Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: How Low Can We Go?

Snoopy & Prickly Pete lost to Sloane N Steady 178.00 – 115.33. Thankfully, it didn’t matter that I started A.J. Brown over D.K. Metcalf (a 20-point swing), nor did it matter that I started Taylor Heinicke over Jameis Winston (a 26.15-point swing), because I got very little out of Mac Jones, CEH landed on the IR, Justin Tucker somehow only got me 3 points in game where the Ravens scored 31, and Noah Fant did Noah Fant things (which involve, almost exclusively, disappointing me). Of course, benching Metcalf, and continuing to refuse to start Jameis speaks to my poor fantasy football instincts. Should I even be allowed to run this team anymore? I’ll take your answer off the air.

That game dropped me to 1-4 on the season, in last place (tied with another 1-4 team, but he has over 100 more points than me).

Someone dropped 49ers running back Trey Sermon, so I made him a waiver claim this week. He’s not doing much of anything right now, but this whole year is dedicated to playing for next year, so my goal is to keep him (and pray he ends the year as a viable replacement for CEH). I waived Jimmy G, who has exhausted all his usefulness to me. He won’t be the starting quarterback there for long, and he’s obviously not a keeper candidate, so there’s no point in dragging his carcass through the season.

Once my claim went through, I needed to make another move. Because, with CEH officially hitting the IR, I needed to pick up a second running back to play this week. The only other running back I had on my roster was another 49er – Jeff Wilson – who is on the PUP list and won’t return for another few weeks. So, I dropped him, moved CEH to my IR spot, and picked up Bears running back Khalil Herbert.

Herbert took a bunch of snaps away from Damien Williams last week – who both played in pretty much a 50/50 share with David Montgomery on the shelf – but is slated to get the lion’s share of the running back load with Williams on the COVID IR. I very well may have to stream a second running back from week to week, but here’s hoping Herbert turns out to be something.

Here’s my lineup for Week 6:

  • Taylor Heinicke (QB) vs. KC
  • Mac Jones (QB) vs. DAL
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) vs. SEA
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ PIT
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ NE
  • Khalil Herbert (RB) vs. GB
  • Noah Fant (TE) vs. LV
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ NE
  • Justin Tucker (K) vs. LAC
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) @ NYG

This week, Jameis is on a BYE, and Justin Fields is going up against Green Bay. Fields had a season-high 11.95 points last week against the Raiders in a victory. He didn’t have to do much and doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to a viable fantasy quarterback. I don’t love the Mac Jones matchup against the Cowboys – whereas Fields against a poor Packers defense might actually be interesting – but at least Jones has a couple 20-point games under his belt. I need to see literally ANYTHING from Fields before I can put him back in my starting lineup.

With Trey Sermon also on a BYE, the only other skill guy I have is A.J. Brown. I’m benching him because he still fucking sucks, though I may insert him over Metcalf, because I don’t trust Geno Smith to get him the ball as far as I can throw him. I may also have my hand forced because Metcalf is dealing with injury issues and could possibly sit for this game.

I’m going up against Space Forcin’, who had two guys go last night:

  • Patrick Mahomes (QB) @ WAS
  • Tom Brady (QB) @ PHI
  • Davante Adams (WR) @ CHI
  • Chris Godwin (WR) @ PHI
  • Antonio Gibson (RB) vs. KC
  • Chase Edmonds (RB) @ CLE
  • Dalton Schultz (TE) @ NE
  • Brandin Cooks (WR) @ IND
  • Matt Prater (K) @ CLE
  • Carolina (DEF) vs. MIN

Brady and Godwin already combined for 14 points under their expected totals, which should help a great deal. Mahomes, on the other hand, could easily make up for that all by himself (against a TERRIBLE Football Team defense). I don’t love Edmonds against the Browns, and I think Schultz could be in for a long game against the Pats. Luckily, I avoided Alvin Kamara, who is on BYE this week.

I’m happy I got the 49ers running back, but I’m still pretty dismayed that zero of the quarterbacks on my roster have emerged. This is not the way I wanted this season to go.

Splinter League Round-Up!

I kicked some fuckin’ ass last week, over the guy who had Lamar Jackson and his 60+ points. It was my first 200-point week! My lowest total came from my 49ers defense, and that was still a respectable 11 points. This week, I’m already in a huge fucking hole, though, as both Evans and Godwin stunk it up last night. Kamara is on bye, which hurts, but I get another week out of Hubbard. I also managed to nab the Colts’ defense, with the 49ers on BYE; they’re expected to CRUSH Houston, so watch them give up 35 points. I can’t keep playing .500 ball all year and expect to make the 4-team playoffs! My team is too good for this!

The Seahawks Have A Lot Of Good Players, But Are Not A Good Team

You don’t need me to run down the list of Seahawks players you know and love. There are current and former Pro Bowlers up and down this roster. But, this is somehow a shit team.

It’s not even a chemistry thing, necessarily (though, I’m sure there are a lot of disgruntled people in that organization, thanks to this 1-2 start). I just think the collective of players aren’t conducive to winning a lot of football games. This certainly isn’t a championship squad!

I don’t know who deserves what percentage of the blame; I’m just going to start going through the entire Seahawks organization.

