Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 13 recap

This week’s Eagles/Rams game features for the first time the top two picks of the 2016 NFL draft, QBs Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, squaring off against each other. Both have established themselves as young stars in the league this year, but how do the sophomore signal callers stack up to each other?

— 2017 Stats:
Wentz ~ 3,005 passing yds, 29 TDs, 6 INTs
Goff ~ 3,184 passing yds, 20 TDs, 6 INTs
— Career record:
Wentz ~ 17 wins, 11 losses
Goff ~ 9 wins, 10 losses
— Last name Scrabble score:
Wentz ~ 17 points
Goff ~ 11 points
— Career wins over Dallas:
Wentz ~ 2
Goff ~ 1
— Best name anagram:
Wentz ~ Czars net won
Goff ~ Ref jog fad
— Celebrity look-alike:
Wentz ~ Prince Harry
Goff ~ Ryan Gosling

Pretty even match-up so far, but I’ll happily take Wentz.

QB: Alex Smith, 45.64 pts — started by Bob
WR: Tyreek Hill, 27.81 pts — on Paul’s bench
RB: Alvin Kamara, 24.90 pts — started by Jo
TE: Travis Kelce, 20.27 pts — on Jo’s bench
K: (tie) Greg Zuerlein, 17.00 pts — started by Joel
K: (tie) Justin Tucker, 17.00 pts — started by Bob
DEF: Miami, 40.00 pts — on the wire
D: Eric Weddle, 13.50 pts — on the wire

Dear gawd. The Dolphins defense posted the highest point total for their position this year, with a ridiculous line of 3 pts allowed, three interceptions, two safeties, one TD and one blocked kick. The team was just one end zone sack away from tying the all-time record for safeties in a game, which as you remember happened in the Rams/Giants tilt back in September of 1984.

I have more safety stats, but I’ll spare you for the moment.

“Bad defense” edition

3rd place: Maryland Racial Slurs, -5.00 pts — on the wire
1st place: (tie) Detroit, -6.00 pts — started by Bob
1st place: (tie) Kansas City, -6.00 pts — on Ant’s bench

Good work out there by the Chiefs — they had three players in the top performers and the worst defense in football this week. Both Kansas City and Detroit allowed 38 pts, recorded no turnovers or sacks, and lost badly.

It’s worth noting that Detroit also boasted the worst position player of the week: backup QB Jake Ruddock, who scored -1.04 pts. And it’s also worth noting that team can still get a wild card berth. Football is weird.

** Before Thursday night’s football game, longtime NFL coach Tony Dungy offered incredible insight into what the Cowboys would need to do to win:

“They have to run, but when they have to throw, it has to be Dak Prescott making plays, and with his feet.”

So, he had to run then. Or throw with his feet. Either way, good advice.

** Dungy followed up that gem with this analysis of how you win a “must-win” game:

“You destroy all obstacles to winning. You play all your guys. It doesn’t matter who is hurt. You play like you can’t afford a setback.”

So, you play injured players? That doesn’t seem like a great plan.

** The Washington Post in Tuesday’s paper had a list of the top 10 bowl games to watch this December/January. The top two picks were the college football playoff games. That’s for the tip, Captian Obvious. I wasn’t sure if watching the 1-4 matchup and the 2-3 contest would be better than watching the 88th-ranked Temple Owls take on the 76th-ranked Florida International University Panthers would be a better contest. Now I know.

Speaking of bowls, it’s bowl season again, where we bask in the glory that is the fifth-ranked team from Conference USA playing against the fourth-ranked team from the AAC (not the ACC, that’s different) to answer the question of which 7-5 team is the best at post-exams football. There are 41 bowl games this season, of which I expect to watch fewer than two.

But how well do you know the history and pageantry of the tradition? Pick which of the games below are real bowls, and which are just figments of my imagination.

-- The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, named for a TV company

-- The Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl, named for a juice company

-- The Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, named for a lawn equipment company

-- The Quick Lane Bowl, named for an oil change company

-- The Idaho Potato Bowl, named for a potato

-- The Dollar General Bowl, named for a dollar store

No need to look for a answer key: They’re all real bowl games. Temple and FIU are playing in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, in fact. I bet both teams can’t wait to bring that golden weedwacker trophy home.

The Cowboys this week managed to stop their three game slide (and prevent the Eagles from cliniching the NFC East title) thanks to turning former Maryland Racial Slurs RB Alfred Morris into a Maryland Racial Slurs killer. He rushed for more than 100 yds for the first time since he left the East Coast team, and scored twice in a rout of the third-place losers. When Morris left the Slurs, it came as a shock to see him in a rival uniform. But, given his name, maybe it shouldn’t have been. Consider:

Cowboys running back Alfred Morris
** My crown burns, ribs clank. I fear good.

So much evil his head is on fire? Sounds like a true Dallas player to me.

** Dad falls two more games behind this week, leaving him down nine with just four weeks left in the season. In his defense, I’ve gone 27-5 over the last two weeks, so it’s tough to keep up with that kind of pace. For the season I’m above 66 percent correct in my picks.

** I didn’t know that Ohio State football and the Eagles could both lose on the same day, given that they never play at the same time. But apparently Sunday was that day.

** The Bears lost to the 49ers 15-14 on Sunday. San Franciso failed to score a single TD in the game, but won thanks to a 5-5 FG performance from their kicker. And who is that kicker? Thirteen-year vet Robbie Gould, who is the all-time leading scorer in Bears history but was cut for the team after the 2015 season. Since then he is 36 for 38 on FG attempts, including six field goals across two wins over the Bears.

I guess what I’m saying is that karma is cruel.

