It's nearly the end of August. You're sitting at your desk. It's 2:30 in the morning.
Your shirt is drenched in sweat. You haven't shaved in days - in fact, you don't even know what day it is. You have 49 unread text messages and 21 missed calls, but you're too focused to care. Why? Because it's Draft Day tomorrow.
If this reminds you of yourself, you probably fall into one of two categories: one, you're a hardcore fantasy football player who is squeezing every last minute out of the last few days before your big draft - or you completely forgot to prepare and are cramming at the last minute.
The draft clock countdown finally hits zero. No matter what pick you had in your draft, you were guaranteed an elite player in the first round. You pick up some solid plug-and-play guys in the next few rounds. You snag someone who dropped in Round 5 and celebrate with a fist pump. You're able to get an elite defense by Round 10 and your two QB's are top-10 options, but you didn't have to reach for them. You get two sleepers that you highlighted and circled on your draft cheat sheet in the later rounds, and you get a premier kicker with your last pick.
You're singing to the heavens - your roster is stacked...this might be the year.
Week 1 rolls around, and you lose because the other guy's top wide-out exploded. He got lucky. Week 2 will be better - except it isn't. The injury bug hits early, often, and hard. You're starting to worry. You go through the free-agent list over and over, trying to find the next hidden gem. You get a notification on your phone saying a top RB is out for a few months, so you pick-up his backup... turns out the third stringer got more carries, and poof, your Week 3 hopes are dashed and you're looking at an 0-3 article. Maybe you were looking forward to playing a team with a hobbled Jamaal Charles in week 4, and then he exploded so you're 0-4 and depressed.
Someone out there reading this article knows these feelings too well. Every league has one or two victims each year; it's the nature of the beast and the beauty of the sport.
Without further ado, here are the top 20 reasons your fantasy team has gotten off to an absolutely atrocious start to the 2014 season.
*All point totals taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Football
20 20. The Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice Sagas
Let's not make light of a very serious situation - Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice are where they should be, that is, out of the NFL or sitting at home waiting for a judge to decide their fate. From a strictly fantasy football purpose, though, plenty of teams lost their top-3 pick and a solid RB2. If you banked on these two, you're not a not bad player, you just got "unlucky" (again, strictly from a fantasy purpose). Even if you handcuffed these two, Matt Asiata and Bernard Pierce are not legitimate long-term options. Hopefully the rest of your lineup is solid.
19 RG3 Got Hurt...Again
If your mindset going into the draft was "I am going to wait and take a QB later, because there will be someone with solid value in the 8th or 9th round," then I commend you. You are an astute player. If your second thought was "I'm going to grab a guy who can score TD's with his arms and his legs," then a round of applause for you - you don't mess around when it comes to fantasy. If you got to the 8th or 9th round and looked at the board, went through your values and then drafted RG3, a hearty slap across the cheek for you! You should have known RG3 was going to break your heart somehow. And now you're stuck choosing between Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick, because you put all your eggs in one basket (pun intended - RG3 is a walking, talking, fragile little egg).
18 Eddie Lacy Forgot How to Score Touchdowns
If you picked up Eddie Lacy expecting big things, you have a right to be pissed. Lacy has been one of the biggest disappointments of the early parts of this season. Some of you might have a little less to work with in the patience department and might have sold him off already. I pray that you didn't. If you did, you're going to continue to lose, because you surely didn't get much for him at his current value, and you're going to have some sleepless night wondering what you did once Lacy finally gets to face some softer run defenses.
17 You Played Against Allen Hurns in Week 1, Delanie Walker in Week 2, and Kirk Cousins in Week 3
You got nipped by the nobodies. It happens. I have a feeling no one - not even Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley - had a clue who Allen Hurns one, until he randomly hauled in four catches for 110 yards and 2 TD's in Week 1, good for about 35.00 points in PPR leagues. You had an idea who Delanie Walker was, but you didn't expect him to go off in Week 2 to the tune of 10 catches, 142 yards and a score. You were a tad worried about Kirk Cousins in Week 3, but you we're shocked (and heartbroken) when he threw for 427 yards and three scores. It happens. You shake it off and hope it doesn't keep happening...but it probably will.
16 Jamaal Charles Hasn't Fit His Billing
Most players who had the #1 overall pick didn't have to think twice about who they were taking first overall. Say what you want about LeSean McCoy, but Charles was by far the guy to take with the top pick this year. Unfortunately he hasn't come out of the gates as quickly as he did last year, and now injuries have relegated him to the bench. He had a resurgence on Monday versus New England and fantasy players will hope that it's the start of a monster streak.
