League MFTS: week 13 wrap up, week 14 bold predictions

League MFTS has been flying by, as has our initial semester at college.  As we near winter break, we also near the 2012-13 Fantasy Football Playoffs. This makes the ending weeks of the regular season crucial. As the season draws to a close, the teams that like dick in and around there mouth are separated from those who are on a nine game winning streak.  Week thirteen had major fantasy complications.  Here are my summaries of the matchup’s and their significance.

Week 13 wrap up

Team MFTS 88 Vs. Calvin Knows 124.7
Calvin knows he easily beat a team that is very subpar this year.  Calvin knows that since Megatron has begun to get his shit together, this is a dangerous team and one that is fighting for the 2 seed in the playoff bracket.  Calvin knows it got a little lucky that it acquired Dez Bryant out of another team’s need, but would rather be lucky than good.  Calvin knows it didn’t need a very impressive performance to beat team Made For The Suck, but still took care of business. Lastly, Calvin knows how to build a suitcase nuke.

Big Fin 138.5 Vs. Olympic Champion 105.6
While team Champion (irony at it’s finest) finally had a pretty good week, it was unable to end its losing streak as it faced one of the hottest teams in the league in Big Fin.  Riding on the coattails of a dominant season from Adrian “Cousin Fucker” Peterson, Big Fin is now the highest scoring team in the league.  Lead by a potential cousin-in-law, do not mess with Team Big Fin.

Poop on you 149.9 Vs. Mr. Winky Pokin’ Stinky 79.6
Poop on you won with the best score in the league, a very consistent performance with no true standouts but solid performances from the whole team.  This matchup was never in doubt though, as Mr. Winky is possibly the worst fantasy team ever seen, and continues to make itself worse with horrible self destructing trades.

Schaub on My Knob 93.5 Vs.We’re Not Worthy 119
Matchup of a team that used to have the best team name in the league with a team that recently changed its name from a stupid, not funny name that no one really knows what it means, to a stupid, not funny name that no one really knows what it means.  I think team Schaub on my Knob lost this game purely because it changed its name on the one week were it actually could have made a difference.

La Verga de Destrucción 112.3 Vs. Team 420 La Edition
In the Cali douche matchup, team Dick has been reinvigorated with Bryce “How the fuck am I so good but no one really knows about me” Brown.  Team Weed left a lot of points on the bench, and surely is eliminated from contention.  Watch out for La Verga de Destrucción, as they are on the rise.

Arian Foster Care 124.7 Vs. TRILLWAUKEE KILLAZ 102
Want to know what is not trill? The mental toughness of the Killaz.  For all of the talk behind their team one would think they are the fantasy second coming of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, yet they continue to fail to impress.  Some people need to realize they just aren’t good at fantasy football.

Chelsea Football Club 102.5 Vs. But I’m Not A Rapper 92.1
This matchup was closer than the final score indicated, as a typical monster week from RG111 may have led Team GJSM to a win, but like its namesake, team But I’m Not A Rapper was not able to pull out the win.  Chelsea Football Club, however, continues its impressive performances, and has now won nine games in a row.  This is made even more impressive by the fact that it has been hit pretty hard with the injury bug recently.

Week 14 Bold Predictions projected scores-italicized my predictions- bold 

Olympic Champion 120 Vs. Team MFTS 127
I
n a matchup of surprisingly mediocre teams, this matchup lacks excitement.  Olympic Champion is playing for a spot in the playoffs, however, and it is not unlike the dirt ball  owner of Team MFTS to throw this matchup just so he can have some impact on the fantasy playoffs.  Your team sucks, just stop trying to fuck it up for everyone else by making trades that make everyone way better ok!!?! Wait, maybe this guy actually thought Colston for Martin and Garçon was a good trade… Most likely the worst trade of the year.  Completely changed the fortunes of two teams.  98-87 Olympic Champion

Mr. Winky Pokin’ Stinky 92 VsBig Fin 140
We have the highest scoring team in the league against the lowest.  I think even Sra. Campbell could predict the winner of this matchup.  Behind a big game from All Day and Andre Johnson, Big Fin keeps going strong. 131-69 Big Fin

We’re Not Worthy 110 Vs. Poop on You 137
This matchup has OG Mudbone sized playoff implications.  Two teams coming off wins that have a chance to reach fantasy relevance and reach the playoffs.  One of these teams has been winning by taking advantage of teams on their down weeks, yet has begun to turn it around and actually has posted respectable scores recently.  The other team has been consistently high scoring all season, yet has caught teams at the wrong times.  I predict Poop on you to continue to be a strong team and post a very high score.  128-103 Poop on you

