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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s this week’s lineup:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Barely Get By Deshaun Watson & The Texans

This was a game you’ll love if you’re a fan of numbers.  Specifically offensive numbers, as we had oodles.  Russell Wilson:  452 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 30 rushing yards.  Deshaun Watson:  402 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs, 67 rushing yards.  DeAndre Hopkins:  11 catches, 224 yards, 1 TD.  Will Fuller:  5 catches, 125 yards, 2 TDs.  Tyler Lockett:  6 catches, 121 yards.  Paul Richardson:  6 catches, 105 yards, 2 TDs.  Jimmy Graham:  4 catches, 39 yards, 2 TDs.  Hell, even Lamar Miller had 54 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards, and 2 combined TDs.  Offense.  For.  Days.

But, it was pretty slim pickin’s as far as defense is concerned.  Earl Thomas came back with a pick-six after giving up a long opening-drive touchdown bomb.  Richard Sherman had a couple interceptions after being challenged with impunity all game.  Jadeveon Clowney was a beast, both in pass rush and particularly in the run game.  The Seahawks had 5 sacks and 9 tackles for loss, including big games for Bennett, Clark, Wright, and Wagner.  Even Dwight Freeney got in on the action with half a sack.

All of those things were great, but you don’t come out of a 41-38 game and heap praise on the defense.  And, I gotta tell ya, while it was a refreshing change of pace to see the Seahawks go out there and sling the ball up and down the field, I think I still prefer it when our defense is the best group on the field.  There’s something about both teams scoring on 13 possessions out of 26 (not counting end-of-half kneeldowns) that’s a little overwhelming.

What I did like was the fact that no team was ever up by more than 7 points.  That’s pretty rare, considering how much scoring took place.  I mean, the Over damn near hit before halftime!  When there’s a game like this, it usually involves the Seahawks looking like crap for the first half, then scrambling to come back by multiple scores to win by some miracle at the end.  This one was just a slugfest; two insane offenses throwing haymakers back and forth.

In a game like this, you can take it one of two ways:  you can breathe a sigh of relief and live with your heads in the clouds over how the offense moved the ball.  Just throw out the books and appreciate this one for what it was:  probably the most exciting game (from start to finish) in the NFL this season (perhaps narrowly edging that Chiefs/Raiders Thursday Night game a couple weeks back, but I don’t want to succumb to recency bias).  Or, if you’re like me, maybe you can’t help but see some of the warts.

I’m willing to more or less overlook the L.O.B.’s lack of dominance in this one, because let’s face it:  they’ve pulled this offense’s ass out of the fire on PLENTY of occasions.  Every once in a while, they deserve to have a bad game and somehow the team still finds a way to win.

I thought, for the most part, the run defense looked pretty good, aside from some key breakdowns in contain when it comes to Deshaun Watson.  I mean, where was the spy?  Isn’t this game tailor-made for Bobby Wagner to have eyes on Watson all game?  What you absolutely can’t have happen is the line getting sucked over to one side, with 20 yards of open field for Watson to punish us.

More than anything, you can say the Seahawks’ defense – while mediocre as a whole – made just enough big plays when it mattered most.  The aforementioned Earl Thomas interception returned for a touchdown.  The Sherman interception that led directly to a field goal that gave the Seahawks their first lead of the game at 27-24.  The sacks and D-Line pressure that led to the Texans’ five punts on the day.  And, the biggest play of the day that no one is talking about:

With just under 3 minutes to go in the game, and the Texans up 38-34, the Seahawks were driving.  Russell Wilson just scrambled for 21 yards that had me literally exclaim, “Wow, how did he do that?!”  He stepped up in the pocket and ran through a nexus of three Texans who all converged on a single spot, and instead of getting his block knocked off, he somehow caused all three of them to hit one another as he scampered to the 20 yard line.  At that point, it was without question that the Seahawks would re-take the lead, and the only question that would remain would be:  did we leave the Texans too much time on the clock?  Except, instead, Wilson treated everyone to his single worst throw of the game, an out-route that was easily picked off, as if he had intended to throw it to the defender.

