You Know, We Don’t Really NEED Athletes To Say ANYTHING

A lot of people are wondering what sports are going to look like as we come out of this COVID-19 epidemic, and just generally in the years/decades to come.

The Match II was a popular thing that happened recently. If you don’t know what that is, it was this round of golf played by Tiger Woods against Phil Mickelson; their partners, respectively, were Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. They apparently raised a lot of money for … people who were affected by the virus, I guess. Obviously, with social distancing and all that, it was a golf match with no fans, no caddies, and a limited number of crew people around to broadcast the whole thing. To compensate for this, all four players were mic’d up and wearing earpieces, so they could chat with the announcers and any other celebs who called in and wanted to chat. It was very charming and a fun way to spend an otherwise sportsless afternoon.

I was listening to the Brock & Salk podcast after The Match II, and they interviewed one of the announcers, who talked about the experience, and it was his opinion that this could be a wave of the future, not just for golf but for all major sports. The XFL dabbled in a lot of live, on-field interviews where their sideline reporters had to run around and find players who just did something exciting to ask them about it in real-time (as opposed to after the game, which is what would happen under normal circumstances). I’ve probably talked about that before, but really, WHO IS THIS FOR?! I would argue, only people IN the media enjoy this shit.

Do you know why The Match II was such a rousing success, with respect to the live interactions between media & athletes? Because you had four of the biggest, most famous, most articulate athletes in modern sports history. Tiger and Phil and Peyton and Tom? OF COURSE they’re going to be engaging and interesting to interact with!

Do you know what the VAST MAJORITY of athletes sound like on a regular basis? Dumb as rocks. Boring as dirt. Bland cliche machines who have been programmed over their entire lives in how to “game” the media. Saying something while never really saying anything. It is, by and large, BRUTAL to listen to an athlete being interviewed, whether it’s in the moment or after they’ve had hours and hours to craft a pre-packaged response.

I mean, as you can see from Drew Brees’ recent comments – before he walked them back, of course – you can give an athlete YEARS to come up with an opinion, and he’ll still sound like he has no idea what he’s talking about!

The wave of the future, I’m sad to say, is headed in the direction of more media interactions with players, and it’s going to be to all of our detriment. I dunno, unless I’m just an old man now; that’s possible too. Maybe to keep the younger generations engaged in sports, you need to offer this horseshit to continue to grow and prosper your sport. I would guess that’s probably closer to reality, since there’s so much money involved in this enterprise, it’s not like they haven’t done TONS of market research on the topic.

The thing I can’t tell is: who’s pushing for this? Is it the leagues? Do they like it when their players put their feet in their own mouths? Is any publicity good publicity, as they say? Or, are the players pushing for this, in an attempt to grow their individual brands and introduce new market streams during and after their athletic careers? I’m sure both could be true, I suppose. But, I just keep coming back to the sports media complex trying to create a market for something where there’s really no demand for it!

Athletes saying dumb shit can generate countless clicks and views and scoops and editorials for days on end! You’ve got the dumb shit they say, you’ve got the immediate backlash, you’ve got follow-up stories from other sports people commenting on it, you’ve got talking heads voicing their VERY LOUD opinions on sports chat shows, you’ve got sports radio hosts being handed hours upon hours of content to regurgitate. Then, you’ve got the same athlete apologizing for the dumb shit they said, the immediate backlash to that, the continued follow-up stories, the ever-growing VERY LOUD opinions on sports chat shows, and another full day’s worth of sports radio fodder … until some other athlete says something else dumb and the Baby Huey that is our collective sports media consciousness proceeds to waddle over to the next outrage where he plops his ass down to obsess over the next round of nonsense.

You don’t get ANY of that without constant media/athlete interactions. And, sure, you have to wade through an endless stream of cliches and rote, banal responses. But, once you unearth that little nugget of gold, you’re on easy street for at least another week.

Now, don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here. This isn’t a “Stick To Sports” rant. This is a “Stick To What You’re Good At” rant.

When LeBron James or Richard Sherman or Michael Bennett or Gregg Popovich or any number of intelligent, thoughtful people give an opinion on an issue of the day, I’m more than happy to listen. Or, even if it’s just X’s & O’s talk! Deshaun Watson gives some of the best postgame interviews about certain critical plays that happened during his games! Even Bill Belichick, when he wants to be, can be engaging and insightful on a bevy of different topics.

But, I would argue these people are the exceptions, and you REALLY have to suffer through a lot of mindlessness in the meantime. Not EVERYONE needs to make their voices heard. Sometimes, it’s okay just to shut the fuck up and let the adults have a fucking conversation. If you’ve got nothing interesting or worthwhile to say, then maybe just do us all a favor and keep quiet. You’ll save us a lot of wasted time, and you’ll potentially save yourself a lot of agony by not having to scramble to make up for some faux pas that got out in some interview you didn’t prepare for and didn’t think would come to light to a worldwide audience.

Again, I’m mostly talking to Drew Brees here, but this goes for a lot of you!

Seahawks Death Week: Where the 2019 Season Went Right!

Yesterday, we wallowed in our misfortunes. But, as always, we have to keep things in perspective. This was a Seahawks team that won 11 games and made it to the second round of the playoffs. I’m by no means pleased with the end result, I’m not satisfied just making it into the Final 8. I’m never “just happy to be there” and wishing everyone all the best in their future endeavors. Those fans – rational, sensible, not taking all of this meaningless drivel so seriously – are the absolute worst. My first thought after a final Seahawks loss isn’t, “Well, that was fun while it lasted.” It’s usually, “Fuck this shit, fuck everyone, I’m going to my bedroom and watching something else, alone.”

