Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Fantasy league 2016 -- final recap

The games are done, the scores are in, and another champion name has been etched on the Awesome Cup. But before we honor our winner, let’s have a look at the 11 unsuccessful campaigns waged by our other coaches this long, long season:

Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bobert)
Projected finish: 2nd place, 2417.99 pts
Actual finish: 12th place, 1594.39 pts
NFL equivalent: Chicago Bears
In my other league, the team that landed WR Antonio Brown, RB LeSean McCoy and the Denver defense finished in first place. In this league, it finished last. Some may say that’s a sign of bad coaching, akin to the Bears wasting some decent talent en route to a last-place finish. I’ll just repeat what I said in the season preview: “Eli Manning as QB should be enough to hold back this team.”

Yelp for help (Mom Doyle)
Projected finish: 6th place, 2107.00 pts
Actual finish: 11th place, 1733.01 pts
NFL equivalent: Cleveland Browns
This team may be the worst collection of parts I’ve ever seen thrown together in a fantasy contest. RB Adrian Peterson decided to kill his fantasy owners again this year, QB Russell Wilson won each week without accumulating any significant fantasy points, and the receiving corps of Joneses, Parkers and Browns was as boring as their names suggested. The fact that Mom pulled this team out of last place is a tribute to her dedication and coaching skills.

May Pay Attention (Paul)
Projected finish: 11th place, 1905.69 pts
Actual finish: 10th place, 1774.27pts
NFL equivalent: Minnesota Vikings
Paul paid attention this year! … for a few weeks, and then he drifted off again. Like the Vikings’ 5-0 start, that’s all forgotten now. He started a WR on injured reserve the last five weeks of the season (a bold move which netted him zero pts) and didn’t appear to update his roster after mid-November at all. As noted NFL star Woody Allen once misquoted, 80 percent of success is just showing up.

Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim)
Projected finish: 9th place, 2001.00 pts
Actual finish: 9th place, 1778.08 pts
NFL equivalent: Cincinnati Bengals
Boom, dead on in my prediction. Where did it go wrong for our favorite Steelers fan? Was it his decision to bank on the Baltimore defense? Was it his reliance on noted AFC North irritant LB Vontaze Burfict? Was it the fact that RB Todd Gurley and QB Blake Bortles just stunk this year? Or was it cosmic payback for prematurely taunting the president-elect? We may never know.

Who’s on First? (Dad)
Projected finish: 1st place, 2418.01 pts
Actual finish: 8th place, 1838.82 pts
NFL equivalent: Carolina Panthers
A huge, huge fall for the reigning champ, who gives up his two-year perch atop the league in exchange for a view from the very cheap seats. Dad’s bold trade to snag one of his beloved New York players (loudmouth egotist WR Odell Beckham) didn’t pan out as he hoped, and his adoration for the New York Jets defense let to far fewer points than if he had some faith in his own Philly defenders. On the plus side, this small slice of humble pie may spur him to come back hungrier next year.

North Dakota Reaches (Capt. Awesome)
Projected finish: 3rd place, 2403.33 pts
Actual finish: 7th place, 1847.44 pts
NFL equivalent: Philadelphia Eagles
Meh. I mean, there were signs of brilliance, signs of disaster, but mostly just a lot of killing time on Sunday afternoons in the fall. Both my team and the birds had solid QBs (Andrew Luck and some kid named Wentz), disappointing wideouts (DeAndre Hopkins, what the hell happened, man?) and boring running backs (I should have cut Jonathan Stewart in week one). But there’s hope for next year for both squads too: For the Eagles, there’s a good young core, and for my fantasy team, I don’t have to keep any of these losers.

NotWith That Attitude (Sam)
Projected finish: 4th place, 2350.77 pts
Actual finish: 6th place, 1850.88 pts
NFL equivalent: Indianapolis Colts
Just 3.5 more pts and I would have jumped over Sam, who started three injured players in week 17 and still topped 108 pts. Sam wins the spelling bee prize this year, for fielding a team with TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, WR Quincy Enunwa and S Andrew Sendejo at various parts of the season. But he loses his prize for grabbing WR DeSean Jackson off the waiver wire, because only a fool would think that guy has anything left in the tank….

Blue Collar Killers (Jeff)
Projected finish: 5th place, 2222.23 pts
Actual finish: 5th place, 1955.29 pts
NFL equivalent: Atlanta Falcons
Boom, dead on in my prediction, again. Jeff can attribute his strong season to the Falcons success, since it’s pretty much the same team: RB Devonta Freeman, WR Julio Jones, QB Matt Ryan. His biggest downfall again was his unique coaching strategy of not fielding a full defense -- since week 4, he only started one defensive player, and that guy (LB Tamba Hali) scored 9 pts over the last eight weeks of the season. Throw another 80 pts on there and he could have challenged for the silver medal (which we are again not awarding this year due to budget cuts).

For Who? For Wentz? (Ant)
Projected finish: 12th place, 1804.54 pts
Actual finish: 4th place, 1990.06 pts
NFL equivalent: Oakland Raiders
Anthony and Oakland both looked like dark horse championship contenders until the last few weeks of the season, when everything fell apart. For Oakland, it was when QB Derek Carr was pounded into dust by the Colts defense. For Anthony, it was the month of December, when most of his team (QB Matt Stafford, RB Carlos Hyde, RB Melvin Gordon, RB Wendell Smallwood, RN Kenneth Farrow, TE Jordan Reed) suffered serious injuries and missed time. But I prefer to think it was uninspired coaching that really cost him a shot at the title.

QBs for Everyone! (Jo)
Projected finish: 8th place, 2020.20 pts
Actual finish: 3rd place, 1990.78 pts
NFL equivalent: New Jersey Giants
Joanner (who beat Anthony for this spot by 0.72 pts) has put together a nice string of finishes in recent years (2nd last year, 4th in 2014) to pad her stats for the all-time league standings. In the last 13 years, she has only finished in the bottom half of the league twice, and she’s jumped into the top five a remarkable nine times. But, unlike the Giants, she’s never gotten to the top. Maybe next year she should build her team around an overrated QB and an overhyped media presence and she can capture the same glory the New Jersey squad has.

