And so ends one of the greatest fantasy football seasons I’ve ever enjoyed. Four titles, one oh-so-close second place finish (damn you Todd Gurley!) and two third place booty earned. I finished in the money in seven of my 11 leagues, making the playoffs in eight. Of the three I missed, two were helmed by Aaron Rodgers and the other I had the fourth most points but seemingly no luck. Plus in two I was the defending champ, which always soothes any lingering pain from a season gone awry.
Even better: My regular season record—85-76, a .528 winning percentage—paled compared to my scintillating 15-4 (.789) postseason mark.
Below the many highlights from the year gone by and bright future in keeper leagues ahead.
Team of the Year
It’s a treat to choose from so many squads for this prestigious award. And while all four of my championship squads deserve proper dap, I have to single out two: Brc that hadn’t won Title Town since 2004 and TR’s Peepers who triumphed for the first time in its fifth year in Friends of Jason Biggs.
Joining a new fantasy league nearly always comes with a steep learning curve, especially when it is populated by other owners who have been in the league from the beginning. Add to the fact that it was my first foray into an auction format and it’s also a dynasty league and I definitely had my work cut out for me. In my first four years I made the playoffs (top six of 12) in three, but never won any money until last season when I won the third place tilt. So securing a first-round bye and taking home the title was very rewarding!
Brc’s ascent to greatness followed a diametrically opposite path. I’ve been running Title Town since 2004 and this is the first championship I’ve won since that inaugural season. It is always my last draft each year and I was very keen to finally have David Johnson on a team. Lo and behold I got the number one pick and I eagerly scooped him up. He ended up not even playing an entire game for me yet by the time the postseason rolled around my running backs were perfect for this PPR league: Christian McCaffrey, Dion Lewis, Duke Johnson and Alvin Kamara.
In the playoffs, Duke Johnson ended up on the bench but picking him off waivers before Week 4 changed this squad’s entire trajectory. In the first three games, all losses, I averaged 111.33 points. After adding Johnson, that point-per-game total shot up to 141.93 and I went 12-2 in the last 14 contests, including the playoffs. In that trio of postseason tilts Brc posted 153, 155 and 157 points in Weeks 15-17.
Game of the Year
A consummate team effort overcomes the ridiculousness of Todd Gurley to win the crown (and a hefty pot)!
The last few moments of the Week 16 Raiders-Eagles Monday Night Football contest were the most exciting minutes of the entire fantasy campaign. With one title already secured, I was gunning for two more. And Zach Ertz was key. Thanks to the vulturing of a sure Le’Veon Bell one yard touchdown by a Pittsburgh Steelers fullback who need not be named, I needed Ertz to score Curly’s Cadre 11 points but not too many that TR’s Peepers fell to Leroy Brown in my other league.
In a perfect world, he would have gotten 23 more yards receiving (finishing with 104) that would have allowed me to prevail 101.13-101.12 in the St Kilda Fantasy Football league and also eke out a 115.76-113.60 victory in Friends of Jason Biggs. That said, if I had to win only one it definitely was the one I did—at today’s current AUD to USD exchange rate it was a $305 difference in prize money. Not insubstantial.
(Non-Playoff) Game of the Year
Thanks to a rule change allowing players now to be picked up before their individual games—no longer is everyone put on waivers at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sundays—I added Kansas City Chiefs placekicker Harrison Butker literally seconds . . .
. . . before Sunday Night Football kicked off. (Thinking I previously had no chance to win the matchup, I wanted to preserve a coveted roster spot.) All Butker did was put up a ridiculous 21 points to pull out a very unlikely victory:
Have to go with my most important league, Lambeau Field. Hours before the draft began I got back into the first round (after trading my top selection for Rob Gronkowski the previous season) by trading picks two, three and six for first, 15th and 16th round selections. There I very happily selected Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Joe Mixon. While not great or all that consistent this season, I have high hopes for him going forward. I got another top target, newcomer wideout Corey Davis, in the tenth round and then snagged all-everything New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara in the 15th and Philadelphia Eagles signal caller Carson Wentz with my final selection with the next pick. But it may have been my choice in the 12th round that played the biggest part in vaulting me to my sixth championship in the league’s vaunted 15-year history.
