We've all been there.
That moment when you realize, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you completely and totally screwed up. Whether it's starting the wrong guy, a trade gone south or, the worst as far as I'm concerned, when you've dropped a player who then blows up.
It's an awful feeling as the regret and frustration sweep over you. And the trash talk from your unforgiving leaguemates doesn't help.
Well, my friend, the internet and I are here to help.
Yes, you've screwed up. More than once. And you'll screw up again. But before you beat yourself up too much, understand it could be worse. Demonstrably so.
It's Thanksgiving week, and that means turkey, so it seems appropriate to talk "fantasy turkeys." I do a version of this column every year, and it's always a fun one. So, without further ado and with apologies once again to the band Oasis, it's time for the 2017 edition of "Don't Look Back in Anger."
This year, we had so many amazing entries I couldn't get to them all. If you want to see even more than what I've listed here, you should check out the thread under my @matthewberry profile on the Fantasy Life app, and this Twitter thread.
How great were this year's entries? Among the moves that didn't make the list; dropping Jared Goff for Mike Wallace, trading Larry Fitzgerald and Mark Ingram for Marcus Mariota and Jeremy Maclin, dropping Mark Ingram for Jamaal Williams, a guy who turned down Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara for Andrew Luck, trading Evan Engram for Jordan Matthews, dropping Robert Woods for Shane Vereen and someone who last week spent $70 of his $100 free-agent budget on ... Nathan Peterman.
Oh yeah. Some pretty awful moves, right? Feel better? Think there's no way there are moves worse than those? Hold my beer. Since it's Week 12, here are the top 12 fantasy turkeys of the year so far:
I was ready for CJ2K resurgence! smh :( pic.twitter.com/0LnAl8var4
- Daniel Moore (@DanielGlenMoore) November 22, 2017
At least it took a while before the pain to sink in on that one since JuJu didn't pop for a while. Travis knew pretty quickly what had gone wrong.
Take your pic pic.twitter.com/9QaWcfUxkw
- Travis Kennison (@TravisKennison) November 21, 2017
Hey, at least Christian McCaffrey's been pretty good! Which is more than we can say for Thomas Rawls ...
- Frank Santos (@FrankSantos88) November 22, 2017
Could be worse. At least you got something for him ...
I drafted Kamara last round because he had a funny name... dropped him after week 2. I also dropped Jay Ajayi last year. ��
- Roman Murgi (@rmurg27) November 22, 2017
There is definitely a trend of not giving Saints backs any credit early this season ...
This is a thing that happened. pic.twitter.com/gUhJhNgxlx
- Ben Stein (@bstein13) November 21, 2017
On the other hand, better a defense than a kicker.
Dropped Kareem Hunt for Mason Crosby right before the season ����♂️
- Corey Schneider (@Coreysch) November 21, 2017
Can you imagine the horror Corey must have felt when he watched that opening Thursday night when Kareem Hunt went nuts? Guessing it's been a similar feeling for a few weeks now for Mike ...
Dropped Thielen for JJ Nelson. pic.twitter.com/E8EML42b1j
- Mike Meskel (@mikemeskel) November 22, 2017
If it makes you feel better, Mike, at least that was just one move that didn't work out. Sometimes, you start digging a hole and you just can't stop.
I traded away Brees to go all in on Watson...next morning...ACL tear.
I then traded for Winston - out with a shoulder injury for 3 weeks.
I pick up Tyrod Taylor - gets 2 points then benched for the GOAT - Peterman. #TMRfantasymistake
- Baber Ghaznavi (@BaberGhaznavi) November 21, 2017
Not me, but someone else in my league pulled this beauty off pic.twitter.com/hAWQ5CTWMM
- Phil Uzi Vert (@_philmic) November 21, 2017
Well, whoever "Divine Reasoning" is, he or she wasn't alone in not believing in the Eagles early on. You might want to avert your eyes on this next one ...
Needed a quick fill-in for Gronk. I can't decide if this is worse or better than dropping Aaron Judge before the season started in fantasy baseball and losing in the championship game #TMRfantasymistake pic.twitter.com/1RBrz9x432
- Jacob Dennis (@jakeyd_8) November 21, 2017
Well, Jacob, it's nice to know you're a multisport guy. But, if there's a positive to find here, it's that you can start fresh next year and forget about that move. Not so for @johnkuhn69 on the Fantasy Life app. He wrote
"I dropped Dalvin Cook cause I didn't realize it was a keeper league."
