Some way, somehow, it is year three of Terrible Fantasy Advice.
Now, usually this column tends to be my weekly (cough) “research” slapped together, given an interesting sub-headline for the upcoming week, or season, and given some sort of story to kick it off.
But at least for this one, it can’t be because the story negates the need for research. But first, some background into the league that I find myself in.
The Hopeless Situation started a mere two years ago, and the teams in the league played in the Presbyterian Church conference. It was named such just after the YouTube hit “Star War The Third Gathers: Backstroke of the West.” Yes, that is what they call Jedi Knights.
Members of the league had varying knowledge and care for football, and it was essentially a way to competitively mess with each other. Our first commissioner was selected by a NCAA Bracket Challenge and won thanks to Villanova’s buzzer-beater. Because I was the one who lost because of it, I am still a bit salty.
Since we are not too terribly serious, the league has seen everything from attempted coups to seize power to last year’s kerfuffle in the semifinals. The No. 1 seed lost both Carson Wentz and Josh McCown to injury and looked to the waiver wire. By the time his turn came to pick someone up, all the quarterbacks had been taken off the wire.
So, as we try to figure out how to settle draft order this year, one member came up with the oddest thing yet in the league. How about we draft by putting the top-50 players at a position on a wheel and spinning it?
If that is how we do it, then this column is for nothing. I might as well move on now and get to the actual meat of the column.
Before you draft, know your league and its members
As described above, not all leagues are alike. For instance, one guy in my league will likely pick a quarterback in both the first and second rounds, likely Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Another guy in my league has had good luck with rookie running backs in the first two rounds in Ezekiel Elliot and Leonard Fournette and will likely take Saquon Barkley early. This will more likely come into effect in the later rounds as personal opinion becomes stronger when it comes to the players selected.
A word on the rookies
Over the past few years, rookies seem to have a much larger impact across the board in terms of fantasy production. Elliot and Fournette above are great examples, as is Kareem Hunt, Deshaun Watson (when healthy) and Evan Engram. This year, Barkley looks like the rookie to have. The Penn State product is good on the ground and more than serviceable in the air. With Pat Shurmur at the helm in New York, the scheme could unlock Barkley’s potential. Of the rookie quarterbacks, Josh Allen is the one to own. With AJ McCarron on the mend currently, the gunslinger out of Wyoming is battling with Nathan Peterman for the starting spot. The New York Jets’ Sam Darnold is another one for consideration, but that leads us to another problem…
The Jets quarterback you want to own is…
Teddy Bridgewater. I will admit now, I am a huge Teddy Bridgewater fan. I was lucky enough to be in the building for his NFL debut and then again for his return to action last season. But he is the interesting piece in the Jets’ quarterback situation. With McCown likely to start the season and Darnold the quarterback of the future, Bridgewater will likely get shipped out of New York. With the wide receiver group the Jets have, that may not be a bad thing. Bridgewater is 17 for 23 for 209 yards through the first two preseason games, not bad for his first action in a couple years. He is just one injury to another team’s starter away from a No. 1 gig himself.
Avoiding the committee backfields
A recent trend in the NFL has been utilizing a number of running backs. It is not an uncommon occurrence for some teams to rotate three backs in a game. From a fantasy prospective, this trend is terrible, and it puts more value on the backs that are clear-cut choices. Le’Veon Bell and Elliot are good options. David Johnson’s return from injury in Arizona makes him the only Cardinals back to take. On the flip side, teams like Chicago, New York Jets, Seattle and Washington are places to avoid backs. Only one committee is worth buying into, and that is New Orleans, but only after Mark Ingram’s suspension ends.
Raise your hand if you know who James Conner is. For those of you with your hand up, I am going to guess you are picking Le’Veon Bell with your first pick. Handcuffs are the guys that are not going to see much action until the guy ahead of them goes down. In the case of Conner, he is the backup to Bell, and would get plenty of action should he go down. Similarly, Vernon Davis, behind Jordan Reed, and Dwayne Allen, behind Rob Gronkowski, are guys to look at given the starter’s injury woes. Don’t spend a high pick on these guys, but they warrant your attention.