Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Snoopy & Prickly Pete

Also, check out the Fantasy Football tag for all my past ramblings on the subject.

Last year ended as horribly as can be in my Main League. I made the 6-team playoffs, but then promptly lost in the first round. That means I missed out on the 4-team consolation bracket – which plays for the top 4 draft picks the following season – and was saddled in the 5/6 game, playing for the 5th/6th draft pick. Of course, I lost that game as well, and here I was, heading into this season drafting 6th out of 10 teams, in a standard (non-snake) draft.

Last year, we were up to 4 keepers, having steadily increased that number over the last few years, with the ultimate goal of turning the league into a Dynasty League. Finally, there was enough discontent that the talk at this year’s rules meeting centered on, “We either need to go full dynasty, or blow it all up and eliminate keepers altogether.”

I don’t mind telling you I was lobbying hard to go with the dynasty league. I’ve been spending the last few years suffering mediocre finishes all in the name of trying to find the best keepers possible to carry over (with the primary goal of finding one or two quality quarterbacks to finally cement that position once and for all). I didn’t want all of that work to go to waste. Thankfully, by the thinnest of margins, we were able to vote in the dynasty.

Our set up is like this: we have to keep all of our starting positions. 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 DEF. Easy peasy. We’ll get to wait until about a week before our fantasy draft next year before declaring who those keepers will be. Then, at the draft, we’ll select our 5 bench spots out of whoever’s left over, plus any incoming rookies.

This all starts NEXT year, meaning that we’re still only carrying over 4 keepers from last season. But, with our draft – that took place last Thursday – it’s officially on. If you’re not going all-in on the dynasty aspect with regards to who you’re drafting, then that means you like your team an awful lot and are pushing to win the championship within the next 1-2 years.

I didn’t love my keepers heading into our draft, because – SPOILER ALERT – I had no quarterbacks among the four. My keepers were:

  1. A.J. Brown (WR)
  2. CeeDee Lamb (WR)
  3. Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB)

That’s the ranking of how much I liked them, 1 through 4. I was waffling back and forth on CEH until the bitter end, before I read enough pundits who think he’s due to have a bounce-back year in his second season in the league. I can buy it. He doesn’t appear to have a lot of competition at the spot in Kansas City; even though they throw the ball WAY MORE than they run it, he could sneak in for some more touchdowns and still catch a lot of balls.

I had zero interest in keeping Josh Jacobs. He was supposed to be my horse last year, but he underwhelmed, and then the Raiders brought in Kenyan Drake (the bane of every fantasy owner’s existence wherever he plays, because he’s always stealing carries from someone more promising). I had a lot of fringey receivers I was mulling over (Jerry Jeudy, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, D.J. Chark, and Rashard Higgins), but all of those guys are players that could easily be had in any fantasy draft.

As for my two quarterbacks, I had Kirk Cousins (who’s a non-starter for me, since he’s not vaccinated – which means there’s a high likelihood he misses games this year – and he’s just overall mediocre), and Tua Tagovailoa. I made a HUGE to-do about picking him up on waivers last year, thinking his Alabama pedigree might translate to NFL success. But, he just looked too shitty as a rookie last year. More often than not, you can see which rookie quarterbacks are going to be studs, and which ones are going to be Marcus Mariota. Tua looks like he’s going to be a left-handed Mariota.

In the end, my final keeper came down to CEH and Tee Higgins. I was THIS close to keeping Higgins, because I freaking love that dude, and I think in that Bengals offense he’s going to be steadily productive for the next decade. But, the Bengals also went out and drafted another elite receiver really high in this year’s draft, plus they still have Tyler Boyd, who’s solid. There ended up being too many cooks in that kitchen, and I was scared off. I still think Higgins will be the best of those three this year, but going forward, it’s iffy.

Plus, let’s face it, there are tons of solid wide receivers all throughout the league. Keeping three of them seemed like overkill. I would’ve been effectively handing over my FLEX spot to Higgins, and if for whatever reason he struggles, then I’ve wasted one of my keeper spots for a fringe fantasy starter.

***

I had a couple plans heading into the draft with my 6th overall pick. Trevor Lawrence would obviously be off the table (he, indeed, went #1 overall). I assumed Najee Harris would also be off the table (he ended up being taken with the third pick, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment). I ranked my top six players, and my third choice would’ve been Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (who very well might’ve fallen to me, as he was ultimately taken 7th), followed by Matthew Stafford (who did fall to me, though I ended up trading him – SPOILER ALERT AGAIN), and then the Washington and Indy running backs as 5th and 6th (they ended up going 5th and 4th respectively).

I would’ve been elated to have Matthew Stafford, because I think he’s going to have an awesome year with the Rams. Plus, he’s only 33 years old, which means he could have another 7-10 years ahead of him if things break right!

My general plan was to load up on quarterbacks – taking lots of flyers on rookies, after Stafford – and running backs (to try to load up on depth in case of injuries and BYEs). This was always going to be a quasi-throwaway year for me, in hopes that I’d find the two quarterbacks I’d be rolling with for the next 5-10 years.

That was thrown out the window when Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars (don’t ask) texted the entire league saying his keepers were available for trade (in exchange for players and/or draft picks).

He actually had four pretty good keepers (Derrick Henry, D.K. Metcalf, George Kittle, and Stefon Diggs), but for whatever reason, he was looking to shake things up.

I didn’t want Henry because he’s being run into the ground and probably has 1-2 more years MAX before he begins his slide. I didn’t want Kittle because he could be an injury risk with the way he plays the game and how hard he is on his body. D.K. Metcalf is obviously a huge draw for me, as a Seahawks fan, and I think he’s someone who could be the #1 scoring wide receiver as early as THIS year. Plus he’s young and should be good for another decade. Sign me up!

I made Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars a lowball offer (I think a second rounder, or a fourth rounder plus A.J. Brown); he countered saying he needed my first rounder. I took a bit to think about it, before ultimately concluding that D.K. Metcalf with the 6th pick would be guaranteed to be better than anyone who might fall to me (there would’ve been the potential for higher upside with someone like Pitts, but there’s always a risk with any rookie).

I’m lucky I accepted the offer when I did, because by the next day someone had offered him the #2 overall pick for D.K. I told that guy (with the #2 pick) if Trevor Lawrence somehow – by the grace of God – fell out of the top spot, I’d trade him D.K. for Lawrence (which he agreed to, since he already has Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert as his keepers), but of course that was never going to happen.

Hahmez Wah, in the end, turned his aforementioned keepers into Jalen Hurts (#2 overall) & Chris Carson (he traded his #9 overall for the #2 overall, while also giving away Derrick Henry in the deal), Matthew Stafford (in the Metcalf deal), Tyler Lockett (in the Kittle deal, where he got the first pick in the second round), while still hanging onto Stefon Diggs. I wouldn’t love that for my team – if I were him, I would’ve stuck the keepers I had – but I understand the impulse in making a radical change. Also, it IS a game, after all; it’s supposed to be fun, right? What’s more fun than a crazy slew of trades?

***

So, heading into the second round, I had three receivers and two running backs. It was time to start looking into the quarterback position.

No other QB was taken after the three I already mentioned. Next up on my private dynasty rankings was Justin Fields, so I grabbed him with my second pick. No, he’s not starting right away, but the stories I’ve read about him were phenomenal, and I think he has real breakout potential. Trey Lance was going to be my next choice, but he was taken from me two picks before my spot in the third round, so I settled on Mac Jones. Also hearing great stories about him! Less of a running threat, but in a better team situation than Fields, so I like that.

Then, for good measure – because I needed someone to start right away in week one – I nabbed Jameis Winston. He’s been on and off my fantasy team for years, but he had last year off (for the most part) and has been learning the Saints’ system. If he’s even remotely more careful with the ball, he’s a guy who’s capable of throwing for 5,000 yards and 30+ touchdowns. We also forget: he’s also only 27 years old; so if he does change his entire career around, that could be a steal for me.

As chance would have it, Cousins was around for my fifth pick, but I zagged and went with the Rams’ defense. I feel like they have the potential to be solid for the duration of Aaron Donald’s career, so why not? Then, with my sixth pick, Noah Fant was still available. I had him as a rookie and it sounds like the offense is going to be vastly improved in Denver, so I like the idea of having him for the foreseeable future. Also, the drop-off after Fant was pretty considerable (the next guys taken were Goedert and Tonyan; I’m good with my choice).

Then, I finally had to break down and get a third running back. Obviously, my plan to load up on the position was a failure. It was down to Chase Edmonds or Raheem Mostert in the 7th round. Edmonds went one pick earlier, so Mostert it is! I like Mostert; when he’s healthy, he’s dominant (in many ways, he’s like Chris Carson). He just can’t stay healthy. But, if I can squeeze a few weeks out of him, I’ll look to hopefully address the running back position next year.

