When you talk about popular fantasy football traditions, it rarely gets brought up. People talk about the draft, the punishment for the loser, the one weird rule that only your league has. They mention the trash talk, the epic trophy, the weeklong email war over a trade.
But they don’t mention the feeling. You know that feeling. That feeling that slowly crawls up your back. That sinking feeling that perhaps you’ve just made a horrible mistake. That “Oh gawd, what did I just do?” feeling.
Sometimes it’s immediate, but other times it’s delayed. Sometimes the realization comes later, much later, when you understand the true ramifications of your move. But it always comes. And there may not be any worse feeling in fantasy football than understanding that what has befallen your team is not injury, not bad luck, not a finicky coach or boneheaded player. No, the enemy of your team … is you.
You had a superstar in your clutches. Victory was yours. Until, of course, you, with no help from anyone else, screwed it all up.
Oh, we have all been there. Made a roster move that seemed like a good idea at the time, but, in retrospect, was a horrible, horrible mistake.
Which means, with my annual apologies to the band Oasis, it is time once again for the 2018 edition of “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” I asked my followers on the Fantasy Life app and on Twitter to send me their most regrettable, boneheaded moves this year. And man, did they deliver.
So take a look at these actual moves made by actual fantasy players. And as we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, realize that however your season is going, be thankful that at least you’re not one of these people.
Like “Emayer14” on the Fantasy Life app. He dropped Jared Goff after Week 2. Yeah, the Fantasy Life app has a great, helpful and smart fantasy football community. But like the rest of us, they’re not perfect. Like user “Adamdrew,” who dropped Goff … for Tyrod Taylor.
Taylor was the subject of many a pained admission. Like this one, from @1cameronnewton:
Now, I know what you are thinking. It doesn’t get worse than dropping Patrick Mahomes for Tyrod. But oh, my friend, it does. So much worse. Because at least Tyrod was a starting QB at the time. I mean, “Cameron” could have been this guy:
Brutal, right? But hey, while dropping Mahomes for a kicker is awful, at least Crosby has kept his job and scored some points this year. It’s not as bad a move as this guy’s:
Poor Wayne turned in the No. 1 player in fantasy for the No. 52 tight end in fantasy. But hey, if it makes you feel better, he is TE37 on a points-per-game basis!
Weirdly, Austin Seferian-Jenkins showed up a lot more than you’d think.
Fantasy Life app user “Thedane7” also picked up Seferian-Jenkins in Week 3. By dropping George Kittle. You see a lot of the same names when you put out a call for these, and people bailing on Kittle was a definite theme.
Fantasy Life app user “Recem22” dropped Kittle for Tyler Eifert. Ah yes, chasing the elusive fantasy-relevant tight end. It has gotten the best of many of us, including Twitter user @Kyitsui77:
Nick Chubb’s quiet start to the season followed by his explosion led to much fantasy regret, including Fantasy Life app user “JD,” who lamented that he didn’t “have alerts on for the Fantasy Life app when Carlos Hyde got traded and he missed out on Chubb.”
For others, like Thomas, he dropped Chubb so he could spend money on a QB:
Yep, if there was one theme that really shone through this season, it was people bailing too early on running backs, especially among Fantasy Life app users.
“uncledon” dropped James White for Josh Rosen in September. Not to be outdone, “daschwifnators” dropped James White for Alfred Morris. “Jakobkr” dropped Marlon Mack for Jake Elliott, while “samuelbronkowitz” dropped Kerryon Johnson early on to pick up … Boston Scott.
Didn’t think you were getting a Boston Scott reference today, did you?
But BY FAR, the No. 1 entry from fans … the clear award winner for this year’s “Don’t Look Back in Anger” column has got to be James Conner. So many regrettable moves involving Conner, including not drafting him as a handcuff or trading him away for peanuts.
Peanuts in the form of wide receivers, like Keelan Cole:
Or wide receivers on even worse passing teams than Jacksonville, like Buffalo’s Kelvin Benjamin:
Bad trades are tough to take, but it can be considered even worse for those managers who flat-out dropped Conner. For whom, you ask?
There’s dropping him for a defense …
But at least the Ravens are a good defense. Some folks dropped Conner for running backs. Bad running backs.
And I know you think it can’t get worse than Alfred Morris, but it does, my friend. Oh, it does. And of course it involves the Redskins. My 2018 “Don’t Look Back in Anger” award winner?
