I tried a new smart strategy for fantasy football this year. Something fresh. Something cool. Something new. Something that I was sure would work. On that hopeful night two months ago, I had a Modelo Chelada in one hand and a list of players I wanted in the other. The idea was to not take running backs and draft a quarterback late.
Screw running backs. They always get hurt. Every one that you take always ends up losing carries to Tim Hightower, Charles Sims, or some other waiver wire All-Star that you never get. So instead of being shackled to those volatile churners, I took only receivers. Teams pass more. Receivers are usually more stable and get enough points to keep up with backs, especially if it is PPR. It worked. Kind of. The problem was I took the wrong receivers. I never found any hot waiver wire finds at running back that I thought the smarter, older, wiser, more experienced future me would get. So again, it's another season where both my teams suck.
But hey , hat's what daily fantasy is for. At least that's what all those commercials from last year told me. I gave it a try and played one-on-one against my friend. The first week I lost and paid for his dog's food. The dog didn't even say thank you. Dick. German Sheppards are very ungrateful. The next week I invited said friend again and some rando ended up underneath my covers instead. He absolutely crushed me.
James White? Cameron Meredith? Time Travel?
I couldn't believe it.
It was like I was in middle school walking over to a friend's house to play some PS2, and along my trek some Churchill Chargers mooned me and took the $5 I was going to use to buy a Fruitopia the next day. Now I can't even play this. I'm horrified someone else is going to swoop right in, take my money and pride, and blacken my eyes like Tilapia. I have $5 left in this account. This boy is never getting it back.
I had zero fun playing fantasy this year. I am sure you are just like me, enjoying none of it, unless you play in like seven leagues and one of them worked out, and we all know that doesn't count. Here are the players that destroyed your team, took your money, and terrorized your dreams. The only rule I have is that players can't be on here because of season-ending injuries. Those happen. You can't do anything about it. You can drop the players and move on. These players you are stuck trotting out every week in dismay as they put up less points than Ty Montgomery.
I hate Ty Montgomery.
Cam Newton: Average Positional Draft Position 2. Points Scored 114 (16).
Poor guy. There is truth to defenders being able to do whatever they want to him. In Week One, the Broncos treated his head like a pinata, launching and casting spells up into skull every chance they got, only for nothing to get called. Last week, against Arizona, a defender speared his lower half. It was an obvious Tom Brady-Bernard Pollard play. Nothing was called.
The dumbest part about all of this is what the league enforces. Dancing? NO, can't do that. Accidentally tap the quarterback's head when you follow through on a batted pass attempt? 15 yards. He's wearing a helmet. That's what it is there for. These things are not allowed, but vulgar late hits against one of the league's stars is.
It's also such a bummer the Panthers suck because they were so much fun to watch last year. They were a perfect machine operating at peak efficiency. Then this year, one string got stuck and the whole thing has sputtered to a standstill. The front four isn't getting pressure like it did last year, so the secondary that lost its best player is forced to cover longer, which they can't do. That puts Carolina behind early, so they are forced to abandon the run game and throw incessantly, which forces them to spread their offense out and puts their average offensive tackles in one-on-one matchups that they can't win, which lead to Cam Newton getting obliterated and not being able to play like he should. It's been a rough year.
Russell Wilson: Average Positional Draft Position 3. Points Scored 87 (24).
Wilson had one of the best four game stretches of all time last year. He operated out of the pocket and dismantled teams. It was what everyone was waiting for and what everyone expected would bleed into this season. But it hasn't.
Seattle's offensive line has been really bad. This was not a surprise. Seattle has overcome this before because Russell Wilson thrives in chaos and is the slitheriest quarterback in the league and because Marshawn Lynch broke a lot of tackles. This season Lynch is gone, and Wilson has been playing with a peg leg. He doesn't have the ability to maneuver around and disappear out of the pocket. He's crumpled and throws the ball out of bounds. He can't play behind this colander unless he is at full health. He isn't, and as a result, this offense is bad.
Todd Gurley: Average Positional Draft Position 2. Points Scored 67 (21).
My second strategy this year to late-quarterback-no-running-back-all-receivers was to take either Gurley or Ezekiel Elliot and trade for the other one. It makes sense. Young running backs are less likely to get injured. They are more likely to get carries. Gurley doesn't play for a team that makes sense. He plays behind a bad offensive line and against eight defenders in the box. It's almost torture what the Rams do to him. Gurley takes hand-off after hand-off, runs into a wall, and is forced to get back up and do it again. The Rams are going to ruin him before he ever gets a second contract. But dammit, if Eddie George can get that many carries, Gurley should be able to to. Men and football were so much tougher in 1998.
Mark Ingram: Average Positional Draft Position 9. Points Scored 59 (26).
I really have no idea why anyone takes this boob. I guess because the Saints throw the ball to everyone? And he can kind of catch passes? I don't know. All I do is laugh at who ever takes him on draft day, and laugh even harder when they complain about the seven points he gets every week. I mean, Tim Hightower is snatching carries from him.
DeAndre Hopkins: Average Positional Draft Position 4. Points Scored 58 (T-30).
