Give Me A Break, John Schneider

You know what I’m sick and tired of hearing about? It’s not that I’m hearing about it constantly or anything. It’s not like it’s ruining my life. But, there’s a lot of chatter about what the Seahawks are going to do with their quarterback room. After Geno Smith, what’s going to happen? Is it running it back with Drew Lock? Is it going to be a rookie (maybe with that first pick, maybe after trading down, maybe trading into the second round somehow, maybe later in the draft)? Is it going to be a triad, with the rookie sitting for the year before moving on from the veterans in 2025? While there aren’t limitless possibilities, there are certainly some.

What I’m sick of hearing about, though, is Seahawks GM John Schneider telling us about his Green Bay Packers past, and how they would rarely let a year go by without drafting a quarterback. It’s been 14 years with the Seahawks now. 14 NFL Drafts. And two quarterbacks. One of them was Russell Wilson, and one of them was 7th rounder Alex McGough, a guy they couldn’t WAIT to cut and put on the practice squad before his first NFL season.

And what’s the excuse? Oh, none of the drafts broke the right way. Oh, we just didn’t find the right guy at the right spot. Oh, we had other needs.

I’m sorry, but that’s a load. What are we talking about? In 14 years, after 127 picks, you could only find TWO guys, and one of them didn’t even make the team out of the pre-season? In 2019 alone you drafted more wide receivers (3) than you have QBs in all your years here. In 2017, you drafted more safeties, and in 2016, you drafted more RBs!

I’m not buying it. There were quarterbacks to be had, quarterbacks that could have helped this team; you CHOSE not to pick any of them, and that’s your right. But, don’t blame the draft board, or the draft classes.

Sure, people can argue that we had Russell Wilson for so many years, and therefore didn’t NEED to pick one. That we had other holes we should’ve filled, and it would’ve been a waste of resources. But, you know what? Where did that get us? Did we win any more Super Bowls after that first one because we went away from the QB position? No we did not.

Those Packers teams he keeps talking about; did they keep drafting quarterbacks even though they had Hall of Famers in Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers? Damn right! How do you think they got Rodgers (and later Jordan Love) in the first place? Because they kept drafting quarterbacks, and were well positioned to maintain a high level of quarterback play as a result, for going on three generations now.

What did the Seahawks do? First they squandered Russell Wilson’s prime years, then they let him get old and complacent and overpaid, to the point where he wasn’t nearly as effective as he used to be. And now here we are, talking about running it back a THIRD time with Geno Smith and Drew Lock, two of the most uninspiring options I can think of.

Note: I didn’t say “bad”, I said “uninspiring”. They’re as inspiring as lukewarm white bread toast.

So, forgive me if I’m not buying what John Schneider is selling. If you’re so accustomed to drafting a quarterback most every year, then DO IT! Draft a quarterback this year! Or, just admit that it’s not actually a priority for you.

Seahawks Death Week: What Would Make Me Happy As A Fan?

There’s so much going on right now, I really can’t be bothered to keep up. How many interview requests have the Seahawks put in for, like a dozen? Any one of these guys could be amazing, and any one of these guys could be a total disaster. I’ll admit, between the Mariners, Huskies, and Seahawks, my confidence level is pretty much bottomed out at this point. So, I’m going to be inclined – pretty much throughout this entire offseason – to come at this from a pessimistic standpoint. The Mariners were already incredibly bad offensively for too much of 2023 to be successful, and the notion that a second hitting coach is going to be the thing to turn everyone around is asinine to say the least. The Huskies are in a very toxic place right now – that place being the college football landscape at large – and the notion that we’re going to turn around our fortunes by going heavy into recruiting sounds like a fairy tale.

I would say, for the Seahawks, it’s funny that the number one objective in John Schneider’s head coaching search is to maintain our positive culture, because right now that’s the ONLY thing we have going for us. We’re not in a great spot with our roster the way it is – bereft of elite-level talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage – we’re not in a great spot with our salary cap – with lots of aging/useless veterans commanding high salaries and just-as-high dead cap hits – and we’re not even all that well off with our draft capital – having given away our second rounder for half a year of Leonard Williams, and only acquiring an extra third rounder from Denver (with no compensatory picks for the fourth year in a row). They don’t give away Lombardi Trophies for “best culture”. And, if you don’t win, it’s amazing how quickly that culture can dissolve.

The one thing that does make me happy is having John Schneider at the helm, making all the important decisions. It’s impossible to ever know how much influence Pete Carroll had over personnel. My guess is, not a lot when it came to the draft, and probably too much when it came to veteran trades and free agency. Even then, I wonder about what we were told at Schneider’s original hiring – or at least what we assumed, coming from his Green Bay background – and what we’ve actually seen come to fruition here in Seattle: namely, that we would be drafting a quarterback nearly every year, even if we didn’t necessarily need one. Why have the Packers been so successful in carrying over from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers to now Jordan Love? Because they don’t miss an opportunity to take a chance at finding their Quarterback of the Future. It’s something the Seahawks let go straight to hell throughout the Russell Wilson era, and I believe it’s still setting us back to this very day.

So, that would also make me happy: having John Schneider in charge, and getting back to John Schneider-esque decisions. I believe we’ve had a couple of high-quality drafts the last two years. I also believe that the 2023 Seahawks underachieved based on the talent they have. If we can manage to keep the good drafts flowing, and marry that with a coaching staff that can get the most out of our younger guys, then I think there’s potential for a quick turnaround. Let’s eliminate some of these panic trades for aging vets, let’s dole out smart contracts to the right guys, let’s get rid of aging players a year too early vs. a year too late, and let’s trust in our ability to coach up young players immediately, to better take advantage of their inexpensive cost to our salary cap while they’re on rookie deals.

I couldn’t tell you who would make me happy to bring in as a head coach. I think Dan Quinn is probably the likeliest guy, and I also think he’s the least exciting candidate. I think Jim Harbaugh is the most intriguing, but I also don’t believe he will go anywhere if he doesn’t have full control over every part of the team, so that kinda rules him out. Of all the coordinators getting interviews, I think Ben Johnson is probably the most thrilling, but he’s also among the least-experienced names being bandied about, having just two years of OC experience with Detroit. Is his scheme something that’s revolutionizing the sport of football? Or did he just come up with the right team at the right time, who just so happened to have an elite collection of players? Is he the next Shanahan or McVay? I’m guessing probably not. But, is the next Shanahan or McVay even out there? Again, I’m guessing probably not.

The Seahawks have only had three successful head coaches in the franchise’s history: Chuck Knox, Mike Holmgren, and Pete Carroll. All three of them had previous NFL head coaching experience. Now, obviously, that’s not a guarantee, because Jim Mora Jr. also was previously a head coach in the NFL, and Dennis Erickson was a longtime head coach in college. But, it strikes me that the three best guys were all pretty huge names in the sport at the times of them being hired, and maybe there’s something to be said for that.

I’ve always liked Mike Vrabel. I think he’s smart and knows how to lead a team as much as he can lead a culture. He probably best fits in that mold of a prior NFL head coach who’s a big name and has a lot left to give to the game. But, he doesn’t seem to be a viable option for whatever reason. I know I’d be concerned about his desire to play older guys over young kids, but maybe that’s a perception I’ve falsely acquired over the years. Like with any coach, his success level is going to come down to the quality of the players around him, regardless of their age or experience.

I guess the biggest thing that would make me happy as a Seahawks fan is for them to cut the dead weight. I know these decisions are tough, I know these older guys have given us everything they had, and I know it might mean enduring a tough salary cap situation for a year. But, if we can make it through, there’s a real opportunity in 2025 and beyond. But, we have to understand what this team is right now: it’s not a Super Bowl contender. And it’s not one offseason (with one hand tied behind our backs thanks to lack of money and draft picks) away from being that contender. This is a two-year window. Year one is the tear down, and year two is the immediate rebuild.

