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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Michael F. Florio’s 2021 fantasy football lessons learned

Every year once the fantasy football season ends, the fantasy community pivots to looking ahead right away. If you are on Twitter, you have probably already seen many 2022 takes, rankings and a whole lot of dynasty chatter. Its great that the community is invested year-round, but before we dive fully into next season, it is valuable to look back. Perhaps the most important thing to do after the season is to look back and see what we can learn from the past season. This allows us to both learn what we did right and wrong in the previous season, but it also allows to pick up on trends that can help us draft better next season.

Situation/Opportunity > Talent

I am borrowing this one from Marcas Grant, who discussed it on the NFL Fantasy podcast. But this is something that we have seen come up in the past, it’s just always easy to convince ourselves that it’ll be different this time around. I made this mistake myself this season with Jerry Jeudy. I believed in Jeudy’s talent and thought he would take over as the top option in the Broncos’ passing game. I thought those two things together would lead to a breakout season. In games Jeudy played this season, he did lead the Broncos with an 18 percent target share. So, we know the former first-round pick is a talented receiver and the thinking that he would take over as their top receiving option was correct, but the situation and opportunity was not one conducive to a breakout season. An 18 percent target share on Denver, a team that threw 56 percent of the time, the 11th-fewest in football, equated to just 5.6 targets per game. Pair that with the fact that his QB for most of the season was Teddy Bridgewater, who averaged eight air yards per attempt, which ranked in the middle of the league. The lack of passing paired with the lack of downfield throwing made a breakout season highly unlikely, as Jeudy would have had to either be super efficient after the catch and in the red zone, or he would have had to be toward the top in the league in target share to live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him. This was a miss on my part for believing Jeudy’s talent would lead to a breakout season. While part of the equation was there, the situation he was in was hindering a breakout. Now, if the Broncos upgrade their QB this season, then we can buy back in on Jeudy, whose talent we already believe in.

D.J. Moore has been the face of this lesson for the past couple of seasons. Moore is a superbly talented receiver who every year people predict will break out and take the step to be a fantasy WR1. And yet, every year he finishes outside the top-15 fantasy WRs. He has finished outside the top 25 in fantasy PPG the past two seasons. It is not about Moore and his talent; it is more that he is on an offense built around the running back and has played with below-average QBs. Not to pick on these two players – there are many examples of this each year. Javonte Williams is another example, who we thought would break out, but was limited due to Melvin Gordon‘s presence. Identifying talent is only part of the battle and in redraft, you can argue that situation and opportunity matters even more than talent. You can take a bet on talent in dynasty, as it tends to win out, but in just one season, it can make a player highly overrated. It’s always great to believe in a player talent, but understand that it is just a piece of the puzzle. You must dissect the situation around the player, as well. When both things seem favorable, a breakout is likely on the horizon.

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