As some of you fantasy football aficionados may have read, this year I tried my hand at writing my first ever Fantasy Football Guide. And now that the year is over, I thought I'd take a look back and see how I'd do. I suspect not well, because this was the kind of fantasy year in which my mother-in-law, who couldn't fill a Post-It note with what she knows about fantasy football finished third in a 12-team league by drafting a defense in the first round and drafting five tight ends for a league in which you can only possibly play two on any given week. But there's no fun in making predictions if you're not going to look back after the fact and see what a moron you are, so let's take a look back and see just how God-awful my advice, picks, and predictions were for the first ever official acrappywebsite.com fantasy football guide. Each statement has been rated good, mostly good, indifferent, mostly bad, or just plain bad.
Acrappywebsite.com 2012 Fantasy Football Guide Advice, Picks, and Predictions:
Prediction: Handcuffing Chris Johnson is a waste of a roster spot.
Analysis: Good. Chris Johnson's most fantasy-productive backup, Jamie Harper, finished 93 rd among running backs. Used mostly as a short-yardage and goal-line back, Harper did score three TDs, but managed just 30 yards rushing and 8 receiving.
Advice: Don't draft a kicker until the last round.
Analysis: Good. David Akers, who was the kicker everyone reached for, finished ninth in fantasy points. The kicker who finished 8th ? That would be Jason Hanson, who I took in the last round of every single draft I partook in this year. So the kicker I took in the last round scored more points than the kicker you reached for. What did I tell you? And the kicker who finished first among kickers this year? That would be Minnesota rookie Blair Walsh, who probably wasn't drafted by anyone except his momma. Not that it matters, because Walsh only ended up a measly 31 fantasy points ahead of Sebastian Janikowski, who was in 13th place, meaning there was roughly two points per game difference between the highest scoring player at the position, and the waiver wire. Like I said, don't draft a kicker until the last round.
Prediction: Half the defense drafted as starting defenses will be benched or waived by year's end.
Analysis: Good. Who would've thought the Seahawks, Chargers, Bengals, Cardinals, Rams, and Titans would be six of the top twelve fantasy defenses in 2012? And who would've thought the 49ers would go from being the top consensus pick to the seventh-best producing defense, finishing behind the aforementioned Chargers? And who would've thought that the Lions would go from being a top fantasy defense in 2011 to the 29 th best unit in 2012? Well…me.
Prediction: The Lions defense will be overdrafted.
Analysis: Good. Drafting as a starting defense in almost every draft, yet finished 29th in fantasy scoring. I'd say that qualifies as overdrafted.
Advice: Don't draft any Browns.
Analysis: Mostly Good. Brandon Weeden finished 26th among fantasy quarterbacks. Josh Gordon (who probably wasn't drafted in most leagues outside Cleveland) was the Browns' best producing receiver, but only finished 38th in the league, and Greg Little and Mohammed Massaqoui finished 53rd and 116th , respectively. Benjamin Watson finished 24th among tight ends. Phil Dawson and the defense likely weren't drafted by many people, and finished 12th and 17th at their respective positions.
Trent Richardson we can debate. He finished 9th among running backs in fantasy scoring, largely due to a high touchdown total, as he fell short of the 1000 yard mark. While he had respectable fantasy totals for a high-end RB2, most people who drafted Richardson overpaid, because he was typically drafted more like a top-5 running back. So, similar with what I said about Greg Little in the guide, whether Richardson was worth it depended on where you drafted him. If you took him in the first or second round, you overpaid. If you took him a bit later and spent those first couple picks on other difference-makers, then you were just fine.
Advice: Do not draft a rookie early expecting him to be a fantasy stud in his rookie season just because he was a stud in college.
Analysis: Mostly good. Richardson we've already touched on, but let's look at some other rookie RBs. Doug Martin certainly bucked the rookie RB trend and finished second among all running backs in fantasy points. Martin typically wasn't drafted especially early, but he certainly made anyone happy who did roll the dice on him. However, if you drafted any of the next five running backs taken in the2012 NFL draft, you probably regretted it. Those next five were David Wilson, Isaiah Pead, LaMichael James, Ronnie Hillman, Bernard Pierce. Among that group, only Wilson and Pierce even sniffed fantasy relevance, finishing 47th and 49th , respectively, and Wilson's finishing was largely based on the strength of a couple excellent games very late in the season.