Team 420 LA Edition 123 Vs. Schaub on My Knob 117
This matchup consists of two teams who had much higher expectations for themselves, as both of their owners have high levels of self confidence, but in reality have not won anything concrete in their fantasy football careers.  Vernon Davis continues to be possibly the most frustrating player of the season, yet Team 420 LA Edition pulls off a big win to end the season on a positive note, only if it manages to not leave so many points on its bench. 110-93 Team LA 420 Edition

But I’m Not A Rapper 119 Vs. La Verga de Destrucción 135
This matchup consists of two strong teams that both have something to play for.  RG111 had an atypical down week in week 13, and I expect him to go to work this week.  Bryce Brown cannot possibly keep up at his current pace, and I expect a little bit of pre-playoff humbling for Chachi.  La Verga de Destrucción?? I BEAT THAT!!!! (double meaning kinda) 128-120 But I’m Not A Rapper

TRILLWAUKEE KILLAZ 126 Vs. Calvin Knows 141
As owner of the highest projected score, Calvin Knows that the chances it loses are very small.  Calvin Knows it has a strong team, and Calvin certainly knows it only really has to have a slightly above average week to get the win.  Lastly, Calvin does not know (to my knowledge at least, maybe this is what the Michigan Difference is), but can only imagine how horrible it would be to be kissed by a girl who had just blown another dude.  139-99 Calvin Knows

Arian Foster Care 123 Vs. Chelsea Football Club 124
This matchup should be closely contested, as it consists of two teams that have been doing well for themselves.  Arian Foster Care has had a surprisingly great season, but lacks the resolve necessary to knock the tough Chelsea Football Club from its nine game winning streak.  Since this is in essence a round of sixteen matchup, I liken this game to the 2012 Champions League Round of sixteen matchup between Chelsea and Napoli.  I expect Chelsea Football Club to Start slow, but eventually to win and continue its unmatched winning streak.  I promise, I really do hate nepotism, but I have to be truthful in my projections. 128-112 Chelsea Football Club 

Now, to make this easily the longest article in tainted history, I have added a research piece that is relevant to League MFTS as every point matters, and even the kickers have Importance.

Does Icing the Kicker Work?

On Sunday, January 22, 2012, the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers played for a spot in the Super Bowl.  The game was hard fought by many members of each team, all putting their body on the line just for the chance to play for a world championship. After regulation time, the score was still tied at 17, so the game deciding half of the Super Bowl matchup would be decided in overtime.  Each team had one failed drive and turned the ball over to the other.  And then, with seven minutes and ten seconds remaining in overtime, the 49ers called timeout when the Giants had the ball on third down, with thirteen yards to go from their thirteen yard line.  Why was this timeout called?  Lawrence Tynes, the kicker for the Giants, was about to kick the biggest field goal of his career.  If he made it, his team would go to the National Football League(NFL) championship game, otherwise known as the Super Bowl.  If he missed it, he would give the opposition the ability to steal the chance of a lifetime away from him and his teammates.  Cognizant of the the high-pressure situation, San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh called a timeout.  This was not the first time a coach had called a timeout in an attempt to rattle the opposing field goal kicker. After the timeout, Tynes made the kick, ending the 49er’s season and sending his team to the championship game. This strategy, informally called “icing” the kicker, has now become commonplace.  Icing the kicker is an attempt to make a kicker nervous, “daring the thinker to outthink himself” (Jones, Icing the Kicker).

Is icing the kicker a valid strategy in the NFL? Considering the NFL consists of the most talented football players in the world, strategy is often what separates the wining and losing teams.  Good strategy generally leads to victory, and there are many things that make up an effective strategy.  Anything that positively impacts the football game and shifts the momentum to their team should be used by the coach when formulating the game plan.  Many strategies are considered “good” by the football community, such as punting on fourth down and the play action pass.  There are many elements of strategy and there is an optimal time and place for many different tactics.  Some strategies are more controversial, in the sense that a debate exists surrounding their effectiveness.  Coaches seem to think that icing is a good strategy, as they almost always call a timeout before an important kick. The data, however, may contradict this assumption.  So why do coaches continue to ice kickers?  It is a complicated issue and many coaches ice kickers in their own different way, but no matter the variation, icing the kicker has added an entire dimension to NFL strategy surrounding kicking.   Coaches will continue to ice the kicker in pressure situations.  It is impossible to make a general conclusion concerning the effectiveness of icing because all kickers are effected differently.  The statistical difference in percentages for kicks when iced or non-iced is not significant, allowing some doubts to icings validity to begin.   Icing the kicker is a classic example of confirmation bias, as if it works once, a coach will continue to use this controversial strategy.  Although nothing works every time, icing the kicker is not a good strategy in the NFL.

