3 Teams. 1 Strategy. No Results.

I should be writing a piece on my mid-season performance in fantasy football this week. Maybe I am being a bit too pessimistic to my approach, but having experienced 29 years of fantasy football I know chances to take home a championship have dwindled this season for a myriad of reasons. This year was the first (and last) year of participating in a 14 team league and having a terrible experience currently 1-7. In my opinion 14 teams is too many. At work I started off well going 5-3, but have drop 3 games in the last 5 weeks. As for the league I manage, the TFL I am 4-4 but in 9th place overall based on total points.

Being 1-7 is tough, now 8 weeks down with 5 remaining, all I would need to win to have an outside shot at a playoff spot. Based on how poorly my team has performed, I can’t even put a positive spin on my team. The loss of Fred Jackson early on hurt me. This injury was followed by Cedric Benson, which left me DeMarco Murray who was injured in week 7 and didn’t play in week 8. Need I mention he was my #1 pick in (13th overall) the draft. To be honest, my team is unrecognizable in week 8 compared to who I drafted.

At QB, Philip Rivers has killed me all season long. I decided to pick up Christian Ponder and start him the rest of the way, as I have long lost faith in the coaching and management of the Chargers. Another Charger who hasn’t impressed, Antonio Gates, who has showed up for exactly 1 game this season. I also had Nate Kaeding before I lost him to injury earlier this year, but made the decision not to pick up his replacement opting for Greg Zuerlein.

Oh players I drafted Steven Ridley has probably been my best performer, but even his play has been inconsistent. Speaking of inconsistency, Dez Bryant was quiet though 3 weeks, but has come to life in 3 of the last 4 games, hopefully this is a positive sign for during a dismal season.

The last few weeks I have picked up Jonathan Dwyer, Chris Givens, Mikel Leshoure and Titus Young. Players who had been jettisoned by other teams to make way for other hot talent on the wire. Currently there are no players on the wire who could turn my season around. I suspect I will finish the season with a 2-11 record. My team has been unable to score, even the victory I had 2 weeks ago was only by a slim 3 point margin. So put a fork in this team, I will play out the season and not play in another 14 team league again.

At work we use ESPN and I am the commissioner for the 3rd year in a row. I won the league 2 years ago and thought I was on the winning track to start the 2012 season. I have been derailed the past few weeks suffering 3 loses and dropping me to 5-3. Still with that record I am in a position to make the playoffs and looking at my remaining schedule I play only 1 team with a winning record. So while the match ups favor me, I just need to see production out of a team that posted a 153 point score in week 5. I know the team can score, but inconsistency seems to have gotten the better of this team the past 5 weeks.

The team is anchored by Drew Brees, who came off his worst performance of the season last night. Injuries to Ahmad Bradshaw and Reggie Bush during the year have slowed their play recently, in which I suffered two of those loses. I don’t see Daryl Richardson as a legit starter for either of these RBs. Given we have only 5 bench spots (12 team league) I am only carrying 3 RBs. Not a wise move on my part.

I am very strong at WR with Eric Decker, Marques Colston and Julio Jones are my regular starters. All have played well this season and more importantly have remained healthy. They are the reason why I have gotten off to a 5-3 start this season. I expect these WRs to carry me the rest of the way. During the bye weeks I have been fortunate picking up Josh Gordon and Chris Givens. At TE I lost Fred Davis to injury, but this year there have been some very good play at the position. I picked up Martellus Bennett and Dennis Pitta during the season and have filled in admirably. Currently Bennett is the start and unless another better TE becomes available, I will run the season with “The Black Unicorn.”

This was another league that I had Nate Kaeding in, with his move to the IR due to injury I went with Shayne Graham initially, but after 2 weeks moved on to Greg Zuerlein who seemed to have more field goal chances. That move has paid off as well…until this week when STL score only 7 points.

My backup QB is Philip Rivers and had thoughts about going to him early on while I put Drew Brees on the trade block, where he has been for 8 weeks with no interest from other owners. I was expecting a #1 RB and still believe he is worth that in return. Maybe as teams jockey for playoff position I will deal Bress and hope to see Rivers turn things around. If not there is always Christian Ponder and Brandon Weeden on the waiver wire. Of the three leagues, this is my best chance at taking a championship.

