Some cool things happened in the two months since I published “Fantasy Football: The 24-Year Losing Streak.” Jen’s fantasy league decided to award my book as the “loser trophy” to this year’s last-place team. I am humbled.
But let’s get down to business. I’m following my own fantasy football advice all season long and reporting the results. Here’s the Good, Bad & Ugly from the start of the 2017 fantasy football season.
The Good: A Yip-Free Draft
I got invited to participate in an experts fantasy football league with 13 colleagues from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA). I followed explicitly the chart that appears below and in Chapter 5, “Draft Like a Champion.” The chart shows how fantasy league champions draft by round, dating back 14 years. (Source: CBSSports.com, standard scoring system).
There’s nothing magical about the chart. But it removed all emotion from my draft. For me, that was the magic.
I tend to overthink my fantasy football decisions. That’s an understatement: I obsess over my fantasy football decisions. The chart eliminated hand-wringing and second-guessing. I knew which position I would take every round. I paired the chart with the top 200 list of players from one of my favorite fantasy writers, Dave Richard. When my turn came each round, I knew which position to draft (courtesy of the chart) and which player to draft (courtesy of Dave’s list). It was that simple.
The result? My team killed it in week 1. I scored 156 points, more than any other team in the FSTA Experts B League. The victory was a well-balanced, all-around team effort. Here’s my starting roster:
The Bad: Team Kareem Needs Help
This season marks the silver anniversary of WAFFL — the Washington Area Fantasy Football League. WAFFL is the group of guys, plus one gal, I’ve been competing against for 25 years. They are the inspiration for my book.
This is me, three minutes into the start of WAFFL’s 25th season.
Jen captured the photo, and my frail emotional state, after my #1 RB Kareem Hunt fumbled on the first play of his NFL career. I get emotional about WAFFL. I can’t help it. It affects my decision making. It affects my mood. It affects Jen, who has to put up with my multiple personalities. This is me a few minutes later, after Kareem scored one of this THREE touchdowns:
In my article 5 Ways to Ruin Your Fantasy Team, tip #2 is: “Don’t get personally attached to your players.” Well, it’s too late for me. I’m hooked on Kareem. Seriously. He scored forty-six percent of my team’s total points in week 1. Kareem is unlikely to score three TD’s every game, which means my other players need to step up if I’m going to be competitive in WAFFL.
I’m not the only one who dreams of Kareem. Matthew Berry, another of my favorite fantasy writers, has Kareem as his “Ride or Die” fantasy player of 2017. Berry got Kareem to do this funny 12-second message to all fantasy football owners:
Speaking of bad things, I’d like to address the bad review (two measly stars) that somebody gave my book on Amazon. The guy called my book “simplistic.” That’s fine, I can accept that. I’m a simple man after all. But he crossed the line when he said my book wasn’t funny. Dem’s fighting words.
The Ugly: Waiting is the Hardest Part
In the book I counsel against drafting a QB too early in the draft. (Yes, I know this is simplistic advice. But so is “Have a Merry Christmas.” And nobody gives Santa Claus two lousy stars.)
WAFFL champions usually take a QB in Round 5, according to CBSSports.com data. So I waited. Then I waited some more. Then I drafted Philip Rivers in round 10. Then I panicked.
Did I wait too long? What if Rivers sucks? So I drafted another QB, Andy Dalton, two rounds later. You see what’s coming here, don’t you?
I started Dalton at QB in Week 1. He was awful. I mean terrible. Four interceptions, one fumble and zero touchdowns terrible. Minus two points terrible.
Here’s my team’s box score from that Week 1 WAFFL game. (Mr. Dalton is no longer a member of that team.)
Summary: Week 1 Report Card
I’m off to a strong start in the FSTA Experts League. I’m 1-0 and my team scored more points than any other squad. It’s early but I’m cautiously optimistic. Grade: A-.
Kareem Hunt led me to victory in WAFFL. Hunt scored nearly half of my team’s total points. Unfortunately the rest of my team was average. Grade: C.
Three and Out
1. In the book I interview Brett, who did zero draft prep in 2016 yet still reached the WAFFL Championship game. I asked Brett about his 2017 draft strategy. Here’s what he said:
I did a little more pre-work this year. Not sure what to think of the team yet…every one of my players except Ertz underperformed in week 1. Some severely. Need to be patient and resist knee-jerk reactions. I liked last year’s team better. Funny, the [CBSSports] bot liked my draft this year better.
2. Jay missed the 2016 WAFFL playoffs by tenths of a point. A few years prior, he lost the WAFFL Bowl championship to Commissioner Lou on Christmas Eve. This year, Jay’s luck appeared to change when he nabbed the first pick in the draft. Jay drafted David Johnson. Johnson promptly went down with a serious injury in week 1.
3. Fantasy football keeps our group of WAFFL friends together. Jen and I traveled to Washington, D.C. a few weeks back to celebrate Commissioner Lou’s birthday. We enjoyed tacos and more than a few margaritas with the Commish and other WAFFL pals.
Here’s Commissioner Lou awarding the #1 pick of the draft to Jay: