Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Nobody Beats The Wiz!

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE
  • Pre-Season Week 2 HERE

Oh that’s right, I’ve decided to name my team after the great Seinfeld character!

Nobody beats this guy!

Anyway, we had our draft last Friday, and of course I opted to go rogue. Look, I don’t know who reads this! I can’t be handing my league-mates possible insights into my fantasy football mind! So, you know, I conveniently left out the part that my top two guys were NOT Mike Evans and Aaron Jones, but rather:

  1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  2. Miles Sanders

To be fair, I did talk about Sanders last week. In going back and looking at his numbers, I didn’t realize just how many targets he gets in the passing game! Considering I also have his quarterback – Carson Wentz – and they still might not have the best crop of wide receivers in the world, I wouldn’t have thrown that connection out of bed.

But, all along, my true number one was always Clyde Edwards-Helaire (I might just shorten that to CEH even though it looks like an unpleasant search term on Pornhub or something). Remember before when I was bemoaning how there weren’t any great rookie running backs in this class? Remember how I wanted my Saquon Barkley? Well, he might be it! He was looking like a dark horse fantasy candidate before Damien Williams decided to opt out of this season due to COVID, but now that he’s the true #1 on the Chiefs, there’s just no denying him! His potential is through the roof!

Sanders would’ve been the safer pick, because at least he has a year of experience. But, I’ll take upside every time.

Just as I suspected, the guy with the #1 draft pick – COVID Bubble Boys – opted to go quarterback with his first selection: Drew Brees. Definitely a Playing For Now type of guy, and you have to respect that. He’s already got Lamar Jackson, might as well take his shot every chance he gets!

That left me with my pick of the litter, CEH. Sure enough, Miles Sanders went #3. THEN Joe Burrow went off the board! Followed by Aaron Jones, Tom Brady, Mike Evans (to the guy who had him last year, in effect giving him five keepers), Baker Mayfield, Chris Carson, and D.K. Metcalf rounding out the Top Ten.

That D.K. Metcalf pick is an interesting one, because he was CERTAINLY a guy I was targeting (although, I wanted him much later than when he went). That’s what’s hard about being in a fantasy football league with guys who either currently live in the Seattle area or have lived a long time in the Seattle area: the good Seahawks tend to get over-valued. Russell Wilson, for instance, has been on the same fantasy team since his rookie year, kept every single time by the same guy. Chris Carson is certainly an elite running back when he’s healthy, but he’s finished every year of his pro career with an injury, and there’s no reason for that not to continue. Tyler Lockett was kept this year mostly because that guy didn’t have a great fourth option for his keepers. And, while Metcalf certainly looked phenomenal in his rookie season last year, he’s still young and still a member of this offense, that likes to spread the ball around more than just about any other.

Metcalf COULD be the next Julio Jones; he seems to be driven as such. But, in this offense, he’s very touchdown-dependant (and very deep play-dependant). You might see a lot of lines like: 4 catches for 88 yards and 2 TDs. Which, yeah, is 24.8 points in our league, but without those two touchdowns, you’re looking at 12.8 points (which is okay, but nothing to write home about, especially for the first receiver you’ve drafted). In my mind, Metcalf would’ve been an ideal third receiver for a fantasy team, so I was a little disappointed he went off the board before I’d even selected my first.

That brings us to the second round (I won’t go through all of them, I promise); with three RBs on my team, I knew I was going receiver, regardless. Thankfully, some great ones remained! Kenny Golladay ended up going one spot ahead of me, but I was okay with that, because it means I get to enjoy Odell Beckham Jr. for the first time in my fantasy career!

I don’t know how ODB fell to me, but I’ll take him! I mean, I sort of know how he fell to me: he plays for Cleveland. He’s a diva. He could score me 40 points … or he could get so mad, blow up, and retire in the middle of a football game. It’s all on the table! The headache and the constant worry can be a little much, and I get that. If he were my first draft selection, I’d be much more nervous; but, as a second? The pressure is off! I’ve already got the guy I’ll be looking to keep next year. Had I landed ODB back when he was on the Giants, I’d be looking at him with those same eyes, figuring I’d hold onto him for many years to come. But, this way? I see him as a one-year rental. A hired gun to help bring me a championship.

I went back to the WR well in round three. Two top receivers from the 2019 rookie class – Scary Terry McLaurin and A.J. Brown – were both sitting there (among many others, of course). Once again, my choice was made for me by the COVID Bubble Boys, as he nabbed Scary Terry. That was a tough one; I had him last year, and was looking to reinvest! The Washington Football Team is a disaster – and they’re starting with Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, which could be a shitshow – but Scary Terry is a rising star and could help make anyone throwing to him look good! So, I settled for A.J. Brown. Considering I thought he might’ve been a keeper at one point, I think that’s a pretty swell consolation prize. I’m not a believer in Ryan Tannehill, but I’m also willing to be wrong. If he – and the Titans – can recapture that magic from 2019, then A.J. Brown could be even BETTER than a #2 receiver.

A lot of other receivers were taken in that round, but I wanted to get one more just to be safe. So, with my fourth pick, I went with DeVante Parker. It was either him or Robert Woods or Michael Gallup (kinda wish I’d remembered he was out there and grabbed him instead) or Courtland Sutton. Parker has been around for a while, but had a breakout season last year; when he’s on, he’s a bona fide #1 guy. But, I think the risk with him is that he doesn’t totally buy in. That he’s more of a fair-weather football player. Plus, he plays for the Miami Dolphins, and they will likely be breaking in a rookie quarterback at some point this year. Look, I’m not expecting a lot out of Parker; I mostly just took him because Yahoo had him rated so high (and because I REALLY didn’t want to pick LeVeon Bell, who fell REALLY far in this draft because he’s old and on the Jets and it’s pretty apparent the current Jets coaching staff doesn’t like him much). If we look back at where I screwed up my season, I’ll be looking at this pick (and probably wishing I’d gone with Gallup).

With my two quarterbacks, three running backs, and three receivers, I took a couple chances on some guys who might not help me right away; “projects” or “developmental guys” if you will. Cam Akers, rookie running back for the Rams, was my fifth pick. I love a running back from an explosive offense! The Rams sent Todd Gurley packing, so that running back job is wide open. I don’t think Akers will start right away, but he could get the nod as the season wears on. If he proves himself, he could be either a valuable trade chip OR a stud for me in the fantasy playoffs.

Then, with my sixth pick, I grabbed receiver Deebo Samuel. He’s injured at the moment, but has just started practicing, and could come off of whatever injured list he’s on. No one figures he’ll play much in the first couple weeks, but if he heals properly, he could be another boost for me after the season gets going. The downside is, of course, that his injury is to his foot, and foot injuries for receivers are notoriously chronic. Part of me worries that he’ll be dealing with this foot thing all year, which won’t be enough to put him on the IR, but will hamper him JUST enough to be rendered ineffective. I suspect the minute I feel confident in starting him will be the game where he comes out in the first quarter with that foot injury, never to return again.

You’ll notice I have yet to mention selecting a tight end. What can I say? The good ones didn’t stick around, and I always saw a better receiver or running back when it was my turn to pick. Finally, I had to bite the bullet. There were a couple potentially-solid guys left over – Hayden Hurst for the Falcons went in the following round, and Hunter Henry for the Chargers went a round after THAT – but I opted to go with second year player Noah Fant for the Broncos. As a first round pick for Denver last year, CLEARLY Fant is someone they want to feature pretty heavily in their offense. Reports indicate they’re moving him all around pre-snap (from along the O-Line, to in the slot, to out wide like a receiver) and I take that as a VERY positive sign that he has a lot of fantasy upside. I know, Drew Lock is their quarterback, but even mediocre throwers still manage to find a tight end safety valve every now and then. I don’t ask a lot from my tight ends; just get me around ten points per week. Anything more than that is gravy. I have a feeling that I might be eating a lot of gravy this year with Fant in the fold.

With my eighth pick, it was time to buy a lottery ticket. Mecole Hardman, wide receiver with the Chiefs. He’s mostly just a big play wide receiver, but he has the best of the big play quarterbacks throwing to him! He’s also one Tyreek Hill injury away from being this team’s #1 guy (and, with the way Hill plays – always putting his body in harm’s way to make a play – that’s not much of a stretch for me to make).

Confident with the rest of my roster – from a skill position perspective, anyway – I decided to use my ninth pick to take the first kicker off the board: Harrison Butker, also of the Chiefs. Give me as many Chiefs as you got! My man Crazy N8’s Prostates bemoaned the pick – as he had the same idea – and he had to settle for Justin Tucker few picks later.

With two rounds left, I still needed a third quarterback and a defense. Yikes, I know. I was eyeballing a third quarterback as early as that DeVante Parker selection, but none of the leftovers really caught my eye. Down to the nitty gritty, there STILL wasn’t anyone who caught my eye; it came down to Teddy Bridgewater, Dwayne Haskins, Mitch Trubisky, and the guy I ended up going with: Sam Darnold of the Jets. Yeah, I know.

Trubisky was a hard pass, because his career is on the ropes, and I don’t know if he’ll still have the starting job by the time I need him (my starting QBs have BYEs in weeks 9 and 11, so it should be some time before I actually NEED a third guy). Of course, idiot that I am, I didn’t realize until the moment of this writing that Darnold ALSO has a BYE in week 11 (SIGH), but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Anyway, I ruled out Bridgewater because I don’t think he’s good, and that team he’s on has no one but an elite running back to throw to. I ruled out Haskins because he sucks and that team sucks. That’s not saying much, because I also think Darnold sucks (and the fantasy league would seem to agree, considering how far he fell) and the Jets suck, but I do believe Darnold has SOME upside. This will be his third year, after recovering from an injury-plagued start to his career. Love or hate his head coach, the guy at least has a reputation as someone who does well with quarterbacks. I don’t plan on starting Darnold unless absolutely necessary. But, if he proves – with improved play – that he’s viable, I may have to work him in (considering I can’t be totally sold on someone like Danny Dimes at this point in his development).

