“Oops!” and “Oh, yeah!” — Top mistake and success of each team
Every general manager has hits and misses. Sometimes the misses are minor in scope and are met with a shrug of the shoulders. Other times the misses are so egregious that there aren’t enough hits for him to save his job. Either way, the teams that seem to have the most success are the ones that best mitigate their mistakes while capitalizing off the hits.
Here’s a look at the biggest mistake and best success from each team for the 2022 DFL season.
Australia Blue Heelers
Oops! — Signed Jonathan Taylor to a $31 million deal
It goes without saying that the biggest catalyst behind the Blue Heelers’ 2-12 season was Jonathan Taylor’s underperformance due to injury. Now, whether or not his $31 million salary would have been justifiable had he played a full season is open to debate. With a running back corps that clearly was depleted, that salary could have been divvied up three ways and the team could have had some depth at the position. But with the league’s highest-paid player finishing 89th in scoring among FLEX players, the cost of the acquisition surely stung all season.
Oh, yeah! — Inked Dallas Goedert to a 4-year, $2.5 million deal
The Blue Heelers actually had quite a few good moves this season, most of which were in the construction of their talented young receiving corps. However, I’m going to go in a different direction with this one. Landing a top-flight tight end is of the utmost importance in the DFL because of how few good, reliable ones there are. Having a consistently productive tight end in your lineup gives you a distinct advantage over your opponent most Sundays. Goedert finished as a low-end TE1 despite missing 5 games with an injury. He finished as TE5 overall in points per game. And the Blue Heelers inked him to a 4-year deal at just $2.5 million — a full $18.6 million cheaper than Mark Andrews, who finished only one spot ahead of Goedert in points per game.
Oops! — Only signed Kenneth Walker to a 2-year contract
The Llamas had quite the incredible ride this season for one very specific reason that we’ll get into in a moment. But one of their best signings of the offseason was that of rookie running back Kenneth Walker, who looks to be a workhorse with explosive playmaking ability. So, why is he listed in the “oops” category? Well, because he was only inked to a 2-year deal. With a paltry salary of just $3.6 million, the Llamas should have inked him long term and reaped the benefits. Instead, if he has a great sophomore campaign, they’re going to have to pony up the big dough next offseason to keep him.
Oh, yeah! — Secured Jalen Hurts to a 3-year, $5.2 million deal
The Llamas doled out $14.1 million to Justin Herbert, which could have been their biggest “oops” moment. As it stands, they could have used that money elsewhere, but only because of their “oh, yeah!” moment: inking Jalen Hurts to a 3-year deal. Hurts finished as the QB3 overall, and as QB1 in points per game. He made a huge third-year leap and is surrounded by great talent. The Llamas have found their cornerstone piece.
Oops! — Signed D.J. Moore to a 4-year, $8.5 million deal
For a team that nearly ran the table on their way to a championship, there weren’t a whole lot of “oops” moves for them. This is why the signing of Moore to a 4-year deal at an elevated, but not obscene salary is their biggest mistake. Moore has had a “good,” but not great career up to this point. He’s never finished as a WR1 despite most of the football community’s continual expectation that he will one day. He was the 18th highest-paid receiver this year, which seems reasonable for his past production. But he did finish as WR24 in scoring this year and it’s difficult to gauge whether he’ll be worth the 18th-highest salary 3 years from now.
Oh, yeah! — Took a chance on Saquon Barkley to the tune of 3 years, $12.5 million
As I kind of touched on already, the Capybaras made a number of wise decisions in their run to a title this year, so narrowing it down to just one has proven difficult. However, boldly going after Barkley probably gave them the necessary oomph to get across the finish line. The gusto to fearlessly go after a player who missed a lot of time the past two years due to injury was bold. Barkley finished as the RB5 this year, had five games over 20 points and only three in single digits. He was a force to be reckoned with.
Oops! — Signed Hunter Renfrow to an $11 million contract
One could make the case that Najee Harris was a big disappointment, underperforming his $25 million contract. But I’m going to go with Hunter Renfrow here. He might be the namesake of Greece’s owner, but Renfrow was an utter disappointment for the 2022 Trojans. Renfrow was the highest-paid receiver on the team — yes, even higher than DK Metcalf. He was the 12th-highest paid receiver in the entire league and yet he finished a disappointing WR92. In retrospect, that money could have been used to help fix the running back position or be divided in half on two better options at receiver.
