The Seahawks Continued To Shore Up Depth By Signing Phillip Dorsett

I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited about the Seahawks’ free agency period. 2013 sounds like such a sucker answer, but it might be true!

The old adage, of course, is you build your NFL team through the draft, and you use free agency and the like to fill in any cracks. And, for a while, the Seahawks were the model of efficiency in that department. But, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to continue to hit with the success rate that the Seahawks ran from 2010-2012; indeed, as soon as 2013 we started seeing them fall woefully short in the draft, and therefore needing to rely more and more on crazy trades and trolling the bottoms of the seven seas for washed-up, has-been free agents on their last legs (due in large part to salary cap constraints, thanks to some of those trades, as well as extending our superstar draft picks from 2010-2012).

Through it all, coaching and Russell Wilson have kept this team afloat, as they’ve continued to stretch all they can get out of their salary cap dollars. But, this is the first year since 2013 where the Seahawks have had significant money to spend (and, indeed, there are more moves they can and will make to improve upon that amount), and I’ve never been happier with the results.

I’ve harped on it enough, but we all knew heading into the offseason where the major holes were/are on this team:

  1. Pass Rush/Defensive Line
  2. Offensive Line
  3. Secondary
  4. Offensive Weapons

I would say the Seahawks have had a nice START to filling out the #1 priority, but obviously there are a lot of things that can happen in that arena between now and the start of Training Camp. Multiple holes opened up on a pretty solid offensive line, thanks to injuries and free agency; and I’d say the Seahawks did the best they could with the resources they had available, to shore that up and at least maintain the level of consistency we’ve seen in 2018 & 2019. I would argue there isn’t a ton the Seahawks could do with the secondary, but the trade for a potentially-elite cornerback has to sit pretty well for most Seahawks fans. As for the offensive weapons, we’ve seen minor deals for tight ends – Greg Olsen, Luke Willson, and Jacob Hollister – but nothing in the receiver market.

Until yesterday, when it was announced Phillip Dorsett was signed to a 1-year deal.

Dorsett was a first round pick by Indy in 2015, and has largely been considered to be a disappointment. To that, I would say Andrew Luck missed half his games as a rookie with various injuries; Dorsett had a better 2016, but of course played second-fiddle to T.Y. Hilton. He was then traded to the Patriots for Jacoby Brissett. In 2017, he was way down the depth chart (behind Brandin Cooks, Gronk, and their bevy of running back targets), and in 2018 he was behind James White, Gronk, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and others. He finally got a shot in 2019, but still was way behind Edelman and White.

Plus, let’s face it, the Patriots’ passing game was atrocious last year. Tom Brady’s arm has about had it, their offensive line frequently forced him to rush his throws, and in all honesty Brady over the last few years has been CONSTANTLY looking for the check-down pass as a means to avoid being hit. Yeah yeah yeah, Brady’s the G.O.A.T. or whatever, but I don’t blame Dorsett for Dorsett not breaking out in that offense. Brady is a My Way or The Highway kind of guy at this point in his career; he’s not making the receivers around him better, he’s demanding you get on his wavelength, or he’ll find someone else who does.

Russell Wilson, by contrast, is smack-dab in the prime of his career. He’s the best deep-ball passer in football. Dorsett is entering a situation with one of the three best QBs in football, where he doesn’t HAVE to prop up a shaky offense. There are other weapons! Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are the top two receivers on this team; they will continue to be that for the foreseeable future. On top of which, the Seahawks are one of the more-balanced teams in football; we’re not throwing the ball 40 or 50 times a game. Dorsett, in all likelihood, won’t see much more than 50 or 60 targets in 2020; but I can damn near guarantee he’ll put up better numbers than he ever has.

He’s fast, he’s being put alongside two other very fast guys in Lockett and Metcalf, which means he’ll see primarily single-coverage from defenses. I don’t know about his leaping, or his ability to go up and high-point a football, but I like his chances in any one-on-one situation, especially since he almost certainly won’t have to face the opposing team’s best, shutdown cornerback. Regardless, if he can run fast, Wilson shouldn’t over-throw him very often. I expect a high yards-per-catch average, and I expect him to grab anywhere from 6-10 touchdowns, probably somewhere around 500 yards or so.

Bottom line is he’ll be better than Jaron Brown, David Moore, and anyone else who’s been on this team in recent years as this team’s #3.

This is the sort of depth I’m talking about. Dorsett was never going to succeed in that Pats offense last year as their designated #2; but he will THRIVE as the Seahawks’ #3. And, with that success, it wouldn’t shock me to see him revive his career moving forward.

I have to imagine it was hard for him on the Pats. So much of football – especially the skill positions – is about confidence. Guys always talk a big game, but they also need to be put in spots to succeed, and I don’t think that was ever going to happen in New England, not even with Brady. But, it certainly CAN happen here.

A+ signing in my book. Most importantly, the Seahawks don’t necessarily have to worry about drafting a receiver now. Frankly, I don’t think the Seahawks need to draft anyone on the offensive side of the ball, period, except maybe a running back in the later rounds. That makes this year’s free agency period particularly exciting for me. While I’m sure the Seahawks will be pretty defense-heavy in the draft, they’re also more-or-less free to simply draft the Best Player Available.

If that BPA just so happened to be a quality offensive tackle who could learn under Duane Brown for the next couple years, all the better, but that’s neither here nor there.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Man Down!

So, in hindsight, maybe I should have traded Danny Dimes for Stafford & Godwin? It certainly would’ve made my Week 4 a whole lot less stressful.

I was heading into some deep doo-doo as it is when I originally set my Week 4 lineup. T.Y. Hilton had left his Week 3 game prematurely with a nagging injury he’s been dealing with all year. Then, Scary Terry McLaurin popped up on a mid-week injury report for a quad or something. Whatever it was, he did it in practice, and it’s especially brutal because they were – in theory – going up against a terrible secondary in the Giants.

What was even worse for me is that with those two guys eventually declared inactive, I was down to just one healthy wide receiver. I’ll explain.

The person who picked up Wayne Gallman last week (and left him on HIS BENCH no less!) dropped David Montgomery (Chicago’s rookie RB) to get him. In my opinion, TheGangUnderperforms was a little short-sighted in this move, as Gallman will eventually be relegated to his usual backup role, whereas I’m of the belief that Montgomery is only getting better, and will continue to see his snaps increase with each passing week. If I were him, I probably would’ve dropped Matt Breida, but that’s me and I could easily be wrong in this thing. Regardless, I wanted David Montgomery, so that took up the bulk of my Wednesday-Thursday, obsessing over who I should drop.

