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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

Car Talk looks like he’s got the following:

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

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

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

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

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Consolation Bracket Championship Game

Well, through all my Vegas losses, I also lost in the playoffs in the two other leagues I’m involved in; it was almost the perfect storm of shittiness. BUT, I did somehow manage to prevail in the first round of my Consolation Bracket Playoffs in this league. Remember: the winner of the Consolation Bracket gets the #1 pick in next year’s draft, so there are considerable stakes at hand.

I whupped up on Korky Butchek 199.40 to 164.04; if I’d made it to the regular playoffs, I would’ve outscored everyone involved this week. But, alas.

This was the type of performance I was hoping for from my team all year. Wentz and Zeke and the Bills defense and Scary Terry and Waller and Brady and Kupp all had great to solid games.

With my victory last week, I’m guaranteed to draft in the top 2. Last time I was in this position, I lost to the same guy I’m set to play this week: TheGangUnderperforms. True to the name of his team, he had enough points to make it into the regular playoffs, but one blunder in the final week of the regular season – leaving Julio Jones in his lineup on Thanksgiving, when he was inactive – cost him an opportunity. And, in doing so, probably cost me a shot at the #1 seed next year. That having been said, the last time he picked 1 and I picked 2, he took Marcus Mariota and I ended up with Dak Prescott, so if something like that happens again, I think I’d be okay with it.

***

I made 3 waiver plays this week. #1 was Dwayne Haskins of all people. I’ve been killing him on here, but he finally looks like he’s getting the hang of things. He put up 25 points last week against the Eagles and gets a juicy matchup against the Giants this week. #2 was Breshad Perriman, who I should’ve picked up LAST week instead of his understudy, Justin Watson, who did nothing against the Lions after breaking out the week prior. Watson, FYI, is the guy I’m dropping in all three of these moves. The #3 waiver pick is Will Grier. I don’t love the thought of starting a rookie making his first career start on the road against the Colts, but I might have no choice.

***

See, I’ve got Tom Brady’s rotting corpse at home against the awesome Bills defense. I don’t like playing a quarterback against my own defense as a principle, and I especially don’t like playing Brady against my own defense!

My alternate would be the two quarterbacks involved in the Giants at Washington game. I’d probably prefer Danny Dimes in this case, but how healthy is he really? The Giants have the inferior defense of the two, but Haskins (who I got in my waiver claim) is also the worse quarterback of the two, so at the moment I’m leaning toward Dimes, but my mind could change fifty times between now and this weekend.

To pair with Dimes, I’m leaning towards Darius Slayton and hoping the pair blows up the way they tend to do sometimes. Also, I guess I’m Ride Or Die with Cooper Kupp, but I’m far from thrilled with him going up against an angry 49ers defense that’s getting healthier by the minute. My alternative here would be Scary Terry, but what are the odds BOTH of my receivers in this Giants/Redskins game go off? I gotta pick a side, and I’m sticking with the guy who pairs with the quarterback I start.

I guess I’m also Ride Or Die with Le’Veon Bell? God, now I’m starting to understand why I sucked so hard this year. Many things would need to change for him to be even a glimmer of a possibility as one of my keepers next year. He gets paired with Zeke, who’s having a fairly strong finish to the season. With Jacobs out, I’m rolling with the return of T.Y. Hilton in my FLEX. He made it through last week unscathed, he’s got a peach of a matchup, and the Colts are absolutely DESPERATE for a win. If they can’t find a way to get Hilton a few TDs, then I just don’t know anymore.

Waller, Tucker, and the Bills round out my team.

***

TheGangUnderperforms is really too good for the Consolation Bracket, and I’m kind of irritated that I have to face him (especially after he just knocked my team out of another league’s playoffs last week). He has Lamar Jackson in both leagues; I don’t know how anyone with Lamar Jackson doesn’t make the playoffs, but this feels like another conspiracy against me somehow.

On top of Lamar, he’s got Baker and Darnold, so not a great second option (just like me). Unlike myself, Lamar is good enough by himself to score the points of two quarterbacks (whereas Wentz is lucky when he doesn’t shit the bed, considering his utter lack of receiver options).

Then, he’s looking at a fully healthy Julio Jones and Stefon Diggs at receiver; Fournette and Ekeler at running back; and Tyler “Big Balls” Higbee at tight end. For his flex, he’s got Kenyan Drake, who just got 4 TDs last week. He’s also got Dede Westbrook and Mark Andrews on his bench. For good measure, he’s got the Saints’ kicker and Indy’s defense going up against that rookie Grier and those terrible Panthers.

#2 draft pick next year, here I come!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Trade Hijinks

The question on my mind this week: should spouses be allowed to trade with one another?

This is a story about a different league I’m involved with – one that I’m the commissioner of – so don’t get this confused with what I’ll talk about later. I’ll take you back to last Thursday. My team was playing someone who has Drew Brees. It’s also a 2-QB league, and her third QB (the only other healthy one she had on her roster) was Marcus Mariota, who was going up against Jacksonville on Thursday Night Football. She hadn’t updated her lineup all week – so Brees was still in the starting lineup; Mariota was on her bench – as kickoff came and went. I wasn’t about to say anything, because she was my opponent! If you don’t look at your roster by Thursday night, that’s on you! I figured she’d make a free agent claim over the weekend and we’d all have a good laugh.

Instead, on Saturday, I got a text asking me to push a trade through so she could set her lineup.

There aren’t any rules about trades in my league. Not really. I’ve never vetoed a trade in my life and I wasn’t about to start now. I legitimately don’t believe in it. Part of it has to do with trusting people to do the right thing. Part of it is you never know how these things are going to shake out in the long run; you can easily overreact in the moment (if you think one person is fleecing another), but then it turns out to be more even than you expected as the weeks go on. Part of it also has to do with the fact that pretty much EVERYONE has very intense reactions about pretty much every trade that’s ever happened, and by and large they’re largely just that: overreactions because they’re just bitter they didn’t have a chance to make a better offer.

I like trades. I like wheeling and dealing with other people. I like trying to come up with terms that someone else will accept (while at the same time secretly getting something over on someone else with my “brilliant fantasy football intellect”). I like shaking my team up and getting new guys to play around with. And, I generally find the reactions of others pretty amusing when I’m involved in a trade that’s perceived to be one-sided. The funniest parts of the TV show The League are when cries of “COLLUSION” are bandied about, because it’s so true to real life.

That having been said, this trade – on paper – looks pretty bad. It’s not the worst fantasy trade I’ve ever seen (that would still be when I got Shaq in his prime for Erick Dampier one year – which may or may not have been legitimate collusion, I can’t remember – but pretty much destroyed the entire league as a result), but it’s far from equal right now, and I think it’ll look a lot worse over time:

  • “Team Fleeced” Got: Mason Rudolph (QB) and Cleveland’s Defense
  • “Team Fleeced” Gave Up: Damien Williams (RB) and Chicago’s Defense

Now, if the defenses were reversed, and it was Rudolph and Chicago going one way, with Williams and Cleveland going the other, it might be more reasonable. But, just going by draft projections, we’re talking about Chicago (generally the number one defense selected, alongside maybe Baltimore) and a running back that was considered to be in the top 10 of fantasy backs, if not in the top 10 of all players (in standard leagues); whereas we’re talking about an okay defense in Cleveland, and Big Ben’s backup making his first career start. It’s a bad look. To her credit, she already had Minnesota’s defense on her roster, and Cleveland’s defense has a lot of talent, so the Cleveland/Chicago comparisons should probably line up pretty close by season’s end. But, if you polled fantasy football players, I feel like well over 90% of unbiased voters would choose the Bears over the Browns for their own teams, if given the opportunity.

As for Rudolph vs. Williams, it’s no contest. Rudolph looked awful against the 49ers; Williams is the starter on an offense that scores the most in football. He’ll be out for one week, maybe two? Then, he’s dialed in as your starting RB for the rest of the season as long as he remains healthy.

