You know what Really grinds my gears?

Each year the preseason brings things that drive me crazy, or in sticking with the title, grinds my gears.

An analyst will tell you “not do do something” then turn around and do it themselves. That is just one example, and I’ve got a dozen more for you.

Below are some things that I see going on across the industry that drive me crazy, I disagree with, or need further explanation before we get into some of the biggest drafting weekends of the fantasy football season.

DON’T BUY THE HYPE

Every year someone does something in limited preseason snaps or in shorts and everyone goes nuts. One cut as a running back or a drive by an offense and we suddenly seem to know everything about that player.

I can’t tell you how many podcasts I have listened to where we “know something” based on 15 plays. Conclusions made based on the smallest of samples. “He targeted him on 3 of his 8 passes. He is going to look his way a lot!” Every time I hear things like that my eyes roll so much it makes me dizzy.

But at the same time you can’t completely ignore what you see in the preseason. The rookies – we don’t know a lot about them – so seeing what they do against NFL defenses is meaningful. But also remember, these defenses are not scheming to stop guys in the preseason like they would in the regular season.

Another preseason pet peeve is confirmation bias vs. small sample. If we, by we I mean the fantasy community, think a player is good and he goes out and has a nice game, BOOM, he is great and we were right. If a player we were high on doesn’t do much the general feeling is, well… it was just one game in the preseason, no need to worry.

For me, the preseason hype I follow just comes with the late round targets. Getting someone like Chris Carson or Tarik Cohen at the ends of drafts last year because of a good preseason. I am not vaulting guys up from rounds 7-8 to rounds 4-5 because of, when all said and done, amounts to about one game’s worth of preseason action. This year, it looks like that means I wont be getting Kerryon Johnson.

Bad press isn’t always good press, and good press isn’t always good press

Old adage of there is no such thing as bad press doesn’t apply in fantasy sports. For me it is really there is no such thing as good press.

EVERYONE is doing well in the preseason. Like I tell people when they go to Kohl’s, I am an anti-Kohl’s guy – sorry everyone, when everything is on sale nothing is on sale. In this case, when everything is good news, nothing is good news. But when you hear something bad, when 98 percent of the things coming out of camp are good, you need to take notice. Whether that is someone struggling in a certain area or someone having injury issues, there needs to be at least a little red flag.

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me

The amount of times people say they won’t take a player because they burned them in the past is astounding. Last year “I won’t draft Gurley, he killed me before last year!” That didn’t work too well. Don’t let a bad season turn you off of a player. Sure, maybe you won’t take a guy where you would have in the prior year, but that player still has value. Don’t ignore him at that value just because you got burned the year before.

Guys like Kelvin Benjamin, Bilal Powell, Isaiah Crowell are all going way later than where they were last year. Down seasons in 2017? Sure, but there is still value.

WE KNOW

All the time. We know the backup is better, or should I say we know. Get (insert uninspiring starting running back) off the field, the backup to the starter (who is younger that we don’t have a huge sample of) is so much better.

What always cracks me up about this is, it’s a constant cycle.

For example, let’s take a look at the Bengals.

2013: BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the starter. Newly drafted Giovani Bernard backs him up. Green-Ellis leads the backfield, but why? We know Bernard is so much better.

2014: What a relief. Green-Ellis is gone. Time for Bernard to take over. Bernard gets hurt and Hill takes over. Bernard is healthy, “Let Hill play! He is so much better!

2015: Now we are in “Hill is great, Bernard isn’t more than a passing downs back” territory and we don’t want him taking so much work from Hill.

2016: Both players are bad and we want Rex Burkhead to get more work

2017: GET BERNARD AND HILL OFF THE FIELD AND LET JOE MIXON PLAY.

If Mixon doesn’t have a great year this year, next year people will be calling for whoever is behind him on the depth chart to be the top guy. Until a star emerges, fantasy analysts and owners are always going to assume the next guy is better. It is like when people joke that the favorite player of a fan-base is the backup quarterback, for fantasy people it is the backup running back.

