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How I Finished in Last Place in 2023 BSA Fantasy

By: Arvind Kalyan

Source: AP Photo

There are only a handful of things more ignominious than finishing last in a fantasy football league. One of those few, unfortunately, is finishing in last place in a fantasy football league as the president of your sports analytics club. 

I’ll come to my own defense just once, and never again, in this article. While the standings say 12th place out of 12, I was not 12th place in points scored (I was 10th) and I was not 12th place in the regular season standings (I was 11th). See, it’s not so bad! 

Fantasy experts seem pretty split on if championship teams are built by nailing early picks, by unearthing sleepers, or by being a shark on waivers. What I can tell you is that last-place teams are built by doing absolutely none of those things. Here’s a look at everything that the aptly-named team “Straight Trash” did wrong in 2023. 

Doing Fantasy in the First Place

My first misstep was doing fantasy football in the first place — these stupidly deep leagues, especially. What if I could just watch a Colts Titans game on a Thursday night without having to worry whether the 2nd or 3rd string running back gets that third-down touch? Or, what if I just didn’t have to watch Colts Titans in the first place? Why the hell is DeMario Douglas on my team? 


ESPN released a list of the 50 most commonly rostered players on teams that won their leagues. Of those 50, I drafted two. Here are some of the worst of the worst. 

Round 1, Pick 4: WR Ja’Marr Chase

This pick wasn’t terrible, especially considering the carnage that came around it in the first round. Still, Chase finished as the WR13 in per-game and total scoring and never came close to returning value as the 4th overall pick. Tyreek Hill, fantasy WR2, went three picks later. If the first pick is about setting the tone, I did whatever the opposite of that is. 

Round 4, Pick 45: RB Rhamondre Stevenson

Stevenson finished as RB35, in part, because he missed the last five games of the season. He finished as an equally unimpressive RB26 in per-game scoring because his rushing efficiency fell to the lowest mark of his career. He was de-emphasized a bit in the passing game, garnering one fewer target per game than 2022. Even while Stevenson was healthy, Ezekiel Elliott had an uncomfortable amount of carries and targets. What makes this hurt the most: Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker went two picks later. 

Round 5, Pick 52: WR Mike Williams

“Fool me once, shame on… shame on you” - J. Cole

” - George W. Bush

Round 5, Pick 69: RB Cam Akers


Akers’s late-season heroics in 2022, where he finished as the RB6 from Weeks 11 to 18, laid a trap. I fell right into it. Maybe I should have been more wary of the Achilles tear, or the fact that the Rams were trying to trade him last year. Either way, this was one of the worst picks I could have possibly made. Of all players with at least Akers’s 60 attempts, his 2.8 yards per rush was dead last. He got cut, finished as the RB66, never had a week with more than 10 points, and rushed for fewer yards than Chase Edmonds… in 2024. Isiah Pacheco also went one pick later. 

Round 7/8: WRs Jahan Dotson & Jaxson Smith-Njigba

I’m bundling these into one category of those promising young wide receivers I piled up because, surely, all of them can’t be busts. 

Dotson had an extremely inefficient year, finishing 145th in yards per route run at 0.82 and never really finding his footing in the Commanders receiving hierarchy. His target share dropped in 2023, as Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel both topped his 83 targets and even Logan Thomas finished right behind him. Those metrics get even more concerning when you consider the fact that Sam Howell had the 4th-most passing attempts in the league. 

Smith-Njigba also finished third on his team in targets behind D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, which, again, probably should have been more obvious pre-draft. Geno Smith also took a small step back, missing time and passing for fewer yards. In and around these guys, I could have chosen Raheem Mostert, Michael Pittman Jr, Jordan Addison, Brian Robinson, and Zay Flowers. Instead, I got WR56 and WR48 to fill my FLEX spots. 

Round 9: RB Antonio Gibson

“More shares of that Washington offense!” - me, stupidly. 

Round 11/12: RBs Elijah Mitchell & Tank Bigsby

Christian McCaffrey stayed both very good and very healthy, relegating Mitchell to “white flag” duties as the 49ers’ garbage time running back. I thought Travis Etienne Jr’s potential fumble issues and goal-line struggles would make Bigsby into a somewhat-viable fantasy option. Etienne subsequently went from 5 fumbles to 0 in 2023 and took 74.5% of Jacksonville’s red-zone carries. More importantly, Bigsby was terrible. 2.6 yards per rush put him in, well, Cam Akers territory. 

I’m not sure what to make of my process here. On one hand, it was probably pretty stupid to bet against backs as good as McCaffrey and Etienne. On the other, those two guys have dealt with plenty of injuries in the past. Either way, the handcuffs stayed locked.

Round 16: K Cameron Dicker

The real reason for my team’s struggles: I drafted two Chargers. I really didn’t have to either — fellow software engineer Brandon Aubrey was right there for the taking. Instead, I ended up with dudes who play for the biggest losers in the NFL. How did I ever expect to create a winning culture for my team? How did I ever expect to avoid last place? If I would’ve taken someone who doesn’t play for the Chargers, who knows? Maybe Jamarr Chase doesn’t struggle, and Cam Akers remembers how to rush the football, and Jahan Dotson doesn’t have a sophomore slump, and Jaxson Smith-Njigba out-targets two Pro Bowl receivers, and Antonio Gibson becomes the player he was supposed to be four years ago, and Tank Bigsby also remembers how to rush the football, and Mike Williams stays healt– yeah, never mind. 

Waivers/Free Agency

Waivers in this league were the reverse of league standings each week, so I had #1 waiver priority the whole time. The two weeks I didn’t have top priority were Week 1, when I lost a claim on Kyren Williams, and Week 3, when I lost a claim on De’Von Achane. 

My first successful waiver claim was for Joshua Palmer, who was solid until getting hurt and missing half the season. My second claim was for Gus Edwards, who finished as RB25 and actually gave me some pretty good weeks. By this point, though, desperation set in. Here are the players I wasted waiver claims on in the subsequent weeks: Emari Demercado, Zach Evans, and Zack Moss (in Week 13, after he’d already had his good stretch). At some point, I gave up on my season and let the waivers run dry. The only meaningful player I got through free agency was Chuba Hubbard, but I cut him after Week 2. 


You know that saying about shuffling the chairs on the Titanic?




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