Oh, yeah! — Signed Ezekiel Elliott and D.K. Metcalf to deals commensurate to their production
Sometimes a wise general manager doesn’t just make great moves, but the smart judicious moves. A lot of owners were scared off by Zeke and Metcalf this past offseason. Zeke was getting older and many owners were expecting him to completely hand off the baton to Tony Pollard this year (he did in part but still got more carries). Metcalf was facing what was expected to be a downgrade at quarterback. But Greece didn’t shy away from extending offers to them and they paid dividends. Zeke was the 22nd-highest paid running back in the DFL and he finished as the RB22. Metcalf was the 16th-highest paid wide receiver in the league and he finished as the — yep, WR16. If not for the Najee Harris and Hunter Renfrow contracts, the Trojans could have made a playoff push with contracts similar to Zeke and Metcalf.
Oops! — Signed Javonte Williams to a 2-year, $16 million deal
Ireland, like Colombia, had a number of solid moves this season which might help explain why the two teams faced off in the league’s inaugural championship game. Therefore, it’s a little difficult to fault the Shamrocks for signing Williams to a big deal and then watching him get hurt early. But the “mistakes” are few and far between. The Shamrocks rectified that move by shipping Williams and a second-round pick away for Dalvin Cook, who helped lead them down the stretch to the title game.
Oh, yeah! — Inked Rhamondre Stevenson to a 4-year, $3 million deal
The Shamrocks got a huge steal this offseason with the addition of Stevenson to a 4-year deal at a cheap $3 million salary. The backfield was expected to be muddled, hence the reason so many DFL teams avoided offering Stevenson a big contract. But Stevenson took over early in the season and finished as the RB7. Presuming he maintains his role, and there’s no reason to suspect otherwise, then Stevenson has become a cornerstone piece for this organization moving forward.
Oops! — Signed Kyle Pitts to a 4-year, $15 million deal
Pitts had a terrific rookie season finishing as TE6 and flashing his big-play potential, all at a position that isn’t usually conducive to rookie success. Hence, he was a highly desired target at a position of need. But, boy, did he have a sophomore slump. Between game script and quarterback play, Pitts was relegated to a trivial role. He suffered a season-ending injury and finished as TE33. Now, it’s hard to imagine him not rebounding with better quarterback play, but it’s also difficult seeing him justify his salary — at least in one season.
Oh, yeah! — Tanked for the future
Sensing they had a team that would not compete for a title in 2022, the Emperors took the roster in the other direction and unloaded talent for the 2023 season and beyond. Sitting through a rebuild is never fun, but the franchise did manage to score some nice assets as a base for their rebuild, and in that regard, it was a successful season.
Kazakhstan’s Very Nice Team
Oops! — Signed Alvin Kamara to an $18 million contract
In 2021, Kamara was the RB8, but he had seven games of single digits. The writing seemed like it was on the wall for his inevitable decline. The Very Nice Team doled out $18 million to Kamara, making him the 8th-highest paid running back. Seems commensurate with his 2021 production, right? Well, Kamara had a bit of a backslide, falling all the way down to RB16, making him a middling RB2 and certainly overpaid for his production.
Oh, yeah! — Signed Christian Watson to a 3-year, $2.9 million deal
It has been said that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t trust rookie wide receivers and that Watson probably wasn’t going to produce right away. Watson did, indeed, start the season slow, scoring single digits in his first six games of action. But from Week 10 on, he had six games of double digit points, including a four-game stretch in which he averaged 24.8 points per game. His success will hinge upon his team’s quarterback play, of course. But for now he appears to be an intriguing option to watch at a minuscule $2.9 million per season over the next two years.
Papua New Guinea Pigs
Oops! — Paid $19.6 million to D’Andre Swift
Swift has been teasing owners with his playmaking ability over the first couple seasons of his career, and that big-play ability intrigued the Pigs enough to make him the sixth-highest paid running back in the DFL this season. Unfortunately for them, Swift regressed from his first two years and actually lost quite a bit of volume this season. He was efficient with his touches, but the lack of volume caused him to slide all the way down to RB21, clearly underperforming his massive contract and hurting the Pigs’ overall production.
Oh, yeah! — Inked Garrett Wilson to a 4-year, $4.8 million deal
Rookie Garrett Wilson is so silky smooth and is a dangerous weapon out on the field. His biggest problem has been a quarterback with the same surname. Wilson had plenty of “boom” performances this year, scoring 30, 26, 24, 17, 17 and 17. But he also had several “bust” performances due to his quarterback’s play. If his team straightens out the position, even marginally, Wilson is looking to be a bargain at $4.8 million over the next three seasons.