It was down to Chris Thompson or Christian Kirk. I was 4th in waiver priority, and while I felt pretty good about my chances (that the top 3 guys wouldn’t put in a claim, or even notice he was out there), I couldn’t let him pass and see someone with a lower priority make the claim. So, I used mine. The claim would go through on Friday morning, and at this point in the week I believe Hilton was still pretty doubtful, but Scary Terry (from reports of Washington beat writers) was looking a little more probable than he had the day before. Since I’ll see Tyreek Hill and A.J. Green eventually returning from their injuries at some point this year, and I’m already rostering Kupp, Hilton, and Scary Terry, I had a hard time justifying Kirk’s existence. Particularly when – while I do have a pretty loaded backfield – running backs are notoriously injury prone, and I like playing Thompson in case of emergency, over some waiver wire scrub.

So, I dropped Kirk, and I crossed my fingers. With my luck, neither Hilton nor McLaurin made miraculous recoveries, which left me with two options: leaving the spot open and only playing one receiver, or leaving the spot open and seeing how the weekend went. I just so happened to be going up against the worst team in the league (who was also, thankfully, minus one of his regular QB’s in Jimmy G), and even minus one player, I was still in the thick of things heading into the week. I had a good game out of Wentz on Thursday, so I rolled the dice.

I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done, because as Sunday progressed, the pool of available wide receivers – for lack of a better word – sucked. When I woke up Monday morning and saw that Zeke Elliott had an okay game, I was up 131.35 to 117.7. I had no one in the Cincinnati/Pittsburgh game; he had Andy Dalton. Could Pittsburgh’s defense hold him to under 13 points? I didn’t LOVE my chances, but I thought they were reasonable enough. My other option would’ve been picking up either James Washington (the person I was leaning towards, who ended up with 0 points) or Diontae Johnson (who ended up scoring over 17 points and would’ve easily sealed the deal). See, my other thought was, with the Steelers having a backup QB, the odds of someone like Washington getting zero points were very legit, and I would’ve had to waive someone I REALLY didn’t want to waive to get those zero points.

In short, I was willing to take the Week 4 L to preserve my roster for the long term. The me of 5 years ago would’ve panicked; I’m proud of my restraint, and I was rewarded accordingly. I won’t say I deserve this victory, but after last week’s bullshit, I think I earned it.

***

Yeah, as it turns out, Danny Dimes kinda stunk in his second start. Meanwhile, Gardner Minshew once again tore it up, this time in Denver of all places. I was strongly considering rolling with the Mississippi Moustache in Carolina this week, but their defense has savagely limited QB production this year, whereas the Vikings can be thrown on. So, Dimes gets one more week.

I otherwise got just okay games from the rest of my lineup, minus Kupp who REALLY saved my bacon. The Lance Petemans had pretty much everyone else on the Rams (Gurley, Woods, and Cooks) who combined for 68.5 of his 121.05 points. I was most worried about having to play Buffalo’s defense against the Patriots, but they did me an okay 7 points. On top of which, they kept Brady out of the endzone and limited him to 3.20 points for my opponent (he got a combined 6.55 points out of his two quarterbacks, which ultimately sealed his fate).

This victory brings me back to .500 at 2-2. I’m in fourth place (currently tied with three others at 2-2), I’ve got the fourth-highest total points and the second-highest points against.

***

Apparently Cooper Kupp is now a Must Start wide receiver. It’s weird! I don’t know how it happened – especially coming off of his injury last year – but he’s got more points than any other Rams skill position player! By kind of a lot, after four weeks.

As for my other receiver, it’s Wait & See once again. I don’t know if I can throw away another WR spot this week, so I’ll probably be forced to make some kind of move if my guys don’t get right. I prefer T.Y. Hilton (@ KC) over Scary Terry (vs. NE), but at this point I’ll take what I can get (and hope that Dwayne Haskins doesn’t get the start).

I get Le’Veon Bell back this week to pair with Zeke, which is always comforting. Darren Waller is locked in as my starting tight end as long as he’s breathing. For my FLEX, it’s down to Josh Jacobs (vs. CHI) Thompson (vs. NE) or Montgomery (@ OAK). The Raiders/Bears game is actually in London, so throw location out the window. Jacobs is a no-play for me against that Bears defense, so it’s down to Thompson vs. Montgomery. I like Thompson particularly in this matchup, where you figure it’ll be nothing but check-downs to running backs no matter who’s playing quarterback for the Redskins. But, I’m rolling with my new pickup Montgomery.

Montgomery is now, finally, getting the lion’s share of the carries in their base offense. His snap counts have improved from 38% in Week 1, to 44%, then 67%, then 69% against the Vikings last week. I’ll be the first to admit, his fantasy numbers still aren’t great, and he’s useless if the Bears have to throw a lot to get back into the game. But, I expect their defense to really sit on the Raiders and I don’t think it’ll be too hard for the Bears’ offense to move the ball. Game script being what it should be, I like Montgomery for a lot of second half points in this one.

I’m pretty lukewarm on the matchups my players are facing this week. I’m also a little terrified to be going up against one of our better fantasy players (he’s got his name on the league trophy multiple seasons). Beasts has got Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan. He’s got McCaffrey and Chris Carson. He’s got Edelman and Godwin. He’s got Tyler Boyd going up against Arizona’s shitty defense, and he’s got Baltimore’s defense going up against Pittsburgh’s shitty offense. I’m nervous. With Seattle’s kicker, he’s got three Seahawks going up against the Rams; last year both of those games were shootouts and I see no reason why that won’t continue now.

As it stands now, Beasts is a 57% projected favorite in our matchup, but I’m used to playing the underdog. I don’t think Yahoo has a good handle on a lot of the younger players I have on my team; as they keep exceeding expectations, I figure my projections should start to change in the coming weeks.

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 …

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.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 9

Man, that was a squeaker!

By all rights, I should’ve lost last week.  In the end, I have my opponent to thank.

