Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football 2014: Defenses win, Kickers lose

 

Our overblown fantasy football debate gets wrapped up with kickers and defense, the outcasts of fantasy high school. There are diamonds in the rough. Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in part one of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.

 

TODD:

In culmination of our blown-out fantasy football preview, we must discuss the positions of kicker and defense. These are important spots in a fantasy lineup, even if their value is often disregarded in previews and drafts.

Of course, there is certain logic to their dismissal.

Let’s start with kicker, AKA the red-headed stepchild of fantasy players. In casual leagues, novice players often draft their starting kicker with their ninth-round pick, after all their other starters have been selected. This makes basic sense on the surface. Your ultimate goal is to win the league. If you can only start nine players each week (QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, Flex, TE, DEF, K), your ninth pick should fill out the starting lineup. Otherwise, the pick is being “wasted” on a bench player.

This is obviously faulty logic, especially in fantasy football. Bench players are used so often, it could be argued that a third, fourth or fifth running back is more important than even a starting tight end or backup wide receiver. Because of injuries, bye weeks, matchups and general unpredictability, many of the bench spots are of vital importance, and they are ALL more important than a fantasy kicker.

Kickers do score considerable points in fantasy, especially the good ones. The position should not be eschewed by any means. However, drafting the first kicker and knowing who the best fantasy kicker is going to be are two very different things. There is such a negligible difference between kickers in general that wasting anything but your final pick on one is silly.

There is math to back this up, but it doesn’t seem necessary to get into. Unless you have other thoughts on the subject, walk us right into fantasy defenses. What’s your strategy there?

 

DAN:

Why’s the stepchild have to be red-headed? Either way, kickers are certainly the outcasts of fantasy football. You are spot on with your draft advice and I don’t even need to see the math. I like to think of my fantasy kicker as the under appreciated, semi-attractive girl at a party. Once a season they win you a week, but usually they don’t make it up to the bedroom.

I also have to applaud you for ‘discussing’ the rather obvious position of kicker, while tossing me the giant elephant in the room that is a fantasy football defense. I can recall vividly at least four weeks last fantasy season when I lost because my opponent’s defense managed to score multiple touchdowns. Needless to say, I had a bad year. I’m also happy to report that I can remember quite the opposite happening in season’s past. My defense came up BIG and got me thirty plus points, leading me to victory. Some defenses score touchdowns, while most do not. So how the hell do you figure out which one to draft?

I’d like to tell you that utilizing defensive statistics from the prior season is a good way to draft your new defense. And I hope you have to draft a defense, because if you used a precious keeper slot on one, then there is little hope left for you. Stats are very deceiving for fantasy defenses. Sack numbers are basically meaningless. There are just not enough points involved in sacks. Interceptions are in the same sinking boat, unless the team gets twice as many as everyone else. That only leaves two categories to consider, points against and defensive touchdowns.

Defensive touchdowns are obvious; you want a team that gets takeaways and takes it to the house. Check out their TAINT score (Touchdowns After Interception). These are what swing victories week to week. But more importantly, focus on the points against statistic. A ton of points are handed out each week to defenses that hold teams under ten points. A shut out is obviously a points bump, but more points are given when a team wins by a lot and/or the defense doesn’t allow many points. The odds are also in your favor that the same team who isn’t allowing many points is also getting turnovers etc. Ah the numbers.

My defensive draft strategy is infinitely simpler than any of the stats. I spend my stats time on offensive positions; on players who are harder to judge. I pick my defense on history, system, and swagger. Does the defense have a history of being stingy? Is the system known for being excellent? Do they have at least on guy on the team with swagger?

Here’s my defensive short list. I want one of these teams, but slap me if I reach for one too early in the draft.

San Francisco
Seattle
New England
Baltimore
New York Jets
New Orleans Saints

[Part two - Defense wins Championships... right?]

Tags: 2014 Fantasy Football Fantasy Football Defense Fantasy Football Kicker NFL Sports Debate

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