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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, here is my lineup for the championship:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is Sloane N Steady’s lineup:

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

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

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

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

The Seahawks Barely Beat The Commanders

What a strange game! The defense was nowhere to be seen on that first drive, then they settled down through the third quarter – limiting the Commanders to just two more field goals – and then they fell apart again in the fourth quarter.

The offense, meanwhile, scrabbled together three field goal drives in the first half – once again struggling in or near the red zone – only to pick it up a bit in the second half, and came up huge late in the game to eke out a 29-26 victory.

We looked at times both great and terrible in this game. In the end, talent won out, but I think what this game showed us more than anything is that the talent level of the Seahawks is much closer to the Commanders than it is to the 49ers or the truly elite teams in the NFC.

It was good to see the huge, crushing mistakes were eliminated in this one. I don’t think the Seahawks could’ve afforded any turnovers, and thankfully they managed to avoid them. Geno Smith had a good game, throwing for 369 yards and 2 TDs. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both had strong performances (7 for 98 and 8 for 92 and a TD, respectively). Kenneth Walker had some big plays (127 yards from scrimmage and a receiving TD), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba had a solid 4 for 53.

Defensively, the big story was Boye Mafe, with his seventh consecutive game with a sack. Leondard Williams had his first sack with the Seahawks. And the cornerbacks seemed to clamp down pretty good on the Commanders’ receivers. But, we also let their running backs run roughshod both on the ground and through the air, with lots of missed tackles/assignments.

It was critical for the Seahawks to limit pressure on Geno, and he ended up only taking one sack. This seemed to be his least-pressured game of the season, and his numbers looked pretty good accordingly.

Jason Myers came up huge, with five field goals, four from 40+, on a not-great weather weekend.

This brought the Seahawks back to 6-3 on the year, keeping pace with the 49ers. Now, we head to L.A. to take on the Rams in a rematch of that week 1 debacle. It’s hard to predict what that game is going to look like, without knowing the status of their key players.

The Rams are coming off of a BYE, and Matthew Stafford has been nursing a thumb injury. The Rams are, predictably, 3-6 on the year and look like they’re going nowhere. However, Stafford looks to be on track for his return this week, and as we all know, the Rams always play us tough, no matter how bad they are on paper.

I don’t think the Rams are any worse than the Commanders. That should, at the very least, give us pause. I don’t see any reason why this game shouldn’t be closer than the 30-13 drubbing we suffered at the start of the season, but I also see no reason why we would feel remotely confident. It’s really kind of a no-win situation. If we beat them, we were supposed to beat them; if we lose, then it’s going to be another miserable Sunday losing to the hated Rams in a game where we’re severely out-coached.

My official pick is somewhere in the realm of 27-24 Rams. I hope I’m wrong. But, I’ll also be on my honeymoon when it’s taking place, so if all goes according to plan, I won’t see one iota of this matchup.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: I Lost The Stupidest Game Possible

How annoyed was I that I left Justin Fields on my bench last week (or, the last TWO weeks, for that matter)? Pretty fucking annoyed! Considering I lost 141.3 to 125.9, I definitely could’ve used his 43.8 points. Nevertheless, heading into Monday night’s showdown between the Packers and the meh Raiders, all I needed was 16 points and change from Jordan Love and I would’ve prevailed. That was LESS than his projected points. I just needed AH game from him.

Instead, I got 3 of the dumbest interceptions I’ve ever fucking seen, and he finished with less than 1 point. I don’t even know what he was trying to do with those picks; I’m too blinded with rage to actually remember all of them, but the first one seemed like he was intentionally throwing to the Raiders defender, and I think the other two were thrown into 12-on-1 coverage.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been holding Love hostage from the Packers fan in our league, who has been trying since before the draft to trade me Geno Smith for him. The way I see it, Love has longer-term upside, and if he’s adamant about aligning his fantasy team with his favored NFL team, he’s going to have to pay a premium. That’s all there is to it.

To be fair, this is only Love’s first truly awful game. He’s surpassed his projected points three times by a pretty decent margin, and met his projected points once; that’s not someone I’m looking to just give away. But, I’ve noticed some distressing trends through five weeks. First and foremost: whatever decision I make about Fields (sit vs. start), I’m GOING to get it wrong. I’ve played him in his three very worst weeks, and I’ve sat him when he’s finally resembled the late-season breakout from last year. But, that’s neither here nor there. Regarding Love, he’s a tricky fantasy play. The Packers have a good defense, and seem to be content with slowing down their offense and keeping these games relatively low scoring. It was evident from the jump on Monday night that they were bound and determined to establish their run game, even though Aaron Jones was out. Love has a high of 259 in passing yards, and a high in completions of only 23. It tells me he’s not super accurate (his receivers also looked like they left points on the table with drops), and that he’s touchdown-dependent.

Since I have no intention of keeping Cousins beyond this season, though, so far Love is locked into one of my two quarterback keeper spots heading into the 2024 season. But, a lot can obviously change between now and then.

We had our first decent Bryce Young week (22.75, after a high of only 17.05 prior to that). Fields, as I mentioned, has back-to-back 37+ points scoring weeks, so he’s locked into my lineup for the foreseeable future.

Christian Watson looked better last week – after playing in limited duty in week 4, coming back from injury – though he dropped a tough deep ball in tight coverage that could’ve made everyone’s lives better. The Packers are heading into a BYE week this week, but I won’t be afraid of throwing him into my lineup on an as-needed basis.

The loss drops me to 2-3, and in fifth place in the standings. Still a long way to go, and thankfully the top 6 make the playoffs, so I’m not pushing the panic button quite yet.

