It’s time to say goodbye

Dear readers, it’s time to say goodbye. Not wanting to embarrass myself with my advancing age, I am stepping down as a fantasy football analyst just a few days before my 67th birthday. It’s better to retire when you’re at the top of your game, but I clearly missed that exit point, so it’s time to cut my losses and retire before Todd Zola and the folks at CreativeSports put me out to pasture.

You see, it’s like this. I entered the long Labor Day weekend with high hopes. I had completed hours of research and really thought I was prepared to smoke two Yahoo drafts. Ready, player one. Drafting on Sunday in David Lehuquet’s private league (invitation only), I was picking from the third spot. As expected, Jonathan Taylor and Christian McCaffrey went off the board.

Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp and Ja’Marr Chase were still on the board, but I opted to select Austin Ekeler – even though this is only a half-point PPR league. If Ekeler matches his 70 receptions from last year, that’s only 35 fantasy points, not 70 like I’d get in full PPR. But he was the best running back left on the board, and I was leaning into running backs by design.

The fourth round is where the wheels fell off in this draft, according to Yahoo. I took Cam Akers with the 46th overall, pick.  “Despite open slots at quarterback and wide receivers in the 4th round, Alpha Dog (that’s me) drafted running back Cam Akers with the 46th pick, filling the WR/RB/TE flex position at the expense of a position of greater importance.”

Darn. I did draft Amon-Ra St. Brown, Marquise Brown, Darnell Mooney and Elijah Moore in the next four rounds, but I guess it was too little, too late to salvage the draft. The Yahoo analysts responsible for my report card did have one good thing to say. “Alpha Dog netted a mid-round value when they (me, myself and I) chose Stafford at No. 118, about 22 spots later than his ADP of 96.”

But the compliments were few and far between on this review. Listen to what the analyst said about my decision to draft Darrell Henderson, Jr. in the 9th round with the 99th pick. “Everyone thinks they’re the next fantasy expert these days, so there’s no telling who led you to select Henderson Jr. in the 9th round, about 22 picks earlier than his ADP of 121.”

Silly me. I had this crazy idea that if I had both Akers and Henderson rostered, I would own the backfield of the Super Bowl champions. If Akers is injured (probably when, not if), Henderson steps in. “He will need to outperform expectations to top last year when he rushed for 688 yards and 5 TDs and grabbed 29 passes for 176 yards and 3 TDs over 12 games,” the analyst writes.

Okay, okay. I stand corrected and clearly don’t know what I’m doing. Through my tears, I read the Yahoo analyst’s conclusion: “Blessed with a solid draft position (No. 3 overall), expectations were high for Alpha Dog. But those expectations vanished instantly after they (me, myself and I) drafted, as this team is headed for an unexceptional 7th-place finish in The Leftovers.

“Mayonnaise, middle of the road, mediocre. All words that describe this draft,” the analyst summarizes. There’s no sense even wasting my time setting my lineup each week in this league. My time would be better spent working to obtain world peace, putting a halt to climate change, or rearranging my sock drawer.  Clearly, I have no chance of winning this league.

But what about other Yahoo draft mentioned above? Surely, I would do better the next day when I drafted in my shallow 10-team home league. After all, this was a league I won five years ago. But, alas, that was five years ago. I was younger then and able to think clearly about football. Granted, I haven’t won this league, or even made it to the finals, in the last four tries.

But hope springs eternal – or at least it did until I got my next report card. “If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the draft room. Doubting Thomas folded under the pressure of this draft. Picking No. 9 overall, they (me, myself and I) were clearly overmatched. Doubting Thomas are predicted to finish 9th in The Negative Equity Club with a record of 4-10,” the analyst wrote.

On Tuesday morning, I went looking for a rusty razor blade to put an end to my misery. But my wife really hates it when I get blood on the carpet. And I couldn’t find one, anyway. Damn safety razors. I recall a quote from someone. It’s been said that a person can live forty days without food, four days without water, four minutes without air, but only four seconds without hope.

With all hope gone, I have to ask one final question. What went wrong in this draft? Fortunately, the Yahoo analyst didn’t leave me in the dark. Just read: “In spite of remaining openings at quarterback and wide receivers, in the 4th round, Doubting Thomas drafted running back James Conner at No. 32, filling the WR/RB/TE flex position at the expense of a position of greater importance.”

That’s exactly the same mistake I made in the previous Yahoo draft in the same round. Wasn’t it Albert Einstein who summed it up best? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I just kept drafting that third running back in the fourth round when I didn’t have a single wide receiver rostered. That’s just downright foolish, isn’t it? Or, is it?

Here’s my point, emerging from a bath of satire. Everyone has a different idea of what a good draft looks like. In reality, I like both my Yahoo drafts and my ESPN draft because I executed my draft plans according to script. I took my running backs early, I took my tight end early and I waited on wide receivers. I took 33 wide receivers and running backs in these three drafts.

I watch other people draft, and I shake my head when I see manager taking quarterbacks early, or opting to get their defenses and kickers in the 10th and 11th round to fill all of their starting roster spots before building bench depth. But I need to check my ego at the door because that manager may wind up beating me. Each manager has a different philosophy, and who am I to call them a fool?

Let me conclude with a story to illustrate this point. Last year, my sister-in-law approached me with a trade offer. She offered to trade Chris Carson for Najee Harris. I told her that as a co-commissioner of the league, I had a responsibility to insure that all trades were fair. That’s why I vetoed an earlier trade she had attempted to make, trading Carson for Henderson. I was trying to protect her.

Before the trade offer, I had been bad mouthing Harris because the dude couldn’t gain any rushing yards, or break any tackles. On the other hand, I loved Carson. At the time she offered the trade, Carson’s trade value was significantly higher than Harris’ trade value on most charts. However, Candy was persistent and I finally agreed to accept the offer. The rest is history.

The Steelers rookie running back had a league-leading 381 touches in 2021, and finished as the RB4 in full-point and half-point PPR scoring as a result. Carson played only two more weeks after I traded for him. A neck injury ended his season and his career. Candy won the league. Ironically, I took Harris in the second round of my home league draft this year with the 12th overall pick.

Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, writes about football and baseball for CreativeSports. Be sure to follow Thomas on Twitter@ThomasLSeltzer1.

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