League Accountability

We as an industry spend a lot of time reviewing our just-finished drafts, but while we’ll occasionally incorporate our experiences from those leagues in our other articles and definitely in discussions on radio shows and podcasts, we often don’t do league recaps. And those recaps that we do are usually from our expert league titles – nice victory laps, and fun to write/read, but usually low on substance. It’s not often that we give you the full picture though – how did we do in all of our leagues?

It’s not as if we’re purposefully cherry-picking, trying to add polish to our overall record. At least, I don’t think that’s the case with most everyone in the industry. Rather I think it’s more of a time allocation issue. We are in a ton of leagues, and many of us cover and play in multiple sports. So we move on to the next league, the next draft kit, etc…

When it comes to our advice, our recommendations, our ratings, we like to say it’s the reasoning behind it that matters. Process is important, we say. And it’s true. It is really important. But you know what else matters? Results! How did our practice translate in our leagues? And guess what, we probably will learn more from our failures than our successes, and each season provides us plenty chances to learn. I’m in 14 leagues this year – here are my results so far.

Z’s Dynasty League: (12-14, 7th/12)

Let’s start with my worst situation. This is my only football keeper league – Brad Ziegler’s dynasty league. I inherited a team two seasons ago, and it was a really bad team. I haven’t made it much better, if at all. An unfortunate trade cost me one of two first-round picks in this year’s draft, and as a consequence I got aced out of all the great RBs coming in this class. My first pick wasn’t until 1.10, and I used it on Anthony Miller. Ok in a dynasty league, but certainly not a home run. I made matters worse by using my next pick on Jordan Wilkins, trying to catch up at RB, instead of either Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson.

About that W/L record – we play h2h with one opponent each week, and also against a league average. There were three franchises clearly punting this season, so finishing one spot out of the playoffs (and money) isn’t so great.

Amici: (6-7, 7th/14)

My original league, one of two (the other being the NFFC) that I want to win the most. All my other leagues are great, but this is the foundation of RotoWire, and my longest-standing league.

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We had a slow draft for the first round or two, beginning the Thursday before Labor Day weekend (i.e., the final draft weekend for most). We also drew for draft slots, and being the defending champ, I had last choice, and got #2, because this league has third-round-reversal. Can you see where this is going?

That’s right, Lev Bell, come on down! I spent the rest of the draft chasing – skipping an elite WR at 2.13, knowing that I had a dead first-round pick for at least one week – instead getting Joe Mixon, who was ok, but not who I wanted. My top WR looks great now – Amari Cooper – but far too late for my purposes. This is also one of the many leagues where I had Marquise Goodwin as one of my top WRs, and when you’re already behind at the position, whiffing here really hurt.

That’s two leagues, two finishes one spot out of the money.

Lesson learned? Take holdouts a little more seriously next time, at least when you have pick 1.2.

Windy City: (9-5, points leader, currently in semis)

This league didn’t start out so great, as I ran on the wrong side of variance early. At one point in the season I was 2-5, yet third in the league in points. I’ve since gone on a seven-game winning streak and took over the points league.

What went wrong? Dalvin Cook at 2.3, Kenyan Drake at 3.10 and Marvin Jones at 4.3 were all pretty bad misses. I lost my tight end (Delanie Walker) a week into the season, too. Cook and Drake revived some if not all of their value, at least.

But many things went right, too, starting with drafting Pat Mahomes. Being patient with Aaron Jones and Nick Chubb really paid off. Just as importantly, we have an important rules quirk – after the draft, rosters lock until after Week 1 – there are no free agent moves until the FAAB deadline of Wednesday night following Week 1. Frankly, the rule is anachronistic – we started this league in the 90’s, and reflects a time when roster knowledge was really uneven. But in this case it really benefited me – I spent my full $100 in FAAB on James Conner – while knowing that there aren’t any $0 bids allowed. I’d have to wait on first-come-first-serve after waivers run in subsequent weeks. But I got a windfall in Conner, albeit one it appears that I won’t have for the playoffs. Still, I felt good about it at the time and obviously a lot better about it now.

Lessons learned? Perhaps downgrade RBs coming off of major injuries the following season (Cook), especially when they’re limited in the preseason. That, and two positive lessons – add depth at RB and stay patient with high-upside backs, and be aggressive early on the waiver wire.

