Now that I have participated in a number of Fanball guillotine league drafts and spent some time thinking about draft tactics, I’ve developed a sense of which players I want to elevate and which players I want to fade in these leagues.
In this article, I identify three players to avoid, or at least fade. I am resisting the temptation to weigh in on what I think of them as players, because I want this to be strictly about the guillotine league format. These are players who should be downgraded in the guillotine format, specifically in Fanball, compared to conventional leagues.
In other words, I am not at all saying I think these players are overvalued in general. I am saying that because of factors that are especially important in guillotine leagues, such as volatility, bye weeks, or the fact that they are stashes – they deserve to be downgraded.
My overall thoughts on draft tactics are laid out in my article 7 Tactics for Drafting in Guillotine Leagues. All of the players I discuss here have multiple guillotine league negatives, and few or no guillotine league positives.
Before getting to the players, I have a favor to ask. I’ve created a crowdsourcing web app called CrowdSorcerer, that I would love for you to check out. CrowdSorcerer asks you to choose between two players or groups of players, and your responses updates player ranks and player values, which you can see after you make a few choices. If you appreciate my articles, please help me out by trying it out at Crowdsorcerer.net. I think this will be a good player valuation tool, but crowdsourcing only works if people participate! Thanks.
And now, the fades:
1. Amari Cooper
Amari Cooper is going as the 13th wide receiver in PPR leagues, according to fantasypros, which is the 31st pick overall. In my guillotine league drafts, he’s gone between picks 29 and 42, on average pick 34, which is the last pick of the 2nd round.
I downgrade him in guillotine leagues for two reasons: volatility and the Week 8 bye.
Cooper’s overall numbers were a respectable 75 receptions for 1005 yards and 7 touchdowns. But the game-by-game breakdown shows that much of his production was concentrated in just a few games.
In two games, weeks 12 and 14, he got 18 receptions for 397 yards and 5 touchdowns. That’s about 25% of the receptions, 40% of the yards and 70% of the touchdowns – which accounts for about 40% of his fantasy production – in 12.5% of the games.
If you add weeks 2 and 4, then in four games – a quarter of the season – he totalled 36 receptions for 641 yards and 6 touchdowns. That’s almost half the receptions, 65% of the yards, and 85% of the touchdowns, accounting for close to 65% of his fantasy points.
Of course, all players have better games and worse games, leading to some concentration of production. But these numbers are fairly extreme.
But what about the trade? Cooper was, of course, much better in his nine games in Dallas than he was in six games in Oakland. His wide receiver 13 status bakes in the assumption that he is a better fantasy producer in Dallas and will accordingly produce better than he did last season (he was the WR 19 last season, but his per-game production in Dallas would have had him WR9 on a 16-game basis).
Was Cooper more consistent in Dallas? Well, in those two games out of nine (weeks 12 and 14, representing 22% of his games), he got 33% of his Dallas receptions, 55% of his Dallas yards, and 83% of his Dallas touchdowns, for 55% of his Dallas points. Highly volatile.
Week 8 Bye
Week 8 is the very worst week to have a top player on bye this season, because there are only two teams on bye – the Cowboys and the Ravens. Having Cooper as one of your top 3 picks (he is not dropping to round 4) means that you are benching him in a week where very few other teams in your league are losing players to a bye. It is probably just you, the Ezekiel Elliott owner, and the Mark Ingram owner.
Now, there are two other weeks with only two teams on bye: week 4 (Jets, 49ers) and week 5 (Dolphins, Lions). Week 8 is worse for byes for two reasons.
First, more starters should be on bye in weeks 4 and 5. In week 4, safe bets include Le’veon Bell, Robby Anderson, George Kittle, Dante Pettis, and quite likely Jimmy Garoppolo and at least one of the San Francisco running backs. Chris Herndon would be on this list too, if he wasn’t suspended.
In week five, probable starters include Kenyan Drake, Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and maybe Matt Stafford.
