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Mon Dec 28th 2020

2020 Week Sixteen Review

Book-end League Winners

I can't believe the dynasty regular season ends tonight. The NFL made it successfully through the season with only a few COVID-related hiccups, and commissioners will crown dynasty league winners.

Out of my eight dynasty leagues, I made it to two Super Bowls. One I have already won, and the other comes down to the Monday night game. I also took home the title on one of my two redraft leagues. All in all, it was a pretty successful year. Though I always want more championships, I just enjoyed the season and am so glad that I had football to watch and dynasty teams to cheer.

After following all of the games, here are my thoughts on week sixteen, Super Bowl week. Since it's the end of the year, I'll also reflect on the best trades and acquisitions I made to help my teams. Next week I will remember the worst decisions I made this year.

Week Sixteen Observations

Book-end League Winners

  • What stands out most to me from week sixteen was the way it started and ended. The Christmas-day play of Alvin Kamara and the Sunday night play of Davante Adams was the book-ends of week 16, and they likely resulted in fantasy championships. It looked like it was going to be a Kamara day when he busted off a 40-yard touchdown on the Saint's first possession, but no one imagined it would turn into an NFL record-tying six-touchdown day. Kamara's Christmas green and red shoes carried teams into the weekend or buried teams into the weekend. Kamara managers lucky enough to survive his previous three mediocre weeks to get to the Super Bowl were rewarded with a lead that was nearly impossible to overcome. I say nearly impossible because one of my Super Bowl teams with Kamara was overcome by another team, until Sunday night when Davante Adams saved the day. Adam's scored three touchdowns and had a few receptions near the end of the game when Green Bay could have just as easily run out the clock. I've never seen so many games swung on one players' performance. Five of my leagues saw lead changes in the last few minutes of Sunday night's game when Adam's caught that final touchdown and had his final few receptions in garbage time. I won my Reality Sports Online league because of Adams. I lost a lead in a Super Bowl because of Adams and now need Stefon Diggs and the Buffalo Defense to score eight more points than Josh Allen on Monday night. I lost first place in an MFL-10 because of Adams. In my favorite league, a team won the Super Bowl by two points after Adam's last meaningless reception, coming from 74 points behind with the Rodgers and Adams stack. It was a fun and fitting way to end the season. I just hope Monday night's game can provide the same kind of drama to be the true book-end to this fantasy season.

Forcing Decisions

  • The quarterback play on Sunday caused three teams to make decisions. They have the proverbial "keep-trade-cut" decisions that we dynasty managers sometimes like to play. The easiest decision belongs to the Washington Football Team. They have to "cut" Dwayne Haskins, who played horribly on Sunday and was benched by his coach for Taylor Heinicke. Haskins has made horrible decisions on and off the field and will not finish his contract with Washington. I am sure of it. Washington will be a team looking to trade for a quarterback this offseason or draft one in the 2021 NFL draft. They may want to "trade" for a player like Sam Darnold. The Jets have locked up the second pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and while they lost the race for Trevor Lawrence by winning the last two games, they still need to draft the next best quarterback with their first pick in the draft. Sam Darnold still has a year left on his rookie contract, so he will either compete with a rookie or get traded this offseason. There is always hope for a career rebound once a player escapes the grips of Adam Gase. Ryan Tannehill is proof of that. There is a real chance that Darnold could get a second chance on a team like Washington, Indianapolis, or San Fransisco. I'd like to see him get the chance, but he'll be competing with a strong rookie class, free agent Jameis Winston, and Carson Wentz, who also may be on the trading block. The Bears may also be in the quarterback market unless they decide to "keep" Mitch Trubisky, who has played really well to end the season. It would be hard for the Bears not to re-sign him if he carries the team into the playoffs as it now appears after this three-game winning streak. This decision is the most difficult of the three mentioned here. I bet the Bears will let Trubisky enter free agency to test the market. If his market is cold, which I suspect it will be, they can then re-sign him to a much more modest contract. This offseason will be filled with many "keep- trade-cut" quarterback decisions for NFL teams.

Team Mulligans

  • Two teams have had awful seasons, bringing down most of their players' dynasty value, but I expect serious bouncebacks next year. I want to give the 49ers and Lions a team mulligan for this year. Kyle Shanahan showed again on Saturday how masterfully he can call plays and make players great. Jeff Wilson had a 30-point fantasy day, and the offense looked completely different when George Kittle is playing even with a third-string quarterback. At this point, it's fair to assume that Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Jimmy Garoppolo will get injured every year, but if somehow they could break that trend, this could be a very explosive offense next year. I would not be surprised if the 49ers are in the market for a quarterback this offseason, which could really change the offense's effectiveness. Shanahan may continue to keep us guessing as to which running back he will use most every week, but whoever it is, they will score a lot of fantasy points. Unlike the 49ers, the Lions did nothing on Sunday to give me confidence in their offense. My confidence is in their star players and a new culture under a new coaching staff. Matt Patricia was a cancer to the team, creating a toxic culture that radically affected the team. Once a new coaching staff and culture are installed, Detroit has every reason to bounce back next year, at least from an offensive fantasy perspective. I don't believe Detroit will trade Matt Stafford. I do think they will re-sign Kenny Golladay to a long-term contract. D'Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson are great building blocks in their rookie contracts, and I believe Quintez Cephus is poised to take over for Marvin Jones if he is not re-signed this offseason. I am sure they will hire a more offensive-minded head coach, which most teams do after firing a defensive-minded head coach. Better days are ahead from a fantasy standpoint in Detroit. 