Week 13 standings

1 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome), 1622.10 pts
2 — Animal Crackers (Mom D), 1501.80 pts
3 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 1473.05 pts
4 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 1454.94 pts
5 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 1416.41 pts
6 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo), 1405.81 pts
7 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 1383.91 pts
8 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 1353.03 pts
9 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 1233.59 pts
10 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul), 1206.61 pts
11 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 1155.50 pts
12 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 1150.31 pts

Ooof — I was the second worst team this week, but luckily it was a good week to be bad. Joanna, the top scorer on the week, barely topped 121 pts. Mom D made up a few points on my lead but not much. With four weeks left, my lead still feels generous.

Much tighter is the race for last place. A miserable week from Jeff brought him within five points of the basement, giving Bob a chance to climb back into some level of respectability in the waning moments of the season.

Big game on Thursday night this week — Saints vs Falcons, with lots of legit fantasy players — so check your rosters early and often.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 12 recap

If the Maryland Racial Slurs beat the Dallas Cowboys next Thursday night, it’ll clinch the NFC East title for the Philadelphia Eagles BEFORE THE CALENDAR HITS DECEMBER. And that begs the question: What will the Eagles do if their playoff ticket is punched that early? Here are a few things that may top their priority list:

** Get all their Christmas shopping done early on their two-game West Coast trip.
** Catch up on their reading, so Doug Pederson isn’t upset that everyone is behind at the next book club meeting.
** Try out more kickers, just in case.
** Use the extra time to send thank you/Christmas cards to Dak Prescott for all his generosity (turnovers) this season.
** Start that project to clone Carson Wentz for future generations.
** Go ahead and lock down that #1 overall seed through the NFC playoffs.

QB: Ben Roethlisberger, 38.54 pts — started by Jeff
WR: Julio Jones, 36.37 pts — started by Paul
RB: Alvin Kamara, 30.43 pts — started by Joanna
TE: Rob Gronkowski, 19.97 pts — started by Dad
K: Greg Zuerlein, 18.00 pts — started by Joel
DEF: Chargers, 22.00 pts — on the waiver wire
D: Reshad Jones, 12.50 pts — started by Mom D

Ahhhhhhhhhhh so close.

Huge weeks from the top performers — first time all year the top QB, RB and WR all topped 30 pts. Roethlisberger scored 70.36 pts in the first five weeks of this season. In the last two, he totaled 78.5 pts. Better late than never, I guess.

Not on the list: TE Zach Ertz (17.87 pts) who became the first 100-yard receiver for the Eagles this season, with 10 catches for 103 yds on Sunday. He’s third among tight ends in all of football in yards and catches and second in TD receptions. Not bad for someone who was drafted by Chip Kelly.

“Tending downward” edition

3rd place: Nick Foles, -1.46 pts — on the wire
2nd place: Jaydon Mickens, -1.72 pts — on the wire
1st place: Chris Ivory, -2.60 pts — on Mom’s bench

Don’t look now, but Foles has the inside track on the title of worst fantasy player for the year. Sunday was his third appearance with negative fantasy points, and his -2.36 pts for the season leads (trails?) everyone in the league. It is worth noting that his team is 10-1.

Not on the list this week: Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (3.16 pts, 31st among QBs for the weekend), Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky (3.08 pts, 32nd among QBs), and Giants QB Eli Manning (2.42 pts, 33rd among QBs). Remember, only 32 QBs started games this week...

** During the Pittsburgh/Miami game, the ABC broadcast crew flashed up a list of NFL Hall of Fame members who played for the Panthers football team. When play-by-play announcer Bob Wischusen read off the names, he stopped at QB Dan Marino to remark, “Quite possibly the best quarterback in NFL history.”

Aren’t we over this now? I’m not going to take the ridiculous position that Marino was no good, but is there anyone who thinks he was the best? Fewer passing yards than Peyton Manning. Fewer passing TDs than Drew Brees. Fewer wins than Brett Farve. Fewer Super Bowl victories than Tom Brady. And Joe Montana. And John Elway. And Trent Dilfer.

It’s not 1992 anymore. No one thinks Dan Marino is the best QB in NFL history. Stop saying it.

** Fox college football coverage all season has been airing the slogan: “Every game means everything.” Which is weird, because I thought Oregon’s 60-point blowout in the season finale on Saturday was utterly meaningless.

** Sign at the University of Central Florida/University of South Florida football game on Friday: “UCF is bad.”

That USF tuition money is really paying dividends.

Bad news: No one can win the Super Bowl this year. Consider:

The Eagles lost to the Chiefs.
The Chiefs lost to the Steelers.
The Steelers lost to the Jaguars.
The Jaguars lost to the Titans.
The Titans lost to the Raiders.
The Raiders lost to the Broncos.
The Broncos lost to the Giants.
The Giants lost to the 49ers.
The 49ers lost to the Seahawks.
The Seahawks lost to the Packers.
The Packers lost to the Saints.
The Saints lost to the Vikings.
The Vikings lost to the Lions.
The Lions lost to the Falcons.
The Falcons lost to the Bills.
The Bills lost to the Bengals.
The Bengals lost to the Ravens.
The Ravens lost to the Bears.
The Bears lost to the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers lost to the Cardinals.
The Cardinals lost to the Texans.
The Texans lost to the Colts.
The Colts lost to the Rams.
The Rams lost to the Redskins.
The Redskins lost to the Cowboys.
The Cowboys lost to the Chargers.
The Chargers lost to the Dolphins.
The Dolphins lost to the Jets.
The Jets lost to the Patriots.
The Patriots lost to the Panthers.
The Panthers lost to the Eagles.
And the Browns have lost all 12 games they have played this year.

So, I guess the big game is cancelled. Better luck next year.

(Yes that is all 32 teams. Go ahead and count).

Did we mention just how bad the Cowboys looked on Thanksgiving Day? It was their third consecutive game scoring under 10 pts. QB Dak Prescott had his third straight game without a TD, against eight turnovers in that span. And it was the team’s third straight loss by at least 20 pts. Of course, none of this should have been a surprise to savvy anagram experts like yourselves:

Dallas Cowboys yearly Thanksgiving contest
** TV analysed swill, snotty cyborgs choke again

As much as I love watching Dallas lose, it was swill to watch that game.

