I’m Perfectly Okay With The Seahawks Not Trading For Anyone

There was a lot of news around the NFL yesterday, as some pretty prominent names switched teams.  The Rams got more pass rush help (as if they needed more) in Dante Fowler.  Demaryius Thomas will now disappoint for the Texans instead of the Broncos.  Golden Tate looks to contend for another Super Bowl, this time with the Eagles.  The Packers are apparently sold on their secondary being good-enough, as they gave away a still-productive Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Redskins.

And, I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting, but I don’t care all that much because it doesn’t involve the Seahawks.  All the Seahawks did yesterday was waive Brandon Marshall, who wasn’t really playing a whole lot as it is (and when he did play, he was dropping balls left and right).

I pointed out yesterday (on Twitter) that I didn’t really want the Seahawks to trade for anyone, and someone responded that the Seahawks need Bruce Irvin.  I can see why someone would say that.  Obviously, the Seahawks are well aware of his abilities.  The Raiders are in full-on tank mode, shipping off veterans as they collect high draft picks.  And, what have we been talking about all year as the Seahawks’ most pressing need?  Pass rush!  So, yeah, Bruce Irvin makes a lot of sense.

But, does he?  I honestly haven’t paid him much mind since he went to the Raiders.  What I know from his Seahawks days is that he was drafted to be our LEO defensive end.  He got 8 sacks as a rookie, which is still the most sacks he’s gotten in a season.  By 2015 – his last year in Seattle – Irvin was converted to a SAM linebacker.  Like I said, I don’t know what he’s been up to in Oakland, but if he’s still a SAM, I’ve got news for you:  so is Barkevious Mingo.  Mychal Kendricks can also play that position, and he’s set to return to the Seahawks from his suspension later this season, in week 14.

Okay, so maybe we could’ve just played Irvin at defensive end.  I suppose that’s possible.  He’s still pretty under-sized at 250 pounds, so that hurts us in run defense.  Also, he has yet to really develop into a dominant pass rusher.  As I mentioned, his season high in sacks is still 8.  He’s had 18 total sacks in the last 2.5 seasons with the Raiders, which honestly isn’t all that impressive.  He has 3 sacks in 7 games this year, and I think he’s dealing with nagging injury issues.  Regardless, he’s not exactly filling up the stat sheet with his production.

We know Frank Clark is better than Irvin.  I would argue Dion Jordan is better than Irvin when he’s healthy.  I also like the upside of both Jacob Martin and Rasheem Green and would prefer to see both of those guys gain experience through the second half of this season over someone like Irvin, who has a clear and defined ceiling (which, again, isn’t all that impressive).

Finally, there’s the matter of his contract.  He’s set to earn whatever $8 million is pro-rated over the rest of the season.  He’d be owed $9.25 million for 2019 if we opted to keep him, which isn’t a ton of money, but is probably money we can use to acquire better players in the offseason.  We could cut him after this year without a cap hit, at which point we’d be trading for a half-year rental.  How much would you be willing to give up for something like that?  For me, it wouldn’t be anything over a 6th round pick.  Is that something the Raiders would accept?  I highly doubt it.  See, they too can cut him after this year with no cap hit.  Odds are, if we wanted to bring Irvin back next year, we could sign him in the offseason for a lot less than $9 million, based on his NFL production across 7 seasons.

I’d rather the Seahawks just hang onto our draft picks, all things considered.

Most of all, I’m still a believer that the Seahawks aren’t a championship contender in 2018.  Now, given the way they’ve played the last few weeks, the Seahawks are certainly a lot better than I expected – and a lot closer to being a championship contender than I ever thought possible – but we’re still at least a year or two away from truly contending.  So, save that money to make big splashes in free agency next year, and save those draft picks to continue filling in the rest of the roster with young, hungry talent.  We’re not a Bruce Irvin (or, really, anyone else who would’ve been legitimately available in trade) away from making it back to the Super Bowl this year, so better not to panic and stay the course.

Things are still looking good!  The future looks bright!  Let’s just enjoy the ride as it’s been constructed.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 5

Have I told you how much I fucking HATE fantasy football?  Because, I can’t stress that enough.  I truly – with the fire of a thousand fucking suns – HATE FANTASY FOOTBALL WITH EVERY FUCKING FIBER OF MY BEING!

Who has the second-most points in the league, yet is 1-3 and in 6th place out of 10 teams right now?  Me.  I’m that poor fucking sap.

Who has the MOST points scored against him in the entire league, by 26.87 points?  Me.  I’m that poor fucking sap.

Who would have beaten EVERY SINGLE TEAM IN THE LEAGUE last week (except for the one I went up against)?  Me.  I’m that poor fucking sap.

Counting the list of players he had going who scored less than 10 points would be easier, but I’ve never been one to take the easy way out.  You can click that Week 4 Preview up above to see what his lineup was like.  He did end up swapping out Breida for Kerryon Johnson, but it hardly mattered.  Goff got him 50+, Hopkins & White got him 30+ each, Stafford & Ertz got him 20+ each.  Korky Butchek won 221.40 to 184.83, and remember I didn’t have a tight end going!  The next-closest team in the league had 179.75 and again, I DIDN’T HAVE A TIGHT END GOING!

I’m getting rammed in the ass like you wouldn’t believe.  This is borderline historic bad luck for a fantasy football team.

Speaking of bad luck, Leonard Fournette looks like he could be out another week or two (or more), but regardless he’s not someone I’m ever going to feel confident starting.  That’s one of my three keepers – one of the building blocks of my team – who is giving me nothing.  I still have Adrian Peterson I can throw in there, but he’s like a million years old, so how many more weeks can I count on him being alive?  He’s already a shaky player as it is, because if the Redskins are ever trailing, they stick Chris Thompson in there and throw it to him 20 times a game.  So, if AP doesn’t get me a TD, then I’m DOA.

Once it became clear that Ryan Fitzpatrick had lost his starting job, I dropped him on Sunday afternoon, and picked up the Carolina defense (who was on a BYE in week 4).  They’re going to host the Giants this week (while my precious Bears are on a BYE), so I opted to take the upside of a defense facing Eli Manning, over the likes of the Jets (hosting Denver), the Broncos (going to New York), the 49ers (hosting the Cards), or the Bengals (hosting Miami).

I’ve also officially given up on Demaryius Thomas, after a pathetic game against a hapless Chiefs defense.  He drops too many balls, Case Keenum isn’t very good, and their offense in general is pretty conservative and run-heavy.  My team is too good to have some bust hogging my FLEX spot.

