Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: The Week 10 BYE Week Blues

There wasn’t really a lot to worry about in my Week 9 win over Koncussion Protocol. In spite of Kittle’s marvelous Thursday Night performance against Arizona, his team simply underperformed a LITTLE bit more than my team underperformed. I won handily before we even got to the Sunday Night game, 146.90-120.35.

I got more than expected from Tyreek Hill (26.50), and had solid-to-spectacular games from my running backs (Jacobs with 24.00, Bell with 20.10, and Elliott with 13.90). I’m so stacked at the position, I had Jaylen Samuels on my bench who got 19.30 and I’m not even upset about it. I would’ve been had I gotten another bad game out of Le’Veon Bell, but he turned it around by being a target hog in a bad offense.

My biggest gripe comes in my other league, which I’ll touch on briefly, because it might single-handedly keep me out of the 4-team playoffs. I was clinging to 4th place, going up against one of the top two teams, and I had him dead to rights. Adam Thielen was back, so I started him, and he got me a whopping zero points. Had the Vikings just sat him for a week and let him rest his hamstring like they SHOULD have, I would’ve won, because I would’ve been forced to play Ertz in my flex spot, who would’ve gotten me the points I needed to prevail. Instead, two teams leapfrogged me, and I need to go on a massive winning streak to get back into contention.

The problem, of course, is that Week 10 is the fucking apocalypse. New England, Philly, Houston, Jacksonville, Washington, and Denver are all off this week. That’s A LOT of fantasy football players who can’t go, but also can’t necessarily be waived. Which means, if you have injuries on top of lots of key BYEs, you’re fucked.

So, getting back to this league, I really just have one big issue: I only have one active quarterback in a 2-quarterback league. To make matters worse, that quarterback is Daniel Jones, who has straight up sucked every time I’ve started him, and been a wonderful revelation whenever he’s been on my bench. To make matters even worse than that somehow, as of Tuesday of this week – when all non-rostered players were on waivers – there was officially only one available quarterback who’s locked in as a starter this week, and that’s Cincinnati’s backup, Ryan Finley. He’s hosting the Ravens, and figures to have a terrible time doing it. My other option – if I’m desperate, and no one else gets waived between now and Sunday morning – is Taysom Hill, the backup for the Saints who sometimes catches passes or runs a quasi-Wildcat. These are truly the dark times.

***

So, let’s focus on the bright side. My victory in Week 9 gives me a 3-game winning streak. My record is now 5-4, in fourth place, tied with four other guys who all have the same record (one of the 5-4 teams is ahead of me, by a whopping 7 points). The team that started out 7-0 is now 7-2; there’s also a team that’s 6-3, so I’m somehow back in play for a top 2 seed and a BYE for the first round of the playoffs. I’m still 4th in total points, and I still have the 2nd-most points against by a large margin.

***

With T.Y. Hilton being injured for a while, I ended up putting him in my IR spot, which I had been using for Derrius Guice. I can’t justify hanging onto him and letting Samuels go to a needy team (especially with Bell’s status in question for this week). Plus, I’ve held onto A.J. Green all season and I’m not about to drop him now. I lucked out in that only my QB spots were affected this week, so I don’t need to make a ton of moves.

I put in a waiver claim on Brian Hoyer, who I don’t love, but he’s on a good team and he’s going up against Miami’s terrible defense. He was never a lock to start this week, as Jacoby Brissett’s injury wasn’t deemed to be too serious, but I took a stab in the dark. In the end, if Indy is willing to risk Brissett’s long-term health to get a win over the lowly Dolphins, then I guess fuck me, right?

As it turns out, I didn’t even get him. Of course, I was 9th in waiver priority, so that was always going to be a bit of a longshot. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise! I doubt it; I think he’ll easily carve the Dolphins up and would’ve been the best QB on my team this week, but I’ll settle for Ryan Finley, making his first-ever start for the Bengals. As long as he doesn’t get me negative points, I guess it’ll be okay?

I also found out this week that Nick Foles is destined to return to the starting lineup for the Jags next week. That really ruined my Tuesday, as I was then forced to also put a waiver claim in for him. The smart thing to do would’ve been to just drop Gardner Minshew, but at this point I’m so desperate for quality quarterback play, I need to hold on to anyone I can. Plus, preventing Minshew from being someone else’s keeper next year is a solid bonus (the real reason to hang onto Minshew is because Foles is an injury waiting to happen).