I said up top, we won’t know how this looks until season’s end, but I have a pretty good feeling there will be a clear winner, and with it potential changes to the league’s rules heading into next year.

I don’t want to pick on spouses, because I don’t believe for one minute that this was done with the intent to collude to win a league championship. I’ve known these people for years, so believe me when I say that I trust their intentions. But, I mean, you’ve got two people living in the same house, who’ve got nothing but time to discuss their rosters (I assume that’s what married people do? Talk about their fantasy football teams all day every day?). Why reach out to the rest of the league when it’s so much easier to trade with someone right in front of you? Also, time was of the essence; she had one day to roster a second QB, and Rudolph probably seems like a better option than whoever’s left as a free agent; so there’s not a lot of time to put feelers out to the league on a Saturday when people have lives and things going on.

But, we’re talking about a guy who has been playing fantasy football for over two decades and who’s been watching football his entire life, against a gal who is on her third season in the game (all in this particular league) and is just a casual football observer. In that case, regardless of whether he intended to or not, it’s one person taking advantage of another’s inexperience.

This isn’t the first time a questionable trade between spouses has happened in this particular league. Two years ago, a husband – again, in need of a quarterback – gave up Todd Gurley & C.J. Beathard for Blake Bortles & Kelvin Benjamin. That was arguably Bortles’ best season of his career, but I mean come on. Gurley was the best offensive player of 2017. His wife, who already had a good, playoff-bound team, went on to win the league’s championship, largely on the back of Gurley crushing opponents.

Again, I’m not against trading, but there has to be an argument that both people are getting something at least CLOSE to equal. But, in each of these deals, we’re talking about one person taking advantage of another’s desperation. Being desperate is no excuse for flipping the whole league into one person’s advantage.

So, I dunno. I might have to make a change for next year. I don’t want to outlaw trades entirely, and I don’t want to be the sole arbiter. So, maybe it has to fall to a league vote on every trade. That runs the risk of – again – people being bitter and voting against every trade because of their own biases, but we’ve got people of varying skill levels in this league, and something has to be done to level the playing field.

I really hate my gut reaction to this, because as I said before, most of the time these things are overblown. But, as commissioner, I’m torn. I take that role seriously, maybe definitely too much so. I take things to heart in a situation that’s totally ridiculous and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Football itself doesn’t matter when compared to real life events and whatnot; fantasy football, by its own definition, doesn’t matter to the Nth degree. I don’t like calling people out, because I’m not really interested in shaming people for something that doesn’t matter. But, I also have a responsibility to the league as a whole, and a need to ensure things are above board. Trades are a slippery slope; they breed resentment. Retaliations generally come in the form of even MORE lopsided trades, this time with actual collusion in intent. Then, the league blows up and you’re left with nothing but hurt feelings and randos as your opponents.

***

My worst-case-scenario came to fruition last week, as my Space Pirates! lost to Space Forcin’ by a score of 222.46-198.95. His score was the highest that anyone has posted all season long. My score was the second-highest that anyone has posted all season long. Of course this happens to me. I can’t be allowed to have nice things! Perish the thought!

It’s pretty rare that both teams in a weekly matchup can get A+ grades, but this is what happens. Cooper Kupp went off for over 30 points. Four other guys got over 20 points, and Buffalo’s defense wasn’t far behind with 19. Everyone on my team except for Justin Tucker scored in double-digits. But, I mean, it just wasn’t even a contest! Mahomes, Kamara, and Lockett each scored over 30 for his team; two others scored almost 30. Only if I had the option of going back and replacing guys in my lineup with higher-scoring bench guys (Danny Dimes had 41, for instance), I still only would’ve BARELY beaten him by less than 1 point (and, seriously, who in their right mind would play someone like Chris Thompson over Le’Veon Bell?). It was the perfect storm, and one that I could see from about 5,000 miles away.

As a result, my team falls to 1-2 on the season, in fifth place in the league. Much like my unlucky streak from a year ago, I find myself with the fourth-highest point total, and the first-highest points-against total. Can’t catch a break. Just gotta find a way to stay in the playoff hunt (top 6 advance, with top 2 getting a first round BYE).

***

I made a waiver claim for Wayne Gallman in every league I’m in, and I got him in every league except this one. Ehh, it happens. I didn’t totally need another running back just yet anyway, and in the long run I still have Chris Thompson on my bench, who is a pretty solid plug n’ play guy if you’re desperate (PPR leagues only).

Some interesting news, as I woke up this morning to check all my waiver claims (much like a survivalist goes around the camp checking all his traps for stray rabbits and rodents and whatnot), someone proposed a trade! To me! This so rarely happens, I feel like the prettiest girl at the ball. I’m almost always the one throwing things out there to mix it up.

This one, I’ll admit, is pretty interesting to me. Beasts is asking me to give him Danny Dimes, and in return he’s willing to give me Matthew Stafford and Chris Godwin.

I’m just running it all through my head right now. Dimes is a rookie quarterback who has made all of one start in his young career. Of course, in that start – by our league’s scoring – he got over 41 points, which is pretty remarkable. Nevertheless, it was his only start, and there’s still so much we don’t know about him. What we do know is that Tampa’s defense is pretty mediocre. We know his offensive line is pretty shaky, and he doesn’t have a ton of weapons (reduced all the more impactfully by the injury to Saquon Barkley). His value might literally never be higher than it is right now; he could be the next Christian Ponder or Jake Locker or take your pick (name any terrible first round bust). In return, I’d be getting a legitimate veteran starting QB and a #2 receiver in an offense that has to throw it a billion times a game.

But, I’m obviously torn. For starters, I don’t love Stafford. I don’t love how that offense is being neutered into a more balanced attack. He’s only had one good week and that was against Arizona, who might have the worst defense in all of football. Now, Beasts picked the right week to offer him up, because he’s facing Kansas City, and you would expect the Lions will need to throw the ball a ton. But, with that comes the obvious risk of him throwing interceptions. Stafford isn’t reliable to me. As for Godwin, you just never know. He can blow up in some weeks, but he can also disappear. That offense has a ton of different people to throw to, with Mike Evans being the clear #1 focus. Plus, I feel like my team is full of Chris Godwin types. Cooper Kupp, Christian Kirk, Scary Terry, T.Y. Hilton, these are all boom or bust types, albeit ones with higher floors than people you’d see on waivers.

In looking at Beasts’ team, it’s an interesting move. He’s already got Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson as his starting quarterbacks, but I have a hard time figuring he’s doing this to shore up his bench. I’m wondering if he’s maybe starting to sour a little bit on Ryan?

On the flipside, in looking at my team, I’m reluctant to do any 2-for-1 deals when I’ve still got Tyreek Hill on the bench and A.J. Green on IR; I’m not letting those guys walk. And, honestly, I think I like the rest of my depth guys more than I’d want Godwin on my roster. I mean, I literally just blew my #1 waiver priority on Scary Terry, so if I don’t keep him around, I’m a huge fucking idiot.

My biggest concern, though, quite frankly, is the chance that Dimes might turn out to be one of the best five fantasy quarterbacks in the entire league. He has that stink of someone who was drafted WAY too high, and that’s still in the backs of everyone’s minds. Let’s see how he does against Washington, then Minnesota, then the Patriots. Later on he plays Chicago and Green Bay to boot. He could come crashing down to Earth so hard it’ll make all our heads spin, and all the doubters will be out in force with their I Told You So’s.

But, I mean, who scores 41 fantasy points in their first-ever start? This isn’t just a controversial rookie tearing up the pre-season. This isn’t just comparing him to the corpse of Eli Manning. This is a regular season game, on the road, playing for the country’s #1 market for that market’s #1 football team. The closest comp for those kinds of fantasy numbers would be Mahomes’ first start in 2018, when he threw for 256 yards and 4 touchdowns (but even he had a mediocre & meaningless start in the final week of 2017 after the Chiefs had clinched).

I mean, if I trade Dimes for Stafford and Godwin, I could be the guy who traded Manhattan for $24! This is a decision that could affect the fantasy league for the next decade!