K.Y.P. Know Your Personnel. One of the local basketball color guys used to say that all the time (I can’t remember if it was Marques Johnson or someone else), but it’s universal across all sports. Seahawks, K.Y.P! Figure it out, get rid of anyone who’s not part of the future, and let’s get this thing turned around. Hovering around 9-8 and a potential wild card spot isn’t going to make me happy. Competing – TRULY competing – for a Super Bowl title, THAT will make me happy.

The Seahawks Fired/Promoted Pete Carroll

This is always kind of a tricky time of year for a local sports blogger. Football’s over, baseball spring training might start in February, but the regular season doesn’t get going in earnest until the end of March. Husky basketball is usually a joke, I don’t know enough about (or watch enough of) the Kraken to be anything close to relevant writing about it. So, other than the occasional hot stove flurry, I’m usually struggling to find anything to write about on a daily basis.

But, lately, I’ve got TOO MUCH to write about! I’ve got blog posts banked for days! To the point where they’re in danger of needing significant re-writes if I actually get around to posting them!

Seahawks Death Week is an annual tradition on Seattle Sports Hell, where I devote a week’s worth of posts – almost always immediately following the end of our season, whenever the last game concludes – to the season that was and what to look forward to in the year ahead. It’s a good way to knock out a week’s worth of posts without really trying, saving some back-burner items for later. But, with the Huskies playing in the national championship, and with the Mariners really taking their sweet-ass time in adding to this roster, I’ve suddenly found myself with a back-log of posts, meaning Seahawks Death Week will start a week late.

But, I can’t let this news go too stale before saying something. Pete Carroll being relieved of his duties / being retained to be a consultant or whatever, is too big to ignore.

It is so bizarre – and pretty disingenuous – to see all these eulogies all over Twitter, all over the blog-o-sphere, and all over the talking heads on ESPN and the like. I get it, as Seahawks fans, we love Pete Carroll for what he did for this organization. He led us to our first Super Bowl championship. He was the greatest head coach we’ve ever had. We had an unparalleled run of success under Pete that, honestly, might not ever be matched or surpassed. We don’t know! Maybe that’s it; maybe 2012-2015 was as good as it will ever be, and we’ll never win another championship ever again. There are teams who have played countless decades without winning it all. It’s like winning the lottery, only harder, because so much more has to go right. No one ever said your teams have to win a certain number of championships in your lifetime.

Anyway, getting away from being too morbid, Pete Carroll was wonderful. I never thought he’d work out here, and he absolutely did. I was 100% wrong in my initial assessment of his original hiring.

But, it was also time for him to step aside. The franchise got SUPER stagnant. As I will outline in a future blog post, the defense has been among the worst in the last five years. He became too loyal to his guys, whether it’s the veteran players who’ve lost a step, or the incompetent coordinators who never deserved to be calling plays or devising schemes in the first place.

I’ll be the first to admit, I never thought he’d be let go at this time. I always figured nothing would happen until the team was eventually sold (likely in the next year or two). I just assumed Jody Allen would keep the status quo until the new owners took over, and let them make whatever decisions they wanted to make on the future of the Seahawks. I had HOPES that maybe we’d clean house a little bit and find new coordinators, but I’m guessing – given the way this all shook out – that Pete was reluctant to do even that.

For me, it was never so much about getting Pete out of there, it was 1) replacing Clint Hurtt with someone who knows what the fuck he’s doing, and 2) maybe seeing if we can find someone to replace Shane Waldron, who knows how to scheme a decent running game. Then, from there, I wanted to see us go after a quarterback in the draft, cut the old, dead weight from the roster, and really start rebuilding this thing from the ground up, with the young players we’ve accumulated over the last two drafts. Pete just as easily could’ve been there for all of that. But, if all of that wasn’t going to happen with Pete still here, then yes, he needed to go too.

I get it. I’m sure it’s devastating to fire people. Even though this is the line of work they all chose, I’m sure it never gets easy to mess with their livelihoods. But, if it gets so hard that you can’t do what needs to be done, then it’s probably time to step aside and find someone who can.

I’m not here to simply dance on his grave, but I’m also not here to give you the same reverential claptrap. I’m just telling it like it is. Pete was great, and also it’s time to move on.

It’s kind of funny that Alabama announced Nick Saban’s retirement shortly after Carroll’s goodbye press conference. It’s funnier still that this morning, Bill Belichick and the Patriots have parted ways. What’s next? Brett Favre’s going to come out of retirement again? Aaron Rodgers is going to purchase the Jets? Travis Kelce is going to have a three-way with Taylor Swift and Jake From State Farm on the 50 yard line during their game this weekend?

It’s also funny to see how many people are saying that it’s all but assured that Pete Carroll is going to make the NFL Hall of Fame. Are we sure? He’s currently 14th in wins in the NFL with 170. There are currently seven ahead of him who are NOT in the HOF (as coaches). Granted, Belichick and Andy Reid are two of those guys; but of the remaining five, four of them have been eligible for quite some time, and repeatedly overlooked. Granted, none of those four ever won a Super Bowl, but is that all it takes? One Super Bowl title gets you in, if you’ve coached long enough? Because Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan both have multiple titles (and the same number of wins), but they’ve yet to get in. Mike Holmgren has a title and another appearance, and only 9 fewer wins, and he doesn’t seem to be close to making it. It’s HARD getting in the HOF as a head coach! It’s hard getting there period, but I don’t know if Pete is the slam dunk people are saying he is.

I’m sure a lot of that sentiment is just that. It’s emotional people, in the moment, trying to pay tribute. And it’s surely an interesting debate to have. Personally, I’m of the opinion that he should be in. But, I also think all the guys ahead of him in wins total should be in, even the ones who never won it all. I like a big Hall of Fame. The more the merrier! Let our favorite people be honored for the greatness they showed.

I can’t sit here and tell you this is a sad day. I feel bad for him, I guess. But, I also feel like he had plenty of opportunities to get this thing turned around, and for whatever reason, the Seahawks just never recovered after the L.O.B. era ended. That falls on him. And it didn’t look like it was going to get fixed anytime soon.

There’s now a couple ways this can go. Thankfully, we have John Schneider at the helm, so there’s some continuity there. That effectively eliminates the first way this can go: a total tear-down and rebuild. I don’t THINK that’s going to be what happens, because I have to believe a lot of these guys on the roster are still Schneider’s guys. And that’s a good thing; I don’t feel like we NEED a total tear-down and rebuild.

There’s a core here we can still build around, but that leads us to our other way this can go: cutting out the vets and really taking this youth movement to its logical conclusion.

When the Seahawks were at their best, they were the youngest team in football. That needs to happen again. I know we’re all jealous of the 49ers and some of these top-notch AFC teams, to varying degrees (Chiefs, Dolphins, Ravens, Bengals, Bills), but you know who I’m jealous of the most? The Packers. They’re the youngest team in football, they’ve just found out that Jordan Love is going to be The Guy for the foreseeable future, and they’re back in the playoffs yet again, poised to go on another run of excellence.

Give me that. Ideally, without the retread head coach of a Dan Quinn or even Mike Vrabel.

Of course, the funniest part of all of this is Russell Wilson’s online reaction. Please. With what we know about what went down as he broke up with the Seahawks, it’s about as phony as it gets. Perfectly on brand, but also extremely obnoxious.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: Blitzed In The Finals

My Splinter League team – The Annexation Of Puerto Rico – lost to 50 Shades Of Gritty in the finals, 188.56 to 168.37. She had CeeDee Lamb and D.J. Moore going, which is really all you need to know. My team was good, but it was outclassed in this one. Really, she deserved to win; her team showed up and blew the doors off in both playoff games.