In the 8th round, I nabbed Justin Tucker. He’s only 31 years old and he’s the best kicker in football. He could be around for another 10-15 years if he takes care of himself. After that, I went back to the quarterback well, grabbing Jimmy G. Obviously, the 49ers drafted their quarterback of the future. But, if you look at the 49ers’ schedule, it’s pretty damn easy the first few weeks of the season. I’ll mix and match with him and Mac Jones for a while until Jimmy G ultimately gets benched, and hope he has enough pride to force the 49ers’ hand in benching a guy playing well. At the very least, he has a soft landing against the Lions in week one, where I expect him to be a Top 10 fantasy quarterback (for just that one week, anyway). Yes, I know there’s potential for Lance to snipe some snaps from him, but I don’t care. As long as he’s not getting entire chunks of plays in the red zone, I’ll be happy.

With my next-to-last pick, I took a chance on Buffalo’s Zack Moss. He was a rookie last year and the team obviously liked him enough to draft him in the third round. Maybe this is the year he assumes the starter job! Of course, even then, it’s not like Buffalo runs the ball all that much. I’m hoping they get such huge leads early in games, that they’ll be running the ball exclusively in the fourth quarter.

Finally, for my super sleeper, I picked Jordan Love, backup quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. I’m going to do my damnedest to hang onto him all year. The way I see it, if none of my rookie QBs pan out this year, and are not keeper-worthy in my eyes, I’ll just keep Love and roll the dice. They obviously drafted him to be Aaron Rodgers’ replacement sooner or later. If I have no one better, why not keep him and see if he’s elite?

***

There’s obviously a lot wrong with my team at this point in my dynasty. The quarterback situation is a mess and my running back depth is nil. But, I have just the three receivers: D.K., Brown, and Lamb, and I think all three of those guys are Top 10 calibre players at the position. I’m set! In non-BYE weeks (and, in non-injury situations), I have my two WR spots and my FLEX spot all locked down. Not having any receivers on my bench affords me the luxury of carrying extra RBs and QBs. If I’m ever able to lock down the quarterback spot to my satisfaction, that leaves me more room on my bench for even more RBs, as well as potential backups to tight end or defense (which always comes in handy).

I think I’m done making RBs a priority. Unless some super-stud rookie falls to me in the first round of the draft next year, I’m just going to do my best to either stream running backs or carry enough in those second-to-fourth tiers to play matchups and hope I get around 10 points from each. If my QBs and receivers can carry me, I think that’s a championship formula. Running backs are just too damn fickle and too injury prone; it’s impossible to rely on them to be 20+ point workhorses anymore. I’d rather go for elite receivers, hope they blow up a few times a year, and just get steady-if-unspectacular production from my RBs. Plus, if I’m able to find someone on the free agent scrap heap that comes from nowhere to crush it, all the better.

***

Now, it’s time to talk about this week. My team is Snoopy & Prickly Pete (Seinfeld reference, for the second straight year!). I’m going up against the reigning league champion, Car Talk With Josh Allen (guess who one of his quarterbacks is). He’s projected to finish third in our league (one game ahead of me), and – not for nothing – he’s projected to beat me in week 1.

Here’s my week 1 lineup, barring any unexpected last-minute COVID issues:

  • Jameis Winston (QB) vs. GB
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) @ DET
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ TB
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. AZ
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ TB
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. CLE
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ NYG
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ IND
  • Justin Tucker (K) @ LV
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) vs. CHI

As I said, I love Jimmy G against a nothing Detroit defense; Mac Jones is my only other option and I’d rather not start a rookie in his first game, against a defense as good as Miami’s. As I also said, all my receivers are locked in, which means the only other choice was my #2 running back (though, I don’t love Zeke against that Bucs defense, with their All Pro guard out for this game). I briefly considered Mostert against Detroit, but I’d really like to see what the 49ers’ offense looks like, with their two quarterbacks, plus their new rookie running back angling to steal snaps. I’m rolling with all my keepers, at least for now!

Car Talk looks like he’s got the following:

  • Josh Allen (QB) vs. PIT
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) vs. LAC
  • Allen Robinson (WR) @ LAR
  • Julio Jones (WR) vs. AZ
  • Aaron Jones (RB) @ NO
  • Joe Mixon (RB) vs. MIN
  • Travis Kelce (TE) vs. CLE
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. CHI
  • Tyler Bass (K) vs. PIT
  • Baltimore (DEF) @ LV

Our teams are pretty much even (he’s a little better at QB, I’m a little better at WR) except for the difference in our projected points from the tight end position. Kelce is the best in football; mine is just okay. That’s always a huge advantage and I hope I’m able to one day have something similar on my team. In the meantime, I’ll just have to hope the Chiefs run the ball more and throw their TDs to their wide receivers. That’s a tall ask.

I’m guessing I’ll lose this game. I’ll be down in the dumps on Sunday, but a dynasty league isn’t about just one week, or even one season. This is a transitional year, and I hope to be better at the end than I am at the beginning.

In the meantime, PATIENCE! I need to practice extreme patience, and accept losing for what it is: a temporary means to an end, that will one day result in my name on that championship trophy. Maybe not this year, but one year soon. Let’s fucking go.

Predicting The 2021 NFL Season

YES! My favorite post of the year! Back again, boys and girls! Here are all of my prior entries:

First thing’s first: let’s take a look back at how I did last year.

Welp, bad start with the NFC East: I was all in on Dallas and had Washington dead last. That’s a big 0 or 1 right out of the box.

Big whiff on the NFC North: for some reason I was EXTREMELY high on the Vikings last year, who finished 7-9. I shorted the Packers (but gave them a wild card berth), who finished 13-3. And, I said the Bears were “heading in the wrong direction” even though they finished 8-8 and made the playoffs. I was only correct about the Lions, but who couldn’t see that coming?

Ugh, the less said about my NFC South prediction the better: I had … the Falcons winning it? I did have Tampa second, but not making the playoffs, famously saying their defense was “a year or two away”. Yikes. You don’t read this blog for expert analysis, do you? How am I getting WORSE at these picks the more I do them?!

God, even my NFC West take was horrible: I had the Rams winning it (they did make the wild card), with both the 49ers and Seahawks making the wild card (in that order). Of course, in reality the 49ers were in last place after a bunch of injuries; hard to blame me for not predicting that.

All right, not too terrible with the AFC East: I nailed the Buffalo division winner. Buuuuut, I had the Pats making a wild card.

I’m quite happy with my AFC North prediction: I had all of Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland making the playoffs (they did!). I did have the Ravens winning the division instead of the Steelers, but otherwise I’m taking that as a win.

I’ll accept partial credit for my AFC South take: I loved Indy; not so much Tennessee. I didn’t have Houston making the playoffs, but never anticipated they’d be as bad as they were. I nailed Jacksonville getting the #1 overall pick.

As for the AFC West: good stuff in making KC my number one overall team; bad stuff in saying that Justin Herbert wouldn’t be the Chargers’ quarterback of the future. It is what it is.

If we just count playoff teams, I got 9 out of 14 (though I got 6 out of 7 in the AFC). I only got 1 out of 4 teams in the conference championship games – the Chiefs – but I had … Jesus Christ, the Vikings over the Ravens in the Super Bowl. Fucking A.

***

All right, wash that taste out of your mouth! It’s all uphill from here! Without further ado.

NFC East

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Washington Football Team
  • New York Giants
  • Philadelphia Eagles

I’m going to say we’re going to have most of a full season (if not ALL) out of Dak, and that ultimately makes all the difference. There’s lots of Washington chatter, and I don’t blame you; that defense is legit. But, Fitzmagic? I’m out; I think he’s good for maybe 9 wins. I think Dallas can get to 10. The Giants likely won’t be as bad as people expect, but I still think they’re around 6-7 wins. The Eagles MIGHT be as bad as people expect; either way, I don’t think the NFC East will be the punching bag people have come to anticipate.

NFC North

  • Green Bay Packers
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions

We’re not fucking around this year. The Packers have won 13 games the last two years and I think that will stay the same this year. I don’t know what to say about the Vikings after last year’s display of futility; probably won’t be worse? The Bears will take a step back with Dalton, before taking a step forward with Fields. The Lions will continue to be a punching bag.

NFC South

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers

I know I’m going to be screwed by the Bucs in one way, shape, or form. They do have the target on their backs, but there’s just SO MUCH talent on that team. I guess Brady could start showing his age, or injuries could take a toll, but I dunno. I’m going with the safe pick this year. I kind of like Jameis; is that weird? I mean, I like him on this team, in this offense. I think they’ll be okay! I don’t know anything about the Falcons, but I hear they could be frisky. The Panthers seem the opposite of frisky; lethargic, I guess? Sam Darnold sucks.

NFC West

  • Los Angeles Rams
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Arizona Cardinals

I wanted to put the Seahawks as the division winner here, but the more I think about it, the more I’m concerned by this team. First-year offensive coordinator; you think there won’t be growing pains? You think there won’t be frustrating losses where the offense can’t move the ball? I’ll have more on this on Friday’s official season preview, but it just looks like the Rams are too stacked. Stafford will throw for 5,000 yards and they’re probably in line for the top seed in the NFC. The 49ers are just all-around talented, and regression should dictate a healthier season from them. I still like the Seahawks to crack the wild card though. And the Cards should play around .500 ball again.

