Predicting The 2021 NFL Season

YES! My favorite post of the year! Back again, boys and girls! Here are all of my prior entries:

First thing’s first: let’s take a look back at how I did last year.

Welp, bad start with the NFC East: I was all in on Dallas and had Washington dead last. That’s a big 0 or 1 right out of the box.

Big whiff on the NFC North: for some reason I was EXTREMELY high on the Vikings last year, who finished 7-9. I shorted the Packers (but gave them a wild card berth), who finished 13-3. And, I said the Bears were “heading in the wrong direction” even though they finished 8-8 and made the playoffs. I was only correct about the Lions, but who couldn’t see that coming?

Ugh, the less said about my NFC South prediction the better: I had … the Falcons winning it? I did have Tampa second, but not making the playoffs, famously saying their defense was “a year or two away”. Yikes. You don’t read this blog for expert analysis, do you? How am I getting WORSE at these picks the more I do them?!

God, even my NFC West take was horrible: I had the Rams winning it (they did make the wild card), with both the 49ers and Seahawks making the wild card (in that order). Of course, in reality the 49ers were in last place after a bunch of injuries; hard to blame me for not predicting that.

All right, not too terrible with the AFC East: I nailed the Buffalo division winner. Buuuuut, I had the Pats making a wild card.

I’m quite happy with my AFC North prediction: I had all of Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland making the playoffs (they did!). I did have the Ravens winning the division instead of the Steelers, but otherwise I’m taking that as a win.

I’ll accept partial credit for my AFC South take: I loved Indy; not so much Tennessee. I didn’t have Houston making the playoffs, but never anticipated they’d be as bad as they were. I nailed Jacksonville getting the #1 overall pick.

As for the AFC West: good stuff in making KC my number one overall team; bad stuff in saying that Justin Herbert wouldn’t be the Chargers’ quarterback of the future. It is what it is.

If we just count playoff teams, I got 9 out of 14 (though I got 6 out of 7 in the AFC). I only got 1 out of 4 teams in the conference championship games – the Chiefs – but I had … Jesus Christ, the Vikings over the Ravens in the Super Bowl. Fucking A.

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All right, wash that taste out of your mouth! It’s all uphill from here! Without further ado.

NFC East

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Washington Football Team
  • New York Giants
  • Philadelphia Eagles

I’m going to say we’re going to have most of a full season (if not ALL) out of Dak, and that ultimately makes all the difference. There’s lots of Washington chatter, and I don’t blame you; that defense is legit. But, Fitzmagic? I’m out; I think he’s good for maybe 9 wins. I think Dallas can get to 10. The Giants likely won’t be as bad as people expect, but I still think they’re around 6-7 wins. The Eagles MIGHT be as bad as people expect; either way, I don’t think the NFC East will be the punching bag people have come to anticipate.

NFC North

  • Green Bay Packers
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions

We’re not fucking around this year. The Packers have won 13 games the last two years and I think that will stay the same this year. I don’t know what to say about the Vikings after last year’s display of futility; probably won’t be worse? The Bears will take a step back with Dalton, before taking a step forward with Fields. The Lions will continue to be a punching bag.

NFC South

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers

I know I’m going to be screwed by the Bucs in one way, shape, or form. They do have the target on their backs, but there’s just SO MUCH talent on that team. I guess Brady could start showing his age, or injuries could take a toll, but I dunno. I’m going with the safe pick this year. I kind of like Jameis; is that weird? I mean, I like him on this team, in this offense. I think they’ll be okay! I don’t know anything about the Falcons, but I hear they could be frisky. The Panthers seem the opposite of frisky; lethargic, I guess? Sam Darnold sucks.

NFC West

  • Los Angeles Rams
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Arizona Cardinals

I wanted to put the Seahawks as the division winner here, but the more I think about it, the more I’m concerned by this team. First-year offensive coordinator; you think there won’t be growing pains? You think there won’t be frustrating losses where the offense can’t move the ball? I’ll have more on this on Friday’s official season preview, but it just looks like the Rams are too stacked. Stafford will throw for 5,000 yards and they’re probably in line for the top seed in the NFC. The 49ers are just all-around talented, and regression should dictate a healthier season from them. I still like the Seahawks to crack the wild card though. And the Cards should play around .500 ball again.

AFC East

  • Buffalo Bills
  • New England Patriots
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New York Jets

I think this is the easiest division to predict; Buffalo by a mile (and the AFC’s top seed). I think the Pats are improved across the board and will get just enough game-managing out of their rookie quarterback to sneak into the wild card. I think Tua is a bust and will hamper the Dolphins, though they’ll be close to making a wild card. I think the Jets are the Jets.

