Give Me Back XLIX

I don’t generally spend a lot of time responding to other blog posts I find on the Internet, but this one from Field Gulls was too good to pass up. It’s a great idea: which of the Seahawks’ two Super Bowl defeats would you rather have back?

It’s so good, because there are terrific arguments for both cases. I don’t know how to choose! It’s like you’ve got three kids: one of them has a genius-level IQ, calls you on the reg, is always being complimented by friends and strangers alike, and generally is just a joy to be around (Super Bowl XLVIII); then there are the two shitbirds. One of them has a drinking problem, is constantly borrowing money from you and never paying it back, and has 6 kids with 5 different women (Super Bowl XL); the other has ruined literally every single holiday by fighting with the relatives, has a racist and homophobic long-term, off-and-on boyfriend with a mullet and a vast collection of confederate flags, and she makes her living bilking old people out of their social security with a variety of telephone and e-mail scams (Super Bowl XLIX).

Just thinking about either of those two games makes me sick to my stomach. WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?!

My gut instinct is to take Super Bowl XL and turn that into a Seahawks victory. That game almost broke me, and not just because I managed to consume upwards of 18 Miller High Life’s (Lives?) throughout the day before passing out ass up and pajama pants down on the floor near my bedroom in West Seattle.

Yes, I said near my bedroom.

Everything about that game was FUCKING ANNOYING. Re-living it in that blog post back in 2014 was a waking nightmare. How do I count the ways? Steelers fans and the Pittsburgh Steelers in general. Ben Roethlisberger is somehow a 2-time Super Bowl Champion. Jerome Bettis. Hines Ward. The God-damned refs. Just, fucking kill me.

That game doesn’t have a ton in common with Super Bowl XLIX, but the one overriding theme between the two Seahawks Super Bowl defeats are all the self-imposed mistakes we committed. While the latter had the one big one at the end, the former had many throughout.

But, ultimately, I don’t know how good that 2005 Seahawks team was. Our offense was fine, but the defense was suspect. I’d like to know how that game would’ve turned had our secondary been healthy (and not starting a bunch of guys right off the street), but regardless I think that was a pretty mediocre defense, all things considered. With the offense prone to blunder after blunder, it was all too much to overcome.

As I sit with the question a little longer and give it some genuine thought, the loss to New England in XLIX was far more galling.

We were obviously coming off of our only world championship in franchise history, and we accomplished the seemingly-impossible: getting back to the big game while avoiding any sort of Super Bowl Hangover. The 2014 Seahawks were stacked, bringing back pretty much everyone from the year before, all in the primes of their careers.

Of course, those Patriots were great too, but the Seahawks were the superior team in this one. This was supposed to be the start of our big dynasty. Now, obviously, we’ll never know how different the subsequent few seasons would’ve been had the Seahawks prevailed at the end of XLIX, but back-to-back titles is so rare that we’d be talking about that era of Seahawks football much more highly than we do now (which is more of an air of What Could’ve Been). Instead, those Seahawks harken back to the Bears of the mid-80s, as a team that should’ve won a lot more than they ultimately did.

Fortunately, as long as Russell Wilson is around, if we ever do manage to get back to the Super Bowl, that Seahawks team will be lumped in with the L.O.B. era, just as the Patriots teams of this past decade are lumped in with those of the previous decade, thanks to Tom Brady’s participation. But, that’s neither here nor there.

The Seahawks gagging away XLIX – combined with the Falcons gagging away their huge lead – really turned the tide of sentiment in the Patriots’ favor. If you JUST gave the Seahawks the victory in this alternate universe, there’s an argument to be made that the Seahawks (and NOT the Patriots) would’ve been the Team of the 2010’s, in spite of the fact that the Pats still made it to more Super Bowls. The reason is: we’d both have the same number of titles, but they never beat us head to head, which is the ultimate decider.

Seahawks fans will always remember this team’s appearances in the big game, and we’ll always have that victory to hang our hats on. We can go back and re-watch the game over and over again if we want! Many teams have never even APPEARED in a Super Bowl, let alone won it! You think the Vikings or Bills fans wouldn’t trade places with us this instant?

But, I’m looking big picture here. If the Seahawks won Super Bowl XL and XLVIII, that’s a nice story. It boosts Mike Holmgren’s stature as a Hall of Fame head coach, and it makes us 2-1 in those games. But, those appearances are too far apart to have any lasting impact. On the flipside, winning XLVIII and XLIX – on top of what those teams were able to do in that 5-6 year stretch, particularly on defense, from 2012-2016 or so – that’s getting to legendary status.

Instead, as I mentioned above, there’s a lot of regret. Ultimately, we’re talking about upwards of anywhere from 5-8 hall of famers on those teams (Sherman, Wagner, Wilson, Thomas, and Chancellor for sure); with that collection of talent, how did we NOT win more championships? It also has a troubling effect on Pete Carroll’s chances to make the Hall of Fame. Two Super Bowl titles seem to be the bar you have to get over to make it a foregone conclusion. At this point, how many more chances will he get?

So, yeah, give me XLIX. If for no other reason than we can all stop re-watching that fucking pass at the goalline every fucking year for the rest of our fucking lives.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: All Hell Breaks Loose

I feel these sorts of weekends in my bones. It usually starts with the Huskies losing on Saturday. I wake up as hungover as can be on Sunday, there’s no Seahawks game, and I’m up against a buzzsaw in fantasy. In this case, I’d go on to lose in all four fantasy games I’m involved with, so I avoided watching football entirely (for Family Guy and Brooklyn Nine-Nine reruns in bed).

I kept track of the score on my phone for a while, but at some point it became too sadomasochistic to continue. Beasts, my opponent, started off his week with Russell Wilson going off for 40+ and Chris Carson beating expectations to get nearly 20. Then, he had Christian McCaffrey score almost 50, Matt Ryan in a shootout, Chris Godwin picking up all the slack for the Tampa offense, and for good measure Edelman and Boyd having huge days.

I, on the other hand, benched Josh Jacobs (almost 30) for David Montgomery (10) and Minshew (almost 30) for Dimes (12). Not that it would’ve mattered; Wentz, Hilton, and Waller were all mediocre, and I had absolutely no one in the realm of Beasts’ best guys.

I was crushed 253.66-150.05. I’d be complaining about my bad luck, but someone else in the league dropped 260 on the poor sap who’s still winless on the year. My defeat drops me to 2-3 and 7th in the league. I’m down to just the 6th-most points, but the 2nd-most points against (the last place team has the most points against at 950.65 and I’m at 940.77; the 3rd-most points against is only 793.14, to give you an idea how unlucky we’ve been).

***

What’s worse is that I’m setting myself up for another loss in week 6. I have a tight end and defense on BYE, with no backups to put in their place. Furthermore, Jacobs, Hilton, and Montgomery are all on BYE as well, which is a huge setback.

I’ve got Wentz at MIN and Minshew hosting the Saints; I fully expect two mediocre games from them (Dimes is at New England and is unstartable in this Thursday Night matchup). My Big 4 of Kupp, Tyreek Hill (looking on pace to return for the first time since Week 1), Zeke and Bell are all set to start for me, which is nice to finally have back. But, my FLEX is a little iffy with Scary Terry being my choice over Chris Thompson. They’re playing the Dolphins, so if there’s any time to load up on Redskins players, this might be the week, but with their coaching & quarterback shuffling, who the fuck knows? Can Justin Tucker score 30 points somehow?

My opponent – Crazy N8’s Prostates – will be fielding a full team. They’re, of course, better than me even when I’m at full strength, so I really expect to get killed for the second time in a row. He’s got Dak in a juicy matchup against the Jets, with Cousins in a potential shootout against the Eagles. He has Keenan Allen, ODB, and James Conner; with David Johnson, Ingram, and Kelce rounding out the offense. He could also toss Sammy Watkins into his FLEX if he so desires. And, since he actually has roster flexibility, he was able to grab Dallas’ defense off of the scrap heap, who figure to murder the Jets this weekend; it’s certainly risky to bench Sacksonville’s defense, but when you have a chance to field a defense going up against one of the worst teams in the league, you have to do it.

I’ve just gotta weather this storm and hope for better days in the second half of the regular season. There’s still a lot of time to get right, but I’m in desperate need of Carson Wentz to pick his game up. I also need to figure it out when it comes to Minshew vs. Jones; I somehow make the wrong decision every single week, even though I feel like my judgment is sound. Dimes didn’t have a great matchup last week, but Carolina’s defense to date had been murder on opposing quarterbacks. Maybe it just boils down to Minshew being the real deal and Dimes being a flash in the pan? I can’t help but feel I’m about to have the rug pulled out from under me; that I’m going to finally start Minshew and that’s the week he turns back into a pumpkin.

Regardless, if it wasn’t clear before, it’s all but assured I won’t get to enjoy a Top 2 finish to the regular season (and a first round playoff BYE). It’s hard enough to win ANY week in fantasy, but having to win three in a row during the playoffs is damn near impossible. This week, I’m going up against the last person in our league to do it (I think). Maybe I can get some of that magic to rub off on me.