Regretfully, the New England defense went one spot before I picked Darnold; the Patriots were CARRIED by their defense last year, and by all accounts they should be good in 2020 as well (my only concern was not knowing who on their team has opted out of this season for COVID reasons). With my final pick, I went with the highest-rated defense remaining: the Indianapolis Colts. I don’t have a lot of confidence, but I fully expect there to be a good defense for me to grab on waivers at some point.

Yahoo graded me with a B+ which is good for middle-of-the-road in our league (5th in rankings). However, I’m projected for a second place finish in our league at the moment of this writing! I have the league’s youngest team once again, but I’m hoping it actually pays off this time.

More than anything, I’m hoping my team name proves prophetic. Nobody Beats The Wiz? I sure hope so! It couldn’t be any worse than that year I went as Mr. Poopy Butthole …

***

Really quick, let’s take a look at this week’s matchup. Nobody Beats The Wiz is facing off against the aforementioned Crazy N8’s Prostates. Here’s my lineup:

  • Wentz (QB) @ Was
  • Jones (QB) vs. Pit
  • ODB (WR) @ Bal
  • Brown (WR) @ Den
  • Jacobs (RB) @ Car
  • CEH (RB) vs. Hou
  • Fant (TE) vs. Ten
  • Elliott (RB) @ LAR
  • Butker (K) vs. Hou
  • Ind (DEF) @ Jax

Predictably, I’m expected to be carried by my running backs. I think Yahoo is under-projecting Wentz against a terrible Washington Football Team, but they might be over-hyping Indianapolis against the Jaguars, who won’t be good, but could still be a little frisky on offense. Crazy N8’s Prostates is projected to win our league this year, and is favored against me this week. Here’s his lineup:

  • Dak Prescott (QB) @ LAR
  • Josh Allen (QB) vs. NYJ
  • Allen Robinson (WR) @ Det
  • Keenan Allen (WR) @ Cin
  • James Conner (RB) @ NYG
  • Aaron Jones (RB) @ Min
  • Travis Kelce (TE) vs. Hou
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. Dal
  • Justin Tucker (K) vs. Cle
  • San Francisco (DEF) vs. Ari

I have … a lot of concerns. I could see that Cowboys/Rams game being a shootout. I think Josh Allen is going to RAMPAGE over a terrible Jets defense. His receivers both have juicy matchups against mediocre secondaries. Kelce should thrive against the Texans. And, even the 49ers could come up with lots of turnovers in taking advantage of a Cardinals offense that’s pretty aggressive.

Thankfully, there’s so many unknowns at this point in the season. Even after the first week, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions. I just need to ride the wave of anxiety and hope for the best. I think I have a pretty solid team from top to bottom. But, teams are rarely as good on paper as they end up being in real life. Who will be the great disappointers this year? I can hardly wait to find out!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Corona-Draft Prep

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE

Well, the keepers are set in place, and now I get to look forward to our draft this Friday. There were some minor surprises – and a couple big ones – so without further ado, let’s take a quick glance at how wrong I was about my projected keepers for the rest of the league:

  1. Russell Wilson, Christian McCaffrey, Chris Godwin, Matt Ryan (all correct)
  2. Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, James Conner, Travis Kelce (Odell Beckham Jr., Mark Ingram, and Keenan Allen all available to draft)
  3. Deshaun Watson, George Kittle, Derrick Henry, Cam Newton (Aaron Jones)
  4. Jared Goff, Drew Lock, DeAndre Hopkins, JuJu Smith-Schuster (A.J. Brown and Raheem Mostert)
  5. Kyler Murray, Saquon Barkley, Michael Thomas, Joe Mixon (Mike Evans)
  6. Aaron Rodgers, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen (Amari Cooper)
  7. Patrick Mahomes, Alvin Kamara, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett (all correct)
  8. Jimmy Garoppolo, Tyreek Hill, Gardner Minshew, Todd Gurley (Matthew Stafford)
  9. Lamar Jackson, Julio Jones, Austin Ekeler, Kenyan Drake (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold)

I remember being MUCH more successful in predicting my league’s keepers before last season, so I don’t know what that says about me or the state of the NFL right now, but it makes the upcoming draft more interesting!

Until I saw the actual keepers, I wasn’t too thrilled about my prospects as the guy with the #2 overall draft pick. It just seemed like there wouldn’t be anyone really dominating for me to select. BUT, I see two guys among the leftovers who are VERY exciting! Not just for 2020, but for many years to come potentially!

Of this group, Mike Evans and Aaron Jones are both VERY enticing to me. Either one of them could fall to me and I’d be ecstatic with whoever I get. I know I bemoaned Tom Brady’s noodle arm last week, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be interested in the weapons he has to throw to. For starters, Brady isn’t totally inept; he hasn’t fallen completely off the cliff just yet. While Mike Evans has been mostly a deep threat thus far in his career, he still has a ton of value as a red zone target, and should thrive with someone like Brady throwing jump balls his way. If, by the grace of all that is holy, both Evans and Jones were to fall to me, I’d have to go with Evans simply because the drop-off at receiver is so steep among him and the rest of the leftovers.

Odell Beckham Jr. is, of course, one of those leftovers. I can’t say that I agree with exposing him to the rest of the league while keeping someone like Josh Allen, but you know, there’s a reason why I haven’t won a league championship in the fantasy trophy era (2010-Present). I think the Cleveland Browns – and by extension, their players – are pretty underrated in 2020, after being so very OVER-rated heading into 2019, so there could be some good value in guys like ODB and Baker Mayfield. If I picked lower in the first round, I’d be over the moon if someone like ODB fell to me; someone is going to get an absolute steal.

Aaron Jones was one of the best running backs in all of football last year, at least from a fantasy perspective. So, it’s shocking to see him available. But, it’s telling that he is, because the owner who exposed him is also a lifelong Packers fan. If HE’S not keeping Aaron Jones, there must be a reason (he’s also the reigning league champion, but that’s in spite of him auto-drafting last year, as well as never checking his e-mail, so we’re all in agreement that this was a fluke, and if his wife weren’t cc’d on all league e-mails, we’d probably never hear from him again). I have to believe Aaron Jones still has a lot of value, though, so if Mike Evans goes to the guy drafting #1 overall, I’m okay with nabbing Jones, even though I’ve already kept two running backs. There’s still the FLEX spot, and there are only so many bona fide, workhorse running backs in the league, so you really can’t have too many.

That would, of course, necessitate my drafting wide receivers in both the second and third rounds (which might see me needing to reach for some lesser players, but that’s the price you pay, I guess).

As I stated before, I still haven’t done a ton of research heading into the draft, as my objective at this point is still to mostly go by what Yahoo tells me. But, to pique my curiosity, I checked the season projections and found some surprising guys among the leftovers.

Miles Sanders, running back for the Eagles, is rated VERY high. Even higher than Aaron Jones! I can’t remember the last time an Eagles running back was worth more than an in-season free agent pickup (probably Shady McCoy), because they so often are in a time-share with multiple backs. But, he’s been definitively named the starter by the head coach, which is saying a lot but also not saying anything at all. Why would the head coach be motivated to give away such news for free to the rest of the league? Also, there’s no saying he has to stick with that, if Sanders under-produces or gets hurt. Sanders was really good towards the end of last year though, so I think that’s where the hope lies.

Not ODB nor Mike Evans is the highest-ranked wide receiver remaining; that falls to Allen Robinson of the Bears. I don’t totally get that, but ESPN also has him ranked pretty high, so I guess I have to believe it. With Chicago’s quarterback situation being what it is, I don’t have ANY faith in any of their players, but if he somehow falls to the second round, I might have to take him anyway.

Kenny Golladay is also rated above ODB and Evans, and he seems like a safer pick. He has elite talent, and Matthew Stafford is healthy again. It’s looking highly likely that MANY wide receivers are going to fly off the board in the first three rounds of our draft, so I’ll be interested to see who I’m able to grab.

Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, and Darren Waller are the three tight ends I’m looking at right now. Andrews is probably the only guy worth reaching for (maybe in the second or third round, if he’s still there), but if the draft doesn’t fall the way I want it to, I have no problem waiting until the end of the draft to pick up a tight end. There will be someone on waivers worth claiming in the first week or two of the regular season.

I need to resist the urge to get a third quarterback too early, but there are LOTS of veteran options out there (who I would anticipate get snapped up before I have a chance), including Drew Brees, Brady, Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill, and Tyrod Taylor. There’s also Baker Mayfield, who still has a lot of potential to be great, as well as Darnold and Dwayne Haskins (who stunk last year, but is still young enough to turn it around). And then, of course, there are the rookies. The more I think about it, the less inclined I am to want to reach too early for any of them. I also wonder if Joe Burrow won’t be the first overall player taken in the draft, considering the guy picking there and how badly he’s been looking to shore up his QB spots. Having Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow for the next generation might be too tantalizing to pass up.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Here We Fucking Go Again

If you want to read about my 2019 fantasy football season, click HERE and you can see all the prior links at the top. And, if you want to read about my 2018 season (which has a lot of good info at the beginning about how our league works), click HERE.

Note: please don’t go back and read all of that. There’s a reason why this series is called, “Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team”. You’ve been warned; this isn’t necessarily a generic fantasy football column like you may be used to, this is specifically about MY team, and if the players I write about happen to be relevant to your situation, then all the better, I guess.

Just a quick reminder: this is a 10-team, 2-quarterback PPR league where quarterback points are slightly inflated compared to standard leagues (20 yards per point, 6 points per TD, -4 points per INT). So, you know, it’s pretty important to have a couple quality quarterbacks.

