Tuesday, September 16, 2014

FCNPFFL: Week 2 Results


(Written by league member Joel)

This is the part of the weekly summary where Jason customarily provides
some insight or distills some trend from the week's action. Well, all I
can say is that team Nikachu is building momentum and will be even
stronger with the first waiver pick I have been awarded for writing this
summary. In other news you are strongly urged to volunteer to do next
week's write-up or Jason will start reallocating next year's draft picks.

This week, prepare yourself for a Thursday NFC South basement battle
between the Bucs rushing attack, led by Josh McCown, and the Falcons
rushing attack, led by no one.

OK, now that I have forgotten the weekend, on to the game summaries:

Ike and Jason battled in the easily the week's best contest, as Aaron
Rodgers returned to 2012 form to bring Ike over 100 points but
unfortunately almost all of it went to Jordy Nelson, who led the
Lunatics with 25 points. Delanie Walker and Dan Bailey combined for 40
points, fully validating Ike's mystical draft strategy. But nothing
could stop the Lunatics, as six players hit double digits. Demarco
Murray and Arian Foster combined for 40 points and survived to week
three of the season without injury, making the Tics a very dangerous
team for at least another week or two when Jason will be scraping the
waiver wire for a health RB.

Final Score: Escaped Lunatics 118, Myra's College Fund 108

In the next highest-scoring game, the Situation and Lollipop Kids took
an interesting contest into Monday night with Andrew Luck and Nick Foles
facing off to decide the contest. But it was another unusually healthy
running back who carried the day for the Situation, as Ahmad Bradshaw
piled on 20 points, scoring two touchdowns and catching a pass for
virtually the first time in his NFL career, and then doing it again! But
the Patriots D was the real star for the Situation, as they humiliated
the Vikings no-name offense (who is playing them this week?).

Final Score: Situation 98, Lollipops 68

My team the mighty Nikachu responded well this week after I dropped Ray
Rice following another embarrassingly clumsy adjudication by Roger
Goodell. Rice joined Josh Gordon and Matt Prater on the Nikachu cut
list, finally ridding my team of evil-doers and keeping me on track to
again drop my entire roster by midseason. This week's matchup with
Hume's Bookoo Barbarians looked dead even on paper: one mediocre QB, one
good RB, one bad one, one Bears receiver, a bunch of other dudes. But
Hume got unlucky as Jamaal Charles was injured and Tony Romo finished
with only 12 points, despite the awful Cowboys winning a game (Romo
should be back to 4th quarter garbage points next week). Meanwhile,
Phillip Rivers shredded the legion of boom, making me look like a genius
and not just a guy who forgot to draft a second QB. Brandon Marshall
hauled in 3 TDs and Mark Ingram had a solid game, despite sustaining a
rumored broken hand that could force me to start the Quizz next week.
Incidentally, if someone wants to trade 1 good player for the entire
Atlanta backfield, it is on the block.

Final Score: Nikachu 91, Bookoo Barbarians 40

In our next matchup, DoggNutz continued Jody's "Quest for the Draft
Board 2015" versus Ben's Magic Wands. It got off to a great start, as
Ben Roethlisberger managed only 9 points in a drubbing by the Ravens,
while on the other side of the ball, Dennis PItta picked up only 2
despite the Ravens victory, confounding Jody and ruining his week before
it got started. Meanwhile, Ben's all-WR strategy brought good mojo. With
Terrence West now elevated to a starting role and Pierre Thomas sort of
occasionally playing, Ben put together 75 points led by Peyton Manning's
24. Next week will bring Jody a lineup conundrum at running back, but
one he can solve by trading Knile Davis to me for Travis Kelce and the
entire Atlanta backfield.

Final Score: Magic Wands 75, DoggNutz 53

In another middling affair, Luke wins narrowly for coaching failure of
the week, as Deathtöngue's bench outscored its starters, 58-56. opening
the way for Jimmy Graham's Rainbows & Puppies to eke out a 65-56 victory
led by Graham's 19 points and 14 from Matt Ryan. The rest of Matt's team
turned in solid single digits, and with Josh McCown looking like the
second coming of Steve Young, a QB controversy is brewing as Matt Ryan
still plays for the Falcons, so his upside is severely limited. Luke
inexplicably started real-life benchwarmer Bishop Sankey, then watched
as his fantasy bench racked up  30 points on the ground, while benched
Antonio Gates turned a monster 3-TD performance against the collapsing
Seahawks defense, unfortunately also started by Luke.

Final Score: Rainbows & Puppies 65, Deathtöngue 56

The game that went down to the MNF wire was the game between Nick B and Adam. Our defending champ was looking for his first win of the year and he got healthy quickly behind 20 from Cam Newton. His other Panthers' 'player' was their defense and they roared for 17 points. Nick B responded with 20 from Gio Bernard and 15 from his Cincinnati defense. Going into MNF Nick B trailed by 11, but had his kicker, Adam Vinatieri left while Adam was using Colts TE Dwayne Allen. Vinatieri scored all the points between the two players on MNF, but it was only 9 points leaving him just two points short.

Final Score: Biggums' 'Basers 73 The Knacks 71

In the week's final game, Nate continues is quest for another undefeated
season based entirely on luck and mesmerizing his opponents. Matt
Stafford started strong for the Bounchers, before the Lions offense
completely collapsed against Carolina, taking the rest of Nate's Sunday
with it. Meanwhile, Alex's Sunday started poorly and ended poorly, with
Beast Mode at least contributing his customary touchdown and Jake Locker
scoring 17. The rest of the Peons starters combined for only 11 total
points, while Steven Ridley and Michael Crabtree put up double digits on
the bench, and even 'Lil Beast Mode managed 8. Still, Alex took a narrow
lead into Monday night, only to see LeSean McCoy out-duel Reggie Wayne,
delivering victory in the week's most pathetic game to Hamme's
Bounchers, who are now 2-0.

