Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Nobody Beats The Wiz!

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE
  • Pre-Season Week 2 HERE

Oh that’s right, I’ve decided to name my team after the great Seinfeld character!

Nobody beats this guy!

Anyway, we had our draft last Friday, and of course I opted to go rogue. Look, I don’t know who reads this! I can’t be handing my league-mates possible insights into my fantasy football mind! So, you know, I conveniently left out the part that my top two guys were NOT Mike Evans and Aaron Jones, but rather:

  1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  2. Miles Sanders

To be fair, I did talk about Sanders last week. In going back and looking at his numbers, I didn’t realize just how many targets he gets in the passing game! Considering I also have his quarterback – Carson Wentz – and they still might not have the best crop of wide receivers in the world, I wouldn’t have thrown that connection out of bed.

But, all along, my true number one was always Clyde Edwards-Helaire (I might just shorten that to CEH even though it looks like an unpleasant search term on Pornhub or something). Remember before when I was bemoaning how there weren’t any great rookie running backs in this class? Remember how I wanted my Saquon Barkley? Well, he might be it! He was looking like a dark horse fantasy candidate before Damien Williams decided to opt out of this season due to COVID, but now that he’s the true #1 on the Chiefs, there’s just no denying him! His potential is through the roof!

Sanders would’ve been the safer pick, because at least he has a year of experience. But, I’ll take upside every time.

Just as I suspected, the guy with the #1 draft pick – COVID Bubble Boys – opted to go quarterback with his first selection: Drew Brees. Definitely a Playing For Now type of guy, and you have to respect that. He’s already got Lamar Jackson, might as well take his shot every chance he gets!

That left me with my pick of the litter, CEH. Sure enough, Miles Sanders went #3. THEN Joe Burrow went off the board! Followed by Aaron Jones, Tom Brady, Mike Evans (to the guy who had him last year, in effect giving him five keepers), Baker Mayfield, Chris Carson, and D.K. Metcalf rounding out the Top Ten.

That D.K. Metcalf pick is an interesting one, because he was CERTAINLY a guy I was targeting (although, I wanted him much later than when he went). That’s what’s hard about being in a fantasy football league with guys who either currently live in the Seattle area or have lived a long time in the Seattle area: the good Seahawks tend to get over-valued. Russell Wilson, for instance, has been on the same fantasy team since his rookie year, kept every single time by the same guy. Chris Carson is certainly an elite running back when he’s healthy, but he’s finished every year of his pro career with an injury, and there’s no reason for that not to continue. Tyler Lockett was kept this year mostly because that guy didn’t have a great fourth option for his keepers. And, while Metcalf certainly looked phenomenal in his rookie season last year, he’s still young and still a member of this offense, that likes to spread the ball around more than just about any other.

Metcalf COULD be the next Julio Jones; he seems to be driven as such. But, in this offense, he’s very touchdown-dependant (and very deep play-dependant). You might see a lot of lines like: 4 catches for 88 yards and 2 TDs. Which, yeah, is 24.8 points in our league, but without those two touchdowns, you’re looking at 12.8 points (which is okay, but nothing to write home about, especially for the first receiver you’ve drafted). In my mind, Metcalf would’ve been an ideal third receiver for a fantasy team, so I was a little disappointed he went off the board before I’d even selected my first.

That brings us to the second round (I won’t go through all of them, I promise); with three RBs on my team, I knew I was going receiver, regardless. Thankfully, some great ones remained! Kenny Golladay ended up going one spot ahead of me, but I was okay with that, because it means I get to enjoy Odell Beckham Jr. for the first time in my fantasy career!

I don’t know how ODB fell to me, but I’ll take him! I mean, I sort of know how he fell to me: he plays for Cleveland. He’s a diva. He could score me 40 points … or he could get so mad, blow up, and retire in the middle of a football game. It’s all on the table! The headache and the constant worry can be a little much, and I get that. If he were my first draft selection, I’d be much more nervous; but, as a second? The pressure is off! I’ve already got the guy I’ll be looking to keep next year. Had I landed ODB back when he was on the Giants, I’d be looking at him with those same eyes, figuring I’d hold onto him for many years to come. But, this way? I see him as a one-year rental. A hired gun to help bring me a championship.

I went back to the WR well in round three. Two top receivers from the 2019 rookie class – Scary Terry McLaurin and A.J. Brown – were both sitting there (among many others, of course). Once again, my choice was made for me by the COVID Bubble Boys, as he nabbed Scary Terry. That was a tough one; I had him last year, and was looking to reinvest! The Washington Football Team is a disaster – and they’re starting with Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, which could be a shitshow – but Scary Terry is a rising star and could help make anyone throwing to him look good! So, I settled for A.J. Brown. Considering I thought he might’ve been a keeper at one point, I think that’s a pretty swell consolation prize. I’m not a believer in Ryan Tannehill, but I’m also willing to be wrong. If he – and the Titans – can recapture that magic from 2019, then A.J. Brown could be even BETTER than a #2 receiver.

A lot of other receivers were taken in that round, but I wanted to get one more just to be safe. So, with my fourth pick, I went with DeVante Parker. It was either him or Robert Woods or Michael Gallup (kinda wish I’d remembered he was out there and grabbed him instead) or Courtland Sutton. Parker has been around for a while, but had a breakout season last year; when he’s on, he’s a bona fide #1 guy. But, I think the risk with him is that he doesn’t totally buy in. That he’s more of a fair-weather football player. Plus, he plays for the Miami Dolphins, and they will likely be breaking in a rookie quarterback at some point this year. Look, I’m not expecting a lot out of Parker; I mostly just took him because Yahoo had him rated so high (and because I REALLY didn’t want to pick LeVeon Bell, who fell REALLY far in this draft because he’s old and on the Jets and it’s pretty apparent the current Jets coaching staff doesn’t like him much). If we look back at where I screwed up my season, I’ll be looking at this pick (and probably wishing I’d gone with Gallup).

With my two quarterbacks, three running backs, and three receivers, I took a couple chances on some guys who might not help me right away; “projects” or “developmental guys” if you will. Cam Akers, rookie running back for the Rams, was my fifth pick. I love a running back from an explosive offense! The Rams sent Todd Gurley packing, so that running back job is wide open. I don’t think Akers will start right away, but he could get the nod as the season wears on. If he proves himself, he could be either a valuable trade chip OR a stud for me in the fantasy playoffs.

Then, with my sixth pick, I grabbed receiver Deebo Samuel. He’s injured at the moment, but has just started practicing, and could come off of whatever injured list he’s on. No one figures he’ll play much in the first couple weeks, but if he heals properly, he could be another boost for me after the season gets going. The downside is, of course, that his injury is to his foot, and foot injuries for receivers are notoriously chronic. Part of me worries that he’ll be dealing with this foot thing all year, which won’t be enough to put him on the IR, but will hamper him JUST enough to be rendered ineffective. I suspect the minute I feel confident in starting him will be the game where he comes out in the first quarter with that foot injury, never to return again.

You’ll notice I have yet to mention selecting a tight end. What can I say? The good ones didn’t stick around, and I always saw a better receiver or running back when it was my turn to pick. Finally, I had to bite the bullet. There were a couple potentially-solid guys left over – Hayden Hurst for the Falcons went in the following round, and Hunter Henry for the Chargers went a round after THAT – but I opted to go with second year player Noah Fant for the Broncos. As a first round pick for Denver last year, CLEARLY Fant is someone they want to feature pretty heavily in their offense. Reports indicate they’re moving him all around pre-snap (from along the O-Line, to in the slot, to out wide like a receiver) and I take that as a VERY positive sign that he has a lot of fantasy upside. I know, Drew Lock is their quarterback, but even mediocre throwers still manage to find a tight end safety valve every now and then. I don’t ask a lot from my tight ends; just get me around ten points per week. Anything more than that is gravy. I have a feeling that I might be eating a lot of gravy this year with Fant in the fold.

With my eighth pick, it was time to buy a lottery ticket. Mecole Hardman, wide receiver with the Chiefs. He’s mostly just a big play wide receiver, but he has the best of the big play quarterbacks throwing to him! He’s also one Tyreek Hill injury away from being this team’s #1 guy (and, with the way Hill plays – always putting his body in harm’s way to make a play – that’s not much of a stretch for me to make).

