Seahawks Death Week: The 2019 Seahawks Were Too Pure For This World

I’m still sort of catatonic and it’s going to be at least another day before I actually WANT to talk about the Seahawks, but here I am, ever the trooper. Honestly, I want to say about an hour or so after the game ended – after reading all the post-mortem tweets and finishing the last two episodes of Letterkenny just to unwind and try to laugh again – I was EXHAUSTED. I could barely keep my eyes open. The game, as usual (and as expected), was so intense and nerve-wracking, then it was over and I was so upset and ready to burn the whole fucking thing to ashes, I really expected to be wired and obsessing over it into the midnight hour. But, I was in bed not only at a reasonable hour, but probably 60-90 minutes before I really NEEDED to go to sleep. I wouldn’t say I’m wide-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning – I kept dreaming of being chased by giant rabbit monsters – but I guess I could always be less refreshed, so I’ll take it.

I was really trying, you guys. I was reverse-jinxing my ASS off these last couple weeks and I hope it was appreciated! I feel like my efforts alone got the Seahawks past the Eagles and if I’m not immortalized in this season’s Wikipedia page, then there’s a great injustice in the world. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough to get us through the Divisional Round.

Truth be told, I think the result would’ve been exactly the same had we played the 49ers on Saturday. Just a hunch, obviously there’s no way to know for sure, but I actually liked our chances a lot more had we somehow managed to beat the Packers and gotten to face them next week. Not for nothing, but the ideal scenario – winning the division, securing that 3-seed – still figures to have been the best path to success this playoff season. In that case, we would’ve beaten the Vikings at home (no doubt in my mind; Kirk Cousins is a fraud), gone on the road to play the Saints (who have proven they’re not unbeatable at home; plus it’s a climate-controlled dome over the freezing cold of Lambeau Field), and then either hosting the 49ers for the NFC Championship Game or going on the road to play the Packers after they’ve been tenderized by Frisco. The Super Bowl isn’t a mortal lock in that alternate universe, but I have to believe it beats our stupid reality.

The bottom line is: these Seahawks just weren’t good enough. We’ve overachieved all season, and this result is probably our absolute ceiling: going on the road in the Divisional Round, fighting back against an underwhelming 13-3 Packers team, and losing a 1-score game.

I mean, I hate to keep harping on it, but we were +7 in point differential in the regular season. Including our two playoff games, we’re +10 over 18 games; it’s almost a miracle we got THIS far. Play this season in a million different simulations, and I’m not sure there are too many examples of better outcomes than what we saw this year.

In my darkest hour, when I reflect back on this season, I’ll always wonder what could’ve been if we’d hired a babysitter for Josh Gordon …

We don’t really need to dwell too hard on the first half; it went about as expected. If gambling were legalized, you know what I would’ve done? I would’ve bet our poor, mistreated Taylor Family Farm on the Packers in the first half. What was it, -2 points? THAT was the easiest money of the weekend. With they way they always get off to hot starts – and the way we always trip over our own dicks – how do you not make that bet?

We went down 7 early, punted on our first two possessions, and then pulled it to 7-3 on a very unsatisfying drive that started at our own 42 yard line. Those would be our only points of the half, as we missed our other field goal attempt; meanwhile the Packers dominated the second quarter to go up 21-3. If it’s a Divisional Round matchup and the Seahawks are on the road, we’re DEFINITELY going to shit the bed for the first 30 minutes of the game, that’s just a given.

Then, the big climb out of the gutter. Touchdown to Lynch out of the break, 21-10. The Packers came right back down the field – embarrassingly easy, which was the name of the game – to make it 28-10, but to our credit we got right back to work with a long drive to make it 28-17. Then, we forced the first of two punts of the half, and things felt like they were turning. On our first drive of the fourth quarter, we drove all the way down again to score on another Lynch goalline plunge to make it 28-23; getting sacked on a corner blitz on the 2-point try felt like a pretty large tell that things were about to get shitty again.

BUT! We forced yet another punt, and now it REALLY looked like this game was going to be memorable. At that point, the Packers’ defense was spent. Our offense was humming, we were letting Russell cook – as the kids like to say – and right off the bat he hit Lockett for an easy 14-yard gain.

Then, arguably the play of the game. He had Malik Turner wide open on the Green Bay side of the 50-yard line. He hit him in the gut with the ball. And Turner dropped it. You know who wouldn’t have dropped it? Josh Gordon, but that’s neither here nor there. Okay, that was only first down, not a huge deal, right? We came back to hit Hollister for five yards to make 3rd & Manageable at our own 42 yard line. It sounds like MAYBE we considered making that 4-down territory, but we’ll never know for sure because for some reason, whatever play we called left Hollister trying to block one of the best pass rushers on Green Bay, who easily beat him for a 6-yard sack (with Ifedi standing there with nothing to do but fondle his own choad, I guess, instead of helping the overmatched receiving tight end against a linebacker who had at least 50 pounds of muscle on him).

At 4th & 11 at our own 36 yard line, punting was the right choice, in my mind. We had all three time outs (somehow, none were wasted), plus the 2-minute warning. If our defense could’ve forced just one more punt, the game could’ve been ours.

But, we let them convert a 3rd & 8 and a 3rd & 9 to salt away the game. And, here’s where I start calling out some guys, because it’s time.

Lano Hill was on the field, and I want to say he was involved in getting beaten on both of those third downs. He’s the fucking WORST. I saw Marquise Blair was inactive with an injury in practice this week, and that might legitimately be the reason why we lost this game. Words can’t describe how terrible Lano Hill is, and I can’t believe we’re stuck with him for one more season.

Let’s see, who else? AHH! Tre Flowers sure did suck! That guy couldn’t cover (my old, dead granny? the broad side of a barn? a cold?) Rock in a game of Rock/Paper/Scissors where his opponent had both hands genetically fused into the shapes of fists! (nailed it). He really doesn’t look like he’s made any progress between Year 1 and Year 2; frankly he looks the same as he did in his very first game. At no point whatsoever did I trust him against Davante Adams yesterday, nor any other receiver they opted to slot to his side. He was a total disaster in this game, and he’s eating a pretty significant slice of the “Reasons Why The Seahawks Lost To The Packers” Pie.

Also, I don’t know who I should blame for this, but not adjusting your scheme to put your best cornerback (Shaquill Griffin) on the other team’s best receiver (Adams) when it’s pretty apparent they’ve only got the one good one … I mean, it’s appalling! 8 catches for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns. You can’t allow that, while also allowing Jimmy Graham to do what he did, while also allowing them to get decent yardage on the ground, while also allowing them to go 9/14 on third downs.

(also, I know it’s annoying that Graham made all those big catches and ended our season, but he still sucks and they could’ve paid literally any tight end to do the exact same thing; instead they’re taking on a $12.67 million cap hit in 2019 for a stiff, slow, soft bum to do those things, so good for them I suppose)

I know Pete Carroll probably makes that call, but I agree with Field Gulls here, you’ve GOT to find someone who is halfway competent to run this defense. All Ken Norton has shown in his time here is that he’s decent at developing linebackers. As a former linebacker … WHAT A STRETCH!

