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.

Work League Draft: Synopsis

For the first time in 28 years of fantasy football I am participating in 3 leagues, possibly 4, if the group on the forums at Fantasy Football Starters need a 12th owner. I took over as acting commissioner at my work league, which is a standard scoring league on ESPN. We start 9 players with 7 on the bench in our 16 round draft.

I was provided information from Cody, a forum member on FFS who introduced me to an alternative draft strategy, which I wrote about last week. I found the strategy intriguing, so much so I decided to try it in my work league. I figured not all the owners in that league are as up to date on fantasy football as I am, so I could probably pull it off. An hour prior to the live draft we were given our draft slots, I randomly ended up with the #10 pick in our 12-team league. It was setting up nicely to implement this strategy.

The strategy for the first 9 rounds would be: WR, WR, WR, QB, TE, RB, RB, RB, RB. After that point I would either go RB heavy or best player available. I also wanted to secure a back up QB, as well as some depth at WR, even though this strategy would have “studs” in the top 3 rounds. I did take my own recommendation and remained flexible, as the draft was dynamic and I applied changes where I thought necessary.

Round 1: (WR) Roddy White WR ATL

I was hoping Andre Johnson would fall, but after a few questionable picks at 1.01 with Rodgers and 1.04 with MJD being drafted I had some thought of going AJ and White in the first few rounds. That dream was shattered with the #5 pick, leaving me with a very strong Roddy White in the first. I assume he will pull down 100+ receptions this year and go double digits on TDs. He is a can’t miss WR.

Round 2: (WR) Hakeem Nicks WR NYG

Based on league scoring and bonus points, Nicks was ranked higher than Charles Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. I have a bit more faith in Eli Manning at QB, but Matt Stafford has a huge upside, but comes with risk of getting injured. Nicks was on career pace last year when injury derailed him, but I suspect he returns to all pro form immediately.

Round 3: (WR) Miles Austin WR DAL

I was holding out hope that Fitzgerald would continue to drop, but when he was drafted at 3.02 I turned my attention towards Vincent Jackson and Mike Wallace. My hopes were dashed a second time when both WRs were draft leaving me with the option of Miles Austin or Dwayne Bowe. I don’t believe Bowe will be as dominate as he was last year and Dallas looks to have a higher powered offense capable of scoring many points, so I went with Austin.

Round 4: (TE) Antonio Gates TE SD

Originally this round was supposed to be a QB, but after the #12 team took Romo to start the fourth, coupled with Vick in first, as he was using auto draft I was left without a top QB, so I altered my plan and decided to grab the best TE in the league in Antonio Gates. Now that he is healthy he could put up career numbers, much like the pace he was on last year before the foot injury occurred. Usually I won’t go with a TE so high, but I believe his upside and scoring allow his statistics to be on par with some of the top WRs in the league.

Round 5: (QB) Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT

It was Ben as the “best available” at that position when it was time for me to pick in the round. Freeman in TB and Manning in NYG were also left, but felt better taking Ben over Manning. Hopefully with a strong running game and some good WRs Roethlisberger will start the season hot and only get better as the season rolls along. I think he will be just fine with my team built around WRs. I didn’t want too many eggs in the NYG basket, which had me shy away from Manning in the direction of Pittsburgh, although the Manning to Nicks combo might have been worthwhile.

Round 6 (RB) Chris Wells RB ARI

This was crunch time to start round 6 looking for my first starting running back. I was surprised at some of the names that were already off the board, but I was looking to grab a starter and there were a few still on the board. I had been hoping the likes of Blount or DeAngelo Williams would make it, but those hopes were dashed in the 5th round. I had watched Ryan Grant as well, coming off injury and I think a good “sleeper” type back, regardless of all the questionable comments regarding his position. He was snatched jsut prior to my pick which left Chris Wells of Arizona. He might be a worthwhile pick as rookie Ryan Williams went down with a season ending knee injury and Tim Hightower is no longer there. This means Wells must man up and put up some good numbers this season.

Round 7 (RB) Joseph Addai RB IND

Every round the remaining RBs continued to thin out. I was somewhat surprised that owners were still drafting the position and not going for the more plentiful talent at the WR position, so I had to make the best selection I could. I was watching Tim Hightower, Fred Jackson and Joseph Addai. Hightower scared me because of how Shanny uses his RBs, I think it’s safe to assume Hightower won’t make all 16 games as the starter. I was also not completely sold on Buffalo’s Fred Jackson, who has been given chance after chance to win the starting job, but at best it ends up being an RBBC. That left one RB, Joseph Addai, now 4 years removed since his last 1000 yard season and did put up 10 TDs in 2009. He was beset by injury last year, so the 1000 yard mark could be possible.

Round 8 (RB) Marshawn Lynch RB SEA

I deliberately avoided Lynch a few rounds earlier, because I am not sold on Pete Carroll’s offense in Seattle. The QB situation scares me at best and we all recall the one TD run that Lynch had against the Saints. He is now the full time starter and put up 737 yards last year with 6 TDs. I would be happy to see the same sort of numbers this year. He rounds out the 3 RBs I will depend on. I was strongly considering Brandon Jacobs and hoped he would fall to the 9th round. I did not want a #3 RB in a RBBC situation, so I took the chance Lynch will out rush Jacobs and will see more touches of the football.