I somehow got up to the 5th spot in our league’s waiver priority, so I went and put a couple claims out for players.  Calvin Ridley was still out there somehow, so I took a shot at him and I landed him!  I couldn’t tell you why Atlanta’s touchdown leader was still out there on the waiver wire, but he’s mine now!  This is a boon for King Flippy Nips!  Calvin Ridley is the type of guy who comes from out of nowhere to win fantasy teams fantasy championships.  The fact that he was available after 4 weeks of play means that many people in my league dropped the ball.  I mean, let’s face it, if the Falcons haven’t figured out how to give Julio Jones the ball in the endzone by now, they’re not going to magically figure it out.  Teams are still going to double that guy, meaning Ridley is going to continue getting friendly matchups in a prolific offense (on a team with a rotten defense).  As long as Ridley stays healthy, I’m golden.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz vs. MIN
  • QB2 – Derek Carr @ LAC
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. JAX
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ PHI
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ HOU
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson @ NO
  • TE – Jordan Reed @ NO
  • FLEX – Calvin Ridley @ PIT
  • K – Robbie Gould vs. AZ
  • DEF – Carolina vs. NYG

My bench is:  Andy Dalton, Fournette, Robert Woods, Kenny Golladay, Chicago, Greg Olsen.

I opted for Carr over Dalton because I figure that game will be much more high scoring; Dalton’s hosting Miami who has a surprisingly good defense.  I don’t love Hill’s matchup against the Jags, but he’s just not a guy I’m going to sit (if I did sit him, I’d probably go with Woods in his spot, because there’s no way the Seahawks will shut down the Rams’ offense).  My favorite matchup is probably Ridley against Pittsburgh; this waiver claim should pay immediate dividends.

I’m going up against Koncussion Protocol, which is apparently a play on someone’s name in our league (yet NOT the owner of the team Koncussion Protocol).  He’s in 4th place with a 2-2 record, yet he has 74.96 fewer points than I do.  Nevertheless, he has a nice little squad that could give me fits if they all blow up at once (which seems to be the trend this year).

I would expect Sunday morning tinkering, but here’s who I would perceive to be the best lineup he’s got to throw at me:

  • QB1 – Drew Brees vs. WAS
  • QB2 – Deshaun Watson vs. DAL
  • WR1 – Golden Tate vs. GB
  • WR2 – Tyler Lockett vs. LAR
  • RB1 – Austin Ekeler vs. OAK
  • RB2 – Jay Ajayi vs. MIN
  • TE – Jared Cook @ LAC
  • FLEX – Nelson Agholor vs. MIN
  • K – Mason Crosby @ DET
  • DEF – L.A. Rams @ SEA

His bench consists of:  Cam Newton, Corey Clement, Dion Lewis, Geronimo Allison, and DeSean Jackson (who is on a BYE this week).  It wouldn’t shock me to see one or more of these guys subbed in there.  He is a Packers fan, so Allison is always a possibility.

Obviously, his running backs are a little weak.  But, I could see the Chargers throwing the ball a ton against the Raiders, and the Vikings defense hasn’t been anything special, so if there was ever a week for Ajayi to bust out, this might as well be it.  Lockett is always going to be boom or bust, and he’s on the Seahawks, so you figure his usage is always going to be random.  Tate and Cook stand out as potential stars this week, and Agholor could throw a wrench into things if Wentz decides to feature him heavily in the pass game.  And, obviously, the Rams are going to get a fistful of sacks and probably a few turnovers, so that’s looking scary.

How much worse can it get for my bad luck team?  We’ll find out soon enough.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 4

This thing is a work in progress to say the least, but I think it makes much more sense to put these posts out in the days leading up to my matchup, rather than write half of it ahead of time, and the rest on the Tuesday after.  Also, keeping a set schedule will make things easier on me, so look for this post every Thursday, with the Week 4 results coming up NEXT Thursday.  This will, if nothing else, make it less confusing to read.

Well, the BYE weeks are upon us, and already my team is affected.  I have one healthy tight end – Jordan Reed – and he’s on a BYE this week.  I have a number of bench players I really like – Kenny Golladay, Robert Woods, Adrian Peterson – and given my less-than-stellar quarterback situation, I feel it’s only prudent to keep everyone I’ve got (Wentz, Carr, Dalton, and Fitzpatrick) and play the best two based on matchups; or, at the very least, get someone of value in return, from one of the handful of teams in the league in desperate need of improvement at their own quarterback positions.  Ergo, I’m pretty committed to just not playing a tight end this week.  Because of all the reasons I just listed, plus I don’t think I’ll be one free agent tight end’s worth of points away from winning this week.  Either the rest of my team will pick up the slack, or I’ll lose so bad that the missing 4-10 points won’t even matter.

((for what it’s worth, here’s a smattering of available tight ends:  Benjamin Watson, Eric Ebron, David Njoku, Austin Hooper, Jesse James, Cameron Brate, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and George Kittle.  None of these guys are even REMOTELY focal points of their respective offensive attacks; they’re all touchdown-dependant fliers who are otherwise worthless because they don’t get NEARLY the amount of targets as the wide receivers on their teams do.  They’re all essentially akin to buying a lottery ticket from the gas station, which is essentially akin to setting my money on fire.  I’d rather not risk losing players of actual value and bite the bullet for one week))

The downside is that I’ll be in this same pickle in a week’s time, because the Bears will be on a BYE in Week 5.  I similarly don’t have a backup defense on my bench, and I REALLY don’t want to drop the #1 defense in our league.  But, we’ll get to that next week.  There are always potential injuries to worry about.

Thankfully, I don’t have Jimmy G in this league (though I do have him on another team, and am scrambling accordingly).  But, an unforeseen affect of his injury is that my kicker – Robbie Gould – isn’t as un-waive-able as he once was.  I wanted to pick up Detroit’s kicker, but someone put a claim in for him.  So, it looks like I’ll stick with Gould for now and just hope the 49ers are able to move the ball based on their head coach’s expertise alone.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz @ TEN
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ ATL
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ DEN
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ LAR
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. DET
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette vs. NYJ
  • TE –
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. KC
  • K – Robbie Gould @ LAC
  • DEF – Chicago vs. TB

My bench is:  Fitzpatrick, Carr, Peterson, Woods, Golladay, Reed, and Olsen.

I opted for Dalton over Fitzpatrick based on matchups.  I never like the idea of putting a quarterback in there against the defense I’m also playing, and I truly believe Chicago’s defense is a monster and could pop the bubble that is FitzMania.  Everything else is pretty self-explanatory.  I will say this:  I’m one more mediocre performance out of Demaryius Thomas away from benching him for either Woods or Golladay (who have been out-playing him all year and really deserve to be starting on an every-week basis).  Considering the Broncos are playing the Chiefs, I expect this game to be high-scoring.  As such, I expect the Broncos will be throwing the ball a lot.  So, if I was ever going to give somebody one final chance, this is the scenario in which to do it.  If Thomas can’t get me 20+ points in this game, then he’s probably not worth holding onto.

My long climb to fantasy relevancy doesn’t get any easier this week, as I go up against Korky Butchek.  He doesn’t have anyone on BYE this week and is stacked at just about every position:

  • QB1 – Jared Goff vs. MIN
  • QB2 – Matthew Stafford @ DAL
  • WR1 – Antonio Brown vs. BAL
  • WR2 – DeAndre Hopkins @ IND
  • RB1 – Alex Collins @ PIT
  • RB2 – James White vs. MIA
  • TE – Zach Ertz @ TEN
  • FLEX – Matt Breida @ LAC
  • K – Stephen Gostkowski vs. MIA
  • DEF – Seattle @ AZ

He’s also got Mike Williams on his bench, as well as T.J. Yeldon (in case Fournette is held out yet ANOTHER week), just in case he wants to swap out his flex or RB2 at the last minute.