The other hard truth I might have to face as the season progresses is that my team just isn’t very good this year. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time focusing on the future and not enough time on getting better in the short term. It certainly doesn’t help that I made Roethlisberger my first draft pick, that I got unlucky with Hill getting injured in week 1, and that I drafted T.Y. Hilton over Tyler Lockett, among many other disasterous decisions. This year is a learning experience. Of course, I could say that damn near every year, where I continue to remain off of the championship trophy entirely.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Trade Hijinks

The question on my mind this week: should spouses be allowed to trade with one another?

This is a story about a different league I’m involved with – one that I’m the commissioner of – so don’t get this confused with what I’ll talk about later. I’ll take you back to last Thursday. My team was playing someone who has Drew Brees. It’s also a 2-QB league, and her third QB (the only other healthy one she had on her roster) was Marcus Mariota, who was going up against Jacksonville on Thursday Night Football. She hadn’t updated her lineup all week – so Brees was still in the starting lineup; Mariota was on her bench – as kickoff came and went. I wasn’t about to say anything, because she was my opponent! If you don’t look at your roster by Thursday night, that’s on you! I figured she’d make a free agent claim over the weekend and we’d all have a good laugh.

Instead, on Saturday, I got a text asking me to push a trade through so she could set her lineup.

There aren’t any rules about trades in my league. Not really. I’ve never vetoed a trade in my life and I wasn’t about to start now. I legitimately don’t believe in it. Part of it has to do with trusting people to do the right thing. Part of it is you never know how these things are going to shake out in the long run; you can easily overreact in the moment (if you think one person is fleecing another), but then it turns out to be more even than you expected as the weeks go on. Part of it also has to do with the fact that pretty much EVERYONE has very intense reactions about pretty much every trade that’s ever happened, and by and large they’re largely just that: overreactions because they’re just bitter they didn’t have a chance to make a better offer.

I like trades. I like wheeling and dealing with other people. I like trying to come up with terms that someone else will accept (while at the same time secretly getting something over on someone else with my “brilliant fantasy football intellect”). I like shaking my team up and getting new guys to play around with. And, I generally find the reactions of others pretty amusing when I’m involved in a trade that’s perceived to be one-sided. The funniest parts of the TV show The League are when cries of “COLLUSION” are bandied about, because it’s so true to real life.

That having been said, this trade – on paper – looks pretty bad. It’s not the worst fantasy trade I’ve ever seen (that would still be when I got Shaq in his prime for Erick Dampier one year – which may or may not have been legitimate collusion, I can’t remember – but pretty much destroyed the entire league as a result), but it’s far from equal right now, and I think it’ll look a lot worse over time:

  • “Team Fleeced” Got: Mason Rudolph (QB) and Cleveland’s Defense
  • “Team Fleeced” Gave Up: Damien Williams (RB) and Chicago’s Defense

Now, if the defenses were reversed, and it was Rudolph and Chicago going one way, with Williams and Cleveland going the other, it might be more reasonable. But, just going by draft projections, we’re talking about Chicago (generally the number one defense selected, alongside maybe Baltimore) and a running back that was considered to be in the top 10 of fantasy backs, if not in the top 10 of all players (in standard leagues); whereas we’re talking about an okay defense in Cleveland, and Big Ben’s backup making his first career start. It’s a bad look. To her credit, she already had Minnesota’s defense on her roster, and Cleveland’s defense has a lot of talent, so the Cleveland/Chicago comparisons should probably line up pretty close by season’s end. But, if you polled fantasy football players, I feel like well over 90% of unbiased voters would choose the Bears over the Browns for their own teams, if given the opportunity.

As for Rudolph vs. Williams, it’s no contest. Rudolph looked awful against the 49ers; Williams is the starter on an offense that scores the most in football. He’ll be out for one week, maybe two? Then, he’s dialed in as your starting RB for the rest of the season as long as he remains healthy.

I said up top, we won’t know how this looks until season’s end, but I have a pretty good feeling there will be a clear winner, and with it potential changes to the league’s rules heading into next year.

I don’t want to pick on spouses, because I don’t believe for one minute that this was done with the intent to collude to win a league championship. I’ve known these people for years, so believe me when I say that I trust their intentions. But, I mean, you’ve got two people living in the same house, who’ve got nothing but time to discuss their rosters (I assume that’s what married people do? Talk about their fantasy football teams all day every day?). Why reach out to the rest of the league when it’s so much easier to trade with someone right in front of you? Also, time was of the essence; she had one day to roster a second QB, and Rudolph probably seems like a better option than whoever’s left as a free agent; so there’s not a lot of time to put feelers out to the league on a Saturday when people have lives and things going on.

But, we’re talking about a guy who has been playing fantasy football for over two decades and who’s been watching football his entire life, against a gal who is on her third season in the game (all in this particular league) and is just a casual football observer. In that case, regardless of whether he intended to or not, it’s one person taking advantage of another’s inexperience.

This isn’t the first time a questionable trade between spouses has happened in this particular league. Two years ago, a husband – again, in need of a quarterback – gave up Todd Gurley & C.J. Beathard for Blake Bortles & Kelvin Benjamin. That was arguably Bortles’ best season of his career, but I mean come on. Gurley was the best offensive player of 2017. His wife, who already had a good, playoff-bound team, went on to win the league’s championship, largely on the back of Gurley crushing opponents.

Again, I’m not against trading, but there has to be an argument that both people are getting something at least CLOSE to equal. But, in each of these deals, we’re talking about one person taking advantage of another’s desperation. Being desperate is no excuse for flipping the whole league into one person’s advantage.

So, I dunno. I might have to make a change for next year. I don’t want to outlaw trades entirely, and I don’t want to be the sole arbiter. So, maybe it has to fall to a league vote on every trade. That runs the risk of – again – people being bitter and voting against every trade because of their own biases, but we’ve got people of varying skill levels in this league, and something has to be done to level the playing field.

I really hate my gut reaction to this, because as I said before, most of the time these things are overblown. But, as commissioner, I’m torn. I take that role seriously, maybe definitely too much so. I take things to heart in a situation that’s totally ridiculous and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Football itself doesn’t matter when compared to real life events and whatnot; fantasy football, by its own definition, doesn’t matter to the Nth degree. I don’t like calling people out, because I’m not really interested in shaming people for something that doesn’t matter. But, I also have a responsibility to the league as a whole, and a need to ensure things are above board. Trades are a slippery slope; they breed resentment. Retaliations generally come in the form of even MORE lopsided trades, this time with actual collusion in intent. Then, the league blows up and you’re left with nothing but hurt feelings and randos as your opponents.

***

My worst-case-scenario came to fruition last week, as my Space Pirates! lost to Space Forcin’ by a score of 222.46-198.95. His score was the highest that anyone has posted all season long. My score was the second-highest that anyone has posted all season long. Of course this happens to me. I can’t be allowed to have nice things! Perish the thought!

It’s pretty rare that both teams in a weekly matchup can get A+ grades, but this is what happens. Cooper Kupp went off for over 30 points. Four other guys got over 20 points, and Buffalo’s defense wasn’t far behind with 19. Everyone on my team except for Justin Tucker scored in double-digits. But, I mean, it just wasn’t even a contest! Mahomes, Kamara, and Lockett each scored over 30 for his team; two others scored almost 30. Only if I had the option of going back and replacing guys in my lineup with higher-scoring bench guys (Danny Dimes had 41, for instance), I still only would’ve BARELY beaten him by less than 1 point (and, seriously, who in their right mind would play someone like Chris Thompson over Le’Veon Bell?). It was the perfect storm, and one that I could see from about 5,000 miles away.

As a result, my team falls to 1-2 on the season, in fifth place in the league. Much like my unlucky streak from a year ago, I find myself with the fourth-highest point total, and the first-highest points-against total. Can’t catch a break. Just gotta find a way to stay in the playoff hunt (top 6 advance, with top 2 getting a first round BYE).

***

I made a waiver claim for Wayne Gallman in every league I’m in, and I got him in every league except this one. Ehh, it happens. I didn’t totally need another running back just yet anyway, and in the long run I still have Chris Thompson on my bench, who is a pretty solid plug n’ play guy if you’re desperate (PPR leagues only).

Some interesting news, as I woke up this morning to check all my waiver claims (much like a survivalist goes around the camp checking all his traps for stray rabbits and rodents and whatnot), someone proposed a trade! To me! This so rarely happens, I feel like the prettiest girl at the ball. I’m almost always the one throwing things out there to mix it up.

This one, I’ll admit, is pretty interesting to me. Beasts is asking me to give him Danny Dimes, and in return he’s willing to give me Matthew Stafford and Chris Godwin.

I’m just running it all through my head right now. Dimes is a rookie quarterback who has made all of one start in his young career. Of course, in that start – by our league’s scoring – he got over 41 points, which is pretty remarkable. Nevertheless, it was his only start, and there’s still so much we don’t know about him. What we do know is that Tampa’s defense is pretty mediocre. We know his offensive line is pretty shaky, and he doesn’t have a ton of weapons (reduced all the more impactfully by the injury to Saquon Barkley). His value might literally never be higher than it is right now; he could be the next Christian Ponder or Jake Locker or take your pick (name any terrible first round bust). In return, I’d be getting a legitimate veteran starting QB and a #2 receiver in an offense that has to throw it a billion times a game.