Final Score: Bounchers 50, Worthless Peons 38

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

FCNPFFL: Week 1 Results

For the first time since I've taken over as commish of this fine league I find myself in a position where I: 1) not working Tuesday nights 2) not at a job with enough down time to type this up during the day. That being said, coming home and not being able to get out a recap until 8pm on a Tuesday is too late for my liking.

What I am going to ask of the group is for any volunteers to take on writing a recap email each week. It would be awesome if 5-6 people stepped up to write 1-2 weeks and I'll pick up the rest. My goal is to have someone get the email out either late Monday night (like I used to do back in the day) or in time for a lunch time read like I have in more recent years. I know we all have 'real' jobs now and I probably won't get any takers, but if I do, thank you in advance.

My new job will be at its busiest here during September so this might be the earliest I have a chance to write this for the rest of the month.

There are no BYE weeks in Week 2.

Waivers will commence late Wednesday night. As a reminder please put all your choices on the website. If you email them to me I will delete the email immediately. After the waivers have been processed you will be free to add any kicker/defense by emailing me and I will process them in turn.

Okay onto the games:

Keeping with tradition I'll lead off with my game against Alex whose skill set has been embiggened (which is a perfectly cromulent word) by his promotion at the Washington Post this season. He started the season on the right with 23 points from Marshawn Lynch on Thursday night. My team was shaken, but not beaten as I got steady performances from Jay Cutler (23 points) and DeMarco Murray (16 points). Alex was bolstered by a 20 point performance from AJ Green (17 points on one play). The game was still in doubt late into the night on Monday, but QB Carson Palmer had some late magic that didn't go to my WR Michael Floyd to win the game for Alex..

Final Score: Worthless Peons 86 Escaped Lunatics 73

Our preseason favorite (per CBS) Ben drew Joel in Week 1 and did the favorite ever deliver. Using the en vogue 0 RB draft method, Ben got 25 from Peyton Manning and 24 from Julius Thomas. His other strength, the WRs actually came up empty with just 4 points, but, go figure, Ben got 16 from his RBs which now include 2 starters as Ben Tate was lost to injury in Cleveland. What elevated his Week 1 performance to a $10 winning performance was 20 points from his 49ers defense. Joel didn't have a horrible week with 15 from Philip Rivers and 13 each from Matt Forte and Daniel LaRusso aka Antonio Brown.

Final Score: The Magic Wands 99 Nikachu 68

Right behind Ben for Week 1 supremacy was John who took on Nick B. Both teams scored well, but with 28 from Megatron, 23 from Nick Foles, 18 from Jeremy Maclin, 11 from Ryan Mathews and 10 Martellus Bennett he was able to overcome the Houdini performance from last years bust Doug Martin who is well on his way to a repeat performance.  Nick B was led by Le'Veon Bell who dropped in the draft due to his DWI, but was great in Week 1 with 21 points. Tom Brady scored 12, Greg Olsen tacked on 11 and the Bengals clawed their way to 10 points.

Final Score: The Situation 96 The Knacks 73

And then there was Adam who scoffed at the defending champ curse of this league and then, well, got smacked in the face with it. He 'battled' Nick G on paper, but he really was up against the injury bug this weekend. Cam Newton, Eddie Lacy, Ben Tate and Jordan Cameron all either didn't play or left early with an injury. Only the Panthers D managed to eclipse double figures as Adam may nearly have set a record for futility in Week 1 for the FCNPFFL. Nick G had no such problems as Andrew Luck and his 31 points nearly won the game outright. He got 11 from Shane Vereen and decent performances from AP, Percy Harvin, Julian Edelman and Steven Hauschka to win easily.

Final Score: The Lollipop Kids 78 Biggums' 'Basers 35

Luke and Mike paired up and our new defensive scoring was in full effect in this game. Luke started the stout Seahawks defense and they mustered a quality 12 points while Mike started the Saints 'defense' and were treated to our first ever, and new worst score ever, -5 points. That 17 points swing went a long way into deciding this game. Luke was led by the strongest part of the Saints (the offense) with 19 from Drew Brees and 12 from rookie Brandin Cooks. He also got 14 from Vernon Davis to round out the victory. Mike got 15 from Tony Romo and 14 from Mike Nugent in the loss.

Final Score: Deathtongue 82 Bookoo Barbarians 56

Back to a closer game: Matt and Ike tussled in a game that wasn't decided until the wee hours on Monday as Ike jumped out behind 23 from Cordarrelle Patterson and his awesome running ability, 13 from Montee Ball and a very pedestrian 12 from Aaron Rodgers. Matt nearly climbed all the way back behind the right arm of Matt Ryan who torched Mike's defense for 39 points setting an Atlanta passing record. Going into the MNF games Matt had Golden Tate and a gimpy Andre Ellington to try and make up a 16 point deficit. He got 6 from Tate early, but an early fumble by Ellington in the nightcap led to a lowly 4 points and a six point loss.

Final Score: Myra's College Fund 79 Rainbows & Puppies 73

In our final game we got another high scoring game between our defending runner up, Nate, and our defending draft board monkey, Jody. Big Ben came out hot for Jody with 21, kicker Matt Bryant was strong with 18, CJ Spiller tacked on 11 and Roddy White got rowdy with 10 points to get the 'Nutz rolling. Nate got 19 from Knowshon Moreno and 13 from Shaun Suisham, but was also hit by his defense racking up -3 points. He trailed by 24 points with Matt Stafford and Keenan Allen left to play. By the time Allen stepped onto the field, the difference had been made up thanks to Stafford destroying the Giants defense for 36 points.

