Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Tua Be Or Not Tua Be, That Is The Question

For the first time all year, I actually got moderately-competent quarterback play from BOTH of my quarterbacks! A combined almost-58 points? If I’d been getting that every week, I daresay I’d have a much better win/loss record than I do now! Of course, I refuse to go back and double-check that math, because what could possibly be more of a waste of time? I mean, I’m already playing fantasy football; you can’t get much more time-wastey than that!

With that Thursday Night Miracle in hand, I’ll admit I was feeling pretty confident about winning this week. My projected points increased tremendously and if the rest of my team played according to how they’ve played all season, it should’ve been in the bag. But, you know me, I’m doomed to suffer. Things never seem to go my way. Close but no cigar and whatnot!

If I wanted to, I could blame the Atlanta Falcons for my loss. I could even blame Todd Gurley specifically! If he’d done what he should have done, they would’ve run out the clock and won their football game. Instead, he had to score a meaningless touchdown and that allowed the Lions to drive down and take the lead with a touchdown of their own to win the game. Which – thanks to my opponent having both the Lions’ quarterback and the tight end he threw that touchdown to – gave him just enough points to win his matchup against me, 165.05 to 156.40. Take away just the 12 points he got for the touchdown (6 for his quarterback, 6 for his tight end), and that’s a win for Nobody Beats The Wiz.

I could blame my misfortune on my running back keepers being totally worthless. Josh Jacobs and Ezekiel Elliott combined for 12.2 points when they were projected for a combined 35.63. I could blame my misfortune on the fantasy gods tearing Odell Beckham’s ACL in the first quarter of that Browns game where they racked up 37 points (surely some of those catches and/or touchdowns would’ve gone to their #1 receiver). Even if I’d had the gumption to stick with my three-headed running back hydra (CEH scored an improbable 13.3 points which seemed more flukey than a sign of things to come in that offense), the allure of playing ODB against the Bengals would’ve forced me to sit Deebo Samuel, who had 12.2 points of his own that I would’ve desperately needed to win this game.

The point is, there wasn’t much I could’ve done. If I would’ve played strictly by the projected points, I would’ve lost. Instead, I went by my gut and I lost. There was one combination of players that would’ve worked, and the odds of me figuring that out ahead of time was pretty minimal. This is the way.

I will say it wasn’t all doom and gloom. A.J. Brown had a monster game against the Steelers, getting me 27.3 points. The Rams’ defense was a great pickup, scoring 27 against the Bears on Monday Night. My kicker had his best game of the season, getting me 13 points.

Interesting waiver wire news: late last week, Beasts picked up Antonio Brown, who is headed to Tampa to play for the Bucs. Beasts, at the time, had four high-functioning quarterbacks, three of which already had their BYE weeks. There’s very little reason for anyone who’s fighting for a playoff spot to carry four quarterbacks on their roster when there are no longer any BYE weeks to work around. So, he ended up dropping his worst quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Who, as chance would have it, would be the second-best quarterback on my team had he been here the whole time. So, I put in a claim for him, dropping the most expendable receiver I had, Darius Slayton (who I would like to get back on my roster, if I’m so fortunate, especially thanks to ODB’s injury).

I also put in a claim for Chase Edmonds, because Arizona’s starting running back just got injured, but thanks to the Cousins claim, my waiver priority dropped down to 10th, so I assumed that was always going to be an impossible longshot. But, somehow, I got him! I guess maybe because Kenyan Drake will only be out for a few weeks, and because Arizona is on BYE this week, no one wanted to waste their waiver status. But still, I should get a couple good games out of Edmonds!

Finally, since I dropped ODB to pick up Edmonds, and since Deebo Samuel is in my IR spot for a bit, I picked up Brandon Aiyuk, also of the 49ers. He’s their impressive-looking rookie wide receiver who seems to be filling that Deebo Samuel-shaped hole in their offense. Since they’re going up against the Seahawks this week, you better believe I’m taking advantage!

The defeat drops me to 3-4 and in 8th place in the league. My opponent for this week is The Lance Petemans, who is 4-3 and in 5th place. He has the third-most total points (to my second-fewest), but he’s closer to the middle-of-the-pack than he is to the top two scoring teams. So, you know, it’s not an impossible task, but it will still likely require his team to underperform for me to beat him. Here’s what I’m looking at going with:

  • Carson Wentz (QB) vs. DAL
  • Tua Tagovailoa (QB) vs. LAR
  • A.J. Brown (WR) @ CIN
  • Brandon Aiyuk (WR) @ SEA
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) @ CLE
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. NYJ
  • Noah Fant (TE) vs. LAC
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ PHI
  • Harrison Butker (K) vs. NYJ
  • Indianapolis (DEF) @ DET

Fuck it, I’m Ride Or Die with Tua. Daniel Jones is a complete non-starter for me going forward until he proves he’s not totally worthless behind that offensive line (he’s especially impossible to start this week going up against that elite Bucs defense). Cousins is enticing, but he’s at Green Bay, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him play a bad game there. I’d hate to miss out on the Tua bandwagon because I “played it safe” with someone infuriating like Cousins. Believe me, I harbor no delusions about what Cousins brings to the table; I had him on my other fantasy team until about a week ago. He’s had a couple good weeks – largely fuelled by Garbage Time points – but he throws WAY too many interceptions, on top of which he’s leading a conservative, run-heavy offense that’s getting Dalvin Cook back this week (I hope, for my other fantasy team’s sake). Tua could stink! We just saw the Rams’ defense have a field day against the Bears. But, I’m hoping that by playing at home, having two weeks to prepare, and being a complete unknown will be enough to shock the world and lead Tua to have a huge game.

