None of those players finished in the top 12 at their position,
so a reader named Mr. Squeeze gave me credit for a 1.000 batting
average (which is a bit over-generous, since I turned out in at
least one case to be right for the wrong reasons). Still, it is
nice to see one's predictions come true—and even nicer when
other people notice.
For that reason, I want to shine a spotlight on the predictions
of a reader named Jim, who singled out four rebound candidates
in that same column. He picked 1 QB (Andrew Luck), 1 RB (Carlos Hyde), 1 WR (Julian Edelman), and 1 TE (Jimmy Graham) that he
considered likely to outperform expectations in 2016. This is
how he evaluated his own predictions at the end of the season:
[My predictions] were works of literary brilliance not seen since
the likes of Ralphie's theme in a Christmas story.
To an extent, I think I hit on all of them. But let's just see
how rose-colored my glasses are.
Luck has been back to the standard we expected of him before last
year. He won't get to 40 TDs in 2016, but he should go past 30
[despite] missing 1 game. I'd rather dress up in a pink bunny
outfit than have to face Luck during the playoffs. Hyde is the
Official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 Shot Range Model air rifle
of the Niners, the only thing you really want. His midseason swoon
resembles Edelman's, but both had solid enough seasons and look
to be prime time fantasy playoff studs. Jimmy Graham is back to
being most of what Jimmy Graham was and bullying defenses like
Scut Farkus. All of them were at bargain basement prices or later
round picks that have continued reason for fantasy relevance right
up thru the playoffs.
You can send a major award.
Jim, your major award takes the form of all the applause you're
getting from readers right now (whether you can hear it or not).
You were dead on concerning Luck and Graham, and the Hyde pick
was quite good (except for the midseason lull that you mention).
It's a bit harder to sell me on the Edelman pick since not all
leagues require a WR3—but I'll grant that in a lot of league
formats you could reasonably claim to have gone four-for-four.
In any case, I appreciate the time and thought you put into your
picks—as I know many readers of this column appreciate the
time and thought that their fellow readers put into keeping the
conversation of Q&A going.
Last Week's Question: What will you
do differently in 2017?
In Week 16, I asked
readers what they expected to change about their approach to fantasy
football in 2017. Although the changes could have concerned anything
from handcuff strategy to league structure, the responses focused
overwhelmingly on disenchantment with the zero-RB strategy in
drafts. As Thomsoad wrote:
After applying the no RB strategy for 8 years now this is the
first time ever I failed to make the playoffs in both money leagues.
The culprit besides bad luck (B Marshall 2nd round, A Jeffery
3rd round; R Cobb 4th round) was a huge uptick in other people
drafting WR's in the top 2 rounds. I'm personally hoping other
people will do something different next year so I can get back
Note that even though Thomsoad is disappointed with the results
the zero-RB approach delivered this year, he rightly points out
that the problem may have been related to the specific receivers
he took rather than zero-RB as a strategy. If, as he hopes, the
other owners in his league go less WR-heavy in the first two rounds
next season, he'll presumably have better options to target at
the beginning of his draft.
Two readers replied to Thomsoad to point out that they enjoyed
success in their leagues because they avoided the zero-RB approach.
One (Chuck) attributes his involvement in two championship games
(out of three fantasy leagues) to his balanced approach. Another
(aenima9481) found success despite drafting some of the same dud
wide-outs as Thomsoad, but he enjoyed that success because spending
his first pick on David Johnson allowed him to gain ground at
RB that he lost at WR.
This discussion among readers got me thinking about the draft
approach I took in 2016 and how I'm likely to modify it for 2017.
In a nutshell, I think I'll probably be a little more focused
on RBs (and less focused on WRs) next year.
I'm not saying I'll rule out a zero-RB approach in any draft if
that's the path that makes sense under the circumstances. But
if the 2016 FFToday staff league taught me anything, it's that
the easiest trap we can fall into when it comes to the zero-RB
approach is to spend so much time evaluating receivers relative
to each other that we forget to evaluate them relative to RBs.
