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High Staked: What Went Wrong

Veteran high stakes fantasy football player Monty Phan chronicles his season.

I can officially say things didn’t work out this season like we’d hoped.

For the first time since 2014, none of the FFPC high-stakes teams I run with three friends are likely to advance to the league playoffs or compete for the big money. The breaks we’ve benefitted from the past few seasons didn’t materialize this year, and it’s easy to see where we went wrong:

Running backs.

The strategy on which we’ve based our success – take a stud running back early, grab a top tight end and load up on receivers – didn’t work this season, mostly because our approach also relies on a key factor: that starting running backs get hurt, so it makes sense to grab a bunch of their backups and hope one of them hits. Except, this year, that didn’t really happen.

PlayerPosTeamCountADPPositional ADPRV PosRankStDevEarliestLatest
Saquon BarkleyRBNYG1891.3120.714
Christian McCaffreyRBCAR1892.5210.915
Alvin KamaraRBNO1893.2330.915
Ezekiel ElliottRBDAL1893.5441.6110
David JohnsonRBARI1897.7552.4318
Le'Veon BellRBNYJ18910.4663.6420
Nick ChubbRBCLE18911.47133.7421
James ConnerRBPIT18911.8883.4520
Dalvin CookRBMIN18915.7993.5527
Todd GurleyRBLA1891710124.5338
Joe MixonRBCIN189191174729
Leonard FournetteRBJAC18925.812184.5843
Kerryon JohnsonRBDET18928.313144.31543
Aaron JonesRBGB18930.514155.21547
Devonta FreemanRBATL18931.415165.91571
Chris CarsonRBSEA18931.516275.11544
Josh JacobsRBOAK18933.417195.21950
Damien WilliamsRBKC18937.818108.8960
Marlon MackRBIND18938.719178.51960
Melvin GordonRBLAC18939.2201125.7597
Derrick HenryRBTEN1894121208.71772
Sony MichelRBNE18941.7222271861
David MontgomeryRBCHI18944.5233310.52686
Mark IngramRBBAL18947.524388.52170
Phillip LindsayRBDEN18950.825219.4478
Duke JohnsonRBHOU18954.226358.62581
James WhiteRBNE1905727248.73893
Austin EkelerRBLAC18959.628368.23487
Tevin ColemanRBSF19061.729269.73795
Tarik CohenRBCHI19066.3302313.828107
Miles SandersRBPHI19067.131289.151104
Derrius GuiceRBWAS19070.2322911.237102
Kenyan DrakeRBMIA19075.633251050108
Matt BreidaRBSF19079.93441954100
Latavius MurrayRBNO19081.8353410.927117
Devin SingletaryRBBUF19081.9366012.952128
LeSean McCoyRBKC19484.8374514.256140
Rashaad PennyRBSEA19194.2383011.259124
Darrell HendersonRBLA19096.4393212.962128
Royce FreemanRBDEN19097.1403111.761134
Jordan HowardRBPHI192104.9414215.161148
Peyton BarberRBTB192111.6425518.377183
Justin DavisRBLA111243NANA112112
Justice HillRBBAL191112.8444813.682156
Justin JacksonRBLAC191117.8456115.976165
Jaylen SamuelsRBPIT192120.5464913.576157
Dion LewisRBTEN193122.3474616.882170
Kalen BallageRBMIA194126.8485219.163192
Tony PollardRBDAL191127.7496631.957216
Kareem HuntRBCLE196134.1505321.981192
Alexander MattisonRBMIN194137.4517119.982203
Darwin ThompsonRBKC190144.1526531.280227
Nyheim HinesRBIND199146.5534019.8103214
Jeremy HillRBFA115054NANA150150
Carlos HydeRBHOU200151.2555425.368223
Damien HarrisRBNE197153.3564323.984225
Adrian PetersonRBWAS196153.657562756227
Ronald JonesRBTB199155.6583722.5103226
Chris ThompsonRBWAS200157.259642286221
Ito SmithRBATL200158.9604420.4110202
Elijah HolyfieldRBCAR115961NANA159159
John KellyRBLA2159.562NA41.7130189
Giovani BernardRBCIN203163.1635922.3109226
Jalen RichardRBOAK200167.4645028.1101236
Jerick McKinnonRBSF53172.7654755.759239
Elijah McGuireRBCLE159174.266NA34.1114238
C.J. AndersonRBDET201176.167NA22.9105238
Chase EdmondsRBARI195177.3686324.6114240
Lamar MillerRBHOU15179.569394988238
Ty MontgomeryRBNYJ202181.8707022.399240
Gus EdwardsRBBAL19318271NA29.498238
Tavon AustinRBDAL118272NANA182182
Dare OgunbowaleRBTB189182.373NA26.8109236
Malcolm BrownRBLA191183.374NA23.6121235
Jamaal WilliamsRBGB201186765721.8121233
Marshawn LynchRBFA118675NANA186186
Frank GoreRBBUF188188.677NA29.2111240
D'Ernest JohnsonRBCLE5189.678NA66.872230
Isaiah CrowellRBOAK5192.479NA71.767239
Mike DavisRBCHI187192.6805121.1134238
Ryquell ArmsteadRBJAC174199.6816922.8116240
Jay AjayiRBFA13320382NA20.9156240
T.J. YeldonRBBUF149208.4835824.2122240
D'Onta ForemanRBFA81209.584NA15.9172240
Trayveon WilliamsRBCIN2210856726.9191229
Brian HillRBATL26210.586NA22.3148237
Mark WaltonRBMIA221187NA21.2196226
Damarea CrockettRBOAK5212.488NA29.6163235
Rodney AndersonRBCIN8213.989NA21.9178238
Alfred MorrisRBDAL10214.390NA17177236
Darrel WilliamsRBKC10214.691NA16.2182234
Dontrell HilliardRBCLE11721592NA16.8169240
Reggie BonnafonRBCAR8215.593NA31149239
Rex BurkheadRBNE104215.8946217.4172240
Devine OzigboRBJAC4216.295NA10.2205228
DeAndre WashingtonRBOAK2216.596NA14.8206227
Darren SprolesRBPHI11217.597NA21.8177239
Doug MartinRBFA5217.898NA17.9191236
Jordan ScarlettRBCAR3421899NA18.8164240
Wayne GallmanRBNYG35218.2100NA22.3147240
Kenneth DixonRBBAL38218.8101NA13.5189240
Spencer WareRBIND17218.9102NA14.9185239
Kyle JuszczykRBSF1219103NANA219219
Benjamin SnellRBPIT29220.41046818.6159240
C.J. ProsiseRBSEA10220.6106NA17195239
Dexter WilliamsRBGB18220.6105NA21.3166240
Paul PerkinsRBNYG4221.2107NA22.6191239
Mike BooneRBMIN9221.6108NA14.2188237
Raheem MostertRBSF24221.9109NA15.8193240
Bryce LoveRBWAS5223.2110NA7.5215231
Kerrith WhyteRBCHI1224111NANA224224
Trey EdmundsRBPIT1224112NANA224224
Alfred BlueRBJAC21224.7113NA10.6199240
Ty JohnsonRBDET12224.8114NA17.5177238
Corey ClementRBPHI7225.3115NA21.9177240
Jordan WilkinsRBIND4225.8116NA13.7206235
Bilal PowellRBNYJ2227.5117NA2.1226229
Bruce AndersonRBTB1228118NANA228228
Travis HomerRBSEA1229119NANA229229
Karan HigdonRBHOU3229.7120NA9.7219238
D.J. FosterRBARI1230121NANA230230
Mike WeberRBDAL1230123NANA230230
Qadree OllisonRBATL6230122NA13.8204239
Theo RiddickRBDEN4231124NA7.1221237
J.D. McKissicRBSEA1232125NANA232232
Devontae BookerRBDEN1233126NANA233233
Dwayne WashingtonRBNO1233127NANA233233

