Everyone’s Lost Their Minds Over The Falcons Taking Michael Penix

It speaks volumes that there could be so many interesting storylines to come out of the NFL Draft, but all anyone wanted to talk about in the immediate aftermath of the first round was Michael Penix out of the University of Washington, going 8th overall to the Atlanta Falcons.

What started as “GASP! Penix went in the top 10!” soon devolved into “LOL the Falcons sure are dumb!”

I’ll give it this much: the pick is provocative. The Falcons did, after all, just sign Kirk Cousins to a 4-year, $180 million contract with $100 million of that guaranteed. There’s a Broncos/Russell Wilson-level amount of dead cap in the first two years, followed by a Seahawks/Russell Wilson-level amount of dead cap in the third year, before it gets easier to swallow after that. But, with the NFL in the throes of its Dead Cap Era – with teams being more and more willing to honk off a gigantic amount of cap space towards getting rid of players they no longer want – clearly this is not seen as a significant issue any longer, and we probably shouldn’t use it as an argument for or against anything anymore.

When something big like this happens for some other team’s fanbase, I try to put myself in their shoes and see how they’d feel. Granted, I don’t know a lot about the ins and outs of the Falcons’ franchise. I don’t know what their needs are. They have elite players at wide receiver, tight end, and running back; they have the aforementioned Cousins, the prize of this offseason’s free agent quarterback class. Could they have used, say, the third-best offensive tackle? Could they have used their pick of the best defensive players (all still available at 8)? Could they have traded down for a bounty of picks (after no one ahead of them did so) and really bolstered the rest of their roster? I don’t have the answers for you; any of those options seem like a preferable scenario, if the team truly believed in Kirk Cousins, and was in Win Now mode.

This feels like the Falcons had immediate Buyer’s Remorse with Cousins. He’s on the wrong side of 35, he’s coming off of a devastating injury, and even at his best, it’s not like he was ever considered among the elites. He’s a Very Good NFL Quarterback; you have to really hope there’s some Matthew Stafford in him, to get the kind of production you want. There’s no “value” with Cousins, because he’s leveraged his talents towards costing the absolute most money he could possibly cost; it’s only worth it if he brings you a championship. And, so far for 12 years, he’s failed to do so.

In that sense, I can understand why the Falcons did what they did. They’re trying to set themselves up for as much success as they can. They’re trying to initiate a succession plan. Cousins isn’t going to be there forever. The odds of him finishing out the life of this contract seemed slim-to-none, even before Penix was picked. What happens if he tears another ACL? What happens if he’s just cooked after two years? If the Falcons didn’t have Penix in their back pocket, they’d be in the same spot so many other teams are in: shit out of luck, scrambling to find their next guy. Or, if you will, the same spot they were in after 2021.

They didn’t have a plan for the post-Matt Ryan years. He slowly went downhill over his last few seasons in Atlanta, then he was gone, and in 2022 and 2023, the Falcons had nothing. They scrambled and took Desmond Ridder in the third round in 2022, who is not an NFL quarterback, and they surrounded him with never-was’s like Marcus Mariota and Taylor Heinicke. Granted, the teams around those quarterbacks weren’t very good either – other than the highly-drafted skill position guys they kept taking with every first round pick – but that was an unsustainable way to run a team. They needed to make a splash on the quarterback position, and they did it in spades in 2024.

If I was a Falcons fan, I’d be happy with the choice to take Penix, because I would know – either way – we’ve got a good chance of having success at the quarterback position. After what’s happened since they blew the Super Bowl, shit, give me ALL the quarterbacks!

In a perfect world, of course, the Falcons never would’ve signed Cousins in the first place. But, that would have required them to be in on Penix from the get-go. Clearly, the front office needed to take this time in the offseason to do their due diligence. Had they not signed Cousins, though, then they could’ve used those hundreds of millions of dollars to sign every other free agent out there. And, even if they were worried about Penix falling to them, that was silly. He was never going higher than 8th. If they were really concerned about that, they would’ve traded up.

