As the 2018 Fantasy football season approaches, I thought I’d take the time to look back on an amazing 2017 season. My good friend, Jeff Dawson, and his two partners (Scott Kelly and Kevin Goodrich) had the dream year in the high-stakes season-long market while being a supporter of ScoutFantasySports.com. They had a total of $2,600 invested in one 14-team main event and three teams in a 12-team online format. In the end, this tandem of owners took home two leagues titles and two overall titles netting them over $195,000!
I’ve been playing in the high-stakes Fantasy baseball and football market for 15 years in 2018. My dream/goal each season is to win an overall title. I’ve finished in the top five four times in baseball, and I have three top tens in football (7th, 4th, and 3rd).
I’ll walk you through their successful season while adding my written content for ScoutFantasySports.com from last year that helped set up some winning decision making on draft day and possibly on the waiver wire. Here’s a look at two winning drafts by the EastCoastSportsInvestor owners:
Note: These drafts flip draft order at the end of the second round.
Brandin Cooks in the first round of the 14-team league was a push for these owners, but they are from the New England area. Cooks finished as the 13th ranked WR in PPR leagues after fading four of his last five games (4.2, 4.8, 16.0, 4.5, and 0.0 Fantasy points).
Antonio Brown is a great start to any team in most seasons. Despite missing almost three games, Brown was the second-highest scoring WR with 310.3 Fantasy points in PPR leagues.
Todd Gurley was a clear home run and a player targeted by me as well in the high-stakes drafts last summer. Jeff and company picked him up in both drafts at picks 2.3 and 2.10. Here’s a look at his player profile written by me in June:
Todd Gurley (RB) – From a touch perspective (321), Gurley had the fifth best opportunity in 2016. Unfortunately, he gained only 3.2 yards per rush with only two runs over 20 yards leading to a 50 percent drop in his success in 2015 (4.8 yards per rush) when he showcased much more explosiveness (12 rushes over 20 yards and five over 40 yards). The Rams did find ways to get Todd more involved in the passing game (43/327). His regression was tied to poor play by the offensive line and weakness in quarterback play. This new coaching staff and game plan will give Gurley a chance to shine again in 2017. The Rams improved the offensive in front of him, and Goff will be better in his second season. Todd has an excellent chance at 300+ rushes, and 50+ catches leading to 1,700+ yards and eight to ten TDs. His talent projects high upside, but it comes with better play by the team.
The lightbulb for the support of Gurley started to come on after the acquisition of Sammy Watkins in mid-August.
Gurley finished with 2,093 combined yards with 64 catches and 19 TDs to beat my projections easily. He was the top scoring RB in PPR leagues with 385.1 Fantasy points.
Going into 2017, no one was higher on DeAndre Hopkins in the Fantasy market than yours truly. The East Coast team knew this, and they game planned to draft him in the third round in every league. Here’s the player profile for Hopkins written at ScoutFantastSports.com in late May:
DeAndre Hopkins (WR) – It’s downright embarrassing to see the final stats (78/954/4 on 151 targets) of Hopkins in 2016. Teams doubled and triple team him all year leading to a decline in his catch rate (51.7 – 57.8 in 2015) with fade in his opportunity (a drop of 21.4 percent) and his big play ability (10 catches over 20 yards – 20 in 2014 and 19 in 2015). DeAndre only had two games with over 100 yards receiving (Week 2 – 7/113/1 and Week 17 – 7/123). He had double-digit targets in seven games compared to 13 games in 2015. One of the great lines from Good Will Hunting sums it up best here, “It’s not your fault… It’s not your fault”. Hopkins is an explosive talent, and Watson will make him shine again. His high-volume opportunity and big-play ability will return in 2017. He’s yet to miss a game in his 64-game career. Just based on durability, I would rather own his than Julio Jones. Excellent value with another 100+ catch season expected with 1,400+ yards and double-digit TDs, which adds up to a 300-point WR in PPR leagues.
Well, Hopkins fell short of my projections (96/1378/13), but he did sit out in Week 17 due to an injury, and the game had no value to the Texans.
