Rubik's Leagues

After 25 years of mastering basic fantasy football, advanced fantasy football, and crazy fantasy football, the only leagues where I can find much enjoyment (or challenge) these days are in what I call “Rubik’s Leagues”–leagues with a lot of moving parts in terms of lineups and/or scoring.

So my first draft this year was this 12 team auction draft…

$351 auction budget; any $$$ unused in the auction would be added to your $51 FAB for the season (but only one guy added $1 to his FAB–lol).

League Name: Noah’s Arktion 2x2x2x2x2x2x1

13 starters: 2QB, 2RB, 2WR, 2TE, 2Flex, 2DST, 1SFlex, 11Bench, 2IR

Passing: 20 yds per pt, 1 pt at 275 yards, 2 pts at 400 yards, 4 pts at 525 yards, 4 pt TD, -2 INTs, 2 pt CONV, 0.5 per 40 yard completion, 0.5 per 40 yard TD

Rushing: 0.4 per attempt, 5 yards per point, 2.5 pts at 75 yards, 5 pts at 100 yards, 10 pts at 125 yards, 6 pt TD, 2 pt CONV, -1 FUM, -2 FUM LOST, 2 per 40 yard run, 4 per 40 yard TD, 0.25 per rushing 1st down

Receiving: 0.1 per reception, 7.5 yards per point, 1 pt at 80 yards, 2 pts at 130 yards, 4 pts at 180 yards, 6 pt TD, 2 pt CONV, 2 per 40 yard completion, 2 per 40 yard TD, 0.2 per receiving 1st down

Defensive scoring is pretty standard, but like 1 pt more than usual for everything, so like 2 pts per sack, 3 pts per turnover, 3 pts per safety, 7 pts per TD, etc.

The Kakorrhaphiophobiaxe

QB: Marcus Mariota (14) $19, Mitch Trubisky (9) $17, Kenny Pickett (9) $4, Gardner Minshew (7) $1

RB: Derrick Henry (6) $102, Jonathan Taylor (14) $96, J.K. Dobbins (10) $28, Damien Harris (10) $20, Gus Edwards (10) $1, Damien Williams (14) $1

WR: CeeDee Lamb (9) $23, Keenan Allen (8) $16, Chris Godwin (11) $4, Amon-Ra St. Brown (6) $4, Marquise Brown (13) $4, Michael Gallup (9) $1, DJ Chark, Jr. (6) $1, Marvin Jones, Jr. (11) $1

TE: Mike Gesicki (11) $2, Albert Okwuegbunam (9) $2, Evan Engram (11) $1, CJ Uzomah (10) $1

DST: Arizona Cardinals (13) $1, Washington Commanders (14) $1

Remaining: $0

Now let’s see who comments without reading the scoring rules…

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That scoring system is pretty crazy. I have played many leagues with extra points for yardage totals, and it just seems like more points without a purpose. It’s a lot harder to project for that sort of thing.

That said, I understand why you did what you did, pouring most of your money into Henry and JT. Those are pretty reliable points each week, and you could end up starting up to 4 RB’s, or even 5 if you used your SFlex position too.

Which brings me to your weakness: Your QB’s are awful. You have to start two, and that is all you really have, unless Minshew ends up starting somewhere. So you will have to rely on another position for your SFlex. With only 4 startable RB’s, that means you’ll be digging into your WR’s for your SFlex. Also, with 12 teams and potentially 3 starting QB’s possible, you’ll have a bye week nightmare trying to find another starting QB. You might end up losing 2 weeks just because you don’t have a second starting QB.

I’m not a huge fan of these “super special rules” leagues. But that’s only my personal preference.

This league obviously puts a huge emphasis on RB. While most leagues offer a PPR approach to better balance WRs against RBs, this one goes in the other direction and offers 0.4 points per attempt, while offering close to nothing for receptions. And then there is the monster bonus for reaching rushing tresholds in a game.

As a result, high-volume RBs will dominate that league. You got Henry and Taylor, and if they both stay healthy, I don’t see how anybody will be able to stop you in this league. Taylor had 5 125+ yard games, Henry would have had 8 if he had played a full season. That’s 130 bonus points already if they both can repeat their performance.