AFC North

  • Cleveland Browns
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals

We’re not going to see three playoff teams from this division this year, and the odd-team-out will be the Ravens. The way the injury bug is decimating this team already, I think they’re in for a Year From Hell season. I think the Browns simply have too much talent throughout that team to be held back. I think the Steelers will figure out their O-Line and continue to dominate along the D-Line. I think the Bengals will continue to grow with Burrow, but it’s going to be another year or two before we can consider them playoff material.

AFC South

  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Houston Texans
  • Jacksonville Jaguars

I would say I’m a quasi Carson Wentz believer. Behind a good offensive line, with a great head coach, I think he can be special. The Colts’ defense is underrated; the only question is their receivers (especially with T.Y. Hilton out). I think the Titans come close to making the playoffs, but that defense is just too awful. A lot of people are predicting the Texans to have the worst record in football, but I think Tyrod Taylor will pull it out in enough of those 50/50 games they play with other terrible teams. Don’t get me wrong; Houston is probably still winning 3-4 games, but that should be more than the Jags.

AFC West

  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders

I think the Chiefs and Bills will fight to the bitter end for that top seed, but the Bills will prevail. The Chargers are more of an aspirational pick for me, because I think they’re fun. I also think their defense is a little underrated, and with proper head coaching, they should be in line for a record boost. I think the Broncos will be steady, maybe 9-8. I think the Raiders will fall on their faces pretty hard, with Jon Gruden on the hottest of seats.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Dallas Cowboys
  5. San Francisco 49ers
  6. Seattle Seahawks
  7. Washington Football Team

AFC Playoffs

  1. Buffalo Bills
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. New England Patriots
  7. Los Angeles Chargers

Two playoff teams from the NFC East? Have I learned NOTHING?!

Wild Card Round

  • Green Bay over Washington
  • Seattle over Tampa Bay
  • Dallas over San Francisco
  • Kansas City over Los Angeles
  • New England over Cleveland
  • Pittsburgh over Indianapolis

Divisional Round

  • Los Angeles over Seattle
  • Green Bay over Dallas
  • Buffalo over New England
  • Pittsburgh over Kansas City

Championship Round

  • Los Angeles over Green Bay
  • Buffalo over Pittsburgh

Super Bowl

  • Buffalo over Los Angeles

My backup guess is Buffalo over the Packers, but either way I’m all in on the Bills. Since I was all in on the Vikings last year, they should be TERRIFIED. Buffalo just seems like a juggernaut any way you slice it, though.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Return Of The Splinter League

My fantasy column (which is really just an excuse to complain about my fantasy teams, but also lets me provide my analysis on a variety of players and matchups on a weekly basis) has been a regular feature on my blog since 2018. You can catch up on the types of leagues I’m in HERE. I mostly just talk about my Main League, one I used to be commissioner of since its infancy back in the 2003-range. I’m still in it – with a group of my oldest friends – though I’m no longer in charge. I went and started my own Splinter League with some friends who are in the Main League, as well as some other friends, and it’s much more lowkey and casual. Both are 2-QB leagues that heavily skew towards more points for the quarterbacks (since they’re the most important players in the real NFL, I feel this is valid for fantasy as well).

The Splinter League is much more QB-friendly (15 yards per point, compared to 20 in the Main League; both are 6-point touchdowns and -4 points for INTs). Anyway, I’ll have more to say about the Main League at another time, but my Splinter League team just had its draft on Sunday night, so let’s get into it!

This year’s Splinter League team name is BUCK FUTTER, from the infamous SNL Jeopardy! sketch. It’s an okay name, but I didn’t have a lot of inspiration this year, especially after trying to compete with last year’s Pound Some Cunth, which was *chef’s kiss*.

I’m mostly just excited because I drafted a really good team. I’m not the only one who thinks so, as Yahoo – on draft day – pegged me for a 14-1 record this season. Just a day removed – even though Yahoo has tinkered with the projected standings of other teams – I remain with that 14-1 prognostication. I was also the only team to get an A grade by Yahoo (the next-highest was a B; then there’s a B-, with everyone else in the C-range in our 10-team league).

I logged on 30 minutes prior to find I was drafting 9th. That means that – again, with our scoring system being what it is – most of the top tier quarterbacks would be taken. The guy with the first draft pick never showed and had his team auto-drafted by Yahoo; as a result, Yahoo drafted him a team the way it would in any old league (i.e. eschewing quarterbacks early for running backs and receivers). CMC was the first overall pick. Then it went: Mahomes, Allen, Brady, Dalvin Cook, Wilson, Kyler, and Lamar (the Cook guy also temporarily forgot about the scoring system, but that’s not a bad alternative for him).

So, I was left with the guy I picked – Aaron Rodgers – among players like Tannehill, Dak, Herbert, Hurts, Stafford, and Lawrence. The 10th pick in the snake went with Zeke Elliott and Tannehill back-to-back, which left me in the illustrious position of getting Alvin Kamara with my second round pick. Outstanding! I’ve never had him on a fantasy team before and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s with me now (with no Brees, and lots of question marks on that Saints offense).

