Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Snoopy & Prickly Pete

Also, check out the Fantasy Football tag for all my past ramblings on the subject.

Last year ended as horribly as can be in my Main League. I made the 6-team playoffs, but then promptly lost in the first round. That means I missed out on the 4-team consolation bracket – which plays for the top 4 draft picks the following season – and was saddled in the 5/6 game, playing for the 5th/6th draft pick. Of course, I lost that game as well, and here I was, heading into this season drafting 6th out of 10 teams, in a standard (non-snake) draft.

Last year, we were up to 4 keepers, having steadily increased that number over the last few years, with the ultimate goal of turning the league into a Dynasty League. Finally, there was enough discontent that the talk at this year’s rules meeting centered on, “We either need to go full dynasty, or blow it all up and eliminate keepers altogether.”

I don’t mind telling you I was lobbying hard to go with the dynasty league. I’ve been spending the last few years suffering mediocre finishes all in the name of trying to find the best keepers possible to carry over (with the primary goal of finding one or two quality quarterbacks to finally cement that position once and for all). I didn’t want all of that work to go to waste. Thankfully, by the thinnest of margins, we were able to vote in the dynasty.

Our set up is like this: we have to keep all of our starting positions. 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 DEF. Easy peasy. We’ll get to wait until about a week before our fantasy draft next year before declaring who those keepers will be. Then, at the draft, we’ll select our 5 bench spots out of whoever’s left over, plus any incoming rookies.

This all starts NEXT year, meaning that we’re still only carrying over 4 keepers from last season. But, with our draft – that took place last Thursday – it’s officially on. If you’re not going all-in on the dynasty aspect with regards to who you’re drafting, then that means you like your team an awful lot and are pushing to win the championship within the next 1-2 years.

I didn’t love my keepers heading into our draft, because – SPOILER ALERT – I had no quarterbacks among the four. My keepers were:

  1. A.J. Brown (WR)
  2. CeeDee Lamb (WR)
  3. Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB)

That’s the ranking of how much I liked them, 1 through 4. I was waffling back and forth on CEH until the bitter end, before I read enough pundits who think he’s due to have a bounce-back year in his second season in the league. I can buy it. He doesn’t appear to have a lot of competition at the spot in Kansas City; even though they throw the ball WAY MORE than they run it, he could sneak in for some more touchdowns and still catch a lot of balls.

I had zero interest in keeping Josh Jacobs. He was supposed to be my horse last year, but he underwhelmed, and then the Raiders brought in Kenyan Drake (the bane of every fantasy owner’s existence wherever he plays, because he’s always stealing carries from someone more promising). I had a lot of fringey receivers I was mulling over (Jerry Jeudy, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, D.J. Chark, and Rashard Higgins), but all of those guys are players that could easily be had in any fantasy draft.

As for my two quarterbacks, I had Kirk Cousins (who’s a non-starter for me, since he’s not vaccinated – which means there’s a high likelihood he misses games this year – and he’s just overall mediocre), and Tua Tagovailoa. I made a HUGE to-do about picking him up on waivers last year, thinking his Alabama pedigree might translate to NFL success. But, he just looked too shitty as a rookie last year. More often than not, you can see which rookie quarterbacks are going to be studs, and which ones are going to be Marcus Mariota. Tua looks like he’s going to be a left-handed Mariota.

In the end, my final keeper came down to CEH and Tee Higgins. I was THIS close to keeping Higgins, because I freaking love that dude, and I think in that Bengals offense he’s going to be steadily productive for the next decade. But, the Bengals also went out and drafted another elite receiver really high in this year’s draft, plus they still have Tyler Boyd, who’s solid. There ended up being too many cooks in that kitchen, and I was scared off. I still think Higgins will be the best of those three this year, but going forward, it’s iffy.

Plus, let’s face it, there are tons of solid wide receivers all throughout the league. Keeping three of them seemed like overkill. I would’ve been effectively handing over my FLEX spot to Higgins, and if for whatever reason he struggles, then I’ve wasted one of my keeper spots for a fringe fantasy starter.

***

I had a couple plans heading into the draft with my 6th overall pick. Trevor Lawrence would obviously be off the table (he, indeed, went #1 overall). I assumed Najee Harris would also be off the table (he ended up being taken with the third pick, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment). I ranked my top six players, and my third choice would’ve been Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (who very well might’ve fallen to me, as he was ultimately taken 7th), followed by Matthew Stafford (who did fall to me, though I ended up trading him – SPOILER ALERT AGAIN), and then the Washington and Indy running backs as 5th and 6th (they ended up going 5th and 4th respectively).

I would’ve been elated to have Matthew Stafford, because I think he’s going to have an awesome year with the Rams. Plus, he’s only 33 years old, which means he could have another 7-10 years ahead of him if things break right!

My general plan was to load up on quarterbacks – taking lots of flyers on rookies, after Stafford – and running backs (to try to load up on depth in case of injuries and BYEs). This was always going to be a quasi-throwaway year for me, in hopes that I’d find the two quarterbacks I’d be rolling with for the next 5-10 years.

That was thrown out the window when Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars (don’t ask) texted the entire league saying his keepers were available for trade (in exchange for players and/or draft picks).

He actually had four pretty good keepers (Derrick Henry, D.K. Metcalf, George Kittle, and Stefon Diggs), but for whatever reason, he was looking to shake things up.

I didn’t want Henry because he’s being run into the ground and probably has 1-2 more years MAX before he begins his slide. I didn’t want Kittle because he could be an injury risk with the way he plays the game and how hard he is on his body. D.K. Metcalf is obviously a huge draw for me, as a Seahawks fan, and I think he’s someone who could be the #1 scoring wide receiver as early as THIS year. Plus he’s young and should be good for another decade. Sign me up!

I made Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars a lowball offer (I think a second rounder, or a fourth rounder plus A.J. Brown); he countered saying he needed my first rounder. I took a bit to think about it, before ultimately concluding that D.K. Metcalf with the 6th pick would be guaranteed to be better than anyone who might fall to me (there would’ve been the potential for higher upside with someone like Pitts, but there’s always a risk with any rookie).

I’m lucky I accepted the offer when I did, because by the next day someone had offered him the #2 overall pick for D.K. I told that guy (with the #2 pick) if Trevor Lawrence somehow – by the grace of God – fell out of the top spot, I’d trade him D.K. for Lawrence (which he agreed to, since he already has Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert as his keepers), but of course that was never going to happen.

Hahmez Wah, in the end, turned his aforementioned keepers into Jalen Hurts (#2 overall) & Chris Carson (he traded his #9 overall for the #2 overall, while also giving away Derrick Henry in the deal), Matthew Stafford (in the Metcalf deal), Tyler Lockett (in the Kittle deal, where he got the first pick in the second round), while still hanging onto Stefon Diggs. I wouldn’t love that for my team – if I were him, I would’ve stuck the keepers I had – but I understand the impulse in making a radical change. Also, it IS a game, after all; it’s supposed to be fun, right? What’s more fun than a crazy slew of trades?

***

So, heading into the second round, I had three receivers and two running backs. It was time to start looking into the quarterback position.

No other QB was taken after the three I already mentioned. Next up on my private dynasty rankings was Justin Fields, so I grabbed him with my second pick. No, he’s not starting right away, but the stories I’ve read about him were phenomenal, and I think he has real breakout potential. Trey Lance was going to be my next choice, but he was taken from me two picks before my spot in the third round, so I settled on Mac Jones. Also hearing great stories about him! Less of a running threat, but in a better team situation than Fields, so I like that.

Then, for good measure – because I needed someone to start right away in week one – I nabbed Jameis Winston. He’s been on and off my fantasy team for years, but he had last year off (for the most part) and has been learning the Saints’ system. If he’s even remotely more careful with the ball, he’s a guy who’s capable of throwing for 5,000 yards and 30+ touchdowns. We also forget: he’s also only 27 years old; so if he does change his entire career around, that could be a steal for me.

As chance would have it, Cousins was around for my fifth pick, but I zagged and went with the Rams’ defense. I feel like they have the potential to be solid for the duration of Aaron Donald’s career, so why not? Then, with my sixth pick, Noah Fant was still available. I had him as a rookie and it sounds like the offense is going to be vastly improved in Denver, so I like the idea of having him for the foreseeable future. Also, the drop-off after Fant was pretty considerable (the next guys taken were Goedert and Tonyan; I’m good with my choice).

Then, I finally had to break down and get a third running back. Obviously, my plan to load up on the position was a failure. It was down to Chase Edmonds or Raheem Mostert in the 7th round. Edmonds went one pick earlier, so Mostert it is! I like Mostert; when he’s healthy, he’s dominant (in many ways, he’s like Chris Carson). He just can’t stay healthy. But, if I can squeeze a few weeks out of him, I’ll look to hopefully address the running back position next year.

In the 8th round, I nabbed Justin Tucker. He’s only 31 years old and he’s the best kicker in football. He could be around for another 10-15 years if he takes care of himself. After that, I went back to the quarterback well, grabbing Jimmy G. Obviously, the 49ers drafted their quarterback of the future. But, if you look at the 49ers’ schedule, it’s pretty damn easy the first few weeks of the season. I’ll mix and match with him and Mac Jones for a while until Jimmy G ultimately gets benched, and hope he has enough pride to force the 49ers’ hand in benching a guy playing well. At the very least, he has a soft landing against the Lions in week one, where I expect him to be a Top 10 fantasy quarterback (for just that one week, anyway). Yes, I know there’s potential for Lance to snipe some snaps from him, but I don’t care. As long as he’s not getting entire chunks of plays in the red zone, I’ll be happy.