Confident with the rest of my roster – from a skill position perspective, anyway – I decided to use my ninth pick to take the first kicker off the board: Harrison Butker, also of the Chiefs. Give me as many Chiefs as you got! My man Crazy N8’s Prostates bemoaned the pick – as he had the same idea – and he had to settle for Justin Tucker few picks later.

With two rounds left, I still needed a third quarterback and a defense. Yikes, I know. I was eyeballing a third quarterback as early as that DeVante Parker selection, but none of the leftovers really caught my eye. Down to the nitty gritty, there STILL wasn’t anyone who caught my eye; it came down to Teddy Bridgewater, Dwayne Haskins, Mitch Trubisky, and the guy I ended up going with: Sam Darnold of the Jets. Yeah, I know.

Trubisky was a hard pass, because his career is on the ropes, and I don’t know if he’ll still have the starting job by the time I need him (my starting QBs have BYEs in weeks 9 and 11, so it should be some time before I actually NEED a third guy). Of course, idiot that I am, I didn’t realize until the moment of this writing that Darnold ALSO has a BYE in week 11 (SIGH), but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Anyway, I ruled out Bridgewater because I don’t think he’s good, and that team he’s on has no one but an elite running back to throw to. I ruled out Haskins because he sucks and that team sucks. That’s not saying much, because I also think Darnold sucks (and the fantasy league would seem to agree, considering how far he fell) and the Jets suck, but I do believe Darnold has SOME upside. This will be his third year, after recovering from an injury-plagued start to his career. Love or hate his head coach, the guy at least has a reputation as someone who does well with quarterbacks. I don’t plan on starting Darnold unless absolutely necessary. But, if he proves – with improved play – that he’s viable, I may have to work him in (considering I can’t be totally sold on someone like Danny Dimes at this point in his development).

Regretfully, the New England defense went one spot before I picked Darnold; the Patriots were CARRIED by their defense last year, and by all accounts they should be good in 2020 as well (my only concern was not knowing who on their team has opted out of this season for COVID reasons). With my final pick, I went with the highest-rated defense remaining: the Indianapolis Colts. I don’t have a lot of confidence, but I fully expect there to be a good defense for me to grab on waivers at some point.

Yahoo graded me with a B+ which is good for middle-of-the-road in our league (5th in rankings). However, I’m projected for a second place finish in our league at the moment of this writing! I have the league’s youngest team once again, but I’m hoping it actually pays off this time.

More than anything, I’m hoping my team name proves prophetic. Nobody Beats The Wiz? I sure hope so! It couldn’t be any worse than that year I went as Mr. Poopy Butthole …

***

Really quick, let’s take a look at this week’s matchup. Nobody Beats The Wiz is facing off against the aforementioned Crazy N8’s Prostates. Here’s my lineup:

  • Wentz (QB) @ Was
  • Jones (QB) vs. Pit
  • ODB (WR) @ Bal
  • Brown (WR) @ Den
  • Jacobs (RB) @ Car
  • CEH (RB) vs. Hou
  • Fant (TE) vs. Ten
  • Elliott (RB) @ LAR
  • Butker (K) vs. Hou
  • Ind (DEF) @ Jax

Predictably, I’m expected to be carried by my running backs. I think Yahoo is under-projecting Wentz against a terrible Washington Football Team, but they might be over-hyping Indianapolis against the Jaguars, who won’t be good, but could still be a little frisky on offense. Crazy N8’s Prostates is projected to win our league this year, and is favored against me this week. Here’s his lineup:

  • Dak Prescott (QB) @ LAR
  • Josh Allen (QB) vs. NYJ
  • Allen Robinson (WR) @ Det
  • Keenan Allen (WR) @ Cin
  • James Conner (RB) @ NYG
  • Aaron Jones (RB) @ Min
  • Travis Kelce (TE) vs. Hou
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. Dal
  • Justin Tucker (K) vs. Cle
  • San Francisco (DEF) vs. Ari

I have … a lot of concerns. I could see that Cowboys/Rams game being a shootout. I think Josh Allen is going to RAMPAGE over a terrible Jets defense. His receivers both have juicy matchups against mediocre secondaries. Kelce should thrive against the Texans. And, even the 49ers could come up with lots of turnovers in taking advantage of a Cardinals offense that’s pretty aggressive.

Thankfully, there’s so many unknowns at this point in the season. Even after the first week, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions. I just need to ride the wave of anxiety and hope for the best. I think I have a pretty solid team from top to bottom. But, teams are rarely as good on paper as they end up being in real life. Who will be the great disappointers this year? I can hardly wait to find out!

Predicting The 2020 NFL Season

We’re back! If you’d asked me a few weeks ago to simply predict whether or not we’d have a football season, I probably would’ve said, “Sure,” but there’s no way I could’ve been 100% unequivocal. Anyway, I say it every year and it still holds true, this is my favorite sports blog post to write, and this time we’re getting a jump on things! But first, a look back at my prior predictions:

Last year, I nailed the Eagles and Saints as division winners and whiffed on the Seahawks and Vikings (though, both made the playoffs as Wild Card teams). I had the Rams and Cowboys as Wild Card teams, but neither made the playoffs (though, they were 9-7 and 8-8 respectively). My worst calls in the NFC were the 49ers and Packers being third in their respective divisions (when they obviously won them and were the top two playoff seeds).

In the AFC, I nailed New England, Houston, and Kansas City as division winners; whiffing on the Steelers (who failed to make the playoffs) over the Ravens (who I pegged as a third place finisher, calling them a 7-win team; I was half-right, since they ended up 14-2). I had the Browns and Chargers as Wild Card teams, who won a combined 11 games (the Bills and Titans ended up making it).

As far as the playoffs go, I was WAY too high on the Eagles, who I had as a 1-seed making the Super Bowl. However, I did have Kansas City winning it all, so bully for me!

Okay, without further ado … here’s some more ado. I should point out I’ve never been so underprepared for an NFL season. So, I’m going to take a few minutes here to reacquaint myself as to what happened last year, see where some key free agents ended up, and I’ll come right back with my predictions. It’ll be so quick, you won’t even know I was gone!

And I’m back! Honestly, I don’t know how much insight I’ll have, but let’s get to it.

NFC East

  • Dallas
  • Philadelphia
  • New York
  • Washington

I think I like the Cowboys and Eagles pretty equally. Mostly, I went with Dallas over Philly to change things up. It’s hard to repeat as divisional champions, and I didn’t see anything out of the Eagles last year that impressed me to the point that they’d be drastically improved. With Dak Prescott playing for a bigtime contract extension, he’s motivated as all get-out to play well, and that could be the ultimate decider. I think the Giants have enough to improve from Bad to Mediocre, which I figure accounts for a ceiling of 7 wins. The Washington Football Team is a trainwreck in all aspects of football and life; I can’t see them winning more than 4 games.

NFC North

  • Minnesota
  • Green Bay
  • Chicago
  • Detroit

The Vikings are strong on both sides of the football, with a good coaching staff and a lot of stars. I see a big step-back out of the Packers – who did nothing last year to overwhelmingly impress me, other than taking care of business during an incredibly easy schedule – with the Vikings maybe even contending for the top seed if everything breaks right. The Packers, of course, will be in line for a Wild Card if their quarterback stays healthy. The Bears and Lions both strike me as bad teams heading in the wrong direction.

NFC South

  • Atlanta
  • Tampa Bay
  • New Orleans
  • Carolina

I’m taking a HUGE swing here! I don’t have a good reason to like the Falcons, but I just do. The sensible pick is to repeat with the Saints, but they (and by “they” I mean Drew Brees) are getting old and I could see a few injuries really derailing things for them. If you were wondering who 2020’s All Overhyped Team is going to be (recall last year, that title went to the Cleveland Browns), it’s Tampa! I think they could get off to a hot start offensively, but I think their defense is a year or two away (famous last words, every time I write them), and I’m not buying Tom Brady’s noodle arm. There’s a lot of turnover on offense, and that can be a lot to square away in one offseason during a pandemic with no pre-season games. Carolina will not be much better with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm; he seems like he’s earning A LOT of money for someone who hasn’t accomplished much in his career.

