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Let me set the scene for you.

At this moment, I’m riding the Amtrack Pacific Coast Starlight train through the darkest and most desolate parts of California. I was supposed to be on my way to an anime convention days ago, but smoke from the Carr Fires grounded my flight out of Medford—so now I’m here, in the dark, the only light coming from my computer screen and my only company, the sorrowful train whistle. Yes, it’s time for some man tears.

If you’ve been playing fantasy football for as long as I have, it’s hard not to form emotional attachments to players—players who won it for you, who lost it for you, who beat you badly or surpassed your expectations. I want to tell you now, that it’s okay.

There’s nothing wrong with feelings—they are a vital and uniquely personal part of the process of building a fantasy roster and an understandable part of falling short. It’s important to be in touch with emotions and it’s okay to cry. These are some of the NFL players who’ve hurt me in the past or left me high and dry, just when I thought things were going well. Learn from my pain. Beware the treacherous fantasy player, otherwise it might be you crying on these guys next year.

Grassy’s Fantasy Football Draft Guide 2018 (Cry On)

Players I Cry On

Randall Cobb, WR (GB)

There was a time when Cobb was an absolute force of nature; when Aaron Rodgers seemed to have an almost telepathic link to his favorite wide receiver, telling him when to break on the deep post and just where the ball had to be in the back corner of the end zone. Do you remember that time? I do, because some of his best weeks were against me.

Then, two years ago, I’d had enough! “If you can’t beat ‘em, draft ‘em,” I thought and grossly overpaid in a very competitive auction draft for the Cobb who’d seemed to have lost the magic.

Last year, when his stock had plummeted, I tried to move forward, taking him late and hoping that he could still be that guy who split double-coverage at the seams. Alas, even at a bargain, Cobb proved to be a disappointment as Davante Adams rose to prominence. Even now, part of me wants to believe that there’s upside there, that Rodgers is back to form and that chemistry can reignite—but I’ve been hurt too often. It’s my heart that wants to believe in Cobb, not my brain. Draft him, if you can get a deal, go ahead—just be sure to buy stock in Kleenex.

Alex Smith, QB (Wash)

As a lifelong 49ers fan, I’ve shed plenty of tears over Alex Smith when he was supposed to be “our guy,” and we drafted him (inexplicably) ahead of hometown hero Aaron Rodgers. I watched him get shuttled along from offensive coordinator to offensive coordinator, like some kind of cheap date.

I heard his detractors call him a “game manager” with chuckles in their voices—but Alex showed them all. Following in the footsteps of Joe Montana, the GOAT, Smith left a 49ers team that no longer believed in him—only to find redemption in Kansas City.

Finally, he was at home in a stable offense. Finally, he was putting up numbers that could compare even with the best. Finally, he had stability and a system that fit his style and weapons placed around him! Finally! Except, it wasn’t final. He became a shiny object for teams in search of answers (even bad answers) and cashed in this offseason, moving to Washington, to be their shining hope. Except, high expectations and a new offense are not things that Smith has dealt with well in his career. It was stability that made him such a force. Now that that’s gone, I can only foresee more tears in his future.

Le’Veon Bell, RB (Pit)

Shocker! I know. He’s been consistently one of the very best at his position for two years running, despite not playing 16 games either season. What’s to cry about? The tears are for the realities of the game—yes, it keeps getting safer, but not for bull-necked, between-the-tackles guys like Bell. The reason he’s been able to achieve those numbers in spite of being limited by injuries and suspensions is frequency.

When Bell is an option, it’s hard to find reasons not to give him the ball, but nobody lives forever. Bell had over 400 touches each of the last two years and history dictates that backs who shoulder a workload that large (even over 16 games) don’t have long careers. He’s got all the tools, except for invulnerability and if you draft him first overall, he may leave you feeling vulnerable too.

Jimmy Graham, TE (GB)

Just when it seemed like things were looking up for Jimmy in Seattle, they ship him off to the frozen north like a disobedient police detective whose chief is getting “too old for this shit.” I’m not saying you’re wrong for being excited to see what the box-out king can do with Rodgers throwing him the ball—but Graham has been privileged to enjoy stellar quarterback play throughout his career.

The worst year of his entire career was his first season with the Seahawks, and on a team now with even more weapons and a new signal-caller to develop chemistry with, I think Graham may find out what temperature tears freeze at in 2018.

Save the “boo’s” I’m through boohooing. I only hope that you can learn from my pain and avoid your own mournful lamentations. Because high hopes can turn to low numbers quicker than you think.

Now, let’s all go dry our eyes.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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