Fantasy Quick-Hitters: Boldin, Pierre, Berrian and more

Anquan Boldin returned to a limited practice. Boldin said, “It’s only week one. I’d rather sit out game one as opposed to sitting out four or five other games. You just have to use your discretion.” That doesn’t sound good for his prospects of playing in Week 1. Steve Breaston would be first in line to start, but he’s dealing with a sore knee, so Jerheme Urban could potentially eat into Breaston’s snaps.

Pierre Thomas has been officially ruled out for Week 1. Mike Bell, Mike Bell, Mike Bell. I wrote on Tuesday that Thomas owners (and even non-owners) should grab Bell. He’s a solid RB2/flex play against the hapless Detroit rush defense.

Cassel is questionable for Week 1. Not a big surprise here. Owners should probably keep Cassel on the bench even if he does play. The Ravens are a bad matchup for any passing game.

Bernard Berrian and Kevin Walter are both game-time decisions. It would be wise to sit both players even if they do play, assuming that you have a decent option to plug in. It’s tough to battle back from a hamstring injury and be effective right away.

Kyle Orton will start against the Bengals. It’s not a terrible matchup, but Orton’s preseason performance is not encouraging. Only use him if you’re desperate (or you’re in a 2 QB league). It does help that Brandon Marshall is behaving.

Raiders name Darren McFadden as their starting RB. He has had a very impressive preseason, so this is just a formality. Even if he didn’t start, he’s going to play a ton of snaps because he is easily the Raiders most explosive player. (And he better perform, because I started him over Santonio Holmes this week!)

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Fantasy Football: Quarterback By Committee (QBBC)

With the relative depth at the position, one approach to drafting a fantasy quarterback is to spend the first six or seven rounds drafting running backs, wide receivers and even a tight end. Then, in the eighth round or later, start to think about drafting a QB. Oftentimes, the players available in the 4th or 5th round won’t drastically outscore those QBs taken in the 8th or later.

Why is this? Well, one reason is that, once fantasy owners have a starting QB, they tend to draft for depth at running back and wide receiver instead of drafting a backup QB, whom they know probably won’t sniff their starting lineup, except as a bye week fill in.

Another reason is that most leagues require two starting running backs, which means 24 starting RBs in total (assuming a 12-team league). With more and more real NFL teams utilizing a RBBC, the position is much thinner than QB, which requires 12 fantasy starters of 32 real world starters.

Typically, this results in good depth at the QB position, where the expected production from QB10 isn’t all that different than QB20. This year the QB10 off the board is Matt Ryan (7.01) while the QB20 is Joe Flacco (11.02). To illustrate my point, in a “high performance” scoring system (4 pts per pass TD, 1 pt per 20 yards passing), Footballguys projects Ryan to score 255 fantasy points and Flacco to score 235. Are those 20 fantasy points worth burning a 7th round pick instead of an 11th? Over a 17-game schedule, that works out to less than 1.2 fantasy points per week.

In other words, it’s probably not going to cost you too many wins to go with Flacco instead of Ryan. In fact, you’ll probably be better off because the WR or RB you draft in the 7th round (Santana Moss?) is likely to vastly outperform his 11th-round counterpart (Michael Jenkins?). Footballguys projects Moss to outscore Jenkins by 75 points, a 4.4-point per week advantage. So by going with a Moss/Flacco combo instead of a Ryan/Jenkins combo, you’re gaining a net of 3.2 points per week.

Going one step further: why not draft two middle- to late-round quarterbacks whose schedules mesh well together to create a Quarterback By Committee (QBBC)? That way, you can load up on RB, WR and TE talent in the first seven or eight rounds knowing that you’ll still be able to get good QB play from a couple of later picks by taking advantage of the ebbs and flows of each player’s schedule.

To that end, I took the QB strength of schedule data from Footballguys and calculated the per week projections (by using the aforementioned Footballguys projected stats) for every starting quarterback in the league.

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