Kickers in the National Football league are the best at what they do.  If they miss an important kick, there is often an equally qualified replacement available, so when they are kicking it may be for more then the game.  With so much on the line, you would think that kickers would naturally get nervous.  Icing is supposed to increase this exponentially.  Football Freakonomics gathered data of pressure kicks from 2001 to 2009 in the NFL.  The difference is negligible, proving that icing the kicker does little to “throw him off his routine” (Dubner).  The research even concluded that at times, the kicker can use the extra time to his benefit. Bill Barnwell of Grantland even concluded that, “when an opposing coach iced the kicker with fifteen seconds or fewer left to go in the game, those kickers actually got more accurate.”

In the 2003 and 2004 National Football League seasons, kickers made 78.1% of all kicks, yet under pressure situations, were only successful 73% of the time.  (Peterson)  This shows that even without icing a pressure situation can rattle a kicker and cause a miss. The data from 2003-4 seasons also gave a 63% success rate for iced kicks under pressure situations, which accounts for a ten percent difference.  In other studies that include more years however, the effect is lessened, this could be partly due to icing the kicker becoming more common and losing its novelty effect.  While this evidence may seem significant, which lead to this conclusion from statisticians Scott Berry and Craig Wood , “ The evidence is not overwhelming, but it is compelling.” (Peterson) This could be partly due to the small sample size, as there were only thirty-eight iced kicks in the two year span from 2003-04.  More information needs  to be taken in order to make a better conclusion.

Mark Francescutti and Ben Lerner of ESPN Stats & Information compiled a more thorough collection of data, using statistics gathered from 2001 to 2009.  In this time period, there were two hundred ninety two “pressure kicks, and in one hundred nine of these they were iced, meaning a timeout was called slightly more than before one third of all pressure kicks.  The difference in the percentages over this interval was also insignificant, and not counting overtime iced and non-iced kickers actually made the exact same percentage of their kicks (67.9%).  The only difference in percentages is in overtime, where iced kickers are 14.6% less successful than those who were not iced.  This may lead people to believe in the validity of icing, as this is a significant difference, yet it is the only situation in which there is an obvious effect of icing.  The drop in success could be due to other lurking variables apart from just icing.

One variation of icing the kicker is calling a timeout immediately before the kick, and allowing the opposing kicker to have a practice kick. Started by Mike Shanahan in 2007, this tactic was initially successful as it took kickers by surprise.  After it became more popular, however, its effect began to wear off.  Jay Feely, a 12 year veteran placekicker, said that the practice kick, “helps the kicker tremendously” (Smith).  Most NFL kickers are true professionals, and use this additional time for extra preparation.  If they get a chance to kick the ball, it will help them visualize the kick and get an idea of how the wind will affect the kick.  Icing the kicker has become such a popular strategy that Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated believes, “Icing the kicker is almost a pavlovian reaction, as a guy sets up for a final or crucial field goal, (the opposing coach) automatically calls a time out.” (Dubner)

It is important to note that all kickers are different.  Some are impacted greatly by icing, while others are virtually unfazed.  For the strategy of icing to be used effectively, coaches should keep statistics on those kickers who struggle when iced.  As seen in Table 1 an excerpt of a larger table, all kickers are different and have different tendencies.  Some succeed in pressure situations, while others allow doubts to creep in.  Those are the kickers who struggle when iced, and allow their emotions to overcome them.

Screen Shot 2012-12-04 at 6.18.42 PM

Table 1

NFL Kickers from 2001-2009 in Pressure Situations

Source:  Sando, Mike. “Ice Try: Sizing up Kickers in the Clutch – NFC West Blog – ESPN.” ESPN: The Worldwide Leader In Sports. ESPN, 24 Sept. 2009. Web. 13 Feb. 2012.

All of these kickers have different percentages in clutch or pressure situations, and some fair better when iced than others.

