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I competed in nine leagues this year, 11 if you include the Footballguys subscriber contest (I was eliminated two weeks ago) and the best-ball IDP mock where I'm third out of 14 teams in total points behind Aaron Rudnicki and Sigmund Bloom. Three of these nine leagues are re-draft formats and one is a keeper league with a serpentine rookie draft and a multi-year contract, fast-paced auction league from Reality Sports Online.
This week, I'm reviewing my teams in these four leagues. Next week, I'm profling my dynasty squads. I believe in looking back when the season is fresh in my mind and taking notes on how effective my decisions were for each team. My hope is that conducting this review in this column will give you ideas on how to find worthwhile information that will help you in the future.
10-Team Re-Draft PPR with 1.5 PPR for TE
This is the FESL ALPHA League, or the layperson, the Footballguys A-Tier Staff League. Jason Wood runs these leagues and there is a hierarchy for each of the three leagues. ALPHA (as you should have guessed by its name) is the top-dog league that all owners hope to reach through strong performances in each of the three leagues. Here are the league particulars:
- League: FESL ALPHA
- Type: Re-draft
- Teams: 10
- Draft: Serpentine Order
- Lineup Options: 11 starters - 1 QB/2-4RBs/3-5WRs/1-3TE/1PK/1DEF
- Scoring: PPR + 1.5 PPR for TE; Penalties for interceptions (-2); Bonuses for length of TDs over 30 yards; 5 points for passing TDs; yardage bonuses over 100 rushing/receiving and 300 passing; team defenses earn points for net yards allowed, points allowed, sacks, turnovers, and special team touchdowns. Details here.
- Win-Loss Record: 8-5 (Current division leader on a tiebreaker with Sigmund Bloom based on total points. Projected No.1 seed with a win next week. However, if I lose I could be eliminated from playoff contention - it's that competitive.)
- Points Rank: 6th (about 50 points separation between 3rd and 6th until Week 13)
At this point, FESL is probably the closest thing to a "local league" that I have. It's also one of the more difficult leagues where I compete for obvious reasons. If you look at the division I'm barely winning it. Even the division bottom feeder is only one game under .500. He was 2 games out of first entering the final week of the regular season.
|The scoring system and 10-team format begs for an elite passer. So when Bloom took Brees I knew it was my cue to take the next-best QB. Many would have bet on Rodgers, but a healthy Manning with a team that lacked a sure-fire starter at running back to begin the season compared the emphasis the Packers were placing on the running game tipped the scales for me. The best pick of my draft.
|Wilson seems like an odd choice when you have Peyton Manning. However, my opponents are RB-hoarders. I knew (if I was lucky) I'd hit on multiple positions and lack quality options at RB. When I saw Wilson still around in the 10th round, I picked the QB I projected as a top-five fantasy passer. I figured I'd trade one of Manning or Wilson for additional parts of value. However, once Manning hurt his ankle I decided to hang onto Wilson as great depth and to keep two top-five players off the market.
|FA-(replaced David Wilson 3.03)
|David Wilson's season was an abysmal failure and I've been playing the waiver wire game for a runner ever since. I've had Donald Brown before he became a viable starter, Mike James before he got hurt, and even the likes of Chris Ogbonnaya. Bolden is the latest of my desperate and unfortunate attempts to fortify this position. But considering I can start 5 WRs and 3 TEs (1.5 PPR), I'm 8-5, and in first place with a mediocre start-sit percentage, RB can't be all that important, can it?
|High-end backup. I sat on Christine Michael for a while, too.
|Bush isn't an exciting backup, but Chicago's offensive line has played well enough since summer that I wanted Forte's understudy because he's proven, versatile, and likely to be the feature back if called upon.
|Trade w/Jason Wood (Jared Cook)
|This has been a fairly even deal. I might argue that I've gotten the better end of it thus far. It wasn't the deal I wanted to make (I was trying to get Le'Veon Bell, but talks never got underway despite my attempts to initiate), but Mathews gives me a two-RB2 starting backfield. Whether it's a good RB1 and a weak RB2 or no RB1 and two RB2s, I don't care if I'm strong elsewhere.