This week, I go up against The Lance Petemans, who is 4-1 and in second place overall. He has the most points scored in the league, so this is a frightening proposition. My lineup:

  • Kirk Cousins (QB) @ Chi
  • Justin Fields (QB) vs. Min
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ LAC
  • Jordan Addison (WR) @ Chi
  • Tony Pollard (RB) @ LAC
  • Kyren Williams (RB) vs. Ari
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) @ Chi
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) @ Cin
  • Evan McPherson (K) vs. Sea
  • N.Y. Jets (DEF) vs. Phi

As I mentioned above, both my Packers are on BYE. Terry McLaurin is never going to be a confident play for me, and might be the next guy I waive, if I have to waive someone for any reason. Mattison is out based on a roster crunch (I have too many healthy RBs at the moment … which shouldn’t be a problem for much longer, now that I’ve jinxed myself). And Bryce Young has an interesting matchup at Miami; I wonder if he’ll get some good garbage-time points this week.

You know what I never particularly look forward to? When the majority of my players are involved in the same game. Both quarterbacks are going head-to-head in this one, which means – for me to win this week – I need the Vikings/Bears game to be high-scoring. Thankfully, neither defense is much to write home about. We’ll see what the Vikings look like with Justin Jefferson on IR. Will Addison ascend to be a true #1? Will Hockenson pick up some of the slack? Or, will Cousins suffer as a result? I kind of dread the answers to these questions.

The Cowboys have a juicy Monday night matchup against the Chargers. I am perennially unlucky when I’m tasked with a Monday night comeback, though, so my only hope seems to be taking a huge Sunday lead and not needing Monday’s points at all. Indeed, all my players seem to have good matchups this week – save the Jets defense, who has to tangle with the Eagles – so with that confidence firmly in place, watch my team royally shit the bed.

Here’s who The Lance Petemans will toss in front of me:

  • Jared Goff (QB) @ TB
  • Matthew Stafford (QB) vs. Ari
  • Tyreek Hill (WR) vs. Car
  • Keenan Allen (WR) vs. Dal
  • Raheem Mostert (RB) vs. Car
  • David Montgomery (RB) @ TB
  • Cole Kmet (TE) vs. Min
  • Adam Thielen (WR) @ Mia
  • Jake Moody (K) @ Cle
  • Dallas (DEF) @ LAC

It’s the week I always dread, when I’m reminded of the dumbest fantasy trade I ever made. Back in Tom Brady’s last year with the Pats, I needed a quarterback, and so I traded Tyreek Hill for him (there may or may not have been other players involved, who I’ve since forgotten about). Brady was cooked, and did nothing for my playoff chances; meanwhile Hill has turned into the most dynamic and important fantasy receiver in the history of football. The gift that keeps on giving. I’ve been in a perpetual rebuild ever since.

Allen is a target hog. Mostert’s value just skyrocketed thanks to the injury to Achane. Montgomery has been taking the lion’s (!) share of snaps and goalline carries. This is just a rock-solid team from top to bottom, with Dallas being the envy of just about everyone. I fully expect them to bounce back in a big way after being embarrassed by the 49ers.

Can The Underdog Seahawks Turn Their Season Around?

There’s kind of a lot on the line this week. I’m the last person who LIKES being an alarmist; it’s just so fucking predictable and cliche for the hardcore football fan to be like, “WEEK 2 IS A MUST WIN GAME FOR THE SEAHAWKS OTHERWISE THE SEASON IS OVER AND WE MIGHT AS WELL ALL KILL OURSELVES!!!1”.

For the record: do NOT kill yourself if the Seahawks lose this week.

There’s a number of ways to look at this, though. Every time week 2 of the NFL season comes and goes, you get the requisite: such and such percent of teams who start 0-2 make the playoffs; that percentage falls to such and such if they start 0-3. I really only have articles from last year, but since 1970, only 9.5% of teams that started 0-2 made the playoffs. Since 1990, only 14.8% of 0-2 teams made it. Last year, Cincinnati started 0-2 and finished with a 12-4 record (the unfinished Buffalo game notwithstanding) to win their division. That’s a pretty remarkable turnaround; definitely not the norm.

There’s been 6 teams total since 1979 that have made the playoffs after an 0-3 start, for what it’s worth. So, not great.

Last year, the Seahawks started 1-2 before turning things around – oddly enough, with a 48-45 victory over the Lions in Detroit kicking things off – but I guess I’m less concerned about just making the playoffs. There’s always a 9- or 10-win team squeaking into a wild card spot. It’s very possible to start 0-2 and get there; tack on a win at home next week against Carolina and we’re in the same spot we were a year ago. But, I guess I just had higher hopes for this team. Or, you know, just fool me a bit! Make me believe the Seahawks have what it takes to contend with the 49ers! Don’t rip off the band aid in the first two weeks with an 0-2 start.

Sports seasons are most fun when you know you’re elite. 49ers fans must be thrilled right now. Eagles and Cowboys fans are feeling great. The next level of entertainment is when you THINK you’re great. Dolphins fans, Lions fans, Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Jaguars, and even lower rung teams like Packers, Browns, Ravens, Patriots, Vikings, and Giants fans can delude themselves into having high hopes. No hope for Jets fans though. Never Jets fans. And the Giants fans are only there because they’re galoots who don’t know any better.

But, we Seahawks fans don’t get to live in that fantasy. Not after last week. The best we can hope for is that the Rams are better than anyone expected, and might be a dark horse for a playoff spot. I don’t believe that’s the case. I think the Rams ARE who we thought they were, and they’re going to finish among the bottom teams in football. Which makes our 17-point loss at home all the more demoralizing.

