That’s the refrain, right? The most boring thing on the planet is to hear about some guy’s bad beat in fantasy. Being held captive in conversation with one of these dullards is a fate worse than death. It’s like that running gag in the movie Airplane! Even the staunchest of fantasy supporters acknowledge it’s a major faux pas to bring it up in any circle, even among like-minded fantasy obsessives.
Well, I’m going to put that to the test this season. See, this is my website, and as such I can do whatever I want! Obviously, people don’t have to read it, and I’m okay with that. But, I’m always on the lookout for a weekly feature I can write up during the football season, and usually it’s just another pointless NFL Power Rankings based on my own under-informed opinions. I don’t know how interested I’ll be in continuing that, but I do know I’m interested an awful lot in my own fantasy football teams!
I usually sign up for three leagues. One is just a random, standard-scoring, 10-team league, full of total strangers where half the league usually drops out after a month. I don’t care about this team, I just do it for fun and to take a whack at standard scoring.
My main league is one I started back in 2003 on Yahoo. Some members have come and gone through the years, but we’ve distilled it over time to 9 friends who went to college together, and one of my friends from high school. This will be the league I write about in this column.
The third league I’m in is a Splinter League I started in 2015, out of frustration with the yearly rules changes in my main league. See, at some point, we started playing for money (at first it was $20 per person, then it was bumped up to $50, and now I guess it’s $60 for some reason), and my friends demanded we turn the thing into a democracy. At that point, slowly but surely, fun started getting sucked out of this thing. NEVERTHELESS, we’ve been doing it for so long (and we’ve since added a trophy to the mix, where every year we add the champion’s name to it) that it’s still a big deal to me. The last time I won our league was the year right BEFORE we got the trophy; I haven’t really come close since, and every year it eats away at me.
Anyway, I started the Splinter League because I thought fantasy football should be fun again, and the only way it’s fun for me is if I’m in charge of all the rules. So, I renounced commissionership of my main league, I only run the Splinter League now, it’s a $20 buy-in, and the rules never change. But, no one wants to hear about my Splinter League, because it’s a low-stakes lark.
The main league is called 4West4Life. It’s a long story (short: my college friends and I all lived in the same dorm at the University of Washington; we were in the west building of Mercer Hall, 4th floor; aka Mercer 4-West, hence 4West4Life). Here’s the gist:
- 10 teams, head-to-head
- 6 teams make the playoffs (top 2 seeds get a first round bye)
- Playoffs are weeks 14-16
- Bottom 4 teams play in the Consolation Bracket
- To mitigate tanking, we made the Consolation Bracket count towards the draft order the following year (i.e. the winner of the bracket drafts 1st, 2nd place drafts second, 3rd place drafts 3rd, etc.)
- The rest of the draft order is determined by reverse-order of the playoffs, with a twist (champion drafts 10th, 2nd place 9th, 3rd place 7th, 4th place 8th, 5th place 5th, 6th place 6th; so if you’re in a loser’s game it’s like you’re in the Consolation Bracket and still want to win that game for a better draft spot)
- It’s a Keeper League, where we had 2 keepers for the longest time, but just increased to 3 keepers this past offseason
- It’s a straight draft, just changed from a snake draft this past offseason
And rosters are as follows:
- 2 Quarterbacks
- 2 Wide Receivers
- 2 Running Backs
- 1 Tight End
- 1 Flex (WR/RB/TE)
- 5 Bench Spots
- 1 IR Spot (new to this season)
- 1 Kicker
- 1 Team Defense
I won’t get into all the scoring minutiae, but just know this: quarterbacks are the most important players in our league, not running backs. Which, honestly, makes sense, because quarterbacks are the most important players in the real NFL. If you don’t have a top-notch QB, you’re most likely not going to make the playoffs. But, since in normal 10-team leagues, it’s easy for all 10 teams to have a quality QB, we opted to make it a 2-QB league to add a little challenge. Yes, you can go for the best QBs in the league, but the rest of your roster might suffer as teams go after the elite players at other positions.
Also, it’s a PPR league; 1 point per reception. 10 yards per point for rushing & receiving; 20 yards per point for passing. We do allow for fractional points. Finally, regardless of whether they’re thrown, caught, or run in, all TDs are worth 6 points. Everything else is pretty standard down the line, with minor tweaks here and there (INT’s are -4 points, for instance).