Part of me wants to counter his offer with a request for his best player, Christian McCaffrey. I don’t think he’d accept that offer, but what if he did? What if he’s so sure about Dimes being the next Mahomes that he accepted it in a heartbeat? I think I’d be terrified to even throw that out there!

When you’re in a league with 4 keepers, as I’ve said before, you’ve always gotta have at least 1 eye toward the future. The way my team’s set up right now, I’ve given myself a lot of options: Wentz, Dimes, Zeke, Bell, Hill, Jacobs, and maybe even Kupp or Scary Terry if they continue to really kill it. The funny thing is Dimes might end up being the best of that bunch, and the guy I decide to keep around for his entire career. I got in on the ground floor of something potentially special. The last time I made this kind of move, it was Wentz in his rookie year, and so far you’d be hard-pressed to say it’s paid off for me. He’s been injured a lot, and he really doesn’t have a lot of those supernova blowup games where he goes off for 40+ points. You need those in our league, especially when you’re playing against a top team like Space Forcin’.

So, I’ll give it some thought. I’ll let it sit out there and think about it a bit. As soon as Dimes goes down with a season-ending injury this week, I’m sure I’ll want to crawl into a hole and die. We’ll see how it goes.

***

This week, I go up against The Lance Petemans, who are currently 0-3 and in last place. He’s had a rough go the last season and a half, but he’s also got his name on our Championship Trophy more times than anyone else in the league, so no one is feeling sorry for him.

I’ve obviously got Dimes in my lineup with Wentz; my receivers are Kupp, Scary Terry, and we’ll see (T.Y. Hilton if he’s playing, probably Christian Kirk if he’s not); Bell is on BYE, so I’ve got Zeke and Jacobs (hoping for a bounce-back week for the rookie, now that he’s over his illness); Waller is a locked-in Top 10 TE in football, which is a fun thing to have grabbed off the free agent pile a few weeks back; I’m hoping Tucker has a better game against the Browns this week; and with my bench being so stacked, I’m forced to roll with the Bills’ Defense at home against New England. I’m just hoping for maybe a few sacks or something, I dunno.

The Petemans are down a Jimmy G, so they’re rolling with Andy Dalton in primetime. He’s still got Tom Brady, who’s still pumping out the points in the early part of the season, so that could do a ton of damage to my defense. His skill guys include all of the Rams that I don’t have (Gurley, Cooks, and Woods), but I don’t know if he’s playing all three of them or not (he currently has Woods on his bench). The rest of his guys are … far from ideal. He’s got Houston’s Defense going up against Carolina, so that’s a real wild card with the Panthers going with a young QB.

At the moment, Yahoo has me as a slight favorite, but their projections are usually bad. They’re shorting Dimes about 20 points, for instance …

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 12

I’m just a mess of a human being.  I went into Monday Night trailing TheGangUnderperforms by a score of 140.75 to 124.75.  I was absolutely ROLLING during the morning games on Sunday.  At one point, I was projected as a 90% favorite to win the week.  Sure, a few of my guys were doing okay, but my heavy hitters were yet to come, and more importantly HIS guys were shitting the bed!  Ben Roethlisberger was at negative points until late in that game against the Jags; Mariota ended his day with less than 2 points total.  Then, that same shit in the bed started hitting the fan.

Predictably, TheGangUnderperforms picked up a tight end to play in Gronk’s place before Sunday.  He ended up picking up Vance McDonald for the Steelers, who MIRACULOUSLY caught a touchdown.  Because of course he did.  He only did that because he was going up against my team!!!  That was double-touchdowns because, obviously, Roethlisberger was the one who threw it.  Things went downhill as the Steelers’ fortunes continued to soar.  Instead of handing off to James Conner at the goalline, Roethlisberger ran in the winning touchdown just to FUCKING spite me!

Anyway, unpredictably, TheGangUnderperforms snuck Doug Baldwin into his lineup before the Thursday game.  He benched Kenny Golladay, which was the good news, but still, Doug had easily his best fantasy game of the season – again – because he was going up against me.

So, there I was, Monday Night.  I had Tyreek Hill, Robert Woods, and a 16-point deficit; he had Kareem Hunt and the aforementioned lead.  It was the Chiefs at the Rams, easily the most hyped matchup in the history of regular season football.  This was a fantasy boon the likes of which we’ve never seen.  So many games were on the line!  So many high-scoring players were in the middle of the action!

And I couldn’t bring myself to watch one single second of it.  Literally the greatest offensive shootout in the history of the NFL – the first time two teams scored over 50 points in the same game – and I was hiding in my room, watching old reruns of The Monkees and Get Smart.

This is what Fantasy Football has brought me to!  It’s literally ruining my life!  But, in my crazy, fucked-up brain, I needed to NOT watch to win my fantasy game.  I went to bed not knowing the result – of either the Rams/Chiefs or TheGangUnderperforms/King Flippy Nips – and I woke up at 4am to immediately hop on my computer to check the results.

Sure, I was disappointed I didn’t see the Best Game Ever, but I won.  DAMMIT, I WON!  186.33 to 160.85!

Blessings to Tyreek Hill, who got me over 44 points.  Tidings of love and joy to Zeke Elliott who got me over 33.  Kudos to Dalton and Chicago for getting over 20.  And a bigtime FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU to Carson Wentz, who finished with -3.60, and single-handedly was the reason why I couldn’t bring myself to watch the game on Monday.  Had he done what he was supposed to, I would’ve had a comfortable lead heading into Monday, and my night would’ve been more enjoyable for it.

To think, a friend of mine on Saturday said he wasn’t sure if Carson Wentz would eventually turn into Drew Brees or Ryan Tannehill (to which I replied, “Oh, he’s WAY better than Ryan Tannehill!” … yeah, except Tannehill didn’t even play this weekend and would’ve gotten me more points).

Anyway, here I am.  5-6 in the standings.  I leapfrogged TheGangUnderperforms to get into 5th place.  I am still comfortably 3rd in total points, and still 2nd in total points against.  That’s the good news, if you can call it good news.

The bad news is I have 2 games to go, and I need help (in more ways than one).  Two of the bottom-feeders won last week in upsets.  That puts them both at 4-7.  Those two teams – as chance would have it – play one another THIS week, meaning one of them is guaranteed to be 5-7 heading into the final week of the regular season.  As you’ll see below, I’m going up against the #1 team (in record, #2 in total points by a large margin over me) and I’ll be projected to lose.  Assuming I do lose, that will drop me to 5-7 and in a tie with one of those bottom-dwelling teams.  In the final week of the regular season, my opponent is the #2 team (in record, #1 in total points by a large margin over me); I will be projected to lose that game as well.  The aforementioned bottom-feeders will have very winnable games that week, so I’m in a real pickle.  Without getting too much further into the weeds, I’ll need certain teams to lose a lot the rest of the way …

Or, I’m effectively in if I can just get an upset win in one of the next two weeks.

Yeah, I’m screwed.

Just one minor move this week.  I swapped Matt Prater out and brought in Matt Bryant.  I don’t love any offensive player going up against the Saints right now – as they’re just STEAMROLLING people left and right – but I think the Falcons will move the ball a little bit.  My big concern is that the Saints get up by such a big score that the Falcons will have to go for nothing but touchdowns all game.  I could’ve legitimately put a zero in my lineup this week; regardless, going forward I like Bryant and that Falcons offense more than Prater and the Lions right now.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz vs. NYG
  • QB2 – Jameis Winston vs. SF
  • WR1 – Adam Thielen vs. GB
  • WR2 – Tyler Boyd vs. CLE
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. WAS
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson @ DAL
  • TE – Greg Olsen vs. SEA
  • FLEX – Chris Carson @ CAR
  • K – Matt Bryant @ NO
  • DEF – Chicago @ DET

My bench is:  Dalton, Carr, Hill (BYE), Woods (BYE), Brown (BYE), Bell (IR).

