Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 6 recap

After six weeks of play, here’s the top contenders in the NFC:

5 — LA Rams, 4-2: The surprising leader of the NFC West, the Rams will still have to hold off a strong challenge from the Seahawks to win the division.

4 — Green Bay Packers, 4-2: This team was the odds on favorite to get to the conference championship before QB Aaron Rodgers had his collarbone forcibly removed Sunday.

3 — Minnesota Vikings, 4-2: They’ve weathered their own QB injuries and now own the tiebreaker over the division-rival Packers.

2 — Carolina Panthers, 4-2: QB Cam Newton looks like he’s returning to MVP form, and they’re clearly better than every other NFC team except the one that beat them last week.

1 — Philadelphia Eagles, 5-1: What now?



Not only are they tops in the conference right now, if they beat the Maryland Racial Slurs next Monday night, they’ll have at least a three-game lead in the NFC East.

Yeah, I’m worried too. Feels like it’s going too well.

QB: Kirk Cousins, 32.30 pts — started by Sam
WR: Antonio Brown, 20.33 pts — started by Jim
RB: Melvin Gordon, 29.27 pts — started by Joel
TE: Rob Gronkowski, 20.53 pts — started by Dad
K: Ryan Succop, 21.00 pts — started by Dad
DEF: New Orleans, 32.00 pts — on the wire
D: Lavonte David, 19.50 pts — on the wire

Coming into Sunday, the New Orleans defense had scored 33 fantasy pts in its first four games. Against the Lions, they returned three of five turnovers for touchdowns and recorded five sacks. Because, football.

Cousins and Marcus Mariota were the only winning QBs this week to pass for more than 300 yds. Meanwhile, nine RBs topped 100 yds rushing, and eight of them won their games. Don’t tell me it’s just a passing league.

“Mostly TEs” edition

3rd place: Niles Paul, -0.10 pts — on the wire
2nd place: Fozzy Whittaker, -0.30 pts — on the wire
1st place: Maxx Williams, -1.10 pts — on the wire

It’s the rare week where none of the defenses scored negative points. Detroit lost 52-38, but three of those Saints touchdowns were defensive scores, and they had INT return TD and a punt return TD to score a respectable 17 fantasy pts. Not bad for a team that, as I mentioned, surrendered 7+7+7+7+7+7+7+3 actual points this week.

On the “bad but not quite bad enough” scale, three starting QBs — Brian Hoyer, Jameis Winston and Aaron Rodgers — combined to score 4.52 pts this week. Rodgers broke his collarbone and Winston was also injured, so that’s their excuse. Hoyer got benched for incompetence, and his backup nearly pulled off an upset on Sunday. Twice this year he has scored more than 25 fantasy pts in a game, and three times he has scored fewer than 4 fantasy pts. In the business, we call that “inconsistent.”

** During Thursday night’s special edition of Thursday night football, CBS announcer listed his keys to the game for the Eagles defense. Among them was “eye discipline,” described as “they really need to watch how plays develop and where the ball is going.”

So, they need to play defense. Got it.

** My favorite headline of the weekend, from ESPN: “Rumor Central: Jorge Velandia in contention for Phillies' managerial job?”

I’m confused. Are you asking me if that’s a rumor? Why the question mark? Either it should say “Velandia in contention for the job?” or “Rumor: Velandia in contention for the job.” Or “Who the hell is Jorge Velandia?” But don’t make me wonder if it’s a real rumor.

** My new favorite commercial is the Bud Light one where they make fun of craft beers, showing mugs of weird-colored liquids with umbrellas and other zany add-ons. “Some beers have a lot of ingredients,” they announce. “Ours has four: barley, rice, water and hops.”

Or, to put it another way, “our beer has the legal minimum requirements to be called beer. Buy it!”

Actual tickets for sale for this weekend’s NFL games:

** Jaguars at Colts, Section 609 — $10 per seat
Three teams are tied at 3-3 for the lead in the AFC South, making this game potentially crucial to the playoff hunt. But that doesn’t mean it will be exciting to watch.

** Patriots at Falcons, Section 132 — $1830 per seat
Remember the huge New England comeback in last year’s Super Bowl? Want to relive it again up close, but without any of the same gravity of the moment? For the price of a used car, you can!

** Racial Slurs at Eagles, standing room — $86 per seat
The cheapest seats available for this week 1 NFC East rematch aren’t seats at all. You’ll have to dish out triple digits after taxes and fees to not sit and watch the game.

** Saints at Packers, Section 740S — $125 per seat
A pair of tickets to see the Packers play without Aaron Rodgers will cost you as much as one round-trip ticket from New Orleans to Milwaukee.

** Titans at Browns, Section 539 — $10 per seat
A 3-3 Tennessee team versus the worst squad of the last 10 years? Honestly, this is probably overpriced.

The big news out of the Cowboys bye week was a court ruling (OK, that’s not that unusual) that upheld the suspension of running back Ezekiel Elliott. So he’ll sit on the sideline for the next six weeks, barring another court intervention … which happened Tuesday night. So now he’s playing again. Unless another court overturns that. (Checks NFL.com). No, not yet? OK, lets try and move ahead.

Why is Dallas fighting this so hard? It’s pretty obvious once you look at it:

Ezekiel Elliott serves six-game suspension
** Loser exits, liege sees zip. Vile team sunk, son!

The Cowboys are only 2-3 with Elliot this year, so maybe an absence will help the team. After all, the Giants got better by losing Odell Beckham last week.

** I picked up another game on Dad in our weekly showdown, putting me up five after six weeks. There’s no greater indictment on how screwy this season is than me having a comfortable lead over him, since he usually trounces me by double digits by the end of the year.

** Phillies run from 2007-2011: Five division titles, one World Series win, 6-4 playoff series record.

Natinals run from 2012-2017: Four division titles, zero World Series wins, 0-4 playoff series record.

But, yes, please keep telling me what a winning organization they are now.

** Boy, it seems like a really long time between Eagles games.

Week 6 standings

1 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 742.47 pts
2 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 708.41 pts
3 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome), 703.48 pts
4 — Animal Crackers (Mom D), 668.68 pts
5 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 615.46 pts
6 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo), 612.94 pts
7 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 600.58 pts
8 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 579.92 pts
9 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 577.60 pts
10 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 555.85 pts
11 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul), 530.07 pts
12 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 527.98 pts

A huge week from my team throws me into third place, a huge week from Dad’s squad throws him into fifth, a huge week from Sam’s team pulls him up into seventh. Basically, the odd numbers are where all the cool kids are at this week.