I had to make the most difficult decision of the year, in dropping Terry McLaurin (who I’d previously blown my #1 waiver priority on way back when). He’s had a solid rookie year so far, but his quarterback is a fucking disaster, his team is a fucking disaster, and he’s on a BYE this week, so he can’t bite me in the ass right away.

***

My opponent this week is Korky Butchek, who I handled back in Week 1. He’s had a rough season, currently in 9th place with a 3-6 record, as injuries and Antonio Brown have pretty well derailed his hopes and dreams for 2019.

He’s got a relatively frisky team, but as my own team has shown, it doesn’t take much to beat me, especially with my terrible quarterback situation. He’s pretty strong with Jameis Winston and Jared Goff leading the way. Losing DeAndre Hopkins to BYE hurts him pretty severely, as does the loss of Evan Engram; but he still has Kenny Golladay, Melvin Gordon, and Mark Andrews, who’s a boom or bust candidate every week.

He rounded out his lineup by picking up Jamison Crowder to play in place of Hopkins, which was pretty smart. That guy is a target machine whenever Darnold plays. He doesn’t even necessarily need to make it into the endzone to have a huge day, though it’ll certainly help.

I’m favored by just under 20 points in this one, but you know the drill. My team has underperformed projections 7 out of 9 weeks this year and I see no reason for that to change now.

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.

Seahawks Handle Inept Giants

I feel like we could say this every week, but I’m gonna say it again:  it should’ve been MUCH easier than that.

The Seahawks went into New Jersey and beat the Giants by a score of 24-7.  That sounds like a quality, sound win, right?  17 points easily covered the spread.  Pretty hard to complain about a 3-score victory.  And yet, here we are.

For starters, I should point out that I have no beef with the defense.  They were what we thought they were.  I said in my preview on Friday that the Giants had no business scoring more than 9 points in this game, and lo and behold look at what we got.  On top of that, the 7 they DID score came off of a fumble recovery; they had to go all of 17 yards to get their lone score.  Someone said something to this effect on Twitter yesterday:  the offense gave up 3 points and the defense only gave up 4 points.  That’s the appropriate way to look at this.  You could argue the Seahawks should’ve shut them out, which would’ve been the second consecutive time they shut out the Giants on the road (last time:  23-0 back in 2013).

Eli Manning was held to 134 yards, on 19/39.  The running game was held to 46 yards on 17 carries for a 2.7 average.  The Giants were 2/12 on third down and 0/1 on fourth down; not counting turnovers or end of half, the Giants were held to a 3 & Out on four possessions.  Really, the only guy who had a good day on offense was their tight end, Evan Engram, who caught 6 for 60 with a TD.  On the one hand, that’s kind of annoying that it was their tight end who had all the success, but he really was their ONLY weapon on offense (Sterling Shepard was a pre-game scratch).  Also, the Seahawks were shadowing him with Bradley McDougald most of the time, which overall was pretty successful.  I mean, Engram had 6 catches, but he was targeted 12 times.

The Giants couldn’t do a damn thing, bottom line.  And if the Seahawks’ offense didn’t repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot, they would’ve been buried early in this one.  This was the type of smothering defense we haven’t seen from the Seahawks in quite some time.  Harkening back to the good ol’ days of 2013!

But, holy hell, that offense.  I guess their solution to the running game woes was to repeatedly run the fly-sweep to Tyler Lockett for minimal gains.  It might’ve been effective had the Seahawks ever, I dunno, showed that look in the past.  Maybe faked it to him on occasion, to at least put that play on tape, so that when we finally hand it to him it’s actually surprising instead of totally telegraphed?  I dunno.  That was actually my only problem with the play calling, shockingly enough.  I mean, I don’t know what more you want from Darrell Bevell.  He’s calling runs, and either they’re getting stuffed, or Wilson is checking out of them.  He’s even isolating Jimmy Graham out wide near the goalline with more regularity!  It’s not his fault that Wilson can’t throw a fade for some reason, or that Graham fucking drops everything in sight.

I know he ended up redeeming himself, sort of, with 3 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown, but a lot of that (particularly the score) came when the game was decided.  When shit was on the line?  That’s when he couldn’t get out of his own way.  He dropped a perfect pass in the endzone (one of two goalline targets on that drive alone, so don’t tell me the Seahawks aren’t looking out for Jimmy Graham), then later dropped another perfect pass when he was wide open near the sideline with nothing but green ahead of him for at least 30 yards.  I’d like to say that this was just an anomaly, but he’s been dropping passes regularly all season.  Sure, things worked out this time, but as long as he’s healthy and wearing a Seahawks uniform, he’s going to command a certain percentage of the targets, and his fumble-fingers are going to cost us an important game.  I can see it now!  Don’t say I didn’t warn you, when we gag away a winnable game.