That selection? Tight end Zach Ertz. Not only did it give me great insurance behind Gronk, but he was the key piece (along with the Rams pass-catcher Sammy Watkins) in a deadline-beating trade that acquired Patriots scatback Rex Burkhead (previously taken by me in round 13) and, most importantly for this year and many more, Saints wideout Michael Thomas. Though Burkhead got hurt before the fantasy playoffs began in Week 15, he slotted perfectly as my RB2 in this PPR league. Thomas, meanwhile, allowed me to start four wideouts again (Amari Cooper was unplayable at this point) and guaranteed me—with Kamara—a huge portion of all New Orleans productivity. Also snagged Chris Hogan—love those QB-WR combos, especially in PPR leagues!—in the ninth round.
Of note: The first four rounds are devoted to keepers. My acquisition of Mixon (and the two late round picks below) came from this transaction:
Here is the draft in all its glory:
One thousand words:
No way I was going to repeat after Rodgers went down. Wait ‘til next season!
Too easy: Alvin Kamara. In both leagues I drafted him I won the title. That’s a good percentage!
Tie: Amari Cooper and Andrew Luck. The former just never lived up to expectations, not doing nearly enough to justify his second (PPR) and third round (standard) price. The latter of course never played, putting me behind the proverbial eight ball, especially in my nascent two QB league.
Harrison Butker (yes: a kicker!) Having only drafted the Patriots Stephen Gostkowski in one league ($2 by TR’s Peepers in the dynasty auction league) and Mason Crosby rendered irrelevant after A-Rodg’s injury, I had Butker on nearly all of my teams, until after the Baltimore Ravens bye week where I added Justin Tucker in a couple leagues. He was awesome from the moment he took over for the injured Cairo Santos in Week 4. Butker finished with 156 fantasy points, fifth best despite missing the first three games of the season.
Honorable mentions: Kamara—him again!—by Unironic Witty Name in my two QB league, Lambeau Leap, where I spent $22 of my $100 free agent acquisition budget on him after Week 1. Also a huge shout out to Josh Gordon, who I had on 10 of my 11 squads, including three that won titles and, nearly as important, all three keeper leagues.
Martellus Bennett. More in real life than fantasy, as I only drafted him in one league.
Loved it for this year and possibly the next decade!
Remarkably I only made four all year (including the pre-draft blockbuster in Lambeau Field). No issues with swapping Jay Ajayi for Drew Brees after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Aaron Rodgers’ Avenue so that leaves this one made out of abject desperation—and a plethora of wide receivers:
Despite finishing fourth in points, needless to say I didn’t make the playoffs, failing to defend my title. Rough year for The Drop Bears!
This likely would have been dropping Dion Lewis had I not won the title in Lambeau Field:
That heartache assuaged I’d have to go with not bidding one more dollar to acquire rookie phenom quarterback DeShaun Watson in Friends of Jason Biggs. Me and a competitor both bet $11 but since he had a lower waiver priority he got Watson—potentially for three more seasons at a very affordable price (salary cap is $200). Fortuitously, I also won that league too!
Most Valuable Player
Kamara. In the three leagues (two PPR and one 1.5 PPR) I owned him he averaged 14.59, 18.94 and 21.23 points respectively in his 17 games (one of which he only played just one series).
Least Valuable Player
Love him so but . . . Danny Woodhead. Paid a high price for him in many PPR leagues and though he started so promising—three catches on the opening drive of the season—his subsequent hamstring injury allowed Alex Collins and Javorius Allen to soak up most all of his touches. Potentially a good buy-low acquisition next season.
Two More Titles
Fifteenth year of Lambeau Field, sixth title (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2017) for the Green Bay Gamblers:
Eleventh year of AFP All-Stars, fifth title (2007, 2008, 2009, 2015, 2017) for the Green Bay Gamblers:
Second time (2008) that the namesakes have taken the title in the same season.
Three of my 11 leagues are of the keeper variety. Here’s a peek into what 2018 may hold:
Pangaea (four keepers, 2 PPR, second overall selection):
Likely Keepers: Green Bay Packers Team Quarterback, Keenan Allen, Brandin Cooks, Christian McCaffrey
In the Mix: Jordy Nelson, Josh Gordon
TR’s Peepers (three keepers, $200 salary cap minus keeper costs):
Likely Keepers: Le’Veon Bell, Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham, Jr.
In the Mix: Tom Brady, Derrick Henry, Josh Gordon, Jay Ajayi, Amari Cooper
Green Bay Gamblers (four keepers, PPR, last pick in snake draft):
Likely Keepers: Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Joe Mixon
In the Mix: Tom Brady, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, Jamaal Williams, Amari Cooper, Matt Brieda, Andrew Luck
The future is bright! And only 79 sleeps until Opening Day!