We're Back, Baby: GMRRFFA 2019 Pre- Pre-Season Power Rankings
Updated: Jun 17, 2019
Lost in the hubbub of a Game of Thrones survival pool and clever videos of what league mates have been up to in the offseason, the GMRRFFA Commissioner was busy preparing his favorite fantasy football competitors for the 4th season of Riff Raff football. Championship belts were delivered, websites are slowly being brought up to speed, draft dates set… all in order to celebrate what has become a modestly enjoyable fantasy football league masked in a commentary on societal woes.
But, its time – I’ve lived in the shadow of the Sausage King’s reign over the Riff Raff as champion for far too long (4 months is insufferable to be honest), and there’s nothing more fascinating than what lies ahead: a league with an assortment of bloated/depleted draft budgets, high-priced question marks as keepers, and an unanswerable question of whether this is Fredo Maisel’s year to be invited to the post-season.
What’s more? The Nicest Smile in the League proposed a rule change allowing for off-season trades, which seems all too rational until I remembered there was specific language allowing for FAAB dollars to be included in deals, which assures me that I’ll have to stay on top of trades for 8 months moving forward, instead of the four months of the 2018 season. Thanks Coop, you can promptly go to hell…
That deadline starts in earnest, just days from now on May 1st as all 14 teams will have the ability to shop those fancy expensive keepers for a better deal, and for that I’m excited and proud to tiptoe around the League’s non-existent tampering rules heading in to the trade season’s official opening in May.
This will be interesting… in a league that starts exactly at $300 for drafts, after 53 mind-blowing trades and countless draft dollars exchanged, the 14 owners average $301 to start the 2019 draft, which seems cool until you remove Smeet and Fredo’s starts from the equation. All of a sudden the remaining 12 teams average $274. In fact, 8 teams begin the 2019 season with $300 or less, making the upcoming draft all the more interesting.
As your Commissioner, I know you not only expect, but demand, analysis above and beyond the numbers, unlike scrub Twitter handles that incorporate ADPs and RoJos and Devys (2 of which I don’t know what they mean), so screw it.
I’m here for you – and there’s really nothing more exciting to discuss than a pre- pre-season 2019 Power Rankings of the 14 owners’ rosters plus their 2019 budgets. Fun fact! Unlike past rankings which I countdown to the best team(s), I thought it’d be more fun to start with number one – largely because I get very tired towards the tail end of power rankings and its more enjoyable to discuss competitively-constructed teams than Smeet’s. (SPOILER ALERT: This development is GREAT news for the Unicorn and Makese).
So, let’s roll with a 3,000 word pre-anything happening power rankings (just kidding its only 2,550 words), which allows for some much-desired distractions from the culture we so ardently discuss in Boy Chat…
#1 – The Sausage King (Budget: $245)
I know you’re surprised by this (or not, considering he’s the current belt holder), but just because I loathe the champ, doesn’t mean I don’t admire him. He’s short on cash, but guess what? He’s got two top-10 running backs for $82 locked up in 2019 (and 2020). CMC and James Conner actually cost less combined than the SK spent on Le’Veon Bell in 2018 ($92), which is essentially the impetus for not only the King's ranking but also the column… Before the Sausage King makes 48 trades in May that swap these two out for Chris Carson and Nyheim Hines (hey Jon, call me!), it has to be highlighted that this is a strong foundation (ala Garcia acquiring Alvin Kamara a $12 ’18 keeper in 2017 after the Sausage King cut him). We know the Vienna crew can be impulsive about making trades, but this starts him out strong, even if he’s left with a paltry $163 to field the remaining pieces of a team.
#2 – Tito Galen (Budget: $300)
I’m tempted to just copy what I wrote about this squad in 2018, but Tito Galen deserves some attention, even after a disappointing 2018 postseason finish. The pieces remain there – Davante Adams for $30 and Adam Thielen for $29 – and while the Kareem Hunt stuff from last season hurts, Tito Galen still has options in James White, Hunt, and even Lamar Miller for a 3rd keeper. The point is, the Big Gronkowski isn’t going anywhere in 2019. He may have a tougher go in 2020 when Adams and Thielen go away, but that’s an eternity away in the fantasy football world. For 2019, I’m resolved to say we need more of this:
#3 – Garcia (Budget: $242)
First, don’t @ me for this ranking, which I feel is all but appropriate. Like the Sausage King above, he has two top running backs (albeit a bit pricier) in Gurley ($78) and Zeke ($95). Obviously, keeping both of them plus say Travis Kelce ($54) would theoretically leave him with $15 (which would be awesome), but I don’t fault his All-or-Nothing 2018 strategy, when he came within a game of winning the championship. He has a ton of work ahead of him, but Garcia at least has the running backs to be competitive, unless one of them is caught by TMZ limping around at dinner or something…
#4 – Fredo Maisel (Budget: $498)
Kudos to Fredo for winning the LB6 title last season, and wow his budget is daunting. He’s legitimately the Boston Red Sox spending big in free agency hoping to win a championship against better-run, small market teams like the Yankees or Indians. Its unfortunate to get to this point, but Fredo’s position needs some serious review:
Can Fredo really spend the money? Every year, someone (usually and unsurprisingly Smeet) end the draft with cash on the table, thinking it’s a 401k they can roll over… there’s no doubt its Fredo (and Smeet) this year, largely because I’m not sure where the money is going to go...