NFC West

  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Arizona

I’m getting a whiff of a Super Bowl Hangover season out of the 49ers. That should open the door for a Rams team that was snakebitten a little bit last year. It’s not often that a 9-7 team fails to make the playoffs; of course, had they made that last-second field goal against the Seahawks, it would’ve been them advancing instead of us. Color me as drinking the Seahawks Regression Kool Aid, because I have a BAD feeling about this season. It’s a lot to ask to put everything on one man’s shoulders, even if he’s as great as Russell Wilson; ultimately I just can’t see this team being so good in one-score games as they were last year. Arizona should be a lot of fun to watch, but I don’t know if they have anything even remotely resembling a defense.

AFC East

  • Buffalo
  • New England
  • Miami
  • New York

The Bills have steadily built up that team to be rock solid in most aspects. I think they’ll win a lot of games in spite of their quarterback play; if he can just avoid a lot of turnovers, they’ll probably win around 12 games with relative ease. The Patriots won’t totally fall off the map with Cam Newton in for Brady, but I don’t think he’s winning a division in his first year there. Miami looked to be on the upswing late last year; they’re still young, but I think they too can improve from Bad to Mediocre. The Jets were going the opposite direction, and they could be one of the worst teams in the league as well.

AFC North

  • Baltimore
  • Pittsburgh
  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati

The Ravens and Chiefs look to be the class of the AFC, so they should continue to dominate as long as they can stay relatively healthy. The Steelers were snakebitten by injuries last year, but otherwise were pretty strong across the board. I think the Browns might be a little underrated and could jump to 9 wins this year. The Bungles are who we thought they were.

AFC South

  • Indianapolis
  • Houston
  • Tennessee
  • Jacksonville

The Colts were a healthy, quality quarterback away from being a playoff team last year. They have Philip Rivers now, and I think he’ll make all the difference for a team that’s pretty good everywhere else. The Texans are slowly being eaten alive by their so-so head coach who is also the league’s dumbest general manager; I think this year was one inept move too many. They won’t win a division without DeAndre Hopkins, and likely won’t even return to the playoffs. I think the Titans were a flash in the pan and I’m not buying Ryan Tannehill. The Jags will be terrible and will contend for a #1 draft pick.

AFC West

  • Kansas City
  • Las Vegas
  • Denver
  • Los Angeles

The Chiefs are the best team in football, period. The Raiders and Broncos are just okay; they could flip-flop spots here and it wouldn’t shock me (but I don’t think either are playoff-calibre). The Chargers are bad. I don’t think Tyrod Taylor will be starting games long, and I don’t think Justin Herbert will be their Quarterback of the Future.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Minnesota
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Dallas
  4. Atlanta
  5. San Francisco
  6. Green Bay
  7. Seattle

AFC Playoffs

  1. Kansas City
  2. Baltimore
  3. Buffalo
  4. Indianapolis
  5. New England
  6. Pittsburgh
  7. Cleveland

Sign the Seahawks up as one of the first teams to take advantage of the seventh playoff spot! If that isn’t the Seahawkiest thing that’s ever happened, I don’t know what is.

Wild Card Round

  • Seahawks over Rams
  • Cowboys over Packers
  • 49ers over Falcons
  • Ravens over Browns
  • Steelers over Bills
  • Colts over Patriots

Divisional Round

  • Vikings over Seahawks
  • Cowboys over 49ers
  • Chiefs over Steelers
  • Ravens over Colts

Championship Round

  • Vikings over Cowboys
  • Ravens over Chiefs

Super Bowl

  • Vikings over Ravens

My backup guess is Vikings over Chiefs, but I guess I’m pretty committed to the Vikings winning it all here. Boy won’t they be partying in Minnesota if I’m right!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Corona-Draft Prep

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE

Well, the keepers are set in place, and now I get to look forward to our draft this Friday. There were some minor surprises – and a couple big ones – so without further ado, let’s take a quick glance at how wrong I was about my projected keepers for the rest of the league:

  1. Russell Wilson, Christian McCaffrey, Chris Godwin, Matt Ryan (all correct)
  2. Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, James Conner, Travis Kelce (Odell Beckham Jr., Mark Ingram, and Keenan Allen all available to draft)
  3. Deshaun Watson, George Kittle, Derrick Henry, Cam Newton (Aaron Jones)
  4. Jared Goff, Drew Lock, DeAndre Hopkins, JuJu Smith-Schuster (A.J. Brown and Raheem Mostert)
  5. Kyler Murray, Saquon Barkley, Michael Thomas, Joe Mixon (Mike Evans)
  6. Aaron Rodgers, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen (Amari Cooper)
  7. Patrick Mahomes, Alvin Kamara, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett (all correct)
  8. Jimmy Garoppolo, Tyreek Hill, Gardner Minshew, Todd Gurley (Matthew Stafford)
  9. Lamar Jackson, Julio Jones, Austin Ekeler, Kenyan Drake (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold)

I remember being MUCH more successful in predicting my league’s keepers before last season, so I don’t know what that says about me or the state of the NFL right now, but it makes the upcoming draft more interesting!

Until I saw the actual keepers, I wasn’t too thrilled about my prospects as the guy with the #2 overall draft pick. It just seemed like there wouldn’t be anyone really dominating for me to select. BUT, I see two guys among the leftovers who are VERY exciting! Not just for 2020, but for many years to come potentially!

Of this group, Mike Evans and Aaron Jones are both VERY enticing to me. Either one of them could fall to me and I’d be ecstatic with whoever I get. I know I bemoaned Tom Brady’s noodle arm last week, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be interested in the weapons he has to throw to. For starters, Brady isn’t totally inept; he hasn’t fallen completely off the cliff just yet. While Mike Evans has been mostly a deep threat thus far in his career, he still has a ton of value as a red zone target, and should thrive with someone like Brady throwing jump balls his way. If, by the grace of all that is holy, both Evans and Jones were to fall to me, I’d have to go with Evans simply because the drop-off at receiver is so steep among him and the rest of the leftovers.

Odell Beckham Jr. is, of course, one of those leftovers. I can’t say that I agree with exposing him to the rest of the league while keeping someone like Josh Allen, but you know, there’s a reason why I haven’t won a league championship in the fantasy trophy era (2010-Present). I think the Cleveland Browns – and by extension, their players – are pretty underrated in 2020, after being so very OVER-rated heading into 2019, so there could be some good value in guys like ODB and Baker Mayfield. If I picked lower in the first round, I’d be over the moon if someone like ODB fell to me; someone is going to get an absolute steal.

Aaron Jones was one of the best running backs in all of football last year, at least from a fantasy perspective. So, it’s shocking to see him available. But, it’s telling that he is, because the owner who exposed him is also a lifelong Packers fan. If HE’S not keeping Aaron Jones, there must be a reason (he’s also the reigning league champion, but that’s in spite of him auto-drafting last year, as well as never checking his e-mail, so we’re all in agreement that this was a fluke, and if his wife weren’t cc’d on all league e-mails, we’d probably never hear from him again). I have to believe Aaron Jones still has a lot of value, though, so if Mike Evans goes to the guy drafting #1 overall, I’m okay with nabbing Jones, even though I’ve already kept two running backs. There’s still the FLEX spot, and there are only so many bona fide, workhorse running backs in the league, so you really can’t have too many.

That would, of course, necessitate my drafting wide receivers in both the second and third rounds (which might see me needing to reach for some lesser players, but that’s the price you pay, I guess).

As I stated before, I still haven’t done a ton of research heading into the draft, as my objective at this point is still to mostly go by what Yahoo tells me. But, to pique my curiosity, I checked the season projections and found some surprising guys among the leftovers.

Miles Sanders, running back for the Eagles, is rated VERY high. Even higher than Aaron Jones! I can’t remember the last time an Eagles running back was worth more than an in-season free agent pickup (probably Shady McCoy), because they so often are in a time-share with multiple backs. But, he’s been definitively named the starter by the head coach, which is saying a lot but also not saying anything at all. Why would the head coach be motivated to give away such news for free to the rest of the league? Also, there’s no saying he has to stick with that, if Sanders under-produces or gets hurt. Sanders was really good towards the end of last year though, so I think that’s where the hope lies.

