Fantasy Football Armageddon: Carnage in Week 3

We're on to Week 4.


 We at the Roto Street Journal and our head guy The Wolf had been riding high over the first two weeks of the fantasy season.  The Wolf was regularly outperforming the experts (Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt, anyone?) with his rankings and predictions, and there were times we may have even started to think we could outsmart the game itself because of our success.  Well, football reminded us on SO many levels during Week 3 that it is a cruel, cruel mistress, and the fantasy gods punished us (and plenty of others) for our hubris.

If you listened to the RSJ this week and got screwed, you have our deepest apologies of course—just know that plenty of us here took it on the chin as badly as any of you.  If we said someone was a glass of wine and he ended up being poison, we drank the poison too.  We practice what we preach, and as a result a lot of us got utterly destroyed this week.

Nothing went right this week.  I do football picks (just winners, no spread) with my 7 year old daughter every week.  In Week 1 I was 13-2.  In Week 2 I was 13-3. See? I had outsmarted the game.  It was all getting so easy for me.  Week 3?  Well after the Raiders getting their asses kicked by Washington (you all predicted that right?) I am sitting at 6-9—and Kansas City was the only convincing winner on my sheet.  With not much going the other direction, I could be 1-14 no problem.  Fantasy gods, I am truly sorry.  Please accept this miniature Pittsburgh Steelers helmet which came extra when I ordered the whole set as tribute for my arrogance.

OK, OK, but is it possible to rebound from a drubbing like this?  In a word, yes.

As you know, we like to compare ourselves to the stock market here at the RSJ.  Without doing too much research you can find several huge nosedives the actual market has taken over the years.  Guys would jump out windows, lines at soup kitchens would wind around the block, people would keep their money stuffed in a mattress instead of putting it in the bank, and people would wonder if things would ever be the same again.  And guess what?  The stock market is higher than it’s ever been.  It’ll crash again.  And it’ll be back again—probably bigger and badder than ever.

Oprah Winfrey was fired for being too emotionally invested in her stories early in her career.  Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination.  Michael Jordan was cut from his 8th or 9th grade basketball team.  Steven Spielberg was rejected form USC’s cinema school a few different times.  JK Rowling was a single mom on welfare when she wrote Harry Potter.  Harrison Ford was told by an executive he’d never succeed in the movie business.  Dr. Seuss had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers.  Even Lady Gaga got dropped after 3 months from her first record deal (good call Def Jam).  If you sold your stock on any of those guys after a rocky start, you’d be crying in your beer right now—except you wouldn’t be able to afford beer—it would be tap water.

Don’t give up on The Wolf and the RSJ because of a lousy week—we’re gonna keep on killing it this year and we’re gonna win our loyal followers titles.  Can we guarantee we won’t have another bad week somewhere in there?  Of course not.  But we’re gonna have way more good ones than bad ones.

HOWEVER… we believe in owning our mistakes here at the RSJ and maybe even making fun of them.  So, (for your entertainment) listed below are 11 of the worst mistakes I could find this week attached to our site.  Enjoy reading up on them and if the mood hits you, send us a voice message on the ‘Fantasy Whine Line,’ we’d love to hear about how we ruined your week.

Huge Mistake #1: Recommending that Stefon Diggs not be started without Sam Bradford to throw to him.

Stefon Diggs started out the fantasy year with an outstanding 7 catch for 93 yards and 2 touchdown game against the Saints.  This prompted many (including myself) to yell from the mountaintops that he was a must start in Week 2—for obvious reasons.  The problem was that Case Keenum ended up starting at quarterback for the Vikings and Diggs went on to do nothing in his Week 2 game.  Based on this two week stretch, this led many in the fantasy world (including our very own Wolf of Roto Street) to assume that Diggs needed the outstanding, proven quarterback play of Sam Bradford (I know, it’s weird to even write it) in order to produce.