But, I’m obviously torn. For starters, I don’t love Stafford. I don’t love how that offense is being neutered into a more balanced attack. He’s only had one good week and that was against Arizona, who might have the worst defense in all of football. Now, Beasts picked the right week to offer him up, because he’s facing Kansas City, and you would expect the Lions will need to throw the ball a ton. But, with that comes the obvious risk of him throwing interceptions. Stafford isn’t reliable to me. As for Godwin, you just never know. He can blow up in some weeks, but he can also disappear. That offense has a ton of different people to throw to, with Mike Evans being the clear #1 focus. Plus, I feel like my team is full of Chris Godwin types. Cooper Kupp, Christian Kirk, Scary Terry, T.Y. Hilton, these are all boom or bust types, albeit ones with higher floors than people you’d see on waivers.

In looking at Beasts’ team, it’s an interesting move. He’s already got Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson as his starting quarterbacks, but I have a hard time figuring he’s doing this to shore up his bench. I’m wondering if he’s maybe starting to sour a little bit on Ryan?

On the flipside, in looking at my team, I’m reluctant to do any 2-for-1 deals when I’ve still got Tyreek Hill on the bench and A.J. Green on IR; I’m not letting those guys walk. And, honestly, I think I like the rest of my depth guys more than I’d want Godwin on my roster. I mean, I literally just blew my #1 waiver priority on Scary Terry, so if I don’t keep him around, I’m a huge fucking idiot.

My biggest concern, though, quite frankly, is the chance that Dimes might turn out to be one of the best five fantasy quarterbacks in the entire league. He has that stink of someone who was drafted WAY too high, and that’s still in the backs of everyone’s minds. Let’s see how he does against Washington, then Minnesota, then the Patriots. Later on he plays Chicago and Green Bay to boot. He could come crashing down to Earth so hard it’ll make all our heads spin, and all the doubters will be out in force with their I Told You So’s.

But, I mean, who scores 41 fantasy points in their first-ever start? This isn’t just a controversial rookie tearing up the pre-season. This isn’t just comparing him to the corpse of Eli Manning. This is a regular season game, on the road, playing for the country’s #1 market for that market’s #1 football team. The closest comp for those kinds of fantasy numbers would be Mahomes’ first start in 2018, when he threw for 256 yards and 4 touchdowns (but even he had a mediocre & meaningless start in the final week of 2017 after the Chiefs had clinched).

I mean, if I trade Dimes for Stafford and Godwin, I could be the guy who traded Manhattan for $24! This is a decision that could affect the fantasy league for the next decade!

Part of me wants to counter his offer with a request for his best player, Christian McCaffrey. I don’t think he’d accept that offer, but what if he did? What if he’s so sure about Dimes being the next Mahomes that he accepted it in a heartbeat? I think I’d be terrified to even throw that out there!

When you’re in a league with 4 keepers, as I’ve said before, you’ve always gotta have at least 1 eye toward the future. The way my team’s set up right now, I’ve given myself a lot of options: Wentz, Dimes, Zeke, Bell, Hill, Jacobs, and maybe even Kupp or Scary Terry if they continue to really kill it. The funny thing is Dimes might end up being the best of that bunch, and the guy I decide to keep around for his entire career. I got in on the ground floor of something potentially special. The last time I made this kind of move, it was Wentz in his rookie year, and so far you’d be hard-pressed to say it’s paid off for me. He’s been injured a lot, and he really doesn’t have a lot of those supernova blowup games where he goes off for 40+ points. You need those in our league, especially when you’re playing against a top team like Space Forcin’.

So, I’ll give it some thought. I’ll let it sit out there and think about it a bit. As soon as Dimes goes down with a season-ending injury this week, I’m sure I’ll want to crawl into a hole and die. We’ll see how it goes.

***

This week, I go up against The Lance Petemans, who are currently 0-3 and in last place. He’s had a rough go the last season and a half, but he’s also got his name on our Championship Trophy more times than anyone else in the league, so no one is feeling sorry for him.

I’ve obviously got Dimes in my lineup with Wentz; my receivers are Kupp, Scary Terry, and we’ll see (T.Y. Hilton if he’s playing, probably Christian Kirk if he’s not); Bell is on BYE, so I’ve got Zeke and Jacobs (hoping for a bounce-back week for the rookie, now that he’s over his illness); Waller is a locked-in Top 10 TE in football, which is a fun thing to have grabbed off the free agent pile a few weeks back; I’m hoping Tucker has a better game against the Browns this week; and with my bench being so stacked, I’m forced to roll with the Bills’ Defense at home against New England. I’m just hoping for maybe a few sacks or something, I dunno.

The Petemans are down a Jimmy G, so they’re rolling with Andy Dalton in primetime. He’s still got Tom Brady, who’s still pumping out the points in the early part of the season, so that could do a ton of damage to my defense. His skill guys include all of the Rams that I don’t have (Gurley, Cooks, and Woods), but I don’t know if he’s playing all three of them or not (he currently has Woods on his bench). The rest of his guys are … far from ideal. He’s got Houston’s Defense going up against Carolina, so that’s a real wild card with the Panthers going with a young QB.

At the moment, Yahoo has me as a slight favorite, but their projections are usually bad. They’re shorting Dimes about 20 points, for instance …

This Is Exactly The Kind Of Game The Seahawks Might Boner

I’m usually a little more doom & gloom than I care to be on these pre-game Seahawks posts, always looking on the dark side, trying to find all the ways we can blow it, and this one is no different. But, let me be clear right from the top: the Seahawks SHOULD beat the Saints this weekend. I’m picking them in my weekly picks, and I fully expect the Seahawks to be 3-0 when we reconvene on Monday to talk about it.

The Seahawks have had a pretty charmed life so far in the 2019 season. That Bengals game easily could’ve gone sideways, when we were all expecting a double-digit victory. Without question, the Seahawks looked better against the Steelers, but you can’t deny we got lucky with that Roethlisberger injury. The way they started to move the ball in the second half, combined with our two lost fumbles, it might’ve looked mighty different in the second half if he was fully healthy and playing the full 60.

Ramp that good fortune up to 12 this week, with the loss of Drew Brees as the Saints come to town, and it’s easy to see why we’re all in agreement one way or another about the Seahawks prevailing. The deck is so STACKED in our favor it’s incredible:

  • No Drew Brees
  • Teddy Bridgewater is (likely) starting
  • The Saints have had to stay on the west coast all week after losing to the Rams last week
  • Teddy Bridgewater is mediocre
  • Ziggy Ansah is (likely) returning from injury
  • Poona Ford is (hopefully) returning from injury
  • Tedric Thompson is not returning from injury
  • Teddy Bridgewater

I mean, let’s just start here: our front seven might be a Jarran Reed away from full strength, at the absolute best possible time. So far, the Seahawks are 2-0 against two AFC teams, which counts not at all to the most important tie-breakers for the Seahawks: divisional record and conference record. The Saints are our first crack at this and they’re ripe for the plucking. They’re also a major competitor to our playoff standing this year; they could very likely be in line for a wild card spot, or if they recover and we somehow get over the hump against the Rams, we could be vying for a possible playoff BYE. Beyond our divisional games, this is one of the most important matchups of the entire season (alongside the Eagles, Vikings, and maybe Falcons) and it could be THE most important.

Must. Win. This. Game.

Now, of course, I have my fun at Bridgewater’s expense, because he is truly mediocre, and probably overpaid. I don’t see a ton of difference between what he can do and what Geno Smith can do; give Geno a top 5 offensive line, a dynamic offensive-minded head coach, and a bunch of weapons around him, and I bet he too can throw for 220 yards and a touchdown every game. The difference is, of course, the cost to sign either player. Bridgewater was (somehow) a Pro Bowler in 2015, when he threw for all of 3,231 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions (with a whopping 192 yards rushing and 3 TDs on the ground); I’m assuming every other quarterback in the NFL died that year? Anyway, he could’ve conceivably competed for a starting job somewhere else, but opted to be an overpaid backup for the Saints, and now here we are. Their head coach is trying to play games about which quarterback will be starting, but Bridgewater has a cap hit over $7 million, so I have to believe he’ll get the lion’s share of the opportunity.

All of that being said, MUCH worse quarterbacks have beaten this Seahawks team, even in Seattle, so we really can’t take this team too lightly. This won’t be a walk-over; it won’t be a rout. They’re still a good football team, of that much there is no doubt. With Thomas and Kamara and a stout defensive line … the Saints are fully equipped to be a land mine!

Sorry, I’ll stop with the poetry.

This is a team a lot like the Colts, who also lost their All Pro passer. There’s still a good team around Bridgewater; the Saints’ foundation is strong. They have one of the best O-Lines in the game, even without Max Unger in the middle. They have one of the two best running backs in the entire league, who can beat you every way imaginable. They have one of the best 5 or 10 wide receivers in the game. They have a top notch cornerback in Marshon Lattimore, who is fully capable of shutting down Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf, depending on where they choose to play him (I’d try to make the rookie beat me if I were them, so I’d expect a quiet day out of Lockett in this one). They may not have a bunch of huge names along the D-Line, but they still get pressure with the best of ’em, and largely without the need to blitz.

