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COUCH TOMATOES: Please Don’t Stop the Train

Warning: Reading this column about fantasy football can be hazardous to your health. If you cannot handle humor and satire, mixed in with a few juicy tidbits of NFL facts, this may not be for you. But if you are ready—read on my friends.

Fantasy football has multiple endpoints and we have reached the first one. I am going to address all of you leaving the game until 2017, as well as those playing for championships. This has been a year of extremes for many of us. I have two playoff teams, two that came close and three where wait until next year is my New Year’s slogan.

In the scheme of things, injuries and under-performances hit all of us. Whoever thought that Dak Prescott, Jay Ajayi or Tyreek Hill would play big roles in 2016? Promising players like Blake Bortles, Todd Gurley and Demaryius Thomas played well below expectations. Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson never really got to the starting gate.

Once again luck, both good and bad befell all of us. Many gripped their heads, rolling over into a fetal position crying out “woe is me.”  A brave few went to the mats and wheeled and dealt their way through a long and perilous season.

In my Sirius XM Dynasty league, a 16-team league with 40-man rosters, taxi squads and a mixed 20-player lineup with nine offensive players and 11 IDPs, I finished atop my division with a 10-2 record. That also gave me the number #1 seed in the playoffs and a bye.

As you can see, there are quite a few of the Fantasy Channel (XM 87) and a few others (several Fantasy Sharks guys included). The funny thing here is that even with being experts, many of the owners just do not have a solid grasp on the scoring rules. I inherited an 8-4 team from 2015 and other than keeping Tom Brady and Drew Brees; I generally made the team a lot younger and maintained its relative strength.

Offensively my team is pretty pedestrian. Yet IDP wise, I do not have any defensive studs, but I have players that average between 10 and 20 fantasy points in each and every lineup slot. I am constantly making waiver moves to eliminate non-performing players and finding up and coming replacements.

In the FFWebmasters league I compete in a 14-team, non-PPR experts league. In 2011 I won the championship and have been the #6 team (in playoffs), or #7 team a few times since. One Fantasy Sharks team is the #1 seed this season and I am #6. I would have been seeded higher, but the other Sharks team beat me by an 84.36-83.94 margin. I got really lucky and with the most convoluted tiebreaker formula I have ever seen, secured the #6 slot by .02 points and .03 points over the #7 and #8 teams.

Without PPR, the scoring is diminished, but Kirk Cousins and David Johnson have been golden for me. Like all leagues, you just have to adjust your playing plan to fit the unique scoring system.

Now I have two teams with a shot at the gold and a bonus weekend of following my teams. Hopefully the teams will play in Week 15 and 16, respectively, for the big W. The Week 14 games have started I cannot wait to see how it all plays out.

Playing to win with this week’s Couch Six Pack

1) This year being in the Sirius XM league it reaffirmed my feelings that a dynasty league with IDPs is the best way to play the game. It is not easy and in fact it is pretty complicated. The player pool more than doubles with at least 11 IDP positions on each team. Keep in mind that on the offensive side, five OL per team are not under consideration at all.

With there are all kinds of reports to show you how your players relate to all the other players as a whole. You can find fantasy point information as well as basic statistics. You can settle on waiver moves and for the most part, you can get the majority of those players you want to acquire.

On a cold night in February, while others are missing the game, you can be working on a game plan to build next year’s team. And if the spirit moves you, call him and make a trade, or even lay the groundwork for a later time.

2) The only problem with a dynasty league is when you let it slip quality wise for a year or two. Suddenly you find yourself with a lousy team, bad record and a great degree of difficulty in fixing the situation. A couple of years ago, I wanted to improve a team from mediocre to winning quality. We are talking about the dynasty league where I was a founding member in 1985.

After two off seasons of trading and finagling, I loaded up my roster with key players:

QB Cousins, Rivers

RB Rawls, Hightower, J. White, Yeldon, Smallwood

WR M. Thomas, W. Snead, T. Pryor, Rishard Matthews, T. Gabriel, T. Hill, T. Montgomery

TE  D. Walker

PK Lutz

DF Tampa Bay, Buffalo

I also have Laquon Treadwell and am not quite sure about him yet. He has no trade value right now and too much potential to just cut. My obvious course of action since we can only play two WRs (no flex) is to shift my WR strength to draft picks and/or RBs. Since Week 8, five of my WRs are in the top 18 scoring average points/game wise. In that same time span, Cousins, Walker and the Tampa Bay defense were also high among league leaders. Things are looking up for 2017.

