2012 Yahoo Fantasy Football League

This time around it’s the 2012 Yahoo fantasy football league. Not sure why I agreed to participate in a third fantasy football league this season, but I did. Maybe because it was a good friends running it and I did well last year, putting up the best record and losing in the finals. With that said, this year would be more challenging. It would be the first time I participated in a 14-team draft. I am not one for leagues of this size, as talent does drop off and it tests your skills a manager on how you draft.

As I had done with my previous two drafts, I set up the scoring and starting requirements using the tools at Fantasy Football Starters. It was no surprise that my tier lists for each position were similar in nature to the other two drafts I had participated in. This time around I also used the Fantasy Football Calculator, which has a scenario option that allows you to see what players might be around when it comes to your draft slot. The draft positions were random and awarded 45 minutes before the draft was scheduled to being. I was given #13.

In retrospect I liked where I picked, it would allow me to quick picks, allowing me to stockpile early before waiting for the next round. The only factor that I didn’t like was all TDs (rush, receive, pass) are all scored 6 points. It was no surprise to see owners pounce on the top QBs very early. I decided I would start RB/RB, as it would be slim pickings on the Round 3/4 wrap. Here is how the draft turned out:

Round 1 (13) DeMarco Murray WR DAL
I told myself if Stafford was on the board at #13 I would draft him, unfortunately the owner at #12 took him, which made my decision to go RB/RB that much stronger. I knew it would be a long wait for the next few rounds, so I decided Murray was the best RB available.

Round 2 (16) Fred Jackson RB BUF
Wanting to go QB, I considered Cam Newton for a quick second but decided it would not be a wise move, as it could weaken my chances at a good pool of RBs. I decided to draft Fred Jackson, who was having a great 2011 season until hit by injury.

Round 3 (41) Dez Bryant WR DAL
As he draft progressed I started targeting players for my next two picks, I was shooting for WRs. I added Victor Cruz, Jordy Nelson and Brandon Marshall to my queue and waited. Unfortunately all 3 were drafted, the last two at picked 39 and 40. That left Dez Bryant as one of the higher ranked WRs remaining. Even with his off the field problems I decided to make him my #1 WR.

Round 4 (44) Antonio Gates TE SDG
My intentions were to go WR and grab my second starter. I looked over who was available, including Nicks, Harvin and Wallace, but decided to draft Antonio Gates. He was arguably the 3rd best TE available, I know he would not have made it back and in the same mold as Graham and Gronkowski can put up catches, yards and TDs.

Round 5 (69) Stevan Ridley RB NEP
Watching the draft play out, I figured on adding depth with the 5th and 6th picks. I placed Peyton Hillis and Willis McGahee in my queue at RB. I also thought Eric Decker might make it back, but then one of the owner started popping off about how Decker was Peyton’s favorite and no sooner was that said that Decker was draft. So much for a #2 WR. When it go to my pick, the queue was empty, but Stevan Ridley was still there. Now that he is the starter, he could fill either depth at RB or my flex starter. It was too hard to pass on a starting RB.

Round 6 (72) Philip Rivers QB SDG
I had been watching Philip Rivers continue to slip. Lesser QBs were being drafted, as well as kickers and yes, even defenses. I don’t believe he could have made another round without being draft. I assume last years INTs scared owners off this season. Offensive, he still had a good year, I expect the INTs down and numbers comparable to 2011.

Round 7 (97) DeAngelo Williams RB CAR
Maybe I should have been been surprised to see D Will still available when the draft came back to me in the 7th. Knowing you can never have enough quality RBs in fantasy football I jumped on him without hesitation. While other owners were drafting TEs, backup QBs and defenses I think I got a steal in Williams in the 7th. Hopefully the big money contract he signed will equate to big on the field numbers.

Round 8 (100) Darrius Heyward-Bey WR OAK
Still looking for that #2 WR I settled on drafting DHB. I was hoping for a stronger #2 at the position and while Holmes was still on the board, I don’t like him in that run first offense. DHB has another year with Palmer and a full training camp, hopefully they come together this season and post good numbers.