The pitfall is your QB room breaking down. Mariota gets benched for Ridder, Trubisky gets benched for Pickett, who will struggle mightily in his rookie season, and you have a problem. Granted, I don’t expect either of both things to happen, but you never know.

A strong RB might score better than a mediocre QB in this system, so you could start an RB on SFLEX. But that will only work if Dobbins or Damien Harris play a strong season, and that’s not a given. A mediocre RB on SFLEX will still be a massive downgrade over a mediocre QB, even in that scoring.

Still, you obviously read the rules better than all other participants. My guess is you will not find this format to be a challenge anymore next year.

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Congrats, you both successfully located my area of weakness–the QB position. Buying additional QBs (or better QBs) just wouldn’t have been possible and still maintain my focus on workhorse RBs. For context, here are the QB prices in the draft:

|Josh Allen (Buf - QB)|$96|
|Lamar Jackson (Bal - QB)|$79|
|Jalen Hurts (Phi - QB)|$75|
|Justin Herbert (LAC - QB)|$75|
|Kyler Murray (Ari - QB)|$75|
|Trey Lance (SF - QB)|$75|
|Patrick Mahomes (KC - QB)|$73|
|Joe Burrow (Cin - QB)|$72|
|Dak Prescott (Dal - QB)|$71|
|Matthew Stafford (LAR - QB)|$67|
|Tom Brady (TB - QB)|$66|
|Aaron Rodgers (GB - QB)|$65|
|Russell Wilson (Den - QB)|$62|
|Derek Carr (LV - QB)|$61|
|Justin Fields (Chi - QB)|$59|
|Kirk Cousins (Min - QB)|$58|
|Jameis Winston (NO - QB)|$56|
|Trevor Lawrence (Jax - QB)|$54|
|Tua Tagovailoa (Mia - QB)|$52|
|Mac Jones (NE - QB)|$41|
|Carson Wentz (Was - QB)|$38|
|Daniel Jones (NYG - QB)|$38|
|Jared Goff (Det - QB)|$35|
|Matt Ryan (Ind - QB)|$35|
|Ryan Tannehill (Ten - QB)|$31|
|Zach Wilson (NYJ - QB)|$28|
|Davis Mills (Hou - QB)|$26|
|Deshaun Watson (Cle - QB)|$25|
|Marcus Mariota (Atl - QB)|$19|
|Baker Mayfield (Car - QB)|$18|
|Mitch Trubisky (Pit - QB)|$17|
|Jimmy Garoppolo (SF - QB)|$15|
|Jacoby Brissett (Cle - QB)|$11|
|Geno Smith (Sea - QB)|$9|
|Drew Lock (Sea - QB)|$4|
|Kenny Pickett (Pit - QB)|$4|
|Sam Darnold (Car - QB)|$3|
|Andy Dalton (NO - QB)|$1|
|Case Keenum (Buf - QB)|$1|
|Desmond Ridder (Atl - QB)|$1|
|Gardner Minshew II (Phi - QB)|$1|
|Malik Willis (Ten - QB)|$1|
|Taylor Heinicke (Was - QB)|$1|
|Teddy Bridgewater (Mia - QB)|$1|
|Trevor Siemian (Chi - QB)|$1|
|Tyler Huntley (Bal - QB)|$1|
|Tyrod Taylor (NYG - QB)|$1|

I was planning to back up Mariota with Ridder, but he was taken in the dollar rounds before I could get to him; that’s the round I took Minshew instead (I think Hurts is a better fantasy QB due to his running than he is an NFL QB, so Minshew has some legs). And speaking of running, let’s keep in mind that every year Mariota has been a starter, he has been top 8 among rushing QBs–and rushing yardage is golden in this league. So as long as Mariota stays healthy and starting, I think he will be a fairly solid scorer in this league. And I have the PIT QB locked down, so I’ll have ONE QB every week except Week 9, anyway.

If worse comes to worst, at least I have trade capital.

As for the Superflex position, the plan is to start 5 RBs, with Edwards or Williams as the 5th, and the other in reserve for bye weeks. A mere 8 carries for 55 yards and a couple first downs is 15 points for RBs in this system, so if I give up five points a week at QB to save $25 in auction money, I think I can make it up with guys like Henry and Taylor dropping 60 points every week. Heck, I might even be able to fly with one QB for a few weeks if necessary, if my RB corps all pulls together.