Finally, the TFL the league that is near and dear to my heart where I have been the commissioner since we christened the league back in 1983-1984. Unfortunately it’s been rough in this 10-team league this season. It’s a league where the main payout is for total points, while the H2H is a separate payout. This allows the possibility of more owners having an interest in the season. Currently I am in 9th place in total points, already 188 points out of the top spot. While that lead isn’t insurmountable, I have a hard time finding those points and making up that lead. After MNF I will be 4-4. Each odd week I seem to win, but every even week I seem to lose. That has been the pattern this year.

I felt this was one of the stronger teams I had built the last 10 years. After drawing the #1 pick I opted to drop to 4th and built my team around Drew Brees with Christian Ponder as my surprise starter as the QB2 every week but one. Injuries to Matt Forte and Reggie Bush put me in a bind early at RB, but the loss of Cedric Benson has put me in a bind. I continue to start Darren Sproles, who like many other players isn’t having the sort of year like he did last year. He has put together 2 good back to back week and the Saints continue to score. The only talent on the bench is Jonathan Stewart and Lamar Miller, who was a last minute pickup last week to cover a bye. Stewart hasn’t been in the starting line up to date.

The best part of this team, the WRs build around Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Dez Bryant. Unfortunately all three have been inconsistent, but at least they have been healthy for the most part. On the bench I have Brandon Lloyd and Mike Williams, both who have seen action in recent weeks to help me win a few games. I need to see more production from Fitzgerald and more importantly Andre Johnson (drafted round 3 and round 4). Of all the WRs I have Mike Williams is having the best season. On a positive note points have been on the increase for Johnson and Fitzgerald, hopefully that trend continues as it will be my only hope. It comes as no surprise that I could be starting 4 WRs the rest of the season.

I drafted Fred Davis and lost him to injury. I picked up Martellus Bennett and Dennis Pitta, much like I did in my work league. At the time of their pick up they were the hottest couple of TE in the league. The past few weeks they have returned to pack in terms of statistics. Bennett has been the starter the past few weeks is well off his early season pace. An omen before week 1 started was the loss of both my kickers, one to IR the other to being cut. I picked up Shayne Graham and Greg Zuerlein. Both have played welled and Zuerlein has been very impressive for much of the season.

I can see my strategy through all three leagues. This strategy didn’t work well in the 14-team league, a draft I did prepare for very well. I figured with the showing I had in this league last year (when it was 12-teams) losing the championship game by 2 points I figured I could build another good team. Unfortunately not getting a good draft position I have struggled all season long.

At work I still feel confident this team will produce and bring me a championship, especially with the weak schedule I have remaining. As long as I can avoid further injury at RB, I should put myself in a position to have a strong run in the playoffs. I will continue on trying to work a deal to trade Brees for a legitimate RB1, no idea if I will have takers. I might start looking at playoff match ups a bit closer after week 8 ends.

The TFL is the tough one to call (10-team league). I know I don’t have enough in my starting line up to compete. If I make the playoffs it will be luck pulling me through. While I have big names, I don’t believe they will impact my team as I anticipate. With the exception of week 8 I had surpassed 100 points each week, but no longer is 100 points the standard, it’s more of the low end average. So I ride the remainder of the season out performing my commissioner duties and look towards our 30 year draft in Las Vegas next year.

2012 ESPN Work League Results

This was the second of two fantasy football leagues I have participated in the past 4 years. While I am a 29 year veteran of the game, it’s only been recently that I have started participating in multiple leagues. I don’t get the thrill and excitement off adding more leagues, as I usually lose interest in one regardless of how well that team is doing. This year my 2012 fantasy football draft results, better than last year, but I have some work to do.

I am acting commish for the second straight year in the ESPN work league we call Down with OCC. I won the league in 2010, figured I would repeat as champion last year I used a WR/WR/WR/TE/QB strategy in the first 5 rounds. Unfortunately I was beset by injuries and I could not make the ground that I had lost. I learned quite a bit using an alternate draft strategy. While I am still open to alternate strategies, I believe I would have to invest more time in order to make it successful.

With the random draft lottery, I received the #4 pick (12-team league). I believe I would have fared better at 5 or 6, but I knew I would get my first pick with the #4 slot. While this league is different than my CBS league, there were a few and unexpected draft selections. My strategy was similar to my first draft. I was hoping to start QB/RB/WR, back to my old reliable strategy. Here is how the draft played out:

Round 1 (4): Drew Brees QB NOS
Hindsight being 20/20 I probably should have gone McCoy, but I didn’t have a feel for how the QBs would come off the board. I decided to jump the guy and grab Drew Brees to anchor my team.

Round 2 (21): Ahmad Bradshaw RB NYG
“The best available” RB was what I had to fall back to and we were only in the 2nd round. I knew RBs would go quick, but settled on Bradshaw to be my #1 RB. I do have a minor injury concern (hand) with Bradshaw.