Yowza. Of course, although we certainly hope Cook comes back 100 percent strong, he will be coming off a major injury next year. It's splitting hairs, but that's why John didn't get the top spot. That honor went to ...
Drafted Evan Engram in the 17th round of a 10-17 round keeper league.. dropped him for a kicker for week 1.
- Jovanny Gonzalez (@GioGonzi) November 22, 2017
I mean ... rookie top-tier tight end 17th-round keeper for ... a kicker. Doesn't get worse than that.
But you know what, Jovanny? Among the many traditions of Thanksgiving week is the president "pardoning" turkeys. So, in that grand tradition, I hereby pardon all of these fantasy turkeys, including yours. And I include myself in that group. Sorry about putting Alex Smith on the "love" list last week. Yeesh. No one can predict the future. All you can do is analyze all the data, study the games, stay up on the news and make the best decision you can. And then let the chips fall where they may.
So let's do just that and get to it. After some feedback, I'm trying a new version of the column this week, somewhere between the old format and the new format. This column is usually between 4,500 and 5,000 words every week, and, after the issues with my health, I adjusted the format to be less cumbersome in terms of writing it. I'm still messing around with the format to find the one that works best.
So we'll try this and see what folks think. I'll do more names as separate entries (instead of one separate player and then a bunch of others in one big paragraph) but instead of the paragraph or two I would do about each player the old way, instead I'll just do a line or two of analysis. Trust that the research is there, but do you need to see how the meat is cooked or can you just trust it's a tasty burger? Either way, the analysis is better than that metaphor. Thanks, as always, to Kyle Soppe and Jacob Nitzberg for their help at various points in this column. Unless otherwise noted, all stats are over the past four weeks.
Quarterbacks I love in Week 12
Kirk Cousins, Redskins: The second-best QB in fantasy since Week 3, Cousins is playing on a short week with little running back depth and a really banged-up offensive line (two starters to IR this week alone). What's that mean? Getting in the shotgun and chucking it. A lot. Against a Giants team allowing a league-high 21.6 points per game to opposing quarterbacks since Week 4. He always plays well against the Giants (at least 287 yards in each of his past four games against them) and despite a "strong" performance from the Giants' D last week in super-windy conditions, I am firing up Cousins confidently against a New York team that is 29th against the pass.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: With 310-plus passing yards OR multiple passing TDs in four straight games, #HomeBen is in effect once more against a Packers defense that is 25th against the pass and allowing the fifth-most yards after the catch (per reception) the past four weeks. The Steelers, meanwhile, are gaining the sixth-most yards after the catch (per reception) in that same time frame. Since 2014, whenever Roethlisberger has played in two or three consecutive home games, he's rocked in the back-end games of the homestand. In fact, in those second or third games, he's averaged 29 fantasy points per game and thrown for at least 317 yards and at least two TDs in all six such games in that span. He's a top-five play for me.
Matt Ryan, Falcons: Congrats on the twins, Matty Ice! As a father of twins myself, let me tell you ... they're magic. It's awesome. You know what else is awesome? Facing a Tampa Bay defense that generates pressure at the lowest rate in the NFL this season (Ryan is top five in completion percentage when not under pressure) and has a bottom-10 pass defense. The Bucs are especially bad deep (bottom four in completion percentage, touchdowns and yards allowed on deep passes). The game is at home and Ryan quietly has multiple touchdowns in four straight games.