Final Score: The Bounchers 86 DoggNutz 72

Monday, September 1, 2014

NFL Crystal Ball 2014

I think back to just how close I was last year. No not that Denver over Atlanta prediction I made here but the Denver over Seattle prediction I made six month earlier, but chickened out because ESPN picked the exact same thing right before I posted my predictions. Sure Denver laid a big, fat, ugly egg in front of a couple million people, but they are the odds on favorite to get back there from the AFC again this season. As for the defending champions up in Seattle, they are expected to contend again, but their path should be a bit more difficult in the more rugged NFC. Picking Seattle to win again this season would be foolish of me, though because the last 8 Super Bowl champs have failed to win a single playoff game (I'm pretty sure I heard that one from Peter King first).

Now for the reason why Seattle can win this season. The New England Patriots did win back to back Super Bowls in 2004-05 as did the Cowboys in the 1990's, the 49ers in the 80's (2nd one being won in January '90 but go along with my logic), the Dolphins/Steelers did the feat in the 70's and the Packers started it all in the '60's with back to back victories. No matter the era we have seen a back to back champion in each decade and we almost half way through the 2010's. Seattle was built to win more than one Super Bowl so why not this season?

Before I get to my predictions, let me regale you with my spot on predictions as to who will be breakout stars and fabulous flops this upcoming season:

Break out candidates: Jay Cutler - The biggest thing that has held Jay Cutler back (outside of Mike Martz' LOOK OUT offensive scheme) has been Jay Cutler. This year he'll have two top 10 caliber WRs to throw to and an elite RB to dump the ball off to. The Bears defense isn't that good and in the NFC North it'll take 30+ points per game to win each week. All the makings of a great season for the enigmatic one in the Windy City. Andre Ellington - You're either a believer or not when it comes to Ellington. He showed plenty of flashes last season while splitting reps and this year the position is all his in Arizona. Whether he can hold up for 20+ touches a game is the biggest question mark. I'm on board. Joique Bell - So what if Reggie Bush is the de facto starter in Detroit. The Lions know the Bell will still be an integral part of their offense and as soon as Bush breaks down he'll get rolling. Terrance Williams - Speaking of good offenses with bad defenses, the Dallas Cowboys will be the poster-Boys in the NFL. With Miles Austin officially out of the picture in Big D and Jason Witten another year older and Dez Bryant attracting all the attention on one side of the field, Williams should be open often. Cordarrelle Patterson/Kyle Rudolph - The two most talked about breakout candidates reside in Minnesota. Whether it is Matt Cassel or rookie Teddy Bridgewater pitching the pigskin around, the Vikings have the chance to be an elite offense. Not only do they have Adrian Peterson in the backfield, but they have Norv Turner on the sidelines. Norv is a horrible head coach, but a wonderful offensive coordinator. He squeezes the most juice out of every fantasy orange he coaches. He will make sure that Patterson and Rudolph get their touches.

Busts - Cam Newton - Where to start? Coming off surgery? Yes. An inexperienced receiving corps? Yes. An aging backfield that garners little respect? Yes. I'm not banking on his rushing TDs suddenly exploding when he's not at his healthiest. In his 3 seasons his rushing TD totals have gone 14, 8 and 6. That's the wrong direction. Frank Gore - Everything is pointing to a disastrous season in San Francisco. Even their new stadium is having issues staying healthy. The 49ers defense is a mess and Jim Harbaugh is a ticking time bomb. Frank Gore served his purpose for the 49ers, but this is the year they move on. Either by injury or ineffectiveness, Gore doesn't start more than 7 games this season. Pierre Garcon/DeSean Jackson - If the Redskins learned anything this preseason it's that RGIII is not ready to stand in the pocket and deliver 30+ passes a game. Washington will be better on defense meaning they can run the ball and have a controlled passing game with TE Jordan Reed being the focal point and the WRs being more of a decoy. In 2013 the two combined for 195 catches and nearly 2700 yards (DeSean was on the Eagles) and in 2014 they'll combine for 120 catches and 2000 yards. Temper the expectations.

Regular Season MVP: Drew Brees edging out Peyton Manning

Here are your 2014 NFL Standings:

NFC EAST

Philadelphia Eagles 11-5
Dallas Cowboys 8-8
Washington Redskins 6-10
New York Giants 6-10

NFC NORTH

Green Bay Packers 13-3
Chicago Bears 11-5
Detroit Lions 9-7
Minnesota Vikings 6-10

NFC SOUTH

New Orleans Saints 12-4
Atlanta Falcons 8-8
Carolina Panthers 7-9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-11

NFC WEST

Seattle Seahawks 13-3
Arizona Cardinals 9-7
San Francisco 49ers 8-8
St. Louis Rams 7-9

AFC EAST

New England Patriots 13-3
New York Jets 6-10
Miami Dolphins 3-13
Buffalo Bills 3-13

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens 11-5
Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7
Cincinnati Bengals 9-7
Cleveland Browns 2-14

AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts 13-3
Tennessee Titans 6-10
Houston Texans 5-11
Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos 13-3
Kansas City Chiefs 9-7
San Diego Chargers 7-9
Oakland Raiders 5-11

Playoffs:

NFC

1. Seattle
2. Green Bay
3. New Orleans
4. Philadelphia
5. Chicago
6. Detroit

Wild Card Round:

New Orleans over Detroit
Chicago over Philadelphia

Divisional Round:

Seattle over Chicago
Green Bay over New Orleans

NFC Championship:

Seattle over Green Bay

AFC

1. New England
2. Denver
3. Indianapolis
4. Baltimore
5. Pittsburgh
6. Kansas City

Wild Card Round:

Indianapolis over Kansas City
Baltimore over Pittsburgh

Divisional Round:

New England over Baltimore
Indianapolis over Denver

AFC Championship:

New England over Indianapolis

Super Bowl:

Seattle over New England 27-16 as Russel Wilson wins the Super Bowl MVP.
  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tom Hanks and 2014 Fantasy Football

This is by far and away my most favorite blog post of each year. It combines the three hobbies that I enjoy most in life: sports, movies and gambling. Each year I choose one of my favorite actors in Hollywood (movies) and compare their body of work to the upcoming NFL season (sports) and how it relates to Fantasy Football (gambling). For an example, last season I chose John Cusack and I think I did okay. Some good calls (Jordan Cameron doing well and the state of New York sucking) and some bad calls (Ryan Williams breaking out and DeSean Jackson being a bust) which is the norm for predictions before most starters step onto the field in preseason. As always I aim for 79% accuracy and 3 solid laughs throughout the post.