For shits n’ giggs, here’s a rudimentary look at how Norton’s units have fared since he’s been a Defensive Cordinator. He was a DC for Oakland from 2015-2017, then in Seattle the last two seasons. So, we’ll look at those defenses the year before he arrived, as well as the years he was in charge (in bold and underlined):

  • Raiders 2014: 32nd in points, 21st in yards, 16th in passing yards, 22nd in rushing yards
  • 2015: 22nd in points, 22nd in yards, 26th in passing, 13th in rushing
  • 2016: 20th in points, 26th in yards, 24th in passing, 23rd in rushing
  • 2017: 20th in points, 23rd in yards, 26th in passing, 12th in rushing
  • Seahawks 2017: 13th in points, 11th in yards, 6th in passing yards, 19th in rushing yards
  • 2018: 11th in points, 16th in yards, 17th in passing, 13th in rushing
  • 2019: 22nd in points, 26th in yards, 27th in passing, 22nd in rushing

I’ll let smarter people than me dig into the analytics, but those are numbers everyone can understand, and they’re NOT GREAT BOB! I’m stepping on the toes of some later posts this week, but Ken Norton has done nothing to warrant keeping his job in Seattle.

Getting back to this game, I’ll gladly shit on Malik Turner a second time. He belongs in the XFL posthaste. He’s just a guy. Jaron Brown is just a guy. Every receiver not named Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf are JAGs and this is a spot – with how frequently the Seahawks are in 3-wide receiver sets – the team could use an upgrade (again, lament the loss of poor Josh Gordon).

Everyone’s talking about the total absence of turnovers in recent weeks, so I guess I’ll mention that here. But, I always treat those as fluke occurrences; if you’re counting on your team to generate turnovers, then you’re bound to be disappointed in games like these. The Packers take good care of the ball. They’re well coached. And, they have one of the best quarterbacks of all time who has NEVER really turned the ball over much. Expecting Aaron Rodgers to throw picks is a better definition of insanity than the old cliche everone trots out on a daily basis nowadays.

I’m more disturbed by the lack of a pass rush, which is something far more in our control. I know it’s dumb to send the house against quarterbacks like A-Rod, but also leaving him in a pocket for 10 seconds to scan the field three or four times is also a bad recipe. Of course, that was our concern from the very beginning of the season, so I’ll say again: Thanks Ziggy Ansah, for NOTHING! That’s not totally fair, since he got hurt last week, but he also brought nothing to the table the entire season, so fuck him.

Anyway, 2 sacks for 8 yards (and, really, not too many pressures beyond that, ESPECIALLY on that final drive to run out the clock) won’t get it done against the Packers. You’ve got to get A-Rod on his ass early and often and have him running from ghosts by the 4th quarter.

***

It wasn’t a total disaster of a game though, so I’ll finish with some bright spots.

I won’t give the Marshawn Lynch Experience a letter grade in his return to the Seahawks; he gets special treatment of the pass/fail variety. And, in that sense, it’s an easy Pass for Beastmode. He had 2 TDs in this one on 26 yards rushing. It was tough sledding, as I feared it might. I’ve said this too many times to count: the Seahawks tend to get owned by really elite interior linemen, and Kenny Clark’s return was the difference in this one. He clogged up the middle and there was just nowhere for our guy to run. I like the idea of giving Lynch more carries and essentially making him the starter in this one over Homer – and he certainly made SOME chicken salad out of the chicken shit blocking we were giving him – but I don’t know if anyone on our roster or out in the free agent scrap heap could’ve done any better.

That’s 4 more touchdowns to throw on the Marshawn Lynch career pile, including 3 more in the playoffs, to help bolster his Hall of Fame chances. I really hope he makes it someday.

Ever since Shaquem Griffin started getting some run at defensive end in passing situations, I’ve been waiting for him to get his first sack in a huge situation, so it’s fitting it came in our last game of the season, in the fourth quarter, which ended up forcing the Packers to punt. What a fucking cool moment, with his brother getting there at nearly the same time, allowing them to celebrate together! Ruined, of course, by Malik Turner and our offense’s inability to capitalize. But, that’s something big to build on heading into the 2020 season.

Russell Wilson, of course, had a fine game. He wasn’t given a lot of help, but once again he accounted for an insanely high percentage of this offense’s output. 341 of our 387 yards came from Wilson’s arm or legs (not counting sack yardage).

One guy who showed up in a huge way was Tyler Lockett: 9 for 136 and a touchdown. As expected, with D.K. being the story last week, he had a relatively quiet game, as the Packers put a lot of resources his way. But, thankfully Lockett was up to the task, as he was getting open all over the field.

Before I forget, I can’t tell you how impressed I was with Duane Brown. He wasn’t perfect, but he was definitely needed, and rushing back from surgery to start in this game was super-human. Unfortunately, Mike Iupati couldn’t make the same miracle recovery, and he was seriously missed in the middle. Without him – and with Jamarco Jones leaving early with a head injury – there was absolutely nothing we could do with the aforementioned Kenny Clark.

Defensively, I dunno. Our front seven did pretty well, given the circumstances. We held down their rushing, and got better as the game went along in that regard. Clowney was a warrior. Bobby Wagner had some big stops. But, we didn’t get much from our safeties, and in the end we just couldn’t make the stops when it mattered most. The Packers were 3/3 in the red zone, all for touchdowns, and you just can’t do that against this team and expect to win. You have to make one of those a field goal! And, I don’t know what the fuck happened on that 40-yard TD to Adams, but 1-on-1 coverage with Flowers as the primary was inexcusable. He should’ve been double-teamed all day, and ultimately that call comes from the top.

Terrible defensive scheme by Pete Carroll. You were ultimately the reason why we lost this game. Of course, you’re also the reason why we ended up making the playoffs in the first place, and got this far with a team that probably should’ve been 9-7 or 8-8, so good job I guess?

They can’t all be Bill Belichick.

For Real This Time: We’ve Come To The End Of The Road For The 2019 Seahawks

Every year, after the Seahawks’ season ends – meaning they either get knocked out of the playoffs, they fail to make those playoffs, or that one time they won it all and the NFL season came to its conclusion – I run a week’s worth of posts under the banner “Seahawks Death Week”. Sort of an In Memoriam, as it really does have a funereal feel whenever the NFL season comes to a close. Without the NBA in my life – and still a year away from the NHL – what do I have to look forward to for the next 9 months? Baseball? The Mariners?! Stick a gun in my mouth right now …

Anyway, ever the trooper, I’ve already gotten a jumpstart on Seahawks Death Week, outlining the set of posts that will drop in the coming days. There’s the traditional final game recap, an always-unsatisfying “What Went Right” piece (to try to bring a little hope into the following season), a raging “What Went Wrong” screed, and my favorite exercise: What The Seahawks Should Do Next (because the NFL season never really ends, when you can obsess about the draft and free agency).

In case you couldn’t tell, I believe this is where the Seahawks’ season ends. I’ve said that all along, as soon as we blew it against the Cardinals and 49ers at the end of the season, and we officially got saddled with the Wild Card. Indeed, I’ve harped on this for years: it’s not enough just to get INTO the playoffs, you’ve got to get one of those top two seeds or you’re just deluding yourself.