I had the usual LONG wait before I got to my third and fourth picks. I opted for Matthew Stafford over Trevor Lawrence to close out the third round (I never considered for a second going with either Baker Mayfield or Matt Ryan, who both went later in the fourth round). I’ll say this: if the Splinter League were a keeper league, it would’ve been Lawrence all day. But, we do full redrafts here, and I’m not willing to jump on the Lawrence bandwagon if there’s no long-term benefit for me. There will be lots of yards thrown, but I also anticipate lots of turnovers that will hurt him. I also wanted to go with Stafford because – like Rodgers – he’s on a team that’s going to be in the running with the Seahawks for the top seed in the NFC. If I have any bad mojo on me, and it carries over to those guys, all the better for my beloved Seahawks. Otherwise, if they play as well as I expect them to, I should have no problems at the quarterback position in 2021 (for this league, anyway).

With my fourth round pick, I nabbed Najee Harris. This is a guy I LOVED in college, and desperately wished my Seahawks could’ve somehow gotten in the real NFL draft. I was burned last year in my Main League with rookie running back CEH, but Harris seems like a slam dunk as long as he stays healthy. I can’t remember the last time I had two running backs I was so fond of! If you let me hand-pick any two running backs for my fantasy team, it would’ve been Kamara and Harris. I know guys just say things like that all the time, but for me it’s true. I think both will be durable, as well as points hogs both in the running and passing games. Plus, they’re just fun players to watch (unless they’re going against your team, then you’re never more miserable, particularly when they’re going off).

With another long wait between picks, a lot of good receivers were going off the board. I had no shot at the upper tier guys (Tyreek, Davante, Kelce, D.K., Hopkins, Diggs, and Ridley all went in rounds 2 and 3 between my picks), and players I was potentially eyeballing for the end of the fifth round, like Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, and particularly CeeDee Lamb, were all swiped from me (Lamb one spot prior). I could’ve gone after the Rams guys – Kupp & Woods – to pair them with my quarterback; I could’ve had Tyler Lockett, Amari Cooper, or even Julio for that matter. But, inspiration struck, and I decided to ride the bandwagon of another prominent Seahawks opponent in the NFC in the Tampa Bay Bucs. I got Chris Godwin in the 5th, and swung around and took Mike Evans in the 6th. People are down on Evans, but I still like his touchdown potential if he stays healthy. Godwin is playing for a new contract next year and I expect him to be fired up to make a big splash this year, statswise. I’ll put both of them in my starting lineup together and hope Tom Brady can give it another run (big “if”, I know).

With my next two picks, I was looking for Best Skill Position Available, as the Splinter League has two flex spots (and no mandatory tight end spot, though you could play TE at either/both flex spots if you wanted). Adam Thielen was sniped from me one pick prior, so I settled for Tee Higgins, who is a guy I really like anyway. I had a chance to make him a keeper in my Main League, but was ultimately scared off by the two other quality receivers they have in that offense. Nevertheless, I expect Higgins to continue to produce as long as Joe Burrow is healthy. When the draft whipped around, I got the other running back I wanted: Darrell Henderson. With Cam Akers out for the year, Henderson seems like a strong bet to break out in the Rams’ offense. There’s a chance Sony Michel takes some of his carries (particularly at the goalline), but there’s a reason why the Patriots gave up on Michel: he stinks. I might end up handcuffing the two at some point, but for now Henderson is the safer bet.

I opted to continue going Best Skill Position Available in the 9th & 10th rounds, settling on Mark Andrews first. I’m already iffy on that, but Gus Edwards was sniped from me one pick prior (seriously, that guy who drafted 8th fucked me no less than three times). I also didn’t love the value I was getting on defenses at that spot (the elite defenses were already taken, meaning I had some questionable ones left over), nor did I love the value on a backup quarterback (which I’ll talk about later). Andrews gets a lot of looks around the goalline with the Ravens, so he’s very TD-dependent; he also can get a case of the dropsies which is frustrating. Nevertheless, he’s a fringe flex guy for me until I can find someone more dependable. When we whipped around to the 10th round, Michael Thomas was still sitting there and I jumped on him.

Michael Thomas is one of the biggest question marks of this year’s fantasy football drafting world: when do you take a chance? He’s injured, he’s unhappy with the Saints, and they have a non-Brees starting quarterback heading into a season for the first time in forever. When will he be healthy enough to play again, and how will he fit into the offense? I’m hoping he’ll be back by October, and I’m hoping he returns to being one of the most dominant players in football. For a 10th round flier? Absolutely! Plus, I can stash him in my IR spot until he plays again. No brainer whatsoever.

By the 11th and 12th rounds, it was time to get a defense and a third quarterback. Somehow, the 49ers’ defense was still there, so I grabbed them. But, waiting until the 12th round meant I had slim pickins for QB. I opted for Zach Wilson, not because I believe in the Jets rookie, but because he seemed to be the best of a bunch of terrible options (including Sam Darnold, Jared Goff, and Jimmy G).