Others receiving votes: Since Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator of the Bengals, Andy Dalton's 16 passing touchdowns rank fifth in the NFL. Four of those TDs came against Cleveland in Week 4. Against an improving but still vulnerable Browns team, Dalton is a top-15 play and a solid streaming option. ... If you're ever gonna do it, Marcus Mariota, this is the week. The Colts have allowed double-digit fantasy points to every single QB they've face this season, a list that includes Brian Hoyer, Blake Bortles, DeShone Kizer and Tom Savage. ... The QB opposite him in that game, Jacoby Brissett is interesting as a QB2 with upside, as well. He's scored more than 15.5 fantasy points in three straight, and this is a good matchup against a Titans squad that has allowed the third-most passing touchdowns this season.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 12
Dak Prescott, Cowboys: His situation improves if Tyron Smith plays, but even if Smith can go, he probably won't be 100 percent against a Chargers team that is third in the NFL in sacks. If you go with Prescott, you're hoping for a rushing touchdown and some yardage, which is certainly possible because my expectation is Casey Hayward shuts down Dez Bryant (more on that later). Prescott has failed to throw a touchdown in three of his past four (and has less than 13.5 points in three of his past four as well). The Chargers have given up just four passing touchdowns in their past five games. And while that includes a game against Blake Bortles and a half against Nathan Peterman, it also includes games vs. Tom Brady and Derek Carr. Prescott is just outside my top 10.
Jared Goff, Rams: He's been great against bad defenses and very pedestrian against good defenses (fewer than 10 points in recent games against Seattle, Jacksonville and Minnesota). The Saints are a good defense. Despite Kirk Cousins' big game last week, the Saints are top five in the NFL in sacks, QB fantasy points per game, TD/INT rate, passing yards allowed and completion percentage allowed during their eight-game win streak. Goff is just outside my top 15 this week.
Derek Carr, Raiders: Carr has failed to throw multiple touchdown passes in three straight and in six of his past seven, so I'm not crazy about his chances against Denver. Yes, they are not the Broncos of old, but they are still solid, especially in pass defense, where they rank eighth the past four weeks. Carr has scored fewer than 14 points in three straight and four of his past five, and he now has fewer games with at least 14 fantasy points this season than Bortles and Kizer. He's merely a midtier QB2 this week.
Running backs I love in Week 12
Kareem Hunt, Chiefs: I know. He's my fantasy ride or die. You think I don't know? I will say that he had 30 yards on two touches called back because of penalties last week against the Giants, and if those don't get called, I think his box score looks different. Anyway, despite the lack of scoring and how bad the Chiefs' offense has looked, I'm back in on him at home against the Bills. Since the Bills traded Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville, their rush defense has allowed 5.44 yards per carry, 10 touchdowns and 171 fantasy points (most in the NFL) to opposing running backs. With close to 20 touches guaranteed for Hunt in this one, he's a top-10 play for me.
Alfred Morris, Cowboys: He's averaging 5.1 yards per carry in the two games since Ezekiel Elliott got suspended. In the span, he's got 28 carries and has touched the ball on 63.6 percent of snaps compared to just 11 carries and touches on just 22.1 percent of snaps for Rod Smith. At home against a Chargers team that is allowing a league-high 138.9 rushing yards per game this season and the second-most yards per carry this season (4.93), Morris is a legit RB2 this week.
Orleans Darkwa, Giants: In games in which Darkwa has received at least 10 carries this season, he's averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and he has at least 70 rushing yards in three straight weeks. The only other guy who can say that? Mark Ingram. The banged-up Skins are 29th against the run and allow the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, including six rushing scores to running backs in the past six games. Darkwa is a top-20 play for me.
Others receiving votes: You're already starting Jerick McKinnon, but I also like Latavius Murray here. With at least 15 carries in five straight, the workload is surprisingly solid, and with four scores in his past four games, he's got a shot to get a fifth on Thanksgiving against a Lions team that has coughed up seven running back rushing scores in the past five games. ... The Bears' defense has allowed a running back to reach double-digit fantasy points in nine of 10 games this season. I say Jay Ajayi makes it 10 of 11 this week. ... After out-snapping C.J. Anderson in three straight games and with Paxton Lynch expected to be under center, Devontae Booker may be featured even more against a Raiders team that has allowed the fifth-most RB rushing yards this season and the third-most fantasy points to RBs the past four weeks. Booker is on the flex radar in 12-team or deeper leagues. ... It's more faith-based than anything, but the way you move the ball against Houston is by passing, not running, which should bode well for Danny Woodhead in his second game back. Now, the Texans are good against running backs in the passing game (fourth-fewest receiving yards to opposing running backs this season), but volume should keep Woodhead afloat here, as he played only 13 snaps last week but touched the ball on six of them. I'd expect an increased workload Monday night. ... Deeper-league fantasy managers can look at J.D. McKissic, who should get the majority of work, especially if Mike Davis can't go. San Fran allows the most receiving yards and is tied for the second-most receiving touchdowns allowed to running backs this season.