Not ODB nor Mike Evans is the highest-ranked wide receiver remaining; that falls to Allen Robinson of the Bears. I don’t totally get that, but ESPN also has him ranked pretty high, so I guess I have to believe it. With Chicago’s quarterback situation being what it is, I don’t have ANY faith in any of their players, but if he somehow falls to the second round, I might have to take him anyway.

Kenny Golladay is also rated above ODB and Evans, and he seems like a safer pick. He has elite talent, and Matthew Stafford is healthy again. It’s looking highly likely that MANY wide receivers are going to fly off the board in the first three rounds of our draft, so I’ll be interested to see who I’m able to grab.

Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, and Darren Waller are the three tight ends I’m looking at right now. Andrews is probably the only guy worth reaching for (maybe in the second or third round, if he’s still there), but if the draft doesn’t fall the way I want it to, I have no problem waiting until the end of the draft to pick up a tight end. There will be someone on waivers worth claiming in the first week or two of the regular season.

I need to resist the urge to get a third quarterback too early, but there are LOTS of veteran options out there (who I would anticipate get snapped up before I have a chance), including Drew Brees, Brady, Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill, and Tyrod Taylor. There’s also Baker Mayfield, who still has a lot of potential to be great, as well as Darnold and Dwayne Haskins (who stunk last year, but is still young enough to turn it around). And then, of course, there are the rookies. The more I think about it, the less inclined I am to want to reach too early for any of them. I also wonder if Joe Burrow won’t be the first overall player taken in the draft, considering the guy picking there and how badly he’s been looking to shore up his QB spots. Having Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow for the next generation might be too tantalizing to pass up.

I’m No Good At Titles & The Seahawks Won Their Wildcard Matchup Against The Eagles

I had this weekend ALL wrong!

I’ll tell you this much: I legitimately thought the Saints were one of the top two teams in the NFC and that they were going to KILL the Vikings. For what it’s worth, if that was Vikings at Seahawks, I still think Seattle prevails, but the outcome has me thinking twice a little bit. Maybe the Saints are Playoff Cursed?

No matter, because the Seahawks went into Philly and came out on top, just like we all knew they would, right guys?! We’re all on the right side of history in this argument!

I will say this much: I’m VERY happy that the Vikings did win, because I would MUCH rather they be cannon-fodder for the 49ers next week over us. I think the 49ers win that game by three scores EASILY; they’re super healthy across the board, well-rested, and have a team flying halfway across the country on a short week with a quarterback who is 1 for a million in big games (happy for Cousins and all that, but one win doesn’t automatically wipe out his entire broken reputation).

Anyway, let’s tarry no further and talk about this Eagles game. In a lot of ways, it went according to expectations; but a few key spots were totally unpredictable.

Let’s start here; I feel like I need to get an “I Told You So” out of the way to boost my confidence: the Seahawks’ rushing attack was truly abysmal. If you take away Wilson’s scrambling (which he could have in most every game if he really wanted), the Seahawks’ running backs (Homer primarily, Lynch secondarily, and Turbin never) ran 17 times for 19 yards and a touchdown. Homer had one 12-yard rush; his other 10 carries went for a combined 0 yards. Lynch had that one MAMMOTH 5-yard TD rush, but even Beastmode could only muster 2 additional yards on his subsequent 5 carries.

Fletcher Cox easily made the biggest impact for the Eagles and it’s not even close; he was the second-most important player in this game behind Jadeveon Clowney (who we’ll get to later). It obviously hurt the Seahawks to be out Duane Brown (replaced by George Fant), Mike Iupati (replaced by Jamarco Jones), and Justin Britt (replaced by Joey Hunt), but even D.J. Fluker was getting pushed around (or, at best, stonewalled) by Cox and his wrecking crew on that front four. I’ve always known Cox was great, but MAN was he impressive in this one; he was a man possessed, and he didn’t seem to take a single play off. As a Seahawks blogger, I don’t tend to write a lot about opposing players, but I have to tip my cap to him; he almost single-handedly ruined the Seahawks’ season.

The Seahawks scored 17 points, so obviously the offense didn’t do a whole helluva lot, but there were three key aspects to the Seahawks’ success:

  1. The Seahawks didn’t turn the ball over
  2. The Seahawks were 8/15 on third down
  3. Russell Fucking Wilson

There were actually no turnovers in this game, period (which was odd, considering the start, where both offenses put the ball on the turf only to recover their own fumbles), so even one bad throw or mis-handled snap could’ve really swung the entire season. I hate to say it (especially considering Homer almost bonered it in the first possession), but NOT having Chris Carson might’ve made all the difference! Look, I love the guy as much as anyone, but he CLEARLY never fixed his fumbling problem (he had three in his first three games of the season, was clean for a while, then had a 3-game stretch where he lost the ball 4 times – but the opposing team only recovered 1 of them, which is pretty fortunate).

The success on third down was doubly-great because we were in 3rd & Long so many times! Some of that was luck/poor tackling on the Eagles’ part, but most of that was Russell Wilson flat out making plays. So, let’s get to him.

325 yards on 18/30 (for a 10.8 average) with a TD and a 108.3 passer rating. Add on 45 rushing yards on 9 scrambles, and we’re talking about the guy who was once the frontrunner for the MVP this season. He wasn’t perfect; there was an overthrow here and there, but he was as close to it as you can get.

It really sunk in as you watched some of these quarterbacks this weekend (and ESPECIALLY throughout the season): if it’s 3rd & 18 or whatever, and the Seahawks have Josh Allen or Ryan Tannehill or maybe 85% of the mediocre-to-crappy quarterbacks in this league, they’re either running a draw play or a screen pass to the running back, getting anywhere from 5-10 yards, and punting. Now, say what you will about the play calling (it was growing more and more alarming every time the Seahawks ran the ball after a penalty on 2nd & 20, I’ll admit it), but we’re not afraid to put the ball in Wilson’s hands when we’re behind the sticks, our backs are against the wall, and we need an incredible play. He’s the reason why you pay a quarterback $30+ million per season. He’ll get the job done when 90-95% of the rest of the league will fail in those same situations.

It was a low-key special performance by Wilson that will largely be forgotten to the sands of time, especially when you factor in this was D.K. Metcalf’s Coming Out Party.

I’ve been extremely high on Metcalf ever since we drafted him. Most talent evaluators (including the other 31 teams in the league) focused on the negatives in his repertoire, but I’ve known all along that his skillset fits this team and this quarterback perfectly. As has been discussed, his rookie season was largely a success, but there have been plenty of ups & downs. This was the first time he really put everything together and showed a glimpse of what he could become: a flat-out superstar in the NFL. 7 catches on 9 targets, 160 yards and a touchdown. The TD was incredible – a 53-yard catch, stumble, get-back-up, and barrel into the endzone – but his game-sealing 36-yard reception on 3rd & 10, with the Eagles holding only 1 time out on the wrong side of the 2-minute warning, was the reason you brought him in here in the first place. One-on-one coverage, no safeties deep, you absolutely need to convert that to win the game, otherwise you punt it away for the chance to tie, and he high-pointed the ball and came down with the W. Simply outstanding.

I was probably least-sure about the Seahawks’ defense in this one, but this was a classic performance by these guys.

Clowney was a total difference-maker; we haven’t seen him play this well since the 49ers game in Week 10. He filled up the stat sheet with 5 tackles, a sack, 2 tackles for loss, and one very memorable quarterback hit.

You can’t talk about this game without talking about Carson Wentz getting injured in the first quarter, leaving the game with a head injury, being replaced by a 40 year old Josh McCown who came out of retirement to be this team’s backup. We’ll never know if the Eagles would’ve won with Wentz in there for the full game, but I have to imagine at the very least that he would’ve found a way to at least get them in the endzone one time. As it stands, McCown was okay, but he was clearly over his skis; he threw for 174 yards on 18/24 passing and most importantly 0 turnovers. But, he also suffered 6 of the 7 sacks the Seahawks got in this one (after we had the second-fewest in the league in the regular season) and was clearly a little gimpy, having to run for his life most of the day.

The Seahawks’ pass rush really showed up on a day the team desperately needed it. It wasn’t any one man, either, as 6 different guys combined for the 7 total. Of course, that was a byproduct of the Eagles also suffering a number of injuries on their O-Line, but clearly the Seahawks were better able to cope (as Wilson only had the one).

