Fantasy Friday

January 4th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Skin a cat …

I’ll heed one of my latest, favorite quotes, “Don’t be so humble; you’re not that important” and divulge that I won the championship in our league this year. As I’ve said before, I wish I could take credit for it. I can’t. What I can do is confess that the way in which I was victorious has got my declaration of taking an elite QB, a declaration which has stood for all of one month teetering. Nah, it’s not teetering; it’s on its ass. Yeah, not much of a declaration. You see, in what amounts to the Conference championship game and then in the Super Bowl of our league, my fantasy team beat Drew Brees and Peyton Manning in successive weeks … with … wait for it … with Ryan Tannehill.

I suppose I could disregard certain facts, and gloat, “Ha! Told you; gotta grab an elite RB in the first round.” Facts such as: I had no business being in the playoff to begin with – the last seed. The worst record. One of the lowest scoring teams to make it to the playoffs. I can’t, so I won’t. Really, the only thing I learned, which isn’t much at all is In Fantasy Football, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. There’s a reason I played Drew Brees and Peyton Manning in the playoffs. Those two quarterbacks were the numbers 2 and 1 scoring fantasy players respectively. They were taken early in drafts, and paid out handsomely – carried those fantasy teams into the playoffs. Does the QB strategy work? Sure. I won because I had the number 2 scoring RB in fantasy football. Does the elite RB strategy work? Yup.

So, what matters is not what position you take, but predicting who will give you the return on your early round draft investment. And there’s no way of knowing that … which brings us full circle: I wish I could take credit, but really I can’t. It’s a stupid game.

Fantasy Friday

November 23rd, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Don’t Get Cute

Okay, okay … I got it. Yes, enough. “Uncle!” No mas. What? You want me to say it? Okay, here, I’ll say it: It is a Quarterback driven league. I’ve learned my lesson. Next year, I’m not getting cute; I’m taking a QB early.

This is my sixth season of fantasy football. In each draft other than the first which was autoed, I eschewed the elite QB in favor of bargain hunting in the middle rounds. There is a reasonable argument for such strategy, but I no longer have the stomach for it. Last year, I rode the ups and mostly downs of Michael Vick and his woeful offensive line. This year, the “Couple Eli with Carson strategy” had me starting Locker and Jason Campbell in must win games. Their line in those games? 10, -3, and 7. Loss, loss, and yes, a loss.

Now, I must win the last two and get some help to get into the playoffs. And upon whom have I pinned my fantasy playoff fate, you ask? Scott Tolzien. Um, yeah, uh, that’s “Scott” with an “S” Tolzien. T O L Z as in zoo I E N.

And why am I going through all this? Because RBs are so valuable? The guy who’s leading our league in scoring is starting Lamar Miller and DeAngelo Williams. After our draft I was laughing at him and his Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson. Haha …ha … huh?

Next September, if you hear me getting other ideas. Tell me, “Don’t get cute man. Remember Tolzien?”

Fantasy Friday

September 6th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Manning Up

Peyton Manning doesn’t look like a Quarterback. Not like Brady does. Or Favre did. Hell, he doesn’t even look like an athlete. Just watch at him run: The narrow shoulders shrugged over the the extra long torso. And those legs; they appear to be operating on a different set of signals from the rest of his body. You know he’s a terrible dancer. Not only does he not look like a Quarterback; he doesn’t sound like a Quarterback. It’s a voice and tone you’d expect more from a local John Deere distributer than an NFL signal caller. The nodding, the pressed lip agreeable expression framing that good ol’ Southern drawl. “Well, you certainly will get the job done with this John Deere Zero-Turn mower, but sounds like with the size of your yard, you might be able to get away with this D120 model. So, um … Green zero, zero; Check. Check. D120. D120. Hurry. Hurry. Hut!” Doesn’t look like a Quarterback; doesn’t sound like a Quarterback. He doesn’t even throw like a Quarterback. He throws an ugly ball. Check the tape.

Last night, in the 2013 season opener, Manning threw for  462, seven TDs, zero picks. Just silly numbers. If not natural born abilities, what makes him so prolific? Work? Yeah, I believe his work ethic has much more to do with his success than his natural gifts. The drive to be great? Maybe. I think even more than these it is his willingness to press into a journey wrought with so many failures. It’s courage.