I had a horrible year in the Staff
League in part because my primary RBs (Adrian
Martin, and Jeremy
Langford) were injured early. In a league that requires owners
to start two RBs (and permits a third), it's vital to build a stable
of RBs. But since I felt a lot more confidence in the tiers I had
created for WRs than the tiers I set up for RBs, I went ridiculously
heavy on WRs in the draft. Because my first pick in the Staff League
was Adrian Peterson, I can't realistically blame my poor performance
on the zero-RB approach. But at the same time, I did use the zero-RB
approach in other leagues, and my reliance on that approach led
me to underemphasize the RB position in the Staff League.
Over and over in the draft, I felt confident that receiver X was
clearly a cut above receivers Y & Z, whereas running back
A was not so clearly a cut above running backs B &C—if
only because I hadn't put as much thought into RBs.
The result was that I pulled the trigger on too many WRs and not
enough RBs—and never had a chance to recover from the injuries
my team sustained at the RB position. I might have been able to
get away with this in leagues that permit a run-and-shoot lineup,
but it was a reckless approach to take in a league that requires
owners to start two RBs at a minimum.
Any readers who stumble upon this column in the coming months
are welcome to email me
or post comments about the lessons they learned this season. I
hope to review thoughts in this vein in the summer of 2017.
For now, please let me thank the community of readers at FFToday
for another great season of fantasy football discussion. It's
a blast to write for and interact with you folks.
#3: Detroit over Green Bay: (12-4, JAX, OAK,
DAL, MIN, PIT, NE, CIN, TN, GB, AZ, DET, NYG, SEA, HOU, IND, BUF,
This is NOT a TYPO. Detroit will WIN this game straight up. The
Lions are underdogs by a field goal or more in the last game of
the regular season. But since the winner of the game will host a
wild card playoff game the following week, the Lions-Packers matchup
can also be seen as the first game of the postseason. Vegas says
to take Aaron Rodgers and company. But Matt Stafford has waited
his whole NFL career to make the postseason, and after losing the
last two games to NFC East Playoffs teams (the NY Giants and Dallas
Cowboys) in consecutive weeks, it just seems appropriate for the
Lions to shed their hard-earned nickname (the “Lie Downs”).
Yes, all the stats lean towards Green Bay. But this is the Sunday
that Lions fans have been awaiting for years. And nothing would
be sweeter than to beat their division rivals to close out the season.
#2: Tampa Bay over Carolina: (14-2, HOU,
AZ, CAR, WAS, GB, TN, NE, MN, SEA, NYG, PIT, BUF, DEN, ATL, ATL,
Yikes, you never want to be sitting in the last week of your survival
league looking over your choices of games and saying, “I have
to take Tampa.” After all, the Buccaneers are the biggest
enigma in the NFL this side of the New York Giants. It doesn't help
that Doug Martin was a healthy scratch from last week’s game.
Unfortunately for Martin, he also found out that he has a four-game
suspension for a banned substance. So look for an aerial assault
from Jameis Winston (featuring Mike Evans and Cameron Brate, of
course). While Carolina was the elite of the NFC last year, the
"S" on Cam Newton's chest is more likely to stand for
Sulkyman than Superman these days, and his supporting cast hasn’t
stepped it up after their Super Bowl hangover. But games like this
aren't about individual player performances; they're about team
morale, and you should expect the team that “needs it more”
to eke out a victory.
#1: Kansas City over San Diego: (14-2*, SEA,
CAR, MIA, CIN, NE, PIT, GB, DEN, DAL, BAL, NYG, NO, SD, DET, MIN*,
Last week, with my #3 pick, I followed the strategy that I have
used most of this year by betting against the Browns. Phillip Rivers
and Antonio Gates couldn’t make history against Cleveland
in the touchdown arena, but the Chargers did manage to become the
2016 team that finally allowed the Browns to win their first game
of the season. So can the team that lost to the Browns in Week 16
defeat the Chargers in Week 17? I don't think so. The Chiefs do
have something at stake in this game: If they can win against San
Diego at home and if Oakland loses at Denver without Derek Carr,
the Chiefs win the AFC West. So even though this is a divisional
matchup, it's the game I feel the most confident about this week.
I recommend it as your SAFEST bet in Week 17, which always proves
to be a wildly unpredictable slate of games.
Mike Davis has been writing about
fantasy football since 1999--and playing video games even longer
than that. His latest novel (concerning a gamer who gets trapped
inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms) can
be found here.