“This game’s over.”

That was my tweet at 7:44 PM EST Super Bowl Sunday as the Falcons pulled out to a 21-0 lead.

I’m not that naïve/stupid enough to truly believe the game was 100% over, but that was my way of saying the Pats were in big, big trouble. And when the Falcons scored another TD in the third quarter, still confident in my position, I tweeted the following:

“This game’s still over.”

In case you missed it, the game was not over.

Granted, making bold NFL predictions is a hobby of mine, and it took arguably the greatest comeback in NFL history for me to be wrong, but I was taught yet another lesson in Super Bowl 51, as my continuing education of the National Football League rolls through its third decade. Honestly, I wasn’t that surprised to be proven wrong because it was not only the NFL in play, it was the Patriots. I’ve long said that there’s a correlation between their dominance against opponents and my inability to consistently project and predict what they will do. If I ever get to the point at which I’m able to accurately predict how the Patriots will play – their RB usage, their run-pass ratio, how they use their DBs, etc. – then I can probably stop writing this article every year because I’ll have solved the NFL’s Rubik’s Cube.   

But don’t worry; you can count on this essay every February because I’ll never manage to consistently anticipate how the Patriots will roll, and I’ll never stop being wrong in my NFL evaluations and fantasy predictions. The best I can do is learn from every mistake I make and try to make fewer of them, and that’s what this article is about each year.

2016 was actually a good year, as the league cooperated a little more than usual by being a little more predictable. But even though things were a little easier this past year, I still learned plenty of lessons that I believe will help me be a better fantasy analyst and player, and these are the ones that stand out.

 

It's all about being ahead of the curve.

Being proactive is important, and we have to be careful not to overrate recent history. If you reacted to Cam Newton’s monstrous 2015 season by drafting him in 2016, you were not ahead of the curve, for example. Being ahead of the curve with Cam, in retrospect, was understanding his previous body of work, which clearly made 2016 stand out as an outlier season for Newton. If you thought Doug Martin was good-to-go in 2016 after a strong 2015, it’s probably fair to say you placed too high of an emphasis on the recent past. Martin’s shaky history scared us off of him, so we quit while we were ahead with Martin after pushing him as a strong value in 2015. And trust me: we’ll have a whole off-season to ponder just how much t...