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Lineup Advice Wrap-up: Hangover, Review & Awards

Let’s wrap up this crazy 2021 football season with some awards and, of course, one last week of advice.

Whew!  And that’s a wrap!

The fantasy hangover can now begin. After 17 weeks of tweaking, adjusting, working, stressing and throwing things at your television, the 2021 fantasy season has mostly, and mercifully, come to its end. As successful as a season as it was for me, this has been the oddest and wildest season yet. So much parity, so many impactful injuries and, late in the season, the Covid wheel of misfortune was constantly spinning and landing on bankrupt. It’s impossible to not be a little hung-over from 2021. But here at DLF, our tag line is “There is NO off-season” and there’s a reason for that. When everyone else is turning off the lights and running down the tunnel, we’re taking the field and ready to run up the score.  For most of you, it’s a time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor and, perhaps, catch your breath just a bit before getting back to work.

I know that some of you do have week 18 involvement and I’ll still take your questions as always. I think all leagues should be taking advantage of week 18 in some form to increase the enjoyment of your league. Just something fun to send your league into the off-season with one last week of play, but with reduced anxiety and stress.

First a quick recap of my own leagues and performance. As a refresher, I’m in 12 dynasty leagues of which, this year, I’m measuring 10 since two of them are orphan adoptions which were in bad shape. I’ve decided to give myself two years, instead of three, to turn those teams around by looking at my history and seeing that 24 mos. is usually enough time to turn a team into a more competitive squad. Not necessarily a championship contender, but a playoff contender and, once there, anything can happen. 8-of-10 made the playoffs. A couple of these teams were just too beat up to do much and fell in the first week. In the end, three of those eight teams made the finals, two of them won a championship. Interestingly enough, one of the teams I had written off, my most dominant regular season squad at 12-2, which lost 40% of its highest scoring players in week 14 and also Derrick Henry earlier, cruised to a win with D’Andre Swift and Rex Burkhead leading the way at running back. But, Ja’Marr Chase at receiver may have helped. I should mention this same team finished 5-8 and out of the playoffs in 2020, only to finish 12-2 and win the championship in 2021. It doesn’t take much to turn the tables in fantasy football.

All-in-all, two championships and one second-place finish is pretty good for ten teams. Considering the injuries I’ve experienced, we all have, I think they’ll be better next year.

How about a few awards and some quick notes from this crazy 2021?

Fantasy MVP Award:  Cooper Kupp, WR LAR

Kupp was an absolute monster this year. I even made the mistake of trading him away in one deal to go big at running back, acquiring Cam Akers. Oops. As it turns out, that trade cost me a championship on a stacked team which faded late due to injury. As for Kupp, he put up a staggering 413 PPR fantasy points as a receiver. That’s not easily done. He is also within range of breaking the 2,000 yard plateau, something no other receiver has done. Calvin Johnson was close nearly a decade ago.

Fantasy Rookie of the Year Award:  Ja’Marr Chase, WR CIN

This was quite unexpected. I knew Chase was good. I pride myself on my scouting and a very ‘applicable metric’ approach to identifying college players who have the potential to transition into the NFL successfully. I’m not afraid of swimming against the current of common thought and hype which the fantasy landscape is well-known for.  All of us scouts will be right, wrong and everything in between, it’s just the way it is. You have to have a sound process and thick skin. I’ve got both. As for Chase, you’d be hard pressed to find a scout who didn’t like what he offered.  My ONLY reservation about him was his size at only 6′.  Most dominant receivers are 6’1″ or greater, and my historical spreadsheets of performance prove that out rather convincingly. But what Chase does have is unbelievable route intelligence and execution. He plays so much larger. He’s going to be good for a long time and finishing as PPR’s WR5 as a rookie is incredible.

Fantasy LVP Award:  Saquon Barkley, RB NYG

This “Least” Valuable Player award could go to a number of players but I’m also trying to keep it to players who played in at least 13 games and under-performed to their ranking. Barkley averaged just over 11 PPR points per game and eclipsed 100 yards only once, in week 17. It’s not all his fault and he also missed three games due to an ankle injury. Between a bad Giants team with no receiver talent and a player who looks like a shadow of his former self, Barkley simply didn’t come close to matching his dynasty value and his ADP is dropping precipitously. If you didn’t move him for a middle-to-high first round selection in 2022 this year, you may have missed your window. At this point, you have to hold on and hope he is moved in the off-season. He has one year remaining on his contract. But, aside from team struggles, Barkley hasn’t shown the ability to remain healthy. He’s only 25 and I can’t think of a more intriguing risk-on selection for 2022 drafts. He’s probably going to slip into the third round of start-up drafts next year and it won’t surprise me if he slips into the fourth.

