Fantasy Bookmaker
By Jeff Tefertiller
June 20th, 2011

Value is a tough thing for most fantasy footballers to quantify. How do I compare two players at the same position in different parts of fantasy drafts? After much positive feedback last year, it is time to get the series fired back up. These articles attempt to serve as a mechanism of packaging the concept of value in a way many are familiar. The money line odds below are a function of the players' respective ADPs (Average Draft Position) compared to their expected finish for the 2011 season. So, which player has the better chance of finishing higher the end of the season? Do the weighted odds induce you to choosing one player over another?

The money line represents a percent chance of winning. It is basically the odds to win expressed in terms of money. For the purpose of this article, "winning" is having the better fantasy season. With money odds, whenever there is a minus (-) you put up that amount to win a hundred dollars. Where there is a plus (+) you get that amount for every hundred dollars wagered. Obviously there is no wagering involved in this article, but just another way to represent the differing values for players.

So, for the players below, we will be comparing the their values. The money line is an imaginary line based off the ADPs for both players. We are not advocating gambling, but if you were to wager an imaginary $100 on which player you think will have the better season - given the odds - which player would you "bet" on?

Tony Romo (+200) vs Tom Brady - As the favorite, the focus should be on the New England quarterback. Brady is coming off his second finish as the top fantasy passer in just four seasons. What is amazing is that Tom Terrific did this without a legitimate play-making wideout. Wes Welker slowly regained his quickness through the year. Deion Branch was added back into the fold via trade. The running backs were weapons out of the backfield. But, the main reason Brady finished as QB1 was the huge production from the rookie tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The newcomers combined for 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns. To put this into perspective, the Patriot quarterback only threw for 2,800 yards and 18 scores to the wide receivers and running backs. The big question for the New England passing game is whether or not the tight ends can duplicate the huge impact. This lone factor could dictate the outcome of the quarterback matchup. Tony Romo is coming off an injury-plagued season. Their is hope for a rebound season. Jason Garrett is now the head coach. Dez Bryant is a year older (and hopefully more mature) and should be back to full health. When we examine the weapons Romo has at his disposal, it is easy to get excited about a stellar 2011 campaign. Dallas arguably has the best weapons of ANY team in the NFL. With Miles Austin and Bryant at receiver, Jason Witten at tight end, and a cache of very good receiving threats at the running back position ... a prolific season is within reason. Marion Barber is not expected back in Big D so the running game will revolve around Felix Jones and rookie DeMarco Murray, both very good play-makers in the open field. Brady is coming off a terrific season but Romo has the better cache of weapons. If we look at the respective ADP for each passer, Brady is a steal as the fifth passer off the board at pick 29 while Romo is QB7 at the 40th overall selection. Given the ADP and the odds, which would you take?

Jake Locker (+175) vs Christian Ponder - A battle of rookie passers. Ponder is the favorite for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is easy to like the wide receivers he has at his disposal. Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin are great play makers in the open field. Also, Ponder was trumpeted as the most "pro ready" of the rookie crop of quarterbacks. He should be able to run the Viking offense, but do not expect huge fantasy numbers in year one. The passing numbers at Florida State were not that outstanding. Locker is an enigma to most. It would not be surprising if he was a superstar and quickly rose, like cream, to the top of the first-year passers. On the flip side, it would not be a shock if he, and his erratic arm, flopped with the Titans. Locker is a great athlete who should improve with better coaching. Tennessee does not have many good receiving threats outside of the troubled Kenny Britt. The Titans are a team in transition with a new coach. Both rookie quarterbacks do benefit from handing off to the best running backs in football. Expect each to execute a conservative offense. Of the two, the Titans seem to be more likely to bring in a veteran to give the rookie a chance to watch and learn for a while. Kerry Collins is still waiting in the wings at the twilight of his career. If Britt is suspended, there is NO chance the team starts the rookie with no viable receivers to target. That would be crazy. While it is possible the Vikings bring in a veteran player like Donovan McNabb, Ponder will get his chance soon either way. The team will want to see what they have in the youngster. So, this matchup likely comes down to which NFL newcomer will see more snaps. Even if close, Ponder has more prolific receivers and should have the better numbers, even though neither should be a fantasy force in 2011.

DeAngelo Williams (+150) vs Jonathan Stewart - When this series of articles began last season, the odds were flipped around the other way for the pair of Carolina ball carriers. But, with Williams likely playing elsewhere in 2011, Stewart has the chance to be the bellcow fantasy owners have long awaited. Last year, Stewart had an opportunity to shine after Williams was injured and only played in eight games. But, rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen just could not muster much offense for the Panthers. He barely averaged 125 passing yards per game so opposing defenses focused on stopping the run. There were few long, extended drives, few touchdown opportunities, and a lower yards per carry average than in previous seasons for the young back. There are still plenty of questions surrounding the Carolina running game. Will Clausen and rookie Cam Newton play well enough to keep defenses honest? Is there a chance Williams returns, thus limiting the upside of Stewart? If so, will he regain the lead back role? If Williams departs, how well will Stewart and Mike Goodson hold up given the injury history of both? With the assumption that Williams leaves via free agency (or trade), he should be able to garner the starting gig in a better situation than Stewart inherits. Will their respective ADP give us a clue as to which should be the favorite? Interestingly, these two ball carriers are currently drafted as the BR19 and RB20 off the board, with Stewart selected six picks earlier in drafts. Williams seems to be the better choice given what we know now. If he lands in a good situation, his ADP will rise exponentially. Stewart will likely be limited by the Carolina Panther offense enough to make Williams, as an underdog, the play.

Dez Bryant (+200) vs Miles Austin - As noted above, the Cowboys have two of the better wide receivers in the NFL. Both are speedy and can make plays after the catch. Admittedly, it will be difficult for these two pass catchers and Witten to be worth their respective ADPs. If we look back in recent Dallas history, the 2006 season was the last with two wide receivers topping the 1,000-yard mark. But, Witten only had 700 yards that season. His emergence has led to the decreased production from the WR2 position. Simply, there are not enough targets to go around. The optimistic fantasy owners will combine last year's numbers for Bryant and Roy Williams, who started off the season on fire, to get top statistics for all three of Romo's targets. This is a tad unrealistic. Something has to give. The ADPs give us insight to the receiver who is the better value. Miles Austin, coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, is drafted as WR12 in the last of the third round. His young counterpart is selected only ten picks later. Even though he is the favorite in this matchup, Austin is the better value. The veteran is a proven commodity and makes big plays. While Bryant has upside only few in the NFL can boast, he still has some warts and concerns. It is difficult to discuss the former Oklahoma State star without mentioning his off the field troubles. In addition, he has battled the injury bug the last few years. Can the ultra-talented youngster put it all together and be the elite receiver most expect? Sure. But, as long as he remains healthy, the odds should be weighted heavily in Austin's favor as he has earned the trust of his teammates and the coaching staff. Austin is being drafted near his 2010 finish (WR13) while those drafting Bryant are betting on his upside. The concern is that he is chosen as a high-end fantasy WR2 in the fourth round. Way too much risk for a player with so much risk. Austin and Witten have the confidence Romo (and Garrett). Does the youngster? Like poker, you have to pay too much to see what the river holds.

What players do you want to see matched up in coming installments? Please feel free to email me at tefertiller@footballguys.com with any suggestions or comments. Also, I am on Twitter, so feel free to ask me questions there.

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