As I wrote about yesterday, it’s very difficult to win on the road in the Divisional Round of the playoffs; the Seahawks are 0 for their last 8 in this situation. It’s not just a Seattle problem; in the previous 10 seasons (because I really didn’t want to go back further and work on this forever), only 10 teams who played on Wild Card weekend advanced beyond the Divisional Round. And, of those 10, only 4 were actual Wild Card teams who had to go on the road for the duration of the playoffs. The last time an actual Wild Card team advanced to its respective conference championship game was – oddly enough – the 49ers from 2013, when we beat them with The Tip. Not for nothing, but the last time a Wild Card team won it all was Green Bay back in the 2010 season (as a 6-seed, no less).

So, in the last 40 Divisional Round games, 4 teams went on the road in the Wild Card round, won, and then went on the road again and won the very next week. How can you not love those odds?!

Part of me tried to talk myself into believing this week, simply for the fact that we haven’t seen the Packers yet this year (or, more importantly, they haven’t seen us). We last played them on a Thursday Night game in 2018, when they sucked and eventually fired their head coach. I never totally understood that team; sure their defense was so-so, but that’s always been their weakness. But, the fact that their offense struggled so much – with Aaron Rodgers at the helm – really spoke volumes towards why they needed to make a change. Anyway, I tend to like our chances more when a team hasn’t had to face us in the regular season. I don’t have a ton of evidence to back this up, but here are four recent examples to try to bolster my flawed theory:

  • 2018 – Beat Dallas in the regular season; lost in the Wild Card round
  • 2016 – Beat Atlanta in the regular season; lost in the Divisional Round
  • 2015 – Lost to Carolina in the regular season & Divisional Round
  • 2010 – Beat Chicago in the regular season; lost in the Divisional Round

It’s more of a feeling or a generality than a hard and true fact, but it just seems like most teams – when they get a crack at taking on a good team a second (or, if you’re in the same division, third) time, it’s not like it was before. I don’t know if that Eagles game last week would’ve ended remarkably different had Wentz not gone out, but it’s not difficult to fathom the Seahawks ultimately losing (surely Wentz would’ve been better in the red zone in the fourth quarter than McCown, you have to give me that).

***

Anyway, let’s get back to this week’s opponent. This year, the Packers have been much more balanced. I don’t know if I ever feel great about playing Green Bay; with Rodgers, you know they always have a chance, regardless of the talent level around him (this HAS to be what opposing fan bases think about the Seahawks and Russell Wilson). I especially don’t feel great about playing Green Bay when they’ve got a quality running game and a better-than-you-think defense. In the NFL, you’re never without flaws, but this is a Packers team that lacks a real GLARING weakness.

On the flipside, you could also argue that the Packers also aren’t particularly elite at any one aspect either. Honestly, for how balanced they’ve been on offense, I would’ve expected them to be running up the score on some of these crappy teams they’ve played. Instead, they’ve done just enough, and sometimes have played down to the level of their competition (sound familiar?).

Their two real embarrassing losses both came on the road, at the Chargers and 49ers. The loss in L.A. feels wrong in retrospect; I don’t really have a great reason for that happening (other than me believing they’d cover the spread, since I’m apparently the world’s worst football gambler).

They’re actually kind of middle-of-the-road in a lot of key areas. They’re not especially dominant at getting sacks or preventing sacks. That having been said, I don’t figure we’ll be able to get Rodgers on his ass all that much in this one, and with our O-Line as banged up as it is, I fully expect Russell Wilson to be running for his life like last week. They’re also weirdly not great at converting third downs, which I wouldn’t have expected. My hunch is that maybe they went overly conservative in the regular season, with their easy schedule and whatnot. If you’re almost always in it and/or leading, you don’t need to take as many chances on converting third downs.

The keys, as usual, will be those third downs, as well as turnovers and big plays. I wouldn’t expect too many interceptions in this one, as both quarterbacks have had fantastic seasons not giving the ball away; but you just can’t predict fumbles (when they’re going to happen, or whether or not you’re going to lose out on them). Bad fumble luck will make an already-difficult situation pretty much impossible.

I never know what to expect from this Seahawks defense when it comes to giving up big plays. It seems like we can’t help but give up a few – especially between the 20’s – but obviously the emergence of Quandre Diggs has helped curtail that a little. The thing about not playing Green Bay earlier this season kind of gets thrown out the window when you consider how many times Aaron Rodgers has gone up against our defense in the Pete Carroll era; they’re practically a divisional opponent and one of our biggest rivals at this point!

I feel like our biggest liability in this one will be third downs. Rodgers is more than happy to dink and dunk it around our linebackers, picking up good chunks of yardage. This is, of course, a byproduct of our lack of pass rush, which I think will return with a vengeance this week after a season-high 7 sacks last week in Philly (this point is nailed home by the fact that the Packers’ O-Line is fully healthy for the first time in a while). Rodgers knows how to beat this team at this point; there’s nothing we can throw at him that will be a surprise.

***

Offensively, for the Seahawks, if we’re able to move the ball, we should be in it at least. Thankfully, the Packers don’t figure to be nearly as talented at stopping the run as the Eagles. We should get a good, honest look at what the Seahawks have in Homer and Lynch; are they okay? Or are we fucked because one is a Day Three Rookie and the other is over the hill?

Containing Green Bay’s pressure will be important, as they have a couple of outside linebackers with 13.5 and 12 sacks respectively (Za’Darius & Preston Smith). The only real interior threat looks to be nose tackle Kenny Clark, who returned to practice this week after battling an injury. Of all the quality defenders they have, the thought of Clark clogging up the middle probably scares me the most. If we’ve got two maniacs coming from the edges, I want to be able to take comfort in Russell Wilson maybe escaping through the middle. It sounds like with Clark, that window just closed.

The games where we struggle the most are when opposing defenses are able to overly-pressure Russell Wilson with a 4 or 5-man front. Granted, he sees a lot of pressure on a regular basis, but when we look REALLY bad on offense – the recent Cardinals & Rams games come immediately to mind – there’s usually at least one man wreaking total havoc on our protection on an every-down basis. The key will be – if we’re unable to keep a clean pocket – allowing Wilson outlets to escape, scramble around, and either get yards with his legs or throw on the run for gains down field. Even though Cox last week was one of those Aaron Donald-type monsters, Wilson was still able to get around him and keep the chains moving. It’s those games where the pocket gets quickly squeezed, where Wilson does his thing where he dances around, ducks down, and meekly succumbs to the chaos around him, that this offense truly suffers. If the Packers are in his face all day, this will be a hard game to watch.

As long as our targets stay healthy, I don’t think passing will be too much of a chore. The Packers are better at pass defense than rush defense, but that’s never really been an issue for us so long as Wilson can avoid sacks. I don’t know if we can count on a repeat performance out of D.K. Metcalf, but I also wouldn’t expect him to revert back to his dropping and fumbling tendencies either. If anything, I would expect a concerted effort by Green Bay’s defense to put their best cornerback on him, thereby hopefully freeing up Lockett to do damage down field. We’re fucked if they’re able to totally lock down Metcalf with one-on-ones, while they double-team Lockett on the other side. At that point, it’ll be asking a lot to generate explosives and keep the chains moving on a consistent basis.