Not for nothing, but Daniel Jones’ first start last year saw him score 4 touchdowns (and over 40 fantasy points in our league), so there is precedent for someone coming from out of nowhere to blow away the competition.

I’m more or less stuck playing my full three-headed running back hydra because I have so many wide receiver injuries this week. ODB is out for the year, and Deebo Samuel strained a hamstring in his game last week; he’s already ruled out this week, and maybe next week as well. That’s a tough loss for me, because I have zero confidence in the Dallas offense whatsoever with Andy Dalton at the helm; the fact that I have to start Ezekiel Elliott is bad enough, but there was no way I could also start CeeDee Lamb. My hope is that CEH – against a putrid Jets defense – gets a lot of love in that one, and maybe Jacobs has a bounce-back game against a less-stout Browns defense.

I’m only starting Indy’s defense because I feel there’s a conflict of interest in playing the Rams against my rookie quarterback. I’m hoping the fantasy football gods see the good mojo I’m trying to throw into the world and reward me accordingly.

No significant BYE week luck this week. The Lance Petemans has Gardner Minshew on BYE, but he probably would’ve been benched anyway. Ryan Tannehill is a must-start every week apparently, and Jimmy G is facing the also-putrid Seahawks defense. When you’ve got someone going up against the Seahawks, you have to play them; it’s a new rule they just brought down. Here’s his projected lineup:

  • Ryan Tannehill (QB) @ CIN
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) @ SEA
  • Tyreek Hill (WR) vs. NYJ
  • Calvin Ridley (WR) @ CAR
  • Todd Gurley (RB) @ CAR
  • Melvin Gordon (RB) vs. LAC
  • Rob Gronkowski (TE) @ NYG
  • Miles Sanders (RB) vs. DAL
  • Ryan Succop (K) @ NYG
  • Philadelphia (DEF) vs. DAL

I only have myself to blame for trading him Tyreek Hill last year in an ill-advised deal to get the aging Tom Brady (With No Weapons To Throw To), who is clearly different than this year’s Tom Brady (On The Bucs Who Scores Tons Of Points Every Week). So, look for Hill to score 4 TDs. Calvin Ridley has come on as a real stud, which I honestly didn’t see coming. Tannehill, I should point out again, has been a really dominant force (scoring over 30 points in three of his six games). All of his running backs are great, with juicy matchups. He’s probably weakest on defense, and even then there’s a lot to like, because I think even Andy Dalton is hurt and the Cowboys are going with a much less-touted rookie who will probably be overwhelmed.

I don’t see a clear path to victory this week, unless I get lucky with a lot of my opponent’s guys underperforming. We’ll see, though. I don’t totally hate my matchups this week, for whatever that’s worth (it’s probably worth my team scoring the fewest points it has all year).

The Seahawks Drafted Seven Other Guys Besides Jordyn Brooks

Did you read my uninformed take on the Seahawks’ first round draft pick last week? Well, stick around for my uninformed takes on the rest of these guys I’ve never heard of!

Here’s the full list:

  • First Round – Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Second Round – Darrell Taylor (DE)
  • Third Round – Damien Lewis (G)
  • Fourth Round – Colby Parkinson (TE)
  • Fourth Round – DeeJay Dallas (RB)
  • Fifth Round – Alton Robinson (DE)
  • Sixth Round – Freddie Swain (WR)
  • Seventh Round – Stephen Sullivan (TE)

The Seahawks had a lot of holes to fill on an underperforming defense, so OF COURSE they spent 5 of their 8 draft picks (including trading away a pick in 2021 just to jump back into the seventh round this year) on the offense! And yet, honestly? I don’t think I can fault their logic here.

The last couple of Seahawks drafts felt like we were bolstering our depth. They made 20 picks in 2018 & 2019, at a period in this franchise’s history where depth was at its thinnest. Properly replenished, it’s now time to start taking some chances on drafting starters and stars again. And, I get the feeling here – more than I have in recent seasons – that the Seahawks are going to give these guys every opportunity to win jobs very soon.

Brooks, we’ve discussed. No one believes he’s muscling Bobby Wagner out of his job anytime soon, but clearly K.J. Wright is on notice. No one would be shocked if he gets cut before the season, but regardless 2020 is a mortal lock to be Wright’s last year in a Seahawks uniform.

I’m going to lump Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson together here, because they’re essentially the same guy from a body-type point of view (6’4, 267; 6’3, 264 respectively) and both figure to vie for the LEO defensive end spot. I mean, yeah, IDEALLY both of these guys are future Hall of Famers; but realistically, the Seahawks are hoping for one of these guys to pan out as a respectable starter for the next however many years. Taken in context with who the Seahawks have on the roster right now, their direct competition appears to be Benson Mayowa (the entrenched starter at the moment) and Bruce Irvin (who will play SAM linebacker and shift to defensive end on passing downs), neither of whom are longterm options for this team. So, there’s your 2020 rotation for the LEO end spot; both of these rookies will get a chance to compete and it’s just a matter of staying healthy and learning the defense.

Damien Lewis might have the clearest path to starting for this team (especially with the moves the Seahawks made last night, which I’ll get to later in the week). He’s a right guard, so right away there’s no confusion about where he’s going to stick. He’s not a guard/center, or a right tackle that projects as a guard; he’s just a fucking GUARD! Isn’t that wonderful? To boot, he was the second guard taken in the entire draft! That (and the fact that Tom Cable is nowhere near this decision) should tell you everything you need to know: Lewis is almost certainly ready to start from Day 1. He played for National Champion LSU, on the college world’s greatest offensive line, and has played a signifiant number of games from junior college through his two years with the Tigers, so this isn’t some project who needs seasoning to learn the game. He’s a powerful run blocker – obviously a trait the Seahawks appreciate more than most NFL teams – and his pass protection numbers aren’t bad at all. At this point, it would be an upset (and deeply upsetting) if he didn’t start as a rookie.