The only person who deserves to be upset is Penix. He’s a 24 year old rookie, and now he has to sit behind Cousins for a minimum of two years (unless, of course, Cousins gets hurt). That’ll put him at 26 years old, conservatively, before he’s projected to ascend to the starting job. You can point to Aaron Rodgers’ career arc all you want, but he had to sit three years, and he was still only 25 when he took over for Favre.

What happens if Cousins does really well in the next two years? What happens if he sticks for a third season? Then, you’re talking about a 27 year old Penix taking over, and having one year (plus a 5th year option) to try to prove himself. He’s extremely hamstrung in his ability to maximize his second contract, if Cousins ends up panning out. Plus, his development is sure to be stunted, if he has to sit for 2-3 years.

As a Penix lifer, it’s going to suck to watch him have to sit for so long. I’m not one to promote rooting for injuries, so here’s to Kirk Cousins either getting traded or calling it an early career!

Worst-Kept Secret: The Broncos Are Cutting Russell Wilson

There’s no doubt about it: the Seahawks won the Russell Wilson trade with the Broncos. If you ONLY count the players involved, we’re talking about the two worst seasons in Wilson’s career, and a 4th round defensive lineman who underwhelmed as a rookie and was suspended for gambling in year two. That was the haul for Denver.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, got something of a mixed bag in return, but still unquestionably the better of the situation.

On the plus side, we got to draft Devon Witherspoon, who looks like a potential star in this league. We also got a starting left tackle in Charles Cross, and a likely starting outside linebacker in Boye Mafe. Mafe had 3 sacks as a rookie, and made the leap to 9 sacks in year two, looking like a very promising pass rusher.

In the middle, we got two very competent seasons out of tight end Noah Fant and we had a somewhat capable backup quarterback in Drew Lock. Both are free agents at the moment, so we’ll see if the team opts to bring either of them back.

On the down side, we got one so-so season out of Shelby Harris before cutting him (this was a season where our run defense was extremely poor), we have sort of a wild card in outside linebacker Derick Hall (who didn’t seem to develop like people had hoped as his rookie season wore on), and we drafted Tyreke Smith in the 5th round in 2022 (who spent his entire rookie seaon injured, and his entire second season on the practice squad before being claimed by the Cardinals in December).

Like I said: a bit of a mixed bag. But, the three “hits” obviously outweigh all the misses down below, and you’re not going to be 100% on moves like this. Frankly, this outcome is probably as good as we could’ve hoped for.

Where the almighty bullet was dodged, however, is avoiding the long-term ramifications of choosing Russell Wilson over Pete Carroll and/or John Schneider.

As always, it’s not totally black and white. Obviously, Pete Carroll isn’t here anymore after two 9-win seasons sans Wilson. BUT, also obviously, the Seahawks don’t have to reckon with a 5-year, $242.6 million contract that is just kicking in THIS YEAR, which boggles the mind. In 2023, Wilson’s Seahawks contract just ran out, which is absurd to think about. A guy who was so highly coveted, couldn’t even make it to Year One of his new deal.

That’s $85 million in dead money, spread out over 2024 and 2025. The Broncos had a brand new regime in 2022, then fired everyone for Sean Payton in 2023. Presumably, Payton will have something of a longer leash to try to turn things around, but it seems like the next two years are going to be a challenge. It’s hard to really try to bottom out and still keep your job, but also that’s probably what’s necessary (trade players for draft picks, go with a super youth movement, then try to bounce back in 2026 in free agency).

Can you imagine what the Seahawks would be doing right now, with that kind of Russell Wilson contract on the books? For starters, I don’t know if we’d be talking about cutting him and eating that kind of dead money. It’s interesting to imagine where this team would be – and what we might’ve accomplished the last two years – with Wilson still in the fold. Considering our shabby draft positioning thanks to the Jamal Adams trade, I have to believe we would’ve been considerably worse the last two years!

Now, the questions are: where will Russell Wilson end up next, and will he be able to resuscitate his career?