I dunno, I don’t feel great.  Wentz’s favorite target is Ertz, so that right there pretty much wipes out my best player.  I should have a pretty good idea of how my week’s looking before we even get to the Sunday afternoon games.  I have Hill and Thomas going on Monday; while he’s got Brown and Collins going Sunday Night.  Either my guys blow their expected points out of the water (right now, Yahoo has me losing approximately 161 to 149), or I predictably shit the bed and start my season 1-3.  The way my year’s going, both of our teams will somehow underperform, yet I’ll still get my ass waxed.

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: Week 2

  • See my Intro to understand what this is all about.
  • See my Draft Recap to learn where my team started.
  • See my Week 1 Recap to get all caught up.

My Rationale Beforehand

Predictably, panic has set in as King Flippy Nips looks to rebound from a heartbreaking week 1 defeat (blowing a 20-point lead because Derek Carr sucks).  The longer I go without winning a game, the more panic moves I’m going to make.

There’s been a little roster shuffling already.  For starters, Yahoo has let me put Greg Olsen in my IR spot, as he figures to be out for a number of weeks.  This freed up a spot which I used to put in a waiver claim on Nick Foles.  At this point, it’s anybody’s guess as to when Carson Wentz comes back, and I can’t rely on Dalton and Carr alone to get me through.  I need quarterbacks I can COUNT on.  Foles and the Eagles are going to Tampa this week and the Bucs’ defense doesn’t impress-ah me much (as Shania Twain might also agree).  After some first week struggles, I fully expect Foles to bounce back, so he’s going right into my starting lineup in place of Derek Carr (who is going to Denver in another impossible defensive matchup).

That leaves my other QB spot with Dalton, playing Thursday Night against the Ravens.  I don’t love it.  I have no data on this, but it feels like Dalton always shits the bed whenever he’s playing in a nationally-televised game (Bengals fans, back me up here!).  I’m trying not to over-react to the Ravens’ defense, as they had a cupcake matchup against the Bills last week, and literally any defense would’ve looked at least almost as good.  I’m sticking with Dalton even though I made another move this week, dropping my beloved sleeper Kenny Stills to pick up Joe Flacco.  Flacco had a great week 1 as well, but again, I’m trying not to over-react to the fact that he played against Buffalo’s defense.  I think Cincy’s defense is a lot better, plus the Bengals are at home.  So, for now, I’ll stash Flacco on my bench (also, not for nothing, but my opponent might’ve been in the market for someone like Flacco, as he only has 2 healthy & active QBs, and Mariota is questionable this week; so preventing my rival from filling his squad is always ideal), and mix-and-match between all my QBs going forward based on matchups until I can settle on two guys I can trust.

For what it’s worth, I have a ton of wide receivers on my roster.  I have to start Tyreek Hill and Adam Thielen every week, and I really like Demaryius Thomas (who will be my FLEX guy for the foreseeable future).  After that, I had two receivers on my bench – Stills and Robert Woods – and I just like Woods a LITTLE bit more (plus he’s on an offense I know is going to be great all year, while I’m still unsure about Miami long term).  So, we’ll see.  I do expect Stills to be picked up by someone, but I think there’s a chance we’ve seen the best out of him already.

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE – No one in my league picked up Stills on waivers, so I grabbed him as a free agent and re-waived Flacco.  The perfect crime!

Anyway, here’s my lineup:

  • QB1 – Andy Dalton vs. BAL
  • QB2 – Nick Foles @ TB
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ PIT
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ GB
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. NYG
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. IND
  • TE – Jordan Reed vs. IND
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. OAK
  • K – Robbie Gould vs. DET
  • DEF – Chicago vs. SEA

My bench consists of Carr, Flacco, Wentz, Woods, Stills, and Leonard Fournette.

The big choice this week was AP over Fournette.  Well, given Peterson’s dominant week 1 performance, combined with the fact that Fournette got injured in last week’s game and didn’t practice all week, sort of made up my mind for me.  Fournette was slated to be a true Game Time Decision, and unfortunately his game started in the afternoon, while AP’s game started in the morning.  So, I had to go with the sure thing and just pray the Jags would give Fournette a week off to rest.  That being said, don’t believe for a minute that I didn’t obsessively check Twitter for any last-second updates on Fournette’s condition.

This week, my opponent is TheGangUnderperforms, which I’m assuming is some sort of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia reference(?), crossed with his usual brand of self-effacing humor.  He’s the 9th place team in our league – having scored the second-fewest points in week 1 – so it sounds like his team’s name is as fitting as they come.  He’s the poor sap in our league who’s stuck with Le’Veon Bell, with the unfortunate kick in the crotch that he failed to draft James Conner (even though, in real life, he’s a big Steelers fan and should’ve known better).  I should also point out, before week 1, I offered him a trade of Adrian Peterson and Robert Woods for Bell (who made it known he wasn’t going to come back to the team in time for the game) and he shot me down!  It must be his immense pride that has prevented him from crawling back to me asking for a re-do on that decision.  When will Bell return to the Steelers?  Maybe never!  And here I’ll be, reaping the rewards of a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson (with the security blanket of a Robert Woods on my bench for potential BYE week & injury fill-ins).

In spite of some injuries and depth issues on his bench, TheGangUnderperforms still has a pretty talented squad that is FULLY capable of wiping the floor with my ass.  In the next section, we’ll get to the results.

***

Week 2 Results

The week got off to a tremendous start!  Andy Dalton is a wonderland!  He nearly doubled the points of Flacco and absolutely doubled his projected point total.  On top of that, my opponent’s kicker – Justin Tucker – only managed 7 points, three below expected.  I started the week a coin flip, and after Thursday I was a 65% favorite heading into the weekend.

TheGangUnderperforms’ lineup looked like this:

  • QB1 – Ben Roethlisberger vs. KC
  • QB2 – Marcus Mariota vs. HOU
  • WR1 – Julio Jones vs. CAR
  • WR2 – Larry Fitzgerald @ LAR
  • RB1 – Kareem Hunt @ PIT
  • RB2 – Jamaal Williams vs. MIN
  • TE – Gronk @ JAX
  • FLEX – Emmanuel Sanders vs. OAK
  • K – Justin Tucker @ CIN
  • DEF – N.Y. Jets vs. MIN

It looked marginally dicey early when Ben Roethlisberger threw non-stop on a pathetic Chiefs defense; fortunately I was saved because Mariota didn’t play and my opponent didn’t have any room for any other QBs on his roster (aside from the rookies he has on his bench who aren’t starting yet, and Jameis Winston, who’s still suspended).  Nevertheless, Roethlisberger scored enough points to cover both QB spots, as he pushed 50 on the day.

TheGangUnderperforms didn’t have any help anywhere else though.  Gronk and Fitzgerald had bad days, Julio stayed true to the team name and underperformed, and everyone else was just sort of average.