A lot of other teams didn’t get past the Superflex and 20 yds per pt passing, and so they have teams like Brady, Stafford and Rodgers with Kenyan Drake and Michael Carter at RB. I could probably play those teams WITHOUT a QB and win.

Maybe. I would add that if Henry gets hurt again this year, and he does have a lot of mileage on his tires, then you are done.

Losing your top pick in the draft always makes it more difficult.

Also, there is the salary cap dollars you invested. Would that money get freed up? How does the league deal with season-ending injuries, or players you cut before the end of the season?

Yes, any money not spent in auction would be added to our $51 FAB for the year–but only one guy added $1 to his FAB. lol

Season-ending injuries suck, same as most leagues. There are 2 IR slots, but that doesn’t really apply in the case of season-ending injuries.

Players cut go through waivers and become free agents.

However, I did put my PUP guys on IR and picked up Matt Corral and Eric Saubert (who is apparently giving my Albert O. some competition at TE in Denver–LINK) for $2 each, so I’ll have the winner of that TE competition either way, and Corral just gives me another dart throw at QB.

But again, there’s some buzz…


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Corral was AMAZING from what I saw on his college video. I drafted him in one dynasty draft already. I had to go back and look at Dan Marino highlights after watching Corral. They are both so similar.

Thanks for the link!

It’s looking like a good investment.

I still think it’s funny that the Panthers have 2 of the top 3 picks in the 2018 draft on their team–but they both play the same position, and neither one is very good at it.

Sometimes, teams go thru bad periods. Then again, sometimes a blind pig finds an acorn .Corral is their acorn.

Where my first draft was ultra-complex, my second draft was ultra-simple in comparision. There are only 8 scoring categories: Passing Yards (25), Passing TDs (5), Rushing Yards (10), Rushing TDs (6), Receptions (1), Receiving Yards (10), Receiving TDs (6), and 2 Pt Conversions (2).

Start 1 QB, 3 WR, 2 RB, 1 W/T, 1 W/R/T, 1 Q/W/R/T–with 8 Bench and 2 IR. So your basic 12 team PPR Doubleflex Superflex league, with TEs not mandatory, and no Ks or Ds.

The way this draft started, I was afraid I would be embarrassed to share it with the world–I was literally breaking every rule of sound auction drafting.

#1 - I was locked into a strategy–and several specific players going in. Better auction strategy is to wait to see how the draft unfolds. But since I’d just done the RB-heavy PPC league, I wanted to do the opposite strategy in this PPR league (build around the WRs) and the one player that I was absolutely, positively going to get, who I believe will be the #1 overall WR in 2022, was Justin Jefferson–no matter what. I mean, how much could he cost, right? 45? 50? I can work with that.

Unfortunately, someone else had made that same vow, and so next to the $68 paid for Jonathan Taylor, I paid the second highest price in the auction to secure the services of JJ at $57.

I also had in mind a trio of QBs I was targeting, Cousins (to stack with JJ), Carr, and Winston. Unfortunately, Winston came out shortly thereafter–still rather early, when people were still paying $30+ for QBs–and Winston, whom I was hoping would be the cheapest of the three, cost me $19.

So #2 rule broken, I overpaid for a lesser player because I drafted him too early in the draft.

The #3 rule broken here was not to overpay for the first few blue chip players nominated in an auction, especially when you need to fill out several flex slots–better to balance your spending and get good players up and down your roster, rather than blowing your wad on two or three of the most expensive players. And after paying the price I paid for Jefferson, I had no intention of drafting Stefon Diggs–but I wasn’t going to let him go for LESS THAN $30(!), so I bid at the last second, just hoping to keep the bidding going–and won him for $30.

Oh. Lord.

#4 rule–Don’t draft two stud WRs with the same bye week.

I have Winston and two ace WRs (who share a Week 7 bye) and I’ve already spent $106. I’m doomed.

AND then after scoring a minor bargain on CEH for $9, I paid $17 for Amon-Ra St. Brown, just because I had to have him–another overpay for a player I should have been able to get cheaper later.