We had our annual fantasy football meeting last week, without much tweaking of the rules. For our purposes, the league season only counts – as it relates to the championship and related prizes therein – if the NFL completes nine regular season weeks. I don’t think that will be much of an issue, but apparently we have to account for these things in these COVID times. We also are allowed one extra IR spot (on top of the IR spot we already get) specifically if someone is diagnosed with COVID and placed on leave accordingly. Seems unlikely that anyone super good will catch it, so I’m not too concerned.

It’s another year with four keepers, so here are mine:

  • Carson Wentz (QB)
  • Daniel Jones (QB)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  • Josh Jacobs (RB)

The only holdovers from my 2018 squad are Wentz and Elliott. I made an ill-advised trade for Tom Brady midway through last year – costing me Tyreek Hill in the process – and for that I have much regret. Nevertheless, Danny Dimes looks like he has true stud potential, and as someone I held onto all year in spite of not playing him very regularly, I’m pretty devoted to seeing how he plays out in his second season in the league. Josh Jacobs, from the moment I drafted him, was someone I eyeballed as a potential keeper for years to come (and someone I see has a HUGE upgrade over LeVeon Bell, who was mired on a terrible Jets team with a God-awful offensive line).

The only other serious contenders as keepers were the aforementioned Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell. Brady is REALLY intriguing, as we all know he’s now in Tampa, with a ton of weapons, and with an offensive-minded head coach in Bruce Arians. Like many around football, I’m not totally sold on Carson Wentz. The bloom is off the rose with him, even though he played in all 16 games, had a career high in passing yards (4,039) in spite of having no great wide receiver options to throw to, and still had a very commendable 27:7 TD:INT ratio. I don’t know if the weapons situation is all that much improved, but they went after wide receiver HARD in the draft, and hopefully will see some younger guys from prior seasons step up. So, there was a serious look at Brady over Wentz, but in the end Brady is just so old, and that noodle arm looked SO feeble last year. The offense under Arians tends to feature a lot of deep downfield plays in the passing game. I could see Brady starting off the season on fire, but when I would need him the most – in the fantasy playoffs – I just don’t think he’ll have it. Besides that, Wentz is obviously still very young and should still be viable for many more years; Brady is on his very final legs and could be forced into retirement at any time.

As for Bell, I couldn’t tell you what the Jets have done to bolster their O-Line (other than pay a lot of money to George Fant to be their left tackle, a position he’d rarely been asked to play as a member of the Seahawks). I don’t know if I totally buy Bell as still having it. He was a steady fantasy player last year, but he’s getting up there as well, and if that offense continues to struggle, I don’t know if I see him having a lot of TD opportunities. I’m of the opinion that Jacobs will be a superstar, and Elliott already IS a superstar. Kind of a no-brainer there.

In coming in second place in the Consolation Bracket last season, I earned the second overall draft pick in the upcoming draft on Friday, September 4th. This presents me with a unique opportunity. The deadline for everyone to declare their keepers is this Friday, August 28th, so before next week’s column, I should know who’s available to me.

Since there isn’t a ton to write about this early in the pre-season, I’ll try to take a stab at guessing who the keepers will be for the other nine teams (with guys in parentheses being alternate options):

  1. Russell Wilson, Christian McCaffrey, Chris Godwin, Matt Ryan (Tyler Boyd)
  2. Dak Prescott, Odell Beckham Jr., Mark Ingram, Travis Kelce (Keenan Allen)
  3. Deshaun Watson, George Kittle, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones (Cam Newton)
  4. DeAndre Hopkins, Jared Goff, A.J. Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster (Raheem Mostert)
  5. Kyler Murray, Michael Thomas, Saquon Barkley, Mike Evans (Joe Mixon)
  6. Aaron Rodgers, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Amari Cooper (Adam Thielen)
  7. Patrick Mahomes, Alvin Kamara, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett (Zach Ertz)
  8. Tyreek Hill, Jimmy Garoppolo, Todd Gurley, Matthew Stafford (Gardner Minshew)
  9. Lamar Jackson, Kenyan Drake, Baker Mayfield, Julio Jones (Austin Ekeler, Sam Darnold)

Honestly, I’m not in love with any of these potential leftovers. I’m tempted to more or less auto-draft. I’m happy with my keepers, but I was REALLY hoping there’d be someone super exciting for me to select with my #2 overall pick. Thankfully, we have a straight draft, so I’m #2 in every round. By auto-drafting, I figure I can’t do much worse than I’ve been doing over these last dozen or so years.

I haven’t done much of any research so far this off-season, and I don’t know what I’ll end up getting to prior to the draft. My hunch is: not much. Again, being prepared hasn’t done a damn thing for me; my name sure as shit isn’t on that league trophy, I’ll tell you that much!

One idea I’ve been mulling over is using my #2 overall pick on one of the incoming rookies. I have three players in mind, two of them being the most prominent rookie quarterbacks: Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Gun to my head: I like Tua more than Burrow. But, he’s projected to start this season as Miami’s backup, and their BYE week isn’t until Week 11. So, either Ryan Fitzpatrick sucks and Tua’s thrown to the wolves prematurely, and without a proper BYE week to prepare, or FitzMagic continues to do his thing and we don’t see Tua until very late in the season. The point being: there’s a great chance Tua doesn’t help me much at all this year, and I’d be throwing away yet another season trying to get my shit together when it comes to the quarterback position (with a very small, but important chance that Tua is the next Mahomes and I’d be missing out on my one and only opportunity at getting in on his ground floor).

It just figures that I have this great draft pick for the first time in YEARS, and there are no real stud running backs that would change the course of my fantasy franchise for years to come. Where’s MY Saquon Barkley?!

We’ll see, though. Once the keepers are locked in place, I’ll hop back into the league site and see who Yahoo thinks I should take. It does seem kind of idiotic to have a third quarterback on my roster before even getting ONE wide receiver. At some point, I need to stop playing for the future and start playing for today.

How many times have I admonished myself the last few years by saying that very same thing?

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: All Hell Breaks Loose

I feel these sorts of weekends in my bones. It usually starts with the Huskies losing on Saturday. I wake up as hungover as can be on Sunday, there’s no Seahawks game, and I’m up against a buzzsaw in fantasy. In this case, I’d go on to lose in all four fantasy games I’m involved with, so I avoided watching football entirely (for Family Guy and Brooklyn Nine-Nine reruns in bed).

I kept track of the score on my phone for a while, but at some point it became too sadomasochistic to continue. Beasts, my opponent, started off his week with Russell Wilson going off for 40+ and Chris Carson beating expectations to get nearly 20. Then, he had Christian McCaffrey score almost 50, Matt Ryan in a shootout, Chris Godwin picking up all the slack for the Tampa offense, and for good measure Edelman and Boyd having huge days.

I, on the other hand, benched Josh Jacobs (almost 30) for David Montgomery (10) and Minshew (almost 30) for Dimes (12). Not that it would’ve mattered; Wentz, Hilton, and Waller were all mediocre, and I had absolutely no one in the realm of Beasts’ best guys.

I was crushed 253.66-150.05. I’d be complaining about my bad luck, but someone else in the league dropped 260 on the poor sap who’s still winless on the year. My defeat drops me to 2-3 and 7th in the league. I’m down to just the 6th-most points, but the 2nd-most points against (the last place team has the most points against at 950.65 and I’m at 940.77; the 3rd-most points against is only 793.14, to give you an idea how unlucky we’ve been).

***

What’s worse is that I’m setting myself up for another loss in week 6. I have a tight end and defense on BYE, with no backups to put in their place. Furthermore, Jacobs, Hilton, and Montgomery are all on BYE as well, which is a huge setback.

I’ve got Wentz at MIN and Minshew hosting the Saints; I fully expect two mediocre games from them (Dimes is at New England and is unstartable in this Thursday Night matchup). My Big 4 of Kupp, Tyreek Hill (looking on pace to return for the first time since Week 1), Zeke and Bell are all set to start for me, which is nice to finally have back. But, my FLEX is a little iffy with Scary Terry being my choice over Chris Thompson. They’re playing the Dolphins, so if there’s any time to load up on Redskins players, this might be the week, but with their coaching & quarterback shuffling, who the fuck knows? Can Justin Tucker score 30 points somehow?

My opponent – Crazy N8’s Prostates – will be fielding a full team. They’re, of course, better than me even when I’m at full strength, so I really expect to get killed for the second time in a row. He’s got Dak in a juicy matchup against the Jets, with Cousins in a potential shootout against the Eagles. He has Keenan Allen, ODB, and James Conner; with David Johnson, Ingram, and Kelce rounding out the offense. He could also toss Sammy Watkins into his FLEX if he so desires. And, since he actually has roster flexibility, he was able to grab Dallas’ defense off of the scrap heap, who figure to murder the Jets this weekend; it’s certainly risky to bench Sacksonville’s defense, but when you have a chance to field a defense going up against one of the worst teams in the league, you have to do it.

I’ve just gotta weather this storm and hope for better days in the second half of the regular season. There’s still a lot of time to get right, but I’m in desperate need of Carson Wentz to pick his game up. I also need to figure it out when it comes to Minshew vs. Jones; I somehow make the wrong decision every single week, even though I feel like my judgment is sound. Dimes didn’t have a great matchup last week, but Carolina’s defense to date had been murder on opposing quarterbacks. Maybe it just boils down to Minshew being the real deal and Dimes being a flash in the pan? I can’t help but feel I’m about to have the rug pulled out from under me; that I’m going to finally start Minshew and that’s the week he turns back into a pumpkin.

Regardless, if it wasn’t clear before, it’s all but assured I won’t get to enjoy a Top 2 finish to the regular season (and a first round playoff BYE). It’s hard enough to win ANY week in fantasy, but having to win three in a row during the playoffs is damn near impossible. This week, I’m going up against the last person in our league to do it (I think). Maybe I can get some of that magic to rub off on me.