In the flurry of mid-week moves made in our league come Wednesday morning of last week, The Lance Petemans picked up Dion Lewis and dropped Chris Carson.  Per his description, Carson fucked him all year long, so of course the week he drops him is the week I claim him and he goes for 105 yards and a touchdown (20.40 points in total).  Had someone with a higher waiver priority made a play for Carson, my backup emergency fill-in RB for Ezekiel Elliott on his BYE was likely going to be Kenjon Barner (my thought process being: Sony Michel was injured, the Pats were likely to kill the Bills, and hopefully Barner would get me a goalline TD for my trouble).  Barner ended up getting all of 0.40, a full 20 points less than Carson.  King Flippy Nips beat The Lance Petemans 171.70 to 160.94, so you go ahead and do the math while I wait here and smoke this victory cigar.

I never in my wildest dreams figured I’d pick up a running back I actually wanted to keep around on my roster; I thought I’d get a guy for the week, be disappointed, and drop him as soon as humanly possible.  But, Carson isn’t only a viable plug n’ play, he might actually be a Must Start.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself, because he’s only had 2 good games out of 7, but this is the guy I was expecting coming into the draft (when I selected him in my other league WAY too early).

I got a lot of good play up and down my lineup.  Derek Carr got me almost 40 on my bench, but Wentz & Dalton both had 27+.  Thielen and Peterson also got me over 20, and the rest of my skill guys got me 10+.  Matt Prater had a crap game, and Chicago’s defense certainly missed Khalil Mack, but all in all it was a full team effort.

Having Tyreek Hill go down with a groin injury is far from ideal, but if there’s a position I can afford to have some injuries in, it’s wide receiver.  Woods is a Must Start for me at this point, and I’ve got plenty of depth to fill out my FLEX spot.  I just hope Hill’s injury doesn’t linger too long, and he isn’t beset with constant setbacks.

The victory brought me back to .500 at 4-4.  I’m in 4th place, comfortably in 3rd place in total points scored, and 6th in points against.

Week 9 is the week I’ve been dreading (and had blocked out of my mind to this point) all year.  On top of Leonard Fournette being on BYE (here’s hoping he’s back and starting in Week 10), I have not one but TWO quarterbacks on BYE.  Yes, this is a 2-QB league, and yes, I only have 3 QBs on my roster.  What’s more, Wentz was a keeper and the other two were draft picks, meaning I did this to myself.  Did I realize it when I picked Dalton?  Probably not.  Did I do anything about it back when I had a chance to grab someone off waivers?  Well, I owned FitzMagic for a hot minute, but dropped him back when he was benched for Jameis.

You can see where I’m going with this.  By picking up Chris Carson, my waiver priority fell; I was 9th out of 10 teams heading into this week.  Now, luckily I got the win last week, which I absolutely prefer to getting a chance to claim FitzMagic this week, so in that sense I don’t totally regret missing out on him.

Brock Osweiler was the only free agent quarterback available who looks like he’ll get a start this week.  That’s suboptimal, but what are you gonna do?  In the flurry of waiver moves on Wednesday morning, Sam Darnold was thrown to the wolves, so I put in a claim for him.  It won’t go through until Friday, so stay tuned!

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Derek Carr @ SF
  • QB2 – Brock Osweiler vs. NYJ
  • WR1 – Adam Thielen vs. DET
  • WR2 – Robert Woods @ NO
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. TEN
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. ATL
  • TE – Greg Olsen vs. TB
  • FLEX – Kenny Golladay @ MIN
  • K – Matt Prater @ MIN
  • DEF – Chicago @ BUF

My bench is:  Wentz (BYE), Dalton (BYE), Fournette (BYE), Carson, Hill, Devonta Freeman (IR).

As usual, the big decision I had was Olsen vs. Reed.  This week, I like the Panthers TE against the poor Bucs defense because they give up a ton of points to tight ends (whereas the Falcons’ defense is middle-of-the-road against tight ends).  Since Fournette is no longer an option for the IR spot, I had to create two openings before I could make any moves.  I dropped Jordan Reed so I could slide Fournette back to my bench.  Both Reed and Olsen are injury-prone (in spite of the fact that Reed hasn’t missed a game this year), but I like Olsen’s upside in a more prolific offense.  The other move was dropping Calvin Ridley for Osweiler.  Considering I’ve still got Golladay on my bench – and his role figures to increase now that the Lions traded Golden Tate – I feel I have plenty of top-shelf wide receiver depth on my roster.

The other big decision this week was Golladay over Carson for my FLEX.  Carson is really touchdown-dependent, but the Seahawks have been super-committed to him (as well they should be, because he’s far-and-away the best running back on this team and it’s not even close).  Golladay conversely, got lost in the shuffle the last two weeks with all the other Lions’ weapons stepping up.  Minnesota’s defense is pretty good against wide receivers, so for a while there I had Carson in my lineup.  But, with the trade of Golden Tate, Golladay HAS to see an increase in production.  Considering I feel the Lions will have to throw a lot to stay in this game, I think Golladay is both the safer play and the higher-ceiling play (as you’ll see tomorrow, I don’t have a ton of confidence in the Seahawks beating the Chargers).

This week, I’m going up against Beasts.  Last week, I talked about how The Lance Petemans have won the league championship every other year for the last too-many-years; well, the guy who’s won the league championship ALMOST every other year that The Lance Petemans failed to wrap it up was Beasts.  In back-to-back weeks I’m playing arguably the two best fantasy owners in our league’s history.  Great.

Here’s Beasts’ lineup:

  • QB1 – Russell Wilson vs. LAC
  • QB2 – Matt Ryan @ WAS
  • WR1 – Brandin Cooks @ NO
  • WR2 – Jarvis Landry vs. KC
  • RB1 – Christian McCaffrey vs. TB
  • RB2 – Phillip Lindsay vs. HOU
  • TE – Kyle Rudolph vs. DET
  • FLEX – Julian Edelman vs. GB
  • K – Graham Gano vs. TB
  • DEF – Minnesota vs. DET

His bench is:  Bortles (BYE), Tevin Coleman, Cooper Kupp, Doug Martin, Amari Cooper.

His quarterbacks should be rock solid in their games.  It’s sort of appalling how often the Rams try to force it into Cooks (when Woods is so much more wide open all the time!), and Landry is just a target machine against a terrible pass defense.  McCaffrey is a fantasy god going up against an even worse defense, and Phillip Lindsay pretty much owns that backfield now.  There really isn’t a weak player in the bunch; I guess I don’t love Minnesota’s defense against an offense like Detroit’s.  Nevertheless, my team is going to need to bring its A-game.