With my next-to-last pick, I took a chance on Buffalo’s Zack Moss. He was a rookie last year and the team obviously liked him enough to draft him in the third round. Maybe this is the year he assumes the starter job! Of course, even then, it’s not like Buffalo runs the ball all that much. I’m hoping they get such huge leads early in games, that they’ll be running the ball exclusively in the fourth quarter.

Finally, for my super sleeper, I picked Jordan Love, backup quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. I’m going to do my damnedest to hang onto him all year. The way I see it, if none of my rookie QBs pan out this year, and are not keeper-worthy in my eyes, I’ll just keep Love and roll the dice. They obviously drafted him to be Aaron Rodgers’ replacement sooner or later. If I have no one better, why not keep him and see if he’s elite?

***

There’s obviously a lot wrong with my team at this point in my dynasty. The quarterback situation is a mess and my running back depth is nil. But, I have just the three receivers: D.K., Brown, and Lamb, and I think all three of those guys are Top 10 calibre players at the position. I’m set! In non-BYE weeks (and, in non-injury situations), I have my two WR spots and my FLEX spot all locked down. Not having any receivers on my bench affords me the luxury of carrying extra RBs and QBs. If I’m ever able to lock down the quarterback spot to my satisfaction, that leaves me more room on my bench for even more RBs, as well as potential backups to tight end or defense (which always comes in handy).

I think I’m done making RBs a priority. Unless some super-stud rookie falls to me in the first round of the draft next year, I’m just going to do my best to either stream running backs or carry enough in those second-to-fourth tiers to play matchups and hope I get around 10 points from each. If my QBs and receivers can carry me, I think that’s a championship formula. Running backs are just too damn fickle and too injury prone; it’s impossible to rely on them to be 20+ point workhorses anymore. I’d rather go for elite receivers, hope they blow up a few times a year, and just get steady-if-unspectacular production from my RBs. Plus, if I’m able to find someone on the free agent scrap heap that comes from nowhere to crush it, all the better.

***

Now, it’s time to talk about this week. My team is Snoopy & Prickly Pete (Seinfeld reference, for the second straight year!). I’m going up against the reigning league champion, Car Talk With Josh Allen (guess who one of his quarterbacks is). He’s projected to finish third in our league (one game ahead of me), and – not for nothing – he’s projected to beat me in week 1.

Here’s my week 1 lineup, barring any unexpected last-minute COVID issues:

  • Jameis Winston (QB) vs. GB
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) @ DET
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ TB
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. AZ
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ TB
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. CLE
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ NYG
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ IND
  • Justin Tucker (K) @ LV
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) vs. CHI

As I said, I love Jimmy G against a nothing Detroit defense; Mac Jones is my only other option and I’d rather not start a rookie in his first game, against a defense as good as Miami’s. As I also said, all my receivers are locked in, which means the only other choice was my #2 running back (though, I don’t love Zeke against that Bucs defense, with their All Pro guard out for this game). I briefly considered Mostert against Detroit, but I’d really like to see what the 49ers’ offense looks like, with their two quarterbacks, plus their new rookie running back angling to steal snaps. I’m rolling with all my keepers, at least for now!

Car Talk looks like he’s got the following:

  • Josh Allen (QB) vs. PIT
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) vs. LAC
  • Allen Robinson (WR) @ LAR
  • Julio Jones (WR) vs. AZ
  • Aaron Jones (RB) @ NO
  • Joe Mixon (RB) vs. MIN
  • Travis Kelce (TE) vs. CLE
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. CHI
  • Tyler Bass (K) vs. PIT
  • Baltimore (DEF) @ LV

Our teams are pretty much even (he’s a little better at QB, I’m a little better at WR) except for the difference in our projected points from the tight end position. Kelce is the best in football; mine is just okay. That’s always a huge advantage and I hope I’m able to one day have something similar on my team. In the meantime, I’ll just have to hope the Chiefs run the ball more and throw their TDs to their wide receivers. That’s a tall ask.

I’m guessing I’ll lose this game. I’ll be down in the dumps on Sunday, but a dynasty league isn’t about just one week, or even one season. This is a transitional year, and I hope to be better at the end than I am at the beginning.

In the meantime, PATIENCE! I need to practice extreme patience, and accept losing for what it is: a temporary means to an end, that will one day result in my name on that championship trophy. Maybe not this year, but one year soon. Let’s fucking go.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Return Of The Splinter League

My fantasy column (which is really just an excuse to complain about my fantasy teams, but also lets me provide my analysis on a variety of players and matchups on a weekly basis) has been a regular feature on my blog since 2018. You can catch up on the types of leagues I’m in HERE. I mostly just talk about my Main League, one I used to be commissioner of since its infancy back in the 2003-range. I’m still in it – with a group of my oldest friends – though I’m no longer in charge. I went and started my own Splinter League with some friends who are in the Main League, as well as some other friends, and it’s much more lowkey and casual. Both are 2-QB leagues that heavily skew towards more points for the quarterbacks (since they’re the most important players in the real NFL, I feel this is valid for fantasy as well).

The Splinter League is much more QB-friendly (15 yards per point, compared to 20 in the Main League; both are 6-point touchdowns and -4 points for INTs). Anyway, I’ll have more to say about the Main League at another time, but my Splinter League team just had its draft on Sunday night, so let’s get into it!

This year’s Splinter League team name is BUCK FUTTER, from the infamous SNL Jeopardy! sketch. It’s an okay name, but I didn’t have a lot of inspiration this year, especially after trying to compete with last year’s Pound Some Cunth, which was *chef’s kiss*.

I’m mostly just excited because I drafted a really good team. I’m not the only one who thinks so, as Yahoo – on draft day – pegged me for a 14-1 record this season. Just a day removed – even though Yahoo has tinkered with the projected standings of other teams – I remain with that 14-1 prognostication. I was also the only team to get an A grade by Yahoo (the next-highest was a B; then there’s a B-, with everyone else in the C-range in our 10-team league).

I logged on 30 minutes prior to find I was drafting 9th. That means that – again, with our scoring system being what it is – most of the top tier quarterbacks would be taken. The guy with the first draft pick never showed and had his team auto-drafted by Yahoo; as a result, Yahoo drafted him a team the way it would in any old league (i.e. eschewing quarterbacks early for running backs and receivers). CMC was the first overall pick. Then it went: Mahomes, Allen, Brady, Dalvin Cook, Wilson, Kyler, and Lamar (the Cook guy also temporarily forgot about the scoring system, but that’s not a bad alternative for him).

So, I was left with the guy I picked – Aaron Rodgers – among players like Tannehill, Dak, Herbert, Hurts, Stafford, and Lawrence. The 10th pick in the snake went with Zeke Elliott and Tannehill back-to-back, which left me in the illustrious position of getting Alvin Kamara with my second round pick. Outstanding! I’ve never had him on a fantasy team before and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s with me now (with no Brees, and lots of question marks on that Saints offense).

I had the usual LONG wait before I got to my third and fourth picks. I opted for Matthew Stafford over Trevor Lawrence to close out the third round (I never considered for a second going with either Baker Mayfield or Matt Ryan, who both went later in the fourth round). I’ll say this: if the Splinter League were a keeper league, it would’ve been Lawrence all day. But, we do full redrafts here, and I’m not willing to jump on the Lawrence bandwagon if there’s no long-term benefit for me. There will be lots of yards thrown, but I also anticipate lots of turnovers that will hurt him. I also wanted to go with Stafford because – like Rodgers – he’s on a team that’s going to be in the running with the Seahawks for the top seed in the NFC. If I have any bad mojo on me, and it carries over to those guys, all the better for my beloved Seahawks. Otherwise, if they play as well as I expect them to, I should have no problems at the quarterback position in 2021 (for this league, anyway).

With my fourth round pick, I nabbed Najee Harris. This is a guy I LOVED in college, and desperately wished my Seahawks could’ve somehow gotten in the real NFL draft. I was burned last year in my Main League with rookie running back CEH, but Harris seems like a slam dunk as long as he stays healthy. I can’t remember the last time I had two running backs I was so fond of! If you let me hand-pick any two running backs for my fantasy team, it would’ve been Kamara and Harris. I know guys just say things like that all the time, but for me it’s true. I think both will be durable, as well as points hogs both in the running and passing games. Plus, they’re just fun players to watch (unless they’re going against your team, then you’re never more miserable, particularly when they’re going off).

With another long wait between picks, a lot of good receivers were going off the board. I had no shot at the upper tier guys (Tyreek, Davante, Kelce, D.K., Hopkins, Diggs, and Ridley all went in rounds 2 and 3 between my picks), and players I was potentially eyeballing for the end of the fifth round, like Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, and particularly CeeDee Lamb, were all swiped from me (Lamb one spot prior). I could’ve gone after the Rams guys – Kupp & Woods – to pair them with my quarterback; I could’ve had Tyler Lockett, Amari Cooper, or even Julio for that matter. But, inspiration struck, and I decided to ride the bandwagon of another prominent Seahawks opponent in the NFC in the Tampa Bay Bucs. I got Chris Godwin in the 5th, and swung around and took Mike Evans in the 6th. People are down on Evans, but I still like his touchdown potential if he stays healthy. Godwin is playing for a new contract next year and I expect him to be fired up to make a big splash this year, statswise. I’ll put both of them in my starting lineup together and hope Tom Brady can give it another run (big “if”, I know).