My team, meanwhile, did even better than the week before!

Foles and Carr were about the same, so that didn’t bite me in the ass as both had around 20.  My receivers – Thielen and Hill – absolutely torched the competition once again, for a combined 50+ points.  My kicker doubled his kicker; my Chicago defense had a field day; Zeke had a solid game.  And, while AP, Demaryius, and Reed didn’t impress, they also gave me SOMETHING, in the range of 6-10 points.

All told, it was a 194.59 – 130.90 drubbing!

I’m currently in 3rd place with a 1-1 record, though I have the second-most points in the league behind the guy who kept Mahomes, Rivers, and Kamara (clearly getting more out of his keepers than anyone else in the league).  As chance would have it, I have to go up against that juggernaut this very upcoming week.  Luckily, it looks like I get Carson Wentz back, as well as (hopefully) Leonard Fournette.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 1

See my Intro to understand what this is all about.

See my Draft Recap to see where we are heading into the first week of the season.

I’ll be the first to admit I obsess WAY TOO MUCH about fantasy football.  Thinking about my roster, listening to podcasts, reading articles, pouring over the rankings of other people, scouring the waiver wire for potential pick-ups, conjuring trades to try and swindle my friends out of their elite players.  My productivity in general takes a HUGE hit during the football season for those reasons and many others, but I’m no more insane than I am in the lead-up to Week 1.

It’s no more or less important than any other regular season week, but it FEELS like the most important game of the season.  At the same time, I’ve been trying my best in recent years not to tinker too much with my roster before I’ve actually had a chance to see these guys play.  I mean, if I liked these guys enough to draft them a week ago, why am I sitting here second-guessing myself before they’ve done anything to convince me they’re no good?

Last year, I think I managed to go all the way through the first week before making a roster change; this year I wasn’t as strong.  But, I feel I had a good reason:  the Bears made a huge trade for Khalil Mack over the weekend – the day AFTER I drafted Baltimore’s defense – so I used my relatively high waiver priority (3rd in the league) to swap defenses.

My draft strategy this year was simple:  wait until the very last minute to draft a defense.  There are a few you have to feel good about – the Rams, the Jags, the Vikings, maybe the Eagles – but a lot of the time, defense is about matchups.  Likewise, there are countless stories of defenses that came out of nowhere to lead the fantasy league in points, just as there are countless stories of supposedly-elite defenses succumbing to age or injury or simple over-rating.  Why get caught up in the fervor of taking one of the top pre-season defenses early in the draft when you can get one pretty close to just as good at the end of the draft or on waivers after the first week.  So, in this league, I picked up the Ravens’ defense, because they’re going up against Buffalo in Week 1, and that felt like a good one to stream against until some other team popped out as one to go with from Week 2 onward (or, if I got lucky, and the Ravens’ defense was really good in general – and not just against the Bills – then I just got them in the next-to-last round while the suckers in my league wasted precious earlier draft picks on the same quality).

The thing is, even heading into the draft, I liked Chicago’s defense as a possible sleeper.  I think Vic Fangio is an excellent defensive coordinator – on a tier just below Wade Phillips – and I seemed to remember them really going hard after young talent in the draft on this side of the ball.  They seemed poised like a breakout candidate BEFORE trading for Mack; now that they have him, and his sack potential, I like the Bears enough to make them my ONLY defense.

Also, not for nothing, but I like my bench players an awful lot (heading into Week 1, my bench includes:  Greg Olsen, Carson Wentz, Robert Woods, Adrian Peterson, and Kenny Stills).  I don’t want to drop ANY of those guys at the moment, as I feel like they could all play important roles on my team this year.  If I did have to drop someone, it would likely be one of those two receivers, so seeing how they both look in the first week is going to be critical in my line of thinking going forward (gun to my head:  I’d probably choose Woods over Stills, as I like the Rams’ offense more than Miami’s; but Stills could end up as the Dolphins’ best receiver this year, while the Rams have a lot of guys who will divide Goff’s attention).

Anyway, how I plan to do this is I’m going to write up my thought process heading into the week ahead of time, that way my rationale won’t be tainted by events that already happened.  You’re going to know exactly what I’m thinking heading into this week, because I’m writing it before the games start.  Then, I’m going to write a section after the fact, letting you know how my week went.  So, without further ado:

My Rationale Beforehand

Here’s my roster for Week 1:

  • QB1 – Derek Carr vs. LAR
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ IND
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ LAC
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. SF
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ CAR
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette @ NYG
  • TE – Jordan Reed @ AZ
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. SEA
  • K – Robbie Gould @ MIN
  • DEF – Chicago @ GB

Obviously, if Wentz was healthy, he’d be my QB1 and I’d probably end up sitting Carr this week.  On waivers, the available QBs (at the time of this writing) are Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and both Bills quarterbacks.  Of those guys, I might marginally prefer Taylor to Carr based on matchups (I could see Carr getting in trouble against that Rams defense, while Taylor is always careful with the football and the Steelers don’t really pose much of a threat to make his life miserable), but not enough to make a roster change.  I have a lot riding on Carr this year, based on the fact that I drafted him so high and because I believe the Raiders will be throwing a lot, so I kinda need him to work out for me early in the season.

I don’t have a lot to say about my starting WRs and RBs; they seem pretty self-explanatory.  I will say that I’m pretty confident about my FLEX guy as well, as I think Thomas could have a field day against this Seahawks defense.  For what it’s worth, I like Emmanuel Sanders a lot this year, but not particularly in this game.  The Broncos tend to move Thomas around quite a bit, and honestly I don’t see him going to Griffin’s side as much as Sanders.  I don’t think they play Thomas in the slot very much, so that negates Justin Coleman’s impact.  If I’m right, and Thomas is lining up opposite of Griffin’s side on the other end, I think 150 yards and a TD or two is well within his capabilities.  If I wasn’t playing Thomas, I would’ve gone with AP, but I’d like to take a wait-and-see approach with the veteran running back before I commit to giving him regular time in my fantasy lineup.

My biggest sticking point is in my TE spot, where I’ve already waffled once and it wouldn’t shock me if I waffled again.

Here’s the deal:  I drafted Olsen in the 8th round.  As I noted previously, I didn’t intend to use that high of a pick on a tight end this year, seemingly content with taking the leftover scraps.  But, Olsen was sitting there, and I would’ve felt like a fool if I’d let him drop any further.  He’s obviously a tremendous talent, both in fantasy and in real life, and in a usual circumstance, I’d be happy to start him against the Cowboys.  But, then in the 12th round, Jordan Reed was sitting there.  He’s got Alex Smith throwing to him.  He’s in an offense that utilizes the tight end to a great extent even before Alex Smith got there.  And, it’s week 1.  He’s healthy!  He’s probably as healthy as he’s ever going to be.  Indeed, I wouldn’t be shocked if this was the last chance I got to start him, that’s how fragile he is!  He’s going up against the Cardinals, which feels like a juicy matchup, and they’re on the road, so I expect the Redskins will need to throw the ball more than they would if they were at home and more likely to be sitting on a lead in the 4th quarter.  Ultimately, I feel like there’s better touchdown potential for someone like Reed over someone like Olsen, factoring in everything around both players.  The Panthers just have more weapons on offense, and I don’t believe Cam will be as inclined to look for his TE in the red zone as Smith will be.  We’ll see; I have a feeling I’m going to regret whatever I do here.