Out of Nowhere Award:  Deebo Samuel, WR SF

What a year Samuel had! After scoring only 81 PPR points in 2020, Samuel erupted in 2021 as a dual-threat player and scored a whopping 314 PPR points, ultimately finishing as the WR3 behind only Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams. Samuel will turn 26 in just over a week and should be a prominent player for years to come. While all eyes were on sophomore Brandon Aiyuk, it was Samuel who took the team on his back and never looked back. Interestingly enough, he’s still only found as DLF’s WR9. Intriguing.

Rodney Dangerfield No Respect Award:  Hunter Renfrow, WR LV

Anyone remember this from HBO’s Hard Knocks a couple years ago when the network featured the Raiders?

I half-considered doing a side-by-side picture with D.K. Metcalf but that just wouldn’t be fair. When looking at pictures of Renfrow, he’s a player you could be chatting with in the supermarket checkout line and never know he was an NFL star, and he is most certainly that. But he just seems like a guy who had tickets to a Raiders game, got lost and ended up on the field, caught a stray ball on the sidelines and the team signed him up. And let’s face it, on the Raiders, catching anything is noteworthy.  In all seriousness though, Renfrow is a route technician and has the agility and footwork to make defensive backs look silly. He’ll never be an “X” receiver but slot-specialists are valuable now. Ask the Eagles if they’d prefer to have Renfrow or Jalen Reagor.

Renfrow remained healthy all year, averaged over 15 PPR points per game and finished ahead of other notable names such as Mike Evans, Jaylen Waddle, D.K. Metcalf, CeeDee Lamb and D.J. Moore.

You had him pegged as the WR11 in your drafts this year, right?

Zero to Hero Award:  Leonard Fournette, RB TB

I literally couldn’t give Fournette away last off-season. On one particularly stacked team, I was trying to move Fournette for anything in the second-round in my upcoming rookie draft. The best offer I received was for a late-third and I wasn’t willing to move a productive player for what amounts to a 10% chance of drafting a productive player in the third round. While this team fell early in the playoffs, decimated by injuries and lack of performance, Fournette carried the team into the post-season, finishing as the PPR RB5 while falling to injury in week 15. Without the injury, Fournette may have finished as the RB3.  Remember the jokes and criticism about his hands as a receiver?  He reeled in 69-of-84 targets. Scoreboard, baby! He’s entering his age-27 season in 2022.

Comeback Player of the Year Award:  Joe Burrow, QB CIN

Dak Prescott is a close-second here but Burrow’s performance over the past two weeks, averaging more than 40 fantasy points per game, won a lot of leagues for dynasty coaches. That’s enough to tip the scales for me and give him the award. Burrow fell to an ACL in 2020 behind a suspect offensive line and there were more than a few whispers about whether this would be a recurring theme and whether Burrow would suffer from a case of the yips as he got back under center.  True to the concern, Burrow limped out of the gate in his first three games before finding his rhythm and piling up the points, finishing as the QB6 overall.  He’s going to be  good for a very long time.

Fading Star Award: DeAndre Hopkins, WR ARI

It wasn’t long ago that the Texans shocked the world by trading away the fantasy darling to the Cardinals to receive passes from Kyler Murray in the desert. Most forecasted greatness to come. In the end, a combination of fit and injury turned the once-great receiver into a high-ceiling WR2/3 play with oft-weekly disappointments. Hopkins turns 30 in June as is now squarely into the second-phase of his receiving career, that being beyond the peak and on the downside of the mountain. Not many players get better on the other side of 30. Hopkins finished as the WR44 but, without injury, would have squarely remained a WR2. One has to believe he’ll be back stronger in 2022 but he’s not likely to see the lofty valuation again.

James Robinson Draft Snub Award:  Elijah Mitchell, RB SF

Trey Sermon was drafted in the third-round and expected to be the eventual starter in a deep-stable for the 49ers. Instead, sixth-round selection Elijah Mitchell made his move, won the job and rushed for 878 yards and five touchdowns while securing 19 receptions and another touchdown, all while missing six games. Truth be told, forecasting running back usage for the Bay area team is like trying to figure out what Bill Belichick is thinking and something tells me we haven’t heard the last of Trey Sermon. But for now, Mitchell is the back to own, he came in hungry and showed that draft position doesn’t matter, especially at running back. Sermon could be hitting waiver wires near you in the coming months and another year of reduced snaps/production will most certainly lead to more roster cutting. I’ll be there ready to pick him up if/when that occurs. In San Francisco, you just never know.