The thing with quarterback for me was: Stafford has a BYE in week 11, and Rodgers has his in week 13. Some of these guys – like Jimmy G – might not have their starting jobs that late into the season! Zach Wilson isn’t going anywhere, unless he gets injured or is supremely inept. If he’s halfway competent, he’ll give me the two games I want out of him. Teddy Bridgewater would’ve been a perfectly fine option, but he has a week 11 BYE as well, so that defeats the purpose. I didn’t have room to keep a fourth QB, nor would I want to if I did. I’d rather have a second defense, if anything, just in case!

The guys who ended up on the free agent scrap heap include Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, the aforementioned Jimmy G, Andy Dalton, and, of course, Taysom Hill. Rookies who aren’t even starting yet were drafted ahead of all these guys! It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. I have zero faith whatsoever in Zach Wilson, though. If anyone else even remotely interesting becomes available, I won’t hesitate to waive him.

In the 13th round, D.J. Chark was still available; that’s excellent value, in my book. That meant I missed out on snagging the Patriots’ defense (which I think will be good this year), who was taken with the very next pick, but oh well. With my 14th and final selection, I took a flier on a lottery ticket in Darnell Mooney, wide receiver for the Bears. He has strong sleeper potential in an offense that could be better than we give it credit for. I don’t know if he’ll be long for my roster either, but that’s okay. You can’t make an omelette without scrambling some eggs, or some damn thing.

One thing that leaps out about this team is how razor thin I am in my depth at quarterback and running back. Rodgers and Stafford just can’t get hurt, period, end of discussion. If they go down for any length of time, I’m probably screwed. Similarly, I only have Kamara, Harris, and Henderson. I need to play a minimum of two running backs every week. Thankfully, they all have different BYE weeks, but what are the odds they play every single game? Slim-to-none. So, I’ll have to work my magic on the waiver wire at some point (I have #2 priority after the draft, so I’ll want to use that to my advantage).

I get an extra roster spot with Michael Thomas on IR, so that helps. I have a couple players in mind as we get into the week that I’ll be looking to snag. Then, it’s just the long wait until the regular season starts!

I don’t know how this column is going to look this year, but I imagine it’ll be heavily discussing my Main League. However, I’ll also devote a section in each one to my Splinter League team. It’s too good and interesting to just ignore completely!

I’m also joining a third league – ran by my brother’s friend – but it’s going to be too confusing if I bring a third into the mix, so we’ll let that one go, unless I absolutely get a bug up my ass about it.

Sigh, The Russell Wilson Temper Tantrum Continues

What did I JUST SAY? God, this is so dumb.

There was a big article that came out yesterday that I didn’t read, because I don’t subscribe to The Athletic. But, I follow enough Seahawks-adjacent people on Twitter to get the jist of it. Russell Wilson – according to some – “approached the Seahawks about a trade”. Now, just to keep things above board, according to Wilson’s camp, he did not demand a trade, but if such a deal were to happen, they did give a list of teams he would agree to go to.

How thoughtful of you.

I mean, call it what you want, but when you have a No-Trade Clause built into your contract, and you approach your current organization with a list of teams you’d be willing to play for – if something were to magically form out of thin air, I guess! – can we please stop shitting a shitter and just call it what it is? You can nudge-nudge, wink-wink your way through all of this if you want, but we all know what’s happening here.

In the report in The Athletic, the teams mentioned were the Jets, Dolphins, Raiders, and Saints. However, according to Wilson’s crew, those teams are actually the Cowboys, Saints, Raiders, and Bears.

Here’s the thing: Russell Wilson isn’t the be-all, end-all of quarterbacks in the NFL. We all know that. Yes, he’s VERY good. Yes, he’s one of the 3-5 best quarterbacks in the game today. Yes, he is that proverbial Franchise Quarterback everyone talks about. You obviously don’t need Russell Wilson to win a championship in the NFL, but you DO need a franchise quarterback. And so, while I am willing to listen to any trade offers, they will be a total non-starter if we don’t get a franchise quarterback in return.

There aren’t many teams who have that to pony up. Of the four teams on Wilson’s list, arguably only the Cowboys have someone they could send us, but that’s Dak Prescott (who would need to be franchise tagged first, who is also coming off of a DEVASTATING injury to his ankle). I have no interest in the Raiders’ Derek Carr, nor whoever the Bears and Saints have on their scrap heap.

Of the teams The Athletic brought up, the Jets and Dolphins make the most sense. I don’t know how the Seahawks feel about Tua Tagovailoa, but if they believe in his potential to hit it big, between that and all the draft picks they could send our way, I don’t think the Seahawks would take much of a hit in the short term, before returning back to prominence. As for the Jets, they can keep Sam Darnold, or fucking throw him to the God damn wolves, but I want no part of him on the Seattle Seahawks. The Jets do, however, have about a million high draft picks (including #2 overall, as well as both of the first rounders we sent to them in the Jamal Adams trade). I’d be willing to entertain a conversation that afforded the Seahawks the opportunity to draft the second quarterback this year.