So, that’s a lot to overcome in one week. The Seahawks are fighting for their own fans to have some semblance of confidence in this team, this season. Even if we were always meant to be in a stepping stone year in 2023, it has to actually be a step UP. It can’t look like every other year since 2015.

What does that look like? Well, the team as a whole gets off to a slow start. Not an alarmingly slow start, but an annoyingly slow start. The defense is utter shit, but the offense is just good enough (sometimes) to float around .500 for a while. Then, we go on a little mid-season run to get everyone flying high, before the offense collapses into itself and the we’re stumbling our way into the playoffs. We settle for yet another wild card spot, and we lose in the wild card round. While I’m exaggerating about the 2015 thing, it’s been a virtual reality since 2018 (there was a surprise division championship in 2020, only for us to lose to the Rams in the first round at home).

I can’t go through it again. I REALLY can’t go through it again when I know exactly what’s going to happen.

Winning in Detroit this week would go a long way in changing that perception.

For the record, I’m not even REMOTELY interested in any moral victories this week. We all know the storyline: the Seahawks are as low as a team can be. The Lions, meanwhile, finished 9-8 last year, knocking hated rivals Green Bay out of the playoffs in Week 18, and followed that up with a thrilling victory in Kansas City over the Super Bowl champs last Thursday to kick off the NFL season. They had a potentially-underrated off-season and draft, there’s both a lot of hype and anti-hype surrounding the Lions (many predicting them to win the NFC North; many also predicting them to be the team that most disappoints expectations), but one thing most people agree upon: they’re going to be fun and they’re going to score a lot of points this year. Now, with their 1-0 start, they play at home in front of a sellout crowd that’s going to be louder and more raucous than they’ve been since Barry Sanders’ heyday.

It’s a lot for the Seahawks to walk into.

The Lions are favored by 4.5 points. That line hasn’t really changed since the week began; we’ll see what happens as Sunday approaches. No one REALLY thinks the Seahawks are going to win. Odds say the Lions have a 2/3 chance of winning, which honestly feels low. The Seahawks are likely to be missing both offensive tackles. Devon Witherspoon is probably another week away from entering the starting lineup (who knows if he’ll even play at all this Sunday); Jamal Adams is probably a month away from returning to limited game action. JSN sure as shit didn’t look 100% last week, and I have no idea what’s going on with Lockett. The Seahawks just signed 41 year old Jason Peters off the scrap heap, who might HAVE to start this week, because Stone Forsythe is a joke. Meanwhile, Abe Lucas just hit the IR and we’ll see if he’s able to return this year and actually make a positive impact.

It’s a nightmare. I’m flashing on the Seahawks getting saddled with having the ball first, going 3 & Out, and the roof literally exploding off of that dome. It makes me physically ill.

I’m also flashing on Jared Goff carving up our defense with precision passes, and their running backs double-teaming us right in the pooper at a 5-yards-per-carry clip.

Maybe that all comes to fruition. Maybe these Seahawks are significantly worse than we thought. Maybe we just caught two teams at the wrong time of year, when they’re playing their absolute best. I’m not willing to completely throw out of bed the possibility that we lose by double digits once again.

But, it’s not like we haven’t been here before. There’s something fishy about a line like 4.5, after the Seahawks looked the way they looked last week, and the Lions looked the way they looked last week. Why isn’t it 6 or 7? If I was a dispassionate sports bettor, I’d be looking at the Lions like the lock of the week. I’m assuming the betting public will be on the Lions hot and heavy, if they aren’t already. What are the sharps doing, though? Where are they going to lean?

The Seahawks thrive in chaos. The Seahawks love being the underdogs. The Seahawks constantly defy expectations when you least expect it. There’s no real rational reason to pick the Seahawks to win this game. But, winning this game – dirty and ugly – is the most Seahawky thing I can think of. Especially if they go down 7-0 early in the first quarter.

There’s been nothing but bad vibes permeating throughout Seahawksland this week. Everything that could go wrong DID go wrong last week. We’re all just bracing for the 0-2 start, and the obituaries that will surely follow.

But, isn’t that what Week 2 is all about? Trying to figure out what’s real, and what’s an overreaction?

Look at fantasy. Think about all the players who stunk up the joint last week. Hell, I had a number of them on my teams! Tee “Zero Catches” Higgins, Joe Burrow, Christian Kirk, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Elijah Mitchell, the Steelers’ defense; they all did nothing or next-to-nothing last week. Meanwhile, Jordan Love, Zay Flowers, Brandon Aiyuk, Tyler Allgeier, Puka Nacua, Matthew Stafford, Jordan Addison, the Jets’ defense; they all killed it in week 1 (many of them for my bench, or on the waiver pile). Are all of those guys who stunk going to continue to suck? Of course not; I would bet on most of them turning it around this very week. Similarly, will Jordan Love play at an MVP clip, and will Flowers, Nacua, and Addison never have ANY rookie pitfalls? Of course not.

Guys have bad games. The good ones tend to bounce back the very next week. I still believe the Seahawks have a number of good guys on their team.

The question will be: is this a fundamental, deeply-rooted problem that goes beyond the individual talent level of guys like Dre’Mont Jones, D.K. Metcalf, Bobby Wagner, and Geno Smith? Is it the scheme? The coaching staff? The head coach? The general manager?

We’ll find out. For what it’s worth, I like the Seahawks to cover +4.5. I also don’t hate the notion of the Seahawks winning outright, but a 30-something percent chance – as I mentioned before – feels a little high. My fear is that the Seahawks look 1,000% better than they did last week, but they still fall short at the end. Either the Lions score late to win it, or we have the ball with two minutes to go and Geno is running for his life and getting sacked for his trouble.

0-2, here we come.