There are plenty of dimwits who wonder if the Seahawks might bring him back. He is, after all, poised to earn the veteran minimum (thanks to offsets built into his Broncos deal; any new money paid to him only helps his former team). But, why would the Seahawks put themselves through that? Geno Smith hasn’t been a world-beater the last two years, but he’s still been better than Russell Wilson. And I’m sure that Wilson would prefer to go somewhere with a more-established offensive identity (rather than the Seahawks, who are breaking in a lot of young/first-time NFL coaches).

I would find it extremely curious what the Vikings end up doing, particularly if Kirk Cousins moves on to Atlanta or wherever. The Vikings have two terrific wide receivers who can go get deep balls, and a top-tier offensive line that should be able to accommodate Wilson’s lack of mobility. Paying a guy like Wilson the minimum might help them offset the cost of extending Justin Jefferson for what is sure to be the highest wide receiver contract in NFL history.

Regardless of where Wilson ends up, it’s fascinating to see how the narrative has shifted. In the beginning of his Seahawks tenure, he was just a game manager behind an elite run game and defense. As time went on, and he used his magic to pull our asses out of more and more fires, Wilson was properly rated as among the best quarterbacks in the game. Then, as the Seahawks stagnated later in his tenure here, it was the coaching staff and offensive scheme that was holding him back, until he finally forced his way out. Then, in his first year in Denver, Wilson’s struggles were chocked up to Nathaniel Hackett and his poor performance as the head coach. When even the great Sean Payton couldn’t change Wilson’s fortunes, it was time for everyone to admit that maybe Wilson was cooked, and the Seahawks were never to blame for his inability to get over the hump into a proper MVP conversation.

But, does anyone really have to be to blame?

Wilson’s last truly great year was in 2020. But, even then, you could see the writing on the wall. That Seahawks team ended up winning the NFC West, which was nothing new for Russell Wilson in his time here. But, in the L.O.B. days, Wilson was the perfect complement for an elite defense. In the immediate post-L.O.B. days, Wilson ended up compensating for a lot of holes elsewhere on the roster. But, by 2020, those holes weren’t quite as dramatic. And, Wilson was actually starting to be more of the problem than the solution. He threw 8 of his 13 interceptions in our four regular season losses (13 INTs being the most for him in any one season), and added one more for good measure in our playoff loss at home to the Rams. He mopped the floor with the league through five games, then suffered a massive mid-season lull (costing us 3 of 4) before having the reins pulled back by season’s end. The home playoff defeat should have been his final go in Seattle, but we stuck with him for one more year before pulling the trigger with the Broncos.

This is what happens. Quarterbacks age, and eventually they play themselves out of the league. As it turns out, given Wilson’s limitations, he probably was never destined to play into his 40’s like he’d hoped. I’m not ready to say his time has come to an end in the NFL, because I’d like to see what he’s still capable of with a competent coaching staff who actually WANTS him on their team. I think he’s still accurate enough – and has a strong-enough arm – to bounce back and be a productive mid-tier QB. But, an MVP is out of the question, and I’m guessing so is another Super Bowl appearance.

Other than the Vikings, I wonder what he’d look like in a Browns uniform. Could he also compete for a job with the Giants? And what if the Falcons pass on Cousins? There’s a lot of talent down in ATL, that’s going to make some veteran quarterback’s job pretty easy.

I feel like his worst-case scenario is going to Tennessee or Vegas. The Titans are truly bottom-of-the-barrel talent-wise, and the Raiders seem fairly unstable at the moment (I don’t know if I believe they’re going to commit to their erstwhile interim head coach longterm). After that, it’s probably settling for any number of backup jobs.

As for my personal feelings on the matter, I think I’m coming around again. When he was with Denver, I was all too happy to root against him. I wasn’t thrilled with the way things ended in Seattle, and his personality quirks started to rub me the wrong way. But, now that he’s a free agent, I’m still happy to laugh at the Broncos’ misfortunes, but I’m also starting to feel sorry for Russ. For all his faults, he’s still a good-enough guy, and he did play during our greatest era of Seahawks football. There are still so many wonderful memories with him behind center.

