Monday, August 17, 2015

Samuel L. Jackson and 2015 Fantasy Football


'I'm tired of these motherfucking blogs about this motherfucking fantasy football!'

I am pretty certain this was the exact quote Samuel L. Jackson used in the director's cut of 'Snakes on a Plane.' What an entertaining flick that was, but that is what usually happens when one sits down to watch one of the roughly 8,000 movies Jackson has appeared in over the last three decades. He's not always the star, but he usually leaves a lasting impression on the viewer with every minute of screen time he receives. There is, after all, a reason he gets as many roles as he does year in and year out.

As for me, I'm far less entertaining as you will soon find out (way to sell your post high there Jason). Every year I pick a famous Hollywood personality and tie their movie career into some of the hot button topics surrounding the upcoming fantasy football season. Last year I chose Tom Hanks and with mixed results I tried to best guess how the 2014 fantasy football season would unfold. Luckily for me I didn't follow my own advice writing that DeMarco Murray and Arian Foster would be busts. They were my first two draft picks in my 14 team league as I went 10-3 in the regular season and 2-0 in the playoffs to capture my 5th championship in the 17 year history of the league. Now don't get me wrong I also followed my advice of waiting on a quarterback. I took Jay Cutler late and he was just average enough to allow my studs to win games.

My rule for leagues of 12 or more teams: drafting RBs early can easily lose your league for you, but if those picks work out you will have a distinct advantage over those who take a QB/TE/WR combination with their first few picks. I won't always get lucky drafting the #1 and #5 overall running backs with the 14th and 15th picks of a draft. Once again I find myself drafting #14 overall and I might, just might be forced into picking backwards if possible studs aren't around. I won't have my full draft strategy until pick 12 of my draft at the earliest. Keep that in mind, when you are drafting, you must be ready to go to plan B or C immediately.

Before getting to the crux of my article, I provide for you my top 5 movies with Samuel L. Jackson in it:

5. A Long Kiss Goodnight

4. Unbreakable

3. Die Hard: With a Vengeance

2. Pulp Fiction (I'm beginning to think I have an affinity for Bruce Willis and Sam together)

1. Jurassic Park

I skipped out all the new age Marvel movies where Jackson has bit roles for the most part and Goodfellas, because although I've watched it a handful of times, cannot recall Jackson's role. I did want to include The Incredibles though, because that is such a fun movie.

Onto my preview of the 2015 Fantasy Football season, starring the one, the only Samuel L. Jackson:

Patriot Games

As has become my tradition, I tie in the first movie with the defending Super Bowl champions. Patriot Games was the second of the Jack Ryan movies (now at five) made, but the first of the Harrison Ford pair. It isn't the best of the bunch (Clear and Present Danger, Hunt for Red October and Sum of All Fears are better IMO) and Samuel L. Jackson isn't in it for very long, but here we are. I'll always remember my father asking me while driving back in 1994 when I was 16 'Do you want to see Patriot games?' I assumed we were moving to the Boston area because I took it as a sports related question, not knowing anything about the Tom Clancy books.

This past year the New England Patriots returned to glory after the Seattle Seahawks inexplicably passed the ball on the one yard line late in the fourth quarter. As happy and joyous as winning the Super Bowl has been for the Patriots, the off season has been the exact opposite. With endless questions surrounding 'Deflategate', the Patriots saw their owner get duped by the NFL Commissioner and then their future Hall of Fame quarterback, Tom Brady receive a four game suspension for basically getting a new phone. I said it from the beginning this was basically a suspension for everything the Patriots franchise has been accused of (and found guilty of) since Brady has been in the league.

What does this mean for all the skill position Patriots in 2015? Not too much really. Gronk is still the highest and most valuable fantasy draft option for them. As long as he stays on the field he is good for nearly a touchdown a game (73 games, including playoffs, 61 touchdowns). The wide receiving corps of Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell will be more than serviceable, especially with the absence of the 77 targets and 52 receptions that Shane Vereen took with him to the New York Giants. It really doesn't matter for four games whether it is Tom Brady passing or Jimmy Garoppolo, the Patriots are a well-oiled machine and the stars will get their numbers. As for the running backs, well that is a horse of a different color. Each week you could have a different hero and goat. The 2014 Patriots had four backs gain between 281-412 yards and those four combined for 12 rushing touchdowns. What a mess. You can't even hope for one being a bye week fill-in for your starter because even up until game time you just don't know who will touch the ball.

As for Brady, sure you have to knock him back a round or two because of the suspension, but don't let him fall too far because you can always plug in Carson Palmer or Joe Flacco for the first quarter of the season and survive. Don't let him slip too far.

Deep Blue Sea(ttle)

I have to admit, I'm pretty proud of myself for this play on the title of a much underrated action/adventure movie. It has sharks, L.L. Cool J talking to a bird, science you could probably poke a million holes in and probably the third most memorable Samuel L. Jackson monologue scene ever behind his Pulp Fiction and Snakes on a Plane speeches. I won't ruin the fun of the scene if you haven't watched it before. As for the title of the movie, it is just perfect for what had to be the mood for fans of Seattle after that goal line interception. It was such a strange decision for a team that had the second most rushing attempts and fewest passing attempts in the NFL.

They rely so much on their run game and defense. IT WAS ONE FLIPPIN' YARD!!! You feel me don't you Seattle? No NFL play will be as scrutinized as that one. That is a fact.

Have no fear Seattle, sunny days will return. Okay maybe not in reality, but on the football field at least. Your defense is still top notch. Your quarterback was recently overpaid, but he gets the job done (EXCEPT ON THE GOAL LINE WITH THE SUPER BOWL ON THE LINE YOU IDIOT JASON). Marshawn Lynch is another year older with another 380 or so touches under his belt. The wide receivers are still forgettable, but the Seahawks did tinker with their tight end position.