This game shouldn’t look too much like the Steelers game. I would expect the Seahawks to continue running the ball well, but I’d also expect Russell Wilson to hold onto the ball more closely to career norms, as opposed to the quick-throws he did against the Steelers.

Really, all the Saints need to do is not turn the ball over, feed Kamara every which way from Tuesday, and they should be in a close one in the fourth quarter. I expect both teams to be pretty shaky on 3rd downs, so honestly I think this one will come down to turnovers; the winner of that will win this game. If both teams are equal, I still see it as a coin flip game, probably coming down to who has the ball last.

I don’t expect Chris Carson to fumble, in case you were wondering. I think he’ll actually come out with a pretty monster game this week to silence all the critics of his first couple games. I wonder, however, if we won’t see some tipped passes or drops from our receivers falling into the opposition’s hands. Coverage should be tight all day, which means Wilson will have to hit throws into some small windows.

I actually have some high hopes about our defensive line finally coming together, though, and I think this group will be the key to everything. Can’t let Kamara blow us up between the tackles; if he’s going to beat us, at least let it be on the outside, in the passing game. Of course, I’m going up against him in fantasy football, so expect 3 TDs and 150 yards from scrimmage. But, if we can somehow bottle him up and force the quarterback to beat us with his arm, I’m fully prepared for a Dink & Dunk explosion. With the way Bridgewater likes to hold onto the ball forever, we should finally run into a game where the Seahawks net 4-6 sacks and generally make his life miserable.

The over/under is 44.5, and I’m taking the under. The line is Seahawks -4 and I’m also taking the under. This feels something like a 16-13 game.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Down Goes Roethlisberger

Read about my season to date HERE.

So, yeah, of course I brought this on myself. It’s a 2-QB league, I only kept one quarterback – Carson Wentz – from last year, and when it came time to make a selection for my other guy, I took the first opportunity I could to draft Ben Roethlisberger. I could’ve had Rivers, I could’ve had Dak, but I figured the Steelers would need to throw the ball a lot and Roethlisberger had the highest upside.

Then, on top of all that (taking a guy who tends to be banged up a lot, if not outright injury prone and old), I didn’t pick up a backup QB until the second-to-last round. Now, as it happens, that guy was Daniel Jones, and as luck would have it, he’s starting in place of Eli Manning this week, but do I really want to play a rookie making his first-ever start? Granted, he’s seen a little bit of relief action this year, but they’re also on the road and going up against a sneaky-good Tampa defense. I think I need to give it some time.

***

Before we get into all of that, a quick recap of last week’s matchup. I got TROUNCED. The combination of Roethlisberger getting less than 4 points, with my opponent – Sloane N Steady – having New England’s defense go off for 57 points, was too much to overcome. Most of the rest of my team played to their expected points (no one really blew up), and some (like Wentz) really shit the bed for me. 190.90-142.60.

***

Let’s talk about my moves this week. I talked about this on Twitter the other day, but it bears repeating: I hate having the #1 waiver priority. I always hold onto it waaaaaaay too long – letting countless guys fall to other teams – hoping for the perfect superstar to pick up that someone is forced to drop because maybe they’re dealing with BYE weeks or something. Inevitably – because the guys in my league have been at this for a while – no one really good comes along, and as the playoffs approach, I feel obligated to just take the best player available to actually make use of the damn thing, and it’s never someone who helps me win games. It’s just a huge clusterfuck and I’ve had enough!

After Week 2, you should generally have a good idea of who on the waiver wire is worth rostering. A strong Week 1 can be a fluke, but if they put up back-to-back great weeks, and all the analysis is telling you to GET THIS GUY, you have to get the guy.

The best player available after two weeks in my league was Scary Terry McLaurin. He’s a rookie, he appears to be the best receiver on the Redskins right now, and he might be the best overall offensive weapon on the Redskins! Which, I know … they’re the Redskins. But, even crappy teams put up points. Scary Terry got 7 targets in week one, reeling in 5 of them for 125 yards and a TD. He upped his game to 9 targets in week two, reeling in another 5 for 62 and a TD. He’s not just a deep threat either; they’re featuring him all over the field. He’s fast, he’s hungry, and he’s a possible keeper candidate for next year if things go very right. I ended up waiving Roethlisberger because he’s out for the rest of the season, and he’s not someone I would even remotely consider as a keeper.

I put in a second waiver claim – because why the fuck not? – but Mason Rudolph went to another team. I generally have a bad read on the rest of the league when it comes to who I should prioritize in waiver claims; guys I tend to lock into oftentimes go unclaimed entirely! But, I’ll admit, I didn’t expect Sloane N Steady to snipe this one from me – even if he is a die hard Steelers fan – since he has three other QBs on his roster who are pretty solid (depending on your thoughts on Derek Carr as a third). He must know something I don’t – that Rudolph is going to take this job and run with it – which I probably should’ve seen coming. Here’s to Roethlisberger playing for the Bucs next year!

I still wanted to grab another backup QB, because at this point I’m seriously scrambling, so I took Teddy Bridgewater as a free agent. It’s weird that no one put a claim in for him, considering how few eligible quarterbacks are available in our league, but there you have it. I dropped T.J. Hockenson, as I don’t really have a need for a second tight end (particularly one who had a shit game last week after being lights out in week one) right now. I’ll probably try to get him back at some point, if my season continues to fall apart and I just need to play for next year.

It really sucks talking like that after two weeks, but again, I did this to myself.

***

I’ve got a lot of shuffling going on in my lineup, so let’s jump right into it.

For my QB spots, I’ve got Wentz and Gardner Minshew II. As noted above, I need to actually see how Danny Dimes plays before I throw him into my lineup (and even then, I’ll be going game-to-game based on matchups). Part of me really wants to play Bridgewater here, but he’s just SO MEDIOCRE. Now, who knows, maybe they’ll tailor the offense to him and he’ll come into Seattle on Sunday and throw for 300 yards and 3 TDs, but I doubt it. Even if he has all day to throw, it’s going to be some underneath bullshit. Their O-Line is good, so that gives me pause, but the Seahawks should be pretty close to full strength on the D-Line this week with the return of Ansah. Combine that with us being at home, and I’m expecting something in the 200-yard range with maybe a TD. For our league, that’s anywhere from 15-20 points, depending on how many turnovers he has. Not great. I feel like the upside is higher with Minshew at home. Now, I HATE the fact that it’s a Thursday game, and those tend to be super wonky and super one-sided. Feels like a 50/50 proposition though that this one will be one-sided towards Jacksonville. I guess I have to like those odds, considering my opponent this week (more on that later).

For my receivers, I’m Ride Or Die with T.Y. (Hilton) until Tyreek Hill comes back. It’s discouraging that A.J. Green isn’t going to return this month like I’d hoped, but I still feel good rostering him (for now) with the hope that he’ll provide my team a boost in the second half (he is in a contract season, after all). I elevated Christian Kirk into my starting lineup, based on his strong line against the Ravens last week. It looks like the Cardinals’ offense is just getting warmed up, and they’re about to explode with a ton of TDs the rest of the way. I’m keeping my RBs as Elliott and Bell, and my lone tight end is Waller (who might figure to get even more targets this week, depending on how well Tyrell Williams is feeling). But, I’m benching Josh Jacobs in lieu of Cooper Kupp (who continues to get ranked crazy-high by the ESPN experts). I don’t love how much the Rams spread the ball around, as it feels like Kupp oftentimes gets relegated to the sloppy seconds (or thirds, as it were) of Woods and Cooks; but I could see them needing to put up a lot of points and throw a lot against the Browns. It feels like the much smarter play over Jacobs, who isn’t a factor in the passing game, which means if they’re losing on the road against the Vikings (as is my expectation), he just won’t see the ball all that much.

Scary Terry was certainly a thought – I did blow a #1 waiver priority on him – but they’re playing the Bears on Monday Night, and I just don’t think the Redskins are going to score all that much. And, let’s be real here, I’m going to need A LOT of points, so going with high-variance guys is the way to play.

***

Space Forcin’ is my opponent, the arch nemesis of Space Pirates! We’re at it again. He of the A+ draft grade. He of the best keepers in the league – Mahomes, JuJu, Kamara, and Davante Adams. On top of those guys, he’s got Ertz, Phillip Lindsay, Lockett as his flex, Philly’s kicker, and San Fran’s defense (hosting Pittsburgh). His only real weak spot is Jacoby Brissett, who also just so happens to be throwing balls to my #1 wide receiver this week. It’s a mess!

What I’m banking on is Baltimore’s defense holding Kansas City’s passing attack in check. I’m not asking for the keys to Fort Knox here, just keep him under 30 points! I’d love to see Brissett throw a few picks to those ball-hawking Falcons cornerbacks. I’d also love it if the Steelers put up a good fight against the 49ers, yet maybe Richard Sherman still shuts down JuJu? Is that possible? The Seahawks should be pretty formidable against the Saints’ rushing attack, so I’d hope Kamara doesn’t go off like he normally does (ideally, let’s just keep him out of the endzone and see how the rest shakes out). Hopefully New Orleans’ #1 corner locks down Lockett, the Packers’ defense completely shuts down Denver’s running game, and Denver’s secondary finds a way to force anyone but Adams to beat them.

