By Steven Van Tassell (@SteveVT33)
For my first off-season article for 2022, I wanted to look back at some of the predictions and recommendations that I made during the 2021 season and see how they did. This is not an exhaustive look at all 136 of the Starting lineup and Bench recommendations from the weekly preview article (4 Start and 4 Bench for all 17 weeks), but a look at some of the best, aka Victory Laps, and worst, aka Walks of Shame, of the past Dynasty Owner season. We will look at both full-season predictions from pre-season articles and videos as well as a few select weekly Starting lineup and Bench recommendations.
In case some of you aren’t familiar with the slang terms, here’s what we are talking about.
Victory Lap: An occasion when someone is proud of something that they have done and invites other people to admire them.
Walk of Shame: The return trip home the morning after an unplanned sexual encounter, usually a one-night stand, wearing clothing from the previous evening. It is also sometimes used in more general, non-sexual senses for when someone has to face the public after an embarrassing moment.
All stats cited are based on the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system as outlined in the updated Dynasty Owner Constitution. Standard Dynasty Owner scoring gives you .1 points for every yard rushing or receiving, .1 point for every 2 yards passing, 1 point per reception, 6 points for a rushing, receiving or passing touchdown and 2 points for a successful 2-point conversion (rushing, receiving, or passing). Interceptions or fumbles lost cost you 3 points, while a fumble that is recovered by the player’s team is a loss of only 1 point. Bonus points are available for 100-199 yards rushing (2 points), 200 yards rushing or receiving (6 points), 300-399 yards passing (1 point) and 400 yards passing (4 points). There is also a 3 point bonus for clutch scoring, which is a score that results in a lead change in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime. Kickoff and punt return touchdowns are worth 6 points for the player and kickoff and punt returns are worth 1 point for every 40 yards.
For the purposes of this article, all statistics, ADP and Dynasty Owner rostered percentage statistics were current as of the evening of January 11th unless otherwise noted.
After my prediction to leave James Robinson on your Dynasty Owner Bench for Week 14, I took a well-deserved victory lap on Twitter and in the Week 14 recap article. It prompted me to do a full article to show some of the best (and worst) predictions or recommendations that I made during the 2021 Dynasty Owner season.
Here are two calls that I made in an article or on the Dynasty Owner livestream (Wednesday at 4 PM Eastern) which deserve repeating for a well-deserved victory lap.
Matthew Stafford (QB – LAR) – 2 years/$27 million – Top 5 QB in 2021
Background: On a Dynasty Owner livestream in mid-July, Tim asked me and Jay (@jaypounds) to pick our top 5 players at each position for the season. Go to around the 48 minute mark to hear all of the choices, but my #5 choice at QB was Matthew Stafford. Stafford had finished as the QB15 in 2020, was projected as the QB12 at the start of the 2021 season and was the 19th QB drafted, on average, in 2021 start-up drafts with an ADP of 117.6. More Dynasty Owners who drafted Stafford thought he would be their Bench QB than a Top 5 QB.
Recommendation Reasoning: I felt that the Rams would throw the ball a lot more with Stafford at QB than Jared Goff. Rams coach Sean McVay had traded for Stafford and wants to throw the ball all of the time. There was also the matter of the season-ending injury to RB Cam Akers. Stafford also would have much better WRs in Los Angeles with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods than he had in Detroit for most of his career.
What Happened in 2021: Stafford finished the entire season in a tie for QB5 with Aaron Rodgers. I realize Rodgers missed a full game and only played one half in Week 18, but a tie is a tie. Stafford had 445.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 17 games played (26.2 points per game). He was better during the Dynasty Owner regular season with an average of 28.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game. He only scored 46.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in the playoffs (15.6 points per game), so while he might not have won you a League Championship, he certainly helped your team make the playoffs.