Jimmy Graham is now a Seattle Seahawk. A square peg into a round hole? An overreaction to that Super Bowl play? Just what Russell Wilson needed to become an elite fantasy quarterback? Therein lies the million dollar question. Just how will these two mesh? Last season Doug Baldwin saw just over 21% of all the pass attempts by Wilson which was the most on the team. Could Graham eclipse 30% in 2015 which would equate to 135 targets? He averaged 137.75 over his last four years in New Orleans so that is what it would take. With the already built in running threat and the scramble ability of Wilson I figure Jimmy Graham will be seeing a lot of man coverage with help over the top. He will be a PPR monster and his usual goal line beast self. The thought of him being in Seattle will cause his ADP to drop a bit (currently a late 3rd round pick on ESPN) which will make somebody very happy.

As for Wilson, he'll have to nearly duplicate his rushing stats 800+ yards and scores (6) to be fully trusted #1 QB. The system just won't allow for him to reach upper echelon passing statistics. Jimmy Graham will help, but I have to believe that 200-300 of Wilson's scramble yards will turn into passing yards and that will lower his fantasy points. Wilson is a middle of the pack at best #1 starter who will have games in that rugged NFC West where it devolves into 'ground and pound' and the Seahawks focus squarely on not making a big mistake.

The Great White Hype

A forgettable movie for me and I'm sure one that Samuel L. Jackson would like back, but that's what happens sometimes in the movie making business. Even with an above average cast with a strong background of work, sometimes it just doesn't come together even if it looks great on paper. This brings me to topic number three: rookies. For every Peyton Manning #1 overall in 1998 you get a Ryan Leaf #2 overall in 1998. For every Ki-Jana Carter #1 overall in 1995 you get a Curtis Martin #74 overall in 1995. For every Rod Gardner #15 overall in 2001 you get a Reggie Wayne #30 overall in 2001.

If the 2012 Draft was the year of the quarterback (Luck, RGIII, Russell Wilson) and 2014 was the year of the Wide Receiver (ODB, Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin) could the 2015 class finally produce a good crop of running backs?

Todd Gurley drafted by the St. Louis Rams who already have Tre Mason who as a rookie last year came on strong down the stretch of the season. Gurley who is recovering from a torn ACL may or may not be ready for the start of the season. He may or may not be the #1 running back in St. Louis when he is healthy. I'm not getting burned by those question marks.

Melvin Gordon drafted by the San Diego Chargers who also were led by a rookie running back last season in Branden Oliver has a much better chance to be a star right away. The starting job is probably his which already makes him intriguing. People don't trust rookie RBs in the fantasy world for good reason so if he drops just enough, he could be quite the steal for an owner who goes non-RB with their first two picks.

T.J. Yeldon drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Good - he could and should be the starter. Bad - he is on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Do you remember how well Toby Gerhart did last year? Denard Robinson fared a bit better in spots, but the team is a mess. Yeldon will be drafted too high for my liking because of the possibilities. He may do well but I'm not risking a RB2 slot on him.

Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman, Duke and David Johnson all have the same problem: they are slotted to start as the backup behind an average at best starting running back. All of them will get their chances to shine in 2015 whether it be from injury, poor performance or just being their turn to tote the rock. These are the top RB4s to stash on your bench for a rainy day from this year’s draft class.

As for Wide Receivers there are another interesting crop coming to play this season. Because of last year’s success they might get an unfair bump in ADP which will lessen their value. Kevin White steps in for the departed Brandon Marshall in Chicago (and then suddenly gets injured and will miss at least the first six weeks of the season). Amari Cooper becomes another in a long line of high draft picks for the Oakland Raiders. DeVante Parker gets the role that Mike Wallace once had. Nelson Agholor jumps in feet first to the run and fun style of Chip Kelly and takes the spot of Jeremy Maclin. For wide receivers who will have ample opportunity to be a fantasy WR2 or better, but best be drafted as you WR3 or later. It'll be a fine line come draft night as to whether they show up on my roster.

At Quarterback this year you get another #1 and #2 overall debate: Jameis or Marcus? I'll take neither thank you. If I had to guess who will be the 'Peyton Manning' and who will be the 'Ryan Leaf' of the two I'd give Mariota the Manning card.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance 

I love this film. Academy Award caliber, no, but that isn't what you hope for in a Die Hard movie. You want a sassy, tough as nails John McClane up against an evil henchman who seems to have everything under control up until it's too late to realize he was never in control. Yipee-kay-yay!! The third installment showed a washed up Bruce Willis who everyone thought he was a joke of a cop and a person prove he had another great effort in him. This brings me to our next topic: veterans who might still surprise.

Reggie Bush - He is just 30 years old, but in the NFL he is ancient. Last season was a disaster for him in Detroit, but now he finds himself in San Francisco. Frank Gore is gone (more on that later) making way for Carlos Hyde. Reggie Bush could settle in to the 3rd down back where he could thrive as a pass catcher. There are worse players to take a flyer on with a late round pick (especially in a PPR league).

Frank Gore - Speaking of Gore he once again proved me wrong by piecing together another solid season. He leaves the boring 49ers offense and gets to possibly excel in a wide open Colts attack. Defense won't be able to crowd the line so even at the ripe old age of 32 he could easily surpass his numbers from a year ago and be a upper echelon RB2 for you.

Vincent Jackson - Coming off a down year where he was overshadowed by a rookie, the 32 year old Jackson is primed for a slight bounce back. He won't be the focus of the secondary and he is bound to catch more than two touchdown passes. He still shouldn't be anything more than a WR3 for you with upside.

Carson Palmer - How many times have you heard 'If he can just stay healthy?' This is all you need to know about Palmer. If he plays, he'll do well. Do you realize Carson Palmer was 6-0 as a starter last year with an on pace average of 4300 yards, and 29 touchdowns over a 16 game season? He could be yours in the 10th round or later easy as well. How lucky do you feel?