Running backs I hate in Week 12
Adrian Peterson, Cardinals: Peterson is averaging 1.57 yards per rush in his past two games. That is not a misprint: 1.57 yards. On 35 carries! And he has struggled when not facing bad run defenses. This week he gets the Jags, who are, in fact, the opposite of a bad defense. They are the No. 1 rushing defense and the No. 2 scoring defense, and they've allowed just 55 rushing yards per game since acquiring Marcell Dareus. Peterson might be lucky to get 55 yards in this one. Your only hope here is that Peterson falls into the end zone. No thanks.
Alex Collins, Ravens: He's averaging just 2.8 yards per carry in his past two games (on 33 carries), and now he faces the Texans, who haven't allowed a rushing touchdown to an opposing running back since Week 1. Since their Week 7 bye, Houston is giving up just 3.01 yards per rush, sixth lowest in the league. The Ravens are a home favorite, so maybe volume works in Collins' favor here, but my assumption is that Woodhead gets a lot more snaps after coming out of last week unscathed, while Collins is merely a touchdown-dependent flex in PPR leagues this week.
Joe Mixon, Bengals: So after Sunday's performance, Mixon is now last among 46 qualified RBs in yards per carry (2.91) this season. His most rushing yards in a game this season is 62. In fact, he hasn't reached 50 rushing yards in a game since Week 5. The Browns allow the second-fewest yards per rush to opposing RBs this year (3.15) and have allowed just two running back rushing scores since Week 4 (and only four total on the season). Yes, Leonard Fournette was good against them last week. Joe Mixon is not Leonard Fournette.
Wide receivers I love in Week 12
Adam Thielen, Vikings: An obvious name, but he makes the list because I have him as my No. 2 wideout this week, higher than most of the other rankers. The last time these two teams faced off, Stefon Diggs had the better game. I don't expect that to be the case this week, as the Lions have allowed the ninth-most passing yards to the slot since Week 4, and my expectation is that Darius Slay will shadow Diggs most of the time. Expect the Vikings to take some deep shots to Thielen, as he's tied with Brandin Cooks for the most deep (15-plus yards) receptions this season (Detroit can be beaten deep), and you know the volume will be there. The only guys with more targets than Thielen this season? DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, Jarvis Landry, Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant. Nice list to be on.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts: Hilton drives me nuts. The ultimate boom-or-bust guy, this year he's been much more bust than boom. I expect that to change on Sunday, however, against a Titans secondary that allows the fifth-most points to opposing wide receivers (and second-most points over the past four weeks). It's definitely a risk/reward play, because when he's bad, he's brutal. But at home, off the bye, I like his chances of at least one big play and a top-20 finish.
Mohamed Sanu, Falcons: Sanu has scored in three of his past four games, and this is a strong matchup for him against a Tampa Bay defense that allows the second-most slot yards per game and the most slot touchdowns.
Others receiving votes: Assuming Matt Moore starts for the Dolphins, I like Kenny Stills to continue his connection with the backup quarterback in a game in which Miami will have to throw to keep up with New England. ... The Packers are 25th against the pass and have allowed the fourth-most passing plays of 15-plus yards. Assuming the hammy issue clears up (I wrote this Tuesday night), JuJu Smith-Schuster is a solid flex for me this week. ... In the past four weeks, the Texans have allowed 24 receptions (five more than any other team) and 396 receiving yards (77 more than any other team) to opposing WRs lined up in the slot. I see you, Jeremy Maclin. ... We keep waiting for a Josh Doctson breakout game, and I think it has a good chance of happening on Thanksgiving night. The Giants allow the second-most deep passing touchdowns this season, and Doctson leads the Skins in deep targets ... There's a very good chance my tombstone reads, "Here lies Matthew Berry. He believed in Cooper Kupp." He drives me nuts, and the fumble last week on the way to the end zone didn't help. But here I am, back in, as he should see an increase in targets with Robert Woods on the shelf. Between Woods and Kupp, they have more than 70 percent of the Rams' WR red zone targets. He's on the flex radar in 12-team or deeper PPR leagues, especially if Kenny Vaccaro misses another game.