In the fourth round in the 14-team league, they added the third player to lead his position in scoring in Travis Kelce. I was high on Kelce, but I drafted in a format where TEs scored more points leading to a higher draft value than I was willing to pay. Here’s his profile from ScoutFantasySports.com in 2017:
Travis Kelce (TE) – After two strong seasons (67/862/5 and 72/875/5), Kelce broke through with his first impact season. He caught 85 of his 117 targets for 1,125 yards and four TDs. Travis posted his first 100-yard game of the season in Week 7 (7/101/1). His game made a step forward starting in Week 11 when he posted four straight games with over 100 yards receiving (7/108, 8/101, 8/140, and 5/101) followed up with his sixth game of value in Week 16 (11/160/1). There is no disputing that Kelce is now the number one option in this offense in a similar way as Tony Gonzalez, but he needs to be more productive in TDs, which may come when the gunslinger takes over at quarterback. High floor (80/1000/5) with potential impact value in the championship rounds of the playoffs.
Kelce finished with 83 catches for 1,038 yards and eight TDs.
One of my biggest mistakes in the 2017 draft season was the evaluation of Martavis Bryant, which was the fourth-round pick in the 12-team league by the East Coast franchise. JuJu Smith-Schuster outperformed Bryant. Martavis finished as the 50th ranked WR with only three playable games (18.8, 14.1, and 15.9).
In the fifth round of the 12-team league, they lost Pierre Garcon in Week 8 after producing a nice start to the year (40/500/0).
Jeff may have heard me echoing in his ear with the selection of Marshawn Lynch. I thought he was a nice fit with Oakland, and that he would add scoring value. In the end, Lynch was the 25th ranked RB in PPR leagues last year with 151.3 Fantasy points while missing some time. His game was helpful over the second half of the year (20.3, 8.7, 20.0. 20.1, 13.4, 12.2, and 10.2). More of a steady piece to the puzzle than a difference maker, which is what they needed after nailing the previous three picks.
When looking at his draft board, there was a midfield of empty backs selected after his pick of Marshawn in the 14-team league – C.J. Anderson, Theo Reddick, Doug Martin, Derrick Henry, Bilal Powell, and Rob Kelley. Of this group of players, only Anderson finished with more points than Beast Mode throughout the season. Duke Johnson was the best back drafted after him in both formats, whom he added in the 12-team league.
In the 12-team format, his team looks far from a championship franchise. He whiffed at QB with Andrew Luck and Eli Manning while having bad rhythm in his decision making leading to missing on Alvin Kamara who was in the “must plan” in the 9th round over the last ten days of the draft season.
East Coast did hit on Cooper Kupp on both teams, which was a highlighted player in the ScoutFantasySports.com preseason research. Here’s his player profile written before Sammy Watkins signed:
Cooper Kupp (WR) – Based on his college resume (428/6464/73), Kupp looks like a star of stars. His game comes with exceptional route running with plus short area quickness, hands, and ball fakes. Cooper doesn’t have the flash and sleekness of the top WRs in the game, but he will get open while catching many balls thrown his way. In the open field, his speed isn’t enough to pull away from cornerbacks after the catch. Kupp plays with vision, which helps him after the catch. I’m seeing a Brandon Marshall type skill set with less size (6’2” and 204 lbs.), where controlling the first 15 yards off the line of scrimmage will be his calling card to success. Built to be a 100-catch receiver. His route running will be his ticket to an early starting job, but his release will dictate his upside. I have no doubt Cooper will know the playbook cold based on his career path and pedigree. Clear number one wide receiver in this offense in his rookie season with 70+ catches well within reach. The Rams won’t produce a high volume of passing TDs. I do expect Kupp to lead the team in this area as well. Undervalued WR in the early draft season with momentum expected as we approach the live drafts in Vegas. Viable WR4 with a chance at 200+ Fantasy points in PPR leagues. Think of him as the Pierre Garcon in this offense (McVay ran the offense in Washington in 2016).
Cooper finished with 62 catches for 869 yards and five TDs over 15 games. He averaged 13.4 Fantasy points over his last nine games, which was worthy of being a WR2 in 2017.