Also, thinking long term, I fucked up when I took Reed, because both players have Week 4 byes, which means if they both stay healthy between now and then, I either have to drop a really productive guy, or I’ll have to roster a third tight end for a week (or I guess I could take a 0 at that spot for one game, but that seems idiotic that early in the season).

Anyway, that’s that.  Below, read about how my fantasy week went.

***

Week 1 Results

Well, I didn’t want to believe it, but Derek Carr fucked me ALREADY!

I had a 20-point lead heading into Monday Night.  I had Carr left to go; usually, when you’re winning and you have a quarterback still to play, you’re in pretty excellent shape.  I want to say I was an 80% favorite heading into the night.  My opponent, Crazy N8’s Prostates, had Marvin Jones and the Rams’ kicker.  It was a lock, right?

Not so fucking fast.

If Carr had just thrown a single TD, I would’ve won.  If he’d just thrown TWO interceptions – instead of three – I would’ve won.  If Legatron had just missed one of those field goals (he ended up with 17 points in total), I would’ve won.  Instead, I’m a 3-point loser and everything is meaningless.

For a while there, I was looking like a genius with the Bears defense.  I also looked like a fucking boner, because remember how I had to drop Baltimore’s defense to pick up the Bears?  Well, not only did they go off (to the tune of 31 points in our league, way over their expected 17.12), but they went off FOR MY OPPONENT (who picked them up and played them against me!).  At one time, with Aaron Rodgers out of the game, the Bears had 35 points, but then the Packers started scoring, so that total fell to 20 (still well above the expected 9.06 Yahoo projected).

My big decision of Jordan Reed over Greg Olsen ended up panning out somewhat, with Olsen being the one to leave his game with an injury.  Reed beat Olsen by 9.5 points, so bully for me.

That Fournette injury is obviously a concern.  He was on his way to a monster day, but I guess his injury woes aren’t behind him.  Now, every time I have him in my lineup, I have to wonder if he’s going to get me 30 points or 3 points.  As long as Adrian Peterson is healthy – and in a plus matchup – I really have to consider putting him in there more often.

Demaryius Thomas acquitted himself well as my FLEX guy.  Predictably, the Seahawks’ defense posed little threat.  The bigger threat is Keenum’s rapport with Emmanuel Sanders, who went OFF in that game.  Still, my value pick is looking solid so far.

My biggest shining star was Tyreek Hill, who blew up to the tune of 46.10 points this week (he led all non-Fitzmagic players in my league).  He almost pulled my ass out of the fire, but you just can’t overcome a 3-point week out of your top available QB.

Crazy N8’s Prostates’ lineup looked like this:

  • QB1 – Kirk Cousins vs. SF
  • QB2 – Alex Smith @ AZ
  • WR1 – ODB vs. JAX
  • WR2 – Keenan Allen vs. KC
  • RB1 – Shady McCoy @ BAL
  • RB2 – David Johnson vs. WAS
  • TE – Travis Kelce @ LAC
  • FLEX – Marvin Jones vs. NYJ
  • K – Greg Zuerlein @ OAK
  • DEF – Baltimore vs. BUF

I ended up being the highest scorer of all the losers and had the third-highest points in the league this week.  Pretty sad state of affairs, all things considered.  Carson Wentz can’t come back soon enough.  Starting to think about picking up Fitzpatrick.  Things are looking bleak already!

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?

Why I’m Still Freaking The Fudge Out About Super Bowl XLIX

Yesterday’s post was a little grim, huh?  Made things seem a little hopeless?  Well, it’s not ENTIRELY doom and gloom.  My first big prediction for this game is that it’s going to be close.  The Patriots aren’t going to blow us out, because we don’t GET blown out.  Same thing in reverse.  We won’t blow them out because they don’t get blown out in Super Bowls.  You’re not going to give that team two weeks to prepare and watch them lay the kind of egg Denver laid last year.  So, gird your loins for an up and down battle, and a hot finish in the end.  It will come down to the final possession, and it’s just a matter of catching a break here and there to see us come out on top.

New England has two pretty big things in their favor, in that I don’t think the Seahawks are going to be particularly effective in the pass rushing department, and I don’t think we’re going to be able to throw the ball well on them.  That in and of itself leads me to believe we could be playing from behind when we dig down into the second half.  We don’t want that.  It’s not something entirely alien to this team, but still, it’s never ideal.

Like I said, the Pats have a couple big advantages, but the Seahawks have a lot of smaller advantages that could possibly add up to enough to push us over the edge.

For starters, you can almost chisel it in stone:  Russell Wilson won’t be NEARLY as terrible as he was against Green Bay.  The weather alone is enough to ensure that, but more importantly, Wilson hasn’t suddenly forgotten how to take care of the football.  I think as a whole, our team is better than theirs at protecting the rock.  In this game, a turnover here or there could make all the difference.

As I alluded to before, I think we have an advantage in the passing game when it concerns their linebackers in coverage.  Maybe that means Luke Willson on a seam route.  Maybe that means Marshawn Lynch on a wheel route.  Maybe it’s even Moeaki on a drag route.  SOMETHING.

Sticking with the passing game, I think they can be beaten deep.  I don’t really trust their safeties.  If we can work over their corners a play here and a play there on a double- move or something, I think it could be effective.  I’m not saying we’ll be chucking bombs all day long.  But, here and there, maybe two or three deep throws.  Darrelle Revis ISN’T perfect.

I also don’t necessarily see penalties being a problem.  Aside from the usual false starts and/or offsides we get every single game.  But, I’m talking more in the pass defense realm.  I could easily see their DBs get called for more flags than our DBs.

Obviously, the Seahawks have a GREAT advantage in the secondary, as we do every single game.  Importantly in this one is the Patriots really DON’T have an elite wide receiver.  There’s no T.Y. Hilton or Demaryius Thomas to worry about.  Edelman is about as good as it gets, but he’s just a shifty slot guy who I think we’ll be able to contain just fine.

We’ve also got elite linebackers in coverage.  Gronk will get his, but I sincerely doubt he goes off for a huge day.  Maybe a backup tight end or fullback or something will catch a pass here or there, but they’re not going to do serious damage.  If we execute the way we’re supposed to execute, we should be just fine holding down their passing attack, even without a pass rush.

Don’t discount the fact that we’ve had two weeks off.  I know they’ve had the same two weeks, but I think it helps us more.  We’ve got some DOGS on this team.  Our speed and athleticism is unrivaled in the NFL.  Especially on defense.  Giving this team two weeks to rest up and heal will put a bounce in our steps like it does every time we’re coming off of a BYE week.  It’s the one thing that gives me hope with our pass rush.  We looked pretty good against Carolina, even though we didn’t crush Cam Newton like I’d hoped.  Part of that is simply Cam’s ability to elude.  Tom Brady doesn’t really have that ability, not how Cam does.  I could see Bennett being a dominating force and really make a name for himself, as long as the rest of our linemen are doing their jobs.

