2013 ESPN Fantasy Football Magazine: 10 Reasons Not to Buy
ESPN's Fantasy Football Magazine is back! Not that I'm excited to read the projections, or anything like that. When I saw it on the magazine stand at the local Barnes & Noble, I immediately thought, "Hooray, I can make fun of this POS again!"
I haven't bashed ESPN's fantasy magazine since 2010. I published an entire article highlighting its errors and omissions. I also did the same thing for the 2008 version. ESPN didn't release its fantasy mag in 2011 because of the lockout. I don't know if there was a 2012 version, but ESPN brought it back for 2013, which made me extremely happy.
ESPN has done a good job of clearing up its factual errors. I honestly couldn't find any mistakes like "Austin Miles" or "Dust when you thought he was done, Lewis pulled us all back in," or the famous Quinn Sypniewski projected stat line of 21-152-1 despite his season-ending ACL injury, which was noted in the capsule. Instead, I'm going to focus on why the ESPN Fantasy Football Magazine sucks.
Now, before I get to my list of 10 items, I'd like to highlight that there are some useful nuggets in this magazine. For instance, ESPN did a study of which draft positions win and lose most frequently, and it determined that the first spot was the best last year, while those choosing No. 10 had the least success.
This is cool stuff, but what about the 11th and 12th picks? ESPN continues to push 10-man leagues, which, as Leelee pointed out, is a gimmick to help them increase Web site traffic because it's easier to stay competitive in a 10-man format than it is in 12-team leagues. So, even when ESPN does something good, it's clouded by an agenda. Figures.
At any rate, here are 10 reasons why you should avoid purchasing ESPN's fantasy magazine, unless, of course, you need some toilet paper.
1. Outdated Info:
I've often been asked, "Why don't you publish a fantasy magazine?" It's because all fantasy mags are useless, no matter how good the content is. Things change every day, so one signing or one injury can make everything outdated.
For instance, ESPN has rankings of top sophomore players on Page 6. Vick Ballard is their No. 3 sophomore for this season. This would've made sense back in May, but the Colts signed Ahmad Bradshaw. Thus, this entire page is now obsolete.
Here's another example: In the mag's only mock draft - a useless 10-teamer, of course - Aaron Hernandez is the fourth pick in Round 4. Now, everyone knows that Hernandez is not playing this year, but this entire mock draft is now more worthless than it was in the first place because the information is out of date.
The point is, if you're a serious fantasy player, you have to read up on stuff online because you'll actually get current information.
ESPN published a "Master Strategy Guide" on pages 12-19. Here's Step 3:
"Get out side your comfort zone and try an auction league."
Some master strategy there!
You'd think that ESPN would follow that up with an entire breakdown of auction strategy and perhaps an auction mock draft, but all they had were three tips from Eric Karabell.
3. PPR Challenge:
Here's Step 5 of the master strategy guide:
"Take your buddy's challenge and join a PPR league."
Since when is a PPR league a "challenge?" And what if an a**hole "challenges" me to a PPR league instead of a buddy? Do I accept this "challenge," or do I simply reply, "Nah, I'm going to play it safe and be in a standard format?"
Who is ESPN catering to with this crap? They must seriously think their readers are 12-year-olds. I'd say most fantasy players have participated in a PPR league at one point or another, so I don't think it can be referred to as a "challenge." Now, a 2-QB, 3-RB, 4-WR, 2-TE league? There's a challenge you can accept from a buddy or an a**hole.
4. Handcuff Advice:
In Step 10 of the master strategy guide, a Frenchman named Pierre Becquey argues that drafting a handcuff for one of your friends' fantasy studs could be beneficial. That's actually good advice. However, Becquey ends up writing: "What if you're a Ray Rice owner and instead of taking Bernard Pierce you take Toby Gerhart. Now if Peterson goes down, you're holding a player you can play in addition to your top back, not instead of him."
Hurrr, durrr, OK I'm going to draft Gerhart over Pierce then - except that Gerhart is ranked 68th in this mag, as opposed to Pierce, who is 42nd. Oh, and even if Peterson goes down, are you actually going to start Gerhart? He's terrible, hence the 68th spot.
Great advice, Frenchie.
5. Draft Adrian Peterson:
I'd be remiss if I left out Step 11 of the master strategy guide. It's quite a gem:
"Draft Adrian Peterson! Sure, everybody knows that. But it's worth repeating."
It's worth repeating? Really? This is the advice you're going to give to your readers? Even if ESPN's wet dream came true and all fantasy leagues were 10-teamers, this "tip" would only be good for 10 percent of the readers. What about the guy who's choosing ninth? How can he draft Peterson?
ESPN has a list of eight sleepers and busts on Page 27. Some of the sleepers are solid ones like Carson Palmer, Rob Housler, Alshon Jeffery, Dwayne Allen and T.Y. Hilton. However, one sticks out: Eric Karabell's selection of Reggie Bush.