And The Seahawks Looked Like Dogshit Against The Rams

The Seahawks aren’t the only team to lose an embarrassing game in Week 1. Dare I forget the Bengals losing 24-3 to the Browns? The Steelers losing 30-7 to the 49ers? And look no further than Sunday Night Football, where the Giants got demolished 40-0 by the Cowboys.

Here’s where we put into context the 30-13 loss to the Rams: all of those other losers I just listed were defeated by teams that actually project to be pretty good! The Browns have a lot of talent on defense, and a great running game, and they played that to perfection on Sunday. The 49ers are the 49ers: one of the most talented top-to-bottom rosters in the NFL. The Cowboys are absolutely riddled with superstars on both sides of the ball, and have filled in around them marvelously.

The Rams are a fucking joke, period. The Rams are going to lose double-digit games and oftentimes look bad doing it. They have no good receivers. Their running game is subpar. They have exactly one guy on defense, and smart, competent teams are going to know how to neutralize him.

And the Seahawks Got. They. Ass. Whooped by this terrible fucking Rams team, so what does that say about us?

Well, for starters, you can forget all that shit about winning the division, or 11-12 games for that matter. And don’t even think about this team winning in the playoffs! Because THAT shit ain’t happening! I must’ve been drunk when I wrote that. Blackout drunk. Overcome with dementia; a raving fucking lunatic.

I don’t know how we keep falling for this defense like the same fucking broken record, skipping over and over and over and over and over and over again. Clint Hurtt doesn’t know how to run a defense. Or, at least, he doesn’t know how to run THIS defense. Meanwhile, Sean Desai is over in Philly running something exceedingly dynamic. But, this is REALLY on Pete Carroll, and John Schneider. We’ve seen now – since Dan Quinn left – that NO ONE has been able to run this defense. So, it’s some combination of players and scheme, and that’s on the two men at the top.

The defense steps out onto that field for the first time in the season, and it gives up a methodical 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that takes up most of the first quarter. Every fucking year. Which is only a microcosm of the season, because the defense might settle down for a quarter or two, but then it falls apart at the end. We’ll see this shitty fucking defense play out over the next month or two, and fans will be calling for the chopped-off heads of everyone involved with this team. Then, they’ll play some lousy offense, and for some reason get credit for the turnaround. The soft spot of the schedule will make it look like the Seahawks know what the FUCK they’re doing, until they have to play the 49ers or Eagles or whatever, and then it’s back to major fucking blowouts.

I guess credit is due for improved run defense? 2.3 yards per carry IS an improvement. Except, they had no trouble ramming it into our asshole when they got down around the goalline; the two backs combined for 3 very easy touchdowns. Goalline defense doesn’t figure to be our specialty.

But, 2.3 yards per carry is of cold comfort when you compare it to the passing game. Matthew Stafford had all day to throw. Not that he ever needed all day, because his guys were wide fucking open all game long. Not even a whiff of press coverage. No knocking guys off of their route. Just running and chasing, and giving up both easy passes in gaping zones, or tough passes in one-on-one situations. Regardless, this game was EASY for Matthew Stafford. It also would’ve been EASY for Desmond Ridder or Baker Mayfield or even Justin Fields.

Hey, where the hell was Dre’Mont Jones? Even if I knew what stupid fucking number he chose to wear, I couldn’t fucking tell you where he was in this one, because he was a GHOST! A $17 million per year fucking ghost.

Hey, where the hell was this awesome secondary we’ve heard so much about? Because, spoiler alert, Tutu Fucking Atwell and Puka Fucking Nacua torched us all damn day, and it would’ve been worse if not for some drops early on. Each had 119 yards receiving, on 6 catches for Atwell and 10 for Nacua. Umm, those guys are trash. And they dominated. Let’s revisit in 6 weeks and see where they are.

Hey, where the hell was the pass rush? Or, as Cris Collinsworth says, “Pash Rsh”. Not even CLOSE to a sack. A whopping 2 QB hits. I’m tired of the fucking excuse that the quarterback affects that stat by getting rid of the ball quickly. You know what you can do? You can blitz, like ever. Or, you can press the fucking line of scrimmage and force him to think for more than a fucking micro-second! What did the Seahawks do? The same thing, all fucking game. React, instead of dictate. This fucking namby-pamby way of playing defense that they’ve played since Dan Quinn left.

Don’t think I’ve forgotten about the offense. Geno Smith sure was a mess out there! 16/26 for 112 yards and a TD isn’t going to earn him that raise next year! I thought Kenneth Walker looked like he picked up right where he left off last season, except you can’t really take advantage of his 5.3 yards per carry when you can’t ever convert a fucking third down (2 for 9 on the day, including 0 for their last 7). There were some drops, there were some poorly-thrown balls, and Geno flat-out missed a wide open Jake Bobo running down the seam on the trick play they called (Bobo would’ve been the primary receiver on that play, so how you miss him is FUCKING baffling to me).

This team scored 13 points on their first three drives. Then, they missed an easy field goal before halftime, then that was it. Nothing but punts in the second half. Punts and Rams points.

I thought Charbonnet looked ineffectual in his 3 carries; I guess that’s good news for people who have Walker in Fantasy. I thought JSN looked tentative and VERY coverable (maybe a byproduct of his hand/wrist injury). It’s funny how the Rams don’t have NEARLY as talented of a defense, and yet they managed to cover us tight near the line of scrimmage.

Bobby Wagner had 19 tackles, but what impact did he have? I saw Matthew Stafford juke right around him on a scramble; how does THAT happen?! Jordyn Brooks had 12 tackles, so that’s neat. They looked exactly like they did 2 years ago when they were teammates: zero big plays whatsoever.