With my next two picks, I was looking for Best Skill Position Available, as the Splinter League has two flex spots (and no mandatory tight end spot, though you could play TE at either/both flex spots if you wanted). Adam Thielen was sniped from me one pick prior, so I settled for Tee Higgins, who is a guy I really like anyway. I had a chance to make him a keeper in my Main League, but was ultimately scared off by the two other quality receivers they have in that offense. Nevertheless, I expect Higgins to continue to produce as long as Joe Burrow is healthy. When the draft whipped around, I got the other running back I wanted: Darrell Henderson. With Cam Akers out for the year, Henderson seems like a strong bet to break out in the Rams’ offense. There’s a chance Sony Michel takes some of his carries (particularly at the goalline), but there’s a reason why the Patriots gave up on Michel: he stinks. I might end up handcuffing the two at some point, but for now Henderson is the safer bet.

I opted to continue going Best Skill Position Available in the 9th & 10th rounds, settling on Mark Andrews first. I’m already iffy on that, but Gus Edwards was sniped from me one pick prior (seriously, that guy who drafted 8th fucked me no less than three times). I also didn’t love the value I was getting on defenses at that spot (the elite defenses were already taken, meaning I had some questionable ones left over), nor did I love the value on a backup quarterback (which I’ll talk about later). Andrews gets a lot of looks around the goalline with the Ravens, so he’s very TD-dependent; he also can get a case of the dropsies which is frustrating. Nevertheless, he’s a fringe flex guy for me until I can find someone more dependable. When we whipped around to the 10th round, Michael Thomas was still sitting there and I jumped on him.

Michael Thomas is one of the biggest question marks of this year’s fantasy football drafting world: when do you take a chance? He’s injured, he’s unhappy with the Saints, and they have a non-Brees starting quarterback heading into a season for the first time in forever. When will he be healthy enough to play again, and how will he fit into the offense? I’m hoping he’ll be back by October, and I’m hoping he returns to being one of the most dominant players in football. For a 10th round flier? Absolutely! Plus, I can stash him in my IR spot until he plays again. No brainer whatsoever.

By the 11th and 12th rounds, it was time to get a defense and a third quarterback. Somehow, the 49ers’ defense was still there, so I grabbed them. But, waiting until the 12th round meant I had slim pickins for QB. I opted for Zach Wilson, not because I believe in the Jets rookie, but because he seemed to be the best of a bunch of terrible options (including Sam Darnold, Jared Goff, and Jimmy G).

The thing with quarterback for me was: Stafford has a BYE in week 11, and Rodgers has his in week 13. Some of these guys – like Jimmy G – might not have their starting jobs that late into the season! Zach Wilson isn’t going anywhere, unless he gets injured or is supremely inept. If he’s halfway competent, he’ll give me the two games I want out of him. Teddy Bridgewater would’ve been a perfectly fine option, but he has a week 11 BYE as well, so that defeats the purpose. I didn’t have room to keep a fourth QB, nor would I want to if I did. I’d rather have a second defense, if anything, just in case!

The guys who ended up on the free agent scrap heap include Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, the aforementioned Jimmy G, Andy Dalton, and, of course, Taysom Hill. Rookies who aren’t even starting yet were drafted ahead of all these guys! It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. I have zero faith whatsoever in Zach Wilson, though. If anyone else even remotely interesting becomes available, I won’t hesitate to waive him.

In the 13th round, D.J. Chark was still available; that’s excellent value, in my book. That meant I missed out on snagging the Patriots’ defense (which I think will be good this year), who was taken with the very next pick, but oh well. With my 14th and final selection, I took a flier on a lottery ticket in Darnell Mooney, wide receiver for the Bears. He has strong sleeper potential in an offense that could be better than we give it credit for. I don’t know if he’ll be long for my roster either, but that’s okay. You can’t make an omelette without scrambling some eggs, or some damn thing.

One thing that leaps out about this team is how razor thin I am in my depth at quarterback and running back. Rodgers and Stafford just can’t get hurt, period, end of discussion. If they go down for any length of time, I’m probably screwed. Similarly, I only have Kamara, Harris, and Henderson. I need to play a minimum of two running backs every week. Thankfully, they all have different BYE weeks, but what are the odds they play every single game? Slim-to-none. So, I’ll have to work my magic on the waiver wire at some point (I have #2 priority after the draft, so I’ll want to use that to my advantage).

I get an extra roster spot with Michael Thomas on IR, so that helps. I have a couple players in mind as we get into the week that I’ll be looking to snag. Then, it’s just the long wait until the regular season starts!

I don’t know how this column is going to look this year, but I imagine it’ll be heavily discussing my Main League. However, I’ll also devote a section in each one to my Splinter League team. It’s too good and interesting to just ignore completely!

I’m also joining a third league – ran by my brother’s friend – but it’s going to be too confusing if I bring a third into the mix, so we’ll let that one go, unless I absolutely get a bug up my ass about it.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Tua The Window, Tua The Wall!!!

SKEET SKEET MOTHERFUCKERS!!! I am ROCK-HARD right now! All praise to Tua (and Sloane N Steady for waiving him, and the rest of the league for leaving him to me to pick up). My fuckin’ fantasy quarterback troubles are over (well, half over; damn Wentz). I don’t even care that I won! Not really, anyway (okay, I do care); I’m just happy Tua got me 27.9 points and looked good on the road against a frisky Cardinals defense. It’s not even that great of a performance, but it shows we’re scratching the surface of his potential, and THAT is what’s got my loins ablaze at the moment with the intensity of a thousand suns. Fuckin’ Tua, y’all! Let’s get this!

Once again, it helped my chances to have my opponent vastly underperform his projections, but a win is a win and I’ve been on the other side of this PLENTY of times in my storied fantasy football career. That being said, my 168.00 points is nothing to sneeze at! It’s on the higher side of average (and plenty to beat Beasts’ 138.50). It’s actually my second-highest output this season, which is sort of alarming (I don’t see any 200-point games in my future this year), but makes sense if you’ve been following along.

On top of Tua’s remarkable performance, Kirk Cousins was even better with 29! On top of that, my starting receivers – Jerry Jeudy and A.J. Brown – scored 25.5 and 20.1 respectively (Brown did indeed continue his streak of scoring at least one touchdown!). There wasn’t really a dud in the bunch, though my 3-headed running back hydra all scored in the 11-14 range which is just so-so. I didn’t get enough of a boost from the Washington defense to really make them worth picking up in the first place (somehow, the Giants and Daniel Jones managed to NOT turn the ball over for the first time all season, the one week I needed them to of course), but in the end it didn’t matter.

Speaking of Jerry Jeudy, I’m finding him to be a really interesting mid-season find for my roster, not just as a potential keeper, but as a potential Starting Wide Receiver alongside A.J. Brown. As a rookie, Jeudy clearly had the best game of his career this past week, which is giving me pause, as I had intended him to be a one-game plug-and-play. I wouldn’t have even picked him up at all if Brandon Aiyuk wasn’t placed on the COVID list! But, Jeudy has 24 targets in his last two games. Now, the downside is, obviously, Denver’s quarterback situation. It’s not good. But, Drew Lock is CLEARLY better than his backups, and they can somewhat move the ball when he’s in there. I can’t tell if Lock is good yet (as I absolutely refuse to watch Broncos games because they’re so boring), but he might be. And I think Jeudy has the potential to be this year’s A.J. Brown (who, down the stretch LAST year as a rookie, really dominated for a lot of really good fantasy teams). So, I think I’m going to hang onto Jeudy and start him for a while, because his matchups the rest of the way are pretty solid. And, if he kills it, my wide receiver spot is locked cold!

Beasts got a huge boost from the return of Christian McCaffery (37.1), but Russell Wilson obviously had a tough game, and Justin Herbert was the only other player on his team to hit double-digits. Everyone else was under 10.

Before the weekend was finished, I made a roster move, picking up Dallas Goedert, who is healthy and the primary tight end (at the moment) for Carson Wentz and the Eagles. Noah Fant is not so reliable for me; he keeps getting injured (missing some snaps this past week after an early big gainer, never really picking things up from there) and he’s on an offense (again with the Broncos) that can struggle to move the ball. Goedert is a legitimate Top 10 tight end when healthy, on an offense that LOVES to throw to its tight ends (especially in the red zone). As long as Zach Ertz is out, Goedert is a phenomenal pick-up for me.

To make room, I officially had to abandon the Daniel Jones experiment. He went from keeper (and hopeful fantasy franchise quarterback), to on the waiver wire in half a season. What a disgrace! Both for him and for me! But, I mean, you can’t keep banging your head against the wall when something isn’t working. I have Cousins now and he’s a much more reliable third QB. Tua is the future! Dimes was a mistake.

More roster moves needed to be made, as it appeared I had two wide receivers coming off of the IR in Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. My first drop went to the Washington defense. I had three on my roster last week and that’s about two too many (but I’ll never drop the Rams’ defense, as they’ve got solid matchups coming up this season).

As of press time, I haven’t officially made the other move I need to make, because I still have up until Sunday morning. You never know who’s going to get tagged with a COVID designation for the week, so I don’t want to go dropping anyone before I have to. If I do end up needing to drop someone, it’s going to be Noah Fant. I have no use for two tight ends on my roster and if Goedert ends up getting hurt again, I’ll just pick up someone else. Fant isn’t even a top ten tight end – though he’s been a relatively consistent high-floor/low-ceiling guy – so I don’t mind streaming tight ends the rest of the year if I need to.

My concern is: my kicker is on a BYE this week. Harrison Butker hasn’t been the world-beater I expected (I REALLY regret taking him over Justin Tucker two rounds before the final round, where most people draft their kickers); he’s ranked 14th in our league this season. The Chiefs predominantly score touchdowns because they have an elite offense, which was to be expected, but he hasn’t been hitting as many 50+ yarders as I thought he would, and he’s annoyingly missed the most PATs in football, that have taken points AWAY from his total! But, I don’t want to just fucking lose him for nothing, because I know as soon as I drop him, he’s going to go off for some games in the high teens. So, I’ll be waiting until the last minute to pick up a replacement kicker; the guy I end up dropping to do THAT will be TBD.