(which, I mean, let’s not rule this out.  You know as well as I do that Russell Wilson is a wizard.  He just is.  He’s magic, and we’re all fortunate to be graced with his presence.  So, hear me out on this:  what if he could see into the future, realize we were in the process of scoring too quickly, and had we done so, Deshaun Watson would be the one everyone is lauding for his last-minute game-winning efforts?  I submit this as my argument that he MEANT to throw that interception, knowing we’d get the ball back, and ultimately score with too little time left on the clock for the Texans to do anything about it)

But, I digress.  Getting back to the biggest play of the day that no one is talking about:

The Texans took over with just under three minutes left in the game.  They ran the ball for 4 yards on first down, the Seahawks opted to save their time out.  They ran the ball for 8 yards on second down, and we hit the two-minute warning with a fresh set of downs.  After the break, the Texans ran again for 1 yard, time out.  THEN, we get to the play of the game:  second down, hand off to Miller again, this time for 5 yards.  But, if you look at it, the Texans had that thing blocked to go for double-digit yards or more.  Things just opened up like you wouldn’t believe, and if it weren’t for Michael Bennett diving in there and slapping at his foot to get him to fall down, the Texans would’ve ended the game right there.  Go back and look at it!  If you can find it, that is, because like I said, hardly anyone is talking about it, and yet the only reason the Seahawks had a chance at the end is because Michael Bennett saved the day.

Now, I’ll also say I agree with the majority of America today:  Bill O’Brien should’ve put the ball in Watson’s hands on at least the third down play.  I can see it both ways:  with the run, you take away Seattle’s final time out, and as I just discussed, there’s a decent chance of converting a 3rd & 4 with the way things were going as recently as that very drive.  But, on the other hand, Watson was a juggernaut yesterday.  You could’ve run with him, you could’ve had him drop back and pass, you could’ve done a run-pass option, you could’ve done one of those fucking plays where he fakes it to three other guys before hitting a fourth option (that our defense somehow could NOT figure out, at any point in this game).  Instead, in hindsight, it feels pretty weak to just run it back up the middle again for the fifth straight play.  The Seahawks stopped it for a 2-yard gain and the rest was history.

I suppose more of my consternation with this game comes from the fact that the Seahawks’ run game was abysmal.  I mean, just the worst I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived through full seasons of Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett!

Part of this absolutely has to do with Chris Carson going down with injury, because God fucking dammit would he come in handy right about now!  Why do all of our best running backs have to be fucking injured all the God damn time?  Him and Prosise this year, Rawls and Prosise last year, Rawls the year before.  I mean, shit!

Part of this has to do with Eddie Lacy, because he’s effectively useless.  I’d been willing to give him time to grow with this offense up until this game, because he’s a volume rusher, and gets better the more you feed him (ironically enough).  But, 6 carries for 0 yards?  No.  No thank you.  Go home, eat your China food, and waste some other team’s time.  You’ll never for ONE SECOND get me to believe the guys on the active roster are better than Mike Davis, who is LANGUISHING on the practice squad right now.

Which gets me to my next gripe:  Darrell Bevell.  Not Darrell Bevell the play-caller, mind you.  I know that’s what everyone gets on him about, but again, I thought he called a pretty great game, all things considered.  He gave the running game everything he had, but it clearly wasn’t working and he gave it up for the most part in the second half.  What I’ve got a problem with is Darrell Bevell the offensive coordinator.  And, by that I mean, the way he designs his offense, and how he uses the players he’s got.

It took him FUCKING FOREVER before he put Jimmy Graham out wide near the goalline this season.  Why is that?  Because he doesn’t want to tip off his play-calling.  It’s why he lines Graham up inside on run plays, when Graham is the worst blocking tight end in the universe.  You can’t just have Graham out there on passing plays, because then defenses will expect that.  SO FUCKING WHAT?  Here’s a newsflash, you fucking moron:  what you’re doing now – by “out-thinking” the defense – ISN’T FUCKING WORKING!  Rushing plays with Graham on the field get blown up CONSTANTLY!

Same goes for Thomas Rawls, out there on third downs.  Why would you do this when you’ve got a talent like J.D. McKissic?  Oh, because if McKissic is out there, the defense will know you’re passing?  WHO CARES?  It beats throwing to a fucking stone-hands, who drops carefully-lobbed balls in the endzone!

I come from the school that says, “Put my best 11 guys up against your best 11 guys and let the chips fall where they may.”  Because, more often than not during the Pete Carroll/John Schneider Era, the Seahawks have had the most talent in the NFL.  That’s just a fact.  And, you know what?  It used to be enough for this team.  The Seahawks used to be a team (albeit, with Beastmode in the backfield, which obviously has to account for a lot) that would run the ball when the opposing team had 8-9 guys in the box, and we’d STILL get a productive gain on the play!  Because our 11 guys were better than their 11 guys, and we’d make them pay for their inferiority.