Fredo has to keep Le’Veon Bell, right? Bell is $102 and a top-10 pre-season RB, Fredo has the cash and candidly, what else is he spending it on besides Bell? Answer: See Below…
Will Fredo and Smeet’s bidding war result in the first $150+ drafted player? The answer is yes – which of them blinks when Melvin Gordon – the lone top-10 RB likely to be available in the August draft – is the first player auctioned off in the draft? Both have to spend big for Gordon because running backs remain key (for example, Saquon Barkley being kept by FIL for $118 is a no-brainer).
Does Fredo’s bloated budget result in a championship? Look, it should, but I doubt it. Fredo has untold levels of pressure this fall: a new bambino en route; murmurs that ownership of his squad should be transferred to Mrs. Maisel (endorsed); getting over the post season hump, etc.
Seriously, he’s the only owner to be in the consolation bracket three years running, and he’s more focused on not blowing an illusive postseason berth than a title strategy. He’s surely overpaying for a large swath of the available players, starting with Bell who could – or easily could not be – a bust two years in a row on a Jets squad that more closely resembles a case of measles than a competent NFL franchise. More so, he has cheap keepers, but is anyone betting that Golloday or Mike Williams become consistent week-to-week studs? I’m ranking him fourth with the hope that the GMRRFFA experiment of trading future draft dollars is a success more than my faith in Fredo, because if it doesn’t work for Mr. Maisel, all my faith goes to Smeet, and that’s also highly ill-advised.
#5 – Mark Hutchinson (Budget: $225)
His controversial decision to nab Kamara for Maholmes and Chubb last year remains hotly-contested, but all told having a top RB at all (let alone for a still staggering $22) is obscene and should be illegal. That said, he has pieces, even if way overpriced, to make moves both in the off-season and when the 2019 season starts. Unfortunately, he’s a bit hamstrung with his budget but its tough to ignore a guy who’s made the playoffs three straight seasons, even if he’s a bit – off…
#6 – Smeet (Budget: $421)
I’m begrudgingly putting him here but I am not feeling confident – I discussed the bloated draft costs of players with Fredo in the mix, and it applies for our boy Smeet as well. Midway through 2018, when everyone understood his strategy of dumping 2018 for this coming year, Smeet’s plans were widely applauded, but have we spent a few minutes reviewing his roster? Marlon Mack at $21 is obvious, Derrius Guice needs to be healthy but the DC football team re-upped Adrian Peterson so maybe not, and how can one trust Tyler Boyd in the Bengals’ offense. Six months ago, Smeet definitely felt like a contender, but like most teams from here on out, there’s a ton of “Ifs.”
#7 – Stabs (Budget: $307)His decisions are pretty straight forward honestly – keep Maholmes ($16!!!!!!!), Chubb ($27) and probably Tarik Cohen ($39, gulp), but Chubb’s 2nd half of 2019 seems murky with Kareem Hunt in the picture and I should assure folks the Bears’ offense is nothing if not unstable. With nothing more to say about Stabs and being half way through the rankings, let's take a break and watch this:
#8 – FIL (Budget: $264)After a data-driven run to the post-season last year, FIL has some work to do. He’s short on cash, and most likely will have the most expensive keeper in Saquon Barkley at $118. The number may seem staggering – it is 44% of his budget – but honestly Fredo and Smeet would probably both spend $200 on the highest-rated running back heading in to 2019. For FIL, there simply is no other choice. His roster doesn’t have a ton of players screaming “Asset” beyond Barkley, and the open market would surely be more difficult to find a back. He has a few pieces – Robert Woods for $22 and maybe even Duke Johnson when he finds a new home – but 2019 is going to be the same for FIL as 2018: the Saquon Barkley show… the Giants’ back scored 400 points in the season (statistically tied with CMC), posted less than 20 just three times and finished number 1 at his position. #9 – Toby Kobach (Budget: $325)
I’m presuming a lot of you aren’t following Fantasy Football Twitter like the illustrious Commish, but some oddity surrounding Phillip Lindsey’s value keeps popping up, which is sort of bizarre in my estimation, even with his late injury last season. For example, I saw a Twitter poll (which are the worst) suggesting the choice between Lindsey and Royce Freeman was somewhere in the 55/45 split. Toby finds himself in decent shape – presuming he’s healthy, Lindsey is a strong $10 keeper while Toby’s man-crush, Juju Smith-Schuster at $20 is incredibly appealing (despite the Commish’s stealth sabotage efforts in Boy Chat). Its too early to tell if Juju is a top-10 WR but he could be. Meanwhile, in bizarre fantasy football Twitter again, people are sky high on Chris Godwin, a $12 keeper for Toby, none of which I truly understand. Toby does have to choose between Godwin or $15 Aaron Jones, but its an enviable position, even if none are homerun hitters just yet.
