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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would Mike Vrabel Be The Right Guy For The Seahawks?

I don’t particularly love doing these speculative posts on free agents, be they coaches or players. I mean, there’s any number of potential acquisitions out there the Seahawks could bring in to coach this team, and it’s not like I’m going to write a post on all of them!

But, Mike Vrabel is an interesting topic for me. He’s one of the more known head coaching candidates, but also one that’s actually a viable option (unlike Belichick or Harbaugh, who seem destined to land elsewhere). If I had to guess, I’d say it’ll come down to Vrabel and Dan Quinn, with Quinn having a slight betting edge thanks to his history here (and the fact that we know he’s actually interviewed here).

If I had to choose from all available head coaching prospects, I would choose Vrabel. But, does that make him the best option? I’ll admit, this post just SCREAMS “overthinking”. Of course he’s the best option! I was a reasonably big fan of what the Titans were able to accomplish over the last few years, and I believe that had everything to do with Vrabel and his coaching staff getting the most out of a lackluster personnel group (outside of Derrick Henry and three years of A.J. Brown).

In his first year with the Titans, they managed to go 9-7 with a combination of Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert at the helm. Starting in 2019, with a rejuvenated Ryan Tannehill, the Titans made the playoffs three straight years, winning two division titles, with a #1 seed overall in 2021. These were teams built on toughness, a stout defense and strong running game, with just enough flash and sizzle in the passing attack to keep things interesting (that is, until they traded away A.J. Brown and failed to adequately replace him).

That 2019 team was really something, taking a wild card berth and making it all the way to the AFC Championship Game, before losing to Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs.

Unfortunately, that’s kind of where the good vibes end. The Titans were One & Done in the 2020 and 2021 playoffs. And it’s been a lean couple of seasons after that, going a combined 13-21. They’ve still played hard the last two years – gotta commend them for that – but lack of talent really sapped this coaching staff’s effectiveness.

It’s at this point where things start to get murky. Clearly, the Titans held onto Ryan Tannehill too long. And, in spite of using some relatively high draft picks on quarterbacks in recent years (third rounder for Malik Willis, high second rounder for Will Levis; both guys who dropped in the draft relative to projections), you can’t really say they took the process seriously. Neither quarterback has developed into much of anything, and it’s fair to question – if the Seahawks do what I’d like them to do, and that’s draft a potential QB of the future this year – whether or not Vrabel and his staff are capable of developing a young guy. They had their biggest success with a mostly-veteran team and a retread quarterback. Geno Smith often gets compared to Ryan Tannehill, and it sort of feels like Geno is at the point where Tannehill was in 2019 or 2020. If that’s the case, there likely isn’t a long shelf life left for Geno (with a clear ceiling), and if we don’t get started trying to find his replacement soon, it’s going to start looking really ugly around here.

Was Vrabel pushing to keep the status quo too long? He seems to get the most out of older guys, but can he get the most out of a young core? Or, on the flipside, was it the GM and front office of the Titans who were mostly responsible for that team going to pot? Honestly, that seems more likely, but if both Vrabel and the GM were in lockstep, then a lot of these bad personnel decisions of the last couple years falls on both of them.

I’ll be the first to admit, I thought the Titans were savvy to trade Brown away, get a first rounder for him, and try to rebuild their receiver room through the draft. I’ll also be the first to admit, I was dead wrong about Brown (I pegged him to be increasingly injury-prone over the life of his second contract), and the Titans miserably failed with Treylon Burks and others. One would hope, with John Schneider at the helm, we could get Vrabel more talented guys to play around with.

In the end, I’m not going to overthink this. Mike Vrabel is the best option for the Seahawks. I hope we can get a deal done.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2022: Let The Justin Fields Era Begin!

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m legitimately shocked. Not only did RoundTine defeat Korky Butchek 158.60 to 114.25, but I would’ve defeated 6 out of the 9 other teams in this league last week! It was far and away the most points I’ve scored this season, which is delightful and also really fucking sad. Teams can score over 200 points in our league fairly regularly. 160 is a decent average weekly score. So, yeah.

