Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Sean Fakete. Follow him on Twitter @FantasyProcess.
Something I think a lot of fantasy football writers don’t do enough is walk people through their own decision-making process. Making start-sit calls, and highlighting useful information and stats are rampant across fantasy twitter and the multitude of fantasy sites out there.
People learn from mistakes, both their own and those of others. Many might find it helpful to learn of the trials and tribulations of those who put more time into fantasy football, like someone who writes about it. A fantasy football writer lives football. Fantasy becomes reality and lines get blurred between rooting for teams and players. I am in so deep, my wife woke me up last week because she said I was muttering “Blake Bortles is a QB1… Blake Bortles is a QB1…” in my sleep. Fantasy football consumes my life, but I don’t always win and I’m not actually very good at this.
For this reason, I want to explain some of the decisions and mistakes (mostly mistakes) I made in my ultra-competitive office league this past week. Now, you hear it all the time, “no one cares about your fantasy team, bro.” Fine, stop reading right now. However, if you want to learn and maybe laugh — with me, hopefully — then keep reading.
The Set Up
In my league, six teams make the playoffs: the best four records and the next two highest-scoring teams. My team entered Week 10 riding a sweet five-game losing streak at three wins and six losses. But because of the last two playoff spots going to the highest scoring teams, I had a very real chance at making the playoffs, as I was only 30 points behind the six seed. Still very much alive, I spent more time than I am willing to admit scrutinizing my lineup.
With Tyrod Taylor on bye, my options at quarterback were Carson Wentz and Ryan Fitzpatrick. You might be thinking to yourself, “Oh okay, now I understand the five game losing streak,” and you are probably right. Week 10 was the main reason I held onto Wentz the past couple weeks. Wentz had the Atlanta Falcons on the schedule, and their +25% PAVE to date. Quarterbacks have continuously lit up this defense all season. Even giraffe-man Mike Glennon scored 9 points against Atlanta in very limited action. Wentz had not been good recently, especially not by fantasy standards, averaging 8.9 points per game over his last four, but bad quarterbacks can do good things (at least that’s what my ankle tattoo says).
This is a Superflex league. I had the option, or so I thought earlier in the week, to start both Wentz and Fitzpatrick. Thursday afternoon, I made a trade to acquire both Jonathan Stewart and Steve Smith Sr. I was happy to land Smith as a sort of afterthought in the trade talks, as wide receiver was already by far my strongest position.
Things got interesting when it occurred to me I could play Smith in one of my wide receiver slots, and if Fitzpatrick were unable to play, I could insert one of my other stud wide receivers in my Superflex spot. The hold-up was I really didn’t want to play Michael Thomas against PAVE’s strongest defense against wide receivers, the Denver Broncos. I have also become overly committed to playing a wide receiver in my flex positions in this point-per-reception format, even though I have gathered a strong core of second- and third-tier running backs through the waiver wire.
I decided to keep Smith out of my lineup, strongly going against my gut. The thing about my gut feelings is sometimes it’s hard to tell if they’re telling me who to start or if they’re telling me to stop eating Chipotle for lunch every day.
Steve Smith Sr. scored 17 points on Thursday. Fitzpatrick got benched. Wentz went on to score a wonderful 8.2 points. C.J. Prosise and James Starks sat on my bench as well, scoring 22.3 and 13.4 points respectively. I lost by seven.
I wanted to tell this story because when I did my weekly re-evaluation of who I started versus who I should’ve started, I realized this scenario is all too common for me. I regret a lot of decisions where I was leaning one way, but decided to instead make the “safe” choice. I would venture to guess that everyone regrets some line-up decisions each week. The important thing is to look back at what you did and where you went right and wrong.
Ultimately, due to the Jets benching Fitzpatrick, I was forced to start Wentz. I learned my expectations were likely too high for Wentz. I should have listened to my irritable bowels and started Smith on Thursday in my Superflex. The upside of Smith was far greater than Fitzpatrick, who I had irrational hopes for when I traded for him two weeks ago.
When I trade for a specific player, I often attach some sort of additional premium to that player’s expectations and stubbornly refuse to believe I made a less-than-optimal trade. Trading for Ryan Fitzpatrick did not work out, and admitting that is the first step in making sure I don’t continue make bad decisions in the future. Now, take look at you rosters and your past decisions. Tell yourself which ones were wrong, I’m sure you have at least a few.
Checking in on PAVE
The last two weeks, I introduced a simple metric I created called Points Allowed Versus Expectation (PAVE) and talked about some of the best and worst teams to start your quarterbacks against. You can go back and read those articles or ask me on twitter if you have any questions.
In Week 10, this is how quarterbacks fared in the best defensive match-ups for according to PAVE:
Detroit Lions (PAVE of +31%): No opponent (Bye)
Atlanta Falcons (+25%): Carson Wentz (12.6 PPG) scored 8.2 points
Cleveland Browns (+24%): Joe Flacco (14.4 PPG) scored 22.1 points
Indianapolis Colts (+20%): No opponent (Bye)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+19): Jay Cutler (8.6 PPG) scored 6.0 points
And here is how the toughest defenses according to PAVE performed:
Denver Broncos (PAVE of -37%): Drew Brees (23.1 PPG) scored 21.0 points
Arizona Cardinals (-24%): Colin Kaepernick (15.7 PPG) scored 23.9 points
Minnesotta Vikings (-23%): Kirk Cousins (17.7 PPG) scored 18.4 points
New York Giants (-23%): Andy Dalton (17.4 PPG) scored 11.7 points
Houston Texans (-16%): Blake Bortles (18.2 PPG) scored 17.7 points
Finally, in case you are still looking to lock in what quarterbacks you want to roster the rest of the season, here are the four passers who will face five defenses with a PAVE greater than zero from weeks 11-16: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, Jared Goff, and Bryce Hacken-patrick. Not the most promising list of signal callers, but if you enjoy heartburn they could be worth a flyer.
Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 11.
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