The only other common player was Dion Lewis. In the last set of rankings at ScoutFantasySports.com last September in PPR leagues, Lewis was rated as the 26th highest scoring RB while we had Mike Gillislee as the 4th back on the Patriots with a ranking of 64th.
Lewis finish 18th in RB scoring in PPR leagues with 171.7 Fantasy points, which was just below out projected number (183.25). Mike Gillislee placed 68th even after a great first two weeks (22.5 and 12.9 Fantasy points).
In essence, the East Coast owners came out of their 12-team draft with a stud lead back (Gurley) and the two top scoring WRs in the league (Hopkins and Brown) while Cooper Kupp developed into a serviceable WR3. Their best options on draft day at RBs finished 12th (Duke Johnson), 18th (Dion Lewis), and 25th (Marshawn Lynch). They whiffed at quarterback in the draft due to injuries (Luck had a lost season, and Manning lost his top two WRs). Hunter Henry was the 13th ranked TE as the end of the season in PPR leagues.
East Coast had three edge players to separate from the field, but there were still many holes to fill during the season. It hardly looks like a team that would win $100,000. The bridge to the playoffs came via success on the waiver wire. Here’s a look at their best moves of the year and why this team drove the ball over the goal line in Week 16.
After Week 1, East Coast made an $89 unopposed bid on Deshaun Watson after sensing Luck was going to be out longer than expected. Watson didn’t show much in his relief outing in his first game, but these owners placed their bet on Hopkins while also knowing my feeling on Watson coming into 2018. Here’s his preseason profile written last May at ScoutFantasySports.com:
Deshaun Watson (QB) – From a winning perspective and overall dynamics added to the offense, the Houston Texans must be ecstatic with the selection of QB Deshaun Watson. He instantly upgrades the WR DeAndre Hopkins while adding another dimension to the offense with his ability to run. I don’t see anyway Tom Savage beats him out for the starting job over the long haul. Watson comes from a winning program, and he’s played in high-pressure games. Over the last two seasons at Clemson, Deshaun passed for 8,702 yards with an exceptional completion rate (67.4). He finished with 86 TDs and 30 Ints over that span. When you add his value in the run game (372/1734/21) in 2015 and 2016, a Fantasy owner can see the excitement in this skill set. It won’t take much to see this summer that Watson is the quarterback that gives the Texans the best chance to win in 2017. He has a great wide receiver with a deep threat in Will Fuller. Deshaun’s legs will help those two players shine in the deep passing game. Houston will throw the ball 550 to 600 times so a full season of games for Deshaun should lead to over 4,000 yards passing with 30+ combined TDs and over 600 yards rushing. Complete steal as a QB2 while I fully expect him to be a top 10 Fantasy QB in 2017.
For five weeks, the East Coast boys enjoyed one hell of a ride with Deshaun. Watson was the best QB in the game while compiling an incredible 17 TDs over a four-game stretch with 1,316 combined yards. During his run, he covered up some weakness in their starting lineup plus setup their second half of the season.
Here’s look at some of his other bids:
- Week 1: Devontae Booker ($39)
- Week 3: Vernon Davis ($59)
Davis gained value when Jordan Reed was injured. He didn’t have a great year, but he did chip in until Hunter Henry found his way.
- Week 4: Aaron Jones ($368 >>> runner-up bid >>> $333), Buffalo Defense ($59)
Jones gave them two good weeks (19/125/1 and 17/131/1) before an injury crushed his value.
- Week 5: Brian Hoyer ($49), Harrison Butker ($49)
This group of owners likes to have a strong kicker. Dan Bailey was on a bye in Week 6, and he ended up getting hurt in Week 7. Butker was a kicker I picked up in almost every league when he landed the starting job for the Chiefs after the injury to Cairo Santos. The Chiefs’ offense looked much improved, and they tend to kick many field goals. The East Coast made an aggressive bid after Harrison made eight of nine field goals in his first two games.
