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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Off Tackle: Week 17
John Tuvey
December 28, 2011
 

The calendar’s about to turn, which means it’s a great time to make a bunch of promises you’ll keep for the next month or two before reverting to your old bad habits.

Only this year will be different. This year you’ll stick to those resolutions and change your life for the better.

Hey, it could happen.

With that in mind, here are some of my fantasy football resolutions for the 2012 season—jotted down for posterity while the 2011 campaign is still fresh in my mind.

I will trust my research.
This was my mantra heading into the draft season, and I can easily identify the instances in which I strayed from that plan: they’re the teams I look at and say, “Really? I was that high on him heading into the season?”

You did the research, I kept telling myself during my drafts and auctions; your cheat sheet reflects that research. Why, in the heat of the moment, should you devalue all that hard work on a whim?

The same sentiment should—and will—carry over into the regular season. Each week after I complete the Start/Bench List, I compile my own rankings of the players for use in answering WDIS questions. It should follow, then, that if I have a player ranked higher he should get the starting nod over someone ranked lower.

But that isn’t always the case. And usually my team suffers because of it.

So for the coming season I vow to stay truer to the rankings I so painstakingly create.

I will have a Monday night player every week of the playoffs.
Enough of this sweating out the Monday night game, watching helplessly week after week as my leads evaporate in prime time. Next year I’m looking over the Monday night schedule and making sure I have someone in every Monday night game from Week 13 on—preferably a quarterback. A kicker works, too. Just somebody who can help my point total—and lead—increase on a Monday night for a change.

Doesn’t mean I have to listen to Gruden fawn over every player who’s ever put on a jock strap, though.

I will not have a Mike Shanahan back on my team.
This one should need no explanation. But after having four different backs put up at least one fantasy helper this season, what are the chances that one of them carries the mail for more than half the games in 2012? And even if one does, which one will it be? And which games? And even if all those answers break in your favor, chances are the one week you need your guy to be Shanny’s guy, he’ll find another guy to be the guy—hosing you in the process.

So why set yourself up for certain frustration?

Sean Payton, you’re dangerously close to earning your own “Shananahigans” badge as well. Consider yourself warned.

I will have an elite quarterback on my roster.
There’s no denying it any longer; between the talent level of the men playing the position and the rules designed to allow Arena-like scoring, the quarterback has become the most important player on a fantasy football roster.

So I won’t be afraid to spend a first or early second-round pick on Drew Brees or Tom Brady. No more waiting until the seventh round to cobble together mid-tier quarterbacks and hope to play the matchups. I’m getting one of the stud QBs and building my team around him.

Oh, and depending on where Robert Griffin III goes in April’s NFL draft, I’m all over the next Cam Newton. Maybe even if he winds up in Cleveland.

Maybe.

I will not trust an offense where the “Big Three” have a combined four years of NFL experience to take a big step forward, no matter how strongly they finished the previous season.
Let’s call this the “Tampa Bay corollary”. In multiple leagues I bought into Josh Freeman as a quarterback on the cusp, into LeGarrette Blount as a battering ram of a running back, into Mike Williams as a fringe elite receiver.

Um, that didn’t work out so well.

Not all of the blame can be pinned on Freeman, but he should shoulder a good chunk of it. Blount couldn’t carve out a role in the passing game, the Bucs spent too much time playing from behind, and Williams was unable to gain the same separation against opposing CB1s he did during his rookie campaign.

Fortunately, the only teams shaping up to be in similar circumstance are the Browns (assuming a new QB and/or RB to go along with Greg Little) and Bengals (assuming a new RB to pair with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green). It’ll be tough to lay off of Bengals, but I’ll need to do a whole lot of digging in the offseason to make myself comfortable with Dalton-to-Green as a viable fantasy entity, at least viable enough to justify where Green will be going off the board in 2012 fantasy drafts.

I will get a Chris Ogbonnaya jersey.
Ogbonnaya and Victor Cruz were my waiver wire wonders for the season. The duo carried me in multiple leagues—yes, even Ogbonnaya, who was a five-week plug-in play during bye week purgatory in the 14-team Sirius XM hosts league. In four of those five weeks he gave me double-digit production, bailing out my club and causing me to proclaim to myself that, were I fortunate enough to win one of my leagues in which Silent G held a roster spot—and he was on about three-fourths of my rosters—I would add an Ogbonnaya jersey to my collection.

Unfortunately that didn’t happen this season. But I saw enough from Ogbonnaya that even if he’s not back in Cleveland in 2012 I have a feeling he’ll wind up as a third down back for someone. And if he does, he’ll likely find a spot on one or more of my rosters.

And I’ll make the same vow to myself as I did last year. Because really, who wouldn’t want to sport a spamshirt with “OGBONNAYA” stretching from shoulder to shoulder at his or her next draft or auction? Though I’d have to go with the white Browns jersey; not sure how flattering that home brown would be on my Ahtyba Rubin-esque figure.

BAD BEATS

Why not cap off the season of bad beats with a couple more kicks to the proverbial store?

One you could see coming. After Shady McCoy left me a stocking full of coal on Christmas Eve afternoon, my lone title game entrant was left clinging to a 20-point lead in the Sirius XM Hosts League. I had Darren Sproles yet to play; my esteemed opponent, Joe Dolan, had Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham.

With Brees so close to Dan Marino’s yardage record, you knew he’d get the yards. The key would be ducking a Brees-to-Graham TD. Of course, that didn’t work. The late TD toss to Sproles made the final closer than it really was, and the trophy case remained barren for 2011.

But that wasn’t a true bad beat. No, the real clincher to the SOBB came in the third-place game of the Weapons of DMD BotH league. You may recall that Larry Fitzgerald’s 33-yard catch in OT turned a two-point win into a 0.71-point loss in the semis. So why would my luck change in the third place game? It wouldn’t; the Mattress Police fell to the Mighty Gophers by—are you ready for this?—0.29 points.

That’s right. The difference between a second WDMD title in three seasons and tales of a fourth-place nothing was a scant one point over two weeks.

Not even an extra buck in the red kettle during the fantasy playoffs turned my bad karma around. I can only hope this season drained the bad mojo and I’ll start fresh in 2012.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While many of you may be putting the fantasy season to bed, immediately or in the next week or three, there’s really no offseason anymore. As soon as Week 17 wraps we’ll begin analyzing the season that was as well as breaking down potential free agents and the 2012 draft class and preparing keeper and dynasty cheat sheets.

But the time between Shiva Bowl 2011 and Draft Day 2012 should also be used to figure out how we can do what we do a little better than the previous year. For example, this old dog learned the new trick of Tweeting about midway through the season and last week tweeted for the one thousandth time. My goal is to finish the year with more tweets than Beanie Wells has yards, and right now it’s neck and neck.

In any event, I’d love to hear your feedback as to what you like and don’t like about The Huddle, the Start/Bench List, the Sirius XM show… all of the above. What can we do to help you help yourselves? Comment below, email me, PM me via The Huddle forums, or tweet me at @jtuvey; I'd love to hear what's working and what isn't. This is a great time to re-examine what we’re doing and retool it to better serve you for the coming season.

Because the best way to avoid bad beats is to so thoroughly dominate the opposition that they’re not close enough to bad beat you.


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