|FA-(replaced Christine Michael 15.03)
|I picked him up two weeks ago. In a league where everyone is trying to get an edge in such a competitive league, there's enough churn on the waiver wire to fall into players that can help you. Mendenhall isn't bad depth in this crazy year for RBs.
|FA-(replaced Lance Dunbar 21.03)
|Last month's long shot free agent hopeful with at least some playing time on a weekly basis.
|I lucked out at Arian Foster's expense. Too bad I benched him last week when I almost wrote an entire column about Tate playing well enough that you shouldn't worry about Dennis Johnson.
|Manning throws to the open man rather than favoring a specific receiver. Taking Decker was a no-brainer here.
|Unlike Manning, Cutler had a history of squeezing the ball through the eye of a needle at 50 yards while getting trampled by elephants if it meant targeting his favorite receiver. At least before working with Marc Trestman.
|For years I have written about the merits of owning multiple starters in a receiving corps when paired with a top quarterback in a high-flying offense. The historic precedent of 1 elite QB to 3-4 WR1/TE1 in the same offense is there to see.
|FA-(replaced Anthony Fasano 10.02)
|Edelman has proven a useful addition when I've actually started him, which is more often than it sounds.
|After some early sea sickness that came from the ups and downs of starting Hopkins, I docked this ship on my bench. Still, I haven't been able to cut him loose.
|FA-(replaced Andre Roberts 18.08)
|Streater has more big-play ability than Roberts, a player I whiffed on this year. More about this in the next league profile.
|FA-(replaced Doug Martin-1.03)
|Another sign of the apocalypse is near (Waldman having good luck) came when I added Jones two hours before kickoff and started him against the Jets after waiting too long on Doug Martin's fate. Oh, how I can't believe I didn't take Jamaal Charles or Marshawn Lynch. It also reinforces how I really should have taken Calvin Johnson. Imagine Johnson, Marshall, and the Broncos receivers with Manning? It would be my version of the 1980s Denver Nuggets in fantasy. Fantastic.
|FA-(replaced Shonn Greene 17.03)
|When Gonzalez slumped and Clay disappeared for a stretch, Carlson has been useful.
|FA-(replaced Kenny Stills 22.08)
|Clay's additional helped me unload Jared Cook for Ryan Mathews. Stills has been an up-and-down rookie in the box score and not useful on my WR-rich squad.
|He looked like a value to begin the year, but the Falcons' injuries and punt coverage strategy in the red zone by opposing defenses changed matters. White's return may turn the tide. You'll see that the Gonzalez-Cook duo in 1.5 PPR formats was something I favored this year as a combo of upside and consistency (swing for the fences and hedge).
|FA-(replaced Randy Bulluck 20.08)
|Mike Herman is usually great with picking kickers. I trusted him with Justin Tucker last year. This year, Bulluck was a miss. Bailey has been decent and easy to get.
|I didn't feel like renting a defense in this league. I figured I'd need to maximize the available spots for speculative plays at other positions.
As a side note, I played overall point-leader John Norton this weekend and made the two worst start-sit calls I can remember, benching Ben Tate and Julian Edelman an hour before kickoff after having them in my lineup all week. Considering my team is in the middle of the pack as a point scorer, I watched the Patriots-Texans game with a sour taste in my mouth.
Then something happens that rarely does for me: I got lucky in a huge way. If something goes awry in the most unexpected way, I've come to expect that I'll be on the receiving end of that fantasy karma. It has reinforced the lesson that I need to do an excellent job with start/sit decisions because I can't count on being lucky.
This team has been the exception. My start-sit track record has been low (82%) by my standard (usually high 80s-low 90s) with this team, but when Manning and Decker went off Sunday afternoon, it saved my team's hopes of making the playoffs in the most hotly-contested league I'm in this year.
