FANTASY GRIND: Knowing when to judge, dropped opportunities, ESPN's Matthew Berry

Fantasy owners need to stop using hindsight to judge their weekly lineup decisions.

The results are all over Twitter and other social networks on Mondays and Tuesdays, a common refrain of "I should have started (Player X) over (Player Y)."

Among actual should-have-started comparisons on social media this week: E.J. Manuel over Russell Wilson. Matt Schaub over Tom Brady. Knowshon Moreno over Ray Rice. Eddie Royal over everyone.

Yes, in each case, the first player outscored the second under standard fantasy scoring settings during Week 2. But that doesn't mean it would have been smart to bet on it ahead of time.

By that logic, you should have started running backs Rashard Mendenhall or Bilal Powell in Week 2 over Stevan Ridley, Frank Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew and David Wilson. Or wide receivers Royal and DeSean Jackson over Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green or Larry Fitzgerald.

A common lesson in poker and other games — it applies in many areas of life, frankly — is to judge decisions based on the circumstances when the decision was made. Not on how things turn out afterward.

Not knowing outcomes is precisely why you spread your risk and expect average performances out of your players. Each week, you know you need as many ways to win as possible and, of course, some luck.

It doesn't help that some fantasy platforms, like Yahoo and Fleaflicker, have features that judge fantasy owners based on who was left on the bench.

After two weeks filled with unexpected outcomes, it's a sure bet you'll see more this season. But instead of griping that you should have started one player over another, ask yourself if you should have seen the better performance coming.



It's understandable: You need to make room on your roster for hot waiver-wire pickups like Green Bay running back James Starks and San Diego's Royal, the top fantasy wide receiver through two games this season.

But the other part of finding good players to pick up is making smart drops and keeping an eye on where opponents may be dropping players with value.

Here are some names to look for as you're reviewing the transaction logs:

QB: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati. Dalton is among the most dropped quarterbacks on Yahoo and ESPN thanks to an unexciting, middling start in games against Chicago and Pittsburgh. That's fine if you want to take a shot on Philip Rivers keeping up his production or if Dalton is a bench player and you need the roster room. But Dalton had a run last year of scoring 20 or more fantasy points in seven of 10 games. You're less likely to see a high volume of transactions at quarterback than at other positions, especially so early in the year, but Dalton is good enough to fill in on a bye week or back up a riskier player.

RB: David Wilson, New York Giants. It's almost inexplicable to see Wilson listed as the 11th most dropped running back among Yahoo players, especially considering Vick Ballard and Shane Vereen are almost no-brainer drops because of injuries. Owners are justifiably frustrated with Wilson, who was drafted around the fifth round in Yahoo's 10- and 12-team leagues. He fumbled twice in Week 1 and totaled 36 rushing yards in his two games. But owners who give up on him now with an outright drop are saying he has zero value, which simply isn't true in pretty much every league.

WR: Josh Gordon, Cleveland. Gordon should not be available in your league, even with Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden hurt with a sprained thumb. Gordon will be back after serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy, but has more potential than popular pickups like Royal, Brian Hartline and DeAndre Hopkins.

TE: Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati. Like quarterbacks in most standard leagues, tight ends are fairly straightforward to manage because you only start one. But Gresham has had 14 targets through two games, more than Owen Daniels, Kyle Rudolph or Garrett Graham. He has 101 yards receiving and would be a top-15 tight end right now if he had at least one touchdown.



ESPN senior fantasy analyst Matthew Berry is used to getting questions from fantasy owners, most commonly about NFL players who are outperforming expectations or who aren't living up to their expected production.

In figuring out what the performances mean for lineups and roster moves, Berry says owners have to go beyond bottom-line numbers.

"The question you need to ask yourself is why did this happen," Berry said.

Berry said everything from usage, touchdowns and defensive schemes play into answering that and making future predictions.

"There's a million factors that go into it and then you hope for the best," said Berry, who made the New York Times best-seller list in August with "Fantasy Life," a book about the wacky depths of the fantasy world.

Berry said owners looking for expert advice should remember that ultimately, nobody cares more about their team than they do.

"I can't tell the future — I've never claimed to. No one can. It's just a matter of putting yourself in the best position to win," he said.

"Think about what's most likely to happen and play the odds. Do that."



My Week 2 record: 0-5 in mostly tight matchups. Anyone know a good fantasy therapist?


Oskar Garcia is a news editor for the AP in Honolulu who spends way too much free time on fantasy sports, with little to show for it. He can be reached at and on Twitter at