Reason To Hope

  • A few weeks ago, I wrote about how fantastic this rookie class has been, especially the first two rounds of dynasty rookie picks last year. Two of the exceptions I mentioned were Ke'Shawn Vaughn and A.J. Dillon. This Sunday, due to injuries and blowout wins, they each had more touches than they have had all year. They looked good too! Vaughn had 15 carries for 62 yards. Dillon had 21 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns. The last week of the dynasty season gave managers reason to believe their rookie draft picks have promise after all. Both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are free agents after this season. I am sure Green Bay will sign one of them, but certainly not both. Ronald Jones has one more year on his contract, and Leonard Fournette is a free agent after this season. That means, at the very least, Dillon and Vaughn should be splitting time next year in their backfields. Their dynasty values will rise pretty quickly once free agency starts.

Cleaning House

  • I'll write more about this next week when I advise on what to do at this time of the dynasty season, but one thing I like to do at the end of the regular season is clean house by dropping aging players on my roster to pick up younger prospects. I don't do anything drastic, but if I have an older player that literally never entered my starting line-up during the season, I am willing to drop him for a younger player. The three players I've been targeting to pick up are Tyron Johnson, Donald Parham, and Dan Arnold. Johnson is 24 years old with only one year of experience. He's come on strong to end the season and could become the WR-3 on an up-and-coming offense under Justin Herbert. Parham, on the same offense, is a gigantic 23-year-old tight end. He's 6'8" and 237 pounds. Hunter Henry is a free agent who may or may not get re-signed by the Chargers, especially given the possible new coaching staff if Anthony Lynn gets fired. Arnold is a bit older than Johnson and Parham at 25 years old, but he's earned a role as the starting tight end in Arizona and has had some excellent fantasy outputs near the end of this season. These are all bottom of the roster players, but I'd much rather have them on my roster at the end of a season than continue to roster players like DeSean Jackson, Tevin Coleman, or Alshon Jeffery.

2020 Victory Laps

One of the valuable things to do as a dynasty manager is to take an honest look at the trades and acquisitions you made during the season to see which moves paid off and which did not. You can learn from your mistakes and your successes.

This week I wanted to write about the moves I made this season that helped my teams. Next week I will write about the moves that hurt my teams. I've certainly done both!

Trading for Stefon Diggs and Mike Evans

  • I'm in the Super Bowl in this league and can win if Diggs has a good night tonight, but win or lose, I like the trades I made in this league. I made an aggressive move to acquire Diggs midseason in this league, trading J.K. Dobbins and Juju Smith-Schuster for Diggs and Jonnu Smith. Juju's inconsistency was hurting my team, and I feared he would not re-sign in Pittsburg since Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson were playing so well. Dobbins was not yet starting for my team at that point since I had Jonathan Taylor and Miles Sanders. I love J.K. Dobbins. He was my second-ranked rookie in last year's class, but I was willing to part with him to get the long-term consistency from Diggs, who quickly became Josh Allen's primary target on a surprisingly explosive offense. Diggs paid off, carrying my team to the final playoff spot and now to the Super Bowl. At the trade deadline in this league, the league's highest-scoring team offered me Mike Evans and Devin Singletary for Raheem Mostert and Andy Isabella. I smashed accept! This team had six startable wide receivers in a league where you can only start four, so that's why he was willing to part with Evans so readily. He was hurting at running back and suspected that Mostert would come off IR and carry his team into the playoffs. It didn't work for him, but he managed to get to the Super Bowl anyway and started Jeff Wilson against me this week instead. Wilson and Evans both scored 30 points this week, making our Super Bowl match-up and high-scoring battle. Evans did his part to help me win this league. Now I just need Diggs to do the same tonight.

