Fantasy Doctor: Week 6 starts and sits

Twice a week, my job as fantasy doctor is to analyze professional football players, pen down the most likely to succeed and pass along my deductions in the written form of an informative, sometimes witty advice column.

I delve into the depth charts, I dig up statistics, all for the purpose of saying something that contributes to the upkeep of a dominant fantasy team. I make it my self-professed duty every week to relate something to you, my fellow owners, that actually matters.

But sometimes getting down to what’s important means weeding out some of the things that don’t — and never should — matter when looking at your fantasy team.

It occurred to me last Tuesday when my roommate sat down on our living room couch, computer in his lap, and began making casual comments about our fantasy league. I listened, following along while a series of somnolent commercials did their best to sing me to sleep on the opposite couch.

I only genuinely started paying attention when he said, “Have you looked at the division standings?” No, I thought, why would I ever care about divisional standings? I know my record, I know eight teams make the playoffs. Why else would I ever care about the East and West divisions in our fantasy football leagues?

And that got me wondering, why would anyone care about divisional standings in his or her fantasy league? Is there ever a good reason to split fantasy teams into divisions, short of inconsequential bragging rights? The only reason I can think of would be to format playoff brackets, and even that’s a questionable method.

Divisions play their obvious roles in the actual game. Certain franchises would be glued to the bottom every year without the eight regional divisions. For fantasy football, though, it seems pointless to have divisional standings decide which teams make it to the playoffs.

It’s not so much the structure of the divisions in fantasy. It actually makes sense. Divisions are determined by position in the draft order, and each team will play its divisional rivals twice throughout the 13-week schedule. But doesn’t that take away from some of the reasons why we play?

When you and a group of friends join a fantasy football league, it’s about being the best. You want to prove to your friends that you’re superior to them, even if your only proof of that comes in the form of a game. Bragging rights are awarded to the best for being the best, so shouldn’t it make sense for the teams with the best records to be the ones to advanced to the playoffs?

It’s an ego thing, and it becomes compromised when divisions determine who gets to showdown in the final weeks of the season. If you have the sixth-best record, you should be entitled to a playoff spot. But in a league where your friend with the seventh-best record finished second in his division, you get snubbed from the playoffs.

From there, it becomes a cycle of never-ending debates about who really had the better team. The reason you set out to compete in the first place is more diluted than ever, and the only thing you’ve gained is a slight resentment toward your friend, your league or even — God forbid — the game of fantasy football.

So you set your roster for Week 6, pay no mind to where you stand in the divisions. They don’t matter and never should, so keep your eye on the prize. You have plenty of other things to worry about (especially if you have Julio Jones).

The Bears and the Giants have already thrown down in Chicago, but the week is still young, and your fantasy doctor has rounded up another week of stars and sits.

STARTS

Andrew Luck (quarterback, Colts) — I shouldn’t have to say much here. Luck has been consistent every week this season, his lowest week being a moderate 14 points. He’s only thrown two picks and at least two touchdowns in three of five games this season. Luck isn’t a rookie anymore, and he’ll prove it better than ever this week against the Chargers, who are second-to-last place passing defense. If the Colts kick the doors and trash Philip Rivers’ home, you can expect Luck to lead the way.

Knowshon Moreno (running back, Broncos) — The Broncos don’t need to bury the Jaguars. They practically do it to themselves. Peyton Manning has proved he and his receiving corps are aligned with a successful playoff drive, which lends a chance to work on other aspects against the worst team in the league. Moreno hasn’t been bad by any stretch, but he also hasn’t been very consistent. If there were ever a week for Moreno to break 100 yards rushing while snagged a few touchdowns, it’s against Jacksonville at home.

SITS

Carson Palmer (quarterback, Cardinals, points) — I’d have never guessed the Cardinals would start 3-2, but just because they look good doesn’t mean they are good. Palmer is scarcely good for more than a touchdown a game and is second in league interceptions with nine, seven of which have come in the last three games. The 49ers defense isn’t terrific, but they managed to allow just 14 points in the last two weeks against struggling quarterbacks. Don’t expect big things for Palmer this week.

Chris Johnson  (running back, Titans, points) — Johnson teased last week with some production, but it’s good to remember it came from uncommon passing touchdown. It’s also good to know he ran 10 times last week for a meager 17 yards. He averages just 3.1 yards per carry this season, which isn’t going to improve on the road in Seattle. If you were one of the many who predicted Johnson would have a triumphant resurgence this season, it’s time to accept you were wrong. Bench him and don’t look back.   

J.J. is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Wilsonable07.