Check out my prior Fantasy Football posts to get a better handle on the type of leagues I’m in. Long story short: I’m in three leagues. One of them means very little to me, but I joined because they needed someone to fill things out. One of them is my sanctuary – my Splinter League – that I created to give me some semblance of hope and control over the way a league should be run. And one of them I care about very deeply, but has been a total and complete disaster for me since 2010 (my last title was 2009, the last year of our pre-trophy era, and it’s stuck in my craw ever since). So, by and large, I’ll be talking about that league in this space on a weekly basis. Of course, the last thing anyone wants to hear is someone complaining about their fantasy football teams (hence the running title of these posts). But, this is my blog, and you’re stuck with me!
I also use it as a means to discuss players I have, players I’m interested in picking up, and players I’m going up against. I’m no fantasy football expert – far from it, in fact – but even the experts can be full of shit on a regular basis, so how is this different than any other fantasy football blog post you might read? At least I’m honest about my incompetence!
My league has morphed quite a bit over the years. It started out as a simple 2-QB 10-team PPR league with points skewed heavily towards the quarterbacks (they’re the most important players in the actual NFL, so they should also be the most important players in fantasy). Then, we started increasing the buy-in, adding keepers, tweaking the point-scoring, to the point where we’re like an everyday, run-of-the-mill 2-QB 10-team PPR dynasty league. We’d talked about going Dynasty for years, and now we’re there. This is the first off-season where we’re keeping a full accompaniment of rosters.
2 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 DEF. We all have to keep a full roster of those positions, so when we finally draft on Wednesday, September 7th, we’ll just be drafting for our 5 bench spots (we also have an IR spot, but that doesn’t factor into our draft). Barring some last-minute injury issues, here’s what my team is going to look like heading into the draft:
- Mac Jones (QB)
- Justin Fields (QB)
- Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
- Javonte Williams (RB)
- D.K. Metcalf (WR)
- CeeDee Lamb (WR)
- T.J. Hockenson (TE)
- Diontae Johnson (WR)
- Evan McPherson (K)
- L.A. Rams (DEF)
Keepers are based on who’s on your roster at the end of the season (wherever you end up in the playoffs, be it consolation bracket or otherwise). The only other QBs I had at the time were Jordan Love and Sean Mannion (don’t ask). Love was only a hedge in case Aaron Rodgers retired or moved to another team, but he’s not really a viable option for me in this instance. I need QBs who are actually going to play. That being said, I’m less than thrilled by my choices. I think Mac Jones is okay (I’m encouraged by how he’s looked in training camp), but Fields looks like a bust. He’s not accurate, he doesn’t make any big plays with his arm, and I don’t think he’s looking to run enough to be of any sort of value with the run game (a la Jalen Hurts or Josh Allen).
I feel both blessed and cursed with my receivers. Of the three, only Lamb figures to be a superstar fantasy producer. The other two are highly talented, but D.K. has the obvious situation of the Seahawks’ quarterback quagmire. And Diontae has a couple of promising throwers, but also a lot of talent around him fighting for targets. Receiver is also the deepest of all the skill spots in the NFL, so blowing my flex on one feels like kind of a waste, when there should be excellent value still remaining in the draft.
I had to do that, of course, because I want to give myself the best chance to win. And, in all honesty, my running back situation – like most – is a disaster. Zeke has been a stalwart for me (when healthy), but he’s obviously over the hill, and being pushed by Pollard hard. And while Williams looks as talented as they get, he’s also in a time-share that figures to sap his value.
But, my alternatives (or flex options) are no better. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a waste of a #2 overall draft pick when he came out as a rookie. That’s a bust you just can’t afford when you’re in a constant state of middling – like I was at the time – nor in a constant state of rebuild (which I’ve been in ever since). Alexander Mattison is the league’s best handcuff, but you can’t really make him a keeper when he’s so clearly behind Dalvin Cook. And I like James Robinson a lot, but the Jags like Travis Etienne even more (who, I unfortunately, do not have).