Meanwhile, Joel is starting to pull away. We’ve only had back-to-back championships once in the 15 previous years of this league, and that was just in 2015. Let’s not let it happen again so quickly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 5 recap

In a shocking move Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints traded former all-pro RB Adrian Peterson to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional pick. The move makes some sense for both teams — Arizona needs another RB to chew up plays, and the Saints hate his guts — but they’re far from the only potentially pivotal trades under consideration at the moment:

** The Dallas Cowboys are offering a unprotected 2018 second-round pick for anti-choking medication, after giving up fourth-quarter leads in each of the last two weeks.
** The city of Los Angeles has offered to trade the Chargers back to San Diego in exchange for a copy of Madden 2017, figuring that will mean better football viewing for local fans.
** With their defense in shambles, the New England Patriots have offered WR Chris Hogan to the wideout-needy New Jersey Jets in exchange for copies of their offensive playbook so they can steal plays.
** The Minnesota Vikings are offering QB Sam Bradford back to the Philadelphia Eagles for any spare knee ligaments they have around, since Bradford has used up all theirs.
** The New York Giants are considering trading QB Eli Manning for a broken pitching machine, which would still have a better passing arm and field awareness than him.

QB: Deshaun Watson, 46.04 pts — on my bench
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, 23.47 pts — started by Mom Doyle
RB: Leonard Fournette, 30.80 pts — started by Dad
TE: Darren Fells, 15.10 pts — on the wire
K: Harrison Butker, 21.00 pts — on the wire
DEF: Jacksonville, 30.00 pts — on the wire
D: Reshad Jones, 14.00 pts — on the wire

The wire has been having a heck of a run of late. Full disclosure, I may have made up that TE and kicker. I’d never heard of either before right now.

Another great week for Watson, who has already thrown for 12 TDs and rushed for two more. He’s the second-leading fantasy player of the year, behind only Chiefs QB Alex Smith (who he lost to on Sunday night). Watson was undrafted in our league, Smith went in the very last round. Meanwhile, spots three and four are Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, who were both drafted in round 1. There’s a lesson here, and as soon as I figure out what it is, I’ll let you know.

“Wretched souls” edition

3rd place: Krishawn Hogan, -0.16 pts — on the wire
2nd place: Tanner McEvoy, -1.50 pts — on the wire
1st place: Houston, -5.00 pts — started by Bob

Absent from this list but deserving of special recognition for awfulness was Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who had a career game on Sunday playing against the Jaguars. He threw for 312 yards on Sunday but no TDs and five interceptions, including two picks returned for TDs by the defense. His 37.8 QB rating was a full point better than the 36.6 rating you recorded by dropping the remote off your couch on Sunday (1 attempt, no yds, TDs or INTs). But just barely. And four of the picks came in the second half, with the Steelers still within reach of the lead.

Roethlisberger’s five picks on Sunday were more than all but nine other QBs have on the season so far, but amazingly don’t give him the season lead in that category. That honor belongs to Browns QB DeShone Kizer, who has nine and got benched at halftime’s loss to the Jets on Sunday. He has nine, Big Ben has seven. Tied in third place are Bengals QB Andy Dalton and Baltimore QB Joe Flacco with six.

Yep, that is your starting four QBs for the AFC North. Not the best of times up there.

** I tried to defend all the hype of playing the new Star Wars trailer during the ESPN Monday Night Football game — the trailer, not the movie, just the trailer — but marching an entire legion of stormtroopers on the field at halftime was really, really over the top. It’s Star Wars, folks. We’re excited already. You don’t need a mini-invasion of Soldier Field to build excitement.

For the record, the stormtroopers manages a field goal during their trip on the field to post more points than the Bears in the first half (3-2 score after two quarters, ugh.)

** ESPN on Monday morning was hyping a highlight from the Houston Rockets’ preseason game as “the dunk of the year” so I guess we can just go ahead and skip the entire NBA regular season slate now.

** Over the summer, the NFL updated its post-touchdown celebration rules to once again allow “team performances” after scoring. On Monday, after the Vikings scored their first TD during that ESPN Monday game, eight players sat down in a circle and played duck-duck-goose before jumping up cheering.

The NFL needs to re-outlaw team performances. Now.

Also, apparently people from Minnesota call this game “duck-duck-gray duck.” I’m not kidding you. We need to review the terms of their statehood.

** In case you didn’t pick up the theme, ESPN on Monday was pretty dumb all around.

As Fox so helpfully pointed out on Sunday, the game between the Eagles and the Cardinals was the first in NFL history to be started by two QBs both named Carson. But did you know the history didn’t stop there? Here are the other milestones from the pivotal NFC contest:

** It was also Carson Wentz’ first game with four passing TDs.
** It was only the Eagles second win against the Cardinals in nine years (seven games).
** It was the 120th game between the two franchises, and the first time either team has won by a 34-7 score.
** It was WR Torrey Smith’s fifth career game against the Cardinals, and his first TD against them.
** It was the first time in K Jake Elliott’s career he didn’t have to worry about possibly kicking a long field goal in the fourth quarter.

I know I promised more anagram poetry two seasons ago, but I’ve been busy. Luckily, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is here to help me out. The letters in his name naturally produce beautiful music despite the inherent evil therein. Observe:

“Dak Prescott”

Packs rotted
Torts packed
Start pocked
Sport tacked

Test dark cop
Darts to peck
Cad kept rots
Rats opt deck

Depart stock
Dork acts pet
TD? A perk cost
Park cod, stet

Yeah, you can go back and check, but each line is an anagram for his name and no word is repeated.

But what does it all mean? Clearly, it’s an ode to his evil nature. The first verse signals his game prep and desire to ruin all of football (sport tacked!). The second, the slow destruction of society as we know it (forcing even the rats to opt for other options). The third presents the unfortunate victory of Dallas evil and gluttony (I must eat more cod!).

I would not have expected white fish to be his dish of choice for the destruction of humanity, though. I would have put money on chicken wings. But who am I to argue with the wisdom of the anagrams?

** I went 3-1 against Dad for the weekend, and was thrilled with my one loss (Dad had faith the Packers would pull the upset, I did not). The end result puts me four games ahead of him after five weeks.

