Fantasy Football Bookmaker #4
By Jeff Tefertiller
August 24th, 2010

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? This article will serve to package the concept of value in a new way. The money line odds below are a function of the players' respective ADPs (Average Draft Position) compared to their expected finish for the 2010 season. So, which player has the better chance of finishing higher the end of the season? Does it change if the odds are weighted?

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?

Kyle Orton (+200) vs Matt Ryan - While Orton lost his best receiver when the Broncos traded Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins, he still has plenty of upside. Denver does not have the sexiest group of wideouts, but could still enable the starting passer to eclipse Ryan. Even though he gets plenty of hype, Ryan has done little to give his supporters hope for an elite season. The Falcons passer was a mediocre fantasy QB2 last year. Orton has played very well this preseason, even garnering a contract extension last week. He is a value play as the QB27 off the board with a 16th round pick. Ryan is severely overdrafted as QB11 with the first pick in the seventh round. If the two quarterbacks are expected to produce similar numbers why spend the pick on Ryan when that pick could net a receiver like Pierre Garcon, Mike Wallace, or Santana Moss? The respective ADPs make Orton a great value play.

Donovan McNabb (+ 125) vs Joe Flacco - Flacco is another passer who has not been a viable fantasy option but is drafted with high expectations. Yes, he gets the benefit of Anquan Boldin now lined up wide. But, the Baltimore Ravens will still want to run the ball with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. It would be foolish to expect McNabb to produce numbers close to those while in Philadelphia, but Jason Campbell outscored (fantasy-wise) Flacco last year. It is more than reasonable to expect McNabb, a huge upgrade at the position for the Redskins, will score more than Flacco. The Washington passer is a good value as the QB14 in the latter parts of the seven round. Flacco is drafted as a fantasy starter (QB10) in the sixth round. McNabb is the play with the odds.

Dennis Dixon (+125) vs Byron Leftwich - The battle to become Ben Roethlisberger's backup is relevant to fantasy owners. The Pittsburgh starter will miss the first four games of the season due to suspension. Dixon looked great in his extended action during the first preseason game. Leftwich is a veteran and expected to get the job. It is a matter of Dixon's upside compared to Leftwich's experience. Dixon has been playing very well this preseason.

Fred Jackson (+125) vs C.J. Spiller - Jackson was starting to gain steam with drafters before breaking his hand in the first preseason game. Spiller went on to play well in last Thursday's game. With Jackson expected back for the firs regular season game, this could be a very close call. Jackson is expected to get more carries while the Buffalo coaching staff will look to take advantage of the multi-dimensional Spiller. Even though Spiller is very talented, I would lean toward Jackson since should get the most carries. Both Bills runners are value plays at their respective ADPs. Jackson is selected as a low-end fantasy RB3 in the eighth round while Spiller has vaulted all the way up to be drafted in the sixth round.

Steve Slaton(+150) vs Arian Foster - Slaton is looking to make a strong comeback from neck surgery. The Ben Tate injury has catapulted this pair of backs into strong fantasy options at great prices. Slaton needs to show the quickness and explosiveness from his rookie year in 2008. Foster has been getting most of the publicity as the bell cow for the Texans. Slaton is taken as RB48 off the board in the 13th round. Foster is a steal as a fantasy RB4 in the ninth round. The Tate loss, and the severity of Slaton's surgery, has pushed the team to rely heavily on Foster this season. Both players offer good value for the pick used, but Foster is an absolute steal.

Roy Williams (+300) vs Dez Bryant - Dez Bryant enters the NFL with expectations we have not seen since Calvin Johnson. There is no reason a rookie pass catcher should be selected as a fantasy WR3, but he is WR30 in the eighth round. There is no doubt to Bryant's talent and his future ability. But, that is too high of a pick for the first-year player coming off an injury. Could it be possible that the fantasy football drafters have overreacted to Williams? He is drafted as the WR60 off the draft board with the 170th pick overall while Bryant is WR30. This seems a little out of balance even with Williams inconsistent effort and hands.

Jabar Gaffney (+115) vs Eddie Royal - Gaffney finished the 2009 season on a tear. Royal had a monster rookie year in 2008. Which receiver will be the "go to" pass catcher in Denver? Gaffney has the better chance to accumulate more yards and touchdowns while Royal might have more receptions. Gaffney is extremely underappreciated as the WR52 in the 13th round. He could reasonably finish in the Top 20 at the position. Royal is selected as a fantasy WR4 a couple rounds before his teammate. It appears that quarterback Kyle Orton looks to Gaffney when he needs a play.

Lance Moore (+200) vs. Robert Meachem - This is a tricky one. Meachem is coming off a strong fantasy season due to a high touchdown-to-reception ratio. Will he catch more passes or continue to rely on the big play? Moore finished the 2008 season as WR13 before being limited by injury last year. Moore is a good value play as a fantasy WR6 compared to Meachem, who is drafted as a WR3 in the ninth round. Keep Moore in mind in the latter part of your draft. He could regain his form to be a fantasy starter once again.

Anthony Gonzalez (+125) vs Austin Collie - While Gonzalez is now healthy, he has yet to regain his form. The multiple knee surgeries may have zapped his quickness. Collie, who finished as the WR31 last season as a rookie, has been forgotten in drafts this year. He is being selected as WR46. Gonzalez is the WR59 of draft boards. Collie looked good last year, and Peyton Manning appeared to trust the older rookie as the season progressed.

Early Doucet (+250) vs Steve Breaston - Doucet finished the season strong and could make a big splash this season. Breaston is expected to pick up the slack left by the departed Anquan Boldin, but it is Doucet who will play Boldin's position. In Arizona, Fitzgerald and Boldin lined up in the slot to take advantage of mismatches while Breaston usually stayed to the outside. Losing Kurt Warner will hurt both receivers, but Doucet has a legitimate shot to outproduce his fellow Cardinal teammate. If not for having Matt Leinart under center, it would be criminal to allow Doucet to fall all the way down to WR68 (and pick 196 overall). Breaston might be overdrafted as a fantasy WR3. The weak-armed, slow deciding, mistake-prone Leinart will not help fantasy numbers.

Jordy Nelson (+125) vs James Jones - It is a shock that Jordy Nelson goes undrafted in many leagues. By some accounts, he has overtaken Jones as the team's WR3. Jones usually is selected in the last few rounds. Both players have big upside and could produce viable fantasy numbers if Donald Driver or Greg Jennings missed time with injury. The shark move is to take both in the last two rounds of a draft and wait to see if something happens in your favor. If having to pick one, take the underdog Nelson and the odds.

Kevin Walter (pick 'em) vs Jacoby Jones - The Texans' opponents focus on stopping superstar wideout Andre Johnson and tight Owen Daniels. They are Matt Schaub's favorite targets. This leaves Walter and Jones plenty of room to roam. The WR2 in Houston can be a fantasy starter. Walter was very usable in 2008 and it seemed as though Jones finally turned the corner last season. Walter is drafted as WR65 off the board with pick 186 while Jones is selected with the very next pick. Jones has the most potential so he gets the vote with this late of a pick. Whichever one wins the WR2 battle will make a great fantasy 3/4 most weeks ... at a tremendous price.

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

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