They paid him so he should have a big year

Do you know how many times NFL teams give terrible contracts to players? It happens all the time. We assume big money equals big fantasy year.

Remember that time the Seahawks gave big money to Matt Flynn?

Yes teams will want to make their investment look like it was a good idea, but once the game starts do you really think it breaks down like this.

Mitch Trubisky gets in the huddle and calls the play. He walks to the line and sees Cohen lined up against a linebacker and Kevin White left singled up on the outside. He looks to a double teamed Allen Robinson and hot routes Trey Burton to run a route, because well… they have to, they paid him! Snap, he drops back to pass and Cohen burns the linebacker, Kevin White breaks open, Burton is covered, but without him blocking Trubisky is about to get hit. Allen Robinson was the big free agent add so he chucks it up in the air into double coverage.

OK, I probably went overboard there, but you get it, right? Teams may design plays for certain big money guys, but once the ball is snapped no one is playing to make sure the guy who got paid gets the ball.

The quarterback conundrum

Almost everything you read is going to say wait on quarterbacks. I agree with this, but you need to know what waiting on quarterback means. Back in the day when people pounded the table to wait it was because quarterbacks were going in the first and second round. Now? Rodgers is the first quarterback off the board at pick 26 according to fantasy pros ADP. Much more bearable. Still probably a round earlier than I would want to take him, but it makes sense.

Don’t wait for the sake of waiting. If you are drafting and everyone is waiting and it’s the fifth and Aaron Rodgers is still there? Jump. Don’t just say I am waiting until the 10th round to take a quarterback.

Also don’t take two with the idea you will be able to trade one. When you take Philip Rivers as your second quarterback, what are you really expecting to get in a trade? Do you think someone is going to deal something of real value to go from say Marcus Mariota to Rivers?

In general I am a no backup guy at quarterback. If you have deep benches feel free to take one if you please, but I would much rather throw a dart on another running back than a quarterback who, if all breaks right, might score 1 or 2 more points than my current starter on a weekly basis.

Zero…

Zero anything is the new hot term to use for clicks nowadays it seems. Zero RB, Zero WR. It is the new sleeper and bust. I don’t want to get locked into a strategy in snake draft. I might go into the draft thinking I am likely to go zero RB or zero WR early. Sitting at the back-end of a PPR I might think “well, I will probably go Julio and Michael Thomas then maybe Ertz or Kelce next time through”.

All of a sudden receivers went off the board early and I am looking at Barkley and the best receiver is A.J. Green or Mike Evans. Don’t get locked into an idea. Adapt as the draft is going on.

Running backs are back!

They are, sort of. The high-end backs are back. Those big time point producers getting all the touches just like back in the day.

Tier drop is an understatement to me. There are small tier drops, then like a cliff. High-end RB2 types – you are looking at question marks like Alex Collins, Jay Ajayi, Joe Mixon. I think it is imperative this year that you get a top-level running back. That doesn’t mean I will pass up Antonio Brown to get Melvin Gordon.

Handcuff!

An insurance policy for your top pick. What a great idea!

Well, you aren’t going to get that same production. And do you really know who the handcuff is and if he will get all the work if the starter goes down.

Let’s take a look at last year’s top handcuff options.

Because it was the first real article I found that had more than couple names I am going to take a look at a fantasy pros handcuff article. Here is how they ranked their handcuff options.

