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November Mailbag

I hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving. I know I did! I successfully cooked my own turkey and cut down my own Christmas tree. If that’s not a good four-day weekend…I don’t know what is.

As I’ve explained a millions time, I’m extremely busy these days. My real job is keeping me on my toes (it should start to slow down after this weekend…the football season comes to an end locally), while my commitment to helping others with fantasy football keeps me even busier (I answer questions for more than three hours every Wednesday, and that doesn’t include the time I put in the rest of the week). Don’t get me wrong, I’m having a great time. I just didn’t expect my plate to get this loaded.

It’s almost the end of November, so it’s time for me to pound out a mailbag. I started these a few months ago to allow you the opportunity to ask me about anything you want. Most of the questions pertain to sports, while others are personal questions. I’m always open to whatever you fire my way.

I’m already starting to ramble, so I better get to this before you get bored…

I’ll ask the question going around Portland right now. What do you think of Greg Oden? — Sean Watts (@rxtech1998)

It’s not the big question going around Portland anymore, but it was at the time Sean asked me this question.

I loved Greg Oden when he was drafted first overall in 2007, but the poor guy can’t stay healthy. He missed the entire 2007-2008 season with a knee injury, was slowed by injuries last year, and played in just 21 games this season before hurting his knee again (he’s done for the year after having microfracture surgery on November 19th).

Oden has only played 82 career games (while missing 176), averaging just 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest. That’s nothing compared to Kevin Durant, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft. Durant’s played in 251 career games, averaging 25.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He’s turned the Oklahoma City Thunder into a legit contender in the Western Conference. Hindsight is always 20/20, but maybe the Portland Trail Blazers should have seen this coming.

When Oden was at Ohio State, I always joked that he looked like a 45-year-old man (<— he’s only 18-years-old in that picture). I think someone needs to check the validity of his birth certificate. I really think he’s an old man trying to pose as a youngster. That explains why his body is breaking down! This wouldn’t be the first time someone tried to scam the system. I’m obviously joking…or am I?

Aside from my conspiracy theory, others argue that Oden’s playing style doesn’t match his size. He’s too tall to do the things he’s trying to pull off on the floor. At 7’0″ 285 pounds, Oden needs to be like an old school big man who works the post (e.g. Patrick Ewing, Robert Parish, etc.) instead of trying to be a multi-dimensional threat on the floor (e.g. Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, etc.). If Oden follows my lead (since I’m an expert), at just 22-years-old, he still has a chance to be a solid big man in the NBA.

How do you stay so relaxed on camera? What advice would you have for someone who isn’t? — Matt Pignataro (@matt_pignataro)

First off, thanks for the compliment. It’s nice to know that I come off as relaxed on camera.

The biggest piece of advice, like in so many different aspects of life, is that practice makes perfect. I’m far from perfect, but the more you’re in front of the camera, the better off you’ll be. In fact, you don’t even need a camera. You can practice in front of a mirror if you want to (especially if you don’t have someone to help you out). Practice, practice, practice!

The other key piece of advice is to be yourself. Just because there’s a camera in your face doesn’t mean you have to become someone else. You don’t have to change your voice, you don’t have to change your appearance, you just have to be you. When you watch me on television or on one of my video blogs…that’s me. That’s who you would meet if we bumped into each other on the street. I’m not putting on a show.

As I’m telling you to be yourself, I will say this: be a louder/more enthusiastic you (at least when you’re first getting started). Most people come off boring on camera because they’re too quiet and they don’t seem excited to be talking to you. I had the same problem when I first started. I changed my ways after a veteran sportscaster told me to not just be excited, but be overexcited (to the point that you think you’re being way over-the-top). You’ll feel stupid acting like that, but when you watch yourself on camera, it doesn’t come off as foolish…it looks normal. I’d much rather watch someone who is too excited than watch someone who is going to put me to sleep. You’ll be able to adjust your excitement as you get more experience.

Being on camera has become so common for me that I don’t even get nervous anymore (except for a few times when I know I have a big show that I want to ace). There are several times a year that I’m going through my sportscast and it suddenly hits me that I’m on television and thousands of people are watching at home. That’s always a weird moment. It’s usually so automatic that I don’t even think about it. It wasn’t always this easy though. It took me a while to get used  to being on camera.

Keep working at your craft and you’ll get better! If it seems complicated, you’re doing something wrong. Relax and be yourself and it will come to you naturally.

How do you determine who is going to have a good week in fantasy football? — Brian Smith

I hate when NFL analysts ramble about stats, but it makes sense when you are talking about fantasy football. That’s what the whole game is about!

The first thing I do is crunch numbers. I look at who has a favorable matchup that week by looking at stats (the NFL.com team stats page is my best friend every week). Let’s use San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore as an example. He’s facing the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. Arizona ranks 29th in the NFL in run defense, allowing 135.1 yards per game. Gore is a good player to start against anyone in the league, but he should be really good for the 49ers tonight.

The funny thing is…Gore could fall flat on his face and there would be no explanation as to why. Just look at Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. He was terrible on Sunday against the Houston Texans. Johnson (one of the best players in the NFL), who I thought would have an expanded workload with rookie Rusty Smith starting at quarterback, ran the ball seven times for five yards. He also caught two passes for only two yards. For anyone who doesn’t know fantasy football…that’s terrible! That also means there’s much more to fantasy football than just numbers. I wish I could tell when a bad performance like that was going to happen, but it’s almost impossible.

You also have to take into account injuries, where the game is being played, and several other factors. All of those things play a role in projecting how someone will play every week. I also encourage people to go with their gut feeling. Is it always right? No, but it’s harder to get mad at yourself for not going with your gut (you wish you would have listened to yourself) than it is to go with your gut and have a player underperform (you had to give it a shot, because you had a good feeling). Does that make sense?

When it comes down to it, fantasy football isn’t rocket science. There’s usually a pretty simple method to the madness (even though it doesn’t always result in wins).

That’s it for the November mailbag! Thanks for all of the questions. If I didn’t respond to you this month, there’s always December.

You don’t have to save your questions for my mailbag either. I’m always excited to hear from you! You can leave a question in the comment area below, get in touch with me on Twitter @lewissports, connect with me on my Facebook page, or email me at tim@timlewissports.com.

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