I’m rooting for the Russell Wilson comeback! It won’t be in Seattle, but that’s okay. He can’t hurt us anymore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, here is my lineup for the championship:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My opponent has these guys going:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is Sloane N Steady’s lineup:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s who Toot Cannons has to offer:

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

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

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

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

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

I hate my fantasy life.

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

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

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

Here’s my lineup:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s who Beasts has going:

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

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

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: I Lost A Game I Should Have Won

Consider Week 9 my first game I lost because I lost Cousins.

This was a pillow fight any way you slice it. 137.65 to 113.15. To be fair, no one had a super strong week; scoring was down leaguewide in week 9. It happens. But, I was the worst of the lot. 25 more points would’ve gotten me the win. Let’s explore.

For starters, I had Bryce Young in there, pick-sixing his way to 6.75 points. Josh Dobbs – Minnesota’s backup by virtue of just joining the team last week – entered the game early and scored over 30 points. That’s the difference, right there. If we can assume Cousins would’ve scored around 30, it’s a slam dunk case.

But, I would invite you to join me further down my roster. I started Josh Downs. He was banged up heading into the week, but he still seemed like a safer bet than Addison (remember, Jaren Hall was the starter, and presumably would’ve struggled the entire game had he stayed healthy). If Cousins was in there, Addison would’ve also been in there. As it was, Addison scored 10.2 points for my bench; Downs scored 2 points for my roster. If we project those 10.2 points across the board, all Cousins would’ve needed to do was get me less than 25. Seems VERY reasonable.

I’m chalking it up to the loss of Cousins. It didn’t help that Walker did fuck-all, or Pollard continued driving his own personal shit train, or Jordan Love continues to be a total bum. Now, I’m 4-5 and just barely clinging to 6th place. I’m still at least a week away from Justin Fields returning, I’m like two weeks from Kyren Williams coming back, and Bryce Young is looking like the bust of the century.

In roster shake-up news, I dropped Downs for Tank Dell. For starters, how do you not like the name Tank?! I get it, this screams of recency bias. Dell just had a 30-point game; Downs hasn’t been great the last two weeks. But, looking long-term, it seems like Houston really has something in C.J. Stroud (I’ll never forgive myself for totally dismissing him in the draft, taking Young over him, much the same way the Panthers did). I think Stroud and Dell are going to develop an amazing rapport the next few years. If we’re thinking possible keepers, it might boil down to Addison or Dell. Downs is nice too, but knowing Anthony Richardson will be back next year, I find it hard to believe he’s ever going to be an amazing passer. He might be the second coming of Lamar Jackson – which is very high praise – but when has Lamar ever broken big with a wide receiver? Never. I can see Downs being frustrated a lot in future years; meanwhile, Stroud should be bombing it up and down the field for the next decade, and Dell could very well be the primary beneficiary. Either way, this was my last opportunity to pick up Dell before he’s rostered for good. And, I have a gut feeling that Minshew is going to turn back into a pumpkin the more he plays. I could see the Colts really falling apart as the season concludes.

All that being said, spoiler alert, Tank Dell is on my bench this week. Here’s my team:

  • Bryce Young (QB) @ Chi
  • Jordan Love (QB) @ Pit
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. NYG
  • Terry McLaurin (WR) @ Sea
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) vs. Was
  • Tony Pollard (RB) vs. NYG
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) vs. NO
  • Alexander Mattison (RB) vs. NO
  • Dustin Hopkins (K) @ Bal
  • N.Y. Jets (DEF) @ LV

I actually don’t hate starting Young this week. Why should I be afraid of the Bears’ defense? I very much DO hate starting Love this week, because I think he’s going to be sacked 9,000 times and throw a couple picks. But, I have no choice, because Fields is out, and Aidan O’Connell is going up against the Jets (where he will be destroyed). I thought O’Connell looked fine last week, but he also didn’t really have to do a lot. I’d like to see him actually get into the endzone before I give him a start. As for Love, I will say that I’ve seen teams move the ball against the Steelers quite a bit; I feel like he can have an okay game if he can figure out how to avoid turnovers. I’m not expecting the moon or the stars here; just give me 18-20 points and let’s see if the rest of my team can pick up the slack.

