Expectations are a b-i-t- - . You know what I mean. As an example, I expect to give away a lot of candy tonight at my Halloween haunted house. That expectation will be met with little issue. At the same time I also expect a hottie to cuddle up to me at the bar after I'm done giving away candy, and for her to look deep into my eyes and realize that I could be the best looking superhero that she has ever seen. That expectation is unlikely to be met. So do I look at Halloween and say that I'm ticked off cause my expectations weren't met, or should I look at the situation and just admit what's obvious – given my physical appearance and complete lack of “game” I need to rework my expectations? What the hell does any of this have to do with fantasy football you ask? It's the theme of out of control expectations. In what follows I will posit that many clubs, and fantasy owners, have expectations that simply aren't rational when it comes to certain players. You'll see what I mean in a few moments.
Matt Cassel will start for the Chiefs in Week 9 as Brady Quinn has been ruled out with a head injury (Quinn has been named the starter but since the NFL insists on playing games Thursday's there just isn't time for Quinn to return to full health). Does Cassel stink? Sure, but like we will see with a few other players below, what was his team thinking? Compare his efforts last year to this year.
2011: 59.5 Comp%, 1.11 TDs per game, 190 yards passing
2012: 59.7 Comp%, 1.00 TDs per game, 228 yards passing
People might opine – but Ray, he's thrown 10 interceptions in six games. I would say, that's abysmal. I'd then add, Cassel threw nine interceptions in nine games last season. Again Chiefs and fantasy owners, what were you expecting?
Did everyone just remember that Matthew Stafford is good? Yes the eight passing scores in seven games is pathetic for a guy who threw 41 scores last year, but how about these other salient points? (1) He's completing passes at a 63.3 percent rate. That mark was 63.5 percent last year. (2) He's averaging 301.1 yards passing per game. That would put him on pace for 4,818 passing yards this season. In the history of this game of football that mark has only been bettered seven times. Seven. I should also note that guys like Peyton Manning and Brett Favre never threw for as many yards in a single season. (3) Stafford is on pace to throw 16 interceptions. He threw 16 interceptions last year.
Michael Vick will remain the Eagles QB for at least one more week (I can't believe I even had to type that statement since it should be so obvious). Look Philly folks, what were you expecting from Mr. Vick? I know that data often gets in the way, but here are some facts.
(1) Vick and his teammates are taking on one of the worst defenses in football history in Week 9, a Saints team that has allowed at least 400 yards in each of their seven games this season, the first time a club has ever done that. Ever. Vick should have a big outing this weekend.
(2) Vick has a 59.0 completion percentage this season. That mark was 59.8 last year.
(3) Vick is throwing for an average of 260.4 yards a game this season. That mark was 254.1 last year. Oh, his 260.4 mark is also a career best.
(4) Vick is throwing an average of 1.29 TDs a game. Last year that mark was 1.38 per game.
(5) I know he has turned the ball over 13 times, and that's unacceptable, but it's not like he's ever been good at ball security. In 118 career games Vick has thrown 80 interceptions and lost 39 of 85 fumbles. That's 119 turnovers in 118 career games. It should also be noted that not only did he not toss a pick in his last game but he has thrown only two interceptions in his last five games.
So I'm left to wonder... what were you expectations Philly front office? Even worse, what were you expecting in the fantasy game?
Is Romeo Crennel cagy or the dumbest man in football? The Chiefs HC had this to say after Jamaal Charles touched the ball just eight times in Week 8 even though he was on the field for 59 plays. "I'm not exactly sure," Crennel said. “(Peyton) Hillis was back and he was able to get some caries; he was somewhat effective. When a guy's effective we kind of stay with him a little bit.” Uh, two problems. One, Hillis carried the ball only four times for 23 yards in the game. Second, Charles is literally twice the player that Hillis is. So, after a three week run that saw Charles average 27 carries and 151 yards rushing the Chiefs have given Charles 17 carries the past two games (leading to a total of 44 yards). Obviously you have to question the sanity of a coaching staff that simply isn't utilizing it's best player. I will say this though. Every player, even the elites, have bad games from time to time. Ray Rice had games of 27 and 28 yards last year. He was second in football in rushing yards. Arian Foster had a game when he ran for 33 yards. LeSean McCoy had four games under 40 yards rushing, and Michael Turner, who led the NFC in rushing yards, had games of 20 and 39 yards last season. It's the nature of the beast, but let's hope that the morons in Kansas City haven't become blinded to the fact that the way to move the football is to put in the hands of their best player.