Last week was also disappointing because in my third league, I lost in the Consolation Bracket Finals, which may or may not have determined who gets the #1 pick next year. It was another instance where my team was good, but as fate would have it, I was going up against the team who’d have the very best game. 164.14 for Me So Zorny to 142.98 for RUM HAM! Considering my team averaged 95 points per game, I’d say I really did a number on those Consolation Bracket playoffs, but alas, it wasn’t enough.

So, that’s another fantasy season in the books. Regarding my main Dynasty League team, Sloane N Steady is our champion. He beat me in the first round of the playoffs – thanks to my stupid tinkering – so the two dudes who lost to him have me to thank. In following along, if I had NOT tinkered and actually won my first playoff game, I still would have lost the following week. But, there’s a very good chance I would’ve ended up in 3rd place overall, which would’ve been my best finish in this league in the Trophy Era, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t know how to receive this information. My team is good, but I’m also an idiot, I guess is the main takeaway.

Now, we head into the long offseason. At some point, we’ll have a post-season meeting to exchange the trophy and various monies, set a draft date, a keeper date, and have a pre-season meeting to discuss new rules/business. Assuming everything stays relatively the same, I’ve got a dynasty team to plan for.

The way we have it set up, you keep a starting roster, and re-draft your bench. Here’s who I’ve got to choose from:

Quarterbacks

  • Jordan Love
  • Justin Fields

I’m locked into these two, after dragging Bryce Young’s carcass across the entire season. Love ended up as the 6th-highest scoring QB in our league, ahead of Patrick Mahomes no less! By a good margin! Justin Fields ended up 18th, but he also missed all or parts of 5 games with injury. I’m happy with these two guys, but I’m also going to draft another young QB relatively early next year, likely with my 5th overall pick.

Love looks like he’ll be the guy in Green Bay for a good, long while. I’ll be interested in what the Bears end up doing with Fields. They have the #1 pick, and if it were me, I’d be on them to draft Caleb Williams. That being said, you can’t deny Fields has looked light years better as a passer this season, to go along with his elite running abilities. My guess is they keep Fields, trade down, compile a ton of picks, and see if they can make it work. Either way, I’m going to need Fields to stay healthy if I want my team to go anywhere next year.

Running Backs

  • Tony Pollard
  • Kyren Williams
  • Kenneth Walker
  • Zach Charbonnet
  • Ty Chandler

At this point, I’m leaning towards keeping Pollard, Williams, and Walker. But, obviously, a lot can change between now and the time I have to formally declare my keepers. Williams finished as the 5th highest scoring RB, and that’s after missing FOUR games! He’s a lock, for sure. Walker is just special, and feels like another lock for me (I’ll try to re-draft Charbonnet to have that handcuff again next year). My goal is to keep three RBs, since they’re usually so injury-prone. So, that would likely mean Pollard is back (he finished a disappointing 15th among RBs), but I can’t force it. I’ve got some REALLY interesting wide receivers to pick from, and even though they generally are easier to pick up in the draft, I might be better served keeping my FLEX from that pile.

We’ll see how the offseason goes. Ty Chandler is only a possibility if he gets a MASSIVE vote of confidence this offseason, works his tail off, and looks special in pre-season. Otherwise, I don’t know if I can trust the Vikings’ run game. I’ll also be curious to see what the Cowboys do in the draft; it wouldn’t shock me if they took a RB relatively high to compete against Pollard. Either way, this feels like the last time I keep Pollard; hopefully it isn’t the last time I keep a Cowboys RB.

Wide Receivers

  • CeeDee Lamb
  • Rashee Rice
  • Tank Dell
  • Jordan Addison
  • Drake London

Right off the bat, Lamb is a lock. He finished comfortably as the #1 scoring WR in the league. The only other guy on my team to finish in the Top 25 is Rice, who was 21st. I will say, for what it’s worth, that D.K. Metcalf only finished 19th, so it’s not like it was super-dumb of me to not keep him from last year. That being said, Christian Watson … let’s move on.

At the moment, it comes down to Rice and Dell. Assuming Dell comes back with no reported issues, it’s actually an interesting argument. Rice has been coming on in that Chiefs offense, but it’s still unclear whether or not they fully trust him to be the #1 guy behind Kelce. My concern is that his fate is being a solid possession receiver, but he never makes the leap to a true top dog. Either way, he’s got the best QB situation of all my guys. But, Dell is no slouch. He seems special, he got off to a fast start, but clearly there’s an injury concern I have to deal with. Dell is also undersized, but he seems to have incorporated himself into that offense a lot more. I’ll have to monitor both closely.

As for Addison and London, it all depends on who their respective teams bring in at QB. If they have bums throwing to them, then they’re going back on the scrap heap. Addison is at a further disadvantage since Justin Jefferson is also on his team and commanding lots of targets. London is someone I’m rooting for to find a competent thrower, as he really seems like he has an elite skillset. He could be another Mike Evans, if he just had the right guy getting him the ball.

Tight Ends

  • T.J. Hockenson
  • Trey McBride

One of the best moves I made late in the year was to pick up McBride as a free agent. It looks even smarter now that Hockenson has gotten hurt, and may not make it back in time to start the regular season. I have the 3rd and 8th highest scoring tight ends (and Hockenson might’ve been 2nd or 1st if he didn’t get hurt). McBride’s standing is even more impressive when you consider he was playing behind Zach Ertz and was hardly utilized for half the season. I’m leaning towards McBride given his youth and health, but it’s been a wonderful experience having Hockenson around.

Kicker

  • Dustin Hopkins

He finished 5th among kickers. That being said, I’ll almost certainly be looking for a replacement next year. For what it’s worth, Evan McPherson finished 14th, so that just goes to show you what you can do in kicker free agency. It’s always kind of a crapshoot.

Defense

  • N.Y. Jets

Sadly, we finished 10th. I blame injuries, I blame bad luck, and I mostly blame a stinker of an offense that kept giving opponents short fields. Regardless, not quite the juggernaut I was hoping for. We’ll see what shakes out next year, but … yeah I dunno.

It’s too early, but if I had to choose now, my keepers would be: Love, Fields, Williams, Walker, Pollard, Lamb, Rice, McBride, Hopkins, Jets. Thankfully, I have a lot of time left to make my decisions.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: If A Tree Falls In The Woods …

My season ended with a 147.85 to 143.05 victory over You Dropped Your Dildo in the 5 vs. 6 game of the fantasy playoffs. Sounds exciting, right? It’s less thrilling when you realize my opponent couldn’t have given two shits about this game. My hunch is, with the holidays and general fantasy apathy following a first round playoff exit, he didn’t check his team at all. As such, Ja’Marr Chase was left in his starting lineup, even though he was ruled out pretty early in the week. He could’ve easily subbed in Jonathan Taylor from his bench (moving his flex WR into the starting WR spot) for an additional 10.3 points.

So, I was essentially gifted this victory. Feels pretty hollow, but I’ll take it. As my prize, I get to draft 5th instead of 6th next year.

I’m kind of having a tough time grappling with my 147.85 points. Seems low when you consider I actually got good games out of both of my QBs (30.15 for Love, 26.2 for Fields). If I got that every week from those two guys next year, I’d take it in a heartbeat! I even got good games out of my two consistently-great skill guys in Lamb and Kyren Williams (25.2 and 16.4, respectively). But, the Jets only got me 12, Rashee Rice only got me 11.7, and everyone else – including my bench – got under 10. On the one hand, it’s nice to know my decision-making didn’t kill me once again; on the other hand, it sucks knowing that my team totally shit the bed, and if it weren’t for a guy taking the rest of the season off early, I would be drafting one spot worse.

I’ll also take solace in the fact that I would’ve lost this week anyway (had I won last week and advanced in the playoffs), as three of the top four remaining teams outscored me (and the fourth team wouldn’t have played me this week anyway, since he was another wild card team like me). So, blowing it last week was actually a good thing! I wouldn’t have advanced to the finals anyway, so this bought me a couple of extra spots in the draft.

Look, I’m just trying to cling to whatever silver lining I can find.

I should point out, for reference, that I dropped Bryce Young late last week. I was resolute in my decision to not keep him for next year, and as such, I decided holding onto Ty Chandler – in case the Vikings make him their everyday starter next year – was a little slice of upside, giving me yet another option for a potential dynasty RB. Who knows? Maybe this offseason he tears it up in the weight room and dominates the pre-season? It’s always good to have options.

So, of course, what happened this weekend? Bryce Young had the very best game of his professional career! He’ll be a stud in 2024, mark my words.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. In one of my other leagues, I advanced to the Consolation Bracket Finals, and I hear this league is giving the winner of the Consolation Bracket the first overall draft pick next year. We’ll see, it’s my brother’s friend’s league, so I’m only half-conscious about the actual rules and regulations.

The real good news comes with my Splinter League. Last year, my team Puppy Monkey Baby defeated Vinegar Strokes for the league championship. This year? My team The Annexation Of Puerto Rico is going up against his wife, 50 Shades Of Gritty for the league championship.

I’ve had pretty great teams in this league the last two years. A LOT of luck goes into that, but for whatever reason, I’ve just been locked in during the draft. Neither season has seen me making too many roster changes. Why can’t I transfer this way of fantasy football ownership to my main league?

Anyway, here is my lineup for the championship:

  • Josh Allen (QB) vs. NE
  • Dak Prescott (QB) vs. Det
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR) @ Dal
  • Puka Nacua (WR) @ NYG
  • Rachaad White (RB) vs. NO
  • Bijan Robinson (RB) @ Chi
  • Brandon Aiyuk (FLEX) @ Was
  • Jake Ferguson (FLEX) vs. Det
  • Kansas City (DEF) vs. Cin

It’s really the perfect league: no mandatory tight ends, no kickers, two flex spots, and five bench spots. On my bench, I have Tyler Allgeier (I’ve had both ATL running backs from the jump, which has been a nice little bit of peace of mind, as I so rarely get to enjoy such a pure handcuff situation), Ty Chandler (who didn’t look great last week, and may be looking at more of a timeshare situation with Mattison this weekend), Tee Higgins (who I am reluctant to start against my defense, especially since what are the odds he has three great weeks in a row after such an up-and-down season), Philly’s defense, and Matthew Stafford (who is playing some elite ball of late, but I’m not allowed to play three quarterbacks, and there’s no way I’m benching Josh Allen or Dak Prescott in the fantasy finals).

When I say I’ve been lucky this year, I’m mostly looking at the quarterbacks. I had the #2 overall draft pick in this league; Patrick Mahomes went #1, affording me the “consolation prize” of Allen (in this league, QB points are so high, it generally means that most top tier quarterbacks are gone by the first or second rounds). It’s a big shift from my drafting strategy LAST year, when I was picking near the bottom of the round, and waited until later in the draft to address my QB spots. I banked hard on a couple of bounce-back guys in Dak and Stafford, and both have come through like gangbusters.

I’ve also pretty much only rostered the three running backs I have all year (there was a spell where I had Kareem Hunt, when Atlanta was on BYE). White has been a revelation for me, but he wasn’t so great early in the season. For a few weeks there, I opted to roll with both Falcons RBs and just hoped they’d combine for something close to 20 points.

In this league, you live and die by your WR production. With two flex spots, if you’re not loading up on RBs, then you potentially need up to 4 WRs doing the most damage. I lucked into grabbing Nacua after week 1, but that was counter-balanced by Tee Higgins being largely hurt or underachieving. St. Brown and Aiyuk have been my rocks, but I’ll tell ya, I would be WAY more confident if I still had Tank Dell. Losing him has thrown my second flex spot into flux. I like Ferguson as a steady 10-point threat, and honestly I’m hoping that’s enough. High floor, low ceiling, can’t lose!

50 Shades of Gritty has lingered near the top of the league all year. This is a 4-team playoff, and all four of us were 10-5. I scored the most points, which gave me the 1-seed, and the easy 200.17 to 126.65 victory over my brother, Beer Thirty. I would’ve outscored both teams in the other playoff game, but it would’ve been much closer. Here is Gritty’s team:

  • Geno Smith (QB) vs. Pit
  • Derek Carr (QB) @ NO
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. Det
  • D.J. Moore (WR) vs. Atl
  • Jahmyr Gibbs (RB) @ Dal
  • D’Andre Swift (RB) vs. Ari
  • James Conner (FLEX) @ Phi
  • Michael Pittman Jr. (FLEX) vs. LV
  • Baltimore (DEF) vs. Mia

She’s got Godwin, JSN, and Addison on her bench, as well as Brian Robinson (up against the 49ers defense) and Tennessee’s defense (@ Hou). I don’t see how anyone could bench the Ravens’ defense given the way they’re playing, but Miami is always formidable.

Lamb scares me, of course. He’s been a true #1 receiver all year, and I have Dak as my quarterback, so they’re likely to match in points. I always refer to this as the wide receiver “taking” my quarterback’s points, since QBs are supposed to outscore all position players. My only hope is Ferguson getting all of Dak’s TD passes.

I don’t love her quarterbacks, but all of her running backs look amazing, and Pittman is an under-the-radar stud. I am very much going to have my hands full in this one.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: And Just Like That, He’s Gone

There’s the Glass Half Full reason why I lost in the first round of the playoffs, or the Glass Half Empty That Makes Me Want To Put The Barrel Of A Fucking Gun In My Mouth reason why I lost in the first round of the playoffs. The first reason allows me to pass the buck and curse the football gods; the second reason is all on my own fucking stupidity.

Glass Half Full: the Cowboys fucking stunk up the joint against the Bills on Sunday. They managed all of one offensive TD, and luckily it did go to CeeDee Lamb. But, regardless, this was not the scoring festival we were all expecting. Lamb and Pollard combined for 26.3 points, both underperforming expectations. One extra reception for 12 yards by either of them – or, really, anyone on my roster – would’ve bridged the gap (which ended up being 142.45 to 140.30).

There’s also a Mickey Mouse addendum to the Glass Half Full rationale. I got a very timely TD reception by Rashee Rice this week, who predictably has come on over the last month. The only problem? It was a shovel pass initiated by my opponent’s running back – who took a direct shotgun snap from the center, even though Patrick Mahomes was RIGHT THERE next to him – Jerick McKinnon, who got credit for the TD pass. Unfuckingbelievable; you can’t make this up.

The Glass Half Empty Reason Why I Want to Die is because, as always, I tinkered when I didn’t need to. I had Ty Chandler locked and loaded into my flex. It was a savvy move to pick him up in the first place, and indeed he crushed it to the tune of 24.7 points this week. The only problem is: I had not-enough confidence in his abilities or the Vikings’ offense’s abilities. When I heard the Commanders were down to one healthy running back – Antonio Gibson – and projected them to be in a shootout of sorts with the Rams, I figured – at the very least – Gibson would be in line for a ton of checkdown receptions, and maybe even scamper one of them into the endzone. Instead, he finished with 8.5 points. The fact that McKinnon was available at all – and I could’ve picked HIM up instead – only adds to my frustration, as he finished with 18.2. Shit man, I could’ve gone with any of my bench guys and won! Addison had 29.1, Walker had 20.2, and McBride also had 20.2; but who saw THAT coming?!

What can you do? Justin Fields finished with 9.3 points. That game ended with an intercepted Hail Mary that was very nearly caught for a miracle touchdown. If the ball falls harmlessly incomplete, I win. If the ball is caught by the Bear who bobbled it, I win walking away. Instead, mine is a fantasy life made for suffering.

Also the Jets’ defense – a unit I’ve touted all season – got me a whopping 3 points. Get a single pick. Limit the Dolphins to a field goal instead of a TD one time, and I win. Conversely, he had the Ravens’ defense. If the Jags could’ve scored seven more fucking points, I would’ve won.

When a game is that close, there are any number of things you can point to. But, in the end, my team stunk up the joint.

So, here I am, saddled with the 5 vs. 6 game. It’s outside of the Consolation Bracket – so I don’t even get the reward of a top overall draft pick – and then my season is over, a week before everyone else. The best I can hope for is winning this one, and “earning” the 5th draft pick next year; worse case scenario is I get the 6th pick.

This leaves me with nothing else but to consider my keepers for next year. One cool thing is that I have the #1 waiver priority. I haven’t made an approved waiver claim all year, when I started with the #2 priority. The only claim I tried to make was for Will Levis, but the #1 priority guy got him.

If I’m going to use it, I have to use it this week. We’re not allowed to make any claims after our season ends, and since this upcoming week is my final week, it’s now or never. And since I was the one who waived Ty Chandler, I can’t pick him up until he passes through and becomes a free agent. That’s too bad, because he could be an interesting one for next season, especially if the Vikings are looking to move on from Mattison.

The only other guy even remotely interesting from a dynasty perspective is Drake London. So, I made my first approved waiver claim on him, dropping Gibson. I’ll tell ya, the odds of me keeping London are incredibly low. I’m fairly committed to keeping three running backs, as long as they’re good, because it’s always so much more difficult to find great RBs. That means I can only keep two receivers, and one of them is already locked into being CeeDee Lamb (barring a devastating offseason injury). Among my options for the other WR spot are Tank Dell, Jordan Addison, Rashee Rice, and now Drake London.

Of the four, only London is a true #1 type of receiver, but unfortunately he might be in the very worst offensive set-up. He’s only keeper-worthy if the Falcons fire their coaching staff and go out and get an amazing quarterback a la Kirk Cousins or something. If they go out and sign Cousins, I’d keep London in a heartbeat! Otherwise, I’ll be looking elsewhere.

Addison might be the most talented of the remaining three, but the Vikings are a huge question mark at the QB position, so it probably won’t be him. Tank Dell is coming off of an injury, but it shouldn’t prevent him from returning by the start of the regular season; he’s in a great offensive scheme, with a terrific QB. Rice is likely to finish the season as the best formal wide receiver on the team with the best living quarterback. He also has a smaller sample size of being great, and seems like more of a possession receiver than a true #1. I think it’ll depend on the moves the Chiefs make this offseason; I’ll be curious to see where they end up going in the draft.

It’s good to have lots of options, though. I’ve got multiple players at every position except defense and kicker that I’d be happy to keep for next year. So, I can sit back, see how things shake out, and still end up with a playoff-calibre team next year. Whether or not it’s a championship team will depend on a number of factors, chief among them LUCK.

And not repeatedly making stupid decisions in the most important moments of the season.

In my final game of the season, I face You Dropped Your Dildo, who had a heartbreaking loss of his own last week, losing by 0.15, with Dak and Ekeler having truly abysmal games. Here’s my lineup:

  • Jordan Love (QB) @ Car
  • Justin Fields (QB) vs. Ari
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ Mia
  • Rashee Rice (WR) vs. LV
  • Tony Pollard (RB) @ Mia
  • Kyren Williams (RB) vs. NO
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) vs. Det
  • Trey McBride (TE) @ Chi
  • Dustin Hopkins (K) @ Hou
  • N.Y. Jets (DEF) vs. Was

Walker on the road against a tough Tennessee run defense is a no go for me. Addison having back-to-back great weeks with a third string quarterback seems iffy. London, as I mentioned, is unplayable on this particular Falcons team. I don’t love throwing a second tight end in my lineup, nor do I love him going up against a Bears defense that’s coming on. But, McBride is a baller, to the point that I’m seriously considering keeping him over Hockenson next year.

My opponent has these guys going:

  • Dak Prescott (QB) @ Mia
  • Lamar Jackson (QB) @ SF
  • Mike Evans (WR) vs. Jax
  • Jaylen Waddle (WR) vs. Dal
  • Austin Ekeler (RB) vs. Buf
  • Joe Mixon (RB) @ Pit
  • David Njoku (TE) @ Hou
  • Garrett Wilson (WR) vs. Was
  • Jake Elliott (K) vs. NYG
  • Pittsburgh (DEF) vs. Cin

This is a great team, weakened by Ja’Marr Chase likely being sidelined this weekend. Nevertheless, this team is better than mine, so I fully expect to have the 6th draft pick when all is said and done next year.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: Back In The Saddle Again!

It’s been a minute since I’ve been in the playoffs in this league. Considering it’s a 10-team league and 60% of the teams actually make the playoffs? That’s pretty terrible. Last year I finished in 9th place in the regular season, and dead last in the Consolation Bracket. In 2021, I finished in 10th place in the regular season and second-to-last in the Consolation Bracket. In 2020, I snuck into the playoffs as a 6-seed, lost in the first round, and lost again in the 5th place game. In 2019, I was 8th. 2018 was the last time I cracked the top four, and ended up in 4th place.

The last time I was a legitimate contender for this league? You have to go all the way back to 2010, when I came in second. In 2009, I won it all, but 2010 was the first year of the Trophy Era. I do not have my name on that trophy; it’s a sore spot for me. I’ve won other leagues, but not this one. We’ve morphed from just being a league for fun, to being a league for fun and money, to being a keeper league with a trophy, to being a dynasty league. And ever since we introduced keepers, and slowly increased the number of keepers until now – where we’re keeping a full starting lineup, including 1 flex, a kicker, and a defense – I’ve been in Quarterback Hell. It’s been so bad that I’ve essentially been in rebuilding mode since 2019, desperately trying to figure out my two QB spots.

High first round picks galore have been used on the Next Big Thing. It started with Jameis Winston and Carson Wentz. It evolved into Daniel Jones and Tom Brady’s last year in New England (when it looked like he was cooked), in an ill-fated trade that saw me give away Tyreek Hill. Then, there was my big Tua campaign as a rookie, when he looked like he was going to be a noodle-armed nobody. There was Mac Jones and Justin Fields, just PRAYING that one of them would pan out. That’s been the last two seasons, in fact, while I also took a flier on Jordan Love as a late-2022 pick-up.

I kept Love and Fields heading into 2023, and it honestly looked like more of the same ol’ bullshit. Fields was erratic early, got hurt, and it looked like his team once again was letting him fail. Love seemed to get off to a hot start, but was VERY turnover-prone for a while there. I picked up Cousins in the draft to have some competent depth, but we all know how that ended. And, of course, I made Bryce Young my first pick (over C.J. Stroud), who has been languishing on my bench all season.

But, you know what else I did? Through it all, I made some pretty shrewd moves over the last couple years of dynasty play. I locked down CeeDee Lamb and targeted him as a guy worth keeping as a rookie. I handcuffed Ezekiel Elliott with Tony Pollard and haven’t missed a beat with owning the Dallas backfield all this time. I got T.J. Hockenson off waivers, I’ve had the Jets defense the last two years, I’ve managed to keep a quality kicker (Cincy’s guy the last two years, Cleveland’s guy this year). I drafted Kenneth Walker as a rookie (and handcuffed him midseason with Charbonnet). And this year, I set up my bench pretty effectively outside of the QB spot. I grabbed Kyren Williams as a free agent. I drafted Jordan Addison (who was great when Cousins was healthy), I picked up Tank Dell, Trey McBride, and Rashee Rice (all of which look like stars going forward). Frankly, I have so many players I like, it’s a shame I can’t keep some of these bench guys! At the very least, I can prevent other people from keeping them, and therefore afford myself a chance at drafting them next year.