But, eventually I get there. Eventually I calm down and start appreciating the season for what it was. Usually, it’s about a day (or however long it takes me to write up this post), and then I’m done and I move on to next year. Dwelling on success or failure is bad enough, but dwelling on mediocrity? No thank you.

So, let’s talk about all the cool shit we saw this year, and then let’s never think about it again.

Gotta start with Russell Wilson. I know, quarterbacks are the most important players in all of sportsdom, but he was really something special. He was a different kind of special in 2017 – when he led the team in passing AND rushing yards – but I would argue he was the best we’ve ever seen him in 2019. Even better than the last seven games of the regular season in 2015!

If Lamar Jackson didn’t do what he did, we’d be talking about Russell Wilson as the MVP of the NFL. And, if you actually gave the award to the person who most embodied the phrase “Most Valuable Player”, I think Wilson would not only win it hands down, but he’d be on his third or fourth award at this point. But, the NFL gives it to the guy with the best stats, or the flashiest set of highlights, or the guy who the media gloms onto obsessively for three months; so, clearly Lamar. But, it’s an easy argument to make that Wilson means more to this Seahawks team and their 11 wins than Lamar did to that Ravens team and their 13. Give the Ravens a replacement-level quarterback, and I think they still probably win 9 or 10 games; put a replacement-level quarterback on the Seahawks and I think we’re EASILY playing for a Top 10 draft pick, and maybe even Top 5!

But, even the numbers alone for Wilson are impressive; maybe not compared to Lamar, but still. 4,110 yards on 66.1% completions (8.0 yards average per attempt), 31 touchdowns, only 5 interceptions, and a passer rating of 106.3. And, not for nothing, but Wilson was also tied for the league lead for most sacks at 48. Only three quarterbacks in the Top 10 Most Sacked made the playoffs; the other two were Deshaun Watson and Josh Allen. The rest of the guys in that area are, predictably, on terrible football teams who didn’t win very many games.

And, if you tack on rushing numbers, Wilson came within 29 yards of being the #2 rusher on this team, with 342 yards and another 3 TDs on the ground. Just an outstanding all-around season, and clearly deserving of the Second Team All Pro honor he received.

***

Wilson was so good, he gets his own section. Let’s get to the rest of the offense, because even though he’s great, he can’t do it all.

Chris Carson had a wonderful season. 1,230 yards, 4.4 average, and 7 TDs (plus 37 catches for 266 yards and 2 TDs). He did ultimately get knocked out for the season in his 15th game, but those are numbers I’ll take from my starting running back every damn year. What’s less great, obviously, are the 7 fumbles (4 lost), but we’re focusing on the bright side today.

I thought the rest of the running back room did pretty well too. Rashaad Penny didn’t have many opportunities, but he clearly took a step forward this year compared to his rookie season. It’s unfortunate his season-ending injury sounds so severe that it might cost him some games in 2020, because he really looked like a guy this team could rely on. And even Travis Homer made a decent showing in Week 17 and the two playoff games. He’s not a true #1, but as a 3rd down/2-minute back, I thought he did great!

There were a lot of questions about the Seahawks’ receivers heading into 2019. Doug Baldwin retired, the team drafted three guys, and Tyler Lockett was the unquestioned #1 option. My biggest concern was that last one: how would Lockett respond? Well, how do you like 82 receptions for 1,057 yards and 8 touchdowns? In THIS offense?! That’s elite! But, maybe even more importantly was the emergence and growth of D.K. Metcalf, who finished the season with 58 catches for 900 yards and 7 TDs. The two of them each hit triple digits in targets, which really bodes well for the future of the position. Metcalf saved his best for second-to-last in that Wild Card game, so we know he has it in him in the big moments; it’ll be fun to see him continue to grow and start to dominate in the years to come.

And, even though they were largely banged up, I was really impressed with what we got from our tight ends. Dissly is a stud who just can’t stay on the field. We were able to bring Luke Willson back and he was able to do Luke Willson things. But, the biggest find was Jacob Hollister, who became the de facto #3 receiver on this team. He had 41 catches for 349 yards and 3 touchdowns over 11 games, which doesn’t sound like much, but he was always getting open and was a nice security blanket/outlet for Wilson when plays broke down or we needed to convert a first down.

Finally, for the offense, I know the O-Line wasn’t the best, but I feel they deserve some credit for not being as bad as they were from 2015-2017. I was particularly impressed with Joey Hunt stepping in for an injured Justin Britt. I was REMARKABLY impressed with Duane Brown continuing to be ageless (and returning from a knee surgery to start that Green Bay game). I don’t think I ever fully appreciated Mike Iupati for what he brought to this team’s run game until we hit the playoffs and he was out. And, I thought Ifedi continued to make progress while playing presumably all the snaps this season (or at least a very high percentage). Fluker was a little hit or miss, but he was able to play most of the season, which I’ll take as a win.

***

I’m obviously less high on the defense than I am the offense. Offensively, we were top 10 in yards and points; I can’t ask for much more than that. I thought the playcalling was – for the most part – superb, and I thought our execution was spot on (until the first half of that Green Bay game).

Defensively, on the other hand, we were in the bottom 10 and bottom 11 in yards and points, which just can’t happen. Nevertheless, there were a few bright spots.