Last year, my team was Mr. Poopy Butthole. I was kicking ass during the regular season, then Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension kicked in (I had him, with Dak Prescott as one of my QBs, and Carson Wentz as my other QB). The Cowboys fell apart, Nick Foles entered the scene, and I ended up in 4th place in the league, winning my first playoff game, then losing in the semis.
This year, in keeping with the Rick & Morty theme, my team is King Flippy Nips!
Per league rules, the deadline to get your keepers in is a week before the draft. Our league is drafting on Friday, August 31st, so our keepers are due tonight by midnight. I guess, if my friends are reading this, they get to learn about my keepers a little early; since I’m a mediocre player at best, I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference.
As my season was winding down last year – and I realized I wasn’t going to win the championship once again – I worked my roster around to try to give me the most keeper opportunities (knowing we’d likely expand to 3 keepers this year, it seemed prudent to think about the future). Quarterbacks and running backs are the overwhelming majority of players kept in our league (QBs more than RBs), so I set my focus there.
My quarterbacks on roster were:
- Carson Wentz
- Dak Prescott
- Mitch Trubisky
- Nick Foles
My running backs were:
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Leonard Fournette
- Derrick Henry
- Samaje Perine
And, for good measure, my receivers (and tight ends) were:
- Keenan Allen
- Davante Adams
- Cooper Kupp
- Delanie Walker
So, I need to keep 3 guys. My obvious top 2 no-brainers are Carson Wentz and Ezekiel Elliott. I’m planning on keeping Wentz until the end of time, because I think he’s going to be great his entire career. And Elliott is one of probably the top 2 or 3 running backs in the league, so I’ll keep him as long as he’s in his prime.
As for those receivers, I’ll get them out of the way now, because I’m not keeping any of them. Gronk is great, but I can’t trust him to stay healthy. Allen might be even better from a fantasy, PPR perspective, but he too is difficult to trust to stay healthy. I think Adams will have a monster year as the unquestioned #1 target for the Packers, but I have enough lingering doubts to risk him to the draft. The other two are non-starters.
As for the QBs, Foles ain’t happening. With Trubisky, I just haven’t heard enough good things about him – either during his rookie season last year, or this off-season – to want to take that risk. I was leaning hard on keeping Dak, because I made him my top draft pick last season (when I was desperate to get my quarterback situation settled for the long term); I had the #2 overall pick, there weren’t a lot of quality leftover QBs, and Marcus Mariota ended up going #1 overall. But, the way Dak’s game rolled over and died when Elliott was suspended – combined with the fact that his receiving targets are some of the most mediocre in the entire league – I just don’t think he’s going to be that good.
Let’s face it, if you’re in a keeper league, you have to HIT on your keepers, or you’re fucked. So, I’m going with the three guys that give me the best chance to succeed in 2018.
I don’t know Washington’s running back situation very well, but they strike me as a team that likes a committee, so Perine is out. I like Henry an awful lot, and I’ve been waiting and waiting for the Titans to dump DeMarco Murray (or for Murray to get injured); let’s just say many a bench spot has been squandered the last two years waiting for Henry to get his shot with the #1 offense. With Murray now gone, this looked like prime Henry time! He’s clearly a stud, it’s an offense that likes to run the ball, so he should be a no-brainer right? So, why did Tennessee go out and pay a lot of money to Dion Lewis? Lewis who is another great running back (who, I would argue, is underrated when it comes to being an every-down back) and is sure to eat into a lot of Henry’s carries. So, that turned me off in a big way; it’s like the team just doesn’t have the confidence in Henry to be a feature back for some reason.
Leonard Fournette is the clear #1 in Jacksonville. On a great team, with a bad quarterback, looking to grind games out and plow Fournette into the ground. The main concern is Fournette’s injury history – you know I’ll be freaking out at the first sign of a rolled ankle – but his upside is so great I just can’t say no.
So it’s Wentz, it’s Elliott, and it’s Fournette.
The draft is next week at 6:30pm on Friday, August 31st. I’ll be meeting up with a bunch of friends with my laptop and we’ll be going to town. I’ll be drafting 8th in this bastardized straight draft, so wish me luck, because I’m gonna need it.
Next week’s post will have to be after the draft (because I’m not giving away any more of my draft plans), sometime during the Labor Day weekend if I can find a way to get my shit together.