The Fantasy Year in Review

Ladies and gentlemen, some words from your fantasy champion… in one league anyway. In the one league that matters as far as this blog is concerned.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the year. I trumpeted the fantasy awesomeness of a few players. Shall we see how I did? Let’s start with one I got right.

I said that Matt Ryan would have indiscernable fantasy numbers from Tom Brady when all was said and done, and Tom Terrific is drafted in the first round in every league, and if not in the first, then early in the second. I got Matty Ice in the ninth. I haven’t done the math, so the exact points are going to be left up to those of you with more time than me. But Ryan after week 16 has one more touchdown pass and a few hundred more passing yards than Brady. Tom may still get the total points by an eyelash by virtue of the fact he has thrown only 8 picks to Matt’s 14, and Tom has rushed for one more touchdown. But given the disparity in draft rounds, wouldn’t you call this a win? Yeah. I thought so. Score one for me.

On to one of the calls I was less than spot on with… Carolina tight end Greg Olsen was one of my picks to have a breakout year. Well, for a guy you may have grabbed with your last pick before snagging a kicker and a defense, he didn’t do poorly. I’m not saying I expected 2011 Gronk numbers, but I hoped for better, especially with a less run-oriented Cam Newton pulling the strings. You could have done just as well with Brandon Myers, or surpassed him with Kyle Rudolph. All in all, not a disaster, but these days, tight ends produce. You should have one on your fantasy team that will. So here’s my tip for 2013: If Tony Gonzales doesn’t retire, grab him. (see previous Matty Ryan mancrushing) And if you’re in a spot where you need to get one late, look at Lance Kendricks. Assuming an improved Rams team will upgrade their most significant weakness, a leaky offensive line, they won’t have to keep Kendricks home to utilize his superior pass protection skills as much, freeing him and his 4.5 speed up to terrorize opposing secondaries. Because he can. Then again, Jeff Fisher is an idiot and will probably pressure Les Snead into drafting three more receivers and defensive linemen, and focus his free agency targets on back up punters and place kickers.

On to… well, what do you call this one? I said Danny Amendola would be a hit when it came to PPR leagues. I’d have been right if he managed to stay healthy. Unfortunately, injuries hit again and he wasn’t the juggernaut I thought he’d be. Still, he’s an excellent player and a guy who you need to grab if he’s available late next season, ESPECIALLY in a PPR league. Will he get hurt again? Probably. You only need to look at Lance Kendricks’ 80 yard touchdown reception in week 16 against Tampa, where he sprinted all 80 yards with Kendricks, blocking THREE potential tacklers in the process. He’s a football player… which you admire, but for a guy who is about 5 foot 10 and maybe 170 lbs, gives him a limited shelf life.

Lessons To Be Learned

The best teams don’t always win. In one league, I had the highest scoring team in the regular season, and it wasn’t close. However, my points against were also the highest in the league and I barely sneaked into the playoffs. No matter, in round one, I ran into monster games from Tom Brady, Knowshon Moreno, and a good one from Alfred Morris. Couple it with a disappearing act from Chris Johnson, Mikel Leshoure, and Ryan Matthews, the injury to Percy Harvin and God not being on my side, it was over.

Shaun could tell you the same thing. His team in the league I just dominated finished with the highest regular season point total, but missed the playoffs… if only due to his dubious set up of only the top four teams making it. Still, that number can be deceiving. He’s got Tom Brady, Matt Forte, Jamal Charles Wes Welker, and Torrey Smith. While Brady is a consistent bet for 30 plus points, the other guys are as perfect of an example of a hit or miss group as you can outline. Sure, any of them can hang 40 for you on any given night. But they can also give you bagels. This is not to say that Shaun drafted a bad team. Quite to the contrary, he was our defending champion, and did the best he could. We keep two (in his case, Forte and Brady… not in that order) and he filled spots with the wheel pick with the best players available to him. And, with a bit better luck, could have won the whole thing again. But it wasn’t to be. Thing is, you can get a couple of 200 point weekends with that crew, but also get a few 60 pointers. It doesn’t matter if you score 200 if your opponent only gets 70. If YOU only get 70, you probably won’t win. Those weeks where you get 200 will pad your end of season point total, and give you bragging rights at the office for a few days, but nothing is a lock at the end.

While I won the championship tonight, I could easily have lost. For my two WR slots and my flex, I played Brandon Marshall, Randall Cobb, and Vick Ballard. Meanwhile, Roddy White (27 ****ing points!!!) and Jeremy Maclin sat on my bench. Hindsight being perfect, I did not make the right calls. BUT!!! The key here is, having the guys on your team to where, even if you make the wrong call, your roster is deep enough to overcome. My two keepers were Adrian Peterson (only 8 points in the final) and Ray Rice (a robust 21 points). So despite the fact that my opponent, who did not have a strong enough roster to even rightfully be in the final, got TDs from Miles Austin, Santana Moss, Antonio Gates, and two from Shonn Greene, I was able to overcome. Seriously, how does a team like that even MAKE the playoffs? Oh yeah, I failed to mention he also has Drew Brees.

Lesson to be learned here is that fantasy sports, not unlike real sports, shows real value in a deep roster. If your roster is deep, you can make a mistake in who you sit or start, and still win.

More Fearless 2013 Forecasting:

Matt Ryan will again have stats rivaling the top fantasy quarterbacks… but you won’t get him in the ninth round again.

So will Colin Kaepernick… and you will be able to get him in the ninth round… rather than the first round pick you’d likely have to spend on RG3.

Danny Woodhead will be a factor, especially during bye weeks. Pick him up late. Don’t leave him on the wire and bank on having the waiver priority or being the only one astute enough to grab him. Ridley is fumble prone, Vereen isn’t much good, and Brady LOVES his wood. And head. And Woodhead.

Alex Smith will be starting somewhere and do a good job. Grab him as a second qb in the 14th round if you didn’t get an elite starter in the first few.

If you’re in a keeper league, still hang on to Larry Fitzgerald and Dwayne Bowe. Both could be traded to teams that actually have quarterbacks… and in Fitz’s case, it would really be a shame if he didn’t.

Number one fantasy receiver next season? AJ Green.

Yes, I have been drinking… and yes, I know who Calvin Johnson is.

Wanna know who five receivers are you’ll be able to grab late on in next year’s drafts that will be big contributors? Say please… Ok fine. Here you go. Cecil Shorts, Chris Givens, Pierre Garcon, Eric Decker, and Alshon Jeffery.

Guys to avoid are Steve Smith (duh), Brandon Lloyd, Anquan Boldin, Miles Austin, and Greg Jennings.

Is there more? Sure… but I can’t tell you everything. My competitors MAY read this and I DO want to defend my title…

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