Grading the Gurus: Week 2

In his Love/Hate column last week, Matthew Berry had a message for people who look back on his recommendations to see how many he got right:  “Screw you.”

He has a point.

Fantasy analysis is all about “fancy guessing.”  There are going to be misses, and if you’re just going to harp on them, you’re just being an asshole.  If that’s what I was doing, “screw me” indeed.

But I’m not.  I’m looking at five different columnists and measuring them against each other.  And my hope isn’t to just point out what they missed, it’s also to celebrate what they got right.  As a Fantasy Football player, I know we tend to only remember the bad advice.  So at the end of the season, I’m really hoping to see all these guys doing better than 50%, proving they all have value.   My goal isn’t to point out who’s the worst — it’s merely to see who’s the best.

That said, all these guys are giving advice knowing full well most people pay to be in leagues.  I don’t see anything wrong with injecting a little accountability into things.

Now on with the Week 2 grades…

Matthew Berry, ESPN

Total # of recommendations this week:  23

Good calls:  13

Bad calls:  11

Best call:  Pick-up and start Michael Vick. Vick was a popular rec for analysts, but Berry seemed more excited about him than most, and he was ready to call his shot before most others did.

Worst call:  Loving Devin Aromashadu. That was terrible advice, unless your league values players who work exclusively on kick coverage units.

Close call:  He loved Cadillac Williams. Williams wound up with 5.9 points in most leagues.  Since a lot of leagues don’t even count fractional points, and since that was pretty much an “expected” performance for Cadillac based on where he was drafted, I couldn’t give this one to Mr. Berry.

Percentage of advice that’s actually good:  54%

Notes:  Mr. Berry, I forgive you for telling me to screw myself.

John Halpin, FOX

Total # of recommendations:  9

Good calls:  8

Bad calls:  1

Best call:  Sit Shonn Greene. It’s hard telling people to sit a player likely drafted as their top 1 or 2 RB.  Greene owners are definitely in panic mode now, to say the least.

Worst call:  Sit Mike Sims-Walker.  The guy actually decided to show up, this week.

Close call:  Start Brandon Jackson. If not for a TD that Rodgers allowed him to have out of sympathy, this guy would’ve been a major bust this week.

Percentage of advice that was actually good:  89% (remember, he only makes 9 picks, so this number should swing a lot from really good to really bad from week-to-week)

Notes:  Halpin’s bio says he writes for Foxsports, but his stuff is buried pretty deep there.  It looks like he only appears in their blog section, which isn’t that selective.  But features him prominently, and they say he appears on their TV channel, too.  His Fantasy Football section at is called “Wide Write.”  For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they don’t just call it the more football-proper “Wide Right” except that maybe “Wide Right” is a little too on-the-nose for… Or maybe someone at Fox just loves puns.

Matt Pitzer, USA TODAY

Total # of recommendations:  15

Good calls:  7

Bad calls: 8

Best call:  Suggesting Josh Freeman as a starter. Other Fantasy analysts have called Freeman someone to watch, but Pitzer went one step further and suggested that Freeman could get multiple TDs at Carolina.  He did.

Worst call:  Calling Maurice Jones-Drew a stud. If you’re going use up a “stud” slot on a guy who went in the first round in most leagues, you’d better get it right.  He didn’t.

Close call: Calling Justin Forsett a dud. He put up middling numbers.  If you had to play him as a bye week fill-in guy, you might be content with what he did.  But we’re still two weeks away from bye weeks.  So I gave Pitzer the dud call.

Percentage of advice that was actually good:  47%

Notes:  None.  If he’s not going to bother adding any flair to his picks, I’m not going to in my analysis.

David Sabino,

Total # of recommendations:  7

Good calls: 4

Bad calls: 3

Best call:  Sit Marion Barber. The Dallas running game has been non-existent, as many analysts have duly noted.  But where most have taken aim at Felix Jones, Sabino wisely advised you not to take any chances with Barber either.  Good advice.

Worst call:  Start Eli Manning. In truth, Eli still had two TDs on Sunday night — but he had enough turnovers to negate one entirely in most leagues.  If you were actually happy with Eli’s performance, the rest of your team must be kick-ass.

Close call:  Brandon Jackson.

Percentage of advice that was actually good:  57%

Notes:  If I wind up dropping anyone to follow, it’ll be this guy.  Only 7 picks?  Fantasy advice is only useful to an owner if you mention players he/she might have.

And now it’s time for last week’s winner…

Dr. Juan,

Total number of recommendations:  30

Good calls:  14

Bad calls:  16

Best call:  Sit Vince Young. Who would’ve guessed “the guy who just wins” would get benched?  Dr. Juan, that’s who.

Worst call:  Sit Jahvid Best. I fear for Dr. Juan’s life if anyone actually followed that advice.

Close call:  Start DeAngelo Williams. Dr. Juan’s reasoning:  “Two words, Tampa Bay. ‘Nuff said.” Someone needs to learn that defenses can actually improve from year to year.

Percentage of advice that was actually good:  47%

Notes: Why do I include this guy?  Because all the other guys are affiliated with sports departments at major operations.  Some of them sit in war rooms with the “real” NFL pundits and get first access to injury reports and other information.  This guy, I’m guessing, most definitely does not.  He represents the common fan in this regard, and that’s why he’s here.  Does all that inside-info actually help?  We’ll see…

This week’s winner:  John Halpin, FOX.

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