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2017 Fantasy Football: The All-Murder Team

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A look at the players who have killed the most fantasy football teams this season.

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

I used to be able to hate fantasy football in a much simpler way. I would pick up players that always ended up being crappy, scramble around Sunday mornings to set lineups only to lose because of these split coffee decisions, sit through conversations regarding sleepers, and miss one or two early draft picks that would dismantle my team, all in the name of easy conversation and that end of summer draft party. It was the cost of being a social football fan in the postmodern age.

This cost is now coupled with an insane monetary one. I’m far enough out of school that I, and most of my friends, are out of the house and making enough with their worthless degrees in general studies to have a disposable income. In school, we would play for $20. After graduation, it bumped up to $40. Then $50. This year it exploded. In three leagues, I spent $175. I spent $175 on something I’m terrible at and hate doing. I’m a masochist, and one day all of this self hatred is going to strap me inside of a bucket.

I could probably just learn how to be better at fantasy football. I could learn about things like streaming and the importance of targets. I could scrap the late round quarterback draft strategy I use every year that doesn’t work. I could maybe draft Akeem Hunt instead of Mike Gillislee one day. But that’s too hard. It’s so much easier to hate the players and this stupid game instead of facing reality and looking inside at my own rotten guts.

This is the All-Murder team, a post I started doing a couple of years ago. The team is comprised of players that have ruined the most imaginary Sundays so far this season. The only rule is that injured players don’t count. It’s all about the ones who are healthy but are destroying you every week.

Numbers are from ESPN PPR.

Quarterback

Matt Ryan—Average Positional Draft Position: 4. Points Scored: 66.9 (26) .

Last weekend I checked the scores and got to watching condensed games. I saw the Falcons blew it against the Dolphins. I couldn’t wait to see how in the grace of the green grass Atlanta went go 17-0 yet still lose to JAY CUTLA. It took two awful special team turnovers. With the Falcons driving to at least tie, I knew it. Matt Ryan was going to throw an interception.

And it wasn’t even his fault. Austin Hooper had the ball ripped from him. Still, you should lose if you give up 20 points in a half to someone who doesn’t even want to hear the word ‘football’.

It was expected for the Falcons’ offense to regress this season. They were the St. Louis Rams last year. Every single skill player they had was a threat to pick up yards on every play. They flew through the regular season, the first 10 quarters of the NFL playoffs, and led the NFL in offensive DVOA and points scored. They were going to be worse this year.

This season, they have fallen to 12th in points scored and 4th in offensive DVOA. They are first in rushing DVOA, but are 12th in pass offense DVOA. Imagine if you went all in on the Falcons’ passing offense in fantasy football because regression is for nerds. Got yourself a nice Ryan-Jones combo. Maybe picked up Mohamed Sanu late. Savvy stuff. This would be like investing in Enron in 2000 or purchasing Astros’ World Series tickets after the ALDS.

Honorable Mention:

Drew Brees—Average Positional Draft Position: 3. Points Scored: 89.2 (14).

This is so beautiful. So perfect. The Saints may actually be good this year. They are 3-2 and the entire NFC, and NFL in general, is wide open like post beet juice capillaries. They are 15th in defensive DVOA and may actually break the 7-9 barrier.

So of course Drew Brees stops throwing for 5,000 yards a game. He’s been fine, fantasy-wise, aside from the loss to Detroit where he threw for less than 200 yards and two interceptions while winning a real football game. How rude! Everyone is still going to start Brees and be okay with it. They just aren’t going to scribble a 20 before they attempt to make it to some predestined Matthew Berry weekly point total.

Running back

Jay Ajayi—Average Positional Draft Position: 10. Points Scored: 46.4 (36).

Ajayi, baby. I’m sad he’s here. He was the best last season. Regardless, he still has made some obscene runs. Damn, that’s the stuff.

Ajayi is just inefficient overall. He already has 103 carries and is picking up 3.8 yards an attempt. Adam Gase is just running him straight forward on first and second down to give Jay Cutler an easier third down pass attempt when Cutler doesn’t give a damn; we all know he wants to be put in 3rd and 12 as often as possible. Ajayi’s longest carry is 20 yards. Last season he had 10 rushes of at least 20 yards. The boxes are stacked this year. Cutler ruins everything. He stinks and I hate him.

Overall, it’s been a weird season for fantasy running backs. Aside from Spencer Ware’s injury allowing Kareem Hunt to be given the chance to obliterate everyone, the earliest running backs drafted have been the best. Few of those 10-25 selections have actually broken into the top ten. Doing what I do—drafting receivers and loading up on running backs late because, I don’t know, attrition?—has been, just like it was last year, a terrible strategy. Don’t do that.

Marshawn Lynch—Average Positional Draft Position: 14. Points Scored: 45.5 (37).

Analysis wise, the same for Ajayi can be said for Lynch. He’s stuck running in stacked boxes thanks to Derek Carr’s fractured back and EJ Manuel.

Two things...one, how in the hell did Carr miss only two weeks with a transverse process fracture? That sounds like something that would kill you. It sounds like he had a bunch of cavities in his spine. The other is how bad must Connor Cook be for Manuel to be starting in his place? Cook had a rough postseason start against a great defense and an injured offensive line, but Manuel is as accurate as Channel 5 Jim’s weather predictions, and I don’t think I’ve seen Cook since this happened. I thought he was an Argonaut all this time.

Lynch is still fun. Seeing him dance around is great. He’s a beautiful person and a true expressive personality. He’s still a rusty 31 year old running back. He would be great as a short yardage back. On runs between 1-3 yards to go, Lynch has picked up seven first downs and two touchdowns on eleven rushing attempts. Lynch can’t drive your offense and have 44 more carries than Jalen Richard, though. There was also that time D.J. Swearinger crushed him.