Thor

This might be a stretch, but when I think about the Norse mythology of the Thor I think of the Minnesota Vikings mascot. After all he is based on Ragnar Lodbrok who 'was a legendary Norse ruler, king, and hero from the Viking Age' according to Wikipedia. See, it all makes sense now right?

As for the 2014 Minnesota Vikings, if you drafted any of their key players for your fantasy football team, you more than likely didn't win many games. Adrian Peterson played just one game last season after being a consensus top 5 pick. His off the field issues have been resolved in the eyes of the NFL, but he is still a jackass in my eyes. Then there was Cordarrelle Patterson who flopped miserably as an up and coming wide receiver. He was joined by Kyle Rudolph in the tight end slot who suffered through an injury plagued season. Three players, three failed seasons all for different reasons.

The gang is all back together for another fun filled season. Adrian Peterson will be yet another top 5 pick, but nobody know how the year off will affect him. Hopefully there are no more skeletons in his closet as well. Patterson will be the #2 or #3 WR behind Mike Wallace (who swapped places with Greg Jennings) and possibly Chris Johnson who could be a sneaky pick if he falls far enough. Kyle Rudolph gets another chance to be paired with coach Norv Turner who is supposed to be the tight end guru.

The key to how this will all work will hinder on the right arm of second year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who might just be the league’s best kept secret. While everything in Minnesota was falling apart around him, Teddy held his own in his rookie year. With that out of the way, an expanded playbook, a hall of fame caliber running back and God given natural talent, Bridgewater is poised for a breakthrough season. Should you draft him as your starting QB in your draft? Hell no. Don't get me wrong I'm not going all-in on him just yet, but I would love to have him in my back pocket if I waited to grab Eli Manning or Tony Romo as my starter.

The Hateful Eight

For the first time in my five year history of doing this mash-up of movies and fantasy football I am including a movie that hasn't been released. The Hateful Eight is the next Quentin Tarintino movie and I cannot wait for it to come out. The plot is described as a bunch of all around mean and dangerous people stuck in a cabin during a blizzard where all types of mayhem breaks loose. Giggity! Let me guess, long scenes of exquisite dialogue mixed with violent bloodshed? I'm in. As for the title, I used this to give you eight players I am staying away from this year. Let's call it the Frank Gore list because of all the abuse I have given him over the last few years, but he just won't fade away!

 DeMarco Murray - Yes the overall #1 fantasy running back from last year. I'm not touching him. He had the sixth most touches in NFL history last season when everything went right. He was behind a dominant offensive line, he had nobody vying for playing time behind him and he had a predictable coach who leaned on Murray in a contract year when he pretty much knew he wasn't coming back. Now Murray is in Philadelphia who doesn't run the ball at the same rate as Dallas (42% to 50%). Murray saw 77% of the Cowboys rushes last season. The top Eagles back from last season, LeSean McCoy saw just 65.8% of the rushes. Philadelphia also has Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews in the backfield to eat away at some playing time to keep Murray fresh in the up tempo scheme. All signs point to same major regression and a hamstring problem.

Calvin Johnson - For three straight years all of the important numbers for Megatron have decreased. Games played, targets, receptions and yards receiving all down. That is not good for a receiver who is about to turn 30. Fantasy owners don't see nor do they care about this. They see the name and they want him. He is still going mid to late 2nd round in fantasy drafts. There are far too many younger receivers with the same upside to pick before Johnson.

Mark Ingram - This could be the one that comes back to haunt me. It's not that I don't believe in what Ingram could be, I just don't trust the Saints this year. More importantly I don't trust Sean Payton. The last time the Saints had a 1000 yard rusher was Payton first year coaching in 2006. I certainly think Ingram has the best chance anyone has had since then to eclipse that mark, but I'm not risking a late 2nd round pick/early 3rd on that. Add into the fact that C.J. Spiller was brought in to be the 3rd down back and then some, I just am too weary. The Saints won't be a pass happy team, but my fear of Payton keeps Ingram off my teams.

Andre Johnson - New city. Better quarterback. Andre Johnson is back!!! Hmmmmm, no. His numbers have dropped just like Calvin Johnson over the last three years and he has just turned 34. The Colts have brought in Frank Gore to help balance out their offense. They already have T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and Donte Moncrief. There is only one ball to go around. Andre Johnson has not been a part of an offense like this. Temper your expectations folks. Don't let the glow of Andrew Luck's star blind you into wasting a fourth round pick.

Brandon Marshall - Pssst Brandon Marshall is now a New York Jet. Yes the same Jets who just lost their starting quarterback to a broken jaw in a locker room fight. Remember what happened to Eric Decker when he left Peyton Manning? This isn't going to end well. He's also going in the sixth round of most drafts. That's just silly talk. The Jets are awful and are already on their backup quarterback for the first quarter of the season. Go younger, take another running back or your QB here.

Drew Brees - Did I mention that I'm down on the Saints this year. Call it fear of the unknown. Just how will they look without Jimmy Graham? Graham was such an important cog in that offense I am struggling trying to figure out what we will see this season from Brees and company. Payton has threatened to run more and why not? On one side you have an aging Marques Colston and on the other side you have a young, unknown in Brandin Cooks who missed six games to injury during his rookie year. Like Calvin Johnson, fantasy owners will still see the name 'Drew Brees' and think of the good old days and reach a bit too early for him. This will be a down year for him and for you as well if you draft him as your starting quarterback.

Devonta Freeman - Devonta Freeman or Tevin Coleman? Is there a correct answer in Atlanta this season? Early drafts on ESPN seem to favor Tevin Coleman, but as I look at other websites, it is still rather muddled. This is how I feel the Atlanta backfield right now. I'll definitely keep an eye on these two during the preseason, but right now I'm steering clear.

Bishop Sankey - Okay this one is just personal. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice I hate you forever. I don't want to hear the excuses about the Titans sucking last year and dragging Sankey down with them. They won't be that much better even with Marcus Mariota but even if they are I won't reap the rewards of a refreshed Sankey, because I'm not touching him.

Kiss of Death

 How did I miss this film? Shame on me. Maybe it is good, maybe is sucks, but I completely let it pass me by. This brings me to my next topic: Sleepers. If you aren't paying attention you just might miss a gem. Of course if you do go out to see that unknown movie that everyone says is going to be so great you just might come back disappointed and a few bucks poorer. I think back to the movie 'To Die For' with Nicole Kidman. What a heap of crap that turned out to be, but all I heard was how it couldn't miss. You hear that Bishop Sankey?? I'm so bitter.

Of course I've rarely picked a good sleeper which also bring the title of this topic home. As soon as I put these names down, they are destined to fail. This will be their 'kiss of death.'

David Johnson (RB) Arizona Cardinals - As a bitter owner of Andre Ellington I know that it is just a matter of time until the rookie out of Northern Iowa gets his chance. You could probably snag him somewhere between the 9th and 12th rounds depending on your league size and wind up with a starting RB for 4-6 weeks while Ellington is nursing yet another lower body injury.

Sam Bradford (QB) Philadelphia Eagles - As a fantasy owner I'm stuck between knowing he'll get injured and knowing he'll be in the Pro Bowl. I've seen how Chip Kelly's scheme turns the average quarterback into something special. Sam Bradford can be very special as long as he stays upright. You could do a whole lot worse with the 22nd quarterback drafted as he is currently going on ESPN.

Donte Moncrief (WR) Indianapolis Colts - We saw the flashes of greatness last season. Then he disappeared. Then the Colts brought in Andre Johnson. So much for that. Well that's where the definition of 'sleeper' comes in to play. My lack of faith in Andre Johnson and the ability of the Colts to score at will makes me confident enough to snag Moncrief as my WR4 and reap the rewards mid-season.

Unbreakable

 I feel like this is the most underrated of the really good M. Night Shyamalan movies. Don't laugh. Obviously there is The Sixth Sense, but I enjoyed Signs and to a lesser extent, but nonetheless The Village. Unfortunately he has turned into what Tiger Woods has become. We all know the talent is there, but as time goes on and the failures pile up you just don't believe he'll ever be good again. Of course this is why we keep buying tickets to watch both of them, just in case they hit lightning in a bottle. The ceiling is so high which make hitting rock bottom so painful to see.

For this topic I will cover the tantalizing option who happens to suffer from the injury bug. You can name this the 'Fragile' Fred Taylor category.

I start in Washington, home of the walking wounded. Lead member, and the perfect poster boy for this category is:

Jordan Reed (TE) - Week in and week out I watch the Redskins hoping for a return to glory. I am always disappointed. Every time Jordan Reed steps onto the field I watch for the hope that he makes it through the game injury free. I am always disappointed. I'll keep my eye on him and stash him on my bench...just in case.

Percy Harvin (WR) - If there is one franchise that makes me happy to be a Redskins fan it has to be the Buffalo Bills. They made a big splash by bringing in Rex Ryan and then LeSean McCoy. Well Percy Harvin finds himself in the land of the bad sports teams with probably his last chance to stay in the NFL. He's been injured on the field, he's been a malcontent off the field. But we all remember him in the Super Bowl. We know the talent is there. We will keep drafting him in the hopes of the glory days of just two years ago.

Jonathan Stewart (RB) - Just as one 'Daily Show' is ending, another one gets his big shot to finally be the one and the only lead back in Carolina. When he returned from his 82nd* career injury (*approximation) last season I added him to my roster because why not? I knew he could perform and when he actually did it was a welcome surprise. If you knew that Stewart would play all 16 games in 2015 how high would you draft him? Think about that when you see him still available in Round 3 or 4.

Hey look another spot where I could've talked about Sam Bradford. Maybe he should be the poster boy for 'Injuries 'R Us'.

For QB outside of Bradford please consider Carson Palmer (plagued, but has talent) or RGIII (plagued, but has issues) for you backup quarterback.

The Other Guys

 I saw this in theaters. I laughed. I barely remember anything about it. I swear it had its moments, but what they were I have no clue. I couldn't tell you if Samuel L. Jackson was a primary character, a secondary character or a voice-over. This is pretty rare for me. It has to be the early signs of getting old.

I've covered a good sampling of players who could be difference makers either for the good or for the bad for your fantasy team this season, but I missed quite a few. Let me briefly touch on some of..wait for it...the other guys.

 Shame on me for ignoring the machine that is the Green Bay Packers. I think the rule should be: you can't draft too many Packers. Aaron Rodgers? Money in the bank. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb? So Good. Eddie Lacy? Dominant. You really can't go wrong.

 The Miami Dolphins seem to be on everyone's list of breakout potential. Starting with QB Ryan Tannehill who has seen his numbers get drastically better year over year. As he gets better, he'll make Jarvis Landry better and in turn open up the running game led by a very inconsistent Lamar Miller. I can easily see these three being big time swing players for fantasy teams. Either the hype will bubble and you'll lose all value or they will stay under the radar and pay off. Before you draft check to see how these three have moved over the last 7-14 days and act accordingly. You do want to get at least one of them on your team.

The Oakland Raiders...are still a NFL team somehow.

Although they suffered through a very disappointing season record wise the New York Giants rediscovered a potent offense. Eli Manning threw for the 2nd most yards and touchdowns of his career. This was obviously due in large part to the team utilizing rookie Odell Beckham Jr. as soon as Victor Cruz went down who responding with seven games of 100+ yards receiving (out of 12) with a touchdown per game average. In the backfield Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings combined for 1360 yards and 11 touchdowns which would be fine for any individual player, but neither proved to be good enough to haul the entire load. This could be why the Giants brought in Shane Vereen. No not to run the ball, but to continue to be the best 3rd down back in the NFL. Jennings and Williams can now focus their plodding efforts on 1st and 2nd down and Vereen can continue to catch 50 passes a year and be a worthy PPR league pick. The big question is can the passing game repeat the magic and will a running back emerge? Also can Victor Cruz return to any level of stardom? Eli Manning will be fine and will surely finish higher than 12th best QB which is where he is going in standard ESPN leagues. ODB will probably regress a bit with a better cast around him and the focus squarely on him this season, but still be a viable WR1 in all formats.

The Cincinnati Bengals are the definition of 'The Other Guys.' I mean, they can be good or mediocre and they get the same national coverage because nobody takes the seriously. This is in due large part to the 'Red Rifle' Andy Dalton. Just when you thought he was ready to make the stride to trusted fantasy option he regressed to worse numbers than his rookie year. Let's compare:

2011 3398 yards, 20 TD, 13 INTS

2014 3398 yards, 19 TD, 17 INTS

'12/'13 average: 3981 yards, 30 TD, 18 INTS

The key stats for me were passing attempts and completion %: Dalton attempted 35 FEWER passes than he had in his four year career, but set a high for completion % at 64.2. This tells me that the Bengals were worried about his INTs so they reined him in by throwing safer passes and fewer deeper passes. His yards/completion were the lowest of his career which solidifies my thought process.

Unless Andy Dalton can regain the trust of his coaching staff, he'll be relegated to a backup role in the fantasy world. 

A.J. Green missed three games, but even when he played his numbers were slightly down over his career as you would expect with the 'safer' play calling. His numbers were close to his rookie year in per game averages which also happened to be Dalton's rookie year as well. They are literally two peas in a pod. For Green to live up to his billing of a top 10 fantasy receiver the Bengals had better learn to live with the ups and downs of letting Dalton air it out.

The backfield is nearly equally as jumbled. Yes Jeremy Hill splashed onto the scene around Week 8 in his rookie season. Through the seventh week his average stat line was: 7 carries for 27 yards and he had scored just 2 touchdowns. In the final 9 games his average was: 19 carries for 103 yards with 7 touchdowns. Quite a leap. All the hype. Will he top 1300 yards and 12+ touchdowns as is expected with his late first round/early second price tag? I just can't see that happening as long as Gio Bernard continues to get 10 rushes a game and plays on 3rd down. I see Hill matching his rookie year at best this season.

Rules of Engagement/The Negotiator/Changing Lanes/Pulp Fiction

 A foursome of movies for my final topic.

Rules of Engagement was a run of the mill military movie where the topic of discussion was whether shooting upon people trying to get into a U.S. embassy was illegal or not.

When it comes to your fantasy football draft, there are no rules...put your shirt back on, okay there's just one rule. (Love that commercial). Old school with heavy RB drafting? I'm cool with that. Zero RB strategy which is the new age? Sure why not? All I can ever tell you is to know the rules of your league and adjust your cheat sheet accordingly. Just because ESPN/CBS/Yahoo! have a cheat sheet for a 10 team league with a flex and 0.5 PPR, doesn't mean that will help me in my 14 team, 3rd round reverse, no flex, no PPR league. Picks will be similar, but when every pick is extremely important, you cannot afford to make too many mistakes.

The Negotiator is, in my opinion, a much underappreciated movie. Maybe I'm just a sucker for Kevin Spacey in it. It's one of those movies that I have to watch if I come across it on television.

 Changing Lanes is one of those movies, on the other hand, which I watched once and never gave a second thought to. It was fine, but it involved people from two different walks of lives figuring out they needed to work together to help make each out a better person. Meh.

These translate to fantasy football in a very easy way. Please trade. Please negotiate. Please be active. Don't waste your leagues time by checking out after a 0-2 or 2-5 start. Give it your all for 13 or 14 weeks. Your roster should be nearly fluid save for 2-3 roster spots. Sometimes you'll trade away a play who is about to break out, but sometimes you'll trade him just before he breaks down.

Pulp Fiction was a game changer for me. I think I could easily list the three movies that stand out as the most profound for me being the movie addict that I am:

 1991: Terminator 2: Judgement Day 

My first R rated movie in the theaters, but what registered with me was grand scale of the action. My dad took his then 13 year old son and I was blown away. I had never seen a movie with effects like that. It opened a world of watching blockbusters in theaters. I love to see the explosions and the world ending on the big screen.

 1992: Rear Window

I was in an 8th grade Theater Arts class and our teacher exposed us to the world of Alfred Hitchcock. I was mesmerized by the style, the characters and subtle suspense. The summer after 8th grade I went through Hitchcock's entire filmography in what one could describe as pre-Netflix age binge watching. Now all suspense movies aim to be dubbed 'Hitchcockian' but for my money nothing tops the original.  

1994: Pulp Fiction

New age film noir? Quentin Tarantino as I described with The Hateful Eight above meshed together lengthy scenes of dialogue with over the top brutal violence while presenting very detailed and imaginative characters. This along with Kevin Smith's 'Clerks' opened me up to the world of R rated movies. Violence, language and hopefully a great story.    

I didn't really have anything more to say about fantasy football, but I had to get Pulp Fiction into this somehow.  

Best of luck to everyone this year and may your office productivity not suffer too much on Monday's as you discuss your fantasy stats with your office mates. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015 MLB Preview and Unbiased Predictions

2015 MLB Preview and Unbiased Predictions

For as well as I've done in my NFL predictions the last couple of years, I've done just as poorly when it comes to my MLB predictions. Last year I had the Cardinals beating the Rays so that is all you need to know on how well I did. There are only two divisions that I would be money on knowing the division winner and they're both in the National League. I could easily see 12 American League teams vying for the five playoff spots. The National League isn't quite as up for grabs with only 8-9 teams with a real shot at making the playoffs in my humble and usually wrong opinion. This year I'm correct though about everything, I swear.

