A 2023 Self-Appraisal: Transparency, Accountability, and the Pursuit of Betterment, Part 1 – Preseason and Weeks 1-4
Image Credit: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: D'Andre Swift.

“Self-examination, the observation of one’s own experience, is the very root of the intelligence.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Using self-examination to accept the person you are could be worthwhile for your mental health, but it can’t generally improve your performance at a craft. Using self-examination to become better requires action. And it begins with an honest evaluation of what you have been doing and what results those methods produce.

The first step for me in the 2023 chapter of my coming-of-age story as a fantasy football analyst is to review the things I’ve been most convicted of regarding fantasy football to see how the things I valued aided or failed me. Fortunately for me, as a person who states his convictions openly on a public website several times a week, I have a built-in journal already recorded and easy to access.

I put many things on paper, so I will break this down into five parts. There will be four like this one, breaking the data down into chronological quarters, in which I will dissect all the calls I’ve made and categorize them. Then, there will be one more at the end to sum up what it all means. This fifth article will be the most critical piece, as it will explore how and why the what came to be. Only then can we seek to identify lessons from a season’s worth of observation.

The point is to be honest and start with my defenses down. The data may lead me right back to a defensive posture, and that’s because, inevitably, some of the misses will be justified, just as some of the hits will be fortunate. But I want to be clear that while the first four articles will explore the results, they are not to imply that the process is less valuable than the result. The key to fantasy football is ultimately finding a reliable way to untangle what is predictive from what is random, and that begins and ends with process.

But we’ll dig into process more at the end of the series. For now, here we go. Let’s work through every call I’ve made in 2023, starting with the preseason through Week 4.

INDIRECT HITS AND NEAR MISSES – IS IT GETTING BETTER, OR DO YOU FEEL THE SAME?

Whether it ended up incomplete or didn’t pass or fail in any particular way, these are the ones where the tree fell in the woods with no witnesses — nobody got hurt, and nihilism won the day.

The Call When I Made It Why I Made It Result
Pierre Strong and Israel Abanikanda are discount buy candidates. August 18, 2023 Due to recent signings, these intriguing college profiles were cheap The price was too low to miss; the players haven’t paid off yet
Pickens is a solid mid-round pick in home leagues. August 26, 2023 Promising advanced stats, second-season WR, Steelers expected to improve with a second-year QB. Great in fantasy playoffs, but up-and-down throughout the year
The Chiefs’ defense is so good the offensive pieces may struggle to meet ADP. September 19, 2023 The Chiefs started the season looking like an elite defense, so the offense may not have to push the pace. The defense didn’t remain elite, and the offense struggled, but not for this reason alone.
It won’t matter for Bijan Robinson if Tyler Allgeier remains this involved. September 19, 2023 They were on the field together a lot; Robinson’s passing usage was elite, veteran deference isn’t unusual for a rookie early on, but Robinson is too good to be held back for long. Robinson never fully emerged from his cage, but he did make the most of his split. His goal line usage was maddening, but his receiving usage stuck. He finished as an RB1, but he just missed ADP for most.

D’ANDRE SWIFT’S 27.1 POINTS IN WEEK 2 SHOULD NOT BE ACCEPTED AS THE STANDARD

When I called it: 5 Things that Matter from Week 2, and 5 Things that (Probably) Don’t, September 19, 2023

What I wrote:

The performance comes with a ton of contextual weight. For starters, we must remember that Swift was traded for a fifth-round pick after Detroit gave up on him and essentially drafted the same archetype this spring with a first-round pick. This indicates that Detroit prioritizes the role but decided someone other than Swift would fill it.

The trade was no skin off Philly’s back, as they would rather take an upside shot on Swift than take a bubble special teams player or dime specialist that would usually be attached with that sort of late-round pick. That’s just intelligent management. But it’s a no-commitment commitment, and their level of investment may or may not speak to their own trust in Swift. In reality, Gainwell, a fifth-rounder, cost the Eagles the same draft capital as Swift. And out of camp, they chose Gainwell as their starter over Swift.

The Eagles tried to pass more frequently in the game’s early stages. However, as the broadcast announcers did a great job pointing out, Vikings DC Brian Flores designed his defense with a strict urgency not to succumb to Philadelphia’s electric passing game. So, the Eagles adjusted in the second quarter and began to run on virtually every play. This was not met with any real reaction by Minnesota, who stuck to their guns and continued to prioritize the pass.

Additionally, Boston Scott, who began the game as the Eagles’ change-of-pace back, was injured by halftime and did not return. Scott was not in an even split with Swift — this was Swift’s backfield from the start — but his absence forced the Eagles to keep Swift on the field for a larger share of the plays than they likely intended.

How it came out: Swift did not meet this total in any game again, though he did take over as the starter. He posted RB1

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Mat Irby

RotoViz contributor since 2023, fantasy player since 1991, and someone who occasionally dabbles in full-time film work when no one's looking - even on a thing or two you've seen. Atlanta is for sleeping, but Dallas will always be home.

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