Saturday, February 13, 2010

Winter vs. Berry: The Results!

Here's a post nearly six months in the making. And boy, have I been salivating over this one.

Back in November of 2008, I stumbled across ESPN fantasy "guru" Matthew Berry's "bold predictions" for the upcoming season, most of which were so absurd as to be laughable. I wonder if he drafted Ben Obamanu and Troy Smith for his fantasy team. Probably not. At the end of the season, I dissected his predictions and the results were, shall we say, less than stellar. Of his 41 "real" predictions, only three came true, an abysmal 7.3% rate.

But hey, who was I to talk? It's not like I made any predictions. So, when Berry posted his 2009 predictions, one for each of the 32 NFL teams, I decided not just to track them but to try and guess which ones I thought would come true and which ones wouldn't. At the end of the season, I'd see who was more right. He'd score a point for every prediction he got right, and I'd score a point for each of his predictions that I agreed with that was right and each one I disagreed with that was wrong.

And now comes the day of reckoning. Here we go! Berry's prediction is below, followed by my Yes/No vote on, on the next line, Berry's and my results -- Y for a correct prediction, N for an incorrect one. When talking about fantasy points and ranks, he's probably talking about the scoring in the ESPN fantasy leagues, but I don't play those and don't have access to them, so I'll be using the scoring and ranks as used on player pages on

Chris "Beanie" Wells stays healthy enough to get at least 1,000 total yards and eight touchdowns. YES.

N/N. 936 yards and 7 TDs. Very close, but I'm going to be strict.

Roddy White will lead the NFL in receiving yards. YES. Bold, but I like it. Jake Delhomme is due for a meltdown, and that'll hurt Steve Smith.

N/N. He was 13th.

Joe Flacco finishes the year as a top-12 fantasy quarterback. NO. Flacco is highly overrated because his defense is good.

N/Y. According to PFR, he was 17th. And slightly less overrated, but still overrated.

Terrell Owens finishes the year outside the top 25 fantasy wide receivers. You heard me. NO. I think he'll be down a bit, but even Trent Edwards can't screw him up too badly.

Y/N. According to PFR, he was 26th. But I'll play fair and count it as a "No" for me.

Jonathan Stewart finishes with more fantasy points than DeAngelo Williams. NO. Williams is overrated, thanks to his huge TD numbers, but he'll still get more carries and points than Stewart.

Y/N. 193 to 179, according to PFR. At this point, Berry leads me 2-1. Oh noes!

Devin Hester and Greg Olsen combine for 1,800 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. NO. Jay Cutler can't fix the mess that is the Bears' receiving corps.

N/Y. Not so much. 1,369 and 11.

Chris Henry has a better fantasy season than Laveranues Coles. NO. Of course, the Jets lost Brett Favre so they don't know how to pass any more.

N/Y. I debated tossing out this question entirely in the scorekeeping, considering what happened to Henry falls outside the normal bad luck of an injury. But he was out hurt when he died anyway and probably wouldn't have made up the 82-36 margin Coles "won" the matchup by.

Jamal Lewis has 1,400 yards and eight touchdowns, or the equivalent fantasy points. NO. Nice to throw in the "or the equivalent" phrase to CYA, but I still think Lewis is done.

N/Y. 588 yards, zero(!) TDs, and retired. Can't get much more done than that.

Without T.O. in town, Tony Romo has the best fantasy season of his career. NO. I think Romo will be fine, but the man had 4,211 yards and 36 TDs two years ago. That's tough to top.

N/Y. According to PFR, Romo had 334 fantasy points in 2009, compared to 371 in 2007.

Peyton Hillis will end the year with the most fantasy points of any Broncos running back. You heard me. YES. Hey someone's gotta run the ball in Denver.

N/N. Hillis had 54 whole rushing yards. Ick.

Brandon Pettigrew finishes the year as a top-15 fantasy tight end. YES. Bad/young QBs love a good tight end.

N/N. He was #25.

Ryan Grant goes for better than 1,500 total yards and 10 touchdowns. NO.

N/Y. 1,446 yards and 11 TDs. If he gets a point on me for T.O., I claim a point on him here.

Eighty-five receptions and 1,000 yards for Owen Daniels. NO. Daniels is really good and really underrated, but the Texans still have Andre Johnson.

N/Y. Daniels had 40 catches and 519 yards in eight games, so he might have managed it had he stayed healthy.

Anthony Gonzalez, whose career high in receiving yards is 664, doubles that this season. NO. A Colts WR might have 1,300 receiving yards, but it'll be Reggie Wayne.

N/Y. But T.O. wasn't my worst WR draft pick in that league! Yes, I drafted Gonzalez, too. Thank heavens I found Miles Austin a month into the season.

David Garrard will be a top-10 fantasy quarterback this year. Just like last season. YES.

N/N. PFR says Garrard was 15th in 2009 and 12th last year. At this point, Berry's on an 0-10 streak.

Matt Cassel will not be. In fact, he finishes outside the top 15. YES.

Y/Y. This wasn't exactly the toughest prediction. The Chiefs will regret this move for years to come.