Round 3 (28) Julio Jones WR ATL
I was very surprised that other lower ranked WRs came off the board before Jones. When round 3 came back I was quick to grab Jones as my top WR. While he might be a bit unproven, he is slated to have a big year in the ATL.

Round 4 (45) Reggie Bush RB MIA
I was pleased with this pick in my other league, but not so thrilled with it as my #2 RB. Gore and McGahee were the other two RBs I was considering, in fact I thought McGahee might make it back to me in the 5th round, but was selected two picks later.

Round 5 (52) Marques Colston WR NOS
It was a toss up in the 5th, as I had queued up Colston, Ridley and Hillis. I thought it was a round too early for Hillis, so it came down to Colston and Ridley. Having drafted Bush a round early, I wanted to round out my starting WRs and went for the combo and drafted Colston.

Round 6 (69) Eric Decker WR DEN
Two names were on my list this round, the aforementioned Hillis and Decker. Unfortunately my decision was made for me when Hillis was selected prior to my pick in this round. I was targeting Decker, thanks to how he has performed with Manning at QB. I look for a big year from Decker.

Round 7 (76) Philip Rivers QB SDG
My biggest mistake in the draft, but it could also be my biggest gain. I was none too impressed with the RB names I was seeing on the list; Rdman, Stewart, D, Brown and Benson. I considered a TE, but knew Fred Davis would still be on the board a few picks later. I kept glancing at Rivers name over and over. I didn’t need him and it was a poor pick, but I took him. Now I hope to trade Brees or Rivers, more likely Brees for a #1 RB.

Round 8 (93) Donald Brown RB IND

I came back in the 8th round and laid another egg with Donald Brown. I am not impressed with his running abilities. Hopefully Luck can be productive (for a rookie) and move the ball, this will help Brown on the ground. Still not pleased that Cedric Benson was taken just before me.

Round 9 (100) Fred Davis TE WAS
He was the only TE I was targeting, knowing full well I was not going to get Gates, as I had not planned on drafting a TE until after the 5th round. I like Davis, especially with Bob3 in Washington, hopefully he can quietly put together a solid year.

Round 10 (117) Nate Kaeding K SDG
Too early for a kicker, but I had to start looking in order to round out my starters. I love Kaeding for San Diego, he is money and very accurate. He was also the highest tiered kicker when the draft got back to me in the 10th round.

Round 11 (124) Eagles D/ST
I have no interest, nor did I put any thought into my defense. Philly was the highest ranked defense on the board, so I drafted them. I decided not to run with a backup defense this season.

Round 12 (141) Darrius Heyward-Bey WR OAK
DHB really slipped in this league, it appeared as owners were completely ignoring OAK receivers. I was excited to see DHB in the 12th. I believe he will have a good year, now with a full off season with Carson Palmer under his belt. I still believe he is a strong sleeper candidate.

Round 13 (148) Evan Royster RB WAS
Looking for depth and wanting a ride on the Shanny-Go-Round I drafted Royster. He finished last year strong, but picked up a knock, reports are he should be okay week 1 of the season. Let’s hope.

Round 14 (165) David Wilson RB NYG
Wilson burst onto the scene this year challenging for a starting job. He has excited through out preseason and will be the #2 for the NYG. He could cut into Bradshaw’s carries. My only handcuff this season.

Overall it was not my worst draft ever, but I am not pleased with my running game, it lacks even with Bradshaw as my #1. I don’t fear he will be more 2010 than he was 2011, when he was injured, but he does have Wilson willing and waiting. I have put Drew Brees up on the trade block, but will only entertain offers for Rice, Foster or McCoy. I would be fine with running the season with Rivers at QB, trading Brees and getting a top RB.

I like my wide receivers with Jones and Colston as my starters, along with Davis at TE. Decker ends up starting as my flex at WR. Week 7 is a bad bye week for me, hopefully by that time I will have made some changes to improve my team. Right now I am thinking maybe middle of the road in this league. I might make the playoffs, but I need to address my RB issue.

The 6th Thought: Going Vegan

We’re talking about these vegans and most vegans don’t have a lot of muscle mass.

-Hugh Douglas on Arian Foster “going vegan”

ESPN gets and ‘F’ all around when it comes to speaking about Houston Texan’s all pro running back, Arian Foster and his decision to go vegan, just a month before training camp starts. Stephen A. Smith, Hugh Douglas and Skip Bayless need to research the topic of a plant-based diet before making assumptions and talking nonsense. These three talking heads are embarrassing. Watch the video on ESPN.