I like Andy Dalton at home against Cleveland – and I think it’s highly possible he goes off against them – but I also think the Browns’ defense is a little underrated, and they could force him to look a little mediocre.  I think with Winston (first of all, I need to get SOME sort of value out of that Le’Veon Bell trade, even if I’m shoe-horning it in this fashion), the Bucs have nothing to lose, so they’re going to let it rip.  I could see that game being super high scoring, because the Bucs’ defense is the worst in football, so as per usual they’re going to be throwing the ball a lot.  With Winston, you accept there are going to be turnovers.  The hope is that he’ll also rack up the TDs and yards to outweigh all the shittiness.  Also, who knows, maybe with his career on the line, he steps up and blows the league away.  Bottom line is the upside is higher with Winston over Dalton, while the floor is essentially the same (both of them could throw tons of picks and blow it for me).  Beyond that, with the BYEs what they are, my lineup choices are essentially made for me.

My opponent this week is Space Forcin’.  You may recall he’s the guy who kept Mahomes, Rivers, and Kamara from last year, so he’s obviously pretty fucking stacked.  You may also recall that at full strength, he beat my ass by almost 30 points back in Week 3.

Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.  The good news is Mahomes is on BYE this week.  The bad news is that his team is still really fucking stacked and I pretty much have no chance of winning.

I can only make an educated guess at this point as to who Space Forcin’ will put in his lineup, as everyone apparently likes to wait until the last minute to make a fucking decision:

  • QB1 – Philip Rivers vs. ARI
  • QB2 – Joe Flacco vs. OAK
  • WR1 – Davante Adams @ MIN
  • WR2 – JuJu Smith-Schuster @ DEN
  • RB1 – Alvin Kamara vs. ATL
  • RB2 – Marlon Mack vs. MIA
  • TE – George Kittle @ TB
  • FLEX – Aaron Jones @ MIN
  • K – Wil Lutz vs. ATL
  • DEF – Philadelphia vs. NYG

His bench is:  Mahomes (BYE), C.J. Beathard, Miami, Austin Hooper, Duke Johnson.

Joe Flacco against the Raiders would normally be as juicy of a matchup as you can get on a team this stacked.  But, his injury status is looking iffy.  I texted Space Forcin’ to try to get a sense of what his plan is.  Frankly, the QBs on the free agent scrap heap are nothing to write home about.  Tannehill is starting this week, so that rules out Osweiler.  Colt McCoy is probably the best bet of the bunch to at least get points, but someone with a higher waiver priority just made a claim on him.  He has Beathard now, but that’s probably a hail mary of an option, in the hopes that Nick Mullens goes down with injury or otherwise gets benched.  The only guy left in free agency is Taysom Hill, the backup for the Saints who runs a few gadget plays per game.

Could I have dropped Derek Carr this week, now that I’m holding 4 healthy quarterbacks on my roster?  I absolutely could have, but why should I help the best team in the league when I don’t have to?  He’s got enough.  Let me try to get mine.

As it stands, even with just 1 QB starting, he probably has more than enough to beat me.  Rivers is more than capable of shredding the Cards, Adams will be a focal point in a must-win game against the Vikings, Kamara might lead the league in non-quarterback points this week in a shootout against the Falcons, and so on and so forth.  Meanwhile, without Hill and Woods, the upside for my team takes a significant hit, as I’m forced to start both Chris Carson AND Adrian Peterson.  I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 11

Yeah, I lost again.  Crazy N8’s Prostates beat King Flippy Nips 175.40 to 171.55, meaning in two games against him this year, I lost by a combined 7 points.

These sorts of demoralizing defeats are coming so fast and furiously that I don’t really feel much of anything at this point.  Ho hum, live to fight another day, right?

By all rights, I had no business even being all that close.  Andy Dalton shit the bed, as I predicted he might.  Tyler Boyd did nothing for me (more on my ill-fated trade in a minute).  I went into the Sunday Night game losing by a considerable margin.  It took a combined 63.40 points from Wentz and Elliott to give me an improbable 20-point lead heading into Monday Night.  By that point, my score was locked in.  My opponent only had Odell Beckham Jr.  If the 49ers could’ve held him to under 20 points, I had a win in hand.  Instead, they left him wide open for 2 touchdowns and I lost.  Such is life.

Such is MY life, that is.

I’m currently 4-6, in 6th place in the league.  I still have the 3rd most points.  I still have the 2nd most points against.  Three teams have already clinched playoff spots.  The four teams currently below me are all at 3-7.  Thankfully, I have more total points than all of them, but at this rate, I’m going to lose the rest of my games and someone will beat me with a better overall record.

Oh yeah, that trade from last week.  Well, let’s see.  Predictably, Tyler Boyd struggled as the Bengals’ #1 receiver.  As long as A.J. Green is out, Boyd is going to suck, that’s the bottom line.  Jameis Winson, as we knew, didn’t play; I don’t think Fitzmagic has done enough to get re-benched, so nothing changes there.

Meanwhile, TheGangUnderperforms got 27.90 points from Fournette.  Had I held onto him, I would’ve won last week.  That’s a fact.  He beat Adrian Peterson’s score by almost 20 points, so there you go.  Kenny Golladay had 19.80 for his bench; he would’ve gotten me an additional 10 points over Boyd.  Had I just held onto Golladay and started him, I would’ve won last week.

The cherry on the sundae is the final nail in the Le’Veon Bell coffin for 2018.  He’s not returning to the Steelers and is officially eliminated from returning this season.  I still think it was a valiant effort – and I still think Fournette is an iffy prospect going forward, with all his injury issues – but in the end it’s looking like closer to a Worst Case Scenario for me in this deal.  The only way I can salvage anything is if Jameis Winston returns to starting – which would be an upgrade over Andy Dalton most weeks – but in looking at Cincinnati’s schedule, they play the Browns twice and the Raiders once going forward (including both teams in weeks 15 & 16), so I’m not sure even that would net me anything.  I’ve essentially traded at least one win in 2018 for a potential Le’Veon Bell keeper in 2019.  Here’s hoping that wherever he goes, he’s not in a timeshare.  Or behind a shitty offensive line.  Or gets immediately injured.

Is it possible for my life to get any worse?  Well, let’s see.  What if I told you I now get to go up against TheGangUnderperforms this very week!?  An opportunity not just to lose, but to lose by my own hand!

The only move I made this week was essentially the purchase of a lottery ticket.  Malcolm Brown is Todd Gurley’s handcuff; I don’t expect Gurley to get injured, but at this point I’m going to need a hail mary to win the league this season, so I might as well use my extra bench spot for something potentially useful.  Devonta Freeman probably isn’t coming back this year, and if he does, he probably won’t be effective.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz @ NO
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ Bal
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ LAR
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ CHI
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ ATL
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. HOU Chris Carson vs. GB
  • TE – Greg Olsen @ DET
  • FLEX – Robert Woods vs. KC
  • K – Matt Prater vs. CAR
  • DEF – Chicago vs. MIN

My bench is:  Boyd, Carr, Carson AP, Winston, Brown, Bell (IR).

The only decision to make was AP over Chris Carson.  While Carson is the superior running back at this point, the Seahawks are playing the Packers on a short week and I can’t imagine Carson will get the lion’s share of the carries in this offense.  I just have to hope he makes it through this game without a setback and that he regains his starting role in the weeks ahead.