Anthony Fasano, meet the end zone. You two will find each other 10 times this season. YES. Sure, why not?

N/N. Because he's Anthony Fasano, that's why not! He had 2 TDs.

Bernard Berrian gets more than 1,200 yards and nine scores. NO. Having Brett Favre means Berrian won't have to settle for those weak-armed QBs like the ones he had last year that limited him to a paltry 20.1 yards per reception, second-best in the league.

N/Y. Favre was better than expected, but all his big plays went to Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. Berrian had 618 yards and 4 TDs.

Eight hundred yards and seven touchdowns for Joey Galloway. YES. If he's healthy Galloway can catch 800 yards' worth of passes from anyone.

N/N. Yeah, about that. Galloway had 67 yards playing for Pittsburgh and New England.

Pierre Thomas is a top-10 fantasy running back this year. And Saints fans start wearing berets to games. You heard me. YES. But I'll disregard the beret thing.

N/N. He had a nice season but was in a three-way RB committee in New Orleans. #20 according to PFR.

Brandon Jacobs scores 20 touchdowns. NO. How will the Giants get that close to the end zone with Eli Manning battling Brett Favre for the league interception lead?

N/Y. More like 6 TDs. And FWIW, Eli doubled Brett's interceptions, 14-7.

Dustin Keller gets 800 yards, eight touchdowns and is one of the top eight fantasy tight ends this season. YES.

N/N. 522 yards, 2 TDs, and #20. So much for my theory about young QBs and tight ends.

More than 1,500 total yards and eight scores (or the fantasy points equivalent) for Darren McFadden. NO. I dunno, but I think we're going to look back in 10 years and find that Felix Jones was the better Alabama RB who entered the league in 2008. Plus, being with the Raiders automatically subtracts 25% (or more) from your fantasy potential

N/Y. 602 yards and 1 TD.

Brian Westbrook plays all 16 games. NO. Hasn't happened yet, see no reason to start now.

N/Y. 8 games.

Trendy preseason favorite Rashard Mendenhall finishes with fewer fantasy points than Willie Parker, Mewelde Moore and Heath Miller. YES.

N/N. Goes to show what we know. Mendenhall had 185 points, Miller 115, Parker 51, Moore 45.

Philip Rivers ends up with 225 fantasy points or fewer, which last year would have put him ninth among quarterbacks. (To put that numerically, I think he throws for fewer than 3,400 yards and 25 touchdowns). YES.

N/N. I don't know why I was so down on Rivers. He had 4,254 yards, 28 TDs, and 331 fantasy points.

Shaun Hill wins the starting quarterback job, throws for 3,000-plus yards and has at least 26 total touchdowns. NO. He'll be the starter, but he won't get those kind of TD numbers.

N/Y. Well, he was the starter for 6 games, notching 943 yards and 5 TDs.

T.J. Duckett scores double-digit touchdowns. Julius Jones has more than 1,200 total yards. Both have solid fantasy value this year. You heard me. NO. I could believe Jones, but absolutely not Duckett.

N/Y. Jones had 885 yards (and yes, I drafted him in that league) and Duckett didn't play.

Donnie Avery has more than 1,000 yards receiving. And yes, I know he's injured and most likely will miss the start of the season. That's how much I like him and the Rams' revamped offensive line. NO. But I don't like Marc Bulger.

N/Y. 589 yards for Avery.

Antonio Bryant finishes outside the top 30 of fantasy wide receivers. YES.

Y/Y. 50th. Not exactly a stretch, prediction-wise.

Nate Washington, on the other hand, finishes inside the top 30. YES.

N/N. 41st.

More than 1,000 yards and six touchdowns for Chris Cooley. NO. Put simply, expecting 1,000 yards from any TE is asking for trouble.

N/Y. 332 yards and 2 TDs. If he only would have tripled his numbers...

Berry nails 4 of his 32 predictions, an awesome 12.5% correct. A few, notably the Wells and Grant predictions, are close enough to essentially be correct, and a few (like Daniels) were ruined by injuries, but, at best, he'd only have about 25% correct. Combined with last year's 3-for-41, that gives him a cumulative 7-for-73, or 9.6% success rate, thus proving that the fantasy prediction business is something pretty much anyone can do. How can I get a job doing this?

Meanwhile, I score on 18 of 32, largely on the strength of my calling "BS" on 16 of Berry's 28 incorrect predictions. But even at the start of this exercise, I felt a little funny just going off someone else's work. Ideally, I would have made predictions of my own and, at the end of the season, we would have compared our predictions and seen who got the most right.

The problem with that is that it would have been tough to judge the "riskiness" of my predictions. Is it more of a reach to say that Bernard Berrian will have 1,200 yards and 9 scores or that, say, Visanthe Shiancoe will be a top 5 tight end? (He was #6, according to PFR.) I'd hate for my predictions to be too timid (or too risky) and for the comparison to be less equal than it could be. But hey, if Matthew's reading this, I'd love a "prediction competition" for next year. Especially since it looks like I won't have to do much better than a 10% success rate.

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