Lesson Learned/Affirmed I: Elite fantasy quarterback production often coincides with top-15 production from at least 2-3 players at wide receiver, running back (in the passing game), and/or tight end. The Manning-Welker-Thomas-Decker-Thomas combo isn't unique. There's Brees-Graham-Sproles-Colston; Brady-Moss-Welker; Brady-Welker-Gronkowski; Manning-Harrison-Wayne-Clark-James; Rodgers-Jennings-Nelson-Finley; Favre-Harvin-Rice-Peterson; and dozens of other examples.
If you take a quarterback early in the draft then you're saying that you believe he has a high likelihood of producing among the top-three at his position. If you feel that strong about the player, it would be wise to bet on his skill players. If you don't feel good about taking that bet then you should reconsider how good you actually feel about that quarterback in the first place. Keep this in mind next year.
Lesson Learned/Affirmed II: In leagues with a high degree of lineup flexibility, running back isn't necessarily the best choice in the early rounds. That said, I'd be foolish to think that hitting the dead-center bull's eye on Manning wasn't the reason my team is in this position without my top two running backs from the draft.
In hindsight, I probably made a mistake keeping Manning and Wilson when I could have traded one for a better back. I at least should have tried. In a league with such little separation, I failed to exploit a huge advantage at my QB position. Lesson learned for next year.
14-Team Re-Draft IDP With IOP-Style Scoring (Position-Balanced Scoring)
The IOP League is probably my favorite scoring format in fantasy football. It's also a difficult league that includes prominent fantasy writers from around the Internet. Robert Miller and Jene Bramel developed this scoring format where the intent is to give equal value the top players at each position. In other words, J.J. Watt was the most dominant player in this league last year by a large margin and Von Miller and Daryl Washington were on par - and slightly better - with Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. If you want to get better at watching and appreciating the entire NFL game, change your league to this scoring system and within five years you'll be a far different football fan.
- League: IOP
- Type: Re-draft, IDP, and Position-Balanced Scoring
- Teams: 14
- Draft: Serpentine
- Lineup Options: 17 starters - 1 QB/1-2 RBs/2-3 WRs/1-2 TEs/1-2 DTs/2 DEs/3-4 LBs/2-3 CBs/2-3 Ss
- Scoring: Excellent system, but easier to link to than explain in this small space.
- Win-Loss Record: 11-4 (Division Winner and No.2 seed)
- Points Rank: 2nd
I lost a nine-point heart-breaker to PFF's Mike Clay, who is the No.1 seed with that Week 11 victory. I hope we do well enough in the playoffs for a rematch. If there's a that I nailed this year, this one would be my nomination - 20 of my 33 picks helped my team with full-time starter production. If I didn't give up so soon on T.J. Ward, it would have been 21 and I'd probably be the No.1 seed.
|I was caught without a good quarterback in this league last year. With these scoring rules, it's easier to find quality defenders on the waiver wire than to acquire a difference maker at quarterback. Brees was worth the premium as the second quarterback off the board when I entered this draft with the intention of going WR-heavy early.
|FA-(replaced Vincent Brown 20.02)
|As you can see, I'm consistent about late-round players I value. Brown's season failed me across the board so I opted for depth behind Eddie Lacy on a team that was running the ball well before Aaron Rodgers and his offensive linemen succumbed to injury.
|FA-(replaced Michael Bennett 17.11)
|My team didn't need a running back, but I make it a practice to hoard players when I can. I haven't started Jennings once (although the results indicate that I should have a few times), but the luxury of having him on my bench is comforting for my playoff run and kept him from landing in the hands of another owner in need.
|I've been fortunate to alternate between Lacy and Sproles as my starting RB most weeks and with success. Both players underscore my belief that running backs can be found later in drafts and in leagues where owners can build WR/TE-heavy lineups, the priority should be placed elsewhere in the early rounds.