Yeah, all due respect to Perine, but when you drop a top-five RB for a fourth-string running back, well … game is over. Some of the Mahomes ones were brutal, too. So many to choose from. I guess the big takeaway is: Be thankful. It can always be worse.
Let’s get to it now. As always, Love/Hate is NOT a start/sit column. There are some obvious names here, especially in the “love” section. This is entirely about ESPN’s projections. “Loves” are players I think exceed their projections, “hates” are players I think fall short.
I am always thankful for “Thirsty” Kyle Soppe from the 06010 podcast and “The Stat-a-pillar” from the The Fantasy Show, Damian Dabrowski, for their help at various points in this column. Thank you to everyone for sharing their pain this year. We’ve all been there. And last but not least, thank you to all of you. It’s a privilege to write for you. Thank you for welcoming “Love/Hate” back with open arms. I am truly lucky.
Here we go:
Quarterbacks I love in Week 12
Drew Brees vs. Falcons (22.3 projected points): If we ignore Nick Foles from Week 1, opposing QBs are scoring an average of 40.8 percent more points (7.1 points) against the Falcons than they are against the rest of the NFL. That percentage of increase would put our expectation for Brees at 33.9 points. In the six games since Mark Ingram II returned, Brees is completing 78 percent of passes for 1,669 yards, 17 TD passes and one interception (23.7 PPG). It’s a big number, but there’s not a hotter QB in football. Give me the over on 22.3.
Tom Brady at Jets (17.3 projected points): The Jets have given up multiple passing touchdowns in every home game this season (against the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Matt Barkley and Case Keenum).The Jets are also a bottom-10 defense in terms of generating pressure. When Brady is not pressured this season, he is averaging 15.5 percent more points per pass attempt. With two weeks to prepare and a healthy Rob Gronkowski expected back, I’m not betting against Brady in this one.
Andrew Luck vs. Dolphins (20.9 projected points): Somehow, less than 50 percent of folks started Luck in ESPN leagues last week. Let’s change that this week, shall we? Luck has seven straight games with at least three touchdown passes (the longest streak since Brady had 10 straight in 2007), and he is fourth in the NFL in pass attempts per game. The Dolphins are giving up a touchdown pass on 5.6 percent of attempts (seventh highest in NFL).
Russell Wilson at Panthers (18.1 projected points): Wilson has multiple touchdown passes in nine of 10 games this season, and the Panthers have given up multiple touchdown passes in eight of 10 games. They also have given up a touchdown pass on 6.4 percent of passes, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL. Since the Seahawks’ bye week, Wilson leads all QBs in rushing yards and he has had at least five rushing attempts in three straight games.
Others receiving votes: There is absolute risk here, as you are well aware with Tampa Bay signal-callers, but I do like Jameis Winston against a 49ers defense that has only two interceptions this season (none on deep passes) and since Week 2 ranks in the bottom 10 in terms of yards per deep completion (29.0). Winston leads the league in air yards per attempt this season (11.02). … Speaking of, it won’t be pretty, but the Raiders are the most run on team in the NFL, they allow a league-high 6.6 yards per play and the third-most yards per carry before first contact (3.1). Gimme some Lamar Jackson this week. … Since Week 7, the Bengals are giving up a league-high 27.0 PPG to QBs, allowing more than 300 yards passing per game in that span, which puts Baker Mayfield in play this week. … Nick Mullens was good in his first start, not so much in his second, but he still threw it 39 times and now he has had two weeks to prep for the Buccaneers. If you’re in a deep league and desperate, you could do worse, and probably have.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 12
Matthew Stafford vs. Bears (15.2 projected points): Stafford has no more than 220 passing yards in four of his past six games, and now he’s without Golden Tate and probably Marvin Jones Jr. On Thanksgiving, he gets a Bears defense that gives up the third-fewest yards per pass attempt this season, has the top interception percentage in the league (4.7 percent of attempts) and is allowing the fifth-fewest deep completions per game. The past two Thanksgivings, Stafford has finished outside the top 20 QBs.
Deshaun Watson vs. Titans (16.9 projected points): Watson has fewer than 15 rushing yards in four of his past five games, and has failed to account for multiple TDs in four of his past six games. There hasn’t been a ton of volume, as he has no more than 25 pass attempts in five straight games. Now he has to play a Titans defense that, since Week 3 — even with last week’s stinker against the Colts — has given up a touchdown on only 3.6 percent of attempts (fifth-lowest rate).
