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Hidden Fantasy Stats

Gamblers are always looking for that little edge to help them come out ahead. In poker, they look for tells, figure out pot odds, or count cards. At the racetrack, they'll consider a horse's lineage, its post position, and whether the steed is a mudder in the rain (or just fodder for the rest of the field in those conditions).

Fantasy football owners should do the same, look for those slight advantages on game day. For the most part, the teams you face each week are usually evenly matched with yours. So, using all of the facts and numbers at your disposal is crucial to gaining the upper hand.

When it comes to the statistical side of fantasy football, most of what you need is right there and easy to decipher. You have the yards a player has gained, his number of receptions, touchdowns scored, etc. - all staring you in the face.

The successful fantasy owners, however, dig beneath the surface to find a few of those "hidden" statistics that might carry them to victory. Some of the "hidden" statistical factors are relatively obvious: for example, if your league rewards running backs for their receptions, then guys like Reggie Bush, Brian Westbrook - already considered top tier RBs - might move up a few notches on your draft board. When you are looking to fill out your roster after the prime players are gone, it could make sense to have players like Ladell Betts (53 receptions in 2006) or Maurice Jones-Drew (46 catches) on your team as decent bye-week fill-ins.

Of course, if your league rewards performance bonuses for players that exceed certain benchmarks - 100 yards rushing or 300 yards passing in a game - you will want to scour the stats and mark those guys for consideration, as well.

The more difficult statistical categories to interpret are what might be called "implied stats." For instance, what might a guy be able to produce if were to get more touches than the season before? A good example might be Atlanta rookie RB Jerrious Norwood, who averaged 6.4 yards per carry in 2006 on just 99 attempts. (He had 56 fewer attempts than Reggie Bush, yet had 68 more yards than the highly acclaimed Saint rookie.) Warrick Dunn will be in the latter part of his 32nd year as the 2007 season progresses, so Norwood should be seeing more action and it is worth taking a chance on him in your draft. For WRs, Vincent Jackson of San Diego caught just 27 passes in 2006, but he averaged 16.8 yards per catch. He started the final four games of the season and averaged 20.4 yards on 14 receptions; he also caught a total of six TDs during the entire season). Indications are that his role in the Chargers' passing game will increase in 2007; Jackson could become a valuable third WR, someone to boost your total yards each week.

 
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