10 vs 12

I will never claim “I know it all” when it comes to fantasy football. I do consider myself “accomplished” and “experienced” when it comes to drafting and managing a team. On the flip side I think I am strong commissioner, knowing the ins and outs of how to successfully run a league. I think our league, which celebrated 28 years this season is a testament to that. Unfortunately I think I failed myself and the other 11 owners this season when I took the reigns of our work league.

For many of those 28 years we were an 8-team league. Early in the 1990s we decided to expand the league and bumped league by 2 teams for a total of 10. This year in our work league as defending champion I was in charge of setting the league up and running it. In most respects I feel I failed.

First off we used ESPN to run our league. Nothing against their league software, it was fairly easy to navigate and set the league up. Unfortunately never running a 12-team league I structured the league as if I were running a 10-team league. While the problems were not initially glaring, as the season wore on it became evident where the break down was.

First off we used the standard 1/10 and 1/25 scoring with 6 points for all TDs and 4 points for TD passes. We drafted 16 rounds, for a total of 192 players. Needless to say by the end of the draft some teams were reaching for players. I suspect a few teams had not done their homework and prepared well enough. Even after the draft the problems weren’t evident.

Once the season kicked off the waiver wire became heavily used. Never being a big fan of the wire, I like teams to be built on trades and the draft. I feel the wire can easily be abused to build your team if you have drafted players that don’t pan out or get injured. With that said, it wasn’t but 8 or 9 years ago we adopted the waiver wire to the league I manage, while not happy with it, many of the owners do like it. The same holds true for the work league I managed this season.

The failure came when I set the league up. If I knew (which I should have) just how thin talent would get on the waiver wire, I probably would have implemented maximum players at each position. No reason for some teams to stockpile 4 QBs and other teams to pack on 6 RBs (even though I was one of those owners). None of these owners were playing “outside of the rules” and were just using them to their advantage. In order to keep some talent on the wire I think the league would have been better off with a maximum of 2 QB, 4 RB, 4 RB, 2 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST. This would drop the total draft to 14 rounds or 168 players leaving a well equipped player pool from which to draw from.

These two actions alone would have changed the dynamics of the league as owners would need to make important decisions during the bye weeks to abandon a kicker or D/ST in favor or a starter. I am sure there would have been teams to hold on to their top defense and take a zero, which could result in the loss of considerable points. Kickers, outside of David Akers, who is the top scorer in one of my leagues are only separated by 20 points, positions #2 through #9. Unless scoring were weighted more heavily for kickers, finding a bye week replacement or rotating kickers on a weekly basis won’t make or break your fantasy team.

The last issue was the fact that leagues like Yahoo and ESPN allow a commissioner to “freeze” players draft in the first rounds and not allow them to be dropped. As luck would have it nobody in our league did that, but there were some “questionable” trades made. My policy as a commissioner has always been to approve all trades, figuring owners will want to get the best deal for their team. Unfortunately I don’t know the owners at work as well as the friends I have had in my league for 25+ years. Next year it will come down to each other putting a vote in to veto a trade. That move alone this year would have had repercussions on outcome of the H2H season.

Come next year if I am asked to run my league at work again I will change some of the variable, if not all of them. Hell, I might even make it a decimal scoring system, just to see how well that works. But looking back on this 12-team league it was a learning experience. While no one really cares how I did the dynamics are considerably different when you expand your league from 10 teams to 12 teams.

A Tale of 3 Teams

This is my 28th year of fantasy football, but the first time I have participated in three leagues (CBS Sportsline, ESPN and Yahoo). It was only 2 years ago I decided to start participating in a league at work, until then I was moving through the fantasy world with blinders on, so to speak. I have said it countless times on here and at the Fantasy Football Starters Forums, but since subscribing to the Championship Package, I feel I have gained an new insight into fantasy football and yes, after 27 years have learned new things.

This year I am strong in two of the three leagues. At work (ESPN) I have just won 3 games in a row and now sit at 3-1, on top in my division and 7th overall in total points (12-team league). The newest league was set up by a friend at Yahoo, while I had to draft over the Internet I am currently undefeated at 4-0, ranked 3rd overall in total points (12-team league). Finally, the league I manage, my team is struggling at 1-3, last place in my division, but 5th overall in total points (10-team league).

