Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: We’re Back!

If you want to read back through my 2018 season, click HERE. Follow the links at the top to go back all the way.

This weekly blog post was such a rousing success (and by “success” I mean literally zero people read it) that I absolutely had to run it back. How will it differ? Well, I’m throwing this up on the fly, so we’ll see!

I was in the middle of my great 5-week, cross-country road trip when we drafted on Friday, August 30th, so I was in a motel in Boise when the shit went down. There weren’t too many significant rule changes in our offseason fantasy football meeting, but a major one was an increase from 3 to 4 keepers. As you can see from the link above, I had a pretty good pile of players to choose from. Without belaboring things, here are the four I went with:

  • QB – Carson Wentz
  • RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  • RB – Le’Veon Bell
  • WR – Tyreek Hill

The final spot came down to Hill or Adam Thielen; when it looked like Hill might miss some games to a suspension, I was rolling with Thielen (when Hill was let off the hook, I obviously changed my mind). The fact of the matter is, Hill has the much higher upside. Of course, this was before he got injured in Week 1, causing him to miss a few weeks of the season, so that’s kind of a bummer. Fortunately, it’s only a clavicle injury, so he should be back and ready to rip once the bone heals.

Due to my fourth place finish in the playoffs last year, I ended up drafting 8th overall. It’s a straight draft – as opposed to a snake draft – which means I was picking 8th in every round. With everyone going with four keepers, that’s 40 players off the board before we do anything, so it should be pretty clear the best of the best were gone by the time I selected. My plan going in was to grab Kyler Murray, but he went second overall (after Thielen was taken first), so I had to pivot earlier than I expected. I’ll give you the total rundown, then explain my rationale afterward:

  1. QB – Ben Roethlisberger
  2. RB – Josh Jacobs
  3. WR – T.Y. Hilton
  4. WR – Cooper Kupp
  5. RB – Derrius Guice
  6. WR – Christian Kirk
  7. TE – Vance McDonald
  8. RB – Tony Pollard
  9. K – Justin Tucker
  10. QB – Daniel Jones
  11. DEF – Buffalo

So, if you know anything about our league, you know quarterbacks are vital. It’s a 2-QB league, with TDs worth 6 points (and INT’s worth -4 points), so if you’re not picking quarterbacks high (or keeping them from last year), then you’re not doing it right. I’d already missed out on Lamar Jackson, and lucked out that someone took Jameis Winston, so it came down to Roethlisberger or Rivers for me (though, I may regret letting Dak fall to a rival in the next round).

I had been eyeballing Jacobs for quite some time, and felt fortunate he was still there the next time I picked. There was no debate whatsoever, as plenty of those second-tier RBs were flying off the board. Jacobs should be good right out of the gate, plus he could be a possible keeper in the years to come, should one of my other guys age out.

It got dicey with my third pick, because I’d been salivating over Kenny Golladay all offseason, after it had been announced he was going to be their #1 receiver. The Lions aren’t great, but they like to throw the ball a lot, and Golladay has been looking like a breakout candidate for some time now. He went one pick ahead of me, which left me scrambling. I needed someone to pair with Tyreek Hill, and I had too many running backs already to start filling up my bench with more. In a panic, it came down to Hilton, Tyler Lockett, and Tyler Boyd. I REALLY didn’t want any of these guys, for a variety of reasons. In general, I don’t like having Seahawks on my fantasy roster as a rule; I especially don’t like having Wilson or any receivers, because they can be wildly inconsistent from a fantasy perspective. Boyd is someone I had last year, who was very underwhelming when A.J. Green was out of the lineup and he was thrust into the #1 receiver role (which he would be in the first month or so of the season, with Green’s foot/ankle injury). Hilton is another inconsistent receiver who can be really awesome or get you less than 10 points, with seemingly little in-between. But, the fact of the matter is, I wanted a true #1 receiver to pair with Hill, and even with Luck retired I still like that Indy team. Jacoby Brissett isn’t totally inept, so I rolled the dice with Hilton.

The funny thing is, by the time it got around to my next pick, both Lockett and Boyd were still available! They went with the subsequent two picks after mine. I went with Kupp because I’d heard all the great things about his pre-season and his improved health, plus I just REALLY wanted a piece of that Rams offense, and he was the last viable candidate left on the board. In an ideal world, I’d have Robert Woods back, but he was snagged a few picks before I took Hilton. Kupp isn’t a world-beater, but he’s always good for a chunk of targets, and you never know if/when he’ll have a breakout game/season.

With my next pick, I thought I had something special. I thought I had a potential League Winner. Guice was Washington’s main dude in the draft in 2018 before he got injured and lost his rookie season. With him back in the fold, it felt like only a matter of time before he took over sole possession of the RB1 role on that team. Even if I had to hold onto him for a few weeks before he ascended, it would’ve been worth it.