This brings us to Week 3.  Here is how things broke down: Case Keenum is still behind center for the Vikings.  Diggs is targeted 11 times.  He pulls in 8 of them.  He records 173 yards.  He scores 2 touchdowns.  He is the top fantasy wide receiver of the week.  I guess even Case Keenum is not a reason to sit out a guy as good as Diggs.

If it makes any of you feel any better, The Wolf got completely abused by yours truly in the RSJ expert league this week—much of that was courtesy of Stefon Diggs, the very man he had disrespected so much.

Huge Mistake #2: Specifically recommending playing Rashard Higgins over Diggs

Yeah, this happened.  Higgins had a big game in Week 2 while Diggs stunk up the joint.  Some people (Intern Kevin, Jimbo Slice, and evidently our own Wolf to name a few) were really becoming believers in this plucky young upstart from Colorado State.  And here he is playing the Colts?!!  The hapless Colts?!!!  The worst team in the NFL, Colts?!!!  The Colts who were actually making the Browns a road favorite for the first time since the Reagan administration?!!!!  Those Colts?

Yes, those Colts.  Those Colts hung 31 on the Browns (we’ll get to that momentarily, because it will lead nicely into a couple of other huge mistakes) which immediately retaught us a lesson we have learned at least a hundred times, which is that you can never, EVER, depend on the Browns to be anything except a worthless piece of shit of any organization.  Ever.  And that goes for their players, too.

Higgins caught two (2) balls for ten (10) yards.  Someone named Jordan Leslie on the Browns outscored Higgins.  So did Kenny Britt.  So did a disoriented homeless man who wandered onto the field and staggered for a few yards before collapsing.  Is there a lesson to be learned from this?  How about not trusting a guy you had never heard of two weeks ago who plays for the worst franchise in the history of sports?  I might get that put on a t-shirt.       

Huge Mistake #3:  Saying Jack Doyle’s Beanstalk would be draped all over Cleveland…

Oh yes, the Browns were a road favorite here, but that didn’t mean The Wolf didn’t love RSJ mainstay Jack “The Beanstalk” Doyle’s matchup.  He was confident enough in Doyle to put him up there in elite company at the tight end position–#4 overall for the week.  He was going to poke holes the size of Camaros in the Cleveland defense, and anyone who was lucky enough to own Mr. Doyle was going to be reaping the benefits.

So, you figure there are 32 NFL teams.  They each start a tight end, maybe a few might run two of them out there from time to time.  If Doyle were to come in 15th or 20th, that would have qualified as a huge disappointment, and one we would have to answer for.  Now imagine that Jack Doyle finished 52nd amongst all tight ends in fantasy scoring this week catching 2 balls for 16 yards and losing a fumble.  Now imagine that you don’t have to imagine, because it was all real.  Every.  Last.  Bit.

Was it the worst performance of all time by a tight end we were high on?  No. We’ll be getting to that one a little later in the list.  Get comfortable.

Huge Mistake #4:  Instead of TY Hilton, who “belongs on benches”

One thing was certain going into that Cleveland matchup for the Colts, and that was that Jack Doyle was the play.  Alleged Colts’ WR1 TY Hilton had done nothing in the first two games of the season because, remember, the Colts were the worst team in the NFL by far.  The RSJ had Hilton at #37 amongst wide receivers going into the week—he was literally a guy you could reasonably sit on your bench.  Anyone who was stupid enough to draft TY Hilton deserved whatever horrible fate was going to befall them.  I mean, Jacoby Brissett was going to be “passing” to him—come on.

And it was true, Hilton did nothing—except for the 7 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown which earned him the #4 spot overall on the wide receiver scoring list for the week.  The only good news if you happened to bench Hilton?  Maybe he found himself sitting on the bench next to Stefon Diggs so the two of them got to catch up a little and talk about how stupid you (and we) are.

Huge Mistake #5: Declaring Philip Rivers a shoe-in QB1 (Which meant Hunter Henry was ready to flip the switch to dependable each week) and saying playing him over Jameis Winston was a “no-brainer”

Part of this one hits a little close to home for me, and although I am only giving it one spot on our Huge Mistakes list, it is actually at least two huge mistakes condensed to save space.  Rivers and Winston are both on my roster in the ESFL—the league I am in with my high school friends from back home.  As all of you know, beating people you have not seen in at least ten years in a game of wits largely played over the internet is literally the most important thing in the world. So, yeah… this was an important one to get right.

