Cheers & Jeers: a Look Back on the 2016 Fantasy Football Season – a FF Podcast Network Collective
The following article is a collaborative effort by multiple fantasy football gurus in the Fantasy Football Podcast Network, of which, SkullKing Football is a part. This is a look back on the good/bad weeks, good/bad calls, great/terrible draft picks, etc. Don’t forget to also check out these other fantastic websites and podcasts that SkullKing has partnered with this season!
Mo from The Pyromaniac Podcast – www.pyromaniac.com
Trends come and go in this fast paced world of ours. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… the pet rock, the band – Hanson, David Hasselhoff, Urkel, Pop Rocks, mood rings, David Hasselhoff again, pegged jeans, the mullet, the macarena, David Hasselhoff (come on Germany, seriously!), Gary Coleman, dapping (enough already), the Boz, and finally Garbage Pal Kids. Well, the same type of trending occurs in fantasy. However, the concept of drafting a QB late, the notion of streaming, can officially be declared a success.
In a year in which the fantasy pundits will debate the validity of “zero RB”, the benefits of QB streaming has with stood the test of time. In fact, for the past several years, there have been at least 40 different QBs that have finished inside the top 12 for a given week. Take a look at Cam Newton. He was fantasy’s best QB in 2015. After the 2016 fantasy championships, he is ranked as the 17th best QB. While posters of Screech have not seen a bedroom wall for over a decade, the benefit of targeting a QB late in your draft is certainly a strategy to employ in 2017. Consider this, every week on the Pyro Light Fantasy Football podcast, I selected one official QB that was available on at least 50% of NFL Fantasy waiver wires. Tallying my picks up from weeks 1-16, if you took my advice, you would have finished with fantasies 7th best QB. Not only is streaming a QB viable, I dare say it should be a weapon employed in your fantasy arsenal going into next season.
Things can look pretty bleak when you have literally been stabbed in the back, and your “friends”, your brothers in black have left you for dead, bleeding out on the cold, white snow. Alright, so the fantasy season perhaps is not as bad as things once looked for Jon Snow, but things were fairly grim.
Woa to yea who do not recognize power in numbers. For example, looking at fantasy relevant offensive positions, there were only 13 teams that were in the top 10 for at least two fantasy spots (QB, RB, WR, TE). That means, well over 50% of the NFL teams failed to place inside the top ten for more than one fantasy position. So, I give a plethora of fantasy owners a defiant BOOOO! In the NFL, unless you have a good QB, your WR play is going to suffer significantly. If you only have a running game, then teams will be able to stack the box and ultimately shut you down (Yeah, I’m looking at you LA). For far too long, there has been this fear of drafting multiple guys from the same team for fear of cannibalization. That is the very archaic thinking that I am jeering. Think about it, for every first down your WR gives you, that is three more downs to produce fantasy numbers for your TE. For every ten yard catch your TE delivers, it is that much closer to the red zone for your RB. So I say Jeers to those owners that draft talented players that are on an island, they are their teams ONLY fantasy relevant talent, and therefore, easy for defenses to key in on and stop. Out of the top 10 RBs, only 2 (McCoy and Howard) are on teams that do not have any other top 10 fantasy relevant players. Out of the top 10 WRs, only three are on teams that positionally, have not other top ten rankings (the Bucs, the Giants, and the Seahawks). The concept of cannibalization is a thing of the past, and I say “Shame! Shame! Shame!” to you fantasy owners who are not targeting multiple players from the elite teams. Indeed, there is Power in Numbers!
Jared Chastain, Co-Host of The County Fantasy Sports Podcast – www.thecountyfs.com
I view my utmost cheer from an analytical perspective rather than as a player of fantasy football. In February I was on the Fantasy Life App and created a post. The topic was David Johnson. I had asked the other users if they thought he would be a top 3 running back in 2016. The responses I received were roughly an 80/20 split in favor of no. Some called me crazy. Some said he would be a top ten back but had no real belief that he could exceed that. When analyzing DJ this early offseason it seemed obvious he would be involved in both major aspects in 2016. I viewed him as a player with a bell-cow mentality that also possessed the versatility needed to be a successful pass catcher, thus making him a surefire three down back. Averaging 18.6 standard points on 21 touches in his final five regular season games, and with Palmer and Fitzgerald aging it seemed ideal to me that Arizona would rely heavily on a player with DJ’s skill set as much as possible to ensure they maintain the level of success they had encountered since Bruce Arians took over. Hats off to David Johnson & Arians for proving me right.