For what it’s worth, I like my non-QBs this week.  Chicago has a legitimate chance to be the best defense of the week (so watch them lay an egg somehow).  My kicker figures to have a nice bounce-back performance in a should-be high-scoring game.  All of my receivers look like they’ll be in games where their teams are throwing a lot.  And, here’s hoping Zeke comes back with a vengeance after a BYE week’s rest.  My hunch is that I lose this one, but I’ve got some guys that can keep me close.

Hope You’re Ready For The Seahawks To Be Obliterated

I don’t know what you do with this game.  The Rams are so far and away the better of the two teams that it hardly feels like anything to get worked up about.  Stick me on a court and pit me against LeBron James … and I’m supposed to be upset when he beats me 5,000,000 to 0?

I’m sorry, but I got nothin’.  Last December, the Rams came to town and won 42-7, and it wasn’t even THAT close!  I know there were a number of injured players – particularly on defense – that hampered the Seahawks’ chances … but guess what?  Earl’s gone, K.J. is still down, Mychal Kendricks is suspended, Avril’s retired, Kam’s retired, Bennett’s gone, Sherm’s gone, Dion Jordan is whatever, Rasheem Green’s got an ankle of some sort.  This defense is a shell of its former self, and while they’ve done the lord’s work in over-achieving thus far in 2018, the Seahawks haven’t seen a team even REMOTELY close to what the Rams are, particularly on offense.

The Broncos are garbage, as we all expected.  The Cardinals are trash.  The Cowboys are a mess.  And don’t be fooled by what the Bears did to the Bucs, because that Bucs defense is one of the worst in all of football.

This is the Los Angeles Fucking Rams!  Even when they had Jeff Fisher they were kicking our asses, and now they have a living and breathing genius at the helm!  They’re 4-0 and they’ve scored over 30 points in every game.  Say what you want about the teams they played (Raiders, Cardinals, Chargers, and Vikings all look pretty suspect on defense), but the Rams weren’t pussyfooting around.  They reached out, grabbed those teams by the throat, and went to fucking TOWN!  No easing off the accelerator, no going up big and coasting in the second halves.  They just keep coming and coming and coming, until the final whistle blows.

But, you know, crazy things happen.  The Bills went into Minnesota and destroyed them.  They’ve since come to look pretty mediocre against the Packers, so was that a fluke?  Are the Vikings way overrated?  Hard to say.  I still think the Bills are good for less than 6 wins this year, and I’d be hard-pressed to peg them as winners of more than 2 or 3.  The point is, they don’t play games on paper.  Games aren’t decided by one yutz’s blog post.  So, let’s get to work; let’s try to solve this impossible riddle of how to beat the Rams.

For starters, you have to like the fact the game’s in Seattle.  The Rams have played 3/4 games at home so far and their only road game was in Oakland, which … come on.  The Seahawks are 2-2 now, on a 2-game winning streak, and this season is pretty much on the line this Sunday.  Lose, and the Seahawks are who we thought they were; win, and the sky just might be the limit.  The way I’m leaning, I’ve got it 99:1 that the Seahawks lose, but in that rare 1% chance, we could be talking about something great.

But, home field advantage never won a game by itself.  The 12’s can be as loud as they want, but it’s still going to require the Seahawks to go out there and do the job.  From that angle, I see two possibilities.

The first involves the Seahawks doing exactly what they’ve done the last two weeks.  Lots of running the ball on first & second downs, getting into 3rd & short situations, slowing the game down, limiting turnovers, hopefully limiting opportunities for the other team to have the ball, and grinding out an ugly, close, low-scoring game.  If I had to guess what the game plan is for this week, it’s going to look exactly like that.

And I think that if you asked around the league, most people would agree that’s how you do it.  How do you beat Peyton Manning?  Keep him off the field.  How do you beat Tom Brady?  Keep him off the field.  And that’s worked at times; probably less than a 50% success rate, but better than nothing.  But, has it worked for teams with defenses this deficient?

The problem with that scheme is, we can slow things down all we want, but the Rams are still BETTER than us.  They’ll most likely be able to get off the field on third downs, get the ball back to their offense, and race down the field for many multiple scores, all with incredible ease.  If we try to slow it down and muck it up, we’re going to lose and lose big, I have no doubt about it.

The other possibility is a shootout, which I still feel is our only hope.  It won’t happen right off the bat, but after a quarter of play, when the Seahawks are down 14-0, obviously the script is going to have to be thrown out the window.  They’re going to have to take the training wheels off of Russell Wilson, and they’re going to have to let him run the show.  Up tempo, lots of throwing, one or two magical escape acts sprinkled in, and maybe you can find a way to keep up with their offense in a 38-35 type game (a la the game against the Steelers in 2015).  Those games are so rare and precious that it’s stupid to want to expect it, but if the Seahawks are going to win this game, that’s going to have to be how we do it.

There’s no way in hell that the Seahawks will be the first team to keep the Rams under 30 points this season.  We have no pass rush, full stop.  But, that’s neither here nor there, because the Rams are too quick anyway.  They get the ball out fast, before we’d even have a CHANCE to move the pocket.  They have the best running back in the league, who is a threat running and receiving.  K.J. Wright was always the key in guarding someone like Gurley, and you saw last year what happened when we were without our best pass-defending linebacker.  What’s going to happen this time?  Are we going to shadow him with Bobby Wagner?  Are we going to bring Bradley McDougald down closer to the line?  What does that do to our pass defense when Tedric Thompson is our guy roaming the middle?

Speaking of which, the Rams have three REALLY good receivers on top of their all-world running back.  Brandin Cooks is a stud and a deep threat.  Robert Woods is savagely underrated.  And Cooper Kupp is a top notch slot receiver.  Our corners are, I think, better than expected heading into the season, but they’re not going to completely shut those guys down.  And there’s a significant talent gap from Earl to the next man up, which is going to further open things up in the middle of the field.

Honestly, this game is going to be hard to watch.  If you need some sort of alcohol or marijuana enhancement to make it through this one, I won’t blame you one bit.

The End Of November Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

Just wondering, are any other fantasy football owners of Ezekiel Elliott now limping into the playoffs, soon to meet a staggering demise when they’d once looked like world-beaters?

I have him in two (10-team, 2-QB) leagues.  In one league, I drafted him in the middle of the fourth round.  That team is currently in first place; thankfully, I was able to maneuver my team and gather in enough reinforcements to keep things afloat.  If things continue, I see no reason why I shouldn’t compete for a championship (with Elliott returning in Week 16 to give me that final boost over the top).