Cosby’s Sleepers (Mike)
Projected finish: 7th place, 2101.10 pts
Actual finish: 2nd place, 2032.81 pts
NFL equivalent: Kansas City Chiefs
Speaking of sleepers, I have no idea how Mike landed up here. His squad is uninspiring save for Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, and features at least two players (WR Tyrell Williams and LB Telvin Smith) who I may have just made up right now (go ahead, I’ll wait while you check). But in this somewhat depressed, wacky fantasy year, his team was one of only two to crack the coveted 2,000-pts barrier, finishing a very respectable first-loser. If we recognized almost greatness in this league, I’d laud his work here. But since we don’t, I leave his shattered dreams behind and move to our surprise new champion...

Gronky Tonk Man (Joel)
Projected finish: 10th place, 1995.96 pts
Actual finish: 1st place, 2146.90 pts
NFL equivalent: Jacksonville Jaguars, if they somehow won the Super Bowl
2016 was a year of sports surprises. The Cubs won a World Series. Cleveland got a NBA Championship. The QB-less Broncos stole a Super Bowl win. No Cowboys were arrested for felonies. But all of those facts pale in comparison to the shock of this victory.

Consider this -- in the last 10 years of this blog, Joel has only finished in the top half of the league twice (5th place in 2012 and 6th place in 2010). Six times he has finished in the bottom three. For at least three years I didn’t know if he still had his password to set his team. And yet, in a sport year where up is down and wrong is right, Joel nabs his first-ever Awesome Cup title by a comfortable margin.

Bask in the glory of your title, Joel. I’m still not sure how, but you earned it:

As always, thanks again to everyone in the league for indulging my football insanities, and to the half of you who even set their rosters to give me something to write about. We’ll pick it up again in seven months, and joke about the Cowboys epic collapse in the playoffs while trying to suppress the memory of another Eli Manning trophy. Or we’ll just talk about how the Eagles still don’t have any decent wide receivers.

And don’t forget -- the 2017 NFL draft is scheduled for April 27 in the fair city of Philadelphia, so start practicing your booing right now.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Fantasy football 2016 -- week 17 recap

You may think the peak NFL excitement is over now that the regular season is finished, but you’re overlooking perhaps the most important part of the football calendar: The Pro Bowl, scheduled for Jan. 26.

In an effort to make the event great again (it’s less than a week after the inauguration, after all), the NFL is returning to an AFC vs NFC format (oh, you hadn’t noticed it changed?) and adding a few extra events, including team relay races (lame), more passing skills contests (meh) and a dodgeball game (which legitimately sounds awesome).

But why stop there? There’s so much more potential for an event like this:

** Chip and putt contest: Showing off the golf skills of every Pro-Bowler whose team failed to make the playoffs. They’ll need to brush up on their swings, after all.

** Arm wrestling exhibition: You know every one of the over-testosteroned linebackers will be there to prove their manliness.

** Football trivia showdown: Questions range from “what is a catch” to “name two Mannings who have played football.” Losers are immediately put in the concussion protocol as a precaution.

** Hockey spectacular: This would definitely get higher ratings than the NHL All-Star game. Maybe the NHL could get their stars to play a real football game, just for grins.

** College challenge: Skip the Pro Bowl entirely, somehow get the Browns to play Alabama to determine once and for all if a great college team could beat a terrible pro team. Winner gets a spot in the AFC North next year.

Top performers of the year

3rd place: Drew Brees, 407.32 pts -- 3rd QB drafted (Dad)
2nd place: Matt Ryan, 423.46 pts -- 18th QB drafted (Jeff)
1st place: Aaron Rogers, 460.02 pts -- 2nd QB drafted (Jo)

Ryan was the obvious steal of this class. Cam Newton, the first QB drafted, ended up in 19th place for fantasy scoring for the season. In the professional fantasy prediction business, we call that “not good.”

3rd place: Mike Evans, 212.57 pts -- 8th WR drafted (Ant)
2nd place: Jordy Nelson, 214.30 pts -- 14th WR drafted (Paul)
1st place: Antonio Brown, 215.76 pts -- 1st WR drafted (Bob)

Brown was worth the top pick in the draft for his position, at least. Loudmouth Odell Beckham was the 4th-place finisher, while Tyreek Hill -- not one of the 63 wideouts drafted this year -- finished in fifth, just a few TDs behind Brown.

3rd place: LeSean McCoy, 261.43 pts -- 11th RB drafted (Bob)
2nd place: Ezekiel Elliott, 297.80 pts -- 3rd RB drafted (Mike)
1st place: David Johnson, 340.50 pts -- 1st RB drafted (Joel)

Johnson should have been the #1 overall pick (and was my top pick for my championship-winning team) and put up more points than all but five QBs. In fact, the top eight RBs all scored more than the #1 wideout this year, so stop with this “draft a WR first” nonsense already.

3rd place: Greg Olsen, 132.53 pts -- 3rd TE drafted (Paul)
2nd place: Kyle Rudolph, 140.00 pts -- 25th TE drafted (me)
1st place: Travis Kelce, 143.00 pts -- 4th TE drafted (Jim)

And let this be the end of picking up TEs in the first round too. Often-injured Rob Gronkowski finished 25th among TEs in fantasy scoring, and even Kelce was no better than the 22nd-ranked WR and 24th-ranked RB on the board.

3rd place: Dustin Hopkins, 151.00 pts -- undrafted
2nd place: Justin Tucker, 175.00 pts -- 8th K drafted (Joel)
1st place: Matt Bryant, 179.00 pts -- undrafted

Eagles K Caleb Sturgis finished 4th in fantasy scoring, which is either really good news for him or a complete indictment of the position this year.

3rd place: Denver, 180.00 pts -- 1st DEF drafted (Bob)
2nd place: Minnesota, 185.00 pts -- 8th DEF drafted (Sam)
1st place: Kansas City, 191.00 pts -- 10th DEF drafted (Ant)

Yes, that’s Bob’s third appearance on the list so far. Kinda makes you wonder how his team dropped so far down with so many top players.

3rd place: Khalil Mack, 74.50 pts -- undrafted
2nd place: Kwon Alexander, 75.50 pts -- undrafted
1st place: Landon Collins, 82.50 pts -- undrafted

Fun fact -- I actually dropped Mack to pick up Alexander early in the season. That extra point I got made all the work worth it.