Wide receivers I hate in Week 12
Dez Bryant, Cowboys: Dez has less than 100 yards in every game this season and just one over 80 yards, and I expect him to get shadow coverage from Casey Hayward. You already know I'm a bit nervous about Dak in this game, and part of the reason is lack of expected production from Dez. The Chargers have allowed just two touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in their past five games and only four receptions on passes 15 yards or deeper in that same time frame, fewest in the league. You have to hope for a score or a bunch of dink-and-dunk stuff to Dez, which could certainly happen, it just doesn't appear likely based on this entire season. I have him just outside my top 20.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: Insert wide receiver facing the Jaguars here. The Jags have allowed the fewest receptions and receiving yards to slot receivers this year and are one of two teams yet to allow a touchdown to a WR lined up in the slot this season. In fact, in the past four games, they've allowed a TOTAL of nine receptions. Fitz is a Hall of Famer, but this column is about expectations, and it's easy to see why they are much lower this week than normal.
Marvin Jones Jr., Lions: With expected shadow coverage from Xavier Rhodes, Jones should have a quieter game than usual. He had just two receptions for 42 yards in the first meeting with Minnesota back in Week 4. The Vikings have not allowed a 100-yard receiver all season long, and since coming to the Lions, Jones has just seven receptions for 101 yards total in three games against the Vikes. Despite how hot he's been, he's outside my top 20.
Tight ends I love in Week 12
Evan Engram, Giants: Yeah, last week was ugly. It's about to get better. Since its Week 5 bye, Washington has allowed the most catches to opposing TEs and the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Don't get cute. Engram's an easy top-three play.
Vernon Davis, Redskins: Davis continues to crush it when Jordan Reed is out, and I expect Reed to miss Thursday night as well. Davis is leading all qualified tight ends in yards per reception (15.97) this season and has 30 targets over the past four weeks, third only to Travis Kelce and Jimmy Graham among TEs in that span. And as you may have heard, the Giants have given up a touchdown to a tight end in every game this season except last week, and even then, Kelce still had over 100 yards.
Others receiving votes: Death, taxes and start your tight ends against Cleveland. The Browns have given up the most receptions, second-most touchdowns and third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. Tyler Kroft, you're up. ... A sure sign of the apocalypse? I'm saying nice things about Jared Cook. Since their Week 5 bye, the Broncos are tied for the second-most catches, most receiving yards and tied for the most receiving touchdowns allowed to opposing TEs.
Tight ends I hate in Week 12
Jason Witten, Cowboys: With just two red zone targets the past four weeks, it's no wonder Witten hasn't scored in that time frame. In fact, he has just one touchdown in the past two months and is averaging less than 30 yards a game. With five or fewer targets in four of his past five, he is unlikely to get back on track against a Chargers team that has allowed just one tight end touchdown this entire season (Rob Gronkowski from 2 yards out). They are also top two in fewest points allowed to tight ends, top five in fewest receptions and top eight in fewest receiving yards.
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers: In each of the past three games (two with Ryan Fitzpatrick, one that was split between Jameis Winston and Fitzy), Brate has just one catch. Just a total of 10 targets, so there doesn't seem to be a connection with Fitzy. When Jimmy Graham got into the end zone last week against the Falcons, he was just the second tight end to do so against Atlanta this season. Brate is unlikely to have a big role in this one.
Defenses to stream in Week 12
Not a great list this week, but here's the best of the lot available in a bunch of leagues ...
New England Patriots (58 percent available): Don't look now, but the Patriots got it figured out. Averaging more than 10 points in their past three games, they are now at home against either Jay Cutler or Matt Moore.
Atlanta Falcons (81 percent available): Fitzmagic has been known to turn the ball over occasionally.
Matthew Berry, The Talented Mr. Roto, is thankful for many, many things this year, including all of his readers. Yes, even you. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, the founder of the Fantasy Life app and a paid spokesperson for DRAFT.