All praise goes to Justin Fields, though, who got me 49.95 points. That has to be a personal best for any single player on RoundTine this year. He’s turned into an animal! And to think, in the first month of the season, I was THIS CLOSE to cutting him entirely and moving on. If my team wasn’t so atrocious, I might’ve done just that; I shudder to think what I would’ve gotten in his stead, but rest assured I would have wanted to put a bullet in my brain.

I’m a little gunshy about raising the ol’ Mission Accomplished banner, though. I’d like to sit here and boast about how I’ve FINALLY gotten one of my quarterback spots locked down for the foreseeable future. But, all I really see is a guy who unlocked his rushing ability, but who still struggles throwing the ball. Maybe he improves that over the next year – like Jalen Hurts has this past year – or maybe this is as good as it gets with Fields.

I’ll be very interested to see how Fields progresses through the second half, especially in a stretch that includes some elite-level defenses in the Jets, Packers, Eagles, and Bills. If he continues on this trajectory, and improves his passing ability, I might be able to rest a little easier heading into 2023. At the very least, maybe I can make some noise in the Consolation Bracket this year!

I got another 27.5 points out of Kenneth Walker, as well as a ridiculous trade offer for him, in exchange for a broken-down Matthew Stafford. I shot that down immediately and countered an offer of Brian Robinson for Stafford. He swatted that one away and came back with a Stafford for Philly’s Defense offer. Boy that piqued my interest! I sat with that one for a full day, mulling it over. Stafford clearly isn’t the same player he once was. That shoulder isn’t getting any better, and the more the Rams lose, the closer we’ll get to them just shutting Stafford down for the year. At which point, either he rests & rehabs, or he goes in for surgery (or, worst case scenario, he rest & rehabs, that fails, and then he goes in for surgery later, costing him a chunk of next season). Best case scenario, he’s on an offense with one good skill guy for the rest of this year.

I crowd sourced my dilemma to some friends, who recommended holding out for draft picks next year. I like that idea! I can grab higher draft picks from wherever this guy ends up, and all it will cost me is a defense. On the flipside, I can utilize that defense to help me in the Consolation Bracket this year, getting me potentially a top overall draft pick. There’s a good chance that it won’t matter though. Unless the Philly defense goes bananas in the Consolation Bracket, the rest of my team is likely to be so bad it won’t make a difference. At which point, I’ll wish I had gone after the extra draft capital.

After careful deliberation, I made a slight tweak in my counter offer. I traded the Philly defense and my last two draft picks for Matthew Stafford and his FIRST two draft picks. So, at the very least, even if Stafford gives me nothing this year, I’ll have two first and second rounders in next year’s dynasty draft.

What’s funny is, my trade partner doesn’t really NEED the Philly D. He already has the Patriots. So, other than this BYE week, he’ll have two of the three best fantasy defenses, but obviously he can only play one.

Stafford is looking like he’s out this week, with a concussion. That’s a bit of a bummer, but maybe a week off will do his arm some good. In the meantime, I was able to snag the Jets’ defense. They’re currently fifth in fantasy scoring, but they’ve been on a tear the last six weeks, after struggling mightily the first three. I’ll still need to pick up a defense for this week – with the Jets on a BYE – but if they can keep it up going forward, I don’t think it’s a huge step down from Philly.

This week, I go up against Space Forcin’. Here’s my lineup:

  • Justin Fields (QB) vs. Det
  • Davis Mills (QB) @ NYG
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ GB
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ TB
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) @ TB
  • Tony Pollard (RB) @ GB
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) @ Buf
  • Gabe Davis (WR) vs. Min
  • Jake Elliott (K) vs. Was
  • TBD (DEF) vs. TBD

We lost Doubs to injury; he’ll be in my IR slot for a while. We also don’t have to worry about the Patriots, thanks to their BYE. What I do have to worry about is what decisions they make regarding their starting quarterback position. How patient are they going to be with Mac Jones, who is clearly struggling? That leaves me in a 2-week limbo period, since you know news won’t leak from there until it’s too late.

