Last Week’s Question: What were your best and worst fantasy calls of 2019?
In Week 7,
I asked readers to share their best and worst fantasy calls of
2019. No analysis was required, but some readers (like TomJ) opted
to take us through their thought processes and disappointments:
I love the humble-bragness of this week's question. One of my
leagues is a keeper league, no draft-related restrictions on who
you can keep. You like a player, you can keep that player. (Restrictions
on number, obviously.) We declare keepers a week before the next
year's draft. In that league, I've had Antonio Brown since 2014.
I made the decision to cut him loose last January. And I have
never, not for a single moment, regretted it. Not when he left
Pitt, not when he went to the Raiders, not when he went to NE,
not when he played that one game. And obviously not now. I asked
myself back in January under what conditions I would regret not
keeping him, and I decided that it would be A) if he played a
full slate of games and B) went over 1000 yds with 8+ TDs. But
I considered that combo to be pretty unlikely. So I'll pat myself
on the back there.
[However, the player I kept instead of AB] is Baker Mayfield.
Hasn't quite panned out (yet) as I'd hoped. I don't necessarily
regret that decision--given our keeper rules, my only other reasonable
options would have been Curtis Samuel or Cam Newton. Mayfield
is currently "not who we thought he was", but he can
still turn it around. Might just be a slump. Still better than
keeping AB would have been. But a miss so far. You don't keep
someone so they can ride your bench.
Yikes. I think TomJ deserved a better return on that AB call
than he’s likely to get from Mayfield, but this is a perfect
illustration of the kinds of calls I was looking for.
Mark covered more players with a succinct approach that emphasizes
the draft value (by round) of the players concerned:
Worst Pick – Damien Williams in the 5th. It’s not
that I thought he’d be a bellcow, but I only had Kamara
at that point and I went with the phantom upside. Our league is
so competitive that it’s hard to find a lot of value, particularly
I’m less interested in the stunning value on Jackson and
Hyde than the crushing disappointment associated with Williams.
In one league, I congratulated the guy who snagged him in the
5th for getting a steal. He cut Williams a few weeks later. I
picked him up on waivers and now wish I hadn’t wasted my
waiver priority on him.
In superflex leagues, it’s important to get your QBs right.
Steve seems to have done just that (despite waiting on the position):
MKrip shares Waller-fever and is perfectly content with the way
things have worked out in Tampa:
One of my best decisions was to forgo Mike Evans at the 2/3 turn
and targeting Godwin 2 rounds later. Picking up J. Brown and Gallup
late helped my bench big time. Also, grabbing Waller with one
of the last picks was another steal.
James spoke for a lot of folks who expected Jameis Winston to
be more effective in Bruce Arians’ offense:
Worst decision: waiting to draft a QB and thinking I was ok when
I settled for Jameis Winston.
Best decision: believing Austin Ekeler would earn a weekly fantasy
role and keep it regardless of how long the Gordon holdout would
James had some nice foresight on Ekeler (whose staying power
in PPR leagues seems much more secure than anyone anticipated
in August). RBs are a sore spot for a lot of owners this year.
Jrokh swung rightly on one reliable RB and wrongly on another:
I was all over Nick Chubb preseason and that looks pretty good
so far. I whiffed badly in the second round going with Davante
Adams over Dalvin Cook, as the latter’s injury history scared
me off, irony…
Another reader (mb78) covered another popular RB in this discussion
(Leonard Fournette) among numerous other good and bad calls. I
only asked readers to review their very best and very worst calls,
but I’ll share George’s whole list because it’s
filtered through a dozen leagues and 2 decades of fantasy experience:
I have 20 years [of playing fantasy] with 12 teams ...
4 dynasty, 5 keeper, 3 redraft. I have these guys at least 4 times
except the whiffs I passed on or traded away.
2) Michael Gallup (camp reports kept using the words “blistering”
and “sizzling” ... these jumped out at me as different
than usual praise ... considering Cooper’s history, I’m
of the mind Gallup could also become their #1 ... after last
Sunday’s so-so results I’m intensely watching this
week ... 8 leagues!)
3) D.J. Chark (bought him everywhere this offseason in dynasty
... other owners claim I got lucky ... sure)
4) Terry McLaurin (well, this was a bit lucky ... he fell to
me and I gambled that he was the only possible #1 on that team)
5) Dak Prescott
(still a believer ... had him #5 on my board ... see Gallup)
Some folks may be a bit cooler on Daniel Jones than they were
last week (when I heard from mb78), but this list of good calls
includes an astonishing number of pleasant surprises. As for the
comment on Mayfield, a lot of people are embarrassed to admit
who they took him over. He may not be the biggest bust of the
season, but he received far more negative attention in the responses
than anyone else.