"Worst performers of the year" edition

5th place: Jake Fisher, -0.70 pts -- on the wire
4th place: Keshawn Martin, -1.26 pts -- on the wire
3rd place: Sean Mannon, -1.34 pts -- on the wire
2nd place: Brett Hundley, -1.52 pts -- on the wire
1st place: Ryan Mallett, -1.56 pts -- on the wire

Congrats to the backup Balitmore QB, who appeared in four games this year and managed to score negative fantasy pts in three of them. He finished the season 3 for 6 for 26 yds with one interception, with a handful of negative rushing yds mixed in there.

Meanwhile, Bills RB Reggie Bush (still somehow not retired) finished the season with 19.52 fantasy pts but became the first non-QB since 1970 to end the season with negative rushing yds (-3, to be exact). So, no matter how bad your 2016 was, you can rest knowing that you rushed for more yds than a disgraced Heisman trophy winner.

** Speaking of of the Pro Bowl, they’re advertising the game as “the best vs the next” which I assume isn’t a reference to the upcoming stars of football but in fact the next players in line to replace all the stars who beg out of the annual mockery of sport.

** All the Marlyand Racial Slurs had to do to get into the playoffs on Sunday was beat an apathetic Giants team with no playoff seeding to worry about. It seemed like nothing at all. In fact, the team itself was so confident that, according to the Washington Post, they started showing potential first-round post-season opponents for the Slurs on the stadium scoreboard at halftime, even though the home team was down 10-0.

Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way. The Slurs lost 19-10 after a last-second desperation lateral was picked off and returned for a defensive TD. The most knife-twisting part was that refs had to bring the teams back to the field for an untimed extra point attempt after most of the Maryland team had already gone to the locker room. The Giants knelt, rather than pile on.

The headline in the local paper today? "End of the season, 'end of the world'" ... which isn't at all overplaying the loss.

The Slurs in recent years have led the league in premature and unnecessary celebrations after every play, so the whole debacle couldn’t happen to a nicer group of guys.

Some positives to take away from the Eagles second consecutive 7-9 season:

** Carson Wentz: Unlike last year, at least we all feel good about the QB moving ahead. Wentz set the NFL rookie completions record in Sunday’s win, and showed enough skills over his 16 starts to make you feel like he could be great with a more talented supporting cast.

** The draft pick: Going into this year, it looked like the Eagles had given up a plum pick to nab Wentz. Now, after the Sam Bradford trade with the 8-8 Vikings, the Eagles will grab a player in the first round just a few slots lower than their own pick merited.

** The 2017 record: The Eagles are undefeated since the new year started, and have a chance at a rare three wins against the Cowboys this year. So there’s that to look forward to.

** Doug Pederson: I can only think of a few stupid decisions and not much else from the whole season. So, if his goal was not to be a lightning rod, he succeeded wildly.

** The NFC East: Yes, the Cowboys and Giants had great seasons, but this was the 12th consecutive year the division hasn’t had a repeat champion (not since the Eagles from 2001-04). So anything is possible again next year.

The Cowboys enter the playoffs as the number one seed, while the Eagles are heading home for the winter after their aforementioned 7-9 season. And Philly’s 27-13 win over Dallas in Philly yesterday didn’t make one bit of difference in that. So, there really was no value to that victory, right?

As always, the letters show the error of your ways.

Eagles defeat rival Dallas Cowboys in a meaningless game
** All cads -- any win against village of demons seems agreeable

Hopefully your 2017 will start off lovely, with quick Cowboys and Giants losses in the playoffs and peace towards all mankind.

** Valiant effort by Dad, but he and I split the weekly picks on Sunday, giving me the yearly title by three games. It’s my second consecutive victory in the annual contest, after three straight years of Dad wins. I finished with a record of 166-88, five games better than last season and a winning rate of 65.4 percent. As always, that’s significantly better than the boobs who get paid millions to do this for a living.

** As part of my New Year’s resolutions list, I’m trying to leave the past in the past. So I’ve got nothing to say about that pitiful excuse for an Ohio State game way, way back in last year.

** With the season finished, we know who the Eagles 2017 opponents will include now. They’ll face the last-place Panthers in Carolina (4th meeting in six years), the last-place Bears in Philly (3rd year playing in a row) and all of the NFC West, including a game against the Cardinals in Philly (6th meeting in seven years).

Didn’t we kick the Cardinals out of the NFC East? Why do we play them all the time still?

Week 17 standings

The final league standings -- and the presentation of the Awesome Cup -- will take place Tuesday night.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fantasy football 2016 -- week 16 recap

Here’s a quick look at everyone on Santa Claus’ naughty list this year:

** The Oakland Raiders: On the way to the #2 seed in the AFC and potentially a real run at the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl QB Derek Carr broke his leg on Saturday on a freak play. But don’t worry, because backup QB Matt McGloin has thrown 11 TDs and 11 INTs in his four-year career off the bench, so I’m sure they’ll still be fine against the best defenses in the league in January.

** Bengals K Randy Bullock: He missed what would have been a game-winning 43-yd FG on Saturday against the team that cut him last year, the Houston Texans. The Texans now head to the playoffs after winning their division. Bullock, who has played for five teams in the last five years, is likely looking for his next job.

** Vikings DBs: Minnesota coaches planned to have a cornerback shadow Packers WR Jordy Nelson for all of the game Saturday to limit his big-play ability. But the secondary got together and overrode the coaches, confident that CB Xavier Rhodes could handle him one-on-one. Nelson finished the first half with 100 receiving yds and 2 TDs in the first half, before a strategy switch was made.

** San Diego fans: In what could be the 55-year-old team’s final season in town, the Chargers managed to lose to the previously winless Browns on Saturday after a last-second FG attempt sailed wide. The team, which can finish no better than 6-10, has only appeared in one Super Bowl in its history (1994) and had its only AFL championship in 1963.

** St. Nick: There are 23 NFL players named Nick, and not a single one scored more than six fantasy pts this weekend. Of those, 14 saw their team lose too.

QB: Aaron Rodgers, 45.18 pts -- started by Joanna
WR: Adam Thielen, 32.35 pts -- on Mom Doyle’s bench
RB: David Johnson, 30.23 pts -- started by Joel
TE: Travis Kelce, 22.17 pts -- started by Jim
K: Matt Bryant, 20.00 pts -- started by Joanna
DEF: New England, 20.00 pts -- started by Mike
D: Malcolm Jenkins, 14.00 pts -- started by Joanna

AAAAHHHHH so close again. To be honest, I have no idea who Adam Thielen is. Allegedly he’s at almost 1,000 receiving yds for the year and had 202 yds and two TDs on Saturday. But he has Sam Bradford throwing to him, so that can’t be right.

