenario. Wiederer's worst case scenario for Matt Kalil is that he "is a reliable standout."

Really? There's no chance Kalil will be a bust? His worst case scenario is "reliable standout," not "total disappointment," or "legendary bust"? These things can't happen? Well then.  I guess the Vikings made the right pick.

Kick Ass Links
A very detailed look at the Vikings' fantasy prospects for 2012 (Yahoo!).

The 1991 season (Football Outsiders).

Can Cam Newton do it again? (ESPN).

Vegas odds on Super Bowl winners: Vikes are 80 to 1 (Grantland).

Fans of Adrian Peterson and Ricky Rubio: medical advances have greatly improved players' chances of recovering from knee injuries (Star Tribune).

Adrian Peterson has his own side of the story (Star Tribune).

Fantasy prospects that aren't getting enough respect (Yahoo!).


  1. I was wondering what this week's theme would be. I thought it might be seasoned vets only (not totally sure how I'd define that).

    I think these posts are forcing me to realize my biases. I shy away from rookies and twilight guys (been avoiding Turner for years) but get excited about great players who had a down year last year and guys switching teams (i'm gunning for Branding Lloyd this year, probably because Moss carried me in '07).

  2. I've only been involved in one football fantasy football league, but have taken part in numerous baseball, hockey and basketball pools. My practice has been to always avoid players on the teams I root for because I'll probably overvalue them. I think that has served me fairly well over the years. How do you dudes handle the "homer" effect when drafting your teams?

  3. I've been a terrible homer for years, but I think I'm finally breaking from it (the deterioration of the Viking offense has helped in this area!). Last year without really trying to, I had Percy Harvin in all three leagues I did, just because I valued him more than anybody else did.

    It's actually anti-fandom that's hurt me: I always avoid Packers, even though they are an elite offense. Luckily I'm in leagues that include Packer fans so their values are always slightly inflated too and I don't have to feel too bad about that. This year I'm *trying* not to let the color of the jerseys of what is essentially statistics that I'm drafting affect me--but I don't think it will work. Having Packers on my team--meaning I'm slightly rooting for the Packers--is too soul-killing for me.

  4. I've never had a problem drafting players who play for my favorite team's rivals. But I do try to keep it within moderation.

  5. I stick to my rankings whether home team or rival or neutral. Often Vikes are taken too early by other Vikings fans in my league, so i often don't end up with them.