In my other league, it’s not only a 10-team, 2-QB league, but it’s also a 3-Keeper league with 6 playoff spots (top 2 get BYEs in the first round).  Elliott was to be another team’s keeper, and with the 6-game suspension looming, I pounced on him before the draft, giving up Brandin Cooks in the process.  I figured I’d struggle in the early going, but go on a run towards the end of the season, maybe sneak into the playoffs and roar through to a championship.  That was the plan anyway.

And then the suspension kept getting kicked down the road, and I thought maybe I’d luck out and he’d avoid the suspension altogether!  Or, at the very least, either knock it down a few games, or delay it to the 2018 season.  Instead, the suspension kicked in at almost the worst possible time.

Three weeks ago, in this keeper league, I was in first place, looking like a strong candidate for one of the BYEs.  Three weeks later, I’m on a 3-game losing streak.  This week will be the last one before the playoffs; I could very well lose in the first round, before I even get a chance to put Elliott back into my lineup!

The real kick in the pants is that Dak Prescott has fallen apart; he’s one of my two quarterbacks (alongside Carson Wentz, who is looking like the best QB I’ve ever kept).  You’d think a GOOD quarterback would step up to the occasion; with Elliott down, he’d pick up the slack and keep the Cowboys’ offense moving.  Instead, he’s gotten me less than 1 point in the last two weeks, and is causing me to reconsider his candidacy as one of my three keepers for next year (the other option would be Leonard Fournette, whose first six weeks were Elliott-level outstanding, but whose last six weeks have been sucking my will to live).  I mean, if Dak can’t get it done because everything around him isn’t absolutely perfect (RB suspension, offensive line injuries), then how can he be counted upon for the long haul?

I’d hate to be a Dallas Cowboys fan right now, I’ll tell you that much.  Bring back Tony Romo indeed!

  • Philadelphia (10-1)
  • New England (9-2)
  • Minnesota (9-2)
  • Pittsburgh (9-2)
  • L.A. Rams (8-3)
  • New Orleans (8-3)
  • Carolina (8-3)
  • Atlanta (7-4)

A lot of good teams beat up on a lot of bad teams this past week.  The most impressive win was probably the Vikings over the Lions; they look like the real deal.  The Rams also took down the Saints, which gives them quite the boost.  I’ll be interested to see how the NFC South shakes out.

  • Jacksonville (7-4)
  • Seattle (7-4)
  • L.A. Chargers (5-6)
  • Detroit (6-5)
  • Tennessee (7-4)
  • Baltimore (6-5)
  • Buffalo (6-5)
  • Kansas City (6-5)

The Jags’ amazing defense is going to keep them in every game, which is good.  Their terrible offense is going to give them a chance to lose every game too.  They’re simultaneously the team no one wants to play in the playoffs as well as the team no one really fears all that much.  I think the Chargers are going to steamroll over the competition the rest of the way; look out for them in the Wild Card round.  And what the fuck happened to the Chiefs???

  • Washington (5-6)
  • Dallas (5-6)
  • Oakland (5-6)
  • Cincinnati (5-6)
  • Arizona (5-6)
  • Green Bay (5-6)
  • Tampa Bay (4-7)
  • N.Y. Jets (4-7)

All those 5-6 teams thought they were going to be considerably better heading into the season.  And yet, none of them are really eliminated!  I’d watch out for Oakland and Cincy, as I could see either of them snatching that 6-seed in the AFC.  The loser of the Dallas/Washington game this week is probably finished.  Also, good on the Packers for looking frisky against the Steelers (who notoriously play down to the level of their competition, but still).  If the Packers can steal a couple games before Aaron Rodgers gets back, I’d be concerned if I was the rest of the NFC.

  • Miami (4-7)
  • Houston (4-7)
  • Denver (3-8)
  • Indianapolis (3-8)
  • Chicago (3-8)
  • N.Y. Giants (2-9)
  • San Francisco (1-10)
  • Cleveland (0-11)

I give you:  the least fun teams to watch on TV and/or root for.

The Seahawks Played A Fourth Pre-Season Game and I Drafted A Fantasy Football Team

What do you want from me?  It was a meaningless fourth pre-season game where most of the starters didn’t even play a single snap.  The Seahawks beat the Raiders 17-13 thanks to a final TD-drive by Austin Davis in the fourth quarter against scrubs.  The backup quarterback controversy is in full effect, and I couldn’t care less.

On top of that, I didn’t even get to see the vast majority of it, because my primary fantasy football league held its draft at the same time.  So, instead of pouring over the stats from the game, and speculating on who will get cut and who might get traded (Kearse, Lane, Collins?), I’m going to tell you about my fantasy football draft.

I know no one gives a shit about anyone else’s fantasy football team but their own, but this is my blog and I’ll rosterbate if I want to!

For starters, you should know that it’s a 2-keeper league that’s set up to expand to a 3-keeper league in 2018.  Meaning, we have to keep 2 players from last year’s roster, with the knowledge going into this draft that we’ll have to keep 3 players next year.

Next up, you should know that it’s a 10-team league, head-to-head, with a 6-team playoff system (top 2 teams get first round BYEs).  The bottom four teams play in a Consolation Bracket whereupon the winner of said bracket gets to draft first overall, and the rest of the draft order goes backwards from there.  Since I lost in the championship of the Consolation Bracket, I drafted second overall.

As you might surmise, my 2016 team wasn’t very good.  I spent the entire year obsessing over the simple fact of just getting two quality keepers on my team, because my 2015 team was just as bad.  It’s been a vicious cycle of mediocrity for many years now.  Instead of investing in my future, by drafting the likes of Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson in their rookie seasons, I’ve been forging my own path full of veterans with disasterous results.  So, last year, I said, “NO MORE!”  And yet, somehow the best I could muster was keeping Carson Wentz and Brandin Cooks.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Wentz.  I mostly like him because people in the know, scouts and whatnot, keep telling me he’s going to be one of the good ones.  I read stories about how he’s a football junkie and is working out all the time and so on and so forth and it gives me hope that maybe in a year or two he’ll be Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, and that I’ll have gotten in on the ground floor of a keeper I can enjoy for many years to come!

