Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Steve Smith disappointed fantasy owners in Week 1 with only three catches for 21 yards.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Nineteenth-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and later Mark Twain were known to coin the phrase: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

It means the power of numbers in an argument can be persuasive, but can be twisted to fit the arguer's point of view. In essence, numbers/statistics can lie.

Let's look at some statistics from Week 1 as an example.

The Carolina Panthers rank No.1 "against the pass" at 82 yards-per-game.

Fact: The Eagles got ahead of the Panthers early behind two defensive scores and had no reason to pass the ball in the second half as they were up by 31-10 at halftime.

The Arizona Cardinals rank No.1 "against the run."

Fact: The Cardinals ranked No.16 in 2008, but held the inept San Francisco 49ers offense to 21 yards on 25 carries. Check back after Week 2 and a heavy dose of Maurice Jones-Drew.

The New Orleans Saints defense is No.3 "against the run."

Fact: The Saints played the Detroit Lions in Week 1 who let Drew Brees run wild and then had to play catch up all day - by throwing the football.

Mike Bell, third-string RB in New Orleans, is the No.2 rusher in the NFL after a Week 1, 28-carry, 143-yard performance.

Fact: Coach Sean Payton has said that Bell and Pierre Thomas will share the load in Week 2, now that Thomas is healthy enough to play. Payton also said that neither back would cut into Reggie Bush's playing time. Those who jumped on Bell in Week 1 were rewarded, but neither Bell nor Thomas will be a good play in Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Joe Flacco, the second-year quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens, is the No.3 quarterback in fantasy scoring after the first week by throwing for 307 yards and three scores against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Fact: All those who believe that Flacco will have a better year than Tom Brady (ranked 4th) and Peyton Manning (ranked 7th), please report for your medicine.

I should trade Carolina's Steve Smith because he only had three catches for 21 yards worth a measly two fantasy points in non-PPR leagues.

Fact: Despite the miniscule numbers put up by Smith in Week 1, he was targeted 13 times, as many as Calvin Johnson and more than Larry Fitzgerald (11 times). The Panthers will eventually straighten out their quarterback situation and Smith will get his points.

What I'm trying to tell you is that early on in the season, if you are only looking at the numbers, there will be huge swings, up and down. Don't believe them. Don't base your entire strategy on them. Statistics sometimes lie.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at
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