This week, I go up against Crazy N8’s Prostates, the guy I improbably defeated in Week 1, as well as the guy who just traded for Drew Brees and Julio Jones. He’s currently 4th in the standings, yet has far-and-away scored the most points. Here’s what Nobody Beats The Wiz is looking at starting:

  • Tua Tagovailoa (QB) vs. LAC
  • Carson Wentz (QB) @ NYG
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. IND
  • Jerry Jeudy (WR) @ LV
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) vs. DEN
  • Chase Edmonds (RB) vs. BUF
  • Dallas Goedert (TE) @ NYG
  • Brandon Aiyuk (WR) @ NO
  • TBD (K) vs. TBD
  • Indianapolis (DEF) @ TEN

Pretty easy choice with the quarterbacks, as Kirk Cousins is playing a stout Bears defense on Monday Night Football. I expect that game to be low scoring, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Cousins turn the ball over a lot. Also a no-brainer for my starting wide receivers, as Brown is a Must Start and Jeudy might be heading that way. It’s a no-brainer for my running backs as well, because Ezekiel Elliott and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are both on BYEs. My FLEX spot is still up in the air, as there’s a rumor that Deebo Samuel might be healthy this week. If he is, he’s my guy over Aiyuk. However, with the 49ers scheduled to have a BYE next week, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them rest Deebo one more week before bringing him back super fresh. As for my defense, I don’t love the matchup, but I can’t play the Rams against my Seahawks, even if Aaron Donald alone will probably get three sacks and they could have a field day if Wilson continues to turn the ball over like he’s been doing.

I’m catching some more good BYE-week luck with Crazy N8’s Prostates, as both Julio Jones and Travis Kelce are out this week. As you’ll see, though, he has replacements more than capable of filling their shoes:

  • Josh Allen (QB) @ ARI
  • Drew Brees (QB) vs. SF
  • Allen Robinson (WR) vs. MIN
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. SEA
  • James Conner (RB) vs. CIN
  • Aaron Jones (RB) vs. JAX
  • Eric Ebron (TE) vs. CIN
  • Keenan Allen (WR) @ MIA
  • Justin Tucker (K) @ NE
  • Green Bay (DEF) vs. JAX

He has some of the SICKEST matchups this week. I mean, Robert Woods alone – against our inept Seahawks defense – is just a nightmare. But, all his receivers should do great, his running backs might score three TDs apiece, his quarterbacks will certainly be fine, and I bet Baltimore kicks a lot of field goals against the Patriots on the road. He’s even got an elite defensive matchup (I should know, I picked up the Packers this week in my other league, where I should reiterate I am CRUSHING it).

Nobody Beats The Wiz is going to need to WILDLY outscore projections. This would be, probably, the most perfect time to net my first 200-point week of the season.

At 4-5, I’m in 7th place in the league, JUST on the outside-looking-in at the playoffs. I now have the third-fewest total points, having leapfrogged Korky Butchek for the honor. Now that everyone has played everyone once, we officially have a season that will count in the record books; if COVID officially ruins everything … well, I won’t have my name on the trophy, that’s for damn sure.

That having been said, I don’t expect the season to ever shut down completely. I have four weeks to make up ground. If I get lucky, my final two regular season games could be against my direct competition for the 6th and final spot in the playoffs. I technically have control of my own destiny; if I win out, I will definitely make the post-season. But, come on, let’s not go overboard here.

One week at a time. Let’s go 2-0 against Crazy N8! Wouldn’t that be something?

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Nobody Beats The Wiz!

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE
  • Pre-Season Week 2 HERE

Oh that’s right, I’ve decided to name my team after the great Seinfeld character!

Nobody beats this guy!

Anyway, we had our draft last Friday, and of course I opted to go rogue. Look, I don’t know who reads this! I can’t be handing my league-mates possible insights into my fantasy football mind! So, you know, I conveniently left out the part that my top two guys were NOT Mike Evans and Aaron Jones, but rather:

  1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  2. Miles Sanders

To be fair, I did talk about Sanders last week. In going back and looking at his numbers, I didn’t realize just how many targets he gets in the passing game! Considering I also have his quarterback – Carson Wentz – and they still might not have the best crop of wide receivers in the world, I wouldn’t have thrown that connection out of bed.

But, all along, my true number one was always Clyde Edwards-Helaire (I might just shorten that to CEH even though it looks like an unpleasant search term on Pornhub or something). Remember before when I was bemoaning how there weren’t any great rookie running backs in this class? Remember how I wanted my Saquon Barkley? Well, he might be it! He was looking like a dark horse fantasy candidate before Damien Williams decided to opt out of this season due to COVID, but now that he’s the true #1 on the Chiefs, there’s just no denying him! His potential is through the roof!

Sanders would’ve been the safer pick, because at least he has a year of experience. But, I’ll take upside every time.

Just as I suspected, the guy with the #1 draft pick – COVID Bubble Boys – opted to go quarterback with his first selection: Drew Brees. Definitely a Playing For Now type of guy, and you have to respect that. He’s already got Lamar Jackson, might as well take his shot every chance he gets!

That left me with my pick of the litter, CEH. Sure enough, Miles Sanders went #3. THEN Joe Burrow went off the board! Followed by Aaron Jones, Tom Brady, Mike Evans (to the guy who had him last year, in effect giving him five keepers), Baker Mayfield, Chris Carson, and D.K. Metcalf rounding out the Top Ten.

That D.K. Metcalf pick is an interesting one, because he was CERTAINLY a guy I was targeting (although, I wanted him much later than when he went). That’s what’s hard about being in a fantasy football league with guys who either currently live in the Seattle area or have lived a long time in the Seattle area: the good Seahawks tend to get over-valued. Russell Wilson, for instance, has been on the same fantasy team since his rookie year, kept every single time by the same guy. Chris Carson is certainly an elite running back when he’s healthy, but he’s finished every year of his pro career with an injury, and there’s no reason for that not to continue. Tyler Lockett was kept this year mostly because that guy didn’t have a great fourth option for his keepers. And, while Metcalf certainly looked phenomenal in his rookie season last year, he’s still young and still a member of this offense, that likes to spread the ball around more than just about any other.

Metcalf COULD be the next Julio Jones; he seems to be driven as such. But, in this offense, he’s very touchdown-dependant (and very deep play-dependant). You might see a lot of lines like: 4 catches for 88 yards and 2 TDs. Which, yeah, is 24.8 points in our league, but without those two touchdowns, you’re looking at 12.8 points (which is okay, but nothing to write home about, especially for the first receiver you’ve drafted). In my mind, Metcalf would’ve been an ideal third receiver for a fantasy team, so I was a little disappointed he went off the board before I’d even selected my first.

That brings us to the second round (I won’t go through all of them, I promise); with three RBs on my team, I knew I was going receiver, regardless. Thankfully, some great ones remained! Kenny Golladay ended up going one spot ahead of me, but I was okay with that, because it means I get to enjoy Odell Beckham Jr. for the first time in my fantasy career!

I don’t know how ODB fell to me, but I’ll take him! I mean, I sort of know how he fell to me: he plays for Cleveland. He’s a diva. He could score me 40 points … or he could get so mad, blow up, and retire in the middle of a football game. It’s all on the table! The headache and the constant worry can be a little much, and I get that. If he were my first draft selection, I’d be much more nervous; but, as a second? The pressure is off! I’ve already got the guy I’ll be looking to keep next year. Had I landed ODB back when he was on the Giants, I’d be looking at him with those same eyes, figuring I’d hold onto him for many years to come. But, this way? I see him as a one-year rental. A hired gun to help bring me a championship.

I went back to the WR well in round three. Two top receivers from the 2019 rookie class – Scary Terry McLaurin and A.J. Brown – were both sitting there (among many others, of course). Once again, my choice was made for me by the COVID Bubble Boys, as he nabbed Scary Terry. That was a tough one; I had him last year, and was looking to reinvest! The Washington Football Team is a disaster – and they’re starting with Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, which could be a shitshow – but Scary Terry is a rising star and could help make anyone throwing to him look good! So, I settled for A.J. Brown. Considering I thought he might’ve been a keeper at one point, I think that’s a pretty swell consolation prize. I’m not a believer in Ryan Tannehill, but I’m also willing to be wrong. If he – and the Titans – can recapture that magic from 2019, then A.J. Brown could be even BETTER than a #2 receiver.

A lot of other receivers were taken in that round, but I wanted to get one more just to be safe. So, with my fourth pick, I went with DeVante Parker. It was either him or Robert Woods or Michael Gallup (kinda wish I’d remembered he was out there and grabbed him instead) or Courtland Sutton. Parker has been around for a while, but had a breakout season last year; when he’s on, he’s a bona fide #1 guy. But, I think the risk with him is that he doesn’t totally buy in. That he’s more of a fair-weather football player. Plus, he plays for the Miami Dolphins, and they will likely be breaking in a rookie quarterback at some point this year. Look, I’m not expecting a lot out of Parker; I mostly just took him because Yahoo had him rated so high (and because I REALLY didn’t want to pick LeVeon Bell, who fell REALLY far in this draft because he’s old and on the Jets and it’s pretty apparent the current Jets coaching staff doesn’t like him much). If we look back at where I screwed up my season, I’ll be looking at this pick (and probably wishing I’d gone with Gallup).