As for my team, Wentz should have a bounce-back game against the Lions. How do you not love Elliott at home against the Dolphins? If that isn’t a 30-point game, something’s seriously wrong. Bell should continue to be featured heavily on the road against the Pats. I have to believe Waller is due for the endzone a couple times. I love Baltimore’s kicker against KC’s defense. And, I love Buffalo’s defense against whatever the hell Cincinnati is trying to do on offense.

Look, if I’m being honest, I have no shot to win this week. Yahoo has me as a 13-point underdog, but if I don’t lose by 40 it’ll be a miracle. My only real hope is for his guys to have uncharacteristically bad games. I mean, like, I deserve some good luck! I scored 142 points last week, which is well below par for our league, and there were still FIVE teams who did worse (including someone who went on to win their matchup)! Why can’t I ever be playing some shit team when I’m having a similarly shit week? I swear to Christ, the schedule is my biggest obstacle every fucking year; when is it my turn to get some good fortune in this part of the game? I lose one of my keepers (Hill) in the middle of week one, then the injury bug swings back around to take my top draft pick in the middle of week two. I’m not even getting FULL GAMES out of these injured guys! How I managed to get to .500 after two games is a total mindfuck.

If I’m also being honest, it doesn’t even matter if I win this week or not. What’s more important is having one of these young QBs (ideally someone like Daniel Jones) really shine this week, affording me the confidence to play them the rest of the way. What’s more important is someone like Scary Terry doing it against a top shelf defense like the Bears, so I can pencil him into my lineup every week from here on out. What’s more important is for Josh Jacobs to come back with a vengeance so I feel like a fool for benching him.

What’s even MORE important than all of that is none of my other superstars getting fucking injured anymore!

If I wake up on Tuesday morning and find my bench outscored my starters, I’ll be fine with it. There are still lots of weeks left this season; I just need to tread water – and find a viable second quarterback – until some of my injured guys come back and I can kick ass again when it counts: the playoffs. As long as I can sneak into a 5th or 6th seed, that’s all that matters.

Somehow, The Seahawks Won In Pittsburgh!

I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. It’s all so confusing. You know how, like, on a sitcom where a nervous, fumbling guy asks someone out on a date, and he’s so convinced ahead of time that she’ll say no that he doesn’t even listen for her response? He quickly sputters through his spiel, “Will you go out with me?” and before she even gets two words out, he follows up with, “You know what, nevermind, I don’t know what I was thinking, I was just kidding, let’s pretend none of this ever happened,” and he starts walking away as she tells him, “Yes, I’ll go out with you,” but he’s still so far in denial he doesn’t hear it – to the comedic delight of the studio audience – and this misunderstanding goes on far too long, much like the lede to this particular blog post?

See, that’s where I’m at right now. My brain was so ready for the Seahawks to be 1-1 that it hasn’t dawned on me yet that we’re 2-0 and heading back home to face a Brees-less Saints team that’s living on the west coast for a week.

How did we get here? More importantly, when did it dawn on me that the Seahawks might actually prevail in that game?

It started off as most Seahawks games tend to do: with lots of punts. On both sides! There were some very fine punts on both sides. Throughout the entire first quarter. Then, at the end there, Chris Carson fumbled which set up a touchdown for the Steelers, and the game started to make sense again. Seattle, on the road, struggling to get anything going on offense, unable to overcome their own mistakes. I’ve seen it dozens of times.

Even when the Seahawks tied it up on the very next drive, I had my doubts. A long, 12-play drive, with multiple 3rd/4th down conversions, and no big plays? That’s not sustainable. That’s not Seahawks football. Say what you will about how we love to run the ball, but our scoring drives tend to be pretty quick, with at least one chunk play for huge yards.

Then, on the final drive before halftime, Ben Roethlisberger did something to his throwing elbow. When it became clear he wouldn’t return, I’ll admit that gave me some confidence in our chances. But, we were still down by 3 points on the road, and you never know how a backup quarterback is going to respond.

It turns out, Mason Rudolph acquitted himself pretty well. He looked poised, he made good decisions, and if it weren’t for Donte Moncrief letting another ball go through his hands (this time for a crucial Seahawks interception), we might be having a very different discussion today.

The short field led to the Seahawks taking a 14-10 lead, which was cut to 14-13, which was subsequently extended to 21-13. The offenses really came alive in this portion of the game, as teams traded touchdowns like football cards. The Steelers came right back to pull it within 21-19 (thanks to a botched 2-point attempt). Then, the drive of the game.

The Seahawks had already made a futile attempt at challenging a PI call in the first half, costing us a time out which would’ve come in handy on our final drive of the half, when we were trying to inch closer for a field goal attempt. Then, in the second half, nursing that 2-point lead, the Seahawks started shooting themselves in the foot. There was a first down false start, then a first down holding penalty to make it 1st & 25. After a predictable run play, it was 2nd & 20 when Wilson took a deep shot into double coverage for Tyler Lockett. There was marginal contact, but more than anything it just looked like a couple of guys going for the ball. When Pete Carroll threw the challenge flag, I thought it was the dumbest thing ever.

But, the refs determined it actually WAS defensive pass interference! Instead of 3rd & 20, it was first down 38 yards closer to paydirt! From there, we were a few plays away from a touchdown to the future Offensive Rookie of the Year, D.K. Metcalf!

At that point, victory felt all but certain. Then, a botched handoff to Carson left the door wide open for the Steelers to pull the game back to within 2 points with a little over five minutes left in the game. Thanks to some semi-aggressive play-calling (based on expectations, not necessarily compared to the rest of the football world), the Seahawks were able to convert multiple first downs – including a 4th & 1 conversion to seal it – and run out all the clock.

The stars of the game are plentiful! Russell Wilson had 300 yards on 29/35 passing. Tyler Lockett reeled in 10 catches for 79 yards (plus that PI flag he drew). D.K. Metcalf had his first NFL touchdown. Rashaad Penny busted out a 37-yard touchdown. Will Dissly caught 2 TDs! Carson had a rough day, but still plowed through for that final 4th down conversion. And, of course, who can forget Donte Moncrief? The Steelers sure did, as I don’t think he played another snap for them after he let us get that INT.

Defensively, the Seahawks were FAR better than I expected. I was expecting 475 yards passing out of Roethlisberger, so to fall 400 yards short was something to behold. Even if he stayed healthy, it didn’t look like he had many answers for whatever we were doing. The Steelers’ rushing stats were pretty skewed by a 23-yard run; otherwise we did a good job of holding them in check. I wouldn’t say everything is all better, but it was a solid effort on the road. There was definitely improved play from the secondary that I think made all the difference.

This is still a tough Seahawks team to figure out, but I feel like I say that all the time, ever since the Super Bowl seasons anyway. This is a REALLY encouraging start though, and lines up pretty perfectly to what I was hoping for heading into the season. Go 4-1 in the first five games, go 4-1 in the next five games, and rock & roll down the stretch and let’s win a division! Well, with a 2-0 start, and with the Saints coming in without Brees next week, it’s all setting up for something special. Gotta take care of business, though.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: We’re Back!

If you want to read back through my 2018 season, click HERE. Follow the links at the top to go back all the way.

This weekly blog post was such a rousing success (and by “success” I mean literally zero people read it) that I absolutely had to run it back. How will it differ? Well, I’m throwing this up on the fly, so we’ll see!

I was in the middle of my great 5-week, cross-country road trip when we drafted on Friday, August 30th, so I was in a motel in Boise when the shit went down. There weren’t too many significant rule changes in our offseason fantasy football meeting, but a major one was an increase from 3 to 4 keepers. As you can see from the link above, I had a pretty good pile of players to choose from. Without belaboring things, here are the four I went with:

  • QB – Carson Wentz
  • RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  • RB – Le’Veon Bell
  • WR – Tyreek Hill

The final spot came down to Hill or Adam Thielen; when it looked like Hill might miss some games to a suspension, I was rolling with Thielen (when Hill was let off the hook, I obviously changed my mind). The fact of the matter is, Hill has the much higher upside. Of course, this was before he got injured in Week 1, causing him to miss a few weeks of the season, so that’s kind of a bummer. Fortunately, it’s only a clavicle injury, so he should be back and ready to rip once the bone heals.

Due to my fourth place finish in the playoffs last year, I ended up drafting 8th overall. It’s a straight draft – as opposed to a snake draft – which means I was picking 8th in every round. With everyone going with four keepers, that’s 40 players off the board before we do anything, so it should be pretty clear the best of the best were gone by the time I selected. My plan going in was to grab Kyler Murray, but he went second overall (after Thielen was taken first), so I had to pivot earlier than I expected. I’ll give you the total rundown, then explain my rationale afterward:

  1. QB – Ben Roethlisberger
  2. RB – Josh Jacobs
  3. WR – T.Y. Hilton
  4. WR – Cooper Kupp
  5. RB – Derrius Guice
  6. WR – Christian Kirk
  7. TE – Vance McDonald
  8. RB – Tony Pollard
  9. K – Justin Tucker
  10. QB – Daniel Jones
  11. DEF – Buffalo

So, if you know anything about our league, you know quarterbacks are vital. It’s a 2-QB league, with TDs worth 6 points (and INT’s worth -4 points), so if you’re not picking quarterbacks high (or keeping them from last year), then you’re not doing it right. I’d already missed out on Lamar Jackson, and lucked out that someone took Jameis Winston, so it came down to Roethlisberger or Rivers for me (though, I may regret letting Dak fall to a rival in the next round).