Second, the competition is fiercer in week 8. One out of ten teams will be eliminated, not one out of thirteen or fourteen – and the 4 teams eliminated between weeks 4 and 8 will tend to be the worse teams. This means you are more reliant on good production in week 8 than you were earlier, and less reliant on luck and on other teams being worse than you.
Better options: Julian Edelman or Robert Woods. They’ve been available after Cooper in every one of my leagues.
2. George Kittle
Kittle is going in the second round, usually in the middle of the round.
This is higher than he is going in conventional leagues, where his ADP is around 30. In my view he is a guillotine league downgrade because of his Week 4 bye.
Week 4 byes are especially bad for tight ends. Besides being an uncrowded bye, which is bad for players generally, it is an early bye, which I view as especially bad for tight ends.
As discussed above, I don’t think a week 4 or week 5 bye is quite as bad as a week 8 bye. But they are still not good, and all else being equal, I would take a player with a crowded bye week (namely weeks 7 and 9-12) over one with a week 4 or week 5 bye.
Picking a player early who has a week 4 bye means limiting your options later, since I would definitely not want two starters with week 4 byes.
Let’s say you are high on Dante Pettis, as I am, and think he would be a great WR2 or flex. Pettis is going in round 5, generally in the 75-80 range, which means he is being drafted as a starter.
That means taking Kittle in round 2 forces you to either forget about Pettis, or take two starters with a week 4 bye. Not ideal.
In contrast, taking a starter early who has a late bye is less restrictive. Let’s say you draft Zach Ertz in the second, who has a week 10 bye, and you highly value Alshon Jeffery (same bye week). You can draft both without worrying about it too much, because week 10 problems are easier to fix than week 4 problems.
Besides early byes being bad generally, I think they are especially bad for tight ends. They force you to do one of four things:
- Draft a second tight end to use in Week 4. This is a waste of a scarce bench spot.
- Play without a tight end week 4. I don’t need to elaborate on why this is bad.
- Pay up for a decent tight end at the waiver auction. This is an expensive move that will cost you later. You’d be buying in the first 3 weeks of waivers, when people are way overspending.
- Grab a bad tight end in free agency. You can expect the top 15-20 TEs other than Kittle to be owned, so you would be discarding one of your 5 bench players for a bottom-of-the-barrel tight end. Since tight end performance is not very predictable, playing a bad tight end in a good matchup is not a high-percentage move.
All of these are too costly, and that’s why I’m fading Kittle. If you’re not reaching for Kelce or Ertz, you can grab a great RB or WR instead of Kittle, then get Hunter Henry or Evan Engram in the later rounds. I’m seeing players like Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, Kerryon Johnson and Devonta Freeman going after Kittle. I would take any of those guys and run, then count on either getting Henry (sometimes available in the late 4th) or Engram (usually available until the late 4th) or settling for a late tight end like Kyle Rudolph or Jordan Reed.
3. Chris Herndon
It should be obvious why I have Herndon on this list. He has all of the disadvantages of Kittle except for having to get him in the second round. And he has the disadvantages of not being as good a player, and of the suspension.
I actually like Herndon better where he’s going, in the 10th-11th round, than Kittle in the 2nd. Consider who you’re getting in the 2nd round, 10th round and 12th round in both scenarios.
Option 1: Get someone like Keenan Allen or Devante Adams in the second. Get Herndon in the 10th. Get a throwaway tight end in the 12th. After week 5, throw away the tight end and ride Herndon.
Option 2: Kittle in the second. Someone like Mike Davis or Kenny Stills in the 10th (those are my ideas of a good 10th round value. You can substitute your own preference). Throwaway tight end in the 12th. Throw away the tight end after Week 4.
Not recommending Option 1, but it seems better to me than Option 2.
I wanted to make this a top-5 article, but none of the other players I started working on had quite the combination of strong negative and no strong positives for me to make a good case for a strong fade. So I mention some of them here:
- Andrew Luck (possibly a stash, in violation of the Anti-Stashing principle; plus I don’t like QBs with week 6 byes)
- Mitch Trubisky (highly volatile production, plus a week 6 bye)
- Robby Anderson (volatile production and an uncrowded bye in week 4)