I’m not going to lump the two listed tight ends for reasons I’ll talk about later, so for now let’s discuss the unfortunately-named Colby Parkinson. He’s a 6’7, 251-pound pass-catching tight end out of Stanford. This is an interesting pick for a variety of reasons. The Seahawks are clearly a power-rushing offense that likes to take deep shots down field. The tight ends who work best in this offense are the heavy, run-blocking bulldozers who are able to take advantage over slower linebackers in the passing game. Yet, the Seahawks seem to have a perpetual hard-on for these elite pass-catchers in the Jimmy Graham mold, of which Parkinson would seem to emulate.

Here’s the deal: how great would it be to have the next Gronk, or George Kittle, or Travis Kelce? Who WOULDN’T want a big, tall guy who plays like a receiver, but can also blow you up like an offensive lineman? Who WOULDN’T want the type of offensive mismatch who is too fast to be covered by a mortal linebacker, but is also too big and overpowering for any cornerback or safety you try to throw his way? But, these guys are rarer than a unicorn steak on top of a bed of four-leaf clovers with a side-order of dodo egg stew! More often than not, you pick a guy with an obvious flaw and hope they’re able to develop it sooner rather than later. So, which is a better starting-off point to come from when trying to reverse-engineer one of these studs? The quality blocking tight end with stone hands, or the pass-catching phenom who blocks like a matador’s cape?

Fun fact: a matador’s cape is called a muleta! Seattle Sports Hell: come for the half-assed sports commentary, stay for the half-assed dictionary lesson!

I’m kind of on the side of thinking that it’s better to have the guy who knows how to block well and have him develop the ability to catch, because blocking seems like more of a “want-to” attitude, and if you have a good-enough quarterback, he should be able to throw catchable balls to a tall guy in traffic. But, clearly the Seahawks are hoping this way works as well. We’ll see. I’ll say this much: drafting a guy and teaching him how to block is WAY more preferable to trading for a guy (Jimmy Graham) after he’s an established offensive star in the league and just hoping he’ll stop crumpling into a paper ball at the first sight of contact.

I can’t say my hopes are super high on Parkinson, but at the same time – getting back to my original point, what feels like thousands of words ago – look at his competition. Greg Olsen, Luke Willson, and Jacob Hollister are all on 1-year deals; while Olsen isn’t going anywhere, nothing is guaranteed to the other two. All Parkinson has to do is beat a couple of dime-a-dozen guys and he’s locked in behind Olsen and Dissly (when he’s healthy). If he manages that simple feat, he’ll figure pretty prominently in any red zone situation. AND, if he does develop into even a passable blocker, he could be a fantasy god for years to come!

Boy, do I love a guy who spells out his name DeeJay! DeeJay Dallas is such a perfect running back name, I can’t even stand it. Also, if you think I’m not calling him DeeJ, you’re crazy!

So, DeeJ is kind of on the bigger, slower side, but that slow stuff is more about how he tests; his game speed appears to be fine. He’s a converted wide receiver, which makes him an ideal candidate to play on third downs, and he also apparently has kick returning experience. So, this jack of all trades looks like a lock to make the team, with a high probability of seeing significant playing time behind Chris Carson. Is he a future starter for this team? I guess we’ll find out, but he’s got a lot going for him to get his foot in the door, which is all you can ask for. Plus, considering the Seahawks’ poor track record of drafting guys in the fourth round, I don’t mind them going with a running back so early. Unless he’s simply incapable of finding a hole to run through, this feels like a can’t-miss, with some obvious high upside because it’s the running back position: as long as the O-Line is doing its job, anyone should be good here!

Finally, let’s lump in the last two guys: receiver Freddie Swain and tight end/receiver Stephen Sullivan. Sullivan is 6’5 and was a tight end in college, but the Seahawks are listing him as a receiver, which is all you need to know: slow, tall receiver. After all that talk about Parkinson, you’d think I’d be alarmed about Sullivan’s blocking skills, or lack thereof. But, the Seahawks ask a lot out of their receivers in blocking, so if he can’t at least manhandle some cornerbacks, I don’t think there’s much hope for him to stick here. The good news is: he’s a seventh round pick. You’d think we could stash him on the practice squad and let him do nothing but learn for a year. This guy is the epitome of a capital-p Project; best case scenario is – in a year or two – he’s starting opposite D.K. Metcalf in a potent offense full of huge pass-catchers during many multiple MVP seasons by Russell Wilson.

The real interesting guy is Freddie Swain, who is a prototypical slot receiver. Unless the Seahawks go out and sign another free agent, it’s pretty safe to say the top four receivers are Lockett, Metcalf, Dorsett, and David Moore. John Ursua looks to have a leg up as another slot guy for this team, but there’s a pretty clear path for Swain to be a fifth or sixth receiver on this team (especially if he can add anything on special teams). There’s also a chance for Malik Turner to rejoin the team, who will be nice as competition fodder. Bottom line is – between Swain and Ursua – we should be pretty set at slot receiver (especially when you figure Lockett is more than comfortable there as well).