Ben Roethlisberger at Broncos (19.4 projected points): Last week’s hate of Ben will go down as an “L” and I’m not running from that. I’m also not apologizing. Dude had 5.4 points with just over five minutes left in the game and only that last-second RUSHING touchdown put him barely over his projection. Denver is the fifth-blitz-happiest team in the NFL (31.7 percent of the time). Roethlisberger ranks 13th in yards per completion and 17th in touchdown percentage versus the blitz this season. He’ll be fine, of course, but 19.4 is a high number, so I’m taking the under here.
Running backs I love in Week 12
Alvin Kamara (24.2 projected points) and Mark Ingram (15.3) vs. Falcons: Just because it’s super obvious doesn’t make it wrong. Big numbers for both guys, but give me the over here on both, as the Falcons are giving up a league-high 8.5 running back receptions per game this season and they are the fourth-worst red zone defense as well (giving up a touchdown on 73.7 percent of red zone drives).
Nick Chubb at Bengals (17.9 projected points): Only the recently freed Aaron Jones has been better than Chubb’s 6.5 yards per carry up the middle this season. The Bengals are giving up the fourth-most yards per carry up the middle this season (4.8). From Week 7 (when Chubb got his first start) to Week 10 (he was on a bye last week), no player in the NFL had more rushing attempts than Chubb. Four running backs have rushed for at least 85 yards AND a touchdown against the Bengals this season, including Peyton Barber and Gus Edwards.
Leonard Fournette at Bills (15.9 projected points): He has a whopping 59 touches in his two games since returning from injury, and the Jags are the fourth-most run-heavy offense in the league the past two weeks. Since Week 7, the Bills are giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs on a per-game basis (29.1).
James White (15.3 projected points) and Sony Michel (13.5) at Jets: The Jets are giving up an average of 26.6 fantasy points to opposing running backs in their past four games (including 31.7 to the previously dead Bills), and they seem unlikely to stop the bleeding against White and a now-healthy Michel. White has at least five catches in seven straight games, the longest streak by a running back since Matt Forte in 2014. Meanwhile, opponents are rushing 28.4 times per game against the Jets (fifth most). Michel has three games with at least 15 carries this season. In those games, he’s averaging 19.3 PPG.
Matt Breida at Buccaneers (13.0 projected points): Finally healthy and off a bye facing the worst red zone defense in the league, I like Breida’s chances at the over on 13 points here. He ranks fourth in yards per game gained on carries outside the tackles (24.4) and is averaging 6.3 yards per carry in such situations. Why should you care? Tampa gives up a league-high 54.6 rushing yards per game outside the tackles at six yards a pop. Breida is averaging a strong 5.6 yards per carry (fourth most among qualified players), he had a career-high 17 carries before the bye week and I’d expect that usage to continue in a game in which San Francisco should be competitive.
Others receiving votes: Chris Carson has at least 17 carries in four of his past five healthy games and I’d expect another heavy workload on the road at Carolina. The Panthers have the second-worst red zone defense in the NFL. … Since Week 5, Bears opponents are completing 83 percent of passes when targeting RBs (sixth-highest opponent completion percentage during that stretch). With Kerryon Johnson (17 catches in his past four games) sidelined and Marvin Jones Jr. probably out as well, the Lions are running out of pass-catchers. Given how well the Bears bring pressure, I expect a lot of dump-offs to Theo Riddick, making him flex-viable. Riddick had six catches for 60 yards when he faced Chicago in Week 10. … Since Week 8, Josh Adams is averaging a league-high 7.0 yards per carry, he’s coming off his best game of the season (in which he had a career high for touches) and now he gets a Giants squad that, over the past four weeks, has given up 152.3 rushing yards per game (fifth most). … As mentioned in the Lamar Jackson section, you can run on the Raiders, as they allow the third-most rushing yards per game since Week 7. As a result, give me some Gus Edwards as a risk/reward flex play. I like his chances of beating his projected total of 9.2 points.
Running backs I hate in Week 12
Tevin Coleman at Saints (14.2 projected points): Only the Bears are giving up fewer yards per carry to opposing running backs than the Saints this season (3.45). New Orleans ranks inside the top five in both running back yards before AND after contact per carry this season. Coleman has exceed 14.2 points only twice in the past eight games, so you’re probably going to need a touchdown here for him to get there. In addition, the Falcons still have Ito Smith taking some touches away from Coleman, and over the past four weeks, the Saints are fourth against the run.