Seattle has Wilson and that’s a definite leg up over the rest of the NFC, but we’ll only go as far as this defense can take us, and that means having all of our key guys healthy and playing at the top of their games. Clowney sure showed up. Bobby Wagner showed why he’s yet again an All Pro this season. And, Quandre Diggs – first game back since his high ankle sprain – showed why he’s so important to this defense. The longest reception by an Eagles player went for 32 yards to Ertz, but there was nothing over the top, and obviously they never saw the endzone. We’ll never know for sure how many of the sacks were due to tight coverage, but it’s definitely a non-zero number. Diggs allows McDougald to play more closely to the line of scrimmage, to help out in defending the run as well as covering those two great tight ends.

I want to shout out Cody Barton, as he was a guy I highlighted as a major concern before the game. For as much as this team plays base defense – and indeed, he was in there for 75% of the Seahawks’ snaps – he showed why this team loved him throughout the pre-season. He had a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two passes defended in this one as well as an additional QB hit. I saw him do nothing but make play after play, as he finally had a full week to practice at one spot, and this team coached him up to their fullest abilities. If he continues to show out like he did in this one, there’s no doubt he’ll be starting for this defense in 2020.

As I said before, this was a classic defensive performance: bend, don’t break, lots of aggressive penalties, but ultimately keeping the inferior offense out of the endzone and keeping them at 0 for 2 on fourth down (both deep in Seattle territory, on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter). This is a similar (but obviously not the exact same, due to injuries) defense that let Brett Hundley march down the field on them in that fakakta Cardinals game, so it was nice to see them stand up when it mattered most.

It all sets us up for the best-possible scenario for the Seahawks, given the circumstances. We avoid the 49ers in the Divisional Round, which I’ve argued all along is of utmost importance. Now, Green Bay is obviously no slouch – and certainly the talking points around Seahawksland will be their terribly-easy schedule this season – but with Aarons Rodgers & Jones, Davante Adams, and a better-than-you’d-think defense, that team is balanced and experienced and, most importantly, at home.

I’m still pretty convinced that the Seahawks will lose in this one, but I’m more willing to give us a chance to score the upset than I would be if we’re going to Santa Clara. Make no mistake, I obviously believe the Seahawks COULD beat the 49ers (we obviously did it once on their home field, and should’ve beaten them twice this season), but it would be too difficult in this particular round of the playoffs: the 49ers are at full strength, with a week off, while we just played a brutal game against a very physical team all the way across the country. If we were to shock the world and upend the Packers, I’d give us a 50/50 shot at beating the 49ers in the Championship Game.

But, to get there, we have to beat a different very good, healthy, well-rested team at home. It’s never easy to win in Green Bay, and it’s especially not easy to beat them there in January. Knocking Aaron Rodgers out of the game almost certainly won’t be on the table, so here’s to hoping there’s a little Russell Wilson Magic left in the tank (we hopefully didn’t need to use it all up in that Eagles game).

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 8

Last week, I just got hosed.  There’s no way around it.  Oh sure, I hosed myself in many respects – I could’ve made a harder push at picking up Indy’s defense, or drafted a better group of quarterbacks – but I pretty much put out the best team I could’ve and I got beat.

Sloane N Steady ended up starting Nick Chubb over Isaiah Crowell, which in the end made all the difference (8 points, when he won 143.95 – 141.44), but that shouldn’t have even mattered.  He was saddled with a big, fat 0 out of Melvin Gordon – whose 6:30am London start time was too early for my opponent to realize he was out with injury – and I honestly thought I had the week in the bag.  I was over a 75% favorite heading INTO the Sunday afternoon games!  Hell, I just needed 34 combined points out of Andy Dalton and Tyreek Hill in the Sunday Night Game (he had no one else going at this point).  While Hill did his job, Dalton only got me 9.4, and that was that.  Andy Fucking Dalton, worthless pile of shit, playing in a Primetime game, sucked too many dicks and I lost yet another week of fantasy football I should’ve won.

I’m now 3-4, in 5th place in the league, and I’m still 3rd overall in points scored (while down to 6th in points against).  It’s just unbelievable.

At this point, I don’t know what else I have to do.  Making a bunch of panic moves feels like a mistake.  Honestly, it’s not any one thing that’s setting me back.  Sure, I’m pretty shaky at quarterback, but I’m never going to find anyone better without giving up a king’s ransom of talent at other positions, and quite frankly I just don’t have enough depth on my bench to make up the difference.  Every week, it’s something else.  As much as I despise that loathesome ginger-headed quarterback, getting only 3 points out of the Bears’ defense is the biggest culprit.  Had I known they were going to be THAT bad against the Pats – and that my game was destined to be this close against me – I sure as shit would’ve risked losing Calvin Ridley to pick up a better streaming defense last week.

My life goes from bad to worse this week, as I’m without Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette – two of my three keepers from last season.  Fournette is obviously a worthless pile of shit (whose team just traded for Carlos Hyde, to make my life even more miserable, as his value with the Jags continues to plummet); Elliott, on the other hand, is on a BYE, which leaves me with 1 healthy running back in the 500 year old Adrian Peterson.

The best available RB was Latavius Murray, who might get the nod over Dalvin Cook, but is also set to face the Saints, who are one of the best run defenses in football (so, I didn’t put in a claim for him and someone else snapped him up).  The other usual suspects are/were out there – Javorius Allen, Wendell Smallwood, Jalen Richard (who also got claimed on waivers), Frank Gore – but none of them are all that enticing.

Someone did, however, drop Chris Carson, so I used my 5-waiver priority to pick him up.  I won’t know if I get him until tomorrow, so consider that a teaser for next week’s recap!

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz @ JAX
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton vs. TB
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. DEN
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. NO
  • RB1 – TBD
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson @ NYG
  • TE – Jordan Reed @ NYG
  • FLEX – Robert Woods vs. GB
  • K – Matt Prater vs. SEA
  • DEF – Chicago vs. NYJ

My bench is:  Carr, Elliott (BYE), Ridley (BYE), Fournette (IR), Golladay, Olsen, Devonta Freeman (to be waived for a healthy replacement RB).

I’m feeling super dumb about holding two tight ends on my roster, when both of them are as mediocre as can be.  When I think about all the other guys I could’ve had – ON WAIVERS, not to mention in the draft – it drives me crazy.  The last thing I wanted to do this year was waste two roster spots on the tight end position, yet here I am.  I started Reed over Olsen this week because the Ravens’ defense is pretty stout, so it seems unlikely the Panthers are going to move the ball well.  I don’t have much hope for Reed either, but he feels like a slightly better proposition.

This week, my opponent is The Lance Petemans.  He’s won our league every other year for the last I don’t even know how many years, which makes him both one of the better fantasy football owners in our league, and also probably the luckiest.

He’s always been smart about his keepers, and this year was no different.  He’s had Brady and Gurley the last two seasons, with Jimmy Garoppolo as his third, who was looking like yet another monster fantasy producer until he hit the IR.  The rest of his team is, as you’d expect, pretty solid up and down the lineup … except for that #2 QB spot.  To wit:

  • QB1 – Tom Brady @ BUF
  • QB2 – C.J. Beathard @ AZ
  • WR1 – A.J. Green vs. TB
  • WR2 – Alshon Jeffery @ JAX
  • RB1 – Todd Gurley vs. GB
  • RB2 – Tarik Cohen vs. NYJ
  • TE – Eric Ebron @ OAK
  • FLEX – John Brown @ CAR
  • K – Dan Bailey vs. NO
  • DEF – New England @ BUF

His bench is:  Sony Michel, Ryan Tannehill, Will Fuller V, Dion Lewis, L.A. Chargers, Jimmy G (IR).

So, for starters, what did I do to deserve back-to-back opponents having their respective quarterbacks go up against Buffalo & Arizona?  You can pencil those guys in for 60 points RIGHT NOW!  And that might be conservative!  Really, he’s got matchup darlings up and down his lineup.  Green against Tampa’s grotesque defense; Jeffery against the suddenly-mediocre Jaguars defense (while also poaching points from Wentz with every pass he catches); Gurley against the Packers’ nothing defense; Ebron against the Raiders’ less-than-nothing defense.  And the shit-cherry on top of the shit-sundae:  the Patriots defense against the Bills, who hand out pick-sixes like they’re full candy bars on Halloween.