New York and Miami would be obvious choices for Wilson as well when it comes to whatever business empire he’s building for his post-football life. Frankly, I don’t see why he wouldn’t want to go to those teams.

But, that’s everything, isn’t it? He gets to choose. He gets to hold the Seahawks hostage in this deal. I know I JUST talked about not automatically jumping to the defense of the billionaire organizations in these types of arguments, but what can I say? I root for clothes. I’ll say this: I think the no-trade clause is a brilliant idea for the player. You shouldn’t have to worry about waking up one day and find out you’ve just been dealt to some also-ran because your team got tired of you. But, if YOU are the one demanding (or requesting, or approaching, or whatever) for a trade, then you can’t just waive your no-trade clause for the few teams you like. You have to leave the team open to maximize its value for you. Remember, YOU want out; the team would rather honor its contract. So, it makes no sense to then restrict the Seahawks.

Really, Russell Wilson needs to get his priorities together. Does he want to win football games? Or does he want to put up tons of numbers and win MVP awards? It’s fine to want both, but you HAVE to value one over the other, so which is it? If he truly wants to win, then as I’ve argued before, Seattle is one of the best places for him. But, if he’s going to be a poopy pants about the offense not being high-flying enough, then he’s full of shit when he says his ultimate goal is to win.

You know what winners say? Winners say, “I don’t care if I have to hand the ball off 100% of the time, as long as our team comes away victorious.” You know what stats-obsessed prima donnas say? “I’m tired of being hit so much and I want to run the offense my way.”

As has been discussed, Russell Wilson is one of the most media-savvy people in the NFL. He’s been able to elude controversy just as he has so many defensive linemen barrelling down on him. But, there’s a tremendous amount of insincerity when you know exactly what he’s going to say before he’s said it, because he’s already said it a million times before. He’s phony. When his brain is on autopilot in an interview, and his mouth is running a thousand words per minute, there’s no one who says less with more. But, when he’s pressed to give an honest answer – like in that infamous Dan Patrick interview a few weeks ago – he stammers and stutters and sometimes lets slip out the actual, honest truth. It’s rare, though. But, in those moments, you can see what Russell Wilson is all about.

Russell Wilson is all about Russell Wilson. That shouldn’t be shocking; there are countless other quarterbacks on countless other football teams who are the exact same way. That doesn’t make him a bad guy, or a bad player. But, as a fan, it’s hard, because it feels like we’re all being gaslighted. I don’t know how else to reconcile the lip-service he pays towards winning, while at the same time forcing himself out of one of the winningest organizations in the league.

I dunno, maybe Pete Carroll really sucks that much. That’s always on the table too, I suppose.

The Seahawks Did, In Fact, Destroy The Jets

You knew this was going to happen. After the utterly disgusting effort put forth against the Giants, the Seahawks SURELY were going to make mincemeat of a winless Jets team. This is one of those performances – a 40-3 blowout in every facet of the game – that papers over a lot of what’s been wrong with the Seahawks since the BYE week, but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security. This is still THAT team, it just had the great fortune to play against one of the very worst teams in a generation.

This felt like a pre-season game. To the point that Geno Smith got to lead the offense for the entire fourth quarter! We had backups playing across the board (as much as you can, anyway, with regular season roster sizes being what they are) for the final frame, and it was a refreshing change of pace. We don’t see many blowout Seahawks victories. I savored every minute of it.

While, again, recognizing it for the aberration that it was. There’s nothing to learn from a game like this. Russell Wilson threw for 206 yards and 4 touchdowns (while still managing to mix in a horrible interception). Chris Carson ran the ball 12 times for 76 yards and a touchdown; he looked closer to his usual self, but I don’t know if he’ll ever be all the way back to 100% this season. D.K. Metcalf led all receivers with 6 catches for 61 yards and a TD; but Wilson did a great job of spreading the ball around in this one.

Defensively, without Carlos Dunlap, we still managed three more sacks (including one for Jamal Adams, giving him 8.5 on the season, which is an NFL record for most sacks by a defensive back), and were in Sam Darnold’s face all day. It was an especially-refreshing defensive show because we didn’t give up tons of garbage points and yards late. We kept our foot on their necks and didn’t let up; that should help our season-end totals in both regards (obviously the three points is the best we’ve managed all season, as were the 185 total yards).

The only bad thing to come out of this one is Brandon Shell re-injured his ankle. Why we rushed him back to play against his old team is beyond me, but I guess you’ve gotta keep the players happy some way or another. Now, who knows when he’ll be able to return? Hopefully by the start of the playoffs, but we’ve still got three important games left that we NEED to win if we want to take the division and host a game in January.