Everyone talks about what Denver safety Moore failed to do last season. Moore’s misplay on the 70 yard bomb to Jacoby Jones in the waning seconds of last season’s Divisional Championship game gave life to the “All but dead” Ravens. That play overshadowed Denver’s last offensive play of the season: A Peyton Manning interception to Corey Graham in overtime to set up Tucker’s game winning field goal. A crushing failure for a guy who had fought so hard to get back on the field. And not his first either. Manning has a losing record in the playoffs, 9-11. Last year like seven other losses was of the “one and done” variety. No one would blame the man if he decided he’d had enough. The road too perilous. But he was back last night, on the same field, against the same opponent, less than a year removed from one of his greatest failures. Manning up.

It is what makes Manning great. The photo above could have been taken in your backyard. “Honey, that goofy, freakishly tall neighbor with the Southern drawl just got here. What was his name again?” That’s Peyton Manning. You might not know it by looking at him, but he is one of the greatest Quarterbacks of all time.

Fantasy Friday

August 9th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Draft Day: The Best Laid Plans … 

1st Round: Pray that I have a top 8 pick and take the best RB on the board. An eighth pick will get me looking at a guy like LeSean McCoy. It won’t have me ecstatic, but with the scant pickins I’ll say my thanks and quietly be on my way.
2nd Round: Take the best available RB in that second tier unless the top 20 RBs are off the board. Once the likes of DeMarco Murray and Reggie Bush are off the board, it gets real ugly. Real ugly.
3rd Round: Look for Jimmy. If draft goes RB heavy and Jimmy Graham falls to the 3rd, I’m taking him. Hate to take a TE with an early pick, but Jimmy is the best receiver on one of the best air offenses in the league. It’s like drafting an elite WR and being able to couple him with two more WR. He’s most likely not there in which case I’m looking at all comers. Not closed to taking yet another RB, like a Lamar Miller or an Eddie Lacy.
4th Round: Obviously, my top three picks come to bear on my decision here. If I’ve gone RB heavy, I’m probably itching for a WR. Of the WR going around the 4th and 5th, I love Dwayne Bowe.
5th Round: If all goes as planned, I’ll be nervously tracking QBs streaming off the board in rounds 3-5. The second half of the top ten QBs are coming off and I’ll probably be left with a tough decision: I like Matthew Stafford but would like him better in the 6th. Do I risk having to end up with Romo or Eli?
6th Round: If I have my QB, I’m looking again at RB or WR. I’ve already missed on Jimmy so the TE spot will be for the 8th or 9th rounds. Does it really matter whether I have Fred Davis or Greg Olsen? I’ll be looking for Jared Cook in St Louis. Maybe the likes of Ahmad Bradshaw or a DeSean Jackson.
7th-12th: I’ll be looking for my TE, #3 and 4 WR and a back up QB. Three rookie WRs of interest are DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, Aaron Dobson in New England and Keenan Allen in San Diego. Lots of interesting guys for back up QB: Cutler, Rivers, and Smith. And I still have a irrational love for Vick.

But you know what they say … “The best laid plans of mice and men (and fantasy owners) …”  

Fantasy Friday

June 29th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Criminal Mindless

The best argument Aaron Hernandez’ attorney Michael Fee can make on behalf of his client: “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, my client did not murder Odin Lloyd. No one can possibly be this stupid!”
Oooooh, that’s a good point. That’s reasonable doubt.

Sad. Tragic. Senseless. Yup, all of these and more.




Fantasy Friday

June 8th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Buyer’s Remorse

I don’t like shopping. All forms. Holiday shopping has to be right up there at the top. There’s a background hum of manipulation with the whole expectation driven frenzy of unnecessary spending. Or is that just Christmas music? I can’t get the swollen, sweaty, grinning face of capitalism out of my mind as I run about like a mouse, caught in the “holiday shopping” maze. I suppose the most tolerable form is food shopping. At least food feels like a necessity. Until you’re standing at the line at Costco looking at the $200 cart thinking, “I came in for some eggs. What the hell happened?” There’s a compulsion with buying. Something inside … outside … something saying, “Gotta get it.” And so, like I said, I don’t like shopping.