My biggest jeer dates back to the conclusion of the 2015 season. I was 5-6 in my hometown league, which I am the commissioner of, and needed to win out to make the playoffs. I didn’t think I stood a chance so I traded away AP for a future pick. When the season concluded I realized not only would I have made the playoffs if I had kept Peterson, but I would’ve won the league. I facepalmed and decided to move along. At this year’s draft I used my acquired pick on ARob when Zeke was still on the board. I had been banging the Zeke drum all offseason, declaring he would be a top 5 back since approximately the day he was drafted. I decided to go against my gut to choose the “safer” option. To make matters worse, I used my following pick on Keenan Allen while Evans was available, which happened to be my gut call. In a nutshell I missed the playoffs, and my case of bad timing cost me two championship caliber players and replaced them with arguably the biggest bust of the 2016 season and a player who didn’t play more than a half of football.
Ryan Skolrud, Founder of SkullKing Football, LLC – www.skullkingfootball.com
As a fantasy football guru, I play in many leagues every year. I promised my wife that I would cut back this season, so instead of 7 leagues, I played in 5, lol. My “Cheer” and “Jeer” just so happen to be from the same league.
In one of my leagues, we have a $60 entry fee, $50 into the season long pot divided between the top 3 players at the end of the year, and $10 into a side pot for the highest scoring single week of the regular season. I had finished first and third in the first two leagues of its existence, but had never come close to the single week high score, until Week 3 of this year when the stars perfectly aligned. When I finished my draft for this team, I knew that I had a chance to put up a ton of points every week. It just so happens that Week 3 was when it would all come together. Marvin Jones went 6/205/2, Mike Evans went 10/132/1, AJ Green, Tyrell Williams and Dennis Pitta hit projection, and Mark Ingram and Charles Sims combined for 132 rush yards, 10 rec., 99 rec yds, and 2 TD. Matthew Stafford also contributed to the points fest with the help of Jones, going 385/3/1. To top it all off, New England’s defense foreshadowed the extreme inefficiency that would plague the rest of Brock Osweiler’s 2016 season. In the end, it was a great week. In a multi-bonus, PPR league I finished with 273 points when the average weekly score for the league was 174 points.
In Weeks 1, 3, and 13 of the fantasy season I broke 210 points in the above mentioned league and went 2-1 in those three weeks. Unfortunately, I went 2-8 over the other 10 weeks of the season. There were a lot of reasons for the poor performances of my team in those 10 weeks. I dealt with injuries as AJ Green ended his season in week 11, Charles Sims went on IR for 8 weeks, Danny Woodhead tore his ACL in week 2, Antonio Gates had issues staying healthy and then trying to fight off Hunter Henry for productivity. However, There was a fair bit of mismanagement on my part as well. Jay Ajayi was on my bench for both of his 200 yard games during the regular season. Isaiah Crowell and Latavius Murray would both put up RB1 performances every week, as long as they were on my bench and not in the starting lineup. Marvin Jones decided to disappear for the remainder of the season after that Week 3 breakout game. Willie Snead made sure to lose a ton of production to rookie WR, Michael Thomas. And in one of the weeks that I needed him most, Mark Ingram lost a fumble on his first carry after a gain of 5 yards and was benched for the remainder of the contest in favor of Tim Hightower, netting me a whopping total of -2.5 points. This was the worst season in my fantasy career. But everyone has seasons like this every once in a while, so I am looking forward to bluer skies in future seasons.
Johnny Slokes (@johnnyslokes) & K-mill (@kmill5thdown), The 5th Down Podcast – www.the-5th-down.com
The 2016 fantasy football season has come and pass before our eyes. Now we are going to look back on a couple of cheers (good) and a couple of jeers (bad) players this year. We’ll also pick one colossal bust and another player that suffered from injuries.
Surprise Players of the Year
Johnny Slokes: Jordan Howard – How great has this guy been? 9 games over 100 yards from scrimmage, 7th in the league in rushing yards with 1,178 with another 298 receiving. He only needs 61 yards to break the Bears rookie rushing title. Waiver wire darling of the year.
K-Mill: Michael Thomas – In a year with a lot of focus going towards Laquon Treadwell and Corey Coleman, it was Michael Thomas that out produced both of them. Finishing at WR11 in PPR scoring, has 8 TDs and was either drafted late in drafts or was found on the waivers.
The Busted and Bruised
Johnny Slokes: Allen Robinson – What do Rishard Matthews, Garcon, Crowder, Pryor, Mike Wallace, Thielen, Kenny Britt, Tyrell Williams, and Davante Adams all have in common? They all have more PPR points than Allen Robinson. Certainly it was going to be hard to duplicate 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 TDs but 68 receptions for 801 yards and 6 TDs is not what we had in mind.
K-Mill: Keenan Allen – I know me and Johnny were both high on Keenan this year and it’s just terrible that he loses another year of his prime and another year with the aging Philip Rivers. If you were one of those people that took Hopkins in the first then followed up with Keenan, it was probably a long year for you.