Otherwise, it was a good game by the Seahawks that I think we needed – if nothing else – to get everyone back on the bandwagon. Those were some dark days following that Giants loss. Now, it’s time to keep the positive momentum going against Washington.

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!

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.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Here We Fucking Go Again

If you want to read about my 2019 fantasy football season, click HERE and you can see all the prior links at the top. And, if you want to read about my 2018 season (which has a lot of good info at the beginning about how our league works), click HERE.

Note: please don’t go back and read all of that. There’s a reason why this series is called, “Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team”. You’ve been warned; this isn’t necessarily a generic fantasy football column like you may be used to, this is specifically about MY team, and if the players I write about happen to be relevant to your situation, then all the better, I guess.

Just a quick reminder: this is a 10-team, 2-quarterback PPR league where quarterback points are slightly inflated compared to standard leagues (20 yards per point, 6 points per TD, -4 points per INT). So, you know, it’s pretty important to have a couple quality quarterbacks.

We had our annual fantasy football meeting last week, without much tweaking of the rules. For our purposes, the league season only counts – as it relates to the championship and related prizes therein – if the NFL completes nine regular season weeks. I don’t think that will be much of an issue, but apparently we have to account for these things in these COVID times. We also are allowed one extra IR spot (on top of the IR spot we already get) specifically if someone is diagnosed with COVID and placed on leave accordingly. Seems unlikely that anyone super good will catch it, so I’m not too concerned.

It’s another year with four keepers, so here are mine:

  • Carson Wentz (QB)
  • Daniel Jones (QB)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  • Josh Jacobs (RB)

The only holdovers from my 2018 squad are Wentz and Elliott. I made an ill-advised trade for Tom Brady midway through last year – costing me Tyreek Hill in the process – and for that I have much regret. Nevertheless, Danny Dimes looks like he has true stud potential, and as someone I held onto all year in spite of not playing him very regularly, I’m pretty devoted to seeing how he plays out in his second season in the league. Josh Jacobs, from the moment I drafted him, was someone I eyeballed as a potential keeper for years to come (and someone I see has a HUGE upgrade over LeVeon Bell, who was mired on a terrible Jets team with a God-awful offensive line).

The only other serious contenders as keepers were the aforementioned Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell. Brady is REALLY intriguing, as we all know he’s now in Tampa, with a ton of weapons, and with an offensive-minded head coach in Bruce Arians. Like many around football, I’m not totally sold on Carson Wentz. The bloom is off the rose with him, even though he played in all 16 games, had a career high in passing yards (4,039) in spite of having no great wide receiver options to throw to, and still had a very commendable 27:7 TD:INT ratio. I don’t know if the weapons situation is all that much improved, but they went after wide receiver HARD in the draft, and hopefully will see some younger guys from prior seasons step up. So, there was a serious look at Brady over Wentz, but in the end Brady is just so old, and that noodle arm looked SO feeble last year. The offense under Arians tends to feature a lot of deep downfield plays in the passing game. I could see Brady starting off the season on fire, but when I would need him the most – in the fantasy playoffs – I just don’t think he’ll have it. Besides that, Wentz is obviously still very young and should still be viable for many more years; Brady is on his very final legs and could be forced into retirement at any time.

As for Bell, I couldn’t tell you what the Jets have done to bolster their O-Line (other than pay a lot of money to George Fant to be their left tackle, a position he’d rarely been asked to play as a member of the Seahawks). I don’t know if I totally buy Bell as still having it. He was a steady fantasy player last year, but he’s getting up there as well, and if that offense continues to struggle, I don’t know if I see him having a lot of TD opportunities. I’m of the opinion that Jacobs will be a superstar, and Elliott already IS a superstar. Kind of a no-brainer there.

In coming in second place in the Consolation Bracket last season, I earned the second overall draft pick in the upcoming draft on Friday, September 4th. This presents me with a unique opportunity. The deadline for everyone to declare their keepers is this Friday, August 28th, so before next week’s column, I should know who’s available to me.

Since there isn’t a ton to write about this early in the pre-season, I’ll try to take a stab at guessing who the keepers will be for the other nine teams (with guys in parentheses being alternate options):

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

Honestly, I’m not in love with any of these potential leftovers. I’m tempted to more or less auto-draft. I’m happy with my keepers, but I was REALLY hoping there’d be someone super exciting for me to select with my #2 overall pick. Thankfully, we have a straight draft, so I’m #2 in every round. By auto-drafting, I figure I can’t do much worse than I’ve been doing over these last dozen or so years.

I haven’t done much of any research so far this off-season, and I don’t know what I’ll end up getting to prior to the draft. My hunch is: not much. Again, being prepared hasn’t done a damn thing for me; my name sure as shit isn’t on that league trophy, I’ll tell you that much!