Oops! — Signed Jerry Jeudy to a 3-year, $12.5 million deal
“I just can’t quit you,” says Peru’s ownership — probably. Their affinity for Jeudy has long been documented and they’ve continually given the young receiver plenty of chances. It’s not for a lack of talent that Jeudy hasn’t produced like he’s capable of. Whether it’s been poor quarterback play or a case of the drops, he just hasn’t lived up to his hype. The Gurus gave him the 10th-highest salary among receivers, but Jeudy finished as WR22, playing maddeningly inconsistent throughout the year.
Oh, yeah! — Inked Justin Fields to a 4-year, $1.6 million deal
One of the biggest surprises of the 2022 season was the play of quarterback Justin Fields. He had the receiving corps of a junior varsity team — and not from a good high school program, either — and yet he still finished as the QB6 on the season, setting records along the way. I wouldn’t expect that same level of rushing production to continue next year and beyond, but his passing numbers ought to go up considerably. In either case, $1.6 million in each of the next three seasons is an absolute bargain and provides considerable flexibility moving forward.
Saint Kitts & Nevis Shockers
Oops! — Didn’t read the rule book
Just kidding … but, sort of not. The two biggest mistakes made by the Shockers this season were spending $74.2 million — nearly three-quarters of their cap space — on just three players and having to fill out the bulk of their roster with question marks; and then not knowing that wild card playoff teams were determined by points, not record. Understandably, it’s a new league and there are a lot of rules to take in, but knowing the rule book would have mitigated the first mistake. Nevertheless, the Shockers rose to the occasion and made their team fairly competitive mid-season, until they were spurned by the playoff rule and decided to go for the world record for fewest points ever scored in a game.
Oh, yeah! — Traded for Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins
After their Auction fiasco, the Shockers knew they had to fix their team by getting some extra depth. They shipped away CeeDee Lamb’s bloated contract to Italy for a package that included Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins. Evans finished as WR17 and Hopkins, who had missed the first six games of the season due to suspension, went on an 8-week tear averaging 18.7 points per game. (To put that into perspective, if extrapolated over the entire season, that would have landed him as WR6). He finished as the WR10 in points per game. Hopkins is signed for two more years at a cheap $3.1 million per season.
Sint Maarten Savages
Oops! — Signed Cooper Kupp to a two-year, $26 million deal
Cooper Kupp set ridiculous records in 2021, astronomically high statistics that just were not sustainable. As such, he got paid handsomely by the Savages for his big-play potential. Now, in fairness to Kupp and the Savages, it’s not as if he completely fell off the map. He wound up first in the league in points per game with 22.4. But he only appeared in 9 games before suffering a season-ending injury. Kupp will be the second-highest paid receiver in the DFL heading into this offseason and he’ll be 30 years old to start the 2023 season. Not to mention, there will be a lot of changes around him next year. It’ll be interesting to see if he can rebound and live up to his contract.
Oh, yeah! — Traded for Cole Kmet and Jahan Dotson
The Savages wound up shipping away George Kittle to the Gurus, who were making a run at the postseason. In return, they netted Cole Kmet and rookie receiver Jahan Dotson. As luck would have it, Kmet went on a tear with his new team and finished as the TE8. Sure, Kittle finished as TE3, but he is also only signed for one more year at $8.5 million, compared with Kmet’s 3 more years at $2 million per season. Obviously, though, it wasn’t a straight-up tight end trade. The Savages also got the intriguing young receiver, Dotson, who didn’t take very long to show his worth. Dotson missed five weeks due to injury but scored 7 touchdowns and had 7 of 12 weeks with double digit points.
South Africa Ballstrikers
Oops! — Signed the Broncos connection to 3-year deals
Ouch. Sometimes the football community is right about things, and other times it is woefully wrong. The latter turned out to be the case with Russell Wilson and Courtland Sutton. The Broncos were supposed to be a high-powered offense with Wilson and yet it did not pan out that way. The Ballstrikers gave the 34-year-old Wilson a 3-year deal worth $5 million per season, making him the 9th-highest paid quarterback in the league. I’m not willing to declare Wilson done just yet, but he did drop to QB16 on the season and doesn’t look to be headed in the right direction. As for Sutton, he started off the season with a good rapport with Wilson, but wound up falling all the way down to WR43. He did miss two games to injury, but that’s still a bad return on investment for the 17th-highest paid receiver.
Oh, yeah! — Signed Josh Jacobs to a $7 million contract
Speaking of the football community being wrong, Josh Jacobs was essentially being left for dead. Only once before this season in his short career has he finished as an RB1, but he has always been a strong RB2. The Ballstrikers paid him as such. Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for the rest of the league, Jacobs had his best season yet as a pro, finishing as the RB3 while averaging 19.3 points per game. That’s what I call a good ROI.