***

Defensively for the Seahawks, we HAVE to stay healthy to stay in it. The drop-off from our studs – Diggs, Wagner (especially with Kendricks on IR) and Clowney – would be too much to overcome against this offense. Also, Davante Adams is a beast, and if he’s going up against Tre Flowers all day, I’d expect a lot of flags on our dude. I also heard Adams has been making some hay in the slot, which is scary. There’s been talk about Shaquill Griffin following him around the field. I don’t normally like taking our guys out of their comfort zones, but in this case it might be warranted, especially if the Packers get off to a hot start.

And, since I don’t expect a whole lot out of our pass rush, we’ve got to figure out a way to keep Aaron Jones from taking over. He’s a great running back who had been criminally underused in Green Bay until this season, and his emergence has really paid dividends for this offense as a whole. They may not blow teams out like they used to, but with a Top 5 QB like Rodgers, and a Top 5 or Top 10 running back like Jones, that’s the type of combo all teams dream of.

***

My ultimate prediction in this one consists of the Packers not really punting a whole lot (if at all), scoring more touchdowns than field goals, and generally making life miserable for the Seahawks to keep it close. I would anticipate being down by double-digits in the first half, scrambling like crazy to close the gap in the second half, but ultimately falling well short, probably by two scores. Green Bay -4 honestly feels like the easiest money of the weekend (I like the Chiefs over the Texans a little more, but 9.5 points are a lot to cover for any team).

I just can’t help but envision the Seahawks dropping like flies. I see guys leaving with concussions, ankle strains, you name it. And, lacking the depth to pick up the slack, on top of being on the road, in Lambeau, and all the rest, I think it’ll just be too much.

While I think GB -4 is a mortal lock, I could also easily see us up late, needing to prevent the Packers from scoring on a last-second field goal or something. Anything and everything is on the table; there are countless ways for the Seahawks to blow it, leaving us all – on Monday morning – bemoaning the fact that once again we let a viable opportunity slip through our fingers.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: even if we won in the Wild Card round (which we did), we were never making it to the NFC Championship Game. It’s too hard, too much of the deck is stacked against us, and as I’ve said countless times, the Seahawks just aren’t good enough. If you took an honest assessment of this team, you’d agree that on eye test alone (if nothing else), these Seahawks aren’t championship-calibre. I’ve come to terms with that since I saw we were destined to play in the Wild Card round. Soon enough, everyone else will come to terms with it too.

I’m No Good At Titles & The Seahawks Won Their Wildcard Matchup Against The Eagles

I had this weekend ALL wrong!

I’ll tell you this much: I legitimately thought the Saints were one of the top two teams in the NFC and that they were going to KILL the Vikings. For what it’s worth, if that was Vikings at Seahawks, I still think Seattle prevails, but the outcome has me thinking twice a little bit. Maybe the Saints are Playoff Cursed?

No matter, because the Seahawks went into Philly and came out on top, just like we all knew they would, right guys?! We’re all on the right side of history in this argument!

I will say this much: I’m VERY happy that the Vikings did win, because I would MUCH rather they be cannon-fodder for the 49ers next week over us. I think the 49ers win that game by three scores EASILY; they’re super healthy across the board, well-rested, and have a team flying halfway across the country on a short week with a quarterback who is 1 for a million in big games (happy for Cousins and all that, but one win doesn’t automatically wipe out his entire broken reputation).

Anyway, let’s tarry no further and talk about this Eagles game. In a lot of ways, it went according to expectations; but a few key spots were totally unpredictable.

Let’s start here; I feel like I need to get an “I Told You So” out of the way to boost my confidence: the Seahawks’ rushing attack was truly abysmal. If you take away Wilson’s scrambling (which he could have in most every game if he really wanted), the Seahawks’ running backs (Homer primarily, Lynch secondarily, and Turbin never) ran 17 times for 19 yards and a touchdown. Homer had one 12-yard rush; his other 10 carries went for a combined 0 yards. Lynch had that one MAMMOTH 5-yard TD rush, but even Beastmode could only muster 2 additional yards on his subsequent 5 carries.

Fletcher Cox easily made the biggest impact for the Eagles and it’s not even close; he was the second-most important player in this game behind Jadeveon Clowney (who we’ll get to later). It obviously hurt the Seahawks to be out Duane Brown (replaced by George Fant), Mike Iupati (replaced by Jamarco Jones), and Justin Britt (replaced by Joey Hunt), but even D.J. Fluker was getting pushed around (or, at best, stonewalled) by Cox and his wrecking crew on that front four. I’ve always known Cox was great, but MAN was he impressive in this one; he was a man possessed, and he didn’t seem to take a single play off. As a Seahawks blogger, I don’t tend to write a lot about opposing players, but I have to tip my cap to him; he almost single-handedly ruined the Seahawks’ season.

The Seahawks scored 17 points, so obviously the offense didn’t do a whole helluva lot, but there were three key aspects to the Seahawks’ success:

  1. The Seahawks didn’t turn the ball over
  2. The Seahawks were 8/15 on third down
  3. Russell Fucking Wilson

There were actually no turnovers in this game, period (which was odd, considering the start, where both offenses put the ball on the turf only to recover their own fumbles), so even one bad throw or mis-handled snap could’ve really swung the entire season. I hate to say it (especially considering Homer almost bonered it in the first possession), but NOT having Chris Carson might’ve made all the difference! Look, I love the guy as much as anyone, but he CLEARLY never fixed his fumbling problem (he had three in his first three games of the season, was clean for a while, then had a 3-game stretch where he lost the ball 4 times – but the opposing team only recovered 1 of them, which is pretty fortunate).

The success on third down was doubly-great because we were in 3rd & Long so many times! Some of that was luck/poor tackling on the Eagles’ part, but most of that was Russell Wilson flat out making plays. So, let’s get to him.

325 yards on 18/30 (for a 10.8 average) with a TD and a 108.3 passer rating. Add on 45 rushing yards on 9 scrambles, and we’re talking about the guy who was once the frontrunner for the MVP this season. He wasn’t perfect; there was an overthrow here and there, but he was as close to it as you can get.

It really sunk in as you watched some of these quarterbacks this weekend (and ESPECIALLY throughout the season): if it’s 3rd & 18 or whatever, and the Seahawks have Josh Allen or Ryan Tannehill or maybe 85% of the mediocre-to-crappy quarterbacks in this league, they’re either running a draw play or a screen pass to the running back, getting anywhere from 5-10 yards, and punting. Now, say what you will about the play calling (it was growing more and more alarming every time the Seahawks ran the ball after a penalty on 2nd & 20, I’ll admit it), but we’re not afraid to put the ball in Wilson’s hands when we’re behind the sticks, our backs are against the wall, and we need an incredible play. He’s the reason why you pay a quarterback $30+ million per season. He’ll get the job done when 90-95% of the rest of the league will fail in those same situations.

It was a low-key special performance by Wilson that will largely be forgotten to the sands of time, especially when you factor in this was D.K. Metcalf’s Coming Out Party.