This season I'm covering one of the most recognizable actors of my lifetime, Tom Hanks. The winner of two best actor Oscars, nominated in three different decades (and nearly a fourth this past year for Captain Phillips), Hanks has done almost everything in Hollywood. He started on television with the campy Bosom Buddies, then did screwball comedies in the 80s (Bachelor Party, The Money Pit), graduated to dramas and peaking with his awards in the 90s and then turned to blockbuster franchises (Toy Story, the Dan Brown novels) and finally producing and a little directing. If you asked 100 people what their favorite Tom Hanks movie was, you would probably get 15-20 different answers. If I had to rank my top 5 Tom Hanks movies they would be:

5) Big
4) Saving Private Ryan
3) A League of Their Own
2) Toy Story
1) Apollo 13 (yes I just watched this again this past weekend, I can't turn it off when it's on)

So let me get right to it and tell you everything you'll need to know about the upcoming Fantasy Football season.

Sleepless in Seattle

Just like last season when I started with the defending champion Ravens, I head to the great Pacific Northwest where the loyal fans of the Seahawks finally got their first Lombardi Trophy. Where do I start with this stacked team? Stud RB, Marshawn Lynch? Dynamic dual threat QB Russell Wilson? Big play potential WR Percy Harvin? How about the dominating Defense? Last season was nice, but they could be even better this season.

 Let's go backwards with the defense which normally doesn't get spoken about in fantasy football articles. The Seahawks defense should be the first defense drafted and it will be a round or two before any other defense. They had six games where they gave up fewer than 10 points and were the best in the league in giving up yards to the opponent. How could they get better? They only scored four defensive TDs in 2013 and with their big play potential they could easily have 2-3 more this upcoming season. Percy Harvin is the great unknown. He was completely absent in 2013 until the Super Bowl when he had a kickoff return for a touchdown (see he's helping your Seahakws defense already!). With Golden Tate gone and Sidney Rice retired, it's all on his shoulders to make the passing game a threat. Drafting him will be all about value. His name and potential will increase his ADP while his injury risk will scare some people off. If he drops, he is a must pick, but don't go too crazy. That brings us to Russell Wilson who can be really, really good just as easy as he can be really, really quiet. The Seahawks play a run first style and then lean on their defense. Unless he gets his points early it usually winds up being a quiet day at the office. Hopefully with some of the losses on the defense the Seahawks on quite as dominant forcing Wilson to have to do a little bit more, thus raising his ceiling. Don't let the Super Bowl win fool you into reaching for him. He's a great #2 in a 10 team league and a fringe starter in anything bigger. As for Marshawn Lynch, all the signs of a first round bust are there. He's had a ton of mileage on his tires with 1,002 rushes over the last three seasons (including the playoffs). That's 334 per year for those of you who don't know how to operate a calculator. He has got to be tired (I'm tired just carrying my kid up to bed once a night). There has already been talk of more of a time share in Seattle this season with Christine Michael who is a must-handcuff for anyone willing to ride the rainbow one more season.

Big & Splash - Big Splash!

This is where I cover the rookie class...you know the guys who are looking to make a big splash onto the fantasy football scene. Some people call me a genius when they read these preview posts, others just point their finger at me and laugh like Nelson on The Simpsons. Anyways, this years crop of rookies will at least get more headlines than last years did, but whether they produce on the field worthy of a draft pick in your league is yet to be seen.

QBs: Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater - DO NOT DRAFT see that was easy.

Okay to be fair I'd pick any and all of them just in case in a keeper/dynasty league, but for a re-draft league only Manziel intrigues me as a backup. He will, of course, get 98% of all the rookie headlines this season whether he warrants them or not. Bortles and his fellow rookie WRs will have their moments, but not enough to worthy wasting a draft pick. They'll be waiver wire pickups sometime this season. I know I'm not alone in think that Teddy Bridgewater is in the best spot to succeed this season and for years ahead. He has AP behind him and Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph to throw to with Norv Turner calling the shots. If you told me he was going to start 16 games I'd be willing to put him in my sleeper picks as a QB1 in a 12+ team league. Yeah I have high hopes.

RBs: Bishop Sankey, Tre Mason, Jeremy Hill and Carlos Hyde (and even Andre Williams) - DRAFT 'EM ALL!!!

Already Sankey is being touted as ROY potential in Tennessee since CJbarely1K has finally been pushed away to New York. He should be the first rookie RB off your draft board, but there are a few behind him that, if given the right situation could easily surpass his numbers. If for any reason Zac Stacy falls victim to a sophomore slump, Tre Mason could step right in an perform quite nicely. The same goes for Jeremy Hill in Cincinnati as he sits behind personal favorite Gio Bernard. He might even get a good chunk of the touches if Gio can't prove to be an every down back (he'll be just fine, TYVM). Carlos Hyde and Andre Williams were afterthoughts just a week or two ago, but they have already moved up the depth charts due to injuries in San Francisco and New York (Giants).

Here's all you need to know about the rookie crop of running backs, find a spot on your roster for one at the end of the draft. Don't take a backup TE, K or D or God forbid a 3rd QB. Stack the back end of your roster with as many RBs as you can and hope they turn into gold.