The other hard truth I might have to face as the season progresses is that my team just isn’t very good this year. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time focusing on the future and not enough time on getting better in the short term. It certainly doesn’t help that I made Roethlisberger my first draft pick, that I got unlucky with Hill getting injured in week 1, and that I drafted T.Y. Hilton over Tyler Lockett, among many other disasterous decisions. This year is a learning experience. Of course, I could say that damn near every year, where I continue to remain off of the championship trophy entirely.

The Most Indefensibly Bad Seahawks Draft Pick Of The John Schneider Era

In the wake of the 2019 NFL Draft, the world at large has run through just about everything you can talk about, so we ultimately turn to manufactured arguments. On the Brock & Salk show recently, they were talking about (I don’t remember specifically) the worst Seahawks draft picks of the Schneider/Carroll era. It might have actually been the worst first player selected in each draft, but my mind immediately went to one player.

Before we get to that, I should back up and mention that every team has bad draft picks under their belts. I’m not picking on the Seahawks because I think they’re bad drafters; on the contrary, I think this crew is very GOOD at drafting. Yes, they often find themselves “reaching” in the eyes of the experts, and they go out of their way to trade down (and even out of the first round) to acquire extra picks later on. But, I believe this front office more than any other (except maybe the Patriots) finds the best value in later rounds to round out its roster with quality players.

Beyond that, the Seahawks do an excellent job of blending Best Player Available with Team Needs. You’re not going to see this team draft a quarterback in the top half of the draft because that would be a waste; if you ever do see that, you’d know that player is probably someone who fell further than they should and bank on him being destined for greatness. Those players experts cite as a “reach” are more often than not guys the coaches are able to build up into effective starters. There’s a method to the Seahawks’ madness that keeps this train a rollin’.

If you had to narrow down the absolute WORST pick this group has made, I think you have to start with guys who’ve never played a single down in the NFL. There have been a handful (certainly more than I remembered before I started writing this post), with the worst of the bunch being the guys who cost us the highest draft capital:

  • Mark LeGree (2011, 5th round)
  • Jared Smith (2013, 7th round)
  • Jesse Williams (2013, 5th round)
  • Jimmy Staten (2014, 5th round)
  • Garrett Scott (2014, 6th round)
  • Terry Poole (2015, 4th round)
  • Zac Brooks (2016, 7th round)
  • Kenny Lawler (2016, 7th round)
  • Justin Senior (2017, 7th round)
  • Malik McDowell (2017, 2nd round)

It’s not fair to go beyond the 2017 draft, although Alex McGough spent all of 2018 on the Practice Squad before jumping ship to the Jags, where you have to believe he’ll at least get a shot at some serious playing time as a backup (that Brett Hundley deal continuing to pay whatever the opposite of dividends are). Of that ignominious group I listed above, I completely understand the urge to say, “Malik McDowell is the worst Seahawks draft pick of all time,” and call this post a day.

There is a GREAT argument behind that sentiment. He was a 2nd round pick, and the first pick of our 2017 draft (after trading out of the first round). He was brought in with the thought process that he’d play right away in a rotation that featured Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, Cliff Avril, and Jarran Reed, among others. You could play McDowell on the outside on base downs, and bring him inside on passing downs, while allowing him to learn behind some all-time greats. Then, presumably, when the season was up, the team could move on from the likes of Avril and Bennett, and McDowell would’ve had a full year’s worth of experience under his belt to move into one of the starting roles.

We all know what happened instead: McDowell got injured before Training Camp even started, Avril was out of fooball a month into the season, Bennett was still in peak form (though just starting his slide; he’d be traded after the season), and we had to make that awful trade for Sheldon Richardson (who had very little impact on the field, and cost us yet ANOTHER second round pick, this time in the 2018 draft). So, not only did McDowell not produce for us, but he actively crippled this franchise for the next three years (we’re still being hurt by this deal, as we’ve had to spend high picks in the last two drafts – and probably another one next year – to fill the pass rushing void).

But, that’s not the premise of this post. Yes, the selection of McDowell was atrocious, but it is wholly defensible.

The argument against that has to do with him being a knucklehead who crashed on an ATV and broke his skull, but I mean, come on. Who could reasonably predict that? The knock against him heading into the 2017 draft was that he wasn’t necessarily the hardest worker in college. He took downs/games off. The talent was there, when he wanted it to be, and that’s why a high first round talent fell into the second round. If you want to be mad at anything, be mad at the fact that the team traded out of the first round in the first place; that’s the REAL crime here. But, there’s a lot we don’t know. Maybe the defensive lineman we liked was already taken, so it made sense to trade down and get more picks. You also have to factor in the players we were able to draft because of those trades, of which there are a number of contributors (including Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, and Chris Carson).

Regardless, the reasoning behind taking McDowell was sound. And, for that reason, I have a hard time placing too much blame on a front office that was struck by some of the worst luck you can imagine. If he wasn’t an idiot, we might be talking about an integral part of this year’s defense right now. We were able to turn Frank Clark around after a suspect college career, it’s not crazy to imagine we could’ve turned McDowell around if we’d actually gotten him into the program.

If you wanted to go away from these types of players who made zero positive impact on the club, you could talk about guys who the Seahawks DID play, and who were actively terrible (arguably providing a net-negative value by virture of their performances on the field). This would include guys like:

  • James Carpenter (2011, 1st round)
  • John Moffitt (2011, 3rd round)
  • Mark Glowinski (2015, 4th round)
  • Germain Ifedi (2016, 1st round)
  • Rees Odhiambo (2016, 3rd round)
  • Ethan Pocic (2017, 2nd round)

Some of these aren’t totally fair. Carpenter was a first round reach, no doubt about it, and it took this team a couple years before they finally figured out where his best fit was on the line. But, once he got past some injury issues and settled in, he’s made a nice career for himself (his last year in Seattle was pretty good, but mostly he’s been a workhorse elsewhere). Glowinski also was a dud in Seattle, though he’s been pretty solid in Indy (and just earned a nice little raise this offseason). Moffitt was an outright bust, in every sense of the word, and a total misfire of a 3rd rounder. Odhiambo has been pretty awful (though, again, I’d argue he’s been thrust into roles he’s not suited for, like left tackle – before we brought in Duane Brown – thanks to injuries and poor planning). Ifedi has been this fanbase’s whipping boy from day one, though his 2018 season was a huge step in the right direction (I would bet some other team pays him a pretty penny once he leaves after the 2019 season); and Pocic has been my own personal whipping boy nearly every time he’s seen the field in his short professional career.

I don’t think these guys really qualify as the most indefensibly bad pick of this era, so much as it simply being indefensible that this team left Tom Cable in charge for as long as they did, when he was better at molding crappy players into eventual quality starters for OTHER teams. A guy like Cable is fine if you have all the time in the world to develop diamonds in the rough; but this team was going cheap on its O-Line (to pay stars at other positions) and needed guys to step in RIGHT AWAY; in that sense, you get what you pay for. The defense behind picking these guys is simple: there’s always a need for offensive linemen, and the Seahawks took more swings at this than anyone else in football. The sad fact is that we simply swung and MISSED more than anyone else, which is why this team fell apart after its Super Bowl run.

All of this is preamble for what I’m going to tell you is, without a doubt, the worst and most indefensible draft pick of the John Schneider era:

  • Christine Michael

We were coming off of an all-time great run of drafts, not just for the Seahawks, but for any team in NFL history. You can’t rehash this enough, and I’m more than happy to go over it with you:

  • Russell Okung – 2010
  • Earl Thomas – 2010
  • Golden Tate – 2010
  • Walter Thurmond – 2010
  • Kam Chancellor – 2010
  • James Carpenter – 2011
  • K.J. Wright – 2011
  • Richard Sherman – 2011
  • Byron Maxwell – 2011
  • Malcolm Smith – 2011
  • Doug Baldwin – 2011 (undrafted)
  • Brandon Browner – 2011 (undrafted)
  • Ricardo Lockette – 2011 (undrafted)
  • Bruce Irvin – 2012
  • Bobby Wagner – 2012
  • Russell Wilson – 2012
  • Robert Turbin – 2012
  • Jaye Howard – 2012
  • Jeremy Lane – 2012
  • J.R. Sweezy – 2012
  • Jermaine Kearse – 2012 (undrafted)

That’s just clinically insane. So many All Pros and Pro Bowlers and starters and role players just in that group alone, who contributed to this team’s championship run in 2013. You could easily say this group was playing with house money.

So much of it, in fact, that we traded the farm (including our 2013 first rounder) to acquire Percy Harvin.

You could also argue that the 2013 NFL Draft was one of the worst of all time. Bust after bust after bust among this group; teams even in the top third of the FIRST round couldn’t count on drafting anyone worth a damn; so why am I all up in arms about a second rounder?

Because, motherfucker!

We as Seahawks fans are used to saying, “HUH?” whenever we see who this team ends up picking. In the early going – particularly in 2012 – we were made to look the fool at this way of thinking, as those guys ended up being some of the best players we’ve ever seen. We have that reaction because the guys the Seahawks take aren’t the guys the national pundits spend all offseason talking about. We don’t KNOW those guys; we know other guys who we think are better, but they might not necessarily be good fits for this team. But, at the very least, we could always rationalize WHY the Seahawks took the guys they’ve taken. There are always clear needs, and the Seahawks tend to focus in on those needs just like the rest of us.

As I mentioned before, the 2013 Seahawks were playing with house money. This was a team – in 2012, particularly in the last month of the regular season, on into the postseason – that was already a Super Bowl contender, as is. A bad start in Atlanta in the Divisional Round prevented us from what could’ve been back-to-back-to-back NFC Championship Games and even possibly back-to-back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. No team in December 2012 was playing as well as the Seattle Seahawks – including the eventual NFL Champion 49ers, who we clobbered in that closing stretch – so that 2013 NFL Draft was wide open to do what this team has never been able to do: really go after the Best Player Available.

