In my downtime during the fantasy football off-season, I spent time doing two things: the first was admiring pictures of Joey Browner for my RazzBowl team. The second was learning a game that is less complex than fantasy football: chess. At least with chess you can have some sort of agency with your pawns instead of praying Derrick Gore pulls off 100 yards and 3 TDs to get you into the fantasy playoffs. But fantasy football and chess have an important factor in common: how you open the game will dramatically affect the outcome of the match (or league or tournament or cosmic championship). Let’s think about the ways you can open your draft, and then locate the players who will complement your openings. 

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[cue tympani drums followed by John Williams-style brass] Ta dah! It’s the 2022 RazzBowl! This year, we’ve got more Razz than ever, mostly because I’ve been eating nothing but lasagna since we last talked. What have I learned in the past eight months, other than how to order my pants size in “Extra Grande”? Glad you asked! Time for me to enlighten, illuminate, and thrill you to tears with my annual RazzBowl Guidebook! 

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It’s that awkward time of the year where us football writers scatter to distant lands, such as “baseball land” and “Branson.” But before I head out for the spring/summer, I wanted to do one of those montage scenes where we check out all of our favorite Razzball writer’s bold preseason predictions…and find out who is the boldest and who is the most accurate! 

For reference, here’s the original article, where our writer Skorish asked us to try and make bold yet reasonably possible predictions about the year. 

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It’s been a ride, folx. Some of you, you’re here because of completionism. You stopped by every other week and ya just gotta finish out the season, even though you’re out of the playoffs now. Others — you’re still fighting for the championship. What can I say — if you show up, I’m here to help. So let’s jump in and see what we can do to help you bring home the trophy. 

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Welcome to the edition of the Primer…I mean Game Day…I mean, Prime Day! Sure, that won’t infringe any copyrights. Welcome to Razzball Prime Day, brought to you by soft pillows and marshmallows. We’re in one of the weirdest finishes to  a fantasy football season that we’ve ever seen, and I’ve been fantasy footballering since the newspaper days. And, to be entirely honest, this is my first time in my fantasy sports writing career where I honestly don’t know what to write. The number of players being held out of games this week is staggering; last week over 100 personnel missed games and 3 games were rescheduled. So, rather than do my usual primer spiel, I think it’s more productive to keep this post up for a longer time period and offer my question answering services for a longer period of time. 

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We’ve told you this before, and we’ll tell it to you again here: the best projection systems are accurate on the best players about 35-45% of the time, depending on various factors like slate size, injuries, weather, and proximity to unsanitary gas station food sources. When people say that “fantasy football is just luck,” well, they’re wrong. Fantasy football is about educated guesses, really. Just like there was no real reason that GameStop and Doge Coin should have been making people millionaires earlier this year, they nonetheless did make people rich. People are able to make educated guesses about the trends of chaos and say, “The risk of this commodity meets my expectation for value, so I’ll take the risk.” That’s basically what fantasy sports are all about: what player will you draft at what position, and how much value will they bring your team? And as much as we analysts like to say that we are certain about stuff, the truth is that the more uncertain and skeptical the analyst is, the more likely they are to be reliable over the long term. Analysts tell themselves all sorts of narratives in all sorts of ways to prepare for each week of fantasy sports: Rudy Gamble uses snap count data, I tend to consider how likely a player is to end up in a favorable game script, and Donkey Teeth considers how a player looks without their shirt on. And in a week like this — Week 15 of 2021 fantasy football for the SEO record — we find ourselves in a world of massive underdog narratives that make no analytical sense to predict at the beginning of the season. Craig Reynolds — a guy who went undrafted and for three years was unable to crack even the practice squad of teams that didn’t have running backs — put up 112 yards rushing as the Lions triumphed over the Cardinals and gained their second win of the year (not season…year). Aight, this paragraph is getting long. You get the point: the impossible was possible tonight. Tonight. (Now you’re singing it in your head, I bet) Let’s check out the rest of the players that you probably didn’t start unless you were in a 50,000 person DFS contest. 

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I stand alone and atop a pedestal, the raging, salty ocean of fantasy footballers seething below me. Formless and shapeless yet their psychic terror is expressed in the rage of a tweet sent into the ethereal server in a room of Somewhere, USA. Yet at the center, there is always me, tall with small pores and a magnetic smile — a cross between Brad Pitt and Jared Leto — holding the “Okayest Fantasy Footballer” award that has been bestowed upon me by the corporate sponsors of Feetballs dot com. I smile as I gaze upon the teeming masses, their faces angry and contorted from two straight years of disappointment from Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley. I never drafted 1.01. I was never the bride, only the well-dressed wedding guest that — you guessed it — could eat 5 plates of buffet food and down 12 drinks without making a mess of myself. I’m everything you’ve ever hated. Come and get me. Take the trophy from my hands and declare yourself “Okayest Footballer” in your zip code. Your parents will write letters. Your neighbors will invite you over for brats. Other people you’ve never met on the internet will validate you. You are the champion. This is your destiny. Come, come and take it from me. 