My initial impression is: I like Lewis an awful lot to start right away. But, I think there’s more higher-upside guys in this draft class than in any year since maybe 2012! Now, obviously, the guys still have to pan out – which is FAR from a guarantee – but if we manage to hit on even half of these guys (particularly one of the defensive ends), the Seahawks should be in good shape for a while.

The Seahawks Continued To Shore Up Depth By Signing Phillip Dorsett

I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited about the Seahawks’ free agency period. 2013 sounds like such a sucker answer, but it might be true!

The old adage, of course, is you build your NFL team through the draft, and you use free agency and the like to fill in any cracks. And, for a while, the Seahawks were the model of efficiency in that department. But, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to continue to hit with the success rate that the Seahawks ran from 2010-2012; indeed, as soon as 2013 we started seeing them fall woefully short in the draft, and therefore needing to rely more and more on crazy trades and trolling the bottoms of the seven seas for washed-up, has-been free agents on their last legs (due in large part to salary cap constraints, thanks to some of those trades, as well as extending our superstar draft picks from 2010-2012).

Through it all, coaching and Russell Wilson have kept this team afloat, as they’ve continued to stretch all they can get out of their salary cap dollars. But, this is the first year since 2013 where the Seahawks have had significant money to spend (and, indeed, there are more moves they can and will make to improve upon that amount), and I’ve never been happier with the results.

I’ve harped on it enough, but we all knew heading into the offseason where the major holes were/are on this team:

  1. Pass Rush/Defensive Line
  2. Offensive Line
  3. Secondary
  4. Offensive Weapons

I would say the Seahawks have had a nice START to filling out the #1 priority, but obviously there are a lot of things that can happen in that arena between now and the start of Training Camp. Multiple holes opened up on a pretty solid offensive line, thanks to injuries and free agency; and I’d say the Seahawks did the best they could with the resources they had available, to shore that up and at least maintain the level of consistency we’ve seen in 2018 & 2019. I would argue there isn’t a ton the Seahawks could do with the secondary, but the trade for a potentially-elite cornerback has to sit pretty well for most Seahawks fans. As for the offensive weapons, we’ve seen minor deals for tight ends – Greg Olsen, Luke Willson, and Jacob Hollister – but nothing in the receiver market.

Until yesterday, when it was announced Phillip Dorsett was signed to a 1-year deal.

Dorsett was a first round pick by Indy in 2015, and has largely been considered to be a disappointment. To that, I would say Andrew Luck missed half his games as a rookie with various injuries; Dorsett had a better 2016, but of course played second-fiddle to T.Y. Hilton. He was then traded to the Patriots for Jacoby Brissett. In 2017, he was way down the depth chart (behind Brandin Cooks, Gronk, and their bevy of running back targets), and in 2018 he was behind James White, Gronk, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and others. He finally got a shot in 2019, but still was way behind Edelman and White.

Plus, let’s face it, the Patriots’ passing game was atrocious last year. Tom Brady’s arm has about had it, their offensive line frequently forced him to rush his throws, and in all honesty Brady over the last few years has been CONSTANTLY looking for the check-down pass as a means to avoid being hit. Yeah yeah yeah, Brady’s the G.O.A.T. or whatever, but I don’t blame Dorsett for Dorsett not breaking out in that offense. Brady is a My Way or The Highway kind of guy at this point in his career; he’s not making the receivers around him better, he’s demanding you get on his wavelength, or he’ll find someone else who does.

Russell Wilson, by contrast, is smack-dab in the prime of his career. He’s the best deep-ball passer in football. Dorsett is entering a situation with one of the three best QBs in football, where he doesn’t HAVE to prop up a shaky offense. There are other weapons! Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are the top two receivers on this team; they will continue to be that for the foreseeable future. On top of which, the Seahawks are one of the more-balanced teams in football; we’re not throwing the ball 40 or 50 times a game. Dorsett, in all likelihood, won’t see much more than 50 or 60 targets in 2020; but I can damn near guarantee he’ll put up better numbers than he ever has.

He’s fast, he’s being put alongside two other very fast guys in Lockett and Metcalf, which means he’ll see primarily single-coverage from defenses. I don’t know about his leaping, or his ability to go up and high-point a football, but I like his chances in any one-on-one situation, especially since he almost certainly won’t have to face the opposing team’s best, shutdown cornerback. Regardless, if he can run fast, Wilson shouldn’t over-throw him very often. I expect a high yards-per-catch average, and I expect him to grab anywhere from 6-10 touchdowns, probably somewhere around 500 yards or so.

Bottom line is he’ll be better than Jaron Brown, David Moore, and anyone else who’s been on this team in recent years as this team’s #3.

This is the sort of depth I’m talking about. Dorsett was never going to succeed in that Pats offense last year as their designated #2; but he will THRIVE as the Seahawks’ #3. And, with that success, it wouldn’t shock me to see him revive his career moving forward.

I have to imagine it was hard for him on the Pats. So much of football – especially the skill positions – is about confidence. Guys always talk a big game, but they also need to be put in spots to succeed, and I don’t think that was ever going to happen in New England, not even with Brady. But, it certainly CAN happen here.

A+ signing in my book. Most importantly, the Seahawks don’t necessarily have to worry about drafting a receiver now. Frankly, I don’t think the Seahawks need to draft anyone on the offensive side of the ball, period, except maybe a running back in the later rounds. That makes this year’s free agency period particularly exciting for me. While I’m sure the Seahawks will be pretty defense-heavy in the draft, they’re also more-or-less free to simply draft the Best Player Available.

If that BPA just so happened to be a quality offensive tackle who could learn under Duane Brown for the next couple years, all the better, but that’s neither here nor there.