WRs: Five of the first 28 and 8 of the first 45 in this draft were spent on WRs.

I'm not touching any of them save for Sammy Watkins as a WR4 at best. I just don't trust rookie WRs one bit. Last season Keenan Allen surprised everyone by being quite the stud, but remember he was the 8th WR draft in the 2013 draft. It's just too difficult to pick out a diamond from the rough. Plus, there are far too many good WRs compared to RBs in the NFL which is why loading up on rookie backs is far more advisable.

TEs: Eric Ebron - As Samuel L. Jackson once said 'Hold on to your butts!'

Note to self: Control your emotions Jason, don't give it away that you are going to try and draft (in every league you're in) the best offensive player to come out of UNC since...2013. I think Eric Ebron is destined for multiple Pro-Bowl seasons in the NFL. I may be typing with rose-colored glasses on as a fan of the Tar Heels, but it believe he's the real deal. He's in a great situation even though past Detroit TEs have disappeared even while Matt Stafford was throwing for 5,000 yards per season. Use him or lose him Matty.

The Money Pit

You remember this movie? Tom Hanks and Shelley Long keep pouring money into a house in the hopes of making it their dream home with disastrously funny results. I'm a Washington Redskins fan (this does not count as one of the laughs I was looking for Mr./Ms. Reader) and under Dan Snyder, the Redskins are like these characters when it comes to free agency. If you throw money at them, they will come. Well it doesn't always work out they way it was planned. In this section I'll look at a few 'old faces in new places' and determine just how big of a money pit they'll be.

QB: Michael Vick - Fun fact, In 2003 I drafted Michael Vick #1 overall, days before he broke his leg causing him to miss the first 11 games of the season. Good times. 11 years later he's just trying to be a starter on the Jets. Unless he's named opening day starter by the time you draft you can leave him to the dogs.

RBs: Chris Johnson - Hey look another new Jet. Not guaranteed of anything more than a timeshare, Johnson's stock should be pretty low and thus intriguing as a 'just in case' measure.

Knowshown Moreno - From the penthouse to the outhouse. Moreno heads from high flying Denver to Miami. Again he's walking into a possible timeshare with last years bust Lamar Miller. Moreno is certainly the favorite to emerge, but nothing more than a RB3 in most leagues.

Maurice Jones-Drew - After years of toiling away in the wasteland known as Jacksonville, MJD now gets to ride into the sunset of his NFL career in the wasteland that is Oakland. Now the Raiders actually made some decent moves to shore up their defense this year and thus should be a bit better overall. On the other side of the ball MJD gets paired with Run-DMC who together should be healthy for at least six games. The Oakland backfield will be a mess.

Ben Tate - He finally gets his chance to shine. Well that is if he doesn't lose the starting job to rookie Terrance West as I've already heard hints of through the grapevine (which is an actual grape vine in my back yard that I put my ear up to until the neighbors begin to snicker). If you believe in him, that's fine, but temper your expectations.

Rashad Jennings - He's already gaining traction as a breakout player possibility now that David Wilson has mercifully retired due to his neck injury. The Giants as a whole will be looking to rebound after a debacle of a season and if they can, Jennings may be at the forefront. If Eli Manning continues to crap the bed, Jennings may just be another option for your BYE weeks.

Toby Gerhart - Just like Ben Tate, Gerhart now gets his chance to be a starter after being stuck behind one of the best in the game. Jacksonville has a rookie QB and a very young WR core so they should struggle again to stay consistent on offense. Draft him with a cautious upside.

Donald Brown - He has burned me so many times and is now 3rd string on a team that will rotate RBs at will. Just how much will he play is the big question. If you get Ryan Mathews and have an extra spot to fill in the last round, you could do worse than Brown.

WRs: DeSean Jackson - Now the Redskins didn't back up the truck for Jackson which I'm happy about. Washington will deploy four smallish WRs and big Jordan Reed at TE. If RGIII can figure out how to be a better pocket passer or re-gain the elusiveness as a running threat, the passing game could be lights out in DC. Jackson won't be a PPR monster, but he'll get a few big plays. Solid WR2 option.

Steve Smith - In Carolina it was always about Steve Smith being the only receiving option. Now in Baltimore he'll be able to mix in with Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta and the one who likes to beat on women. His numbers will be down, but he could still be productive in deeper leagues.

Eric Decker - More Jets! I'm staying away from Decker unless he plummets into the abyss during a draft. He is, by far, the biggest 'money pit' player out there IMO. See Jennings, Greg for an example of what to expect.

Golden Tate - When you draft him you must sing 'I've got the Golden Ticket, I've got the golden twinkle in my eye!' Detroit should be awesome again on offense with Megatron and Reggie Bush, but now with Ebron and Tate they could be near unstoppable. The only downside for me is he'll take away from the numbers that I know Ebron is capable of.

Emmanuel Sanders - He should be good for about 85% of an Eric Decker. That is plenty good enough to draft. He'll be the fourth option on a team that should have 40+ passing TDs. You do the math.

A League of Their Own

When it comes to studs, you won't find many sites who are willing to predict a down year. I will throw out the fact that I wrote about last year for LeagueSafe.com: A first round caliber running back from a team with a losing record will miss half the season or more. FACT.

Doug Martin was the causality in 2013 when Tampa went 4-12. The trend continued:

2012: Maurice Jones-Drew (10 games), Jacksonville goes 2-14; 2011: Jamaal Charles (14 games), Kansas City goes 7-9; 2010: DeAngelo Williams (10 games), Carolina goes 2-14; 2009: Clinton Portis (8 games), Washington goes 4-12.  Bad things happen to good running backs on bad teams.

So who will be the victim in 2014???  My best bets are Arian Foster or DeMarco Murray. Book it. Dark horse candidate LeSean McCoy!!