AFC East

  • Buffalo Bills
  • New England Patriots
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New York Jets

I think this is the easiest division to predict; Buffalo by a mile (and the AFC’s top seed). I think the Pats are improved across the board and will get just enough game-managing out of their rookie quarterback to sneak into the wild card. I think Tua is a bust and will hamper the Dolphins, though they’ll be close to making a wild card. I think the Jets are the Jets.

AFC North

  • Cleveland Browns
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals

We’re not going to see three playoff teams from this division this year, and the odd-team-out will be the Ravens. The way the injury bug is decimating this team already, I think they’re in for a Year From Hell season. I think the Browns simply have too much talent throughout that team to be held back. I think the Steelers will figure out their O-Line and continue to dominate along the D-Line. I think the Bengals will continue to grow with Burrow, but it’s going to be another year or two before we can consider them playoff material.

AFC South

  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Houston Texans
  • Jacksonville Jaguars

I would say I’m a quasi Carson Wentz believer. Behind a good offensive line, with a great head coach, I think he can be special. The Colts’ defense is underrated; the only question is their receivers (especially with T.Y. Hilton out). I think the Titans come close to making the playoffs, but that defense is just too awful. A lot of people are predicting the Texans to have the worst record in football, but I think Tyrod Taylor will pull it out in enough of those 50/50 games they play with other terrible teams. Don’t get me wrong; Houston is probably still winning 3-4 games, but that should be more than the Jags.

AFC West

  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders

I think the Chiefs and Bills will fight to the bitter end for that top seed, but the Bills will prevail. The Chargers are more of an aspirational pick for me, because I think they’re fun. I also think their defense is a little underrated, and with proper head coaching, they should be in line for a record boost. I think the Broncos will be steady, maybe 9-8. I think the Raiders will fall on their faces pretty hard, with Jon Gruden on the hottest of seats.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Dallas Cowboys
  5. San Francisco 49ers
  6. Seattle Seahawks
  7. Washington Football Team

AFC Playoffs

  1. Buffalo Bills
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. New England Patriots
  7. Los Angeles Chargers

Two playoff teams from the NFC East? Have I learned NOTHING?!

Wild Card Round

  • Green Bay over Washington
  • Seattle over Tampa Bay
  • Dallas over San Francisco
  • Kansas City over Los Angeles
  • New England over Cleveland
  • Pittsburgh over Indianapolis

Divisional Round

  • Los Angeles over Seattle
  • Green Bay over Dallas
  • Buffalo over New England
  • Pittsburgh over Kansas City

Championship Round

  • Los Angeles over Green Bay
  • Buffalo over Pittsburgh

Super Bowl

  • Buffalo over Los Angeles

My backup guess is Buffalo over the Packers, but either way I’m all in on the Bills. Since I was all in on the Vikings last year, they should be TERRIFIED. Buffalo just seems like a juggernaut any way you slice it, though.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Return Of The Splinter League

My fantasy column (which is really just an excuse to complain about my fantasy teams, but also lets me provide my analysis on a variety of players and matchups on a weekly basis) has been a regular feature on my blog since 2018. You can catch up on the types of leagues I’m in HERE. I mostly just talk about my Main League, one I used to be commissioner of since its infancy back in the 2003-range. I’m still in it – with a group of my oldest friends – though I’m no longer in charge. I went and started my own Splinter League with some friends who are in the Main League, as well as some other friends, and it’s much more lowkey and casual. Both are 2-QB leagues that heavily skew towards more points for the quarterbacks (since they’re the most important players in the real NFL, I feel this is valid for fantasy as well).

The Splinter League is much more QB-friendly (15 yards per point, compared to 20 in the Main League; both are 6-point touchdowns and -4 points for INTs). Anyway, I’ll have more to say about the Main League at another time, but my Splinter League team just had its draft on Sunday night, so let’s get into it!

This year’s Splinter League team name is BUCK FUTTER, from the infamous SNL Jeopardy! sketch. It’s an okay name, but I didn’t have a lot of inspiration this year, especially after trying to compete with last year’s Pound Some Cunth, which was *chef’s kiss*.

I’m mostly just excited because I drafted a really good team. I’m not the only one who thinks so, as Yahoo – on draft day – pegged me for a 14-1 record this season. Just a day removed – even though Yahoo has tinkered with the projected standings of other teams – I remain with that 14-1 prognostication. I was also the only team to get an A grade by Yahoo (the next-highest was a B; then there’s a B-, with everyone else in the C-range in our 10-team league).

I logged on 30 minutes prior to find I was drafting 9th. That means that – again, with our scoring system being what it is – most of the top tier quarterbacks would be taken. The guy with the first draft pick never showed and had his team auto-drafted by Yahoo; as a result, Yahoo drafted him a team the way it would in any old league (i.e. eschewing quarterbacks early for running backs and receivers). CMC was the first overall pick. Then it went: Mahomes, Allen, Brady, Dalvin Cook, Wilson, Kyler, and Lamar (the Cook guy also temporarily forgot about the scoring system, but that’s not a bad alternative for him).

So, I was left with the guy I picked – Aaron Rodgers – among players like Tannehill, Dak, Herbert, Hurts, Stafford, and Lawrence. The 10th pick in the snake went with Zeke Elliott and Tannehill back-to-back, which left me in the illustrious position of getting Alvin Kamara with my second round pick. Outstanding! I’ve never had him on a fantasy team before and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s with me now (with no Brees, and lots of question marks on that Saints offense).

I had the usual LONG wait before I got to my third and fourth picks. I opted for Matthew Stafford over Trevor Lawrence to close out the third round (I never considered for a second going with either Baker Mayfield or Matt Ryan, who both went later in the fourth round). I’ll say this: if the Splinter League were a keeper league, it would’ve been Lawrence all day. But, we do full redrafts here, and I’m not willing to jump on the Lawrence bandwagon if there’s no long-term benefit for me. There will be lots of yards thrown, but I also anticipate lots of turnovers that will hurt him. I also wanted to go with Stafford because – like Rodgers – he’s on a team that’s going to be in the running with the Seahawks for the top seed in the NFC. If I have any bad mojo on me, and it carries over to those guys, all the better for my beloved Seahawks. Otherwise, if they play as well as I expect them to, I should have no problems at the quarterback position in 2021 (for this league, anyway).

With my fourth round pick, I nabbed Najee Harris. This is a guy I LOVED in college, and desperately wished my Seahawks could’ve somehow gotten in the real NFL draft. I was burned last year in my Main League with rookie running back CEH, but Harris seems like a slam dunk as long as he stays healthy. I can’t remember the last time I had two running backs I was so fond of! If you let me hand-pick any two running backs for my fantasy team, it would’ve been Kamara and Harris. I know guys just say things like that all the time, but for me it’s true. I think both will be durable, as well as points hogs both in the running and passing games. Plus, they’re just fun players to watch (unless they’re going against your team, then you’re never more miserable, particularly when they’re going off).

With another long wait between picks, a lot of good receivers were going off the board. I had no shot at the upper tier guys (Tyreek, Davante, Kelce, D.K., Hopkins, Diggs, and Ridley all went in rounds 2 and 3 between my picks), and players I was potentially eyeballing for the end of the fifth round, like Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, and particularly CeeDee Lamb, were all swiped from me (Lamb one spot prior). I could’ve gone after the Rams guys – Kupp & Woods – to pair them with my quarterback; I could’ve had Tyler Lockett, Amari Cooper, or even Julio for that matter. But, inspiration struck, and I decided to ride the bandwagon of another prominent Seahawks opponent in the NFC in the Tampa Bay Bucs. I got Chris Godwin in the 5th, and swung around and took Mike Evans in the 6th. People are down on Evans, but I still like his touchdown potential if he stays healthy. Godwin is playing for a new contract next year and I expect him to be fired up to make a big splash this year, statswise. I’ll put both of them in my starting lineup together and hope Tom Brady can give it another run (big “if”, I know).

With my next two picks, I was looking for Best Skill Position Available, as the Splinter League has two flex spots (and no mandatory tight end spot, though you could play TE at either/both flex spots if you wanted). Adam Thielen was sniped from me one pick prior, so I settled for Tee Higgins, who is a guy I really like anyway. I had a chance to make him a keeper in my Main League, but was ultimately scared off by the two other quality receivers they have in that offense. Nevertheless, I expect Higgins to continue to produce as long as Joe Burrow is healthy. When the draft whipped around, I got the other running back I wanted: Darrell Henderson. With Cam Akers out for the year, Henderson seems like a strong bet to break out in the Rams’ offense. There’s a chance Sony Michel takes some of his carries (particularly at the goalline), but there’s a reason why the Patriots gave up on Michel: he stinks. I might end up handcuffing the two at some point, but for now Henderson is the safer bet.

I opted to continue going Best Skill Position Available in the 9th & 10th rounds, settling on Mark Andrews first. I’m already iffy on that, but Gus Edwards was sniped from me one pick prior (seriously, that guy who drafted 8th fucked me no less than three times). I also didn’t love the value I was getting on defenses at that spot (the elite defenses were already taken, meaning I had some questionable ones left over), nor did I love the value on a backup quarterback (which I’ll talk about later). Andrews gets a lot of looks around the goalline with the Ravens, so he’s very TD-dependent; he also can get a case of the dropsies which is frustrating. Nevertheless, he’s a fringe flex guy for me until I can find someone more dependable. When we whipped around to the 10th round, Michael Thomas was still sitting there and I jumped on him.

