NFL Week 11 Injuries: Fantasy Football Impact, From Biggest To Smallest

Geoff Lambert puts all fantasy football writers on trial and re-drafts the top 12 picks in the 2017 dynasty rookie draft.

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It’s that time of year again. The time of the year in fantasy football when everyone is an expert. The time of year when anyone can predict anything they want without repercussions. The time of year when there is zero accountability because no one is going to remember it by the time the season starts anyway.

By the end of July, every player that had a down season in 2017 will be written up by some expert  labeling him a bounce-back candidate for 2018. Every low-end fantasy player from last season will be next season’s sleeper — and if it’s really off-the-wall, they will call it a deep  sleeper.

Dynasty players will be told to “sell high” on every player that had a great season and conversely told to “buy low” on guys that struggled. And then, of course, there will be thousands of mock drafts and rankings from just about everyone.

Hi, my name is Geoff Lambert. I’m one of those aforementioned experts , and I think it’s time we are held accountable for our incorrect calls. We spend all spring and summer spewing out tons of opinions, while using stats and trends to sway you to our point-of-view — and we are good at it too.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Statistics never lie, but liars always have statistics”? That sums up the profession of fantasy football writers. ESPN’s fantasy football columnist, Matthew Berry, said it best when describing what we do when he said in one of his Love/Hate columns, “We lie.”

Okay, maybe we don’t lie per se, but we tell half-truths. We form an opinion and do our best to convince you that we are right by using statistics, and we pick and choose which statistics we use to “prove” our point. Let me show you an example.

Example A.

It is time to sell high on Player A. After starting off the season with seven straight double-digit fantasy point games (PPR), he ended the season having scored single-digits in three of his last six games. In fact, in one of those games, he had only one carry despite being fully healthy.

Example B.

If you are drafting this weekend, Player B needs to be at the top of your draft board. In 2017, he had only four games of single-digit fantasy points, and in three of those four, he just missed, scoring 9.3, 9.8 and 9.5 respectively. He ended the season on a strong note by scoring 20 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games, including a 39.6 explosion in Week 15.

Does this type of analysis sound familiar? This is the type of stuff you will read and hear all summer leading up to the start of the football season. Now, are you ready for the real kicker here?

Player A and Player B are the same player. Both examples are describing Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt, and both examples are 100 percent true. Now that I’ve pulled back the curtain to reveal our dirty secret, let’s take a look at last year’s dynasty rookie draft consensus rankings and see who you really  should have drafted.*

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1.01 Leonard Fournette (RB – JAC)  Alvin Kamara (RB – NO) 19.7 FFPG

Okay, I’ll give this one to us, Fournette was by no means a bad call as the top overall rookie last season. However, no one even had Kamara in the top five, let alone the No. 1 rookie in scoring last season. Kamara ended the season with 315.4 total fantasy points compared to Fournette with only 230.2 — a difference of 85 points.

1.02 Corey Davis (WR – TEN) Kareem Hunt (RB – KC) 18.6 FPPG

Here is where things get ugly. Hunt wasn’t even a first-round pick in rookie drafts last season, and yet was the second highest scoring non-quarterback rookie in the entire league behind only Kamara. Not only did he finish fourth in fantasy points for all  running backs, but he also led the entire league in rushing yards. Corey Davis, on the other hand, battled with injuries all season and did not score his first touchdown until the playoffs…the actual NFL playoffs, not the fantasy version.

1.03 Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR) Leonard Fournette (RB – JAC) 17.7 FFPG

Fournette checks in at No. 3, which isn’t too far off his projected No. 1 spot, and as long as we are talking PPR leagues, McCaffery wasn’t a terrible pick at three either.

McCaffery makes an appearance in the “re-drafted” version just a few spots below. We can chalk this one up as another win for the writers.

1.04 Joe Mixon (RB – CIN) Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN) 16.9 FFPG

Here is another sizable miss for us. We had Cook only one spot lower, but Mixon at No. 4 was a big miss. Mixon does make an appearance in the top 10 of the “re-drafted” version, but if you were an owner of Mixon, you know that it was much worse than it looks on paper.

He had six games with single-digit carries and finished the season with only three total touchdowns. If not for his 25.5 fantasy points in Week 12 he may have been out of the top 12 altogether.

1.05 Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN) Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR) 14.4 FFPG

I’ll give this one to the writers. We were only off by one spot on Cook.

Had he not gotten hurt, who knows, maybe the Vikings are the Super Bowl champs and not the Eagles, or better yet, fantasy owners who drafted him might have won their league’s championship. Either way, Cook was a beast until going down for the season. McCaffery finished only two spots below where he was ranked, good job guys, we got this one right.

