Everywhere I turn, I keep seeing ads for the weekly fantasy football sites, proclaiming that they are supremely better than a season-long fantasy league. There’s no commitment, you can play as little or as much as you want, and you don’t get stuck with a bad roster or injured players for an entire season by playing the weekly sites like FanDuel and Draft Kings. If you lost for the first three weeks of the year in a season-long league, you might feel like you are out of the running already and we are still in September (by the way this is called being a Dolphins fan every year), but in a weekly league you can just start over every week. So it really sounds like a great idea to switch from season-long to weekly, doesn’t it?
Yet I personally cannot stand seeing all these commercials and hearing all this discussion over weekly leagues. First off, playing in a weekly league is like playing the lottery. Your chances at winning anything significant are slim to none. In a season-long league, you are playing against at the most 11 to 13 people (because any league with more than 14 teams is completely insane), so you have a great chance at winning or at least making the playoffs. Plus, most season-long leagues are social, meaning you probably know some if not all the people in the league. One of the best parts of a fantasy league is the trash talking that occurs during the week. Your team could be 0-11 and you could be playing a team that is 11-0, and yet if you are friends (or enemies) with your opponent, you can and will talk a ton of trash (especially if you pull the upset). I’m not really sure how you could trash talk all of your opponents in a weekly league – that is a lot of typing!
I think season-long leagues are infinitely harder than a weekly league, and that’s a huge part of the fun and appeal of them. You have one chance to draft a team, not one chance per week to start over again. If you got stuck drafting Tony Romo and Dez Bryant (like I did in one of my leagues!), then you can either pack in the season early (like Dolphins and Bears fans have already done), or you can figure out how to contend without those two players. You could be ridiculed during the draft for having a bad team or seemingly having no clue what you are doing, and still make the finals and/or win the league at the end of the season. You get to make trades, you get to pick up players in free agency, and you get to either love or hate all the players on your team at the end of the season.
Weekly leagues are basically like gambling, you might win a little bit here and there but ultimately you are going to lose and it could get really bad, really fast. You need to buy in every week, so your league fees are going to be much higher than in a season-long league. And once you win once, you will think that you can win all the time, which is the first step to me having a gambling problem. If I had a lot of disposable income lying around, then that wouldn’t be a scary thing to think about. Actually if I had a lot of disposable income I’m betting I wouldn’t be spending it on weekly fantasy leagues, I’d be following Taylor Swift around the country. So I could see her in concert every night… and nothing else suspicious or weird…
Enough about weekly leagues that I’m never going to play and aren’t nearly as fun or challenging as a season-long league, let’s discuss some “real” fantasy football! Three weeks into the season, you can already see some interesting trends in fantasy football. You have familiar faces in the top of the rankings at each position, along with some players who were either undrafted, drafted very late, or drafted early by an owner that undoubtedly got harassed for the pick but are laughing at everyone from the top of the standings right now. Anyone that drafted someone like Larry Fitzgerald, who hasn’t produced much in the past couple seasons, is enjoying a huge first three games from the veteran receiver.
Top 10 Fantasy QBs – 2015 Season
T1. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers – 77 pts
3. Andy Dalton – 69 pts
4. Cam Newton – 67 pts
T5. Carson Palmer and Tyrod Taylor – 64 pts
7. Marcus Mariota – 57 pts
8. Matt Ryan – 55 pts
9. Ben Roethlisberger – 53 pts
10. Russell Wilson – 51 pts
The debate over who is the best quarterback in the league even spills over into fantasy football, where Brady and Rodgers are tied for the most points through three games. Brady has over 1100 passing yards, but fewer touchdowns and rushing yards than Rodgers. Both should continue to battle for the top spot in fantasy and in reality. Dalton has had a terrific start to the season, with the Bengals 3-0 and focusing a lot more on the passing game with a struggling Jeremy Hill (also on my Romo and Dez-less fantasy team that is somehow 2-1 still!). The same can be said for Palmer, who has proven that if he can stay healthy he is one of the most underrated players in fantasy and reality football. Taylor and Mariota are the big surprises in the top 10. Mariota is poised to remain as a top fantasy option, as he has shown great poise in the pocket and has yet to have a disappointing performance in his rookie campaign. He seems to have a good chemistry with his wide receivers already, and still has the potential to pick up huge yardage on the ground as well. Taylor had a big game last week against the Dolphins, but was shut down by the Patriots defense until garbage time, so his inflated numbers are a bit deceptive. His legs and the injury to his lead back LeSean McCoy could lead to some more big point performances from Taylor, so if he is available in a league he is a great bye-week replacement (or someone that could replace injured QBs like Roethlisberger, Brees, and Romo).