How much further would we have sunk without Jadeveon Clowney? I know the sack numbers aren’t there, but his pressure rate was among the highest in the league. When he was in the game, he was a difference maker throughout. He needs help around him, but he’s an elite foundational piece to any defense.

I think you’ve got to give some credit to the linebackers. They were steady. Wagner and Wright played in all 16 games plus the playoffs. Their age may be showing at times, their instincts might be a little diminished compared to their peaks, but they were really holding this defense together with duct tape and twine, considering our faulty secondary and even faultier pass rush.

I was happy to see Shaquill Griffin take the next step towards being a reliable cornerback. I still don’t think he’s a true #1, lockdown guy, and I don’t think he ever will be; but as a #2 he’s solid.

The defense took a considerable leap in effectiveness when Quandre Diggs came to town. Paired with Bradley McDougald, this defense looked downright respectable (again, until the Green Bay game).

***

Finally, I’ll talk about the Special Teams.

Jason Myers is a scary individual, but in reality he only missed 5 field goals in the regular season. The 4 missed extra points are pretty annoying, but all in all we didn’t lose any games because our kicker fucked us. So, I’ll take the slight win and hope he improves in 2020. For what it’s worth, I know he was a Pro Bowler in 2019, but kickers are wonky. Like relievers in baseball, they go from good to bad to good again with no rhyme or reason. I have no reason to believe that Myers can’t turn it around. He’s got the leg, he’s young enough, he’s had success in the past; hopefully, he’ll be fine.

Michael Dickson – coming off of a rookie All Pro/Pro Bowl season – had a really tough start to his 2019. But, after a few games, he settled down and finished pretty strong. No notes.

I thought the coverage units took a big step forward in 2019, after being a legitimate problem in 2018. So, looks like those young guys we brought in made a difference!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Thank God It’s Fucking Over

I lost the Consolation Bracket Championship Game, because of course I did. NEWSFLASH: Guy Loses To Guy Who Has Lamar Jackson; WEIRD!

I’m happy for one thing and one thing only: Danny Dimes scored me 48.80 points this week. That’s four weeks out of a possible 11 games where he scored 39+ points, which for a rookie is something to build upon.

So, all I’ve got to do now is figure out who my four keepers are going to be. Dimes is one of them, no question. Zeke Elliott and Josh Jacobs are also back, no question. Well, maybe some question. It depends on how injured Jacobs is, and what the Raiders do in the offseason. But, if they’re ready to hand him the keys to that backfield (and don’t do something stupid like draft another running back in an early round in 2020), then I think he’s a no brainer.

That leaves me with my fourth keeper. I have to keep in mind that I’ll be drafting second in next year’s fantasy draft. My opponent – the guy drafting first overall – will definitely be keeping Lamar Jackson. His other possible QB keepers are Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold; you can’t be really happy with either of those options, so it wouldn’t shock me to see him get Joe Burrow, or whoever ends up being the best-looking rookie quarterback prospect.

The point is, I can settle for the second-best rookie quarterback next year and try to build some sort of juggernaut around a couple of young, exciting quarterbacks. So, I don’t HAVE to keep someone like Carson Wentz, even though he’ll likely be around a Top 10 scoring QB for our league this year.

Behind him, I don’t have a receiver I love (Cooper Kupp is the closest thing, but I dunno). Le’Veon Bell is a longshot, again, unless his situation drastically improves. I don’t think either Scary Terry or Darius Slayton are ready to be keepers; I could definitely draft both of those guys fairly late in next year’s draft.

So, in that sense, Carson Wentz probably HAS to be the keeper play here. Also, that doesn’t prevent me from also using my #2 pick on a third quarterback. Draft whoever the best rookie quarterback is on the board, stash him on my bench, and then start working on my wide receivers in the second round and beyond.

The thing is, part of me doesn’t want to give up on Wentz. I went to a lot of trouble in hanging onto him since his rookie season, essentially building my team around HIM the last time I did one of these step-backs or rebuilds or whatever. I’ve also done this before, where I’ve let go of quality QBs after disappointing seasons, and they’ve immediately bounced back in big ways (most infamous was me giving up on Matt Ryan the year before he was the league’s MVP). So, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see Wentz put up major production in 2020.

With injuries and all the rest, it never hurts to have a third quarterback.

Plus, I mean, our league this year has been won by the only guy who auto-drafted his entire team (minus last year’s keepers). On top of that, his four keepers included THREE quarterbacks (Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson, and Drew Brees) and a team defense (Rams).

Fantasy football is literally the stupidest thing invented by man, and I’m including the Chia Pet.

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

The Russell Wilson MVP Hype Train Choo-Choo-Chooses You!

Back in June, I wrote about how Russell Wilson would be the MVP of the NFL for the 2019 season, so if you’re looking for someone to annoint as your lord and savior, I’m right over here.

After last Thursday’s thrilling victory over the Rams – in a game where Wilson threw for 268 yards and 4 touchdowns – his name is being bandied about in the MVP discussion. Which brings up one of my key points in getting him this award: he needs to show up in primetime games. The Seahawks – being on the west coast – tend to be overlooked. This isn’t a “Woe-Is-Us” lament, it’s just a fact. We need to do more way out here to get noticed; it’s a blessing and a curse. We normally play on Sundays in the late afternoon window in the other time zones. We might be overshadowed by a different key “Game of the Week” (especially if we’re playing a shitty team), so lots of people aren’t privy to Wilson’s awesome stats in games where the Seahawks roll over inferior opponents. So, he has to REALLY step his performance up when we’re the only game on television; to his credit, he usually does.