But, nowadays?  The Seahawks have lost their sack.  They’re trying to get cute, which leads to throws to Rawls, runs towards Graham’s side, long bombs to McEvoy, and fullbacks streaking free up the middle for 66-yard gains.  Which, obviously, when it works – like the throw to Madden, and the 53-yard bomb to McEvoy – you look like a genius.  But, more often than not, those plays haven’t been working this season, and you just look like an asshole who’s trying to get a head coaching job somewhere else.  Which, GREAT, DO IT, GET OUT OF HERE!  But, of course, the NFL sees right through that, so we’ll be stuck with Bevell here for as long as Pete Carroll remains head coach.  It’s our burden, but one I’m willing to live with.  Still doesn’t mean I’m not going to bitch about it.

Thankfully, the receivers were there to pick up the slack.  Doug Baldwin was mostly quiet, which is shocking.  But, we had 100-yard games from Lockett and Richardson, who both had a bevy of long bombs they went up and snagged.  P-Rich in particular looks like the Golden Tate we’ve been lacking since we let him walk to Detroit.  See, the Seahawks don’t necessarily need a guy who’s 6’5; we just need a guy like Richardson who’s 6’0, but can jump like a freak of nature.  Thankfully, he’s been able to stay healthy, because he sure looks like a stud this season.

Let’s finish with some quick hitters.

The Seahawks took over their final drive on their own 20 yard line, and Russell Wilson immediately uncorked a dagger.  Honestly, I don’t know how Ifedi got away without a holding flag, and I’ll admit, I half-expected another flag on P-Rich for offensive-PI (replays showed that to be a clean catch, but I’ve seen flags for less contact than that).

I hope Earl Thomas’ hamstring injury isn’t too serious.  At the same time, I was relieved that Steven Terrell wasn’t back there to get torched in the game’s closing moments.

I thought the Special Teams got short shrift for having a pretty great game.  The Texans didn’t get much of anything on their returns, Jon Ryan made some clutch punts off of some poor snaps, and Blair Walsh was a silent assassin.  He made his two field goals (both pretty short range), and all 5 of his extra points, which ended up being huge, particularly the last two that gave us 3-point leads, as a Houston field goal in response would’ve only tied the game instead of given them the lead.  The NFL’s objective with the longer extra points was to make them more exciting, and while I hate them with a passion and wish like Hell that they’d move them back to the 2-yard line, I have to admit they’re maddeningly interesting, particularly in games like this.

Finally, I’d like to shout out the offensive line.  Not so much for the running game, in which their blocking was predictably awful; but in pass protection, they were okay!

I know, the narrative now and forever is that the pass-protection was, is, and always will be dreadful.  But, I mean, if it was really THE WORST as everyone (particularly the national media) claims it to be, could Wilson have thrown for a franchise-record 452 yards?  Obviously, while it wasn’t the best, and a stick figure quarterback like Jay Cutler or Eli Manning would be lunch meat behind this kind of line, it was Good Enough.  Hawkblogger’s Sunday night tweets go into it in a lot of detail, so check out his Twitter.  Essentially, the Seahawks were middle-of-the-road, from a leaguewide perspective, when it comes to pass protection, and God bless ’em, that’s all Russell Wilson needs!  Hell, that’s all any of us have been clamoring for since Wilson busted out onto the scene!  We don’t need a Top 5 unit to put up a ton of points, just give us a Top 15-20 unit and watch us go to work!  And, yesterday, the O-Line (again, from strictly a pass-protection perspective), played like just that.  They gave Wilson time to throw, and when they didn’t, they at least opened up lanes for him to scramble around until he could find someone down field.  That’s our game!

What’s frustrating is when there’s a guy in his face on the third step of his 3-step drop.  I’m sure the Texans’ defensive numbers will show a lot of good pressures on Wilson, but those are the types of pressures we can all live with.  And, in the end, it all added up to Wilson’s best day as a pro.

Of course, we’ll never REALLY know how much of that was due to his wizardry, but that’s the beauty of magic:  it’s more fun when you DON’T know the magician’s secrets.

Seahawks Host The Texans This Weekend

I don’t have a super great handle on how this game is going to go on Sunday.  I’ll say this:  I’m glad we’re home; if this game was being played in Texas, I don’t think we’d stand much of a chance.

