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Don't Believe the Hype

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I know you've missed me. Don't worry, I've missed you all too.

While Ray and the rest of the crew here have kept everyone busy with plenty of baseball off-season talk, I've been equally busy. I joined the crew at Rivals.com, working for MichiganPreps.com, the state prep division of their network, and have been out in the frigid, ass-freezing cold (no, the press box wasn't heated) covering playoff games.

I also polled you guys asking about some fantasy basketball coverage, and I plan on bringing some of that. I participated in a 10-team draft just a few days into the season. It's a league with fairly deep rosters, and has been around about 10 years; most people I know, and they're all comparable to the guys that always finish at the top of your fantasy leagues. It's ultra competitive, and I think it's a good benchmark to provide some advice. I'm going to do a little recap article of my draft soon, along with some advice for some adds and drops. A few of my top picks were Devin Harris and Pau Gasol, but thanks to some solid picks I'm still off to a winning start despite the injuries. Like fantasy baseball, it's a grind.

On the subject of what I wanted to really address: football. You've probably noticed that the Fantasy Filmroom has been absent. Similar to guys like Jeremy Green over at ESPN/Scouts Inc. and Christopher Harris at ESPN fantasy (amongst several other of the top leaders), I don't cut corners; I was breaking down film of every NFL game of the week. Without ESPN-like resources, it's tough, and it's time-consuming. I also think that columns like it that go deeper than the typical box score is what can put you a cut above even the other great players in your respective leagues.

So busy covering other areas of the sports world, I realized that I had taken a little tumble in my absence from the column. I was listening to fewer podcasts, spending less time investigating lineup changes and statistics, and most importantly, I wasn't watching nearly as many games.

Now I'm not claiming my team's have gotten worse, although they're definitely losing more. But here's what alarmed me: I've been participating in a Pick 'Em competition for a big pot and slowly, my results have really degraded. The disturbing part? The correlation of picks for the weeks I was writing the Fantasy Filmroom articles (and of course, watching tons of games), and when I stopped.

Weeks 1-5 watching game film: 56/76 (74%)

Weeks 6-8 without watching game film: 24/40 (60%)

Don't get me wrong, I've still been pretty good on the year: I'm in the 86th percentile of picking at 68% on the year, but what a difference visual examination rather than listening to everyone else. Unfortunately, one reason we come to fantasy websites is not all of us have time to sit and study film, or even have access to it. However, if you do, I can't even begin to emphasize what a difference it makes. Not all sports, like baseball, have a sampling of games the size of Allen Iverson's ego where you can simply look at a box score or year-long statistics and see reliable trends. Don't always listen to talk radio or the national media, though, and this applies to your fantasy teams, too. If there's something you've seen yourself, and you have a gut feeling, go for it.

My upset special of the week is the Arizona Cardinals going into Chicago and beating the Bears. I think they needed a wake-up call last week, so hopefully losing fixed the problem. Jay Cutler has looked erratic often this year, and Matt Forte has struggled to find holes on the left side of his offensive line. I think a more focused Cardinals team shows up.

If you want a sneaky play at running back this week, I'm suggesting Justin Forsett of the Seahawks. Yeah, it's a real gem of a sleeper, but I considered picking up and playing him in a league where I have three RBs on their Bye (including Peterson), and also had Leon Washington go down recently. Forsett will now see more touches after Edgerrin James was released, and he and Julius Jones face Detroit. They might be the Lions, but they might as well be Tin Men, because they could use some heart. I think he'll make his touches count.

I've got more in store for you guys this week, stay tuned. Grab a beer and enjoy some NFL today.