If The Lance Petemans don’t score over 220 points, I’ll be shocked.  I’ve got a pretty good team, but even with an active and healthy Zeke and Fournette, I don’t think I’d have a shot in Hell.  You could probably add up my entire roster – including all bench guys – and I don’t think I’d come close to beating his starting lineup.

Predicting The 2018 NFL Season

So, I did that dumb thing where you print out the whole season schedule and predict every single game.  It’s incomprehensibly stupid and a total waste of time – because obviously I’m not going to predict anywhere CLOSE to all the games correct – but it actually kind of worked out I think!  We’ll see.  The records I came up with look like they could hypothetically be accurate – I don’t have anyone going 16-0 or 0-16, for instance – and I’m going to assume all the totals add up to whatever the number of regular season NFL games is supposed to be.

Check out some predictions from past seasons:

I’ll take just a QUICK look back at how I did in 2017 to get that out of the way.  See my division winners on the left (my predicted playoff seeding in parentheses) and the actual division winners on the right (with the actual playoff seeding in parentheses):

  • Seattle (1) – Los Angeles (3)
  • Green Bay (2) – Minnesota (2)
  • New York (3) – Philadelphia (1)
  • Carolina (4) – New Orleans (4)
  • New England (1) – New England (1)
  • Kansas City (2) – Kansas City (4)
  • Pittsburgh (3) – Pittsburgh (2)
  • Tennessee (4) – Jacksonville (3)

Wildcards:

  • Tampa Bay (5) – Carolina (5)
  • Dallas (6) – Atlanta (6)
  • Oakland (5) – Tennessee (5)
  • Houston (6) – Buffalo (6)

So, as you can see, I fucked up the NFC entirely (only predicting Carolina to make the playoffs, but I had them as a division winner and they only were a wildcard), but I picked 3/4 AFC division winners and 4/6 of the AFC playoff teams.  I’ve had better years though (obviously, since last year I predicted a Super Bowl of Seattle over Oakland).

Let’s just wipe that from our memory banks, if we can, and move on to this year.

NFC East

  • Philadelphia:  9-7
  • Dallas:  8-8
  • Washington:  8-8
  • New York:  5-11

I still like Philly a lot, and may have under-shot their record here, but I can’t help but see some regression out of this team.  I do think their second half will be a lot better than their first half, and I think the rest of their division is pretty mediocre, so it shouldn’t be a stretch for them to repeat as NFC East champs.  I think the Cowboys have a relatively easy schedule, which accounts for their 8 wins.  I actually believe the Redskins will be better than the Cowboys, but for whatever reason I see an uneven season out of them (winning some games they should lose, but also losing some games they should win).  I don’t like the Giants whatsoever and I think Eli is finished.

NFC North

  • Green Bay:  13-3
  • Minnesota:  10-6
  • Detroit:  9-7
  • Chicago:  4-12

I’ll say it right now:  I’m guaranteeing a full healthy season out of Aaron Rodgers.  He just signed a huge extension, so obviously he can’t be too disgruntled with that team.  I think he’ll be on the warpath this year and really carry that team to new heights.  I still like the Vikings a lot, but I think there’s some regression there (as well as some growing pains with a new QB in Cousins) and I just think there will be an adjustment period for them (I could also see the Vikings getting hit hard by the injury bug).  I like Detroit okay – and their new coaching staff has to be an improvement over last year’s – but they’re probably a year or two away from really competing for the division again.  I have a lot of doubts about the Bears and don’t really think this quarterback is going to hit big.

NFC South

  • Atlanta:  11-5
  • Carolina:  10-6
  • New Orleans:  9-7
  • Tampa Bay:  2-14

The big thing here is I believe the Falcons’ defense will take a big step forward this season.  I don’t trust Sark as an offensive coordinator and I never will, but I don’t think this offense is going to have to be as elite to rack up a bunch of wins.  I think the Panthers are just solid all the way around, and they’ve got a relatively easy schedule as it is.  I think the Saints take a little bit of a step back as I wonder if the offense will be as good with all the changes in the skill players.  I could also see the Saints getting a lot of guys injured.  I think the Bucs are going to compete for the #1 overall draft pick next year.

NFC West

  • Los Angeles:  12-4
  • San Francisco:  9-7
  • Seattle:  9-7
  • Arizona:  3-13

I think this is the year for the Rams.  I think they put it all together and go to the Super Bowl.  I think the Seahawks and 49ers will be about the same, but the 49ers will have the edge based on conference wins.  I actually – upon further review – have the Seahawks going 5-1 before the BYE, before going on a 5-game losing streak, then finishing the season on a 4-1 streak (don’t know what that’s about).  I think Arizona will be terrible.

AFC East

  • New England:  12-4
  • Miami:  7-9
  • New York:  5-11
  • Buffalo:  2-14

What a surprise!  The Patriots roll to an easy divisional title because the AFC East is the worst fucking division in all of football!  Of the poo-poo platter that is the rest of this division, I think with Tannehill back, the Dolphins will win the most games of the bunch (but still not enough to make the playoffs or even go .500).  I think the Jets will struggle with a rookie QB at the helm.  And, I think the Bills will compete with the Bucs for that #1 overall draft pick.  TANKING AT ITS FINEST IN THE AFC EAST!

AFC North

  • Pittsburgh:  13-3
  • Cincinnati:  9-7
  • Baltimore:  7-9
  • Cleveland:  4-12

A lot of gods & clods in the AFC this year.  I think the Steelers dominate a pretty easy schedule.  I think Cincy is better than expected (but falls just short of the playoffs).  I think the Ravens will be okay.  And I think too many people are buying the Hard Knocks hype; stay away from the Browns this year and thank me later (they’ll be better when they fire Hue Jackson).

AFC South

  • Jacksonville:  13-3
  • Houston:  11-5
  • Tennessee:  7-9
  • Indianapolis:  4-12

This division is going to be FUN!  Here, I love me some Jags; I think they play the Rams in one of the most entertaining Super Bowls of all time.  I’m also on the Houston bandwagon, but I think they fall just short of a division title.  I don’t like the Titans to repeat as a playoff team; and I think Andrew Luck will win them a few games single-handedly, but the Colts overall will be pretty bad.

AFC West

  • Los Angeles:  12-4
  • Kansas City:  9-7
  • Denver:  6-10
  • Oakland:  4-12

It’s probably bad that I’m drinking the Kool Aid on L.A., Houston, Pittsburgh, AND Jacksonville, but here we are.  I think the Chargers finally put it all together and the city of Los Angeles enjoys the best professional football in the country.  I don’t see the Chiefs as the powerhouse that other teams do – they’ll also have some growing pains with a new QB in Mahomes – but I think they’ll get better as the season goes along and sneak into the playoffs.  I just don’t buy the Broncos, and I think Jon Gruden will be a terrible hire for the Raiders.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Green Bay
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Atlanta
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Minnesota
  6. Carolina

AFC Playoffs

  1. Jacksonville
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. New England
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Houston
  6. Kansas City

Wild Card Round

  • Atlanta over Carolina
  • Philadelphia over Minnesota
  • New England over Kansas City
  • Los Angeles over Houston

Divisional Round

  • Los Angeles over Atlanta
  • Green Bay over Philadelphia
  • Jacksonville over Los Angeles
  • New England over Pittsburgh

Championship Round

  • Los Angeles over Green Bay
  • Jacksonville over New England

Super Bowl

  • Jacksonville over Los Angeles

Now that I look at it, it looks silly to have the Steelers over the Pats in the regular season (betting against the Patriots getting that first round bye is always a bad move), but I can’t go back and change it!

I have 5/8 division winners repeating and 9/12 playoff teams returning, which also feels like a few too many.  We’ll see, I guess.  I haven’t felt this strongly about a Super Bowl matchup since Seahawks/Broncos; I would bet a lot of money it’s these two teams.

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?

What’s Wrong With The Seahawks?