Leading up to this year’s fantasy draft, the feeling I get about Running Backs is that in the end I’ll be left with buyer’s remorse. I know it. I’m going to be compelled. And yet, knowing this, I’ll still take my early round picks, pace frantically up and down the aisles and grab someone thinking, “Man, I gotta go; this will have to do. Hope it works.” Hope it works! You’re going with, Hope it works with your 1st and 2nd round picks? Yup, that’s what I’m going with. Compulsion buy. Fantasy football says, “Gotta get it.”

Just look at the shopping list:
Adrian Peterson – Will probably be the number one pick. Still just a little over a year outside of major knee surgery. Can he go back to back?
Arian Foster – Is it just me or does the odometer read high to you too?
Ray Rice – Meh …
Marshawn Lynch – Yeah, Marshawn Lynch.
LeSean McCoy – Chip and his new system.
Trent Richardson – Solid back on the worst offense in football. New Coach.
CJ Spiller – Yet to put together a full season. A rookie under center?
Jamaal Charles – Another guy just outside of knee surgery. New coach, new QB.
Alfred Morris – I hate Mike Shanahan. When it comes to Running Backs, I hate him a lot.
Doug Martin – Greg Shiano appeared to lose his team toward the end of last season. Can you feel good about a Buccaneer?

After these guys, you get guys like DeMarco Murray, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Stevan Ridley, Frank Gore, MJD, Darren McFadden … Man, I really don’t like shopping.


Fantasy Friday

June 1st, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Don’t do it …

Don’t take that Quarterback in the 1st round. Hey, I don’t care that Rodgers is there at 11. Don’t do it. This year there is a veritable smorgasbord of QBs. What do you like? Pocket passer? Tons. Scrambler? Take your pick. And with this bounty, what you’ll likely get in your draft is the affects of supply and demand. Dudes, very capable dudes will drop to the value rounds, 6th, 7th and below.

The usual suspects: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees will be taken by Quarterback lovers. No matter what anyone says, QB lovers are taking the best available in the first or second rounds. In the second tier are guys like Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan. Arguably, right there with those guys are guys like Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, and maybe Tony Romo. That’s already twelve QBs. Yeah, Tony Romo isn’t Tom Brady, but which two would you rather have Cam Newton and CJ Spiller or Drew Brees and Vick Ballard? Matthew Stafford and Ray Rice or Aaron Rodgers and Steven Jackson?

My guess is Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning and one of those “Read Option” guys are going to be there in the 4th or lower. I also think Roethlisberger, Flacco, Freeman, and Luck have solid years. I’m not doin’ it. I’m going to bide my time and wait for one of these value picks to fall to me in the 7th.

Fantasy Friday

May 10th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Who’s Eric Fisher?

The Kansas City Chiefs launched what everyone predicted would be an Offensive Line heavy first round of the 2013 NFL Draft by taking Eric Fisher with their number one overall pick. The 6’7″ Offensive Tackle from Central Michigan just edged out Luke Joeckel, who had been a frontrunner for a good portion of the draft season. Six other O-Linemen went in the first round. None were and probably never will be household names. But the fact that eight first round draft picks were spent on the offensive line ought to tell you all you need to know about the value of an effective line.

What does this have to do with fantasy football? Simple. Without blocking, a running back cannot run. Let me put it in more concrete terms: Adrian Peterson was the leading rusher in 2012. In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Vikings took OT Matt Kalil with the 4th overall pick. I’m not saying Matt Kalil carried Peterson. Yes, Peterson is super-human. Did Kalil have an impact on Peterson’s season? Better believe it.

Something you might find interesting is that of the eight O-line dudes taken in the first round, three of them were taken by teams with candidates for the most disappointing 2012 fantasy Running Backs: Chance Warmack goes to Chris Johnson at Tennessee, Lane Johnson to LeSean McCoy at Philadelphia, and DJ Fluker to Ryan Mathews at San Diego. CJ, McCoy, and Mathews finished 13th, 21st, and 31st respectively in fantasy pts at the running back position. Along with getting a first round stud, they get starters back on the line who missed most or all of last season due to injury. Just sayin’.