For the last two years, I’ve felt like my team is as complete as can be, outside of the QB spots. Last year, the situation was so dire, I once again found myself near the bottom of the league, with a real stark situation on my hands heading into 2023. But, Fields is healthy again, and is looking MUCH improved as a passer. And Love has taken a significant step forward (this past Monday notwithstanding), after looking like a guy I might have to cut at some point. Hell, I almost traded him away, but the guy who wanted him (a Packers fan) thought I was asking too much in return (a Packer tax, as it were).

I don’t know if I’m a legitimate playoff contender or not. I mean, I’m in the playoffs – and I just leapfrogged my first round opponent for the 4-seed after beating him pretty handily (153.25 to 125.40) in Week 14 – but can I win it all? I do have the third-most points scored in the league, and that’s with three separate 2-game losing streaks, and a significant mid-season lull where I was averaging under 130 points in five out of six weeks (my overall weekly average for the season is over 150, for frame of reference). And, for the first time in I don’t know how many years, I feel like I’ve at least got a handle on this quarterback situation (barring injury) for at least the next month. If not maybe the next year(s) to come.

I’ve long said I don’t need the best of the best. I don’t need Mahomes and Allen. I just need competent guys who can score in the 20’s, and once in a while get me in the 30’s. Who aren’t a regular threat to get me less than 10. I feel like there’s a pretty solid floor with Fields and his rushing ability (again, when healthy), and I feel like the sky might be the limit with Love, as he’s able to develop with a pretty nice set of young receivers.

It’ll be great having the luxury of going out and drafting just a competent veteran backup (a la Cousins or Stafford) next year, instead of trying to scramble to predict who the next rookie stud is going to be. Considering I’m definitely not drafting in the Top 4, and very well might not draft until the Bottom 4, it’s a good thing I’m able to have this level of confidence. Now, it’s just a matter of going out and winning the games that need to be won.

The playoffs start this week. Once again, I’m playing Sloane N Steady in the 4 vs. 5 matchup. Here is my lineup:

  • Jordan Love (QB) vs. TB
  • Justin Fields (QB) @ Cle
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ Buf
  • Rashee Rice (WR) @ NE
  • Tony Pollard (RB) @ Buf
  • Kyren Williams (RB) vs. Was
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) @ Cin
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) vs. Phi
  • Dustin Hopkins (K) vs. Chi
  • N.Y. Jets (DEF) @ Mia

I don’t have a lot of great options on my bench. Walker is going up against Philly’s defense, which is notoriously stingy against the run. But, Trey McBride is going up against the 49ers (stingy against TEs, and will probably dominate Arizona from start to finish); Addison is dealing with a new starting QB in Nick Mullens; and I can’t be sure if Christian Watson is healthy enough to be worth playing. Walker feels like a safe bet; he looked solid against the 49ers, and seemed to come out of that game without any aggravation to his oblique. Plus, Philly’s defense has looked shaky has hell recently, and this is a Kitchen Sink game for the Seahawks; as much of a must-win as it gets, in their minds, anyway.

I’m VERY intrigued by Addison, especially if Justin Jefferson is out this week, and Nick Mullens is under center. Mullens is at least somewhat competent. What’s giving me pause there is the fact that I don’t know if I want to rely THAT much on Mullens, when I’ve already got his TE in play.

As for Watson, he’s looking like he’ll be a week or two away from full strength, so I dropped him for Ty Chandler, the Vikings’ backup RB. Mattison is looking doubtful to go this week, and my opponent might have a need for an emergency RB in his lineup, so I thought I’d play the waiver game a bit. Besides, I’ve been saying all year that the Vikings have been looking for every excuse to bench Mattison, why couldn’t Chandler be an improvement?

Here is Sloane N Steady’s lineup:

  • Derek Carr (QB) vs. NYG
  • Will Levis (QB) vs. Hou
  • Brandon Aiyuk (WR) @ Ari
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR) vs. Den
  • Isiah Pacheco (RB) @ NE
  • Travis Etienne (RB) vs. Bal
  • Kyle Pitts (TE) @ Car
  • Michael Pittman (WR) vs. Pit
  • Evan McPherson (K) vs. Min
  • Baltimore (DEF) @ Jax

He scored an inordinately low amount of points last week. Pacheco was out early in the week with an injury; Gus Edwards in his place stunk up the joint. Carr returned from injury, but couldn’t put up more than 14 points. Amon-Ra St. Brown had an anomaly of a bad game with 5.10 points. The Ravens’ defense gave up a ton of points to the Rams. And no one individual player scored over 20 points. Can’t win that way!

I expect bounce-backs galore this week. I think Levis can have a monster game against Houston. I think St. Brown will be force-fed at will. I think Aiyuk will have a Deebo-like game. Pacheco will likely be back and making lives miserable. And I could see the Ravens really smashing the Jags.

It’s going to be tough. I don’t LOVE my matchups. But, my guys are going to have to figure out a way to get the job done. Otherwise, it’s going to be a HUGE failure of a season. It all comes down to this week. What I dread the most. All the marbles riding on one single game. Good grief.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: Tanks For The Memories

Week 13 was kind of fucked from an injury perspective. All across the league, very important players went down with a range of maladies. Some are short term, some might not keep them out at all. But, some are season-enders, and some are fantasy season-enders, which is all I really care about.

I had Tank Dell in two leagues. In this one, where I clinched a playoff berth thanks to a 152.95 to 138.85 victory over Toot Cannons, and in my Splinter League, where I was in first place heading into last week, before losing by 24 points and falling into second. There’s a slim chance I drop out of the playoffs entirely in that league over the next two weeks – now that I’m down both Dell and Christian Kirk – the injury bug is decidedly NOT my friend.

Dell’s goose egg in this league very nearly cost me my victory. I somehow also endured a goose egg from Terry McLaurin (who is getting less Scary by the week in that offense), which goes to show how tough of a season Toot Cannons is having. I will say that I got some great games out of Jordan Love, CeeDee Lamb, Tony Pollard, Zach Charbonnet (who was a last-minute addition to my lineup), and Trey McBride. If I had given it the proper thought, given Dell’s injury designation during the week, I would’ve swapped him out for Kyren Williams, but that’s neither here nor there.

After I lost Dell, I picked up Rashee Rice as a free agent (prior to the Chiefs game starting), dropping that Cleveland QB I’m never going to keep in a million years. Rice has seen his targets and points increase the last two weeks, as the Chiefs have to be desperate at this point to promote one of their receivers, if for no other reason than to take some of the pressure off of Travis Kelce. I have Rice in another league and have been waiting around for him to start taking off; hopefully he turns into a League Winner for me down the stretch.

I also – after waiver guys reverted back to free agents – picked Christian Watson back up, dropping Scary Terry. It’s time. He’s currently the 29th ranked WR and that’s bound to go down after this BYE week. I don’t understand why he’s not better, why he’s not more dependable. I don’t understand why Howell isn’t throwing him the ball more – he often gets ignored for most of the game, only to score some garbage time points in the 4th quarter after they’re already losing by a ton – and I don’t understand why he isn’t more of a target in the red zone. 2 TDs is ridiculous for a scoring offense that isn’t THAT bad. More than anything, he’s supposed to have a high floor in PPR leagues, and that’s decidedly not the case. With all the uncertainty around that team – surely to have a new coaching staff next year – McLaurin isn’t someone I’m even remotely thinking about keeping. He’s also got a BYE this week, followed by tough matchups against the Rams, Jets, and 49ers the rest of the way. I was never going to want to start him anyway. Watson, at least, is coming on in a big way (until he suffered that injury late last week). He was my keeper from last year, and if he finishes this season strong, he’ll at least be in the running to be a keeper next year. Still leaning towards Dell at the moment, but you never know. If nothing else, Watson is the highest-upside receiver left on the market for these upcoming playoffs, so I’ll gladly welcome him back into the fold.

This week, I’m going up against Sloane N Steady, who is in 4th place, and looks to be my first round playoff opponent, which means I’ll get the opportunity to face him in back-to-back weeks. 4th place plays 5th place (which I’m in); 3rd place plays 6th place, before the winners move on to play the top two teams on a first round BYE.