Now, if this were an old-fashioned movie serial, this would be the point at which the narrator would come in with the organ music and ask penetrating questions like “WILL AXE ELF SUCCUMB TO HIS FRIVOLOUS SPENDING?” “WHAT WILL HIS TEAM’S RUNNING BACKS LOOK LIKE??” “HOW WILL AXE ELF GET OUT OF THIS ONE???”

Well, you just knew I would come out smelling like a rose, didn’t you?

Granted, I’m going to need some luck at RB, but I picked some pretty solid PPR options for my backfield–and nobody can touch my WRs.

QB: Jameis Winston (14) $19, Matt Ryan (14) $9 (DOH! Did it again on the bye weeks! My only QB in Week 14 might be…) Daniel Jones (9) $9 (…but then there’s time to fix that by then.)

RB: Travis Etienne (11) $24, Clyde Edwards-Helaire (8) $9, Cordarrelle Patterson (14) $5, Damien Williams (14) $3 (dumped my last $3 on him), Rachaad White (11) $1

WR: Justin Jefferson (7) $57, Stefon Diggs (7) $30, Amon-Ra St. Brown (6) $17, Chris Godwin (11) $7, Robert Woods (6) $4, Michael Gallup (9) $2, Tyler Lockett (11) $2, Skyy Moore (8) $1, Romeo Doubs (14) $1

I didn’t really want Doubs–he was one of those nominations where you hope there’s enough buzz about him that someone bids $2–but no one did, so… Guess I got a flyer.

Kinda fun watching people pay $40 for the top TEs in a TE-optional league. lol

Have to admit, I don’t pay a lot of attention to the bye week issue. Worst case scenario I eat a week, maybe 2… Out of a span of a season, that isn’t much loss.

I also ignore bye weeks when drafting, but may have to rethink that. I am in a tournament draft right now where I might not even be able to put up a legal lineup in week 9…

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Jeez, almost forgot to report back to you guys on Sunday night’s draft–a lesson in how to win a Superflex league with three $1 QBs.

Of course, I could really only consider that in a 10 team league; $1 QBs in a 12 team SFlex league are non-starters.

And it helps to have a little of that wacky rushing scoring like we saw in my first draft of the year, although in this case, not quite as extreme with the yardage pts (back to 1 pt per 10 yards, both rushing and receiving) or bonus points (1@100, 2@150, 3@200 both rushing and receiving). It does still have the 1 and 2 pt bonuses for 40 yard plays (pass/rush/rec) and 40 yard TDs (pass/rush/rec) respectively, a full point for a first down pass/rush/reception, a full PPR–and most importantly, a full PPC!

QBs get standard scoring (25 yds/pt, 4 pt pass TDs, -1 INTs) PLUS 1 pt per completion and -1 pt per incompletion. So a high-volume passer will make 3-4 pts per week on average more than low-volume passers–but QBs with wheels will get a boon from the full point-per-carry. So WRs are not as devalued in this league as the other one, but they’re still not on par with QBs, who are a little enhanced from the first league’s scoring, but the real workhorse RBs getting 25 carries a game are still going to rule. Pretty standard K/D scoring, with deductions for missed XPs and missed FGs under 30 yards.

Since we only start 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 SFlex, 1 K and 1 D, with only 6 bench slots (10 teams x 15 players = 150 players drafted, including 20 Ks and Ds), I figured I could pretty much fill out my team with dollar players after landing Taylor and Henry and still be competitive. Realistically, I figured I could get them both for $140.

I was close–Henry cost $71 and Taylor $66–which in retrospect are actually pretty ridiculous prices compared to what other quality RBs later sold for–but with this scoring, they’re worth it! These were actually the 2nd and 3rd highest prices paid for RBs in the auction; some poor guy typoed a $35 bid for Nick Chubb, and took him home for $135.

The only other RB to go for more than $46 was Ekeler, at $51. So yup, I paid dearly for my advantage. I just hope it’s enough.

