The NFL is unlike any of the other major sports in America. Its season is only 17 weeks long and teams are only guaranteed to play a total of 16 games. Counting the 4 playoff weeks and the week for the Pro Bowl, that means we as fantasy “experts” have 30 weeks of offseason to evaluate teams by their players, their coaching staff, and their management, to determine what we foresee happening during the season. All that time and effort is placed into writing articles, drumming up statistics, filling out Excel docs, and circulating patterns, in order for us to create a product that is sent out into the world saying, “here is how we expect things to go”. Almost all of that is thrown away within the first month of the season and just about all of it has been forgotten by week 9. With the conclusion of week 8, we are now just about half way through the NFL season and everything we thought we knew in August has been turned around, flipped on its head, and thrown out the proverbial window.
With that in mind, I like to reflect on the thoughts I had pre-season for many players and NFL teams, because I think it’s important to not lose sight of what I thought I knew. Many times players or teams can simply be playing above or below their pay grade due to simple luck, injuries, off-field issues, or a number of other factors. The fact of the matter is that what I thought I knew might just be completely wrong, or maybe it was right, and it just hasn’t worked out that way to this point. The nature of football is a factor into this as well; football games are run by a clock which means that sometimes the team that wins the game simply had the ball last (as is the case with the NHL and NBA as well). The fact that on any given play one man out of 22 can alter the entire course of the game without having any fantasy relevance to it (Pass Interference anyone?) is something that simply cannot be accounted for, but it happens none-the-less. Any fantasy expert will tell you that the NFL is very difficult to predict because anything can happen on any given Sunday; this is why we should not forget what we spent so long trying to determine during the offseason. We should use that to predict how each team may evaluate themselves and adjust their game plan as we move toward the 2nd half of the season.
For this article series I will have all 32 teams listed by division, and by their record within each division. Each team’s overall offensive and defensive rankings for points per game (PPG) and yards per game (YPG) will be listed with how surprising those rankings are or are not to me based on what I thought before the season began. Individual players will be listed whom I feel have produced in a way unlike what I had expected, whether it be in a positive or negative light. Finally, I will illustrate how I think that team will continue to play moving forward and if they are or are not destined to make the playoffs. The last portion of this series will be a way-too-soon playoff picture which will detail the teams I think will be invited to the big dance at the end of the season. Hopefully everyone can understand the importance of not only looking ahead, but also reflecting back to help better formulate an opinion of what may lie ahead as the season comes to a close. Links to each divisional article are below for your convenience. Thank you as always for reading and I wish everyone the best of luck in the upcoming fantasy playoffs!
*Offensive and defensive rankings were products of the Elias Sports Bureau. These totals were found on Monday 10/30/17 prior to the start of the Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs game. The results of that game were not included in these totals. Individual player rankings were based on one of my fantasy leagues which scores as: 0.5 PPR, 4 point passing TD, bonuses for long TDs, and bonuses for 100/200 rushing and receiving and 300/400 yard passing games.