** Ohio State scored 62 points on Saturday and gave up only 66 offensive yards in their win over Maryland. When Maryland had fewer yards than the Buckeyes had points, I had a whole long section devoted to them. But after the Terrapins squeezed out those last few yards, it just felt ruined. Now it’s just another dominating college football game.

Week 5 standings

1 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 621.13 pts
2 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 600.60 pts
3 — Animal Crackers (Mom D), 570.32 pts
4 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome), 562.35 pts
5 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo), 538.59 pts
6 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 495.20 pts
7 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 488.34 pts
8 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 468.78 pts
9 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 467.05 pts
10 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 465.40 pts
11 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul), 446.08 pts
12 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 431.73 pts

The musical chairs go round and round. Joel jumps back into first place over Anthony. I’m less than eight points out of third. Dad jumped back into the top half of the standings. Bob and Paul again swapped spots at the bottom of the rankings.

Remember that there are several bye weeks on the schedule for Sunday, including the Cowboys. If you have players in your roster who aren’t playing, get them out of your lineups. If you have Cowboys in your roster, take time to reassess your moral failings.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 4 recap

-- Patriots QB Tom Brady is on pace to throw for 5,596 yds this season (1,399 through four games), which would beat the current record by more than 100 yds. He's also on pace to go 3-5 at home this season (1-2 so far) and miss the playoffs.

-- Eagles TE Zach Ertz is on pace to collect 1,304 yds receiving this year (326 yds through four games), which would be less than 25 yds off the current record for his position. He also has a catches line of 8-5-8-5 through those four games, putting him on pace for 8 catches next week.

-- Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence is on pace for 30 sacks this season (7.5 through four games), which would break the single-season record by 7.5 sacks. He’s also on pace for a steroid test in week six.

-- The Indianapolis Colts are on pace to allow 544 pts this season (136 pts through four games), which would break the single season record by a safety and three field goals. And somehow they are still allowing 60 yards fewer a game than the worst defense by yardage, the Patriots at 456 yds allowed per game.

-- Giants QB Eli Manning is on pace to finish 0-16 this year. He’s also on pace to cry about it every five minutes or so.

QB: Deshaun Watson, 41.72 pts — on the wire
WR: Devin Funchess, 20.17 pts — on the wire
RB: Le'Veon Bell, 31.20 pts — started by Ant
TE: Tyler Kroft, 19.53 pts — on the wire
K: Greg Zuerlein, 27.00 pts — on the wire
DEF: Seattle, 22.00 pts — started by Jo
D: Dylan Cole, 12.00 pts — on the wire

Not our best work this weekend, but at least we didn’t get shut out like the Dolphins.

Texans rookie QB Watson’s five TDs on Sunday gave him more points than QBs Mike Glennon, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford has totaled so far this season. Not bad for the third QB picked in the draft. For the record, the first two still haven’t seen the field.

“Bad people” edition

3rd place: Chicago, -4.00 pts — on the wire
2nd place: Matt Cassel, -4.66 pts — on the wire
1st place: Dallas, -5.00 pts — on the wire

Every week it seems like we get a worse passing performance than the week before, and this week it was the turn for the Titans’ backup QB. Cassel went 4 for 10 for 21 yds, with a fumble, two INTs and no TDs. That’s a season-worst 8.33 QB rating, far below the (stop me if you’ve heard this before) 36.6 QB rating you recorded by dropping the remote off your couch on Sunday (1 attempt, no yds, TDs or INTs).

And, yeah, that’s bad. But even worse is if you reverse his stats and assume he was playing for the other team. Then his line was 2 for 10 for 28 yds, with a TD and four interceptions, and a QB rating of 33.33. So he was almost four times better as a QB for the Texans defense than he was for his own team.

Also, Dallas sucks.

** During the Eagles radio broadcast on Sunday, broadcaster Scott Graham took over the halftime scoreboard update duties and got in a conversation with one of the field reporters about the NFL protest controversy. When asked his opinion, he relayed this anecdote:

“I know someone who was at the game last Sunday, and before they kicked that 61-yard field goal there were a couple of fans in the seats who got in a fight, throwing haymakers at each other. But after they made that field goal, the same guys were high-fiving and singing. I think that’s what the NFL is really all about.”

So … the NFL is really about unprompted violence and erratic mood swings? And success covering up fundamental, disturbing issues?

Actually, now that I typed that out, yeah, I can see it.

** The Washington Post runs a college football top 25 round up every Sunday morning to let fans know what happened the day before. This week was particularly helpful: The half-page feature listed eight of the 25 teams as “late -- no result,” five as “bye week -- did not play” and three more as Friday night results. But, hey, good use of space there.

** During the Monday night football game, the Kansas City fans started doing the Atlanta Braves’ mock Native American cheer, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out it was for the Chiefs or their opponent, the Maryland Indian Racial Slurs. You might want to shift to a clearer message, folks.

If the playoffs started today ...

AFC #1 seed: Chiefs
Other division winners: Bills, Steelers, Jaguars
Wildcards: Broncos, Raiders

NFC #1 seed: Eagles
Other division winners: Lions, Rams, Panthers
Wildcards: Falcons, Panthers

Teams missing the post-season: Patriots, Cowboys, Seahawks, Titans
Top four draft picks: 49ers, Giants, Chargers, Browns

Number of games cancelled because of a premature end to the season: 194
Estimated tickets which would have to be refunded: 51.6 million
Estimated lost revenue due to refunds: $8.88 billion
Weeks off between the new end of the regular season and the Super Bowl: 17

I mentioned it earlier, but Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence is on an incredible pace on defense so far this year. His 7.5 sacks are the most in the league by two, and have many wondering if he can sustain the pace all year. Of course he can’t, because the performance-enhancing drugs he and the rest of the team use regularly will be exposed sooner or later.
Oh, you don’t believe that he’s cheating? Then why does his name clearly spell out that he is?

Dallas sack machine Demarcus “Tank” Lawrence
** Drunks can call, rednecks mew. Alas, I am a cheat.

Pretty clear evidence right there. Give him a six-game suspension and make him serve it now, not in 20 years like Zeke Elliot’s supposed punishment.

