Staggering to the guillotine

September 27, 2018 - 11:20 am
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To say I didn't need one more fantasy-football league this year is like saying Joey Chestnut right after the hot-dog eating contest doesn't need a bite to hold him over. I'm flailing over here. To borrow from The West Wing the water isn't over my head, it's just at my head. I committed to 15 leagues -- it's 20 or more if I include best-ball leagues, I don't even know the exact number -- and if you're going to play, you've got to give a good effort. This is, in part, an experiment. If I go halfway on waivers and pursuing trades, I'm not really testing how many leagues I can actually lift.

This is my first year playing in nearly as many, and my first year playing different formats. It began in the spring when I decided to start a dynasty (keeper) league. Now I'm in three. This variance in format helps keep it interesting -- and there is variance in strategy within those leagues alone. One dynasty league I'm in requires two starting quarterbacks each week, and only three weeks into the season there has been plenty of turbulence. With an injured Marcus Mariota and only backup/rookie quarterbacks on my bench, I traded for Blaine Gabbert, which pretty much backfired (as you might expect). If you own Jimmy Garoppolo in your league it probably wasn't much to go replace him on waivers (Flacco, Tannehill, Mayfield, etc.); in this league not only were those quarterbacks owned, so even was C.J. Beathard, Garoppolo's backup in San Francisco. There are an amazing 50 quarterbacks on this league's 12 rosters so if you lose yours and don't have a working backup, good luck.

One format I hadn't tried but kept thinking about is called "guillotine", created by a well-known fantasy expert named Paul Charchian. In this format there are no head-to-head matchups, only total points. The last-place team each week is eliminated from the league, with all his or her players moving to the waiver wire. Each week the scores reset, and you bid blind on available players. Blind bidding exists in other formats, although in this one as the season goes along most of the top players in football will become available. In the end one winner stands alone and takes all the money.

Drowning as I am in all these leagues, I just had to try this one.

We drafted Wednesday night.

Here are a few observations:

** I used rankings from Week 4 forward when drafting my team. Certain running backs who were first-round picks in August were, in my mind, borderline now. This goes for David Johnson, Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, and of course Le'Veon Bell. (Bell was drafted in Round 8.)

One player certainly deserving of first-round status is Christian McCaffrey, but there's one problem: He's on bye this week. With the 5th pick I would have taken McCaffrey if Carolina were playing this week, but I passed because I thought he would make it that much harder for me to put a surviving lineup in this week. Instead, I took Antonio Brown. (McCaffrey went 9th -- to the same guy who later took Bell, by the way. That'll be interesting.)

** I went over and over whether pushing quarterbacks up in this draft was worth doing. Again, the most important thing is to not finish last in any given week. Almost all running backs, wide receivers and tight ends are capable of dud weeks. Johnson, Hunt, Keenan Allen, Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce ... these are a few stars who in the first three weeks of the season have produced at least one dud game. These are guys you're drafting in the first few rounds, so I thought, is the high-end quarterback worth doing to help protect yourself from these duds?

In one sense that makes sense. In another, just like at other positions, how do you know which quarterback that would be?

I decided to take the chance on Patrick Mahomes in Round 3, the first quarterback to be drafted Wednesday night. I don't need him to sustain his current insane pace, just come close to it. If you get 25-30 points from your quarterback I don't think you have much chance of finishing last in a given week.

** Once into the middle rounds I drafted specifically for this week's games. Giovani Bernard has a great matchup and should see heavy usage for Cincinnati, because of Joe Mixon's knee injury. I picked Bernard in Round 5, way sooner than what his season-long projections called for. The thinking being, survive this week and maybe next, then go grab a high-end running back on waivers, someone whose team has been cut already. I'm sure that strategy is shared by some or most of my competitors, however.

That leads us to the upcoming waiver periods, and honestly, I don't have much idea what that will hold. If Todd Gurley's team gets guillotined this week, is someone spending half his budget on Gurley next week? How about if it happens with Mike Evans. I love Evans and would want to bid big, but Tampa Bay is on bye in Week 5 ... so what do you do?

For as many leagues as I'm in, this kind of strategy intrigues and excites me. It might be all the strength I have left, but I'm going in.

***

My draft (14 teams, PPR):

1. Antonio Brown

2. Jarvis Landry

3. Patrick Mahomes

4. Marshawn Lynch

5. Giovani Bernard

6. Sammy Watkins

7. Adrian Peterson

8. Jared Cook

9. Jordan Reed

10. Stephen Gostkowski

11. Jamaal Williams

12. Jordan Wilkins

13. Taywan Taylor

14. Dallas D/ST

15. Taylor Gabriel

16. Dallas Goedert

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