- Week 6: Brett Hundley ($67), Bennie Fowler ($36)
- Week 7: Harrison Butker ($87)
After the Cowboys’ bye week, East Coast tossed Butker back into the free agent pool. Bailey injury forced them to rebuy him, and they were aggressive with their bidding. For the record, no one bid against them the second time ($1 the first time).
- Week 8: Rod Smith ($79), Blake Bortles ($5), Teddy Bridgewater ($4), Brandon McManus ($1)
After Deshaun Watson was hurt in practice, East Coast went scrambling to find a QB on the waiver wire during the second waiver period on Friday in Week 8. They added Bortles and Bridgewater. I remember talking to Jeff on that Friday about the free QB options, and Bortles made sense based on some of Jacksonville’s late-season matchups (Week 11 – @CLE, Week 13 – IND, Week 15 – HOU, and Week 16 – @SF).
- Week 10: Dede Westbrook ($4), Jay Cutler ($2)
- Week 11: Blaine Gabbert ($2), Jimmy Garoppolo ($1), Dan Bailey ($1)
Their best moves on the waiver wire came at QB and kicker while hitting briefly on Aaron Jones with their big move of the year.
Entering the championship round, East Coast ranked in 304th place while averaging 139.23 Fantasy points per week. The top qualifier averaged 164.81 Fantasy points, and 15 teams averaged over 150.00 Fantasy points per week.
An explosive Week 14 (224.90) put them in the hunt for the three-week sprint to win the $100,000. The next week East Coast scored 145.10 Fantasy points (234th) to remain in contention. The magical moment came in Week 16 when they led the event in scoring (201.70) for the second time. Here’s the scoring from his skill players in Week 14:
Even with his great week, East Coast had plenty of scoring on the bench.
Here’s a look at Week 15:
Week 15 was frustrating due to the injury to Antonio Brown plus two other WRs came up empty.
Blake Bortles was the best QB in the championship round (25.2, 34.3, and 30.2) with an impressive Week 13 (32.15) as well. On the year, East Coast had 33 TDs from their combined QBs played with 4,473 combined yards or 25.46 Fantasy points per week. The only single QB to score more Fantasy points in 2017 was Russell Wilson (432.1), but the Eagles’ QBs, Tom Brady, and Alex Smith had similar value when adding in their bye week cover.
If a Fantasy team didn’t have Todd Gurley in the championship round, they had a minimal chance of winning an overall title. Gurley scored 28.5, 45.0, and 49.6 Fantasy points over the last three weeks.
East Coast doesn’t win the overall title if he doesn’t play Dion Lewis in Week 16. Lewis gained a huge upgrade that week after James White and Rex Burkhead were inactive. Dion delivered 153 combined yards with five catches and two TDs to post 32.3 Fantasy points. Here’s his starting lineup in Week 16:
Over the three-week championship run, the Broncos’ defense scoring 27 points (20, 3, 4). The defining moment of Week 16 was the fourth quarter TD by DeAndre Hopkins to move them into first overall and put their hands on the $100,000 check. East Coast finished with 710.93 Fantasy points, which won the overall by 6.91 points. As great as his star players did over three-weeks, they don’t win the overall without Harrison Butker who had three massive weeks (17.6, 14.2, and 19.2) while making 12 of 14 field goals plus eight extra points. Who says kickers don’t matter?
Let’s say this was an impressive ride and one all Fantasy owners should inspire to take. The key players were identified on draft day while two big QB hits on the waiver wire plus a huge score at kicker led to a dream Fantasy season.
Now back to the 14-team league, I left off with this team owning Brandin Cooks, Todd Gurley, DeAndre Hopkins, Travis Kelce, and Marshawn Lynch while mentioning the additions of Cooper Kupp and Dion Lewis.
East Coast drafted the top QB (Russell Wilson) as well plus the top kicker (Justin Tucker) and a top-five defense (Philly). The last difference maker piece on this team on draft day was Alvin Kamara.
Kamara was a targeted player by me as well, but I paired him with Adrian Peterson (mistake) on many teams. The idea made sense, but the upside pass catching back should have been shining in the background with the Saints being one of the top teams in the league throwing to the RB position.