Ordinarily, if you told me an okay, .500 team was coming into Seattle with a rookie quarterback, I’d tell you to pack your bags because we’re going to Flavor Country!  That’s a recipe for a slam dunk if I’ve ever seen one!  Except, here’s the deal, Deshaun Watson isn’t an ordinary rookie.  He’s almost certainly the top rookie QB of his class, and maybe one of the best rookie QBs of all time!

To recap his progression, he started the season as the team’s backup to Tom Savage.  Tom Savage played in exactly one half of football, in the first game of the season, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  In that half of football, the Texans punted 4 times, Savage fumbled twice (one returned for a touchdown), and their final drive ended the half without a score.

Watson struggled in the second half of that unwinnable game, was marginally better in a 13-9 victory over the Bengals on a Thursday night.  And, ever since he’s actually had a full week to prepare for a game, he’s been off-the-charts great.  His first Sunday start was a narrow 36-33 defeat to the defending champion Patriots, where he threw for a career-high 301 yards and 2 TDs.  He followed that up with a 4-TD game against the Titans, and a 5-TD game against the Chiefs.  Last week was only a 3-TD affair in an easy victory over the Browns.  All told, he’s 3-2 on the season, with those two defeats against the two best teams in the AFC:  the Pats & Chiefs.

Now, obviously, it’s not all on him, so I don’t want to make this a post about QB Wins.  I’d say, more than anything, their defense has been a bigger letdown than he has been a pleasant surprise.  I think a lot of us expected the Houston defense to be the biggest strength of this team; I certainly expected a lot more of those 13-9 type games than I have all these shootouts, but it is what it is.

The Texans have the potential to really sling that ball all around the yard.  They also have the potential to unleash the beast, as it were, when it comes to the Seahawks’ offense.

I’m not going to say that New England has anything resembling a formidable home field advantage when it comes to their fans.  A LOTTA frontrunners in those stands, who will get awfully quiet if the Pats get punched in the mouth.  Nevertheless, it’s more than a little intimidating to go up against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and Watson didn’t blink.  This kid has stones, and I don’t think a little Seattle noise is going to make him shrink in this game.  So, if you were counting on going to the game this weekend and expecting him to roll over at your full-throated screams, I’d think again if I were you.

So, yeah, I’d be shocked if Watson came out and stunk up the joint.  But, I’d also be shocked if he totally dominated.  He strikes me as a guy who likes to push the ball up the field, and if he brings that mess in this game, he might be in for a rude awakening.  Teams with quarterbacks who exhibit a great deal of patience tend to give the Seahawks fits.  Teams with quarterbacks who aren’t afraid to check down, who will settle for the underneath route, and most importantly, who are accurate and poised enough to convert those short third downs; THOSE are the teams that beat the Seahawks.  And, judging from my perch as a fantasy owner of Lamar Miller, I’ll tell you this:  Deshaun Watson does NOT settle for the running back checkdown very often.

What he does do is utilize his two excellent wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, who will go up and get a ball with the best of ’em, and who can also burn past you with the best of ’em.  I would expect Richard Sherman won’t be ignored in this one.  Any way you slice it, he’s going up against a top notch receiver, so he could be key in this one.

I’ll also say this:  safety play is going to be paramount.  I have to imagine there will be at least one interception between Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in this game.

What I can’t see is Houston bringing its running game.  Lamar Miller is not to be trusted in MOST circumstances, but I have to imagine he’s going to be pretty well shut down in this game.  Likewise, I wouldn’t expect D’Onta Foreman will have much running room.  If Watson isn’t the Texans’ leading rusher, I’ll be shocked.

Defensively, obviously the big news is how they lost J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the year.  Those are two HUGE hits to their pass rush.  This week, they’re also dealing with injuries in their linebacker corps which should also limit them.  Even with those losses, they still have a lot of firepower, led by Jadeveon Clowney.  We have to keep what’s left of their pass rush – and double team Clowney to keep him off of Wilson’s ass – or it could be a really long day.

I think the Seahawks can manage.  And, if they do, I could see the Seahawks scoring over 30 points in this one.

There are plenty of reasons why the Seahawks could lose, but I still think they should probably win.  Like I said up top, they’re at home, and even if Watson comes in and does okay, it’s still better than the alternative of him being at home.  Assuming we keep them one-dimensional on offense, and shut down their deep passing attack, I would expect a victory in the 34-24 range, with the Seahawks scoring a touchdown late to put the game away.