You have to start with Pete Carroll. He’s 70 years old, and he’s clinging to this quarterback and this roster as his final hurrah. Even though age is just a construct, and he’s as active and sharp as ever, all you hear about is how he doesn’t want to endure another rebuild. Maybe that’s just the blatherings of know-nothing NFL pundits, or maybe where there’s smoke there’s fire. Feels a little smoky to me. Which, if true, would lead to him making moves that aren’t necessarily in the best interests of this organization long-term. Like giving in to veterans in the final year of their respective deals, paying them extra and getting nothing in return. Has Pete Carroll lost the locker room? With Wilson’s media antics over the offseason, I think it’s fair to say that may be the case.

Let’s go to Russell Wilson next, because you’re looking at an empty start to this season for a guy who has the highest passer rating in the NFL. 895 yards (8th in the NFL), 10.4 yards per attempt (1st) and the aforementioned 133.6 passer rating, with 7 TDs and 0 INTs. But, you know what I see? I see someone padding out his stats. I see someone who is continuing to hunt exclusively for deep balls to get more highlights shown to the national audience. I see someone who has been in range of a Hail Mary opportunity for two consecutive weeks, yet checks down for a meaningless long gain as the clock expires to make his numbers look better, rather than chance throwing a meaningless interception. I understand that those are not high-percentage plays; almost certainly they would fall incomplete. But, what’s the harm in trying? The check-down is GUARANTEED to fail; at least there’s a small percentage chance of success. You’ve seen all the Aaron Rodgers throws; you saw Kyler Murray against the Bills last year.

I’m not saying I want Wilson to take crazy chances like he started to do at times last year; I’m just saying I want him to run the fucking offense he demanded all along. HE wanted us to bring in Shane Waldron. Shane Waldron has looked okay so far in calling plays. But, Wilson is going fucking rogue.

The offensive line was a disaster against the Vikings, I’ll give you that. But, when you see them struggle to protect, you know what you’re supposed to do? Start checking down and throwing quick (outside of Hail Mary situations, of course)! You don’t continue to try to launch deep balls! I put that squarely on Russell Wilson. Do you see how Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers perform in the face of pressure like that? They can’t wait to get the ball out of their hands! Wilson, your biggest complaint this past offseason was getting hit too much; do you see AT ALL your part in this?!

The longer this season goes along, and the more the Seahawks continue to look like shit in entire halves of ballgames, the more I’m over Russell Wilson. Fuck it, man. He doesn’t want to be here; you can see it in the way he plays. If he doesn’t want to be here, I don’t want to be forced to watch a slowed-down version of a guy who refuses to get rid of the ball on time, and also can’t manage to scramble his way out of trouble.

Up next: Ken Norton needs to be fired. He needs to be unemployed, and he needs to get as far away from this Seahawks defense as possible. He’s not a defensive coordinator, period. If Pete Carroll wants someone to run the Pete Carroll defense, then Pete Carroll needs to fucking start calling the plays.

I’m very glad the Seahawks didn’t do anything crazy with Bobby Wagner’s deal to try to free up some more money, because there’s no reason to take on his $20 million cap hit next year. The only cause for concern is the fact that Pete Carroll will probably still be here, and he won’t want to move on. But, this team needs a rebuild from top to bottom, and one major renovation piece is to get rid of old, dead weight. We need to get young, fast, and hungry at linebacker. I don’t need Bobby Wagner preaching on a pulpit at his weekly press conferences talking about whatever book he just read; I need him to make some fucking impact plays on defense!

Use the money he’s due to shore up the secondary, because everyone back there can go as far as I’m concerned. Just make Jamal Adams a strongside linebacker already and get it over with! He can’t cover for shit! Quandre Diggs isn’t Earl Thomas; he’s more of a Right Place At The Right Time sort of impact player. The cornerbacks are atrocious; we need a full tear-down at that position (starting with Tre Flowers, this week).

I’m sick of this team, I guess is my point. I’m sick of watching a team struggle just to make it to the Wild Card Round every fucking year. We wasted our dynasty opportunity a decade ago, and the consequence has been late-round draft picks year after year after year. I’d rather this team just bottom out, except – of course – we traded away our first rounder next year to the fucking Jets!

Which means I’m stuck with this team. Fucking great.

The Seahawks are who we thought they were. They’ll probably beat the bad-to-mediocre teams (unless those teams happen to play killer defense), and they’ll probably lose to the good teams. If there are enough bad-to-mediocre teams on our schedule, then we’ll contend for a wild card spot. But, even if we get that far, we’re destined to lose early in the playoffs yet again, before we run it all back again next year for some reason.

God I hate sports.

The 2021 Seattle Seahawks Regular Season Preview Extraordinaire!

If you feel like reading about my position-by-position breakdowns, click HERE and go through all the links at the top. And, in case you missed it, I talked briefly about my predictions for how the 2021 NFL season is going to go as a whole HERE. There’s a pretty significant spoiler in there about my feelings on the Seahawks, which I’m going to get to directly.

I think the 2021 Seattle Seahawks are going to be disappointing. That’s not a very unique hill to die on. If you’re a playoff contender, only one team’s season WON’T be disappointing. But, I guess that’s my point: the 2021 Seattle Seahawks aren’t going to win the Super Bowl. For a team with Russell Wilson as its quarterback, for a team that has been to two Super Bowls in the last decade – and been to the playoffs in all but one year dating back to 2012 – not winning the Super Bowl is always going to be disappointing. Seasons change and we’re all getting fucking older, and it’s reasonable to wonder if we’re all going to die without the Seahawks ever winning a Super Bowl again.