Then, of course, there’s our own running game struggles.  Sure, we eclipsed 100 yards, but it took 31 carries to do it, with 5 different runners (including Lockett and Wilson).  No one looked good.  Rawls had his usual burst, but he also, quite frankly, runs like an idiot.  He’s always going WAY too fast and lacks any semblance of patience.  On a screen pass, he had a nice 16-yard gain, but if he’d just allowed his blockers to run ahead of him and do their job, he could’ve gone for twice that amount!  And that’s aside from his usual slip & falls when he tries to hit the hole like a fucking Tasmanian Devil.  Just, you know, take half a beat, collect yourself, then explode through the hole!  You don’t have to go 100 miles per hour all the fucking time!  I mean, honestly, between that and his constant parade of nagging injuries, I’m more annoyed at that than I am his fumble which led to New York’s only score.  That’s just sort of a fluke, but the rest of it is who he is, and it’s fucking difficult to watch.

Unfortunately, Eddie Lacy was Eddie Lacy.  He is who he is, 11 carries for 34 yards.

Russell Wilson finished with probably his best game of the season (27/39, 334 yards, 3 TDs), but he also left a number of plays on the field.  As I noted before, he over-threw Graham on a goalline fade (when he really should’ve just lazered it in there, as Graham had his defender walled off; but then again, he probably just would’ve dropped it like he did the next throw his way, so whatever).  He had Doug Baldwin wide open for a long bomb and over-threw him by about 10 yards.  And, I want to say he had something similar going to Lockett where he over-threw him.  Again, all of these mistakes prevented the Seahawks from really pouring it on.  I mean, 50 points wasn’t out of the question yesterday, had things gone according to plan.

But, the offense as a whole looks a lot better than it did early in the season.  The Seahawks generated 425 yards.  They converted 6/13 on third down (0/1 on fourth).  They held the ball for over 35 minutes.  The offensive line pass protected pretty well (I want to say the sack was on Wilson for holding the ball too long and not stepping up into the pocket; ditto the intentional grounding), though they could still be better in their run blocking (I’m hearing good things about Pocic, who got a lot of play at left guard, though he was out-snapped by Glowinski 48-34).

Doug Baldwin had an epic game (9 catches for 92 yards and a TD).  Paul Richardson had a couple big catches (2 for 61 and a TD).  Beyond that, Wilson did a good job spreading the ball around.

Again, as I say seemingly every week, all that matters is the W.  The Seahawks are 4-2, a half game behind the Rams (who will be on a BYE this week), and are still in a good position for the playoffs and possibly competing for a top seed.

What I will say is, they can’t keep playing like this on offense.  They need to cash in on their scoring opportunities.  It’s one thing to dominate the likes of the Giants and Colts, but aside from a close win over the Rams, who have they beaten?  They lost to the Packers, and they lost to the Titans (which looks more grotesque with each passing week, as the Titans’ offense continues to struggle against the rest of the league).  Yes, I want the Seahawks to win against everyone, but I don’t give a shit about these games they’re SUPPOSED to win.  The whole point is to win a championship, which means the Seahawks need to start showing up against teams destined to make the post-season!

I’ll be very interested in how they look at home next Sunday against the Texans.  Deshaun Watson looks like the real deal, he’s got tons of weapons on offense, and even though they’ve been hit by the injury bug on defense, they still have enough talent left over to make our lives miserable.  Win THAT game by 17 points and I’ll be impressed.

Also, not for nothing, but the delicate ecosystem that is the Seahawks’ defense sure as shit needs to stay healthy if this team is going to go anywhere.  Thankfully, they look back to their elite form, just in time.

The Seahawks Play The Giants This Weekend

Before the season, this game looked a little scary.  The Giants were pegged to contend for the NFC East, Eli Manning had a bunch of cool weapons on offense to throw to, and a defense that looked remarkable in 2016 had a year’s worth of experience and an off-season of moves to better itself.  Then, the Giants started out 0-5, and all of a sudden this game looked like one of the easier matchups on the Seahawks’ schedule.  THEN, the Giants went into Denver as something like 13-point underdogs last Sunday night and somehow managed to not just win, but DOMINATE the Broncos 23-10.

And now this game is scary again?