I’ve been extremely high on Metcalf ever since we drafted him. Most talent evaluators (including the other 31 teams in the league) focused on the negatives in his repertoire, but I’ve known all along that his skillset fits this team and this quarterback perfectly. As has been discussed, his rookie season was largely a success, but there have been plenty of ups & downs. This was the first time he really put everything together and showed a glimpse of what he could become: a flat-out superstar in the NFL. 7 catches on 9 targets, 160 yards and a touchdown. The TD was incredible – a 53-yard catch, stumble, get-back-up, and barrel into the endzone – but his game-sealing 36-yard reception on 3rd & 10, with the Eagles holding only 1 time out on the wrong side of the 2-minute warning, was the reason you brought him in here in the first place. One-on-one coverage, no safeties deep, you absolutely need to convert that to win the game, otherwise you punt it away for the chance to tie, and he high-pointed the ball and came down with the W. Simply outstanding.

I was probably least-sure about the Seahawks’ defense in this one, but this was a classic performance by these guys.

Clowney was a total difference-maker; we haven’t seen him play this well since the 49ers game in Week 10. He filled up the stat sheet with 5 tackles, a sack, 2 tackles for loss, and one very memorable quarterback hit.

You can’t talk about this game without talking about Carson Wentz getting injured in the first quarter, leaving the game with a head injury, being replaced by a 40 year old Josh McCown who came out of retirement to be this team’s backup. We’ll never know if the Eagles would’ve won with Wentz in there for the full game, but I have to imagine at the very least that he would’ve found a way to at least get them in the endzone one time. As it stands, McCown was okay, but he was clearly over his skis; he threw for 174 yards on 18/24 passing and most importantly 0 turnovers. But, he also suffered 6 of the 7 sacks the Seahawks got in this one (after we had the second-fewest in the league in the regular season) and was clearly a little gimpy, having to run for his life most of the day.

The Seahawks’ pass rush really showed up on a day the team desperately needed it. It wasn’t any one man, either, as 6 different guys combined for the 7 total. Of course, that was a byproduct of the Eagles also suffering a number of injuries on their O-Line, but clearly the Seahawks were better able to cope (as Wilson only had the one).

Seattle has Wilson and that’s a definite leg up over the rest of the NFC, but we’ll only go as far as this defense can take us, and that means having all of our key guys healthy and playing at the top of their games. Clowney sure showed up. Bobby Wagner showed why he’s yet again an All Pro this season. And, Quandre Diggs – first game back since his high ankle sprain – showed why he’s so important to this defense. The longest reception by an Eagles player went for 32 yards to Ertz, but there was nothing over the top, and obviously they never saw the endzone. We’ll never know for sure how many of the sacks were due to tight coverage, but it’s definitely a non-zero number. Diggs allows McDougald to play more closely to the line of scrimmage, to help out in defending the run as well as covering those two great tight ends.

I want to shout out Cody Barton, as he was a guy I highlighted as a major concern before the game. For as much as this team plays base defense – and indeed, he was in there for 75% of the Seahawks’ snaps – he showed why this team loved him throughout the pre-season. He had a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two passes defended in this one as well as an additional QB hit. I saw him do nothing but make play after play, as he finally had a full week to practice at one spot, and this team coached him up to their fullest abilities. If he continues to show out like he did in this one, there’s no doubt he’ll be starting for this defense in 2020.

As I said before, this was a classic defensive performance: bend, don’t break, lots of aggressive penalties, but ultimately keeping the inferior offense out of the endzone and keeping them at 0 for 2 on fourth down (both deep in Seattle territory, on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter). This is a similar (but obviously not the exact same, due to injuries) defense that let Brett Hundley march down the field on them in that fakakta Cardinals game, so it was nice to see them stand up when it mattered most.

It all sets us up for the best-possible scenario for the Seahawks, given the circumstances. We avoid the 49ers in the Divisional Round, which I’ve argued all along is of utmost importance. Now, Green Bay is obviously no slouch – and certainly the talking points around Seahawksland will be their terribly-easy schedule this season – but with Aarons Rodgers & Jones, Davante Adams, and a better-than-you’d-think defense, that team is balanced and experienced and, most importantly, at home.

I’m still pretty convinced that the Seahawks will lose in this one, but I’m more willing to give us a chance to score the upset than I would be if we’re going to Santa Clara. Make no mistake, I obviously believe the Seahawks COULD beat the 49ers (we obviously did it once on their home field, and should’ve beaten them twice this season), but it would be too difficult in this particular round of the playoffs: the 49ers are at full strength, with a week off, while we just played a brutal game against a very physical team all the way across the country. If we were to shock the world and upend the Packers, I’d give us a 50/50 shot at beating the 49ers in the Championship Game.

But, to get there, we have to beat a different very good, healthy, well-rested team at home. It’s never easy to win in Green Bay, and it’s especially not easy to beat them there in January. Knocking Aaron Rodgers out of the game almost certainly won’t be on the table, so here’s to hoping there’s a little Russell Wilson Magic left in the tank (we hopefully didn’t need to use it all up in that Eagles game).

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Fucking Sick Of This Shit

On Saturday night, I asked my brother who he would start: Robert Woods or Jamison Crowder. I ended up going with Woods because I paired him with Kupp and I liked at least ONE of those guys to go off against the Bears. I didn’t expect the Rams to continue to look so fucking inept on offense. And I CERTAINLY didn’t expect Woods to be a surprise healthy scratch because of some personal issue that we weren’t privy to until maybe an hour or two before gametime; when ALL of my other players were fucking dead to me.

I ended up dropping Darius Slayton for Sammy Watkins, going for the Chiefs on Monday Night. I could’ve had Josh Reynolds, but the Chiefs receiver looked like the safer play. High-flying offense against a mediocre defense, surely would do the trick! It ended up not mattering either way.

Of course, the rest of my team fucking SUCKED. I got a combined 27 points out of Brady and Wentz which fucking murdered me. So, I went into the Monday Night game essentially tied with my opponent. He had Rivers, I had Watkins. Tyreek Hill even got injured for me pretty early on to help out the cause! But, Watkins is fucking over the hill and useless from a fantasy perspective, so he got me 4.6 points. Rivers was totally fucking worthless as well, but at least through his 4 interceptions he still managed 9.65. I lost to Sloane N Steady 138.89-133.50. If I’d played Crowder, I would’ve won.

Honestly, the main reason I didn’t play him is because he’d already had two good games in a row; what were the odds a Jets receiver would have THREE in a row? I also thought the Redskins’ defense was slightly frisky (they’re not). Plus, I got burned the week prior when I tinkered with my lineup on a Saturday night; now I’ve been burned by NOT tinkering. I can’t do anything right.

I truly, truly fucking hate this game. It ruins every weekend for me. I don’t know why I keep playing fantasy football. I hope the league disbands and I never have to play again.

***

I’m now 5-6, in 8th place out of 10 teams, two spots out of the playoffs. I’ve underperformed my projections in 9 out of 11 weeks now. I’m down to the 8th most points scored and what does it even fucking matter how many I’ve had scored against me? I should be on a 5-game winning streak, but my team fucking shits the bed at every turn. There are two more weeks. I somehow still have an outside shot – as there are two other 5-6 teams ahead of me in total points – but I need help. I think I’ve got a decent shot of going 1-1 in the final two weeks of the regular season, which means I need both teams ahead of me to lose out. It can be done, but it would be the silliest back-door entry into the playoffs anyone’s ever seen.

