OPINION: Win some, lose some

An early look at the fantasy football landscape and what is, and isn't working

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - Tuesdays are my day to peruse all of my fantasy football rosters and take stock of what I’ve got.

In best ball leagues and tournaments, where no roster or lineup changes are allowed throughout the season, there’s nothing you can do. But it’s still useful to look over your teams and try to understand, good or bad, how they got to where they are.

In so-called "managed" leagues, where you do need to add and subtract players week-to-week, you’ve got to stay on top of injury news and also how players are being utilized. If you thought one thing entering the season and after two weeks it looks like another, don’t sit back and expect what you had planned on to happen. The ball coach has a different plan.

By sharing a few of my teams and discussing the different challenges they present, hopefully you can take something with you to your rosters and lineups as we all try to take down these titles.

I’ll present this by showing a team in four different categories: One that looks to be in great shape, one that’s been blown apart by unexpected forces, one that faces some adversity but still has life, and one that might only be salvageable through trading.

With my having more than 200 teams in tow, it should be no trouble to find examples for each.


Puka Nacua
Photo credit Gary A. Vasquez - USA TODAY Sports

We've got a live one

The FantasyPros Championship at the FFPC is a tournament with nearly 17,000 teams. You play in a 12-team league, but your regular season is shorter than in traditional leagues to allow for a late-season, three-week "sprint" featuring the top teams across the whole field.

These drafts commence in the spring, and the fantasy community is divided on whether drafting as early as April, with so much information yet to be gleaned, is a good idea. (My answer, as is plainly obvious, is to always be drafting.)

With my partner Mike, I drafted a team in this tournament Sunday, April 30, the morning after the 2023 NFL Draft. It was a first chance to draft knowing where each rookie was headed.

Through two weeks, this team is in the top-200 overall, the top 1% of the field:

- QB: Kirk Cousins, Jordan Love
- RB: Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs, Raheem Mostert, Roschon Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, Keaton Mitchell
- WR: CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Marquise Brown, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, George Pickens, Puka Nacua, Josh Downs, Jameson Williams
- TE: T.J. Hockenson, Daniel Bellinger

Puka Nacua! What a story!

Nacua has 25 catches through the first two weeks, more than any player in history – let alone a Day 3 rookie. Credit to my partner for this 17th round pick of ours.

According to FantasyMojo.com, Nacua was drafted in only 39% of leagues in this tournament.

We’ll hope to ride Nacua’s success, as well as others in our starting lineup, all while aggressively spending waivers money to position ourselves for a run in that playoff sprint.

Long way to go, though.


Amon-Ra St. Brown
Photo credit Gregory Shamus - Getty Images

Keep chugging along

Our previous team was drafted nearly five months ago. This team, in the same FFPC tournament, was drafted Sept. 8. Yes, that’s after the Lions-Chiefs opener.

One fun feature of these FFPC tourneys is you can reset your lineups after the first game. Why? Because drafts continue through that Saturday before most teams open their seasons, and you can’t have some teams within one tournament draft with knowledge of what happened in that opening game and others not.

This feature absolutely does affect draft boards, which makes sense.

In that previous April draft, Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown was chosen at pick 2.04. He often went in the first round through the summer, so the team that picked him at 16th overall got great value.

I wouldn’t say I got "great value" when I chose him at 1.03 in this Sept. 8 draft. This was the morning after the opener, in which St. Brown went for six catches, 71 yards and a touchdown. St. Brown followed that up by going over 100 yards in Week 2.

This team sits 1-1, but only 10th out of 12 so far in points. The roster:

- QB: Daniel Jones, Deshaun Watson
- RB: Jahmyr Gibbs, Dameon Pierce, Miles Sanders, Damien Harris, Tyjae Spears, Kendre Miller, Deon Jackson
- WR: St. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Drake London, Treylon Burks, Smith-Njigba, Jalin Hyatt, WanDale Robinson
- TE: David Njoku, Jake Ferguson

Running back is so tough.

Injuries, such as the devastating one suffered by Cleveland Browns star Nick Chubb on Monday night, throw fantasy seasons into disarray. Sometimes injuries to other players mess you up too; Houston’s offensive line was ravaged by injuries in the month of August, leaving Dameon Pierce, a good young running back, little chance of success in the season’s first two games.

As so often happens in fantasy football, the running back position is in a constant state of flux, forcing managers to always be on the lookout for the next guy to have a chance to play and succeed. We’re in tough at RB2 here, but there’s enough potential to make things interesting.


Josh Jacobs
Photo credit Mark Konezny - USA TODAY Sports

What happened?

Few teams felt better post-draft this summer than a best-ball team I drafted with my "Deep End" podcast co-host Adam Krautwurst the weekend of the Fantasy Football Expo in Canton, Ohio.

This was Aug. 11 – before we knew Colts running back Jonathan Taylor would miss, at least, the first four regular- season games in a contract dispute, but not before there was some uncertainty about his status that caused him to sometimes slip out his usual range in the second round.

Josh Jacobs was holding out at this time as well. Adam and I were thrilled to get Taylor at pick 3.11 and Jacobs at 4.02. Easy game!

Well, this team sits dead last through two weeks. Why? Taylor and Jacobs have combined for 12 fantasy points so far, and to this point, we have struck out with depth at the position.

The roster:

- QB: Tua Tagovailoa, Kenny Pickett, Matthew Stafford
- RB: Taylor, Jacobs, De’Von Achane, Jamaal Williams, Chase Brown, Ty Chandler, Isaiah Spiller
- WR: Cooper Kupp, Mike Williams, Diontae Johnson, Mike Evans, Pickens, Rashee Rice, Hyatt, Justyn Ross
- TE: Mark Andrews, Juwan Johnson

Some of these players have had strong showings. Evans was a stud in Week 2, for example.

We have enough at the other positions to hang around, but the goose eggs at running back, so far, are getting us buried. Even with Jeff Wilson’s injury in Miami, Achane hasn’t gotten a look yet. It’s Joshua Kelley with the Chargers, not yet Spiller. Jamaal Williams is, at least, starting, but he hasn’t produced.


D.J. Moore
Photo credit Michael Reaves - Getty Images

Let's make a deal

My “Empire Niagara” dynasty league has just entered Season 3, and through the first two years, my team has been the worst. Struck out on Trey Lance in the startup, spent two seasons stuffing Kyle Pitts into weekly lineups, blew a first-round pick in Season 2 on Jameson Williams ... the usual combination of bad decisions and bad luck.

This year, so far I’m 2-0. The team has a lot of interesting depth, but lacks a stud or two at receiver. Do I go after one and play to win?

- QB: Justin Fields, Kirk Cousins
- RB: Bijan Robinson, Travis Etienne, Isiah Pacheco, Samaje Perine, Alexander Mattison
- WR: D.J. Moore, Brandon Aiyuk, Brandin Cooks, Kadarius Toney, Quentin Johnston, Jameson Williams, Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool
- TE: George Kittle, Chig Okonkwo, Luke Musgrave

Those aforementioned FFPC tournament leagues do not allow trading. But in this league, and probably most of yours, trading is not allowed – it’s a vital tool in taking your teams to the top. Draft picks are traded in dynasty leagues with, just as in real sports, rebuilding teams looking to stockpile picks from the “go for it” teams.

This team won’t win sitting still. Time now to wrap this up and go hunting for a WR1.

I’ll be back with regular updates on these rosters and/or others. Feedback is always welcome at @Schopptalk.

Thanks for reading!

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
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