The buzz around Russell Wilson always spikes after wins like these. The Seahawks are pretty lucky, because we’re currently scheduled to appear in four more primetime games, all in a row, between November 11th through December 8th (at this point, I doubt any of them get flexed out; the question now is: will there be a sixth primetime game flexed IN this season?). That’s an important stretch of games for this team (49ers, Eagles, Vikings, Rams) and an important stretch for MVP voters to get a good, extended look at the best quarterback in football.

The other key to his candidacy has to do with wins and losses. The Seahawks – at 4-1 – are in a great position to win the NFC West this year. There’s a long way to go, of course, but we wouldn’t be having this conversation if the Seahawks had lost to the Rams (or, at the very least, the argument in his favor wouldn’t be as fervent).

The final criteria to look at are the stats. Wilson currently sits tied for 7th in the NFL in passing yards with 1,409 (Mahomes leads with 1,831). That’s good, but it’s remarkable when you factor in how many times the Seahawks actually throw the ball (he’s 20th in attempts). Wilson also leads the NFL in TD passes with 12, while he’s one of a small handful of qualifying QBs with 0 INTs. Wilson’s 9.0 yards per attempt is third. He’s second in completion percentage (73.1%), third in QBR (76.6) and first by a mile in passer rating (126.3; next-highest is Watson with 115.9).

There are arguments to be made about a lot of other guys. Mahomes could easily repeat with the way his season has been going. If Houston wins the AFC South, Watson should be in the running. And, if Christian McCaffrey continues to look like a combo of Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen in their primes, he’ll win a lot of people a lot of fantasy football championships, which should vault him into the conversation as well.

But, this has been Russell Wilson’s week, and I still contend if the Seahawks manage to grab an NFC West title and a top 2 seed, it’s his MVP award to lose. I’ll say this, if he gets to 4,000 yards, 40 TDs, and less than 5 INTs, lock him in right now.

These Seahawks are only going as far as their all-world quarterback takes them. Given the way the Seahawks’ defense has played to date, nothing could be more obvious. That makes him the most valuable player on this team. And, assuming that translates to great success in the standings, I don’t think there’s any way the rest of the NFL doesn’t see that as well.

One thing we can all agree on: making Baker Mayfield’s pre-season odds better than Wilson’s was a travesty of the highest order, and all of Vegas should be ashamed. We’ll cut ’em some slack on ranking Andrew Luck higher than Wilson; how could they have seen his retirement coming?!

Russell Wilson Will Be The NFL MVP For The 2019 Season

SCORCHING MOLTEN LAVA TAKE ALERT! This is one of those things where if I’m right, I’ll be crowing like a jackass for the rest of my life. And, if I’m wrong, then it’ll never be spoken of again.

Remember the time I predicted the Seahawks would beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl before the season started?

Remember the time before that when I predicted the Ravens would beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl just 1 week into the regular season?

I’ll leave it to the rest of you to find all the times I’ve been wrong, and go out on a limb to say I’m the greatest sports mind of our generation.

I don’t often do a lot of prognosticating on the NFL’s MVP award – or ANY MVP award, really – because I kind of don’t care about it. The only time a Seahawk has won was in 2005, when Shaun Alexander ran for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns in leading the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance in a 13-3 regular season. I argued this at the time and maintain it to this day: the most important player to the Seahawks’ success that year was actually Matt Hasselbeck (we NEVER would’ve gotten anywhere without him), but since he didn’t have insanely gaudy stats (3,459 yards, 65.5% completions, 24 TDs, 9 INTs) he didn’t stand a chance.

Which brings me right back to this year and begs the question: if gaudy stats are a precursor, WHY IN THE HOLY HELL WOULD I PREDICT RUSSELL WILSON FOR THIS AWARD?

Look, it’s not the most thought-out opinion I’ve ever had. 99% of everything I say on here I pull straight from my gut, which has been notoriously inconsistent over the years. But, I’ll try to make an argument and you take it with however much salt you want.

Last year, Wilson had a pretty impressive season: 3,448 yards, 65.6% completions, 35 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 110.9 passer rating. Of course, that was nothing compared to Patrick Mahomes’ season (the actual MVP): 5,097 yards, 66.0% completions, 50 TDs, 12 INTs, and 113.8 rating. Every step of the way (except for INTs) he was better than Wilson.

Well, the first part of my argument is that I believe Mahomes takes a step back in his second full year as a starter. I think he’ll come down to Earth and be more in the middle of the pack. He’ll almost certainly throw for over 4,000 yards, but I don’t think he’ll approach 50 TDs again, and I think his INTs will increase. I would also argue that whenever someone wins as thoroughly as he has, there’s inevitably a backlash among voters, who are constantly looking to give the award to someone different. If you don’t believe that to be true, then please explain to me why LeBron James has zero MVP awards since the 2012/2013 season, in spite of the fact that until this year, he carried his teams to every single NBA Championship series in that span. Also, while you’re at it, tell me why Bill Belichick hasn’t won since 2010 and yet Bruce Arians and Ron Rivera have both won twice in that span.