With my two quarterbacks, three running backs, and three receivers, I took a couple chances on some guys who might not help me right away; “projects” or “developmental guys” if you will. Cam Akers, rookie running back for the Rams, was my fifth pick. I love a running back from an explosive offense! The Rams sent Todd Gurley packing, so that running back job is wide open. I don’t think Akers will start right away, but he could get the nod as the season wears on. If he proves himself, he could be either a valuable trade chip OR a stud for me in the fantasy playoffs.

Then, with my sixth pick, I grabbed receiver Deebo Samuel. He’s injured at the moment, but has just started practicing, and could come off of whatever injured list he’s on. No one figures he’ll play much in the first couple weeks, but if he heals properly, he could be another boost for me after the season gets going. The downside is, of course, that his injury is to his foot, and foot injuries for receivers are notoriously chronic. Part of me worries that he’ll be dealing with this foot thing all year, which won’t be enough to put him on the IR, but will hamper him JUST enough to be rendered ineffective. I suspect the minute I feel confident in starting him will be the game where he comes out in the first quarter with that foot injury, never to return again.

You’ll notice I have yet to mention selecting a tight end. What can I say? The good ones didn’t stick around, and I always saw a better receiver or running back when it was my turn to pick. Finally, I had to bite the bullet. There were a couple potentially-solid guys left over – Hayden Hurst for the Falcons went in the following round, and Hunter Henry for the Chargers went a round after THAT – but I opted to go with second year player Noah Fant for the Broncos. As a first round pick for Denver last year, CLEARLY Fant is someone they want to feature pretty heavily in their offense. Reports indicate they’re moving him all around pre-snap (from along the O-Line, to in the slot, to out wide like a receiver) and I take that as a VERY positive sign that he has a lot of fantasy upside. I know, Drew Lock is their quarterback, but even mediocre throwers still manage to find a tight end safety valve every now and then. I don’t ask a lot from my tight ends; just get me around ten points per week. Anything more than that is gravy. I have a feeling that I might be eating a lot of gravy this year with Fant in the fold.

With my eighth pick, it was time to buy a lottery ticket. Mecole Hardman, wide receiver with the Chiefs. He’s mostly just a big play wide receiver, but he has the best of the big play quarterbacks throwing to him! He’s also one Tyreek Hill injury away from being this team’s #1 guy (and, with the way Hill plays – always putting his body in harm’s way to make a play – that’s not much of a stretch for me to make).

Confident with the rest of my roster – from a skill position perspective, anyway – I decided to use my ninth pick to take the first kicker off the board: Harrison Butker, also of the Chiefs. Give me as many Chiefs as you got! My man Crazy N8’s Prostates bemoaned the pick – as he had the same idea – and he had to settle for Justin Tucker few picks later.

With two rounds left, I still needed a third quarterback and a defense. Yikes, I know. I was eyeballing a third quarterback as early as that DeVante Parker selection, but none of the leftovers really caught my eye. Down to the nitty gritty, there STILL wasn’t anyone who caught my eye; it came down to Teddy Bridgewater, Dwayne Haskins, Mitch Trubisky, and the guy I ended up going with: Sam Darnold of the Jets. Yeah, I know.

Trubisky was a hard pass, because his career is on the ropes, and I don’t know if he’ll still have the starting job by the time I need him (my starting QBs have BYEs in weeks 9 and 11, so it should be some time before I actually NEED a third guy). Of course, idiot that I am, I didn’t realize until the moment of this writing that Darnold ALSO has a BYE in week 11 (SIGH), but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Anyway, I ruled out Bridgewater because I don’t think he’s good, and that team he’s on has no one but an elite running back to throw to. I ruled out Haskins because he sucks and that team sucks. That’s not saying much, because I also think Darnold sucks (and the fantasy league would seem to agree, considering how far he fell) and the Jets suck, but I do believe Darnold has SOME upside. This will be his third year, after recovering from an injury-plagued start to his career. Love or hate his head coach, the guy at least has a reputation as someone who does well with quarterbacks. I don’t plan on starting Darnold unless absolutely necessary. But, if he proves – with improved play – that he’s viable, I may have to work him in (considering I can’t be totally sold on someone like Danny Dimes at this point in his development).

Regretfully, the New England defense went one spot before I picked Darnold; the Patriots were CARRIED by their defense last year, and by all accounts they should be good in 2020 as well (my only concern was not knowing who on their team has opted out of this season for COVID reasons). With my final pick, I went with the highest-rated defense remaining: the Indianapolis Colts. I don’t have a lot of confidence, but I fully expect there to be a good defense for me to grab on waivers at some point.

Yahoo graded me with a B+ which is good for middle-of-the-road in our league (5th in rankings). However, I’m projected for a second place finish in our league at the moment of this writing! I have the league’s youngest team once again, but I’m hoping it actually pays off this time.

More than anything, I’m hoping my team name proves prophetic. Nobody Beats The Wiz? I sure hope so! It couldn’t be any worse than that year I went as Mr. Poopy Butthole …

***

Really quick, let’s take a look at this week’s matchup. Nobody Beats The Wiz is facing off against the aforementioned Crazy N8’s Prostates. Here’s my lineup:

  • Wentz (QB) @ Was
  • Jones (QB) vs. Pit
  • ODB (WR) @ Bal
  • Brown (WR) @ Den
  • Jacobs (RB) @ Car
  • CEH (RB) vs. Hou
  • Fant (TE) vs. Ten
  • Elliott (RB) @ LAR
  • Butker (K) vs. Hou
  • Ind (DEF) @ Jax

Predictably, I’m expected to be carried by my running backs. I think Yahoo is under-projecting Wentz against a terrible Washington Football Team, but they might be over-hyping Indianapolis against the Jaguars, who won’t be good, but could still be a little frisky on offense. Crazy N8’s Prostates is projected to win our league this year, and is favored against me this week. Here’s his lineup:

  • Dak Prescott (QB) @ LAR
  • Josh Allen (QB) vs. NYJ
  • Allen Robinson (WR) @ Det
  • Keenan Allen (WR) @ Cin
  • James Conner (RB) @ NYG
  • Aaron Jones (RB) @ Min
  • Travis Kelce (TE) vs. Hou
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. Dal
  • Justin Tucker (K) vs. Cle
  • San Francisco (DEF) vs. Ari

I have … a lot of concerns. I could see that Cowboys/Rams game being a shootout. I think Josh Allen is going to RAMPAGE over a terrible Jets defense. His receivers both have juicy matchups against mediocre secondaries. Kelce should thrive against the Texans. And, even the 49ers could come up with lots of turnovers in taking advantage of a Cardinals offense that’s pretty aggressive.

Thankfully, there’s so many unknowns at this point in the season. Even after the first week, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions. I just need to ride the wave of anxiety and hope for the best. I think I have a pretty solid team from top to bottom. But, teams are rarely as good on paper as they end up being in real life. Who will be the great disappointers this year? I can hardly wait to find out!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Corona-Draft Prep

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE

Well, the keepers are set in place, and now I get to look forward to our draft this Friday. There were some minor surprises – and a couple big ones – so without further ado, let’s take a quick glance at how wrong I was about my projected keepers for the rest of the league:

  1. Russell Wilson, Christian McCaffrey, Chris Godwin, Matt Ryan (all correct)
  2. Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, James Conner, Travis Kelce (Odell Beckham Jr., Mark Ingram, and Keenan Allen all available to draft)
  3. Deshaun Watson, George Kittle, Derrick Henry, Cam Newton (Aaron Jones)
  4. Jared Goff, Drew Lock, DeAndre Hopkins, JuJu Smith-Schuster (A.J. Brown and Raheem Mostert)
  5. Kyler Murray, Saquon Barkley, Michael Thomas, Joe Mixon (Mike Evans)
  6. Aaron Rodgers, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen (Amari Cooper)
  7. Patrick Mahomes, Alvin Kamara, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett (all correct)
  8. Jimmy Garoppolo, Tyreek Hill, Gardner Minshew, Todd Gurley (Matthew Stafford)
  9. Lamar Jackson, Julio Jones, Austin Ekeler, Kenyan Drake (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold)

I remember being MUCH more successful in predicting my league’s keepers before last season, so I don’t know what that says about me or the state of the NFL right now, but it makes the upcoming draft more interesting!

Until I saw the actual keepers, I wasn’t too thrilled about my prospects as the guy with the #2 overall draft pick. It just seemed like there wouldn’t be anyone really dominating for me to select. BUT, I see two guys among the leftovers who are VERY exciting! Not just for 2020, but for many years to come potentially!

Of this group, Mike Evans and Aaron Jones are both VERY enticing to me. Either one of them could fall to me and I’d be ecstatic with whoever I get. I know I bemoaned Tom Brady’s noodle arm last week, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be interested in the weapons he has to throw to. For starters, Brady isn’t totally inept; he hasn’t fallen completely off the cliff just yet. While Mike Evans has been mostly a deep threat thus far in his career, he still has a ton of value as a red zone target, and should thrive with someone like Brady throwing jump balls his way. If, by the grace of all that is holy, both Evans and Jones were to fall to me, I’d have to go with Evans simply because the drop-off at receiver is so steep among him and the rest of the leftovers.

Odell Beckham Jr. is, of course, one of those leftovers. I can’t say that I agree with exposing him to the rest of the league while keeping someone like Josh Allen, but you know, there’s a reason why I haven’t won a league championship in the fantasy trophy era (2010-Present). I think the Cleveland Browns – and by extension, their players – are pretty underrated in 2020, after being so very OVER-rated heading into 2019, so there could be some good value in guys like ODB and Baker Mayfield. If I picked lower in the first round, I’d be over the moon if someone like ODB fell to me; someone is going to get an absolute steal.