The above table is the FFPC ADP from drafts that took place leading up to the first Sunday of the season. What’s amazing about that list? If you look at the top 32 RBs by ADP – or those most likely to be taken in the first six rounds – almost all of them were healthy in Week 10. Sure, some missed a few games, but only Kerryon Johnson and Derrius Guice ended up on injured reserve, and the latter should play again this season after being activated by Washington last week. Moreover, their backups – Ty Johnson, Tre Carson and J.D. McKissic for Detroit, and Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson for Washington – failed to impress.

We ended up with a few of the same backups on multiple teams, and their inability to ascend to either starter-level or timeshare status was a huge reason for our mediocrity. To wit:

  • Rashaad Penny. Heading into Week 10, Seattle starter Chris Carson was the overall RB8 after being drafted as the 16th RB. Two factors were at work here: that Carson has had a near stranglehold on the starting role, and that Penny has done almost nothing to challenge him. This one hurt.
  • Nyheim Hines. The Colts faced a ton of question marks after the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck, and that uncertainty – would the downgrade to Jacoby Brissett mean that Indianapolis would face negative game scripts, necessitating that its passing-down RB would see the field consistently? – was the basis for taking Hines. But starter Marlon Mack has remained healthy all season and has performed pretty much exactly according to his ADP, while Brissett had capably led the offense before his Week 9 injury. Hines has barely factored at all.
  • Jalen Richard. The logic here seemed pretty sound: What if Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs belly-flopped, or Oakland were forced to play from behind? Enter pass-catching specialist Richard. Of course, that hasn’t happened. Like Carson, Jacobs has vastly outperformed his ADP while handling the load of a workhorse. Richard has remained an afterthought.
  • Justice Hill. Again, the preseason narrative that made this pick seemed sound never panned out. Lamar Jackson has proven to be an elite quarterback who can run and throw, and Mark Ingram has remained healthy and productive, leaving nothing for Hill to do.
  • Ronald Jones. Hit! Jones finally grabbed starting duties from Peyton Barber, except that it took until the third month of the season to do so. Although he’s been productive of late, it unfortunately sums up the rest of our season: too little, too late.
Image Credit: Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Rashaad Penny.

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