Monday, December 29, 2014

Fantasy league 2014 -- week 17 recap

Let’s compare a few QBs:

QB #1 -- 311 attempts, 2,163 yds, 13 TDs, 10 INTs
QB #2 -- 309 attempts, 2,418 yds, 14 TDs, 11 INTs

QB #3 -- 525 attempts, 3,640 yds, 28 TDs, 18 INTs
QB #4 -- 620 attempts, 4,581 yds, 27 TDs, 21 INTs

QB #1 is Nick Foles. QB #2 is Mark Sanchez. They posted scarily similar and depressing stats for an Eagles offense that was supposed to be about explosive scoring and ball control.

QB #4 is Foles and Sanchez combined for the season. QB #3 is Jay Cutler, whose season was widely regarded as an utter failure given all the offensive weapons on the Bears. Turnover machine Eli Manning, for comparison, threw 29 TDs and only 13 INTs this season.

All of which is to say -- if you have a crappy defense, maybe next year don’t give them so many opportunities to fail.

Top performers of the season

3rd place: Peyton Manning, 391.68 pts -- 1st QB drafted (Dad)
2nd place: Aaron Rodgers, 430.64 pts -- 3rd QB drafted (Bobert)
1st place: Andrew Luck, 432.74 pts -- 5th QB drafted (Jim)
The biggest story at QB was the 4th-best fantasy passer on the year: Ben Roethlisberger, the 15th QB selected in our league draft and an afterthought in many others. Nick Foles came in at spot #29.

3rd place: Jordy Nelson, 277.77 pts -- 7th WR drafted (Ant)
2nd place: Demaryius Thomas, 287.93 pts -- 2nd WR (Jeff)
1st place: Antonio Brown, 339.68 pts -- 8th WR drafted (Joel)
Brown posted the second-most catches ever in NFL history (129) and still didn’t come close to Marvin Harrison’s record (143). Crazy, right? There is a wideout record that isn’t held by Jerry Rice.

3rd place: Matt Forte, 321.17 pts -- 3rd RB drafted (Mike)
2nd place: DeMarco Murray, 338.23 pts -- 8th RB drafted (Jeff)
1st place: LeVeon Bell, 343.53 pts -- 14th RB drafted (Joanner)
Bell rushed for 500 fewer yards than Murray but had 25 more catches, 400 more receiving yards and 5 fewer fumbles. And he also has a soul, since he’s not a Cowboy.

3rd place: Antonio Gates, 195.73 pts -- 17th TE drafted (Paul)
2nd place: Jimmy Graham, 202.77 pts -- 1st TE drafted (Sam)
1st place: Rob Gronkowski, 228.93 pts -- 3rd TE drafted (Ant)
This is the second category where I had a 4th place guy (Martellus Bennett here, Marshawn Lynch in RBs) and I almost expanded this recap just to get my name in here more often.

3rd place: Adam Vinatieri, 153.00 pts -- 2nd K drafted (Paul)
2nd place: Cody Parkey, 163.00 pts -- undrafted (Dad)
1st place: Stephen Gostkowski, 170.50 pts -- 1st K drafted (me)
For all the Eagles off-season soul-searching and lamenting, at least they don’t have to worry about finding a new kicker.

3rd place: Houston, 207.00 pts -- 7th DEF drafted (Jeff)
2nd place: Buffalo, 211.00 pts -- undrafted (unowned)
1st place: Philadelphia, 216.00 pts -- undrafted (Ant)
Defenses just killed us this year, so much so that the second-best defense of the season ended up unowned at year’s end. On the plus side, with 11 defensive/return TDs, six blocked kicks and the second-best kicker in the league, the Eagles’ special teams were just spectacular.

3rd place: DeAndre Levy, 74.00 pts -- undrafted (Sam)
2nd place: Justin Houston, 84.00 pts -- undrafted (Joanner)
1st place: JJ Watt, 138.77 pts -- undrafted (Bob)
FYI, I was 4th in this category too (Luke Kuechly). The fact that JJ Watt went undrafted is an indictment of Yahoo’s screwy draft rankings.

Immediate takeaway -- nice work by us. All 11 teams are represented at one of these spots, and no one had more than three of the top players. That’s parity, folks. It’s like we’re playing in the real NFL here.

