Burning Questions

Jeff Miller

The cold, quiet night air, unwelcoming as Jeff Fisher to common sense, finds itself alone, and for good reason. The frigid darkness, more piercing than a Phil Simms’ improvised idiom, threatens the countenance of even the heartiest of men. Yet tonight is different. At first, a sound so feint only a great gray wolf traversing a clearing gave notice. As it grew both in volume and pitch, the most unlikely of voices sliced through the darkness like Brian Quick through a defensive secondary.

DLF Editor Ken Kelly leapt to his feet, racing to meet his guest at the door. Opening it slowly, unable to fully comprehend the surreal situation he found himself in, Ken slowly came to realize this moment was anything but fiction. He stared in amazement, mouth agape, as Jeff submitted an article. After three months of pleading via text, email, voxer, telegraph, and tattoo were all met by utter silence, improbably in front of him was the one man who could save us all. And save us he will. From what? Boring intros to fantasy articles, and nothing else, probably.

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Relax, you guys, the important thing is that I’m back.

You did notice I was missing, right?

Since we haven’t had to hear you whine about it, how did your season go?

Bad. Apparently owning Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen, Tyler Eifert, and DeAndre Hopkins on every single roster makes for high variance.

Why don’t you diversify your’ rosters?

Diversifying rosters for the sake of diversity is an awful idea. If you like Player A more than Player B, own more of Player A. If you can trade B for A, do it. Over and over. Why take on all this variance when you could easily mitigate the downside? Because when you raise the floor, the ceiling lowers in kind. Much like Spiderman, I’m a ceiling guy.

To put it in practical terms, let’s say you think Player A will be 5% more productive than Player B. Intentionally choosing the latter over the former is just like making a bet on a coin flip where you put up $100 to your opponents $95 (well, actually 95.24 is 5% less than 100, but you get the point). Sure, you may end up winning money, but to do so will require luck. I do my best to remove as much of the l-word from the proceedings as possible. 

Pushing enough small edges so that they add up into a big edge is a fundamental aspect of all competition. Don’t run from risk. Stick to your guns, own your guys, and hold year head up high while you are doing it.

Do we have to start owning running backs now?

I’ve seen some say the pendulum has swung back towards running back from wide receiver. A gander at our rankings shows DLF’s top-nine ranked backs are all 25 or younger, and if you haven’t heard, the 2017 and 2018 rookie classes are loaded to the hilt. This makes their point one worth considering.

In terms of the criticisms I’ve heard over the theory, the two most common are, “It doesn’t matter how good they are if they are always hurt.” and, “It’s a pass happy league and it’s staying that way.” The first point is hard to argue. The physical, pounding nature of the position lends itself to a high attrition rate. The second point is a more interesting topic.

In 2007, 65.7% of the fantasy points scored by top-50 running backs came on the ground. 10 years later, in 2016, only 59.9% of RB production came on run plays. A glance at those numbers shows clear evidence of the shift in offensive strategy. Lucky for us, running backs can catch the ball. Looking at the same 10 year period, that same group of top-50 rbs from 2016 outscored their counterparts from the past by about two-tenths of a point per game. Basically, for all the hand wringing, running backs score about the same as they have at any point for at least a decade.

If the production is the same, the question becomes one of value. Have running backs been so devalued in dynasty that the position is a buy? This is certainly a question worth exploring in a much more in-depth manner at some point this off-season. In the meantime, I still prefer wide receivers to running backs due to their career length, consistency, and health advantages.

What are your thoughts going forward on the receivers who broke your heart this year?

This is a touchy subject, so I’ll try and be diplomatic. Keenan Allen’s injuries don’t scare me. There aren’t concussion concerns and his soft tissue is just fine, thank you. Lacerated organs and ACL tears happen. I’m not holding either against him.

Just like Allen’s knee, the happenings in Jacksonville and Houston didn’t do much, if anything, to dampen my enthusiasm. As often happens in this world, I’d expect both Hopkins and Robinson to regress to the mean and look something more like what we saw in 2015. The impact of poor quarterbacks has been overstated based on a small sample that sticks out because of how much it impacted the landscape the past four months.

On that note, I am starting work on an article detailing the effects poor (and great) quarterbacks have on their receivers. I’m open to the hypothesis I stated above being an incorrect one, so it should prove to be an interesting study. Look for it soon.


jeff miller