Crystal Ball Week 8 2018

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano

One of my favorite televisions shows to sit back and mindlessly enjoy is Family Guy. The humor may not be for everyone, and the punchlines and schtick can be repetitive at times, but overall the show does a wonderful job of walking the fine line between over the top and childish.

Back in 2005 the show released a direct-to-DVD feature where one of the storylines had Peter Griffin, the bumbling imbecile father become a TV commentator with the line “You Know What Really Grinds My Gears”. He would then proceed to launch a nonsensical tirade and complain about things that were bothering him, from Lindsay Lohan, people who lived in the 19th century to the lack of new jokes around the world about priests and rabbis. The sketch was later turned into an online meme and thrived ever since.

Once and a while, it is good to rant. Get things off of your proverbial chest. Let it all out and don’t keep it bottled up. Fantasy Football is supposed to be an escape away from life, a side hobby that provides enjoyment, not another irritant. There are plenty of things to be upset about in day to day life – finances, politics, relationships.. the list goes on. Don’t make Fantasy Football another addition to the list! With that said, this week’s column is going to feature some of the most memorable Tweets and messages that I’ve received from owners over the last few weeks, attempting to blow off steam. I’m sure that we can all sympathize – screaming into a pillow once and a while is good for our mental health.

Q: I tried to avoid as much risk as I could at the beginning of the first round this year, and went with Leonard Fournette. He wasn’t dealing with a contract dispute, off-field issues, and came into the season healthy. Can you ever remember a bust this big in Fantasy history? ARGH!!!
A: Tom Brady’s ACL tear several seasons ago immediately comes to mind, but it would be hard to argue that Fournette, along with several of the running backs selected over the first two rounds in 2018, represents one of the biggest duds in recent memory.

Given that football is a violent sport based upon quick movement and hard-hitting contact, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that all players (especially running backs) are at risk of a major injury, week in and week out. In the case of Fournette, it has been particularly aggravating (pun intended) since his injury has continued to be marked by setbacks and reoccurrences, rather than a simple broken bone or sprain. Hamstring injuries, along with LisFranc and high ankle sprains, can ruin a player’s season. I’m not a doctor (though my wife is), nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn last night, but having participated in Fantasy sports for a decade and a half, it is safe to say that those three maladies immediately come to mind as groan-eliciting. Fournette missed three games last season with lower body injuries, but after a full offseason to rest and recover his owners were hopeful that he would play all 16 games with monitored usage. Needless to say, that didn’t last long.

He only made it through nine carries in Week 1 against the New York Giants before heading to the injury tent, and after early reports described the injury as “minor”, then proceeded to be a game-time decision the following two weeks before seeing 12 touches in Week 4, and then aggravating his hamstring. The move by the Jacksonville Jaguars to trade for Carlos Hyde last week triggered speculation that Fournette may be placed upon the IR. Thankfully that isn’t the case and he hopes to return for Week 10. He represents a “sell high” candidate to me if he has two solid games upon his return.

Q: You don’t have to remind me about how annoying hamstring injuries are. Want to know who my second-round selection was AFTER I took Fournette? Yep, you guessed it. Everyone’s favorite sleeper – Dalvin Cook.
A: Ouch. Not a ton more to discuss here, and sadly I’ve seen this 1-2 punch referenced plenty during my Twitter feed. The number of owners who took them towards the end of the first and early second rounds was staggering. The sad thing is that having been in that position, I would likely have done the exact same thing. Brutal.

The most recent reports on Cook have him sidelined until Week 11. He has tried on a number of occasions to return to the practice field and battle through the pain, but hasn’t come close to playing since Week 4. Latavius Murray has done an admirable job in his absence, but Cook is by far the more dynamic talent of the two. This situation is perhaps even more frustrating since Cook suffered an ACL tear in 2017, and had all the makings of a top 5 pick prior to his injury.