As for Cooks, he was the best of the rest on my roster last year.  I like him a lot too, especially because he was traded to New England, and hearing stories about him and Brady hitting it off on the practice field gave me cause to jump for joy.

But, you know, it’s not like we’re talking about Aaron Rodgers and LeVeon Bell here.  These aren’t superstars, and there are very valid concerns about them producing in the future.

Also, you should know about our league:  it’s a 2-QB system.  Gameday rosters look like this:  QB, QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, RB/WR/TE Flex, K, DEF, with 5 bench spots.  It’s a PPR league (1 point per reception), with any and all TDs worth 6 points, and it heavily skews in favor of the quarterback (unlike standard leagues, where top RBs are king, in our league, if you don’t have two good QBs, you might as well fucking kill yourself).  So, in that sense, it’s like the real NFL, except we doubled up on QBs per team because it’s only a 10-team league and it’s insane to have viable starting QBs on the waiver wire during BYE weeks.

So, that sets the stage.  Long story short:  my keepers are kinda sucky, I’m drafting #2 overall, and I need to be in a position to keep 3 guys next year.

Now, a little wrinkle!  I worked out a pre-draft trade with the guy who kept Ezekiel Elliott!  What with his 6-game suspension looming to start the season, and my friend ostensibly holding out hope for a championship this year, he accepted a straight-up swap of Cooks for Elliott.  With Julian Edelman going on IR in subsequent days, it looked like he was going to get a lot more value out of the deal.  However, with it appearing like Elliott might shake this whole suspension thing (from 6 games to 0, thanks to the NFL’s bungling), I might have the steal of the draft on my hands!

Of course, going forward, I have to worry about Elliott’s character concerns, while Cooks is by all accounts a model citizen on a championship team, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, instead of Wentz & Cooks, it’s Wentz & Elliott.  I can work with that!

I don’t want to list out everyone else’s keepers, so hopefully you’ll glean from context who was kept (lots of QBs, most of the tip-top skill-position players).  Going into the first two picks, I surmised the best two players available (for our particular league and no one else’s) were LeVeon Bell and Dak Prescott (the guy who had Bell last year opted to keep his stud QBs; he was obviously league champion).  I was pretty sure the #1 pick overall was going to take a QB, and I was pretty sure that QB was going to be Dak.  But, the day of the draft, he texted me that he was going with Marcus Mariota, another young, up-and-coming fantasy points hog.

That left me with the choice of Bell or Dak.  Understanding that there really weren’t any other young stud QBs left in the draft, only veterans and injury risks (Roethlisberger, Rivers, Stafford, Eli, Palmer, Cutler, and so on and so forth), I went with Dak.  I think he’s a superstar in the making and I’m not buying for one second this notion of a sophomore slump.  His TD/INT ratio this year might not be as crazy as last year, but I think we’ll see a spike in his overall TDs and yards thrown to MORE than make up for the regression.

As we snaked our way through the next round and a half, it dawned upon me that a lot of those veteran/injury risk QBs I listed above were flying off the board, to my shock and awe.  My hope, heading into this draft, was to get Dak and wrap around at pick 19 and snag Roethlisberger.  That way, I could bench Wentz and save him for when Roethlisberger ultimately gets injured (and hope that by that time Wentz would have asserted himself as a full-fledged fantasy starter in this league).  No such luck.  In fact, as the draft would shake out, I was completely and totally unable to pick up a backup QB.

At the tail end of the second round, after it was clear I wouldn’t get my rock of a backup QB, I was hoping to land Dez Bryant and have the Dallas Cowboys trifecta, but he was snagged 3 picks before me.  Michael Thomas, from New Orleans, fell WAY farther than I would’ve thought (I’m VERY high on Thomas this year and going forward), but was taken 2 picks before me.  There were a lot of options left, but I went with Leonard Fournette, in the hopes that he’ll become Ezekiel Elliott 2.0 (minus the domestic abuse charges).  The fact that he plays for the Jags scares me, as does the fact that he’s a rookie with a terrible QB in front of him, so much so that I might not even start him in Week 1 (such is my mania).  But, the instant he gets me a 20-point game for my bench, he’ll be locked into my starting lineup going forward.

I wrapped around and took Gronk in the third round.  A sure thing from a fantasy persepctive, and one of the very biggest question-marks from an injury perspective.  Either way, there weren’t a lot of good receivers left, so I took Best Player Available.

At this point, my team is Wentz, Dak, Elliott, Fournette, and Gronk.  Still no actual wide receivers.

By the time the draft got back to me, a lot more good receivers went off the board, so in keeping with my Best Player Available strategy, I took Carlos Hyde, RB of the 49ers.  I think he’s going to have a monster year as the best offensive weapon on that team.  Wrapping around, still without an amazing receiver option, I took Lamar Miller of the Texans.  So, now I’ve got 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 0 WRs, and 1 TE.

At my next pick, I knew I had to take a receiver, regardless of what was left out there.  For me, it came down to Emmanuel Sanders of DEN and Jamison Crowder of WAS.  Thankfully, the decision was made for me by the guy drafting right before me as he took Sanders.  Crowder it was.  Wrapping around, I was sure I was going to take Stefon Diggs of the Vikings, and ultimately this might be the pick I end up regretting the most.  See, with Yahoo’s rankings (yeah, we play on Yahoo, sue us), I saw an opportunity for another young, up-and-coming running back in Derrick Henry (the way the rankings were set, I doubt he would’ve been there for me nearly 20 picks later).  I had him all last year, and all last year he was decidedly behind DeMarco Murray on the depth chart.  I waited ALL YEAR for Murray to get hurt, and not only did he stay healthy, but he was in the top 3 of all backs in rushing attempts!  And this was in spite of the fact that whenever Henry did get the ball, he looked really fucking good (and, of course, he was a high draft pick for the Titans last year).

So, I’m rolling the dice on Year 2 of Derrick Henry.  If Murray gets injured, I’ve got a Top 5 running back to throw onto the pile (or use as trade bait for a stud receiver).  But, if Murray plays like he did last year, then I’ll have missed out on Diggs, or any number of receivers selected after him.  Roster status:  2 QBs, 5 RBs, 1 WR, 1 TE.