Top 10 Fantasy RBs – 2015 Season (Standard Leagues and Points Per Reception Leagues)
1. Jamaal Charles – 54 pts (68 pts PPR)
2. Devonta Freeman – 51 pts (63 pts)
3. Adrian Peterson – 45 pts (50 pts)
4. Joseph Randle – 43 pts (49 pts)
5. Latavius Murray – 41 pts (52 pts)
T6. Dion Lewis and Carlos Hyde – 40 pts (Lewis 55 pts/ Hyde 47 pts)
8. Matt Forte – 39 pts (48 pts)
9. DeAngelo Williams – 38 pts (43 pts)
T10. Chris Johnson and Karlos Williams – 37 pts (Johnson 38 pts/ Williams 39 pts)
The running back list is a unique assortment of top picks (Charles, Peterson, Forte), veterans that got an early chance thanks to suspension and injury (D. Williams, Johnson), young backs that were given the starting nod (Randle, Hyde), and relative unknowns who have broke out (Freeman, Lewis, K. Williams). Freeman’s time in the top 5 may be short-lived, as fellow back Tevin Coleman may be available this week to take some carries away in Atlanta. But Freeman’s play last week, where he rushed for over 130 yards and scored three TDs, plus his pass-catching out of the backfield still makes him extremely valuable (especially in PPR leagues). Lewis has been a revelation in New England, making fans forget about Shane Vereen (who has been subpar with the Giants) and Stevan Ridley (who is doing nothing with the Jets). The Patriots tend to change their offensive focus week to week, but Lewis seems to be the primary back even with LeGarrette Blount back in the mix after his suspension. Like Freeman, Lewis is even more important in PPR leagues, where he already has 15 catches in just three games. DeAngelo Williams had a terrific first two weeks of the season with Le’Veon Bell also suspended, but has gone back to being a backup and will fall down the rankings quickly.
Top 10 WRs – 2015 Season (Standard Leagues and Points Per Reception Leagues)
1. Julio Jones – 67 pts (101 pts PPR)
2. Larry Fitzgerald – 62 pts (85 pts)
3. Antonio Brown – 56 pts (85 pts)
4. Travis Benjamin – 51 pts (61 pts)
5. A.J. Green – 50 pts (68 pts)
6. Randall Cobb – 48 pts (68 pts)
7. Steve Smith Sr. – 46 pts (71 pts)
T8. James Jones and DeAndre Hopkins – 44 pts (Jones 56 pts/ Hopkins 66 pts)
10. Rishard Matthews – 43 pts (59 pts)
Wide receivers are the one group that doesn’t have many surprises in it. Other than Benjamin – who only has ten catches but has four long touchdowns – and Matthews – who has become the go-to guy for Ryan Tannehill in Miami – the top ten is filled with common names. Three names that pop out are Fitzgerald, Smith, and Jones, who are all having big starts to the year. Fitzgerald was a late pick in most leagues, as his production had declined rapidly, but the 2015 Fitz looks a lot like the guy from a few seasons ago who was dominating the league. Smith Sr. is in his last season in the league, and is trying to go out with a bang in a Ravens offense that has not ran the ball much and has had to score more often thanks to a subpar defense. Jones was cut twice in the offseason, only to land back in Green Bay to fill the void of injured star Jordy Nelson. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the absolute freak at the top of the standings, Julio Jones. The Falcons look great again after a terrible 2014 season, and if Jones can stay healthy he is poised to have one of the biggest seasons for a receiver ever. Everyone on the field knows he is the primary option and that he is getting the ball, yet Jones is so good that it doesn’t matter.
Top 10 TEs – 2015 Season (Standard Leagues and Points Per Reception Leagues)
1. Rob Gronkowski – 54 pts (70 pts PPR)
2. Travis Kelce – 37 pts (53 pts)
3. Greg Olsen – 33 pts (48 pts)
4. Tyler Eifert – 32 pts (45 pts)
T5. Jason Witten and Jordan Reed – 29 pts (Witten 50 pts/ Reed 48 pts)
7. Eric Ebron – 27 pts (40 pts)
T8. Jimmy Graham and Crockett Gillmore – 26 pts (Graham 40 pts/ Gillmore 36 pts)
T10. Charles Clay and Austin Seferian-Jenkins – 25 pts (Clay 37 pts/ Jenkins 32 pts)
Tight ends are basically Rob Gronkowski, and everyone else a distant second. Gronk was the premier tight end entering the season, and has done nothing to change anyone’s mind in the first three games. His point production would be even higher if he had hit the end zone in the Pats’ 51-17 victory over the Jaguars, which gave the other top TEs in the league a small chance to catch him in the standings. Graham got off to a very slow start with his new team in Seattle, but broke through with seven catches and a touchdown last week. Graham should quickly climb into the top 5 in this list, with Kelce, Olsen, and Witten also headed for another solid season. Eifert and Ebron were hot adds last week, but neither one lived up to their lofty projections. Reed and Gillmore have emerged as top options in Washington and Baltimore, with Reed second only to Witten in tight end receptions. Clay had a huge game against his former team last week, while Seferian-Jenkins showed tremendous potential in Week 1 before getting injured (he is out for at least a month).