My thanks to everyone who wrote in.
This Week’s Question: What if every team in your league
advanced to the playoffs?
A reader named Mark had a belated response to my question about
waiving transaction fees that challenges a lot of assumptions
about how leagues should be structured:
First, we collect $100 from every team upfront and don’t
have transaction fees anymore precisely for the reasons you outlined.
Each team gets a corresponding FAAB of $100 to spend on pickups
since we do a blind auction on Wed. and then waivers after that.
This virtually eliminates the waiver order and makes the process
more balanced based on need and willingness to spend instead of
arbitrarily allowing the worst team to get the top available player.
This is our 26th season and we’ve learned a thing or two
over that time.
Second, we are trying something new and allowing every team to
make the playoffs this year. This means that no one is out of
it and everyone is encouraged to keep making their team better
in hopes of a late run. The top 4 teams get a first round bye
and the other 8 play their way in so there is still an advantage
to doing well in the regular season. We also increased the percentage
we pay the regular season winner to reward that team’s effort
over 12 games. We already pay weekly high scorer $10 so an owner
who has had injuries or maybe some bad schedule luck can still
get a return on their investment. This year that could also include
getting healthy for a playoff run.
The idea of allowing all teams to advance to the playoffs is as
extreme an anti-tanking measure as I’ve ever heard about in
a fantasy league, so I want to commend Mark’s league for this
I’m sure some people will hate the idea and say that it makes
the regular season pointless. I disagree. In most leagues, the use
of seeding (and of playoff byes) would be sufficient incentive to
keep owners at the top of their game from the day they draft until
they’re eliminated from the championship tournament. I might
raise the stakes a little by adding more 1-week byes to the playoff
mix as well as two 2-week byes for the very best teams in the regular
season. But then again, taking 2 weeks off from managing your juggernaut
fantasy squad could easily feel like more of a punishment than a
reward for a season well played.
In any case, I love the way that this approach emphasizes riding
a hot streak at the very end of the season, which is exactly when
it matters most in the NFL. It sounds like Mark’s league is
in for a blast, and I hope to hear back from him after his playoffs
So what do you think about inviting all the teams in your league
to the big dance at the end of the season? Please comment below
(or email me) so that
I can feature your thoughts in next week’s column.
I had another belated response on transaction fees (from George)
that some readers may find helpful, so I’ll squeeze it in
I am our league commissioner. Our league has a rule that once
an owner is three games out of 4th place, or eliminated from the
Playoffs, he will receive a free waiver for a player on IR. Same
scenario, if that team has a “inactive” player for
a game, not on IR, he can pick up a free waiver for that game
only. If he chooses to keep that player for additional weeks he
must pay the waiver fee. Our waivers are $15.
Pricey waiver transactions seem to warrant special rules in all
sorts of leagues.
Survivor Pool Picks (courtesy of Matthew Schiff)
#3 Saints over Cardinals (6-1; PHI, BAL, SF, lar, NE,
The Saints have done a beautiful job of winning games with Teddy Brdigewater in Drew Brees’ absence, and they should be even
better if Brees is back under center this week (as he expects
to be). He probably doesn’t want to miss the game, which,
thanks to a visit from the struggling Cardinals on the day he
is poised to return, is likely to feel as much like a “homecoming”
contest for Saints fans as an NFL game can. It’s hard to
see how the inexperience of both Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray
can overcome the veteran savvy of Brees and Sean Payton.
You didn’t pick the 49ers last week because they were undefeated.
You picked them because they were playing against the reeling
Redskins. This week, you’re not picking the Vikings because
they’re 16-point home favorites in an interdivisional contest.
Those would ordinarily be excellent reasons to pick them, but
they are secondary considerations in Week 8. The primary consideration
is that they are playing against the reeling Redskins.
The Steelers are only 14.5-point home favorites against Miami
(an interdivisional rival), so some readers may conclude that
Pittsburgh is a weaker pick than Minnesota. However, the important
thing to remember about the Dolphins is that they are even worse
than the reeling Redskins (who beat them in Week 6).
Mike Davis has been writing about fantasy football since 1999--and
playing video games even longer than that. His latest novel (concerning
a gamer who gets trapped inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms)
can be found here.