Monday, February 6, 2012

Commiserating with the Patriots

As a competitor and athlete, I can empathize with the pain that the New England Patriots are feeling right now.  My sport is not playing in the NFL--as far as that goes, I had to settle for performing in the halftime show.

That's me on the left

No, my sport is Fantasy Football, and this year hearts all across the country were broken as the Monkey Moos lost in the first round of the playoffs.  I've long thought of the Monkey Moos as "America's Team" in the sport of Fantasy Football, so the pain I felt was not so much for my team or my players, but for the country, especially the children.

What went wrong?  You can read my whole post-draft post here.  Careful, though: It's dripping with optimism, and that stuff doesn't just wash out.  In a nutshell, every choice I made that I thought was good ended up not being so good.  And everything that I thought was a mistake ended up not really being so bad.  No, really.  Everything.  I'm not exaggerating.  Here, I'll prove it.  Here's the team I drafted, followed by my post-draft analysis.  Italics are what I wrote at the time; regular font is what I'm writing now:

QB Tony Romo, $23
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, $25
RB Felix Jones, $19
WR Hakeem Nicks, $36
WR Calvin Johnson, $47
W/T Lee Evans, $2
TE Jimmy Graham, $16
K Adam Vinateri, $1
DEF Minnesota, $1

QB Kevin Kolb, $4
RB Tim Hightower, $8
RB Ben Tate, $7
RB James Harrison, $1
RB Mike Tolbert, $5
RB Delone Carter, $4
WR Anthony Armstrong, $1

  • I like to stock up on cheap running backs with upside, and I'm pretty pleased with my haul this year
I rolled the dice on injuries, banking that one of my cheap running backs with upside would be thrust into a season-long starting roll due to the guy ahead of him getting hurt.  If Arian Foster had reinjured his hammy, Tate would have been a steal.  If Ryan "Fragile" Matthews had gone on IR, Tolbert may have broken out.  These two guys took advantage of my hope, lighting up the scoreboard in the first few weeks (Tolbert had a 3 touchdown game; Tate rolled off several 100 yard games).  Then they settled in behind the starters on their respective teams, leaving me hurt and afraid of commitment.  Meanwhile, Delone Carter got chances, but appears to just not be very good.  Harrison went on IR with, of all things, a brain tumor.  The big in-season addition to my RB carousel was Jackie Battle, who may be the fourth best RB for one of the worst teams in the NFL.  So much for my "cheap running backs with upside."
  • Felix Jones for $19. Could be the steal of the draft, especially since we get 1/2 per reception. I'm hoping that he turns into this year's Arian Foster (who I drafted last year for $15 or so).
Remind me never to call anyone I draft "the steal of the draft."  Jones was a nightmare, too talented and promising to cut, but never reliable enough to start (and win).  The worst thing was someone swooped in and grabbed his backup ahead of me once Jones went down for an extended stretch, so I had to watch Demarco Murray rack up dozens of points for another team while I stashed Jones on my bench waiting for him to get healthy.
  • Lee Evans for $2. Could be that rare "veteran with upside." Even without exploding, he's probably a good 3rd WR, especially for $2.
Ah, Lee.  The thing that you DID catch in the AFC championship game was a snapshot of the frustration of your season.
  • Kevin Kolb for $4. Some projections have him in the top 12. If I had known he'd fall, I may have gone after a pricier RB instead of bidding $23 on Romo.
I am very, very glad that I did NOT know that I could get Kolb for $4.  $23 for Romo turned out to be a pretty good bargain.  $4 for Kolb turned out to be a waste of $4.  That didn't keep me from starting Kolb a couple of times early in the year OVER Romo.

  • $47 was probably too much for Calvin Johnson. Larry Fitzgerald went for $38, and he's frequently ranked higher than Johnson, especially with PPR. But I really wanted 2 elite WRs, and ended up mis-timing the buying window.
$47 turned out to be a pretty good price for Calvin Johnson.  If I had taken $40 of that money and invested it in Larry Fitzgerald, my team would have dropped from "OK" to "sucky".
  • Having both Romo/Jones AND Bradshaw/Nicks may come back to bite me, both on bye weeks and because, in theory, there's only so many points to go around for each team, and my guys may end up stealing points from each other. I'm hoping for a lot of Romo-to-Jones TD passes. Would 3-4 trick plays with Bradshaw passing to Nicks (or vice versa) be too much to ask?
The problem wasn't not having enough offense to go around for the Giants and Cowboys.  The problem was Jones and Bradshaw getting hurt.  Also, I did not benefit from a single Romo-to-Jones TD pass.
  • Graham may end up being worth $16, but it was more than I wanted to spend. Me and my brother bid-up each other at the end. We both seemed to be eyeing Graham as a late-round sleeper with lots of upside (maybe because our brother-in-law is a die hard Saints fan and swears that Graham is a beast ready to break out). If not for my brother, I probably could have gotten him for $7 or $8 (of course, my brother might be saying the same thing).
Graham was a steal, even at $16.  He was the second best TE in the NFL, putting up one of the best seasons EVER for a TE, and he carried my team (together with Calvin Johnson).
  • Lack of true, stud RB. As I implied, I go for quantity over quality at RB, and hope that someone rises to elite or near-elite status as the season progresses. If, by week 9, I'm consistently losing to guys who get 35+ points from at least one of their RBs, then my plan is not working. :)
OK, so this was an actual problem that I may have gotten right.  But it's still hard to say if Jones and Bradshaw could have been "stud RBs".  They just kept getting hurt.  So the guys I drafted as my starting RBs (Jones and Bradshaw) got hurt, and the guys I drafted to "break out" generally stayed healthy--and on their teams' benches.

So yes, Patriots, I feel your pain.  We'll get them next year (by "them" I mean "a legitimate starting RB to go with our elite WR and TE").


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