Everyone but the punter stunk up the joint. Even on Special Teams, we let two balls squib into the endzone, and Myers missed a very easy field goal.

And if you were worried about injuries, this was the game for you, because we had them in spades! Both offensive tackles left the game, not to return. Their replacements – as we’ve seen before – were God awful. This team won’t win a game if it has Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan starting. That’s just it. Put us down for 0-17 if that’s the case, because those useless fucking turds couldn’t block a cold.

Let’s see, Tyler Lockett had a head injury, and was sucking on oxygen all game. Cardio not up to snuff? What’s going on? And, of course, we didn’t even get to see our #5 overall pick, Devon Witherspoon, or Jamal Adams – two of our most dynamic defensive playmakers – because they weren’t even healthy enough to suit up. Not that it would’ve mattered tremendously, since they’re sure to flounder in this scheme that does nothing to showcase actual talent, or put players in a position to succeed.

Every year, we start slow. Every year, we lose games early that we shouldn’t lose. Every year, it looks like this is the worst fucking team we’ve ever seen. And then every year they get incrementally better. They string together wins against bad teams, and an occasional okay team. They sneak into the playoffs as a wild card team, only to lose in the first round. How is it we’re being sucked into the same fucking script year after year?

I’m fucking BORED of this Seahawks team! It’s the same one we’ve watched since 2016! Just fast-forward to fucking January already and get it over with!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: Draft Results May Vary

I completed three fantasy football drafts in about an 80-hour span; is it possible to feel terrible about every single one of them?

Before we dive into my Dyntasy League 5-round draft, I’ll talk a little bit about my other two teams, as I seem to have stumbled into a couple of different strategies without even trying.

Every draft is different. You never know where you’re going to land in any given draft (assuming it’s randomly selected for you), you never know who’s going to be available (who people reach for, or who people steal from you at the last moment), and so you can go into a draft with one plan, but circumstances force you to go another way.

I try to be adaptable. I’m just looking for as many good players as possible. If it comes down to one of two guys, I’ll simply take the player I want to root for more. And I definitely tend to skew towards younger players, especially at running back and wide receiver.

Yet, I think I have two wildly different teams! To wit, the True League, and my team, RUM HAM:

  • Jalen Hurts (QB)
  • Aaron Rodgers (QB)
  • James Conner (RB)
  • Dalvin Cook (RB)
  • Breece Hall (RB)
  • Elijah Mitchell (RB)
  • Jonathan Taylor (RB)
  • Jahan Dotson (WR)
  • Treylon Burks (WR)
  • Zay Flowers (WR)
  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR)
  • Cooper Kupp (WR)
  • Jameson Williams (WR)
  • Travis Kelce (TE)
  • Kicker TBD
  • New York Jets (DEF)

There’s injury concerns (Conner, Hall, Mitchell, Taylor, Kupp), there’s age concerns (Rodgers, Kelce, Conner again), and then there’s just an endless array of first- and second-year players (Hall, Dotson, Burks, Flowers, JSN, Williams). This is more of a standard scoring league, with half-PPR I believe, but I don’t know if I have enough TD-power to cut the mustard. Will Taylor return to playing football this season? How bad is Kupp’s injury? How many games will I get out of Conner? When will Hall have his inevitable set-back? Will I be able to hold onto Williams through his entire 6-week suspension?

There’s a lot of questions swirling around my team. On the one end of the spectrum of possibilities, I’ll be spending every week scrambling to field a healthy team, constantly worried about and second-guessing injury reports. On the other end, my hurt guys get healthy, and I’m able to field a juggernaut by season’s end that will take me all the way to the championship. High variance, high reward!

Also, I should say, I do like Dotson and Burks more than most. And, really, the Cardinals ONLY have Conner, so he should feast as the only dude on that offense.

Now, here’s my other team, The Annexation Of Puerto Rico, in my beloved Splinter League:

  • Josh Allen (QB)
  • Dak Prescott (QB)
  • Matthew Stafford (QB)
  • Bijan Robinson (RB)
  • Rachaad White (RB)
  • Tyler Allgeier (RB)
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR)
  • Tee Higgins (WR)
  • Christian Kirk (WR)
  • George Pickens (WR)
  • Brandon Aiyuk (WR)
  • Treylon Burks (WR)
  • Jameson Williams (WR)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (DEF)

On the flipside, not a lot of injury issues here, at least out of the gate. But, I also don’t have the glut of running backs to pull from in a pinch. Thankfully, I have the Falcons guys to fall back on, but if White is a bust, I’m kind of screwed.

In the True League, I had the fifth pick in the draft. After the usual suspects went 1-4, I made Kelce my top overall pick. By contrast, in the Splinter League, I had the second pick. Last year, I won it all by having the 10th pick, so this was a VASTLY different experience for me. My Splinter League is even more quarterback-crazy (2 QB league, 1 point per 15 passing yards, 6-point TDs, -4 INTs), and I’m happy to say I got to take Josh Allen for the first time ever. That’s a recipe for him having an uncharacteristically-down year if I’ve ever heard one!

Anyway, I guess we’ll see. I should point out that in the True League, I got an A+ grade by Yahoo, second overall in the league. And, in the Splinter League, I also got an A+ grade, first overall. Will that mean anything? We’ll see. I had a high grade last year in Splinter as well, and ended up winning the whole thing. But, there’s a lot that goes into a championship season; you need to get extremely lucky along the way.

In my Dynasty League, my team – Fight The Mattriarchy! – got a D grade, 8th out of 10 teams. Since everyone’s 10 keepers get slotted randomly into the draft rounds 1-10, I don’t know how much of that grade is outside of my control. But, with the way AI has been trending, I think Yahoo is probably able to take a global view of every team’s quality and depth of players and make an honest assessment. I mean, I’ve been kind of bottom-feeding for a while now; maybe my keepers aren’t up to snuff.