** I went 2-1 against Dad over the weekend, pushing my lead in the yearly standings to seven with five weeks left. Like the Cowboys, math is working against him catching up to champs up top in the standings.

** The Eagles look great, the Sixers are on a tear and the Flyers … (checks the paper) have lost four of their last five in overtime (the other one in regulation) and are in last place. So, two out of three ain’t bad.

** Big news: If the Buckeye get a win on Saturday night in the Big Ten championship game, college football rankings will still be dumb and nonsensical.

** This blog's position on Eli Manning and his dopey face is pretty clear. That said, the coaching staff's decision today to bench him for next week's game against the Raiders (ending his streak of 210 consecutive starts for the Giants) to see what flameout QB Geno Smith has to offer the 2-9 team is among the cruelest, dumbest things I've ever seen an NFL team do.

All this is prelude to the Broncos acquiring another Manning in the offseason and somehow winning the 2019 Super Bowl with him, which makes me ill just thinking about it.

Week 12 standings

1 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome), 1530.89 pts
2 — Animal Crackers (Mom D), 1393.62 pts
3 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 1377.13 pts
4 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel) 1347.97 pts
5 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 1306.84 pts
6 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo), 1284.13 pts
7 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 1264.13 pts
8 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 1238.76 pts
9 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 1126.36 pts
10 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul), 1102.92 pts
11 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 1078.75 pts
12 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 1044.87 pts

Mom and Ant leapfrog Joel after his crappy starting QB (Dak Prescott) disappoints again. Paul posts a 160-pts week to pull himself out of the cellar, and Joanna jumps back up in the standings after an impressive 140-pts week of her own.

And none of you really cut into my lead atop the standings.

I’ve got five weeks left to protect a more than 130-pts lead, so I’ll gladly take more Zach Etrz TDs as the calendar turns to December. Remember to watch the Eagles win the NFC East on Thursday night (even though they aren’t playing) and set your rosters for the stretch run.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 11 recap

Here’s who can win the NFC East:

** If the Eagles win three more games, the Eagles win the NFC East.
** If the Eagles win their next two games, and Dallas loses one game, the Eagles win the NFC East.
** If the Eagles lose their next five games, and Dallas wins their next five, then the NFC East winner will be the winner of the final Eagles/Cowboys game of the season.
** If the Eagles lose their next six games and the Cowboys lose at least two of their final six games and the Maryland Racial Slurs win all six of their remaining contests, they’ll win the NFC East.
** If the NFL commissioner disbands the Eagles, Cowboys and Maryland Racial Slurs, then the Giants can win the NFC East.

QB: Ben Roethlisberger, 36.96 pts — started by Jeff
WR: Antonio Brown, 33.06 pts — started by Jim
RB: LeSean McCoy, 28.90 pts — started by me
TE: Ricky Seals-Jones, 17.60 pts — on the wire
K: Stephen Gostkowski, 20.00 pts — started by Mom D
DEF: Baltimore, 31.00 pts — started by Sam
D: Budda Baker, 14.00 pts — on the wire

So close … I had the second-ranked defensive player of the week (Telvin Smith, 12.00 pts) and no one has ever heard of Ricky Seals-Jones before this moment. So maybe we weren’t that close.

Great week for defenses — Five teams posted scores of 20 pts or higher, including those victorious Eagles (24.00 pts). On the other end, three defenses scored less than zero pts: Buffalo at -5.00 (started by Paul), Tennessee at -3.00 (started by Jim) and Dallas at -1.00 (started by no one because you all have common sense).

“Worst QBs ever” edition

3rd place: Landry Jones, -0.30 pts — on the wire
2nd place: Dak Prescott, -1.20 pts — started by Joel
1st place: Nathan Peterman, -6.96 pts — on the wire

Let’s get past the normal pleasantries and note that you had a better QB rating on Sunday than all three of these guys.

Prescott had easily the worst performance of his career, turning the ball over four times and failing to find the end zone in 55 minutes of playing time (he was actually benched with the game out of hand for the last series). Pundits for the last year have been saying that Prescott was the steal of the 2016 draft where he went in the fourth rounds and Eagles QB Carson Wentz went in the second spot. But Prescott suddenly doesn’t look so good with an injury to his top offensive lineman. Meanwhile, since Eagles all-Pro lineman Jason Peters went down for the season, Wentz has thrown 12 TDs and 2 INTs. So much for excuses.

As awful as Prescott’s work was on Sunday, Buffalo QB Peterman was worse. He completed six passes for 66 yards and threw five INTs for 84 yds (one going for a TD). His QB rating for the Bills was 17.9. His QB rating for the Chargers — you know, the team he was playing against — was 41.1. And he only played one half. If the Bills had left him in the whole game, he could have challenged the NFL record of eight picks in a single game (held by Jim Hardy, in a Chicago Cardinals loss to the Philadelphia Eagles). But sadly, they took him out of the game at the half and threw him into the garbage bin out back.

** On Sunday, with the score tied 9-9 in overtime in the game between the Chiefs and Giants, Eli Manning completed a long pass inside the five yard line to set up a sure field goal. Kansas City radio broadcaster Mitch Holtus asked his fellow announcer whether the team should consider letting the Giants score a TD quickly, to leave time on the clock for the Chargers to even the score.

“Um, no,” said color analyst Ken Gammon. “It’s overtime. The game would be over then.”

“Oh, yeah,” Holtus said. “Let’s not do that then.”

Absent that strategic insight, the Chiefs watched helplessly as the Giants kicked the winning field goal moments later.

** Here was NFL.com’s “What to watch for” leading into Monday night’s football game:

— “A decimated Legion of Boom,” referencing the number of hurt Seahawks defensive players.
— “Atlanta's without Devonta Freeman” who was also injured.
— “Last year’s 27-24 Seattle win” which featured late scores by two players who are no longer with the Seahawks.