What blasphemy. Brock Osweiler has been the worst quarterback in the NFL this year. A combination of yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, QBR, Quarterback Rating, DVOA, and DYAR all point to this. Advanced stats are worthless. The biggest indictment of Osweiler is that he can't throw the ball to DeAndre Hopkins. Ryan Mallett could. Brian Hoyer could. Ryan Gritzpatrick could. T.J. Yates could. Brock Osweiler can't. We waited three years for the Texans to get a quarterback, and all he has done is turned the third best receiver (or fourth, depending on your A.J. Green feelings) in the NFL into the 50th.
Allen Robinson: Average Positional Draft Position 6. Points Scored 51 (T-38).
Again, blasphemy. Robinson is disgusting. He runs routes that break my brain. I still haven't gotten over this one.
Yet what does Blake Bortles do? Overthrow him by four yards. This year Robinson has a catch rate of 45.7%. He had two catches on eight attempts for nine yards against Oakland, one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. He hasn't had a game with more than 100 receiving yards so far. He has dropped some passes, but who wouldn't if you are catching passes from Bortles? Every pass attempt is like a spinning wheel. You have no idea where the ball is going to end up. Accurate passes are a surprise when Bortles is the quarterback. Robinson can't prepare or expect the ball to go to any place. A five yard radius in any direction around the receiver is a potential landing spot.
The Jaguars have broken Robinson. They don't deserve nice things.
Sammy Watkins: I know I said no injuries. But I drafted this man in the second round of both of my leagues. He has 12.3 points, 6.3 non-PPR. He is in a walking boot, just hanging out, drinking mai tais, and dodging dildos. Still, I can't entirely hate him. The Bills rushed him back from his injury too soon, just like what they are doing with LeSean McCoy. Watkins re-injured his foot and played before he was ready. He is on IR, but he may play again. I don't really care. All hopes of youth are ruined. I was so excited for life, only for it to never really happen. I was so excited to watch TyGod drop bombs to Watkins, only for it to never happen.
Every year, no matter what, I always screw up a pick in the first, second or third round that derails my team and keeps me from getting a Texans embroidered flannel or some stinky cash. This year I get to blame Sammy Watkins.
Coby Fleener. Average Positional Draft Position 6. Points Scored 45 (12).
The only good thing about Fleener is that he cut his hair. You can't be a bad football player with long hair. He can't get open. He can't block. He drops passes regularly. You can only get by for so long by being Andrew Luck's roommate. I'm sure you could get a job anywhere in Silicon Valley if you have that experience on your resume and walk in wearing a Patagonia vest. Fleener was taken early because of that, and duh, did you remember the last time the Saints had a good tight end? Yeah, Jimmy Graham. But he could actually run fast and jump high.
Fleener is a hack. Yes, he is 12th this year in points scored, but all of his points have come in two games. 35 of his 45 points came against Atlanta and Carolina. The rest he's had 0, 2, 1, 4, and 3 points. This is exactly the worst type of fantasy player. Every time you come to the end of your patience and get ready to drop him, he has a 20 point game. So you think he finally has gotten it. He's going to flourish. Then he scores 1, 4, and 3 points, you bench him, about to drop him, he scores 20 again, and then you start him the next week. This happens four times in the season. The year ends. You forever hate Coby Fleener.
Cincinnati Bengals. Average Positional Draft Position 5. Points Scored 26 (23).
Unless you are a sociopath devoid of empathy, you have to feel for Bengals' fans. They have been good often, and they still haven't made it out of the first round with Marvin Lewis. Last year was THE team. Their secondary was deep, their front seven was ferocious (GRRRRR), Andy Dalton learned how to deal with the pressure and became a top ten quarterback, the offensive line was one of the best in the league, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu were underrated compliments to A.J. Green, and Tyler Eifert finally played. That was their team. That was the team that could have won a title, and I'm sure they will look back on last year in the future and think what if, like how Texans fans think about 2011, how Vikings ans think about 2009, 49ers' fans think about 2013, and how I think about the 2011 Texas Rangers.
Then Dalton broke his thumb making a tackle following a red zone interception against the Steelers. Jeremy Hill fumbled in field goal range with Cincinnati up 16-15. Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones lost their minds delivering late hits and tried to fight Joey Porter and gave the Steelers a game-winning field goal in the playoffs because of penalties. And so far this year things have continued to fall apart. They had their brains drained in the offseason. The secondary is a year older and isn't covering well. Their defensive line hasn't been good enough to make up for their linebackers.
I don't blame Lewis, though. I blame their jerseys. I really have no idea how you can put on some mean kitty jerseys befit with tiger stripes and go try to win football games. I would feel silly. It's like how Iowa used to paint their opposing locker room pink to sour their opponent's testosterone. No amount of Pantera can make up for tiger stripes or pink locker rooms.
Steven Hauschka. Average Positional Draft Position 2. Points Scored 58 (18).
I love the newish extra point rule. Watching these professionals fail at something they have been good at for so long has been hilarious. They were just handed over points on a silver platter and now they have to actually work for it, like some graduating college student; now you have to work for it, Bucko. Better Titan up.
The best part is that it has ruined all their kicking attempts. Them missing something that is supposed to be easy had bled throughout the field. Now the scores are all loopy, teams are having to go for two, nobody can make anything, and the most unexciting play in football is now exciting. Football is a beautiful mess.
It just further adds to why you don't draft kickers or even have them in fantasy. How much benefit does the best kicker get you. Like two points? I don't know. Just draft a player you can stash on IR. Pick someone up on the waiver wire that has high projections from Football Outsiders' and then pick up someone in the top ten who is sitting in the garbage bin when that doesn't work out.