Loan Pickle (previously Stopa Law Firm League): (8-5, 4th seed in playoffs, in semis)

It’s better to be lucky than good – that’s a maxim that’s always been true in fantasy football, and it applies here. I was the 4th seed based on record, not points – going strictly on points, I was 8/14. This was an auction league done in July. It’s a QB-flex, two-TE league. My TE’s were/are a disaster – I paid for Greg Olsen at the auction, and dropped him when he got hurt the first time. Ed Dickson was my second TE.  They currently are Chris Herndon, Mark Andrews and whoever else I get on waivers this week. I paid for Dalvin Cook in the auction. I paid for Carson Wentz before the news came out that he’d miss the start of the season – but at least I got a $1 Nick Foles to fill in during his absence. Sony Michel got hurt in training camp, too.

So what the heck went right? I got Tyreek Hill and T.Y. Hilton at good prices, and flipped Michel the week before he got hurt for Robert Woods – not that Woods has been great since then, but he hasn’t been absent. I ran into Scott Pianowski on his worst week during the first week of the playoffs, too.

I was better in this league the previous two years (including two years ago when I won it) by having a ton of balance. I didn’t really have that balance this year, and will have to do better in next year’s auction.

RotoWire Vegas League: (8-5, 3rd/14, out after first-round of playoffs)

My opponent, Kyle Riley, didn’t have Melvin Gordon available for this game, so he was forced to start … Derrick Henry. Awesome. I would have beaten the other two playoff teams playing this week.

That’s not to say that this was a perfect team that got unlucky. Hardly. My top RB was once again Dalvin Cook, who I took at 2.3, after taking Julio Jones at 1.12. I waited until 5.12 for my next back, who turned out to be ok in Lamar Miller, and then took Tarik Cohen at 6.3. That picked turned out ok, too – both the sledding for both was tough early on. I waited on backs because they were going at a premium, instead going Travis Kelce at 3.12 (yay!) and Allen Robinson at 4.3 (boo!). You can see the full draft in the writeup here.

Big Money: (9-4 but first in points by 200 points)

This is a home league that I joined about 4-5 years ago and haven’t yet won. This year we’re down to 10 teams, and that made this considerably different than my other leagues. It’s full-point PPR, has points for first downs and yardage bonuses, and it’s a QB-flex league. I also got lucky – we drafted two days before the first Thursday game, so I knew that Lev Bell was a big risk at 1.3. After Gurley and David Johnson went before me, I went with Saquon Barkley, because I didn’t have any of him yet. That worked nicely. I also hit on Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Cam Newton (good in this format and for most of the season), Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb and George Kittle. It’s too bad this isn’t a keeper league.

Yet I’m the 3-seed because we have divisions, and lost twice early to the 1-seed, who started off with Gurley. Hopefully I can reach the finals next week and get a rematch.

Scott Fish Bowl #8 – Office 2 Conference, Creed Bratton Division: (10-2, best W/L but 3rd in points)

I ran matchup lucky in this one, getting the bye week for winning the division despite finishing 200+ points behind two players in my division. Then I ran unlucky, or true to my roster’s strength, and got bounced out of the second round of the playoffs in Week 14. Bummer.

I have to dig deeper to find lessons learned from this draft, though. It was a QB flex league where I had plenty of QB depth, even drafting Ryan Fitzpatrick (but not using him in Week 1!). My first pick at 1.2 was David Johnson, so that kind of sucked. But for every bad break like that, I had a good one, like picking up Phillip Lindsay based on his strong preseason and because I had a spot to burn. But Johnson, Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, Austin Hooper, and Deshaun Watson all came up kind of small at the wrong time, and now I’m out.

RotoWire Steak League: (7-6, 6/14, 6th in points)

More importantly, I’m 4/8 in our steak dinner side bet. Top four eat for free, and I have an 89-point cushion over fifth place. Liss is 7th in the steak dinner bet. We go through Week 17, however, so I can’t rest easy.

I got knocked out of the playoffs last week in this one – the paltry output from both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs on Monday night hurt. After losing Devonta Freeman early in this league, I just couldn’t find an adequate RB2, shuffling between the likes of Jalen Richard, Corey Clement, T.J. Yeldon, Ito Smith and similar ilk. I guessed wrong last week, starting Richard over Elijah McGuire and Damien Williams, and that was enough for the margin of defeat.

TeamHUEVOS Invitational(8-5, fifth place)

Another team, another first-round playoff exit. Who am I, Marvin Lewis? This is another 14-team QB-flex league, run by Brad Evans and comprised mostly of industry types, and those that aren’t industry folks are good players too. I lost by a little more than a point to Brad in the first round of the playoffs last week, while starting Anthony Miller over, well, anyone else, that would have put me over the top. I lost A.J. Green for good in that league in Week 13.