Rodgers has had six performances of more than 30 fantasy pts this year and four others above 25 pts, which is pretty good. His ratio of 36 TDs to 7 INTs is also pretty good. And if he can stretch his team’s five-game winning streak into six next week, the Packers will win the NFC North despite sitting at 4-6 in mid November. It’s almost as if he’s pretty good…

“Bad defense” edition

2nd place (tie): Detroit, -5.00 pts -- on Jeff’s bench
2nd place (tie): NY Jets, -5.00 pts -- on the wire
1st place: Chicago, -6.00 pts -- on the wire

The Bears turn in the worst defensive performance possible, allowing 41 pts against the Maryland Racial Slurs and recording no turnovers, sacks or signs of life.

On the other side of the ledger, the Slurs recorded a blocked kick, a sack and five INTs en route to a big win that could propel them into the playoffs. That accounted for almost a 25 percent increase in their turnover total for the year, and brought their yearly fantasy pts total to … five pts more than the Bears. Football ain’t fair sometimes.

** Rams interim coach John Fassel on Monday said that he is optimistic about his team’s chances in next week’s finale against the Cardinals, saying “we’re tough enough to be inspired” for one more week.

“Like we talked about last week, we’re all being evaluated and we’re playing for something,” he told reporters. “Not that we’re looking for the individual accolades in this last game, but there’s things out there that we can strive for that are important to us. So I’m sure the guys will do it.”

That is false. The team’s head coach was fired two weeks ago, the team just lost to the previously 1-13 49ers, and the team is 459 yds behind the second-to-worst offense in the NFL (the Browns). At 4-11, there is absolutely nothing to be “inspired” about.

** During Monday night football, ESPN’s humanoid shrieking alarm clock Chris Berman compared the Brown’s second-quarter blocked FG in their win on Saturday to LeBron James’ game-saving block in the waning seconds of the NBA finals because Chris Berman understands absolutely nothing about sports.

Sunday’s Eagles game against the Cowboys is meaningless in the standings for both teams, but could take on historic importance in the rivalry as the last appearance in a Dallas uniform by Tony Romo. The Cowboys’ Toy Moron has posted a 9-5 record against the Eagles over the last decade, but has also come up with some wonderfully memorable moments worth savoring one last time:

** Thanksgiving 2014: The Eagles travel to Dallas and thump the Cowboys on national television 33-10. Romo’s two interceptions and four sacks help sink the Dallas offense, as Philly QB Mark Sanchez proves to be the best passer on the field.

** Christmas Eve 2011: Both teams entered the game at 7-7, but Romo exited the game two passes in after breaking his hand on the helmet of DE Jason Babin. The Cowboys are not penalized despite the blatant assault, but lose 20-7 anyways.

** Halloween 2011: Earlier that same season, Romo offered a much better performance -- four sacks, one interception and no points until a TD pass halfway through the fourth quarter. Cowboys lose 34-7.

** Dec. 28, 2008: Likely Romo’s greatest performance in the rivalry. With the winner heading to the playoffs and the loser heading home, Romo tosses one interception and fumbles twice en route to an embarrassing 44-6 win. Both fumbles were returned for 70-plus-yds defensive scores.

** Dec. 16, 2007: One of Romo’s earliest late-season collapses. The Eagles managed only 10 points in this road game, but Romo’s three interceptions limited the Cowboys to only six points and an embarrassing loss.

It’s going to be weird watching Romo in a Broncos uniform next year, but I’m pretty sure I’ll still be able to root against him.

The Eagles win over the Giants Thursday night handed the division title to the hated Cowboys, which was the ultimate no-win situation. They now enter the post-season as the league’s top seed, making for at least one extra week of evil spreading into 2017. As if that wasn’t dire enough, just look what their season-long triumph portends:

Dallas clinches another NFC East title before Christmas
** The fires of hell amass, blast necrotic rant, scald the nice

Remember, you can’t spell Dallas without “all sad.” Merry Christmas, and may God have mercy on us all for allowing this.

** Annnnnd Dad does it again, picking up two more games in our weekly picks to pull within three entering the final week of the season. I was up nine with less than five weeks to go. This has all the makings of an absolutely classic collapse by me.

** But enough about my failures -- I won the Capitol Hill defense reporters league this week, thanks to ridiculous performances by QB Tyrod Taylor, RB David Johnson and WR Jordy Nelson. I was the top points getter all year but finished the regular season in second, then had to sweat out a divisional playoff game before trashing my opponent in the championship. My key to success -- no Eagles the whole year. Because I wanted to win.

** The NFL has 16 games slated all for Sunday and none of them are going to be as good as the two college football playoff games on Saturday night (Go Buckeyes!).

Week 16 standings

1 -- Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 2023.94 pts
2 -- Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 1941.16 pts
3 -- QBs for Everyone! (Jo), 1886.87 pts
4 -- For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 1873.13 pts
5 -- Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 1814.88 pts
6 -- Not with that Attitude (Sam), 1742.29 pts
7 -- North Dakota Reaches (me), 1731.76 pts
8 -- Who's on First? (Dad), 1718.49 pts
9 -- Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 1704.61 pts
10 -- May Pay Attention (Paul), 1692.40 pts
11 -- Yelp for help (Mom Doyle), 1654.71 pts
12 -- Last exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 1543.59 pts

Joel becomes the first team to break the 2000-pts mark, and seems all but certain to win the league. Anthony, who just a few weeks ago looked as if he could threaten Joel’s coronation, has drifted all the way down into fourth place after another dreadful performance.

I’m within striking distance of the top half of the standings, Mom Doyle could climb all the way into 10th with a good performance, and Bob informed me this week that he does in fact remember that he has a fantasy team. So, all good news.

ONE WEEK LEFT. But it’s the screwyist week of the year, with starters getting benched, rookies getting practice time and still somehow playoff spots being decided. So anything can happen until the Awesome Cup gets engraved a week from now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fantasy football 2016 -- week 15 recap

Here’s a look at the wish lists for a few of NFL teams’ GMs this Christmas season:

** Broncos: A new bobblehead Peyton Manning, to play QB the rest of the year.
** Giants: Earplugs, to help quiet Odell Beckham’s constant shrieking.
** Eagles: Glue sticks, to “repair” their wideouts’ gloves.
** Patriots: Scented candles, to cover up the smell of cheating.
** Cowboys: The souls of small children, for lunch.
** Ravens: Nothing. The Eagles handing them a win for free was already a great gift.
** Browns: A nuclear bomb, to “repair” their team.