Here’s what I’m going up against:

  • Marcus Mariota (QB) @ Car
  • Patrick Mahomes (QB) vs. Jax
  • Chris Godwin (WR) vs. Sea
  • Davante Adams (WR) vs. Ind
  • Alvin Kamara (RB) @ Pit
  • Dameon Pierce (RB) @ NYG
  • Dalton Schultz (TE) @ GB
  • Antonio Gibson (RB) @ Phi
  • Younghoe Koo (K) @ Car
  • Buffalo (DEF) vs. Min

Lots of studs! Mahomes always throws for 17 touchdowns whenever I go up against him, so look for him to out-score my entire team. Also, that Pierce guy is one of the best young running backs in the game today. In the draft, it came down to him or Walker. I’m happy with my choice, but still.

We’ll See How Bad The Seahawks Can Be This Week

Y’all know me (still the same O.G.), I’m here rooting for the Seahawks to lose. I want to be rid of Geno Smith, I want a high draft pick next year, and I want that high draft pick to be devoted to an elite franchise quarterback, so we can get right back to winning Super Bowls. So, I want the Seahawks to lose this Sunday against the Falcons. I’m predisposed to believe we can and will lose to the Falcons.

Ergo, it takes a lot to lead me to believe the Seahawks will probably prevail.

I think the Falcons are bad. I think they’re bad in a similar way to the Seahawks being bad – they have a clear placeholder quarterback (Mariota) just playing out the string before they lose enough games to give their rookie a shot – and I also believe that rookie is by no means the “future”, but rather a future backup. I think the Falcons are going to use their high draft pick next year to ALSO try and draft an elite franchise QB.

The difference between how bad the Falcons are and how bad the Seahawks are comes down to the talent around those two placeholders. I think the Seahawks have some sneaky-good talent on the roster, whereas I think the Falcons are completely bereft. They have a rookie wide receiver who might be elite, but has yet to prove anything. And, they have a tight end who they adamantly refuse to throw the ball to. That’s pretty much it for the offense, other than Cordarrelle Patterson (who I’m firing up in a couple of leagues, fully expecting to disappoint me at every turn). And, I’m assuming, the defense is similarly a joke.

When you tack on how the Seahawks are at home in this one, I think we’ll win fairly comfortably. I think our offense will have no trouble breaking that streak of scoreless quarters (at six and counting), and our defense will be just good enough to allow us to prevail in a one-score game (perhaps with the Falcons scoring late to bring it to within one score). Give me 27-24, Seahawks.

More specifically, I think this one comes down to the running game for the Seahawks. Even though I do expect Geno to have a pretty good game from a fantasy perspective, I think we’re going to rededicate ourselves to running the ball on offense, and stopping the run on defense. Make Mariota beat us with his arm. He’ll get a few shots in, but ultimately I don’t think he has what it takes.

How confident am I? Not very. There’s another way this game plays out. The 0-2 Falcons lost by a point at home to the Saints (who allegedly have a very good defense), and they came roaring back on the road against the Rams, pulling a 28-3 game in the second half all the way to 31-27. That’s not chopped liver!

So there’s very much a world where Mariota has all the time in the world to throw, they get lots of chunk plays on the ground, and they funnel Geno Smith into these useless checkdowns that go nowhere. And while I’m more than 50% sure that the Seahawks prevail in this one, I will say that the odds of a Falcons blowout victory are significantly higher than the odds of a Seahawks blowout victory.

Make no mistake, the Seahawks should win this game. We’re talking about two evenly-matched teams with the Seahawks having home field. So, if we lose, I think that’s pretty damning. The Falcons have gone closer to a full rebuild than the Seahawks, so by all rights they should be worse. If they’re not, then I think that will speak volumes for our chances to getting a high draft pick next year.

Looking ahead, I don’t see that game in Detroit as anything we can reasonably win. We follow that up with a game in New Orleans; both feel like safe losses, based on what I’ve seen through two weeks. Looking further ahead, the home game against the Giants doesn’t feel so automatic anymore; they’ve really stepped up in their 2-0 start. And even looking WAY ahead at the likes of the Panthers and Jets should be concerning. If we don’t beat the Falcons, and look bad in the process, I’ll legitimately wonder if there’s another victory on our schedule.

So, no pressure or anything.

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.