I don’t consider New England’s running game much of a threat.  If they do somehow find a way to gash us on the reg, I think we’re proper fucked.  But, I doubt it’ll be an issue.  Like I’ve said before, I don’t see them completely abandoning the run like they did in the second half of that Baltimore game, but I also don’t see them getting anywhere NEAR the type of production they got against the Colts.

All of those things may or may not be enough to add up to a Seahawks victory, but I’ll tell you something you already know:  this game hinges ENTIRELY on how well the Seahawks are able to run.

The Patriots at times have struggled against the run, but at times they’ve also been pretty good.  Obviously, they’ve got Vince Wilfork who’s about as close to an every-down defensive tackle as it gets in the NFL.  He’s a future hall of famer and he could pose a huge problem with our relatively undersized defensive line.  Likewise, they’ve got ex-Seahawk Sealver Siliga, who’s not the greatest, but he’s another big widebody they use to clog running lanes.  If they opt to go jumbo and sell out against the run, it could be a long day.

But, even with those guys, it’s not impossible.  The Ravens had a field day running the ball three weeks ago against them.  The Ravens run a similar style of zone blocking scheme as we do.  Obviously, we’ve got probably the best running back in football.  We are who we are and just because they’ve got some big dudes on defense, it isn’t going to stop us from enforcing our will.

My biggest fear out of all of this is:  I just don’t want to read about Tom Brady being the “Greatest Quarterback of All Time” because he won his fourth Super Bowl.  Can we NOT be the ones that “settles” that discussion?  I don’t want to go to ESPN.com and have that story shoved in my face for the next nine months rest of my life.

The Patriots can be beaten.  And we’re the team to do it.  Because, even though we’re not as good as we were last year, we’re still the best team in the NFL.  We just need to go out, play a relatively clean game, and make the plays when they’re presented to us.

It’s been said quite a bit that the Top Defense always beats the Top Offense.  This is our chance to prove it once and for all.  To have beaten Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in back-to-back years would be a feat no defense has EVER accomplished.  If we want to be considered among the all-time greats, this has to be done.  Now.  Not next year.  Not later on in the twilight of Brady’s career.  Right now.  Right when he’s still sort of in his prime and it can be considered a monumental achievement to beat the best at his best.

Everything that there’s to say has been said.  I’ve got Seahawks 26, Patriots 23.  Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go throw up for two straight days.

Who You Need To Watch Out For On The Denver Broncos

Look, we all know the stars of the Broncos offense.  It goes without saying that they’re great.  But, that’s not really what I find interesting right now.  So, instead, I’m going to start with Denver’s defense.

If you’re worried about the Seahawks scoring on offense, don’t be.  We’re going to get ours.  This defense is not very good.  Nevertheless, they’ve got some good pieces out there that we should be aware of.

The Broncos are actually tied with the Seahawks in rush defense, at 101.6 yards per game.  Of course, it’s easy to sort of dismiss them as a defense that’s always playing with a significant lead, and therefore is seeing the other team pass more than they run.  But, the Broncos are up there on yards per attempt too (in the top 10, as is Seattle), so consider them legitimately good at holding off the run.

Just as the Seahawks’ defense poses a challenge to Denver’s biggest offensive strength (passing), Denver’s defense does the same thing to Seattle’s biggest offensive strength (rushing).

Players like Terrance Knighton are getting a lot of press right now, for good reason.  He’s their big, beefy defensive tackle (wears #94) who clogs up the middle, making it nearly impossible to run up the gut.  He’s flanked by guys on that line who, I’m sure, are solid if unspectacular.  You don’t really need to be all that amazing when you’ve got someone like Knighton in the middle.

In the linebacking corps, I really like Danny Trevathan (#59), but I’ve read conflicting reports saying that he’s overrated and not very good.  I’m reading into that that he makes a lot of aggressive mistakes.  He may flash and sizzle on one play, then totally bungle his assignment the next.

You can say that’s a trend for these Broncos.  Duke Ihenacho (#33) is their safety.  He’s a hard hitter, but he’s not very smart, and will fall for the play-action fake like nobody I’ve ever seen.  There are chunk yardage plays available in this game, and Ihenacho is a big reason why.

With Von Miller out, I’m not super-worried about Denver’s pass rush.  Shaun Phillips (#90) is a 10-year vet and the only player with double-digit sacks, but he only has 10.0, so it’s not like he’s this dominant force.  I think, without Miller, Phillips is going to see the lion’s share of the attention on the offensive line and will most likely be neutralized.

Miller isn’t the only injury casualty, as Chris Harris – arguably their best cornerback – is also on the IR.  That leaves Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (#45), who is okay but a little overrated, the aging Quentin Jammer (#23) and the even MORE aging Champ Bailey (#24), who at 12 and 15 years of experience respectively, are mere shells of their former selves.

There are passing yards to be had.  If I’m the Seahawks, I’m going right to the play-action pass early and often.  Hopefully, in time, it’ll open up the run for us and let us lean on them late in the game.  Everyone says the best defense against a Peyton Manning-led offense is to control time of possession and keep him off the field.  To Hell with that!  Let them worry about time of possession, we should look to get our points any way we can.  In this game, I contend they will come in the deep passing game.

On offense, what can you say?  Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks of all time.  This year, at age 37, he threw for the most yards and most touchdowns in NFL history for a single season.  He completes over 68% of his passes, which mitigates his arm strength issues.  Being super-accurate in the short and moderate passing game is enough to compensate for not taking as many shots deep down field.

And weapons?  Hoo boy, does he have weapons.  Demaryius Thomas (#88) is one of the top five receivers in football.  Statswise, anyway.  It’s tough to say how much of that is due to the offensive set-up and having Peyton Manning as your quarterback vs., say, Brandon Weeden.  But, either way, he’s a concern. 

Also a concern:  Eric Decker (#87).  This offense tends to spread out the big receiving days pretty evenly, but you could tell that Decker’s production improved immensely as the season wore on (and defenses made Demaryius Thomas their top priority).  Decker actually reminds me of Doug Baldwin quite a bit.  He will catch the deep balls, he will catch those insane sideline passes, and he’s Manning’s security blanket on third down.  You want to stop this Denver offense?  Blanket Decker on third down.

Finally, of course, there’s Wes Welker (#83).  He’s clearly on the downside of his career (you won’t see any more 100-reception seasons out of Welker going forward), and from the looks of things, his numbers diminished greatly over the second half of the season (maybe due to his being used to take too many cheap shots on crossing patterns against helpless defenders?), but he’s still another quality receiver for this team.  He’s also a guy you’ve got to watch on third down, and oddly enough in the red zone.  Welker gets a surprising amount of touchdowns for a guy his size, because he’s so small, he can easily find the open zone in the defense and wiggle his way into the endzone.