|My late-round, high-upside pick du jour this summer.
|Sproles is the type of player many fantasy owners hesitate to draft near his value, but are thankful when they pull the trigger. Add me to the list. I'm glad my approach eliminated that kind of hesitation. I needed a back and Sproles' appeal never came into question.
|FA-(replaced Andre Roberts 24.02)
|I never started Starks, but he has played like the back I expected to see after his first stretch run with Green Bay years ago. I love my depth at running back. Of course, it's fitting that I only have to start one runner.
|It has been a long wait, but hanging onto Vereen helped me last month when Lacy lost Rodgers and Sproles was banged up. So yes, my depth has mattered.
|My long-shot patience play hasn't yielded dividends and probably won't this year, but it was a fun idea that didn't hurt me.
|This is why I love picking at or near the turn in a serpentine draft. Even in this league where Aldon Smith, Geno Atkins, and Rob Gronkowski went before Johnson, I got a deal. Johnson and Brees, my first two picks, are the 7th and 8th overall scorers in the league this year.
|When I saw A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, and Brandon Marshall still on the board midway through the third round I hoped I'd land two of them at the 3/4 turn. Lucky for me, just enough owners valued quality defensive ends. In IOP leagues I have found there are very few defensive ends who are as consistent as study receivers despite adjusted point values to make their great days equal in value.
|Talk about a dream lineup of receivers to pair with Drew Brees! I hoped if built a great offense, I could piece together my defense, especially with value picks in the secondary where I tend to do a decent job as an IDP player when looking back at my history of play. Fortunately it worked out.
|FA-(replaced Jermaichael Finley 10.02)
|Just when Finley was turning a corner. Fauria has been little more than an inconsistent, bye-week player. I waited too long on him earning more chances at the expense of adding quality free agent tight ends. With Gates ailing, I hope it doesn't bite me.
|Terrific value. I bought into the beat writer coverage that reported Gates was in great shape. I hope his fantasy value doesn't get hamstrung further by Ladarius Green's play, but I know it's wishful thinking.
|Dontari Poe was an IDP rock star to begin the season, but Casey has been almost twice as good all year. Great value considering how early Geno Atkins, Ndamukong Suh, and Gerald McCoy went.
|FA-(replaced T.J. Ward 19.11)
|I wish I stayed patient with Ward, who is a top-five safety and would have given my team a decided edge every week. While I could think of several players I could have dropped to get Poe and keep Ward, I can't say the reasons would have been compelling enough at the time to make different choices.
|FA-(replaced Darrelle Revis 30.02)
|Heyward is a good testament to looking at player performance reports within increments of weeks and not just the entire season. His performance has been helpful to my starting lineup in recent weeks.
|FA-(replaced Corey Wootton 16.02)
|I added Jackson on the tail end of his strong performances. Beyond depth, I missed the boat.
|I'm beginning to equate defensive ends in IDP leagues to running backs. Getting a great defensive end can make your team, but the consistency factor week-to-week and year-to-year is difficult to attain. My team's performance reveals that having a weakness at DE2 or two DE2s instead of a DE1 is still a workable solution towards building a strong IDP team.
|FA-(replaced Carson Palmer 26.11)
|I should have kept Palmer because I'm a Drew Brees injury away from watching my chances at a championship implode. However, I wanted to take the chance at shoring up depth and Pitoitua has helped me a lot.
|I've been a Robison fan since he was at Texas and he's an underrated player in this format because of his work against the run.
|If I draw parallels between defensive ends and running backs in IDP leagues then I do the same with linebackers and wide receivers due to number of players an owner can start and the consistency factor due to tackle opportunities and targets. Fletcher is like Derrick Mason as the end of Mason's career - a veteran capable of delivering quality production to support your roster's studs.
|One of my favorite linebackers in football. It was a tough call to take him over Navorro Bowman, but I hoped he'd have less competition for tackles than the 49ers LB paired with Patrick Willis. Bowman is No.7 overall. While I was wrong, it was to the tune of less than a point per game so far. Bowman is A.J. Green to Johnson's Dez Bryant this year. I can live with it.