Round 9 (125) Santonio Holmes WR NYJ
As much as I avoided Holmes he remained the highest tiered WR available. It finally got to the point that as much as I tried to avoid him I couldn’t pass on his potential (8 TDs last year). He ends up being the #3 WR. I don’t plan on using him much this season.

Round 10 (128) Toby Gerhart RB MIN
Another surprise was the lack of drafting the HC for Adrian Peterson. If MIN ends up limiting his roll early on, Gerhart will be the recipient of an increased role. Any setback to Peterson and Gerhart will get called upon.

Round 11 (153) Josh Freeman QB TBB
Freeman sleepwalked most of last season, but I like the changes the TBB offense has made this season, in the rushing game and the receiving game. Schaub and Flacco had been in my queue for a few rounds and there was a quick run on more owners drafting a backup QB. Both aforementioned QBs were drafted and I had no problem picking Freeman.

Round 12 (156) Doug Baldwin WR SEA
Sydney Rice was still on the board, but he hasn’t put forth an inspiring performance since landing in Seattle. I decided to take the WR opposite of him, Doug Baldwin, who was all around better, more consistent and more importantly healthy.

Round 13 (181) Alex Henery K PHI
Highest tied kicker when my pick came. I had considered Greg Zuerlein, the rookie in STL, especially playing in a dome stadium, but felt Philly would score more this season.

Round 14 (184) Atlanta
I put very little thought what defense I draft and play, they don’t score enough points to warrant an earlier pick up in my opinion. I drafted better positional players when other owners were grabbing defenses.

Round 15 (209) Jerome Simpson WR MIN
Another flier I think could be successful this season in new surrounding, Jerome Simpson. While he does have a 3 game suspension, I think he busts out in week 4. He has Harvin opposite of him and the passing game with Ponder might depend on the comeback of ADP.

Overall this is a very solid team when compared to the other 13 teams I will be playing against. Only 4 other owners started RB/RB and looking at their teams, they are well balanced. I am already looking at the waiver wire. One of the surprisingly undrafted players, Mendenhall. I watched, waited and could not pull the trigger on him because of only 6 bench positions. I also believe I have have good RB depth with D. Will coming off the bench.

I am a bit concerned about my WRs, not completely sold on DHB, but I am willing to give him a shot depending on the match ups. I would prefer to start Doug Baldwin, while not a #2 WR, I do believe he will build on the success he had last season. I will be watching the wire more closely for a FA who steps up at the position. I have Holmes tabbed as the WR I would release. I don’t want to sacrifice the RB depth for a WR.

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.

Fantasy Football Team #3

I guess this is really the only way to track more than one fantasy football league, let’s call this Team #3. Yet another Throwball Heroes team looking to contend. I signed up to participate in a friend’s 12-team Yahoo league. Scoring is standard with a few modifications. The draft was 16 rounds, 8 players and 1 defense start each week (QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, 2 FLEX, K, DST). I was randomly assigned the #3 draft slot and here is how the draft went last night.

1.03 Ray Rice RB BAL

Even though we are non-PPR I decided to roll with Ray Rice this season and skip on Chris Johnson, even though he had signed a new contract earlier in the day. While CJ2K might end with better stats, I am taking a chance that he will be slow on the start. Rice has been there since day one and has a new lead blocker, which means he could have a career year rushing and receiving in BAL.

2.10 Hakeem Nicks WR NYG

Things got really weird in only round two when Nicks slipped to me in the 10 spot after Kevin Boss and Joseph Addai were selected. Megatron went just before my decision to draft Nicks. I have been pretty consistent with him drafting him in all three leagues. Not as big named or as flashy as some of the other top WRs, but should have outstanding numbers this season. Feel lucky to get him at the end of round two.

3.03 Peyton Manning QB IND

Maybe the neck injury scared some owners when it was time to draft a QB. No surprise to see Vick, Rodgers, Brees, Rivers  and Brady selected by the end of round two. It was just too hard to pass up a staple in fantasy football named Peyton Manning. Neck injury and all I will take my chances in the third round. Now gives me a top RB/WR and QB. This sort of goes against my personal rule of drafting injured players, but the potential here very high for another successful year.