So, if you bet Mahomes at +400, you’re throwing your money away. Which brings me to the current betting odds:

  • Patrick Mahomes +400
  • Drew Brees +700
  • Aaron Rodgers +800
  • Andrew Luck +800
  • Tom Brady +1000
  • Baker Mayfield +1400
  • Russell Wilson +1600
  • Carson Wentz +1900
  • Philip Rivers +2200
  • Deshaun Watson +2500

That’s just the top 10. Some things stand out. All of those guys are quarterbacks (the most important players in the game) and all of those guys are projected to be in the playoffs (or at least contending for the playoffs). While being a quarterback isn’t a MUST, it’s certainly the safest bet. For a non-quarterback to win it, he has to do something REALLY special. Like Shaun Alexander’s touchdown totals. The last non-quarterback to win it was in 2012 when Adrian Peterson came within 8 yards of the all-time rushing yards record in a single season. The time before that, it was LaDainian Tomlinson the year after Alexander, when he ran for 1,815 yards and broke Alexander’s rushing touchdown record with 28.

If I were going to pick a non-QB in 2019, I’d lean towards Saquon Barkley (at +4000), but the Giants are so bad that he would literally have to break every single rushing record for it to happen.

Anyway, as you can see, Wilson is firmly in the Top 10 (shamefully behind Baker Mayfield, which is just a crime against humanity at this point), so Vegas likes his chances. With his new contract extension, Wilson’s name is in the zeitgeist. And, at this junction in his career, I believe there are enough fervent Wilson believers out there to really help make his case and keep his name alive.

Now, he can’t do it alone. It’s going to require the Seahawks to get back to the playoffs. It’ll probably even require the Seahawks to win the NFC West, which I believe this team is capable of. Ideally, the Seahawks will be a top 1 or 2 seed and have a BYE in the playoffs. Something like 12-4 could accomplish this, if everything breaks right. The Rams, you figure, are in for a Super Bowl hangover. The Saints and Bears figure to be our biggest obstacles, as I believe the NFC East will feast upon itself to keep their records down.

Playing well in marquee games is also a must. The Seahawks have five primetime games scheduled, including three in a row late in the season, right in that window where we separate the men from the boys in races like these. Wilson has traditionally stepped up big in these games, so I don’t see that as being an issue either.

With the team playing well, and with his reputation intact, that just leaves his biggest hurdle: his numbers.

Wilson has thrown for over 4,000 yards only twice in his career (though he was 17 yards away in 2017 from making it three times), and last year he was obviously limited by the offense’s design. Part of that was a backlash against the losses in our first two weeks, when the coaching staff had to re-set everything. But, ultimately this team was so successful running the ball that there wasn’t always a serious need to get things done through the air. While the plan heading into the season will be more of the same run-centric style, it wouldn’t totally shock me to see our effectiveness on the ground weaken (much in the same way that I see Mahomes’ numbers taking a dive). Opposing defenses will game plan better. And, I figure injuries will play a more significant role (Carson played in 14 games; I could see that dropping as he doesn’t seem like a guy who can stay healthy for the duration) with both the running backs and the O-Line. There’s no Mike Davis, who was a solid contributor, and I seriously question whether Penny will be up to the task if he’s thrust into the #1 role. There should be just enough of a dip in the running game to add a few hundred more yards to Wilson’s passing total.

On top of that, Wilson’s rushing yards are going to continue to go down with every year. He’s a quarterback, and an elite one at that. Elite quarterbacks throw the ball or hand it off, period. He’s heading into his 8th season, which puts him squarely in his prime. He’s had a Hall of Fame trajectory to this point in his career, and I don’t know a whole lot of Hall of Fame quarterbacks who haven’t won an MVP award. With that in mind, it sort of feels like it’s his destiny to win this award at least once. If we get to the end of the season, and no one has really stood out with awe-inspiring numbers at any position, maybe the voters will look around, see Wilson sitting there with 0 career MVPs, and figure he’s due. People have voted for things based on dumber logic before (say hello to every politician who ever seemed like a guy you’d want to have a beer with).

Getting back to the numbers, though, Wilson’s best chance seems to be with his touchdowns. While he was a far cry from Mahomes’ 50 last year, Wilson was still tied for third with 35. In 2017, he led the league with 34. In 2015, he came in sixth also with 34. I could easily see that number jump up into the 40’s, which should put him well within range. More than that, he’s usually very careful with the ball. Last year he tied a career low with only 7 INTs. I feel with his ability, he can shave that down even further. If he has an insane TD:INT ratio of something like 40:3, that’s the sort of stat that could push him over the top.

Finally, if we’re truly talking about the Most VALUABLE Player, then who has had more value to his team than Russell Wilson in his career to date? The knock against him has always been that he’s had an elite defense (except for last year) or an elite running game (except for a few years there post-Beastmode). Well, I’ve already argued that I don’t believe the running game will be as exceptional as it was in 2018, and as for the defense, it was already middle-of-the-road last year; this year, I think middle-of-the-road will be this unit’s CEILING. I think the defense could be truly terrible this year. We’ll likely rank in the bottom third or bottom quarter in the league in sacks and turnovers.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 43 sacks, 13 of which belonged to Frank Clark. 43 put us 11th in football; 30 would’ve been tied for 30th. Ziggy Ansah figures to mitigate some of that, but I highly doubt he’s going to get us all the way there. In fact, I don’t think he’ll even get us halfway there (yes, I’m putting Ansah’s over/under of sacks at 6.5, and I’ll bet the under). With no one else coming in to help account for the loss of Clark’s production (both in sacks, and in the help he provided someone like Jarran Reed, who saw his numbers skyrocket playing with Clark on the outside next to him). If Reed is our only pass-rushing threat (assuming Ansah misses multiple games, or plays through injury and is ineffective as a result), he can be easily neutralized, sending the D-Line tumbling towards the bottom of the league.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 12 interceptions, 5 of which belonged to Earl Thomas, Justin Coleman, and Frank Clark. 12 put us tied for 18th in football; 7 would’ve been tied for 29th. Bradley McDougald had 3 of his own last year, but he’s also an injury waiting to happen. Of our younger core in the defensive backfield, Shaquill Griffin, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, and Tre Flowers all combined for 3 total INTs (Hill and Flowers combining for 0). Who did we add to this group? A couple of rookies, and presumably whatever veterans we bring into Training Camp later this summer. There just isn’t a lot of turnover production in this unit. With the D-Line unable to get pressure, that puts more of the onus on the secondary, which is not NEARLY as talented as the Legion of Boom in its prime.