  • Adrian Peterson – That didn’t go well
  • Tevin Coleman – Is a 7th round pick really a handcuff?
  • Derrick Henry – See above, except with a 5th/6th round pick
  • Eddie Lacy/Thomas Rawls – Woops
  • Kareem Hunt – Great one, but he wasn’t really a handcuff by the time most people were drafting.
  • Jonathan Stewart – No injury, but would his role have even changed?
  • Darren McFadden – Wrong guy
  • Theo Riddick – No real role change.
  • Samaje Perine – *Cringe face*
  • Jacquizz Rodgers – Got run in for two early season games, but Barber was the handcuff once Martin’s suspension was over.
  • Matt Forte – The handcuff no one wanted, but actually had a few nice weeks. I don’t know how many Powell owners actually handcuffed him with Forte. So not really a pure cuff.
  • Latavius Murray – Had value for sure, but like Forte not sure how many people actually hand cuffed him.
  • Jamaal Williams – Had a chance, but got hurt and Aaron Jones took over.
  • Rex Burkhead – Not really a pure handcuff situation.
  • Joe Williams – Didn’t make the team
  • D’Onta Foreman – Was starting to look like he had a real chance to do something before injury
  • Marlon Mack – Frank Gore doesn’t miss games
  • DeAndre Washington – Never had more than 9 carries last season
  • James Conner – Bell was healthy, but I am not convinced he would have taken over on his own.
  • Tarik Cohen – Similar to the other small backs, would his role have changed much?
  • T.J. Yeldon – Fournette missed three games. In those three games Yeldon totaled 27 carries, about nine per game.
  • Shane Vereen – No role change
  • Kenyan Drake – If you held on until after Ajayi was traded you win this one.
  • Branden Oliver – Wrong guy
  • Javorius Allen – Had his moments, but he was an undrafted player last year. And were you handcuffing him to Woodhead or West? Probably not.
  • Chris Johnson – Wrong again
  • Malcolm Brown – This one could have paid off nicely, but no injury so we don’t know

All 32 teams. If you want to count the likes of Coleman, Hunt and Henry as handcuffs there are some wins there, but those guys were just drafted in their own right in my opinion and not really handcuffs.

The argument is if the starter gets hurt those guys are going to be headlining waiver wire articles everywhere. Yes, but that doesn’t mean they are good. The Cardinals backs were on waiver wire lists for weeks last year, no one knew what to do there.

Mock

Whether you join a live mock, do a fantasy pros mock, or do what I like to call a “minute mock” where I just mock against an ADP list of the site I am going to draft from.

You need to be able to know what your roster is going to look like depending on how you draft. Taking Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Rodgers sounds awesome. Two studs at their position. Then you get to the draft and it’s round five and you see what the options are for what will be your RB2 and WR2 and you quickly regret that strategy.

Sometimes you just don’t know how the draft will go. I am taking Gronkowski in the early second. Then someone takes him a pick before you. Now you are on a whole different draft path you never planned for. You don’t know where guys typically go.

Even if you don’t want to mock yourself, look at analyst drafts. Have an idea at least about what you could do. Going in blind is a recipe for disaster, but it is comical for the rest of you league watching you scramble.

New is(n’t) always better

Any “How I Met You Mother” fans out there? I have to disagree with Barney here, new isn’t always better.

This one kind of ties in with the we know portion from earlier.

Every year the new rookie class gets hyped beyond belief. Between college tape, combine stuff, and running around in shorts in camp, they look great. They are the next big thing – until they aren’t.

It is the whole mystery box thing. You can take the boat or you could take the mystery box. The box could be anything, maybe even a boat!

We pass on guys in the middle rounds for upside picks that we saw dominate future car salesman in college, over guys who have a track record of being solid NFL players.

The Ronald Jones train is coming to a screeching halt, but as of this writing his ADP is 61st. Ahead of guys like Dion Lewis and Marshawn Lynch. Even if you don’t like those guys, wouldn’t you be happy if Jones put up their season? Maybe not, maybe you expect more from Jones. But I know I would be fine if Jones had 1,000 plus yards and seven or so touchdowns.

Now of course there are other circumstances. Guys like Saquan Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, etc.., the guys that are once an every few years type talent. Sure, take them. But again, if what you expect is similar to a reasonable expectation of the guys going around them and their ceiling isn’t all that different, take the known commodity.

 

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Andy Germani

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I am a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan and a graduate from Penn State. Baseball was my first love and I still play to this day in an adult baseball league. I always love helping people with their questions on Twitter so feel free to follow me and ask questions.

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