Michael Thomas is one of the biggest question marks of this year’s fantasy football drafting world: when do you take a chance? He’s injured, he’s unhappy with the Saints, and they have a non-Brees starting quarterback heading into a season for the first time in forever. When will he be healthy enough to play again, and how will he fit into the offense? I’m hoping he’ll be back by October, and I’m hoping he returns to being one of the most dominant players in football. For a 10th round flier? Absolutely! Plus, I can stash him in my IR spot until he plays again. No brainer whatsoever.

By the 11th and 12th rounds, it was time to get a defense and a third quarterback. Somehow, the 49ers’ defense was still there, so I grabbed them. But, waiting until the 12th round meant I had slim pickins for QB. I opted for Zach Wilson, not because I believe in the Jets rookie, but because he seemed to be the best of a bunch of terrible options (including Sam Darnold, Jared Goff, and Jimmy G).

The thing with quarterback for me was: Stafford has a BYE in week 11, and Rodgers has his in week 13. Some of these guys – like Jimmy G – might not have their starting jobs that late into the season! Zach Wilson isn’t going anywhere, unless he gets injured or is supremely inept. If he’s halfway competent, he’ll give me the two games I want out of him. Teddy Bridgewater would’ve been a perfectly fine option, but he has a week 11 BYE as well, so that defeats the purpose. I didn’t have room to keep a fourth QB, nor would I want to if I did. I’d rather have a second defense, if anything, just in case!

The guys who ended up on the free agent scrap heap include Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, the aforementioned Jimmy G, Andy Dalton, and, of course, Taysom Hill. Rookies who aren’t even starting yet were drafted ahead of all these guys! It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. I have zero faith whatsoever in Zach Wilson, though. If anyone else even remotely interesting becomes available, I won’t hesitate to waive him.

In the 13th round, D.J. Chark was still available; that’s excellent value, in my book. That meant I missed out on snagging the Patriots’ defense (which I think will be good this year), who was taken with the very next pick, but oh well. With my 14th and final selection, I took a flier on a lottery ticket in Darnell Mooney, wide receiver for the Bears. He has strong sleeper potential in an offense that could be better than we give it credit for. I don’t know if he’ll be long for my roster either, but that’s okay. You can’t make an omelette without scrambling some eggs, or some damn thing.

One thing that leaps out about this team is how razor thin I am in my depth at quarterback and running back. Rodgers and Stafford just can’t get hurt, period, end of discussion. If they go down for any length of time, I’m probably screwed. Similarly, I only have Kamara, Harris, and Henderson. I need to play a minimum of two running backs every week. Thankfully, they all have different BYE weeks, but what are the odds they play every single game? Slim-to-none. So, I’ll have to work my magic on the waiver wire at some point (I have #2 priority after the draft, so I’ll want to use that to my advantage).

I get an extra roster spot with Michael Thomas on IR, so that helps. I have a couple players in mind as we get into the week that I’ll be looking to snag. Then, it’s just the long wait until the regular season starts!

I don’t know how this column is going to look this year, but I imagine it’ll be heavily discussing my Main League. However, I’ll also devote a section in each one to my Splinter League team. It’s too good and interesting to just ignore completely!

I’m also joining a third league – ran by my brother’s friend – but it’s going to be too confusing if I bring a third into the mix, so we’ll let that one go, unless I absolutely get a bug up my ass about it.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Tua The Window, Tua The Wall!!!

SKEET SKEET MOTHERFUCKERS!!! I am ROCK-HARD right now! All praise to Tua (and Sloane N Steady for waiving him, and the rest of the league for leaving him to me to pick up). My fuckin’ fantasy quarterback troubles are over (well, half over; damn Wentz). I don’t even care that I won! Not really, anyway (okay, I do care); I’m just happy Tua got me 27.9 points and looked good on the road against a frisky Cardinals defense. It’s not even that great of a performance, but it shows we’re scratching the surface of his potential, and THAT is what’s got my loins ablaze at the moment with the intensity of a thousand suns. Fuckin’ Tua, y’all! Let’s get this!

Once again, it helped my chances to have my opponent vastly underperform his projections, but a win is a win and I’ve been on the other side of this PLENTY of times in my storied fantasy football career. That being said, my 168.00 points is nothing to sneeze at! It’s on the higher side of average (and plenty to beat Beasts’ 138.50). It’s actually my second-highest output this season, which is sort of alarming (I don’t see any 200-point games in my future this year), but makes sense if you’ve been following along.

On top of Tua’s remarkable performance, Kirk Cousins was even better with 29! On top of that, my starting receivers – Jerry Jeudy and A.J. Brown – scored 25.5 and 20.1 respectively (Brown did indeed continue his streak of scoring at least one touchdown!). There wasn’t really a dud in the bunch, though my 3-headed running back hydra all scored in the 11-14 range which is just so-so. I didn’t get enough of a boost from the Washington defense to really make them worth picking up in the first place (somehow, the Giants and Daniel Jones managed to NOT turn the ball over for the first time all season, the one week I needed them to of course), but in the end it didn’t matter.

Speaking of Jerry Jeudy, I’m finding him to be a really interesting mid-season find for my roster, not just as a potential keeper, but as a potential Starting Wide Receiver alongside A.J. Brown. As a rookie, Jeudy clearly had the best game of his career this past week, which is giving me pause, as I had intended him to be a one-game plug-and-play. I wouldn’t have even picked him up at all if Brandon Aiyuk wasn’t placed on the COVID list! But, Jeudy has 24 targets in his last two games. Now, the downside is, obviously, Denver’s quarterback situation. It’s not good. But, Drew Lock is CLEARLY better than his backups, and they can somewhat move the ball when he’s in there. I can’t tell if Lock is good yet (as I absolutely refuse to watch Broncos games because they’re so boring), but he might be. And I think Jeudy has the potential to be this year’s A.J. Brown (who, down the stretch LAST year as a rookie, really dominated for a lot of really good fantasy teams). So, I think I’m going to hang onto Jeudy and start him for a while, because his matchups the rest of the way are pretty solid. And, if he kills it, my wide receiver spot is locked cold!

Beasts got a huge boost from the return of Christian McCaffery (37.1), but Russell Wilson obviously had a tough game, and Justin Herbert was the only other player on his team to hit double-digits. Everyone else was under 10.

Before the weekend was finished, I made a roster move, picking up Dallas Goedert, who is healthy and the primary tight end (at the moment) for Carson Wentz and the Eagles. Noah Fant is not so reliable for me; he keeps getting injured (missing some snaps this past week after an early big gainer, never really picking things up from there) and he’s on an offense (again with the Broncos) that can struggle to move the ball. Goedert is a legitimate Top 10 tight end when healthy, on an offense that LOVES to throw to its tight ends (especially in the red zone). As long as Zach Ertz is out, Goedert is a phenomenal pick-up for me.

To make room, I officially had to abandon the Daniel Jones experiment. He went from keeper (and hopeful fantasy franchise quarterback), to on the waiver wire in half a season. What a disgrace! Both for him and for me! But, I mean, you can’t keep banging your head against the wall when something isn’t working. I have Cousins now and he’s a much more reliable third QB. Tua is the future! Dimes was a mistake.

More roster moves needed to be made, as it appeared I had two wide receivers coming off of the IR in Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. My first drop went to the Washington defense. I had three on my roster last week and that’s about two too many (but I’ll never drop the Rams’ defense, as they’ve got solid matchups coming up this season).

As of press time, I haven’t officially made the other move I need to make, because I still have up until Sunday morning. You never know who’s going to get tagged with a COVID designation for the week, so I don’t want to go dropping anyone before I have to. If I do end up needing to drop someone, it’s going to be Noah Fant. I have no use for two tight ends on my roster and if Goedert ends up getting hurt again, I’ll just pick up someone else. Fant isn’t even a top ten tight end – though he’s been a relatively consistent high-floor/low-ceiling guy – so I don’t mind streaming tight ends the rest of the year if I need to.

My concern is: my kicker is on a BYE this week. Harrison Butker hasn’t been the world-beater I expected (I REALLY regret taking him over Justin Tucker two rounds before the final round, where most people draft their kickers); he’s ranked 14th in our league this season. The Chiefs predominantly score touchdowns because they have an elite offense, which was to be expected, but he hasn’t been hitting as many 50+ yarders as I thought he would, and he’s annoyingly missed the most PATs in football, that have taken points AWAY from his total! But, I don’t want to just fucking lose him for nothing, because I know as soon as I drop him, he’s going to go off for some games in the high teens. So, I’ll be waiting until the last minute to pick up a replacement kicker; the guy I end up dropping to do THAT will be TBD.