Think about it, that team had NO HOLES. We were stacked from top to bottom, and as deep as any team in the league has ever been. We CUT guys who would go on to Pro Bowls for other teams, simply because there wasn’t room for them on our 53-man roster!

And yet, as we all know, no team is without holes. We could’ve filled in around the margins; maybe gone after Travis Kelce (taken with the very next pick; can you imagine? Never having to endure the Jimmy Graham debacle?), or the Honey Badger, or Keenan Allen, or any number of third rounders in that draft who are still kicking around the league. Instead, we picked Christine Michael.

And, for the first – and really only time that I can remember – Seahawks fans all said, “HUH?” not because we didn’t know the guy, but because we didn’t know WHY in the FUCK the Seahawks – with inarguably the best running back in all of football – drafted a third running back.

Remember, this team had Robert Turbin from the 2012 draft. While he never developed into a superstar, he was more than fine as a backup. A nice change of pace, someone who took care of the ball and could spell our starter, someone with good hands out in space and fit our zone blocking scheme to a T. Maybe in a different universe, Turbin could’ve been a 1,000-yard back somewhere! When he left Seattle, he succumbed to injuries that kept him from really breaking out, but you never know.

What we DO know is that Marshawn Lynch was Beastmode, and 2012/2013 was right smack dab in the middle of his PRIME! I mean, this seriously made no sense. It was as if the team was trying to push out the best player on its offense for no good God damned reason!

And maybe that was the plan. All I know was that there wasn’t any serious inkling of Lynch retiring, or otherwise leaving the organization at that time. In an ideal universe, maybe Michael sits as the third stringer his rookie year, then takes over in Year Two. But, obviously, we know how things really shook out. Lynch had two of this three best seasons in 2013 & 2014; he was FAR from done! So far, in fact, that the team signed him to an extension in 2015 (which, of course, immediately preceeded him getting injured, then retiring, then being traded to the Raiders for a nice Oakland swan song).

Meanwhile, Michael was terrible, both on and off the field. He didn’t work on his craft, he didn’t have that will to be great; I guess the best thing you can say is that he didn’t get into trouble off the field. But, even in college people questioned his work ethic, hence (again) why a first round talent fell to the bottom of the second round.

Christine Michael was the total antithesis of what the Seahawks sought out in their players under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. And yet, here we were, blowing our first pick on this guy, where there was absolutely no need whatsoever.

There’s no defending the Christine Michael pick, which makes it the most indefensibly bad pick of the John Schneider era.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 10

I’m so fucked.

I mean, last week was just a trainwreck.  Beasts beat up on King Flippy Nips 202.40 to 133.30.  There was nothing I could do!  If you thought Carr’s 9.05 on Thursday night was bad, wait til you get a load of Sam Darnold’s -4.55!  Every skill guy except for Greg Olsen underperformed.  My Chicago defense was always going to be my best thing going – and that proved true at a whopping 41.00 points – but even they were undercut by my opponent’s defense (Minnesota) and their 35.00.  Just unreal.

I’m officially demoralized.  I STILL have the 3rd most points scored, but I’m in 5th place with a 4-5 record (I’m up to the 2nd most points scored against).  Thankfully, this league allows 6 teams into the playoffs, because my only hope is to sneak in as one of the last ones in, but even that is looking grim.

I have 4 games left in the regular season.  3 of the 4 are against the top 3 teams in the league, record-wise (including the top 2 scoring teams, and the #4 scoring team).  The one “push-over” (if you want to call him that) is TheGangUnderperforms, who (with my luck) will probably see a return of Le’Veon Bell by the time I play him.  His team is actually really good, and having Bell around will only further cement my demise, as he shares my 4-5 record and is only behind me because of total points.

So, odds are, I’m going to need a TON of help.  The biggest help of them all would be just winning some fucking games, but I can’t see that happening any time soon.

One way to get that help is to make some drastic moves.  As chance would have it, TheGangUnderperforms – being in my same boat – is equally as desperate to shake things up.  So, just ahead of this week’s trade deadline, we did the following:

I traded away:

  • Kenny Golladay
  • Leonard Fournette
  • Sam Darnold

He traded away:

  • Tyler Boyd
  • Jameis Winston
  • Le’Veon Bell

So, the worst-case scenario in all this is we swapped two useless quarterbacks, two running backs who can’t/won’t stay on the field, and two equally-disappointing wide receivers.  But, I figure his rationale is he wants Darnold as a potential keeper (assuming Darnold makes The Leap in year 2), Fournette is a stud when he’s healthy, and Golladay might turn out to be a real boss (particularly with Golden Tate off the team).

My rationale is:  I figure Winston will get his job back eventually (and throwing a ton of picks per game or not, he still gets a lot of fantasy points), Tyler Boyd is a solid receiver who is a great fill-in this week and a good FLEX option going forward, and if Le’Veon Bell ever decides to come back, he could be a champion-maker (or, if nothing else, he’s a solid keeper option for 2019).

All the risk is on my end.  TheGangUnderperforms really doesn’t have a lot to lose at this point, because holding onto a Le’Veon Bell who doesn’t play this year isn’t going to help his playoff chances.  Sam Darnold is and always was potential keeper fodder for a guy desperately looking for a quality quarterback going foreward.  And, if Fournette returns to form and keeps from getting injured the rest of the way, could be a real game-changer in the fantasy playoffs.

I haven’t seen a lot of Boyd, but I think Golladay is the more-talented guy, in a more passer-friendly offense, and has a higher upside to be a true #1 (whereas Boyd will always be second fiddle as long as A.J. Green is around, and when he’s not around, then Boyd will be drawing the opposing team’s #1 cornerback).  Bell is a better fantasy back than Fournette, but he might not play at all this year (and even if he does, he’ll likely be in some fucked up timeshare).  And, the quarterbacks don’t matter because I have Wentz and Dalton; I’m just hanging onto Winston as a potential backup/injury replacement.

If you look at this trade from a perspective of just the 2018 season, it feels like a wash right now, with a lot of variables left to play out.  We won’t know the true effect on this season until it’s over.  If you look at it from a keeper perspective, then yeah, Le’Veon Bell is the prize pig in this thing; I was never in a million years going to keep Darnold, because I already have a QB I like in Wentz, and I highly doubt he’s going to look even remotely promising between now and the end of the year.  But, of course, our league could choose to vote keepers out next year, at which point I did all this for nothing.  So, yeah, good talk.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz vs. DAL
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton vs. NO
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. ARI
  • WR2 – Robert Woods vs. SEA
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ PHI
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson @ TB
  • TE – Greg Olsen @ PIT
  • FLEX – Tyler Boyd vs. NO
  • K – Matt Prater @ CHI
  • DEF – Chicago vs. DET

My bench is:  Thielen (BYE), Carr, Bell, Carson, Winston, Devonta Freeman (IR).

I keep telling people how frustrating this year is, and that “I like my team,” but that’s starting to not be so true anymore.  I DON’T like this team!  It’s underperforming like a mofo!  Hence my willingness to do this blockbuster deal.  I have bad matchups every week, I’m playing the league’s toughest schedule, everything is fucked and I fucking hate fantasy football.

This week’s huge embarrassing failure will be at the hands of my Week 1 opponent, Crazy N8’s Prostates.  You may recall he beat me by less than 3 points because Derek Carr is a fucking piece of shit (but, I’m the guy who’s kept him on my roster all year long, so who’s REALLY the fucking piece of shit in this scenario?).  He’s got some decent players on BYE, but what does that mean?  Nothing means anything!  Here you go:

  • QB1 – Alex Smith @ TB
  • QB2 – Josh Rosen @ KC
  • WR1 – Keenan Allen @ OAK
  • WR2 – Odell Beckham Jr. @ SF
  • RB1 – James Conner vs. CAR
  • RB2 – David Johnson @ KC
  • TE – Travis Kelce vs. ARI
  • FLEX – Chris Thompson @ TB Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. MIA
  • K – Greg Zuerlein vs. SEA
  • DEF – Green Bay vs. MIA

His bench is:  Cousins (BYE), Courtland Sutton (BYE) Chris Thompson, Latavius Murray (BYE), Dez Bryant, Baltimore (BYE).

I see a lot of direct conflicts again between his guys and mine.  If the Redskins keep up or beat the Bucs, then Adrian Peterson will likely do well.  If they stink and have to throw to come back, then Alex Smith and Chris Thompson will likely dominate.  He has all the great matchups you could ever want:  Travis Kelce, who will surely poach all the TDs away from Tyreek Hill; the two Arizona guys going up against Kansas City’s nothing defense; Keenan Allen going up against the Raiders’ nothing defense; and ODB going up against the 49ers’ nothing defense.  Zuerlein is going to make a minimum of three 50-yard field goals to spite me (as I’m sure Robert Woods will go scoreless yet again).  I wish I was fucking dead.

I’m predicting a comfortable defeat this week.  One of my quarterbacks will shit the bed, my skill guys will continue to disappoint, and I’m sure the Lions’ offense will just shred the Bears’ defense (and me without my Golladay to boot!).

THURSDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:  Crazy N8’s Prostates is trying to make a mockery of my weekly blogging about my fantasy team by making post-Thursday morning roster moves.  Courtland Sutton hits the waiver wire, and Green Bay’s new #2 receiver hits the FLEX thanks to a Chris Thompson injury (ruled out this week, which gives me more hope for Adrian Peterson).

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 1

See my Intro to understand what this is all about.

See my Draft Recap to see where we are heading into the first week of the season.

I’ll be the first to admit I obsess WAY TOO MUCH about fantasy football.  Thinking about my roster, listening to podcasts, reading articles, pouring over the rankings of other people, scouring the waiver wire for potential pick-ups, conjuring trades to try and swindle my friends out of their elite players.  My productivity in general takes a HUGE hit during the football season for those reasons and many others, but I’m no more insane than I am in the lead-up to Week 1.

