They are critical to the success of any fantasy team, and savvy owners win championships by identifying future studs early.
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Week 1 gradesHow John Dietz's fantasy football picks fared:
Player, position, team: Output (Grade)
Lance Moore, WR, Saints: TD. 6 catches, 120 yards (A)
Kevin Smith, RB, Lions: TD, 62 rushing yards, 29 receiving (B+)
Jay Cutler, QB, BEARS: 21-for-35, 333 yards, 2 TDs, INT (B+)
Michael Crabtree, WR, Niners: 7 catches, 76 yards (C)
Titus Young, WR, Lions: 1 catch, 14 yards (F)
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: minus-1 yard (F)
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars: 31 rushing yards (Inj.)
Player, position, team: Output (Grade)
Cedric Benson, RB, Packers: 18 rushing yards (A+)
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers: TD, 4 catches, 37 yards (C-)
Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins: 69 rushing yards, 46 receiving (C-)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: TD, 91 rushing yards, (D)
But what's amazing to me about the process is how every league does it differently. Much like snowflakes, no two leagues are alike in how they allow teams to pick up players.
If you are lukewarm to your process, consider one that we've used for four years now that I believe is fair to all teams.
When the season begins, each team has a set amount of money, say $20 or $30 or $40 or $100, whatever fits the dynamic of your league. In our case, it's a $100 entry fee and we give each team $30.
Owners in your league pick players up by submitting a "blind bid" on a website or in an email to a (trusting!) commissioner. Myfantasyleague.com has a great system for this.
Highest bid wins. Simple.
So for example, this week I tried picking up Washington RB Alfred Morris for $9 but was outbid by another team that bid $13. I wasn't completely shut out, though, because you can submit "conditional" bids, and in this case I placed Michael Bush's name under Morris' for $3. So, follow along: Since I didn't get Morris, the computer awarded me Bush since nobody bid higher than $3 for the Bears' backup.
We set a deadline of 9 p.m. Wednesday to turn in blind bids. One quirk in our system is that we don't have a way to pick up players after that deadline. If you want to implement that, I'd say just charge a flat fee (in our case, I'd say $5) for any player or defense an owner wants to acquire.
The beauty of this system is it doesn't allow people in your league who might be millionaires playing with those of much lesser means to just outspend other owners. You have to budget your waiver-wire pool and do your best to make it last all season.
Give it a shot -- I guarantee you'll love it.
Week 1 observations:
So everybody went out and grabbed Morris, Green Bay's Randall Cobb and probably New Orleans' Lance Moore. But there are others who we should keep a close eye on as the season progresses:
•Rams WR Danny Amendola (5 catches for 70 yards on 9 targets). Clearly Sam Bradford's No. 1 option, Amendola makes a decent WR3 play most weeks.
•Niners WR Michael Crabtree (7-76, 9 targets). I grabbed Crabtree (72 catches last season) late in one draft and while he's just my fifth receiver, he's a great guy to have as insurance.
•Cincinnati WR Andrew Hawkins (8-86, 9 targets). That's a pretty solid stat line for the second-year pro out of Toledo. He's definitely worth monitoring.
•Indy TE Coby Fleener, Baltimore TE Dennis Pitta and Minnesota TE Kyle Rudolph. Pitta (5-73, 9 targets) seems to be the most interesting of this bunch, especially the way QB Joe Flacco looked on Monday night. We need to see more from Fleener (6-82) and Rudolph (5-67) but those numbers aren't too shabby and if you are in a 12-team league, they may be viable options soon.
My teams: I'm off to a good start as my auction league team (1 point per 20 yards rushing, 50 passing) won 68-25 with Aaron Rodgers, Darren McFadden and Percy Harvin leading the way. In my regular league (1 point per 10 rushing yards, 25 passing), I piled up 135 points and won by 15. That team is stacked with the likes of Matthew Stafford, Matt Forte, MJD, Harvin, Miles Austin, Dwayne Bowe and Rob Gronkowski.
•Dolphins RB Reggie Bush vs. Oakland. After a very solid opener (115 yards from scrimmage on 20 touches) against a stout Texans defense, Bush will torch the Raiders in Miami's home opener.
•Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Kansas City. Yes, C.J. Spiller should have a monster game, but don't forget about Fitz (3 TD passes) who gets a Chiefs defense that was just abused by Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
•Browns RB Trent Richardson at Cincinnati. The rookie out of Alabama struggled in the opener (19-39), but that was against the Eagles and not a Bengals defense that just allowed 6.8 yards per carry to Ray Rice.
•Bucs RB Doug Martin at New York Giants. Martin's debut was a nice one -- 95 yards on 24 carries. Watch for about 75-80 rushing yards with 3-5 receptions vs. the G-Men.
•Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb at New England. Bold prediction: Kolb is a top-5 fantasy QB in Week 2. Makes sense, right? He'll be passing all day trying to keep Arizona in the game and should end up with a stat line that looks like this: 27-for-42, 327 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs.
•Broncos QB Peyton Manning and WR Eric Decker at Atlanta. This game has 44-41 written all over it. Pray you're not facing any of the offensive playmakers littered all over these rosters.
•Saints WR Lance Moore at Carolina. Only started in 24 percent of cbssportsline leagues, Moore doesn't get the respect he deserves. The guy has 8 TD receptions in the last nine games and should be a solid WR3 all season.
•Rams WR Danny Amendola vs. Washington. I will try and take a Dark Horse candidate each week, so let's start with Amendola.
•Eagles QB Michael Vick vs. Baltimore. When a player looks as awful as Vick did last week against Cleveland, one must sound the alarm. Among second-tier QBs, I believe Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kevin Kolb will both outpoint Vick.
•Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Mike Wallace vs. the Jets. This will be an ugly 16-13 final with fantasy points tough to come by.
•Lions RB Kevin Smith at San Francisco. Great opener by Smith -- now do the smart thing and affix him to your bench as he faces a nearly impenetrable front seven.
•Ravens WR Anquan Boldin at Philadelphia. He managed 63 yards and a TD last week, but it came on just 5 targets. Boldin's a dicey play in this game.
•Jets RB Shonn Greene at Pittsburgh. With New York destroying the bumbling Bills, Greene racked up 27 carries. Thing is, he managed just 94 yards -- a paltry 3.5 yards per attempt. Watch for about 55-65 yards as the Jets come back to planet Earth.