** The Phillies finished their 2017 campaign with a 66-96 record, five games worse than 2016 and the third-worst record in all of baseball. On the plus side, they were 37-38 in the second half of the season and 39-37 against the NL East. On the minus side, they still finished with an awful record.

** Dad won the week, securing the only game we had different (stupid Vikings). That leaves him two down after four weeks. Also, that game featured Minnesota RB Davlin Cook blowing out his knee, and since he was on both of my pay-league fantasy teams, it leaves me dead in the water for the year.

Week 4 standings

1 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant) — 503.22 pts
2 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel) — 475.95 pts
3 — Animal Crackers (Mom D) — 457.69 pts
4 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome) — 455.57 pts
5 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo) — 417.22 pts
6 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam) — 407.86 pts
7 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff) — 406.06 pts
8 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad) — 397.98 pts
9 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike) — 382.65 pts
10 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim) — 379.02 pts
11 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob) — 343.53 pts
12 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul) — 336.26 pts

Wait, how did Anthony get up there?

Much like the NFL, we’ve got a few distinct groups forming in the standings here. We’ve got our “Chiefs” tier, with four teams all close to the top. We’ve got our “Falcons” tier, with teams from 5 to 8 all still in the mix but showing some flaws. And we’ve got our “Bears” tier, with the bottom third of the league starting to fall out of the mix.

Just be thankful none of you are in the “Giants” tier and already eliminated from the playoffs.

No London game to worry about this week, but bye weeks start this Sunday. Remember to swap out those resting defenses, unless you have to pick up the Patriots D, in which case it’s probably better not to start anyone at all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 3 recap

A brief history of long field goals -- Here are the lengthiest last-minute three-pointers over the last 100 years:

** Nov. 8, 1970: Tom Dempsey, 63 yards
The gold standard. This kick not only won the game for the New Orleans Saints, it also set the mark as the longest FG in NFL history for 43 years.

** Oct. 22, 2006: Matt Bryant, 62 yards
Eagles QB Donovan McNabb threw five TD passes that day against the Bucs, but two of them went to Tampa Bay cornerbacks. With 33 seconds left and down by one, the Bucs drove into FG territory (sorta) to steal the game.

** Dec. 3, 2006: Rob Bironas, 60 yards
Six weeks after Bryant kicked the second 60-plus FG to win a game in NFL history, Bironas kicked the third. The play gave Vince Young a victory over Peyton Manning, which is a disturbing phrase to type out.

** Dec. 16, 2013: Justin Tucker, 61 yards
Tucker’s long boot with 43 seconds left was his sixth of the day, giving the Ravens an 18-16 win over the Lions. Presumably, he was given the game ball.

** Sept. 24, 2017: Jake Elliott, 61 yards
Elliott missed a 52-yarder earlier in the game and a 30-yarder the previous week, in his first NFL game. So naturally his attempt from 61 yards sailed just barely through the uprights, breaking a tie with the Giants.

That’s it, kids. Only five late 60-plus-yards field goals to win a game in football’s thousands of games, and the Eagles were involved in two of them. At least they’re 1-1 in those contests now.

FYI, apparently that FG cost Carson Wentz more than $30,000

QB:Tom Brady, 45.72 pts — started by Mom D
WR: Stefon Diggs, 27.53 pts — started by Joanner
RB: Todd Gurley, 34.20 pts — started by Mike
TE: Marcedes Lewis, 24.13 pts — on the wire
K: (tie) Stephen Hauschka, 19.00 pts — started by Jeff
K: (tie) Matt Prater, 19.00 pts — started by Jim
DEF: New York Jets, 17.00 pts — on the wire
D: Jadeveon Clowney, 15.00 pts — on the wire

Second week in a row that cheating Tom tops the top performers list, so, yeah, those drugs are working well.

The top five defenses this week were all on the waiver wire, but none were more shocking than the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. For the season, they’re worth 16 points, meaning they cam into this week worth -1.00 pts in the first two games. Their ascendance this week moved them all the way up to 25th place in the yearly standings, leaving the last place spot to … the New England Patriots, who have surrendered 89 pts and produced just three turnovers in their first three games. But, hey, Brady.

“Bad passers” edition

3rd place: Chad Henne, -0.30 pts — on the wire
2nd place: Eli Rogers, -1.70 pts — on the wire
1st place: Joe Flacco, -2.88 pts — on Dad’s bench

Oh no, Joe. In the biggest upset of the week, the Ravens tanked in their London game against the Jaguars in large part thanks to an awful, awful show from the Flacco. He completed 8 of 18 passes for 28 yards, no TDs and two interceptions, a QB rating of 12.0. That’s less than a third of the 36.6 QB rating you recorded by dropping the remote off your couch on Sunday (1 attempt, no yds, TDs or INTs). Any time you’re upstaged by Blake Bortles in a game, you know you done wrong.

** I never thought I’d be writing that the president of the United States had the stupidest sports comment of a week, but here we are. I guess this is what happens when there’s nothing else major going on with the country.

** Up 37-0 in the third quarter of the London crapfest game on Sunday, the Jaguars faced sent out their punt team on a 4th and one at their own 35 yard line … then called a fake which went for 58 yards. The series ended in another TD, giving them a 44-0 lead.
Great, judicious use of the trick play there, guys. Without it, you never would have covered that 40-point spread. I just hope you can still surprise folks with the fake when you’re in a real game situation.

** The sports headline on CNN.com Sunday night read: “Eagles' 61-yard buzzer-beating TD stuns 0-3 Giants.” Which, granted, is close, but those two letters make a heck of a difference to fantasy football players.

The New England Patriots management was forced to apologize (half-heartedly and insincerely, as is their specialty) on Sunday after vendors at the game ran out of bottles of water and started charging $4.50 for plastic cups of tap water. While the move seems cruel and abusive to fans, it’s hardly the only price gouging teams are subjecting their loyal customers to. Consider:

** The San Francisco 49ers charge fans $10 for dirty water … also known as Bud Light.
** The Tennessee Titans make their fans pay upwards of $80 for jerseys with pictures of flaming thumbtacks on them.
** The Carolina Panthers are refusing to sell concussions to their fans, even though their offensive line is handing them to QB Cam Newton for free.
** The New York Giants are selling leftover eclipse glasses for $7 a pop for fans who can no longer stomach the sight of QB Eli Manning.
** The Cleveland Browns are charging more than $100 for some seats to their games.