Lamar Miller vs. Titans (13.8 projected points): The Titans are giving up only 3.91 yards per carry this season (seventh best), so Miller is another guy I feel you’ll need a touchdown from to see him surpass his projection. It’s probably not coming on a big play, as Tennessee has allowed only one running back carry to gain 20-plus yards this season (tied for the fewest in the league). And it might not come when they get in close, either. The Titans have the second-best red zone defense in the NFL (giving up a TD on only 42.9 percent of such drives).
Kenyan Drake at Colts (11.6 projected points): During the past four weeks, the Colts are giving up the eighth-fewest rushing yards per game (93.7) and the sixth-fewest yards per carry (3.6). They also give up the third-fewest yards per carry before first contact this season (2.14). In the Dolphins’ past three games, Frank Gore has 22 more carries than Drake (45 to 23), and Drake has yet to have more than 14 carries in a game this season. The projection is already low, so this makes me a bit nervous, but Drake has paid off this season only when he has scored. Indy has given up only two running back touchdowns in its past seven games.
Doug Martin at Ravens (10.8 projected points): So, the Vegas implied total for Oakland is 15-16 points. Yeesh. The Ravens give up the third-fewest running back rushing yards per game (69.0) and the third-fewest running back yards per carry (3.47). Martin might also be banged up, so in a game I expect Oakland to be trailing, I feel much better about Jalen Richard here than I do Martin.
Pass-catchers I love in Week 12
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Titans (18.1 projected points): Hopkins is the sixth-most consistent receiver since 2016, per Tristan H. Cockcroft’s consistency ratings, and he should keep it going on Monday night against a Titans team that has given up the second-most points per completion out wide and the fewest points per completion to all other spots on the field. Hopkins has accounted for the majority of Texans receiving yards when lined up wide as it is (52.6 percent), but that percentage jumps to 79.5 percent if you subtract Will Fuller V (out for the season) from the equation. Hopkins has scored in five straight games (six touchdowns in those games) and it’s worth noting that 14.5 percent of deep pass attempts against the Titans have resulted in a touchdown, a top-three rate in the NFL.
Josh Gordon (12.7 projected points) and Julian Edelman (14.7) at Jets: You know I’m on Brady in this one, which should translate nicely to some of his pass-catchers. The Jets give up the third-most slot yards per game (110.7) and the fifth-most slot touchdowns per game, which lines up nicely for Edelman. Meanwhile, the Jets have given up four deep touchdowns (15-plus yards) in the past six games and haven’t intercepted one deep pass in that time frame. Think Brady will take a few deep shots? As do I.
George Kittle at Buccaneers (14.5 projected points): Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Buccaneers are particularly bad against the slot, giving up the most yards, touchdowns and highest completion percentage to the slot this season. Meanwhile, Kittle, fantasy rock star (he should put that on his business card), leads the 49ers from the slot in targets, catches and yards (more than twice as many slot yards as any other Niner). And, oh yeah, he also leads the team in red zone targets and catches.
Amari Cooper vs. Redskins (13.1 projected points): Even after last week’s disappointment, he still has a 23.7 percent target share since joining the Cowboys. Since Week 5, the Redskins are giving up the third-most wide receiver points per game: 43.0. Given the Redskins’ (usually) good run defense and an expectation they’ll try to focus on stopping Ezekiel Elliott, expect Dallas to try to focus on Cooper and exploit a Redskins secondary that has been carved up by No. 1 wideouts a decent amount this season. Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess and Davante Adams all surpassed 18 points against Washington this season.
Doug Baldwin at Panthers (11.2 projected points): Saying he finally felt fully healthy last week, Baldwin was rewarded with a 34.5 percent target share (top-10 target share for the week). The Panthers are giving up 42.8 WR PPG over the past three weeks. Baldwin appears to be back as Wilson’s top target, and in a game where I expect the Seahawks to move the ball, he’s not going to need a ton of work to beat this projection. I’ll take the over.
