Commentary

The Scout Team: The Olsen issue

Scouring Insider's Fantasy Scout tool for hidden gems and early busts

Updated: September 17, 2009, 1:27 PM ET
By Scott Burton | ESPN The Magazine

Every week, Scott Burton will forsake conventional wisdom and human error, leaving his fantasy future in the hands of a cold, calculating machine: ESPN Insider's Fantasy Scout.

What is a poor Greg Olsen owner to do?

A month ago, I received the following e-mail from ESPN the Magazine NFL writer David Fleming: "Dude: fantasy draft tip: Bears TE Greg Olsen. He's got Pro Bowler written all over him." Now Flem knows football like a goat knows grass, which is to say like nobody's business. And given that he had just spent a week at Bears camp, his evaluation moved me. Of course by the time my draft rolled around, the buzz on Olsen had only grown, and I had to use a seventh-rounder to get my little darling.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesFantasy Scout isn't as high on Greg Olsen's upside as you might be.

Then Week 1 happened like "Sorority Row" happened: Good grape seeds, was it was gory, bad and pointless. One catch, 8 yards, zero on the board. You owned Olsen, you lost.

Now I am not panicking. It's just one game and all that. But I am considering my options. And I don't mean consulting with Flem. In retrospect, he's too ... human. All that flesh and blood comes attached with biases and blind spots. To heck with that. I want cold and calculating, emotionless and exacting.

I'm taking it to Fantasy Scout.

Never heard of Fantasy Scout? Well, it's never heard of you either, so you've already got one thing in common. Long story short, Fantasy Scout is a projection model created by AccuScore. It predicts how many fantasy points each and every player will score, both for the remainder of the season and in each week, taking into account over 50 matchup factors, from year-to-date performance, historical record and strength of opponent to play calling trends and environment (home or away, dome or outdoors). Better still, Fantasy Scout will evaluate your team and recommend pickups and trades and lineup moves. Less thinking, more doing. You'll find a link to it on the top of your team page.

And that brings us back to Greg Olsen. Fantasy Scout projects four widely available tight ends to outscore Olsen in Week 2: Heath Miller, Donald Lee, Ben Watson and Brent Celek. It also projects Miller and Celek to outscore Olsen for the duration of the season. OK, then. Not saying I'm going to drop Olsen for any of them; in my imagination, Olsen's high end easily surpasses the high ends of these alternatives. (Uh-oh, could this be another bias at work? We'll discuss next time.) But if Jay Cutler continues his descent into Jeff Georgeville, I'll at least consider the switch in a few weeks.

Hey, fun exercise, right? Trust me, with Fantasy Scout, you can do it all day long. And if you don't have all day long, you can just read this column for some easy-peasy tips. Like these:

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