This week, I go up against Crazy N8’s Prostates, the guy I improbably defeated in Week 1, as well as the guy who just traded for Drew Brees and Julio Jones. He’s currently 4th in the standings, yet has far-and-away scored the most points. Here’s what Nobody Beats The Wiz is looking at starting:

  • Tua Tagovailoa (QB) vs. LAC
  • Carson Wentz (QB) @ NYG
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. IND
  • Jerry Jeudy (WR) @ LV
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) vs. DEN
  • Chase Edmonds (RB) vs. BUF
  • Dallas Goedert (TE) @ NYG
  • Brandon Aiyuk (WR) @ NO
  • TBD (K) vs. TBD
  • Indianapolis (DEF) @ TEN

Pretty easy choice with the quarterbacks, as Kirk Cousins is playing a stout Bears defense on Monday Night Football. I expect that game to be low scoring, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Cousins turn the ball over a lot. Also a no-brainer for my starting wide receivers, as Brown is a Must Start and Jeudy might be heading that way. It’s a no-brainer for my running backs as well, because Ezekiel Elliott and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are both on BYEs. My FLEX spot is still up in the air, as there’s a rumor that Deebo Samuel might be healthy this week. If he is, he’s my guy over Aiyuk. However, with the 49ers scheduled to have a BYE next week, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them rest Deebo one more week before bringing him back super fresh. As for my defense, I don’t love the matchup, but I can’t play the Rams against my Seahawks, even if Aaron Donald alone will probably get three sacks and they could have a field day if Wilson continues to turn the ball over like he’s been doing.

I’m catching some more good BYE-week luck with Crazy N8’s Prostates, as both Julio Jones and Travis Kelce are out this week. As you’ll see, though, he has replacements more than capable of filling their shoes:

  • Josh Allen (QB) @ ARI
  • Drew Brees (QB) vs. SF
  • Allen Robinson (WR) vs. MIN
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. SEA
  • James Conner (RB) vs. CIN
  • Aaron Jones (RB) vs. JAX
  • Eric Ebron (TE) vs. CIN
  • Keenan Allen (WR) @ MIA
  • Justin Tucker (K) @ NE
  • Green Bay (DEF) vs. JAX

He has some of the SICKEST matchups this week. I mean, Robert Woods alone – against our inept Seahawks defense – is just a nightmare. But, all his receivers should do great, his running backs might score three TDs apiece, his quarterbacks will certainly be fine, and I bet Baltimore kicks a lot of field goals against the Patriots on the road. He’s even got an elite defensive matchup (I should know, I picked up the Packers this week in my other league, where I should reiterate I am CRUSHING it).

Nobody Beats The Wiz is going to need to WILDLY outscore projections. This would be, probably, the most perfect time to net my first 200-point week of the season.

At 4-5, I’m in 7th place in the league, JUST on the outside-looking-in at the playoffs. I now have the third-fewest total points, having leapfrogged Korky Butchek for the honor. Now that everyone has played everyone once, we officially have a season that will count in the record books; if COVID officially ruins everything … well, I won’t have my name on the trophy, that’s for damn sure.

That having been said, I don’t expect the season to ever shut down completely. I have four weeks to make up ground. If I get lucky, my final two regular season games could be against my direct competition for the 6th and final spot in the playoffs. I technically have control of my own destiny; if I win out, I will definitely make the post-season. But, come on, let’s not go overboard here.

One week at a time. Let’s go 2-0 against Crazy N8! Wouldn’t that be something?

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Tua Thine Own Self Be True

Just another brutal loss in a season full of them. It shouldn’t be difficult in our league to score over 140 points. My team is pretty awful and I’m still AVERAGING 148.22 per week (and I’m about 13 points away from having the fewest in the entire league). So, it’s saying something when I lose a game 139.05 to 119.90 to The Lance Petemans.

Was there anything I could’ve done to make up those 20 points? No reasonable human being with my roster of players at his disposal is going to bench Carson Wentz against the lowly Dallas defense; yet Carson Wentz only got me 9.85 points (thanks to 2 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles; that’s negative 10 points right there). My best two quarterbacks of the week were both on my bench. Tua and Wentz combined for 18.5, but Kirk Cousins and Danny Dimes only combined for 32.8, which STILL doesn’t make up the overall deficit. Beyond that, no one on my bench did better than who I had in my lineup, so it doesn’t matter. Nobody Beats The Wiz is just BAD and that’s it.

Carson Wentz, though, is a God damn shitshow. I don’t know how to explain it; he has NEVER been this awful! He’s obviously pressing. He’s obviously trying to do too much. He’s holding the ball too long, he’s trying to throw it deep too much, he’s trying to throw it into tight windows, he’s trying to force the ball to his guys when he should just throw the ball away, he’s taking too many hits; everything he’s doing this year is the dictionary definition of what an NFL quarterback should NOT be doing. People point to the lack of weapons around him, but I would argue his weapons were WORSE last year, and he still managed a 27/7 TD/INT split. This year, it’s 12/12. He lost 4 fumbles all of last year, he’s already lost 3 in half the number of games.

He hasn’t suddenly gotten worse! Not for the long haul; this isn’t an age thing where he’s fallen off a cliff. I guarantee you in 2021 he will bounce back and have a year closer to career norms. Hell, he might even have a career year next year! This is just one of those random occurrences that happen to good quarterbacks in their prime when everything that CAN go wrong DOES go wrong. And it’s fucking infuriating, because if just HE was playing to his usual abilities, my team would be in a much better position.

I figured Tua was going to have a rough go in his first-ever start. Even though they were at home, and even though their defense and special teams racked up a huge lead in the first half, that’s still a tough Rams defense that’s going to be hard for ANY quarterback to move the ball on, let alone one so inexperienced. If you had told me going in that the Dolphins would win 28-17, I probably would’ve expected more than what I got out of him, but that was a freaky game. Compared to the first start of someone like Justin Herbert of the Chargers, or what Joe Burrow has shown with the Bengals this year, it was a discouraging beginning for Tua. I don’t know if what I saw necessarily inspired a ton of confidence. But, it was only one game, and I’m still Ride Or Die. He goes on the road against Arizona before hosting the Chargers the week after that. These next two games should tell us quite a bit about what we might be able to expect.

In Three-Headed Running Back Hydra News: the Three-Headed Running Back Hydra dream is dead. I had SUCH high hopes for Josh Jacobs this year, but the man just doesn’t get in the endzone enough! Yes, he has five touchdowns, but those are spread out over just TWO games! This past Sunday was his first 100-yard rushing game of the season, but he had zero catches (and obviously zero scores), so his 128 yards (which SOUNDS great) only translates to a disappointing 12.8 points. And that was the highlight for the Hydra, as Zeke Elliott is facing nothing but 15-man boxes (since the Cowboys have the most inept quarterback room in all of football now, which is saying something since the New York Jets allegedly still play the sport), and CEH got all of 6 rushing attempts in a game the Chiefs won by 26 (because, for some reason, Patrick “Ball Hog” Mahomes needed to throw for all the touchdowns against the worst team in football).

In good news, my receivers played well. A.J. Brown scored his fifth touchdown in the last four games, giving him serious keeper potential for 2021. And Brandon Aiyuk got A LOT of garbage-time love in the fourth quarter against a prevent-playing Seahawks defense! He was my most welcome surprise of the day! Also, the Colts defense did me proud in dismantling the Lions on a day where I properly benched the Rams defense (who didn’t even score a third of the points I got out of Indy).

I spent most of the last week trying to deal Kirk Cousins to a quarterback-needy team, but found no takers. Makes sense. One guy ended up trading away Dak Prescott to the last place (scoring) team for Drew Brees and Julio Jones; meaning one team is playing for next year while the other is playing to win it all right now. The guy who got Dak will be able to pair him with Lamar Jackson for the next decade and I could NOT be more jealous. Having your quarterback troubles solved for such a long period of time is a VERY enviable position to be in in our league; it’s what helped The Lance Petemans win so many championships early in the trophy era (when he had prime Peyton Manning and Tom Brady for so long).

So, for now, I’m stuck with four quarterbacks. I need to get rid of either Cousins or Jones at some point, because I’m going to face a BYE week crunch pretty soon. I hope someone bites and I’m not forced to drop one of them for nothing.

I’m actually kind of glad I still have Cousins though, for reasons I’ll get into below. Here’s my lineup for this week:

  • Tua Tagovailoa (QB) @ ARI
  • Kirk Cousins (QB) vs. DET
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. CHI
  • Jerry Jeudy (WR) @ ATL
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) @ LAC
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. CAR
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ ATL
  • Chase Edmonds (RB) vs. MIA
  • Harrison Butker (K) vs. CAR
  • Washington (DEF) vs. NYG

Indy is going up against Baltimore’s offense. While the Ravens have been a little shaky this year (particularly against good teams, which I would argue the Colts are), they still can be QUITE potent, and therefore are a scary team for one to face in fantasy. Washington was out there as a free agent, so I picked them up (dropping CeeDee Lamb, because their quarterback situation is atrocious, as I’ve already mentioned, and I was never going to play him with the way they’re going right now). The Washington defense is pretty good, and the Giants are capable of many multiple turnovers at any given moment, so this feels like a smart play for me. As a result, obviously, I can’t play Daniel Jones this week, nor would I want to. With Wentz on a much-needed BYE week, I’m more than happy to have Cousins going up against a Lions defense that isn’t all that great. Tua, of course, is a no-brainer (for now).

