Fantasy football can be absolutely maddening. No matter how well you draft, how successfully you dip your toe (or dive headlong) into the free agent waters, or how many sage trades you make, your well-constructed and finely tuned team’s probability of taking home the championship is always far from certain. On any given Sunday, your team can fall. And when it does so in the playoffs the end is sudden and harsh.
Worst of all: You can also accomplish all of the above and not even qualify for postseason play.
By way of explication and, yes, an attempt to attain at least a modicum of sanity—catharsis by analysis—I have again decided to perform a postmortem on every one of my fallen teams. The order they will appear is chronologically from when they were eliminated from postseason contention, their season ended in the playoffs, or they held aloft the championship trophy.
Team Name: Valley Forge
Record: 5-8-0 (9 of 10)
Points: 1,151.1 (9 of 10)
History: Fifth season
Championships: Two (2011, 2010)
(Other) Top 3 Finishes: None
Previous Year Results: Quarterfinal loss in 2012 and missed playoffs last season
Smartest Move: Drafting Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones in the second round.
Dumbest Move: Opting for St. Louis Rams running back Zac Stacy over any of the next four selections—Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Randall Cobb, or Julius Thomas—and ruing not choosing Antonio Brown eight picks later.
Best Value: Golden Tate (ninth round)
Worst Value: LeSean McCoy (first)
Unsung Hero: Maybe Brandon LaFell and/or Denard ‘Shoelaces’ Robinson? Really, though, where a hero exists there is generally a battle won. And this team had little fight in them.
Transaction Number: 26
Total Money Owed: $102 ($50 entry plus $2 transaction fee)
Turning Point: Despite prevailing in my first two contests, I never recovered from losing every matchup for the next five weeks.
Lesson Learned: After dominating my two ESPN leagues for over half a decade—from 2007-11, I won a title in five consecutive seasons—I’ve struggled mightily the last three. After much soul searching, the most plausible explanation is quite simple: I am far too often hedging my bets, failing to completely trust my own gut instinct. Specifically this manifests itself in me picking the player ‘experts’ project as having an excellent campaign over guys who I implicitly trust.
This season it was Stacy over Cobb; last year in the same league it was C.J. Spiller over Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch. Additionally, I’m also factoring in the league’s non-PPR-ness too much, opting for plodding running backs instead of dynamic receivers, irrespective of them not getting awarded for each reception.
It can’t be a coincidence that I consistently fare far better in Yahoo! leagues than those run by ESPN. Going forward, I will no longer treat these leagues differently. And with that long overdue course correction, I expect to be back winning championships next season.
Only 54 days until Opening Day! For everything you want to know leading up to the baseball season—not to mention sage advice on the upcoming Academy Awards and more fantasy football postmortems—please follow me on Twitter: @nicholasjonwood.