With the NFL playoffs raging on, most fantasy football owners are looking back fondly on the season past, wondering what might have been. Even the owners who won championships are already plotting a repeat in 2015. But as we know, there are many events still left to play out over the next eight months or so, and your fantasy draft plans will swing and sway. But the answers to the seven questions we pose below will shape your fantasy thoughts considerably.
When preparing for a fantasy football season, it always helps to know which strategies have been successful in the most recent seasons. I have talked a lot in our wrap-up columns for the 2014 season about how any strategy can work if you find the right players. That is undoubtedly true, and player evaluation should be central to any draft strategy.
At the same time, certain strategies can more frequently guide you toward those right players. This season, a few different strategies were in vogue. There was the zero-RB technique, which stressed loading up on wide receiver talent, grabbing an elite quarterback or tight end if the opportunity presented itself, and then shifting to running backs in the middle and late rounds. There was the late-round quarterback, which placed a premium on the best available flex players for the first 6-to-10 rounds, before finally grabbing one or two quarterbacks who you can deploy based on matchups. Finally, there was a strategy I personally love: targeting expected potent offenses, and loading up players from those teams.
Evaluating how each of these strategies — which will surface once again next summer — performed in 2014 can provide a boost heading into next season. To determine the success off each strategy, we will use average draft position for three different areas of a 12-team league: early (picks one through four), middle (picks five through eight) and late (picks nine through 12). “Early” translates to an average draft slot of 2.5, “middle” to 6.5, and “late” to 10.5. It’s important to remember that the teams presented for each slot are simply options that would have been realistic in a typical 12-team draft.
We made a lot of predictions about the 2014 football season, some as long ago as the Fourth of July. Jeff Samardzija began that day as a member of the Chicago Cubs. He’s now on the White Sox, following a three-month stop in Oakland. LeBron James still hadn't made his ballyhooed return to Cleveland. The 49ers were a few weeks shy of beginning training camp as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
In other words, it has been a long time since we first started looking into our crystal ball for the 2014 fantasy football season. We’ll forgive you if you have forgotten most, if not all, of what we predicted back in the summer. But we love transparency here at SI.com -- you could even say we’re fanatic about it. In that vein, let’s look back at the best and worst of our calls for the season in this 2014 fantasy football audit.
I’ll examine our prognostications on rankings, sleepers, busts, breakouts, and bold predictions, with the good and bad from both. Hopefully you listened to more of the former.
Hopefully, at the start of this first full week of 2015, you’re New Year’s resolutions haven’t already gone awry. It takes willpower to follow through on any resolution, no matter what it might be. The hardest bad behaviors to foreswear, however, might be those that continue to get fantasy football owners in trouble season after season. Let's start the discussion right now and hopefully avoid the pitfalls next year that so often plague the fantasy football community.
Below are my fantasy football New Year’s resolutions for 2015.
When fantasy owners start preparing for 2015, they’ll be reflecting mainly on season-long stats. But before the individual games that provide for these stats get swept up in the undertow, let’s take one more opportunity to appreciate the 10 best single-game fantasy performances of the 2014 season.
Writing the “Waiver Wire” column each week is always an interesting exercise. For 16 weeks of the fantasy football season, we’ve looked at and recommended players available in 30 percent of leagues or more. Essentially, we pick through your league’s trash in an attempt to find some treasure. There were plenty of fantasy gems on the waiver wire this season, and we’re proud to say we helped point many of those out. In most cases, the fantasy football waiver wire is a reactive task, replacing dead weight on your roster with unowned players coming off big weeks.
However, we tried to look ahead -- especially during the bye weeks -- to help you fill your roster with players we expected to have upcoming success. Our 2014 Fantasy Waiver Wire All-Star team is indicative of that – and since we’re in the holiday season, we thought we’d focus on the fantasy gifts of the year rather than the lumps of coal (looking at you, Johnny Football).
All of these players were recommended to our readers when they were owned in 30 percent or fewer fantasy leagues on CBSSports.com, ESPN.com and Yahoo! Sports.
Earlier, we handed out playoff MVPs. If you missed that column — and don't try to tell me that you weren't all over SI.com on Christmas Eve — you can find it here. But as we all know, it isn't all sugar plums in the fantasy football world. Just as there were players who met or exceeded expectations and carried their owners to championships, so, too, were there players who went bust and submarined countless fantasy seasons in the process. This column honors (dishonors?) this year's Least Valuable Players.