Hi everyone and welcome to the fantasy off-season. It was a wild ride in 2017 and I’m still recovering, but there’s no real off-season in the dynasty world. In the summer I made projections for every IDP in the league I thought would be relevant. You can go back and read all of the 2017 IDP Projections here.
I was right in some places. I was wrong in some places. But either way, it’s important to be accountable and honest so I can figure out why and make adjustments in the future. I’ll be going through every team and noting where I was right and where I was wrong. To do that I’ll show what my projections were, how players actually performed, and how big the discrepancies were.
This was an enormously disappointing season for the Texans. I understand that they had some key injuries, but the unit went from one of the very best defenses in the league in 2016 to pretty abject. Somehow Mike Vrabel turned that transformation (in his first season as a coordinator) into head coach momentum – which is some trick.
D.J. Reader was a pleasant surprise here. He played about the same volume as I predicted, but was way more productive. He outperformed my tackle numbers by about 50%.
Carlos Watkins managed to emerge as the number two tackle, but given he only played 330 snaps, he wasn’t really IDP relevant. I didn’t see that “breakout” coming but I’m not that annoyed about it.
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J.J. Watt. That is all. I had him down as returning to the pinnacle of DEs this year and putting his 2016 injuries behind him. Clearly, that didn’t happen and he played just 218 snaps. People will try to say those snaps weren’t impressive because he failed to record a sack but I thought he was pretty good for them.
I also thought Christian Covington would have a good season. He tore his bicep at the end of October and played fewer than 200 snaps.
The top volume end on the team, in the end, was Brandon Dunn with 419. I was way under with him as I thought he’d be a role player at best. My numbers for Joel Heath were actually close but given the turmoil at the position, I’m not really crowing about that.
Benardrick McKinney was one of my poster boy successes for the season. After an excellent 2016 season, many expected him to excel again but I had low numbers for him which ended up pretty accurate. This is a great illustration of a common mistake in fantasy. We treat high outlier seasons as the new benchmark. People thought McKinney could just capitalize on a good year somehow. In reality regression to the mean is far more likely. I had McKinney down for 56 solo tackles (he managed 62), 35 assists (33), two sacks (three) and three PDs (just one). Boom!
Coming back down to earth, I was thrown off by injury again by the next two players. I had Brian Cushing down as the top option. He, of course, received a long suspension and missed most of the season. When he did play he was extremely inefficient and frankly looks finished as a major NFL player.
If you switch over Cushing and Cunningham I was fairly close but I probably underestimated the rookie anyway.
Let’s get the position thing out of the way first. I had Jadeveon Clowney listed as an LB, as did MFL. In the end, he played a bit more at end than ‘backer but it changed enormously after Watt got hurt. The same thing happened in 2016. I expect MFL to have him as an LB again as the team will plan on using him there.
In terms of numbers then I was accurate. I was out by only one solo tackle and three assists although he did manage four more sacks than I expected. Given the absence of Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt, Clowney getting more of them makes sense.
As I just mentioned, Mercilus was also hurt and missed most of the year after his breakout 2016. That was frustrating and obviously threw me way out. Brennan Scarlett was also hurt, meaning the Texans had to play a long list of JAGs that I won’t go into.
There were yet more injuries here that put me out. I had Kevin Johnson down as IDP gold due for a big season, but he managed just 581 snaps. That meant there was a big hole and Kareem Jackson turned into the Texans top volume corner. That was fairly surprising given his past slot usage, but I was actually very close. He managed five more solos and 11 more assists than I expected but I had his PDs just one out and his interceptions bang on.
Johnathan Joseph also saw some fairly high volume in 748 snaps. Again I was close being just five solos, two assists, two PDs and an INT out.
I can claim no injury issues here really. This was just a simple case of the depth chart. I had Dre Hal down as the top option – which he was. Below that, I expected Corey Moore to play with Marcus Gilchrist as a backup. It was simply the other way around.
It’s worth noting at this stage that the Texans are pretty unique with their safeties. They leave their starters on the field about 90% of the time but also use their two reserve players a significant amount (ten to twenty snaps) each week. This means that it’s rare for any of the players involved to be IDP-relevant.
With Hal, I was really close. I was only out two solos, one assist, three PDs, and an INT. With Moore and Gilchrist, my numbers were okay – but switched over as per the playing time. I claim neither victory nor failure there. If you were relying on Corey Moore to be a good starter for you then you were probably never going to win anyway.
This was a mixed bag. Some huge injuries to Watt, Mercilus, Johnson, and Covington – and Cushing’s suspension – threw me off here, but I was also very good on Clowney, McKinney, Jackson, and Hal. Having Moore and Gilchrist switched at safety was the only outright error I think I made so I’m very happy with this. Hopefully, Mike Vrabel stays in place for another season and the team stay relatively healthy so we can get a good look at what they can do as a unit.
Thanks for reading.