What do the Cowboys players do when they aren’t playing football? They’re in jail, of course. No, I don’t mean they all end up convicted criminals (although all of them are guilty of crimes against humanity. But they all love to hang around prisons and work there, because they share the same values as those crooked individuals. Don’t believe me? Look at what the names of all these young Dallas players clearly spell out:

Jourdan Lewis
-- We do run jails.

Jameill Showers
-- Helms worse jail.

Blake Jarwin
-- New jail bark.

Jaylon Smith
-- No myth. Jails.

In fact, Cowboys Stadium is a lot like a prison, in that it contains a few good people watching in disgust as some of the worst segments of society are gathered together in a single place. Maybe Jerry Jones can get a Department of Justice grant for improvements there.

** Another week, another 2-1 finish against Dad in our weekly picks. That puts me up a FG after three weeks, and on pace to finish the season 17-0 against him. After three weeks, I’m at 26-21, which isn’t great. But it’s a long season, with plenty of time for course correction.

** The Phillies have to win one of their last five games to avoid 100 losses. Sports Illustrated actually rated them the 28th best team out of 30 this week, so, progress maybe?

** Best reaction to the NFL protests this week? After the Cowboys took a knee as a team, comedian Michael Ian Black hit it on the head: “Jerry Jones taking a knee. Please Lord, don't make me like Jerry Jones even for a second.”

Week 3 standings

1 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel) — 373.71 pts
2 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant) — 369.20 pts
3 — Animal Crackers (Mom D) — 333.26 pts
4 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff) — 326.55 pts
5 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome) — 323.96 pts
6 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad) — 307.08 pts
7 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo) — 305.81 pts
8 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike) — 295.89 pts
9 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam) — 295.73 pts
10 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim) — 291.48 pts
11 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul) — 269.11 pts
12 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob) — 235.87 pts

Mom D continues her slow move up the standings, jumping two spots for the second week in a row and moving into podium-stand position. And I’m headed in the opposite direction, dropping two spots for the second week in a row. On the plus side, I’m still ahead of Dad.

Remember there’s another Sunday morning England game this week, and another Thursday game, and another DC Racial Slurs prime time game. Because the NFL hates you.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 2 recap

Sometimes football teams are unlucky, and sometimes it seems like the football gods are going out of their way to punish certain fans:

** The Bengals opened with two home games this year and failed to score a TD in either one. It’s the first time in 78 years that a team has gone end-zone-less after back-to-back home openers, and the first time in 68 years that a team hasn’t managed to crack double-digit points back-to-back home games to start the season (they lost 20-0 and 13-9 so far). Next week the play the Packers in Wisconsin, where maybe they have a chance of getting over the goal line.

** The San Angeles Chargers (or is it Los Diego?) lost 19-17 on Sunday when their kicker missed a 44-yard FG attempt in the final seconds of the game. It’s the second week in a row they missed a last-minute kick that would have at least tied the score. But worse than that, it’s the team’s seventh straight defeat in games decided by seven or fewer points. In fact, 27 of the Chargers last 34 games have been decided by eight points or less, and they’re 7-20 in those contests.

** The Miami won that game against the Chargers, in a contest that was their 2017 opener because their game last weekend was washed out by Hurricane Irma. So instead of starting the season in Florida in week one, their first home game won’t take place until week 4 against the Saints … in London. Last year the NFL picked the Dolphins to be their victim … um … lucky recipient of an overseas game this year. So thanks to those odd circumstances, apathetic English soccer lovers will get to see the revamped Miami offense before anyone in Florida does.

** After their loss this week, the Cleveland Browns are 4-30 since the start of 2015 and 38-108 since the start of 2008. Since 1990, they’ve had three winning seasons. That’s … just awful.

QB: Tom Brady, 36.78 pts — started by Mom D
WR: Michael Crabtree, 26.33 pts — started by Ant
RB: CJ Anderson, 27.70 pts — on Jim’s bench
TE: Jason Witten, 17.47 pts — on Mom D’s bench
K: Chris Boswell, 16.00 pts — started by Joel
DEF: Tampa Bay, 21.00 pts — on the wire
D: Chris Jones, 14.50 pts — on the wire

Don’t week for Mom’s squad. Instead of starting the top TE, she started the #3 TE (Rob Gronkowski, 16.73 pts). But go ahead and weep for Jim, who lost 25 pts starting RB Adrian Peterson over Anderson.

Also, Crabtree’s fantasy total seems low for someone who caught three TDs this week. But, two of them were catches for under two yards. Oakland must really hate their RBs.

“Getting defensive” edition

3rd place: Jacksonville, -3.00 pts — on the wire
2nd place: New Orleans, -4.00 pts — on the wire
1st place: NY Jets, -6.00 pts — on the wire

It only took two weeks, but we already had one defense bottom out. The New Jersey Jets surrendered 45 pts on Sunday and recorded no sacks, no turnovers, and no signs of life. But they’re not the worst defense on the year yet. That honor goes to the Saints, who followed up last week’s zero-pts defensive performance with a -4 this week. Both teams are on pace to give up more than 500 pts this season. Should be a fun race to see who is worse.

** I listened into enemy territory this weekend and caught the Cowboys radio broadcast of their overwhelming defeat at the hands of the Broncos. In the second quarter, a Dallas d-lineman sacked Broncos QB Trevor Siemian, forced a fumble, ran with it, then fumbled as he was tackled. Another Dallas player grabbed the ball and ran it in for a touchdown, but the replays showed that the D-lineman was down before he fumbled.

As the refs sorted out the whole thing, Cowboys color commentator Babe Laufenberg gasped in exasperation:

“Wow,” he said. “A lot happened there. I don’t know if I can explain that to our listeners.”

OK, then you’re fired. That’s the definition of your job. It was a complicated play, but you get paid a lot of money to lay out those details concisely for those of us who weren’t there. Hell, I wasn’t there, and I did it in less than 50 words. For free.

In his defense, Laufenberg has only been part of the broadcast crew for 21 years, so he’s still pretty new on this radio stuff.

** There’s a new CBS Sports Channel show titled “We Have to Talk” which I think is supposed to be a playful invite but reads more accurately as an psychoanalysis of the state of TV sports journalism today. As is, ohmigawd, we can’t stop talking even when there is nothing new to say, please help us.