Now, of course, the Seahawks tied for the league lead in fumble recoveries in 2018, but as we all know, that’s largely based on the luck of the bouncing ball. We did tie for third in forced fumbles, which you’d hope would translate, but again our leader in that category – Frank Clark – is gone.

My point with all of this is to further indicate that I think the Seahawks’ defense will be bad. Our only hope is that we hold teams to an inordinate amount of field goals. But, my expectation is, for the Seahawks to win a lot of games, we’re going to rely exclusively on our offense. That means Russell Wilson will have to do considerably more than he had to do in 2018.

All that being said, it still doesn’t feel like a strong argument, and I get that. All I can say is, with this being the second season with a new offensive coordinator, you have to figure Brian Schottenheimer has had a full year to work with this team, and a second full off-season to tinker with his scheme. While it’ll be foolish to expect the running game to take a complete back seat, I think his ability to adjust in games will improve. With the defense putting us into more passing situations – based on game score alone – I think it’ll open things up for Wilson to really shine like he’s never quite shone before.

Wilson has had spurts. The back-half of his 2015 was as brilliant as it gets; if he had a full season of that, he’d be a hands-down winner of the MVP. I also thought 2018 was his best year yet, particularly from an efficiency standpoint. If we keep the efficiency (or even improve upon it slightly), increase touchdowns, decrease turnovers, and boost up those yards, there won’t be any other excuses to keep him from his due. ESPECIALLY when you consider Baldwin retired, and Lockett is his only quality veteran receiver heading into this season. Voters won’t have the L.O.B. to fall back on, nor will they have as dominant of a running game. They’ll have 8 full years’ worth of elite game play, with 2019 as a coronation of sorts.

In a muddled year of MVP candidates, Wilson will win it in a close voting battle. Mark my words (unless I’m wrong, then forget this ever happened).

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

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

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

Which essentially boils down to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or, do the Seahawks have a shot?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 6

I’m gonna tell you what, if I would’ve lost this last week, I MIGHT’VE quit fantasy football entirely.

In every sense of the word, I was lucky to win this one, 128.93 – 124.86.  For starters, if he’d gone with MY version of his best lineup, he would’ve only lost by a little over a point.  He ended up subbing in Cam Newton for Deshaun Watson and that cost him 6 points.  He also subbed in Dion Lewis for Jay Ajayi, which added a little over 3 points to his total, so if he’d split the difference and just kept Watson in there, he would’ve beat me.

He also had the Mason Crosby Experience in there, which absolutely destroyed him.  I got super lucky that the Seahawks did as well as they did against his Rams defense (which ended up getting him just 1 point).

On my end of things, the Carolina defense was a boon, getting me 15 points.  Robbie Gould, though, got me 0.  Calvin Ridley – who I’d been hyping up all week – had a mediocre 7.8 points.  And, obviously, I should’ve benched Tyreek Hill for either Robert Woods or Kenny Golladay.  But, that’s neither here nor there.

Going into the Monday Night game, I had a 119.63 – 87.51 lead.  He had Drew Brees, I had the combo of Adrian Peterson and Jordan Reed.  And I BARELY won!

Now, obviously this is by far my worst week of the season.  I would’ve lost to all but 2 guys in my league.  So, in that sense, I was fucking due for a squeaker.  But, I’m gonna need a much better week this week to keep the train rolling.

King Flippy Nips is now 2-3 on the season and up to 5th place.  I’ve fallen to 3rd in total points though (I’m still tops in the league in points against).

No waiver claims this week.  I didn’t have a super-pressing need and felt it was a better use of my status to climb the waiver priority ranks (come Thursday morning, after a few moves by others, I’m up to 7th).  But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything.  For starters, Greg Olsen is playing again, which means I can’t use an IR spot on him anymore.  I ended up dropping last week’s fill-in defense (Carolina) to make room.  Then, after the big, fat zero I got from Robbie Gould last week, I cut him and owned Wendell Smallwood for a hot minute.

See, I’ve got a real quandary at running back.  Fournette is out of commission (he has since claimed my team’s coveted IR spot for at least a week), and Adrian Peterson apparently injured his shoulder last week.  The Redskins’ offense is a total mess, so the sooner I can get rid of these guys (he and Jordan Reed), the better.  But, for now, I have to keep them.  And yet, I also need to fill a fucking roster!  There are no easy weeks in this league.  Smallwood looked like a good bet, but he’s in a 50/50 time-share with Corey Clement, and neither one has really established himself as a goalline back vs. a 3rd down/pass-catching back.  Clement appears to be BOTH, if I’m being honest, yet Smallwood still eats into about half the snaps.