In skimming last year’s preview post, I think my feelings about the team are similar, but for slightly different reasons. I was probably a little higher on the offense than I am this season, and for the first half that was validated by what we saw on the field. Then, the level of our defensive competition improved, and we were unable to adjust to what they were doing to us. On the flipside, there were lots of worries about the defense heading into the season – also validated by what we saw on the field – but that tightened up in the second half (as the level of offensive competition declined, and we were able to adjust to what teams were doing to us). Ultimately, we were looking at a fatally flawed team in 2020, and we’re still looking at a fatally flawed team in 2021.

There’s a lot to like about the offense once again. The talent is on par with the most talented offensive teams in the NFL. We have a Top 5 quarterback, we have arguably the best wide receiver duo, we have a stable of quality running backs and tight ends (when healthy), and our offensive line is good enough (especially with Duane Brown back in the fold). I only have one concern about the offense, but it’s a big one: Shane Waldron.

He’s never called plays before. He’s never been in charge of setting up an offense or scheming against an opposing defense. I don’t know what it was, exactly, he did with the Rams, but he wasn’t The Guy. The buck didn’t stop with Shane Waldron. We ASSUME – since he worked under offensive genius Sean McVay – that we’re going to get “The Rams’ offense” with our Seahawks talent executing it. And, we ASSUME – because the Rams’ offense has always been so great for them since McVay was brought over there – that it’s going to translate seamlessly to our team. But, we don’t know if it’s going to work out at all!

There’s a chance the offense is more efficient, and we’re able to connect on the short passing game, which in turn will open up the deep passing game again, which in turn will also open up our rushing attack. But, I would argue there’s an equally-good chance (if not a better chance) that the offense is even less efficient than it was before, and we’re reduced to an embarrassing shambles with a guy who doesn’t know how to call plays or adjust in-game to what defenses are throwing at us.

Frankly, I’m leaning towards the offense being a frustrating mess more often than not. What’s more likely? Some first-time offensive coordinator – who no one’s ever heard of outside of hardcore football circles – comes in and takes the play-calling world by storm? Or, like the 8th coordinator poached from the Rams under Sean McVay goes to another team and sucks like all the rest?

Why is no one talking about this? Why isn’t this a bigger story? Everyone’s just taking for granted that the Seahawks are going to look exactly like the Rams offensively; it makes no sense. We’ve got a quarterback who can’t shit until he holds out for the long bomb – taking umpteen sacks in the process by holding the ball too long; we’ve got a head coach who wants to run the ball more than anyone else in the league; and we’ve got an offensive line that still has to face the front sevens of the rest of the NFC West six times a year (plus playoffs), on top of many other difficult D-Lines around the league. This is a recipe for utter disaster!

Honestly, I really question whether or not Brian Schottenheimer was the main problem last year. You’re telling me he doesn’t have a short or intermediate passing game in his playbook? You’re telling me HE was the reason this team never called screen passes or crossing patterns? Or, is it because the quarterback always wants to throw the home run ball, and he can’t see over all the linemen in his way to hit his receivers 10 yards downfield? Come on, let’s think about this rationally here.

I expect this offense to struggle mightily through the first month or two, until this team goes back to calling the same plays it’s called over the last decade. At which point we MIGHT see marginal improvement, but by that time we’ll have already lost too many games to get the top seed in the NFC, and it’ll be iffy at best if we can even compete for the divisional title.

While we’re on the topic, let’s get to probably the biggest reason why the 2021 Seahawks will be disappointing: the NFC West.

They’re all better. I’m just going to say that right off the bat. The 49ers are healthy again; they figure to have enough talent to contend for a playoff spot (and maybe even the division). The Cardinals were 8-8 last year and their quarterback was playing injured for most of the second half of the season. The Rams won 10 games, beat the Seahawks in Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, and VASTLY upgraded at quarterback with Stafford over Goff. I fully expect the Rams – still stacked at virtually every single position group – to not only win the NFC West, but have the best record in the entire conference. This isn’t just reverse-jinx posturing; I’m staking my fantasy football life on it (going all in on Stafford and the Rams’ defense, earlier than probably most any other non-Rams fan in existence).

It’s almost an impossible ask to expect the Seahawks to win this division in back-to-back seasons! Especially since you can’t really point to any one thing the Seahawks do as definitely exceptional. The Rams have a great offense and the best defensive player alive. The 49ers have a great offensive scheme (if maybe lacking in talent at the quarterback position) and a stacked front seven on defense. The Cardinals have one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the league, who almost always keeps them in ballgames with a chance to win it at the end.

The Seahawks have … a less-mobile Russell Wilson, in a new offense. They have maybe the best receiver in the game in D.K. Metcalf … who was largely neutralized in the second half of last season thanks to countless double teams and defenses (or just Jalen Ramsey) blanketing his side of the field. The only certainty is that the Seahawks have the best Safety Who Gets Sacks in football. Okay. Who was the last team that featured a sacking safety that won the Super Bowl? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

At the same time, though, I can’t say it’s all Doom & Gloom either. Because, as I said up top, this team IS talented, pretty much throughout. There’s enough talent on offense that I fully expect – in 2-minute situations, when Wilson is calling the plays in hurry-up – points will be scored. My argument is: it’s not going to be as seamless as everyone is expecting; it’s going to be a struggle sometimes. The Seahawks aren’t going to lead the league in points; they’re not even going to be in the Top 5. Talent alone will probably keep us in the Top 10, but I don’t think that’s going to be good enough to push us over the hump into the upper stratosphere.

