Already this year, our workplace fantasy league (which is the one that counts to me) is less exciting. A couple of years ago, our school split. We managed to keep some of the teachers who went to the new school in the league last year, but they started their own faculty league this year. So I went on the recruiting trail for some new players this year. I found a few enthusiastic new players and thought the league was set. Then we ran into a hiccup: we've always used Yahoo! as our platform, but our district's new filter blocked Yahoo! fantasy sports. We typically draft together after school, but we couldn't do it on Yahoo! this year. So I had to switch the league over to ESPN. However, when faced with the prospect of having to create an account on a new system, three of our lukewarm players dropped out. So instead of a 12-team league, which I love, we have a less-than-ideal nine-team league. That's disappointing to me. On the flip side, the nine players we have are pretty much all-in. There shouldn't be any cupcake victories because somebody left their three players who are on IR in the starting lineup because they haven't logged in since Draft Day.
Since the NFL kicks off tonight, let's have our annual look at Trevor P's Myopic Chihuahuas. All cards are in my collection
QB: Trey Lance, San Francisco
Not the QB I wanted. But we had one player who drafted all of the QBs. I'm not sure why. I think he missed out on all the running backs, so he drafted Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, and Lamar Jackson instead, thinking he could flip one for a decent running back. So in a nine-team league, I somehow ended up with the projected QB11. I've yet to decide if I'll bite on a QB trade.
RB1: D'Andre Swift, Detroit
I believe in D'Andre Swift. I think he'll have a good year. But I can't say that drafting any Lion running back as a starter doesn't give me pause. Still, he was my biggest target going into the draft, and I came away with him, so I can't complain.
RB2: Javonte Williams, Denver
I also believe Williams will take a firm hold on the RB1 spot for the Broncos, rendering Melvin Gordon irrelevant. Russell Wilson will loosen defenses up like Mile High hasn't seen since Peyton Manning, and Williams will have room to run. That's how I envision this going, at least.
WR1: Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati
Actually, Swift wasn't my #1 target. This guy was. I was happy to get him. But this is why my roster makes me nervous: this is the third player in four slots that is entering his second season. And I have more in my FLEX and bench spots. For some reason, those players looked attractive to me this season over more established vets. Chase was huge last year. He will be again this year. But I'm relying on a boom-or-bust breakout strategy.
WR2: Stefon Diggs, Buffalo
I ended up with Diggs last year, too. I didn't intend to go after him this year, but he fell to me for just $3 more than I had budgeted for my second receiver slot. Given that I was also projecting the other guy I was targeting to have a breakout year, I pulled the trigger on the higher ranked, more proven commodity.
TE: Dalton Schultz, Dallas
Tight end is always my Achilles' heel. I tried to fix that by going hard after Kyle Pitts, whom I think I will have a monster year with Marcus Mariota at quarterback and no proven play-makers on the outside. But I wasn't the only one going after Pitts, apparently, and he ended up being too rich for my blood. I'm high on Shultz, though. I had him ranked as the TE4, ahead of Darren Waller and George Kittle. It's a big drop-off from the Kelce, Andrews, Pitts tier, but I think my fellow Utahn will serve me well.
FLEX1: A.J. Dillon, Green Bay
Maybe this was a homer pick of me, but I don't think so. Dillon has been great since the Pack drafted him. I know he's behind Aaron Jones, but he still got plenty of playing time last year and made the most of it. I expect even more evenness in the backfield this year, and I think Dillon will roll.
FLEX2: Rashod Bateman, Baltimore
In this league, we play two FLEX with no kickers. It's more fun that way. Here is yet another second-year player I'm counting on to take the leap. He's now WR1 in Baltimore, so that's positive. We all know that WR1 in Baltimore doesn't equate to huge volume, however. I think he'll be solid as my third wideout, though.
Defense: Tampa Bay
I tend to stream my defenses, but this year I anticipate keeping the Bucs for a while.
RB: Chase Edmonds, Miami
RB: Dameon Pierce, Houston
RB: Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta
WR: Allen Lazard, Green Bay
WR: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit
WR: Christian Kirk, Jacksonville
My bench is filled out with rookie running back stashes that I think will see a lot of volume by season's end (Pierce and Allgeier) and receivers who may be weak options, but are at least the top guy for their teams (all three--Lazard, St. Brown, and Kirk). I'm hoping that a couple of these guys pay off as they become "The Man" for their teams.
My draft went mostly according to plan. The only major regret I have is not getting Rashaad Penny. He was big for the last few weeks last season, and with nobody else currently in the backfield, I thought he'd be able to pick up again where he left off. So I nominated him late in the draft. It took everybody else in the room by surprise and one guy looked at me and asked, "Do you seriously want him?" I made the mistake of answering truthfully and set one other player after him. In the end, he had more money to spend and I missed out. My other doubt is that I had wanted Derek Carr as my QB before I knew we were down to a nine-team league. With nine teams, though, I figured I could do better. After I failed to get any top-tier QB, I had the chance to get Carr according to my original plan. But I second-guessed that idea and opted for possible rushing yardage from Trey Lance. Now I think I may want that one back. We'll see.
It's rare that I can budget and build a dream line-up before a draft and basically see it come to fruition. I had to make very few in-game adjustments. So if this season doesn't work out, I'll know it was a faulty game plan from the beginning.
What are your thoughts? How does this team look to you? How does it stack up against yours? Are you ready for some football?
One last thing--none of us are too satisfied with the ESPN platform so far. I decided to try the NFL.com site with a team, just to test it out for next season. I signed up for a custom public league with a salary cap draft. When I signed up, I noticed that the commissioner had set the budget for $700 instead of the customary $200. I tried to adjust my position budgets accordingly, but when the draft started, I found that all of the teams but one were on autodraft. The result was that the bots typically drafted according to preset budget estimates based on $200 while I was free to go as high as I wanted. I missed 45 minutes of the draft and still ended up with this lineup:
QB: Joe Burrow (Proj. QB8)
RB: Joe Mixon (Proj. RB5)
RB: Najee Harris (Proj. RB6)
WR: Davante Adams (Proj. WR4)
WR: CeeDee Lamb (Proj. WR5)
TE: Travis Kelce (Proj. TE1)
FLEX: James Conner (Proj. RB14)
K: Justin Tucker (Proj. K1)
DEF: Buffalo (Proj. DEF1)
QB: Dak Prescott
RB: A.J. Dillon
RB: Devin Singletary
WR: Terry McLaurin
WR: Jerry Jeudy
WR: Rashod Bateman
This league means nothing more than a test of the NFL.com platform, but I am still laughing at how this lineup turned out.