Tight end is arguably my biggest strength, having Hockenson and Mike Gesicki to choose from. Both figure to be Top 10 guys at their position, but Hockenson has the clear upside over the two. He just needs to stay healthy. It’s fair to doubt his ability to stay on the field, but when you’ve been struggling as I have for over a decade, you choose upside over consistency (especially knowing how much help I’m going to be lacking from my QB spots).
I ended up trading Justin Tucker last year at the deadline, for the ability to swap draft picks. I moved up from the last round (aka the 5th round) to the 2nd round, which is pretty good for a rebuilding guy like me. I’ll take a second 2nd round pick for a kicker anytime! As a bonus, McPherson was available, and he finished within 10 points of Tucker (while hitting more 50-yarders). He’s also considerably younger than Tucker, so if this dynasty holds, I’ll have McPherson for a long chunk of time.
Finally, the Rams aren’t the best fantasy defense, but they’re pretty solid. They’ve got strong players up front and in the secondary; with the addition of Bobby Wagner, I think they’ll continue to be a reliable source of points. If not, then who cares? It’s a fantasy defense, they’re a dime a dozen. Heading into last year, who expected the Cowboys to be the best?
We won’t know until a week prior to the draft who is going to be available, as that’s when our keepers are due. That being said, we do know who the rookies are. So, while I haven’t done extensive research on the matter, I’ve dipped my toe.
Kenneth Walker was a guy I was strongly considering. The Seahawks, obviously, favor the run over most teams. And Rashaad Penny can’t be counted upon for long health, so you figure Walker will start out as a backup, but still get some playing time, and maybe sooner rather than later make the leap into full-time starter. If he’s elite, then Walker is going to win the starter’s job at some point. And if he does, he’s going to be a 20-carry-a-game kind of guy, a la Chris Carson. That being said, Walker’s already dealing with a groin injury that’s cost him the final two preseason games. And there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for Week 1. That’s a bad sign for a rookie, who needs as many reps as possible to acclimate to a new system and a new league.
Breece Hall is, obviously, another option. He went to the Jets – who drafted a talented rookie back last year as well in Michael Carter – but Hall looks to be the real deal, and should assert himself in good time. But, how’s their O-Line? Well, luckily, they snagged Duane Brown, so unless their interior is shit, I could see that actually being okay. Consider me intrigued!
There’s also an interesting little nugget about another rookie running back who I’m keeping to myself. I don’t want to jinx anything, but if I can snag him, it could be a boon to my overall chances.
As for quarterbacks, I really need the help. I’ll take a gander at whoever ends up eligible for drafting among the vets – mostly out of necessity – because there isn’t a huge swath of options from the rookie class. Kenny Pickett is the only viable option, in my mind. Will he be available at #3 when I select? I’m guessing he will be. The bigger question is: when will he take over as starter? Will they give it to him out of the preseason? Or, will he have to sit a few weeks behind Trubisky? I hypothetically have time, because Jones and Fields have BYE weeks in 10 and 14 respectively. So, if they stay healthy, I can afford to sit Pickett on my bench. But, I can’t tell you how many years in a row I’ve gone all in on rookie quarterbacks, only to get the rug pulled out from under me. That being said, what are the odds that NO rookie quarterback this year steps up as a viable star?
I’m willing to let the board fall to me in a lot of ways. The only thing is, I don’t want to reach for a receiver. There are a shit-ton of receivers entering the NFL this year, and your guess is as good as mine who will be the next Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson. I heard there’s a new Steelers receiver who looks awesome, but how much do I want to go all-in on the Steelers offense, especially when I already have Diontae?
We’ll see. I have a couple weeks and a whole-ass vacation to ponder my options. I’ll also have two drafts before I do this one. Maybe a little practice will make perfect. Or, maybe doing little-to-no research will be just the ticket. Maybe I’ve spent the last decade-plus over-thinking every fucking thing, and I just need to sit back and relax. Maybe following the Yahoo rankings – or even letting them draft for me – is what I need to break this curse that’s come over me. Who knows?
All I know is, as always, I’m dreading fantasy football for the mental drain that it is. All this stress and disappointment takes its toll. I’m a glutton for punishment, but at some point even a glutton gets full.