Sure, there’s also talent on defense. I think the starting linebacker unit is solid, the defensive line should be at least on par with what we saw in the second half of 2020, and I have zero issues with the safeties. But, the cornerbacks are an obvious weakness, and there’s still the Ken Norton in the room. He’s a terrible defensive coordinator! He might’ve been okay when there were Hall of Famers throughout this side of the ball, but literally anyone could’ve coordinated those defenses and had a top DVOA unit. This is a group with a lot of young guys in prominent roles, a lot of fringe-starters getting full-time snaps, who desperately need to be coached up, and Ken Norton is completely incapable of doing that outside of the linebacker room. He should be a linebackers coach; that’s where his ceiling is from a coaching perspective. But, he’s in charge of the entire defense, and that’s where this team gets fucked.

The defense hasn’t been the same since Dan Quinn left for Atlanta. I’d feel a lot better about things if we’d brought him back this year, instead of letting Dallas take him in.

So, you know, expect a lot of frustrating defensive series. Expect teams to continue to dink and dunk on us at will, at times, in every single game. Expect a good amount of chunk plays to go against us because our cornerbacks are crappy and our safeties can’t be everywhere at once. Then, expect us to adjust and slow teams down for a while in the second or third quarters of games, before they finally figure out how to move it again midway through the fourth quarter.

In short, expect the Seahawks defense you’ve come to know and loathe since Dan Quinn left. Along with it, expect the usual Cardiac Seahawks games where they’re maddeningly close until the bitter end, with the final possession deciding the game’s outcome. You like one-score games? I hope so, because the Seahawks enjoy nothing more than playing the same fucking Greatest Hits for us every single week.

I haven’t done this in a while, so let’s go game-by-game and see if we can predict wins and losses. This is fun for about 30 seconds, right?

  • @ Indy – Win
  • Tenn – Win
  • @ Minn – Win
  • @ Frisco – Loss
  • Rams – Loss
  • @ Pitt – Loss
  • Saints – Win
  • Jags – Win
  • BYE
  • @ Pack – Loss
  • Zona – Loss
  • @ Wash – Win
  • Frisco – Win
  • @ Hou – Win
  • @ Rams – Loss
  • Bears – Win
  • Lions – Win
  • @ Zona – Win

I have us at 11-6 in this scenario. It might not shake out EXACTLY in this fashion, but I think 5-3 heading into the BYE is probably reasonable. I think 2-4 against the division is probably the difference-maker between us or the 49ers getting the higher wild card seed (I think we probably end up with the same record, but they figure out a way to sweep the Cards and get one over on the Rams).

I’d love nothing more than to be wrong. There’s a small part of me that wants to believe the Seahawks have been on this upward trajectory since 2017 (the last time we missed the playoffs). We were 9-7 that year, and have improved by one win every season since, with us finally winning the division again in 2020. The next step in that progression is to not only win the division, but take the top seed in the NFC again. And, with that – ideally – a spot in the Super Bowl.

But, usually, teams who do that are able to get that one final piece to the puzzle in the lead-up to that season. In 2013, for instance, we went out and got Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. The Bucs last year got Tom Brady and loaded up on veterans on defense. When was the last team you saw that was THIS flawed that somehow managed to improve? Almost always – when a team is this flawed – there’s negative regression the other way.

Frankly, the Seahawks have been flawed every season since 2017; things can’t keep improving forever.

This feels like a total meltdown waiting to happen. We were already teetering on the brink this offseason with Russell Wilson complaining in the media. I’m half-expecting everything to totally fall apart, with the final nail being a Wilson trade out of here. And knowing our Seattle luck with trading superstars, he will hamstring us with the list of teams we’re allowed to trade him to, resulting in our getting a terrible package of picks and players in return.

Officially, I’m predicting the Seahawks will be 11-6 and the 6th seed in the NFC. But, secretly I wouldn’t be shocked to see us fall to 8-9, miss out on the playoffs, and have all hell break loose.

Earlier this week I called out the Ravens as the team having a Season From Hell. But, don’t be surprised if it’s us. Again, I hope I’m wrong, but I feel it in my gut: the future looks grim.

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.

***

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.

All The Russell Wilson Chatter Is Boring To Me

Russell Wilson’s personality is as bland and vanilla as it gets in sports. He spews an avalanche of clichés in every single interview, as if his brain is on autopilot, and some artificial intelligence pulls random clips from its central database, shoving them out of his mouth as quickly as his vocal chords can formulate the sounds. Do you want to meet the absolute KING of being non-controversial? I have yet to find anyone who says less with more than Russell Wilson.

Which is why his recent barnstorming of national sports media entities has been so noteworthy. It feels like he’s finally saying something! Maybe even – *GASP* – speaking his own mind?!

Apparently, in this world we live in today, you always have to take a side (as if the issues aren’t more nuanced and complex than that, be it politics, religion, or the highest paid member of a football team and his desire to not be hit so fucking much). Some people are upset with Russell Wilson; they feel he’s throwing both the offensive line and the organization as a whole under the bus (especially those in charge of personnel). I can see that, in a sense. He’s the highest paid player on the team and one of the highest paid players in the entire league; quit your bitching and do your fucking job. If you’re going to hamstring an organization with your astronomical salary – when guys like Tom Brady (guys you’re envious of, because he wins so much) take slightly less in guaranteed money to help their teams fill out their rosters with higher-calibre talent – then you don’t get to complain when they don’t have enough money to stack the O-Line full of All Pros.

I mean, I guess they could stack the line like that, if they wanted to have zero talent whatsoever on defense.

It’s a team game. Football teams are quite large. You have to pay 53 of them and then some, and there’s only so many high-value contracts to go around. When one player – like, say, the quarterback – takes up anywhere from 15-20% of the salary cap, that’s obviously going to be to the detriment of the rest of the roster. As any douchebag on the prowl in a nightclub will tell you, it’s a numbers game!

That being said, Russell Wilson has a point. He’s being sacked too damn much. He’s being hit too damn much. While he has been remarkably durable in his nine seasons – never missing a game – if we’re not more careful, one of those hits WILL seriously injure him. And then where will we be?

Now, obviously, as I said before, this is a team game. It’s not all on the offensive line. Russell Wilson shoulders his share of the blame, and he’s owned up to that. People seem to want to gloss over that fact, particularly when they think he’s denigrating his O-Line; I guess people will always hear what they want to hear, and read into things when they’re not necessarily there. But, it’s also true that TOO OFTEN, he’s being pressured before he has anywhere to go with the football. As a winner, as a never-give-up kind of guy (a trait we’ve come to admire since he got here), Wilson is going to try to do whatever it takes to make a play. Think of all the dazzling highlights over the years that have come off of busted plays! Those are firmly entrenched in our memory banks for the rest of time!

While the O-Line had a pretty good rate of success in pass protection this past season, I would question who the competition is from game to game. Are the games against inferior defenses propping up the utter disasters, like we saw against the Rams (THREE FUCKING TIMES), when they ran roughshod over our O-Line like they were a wet paper sack? I don’t care about our pass protection success rate against the likes of the Jets, Falcons, and an injury-ravaged 49ers team; I care when we’re going up against the elite defenses and can’t do a God damned thing offensively to move the ball!

That isn’t Russell’s fault. Especially those fucking Rams games.

If I were Wilson, I’d be furious too, seeing what Tom Brady had to enjoy in his playoff run. They played three games, all on the road, leading up to hosting the Super Bowl, and he was NEVER pressured all that much. Maybe a little in that Green Bay game, but they still put up plenty of points. To absolutely dominate a solid Chiefs defense in that Super Bowl was a masterclass in protection and play-calling.

Which gets me back to the whole team aspect. It’s not all on Wilson’s shoulders, nor is it all on the O-Line, but you have to throw play-calling and offensive scheme into the mix.

Ultimately, this makes the timing of this media campaign so confusing, because the Seahawks seemed to have already put in the work to deal with this issue in hiring Shane Waldron from the Rams. We’re assuming, with good reason, that our offense going forward will feature a much quicker passing game, based on timing and improved route running to get guys open easier. So, Wilson won’t have to spend more than 2.5 seconds on the regular waiting for guys to get open, only to huck up a 50/50 ball or throw it out of bounds while getting smashed by very large defensive linemen.

This is a guy, not for nothing, who was reported to be a favored choice of Wilson to boot! He got what he wanted: he had input about the team’s next offensive coordinator (and, by design, input into how the offense will function going forward). And he’s still complaining? What’s the endgame here?

If it’s telling the front office to find a better left guard, I think they got the hint. If Mike Iupati is re-signed one more fucking time, I’ll fucking lose my shit! He is TOO OLD! Retire already; you are literally going to kill yourself decades prematurely at this rate! Other than that, and maybe improving the center spot, I think you have to be relatively happy with the offensive line we have. Duane Brown is still playing at a Pro Bowl level, Damien Lewis looks like an entrenched starter at right guard for the next decade, and Brandon Shell played MUCH better than any of us expected, until someone rolled up on his ankle and he had to miss time and play hurt the rest of the way.

If it has to do with protection under those circumstances – of injury and the like – then a better scheme (not just with routes, but also extra protections/chips on the end of the line) should help fix that as well.

But, if Wilson’s ultimate objective is more ulterior, then clearly we have a bigger problem on our hands. Many believe this is his way of ultimately forcing his way out of Seattle. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone, particularly when he ended up marrying Ciara; not that I would put the blame on her in any way. I believe Russell Wilson wants to be a mogul and he’s always had that as his goal; marrying someone like Ciara is just part of that. But, he wants to be a mover and a shaker, and for some reason you can’t do that in a place like Seattle? It has to be L.A. or New York or maybe Florida or Texas or Chicago.

If this was just about football, and being the best quarterback of all time, there’s no reason why he couldn’t do that here. The Seahawks are one of the most stable, successful organizations in the NFL; if he wanted to, he could win all he wants here. But, he’s about more than football.

I agree with the point that Mike Salk made on the Brock & Salk podcast this week; I think this is the beginning of the end. It started a teensy bit last year when he made a comment about wanting more stars on the Seahawks. It’s ballooned out here with his latest comments about not wanting to be hit so hard. This coincides with a reduction of the NFL’s salary cap, at a time when the Seahawks have little wiggle room to acquiesce to his demands. If you think the Seahawks are in a position to go out and sign a high-priced offensive lineman, you’re out of your mind! So, when the Seahawks ultimately fail to cave in to Wilson’s demands – not because they’re unreasonable, but because they financially can’t afford to at this moment in time – Wilson can look back and say, “Hey, I tried, but they won’t play ball with me, so I want out.” That could be as early as next offseason – assuming we fail to win it all, as we most likely won’t – but I bet if it doesn’t, it’s at least within the next two years.

If Russell Wilson ends up signing another extension with the Seahawks – beyond this one that is set to expire after 2023, not counting Franchise Tag years – I will be SHOCKED.

At which point, assuming the Seahawks don’t win a Super Bowl next season, maybe he’ll be doing us a favor by demanding a trade. If we can get a crazy-high draft pick, or take on some other team’s disgruntled superstar quarterback, maybe it’ll be better for everyone?

But, for right now, it’s all just noise and speculation. I wouldn’t even be writing about it if there was literally ANYTHING ELSE in Seattle sports to talk about.

It’s Time For The Seahawks To Face Up To What Russell Wilson Can & Can’t Do

Russell Wilson is 32 years old. 2021 will be his tenth season in the NFL, following a full four years in college. As has been discussed previously – but hasn’t been made a big-enough deal of – he’s no longer a spring chicken. Yes, he can still run – he’s run for over 4,500 yards in his NFL career, including 513 in 2020 – but he can’t escape like he used to. It used to be pretty rare when a defensive lineman brought him down in the open field; now it’s happening regularly. He isn’t able to juke guys and get around them as much as before. It’s father time! He is, and always will be, undefeated.

It took a few years before the league came to terms with the fact that Russell Wilson is a quality pocket passer. We saw what he was capable of in the latter half of 2015, when he put it all together and shredded the league with his arm. That’s been the version of Russell Wilson we’ve been trying ever-since to recapture. Over the last half-decade, Wilson has been more of a pocket passer, and the results have been great. Yet, every year after his rookie season, he’s been sacked a MINIMUM of 40 times; he’s almost always at or near the top in all of football. That can’t continue. Not with his aging body and slowing legs.

It makes sense, though. While the Seahawks’ offensive line has been better the last few years, it has never TRULY been great (and some seasons, it’s been among the very worst in the game). And, to be honest, I don’t think the O-Line has EVER been particularly good at pass protection since Pete Carroll joined the organization; he likes to run the ball, he wants guys who can make that happen, to the detriment of our quarterback’s safety. We’ve been able to manage thanks to Wilson’s legs and his ability to make plays out of thin air. Yet, even at his most fleet-of-foot, he’s still been knocked on his ass more than just about anyone else over the life of his NFL career.

With Shane Waldron as our new offensive coordinator, the hope is that the Seahawks’ offense will look a lot more like the Rams’ offense. If it works out the way it should, this might be the smartest hire by Pete Carroll since he decided to hitch his wagon to John Schneider as General Manager.

The Rams specialize in lots of running and lots of play action passing. The Rams love to run a wide variety of plays out of similar-looking pre-snap sets, to better fool opposing defenses and keep them on their toes just a fraction of a second longer (that fraction is all the difference you need in the NFL).

The Rams also do what the Seahawks have been completely incapable of doing – except for that brief run in 2015 – get the ball out of their quarterback’s hands quickly. Jared Goff, for all his faults, has yet to be sacked more than 33 times in a season (and other than that one year, he’s never been sacked more than 25 times since he became a full-time starter). Imagine what the Seahawks could do if we were able to shed TWENTY sacks from Wilson’s body every year!

While the O-Line – and its construction by the people in charge – deserves its share of the blame, just as much should be placed on the scheme itself. Yes, Russell Wilson is one of the best deep-ball passers in the NFL. But, taking so many shots also comes with a lot more risk: holding the ball a lot longer, waiting for guys to get open. If those guys end up covered, that leaves Wilson trying to find other alternatives; it’s in that amount of time where the pocket usually collapses, leaving Wilson either running for his life, or cowering under the combined weight of multiple linemen closing in around him. If Wilson is forced to get the ball out quickly – by completing more short and intermediate crossing routes – then that’s less on his shoulders. Taking some of the decision-making off of his plate should be only to the team’s benefit. Wilson is always going to want to make the big highlight play; eliminating that as an option in favor of safer, less-sexy passing plays, should help us in that almighty metric of 3rd down conversion percentage.

And, while Wilson is slower, he’s not yet a total statue. Tom Brady has made a career out of quick passing, but he can’t run for shit unless it’s a quarterback sneak that only needs to get one yard! With Wilson’s legs – and the Rams’ style of offense that loves to feature designed quarterback roll-outs – the Seahawks should be able to take advantage of those plays far better than the Rams ever could with Goff; and, to his credit, Goff was good-enough on those types of plays as it was. These plays can still allow for Wilson to gain yards with his legs, but it should also drastically reduce the number of “playground” type plays where Wilson has to escape danger and throw long on the fly. These types of plays dried up CONSIDERABLY over the last half of the 2020 season, because of Wilson’s decline and the league catching up to what we’ve been doing all along. So, maybe it’s time to put those plays to rest in favor of something new.

I hope Waldron is able to fully implement the Rams’ style of offense, I hope the Seahawks have players who can adapt to it, and I hope everyone is able to buy in and let the new guy run the show (I’m looking at you, Meddling Pete Carroll). Word on the street is, Brian Schottenheimer either chose to keep, or was forced to keep, about 70% of Darrell Bevell’s playbook during the previous offensive coordinator change-over. That better not happen here. It’s time for the Seahawks to make wholesale changes. I don’t care how difficult it’s going to be with COVID-19 and the lack of in-person instruction. Make this new scheme easy to understand on paper, so when we finally can congregate together later in the summer, we’ll be off and running and ready to dominate in 2021.

Russell Wilson Has No One To Blame But Himself

The post-mortem never ends! After such an interesting football season, there’s no way to limit the discourse to just a week’s worth of posts, so here we are, bleeding into Week Two.

As has been discussed previously, when the Seahawks opened the season with a pass-heavy offensive attack, it was shocking to say the least. Let Russ Cook went from a back-alley, grassroots Internet plea, to our weekly reality! No one could’ve seen it coming; since when do teams ever listen to their fans when it comes to scheme? Literally never. Not one single time in the history of recorded sports (probably; I have no idea, actually).

Of course, not for nothing, but “Let Russ Cook” and all its culinary derivatives quickly became an overused cliche, followed by a detestful reminder of bygone days never to be seen again.

Even if we had let ourselves dream big – that maybe one day Pete Carroll would see the light and turn the keys to the offense over to our quarterback – those ideals were quickly dashed when we ultimately came to the realization that if Wilson ever shit the bed, Carroll would be all too happy to take the power back and assert his dominance.

We had five good weeks. Five weeks of living the dream. Six weeks, if you include the happiness hangover of the Seahawks’ BYE. But, then came the Arizona game.

That was one we should have won, but lost. That was one we had ample opportunities to win, and failed at every turn. To that point, Russell Wilson had thrown 19 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions, and had zero games with multiple turnovers. Against Arizona, it was a 3/3 split. The first interception was that infamous one thrown at the Arizona goalline, that Budda Baker returned for 90 yards until D.K. Metcalf made him his prey. We like to gloss over that one because of how fast Metcalf ran, and because the defense ultimately held the Cardinals to 0 points, turning it over on downs. BUT, the ultimate takeaway (as it were) is that the Seahawks missed out on 7 points on that drive, in a game they lost by 3 in overtime. The second interception was another poor decision, lobbed from the Arizona 30 yard line. Considering our field goal kicker was perfect this year, it’s safe to say that’s another 3 points we were deprived of. And, finally, in overtime, we had the ball with under two minutes to go. That’s a situation where Russell Wilson is supposed to earn his money! You’re a franchise quarterback, so you MUST go out there and win the game in that scenario. We got to midfield and Wilson sealed his fate with his final INT of the game.

The thing is, it’s not like Wilson was on a short leash. This wasn’t a One Strike & You’re Out deal. Wilson came back and threw 4 more TDs against an injury-ravaged 49ers team the very next week.

Then came the Bills game. Two more interceptions, including a failed 4th & 1 play at the Buffalo 5 yard line. Not only didn’t we trust our offense to run the ball for a yard (to be fair, Travis Homer failed in that charge on 3rd & 1 the play prior), but Wilson ultimately couldn’t get the job done with his arm OR his legs. Wilson went on to take a miserable sack with a lost fumble to start the second half (when we were already down by 14) and then threw a desperation INT in the fourth quarter to salt the game away.

To compound matters, the very next week at the Rams, Wilson had arguably his worst game of the season: 0 TDs, 2 INTs. Poor decisionmaking all around in this one. We never had a chance. That effectively made it the requisite Three Strikes & Your Out scenario we’d all been dreading (with that Giants loss a fourth strike to put yet another nail in the coffin of the Let Russ Cook movement).

There were countless instances of Wilson trying to throw the ball into tight windows when he would’ve been better served to check down, run with it, or throw the ball away. There were SO MANY times he held the ball WAY too long, resulting in a sack. As I’ve said repeatedly, he’s not the speedster he once was; he’s not scrambling his way out of these jams like he used to. I don’t know how much of that is on him, vs. how much of that is on the offensive plays that were being called (the plays designed by the fired Brian Schottenheimer), but clearly the coaching staff believes the OC was at fault, and I’m inclined to agree.

What’s more likely: a quarterback on a Hall of Fame track, suddenly turning into the second coming of Matt Schaub? Or, that quarterback trying to make due as best as he could with poorly-designed plays and an offensive coordinator too inept to adjust to the way opposing defenses adjusted to him in the first place? Tack on, admittedly, Wilson trying to do too much (under so much pressure to win, on top of self-imposed pressure to stay in the MVP race), and that’s a recipe for what we saw in the second half of this season, culminating with one of the very worst playoff losses in Seahawks history.

So, maybe Wilson DOES have someone else to blame but himself. But, I’m still under the impression that he would have preferred the Seahawks retain Brian Schottenheimer; Schotty would’ve given Wilson the best opportunity to continue cooking, as it were. I still keep coming back to that Cardinals game. At that point, defenses hadn’t really figured us out yet. And so many of his errors in that one were COMPLETELY unforced! Even if we had gone on to lose to the Bills and Rams, as well as one of our final seven games (a la the Giants), if we’d just swept the Cardinals like we were supposed to, we would’ve been 13-3, the #1 seed in the NFC, and we would have hosted our first playoff game this past weekend (instead of, again, out of the playoffs entirely thanks to last week’s upset). I’m assuming that the Packers or Saints would have taken care of business against the Rams, and we would have faced Tom Brady and the Bucs for the right to go up against the winner of the Packers/Saints in the NFC Championship Game. A game that also would’ve been played in Seattle (had we prevailed against Tampa in this alternate universe).

Instead, we’re sitting at home watching all the action. Russell Wilson STILL won’t have an MVP award in his trophy case. And next year he’s going to have to figure it out with a new man calling plays for this offense. A man, by all accounts, who will push for Pete Carroll’s run-heavy approach. Possibly meaning that Wilson will NEVER get his MVP award, so long as he’s on the Seahawks and Carroll is the one in charge.

So, yeah, ultimately it’s on Wilson. Had he made better decisions – even with the crappy plays that were called – we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Looking At Potential Seahawks Playoff Seedings

Okay, the Seahawks have won the NFC West; now what?

Well, as we all know, there are seven teams going to the playoffs in each conference: the four division winners and three wild card teams. That means instead of the usual top two teams in the NFC getting a round one BYE, there’s only one team with that honor. That makes things that much harder for everyone else.

Here’s what we know: the Seahawks can finish with either the first, second, or third seed in the NFC. Here’s a quick breakdown on how that all works:

#1 Seed – To get this, and the resultant first round BYE, the Seahawks would need to defeat the 49ers this week. We would also need the Packers to lose at the Bears, and the Saints to lose at the Panthers. This is the least likely scenario. While it’s conceivable that the Bears could win – as they are playing for a wild card spot – the Panthers are pretty terrible (with a 5-10 record). It’s encouraging, at least, that all of these games are on the road, as well as divisional matchups (which should come with more familiarity and hatred of their respective opponents), but the talent discrepencies are probably too much for the underdogs to overcome (saying nothing of the distinct probability that it’s entirely possible for the Seahawks to biff it against the 49ers, who just defeated the playoff-contending Cardinals last weekend).

#2 Seed – To get this, the Seahawks would need to defeat the 49ers, and have either the Packers or Saints lose. If the Packers win and the Saints lose, the Packers would be 13-3, the Seahawks would be 12-4, and the Saints would be 11-5; if the Saints win and the Packers lose, all three teams would be 12-4 and by virture of tiebreakers, the Seahawks would land in the middle (with the Saints taking the top spot and the Packers falling to third). I would buy this, but it doesn’t seem quite as likely as the next scenario.

#3 Seed – The Seahawks end up here if they lose to the 49ers, regardless of what happens in the other two games. The Seahawks also end up here if they beat the 49ers and the Packers and Saints both prevail as well.

I don’t have to tell you that being the 3-seed is far from ideal, but I guess it all depends on what happens with the wild card teams.

There are four teams vying for three wild card spots. Tampa Bay is in the driver’s seat for the 5-seed (and the right to go on the road in the first round to face the hapless winner of the NFC East – still, somehow, to be determined), so we’re all but guaranteed to avoid Tom Brady & Co. in the first round. The only way Tampa would fall to a 6-seed (they can’t be lower than that) is if they lose at home to a 4-win Falcons team, and the Rams beat the Cardinals (without Jared Goff).

The Cardinals need to beat the Rams in L.A. to make the playoffs. If Arizona and Green Bay win, then Arizona will be the 6-seed playing the Seahawks (assuming the Saints also win, which I am taking as a given for the rest of this article). If Arizona and Chicago win, then the Cardinals will be the 7-seed playing the Seahawks (sending the 6-seeded Bears to the 3-seeded Packers).

If the Rams and Packers win, then the Rams will be the 6-seed playing the Seahawks. If the Rams and Bears win, then the Bears will be the 7-seed playing the 2-seeded Seahawks. Of all of the scenarios where the Seahawks fail to get the #1 seed, I think this last one is most ideal. That would send a 10-6 Rams team to Green Bay, which is conceivably a matchup they could win (assuming Goff is cleared to return for the playoffs). The downside, of course, is having to face the Packers in the Divisional Round, albeit we’d get the game in Seattle. And, if the Bucs could figure out a way to go into New Orleans and prevail, there’s a world where the Seahawks don’t have to leave Seattle until the Super Bowl.

My prediction for how this shakes out is this: the Packers, Saints, and Seahawks all win (making that the order of the top three seeds). Finally,I’m guessing the Cardinals beat the Rams, to make the first round look like this:

  • Green Bay – BYE
  • New Orleans vs. L.A. Rams
  • Seattle vs. Arizona
  • Washington vs. Tampa Bay

With the AFC looking like this:

  • Kansas City – BYE
  • Buffalo vs. Miami
  • Pittsburgh vs. Indianapolis
  • Tennessee vs. Baltimore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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