Aaron Jones was one of the best running backs in all of football last year, at least from a fantasy perspective. So, it’s shocking to see him available. But, it’s telling that he is, because the owner who exposed him is also a lifelong Packers fan. If HE’S not keeping Aaron Jones, there must be a reason (he’s also the reigning league champion, but that’s in spite of him auto-drafting last year, as well as never checking his e-mail, so we’re all in agreement that this was a fluke, and if his wife weren’t cc’d on all league e-mails, we’d probably never hear from him again). I have to believe Aaron Jones still has a lot of value, though, so if Mike Evans goes to the guy drafting #1 overall, I’m okay with nabbing Jones, even though I’ve already kept two running backs. There’s still the FLEX spot, and there are only so many bona fide, workhorse running backs in the league, so you really can’t have too many.

That would, of course, necessitate my drafting wide receivers in both the second and third rounds (which might see me needing to reach for some lesser players, but that’s the price you pay, I guess).

As I stated before, I still haven’t done a ton of research heading into the draft, as my objective at this point is still to mostly go by what Yahoo tells me. But, to pique my curiosity, I checked the season projections and found some surprising guys among the leftovers.

Miles Sanders, running back for the Eagles, is rated VERY high. Even higher than Aaron Jones! I can’t remember the last time an Eagles running back was worth more than an in-season free agent pickup (probably Shady McCoy), because they so often are in a time-share with multiple backs. But, he’s been definitively named the starter by the head coach, which is saying a lot but also not saying anything at all. Why would the head coach be motivated to give away such news for free to the rest of the league? Also, there’s no saying he has to stick with that, if Sanders under-produces or gets hurt. Sanders was really good towards the end of last year though, so I think that’s where the hope lies.

Not ODB nor Mike Evans is the highest-ranked wide receiver remaining; that falls to Allen Robinson of the Bears. I don’t totally get that, but ESPN also has him ranked pretty high, so I guess I have to believe it. With Chicago’s quarterback situation being what it is, I don’t have ANY faith in any of their players, but if he somehow falls to the second round, I might have to take him anyway.

Kenny Golladay is also rated above ODB and Evans, and he seems like a safer pick. He has elite talent, and Matthew Stafford is healthy again. It’s looking highly likely that MANY wide receivers are going to fly off the board in the first three rounds of our draft, so I’ll be interested to see who I’m able to grab.

Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, and Darren Waller are the three tight ends I’m looking at right now. Andrews is probably the only guy worth reaching for (maybe in the second or third round, if he’s still there), but if the draft doesn’t fall the way I want it to, I have no problem waiting until the end of the draft to pick up a tight end. There will be someone on waivers worth claiming in the first week or two of the regular season.

I need to resist the urge to get a third quarterback too early, but there are LOTS of veteran options out there (who I would anticipate get snapped up before I have a chance), including Drew Brees, Brady, Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill, and Tyrod Taylor. There’s also Baker Mayfield, who still has a lot of potential to be great, as well as Darnold and Dwayne Haskins (who stunk last year, but is still young enough to turn it around). And then, of course, there are the rookies. The more I think about it, the less inclined I am to want to reach too early for any of them. I also wonder if Joe Burrow won’t be the first overall player taken in the draft, considering the guy picking there and how badly he’s been looking to shore up his QB spots. Having Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow for the next generation might be too tantalizing to pass up.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Winning A Squeaker

Very little about my team pleased me this week. The underwhelming performance kicked off with a thud on Thursday Night, when Scary Terry was well on his way to a solid game. He had 7.90 points at halftime, when it was discovered that Case Keenum had a concussion and was out for the rest of the game. Washington’s backup is a total bust, so 7.90 points was all Scary Terry could muster, as balls flew WELL out of his catch radius.

Sunday morning kicked off promising enough, though. Cooper Kupp had 35 points relatively quickly in his game. Gardner Minshew threw for 3 TDs, and even Carson Wentz did all right for himself against my Buffalo defense (who got me SOME points, which is all I was really asking for). But, of course, the INSTANT I bench Daniel Jones, he reverts back to Danny Dimes! He’s gotten me 80 points for my bench in his best two games of the year; meanwhile whenever I start him he’s that fucking Michigan J. Frog sitting there like a wart on my ass!

“Mediocre” is the best word to describe the rest of my team. The best of the rest was Tyreek Hill’s 14.10 points in the Sunday Night game.

Meanwhile, TheGangUnderperforms had quarterback troubles as expected. Big games from Julio Jones, Leonard Fournette, and Stefon Diggs kept him in it. Heading into Monday Night, I had a tenuous 25.35-point lead and no one left to play. He had Pittsburgh’s defense, who went into the halftime just doing okay, but apparently really turned it on after I went to bed. In the end, I won 147.55 to 145.20. Here’s to better times.

***

The win pulls me up to 4-4 on the season, in fourth place (I have tiebreakers over all the other 4-4 teams; there are four of us in total at 4-4) by way of having more total points. I’m fourth in total points, but there are a bunch of us who are really close; I still have the second-most points against. If I lose this week, at least one team will leapfrog me; more on that later.

***

We’re back to basics this week. Only one prominent player on BYE and that’s Kupp. I’m sticking with Wentz & Minshew (for as long as he’s still starting; damn you Nick Foles, don’t take this away from me!), because I don’t like Dimes against that Dallas defense. I’ve got Hill and Hilton as my receivers, both in okay matchups. Gotta love Le’Veon Bell for the first time this year, going up against whatever Miami has going on with their defense. Zeke is back and well rested, so he should pour it on against the Giants. I’m Ride Or Die with Waller and Jacobs, so let’s hope the Raiders do well against the Lions.

I don’t get to keep A.J. Green in my IR spot anymore, since he’s projected to come back after this week’s BYE, so that’s a little good news/bad news. I had to drop Gerald Everett to make room, but I can’t really justify keeping a second tight end with so many good players out there. I also dropped Robbie Gould, who effectively won me last week’s game with his 9 points, but also cost me David Montgomery (I had to drop someone), who I KNEW it was only a matter of time before he started kicking ass. That one really hurts, because I’d tried my damnedest to keep him, but the roster crunch is real.

To fill the empty spot, I picked up Jaylen Samuels, who I somehow got even with my relatively low waiver priority. It doesn’t look like James Conner is going to be out long (if at all), but I don’t mind stashing him on my bench for at least this week. I also picked back up Derrius Guice to put in my IR spot. They have him on track to suit up in Week 11, so he’s definitely someone to hang onto for the stretch run.

***

My opponent this week is Koncussion Protocol, who has a 3-5 record, but has about 6 more points scored on the season; so indeed, if he beats me, he’ll pass over me in the standings.

Thankfully, he has a number of guys out this week. Brees, Austin Hooper, and the Rams’ defense are all on BYE, plus Cam Newton is still recovering from injury. That leaves him with the very good Deshaun Watson, and the very okay Kyle Allen. His receivers are D.J. Chark and Allen Robinson; his running backs are Aaron Jones, Marlon Mack, and Derrick Henry. He’s got Kittle at tight end and Green Bay’s defense going up against the woeful Chargers. I have three of his guys in another league I’m in, so I’m sure the fantasy football gods will find a way for me to lose both games somehow.

His kicker is also the Rams’ kicker, and this is really interesting. He dropped Legatron to pick up Mason Crosby. I have to believe someone out there is willing to stash a second kicker on his bench for a week in order to upgrade to one of the best in the game. Since I’ve already got Tucker, I don’t see the point, but bully for whoever out there needs the boost.

Yahoo has me favored pretty comfortably, but I see a lot of touchdown-hungry players on his team, so nothing is taken for granted by the Space Pirates!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 7

At some point heading into last weekend, I dropped Alfred Morris for Bilal Powell.  Morris was an absolute last-ditch option for me (I assumed the 49ers would get KILLED by Green Bay and throw it constantly, not necessarily that they wouldn’t play him whatsoever).  I had Bilal Powell in my lineup for a hot minute – as a potential hedge against the iffy proposition of starting a semi-injured Adrian Peterson – but then before gametime Sunday morning, I saw that Isaiah Crowell was active, and I reverted back to having AP get the nod.  Even though the Jets were at home, and in a favorable-appearing matchup with the Colts, I still liked the chances of AP over any sort of Jets timeshare.

As soon as I knew I wasn’t going to need Powell on my team, I swapped him out and picked up Detroit’s kicker (who was on BYE), who will be my guy going forward.  Yes, Robbie Gould had a fantastic game against the Packers, but I’m not counting on the 49ers being this high scoring going forward; Detroit’s offense is always going to be good as long as Stafford is around.

All in all, these moves had very little to do with my 184.95 to 142.25 drubbing of DelBocaVistaPhase2.  Truth be told, I had this week in the bag as soon as he traded away James Conner (28.90) and kept Dak Prescott (35.35) on his bench.  It’s hard to blame him for the trade, because who knows how long Conner is going to be Pittsburgh’s starting RB; and I know I won’t fault him for benching Dak, who was going up against the Jags (a defense I liked an awful lot in that matchup in Big D).  Those are the What If’s you have to live with as a fantasy owner; it’s why this game is a total mindfuck sometimes.

My ass was pulled out of the fire by Hill (39.20), Wentz (33.30), Thielen (29.30) and Dalton (23.45).  I got a shameful amount from my Bears defense, and Calvin Ridley’s day was cut short by an ankle injury.  Ridley will be on my bench going forward, as Robert Woods is too prolific to keep off my starting lineup any longer.  5 straight weeks of 14+ points!

I’m now 3-3, holding steady in 5th place in the league.  I have the 3rd most points scored, and I’m down to the 3rd most points against, so we’re slowly but surely starting to even out.