Honorable Mention

Paul Perkins—Average Positional Draft Position: 32. Points Scored: 16.6 (76).

This player is epitome of fantasy football. Targets! Carries! He’s the RB1!. Paul Perkins is a bad running back. Because of his situation, he was gobbled up in fantasy drafts. Perkins ended up picking up 4.5, 4.2, 5, and 2.9 points before aching ribs kept him on the bench. He picked up 13 yards on mine carries against Tampa Bay. He’s averaged 1.9 yards an attempt. His two fellow RBs on the Giants’ roster, Orleans Darkwa (such an incredible name) and Wayne Gallman, have averaged 5.7 and 4.1 yards an attempt. Get out of here, Paul Perkins.

Wide Receiver

Julio Jones—Average Positional Draft Position: 2. Points Scored: 61.7 (33).

Unlike running backs, wide receivers have been a complete mismatch. The top receivers selected have ended up all over the place. Of course, I ended up with all three of these players in various circumstances. The worst part about having these early drafted receivers that are terrible is you still have to play them. What else are you going to do? Start Robby Anderson? They pick up seven points every week and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Football doesn’t make any sense anymore. 2017 is insane. Julio Jones has 37 targets. He’s ranked 42nd in the NFL. I only know a world where a healthy Julio gets 15 targets a game. Being alive is scary and confusing enough as it is. Reality is too fragile a thing. Something like this can’t happen. I need some stability and assurance in the external world to ensure I’m not just a brain in a vat. Also, Julio hasn’t been targeted in the red zone yet. Come on, man.

Amari Cooper—Average Positional Draft Position: 9. Points Scored: 38.6 (73).

More like Amari Pooper. Boom. Got him.

He has five drops this season. Cooper Kupp has been better than Amari Cooper. Cooper scored 17.2 points in Week One. Since then: 7.3, 1.6, 2.9, 1.8, and 7.8 while Michael Crabtree continues to catch every single thing, gold chain bouncing out of his shoulder pads. The one league I have Cooperin is a keeper league. I can’t wait to spend $250 to keep my team, let Coopergo next summer, and watch him be a top five receiver again. Fun!

Doug Baldwin—Average Positional Draft Position: 10. Points Scored: 63.1 (31).

The only reason I drafted Baldwin was because of a Field Gulls’ tweet. It said something along the lines of Baldwin is a top ten receiver. I put that in my pocket. Cool. Listen to me, young man. Go west and don’t make decisions based on a tweet praising a player that plays for the same team as the site that covers that team.

Honorable Mention

Terrelle Pryor—Average Positional Draft Position: 15. Points Scored: 42.9 (60).

I have no idea what’s going with Pryor. Sometimes the world just doesn’t make sense. I hope Kirk Cousins leaves Washington if they don’t franchise tag him again and the Redskins make Pryor the starting quarterback in 2018.

Also, I hate Jamison Crowder and Kenny Britt so much. Nerds told me Crowder was an underrated slot receiver last year and would be a target monster as an outside reciever. He’s 108th in targets with 24. Kenny Britt is Albert Haynesworth with a flatter stomach. I drafted each of them three times. Each one sits there, and I think maybe they will break out this week. They never do. They are worse than eczema.

Tight End

Jordan Reed—Average Positional Draft Position: 2. Points Scored: 32.2 (60).

Reed has rib and chest injuries. What else is new? He has still played a lil’ bit but hasn’t done much, counting number wise. Vernon Davis is somehow competent. I guess you can play football forever when you are 6’10”, 275 pounds and run a 4.25 40 yard dash. My only advice is to try and trade for Reed if you can. He’s, as we say in the biz, a really good buy low option.

Honorable Mention

Jimmy Graham—Average Positional Draft Position: 5. Points Scored: 44.9 (20).

The Seahawks’ offense is a hamster wheel. Every year Russell Wilson could win the MVP, Jimmy Graham could catch 12 touchdown passes, and the running backs could break enough tackles to overcompensate for the offensive line. It never happens. It’s just Wilson dodging bullets and doing enough while the defense stays ferocious. Some things never change.

Defense

Dallas Cowboys—Average Positional Draft Position 3. Points Scored: 20 (28).

William Faulkner once said, ”A story beings with a single idea or memory or mental picture. The writing of the story is simply a matter of working up to that moment, to explain why it happened or what it caused to follow.”

This is what we have been building up to. The Cowboys’ defense being drafted third on average is Caddie sitting in the trees. It’s a manifestation of “The Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl!” that we see every summer, whether the defense is awful or whether Quincy Carter is the quarterback. It doesn’t matter. That single star riddled horde will convince themselves of anything when it comes to their football team. Talking themselves into this defense being good during the preseason is some witchcraft that not even Rod Marinelli can pull off with an undrafted defensive lineman from West Texas A&M.

Kicker

Justin Tucker—Average Positional Draft Position: 1. Points Scored: 42 (18).

It’s time for some “Joe Flacco is really bad” stats. What a way to close this disappointing journey out.

Flacco is tied for 30th in yards per attempt with DeShone Kizer at 5.4. He’s thrown for 1,003 yards (27th) on 185 attempts (14th). He’s 31st in DYAR and 30th in DVOA. He’s put the Ravens in field goal range only 21 times, which puts Baltimore at 28th.

This isn’t because of Tucker. He’s still great. It’s because of Flacco. The Browns should trade for him and purchase a first round pick from the Ravens. They could give Kizer the veteran presence needed to keep his career in the exact spot it’s already in.