***

I immediately dropped Sammy Watkins on Tuesday morning because fuck that turd. I didn’t put any waiver claims out there because honestly I don’t know. I wasn’t inspired. Nobody out on the scrap heap looked better than my guys; at least no one I’d want to go to any trouble for. The rest of the league was pretty active. I waited until Wednesday morning, then re-claimed Darius Slayton off of Free Agency, dropping Robert Woods. That guy seems like bad luck from a fantasy perspective, and if I’m gonna be out of it, I might as well go down with a rookie with high upside. Who knows, maybe in the Consolation Bracket playoffs, I’ll start him and Danny Dimes and watch them do their things.

I’m also thinking it’s time to drop A.J. Green. He’s been on my bench/IR spot all season, but lately it’s more trouble than it’s probably going to be worth. He keeps reverting back to ineligible for the IR spot – because he’s effectively week-to-week – but it’s looking less and less likely that he’s going to ever return. Besides that, the Bengals are obviously in Lose-Now mode by going with the younger QB (who sucks), so what upside does Green have even if he DOES come back for the fantasy playoffs? Probably not much. Certainly not more than Kupp or Crowder or any of the receivers I could pick up off waivers. So, before Sunday, I could see myself making another roster move; but at this point I don’t see myself using up a waiver claim unless someone special pops up.

***

My lineup is pretty set at this point for the stretch run. I’ve got Brady vs. Dallas and Wentz vs. the Seahawks. They should be okay. My running backs are really the only guys not totally letting me down; Zeke, Bell, and Jacobs all have decent-to-good matchups. The Disappearing Cooper Kupp has to face Baltimore’s ravenous defense on Monday Night, so let’s hope I’m somehow able to lock things up before then. I actually am going to start Crowder this week at home against the Raiders, WHAT ARE THE ODDS HE HAS FOUR GOOD GAMES IN A ROW??? Pretty fucking negligible, I’d say. Then, there’s Waller, Tucker, and Buffalo hosting Denver, so whatever.

My Space Pirates are going up against our biggest nemesis: Space Forcin’. I’m catching him on a Mahomes BYE – which was really my only hope of beating him – but the rest of his team is still stacked, led by Kamara, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett, and Zach Ertz who will absolutely dominate the Seahawks this week.

Did I mention I fucking hate fantasy football? I wish everyone was dead.

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: Playoffs Round 2

Well, it looked dicey there for a while on Sunday – as both King Flippy Nips and Crazy N8’s Prostates struggled to do much of anything – but as the day wore on, my guys had just enough in the tank to prevail, 164.77 to 124.10.

Predictably, I made a bunch of pre-game panic moves that either had no bearing on the outcome, or totally cost me points because I’m an idiot.  For starters, I put Wentz back in my lineup over Carr.  It was the right call – as my fantasy confidant and sherpa guide told me, “… this time of year I generally say play your best players,” – and in the end I got an extra point out of the deal.  Turns out Carr against the Steelers was also a good call, as I figured.  But, the risk of Carr totally melting down was too much for me, so I went with my keeper.

I also ditched the Giants defense, going with Detroit’s.  That ended up costing me 4 points, which was no big thing (thankfully).  But, I could’ve just stuck with Chicago’s defense (who DOMINATED the Rams, to my surprise) and had 10 more points!  IDIOT!

Finally, I put Adrian Peterson in there, thinking that the Redskins would hang around and try to run the ball a ton.  He got me less than 3 points in a week where Carson would’ve gotten me 15.  Woof.

Luckily, Zeke came to play (31.20), both my QB’s showed up, and Tyreek Hill shook off an early injury to get me over 20 points.  More importantly, Crazy N8’s Prostates had to replace ODB at the last minute (Chris Godwin, who got less than 3 points), and had mediocre games up and down his lineup.

So, I advance to the next round.  As a 6-seed, my reward is to play the 1-seed, Space Forcin’.  You know, the guy who managed to keep Mahomes, Kamara, and Rivers (QB1, RB5, and QB6).  The guy who – on his BYE week last week – still managed to lead the league in scoring with over 200 points.  This dude is a juggernaut.  I’m so fucked it’s not even funny.

Barring a miracle, I’m pretty much where I deserve to be:  in the final four.  I will say this, though:  for a team as good as mine, it’s weird that I’ve yet to surpass 200 points in any given week.  Most all of the other good teams in our league has had at least one 200-point week this year.  Just sayin’.

Anyway, here are my guys:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz or Nick Foles @ LAR
  • QB2 – Derek Carr @ CIN
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. LAC
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. MIA
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ IND
  • RB2 – Chris Carson @ SF
  • TE – Vance McDonald vs. NE
  • FLEX – Robert Woods vs. PHI
  • K – Ryan Succop @ NYG
  • DEF – Chicago vs. GB

My bench is:  Winston, Peterson, Boyd, Adams, Detroit, Bell (IR).

Come Wednesday morning, I made a flurry of moves.  Gone:  Jimmy Graham.  Fuck that guy, I fucking hate him anyway.  Plus, with the Packers going up against my defense, it’s not like I want him to do well anyway.  So, watch him have a monster game with multiple touchdowns.  In his place, I grabbed Vance McDonald.  There aren’t a lot of great tight ends out on waivers this time of year, and the ones I like are in tough matchups.  With McDonald, I just want to get SOME points, and I feel like he’s got the safest floor.

Also gone:  Matt Bryant.  The dude is old, their offense has sucked lately, and again I just want POINTS.  Per Yahoo, the Giants give up the most points to kickers in the league, so in comes Succop.  I don’t love Tennessee’s offense, but hopefully he’ll get me a 50-yarder or two.

Finally, I didn’t need two defenses, as I’m FOR REAL THIS TIME sticking with Chicago the rest of the way.  With word coming down on Wednesday that Carson Wentz is unlikely to play this week, I picked up Nick Foles.  I still like him more than Jameis Winston against that Baltimore defense.

My guys are okay, my matchups are okay, but Space Forcin’ is just STACKED.  The aforementioned Mahomes & Rivers (in a matchup against one another on Thursday night that’s destined to be a shootout to end all shootouts), Adams and Smith-Schuster as his starting wideouts, Kamara and Aaron Jones as his starting RBs, the immortal Kittle as his TE, Jacksonville’s defense going up against the pathetic Redskins.  I mean, how do you compete with these guys?

I’m gonna need my first 200-point week, and even then, will it be enough?  Yahoo has me losing by over 20 points already, before anyone has played a game.  It’s gonna be ugly.

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!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 3

My Rationale Beforehand

Ol’ King Flippy Nips really needed that win last week.  We SHOULD be 2-0 and one of the scariest teams in the league, but instead we’re the best of the 1-1 teams (#2 in total points overall) and in a dogfight against the top scoring team in the league, the 2-0 Space Forcin’.