You know what?  Fuck the Rams, there I said it.  This isn’t about them.  Fuck that game, fuck everything.  I’m talking about the Seahawks here (it’s not ALL ABOUT YOU, RAMS!!!).

This is the point in the season where everyone freaks the fuck out and asks, “What’s wrong with the Seahawks?”  Truth be told, this moment hit us a week earlier last year, as we had the misfortune of playing the Rams in Week 1 (why the SHIT can’t we have our first game against the fucking Rams in Week 11?  Why’s it always gotta be EARLY in the season?), but once again, here we are.  And once again, we’re asking the same question.

Of course, everyone also has an answer to this question, because EVERYONE’S GOTTA BE A BLOGGER NOW!  Or, at the very least, everyone’s gotta be a Twitter cunt who spends all day every day bombarding the beat writers with their insanity.

What’s wrong with the Seahawks?  A shitload!

And, unsurprisingly, I’m going to start with the offensive line.  Most fans would point to them and call them Public Enemy Numbers 1-5.  Most in the national media keep harping over how little we spend on our line, either via draft capital or free agency dollars.  Some of the savvier local bloggers like to defend the O-Line as much as possible, pointing to things like Russell Wilson holding the ball too long, or how they haven’t been “that bad” compared to the level of competition we’ve played through the first two weeks.

I’ll say this:  the offensive line IS a problem, and it’s probably the biggest problem.  It’s the reason why the Seahawks can’t effectively move the football against anyone with a Top 10 defense.  You can deflect blame all you want, but turning Russell Wilson into a pocket passer who gets the ball out in 2 seconds or less isn’t going to make a difference.  This isn’t the New England offense, and he isn’t Tom Brady.  He’s a guy who needs time for plays to develop, so he can make plays downfield.  If we’re going to try to be this quick-strike offense (and make no mistake, it’s 100% because the O-Line is terrible and can’t hold a block for more than 0.5 seconds), you know what that’s going to lead to?  10 guys in the box, press coverage on the outside, and a complete and utter inability to formulate a running game.

The Seahawks don’t dink & dunk.  The Seahawks play smashmouth football, with regularly executed deep strikes through the air.  I’d rather have Russell Wilson hitting 60% of his passes, with a high average per attempt than have him hit 70% of his passes with a low average per attempt.  On the spectrum of short passers, he’s more closely resembling Sam Bradford than he is Philip Rivers, and that’s NOT what we’ve come to expect out of this offense!

Now, obviously, this problem O-Line would be mitigated if our quarterback could run, but again, whose fault is that?  Oh, that’s right, the sieve of an O-Line that’s letting guys get free runs at our most valuable offensive weapon.  Just because this unit can nut up once every 20 pass attempts and actually block for a reasonable amount of time doesn’t give them a pass for all the times they let guys run free and clean at our quarterback!

At the very least, you could hang your hat on this team having a viable running game.  Even against the very best defenses, we’d ALWAYS be able to get yards on the ground to help matters along.  But, we haven’t been able to do a damn thing on the ground this year!  Thomas Rawls is a fantastic running back, and he’s getting hit in the backfield more in these first two games than he did ALL of last year!  It doesn’t seem to affect Christine Michael as much, but I’ve noticed he doesn’t always stick with what the play calls for.  He’s a guy who’s always naturally going to want to bounce things outside, to get into open space and see if he can make some moves for some home run-type plays; but he’s been doing that WAY more than usual, and it’s been out of necessity.  Rawls is great, but he doesn’t have Michael’s quicks or his cutting ability, but that’s neither here nor there because he didn’t have those things LAST year either, when he was averaging 5.6 yards per carry!

Of course, Wilson’s injury doesn’t help matters any in the running game either.  A hobbled Wilson means defenses don’t have to worry about him tucking and running, which means they can focus all their energies on the back he inevitably hands the ball off to.  You’d think that would lead to more traditional handoffs, where Wilson takes the ball from under center – so at the VERY least we can make better use of play-action in the passing game, to try to open things up that way – but NOPE!

Because ultimately, this falls squarely on Darrell Bevell’s shoulders.  He spent the better part of these first two games running an offense with a healthy Russell Wilson in mind, when he should’ve been adjusting for the fact that Wilson can’t run.  At this point, you have to dig deeper into the playbook.  Recall that Tarvaris Jackson was once this team’s starter, and try to remember what plays HE used to run.  Because, let’s face it, Tarvar was never a running quarterback, and right now, neither is Russell Wilson.

Oh, and the best part?  They STILL haven’t figured out how to get the ball to Jimmy Graham in the redzone!  Oh, what a joy it’ll be, when people can’t fall back on the Seahawks “bringing him along slowly” routine and we return to the weekly lament about how Graham gets no redzone targets because Darrell Bevell is a mental midget and Russell Wilson is a literal one.

And don’t think the defense is getting off any easier in this thing.  You want a medal for holding the Dolphins to 10 points and the Rams to 9?  Bravo, you did your fucking job against two inept quarterbacks.  You look to be well on your way to another league championship in fewest points given up, but you’ll also forgive me if I don’t line you up to suck each of your dicks.

Hey guys, where’s the fucking turnovers?  Are you shitting me?  You can’t get teams led by Ryan Tannehill and Case Fucking Keenum to turn the ball over to you?  When – SPOILER ALERT – Keenum threw 2 picks against the 49ers last week, and Tannehill did the same against the Pats this week (on top of a couple of fumbles the Pats were able to force)!  I mean, shit guys, how about a short fucking field for once!  How about making it so the offense doesn’t have to fucking go 90 yards for a touchdown every God damn drive!  How about, when our offense flips the field position, and we’re able to down the ball inside the 10 yard line, you NUT THE FUCK UP and force a 3 & Out to give us BACK our good field position???

You have to understand, Michael Bennett and all the rest, that you haven’t done shit yet.  The defense has been good, but not great.  Not dominant.  Not elite.  An elite defense would’ve held the Rams to 3 points, or 0 points, not 9.  An elite defense would see that their offense is in trouble, that their best skill position players (from Baldwin, to Lockett, to Graham, to Rawls, to Prosise) are banged up, and their all-world quarterback is a shell of his former self as he tries to play through a high ankle sprain, and that elite defense would step the fuck up and shut out an offense like the Rams.  Like the Dolphins.  Like the 49ers next week.

And that defensive coordinator needs to realize his defense is giving up too many big plays.  Dan Quinn and Gus Bradley knew how to scheme well and prevent those big plays.  This has only become a problem since Kris Richard took over.  Maybe the job is too much for him.  Well, management better fucking figure that shit out and put someone in there who’s up to the task.  Because, we can’t be fucking away these seasons when everyone is in their prime, just to coddle a fucking defensive coordinator who isn’t ready for the fucking job.

Beat the 49ers you sacks of shit!  Or, don’t be surprised when you see more 12s dumping all over you.

Seahawks Win Yet Another Seahawky Game

It was just one of those fucking things, you know?  Be happy with the victory and try to forget about it.

Except, how can we, what with Russell Wilson’s ankle injury sure to dominate the local conversation this week?  I’ll say this about the play:  it sure LOOKED like an accident, the way Ndamukong Suh hit him, causing his ankle to twist an unnatural way, but that big fucking galoot – known for more than his fair share of intentionally dirty hits – sure has a knack for injuring guys.  When you’re as athletic and as talented as Suh, there’s a way to make that play where it doesn’t hobble our quarterback.  Likewise, when you’re as athletic and as talented as Suh, you probably learn new ways to make dirty hits look “accidental”.  So, fuck that guy, I hope his ACL snaps real soon.

By all rights, the Seahawks should’ve lost that game.  On top of the fact that Russell couldn’t move after his ankle injury, the team in general couldn’t run the ball whatsoever.  That made us one-dimensional for most of the game, and with our makeshift O-Line against their front four full of studs, we had to be extra careful in the passing game, often limiting us to shorter, quicker throws.  Since we’re not the San Diego Chargers, and our quarterback isn’t Philip Rivers, that’s not exactly our forte, and we struggled accordingly.  By and large, we weren’t getting open in the conventional ways we normally get open, which left us grasping at straws on third down.  It wasn’t until that final drive where we hit on a couple of 4th down conversions, but we pretty much started out that drive in 4-down territory, so that likely dictated our play-calling on 3rd down.