Anyway, Smallwood and the Eagles are playing on Thursday, and even if AP is a hundred years old, I still prefer him over a 50/50 guy.  So, a few hours later, I ended up dropping Smallwood and picked up Alfred Morris.  Morris plays on Monday Night, in Green Bay, but he looks to be the team’s lead running back for at least this one week.  So, come Sunday morning, if it looks like AP is going to be inactive, I at least have someone competent to throw in my lineup.  It’s not ideal, but it is what it is.

Finally, once I was able to IR Fournette, I was able to pick up a kicker.  I went with Houston’s guy Fairbairn.  It’s pretty slim pickin’s for kickers out there.  I didn’t have the roster flexibility to stash Legatron and the other guy I was looking at was Tennessee’s Ryan Succop, but they’re going against Baltimore this week and I just hate the Titans’ offense.  At least with Houston they seem to move the ball a little better.  I might do some kicker scrounging as the season goes on, in case someone has to drop their guy in a crucial BYE week.  It might ultimately be worth it to keep a second kicker on my roster through a BYE just to cover my ass come playoff time.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz @ NYG
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton vs. PIT
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ NE
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. AZ
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. JAX
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. CAR
  • TE – Jordan Reed vs. CAR
  • FLEX – Calvin Ridley vs. TB
  • K – Ka’imi Fairbairn vs. BUF
  • DEF – Chicago @ MIA

My bench is:  Carr, Woods, Fournette (IR), Golladay (BYE), Olsen, Morris.

I don’t like Carr against the Seahawks (in London) nearly as much as I like Dalton against the Steelers.  Fournette is still sucking my will to live, so I’m stuck rolling with old man Peterson.  Olsen is coming off of a terrible injury, so I need to see him play a game before putting him in my lineup.  Woods is going up against Denver’s secondary, so I’m gonna roll with Ridley against Tampa’s garbage defense.  If Ridley lets me down again, I’m gonna have to make a move with that FLEX spot, but for now I’m hoping for a bounce-back.

This week, I’m up against DelBocaVistaPhase2, who is also 2-3 and in 7th place in our league.  His team is STRONG up and down … except at quarterback.  To wit:

  • QB1 – Josh Allen @ HOU Eli Manning vs. PHI
  • QB2 – Sam Darnold vs. IND
  • WR1 – Stefon Diggs vs. AZ
  • WR2 – Mike Evans @ ATL
  • RB1 – Saquon Barkley vs. PHI
  • RB2 – James Conner @ CIN Joe Mixon vs. PIT
  • TE – Jimmy Graham vs. SF
  • FLEX – Joe Mixon vs. PIT Sammy Watkins @ NE
  • K – Harrison Butker @ NE
  • DEF – Jacksonville @ DAL

His bench is:  Dak Prescott, Chris Thompson Josh Allen, Michael Thomas (BYE), Kenyan Drake, and Keelan Cole LeSean McCoy.

I mean, that’s a murderer’s row … minus the QBs.  We’ve got some interesting direct conflicts as well.  I’ve got Thielen, he’s got Diggs.  That game figures to be a blowout, so it’s up to whoever gets off to a hotter start before Minnesota runs out the clock in the second half.  I’ve also got Andy Dalton and he’s got Joe Mixon, so what’s that game gonna be?  A throw-fest, or a slug-em-out?  And, finally, he’s got Jacksonville’s defense and I’ve got Ezekiel Elliott; obviously the more my guy scores, the less his defense gets.

Also, not for nothing, but I like Darnold against that Colts defense an awful lot, and think he has the potential to put up big numbers.  Between the shootout that should be the Falcons/Bucs, the consistent greatness that Barkley shows on an every-week basis (at least from a fantasy perspective), and the fact that LeVeon Bell chose to wait until AFTER this week to return from his holdout, all goes great lengths in fucking me over.  The Good Luck Gods showered me with love in Week 5, but they’re looking to royally fuck me over once again in Week 6.  I’m Charlie Brown with the football, and that bitch Lucy is fixing to pull it away from me once again.

***THURSDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE***

Blockbuster trade went down.  DelBocaVistaPhase2 sent away James Conner and Chris Thompson, acquiring Shady McCoy and Eli Manning.  So, sub Eli in for Allen, move Mixon up to RB2, and insert Sammy Watkins into the FLEX spot (Keelan Cole hits the waiver wire).  It looks like he’s trying to poach points from Tyreek Hill, which I think is 100% appropriate.  The way New England likes to take away their opponents’ best weapons, I could see a lot of targets funnelled Watkins’ way.

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.

Seahawks Death Week: Spread The Blame Around Nice N’ Thick

Had the Seahawks made the playoffs, I’m certain a topic of conversation would’ve been:  what do the Seahawks do well?  If things had gone differently – i.e. if the Seahawks won and the Panthers had beaten the Falcons – we’d currently be preparing to go on the road to Carolina.  The Seahawks would’ve been considerable underdogs in this game, and we would’ve been sitting around wondering how the Seahawks might match up with the Panthers.  Where is our edge?  In what universe could you imagine a Seahawks upset, as they’re currently constructed?

Boil it all down, and you come back to the question:  what do the Seahawks do well?

Well, at TIMES, the Seahawks have done lots of things well (except run the ball), so we should probably refine that to say:  what do the Seahawks do consistently well?  Or, to put it another way:  what DOESN’T need fixing for 2018?

