Fantasy Bookmaker #2
By Jeff Tefertiller
July 5th, 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? 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?

This article will examine the chances of rookies to produce more fantasy points than the incumbents.

Carson Palmer (+200) vs. Andy Dalton - Palmer has not been the same quarterback the past few years. The former first overall pick in the 2004 draft has seen his numbers decline since the big injury in the 2008 season. In the three seasons prior to the injury (2005-2007), Palmer was a Top 5 fantasy passer twice, with a top-place finish in 2005. In the two seasons since the knee injury, the veteran only has QB18 and QB12 finishes respectively. Even with two very good wide receivers last season, a QB12 finish was not a great one. The issue is with Palmer's ability, not weapons. This is why the team decided to draft Dalton at the beginning of the second round in April's NFL Draft. As most know, Palmer has threatened to retire if he is not traded. The former USC star says that, with $50 million in the bank, he does not have to play. Owner Mike Brown is as stubborn as they come so the mettle of both men will be tested. Brown wants Palmer to return to Cincinnati, to play one more year, and mentor the rookie. He vows not to trade the veteran. The outcome of Palmer's trade demand is anyone's guess. But, Dalton will see action one way or the other. The club is starting to rebuild the offense and will want to see what they have in the rookie. So, even if Palmer relents, he will give up the starting gig by midseason, especially if Cincinnati's record is poor. This is his last year under contract with the Bengals so a departure is coming, just the timing is unknown. Dalton is the favorite due to the reports of Palmer not backing down from his threat to retire if not traded.

Chris Wells (+250) vs Ryan Williams - The Arizona Cardinals have made it apparent that they want a strong ground attack. The team used a first round pick in 2009 on Wells. He has struggled as a professional after enjoying success at Ohio State. The coaching staff has lost all faith in the youngster (still only 22 years old). He has not run aggressively for a bigger ball carrier. Wells averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in 2010. Tim Hightower has been more effective carrying the ball than the highly touted Wells. But, neither has played well enough to be the long-term option. This led Arizona to select Williams in the second round this past April. The rookie had an awesome 2009 college campaign at Virginia Tech before disappointing in 2010. If he plays remotely close to the 2009 level, Wells will be nothing more than an afterthought. The Arizona coaching staff showed with Wells that they are not afraid to give a rookie tailback meaningful carries. Williams has to be the favorite with the way Wells has disappointed. He could take the job day one and not relinquish. It would be difficult to rely on Wells. The upside of Williams makes him the big favorite in this matchup.

Mikel Leshoure (+175) vs Jahvid Best - It will be interesting to see how the Lions utilize this explosive duo. Best flashed ability as a rookie last year, but also had long stretches of merely average play. Can he take a big step in his development? Of Best's 141 fantasy points throughout 15 games last season, 41 came in just one week. His huge outburst against the Philadelphia Eagles in week two was awesome (232 total offensive yards and three combined touchdowns). But, Best only topped ten fantasy points in a game four times the entire season. Making things worse were the big number of BAD outings. Yes, some of the blame lies at the feet of the offensive line. But in more than half (eight out of fifteen) games, Best averaged just 3.0 yards per carry or worse. Many will point to the nagging turf toe injury of Best as a reason for the poor games, but many professional athletes deal with injuries. The drafting of Leshoure in the second round was not by accident. He will be given carries early on. The roles of the two youngsters have yet to be sorted out. Leshoure is a big powerful back who is surprisingly quick and a good receiver out of the backfield. These two runners have complementary styles. The only question will come down to their roles. Best is the early favorite. With a year in the offense, he has a lead on the rookie. It will be difficult for Leshoure to get up to speed quickly. But, Best better play well or he may be relegated to change-of-pace duties and snaps on obvious passing downs.

Roy Helu (+325) vs Ryan Torain - One thing most can count on is that Mike Shanahan likes "his" guys. Torain definitely fits the bill. He was drafted by the coach while in Denver and followed him to the Nation's Capitol. In just ten games last season, Torain 4.5 yards per carry and was the RB33 overall. One thing Shanahan knows how to do is run the football. His backs were prolific while in Denver. Torain has found bad luck in trying to remain healthy. He will enter the preseason as the favorite, but must prove his durability. In Helu, the Redskins found a big back who possesses very good speed. Fantasy owners know not to discount the the fourth rounder because anything is possible when Shanahan is the coach. Could Helu be the next Mike Anderson or Olandis Gary? Torain could use the strong 2010 season to catapult into a big year. The way Shanahan likes veterans, the former Bronco has to be the prohibited favorite in this matchup.

Mohamed Massaquoi (+500) vs Greg Little - Even after missing the entire 2010 season at North Carolina, Little was drafted to be the top wide receiver in Cleveland. The Browns traded down in the first round with the hopes of landing Little at the top of the second. He has the makings of a superstar. However, the off the field issues are a concern. Will the rookie be able to pick up the offense and make a fantasy difference in year one? The transition from the college ranks to the NFL is difficult for most wide receivers. Massaquoi was also drafted in the second round, but in the 2009 draft. He has yet to break the Top 50 fantasy receivers, defining his underdog status. The chances are that neither young wideout will be a fantasy star with Colt McCoy under center. The noodle-armed McCoy does not throw the ball well down the field. Massaquoi's frequent dropped passes will only lead to the former Texas passer forcing the pall to Little.

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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