The data backs up the claim that icing the kicker is not a good strategy as the percentages (ignoring overtime) are identical.  If the effect of icing the kicker really is so  small, then why has it become so common and do coaches continue use it in important situations?  One possible explanation comes from Stephen J. Dubner, “Coaches are a generally risk-averse group, and find it’s easier to parrot an accepted strategy — even if it’s worthless — than explain why they deviated from accepted tradition.” Another explanation is that coaches view icing the kicker as an acceptable way to intervene in the game, in a sport where the head coach can do little to have a directly impact.  And lastly the idea that a kicker in the National Football League is a weaker than others in the league, and that calling a timeout before the kick automatically sends the kicker into a nervous breakdown.  If this was true, no kicker would be able to make a  kick after being iced.

Some believe that there are other advantages to icing a kicker besides increasing the likelihood that the kicker misses the kick.  In December 2011, New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin called a timeout in an effort to ice the kicker of the Dallas Cowboys, Dan Bailey.  Bailey’s following kick was blocked by New York’s Jason Pierre Paul, who claimed that the timeout allowed him to, “adjust his approach to the ball on the next try” and therefore block the kick. (Florio)  Blocked kicks rarely happen in the NFL, as research concluded by Brian Burke concluded that the farthest kicks are blocked at a rate of about 3.5%, the farther the kick, the more frequently it is blocked.  This rate is so minuscule that to suggest that icing increasing this probability is silly and a classic case of confirmation bias.

Icing the kicker has become a legitimate strategy in the National Football League, yet it is not a good one.  It has been around for many years, and now when a kicker is attempting an important kick, he expects to be iced.  If a kicker is ready to be iced, it looses its primary impact, as initially the genius of the tactic was the element of surprise. Data from eight seasons (from 2001-2009) shows a minor difference in percentages in iced and non-iced kicks, yet the strategy is as popular as ever, because NFL coaches are stubborn, traditional men.  Icing the kicker delays the final result of a game, and gives most kickers an advantage.

National Football league coaches should refrain from icing the kicker, because there is no true benefit.  Unless the specific kicker has an incredibly clear track record of missing kicks as a result of being iced, the timeout will likely change nothing.  Icing has become so common that the best strategy may be for the head coach act like he is about to take a timeout and then proceed to let the kicker attempt his field goal regularly.  This may be the best and only way to get a kicker to over think himself when he is expecting to be iced.  Icing the kicker has brought an entirely new element to strategy in the NFL, but the well-informed coach will save his timeout and not ice the kicker.

Also on Sunday, January 22, 2012, the New England Patriots and the Baltimore played the other spot in the Super Bowl. . In the waning moments of the fourth quarter, the Patriots were up by three points, 23-20. Billy Cundiff, the kicker for the Ravens, was now about to kick the biggest field goal of his career.  If he made it, his team would go into overtime for the chance the National Football League(NFL) championship game, otherwise known as the Super Bowl.  If he missed it, he would give the Patriots the ability to steal the chance of a lifetime away from him and his teammates. Bill Belichick, widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and innovative coaches in football history, elected to not use one of his remaining timeouts.  Cundiff missed his kick and Belichick won his team a spot in the Super Bowl.

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9 comments on “League MFTS: week 13 wrap up, week 14 bold predictions

  1. The trade was favorable at the time with Colston coming off two weeks for a cumulative 60 points while Martin had never eclipsed 13 and garcon had been out since week 1. That being said very article per usual Ver, in my opinion you are tainted’s best writer

  2. Holy shit I just read that whole thing. I guess that’s what happens when one has to finish many study hours in one night with minimal homework. I know you are very passionate about Icing the kicker and I totally agree with your opinion. It was pretty nice reading your BARP. It reminded me how shitty writing that was. Also, I want you to know that it is near impossible for me to not make the playoffs. Thanks for the post and giving me something to kill time with.

  3. I just want to point out that you initially thought that you got the better deal in the Luck for Dez Bryant trade… Now you’re claiming that it was luck (no pun intended). On another note I greatly enjoyed how you referred to Adrian Peterson as cousin fucker. Good stuff

    • What I mean by lucky is that you are lucky that Ben got hurt and that as a result of his injury I was forced to find another quarterback to take his place.

  4. Hilarious article, I think i caught every joke. Including la verga being “on the rise” 😉
    We need to start fantasy basketball sooner than later so you can continue writing articles similar to this.
    ~Chachi

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