With my next two picks, I went receiver happy to compensate.  Unfortunately, by this time, the cupboards were pretty bare.  One of my new lines of thinking on receivers is:  taking the best ones from bad teams.  There are a couple of Browns receivers I really like, the Chargers guys are interesting, but I went with Pierre Garcon of the 49ers.  Yeah, he’s getting up there, but have you SEEN their depth chart?  And, I know, Brian Hoyer is their QB, but he’s still going to complete SOME passes, and he’s going to have to throw them to SOMEONE.  Garcon is most likely to get the lion’s share of the targets and touches that don’t go to Carlos Hyde (yes, I know, having not one but two 49ers on my team is just asking for trouble).  If he stays healthy, he could be a nice little steal for me.  Then, I wrapped around and picked up Willie Snead.  I’ve always liked him as a #2 option in New Orleans, but he seems to have REALLY fallen out of favor this pre-season (at least, according to reports), as the Saints have Michael Thomas as their clear #1, and the newly-signed Ted Ginn as a guy competing for #2 reps.  I dunno, I’ve always thought Sneed had good ball skills in the red zone, so I went with him over Ginn (secretly hoping I could snag Ginn the next time the draft got back to me, where I could keep the best one and waive the loser, but it wasn’t to be).

At that point, I had 2 QBs, 5 RBs, 3 WRs, and 1 TE.  I could officially field a full offense plus a flex spot, plus have enough RBs left over to compensate for a possible Elliott suspension.  I had to go get a Defense the next time up, because all the best ones were flying off the board.

I wanted Houston’s defense really bad, but he went 5 spots ahead of me, so I settled on Minnesota’s D.  We’ll see.  On the wrap-around, I picked up Eric Decker of the Titans.  He’s a touchdown machine, but he’s older and coming off injury, so it wouldn’t shock me if he isn’t long for my team.

Heading into the last two picks of the draft, a few Kickers had already been taken, but Stephen Gostkowski was still there for me so I somehow have New England’s kicker free of charge.  With my final pick, I took Rishard Matthews (a guy my friend wanted, but he accidentally took Jordan Matthews instead, a few picks before me).  I think Rishard is awfully underrated as a guy who had a pretty solid season for the Titans last year.  Neither he, nor Decker, figure to start for me out of the gate.  But, I’ll monitor both of them and keep the guy who’s more reliable.

Final Roster looks like this:

  • QB – Dak Prescott
  • QB – Carson Wentz
  • RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  • RB – Carlos Hyde
  • WR – Jamison Crowder
  • WR – Pierre Garcon
  • TE – Rob Gronkowski
  • Flex – (RB) Lamar Miller
  • K – Stephen Gostkowski
  • DEF – Minnesota

With my bench looking like this:

  • RB – Leonard Fournette
  • RB – Derrick Henry
  • WR – Willie Sneed
  • WR – Eric Decker
  • WR – Rishard Matthews

Look, I don’t love it, all right!  I’m not boasting here!  I love my running back situation, of course, but I have far-and-away the worst set of wide receivers in the entire league.  I’ve got a top-flight kicker, a good-enough defense, and the best tight end in the game (when healthy).  As for my quarterbacks, they’re young.  One was great last year (Dak), one got a lot of experience and took his lumps (Wentz).  The picking’s are pretty slim on the waiver wire, as far as QBs are concerned.  Most of the rookies are there, alongside a few of the very worst starters this league has to offer.  So, if Wentz can’t get it going early, I might be stuck with a Hoyer or a Kizer.

On the plus side, I think regardless of what happens, I should have 3 viable keepers heading into 2018, and that’s all I can really ask for.  If Wentz pans out, I’ll keep my two QBs and Elliott.  If Wentz doesn’t look good, or if Fournette really busts out, I might go with Dak and the two RBs.

Here goes nothing.

Short Week For Me: Seahawks/Saints Preview

Is it unfortunate timing on my part to be going to Disneyland on such an important football weekend as this weekend?  Is it even more unfortunate that whenever I take these trips to California, the Seahawks always seem to inevitably lose to some team they have no business losing to?

Hi, meet the New Orleans Saints:  some team the Seahawks have no business losing to.

The Saints are 2-4, with wins over Carolina and the Chargers, and losses to Kansas City, Atlanta, the Giants and the Raiders.  Are they any good?  Tough to say.  They’re certainly better than they were last year, but it would almost be impossible to NOT be better.  Particularly here, I’m talking about their defense, which went from being among the worst all time, to still pretty bad.  They still give up the most points per game in the league, but they only give up the FOURTH-most yards in the league, compared to second-most of last year.

Their worst trait is their pass defense (3rd-most yards given up in the NFL), but they’re still in the bottom third in rush yards given up as well.  They’re middle-of-the-road in takeaways with 8, but 6 of those are fumble recoveries, which are flukey as hell.  They’re also tied for the 3rd-fewest sacks with 9 on the year.

So, in other words, this defense is literally the exact opposite as the one we saw down in Arizona.  If the Seahawks can’t move the ball at will against this unit, they’ve got deeper problems than just a leaky offensive line.

On the flipside, the Saints get the second-most yards per game (behind Atlanta) and the third-most points per game (behind Atlanta and San Diego).  It’s neither here nor there that the Saints have played some of the least intimidating defenses in football in their six games so far, in the eyeball test they look like the real deal.  Drew Brees is up to his old tricks, and they’ve finally re-loaded their passing game with lethal wide receiver weapons.

Brandin Cooks is an all-around fantastic receiver, who has over-the-top speed.  Willie Snead, when healthy, is a tall, physical possession receiver who – if we’re not careful – will have 12 catches before we even blink.  Rookie Michael Thomas looks like he was cut from the Marques Colston mold.  Then, you’ve got newly-signed tight end Coby Fleener who hasn’t done a TON of damage yet with his new team, but that’s just because he hasn’t played against the Seahawks yet.

Their running game, while maddening from a fantasy perspective, is still good enough to keep you honest.  I like Mark Ingram as a power back, even if he’s criminally under-utilized on the goalline.  Of course, they brought in John Kuhn (from Green Bay) to vulture those TDs.  And the resurgence of Tim Hightower is one of the better NFL stories of the last year.  Top it off with a veteran, stout O-line (led by Max Unger and the return of Jahri Evans, once we cut him before Week 1), and you’ve got all the makings of an offense that should be able to do a helluva lot more than the Cardinals last week.