15 You Lost Because Cody Parkey Kicked A Game-Winning Field Goal on Monday Night Football
This might be the worst way to lose a game, in all facet of sports. It's bad enough when it happens to your NFL team, but when a measly 15th round pick kicker nails a field goal as time expires to give your opponent a victory by less than one single point...well, suffice to say that if you saw computers flying out of windows after the Eagles beat the Colts a few weeks ago, you now know what happened.
If it happened to you, I do not feel bad for you because I own Cody Parkey, and he won my Week 2 match-up with that kick. Sucker.
14 You Drafted Tom Brady
Let's go back to the theory we proposed earlier regarding RG3: take a QB later on, so as to stock up at RB and WR, instead of wasting a high pick on Rodgers or Brees (Manning, you take all day, in my humble opinion). So you're going through your draft and you have Phillip Rivers in mind. Maybe Cam Newton if you're lucky. You head over to the QB page and are stunned to see Tom Brady sitting there. A chill of excitement runs down your spine and you draft the Golden Boy...then you remember he has no one to throw the ball too besides a smurf named Julian Edelman and a limited Gronk.
His highest point total in standard leagues was about 12 points. Enough said.
13 You Wasted a Top Pick on Aaron Rodgers
OK, so A-Rod might have won you Week 4...but where was he for you during the first three weeks?
The same themes continue to re-emerge here. Unless you're in a small league, drafting an elite QB not named Peyton Manning early in the draft can be detrimental to your teams success. There are 20-25 QB's who can put up half decent stats for your fantasy team - you're not concerned with the victories he leads his team to - while there are about 5-6 top-tier elite RBs and WRs. You take those guys before you worry about taking a QB who will break your heart, as Aaron Rodgers has done so far. He had a solid Week 2 and 4, but Week 1 and 3 were atrocious from a fantasy perspective.
12 You Thought Doug Martin and Trent Richardson Would "Bounce-Back"
The term "bounce-back" season is used extremely often in the world of fantasy football. Big names will falter at times - it's the nature of the beast - so we prop them up the year after and proclaim them back to their former standards, that they are in great shape and will prove everyone wrong this year. Philip Rivers did that last year, but it's not something that every player can do. You bet on Doug Martin and Trent Richardson to do what Rivers did, and they have failed miserably. Hopefully you don't have both on your roster...or you'd be really screwed.
11 The Injury Bug Turned Into the Injury Plague in Week 2
Injuries are the bane of fantasy football. You know they are going to happen, but some weeks they hit harder than others.
And then there was Week 2 of this season. If that Week was a hurricane, it would be a category 5. The injury "bug" (more like monster, or evil demon) ripped through the ranks of superstar fantasy players like many had never seen before.
A.J. Green, RG3, DeSean Jackson, Knowshon Moreno, Vernon Davis, Jamaal Charles, Marcedes Lewis, Ryan Mathews, Tavon Austin, Eric Decker, and Mark Ingram all went down with injuries. That could have very well been 80% of someone's roster that day. Even losing one or two of these guys probably did enough damage to hurt your Week 2 chances significantly, though.
10 You Didn't Draft DeMarco Murray
Plain and simple, you whiffed on this one. You probably had a choice between Murray, Andre Ellington and Giovanni Bernard. Maybe Montee Ball too, depending on the size of your league. You went with Ellington because he was propped up by the Cardinals all offseason, or you went with Bernard because experts had him on the fast-track to a breakout season and a Pro Bowl at the end of the season. Or maybe you grabbed Ball because he was ranked higher by every fantasy football site. Then Ellington hurt his foot. Bernard has been solid, but a bit underwhelming at times, and Ball has been a fairly big disappointment. Meanwhile, Murray is is leading the league in rushing yards and is tied for the lead in rushing TD's.
9 You Tricked Yourself Into Thinking MJD and Bishop Sankey Was a Solid RB Duo
So you signed up for a fantasy football league that happens to offer more point for success in the passing game, similar to the actual on field product which is slowly but surely moving away for the ground and pound mentality. So you focused on wideouts and tight-ends, and maybe a QB, in the first few rounds, and suddenly you looked at your roster and noticed something alarming: your RB slots we're still empty. You scrambled back to the player list...there are slim pickings left at RB - but then you see a familiar name.
"Maurice Jones-Drew is still available? He's so good! I'll take him and I'll own this league!"
You topped that off by adding Bishop Sankey, who is a good pick if you wanted to stash him for later in the year, but not as your starting RB out of the gate. MJD has been surpassed on the depth chart by Darren McFadden of all people, and Sankey is only now starting to get a defined role on a bad Titans team that probably won't be able to get him 20 touches a game.