A Flip Of A Coin Decided The Seahawks Vs. Bucs Game

I mean, let’s be real here. The Seahawks’ defense wasn’t going to stop anything the Bucs threw at them. If they’d won the overtime coin flip, they would’ve marched right down the field and scored a touchdown, and we’d all be bitching and moaning about how Russell Wilson never got a chance to touch the ball in overtime. There’d be the side that just wants to watch good QBs get a chance to be clutch in the extra period, and there’d be the other side that would (correctly) argue that a defense should be able to keep the other team out of the endzone for a chance to deserve a possession in this scenario.

Funny how I haven’t heard too many arguments from the national media lamenting the fact that Jameis Winston never got a chance to touch the ball in overtime. Because that guy’s trash, but much like Matt Schaub the week before, we made him look like a flippin’ genius!

Winston threw for 335 yards and 2 TDs and it could’ve been even better, had that receiver not run himself out of bounds in the back of the endzone in the second half. I don’t know how he managed to do that, but it was a gift to the Seahawks and I’ll cherish it always. To be fair, Winston did have a Dave Krieg Special with his fumble (where he went to throw it, but the ball squirted backwards out of his hand), and should’ve had a pick in the endzone in the first half, but it weirdly bounced into a different receiver’s outstretched arms for a touchdown. I was waiting all day for a truly terrible decision, but it never came. Winston played well. But, he also didn’t really need to work all that hard, because his receivers were open all day.

Mike Evans should have games like this every week; I don’t understand why he isn’t the most dominant player in the NFL. I was on him (for fantasy purposes) since his rookie season; he’s truly great. In this one, he caught 12 balls for 180 yards and a touchdown. We just couldn’t cover him. Even the one time Shaquill Griffin made a seemingly great play on a ball towards his side, Evans just snatched it away and ran down field like Griffin wasn’t even there! Evans is a total stud who deserves a better quarterback like nobody’s business.

Yet, you could argue (especially since the Seahawks ended up winning) that Evans was outplayed by Tyler Lockett, who caught 13 for 152 and 2 TDs. This game went almost exactly as I predicted, with both passing attacks just FEASTING on some trash secondaries. Over 51.5 points was the easiest bet on the board all day, and I hope Vegas took a beating over that one. I don’t know who was in charge there, but that dude should be fired.

***

Anyway, for as happy as I was about Lockett, I think this was a really important turning point for D.K. Metcalf. His numbers weren’t as eye-popping (6 for 123 and a TD is nothing to sneeze at, though), but this is more of a Smell Test game for him, and he passed with flying colors. For starters, that crosser he took 53 yards to the house was a thing of beauty; it was – dare I say it – Julio Jones-esque!

But, even better was his catch in overtime. 3rd & 6 from the Tampa 35 yard line. We were clearly NOT in field goal range (more on that in a bit) and everything about this screamed 4-Down Territory. I don’t think you throw a deep back-shoulder fade like this without knowing that you’re DEFINITELY going for it on fourth down. We might never know the answer, but it didn’t matter, because Metcalf made a phenomenal play on the ball and managed to land in bounds to pretty much seal the victory. This came on the same day where he got pushed out of bounds without getting his second foot down to kill a drive and you couldn’t help thinking that was a rookie mistake in a rookie season chock full of rookie mistakes.

This was easily Metcalf’s best game as a pro, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. For starters, it came in the same week the Seahawks claimed Josh Gordon, who from a talent perspective feels like an older version of Metcalf (I’ll do a full write-up on the Gordon deal later this week). But, while Metcalf has always been featured pretty heavily as this team’s #2 receiver, it’s been very spotty. Heading into this one, he’d only caught 23 of his 45 targets, and you had to wonder if the pre-draft haters were at least a little on the nose with him. Granted, a lot of the balls thrown to him are 50/50 balls with a guy all over him, but he’s 6’4, 229 pounds, that’s what he’s here for is to catch the majority of those deep 1-on-1 passes. Well, I’ll be interested to see how the rest of his season shakes out from here, because that catch in overtime was the biggest of his career to date. Regardless, the more times he comes up big in big moments, the better it should prove to be for his career in Seattle. I thought there was a better-than-decent chance that D.K. Metcalf could turn into a superstar when the Seahawks drafted him (his size, his raw talent, the fact that he dropped so far in the draft and the resultant chip on his shoulder, and the nature of this offense being one very suited for his skillset), and given his season to date (29 catches, 525 yards, 5 touchdowns) I think we’re well on our way. Paired with Lockett, we could be talking about two of the very best receivers in all of football in a couple years.

***

All those words and we haven’t talked about the other breakout player from this one: Jacob Hollister! What an absolutely fascinating career he’s had to date. He was originally a quarterback in high school, and was Oregon’s 5A player of the year. He was set to go to college in Nevada, but ended up transferring both schools and his position to tight end.

He went undrafted, but signed on with the Patriots as a rookie in 2017 and played the full season as the team’s third tight end. Feels like the perfect situation, right? He was injured for much of 2018 and had to be placed on IR. But, you had to figure, with Gronk retiring after last season, this would’ve been his time to move up the depth chart.

Instead, the Patriots traded him to the Seahawks for a 2020 7th round pick, which at this point looks like the steal of the century. Bill Belichick doesn’t get fleeced like this! He’s the one doing the fleecing!

