Weekly Column From Shawn Williams
Fantasy football league dynamics are such a sociological phenomenon they should be studied by Harvard level professors. Fantasy footballers are a cluster of guys and gals, on competitive hyper-drive, fighting, manipulating, laughing, crying, scratching and clawing to one of two ultimate prizes (depending on league formats). You’re living by a “no matter what” mentality for either the validation of being the unanimous Champion Manager and all the trophies and treasures that follow, or you want that number 1 draft pick in your dynasty league’s rookie draft (Trevor Lawrence anyone?).
Some of us would love the opportunity to be the next great NFL General Manager, but in a World where that just aint happenin’, fantasy football is your ultimate outlet. I mean the word “Fantasy” says it all. When our lives might not be as enriched or stimulating as we may hope, our false reality can materialize into an obsessive enterprise that completely engulfs our heart and soul. And ladies and gents, that’s perfectly okay! Just heed caution. I want you to battle; expend all your blood sweat and tears (just like those big bad pros your managing). There’s nothing I want more than for your fanatically sexy dreams to become actuality. BUT, be smart, and throw emotion as far away as possible. Throw it so far away from dictating your actions that you’ll look like Josh Allen overthrowing receivers.
I’m going to share a cautionary tale. Pay attention and follow along. This story takes us from dumb to smart, then we go from sitting pretty to culminating in a complete dumpster fire that nearly dissolves a whole league.
PART ONE, LESSON ONE
When you do your initial draft, come freakin’ prepared. Sure, you know your favorite players. You know who had a pretty good season last year, you know whose young and old. Great! But come with a strategy; be tactical, and read a few articles, know the player rankings. A good manager knows the format of his or her league (this one’s a Dynasty PPR, 2 QB Superflex, and TE’s get an extra half a point per reception) and his draft plan is dictated by this knowledge (or in this case isn’t). This manager got cocky, he thought his wit and intellect could finesse a pretty stout roster. He got the 2nd pick in the snake draft, and proudly took Lamar Jackson off the board. Unfortunately, patience is a virtue he did not possess, so he used his 2nd and 3rd round picks to buy back into the first-round action. Nick Chubb is one of the purest runners in the game, but in this game that doesn’t really matter, at least when a PPR horse like Dalvin Cook or WR1 DeAndre Hopkins are still unchosen. He is also not worth trading for when perfectly serviceable players like Aaron Jones, Chris Godwin or Travis Kelce (remember TE premium!) can be had in the next two rounds (at least that’s the way this board fell). This same impatience led to multiple draft day trades that didn’t make any type of real discernible sense.
To show the contrarian (and correct) approach, the current first place holder of this league, traded up and back so strategically you didn’t even really take notice until you got a good look at final rosters. He didn’t even need to perfectly hit on his picks he had so many of them –[*take advantage of other’s impulses and their wild offers to move up to your spot].
PART TWO, LESSON TWO
Our hero quickly found revelation in his mistakes and hit the ground running on rapid recovery. He was taken slight advantage of at first, when he was persuaded into trading Lamar Jackson, Courtland Sutton and other decently valued pieces for CMC (Christian McCaffrey for you noobs or “part-timers”) in his first post-draft deal. Luckily everyone loves CMC, and most everyone is similarly willing to give up the same “king sized” type ransom for fantasy footballs number one player. Our guy remedied his CMC deal by spinning him for a solid package, finessed Josh Jacobs in another deal, and made efficient deals that gave him arguably the most depth of any of his competitors. He gave up most of his future draft picks to do it, but he was back on his way!
Knowing you made a mistake is good self-awareness, but you need to rebound and correct yourself. There will always be a couple people that are just there to have fun, socialize in the league chat, and make trades (because what’s more fun than making trades?). They want to win, sure, but the gratification they receive from being included, and being a part of it all is enough for them. TAKE ADVANTAGE!
PART THREE, MOST IMPORTANT LESSON
Trading can be exhilarating; you and I can’t deny it. Make trades, change it up, after all it’s a game so have fun! Just keep a level head. This cannot be emphasized enough.
The protagonist of this story had good depth and was winning and losing by small margins. He was on a path to the playoffs but the teams at the top of the standings showcased rosters that exceeded the eye test by a wide margin. The method he took to improve his teams fortitude was “Consolidation”. Consolidation is taking that depth and twisting it into some top level “superstar” talents.
It took until Week 7, but he finally had, in his humble opinion, the perfect roster. He found a way to recoup the loss of draft picks by bringing in rookies performing near to, or above expectations (i.e. De’Andre Swift and Tee Higgins). He even managed to find some solid young tight ends in Robert Tonyan (great waiver-wire pickup) and T.J. Hockenson. Once Tua Tagovailoa was named the starter of the Miami Dolphins, he was obviously forced into trading for him, by means necessary. He could swallow that price tag knowing there would be no buyer’s remorse.
What goes up must come down, or something like that right?