AL East

To be honest, I could pick any of the four teams not named the Rays and be able to make a case for it. The Blue Jays have re-loaded in the hopes of finally getting back to the playoffs. The Red Sox have a great offense but question marks galore in their new starting rotation. The Yankees saw Derek Jeter retire, but welcome back (no laughing) A-Rod and a stout bullpen as they try and emulate the Royals path to the playoffs. Then there are the defending champion Orioles who did jack squat in the off-season, losing Nelson Cruz, but getting back Manny Machado and possibly Matt Wieters from injury. Each team has some strengths and multiple weaknesses so I suppose it comes down to which team can hide those weaknesses long enough to make some deadline deals and make a run for the playoffs.

New York Yankees 86-76 (#3 Seed)
Baltimore Orioles 85-77
Toronto Blue Jays 83-79
Boston Red Sox 83-79
Tampa Bay Rays 74-88

AL Central

Just like the AL East (and spoiler alert the AL West too) this will be another division that could be won by all but one team. The Twins will try and steal a few games here and there, but will be an afterthought be Memorial Day. The Tigers added Yoenis Cespedes to an already potent lineup and have basically traded away Max Scherzer for David Price for the 2015 season. Their biggest question, again, will be the bullpen. The Royals were on the cusp of being one of the most improbable World Series champions last October with their speed, defense and bullpen. Not much has changed other than losing 200+ innings from James Shields. The White Sox added Jeff Samardzija and Adam LaRoche to be paired with Chris Sale and Jose Abreu to create an intriguing core. Will they still be a piece or two short remains the question. The Indians have enough offense, starting pitching and bullpen to win, but can they break through the mental hurdle of believing they can win similarly to the way Kansas City did a year ago. I say yes, yes they can.

Cleveland Indians 88-74 (#2 Seed)
Detroit Tigers 86-76 (#2 Wild Card)
Chicago White Sox 81-81
Kansas City Royals 79-83
Minnesota Twins 70-92

AL West

The Angels were the class of the West last year, but may be without Josh Hamilton while Albert Pujols is another year older. Of course they still have Mike Trout and that might just be enough. The Seattle Mariners made some key off season moves adding Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith and have a very deep starting rotation. The Athletics have made the playoffs three straight years and turned over 2/3 of their roster, but now have a young stable of pitching that could surprise or be a disaster. The Rangers have already been snake bit to the injury bug yet again this year by losing Yu Darvish, the one person they couldn't afford to lose. The Astros have acquired some more ex-Athletics and Evan Gattis in the hopes to outscore opponents every game. Their bullpen won't be nearly as laughable as it was last year.

Seattle Mariners 90-72 (#1 Seed)
Los Angeles Angels 88-74 (#1 Wild Card)
Oakland Athletics 83-79
Houston Astros 76-86
Texas Rangers 72-90

NL East

Once again the Nationals are primed to run away with the division where they will get to face their playoff demons head on once again. Outside of early season injuries, their doesn't seem to be a weakness on the roster. Well there is Matt Williams. The Marlins have Giancarlo Stanton and will get back Jose Fernandez just in time to make a run at a wild card where nobody will want to play them. The Mets are building through their young pitching, but have already lost Zach Wheeler for the season the same way Matt Harvey went down last season. Another year away, again. The Phillies and Braves will be battling for the basement with their horribly constructed rosters. Both teams are stuck in a rebuilding mode, but neither have a clue of how to do it.

Washington Nationals 91-71 (#2 Seed)
Miami Marlins 87-75 (#1 Wild Card)
New York Mets 78-84
Atlanta Braves 71-91
Philadelphia Phillies 69-93

NL Central

This will be the most hotly contested division in the National League and really the only thing to pay attention to playoff wise come September. The Cubs are everyone's trendy pick to win with Joe Maddon running the ship and their cavalcade of young stud hitters. Oh yeah John Lester is there too. The Reds have a nicely construct lineup, a true ace and a stud closer, but something just doesn't seem to mesh over a six month season. The Pirates will see how much Russell Martin really meant to the team, but have a great core of young players that should challenge again for the division. The Brewers, well they play in Milwaukee and have Ryan Braun, Matt Lucroy and Carlos Gomez. The pitching staff on the other hand is, not good (Mike Fiers, I do like though). Then there are the Cardinals, the perennial division winning Cardinals. How can we forget about them? They'll be the odds on favorite to win the division yet again.

St. Louis Cardinals 89-73 (#3 Seed)
Chicago Cubs 84-78 (#2 Wild Card)
Pittsburgh Pirates 83-79
Cincinnati Reds 78-84
Milwaukee Brewers 72-90

NL West

Home of the defending World Series champion Giants (again), this is another division like the NL East where almost everybody will be picking one team to win and it won't be San Francisco. The Dodgers should again win this division by 5-10 games with ease. The Giants haven't gotten any better, but are a plucky bunch. The Padres went crazy in the off season with a flurry of trades and free agent signings, but will it be enough to make up 11 games which is how many games they were out of a playoff spot in 2014? The Diamondbacks are still stuck in between young and old, good and bad, rebuilding and contending. Good pieces but not enough of them. The Rockies are in trouble this year. They need a healthy Troy Tulowitzki, not in order to win a World Series, but in order to trade him away for more bodies.

Los Angeles Dodgers 93-69 (#1 Seed)
San Diego Padres 83-79
San Francisco Giants 82-80
Arizona Diamondbacks 77-85
Colorado Rockies 69-93

Awards

AL ROY: Daniel Norris over Rusney Castillo
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez over Carlos Carrasco
AL MVP: Mike Trout over Michael Brantley

NL ROY: Joc Pederson over Jorge Soler
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw over Max Scherzer
NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton over Andrew McCutchen