Here’s a look at the player profile for Alvin Kamara written last June at ScoutFantasySports.com:
Alvin Kamara (RB) – Over two seasons at Tennessee in college, Kamara never had a full-time opportunity. He rushed for 1,294 yards with 16 rushing TDs. His game offered upside in the passing game (74/683/7). He projects as more of a north/south runner with questionable long speed. He runs with power while offering short area quickness. His hands will be a strong asset when added to his route running ability. Viable option on passing downs and he should be able to handle himself in pass protection. Minimal carries without an injury while possibly emerging at the top pass-catching back on the team. Alvin looks to be the future back on the roster while being one injury away from having value in 2017.
Late in August, Kamara was a targeted player in the 9th round in 12-team PPR leagues due to his preseason and his pass-catching upside.
East Coast entered the championship round as the number one seed after scoring 156.91 Fantasy points per week. They posted the 8th highest score in Week 14 (171.85) followed up by the 19th highest score in Week 15 (153.70). Just like the 12-team league, East Coast was again the best team in Week 16 (190.55) beating all teams by 24 points that week leading to comfortable 28+ overall victory to take him another $80,000 plus their league prize. Here’s a look at their skill players played in Week 14, 15, and 16:
Over three-week championship round, Justin Tucker scored 32.6 Fantasy points, and the Philly defense chipped in with 36 Fantasy points.
In this league, they picked up these players off the waiver wire:
- Week 1: Bennie Fowler ($37)
- Week 2: Geronimo Allison ($89)
- Week 3: Ryan Griffin ($74)
- Week 4: J.D. McKissic ($239), Justin Hardy ($17)
- Week 5: Josh Gordon ($135), Case Keenum ($49)
- Week 6: Cody Latimer ($9), Malcolm Brown ($9)
- Week 7: Dontrelle Inman ($59), Chicago Defense ($53)
- Week 8: Josh Gordon ($179), Jesse James ($29)
- Week 9: Brandon McManus ($2)
- Week 10: Atlanta Defense ($3), Jonathan Williams ($4)
- Week 11: None
- Week 12: Oakland Defense ($13)
Overall, the only player of value off the waiver wire was Josh Gordon who ended up being more of a problem leading to some wrong lineup decision late in the year. The rest of the waiver wire moves were complementary to cover bye weeks and injuries. There is no doubt this championship was won by the decision making on draft day. East Coast purposely moved to the backend of the draft to hopefully start with a WR, Gurley, and Hopkins.
Just to show I didn’t get left at the barn with my research at ScoutFantasySports.com for Fantasy football in the high-stakes market. Here’s a look at three drafts I that a did after the first NFL game between the Patriots and Chiefs:
This team won the individual league plus finished 3rd overall in another high-stakes contest. I picked up Deshaun Watson for $27 in the first waiver period giving me a great combination at QB all season. I even added back Blake Bortles late in the year. Ben Roethlisberger was the second highest scoring QB in the championship round while playing his best ball after Deshaun Watson went down with an injury.
Looking back, I wish a made a better decision at TE1. I could either taken Hunter Henry over Adrian Peterson or selected Jack Doyle over Martellus Bennett. I did get out at TE with Evan Engram having a great season. He just left me on the doorstep of a huge check when he went down with an injury in Week 16.
If I drafted Dion Lewis like the East Coast owners, I would have had an excellent shot at winning the overall title. This team finished about 15 Fantasy points away from $250,000. The reason I didn’t roster him was the selection of James Conner. I already had six running backs, which left me out of the Lewis camp. It was the only draft I added Conner who had high upside if Le’Veon Bell had an injury.
This team had four impact players (Gurley, Thomas, Hopkins, and Kamara) plus an edge at QB over the course of the year with Watson and Roethlisberger. I added Harrison Butker for $1 when he first gained a starting job. The missing link all year as a steady WR3.
This team won its league title, but the draft flow didn’t break right, and my decision making wasn’t on point. Getting Antonio Brown at pick five was a gift, and I was able to pair him with Todd Gurley. Team 2 was on his game when he selected DeAndre Hopkins and Brandin Cooks.