QB: Drew Brees, 37.36 pts -- started by Paul
WR: Ty Montgomery, 30.41 pts -- started by Dad
RB: Devonta Freeman, 31.97 pts -- started by Jeff
TE: Dion Sims, 16.07 pts -- on the wire
K: Chris Boswell, 23.50 pts -- on the wire
DEF: Miami, 26.00 pts -- on the wire
D: Calais Campbell, 14.00 pts -- on the wire

At least the wire had a good week.

So, technically Mike’s WR Brandin Cooks had the top score of the week (27.90 pts) because Montgomery is listed as a WR/RB and scored most of his points thanks to rushing TDs. But, I hate how Cooks spells his first name, so he gets dropped to also-ran status here.

Also, Chris Boswell: One 35-yard FG, five 40-plus-yds FGs and a tackle. Not a bad day for a kicker.

“Terrible, terrible people” edition

3rd place: Jordan Norwood, -1.60 pts -- on the wire
2nd place: Brock Osweiler, -2.08 pts -- on the wire
1st place: San Francisco, -3.00 pts -- on the wire

Osweiler posted a 26.1 QB rating on Sunday (much worse than the 39.6 rating you set just by sitting on the couch) behind a two-interception, 48-yds dud of a performance that got him benched in the second quarter.

But your mediocre play from your couch barely cost a penny (unless you lost change in the cushions when you stood up.) Osweiler is costing the Texans $21 million this season, and has another $18 million in guaranteed money on his contract. And he got badly outplayed by a backup QB I’ve never heard of (Tom Savage, allegedly in his third year in the NFL and making $300K this season).

And despite that the Texans are tied for first in their division. Football is unfair.

** FYI, all the NFL games are screwed up next week. The main slate of games is scheduled for Christmas Eve (Saturday) with seven games scheduled for 1pm, four games set for 430 pm, and a Saturday night game. And there’s still a Thursday night game (Eagles/Giants, dammit) and a Monday night game.

And then there’s Sunday, where there should be a ton of normal games to watch after a relaxing Christmas morning. But instead, we only get two late game -- an 830pm showdown with the Broncos and the Chiefs and a 430pm contest between the Steelers and Ravens that is … you guessed it … a special Christmas edition of Thursday night football.

It’s only a matter of time before Thursday games that are particularly boring are going to be rebranded as a special Thursday editions inspired by the special holiday broadcast of regular Thursday night football excitement.

Remember: The NFL hates you, and makes it less appealing to watch every week, and you continue to watch.

** NFL.com has a story titled “Thirty-nine things we learned from Week 15” and I’ll let you know what it says when I finally get done reading that “Thirty-six things we learned from Week 11” that I started last month and still haven’t finished.

The Eagles lost their fifth game in a row on Sunday (and seventh of their last eight) right around the same time the Jacksonville Jaguars lost their ninth game in a row, prompting the late-season firing of coach Gus Bradley.

The 22-year-old Florida franchise, picked at the beginning of this season as a playoff threat, has been as dreadful to watch as the Browns over the last decade with none of the history or charm. Consider:

** The Jags haven’t had a winning season in nine years, and have one playoff victory in the last 17 seasons.

** The team has had back-to-back wins once in their last 49 games, and a 14-48 record under Bradley.

** The NFL assumes no one in Florida wants to see them play -- they’ve had a home game reassigned to London each of the last four years, and already have one for next year taken away too.

** That loss on Sunday that broke the coaching camel’s back? Yep, it came at the hands of the Texans and backup QB Tom Savage, who threw for 260 yds in two-plus quarters against the Jags furball defense. That’s more than twice the total passing yds he had in his career before Sunday.

Season ticket plans for the 2017 season start at $600. Catch the cat fever!

That sad noise you’re hearing in the distance is the inevitable end of the Cowboys Insult Anagrams for the season, with only a pair of weeks left after this one. Or, maybe it’s the sound of evil escaping from the Dallas offensive line. Consider all the different noises being made by lineman Ronald Lear’s name alone:

Guard Ronald Leary
** A dull roar, gray end
** A loud, dreary gnarl
** A lardy, ruled groan
** A drug yell, or a darn

I’m sure he’s growling too, but using the W in Cowboys to unveil that cacophony just seemed like too much.

** Whoa! Dad won three of four this week to cut my lead down to five games in our picks contest with two weeks left to go. For the second week in a row, I completely missed on a beatdown (Minnesota, keep losing! We want a better pick) and saw my faith in the Lions destroyed by Eli Manning. But I’m not nervous … yet.

** Thank you, Kirk Cousins! His crappy Monday night game put me in the championship round of my other league, guaranteeing me at least a $50 payout (and possibly much more). Now all I need is for Drew Brees, Antonio Brown and LeSean McCoy to suck this week.

Week 14 standings

1 -- Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 1894.56 pts
2 -- Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 1813.88 pts
3 -- For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 1789.38pts
4 -- QBs for Everyone! (Jo), 1744.39 pts
5 -- Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 1717.34 pts
6 -- Not with that Attitude (Sam), 1663.87 pts
7 -- North Dakota Reaches (me), 1615.51 pts
8 -- Who's on First? (Dad), 1593.00 pts
9 -- May Pay Attention (Paul), 1590.40 pts
10 -- Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 1558.34 pts
11 -- Yelp for help (Mom Doyle), 1503.76 pts
12 -- Last exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 1433.86 pts

A huge stumble by Ant’s team this week drops him from threatening first to gasping in third. Mike hops up to second, representing the only hope of stopping Joel this season, but it’s a faint hope. He now boasts an 80-plus pts lead and may be the only team this year to break the 2000-pts barrier. The trophy is already being shined...

Joanna remains stalled in fourth, Jeff in fifth, Sam in sixth. There’s a four-way dogfight for seventh-place, with my squad currently leading that pack of losers. And Mom Doyle and Bob seem pretty well stuck in their bottom posts.

Two weeks of excitement left. Will the Eagles/Giants Thursday night game decide your entire fantasy season? Will you even remember that’s when the game is being played?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fantasy league 2016 -- week 14 recap

This weekend marks the most exciting time of the year: The first Saturday games of the NFL season. The league, which is totally not already overexposed, will feature an incredible slate of games to watch over five days for all your viewing excitement. Consider these tasty match-ups:

** Thursday night, Rams vs. Seahawks
Their last matchup was a 9-6 FG contest, but this time the Rams come in having just fired their head coach and a 15-point underdog. Must-see TV.

