It’s that time of year again, folks. The holiday spirit is in the air, the NFL season is heading toward dramatic conclusion and all is right with the world — well, except the fact that your fantasy football team stinks.
Week 14 means the start of the fantasy playoffs for many leagues, but you’re on the outside looking in. So, what went wrong between now and when you declared yourself a lock for the championship on draft day?
Let’s break down the top five reasons you and so many others may have fell short this season.
1. You whiffed on your first-round pick.
Your first-rounder is supposed to be your best player, right? Apparently Todd Gurley, DeAndre Hopkins and Adrian Peterson didn’t get the memo. Gurley ranked third in average draft position, according to FantasyPros.com, but currently is the 21st-rated running back in standard fantasy leagues behind guys like Isaiah Crowell and Jeremy Hill. Peterson (6th-best ADP) tallied exactly 50 rushing yards before suffering a season-ending injury, while Hopkins (8th-best ADP) isn’t even among the top 30 fantasy wide receivers this season. Unless you’re a waiver wire magician, drafting these guys likely did you in.
2. You stuck with your star player too long.
Drafting a dud often is a double whammy, because there’s a good chance they were in your starting lineup for most of the season. No one wants to be the overreacting fantasy owner who benches Gurley or Hopkins in Week 4 after a few subpar games, and players of their ilk usually remain high in projections based on merit. But a guy who goes six weeks without a double-digit fantasy effort — as Hopkins did this season — is a huge drag on your roster who also denies opportunities to worthy players on your bench.
3. You got lost in the quarterback shuffle.
It’s been a weird year for signal-callers: Cam Newton, the consensus No. 1 QB entering the year, currently ranks 16th in scoring at the position, while Marcus Mariota, the 18th QB taken on average in drafts, has scored the fourth-most points. Russell Wilson largely was a bust until Week 9, but guys like Kirk Cousins and rookie Dak Prescott have blossomed into fantasy stars. Quarterback is the highest-scoring position in fantasy, and if you back the wrong horse, it’s pretty tough to recover.
4. You couldn’t pull the trigger on that bold draft pick.
“Ezekiel Elliott could have a great year, but I can’t trust a rookie.” “DeMarco Murray probably won’t do much on the Tennessee Titans.” “It’s not worth taking Tom Brady if he’ll miss the first four games.” If any of those thoughts crossed your mind in August, you’re kicking yourself in December, as Elliott and Murray are the NFL’s top two rushers and Brady has dominated since Week 5. Fantasy leagues often are won and lost on taking risks on draft day or in free agency, and that definitely was the case this year.
5. Maybe you’re just not wired for this.
Repeat after us: “The waiver wire is very important. The waiver wire is very imporant.” Some of the top performances of the year have come from waiver wire adds, from Jay Ajayi and Jordan Howard to Rishard Matthews and Jamison Crowder. It’s usually around this time when you realize just how important those players are — Crowder is the 11th-highest scoring receiver in fantasy this year — and that they’re probably owned by someone in the playoffs.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images