Tyler Conklin (TE – MIN) – 1 year/$685,258 – Pick up as soon as possible
Background: In early September, I wrote an article entitled “Roster Turnover Craziness”. The idea was to find players who had a Dynasty Owner startup draft ADP of N/A at that point because they weren’t being drafted in enough leagues. Dynasty Owners were encouraged to use an extra roster space and bid on the player since they had a very cheap salary, were widely available and likely to help their Dynasty Owner team.
Recommendation Reasoning: At the time, Conklin was rostered in only 37.3% of Dynasty Owner leagues with a remaining contract of $685,258 for one year. Irv Smith Jr. had just gotten injured, and it was not clear when he would return. Conklin was TE53 for the 2020 season with only 43.4 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. However, Conklin had scored 36.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in the final four weeks of the 2020 season after moving up to be the #2 TE in Minnesota. Even though Minnesota had acquired Christopher Herndon in a trade from the Jets, it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for Conklin.
What Happened in 2021: Conklin finished as the TE16 for the season with 137.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 17 games played (8.1 points per game). For the 14-game Dynasty Owner regular season, he averaged 8.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game with five weeks of 10.0 or more Dynasty Owner fantasy points and only four weeks of 5.0 or fewer Dynasty Owner fantasy points. Conklin was a solid Bench TE for your Dynasty Owner team for minimal to no draft capital, or more likely just a $1 million Dynasty Dollar bid in the Free Agent Auction.
Walks of Shame
Here are two less than stellar calls that I made which I should be trying to forget and live down instead of repeating here.
Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND) – 3 years/$1,957,287 – Not Top 5 RB in 2021
Background: Back during the mid-July Livestream at around the 50 minute mark is where I make my Top 5 RB predictions. I said CMC immediately and then I had to think about it. After pausing, I ended up choosing Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara and David Montgomery to round out my Top 5 RB list.
Recommendation Reasoning: Honestly, no idea. I said something about him being great for Dynasty Owner with his salary, but no reasoning for thinking he’d finish outside the Top 5 RBs. Tim offered me a lifeline by suggesting Taylor as I struggled with a pick after CMC, but I rejected it.
What Happened in 2021: Taylor was the clear RB1 for the 2021 season. He scored 389.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 17 games played (22.9 points per game) and was the overall #11 player for the season. In the Dynasty Owner regular season, he averaged 24.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game. He was very consistent with 15 games of more than 10.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points and 14 straight from Week 4 to Week 18. The only pick of my Top 5 RBs who finished in the Top 10 was Alvin Kamara (RB9).
Kaden Smith (TE – NYG) – 2 years/$680,002 – Pick up as soon as possible
Background: Another suggestion for a player with a cheap salary who was widely available and seemed likely to help your Dynasty Owner team from the “Roster Turnover Craziness” article.
Recommendation Reasoning: Smith was only rostered in 30.0% of Dynasty Owner leagues at the time with top Giants TE Evan Engram nursing a calf injury and #2 TE Kyle Rudolph just activated off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Smith seemed likely to see a lot of work in Week 1 and possibly beyond. Rudolph’s contract of 2 years/$6 million per year was too high to roster, so Smith seemed like a much more affordable option.
What Happened in 2021: Smith played in the first nine games of the season for the Giants and recorded a grand total of 6.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (3 receptions for 33 receiving yards). He didn’t have a reception after Week 3. He was on the field about half of the time in Weeks 1 and 2 with Engram out, wasn’t targeted in Week 1 and had two targets for two receptions and 24 receiving yards (4.4 Dynasty Owner fantasy points) in Week 2. He didn’t help any Dynasty Owner teams at all, not even at the beginning of the season when he could have made an impact.
Weekly Starter and Bench Recommendation Highlights
I also wanted to highlight some of the best and worst of my weekly Starting lineup and Bench recommendations. Every week during the Dynasty Owner season, I chose one player per position (QB, RB, WR, TE) who should be in your Starting lineup, even though most Dynasty Owners will have them on their Bench or Practice Squad, and one who should be on your Bench, even though most Dynasty Owners will use them as a Starter.
