Somehow, The Seahawks Won In Pittsburgh!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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