Fantasy Football: 2019 New Year’s Resolutions
Another fantastic fantasy season has come to a close. We saw scoring taken to magical heights, plenty of youngsters who showed us that the future of the NFL is bright, and reminders galore that the tight end position is simply no fun in fantasy.
Unless you’re playing a dynasty format, your 2018 season has officially closed. And what better time to start thinking about the 2019 season than on New Year’s Eve?
Seriously, we make resolutions to eat better, work out more, and just generally better ourselves as people. Why not make some commitments to improve as fantasy owners while we’re at it? So, in that spirit, here are five fantasy football New Year’s Eve resolutions.
Resolution No. 1: I will not blow all my FAAB early in the season
There are a couple of different schools of thought when it comes to FAAB bidding. For many, they want to be aggressive with their spending earl, and that makes all the sense in the world. After all, the longer you have a player on your roster, the more of an impact he can make. And later on in the season, there will be fewer owners making FAAB bids, as many will fall out of contention, so you won’t need as much FAAB at that point.
Those are all certainly valid points. But, and perhaps this year was an anomaly, we saw a large number of game-changers become available late in the season. Gus Edwards, Damien Williams, Jamaal Williams, Jaylen Samuels, Justin Jackson, and C.J. Anderson likely won some owners their fantasy leagues, or at least helped them get into or advance in their playoffs. And even though the competition to grab them was smaller than it would have been earlier in the season, having those few extra dollars likely made the difference.
Your FAAB spending will always vary depending on your specific situation. But, personally, I’m always going to make every effort to hold a little back for later in the season, if I can.
Resolution No. 2: I will go with what I consider the likelier outcome, regardless of outside circumstances
I told this story on the FantasyPros Football Podcast, but back in 2013, in the first round of playoffs, I was facing a big deficit heading into the Monday night Cowboys-Bears game. I had been starting Tony Romo all year and he’d been just fine, but Josh McCown was sitting on waivers and he’d been fantastic of late, throwing for 707 yards and four touchdowns over his last two games. In Soldier Field, McCown seemed like the best option, and indeed the rankings said the same.
But I couldn’t bench Romo, who was far more established and who I’d ridden all year, for the likes of a career backup. I just kept thinking to myself that if I benched Romo and lost because of it, I’d feel absolutely awful. Well, McCown accounted for five touchdowns and my choice to stick with Romo cost me the victory (and ultimately, as I later figured out, the championship).
“Can you imagine how I’d feel if I benched Player X for Player Y and lost because of it?” I used to say that, and I still hear that, constantly. Even now, I have to routinely fight the urge to let that thought sneak into my head. But I have to be honest — losing with Romo that week certainly didn’t feel any better than had I lost with McCown while Romo had a big game.
Your sole job as a fantasy owner on gameday is to submit a lineup that gives you the highest probability of winning. That’s it. You’re going to feel bad if you lose, regardless of your lineup. Don’t let external factors creep in.
Resolution No. 3: I will award the final playoff spot to the highest scoring non-playoff team
Fine, this is a commissioner-only resolution, but whatever. This idea has gained major traction of late, and I’ve been a bit resistant to it. But as someone who benefited in a few leagues from not having this rule, I think it’s a necessity.
Fantasy football is inherently luck-based, and even if you have the best team in the league, it’s possible to go 0-13. There are few more frustrating things than to continually put up high point totals only to go up against the weekly high scorer time and again.
Rather than awarding that final spot to the 10th-highest point scorer in the league who got lucky enough to finish 7-6, change your rules and give that spot to the highest point-scorer after the playoff teams. It’s a small change that can at least help to balance out some of the unfairness that occasionally drips into our beloved game.
Resolution No. 4: I will enjoy my Sundays more
Let’s be clear — there are few things more enjoyable than a football Sunday. Since the invention of the Red Zone Channel, nearly every moment of Sundays during the fall has turned into a smorgasbord of action, and it’s a consistently fun afternoon. But I’ve come to realize during the last few seasons that I kind of turn into . . . well, my kids alternatively refer to it as “Mr. Grumpface,” “Angry McAngerson,” or “Princess Petunia.” To be clear, that last one is what my daughter calls like 90% of people, but still, point taken. Whether it’s because I made a bad recommendation to someone who asked for advice or am getting beaten in a critical matchup because a third-string running back is going off, I’ve realized that I can get pretty testy on a football Sunday because of how fantasy is going.
This is a game. It’s a truly wonderful game that has grown exponentially both in its reach and the level of analysis necessary to make the most out of your experience. But it’s a game. Even with some heavy jelly beans on the line, just enjoy the experience and be grateful that Wilfred “Bill” Winkenbach had the crazy idea to create it.
Resolution No. 5: I will play out every season until the end
So, full disclosure, I had one of the worst seasons of all time in what I consider my most important league. We’re talking historically bad, here. We play two matchups each week and I started 3-1. I finished 6-26. We have a record book for this league and my team is going to break nearly every record of futility there is. Regardless of past championships, it will be a blight on my reputation for years to come.
The thing is, if I really played it out as if I were in contention, I probably would have finished 12-20 or something like that. You know, something terrible, but respectfully terrible. Oh, I made sure to set my lineup each week, but I can’t say that I really struggled over lineup decisions. When you’re in 13 leagues, and you’re putting those FAAB bids or waiver claims in on Tuesday night, you don’t always have the stamina to put a ton of effort into analyzing what you should do with a team that’s been dead in the water for some time.
But truly, that is unfair to the rest of your league. You owe it to everyone who is fighting it out to put your best foot forward each and every week and try not to unfairly affect the competitive balance of your league. We’ve all made the playoffs at some point or another because the 12th-place team took out your biggest rival in Week 13. We’ve all seen teams with only a half-active starting lineup gift someone else a playoff berth.
Don’t kill yourself, but make every effort to play out each league as if you were in contention for a playoff spot. Fantasy gods will look kindly on your respect for the game. But for the love of everything decent, please do not make pickups in the playoffs if you’re out of contention, even if you’re in the consolation round. Seriously. Set some limits.