Worst performers of the year

3rd place: Matt Flynn, -1.86 pts -- on the wire
2nd place: Travis Poole, -2.00 pts -- on the wire
1st place: Matt Schaub, -3.72 pts -- on the wire

Hard to say who should be more embarrassed on this list, Flynn or Schaub (Poole had one rushing attempt all year and fumbled, which is just bad luck). Schaub appeared in just two games this year and threw a pick in each of them, amassing a miserable QB rating of 11.1. Flynn had a season QB rating of three times that -- 34.9 -- but totaled his sad stats of 66 yards passing and two turnovers over the course of seven games for the Packers. It’s hard to be on the field that much and not accidentally do something good just once.

Worst defense of the year honors go to Oakland, who totaled just 73 fantasy pts (4.6 pts per week) and beat out the Maryland Racial Slurs by a single point. They allowed the second-most points in the league and collected the second-fewest sacks, but they were first in the most-sucking category.

The end of a season is always a good time to go back and look at how terrible professional sports analysts are at their jobs.

Sports Illustrated picked the Broncos to beat the Saints in the Super Bowl, which would be an easy task for Denver if they found a way to face the 7-9 homebound New Orleans squad in this year’s championship. SI’s predictions actually missed on four of the six NFC playoff teams, with the Saints, Eagles, Bears and 49ers all missing the post-season.

Fox Sports’ Joel Beall predicted the Packers would beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl, but in the same column named Toby Gerhart the “steal” of this year’s fantasy draft (54th best RB in our league), said Browns WR Jordan Cameron would get 1,200 yards receiving (he had 424) and called Russell Wilson overrated.

ESPN’s consensus pick had the 49ers losing to the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Fifteen of their 16 experts picked the Eagles to win the NFC East. The only one who didn’t was Bill Barnwell, who picked the eventual 4-12 DC squad to win the division. Herm Edwards picked Tampa Bay to make the Super Bowl, which -- now that they finished last in the league -- is as wrong as you can possibly be.

Your guide to watching this year’s NFL playoffs:

** Cardinals at Panthers: See a third-string QB take on a Carolina squad that posted a 1-5-1 record against teams with a winning record. Post-season excitement!
** Ravens at Steelers: A rare playoff rivalry game between two AFC North Division foes. Let the hatred flow through you.
** Bengals at Colts: Which mediocre AFC playoff team can choke faster? It’s been 24 years since Cincinnati saw a playoff win, but they Colts haven’t beaten a decent opponent since October (when they shut out the Bengals).
** Lions at Cowboys: A despicable gray and blue team squares off in Dallas against a despicable gray and blue team.

Bye weeks: Seahawks, Packers, Patriots, Broncos -- three fan bases with recent Super Bowl wins and Petyon Manning and his entourage of fawning fans.

Here’s hoping for a Panthers/Bengals Super Bowl, just because.

Dallas finished its season 12-4 and will host the Lions next week in a home playoff contest, only the second Cowboys playoff game to be held in Jerry Jones new stadium of debauchery. A lot of pundits are picking the NFC East champions to go deep in the playoffs, based on their strong running attack and solid offensive line. But, the linemen themselves may not share the same opinion. Consider OT Jermey Parnell…

Dallas Cowboys Right Offensive Tackle Jermey Parnell
Team jelling? BS. Clever lad errs, playoff choke on its way.

Oh, Jeremey, we hope you’re right. It’s gonna be tough to look ahead to 2015 if it starts with a Dallas playoff win.

Of course, “Dallas starts year 2015” anagrams to “Dallas 2 start 0-15. Yes! Ra!” so maybe we can cling to that for next season.

** I went 3-2 against Dad on the picks this week, not good enough to overcome my four-game deficit in our yearly picks. He finished the season 166-89, correctly predicting 65% of the league’s games. That would put him 7th on ESPN’s panel of 14 football experts. But keep in mind that he gets paid millions less than they do for the exact same insight, and he only needs about five minutes of prep time to compile his picks.

It’s Dad’s third consecutive victory in our regular season picks, a contest so one-sided it could be a Broncos-Raiders game. But until he wins an Awesome Cup, he really can’t claim to know anything about football.

** Speaking of football, there’s still one game left to care about! Don’t forget to watch Ohio State against Alabama in the college football playoff on Thursday. Then, if the Buckeyes lose, you don’t have to watch any more football until August.

** Seriously, fantasy baseball? What the hell are we gonna do for eight months?

The final 2014 standings -- and the awarding of the Awesome Cup -- will take place on Tuesday.


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