One idea I’ve been mulling over is using my #2 overall pick on one of the incoming rookies. I have three players in mind, two of them being the most prominent rookie quarterbacks: Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Gun to my head: I like Tua more than Burrow. But, he’s projected to start this season as Miami’s backup, and their BYE week isn’t until Week 11. So, either Ryan Fitzpatrick sucks and Tua’s thrown to the wolves prematurely, and without a proper BYE week to prepare, or FitzMagic continues to do his thing and we don’t see Tua until very late in the season. The point being: there’s a great chance Tua doesn’t help me much at all this year, and I’d be throwing away yet another season trying to get my shit together when it comes to the quarterback position (with a very small, but important chance that Tua is the next Mahomes and I’d be missing out on my one and only opportunity at getting in on his ground floor).

It just figures that I have this great draft pick for the first time in YEARS, and there are no real stud running backs that would change the course of my fantasy franchise for years to come. Where’s MY Saquon Barkley?!

We’ll see, though. Once the keepers are locked in place, I’ll hop back into the league site and see who Yahoo thinks I should take. It does seem kind of idiotic to have a third quarterback on my roster before even getting ONE wide receiver. At some point, I need to stop playing for the future and start playing for today.

How many times have I admonished myself the last few years by saying that very same thing?

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Thank God It’s Fucking Over

I lost the Consolation Bracket Championship Game, because of course I did. NEWSFLASH: Guy Loses To Guy Who Has Lamar Jackson; WEIRD!

I’m happy for one thing and one thing only: Danny Dimes scored me 48.80 points this week. That’s four weeks out of a possible 11 games where he scored 39+ points, which for a rookie is something to build upon.

So, all I’ve got to do now is figure out who my four keepers are going to be. Dimes is one of them, no question. Zeke Elliott and Josh Jacobs are also back, no question. Well, maybe some question. It depends on how injured Jacobs is, and what the Raiders do in the offseason. But, if they’re ready to hand him the keys to that backfield (and don’t do something stupid like draft another running back in an early round in 2020), then I think he’s a no brainer.

That leaves me with my fourth keeper. I have to keep in mind that I’ll be drafting second in next year’s fantasy draft. My opponent – the guy drafting first overall – will definitely be keeping Lamar Jackson. His other possible QB keepers are Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold; you can’t be really happy with either of those options, so it wouldn’t shock me to see him get Joe Burrow, or whoever ends up being the best-looking rookie quarterback prospect.

The point is, I can settle for the second-best rookie quarterback next year and try to build some sort of juggernaut around a couple of young, exciting quarterbacks. So, I don’t HAVE to keep someone like Carson Wentz, even though he’ll likely be around a Top 10 scoring QB for our league this year.

Behind him, I don’t have a receiver I love (Cooper Kupp is the closest thing, but I dunno). Le’Veon Bell is a longshot, again, unless his situation drastically improves. I don’t think either Scary Terry or Darius Slayton are ready to be keepers; I could definitely draft both of those guys fairly late in next year’s draft.

So, in that sense, Carson Wentz probably HAS to be the keeper play here. Also, that doesn’t prevent me from also using my #2 pick on a third quarterback. Draft whoever the best rookie quarterback is on the board, stash him on my bench, and then start working on my wide receivers in the second round and beyond.

The thing is, part of me doesn’t want to give up on Wentz. I went to a lot of trouble in hanging onto him since his rookie season, essentially building my team around HIM the last time I did one of these step-backs or rebuilds or whatever. I’ve also done this before, where I’ve let go of quality QBs after disappointing seasons, and they’ve immediately bounced back in big ways (most infamous was me giving up on Matt Ryan the year before he was the league’s MVP). So, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see Wentz put up major production in 2020.

With injuries and all the rest, it never hurts to have a third quarterback.

Plus, I mean, our league this year has been won by the only guy who auto-drafted his entire team (minus last year’s keepers). On top of that, his four keepers included THREE quarterbacks (Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson, and Drew Brees) and a team defense (Rams).

Fantasy football is literally the stupidest thing invented by man, and I’m including the Chia Pet.

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

#2 draft pick next year, here I come!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: The Week 10 BYE Week Blues

There wasn’t really a lot to worry about in my Week 9 win over Koncussion Protocol. In spite of Kittle’s marvelous Thursday Night performance against Arizona, his team simply underperformed a LITTLE bit more than my team underperformed. I won handily before we even got to the Sunday Night game, 146.90-120.35.

I got more than expected from Tyreek Hill (26.50), and had solid-to-spectacular games from my running backs (Jacobs with 24.00, Bell with 20.10, and Elliott with 13.90). I’m so stacked at the position, I had Jaylen Samuels on my bench who got 19.30 and I’m not even upset about it. I would’ve been had I gotten another bad game out of Le’Veon Bell, but he turned it around by being a target hog in a bad offense.