I’ll admit, I didn’t watch a lick of that Giants/Broncos game.  Like most everyone in America, I expected the Broncos to win easily.  I don’t know if I necessarily expected a blowout, or even a cover of the point spread, but I did think we’d be in for a boring, grind-it-out game where the Broncos would win comfortably by 7-10 points or so (with still a reasonable chance of it being a blowout victory).  It feels impressive that the Giants were able to run for 148 yards and a 4.6 yards per carry average against a quality defense like the Broncos.  It feels even more impressive that the Giants were able to win at all, considering Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall were out and are officially lost for the season, but, you know, last week was a crazy fucking week.  A lot of underdogs won outright.  Hell, this SEASON has been fucking crazy with the underdogs; it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before!

But, I digress.  The question remains:  are the Giants good or not?  Obviously, with 5 losses in their first 6 weeks, and all their injury issues at wide receiver, it feels impossible for them to make the playoffs.  I’m sure they’ll give it the good ol’ college try, but I can’t see them finishing any worse than 8-2 over the next 10 games and still making the post-season.  With the Eagles at 5-1, that probably puts the division out of reach, so they’d have to hope for a Wild Card berth at 9-7 in that scenario, which isn’t impossible, but again, I don’t know if I see 8 more wins on their schedule.

The Giants lost on the road to the Cowboys and Eagles, which feels reasonable.  Those are a couple of good teams.  They lost at home to the Lions, which isn’t out of the question, as you’re talking about a playoff team from a year ago (largely the same as they were), and a team looking to compete for the NFC North.  But, then you tack on a road loss to the Bucs (who look bad) and a home loss to the Chargers (who look worse) and I gotta tell you:  I think the Giants are NOT good.

In which case, this should be a win for the Seahawks, right?  I’m not saying it’ll be easy.  They’ve still got a quality defensive line that should give us fits (as they all do).  But, I mean, where are they getting their points from this Sunday?  Their best and healthiest offensive weapon is rookie tight end Evan Engram, who legitimately looks like he could be one of the better players at his position.  Second year wideout Sterling Shepard should be returning from an ankle injury, so there’s another.  But, I mean, come on.  I know we like to joke around about the Seahawks’ defense sucking against tight ends, but we’ve actually been vastly improved this year!  It looks like Kam Chancellor has taken more of an active role in guarding them one-on-one, and he’s shutting them down pretty good.  Instead of being the worst in the league, the Seahawks are right in the middle of the road, which is fine.  That sort of improvement is something you can take to the bank.  Engram will get his looks, but I hardly think he’ll be a dominant force like we’ve seen from other tight ends in years past.

As for Shepard, he looks okay, but he hasn’t made that leap to elite status (not with ODB hogging all the glory to date), and it’s questionable that he ever will.  He looks fine.  If Richard Sherman were to follow him all over the field, I have no question whatsoever that he’d be locked down, but something tells me that’s not the gameplan.  But, either way, Shaq Griffin has looked better and better every week, and I think he’d be fine against Shepard.

Which leaves their running game.  I know the Seahawks have gotten gashed this season, but that was by the likes of DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, and Carlos Hyde.  Those are some of the most talented and productive running backs in the league this season!  That having been said, this defense used to eat even the very best running backs for breakfast, so getting gashed at all is of great concern.  But, Orleans Darkwa?  Wayne Gallman?  Shane Vereen?  I’m supposed to be quaking in my boots over this triad of suck?

Even when the Giants had all the receivers in the world, they weren’t able to run the ball effectively.  It’s only last week – when they had no one to throw to – where they put all their effort into the running game (and Denver mysteriously didn’t load up to stop it).  That one will puzzle me to my last breath, but I guess you could say that since the Giants over the last 2-3 years haven’t put any sort of running game whatsoever on tape, the Broncos just weren’t expecting it and had no evidence on how it could theoretically be stopped?

Well, it’s a good thing the Seahawks were on BYE last week, because they had nothing else going on last Sunday and were able to watch every minute of that game.

It’s also good, because I think you’re going to see incremental improvement in the Seahawks’ run defense over the next few weeks.  There’s been a lot of turnover on the D-Line.  Tony McDaniel is gone.  Ahtyba Rubin is gone.  Those guys were instrumental in stuffing the run the last couple seasons.  Jarran Reed is getting more playing time.  Naz Jones is a rookie.  And Sheldon Richardson is new to our system.  As they get more experience in practice and games, with gap assignments and whatnot, I expect this unit to gel and return to its run-stopping roots.

So, I mean, if we stop the Giants’ running game, what do they have left?  Eli Manning?  Please.  He should be lunch meat, with or without Cliff Avril.