While each recommendation was rated as Good, Just Ok, or Bad, some of the Good recommendations were really great. Let’s review four of the best in chronological order:
Week 1 Bench – Mike Gesicki (TE – MIA)
Background: Gesicki came into Week 1 of the 2021 season on the heels of a 2020 season in which he finished as the TE7. His 2021 start-up draft ADP was 100.7, making him the tenth TE off the board on average. He was expected to be a reliable receiving option for Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa once again.
Recommendation Reasoning: The Dolphins were facing the New England Patriots in Week 1 and Gesicki’s track record against the Patriots wasn’t great. He had only scored 26.4 Dynasty Owner fantasy points against them in five career games (5.3 points per game on average) with just a single TD. In the 2020 season opener against New England, he had three receptions for 30 yards to account for 6.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. It seemed that Bill Belichick had his number, so using another TE and leaving Gesicki on the Bench was advisable.
What Happened That Week: Gesicki ended up with a Blutarsky (0.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points) and was only targeted three times. He had another Blutarsky in Week 10 against Baltimore, but was the overall TE8 for the 2021 season. Gesicki wasn’t the only Week 1 Good recommendation as the other three Bench recommendations (Justin Herbert, Saquon Barkley, and Allen Robinson) were also Good.
Week 7 Bench – Sam Darnold (QB – CAR)
Background: As the new Starting QB for Carolina, Darnold had started the year off playing well and averaged 28.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game through the first four weeks. He had cooled off, but was still QB14 coming into Week 7 and with four of the top QBs out, Dynasty Owners with Darnold may have needed to have him in their Starting lineup against the Giants in New York.
Recommendation Reasoning: He’s Sam Darnold. Rostering him isn’t a good idea and starting him is just a terrible idea in general. In addition, the trip back to New York was worrisome along with the decline in his play in Weeks 5 and 6. The Giants were playing decently at that point in the season despite their 1-5 record, while the Panthers were on a three-game losing streak.
What Happened That Week: Darnold ended up getting benched in the fourth quarter for Phillip Walker as Carolina only scored three points in the game. Darnold had only 2.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (111 passing yards, 1 INT). The Panthers’ record fell to 3-4 on their way to a 5-12 finish. Darnold suffered a concussion in their next game against Atlanta, but played the following week against New England and had negative Dynasty Owner fantasy points (-0.5 points). He suffered a shoulder injury in that game and was placed on Injured Reserve. He returned for the final three games, but finished as the QB29 in Dynasty Owner for the season.
Week 14 Bench – James Robinson (RB – JAC)
Background: Urban Meyer was still the Jaguars head coach at this point, but his hold on the job was tenuous at best. James Robinson had gotten benched by Meyer in Week 13 against the Rams after a fumble. After the game, Meyer tried to blame the RB coach and during the week, QB Trevor Lawrence called Robinson one of the Jaguars’ best players and said he needed to be in the game. Meyer said all of the right things in response to criticism about his usage of Robinson in the days prior to the Jaguars’ Week 14 game.
Recommendation Reasoning: No trust in Urban Meyer’s words was the main reason for recommending that Dynasty Owners put Robinson on their Bench. As I wrote then,
“While Meyer is saying the right things in response to criticism about his usage of Robinson, I’m not confident that he will actually do the right thing…”
What Happened That Week: Robinson had six rushing attempts for four yards (0.4 Dynasty Owner fantasy points). He was also not targeted in the passing game despite being on the field for 35 of the Jaguars’ 55 offensive plays. The Jaguars had four rushing attempts in the first half compared to 15 passing attempts despite only being behind 10-0. The ratio didn’t improve at the start of the second half either as Meyer totally didn’t do what he said he would. Meyer was fired after the Week 14 game, but Robinson ended up suffering a season-ended Achilles injury early in Week 16.