THURSDAY PANIC UPDATE:  I’ve been mulling this over ever since I locked in my roster with this blog post, trying to find a way to talk myself out of Adrian Peterson and into Chris Carson.  I ultimately made the change for a number of reasons.  For starters, Carson was taken off of the injury report.  On top of which, every time Carson has missed a game (I count the second half of that Bears contest – where he was inexplicably not re-inserted for no good reason – as a “missed game” because he certainly could’ve done more there if given the opportunity), he’s come back the next week to rush for over 100 yards.  He obviously was held out of last week’s Rams game with an eye towards this Packers game tonight.  I don’t believe that Penny is going to significantly eat into the running back carries (barring injury to one of the other guys).  And, with this being a Must Win, I believe the Seahawks are going to ride their best players to either victory or defeat.  As Carson is the clearcut best running back on this team, I think that means he gets the kind of workload we saw in Detroit a few weeks back.  Conversely, the Texans are really good against the run.  The Redskins O-Line is in shambles right now.  Even though AP is as healthy as he’s been in a long time, I think his upside is relatively low.  I think that’s a low scoring game any way you slice it, and ultimately it comes down to the potential in a Chris Carson.  I think the likelihood of getting a 20+ point game out of Carson is higher than it is getting a 20+ point game out of AP.  That being said, obviously, I think AP’s floor is higher – he’s more likely to bottom out around 10 points, whereas Carson could get injured on the first series of the game – but at this point in my season, I need to take a shot.  I’ll know as early as tonight if I fucked up royally; I’m dreading this decision already.

Here’s who TheGangUnderperforms has going against me:

  • QB1 – Ben Roethlisberger @ JAX
  • QB2 – Marcus Mariota @ IND
  • WR1 – Julio Jones vs. DAL
  • WR2 – Kenny Golladay vs. CAR
  • RB1 – Kareem Hunt @ LAR
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette vs. PIT
  • TE – Rob Gronkowski (BYE)
  • FLEX – Emmanuel Sanders @ LAC
  • K – Justin Tucker vs. CIN
  • DEF – Washington vs. HOU

His bench is:  Matt Breida (BYE), Baker Mayfield (BYE), Sam Darnold (BYE), Doug Baldwin, Marvin Jones Jr.

For a while there, he had Jordan Reed as his backup tight end.  As I joked with him on Monday, with him picking up Jordan Reed (on top of Fournette and Golladay dominating), he’s doing more with my team than I ever have!  But, with New England going on the BYE this week, it appears Yahoo took Gronk off of IR.  I don’t expect him to keep his tight end spot blank through the weekend, but for now I guess I get to have a little hope.  I also feel like even more of an idiot because I could’ve had Justin Tucker for absolutely nothing, as he was a free agent pick-up; that’s what I get for not paying closer attention to the various moves of kickers in our league.

I’ve got good matchups, or at least, I’ve got matchups that Yahoo seems to like.  They’ve got me pegged as among the Week 11 leaders in predicted points, so look for me to shit the bed HARD.  I don’t know anymore.  I need at least one win in the last three weeks – with some help – to hopefully sneak into the 6th seed in the playoffs.  It’s not looking likely.  I predict yet another demoralizing loss this week.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 2

  • See my Intro to understand what this is all about.
  • See my Draft Recap to learn where my team started.
  • See my Week 1 Recap to get all caught up.

My Rationale Beforehand

Predictably, panic has set in as King Flippy Nips looks to rebound from a heartbreaking week 1 defeat (blowing a 20-point lead because Derek Carr sucks).  The longer I go without winning a game, the more panic moves I’m going to make.

There’s been a little roster shuffling already.  For starters, Yahoo has let me put Greg Olsen in my IR spot, as he figures to be out for a number of weeks.  This freed up a spot which I used to put in a waiver claim on Nick Foles.  At this point, it’s anybody’s guess as to when Carson Wentz comes back, and I can’t rely on Dalton and Carr alone to get me through.  I need quarterbacks I can COUNT on.  Foles and the Eagles are going to Tampa this week and the Bucs’ defense doesn’t impress-ah me much (as Shania Twain might also agree).  After some first week struggles, I fully expect Foles to bounce back, so he’s going right into my starting lineup in place of Derek Carr (who is going to Denver in another impossible defensive matchup).

That leaves my other QB spot with Dalton, playing Thursday Night against the Ravens.  I don’t love it.  I have no data on this, but it feels like Dalton always shits the bed whenever he’s playing in a nationally-televised game (Bengals fans, back me up here!).  I’m trying not to over-react to the Ravens’ defense, as they had a cupcake matchup against the Bills last week, and literally any defense would’ve looked at least almost as good.  I’m sticking with Dalton even though I made another move this week, dropping my beloved sleeper Kenny Stills to pick up Joe Flacco.  Flacco had a great week 1 as well, but again, I’m trying not to over-react to the fact that he played against Buffalo’s defense.  I think Cincy’s defense is a lot better, plus the Bengals are at home.  So, for now, I’ll stash Flacco on my bench (also, not for nothing, but my opponent might’ve been in the market for someone like Flacco, as he only has 2 healthy & active QBs, and Mariota is questionable this week; so preventing my rival from filling his squad is always ideal), and mix-and-match between all my QBs going forward based on matchups until I can settle on two guys I can trust.

For what it’s worth, I have a ton of wide receivers on my roster.  I have to start Tyreek Hill and Adam Thielen every week, and I really like Demaryius Thomas (who will be my FLEX guy for the foreseeable future).  After that, I had two receivers on my bench – Stills and Robert Woods – and I just like Woods a LITTLE bit more (plus he’s on an offense I know is going to be great all year, while I’m still unsure about Miami long term).  So, we’ll see.  I do expect Stills to be picked up by someone, but I think there’s a chance we’ve seen the best out of him already.

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE – No one in my league picked up Stills on waivers, so I grabbed him as a free agent and re-waived Flacco.  The perfect crime!

Anyway, here’s my lineup:

  • QB1 – Andy Dalton vs. BAL
  • QB2 – Nick Foles @ TB
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ PIT
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ GB
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. NYG
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. IND
  • TE – Jordan Reed vs. IND
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. OAK
  • K – Robbie Gould vs. DET
  • DEF – Chicago vs. SEA

My bench consists of Carr, Flacco, Wentz, Woods, Stills, and Leonard Fournette.

The big choice this week was AP over Fournette.  Well, given Peterson’s dominant week 1 performance, combined with the fact that Fournette got injured in last week’s game and didn’t practice all week, sort of made up my mind for me.  Fournette was slated to be a true Game Time Decision, and unfortunately his game started in the afternoon, while AP’s game started in the morning.  So, I had to go with the sure thing and just pray the Jags would give Fournette a week off to rest.  That being said, don’t believe for a minute that I didn’t obsessively check Twitter for any last-second updates on Fournette’s condition.

This week, my opponent is TheGangUnderperforms, which I’m assuming is some sort of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia reference(?), crossed with his usual brand of self-effacing humor.  He’s the 9th place team in our league – having scored the second-fewest points in week 1 – so it sounds like his team’s name is as fitting as they come.  He’s the poor sap in our league who’s stuck with Le’Veon Bell, with the unfortunate kick in the crotch that he failed to draft James Conner (even though, in real life, he’s a big Steelers fan and should’ve known better).  I should also point out, before week 1, I offered him a trade of Adrian Peterson and Robert Woods for Bell (who made it known he wasn’t going to come back to the team in time for the game) and he shot me down!  It must be his immense pride that has prevented him from crawling back to me asking for a re-do on that decision.  When will Bell return to the Steelers?  Maybe never!  And here I’ll be, reaping the rewards of a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson (with the security blanket of a Robert Woods on my bench for potential BYE week & injury fill-ins).

In spite of some injuries and depth issues on his bench, TheGangUnderperforms still has a pretty talented squad that is FULLY capable of wiping the floor with my ass.  In the next section, we’ll get to the results.

***

Week 2 Results

The week got off to a tremendous start!  Andy Dalton is a wonderland!  He nearly doubled the points of Flacco and absolutely doubled his projected point total.  On top of that, my opponent’s kicker – Justin Tucker – only managed 7 points, three below expected.  I started the week a coin flip, and after Thursday I was a 65% favorite heading into the weekend.