QB: Marcus Mariota (14) $1, Deshaun Watson (9) $1, Jacoby Brissett (9) $1

RB: Derrick Henry (6) $71, Jonathan Taylor (14) $66, Travis Etienne (11) $18, Damien Harris (10) $9, James Robinson (11) $6 (So $170 out of $200 spent on RBs. lol)

WR: Amon-Ra St. Brown (6) $8, Chris Godwin (11) $5, Diontae Johnson (9) $4, Juju Smith Schuster (8) $4, Marquise Brown (13) $4 ($25 more on WRs, leaving $5 for the other 5 players)

TE: Mike Gesicki (11) $1

K: (Empty)

DST: Arizona Cardinals (13) $1

Remaining: $0

Not sure why I drafted a DST, really–especially the one that plays KC in Week 1. So I’ll fix that before the games start. I basically rostered Deshaun Watson instead of a Kicker. Should know before the season starts if he’ll play after 6 games, so I can drop him for a K if he’s out for the year, but if he plays, he could be a league winner.

I also liked the fact that Marcus Mariota scored 14.7 fantasy points in this scoring system on the first drive of his first preseason game, so as with the other league, I think I’m getting some sneaky rushing stats out of this $1 QB.

As long as I have ONE decent QB, I’m not convinced that I would lose too much by Superflexing a solid RB like Etienne or Harris if I had to, with this scoring. But hopefully the Henry/Taylor advantage will stay healthy and productive and I’ll go undefeated–and I suddenly have a lot more interest in the Deshaun Watson situation.

My fourth league for 2022 will be just a plain ol’ 10 team half-PPR league, pretty much a standard double-flex league in every way–perfect for a midnight Saturday auction draft! There were no Konami cheat codes with the scoring this time, but it’s really hard to imagine anyone dominating a redraft the way I dominated last night’s fiasco.

I mean, first of all, I got Derrick Henry, so game over right there, pretty much. When Henry got hurt last year in the 8th week, he was 42.4 fantasy points ahead of 2nd place, Jonathan Taylor, in half-PPR scoring. In other words, the difference between Henry and the RB2 (who was having an outstanding season himself) was greater than the difference between the RB2 and the RB13 at the time. Henry isn’t just in a tier by himself, he’s in a league of his own. He’s a RB who gets QB points.

So I drafted the #1 RB–by a wide margin–but then I also drafted the #6 and #9 RBs from 2021, not to mention the #7 RB over the 2nd half of the 2021 season–all of which are returning to the same roles on the same teams with the same coaching staffs in 2022. So I could be starting four top 10 RBs each week this season, if I utilize RBs in both flex slots, including the one that is a league-winner all by himself.

At WR, I have one top 5 player from last season, projected as the top WR in 2022, and another top 5 player over the 2nd half of his (rookie) 2021 season–also both returning to the same roles on the same teams with the same QBs and coaching staffs in 2022. And I don’t know what the #2 WR for the Rams will be worth in 2022, but in 2021, Robert Woods was plugging along as the WR11 at the time he got hurt. So another three top 10ish players at the WR position.

And I din’t want to make anyone quit or anything, but if competing against all that doesn’t already sound darn near impossible, consider that I also have a perennial top 5 QB who is always a threat to be the #1 overall at his position, as well.

Oh, and did I mention the top 5ish TE?

This wasn’t a draft; it was a lesson.

QB: Patrick Mahomes (8) $19

RB: Derrick Henry (6) $54, Ezekiel Elliott (9) $20, Devin Singletary (7) $4, Cordarrelle Patterson (14) $2, Marlon Mack (6) $2, Damien Williams (14) $1, Trey Sermon (9) $1

WR: Justin Jefferson (7) $62, Allen Robinson (7) $13, Amon-Ra St. Brown (6) $9, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (8) $3, Romeo Doubs (14) $3, Robert Woods (6) $2, Michael Gallup (9) $1

TE: Dallas Goedert (7) $4

K: Empty

DST: Empty

Remaining: $0

I put Gallup on IR and staked a claim for the Washington D (vs JAX) for Week 1; also claimed Gus Edwards so I could add him directly to the other IR slot. I’ll have to drop someone (probly between Sermon and Mack) for a K before Week 1.

Go forth and emulate…

And that’s how you handle a 10-team, 2 QB auction draft with extra RB/WR slots!

Pretty typical half-PPR scoring; start 1 TE, 2QB, 3RB, 4WR, 6 Bench, 2 IR.

I’m certainly testing the theory this year that you can get by on crumbs in a 2QB/SFlex league–as long as it’s a 10-teamer. This will be the second one in which I’ve come away from the draft with basically dollar players at QB.

