Since we’re about to reach the NFC and AFC Championship games in real life football, I wanted to gather my thoughts and review what happened in this year’s fantasy football league that left me bitterly disappointed. Maybe it will provide me with some catharsis to go over it, or maybe it will even provide me with some insights about what went wrong.
To begin, I’ll give you some context. I reviewed my draft last September, and suffice it to say it was a good draft. It’s a 14-team league with a snake draft and shallow rosters which include a few IDP spots. I had won the championship the prior year and so I got the last pick in the first round (then the first pick in the second round, etc.) this year.
Here’s my roster at the end of the season:
Tom Brady QB NE *
LeSean McCoy RB BUF
Lamar Miller RB MIA
Julio Jones WR ATL *
Odell Beckham WR NYG *
Greg Olsen TE CAR *
Cairo Santos K KC
Seattle Seahawks D/ST SEA *
Mark Barron DB STL
Luke Kuechly LB CAR
Jamie Collins LB NE
Eddie Lacy RB GB
Alshon Jeffery WR CH
*denotes player taken in the draft
I don’t know about your team, but this team was one of the best I have ever assembled. I was able to pick up McCoy, Miller, and Jeffery off waivers during the season after their owners dropped them due to injury, or (perhaps in Miller’s case) poor performance. Because the league is so shallow, there’s really no room to keep non-producing players on a roster, and this inevitably leads to some juicy talent drops over the course of the season.
The positions on each team in the league included 1 RB, 2 WR, and 1 flex, so some of my late-season deliberating was over whether to start Alshon Jeffery or Lamar Miller as my flex. In other words, that was not a bad problem to have. I should also point out that for about half the season, I had Julian Edelman on my team. Before he went down with a prolonged injury, I was faced with the luxurious dilemma of figuring out which three WRs to start among Odell Beckham Jr, Julio Jones, Edelman, and Jeffery. I believe for at least one week, all of these players were top 6 or 7 WRs, which almost makes it a crap shoot as to which players will play merely good and which players will go off.
The Regular Season
The season flew by with crazy results. After losing in Weeks 2 and 4, I was looking at a middling 2-2 record. However, I caught my stride in Week 5 and it kept going, and going, and going. At the end of the season I was riding a 10-game win streak with the uncontested #1 seed in the league. My average points scored per week was 138.41, which was well above the next highest team at 121.01 (the league medium was around 113 ppw).
Now before I go any further, I realize that wins in fantasy football can be kind of fluky. You put up as many points as possible and so does your opponent, and you just hope that you come out on top. But you can’t control the outcome of your opponent’s scoring, so a head-to-head win is the result of what you can control and what you cannot. Fortunately for me, my opponents managed to score only 106.49 points per week against my team. This was the third-lowest point scoring against in the league, and it admittedly contributed to my high win total.
So with my #1 ranking in the league, I was pitted against the #8 (last) seed in the first round. On paper, it should have been a relative breeze. Although my opponent was starting Antonio Brown at WR, he was also starting Brock Osweiler at QB, Denard Robinson at RB, and Michael Floyd and Tyler Lockett at his other WR spots.
To make a long story short, my opponent had an on night, and I had a ho-hum night. It was Brock Osweiler’s best-performing game of the season (3 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD), as well as Antonio Brown’s best game of the season (16 receptions, 189 receiving yards, 2 TDs). Meanwhile, by running backs sputtered like crazy and the rest of my team couldn’t pick up the slack. I ended up losing that week 161.2 to 142.58.
Knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. To the lowest seed. Ouch.
So my all-star team fell flat…
I recall Matthew Berry of ESPN once said that skill gets you into the playoffs but luck gets you championships. Whether you agree with that sentiment or not, I do think that the best you can do in fantasy football is to put yourself in the situation to succeed and let everything take its course. I would have loved to have seen my team keep on playing with all the pieces coming together, but with one cruel week my team had its legs cut out from underneath it.
I’m not sure there are really any lessons to learn from this about assembling successful fantasy rosters, so I shouldn’t really try. Four times out of five, I bet that my team would have won the playoff game that I lost. All you can do it put a good team on the field and hope it’s enough.
Obviously, that one weekend in December shows it wasn’t.