Sports

The Tartan fantasy football gears up for a second year

The Tartan kicked off year two of fantasy football with the draft, the method of initially building teams. Draft boards are largely virtual, not physical. (credit: Courtesy of Jim F via Wikimedia Commons) The Tartan kicked off year two of fantasy football with the draft, the method of initially building teams. Draft boards are largely virtual, not physical. (credit: Courtesy of Jim F via Wikimedia Commons)

With the new year in football comes the revival of fantasy football leagues across the nation, as millions return to the game that manages to get people to care about even the worst teams like the Cleveland Browns: fantasy football. Last year, Editor-in-Chief India Price defeated my team by two points to take the championship in The Tartan’s first year of fantasy football. This year, the league has reconvened as Tartan FF 2017, featuring returning veterans and two newcomers to Tartan fantasy. Here’s a recap of our league’s draft as all teams dream for the championship (or at least hope not to fail miserably).

Justin Tucker Must (not) Die

Tartan staff member Lula Beresford returned to fantasy football hoping to avenge last year’s eighth place finish. The randomized draft order allowed her to pick first overall this year, and she decided to put her trust in Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell is a solid player who comes as both a ground threat and a quality receiver who could be her most reliable player, provided he stays out of persistent drug troubles.

Past this point, any semblance of a typical draft strategy went out the window. At the end of the second round, Beresford reached for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and soon after selected Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the top of the fifth round. While it’s understandable to want two quality quarterbacks, she would have been better off shoring up her roster with better running backs and wide receivers. Added to the fact that she was earliest to pick a defense, opting for the Denver Broncos defense, at the end of the eighth round and the earliest to pick a kicker, choosing Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, and there is a fundamental mismatch between Beresford’s strategy and fantasy victory. At least since this year only has six teams competing, she literally can’t place worse than she did last year.

Third-String Team

Assistant Sports Editor Marika Yang groaned when I asked her to join our league since she was already taking part in two other leagues. Still, she agreed to participate, aptly titling her team as third-string. The quality of her players, however, are anything but that. Yang first picked Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson, fantasy’s top running back in 2016. Her second pick netted Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, one of the most reliable receivers in fantasy.

In the third round, she made a somewhat risky move by selecting Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch decided to come out of retirement to play for the Raiders. Though he may have some rust, the Raiders offensive line and quality passing attack may afford Lynch enough breathing room to make plays. In the fifth round, Yang got Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, fantasy’s top tight end in 2016. She then waited through a run on quarterbacks and grabbed Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, the second best quarterback in 2016. Overall, Yang’s team looks to be a contender for the playoffs, especially since she actually knows stuff about football.

Team Andah

As evident by the current lack of a special name for his team, SciTech Editor Josh Andah decided to try his hand at learning about football and participating in fantasy. Unfortunately, he didn’t show up for the draft, throwing himself to the mercy of autopick. Andah ended up with a strong core of starters, headlined by Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown’s status as the league’s deadliest catching threat is one of the biggest reasons why the Steelers offense is a nightmare for opposing defenses to plan for, and it translates well to fantasy performance as Brown finished as 2016’s number one fantasy receiver. Andah supplemented his receiving corp with Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, one of the strongest receivers in the league.

Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard was a waiver wire star last year, and Andah may have himself a good workhorse at running back. He only has one quarterback: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson will be fine, and there are many quarterbacks available on the waiver wire. The biggest threat to Andah’s chances of victory is his own activity or lack thereof. Evans, for instance, won’t play this week because the game has been postponed due to Hurricane Irma. He has not yet changed this slot at the time of this writing, which may serve as a precursor to him losing easy points by not changing to players who are actually playing. While his roster seems fine, it’s up to Andah to keep making it work as the year goes on.

Drop it Like it’s Crock

Publisher Jade Crockem finished in third place last year, but she’s still bitter about missing the finals and eager to claim victory this year. She first chose Packers running back Ty Montgomery, a surprising rushing and receiving threat who emerged last year as a shock to teams he played against. Another early pick landed her Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, the second best receiver in 2016. She reached a bit for Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, but it may be worth securing 2016’s third best fantasy tight end.

Getting ahead of the sixth round’s quarterback run, Crockem selected Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, showing bias for her family’s team but still getting someone who should be a solid quarterback. Taking Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was a move that cut me from one of my most valuable players in 2016, which was a good call. Time will tell whether this year will belong to Crockem or not.

Easy Breesy

This year will likely be my last for fantasy, as my interest in football has been dropping out. In deciding what receiver to take, I found myself spooked by New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham’s poor performance against the Packers last year as his decision to take a vacation with the receiving corps rather than practice resulted in tons of dropped balls. The offseason did not suggest that he had learned his lesson, pushing me to opt for Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones instead. Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy should prove to be a strong running back as the focal point of Buffalo’s offense.

Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray reliably averaged 20 points per game last season outside of the final two single point performances. I reached a bit for both Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, but I believe in both players’ power to dominate games. While things went well for me last season in terms of a lack of crippling injuries, I’ll need to stay alert if I want to return to the championships.

Yes We Cam

Price began her title defense with a strong draft performance. Taking Beckham after I passed on him, she later picked up Falcons running back Devonta Freeman and Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot in particular was a steal since he had been rated lower on the board due to the NFL’s six-game suspension on him due to domestic abuse allegations. A judge blocked this suspension on Friday, setting up a legal battle that may cause Elliot to avoid missing any games this year, which is advantageous for Price. Compromised morals mean nothing when it comes to fantasy football.

Evidently, Price believes that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton can make a comeback this year after he fell off stat wise last season. One strange move Price made was picking the Steelers defense in the fifth round, even before selecting Newton. In the long run, the opportunity cost of picking a defense so early probably won’t have too much of an effect, but it remains curious that the championship winner last year would make such a move.