It was pretty much a coin flip in my mind—I drafted Winston to be my starter but I really have liked Rivers’s potential too.  The Wolf liked Rivers a lot this week—seven spots higher than the ECR (4 to 11) on his quarterback rankings going into week 3.  Rivers had impressed in the first two weeks, and he was looking like the quarterback steal of the draft—a guy you could rely on as a QB1 who you got for a pittance.

Winston did not by ANY means look amazing in this game against the stiff Minnesota defense—he got picked off three times—he threw often as the Bucs trailed late and actually topped 300 yards on the day and tallied a couple of passing touchdowns on his way to a respectable top 15 fantasy scoring game.

Rivers on the other hand was horrendous from start to finish in his game against the Chiefs.  He passed for a weak 237 yards, threw for no touchdowns, and got picked off three times.  Rivers scored 6.48 fantasy points for the week, ranking him 29th amongst the 30 starting QBs who had played as of the time this article was written—I won’t name the one quarterback who was even worse out of respect for his friends and family.  Cough, cough—Joe Flacco.  Is Rivers a shoe-in QB1 moving forward?  That’s a hard no.

And this leads us into another horrible, horrible error.  That error is named Hunter Henry.  You remember Hunter Henry, right?  The emerging tight end with the huge upside who our own Wolf liked as the Chargers’ number one red zone target?  Well, Hunter Henry was (for the second time this season, which has only spanned three games) NOT TARGETED AT ALL.  Remember how hard I was on Jack Doyle for finishing 52nd amongst tight ends?  Well compared to Hunter Henry, Jack Doyle looked like Tony Gonzalez.

Is Philip Rivers to blame?  Is Hunter Henry just lousy?  Does it even matter at this point?  Not really.  If you roll Hunter Henry out there, you’re doing it with the knowledge that he has scored zero points in 66% of his games this year.  Would you get laser surgery from a guy who blinded people 66% of the time he performed the operation?  If so, feel your way along the wall until you get to your computer and blindly poke at keys until you have him in your lineup again. 

Huge Mistake #6: Horribly misjudging the Titans’ Backfield situation 

It’s no secret we’ve always loved Derrick Henry.  Hell, we still do.  With Titans’ top RB DeMarco Murray banged up, Henry looked poised to get his big chance and stick it to the Seahawks.  The Wolf alluded to Henry being “let out of his cage” in Week 3 and that he expected 100+ yards and a touchdown from him.  He said to sell Murray and buy Henry whenever possible.  This was the time to strike.

There was only one major problem with the advice that was given—“banged up” Murray still looked pretty damn good.  The players in question actually got almost an equal number of carries (14 for Murray and 13 to Henry) but whereas Henry was just pretty good (54 yards rushing), Murray was lights out (115 yards and a touchdown).  Granted, Murray put up like 75 of those on a late game run, but even without it their stat lines would’ve been similar.  Henry would not have taken the job based on those performances, and when you factor in the TD run from Murray it’s fairly evident who the RB1 in Tennessee still is. 

Huge Mistake #7: Recommending Jay Cutler as a streamer

I have heard an amazing variety of opinions on Jay Cutler since his reemergence with the Miami Dolphins, and after his improbable victory over the Chargers in Week 2 which saw him connect with DeVante Parker a few times the prevailing opinion seemed to be that he was on the right track.  Enter the New York Jets, a strong early candidate for the worst team in the league.  The Jets had been beaten by the seemingly hopeless Bills and trashed by the seemingly mighty Raiders (both the Bills and the Raiders’ reputations changed a lot this week, but nevertheless…) in the first two weeks.  If what Derek Carr did to the Jets was any indicator as to what Jay Cutler would do, starting Cutler was something you really needed to consider.