No waiver claims for me this week, as I’m not on the Ito Smith train just yet.  Gonna need to see him REALLY take over that Devonta Freeman role before I believe it (someone did pick up Ito Smith as a free agent and actually waived Freeman even though we have an IR spot at our disposal, which is something to think about).  That puts me up to 6th in the league’s waiver priority going forward, which isn’t great, but it’s better than nothing.

I was eyeballing David Njoku – who’s got a juicy matchup against the worst defense in football against tight ends – but Yahoo was dicking around with my IR designation on Fournette, as there’s apparently a quote/unquote chance that he plays this week.  Apparently, if you’re not ruled out completely, you’ve still got to be rostered on the bench.  Since I didn’t really want to give up on Calvin Ridley just yet – on top of the fact that I have 2 tight ends on my roster already – I decided to let Njoku sit out there.  He was promptly picked up Thursday morning, so we’ll see if I’m regretting this come next week.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz vs. CAR
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ KC
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. CIN
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ NYJ
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ WAS
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. DAL
  • TE – Greg Olsen @ PHI
  • FLEX – Robert Woods @ SF
  • K – Matt Prater @ MIA
  • DEF – Chicago vs. NE

My bench is:  Carr (BYE), Ridley, Fournette, Golladay, Reed.

Watch this be the week that Jordan Reed goes off, but I don’t care anymore.  God dammit is he sucking my will to live!  I know Philly is pretty amazing against the TE position, but they also haven’t played very many elite tight ends so far this year, and it’s not like they’re perfect.  I’ll take my chances with the upside of Olsen (and hope he doesn’t re-injure his foot mid-game) over the steady mediocrity of Reed.

As I said before, Woods is in my lineup to stay.  Most likely.  I might mix n’ match him and Golladay depending on who they’re going up against, but Ridley is gonna be riding in the bitch seat for a while (his days on King Flippy Nips are probably numbered, if I need to make any emergency roster moves).

Up next, I’ve got a date with Sloane N Steady, who I’m catching on a pretty good week, as one of his main guys is Aaron Rodgers, who will be on a BYE.

Sloane N Steady has arguably had even worse luck than King Flippy Nips this year!  Last week, he suffered the same fate I did a couple weeks prior, in having the second-most points for the week in a losing effort.  But, his loss was by only 2.9 points.  He’s also had another loss earlier this season by a mere 0.45 points, so to say he’s due for an unlikely win is an understatement.  Here’s who he’s got:

  • QB1 – Andrew Luck vs. BUF
  • QB2 – Case Keenum @ AZ
  • WR1 – Josh Gordon @ CHI
  • WR2 – Devin Funchess @ PHI
  • RB1 – Melvin Gordon vs. TEN
  • RB2 – Isaiah Crowell vs. MIN
  • TE – Trey Burton vs. NE
  • FLEX – Allen Robinson vs. NE
  • K – Adam Vinatieri vs. BUF
  • DEF – Houston @ JAX

His bench is:  Rodgers (BYE), Dalvin Cook, Lamar Miller, Nick Chubb, T.Y. Hilton.

All things considered, I probably couldn’t be playing him in a better week.  No A-Rod, he’s got a bunch of guys banged up, the Browns haven’t recognized that Chubb deserves to be getting the lion’s share of the carries in that backfield (I have him on another team and it’s a constant source of frustration, as I absolutely REFUSE to drop him from my team; it’s a matter of principle at this point).

Sloane N Steady is 1-5 and in last place in the league (he’s 5th in points scored, and has the 2nd-most points against), but it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if he makes a second half run.  With Rodgers and Luck dealing, with Gordon, Cook, and Chubb all eventually healthy and starting, with solid points out of his receivers and a good defense and kicker, he could definitely make some noise if he goes on a winning streak.

As for this week, however, it would take quite an upset.  We’ll see.  That wouldn’t shock me in the slightest either; my fantasy teams tend to play down to their competition, so if I’m back on here bitching about a loss next week, don’t say I didn’t warn myself.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: The All-Important Draft

See the first post in this series for what I’m talking about here.

Well, we did it.  I drafted my team and, if I do say so myself, I think I did a pretty good job!  Of course, I always say so myself, because why wouldn’t I?  I brought in these players, I must like them to some extent!  Because they’ve yet to disappoint me.

It’s all downhill from here.

As I talked about last time, my 3 keepers are Wentz, Fournette, and Elliott.  Since I had my RBs set, I didn’t have to focus on them too much in the early going.  So, after the first three rounds took care of the keepers, I went to work bolstering my WR unit.

I picked 8th, in every round.  I won’t list out every single pick, but I’ll at least show you the first round, to give you an idea of the players we had available:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Saquon Barkley
  3. Melvin Gordon
  4. Cam Newton
  5. Keenan Allen
  6. Davante Adams
  7. Matthew Stafford

So, those were the guys taken right before me.  Both of the top QBs that were left out there, the top 3 RBs, and my two favorite WRs.  I was bound and determined to get a receiver; the available ones were:  A.J. Green, Mike Evans, Gronk (technically a TE, but still), T.Y. Hilton, and Tyreek Hill.  I went with Hill.  I like Mahomes a lot, I like that offense, I think Hill is a stud in the prime of his career who will be the focal point of that passing game (as opposed to the tight end-centric offense run under Alex Smith), and I just believe he has the highest upside to really blow out some games.

I should point out that all of those other receivers I listed off were taken by the time I drafted again.  I still wanted to go WR – to knock that position out of the way – even though I desperately needed a second QB (and, one might argue, a FIRST QB, since who knows when Wentz will be ready).  Adam Thielen was sitting there and he felt like an obvious pick, so I took him (the other WRs were Amari Cooper, Jarvis Landry, Larry Fitzgerald, and Doug Baldwin; I think I made clearly the best choice).

By my next pick, all of those receivers were gone, as well as the next two best tight ends (Kelce and Ertz), so I went into the QB well.  No more QBs were taken after Cam & Stafford, so I had my pick of the shit-filled kitty litter.  I went with Derek Carr, upside over recent success.  I think he’ll be a transformed player under Jon Gruden and even if the Raiders are a terrible team, I think they’ll be behind in a lot of games and throwing the ball a ton.  Plus, they don’t really have a defined #1 RB (a respectable committee led by Beastmode), so I think this could be great for me.  The other QBs available were Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Blake “The Bort” Bortles, Dak Prescott, and Case Keenum.  Ben is obviously better, but I can’t trust him to play a full season.  I might regret not taking Alex Smith though.

When it came back to me, in Round 7, Demaryius Thomas was still sitting there at the top of the Yahoo rankings.  I needed a flex guy, and honestly the value I was getting for Denver’s #1 receiver was too good to pass up.  I might’ve gotten the steal of the draft, or he might be the bust that everyone is expecting.  We’ll see, I’ll take my chances.  By taking him, though, I missed out on Chris Carson, his teammate Emmanuel Sanders, Jacksonville’s defense, the Rams’ defense, Allen Robinson, and Corey Davis, among others.

In Round 8, I took the best tight end available (who was also among the best overall players available), Greg Olsen.  My plan going into the draft was to wait until one of the last three rounds to take a tight end (as well as a defense and a kicker), but Olsen is elite, and the drop-off in tight ends was significant (plus, like I said, he was one of the top players remaining).  I missed out on Marquise Goodwin, Mark Ingram, and Minnesota’s defense, among others.

Next, I started filling my bench, with Robert Woods leading the way.  At this point, I still haven’t grabbed a third RB, and that might be my undoing if I have injuries to my top two guys.  A run on RBs went right after I took Woods, with guys like Lynch, Peyton Barber, Rex Burkhead, Chris Thompson, Dion Lewis, and Carlos Hyde all going off the board.

In Round 10, I went back to QB, because it’s always smart to have a competent third (in case of injuries, BYEs, or if Derek Carr really does suck), so I bought low on Andy Dalton.  In Round 10 of a 2-QB league, I think I got really good value on this one too.  Plus, I think everyone is severely underrating him this year, and I like him to bounce back in a big way.  I passed on Jameis Winson, because I can’t have his 3-game suspension hanging over my head if I don’t know Wentz’s status those weeks and I didn’t want to have to roster 4 QBs.  I also passed on guys like Mitch Trubisky, Mayfield & Darnold, Ryan Tannehill, and Eli Manning, which I’m okay with.

Next up, Adrian Peterson was still there, so I grabbed him.  I don’t know if that’s going to work out for me, but he’s a #1 RB in the 11th round, so beggars can’t be choosers.  The other RBs available were all backups or in time-shares (Latavius Murray, Sony Michel, James Conner, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, and Marlon Mack, among others).  If worse comes to worse and I need an RB off waivers, I’m sure I can find someone, so I’m not too worried about it.  If best comes to best, then in AP I have a 1,000-yard rusher on a good offense.  (I will say that I’m disappointed that Will Fuller V was taken 2 picks after this; I think he’s a stud).

In Round 12, Jordan Reed was still there, so I grabbed him.  Yep, the guy who was going to wait and take whatever TE was left over in the final rounds … ended up drafting TWO of them.  But, when healthy, Reed is a Top 3 TE.  And now he has Alex Smith throwing to him, the ultimate in TE-friendly QBs.  Plus, Greg Olsen is getting up there, so it’s nice to have some TE insurance.

In the lucky 13th round, I grabbed Kenny Stills.  All the podcasts I was listening to in the week leading up to the draft cited this guy as a potential break-out player.  Tannehill apparently loves him, he’s a target monster, and with Landry out of the picture, he should be the team’s #1.  I am CRUSHING this draft with all the value I’m getting!