Sounds more like a “what you won’t see” preview.

** Headline in the Fort Worth Star Telegram Monday morning: “For second consecutive week, some birds embarrass Cowboys.”

Alternate headline: “NFL best Eagles defeat one of those overrated Texas football teams.”

With Thanksgiving around the corner, here’s what a few of the league’s teams are thankful for this year:

** Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, obviously
** New England Patriots: That the league still hasn’t found that camera in the visiting coach’s office
** Dallas Cowboys: That Ezekiel Elliott started serving his suspension, so their 2018 season isn’t lost
** New Jersey Giants: That you don’t need a TD to win a game
** New Jersey Jets: That the Giants are so bad, no one notices their crappy season
** Jacksonville Jaguars: Honestly, they’re more stunned than thankful that their team is in first place.
** Cleveland Browns: That they didn’t pass up the chance to draft Wentz … oh, wait …

Lost in the fun of the Eagles win over the Cowboys Sunday was the injury to kicker Jake Elliott, who replaced Caleb Sturgis earlier this year. Dallas had a similar situation — longtime kicker Dan Bailey was injured a few weeks back, so the team brought in Mike Nugent, who scored all the Cowboys’ points on Sunday. But did you know he’s also a horrible human being? Consider:

Dallas replacement kicker Mike Nugent
** Meet a killer dingus, a Mr. “tackle pen-neck”

Yes, I could have made that a pen-neck dingus, but then it would have said he was a killer tackle, which goes against what we’re trying to do here.

** Dad and I split again in our picks this week. I’m getting good at playing him to a standstill. With six weeks left, he’s down six games, and I’m picking at nearly a 63 percent rate for the season. That’s better than eight of ESPN’s 10 NFL expert pickers so far this season. And yet somehow they still have not called.

** Delaware was screwed over in the FCS playoffs, when the selection committee decided to invite a weaker New Hampshire team from the CAA instead of the Blue Hens. Of course, this probably wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t get crushed by rival Villanova on Saturday. But when the New Hampshire athletic director sits on the selection board, it raises some questions.

** No team that has ever started the season 9-1 has failed to make the post-season. None. Zero. Zilch.

** Good news! The bye weeks are finally done.
Bad news! Six teams play on Thursday, so you’re roster is going to be all messed up anyways.

Week 11 standings

1 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome), 1396.29 pts
2 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 1261.01 pts
3 — Animal Crackers (Mom D), 1257.95 pts
4 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 1257.21 pts
5 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 1217.89 pts
6 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 1163.82 pts
7 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 1146.35 pts
8 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo), 1143.85 pts
9 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 1026.01 pts
10 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 974.36 pts
11 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul), 942.69 pts
12 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 927.77 pts

Just call me Jay Ajayi, because I’m running away from the rest of the competition.

This marks my fourth 140-plus-pts showing in the last six weeks, and my 169 pts this time are the second-highest total of any week this year (behind my 172-pts performance in week 8). And the worst part is I left 25 pts on my bench, so it could have been worse. I have a comfortable 135-pts lead over second place with six weeks left to play, and I have already begun dusting off the spot on the Awesome Cup trophy where my name will go again.

The battle for second place (also known as first loser) is heating up, with less than four pts separating Joel, Mom D and Ant. Sam continues to climb from the cellar into contention. Joanna’s strategy of starting a bunch of injured and bye players failed to help advance her cause. And Dad, the league leader in waiver wire moves, seems stuck right in the middle no matter what.

Just six more weeks to glory, folks. Don’t let the cold weather freeze your coaching skills.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 10 recap

As the Eagles prepare to take on their most-hated rivals in a pivotal contest next Sunday, now is a good time to remind yourself that Dallas is at the center of everything that is wrong with the NFL and the country. Consider:

** Over litigation: Dallas spent most of this season fighting an inevitable six-game suspension for RB Ezekiel Elliott. This week, owner Jerry Jones threatened to sue … someone … to stop Roger Goodell’s contract from being renewed.

** Drug abuse: Three Cowboys served substance-abuse related suspensions this year, including a 16-game ban for DE Randy Gregory, the team’s second-round pick in 2015.

** Censorship: True, the flag kneeling controversy didn’t start in Dallas, but Jones was the first owner to announce he would bench any player caught taking part in the “disrespectful” protest. For the record, Jones’ team recognized local servicemembers in a 2012 ceremony … only after the Defense Department paid them $62K.

** Thursday Night Football: The Detroit Lions had the monopoly on Thanksgiving games for more than two decades before Dallas decided to co-opt them. And when that didn’t fail, the NFL turned to playing every Thursday night. Clearly it’s their fault.

** Unrest in the Middle East: I haven’t quite figured out how it’s their fault yet, but I know Dak Prescott hasn’t helped fix the situation at all.

Remember, rooting against the Cowboys in football doesn’t make you a better American. It just makes you a better person.

QB: Cam Newton, 43.66 pts — on Mike’s bench
WR: Robert Woods, 27.40 pts — on Bob’s bench
RB: Mark Ingram, 31.10 pts — started by Sam
TE: Jimmy Graham, 16.80 pts — started by Ant
K: Greg Zuerlein, 17.00 pts — started by Joel
DEF: Atlanta, 18.00 pts — on the wire
D: Adrian Clayborn, 21.00 pts — on the wire

There’s a first time for everything: I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an individual defensive player outscore the top defense of the week (which happens to be his own team). But when you record six sacks and two fumbles against the Dallas offense, you get that honor. And we are all honored for having watched your beat-down of the Cowboys, Mr. Clayborn.

I had a nice Case Keenum joke here (32.56 pts, second-best QB of the week) until Newton tore up on Monday night and passed him on the scoring chart, so now that’s lost to the ages. It’s a shame. Football is a poorer place for having one less Case Keenum joke.

