Thursday, November 1, 2012

Apparently I'm terrible at projecting fantasy performances

You may have noticed, but this week I'm in a lazy retrospective mood, so while earlier this week we took a look at my preseason predictions for the NFL, this time around I'll be assessing my preseason fantasy football predictions.  I wrote a post detailing some of the "post-season awards" that I purported would be given out at the end of the season, and upon re-reading the post, I am amazed at the degree to which I was wrong.  I'll explain why I was wrong, and who would have been a better pick for that award had I been clairvoyant a couple months ago.

The Don’t Chase the Career Year Award  --  Rob Gronkowski  --  After scoring a ridiculous 17 touchdowns and having over 1300 yards last season, I suspected that the Regression Imp would strike Gronk, since he more than doubled his receptions and yards and had a significant uptick in touchdowns.  Well, this year he's on pace for 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns, and is currently 26 points better than any other tight end.  Oops.
Who should it have been? Matthew Stafford threw for 5000 yards, 40 TD, and just 16 INTs in 2011, but with a significant dropoff in deep passing (and therefore touchdown) output this year, is on pace for 4800 yards, 18 TD, and 16 INT this year, with 50 more pass attempts.

Best Fantasy French Guy – Pierre Garcon  --  I could probably get myself off the hook here since he's only played in 3 games, but it's not like the 4 receptions for 44 yards in his two most recent games is doing you any good.  I still maintain that with a dynamic running game to keep attention away from him, he would be a good option, but he just can't get on the field.
Who should it have been?  Andre Roberts (pronounced "Ro-bear" for the purposes of this exercise) has somehow managed to be the 17th best fantasy wide receiver, thanks to three games in which he has totaled 18 receptions for 275 yards and 4 touchdowns (as compared to 18/179/1 in the other five).  And let's face it, the competition wasn't exactly fierce.

Most Likely to Induce a Pun Around a Logistics Company – Donald Brown  --  Speaking of fierce competition... I actually don't feel too bad about my call here, as Brown has averaged 8 points per game in the games in which he has played, which would put him at 23rd among running backs after being drafted closer to 30th.  We'll see if a couple touchdowns swing him up into the top 20.
Who should it have been?  Bet you didn't see Andre Brown coming, didya?  Currently the 22nd-ranked RB despite not playing in three games, he's been helped significantly by one breakout game against the Panthers and two touchdown-vultures in the last two weeks (he's on pace for 10 TD).

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year – Mike Trout  -- Who knows, the split vote between Luck and RGIII could give Trout the surge he needs?

MVGWGLN (Most Valuable Guy With a Generic Last Name) – Ryan Williams  -- Yeah, so we're just going to glaze over the 3 yards-per-carry and season-ending injury and move on.
Who should it have been?  How about giving some love to Vincent Jackson!  A Fantasy Whac-A-Mole (credit to ESPN's Fantasy Focus podcast) for much of his career (and really, he still has three stinker games), Jackson has exploded for his new team, with 5 touchdowns and three 100-yard-games in his first seven with the new squad.

Wile E. Coyote Award (Guy most likely to fall off a cliff) --  Marshawn Lynch – The back spasms haven't hurt him at all (pun intended), as he picked up right where he left off, gaining an impressive 4.8 yards per carry while being on pace for 1500 yards (albeit with half as many touchdowns as last year).  The touchdowns might go up a bit, but the yardage will probably decline, so he should be right on par with last season.
Who should it have been?  In the interest of not discussing players listed in the next group, I'll go with Calvin Johnson.  After averaging 100 yards and a touchdown per game in 2011, he is still on pace for 1500 yards (although he has just 80 in his last two games combined), but with just two (!) touchdowns.

Quarterback Conglomerate of the Year – The Romo, Ryan, Rivers, Manning, and Manning Group  --  I argued that all of the above quarterbacks would be almost indistinguishable from a fantasy perspective, and gave all sorts of evidence to support that notion.  So let's see: Romo and Rivers have been terrible (21st and 28th among QB's), Ryan and Peyton Manning have been very good (6th and 5th among QB's), and Eli Manning has been right in his own usual wheelhouse (9th among QB's).
Who should it have been?  How about this group for you: Alex Smith, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Michael Vick, and Carson Palmer are separated by just four total fantasy points.  They were drafted between 4th and 23rd among QB's.

The I Am Legend Award – Steven Jackson –  Man, it just gets worse and worse.  I was arguing for taking Jackson at the back end of the top 10 running backs due to his guaranteed workload and durability.  Well, he's played in every game, but he's on pace for his lowest yardage total since 2004, his lowest yards-per-carry ever, his lowest touchdown total ever, and he's now splitting carries with Daryl Richardson!  Blech.
Who should it have been?  Shonn Greene -- SHONN GREENE -- is the 12th-highest-scoring fantasy running back this season.  Now, I should note that 40% of his scoring came in one game, but points are points, I guess.

The “She turned me into a newt!....... I got better” Award  --  Michael Vick  -- You don't need to tell me, I own him in my family league.  Oh, and I'm an Eagles fan.  It's been brutal, and now he might even lose his job.  And he hasn't even gotten injured!  I can't even talk about this.
Who should it have been?  Last year, Reggie Wayne was immersed in a sea of terrible quarterbacking (no one, and I mean NO ONE, should think that Dan Orlovsky is the answer at quarterback), finishing 29th among fantasy WR's in 2011.  This year, he's gotten really Lucky, and is on pace for a ridiculous 123 receptions for 1700 yards!

Fantasy MVP – Darren McFadden  --  This really is just a comedy of errors, isn't it?  McFadden has really struggled to produce behind an offensive line that is still learning the zone-blocking scheme, and just like Vick, McFadden has been bad without even sniffing the injury report!  He's eked into the top 20 among running backs with a decent game last week, but still hasn't done much to even convince me that he's the most valuable Raider!
Who should it have been?   Considering draft position, this has to be Robert Griffin III.  He's done almost exactly what Cam Newton did last year fantasy-wise, which is why he was almost universally drafted, which contrasts with Newton's rookie year.  Griffin should regress in the second half as defenses figure him out, but he's still an elite option for the rest of the year.

Honorable Mentions (aka people I didn’t feel like working into award titles)

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Percy Harvin, Eric Decker, Peyton Hillis, Mikel Leshoure, Greg Olsen

It's a mixed bag here.  Harvin, Decker, and Leshoure have been good (Harvin very much so), while the rest of them have been very "meh."  Fitzpatrick has had some very December-like games (for him) earlier in the year, Hillis has been hurt, and Olsen has been brought down significantly by Cam Newton's step back.

Dishonorable Mentions (pretty much the same, but negative.  Duh.)

Andre Johnson, Trent Richardson, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Jermichael Finley

I feel very good about Johnson and Finley, but Richardson, Welker, and Thomas are no worse than 10th at their positions.  Brandon Lloyd hasn't hurt Welker's value at all, Richardson has been matchup-resistant (but not injury resistant), and Thomas has been a lot more respected a target for Manning than I thought he would be.

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