Alfred Morris, however, bucked the trend to the tune of 1600+ yards and double-digit TDs, which was good for fifth among fantasy RBs. However, very few people drafted Morris, as he was taken in the 6th round and wasn't even the primary backup on the Washington depth chart when most fantasy drafts were taking place. Morris was likely a better waiver-wire pickup than a draft pick for many lucky owners.
Among receivers, however, the trend held up. Only one rookie receiver finished in the league's top 25 fantasy wideouts, and that would be the Colts' T.Y. Hilton, who came out of nowhere to finish 24th . The much-touted Justin Blackmon, who I said would be overdrafted, was overdrafted, and came in outside the league's top 25 (finishing 29th ). Josh Gordon at 38 was the only other rookie receiver to crack the top 50. Among tight ends, only Dwayne Allen (23rd ) finished top 25 for tight ends, and his teammate, Coby Fleener who was expected to step right in and make Pro Bowls because of his familiarity with Andrew Luck, finished well off the fantasy radar at 39th .
Prediction: Rookie quarterbacks not named Cam Newton are not good week in, week out fantasy starters.
Analysis: Bad. Times, they are-a-changin'. As with running backs, three of the top ten fantasy quarterbacks this past year were rookies. RGIII paced the rookies at 5th , followed by Russell Wilson at 9th , and Andrew Luck at 10th . Perhaps the game is changing (or the rookies are getting better) because it sure seems like all of a sudden, having a rookie QB on your fantasy team may not be such a bad thing after all.
Prediction: Coby Fleener will be overdrafted.
Analysis: Good. As mentioned earlier, Coby Fleener finished at 39th and wasn't even the most productive rookie tight end on his own team. Anyone who drafted him at all reached with that kind of production.
Prediction: Marshawn Lynch and Matt Forte are both bust candidates because their excellent previous seasons happened in contract years and were much more productive than usual for them.
Analysis: Indifferent. Lynch clearly proved me wrong, as he finished 4th in fantasy scoring among running backs. Forte on the other hand, slid back to his usual level of production, as I expected. Forte played in 3 more games this past year than he did in 2011 (his contract year). While Forte finished this year with two more TDs, his yards from scrimmage actually fell by about fifty yards. So he was less productive in terms of yards with more games to do it in. To top it all off, his yards per carry dropped by half a yard and his yards per catch dropped by almost two yards. So the man played exceptionally well, cried that he wanted to get paid, he got paid, and then his production dropped. Coincidence?
Advice: Ignore injuries at your own risk, especially at the running back position.
Analysis: Mostly good. This was a mixed bag. Normally it takes a couple years (if ever) for a running back to return to full strength after a torn ACL, but this year saw two running backs come back successfully from them (Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles), who richly rewarded those who gambled on them, and Peterson was actually more productive than he ever was before the injury.
However, there were a LOT of running backs with injury red flags headed into the season who finished the season either injured or with disappointing fantasy numbers. Willis McGahee (26th ), Demarco Murray (27th ), Darren McFadden (28th ), Ryan Mathews (30th ), Fred Jackson (40th ), Maurice Jones-Drew (50th ), Beanie Wells (57th ), Cedric Benson (67th ), and Rashard Mendenhall (85th ), all had red flags for one reason or another, and all had their production fall out of the top 25 at the running back position. And then there's Jahvid Best, who finished the year with the same number of fantasy points as you and I got (that would be zero). While it was tough drafting a RB roster with all these red flags, if you took too many out of this group, your fantasy season was probably toast.
Prediction: Peyton Manning's new pass catchers will be overdrafted.
Analysis: Indifferent. The tight ends were, the wide receivers were not. Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen finished neck and neck at 26th , and 27th , respectively, among tight ends, making neither a viable fantasy starter. However, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker finished at 5th and 7th , respectively, making them both legitimate WR1s, meaning they justified their draft spots.
Advice:It would be wise for owners of Adrian Peterson, Fred Jackson, and Jamaal Charles to handcuff them with Tobey Gerhart, C.J. Spiller, and Peyton Hillis.
