Mid-term report card

For most of you, it’s the midpoint of the 2020 fantasy football season. This is the time of the year when the analysts and pundits you love will tell you who they picked to excel this year – if said player is doing well. But if said player is not doing well, you’re going to only hear the sound of crickets. In reality, no analyst gets it right all of the time, but the better ones get it right most of the time.

Just like in baseball, a good fantasy sports analyst has a good batting average. But the fantasy predictions and advice must also be weighted based on expectations. For instance, if the analyst predicted Patrick Mahomes would be a top three quarterback at the midpoint, that’s nowhere near as impressive to me as the analyst who predicted Josh Allen would climb into the top three.

On the other hand, a fantasy sports analyst who predicts a bust for a player with an ADP north of 100 shouldn’t impress you as much as the one who gives a bust alert for a player an ADP of 11. If I told you in August that Tarik Cohen would be a bust, you wouldn’t be as impressed with me as if I told you that Joe Mixon would be a bust. Cohen had a preseason ADP of 103, but Mixon’s ADP was 11.   

I wonder what analyst warned you at least three times in print before the season started that Mixon would be a bust? Hmm…okay, that was me. But wait! Are you arguing Mixon isn’t a bust because he’s averaging 16.6 points per game (PPG)? Okay, just back out his 42.1 points in Week 4, and you will discover his PPG drops to 11.5. If Mixon is on your team, are you happy with his production?

The season’s not over, but I’m right about Mixon – so far. But was I wrong about anyone? You bet. So, let’s travel back in time to late August and look at some of my preseason predictions. They are in writing, so I can’t deny them. Frankly, as I’m writing this column, I haven’t checked on them, so this is a bit frightening. But you have a right to know whether I’m any good at this job, or not.

In my running back preview, I also told you to fade Miles Sanders, ADP 12. Sanders, who was RB14 then, is currently RB19. That may not seem like a big miss, but it was more significant when you consider the opportunity cost. Sanders was drafted 15th overall in my home league, and Julio Jones, Aaron Jones, De’Andre Hopkins, Travis Kelce and George Kittle were all drafted after him.  

In the same preview column, I also advised you to avoid drafting Leonard Fournette and Le’Veon Bell, who were both being drafted in the fourth round. Fournette, who was cut by Jacksonville before being picked up by Tampa Bay, is RB 49. Bell, who was cut by the New York Jets before being picked up later by Kansas City, has been injured but was ineffective before he went on the IR. He is RB 84.     

Another running back that I told you to avoid was David Montgomery, who was being taken in the fifth round in most drafts. “He is the lead back in Chicago, and he will get 15 carries per game. But the Bears offense is anemic, and the line was in the bottom quartile last year,” I wrote. Montgomery can’t be considered a complete bust at this point, but his 13.7 PPG is far from stellar.

While panning Montgomery, I lavished praise on Raheem Mostert, who was also being drafted in the fifth round. I pointed to his explosiveness and said that he would emerge from a committee in San Francisco and become a top back. Mostert has averaged close to 20 fantasy points per game when healthy, but has had two injuries – a sprained MCL and now a high-ankle sprain.

I was right about Mostert but I appear to have steered you wrong on Cam Akers. I told you back in August that I believed Akers would also emerge from a committee in Los Angeles and lead the Rams backfield. Akers looked anything but explosive in his first game with the Rams. He was injured in the second week and finally returned in Week 5. He still has a chance to redeem himself.

Topping the list of wide receivers that I was high on last summer was DeAndre Hopkins. I told you to draft him if he slipped to the end of the second round or later. The game script limited Hopkins in his last game against Dallas, and he is now the second-best wide receiver by points at the end of Week 6. But if you have Hopkins rostered, you have to be very happy at this point in 2020.

Another wide receiver I touted was Allen Robinson, who was being drafted in the third round. “Robinson is a wideout that should return value if you select him in the third round,” I wrote. “He returned value last year with a 150-plus target season. He was No. 3 in total targets, trailing only (Mike) Thomas and (Julio Jones). Robinson is currently WR9, and he is averaging 16.6 PPG.

I am very proud to have advocated for Calvin Ridley, who was being drafted in the fourth or fifth round. “While the Titans were last in pass attempts last year, the Falcons were first. This should answer your question about whether Ridley and Jones could both be WR1’s,” I wrote in my wide receiver preview. Ridley is currently the No. 1 wide receiver by points in fantasy football.

Here is a list of the wideouts I told you to avoid in the early rounds: Kenny Golladay, ADP 27.36; Mike Evans, ADP 29.28; Odell Beckham, ADP 32.59; Amari Cooper, ADP 33.41; D.J. Moore, ADP 36.47; JuJu Smith-Schuester, ADP 38.89; A.J. Brown, ADP 41.84; D.K. Metcalf, ADP 48.13; and Courtland Sutton, ADP 49.68. I was wrong on Metcalf, but my batting average on wideout fades was good. 

In my tight end preview, I predicted that this would be a better year for tight ends than in the past, where the position has been thin. I was wrong. Knowing what I know now, I would have invested a third or even late second round pick to lock up Travis Kelce or George Kittle. Mark Andrews had an ADP 47, and he hasn’t delivered value. But Zach Ertz, ADP 55 was far worse.

Another tight end busts this year is Tyler Higbee, ADP 79. He had 28.4 points in the second week of the season and single digits in every other game. He has now been dropped by many fantasy managers. Evan Engram, ADP 82, has a disappointing 7.4 PPG. But Darren Waller, a tight end that I said had value, at ADP 68, is the fourth-best tight end so far in 2020.

There were plenty of names to choose from in the later rounds but the success rate of these tight ends players has been low. I told you to pass on Jared Cook, Mike Gesicki, Rob Gronkowki, Austin Hooper, Noah Fant and Jonnu Smith. But I liked Dallas Goedert, Jack Doyle and Blake Jarwin. I thought Goedert had replaced Ertz as the primary tight end after Week 1 but then he got injured.     

In my quarterback preview, I told you that I embrace the Late Round Quarterback strategy and did not believe in drafting any quarterback in the early rounds of a draft. In other words, if you drafted a quarterback before the 8th round, you didn’t take my recommendation. Therefore, I provided no coverages on Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, etc.

The beauty of the Late Round Quarterback strategy is that you have little invested at the position, so you have little to lose if it doesn’t work out. With that said, if you drafted Russell Wilson in the fourth or fifth round, you’re happy right now. But if you drafted Deshaun Watson in the fifth or sixth round, you were very unhappy until the last two weeks when he put up 24.86 and 32.0 points.

If I had to give myself a midterm report card, I would give myself a B on running backs, an A on wide receivers and a C on tight ends. But there’s still a lot of the season to go, and the final grades are yet to be determined. If your overall draft grade was a C or lower, you can still win your league. But you’re going to have to make some savvy trades, or great waiver wire pickups.  

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter@ThomasLSeltzer1.

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