Also, Jamaal Charles who had flashes of brilliance is getting the … um … that Fisher kid.
Eric Fisher, the number one overall pick.
Oh, right, that guy.



Fantasy Friday

April 20th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Creature of Habit

Before I write anything, I gotta tell you, I’m a creature of habit. Every morning, I pour myself a cup of coffee and go sit in the same chair. The other day, my youngest asked, “Daddy, why do you always sit in that chair?” Thinking to answer her question, it struck me that I don’t always sit in that chair. In fact, I only sit in that particular chair in the mornings. That’s pretty much it. What she really meant to ask was why every morning, I was in that same chair. And to that question, I didn’t really have an answer. I just am. It’s a habit. And it’s not likely to change any time soon.

I’ve drafted in four fantasy drafts. Each have gone about the same. Running back in the first round. The best available RB or WR in the second round. Go back and forth with a slight tilt toward the RB position til about the 5th when I start looking for a bargain QB. I don’t like TEs until the 9th and D/ST and Kickers until the last four picks.

Even in the short span of the past five years, things have changed in the NFL. The most prominent change is passing is at a premium. That one shift affects everybody, QBs on down. That ought to affect draft strategy, right? You would think. It’s not going to change mine. Like I said, I’m a creature of habit. And taking an elite RB in the first, despite all the challenges of actually landing one these days is to me like that feeling of dropping my ass onto the familiar contours of a comfortable, well worn seat.

Here is a list of QBs that makes taking one in the first two rounds difficult to justify:
Tier 1: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees
Tier 2: Peyton Manning, Colin Kaepernick, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford
Tier 3: Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Eli Manning, Tony Romo

Fantasy Friday

April 6th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

It’s business; it’s not personal

Isn’t this what mob dudes say when they get an old friend, a paisan to whack a life long pal? “Hey, Vinny, I know you grew up wit da guy. I know. Believe me. And it’s a rotten thing, but it’s business; it’s not personal.” When anyone puts a slug in your head, it’s personal. All the more when that person in question celebrated holidays with you. Cosa Nostra – Our Thing. Family. In that split second of clarity before the Pop! of the 32 behind the ear, the parting thought is, “Awe, Vinny. Not you.”

Last month, the Free Agency period kicked off, unleashing as it does every year a bevy of “brow raising” activity. It’s a treacherous season of personal relationships jettisoned for the demands of the all mighty $. Teams need to get better – need to bleed the aging financial drag. Players need to get paid, for most the one big pay day of a short lived career. Days are coming when talk of team, talk of “All being in it together” will be renewed. Right now, guys like Brian Urlacher is getting “hung out to dry.” Yo, every man for himself.

You can’t tell Urlacher that it’s not personal. You can’t tell Greg Jennings it’s not personal. Oh, it’s personal alright. When Welker signed for 2 mil more with Denver, it was personal. Welker is a Patriot. He’s bought into the Patriot way. He’s more Belichickian in press conferences than Tom Brady. They signed Gronk and Hernandez, the new kids, the young kids. Welker was left to dangle. When they offered a last minute two-year, ten mil, as much as he wanted to end his career in New England, Welker couldn’t sign. It was a personal affront. He had no choice.

It’s business; it’s not personal is a load. They should stop saying it to excuse what everyone knows is brutal. Nobody believes it … well, maybe nobody outside the Mafia and the NFL.

On a fantasy note: I heard a crazy stat, that I have neither the time nor the energy to verify – you’re on your own on this. It came from a nationally syndicated sports radio guy. Something like 60+ Pro Bowl Wide Receivers have changed teams through free agency in the past ten years, less than 10% have made it back to another Pro Bowl. Something to think about as you assess the value of Welker, Jennings, Harvin, and Wallace.

Separated at birth. According to the ambiguous, unreliable stat, Toby Maguire has a better shot at returning to his Spidermanesque Hollywood leading man status than Welker to the ProBowl.

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