|Tulloch is the Brian Hartline of linebackers. He's not flashy, but he's consistently good enough to start and available at good value every year.
|Washington was my Josh Gordon-like gamble and since Week 5 he is the No.16-scoring LB in this league. I'm hoping Washington can deliver me some of those Gordon-like games down the stretch like the 49-point debut he gave me in Week 5.
|I'm still mad about this pick. I was ready to take Karlos Dansby at the end of the 21st round, a player I have always liked and target every year for the value that he typically offers. I figured he'd fill in well for Washington the first five weeks and still provide solid LB2-LB3 play when Washington returned to the field. Dansby has been the top LB in the league and looks great after reuniting with the Cardinals. Wheeler has been what I hoped from Dansby, but missing on a fave who is having a great year is a disappointment. A calculated swing for the fences that turned into a double.
|FA-(Replaced Jarvis Jones 29.11)
|One smart, scrappy UGA player replacing another. Boykin is great depth with the value of a CB2.
|FA-(Replaced Mohamed Sanu 27.11)
|Newman's production has declined this month. The first six weeks of the season, he was a top-10 CB and I used him as such.
|FA-(Replaced Jason McCourty 12.02)
|I added Porter halfway through the season once I wasn't afraid to drop IDP writer-favorite Jason McCourty.
|I drafted Jason McCourty because of his track record for consistency, but it became apparently after the first two weeks that Verner was the better option. I've been a fan of Verner since I watched him covering Rob Gronkowski on red zone plays at UCLA. My cornerback choices have buoyed my "ok" DE choices.
|FA-(Replaced Jeremy Kerley 34.02)
|I messed up my safety depth chart when I dropped T.J. Ward. I added Meriweather last week. He's delivered top-20 production at the position since Week 9. Here's hoping he doesn't get suspended again.
|Landry started strong, got hurt, and returned with passable production.
|Polumalu is like that boom-bust tight end who drives you nutty. Tim Wright comes to mind this season. I drafted Polamalu, started him, dropped him, re-acquired him, and fortunately didn't start him last weekend when he disappointed.
|FA-(Replaced Mathias Kiwanuka 31.11)
|Thomas is one of my favorite defenders in football and I'm happy to see him returning to form after multiple knee surgeries. I added him a couple of weeks ago now that he's posting top-15 production at his position since Week 6.
Lesson Learned/Affirmed: I have to loo int this more, but I'm arriving at the conclusion that there's IDP/Standard League parallels among defensive ends and running backs, linebackers and wide receivers, and tight ends and safeties. It depends on the lineup and scoring systems, but drawing these associations has helped me become more resistant to drafting for need in spots where I should be drafting for talent.
This league has also affirmed that even in leagues with excellent IDP owners, I'd rather wait until the middle rounds or draft for late value at IDP than spend a lot money early. Even in a balanced-scoring league, offensive skill players are more predictable at this point. It may not always be that way, but it is now.
14-Team Keeper League with Serpentine rookie Draft and Fast-paced, multi-year contract free Agent auction
This is the Reality Sports Online League I started and write about monthly in the Rookie Scouting Portfolio blog. It's a great mix of fantasy owners that includes Hall of Famer Bob Harris. Reality Sports Online's auction platform and contract concept was invented by two former front office employees for the Philadelphia Eagles. One was a team "capologist" and the other was a lawyer. They have taken some sophisticated ideas and made the execution simple.
If RSO could provide an option where the free agent auction can take place over the course of weeks instead of one sitting, I would create an IDP league with IOP scoring and run it at this site. It would be a fantasy league. This one I'm showing you below ain't bad. In fact this league, FESL ALPHA, and IOP almost make up for the fact that I no longer have a local league.