Since there’s hashtag No Time To Sleep, there were a couple more roster moves to sort out this week.  First thing’s first, I used my dreadful waiver priority (I want to say I was 8th out of 10) to pick up Ryan FitzMagic.  I figured after his week 1 heroics, it was all a fluke, and probably the Saints’ defense isn’t that good this year.  However, he threw for 4 more TDs against the Super Bowl champion Eagles, so this HAS to be for real, right?  He’s got 94 points in two weeks in our league!  Maybe it’s like a Case Keenum situation from last year, where a veteran comes from out of nowhere to take the league by storm!

Plus, he’s going up against the Steelers on Monday Night this week, their defense looks atrocious, so I feel better about FitzMagic than I do Derek Carr (at Miami, whose defense COULD be secretly good) or Andy Dalton (at Carolina, whose defense is usually good when healthy).

To make room for the magic man, I once again waived Kenny Stills, after a 3.70-point week.  Bottom line:  Miami’s offense is never going to be explosive enough to want to count on him week-to-week, so it’s all going to be Boom or Bust with this guy and I just don’t need that in my life right now.

Early Wednesday morning, I was up at 3:30am, a few hours after the waiver claims went through, looking to do even more tinkering.  See, this week, Carson Wentz is set to make his triumphant return, so there’s really no need to keep Nick Foles – a fifth quarterback – on the roster (frankly, even 4 QBs is too many, considering how small our benches are).  In looking to boost my skill position depth, I picked up Detroit’s Kenny Golladay, who has been terrific when healthy, and obviously plays for a more explosive offense than Miami’s.  He’s not just a big play, touchdown-dependent receiver; through two weeks he’s averaging over 10 targets per game, and is on a team that should frequently find itself behind and needing to throw their way back into games.  Golladay won’t start for me now, but if he keeps it up, I could see him supplanting Demaryius Thomas sooner or later for my FLEX spot.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz vs. IND
  • QB2 – Ryan FitzMagic vs. PIT
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. SF
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. BUF
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ SEA
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette vs. TEN
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. GB
  • TE – Jordan Reed vs. GB
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas @ BAL
  • K – Robbie Gould @ KC
  • DEF – Chicago @ AZ

My bench is:  Dalton, Carr, Adrian Peterson Fournette, Robert Woods, Golladay, and Greg Olsen.

I like almost all of these matchups.  My only concern with Thielen is that the Vikings will be up so big that they’ll eventually stop throwing the ball, and if Thielen doesn’t get his early and often, it could be a surprisingly quiet day.  Obviously, you never know what’s going to happen – any one of these guys could throw up some duds – but I’ll take my chances with this lineup against just about anybody’s.

It’s nice having Fournette back in the fold, since I don’t love Peterson’s chances against the Packers.  I wouldn’t mind playing either of those backup receivers, as they both figure to be in high-scoring games, but when in doubt, go with the #1 receiver in Thomas.

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE:  the neverending disappointment that is Leonard Fournette’s injury-riddled body reared its ugly head once again.  Even though he was able to practice in a limited capacity all week, the Jags are holding him out yet another game.  My expected points took a pretty significant hit with Peterson not likely to get much of anything going against the Packers (since the Redskins figure to be playing from behind all game and trying to throw their way back into it).  Here’s the real bummer of not having a deeper bench and a bigger stable of backup running backs.  If only I could’ve injected one of my spare wide receivers into this game!

As I noted, I’m going up against the best team in the league through two weeks.  I’m second overall in points and Space Forcin’ has outscored me by 48.81 (to put it in context, I’m closer to the 5th place team in total points than I am to him in first).  His keepers were Mahomes, Rivers, and Kamara (i.e. the three best fucking keepers in the league; i.e. the 2nd, 5th, and 8th best players in our league).  While his bench is pretty suspect, he’s rounded out by some high-ceiling, high-floor players that will make all of our lives a living hell as long as they remain healthy.

It should be pointed out that the guy running Space Forcin’ has had my number in recent seasons; even if his teams suck, he seems to really get it up for kicking my ass.  So, I can love my guys and I can love my matchups until the cows come home, but it’s not going to make me even remotely confident as we head into this week.  In the next section, we’ll talk about how my week went.

***

Week 3 Results

And here we are, a 1-2 record with the second-most points scored in the entire league.  This is my fantasy fucking life.

Here’s what Space Forcin’ looked like, as they thoroughly destroyed me, 192.14 to 166.90:

  • QB1 – Philip Rivers @ LAR
  • QB2 – Patrick Mahomes vs. SF
  • WR1 – JuJu Smith-Schuster @ TB
  • WR2 – Davante Adams @ WAS
  • RB1 – Alvin Kamara @ ATL
  • RB2 – Jordan Howard @ AZ
  • TE – O.J. Howard vs. PIT
  • FLEX – Quincy Enunwa @ CLE
  • K – Will Lutz @ ATL
  • DEF – Philadelphia vs. IND

His worst player was his defense, who still got him 7 points.  His kicker out-scored 6 of my guys, including Carson Wentz, who just couldn’t get it going against Indy.  Getting stuck with Adrian Peterson was actually a blessing in disguise, but I still went into Monday Night down 20 points.  He had two guys going, and all the FitzMagic in the world couldn’t get me over the hump.

Just brutal, all around.  His lineup is as stacked as they come for 2018.  The key for me was always going to be Mahomes feeding the ball to Tyreek Hill, who instead had easily the worst game of his season so far.  On the plus side, maybe Ryan Fitzpatrick is a viable QB2 going forward after all?  We’ll see how the Bucs respond now that Jameis Winston is off of his suspension.

I still like my team, but this shit is getting real frustrating.  I need to bank some early-season wins and instead I keep running into buzzsaws!

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

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

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

It’s all downhill from here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team

That’s the refrain, right?  The most boring thing on the planet is to hear about some guy’s bad beat in fantasy.  Being held captive in conversation with one of these dullards is a fate worse than death.  It’s like that running gag in the movie Airplane!  Even the staunchest of fantasy supporters acknowledge it’s a major faux pas to bring it up in any circle, even among like-minded fantasy obsessives.

Well, I’m going to put that to the test this season.  See, this is my website, and as such I can do whatever I want!  Obviously, people don’t have to read it, and I’m okay with that.  But, I’m always on the lookout for a weekly feature I can write up during the football season, and usually it’s just another pointless NFL Power Rankings based on my own under-informed opinions.  I don’t know how interested I’ll be in continuing that, but I do know I’m interested an awful lot in my own fantasy football teams!

I usually sign up for three leagues.  One is just a random, standard-scoring, 10-team league, full of total strangers where half the league usually drops out after a month.  I don’t care about this team, I just do it for fun and to take a whack at standard scoring.

My main league is one I started back in 2003 on Yahoo.  Some members have come and gone through the years, but we’ve distilled it over time to 9 friends who went to college together, and one of my friends from high school.  This will be the league I write about in this column.

The third league I’m in is a Splinter League I started in 2015, out of frustration with the yearly rules changes in my main league.  See, at some point, we started playing for money (at first it was $20 per person, then it was bumped up to $50, and now I guess it’s $60 for some reason), and my friends demanded we turn the thing into a democracy.  At that point, slowly but surely, fun started getting sucked out of this thing.  NEVERTHELESS, we’ve been doing it for so long (and we’ve since added a trophy to the mix, where every year we add the champion’s name to it) that it’s still a big deal to me.  The last time I won our league was the year right BEFORE we got the trophy; I haven’t really come close since, and every year it eats away at me.