My biggest gripe comes in my other league, which I’ll touch on briefly, because it might single-handedly keep me out of the 4-team playoffs. I was clinging to 4th place, going up against one of the top two teams, and I had him dead to rights. Adam Thielen was back, so I started him, and he got me a whopping zero points. Had the Vikings just sat him for a week and let him rest his hamstring like they SHOULD have, I would’ve won, because I would’ve been forced to play Ertz in my flex spot, who would’ve gotten me the points I needed to prevail. Instead, two teams leapfrogged me, and I need to go on a massive winning streak to get back into contention.

The problem, of course, is that Week 10 is the fucking apocalypse. New England, Philly, Houston, Jacksonville, Washington, and Denver are all off this week. That’s A LOT of fantasy football players who can’t go, but also can’t necessarily be waived. Which means, if you have injuries on top of lots of key BYEs, you’re fucked.

So, getting back to this league, I really just have one big issue: I only have one active quarterback in a 2-quarterback league. To make matters worse, that quarterback is Daniel Jones, who has straight up sucked every time I’ve started him, and been a wonderful revelation whenever he’s been on my bench. To make matters even worse than that somehow, as of Tuesday of this week – when all non-rostered players were on waivers – there was officially only one available quarterback who’s locked in as a starter this week, and that’s Cincinnati’s backup, Ryan Finley. He’s hosting the Ravens, and figures to have a terrible time doing it. My other option – if I’m desperate, and no one else gets waived between now and Sunday morning – is Taysom Hill, the backup for the Saints who sometimes catches passes or runs a quasi-Wildcat. These are truly the dark times.

***

So, let’s focus on the bright side. My victory in Week 9 gives me a 3-game winning streak. My record is now 5-4, in fourth place, tied with four other guys who all have the same record (one of the 5-4 teams is ahead of me, by a whopping 7 points). The team that started out 7-0 is now 7-2; there’s also a team that’s 6-3, so I’m somehow back in play for a top 2 seed and a BYE for the first round of the playoffs. I’m still 4th in total points, and I still have the 2nd-most points against by a large margin.

***

With T.Y. Hilton being injured for a while, I ended up putting him in my IR spot, which I had been using for Derrius Guice. I can’t justify hanging onto him and letting Samuels go to a needy team (especially with Bell’s status in question for this week). Plus, I’ve held onto A.J. Green all season and I’m not about to drop him now. I lucked out in that only my QB spots were affected this week, so I don’t need to make a ton of moves.

I put in a waiver claim on Brian Hoyer, who I don’t love, but he’s on a good team and he’s going up against Miami’s terrible defense. He was never a lock to start this week, as Jacoby Brissett’s injury wasn’t deemed to be too serious, but I took a stab in the dark. In the end, if Indy is willing to risk Brissett’s long-term health to get a win over the lowly Dolphins, then I guess fuck me, right?

As it turns out, I didn’t even get him. Of course, I was 9th in waiver priority, so that was always going to be a bit of a longshot. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise! I doubt it; I think he’ll easily carve the Dolphins up and would’ve been the best QB on my team this week, but I’ll settle for Ryan Finley, making his first-ever start for the Bengals. As long as he doesn’t get me negative points, I guess it’ll be okay?

I also found out this week that Nick Foles is destined to return to the starting lineup for the Jags next week. That really ruined my Tuesday, as I was then forced to also put a waiver claim in for him. The smart thing to do would’ve been to just drop Gardner Minshew, but at this point I’m so desperate for quality quarterback play, I need to hold on to anyone I can. Plus, preventing Minshew from being someone else’s keeper next year is a solid bonus (the real reason to hang onto Minshew is because Foles is an injury waiting to happen).

I had to make the most difficult decision of the year, in dropping Terry McLaurin (who I’d previously blown my #1 waiver priority on way back when). He’s had a solid rookie year so far, but his quarterback is a fucking disaster, his team is a fucking disaster, and he’s on a BYE this week, so he can’t bite me in the ass right away.

***

My opponent this week is Korky Butchek, who I handled back in Week 1. He’s had a rough season, currently in 9th place with a 3-6 record, as injuries and Antonio Brown have pretty well derailed his hopes and dreams for 2019.

He’s got a relatively frisky team, but as my own team has shown, it doesn’t take much to beat me, especially with my terrible quarterback situation. He’s pretty strong with Jameis Winston and Jared Goff leading the way. Losing DeAndre Hopkins to BYE hurts him pretty severely, as does the loss of Evan Engram; but he still has Kenny Golladay, Melvin Gordon, and Mark Andrews, who’s a boom or bust candidate every week.

He rounded out his lineup by picking up Jamison Crowder to play in place of Hopkins, which was pretty smart. That guy is a target machine whenever Darnold plays. He doesn’t even necessarily need to make it into the endzone to have a huge day, though it’ll certainly help.

I’m favored by just under 20 points in this one, but you know the drill. My team has underperformed projections 7 out of 9 weeks this year and I see no reason for that to change now.