I wrote about my dilemma last week, so you can read that HERE. That link will also tell you who my keepers were. Without further ado, let’s talk about my 5-round draft! Or, rather, my 3-round/5-person draft.

As expected, the two rookie running backs went 1 and 2 (Bijan and Jahmyr Gibbs). That left one guy standing between me and the quarterback of my dreams/nightmares. He ended up taking Anthony Richardson, which left me no choice but to take Bryce Young. Here’s hoping that #1 overall NFL draft pedigree accounts for something!

By the time I selected with my second pick in the first round, I sadly missed out on re-acquiring D.K. Metcalf, who went two picks earlier. I also missed out on Joe Mixon, C.J. Stroud, Calvin Ridley, and Daniel Jones. So, I made my pick, and I made it Kirk Cousins.

He was already on my radar as a potential pick at #4, because I’ve got Fields and Love, so why not have a little leeway in case of injuries or ineffectiveness? Now, I get to have both my cake and eating it too! I get my rookie lottery ticket, AND I get the veteran who’s mostly good, but occasionally terrible when you least can afford it. I’m not saying I love having Cousins on my team; I’m just saying he should be better than Young and Love, at least in the early going.

I’M FIELDING A FANTASY TEAM WITH TWO COMPETENT QUARTERBACKS IF IT FUCKING KILLS ME!

The second round went pretty well for me: JSN, Sam Howell, and Isiah Pacheco with the top three. I had pretty much my pick of the rookie receivers, and opted to go with the guy from the Vikings, Jordan Addison. I would’ve taken him even if I didn’t have Cousins, but I love having them both, for obvious Double Touchdown reasons! The rest of the second round went Miles Sanders, James Cook, Dotson, Mac Jones, and Mike Williams before I selected again. I would’ve only wanted Dotson, or MAYBE Cook, out of that group. I’ve had Mac Jones for the last couple seasons, and good riddance!

With my second pick in the second round, I got to FINALLY draft Scary Terry McLaurin! I’ve wanted him since he was a rookie, but he was snagged out from under me. Having him fall to me couldn’t have gone better; I’m very happy with my receiver depth now!

Finally, the third round went like this: Dalton Kincaid, Christian Kirk, and Aiyuk. That left me with Dalvin Cook as my final draft pick of the evening. I don’t love him as a long-term prospect, but early on he should get the bulk of the carries as Hall returns from his injury. Cook is also insurance against Alexander Mattison, in the event a starter’s load doesn’t suit him well. As long as Cook stays healthy, Aaron Rodgers is going to want him in there, and that offense should have enough meat on the bone for all their stars, including Cook for an occasional TD. Who’s to say Cook couldn’t be the Ezekiel Elliott in this offense, vulturing touchdowns left and right?!

For Week 1, I’m starting Fields & Cousins, Lamb & Watson, Walker & Pollard, Hockenson & Cook (though, I may put McLaurin in there as a last-minute replacement, if it looks like he’s fully healthy, because that Arizona defense looks like straight garbage).

We’ll see how it all goes! I’ll be on here every week lamenting my losses and celebrating my victories.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: Anthony Richardson vs. Bryce Young vs. ???

Our draft in my dynasty league is this Friday, September 1st, and so much is hinging on what happens in these five rounds. Rookies, players left over from last year; playing for this year while keeping an eye towards the future. It’s a lot to grapple with!

For those unaware of how this league operates, I ask you, why are you reading this? You don’t want to hear about my fantasy team! Nobody wants to hear about anyone’s fantasy team! But, if you’re interested in continuing, here’s the jist: this is a 2-QB PPR league with adjusted scoring to make quarterbacks more important (6-point TDs, 1 point per 20 yards passing, -4 points for INTs). Every team keeps 10 players, one per position, with one regular flex. Here’s the roster I kept:

  • Justin Fields (QB)
  • Jordan Love (QB)
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR)
  • Christian Watson (WR)
  • Tony Pollard (RB)
  • Kenneth Walker (RB)
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE)
  • Alexander Mattison (RB)
  • Evan McPherson (K)
  • N.Y. Jets (DEF)

I had one decision to agonize over, and that was leaving D.K. Metcalf off of my team. For starters, he was a prior trade acquisition of mine, so part of me feels like I gave up a lot to get him, and then threw him away for nothing. Granted, I don’t remember what it cost to bring him to my team, but I remember it being somewhat significant. It more or less came down to Metcalf vs. Watson. I was committed to keeping three running backs, especially when Dalvin Cook was released by the Vikings and Mattison was there to pick up all those extra snaps. Now, Mattison might be mediocre, and he might get hurt or eventually lose his starting job. But, I couldn’t resist keeping a bona fide lead running back in a high-powered offense.

The Watson vs. Metcalf debate might haunt me all season long, though. My rationale for only keeping two receivers is simple: you can always find a quality receiver late in the draft or in free agency during the season. It’s how I got Watson in the first place. I like Watson’s upside as the #1 receiver with relatively little competition from any other Packer; whereas Metcalf has to contend with Lockett and Smith-Njigba and a quarterback who likes to spread the ball around. The obvious downside is the fact that Metcalf is a proven 1,000-yard receiver, who’s going to get the lion’s share of attention in red zone situations (and, not for nothing, but he’s also got big play abilities to score from anywhere on the field). Watson is a second year player, catching balls from a quarterback in his first year as the starter. He could be a total bust! But, the big plays he was making, and his pedigree out of the draft last year, made him intriguing. You don’t win fantasy football leagues on intriguing players, I get that. But, ultimately, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have both Love and Watson on my team. Double touchdowns!