Buying Travis Kelce and Trading Up For Tee Higgins

  • One of my favorite leagues is a 48-team league with guys in the dynasty industry. There are four 12-team divisions, and the top three finishers in each division move to the champions division each year. After year one, I advanced to the champions division. In year two, I aimed to stay there and do my best to win in all. I fell short in the semi-finals last week but placed in the top three to remain in the champions division. Two moves that I made in this league helped me do it. I traded up four spots in the second round in the rookie draft and gave up my third-round pick to draft Tee Higgins. Had I held pat with my second-round pick, I would have drafted Michael Pittman. I am so glad that I moved up for Higgins. Higgins has been a star this year, even these final weeks without Joe Burrow. He'll be Burrow's number one target for the next decade and an every-week starter in my line-ups. The other trade made in this league was about the biggest trade I've ever made. A rebuilding team put Travis Kelce on the block in this tight-end premium league (1.75 PPR). I started making offers and ultimately sent my 2021 first and second-round picks and Jerry Jeudy to get Kelce on my team. I also received his 2021 third-round pick. Kelce is the 7th highest scoring player in this league, including quarterbacks. The picks I gave up will be the 10th and 22nd pick because Kelce helped me finish in third place. While I will not enjoy waiting until the third round to draft a rookie, I am happy to be in the champions division again and fight to win the league next year when I'm able to start a healthy Christian McCaffrey alongside Kelce and Higgins.

Reality Sports Online Instant Rebuild

  • I know most of you are not in salary cap leagues, but you should try to add at least one to your portfolio. It's a blast! My buddy, Dave Brown, and I co-manage a team, and we just won our third Super Bowl in four years. Last year was the first season that we missed the playoffs, but we bounced right back this year to win the league because of our rookie draft picks and free-agent auction additions to our team. Everything we touched in this league this year turned to gold. The season started with the rookie draft, where we first traded our 1.5 pick for Austin Ekeler, who was under contract for two more years. We then drafted CeeDee Lamb at 1.6, Brandon Aiyuk at 2.5, and Justin Herbert at 3.5. By the end of the season, these three rookies were every-week starters for us, and we now have them on rookie contracts for the next three years. The season continued with our free agent rookie draft, where we outbid managers to sign Darren Waller to a three-year contract. Waller's contract is the 6th highest for tight ends in this league, yet only Travis Kelce scored more fantasy points at this position. Midseason, we extended the contract of Robby Anderson, who faded near the end of the year but scored in our Super Bowl win. Devante Adamas was the first player we extended four years ago after drafting him in the start-up auction, and Adams won the game for us last night. He was the book-end on Sunday night while Alvin Kamara, our first-ever rookie draft pick who we signed to a franchise contact this year, earned his $40M salary by being our highest scoring player to start the Super Bowl. Dave and I made decisions as a team throughout the year, and two heads must have been better than one because we've crushed this salary cap league three out of the last four years.

Dak Prescott and Alvin Kamara As First Round Start-up Picks

  • Last August, I joined a new competitive league with a $105 buy-in. I started the season with a bang, riding the back of my first-round pick, Dak Prescott. His injury obviously hurt my team significantly, but my second first-round pick (after trading up), Alvin Kamara, kept me in the race. In week eleven, I was tied for first place and playing the other first-place team. I lost by 2 points when Kamara had his first bad game with Taysom Hill. I lost the next two weeks too and missed the playoff, losing the 6th seed, which was awarded to the highest-scoring team who had a worse record than me. I was very disappointed, to say the least, but when I look back at my first-round picks in this start-up draft, I could not be happier with my selections. I'm confident that Dak and Alvin can keep me a competitive team in the years to come. I worry a bit about Kamara's quarterback situation next year, but Sean Peyton is too smart not to give Kamara the touches he needs to be a star. If Andy Dalton can get the Dallas offense humming like he has the last two weeks, then I know Dak can do even better next year. With rare exceptions, Jerry Jones signs the guys he drafted. Dak will stay in Dallas and give me, a Cowboy fan, more than one reason to root for Dak as the comeback player of the year in 2021. He can do it.

Mike Davis and Salvon Ahmed Off The Waiver Wire

  • Early into training camp, reports circulated that Mike Davis was ahead of Reggie Bonnafon to be Christian McCaffrey's back up. I picked up Mike Davis in literally all of my leagues. I only dropped him in one league at the cutdown date. Davis became an every-week starter for my teams, helping carry me to wins. He had a few down weeks as the season carried on, but by then, I had already won many games because of him. Davis won't hold much dynasty value next year unless McCaffrey is injured again, but he made a massive impact on my teams this year. Salvon Ahmed, however, can hold dynasty value beyond this year. Ahmed is the player I am most excited about among those I picked up off the waiver wire this year. He was one of the players I recommended drafting in the fourth and fifth rounds of rookie drafts last year after signing an undrafted free agent contract with the 49ers. Well, he ended up in Miami, and while Myles Gaskin was injured became a reliable starter for a few weeks and likely earned a permanent role with the team as a result. I was disappointed to see that Miami gave almost all the carries to Gaskin this week once he returned from his injury, but Ahmed could be a more reliable back-up or push Gaskin for time better than Matt Breida can. Time will tell. Miami could easily draft a running back this year, but they did not last year when they had the opportunity, so it's very possible that coach Flores does not believe in drafting running backs high. After all, his two best backs this year were both undrafted free agents. They may be next year too.

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