Just when you think I’m finished talking about the offensive weapons at Manning’s disposal, I have to remind you of their #1 pass-catching tight end, Julius Thomas (#80).  For fantasy purposes, he’s one of the top five tight ends in the game, and yet another guy you have to be aware of in the red zone.  I like our chances here, because we’ve shut down Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis – who are at least on-par, talent-wise, with Thomas, if not better than – but that doesn’t mean you can just ignore him, or he’ll kill you.

Before we get to the running game, I should point out that their top running back, Knowshon Moreno (#27) is an elite pass-catcher out of the backfield.  He caught 60 balls for nearly 550 yards, so be aware of the screen pass and the checkdown.  I think, in this game, you’ll see A LOT of checkdowns.  It’s only natural, our secondary is just that good.  So, we need need NEED to make sure we have a linebacker on Moreno at all times.

As far as running the football is concerned, the Broncos are better than you’d expect.  They’re in the top half in the NFL (averaging 117 yards per game), and Manning isn’t afraid to go with a run-heavy game-plan if that’s what the defense is giving him.

Like I said before, Moreno is their lead back.  Like the Seahawks, they will run him out of the shotgun quite a bit.  Once thought to be a bust-in-the-making, Moreno has broken out as one of the more consistent backs in football.  He only averages 4.3 yards per carry, but when you’re talking about a passing game that averages 8.3 yards per attempt, it’s not like you need Adrian Peterson to be effective.  Montee Ball (#28) is their change-of-pace, bruising running back.  He will poach his fair share of touchdowns near the goalline, but this team is not afraid to let Moreno take it to the house from short yardage either.  It seems to be random, at the whim of the head coach, who gets carries and when.

If I’m scared of anything, it’s this running attack.  Peyton Manning will get his yards.  If we can keep him away from getting anywhere near the 400-yard mark, I think we’ll be fine.  But, if this running game picks up yards in healthy chunks and gives Manning a bunch of 2nd & shorts and 3rd and shorts, then it’s going to be a long game.  At that point, we’ll have to hope to hold them to field goals instead of touchdowns.

Speaking of which, Matt Prater, their kicker, is pretty solid.  Of course, he’s better in the thin air of Denver’s used-to-be-Mile High Stadium, but he’s no slouch and can hit it from 50 in any stadium in America.  With the weather being as cold as it is, I wouldn’t expect too many 50-yarders to be attempted (by either team), but if you’re looking for a weakness, the field goal game isn’t it.

Special teams, however, might be another matter.  Denver, for playing half its games in that aforementioned thin air, doesn’t generate as many touchbacks as you’d expect.  And, as stated above, we’re not in Denver anymore; this air will be thick and freezing.  With Percy Harvin expected to be back and healthy (and returning kicks), our return game could be quite the catalyst.  Regardless of whether you believe in “momentum” or not, getting an awesome kick return immediately after the other team scores is quite the let-down for that team.  Look for Denver to frequently be disappointed after they’ve put points on the board.

Anyway, that’s my take on some of the players you should watch out for.  Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at what we can expect from Denver’s offense.

Always Never A Doubt In My Mind

At one point in this game, Russell Wilson had scrambled his way into an opening-play fumble (recovered by the 49ers), LaMichael James had muffed a punt (recovered by the 49ers), and Colin Kaepernick had the ball stripped on a sack (recovered by a 49ers lineman, ran for 6 yards).  That final piece of lunacy saved a touchdown drive and gave the 49ers a 17-10 lead, and it left Seahawks fans wondering if the football gods were EVER going to smile down upon us.

Ask anyone who knows anything, and they’ll tell you that going 0 for 3 on fumble recoveries is pretty fucking rare.  A fumble is generally a 50/50 proposition, and if the Seahawks went down because of this stat, you’d call it one of the unluckiest breaks in football.  Of course, one game is pretty much as small of a sample size as you could get; nevertheless, I couldn’t help but believe that this streak couldn’t continue FOREVER.  There would HAVE to be fumbles forthcoming that would bounce our way.

Sure enough, from that point in the third quarter where the 49ers went back up by a touchdown, the Seahawks caught all the breaks.  Colin Kaepernick was strip-sacked by Avril (recovered by Michael Bennett).  A fumble by Jermaine Kearse at the goalline that was recovered by Marshawn Lynch at the 1.  And, on the very next play, a Russell Wilson/Marshawn Lynch fumbled exchange on 4th & Goal from the 1 yard line (recovered by Michael Robinson, which doesn’t sound so great, because we failed to score the touchdown or even keep the 49ers pinned back inside the one yard line, but if you look at it again, you’ll see a ton of 49ers players around that football, with a clear opportunity to return that thing for a 99-yard touchdown).  Kaepernick was intercepted by Kam (which wasn’t a lucky break, per se, but it was a turnover).  Another Russell Wilson fumble on a busted play (recovered by Wilson, resulting in an offensive pass interference penalty).  And finally, the game-ending interception on the tip from Sherman to Malcolm Smith.

To be honest with you, I don’t know how to feel about a game that hinged so deeply upon luck.  There’s the obvious turnover issues I described above, there were referee issues (some iffy penalties, some iffier non-calls, and that fumble recovery that couldn’t be reviewed, which ended up not really mattering anyway), there were injury issues (I don’t know if we’ll ever know the impact of the 49ers losing their best offensive guard and their best linebacker in Iupati and Bowman respectively), and there was the play of the game.

To set it up, the Seahawks pulled to within 17-13 on a Hauschka field goal.  We forced a 3 & out thanks to the refs missing what probably should have been roughing the punter.  We got the ball at our own 38 yard line, and we drove to the San Francisco 34 yard line, with 2nd down and 6 coming up.  Russell Wilson was called for a clear Intentional Grounding, which put us back to the 50 yard line, for a 3rd down and 22 to go.  This is the nightmare scenario, but to our credit, we called something reasonable.  A nice little pass to Zach Miller out on the flat, who rumbled for 15 yards to the San Francisco 35 yard line.  At this point, it was 4th and 7.  Maybe within the range of Hauschka, but not really something you feel comfortable about in this situation.  It was the beginning of the fourth quarter, and the Seahawks very nearly decided to kick it, but ultimately burned a timeout.  Had we lost this game because we were short on timeouts, I’m sure everyone would have pointed to this situation.  As it stood, that timeout was probably the smartest decision we made all game.

We put the offense back out on the field to pick up the seven yards.  Russell Wilson nailed the hard count, which got the 49ers to go offsides.  To their credit, the refs didn’t whistle the play dead (for the record, in a similiar situation this season, the refs blew the play dead and cost us an opportunity to make a huge play).  All the receivers broke off of their intended routes and ran for the endzone.  Wilson made the perfect throw, and Jermaine Kearse came down with an amazing catch.