How do the Seahawks win this game?  Well, it’s not realistic to expect them to replicate what they were able to do last week on defense, so if the Saints come down for some easy early touchdowns, don’t piss your pants.  Granted, they will have to get SOME stops, but this game is all on the offense.  I think we need, minimum, 28 points to win this game.  And, if we can’t do that – if we can’t get out of our own way with penalties and allowing the pressure to get to Wilson too quickly – then stop the season, because I want to get off!

This would be a great game for the offense to try to get the run game going.  Ground and pound early and often, let the run game work for you to open up more opportunistic passing plays.  I hate to go all Member Berries on you, but ‘member the Seahawks’ offense from three years ago?  ‘Member how awesome it was to control the clock and take calculated risks down field through the air?  Let’s do that again.

Biggest Concern This Week: The Receivers

Doug Baldwin is good.  Really, really good.  He’s not what you would consider an elite #1 a la Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, or A.J. Green, but nobody asked him to be.  That’s not his game.  He’s not going to run a bunch of vertical routes, leap over defenders, and make crazy catches in traffic.  He’s also not a burner, a la T.Y. Hilton, Brandin Cooks, or John Brown; he’s not going to blaze past defenders for a bunch of 40-yard bombs.  He works out of the slot, but he’s MORE than your traditional slot guy, a la Wes Welker, Percy Harvin, or Randall Cobb.  He can do it all, he can line up anywhere, and his best attributes are his hands, his smarts, and his route running.  With those three things, Doug Baldwin is just as capable and effective as any of the guys I’ve listed in this paragraph.  He doesn’t need freakish size or speed.  The best comp, in all honesty, is probably Antonio Brown, who I feel is the best wide receiver in the game of football today (although, to be fair, Brown does have superior speed to get to those deep balls).  In a more pass-friendly offense, Doug Baldwin would be a top 5 or at the very least a top 10 receiver in this league.

In Seattle, Doug Baldwin is a #1 who’s not really a #1.  And, this week, he may be looking at his greatest test since the Super Bowl against New England.

The Panthers are down to one healthy starting cornerback.  He just so happens to be Josh Norman, who is on the final year of his deal while at the same time playing the best football of his career.  He’s a legit Top 5 shutdown corner in the league, and he’s looking at a significant payday once his season ends.  Much like Richard Sherman, Norman generally plays on the outside.  While he CAN follow receivers into the slot, he usually doesn’t.  This is the rationale for why Seahawks fans should be comfortable with the receiving matchups this week; because other than Norman, Carolina is forced into playing a couple guys they “picked up off the streets”.

On the flipside, the Seahawks have been reduced to the following because of injuries:  Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, Kevin Smith, and Kasen Williams.  I might be in the minority here, but I just don’t see why Carolina would choose to play status quo defense when they’ve got a shutdown corner and the Seahawks have one of the hottest receivers in the league.  We’ve seen Richard Sherman follow a receiver all around the field from time to time this year; I’m sure Josh Norman has done the same thing.  If I’m coaching for Carolina, this is the week I’m taking full advantage of all that Josh Norman has to offer.  And, while Doug Baldwin will get SOME catches, I highly doubt he’ll have this huge, impactful game (if, indeed, my theory is correct).

So, where does that leave us?  Well, for starters, I’m not expecting much at all out of our running game this week.  Carolina’s front seven is as good as it gets and should have no problem keeping us in check.  This game is going to hinge on the arm of Russell Wilson, which means it’s going to hinge on the other receivers getting open for him.

I like Jermaine Kearse as much as the next guy.  He runs pretty clean routes in his own right, and for the most part I trust him to catch whatever he gets his hands on.  But, his frequency of making big plays has diminished considerably this year; he’s essentially become a possession receiver in 2015.  Maybe he’s just saving it all up for another chance to be the hero in the NFC Championship Game, but this week would be a really good opportunity for him to break out.

The one person I forgot about when I started this post is Tyler Lockett.  He has, by all measures, had a wildly successful rookie season.  He’s an All Pro returner, and has cemented himself as this team’s third receiver.  He’s had a few big games (three combined touchdowns in the two games against the 49ers, 7 catches for 90 yards in the first Minnesota game, 6 catches for 104 yards and 2 TDs in the Baltimore game), but for the most part has had the kind of season you’d expect from a quality rookie receiver trying to break through on a championship-calibre team (averaging approximately 3 catches for 41.5 yards per game and a TD every third game or so).  We’ve seen Lockett’s over-the-top speed beat some defenders for big plays this year, but where his game is lacking a little bit is his ability to high point a ball and win those deep catches in traffic.  Obviously, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but how many times have we seen Russell Wilson launch a 50/50 jump ball to Lockett, with that ball ultimately falling incomplete?  That’s where you miss a guy like Golden Tate; that’s where you’d ultimately like to draft a guy like DeAndre Hopkins to do that for you.

If the Seahawks are going to be successful against the Panthers this week, Tyler Lockett is going to have to really bust out.  There’s no reason why he shouldn’t get open on the reg against the likes of Cortland Finnegan (who I actually suspect will try to manhandle Kearse throughout the game) or Robert McClain.  I honestly sort of expected him to have more of an impact in the Vikings game last week, but the cold rendered that moot.  THIS WEEK, however, should be the week where he breaks his foot off in their asses.

I suspect, unless injuries arise, we won’t see much out of Kevin Smith or Kasen Williams this week outside of special teams.  I nevertheless maintain my belief that we will see at least ONE huge play out of Kevin Smith that nobody will see coming.  Maybe it’s a deep ball in traffic, maybe it’s a short catch and a lot of YAC.  Something!  Just watch.  As for Williams, I feel the Seahawks are missing a great opportunity there.  Williams DOES have a great ability to high point balls and come down with difficult catches in traffic.  If we’re smart, the Seahawks will include a few sub-packages with Williams, like we did with Chris Matthews in the Super Bowl last year.

This week is also the perfect week to get Luke Willson back.  I can’t even begin to tell you how tired I am of Cooper Helfet being our #1 tight end.  Not that I don’t like Helfet.  I think as a #2 or a #3, Helfet is quite effective.  But, his game is diminished the more he’s forced into the limelight.  I would assume Carolina’s defense is pretty stout against tight ends, what with their monster linebackers, but at least Willson presents a respectable challenge and will have to keep them honest.

I may be off base in this part of the game being my biggest concern – after all, Carolina’s secondary right now is much more palatable than it is at full strength – but it’s going to be imperative that our guys find ways to get open and get open quickly.  Their pass rush is insane, so being on time and staying on schedule is the best way we have of winning this game.