** Saturday night, Dolphins at Jets
An AFC match-up between a playoff hopeful who lost their QB to injury last week (Miami) and a four-win squad on their fourth QB of the year (New York).

** Sunday 1pm, eight games
Take your pick! Only two of the games feature a pair of teams with winning records, but maybe you’ll get lucky and get that exciting Browns/Bills contest instead.

** Sunday 4pm, four games
Three of these games (Patriots at Broncos, Oakland at San Diego, Saints at Cardinals) could be fun to watch. But you’ll only get to see one at the most, thanks to TV rules.

** Sunday night, Bucs at Cowboys
This is a great match-up between two NFC championship contenders. I’m surprised it’s on national TV. Maybe they’ll move it.

** Monday night, Panthers at Maryland Racial Slurs
Two division winners from 2015 square off to see if either can move out of third place this season.

And if that wasn't enough excitement, the college bowl season starts Saturday too, with the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, the Las Vegas Bowl presented by Geico, and the AutoNation Cure Bowl. No, I did not make up any of those.

Be sure to check with your doctor to see how much consumption of football-like substance is hazardous to your health.

QB: Tom Brady, 32.14 pts -- started by Jeff
WR: Tyreek Hill, 20.58 pts -- started by Jo
RB: Le’Veon Bell, 47.73 pts -- started by Mom Doyle
TE: Tyler Eifert, 17.70 pts -- started by me
K: Nick Novak, 19.00 pts -- started by Ant
DEF: Atlanta, 28.00 pts -- on the wire
D: Vic Beasley Jr., 17.50 pts -- started by Mom Doyle

Arrrggggghhhh we were that close. Stupid Hotlanta.

(In fairness, we weren’t that close. Of the top six DEFs this week, only two were owned, and both of them were on the bench).

Bell’s ridiculous three-TD, 236-yds rushing performance (plus a mere 62 yds receiving) was by far the top fantasy performance of the year and the best fantasy output by a running back since … just three years ago, actually. In December 2013, Jamaal Charles had a 49-pts performance behind five TDs and 195 yds receiving. And Bell’s work pales in comparison to the 61.7-pts performance by Houston RB Billy Cannon in 1961, when he accounted for 330 total yds and five 5 TDs. Pretty sure I was playing against him that week...

“Players we own” edition

3rd place: Travis Benjamin, -0.20 pts -- on Sam’s bench
2nd place: Dez Bryant, -0.33 pts -- started by Jim
1st place: Seattle, -5.00 pts -- started by me

Yeah, I did not see that Green Bay beatdown of the Seahawks coming.

Great game for the Cowpokes #1 wideout on Sunday night: one catch for 10 yds, and a fumble. Good work for a guy who is supposed to be one of the top five receivers in the league. But at least he’s calm enough not to make a big deal out of that this week.

** During Sunday’s painful Giants/Cowboys game, as Dallas was trying to get in FG range at the end of the first half, sideline reporter Michele Tafoya said she had talked to Cowboys K Dan Bailey who reported “that he’s confident kicking from 54 yards either way in this stadium, but he thinks he can get another yard or two going this direction on the field.”

The Cowboys then promptly completed an 18-yard pass, trotted Bailey out for a last-second FG, and his kick from 55 yards … hit the crossbar and bounced back onto the field. So I guess he couldn’t get another yard.

Honestly, I don’t know if that was just stupid coincidence or amazing knowledge of one’s own limitations. I’m just happy Dallas missed a FG.

** During Monday night’s game, before Baltimore’s first FG attempt, ESPN announcer Sean McDonough announced that Ravens K Justin Tucker was the only kicker not to miss any attempts this year. The stats team flashed up “only perfect kicker” across the screen. Color commentator John Gruden stated “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this guy miss.”

Of course the kick was immediately blocked.

Next time, if ESPN wants to be nicer, instead of jinxing the guy every way possible, they’ll just go punch him in the face.

The Eagles, at 5-8, aren’t going to the playoffs this year. They’ll extend the longest wait among Philadelphia teams since the last playoff win, way back in 2008 (one more losing year and it’s a decade, kids).

But since the Phillies five-year run atop the NL East, it’s been pretty dark times all around for Philly sports. The Flyers and Sixers both won first-round playoff series in 2012, and the four teams are a combined 0-3 in the post-season in the four years since.

Which brings us to the 2016-2017 Flyers, who could end that streak with a victory next spring. The Flyers have reeled off nine wins in a row to pull within two points of the best record in all of hockey, albeit with 51 games still left on their schedule.

I bring this all up mostly to note that if it doesn’t happen, it’ll be more than five years without a decent sports team in town. The Phillies and Sixers still look several years away, and the Eagles look two years away from winning a division game again (0-4 this season).

So, go Flyers. Yay hockey. Yay something watchable. Please.

With all the attention focused on the Cowboys top two QBs this year, their third string passer has gone almost completely unnoticed for much of the season. How is one-time Eagles/Jets/Broncos QB Mark Sanchez doing down in Texas these days?

Former USC great, Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Mark Travis Sanchez
** Butt fumble hero a sad mess, a quack. TV czars rip car bro: Lacks any grace, work.

Of course Sanchez’ name and title easily spell out “butt fumble.” He will never escape it.

** Great rally by Dad, who lost the Thursday night game but picked up two on Sunday to pull within seven again. He’s still not mathematically eliminated, only scientifically and grammatically.

** Headline: “Fantasy injury updates for Melvin Gordon, Matt Forte, Matthew Stafford, more for Week 15.”

Me, looking at my pay-league team heading to the playoffs next week: “Yep, I’m starting all three of them. QB Tyrod Taylor and WR Allen Hurns on my bench, both injured too.”

Fantasy football stinks.

** Speaking of my fantasy teams, I missed the playoffs by one game in my third league. I lost this week by 1.5 pts. It’s the third time this year I lost by less than a field goal.

Fantasy football stinks.