This also was an auction league, and I don’t like how I budgeted my money for the endgame, as there are two flexes in addition to the QB. It doesn’t help that my top two RB’s (Dalvin Cook, again, and Jordan Howard) were not elite backs but also weren’t cheap.

What went right? Drafting Jared Goff (except for last week, sigh …) at a non-premium price, and stashing Baker Mayfield with the hope that he would take over sooner rather than later (which he did), and would be worth it. Adam Thielen has slowed, but he certainly was worth the purchase price.

RotoWire Friends: (8-6, 3rd in W/L, 1st in points)

This is just a little 10-team league that the RotoWire founders plus a couple of friends play in with our spouses. For the first time, we put some money up with it. I’m playing my wife in the semis. A handful of the participants auto-draft, others try. Not much can be learned from this league, but it’s fun to do.

2018 Scout League: (11-2, first in points, second-best record)

This is a 16-team league that mostly consists of major league scouts or those in the baseball industry one way or another, including one current MLB player. It’s a full-point PPR league with distance bonuses all over the place, so scoring is high in this league. I had a first-round bye and am now in the semis. I had the fifth overall pick and decided to take Antonio Brown in this one – in retrospect I probably should have taken Saquon Barkley, but Brown has worked out quite well, especially because I paired him with Tyreek Hill at 2.12. We start two RBs, two WRs and two flex spots, and I’ve been lucky to have quite a bit of depth at RB all year to use at my flexes. Plus I made a really good trade, landing Nick Chubb for Trey Burton + Marcus Mariota. Luckily he didn’t insist on getting George Kittle instead. This was pretty much right before Kittle took off over the second half of the season.

NFFC – Beat Jeff Erickson1: (8-5, 4/12 record, 2nd in points)

The points were the key factor here, that earned me second-place money in my “Beat Jeff Erickson” RotoWire Online Championship League.

This draft was done the night of the first preseason games, and it became an inadvertent Zero RB draft. I started off Hopkins/Adams/De.Thomas/Ingram/Ertz – so I didn’t have a usable RB for the first four weeks after five picks. It actually worked out ok, but oh … Tyreek Hill in the 3rd round would have worked out so much better.

The takeaway here was that it’s ok to take what’s given to you – don’t force a strategy. Not many people were starting off with three WRs out of fear of what’s left from the RB pool. You still have to execute properly and get a little luck, but this was a viable team.

NFFC – Beat Jeff Erickson2: (8-5, T2 in W/L, 6th in points)

I was so happy with this draft. I got the #1 overall pick, the only time all season to get that slot, and took Todd Gurley. By this time I was all over Tyreek Hill and got him again here at 2.12. Because it’s 3RR, I waited until the 3/4 turn for my next picks, yet got what I thought were two solid RBs: Alex Collins and Royce Freeman, the newly minted starter for the Broncos. Everything was coming together! I even got Drew Brees at a good price.

Unfortunately, my WR2 and WR3 spots never quite worked out as I had hoped, and the Collins/Freeman combo busted. Of my three NFFC teams, this scored the fewest points and was pretty average despite having Gurley.

NFFC – Prime Time: (10-3, 2nd W/L, 1,940 points – 4th in my league)

I’m a little salty about this team, because I missed out on a cash spot by 20 points and lost Kareem Hunt for the Week 13 finale and didn’t optimize my lineup very well, missing out on a potential 30+ points. One takeaway – this was one of the many primetime drafts done by Chad Schroeder, and if you look at the list of leaders in Prime Time and the OC, his name peppers the list. He’s essentially playing these as a GPP. It’s tough to win the overall prize with one lineup against another player’s 50 lineups, especially when he’s skilled.

But this was a mostly good effort – I started off with Hunt, Davante Adams and then my one Gronk share among 14 leagues. Too bad I didn’t take Kelce – I messed that up. If only I would have taken Thielen, Juju Smith-Schuster or even Amari Cooper there, I would have been so much better off. That turned out to be a critical decision, as I’ve been chasing my WR2 and WR3 slots all season, with another Demaryius Thomas whiff as part of the problem.

Overall “regular season” record: 122-74.
Playoffs?: 10/14, though I’m only alive in half of those.

All in all I’m happy with the season, but if I don’t win at least two leagues from the remaining teams left, I’ll be pretty unhappy.