Week 16 (Playoff Semi-Finals) Start – Justin Jackson (RB – LAC)
Background: Austin Ekeler was on the COVID-19 reserve list and said it was “not looking good” for him to play in Week 16. Jackson had performed well in a reserve role the previous week, but had only scored 40.9 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 11 games played (3.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game) through Week 15.
Recommendation Reasoning: Jackson had played very well in Week 15 against Kansas City with 13 carries for 86 yards plus one reception for 13 receiving yards (10.9 Dynasty Owner fantasy points). He was facing the Houston Texans who were allowing 145.0 rushing yards per game and had given up almost 24.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game to lead RBs in the previous three weeks.
What Happened That Week: Jackson ended up as the Dynasty Owner Value Player of the Week and had the most points by a RB for the week with 33.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (64 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, 8 receptions, 98 receiving yards, 1 fumble lost). With his $570,000 salary and 33.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points, Jackson ended up as the best weekly value over the entire season at a cost of $17,169 per point.
Weekly Starter and Bench Recommendation Lowlights
Some recommendations were just awful, terrible, horrendous and should never have been made. Here are four of the worst Bad recommendations:
Week 3 Bench – Tom Brady (QB – TB)
Background: It was Week 3 of the NFL season and the G.O.A.T. and Tampa Bay had a meeting looming in Week 4 against the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football in New England. Questions about his first ever game against Bill Belichick and the Patriots were starting to come and news stories with comments from his trainer and Dad had already started to be published.
Recommendation Reasoning: Besides the distraction of the game against New England, Tampa Bay was playing the Rams. The Rams were projected to have a really good defense and had already won their first two games of the year. In Week 11 of 2021, the Rams held Brady to only 16.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points.
What Happened That Week: The G.O.A.T. did what the G.O.A.T. does and scored 38.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (432 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 14 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 1 fumble). He was a Top 5 QB for the week and took over as the #1 overall player in Dynasty Owner. It was my first week without a Good Bench recommendation for the season. Brady ended up playing not so great the following week against New England with only 13.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points, but ended the 2021 season with the most Dynasty Owner fantasy points.
Week 4 Starter – Tommy Tremble (TE – CAR)
Background: The Carolina Panthers started the season with three straight wins and QB Sam Darnold was playing well. Christian McCaffrey (CMC) had been great in the first two weeks, but got hurt in Week 3. However, CMC was only expected to miss a few weeks. Carolina had just traded starting TE Dan Arnold to Jacksonville for CB C.J. Henderson as a move to get more secondary depth after an injury and in response to their 3-0 start. Tremble was expected to move into Arnold’s role as the top pass catching TE in Carolina and had scored 10.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points with a rushing TD in Week 3.
Recommendation Reasoning: Somebody was going to have to replace Arnold in the passing game and the other Panthers TE Ian Thomas had played a lot in the first three weeks, but only been targeted four times. Plus, the McCaffrey injury seemingly opened up more opportunities for Tremble as well. The Panthers were playing Dallas in Week 4 and the Cowboys had allowed 26 targets to TEs over the first three weeks.
What Happened That Week: Tremble ended up being targeted just once and ended up with a Blutarsky (0.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points) for the game, which Carolina lost. Ironically, Thomas had one of his best games of the season with 4.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (3 receptions for 15 receiving yards). The 10.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points that Tremble scored in Week 3 was his high for the season and he only scored one more TD. He ended the season with 55.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 16 games played (3.5 points per game).
Week 12 Bench – Leonard Fournette (RB – TB)
Background: Fournette and the Buccaneers were in Indianapolis to face the Colts in Week 12. Indianapolis had just crushed Buffalo 41-15 in Buffalo for their third win in a row and moved to 6-5 on the season. Fournette hadn’t scored a TD since Week 7 against Chicago and had rushed for a total of 82 yards in his past two games. Ronald Jones had gotten almost as many rushing yards as Fournette the previous week (35 for Fournette vs 33 for Jones) and Jones had a rushing TD as well. Fournette was still the overall RB12, so Dynasty Owners were likely to have him as a Starter.