It’s no more or less important than any other regular season week, but it FEELS like the most important game of the season.  At the same time, I’ve been trying my best in recent years not to tinker too much with my roster before I’ve actually had a chance to see these guys play.  I mean, if I liked these guys enough to draft them a week ago, why am I sitting here second-guessing myself before they’ve done anything to convince me they’re no good?

Last year, I think I managed to go all the way through the first week before making a roster change; this year I wasn’t as strong.  But, I feel I had a good reason:  the Bears made a huge trade for Khalil Mack over the weekend – the day AFTER I drafted Baltimore’s defense – so I used my relatively high waiver priority (3rd in the league) to swap defenses.

My draft strategy this year was simple:  wait until the very last minute to draft a defense.  There are a few you have to feel good about – the Rams, the Jags, the Vikings, maybe the Eagles – but a lot of the time, defense is about matchups.  Likewise, there are countless stories of defenses that came out of nowhere to lead the fantasy league in points, just as there are countless stories of supposedly-elite defenses succumbing to age or injury or simple over-rating.  Why get caught up in the fervor of taking one of the top pre-season defenses early in the draft when you can get one pretty close to just as good at the end of the draft or on waivers after the first week.  So, in this league, I picked up the Ravens’ defense, because they’re going up against Buffalo in Week 1, and that felt like a good one to stream against until some other team popped out as one to go with from Week 2 onward (or, if I got lucky, and the Ravens’ defense was really good in general – and not just against the Bills – then I just got them in the next-to-last round while the suckers in my league wasted precious earlier draft picks on the same quality).

The thing is, even heading into the draft, I liked Chicago’s defense as a possible sleeper.  I think Vic Fangio is an excellent defensive coordinator – on a tier just below Wade Phillips – and I seemed to remember them really going hard after young talent in the draft on this side of the ball.  They seemed poised like a breakout candidate BEFORE trading for Mack; now that they have him, and his sack potential, I like the Bears enough to make them my ONLY defense.

Also, not for nothing, but I like my bench players an awful lot (heading into Week 1, my bench includes:  Greg Olsen, Carson Wentz, Robert Woods, Adrian Peterson, and Kenny Stills).  I don’t want to drop ANY of those guys at the moment, as I feel like they could all play important roles on my team this year.  If I did have to drop someone, it would likely be one of those two receivers, so seeing how they both look in the first week is going to be critical in my line of thinking going forward (gun to my head:  I’d probably choose Woods over Stills, as I like the Rams’ offense more than Miami’s; but Stills could end up as the Dolphins’ best receiver this year, while the Rams have a lot of guys who will divide Goff’s attention).

Anyway, how I plan to do this is I’m going to write up my thought process heading into the week ahead of time, that way my rationale won’t be tainted by events that already happened.  You’re going to know exactly what I’m thinking heading into this week, because I’m writing it before the games start.  Then, I’m going to write a section after the fact, letting you know how my week went.  So, without further ado:

My Rationale Beforehand

Here’s my roster for Week 1:

  • QB1 – Derek Carr vs. LAR
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ IND
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ LAC
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. SF
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ CAR
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette @ NYG
  • TE – Jordan Reed @ AZ
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. SEA
  • K – Robbie Gould @ MIN
  • DEF – Chicago @ GB

Obviously, if Wentz was healthy, he’d be my QB1 and I’d probably end up sitting Carr this week.  On waivers, the available QBs (at the time of this writing) are Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and both Bills quarterbacks.  Of those guys, I might marginally prefer Taylor to Carr based on matchups (I could see Carr getting in trouble against that Rams defense, while Taylor is always careful with the football and the Steelers don’t really pose much of a threat to make his life miserable), but not enough to make a roster change.  I have a lot riding on Carr this year, based on the fact that I drafted him so high and because I believe the Raiders will be throwing a lot, so I kinda need him to work out for me early in the season.

I don’t have a lot to say about my starting WRs and RBs; they seem pretty self-explanatory.  I will say that I’m pretty confident about my FLEX guy as well, as I think Thomas could have a field day against this Seahawks defense.  For what it’s worth, I like Emmanuel Sanders a lot this year, but not particularly in this game.  The Broncos tend to move Thomas around quite a bit, and honestly I don’t see him going to Griffin’s side as much as Sanders.  I don’t think they play Thomas in the slot very much, so that negates Justin Coleman’s impact.  If I’m right, and Thomas is lining up opposite of Griffin’s side on the other end, I think 150 yards and a TD or two is well within his capabilities.  If I wasn’t playing Thomas, I would’ve gone with AP, but I’d like to take a wait-and-see approach with the veteran running back before I commit to giving him regular time in my fantasy lineup.

My biggest sticking point is in my TE spot, where I’ve already waffled once and it wouldn’t shock me if I waffled again.

Here’s the deal:  I drafted Olsen in the 8th round.  As I noted previously, I didn’t intend to use that high of a pick on a tight end this year, seemingly content with taking the leftover scraps.  But, Olsen was sitting there, and I would’ve felt like a fool if I’d let him drop any further.  He’s obviously a tremendous talent, both in fantasy and in real life, and in a usual circumstance, I’d be happy to start him against the Cowboys.  But, then in the 12th round, Jordan Reed was sitting there.  He’s got Alex Smith throwing to him.  He’s in an offense that utilizes the tight end to a great extent even before Alex Smith got there.  And, it’s week 1.  He’s healthy!  He’s probably as healthy as he’s ever going to be.  Indeed, I wouldn’t be shocked if this was the last chance I got to start him, that’s how fragile he is!  He’s going up against the Cardinals, which feels like a juicy matchup, and they’re on the road, so I expect the Redskins will need to throw the ball more than they would if they were at home and more likely to be sitting on a lead in the 4th quarter.  Ultimately, I feel like there’s better touchdown potential for someone like Reed over someone like Olsen, factoring in everything around both players.  The Panthers just have more weapons on offense, and I don’t believe Cam will be as inclined to look for his TE in the red zone as Smith will be.  We’ll see; I have a feeling I’m going to regret whatever I do here.

Also, thinking long term, I fucked up when I took Reed, because both players have Week 4 byes, which means if they both stay healthy between now and then, I either have to drop a really productive guy, or I’ll have to roster a third tight end for a week (or I guess I could take a 0 at that spot for one game, but that seems idiotic that early in the season).

Anyway, that’s that.  Below, read about how my fantasy week went.

***

Week 1 Results

Well, I didn’t want to believe it, but Derek Carr fucked me ALREADY!

I had a 20-point lead heading into Monday Night.  I had Carr left to go; usually, when you’re winning and you have a quarterback still to play, you’re in pretty excellent shape.  I want to say I was an 80% favorite heading into the night.  My opponent, Crazy N8’s Prostates, had Marvin Jones and the Rams’ kicker.  It was a lock, right?

Not so fucking fast.

If Carr had just thrown a single TD, I would’ve won.  If he’d just thrown TWO interceptions – instead of three – I would’ve won.  If Legatron had just missed one of those field goals (he ended up with 17 points in total), I would’ve won.  Instead, I’m a 3-point loser and everything is meaningless.

For a while there, I was looking like a genius with the Bears defense.  I also looked like a fucking boner, because remember how I had to drop Baltimore’s defense to pick up the Bears?  Well, not only did they go off (to the tune of 31 points in our league, way over their expected 17.12), but they went off FOR MY OPPONENT (who picked them up and played them against me!).  At one time, with Aaron Rodgers out of the game, the Bears had 35 points, but then the Packers started scoring, so that total fell to 20 (still well above the expected 9.06 Yahoo projected).

My big decision of Jordan Reed over Greg Olsen ended up panning out somewhat, with Olsen being the one to leave his game with an injury.  Reed beat Olsen by 9.5 points, so bully for me.

That Fournette injury is obviously a concern.  He was on his way to a monster day, but I guess his injury woes aren’t behind him.  Now, every time I have him in my lineup, I have to wonder if he’s going to get me 30 points or 3 points.  As long as Adrian Peterson is healthy – and in a plus matchup – I really have to consider putting him in there more often.

Demaryius Thomas acquitted himself well as my FLEX guy.  Predictably, the Seahawks’ defense posed little threat.  The bigger threat is Keenum’s rapport with Emmanuel Sanders, who went OFF in that game.  Still, my value pick is looking solid so far.

My biggest shining star was Tyreek Hill, who blew up to the tune of 46.10 points this week (he led all non-Fitzmagic players in my league).  He almost pulled my ass out of the fire, but you just can’t overcome a 3-point week out of your top available QB.

Crazy N8’s Prostates’ lineup looked like this:

  • QB1 – Kirk Cousins vs. SF
  • QB2 – Alex Smith @ AZ
  • WR1 – ODB vs. JAX
  • WR2 – Keenan Allen vs. KC
  • RB1 – Shady McCoy @ BAL
  • RB2 – David Johnson vs. WAS
  • TE – Travis Kelce @ LAC
  • FLEX – Marvin Jones vs. NYJ
  • K – Greg Zuerlein @ OAK
  • DEF – Baltimore vs. BUF

I ended up being the highest scorer of all the losers and had the third-highest points in the league this week.  Pretty sad state of affairs, all things considered.  Carson Wentz can’t come back soon enough.  Starting to think about picking up Fitzpatrick.  Things are looking bleak already!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: The All-Important Draft

See the first post in this series for what I’m talking about here.

Well, we did it.  I drafted my team and, if I do say so myself, I think I did a pretty good job!  Of course, I always say so myself, because why wouldn’t I?  I brought in these players, I must like them to some extent!  Because they’ve yet to disappoint me.

It’s all downhill from here.