Anyway, I started the Splinter League because I thought fantasy football should be fun again, and the only way it’s fun for me is if I’m in charge of all the rules.  So, I renounced commissionership of my main league, I only run the Splinter League now, it’s a $20 buy-in, and the rules never change.  But, no one wants to hear about my Splinter League, because it’s a low-stakes lark.

The main league is called 4West4Life.  It’s a long story (short:  my college friends and I all lived in the same dorm at the University of Washington; we were in the west building of Mercer Hall, 4th floor; aka Mercer 4-West, hence 4West4Life).  Here’s the gist:

  • 10 teams, head-to-head
  • 6 teams make the playoffs (top 2 seeds get a first round bye)
  • Playoffs are weeks 14-16
  • Bottom 4 teams play in the Consolation Bracket
  • To mitigate tanking, we made the Consolation Bracket count towards the draft order the following year (i.e. the winner of the bracket drafts 1st, 2nd place drafts second, 3rd place drafts 3rd, etc.)
  • The rest of the draft order is determined by reverse-order of the playoffs, with a twist (champion drafts 10th, 2nd place 9th, 3rd place 7th, 4th place 8th, 5th place 5th, 6th place 6th; so if you’re in a loser’s game it’s like you’re in the Consolation Bracket and still want to win that game for a better draft spot)
  • It’s a Keeper League, where we had 2 keepers for the longest time, but just increased to 3 keepers this past offseason
  • It’s a straight draft, just changed from a snake draft this past offseason

And rosters are as follows:

  • 2 Quarterbacks
  • 2 Wide Receivers
  • 2 Running Backs
  • 1 Tight End
  • 1 Flex (WR/RB/TE)
  • 5 Bench Spots
  • 1 IR Spot (new to this season)
  • 1 Kicker
  • 1 Team Defense

I won’t get into all the scoring minutiae, but just know this:  quarterbacks are the most important players in our league, not running backs.  Which, honestly, makes sense, because quarterbacks are the most important players in the real NFL.  If you don’t have a top-notch QB, you’re most likely not going to make the playoffs.  But, since in normal 10-team leagues, it’s easy for all 10 teams to have a quality QB, we opted to make it a 2-QB league to add a little challenge.  Yes, you can go for the best QBs in the league, but the rest of your roster might suffer as teams go after the elite players at other positions.

Also, it’s a PPR league; 1 point per reception.  10 yards per point for rushing & receiving; 20 yards per point for passing.  We do allow for fractional points.  Finally, regardless of whether they’re thrown, caught, or run in, all TDs are worth 6 points.  Everything else is pretty standard down the line, with minor tweaks here and there (INT’s are -4 points, for instance).

Last year, my team was Mr. Poopy Butthole.  I was kicking ass during the regular season, then Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension kicked in (I had him, with Dak Prescott as one of my QBs, and Carson Wentz as my other QB).  The Cowboys fell apart, Nick Foles entered the scene, and I ended up in 4th place in the league, winning my first playoff game, then losing in the semis.

This year, in keeping with the Rick & Morty theme, my team is King Flippy Nips!

Per league rules, the deadline to get your keepers in is a week before the draft.  Our league is drafting on Friday, August 31st, so our keepers are due tonight by midnight.  I guess, if my friends are reading this, they get to learn about my keepers a little early; since I’m a mediocre player at best, I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference.

As my season was winding down last year – and I realized I wasn’t going to win the championship once again – I worked my roster around to try to give me the most keeper opportunities (knowing we’d likely expand to 3 keepers this year, it seemed prudent to think about the future).  Quarterbacks and running backs are the overwhelming majority of players kept in our league (QBs more than RBs), so I set my focus there.

My quarterbacks on roster were:

  • Carson Wentz
  • Dak Prescott
  • Mitch Trubisky
  • Nick Foles

My running backs were:

  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Leonard Fournette
  • Derrick Henry
  • Samaje Perine

And, for good measure, my receivers (and tight ends) were:

  • Keenan Allen
  • Davante Adams
  • Cooper Kupp
  • Delanie Walker
  • Gronk

So, I need to keep 3 guys.  My obvious top 2 no-brainers are Carson Wentz and Ezekiel Elliott.  I’m planning on keeping Wentz until the end of time, because I think he’s going to be great his entire career.  And Elliott is one of probably the top 2 or 3 running backs in the league, so I’ll keep him as long as he’s in his prime.

As for those receivers, I’ll get them out of the way now, because I’m not keeping any of them.  Gronk is great, but I can’t trust him to stay healthy.  Allen might be even better from a fantasy, PPR perspective, but he too is difficult to trust to stay healthy.  I think Adams will have a monster year as the unquestioned #1 target for the Packers, but I have enough lingering doubts to risk him to the draft.  The other two are non-starters.

As for the QBs, Foles ain’t happening.  With Trubisky, I just haven’t heard enough good things about him – either during his rookie season last year, or this off-season – to want to take that risk.  I was leaning hard on keeping Dak, because I made him my top draft pick last season (when I was desperate to get my quarterback situation settled for the long term); I had the #2 overall pick, there weren’t a lot of quality leftover QBs, and Marcus Mariota ended up going #1 overall.  But, the way Dak’s game rolled over and died when Elliott was suspended – combined with the fact that his receiving targets are some of the most mediocre in the entire league – I just don’t think he’s going to be that good.

Let’s face it, if you’re in a keeper league, you have to HIT on your keepers, or you’re fucked.  So, I’m going with the three guys that give me the best chance to succeed in 2018.

I don’t know Washington’s running back situation very well, but they strike me as a team that likes a committee, so Perine is out.  I like Henry an awful lot, and I’ve been waiting and waiting for the Titans to dump DeMarco Murray (or for Murray to get injured); let’s just say many a bench spot has been squandered the last two years waiting for Henry to get his shot with the #1 offense.  With Murray now gone, this looked like prime Henry time!  He’s clearly a stud, it’s an offense that likes to run the ball, so he should be a no-brainer right?  So, why did Tennessee go out and pay a lot of money to Dion Lewis?  Lewis who is another great running back (who, I would argue, is underrated when it comes to being an every-down back) and is sure to eat into a lot of Henry’s carries.  So, that turned me off in a big way; it’s like the team just doesn’t have the confidence in Henry to be a feature back for some reason.

Leonard Fournette is the clear #1 in Jacksonville.  On a great team, with a bad quarterback, looking to grind games out and plow Fournette into the ground.  The main concern is Fournette’s injury history – you know I’ll be freaking out at the first sign of a rolled ankle – but his upside is so great I just can’t say no.

So it’s Wentz, it’s Elliott, and it’s Fournette.

The draft is next week at 6:30pm on Friday, August 31st.  I’ll be meeting up with a bunch of friends with my laptop and we’ll be going to town.  I’ll be drafting 8th in this bastardized straight draft, so wish me luck, because I’m gonna need it.

Next week’s post will have to be after the draft (because I’m not giving away any more of my draft plans), sometime during the Labor Day weekend if I can find a way to get my shit together.