There is no question that fantasy football is fun, but frustrating at the same time. I can’t even tell you how many times I have drafted a team that I felt great about, just to watch it burn in a desperate act of despair. But what is the truth about fantasy football heading into 2023?
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The Truth About Fantasy Football
Before we get into breaking this down, there are a few questions that the internet is riddled with, so let’s answer those first.
Is Fantasy Football a Skill or Luck?
I love this question because it reminds me a lot of the questions surrounding poker during my 15 years entrenched in the game. The answer is almost identical too.
The simple answer is that both do play a large part. But like in poker, if you play it right, you will come out ahead more often than not.
We can’t control injuries. We can’t control bad coaching, lack of usage, or the human element that players deal with. It is almost impossible to know when a player is going to have an unusually bad or good year. See Russell Wilson‘s 2022 season for a perfect example of this.
You can however put yourself in a better position than your competition by having extensive knowledge (skill) in regard to players, teams, and your league settings.
What Should You Not Do In Fantasy Football?
Play Above Your Means
Let’s just get this out of the way right off the bat. You should never use money that you can’t afford to lose. I don’t think I need to go to deep, but each person should set a budget and stick to it. Enough of the lecture, moving on.
Ignore Personal Biases
The next thing that I see from people, is a lack of honesty with themselves. We all struggle with it. Did we just take that player from our favorite team because they are actually worthy of the pick, or are our fan biases playing a factor?
I do believe in getting your favorite players, but the truth is, winning is more fun (at least to me), than rooting for any specific players. The main point is, to be honest with yourself about those biases that you absolutely have. We all do. Look at other viewpoints objectively and see if you are missing key information that will put you in a better spot to succeed.
Act To Quickly And/Or Harshly
We have all seen a fantasy manager drop a player after 2-3 unexpected bad weeks or trade for a player that has had 2-3 unexpected good weeks. I once saw someone trade Julio Jones for Kelvin Benjamin after Benjamin started the season as WR1 after two weeks in a dynasty league.
That trade obviously backfired badly, but bad trades & drops happen every year because people overreact. It is paramount that you keep a level head and don’t react too quickly or too harshly about any players.
What Others Won’t Tell You About The Truth of Fantasy Football
There is a very strong point I try to make to the team at RotoHeat all the time and I believe it absolutely encompasses the truth about fantasy football.
We DON’T KNOW Half of What We THINK We Know
Let’s get really honest for a second. It doesn’t matter how much you study or how many numbers you crunch. While it will absolutely give you an edge in your leagues, no amount of information will allow us to correctly predict a large enough number of player outcomes.
Wide Receiver ADP vs. Finish
Seven of the top 12 wide receivers in ADP finished inside the top 12 at the position. But on those 12, there was an average drop from ADP to season finish rank at the position of -7.83. Half of the top 12 finished worse than their ADP at the position and 4 of the wide receivers to finish in the top 12 were drafted in the 5th round or later.
No top 12 WR was taken outside the top 100 players overall, with Christian Kirk finishing as the WR12 after being drafted 100th overall. DeVonta Smith was the 2nd latest player drafted at 93rd overall and he finished as the WR9.
Running Back ADP vs. Finish
Running Backs were actually a bit easier to predict at the top of the drafts in 2022. Out of the top 12 in ADP, there were eight RBs that finished in the top 12. Notable misses were Jonathan Taylor who was #1 and finished #33. Najee Harris who was taken 6th overall and finished #14. Alvin Kamara #8 overall with a finish of #16 and D’Andre Swift was taken 9th overall and he finished as RB21.
The average drop at RB was -4.5 spots in ADP vs. Finish Rank. Josh Jacobs (RB20 to RB3), Rhamondre Stevenson (RB36 to RB7), Tony Pollard (RB33 to RB8) were the big jumpers as Leonard Fournette moved from RB13 to RB12.
So through the two most popular positions, exactly zero of the top 12 in each were taken outside the top 100. That gives us an idea of just how important the first 8-9 rounds are in your startup draft.
WR1 & RB1 Both Suffer Injuries
The truth about fantasy football heading into the 2022 season, was that Jonathan Taylor and Cooper Kupp were the consensus #1 picks at their positions, with JT pretty much the consensus 1.01 overall.
Their seasons, prior to injuries, were vastly different. Jonathan Taylor was struggling to the tune of only 12.2 PPR points per game. That is less than Miles Sanders (12.8), Jamaal Williams (13.3), Najee Harris (13.2), two Dallas Cowboy running backs (15.6 & 12.4), and rookies Breece Hall (16.4), Kenneth Walker (13.5), and undrafted rookie Dameon Pierce (12.8).
On the other hand, Cooper Kupp was living up to his draft capital averaging 22.4 PPR points per game, which lead all running backs and wide receivers.
Big Jumpers in ADP to Finishes
When looking at the top 24 WR finishes, only one of those players was drafted outside the top 100 players. That was Garrett Wilson who was drafted 134th overall.
At running back we see three in the top 24 that came outside the top 100 players. Those are Jamaal Williams (167), Kenneth Walker III (110), and Jerick McKinnon (224).
To put this into perspective, 41 wide receivers and 36 running backs were taken inside the top 100 players. 8 of the top 36 WRs and 9 RBs came from outside the top 100 players.
Very few people saw the likes of Jerick McKinnon, Tyler Allgeier, Jeff Wilson Jr., Latavius Murray, and Samaje Perine being viable fantasy pieces as none were drafted inside the top 15 rounds and they averaged an ADP north of 230 with Murray not even being drafted.
It is just a reminder that a lot of shit is going to happen that we just can’t predict.
Wrapping Up The Truth About Fantasy Football
Fantasy football can be a stressful hobby, but for me personally, keeping all of this in perspective is the key to continuing to have fun and enjoying this game we play. Top picks are going to underachieve, get hurt, or even a combination of both. Players we would have never considered are going to step up and surprise the entire industry.
In one of my leagues, I went into week 14 as the top-scoring team but finished 9th in the standings. I faced the top-scoring team on the week in 6/14 weeks. That is just the bad luck aspect of fantasy football.
But the #1 Truth About Fantasy Football is that I am going to be wrong. You are going to be wrong. Every analyst on the internet is going to be wrong.
The hard question is can you be right more than you are wrong?