I like McLaurin’s steadiness over Addison’s boom or bust potential. Until I see Dobbs actually find his receivers (and not just check down to running backs and tight ends), I’m limiting my exposure to receivers in my lineup. Enter Mattison, who had a great week last week, now that he’s playing solo thanks to Cam Akers being lost for the year. As for Scary Terry, I think he could have a monster game against the Seahawks.

CeeDee Lamb has been as elite as advertised; he’s got a tasty matchup this week. So does Pollard; if he’s ever going to figure it the fuck out, it should be against a terrible Giants team. I’m concerned about Walker’s health, but that’s why I rostered Charbonnet. Hopefully Walker makes it back okay, because I think he could be good for a couple of scores in this one.

I’m hoping for lots of Browns field goals, and I’m hoping for a 40-burger from the Jets defense. I hope they just KILL the Raiders!

This week, I play the same guy twice, in two different leagues. In this one, he’s You Dropped Your Dildo and he’s somehow in 8th place in spite of having the 4th-most points scored. His roster is full of killers:

  • Lamar Jackson (QB) vs. Cle
  • Dak Prescott (QB) vs. NYG
  • Ja’Marr Chase (WR) vs. Hou
  • Garrett Wilson (WR) @ LV
  • Austin Ekeler (RB) vs. Det
  • Jonathan Taylor (RB) @ NE
  • Logan Thomas (TE) @ Sea
  • Mike Evans (WR) vs. Ten
  • TBD (K) vs. TBD
  • Pittsburgh (DEF) vs. GB

He’s got Waddle on a BYE and Danny Dimes on IR, but that doesn’t matter a whole helluva lot. There’s a chance Chase sits out, but he’s got Joe Mixon on his bench. It’s a total nightmare playing You Dropped Your Dildo! Hopefully, the Browns can slow down Lamar, and hopefully Dallas hands off for all of their touchdowns, but I’m not holding my breath. The skill guys are all fuckin’ elite, and he’s got the Steelers’ defense to boot! I have no chance.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: Down Goes Cousins

Well, I beat Champagne & Sweats 181.45 to 164.25. That brings my record to 4-4. I’m in fifth place, but I have the third-most points scored in the league. That’s the good news, I guess.

The bad news is that Kirk Cousins tore an Achilles, and he’s out for the year. This might do irreparable damage to my fantasy chances this year. I don’t know if I’ll be able to recover. For starters, I have three other Vikings on my team, who all suffer an immediate impact as a result of this injury. Besides that, Cousins has been one of the best fantasy QBs in the league this year! He’s right there with Tua (and would probably be ahead of him had he not gotten hurt during the last game), with only Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts ahead of him (and not by a ton).

So, that’s one of the best quarterbacks – and, indeed, one of the best players overall – lost for the rest of the year. That’s a hit to Addison significantly, a hit to Hockenson moderately, and practically kills Mattison’s value (which was already diminishing as Akers eats into his carries) because the Vikings are sure to be playing from behind the rest of the way.

On top of which, my depth at QB is sus as hell. Jordan Love is Just A Guy, but now he’s thrust into my every-week lineup for the foreseeable future, so I have to pray that he figures it out. Justin Fields can be great when he’s healthy, but who knows when he’ll be able to grip a football again? I already know he’s out this week; it might be two more on top of that, given a 6-week timetable for thumb injuries, then he has his BYE in Week 13. It feels like best case scenario is I have Fields for the final four weeks, but who knows how effective he’ll be after such a layoff? Then, there’s Bryce Young, who immediately becomes my second starter. I had no intention of playing him EVER, or at least until he took a significant step forward in his development. That might not ever happen! Not with how bad the team is around him (especially his O-Line). He’s averaging about 19.48 points per in his last three games, which is probably the best I can hope for. He’s also missed a game with injury and has two other games with fewer than 10 points, which is my nightmare right now.