Analysis: Mostly Bad. Well, I was one for three. Fred Jackson got hurt and C.J. Spiller became a stud. However, Peterson and Charles stayed healthy, so Gerhart and Hillis got cozy on the sidelines. Although at least Gerhart was the next most fantasy relevant RB on his team, which Hillis can't say, as Shaun Draughn was more productive.
Advice: Don't handcuff Donald Brown with Delone Carter.
Analysis: Good. Not only was I right about Carter not being worth a backup spot in his own right, I was right about Donald Brown not being worth a handcuff.
Advice: Don't draft any Redskins running backs.
Analysis: Bad. Clearly, I was wrong. As discussed previously, Alfred Morris was a beast. However, in fairness to me, Shanahan largely only stuck with one back because of injuries to other backs, and he wasn't even sure he was sticking with Morris until opening day. If he had gone with Evan Royster, as he was talking about prior to opening day, maybe Morris never cracks the starting lineup. Or maybe he does every other week., as Shanahan backs are wont to do.
Prediction: Matt Flynn is this year's Kevin Kolb.
Analysis: Good. Although in fairness to Kolb, at least he started a few games for the Cardinals before being replace by a rookie most people had never heard of. Flynn can't even say that.
Prediction: Malcolm Floyd will not replicate Vincent Jackson's production.
Analysis: Good. Not only was this true, but he actually took a step backwards. Floyd played in two more games in 2012 than he had in 2011, and his receiving production dropped by about 50 yards. While I knew he wouldn't come close to replacing V-Jax, I certainly didn't expect his increase in targets to lead to fewer yards.
Prediction: Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles, and Lance Moore will all have better receiving numbers than Devery Henderson, and I wouldn't be surprised to see another running back pass him as well.
Analysis: Good. Not only did all those players have more productive years than Henderson, but Pierre Thomas and Joe Morgan passed him as well. David Thomas also gave Henderson a run for his fantasy money due to his four TDs.
Prediction: This time next year, the debate will be how many games Josh Freeman starts before they sub in Matt Barkley, meaning not only will Freeman be in the process of being replaced, but that Tampa Bay has a shot to be the worst team in the league this year and be in the position to draft Matt Barkley.
Analysis: Bad. Well, this one I just got all kinds of wrong. Freeman did improve this year with the help of Vincent Jackson and finished 13th among fantasy quarterbacks, as he threw for over 4000 yards and 27 TDs. Tampa Bay will obviously not be in the market for a quarterback, nor will they be drafting high enough to get a top quarterback in the draft. Although I do get partial credit for this prediction on a technicality, as Matt Barkley's stock has dropped so far that the Bucs would probably be able to draft him if they were so inclined.
Prediction: Ben Roethlisberger will have low end QB1 or high end QB2 numbers. He's going to wear more pink than any other player in the league for Breast Cancer Awareness Month so people knows how much he totally respects women since he's totally not a rapist. He's going to have at least one instance where he uses some mysterious injury nobody else was aware of to show how tough he is and/or to explain a bad game he had, causing Mike Tomlin to have to answer a bunch of questions about his "injury" in press conferences with responses ranging from "Ben will be fine and he'll be ready to play on Sunday" to "I'm just glad he hasn't been accused of raping someone for over a year now." He will also be criticized by at least one teammate for being a prima donna.
Analysis: Mostly good. I actually gave Ben's production too much credit, as he finished 18th among quarterbacks. The Steelers also missed the playoffs, with Ben receiving a lot of the blame. Other than that, it was a pretty typical year for him. Some good games, some terrible. Some missed games. Some games he blamed on injuries but made sure you knew how tough he was. Although this year he feuded with his offensive coordinator, whereas it's usually a teammate, so that was new for him. But at least he didn't rape anybody. That we know of.
Advice: Give up on Michael Crabtree.
Analysis: Bad. On second thought, maybe the fourth year's the charm, as Crabtree finally realized his potential, finishing the year with over 1100 yards and nine scores.
Prediction: Among Peyton Manning,Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Reggie Wayne, Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss, and Antonio Gates, half will either be on IR or backups by season's end.
Analysis: Bad. In addition to the rookie, it was the year of the old man, as all but Moss were still in their starting lineups at the end of the year.
Well, overall I guess it wasn't as bad as I thought. Although the ones I was wrong on, I was really, REALLY wrong. Oh well, better luck next year.