Q: This was the first season I’ve ever spent more than $1 in my auction draft on a defense. Thanks for nothing, Jacksonville Jaguars!
A: Yikes. The Jaguars defense has been certainly disappointing this year, but has allowed 20 points or less to the opposition in five of the first seven games this season. The major dropoff in 2018 stems from a lack of sacks, fumbles, interceptions and touchdowns. The talent is still there, and the second half of the season has some very favorable matchups that can be exploited. With that in mind.. I wouldn’t have recommended drafting them early at all. Kickers and defenses should always be streamed, in my opinion.

Q: I’ve been trying to convince my commissioner to switch the league format from a snake/standard draft to an auction format, but he stubbornly refuses. I wanted to go all-in on Todd Gurley this year, but was stuck with the sixth pick instead. That left me with Alvin Kamara as the best available, and now with Mark Ingram back he looks awful!
A: I suppose we can tackle this one in two parts.

First and foremost, an auction format is the most fair way to conduct a draft. Period. Give all owners the same opportunity to draft a player. A roll of the dice to determine who walks away with Todd Gurley or Saquon Barkley is infuriating. I’ve long been a staunch advocate and proponent of the format, and I actively avoid participating in snake drafts if I can help it. I hate being told that players I covet I’ll need to “reach” for, or having some luck-based format dictate who I can or can’t consider. Sure, the draft takes a little longer to complete, but it is worth it in the end to have the exact team that you want constructed on paper. I feel you. Perhaps try to convince other owners in your league and put it to a vote instead?

As for the Kamara situation, Ingram’s return was always going to cut into his total snaps and overall value. To think otherwise was foolish. Owners who also anticipated a repeat of last year’s statistics were delusional. Kamara averaged over six yards per carry in 2017, and over 10 yards per reception. Care to guess how often he’s repeated that feat, even with NO Mark Ingram on the field during the first four games? One time, each. Kamara also scored 13 touchdowns last season, a number that was sure to deteriorate. Don’t get me wrong, he is still an elite talent who is a major threat in open space. His burst and agility will always make him a big-play threat. However, Ingram’s return has him back to more of a third-down back and pass catching specialist. He will lose attempts in the red zone and in short yardage, and although he is still a low-end RB1 in PPR formats, his value in standard leagues has disintegrated.

Q: I read through your “Bold Prediction” article that was posted to the Football Diehards site back in late August. The vast majority of your calls seem to be spot on! Great calls on Mahomes, Barkley and Njoku so far. That said, are you still supporting Will Fuller as a breakout WR?
A: I’m still a major supporter of Fuller’s talent, even though he hasn’t found the end zone since Week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts. I did preface in my support for him that he was injury prone and that would dictate his upside. When healthy, Fuller is an elite talent who is capable of stretching the field, and provides a nice 1-2 punch on the outside with DeAndre Hopkins. He has the trust of Deshaun Watson, and his target share has seen a nice spike so far in 2018. With Keke Coutee expected to miss at least one additional week with his hamstring injury, which will open up additional looks for Fuller.

Q: How about those Giants? LOL
A: Sigh. No comment.

Q: You want to talk about injuries? I also had Devonta Freeman and Marshawn Lynch as my backups!
A: I don’t have words. That is rough.

Q: I drafted Aaron Rodgers in the fourth round this year and went against the popular opinion of analysts and experts. He’s been fantastic! How about them apples?
A: No one ever said that Rodgers wasn’t the most talented quarterback in the league still. I think the argument that many (myself included) made against drafting a quarterback earlier than the fifth round (or spending more than $5-10 in an auction draft) was more about the depth of the position. Rodgers has thrown 12 touchdowns through the first seven weeks – numbers that have him tied with Matthew Stafford and Mitchell Trubisky. Both players were selected several rounds later. He has less than 2,000 passing yards to date. Eli Manning and Joe Flacco have passed for more. I could keep going… Rodgers will still finish as a QB1, but you paid a premium price for his name.

Q: The tight end position is currently a total mess. Eric Ebron leads the position in touchdowns.
A: That it is. The “trifecta” of Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz remain as the Mount Rushmore of the position. Outside of that, it is an absolute mess that is difficult to predict. Targets and usage are variable. Gameflow has dictated usage in several situations. Committees have been formed. It goes without saying that next year I’d continue to advocate for teams to stay away at the position in 2019.