Jordan Reed at Cowboys (10.0 projected points): Super-small sample size, but in three full games in 2014 with Colt McCoy under center, Reed averaged 8.3 targets, 6.3 catches and 62.7 yards per game. Having been on the Redskins for a number of years, McCoy obviously has a connection with Reed and that was on full display once he came in last Sunday (Reed’s career catch rate with McCoy is 80.6 percent). The Cowboys are pretty good against tight ends, but I expect Reed to dink and dunk his way beyond the projection. Here’s a weird stat that means absolutely nothing but is fun to write anyway: Reed is averaging 24.7 PPG in his two career Week 12 games. Both were divisional games, too. Crazy that he has played in only two Week 12 games, right?
Others receiving votes: I know, I know, last week was ugly for Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but with Xavier Rhodes shadowing Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham limited, I expect a decent number of looks for MVS in a game where the Packers are unlikely to have a ton of success running the ball. The Packers drop back to pass on a league-high 69.9 percent of red zone plays. … Mohamed Sanu has scored in three of his past four games against the Saints, and New Orleans has had particular trouble against the slot this season, where it gives up the eighth-most yards per slot completion. … Speaking of the slot, the Lions give up 15.95 yards per completion to the slot, the highest mark in the NFL, putting Anthony Miller on the flex radar once again this week. … The Falcons own the fourth-worst red zone defense this season and give up a touchdown on 6.1 percent of pass attempts (seventh-highest rate). Considering Tre’Quan Smith has run a route on 83.5 percent of Saints dropbacks since Week 6, I like last week’s darling to keep it going (at least in a small way) on Thursday night. … Assuming O.J. Howard misses the game Sunday, Cameron Brate is back in action as a streamer against the 49ers, especially with Winston back under center. … I know David Njoku had a bad game before the bye, but his projection of 7.6 points strikes me as low, especially against a Bengals team that gives up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. I’ll take the over.
Pass-catchers I hate in Week 12
Devin Funchess vs. Seahawks (11.2 projected points): He had a bad case of the drops last week and has just an 18.1 percent target share since Week 8. You’re likely to need a big play, a touchdown or a lot of volume in this one for Funchess to reach his projection. Volume is unlikely given all the Panthers’ weapons and his recent target share. The big play is unlikely (there are 168 players this season with a catch that has gained at least 30 yards, and Funchess is not one of them), so it really boils down to the touchdown. Seattle just held all of the Rams and Packers WRs to zero touchdowns the past two weeks. How lucky do you feel?
Golden Tate vs. Giants (12.1 projected points): The majority of Tate’s catches and routes in two weeks with the Eagles have come from the slot. For all their struggles, the Giants have yet to give up a slot touchdown this season (the Seahawks are the only other team that can claim that). They also give up the eighth-fewest slot catches (6.3) and the seventh-fewest slot yards per game this season (57.6). Tate is competing with Zach Ertz and others for some slot targets and routes, so he’s not even getting all the Eagles’ slot looks. Their offense looks semi-broken right now and that’s before they figure out how to integrate Tate, which so far remains a work in progress.
Corey Davis at Texans (12.4 projected points): The Texans are giving up the fifth-fewest yards per pass attempt (6.87) and the fifth-fewest yards per completion (10.1) this season. Davis has more games with fewer than 35 receiving yards (four) than games of more than 60 receiving yards (three) this season. He has been boom or bust, and despite his high target share, he’s averaging 12.6 points per game this season. With Blaine Gabbert probably under center, I expect him to fall short of his season average, which means he’s also falling short of his Week 12 projection.
Larry Fitzgerald at Chargers (11.8 projected points): Yes, he scored twice last week, but that was on only four targets. The Chargers are top five in the NFL in completion percentage against, completions and yards allowed to the slot. Now, Fitz’s projection is already really low at 11.8, which makes me a bit nervous with this call, so this is more of a “I agree with the low projection” than a “I think he goes under it.”
Austin Hooper at Saints (11.3 projected points): No tight end has reached 55 receiving yards against the Saints this season. No tight end has caught more than four balls against the Saints this season. Speaking of four, that is how many times Hooper has scored eight-plus points in a game this season. Forget the projection, he has been below eight points in the majority of his games this season. Considering New Orleans allows opponents to complete 56.5 percent of passes when targeting TEs (second lowest in the NFL), I’ll take the under on 11.3.
Matthew Berry — The Talented Mr. Roto — is truly thankful for you. He is the 2017 FSTA Fantasy Football Analyst of the Year and the creator of RotoPass.com and RotoPassDaily.com. He is also one of the owners of the Fantasy Life app and FantasyLife.com.