Week 14 standings

1 -- Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 1783.20 pts
2 -- For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 1717.70pts
3 -- Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 1667.92 pts
4 -- QBs for Everyone! (Jo), 1650.82 pts
5 -- Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 1600.57 pts
6 -- Not with that Attitude (Sam), 1585.47 pts
7 -- North Dakota Reaches (me), 1499.13 pts
8 -- Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 1492.99 pts
9 -- May Pay Attention (Paul), 1468.71 pts
10 -- Who's on First? (Dad), 1468.43 pts
11 -- Yelp for help (Mom Doyle), 1393.83 pts
12 -- Last exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 1345.54 pts

Anthony is starting to chase down our long-time league leader, and now sits only 66 pts back of another Awesome Cup Championship. All her needs is to outscore Joel by 22 pts a week over the last stretch of the season, and this week he beat him by 32. So … anything is possible.

Case in point -- No one thought my dreadful team could get into the middle of the standings, but here we are. All I need to do is outscore Joel by 94 pts a week over the last three weeks and I’ll be up top.

OK, maybe not everything is possible.

Kudos to Mom Doyle for winning the week with the 12th-best pts total of the year, pulling her further away from the basement. If she can just get 200-plus yds out of Le’Veon Bell each week, she might break the single-digits in the standings.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Fantasy league 2016 -- week 13 recap

What it’s like to be an Eagles fan with a birthday in December:

-- Dec. 5, 1976: The day after I was born, the Eagles lost 26-7 to the hated Cowboys en route to a pathetic 3-10 season. I’m sure I watched the game.

-- Dec. 4, 1977: On my one-year birthday, the Eagles again lose to Dallas, this time 24-17. At this point in my life, they’re 0-3 against the Cowboys and 4-10 overall.

-- Dec. 4, 1983: To celebrate my seventh birthday, the Eagles decide to win for a change. They upend the LA Rams 13-9 despite a missed extra point and only 286 yds of offense.

-- Dec. 4, 1988: The Eagles mark my 12th birthday by losing to the Washington Racial Slurs (they played in DC at the time) in a game where they led 19-7 in the third quarter.

-- Dec. 4, 1994: On my 18th birthday, late in the 4th quarter, QB Randall Cunningham throws an INT in the end zone that’s returned 100 yards for a TD in an Eagles 31-19 loss to the Cowboys.

-- Dec. 4, 2006: Twelve years since my last birthday game, the Eagles defeat the Panthers 27-24 on a Monday night game that requires a last-minute end zone interception to seal the victory.

-- Dec. 4, 2016: For my 40th birthday, rookie QB Carson Wentz attempts 60 passes producing three INTs and a 32-14 loss to the Bengals.

Dec. 4 falls on Monday next year and then not on a Sunday again until 2022. If the Birds can manage to play and win on both those occasions, they’ll be at .500 on my birthday for the first time in 46 years.

I’m not holding my breath.

QB: Andrew Luck, 37.73 pts -- started by me
WR: Tyler Lockett, 21.36 pts -- on Joel’s bench
RB: David Johnson, 30.97 pts -- started by Joel
TE: Dwayne Allen, 24.80 pts -- on the wire
K: Matt Prater, 18.00 pts -- on the wire
DEF: Chicago, 22.00 pts -- on the wire
D: Leonard Floyd, 12.00 pts -- on the wire

It should be noted that Joanna cut Prater right before kickoff Sunday to grab a TE who was not Dwyane Allen. Double shot there.

Also, it’s an injustice that Chiefs S Eric Berry isn’t the top defensive player of the week, falling just short with 11.50 pts. But those points were far more important than Floyd’s (two sacks and a safety). Berry returned an INT for a TD in the first half of his game, then returned a two-point conversion attempt 99 yards for the winning margin in KC’s 28-27 victory over the Falcons. Not a bad afternoon.

“Awful defense” edition

3rd place: Miami, -2.00 pts -- on the wire
2nd place: NY Jets, -3.00 pts -- started by Dad
1st place: Buffalo, -6.00 pts -- on the wire

I always warn Dad that his unbridled love for New York teams is going to hurt him, but he never listens.

Speaking of New York state teams, Buffalo dropped the lowest possible score this week, with 38 pts allowed, no sacks and no turnovers in wonderful disaster of a game against the Raiders. Buffalo was actually up 24-9 in that game, then let the Raiders score 31 unanswered over the last 24 minutes of the game. Hell of an effort, guys.

** On Sunday night, Panthers coach Ron Rivera benched QB Cam Newton for the offense’s opening play because he had an unspecified violation of the team’s travel dress code. Officially, it’s one less “start” for Newton in his career.

And how did that one play go? Backup turned starting QB Derek Anderson bounced his only pass off his fullback’s hands and into the arms of a Seattle linebacker, giving the favored Seahawks an early advantage in a game where they eventually won 40-7.

I think someone learned a valuable lesson there, and it wasn’t Newton.

** ESPN headline: “Eagles likely to pursue DeSean Jackson in free agency.”
Just shoot me now.

It’s bowl season again, so here’s some possibilities the NFL could embrace to bring a little more collegiate excitement to their last month of regular season games:

** The Hefty Garbage Bag Bowl: Browns vs. Niners
Hefty would love to have their name on this contest, because it would be the least trashy thing on the field.

** The Lipitor Heart Attack Bowl: Chargers vs Lions
The Lions first 11 games were all decided by less than a TD. The Chargers have seven losses by less than eight points. All fans get a free heart rate monitor.

** The Ramen Sustenance Bowl: Colts vs Cardinals
Like the noodles, this looks and feels like football, but has no actual flavor of substance.

** The Six Flags Roller Coaster Bowl: Eagles vs. Vikings
A rematch game! Remember when these two teams were both exciting? Now here’s what it looks like at the bottom of the hill.

** The National Championship Bowl: Cowboys vs. Crimson Tide
The voters always include Alabama. Always.

Talent evaluation is tough for the Cowboys scouting staff, because they’re charged with finding individuals with the right mix of talent but still wholly objectionable personalities. But, little known fact, they actually use these anagrams to help them in their search. Take, for example, their sixth round DB pick this past draft:

Cowboys Dallas Safety Kavon Frazier
** No skill, fat face, sad bravery, was oozy

Sounds like perfect Cowboys material to me.

** Dad’s foolish pick of the Jets Monday night dropped him to eight back in the weekly picks contest. Like I said, those NY teams...

** Guess what? We’re finally done with bye weeks for the season! Still a bunch of stupid Thursday night games left, though.