I actually kind of hamstrung myself at the end, because when I got down to an $11 max bid, someone noticed I still din’t have any QBs and started squawking “Axe Elf doesn’t have a QB yet! Nominate QBs! Bid them up!” Sigh. So I din’t know if I might have to pay $3-$4 for what I had hoped would be my dollar targets, and that made me hold off on drafting $3-$4 bench players, and then suddenly no one else had any money and I was getting all of my last 7 players for $2 or less–and that left me with $5 on the table. Probly shoulda had a better WR6 than Doubs, but oh well.

It was otherwise another darn near perfect draft!

QB: Marcus Mariota (14) $2, Mitch Trubisky (9) $2, Davis Mills (6) $1, Kenny Pickett (9) $1

RB: Derrick Henry (6) $51, Najee Harris (9) $32, Travis Etienne (11) $20, Damien Harris (10) $6, Damien Williams (14) $2

WR: CeeDee Lamb (9) $25, Keenan Allen (8) $17, Allen Robinson (7) $14, Amon-Ra St. Brown (6) $14, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (8) $2, Romeo Doubs (14) $2

TE: Zach Ertz (13) $4

Remaining: $5

Hats off to the schedule-makers, but I drew an amazing Week 1 matchup!

Not only are both of our teams projected to be within 5 points of the projected points leader, but the matchup will pit the two most extreme 2QB strategies in our draft…

I have two starting QBs I spent a total of $4 on–Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky.

My opponent has two of the top three fantasy QBs in the league–Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes–for whom he spent a total of $64.

Will my solid lineup of top 10 players at each of the other 8 starting slots be enough to compensate for the QB disparity? Will Osborn, Palmer, Akers and Gordon dig too deep of a hole for even Herbert and Mahomes to overcome?

This game will determine who has an advantage in the chess game of the draft strategies.

The projections can’t decide…

So my player distribution chart is a little shorter this year, since it only covers 5 managed leagues and 2 Best Balls.

WR Amon-Ra St. Brown 7
RB Derrick Henry 6
RB Damien Harris 5
RB Damien Williams 5
WR Michael Gallup 5
RB Travis Etienne, Jr. 4
WR Allen Robinson II 3
WR Brandon Aiyuk 3
TE C.J. Uzomah 3
WR CeeDee Lamb 3
WR Chris Godwin 3
RB Cordarrelle Patterson 3
TE Dallas Goedert 3
RB Gus Edwards 3
QB Jameis Winston 3
WR Keenan Allen 3
QB Marcus Mariota 3
TE Mike Gesicki 3
WR Devante Parker 2
RB James Robinson 2
WR James Washington 2
RB Jonathan Taylor 2
WR Juju Smith-Schuster 2
WR Justin Jefferson 2
QB Kenny Pickett 2
QB Kirk Cousins 2
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling 2
WR Marquise Brown 2
QB Mitch Trubisky 2
WR Robert Woods 2
WR Romeo Doubs 2
TE Albert Okwuegbunam 1
DST Arizona Cardinals 1
DST Baltimore Ravens 1
RB Brian Robinson, Jr. 1
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire 1
WR D.J. Chark, Jr. 1
QB Daniel Jones 1
TE David Njoku 1
QB Davis Mills 1
DST Denver Broncos 1
QB Derek Carr 1
RB Devin Singletary 1
WR Diontae Johnson 1
TE Evan Engram 1
RB Ezekiel Elliott 1
QB Gardner Minshew 1
RB J.K. Dobbins 1
WR Marvin Jones, Jr. 1
QB Mason Rudolph 1
K Matt Prater 1
QB Matt Ryan 1
QB Matthew Stafford 1
WR Mike Evans 1
RB Najee Harris 1
WR N’Keal Harry 1
QB Patrick Mahomes 1
RB Rachaad White 1
RB Saquon Barkley 1
WR Skyy Moore 1
WR Stefon Diggs 1
QB Taysom Hill 1
TE Taysom Hill 1
WR Tyler Lockett 1
DST Washington Commanders 1
K Younghoe Koo 1
TE Zach Ertz 1
QB Zach Wilson 1
Total Players 130