Ten Things to Remember from 2019 (Fantasy Footballers Podcast Recap)
Offseason? What is that? In fantasy football, there is no offseason. When the Chiefs put a bow on the 2019 season, it was time to start prepping for 2020. On February 18, The Fantasy Footballers put together their annual Things to Remember episode and it may be the best thing you can listen to this month. Hosts, Andy, Mike, and Jason give you ten lessons they learned from the previous season and tips on how to use them to improve your game in 2020.
If you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, I have you covered. Here are the Ten Things to Remember from 2019. Also, we are down to the last days of the best pricing of the year for the Ultimate Draft Kit. Pre-order yours now or pay more later!
Without further ado…Don’t forget to remember these things.
10. Hype Check (Andy)
Every year, a few teams and/or players seem to get prime seats on the hype train but we have to remember that opposing coaches are smart and they take notice too. In 2019, the Cleveland Browns offense and the David Montgomery were prime examples. The Browns offense was hyped as nearly unstoppable with too many weapons to count. David Montgomery was going to be the next Kareem Hunt in Matt Nagy’s offense. Similar to the Browns, the Rams WR corps was going to be a handful for opposing defenses. But none of these things came to fruition and even the Chiefs took a step backward. Trying to find the next big thing is a lot of fun in fantasy football but we have to recognize the difference between the hype and what might actually be delivered.
9. Wait on Injuries (Jason)
Last year, Jason cautioned listeners about buying into the “Injury Dip” in fantasy drafts and if you listened, you avoided the likes of A.J. Green and Todd Gurley. This year, he wants you to be patient with guys coming back from injury. Often, fantasy owners fall victim to the “if he plays, you gotta play him” mentality with big-name players (Rule 86 syndrome) but as we plugged David Johnson and Adam Thielen back into our lineups after they missed time, we found ourselves disappointed. Jason’s own rushing of James Conner back into his lineup was what sparked this lesson. The first weeks back, injured players are not as involved in the offense. While it’s difficult to bench a player you spent a high draft pick on, if you have a non-injured option, it’s usually better to pivot.
8. Free Agency is fun, but be careful (Mike)
Everybody loves free agency and the Ballers will even do shows focusing on it but a change of scenery does not guarantee production. Last year’s big-ticket WRs (Tyrell Williams, Golden Tate, John Brown) didn’t exactly light the world on fire. At RB, while Mark Ingram did great, Lev Bell routinely disappointed. Free-agent players are often uprooting their lives and then learning an entirely new offense. Enjoy free agency but temper those expectations.
7. Talent can win out. Don’t let defeat, defeat you (Andy)
Players on bad teams can be fantasy assets. DeVante Parker, Joe Mixon, Austin Ekeler, Terry McLaurin, Kenny Golladay, and even the great Christian McCaffrey played on teams with five or fewer wins. Bad QBs and bad offenses can still produce players that you want in your starting lineup. Sometimes, it only takes one play, like Kenny Golladay on Thanksgiving. At other times, garbage time is your best friend. Bad teams will throw the ball a lot and you want their best pass-catchers.
6. Don’t overreact to Week 1 (Jason)
Sammy Watkins. TJ Hockenson. John Ross. Philip Dorsett. All had great opening weeks. All disappointed. On the flip side, you had Mike Evans and Aaron Jones who finished outside of the top 50 at their position and went on to finish top-10 for the season. This was one of Andy’s lesson’s from 2018…and you didn’t listen, did you! What’s even more interesting about this phenomenon is that if the Boom or Bust happens in Week 8, you can control yourself, but if it’s Week 1, we overreact. We spend the entire preseason making predictions, and when Week 1 proves them right, our confirmation bias triggers and we take the wrong victory laps.
5. Early QBs are not safe (Mike)
In 2019, only one QB drafted in the top-5 finished in the top-5, and that was DeShaun Watson. The top-3 QBs taken finished on average 4.5 spots worse than where they were drafted. The only top-10 drafted QB to finish higher than where he was drafted was Russell Wilson and his owners were not happy at season’s end. The risk/reward on early-round QBs is not worth it. If they hit, they still don’t outscore the late-round guys by much (or at all: Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott) and if they miss, you’ve dug yourself a huge hole by skipping out on early WRs and RBs. Yes, early WRs and RBs still bust, but since you draft many of them, the risk is mitigated. Missing on a onesie position like QB can end your season early.
4. No Country for Old RBs (Andy)
No position ages quite as poorly as RB in the NFL. If you look at the WRs taken in the top-30 in 2018, only A.J. Green seems to have really “aged out”. But looking at the RBs taken in the top-30 just two years ago, 7 or 8 of those guys are nearly un-draftable at this point. This lesson lends itself to dynasty, where you should be waiting on RBs anyway and loading up on the longevity of WRs. But even in redraft, where you should load up on RBs, be sure to look at their age. We have all heard about the 30-year-old cliff for RBs but statistically, RBs hit their prime at 24 years old. Everything from that point forward is downhill. Yes, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson are examples of this being incorrect, but they are the exception, not the rule.
3. Take more risks with rookies (Jason)
Jason has notoriously been cautious with rookies, especially at the WR position. While rookie RBs have been solid plays for a long time now, WRs have been harder to trust. It’s not to say he doesn’t like them, he just doesn’t allow himself to project them as top options. When you look at the 2nd half breakouts of Deebo Samuel and AJ Brown, rookies can be important contributors to your fantasy success, but they require patience. However, you can’t be afraid to start them early when you look at the early season for Marquise Brown and Terry McLaurin. Overall, the 2020 draft class is looking like it could be very good and it might be time to take more risks on rookies.
2. Just like Mike’s weight, TDs fluctuate (Mike)
The top-10 WRs from 2019 had 13 fewer TDs than the top-10 had in 2018. Overall, there were 50 fewer passing TDs in 2019 than the year before. Over the last five seasons, total passing TDs have fluctuated between 741 and 847. Twice above 840 but three times below 800 means this is a hard metric to predict. But Mike draws your attention here to point out that there could very well be a bounce-back for the top WRs in 2020 and to not start undervaluing them. One good way to rank your WRs next year is to project them with 0 TDs. Look at the volume guys in terms of yards and receptions, those are guys that are worth targeting at any point in your draft.
1. FIX YOUR LEAGUE NOW!
Step 1: Identify the problem.
Step 2: FIX IT!
Get rid of that Week 17 Championship, switch to a FAAB system, drop Kickers (not DEF/ST though, I like writing about them), or even add keepers. The point is: do it now. The closer you get to your draft, the harder it will be to convince your league to make any changes. Once your league-mates get into a team-building mindset, it will be less likely that they will be willing to change any rules.