Hopkins is a slam dunk for me if he makes it to me in the third. With this draft coming after the first Thursday night game, Cooks started to slide from mid-second round to late in the third round. His dropped value led to me selecting him over Hopkins a couple of times, which ended up being a huge mistake. If I land Hopkins, I avoid taking Bryant and possibly make a better decision in round 5.
My decision making was poor in round 3 (Martavis Bryant) and round 4 (Marshawn Lynch). I caught a break when Tom Brady slid to the seventh round while Jack Doyle and Alvin Kamara were the key players to keep me in the hunt all year.
This draft was in a $5,000 league, which was drafted right after the conclusion of the Patriots/Chiefs game. My partner (the great Kimra Schleicher) was the investor in all my drafts in the event. She couldn’t make it to Vegas and needed to go to bed (after midnight). From the third pick, the decision came between Antonio Brown and the points in the bank from Kareem Hunt. She decided to go with Hunt and went off to bed.
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Lucky for me, Brandin Cooks went before my pick, which led to me taking DeAndre Hopkins. If I draft Antonio Brown, I had no chance at Todd Gurley in this draft. In the end, Hunt/Hopkins was the best start I could have had from pick three.
If Cooks made it to me, I might have still been able to land Hopkins. Hilton wasn’t the same player without Andrew Luck throwing the ball.
In a way, I was fortunate that Jarvis Landry slid to the 7th round. I liked him a lot in 2017, but I kept trying to finesse him in drafts when other Fantasy owners were avoiding him. Just for reference, in my first draft in 2017, I had pick 1. I selected David Johnson and Todd Gurley. In the third round (Hopkins off the board), I added Jarvis Landry. In early July, I think of Landry as a top ten WR, but I backtrack on his draft value based on the general opinion of the Fantasy market. I should have owned him in every league in 2017 as a fourth-round pick over Martavis Bryant. To support my message, here’s my Jarvis Landry player profile written in early May at ScoutFantasySports.com:
Jarvis Landry (WR) – After posting 110 catches for 1,157 yards and four TDs on 166 targets, Fantasy owners wanted more growth from Landry in 2016. They had visions of a lower version of Antonio Brown. He finished 35 fewer targets, but only 16 fewer catches and 21 fewer yards. His finals stats (94/1136/4) led to him finishing 16th in WR scoring in PPR leagues. His season started with two-plus games in Week 2 (10/135) and Week 3 (7/120/1), but Miami struggled to get him the ball over the last nine weeks. Jarvis had six targets or fewer in seven of those games leading to five games with 55 yards receiving or fewer. He bailed out in Week 14 (4/103) and Week 15 (3/108/3), but Landry only had ten combined targets in those games. When comparing 2015 to 2016 in the passing game, the Dolphins attempted 111 fewer passing, which was a drop of about 18.9 percent in chances and 12.2 percent in passing yards. On the positive side, he did set a career high in yards per catch (12.1). Jarvis is a 100-catch WR with more big-play ability than most believe. Miami has a chance to be improved offensively so his floor should be closer to 250 Fantasy points. Solid WR2 in PPR leagues with top 10 upside with growth in TDs.
Landry finished as the 8th highest scoring WR in PPR leagues with 112 catches for 987 yards and nine TDs.
The other two players that made a difference on this team were Jack Doyle and Alvin Kamara. The lack of trust at WR2 and WR3 led to me adding Randall Cobb in the 9th. That decision should have cost me Kamara.
In the end, this team won the league and a $27,000 prize. All the teams I drafted had entry fees of $12,500, which led to over $60,000 in winnings. I didn’t have the East Coast type of season, but I was positioned to have the big score.
The bottom line here is that the research for Fantasy sports at ScoutFantasySports.com is done by people playing the games and investing in their opinions. They lead by example with winning records in many formats. If you want to start your winning football drive in 2018, look no further ScoutFantasySports.com where your information comes from Fantasy owners who play in high-stakes arenas.
Looking for some of Shawn’s 2018 player profiles? He’s already begun writing them! Check them out by CLICKING HERE!
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