The League leader, in all his hubris, spun 4 first round picks for none other than CMC! That deal completed construction on one of the best rosters ever seen. Suffice it to say, our dude got RATTLED!
On the day he announced his trade portal was closing due to such pride in happiness in his consummate little team, our guy was suddenly forced, out of mental instability, to try and counter this gigantic power move. He gave up two of his prized assets (Higgins and Swift) for a player who, despite dealing with injuries and drama, packs the potential and game performance that led to being last year’s WR1. That player was none other than the Slant God himself Michael Thomas.
After realizing he had acquired someone who had instagram’d some quite unfavorable messages in the direction of Miami Dolphin Receiver DeVante Parker back in May, he found himself quite unhappy, and still spinning from the blur of trades made in a very acute amount of time. After numerous and immediate attempts to rid himself of Mr. Thomas at fair value, and just as many immediate rejections, he made a decision so absurd, so devoid of logic, it nearly broke his league.
Stewing in emotion from breaking his “perfect roster” and having one of his least favorite players, whose value was at an all-time low, he traded Michael Thomas AND DJ Chark for one, Scary Terry McLaurin.
Yes, he engaged in a trade that was so imbalanced and unreasonable, and did it knowingly, that it completely compromised the integrity of the league. I’m not sure I’m even writing this in a manner that makes sense. The deal sent the league and it’s owners spiraling, some into anger, some into equally ridiculous deals.
Realizing he catastrophically effed up his roster and chances at winning, he made another reactionary decision to totally sell off his veteran players in an effort to maybe have a chance at building towards the future. This is when, if it hadn’t already, the season for all its guts and glory really, truly, fell all the f*** apart. He traded Derrick Henry, Robert Woods, Chris Carson, Aaron Rodgers and Robert Tonyan to the guy who had made the deal to acquire CMC.
Just so we have a proper idea of what an unbeatable team looks like in the 2020 season…
QB-Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill, Aaron Rodgers
RB-CMC, Derrick Henry, James Conner, Kareem Hunt, Chris Carson, Leonard Fournette
WR-Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Robby Anderson, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks
TE-Travis Kelce, Dallas Goedert, Robert Tonyan
As you may have guessed, owners revolted (some threatened to quit), more terrible deals were made, and the league was considering dissolving.
After 24 hours of messaging, mediating, compromise, and a lot of good sportsmanship, agreements were made to reverse or reconstruct bad trades, and everyone in the league got back on track. Everyone besides, yup, you guessed it….Me. I’m currently recycled to Part Two, Lesson Two. Roster reconstruction, with much less in assets than I ever originally had.
KEEP YOUR HEAD ON STRAIGHT!
On to my Week 8, but first ever, Fantasy Football Preview; Dolphins Players only.
It’s Tua Time!!! What an incredible time it is to be a fan of THE Miami Dolphins. However, it’s a nearly impossible time to make predictions or projections for a Quarterback whose never started a game in the National Football League. Tua and the Dolphins will be facing a stout defense, with a top pass rush, and one of the best Cornerbacks in the game. They’re also coming off a bye week and have had extra time to incorporate young Tagovailoa into the offense, and strategically manufacture what we hope is a solid and effective game plan. This week I’m going with bias and instinct. Start the 22-year old and watch The Chosen One shine….I think?
This one’s tricky. The ‘Fins have not run the ball well this season; they’re averaging 105.2 rushing yards per game (bottom half of the league) and 3.8 yard per carry (T-3 worst). To make matter worse out of their six rushing touchdowns, Gaskin has scored just once.
The Rams are good for the 8th best Run Defense, but in a game where Tua may be a little more dependent on the run, for obvious reasons, as well as Gaskin being one of the most targeted RB’s in the air, you should be able to sneak him into your lineup in PPR formats.
WR- Devante Parker/Preston Williams
For the next few games, at least, while we wait and see the offense as led by Tua, there is no way to predict usage or targets for either Parker or Williams. I would avoid them this week, as they face one of the toughest match-ups they’ll see all year, and because, well Tua.
See DeVante Parker/Preston Williams. Also, not loving the TD targets to Shaheen and Smythe. Hold on Big Mike.
This man is perfect! Literally, he hasn’t missed once all season. Plus, Miami has attempted the sixth most field goals of any team this season.
Contrary to others’ opinion, I love this defensive match-up for Miami. The Rams run a lot of 2 WR sets, and that plays nicely into Miami’s biggest strength. CB’s Byron Jones and Xavien Howard should provide plenty of challenges for Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp in the passing game and Eric Rowe has been a TE eraser all year.
Unfortunately, the Rams are near the top of the league for their unique and unpredictable rushing attack and Miami has struggled stopping the run all year.
I don’t think the Rams will pick up a ton of yards or points on the Dolphins, but I don’t expect them to turn the ball over (Goff, only 4 INTS) and they allow the second least sacks per game at 1.1 pg.
Miami has not scored a special teams TD this season.
Please welcome Shawn Williams to PhinManiacs and please check him out on Twitter @swilliams3205