1.06 Mike Williams (WR – LAC) Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU) 28.6 FFPG

Much like Dalvin Cook, Watson’s great season was cut short by an injury, but on a points per game basis, Watson was the No. 1 fantasy player in all of football when he got hurt. I put him at sixth and not first simply because of his position as a quarterback, they don’t hold as much value as running backs and wide receivers do.

Mike Williams will likely have better seasons ahead of him, but after a preseason injury, his rookie season never got off the ground. Anyone who drafted Williams at No. 6 was thoroughly disappointed with his 11 receptions for 95 yards and no touchdowns in nine games.

1.07 O.J. Howard (TE – TB) JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT) 14.7 FFPG

The writers got it all wrong on this one as Howard could never get out of the shadow of Cameron Brate and then his season was cut short with an injury. Smith-Schuster, on-the-other-hand, emerged as the No. 3 threat in the powerful Steelers’ offense surpassing preseason darling Martvis Bryant. Smith-Schuster was likely drafted as a second or third round pick in 12-team leagues.

1.08 John Ross (WR – CIN) Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR) 11.9 FFPG

Ross was a huge miss. His draft stock got a bump when he was the fastest player at the combine and everyone, myself included, pegged him as the No. 2 receiver in Cincy next to A.J. Green. Instead, he was outplayed by literally every wide receiver on the Bengals roster, including punt and kick returner Alex Erickson who had only 12 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown.

John Ross had one of the worst rookie seasons for a for a first-round pick that I can ever remember. He didn’t catch a single pass, had one carry on a trick play, gained 12 yards on that play then promptly lost a fumble at the end of the run.

That’s it. That’s his entire rookie season.

Kupp, however, became one of the favorite targets for the league’s No. 2 offense, the L.A. Rams. Raise your hand if you saw the Rams as the No. 2 offense in the league. Yeah, me neither.

Kupp ended up with 62 receptions for 869 yards and five touchdowns. Not bad for a rookie wide receiver who contended with Todd Gurley getting so many touches.

1.09 Alvin Kamara (RB – NO) Evan Engram (TE – NYG) 11.6 FFPG

We weren’t far off on the pick of Evan Engram, but no one had Kamara as anything more than an RBBC third wheel in New Orleans. Playing behind Mark Ingram and then Saint Adrian Peterson, no one could have seen Karma’s season coming. Ending the season as the league’s No. 1 fantasy rookie was quite the feat and made all of us writers look foolish.

Engram was one of the few bright spots in New York with 64 receptions, 722 yards, and six touchdowns and looks to fill the void at tight end in New York after a long drought at the position.

1.10 Samaje Perine (RB – WAS) Joe Mixon (RB – CIN) 10.4 FFPG

Perine was given every opportunity in Washington to win the starting role, but he never quite lived up to the preseason hype. Picked by many in the preseason to surpass incumbent starting RB Robert “Fat Rob” Kelley, he was never able to do it while Kelley was healthy. Even after he was handed the reigns to the starting job out of necessity because of injuries, Perine failed to do much with his chances and ended his season with 603 yards, one touchdown, and a paltry 3.4 yards per carry.

Joe Mixon checks in at 1.10 in the re-drafted version, but it’s a very weak 10 if you owned him this year. His long-term prospects may still pay off, but his rookie season was one to forget.

1.11 David Njoku (TE – CLE) Jamaal Williams (RB – GB) 10.2 FPPG

Njoku never really panned out into what the Browns had hoped when they drafted him. He is a freak athlete that many expected would make an impact in the NFL, but it never came to fruition. His 32 receptions for 386 yards and four touchdowns were disappointing for owners hoping to catch the next top-tier tight end.

Williams was part of a three-headed monster in Green Bay that also featured wide receiver turned running back Ty Williams, as well as fellow rookie running back Aaron Jones. All three had fantasy value at one point in the season, but figuring out this backfield became a nightmare for fantasy owners. Williams put up the better per game numbers than Jones, but both of them played well enough to be owned in fantasy leagues, however, neither appeared in the top 12 in the preseason rookie rankings.

1.12 Evan Engram (TE – NYG) Tarik Cohen (RB – CHI) 9.0 FFPG

We weren’t too far off with Engram, but Cohen went largely undrafted in dynasty leagues. He burst on to the scene in Week 1 and became the biggest Week 1 waiver wire pickup.

He was not able to remain consistent enough from week to week while sharing the backfield with Jordan Howard, but he was a big play threat on a team that lacked big-play threats. Howard and Cohen have the potential to be a great one-two punch for the Bears, as they compliment each other perfectly…now if only the Bears could find a QB.

*Based on PPR scoring. Fantasy points per game were used instead of total points because of injuries. Do not use these rankings to make any decisions for your dynasty team, the ‘re-drafted’ version does not reflect a player’s long-term value and is strictly based on their first-year production.


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