Well, it wasn’t.  The Dolphins only managed 6 points against the Jets and Cutler scored a pathetic 12.70 fantasy points—220 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.  Cutler was 23rd out of the 30 quarterbacks who had played as of the time this piece was written in fantasy scoring and he reminded us all that no matter where he plays and no matter who is playing with… he is still Jay Cutler.

Huge Mistake #8: Specifically recommending Cutler as a streamer over Russell Wilson 

Russell Wilson had been underwhelming to say the least in the first two games of the year and the Wolf specifically was well ahead of the experts as far as his rankings of the Seattle quarterback.  In Week 3, Seattle would be travelling to face a tough Tennessee team.  Having struggled traditionally on the road (especially early in the season) The Wolf not only felt confident ranking Wilson 15th, but even recommending at least once to start (shudder) Jay Cutler over him.

Wilson abused the Titans for 33.52 fantasy points on 373 yards passing to go along with 4 TDs—a monster game by any standards.  The fact that Seattle lost and continues to struggle early on the road is irrelevant; this is fantasy.  Wilson finished 2nd amongst fantasy quarterbacks behind only Tom “GOAT” Brady this week and has given us a lot to think about moving forward.  For a guy who couldn’t throw a single touchdown against the 49ers (who just gave up 41 points to the Rams), that in itself is an impressive feat. 

Huge Mistake #9: Saying that “Brandin Cooks needs to prove he’s a part of this offense before we keep crowning him a WR1”

I totally agreed with the sentiment expressed by the Wolf and reflected in his rankings on Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks.  The problem is that we were both wrong.  Cooks pulled in 5 catches for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns in a crazy exciting game against the Texans in Week 3 and established himself as (dare I say) a no brainer WR1 moving forward.  Tom Brady has thrown 8 TDs in the last two weeks—they have to go to someone, right?  Might as well be to the fastest man on the field.

Huge Mistake #10: Declaring that “This (Sunday) will be a James White day”

Only if James White is going to get his own day for scoring 3.30 fantasy points in the game—a game that we have already established there were plenty of points to go around in.  Tom Brady finished as the top quarterback, Rob Gronkowski finished as the top tight end, and Brandin Cooks finished as the second ranked receiver.  James White, in contrast, carried the ball 5 times for 17 yards to go along with his one (1) catch for 11 yards.

I think there has been a bit of a sensation the past year and change that the Patriots’ offense (and in particular their running game) is becoming a little easier to predict from a fantasy standpoint.  Well guess what?  They’re still the Patriots and they’re still being coached by Bill Belichick.  Is he doing this just to fuck with you?  It’s entirely possible.  And that’s why we should all be a little more cautious moving forward. 

Huge Mistake #11: Ranking the Ravens defense #1 

In the first two weeks of the season, the Baltimore Ravens had shut out the Bengals and destroyed the Browns.  Not a bad first two teams to draw to start your season, right?  This had a lot of us thinking the 2017 Ravens defense was the 2002 Ravens defense, and a matchup with Blake Bortles and the Jaguars seemed like a great bet to get decimated by a group that had all the momentum in the world.  Sound reasoning, right?

Check yourself.  The main thing we learned here is something I’m embarrassed to say that we already know and have talked about at length in a joking manner prior to this game—the Jaguars own London, and that’s where this “game” was played.  Unable to force the turnovers (which has a level of randomness to them) they had forced against Cleveland and Cincinnati, the Ravens’ defense got utterly annihilated by Blake Bortles and his offensive attack that was completely built for the streets of London.  Leonard Fournette and Allen Hurns (‘Urns) both found the end zone, and Joe Flacco passed for 28 yards and got picked off twice scoring negative fantasy points on the day and never giving his overrated defense any real chance to compete.  If they were the London Jaguars and not the Jacksonville Jaguars they’d have probably won 3 of the past 5 Super Bowls.

Here’s to a better Week 4 everyone–tune into the podcast this week where you’ll get to hear us getting ripped by readers and listeners just like you.  (And also for the advice that is STILL going to win you your fantasy leagues this season.)  Later.

-The Truth


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