** 7-Eleven has a new promotion in select cities where they have pictures of NFL stars on their drink cups. Their tag line: “Grab a Big Gulp and throw a Hail Mary to your taste buds!”

Just so we’re clear, that translates to “If you are thirsty, drink this and maybe there is a one in a million chance it will taste good.”

 ** Hey, did anybody else notice that the Eagles had a touchdown that took a looooong review by the refs to uphold in each of the first two games? In game one it was the controversial fumble, in game two it was an obvious TD by WR Alshon Jeffery that was initially called down at the one-yard line. Any reason the Eagles are getting extra-special time with the refs already?

** Hey, did anybody else notice that weird weather delay in Denver this weekend that happened just after the Cowboys fell behind on the scoreboard? And that after the hour delay, Dallas got a key turnover pretty quickly and tied up the game? It didn’t matter in the end, but that sure seemed like a strange way to handle things…

** Hey, did you notice how great Tom Brady looked this week? And just 10 days after he looked old and slow in the opener. Quite a turnaround in a short timeframe. Hey, did you also know that there are several strength-building steroids that take less than two weeks to produce results? Why did I bring it up here? No reason.

** Hey, remember how earlier this week Odell Beckham said he might be out for two more months? And then he played on Monday night. That’s another really quick health turnaround. He must have some great doctors on that team. I mean really great, creative, well-connected doctors.

** Hey, remember how Jason Witten retired five years ago and died two years ago from old age? And yet he’s still playing today. And healthy as Brady or Beckham. Boy, these guys have great genes.

A new season means a new crop of damned souls to the Cowboys team, and where better to start with our weekly anagrams then their first round draft pick. When the Dallas front office selected DE Taco Charlton with their top pick, they could see the evil barely hidden inside his … wait, hold up a second.

Taco? Like, really? That’s the freshest option for playing around in crazy phrases and names? The dude named after a 99-cent fast food?

Alright, if that’s how it’s gonna be, let’s do this.

Defensive end Taco Charlton
** Evil decadence, thorn to fans
** I have no friends, decent coat
** Confederate devil chants, son
** Draftee cad vents loon niche
** Hated con: I can end leftovers

I gotta be honest, I don’t think any of those anagrams made his name weirder.

** The Phillies only needs to go 4-8 in their last 12 games to avoid 100 losses on the season. Amazingly, they’re only six games under .500 at home. Not amazingly, they’re 25 games under .500 on the road.

** Delaware football is 2-1. Just saying.

** There’s an outside chance that eight teams could end up tied for the last AL wild card spot in baseball this season. Just saying.

** I went 2-1 against Dad again this week, putting me up two games after two weeks. But he gets props for picking the Cowboys over the Broncos in a game I thought would be close. In fairness, he only picked Denver because he thinks John Elway may still be playing.

Week 2 standings

1 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 259.90 pts
2 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 238.50 pts
3 — Foles me Wentz, (Capt Awesome), 228.01 pts
4 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 199.51 pts
5 — Animal Crackers (Mom D), 197.76 pts
6 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 197.55 pts
7 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo), 195.04 pts
8 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 194.18 pts
9 — No Hands! (Paul), 179.82 pts
10 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 177.59 pts
11 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 165.48 pts
12 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 157.21 pts

Like I say all the time, a fast start in week 1 guarantees you nothing over the course of a cruel, cruel fantasy season. Another good week for our reigning Awesome Cup champion moves him back into first place, and a particularly bad week for me moves me back down into bronze medal position.

The difference between fourth and eighth place is less than six points, and the distance between 10th and fourth place is just one big Tom Brady game. And then there is Jim’s team.

The NFL follows up its exciting Bengals/Texans tilt last Thursday with a Rams/Niners game this Thursday, because the NFL hates you. And there’s an early Ravens/Jaguars game in London on Sunday, because, again, the NFL hates you. Don’t forget to set your rosters.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 1 recap

The shocker of the opening weekend of football happened before the weekend even started: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, a team several pundits predicted could go 16-0 this year, got waxed by the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night (despite Andy Reid still screwing up his timeouts in the two-minute drill, dammit already Andy). Many so-called experts were surprised to see Brady so out of sync with the rest of the offense, but signs were there that age may be catching up with the long-time signal caller. Consider:

** After pregame complaints about the weight, Brady swapped out his normally under-inflated footballs with helium filled ones.
** Brady kept turning up his hearing aid when listening into the opposing defense’s audio feed to steal plays.
** The confused QB kept asking where inured WR Julian Edelman was, and the coaching staff confirmed they weren’t covering up a concussion this time.
** Brady was seen on the sidelines chewing multivitamins and pep pills instead of his normal batch of steroids.
** He had his 40th birthday last month. That probably should have tipped some sportswriters off that he’s getting old.

For what it’s worth, Brady is dead last among QBs in completion percentage at this point in the season, and the Patriots are in last place. Hopefully that can hold up past the next five days.

QB: Alex Smith, 39.02 pts — on Bob’s bench
WR: Stefon Diggs, 21.10 pts — started by Ant
RB: Kareem Hunt, 39.83 pts — started by Joel
TE: Jesse James, 17.73 pts — on the wire
K: Giorgio Tavecchio, 19.00 pts — on the wire
DEF: LA Rams, 34.00 pts — on the wire
D: Dante Fowler, 13.50 pts — on the wire

Strong start from the 22nd drafted QB in our league, who threw more TDs (4) this week than Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Eli Manning combined. Now, I’m not predicting that Smith will amount to a top 10 fantasy QB this year, but I am saying drafting a QB early is a bad move.

Big props to the Oakland Raiders, who lost K Sebastian Janikowski to injury this week but managed to replace him with the top kicker of the week and someone whose name is even worse to spell.

By the way, the Eagles defense — which recorded four turnovers, four sacks and a TD — was only the fourth-best defense of the week (24 pts, behind the Rams, Jags and Ravens). Tough week to be on offense out there.

“Opening week” edition

3rd place: New England, -1.00 pts — started by Dad
2nd place: Tom Savage, -1.52 pts — on the wire
1st place: Andy Dalton, -3.00 pts — on Jim’s bench

Bengals QB Andy Dalton opens with a strong five-turnover performance this week, adding a lost fumble to four interceptions. His QB rating on the day (16 of 31, 170 yds, zero TDs) was a whopping 28.4, which was 11 points worse than the 39.6 rating you achieved sitting on your couch on Sunday (0 of 1, zero yds, zero TDs or INTs). That takes some work. Some very, very bad work.

