Fantasy Football: Beware of the Hype Train & Coach Speak

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This is your annual reminder to beware boarding the hype train! Do any of these offseason hype lines sound familiar?

  1. “(Insert player name) HOPES to have a bigger role this season.”
  2. “Head coach tells a beat reporter that backup running back (insert name) is someone who can “do everything” in his offense.
  3. “NFL team reporter tells us that (insert name) was clearly the number (1/2/3) option during training camp.”
  4. “(Insert name) has been the clear cut starter this week”
  5. “Head coach of NFL team tells us that the competition for position A is wide open”

Not everything you read in the offseason is completely useless, but a lot of what you read is formatted to grab attention and shouldn’t drive you to panic. Let’s dive into the different types of offseason hype and discuss which are worth exploring and which are worth ignoring.

Coach Speak

The first stop on the hype train might as well be named “Pete Carroll Blvd” as the Seahawks coach is infamous for providing positive “coach speak”. If you’re not familiar with the term, “coach speak” is when a head coach makes comments about a player or team situation. However, it’s often a vague comment about the depth chart or a single day of practice that doesn’t hold any real weight. The rule of thumb when navigating this stop is: if it’s not a direct decision they’ve made, it’s not worth much. Case in point:

“Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll envisions RB Rashaad Penny being used on all three downs.” – May 6th, 2018.

Often times it’s simply a confidence booster for a new player and nothing more. Buzzwords like “hope”, “believes”, “could”, “potentially”, “envision” and “eventually” should set off an alarm that reminds you it may not be as drastic as it seems.

Ask yourself a few questions before you panic:

  1. Did they change the depth chart?
  2. Did they officially name a new starter?
  3. Was there any actual information given? Example: a player was released, traded, or benched. 
  4. What has changed since last year? Hint: If the answer is nothing, it often means nothing.
  5. Were the comments negative? If so, this should influence the panic meter a lot more.

As mentioned in Episode #728 of The Fantasy Footballers Podcast, negative coach speak is truly the kind to care about. After you’ve completed this process, you can make your decision accordingly, but don’t hit that “trade” button in a dynasty league until you do. Often times these sound bites from a press conference are nothing more than a manipulative villain named coach speak invading your dreams.

The Beat Reporter Bomb Drop

Stop number two leads us into the forbidden forest of beat reporting, where one wrong turn can land you in a haunted cornfield plagued by C.J. Anderson (where you will likely find Jason Moore on the weekends). These are the reports you’ll read throughout the offseason that tend to feel like they came from nowhere. You could be eating breakfast on a random morning and discover that an unproven rookie running back is “in line for significant work” or “looking at twenty touches per week,” even though they’re a fifth-round pick playing behind a solidified starter. These reports should invoke a similar approach as coach speak but with even more hesitation involved. If you read a headline that includes “looks to be” or “appears likely to”, then you need to tread lightly because this often indicates an assumption made by someone without any influence on decision making.

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Sometimes these players are running with the second team or completing drills that don’t actually impact the actual depth chart. Offensive coordinators commonly test out different packages for 20-30 snaps in a row, so it may appear as if someone new was placed in a starting spot permanently. The reality of the situation is that they’re still the backup, and they just ran with the starters for the purpose of testing out a small wrinkle in a much bigger offensive scheme. 

An offseason headline is never a guarantee. It’s just a small window into what was observed over a short period of time, and usually provided by a single person. Take everything with a grain of salt, follow the official depth charts, and don’t ignore the roster decisions made by the team.

The Fantasy Football Community

It’s important for all of us in the fantasy industry to recognize that we have tossed our own coal into the hype train engine more than a few times too. The issue that comes with nonstop offseason discussion is when the line between “value at their current cost” and “draft them no matter what” becomes too blurry. On draft day when you’re all aboard the hype train, you have the tendency to reach for those players. If fantasy analysts are hyped about a player being a great value in Round 9, don’t let the hype sway you to reach for them in Round 7. If you reach for players just because you’ve seen their name plastered everywhere as a hyped value pick, you’re defeating the entire point of identifying that value.

The way to develop this skill is to avoid reading headlines and generalizations and actually dive into the process that led to the claim or hype. You’ll improve your fantasy skills by doing this and you’ll avoid the deadliest landmines when draft day comes (all of you 2018 Jarvis Landry owners should be nodding in agreement). ADPs can rise and fall throughout the summer so it’s important to stay involved and informed about which players are worth the pick, and even more crucially – when you should pick them.

Avoiding the hype is an essential practice for fantasy championships and it’s an aspect of strategizing that often goes overlooked. Stay active in the fantasy football community, rely on the best possible tools like the Ultimate Draft Kit, and make sure you educate yourself on the why before you blindly believe in the what.


The self-appointed Hype Train Police Chief 

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