In one’s quest for fantasy football glory, it’s very possible to fall short. In one of my leagues, I fell short by a single game; four teams made the playoffs, and I was the fifth. Playing in the “consolation bracket” may soften the blow a bit, but let’s not kid ourselves; it was a disappointing season.
So in the spirit of self-improvement, I am going to take stock my fantasy team and figure out went wrong, especially when I had a rather promising team after I got done with my auction draft at the beginning of the season.
What went wrong
With my focus on talent concentration, I left the draft in September with several players whom I thought would be the drivers of my fantasy team. Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, and Randall Cobb were expected to be the key performers for me week in and week out, and other players were supposed to play supporting roles – particularly players taken off the waiver wire during the season. At the end of the day, my drafted studs under-performed on the whole and my supporting players couldn’t compensate.
As I examine my roster, one key problem that sticks out to me is the poor performance of my top two WRs, Calvin Johnson and Randall Cobb. I paid $81 ($200 budget) for both at my auction draft; a rough estimate indicates that Johnson was the sixth most expensive WR in the league, and Cobb was the eighth most expensive WR. Sadly for me, to this day Johnson has produced the twelfth most points for WRs in my league, and Cobb has produced the twenty-second most points. Cobb was particularly troublesome because many of his points came in Week 3 when he scored 3 touchdowns; in most other weeks his performances were very pedestrian.
Meanwhile, probably my top-scoring WR for the first half of the season, Julian Edelman, went down with an injury in Week 10. Not long after that, my team took a string of three straight losses, which effectively took me out of the fantasy playoffs. Still, many studs for different managers were injured, so I can’t blame my performance on one player going down.
My running back situation was centered around Adrian Peterson. Drafted for $61, he has been the second-highest scoring RB in my league this year, so his price tag was worth the amount I spent on him.
As I explained after my draft, I left a hole in my roster at RB by not drafting a second quality RB. I had run out of money on draft day and expected to pick up a RB off waivers at some point in the season who could fill the void, and I was determined to use a “band-aid” approach for a few weeks until that undetermined key RB emerged. I drafted DeAngelo Williams for $1 and put him into my lineup, but I dropped him after a few weeks with the return of Leveon Bell (there was no real reason to keep Williams, even though he is the #8 RB in points scored so far).
As I anticipated, a prominent RB did emerge for me to scoop off waivers: Doug Martin. I managed to pick him up after Week 4. His original owner probably dropped him after his mediocre performances in the first few weeks of the season, but his strong rest-of-season results has made him the third highest RB in my league overall.
The situation with my tight ends was nothing special. I originally drafted Jordan Cameron and thought he would serve as a key component in the Miami passing attack, but eventually it became evident that he wouldn’t be the player he was in Cleveland. I dropped him and picked up Antonio Gates (who had recently come off an injury) who provided a worthy addition when San Diego’s offense decided to go bonkers. The TE didn’t really hurt my team, but it didn’t help much, either.
My season-long quarterback was Aaron Rodgers. Often considered the elite QB in the league, Rodgers had a slightly off year, in my opinion. I paid $28 in my draft for him – the second-highest-priced QB in my league. To date, he has scored the fifth-most points among QBs. While this was not too shabby, consider the fact that QB Blake Bortles went undrafted and scored the sixth-most points among QBs (only three points behind Rodgers). Nevertheless, I think the price I paid for Rodgers was reasonable considering the fact that his production was reliable and above average. This just so happened to be a year in which QBs valuations, as a whole, were unpredictable.
Some other players that I held for part of the season with the hope that they would break out never emerged as I had hoped. Matt Jones, Ronnie Hillman, and James Starks never turned into reliable options at RB, even though they did produce flashes of promise from time to time. Stephon Diggs was another player who I appeared to be on the brink of greatness at one point, but the Minnesota passing attack was simply too ineffective to make him a player worth keeping for too long.
The final analysis
On to assigning blame. As I alluded to above, my greatest mistake was over-valuing my top-drafted WRs. They simply weren’t reliable enough. I think it’s interesting that my top two WRs – Cobb and Calvin – were ranked in the #6 to #10 range for WRs in the preseason, but they obviously didn’t live up to their billing. Meanwhile, the guys who were top-five in the preseason rankings (Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones) did much better and lived up to their high pre-draft valuation. The lesson here seems to be that it’s better to go after elite players than merely better-than-average players. Reliability is key.
Another mistake I made was not having enough depth at the WR position. My league played rosters with three active WR slots and only two RB slots, and for whatever reason it was easier to stream RBs this year than to stream WRs. My team suffered once I was forced to stream a WR when Edelman was injured. Rather than drafting my TE for $7 (Camerson), I should have gone after a WR3 late in the draft in the $10 range. Brandon Marshall went for $7, Allen Robinson went for $9, and Amari Cooper went for $8. Any of these players would have been great values and would have provided me with a lot of depth.
Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. Mistakes were made. Hopefully I’ll redeem myself by winning the consolation bracket (sigh), but more of my focus will be on the leagues in which I did make the playoffs. Forward march!