- League: Reality Sports Online (Link to league unavailable)
- Type: Keeper League With a Salary Cap, and Fast-Paced Free Agent Auction With Multi-Year Contract Options
- Teams: 14
- Draft: Rookie Serpentine Draft, Fast-Paced Auction for Veterans and Undrafted Rookie Free Agents
- Lineup Options: 10 starters - 1 QB/2 RBs/3-4 WRs/1-2 TEs/1 PK/1 DEF
- Scoring: PPR; Bonuses for rushing, passing, and receiving yards; penalties for turnovers; reception bonuses (over 10 in a game); and team defense earns points for points allowed, turnovers, sacks, special teams touchdowns, defensive scores, and blocked kicks.
- Win-Loss Record: 7-6 (Final seed for playoffs, just edging PFF's Bryan Fontaine on a tiebreaker)
- Points Rank: 1st
This is the most frustrating league I've competed in this year because of the age-old issue where I score a ton of points every week, but I have had some unfortunate luck with the schedule.
|1 yr/$4 million
|I blinked on a bidding war for Russell Wilson so I opted for Cutler, who has been a fine value when healthy.
|1 yr/$3 million
|Palmer has been good in recent weeks and I'm hoping to ride his production through a tough playoff gauntlet.
|A hedge when Palmer wasn't performing well and I was wheeling and dealing for . . .
|Trade w/Jeff Teffertiller 1yr/$500K (for Julius Thomas 1yr/$1 million)
|Yes, I gave up one of the top TEs for Pryor. With Vernon Davis, I had no plans to franchise Thomas for an exorbitant amount and I got a pick in the deal, too. I won't franchise Pryor, either. However, the Raiders' QB did help me for a few weeks.
|3 yrs/1.75 million (5.08 rookie pick)
|I like Renfree's skills and I believe he could earn a gig via free agency. I probably won't benefit from it, but at least I can take a shot.
|2 yrs/$51 million
|Foster was good when healthy and I hope my plan to have him start next year with his talented backup stating elsewhere pays off.
|3 yrs/$7.5 million
|A Foster-Tate backfield in 2014 matched with my receivers should keep me a contender once again. Tate proved his mettle this year with those ribs.
|1 yr/$16.5 million
|I'm counting on Roddy White's resurgence in Buffalo as a sign of things to come down the stretch. If so, Jackson is a nice RB2 for my playoff run.
|1 yr/$2.5 million
|Free agent flier.
|Free agent flier on IR.
|Free agent flier.
|Free agent flier.
|2 yrs/$69.5 million
|Huge contract, but worth every penny. If he continues to play this well in 2014, I'll consider franchising him in 2015 and paying top dollar for a third year.
|3 yrs/$10.5 million
|Great bargain even if Chip Kelly didn't transform Jackson into the Black Mamba of the NFL. I'm getting WR1 production at a WR3 price.
|3 yrs/$9 million (1.08 rookie pick)
|I love when I get to pick players I value in the RSP. It's harder for me to earn a shot at them these days. Johnson, Jackson, and Allen form a young and explosive receiving corps in good offensive systems.
|4 yrs/$18.5 million
|If Shorts gets a quarterback in Jacksonville commensurate with his ability, I've hit the jackpot. WR26 this year isn't bad considering his environment. Glad I didn't give up shorts in a deal for Andre Ellington.
|1 yr/$1 million
|Jones has been helpful as a spot player. Yes, I started him against the Jets. It was a great weekend of fantasy football for me.
|3 yrs/$3.2 million (2.07 rookie pick)
|Patience play? Let's hope. As I often say, wide receivers are the most liquid currency in fantasy football. If he improves, I have liquidity for deals.
|3 yrs/$2.1 million (3.08 rookie pick)
|See above - Brandon Marshall isn't getting younger.
|1 yr/$500K (FA)
|He's the best rookie receiver New England has and I only wish I drafted him. Still, I think he'll be around late next year while everyone goes for Aaron Dobson. Thompkins has been a serviceable and helpful flex this year.