I’m benching Ezekiel Elliott, which are words I never expected to write this year. But, they are ABSOLUTELY inept on offense, and with injuries along the offensive line compounding the QB issues, it makes zero sense playing him against a Steelers defense that’s the absolute best (according to Yahoo!) against opposing running backs. So, watch this be the week Zeke gets 20+ points out of nowhere as their coaches finally figure out how to employ a Zeke-heavy offensive scheme for once (and only once, because as soon as I put him back in my starting lineup, he will surely revert to sucking again; this is the way). However, I’m THRILLED to have Chase Edmonds, who has proven – every time the Cardinals have used him as their primary running back – to be a super-stud for fantasy purposes. Considering they’re going up against a Dolphins defense that’s no great shakes, I have high hopes he’ll make up for what I’m lacking with CEH (who has a decent matchup against a bad Panthers defense, but given the Chiefs’ usage of him, your guess is as good as mine as to whether he’ll get touches or not).

I actually like my new Three-Headed Running Back Hydra for this week, with Josh Jacobs getting a juicy matchup against the Chargers. I’m a little more dubious about my receivers, though. A.J. Brown’s touchdown streak might come to an end against a very-good Bears defense, and I had to pick up Jerry Jeudy as a free agent because Aiyuk was placed on the COVID injured list this week. Jeudy was probably the highest-rated receiver coming out of the draft, but he also plays with Drew Lock and the Broncos, so even against a team as poor as the Falcons, I expect them all to struggle. Jeudy was the best of a terrible bunch of options for me, though, so fuck me I guess.

This week, I’m going up against Beasts. Along with The Lance Petemans, he’s the other guy who’s essentially owned our league in the Trophy Era. He’s JUST getting back one of his primary keepers in Christian McCaffrey, so he’s going to have a roster decision to make soon. He has BYE week guys in Travis Fulgham (Wentz’s primary pass catcher), Darrell Henderson, and A.J. Green. He’s also likely to miss T.Y. Hilton due to injury, so his bench is going to be full of guys he can’t use and won’t like to waive. Here’s his projected lineup:

  • Russell Wilson (QB) @ BUF
  • Justin Herbert (QB) vs. LV
  • Marquise Brown (WR) @ IND
  • Antonio Brown (WR) vs. NO
  • James White (RB) @ NYJ
  • Chris Carson (RB) @ BUF
  • Hunter Henry (TE) vs. LV
  • Chris Godwin (WR) vs. NO
  • Wil Lutz (K) @ TB
  • Arizona (DEF) vs. MIA

Two things I might have going in my favor are Chris’s Carson and Godwin both being banged up. Carson had a foot injury that held him out of the 49ers game last week, though I had originally expected him to gut his way through it. He’s a REALLY tough dude, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back this week, and playing extensively with Carlos Hyde almost assuredly out with injury once again. As for Godwin, he recently had surgery for a broken finger. The Bucs get Antonio Brown back for this one, so there might not be extreme urgency to rush Godwin back as well; but it’s also just a finger, so he’ll probably just wrap it up and play. I suspect regardless of what happens, McCaffery inserts as a starter for one of those guys (as if Beasts wasn’t already in a strong-enough position against my lowly team).

Like I said, though, Beasts doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room if he needs to make a roster move. Anyone he drops from his bench is likely to be picked up immediately; does he want to risk that against an opponent in Nobody Beats The Wiz who he should probably defeat even while undermanned?

I mean, he’s got two of the best fantasy quarterbacks going right now. I have Russell Wilson in my other league (which I am absolutely DESTROYING), so I know the luxury it is having an MVP candidate in your lineup every week. I also like his kicker a lot; I think the Saints are destined to kick a ton of field goals against the Bucs. And, I feel like he just picked up Arizona’s defense to spite me; BEASTS DOESN’T BELIEVE IN YOU, TUA, BUT I DO!!!

My defeat drops me to 3-5, and in 8th place. Oddly enough, Beasts is in 10th place with a 2-6 record, but he’s been riddled with injuries all year. He has almost 60 more points than I do on the season; he’s been plagued by the unlucky circumstance of having the second-most points scored against him. That absolutely should not be a problem this week. It’s likely we’ll find me all the way at the bottom of the league this time next week.

This one seems like an easy one to predict: Beasts Beats The Wiz. Try saying that five times fast! I would, but this noose around my neck makes it difficult …

Predicting The 2020 NFL Season

We’re back! If you’d asked me a few weeks ago to simply predict whether or not we’d have a football season, I probably would’ve said, “Sure,” but there’s no way I could’ve been 100% unequivocal. Anyway, I say it every year and it still holds true, this is my favorite sports blog post to write, and this time we’re getting a jump on things! But first, a look back at my prior predictions:

Last year, I nailed the Eagles and Saints as division winners and whiffed on the Seahawks and Vikings (though, both made the playoffs as Wild Card teams). I had the Rams and Cowboys as Wild Card teams, but neither made the playoffs (though, they were 9-7 and 8-8 respectively). My worst calls in the NFC were the 49ers and Packers being third in their respective divisions (when they obviously won them and were the top two playoff seeds).

In the AFC, I nailed New England, Houston, and Kansas City as division winners; whiffing on the Steelers (who failed to make the playoffs) over the Ravens (who I pegged as a third place finisher, calling them a 7-win team; I was half-right, since they ended up 14-2). I had the Browns and Chargers as Wild Card teams, who won a combined 11 games (the Bills and Titans ended up making it).

As far as the playoffs go, I was WAY too high on the Eagles, who I had as a 1-seed making the Super Bowl. However, I did have Kansas City winning it all, so bully for me!

Okay, without further ado … here’s some more ado. I should point out I’ve never been so underprepared for an NFL season. So, I’m going to take a few minutes here to reacquaint myself as to what happened last year, see where some key free agents ended up, and I’ll come right back with my predictions. It’ll be so quick, you won’t even know I was gone!

And I’m back! Honestly, I don’t know how much insight I’ll have, but let’s get to it.

NFC East

  • Dallas
  • Philadelphia
  • New York
  • Washington

I think I like the Cowboys and Eagles pretty equally. Mostly, I went with Dallas over Philly to change things up. It’s hard to repeat as divisional champions, and I didn’t see anything out of the Eagles last year that impressed me to the point that they’d be drastically improved. With Dak Prescott playing for a bigtime contract extension, he’s motivated as all get-out to play well, and that could be the ultimate decider. I think the Giants have enough to improve from Bad to Mediocre, which I figure accounts for a ceiling of 7 wins. The Washington Football Team is a trainwreck in all aspects of football and life; I can’t see them winning more than 4 games.

NFC North

  • Minnesota
  • Green Bay
  • Chicago
  • Detroit

The Vikings are strong on both sides of the football, with a good coaching staff and a lot of stars. I see a big step-back out of the Packers – who did nothing last year to overwhelmingly impress me, other than taking care of business during an incredibly easy schedule – with the Vikings maybe even contending for the top seed if everything breaks right. The Packers, of course, will be in line for a Wild Card if their quarterback stays healthy. The Bears and Lions both strike me as bad teams heading in the wrong direction.

NFC South

  • Atlanta
  • Tampa Bay
  • New Orleans
  • Carolina

I’m taking a HUGE swing here! I don’t have a good reason to like the Falcons, but I just do. The sensible pick is to repeat with the Saints, but they (and by “they” I mean Drew Brees) are getting old and I could see a few injuries really derailing things for them. If you were wondering who 2020’s All Overhyped Team is going to be (recall last year, that title went to the Cleveland Browns), it’s Tampa! I think they could get off to a hot start offensively, but I think their defense is a year or two away (famous last words, every time I write them), and I’m not buying Tom Brady’s noodle arm. There’s a lot of turnover on offense, and that can be a lot to square away in one offseason during a pandemic with no pre-season games. Carolina will not be much better with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm; he seems like he’s earning A LOT of money for someone who hasn’t accomplished much in his career.

NFC West

  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Arizona

I’m getting a whiff of a Super Bowl Hangover season out of the 49ers. That should open the door for a Rams team that was snakebitten a little bit last year. It’s not often that a 9-7 team fails to make the playoffs; of course, had they made that last-second field goal against the Seahawks, it would’ve been them advancing instead of us. Color me as drinking the Seahawks Regression Kool Aid, because I have a BAD feeling about this season. It’s a lot to ask to put everything on one man’s shoulders, even if he’s as great as Russell Wilson; ultimately I just can’t see this team being so good in one-score games as they were last year. Arizona should be a lot of fun to watch, but I don’t know if they have anything even remotely resembling a defense.

AFC East

  • Buffalo
  • New England
  • Miami
  • New York

The Bills have steadily built up that team to be rock solid in most aspects. I think they’ll win a lot of games in spite of their quarterback play; if he can just avoid a lot of turnovers, they’ll probably win around 12 games with relative ease. The Patriots won’t totally fall off the map with Cam Newton in for Brady, but I don’t think he’s winning a division in his first year there. Miami looked to be on the upswing late last year; they’re still young, but I think they too can improve from Bad to Mediocre. The Jets were going the opposite direction, and they could be one of the worst teams in the league as well.