We will have our full rewards show later on this week to highlight more players!
Kevin Cutillo (@wallycentral), FLAFFLHouse Podcast – www.flafflhouse.com
There were a lot of great things that occurred throughout the 2016 fantasy football season for which we could give a solid round of cheers. I think for most people who won a championship this year though the cheers would start with having one of the big three running backs on their roster: David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell. For those of you who listen to the FLAFFL House podcast, you know our podcast started from a league (The Fantasy Life App Fantasy Football League…AKA FLAFFL) and in that league, which is a typical half point PPR format, those three guys finished 1st, 5th and 9th respectively in scoring (quarterbacks included). That’s why my cheers doesn’t necessarily go out to those running backs but more to the people all around fantasy who followed the zero running back draft strategy. Thanks to those people who loaded up on guys like Odell Beckham Jr. (26th), Antonio Brown (18th), Julio Jones (39th) and DeAndre Hopkins (who knows) and with a little help from a substance abuse suspension guys like me who are big on running backs were able to have both David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell on their team. In fact, with David Johnson’s ADP being at 5th overall, Le’Veon Bell’s being at 13th and LeSean McCoy’s (who coincidentally finished at 10th in FLAFFL scoring) being at 26th you could potentially have had three of the top ten scorers on your team. Not to mention adding TY Hilton and Doug Baldwin in the next two rounds to ensure a whopping five players in the top 37 of scoring. So cheers to those zero running back players who helped us running back friendly folks win championships!
My jeers for this year would have to go out to the tight end position and anyone who drafted one in the top 100 and expected to get good value from them. Overall there were 10 tight ends drafted in the top 100 while only four of those finished in the top 100 in scoring, none of which were in the top 50. In fact, only Travis Kelce, who carried an ADP of 55 and finished at 51st overall in scoring, presented a value somewhat close to his draft position. Jimmy Graham, who carried an ADP of 110 and finished 86th in scoring is the only other tight end drafted near the top 100 who presented a positive value for the team drafting him. Meanwhile guys like Kyle Rudolph and Cameron Brate both had ADPs in the two hundreds and yet were able to finish in the top 100 in overall scoring. So jeers to those highly drafted tight ends and those of you who didn’t listen to the FLAFFL House Podcast when we told you to wait on the position!
Joe Busky – 4th and Long Pocast – www.fourthandlong.net
If you were around last season, DeMarco Murray would have most certainly been, perhaps, the biggest jeer of the year. Of course, this is the NFL and anything is possible. One of the things being possible is the Tennessee Titans signing Murray and loading up on the offensive front in the draft with the likes of Jack Conklin; completing a line with two 1st round draft picks. Oh yeah, they also added a bruising complimentary back named Derrick Henry. Yet, all of us fantasy nerds were very skeptical for a couple reasons: first, Murray was one of the biggest busts of 2015. Second, it’s the Titans. Because of these reasons, Murray was found in the late 3rd round during draft season, behind over-hyped names like Todd Gurley, Lamar Miller, and Mark Ingram. Well, as we know in the football world, preseason expectations are rarely true. Murray ended up having his 2nd best statistical season of his career eclipsing 1000 yards on the ground while averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He also tallied 379 yards on 52 catches with 3 touchdowns totaling 12 touchdowns on the season as of week 16. Currently, Murray sits among the top 5 running backs for scoring on the year and I would argue he was one the biggest steals in my drafts back in August. Thank you DeMarco Murray, for proving you can still be great as long as you’re not in Philly, Cheers!
How dare you Texans’ front office. How dare you sign this inept quarterback named Brock Osweiler. With most fantasy owners drafting DeAndre Hopkins in the middle of the 1st round, expectations were high for the talented wide receiver coming into this season. Why wouldn’t they be? He put up over 1500 yards and 11 touchdowns with bad quarterbacks throwing to him in 2015. Well Unfortunately, the Texans’ front office decided to take a blind bet on an unproven quarterback who had been exposed by Pittsburgh 3 months before he was signed. This horrible move may have cost Hopkins a phenomenal season, wait no, it did! 139 targets this season, but not even 1000 yards receiving, and only 4 touchdowns on the year. Bust. C’mon Texans! All this guy needs is a competent quarterback who can give him a chance to catch the ball and you spend 72 million dollars on a guy that didn’t even earn the chance to start over the old and battered Peyton Manning in the playoffs. For those who drafted DeAndre Hopkins (I’m one of them) I am sorry that this guy wasn’t given a fair chance to put up the numbers you dreamed he would put up as he led you to your theoretical fantasy championship you believed in after you drafted him. Boo!