As I talked about last time, my 3 keepers are Wentz, Fournette, and Elliott.  Since I had my RBs set, I didn’t have to focus on them too much in the early going.  So, after the first three rounds took care of the keepers, I went to work bolstering my WR unit.

I picked 8th, in every round.  I won’t list out every single pick, but I’ll at least show you the first round, to give you an idea of the players we had available:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Saquon Barkley
  3. Melvin Gordon
  4. Cam Newton
  5. Keenan Allen
  6. Davante Adams
  7. Matthew Stafford

So, those were the guys taken right before me.  Both of the top QBs that were left out there, the top 3 RBs, and my two favorite WRs.  I was bound and determined to get a receiver; the available ones were:  A.J. Green, Mike Evans, Gronk (technically a TE, but still), T.Y. Hilton, and Tyreek Hill.  I went with Hill.  I like Mahomes a lot, I like that offense, I think Hill is a stud in the prime of his career who will be the focal point of that passing game (as opposed to the tight end-centric offense run under Alex Smith), and I just believe he has the highest upside to really blow out some games.

I should point out that all of those other receivers I listed off were taken by the time I drafted again.  I still wanted to go WR – to knock that position out of the way – even though I desperately needed a second QB (and, one might argue, a FIRST QB, since who knows when Wentz will be ready).  Adam Thielen was sitting there and he felt like an obvious pick, so I took him (the other WRs were Amari Cooper, Jarvis Landry, Larry Fitzgerald, and Doug Baldwin; I think I made clearly the best choice).

By my next pick, all of those receivers were gone, as well as the next two best tight ends (Kelce and Ertz), so I went into the QB well.  No more QBs were taken after Cam & Stafford, so I had my pick of the shit-filled kitty litter.  I went with Derek Carr, upside over recent success.  I think he’ll be a transformed player under Jon Gruden and even if the Raiders are a terrible team, I think they’ll be behind in a lot of games and throwing the ball a ton.  Plus, they don’t really have a defined #1 RB (a respectable committee led by Beastmode), so I think this could be great for me.  The other QBs available were Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Blake “The Bort” Bortles, Dak Prescott, and Case Keenum.  Ben is obviously better, but I can’t trust him to play a full season.  I might regret not taking Alex Smith though.

When it came back to me, in Round 7, Demaryius Thomas was still sitting there at the top of the Yahoo rankings.  I needed a flex guy, and honestly the value I was getting for Denver’s #1 receiver was too good to pass up.  I might’ve gotten the steal of the draft, or he might be the bust that everyone is expecting.  We’ll see, I’ll take my chances.  By taking him, though, I missed out on Chris Carson, his teammate Emmanuel Sanders, Jacksonville’s defense, the Rams’ defense, Allen Robinson, and Corey Davis, among others.

In Round 8, I took the best tight end available (who was also among the best overall players available), Greg Olsen.  My plan going into the draft was to wait until one of the last three rounds to take a tight end (as well as a defense and a kicker), but Olsen is elite, and the drop-off in tight ends was significant (plus, like I said, he was one of the top players remaining).  I missed out on Marquise Goodwin, Mark Ingram, and Minnesota’s defense, among others.

Next, I started filling my bench, with Robert Woods leading the way.  At this point, I still haven’t grabbed a third RB, and that might be my undoing if I have injuries to my top two guys.  A run on RBs went right after I took Woods, with guys like Lynch, Peyton Barber, Rex Burkhead, Chris Thompson, Dion Lewis, and Carlos Hyde all going off the board.

In Round 10, I went back to QB, because it’s always smart to have a competent third (in case of injuries, BYEs, or if Derek Carr really does suck), so I bought low on Andy Dalton.  In Round 10 of a 2-QB league, I think I got really good value on this one too.  Plus, I think everyone is severely underrating him this year, and I like him to bounce back in a big way.  I passed on Jameis Winson, because I can’t have his 3-game suspension hanging over my head if I don’t know Wentz’s status those weeks and I didn’t want to have to roster 4 QBs.  I also passed on guys like Mitch Trubisky, Mayfield & Darnold, Ryan Tannehill, and Eli Manning, which I’m okay with.

Next up, Adrian Peterson was still there, so I grabbed him.  I don’t know if that’s going to work out for me, but he’s a #1 RB in the 11th round, so beggars can’t be choosers.  The other RBs available were all backups or in time-shares (Latavius Murray, Sony Michel, James Conner, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, and Marlon Mack, among others).  If worse comes to worse and I need an RB off waivers, I’m sure I can find someone, so I’m not too worried about it.  If best comes to best, then in AP I have a 1,000-yard rusher on a good offense.  (I will say that I’m disappointed that Will Fuller V was taken 2 picks after this; I think he’s a stud).

In Round 12, Jordan Reed was still there, so I grabbed him.  Yep, the guy who was going to wait and take whatever TE was left over in the final rounds … ended up drafting TWO of them.  But, when healthy, Reed is a Top 3 TE.  And now he has Alex Smith throwing to him, the ultimate in TE-friendly QBs.  Plus, Greg Olsen is getting up there, so it’s nice to have some TE insurance.

In the lucky 13th round, I grabbed Kenny Stills.  All the podcasts I was listening to in the week leading up to the draft cited this guy as a potential break-out player.  Tannehill apparently loves him, he’s a target monster, and with Landry out of the picture, he should be the team’s #1.  I am CRUSHING this draft with all the value I’m getting!

In the final two rounds, I finally had to go grab a defense and a kicker.  I drafted Baltimore’s defense in the 14th, and ‘Frisco’s Robbie Gould in the 15th.  Whatever.

Yahoo’s stupid grading system put me in the middle of the pack with a B grade.  It hated my Derek Carr pick (about 6 rounds too early according to ADP?), but it loves my Thielen pick, as well as my RB keepers.  My team is the 2nd oldest in the league, which might be troubling; then again, my tendency is to draft a lot of young guys and where has it gotten me?  Nowhere near the championship trophy, that’s for damn sure.

So, we’ll see how it goes.  My schedule is one of the toughest in the league, so that’s fucking great.  Then again, why should I trust Yahoo’s grading?

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team

That’s the refrain, right?  The most boring thing on the planet is to hear about some guy’s bad beat in fantasy.  Being held captive in conversation with one of these dullards is a fate worse than death.  It’s like that running gag in the movie Airplane!  Even the staunchest of fantasy supporters acknowledge it’s a major faux pas to bring it up in any circle, even among like-minded fantasy obsessives.

Well, I’m going to put that to the test this season.  See, this is my website, and as such I can do whatever I want!  Obviously, people don’t have to read it, and I’m okay with that.  But, I’m always on the lookout for a weekly feature I can write up during the football season, and usually it’s just another pointless NFL Power Rankings based on my own under-informed opinions.  I don’t know how interested I’ll be in continuing that, but I do know I’m interested an awful lot in my own fantasy football teams!

I usually sign up for three leagues.  One is just a random, standard-scoring, 10-team league, full of total strangers where half the league usually drops out after a month.  I don’t care about this team, I just do it for fun and to take a whack at standard scoring.

My main league is one I started back in 2003 on Yahoo.  Some members have come and gone through the years, but we’ve distilled it over time to 9 friends who went to college together, and one of my friends from high school.  This will be the league I write about in this column.

The third league I’m in is a Splinter League I started in 2015, out of frustration with the yearly rules changes in my main league.  See, at some point, we started playing for money (at first it was $20 per person, then it was bumped up to $50, and now I guess it’s $60 for some reason), and my friends demanded we turn the thing into a democracy.  At that point, slowly but surely, fun started getting sucked out of this thing.  NEVERTHELESS, we’ve been doing it for so long (and we’ve since added a trophy to the mix, where every year we add the champion’s name to it) that it’s still a big deal to me.  The last time I won our league was the year right BEFORE we got the trophy; I haven’t really come close since, and every year it eats away at me.

Anyway, I started the Splinter League because I thought fantasy football should be fun again, and the only way it’s fun for me is if I’m in charge of all the rules.  So, I renounced commissionership of my main league, I only run the Splinter League now, it’s a $20 buy-in, and the rules never change.  But, no one wants to hear about my Splinter League, because it’s a low-stakes lark.

The main league is called 4West4Life.  It’s a long story (short:  my college friends and I all lived in the same dorm at the University of Washington; we were in the west building of Mercer Hall, 4th floor; aka Mercer 4-West, hence 4West4Life).  Here’s the gist:

  • 10 teams, head-to-head
  • 6 teams make the playoffs (top 2 seeds get a first round bye)
  • Playoffs are weeks 14-16
  • Bottom 4 teams play in the Consolation Bracket
  • To mitigate tanking, we made the Consolation Bracket count towards the draft order the following year (i.e. the winner of the bracket drafts 1st, 2nd place drafts second, 3rd place drafts 3rd, etc.)
  • The rest of the draft order is determined by reverse-order of the playoffs, with a twist (champion drafts 10th, 2nd place 9th, 3rd place 7th, 4th place 8th, 5th place 5th, 6th place 6th; so if you’re in a loser’s game it’s like you’re in the Consolation Bracket and still want to win that game for a better draft spot)
  • It’s a Keeper League, where we had 2 keepers for the longest time, but just increased to 3 keepers this past offseason
  • It’s a straight draft, just changed from a snake draft this past offseason

And rosters are as follows:

  • 2 Quarterbacks
  • 2 Wide Receivers
  • 2 Running Backs
  • 1 Tight End
  • 1 Flex (WR/RB/TE)
  • 5 Bench Spots
  • 1 IR Spot (new to this season)
  • 1 Kicker
  • 1 Team Defense

I won’t get into all the scoring minutiae, but just know this:  quarterbacks are the most important players in our league, not running backs.  Which, honestly, makes sense, because quarterbacks are the most important players in the real NFL.  If you don’t have a top-notch QB, you’re most likely not going to make the playoffs.  But, since in normal 10-team leagues, it’s easy for all 10 teams to have a quality QB, we opted to make it a 2-QB league to add a little challenge.  Yes, you can go for the best QBs in the league, but the rest of your roster might suffer as teams go after the elite players at other positions.