TheGangUnderperforms’ lineup looked like this:

  • QB1 – Ben Roethlisberger vs. KC
  • QB2 – Marcus Mariota vs. HOU
  • WR1 – Julio Jones vs. CAR
  • WR2 – Larry Fitzgerald @ LAR
  • RB1 – Kareem Hunt @ PIT
  • RB2 – Jamaal Williams vs. MIN
  • TE – Gronk @ JAX
  • FLEX – Emmanuel Sanders vs. OAK
  • K – Justin Tucker @ CIN
  • DEF – N.Y. Jets vs. MIN

It looked marginally dicey early when Ben Roethlisberger threw non-stop on a pathetic Chiefs defense; fortunately I was saved because Mariota didn’t play and my opponent didn’t have any room for any other QBs on his roster (aside from the rookies he has on his bench who aren’t starting yet, and Jameis Winston, who’s still suspended).  Nevertheless, Roethlisberger scored enough points to cover both QB spots, as he pushed 50 on the day.

TheGangUnderperforms didn’t have any help anywhere else though.  Gronk and Fitzgerald had bad days, Julio stayed true to the team name and underperformed, and everyone else was just sort of average.

My team, meanwhile, did even better than the week before!

Foles and Carr were about the same, so that didn’t bite me in the ass as both had around 20.  My receivers – Thielen and Hill – absolutely torched the competition once again, for a combined 50+ points.  My kicker doubled his kicker; my Chicago defense had a field day; Zeke had a solid game.  And, while AP, Demaryius, and Reed didn’t impress, they also gave me SOMETHING, in the range of 6-10 points.

All told, it was a 194.59 – 130.90 drubbing!

I’m currently in 3rd place with a 1-1 record, though I have the second-most points in the league behind the guy who kept Mahomes, Rivers, and Kamara (clearly getting more out of his keepers than anyone else in the league).  As chance would have it, I have to go up against that juggernaut this very upcoming week.  Luckily, it looks like I get Carson Wentz back, as well as (hopefully) Leonard Fournette.

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.

The Seahawks Were A Hot Mess In Hot, Humid Tennessee

Just when you think the Seahawks are getting to be boring or predictable to write about (what’s that, another slow start spoiling an otherwise winnable game?), they go and zag when you expect them to zig.

Well, you may have expected this game to be a zig, but I saw this zag coming a mile away!

Everyone’s all surprised about Tennessee’s offense really sticking it to our defense, but this was always going to be a terrible matchup for the Seahawks.  They have a GREAT offensive line, so that right there neutralizes one of our team’s best assets:  the D-Line.  The pass rush was neutralized (I read somewhere that the Seahawks were only credited with 2 pressures all day), and more importantly, our rush defense was non-existent.  Remember in 2014, when we hosted the Cowboys and they ran the ball all over us (with DeMarco Murray at the helm, btw)?  Yeah, that times a thousand.  195 total yards rushing, on a 5.6 yards per carry average, with a long of 75!  DeMarco Murray was supposed to only play sparingly because he was dealing with an injury, and he looked like fucking Superman out there!

So yeah, there was that.  Then, factor in Marcus Mariota:  he’s not going to push the ball down the field.  He’s going to take what the defense gives him, make smart decisions, and keep moving the chains.  Then, when he gets into the red zone, he’s going to make enough plays to ensure his team scores.  While they didn’t hit on every red zone appearance, they didn’t need to.  From the second quarter on, they scored on 7 of 8 drives.  When you move the ball that well, you don’t NEED to score touchdowns every time to be effective and win the game!  But, more importantly, by not challenging the Seahawks deep through the air, that neutralizes another of our team’s best assets:  the secondary.

With the D-Line and the secondary reduced to nothing, it should surprise no one that the Titans were able to score at will.

I think the Seahawks opened some eyes on offense though.  No one should be crowing, or otherwise satisfied with what the offense was able to do; we’ve seen this movie too!  The Seahawks start slow on the road, get down big, and scramble to make a furious comeback.  In this case, the Seahawks actually managed to grab a 7-6 lead late in the second quarter, after punting on their first six drives.  A Prevent Defense prevented the Seahawks from going into halftime with the lead, as the Titans were able to kick another field goal to go up 9-7.  Then, the Seahawks took the opening drive of the second half down for a TD, and a 14-9 lead, and I think everyone sort of settled in, secure that the Seahawks would FINALLY take over the ballgame.

That’s when the Titans went on their run, making the score 30-14 going into the fourth quarter.  As they do, the Seahawks turned the engines back on, pulling to within 30-20.  They failed at their 2-point conversion (because if you think they’re bad in the red zone, you should SEE how wretched they are at going for 2), but still had plenty of time for a couple more scores.

Where they really lost the game was on the subsequent Titans drive.  Tennessee held the ball for 4 minutes and drove down for a field goal to make it 33-20 with about 10 minutes to go.  At that point, not only would the Seahawks need two touchdowns, but they’d somehow need to get a STOP, which seemed like the least likely of the two scenarios.

Of course, the Seahawks did neither, as they were forced to punt on their next drive.  Sure, the D finally rose up for a 3 & Out, but at that point so much time had run off the clock that the Seahawks would need two TDs in just over 5 minutes.  They would get one, but the on-side kick was as pathetic as everything else about the Seahawks that day, and that was that.

Russell Wilson threw for 373 yards and 4 TDs, which is awesome for a fantasy football team, but it’s honestly not going to win the Seattle Seahawks very many ballgames.  If he has to throw the ball 49 times, then guess what?  That means our defense stinks.  And, for as good as that day looks, there were still plenty of missed opportunities that he wasn’t able to take advantage of.  This offense isn’t good enough to carry a crappy defense, so I hate everything about this stat line.

I really want to call out Darrell Bevell here, because yeah I know he’s the easy mark, and I know it’s like beating a dead horse, but he’s a fucking moron.  The Seahawks ran the ball on the first play of the game for no gain, then passed twice before it turned into a 3 & Out.  Next Drive:  3 passes, and another 3 & Out.  Next Drive:  we get a first down on first down through the air, then Carson runs twice for 11 yards to get the ball into Tennessee territory, then … 3 incomplete passes and a punt.  Next Drive:  he returns to the run game which nets 9 yards, but fails on 3rd & 1.  Nice idea, but poor execution.  Next Drive:  3 more incomplete passes for the 3 & Out.

I mean, look, it was a hot day.  90+ degrees in Tennessee.  I know this team’s “identity” or whatever isn’t to speed up the offense, but you could’ve fooled me.  What are all these incomplete passes if not speeding up the time between when the defense is out there on the field.  And, with all their nonsense early in the game – highlighted by Richard Sherman’s meltdown, followed by his late hit out of bounds on the quarterback – I have no doubt in my mind it tired them out, rendering them useless in the second half.

Also, not for nothing, but I have absolutely no problem with how you want to protest for your causes.  Stand for the anthem, sit for the anthem, pull the flag out and take a shit on it on midfield in front of tens of thousands of people; WHATEVER.  But, when I read about how the team is spending 3+ hours on how they’re going to protest the anthem the next day … I dunno, that seems like time that could be spent on preparing for the other team!

Again, I’m all for you standing up for what you believe in, but if it’s going to continuously interfere with your performance on the field, then I gotta say:  why should I care about the causes of a bunch of losers?  You know where you’ll have the biggest impact to pass along your message?  At the FUCKING Super Bowl, so how about you start playing like you give a shit about this fucking game, or go hang out on the fucking sidelines while we find some guys who want to win.

I follow sports because I like watching sports.  While I agree with your right to protest – and while I agree that people of color are treated pretty shitty in this country – I only actually give a shit about football when I’m watching football.  If I want an endless parade of politics, I’ll go on Twitter and blow my fucking brains out, thanks.

Having Seen The Seahawks Play, Should We Revise Our Expectations?

In my preview & prediction post ahead of the Seahawks’ week 1 game in Green Bay, I had us going 13-3.  One of those wins I had pegged for us was that very game against the Packers, which obviously didn’t go according to plan.  So, is 13-3 totally off the table?  Are a lot of other things off the table as well?  Let’s dive in real quick.

If the Seahawks lose this week against the 49ers, we’ve got bigger problems than just losing out on the #1 seed in the NFC.  I can’t imagine a world where that happens, so let’s take for granted that the Seahawks will be 1-1 after this weekend.