Motivated? Yeah, me neither. Let’s talk some random players who might help you not lose in the first round of the fantasy football playoffs. 

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A decade ago, Michael Burry started posting his investment ideas on Reddit. He believed the housing market was in a bubble and ultimately shorted the housing market for a gain of over a billion dollars. This week, our dear commenter William Hung wondered if Rashaad Penny should be the waiver wire add of the week. Penny, I hear you thinking. Yeah, he’s been around the block, bypassed by Chris Carson, Alex Collins, Mike Davis, and basically every other semi-productive Seahawks RB in the past few years. With the likes of Russell Wilson finding their steam in the late season, it’s opened up the field for players like Penny who pay homage to Dicey, the God of Variance. Dicey is a generous yet vengeful god, one of the old souls from the chaotic beginnings of the universe. This week, Penny accumulated more yards on the ground than he had accumulated in the previous two seasons combined. Should you have started Rashaad Penny? Nah, just like you shouldn’t have ordered the sushi on Monday morning. But sometimes, the supply chain is running unusually smooth, or a team might be so focused on stopping somebody like D.K. Metcalf, that somebody like Penny can step in and earn another year on their contract with a wildly successful performance. Let’s see what else happened on Sunday for Week 14 of fantasy football: 

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So, uh, this is how it ends for some of us, right? Today’s the day? Maybe tomorrow? I mean, it’s playoff season. Some of you aren’t going to make it past today, you big damn heroes. You tried for weeks and weeks, months and months, and now you’re left with nothing but gas station nacho cheese sauce in your mouth. [holds back tears] It was nice having you. You’ll remember the time we started Chester Rogers as WR1, right? [thousand mile stare] And Toevid, we’ll always have Toevid, right? [clears throat] I, uh, I didn’t think I’d get this emotional. But, let’s think about the future — the brightness of playoff teams hoping for Cam Newton to run for 2 TDs, or the prayers for Zach Wilson to hit Jamison Crowder deep in the endzone. The animal sacrifices being made to keep Jonathan Taylor’s knees healthy for 4 more matchups. [sniffs] Ah, now I’m back in the holiday spirit. Let’s see if we can’t keep your teams on track with a little bit of Razzball magic: 

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Ah, week 14 — we are fully into the second trimester of making that fantasy football championship baby. Or something like that. Fantasy football is often called the imaginary sports management game where luck plays the biggest role — there are so few games and the season is over so quickly that even the best laid plans crash to the ground and never recover. Kind of like my idea for a Kentucky Fried Chicken cryptocurrency. ENYWHEY. If we were creating a life form, like some sort of quasi-intelligent football being named “Brad” that pumped nacho cheese through his veins and was born with a Chargers logo on his head, we’d be six weeks from calling Brad a viable embryo. Yet here we are, prepping for the fantasy football playoffs already. Sorry Brad — this whole season is gonna be wrapped up before you can show us that your nacho cheese-powered body is in the best shape of your nascent life and ready to play running back for the Seahawks. 

Let’s see if we can do anything to help your fantasy teams this week! 

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There’s a certain je ne sais quoi to alternative styles of football. There’s the charm of the ol’ hook-and-ladder, which invariably works in those games against Uncle Rich that take place after he sobers up from the noon Thanksgiving slate. There’s the Statue of Liberty play, known as the go-to trick play for every blue, white, and red-blooded upstate New Yawker who still wear their high school letter jacket (and no, they didn’t letter in football). There’s the Cleveland Steamer, famous amongst Odell Beckham Jr. for…reasons. 

And then there’s the “Dead Arm,” when the team simply…doesn’t pass the ball. 

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I’ve never really been a gardener. Sure, I’ve cultivated a trio of kids and seen them through school and a pandemic and managed to throw my back out only minimally while doing so. But plants? Those things are hard. Kids grow up to move around and make their own choices and watch Avatar: The Last Airbender like you still want to do at age 40. But plants (part deux)? They just grow where they’re planted. My neighbor has hostas that he just walks the lawnmower over like it’s a horror movie. But sometimes, he gets generous and tears a couple out and leaves them out for some neighbor to transplant. The last time I tried to transplant some grapes from my best friend’s ancestral home in Central Europe, I killed them in a month. Sometimes organisms just aren’t meant to move. But this week, we saw our good friend Gardner Minshew make his Philadelphia Eagles debut in relief of Jalen Hurts. Jalen, who was…hurt… has been an exciting fantasy QB all year due to his proclivity to just air the dang ball into the air like he was being sponsored by Space X’s telemetry tracking systems. Now that former Jags’ QB Gardner Minshew gets to step in for a bit, we saw another exciting performance for fantasy managers lucky enough to risk their teams on The Constant Gardner. 

Let’s recap the Sunday games for Week 13 of fantasy football. 

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