What an interesting sleeper choice! I'll be sure to draft Bush in the ninth or 10th round. Oh, wait, his average draft position right now is 2.09.
Seriously, how can ESPN publish this junk? You can't list a player as a sleeper when he's constantly being drafted at the end of the second round! What sort of fantasy leagues does Karabell participate in? I'm willing to bet that he's an owner of a team in a four-man league.
I guess it's only a matter of time before ESPN begins promoting those.
7. Mock Draft:
I mentioned the mock draft earlier, and how dumb it is because it's only a 10-teamer. It would be great if ESPN published several mock drafts: one 10-teamer, one 12-teamer, one PPR (even though it's a challenge), one auction and perhaps one 2-QB. But that would require ESPN not to cater to 12-year-olds.
There were many dumb and outdated selections in this mock draft, but I'd like to focus on three:
7.03 - Seahawks Defense: I don't think anyone should ever draft a fantasy defense prior to the 15th round. If you want to take one in Rounds 12, 11 or even 10, whatever. That's fine. But the seventh round!? Are you freaking kidding me?
8.07 - Broncos Defense: Another wasted pick. Seriously, all you have to do is pick up fantasy defenses playing crappy offenses each week. It works like a charm. I delve into this in the 2013 Fantasy Football Defense Rankings page.
16.08 - Miguel Maysonet: I'm all for taking crazy fliers in the final couple of rounds, but Miguel Maysonet? Who? Oh, the Stony Brook rookie who was cut by the Eagles on May 19? He's currently with the Browns, but ESPN lists him as "Miguel Maysonet, PHI," so this Daube person who drafted him obviously thought he was going to have a big role in Chip Kelly's offense. Derp.
8. Weird Writing:
Some of the player analysis is very strange. For instance, here's the opening sentence in Bernard Pierce's capsule: "Remember way back at the 2012 combine when Pierce set off red flags by benching only 17 reps of 225 pounds?"
What? First of all, who the hell remembers stuff like that? There are some individuals who have eidetic memories, but most people don't catalogue useless things like combine bench press numbers in their brain. And second, 17 reps of 225 pounds isn't that big of a deal. Had Pierce benched 225 four times or so, there would've been real red flags. But I don't think a single person was concerned about Pierce's 17 reps. I looked back, and neither Charlie nor I made a big fuss about this.
How about some other weird stuff? Jamaal Charles' capsule: "Only a year removed from ACL surgery, J-Mail still produced 1,745 total yards..."
J-Mail? Who the hell is J-Mail? Oh, Jamaal Charles because Jamaal sounds like J-Mail, ooohhhh I get it!!!!
Seriously, who calls Jamaal Charles "J-Mail?" I've never heard this before. Apparently, Google hasn't either. I did a Google Images search of "J-Mail," and I couldn't find a single picture of Charles.
9. Projected Stats:
I'd like to know how ESPN made its rankings. Do they sort the players based on projected stats? I'll sometimes have a player with worse stats higher than another if I think he has more potential, but I don't quite get what ESPN is doing.
For example, ESPN's 49th quarterback - not sure why they need to rank 49 quarterbacks, but I'll get to that later - is Tyler Wilson, a Raiders' rookie. His projected numbers are as follows: 4 games, 569 yards, 2 TDs.
Wilson, however, is behind Nos. 42-47, Ryan Mallett, Brock Osweiler, Drew Stanton, Shaun Hill, Matt Moore and Matt Barkley. Their projected numbers? All zeroes. ESPN doesn't have any of them starting a single game.
With that in mind, why the hell is Wilson behind those six signal-callers if ESPN expects him to at least produce something? It makes no sense.
10. Deep Rankings:
The first thing you see on the cover of ESPN's fantasy mag, besides the picture of Colin Kaepernick, is "597 player reports."
OK, I think we can all agree that 597 is a very large number. It's also an unnecessary number when it comes to an amount of player reports.
There's no need for 597 player reports. Like really, Seneca Wallace is the 50th quarterback, while John Skelton is 56th. Does anyone need to know that Wallace is ranked ahead of Skelton? In what world is anyone going to draft either of these two guys? ESPN loves to promote 10-team leagues, so no one in their readership base is going to care that Wallace is ahead of Skelton, or vice versa.
Likewise, in the running back rankings, Rex Burkhead (99th) was slotted one spot ahead of Cierre Wood (100th). Why is this important information? Who in the world needs to know that Burkhead is a better fantasy bet than Wood?
Instead of wasting space with useless deep player rankings, perhaps ESPN should have two sets of rankings for running backs, receivers and tight ends: one for standard formats and one for PPR leagues. That would make much more sense than deciding who should be higher between Burkhead and Wood, right?
Unfortunately, this is never going to happen - because ESPN caters to 12-year-old idiots who perceive PPR leagues to be too much of a challenge.
Be sure to check out my other 2013 Fantasy Football articles, which will include mock drafts, rankings, sleepers, busts, cheat sheets and other things.