Recommendation Reasoning: The Colts were a middle of the pack rushing defense, but had held Derrick Henry to below average games both times they played Tennessee and only allowed 5 rushing TDs to RBs in 11 games. The Colts pass defense had allowed 23 TDs to non-WRs in those 11 games and it was expected that Tom Brady would attack the Colts through the air and Fournette would have a limited amount of touches.
What Happened That Week: Fournette was the Dynasty Owner Player of the Week with the first 4 TD game of his NFL career, his first 100 yard rushing game of the 2021 season and a week high 49.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (100 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs, 7 receptions, 31 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD). His final TD was a clutch scoring event, the first one of his career.
Week 13 Start – Boston Scott (RB – PHI)
Background: The Eagles started running the ball more after a Week 3 game against Dallas in which their RBs only had a total of three carries followed by a Week 4 game against Kansas City with just 10 carries by RBs. After four weeks, the Eagles were 24th in rushing play percentage. However, by Week 13, they had moved all the way up to the top spot. Boston Scott was expected to be the lead RB in Week 13 as Jordan Howard was out and Miles Sanders had gotten injured in Week 12.
Recommendation Reasoning: The Eagles were facing the Jets who were the worst run defense in the NFL. Miles Sanders was the top Eagles RB, but had been hurt in Week 12 and eclipsed by Scott who had more carries, yards, Dynasty Owner fantasy points and the Eagles only TD in the game. Scott and Sanders had split time with Jordan Howard in Week 11, but Howard was out again. Even though Scott had an illness and didn’t practice much during the week, he was expected to play and at worst, share time with Sanders in the Eagles backfield.
What Happened That Week: Scott was indeed active, but only played three snaps on offense with zero touches. He ended up returning one kickoff for 13 return yards (0.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points). Miles Sanders was the star RB for Philadelphia that week and had 19.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (120 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 22 receiving yards).
Everyone has plenty of good and bad calls over the course of a NFL season. These were just some of my favorites, like Stafford as a Top 5 QB and James Robinson as a Bench option in Week 14, and a few of the most cringeworthy ones. How else can you describe not having Jonathan Taylor as a Top 5 RB this year, or recommending the people sit the G.O.A.T. on their Dynasty Owner Bench?
In every Dynasty Owner draft, you can find players who were taken before another player who did much better or worse. Take a look back at your Dynasty Owner start-up draft and you’ll find plenty of them, including ones that you made yourself. There are 17 weeks in the Dynasty Owner season, and nobody picks the correct players for their Starting lineup and Bench every week. That’s why Dynasty Owner got rid of the Coach’s Bonus – only a few people were earning it each week.
Making the predictions and recommendations is a large part of the fun of fantasy sports in general, and Dynasty Owner in particular. At least it is for me and looking back is a fun way to transition to the Dynasty Owner off-season.
The weekly Dynasty Owner livestream will start next week on Wednesdays at 4 PM (Eastern) with myself, Tim Peffer and hopefully plenty of guests. Set the timer on YouTube so you don’t miss it live, or make sure to watch it afterwards. Either way, don’t forget to smash the Like button. You can also listen wherever you get your podcasts.
Please read all of the off-season articles and videos from our Dynasty Owner team as well. On Tuesdays, I’ll talk about players, salaries and contracts to help new and returning Dynasty Owners navigate how to play our unique game. Jay Pounds will talk about rebuilding your Dynasty Owner roster on Wednesday. Nate Christian is back for 2022 and will do prospect previews every Thursday. Matt Morrison – The Jerk will do his series on all 32 NFL teams and their needs on Fridays.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!
Steven Van Tassell is the Head of Content for Dynasty Owner
Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner