Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: How Low Can I Go?

You may have read that I was all set to hand away Week 6, by not playing a tight end or a defense. On Saturday morning, I finally came to my senses.

I did the math, and I saw a game I could maybe steal if things went my way. For starters, Washington’s defense was still out there. And, until they gave up a couple garbage touchdowns late to Miami, they were having a fantastic day. Miami owes me at least 8 points for putting in Fitzmagic; who knows, maybe the Redskins could’ve gotten a late pick-six or something if Rosen played the entire game! I hate them with all of my being right now.

I also picked up Gerald Everett for the Rams. There weren’t a lot of great options out there (though, apparently I spaced out on Hunter Henry’s presence on the waiver wire, so that’s on me). It sounds like Everett COULD’VE had a solid game, but either there were drops or Goff was terrible or probably both.

I dropped Chris Thompson and David Montgomery to make those two moves. This week, I put in a claim for Montgomery again, dropping Washington’s defense because I’m gonna just roll with the Bills from here on out. Thompson is still safe and sound out in free agency, for now, with a case of turf toe (I think I’m probably over-rating him some a lot, but that’s neither here nor there).

I ended up losing to Crazy N8’s Prostates 178.30-161.95. The Rams royally screwed me, in multiple leagues. Alongside Everett’s dud, Cooper Kupp couldn’t get going either. I otherwise had good-to-great games from most of my roster. Wentz, Hill, Scary Terry, Zeke, and my kicker all were fantastic! The main problem with my team is my second quarterback, and there’s really nothing I can do about that but ride it out with the two rookies and hope for favorable matchups as the season progresses. I smartly sat Danny Dimes (who had only 2.85 points against New England), but Gardner Minshew wasn’t really much better (4.25 points against New Orleans). You can’t win games when your second QB is sucking all the life out of your team!

The loss drops me to 2-4 on the season. I’m in 8th place, firmly ensconced in the Consolation Bracket. I have the 6th most points scored, and I’m now officially up to the very most points scored against. Here’s how unlucky I’ve been: the rest of the league combined averages 155.17 points against per week; I’ve averaged 186.51. That’s like my opponent having an extra QB posting a GREAT day that I’ve got to account for each and every week just to win these fucking games! What kind of bullshit luck is that? Someone in the league averages only 122.62 points against! If I played his exact schedule, I’d be 5-1 right now and in the driver’s seat for a top 2 seed.

I hate fantasy football so fucking much.

***

The good news is, with Tyreek Hill officially back and kicking ass, I’m at full strength. This week, I’ve also got no one on BYE, so I just have to set my lineup based on matchups.

Wentz is always locked in, though if there was a week to sit him, it might be this one. Danny Dimes is hosting Arizona’s shitty defense, while Minshew is on the road against Cincy’s equally-shitty defense. I’m honestly struggling between the two – I think Minshew is the better player, but I think that Giants/Cardinals game will be higher scoring. So, I’m gonna go with Dimes again, but fool me twice six fucking times and you’re out of here, buster!

In spite of last week’s bungling, Cooper Kupp is one of my starting wideouts every week going forward. Hill is obviously a must-start as well. Both are in pretty great matchups (especially Kupp, going against Atlanta’s nothing defense). Zeke and Bell are also must-starts for me, though I’m a little less certain about Bell going up against New England’s defense on Monday Night. I might panic at some point and swap him out; but his ability in the check-down passing game is – I think – too good to pass up. My alternative is Josh Jacobs against the Packers, but I dunno. It’s on the road, and if the Raiders are down in that one, I could see them go away from the rookie. Jacobs probably has the higher upside over Bell, but I’m going with the safer play.

I’ve got Waller locked and loaded as my starting tight end the rest of the way, though I might hold onto Everett for a bit for some depth and/or as a trade chip. For my FLEX, I’ve ruled out Scary Terry (vs. SF), Montgomery (vs. NO), and Everett (he’s a TE). It boiled down to Jacobs or T.Y. Hilton and, without looking at their schedules, if I get burned on this one, I’ll likely just roll with Jacobs the rest of the way (unless he has an obviously terrible matchup). With Hilton’s Colts hosting the Texans, my hope is that it’s high scoring enough to see Hilton bust out with a big game. The more I think about it, the more I’m regretting it; if nothing else, just know that Hilton is projected to score more than Jacobs by Yahoo, so if I fail, I’ll gladly blame the website.

I love Tucker against the Seahawks – Baltimore should be able to move the ball at will – and I love love LOVE Buffalo’s defense at home against Miami (so watch Fitzmagic come out and torch ’em like he’s been known to do on occasion).

***

My opponent is Mandelbaum’s Gym, who features Mike Evans as his most-prominent BYE. He’s got Kyler Murray in a juicy one against the Giants, his other two QB’s are playing against one another (Bridgewater over Trubisky in his lineup for now).

He’s pretty well stacked at running back, with the returning Saquon Barkley (when he was originally injured, he was projected to still be out this week, but of course he makes a miraculous return in time to face my fantasy team; what else is new?), Kerryon Johnson, and Joe Mixon. Even without Evans, he’s still got Michael Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald as his wideouts, so that’s not too shabby at all. And, he just picked up Hunter Henry from waivers, who dropped 30 points last week in his return from injury. He has Houston’s kicker and both the Saints and Bears’ defenses (he’s starting the Saints at the time of this writing).

Yahoo has me projected to win pretty handily (around 20-point favorites), but I’m done trying to predict how these games will go. Odds are I’ll score around 160 and he’ll score around 220 and I’ll be back on here bitching and moaning again about the pisspoor luck my Space Pirates are cursed with. Fuck fantasy football.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Trade Hijinks

The question on my mind this week: should spouses be allowed to trade with one another?

This is a story about a different league I’m involved with – one that I’m the commissioner of – so don’t get this confused with what I’ll talk about later. I’ll take you back to last Thursday. My team was playing someone who has Drew Brees. It’s also a 2-QB league, and her third QB (the only other healthy one she had on her roster) was Marcus Mariota, who was going up against Jacksonville on Thursday Night Football. She hadn’t updated her lineup all week – so Brees was still in the starting lineup; Mariota was on her bench – as kickoff came and went. I wasn’t about to say anything, because she was my opponent! If you don’t look at your roster by Thursday night, that’s on you! I figured she’d make a free agent claim over the weekend and we’d all have a good laugh.

Instead, on Saturday, I got a text asking me to push a trade through so she could set her lineup.

There aren’t any rules about trades in my league. Not really. I’ve never vetoed a trade in my life and I wasn’t about to start now. I legitimately don’t believe in it. Part of it has to do with trusting people to do the right thing. Part of it is you never know how these things are going to shake out in the long run; you can easily overreact in the moment (if you think one person is fleecing another), but then it turns out to be more even than you expected as the weeks go on. Part of it also has to do with the fact that pretty much EVERYONE has very intense reactions about pretty much every trade that’s ever happened, and by and large they’re largely just that: overreactions because they’re just bitter they didn’t have a chance to make a better offer.

I like trades. I like wheeling and dealing with other people. I like trying to come up with terms that someone else will accept (while at the same time secretly getting something over on someone else with my “brilliant fantasy football intellect”). I like shaking my team up and getting new guys to play around with. And, I generally find the reactions of others pretty amusing when I’m involved in a trade that’s perceived to be one-sided. The funniest parts of the TV show The League are when cries of “COLLUSION” are bandied about, because it’s so true to real life.

That having been said, this trade – on paper – looks pretty bad. It’s not the worst fantasy trade I’ve ever seen (that would still be when I got Shaq in his prime for Erick Dampier one year – which may or may not have been legitimate collusion, I can’t remember – but pretty much destroyed the entire league as a result), but it’s far from equal right now, and I think it’ll look a lot worse over time:

  • “Team Fleeced” Got: Mason Rudolph (QB) and Cleveland’s Defense
  • “Team Fleeced” Gave Up: Damien Williams (RB) and Chicago’s Defense

Now, if the defenses were reversed, and it was Rudolph and Chicago going one way, with Williams and Cleveland going the other, it might be more reasonable. But, just going by draft projections, we’re talking about Chicago (generally the number one defense selected, alongside maybe Baltimore) and a running back that was considered to be in the top 10 of fantasy backs, if not in the top 10 of all players (in standard leagues); whereas we’re talking about an okay defense in Cleveland, and Big Ben’s backup making his first career start. It’s a bad look. To her credit, she already had Minnesota’s defense on her roster, and Cleveland’s defense has a lot of talent, so the Cleveland/Chicago comparisons should probably line up pretty close by season’s end. But, if you polled fantasy football players, I feel like well over 90% of unbiased voters would choose the Bears over the Browns for their own teams, if given the opportunity.

As for Rudolph vs. Williams, it’s no contest. Rudolph looked awful against the 49ers; Williams is the starter on an offense that scores the most in football. He’ll be out for one week, maybe two? Then, he’s dialed in as your starting RB for the rest of the season as long as he remains healthy.

I said up top, we won’t know how this looks until season’s end, but I have a pretty good feeling there will be a clear winner, and with it potential changes to the league’s rules heading into next year.

I don’t want to pick on spouses, because I don’t believe for one minute that this was done with the intent to collude to win a league championship. I’ve known these people for years, so believe me when I say that I trust their intentions. But, I mean, you’ve got two people living in the same house, who’ve got nothing but time to discuss their rosters (I assume that’s what married people do? Talk about their fantasy football teams all day every day?). Why reach out to the rest of the league when it’s so much easier to trade with someone right in front of you? Also, time was of the essence; she had one day to roster a second QB, and Rudolph probably seems like a better option than whoever’s left as a free agent; so there’s not a lot of time to put feelers out to the league on a Saturday when people have lives and things going on.

But, we’re talking about a guy who has been playing fantasy football for over two decades and who’s been watching football his entire life, against a gal who is on her third season in the game (all in this particular league) and is just a casual football observer. In that case, regardless of whether he intended to or not, it’s one person taking advantage of another’s inexperience.

This isn’t the first time a questionable trade between spouses has happened in this particular league. Two years ago, a husband – again, in need of a quarterback – gave up Todd Gurley & C.J. Beathard for Blake Bortles & Kelvin Benjamin. That was arguably Bortles’ best season of his career, but I mean come on. Gurley was the best offensive player of 2017. His wife, who already had a good, playoff-bound team, went on to win the league’s championship, largely on the back of Gurley crushing opponents.

Again, I’m not against trading, but there has to be an argument that both people are getting something at least CLOSE to equal. But, in each of these deals, we’re talking about one person taking advantage of another’s desperation. Being desperate is no excuse for flipping the whole league into one person’s advantage.

So, I dunno. I might have to make a change for next year. I don’t want to outlaw trades entirely, and I don’t want to be the sole arbiter. So, maybe it has to fall to a league vote on every trade. That runs the risk of – again – people being bitter and voting against every trade because of their own biases, but we’ve got people of varying skill levels in this league, and something has to be done to level the playing field.

I really hate my gut reaction to this, because as I said before, most of the time these things are overblown. But, as commissioner, I’m torn. I take that role seriously, maybe definitely too much so. I take things to heart in a situation that’s totally ridiculous and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Football itself doesn’t matter when compared to real life events and whatnot; fantasy football, by its own definition, doesn’t matter to the Nth degree. I don’t like calling people out, because I’m not really interested in shaming people for something that doesn’t matter. But, I also have a responsibility to the league as a whole, and a need to ensure things are above board. Trades are a slippery slope; they breed resentment. Retaliations generally come in the form of even MORE lopsided trades, this time with actual collusion in intent. Then, the league blows up and you’re left with nothing but hurt feelings and randos as your opponents.

***

My worst-case-scenario came to fruition last week, as my Space Pirates! lost to Space Forcin’ by a score of 222.46-198.95. His score was the highest that anyone has posted all season long. My score was the second-highest that anyone has posted all season long. Of course this happens to me. I can’t be allowed to have nice things! Perish the thought!

It’s pretty rare that both teams in a weekly matchup can get A+ grades, but this is what happens. Cooper Kupp went off for over 30 points. Four other guys got over 20 points, and Buffalo’s defense wasn’t far behind with 19. Everyone on my team except for Justin Tucker scored in double-digits. But, I mean, it just wasn’t even a contest! Mahomes, Kamara, and Lockett each scored over 30 for his team; two others scored almost 30. Only if I had the option of going back and replacing guys in my lineup with higher-scoring bench guys (Danny Dimes had 41, for instance), I still only would’ve BARELY beaten him by less than 1 point (and, seriously, who in their right mind would play someone like Chris Thompson over Le’Veon Bell?). It was the perfect storm, and one that I could see from about 5,000 miles away.

As a result, my team falls to 1-2 on the season, in fifth place in the league. Much like my unlucky streak from a year ago, I find myself with the fourth-highest point total, and the first-highest points-against total. Can’t catch a break. Just gotta find a way to stay in the playoff hunt (top 6 advance, with top 2 getting a first round BYE).

***

I made a waiver claim for Wayne Gallman in every league I’m in, and I got him in every league except this one. Ehh, it happens. I didn’t totally need another running back just yet anyway, and in the long run I still have Chris Thompson on my bench, who is a pretty solid plug n’ play guy if you’re desperate (PPR leagues only).

Some interesting news, as I woke up this morning to check all my waiver claims (much like a survivalist goes around the camp checking all his traps for stray rabbits and rodents and whatnot), someone proposed a trade! To me! This so rarely happens, I feel like the prettiest girl at the ball. I’m almost always the one throwing things out there to mix it up.

This one, I’ll admit, is pretty interesting to me. Beasts is asking me to give him Danny Dimes, and in return he’s willing to give me Matthew Stafford and Chris Godwin.

I’m just running it all through my head right now. Dimes is a rookie quarterback who has made all of one start in his young career. Of course, in that start – by our league’s scoring – he got over 41 points, which is pretty remarkable. Nevertheless, it was his only start, and there’s still so much we don’t know about him. What we do know is that Tampa’s defense is pretty mediocre. We know his offensive line is pretty shaky, and he doesn’t have a ton of weapons (reduced all the more impactfully by the injury to Saquon Barkley). His value might literally never be higher than it is right now; he could be the next Christian Ponder or Jake Locker or take your pick (name any terrible first round bust). In return, I’d be getting a legitimate veteran starting QB and a #2 receiver in an offense that has to throw it a billion times a game.

But, I’m obviously torn. For starters, I don’t love Stafford. I don’t love how that offense is being neutered into a more balanced attack. He’s only had one good week and that was against Arizona, who might have the worst defense in all of football. Now, Beasts picked the right week to offer him up, because he’s facing Kansas City, and you would expect the Lions will need to throw the ball a ton. But, with that comes the obvious risk of him throwing interceptions. Stafford isn’t reliable to me. As for Godwin, you just never know. He can blow up in some weeks, but he can also disappear. That offense has a ton of different people to throw to, with Mike Evans being the clear #1 focus. Plus, I feel like my team is full of Chris Godwin types. Cooper Kupp, Christian Kirk, Scary Terry, T.Y. Hilton, these are all boom or bust types, albeit ones with higher floors than people you’d see on waivers.

In looking at Beasts’ team, it’s an interesting move. He’s already got Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson as his starting quarterbacks, but I have a hard time figuring he’s doing this to shore up his bench. I’m wondering if he’s maybe starting to sour a little bit on Ryan?

On the flipside, in looking at my team, I’m reluctant to do any 2-for-1 deals when I’ve still got Tyreek Hill on the bench and A.J. Green on IR; I’m not letting those guys walk. And, honestly, I think I like the rest of my depth guys more than I’d want Godwin on my roster. I mean, I literally just blew my #1 waiver priority on Scary Terry, so if I don’t keep him around, I’m a huge fucking idiot.

My biggest concern, though, quite frankly, is the chance that Dimes might turn out to be one of the best five fantasy quarterbacks in the entire league. He has that stink of someone who was drafted WAY too high, and that’s still in the backs of everyone’s minds. Let’s see how he does against Washington, then Minnesota, then the Patriots. Later on he plays Chicago and Green Bay to boot. He could come crashing down to Earth so hard it’ll make all our heads spin, and all the doubters will be out in force with their I Told You So’s.

But, I mean, who scores 41 fantasy points in their first-ever start? This isn’t just a controversial rookie tearing up the pre-season. This isn’t just comparing him to the corpse of Eli Manning. This is a regular season game, on the road, playing for the country’s #1 market for that market’s #1 football team. The closest comp for those kinds of fantasy numbers would be Mahomes’ first start in 2018, when he threw for 256 yards and 4 touchdowns (but even he had a mediocre & meaningless start in the final week of 2017 after the Chiefs had clinched).

I mean, if I trade Dimes for Stafford and Godwin, I could be the guy who traded Manhattan for $24! This is a decision that could affect the fantasy league for the next decade!

Part of me wants to counter his offer with a request for his best player, Christian McCaffrey. I don’t think he’d accept that offer, but what if he did? What if he’s so sure about Dimes being the next Mahomes that he accepted it in a heartbeat? I think I’d be terrified to even throw that out there!

When you’re in a league with 4 keepers, as I’ve said before, you’ve always gotta have at least 1 eye toward the future. The way my team’s set up right now, I’ve given myself a lot of options: Wentz, Dimes, Zeke, Bell, Hill, Jacobs, and maybe even Kupp or Scary Terry if they continue to really kill it. The funny thing is Dimes might end up being the best of that bunch, and the guy I decide to keep around for his entire career. I got in on the ground floor of something potentially special. The last time I made this kind of move, it was Wentz in his rookie year, and so far you’d be hard-pressed to say it’s paid off for me. He’s been injured a lot, and he really doesn’t have a lot of those supernova blowup games where he goes off for 40+ points. You need those in our league, especially when you’re playing against a top team like Space Forcin’.

So, I’ll give it some thought. I’ll let it sit out there and think about it a bit. As soon as Dimes goes down with a season-ending injury this week, I’m sure I’ll want to crawl into a hole and die. We’ll see how it goes.

***

This week, I go up against The Lance Petemans, who are currently 0-3 and in last place. He’s had a rough go the last season and a half, but he’s also got his name on our Championship Trophy more times than anyone else in the league, so no one is feeling sorry for him.

I’ve obviously got Dimes in my lineup with Wentz; my receivers are Kupp, Scary Terry, and we’ll see (T.Y. Hilton if he’s playing, probably Christian Kirk if he’s not); Bell is on BYE, so I’ve got Zeke and Jacobs (hoping for a bounce-back week for the rookie, now that he’s over his illness); Waller is a locked-in Top 10 TE in football, which is a fun thing to have grabbed off the free agent pile a few weeks back; I’m hoping Tucker has a better game against the Browns this week; and with my bench being so stacked, I’m forced to roll with the Bills’ Defense at home against New England. I’m just hoping for maybe a few sacks or something, I dunno.

The Petemans are down a Jimmy G, so they’re rolling with Andy Dalton in primetime. He’s still got Tom Brady, who’s still pumping out the points in the early part of the season, so that could do a ton of damage to my defense. His skill guys include all of the Rams that I don’t have (Gurley, Cooks, and Woods), but I don’t know if he’s playing all three of them or not (he currently has Woods on his bench). The rest of his guys are … far from ideal. He’s got Houston’s Defense going up against Carolina, so that’s a real wild card with the Panthers going with a young QB.

At the moment, Yahoo has me as a slight favorite, but their projections are usually bad. They’re shorting Dimes about 20 points, for instance …

Russell Wilson Will Be The NFL MVP For The 2019 Season

SCORCHING MOLTEN LAVA TAKE ALERT! This is one of those things where if I’m right, I’ll be crowing like a jackass for the rest of my life. And, if I’m wrong, then it’ll never be spoken of again.

Remember the time I predicted the Seahawks would beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl before the season started?

Remember the time before that when I predicted the Ravens would beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl just 1 week into the regular season?

I’ll leave it to the rest of you to find all the times I’ve been wrong, and go out on a limb to say I’m the greatest sports mind of our generation.

I don’t often do a lot of prognosticating on the NFL’s MVP award – or ANY MVP award, really – because I kind of don’t care about it. The only time a Seahawk has won was in 2005, when Shaun Alexander ran for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns in leading the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance in a 13-3 regular season. I argued this at the time and maintain it to this day: the most important player to the Seahawks’ success that year was actually Matt Hasselbeck (we NEVER would’ve gotten anywhere without him), but since he didn’t have insanely gaudy stats (3,459 yards, 65.5% completions, 24 TDs, 9 INTs) he didn’t stand a chance.

Which brings me right back to this year and begs the question: if gaudy stats are a precursor, WHY IN THE HOLY HELL WOULD I PREDICT RUSSELL WILSON FOR THIS AWARD?

Look, it’s not the most thought-out opinion I’ve ever had. 99% of everything I say on here I pull straight from my gut, which has been notoriously inconsistent over the years. But, I’ll try to make an argument and you take it with however much salt you want.

Last year, Wilson had a pretty impressive season: 3,448 yards, 65.6% completions, 35 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 110.9 passer rating. Of course, that was nothing compared to Patrick Mahomes’ season (the actual MVP): 5,097 yards, 66.0% completions, 50 TDs, 12 INTs, and 113.8 rating. Every step of the way (except for INTs) he was better than Wilson.

Well, the first part of my argument is that I believe Mahomes takes a step back in his second full year as a starter. I think he’ll come down to Earth and be more in the middle of the pack. He’ll almost certainly throw for over 4,000 yards, but I don’t think he’ll approach 50 TDs again, and I think his INTs will increase. I would also argue that whenever someone wins as thoroughly as he has, there’s inevitably a backlash among voters, who are constantly looking to give the award to someone different. If you don’t believe that to be true, then please explain to me why LeBron James has zero MVP awards since the 2012/2013 season, in spite of the fact that until this year, he carried his teams to every single NBA Championship series in that span. Also, while you’re at it, tell me why Bill Belichick hasn’t won since 2010 and yet Bruce Arians and Ron Rivera have both won twice in that span.

So, if you bet Mahomes at +400, you’re throwing your money away. Which brings me to the current betting odds:

  • Patrick Mahomes +400
  • Drew Brees +700
  • Aaron Rodgers +800
  • Andrew Luck +800
  • Tom Brady +1000
  • Baker Mayfield +1400
  • Russell Wilson +1600
  • Carson Wentz +1900
  • Philip Rivers +2200
  • Deshaun Watson +2500

That’s just the top 10. Some things stand out. All of those guys are quarterbacks (the most important players in the game) and all of those guys are projected to be in the playoffs (or at least contending for the playoffs). While being a quarterback isn’t a MUST, it’s certainly the safest bet. For a non-quarterback to win it, he has to do something REALLY special. Like Shaun Alexander’s touchdown totals. The last non-quarterback to win it was in 2012 when Adrian Peterson came within 8 yards of the all-time rushing yards record in a single season. The time before that, it was LaDainian Tomlinson the year after Alexander, when he ran for 1,815 yards and broke Alexander’s rushing touchdown record with 28.

If I were going to pick a non-QB in 2019, I’d lean towards Saquon Barkley (at +4000), but the Giants are so bad that he would literally have to break every single rushing record for it to happen.

Anyway, as you can see, Wilson is firmly in the Top 10 (shamefully behind Baker Mayfield, which is just a crime against humanity at this point), so Vegas likes his chances. With his new contract extension, Wilson’s name is in the zeitgeist. And, at this junction in his career, I believe there are enough fervent Wilson believers out there to really help make his case and keep his name alive.

Now, he can’t do it alone. It’s going to require the Seahawks to get back to the playoffs. It’ll probably even require the Seahawks to win the NFC West, which I believe this team is capable of. Ideally, the Seahawks will be a top 1 or 2 seed and have a BYE in the playoffs. Something like 12-4 could accomplish this, if everything breaks right. The Rams, you figure, are in for a Super Bowl hangover. The Saints and Bears figure to be our biggest obstacles, as I believe the NFC East will feast upon itself to keep their records down.

Playing well in marquee games is also a must. The Seahawks have five primetime games scheduled, including three in a row late in the season, right in that window where we separate the men from the boys in races like these. Wilson has traditionally stepped up big in these games, so I don’t see that as being an issue either.

With the team playing well, and with his reputation intact, that just leaves his biggest hurdle: his numbers.

Wilson has thrown for over 4,000 yards only twice in his career (though he was 17 yards away in 2017 from making it three times), and last year he was obviously limited by the offense’s design. Part of that was a backlash against the losses in our first two weeks, when the coaching staff had to re-set everything. But, ultimately this team was so successful running the ball that there wasn’t always a serious need to get things done through the air. While the plan heading into the season will be more of the same run-centric style, it wouldn’t totally shock me to see our effectiveness on the ground weaken (much in the same way that I see Mahomes’ numbers taking a dive). Opposing defenses will game plan better. And, I figure injuries will play a more significant role (Carson played in 14 games; I could see that dropping as he doesn’t seem like a guy who can stay healthy for the duration) with both the running backs and the O-Line. There’s no Mike Davis, who was a solid contributor, and I seriously question whether Penny will be up to the task if he’s thrust into the #1 role. There should be just enough of a dip in the running game to add a few hundred more yards to Wilson’s passing total.

On top of that, Wilson’s rushing yards are going to continue to go down with every year. He’s a quarterback, and an elite one at that. Elite quarterbacks throw the ball or hand it off, period. He’s heading into his 8th season, which puts him squarely in his prime. He’s had a Hall of Fame trajectory to this point in his career, and I don’t know a whole lot of Hall of Fame quarterbacks who haven’t won an MVP award. With that in mind, it sort of feels like it’s his destiny to win this award at least once. If we get to the end of the season, and no one has really stood out with awe-inspiring numbers at any position, maybe the voters will look around, see Wilson sitting there with 0 career MVPs, and figure he’s due. People have voted for things based on dumber logic before (say hello to every politician who ever seemed like a guy you’d want to have a beer with).

Getting back to the numbers, though, Wilson’s best chance seems to be with his touchdowns. While he was a far cry from Mahomes’ 50 last year, Wilson was still tied for third with 35. In 2017, he led the league with 34. In 2015, he came in sixth also with 34. I could easily see that number jump up into the 40’s, which should put him well within range. More than that, he’s usually very careful with the ball. Last year he tied a career low with only 7 INTs. I feel with his ability, he can shave that down even further. If he has an insane TD:INT ratio of something like 40:3, that’s the sort of stat that could push him over the top.

Finally, if we’re truly talking about the Most VALUABLE Player, then who has had more value to his team than Russell Wilson in his career to date? The knock against him has always been that he’s had an elite defense (except for last year) or an elite running game (except for a few years there post-Beastmode). Well, I’ve already argued that I don’t believe the running game will be as exceptional as it was in 2018, and as for the defense, it was already middle-of-the-road last year; this year, I think middle-of-the-road will be this unit’s CEILING. I think the defense could be truly terrible this year. We’ll likely rank in the bottom third or bottom quarter in the league in sacks and turnovers.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 43 sacks, 13 of which belonged to Frank Clark. 43 put us 11th in football; 30 would’ve been tied for 30th. Ziggy Ansah figures to mitigate some of that, but I highly doubt he’s going to get us all the way there. In fact, I don’t think he’ll even get us halfway there (yes, I’m putting Ansah’s over/under of sacks at 6.5, and I’ll bet the under). With no one else coming in to help account for the loss of Clark’s production (both in sacks, and in the help he provided someone like Jarran Reed, who saw his numbers skyrocket playing with Clark on the outside next to him). If Reed is our only pass-rushing threat (assuming Ansah misses multiple games, or plays through injury and is ineffective as a result), he can be easily neutralized, sending the D-Line tumbling towards the bottom of the league.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 12 interceptions, 5 of which belonged to Earl Thomas, Justin Coleman, and Frank Clark. 12 put us tied for 18th in football; 7 would’ve been tied for 29th. Bradley McDougald had 3 of his own last year, but he’s also an injury waiting to happen. Of our younger core in the defensive backfield, Shaquill Griffin, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, and Tre Flowers all combined for 3 total INTs (Hill and Flowers combining for 0). Who did we add to this group? A couple of rookies, and presumably whatever veterans we bring into Training Camp later this summer. There just isn’t a lot of turnover production in this unit. With the D-Line unable to get pressure, that puts more of the onus on the secondary, which is not NEARLY as talented as the Legion of Boom in its prime.

Now, of course, the Seahawks tied for the league lead in fumble recoveries in 2018, but as we all know, that’s largely based on the luck of the bouncing ball. We did tie for third in forced fumbles, which you’d hope would translate, but again our leader in that category – Frank Clark – is gone.

My point with all of this is to further indicate that I think the Seahawks’ defense will be bad. Our only hope is that we hold teams to an inordinate amount of field goals. But, my expectation is, for the Seahawks to win a lot of games, we’re going to rely exclusively on our offense. That means Russell Wilson will have to do considerably more than he had to do in 2018.

All that being said, it still doesn’t feel like a strong argument, and I get that. All I can say is, with this being the second season with a new offensive coordinator, you have to figure Brian Schottenheimer has had a full year to work with this team, and a second full off-season to tinker with his scheme. While it’ll be foolish to expect the running game to take a complete back seat, I think his ability to adjust in games will improve. With the defense putting us into more passing situations – based on game score alone – I think it’ll open things up for Wilson to really shine like he’s never quite shone before.

Wilson has had spurts. The back-half of his 2015 was as brilliant as it gets; if he had a full season of that, he’d be a hands-down winner of the MVP. I also thought 2018 was his best year yet, particularly from an efficiency standpoint. If we keep the efficiency (or even improve upon it slightly), increase touchdowns, decrease turnovers, and boost up those yards, there won’t be any other excuses to keep him from his due. ESPECIALLY when you consider Baldwin retired, and Lockett is his only quality veteran receiver heading into this season. Voters won’t have the L.O.B. to fall back on, nor will they have as dominant of a running game. They’ll have 8 full years’ worth of elite game play, with 2019 as a coronation of sorts.

In a muddled year of MVP candidates, Wilson will win it in a close voting battle. Mark my words (unless I’m wrong, then forget this ever happened).

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 6

I’m gonna tell you what, if I would’ve lost this last week, I MIGHT’VE quit fantasy football entirely.

In every sense of the word, I was lucky to win this one, 128.93 – 124.86.  For starters, if he’d gone with MY version of his best lineup, he would’ve only lost by a little over a point.  He ended up subbing in Cam Newton for Deshaun Watson and that cost him 6 points.  He also subbed in Dion Lewis for Jay Ajayi, which added a little over 3 points to his total, so if he’d split the difference and just kept Watson in there, he would’ve beat me.

He also had the Mason Crosby Experience in there, which absolutely destroyed him.  I got super lucky that the Seahawks did as well as they did against his Rams defense (which ended up getting him just 1 point).

On my end of things, the Carolina defense was a boon, getting me 15 points.  Robbie Gould, though, got me 0.  Calvin Ridley – who I’d been hyping up all week – had a mediocre 7.8 points.  And, obviously, I should’ve benched Tyreek Hill for either Robert Woods or Kenny Golladay.  But, that’s neither here nor there.

Going into the Monday Night game, I had a 119.63 – 87.51 lead.  He had Drew Brees, I had the combo of Adrian Peterson and Jordan Reed.  And I BARELY won!

Now, obviously this is by far my worst week of the season.  I would’ve lost to all but 2 guys in my league.  So, in that sense, I was fucking due for a squeaker.  But, I’m gonna need a much better week this week to keep the train rolling.

King Flippy Nips is now 2-3 on the season and up to 5th place.  I’ve fallen to 3rd in total points though (I’m still tops in the league in points against).

No waiver claims this week.  I didn’t have a super-pressing need and felt it was a better use of my status to climb the waiver priority ranks (come Thursday morning, after a few moves by others, I’m up to 7th).  But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything.  For starters, Greg Olsen is playing again, which means I can’t use an IR spot on him anymore.  I ended up dropping last week’s fill-in defense (Carolina) to make room.  Then, after the big, fat zero I got from Robbie Gould last week, I cut him and owned Wendell Smallwood for a hot minute.

See, I’ve got a real quandary at running back.  Fournette is out of commission (he has since claimed my team’s coveted IR spot for at least a week), and Adrian Peterson apparently injured his shoulder last week.  The Redskins’ offense is a total mess, so the sooner I can get rid of these guys (he and Jordan Reed), the better.  But, for now, I have to keep them.  And yet, I also need to fill a fucking roster!  There are no easy weeks in this league.  Smallwood looked like a good bet, but he’s in a 50/50 time-share with Corey Clement, and neither one has really established himself as a goalline back vs. a 3rd down/pass-catching back.  Clement appears to be BOTH, if I’m being honest, yet Smallwood still eats into about half the snaps.

Anyway, Smallwood and the Eagles are playing on Thursday, and even if AP is a hundred years old, I still prefer him over a 50/50 guy.  So, a few hours later, I ended up dropping Smallwood and picked up Alfred Morris.  Morris plays on Monday Night, in Green Bay, but he looks to be the team’s lead running back for at least this one week.  So, come Sunday morning, if it looks like AP is going to be inactive, I at least have someone competent to throw in my lineup.  It’s not ideal, but it is what it is.

Finally, once I was able to IR Fournette, I was able to pick up a kicker.  I went with Houston’s guy Fairbairn.  It’s pretty slim pickin’s for kickers out there.  I didn’t have the roster flexibility to stash Legatron and the other guy I was looking at was Tennessee’s Ryan Succop, but they’re going against Baltimore this week and I just hate the Titans’ offense.  At least with Houston they seem to move the ball a little better.  I might do some kicker scrounging as the season goes on, in case someone has to drop their guy in a crucial BYE week.  It might ultimately be worth it to keep a second kicker on my roster through a BYE just to cover my ass come playoff time.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz @ NYG
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton vs. PIT
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ NE
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. AZ
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. JAX
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. CAR
  • TE – Jordan Reed vs. CAR
  • FLEX – Calvin Ridley vs. TB
  • K – Ka’imi Fairbairn vs. BUF
  • DEF – Chicago @ MIA

My bench is:  Carr, Woods, Fournette (IR), Golladay (BYE), Olsen, Morris.

I don’t like Carr against the Seahawks (in London) nearly as much as I like Dalton against the Steelers.  Fournette is still sucking my will to live, so I’m stuck rolling with old man Peterson.  Olsen is coming off of a terrible injury, so I need to see him play a game before putting him in my lineup.  Woods is going up against Denver’s secondary, so I’m gonna roll with Ridley against Tampa’s garbage defense.  If Ridley lets me down again, I’m gonna have to make a move with that FLEX spot, but for now I’m hoping for a bounce-back.

This week, I’m up against DelBocaVistaPhase2, who is also 2-3 and in 7th place in our league.  His team is STRONG up and down … except at quarterback.  To wit:

  • QB1 – Josh Allen @ HOU Eli Manning vs. PHI
  • QB2 – Sam Darnold vs. IND
  • WR1 – Stefon Diggs vs. AZ
  • WR2 – Mike Evans @ ATL
  • RB1 – Saquon Barkley vs. PHI
  • RB2 – James Conner @ CIN Joe Mixon vs. PIT
  • TE – Jimmy Graham vs. SF
  • FLEX – Joe Mixon vs. PIT Sammy Watkins @ NE
  • K – Harrison Butker @ NE
  • DEF – Jacksonville @ DAL

His bench is:  Dak Prescott, Chris Thompson Josh Allen, Michael Thomas (BYE), Kenyan Drake, and Keelan Cole LeSean McCoy.

I mean, that’s a murderer’s row … minus the QBs.  We’ve got some interesting direct conflicts as well.  I’ve got Thielen, he’s got Diggs.  That game figures to be a blowout, so it’s up to whoever gets off to a hotter start before Minnesota runs out the clock in the second half.  I’ve also got Andy Dalton and he’s got Joe Mixon, so what’s that game gonna be?  A throw-fest, or a slug-em-out?  And, finally, he’s got Jacksonville’s defense and I’ve got Ezekiel Elliott; obviously the more my guy scores, the less his defense gets.

Also, not for nothing, but I like Darnold against that Colts defense an awful lot, and think he has the potential to put up big numbers.  Between the shootout that should be the Falcons/Bucs, the consistent greatness that Barkley shows on an every-week basis (at least from a fantasy perspective), and the fact that LeVeon Bell chose to wait until AFTER this week to return from his holdout, all goes great lengths in fucking me over.  The Good Luck Gods showered me with love in Week 5, but they’re looking to royally fuck me over once again in Week 6.  I’m Charlie Brown with the football, and that bitch Lucy is fixing to pull it away from me once again.

***THURSDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE***

Blockbuster trade went down.  DelBocaVistaPhase2 sent away James Conner and Chris Thompson, acquiring Shady McCoy and Eli Manning.  So, sub Eli in for Allen, move Mixon up to RB2, and insert Sammy Watkins into the FLEX spot (Keelan Cole hits the waiver wire).  It looks like he’s trying to poach points from Tyreek Hill, which I think is 100% appropriate.  The way New England likes to take away their opponents’ best weapons, I could see a lot of targets funnelled Watkins’ way.

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?

Seahawks Traded Down, Drafted Rashaad Penny

The Seahawks were set to draft at #18, but the worst kept secret in the history of secrets told us that they were looking to trade down, by any means necessary.  See, we frittered away our 2nd & 3rd rounders last year in hopes of “winning now” and failed miserably, so now we either pay the piper, or don’t pick at all between 18 and 120.  So, KIND of a no-brainer, although there were some really enticing players still hanging around that 18 spot.

The Green Bay Packers originally had the 14th pick, then swapped with the Saints down to the 27th pick.  Apparently, the Pack really wanted this cornerback at 18, so they made a move back up.  The Seahawks received #27, the 12th pick in the 3rd round (#76) and the 12th pick in the 6th round (#186) (and no, I’m not doing a “12” thing here, but it is a little weird that the Seahawks got the #12 picks in both of those rounds).  The Packers received #18 and the 30th pick in the 7th round (#248) (or, 9 picks from the bottom of the draft, so the worse of our two 7th rounders).

Now, for those keeping track at home, here are the updated Seahawks’ picks:

  • 1st Round – Rashaad Penny, RB
  • 3rd Round – 12th pick
  • 4th Round – 20th pick
  • 5th Round – 4th pick
  • 5th Round – 9th pick
  • 5th Round – 19th pick
  • 5th Round – 31st pick
  • 6th Round – 12th pick
  • 7th Round – 8th pick

Figure the Seahawks will probably still trade Earl Thomas, probably for a 2nd rounder.  Or, failing that, maybe they package some of these remaining picks (with an outside chance of trading future picks) to get into the 2nd round.  One way or another, don’t expect those to be THE final picks when it’s all said and done.

Anyway, Rashaad Penny.  He played running back at San Diego State.  He was seen by and large as a lower pick (maybe the 2nd or 3rd rounds); he CERTAINLY wasn’t seen by most experts as the second-best running back in the entire draft.  But, here we are.

In case you were wondering, I know nothing about the guy.  I know nothing about most anyone in the draft.  After Saquon Barkley, all the other running backs might as well be named Not Saquon Barkley, because I’m out.  That having been said, Penny definitely looks good.  Whether that’s First Round Good or not is another question.  A lot of people think he could’ve been had much later in the draft.  Well, welcome to the fucking Seattle Seahawks draft, where in the early rounds they ALWAYS pick someone who most people believe could be had later in the draft!  Don’t act like you’re surprised.  Also, for what it’s worth, Pete Carroll and John Schneider said someone called them immediately after selecting Penny, asking if they’d be interested in a trade.  So, either Penny is better than most people think, or a bunch of NFL teams were ready to make a huge mistake by taking him really high.  I tend to believe the former.

The dude led the nation in rushing last year.  He led the nation in broken tackles.  He was #2 in explosives among running backs.  He had the most yards per carry after contact (which will be EXTREMELY important, considering this offensive line).  He’s fast, he runs hard, he doesn’t shy away from contact; but he’s also elusive and can make you miss.  He catches the ball well.  He returns kicks and is able to return punts.  HE DOES IT ALL!  Well, except for pass protection, which he’s apparently pretty poor at.  But, if I’m being honest, if that’s the ONE thing he isn’t so great at, I’m okay with it.  Blocking is something that can be learned.  Speed and elusiveness is something you’re born with.  He’s also durable; hasn’t missed a game.  And, he only had 1 year where he was the bellcow in college, so there’s not a lot of wear & tear on his legs.

I mean, what more can you ask for?

Twitter is dumb, stay-at-home draftniks are dumb, everything in the world is dumb.  You don’t know how good Rashaad Penny is going to be.  You may think you know, but you won’t know until he gets out there on that field.  It says a lot that in a very stacked running back class (a class so stacked, it forced Myles Gaskin to come back to Washington for his senior season) many teams thought Penny was the second best back to be had.

I’m excited!  This is EXACTLY what I wanted:  a stud running back in the first round.  It was time to stop picking running backs off the scrap heap and hoping they’ll bust out.  Yes, I understand that you can get good running backs up and down the draft, and taking one in the first round – when you have so many other needs on this roster – could be seen as a misuse of resources.  But, sometimes you have to make a statement.  Sometimes you have to put your foot down and take a guy you know you’ll be able to depend on.  I have no doubt that his health and his good character were maybe two of the most important factors in selecting Penny so high.  After the Malik McDowell FUCKING FIASCO, the Seahawks could ill afford to totally flush their top pick of the draft again.

Penny, AT WORST, is still a starting-calibre running back for the next 4 years.  With his power, his breakaway speed, his big play ability, the sky is the limit.  I’m choosing to be positive on this one, because I want to have a Seahawks running back on my fantasy football team again, and I think FINALLY we’ve found one who’s worthy!

The Huskies Lost The Fiesta Bowl

The score was 35-28, yet it never really felt all that close.  That’s because the defense gave up a combined 14 for 18 in 3rd/4th down conversions.  That ultimately led our defense – the backbone of this team – to surrender 545 yards of total offense.  They did it through the air, with 342 yards passing, and on the ground, with the other 203 (including 137 yards and 2 TDs from Saquon Barkley, who could’ve had a ton more if he hadn’t split series with the other backs).

It was quite the demoralizing day for the defense, and yet there we were, down 7 points in the fourth quarter.  I was pleasantly surprised by the Husky offense.  Through most of the first half, I was ready to jump on here and lambaste the whole unit, particularly Jake Browning, for once again not showing up in a big game.  But, he really turned his game around and kept us in it.  I was proud of the fight our offense showed, against a very tough, very stout Penn State defense.

The Huskies were down two scores early, before a wide receiver pass led to our first TD.  Then, right before halftime, we took advantage of a turnover to go into the second half only down 28-14.  We pulled to within 7 on the first drive of the second half, and it looked like the tide was starting to turn.  But, they returned the favor on the very next drive to make it a 2-score game again.  Myles Gaskin blew through their defense on a 69-yard scamper in the fourth quarter to bring it back to within 7, and this was it.  This was the game.  For once, if we could just stop them on a 3 & Out, we might have had a chance.  Instead, they converted three straight third downs to chew through the clock.  They got down into field goal range and on a 3rd & 2, ran or a yard, and looked like they were gonna go for it on 4th down until a false start penalty moved them back.  There, with under a minute to go, on the Washington 28 yard line, they missed the put-away field goal.

But, with under 30 seconds to go and no time outs, it would’ve taken a miracle.  Three straight incompletions to start our final drive surely didn’t help.  Then, on fourth down, a hook-and-ladder had Dante Pettis running up the sideline and into Penn State territory with 5 seconds to go.  A chance for a Hail Mary perhaps?!  Except, he had no idea how much time was left on the clock, and tried lateraling to an offensive lineman in the middle of the field.  It was recovered by the defense, and that was that.  I’m not mad, but I’m bummed I didn’t at least get to see our Hail Mary attempt.  I mean, this IS college, you never know what’ll happen.

A tough end to a tough season.  I wish a lot of it had gone differently, but this way it almost seems fitting.  With our top notch recruiting class – and many more yet to come – I agree this is just the beginning of something special.  Before too long, we’re going to be winning these major New Years 6 bowl games, and the rest of the country will have to take notice!

A Big Week For Husky Football

This Saturday, 1pm, we’ve got the Fiesta Bowl!  Washington vs. Penn State.  The shock of all shocks being that Penn State bounced back so quickly from their pedophile scandal, and quite frankly are better than ever.  Or, at the very least, better than they’ve been since the 1980s.

In a watered down field of crappy bowl games so far this year, the Fiesta Bowl has the potential to be the best.  Two great offenses, two great defenses, pretty evenly matched all the way around.  I’d give Washington a slight edge defensively and Penn State the edge offensively.  That offensive edge lies squarely on the passing game, because I think these teams are pretty evenly matched at the running back position, even though Saquon Barkley is the big name and the future first round draft pick.  Myles Gaskin actually has more yards and more touchdowns, as well as a better average yards per attempt.  You start to wonder if the wrong guy got all the national attention, but they start to separate themselves in the receiving game, where Barkley has 47 receptions to Gaskin’s 18, and 594 yards vs. 228 (similar yards per catch and exact same number of TDs).  This is a little surprising, considering Gaskin is a very good pass catcher, and considering Washington has clearly had more trouble finding adequate receiving help under Dante Pettis.  But, it is what it is; I think both of these backs have tremendous pro potential at the next level, and I think Gaskin can make up a lot of ground at the combine if he puts in the work.

Speaking of receivers, as I mentioned it’s basically Pettis and nobody else.  It sounds like Hunter Bryant is back practicing and might end up playing, which would be a pretty huge boost if he’s indeed healthy, otherwise I honestly don’t know what’s going on here.  My boy Will Dissly always tends to find himself wide open a couple times a game for big gainers, so hopefully we can count on that.  The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, appear to have a much more balanced crop of receivers.  One guy has 51 receptions to lead the team, two other guys lead the team in yardage with 48 receptions each, while Barkley has his 47 catches.  In all, 5 guys have over 400 yards receiving apiece; on the Huskies, only Pettis beats that mark.

Defensively, they don’t get much better.  The Huskies give up 5.9 yards per pass attempt; Penn State gives up 6.0; both are in the top 12 in college football.  Washington gives up 185.1 passing yards per game, Penn State gives up 210.2.  Washington leads the nation in fewest rushing yards per attempt at 2.6; Penn State gives up only 3.4 (good for 14th).  Likewise, Washington leads the nation in fewest rushing yards per game at 92.3; Penn State is 17th at 119.2.  Overall, Washington is 5th in total yards per game, Penn State is 20th.  Hence the defensive EDGE to Washington, but I wouldn’t say it’s overwhelming.

Let’s compare schedules.  Penn State played three teams who ended the season in the Top 25:  Ohio State, Michigan State, and Northwestern.  They lost to Ohio State and Michigan State, on the road, in a couple of close games.  I wouldn’t write home about their non-conference schedule; the best team they faced was Pitt, who finished the season 5-7 (they also played the mighty Akron Zips of the Mid-American Conference and Georgia State Panthers of the Sun Belt).  As for the Huskies, obviously a lot has been made of their schedule this year.  They played two teams who ended the season in the Top 25:  Stanford and Washington State, losing to Stanford on the road.  I will say, however, that Fresno State briefly found itself in the Top 25 before losing their conference championship game to Boise State, and after their Hawaii Bowl victory over Houston, finished the season 10-4 and may very well creep back into the Top 25, so be on the lookout for that.  The obvious black mark on Washington’s record is the loss to Arizona State, who are 7-5, fired their head coach, and play NC State tomorrow.  I’m sick of obsessing about that game, so let’s move on.

In the end, this game is going to boil down to what most football games boil down to:  quarterback play.  Senior quarterback Trace McSorley (who has the kind of quarterback name that’s destined to hold a clipboard at the next level), has from the raw numbers out-played Junior quarterback Jake Browning.  McSorley has 3,228 yards and 26 TDs vs. Browning’s 2,544 yards and 18 TDs.  Yet, the yards per attempt are right about even (8.4 for McSorley vs. 8.3 for Browning) and the passer ratings are right about even (153.6 for McSorley vs. 154.3 for Browning).  Much like the dual threat of Saquon Barkley, McSorley is also a dual threat, and generates his edge over Browning with his legs (431 yards and 11 TDs vs. Browning’s 40 yards and 6 TDs).  So, it’ll be really interesting to see how the Husky defense takes to the challenge of not only a quarterback who runs well and throws well, but a running back who runs well and catches well.  By this logic alone, Penn State’s defense has the MUCH easier job.

If I had to bet the family farm, I think Penn State wins this one.  The only way Washington has a chance is if they keep their running game chugging along.  If this turns into a battle of Jake Browning vs. the world – like last year’s Peach Bowl – I think Washington will get slaughtered.  But, if we can get Gaskin going, churn through a lot of long drives, and get the job done in the red zone, we certainly have a chance.

I can envision Penn State running away with it in a blowout; I can envision Penn State winning a close one.  I can also envision some scenarios where Washington wins a close one; but I just can’t see how Washington blows them out.  If they do, so be it, and I will have vastly underestimated the Huskies once again.  Also, don’t take this to mean that I’m rooting against the Dawgs; I want nothing more than to ram it down their throats and finish the season in the Top 10 once again, with some good, solid momentum heading into the 2018 season.

I just don’t think I could handle losing two major bowl games in back to back years, so getting my hopes up too high seems like a mistake.

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In other Husky news, we pulled in the best recruiting class of the entire Pac-12 conference!  Lots of 4-star commits, including two quarterbacks (one of which will surely take over for Jake Browning after the 2018 season), and three wide receivers (which is desperately needed, so hopefully they can play right away).  I’m not going to get into the particulars, as these are high school kids and I absolutely don’t follow the high school game (I barely follow the college game), but we’re talking about a possible Top 10 recruiting class in the entire nation when it’s all said and done.  We’re talking about players who have been coveted by the very best teams in the country.  We’re talking about building upon a foundation of a team that’s already in the Top 10.

The sky is the limit for the Washington Huskies!  Now, let’s go out and take care of business down in Arizona!