Summary

I hope you all found a bit of fantasy gold during your championship weeks. If you still have something to play for, you know the drill and I’ll be here to help in any way I can.

I’ll also be following this series up with an Off-Season Advice article to help you all with your roster, trade, draft questions. For those of you who follow me closely, I’ve already started on my rookie search and there are many, many hours of film review to come as I go deep down the rabbit hole to determine the depth and talent of this year’s incoming rookie class. I always do my own work and I most certainly stand by my results. I’m already starting to see the Twitter hype train fall into some common bro-bumping themes for 2022. As is the case every year, I’ll probably pick up another troll or two due to being overtly objective in my analysis.

Good luck in week 18 if you have something on the line!

Please focus on these following items this week for me to help me get to all the questions:

  • Put “TNF” as the top line for any question involving Thursday Night Football games
  • Include your scoring format  (PPR, Non-PPR, etc.)
  • Keep your questions as brief as possible – I won’t have the screens I’m used to over the next three weeks
  • I always try to keep up with responses but, when in doubt, if you have an update post a new question
  • Include your “lock” picks of the week who I should be betting on for this week’s games

Have a great week!

Jeff Haverlack
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Lineup Advice Wrap-up: Hangover, Review & Awards
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Kenny Williams(@ernestoiafrate)
15 days ago

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for all your help this year. Took second losing by 4pts with AB in the lineup. Crushing……..
Can’t wait for next season.

Carter Hunt(@cghunt96)
15 days ago

Year 7 in a dynasty, first 5 years I was in absolute purgatory before finally bottoming out last year. Bit on the MKF promo and subscribed here since I had the first two picks and just won my first championship! Coincidence? No way! Thanks for the content all year!

Jbowdridge(@jbowdridge)
Reply to  Carter Hunt
14 days ago

How did you activate your subscription after doing the MKF promo? I bit the bullet this weekend but still hasn’t been credited so I’m wondering if I missed something. Thanks!

Rahul Brito(@shirtless_dk_boys)
Reply to  Jbowdridge
14 days ago

I think they have to manually approve it so it took like 2-3 business days for mine to go thru

Joaquin Galvez III(@mustangrb41)
15 days ago

Jeff,
I was wondering what platform you use to watch Rookie film review? I know there is Youtube but is there anything else you use to get more film on less known prospects?

thanks

[email protected](@mattdodge40hotmail-com)
15 days ago

Thanks for all you help this year!

Matt

Dale Norwood(@dagwoodinc)
15 days ago

Hey Jeff. It has indeed been a crazy season. In four leagues (2 are Dynasty), one Championship, one runner up and one third place all of which won nice cash. The fourth league is a PUG that I really don’t spend a ton of time on.

In one league (One that I started in 1986) we play the last week of the NFL season but only for the high score. The team with the highest score wins a nice $100. That has been very popular since we started it 6 years ago. That is the league I won so hoping for a little more 💰

Once again, thank you very much for all you do. You really helped me this year. Hope you stay well and will see you again next year. I intend to follow your articles on DLF in the off-season.

Dale

Stephen Atkinson(@ff330)
15 days ago

Kemo,
The follow cut & paste was from your week 14 lineup column –

23 days ago
While I was posting this, Jamaal Williams was put on covid IR and is out for Sunday. Looks like I’m left flexing JRob and ??
Don’t know yet how much either Hilliard or Penny (who breaks easily) will play. McNichols playing may be the problem. Kept thinking Seattle would give Penny a full shot to show something with their season gone but don’t know. Maybe he rescues my team from playoff purgatory in week 17!

With both CEH and JRob out in week 17, along with down games from Hollywood and Waddle, it came down to Penny, who did rescue my team and get me my first FFWC championship there since winning it back in 2012, the league’s first season. Just two teams had won over the past five seasons, so a change was really nice. As a bonus, one of my “lesser” teams in another FFWC league came in 4th out of 550+ teams in the consolation bracket and one of my four “fun” ESPN teams won it’s title game as well. Nine teams, two championships, and a couple of rebuilds that are starting to look much better for 2022.