In lesser decision-making news, I decided to keep Love over both Stafford (old, injured last year, on a terrible team) and Mac Jones (might be good for a bounce-back under better offensive coaching, but I’ll have to see it to believe it), going for upside.

As has been the case for the last half-decade, if not longer, Quarterback is my weakest position. In a league where quarterbacks are – again – the most important position. The difference here is that I feel like I finally have someone viable in Justin Fields. If he stays healthy, he’s a strong bet to turn into a Jalen Hurts type. If that’s the case, with the rest of my team looking pretty strong, that means I need to focus on the second quarterback spot.

I’m drafting fourth this year. I also have extra picks in the first two rounds (in a deal made last season), while having given up my picks in the final two rounds. So, every team drafts their bench, essentially. Five rounds for five spots (or, in my case, three rounds for five spots).

I have it on reasonably-good authority that both Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs will be selected ahead of me. These could be lies, of course. Competitors gaining an edge by throwing me off the scent. But, I know for a fact that one of the teams has two loaded quarterbacks and has no need to take another rookie. So, even if the other guy goes rogue and both Anthony Richardson and Bryce Young are gone by the time I select, then I have no problem whatsoever grabbing Gibbs and further bolstering my running back stable.

Based on the information I have, and knowing who the #3 pick has at quarterback heading into the draft (Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr), I am reasonably sure he’s 1,000% taking a quarterback.

There’s one interesting wrinkle to this debate, and that’s the fact that Kirk Cousins is available as well. Of the quarterbacks not kept by teams from last year, the top holdovers are Cousins, Stafford, Daniel Jones, Sam Howell, and then the likes of Jimmy G, Ryan Tannehill, Baker Mayfield, Mac Jones, and Desmond Ridder. So, the quality is falling FAST. If #3 is looking to play for this year, and wants a safe, pro-ready option to gobble a lot of points, he could very well roll with Cousins and take his chances. If you believe Aaron Rodgers is destined for a bounce-back, on a new team, with a familiar coordinator, and a stable of studs at the skill positions around him, then you could do a lot worse choosing between Carr and Cousins every week based on matchups. I like the rest of #3’s team, so he could definitely make that work and ride it into the playoffs.

My take on this year’s rookies is pretty well set in my mind. For fantasy purposes, I think Anthony Richardson is the clear top dog. I think Bryce Young is the safest bet, even though he’s too short and doesn’t run and has no weapons and a suspect O-Line (for what it’s worth, I think they all have suspect O-Lines). And I think C.J. Stroud is the worst of the three, in the worst situation (even worse weapons, with a first time head coach who might be bad at the job, in an organization that has no idea what it’s doing). I was never taking C.J. Stroud, even if the other two guys were taken ahead of me; he’s off all my draft boards (so, knowing me, maybe bet the farm on Stroud being a Hall of Famer when it’s all said and done).

They all have drawbacks, of course. I think the hype train is a little too inflated for Richardson. He’s getting A LOT of Josh Allen comparisons. But, Josh Allens don’t grow on trees! He’s kind of a unicorn. Most quarterbacks don’t improve their completion percentages that significantly from the college to the pros. With Richardson, obviously he’s projected to be a points hog because he runs so well. And now it appears the Colts won’t have any competition for him, if they ultimately trade Jonathan Taylor (or he holds out). But, the downside is, his value is mitigated if he can’t also throw for touchdowns, or worse, if he throws a lot of interceptions (the -4 for INTs is the great equalizer in our league, and should be standard for all fantasy football leagues). Also, on a personal level, do I really want both Fields and Richardson? Two guys who run a lot, can’t throw, and are one big hit away from sinking my season?

If I were to talk myself into Bryce Young, I’d talk about his leadership, his poise, his intangibles. He’s also very accurate and he’s a winner. There’s a reason why he was the #1 pick in the NFL. Young really bridges the gap for me when it comes to being ready THIS season. Richardson might have more upside, and a higher longterm outlook for fantasy purposes. But, if I want to win THIS year? Young might be the better way to go.

My second pick in the first round isn’t until the very end, at number 10. I highly doubt Cousins will be there for me in this scenario. But, I don’t want to throw all my eggs in the Cousins basket for this year at pick 4, because he’s 35 years old, he’s on the final year of his deal, and I have no idea where he’ll be going forward. Also, it’s never fun to have to rely on Cousins; he takes a dump at the most inopportune times!

Once I have my quarterback locked in at 4, I need to scramble and get a receiver at 10. Because if I wait until the second round, it might be too late. My secret hope is that D.K. Metcalf is still there at 10, but that might be a longshot. How confident am I in Calvin Ridley? Yeesh. That’s either going to work out spectacularly or blow up in my face. I’ve always wanted Scary Terry McLaurin, and he’s out there again for me!

Of the rookie receivers, I dunno. JSN is probably the most talented, but not in a situation to showcase his talents. Do I want to trust a receiver for the Ravens? Or the third receiver on the Chargers? Or the #2 to Justin Jefferson’s #1? I wouldn’t mind terribly seeing who’s left over of those four, and taking that guy in the second round.

Then, it’s just Best Player Available. Don’t have to worry about kickers. I could always look into keeping a second defense, though I like the Jets a lot and they don’t have a BYE until Week 7. We’ll see. A lot riding on this one! I’ve been in rebuild mode for the last 3-4 years; now it’s time to see if I can take that next step.

Is Geno Smith A Top 10 Quarterback In 2023?

There’s a lot of Top 10 lists being thrown around nowadays when it comes to the NFL. You know, it’s still pre pre-season, most of the important free agents have signed with teams, and there just isn’t much going on. The calm before the storm, if you will.