I had been eyeballing Jacobs for quite some time, and felt fortunate he was still there the next time I picked. There was no debate whatsoever, as plenty of those second-tier RBs were flying off the board. Jacobs should be good right out of the gate, plus he could be a possible keeper in the years to come, should one of my other guys age out.

It got dicey with my third pick, because I’d been salivating over Kenny Golladay all offseason, after it had been announced he was going to be their #1 receiver. The Lions aren’t great, but they like to throw the ball a lot, and Golladay has been looking like a breakout candidate for some time now. He went one pick ahead of me, which left me scrambling. I needed someone to pair with Tyreek Hill, and I had too many running backs already to start filling up my bench with more. In a panic, it came down to Hilton, Tyler Lockett, and Tyler Boyd. I REALLY didn’t want any of these guys, for a variety of reasons. In general, I don’t like having Seahawks on my fantasy roster as a rule; I especially don’t like having Wilson or any receivers, because they can be wildly inconsistent from a fantasy perspective. Boyd is someone I had last year, who was very underwhelming when A.J. Green was out of the lineup and he was thrust into the #1 receiver role (which he would be in the first month or so of the season, with Green’s foot/ankle injury). Hilton is another inconsistent receiver who can be really awesome or get you less than 10 points, with seemingly little in-between. But, the fact of the matter is, I wanted a true #1 receiver to pair with Hill, and even with Luck retired I still like that Indy team. Jacoby Brissett isn’t totally inept, so I rolled the dice with Hilton.

The funny thing is, by the time it got around to my next pick, both Lockett and Boyd were still available! They went with the subsequent two picks after mine. I went with Kupp because I’d heard all the great things about his pre-season and his improved health, plus I just REALLY wanted a piece of that Rams offense, and he was the last viable candidate left on the board. In an ideal world, I’d have Robert Woods back, but he was snagged a few picks before I took Hilton. Kupp isn’t a world-beater, but he’s always good for a chunk of targets, and you never know if/when he’ll have a breakout game/season.

With my next pick, I thought I had something special. I thought I had a potential League Winner. Guice was Washington’s main dude in the draft in 2018 before he got injured and lost his rookie season. With him back in the fold, it felt like only a matter of time before he took over sole possession of the RB1 role on that team. Even if I had to hold onto him for a few weeks before he ascended, it would’ve been worth it.

I took Kirk next because Will Fuller V went a few picks earlier, and I really wanted a piece of that Arizona offense. I took McDonald because there weren’t many good tight ends left, and with AB gone in Pittsburgh, it seemed only natural that he’d see an uptick in targets. I took Pollard as an Elliott handcuff, as he still wasn’t extended by the time we drafted. I took Tucker because kickers are weirdly important in fantasy (even though they should be totally outlawed, and I’ll never stop fighting for this cause, because the variation is too random from week to week) and I wanted a guy I didn’t have to worry about. I took Daniel Jones because I still hadn’t drafted a backup QB. Roethlisberger’s BYE isn’t until week 7, and my hope was that he’d take over the starting job by then (and, if he pans out, he could be a possible keeper candidate for 2020). I took Buffalo because they were on the board, and I’d heard some good things (if nothing else, they were playing the Jets in Week 1, so that felt like a safe way to grab some cheap points).

Before Week 1 started, once everyone on waivers reverted back to free agents, I grabbed A.J. Green and stashed him in my IR slot. If he comes back in October, that could be a real boon. I wouldn’t expect him to play the rest of the season upon his return, but if he can get me a few big weeks, that should be something.

My team’s name is Space Pirates! There’s another team in the league referencing the good ol’ Space Force, so I’m going the other direction with it. We like to have fun.

Anyway, in Week 1, Space Pirates! squared off against Korky Butchek (the third place finisher in the playoffs last year). He’s the guy who knocked me from the 7th overall draft pick to the 8th; he’s also the guy who took Golladay from me. So, the revenge factor was pretty high on my part.

I got absolutely great games out of Wentz, Hilton (of all people), Bell, and Jacobs (all ranging from 23-34 points each). Buffalo got me a solid 17 points, Tucker got me 11, and everyone else did just enough (Roethlisberger, of course, stunk up the joint, and Hill’s injury knocked him out pretty early which also hurt ME). Korky Butchek had great games from DeAndre Hopkins and Evan Engram, but it wasn’t nearly enough. I took care of business to the tune of a 172.25-152.70 victory. That was good for just the fourth-highest total of the first week, putting me in fourth place.

I didn’t put in any waiver claims with my #3 waiver priority, so I held off until the wee hours of Wednesday morning before making my pickups. As a result, I now have the #1 waiver priority, which I fully intend to hoard until someone amazing comes along.

First thing’s first, I grabbed T.J. Hockenson from the Lions. He had a tremendous first week, and with people comparing him to Gronk, that felt like a no-brainer (I dropped Tony Pollard, because with so few bench spots, keeping handcuffs is a luxury few can afford). I also got Darren Waller, as with AB gone from the Raiders, he’s set to see a huge number of targets in the passing game (I dropped McDonald, because I just don’t trust Roethlisberger or the Steelers to ever make their TE a focal point in the passing game). Finally, with Guice set to hit the actual IR for the next 8 weeks, I set him loose, picking up a proper backup QB in Gardner Minshew. Consider me a believer in the moustache! Again, if he pans out (and he was terrific in replacing an injured Nick Foles last week), that’s another possible keeper for next year.

See, with a league like this, you have to always be thinking about the next year. Selling out to “win now” just isn’t tenable, because you’ll set yourself back YEARS in the process, all for what’s essentially a lottery ticket. I feel like I have a pretty good mix of both veterans who are great now, with younger guys who could develop into stars.

The obvious downside to my season so far is that the injury bug is crippling my depth. Hill is out 4-6 weeks, which is actually less time than Green is expected to be out, so I moved Hill to the IR spot. And, with Guice gone, my RB depth takes a big hit (for a position that gets injured as much as this one, you just can’t have enough quality RBs on your roster). I opted to go Waller over Hockenson for my TE spot, because I need to see at least another week out of the Lions’ rookie before I totally fall for the Gronk hype. I’ve got Hilton and Kupp as my starting receivers, as Kupp is more dependable than Kirk (plus the Cards are playing the tough Ravens defense). Everything else is the same, with my 3-headed RB hydra of Elliott, Bell, and Jacobs all locked in (two RB slots and my FLEX).

This week, I’m going up against Sloane N Steady, who is the only guy in our league with worse luck right now, in that he has no Luck at all (HI-YO!). He had the unfortunate occurrence of locking in Andrew Luck as one of his four keepers just a day before he announced his retirement. With Luck & Aaron Rodgers as two of his keepers the last few years, he was probably the most settled of anyone in the league at his QB spots. But, not only did he get Thielen with the first overall draft pick, in the second round he got Rivers as his QB2, which is an awesome find.

Sloane N Steady’s team looks quite formidable. Rodgers and Rivers. Thielen and Amari Cooper. Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb. Delanie Walker (TE) and James White (FLEX). Dallas’ kicker and New England’s defense. With bench spots devoted to Mike Williams, Jordan Howard, Donte Moncrief, and Derek Carr. At the time of this posting, I’m favored by less than 3 points; I have to imagine it’s going to be as close as advertised.

When the dust of Sunday settles, it’ll be Chubb vs. Bell on Monday Night Football to likely decide who wins or loses. Space Pirates! had a mighty scare when Bell went in for an MRI this week, but it looks like he’s playing. Regardless, if his touches are limited as a result of whatever this shoulder thing is, I think I’m toast. The rest of Sloane N Steady’s team plays in the 10am Sunday window, so I’ll certainly be playing from behind for the entire day.

I Can’t Envision A Seahawks Victory In Pittsburgh

Usually, whenever I feel this strongly about an impending Seahawks defeat, one of two things usually happens in the game: either I’m right and the Seahawks lose, or I’m wrong and the Seahawks win. THIS IS THE HARD-HITTING ANALYSIS YOU COME HERE FOR!!!

Sure, every once in a while there’s a tie sprinkled in there, but you get the idea. One of three things.

This early in the season, we really don’t have a lot of knowledge about what the Seahawks are and what they’re going to be. All we REALLY have to go on is the one game, last week, where Andy Dalton of all people came into Seattle and threw for a billion yards. On the flipside, last week the Steelers went into New England and only scored 3 points. But, they’ve still got Ben Roethlisberger (inarguably better than Dalton), they’ve still got JuJu Smith-Schuster (inarguably better than any receiver on the Bengals), and they’ve still got James Conner (who helped the Steelers not miss a beat with Le’Veon Bell leaving town). That’s an offense, again, you have to believe is far and away superior to the Bengals. Plus, they’ll have the added advantage of being at home, so our defense won’t have the noise factor on their side.