Outside of that the biggest worry I'll have with studs is Peyton Manning. He controls the fate of so may top picks. Five of the top 45 picks on ESPN.com are Broncos and Emmanuel Sanders is at 82.

We've seen what happened to Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers and Dallas without Tony Romo in the past. I bring up Manning because just because he was the best player in the NFL last year, that doesn't erase his medical history.

The two safest picks IMO of the consensus first round are neither RBs nor QBs, but rather Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham. If you don't get AP, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy or Matt Forte in the top four and are scared of Peyton Manning for any reason, draft one of those two at five and six. After the first seven picks, life gets a bit more complicated.

Saving Private Ryan

Last season the Atlanta Falcons fell and fell hard. Tony Gonzalez came back to play one final year because he thought Atlanta, with the addition of Steven Jackson, had the final piece in the Super Bowl puzzle. Well a funny thing happened on the way to the parade down Peachtree Street. Jackson got injured (shocker I know), Julio Jones got injured and Roddy White missed some time. All in all it was an unmitigated disaster for quarterback Matt Ryan, so will 2014 be any different?

Steven Jackson is a year older and Tony Gonzalez finally hung up his cleats.

That's not good.

Julio Jones and Roddy White are back and healthy which is good. If Atlanta can find a running game (probably from someone other than Jackson), they have a chance to put up decent to above average numbers. I don't think Atlanta has hopes of playing in a Super Bowl this season, but Ryan should better this season. I mean, it can't go much worse than it did last year, right?

There will be some good value in Roddy White and Matt Ryan when drafting. I'd even keep an eye on Devonta Freeman who could prove worthy of more than a late round flier.

You've Got Mail

It was recently published that approximately 2.3 MILLION people are still subscribing to AOL dial up services. You have GOT to be kidding me!?!?! Remember when AOL was awesome? I barely do. This is where I will point out that some RBs might have a name that you recognize, but deep down inside you know they're waaaaay past their prime. Time to upgrade your services people.

I've already discussed a few of this years crop who are just trying to hang on to their fledgling careers.

1) MJD
2) Steven Jackson
3) Chris Johnson

Here are a few others that I would avoid unless you just can't pass them up because they've dropped like a rock:

4) BenJarvus Green-Ellis - put a fork in him, he's done. The Bengals have two young and capable backs to turn to and Green-Ellis will be looking for a roster spot somewhere when injuries happen by September.

5) DeAngelo Williams - This has been a slow bleed, as he has managed to stay healthy, but his production has basically flat lined. His last three seasons his YPC has gone 5.4, 4.3, 4.2 as his carries have increase each of those seasons. His TDs have also gone 7, 5, 3 in those same three seasons. More touches with less production and even fewer scoring. Yikes.

6) Ray Rice - He's just 27, but he's had a lot of work in a short time. Tack on the fact that he'll be missing the first two games of the season and Bernard Pierce will be itching to rebound from his sophomore slump, he is ripe for failure. Too much crap going on in his life to focus on the game.

7) Frank Gore - Prove me wrong again Gore...do it. Will this finally be the year that the 49ers use their stockpile of young backs (those that aren't already injured)? I'm saying that it is. Paging Carlos Hyde, you are needed at the sleeper desk.

 Band of Brothers

Okay, so this isn't a true movie, but it's an exquisite mini series. I just couldn't pass this one up. Also don't miss 'From the Earth to the Moon' and currently airing on CNN 'The Sixties'. Have you figured out what I will be discussing in this section?

Yup, everyone's favorite coaches to hate, Jim and John Harbaugh and their teams the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Just two years ago they were fighting it out for the Super Bowl, but both fell short last season. The Niners are in a better position IMO to get back to the promised land, but the Ravens have the advantage of playing in a watered down AFC.

I've already covered both Frank Gore and Ray Rice and how I think this will be a down year for both as they have both been just so good for so long for their respective teams.

At quarterback you have two guys in Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco who have signed big money extensions and are now expected to be elite for a long time. The key for Kaepernick is keeping Michael Crabtree on the field. When Crabtree plays, Colin produces big time fantasy stats. He should come cheap this year and provide great upside with a full year from Crabtree.

As for Flacco, oh Joe...he had more games with 2+ interceptions in 2013 (7) than he did 2+ touchdowns (6). That's not good. Of course the Ravens O-Line was in shambles which led to not being able to run the ball at all. Being forced to throw and to throw into traffic got him in a ton of trouble. Now with a healthy Dennis Pitta and the savvy veteran, Steve Smith, things should be better. How much is the key? You will draft him as a backup, but you could wind up using him if Baltimore gets hot.

Each team has a quality TE although Vernon Davis has at least proved himself, while we are all waiting for Dennis Pitta to join the elite members of the fantasy TE world. Davis scored 13 times last season, which was the second time he's done that in his career. The last time he did that he followed it up with 13 touchdowns TOTAL over the next two seasons. I have to believe that a full season from Crabtree will cut into his total scores, but he will still be a top 5 TE nonetheless. For Pitta, his owners would be thrilled with a 'Vernon Davis down year' type year with 600 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. Lump him in with about half a dozen other TEs that you can get cheap and late and won't hurt you too much.

At WR between Torrey and Steve Smith, Michael Crabtree and ex-Raven Anquan Boldin you have four WRs all capable of big games and stretches of inconsistent fantasy numbers. If I had to put them in order of fantasy points I'd go: Crabtree, Torrey, Steve and Anquan. All worthy of a mid round pick and all worthy of starts and sits all season long.

Catch Me If You Can

In this movie, Tom Hanks runs around trying to catch a teenager who is kiting checks and emulating a pilot and doctor among other professions. In recent years, the NFL has seen a change of pace from plodding running games and low scoring offenses, to wide open, four WR sets and Tecmo Bowl style scores. There are a glutton of WRs who will be challenging defenses who are handcuffed by today's rules to catch them if they can. *Groan* goes the audience. Yeah you all saw that one coming.

