Twitter exploded recently after comments about how “fantasy football is making this generation of football fans dumber than ever.” Fantasy football players do tend to overreact about players more than their non fantasy-playing friends, but most fantasy ballers do understand the simple concept that NFL coaches are not coaching for our benefit! But every once in awhile, it does pay off to point out how fantasy football teaches us reality.
FitzMagic Era Ends Soon
If you didn’t love the post game press conference with Ryan Fitzpatrick doing his best Conor McGregor imitation, then you simply don’t love life! Question: Is any of that stuff yours? Answer: The chest hair is mine. Who doesn’t love a 7th round quarterback from Harvard that has survived 13 years in this league stepping in as a reserve to throw for 819 yards and 8 touchdowns and running for one more? But do we REALLY expect him to throw for 6,400 yards and 64 touchdowns this season? Of course not, otherwise he wouldn’t still be available in 20% of ESPN Fantasy leagues right now. Expect one more big week from FitzMagic against a woeful Steelers defense, but then expect him to come back down to Earth or even find the bench when Jameis Winston returns from his suspension.
Mahomes Can’t Be This Great (Or Can He?)
Sometimes predictions in fantasy football based on limited data make you look like a genius, but this one was way too easy. Mahomes was the 16th best QB with an Average Draft Position of 112th. Last year, Alex Smith managed his way to 4th best QB in fantasy football, but that was with Aaron Rodgers missing half the season. Even a pessimistic look at his potential had him ranked as a top-8 QB using my methodology. The first two games have been magical for Mahomes, with 10 touchdowns, but his 582 yards ranks him just 10th best so far. Expect a drop in the touchdowns with an increase in the interceptions, and the yardage indicates he should meet my top-8 expectations, even after returning to Earth.
Big Drop-Off After Top-4 RBs
All during the fantasy football draft season we heard that there were four stud running backs, then a huge drop-off in talent after those four. After two weeks of the season, there are four running backs with over 40 fantasy points using standard scoring. Todd Gurley is the only one of the four that was forecast to be one of the top four. James Conner proved it is “Plug and Play” with any above average running back in Pittsburgh, while Alvin Kamara and Melvin Gordon have lived up to expectations so far, even though they were RB5 and RB9 respectively, according to Average Draft Position. 11.6 points separate the 4th and 5th best RBs so far, with the next 11.6 points getting us down to Dalvin Cook in 26th place. This teaches us to dissect the offenses when picking running backs, with the offenses in Arizona and Dallas keeping two of the “Big Four” way down this year.
McCaffrey Hype Versus Reality
Christian McCaffrey is one hell of an NFL player! CMC is not as valuable as a building block for your fantasy football team, as the 17th best player and 11th best RB as forecasted by Average Draft Position this year. “CMC will see a huge increase in workload making him one of the top running backs in fantasy football” was the almost consensus opinion by the experts this year. Despite averaging five more targets this season versus last, he has only averaged nine rushing attempts, which is only two more than last season. CMC is the 17th best RB right now in fantasy points in non PPR leagues. In PPR, he is 7th best, but that is two spots below Chris Thompson, who was drafted 81 spots lower. CMC’s forecast as a potential top tier RB1 was based on more carries, and we see that is not happening at all, which is why you IGNORE preseason statistics! He is a solid RB2 in standard scoring, with the potential for a big week when he finds the end zone.
DeSean Jackson Number One?
Fantasy statistics after just two weeks worth of data can be shocking. DeSean was the 59th wide receiver off the board this year, at pick number 167. Many forecasted him to be the third-best WR on his own team. But this is where a few big plays can seriously skew the points in a small sample size. 48% of his yards came on two plays! DeSean has caught all nine of his targets too, while last season he only caught passes 56% of the time he was targeted, which also happens to be his career average. Assuming he reverts back to averages on percentage of passes caught, he should revert back to being about a 30th ranked WR by the end of the season. That is one heck of a value.
Tyreek the Freak
The other wide receiver making the highlight reels and off to a great start as the third-ranked WR in standard scoring is Tyreek Hill. Despite being 4th in fantasy points in standard scoring last year, Hill was being drafted as the WR10, at an Average Draft Position of 28th. He was 15th in his rookie year, despite only being on the field for six games. Making big plays is what he does, and since his career average is 71% of targets caught due to the short routes run and yards after catch produced, his two game start to 2018 is close to where he should be for the season barring injury. Tyreek the Freak is remarkably consistent for a “Big Play Guy,” scoring starting WR1 numbers 48% of the time in his first two seasons when he gets 30 or more snaps in a game, which is second only to Antonio Brown.
Never get carried away by a fast or slow start for your fantasy football studs! Players tend to eventually live up to the back of their football cards over an entire season. Opportunity leads to success in fantasy, so judge a player more on those numbers instead of the big plays. Each week I will break down some of the statistical anomalies in fantasy football so you can manage your team wisely.