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The Lowdown – Week 13

Buying the hype, being critical, something to prove, and the Interesting Players of the Week, in this edition of The Lowdown.

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Fantasy Football - JaMarr Chase

Welcome to this edition of the Lowdown. This is my little corner of the fantasy football universe — feel free to pull up a chair and stay a while!

Buying the Hype
One of the worst aspects of my chosen profession is the reliance on others to provide subjective information which is then used to inform largely objective decisions. In common parlance, I have to sort out the facts from the hype.

Take the pre-season hype around Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams. The hype coming out of Denver– including reporters and analysts I know and respect personally– was that Williams would be the starting RB with the lion’s share of carries by Week 4. Gordon was just an early season caretaker for William’s spot as top dog, an insurance policy. All that seemed to make sense, but I wasn’t entirely buying it; by most metrics, Gordon had plenty of good football left in him. If you’re the Broncos’ brass, why toss him aside on an unproven commodity? So in the NERDS pre-season rankings, I coded the Gordon/Williams backfield as a 60/40 split instead of the 80/20 other experts had pegged. Through 11 games, the Gordon/Williams carries split at 54/46. So, score one for this NERD.

On the other hand, when all the news was coming out of Cincinnati regarding Ja’Marr Chase’s dropsies in preseason and practice, I bought into the narrative hook, line and sinker. I fell for the notion that Chase was undisciplined and ill-prepared for the challenge of transitioning to the NFL (despite my good friend Tom Casale‘s warning to the contrary). I decided to override the NERDS rookie algorithms and slap a 15% “dropsies penalty” on Chase, to the point where he fell below Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith in our rankings. Ouch.

At this stage of my career, I generally feel confident in my ability to separate honest subjective analysis from dishonest subjective opinion, but there’s still times when I’ve been completely hoodwinked. So when you’re presented with what seems like a river of hype, do your best to be critical and thorough, taking nothing for granted. You’ll still get fooled on occasion– not to brag, but if it can happen to me, with a couple of degrees in the hard sciences and close to 25 years experience in this game, it’ll happen to you too– but don’t beat yourself up over it. Just make it a point to learn from your mistakes and apply those learnings to the next time you’re faced with the task of assessing the hype.

Class dismissed, grasshopper.

Teams on bye this week: Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans.

Next: the Interesting Players of the Week

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Nerd John is a 25+year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. John’s Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on nine occasions.

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