“Bad defense” edition

3rd place: Maryland Slurs, -2.00 pts — on the wire
2nd place: Buffalo, -4.00 pts — started by Paul
1st place: Denver, -5.00 pts — on the wire

The Broncos, considered one of the top defenses in the league, have given up 115 points over the last three weeks and totaled a whopping 5.00 fantasy pts over that stretch. The team has also lost five in a row. But they did whup Dallas in week 2, so we still love them.

Special shout-out to Bob, who started four players on a bye and one on injured reserve this week, and managed a league-record low 39.57 pts. If he has started Woods, the top WR this week, he would have almost doubled that total. But we’re still not counting almosts in the league.

All of the dumbest, saddest things I read this week came from the Washington Post’s game recap of Maryland’s 35-10 loss to Michigan. Consider:

** (Maryland Coach DJ Durkin) was forced to build his game plan around redshirt sophomore Ryan Brand, a walk-on who started the season as the fifth-string quarterback…”
“Let’s just call it like it is,” Durkin said. “No disrespect to [Brand], but I mean, we started a fifth-string quarterback today.”

I dunno, even if it’s accurate, that sounds pretty disrespectful to the kid.

** Peters, the third Michigan quarterback to start this season — Maryland is the only other Power Five program to start that many — completed only nine of 18 passes for 145 yards, but that was more than enough even though the Wolverines gained just 94 yards in the second half.

Oh, so the team that beat you soundly was on their third-string QB? That seems to undercut your excuse for why your backup lost you the game.

** In its past six games against conference opponents ranked by the Associated Press, Maryland has lost by an average of 38 points and was outscored by a combined 191-13 in the first half of those games.

Oh dear gawd.

** Brand led an 85-yard drive to the Michigan 2-yard line, but it stalled when his third-down pass intended for Moore fell incomplete. Instead of going for it with his team trailing 28-0, Durkin opted to send in the field goal unit.
After Henry Darmstadter’s 20-yard kick sailed through the uprights to get Maryland on the board, fireworks shot into the sky and the pro-Michigan crowd cheered the goal-line stand.

Pretty sure I would have shelved the fireworks there, kids.

Saddest items for sale at NFL.com this week:

** Cleveland Browns Sterling Silver Logo Lapel Pin ($50)
A Browns pin is bad enough, but since this item is in silver, you’ll also have to explain to people that it’s not just a plain football helmet.

** Authentic Super Bowl LII Frame ($200)
That’s it. It’s just a frame with the Super Bowl logo at the bottom. And somehow it costs $200. Thanks, NFL.

** Bortles/Lee autographed football ($100)
This collectible, signed by two not-stars of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is marked down from $200, so it’s … still overpriced.

** Jets Two-Way Fidget Spinner ($3)
There are three different Jets fidget spinners for sale, but this is the only one that costs more in shipping ($5) than in actual price.

** Super Bowl MVP autographed helmet ($12,000)
This helmet has the autographs of every Super Bowl MVP, and costs as much as a small family sedan. For $12K, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice will probably just come hang out at your house for an afternoon instead.

Since the Eagles had the bye week, the Cowboys insult anagram gets a week off too. Instead, we’ll just look at what the good guys are doing after their mid-season vacation:

Welcome back the Eagles from their bye
** Lamer grief — Beat the cowboys, heckle ‘em

That seems forced, and we’re not talking about the Cowboys getting beat right now. Let’s roll again:

Eagles coming back from their bye week rested
** Reeler: Kings beat the grim-faced, meek cowboys

I guess they had Dallas on their mind the whole week. One more try?

Bye-week is over, Eagles are back on the field
** Line heave: Birds eat cowboy fakers, eke glee

That’ll do, guys. Welcome back to the fun.

** Dad and I split our two games different for the week, so he remains six games back with seven weeks to go. But he gets an extra pat on the back for picking the Falcons to beat the Cowboys, which was glorious to see.

** I just found out there will be three “Thursday Night Football” games on the weekend of Dec. 14 — one on Thursday and two on Saturday. No, I don’t want to think about that any more, it hurts my head.

** Guys it’s a week later and the Sixers still have a winning record.

Week 10 standings

1 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome), 1227.21 pts
2 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 1184.60 pts
3 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 1127.84 pts
4 — Animal Crackers (Mom D), 1127.15 pts
5 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 1064.07 pts
6 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo), 1059.19 pts
7 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 1057.95 pts
8 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 1043.94 pts
9 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 915.85 pts
10 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 878.49 pts
11 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul), 868.02 pts
12 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 822.40 pts

A huge week by Sam jumps him back up into interesting territory, and a mediocre week by me keeps everything within reach. The gap between first and fourth is about 100 pts, but the gap between third and eighth is only 84 more pts.

And it could be a struggle for any team to break 2,000 pts, long established as the mark to contend for the Awesome Cup. Right now, only Joel and I are on pace to pass that total, and neither of us until week 17 finishes..

All of that is to say a few good weeks could turn the entire championship chase around. Remember to set those rosters, and not start people on injured reserve.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 9 recap

There are a lot of questions about the long-term plans for new Eagles RB Jay Ajayi, but here are a few facts we know for sure about him:

— He rushed for 1,272 yards in 2016, his first full season of steady work.
— He averaged 3.4 yards a carry behind a depleted Dolphins offensive line this year.
— After not scoring a TD in his last seven Dolphins games, he has scored one out of every eight touches for the Eagles.
— The Eagles have scored more than 50 points in every game since trading for him.
— Ajayi’s arrival in Philadelphia has created significant problems with the team’s fireworks supplies.

Not a bad start. Now he just has to repeat it every time he takes the field.