I’m still concerned about the Titans, but decidedly less so than I was before week 1.  The Raiders were able to move the ball at will against them, both through the air and on the ground.  I don’t see a ton of difficult pass-rushers or interior D-linemen on their roster.  I think if the Seahawks can keep their rushing attack in check, we can force Mariota into enough errors on third down to prevail.  I had the Seahawks 2-1 after three games in my preview, and I think that’s still on the table.

I think the Colts look much worse than advertised, and that Sunday Night game has no business being anything other than a laugher.

Then, there’s that road game against the Rams.  Aaron Donald is predictably back in the fold, and I can’t see any way he doesn’t lay waste to our pathetic offensive line.  The only question being – 5 weeks into the regular season – will our O-Line have improved enough over the first month to at least keep Wilson upright?  Our only hope is that they will have gelled JUST enough to keep the pigs at bay.

After the BYE, it’s a road game against the Giants.  I can no longer, with good conscience, consider this game a win for the Seahawks.  Not with the way their D-Line balls out.  I can’t guarantee a loss either, because with Eli Manning, there’s always a chance.  So, I’ll say this:  the Seahawks will lose one of the two games between the Rams and Giants, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it’s the Rams game we doof once again.

I still like our chances at home against both the Texans and Redskins.  I can’t see a rookie QB coming into CenturyLink Field and withstanding our pressure.  It might be a lot uglier than we’d like, but even a 6-3 victory is still a victory.  As for the Redskins, their defense is hot garbage, and all the Kirk Cousins in the world won’t be able to save them.

So, after 8 games, I have the Seahawks at 6-2, with an outside chance at 5-3 if they lose to both the Giants and Rams.

Kicking off the second half is that Thursday Night game against the Cards.  Carson Palmer still looks bad.  D.J. will miss this game with injury.  The rest of their offensive weapons are pretty suspect outside of the Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.  They also don’t have Calais Campbell in the middle.  I want to call this game a coin flip, but I have to believe we’ll still prevail.

Monday Night against Atlanta becomes a real concern.  I’ll say this:  I’m glad the Seahawks are home for this one.  I could see this one being a huge score-fest, but their D-Line doesn’t totally petrify me.  Close Seahawks victory.

Again, I can’t imagine a world where we lose to the 49ers this year.

Suddenly the Philly game becomes a serious concern.  Their defense is legit.  Unless injuries start to take hold on that side of the ball, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see the Seahawks muff this one.

I would also express some concern about the Jags game.  They’ve poured tons of resources into their defense (what are YOU doing here, Calais Campbell?!).  And, while I know they’ve got massive issues at the quarterback position, I could see them remain dedicated to the run, slow the game to a crawl, and if they make a couple plays here and there on defense, it could be one of those 14-6 games like we saw in Tampa last season.  I’m calling it right now:  the Seahawks WILL lose to either the Eagles or Jags, but definitely not both.

At home against the Rams, I’m marginally confident.  Let’s move on.

On the road against Dallas, again, I think we have to question some things.  While the Cowboys don’t terrify you on defense, I think they’re just good enough on offense to keep moving the chains.  By then, they should have their Ezekiel Elliott situation settled one way or the other (either he’ll play out the entirety of 2017, or he will have already had his suspension completed), and I’m a big Dak believer.  I’m notching this one in the L column just to be safe.

Finally, home against the Cards, with them having nothing to play for, is a recipe for success if I’ve ever heard one.

That puts us at 12-4, or maybe 11-5.  That most certainly keeps us out of the #1 seed and might even dump us into Wild Card weekend.  Losing games to Packers, Giants, and Cowboys could be just the tie-breakers to torpedo this season once again.

It’s not enough to just win the games you’re SUPPOSED to win.  You need to steal some wins against legit contenders!  4-0 against the AFC is about as useless as it gets when you lose 4-5 games against the NFC.  So, I hope I’m wrong, and the Seahawks still figure out a way to get to 13 wins.  Otherwise, it’ll all be as pointless as it was in 2016.

The Seahawks Played A Fourth Pre-Season Game and I Drafted A Fantasy Football Team

What do you want from me?  It was a meaningless fourth pre-season game where most of the starters didn’t even play a single snap.  The Seahawks beat the Raiders 17-13 thanks to a final TD-drive by Austin Davis in the fourth quarter against scrubs.  The backup quarterback controversy is in full effect, and I couldn’t care less.

On top of that, I didn’t even get to see the vast majority of it, because my primary fantasy football league held its draft at the same time.  So, instead of pouring over the stats from the game, and speculating on who will get cut and who might get traded (Kearse, Lane, Collins?), I’m going to tell you about my fantasy football draft.

I know no one gives a shit about anyone else’s fantasy football team but their own, but this is my blog and I’ll rosterbate if I want to!

For starters, you should know that it’s a 2-keeper league that’s set up to expand to a 3-keeper league in 2018.  Meaning, we have to keep 2 players from last year’s roster, with the knowledge going into this draft that we’ll have to keep 3 players next year.

Next up, you should know that it’s a 10-team league, head-to-head, with a 6-team playoff system (top 2 teams get first round BYEs).  The bottom four teams play in a Consolation Bracket whereupon the winner of said bracket gets to draft first overall, and the rest of the draft order goes backwards from there.  Since I lost in the championship of the Consolation Bracket, I drafted second overall.

As you might surmise, my 2016 team wasn’t very good.  I spent the entire year obsessing over the simple fact of just getting two quality keepers on my team, because my 2015 team was just as bad.  It’s been a vicious cycle of mediocrity for many years now.  Instead of investing in my future, by drafting the likes of Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson in their rookie seasons, I’ve been forging my own path full of veterans with disasterous results.  So, last year, I said, “NO MORE!”  And yet, somehow the best I could muster was keeping Carson Wentz and Brandin Cooks.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Wentz.  I mostly like him because people in the know, scouts and whatnot, keep telling me he’s going to be one of the good ones.  I read stories about how he’s a football junkie and is working out all the time and so on and so forth and it gives me hope that maybe in a year or two he’ll be Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, and that I’ll have gotten in on the ground floor of a keeper I can enjoy for many years to come!

As for Cooks, he was the best of the rest on my roster last year.  I like him a lot too, especially because he was traded to New England, and hearing stories about him and Brady hitting it off on the practice field gave me cause to jump for joy.

But, you know, it’s not like we’re talking about Aaron Rodgers and LeVeon Bell here.  These aren’t superstars, and there are very valid concerns about them producing in the future.

Also, you should know about our league:  it’s a 2-QB system.  Gameday rosters look like this:  QB, QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, RB/WR/TE Flex, K, DEF, with 5 bench spots.  It’s a PPR league (1 point per reception), with any and all TDs worth 6 points, and it heavily skews in favor of the quarterback (unlike standard leagues, where top RBs are king, in our league, if you don’t have two good QBs, you might as well fucking kill yourself).  So, in that sense, it’s like the real NFL, except we doubled up on QBs per team because it’s only a 10-team league and it’s insane to have viable starting QBs on the waiver wire during BYE weeks.

So, that sets the stage.  Long story short:  my keepers are kinda sucky, I’m drafting #2 overall, and I need to be in a position to keep 3 guys next year.

Now, a little wrinkle!  I worked out a pre-draft trade with the guy who kept Ezekiel Elliott!  What with his 6-game suspension looming to start the season, and my friend ostensibly holding out hope for a championship this year, he accepted a straight-up swap of Cooks for Elliott.  With Julian Edelman going on IR in subsequent days, it looked like he was going to get a lot more value out of the deal.  However, with it appearing like Elliott might shake this whole suspension thing (from 6 games to 0, thanks to the NFL’s bungling), I might have the steal of the draft on my hands!

Of course, going forward, I have to worry about Elliott’s character concerns, while Cooks is by all accounts a model citizen on a championship team, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, instead of Wentz & Cooks, it’s Wentz & Elliott.  I can work with that!