4.10 Jahvid Best RB DET

I was watching 3 players in particular as this round started; Miles Austin, LeGarette Blount and Ahmad Bradshaw. Unfortunately by the time I was on the board, all three of these players had been selected, but Jahvid Best was still out there, so he ended up being my #2 starter. Again, too bad it’s not PPR as Rice and Best make a nice duo. Only concern with Best is his ability to stay healthy, missing much of last year with turf toe and had a previous concussion already in the pre-season.

5.03 Antonio Gates TE SD

The TE position in the 5th round probably isn’t popular with many owners, sort of like drafting a kicker. The only player I could see taking in this round at TE is Antonio Gates. He is so skilled at his position and can produce some big points, to the degree you could consider him another wide receiver. Look at what he did in 10 games last year. He is now healthy with Rivers and Vincent Jackson, this was one of my better picks, even though it was early in the draft, it was the best available on the board.

6.10 Knowshon Moreno

Not sure how Moreno slipped past so many owners. Maybe they were going off what he did last year. From all the reports he has played well and looked good in pre-season. But we know not to buy into the hype. If he is healthy with Orton back at QB and John Fox at the helm, Moreno could break 1000 yards this season. My only worry is Willis McGahee vulturing some TDs this season and when Fox puts Tebow in to run the option near the goal line. Still Moreno is a quality #3 running back.

7.03 Kenny Britt WR TEN

I was hoping Santonio Holmes was slide as we started this round, but with the first pick he was off the board and I was back comparing a small pile of wide receivers. I had Kenny Britt, Percy Harvin and Plaxico Burress on my short list. I wasn’t fond of the offensive line issues in MIN and McNabb’s ability to get the ball downfield to Harvin. Burress returning after a stint in jail didn’t excite me, so I took the headcase in TEN, Kenny Britt. He is a home run type player with the ability to get down field quickly. He won’t be suspended and now hopefully Hasselbeck can get him the ball…a lot!

8.10 Robert Meachem WR NO

I should have been looking RB in round 8, but four picks prior to my turn Brandon Jacobs was selected. He was the last “big name” running back I had been watching and now that he was off the board I was looking for value. Robert Meachem has been talked about quite a bit this season with Colston a bit slow to recover from last year’s injury and Lance Moore was nursing a groin. This left the door wide open for Meachem who could have a breakout season with Brees in NO.

9.03 Daniel Thomas (r) RB MIA

Never been much for drafting rookie players, as many of them don’t pan out their first year. Thomas has the skills, but is still learning on the job. I suspect he won’t get much playing time early in the season, especially with the more experienced Reggie Bush on the team. He was somewhat of a flier in round 9 in hopes he can get into a RBBC with Bush as the season progresses.

10.10 Danny Amendola WR STL

Another great PPR wide receiver, but even though we get no points for receptions, Amendola still had a great number of targets last season, partly due to Mark Clayton being injured. He is the #1 WR in St. Louis and has a very strong rapport with Bradford at QB. I look for him to only get better and increase his statistical out put this season.

11.03 Ryan Fitzpatrick QB BUF

I jumped a bit down on the tier chart to draft Fitzpatrick over guys like Orton, Sanchez and Cassel. I am hoping Buffalo can put up some good offensive numbers like they did last year, which surprised many fantasy owners and found them scrambling to the wire for this team’s talent. This season I was really just looking for a bye week cover and a player who could be an every week starter if I needed him to fill a full time role.

12.10 Lawrence Tynes K NYG

I might have screwed this pick up. I had forgot Tynes is battling a quad injury and might not be ready for Week 1. I don’t want any leg issues when I am drafting a kicker, but I overlooked the injury and selected him anyway. If he is not ready to play, chances are high I will drop him and pick another kicker off the waiver wire. There is enough talent out there I don’t feel this will cause many issues at all with my team.