If we gave up 418 yards to Dalton last week, with all the noise and everything else, what’s the ceiling for Roethlisberger? I can’t stress this enough, that noise is critical to what we do in our pass rush; without it, I don’t think we’ll touch him. Which is terrible news, because aside from our improved run defense, that’s the only thing we’ve got going for us. Our secondary hasn’t improved at all in the last week (unless you think signing a veteran nickel defender off the scrap heap will suddenly turn this sinking ship around), and you could argue it’s actually gotten worse if Lano Hill starts (I wouldn’t make that argument, because I’d take literally anyone over Tedric Thompson, but if you want to make that argument, I won’t stop you).

I will say this, for the Seahawks: I think our offense will look better. It would pretty much have to, though. It’s hard to look a whole lot worse, so long as you wipe 2017 from your memory. I do NOT think the Seahawks will get blown out, because they rarely do. Then again, I’m also not totally leaving that option off the table. If the Steelers jump out to a big early lead by 14 or 21 points in the first half, we could definitely see more sacks and turnovers in the second half than we’d like. I believe the Steelers have a MUCH better defense than last week would indicate. They’ve got great players at every level.

They’re also not a team we see very often. The Seahawks have lost on the road to an AFC team almost every single year since Pete Carroll has gotten here. Generally, the games are more high scoring than you’d like, and the Seahawks even look semi-competent at times. But, the defense ends up letting us down in these games, and I have no reason to believe that won’t happen again this week.

Look, I hope I’m wrong! But, it’s gonna take 30+ points to go into Pittsburgh and win this thing, and I just don’t think we’re there yet. That’s fine! It’s not the end of the world! Road AFC games are the least important games on our schedule; it’s MUCH more important to come back home next week and take out the Saints. We were always going to lose one of these two games, and I’m officially on record as hoping we lose this week and win the next.

And not just because I have a bunch of Steelers on my various fantasy teams.

Can The Seahawks Win With Russell Wilson Making A Million-Billion Dollars?

There are two schools of thought dominating the NFL landscape nowadays:

  1. You can’t win without a Franchise Quarterback
  2. You can’t win with a Franchise Quarterback taking up too high of a percentage of your salary cap

Which essentially boils down to:

  1. You can only win with a Franchise Quarterback on his rookie deal, or
  2. You can only win if you have Tom Brady and you cheat the salary cap in some way that has yet to be exposed

So, that’s great if you’re the cheatin’-ass Patriots, but otherwise it’s a pretty minuscule window of opportunity for the rest of the league. For starters, how many Franchise Quarterbacks are there in the league right now? Let’s count ’em out, in no particular order:

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Ben Roethlisberger
  3. Andrew Luck
  4. Patrick Mahomes
  5. Philip Rivers
  6. Aaron Rodgers
  7. Matt Ryan
  8. Cam Newton
  9. Drew Brees
  10. Russell Wilson

I think that’s pretty much it. You could make an argument for Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Kirk Cousins, but I think you could also make plenty of arguments against those guys as well. Anyone I haven’t listed here is on that next tier down; doesn’t mean you can’t win a Super Bowl with those guys (see: Eli Manning, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco), but obviously you need to hit on a roster full of studs around them.

Regardless, we’re talking approximately a third of the league having bona fide Franchise Quarterbacks. Everyone else has some variation on a question mark. Everyone else needs to be special in other ways (like the Rams, with their coaching staff) or they’re selling out to find that elusive game-changer at the game’s most important position.

So, let’s pull it back to just the cream of the crop; how many are Tom Brady or on a rookie deal? Well, Tom Brady is Tom Brady, so the Pats are set. Other than him, you’re talking about Mahomes, Watson, Wentz, the Rams (in spite of Goff more than because of him), and let’s throw in the Browns for shits n’ giggles. We’re talking about 6 teams who are in a prime position with their quarterback and salary cap situations; should we just lop off the rest of the teams in the league?

Or, do the Seahawks have a shot?

It’s funny, because in the days leading up to Russell Wilson’s contract extension, everything I read was some variation on: DON’T BE STUPID, YOU HAVE TO EXTEND WILSON BECAUSE HE’S AMAZING! Then, as soon as Wilson announced his signing, everything I’ve read since was: THE SEAHAWKS ARE PAYING TOO MUCH FOR THEIR QUARTERBACK, THEY’LL NEVER WIN!

Ostensibly, the argument is: if you’re going to run all the damn time, what’s the point in paying a quarterback $35 million a year? Pay someone adequate like Case Keenum to be a game manager, and use the rest of the money to bolster other areas.

The first knock against that line of thinking is that you’re never going to build the perfect team. The 2013 Seahawks were a fucking unicorn; being able to draft or otherwise acquire that much Hall of Fame talent in one roster is nearly impossible. There are always going to be holes and weaknesses, even on the best teams, and that’s before you get into the injury attrition that nearly every team faces every single year.

The second knock against that line of thinking is that, even on the best teams, you’re still going to need your quarterback to put the team on his back and win you a handful of games. Even the 2013 Seahawks needed some Russell Wilson magic against Carolina, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game (before The Tip, there was the 4th down bomb to Kearse). Could you envision that team with the likes of Case Keenum winning it all? Because I can’t.

In fact, I would argue that it’s even MORE important to have someone as clutch and efficient as Wilson on a team like the 2018 Seahawks, where running on 1st & 2nd downs were the norm. There’s so much more strain on Wilson to do more with fewer opportunities than there is on someone like Mahomes, who threw it 36 times a game compared to Wilson’s just under 27 attempts.

Ultimately, in the reality we’re living in, would you rather have Wilson on the deal he got, or whatever’s behind Door #2 (maybe trade him for draft picks while he’s got the most value, then either try to acquire whatever semi-competent veteran is still on the market, suck for a year with Paxton Lynch, and/or draft a new QB in this year’s questionable class)?

For me, I’ll take the certainty that Russell Wilson provides.

The obvious trade-off, though, is that there’s not as much money left to spread around the rest of the roster. Which gets us back to the topic of this post: can the Seahawks win with Russell Wilson making a million-billion dollars?

The answer, of course, is yes. How likely is it? I dunno, but let me flip it back on you: how likely is it for ANY team to win a Super Bowl? Because, that’s what we’re talking about, right? The worst nightmare of any NFL fan is ranging anywhere from 8-8 to 10-6 and at best winning a Wild Card berth while going nowhere in the playoffs and constantly drafting in the mid-20’s. If that’s what we’re doomed to be for the next 5 years with Russell Wilson under this contract, then I’ll admit to being pretty disappointed. It’ll further fuel the fire of those who list off all the Super Bowl champion teams with quarterbacks making under such-and-such percent of their team’s cap (conveniently ignoring the cap status of those teams who lost their respective Super Bowls, though they were just as capable of winning those games had certain things broken their way).

Ultimately, it’s all randomness! There’s no one blueprint to winning a Super Bowl (unless you cheat and get away with it like the Patriots). You need a good quarterback, we know that. Beyond that, you need the strengths of your team to overcome the weaknesses. You don’t NEED a dominant defense, you can easily overcome that the way the Chiefs did last year by scoring a ton of points. Even the Pats never really have super great defenses, but the coaches scheme the shit out of their opponents and ultimately those D’s do just enough to put Brady & Co. in position to win (the fact that the Pats constantly get to coast to a division championship every single year because the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets are all inept notwithstanding).

I would argue, the Seahawks have a Top 5 quarterback. The Seahawks have a Top 5 coaching staff. The Seahawks have enough skill position players on offense to move the ball and score on the regular, as well as an offensive line that can keep the whole thing moving. The question at this point would be: do the Seahawks have enough talent on defense to take it to the next level and compete for a divisional title? Or, conversely, do the Seahawks have enough on offense to mask their defensive deficiencies? That ultimately remains to be seen.

More than anything, if the Franchise Quarterback is 1-A most important, luck is 1-B. Good luck with injuries. Good luck with hitting on draft picks and free agent signings. And good luck with key roster guys making big leaps from year to year. And, quite frankly, good luck in those 50/50 games that keep a 10-6 team from being 12-4 or better. The Rams were 3 games better than the Seahawks, but beat us by a combined 7 points in two games. What happens if we find a way to win those two? What happens if we beat the Broncos in week 1, or the lowly 49ers in week 15? Just a couple bounces of the football here or there. What happens if we keep Dak from scoring on that insane 4th down run in the Wild Card game?

Sure, you need the Franchise Quarterback to put you in a position to win those 50/50 games, but it’s luck more than anything else that decides if you’re going to be 13-3 or 10-6.

My thought process, heading into the 2019 season, is we’ve got the most important piece locked in. Luck will hash out the way it hashes out. But, beyond that, I think the Seahawks have a winning formula they can follow. I believe in this team running the football, using its giant goons up front to punish opposing defenses. Running the football keeps the clock moving, keeps the defense off the field, and limits the punishment Wilson has to face (especially when you factor in how our O-Line still isn’t super great at pass protection).

