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Zero RB, Elite TE, Patrick Mahomes, and Tyler Boyd: Was It Enough in 2018?

Shawn Siegele examines his 2018 fantasy results to see if the picks he provided to readers – breakout wide receivers, Zero RB candidates, structural drafting strategies, and more – proved successful in his own leagues.

Every year our Zero RB candidates and wide receiver breakout lists quickly pay for the price of a subscription. By combining evidenced-based player selection with the top structural drafting tips in the business, we help you craft all-star lineups that put your opponents under pressure from Week 1. But we also take pride in the fantasy results of our own writers. High stakes champion Monty Phan has been providing a window into the highest levels of fantasy, and he recently discussed his victory in the FFPC Bare Knuckle contest. Top dynasty writer John Lapinski also plays numerous other formats, including the Terminator, and he gave us a glimpse of his 2018 win.

Monty and John are a lot of fun to read because of their self-deprecating styles, and while they’ll make you a better fantasy player, part of the joy of reading them comes in the humor that often infuses their work.

I ask our writers to self-assess every season, and I also go through that process myself. Part of that work focuses on the analysis in the articles, part focuses on actual results. It’s important to continue to develop and evolve as a fantasy player, both for my own performance and to continue to provide the content our readers deserve. Today will look at big picture results. Over the coming weeks, I’ll go into more detail on individual leagues, reviewing the player-selection features and league strategy articles that led to these finishes.

1st Place

Fantasy Football World Championships OL7 Most Points, Best Record, League Title, No. 18 overall
MFL 10 of Death 3rd Title in 4 Years
RotoViz Dynasty League Champion
Iron Throne Dynasty League Champion
Hyperactive 3 Hyper Conference Champion
  • FFWC: Although I was able to take home the prizes for most points and best record, listeners to RotoViz Overtime or those who follow Pat Kerrane and Pete Overzet’s excellent High Stakes Diaries pod – another duo with a great sense of humor – will know that a 173-172.95 loss in Week 13 forced me into a three-week playoff for the remaining $5,000 league prize.1 Fortunately, the playoffs went well. I secured the league victory and finished No. 18 overall in the race for the $150,000 grand prize.2 The first four rounds of my draft were solid-if-uninspiring, but it was one of my best high-stakes drafts from that point. Round 5 brought the TE2 (Zach Ertz) and Round 7 the WR10 (Robert Woods). I added two of my favorite Zero RB candidates in Rounds 10-11 (Nick Chubb, Matt Breida), and both contributed in a big way. In Round 14 I added one of the top-scoring QBs in fantasy history (Pat Mahomes), and Round 20 brought the WR15 (Tyler Boyd).
  • MFL10 of Death: In best ball leagues, you should load up on star power early. This year that meant Antonio BrownStefon DiggsTravis Kelce-Zach Ertz through four rounds. I’m going to do a deep dive into this format in the near future, but today I’d again note that owners tend to misunderstand the RB position and how it interacts with the Flex to still only yield three starting spots. It’s not ideal to hemorrhage points at any position, but you can give up some at RB and still triumph. In this league, the splits were especially crazy. Scott Barrett’s third-place team outscored my squad by exactly 400 points at RB, and yet my Zero RB squad outscored his team by 293 points overall.3 While luck obviously plays a role, my 1-2-1-1 finishes over the last four years support the concepts from the preseason strategy blueprint, How to Create League-Winning Scenarios in the MFL10 of Death.
  • RDL and Irone Throne: These dynasty leagues are IDP with 18-plus starting slots and multi-week finals. You can still get lucky and come through without the best team, of course, but it feels like quite an accomplishment to take either of them down.
  • Hyperactive 3: One of my three dynasty leagues with uber-commish Ryan McDowell, I took this team over at the beginning of the 2017 season, caught fire in the middle of 2018, and got lucky to defeat a superior squad in the Hyper finals before falling to the Active champions in the Super Bowl. All three of my dynasty squads roster Christian McCaffrey, a player I pushed extremely hard in the pre-season.

2nd Place

Apex Experts Runner Up
Faked Goods Dynasty Goods Runner Up
PFF Friends Dynasty Runner Up
  • Apex Experts: Denny Carter’s 1-2 punch of early-round RBs scored 51.2 points in the finals, too much for my Zero RB team to overcome. Just kidding. Denny got those points from Chris Carson and Jamaal Williams.4 As I detailed in the Apex Championship preview, none of the first-, second-, or third-place finishes selected an RB in the first three rounds.
  • Faked Goods: After taking over an orphan last year and making a deep playoff run due to an impressive dispersal pool, I remade the unit with Kerryon Johnson, Ronald Jones, Royce Freeman, Nyheim Hines, Christian Kirk, and Tre’Quan Smith. Those players, ahem, didn’t score a lot of points as rookies. Le’Veon Bell’s odd refusal to make an absurd amount of money also didn’t help, but Mahomes and Adam Thielen got me into the playoffs. Good luck provided a couple of playoff wins. In the short run, it’s always better to be lucky than good.
  • PFF: What seems like many years ago now, I was a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy before opting for RotoViz exclusively. Mike Clay keeps this league going for the old cast.