In my opinion we are almost to the point where ALL leagues should require 3 WRs to start. In you average, run of the mill, 10 team league if you only played the top 20 scoring WRs of 2013 you wouldn't have used four receivers who posted 1,000+ yards receiving and three other receivers who scored 10 TDs!! Let's look at those names:

Michael Floyd, Brian Hartline, Harry Douglas, Kendall Wright, Wes Welker, Marvin Jones and Jerricho Cotchery. You could win some fantasy games with 3 or 4 of those receivers, no? None were in the Top 20 in standard scoring on ESPN last year.

Now if you stretched out the field and were forced to own someone between 36-40 we would get:

Eddie Royal, Rod Streater, Doug Baldwin, Greg Jennings and Terrance Williams (and yet big names like Steve Smith and Dwayne Bowe are still behind them!).

WR is deep enough right now that forcing owners to find that diamond in the rough makes it more fun rather than just running out Stud A and Stud C vs Stud B and Stud D. Yawn!

More roster spots everyone!!! Make BYE weeks, trading and waiver wire pickups mean something. It's just too easy if you don't push WR (and RB for that matter) past the top 30.

The Ladykillers

I must admit, I didn't enjoy this movie one bit. I saw it in the theaters and I would rank it in my Top 10 of worst movies I've paid money to see (also listed - and don't judge me - Freddy Got Fingered, To Die For, The Royal Tennebaums, Waterworld, The Truth About Cats and Dogs (date), Lady in the Water, Funny People, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Star Wars Episode I).

But I'm not here to discuss bad movies, but I am going to point out my thoughts on the real 'lady killers' of the NFL, your starting QBs of the NFL. These are the guys who get the head cheerleader, star in all of the commercials and usually just look the best (face of the franchise for a reason). Even if you suck, yeah I'm looking at you Christian Ponder, you usually do okay in life.

Let's start at the top with Peyton Manning who may not be Tom Brady when it comes to wooing the ladies, but he is the face of the NFL when it comes to advertising. Between him, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees you have three stud QBs and then the position becomes wide open.

This year I'd be willing to lump in Matt Stafford who I think will challenge for that #3 spot, but even if he falls short he should still produce huge numbers in Detroit. If you miss out on those four, fear not, there are 6-10 more QBs I think you can win a fantasy championship with:

(In no particular order)

Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Tony Romo, RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Phillip Rivers.

That's 16!! QBs who are all worthy of starting on any given Sunday. Sure there is some wide week-to-week variance of those final dozen, but if you get them late enough you should be able to make up the points by being stronger at RB/WR/TE than your opponent who drafted Peyton/Rodgers/Brees/Stafford in Rounds 1-3.

Here's my advice: draft a stud QB if you are stuck on picking between a RB you don't like or a WR you think you can get in the next round, but wait on QBs if you are happy with your RB/WR/TE picks in the first six rounds.

Angels & Demons

For my last film of the post I cover one of the movies that came from the Dan Brown book series where Tom Hanks is the lead character Robert Langdon. It's like the 'National Treasure' series with Nick Cage only with more religion and less world history. Either way I'm a sucker for all of these movies where it's basically good vs. evil and a treasure hunt.

As for how it relates to the NFL, when you draft your team it is all about maximizing your 'sleepers' AKA 'angels' and minimizing your 'busts' AKA 'demons'. Not too much of a stretch if I do say so myself!

Angels (Sleepers)

QBs: Jay Cutler - He has Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte. He played in 10 full games in 2013. The numbers he put up in those games worked out to be a 4,100+ yard, 30 TD season. He is currently going 16th overall for QBs on ESPN. He was also on pace for 18 INTs so there is that. He has all the makings of a top 8 QB in 2014.

        Andy Dalton - In his three years in the NFL, Andy Dalton has started all 48 games for the Cincinnati Bengals. Each year he has seen his Attempts, Yards, TDs, Yards/Attempt, Team Record and unfortunately his INTs increase. He signed a new deal and now the question is whether he has peaked or whether he has one (or more) levels to grow. If the Bengals can find a TE to emerge and get Gio the ball 70 times out of the backfield, he may just hit that next upper level. Look for 4,400 yards, 35 TDs and 18 INTs to get the Bengals into the playoffs for their fourth straight season. That's better than the 17th overall QB as he is going right now.

RBs: Carlos Hyde - I've already touched on Frank Gore stepping aside sometime this season due to rest/injury/ineffectiveness. One of these years I'm bound to be right.

Joique Bell - Do I think Reggie Bush can put together another season of 14+ games while carrying the ball over 200 times?? No, no I do not. I think the Lions are going to play thing a bit smarter and let Bell tote the rock much more on 1st and 2nd down and let Bush be the 3rd down, trailing late in the game back. Bell gets an extra 60 attempts and finishes around 900 yards and 10 TDs. Bush still catches 50 passes and has 6 total TDs, but Bell is the Lions back I want.

WRs: Terrance Williams - Oh thank heavens that Miles Austin is gone for good from Dallas. Maybe now they can find someone to lighten the coverage for Dez Bryant and Jason Witten on the opposite side of the field. He's got a 1,000 yard season ahead of him with 7 TDs as Dallas will need to score 30+ points a week to have a chance. Currently he's the 37th WR coming off the board on ESPN.

Riley Cooper - I stay in the NFC East for another WR who showed flashes last season although he was stuck behind other guys. Well DeSean Jackson is gone and the Eagles aren't about to stop their high paced, fun and gun style. Somebody has to pick up the slack as the deep threat option. With Darren Sproles working underneath, Cooper should find some openings over the top to the tune of double digits TDs.

TE - Ladarius Green - He has had time to learn from one of the best and now he takes the lead. He showed some promise in the middle of the season last year so I know he can do it. Antonio Gates didn't top 50 yards receiving over the final six weeks of the season as father time was catching up to him. Draft Green as a backup and watch him explode by Week 5.