Playoffs

American League

Tigers over the Angels in the play-in game


Mariners over the Tigers in 4 games
Indians over the Yankees in 4 game

Mariners over the Indians in 6 games

National League

Marlins over the Cubs  in the play-in game

Dodgers over the Marlins in 4 games
Nationals over the Cardinals in 5 games

Nationals over the Dodgers in 6 games

World Series

Nationals over the Mariners in 6 games

World Series MVP Jordan Zimmermann



Monday, February 2, 2015

NFL Recap

I was this close again!!! After predicting a Denver-Seattle Super Bowl last year I figured there was no chance I'd ever get that close again. I went with Seattle to defeat New England with my all too early prediction for this season and lo and behold I hit the nail on the head again! With 15 minutes to play Seattle held a 24-14 lead and my predicted score of 27-16 looked pretty good. But as Geico has always said, a lot can change in just 15 minutes. New England roared back and took a late lead, but Seattle drove right back down the field and with less than a minute to play was one yard away from a back to back championship and turning me into a fatter, balder version of Nostradamus. One run by Marshawn Lynch and I was money! But no. Pete Carroll called for a pass, it was intercepted and Brady and Belichick cemented themselves as the greatest quarterback/coach duo in the history of the NFL. Kudos to them on a wonderful 4th quarter comeback that will forever be overshadowed by that final play. Do they have it in them to get back to a seventh Super Bowl before Brady hangs them up? Maybe, but you'll have to scroll down to see if I have picked them to repeat. As for the Seahawks, their window of having a cheap Russell Wilson is closed, Marshawn Lynch is a free agent and pissed so this might just be the end for their mini run. They will still be a heavy favorite to compete for a Super Bowl, but I believe it'll take at least a year or two to regroup after this debacle.

So lets look back at my predictions from my 4th annual NFL Crystal Ball and see just how horrid they were.

Breakout Candidates

Jay Cutler: Tied for the league lead in interceptions and was benched for the final game of the regular season. On a brighter note, was the starting quarterback on my fantasy football team that went 10-3 in the regular season (DeMarco Murray, Arian Foster and Jordy Nelson may have been on it too).

Andre Ellington: Played a lot more, but got injured and missed the final quarter of the season. Didn't live up to the hype, but was serviceable.

Joique Bell: More rushing, less receiving and the same total touchdowns from a year before. Maybe next year he puts it all together. Close, but no cigar.

Terrance Williams: Fewer targets, receptions and receiving yards than his rookie year, but scored 3 more touchdowns. He has all the makings of a star, but will have to settle for second fiddle with Dez in Big D.

Cordarrelle Patterson/Kyle Rudolph: I don't even know where to start with this debacle of a duo. Whether it was injury or lack of playing time or both, neither did anything of note while rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was showing glimpses of stardom.

Busts

Cam Newton: After a slow start, Cam looked more and more like the steady Cam by mid-season even overcoming a car accident and some broken ribs. Another swing and a miss.

Frank Gore: My annual prediction of his demise didn't exactly come true. Sure he is showing signs of wear and tear, but he still churned out 1100 yards rushing and 5 total touchdowns while starting all 16 games.

Pierre Garcon/DeSean Jackson: One yes, one no. I predicted 120 total catches and 2000 total yards: they went for 124 total catches and 1928 total yards. DeSean did most of the work of the pair, but this might have been my best prediction of the bunch.

As for MVP: I picked two quarterbacks and missed on both. Aaron Rodgers won (should've been J.J. Watt) while Drew Brees and Peyton Manning were great and awful at times.

Standings and Predicted Records (actual records in parenthesis) 

NFC EAST

Philadelphia Eagles 11-5 (10-6)
Dallas Cowboys 8-8 (12-4)
Washington Redskins 6-10 (4-12)
New York Giants 6-10 (6-10)

NFC NORTH

Green Bay Packers 13-3 (12-4)
Chicago Bears 11-5 (5-11)
Detroit Lions 9-7 (11-5)
Minnesota Vikings 6-10 (7-9)

NFC SOUTH

New Orleans Saints 12-4 (7-9)
Atlanta Falcons 8-8 (6-10)
Carolina Panthers 7-9 (7-8-1)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-11 (2-14)

NFC WEST

Seattle Seahawks 13-3 (12-4)
Arizona Cardinals 9-7 (11-5)
San Francisco 49ers 8-8 (8-8)
St. Louis Rams 7-9 (6-10)

AFC EAST

New England Patriots 13-3 (12-4)
New York Jets 6-10 (4-12)
Miami Dolphins 3-13 (8-8)
Buffalo Bills 3-13 (9-7)

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens 11-5 (10-6)
Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7 (11-5)
Cincinnati Bengals 9-7 (10-5-1)
Cleveland Browns 2-14 (7-9)

AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts 13-3 (11-5)
Tennessee Titans 6-10 (2-14)
Houston Texans 5-11 (9-7)
Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13 (3-13)

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos 13-3 (12-4)
Kansas City Chiefs 9-7 (9-7)
San Diego Chargers 7-9 (9-7)
Oakland Raiders 5-11 (3-13)



I went 5/8 in predicting division winners, but missed an AFC division winner for the first time in three years as the Ravens came up short to Pittsburgh before beating them in the playoffs.


Biggest misses were Chicago and Buffalo (six games off) New Orleans, Miami and Cleveland (5 games off)

But just when I was looking like a fool...along came the playoffs:

I had Seattle beating Green Bay in the NFC Championship game so that was good (even though Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans made me look silly).

In the AFC...ah near perfection. I had every single winner correct and outside of picking Kansas City over Cincinnati for the #6 seed went perfect!!! Baltimore over Pittsburgh: YES New England over Baltimore: YES Indianapolis over Denver: YES New England over Indianapolis: YES 

Can't do much better than that.

As for my all too early prediction for Super Bowl 50 where I am looking for three consecutive February bulls-eyes (Denver/Seattle, New England/Seattle) I am going: Green Bay to outscore Indianapolis and return the Lombardi Trophy to where it belongs for the leagues' 50th anniversary of the big game. Each team was a game away, but this will mark a changing of the guard in the AFC and Seattle might finally have to let some of their core walk away after two straight Super Bowl appearances.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FCNPFFL: Super Bowl

Another season in the books!!

