Most years, fantasy football requires a lot of speculation. You see new teammates or a new system working together and you try to figure out which guys will excel, providing good value on draft day.
So what do you do when those players haven't had any game simulations together at all? How do you know which system seems to be working, which coaches have a good feel for their players and which guys look comfortable on a new team? How can you make up for that lack of information and still pick the winners in these new collaborations?
Unfortunately, if there are answers to those questions I don't really know what they are. More guessing? Try to project a player's track record with a previous team onto a new scenario? Look at what worked for a coach on a different team and assume it will work with a new group of talent? Did I already say more guessing?
Many fantasy players will do those things and have great success with them. Many others will fail spectacularly. For me, I'll try to avoid the whole thing altogether. As much as possible, anyway.
How will Joe Burrow perform in his rookie season? I have no idea, and will probably let someone else find out. Is David Johnson going to reclaim fantasy relevance in Houston? If he does, it probably won't be on any of my teams. With less information in 2020, I'm going to try and recycle information from 2019.
I don't mean I'm simply going to try and get parts of the Kansas City and New Orleans offenses on my fantasy teams, and pat myself on the back for such an impressive strategy. My sister knows that much about fantasy football, and she doesn't even exist. I mean there are teams with good offenses that don't get to play every January who are worth considering, if for no other reason than you already know what they can do.
Take Detroit, for example. Same head coach and offensive coordinator. Same receivers. Same quarterback (a little guesswork here, but Matthew Stafford should be healthy after missing most of last season). The Lions aren't a great team, so good chance they'll be behind a good amount. They were playing well when Stafford was behind center in 2019, and little has changed at key positions. And the changes they have made (adding D'Andre Swift) shouldn't hurt the passing game's prospects any. I'd rather go with these guys than take a stab at similarly-ranked unknowns.
Same with Atlanta. Like Detroit, no changes at head coach or offensive coordinator. Matt Ryan is still there, as is Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Losing Austin Hooper might make them better statistically, and whatever gas is left in the tank for Todd Gurley should be an improvement over last season's run game. I'll take some Falcons over other question marks.
Other teams with a decent amount of consistency include Green Bay, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas. I'm not saying that you target players from these clubs over everyone else. But when comparing options, I'm giving an advantage to the teams that are mostly intact from 2019. They don't need to see if the system works, or if the skill players work well together. They don't need preseason contests to get to know each other in a game situation. They aren't starting a rookie behind center, or changing team chemistry with a new top receiver. They aren't bringing a new offensive philosophy to the franchise. Those changes could be great for a team, of course. But it adds more uncertainty in an offseason already overflowing with it.
Let's say that a new coach's gameplan will be great for their new team, or a personnel change is going to pay off. When exactly would that happen? Considering the missed time working together and the inexperience of some players, it could be several weeks into the season. If you're sitting at 1-4, how confident will you be that a turnaround is right around the corner? What if it takes half the year? Will the coaches themselves be willing to wait it out? Will ownership? The NFL is not known for its patience, and it can be even worse in fantasy football. "Win now" means this year, or even this week. Nobody wants to wait several games to see their hunches pay off.
Like I said, some fantasy players will play a hunch with a new combination, and it could earn them a title. If you feel especially good about a quarterback, running back or receiver on a new team (DeAndre Hopkins comes to mind), I encourage you to go with your gut. But I'm pretty sure you won't hit on all of your hunches, so it might be wise to sprinkle in starters from teams with fewer question marks. A little stability might be very valuable, especially this year.
Are you giving extra consideration to teams with few changes from last year, or are you more excited about new combinations teams will have this season? Who looks good to you in those circumstances? Share your thoughts below.