Demons (Busts)

QBs: Cam Newton - I know all about his top 4 streak he has going as a fantasy quarterback. That ends with a bang this year. A diminishing running attack, the loss of his safety valve in Steve Smith and the off-season surgery all adds up to an ugly year. Outside of the top 15 for Newton.

Johnny Manziel - Being drafted ahead of Jay Cutler and Andy Dalton. I'm sorry, but I'm just not on board for fantasy greatness just yet. I love the enthusiasm, but I think there will be a learning curve than most all rookies go through. If he had Josh Gordon the whole season, maybe, just maybe I'd get fully on board.

RBs: Who haven't I named already? Gore, Reggie Bush, DeMarco Murray and Arian Foster are my big four.

Overall I think this will be a down year for RBs which makes hitting pay dirt all the more important. Which is why so many people are using their first two picks on a WR/QB combo and then just loading up on 4-5 middle tier RBs and hoping to get lucky.

WRs: Andre Johnson - Blame this on Ryan Fitzpatrick. That's all I have and that's all I need. His numbers come back to Earth this year.

Larry Fitzgerald - His value rebounded last season thanks in large part to the 10 TDs while not even hitting 1,000 yards receiving (for the second consecutive season). Third times the charm has he fails to hit even 900 yards receiving and only 5 TDs.

TE: Outside of Antonio Gates you ask?

Julius Thomas - When something is just too good to be true like last season was for Thomas, I get a weird feeling. After scoring 8 times in the first 7 weeks he found the end zone just 4 times over the last 9 weeks including two lost to injury. Everything won't be all butterflies and rainbows this season in Denver so temper your expectations.

So that's it for this season. If you have read this you are already 8% of the way to winning your league! Congrats and please make all checks of your winnings payable to Jason Wippich.

Good luck and have fun.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

2014 MLB Preview and Unbiased Predictions

MLB Preview and Unbiased Predictions

AL East                                                             
Tampa Bay Rays          92-70 (#1 Seed)
Boston Red Sox           88-74 (Wild Card #1)    
New York Yankees      83-79                   
Toronto Blue Jays        79-83                      
Baltimore Orioles        78-84      

Quick thoughts: The AL East is up for grabs, but I think the Rays flaws are less than that of the rest and I don't think the Red Sox have the exact same magic from a year before.                      

AL Central
Detroit Tigers               90-72 (#2 Seed)                                                       
Kansas City Royals      86-76 (Wild Card #2)                      
Cleveland Indians        78-84                       
Chicago White Sox      73-89                   
Minnesota Twins         71-91    

Quick thoughts: Again its the Tigers to lose, but the gap over the Royals is possibly gone and I wouldn't be surprised if they overtake Detroit if Cabrera is hampered by injury again.                 

AL West
Los Angeles Angels   87-75 (#3 Seed)    
Oakland Athletics       84-78
Texas Rangers            83-79
Seattle Mariners         79-83                            
Houston Astos            69-93          

Quick thoughts: I wanted to pick Oakland, but Jarrod Parker going down eliminated that. I wanted to pick Texas, but look at their injury concerns. I defaulted to the Angels because of Mike Trout and Jered Weaver.                  

NL East                                                               
Washington Nationals   89-73 (#3 Seed) 
Atlanta Braves              86-76 (Wild Card #2)           
New York Mets           77-85                          
Philadelphia Phillies       72-90                               
Miami Marlins               71-91              

Quick thoughts: Two horse race and right now the Nationals are the heathier team and should be able to hold off the Braves.           

NL Central
St. Louis Cardinals      94-68 (#1 Seed)        
Cincinnati Reds           88-74 (Wild Card #1)                           
Pittsburgh Pirates        85-77                   
Milwaukee Brewers    74-88                  
Chicago Cubs              66-96        

 Quick thoughts: St. Louis is so deep and talented that I just can't see Cincinnati or Pittsburgh keeping pace. All three will feast off the Brewers and lowly Cubs.                

NL West
Los Angeles Dodgers       93-69 (#2 Seed) 
Arizona Diamondbacks    84-78
Colorado Rockies            81-81                 
San Francisco Giants       78-84                        
San Diego Padres            72-90

Quick thoughts: The only no-brainer division winner. The Dodgers will have nearly two weeks to rest up after clinching in September.

Awards
AL ROY: Masahiro Tanaka (Yordano Ventura 2nd)
AL Cy Young: David Price (Yu Darvish 2nd)
AL MVP: Mike Trout (Prince Fielder 2nd)

Quick thoughts: Tanaka wins because he's on the Yankees and already will have the world watching although Ventura and Jose Abreu of the White Sox will fare well. I'm all in on Tampa Bay and David Price this year. Mike Trout finally wins what he deserves.

NL ROY: Billy Hamilton (by default b/c there are a ton of guys who could win IMO)
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (Stephen Strasburg 2nd)
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt (Andrew McCutchen 2nd)

Quick thoughts: I really don't think the NL ROY is going to start on a major league roster in April. That being the case, anyone can win. As for Cy Young, the NL is very deep at stud pitchers, but I think Kershaw/Strasburg will get the most ink thoughout the season. I couldn't go with Bryce Harper at MVP because I don't think he's well liked enough to win.

Playoffs

American Leauge
Royals over Red Sox in the play-in game

Rays over Royals in 6 games
Tigers over Rangers in 7 games

Rays over Tigers in 6 games

National League
Braves over Reds in the play-in game

Cardinals over Braves in 5 games
Nationals over Dodgers in 7 games (Please be Strasburg vs. Kershaw!!!)

Cardinals over Nationals in 6 games

World Series

Cardinals over Rays in 6 games

World Series MVP Matt Carpenter