So, to get everyone all riled up, media outlets create fake outrage (in the absence of legitimate outrage, which will surely be coming, if it isn’t already here – NFL running backs being underpaid and whatnot) to get everyone talking about football. It’s how we keep the NFL on the front of everyone’s mind 24/7/365.

They’ve been doing this series of Top 10 lists by position group, and save D.K. Metcalf (I think), the Seahawks can’t seem to buy any representation. Hell, even Pete Carroll can’t get a Top 10 nod, being ranked behind the likes of Brian Daboll, Kyle Shanahan, among other coaches who don’t have the resume Pete has. Other than PFF being responsible for that head coach list, I don’t really know where these are coming from. Is it ESPN? NFL.com? Other? I don’t really care.

Other than the head coaching thing, I kind of understand why the Seahawks aren’t among the Top 10 in anything. Outside of D.K., who is our biggest star? I would argue our very best players are so young, they haven’t had a chance to really prove themselves. There’s a variety of rookies from the last couple drafts (including 2023) who I believe will turn into studs, if they aren’t there already. So, you know what? Disrespect them now! Put another chip on their shoulders! I read on Twitter that the Seahawks were iced out of the top 32 in NFL offensive tackles; great! Stupendous! Charles Cross and Abe Lucas see that, and they’re coming for you!

But, if anyone might have a gripe, I think it’s Geno Smith. I think he might be a Top 10 quarterback, and he’s being summarily dismissed once again in the eyes of the know-it-all pundits.

Not all of them. There are always contrarians out there willing to go to bat for Geno. But, it’s weird just the same.

We’re not making a case for All Time Top 10. We’re just talking about the Top 10 quarterbacks heading into 2023. It’s a prediction, based on last year’s production, and what you think is possible for this year.

The usual suspects round out the very top of this list: Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert. On the next tier down, I think you can make an argument for Lamar Jackson, Kirk Cousins, Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, Jared Goff, Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, and even Aaron Rodgers; they all have flaws, but I think they have to be in the conversation just the same.

And I would put Geno Smith squarely in that group in the second tier.

So, we’re locking in the Top 5, in some order: Mahomes, Burrow, Allen, Hurts, Herbert. What about the next five?

Well, I think you have to consider the very real injury risks coming with the likes of Tua, Dak, Lamar, and Stafford. Stafford’s arm is about to fall off, plus the talent around him is depleted. Even if he plays in 2023, I don’t think he’ll be better than Geno. When you take away the Dak injury, he was still wildly inconsistent, and good for at least a mistake a game that might cost ’em. At this point, the bloom is off the rose and I don’t think I would rank him over Geno. Lamar, as a running quarterback, is taking a massive amount of hits over the average pocket passer or scrambler. He isn’t the smartest about avoiding contact, and frankly he’s not the passer that Geno is. Other than Mark Andrews, who is he throwing to? Now that he’s been given the massive contract he was looking for, will he be as motivated? I have a lot of doubts about Lamar, most of all: is he a winner? In the regular season, sure, but I think I’d rather have Geno in a playoff game, all things considered. And, we all know what’s going on with Tua. He’s legit elite in that offense, and could be a Top 5 QB when healthy. But, one more big hit to the head might end his career. No thanks.

Aaron Rodgers is an interesting case here. He definitely wasn’t a Top 10 quarterback in 2022; he was legitimately bad! A lot of that, I’m sure, had to do with the loss of Davante Adams, though it’s concerning because great QBs are supposed to elevate the talent around them. I just think A-Rod was done with Green Bay prior to last season, but they couldn’t move him for a variety of reasons, so they had to eat a sub-par year out of him before sending him on his way. Rodgers has elite receivers in New York. Presumably, the O-Line will be fine, though they might also be terrible (which would worry me). More than anything, I wonder if his heart is in it anymore. He’s getting up there. He’s got a world of interests outside of football. He spent a significant portion of this offseason contemplating whether or not he would play again. And, everyone is already crowning the Jets as the next Super Team, which is always cause for concern. BUT, on the flipside, everyone is already counting Rodgers out. There’s a significant portion of the talking heads out there who are dismissing the Jets for all the reasons I just mentioned. And people are taking every opportunity to clown on Rodgers for his … everything (personality, beliefs, political leanings, etc.). In that respect, part of me wonders if he goes Scorched Earth on the NFL for one more year. I mean, he was just the MVP back-to-back years in 2021 and 2022, so you can’t entirely rule him out.

As for Cousins and Goff, I think there’s enough of a sample for both of them to see where they’re lacking. They play up against the bad teams, but don’t always show up against the good ones. There’s enough mistakes in their game to make them total wild cards on any given week. And, with Trevor Lawrence, last year was really his first with any sort of coaching competence around him. And, in spite of that, Geno still out-performed him in most every major category.

This isn’t to say I think Geno Smith is perfect, or even the best option of all of these Tier 2 guys. He has his own mistake issues. He’ll throw a back-breaking interception, drop a killer fumble, or allow defensive pressure to get the best of him. And he also only has the one season of quality play.

But, Geno was Top 10 in total yards (8th, with 4,282), was 4th in passer rating among quarterbacks who played in at least 13 games, he led the league in completion percentage among qualified passers, he averaged 7.5 yards per attempt (7th in football among QBs who played in at least 13 games), and was one of only 8 quarterbacks who played in all 17 games. He also had the 4th most touchdown passes with 30.

I think in aggregate – based on all of the above – you have to put Geno in the Top 10. That doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to be there at season’s end. But, knowing what we know now, about him and the rest of the league, when you factor in his ability, the talent and coaching around him, I would put him in the Top 10, and I’m as much of a doubter as anyone.