8 You Fell for Ben Tate and the "New" Cleveland Browns
All offseason, the Cleveland Browns we're getting propped up as the "breakout" team - Johnny Manziel was going to scramble in and around defenses, Jordan Cameron was going to put up Jimmy Graham type numbers, and Ben Tate was going to lead the league in rushing with Joe Thomas and Alex Mack plowing highways for him.
It hasn't happened: Brian Hoyer (rightfully) kept his job, but he is not the guy who will help your skill players put up stats. He's a game manager, at best. Ben Tate has been less than impressive (when he's even on the field), and Jordan Cameron's bum shoulder has hurt his value.
7 You Picked up Kirk Cousins and Proclaimed Him The Second Coming of Jesus Himself
Kirk Cousins was supposed to be the Washington Redskins savior, the way RG3 was a few years ago - only he wouldn't get injured every six plays. Cousins relieved Griffin in Week 2 and looked solid. He tore up the Eagles defense in Week 3, so everyone and their grandmother was salivating at the thought of what Cousins would do to a less-than-stellar Giants defense this past week.
Now, let's be clear - Kirk Cousins isn't the reason you lost your first three games. He probably wasn't even on your roster until Week 3. There's a good chance, though, that you didn't start him in Week 3, to see what he would do. Then you started him with confidence in Week 4, and he let you down. Besides the points lost over the last two weeks, you probably dropped whoever your other QB was. Worse, you might have used up your waiver claim priority on a guy who threw four picks against a mediocre defense.
6 You Went for Old-but-Gold Names, But They've Just Been Bronze
The common mistake "unseasoned" fantasy players will make is to marry themselves to the big names that were stars once upon a time, but are now in the twilight of their careers and have little to nothing left to give. Maurice Jones-Drew, as mentioned earlier, comes to mind right away. Some other big names that have disappointed include Larry Fitzgerald, Tom Brady, Dwayne Bowe, Andre Johnson and DeAngelo Williams. While you wouldn't necessarily pass on these players, you shouldn't have reached for them higher in the draft just to have a "glitzy" lineup.
5 You Ignored Rookies
This a follow up on the last point. While you were picking up older players with the gas tank closer to empty than full and shied away from the unknown, someone else was busy using his late round picks on Brandin Cooks (about 55 total PPR points), Sammy Watkins (about 54 total PPR points), and Kelvin Benjamin (about 77 total PPR points), just to name a few. While it's usually hit or miss with rookies (we already spoke about Bishop Sankey), you'll usually find yourself regretting not taking a chance on a young guy.
4 Your Cellular Service Provider Sucks
This one has less to do with your ability and more to do with your life choices. It might not have anything to do with your service provider. If you know you're going to be getting notifications sent to your phone regarding your players, why are you watching TV in your basement, where the service is a crapshoot? Why is your phone on silent at noon on a Sunday? Or, maybe your cellular provider really does suck, and you only got the news that your starting RB was inactive at 1:02 PM, or you only found out that one of your guys got injured a day later (meanwhile, his handcuff was snapped up faster than you could refresh your Twitter feed).
3 You Fell For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This one is on you, buddy. If you put all your eggs in the Buccaneers basket, you are a damn fool. If you avoided guys like Phillip Rivers and Jay Cutler because you knew Josh McCown was going to be available later on, you deserve to be 0-3. If you reached for Vincent Jackson, I am shaking my head at you (if you drafted him late, you're just unlucky). If you were content with snapping up the Bucs defense because Warren Sapp was high on them, you should be ashamed of yourself. Overall, stay away from bad teams until they prove they aren't bad anymore. A couple of off-season signings does not prove anything, but you fell for it, and now you're paying for it.
2 You've Been Unlucky
Sometimes luck just doesn't shine on you. Injuries aren't an excuse - everyone has to deal with them. But maybe your team had a huge week; breakout performances, big plays, and a ton of points - good for second most in your league that week...but you just happened to be playing the guy with the most points that week. Maybe one of your guys fumbled a ball and got benched. Can't do anything about that. However you slice it, sometimes the cookie just doesn't crumble the way you'd like it too. Keep your head up, champ.
1 You Suck At Fantasy Football...But There's Still Hope
If you just drafted a horrible team, and you can't seem to figure out why your team always finished dead last in weekly points, here's the straight answer: your team sucks, and you aren't very good at fantasy football. Someone had to say it. There's a certain amount you can control while playing this game (mostly through drafting and free agent pickups), and if you aren't good at either of those, then it's on you.
There's still hope, though: the season is but four weeks old. Maybe with some astute moves you can make a late run at a final playoff spot. The hole you're in right now, though? You probably dug most of it.
Start climbing, friend. Start climbing.