I tried to make a waiver claim for Will Levis – who had his rookie debut last week, to the tune of 4 TD passes – but sadly not even my #2 waiver priority was enough to get me there. I’ve clung to that waiver priority all season (as a result of where I finished the previous year), but the #1 guy – who also has significant quarterback concerns – was able to leapfrog me. Levis will surely go on to have a Hall of Fame career, and this will be yet another back-breaking setback in a fantasy football career full of them.

Who else is available? Well, shockingly, Mac Jones is still out there. He’s the only legitimate starter I could grab. But, I’ve had him since he was a rookie (sans this season, of course), and he has NOT developed one iota since then. There are a couple of 26+ point performances, but also three games well under 10 (two of those being in the negative). I’m not thrilled, but I had to pick him up just to give myself a little depth for the time being, since my quarterbacks are apparently dropping like flies.

Of course, I dropped him within a couple hours yesterday, when it was announced that the Raiders are absolutely cleaning house. I decided Aidan O’Connell would be a higher-upside sort of guy. Considering he’s a 4th round rookie … probably not going to end up being the next Kirk Cousins (who was, himself, a 4th round draft pick at one point).

What a downer, for an otherwise excellent week. I got 40+ out of CeeDee Lamb, and a combined 40+ from Addison and Hockenson. Everyone but my starting running backs contributed in a legit way! I’m going to need that kind of collective effort A LOT going forward if I want to hang around. Otherwise, it’s the Consolation Bracket for me once again.

This week, I’m facing the other 4-4 team, Korky Butchek. I’m up on him by less than 10 points, so this is quite the Battle For Mediocrity! Here’s my (sigh) lineup:

  • Bryce Young (QB) vs. Ind
  • Jordan Love (QB) vs. LAR
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ Phi
  • Jordan Addison (WR) @ Atl
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) @ Bal
  • Tony Pollard (RB) @ Phi
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) @ Atl
  • Terry McLaurin (WR) @ NE
  • Dustin Hopkins (K) vs. Ari
  • N.Y. Jets (DEF) vs. LAC

If Young can’t get it going against Indy’s terrible defense, I’ll have much bigger concerns about his abilities going forward. I would also love to see Love get it going against a beat-up Rams defense, the way the Cowboys were able to shred them. Predictably, when I dropped Christian Watson, he was picked up by the guy I was going up against last week (the same guy who’s a Packers fan and had been trying to trade Love away from me). He didn’t start Watson, but it’s only a matter of time before Watson starts blowing up like he did last year.

The only start/sit decision I had to make was McLaurin vs. Downs. Given the way Scary Terry has been utilized in recent weeks, combined with how often they have to throw the ball, he should be good for solid points. I may change my mind though. Indy throws the ball a lot, but may have a huge lead and decide to run it to death against the Panthers. We’ll see.

Lotta road games. Lotta bad matchups in those road games. I’m going to get crushed. Here’s Korky’s team:

  • Joe Burrow (QB) vs. Buf
  • Baker Mayfield (QB) @ Hou
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. Dal
  • Puka Nacua (WR) @ GB
  • Bijan Robinson (RB) vs. Min
  • Breece Hall (RB) vs. LAC
  • Dalton Kincaid (TE) @ Cin
  • D.J. Moore (WR) @ NO
  • Jason Sanders (K) @ KC
  • Kansas City (DEF) vs. Mia

Thankfully, Trevor Lawrence and George Kittle are on BYE for him, otherwise I’d get smashed into oblivion. Baker is obviously a HUGE step down, but nothing about Houston’s defense scares me too bad; I think he gets right this week. His RBs are studly and lethal; I also own them in other leagues where my teams are better, so that’s a bad sign. A.J. Brown is up there for best WR in the game right now; no way that doesn’t continue. Moore is a little iffy, but he’s got other capable backups on his bench if he decides to swap him out. I would be a little worried about KC’s defense against the Dolphins, but this game is in Europe, so anything can happen. They’ve also proven to be a fantastic fantasy defense this season regardless of opponent, so I expect nothing to change there either.