#10 – The Commish (Budget: $364)
After my marvelous offloading last season turned in to an ill-advised post-season berth, the Commish finds himself in decent shape ahead of 2019. The $32 Michael Thomas is the foundation of my season, but I’m secretly excited for the return of Cooper Kupp ($27 keeper value). Why you ask? In 7 games last season, Kupp amassed 40 catches (on 55 targets), 566 yards and 6 touchdowns, or 134 fantasy points, and a top-15 player in just his second year. Meanwhile, maybe Fredo can attest to this, but Jared Goff’s numbers in 2018:
With Kupp: 315 yards per game and 2.5 touchdowns
Without Kupp: 250 yards per game and 1.6 touchdowns
Pretty stark contrast, but then let’s remove Goff’s stats from the epic 54-51 MNF game against Kansas City without Kupp… 208 yards per game and 1.3 touchdowns. Its pretty astounding so yea, I’m excited for a guy I traded Derrick Henry for over Thanksgiving to get back on the field.
That said, even with Baker Mayfield, a #1 WR potentially in Cortland Sutton (that fantasy football Twitter again inexplicably loves), and a surprisingly inexpensive Chris Carson, I can’t say with a straight face I’m any where near the legit threats to usurp the Sausage King’s reign of terror.
#11 – Carlos (Budget: $225)
Its never good when your lone obvious keeper has domestic violence ties in the off-season. Then again, it’s the NFL so Tyreek Hill will probably miss two pre-season games and Carlos will be comforted knowing its not season-ending for the Denver ponyboys. That said, Carlos has some expensive choices ahead – Mike Evans for $95, TY Hilton for $66, Zach Ertz for $39 – and a tight budget to go along with that. I’m predicting a Hill/Fournette/Evans trio, leaving him completely unable to draft anyone and owing the league $7… well played BIL.
But also, how'd you get so grey? You're the only guy keeping the league's average age below 45???
#12 – Coop (Budget: $225)Smiles don’t win championships. Coop has to keep Dalvin Cook at $61 and hope he performs like a top-10 RB for a season (though there’s no indication he will) and Calvin Ridley for $14 (great pick by the way), but after that, he has some tough choices coupled with a tight budget… presumably, with Cook and Ridley depleting his budget to $150, can he really splurge on keeping Diggs? Not entirely sure, but the good news is Coop has a discounted Stephen Gostowski on his roster...
#13 – Makese (Budget: $225)
Confession: At the time of this writing, I bumped Makese to 13 because there’s no way I’m making a Gostowski keeper reference without mentioning Team Motley immediately afterwards. Even without the opportunity (for now) to keep Gostowski, Makese’s squad is… how do I say this… a mess. He’s keeping Joe Mixon and Sony Michel for a combined $80, both no-brainers but on teams with massive question marks about how the RBs will be utilized, but then, look at some of his options:
Big Ben ($30)
Josh Gordon ($11)
LeSean McCoy ($86!!!)
Derrick Henry ($34)
Doug Baldwin ($58)
So yea, he’s keeping Jarod Cook for $11 but my point is, if this team made the playoffs last year, how the hell has Fredo missed it three straight years?
#14 (actually #13) – The Unicorn (Budget: $344)
This seems to be unfair piling on the Unicorn – but the facts don’t lie. His two big keepers have had pretty bad off-seasons. First, the injured Kerryon Johnson ($21) is sharing the backfield with CJ Anderson and Theo Riddick (jokes aside, Riddick saw 61 catches and totaled 555 total yards last year), both of whom will undoubtedly cut in to Johnson’s fantasy impact. Meanwhile, the Gus Bus was the starter until he wasn’t, with the Ravens signing Mark Ingram. Certainly, he’ll get touches, but that’s a crowded backfield with a running quarterback and 8 defenders in the box. Otherwise, Tyler Lockett should improve this season, but the Unicorn’s options are more baron than Donald Trump’s moral code of conduct, so yea, good luck buddy.
That’s where we are just two weeks before the season commences – a lot of action still to come, including division selections and the Sausage King’s decision as to which owner he wants in the opposite division. Good luck and get ready.