13.03 Marion Barber RB CHI

Another running back in new colors is Barber. He continued to slip and I continued to watch him, as he could play a goal line role in Chicago. Give Forte the brunt of the work and give Barber the ball inside the 20s. I can live with that. Right now I don’t intend on Barber starting regularly, but he is a good bye week cover and most likely Forte’s replacement if an injury occurs.

14.10 Rob Gronkowski TE NE

How do 11 other owners continue to skip over Gronky? Round 14! Are you serious? I was very surprised to see him still at the top of my TE cheat sheet in this round. Having Gates I probably didn’t need a #2 TE and goes against conventional wisdom of other fantasy owners. Still when looking at “BPA” (best player available) Gronky was it, even at TE.

15.03 Emanual Sanders WR PIT

Another one of my sleepers was still on the board and I was never really worried he would be drafted. Although it was no surprise another owner jumped on the hype of Antonio Brown, leaving me to draft Sanders. Now over the foot injury I think Sanders will put up good numbers as the season progresses. He adds quality depth to my team.

16.10 Arizona

Many owners put very little thought into kickers, I put very little into my defense. Rarely will a defense mark or break a week or my season. I could probably end up playing match ups all year and get by. Arizona has good match ups the first 3 weeks, opening against a rookie QB in Cam Newton. Their defense was also ranked relatively high, now hoping they can improve on the points against, which is really the only thing worrying me.

So my third and possibly final draft of the season. I was pleased with how it went I like the foundation I created with Rice, Nicks, Manning and Gates, all of whom could be top players at their respective positions. Being a 12 team league, talent did thin out a bit quicker than I am normally use to in a 10 team league, but I feel I maximized my value in each round.

The rookie, Daniel Thomas is a minor concern as well. He has been a bit slow to pick up on the offense, so the potential time share with Reggie Bush might not happen early in the season. Bush has had durability issues and if he is hit with an injury that could open the door for Thomas to have an impact. Thus I am not a big fan of drafting rookies, as I mentioned earlier. Thankfully I do have Knowshon Moreno slated to be a flex starter leaving Thomas and Marion Barber on the bench.

I like the depth of my WRs, Robert Meachem ends up as my flex WR with Amendola and Sanders on the bench with Gronkowski at TE to cover my bye weeks. My starters are solid, big play receivers, but I am somewhat concerned with Britt. I was not really desiring a headcase on my squad, but it came down to talent and what he did last year. While I don’t like his antics off the field, as long as he is the #1 in TEN, keeps out of trouble he could put up some good #2 WR numbers for me.

I have no doubts I will make the playoffs with this team when comparing it to how the other owners drafted. I believe the auto draft guys are already out of luck, as those 5 teams are not going to be very competitive. The other 6 teams have some good players, but are not very well balanced. Then again a balanced team is not always a winning team. Fantasy football does take a dose of luck, so while I believe I have a good team I will take all the luck I can get this season.

Erase $70,000 debt (Bogus Story)

A recent statistic I read (from 1990-1997) mentioned 27% of Americans were in debt, but with increase spending and borrowing (credit cards) that percentage continues to rise. I would be included in any recent statistic, as the purchase of my home in 2004 coupled with the crash of the housing market have put me further into “debt” than where I should be. Add to that the purchase of two cars (one used) over the past few years and the birth of my son in 2005 and debt is something I deal with daily.

While I am in no means near bankruptcy or not being able to pay bills, I read an article on Yahoo this morning about a couple who was $70,000 in debt. Now the story seemed quite logical when you read what the couple did to get out of debt.

Yet the real kicker came when it was mentioned the couple made $140,000! Huh? Even after taxes and putting some money away for savings, how could you NOT live off what you took home? Even if you lived in a city like New York or San Francisco?

Up until that point of the story I was already thinking of better ways to budget what my wife and I bring home monthly/yearly. Unfortunately the story lost a bit of luster after I read their yearly pay. It would have been more impressive to see an “average” family making $50,000-$60,000 a year and what they did in order to pay off $70,000 of debt.