After the Super Bowl, many fantasy players will brush the previous season aside and move on. However, now more than ever, it is important to remember the lessons you learned and experiences you had this year. Write them down, talk to your leaguemates about them, whatever you have to do to make sure that you can take advantage of what you learned. This way you won’t fall victim to the offseason narratives, preseason hype, and groupthink that is so pervasive leading into draft season.
Here is a list of 10 things the ‘Ballers want to remember going into 2017, as discussed on the podcast.
1) QB play affects WRs.
We are going to start this list off with a softball. Obviously, good quarterback play boosts the production for the pass catchers. This effect is well illustrated by 2016 WR scoring. Of the top 10 WRs, 6 of them were drafted in the first two rounds. These 6 are studs that can produce regardless of who’s throwing them the ball, but it gets interesting when you look at the other 4 players: Davante Adams, T. Y. Hilton, Michael Thomas and Brandin Cooks. What do these 4 have in common? Their QBs were all Hall of Fame caliber guys: Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck. But it’s not just the good QBs, oh no. Bad QBs can just as easily sandbag a talented WR, just ask Brandon Marshall, Allen Robinson, DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas. This lesson will be best remembered in the mid to late rounds of your drafts when you need to decide between two decent WRs, the determining factor may just be the level of QB play.
2) “Prototypical” does not always mean “Best”.
When you think of a prototypical fantasy football stud you think of a 3-down workhorse RB or a 6’3 WR who runs a 4.45 and is the number one target in his offense. However, you can find stud players who do not possess these measurables or fill these roles in their offenses. Tevin Coleman and Michael Thomas were productive for owners in 2016 despite crowded position groups, while Tyreek Hill helped his owners as a glorified gadget player in KC. Make sure you don’t overlook players who can help you just because they don’t have the “perfect” role or situation.
3) Don’t underestimate the impact of stud RBs.
Looking at the last 2 seasons, 2016 may seem like an aberrant year for RB production. From this perspective, one could expect top RB production to regress to 2015 levels. But if you look at the last 4 seasons, 2015 is the outlier. Going back 4 seasons the RB1 point totals were 254, 207, 247 and 248. While the standard deviations of the top 12 RBs over that same stretch were 50, 30, 50 and 45. This means that impactful RB scoring is the norm and the conventional wisdom that an elite RB can carry your team should ring true in 2017.
4) Don’t forget about the guys who let you down.
When you have a player that you love because of their skill set, opportunity, or something else and that player lets you down, many people tend to write them off forever. It is important to look back and remember why that player stood out to you in the first place. Perhaps you were just a year too early, or a down year for the team torpedoed that player’s season at no fault of their own. Just look at where Matt Ryan, Melvin Gordon, and Travis Kelce believers were this time last year. Look at them now. Players who let you down have the added benefit of being “post-hype sleepers”. If the fantasy community is down on them you can get that player you loved at a discount.
5) Don’t be tempted by Kickers [or Defenses].
When drafts roll around some of us have that voice in the back of our heads that whispers, “take Gostkowski… positional advantage… etc. etc.” However, this strategy has been proven ineffective over the last two seasons even though Stephen Gostkowski was considered a lock at the position. In both 2015 and 2016, 6 of the top 12 kickers went undrafted. This means that you can wait until the last round of your draft to take a kicker and if they don’t pan out, you can just grab a Boom Boom Kicker off waivers and be just fine.
6) Stay water.
It is easy to fall into the narrative that RBs are back and you must get a RB in the first round since 6 of the top 12 WRs taken in 2016 busted, compared to just 4 of the top 12 RBs. However, it bears keeping in mind that 2016 was the only year in which WRs busted at a higher rate than RBs going back to 2012. If you want to take a RB early, go for it, but do not feel the pressure to take a lower tier RB at the end of the first round if it means passing up an elite option at WR. Stay water and let the draft come to you.
7) Learn from your mistakes/successes.
When we make a poor trade or roster move we tend to suppress those memories and shy away from our mistakes. Likewise, when we make an epic trade that results in a #FootClanTitle we get so caught up in our celebrations that we forget to reflect and learn from the experience. Look back at your trades and decisions: did your 1 for 2 trades fail? Which owners in your league were easier to make deals with? Did you make an unnecessary trade due to perceived pressure? Or did you make a trade just to make it? Learning from your mistakes, and even taking a step back to look at your league’s transaction patterns as a whole can be invaluable information going forward.
8) Remember the fallen.
Players who finish a season on IR or miss a significant amount of time due to injury are frequently forgotten and undervalued the following year. While these players carry more risk, their discounted price will likely make the risk-reward ratio come out in your favor. Jimmy Graham and Jordy Nelson are perfect examples. Just be sure that you don’t overload your team with bounce back candidates because there’s always a chance that they go all ‘Jamaal Charles’ on you.
9) Remember the sting of losing with players you hate.
The only thing worse than losing in fantasy football is losing in fantasy football with players that you don’t even like. Sometimes we will fight back the gag reflex caused by a player because they have a favorable matchup or upcoming schedule, only to have that player double cross us once acquired. Mike’s story of trading for Doug Martin only to have him languish on the bench for the back half of the season is the perfect example. It is much more satisfying to stick with “your guys” and succeed, or even to go down on your own ship than it is to get burned by someone you knew you couldn’t trust in the first place.
9b) Don’t overreact to playoff schedules.
Most of us will abide by this rule in draft season because weeks 14, 15 and 16 are so far away. But as the season moves along it is tempting to look ahead to a tough playoff stretch or a tasty matchup in championship week. Whenever you feel these temptations, remember performances like Julio Jones in 2015, when he played against Josh Norman twice in the playoffs and roasted him for 16 receptions, 266 yards, and a TD. Or more recently when Winston, Evans, and the Buccaneers faced the New Orleans Saints twice in 3 weeks and it didn’t go quite so well.
10) Fix your league, now!
Now is the perfect time for a little spring cleaning in your fantasy leagues. If there was an ambiguous rule that caused problems, a scoring setting that seemed out of whack, or even a team owner who was toxic or inactive, now is the time to fix these problems while they are still fresh in your mind. Replace owners if needed, move your league to a different host site, or make that much-needed rule change. These things set like cement and are near impossible to rectify mid-season. It doesn’t even have to be a negative thing. The offseason is the best time to suggest a fun modification that can make your upcoming season even more interesting. Perhaps you want a new league altogether. It is never too early to go over to JoinTheFoot.com and get connected with thousands of dedicated fantasy football players who are creating fun and competitive leagues every day.
What did you learn in 2016 that you will remember and implement in your 2017 strategy? Let us know in the comments section.