As this game is effectively meaningless, I’m not going to sweat the outcome. I’ve got McBride on a BYE. I’ve got Bryce Young (hopefully) forever on my bench the rest of the way. I’ve got both Seahawks running backs on my bench because they’re playing the 49ers. Seems like a bad week to try to bring back Kenneth Walker from an oblique injury; here’s hoping they play it safe.

With that out of the way, I don’t have any real decisions to make. Here’s my Week 14 lineup:

  • Jordan Love (QB) @ NYG
  • Justin Fields (QB) vs. Det
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. Phi
  • Jordan Addison (WR) @ LV
  • Tony Pollard (RB) vs. Phi
  • Kyren Williams (RB) @ Bal
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) @ LV
  • Rashee Rice (WR) vs. Buf
  • Dustin Hopkins (K) vs. Jax
  • N.Y. Jets (DEF) vs. Hou

Addison has seen a dramatic downturn in his production with the absence of Kirk Cousins. Now that Justin Jefferson is nearing his return, really the last thing I want to do is start Addison. I will be looking for every opportunity to bench him when the playoffs start next week, up to and including starting two tight ends. At this point, McBride seems like a better all-around option than Addison, but we’ll see who the Vikings end up going with at quarterback. I’ll admit, Nick Mullens sounds intriguing; he’s one of the less-bad backups out there, in the right offense.

That being said, how can you hate the matchup with the Raiders? If Addison has anything left this season, he should show it this week. Can’t say that about the Rams going on the road to play Baltimore. Kyren has loads of value considering how much they use him, but I’m looking forward to whoever the Rams play next week (please don’t be the 49ers). I actually like the Rice matchup this week. That should be a high scoring game, and the Bills should put their focus on Kelce, opening up one-on-one opportunities for Rice. Let’s keep the good times going!

Let’s take a peek at Sloane N Steady, and get to know these players intimately, since I figure to be seeing a lot of them the next two weeks:

  • Aiden O’Connell (QB) vs. Min
  • Will Levis (QB) @ Mia
  • Brandon Aiyuk (WR) vs. Sea
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR) @ Chi
  • Isiah Pacheco (RB) vs. Buf
  • Travis Etienne (RB) @ Cle
  • Kyle Pitts (TE) vs. TB
  • Michael Pittman (WR) @ Cin
  • Evan McPherson (K) vs. Ind
  • Baltimore (DEF) vs. LAR

His bench includes an injured Derek Carr, an injured Kenny Pickett, an injured Anthony Richardson, and an injured Aaron Rodgers. Thankfully, the Rodgers thing is a smokescreen, and he will have no effect on my life over the next two weeks. Pickett also sounds like a longshot to return anytime soon. I’m guessing Carr will be back in his lineup next week come playoff time, but we’ll see.

As far as skill guys, he’s got DeAndre Hopkins and George Pickens. So, not really a lot in reserve.

But, he’s been one of the best teams in our league this season – he was 8-3 before a recent 2-game skid – on the strength of his starting lineup (sans QB). Aiyuk and St. Brown are absolute studs, and Pittman has been on FIRE … pretty much all season. He’s 11th in WR points, but he’s 4th in receptions, and honestly if it wasn’t for him only having 4 TDs, I think he’d easily be in the top five. Pacheco and Etienne are both quietly amazing, and Pitts is as talented as they get (if only the Atlanta offense would scheme itself for him). Tacking on a tremendous, opportunistic Ravens defense, and my old kicker from the last two years, and it’s a real hornet’s nest.

I’m trying not to look ahead to next week, but suffice it to say, his matchups aren’t going to matter so much. Those guys are really matchup-proof, and it’s up to MY guys to A) stay healthy, and B) go above and beyond their projections. The fact that I’ll have to do this the rest of the way without Tank Dell is a HUGE blow. I was already on thin ice with this team, and now I’m starting to hear some ominous cracks.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: A Perfect Honeymoon

My honeymoon spanned two fantasy football weekends, and between my three teams, I went a perfect 6-0. It was just incredible! I tried to talk my wife into stowing away on the cruise ship for another week, but sadly she wasn’t up for breaking so many laws.

I defeated the first place Beasts in Week 11, 147.75 to 125.65. I got great production out of Jordan Love and Justin Fields, a red hot game out of Tank Dell for my flex, and the combo of Lamb and Pollard came through with flying colors. This compensated for a Kenneth Walker injury and almost nothing from the Jets defense.

Then, in Week 12, I had the most points in the league, defeating Turd Sandwich 192.05 to 176.80. Once again, Jordan Love looked amazing, Pollard and Lamb were awesome, Dell and Hockenson were great, and Kyren Williams returned to obliterate the competition.

The two victories broke the Cousins Curse, and got me back up to 6-6 on the season. That’s good for fifth place in the league (top six go to the playoffs), with a 1-game cushion over the two teams directly below me (as well as around 100 points of tie-breaking cushion as far as total points are concerned). With two weeks left in the regular season, I only have one guy to worry about. He’s right there with me in total points, but he’s two games behind me in record. So, all I need to do is win one more game, have that guy lose one more game, or have one of the 5-7 teams lose once more, or just score no fewer points than the 4-8 team over the next two weeks. My point being: a playoff spot is all but guaranteed, unless the absolute unthinkable happens (unfortunately, none of those three teams play one another).

The highest I can get is fourth place, but I would have to win out and he would have to lose out, so that seems unlikely. The top four teams have already clinched playoff berths though, so there’s four teams fighting for two spots. Interestingly enough, I have the third-most points scored in the league. No one considers me a threat to win it all, which feels appropriate.

With Williams back in the fold, and with Jordan Love playing positively Cousins-esque, I do think I have a fighting chance. But, this is fantasy football, so of course anything can happen.

This week, I’m going up against last place Toot Cannons. I’ve got my Vikings and Bears (Hockenson, Addison, Fields) on a BYE, so if ever there was an opportunity to blow my winning streak, this is it. Here’s my lineup:

  • Jordan Love (QB) vs. KC
  • Bryce Young (QB) @ TB
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. Sea
  • Terry McLaurin (WR) vs. Mia
  • Tony Pollard (RB) vs. Sea
  • Kyren Williams (RB) vs. Cle
  • Trey McBride (TE) @ Pit
  • Tank Dell (WR) vs. Den
  • Dustin Hopkins (K) @ LAR
  • N.Y. Jets (DEF) vs. Atl

I love what Love has been doing the last couple weeks, but Kansas City poses quite a threat for him. They didn’t play very well against the Raiders last week, but they still have a lot of talent in their secondary, and can make life difficult up front, so I’m not expecting another 30-point performance. The last thing I want to do is start Young, but I have no other options at the position. On the plus side, Carolina just fired their head coach, so maybe there’s a bounce-back opportunity there. Plus, Tampa’s secondary has been a joke for a while now, so if there was ever a chance for Young to bust out, this might be it.

I like any Cowboys player against this Seahawks defense, but then again, it wouldn’t totally shock me if our defense finally got it together. Williams will have a tough go against the Browns. I do like McLaurin against the Dolphins; Washington should have to throw a lot in this game. And the Jets have a pretty juicy matchup against a turnover-prone Falcons team.

My concern at this time has to do with injury designations to Tank Dell and Trey McBride. McBride is a highly-coveted tight end prospect who has done quite well in the absence of Zach Ertz. If he can’t go, I’m screwed, as there are no other decent TE options on the free agent pile. Dell’s injury sounds minor, but he didn’t practice yesterday, and my problem is having an alternative for him. With Addison on BYE, all I have left is Charbonnet (assuming Walker will miss another week with an oblique injury). With Charbonnet going tonight, I would have to commit to him right now, which means I’d either have to bench Dell (who has been one of the hottest receivers in the league over the last few weeks) or maybe Kyren Williams (if we bank on the Browns’ defense being amazing; he’s nevertheless a snap-hog for the Rams when he’s in there). I don’t want to play Charbonnet against the Cowboys, because I kinda think they’re going to dominate the Seahawks.