I took Kirk next because Will Fuller V went a few picks earlier, and I really wanted a piece of that Arizona offense. I took McDonald because there weren’t many good tight ends left, and with AB gone in Pittsburgh, it seemed only natural that he’d see an uptick in targets. I took Pollard as an Elliott handcuff, as he still wasn’t extended by the time we drafted. I took Tucker because kickers are weirdly important in fantasy (even though they should be totally outlawed, and I’ll never stop fighting for this cause, because the variation is too random from week to week) and I wanted a guy I didn’t have to worry about. I took Daniel Jones because I still hadn’t drafted a backup QB. Roethlisberger’s BYE isn’t until week 7, and my hope was that he’d take over the starting job by then (and, if he pans out, he could be a possible keeper candidate for 2020). I took Buffalo because they were on the board, and I’d heard some good things (if nothing else, they were playing the Jets in Week 1, so that felt like a safe way to grab some cheap points).

Before Week 1 started, once everyone on waivers reverted back to free agents, I grabbed A.J. Green and stashed him in my IR slot. If he comes back in October, that could be a real boon. I wouldn’t expect him to play the rest of the season upon his return, but if he can get me a few big weeks, that should be something.

My team’s name is Space Pirates! There’s another team in the league referencing the good ol’ Space Force, so I’m going the other direction with it. We like to have fun.

Anyway, in Week 1, Space Pirates! squared off against Korky Butchek (the third place finisher in the playoffs last year). He’s the guy who knocked me from the 7th overall draft pick to the 8th; he’s also the guy who took Golladay from me. So, the revenge factor was pretty high on my part.

I got absolutely great games out of Wentz, Hilton (of all people), Bell, and Jacobs (all ranging from 23-34 points each). Buffalo got me a solid 17 points, Tucker got me 11, and everyone else did just enough (Roethlisberger, of course, stunk up the joint, and Hill’s injury knocked him out pretty early which also hurt ME). Korky Butchek had great games from DeAndre Hopkins and Evan Engram, but it wasn’t nearly enough. I took care of business to the tune of a 172.25-152.70 victory. That was good for just the fourth-highest total of the first week, putting me in fourth place.

I didn’t put in any waiver claims with my #3 waiver priority, so I held off until the wee hours of Wednesday morning before making my pickups. As a result, I now have the #1 waiver priority, which I fully intend to hoard until someone amazing comes along.

First thing’s first, I grabbed T.J. Hockenson from the Lions. He had a tremendous first week, and with people comparing him to Gronk, that felt like a no-brainer (I dropped Tony Pollard, because with so few bench spots, keeping handcuffs is a luxury few can afford). I also got Darren Waller, as with AB gone from the Raiders, he’s set to see a huge number of targets in the passing game (I dropped McDonald, because I just don’t trust Roethlisberger or the Steelers to ever make their TE a focal point in the passing game). Finally, with Guice set to hit the actual IR for the next 8 weeks, I set him loose, picking up a proper backup QB in Gardner Minshew. Consider me a believer in the moustache! Again, if he pans out (and he was terrific in replacing an injured Nick Foles last week), that’s another possible keeper for next year.

See, with a league like this, you have to always be thinking about the next year. Selling out to “win now” just isn’t tenable, because you’ll set yourself back YEARS in the process, all for what’s essentially a lottery ticket. I feel like I have a pretty good mix of both veterans who are great now, with younger guys who could develop into stars.

The obvious downside to my season so far is that the injury bug is crippling my depth. Hill is out 4-6 weeks, which is actually less time than Green is expected to be out, so I moved Hill to the IR spot. And, with Guice gone, my RB depth takes a big hit (for a position that gets injured as much as this one, you just can’t have enough quality RBs on your roster). I opted to go Waller over Hockenson for my TE spot, because I need to see at least another week out of the Lions’ rookie before I totally fall for the Gronk hype. I’ve got Hilton and Kupp as my starting receivers, as Kupp is more dependable than Kirk (plus the Cards are playing the tough Ravens defense). Everything else is the same, with my 3-headed RB hydra of Elliott, Bell, and Jacobs all locked in (two RB slots and my FLEX).

This week, I’m going up against Sloane N Steady, who is the only guy in our league with worse luck right now, in that he has no Luck at all (HI-YO!). He had the unfortunate occurrence of locking in Andrew Luck as one of his four keepers just a day before he announced his retirement. With Luck & Aaron Rodgers as two of his keepers the last few years, he was probably the most settled of anyone in the league at his QB spots. But, not only did he get Thielen with the first overall draft pick, in the second round he got Rivers as his QB2, which is an awesome find.

Sloane N Steady’s team looks quite formidable. Rodgers and Rivers. Thielen and Amari Cooper. Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb. Delanie Walker (TE) and James White (FLEX). Dallas’ kicker and New England’s defense. With bench spots devoted to Mike Williams, Jordan Howard, Donte Moncrief, and Derek Carr. At the time of this posting, I’m favored by less than 3 points; I have to imagine it’s going to be as close as advertised.

When the dust of Sunday settles, it’ll be Chubb vs. Bell on Monday Night Football to likely decide who wins or loses. Space Pirates! had a mighty scare when Bell went in for an MRI this week, but it looks like he’s playing. Regardless, if his touches are limited as a result of whatever this shoulder thing is, I think I’m toast. The rest of Sloane N Steady’s team plays in the 10am Sunday window, so I’ll certainly be playing from behind for the entire day.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team

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
  • Gronk

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.