By Brian Spencer
There’s nothing worse than pointless fantasy points.
You see them every week, with maddening consistency: a backup fullback plunges into the endzone from the one-yard line after a stud wide receiver was stopped just short of the goal line following his spectacular 50-yard gain. A third-string tight end hauls in a wide-open touchdown catch after a play-action pass from the three-yard line. Or, even worse, some guy you dumped on waivers after he ran for 25 yards on 20 carries over a three-week period explodes for 150 yards and a handful of scores.
Nobody owns these guys, nobody ever even considered adding these guys, and somebody usually wastes a waiver claim on these guys Monday morning, before realizing a few weeks later that lightening isn’t going to strike again, at least not until after you drop him. Those pointless touchdowns and those useless yards might help their real team win the game, but we all know that the majority of people watching football every Sunday mostly care about just two things: their picks covering the spread, and their fantasy players producing. Real-life wins and losses are but a frivolous subplot.
Consider last week’s matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos (in which Indy easily covered), which was mostly a wash for fantasy regulars except Peyton Manning and Austin Collie, with Kyle Orton not being considered a regular at that point:
– Colts running backs Joseph Addai and Donald Brown combined for 41 yards on 20 carries and 10 yards receiving on 2 catches, with no touchdowns; their Denver counterparts, Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter, weren’t much better in totaling 36 yards on 16 carries and 73 yards receiving on 8 catches. With the exception of Brown, all three guys were considered solid starts (though Buckhalter was only a nominally better play than Brown), but none of them did their owners any favors.
– Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, a borderline first-round fantasy pick, and tight end Dallas Clark, with his Yahoo! ADP of 35.5, caught 9 passes for 109 yards and 0 TDs between them. Meanwhile, Collie, who went undrafted in most fantasy leagues, enjoyed the best game of his young career in going bonkers to the tune of 12 catches for 171 yards and 2 TDs. Blair White, an undrafted rookie out of Michigan State signed from the practice squad that weekend to fill in for an injured Pierre Garcon, was the second-most fantasy productive player in the Colts’ passing attack, catching 3 passes for 27 yards and 1 TD.
– In Week 2, Broncos rookie WR Demaryius Thomas, a first-round pick, had a rousing NFL debut against the Seattle Seahawks, catching 8 passes for 97 yards and a score, and looking really good doing it. He was added in most leagues immediately and slotted into a lot of fantasy starting lineups against the Colts’ middling secondary. After two strong showings, Thomas’ running mate at receiver, Eddie Royal, had also emerged as a reliable target of Kyle Orton, and he too was probably started as a WR3 or flex option.
How’d they do on a day where Orton threw for a career-high of 476 yards? Thomas caught 2 passes for 43 yards, while Royal caught 4 for 23 yards. Instead, it was journeyman Brandon Lloyd popping off for 6 catches, 169 yards, and 1 TD, and veteran Jabar Gaffney doing his best, well, Austin Collie imitation in catching 12 passes for 140 yards. Lloyd is having a fantastic season so far (which is insane), and Gaffney was considered a decent sleeper, but c’mon…
– Speaking of Orton’s 476 yards passing, when was the last time a quarterback piled on that kind of yardage and only threw 1 touchdown pass? How many people were bold enough to start Orton?
Nothing wrecks best-laid fantasy football plans quite like NFL football.