This is the time of year when the casual fantasy players take a break and are glad that they don’t need to set their lineup anymore. This is also the time of year when dynasty fans take a step back and reflect on the season before we really get down to business in the “off-season.”
In the hopes of helping you reflect on the year and the lessons it taught us, this article will take a look at several items that many (sometimes a majority) in the fantasy football community thought were true at the time but were clearly not the case.
The Madden Curse had people concerned about Megatron
Why some felt this: Some claimed the curse was in full effect early in the season when Calvin Johnson had 3 out of 4 games with under 55 yards and only had one touchdown in the first 7 games. This only made those that were in favor of the curse that much louder.
What happened next: From there, Megatron went on to post 8 straight 100 yard games with a 76/1254/4 line in those 8 games while breaking several all-time records.
What we learned: I hope we all realize curses aren’t real. I also hope we realize Megatron is a special talent. While touchdowns might fluctuate from year-to-year for him and all other players, he’s only 27 and going to be a beast for a long time.
Adrian Peterson was a risky pick in startups and some were claiming this was the beginning of the end
Why some felt this: Entering this season, Peterson was already 27 years old and coming off of a late December ACL plus injury. This was an injury commonly believed to require a full year before RBs could be back to form.
What happened next: Peterson missed training camp, and was on a limited workload in the first two games. Since then, he has posted nine 100+ yard games with nine touchdowns and is knocking on the door of becoming AP2K.
What we learned: Like Megatron, Peterson is a one of a kind talent. Don’t expect others to be back to full strength in 8 months from an ACL injury. However, with the success of Jamaal Charles and others, ACL injuries might not be quite the big deal for RBs like it used to be.
Roddy White, Andre Johnson, and Reggie Wayne were considered too old to be stud WRs
Why some felt this: Turning 31 mid-season, some felt White would see a drop off with Julio Jones taking over. Turning 31 before the season, injuries were the major concern for Johnson. Wayne, the old man of the group, turned 34 mid-season and had a rookie quarterback.
What happened next: All three went on to post at least lines of 87/1300/4 through 15 games, which puts all three of them in the top 10 WRs in PPR leagues. None of them seem to be slowing down at all.
What we learned: 30 years old isn’t quite the magic number for WRs like it is for RBs, but those of you that are premium members already knew that from this. In fact, 4 of the top 10 PPR receivers are 31+ years old. Unless you’re getting WR1 value for these guys, keep them. Don’t sell yourself short.
Michael Crabtree was labeled as a bust
Why some felt this: It is easy to see why those that believed in Crabtree jumped ship on him. After being an early 1st round pick, during his first three seasons he was hardly worth a roster spot.
What happened next: He’ll never be a fantasy number 1 WR, but he is on pace for an 80+/1000+/7+ line. He’s been solid through the last few weeks with at least 4 catches for 65 yards over the last 4 weeks. He’s easily a top 20 guy in PPR leagues.
What we learned: Your roster can’t be filled with RB1s and WR1s. You need some other guys who are consistent to round out the roster. Guys like Crabtree tend to be undervalued because they don’t have the upside or because they didn’t live up to the hype of being a 1st round pick. Seek these guys out. They might not be sexy players, but they are well worth the price.
The leading rusher in 2013 was going to be Bryce Brown
Why some felt this: Maybe I’m blowing the hype out of proportion a bit, but when you see people asking about trading CJ Spiller or Doug Martin for him straight up, it isn’t off by much. Brown exploded onto the scene with 347 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns, and 8 catches over his first two games. That’s a 2,776 yards and 32 TD with 64 receptions pace.
What happened next: Over the next 2 games, Brown had 40 yards on 28 carries – that’s 1.4 YPC. Then LeSean McCoy came back and Brown received a total of 4 touches compared to 22 for McCoy.
What we learned: Brown isn’t going to replace McCoy and he might not even get a worthwhile part of a time share. This is Ben Tate 2.0 in my opinion. In general, this teaches us that studs are studs for a reason. They don’t suddenly vanish. It also teaches us to not over react to a small sample size. I pity anyone that did trade Spiller for Brown.
Some felt Dez Bryant would never get it
Why some felt this: Entering his third year in the league, the three most common times you heard Dez’s name were when someone was talking about “potential,” “injuries,” or “off the field issues.” Sure, he had shown flashes, but it was mixed with injuries and off the field issues like debt and curfew problems. He was starting to look like a kid that wouldn’t get it.
What happened next: This season started slow. He didn’t post his first 100 yard game until week four and didn’t catch his first touchdown until week 6. He finally figured it out though and turned into the second best PPR WR since week 10, trailing only Megatron.
What we learned: First off, Dez is here to stay. It takes some WRs a while, and he just turned 24 a few weeks ago. He might always have a few nicks here and there, but when he’s playing you want him in your lineup. The bigger picture is that you can’t give up on young players too quickly. Not all rookies will bust out right away like the 2012 class. Be patient with your young players. Premium members can take a look here as well if they need a reminder.
One of the hottest dynasty commodities was Ryan Mathews
Why some felt this: Mathews was a top 10 RB in the 2011 season while sharing the load with Mike Tolbert. With Tolbert moving to a different team, it was all but certain in several minds that Mathews would make the jump to top 5 if not top 3 RB as a three down pass catching back.
What happened next: Two broken collarbones, a few little injuries and a few fumbles later, Mathews’ season is done with 959 total yards, 39 catches, and one touchdown. Hardly the top 5 finish many were expecting. Heck, it isn’t even top 30.
What we learned: I’m a firm believer that some people are just made a little stronger than others. These guys seem to never get hurt or when they do they just heal faster. There is the other end of the spectrum as well, which seems to feature Mathews and guys like Darren McFadden. Mathews is still a top 20 dynasty RB in my mind, but realize that like McFadden, you’re going to be missing him for 3-6 games a year.
Free agent WRs changing teams were all going to be top 20 WRs
Why some felt this: When guys that had been solid number two receivers on NFL teams went to greener pastures, many of us were drooling. Robert Meachem, Laurent Robinson, and Pierre Garcon were all supposed to be the top wide outs on their new teams and we were picturing solid WR2 numbers with WR1 upside from all of them.
What happened next: None of the three were even the top WR on their team this year let alone a top fantasy WR. Garcon was the best of the bunch, but struggling with injuries he posted only top 60 WR numbers.
What we learned: New teams aren’t always greener pastures, and sometimes guys are third on their depth charts for a reason. Sure, sometimes they explode on their new teams, but more often they just fade away.
Let’s take a moment to sum up the reminders and lessons that we hopefully learned from this season:
1) The Madden Curse doesn’t exist.
2) ACL injuries aren’t the career threatening injury for RBs that they were 5-10 years ago.
3) 30+ year old WR1s win us championships and should not be sold for pennies on the dollar.
4) Just because someone isn’t a RB1 or WR1 doesn’t mean they are worthless. These are good value buys, especially if someone is disappointed with them.
5) Be wary of small sample sizes, good and bad. Overreacting to them can be disastrous.
6) Be patient with your young players. Sometimes they take a while to mature, and you’ll be happy you waited when they do.
7) Long injury histories shouldn’t be ignored. They also don’t mean you write the players off completely. Just factor it into the price.
8) New teams aren’t always greener pastures. Don’t overpay for a guy that hasn’t done much yet, but is changing teams.