Defensively, we were as savage as I can remember.  But, again, PROBABLY should’ve lost that game.  Kenny Stills got behind everyone, only to drop what would’ve been a HUGE touchdown early in the game.  Earl Thomas struggled like I can’t remember him ever struggling before.  There were more missed tackles than I like to see.  But, for the most part, the defense was on point.  The Dolphins had five 3 & Outs and had to punt 7 times on the day.  There was another critical stop by Kam Chancellor early in the game on 4th down that at the very least prevented them from scoring 3 points.  That’s on top of a mammoth blocked field goal by Cassius Marsh early in the 4th quarter to keep our 3-point lead intact.

Indeed, the way the defense was going, I wondered if we could hold on and make it a 6-3 final.  But, of course, as soon as I started to seriously maintain that line of thinking, midway through the 4th quarter, the Dolphins finally managed a competent scoring drive to take a 10-6 lead.  I’d be curious to know if, defensively, we played that drive any differently than we had up to that point.  From my naked eye and limited football acumen, it didn’t look totally out of character:  lots of zone, a blitz or two sprinkled in.  But, it was almost shocking the way the Dolphins were able to get in the endzone, considering how much we’d dominated them to that point.  It’s not fair to expect a defense to be perfect for a full game, but there you go again:  another lead blown by that unit late in the game, in remarkably easy fashion.

I was pretty sick about the whole thing once Miami went ahead.  The Seahawks got the ball back with a little over 4 minutes to go in the game, and with the way Wilson was immobilized, and the way our offense had performed in general, it wasn’t looking likely we’d go down there and score a touchdown.  Then, I remembered I was the only person left in our Eliminator pool who didn’t pick the Seahawks this week, and I knew the gambling gods wouldn’t let me win it all in Week 1 (the fact that I had the Cardinals, who would go on to lose later that night, was further proof that the gambling gods hate me to no end).

Sure enough, the drive started out bumpy as hell, but the Seahawks put themselves in position to win it, and did so with a nifty little fade to Doug Baldwin on the left side of the endzone.  We’d go on to miss the extra point – because apparently that’s what the NFL likes:  ineptitude – but it would go on to not matter, because our defense quickly rediscovered our edge and made mincemeat of Ryan Tannehill.

Christine Michael got the start in this one, and looked okay, but also looked like he biffed a couple of assignments.  Thomas Rawls nearly matched him touch for touch, in spite of the discrepency in snaps (Michael out-snapped him by a wide margin), and while neither of their numbers were all that impressive, I liked the way they looked together.  Rawls will get you those difficult yards Marshawn Lynch used to get; Michael will slash and dash for large chunks of yardage, and is the consummate home run threat at tailback.  Just when a defense figures out how to stop one guy, you bring in the other for a total change of pace.  It does nothing for me in fantasy – as long as both are healthy, they both remain non-starters for fantasy purposes – but as a fan, it’s as much as I could’ve hoped for, what with Lynch’s retirement and all.

Doug Baldwin, on the other hand, is a guy you MUST start in fantasy, as he’s definitely Russell Wilson’s go-to guy, particularly in or near the red zone.  Yesterday, he caught 9 balls for 92 yards and that game-winning touchdown, and I think it’s just the start of a legitimate Pro Bowl season.

Tyler Lockett didn’t do a whole lot, and had a couple drops (one of them punched out by Byron Maxwell, but even then, had he caught it cleanly to begin with, he might’ve been able to hold onto it through contact).  He’ll need to do better, as Wilson looked his way early and often on third down in this one, resulting in a couple drives being stalled.

Jimmy Graham got into it a little bit.  I didn’t see him at all in the first half, but he played pretty regularly in the second half, though he looked like more of a decoy than anything else.  Nevertheless, he did catch one ball on that touchdown drive to get us a first down en route to the endzone.  Assuming he feels no ill effects from the game, I look forward to his re-emergence as the team continues to bring him slowly back.

C.J. Prosise had a nifty catch and run for a first down early in the game, but had to leave with a sprained wrist.  I don’t know what that means for his availability going forward – he might miss a game or two – but it sure limits us on third down.  Where’s Troymaine Pope when you need him?  Oh, right, with the Jets.

Defensively, I don’t know where to start, except yes I do, and it’s Bobby Wagner.  Oh man, WHAT A GAME!  He didn’t lead the team in tackles, but the ones he made sure counted, as all 6 were solo tackles.  He also had a couple QB hits, and they weren’t cheapies.  That’s what I talk about when I talk about a guy making his presence felt.  Wagner had his hands all over this game.

K.J. Wright was the leading tackler with 11, and he too had a QB hit, as well as a sack, and a tackle for loss.  The rest of the NFL has been slow to catch on to his greatness, but he’s the main reason why you’ll hear people around the Seahawks say this team has the best linebacking corps in the league.  He’s also the main reason why you don’t totally dismiss those people out of hand for their homerism.  Wright and Wagner, as far as one-two punches at the linebacker position are concerned – particularly with the way most teams ONLY play two linebackers, with how pass-wacky the league has become – are as good as any one-two linebacker punches in the league.

Richard Sherman stood out, one for his obvious dominance in coverage, as I don’t recall him letting anyone catch anything around him, but also for his tackling.  He made a couple of the most impressive open-field tackles in the game, where had he missed, they would’ve gone for huge gains.  Never take for granted Sherman’s tackling; it’s truly a precious and wonderful thing.

DeShawn Shead gets his own set of kudos.  The whole secondary played pretty well, aside from Earl on a few bad plays that stuck out like a sore thumb, but Shead looked like the real deal Holyfield.  The L.O.B. has had a number of quality cornerbacks opposite Richard Sherman.  Brandon Browner famously made the Pro Bowl in 2011 and helped give this unit its edge in its infancy, Byron Maxwell replaced Browner and helped lead us to a championship in 2013 before going on to a huge free agent payday, but Shead might be the best of them all.  He broke up a couple passes, and was an all-around force the likes of which I haven’t seen since teams stopped trying to challenge Richard Sherman in 2014.  I’m fully on the bandwagon now; look for Shead to have a HUGE year this year.

The D-Line as a whole stepped up in a big way.  Bennett, Avril, Clark, and even Marsh all had sacks on the day.  The Nascar lineup looks as fast and disruptive as it was in 2013.  And, the interior didn’t disappoint, holding the Dolphins to only 64 yards on 3.2 yards per carry.  Also, hat tip to Jarran Reed for two big batted balls at the line of scrimmage.  I hope that’s, like, a thing he’s randomly, weirdly good at, because it would be huge for our interception numbers this year.

Also, let’s go ahead and give kudos to Marsh again, as well as Mike Morgan on special teams.  Marsh had that blocked field goal, as well as a couple monster hits on returns.  And, if it wasn’t Marsh, it was Morgan who was always around the runner with the ball, ensuring his immediate introduction to the turf.  Can’t say enough about how well we covered punts and kickoffs in this one.

Look, all in all, I’m as not-thrilled as the rest of you with how the game played out.  Obviously, it would’ve been a million times worse had the Seahawks fallen short at the end, but there are positives to take away.  Defensively, in particular.  Reasons for hope on offense include the fact that Wilson was never actually knocked out of the game.  So, the ankle injury can’t be THAT bad.  By the same token, he couldn’t really run on it, and that sucks every dick in the free world when you think about how we’re playing the Rams next week.  Looking better offensively than we did against the Dolphins should be completely off the table right now.  Even winning this game at all is dodgy at best.  Getting Wilson through the game without making the ankle worse needs to be our top priority.  From there, we get a nothing game against the 49ers, followed by another fucking massive D-Line with the Jets.  What was once looking like a viable 4-0 start now has 2-2 written all over it.  I guess the early BYE week this year will actually come in handy for once.

Other reasons for optimism, if you really want to grasp at some straws, is that after this initial 4-game set, we don’t really face a dominating D-Line again until December, when we face the Panthers.  So, you know, we’ve got that going for us.

If by some miracle, we’re able to keep Wilson upright – which, hint hint Darrell Bevell, is going to require you to leave your tight ends in to chip A LOT MORE than you did against the Dolphins – the rest of the skill position players look up to the task of picking up our hobbled QB1.  Fingers crossed.