Yet, Seahawks fans had to wonder heading into this season, as Hollister found himself on the Practice Squad, behind the likes of Will Dissly, Nick Vannett, George Fant, Luke Willson, and eventually Ed Dickson when he returns from IR. I’m honestly – first – surprised that Hollister even qualified for the Practice Squad (I don’t totally understand the rules there, and quite frankly I don’t WANT to understand). Secondly, I’m surprised he wasn’t picked up by another team (you would’ve figured many teams – but particularly Miami or Detroit, who have head coaches familiar with him – would’ve been more than willing to bring in a former Patriots tight end, with their pedigree at finding talent at the position). Maybe he was about to be claimed, because the Seahawks promoted him just ahead of the Cleveland game, which was fortuitous with Dissly getting injured on that very day.

The Seahawks have been undermanned at tight end ever since, as we’ve waited for Ed Dickson to return to game shape (he should be back in the next week or two), with only two true tight ends on the roster in Willson and Hollister (with Fant as the proverbial blocking tight end, who has actually had to fill in more at the regular offensive line spots with injuries to Duane Brown in recent weeks). Willson is a known commodity, but Hollister has been a fascinating player to watch develop over the last few weeks. He didn’t do a whole lot in his first couple of games against Baltimore and Atlanta (combining for 5 receptions and 38 yards), but he exploded in this one with 4 catches, 37 yards, and 2 touchdowns (including the game-winner in overtime). You had to feel great for him as he was hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates during the celebration.

I guess the knock on him is his blocking? I dunno. Anyone’s better than Jimmy Graham, I suppose, so maybe that’s why it hasn’t bugged me too much. Anyway, with Hollister, Willson, and Dickson when he returns, tight end should be a cool position of strength for this team at just the right time. I’m glad the Seahawks didn’t panic and make a deal at the deadline for an O.J. Howard or something, because we wouldn’t have had this great moment.

***

It feels criminal I’ve gone this long without talking about our MVP. Russell Wilson threw for 378 yards (8.8 yards per attempt) and 5 touchdowns against 0 interceptions. That brings his season numbers through 9 games to 2,505 yards, 22 passing touchdowns, and only 1 interception. It’s now just a two-man race between Wilson and Lamar Jackson for the MVP Award, and I think it’ll be neck-and-neck between the two the rest of the way, assuming both teams keep winning and looking impressive on offense.

Wilson generally had all day to throw, which deserves some kudos for the O-Line. They also did their best in the run game (against the best run defense in football) in helping us go 22 for 145 on the ground (including Carson’s 105 yards, much of which came on his manly-man 59 yard run).

You take the good with the bad though, and Carson had two more fumbles in this game (one of which luckily went out of bounds on that 59 yard scamper). He’ll be in the final year of his rookie deal in 2020, and there’s already rumblings that he might hold out or otherwise demand an extension. But, with all of his fumbling issues (on top of his prior injury history), I just don’t see how you can trust him with a big-money contract. Maybe if he plays out his deal, has another big year, and finds a way to fix his fumbling problem, you could consider it. But, right now, I think he’s costing himself millions of dollars every time he puts the ball on the turf, and a smart team would just let him walk and continue to plow resources into the position through the draft.

***

I’ve said all I can say about the offense, so let’s talk about the defense.

That’s 34 points and 418 total yards. The Bucs were 7/15 on 3rd/4th downs. The Seahawks got a couple sacks, which was a couple more than they usually get, and the Bucs only averaged 3.8 yards per carry (“only”). But, I just don’t know. There really isn’t a way to fix this. Our pass rush just gets locked up on every damn passing play. We try to counter by doing stunts, but that just leaves gaping holes for the quarterback to run through for huge gains. We blitz, it gets picked up; we rush four, huge pocket for the QB; we rush three, the other team has all fucking day to throw the ball.

The Bucs were always well-suited to make this one a game though. Elite passing offense, a head coach in Bruce Arians who knows our team very well and has had a lot of success with his Cardinals coming into Seattle and prevailing. And that defensive line – even without Gerald McCoy – is a fucking monster. I always believed in Vita Vea since his days at the University of Washington, but boy is he a load! Husky defensive tackles don’t always pan out in the NFL, but he looks like the best of the bunch so far!

As I said before, I just don’t know, though, when it comes to the Seahawks’ defense. K.J. Wright looks seriously slow and old. The Seahawks need to start working Cody Barton into the scheme more. And, while Bobby Wagner finally got his second sack of the season, he also had one of the dumbest roughing the passer penalties I’ve ever seen. He always likes to get an unnecessary shove in there well after the ball leaves a QB’s hand, and it’s always dumb on his part (regardless of how weak the shove might’ve been; it’s 2019, figure it the fuck out already, the refs are going to protect the quarterback). That one was on third down, which turned a would-be field goal attempt into an eventual touchdown, which was at least a 4-point swing, if not a 7-pointer (had he missed the field goal, which was a distinct possibility).

***

Oh yeah, can’t leave this post without saying something about Jason Myers.

He’s awful.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what you do about it. At least a third of the NFL has issues at the kicker position. It seems like more than ever teams are shuttling kickers in and out every week. But, not every team made the big investment this past offseason like the Seahawks did. Jason Myers is here to stay, at least through his year if not through next year as well. And, again, unless there’s some college kicker who deserves to be selected in the draft, there really isn’t a lot the Seahawks can do. Stephen Hauschka isn’t walking through that door.

Jason Myers just has to get better. He needs to flush this game as soon as humanly possible and get to work on improving his accuracy. The Seahawks are too conservative at the ends of halves to not have a kicker who’s able to make a 40-yarder.

I knew as soon as the Seahawks got into Tampa territory at the end of regulation that they needed to AT LEAST move the ball another 10 yards. Why settle for a 40-yarder when you have the best quarterback in the game going up against one of the worst secondaries in the game? We still had a time out left! Chuck it down inside the red zone and let’s make this automatic! Especially on a day where Myers had struggled so savagely.