Thank you to everyone for such a successful season. We had a ton of points scored and at least half the league had championship caliber rosters by seasons end.

I will always look to tweak the rules a bit to make everything more fair for everyone and I think I will add in a second waiver draft per week next year. I might move up the first waiver draft to around 9pm on Wednesday, open up K/D to free agent adding up until 9am on Sunday (or Saturday if there is a Saturday game), but then do a second waiver draft at noon on Saturday's for those who didn't pull the trigger on Wednesday or have had injuries affect them throughout the rest of the week. This way there should be a full and active roster at all times.

Of course I'll put it up to a vote.

We can always (even if Jody is upset about it) re-vote on anything that didn't pass last year because people have stated that they might have made a mistake in voting this past offseason.

When I reach out to everyone in July we can revisit this topic.

As for the Super Bowl...let's get right to the recap:

I was vying for my 5th Super Bowl while my opponent, Mike, was looking for his 1st title. With both sides having some injury concerns, the final projection for the game didn't hit until Sunday morning with CBS predicting a 96-92 victory for Mike. One of us got near our projection...the other ran out of luck.

With 5 players each playing at 1pm on Sunday, it was expected that our winner might emerge from that. Neither team did much scoring, but I held a decent lead behind 14 from Arian Foster (who threw a TD pass), 13 from Jordy Nelson and the newly added Panthers D who clawed out 12 points. Mike got 8 from Randall Cobb, 7 from Jimmy Graham (who lost 8 points on a goal line TD/Fumble call) and 6 from Jonas Gray.

The 4:30 game between Indianapolis and Dallas was going to tell the story. Mike had Andrew Luck going while I had Tony Romo and an injured DeMarco Murray. By 5:15 the game was over. The Cowboys trounced the Colts in the real world and the fantasy world behind 28 points and 4 TDs from Romo and 11 points and a TD from Murray. All three players were done playing by the middle of the 3rd quarter and the Super Bowl title was back in my hands.

Final Score: Escaped Lunatics 87 Bookoo Barbarians 26

As for the 3rd place game:

Jason II/Ike got 17 each from Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Cameron along with 16 from Emmanuel Sanders to run away from John who had a game high 26 points from Kyle Orton.

Final Score: Myra's College Fund 82 The Situation 57

Final Standings and payouts for 2014:

1st: Jason $375
2nd: Mike $165
3rd: Ike $75 (via Jason II)
4th: John $35
5th: Luke $10
6th: Joel
7th: Nate $10
8th: Matt
9th: Ben $20
10th: Alex
11th: Jody
12th: Adam
13th: Nick B $10
14th: Nick G

So 8/14 took home some money which is always nice to see.

Nick G you are on draft board duties so no missing the draft for a hockey game/preseason Redskins game/etc.....

Until 2015...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

FCNPFFL: Playoffs - Semifinals

So much for good teams scoring a ton of points. Just like last week, teams that had spent all season tickling triple digits barely scored half as much. I can't even chalk up the low scoring due to injuries, it's just been bad play all around. The games this week were a bit more competitive, but both decided before Monday night.

Waivers will still be ran late Wednesday night.

Thursday night is the annual FCNP holiday party from 5:30-8pm. It is also the time where I hand out money just in time for some late season shopping.

Please let me know if you plan on attending to pick up your $$ so I bring the right amount.

Onto the games:

My semifinal game was against fellow 17 year veteran of the league, John. He was the last Hardi standing after both sons were knocked out in the quarterfinal round. I got things started off properly Thursday night with a solid 16 point effort from the Arizona defense. Then the scoring dried up once Sunday's action started. During the 1pm games, I had 5 players going while John had just 3 players. The top scoring player of those 8 was Arian Foster for me who mustered just 10 points. The door was wide open for John during the 4pm games with Megatron going. Unfortunately the drought continued as Calvin and the Vikings D combined for a paltry 6 points and the left everything up to the Sunday night game for John to stay in it. He had his two Eagles going while I had DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys won and Murray outscored the two Eagles 20-17 and the game was over. Jay Cutler added 17 points on MNF to wrap things up. I move on to my 7th Championship Game (4-2 previously).

Final Score: Escaped Lunatics 77 The Situation 47

In the other half of the bracket, the was even less (or is it fewer?)combined points scored. Jason II/Ike took on Mike in a competitive, albeit low scoring affair. Things started poorly for Mike as Rashad Jennings re-injured his ankle after one carry. MCF couldn't take advantage as Isaiah Crowell struggled along with the entire Browns teams, scratching out just a single point. Luckily for both, their QBs were their teams strength all season long, but Sunday was not their best effort. Aaron Rodgers had his worst game as a professional at Buffalo finishing with just 9 fantasy points. Andrew Luck wasn't much better, but just enough better tallying 17 points. The game stayed close as MCF got 14 from the Giants defense, but Mike countered with a huge 15 point effort from Connor Barth. MCF needed at least 15 points from their kicker, Dan Bailey, to keep the game going, but he only chipped in 9 points. Game over. Mike moves on to his second Championship Game (0-1 previously).

Final Score: Bookoo Barbarians 59 Myra's College Fund 50

SUPER BOWL 17

#1 Escaped Lunatics (Jason) 11-3 vs. #2 Bookoo Barbarians (Mike) 10-4


3rd place consolation game:

#3 Myra's College Fund (Jason II/Ike) vs. #4 The Situation (John)


In the other games from Week 15:

Luke took 5th place by beating his brother behind 30 from Drew Brees 77-50

Nate earned 7th place over Matt with 25 from ODB 80-73

Ben finished in 9th place by beating Alex with 25 from Dez Bryant 81-60

Jody claimed 11th place over Adam with an 18 point effort from Big Ben 60-52

TOILET BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP

Nick B destroyed Nick G relegating him officially to draft board dunce duties for draft night next year with 22 each from Tom Brady and the Bengals D.

Final Score: The Knacks 85 Lollipop Kids 49

So that's it...see everyone Thursday!!!