Speaking of which, that’s a really sad case right there.  Avril was knocked out of the Indianapolis game a few weeks back with a neck/spine issue (he was seen, right after the hit, shaking his arm as if he’d lost all feeling, which is pretty terrifying for him).  Ever since, he’s apparently been seen by every doctor on the planet, and it’s looking more and more like he’s headed for surgery and the Injured Reserve.  At which point, he’d be eligible to return in mid-to-late December.  But, given the nature of the injury, and the uncertainty around the surgical procedure, it’s possible he misses the rest of the year entirely.

It’s also possible he’s played his final game in the NFL, which is the biggest bummer of all.

It’s a serious blow to this defense, but not one that’s impossible to overcome.  It means stripping away some of our depth at a position of strength, which is always a bad thing.  It also means more of a role for Frank Clark.  It remains to be seen how that will change things.  Will more Frank Clark allow him an opportunity to step up and become a star in this league?  If so, that’s fantastic.  But, does a little Frank Clark go a long way, and will we see a decline in his production on a per-snap average due to overuse?

Avril is a stalwart.  He’s a pro.  You can always count on him.  He’s also still right there in the prime of his career, as pass-rushing defensive ends tend to age pretty well in this league compared to other positions.  Clark is still young, still learning, still growing.  I don’t believe he’s yet reached his full potential.  Here’s to hoping this accelerates his development and he becomes one of the greats in this league by season’s end.

As for the Seahawks’ offense, your guess is as good as mine.  That second half against the Colts feels more and more like an anomaly against a really bad team.  Say what you want about the Giants as a whole, but that defense isn’t bad.  I think they’re every bit as capable of making our lives miserable as the Rams, 49ers, and Packers.  In which case, I guess we’re in for another slow Russell Wilson start, another shitty performance by the running game, with the only signs of life coming in the final two minutes of each half.

Can we win this one 14-9?  With that Giants offense, I’d be furious if they reached double digits in points, so I’ll go out on a limb and say yes.  But, while a 14-9 victory is still a victory, and you’ll take them however you can get them, it’s still not something that inspires hope.

A good Seahawks team would come out and blow the doors off, winning 44-3 or some damn thing.  But, I can’t imagine a scenario where we don’t get more of the same.  For the same fucking reasons.

Only now, we’re down our second-best offensive lineman in Luke Joeckel (who used his BYE week to have a cleanup surgery on his knee, and will be out for a month or so).  In his place, we’re looking at a combo of Mark Glowinski (the starter at LG last season) and rookie Ethan Pocic (whose natural position is center, and who doesn’t really have much college experience on the left side of the line).  For the record, I expect Glowinski to get the start and the lion’s share of the snaps.  I also expect him to struggle, and within a week or two I expect Pocic to take over that job until Joeckel returns.  Hopefully I’m proven wrong.  Hopefully Glowinski takes his recent demotion from the RG spot to heart and returns like a rabid pitbull.  But, I just don’t think he has the talent to be a starter in this league.  Doesn’t mean he can’t have a long and pointless career as a backup (or move on to another team in the future and have great success, because he’s just not cut out for Tom Cable’s zone blocking scheme).

At running back, I think we’re all hoping for Thomas Rawls to take the bull by the horns, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a steady stream of handoffs to Eddie Lacy.  For what it’s worth, I still like Lacy and I think he fits this offense pretty well.  I think he’s a volume-dependant running back though, and I just don’t know if this offense, with this O-Line, has what it takes to give him the volume of carries he needs to succeed.

Here’s to hoping Russell Wilson gets some time to throw, though, because I think some serious gains can be had in the passing game.  The Giants are TERRIBLE against opposing tight ends, so you’d think Jimmy Graham would have a field day.  And, if they sell out to stop him, then it should open up opportunities for Baldwin, Richardson, and Lockett.  Again, though, Russell needs time to throw.  We’ll see.

All these games are important, but this one really feels big.  The Giants are still banged up, we’re coming off of a BYE, yeah it’s on the road across the country, but it’s a late afternoon game and we’ve had a lot of success playing in this stadium.  It’s also a conference game, which becomes vitally important for playoff seeding.  And, not for nothing, but the Rams went on the road and beat the Jags last week, regaining sole possession of first place in the NFC West.  They play Arizona in London this Sunday and could very well be 5-2 when the weekend is over.  We need to win just to keep pace with the Rams!  Who could’ve ever predicted saying that sentence before the season started?