Worst decision was dropping St Brown before week 12 when I really could have used him later. Thought I was safe dropping him since league rules claim players dropped starting in week 12 can’t be picked up by another team but someone else still got him. Should have had a bit more confidence in him but he hadn’t shown a lot before then. Best decision was turning down multiple offers for Kupp before and after the league’s draft. Definitely my MVP along with Renfrow, my best FA who I picked off BB waivers for $3 back in late September. Hanging onto Penny for three years helped, even though I did draft him two spots in front of some guy named Chubb……..

Thank you Kemo for all of your help and your dedication to the DFL site. You are a valuable resource here. While not a huge drinker of the brew, more than willing to make an exception in your case and share one the next time you visit family down in Tucson! Until then, Tonto says take care of yourself and family. Be healthy and safe. Happy New Year!!

OctavioRibeiro(@octavioribeiro)
15 days ago

Jeff, first and foremost, I would like to thank you for another amazing year. For the third year in a row I’ve been a subscriber (this year thanks to your help) and I couldn’t be happier. The 3-peat HAPPENED!! 3 time champ, in a row, in my 12 year long, 18 teams-15 keepers dynasty league.

Thanks, thanks, thanks! To you and all crew!

Travis Steffey(@steffey)
14 days ago

Hey Jeff,

Question for you but first just wanna say thanks for all your help this year. This is my first year on rhe site and its become a daily read. .5 pt 12 team, i have the 4th pick and was offered the 1st overall and a 23 1st to swap my 4th, waddle and a 23 2nd. im deep at wr with adams, waddle, k allen, e moore, hollywood and r moore but at rb mixon, gibson, dillon and sermon. with the 4th pick im probably gonna miss out on the top 3 backs and end up with burks to add to my already deep receiver group. should i bite at the trade and take the top rb? Thanks in advance

Max Rappoport(@maxrapp3)
14 days ago

Hey Jeff this past weekend I became a fantasy champion for the first time in my life! A great feeling thanks for all the help!

Adam P(@adam24)
14 days ago

Thanks for the help this year Jeff. I won my Dynasty for the first time after a full tank and rebuild last year. Chase had a little bit to do with the win but your advice was rock solid any time I called on you.

Keep up the good work.

Adam

Chris Pellegrini(@njpell)
14 days ago

I won my first two dynasty championships in five years. The common thread between the two: Mr. Cooper Kupp. An absolute monster of a season!

Donald Crawford(@troutslayer1313)
13 days ago

Still charging total points championship
Who would you go with at quarterback
Standard scoring
J Allen m Jones or t hill

wretch(@wretch)
13 days ago

I’ll chime in as well. I’d been in fantasy purgatory for quite a while with an aging lineup. Last year I joined DLF and decided to do a scorched earth rebuild. I finished 2nd overall this year, 3rd in PF, and I have incredible depth at almost all positions going forward. Ran into the eventual champ early in the playoffs and, of course, put up enough points to beat anyone else. Nice to be a powerhouse again.

The Devy and Rookie coverage is really good. The Dynasty focus to everything really helps. Great contributions from all your writers and podcasts. I would love to see additional IDP coverage, specifically Devy and Rookie content with IDP integrated. Tom’s Integrated IDP Rookie Draft in Feb was incredibly helpful.

Thanks DLF!

Last edited 13 days ago by wretch
Mike Wendland(@kobayashimaru)
13 days ago

Hi Jeff,
thank you for your advice this year, which helped me make the playoffs in 3 of my 4 leagues (2x 32-teamer without player copies, 1x 16-teamer). However, in the playoffs anything is possible, so I lost twice in the semi-finals to teams that I soundly beat during the season, and lost the championship in the other league by 1.7 points. The last time I made it to the finals a couple years ago I lost by 0.3 points. So I’m now looking forward to taking a little break from FF until the leagues open up again, or maybe even pick up a new less frustrating hobby, I don’t know yet.
But again, thank you, and good luck for the new league year!

Dale Norwood(@dagwoodinc)
11 days ago

Jeff

in one of my leagues we play in week 18 just for high score which pays $100.

I need to get E. Mitchell in my starting line up. But will have to sit one of these.

C. Lamb
Darrel Williams
Chubb
Chase
Justin Jefferson

leaning sitting Chase based on no Burrow.

Josh3119(@josh3119)
2 days ago

You helped a ton! Thanks for all your efforts. When is Terrance Mashall going to get his shot in Carolina?

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