3) Another thing I like about dynasty leagues is the trading. It brings the people in the league closer together. And that is what fantasy football is all about to me. Playing with the same guys and gals year after year develops a true spirit of camaraderie. To me a redraft league played on one of the major websites is kind of like playing solitaire on the computer.

Solitaire is kind of like playing a game, but you are competing with an inanimate object. When you win or lose, the opponent is only a machine, not a human with an ego or personality of any kind. How satisfying is that? Fantasy football on Yahoo, ESPN, NFL.COM, or other game platforms like that is so impersonal.

Getting into a league is like standing in line, getting sorted into 12’s and being shuffled to a league page. There is no consideration given as to the expertise of the players, their dedication to continue to play through the end of the season, no matter what, or whether the league will really last at all. To be safe you sign up for several. If you are a knowledgeable player, you can get a group to all join one league.

The one problem remaining is that with the free leagues it is hard to access information. What have your players done recently? Which athletes with relatively small stats have been coming on red hot the last couple weeks?

4) The redraft league features of are spectacular. You have options for both one-time and spread over time drafts. You have easy options to run an auction draft. You can fine tune the scoring and important features like weekly waivers to meet your needs. You have just about any statistical report available and readily available.

The Sirius XM and FFWebmasters leagues are played on the platform. With a cost of $5-6/participant it is a SUPER value. Check it out for 2017. It is where the serious players go to setup their leagues. They have been around forever and their customer service is among the best I have ever seen.

5) If I had to list out my biggest thrills of the year it would be a long list, but here are the Top 3:

  • The Tyreek Hill punt return Thursday night. It was just so overwhelming to see a player you had picked up on waivers a few weeks ago look so special. The way he ran past defenders like they were frozen in time took me back about 50 years or so to Gale Sayers as a rookie. He used to run like he was flying above the ground. I just pray that Hill does not suffer a debilitating injury like Sayers did early in his career.
  • Picking up the Tampa Bay defense as a throw-in on a trade and having them blossom into being one of the top defenses over the last several weeks. After the draft, we cannot change defenses in this league other than through trades. We have 24 player rosters and player replacements are for released player and IR replacements only. I gave up the Oakland defense and much more to get a RB I wanted and I got what looked like a throw away defense. Sometimes garbage comes out smelling like roses.
  • Seeing my team improve over the course of the season after a strong draft, some shrewd trading and using our waiver rules as often as I could. In many cases I traded players or draft picks for the rights to make those waiver moves.

6) The message I am giving you this week is to be involved to get the most out of fantasy football. I understand that many of you have now concluded your season. And this may be that last article of mine you read until 2017. I am gearing this to include everyone. Next week we will focus 100% on the playoffs.

Don’t be afraid to try new things fantasy football-wise. There are many flavors besides the vanilla-like re-drafter. Besides dynasty as I talk about here, there are IDPs, auction, salary cap and combinations of everything. Some leagues play two teams each week. Others play rotisserie style disdaining head-to-head scoring.

Fantasy football is a great game for anyone who loves football, is adept with numbers and loves to develop strategies and outwit opponents. Men, women and children alike all enjoy it. It is a game where families and friends can find common ground to have a great time together for several months a year.

So, for those of you getting off the fantasy football train at this Week 14 stop, thank you for reading Couch Tomatoes this season. For those who are staying aboard for the championship run, we will see you next week. Good luck with your games this week. Let me know how you do.

When we play fantasy football we are so busy with our teams that we forget about the football game as a whole. Be sure to remember that the answers to our fantasy football questions can usually be found within the numbers. And if all else fails, feel free to ask me. You can reach me at All fantasy football questions are welcome.

Good luck! Have fun!

About Mike Nease

Mike Nease is a member of the FSWA and has been playing the game since 1985, while also writing about it since 2001. Over the years he has sampled about all the playing scenarios that fantasy football offers, including re-drafter, keeper, dynasty, auction, IDP and salary cap leagues. He and his wife Bonnie reside in West Chicago, IL You can contact Mike at anytime and during the football season follow him @mikeinsights.