You remember back 10 weeks ago when you were so excited about rostering Ben Tate? Well, you shouldn't have been. Here is what I've been saying for months – Tate is an elite talent, but he simply isn't a weekly play as the handcuff to Arian Foster. No one listened and Tate was often taken well before be should have been (often in the top-75 overall). Well here we sit with the season half over and guess what – that number should have been 125, and it doesn't appear likely to change much in the near term either as Tate just can't seem to get healthy as hamstring and toe issues have been dogging him for much of the year. In fact, Tate has appeared in just six games totaling 43 carries. Ineffective when used, Tate should still be rostered on the off chance that he gets healthy and Foster goes down with injury. Don't mistake what I'm writing here to be a bashing of Tate – it's not. I'm merely pointing out that all those people that thought he was going to run for 1,000 yards this season as a backup were foolish. Could Tate be an RB1 in the fantasy game if Foster was out of the picture? Yes he could be, though at less than 100 percent physically right now he wouldn't be ready even if the opportunity arose.
As for Foster, he's having a great fantasy season as the #1 point producer at the running back position in PPR setups. However, he's simply not performing as he has in the past even with that #1 ranking. On a per touch basis, he's really, really, struggled. Here are his YPC marks the past three years: 4.9, 4.4 and 3.9 this season. That means Foster, the #1 fantasy runner, is averaging fewer yards per carry than Tate (4.1), Donald Brown (4.3) and Jackie Battle (4.4) to name just a few. Foster, who went over 50 receptions in each of the past two years at an average of 60 per season, is on pace for 27 receptions this year. He's also seen his yard per reception mark from fall from better than 10 yards a catch down to 6.4 this season. Face it folks, Foster is only the top dog in fantasy right now because (A) he's seen an increase in his workload (20.9 carries per game the past two years and 24 per game this season), (b) because he has scored 10 times in seven games. In truth, he's been nowhere near as effective this season as he has been the past two campaigns.
Chris Johnson update. Over his last five games he is averaging 110 yards rushing a contest. That is all.
Victor Cruz has just one game of less than five receptions this season (he caught just two balls in Week 8). Cruz has also received at least eight targets each week of the season from Eli Manning.
Larry Fitzgerald is a failure. Or is he? Last year through eight games he had 38 receptions for 646 yards and three touchdowns. Through eight games this year he has 45 receptions, 511 yards and three touchdowns.
Calvin Johnson is a loser. Or is he? Johnson is on pace for two, two, fewer receptions than last year. He's also on pace for more than 1,450 yards receiving. Some failure.
Steve Smith is the only wideout in football who has caught at least 425 yards of passes and failed to record a touchdown. Smith has actually hauled in 589 yards of passes this season, the 11th best mark in football, despite the lack of an end zone spike. It will come.
Reggie Wayne has been a star this season as he leads the NFL in receiving yards with 757 even though the Colts have already had their bye week. Were you aware though that he has only two touchdowns this season? Or how about that he has scored just six times in his last 23 games? Or how about 12 times in his last 39 contests? The yards and receptions better keep coming cause Wayne just isn't getting into the end zone anymore.
In PPR setups, here is what I know that you may not.
The last three weeks Jordy Nelson leads all WRs in points even though he didn't play in Week 8 because of injury. Yeah, gotta be impressed by that.
There is not a single WR who has recorded at least 15 points in each of the past three weeks. Percy Harvin is the closest with games of 24.4, 14.7 and 21.9 points. Speaking of Harvin, he leads all wideouts with a YAC mark of 9.0, the highest mark of any receiver who has caught at least 15 passes (he's pulled in 60). Moreover, there is only one other wideout in the game who had a YAC mark of seven who has caught at least 30 passes. That man is Demaryius Thomas of the Broncos (39 receptions, 8.1 YAC).
Titus Young has 76 points this season with 31 of those points coming in Week 8.
Tony Gonzalez has been an elite performer in PPR leagues this season. At the same time, he's scored only once in four games and the past two games he failed to record even nine fantasy points as he caught seven balls for 71 yards. The Falcons offense is too good to think that Gonzo will just fail, but be sure you are aware of the fact that he is extremely, and I mean ain't happening, unlikely to continue his overall pace.
Brandon Myers wasn't drafted in your league, right? Well, he's been a solid PPR weapon for those that added him off waivers. Myers has caught 31 balls, more than Jimmy Graham (30), Jermichael Finley (28) and Vernon Davis (25) to name just a few, and his total of 383 yards is better than guys like Brandon Pettigrew (374) and Heath Miller (335). So why the trepidation to list Myers as a weekly starter? In the fantasy game we love touchdowns. Myers, I would think, also loves touchdowns, but it's clear from his efforts that he has no idea how to record them. Not only has Myers failed to record a touchdown this season in seven games, the guy has now gone 49 NFL games without a single score.
Jason Witten caught 18 balls for 167 yards in one of the greatest performances by a tight end in league history. Witten has been a beast for the last four games after his slow start to the season. Over the last four games an average Witten performance has been 11 receptions and 103 yards. Too bad he he's scored only one time all year.
In closing, happy Halloween. For a review of my top-10 horror flicks for the season see Halloween & Movies.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9p-12a EDT. To see more of Ray's work follow him at BaseballGuys.com and on Twitter at the BaseballGuys' Twitter Page.