Luckily, again, the Seahawks won that overtime coin flip. Because if we hadn’t, this post would’ve been MUCH different.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: We’re Back!

If you want to read back through my 2018 season, click HERE. Follow the links at the top to go back all the way.

This weekly blog post was such a rousing success (and by “success” I mean literally zero people read it) that I absolutely had to run it back. How will it differ? Well, I’m throwing this up on the fly, so we’ll see!

I was in the middle of my great 5-week, cross-country road trip when we drafted on Friday, August 30th, so I was in a motel in Boise when the shit went down. There weren’t too many significant rule changes in our offseason fantasy football meeting, but a major one was an increase from 3 to 4 keepers. As you can see from the link above, I had a pretty good pile of players to choose from. Without belaboring things, here are the four I went with:

  • QB – Carson Wentz
  • RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  • RB – Le’Veon Bell
  • WR – Tyreek Hill

The final spot came down to Hill or Adam Thielen; when it looked like Hill might miss some games to a suspension, I was rolling with Thielen (when Hill was let off the hook, I obviously changed my mind). The fact of the matter is, Hill has the much higher upside. Of course, this was before he got injured in Week 1, causing him to miss a few weeks of the season, so that’s kind of a bummer. Fortunately, it’s only a clavicle injury, so he should be back and ready to rip once the bone heals.

Due to my fourth place finish in the playoffs last year, I ended up drafting 8th overall. It’s a straight draft – as opposed to a snake draft – which means I was picking 8th in every round. With everyone going with four keepers, that’s 40 players off the board before we do anything, so it should be pretty clear the best of the best were gone by the time I selected. My plan going in was to grab Kyler Murray, but he went second overall (after Thielen was taken first), so I had to pivot earlier than I expected. I’ll give you the total rundown, then explain my rationale afterward:

  1. QB – Ben Roethlisberger
  2. RB – Josh Jacobs
  3. WR – T.Y. Hilton
  4. WR – Cooper Kupp
  5. RB – Derrius Guice
  6. WR – Christian Kirk
  7. TE – Vance McDonald
  8. RB – Tony Pollard
  9. K – Justin Tucker
  10. QB – Daniel Jones
  11. DEF – Buffalo

So, if you know anything about our league, you know quarterbacks are vital. It’s a 2-QB league, with TDs worth 6 points (and INT’s worth -4 points), so if you’re not picking quarterbacks high (or keeping them from last year), then you’re not doing it right. I’d already missed out on Lamar Jackson, and lucked out that someone took Jameis Winston, so it came down to Roethlisberger or Rivers for me (though, I may regret letting Dak fall to a rival in the next round).

I had been eyeballing Jacobs for quite some time, and felt fortunate he was still there the next time I picked. There was no debate whatsoever, as plenty of those second-tier RBs were flying off the board. Jacobs should be good right out of the gate, plus he could be a possible keeper in the years to come, should one of my other guys age out.

It got dicey with my third pick, because I’d been salivating over Kenny Golladay all offseason, after it had been announced he was going to be their #1 receiver. The Lions aren’t great, but they like to throw the ball a lot, and Golladay has been looking like a breakout candidate for some time now. He went one pick ahead of me, which left me scrambling. I needed someone to pair with Tyreek Hill, and I had too many running backs already to start filling up my bench with more. In a panic, it came down to Hilton, Tyler Lockett, and Tyler Boyd. I REALLY didn’t want any of these guys, for a variety of reasons. In general, I don’t like having Seahawks on my fantasy roster as a rule; I especially don’t like having Wilson or any receivers, because they can be wildly inconsistent from a fantasy perspective. Boyd is someone I had last year, who was very underwhelming when A.J. Green was out of the lineup and he was thrust into the #1 receiver role (which he would be in the first month or so of the season, with Green’s foot/ankle injury). Hilton is another inconsistent receiver who can be really awesome or get you less than 10 points, with seemingly little in-between. But, the fact of the matter is, I wanted a true #1 receiver to pair with Hill, and even with Luck retired I still like that Indy team. Jacoby Brissett isn’t totally inept, so I rolled the dice with Hilton.

The funny thing is, by the time it got around to my next pick, both Lockett and Boyd were still available! They went with the subsequent two picks after mine. I went with Kupp because I’d heard all the great things about his pre-season and his improved health, plus I just REALLY wanted a piece of that Rams offense, and he was the last viable candidate left on the board. In an ideal world, I’d have Robert Woods back, but he was snagged a few picks before I took Hilton. Kupp isn’t a world-beater, but he’s always good for a chunk of targets, and you never know if/when he’ll have a breakout game/season.

With my next pick, I thought I had something special. I thought I had a potential League Winner. Guice was Washington’s main dude in the draft in 2018 before he got injured and lost his rookie season. With him back in the fold, it felt like only a matter of time before he took over sole possession of the RB1 role on that team. Even if I had to hold onto him for a few weeks before he ascended, it would’ve been worth it.

I took Kirk next because Will Fuller V went a few picks earlier, and I really wanted a piece of that Arizona offense. I took McDonald because there weren’t many good tight ends left, and with AB gone in Pittsburgh, it seemed only natural that he’d see an uptick in targets. I took Pollard as an Elliott handcuff, as he still wasn’t extended by the time we drafted. I took Tucker because kickers are weirdly important in fantasy (even though they should be totally outlawed, and I’ll never stop fighting for this cause, because the variation is too random from week to week) and I wanted a guy I didn’t have to worry about. I took Daniel Jones because I still hadn’t drafted a backup QB. Roethlisberger’s BYE isn’t until week 7, and my hope was that he’d take over the starting job by then (and, if he pans out, he could be a possible keeper candidate for 2020). I took Buffalo because they were on the board, and I’d heard some good things (if nothing else, they were playing the Jets in Week 1, so that felt like a safe way to grab some cheap points).