The Yahoo team has faced the most adversity, as I drafted Peyton Manning, Kenny Britt and Antonio Gates. Currently Manning and Britt are lost for the year and things are not looking good for Gates. I do believe this team is a testament to a strong draft, but smart moves, 12 waiver claims and 11 free agent transactions, second only to another team with 24 total moves. Up until participating in my work league I did not really use a waiver wire on a regular basis. Coming from the “old school” I felt a drafted team could compete without needing to hit the wire like a drunken sailor. I have changed my tune now.

While I still place a big emphasis on the draft, the moves I have made did not impact me as much as I thought. Eric Decker was picked up week 1, but not played until week 2. Last week I picked up Dan Bailey (K DAL) and Chicago D/ST. We will see how the additions of Matt Hasselbeck, Nate Washington, Issac Redman and Dexter McCluster as we enter the BYE weeks. Anything less than a championship in this league will be a disappointment.

Yahoo Team – Throwball Heroes
QB: Fitzpatrick, Hasselbeck
RB: Best, Rice, Moreno, McCluster, Redman
WR: Decker, Washington, Meachem, Nicks, Amendola
TE: Gates, Gronkowski
K: Bailey
DST: Chicago

At work (ESPN league) I drafted using an alternate strategy, drafting WR/WR/WR/TE/QB before drafting a RB. While I did lose my first game (by 17 points) I have come back strong winning the last 3 to pull into a tie for first place at 3-1. As the defending champion I have to live up to the expectations of last year, so this strategy I felt I could get away with. Unfortunately I lost Miles Austin for a few weeks and Antonio Gates, both who were vital top 4 draft picks have left me a bit thin.

While I have been adding and dropping players, it’s been more speculation than anything else. I picked up and just today dropped Steve Slaton for the Titans DST. I added Stevan Ridley as a possible future play to help strengthen a “weak” (Addai & Wells) RB duo. I also picked up Bernard Scott, anticipating Cedric Benson’s suspension, which hasn’t panned out yet, so I ended up parting ways with him for Jared Cook to help cover my TE bye week. I still feel very good about repeating as champion, even using an alternative draft strategy.

ESPN Team – Throwball Heroes
QB: Roethlisberger, A. Smith
RB: Addai, Wells, Ridley
WR: Nicks, White, Austin, Decker, Meachem
TE: Gates, Cook, Watson
K: Janikowski
DST: Titans, Steelers

Finally my league, the TFL where just 2 years ago I was the champion, but after 4 weeks I am 1-3 and wondering what I need to do in order to win. This league we can start 2 QB on a weekly basis, which meant by round 2 most of the top QBs were drafted. It’s no surprise that teams with 2 good QBs are being carried by this position, not the RB position. I was not as fortunate when I drafted opting not to grab a second QB sooner. So far 2 games have been good for Sanchez, but when he is bad, he is not worth a fantasy start.

Of the three drafts I participated in, I felt this was my strongest team. I had good depth at RB and WR and actually drafted smart. Maybe Sanchez wasn’t smart, but at the time he was the best available player. Still 118, 127, 151 and 121 are all good point totals, but only week 2 was it good enough to best my opponent. Logic would say drop Sanchez for another starting QB. The only name available, Curtis Painter, I don’t see him as an upgrade. The only waiver claim to date was drop Javon Ringer for Eric Decker. With Danny Amendola most likely done for the year I will be looking to add depth at RB or WR. If I want to buy into the Victor Cruz hype I can add him for $10.

I don’t feel the wire is where I need to look though past Amendola. I am not fond of tossing $10 (or more using an FAAB system) speculating on players. Unfortunately the performance of individual players are completely out of my control. I could look at packaging a RB/WR for a QB upgrade, but it would decrease my depth at those positions. Maybe with the BYE weeks starting I will be able to buy a break and cut into the lead of the top three point leaders in our league. It could just be a string of bad luck, since that is a component of fantasy football that is often overlooked since we can’t control it.

CBS Sportsline Team – AWOL
QB: Sanchez, Vick
RB: Best, Jacobs, McFadden, Moreno, Helu, Moreno
WR: S. Johnson, Decker, Nicks, Meachem, Sanders, Williams (TB), Amendola
TE: Finley, Pettigrew
K: Janikowski, Feely

Regardless of how I look at it I still feel I am having a good year overall in fantasy football. Currently 8-4 combined in all three leagues, but even the 1-3 league isn’t a bad team, just some back breaks and running into some hot teams early. Of the three leagues, the CBS league has the most work to do, but really there are not many moves I am looking to make. Hopefully things turn around and I start seeing more wins to offset the hole I have myself in.