|1 yr/$500K (FA)
|Another timely flex-play for me early this year.
|1 yr/$500K (FA)
|Depth that didn't pan out.
|1 yr/$344K (FA)
|A recent addition as a flex.
|1 yr/$500K (FA)
|3 yrs/$1.75 million (4.07 rookie pick)
|He's in a good situation to thrive if he can improve as an all-around player. Pete Carroll allows players to compete for jobs, so I'm hoping Willson learns to make the most of his athleticism.
|1 yr/$2.5 million
|I can't justify franchising Allen, who I love as a player, but doubt he'll be worth the money.
|1 yr/$8 million
|On the other hand, Davis might be worth that kind of cash.
|Great leg, bad team.
|1 yr/2.5 million
|I wish this was a two-year deal.
Lesson Learned/Affirmed: Don't blink in a bidding war for a quarterback you believe has the skill to be an elite passer (Russell Wilson) but if you do, go heavy on wide receivers because they occupy the most spots in your lineup; they tend to have longer careers with fantasy relevancy; they are more flexible to package into deals with other teams; and they are just as consistent year-to-year - if not more so - than other non-QB positions.
22-Team Best-Ball Draft - "Experts DRaftmaster 100"
This was an early summer draft run by Jim Day from June/July involving 22 teams that include Bloom, Bramel, Clay, Harris, Greg Kellogg, and a host of other fantasy writers. It was by far the most bizarre draft I have been a part of this year because of the number of teams.
- League: Experts Drafmaster 100
- Type: Best-Ball (top scorers on your roster represent your weekly lineup and champion determined by cumulative season scoring)
- Teams: 22
- Draft: Serpentine
- Lineup Options: 11 starters - 1 QB/3-5 RBs/3-5 WRs/1-3 TEs. Best ball, see above
- Scoring: PPR + 1.5 PPR for TE; no yardage bonuses; return touchdowns; and the rest is pretty standard
- Team Rank: 2nd (55 points behind the leader)
No free agency or trades in this league. It's all about the draft, which means that players most fantasy owners would consider starters during the preseason were gone before rounds 8-10 of this 20-round draft. The league format forced owners to consider creative lineup possibilities and lean on the strengths of a few players while hoping some lesser-known options would pay off with strong performances during the season to supplement lineups.
|Despite the neck injury, Manning is an iron man who rarely gets hit. His career year is at least half the reason this team held down the No.1 overall spot in the standings until a month ago. Picking the No.1 overall player in the league is a great value even as early as 2.19.
|Quarterbacks left the board early and because I drafted Manning early, I was betting I wouldn't need depth at quarterback beyond the bye week. Hasselbeck was my pick based because among the backups, he had the most starter experience, the best offense on paper and an offensive line that could wreck Andrew Luck's season.
|I thought James might earn a Darren Sproles role in San Francisco. Frank Gore continues to hold it down and James has not looked impressive even in limited time. Considering there's 22 teams drafting, this seventh round pick is more like a pick in the 14th.
|McCoy has been everything I hoped for as my No.1 overall pick: consistent, productive, and earning lots of touches in an offense that planned to run a lot. What I didn't expect was how much the Eagles leaned on McCoy and not the rest of the depth chart. I'm a fan of safe, productive picks in teh early rounds and McCoy was one of the few RBs I thought merited that kind of first-round selection.
|I missed on Bryce Brown, who went earlier than I expected - and I expected him to leave early - so I waited on Polk just in case Brown got hurt. Turns out neither reserve on the Eagles depth chart has been valuable yet.
|According to some covering the Buccaneers, Smith was supposedly ahead of Mike James for the backup job before he got hurt in the preseason. I loved his big-play ability.
|Spann sprained both ankles late in the preseason and got cut.
|Another big-play, high-upside option I took late in case Alfred Morris got hurt and Roy Helu failed to impress.
|One of the best values on my roster, Tolbert has filled in the gaps in scoring on several occasions. I hoped for a top-50 fantasy back when I picked Tolbert, I got a little better.
