Week 15 Rankings
As a public educator, one of the buzz words we continually here is that we should always strive to be “life-long learners”. While buzz words typically fall into the cliché abyss, as with most other cliché’s, this one rings true in every walk of life. By committing to live a life filled with learning, you combine an understanding that you don’t know it all, with a willingness to continue improving. There’s a reason most successful people are very competitive, and never satisfied. Because the second they do become satisfied in their accomplishments is the second they’ll lose that edge that led to all of those accomplishments in the first place.
On a daily basis, I see way too many people in my line of work who become either satisfied in what they do, or even worse, just hit a point where they’re merely content at getting a paycheck. We all have passions. While many of our life passions differ greatly, we all share the common bond of having a passion for football. My life passion is music, and specifically, it’s a passion in educating and inspiring students to reach their full potential, and have fun along the way. Each year, it’s my responsibility to set goals, and find new ways to convey my passion so that my teaching never becomes stale. As with everyone, as long as you love what you do, and continue to have a certain level of self-respect, no matter your field, you’ll continue to find ways to improve and inspire.
With that in mind, this week seems to be as good a time as any to do a little self-analysis, and look back at the fantasy season, figure out where I went wrong, and how I can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
5 Things I’ve learned
1. Never take a QB in round 1
In 2002, with the 2nd overall selection of my draft, I took Kurt Warner. Coming off of 3 years of dominance, it seemed like a great, safe play. Warner rewarded me that season with 6 games started, an average of 202 yards passing per game, 3 TDs, and 11 INTs before missing the rest of the year with a thumb injury. That year is the last time prior to this one I took a QB that early. But with Aaron Rodgers on the board at #6 overall, he seemed like the safest pick, so I broke my rule. Never again. It’s not that Rodgers has been bad, he hasn’t, but the fact is, there are currently a boatload of quality passing offenses in the NFL. If Rodgers had replicated last year’s season, sure he’d have been worth the selection, but to expect a repeat of a season that included 300+ yards per game, 1 TD for every 11 throws (a modern mark topped only by Peyton Manning in 2004), and a 9.2 YPA was foolish. Drafting a QB that early always comes at the expense of another position, so minus total dominance, it’s never worth it to take one. Taking an RB or a WR still allows for ultimate flexibility as the draft plays out, but if you take a QB, since many leagues only require you to start one, later on, you’ll be stuck hoping a quality RB or WR to fall as opposed to having the ability to simply take the best player available.
2. Never take any TE over a legit #1 WR. Ever.
For the first time ever, two TEs were being considered as early as the end of round 1 in drafts. The justification was that not only were Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham working with elite QBs, but they were also the number 1 options for their team. But no matter how impressive Gronk and Graham were last year, we had to know in some ways, either the league would catch up, or their style of play would lead to an injury. Alas, Graham has been relatively disappointing, averaging more than 20 yards less per game than last season, with much more inconsistent weekly production, and Gronk has been bitten by the injury bug. Many were caught chasing outlier seasons from a position that’s never seen that type of production in the hopes that this was the sign of the “new” wave of offense in the NFL. Graham and Gronk are still elite talents, but taking either before a top RB or a top WR, like AJ Green, Victor Cruz, or Julio Jones, which many people did, has proven to be a major mistake.
3. Owning a team’s #1 receiver who happens to be catching balls from an elite QB is a plus
This seems obvious, but when looking at your pass catchers, it’s always best to try and focus on the top passing offenses, and top QBs whenever possible. In round 4 of my home league draft, I had yet to take a WR, which was mistake #1. I had already filled out both of my RB positions, my QB position (see #1 above), chose Jimmy Graham (round 14 penalty) as my keeper over A.J. Green (round 11 penalty- see #2 above). Once my pick finally rolled around, WRs had gone off the board much more quickly than I had hoped. The best available options were Steve Smith and Demaryius Thomas. While Smith is clearly the #1 in Carolina, and had a very productive year last year, even with the uncertainty around Peyton Manning, it was clear that Denver would be focusing more on the pass this year than Carolina. Thomas was one of my biggest pre-season misses, which I realized almost immediately, but not immediately enough. I missed out on Victor Cruz and AJ Green in round 2 in favor of Matt Forte, and then followed that up by taking Steve Smith over Demaryius Thomas in round 4. Even grabbing Adrian Peterson in round 3 couldn’t save me from the WR mess that ensued on my roster, and is the biggest reason I missed the playoffs by a whisker.
4. Not having the Sunday Ticket (or Red Zone) sucks
I suppose this should be the most obvious of all. I’ve had the Sunday Ticket from the time I graduated into my adult life. There is nothing better for the fantasy player than the instant gratification of being able to see your own players perform. But the Sunday Ticket also helps in the evaluation of players, as you find yourself focusing on multiple games. While I still have Directv, I decided to take a year away from the Ticket, also eliminating me from their available Red Zone channel. I now find myself relying more on reports than ever before, and I’m someone who’s much more comfortable evaluating what I’ve seen as opposed to what I’ve heard/read. I won’t be making that mistake twice.
5. Always listen to my own advice
This is a simple reminder to myself to follow what I’ve written above, and never forget it again. And it’s a reminder for you to do the same thing. There are many experts around the interwebs, as well as one non-expert on this site who likes to make his weekly observations known. But in the end, it’s your team, and you’re the one who’s left to live with the decisions you’ve made. So if you see advice from me, or anyone else telling you to do something different than what you think you should do, listen to yourself. This game is an inexact exercise, and will often leave you frustrated if you allow it to. So have fun, take in the analysis, and use that information to make the decisions you’re most comfortable with, even if it means ignoring everything everyone else is telling you.
FP Fantasy Update
In the FP Commish Court League, I have a matchup in the semis with Docta, while Evan and Rich are duking it out in the other semi. In the Football Pros yahoo league, iwatt eliminated me last week, and will be facing vance this week, while mikesteelnation1 will be taking on Biggie’s House.
To those still alive in their fantasy playoffs, good luck. My rankings are available via the link at the top of the page. It’s shaping up to be a great weekend of football. Just remember, win or lose, even a bad day of football is much better than the alternative. That’s a fact we’ll all be reminded of once the middle of February rolls around.