Dissecting a Fantasy Team: The Steph Mack Tragedy

Julio Jones out for year

The Situation


Steph Mack and her fantasy football team sit at 2-5, fourth of five in her division, and have lost a league record 4 in a row. She is last in her league in points-for byalmost 50 and third in points against. She has come to The Thunderblog and our fantasy experts for help.

Her Week 1 starting lineup is:

QB – Matt Ryan

RB – Trent Richardson

RB – Chris Johnson

WR – Julio Jones

WR – Reggie Wayne

Flex – Lamar Miller

TE – Jermichael Finley

D/ST – Steelers

K – Blair Walsh

If you gave me this team to start the season I would be very excited, especially with hyped-rookie Tavon Austin on the bench. Steph certainly felt this way with her trash talk.

But 7 weeks later, things are very, very different for Mack.

Where the problem started: Draft Night

Ms. Mack had the 7th pick in a 10-team snake draft. She went with the smart bet in the first round and selected a running back. Now, I understand the notion of hindsight, but when the 7th pick came around Steph took last year’s rookie star Trent Richardson. Not the worst pick but there were red flags with Trent during the offseason. First, he was dinged up constantly last season with leg, arm, and rib injuries. Secondly, he was playing for the Browns who have little else on offense, especially with Josh Gordon suspended for the first 4 games. Defenses could stack 8 in the box to shut him down. But more importantly, there were better and safer running backs left on the board. Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, and Matt Forte all remained. Also no quarterbacks or wide receivers had been taken yet. Steph could have taken Peyton Manningor Megatron here. In the end, the better the offense, the more consistent and safer the fantasy player. Richardson doesn’t fit that bill.

In the second and third rounds, Steph made too really strong picks in Julio Jones and Matt Ryan. Jones was a stud until bad luck ended his season and Matty Ice has been inconsistent but not awful.

The fourth round saw Mack get Chris Johnson, the most overpaid running back in the league. But I don’t hate the pick. Looking at what was left for running back, most everyone would have drafted Johnson here. The only other potential pick would have been Demaryius Thomas, giving Steph a big one-two punch at wideout. But I see the logic in Johnson.

Steph’s best pick in the draft was getting Reggie Wayne in the 5th round. Until his season ending injury, Wayne was on a tear. But just like Julio Jones, Wayne is out for the season leaving Steph without her top two wideouts, a truly unlucky break.

Steph also took Jermichael Finley in the 8th round,which wasn’t bad for that point but Antonio Gates went one pick later. Mack also took a flier on Tavon Austin and has started him a few weeks this year, but she left a couple of sure-bets on the board with the “Law-Firm”, Antonio Brown, and Eric Decker sitting there for the taking.

But still, post-draft this team looked strong with two featured backs, a top-10 quarterback, and 2 sterling receivers.

Bad Luck and Bad Decisions

Let’s be clear, Steph has bad luck this year. Both Wayne and Jones are out for the season. Finley may be done for a while. Matt Ryan has struggled with both the Jones injury and the Roddy White injury. And the usually stout Steelers D has been surprisingly bad.

But there have been some bad decisions along the way. Steph has picked up 5 tight ends as she has tried to get some production out of the position and none have stuck, although the latest pick up, Coby Fleener, looks promising. Joique Bell looked like a good snag on the wavier wire but Reggie Bush has established his dominance in Detroit. Willis McGahee has also come up small and Bryce Brown hasn’t seen enough carries in Philadelphia. Joseph Randle is a decent pickup until Murray returns for the Cowboys.

Today’s Fantasy Graveyard

QB – Matt Ryan

RB – Lamar Miller

RB – Joique Bell

WR – Tavon Austin

WR – Golden Tate

Flex – Joseph Randle

TE – Kyle Rudolph

D/ST – Titans

K – Blair Walsh

This looks a little different, and a lot worse, than Week1.  Matt Ryan is going to have the carry this team. This week sees Richardson, Johnson, and Fleener on bye, but even with those likely-starters back, this team scares no one.

So what can she do? First, receiver help is necessary and Steph is going to have to be very active on that front. She already has two solid running backs, a quarterback, and a tight end. And there is some potential with her stable of running backs such as Lamar Miller and Joseph Randle. Pair those two up with Richardson and Johnson and you have a solid, albeit not spectacular, group.

Mack needs to look for receivers with big upside. Jarrett Boykin of Green Bay, Marques Colston of the Saints, Terrance Williams of the Cowboys, and Mohamed Sanu of Cincinnati all fit this bill. If she can snag two of the four, she will at least have potential for an upswing and potentially save her season. A tread could happen but there is enough receiver help in free agency then to go that route and lose running back depth.

Projected Lineup for the Rest of the Season

QB – Matt Ryan

RB – Trent Richardson

RB – Chris Johnson

WR – Jarrett Boykin

WR – Marques Colston

Flex – Lamar Miller

TE – Coby Fleener

D/ST – Titans

K – Blair Walsh

Thoughts? Have we at the Thunderblog saved Steph Mack’s season from embarrassment?


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