No defense in the league gave up more points this weekend than the defending Super Bowl champs, playing at home to boot. But, knowing how the NFL works, they still probably have a chance to go 16-0.

** NFL on ESPN ads for this week: “Think there can’t be a must-win in week 2? Think again. Giants vs. Lions, next Monday!”

The Lions won on Sunday. Their week 2 game is not a must-win in any way.

The Giants lost on Sunday night. If they fall to 0-2, then … they’d probably need to go 9-5 to have a shot at the playoffs. And that’s not ridiculous. So, also not a must-win.

I think maybe ESPN confused “must-win” and “please-watch” again.

** Listening to the Green Bay home radio broadcast, I was confused by the color commentator’s insistence of referring to Aaron Rodgers as “A-Rod.” Hey, here’s a great idea: Let’s take one of the league’s most popular players and repeatedly call him the the nickname of a wildly unpopular steroid user! Who won’t love that?

Unrelated, I’m gonna refer to Odell Beckham Jr. as “OJ” from now on, since I’m pretty sure no one has any negative feelings about that nickname.

** Michael Wilbon on the Tony Kornheiser show this week said after the Bears’ week 1 loss, “the best they can start this month is 0-4.”

This was not a slip. When he was asked how they could do worse, he repeated that 0-4 was his “BEST-case” scenario. And watching the Bears last year, that may be right.

Sunday’s opener was an exciting win for the Eagles, but it did come at a heavy cost. Here’s a look at some of the key injuries from the game, and what it means for the team going ahead:

** CB Ronald Darby: Suffered a dislocated his ankle in the second quarter. Initial diagnosis says he’ll be out 4-6 weeks, which will put strain on the secondary.
** K Caleb Sturgis: Sustained a hip flexor tear in the fourth quarter. This could be a major problem for the team, even if he misses just a few games. They’ll bring in new kickers for tryouts this week.
** WR Alshon Jeffery: Team authorities initially feared he was lost for the season, but it turned out the $10-million receiver had just disappeared from the playbook. He finished the game with three catches. No word yet on his availability/relevance next week.
** R Brad Allen: Declared legally blind late in the game after calling this play a fumble. He is seeking optometrist advice in Philly this week, where he will also receive a key to the city.
** QB Carson Wentz: Sustained a neck strain after willing WR Nelson Agholor back into relevance through sheer force of will. He is expected to recover by next week.

In Sunday night’s snoozefest of a game, longtime Cowboys TE Jason Witten caught an 11-yard pass which made him the franchise’s all-time receiving yards leader, passing WR Michael Irvin. Irvin, as you may remember, is one of the most despicable characters in human history, because of his vacant soul and cannibalistic tendencies. It’s right there in his name:

Dallas wideout Michael Irvin
** Dull aims: I avow I eat children

But what you may not know is that in order to set any kind of record with the Dallas franchise, you have to aspire to a deeper level of evil than most men could imagine. So it should come as no surprise that Witten would one day surpass Irvin, given what the letters in his name clearly spell out:

Dallas Cowboys tight end Christopher Jason Witten
** Why jest, colt snobs? I eat children too. With grandpas.

A few additional observations:

— Not only does he eat people, but “Jason” has been lying to us about his real name for years.
— “Colt snob” is either slang for cowboys or illegal horse cooks. Either way...
— Eating grandpas seems excessive and also unnecessarily chewy.
— I’m pretty confident given enough time, you can spell out “eats children” with any Cowboys player name ever.

** I went 2-1 against Dad in our opening week, with my only mistake coming when I forgot to back out of the Giants upsetting the Cowboys after Odell “OJ” Beckham was ruled out. In fairness, I was trying to forget the game was happening, given there was no good outcome.

** Congrats to Ohio State on finishing their season early this year by losing in game two and generally looking awful. At least now the players have all fall to study for those winter finals.

** If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and read this piece on how Louisiana Tech faced a 3rd and 93 over the weekend. It is spectacular.

** From Yahoo Sports writer Dan Wetzel: Ben Roethlisberger is 11-2 as a starter in Cleveland since the team “returned” there in 1999. That’s the most wins of any QB … including those who played for the Browns.

News flash: Cleveland is not good at the football.

Week 1 standings

1 -- Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome), 145.40 pts
2 -- Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 124.99 pts
3 -- For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 112.36 pts
4 -- Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 100.23 pts
5 -- Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 91.60 pts
6 -- Foles v. Sproles (Joanner), 88.78 pts
7 -- Animal Crackers (Mom Doyle), 85.72 pts
8 -- Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 84.80 pts
9 -- Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 78.83 pts
10 -- ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 75.06 pts
11 -- Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 71.34 pts
12 -- No Hands! (Paul), 70.37 pts

Welcome back to fantasy football! And what a glorious return it is.

Big weeks by Eagles Sam Bradford (former), LeSean McCoy (former), Zach Ertz (current) and the Philly defense (current) shot me to the top of the standings this week, where I intend to stay for the rest of the season. Have fun down there in loserville, everybody else.

Joel’s title defense produced an impressive points total too, although he probably could have done better if he started a QB (on a bye) and a K (injured) and a defensive player (one was suspended, one inactive). But maybe his bold strategy will pay off later in the season.

Paul and Bob start off this year where they ended last year, with lots of bad luck. Bob lost two starters for the season in week 1, while Paul’s team just never really showed up.

Only 16 weeks left to get it right, folks. The quest for the Awesome Cup will be over before you know it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- draft recap

The fantasy draft is finished, the season starts on Thursday, and sadly your fate is already sealed. Here’s how the season will play out this year, based on my alway accurate pre-season predictions:

The Pigskin Predators (Dad)
Yahoo projected finish: 2056.65 pts (1st place)
Real projected finish: 1563.22 pts (12th place)
Yahoo says Dad had the best draft of any team, so I’m picking him to finish last because Yahoo’s predictions are awful. Plus, no team that drafts a QB in the first round ever wins the championship. Dad’s starting lineup features two RBs (Fournette and Hyde) whose teams may win five games combined, and his top two wideouts (Bryant and Lockett) aren’t the #1 pass catchers on their own teams. And he drafted two kickers. The whole thing just feels wrong. But yeah, Yahoo, he got Aaron Rodgers, so I guess the whole draft was a success.