QB: Jared Goff, 36.44 pts — on Jim’s bench
WR: T.Y. Hilton, 26.17 pts — started by Bob
RB: Alvin Kamara, 25.40 pts — started by Jo
TE: Julius Thomas, 14.60 pts — on the wire
K: Greg Zuerlein, 17.00 pts — started by Joel
DEF: New Orleans, 21.00 pts — on the wire
D: Bobby Wagner, 13.50 pts — started by Mom D

The Eagles scored 51 pts and didn’t manage a single player in the top fantasy scorers of the week (RB Corey Clement was close, at 24.60 pts). That’s because the LA Rams also posted 51 pts on Sunday, and had the top QB and K scorers of the week.

But, for the season, the top fantasy scorer in all of the NFL remains QB Carson Wentz, who is almost 15 pts ahead of Kansas City QB Alex Smith. RB Todd Gurley is the top RB, the 11th highest scorer. WR DeAndre Hopkins is the top wideout, and the 29th best player on the board. We can stop with the “wide receivers are great fantasy players” thing now, right?

“Name you know” edition

3rd place: Willie Snead, -1.50 pts — on the wire
2nd place: Jonathan Stewart, -1.90 pts — on Jo’s bench
1st place: New York Giants, -6.00 pts — on the wire

Fun fact: When your defense gives up 51 pts and records no sacks or turnovers, it’s a sign you’re not very good.

By the way, this is the second week in a row that Eagles QB Nick Foles was just on the edges of the worst performers. His fumble on Sunday gave him -0.70 pts for the day and -0.90 pts on the year, worst among all players. And yet the Eagles are 23-9 with him in uniform.

** In the first quarter of the Eagles game, Broncos RB CJ Anderson went down with an injury. When the Eagles came back from a short commercial, Philly play-by-play legend Merrill Reese said somberly the injury could be serious.

Color commentator Mike Quick offered his normally appropriate response: “Yeah, that could be the Herr’s Crunch of the Game!”

** From NFL.com on Monday:

Headline — The Cowboys are truely America’s team
Story lede — The Cowboys' star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown Sunday, just two days after a legal victory in a federal appeals court allowed him to play.

America! Winning thanks to questionable legal victories!

** ESPN commentator Jon Gruden, in the third quarter of Monday night’s Packers/Lions game, commenting on a nice pass by QB Matt Stafford:

“He threw that ball right between the corner and the safety. Unbelievable. I call that the turkey hole. Don’t ask me why.”

I was not going to ask.

The Eagles don’t play next week, but there is still plenty of exciting football to watch, including what might be the game of the year: The 1-7 Giants travel to the 0-9 Niners. Consider the potential ramifications:

— If the Niners don’t win, they’ll have a legit chance at finishing 0-16 this year. Four of their final six games are against teams with winning records.
— Despite having a better record, the Giants are actually one-point underdogs in this match-up. Having a 0-9 team favored in a contest against them has to be one of the lowest points in franchise history.
— Whichever team loses, they still might not get the #1 draft pick next spring. The Cleveland Browns are also still winless, with a chance of 0-16.
— In a just world, this could be the last win of Eli Manning’s career. He’s widely expected to step aside next season … or be tossed out the window, given how bad the team has been this year.
— NFL officials have not yet announced it, but if the game ends in a tie, both teams will be required to fight to the death to determine a loser. Not a winner. Just a loser.

Some weeks it is hard to define what makes a Cowboys player particularly evil. Other weeks, they present all the evidence themselves. Consider Dallas linebacker Damien Wilson:

LB Damien Wilson
** I am slow in blend
** I am news blind, lo
** I am swollen bind
** I am ill bond sewn
** I am no-wind bells
** I am lewd snob, nil
** I am blown-led sin

At least he is confident in what he is.

** Dad’s misplaced faith the 49ers cost him another tally in our weekly picks. He’s now down six games at the season’s halfway mark. And, unlike the Eagles, he doesn’t get a bye next week.

** I don’t want to alarm anyone, but we’re almost a full month into the NBA season and the Sixers don’t have a losing record.

** On Sunday, WR AJ Green grabbed CB Jalen Ramsey in a headlock, threw him to the ground and punched him twice in the face. He was ejected from the game. On Monday, league officials announced he would not receive any additional suspension for the act.

So, lesson learned. Feel free to punch opponents next week.

** Rest in peace, Roy Halladay. And thanks for all the fun.

Week 9 standings

1 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome), 1128.28 pts
2 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 1071.39 pts
3 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 1030.28 pts
4 — Animal Crackers (Mom D), 1008.24 pts
5 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo), 954.29 pts
6 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 952.89 pts
7 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 938.21 pts
8 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 923.49 pts
9 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 836.58 pts
10 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 782.83 pts
11 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 777.78 pts
12 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul), 775.73 pts

At the halfway point of the season, the team that Yahoo predicted would finish 10th is currently in first place. Take that, second-rate search engine company predictors.

Big week for Joanna and Mike, who both moved up the charts this week. Mom Doyle was this close to hopping over Anthony into medal position, but will have to wait for the return of Tom Brady to her squad next week to do that.

And Paul posted our first sub-50 pts week of the year, thanks to starting five players on a bye and two more who scored zero points. So, there’s that.

Eight weeks left to try and jump up to the top spot. Remember to get those Eagles out of your lineup for one week, to rest them for the Dallas game.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 8 recap

At the halfway point in the season, there’s a pretty clear pick for MVP. And it should be no surprise that it’s the QB for the best team in football.

It’s not rocket science. He’s done everything this team has asked of him. He’s been a steady leader who doesn’t get into trouble, doesn’t make everything about himself, and just keeps winning. And winning. And winning.

It’s not an exaggeration to say he hasn’t made a single mistake on the field this year. When he is in the game, you know a victory is coming. It’s certain. And you can see the team sees it too. That kind of calming leadership is rare in the league these days, especially with a significant lack of quality QB play on many other teams.