Before Week 1 started, once everyone on waivers reverted back to free agents, I grabbed A.J. Green and stashed him in my IR slot. If he comes back in October, that could be a real boon. I wouldn’t expect him to play the rest of the season upon his return, but if he can get me a few big weeks, that should be something.

My team’s name is Space Pirates! There’s another team in the league referencing the good ol’ Space Force, so I’m going the other direction with it. We like to have fun.

Anyway, in Week 1, Space Pirates! squared off against Korky Butchek (the third place finisher in the playoffs last year). He’s the guy who knocked me from the 7th overall draft pick to the 8th; he’s also the guy who took Golladay from me. So, the revenge factor was pretty high on my part.

I got absolutely great games out of Wentz, Hilton (of all people), Bell, and Jacobs (all ranging from 23-34 points each). Buffalo got me a solid 17 points, Tucker got me 11, and everyone else did just enough (Roethlisberger, of course, stunk up the joint, and Hill’s injury knocked him out pretty early which also hurt ME). Korky Butchek had great games from DeAndre Hopkins and Evan Engram, but it wasn’t nearly enough. I took care of business to the tune of a 172.25-152.70 victory. That was good for just the fourth-highest total of the first week, putting me in fourth place.

I didn’t put in any waiver claims with my #3 waiver priority, so I held off until the wee hours of Wednesday morning before making my pickups. As a result, I now have the #1 waiver priority, which I fully intend to hoard until someone amazing comes along.

First thing’s first, I grabbed T.J. Hockenson from the Lions. He had a tremendous first week, and with people comparing him to Gronk, that felt like a no-brainer (I dropped Tony Pollard, because with so few bench spots, keeping handcuffs is a luxury few can afford). I also got Darren Waller, as with AB gone from the Raiders, he’s set to see a huge number of targets in the passing game (I dropped McDonald, because I just don’t trust Roethlisberger or the Steelers to ever make their TE a focal point in the passing game). Finally, with Guice set to hit the actual IR for the next 8 weeks, I set him loose, picking up a proper backup QB in Gardner Minshew. Consider me a believer in the moustache! Again, if he pans out (and he was terrific in replacing an injured Nick Foles last week), that’s another possible keeper for next year.

See, with a league like this, you have to always be thinking about the next year. Selling out to “win now” just isn’t tenable, because you’ll set yourself back YEARS in the process, all for what’s essentially a lottery ticket. I feel like I have a pretty good mix of both veterans who are great now, with younger guys who could develop into stars.

The obvious downside to my season so far is that the injury bug is crippling my depth. Hill is out 4-6 weeks, which is actually less time than Green is expected to be out, so I moved Hill to the IR spot. And, with Guice gone, my RB depth takes a big hit (for a position that gets injured as much as this one, you just can’t have enough quality RBs on your roster). I opted to go Waller over Hockenson for my TE spot, because I need to see at least another week out of the Lions’ rookie before I totally fall for the Gronk hype. I’ve got Hilton and Kupp as my starting receivers, as Kupp is more dependable than Kirk (plus the Cards are playing the tough Ravens defense). Everything else is the same, with my 3-headed RB hydra of Elliott, Bell, and Jacobs all locked in (two RB slots and my FLEX).

This week, I’m going up against Sloane N Steady, who is the only guy in our league with worse luck right now, in that he has no Luck at all (HI-YO!). He had the unfortunate occurrence of locking in Andrew Luck as one of his four keepers just a day before he announced his retirement. With Luck & Aaron Rodgers as two of his keepers the last few years, he was probably the most settled of anyone in the league at his QB spots. But, not only did he get Thielen with the first overall draft pick, in the second round he got Rivers as his QB2, which is an awesome find.

Sloane N Steady’s team looks quite formidable. Rodgers and Rivers. Thielen and Amari Cooper. Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb. Delanie Walker (TE) and James White (FLEX). Dallas’ kicker and New England’s defense. With bench spots devoted to Mike Williams, Jordan Howard, Donte Moncrief, and Derek Carr. At the time of this posting, I’m favored by less than 3 points; I have to imagine it’s going to be as close as advertised.

When the dust of Sunday settles, it’ll be Chubb vs. Bell on Monday Night Football to likely decide who wins or loses. Space Pirates! had a mighty scare when Bell went in for an MRI this week, but it looks like he’s playing. Regardless, if his touches are limited as a result of whatever this shoulder thing is, I think I’m toast. The rest of Sloane N Steady’s team plays in the 10am Sunday window, so I’ll certainly be playing from behind for the entire day.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, I’m screwed.

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

Here’s this week’s lineup:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 11

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

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

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

Such is MY life, that is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s this week’s lineup:

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

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

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

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

Here’s who TheGangUnderperforms has going against me:

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

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

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

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

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 2

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

My Rationale Beforehand

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, here’s my lineup:

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

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

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

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

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

***

Week 2 Results

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

TheGangUnderperforms’ lineup looked like this:

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

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

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

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

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

All told, it was a 194.59 – 130.90 drubbing!

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

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

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

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

It’s all downhill from here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And rosters are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My quarterbacks on roster were:

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

My running backs were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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