Biggest Regrets of 2015 and How Not to Repeat Them in 2016
“Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” -George Santayana
To build the best possible team through the year you will need to take risks. Some of these risks end up being winners, but regrets are inevitable. Some regrets are born from circumstances you couldn’t have predicted, but others get repeated year after year. These are some of the regrets that made me sad from the 2015 season along with the fantasy football community as a whole. Don’t be sad in 2016.
After the first few weeks of the season, I made a trade that sent Greg Olsen away, but I acquired an ascending Jordan Reed, who had a renewed opportunity with the injury to Niles Paul. Paul was going to be the starter in Washington but suffered a season-ending injury in August. Obviously, Reed was an absolute gem in that trade except for one thing.
Jordan Reed has always had the talent but was overtaken on the depth chart, at least in part, because he missed significant time in each of his first two seasons. Reed was still dealing with an MCL sprain AND a concussion in early October. I could have gotten past one injury, but with a player that has a reputation for missing time, dealing with two significant injuries, I impulsively sent him to the waiver wire without giving it too much thought.
Dropping Reed ended up having no bearing on my team’s playoff run, but the TE position was the weakest portion of my roster through the second half of the season and playoffs. Reed wouldn’t have won the championship for me, but he could have easily been the difference between qualifying for the playoffs and/or making it to the championship game with a lesser team.
Some of those “have exceptional talent and opportunity, but can’t stay on the field” players to look out for this year are Jordan Reed (Rule 86 himself), Dion Lewis, Alshon Jeffery, Julian Edelman, Ryan Mathews, Tyler Eifert and Tony Romo. These players come with a nice discount because of their injury history, but if they do catch that injury bug, don’t give up on them too soon.
Patience is a virtue and I need to work on it. I drafted Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, Adrian Peterson and Russell Wilson on one team in a PPR league. Sounds like a winning team since those guys ended up with great years in 2015 overall, but they were very pedestrian through the first seven weeks of the season. In PPR leagues, of the players that had played at least five games of the first seven games, Wilson was the 17th QB in average scoring just behind Marcus Mariota. Cooks and Matthews were 33rd and 34th for WRs, and AP was a respectable 7th, but barely ahead of Demarco Murray. I also drafted Jeremy Hill (more on him later) who seemed to score three TDs in every game I had him benched, but fizzled when in my starting lineup.
My team started 2-5 and needed a flawless end to the season. Never give up, because you never know when a string of victories will put you back in the race. However, I thought my team needed a change so I traded away Matthews and Wilson for pennies on the dollar. The trade never paid off in anyway, but I thought I had to throw a haymaker for any shot at making the playoffs. My haymaker failed to connect and I was KO’d from the playoff race by Week 9.
I’m not sure I could have recovered from that start even if I had kept all those players, but it was a valuable lesson in patience. If you have a player that you believe in, give them every chance to turn it around. Even the top rookies may take half a year or longer before adjusting to the NFL’s speed and talent. Some players will also face very difficult schedules to start out the 2016 season including players from the New England, Tampa Bay, and Buffalo. So be patient if they get off to a slow start, and take advantage of the panicked owners who may be looking to dump talented players.
Small Sample Sizes
Jeremy Hill took over lead back duties in Week 9 of 2014, and never looked back. Hill averaged over 112 yards from scrimmage in the last nine games of the season and notched six TDs. His 2014 second-half performance led to a late 1st Round ADP last season.
An eerily similar situation occurred with C.J. Anderson. Anderson averaged over 132 yards from scrimmage and scored 10 TDs in the final eight games of the 2014 season. Then in 2015 fantasy drafts Anderson was being drafted just ahead of Hill as the 6th RB taken.
Right now players like Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Devonta Freeman, Dion Lewis and Thomas Rawls are being drafted within the first four rounds of MFL10s and MFL25s. Some of these players will remain dominant, but some of them broke out when a combination of factors gave them a chance to excel in brief stretches.
Their performances in 2015 were too good to ignore, just like Jeremy Hill and C.J. Anderson in 2014, but the circumstances for those players have changed. I am avoiding Freeman and Rawls outright, and I’m aiming to acquire Gurley through a trade around Week 5, rather than draft him. I’m not opposed to drafting Johnson or Lewis if they fall to me in drafts, but at their current ADP, I find myself opting for WRs.
Jumping on the Hype Train
We are smack in the middle of the hype season. Coaches say positive and negative things to motivate players, GMs love all the players they acquired, faster players look untouchable in OTAs and so on. To give you an idea the sort of extreme comments that get the fantasy community wound up, Bruce Arians proclaimed that David Johnson has the chance to be “one of the best all-time.” I like David Johnson’s 2016 outlook, but that’s big time praise for someone entering his second season with 161 total career touches as an RB.
Beware of the players that skyrocket up the draft board during the preseason. Ameer Abdullah stepped on the field for the first time in 2015 and ran for 67 yards on 7 carries during a preseason game against the New York Jets. That performance was enough to shoot his ADP into the fourth round of standard scoring leagues even though he did nothing for the next three preseason games.
As much as the preseason hype gave rookie Ameer Abdullah a significant bump, the injury to Jordy Nelson sent Davante Adams’ draft stock soaring into the third round of fantasy drafts! The Adams love may have been the craziest overreaction of 2015, but he wasn’t the only receiver that climbed draft boards.
The hype surrounding Charles Johnson came from… actually, I have no idea. The athletic freak bounced around the league before landing in Minnesota and flashed in the last seven games of the 2014 season with 25 catches for 415 yards and two TDs. The hype train got rolling and he went in the sixth round of 2015 drafts. Taking a chance in the 6th Round isn’t going to kill your team, but the WRs that went immediately before and after him included Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, Martavis Bryant, DeSean Jackson, John Brown, and Vincent Jackson. Not all of those receivers turned in great performances, but the talent and opportunity they had far outweighed what Charles had going for him. This year, the Fantasy Football Gods are playing more hype jokes on footballers this year. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A 6’2” WR with 4.39 wheels walks onto a field during OTAs and:
Vikings WR Charles Johnson “popped” during spring workouts https://t.co/LBlfP4uBFc#nfl #vikings
— The Redzone (@TheRedzoneorg) June 19, 2016
Winning at fantasy football requires patience! Never be afraid to take a shot or a risk if the payoff could be worth it, but be careful how much stock you’re putting into players based on hype instead of distinguished track record. The worst decisions are made when we assume this year will be just like last year. Get some ice in your veins and rise above your competition to dominate in 2016!