True, there is still a half season to go. But especially after his performance on Sunday, I feel like it’s time to acknowledge the greatness that we’re seeing on the Eagles sidelines every week.

That’s why the first half MVP award goes to backup Eagles QB Nick Foles, who saw his first game action this week and nobly handed off the ball seven times on Sunday to help seal the victory over the Niners. His dedication to the craft is inspiring, and his work this year has been flawless. It’s worth noting the Eagles are 22-8 in the last 30 games he has suited up in a Philadelphia uniform.

Also Carson Wentz is doing a really good job too.

QB: Russell Wilson, 43.08 pts — on my bench
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, 24.93 pts — started by Mom D
RB: Ezekiel Elliott, 25.77 pts — started by Jim
TE: Jack Doyle, 20.07 pts — started by Jim
K: Matt Prater, 18.00 pts — started by Mike
DEF: Baltimore, 34.00 pts — started by Sam
D: Matt Milano, 15.50 pts — on the wire

Don’t cry for me too much. While Wilson had 452 yds passing, 4 TDs and 30 yds rushing, my other QB (DeShaun Watson) had 402 yds passing, 4 TDs and 67 yds rushing (and two more turnovers) for 40.78 pts. So I’m OK starting the wrong QB this week.

Also, there are no Eagles on this list this week. But if the Eagles go 4-4 in the second half of the season, they'll finish 11-5. Since the playoff expanded to 12 teams, no team has ever gotten 11 wins and missed the post-season.

(Edit: Eric just noted that the 2008 Patriots went 11-5 and missed the playoffs. But nobody likes Eric.)

“Kinda boring” edition

3rd place: Jeremy Kerley, -0.91 pts — on the wire
2nd place: Oakland, -1.00 pts — on the wire
1st place: Houston, -2.00 pts — started by Bob

Fun fact: Houston gave up 35 pts this week and was worth negative pts. Seattle, the team they played, gave up 38 but was worth 11 pts, thanks to a return TD. Fantasy football is a cruel mistress.

** In case you missed it, the early game on Sunday was “A special Sunday edition of Thursday Night Football, from London.” So it was a Thursday football game we watched on a Sunday morning, but played Sunday night. Unless you watched it on tape delay.

** The first official set of college football playoff rankings came out on Tuesday. Related, the entire college football playoff system is dumb and should be nuked.

** As Joanna pointed out to me, the Fox announcers during Sunday’s football games kept saying that the World Series would be on later that evening “right here where your dial is set.” It’s possible they were talking about the 1984 World Series, in which case the TV dial reference would have made sense, but not so much for 2017.

In honor of All Hallows' Eve tonight, here’s a look at the scariest facts for some of the supposed championship contenders in the NFL:

** Atlanta Falcons: The team is 4-3 … and won by less than a TD each against the Lions, Jets and Bears. Oh my. They easily could be 1-6.

** New England Patriots: The team is 6-2 … and giving up more yards per game than anyone in football. Their offense collects 16 yds a game less than their defense surrenders each week.

** Pittsburgh Steelers: The team is 6-2 … and their QB is the 25th rated passer in the league. He has zero games with three TDs this year and one game with five INTs.

** Seattle Seahawks: The team is 5-2 … and rushed for 33 yards on 21 carries this week. Take away one 21-yrd QB scramble, and they rushed 20 times for 12 yds.

** Jacksonville Jaguars: The team is 4-3 … and in first place. That’s a horrifying indictment against the AFC South and football as a whole.

Dallas managed to escape with another victory on Sunday, much to the delight of their younger players, who are learning how to feast on the misery of others to sustain their dark souls. Take, for example, the Cowboy’s second-round pick this year, who had to be benched this week because of adjustment problems to the pro game. After the victory against the Maryland Racial Slurs, the extent of his confusion because clear as his name unraveled across headlines:

Dallas Rookie Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie
** Us win? I be a crackhead doll. I be a zero crook.

That much evil can make it seem like your brain is on drugs, kids.

Also, all the drugs in the Dallas facility doesn’t help either.

** Dad and I split our picks again this week. After picking Oakland to lose last week (they won), I picked them to win this week (they lost). Stupid Raiders. But I’m still five games ahead of Dad, and at 73-46 for the year so far (61 percent), I’m not doing too bad.

** The Phillies hired Dodgers assistant coach Gabe Kapler as their new manager this week. He’s a heavy analytics guy who once forced the Dodgers minor-league system to switch to only organic food. I expect he’ll be beaten to death by Larry Andersen before next July.

** O-H-I-O. Just saying.

** We’ll deal with that giant Eagles trade next week. I can’t handle it right now.

Week 8 standings

1 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome), 1017.39 pts
2 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 959.99 pts
3 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 929.53 pts
4 — Animal Crackers (Mom D), 871.80 pts
5 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 867.92 pts
6 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 834.98 pts
7 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo), 827.01 pts
8 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 787.74 pts
9 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 770.91 pts
10 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul), 729.49 pts
11 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 713.13 pts
12 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 691.77 pts

Now we’re talking.

My squad’s huge week — 172.76 pts, the biggest single week of the season so far — made them the first fantasy team over the 1,000-pts barrier this year, and put them back in the top spot in the chase for the Awesome Cup. For those of you keeping score at home, I’ve scored more than 310 pts over the last two weeks, or about 45 percent of Bob’s total for the first eight weeks of the season. That’s good coaching, my friends.

One more reminder: The NFL trade deadline is over, but the league’s trade deadline isn’t until Thanksgiving. So if you really want to pry LeGarrette Blount away from me, you still have time to do that.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fantasy league 2017 -- week 7 recap

The Eagles are 6-1, best record in all of football. So let’s take a look at this week’s power rankings from sports writers:

** CBS Sports — Eagles, #1: “Wentz has three straight games with at least three touchdown passes.”
** NFL.com — Eagles, #1: “Wentz's mobility is what gets me. MVP?”
** Bleacher Report — Eagles, #1: “Philadelphia has announced itself to the world as one of the league's top teams.”
** USA Today — Eagles, #1: “Is Wentz ready to lead his franchise on Super Bowl magic carpet ride?”
** Yahoo Sports — Eagles, #1: “There should be as much excitement as possible about Carson Wentz.”
** ESPN — Eagles, #2: “The Patriots, the #1 team in football, are the clear favorites to win their division.”

There’s always that one guy...

QB: Carson Wentz, 39.02 pts — on Ant’s bench
WR: Amari Cooper, 32.36 pts — started by Bob
RB: Ezekiel Elliott, 38.00 pts — started by Jim
TE: O.J. Howard, 21.53 pts — on the wire
K: Kai Forbath, 24.00 pts — on the wire
DEF: Chicago, 33.00 pts — on the wire
D: Eddie Jackson, 18.50 pts — on the wire

Welcome to the top fantasy performers list, Mr. Wentz. That will be the first of many.

How’d your offensive starters do? Bears S Eddie Jackson had interception for a TD and one fumble recovery for a TD, for the highest individual defensive player point total on the week. Only 28 offensive players did better this week. And that includes QBs Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Marcus Mariota, Eli Manning and Cam Newton. In fact, all of those points came directly from Panthers QB Newton, in a 17-3 win for the Bears. So he outscored both his opponent and his own team this week.

“Just sad” edition

3rd place: Tavarres King, -0.23 pts — on the wire
2nd place: Cincinnati, -1.00 pts — on the wire
1st place: San Francisco, -6.00 pts — on the wire

Congrats to the 0-7 Niners, who managed no turnovers, no sacks and allowed 40 points to score the lowest total possible for a defense in their game against the Cowboys. Way not to show up at all.

** Former Braves pitcher John Smoltz, offering color commentary after the final pitch of the ALCS, said the 4-0 victory for Houston was a stunner for him but then added “the Astros holding this Yankees roster to no runs tonight was short of incredible.”

Not “nothing short of incredible.” That would mean it was great. This shutout performance was apparently just “short of incredible,” which I guess means simply OK. But at least they won.

** NFL Red Zone channel host Andrew Siciliano, as always quickly switching between games on Sunday, gave the best update of the weekend:

“In the Bills game, we’re in an injury timeout. Karlos Dansby got hit on the last play, but it doesn’t appear to be too serious … oh, wait, there’s a finger pointing a way it’s not supposed to. Nevermind.”

** ESPN carnival barker Jon Gruden, boliviating during the Eagles’ games Monday night, called the close contest in the first quarter “a fist fight on Broad Street.”

Or maybe he was referring to something else, since Lincoln Financial Field has never been on Broad Street. I’ll give you Pattison Ave, even though that’s across the parking lot. But there is an entire hockey/basketball area between the football field and Broad.

The best team in the league right now? It might be the Injured Reserve Squad (go Fighting Peglegs!). Consider their roster:

QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB1: David Johnson
RB2: Davlin Cook
WR1: Odell Beckham Jr.
WR2: Julian Edelman
TE: Greg Olsen
OT: Joe Thomas
OT: Jason Peters

DE: JJ Watt
DE: Cliff Avril
DT: Haloti Ngata
LB: Tamba Hali
CB: DeAngelo Hall
S: Eric Berry

K: Sebastian Janikowski
KR: Darren Sproles

I’ve got a few gaps in there, but I’m pretty sure I could grab some fill-ins off practice squads and go 8-8 in the AFC South with that talent.

The Cowboys coaching staff made a surprise move before Sunday’s game, promoting third-string QB Cooper Rush to the #2 spot. The shift was largely unimportant — starter Dak Prescott stayed in the whole game — but it left a lot of experts wondering that the change meant. What made him qualified to assume such a potentially important job?

Obviously, it’s clear when you break down his name.

New Dallas backup QB Cooper Rush
** No passer, lewd chub bro, real quack

Yep, he sounds like a qualified Cowboy QB to me.

** Dad and I split our picks this week, leaving me up five in our yearly contest. No, I don’t know why I picked Tampa Bay over the Bills. No, I don’t know how Oakland beat the Chiefs.

** I realized that since the last two Eagles games were prime-time affairs, and I had to stay up until midnight for both, I am in fact tired from all the winning this year. Thanks, Trump.

** Delaware beat FCS powerhouse Richmond 42-35 in double overtime on Saturday, vaulting the team into the top 25 (of FCS) for the first time in three years. It's not too late to order your FCS playoff tickets for December.

Week 7 standings

1 — Gronky Tonk Man (Joel), 879.25 pts
2 — Foles me Wentz (Capt. Awesome), 844.63 pts
3 — For Who? For Wentz? (Ant), 806.76 pts
4 — Animal Crackers (Mom Doyle), 760.16 pts
5 — Foles v. Sproles (Jo), 715.12 pts
6 — ThePigskin Predators (Dad), 713.94 pts
7 — Dat CTE Lyfe (Sam), 710.60 pts
8 — Cosby's Sleepers (Mike), 688.93 pts
9 — Tiny Trump Gloves (Jim), 646.27 pts
10 — SmartyPants on Fire (Paul), 644.25 pts
11 — Last Exit 2 Kutztown (Bob), 636.19 pts
12 — Blue Collar Killers (Jeff), 624.80 pts

Joel holds onto first place, but his days may be numbered up there. At 140-plus-pts week from me tosses me within a solid Carson Wentz game of the top spot, and puts some breathing room between me and Anthony.

The gulf between first and fourth place is about the same as the points difference between fourth and 11th, so all y’all got some catching up to do. Bob and Paul have been working on that, pulling their teams out of the basement and leaving poor Jeff down there for the first time this year.

This week features another Thursday game, another early morning London game, and a mess of byes, so don’t forget to check your rosters early.