AFC North

  • Baltimore
  • Pittsburgh
  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati

The Ravens and Chiefs look to be the class of the AFC, so they should continue to dominate as long as they can stay relatively healthy. The Steelers were snakebitten by injuries last year, but otherwise were pretty strong across the board. I think the Browns might be a little underrated and could jump to 9 wins this year. The Bungles are who we thought they were.

AFC South

  • Indianapolis
  • Houston
  • Tennessee
  • Jacksonville

The Colts were a healthy, quality quarterback away from being a playoff team last year. They have Philip Rivers now, and I think he’ll make all the difference for a team that’s pretty good everywhere else. The Texans are slowly being eaten alive by their so-so head coach who is also the league’s dumbest general manager; I think this year was one inept move too many. They won’t win a division without DeAndre Hopkins, and likely won’t even return to the playoffs. I think the Titans were a flash in the pan and I’m not buying Ryan Tannehill. The Jags will be terrible and will contend for a #1 draft pick.

AFC West

  • Kansas City
  • Las Vegas
  • Denver
  • Los Angeles

The Chiefs are the best team in football, period. The Raiders and Broncos are just okay; they could flip-flop spots here and it wouldn’t shock me (but I don’t think either are playoff-calibre). The Chargers are bad. I don’t think Tyrod Taylor will be starting games long, and I don’t think Justin Herbert will be their Quarterback of the Future.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Minnesota
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Dallas
  4. Atlanta
  5. San Francisco
  6. Green Bay
  7. Seattle

AFC Playoffs

  1. Kansas City
  2. Baltimore
  3. Buffalo
  4. Indianapolis
  5. New England
  6. Pittsburgh
  7. Cleveland

Sign the Seahawks up as one of the first teams to take advantage of the seventh playoff spot! If that isn’t the Seahawkiest thing that’s ever happened, I don’t know what is.

Wild Card Round

  • Seahawks over Rams
  • Cowboys over Packers
  • 49ers over Falcons
  • Ravens over Browns
  • Steelers over Bills
  • Colts over Patriots

Divisional Round

  • Vikings over Seahawks
  • Cowboys over 49ers
  • Chiefs over Steelers
  • Ravens over Colts

Championship Round

  • Vikings over Cowboys
  • Ravens over Chiefs

Super Bowl

  • Vikings over Ravens

My backup guess is Vikings over Chiefs, but I guess I’m pretty committed to the Vikings winning it all here. Boy won’t they be partying in Minnesota if I’m right!

What The Hell Were The Huskies Doing?

4th & 3 at the Oregon 33 yard line, tie game, with 71 seconds left:  the Huskies went for it, throwing to Sean McGrew for 4 yards and a first down.  Absolutely the right call!  And, from then onward, the Husky coaching staff lost their FUCKING MINDS.

1st & 10 at the Oregon 29 yard line, tie game, now with 50 seconds left (for some reason, we opted to let 21 seconds go before running another play, even though the previous play netted all of 4 yards):  the Huskies ran the ball for 8 yards.  Not playing hurry-up is idiotic.  Running the ball is semi-idiotic, but it gained a big chunk of ground, and we called a time out, so I can somewhat forgive it.

2nd & 2 at the Oregon 21 yard line, tie game, with 40 seconds left:  the Huskies ran the ball for 1 yard.  Okay, so this is getting REALLY stupid now.  For some reason, we’re just setting it up for a field goal.  Not only that, but WE’RE LETTING THE CLOCK RUN ALL THE WAY DOWN.

I can somewhat understand the line of thinking if this were an NFL game.  You expect a professional kicker to make a 37-yard field goal.  That’s just a shade longer than an extra point in the League.  But, when you sit there and type it out – 37-yard field goal – doesn’t that sound like it’s a little long?  It’s nearly 40 yards, and what percentage of those do you think the pros make?  It’s not automatic, is what I’m saying.  A 37-yard field goal is NOT automatic, not even for the very best kickers in the world.

But, this wasn’t the NFL.  This was college.  This was a Redshirt Freshman walk-on in his first season as this team’s kicker.  And you’re asking HIM to make a 37-yard field goal, on the road, in the biggest game we’ve played all year, against our most hated and feared rival?

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, we still had a time out remaining!  This is still the college game!  You get a stoppage of the clock with every first down!  You have a senior quarterback who was NAILS in this game!  You have stud receivers all over the field to throw to!  YOU HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO KEEP DRIVING CLOSER TO THE ENDZONE, AND YOU JUST FUCKING GAVE UP!

You put it in the hands of a Redshirt Freshman kicker.  Hell, he could’ve been a 7th-year senior kicker and I still wouldn’t trust him!  The best college kicker of all time was drafted insanely high by the Tampa Bay Bucs and I don’t think he’s even in the League anymore!  And you’re putting this team’s season in the hands (or on the foot) of a fucking REDSHIRT FRESHMAN?!

Also, on a side note, why does the college game allow you to burn through all of your timeouts right in a row?  Do we really want to be icing these kickers multiple times on the same attempt?  Does that seem at all sporting?  I’m not saying that’s why we lost, but I’m just saying it’s cheap and tacky.

Anyway, I don’t know what’s dumber, the decision to play for the LONG field goal, or the decision by our supposed hotshot defensive coordinator to REPEATEDLY rush only 3 and drop 8 into coverage.  The Husky pass rush in this game was a fucking trash pile all day, yet Jimmy Lake kept sending only 3 rushers, allowing that Herbert guy to stand in the pocket all fucking day to shred our secondary.  I mean, what were YOU thinking?  Fucking put some pressure on the guy!  Instead of forcing our secondary to cover for 10 seconds a pop, force the QB to make a quick decision and let our guys react accordingly!  If I’m gonna get beat, I’d rather the opposing QB make some miracle throws against intense blitzing pressure, than watch him stand there like a statue all fucking day.

God damn this coaching staff is great, but they ROYALLY shit the bed in this one.  It’s unforgivable.  We’re so fucked now I can’t even see straight.  Now, by the grace of God, we need the Ducks to lose again to get back in the Rose Bowl race.  Obviously, the playoffs are out of the question.  We’re relying on the Cougs to not Cuog the shit out of this thing this weekend as they host Gameday and Oregon at the same time.

As you can see, three days later, I’m still far from over this.  Just, fuck off, everyone.

Washington Huskies Football Preview 2018 Extravaganza Bonanza Tony Danza!

Big year for the Huskies.  That’s an understatement to say the least, but even that doesn’t cover the sheer magnitude of the 2018 season for this team.

Two years ago, the Huskies were up 7-0 in a playoff game down in Atlanta against Alabama, 3 and a half quarters away from one of the biggest upsets of the century.  Last year, with most guys back, the expectations were just as high, and it was undeniably a disappointment.  A late season loss down in Stanford cost us a shot at the Pac-12 championship, but the real culprit was a mind-boggling 13-7 loss to Arizona State (who ended their season losing in the Sun Bowl and firing their coaching staff).  The Huskies were still granted a slot in the Fiesta Bowl, but weren’t all that competitive against a really good Penn State team, ultimately losing by 7 as their late comeback attempt fell short.

This year, somehow, some way, most guys are back again!  We’ve got a 4th-year starter at both QB and RB.  Our defense is loaded (particularly in the secondary), our offensive line projects to be one of the best in the conference, and while this is the second year in a row we have to replace our #1 receiver, the room as a whole looks improved over what it was a season ago.  The Pac-12 overall doesn’t look too strong, our non-conference schedule has some non-cupcakes in it; it’s all laid out there for the taking.

Can the Huskies get back to the playoffs?

More importantly, can the Huskies really contend for a national championship?

Simply being able to ask these questions – and not have it sound ridiculous – makes me so overjoyed I can hardly contain myself.  The Washington Huskies are a powerhouse in the NCAA.  They’re almost certainly the best team in the Pac-12 and probably a Top 10 team in all of college football (currently ranked 6th in both polls).  This is fun.  It’s so much more fun than the alternative (though, at least when the Huskies are terrible, it’s easier to get tickets to games).

So, let’s take a look at the schedule, and try to predict all the games.

  • @ Auburn

It’s a neutral site game, but that site is down in Atlanta, so yeah, this is a road game for the Huskies and a home game for the Tigers.

I’ll say this:  I’m coming around to the idea of having this game played week 1.  I feel like the Huskies need every advantage they can get to steal this game, and having all off-season to prepare is a great start.  Also, wonky things can happen, as there’s no real tape on either of these teams.  That can go both ways though, as you figure this year’s Washington team will resemble last year’s team quite a bit, as far as schemes go.  We can use that to our advantage by pulling out all the stops, and I really hope we do.  Gadget plays, fake punts, you name it!

That having been said, I’m having a hard time seeing the Huskies pull this one out.  Unless Auburn is really overrated, it just feels like too much to go on the road and beat one of the best SEC teams of the season.  I think we can hang with them, I think we can make a good showing for our school and the Pac-12, but in the end I feel like the Huskies will need to run the ball tremendously to win this game, and I can’t envision a scenario where we blast it down their throats.  I think Same Ol’ Jake Browning shows up (you know, the one who’s incapable of winning a big game on his own, without the help of an insane rushing attack), and I think we start out a disappointing 0-1.