Playoffs

Industry Developmental Dynasty Semis
6 Month Best Ball Dynasty Semis
Kitchen Cinco Semis
Kitchen Sink 4 Quarters
  • IDD: After receiving the 12th pick in the 14-team startup two years ago and using it on Sammy Watkins, I’ve been slowly building to this point. Even a hypothetically healthy Watkins will enter 2019 as no higher than my seventh WR, and an RB depth chart with Dalvin Cook, Phillip Lindsay, Jerick McKinnon, James White, and Tevin Coleman offers plenty of options to attack the flex if I decide to go RB-heavy instead. Travis Etienne will join the unit in 2020. This one should be a lot of fun for a long time.
  • Best Ball Dynasty: Following last year’s finals loss to Rich Hribar, I traded Kareem Hunt in a move that looked bad for a while but may pay dividends. Unfortunately, my 3-QB roster featured Jimmy Garoppolo, Andy Dalton, and Alex Smith. No QB points and a long Kalen Ballage TD for JJ Zachariason led to a 155-151 semifinal defeat.
  • The Kitchen Cinco: A fantastic format from Ryan McDowell, the Kitchen Sink leagues are contract formats that include victory points, Superflex, auctions, and devy. It’s really the only way to go for serious players. Bell’s holdout and David Johnson’s struggles held down an otherwise strong unit and led to a third-place finish in the regular season. A late trade for Saquon Barkley wasn’t quite enough to survive the semis. Although I’m going to need to replace Drew Brees and Tom Brady sometime soon, it’s hard not to get excited about a Barkley-McCaffrey-Johnson foundation for 2019.5

Missed Playoffs

Fantasy Football World Championships OL8
Scott Fish Bowl
Going Deep
RotoViz RSO
  • FFWC: My other World Championship squad finished in fifth place, one spot out of qualifying for the Race. Even deeper than my championship squad, it was a fun ride but an ultimately frustrating string of start/sit decisions mixed with Julio Jones rarely finding the end zone.
  • SFB8: The Josh Allen breakout didn’t come quite soon enough for a squad that finished a game out.
  • Going Deep: With high stakes conflicts the last two years, I enlisted Ben Gretch as a co-owner in Mike Clay’s extremely deep format. Ben is a fantastic mind and one of my favorite people in fantasy. It’s no surprise that he won us the 2017 edition. I’ll take 50 percent titles against this competition.
  • RSO: My RSO team is awful and deserving of mockery.

2018 was a fun year. Any time first place is the largest category, it’s important to thank the excellent people around you – the writers, readers, and forum community have all helped me in numerous ways – and be grateful for all those tiny moments of serendipity that conspired to create the big picture.

Good luck to everyone participating in playoff contests, and if you’re a new reader to RotoViz we look forward to making the 2019 journey with you.

  1. The FFWC requires the No. 1 seed to face the No. 2 seed in the playoffs unless the No. 1 seed scores the most points and wins best record outright. My Week 13 loss knocked the team into a tie at 10-3.  (back)
  2. The FFWC is one of my favorite formats. In my experience, all of the high stakes providers are excellent. I obviously have great memories of finishing 1st and 2nd overall in the 2013 NFFC Primetime, and the FFPC does a fantastic job with the player experience, which is one of the reasons we’ve been advertising their Playoff Challenge on RotoViz Radio. But the FFWC provides a great format with their 2-RB, 3-WR, 1-TE, 2-Flex lineup that is one starter deeper than other contests. Deeper lineups remove some of the luck element and favor stronger players.  (back)
  3. This includes a lot of Flex points for Scott and a lot fewer for me, but the Flex is relevant as it relates to the contribution those RB points can make to winning.  (back)
  4. Carson and Williams were two of the same players who fueled my MFL10 of Death team to 196 points in the decisive final week.  (back)
  5. Kitchen Sink 4 was an orphan that made a second-half push into fourth place in the regular season but got clobbered in the first round of the playoffs. With exciting players like Kerryon Johnson, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson likely to score far more points in 2019, the future is bright.  (back)

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