How does luck come into it?  Well, if that throw is offline, or if the 49ers defender makes a better play on the ball, and it falls incomplete, then we’re looking at 4th and 2 from the 30 yard line.  At that point, I don’t think there’s any question that the Seahawks go for the field goal, to pull within 17-16.  And who KNOWS how the game turns from there!  What if Hauschka misses the 47 yarder?  Of course, he would go on later to make a 47 yarder, but Hauschka was on record – after the game – as saying that he really didn’t want to kick that field goal when it was going to be a 52 yarder.  What if, in his shaken state, Hauschka pulls that one?  Then, the 49ers would get great field position, and most importantly, we’d get no points.  Even if we assume he would make it, that still would have left us down a point with a quarter left to go.  That touchdown was the difference between the 49ers ultimately needing a touchdown to win the game vs. needing a field goal to win the game.  If that’s the case, I don’t think there’s any doubt we’re sitting here today lamenting the fact that the 49ers are playing for the championship.

Just a wild, crazy game.  Here are some other observations:

Russell Wilson was REALLY driving me crazy in that first half.  I understand that you’ve got to take the good with the bad with a guy like Wilson, and it really COULD be worse.  I’m not sitting here wishing that we had some gunslinger like Tony Romo who would ultimately cost us more in big games than he’d help us.  But, it really looked like Wilson was playing tentative yesterday.  Holding the ball too long, looking to scramble out of the pocket (which couldn’t have been worse, because more often than not – with our linemen pushing their ends outside and around the pocket in a circle – he was just running himself INTO pressure) when he should have just stepped up and made a throw (especially when he’s got Golden Tate streaking downfield with single-coverage).

Of course, Wilson ended up having enough in him to lead us to victory, so it’s not like I can complain too hard.  And, if he leads us to a Super Bowl victory, it’s going to be hard for me to EVER badmouth the man again.

Good God, do we need someone better to spy Colin Kaepernick on the run!  It struck me that Bruce Irvin probably would have been perfect, but it didn’t look like we used him all that much in this game.  He seriously whiffed on one play, where he bit on the play fake and let Kaep run around him for a huge gain; but, if Irvin’s sole job was to simply follow the quarterback wherever he went, I think Irvin’s speed could have neutralized him.

Marshawn Lynch had another huge game, going for 109 yards on the ground and a touchdown.  This was the first time anyone had run for over 100 yards on the 49ers this year, and for a minute it looked like one of the rare times that the Seahawks would lose a game where Lynch went over 100 yards.  That fumble at the goalline wasn’t even his fault, so I’m glad they didn’t put that on him in the scorebook.

Doug Baldwin, as always, was a revelation.  One of these days, he’s going to get the respect he deserves, but for now, let the doubters keep doubting him.  He’ll just keep making them look stupid.  With 6 catches for 106 yards, it looked like he was going to be the MVP of the game.  He still might be, especially when you consider his 69 yard kickoff return ultimately led to a field goal (and probably should have been a touchdown drive, if our offense wasn’t still sputtering so frustratingly.

Finally, what can you say about a defense that’s the best in the game.  From the first play, where we were placed at a disadvantage thanks to the Wilson fumble, this defense showed up and put in their usual outstanding work.  Bobby Wagner led all tacklers with 15, and Kam Chancellor wasn’t far behind with 11.  Kam also came down with that interception (on just an AWFUL pass by Kaepernick) and had another two passes defended.  Our D-Line wasn’t able to get as much pressure as you’d like, but I thought they played a lot smarter in the second half, not letting Kaepernick just immediately have the edge to run.  Even though we were playing so safe, Bennett and Avril were still able to wreak some havoc.  And the run defense?  Aside from Kaepernick (who got most of his rushing yards on scrambles when a pass play broke down), this part of their game was completely shut down.  Frank Gore finally started looking his age, running for 14 yards on 11 attempts.

I don’t really know what the next-day narrative is going to be today (aside from Everything Richard Sherman, which I will write about tomorrow), but I have the feeling that Colin Kaepernick is going to get a lot of love from the national media.  This is a mistake.

Yes, it’s quite the breathtaking thing to see Colin Kaepernick with the football, running in the open field.  Dodging tacklers, graceful as a gazelle, he’s a weapon unlike any other in the game of football.  If he didn’t have all that, you know what he’d be?  Without the ability to run for dozens upon dozens of yards, Colin Kaepernick would be Jeff George:  a rocket arm attached to a mental midget.

When he’s on, he’s something to behold.  That touchdown pass to Boldin in the back of the endzone from 26 yards out was as good as it gets.  Nevertheless, it was a STUPID decision and the ball was very nearly tipped or picked off entirely.  Then, there’s that aforementioned interception to Kam.  He was standing RIGHT THERE the whole time!  There was no deception out of Kam to bait him; Kaepernick saw him the whole time and still threw the damn pass right to him!  He said he thought he could get it over Kam … but Kam’s 6’3!  There were his two fumbles, which resulted from him trying to do too much with a play (which I can’t really fault him for, unless I feel like jumping down Wilson’s throat every time he does something annoying like that).  And, of course, the game-clinching interception when he challenged Richard Sherman with less than 30 seconds to go in the game.

He said he’d take Michael Crabtree in a 1-on-1 matchup with anyone in the league.  He said he wouldn’t change a thing about his decision-making process.  Did he say this because he’s stupid?  Because he’s arrogant?  Because of his blind hatred of the Seahawks and especially Richard Sherman?  Any way you slice it, it’s foolish thinking from a foolish individual.  Maybe if Crabtree magically transformed into Randy Moss in his prime, I could see it.  But, Crabtree isn’t anything special.  I’d take Doug Baldwin over him any day.  Crabtree is only considered an “elite” receiver by the national media because he was drafted in the first round, plain and simple.  There’s nothing about his game that’s elite.  He’s okay.  Off the top of my head, I can think of 25 wide receivers who are better than him (Baldwin, Tate, Fitzgerald, Dez, Marshall, Jeffery, Megatron, Jordy Nelson, Cobb, Demaryius Thomas, Decker, Welker, Hilton, Garcon, Green, Brown, Cruz, Desean Jackson, Andre Johnson, Keenan Allen, Josh Gordon, Cordarrelle Patterson, Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson, and Jimmy Graham – who is actually a wide receiver, in spite of what they try to label him as in New Orleans).

The point is, he’s not better than Richard Sherman.  And if Kaepernick is too stupid or too stubborn to realize that, then maybe Kaepernick isn’t the guy who’s going to lead you to a championship.  His talent may be good enough to get him past most teams in the league, but his hubris is ultimately going to be his undoing against the best teams in the league.  He thinks that just because he has a strong arm, he can make every throw, and that’s just not the case.  And, if that throw’s not there, no worries, he can just run for any first down he wants.  Except, here’s the thing:  when his team is down and he’s got to mount a comeback, the same shit he gets praised for is what’s going to ultimately cost his team ballgames.

In the end, this was a game about two quarterbacks.  One a little too cautious, one a little too reckless.  Somewhere in the middle, you have the perfect NFL player.  But, ultimately, it’s easier for a cautious quarterback to take a few more chances than it is for a reckless player to settle for the sensible decision.  That’s why the Seahawks won this football game.  That’s why the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl and the 49ers are licking their wounds.