So, we’ll see what happens. Hopefully Dell returns to practice later today, and I won’t have to worry about it.

Here’s who Toot Cannons has to offer:

  • Kyler Murray (QB) @ Pit
  • Tua Tagovailoa (QB) @ Was
  • Marquise Brown (WR) @ Pit
  • Chris Olave (WR) vs. Det
  • Jerome Ford (RB) @ LAR
  • Jaylen Warren (RB) vs. Ari
  • Jake Ferguson (TE) vs. Sea
  • Najee Harris (RB) vs. Ari
  • Cameron Dicker (K) @ NE
  • San Francisco (DEF) @ Phi

He’s got a number of injuries (including Justin Jefferson) as well as Saquon Barkley on a BYE. He’s also got De’Von Achane, Tee Higgins, Dallas Goedert, and Tyler Boyd to throw in there in place of Najee Harris. Any way you slice it, Toot Cannons is in rough shape. I would love nothing more than to take care of business this week and not have to worry about the regular season finale.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: The Cousins Curse Continues

I lost 188.35 to 180.62 to You Dropped Your Dildo. Bryce Young scored 11.05 against the Bears of all teams. You’re telling me I couldn’t have gotten a measly 19 points from Cousins in a game where Josh Dobbs put up 29.8 on the Saints?

Not for nothing, but Jordan Love threw two late interceptions in Green Bay’s loss to the Steelers. Interceptions in our league are -4 points. That’s the difference. That’s technically DOUBLE the difference, because my opponent had the Steelers’ defense, and they get +4 points for INTs! One fewer interception by fucking Love would’ve won me the game!

I hate my fantasy life.

It’s especially galling because there were so many teams I would’ve easily beaten this week with 180. Only two would’ve gotten the better of me, so OF COURSE I have to be playing one of them. That’s just the way it works for me.

CeeDee Lamb had another monster game of almost 40 points. Hockenson had 30+, Walker and Tank Dell had nearly 20 apiece, the Jets got me a respectable 15 (but, alas, couldn’t hold it down against a pretty inept Raiders team), and even my kicker got me 13. I’m solid! At every spot but quarterback. Broken record, playing on repeat, until the end of time.

This week, I’ve got a date with Beasts, who is 9-1 and in first place. I have fallen to 4-6 and am now in seventh place, one spot outside of the playoffs. It’s getting real dark! I can’t believe I’m going to be playing in the Consolation Bracket once again!

Here’s my lineup:

  • Justin Fields (QB) @ Det
  • Jordan Love (QB) vs. LAC
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ Car
  • Terry McLaurin (WR) vs. NYG
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) @ LAR
  • Tony Pollard (RB) @ Car
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) @ Den
  • Tank Dell (WR) vs. Ari
  • Dustin Hopkins (K) vs. Pit
  • N.Y. Jets (DEF) @ Buf

God bless Tank Dell! I knew last week would be my last chance to pick him up, and he really looks like a stud! Alexander Mattison was a last-minute benching last week, which is a rare moment of prescience for me. He sucks! His team knows it, which is the worst part. Granted, they were going up against the Saints’ defense – generally stout against the run – which is what scared me off in the first place. But, seeing his carries fall to the next man up, and seeing the other moves the team is making to bolster their RB room, it seems unlikely Mattison will ever be That Guy for me. He’s Just A Guy instead, which is someone I can ill-afford to start unless in an emergency.

As such, he’s essentially useless to me, so I ended up dropping him and picking up Trey McBride as a free agent. I don’t have an immediate need for a tight end, however Hockenson does have a BYE coming up in Week 13. Frankly, it’s silly that McBride was still out there to be had by anyone; are there 9 better fantasy tight ends in the league right now? I don’t think so. This is his second year in the league, and he’s already taken over for Zach Ertz (thanks to injury, but he’s also better than Ertz, so there’s that). After starting off as the team’s #2 TE and doing very little the first five weeks, he’s really come on, scoring over 20 in two of the last three weeks. The sky seems to be the limit for him. In an ideal world, I would trade one of my tight ends for a more competent starter (especially at QB), but the trade deadline is this week and I just don’t think there will be time. Really, it might be prudent just to hang onto him, since it seems like Hockenson is a little banged up and is on the injury report every week. You never know when he might go over the edge, or have to otherwise sit out a week. And, you know, if I can hang onto McBride through the end of the season, it gives me an option as far as keepers go heading into next year. That’s one less quality keeper for someone else.

When Kyren returns, I’ll have a legitimate decision to make on Tony Pollard. He ALSO stinks! I can’t explain how invisible he’s been this year, but it’s starting to become absurd. The Cowboys are doing pretty well on offense – and going up against some pretty miserable defenses – but Pollard is nowhere to be found! I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.

Addison and Dell are the two flexes for me, going forward, depending on who the Commanders are playing. I’ll sit Scary Terry against an elite defense, but otherwise he’s pretty reliable. I just have my doubts about Dobbs as a passer of the football to NFL wide receivers. I’d like to see Addison really blow up one time before I start him again. Also, not for nothing, but Justin Jefferson is coming back soon, and will surely command the lion’s share of the targets again (targets that figure to diminish due to Dobbs’ ineffectiveness as a passer).

Fields returns this week; it’s not a moment too soon. If Young can’t get it going against the crappy Bears, what hope does he have ever? This week, Young is at Dallas, and there’s no way in hell I can start him there; he’s a negative points day waiting to happen! Aidan O’Connell followed up a mediocre start against the Giants with an even more mediocre start against the Jets. Not totally surprising there, but he’s also not giving me a whole helluva lot of confidence. As such, with Deshaun Watson being lost for the year, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson being named his replacement, I decided to cut O’Connell and pick up DTR.

O’Connell has, like, zero upside. He doesn’t run, he doesn’t throw deep, he’s helming an offense that’s run first, run second, run infinity. He’s like a dumpier version of Mac Jones (and now that I say that, watch him turn into the next Tom Brady). At least DTR theoretically has some wheels. If nothing else, he’s more of an unknown than O’Connell, since he has one fewer start. On the plus side, Will Levis has had back-to-back not-good games, so I don’t have to be totally devastated anymore.

I actually like Love’s matchup against the Chargers; if he can’t blow up this week, I don’t know what to tell you. I like Scary Terry against the Giants, I like the Cowboys against the Panthers, I like Hockenson against the Broncos. Give me all the Dell against Arizona, and all the Hopkins against the Steelers’ defense. I’m a little unsure about Walker against the Rams, but that’s no slight against him, rather an acknowledgment of the weird mastery the Rams have over the Seahawks.

Here’s who Beasts has going:

  • Justin Herbert (QB) @ GB
  • Russell Wilson (QB) vs. Min
  • Cooper Kupp (WR) vs. Sea
  • Tyler Lockett (WR) vs. LAR
  • Derrick Henry (RB) @ Jax
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) @ Mia
  • Mark Andrews (TE) vs. Cin
  • Christian McCaffrey (RB) vs. TB
  • Jason Myers (K) @ LAR
  • Detroit (DEF) vs. Chi

Look at all the studs! He’s also got Calvin Ridley if he wants to swap out Lockett. Hard to love Russ the Fantasy Quarterback anymore, but he has been better this season. Also Minnesota’s defense is no great shakes. Herbert is a points monster, and always blows up when he plays against me. Kupp is a stud, Henry and Jacobs are both studs, and CMC is like a god at this point. He’s even got Andrews, probably the best fantasy TE in the game, if that all wasn’t bad enough! To boot, he gets the Lions’ defense to rub it in my face when Fields either sucks or doesn’t end up playing. I’m going to get massacred.