I don’t want to list out everyone else’s keepers, so hopefully you’ll glean from context who was kept (lots of QBs, most of the tip-top skill-position players).  Going into the first two picks, I surmised the best two players available (for our particular league and no one else’s) were LeVeon Bell and Dak Prescott (the guy who had Bell last year opted to keep his stud QBs; he was obviously league champion).  I was pretty sure the #1 pick overall was going to take a QB, and I was pretty sure that QB was going to be Dak.  But, the day of the draft, he texted me that he was going with Marcus Mariota, another young, up-and-coming fantasy points hog.

That left me with the choice of Bell or Dak.  Understanding that there really weren’t any other young stud QBs left in the draft, only veterans and injury risks (Roethlisberger, Rivers, Stafford, Eli, Palmer, Cutler, and so on and so forth), I went with Dak.  I think he’s a superstar in the making and I’m not buying for one second this notion of a sophomore slump.  His TD/INT ratio this year might not be as crazy as last year, but I think we’ll see a spike in his overall TDs and yards thrown to MORE than make up for the regression.

As we snaked our way through the next round and a half, it dawned upon me that a lot of those veteran/injury risk QBs I listed above were flying off the board, to my shock and awe.  My hope, heading into this draft, was to get Dak and wrap around at pick 19 and snag Roethlisberger.  That way, I could bench Wentz and save him for when Roethlisberger ultimately gets injured (and hope that by that time Wentz would have asserted himself as a full-fledged fantasy starter in this league).  No such luck.  In fact, as the draft would shake out, I was completely and totally unable to pick up a backup QB.

At the tail end of the second round, after it was clear I wouldn’t get my rock of a backup QB, I was hoping to land Dez Bryant and have the Dallas Cowboys trifecta, but he was snagged 3 picks before me.  Michael Thomas, from New Orleans, fell WAY farther than I would’ve thought (I’m VERY high on Thomas this year and going forward), but was taken 2 picks before me.  There were a lot of options left, but I went with Leonard Fournette, in the hopes that he’ll become Ezekiel Elliott 2.0 (minus the domestic abuse charges).  The fact that he plays for the Jags scares me, as does the fact that he’s a rookie with a terrible QB in front of him, so much so that I might not even start him in Week 1 (such is my mania).  But, the instant he gets me a 20-point game for my bench, he’ll be locked into my starting lineup going forward.

I wrapped around and took Gronk in the third round.  A sure thing from a fantasy persepctive, and one of the very biggest question-marks from an injury perspective.  Either way, there weren’t a lot of good receivers left, so I took Best Player Available.

At this point, my team is Wentz, Dak, Elliott, Fournette, and Gronk.  Still no actual wide receivers.

By the time the draft got back to me, a lot more good receivers went off the board, so in keeping with my Best Player Available strategy, I took Carlos Hyde, RB of the 49ers.  I think he’s going to have a monster year as the best offensive weapon on that team.  Wrapping around, still without an amazing receiver option, I took Lamar Miller of the Texans.  So, now I’ve got 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 0 WRs, and 1 TE.

At my next pick, I knew I had to take a receiver, regardless of what was left out there.  For me, it came down to Emmanuel Sanders of DEN and Jamison Crowder of WAS.  Thankfully, the decision was made for me by the guy drafting right before me as he took Sanders.  Crowder it was.  Wrapping around, I was sure I was going to take Stefon Diggs of the Vikings, and ultimately this might be the pick I end up regretting the most.  See, with Yahoo’s rankings (yeah, we play on Yahoo, sue us), I saw an opportunity for another young, up-and-coming running back in Derrick Henry (the way the rankings were set, I doubt he would’ve been there for me nearly 20 picks later).  I had him all last year, and all last year he was decidedly behind DeMarco Murray on the depth chart.  I waited ALL YEAR for Murray to get hurt, and not only did he stay healthy, but he was in the top 3 of all backs in rushing attempts!  And this was in spite of the fact that whenever Henry did get the ball, he looked really fucking good (and, of course, he was a high draft pick for the Titans last year).

So, I’m rolling the dice on Year 2 of Derrick Henry.  If Murray gets injured, I’ve got a Top 5 running back to throw onto the pile (or use as trade bait for a stud receiver).  But, if Murray plays like he did last year, then I’ll have missed out on Diggs, or any number of receivers selected after him.  Roster status:  2 QBs, 5 RBs, 1 WR, 1 TE.

With my next two picks, I went receiver happy to compensate.  Unfortunately, by this time, the cupboards were pretty bare.  One of my new lines of thinking on receivers is:  taking the best ones from bad teams.  There are a couple of Browns receivers I really like, the Chargers guys are interesting, but I went with Pierre Garcon of the 49ers.  Yeah, he’s getting up there, but have you SEEN their depth chart?  And, I know, Brian Hoyer is their QB, but he’s still going to complete SOME passes, and he’s going to have to throw them to SOMEONE.  Garcon is most likely to get the lion’s share of the targets and touches that don’t go to Carlos Hyde (yes, I know, having not one but two 49ers on my team is just asking for trouble).  If he stays healthy, he could be a nice little steal for me.  Then, I wrapped around and picked up Willie Snead.  I’ve always liked him as a #2 option in New Orleans, but he seems to have REALLY fallen out of favor this pre-season (at least, according to reports), as the Saints have Michael Thomas as their clear #1, and the newly-signed Ted Ginn as a guy competing for #2 reps.  I dunno, I’ve always thought Sneed had good ball skills in the red zone, so I went with him over Ginn (secretly hoping I could snag Ginn the next time the draft got back to me, where I could keep the best one and waive the loser, but it wasn’t to be).

At that point, I had 2 QBs, 5 RBs, 3 WRs, and 1 TE.  I could officially field a full offense plus a flex spot, plus have enough RBs left over to compensate for a possible Elliott suspension.  I had to go get a Defense the next time up, because all the best ones were flying off the board.

I wanted Houston’s defense really bad, but he went 5 spots ahead of me, so I settled on Minnesota’s D.  We’ll see.  On the wrap-around, I picked up Eric Decker of the Titans.  He’s a touchdown machine, but he’s older and coming off injury, so it wouldn’t shock me if he isn’t long for my team.

Heading into the last two picks of the draft, a few Kickers had already been taken, but Stephen Gostkowski was still there for me so I somehow have New England’s kicker free of charge.  With my final pick, I took Rishard Matthews (a guy my friend wanted, but he accidentally took Jordan Matthews instead, a few picks before me).  I think Rishard is awfully underrated as a guy who had a pretty solid season for the Titans last year.  Neither he, nor Decker, figure to start for me out of the gate.  But, I’ll monitor both of them and keep the guy who’s more reliable.

Final Roster looks like this:

  • QB – Dak Prescott
  • QB – Carson Wentz
  • RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  • RB – Carlos Hyde
  • WR – Jamison Crowder
  • WR – Pierre Garcon
  • TE – Rob Gronkowski
  • Flex – (RB) Lamar Miller
  • K – Stephen Gostkowski
  • DEF – Minnesota

With my bench looking like this:

  • RB – Leonard Fournette
  • RB – Derrick Henry
  • WR – Willie Sneed
  • WR – Eric Decker
  • WR – Rishard Matthews

Look, I don’t love it, all right!  I’m not boasting here!  I love my running back situation, of course, but I have far-and-away the worst set of wide receivers in the entire league.  I’ve got a top-flight kicker, a good-enough defense, and the best tight end in the game (when healthy).  As for my quarterbacks, they’re young.  One was great last year (Dak), one got a lot of experience and took his lumps (Wentz).  The picking’s are pretty slim on the waiver wire, as far as QBs are concerned.  Most of the rookies are there, alongside a few of the very worst starters this league has to offer.  So, if Wentz can’t get it going early, I might be stuck with a Hoyer or a Kizer.

On the plus side, I think regardless of what happens, I should have 3 viable keepers heading into 2018, and that’s all I can really ask for.  If Wentz pans out, I’ll keep my two QBs and Elliott.  If Wentz doesn’t look good, or if Fournette really busts out, I might go with Dak and the two RBs.

Here goes nothing.