In the final two rounds, I finally had to go grab a defense and a kicker.  I drafted Baltimore’s defense in the 14th, and ‘Frisco’s Robbie Gould in the 15th.  Whatever.

Yahoo’s stupid grading system put me in the middle of the pack with a B grade.  It hated my Derek Carr pick (about 6 rounds too early according to ADP?), but it loves my Thielen pick, as well as my RB keepers.  My team is the 2nd oldest in the league, which might be troubling; then again, my tendency is to draft a lot of young guys and where has it gotten me?  Nowhere near the championship trophy, that’s for damn sure.

So, we’ll see how it goes.  My schedule is one of the toughest in the league, so that’s fucking great.  Then again, why should I trust Yahoo’s grading?

Seahawks Death Week: A Lot To Like About 2015

Last year’s edition of Seahawks Death Week wasn’t a whole lot of fun.  A lot of rage and soul searching went into those posts, as well as a lot of not writing about sports at all.  Just shutting down in hopes of getting to the next month with a clearer head.

This time around, it’s actually not that bad.  When you have a Lowest Possible Moment as a sports fan, any other bad moments you have after that will always pale in comparison.  Oh, the Seahawks lost to the Panthers in the Divisional Round?  Well, at least they didn’t blow a Super Bowl by getting too cute with the play calling!

My point is, yeah, it sucks not having football anymore, but at least I’m not questioning whether I should even follow the sport anymore.  At least I’m not so aggravated that I’m worried about sending myself to an early grave (for what it’s worth, there are many other ways with which I AM sending myself to an early grave, but being a Seahawks fan thankfully isn’t one of them).  If I can get over the Seahawks throwing the ball from the 1-yard line, I can get over this trivial nonsense, because literally everything is trivial nonsense when compared to the Worst Thing In The World.

Yes, there is a lot to pick at with this team, but today I’m going to try to stick to only positive things.  From this point forward.  Probably.

For starters, the 2015 Seahawks won more games than they lost.  That’s always a good place to start.  10-6 regular season record, not too shabby.  Good for a Wild Card berth, which easily makes us one of the top 12 teams in the league, and when you discount the Texans and Redskins right off the bat, you’re talking about one of the 10 best teams in the league.  If this were college, and we’re talking about rankings, there’s an argument to be made that the Seahawks were one of the 5 best teams in all of football.  I know the season didn’t end the way we wanted, but watching quality football week-in and week-out always beats the alternative.

On top of that, I think it’s important that this is a team that you can be proud of.  The Seahawks had to overcome SO MUCH coming into this season!  I don’t know what’s harder, getting over the Super Bowl hangover after you’ve won it all, or getting over the Super Bowl hangover after you lost, but I don’t think there’s anything worse than getting over a Super Bowl hangover after you lost the way we lost last year.  That shit is magnified times a million.  Not only is that your last image of your previous season, but that image is replayed for you over and over and over again, all off-season, and all during the next season.  I wish I had kept a record of how many times we were all forced to re-watch that play throughout 2015, but it had to have been in the dozens.

If the Seahawks had finished around 8-8, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised.  The target was on their backs for a second straight year, the dark cloud of humiliation was constantly hovering, they were tired and fractured and questioning everything they knew about the game of football.  And yet, they plowed through, beat the teams they were supposed to beat, and got stronger as the season went along.  They started the season playing like a mediocre, middle-of-the-road also-ran; they finished the season as one of the best teams in the game.  What ultimately was their undoing – it could be argued – is that their crappy start was too much to overcome.  A Seahawks team – playing as well as they were in December – with home field advantage in the playoffs would’ve been a force to be reckoned with.  Instead, having to go on the road for the duration of the post-season was ultimately too much, and a terrible first half in Carolina did them in.

Regaining the players’ fire and passion for the game makes this one of the best coaching jobs of Pete Carroll and Co.’s careers.

2015 looks to go down as the turning point in the Pete Carroll Era of his Seahawks tenure.  Up until now, the Seahawks have been a defensive juggernaut, with the offense doing just enough to survive.  Not counting the strike-shortened 1982 season, 2012-2014 were the three greatest seasons in Seahawks history from a “points allowed” perspective (we gave up 231 points in 2013, 245 in 2012, and 254 in 2014).  Obviously, those were all best in the NFL for those respective years, and 2015 was no different, as we gave up 277 points, good for 6th all time in franchise history (non-strike year edition).

The offense the last few years has been pretty good, of course.  But, in 2015, the offense made a huge leap forward, scoring 423 points, good for second all time in franchise history.  256 of those 423 points came in the final 8 regular season games, or nearly 61% of our total output.  That coincides with the huge leap forward in Russell Wilson’s play (and, by proxy, the offensive line).  And, when you talk about 2015 being a “turning point”, you can’t forget that this was the season where Russell Wilson elevated his game to the next level.  Where, if he can keep it up for the long haul, he’s looking at a probable Hall of Fame career.

Wilson has always been good.  You don’t get to back-to-back Super Bowls if your quarterback isn’t good.  But, take a look at his numbers this year compared to an average of his numbers from 2012-2014, and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

  • 2012-2014:  265/417, 63.5% completions, 3,317 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs, 6 Fumbles
  • 2015:  329/483, 68.1% completions, 4,024 yards, 34 TDs, 8 INTs, 3 Fumbles

I mean, that’s a massive increase in production.  If he matches those numbers – or hell, if he manages to get BETTER – you’re talking about a consistent MVP candidate every year for the next decade.  2015 will go down in Seahawks lore as the year Russell Wilson started to put it all together.  Just think, we’re right at the start of his prime!  And he MIGHT be even better than anything we’ve seen to date!

Wilson’s improved play obviously trickled down to the receivers.  Doug Baldwin was the primary beneficiary, and it’s nice to see him start to get the recognition he deserves.  78 receptions, 1,069 yards, and 14 TDs were all career highs, the 14 TDs tying him for the league lead with Brandon Marshall and Allen Robinson.  11 of those 14 TDs came during an all-time great outburst of production over five games, from Week 12 thru Week 16.  Here’s to hoping it continues, and the Wilson to Baldwin connection goes down in Seahawks history with the likes of Krieg to Largent (or, I guess Zorn to Largent, I can never remember who Largent did more with).

2015 was a markedly down year for Marshawn Lynch (and sadly, probably the last for him in a Seahawks uniform), but it saw the rise of Thomas Rawls, before he was tragically cut down with a broken ankle in Week 14.  Before that, in somewhat limited action, he ran for 830 yards and a 5.6 yards per carry average (both leading the team).  As this was his rookie season, we should still have him under team control for the next few years.  If he recovers from his injury and returns to form, the offense doesn’t skip much of a beat if the team indeed lets Lynch go.  Rawls is still a rookie, and has some stuff to work on (mostly his hands in the pass-catching part of his game), but there’s a lot to like about where this team is headed as we enter in the great unknown of a Lynch-less future.

Speaking of other exciting, productive rookies, Tyler Lockett was an All Pro returner who just so happened to quickly integrate himself into the offense as the team’s third receiver.  He finished his rookie season third on the team in yards with 664, and second on the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns with 51 and 6 respectively.  His speed is among the best in the league, allowing our offense to take out the top of opposing defenses; even when he’s not catching long bombs, he’s a weapon other teams have to plan around, opening up options underneath for guys like Baldwin, Kearse, and Graham.

Speaking of Kearse and Graham, I thought they were wildly successful in 2015 and I hope to have both back in the fold going forward.  Kearse is a free agent, so it’s unknown at this time what his market is going to be.  It’s also unknown how much the Seahawks are willing to allocate to him, with so many other needs on the roster.  Kearse isn’t flashy, but he’s gotten better every year.  He’s got reliable hands and a good rapport with Wilson.  As Baldwin ascended to become one of the top receivers in the league, Kearse sort of supplanted him as Wilson’s security blanket.  You’re not going to get a ton of big plays out of him, but he runs good routes, and he’s physical.  As a fan since his UW days, I could understand it if the Seahawks moved on, but I have to admit I’d be a little heartbroken to see him in another uniform (maybe watch out for the 49ers on this one; he seems like a guy who’d be right up their alley as they try to replace Anquan Boldin).

Graham, on the other hand, caught a lot of shit early on this season.  Well, partly Graham, and partly the offensive coordinator.  I always liked the move to bring Graham in (though, I’ve come around on the point that the Seahawks should probably build up their receivers from within, as opposed to trading or signing for big name studs); I thought Unger was poised to continue breaking down (he ended up playing in all 16 games for the Saints, but he is getting up there in age), and I thought we could get by with the guys we had in camp along our offensive line.  But, when the team struggled out of the gate – and the offensive line played like a turnstile – it was obvious all around that the team had miscalculated some things in their off-season plan.  Letting Unger and Carpenter go proved to be a major setback, much more glaring than we ever could have anticipated.  And, with the Seahawks struggling to get Graham the ball through the first five weeks of the season, the whole thing looked like an unmitigated disaster!  But, I’ll say this:  Graham’s numbers improved as the season went along and everyone got more comfortable with everyone else.  The offensive line settled down with Patrick Lewis, giving Wilson time to throw, and Bevell finally figured out the right plays to call to get the most out of our Pro Bowl tight end.  While Graham’s touchdown numbers never came around, he had big games against the Panthers, Cowboys, and Steelers before he was lost for the season with a torn patellar tendon.  On the plus side, he should make a full recovery, and the hope is for his rapport with Wilson to get better and better.  If we can just figure out how to get him the ball in the red zone, there won’t be any stopping us!

This post is already starting to balloon on me, so instead of cramming the defense in today, I’ll save that post for tomorrow.  In spite of my negativity towards that unit, there is still a lot to like about that side of the ball, for 2015 and going forward.