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What I Learned 2023

Time to wrap up another season.

No matter how my fantasy season goes, I always learn a few things. Here’s what I’ll take with me into the offseason:

I learned that the refs can get it right and get it wrong at the same time. Yes, it was technically defensive holding at the end of the game. But it wasn’t egregious, and they let players play through that kind of foul all the time. In a tie game at the end of the Super Bowl, I think you let them play.

I learned that the version of Lady Luck that governs Super Bowl squares is fickle and vindictive. Harrison Butker misses a field goal in the first quarter. The Eagles score one play into the second quarter instead of at the end of the first. Philadelphia not getting a chance to tie the game or take the lead. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars changed hands on each of those plays? Square drama is now an annual tradition.

I learned that Super Bowl commercials aren’t the event they used to be. The one with Will Ferrell and the Breaking Bad one were the only standouts for me, and I don’t really remember what they were advertising. Cars and chips, I think. No idea what the brands were. Good job, guys!

I learned that Philly fans will boo literally anything. I get that Dak Prescott plays for a division rival, and that it’s the Cowboys. But the guy won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. The one for philanthropy. And he got booed from start to finish. Come on, guys.

I learned that flag football isn’t that bad. Most of the Pro Bowl Games were pretty lame, but I have to admit that I enjoyed some of the flag football part. The players seemed to really try (especially Jalen Ramsey, who leveled Tyreek Hill for some reason) and it was a fun time. I hope they build around it and make the rest watchable.

I learned that everything can change for a quarterback with just one good year. Daniel Jones is looking at a possible extension that could pay him north of $30 million a year. He might not actually get that, but the fact that it’s even being discussed shows how much value a quarterback can build for themselves in just one season.

I learned that everything can change for a kicker with one bad game. I understand that Brett Maher was historically bad against the Buccaneers, but he’ll be looking for work after a strong regular season. Even if he lands another job, and that isn’t guaranteed, he’ll be on a short leash for the rest of his career. That’s a harsh penalty for one bad game that didn’t cost the team anything. I hope he turns it around.

I learned that Justin Herbert is probably a little worse of a fantasy quarterback than I expected but a little better in real life than I expected. He fractured rib cartilage early in the season and needs surgery on his left shoulder. Total games missed: Zero. Maybe the injuries slowed down his fantasy production and he’ll be better next season, but I know the guy plays hurt and keeps his team competitive. He might not win you your league, but the Chargers found a winner in the 2020 draft.

I learned that Justin Fields is the opposite of Herbert: Better at fantasy than expected but not as good in real life. I understand the team gave him very little to work with, and you can’t evaluate him fairly until he has a better shot at competing. But Fields lost his last eight starts, and even when he was running like crazy, they weren’t particularly competitive. I won’t make judgments about his future until the Bears give him better weapons, but as of right now Fields is a dangerous running quarterback, and that’s about it.

I learned that Sean McVay doesn’t put his players in harm’s way unless it really matters. He’s notorious for not playing starters in meaningless preseason games, and when the season was slipping away, he didn’t rush anybody back from injury. It’s probably a smarter philosophy than Chargers coach Brandon Staley employs, since he lost Mike Williams in a meaningless game at the end of the season. You think the team could have used Williams to keep the chains moving when the Jaguars were coming back against them in the playoffs? Me too.

I learned that employment in the NFL is different than anywhere else. Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore left the team on a Sunday and was hired by the Chargers the next day. Meanwhile, Kliff Kingsbury was canned from the Cardinals and promptly boarded a plane for Thailand with five years of guaranteed paychecks in his future. Kingsbury might end up doing something for the Texans, or he might find another country to visit. Or he might join the coaching carousel and bounce from team to team every couple years like so many coaches do. But it’s weird to see the same names pop up as exciting new coordinator hires right after they let a city down as head coach.

I learned that sometimes less is more. I played in just one fantasy league this past season. It was refreshing not to root for a player in two leagues but against him in three more, and not care either way in a couple others. I managed one team and rode the ups and downs with their season, and it was a lot of fun. The truth is that managing a truckload of teams is more exhausting than exhilarating, and feels more like a job than a hobby at different points during the year. I think it’s better to invest your time in fewer teams, and not split your rooting interests across so many lineups. I might look to add a league for the upcoming season, but I doubt I’ll ever play in more than three leagues again. Reducing the number teams can increase the amount of fun you have. Give it some thought.

I hope you learned some things as well. And now you can take a break and enjoy other things, like hockey, the XFL, the USFL, and season three of The Mandalorian. As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the summer time.

What did you think of the Super Bowl? What did you learn this season? Share your thoughts below.

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