Round 9 (RB) Rashard Jennings RB JAX

It was a bit of a reach as the talent level was quickly dropping to end the 9th round. I had been watching players like Michael Bush, Pierre Thomas and Willis McGahee, all who are in RBBC backfields. I took a bit of a chance on Jennings because if the high risk factor involved with MJD. If his knee takes one hit, he could be done. There were also rumors on the wire that Jennings will receive a fair amount of carries early in the year, so I believe it was a safe, but somewhat risky pick up in round 9. McGahee probably would have been the safer bet, as he could see 6-8 TDs this year as a goal line back.

Round 10 (WR) Robert Meachem WR NO

I probably should have gone RB one more round and held out for a lower tiered wide receiver, but with all the talk surrounding Meachem this year with Colston slow to recover and continually injury issues with Moore, Meachem seemed to be a good value pick in the 10th round. Burress was also on my list, but I went off what Drew Brees has done the last few years and we all know that the Saints are a passing team, not should I could say that about the Jets.

Round 11 (QB) Kyle Orton QB DEN

I was surprised that owners were stockpiling QBs. Again, much like going deeper with RBs in the middle rounds I was shooting for Kevin Kolb, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel or Sam Bradford. Unfortunately none of them made it to the 11th round and the pickings were getting slimmer. Can’t go wrong with Orton, who started 2010 on record pace. With Tebow taking a few steps backwards in camp Orton should be the starter and with a healthy Moreno in the backfield, Orton could be more consistent this year and hopefully last the season.

Round 12 (RB) Marion Barber RB CHI

After not selecting goal lines in the previous rounds I decided to take a chance on Marion Barber in Chicago. I am not expecting great things from him, but a bye week cover here and there. Value might be a bit higher if Forte gets dinged, but for now he is nothing more than depth.

Round 13 (K) Sebastian Janikowski K OAK

I was surprised to that “Sea Bass” was still on the board as there was a run of 3 drafted in the 13th as well as 4 in the previous 2 rounds. Not sure why owners passed on this leg. He has been hitting them well from long distances in preseason and I was pleased to get him this season, as the Raiders won’t score, which opens the door for another big season for the Oakland kicker.

Round 14 (DST) Dallas

Defenses were thinning out rapidly as well. I was watching about 4 different defenses, namely San Diego and NYG, but both went off the board and I was somewhat surprised to see how high my cheat sheets had ranked Arizona. With the trade of DRC to Philly in return for Kolb and the injury to CB Greg Toler I was leery to think Arizona would really step up play. So I decided to go for Dallas instead. They are probably not better and they were terrible at times in 2010, so it might be a defense vs. match up on weekly basis for me.

Round 15 (WR) Eric Decker WR DEN

It was time to speculate on a few players to close out the draft. Third year WR, Eric Decker has been playing very well in Denver and with Orton back as the QB, the slot receiver might have a bright future. He should overtake Eddie Royal who is still nursing an injury. A late round flier, while maybe he isn’t a “can’t miss” I could have done worse.

Round 16 (RB) Delone Carter RB IND

This was more an insurance policy (HC) for Joseph Addai. While I think Addai can make it through the year, it’s nice to know I have a big upside in Carter who has ran well in preseason. Currently I believe Donald Brown is the #2 on the depth chart, but I don’t suspect that will last long. The team has been “impressed” with Carter and so was I.

So in the end it was a bit more work than I had anticipated using this strategy. It was very important to pay attention to the RBs starting with the 6th round. As FFS forum goer Cody brought up, “I would have scrapped the backup QB and taken a RB in the Meachum slot as well.“I probably should have drafted a RB in the 10th round to give me a bit more “value” at the position than double back with another WR. My 3 starting receivers are solid and will play every week (except their bye week), so depth is not really required.

As I also mentioned I was bite by an owner who was working at the time and had his team on auto draft. Unfortunately it was set up incorrectly and after taking Vick 1.12 the computer drafted Romo 3.12. This would have altered my selection and instead of jumping on Gates in the 4th round I would have drafted Romo, holding out hope that Gates was available in the 5th round. That was the original plan. Considering 3 TEs were taken in the 5th and 6th, chances are high he would have been drafted. So while Romo would have been nice, I think I got a good value pick in Gates.

As FFS moderator James said, “Now just hope that Wells and Addai can score 10 points for you a game and you will be fine.” That is what I am hoping for. I believe my WRs will be consistently high scorers, all with league leading potential and coupled with Gates should have my team winning on a weekly basis.

It will be interesting to watch as I am the defending champion at work and I believe I have built a very competitive team. I am already watching the wire for potential talent that might have an impact during the season. Regardless of what happens I am thankful for the chance to use this draft strategy and implement it successfully, based on paper. Hopefully the season holds true and I can retain “The Priscilla” which is what we have dubbed our trophy.