|I hoped Benjamin would earn big-play targets while Josh Gordon served his suspension. It didn't work out that way. I also hoped Benjamin would beat Davone Bess for the slot job when Gordon returned. I know, pipe-dream, but this late I had to look for upside and potential for consistency.
|I whiffed on Brown this year. I expected the Chargers' receiver to earn upwards of 80 receptions in this Mike McCoy offense. Brown was miscast early and then took a back seat Keenan Allen at mid-season.
|I believed in Gordon's game changing ability since I saw him at Baylor and I hoped his connection with Brandon Weeden would pick up where it left off last year. But no one expected Gordon to carry fantasy teams on his back in November. If he keeps this up, I might still have an outside shot to win.
|Jay Gruden has concluded that he isn't sold on any of his receivers opposite A.J. Green as the No.2 option. I've seen enough to believe that Jones has been hurt more by Andy Dalton's limitations than the other way around. His month of excellent fantasy production buoyed this team.
|Martin is a versatile player and I hoped his return skills and slot game might yield some surprising weeks. Take the "s" off "weeks" and it's probably more accurate of what really happened.
|I so whiffed on "value" receivers this year. I believe Roberts has been playing with a worse leg injury than he let on. At the same time, Michael Floyd's slow ascent and Bruce Arians' man-crush on Rob Housler has also hurt Roberts' opportunities. I still believe in Roberts' ability, but he might not blossom in Arizona.
|Excellent value in September and he has been an odd source of consistency in my receiving corps. Remember this was a pick from early July, which embodies the upside mentality I'm talking about here.
|I expected far more from Cook this year and I was already disappointed before Sam Bradford got hurt. However, taking a big cut on a player who appeared set to earn high-end slot receiver production as a tight end was the right move even if it yielded the wrong result.
|If I'm going to win this league, four things need to happen: Manning plays all 16 weeks, McCoy stays healthy, Gordon stays hot, and Roddy White's apparent return to 85 percent health allows Gonzalez to heat up. It would mean four of my first five picks are playing to expectation. Not bad for a league of this nature, but might not be enough.
|I thought more of Hanna than Gavin Escobar and thought I'd take a chance on the Cowboys' assertion it would use more two-tight end sets.
|Kelce's knee injury shelved him for the season. Otherwise, combine Anthony Fasano and Sean McGrath's numbers and I had a capable TE3 to compensate for my receiving corps.
In best-ball leagues with this many teams, a go big or go home strategy makes the most sense. On paper, a "respectable team" in this format is probably ranked 10th-12th overall. It's the team with the most home run picks - the most surprises - that is going to compete for the top spot. Manning, McCoy, Gonzalez, Cook, and Gordon were all expected to earn strong production but they also had the potential for dominating weeks - especially in a 1.5 PPR scoring format for tight ends.
Even if the outcome doesn't work out as expected, if you still see the logic behind the decision(s) there's no reason to change up next year. Have you noticed that I only have one real starter at RB in this format? Considering that I'm 47 points ahead of the team currently in third, another RB could have put me over the top from wire to wire.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Knowshown Moreno, and Joique Bell were all available after I picked Vincent Brown. However, the only player on my radar was Bell and I was seeking players who could provide me regular touches every week I expected that player to be Brown and on paper I still think it was the right choice with the wrong outcome. No one expected Moreno or Rodgers to earn the touches they did.
Lesson Learned/Affirmed: This league has reaffirmed to me that it's important to believe in your process and stick to it. Hindsight analysis is good, but second-guessing your strategy in the middle of your campaign (if you've truly prepared) is dangerous.
Most teams - even good teams - have big misses. If you make a firm decision and miss, it's likely easier to act on it sooner than hedging your bets and waiting longer to see if that middle of the road decision panned out. While this doesn't apply to a best-ball league without a waiver wire or trades, analyzing what I did still provided this insight.