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Fantasy Football: What We Learned

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If you recall, I was toying this offseason with a spreadsheet to rank players for my fantasy drafts. I leisurely followed my pre-rankings with how things turned out at the end of the season to test the validity. On running backs, I failed miserably and need to study the final rankings to see if I can find any trends. On the other hand, the wide receivers seemed to hold a little weight. I didn't post my QB, TE and Defense rankings, but they appeared to be fairly helpful as well. The Bucs and Packers defense carried me through most of the season, and ended up ranked almost exactly where the spreadsheet had them at. I bailed on both of them in the championship game and rolled with Cincy against Ken Dorsey, which paid an extra $600 and a title. I'll give some final thoughts, but for now, I want to look at where I went wrong:

Fail

1st Round - Joseph Addai - When he and his OL were healthy, Addai was fairly productive. Unfortunately, that was only for about 4 or 5 games. I drafted Dominic Rhodes as insurance, which would have justified this pick, but I had to cut him one week due to injuries. Planning on picking him up the next week, Addai got hurt and someone with a shitty team snatched up Rhodes.

3rd Round - Jamal Lewis - The Addai/Rhodes combo can be justified, but this pick was just pure idiocy. When the Browns passing game never got untracked, neither did Lewis.......all season. I should have gone for potential here with someone like DeAngelo Williams, Matt Forte or Michael Turner. Age really started to show on Lewis and LT this season.

Those were really my only two bad picks. Thinking they were by #1 and #2 RBs, I figured I would be screwed.

Winners

2nd Round - Andre Johnson - In my final spreadsheet, I had Johnson ranked as the #3 overall receiver ahead of Braylon Edwards. There wasn't a whole lot of tangible difference in them and Johnson was more consistent. I went with the guy who would be catching passes in warm weather.

4th Round - Brandon Jacobs - I was debating a WR here, but when Jacobs was still there as a keeper prospect, I waffled. It worked out.

5th Round - Kurt Warner - People laughed at me during our live draft, but the spreadsheet had him as the 4th overall QB. He led the league for parts of the year, but has dropped off and will finish most likely in the top 5. Not bad value for this round. I didn't really worry about QB play for most of the season. Plus, I was able to snag Matt Cassel off the waiver wire when everyone bailed on him in the bye week. I benched Warner in lieu of Cassel yesterday, which helped a lot.

6th Round - Tony Gonzalez - I was using the fill out my roster with starters approach, and I needed a TE. I felt lucky Gonzalez was still on the board.

7th Round - Dwayne Bowe - My biggest reservation was having two Chiefs on my team. Bowe wasn't a gamebreaker by any means, but he consistently delivered 8-10 points a week, which worked well as a #2 receiver or flex in most cases.

11th Round - Derrick Mason - He filled in with some nice weeks rotating with Bowe.

Lucky Waiver Wire Deals (besides Cassel)

Kevin Smith - Someone bailed on this guy too early and now he's a keeper pick for me. Smith saved my ass for the botching of Addai/Rhodes affair. He had some down weeks, while they flirted with his carries and Rudi Johnson. But, when they fed Smith 20 a game, he was low end #1/high #2 and looks to be a good goalline back in the future. He and Calvin Johnson are bright spots on an otherwise dismal Lions team.

Antonio Bryant - He was on and off my roster early in the season, but was permanent by week 8. And luckily for me, he was clutch down the stretch teamed with Johnson.

Matt Cassel - I went through array of backup QBs never planning on using them, but I kept Cassel tucked away after he had been whored around on the waiver wire.

Conclusion

I'm back to the drawing board on RBs, but I'm not the only one who undervalued Williams, Turner, and Forte. And, I'm not sure if there's really any science to it. One thing all those guys all have in common is that they played on rather shitty teams from the previous year. I plan to look a little closer at the schedule flopping the NFL does and see if there's a trend there. Other than that, fresh legs and a decent OL is about all I can figure out.

While the RB rankings weren't of much value, it seemed like all the other positional rankings were. My goal was to shoot for consistency over big numbers. As the season played out, my roster wasn't the strongest at any one position, but from top to bottom, I didn't have as many holes as the teams I played. I had to beat a guy in the semifinals, who was sporting Turner, Brian Westbrook, Steve Slaton, and Chris Johnson. I just got lucky there, but I still put up a nice score to win. More than anything, it seemed like the spreadsheet provided a guideline for me to avoid complete disasters. I made fewer roster moves than in the past, and it appeared the consistency factor was reflected in my team scoring throughout the year. I only had 2 dud games of scoring less than 91 points and averaged 117 points a game over the last 9 weeks of the season. Not sure of most scoring systems, but ours is fairly standard and conservative. I had figured that if you could score 90 points a week, you would be assured a top 2 seed based on results of the last 3 seasons. This is the first year I've used this system and it bore mainly out of frustration over the online rankings. I'm not sure how much it helped, and I assume luck plays more into it than anything. However, I can't discredit that I did use it to draft my two teams this year and won titles in both leagues. I'll keep tweaking the RB criteria and I would like to hear some ideas of how we might create a method to take the madness out of the position.