Also, it’s a PPR league; 1 point per reception.  10 yards per point for rushing & receiving; 20 yards per point for passing.  We do allow for fractional points.  Finally, regardless of whether they’re thrown, caught, or run in, all TDs are worth 6 points.  Everything else is pretty standard down the line, with minor tweaks here and there (INT’s are -4 points, for instance).

Last year, my team was Mr. Poopy Butthole.  I was kicking ass during the regular season, then Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension kicked in (I had him, with Dak Prescott as one of my QBs, and Carson Wentz as my other QB).  The Cowboys fell apart, Nick Foles entered the scene, and I ended up in 4th place in the league, winning my first playoff game, then losing in the semis.

This year, in keeping with the Rick & Morty theme, my team is King Flippy Nips!

Per league rules, the deadline to get your keepers in is a week before the draft.  Our league is drafting on Friday, August 31st, so our keepers are due tonight by midnight.  I guess, if my friends are reading this, they get to learn about my keepers a little early; since I’m a mediocre player at best, I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference.

As my season was winding down last year – and I realized I wasn’t going to win the championship once again – I worked my roster around to try to give me the most keeper opportunities (knowing we’d likely expand to 3 keepers this year, it seemed prudent to think about the future).  Quarterbacks and running backs are the overwhelming majority of players kept in our league (QBs more than RBs), so I set my focus there.

My quarterbacks on roster were:

  • Carson Wentz
  • Dak Prescott
  • Mitch Trubisky
  • Nick Foles

My running backs were:

  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Leonard Fournette
  • Derrick Henry
  • Samaje Perine

And, for good measure, my receivers (and tight ends) were:

  • Keenan Allen
  • Davante Adams
  • Cooper Kupp
  • Delanie Walker
  • Gronk

So, I need to keep 3 guys.  My obvious top 2 no-brainers are Carson Wentz and Ezekiel Elliott.  I’m planning on keeping Wentz until the end of time, because I think he’s going to be great his entire career.  And Elliott is one of probably the top 2 or 3 running backs in the league, so I’ll keep him as long as he’s in his prime.

As for those receivers, I’ll get them out of the way now, because I’m not keeping any of them.  Gronk is great, but I can’t trust him to stay healthy.  Allen might be even better from a fantasy, PPR perspective, but he too is difficult to trust to stay healthy.  I think Adams will have a monster year as the unquestioned #1 target for the Packers, but I have enough lingering doubts to risk him to the draft.  The other two are non-starters.

As for the QBs, Foles ain’t happening.  With Trubisky, I just haven’t heard enough good things about him – either during his rookie season last year, or this off-season – to want to take that risk.  I was leaning hard on keeping Dak, because I made him my top draft pick last season (when I was desperate to get my quarterback situation settled for the long term); I had the #2 overall pick, there weren’t a lot of quality leftover QBs, and Marcus Mariota ended up going #1 overall.  But, the way Dak’s game rolled over and died when Elliott was suspended – combined with the fact that his receiving targets are some of the most mediocre in the entire league – I just don’t think he’s going to be that good.

Let’s face it, if you’re in a keeper league, you have to HIT on your keepers, or you’re fucked.  So, I’m going with the three guys that give me the best chance to succeed in 2018.

I don’t know Washington’s running back situation very well, but they strike me as a team that likes a committee, so Perine is out.  I like Henry an awful lot, and I’ve been waiting and waiting for the Titans to dump DeMarco Murray (or for Murray to get injured); let’s just say many a bench spot has been squandered the last two years waiting for Henry to get his shot with the #1 offense.  With Murray now gone, this looked like prime Henry time!  He’s clearly a stud, it’s an offense that likes to run the ball, so he should be a no-brainer right?  So, why did Tennessee go out and pay a lot of money to Dion Lewis?  Lewis who is another great running back (who, I would argue, is underrated when it comes to being an every-down back) and is sure to eat into a lot of Henry’s carries.  So, that turned me off in a big way; it’s like the team just doesn’t have the confidence in Henry to be a feature back for some reason.

Leonard Fournette is the clear #1 in Jacksonville.  On a great team, with a bad quarterback, looking to grind games out and plow Fournette into the ground.  The main concern is Fournette’s injury history – you know I’ll be freaking out at the first sign of a rolled ankle – but his upside is so great I just can’t say no.

So it’s Wentz, it’s Elliott, and it’s Fournette.

The draft is next week at 6:30pm on Friday, August 31st.  I’ll be meeting up with a bunch of friends with my laptop and we’ll be going to town.  I’ll be drafting 8th in this bastardized straight draft, so wish me luck, because I’m gonna need it.

Next week’s post will have to be after the draft (because I’m not giving away any more of my draft plans), sometime during the Labor Day weekend if I can find a way to get my shit together.

Seahawks To Visit Chargers

I have a hard time knowing how to feel about this game.  Obviously, there’s an undercurrent of great excitement, as it’s FOOTBALL SEASON and this is only the second game of said season.  But, should I be nervous about a matchup against a quick-tempo offense on the road?  Or, should I be cocky, because we’re the champs and so obviously the best team in football?

By all rights, the Seahawks SHOULD win this game.  I don’t know about covering point spreads and all that, but at the end of the day the Seahawks should have at least one more point than the other team.  You could realistically say that every week and you wouldn’t be crazy.

But, wonky shit happens.  Like, for instance, let me take you back to a few weeks ago when me and my friends had our fantasy football draft.  I was fortunate enough to have the number one draft pick.  Since this is a 2-QB, 2-Keeper PPR league, I had my quarterback position set and all I needed to do was bust out with the skill position players that remained.  The best player – in my estimation, for fantasy purposes – was Jimmy Graham.  So, I took him #1.  And, as it’s a snake draft – like I assume most of you have to deal with – since I picked first, I didn’t get to pick again until the 20th & 21st picks.  Not gonna lie to you, A LOT of good players went off the board in those first 19 picks.  But, I still managed to wrangle in Alfred Morris and Keenan Allen.

That last name might sound familiar.  No, this isn’t an excuse for me to recap the entirety of my fantasy football draft; I’m here to tell you that I think SO HIGHLY of one Keenan Allen and his potential to be a star in this league, that I made him the very first wide receiver chosen for my fantasy football team.  And yet, this week, I’m benching Allen in favor of T.Y. Hilton’s matchup against the Eagles, because I don’t think Allen is going to be someone worth starting.

So, if I feel so strongly about benching a really good player, I MUST have a pretty strong feeling about the Seahawks winning this game!

And you’d be right.  But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t nagging doubts burrowing into my guts.  Keenan Allen will have the freedom to move all around the field, so it’s not like he’s going to have Richard Sherman locking him down like he did Patrick Peterson last week.  It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see Allen rip off 10 receptions for over 100 yards and really make me look like a fucking idiot.  Nevertheless, the rest of that Seahawks defense is pretty great, so even IF Allen gets his share of targets and receptions, I highly doubt he’s going to reach the endzone.

As for San Diego as a whole, I’m nervous.  When Philip Rivers gets on a roll, he’s the most unstoppable quarterback in the league.  I don’t remember the last time I’ve ever seen a quarterback get as hot as Rivers in a game – MAYBE Kurt Warner, but it’s rare.  That isn’t to say that Rivers is one of the greatest of all time.  Maybe in San Diego history, but not in NFL history, that’s for damn sure.  When Rivers ISN’T on a hot streak, he generally looks befuddled and makes bad decisions.  Not to the point of a Jay Cutler or a Tony Romo, but not too far off either.

Aside from Allen, I don’t really like their skill position players.  Antonio Gates is washed up and should easily be locked down by one of our linebackers.  Malcom Floyd is tall, but he’s not particularly speedy.  He fits right into that mold of receiver that our cornerbacks – Sherman and Maxwell – can dominate.  Ryan Matthews is nothing special at running back.  Danny Woodhead is the NFL equivalent of one of those try-hard, gritty white guys in baseball.  He’s football’s Willie Bloomquist.

Of course, none of that matters if Rivers gets going.  We’ve got to find a way to harass him on a consistent basis.

For the Seahawks, I think this game is going to shed a light on what this team is really capable of.  Defensively, will this game prove that we’ve taken a step back from our crazy heights of 2013?  Or, will it show that we’ve still got it and we’re still the best in the game?  Offensively, will we be able to take our show on the road?  It’s one thing to be at home and line up Percy Harvin all over the field and have him running around, driving defenses crazy.  You’re comfortable there.  Mistakes are mitigated at home, whereas they’re compounded on the road.  I think this offense has the ability to be truly great and to average over 30 points per game.  But, if we’re going to be great, we have to be able to do that anywhere.

San Diego is the perfect team to play, in a lot of ways.  They’re good, but not great.  It’s a road game, but it’s not that far away.  They made the playoffs last year and know what it takes to succeed, but they were never really a serious contender and it’s tough to think they’re one this year either.  They’ve got a good quarterback and a young, tricky defense.  If we shut them down on both sides of the ball, we look like a juggernaut.  If we struggle and win in a close game, it’s somewhat to be expected because of all the aforementioned positives surrounding the Chargers in this game.  If we lose, well, then we’ll know where we’re deficient and what we need to work on.

But, I really don’t think we’ll lose.  And that’s what makes this game REALLY exciting.  Beating up on the dregs of the league has its moments; you generally get to enjoy a relaxing – somewhat boring – afternoon of football.  But, beating the good ones?  Really pounding it in that we’re the best and you’re not even in our league?  That’s taking bliss to another level.

If I could, I’d leapfrog today and tomorrow and make it Sunday morning right now.