Animal Crackers (Mom Doyle)
Yahoo projected finish: 1850.11 pts (9th place)
Real projected finish: 1755.05 pts (11th place)
I don’t know if Mom’s team is any good. I just know I’ll be rooting against her for a lot of the year. She drafted three Patriots (Brady, Gronk and Gostkicksi), two DC players (Kelley and Dunbar), former Eagles malcontent DeSean Jackson, and Eagles RB LeGarrette Blount, who will probably be benched by week 3. I like WR Larry Fitzgerald. I guess I won’t be rooting for him to be deported to Alaska.

No Hands! (Paul)
Yahoo projected finish: 1865.58 pts (8th place)
Real projected finish: 1800.01 pts (10th place)
Paul picked the wrong time to change his team’s name from “I heart WRs.” He drafted four quality wideouts (J. Jones, Cooks, Bryant and T. Hill) and zero starting RBs. In fact, QB Russell Wilson could end up with more rushing yds on the year than Tevin Coleman, Derrick Henry, Jeremy Hill and James White. “No Feet!” might be a better nickname.

Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim)
Yahoo projected finish: 1898.71 pts (4th place)
Real projected finish: 1842.88 pts (9th place)
Eh. Maybe Marcus Mariota will be a top-end fantasy QB this year. Maybe WRs Baldwin and Davante Adams can repeat as big point scorers. Maybe 150-year-old Adrian Peterson can return to 2009 form. Maybe drafting two suspended RBs (Elliott and Martin) will pay off in a few weeks. Maybe Jack Doyle is an NFL TE and not someone I just made up. Lots of maybes. Not a lot of hell yeahs.

Blue Collar Killers (Jeff)
Yahoo projected finish: 1878.25 (7th place)
Real projected finish: 1868.58 pts (8th place)
I’m gonna need Jeff’s team to do better than this, because it’s pretty much the same team I drafted in one of my pay leagues this year. So, while I’m positive Big Ben, Dalvin Cook, Martellus Bennett and Maclin will all be great, the rest of the team looks like a hot mess to me. And anytime you let Odell Beckham into your party, you’re asking for trouble. Also, Eli Manning’s presence as always equals negative pts.

Not with that Attitude (Sam)
Yahoo projected finish: 1810.55 pts (12th place)
Real projected finish: 1871.53 pts (7th place)
I’m not sure why Yahoo is hating on Sam so much, other than the fact that nearly all the players on his team toiled with lousy squads last year. Only four of the 17 players he drafted made the playoffs last year, and only two — NE’s backup WR Chris Hogan and Hotlanta little-used TE Austin Hooper — won a playoff round. But I’m sure that won’t be the case this year. All those Bills and Jets and Jaguars are on the rise, I can feel it.

Foles v. Sproles (Joanner)
Yahoo projected finish: 1958.17 pts (3rd place)
Real projected finish: 1901.07 pts (6th place)
All the pieces look like they’re here — Matt Ryan, AJ Green, Terrell Pryor, Devonta Freeman, Seattle D — but I just can’t believe in any team that employs Eddie Lacy. That dude has burned me way too many times. On the plus side, Joanna did name her team after Sproles and then go out and draft him. That’s dedication and good coaching. That’s the kind of move that could help her squad overachieve.

Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob)
Yahoo projected finish: 1885.73 pts (5th place)
Real projected finish: 1985.73 pts (5th place)
Finally, Yahoo picked one right. Bob’s team has the best RB in the game (David Johnson), two solid WRs (Hilton and Cooper), a solid QB (Carr), a world-class TE (Eifart) with a world-class pun name (pronounced “I-fart) … and a host of injured people. Like, a lot of them. Spencer Ware is out for three weeks. Latavius Murray sprained a leg trying to spell his first name. Cameron Meredith is dead. Alex Smith just broke his arm. Oh, wait, that’s just how he throws? My apologies.

Gronky Tonk Man (Joel)
Yahoo projected finish: 1810.99 pts (11th place)
Real projected finish: 1987.65 pts (4th place)
The defending Awesome Cup champion trots out a good lineup, but not a great one. Gordon, McCaffery and Hunt are a formidable starting RB corps. Jordy Nelson is a great wideout. And the rest of his team are professional football players currently on NFL rosters (expect his two defensive player picks, they’re both out). So that’s a plus. Maybe Joel can upend expectations again and become on the second back-to-back Awesome Cup champion in league history? Or maybe he can drift back down the standings this year, content with his 2016 achievements.

Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome)
Yahoo projected finish: 1831.36 pts (10th place)
Real projected finish: 2033.33 pts (3rd place) 
Now this is a good looking team. Three top 15 RBs (McCoy, Howard and Miller), three top flight WRs (Allen, Landry and Tate) and Zach Etrz bringing me sneaky TE points. The only glaring flaw on my team is at QB, where my tandem of Andrew Luck (current status: dead) and Jay Cutler (current status: apathetic) are … less than optimal. But no matter. If the Giants can win two Super Bowls with dopey Eli at the helm. I can make this work.

Cosby’s Sleepers (Mike)
Yahoo projected finish: 1885.58 pts (6th place)
Projected finish: 2034.03 pts (2nd place)
No one has a better RB corps than Mike: Ajayi, Gurley, Lynch, Forte. Nobody has a better TE corps: Olson and Reed. Nobody has a better QB tandem: Newton and Stafford. And nobody has a worse WR corps. Seriously. Willie Snead is suspended for three games. Donte Moncrief may be dead. Torrey Smith, the fifth receiving option on the Eagles, is the third WR on his team. That ain’t good. I hate wideouts as much as the next guy, but you need one or two to win the league.

For Who? For Wentz (Ant)
Yahoo projected finish: 2038.17 pts (2nd place)
Real projected finish: 2115.51 pts (1st place)
Everything about Ant’s team looks sneaky good (except for his recycled name). Brees racking up pts at QB? Jeffery and Crabtree and Bell all catching TDs? Big-ticket sleepers in Diggs and Gillislee. This team feels like it’s a winner. So, congrats to Anthony in finishing in last place now that I’ve delivered the kiss of death to his squad.

Best of luck to all of you in the season ahead, even though most of you have already lost. Try to have fun anyway. Remember the first game is Thursday night, because the NFL hates you and has no respect for your scehdule.