As Team RotoViz gathers at headquarters for our annual meetings, we took some time to reflect on the season that was. In the spirit of full disclosure, here are the worst calls we made in 2017.
Buy Mike Gillislee
A call to buy Gillislee is one I would rather forget. I believed that he would grab the reins of the New England backfield and finish as an RB1. After three Gillislee TDs in Week 1, I was on Cloud Nine. Unfortunately, it was short-lived, with Gillislee becoming a weekly inactive by the end of the year. Hopefully, if you took my advice, you traded him after Week 1.
Jay Ajayi is better than Jordan Howard
I had a few bad calls this year, starting with “Jeremy Hill is not dead” (he is), and ending with “Jarvis Landry is better than Keenen Allen” (he’s not). Since Landry was still a solid WR2, and Hill didn’t cost you much draft capital, the take that likely did the most damage to your season was Jay Ajayi over Jordan Howard. In 2017 drafts, both backs had a second-round ADP. Ajayi ended up as RB33, while Howard ended up RB10, an embarrassing 65-point difference in standard scoring. When you look deeper at the weekly scoring, Howard’s dominance was created by two monster 2-TD, 150-yard games against the Bengals Week 14, and the Steelers Week 3. If you take away the top two games from both players, they have similar point-per-game averages.
Target Jamaal Charles and Paul Perkins in MFL10s
My debut article for RotoViz highlighted RBs I thought were being under-drafted in MFL10s, using Mike Clay’s projections. I ranked RBs based on what type of role they had at the time and if the best (or next-best) RB on their team went down with an injury. I nailed Giovani Bernard and Frank Gore’s finishes exactly and was closer on T.J. Yeldon than ADP. However, I was high on Jamaal Charles and Paul Perkins as well. Charles never secured a significant role, and Perkins tanked severely. It was a mixed bag of results, but that Perkins pick was by far my worst of the 2017 season.
Kelvin Benjamin Is a Bargain
I thought Benjamin, with an ADP of WR32, was being drafted near his floor. For the first eight games of 2017, that was an uninteresting call, as Benjamin was the WR34 in points per game. But the Panthers had enough of Benjamin’s middling production and sent him to Siberia — er, Buffalo — where his fantasy value experienced significant shrinkage. He was basically unstartable for the last half of the season.
Sell Kareem Hunt
Well before Spencer Ware tore his ACL, I proclaimed that Kareem Hunt is not a threat to Ware’s workload. Hmm. In the inaugural Buy Low Report, I urged Hunt owners to try and move him for either Demaryius Thomas or DeAndre Hopkins.1 I doubled down on my poor advice a week later, only to watch Hunt dismantle the New England Patriots in Week 1.2 I immediately issued a mea culpa, and promptly advocated that fantasy gamers sell Todd Gurley. Whoops.
Adrian Peterson Will Outscore Frank Gore
This was part of our Face-Off series and if you decided to take the chance on Peterson, hopefully, it didn’t cost you much. Both older backs were being drafted in the RB30+ range and if Peterson pulled off a Tim Hightower impression from the year before, he’d have been a value. The spring fling that brought him to New Orleans ended abruptly when the Saints drafted Alvin Kamara.
The touch squeeze was simply too much from the carries side (Mark Ingram) and receptions side (Kamara). Had Peterson not been traded to Arizona, he would have been a complete bust even with a reduced ADP.
Dynasty Buy Low: Willie Snead
Of all the pre-season calls I made, the proclamation that Snead was a good buy low was most definitely the worst. Not only was he suspended for the first three games, Snead was then injured and never made an impact. His season total of eight receptions for 92 yards is what we hoped for as an occasional single-game total based on his previous two years of production. Alas, the need for Snead was never there.
Fade DeShaun Watson
Hang on, Editors, did I actually write we should fade Deshaun Watson? I did? We can get rid of that though, can’t we? Can’t you guys just log into the world wide web and press the delete button and eliminate every trace of it? What do you mean that’s not how the internet works? Dammit, I can’t have people finding out that I wrote a sentence like “At his current price though, it’s hard to argue that he’s worth the risk, and he’ll be a hard pass for me in all of my rookie drafts,” they’ll think I was eating Tide pods all offseason!
As bad as this call looks now, Watson is due for some regression and the guy I touted instead, Mitchell Trubisky, probably couldn’t have found himself in a worse situation. From a dynasty perspective,3 their stories are far from over. Still, Watson went a full seven rounds ahead of Trubisky in our end-of-season dynasty mock draft, so there’s no question he’s currently a much more valuable asset and could remain a top-five dynasty quarterback even with some regression.
Devonta Freeman over Melvin Gordon
The line between Freeman and Gordon was always razor thin, but this was my worst call of the year because I argued that Freeman’s safety in the passing game gave him an edge over a player with a worrisome injury history and looming pass-catching competition. Both Gordon’s health and Austin Ekeler threatening touches worried Gordon owners all season, but the other shoe never dropped, and he played all 16 games and amassed an excellent 58 receptions.
Freeman, on the other hand, became a shell of his former self in the passing game, and this was where my process went wrong. The Falcons RBs had smashed the league for two straight years in the passing game under Kyle Shanahan, and I presumed that new OC Steve Sarkisian would not mess too much with success. That was a stupid presumption. Don’t try to predict coaching behavior, especially when you are predicting coaches will put team success ahead of their own egos. Freeman lost nearly a full reception per game under Sarkisian, which was the difference between being a clear-cut top-10 RB and a high-end RB2.
Trade for Jordan Matthews
Way back in March of last year, I outlined how the Eagles’ Jordan Matthews could still be a WR2 despite the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Then I honked my nose, squirted water from my boutonniere, got in my clown car, and drove away. Matthews got traded to Buffalo, where he spent the rest of the year not catching passes. I liked my analysis but clearly didn’t account for what the Eagles were saying. By signing Jeffery and Smith, they were signaling a big role change for Matthews.
Fade Davante Adams