Hopefully, on this first day of 2015, you’re New Year’s resolutions haven’t already gone awry. It takes willpower to follow through on any resolution, no matter what it might be. The hardest bad behaviors to foreswear, however, might be those that continue to get fantasy football owners in trouble season after season. Let's start the discussion right now and hopefully avoid the pitfalls next year that so often plague the fantasy football community.
Below are my fantasy football New Year’s resolutions for 2015. Feel free to share yours in the comments.
1. I will preach at the altar of the pass-catching back. Matt Forte, Le’Veon Bell and DeMarco Murray ranked first, second and fourth, respectively, in receptions among running backs. They ranked fourth, second and first, respectively, in points in standard-scoring leagues.
2. I will target the league’s best offenses. The Packers, Broncos, Bears, Cowboys, Saints and Steelers -- six teams most everyone believed would have strong offenses -- contributed 60 percent of the top-five quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers this season.
3. I will not take a running back with a top-10 pick, unless I am absolutely sure of him returning that value. There are way too many Montee Balls in the fantasy world to completely trust the position.
4. I will invest heavily in the wide receiver position. This year, four receivers had more than 1,500 yards, 12 had at least 1,200 yards, and 21 broke the 1,000-yard mark. Eleven different receivers hit paydirt at least 10 times, and seven both eclipsed 1,200 yards and double-digit scores. There has never been a better time to be a wide receiver in the NFL.
5. Unless it’s Rob Gronkowski, I will not be interested in a tight end until the mid-to-late stages of drafts. Greg Olsen, Martellus Bennett, Antonio Gates, Coby Fleener and Delanie Walker all had average draft positions outside the top 75 this season. Given his price tag, Jimmy Graham was a bust. Meanwhile, Julius Thomas didn’t give his owners anything after the fifth week of the season. Gronk is a paradigm-shifting talent. No other tight end can boast that.
6. If all is right with Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas is worthy of being a top-three pick. He just posted a 111-catch, 1,619-yard, 11-touchdown season, and that’s after being largely dormant for Denver’s first three games of the season. In three seasons with Manning at the helm, Thomas average year looks like this: 97 receptions, 1,494.3 yards and 11.7 touchdowns. That comes out to 219.63 points for the season. Thomas is just the sort of high-floor first-round pick who leads owners to championships.
7. In a one-quarterback league, I will continue to wait on quarterbacks. Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo were all taken outside the top 10 at the position in an average draft this summer. At the other end of the spectrum, Matthew Stafford was a prime bust this year after coming off the board early in the fourth round of a typical draft. If you’re in a traditional format, it just doesn’t make sense to invest a premium pick on a quarterback.
8. Having said that, I will proudly carry the colors of the two-quarterback league. Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the most important in real-life football. The fantasy world should reflect that. Quarterbacks such as Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton need to be more important than waiver-wire fodder, spot starters or three-week hot hands in fantasy leagues. The only way to make that happen is by starting two quarterbacks.
9. I will do what I can to make sure as many of my leagues use the auction format as possible. It’s 2015 now, people. The sad, standard, juvenile snake draft should be phasing into extinction. You want your league to be more fun? You want your league to have more strategy? You want to reward your league’s best drafters? Make your league an auction league.
10. Finally, I will always trust my convictions. There is no shortage of strategies to win at fantasy football, but ultimately it comes down to loading your roster with the right players. The only way to do that is to do as much player evaluation as possible and to trust what your eyes and the numbers tell you. Remember, Le’Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray, Andrew Luck and Rob Gronkowski all had their detractors this season. They were also the four players found most frequently on championship teams. Identify the players you want, regardless of the thousands of rankings before your eyes, and have the belief in your convictions to follow through on them.
2014 Fantasy Football All-Disappointment Team
QB: Robert Griffin III (WAS)
Passing: 869 yards, 2 TDs, 3 Ints | Rushing: 100 yards
RB: Adrian Peterson (MIN)
Rushing: 75 yards | Receiving: 2 receptions, 18 yards
RB: Montee Ball (DEN)
Rushing: 172 yards, 1 TD | Receiving: 9 receptions, 62 yards
WR: Victor Cruz (NYG)
Receiving: 23 receptions, 337 yards, 1 TD
WR: Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN)
Receiving: 30 receptions, 350 yards, 1 TD | Rushing: 113 yards, 1 TD
WR: Percy Harvin (SEA/NYJ)
Receiving: 41 receptions, 315 yards | Rushing: 188 yards, 1 TD
TE: Vernon Davis (SF)
Receiving: 23 receptions, 210 yards, 2 TDs | Rushing: 4 yards
K: Robbie Gould (CHI)
Made 9 of 12 Field Goals and 28 of 29 Extra Points
DEF/ST: Carolina Panthers
26 sacks, 45 TFL, 9 Int, 8 Fumbles Recovered, 0 Blocked Kicks, 0 DEF TDs, 1 Return TD