Fantasy football: Staring hopelessly into the endless wide receiver abyss

Credit: Layout Manager Credit: Layout Manager

Now that the actual NFL season is beginning to heat up, I’m realizing what it actually takes to run a solid fantasy team. I’m also realizing that following the projections is not going to cut it much longer. I should start to maybe understand football and follow my players more seriously.

Even though I had a great week, coming out of it with twice my opponent’s points (80-40), I made some mistakes in creating my starting lineup. I had a few players with injuries listed as questionable. Chargers tight end Ladarius Green suffered a concussion in week 3, Jets wide receiver Eric Decker had a knee injury but was still expected to play through it, and Texans wide receiver Nate Washington hurt his hamstring. I made the wrong call by starting Decker as flex, Washington as a wide receiver alongside Garcon, and leaving Green on the bench.

Unfortunately, Washington did not play and Green did. Not only did he start, but he scored 11 points. Sure, I won by 40 points, but I could have won by 51 points and scored 91 points, which could have been my highest scoring week to date! To be honest, I blame sports editor Zeke Rosenberg, who told me not to start Green, even though I would have benched Decker anyway [ed. note: at the time of the inquiry, Green was in the NFL’s concussion protocol.]

Also to anyone who’s been following my burning hatred for Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon, he scored zero points again, and I’m very close to dropping him. The next eligible available running back in my league is Titans running back/wide receiver Dexter McCluster. His name is just hilarious enough for me to consider the switch.

I’m actually slightly nervous for week 5. I have four players with bye weeks, including two of my consistent performers, Decker and the Jets D/ST. My lineup overall just looks really mediocre, with the exception of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

As it turns out, Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount might even be something of a saving grace for Team Ya Gurl Gutie. Team Alexander is carrying five running backs, except two of them are out with injuries and the other three are just terrible. Thank God I have one excellent running back and one that is acceptable, because this is the only spot where I have a significant edge over the enemy.
I’m not worried about Wilson’s performance, because he’s yet to disappoint me. His counterpoint on Team Alexander is Kirk Cousins of Washington. His performance so far this season has been highly variable — seven points week one to 21 points week four, depending on the worthiness of their adversary. This week Washington will face Atlanta, ranked 11th in the league. Hopefully Wilson will be able to outscore Cousins because I need to close the gap somewhere, which will be created in every other position.

At wide receiver, Alexander has Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman. Even though I don’t know a huge amount about football, I know those names. Facing them, I have Washington‘s Pierre Garcon and the Titans’ Justin Hunter. Garcon is usually a solid player, but Hunter is only starting this week because Decker has a bye week and Washington is officially out right now with his hamstring injury. Now I have to start my worst wide receiver. There is no conceivable way that I will best Team Alexander at wide receiver.

My starting tight end this week is the Rams’ Jared Cook, matched up against Travis Kelce of the Chiefs. From what I can glean of Kelce, he’s a talented tight end on a pretty bad team. When he’s good, he is really good. Also helpful is that he’s number one receiver for the Chiefs. Cook, however, sits in the back seat while the Rams’ Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin get most of the action. Plus they’re facing the Green Bay Packers this week, whose defense is really solid. I don’t expect excellent things.

I’m putting Green in as my flex, but I have my reservations about him moving forward in the season. After serving a four week suspension for using performance enhancing drugs — which seems short in my opinion — the Chargers’ top tight end Antonio Gates will see the field again this week. I’ll have to see how the Chargers choose to play Green and Gates in order to determine whether to keep him around for the rest of the season.

As if Team Alexander couldn’t be more blessed by solid wide receivers, he will also start Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen as his flex. With the exception of week two, Allen has been scoring in the double digits. I expect that this is just another position where I’ll lose more points.

With the Jets out, I’ll have to start the Giants D/ST, going head to head against the Broncos. I’ve been pretty happy with the Jets this season, and it pains me to have to play anyone but them. The Giants have yet to break double digits yet this season, while the Broncos have been solid in every outing they’ve had so far. Their worst showing was nine points in week four, while coincidentally, the Giants’ best showing so far has been nine points in weeks one and four. I expect this matchup to create a deficit.

Finally at kicker, I still have a strong love for the Broncos’ Brian McManus. He’s matched up against the Cowboys’ Dan Bailey. In reality, I feel like there isn’t much strategy to being a kicker. The offense can either score a touchdown and give him an opportunity to kick an extra point, or the offense can screw up and give him an opportunity to kick a field goal. Either way, the offense decides when it’s time for him to kick, and all he has to do is not screw up. This is just my observer’s perspective though.

The projections have the matchup coming out tied 72–72. The projections are never reliable though, and I have a feeling my two game winning streak will come to an end this week.