I’m a little bit at a loss with this question, because I don’t think there’s even one single thing the Seahawks do consistently well.  Sure, they have Russell Wilson, and he’s a good quarterback you can win a championship with, but all too often he fails to step up in the pocket and make quick decisions with the football.  Either because he can’t see what’s going on (and he’s being super-careful with the football to not throw it into harm’s way), or he’s constantly waiting for something better to come along.  And, he thinks he can beat everyone when he escapes, which leads to further issues (fumbles, intentional groundings, sacks, holding penalties on the O-Line because they have no idea where he’s going).  For everything he does well, he does something that holds this team back, and when the rest of the team isn’t up to the task, our margin of error is extremely low, so more often than not that Russell Wilson Magic is useless.

The running game is what it is:  a total fucking disaster.  That’s partly on the O-Line and partly on there being no dynamic running back on this roster for the last two years.

The receiving game is okay, but even there we have issues.  Aside from Doug Baldwin, guys don’t get consistently open, and Doug Baldwin can’t do everything.  Jimmy Graham seemed to always disappear unless we were 15 yards away (or closer) to the endzone.  Just about everyone aside from Doug (particularly the tight ends, particularly Graham) had issues with drops, which this team obviously can’t afford when – again – it can’t run the ball and can’t provide consistent protection for its quarterback.

The O-Line is what it is:  a total fucking disaster.  Luke Joeckel was a bust.  Germain Ifedi is certainly trending towards the bust category (though, I want to see him get multiple years in one position before I make that declaration).  Ethan Pocic was a rookie.  Duane Brown came in mid-season and I don’t think ever became totally used to what we’re trying to do here (and how our quarterback plays).  And, quite frankly, Justin Britt made too many fucking mistakes to be considered anything but a so-so player.  He’s certainly not worth Max Unger-type money, and once the dead money isn’t prohibitive, I’d seriously consider getting rid of him and moving Pocic over to center (where he played so well in college).  Don’t forget, it was Britt’s boneheaded and pointless dive that landed him on George Fant’s ACL and started us down this whole messy road (when it appeared Fant was going to take the next huge leap in his development in the pre-season).  Consider me off the Justin Britt bandwagon.

So, for those keeping track at home, that’s NOTHING about the offense that I trust as far as I can throw it.  How about the defense?

Well, the pass rush was hit or miss.  Sometimes it was on point, sometimes it completely disappeared.  Michael Bennett got way too much playing time, and struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness down the stretch (as anyone could’ve predicted).  Cliff Avril’s loss (probably for good) was a huge blow.  Frank Clark was probably our most consistent player, but he never made that leap to superstar status we were all secretly hoping we’d see.  And, most annoyingly of all, we were never able to find a consistent interior pass rusher.  Malik McDowell is the biggest fucking moron on the planet and might have ATV’d his way out of football before his career even started.  Which necessitated in us trading for Sheldon Richardson, who was okay, but who also never really seemed to fit in with our scheme or make any sort of an impact.  Jarran Reed took a baby step forward, but was never a consistent threat.  Naz Jones looked great for a rookie, but got injured and probably hit the ol’ rookie wall.  The back-end of the roster guys would flash from time to time, but never consistently.  Way WAY too often, opposing quarterbacks had all day to pick apart our defense, and it seemed like we only ever got pressure when we blitzed, which isn’t this team’s way (but maybe it should’ve been; maybe we should’ve gone hyper blitz-happy and seen if that would’ve helped spur more turnovers).

The run defense is SUPPOSED to be this team’s strength, but all too often it was a weakness.  The 49ers and Titans early in the year ran all over us.  And the Jags, Rams, and Cowboys had no problem whatsoever gaining big chunks of yards on us late in the season.  Teams with elite runners doing whatever they wanted:  that rarely ever happened before this year.

Then, you know, there’s the pass defense.  Earl Thomas missed a little time.  Kam and Sherm missed a lot of time.  Jeremy Lane lost his job early and often.  Byron Maxwell came in off the street and started over Lane almost immediately!  And he’s no prize pig!  Shaq Griffin looked pretty good for a rookie, but I’d still like to see a lot of development in him before I annoint him with Lockdown Corner status.  Justin Coleman looked pretty good for a slot guy.  Deshawn Shead never really came back from his injury (aside from a few special teams snaps).  Bradley McDougald was a solid pickup at safety (and a HUGE improvement over Steven Terrell/Kelcie McCray).  When everyone was healthy, the pass defense was okay, but even then, everyone was healthy for that Deshaun Watson game, and he threw all over us!  Tennessee didn’t have any trouble moving the ball down our throats.  And even the Redskins had no trouble marching down the field late on our pass defense.  Then, once you factor in everyone’s injuries, you could argue this was the weakest part of our team by season’s end.

I guess, if you had one position group to laud this year, I never really worried about the linebackers, until the end of the season, when it was obvious Bobby Wagner’s injury was severely limiting his mobility.  And, K.J. Wright had that concussion game he missed.  And, I’d be hard pressed to say I loved our veteran depth; the drop-off from starter to backup was pretty severe.  Seems like we could’ve filled those spots in the draft if we hadn’t completely neglected it the last few years (opting for undrafted free agents and veterans on minimum deals over actual draft picks).

So, no, nevermind.  There are zero position groups you could say I was 100% comfortable with over the course of the season.  Every single player on this team played a part in why the Seahawks are not in the playoffs right now, and if they WERE set to play in Carolina this weekend, they’d surely get their asses destroyed.  I hope the guys who remain on this roster in 2018 take a good, long look in the mirror.  Do you want to be here?  Do you still love the game of football?  Let’s maybe think less about that paycheck and more about wins and losses.