Haters gonna hate.
Two things should be abundantly clear to every fantasy sports professional: You’re wrong almost as much you’re right in reality, and you’re wrong all of the time in the eyes of social media pundits. It’s fine. Having thick skin is a prerequisite for survival in this industry. A long-running rule of thumb is that being right 60 percent of the time is considered good. In other words, we’re in the same boat as meteorologists.
While being wrong roughly four out of 10 times isn’t ideal, it also illustrates the disparity in accuracy from the general public to people doing prognostication for a living. That’s not a brag but a fact of life in this business. That’s also not to say brilliant fantasy minds and competitors don’t exist outside of the sphere of people fortunate enough to do this for a living. But it’s super common to hear — especially when drafting in the middle of June — how wrong our picks are and what we should have done instead. Par for the course … Yet, every so often, someone’s critiques open our eyes to reevaluating a situation — or at least they should if we’re being open-minded.
That’s a long-winded way of saying, “Keep the hate coming!” I won’t pretend to speak for everyone, but it’s motivating, since millions of people would happily trade in their day jobs for mine, and I’m never going to let myself lose sight of it.
Where does that miniature rant come from? The feedback to my Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association (FSGA) draft results.
Monday, June 22, witnessed 14 of the industry’s most prominent companies represented in an online draft. We normally congregate in person. I’ve been in this league for roughly a decade now, and one of the first things I learned was the need to take calculated risks at a level unprecedented in any other professional draft. In addition to this being a 14-teamer, comprised by some of the brightest minds in fantasy, the loser goes home. This year, the bottom three teams get the boot.
In short, I much rather take a chance reaching for some players I expect to break out and then fail miserably instead of finishing in the middle of the pack with an uninspired effort.
In 2019, I hated my draft and was roundly panned for it. I had no business being in the playoffs if we were grading on an immediate post-draft reaction. That team finished as the second-highest scorer and landed in second place, earning a first-round bye week. While it was bounced in the second round after a flat showing, that lineup scored the most points of all teams during the bye and would have beaten all teams over the rest of the playoffs. Again, that’s also not a brag. It’s an illustration that the season is so much more than the aesthetics of a draft result in June. Or July. Or August and September.
It’s easy (and fun) to get caught up in the immediate reactionary takes about a roster. However, luck avoiding devastating injuries, astute inseason waiver manipulation (no trading in this league), and — arguably most important of all — optimal lineup decisions matter so much more. Sometimes we all draft a team that is so dang good we get to skate through the regular season, but anyone who has played this game long enough knows how rare that tends to be when playing against 13 other professionals.
My team out of the eighth spot:
|204||15.8||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TAM||Def/ST|
I’ll address the controversial picks rather than going line-item for 16 rounds worth of selections.
- Devin Singletary drew a bunch of criticism for his lack of scoring prowess, Josh Allen’s role around the end zone, and the drafting of running back Zack Moss. I handcuffed Moss to Singletary to be safe, even though I really don’t like the idea of rookies in 2020 due to the abbreviated offseason. At least this is the one position where the transition may not be as daunting. If Allen is supposed to become a better quarterback in Year 3, coinciding with the addition of Stefon Diggs, Singletary stands to benefit. If the Bills are expected to be the favorite in the AFC East, the second-year back is going to be an integral part of it. I’ll take may chances reaching slightly that he’s closer to a strong RB2 in PPR than not. I wasn’t keen on a receiver, and none of the other RBs made more sense from an upside perspective.
- Some criticism was levied for the D.K. Metcalf selection, and while I can see merit in the concerns, this, in part,, is the result of going three straight running backs to open the draft. I felt strongly enough in Raheem Mostert being a weekly lineup fixture as a flex, meaning wideouts could be thinner and less important. We saw elite-level flashes from Metcalf last year, and I’m confident he’s the real deal. I briefly considered Adam Thielen, but his lack of talent around him leaves me nervous, and his best play is behind him. Keenan Allen may look more respectable as a WR1 than Metcalf in a PPR, yet I have no confidence in the LA quarterback situation delivering weekly results. I then took a gamble that one of Robert Woods, D.J. Chark, Terry McLaurin or T.Y Hilton would be available in Round 5. I was wrong, which led me to the next (and most) controversial pick:
- Diontae Johnson has soared up draft boards in recent weeks. While some gamers may not be comfortable with him as either a WR2 or as a fifth-round choice, I’m perfectly fine with both in a 14-teamer. I was determined to not miss out. Johnson will outscore JuJu Smith-Schuster and is going to be the No. 1 receiver in Pittsburgh. Not only that, he’ll emerge as a leading candidate for the top fantasy breakout player in 2020. Had I landed one of those aforementioned receivers, I then would have aimed for Johnson in Round 6. I reached for Chris Godwin last year and was rewarded. I don’t mind reaching for a guy I strongly feel will finish in the top 25 at his position.
- The selection of Rob Gronkowski was questioned as being too early by many of the people providing feedback. I truly get the risk factor in drafting him, but there’s also considerable upside. I wrote for this very site that Gronk has bust factor written all over him, and much of it is due to injury history. Here’s to hoping the year away helped get his body right. It’s hard to ignore the chemistry with Tom Brady when looking around a talent-laden Tampa offense. We objectively have no idea if TB12 has any connection with Mike Evans and Godwin, regardless of how talented those guys are in their own right. The tight ends who immediately came off the board in the next round or so following my Gronk choice: Hayden Hurst, Tyler Higbee and Jared Cook. Those three guys are not less risky than the goofball I drafted. The final thought: I drafted Green Bay’s Jace Sternberger as Gronk’s backup, and the young tight end is another one of my favorite sleeper targets.
- Chris Thompson is the only pick I’m not all that crazy about. He’s a boo-boo away from IR at all times, and the Jaguars have plenty of weapons around him to lessen the chance the former Washington Redskins pass-catching back is heavily involved. He is reunited with Jay Gruden, and there’s zero chance the coaching staff wants Leonard Fournette catching 76 passes again. The idea here is hopefully I don’t have to use Thompson, but if I do, I am comfortable with the situation.