** Pro Bowl vote totals so far came out this week, and I’m sure someone cares about that. But it’s not me.
Week 13 standings

1 -- Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 1682.82 pts
2 -- For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 1588.11 pts
3 -- Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 1575.52 pts
4 -- QBs for Everyone! (Jo), 1526.59 pts
5 -- Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 1523.86 pts
6 -- Not with that Attitude (Sam), 1501.91 pts
7 -- Who's on First? (Dad), 1409.19 pts
8 -- Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 1407.37 pts
9 -- North Dakota Reaches (me), 1392.12 pts
10 -- May Pay Attention (Paul), 1380.89 pts
11 -- Yelp for help (Mom Doyle), 1246.34 pts
12 -- Last exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 1241.28 pts

No movement for anyone in the top six this week, but everyone in the bottom six switched places, so let’s focus there.

Paul’s terrible, terrible week dropped him down to the bottom three, and another exemplary coaching job by me vaulted my squad back up into the single-digits. And Bob and Mom Doyle continue their bloody battle to stay out of last place, with only about five pts separating them from ignominy.

With four weeks left, can anyone come close to unseating Joel? Has the league punching bag become the new juggernaut? 2016, you continue to continue to confuse me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fantasy league 2016 -- week 12 recap

The Eagles easiest path to the playoffs, after Monday’s drubbing at the hands of the Packers:

** The Eagles go 4-1 in their final five. They finish 9-7.
** The Maryland Racial Slurs go 2-3 or worse, finishing no better than 8-7-1.
** The Bucs and Vikings go 2-3 or worse, finishing no better than 8-8.
** The Saints and Packers go 3-2 or worse, finishing no better than 8-8.
** The Cardinals, Panther and Rams all lose at least one more game, and finish no better than 8-8.

Just those few simple steps and the Eagles lock down that final wild card spot. Four of their final five contests come against teams with a winning record and currently in playoff position. But they’re actually third in the NFC in point differential, so it should be no problem at all.

QB: Drew Brees, 40.50 pts -- started by Paul
WR: Tyreek Hill, 28.55 pts -- started by Joanna
RB: Mark Ingram, 28.50 pts -- started by Sam
TE: Jordan Reed, 23.33 pts -- on Ant’s bench
K: Justin Tucker, 19.00 pts -- started by Jeff
DEF: NY Giants, 25.00 pts -- started by Dad
D: Jason Pierre-Paul, 18.50 pts -- on the wire

Fun facts you find out about everyone’s coaching style when you put this list together:

** Anthony started two TEs who combined for zero pts and left Reed on his bench.
** Jeff is carrying three kickers, two defenses but only one defensive player.
** Dad is averaging more than three player moves a week.
** Bob has been starting an inactive kicker and WR for the last three weeks.
** All of these people still scored over 100 pts this week.

Fantasy football is unfair to the just and the wicked alike…

“Defenses we started” edition

3rd place: Philadelphia, 1.00 pts -- started by Bob
2nd place: Arizona, -1.00 pts -- started by Joel
1st place: LA Rams, -2.00 pts -- started by Paul

Combined, those three teams surrendered 114 pts this weekend, and all three defenses were started in more than 70 percent of leagues across the Yahoo fantasy empire. So, everybody sucks.

** The ESPN ads leading up to Monday’s Packers/Eagles game had the tag line “sometimes desperation is the best inspiration” which is a nicer way of saying “neither of these teams is good but maybe it’ll be fun to watch?”

** At the start of the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Giants/Browns game, Fox commentator Matt Millen said that even though Cleveland was down eight, “they're playing hard, I feel like they're really going to show something this quarter.” Three plays later, the Browns tossed an interception returned for a TD and were out of the game for good.

Millen has unique insight on truly awful teams, given his work assembling the 2008 Lions, the only NFL team to ever go winless in a 16-game season. So it doesn’t surprise me that he was impressed by the 0-12 Browns. Or perhaps he’s just rooting for company down at the bottom?

Time for everyone’s favorite game -- Guess which ones of these are the names of NFL tight ends and which are corporate villains from the Marvel comics universe:

-- Ifeanyi Momah

-- Cooper Helfet

-- Jake Stoneburner

-- Justice Cunningham

-- Xavier Grimble

-- Crockett Gillmore

-- MyCole Pruitt

-- D.J. Tialavea

No need for an answers button -- they’re all TEs. Football is weird this year.

After their Thanksgiving evening game, Dallas gets to return to Thursday night play next week against the flailing Minnesota Vikings before a 10-day break ahead of their season stretch run. Sunday’s are already miserable enough knowing that the Cowboys are on, but watching them mid-week is even more sickening. That comes as no surprise, however, since the problem is spelled out right in the phrase:

Another Thursday night Dallas Cowboys game
** Cry as the haunting doom gathers, always bold

I’d like to tell you that it’s difficult to spell “haunting doom” with just relevant football letters but honestly that stuff comes up easy every week with the Cowboys.

** Dad and I split picks this week, so he stays at seven down for the year so far. It’s not impossible for him to come back in the final five weeks of the season, but the Eagles may have a better chance of making the playoffs.

** NFL officials said this week they are considering dropping the Thursday night games in future seasons, which means they’re probably instead going to move two games to every Thursday night and only air them on Snapchat.

** I don’t know if we’re looking for additional signs of the apocalypse this year, but longtime-doormat Temple is playing against longtime-independent Navy for a conference championship next weekend...

Week 12 standings

1 -- Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 1563.06 pts
2 -- For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 1476.37 pts
3 -- Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 1451.41 pts
4 -- QBs for Everyone! (Jo), 1438.49 pts
5 -- Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 1409.95 pts
6 -- Not with that Attitude (Sam), 1388.12 pts
7 -- May Pay Attention (Paul), 1322.21 pts
8 -- Who's on First? (Dad), 1311.99 pts
9 -- Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 1294.97 pts
10 -- North Dakota Reaches (me), 1233.53 pts
11 -- Last exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 1149.54 pts
12 -- Yelp for help (Mom Doyle), 1140.13 pts

Only one change in the standings, and it’s Mom dropping back into last place courtesy of LeSean McCoy’s huge fantasy week for Bob’s team. The battle for second place is tightening up, with three teams less than 40 points apart. And it should be noted this is the second time I’ve had the highest point total of the week, even if it just moves me a little closer to 9th…

After a week with no byes, we’re back to several this week, because the NFL hates you. But after this weekend, we’re locked and loaded for the final quarter of the season. Try to contain your excitement.