  • North Dakota

Easy bounce-back game against a creampuff.  This should be a 38-0 type of game.

  • @ Utah

Woof.  Pretty difficult early schedule for the Dawgs.  I’m hearing nothing but positive things for the Utes this year, so to also play this one on the road – just two weeks after that showdown in Atlanta – is doing us no favors.

I can promise you this:  the Huskies will NOT be 1-2 after three games.  I’m very confident we’ll be 2-1 (with an outside chance at 3-0), so either we lose to Auburn or Utah, but not both.  Given those odds, I’ll mark this down as a win, but I think it’ll be a very close game.

  • Arizona State

Revenge game, against a pushover opponent.  I don’t know WHAT they were thinking hiring Herm Edwards, but that looks like a Hindenburg Disaster waiting to happen.  This should be another home blowout.

  • BYU

Isn’t this fun?  Isn’t it fun to play some quality non-conference opponents?

I don’t have a good handle on what BYU is supposed to be this year, but I always peg them as a pretty big challenge regardless of who they’ve got on roster, since they usually have a pretty veteran group.  As such, I don’t expect this to be a walk-over by any stretch, but I think UW will win comfortably (maybe up over 2 scores by the end).

  • @ UCLA

If you had to ask me who the most over-rated college football programs are in the country, I’d put the Bruins pretty high on that list.  How many times are they rated super high – because they’re an L.A. school – only to greatly disappoint?  I guess you could say the downside here is that Jim Mora is gone, because PEE YOU does that guy suck at coaching.  Not only that, but Chip Kelly is back?!

That actually brought a shiver to my spine a little bit.

While I think it’s great for the conference (if terrible for the Huskies) to have a head coach like Chip Kelly back in the fold, I do think this will be a transition year for the Bruins.  As such, I would expect the Huskies to prevail in this one.  Mark us down for a record of 5-1 at the midway point in the season.

  • @ Oregon

We go from one Chip Kelly school to another.  Oregon is sans Kelly, but otherwise running his program, so I guess if you have to play both of these teams on the road, playing them back-to-back at least affords us the luxury of game-planning for two similar offenses.

The Huskies ended up missing both USC and Arizona, who I believe will be two of the better schools in the conference.  While I like Utah an awful lot, I don’t think they’ll ever get the national respect they’re due.  As such, I could see Washington’s schedule looking A LOT easier in retrospect, if some of these teams don’t pan out.

Oregon is supposed to be good this year.  Quarterback Justin Herbert is supposed to be a stud, and a potential first round NFL draft pick in 2019.  As such, I believe this game will be one of the most important of the season (and not just because Fuck Oregon).  I think this could be a lot like last year’s road game against Stanford, where the winner decides who is going to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

My concern lies not with our secondary – though I don’t think they’ll be perfect – but in our defensive line.  If Herbert has clean pockets, he could potentially pick us apart.  If they’re able to run for a good average, then he’s not going to need to beat us deep.  It’s the same strategy teams have used to move the ball on the Seahawks for so many years:  long sustained drives of dinking and dunking.  In the end, I think the Huskies slip up here; I just hope Oregon has enough losses on their record to let this not be the disaster I’m worried it’ll be.

  • Colorado

After Oregon, the schedule opens up and is a lot easier.  3 of our final 5 are at home, with the road games not looking too dire.  I think Colorado will be bad this year and we’ll take out our frustration on them.

  • @ California

I’m hearing good things out of the Bears, but I think they’re a year or two away from being good again.  While they might put up a fight, I think the Huskies take this one as well.

  • Stanford

They’re ranked #13 in both polls right now, but I don’t think Stanford will be ranked by the time we play them in November.  I think they’re set for a VERY disappointing season and I don’t think this game will be very competitive at all.  Huskies roll.

  • Oregon State

Save our two worst games for last, as the Beavs look like one of the worst teams in the conference.  Easy win for the Dawgs.

  • @ Washington State

If the Beavs aren’t the worst, the Cougs will be.  The Apple Cup is in Pullman this year, but we’ll be bringing it back home to Seattle without any trouble.

***

So, I’ve got the Huskies as a 10-2 team, 8-1 in the Pac-12.  Is 8-1 good enough to win the Pac-12 North?  Well, the way I see it, our only competition is Oregon.  The Ducks miss USC and Colorado.  They host Stanford at the end of September for their first conference matchup; I’ll be rooting HARD for the Cardinal in that one.  They also obviously host the Huskies, which sucks.

The toughest stretch of games for the Ducks (outside of [email protected] Cal-BYE-Washington) will be @ [email protected] Utah (they close out with creampuffs against ASU and OSU).  If the Huskies end up losing to Oregon like I predict, then we’re going to need them to lose at least 2 games against those three teams if we want to represent the Pac-12 North.  I dunno, I have my doubts.  I hope I’m wrong.

If 8-1 is good enough to win the Pac-12 North, I’m going out on a limb to say that Arizona wins the Pac-12 South.  It’s one of those things where you probably would rather see USC – as it looks better beating them, from a national perspective – but I just believe the Wildcats are the better team.  I think we CAN beat them (we certainly SHOULD beat them) so I’ll predict that as a win now.

The question boils down to:  is 11-2, a conference title, a tough-looking non-conference schedule, and wins over Utah, Arizona, Stanford, and BYU enough to get us into a 4-team playoff?

Probably not.  It obviously gets us into a major bowl, but if things go the way I think they’ll go, we won’t be playing for a National Championship in 2018.

So, since the season hasn’t started yet, exactly how huge is this Auburn game?  Are we playing for our playoff lives right out of the gate?

In a way, yes!  I think, from a national perspective, everyone is super down on the Pac-12.  Teams have new coaching staffs in place, the L.A. schools are breaking in new QBs.  There’s a lot of transition right now.  I think the Huskies are deemed to be the best team by far in the Pac-12, and everyone else is at least a tier or two below us.  We’re the great hope!  We’re the ONLY hope!  Outside of someone running the table out of nowhere, the only team that figures to have a shot at the playoffs resides in Seattle.

That having been said, I just can’t EVER see a 2-loss Pac-12 team making the NCAA playoffs (probably not until we expand to 8 teams, anyway).  So, either the Huskies win this game on Saturday – and put ourselves squarely in the driver’s seat for that spot – or we lose that game and have to run the table to get back into the top 4.

If we run the table and go into the post-season with only 1 loss to a quality SEC team on the road, that’s a no-brainer playoff bid.  If we end up with 2 losses, a number of things have to happen.

For starters, we need to beat Stanford AND Oregon.  An ideal scenario where the Huskies have 2 losses and still make the playoffs features us probably losing on the road to a very good Utah team.  Starting 1-2 is never good, but it’s probably something we can overcome if we win out.  Even then, we probably need USC to be the champs in the Pac-12 South and have to beat them in the championship game.  That’s asking a lot.

I’d much rather the Huskies just beat Auburn now, and have a loss they can save for later in the season.  Any way you slice it, I think a 1-loss Husky team that also beats Auburn makes it into the playoffs (even if we somehow get locked out of the Pac-12 championship).

***

This has the feel of a grim assessment of the 2018 Huskies; like I’m writing them off before the season even starts.  I’d just like to say that I STILL think this is an elite college football team.  I’m trying to be realistic is all.

It’s so hard to run the table in college football.  Hell, even teams like Alabama slip up here and there!  Some weeks, things just aren’t going to go your way.  You make too many mistakes on offense, another team’s defense gets lucky with turnovers, the refs call some crazy penalties; you just never know what’s going to happen.

I feel like 10-2 is the sensible prediction for this Husky team.  It’s safe.  Barring a ton of unforeseen injuries to key players, it’s probably unrealistic to expect anything LESS than 10 wins this regular season.  If I’m setting the bar low, just know that this “low” bar is still double-digit wins, which is amazing.

I also feel like the sky is the limit for this team.  Beating Auburn FEELS like a longshot, but isn’t impossible.  We’ll have to execute.  Guys will have to step up and make plays.  But, we’re as healthy as we’re ever going to be, so it’s our best shot against theirs, and I have no problem recognizing this team’s potential.  Jake Browning COULD shock me.  Our running backs are pretty elite; it’s not insane to think they’d be able to run at will.  I fully expect one or two of these receivers to come out of nowhere to blow my mind!  And we’re so fast and strong across the board on defense that there’s no reason to expect we’ll be pushed around in this or any game, SEC or no SEC.

If I had to put a percentage on the Auburn game, I’d say it’s 55% Auburn, 45% Washington.  So, you know, close.  Almost a coin flip.

And, of course, if we win that game, the complexion of this season shifts in an instant.  We have to be seen as the favorites in every other game we’re involved in through the regular season.  While I have to believe we still lose one of these Pac-12 games, I won’t entirely rule out a 12-0 season.  Not entirely.  Some flukey shit will have to happen, but everything about this program is special.  The coaches, the players, everything.

I can’t wait.