Michael F. Florio’s 2021 fantasy football lessons learned

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Every year, once the fantasy football season is over, the fantasy community looks to the future right away. If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen plenty of 2022 takes, leaderboards, and plenty of dynasty chatter. It’s great to have the community invested all year round, but before we fully dive into next season, it’s worth looking back. Perhaps the most important thing to do after the season is to look back and see what we can learn from last season. It allows us to both learn what we did right and wrong in the previous season, but it also allows us to pick up trends that can help us write better next season.

Situation/Opportunity > Talent

I’m borrowing this one from Marcas Grant, who discussed it on the NFL Fantasy Podcast. But it’s something we’ve seen happen in the past, it’s always easy to convince yourself that it will be different this time around. I made that mistake myself this season with Jerry Jeudy. I believed in Jeudy’s talent and thought he would take over as the best option in the Broncos’ passing game. I thought those two things together would lead to a breakout season. In games Jeudy has played this season, he has led the Broncos with an 18% target share. So we know the former first-round pick is a talented receiver and the idea that he would take over as the best receiving option was correct, but the situation and the opportunity were not conducive to a season in small groups. An 18% target share on Denver, a team that has thrown 56% of the time, 11th-fewest in football, equates to just 5.6 targets per game. Couple that with the fact that his QB for most of the season was Teddy Bridgewater, who averaged eight aerial yards per attempt, which ranked in the middle of the league. The lack of passing coupled with the lack of down throws made a breakout season highly unlikely, as Jeudy should have either been super efficient after the catch and in the red zone, or he should have been near the top of the league. in target share to live up to the high expectations placed on him. It was a mistake on my part to believe Jeudy’s talent would lead to an exceptional season. While part of the equation was there, the situation he found himself in precluded an escape. Now, if the Broncos improve their QB this season, then we can buy Jeudy, whose talent we already believe.

DJ Moore has been the face of that lesson for the past two seasons. Moore is an extremely talented receiver who every year predicts that people will break out and take the leap to become a fantasy WR1. And yet, every year, he finishes outside the top 15 fantasy WRs. It has finished outside the PPG Fantasy top 25 for the past two seasons. It’s not about Moore and his talent; it’s more that he’s on an offense built around the running back and has played with below-average QBs. Don’t pick on these two players – there are plenty of examples of this every year. Javonte Williams is another example, which we thought would break out, but was limited due to the presence of Melvin Gordon. Identifying talent is only part of the battle and by rephrasing, you can say that situation and opportunity matter even more than talent. You can bet on talent in dynasty because it tends to win, but in a single season it can make a player very overrated. It’s always good to believe in a player’s talent, but understand that it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You also need to dissect the situation around the player. When both things look favorable, a breakout is likely on the horizon.

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