The Seahawks were 6th in points per game with 26.8. That’s with a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive line coach, and a lot of new pieces on that side of the football. Sure, it ended crappy in Dallas, but I think with the continuity in place, this coaching staff learned a lot about what this team is made of. I think they’ll be able to tweak things enough to improve upon those points per game and be even more efficient going forward, without the need to drastically increase the number of times we throw the football. Having all of this set and ready to go TODAY – as opposed to learning on the fly and figuring things out heading into Week 3 last year – puts us at a greater advantage over the 2018 squad. From there, I’ll trust that this coaching staff and front office knows what it has to do to improve the defensive side of the ball.

Plus, let us not forget, we’ve got a Pro Bowl kicker now. You scoff, but let’s go back to that whole luck argument: how many games did a kicker cost us in 2017?

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 12

I’m just a mess of a human being.  I went into Monday Night trailing TheGangUnderperforms by a score of 140.75 to 124.75.  I was absolutely ROLLING during the morning games on Sunday.  At one point, I was projected as a 90% favorite to win the week.  Sure, a few of my guys were doing okay, but my heavy hitters were yet to come, and more importantly HIS guys were shitting the bed!  Ben Roethlisberger was at negative points until late in that game against the Jags; Mariota ended his day with less than 2 points total.  Then, that same shit in the bed started hitting the fan.

Predictably, TheGangUnderperforms picked up a tight end to play in Gronk’s place before Sunday.  He ended up picking up Vance McDonald for the Steelers, who MIRACULOUSLY caught a touchdown.  Because of course he did.  He only did that because he was going up against my team!!!  That was double-touchdowns because, obviously, Roethlisberger was the one who threw it.  Things went downhill as the Steelers’ fortunes continued to soar.  Instead of handing off to James Conner at the goalline, Roethlisberger ran in the winning touchdown just to FUCKING spite me!

Anyway, unpredictably, TheGangUnderperforms snuck Doug Baldwin into his lineup before the Thursday game.  He benched Kenny Golladay, which was the good news, but still, Doug had easily his best fantasy game of the season – again – because he was going up against me.

So, there I was, Monday Night.  I had Tyreek Hill, Robert Woods, and a 16-point deficit; he had Kareem Hunt and the aforementioned lead.  It was the Chiefs at the Rams, easily the most hyped matchup in the history of regular season football.  This was a fantasy boon the likes of which we’ve never seen.  So many games were on the line!  So many high-scoring players were in the middle of the action!

And I couldn’t bring myself to watch one single second of it.  Literally the greatest offensive shootout in the history of the NFL – the first time two teams scored over 50 points in the same game – and I was hiding in my room, watching old reruns of The Monkees and Get Smart.

This is what Fantasy Football has brought me to!  It’s literally ruining my life!  But, in my crazy, fucked-up brain, I needed to NOT watch to win my fantasy game.  I went to bed not knowing the result – of either the Rams/Chiefs or TheGangUnderperforms/King Flippy Nips – and I woke up at 4am to immediately hop on my computer to check the results.

Sure, I was disappointed I didn’t see the Best Game Ever, but I won.  DAMMIT, I WON!  186.33 to 160.85!

Blessings to Tyreek Hill, who got me over 44 points.  Tidings of love and joy to Zeke Elliott who got me over 33.  Kudos to Dalton and Chicago for getting over 20.  And a bigtime FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU to Carson Wentz, who finished with -3.60, and single-handedly was the reason why I couldn’t bring myself to watch the game on Monday.  Had he done what he was supposed to, I would’ve had a comfortable lead heading into Monday, and my night would’ve been more enjoyable for it.

To think, a friend of mine on Saturday said he wasn’t sure if Carson Wentz would eventually turn into Drew Brees or Ryan Tannehill (to which I replied, “Oh, he’s WAY better than Ryan Tannehill!” … yeah, except Tannehill didn’t even play this weekend and would’ve gotten me more points).

Anyway, here I am.  5-6 in the standings.  I leapfrogged TheGangUnderperforms to get into 5th place.  I am still comfortably 3rd in total points, and still 2nd in total points against.  That’s the good news, if you can call it good news.

The bad news is I have 2 games to go, and I need help (in more ways than one).  Two of the bottom-feeders won last week in upsets.  That puts them both at 4-7.  Those two teams – as chance would have it – play one another THIS week, meaning one of them is guaranteed to be 5-7 heading into the final week of the regular season.  As you’ll see below, I’m going up against the #1 team (in record, #2 in total points by a large margin over me) and I’ll be projected to lose.  Assuming I do lose, that will drop me to 5-7 and in a tie with one of those bottom-dwelling teams.  In the final week of the regular season, my opponent is the #2 team (in record, #1 in total points by a large margin over me); I will be projected to lose that game as well.  The aforementioned bottom-feeders will have very winnable games that week, so I’m in a real pickle.  Without getting too much further into the weeds, I’ll need certain teams to lose a lot the rest of the way …

Or, I’m effectively in if I can just get an upset win in one of the next two weeks.

Yeah, I’m screwed.

Just one minor move this week.  I swapped Matt Prater out and brought in Matt Bryant.  I don’t love any offensive player going up against the Saints right now – as they’re just STEAMROLLING people left and right – but I think the Falcons will move the ball a little bit.  My big concern is that the Saints get up by such a big score that the Falcons will have to go for nothing but touchdowns all game.  I could’ve legitimately put a zero in my lineup this week; regardless, going forward I like Bryant and that Falcons offense more than Prater and the Lions right now.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz vs. NYG
  • QB2 – Jameis Winston vs. SF
  • WR1 – Adam Thielen vs. GB
  • WR2 – Tyler Boyd vs. CLE
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. WAS
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson @ DAL
  • TE – Greg Olsen vs. SEA
  • FLEX – Chris Carson @ CAR
  • K – Matt Bryant @ NO
  • DEF – Chicago @ DET

My bench is:  Dalton, Carr, Hill (BYE), Woods (BYE), Brown (BYE), Bell (IR).

I like Andy Dalton at home against Cleveland – and I think it’s highly possible he goes off against them – but I also think the Browns’ defense is a little underrated, and they could force him to look a little mediocre.  I think with Winston (first of all, I need to get SOME sort of value out of that Le’Veon Bell trade, even if I’m shoe-horning it in this fashion), the Bucs have nothing to lose, so they’re going to let it rip.  I could see that game being super high scoring, because the Bucs’ defense is the worst in football, so as per usual they’re going to be throwing the ball a lot.  With Winston, you accept there are going to be turnovers.  The hope is that he’ll also rack up the TDs and yards to outweigh all the shittiness.  Also, who knows, maybe with his career on the line, he steps up and blows the league away.  Bottom line is the upside is higher with Winston over Dalton, while the floor is essentially the same (both of them could throw tons of picks and blow it for me).  Beyond that, with the BYEs what they are, my lineup choices are essentially made for me.

My opponent this week is Space Forcin’.  You may recall he’s the guy who kept Mahomes, Rivers, and Kamara from last year, so he’s obviously pretty fucking stacked.  You may also recall that at full strength, he beat my ass by almost 30 points back in Week 3.

Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.  The good news is Mahomes is on BYE this week.  The bad news is that his team is still really fucking stacked and I pretty much have no chance of winning.

I can only make an educated guess at this point as to who Space Forcin’ will put in his lineup, as everyone apparently likes to wait until the last minute to make a fucking decision:

  • QB1 – Philip Rivers vs. ARI
  • QB2 – Joe Flacco vs. OAK
  • WR1 – Davante Adams @ MIN
  • WR2 – JuJu Smith-Schuster @ DEN
  • RB1 – Alvin Kamara vs. ATL
  • RB2 – Marlon Mack vs. MIA
  • TE – George Kittle @ TB
  • FLEX – Aaron Jones @ MIN
  • K – Wil Lutz vs. ATL
  • DEF – Philadelphia vs. NYG

His bench is:  Mahomes (BYE), C.J. Beathard, Miami, Austin Hooper, Duke Johnson.

Joe Flacco against the Raiders would normally be as juicy of a matchup as you can get on a team this stacked.  But, his injury status is looking iffy.  I texted Space Forcin’ to try to get a sense of what his plan is.  Frankly, the QBs on the free agent scrap heap are nothing to write home about.  Tannehill is starting this week, so that rules out Osweiler.  Colt McCoy is probably the best bet of the bunch to at least get points, but someone with a higher waiver priority just made a claim on him.  He has Beathard now, but that’s probably a hail mary of an option, in the hopes that Nick Mullens goes down with injury or otherwise gets benched.  The only guy left in free agency is Taysom Hill, the backup for the Saints who runs a few gadget plays per game.

Could I have dropped Derek Carr this week, now that I’m holding 4 healthy quarterbacks on my roster?  I absolutely could have, but why should I help the best team in the league when I don’t have to?  He’s got enough.  Let me try to get mine.

As it stands, even with just 1 QB starting, he probably has more than enough to beat me.  Rivers is more than capable of shredding the Cards, Adams will be a focal point in a must-win game against the Vikings, Kamara might lead the league in non-quarterback points this week in a shootout against the Falcons, and so on and so forth.  Meanwhile, without Hill and Woods, the upside for my team takes a significant hit, as I’m forced to start both Chris Carson AND Adrian Peterson.  I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy!