Friday, December 28, 2012

Did You See That: 2012 Year-End Awards

Last year, to send off 2011, I gave out some unique awards to honor the best... or the worst... of last year. Now since another year has come and gone, time to hand out the 2012 awards. This doesn't have the prestige of the Golden Globes or Grammy's, but these are just as important, but much funnier.

The "Mayans/World Isn't Really Ending" Award: The NHL Lockout

The Mayans "predicted" the world would end on December 21, and since I'm writing this piece now, that clearly didn't happen. The NHL lockout has been on since mid-September, and it's been everything from hilariously asinine, to infuriatingly asinine. But today, right before the awards were given, the NHL might have presented another offer to the players, and it's been rumored that owners won't stand another cancelled season (what a stunner). So yes NHL fans, the world isn't really ending, despite what the internet has told you. Sometimes, your twitter timeline isn't your best friend.

The "Biggest Insult to Journalism Ever" Award: Skip Bayless AND Rob Parker

I could just copy and paste the award from last year for Skippy and no one would be any the wiser. But, Rob Parker deserves inclusion this time around, because he is a cornball brother for suggesting anyone is a cornball brother. I still have no idea what that means, and I really don't want to.

The "What Have you Done for me Lately" Award: Roman Abramovich

Sports are the best example of the award's title in the world today, and one person is the epitome of this, and he won the award, and would win it every year it's awarded. Roberto Di Matteo won Chelsea not only the FA Cup last year, but the UEFA Champions League (biggest club soccer competition in the world), and guess what? He still got axed anyway, because Abramovich has a twitchy trigger finger. How's Rafa Benitez working for you Roman? Probably just making Fernando Torres seem like a worthwhile transfer.

The "#NBCFail" Award: NBC's Olympic Coverage

Hey, the namesake of an award won it! These aren't the Razzies at all... Anyway, NBC must now hate this hashtag because of the twitter outrage this Summer during the 2012 London Olympics. Tape delaying the best events and forcing people to illegally stream all of the goodies does not a good Olympics make. Taking out segments of the opening ceremonies so Ryan Seacrest can blather to Michael Phelps wasn't such a good idea as well. Hopefully they've learned their lesson for their Premier League coverage next season.

The "Rich Kotite Award for Coaching Excellence": Andy Reid

This must be a small consolation prize for when he gets handed his pink slip on December 31. This whole year has been a masterclass of poor coaching decisions after poor coaching decisions, and not only is it fitting that he has only 4 wins to show for it, it's fitting that Reid wins the award named after a former Eagles coach.

The "Stunning Flameout" Award: Manchester City or Chelsea in the Champions League Group Stage

Take your pick.

The "Basketball Reasons" Award: David Stern

Not only does he lock your players out from playing the game they love, Gregg Popovich, but he'll fine your team $250,000 for not playing their best players against the Heat because he loves to see those TV ratings (not realizing the game was going up against an NFL one, but I digress). Oh wait, that happened to you Gregg? Sorry. He apparently had "basketball reasons" for doing so. Ask Mitch Kupchak.

The "Money Can't Buy You Happiness" Award: LA Dodgers and Anaheim Angels

This award deserves to be split between the two teams that have found the money growing trees that everyone else has been searching for, but that money didn't mean the playoffs for both of these teams. So, what do you do when the first time didn't work? Spend more money! Watch this space to see if they get the same award next year because they couldn't make the playoffs despite having a payroll larger than the GDP of Vanuatu.

And finally...

The "We Should have been Soccer Refs" Award: Scab Refs in the GB/SEA MNF game

This award was handed out last year to refs in a Toledo/Syracuse game because they couldn't tell if a kick was made or not. But this is much worse... so why not relive it for yourself?

Those are the 2012 Year-End awards. To the winners, heartfelt "congratulations". And to those who didn't win, you have 365 days next year to put yourself in position to win for the first time (here's hoping you don't try to).

2012 Week 17 Fantasy Advice

People still play fantasy in Week 17? That should be illegal, right? *Checks Internet*... I guess it isn't, so I have to write a column for you this week. Aren't people aware some teams mail it in during Week 17? I'm not going to, but please schedule more championships for Week 16 in 2013.

Who to Start:

QB Tony Romo (DAL) vs. WSH: Tony Romo in a championship game? Sounds funny, but the Redskins D did give up 340 passing yards to Nick Foles last week, and Romo has been playing incredibly well in the past 4 games, and the pace should continue in this win-and-in game.

RB C.J Spiller (BUF) vs. NYJ: He's becoming a legit #1 fantasy RB option, and going up against the porous Jets rushing defense on Sunday, that pace could continue. He had a big game in Week 1 against the Jets, and that could happen again.

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. NO: Cam Newton has resurrected Steve Smith's fantasy value this season, and he's been incredibly hot over the last 4 games for the Panthers. That will likely continue against the Saints, who have one of the worst pass defenses in football.

WR Greg Jennings (GB) vs. MIN: He's scored 7 TD's in his last 6 games against the Vikings, and while the Packers have something to play for, Jennings should see targets and therefore fantasy points.

TE Antonio Gates (SD) vs. OAK: While he has been bad this year for fantasy purposes, he has had 2 decent games in a row, and that's enough to feel comfortable with him starting against the Raiders on Sunday, whose defense is still pretty bad, especially against the TE.

DEF Denver vs. KC: You know what the explanation for this is already.

Who to Sit:

QB Josh Freeman (TB) vs. ATL: Someone might need to call in a rescue service for Freeman's fantasy stature. He's been really bad at times during the Bucs current 5 game losing streak, and despite possibly playing against Falcons backups, I don't trust him, and neither should you.

RB Mikel Leshoure (DET) vs. CHI: He's been finding the endzone very easily of late, but he struggled in the first meeting between the 2 teams, and the Bears have been very good at shutting down running backs this season.

WR Steve Johnson (BUF) vs. NYJ: He has a tough matchup against Antonio Cromartie Sunday in Orchard Park, so that makes him a tough start despite his recent form. The Jets secondary has been pretty good this year sans Revis Island, and I doubt it stops this week.

WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) vs. SF: Brian Hoyer? Seriously?

TE Brandon Myers (OAK) vs. SD: Hot doesn't always mean useful or a good start, and since Brandon Myers has been hot, I have to throw up the caution flag. Matt Leinart is also going to start, so that would make even more sense Sunday.

DEF Dallas vs. WSH: This game has the makings of a shootout in FedEx Sunday night, so starting the Dallas defense to win you a fantasy championship is not likely a good idea.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. PHI: His form of late has been bad, but going up against the beleaguered Eagles defense could change that, but he has struggled against bad Eagles teams before in his career, so that's why he's here and not in the start column.

WR Jeremy Maclin (PHI) vs. NYG: Mike Vick is back, so that could mean good things for Maclin's fantasy numbers, and also going up against the Giants secondary that has been torched over the past 2 weeks will also help.

DEF Tennessee vs. JAX: The Jags offense has been close to non-existent at many points this season, and they've been decimated by injuries on that side of the football as well, so the Titans could have a big game on that side of the ball.

Buyer Beware:

Any Players on a Team that has Already Clinched: This seems obvious, and many coaches say they are going all out, but believe it when you see it. When they get pulled, you'll know why, and you and your fantasy team should be prepared.

So ends another year of fantasy advice, the 3rd on this blog, and the 4th overall. It's been great fun, and I hope you've at least taken some of it to heart when setting your lineups. Thanks to Michael Fabiano, who has no idea what this column is, but his column has helped me provide the skeleton for mine, and I have to give him credit for that. And as always,

Good Luck in Week 17, and have a happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 Week 16 Fantasy Advice

Happy Championship Week, people! If you're reading this, you're obviously in a championship game, so these picks are the most important ones of the season, and could be making money soon. So, I hope I was of service to you this season, and don't blame me if you lose this week.

Who to Start:

QB Tony Romo (DAL) vs. NO: Romo has been playing nearly flawless football of late, and it should be continuing this week against the Saints, because their defense aside from last week has been just terrible against the pass this season.

RB Stevan Ridley (NE) vs. JAX: Whether he loses carries to Danny Woodhead or not, this is a fantastic matchup for Ridley against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL in Jacksonville. Tom Brady may have very little to do this weekend at this rate.

WR Eric Decker (DEN) vs. CLE: Cleveland has been up and down defending the pass this season, and when you go up against Peyton Manning, you can assume which one of the two is going to happen. Decker had a huge game last week, has a great matchup this week to do that again.

WR Pierre Garcon (WSH) vs. PHI: Even if RG3 doesn't start and KC1 does, the Eagles secondary has been a sieve of late, and that bodes well for Garcon who has 3 TD's over his last 4 games since coming back from injury.

TE Greg Olsen (CAR) vs. OAK: Olsen has been playing very well during Carolina's 3 game winning streak, and Olsen should continue his run of form against the absolutely wretched Oakland defense which has had major struggles at times defending the Tight End.

DEF Indianapolis vs. KC: The Chiefs couldn't score a point against the Raiders last week, or muster a first down until the 3rd quarter. The Colts defense should be in for a fantasy field day.

Who to Sit:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. NYJ: In the matchup of two underachieving former AFC superpowers, Rivers could be in for some major struggles against the side of the ball for the Jets that gets no credit for being solid all season.

RB Beanie Wells (ARZ) vs. CHI: He had a big game last week against the Lions, but this week the Bears come calling, and they've only allowed 4 rushing TD's all season. Beanie should be wearing one on your fantasy bench this week.

WR Steve Johnson (BUF) vs. MIA: This matchup normally might be decent, but Johnson has been very poor in past games against the Dolphins, as he's never had more than 85 yards in any game against them and has never scored a TD against them either.

WR Denarius Moore (OAK) vs. CAR: The Panthers secondary is young, but underrated and under-heralded, and they should be able to shut down Moore and company this Sunday.

TE Vernon Davis (SF) vs. SEA: He has had a very poor fantasy season this year, and going up against the Seahawks defense won't help matters, considering they've allowed the fewest fantasy points to this position this season.

DEF Baltimore vs. NYG: Look at how far the mighty have fallen. In their current 3 game losing streak, the Ravens defense has been pretty terrible, and the Giants offense comes into this game off being shut out, looking for some penance. This doesn't bode well for Baltimore.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Sam Bradford (STL) vs. TB: He's been quietly putting up big numbers for the Rams over the past couple of weeks, and he goes up against a Bucs defense that has been shredded during their current 4 game losing streak. Bradford is a nice sleeper option.

RB Mikel Leshoure (DET) vs. ATL SAT: The Falcons have struggled to stop the run all season, and Leshoure has been really improving as a runner this season for the Lions. This matchup bodes well if you need a flex option this weekend.

DEF Washington vs. PHI: I know the Redskins defense has been iffy at points this season, but after the recent performances for the Eagles, you can see why the Redskins D is a good fantasy sleeper option this week.

Buyer Beware:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. BAL: I know I recommended to bench the Ravens D in fantasy this week, but that doesn't mean Eli will guaranteed have a big game. He can either be perfectly on point on the road, or perfectly off point, and there's no telling what will happen this week. Start with caution if you must.

Good Luck in Week 16, and have a Merry Christmas if you're celebrating!

Did You See That: NFL Christmas Wishes

The Christmas shopping season is close to ending, and some NFL teams have a long and lengthy wishlist for Santa. They didn't go to their local shopping mall to sit on Santa's knee, but the fans have, and Santa has a lot to comb through in order to fulfill all of the wishes. So, I'm going to help him out by making a short, concise list for him. Getting in the Christmas spirit is fun...

Philadelphia Eagles: "There are donuts in the endzone, Andy!" will no longer be a useful catchphrase to say at Eagles games. Eagles fans want a QB that doesn't turn it over every possession (Matt's suggestion: Mark Sanchez), a defense that can stop a fly, and maybe another player like Vince Papale... that's how far they've fallen people.

San Diego Chargers: The good news for Chargers fans is that most fans have not seen any of the terrible home games because they were all blacked out. The bad news is they still have to see the road games. Is it finally the end for Norv and AJ? Chargers fans certainly hope so, and they'd also like a QB that doesn't turn the ball over every other play (Mike Vick?). Most of all, the Chargers want to go back to the glory days of Stan Humphries and Bobby Ross... Just wow.

Buffalo Bills: Will it ever go right for this team? Santa has no answer, but I say you should blame Robo-Sack. They spend all of the money in the off-season on the defensive side of the ball, unfortunately that money was about as well spent as Skip Bayless' ESPN paycheck (#FreeDisney). The Bills would like a QB who plays like he's Harvard educated at some times, or a young clone of Jim Kelly. Either works.

Jacksonville Jaguars: When it's worse than the expansion year, you know it's bad. Jaguars fans ask Santa for a GM that wants to try to hit for a home run every now and again, instead of grounding out to first trying to hit singles, a QB that makes them think of Mark Brunell every now and again and not Steve Beurlein, and finally can the AJHG calm down and let the Jags play at least one season without entire team on IR? #BecauseJaguars

Kansas City Chiefs: Would Chiefs fans like their team to be completely irrelevant and terrible, or pretty good and always find new ways to choke in the playoffs? Being snakebit is fun, isn't it? Santa tells me their fans want everything to change for this team, and it seems that nothing has ever gone right for this team. They want to be somewhat decent next year, but Santa can't help the fans out and Scott Pioli out at the same time, sadly.

Oakland Raiders: The black hole has become the black hole of football since a 2002 Super Bowl run, and this year hasn't helped matters. "Just win, baby" has been replaced with "Just win, maybe?". The Raiders want to play the Chiefs more often, and they want a defense that can stop something. Santa needs some help here.

That's all I could get out of Santa, so have a Merry Christmas if you celebrate, and hope that your Christmas shopping is easier than his work.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012 Week 15 Fantasy Advice

We're almost to the end of the season, which is much needed for some people (me), and pushed off by others. Fantasy playoffs are now in full swing, so every single start you make is important. No one is resting anybody this week, so fantasy disaster is not likely. It's still the NFL though.

Who to Start:

QB Josh Freeman (TB) vs. NO: In the first meeting between the 2 NFC South rivals, Freeman threw for 420 yards against the Saints porous secondary. Based on last week, there is no reason to think that Freeman can't do that again.

RB Reggie Bush (MIA) vs. JAX: While he's not been consistent on the stat sheet this season, he's going up against one of the worst rush defenses in the league in Jacksonville, who has just been ripped by the Bills and Jets in consecutive weeks.

WR Marques Colston (NO) vs. TB: This game at the Superdome is going to be a shootout, isn't it? Colston should have a monster game against the Bucs secondary that had trouble defending Nick Foles last week.

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. SD: Lost in Carolina's 4-9 season has been the success of long time Panther Steve Smith. He's been hot of late, and he's going up against a Chargers secondary that has allowed a league high 18 TD passes this season.

TE Owen Daniels (HOU) vs. IND: I think Houston smells redemption in the water after being blown out in Foxborough, and the Colts struggle to defend the Tight End. Owen Daniels is going to benefit big time from these facts.

DEF Detroit vs. ARZ: The Cardinals have scored 6 points in their last 2 games and have cycled between 2 horrible QB's during the same time. The Lions D is poor, but they'll have a huge game against the Cardinals here.

Who to Sit:

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) vs. SEA in TOR: Fitz has been playing better of late, but he's going up against one of the best secondaries in football when he takes the Rogers Centre field on Sunday afternoon. It doesn't look good for the Harvard grad.

RB Michael Turner (ATL) vs. NYG: He's not the same running back as he was in the past, and he might have some major struggles against the Giants rush defense, which has been very stout on the road recently.

WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) vs. DET: You have to sit the poor guy now, based on the way his QB's have been playing. Even though the matchup isn't good or bad, I can't trust him to put up big numbers with the QB production he's had to deal with.

WR Torrey Smith (BAL) vs. DEN: Smith can either have huge fantasy games, or very mediocre ones. The past few games have leaned towards the mediocre category, and the with the Broncos underrated secondary coming in, it's hard to imagine Smith having a big game.

TE Jermichael Finley (GB) vs. CHI: He was held to 26 yards only last time against Chicago in Week 2, and even though his fantasy value shot up after Week 11, it's not going to go well for Finley in Chicago.

DEF San Diego vs. CAR: Cam Newton is on fire right now, and even though the Chargers defense is not the problem area for this team, it's hard to recommend them for a starting role on Sunday.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Colin Kaepernick (SF) vs. NE: He's been a very decent fantasy option, but regardless of that, he has a decent matchup against the Pats secondary this weekend. Even though they've been playing better, I'm not so sure it will go well for them this time round.

RB Shonn Greene (NYJ) vs. TEN MON: Greene has been splitting carries with Bilal Powell of late, but he had a good game in Jacksonville last weekend, and he should have another one against the possibly porous Titans rush D.

DEF Miami vs. JAX: That Chad Henne scoreboard lighting up in Houston feels like a distant memory now doesn't it? Their offensive line is a shambles, and that could prove to be huge for the Dolphins D.

Buyer Beware:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. ATL: He's had big games of late, but the Falcons D has been stout at home this season, including picking off Peyton 3 times back in Week 2. Eli could be in trouble on the stat sheet this week.

Good Luck in Week 15!

How Early is too Early?

Sports are getting younger. This is news to a small amount of those reading this, but sports are getting younger than ever before. The proof is in the hype coming out of Canada for 2 young hockey players, that have sent scouts wild. Connor McDavid, a center who plays for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, has drawn comparisons to players like Sidney Crosby and... (deep breath)... Wayne Gretzky. Reebok clearly buys those comparisons, as they have now sponsored McDavid, who is only 15. Over in Michigan, defenseman Sean Day plays minor midget at age 14, and scouts have raved about him being one of the best young defenseman they have ever seen. Canada has gone crazy over their new hockey phenoms. This hype brings up questions for me, and the biggest one is: How early is too early to start going gaga over a young player in any sport?

McDavid and Day are 15 and 14 respectively, meaning they are in 9th and 8th grade. I don't know how many of my readers had the hype machine churning at full tilt about them at such a young age, and I doubt that if you did, you'd really know how to deal with it. These kids are more apt to deal with the hype than at any other point in sports history, but at 15, you have to wonder if these adults have anything else better to do. Not to say that McDavid and Day won't be amazing players in Junior, or even the NHL when they get drafted in a few years time, but it seems way too early to start gushing over players who are 2-3 years away from NHL draft eligibility. And Reebok sponsoring McDavid at just 15? That opens up a brand new can of worms that is very, very scary to think about. Even if the players can deal with the hype, if the people around them can't, then it is going to end badly.

Hockey in Canada is not the only sport that churns the hype machine to extreme levels. Every single sports media outlet did that with Lebron back in 2002, and he was only 16. He lived up to the hype, but there are many others that could have had the hype, but fail to live up to it. And don't even start with soccer, when sometimes players have the scouts, and the papers, eyes zeroed in on them at incredibly young ages. There's even a Barcelona player in the "La Masia" academy that has been nicknamed "The Japanese Messi" at age 11. Usually, the hype machine waits until a player is 16 or 17 to start really churning up, but soccer sometimes picks their new goldenboys at much too young ages. So, it's not just hockey, but it's indicative of a problem.

Even if these kids can deal with all the hype that surrounds their talents, they are still just teenagers, and there is no way of knowing if they can handle it for the long amounts of time that the spotlight will be on them. The younger the "stars" are, the more hype they get, and the longer they have to deal with the inflated expectations and the spotlight. Older players have crumbled underneath the bright lights before, and while that might have been a different time in sports history, those players were at least in their young 20's, or even 18. They were not freshman in High School. I don't want to see the hype get to these players, and their play suffers because of it, but sometimes it's hard to get the media to back off when the future star bells are ringing. It's not fair, but it's the truth.

On current trends, younger and younger athletes will get the same hype as today's Connor McDavid's or Alen Halilovic's. That's why the hype machine needs to cool off on today's 14, 15, and 16 year old stars in any sport, because if they can deal with it, the media will then assume even younger players can deal with the limelight. And I'm not quite sure that they can, and maybe when one of them sadly flames out will the media learn to back off. Until then, we just get to hear the exploits of McDavid in Erie or hear about the Japanese Messi in training all the time, until they finally hit the big time. They might deserve the accolades, but they don't deserve the spotlight on them all the time. They have lives to lead, and I wonder when the media will ever let them have one.

How early is too early? Based on today's hype, 14 isn't. What will be?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Did You See That: How to Stay Occupied During the Heisman Ceremony

The Heisman trophy is one of the most coveted and beloved awards in all of sports. The pose is iconic, just as the legacy of the winners is. The ceremony... not so much. Everyone knows not to tune into the ceremony until the last 5 minutes, because the winner is only announced in the last 5 minutes. But if you're a member of the audience, how do you stay occupied before, during, and after the 1 hour of gushing over the finalists, and listening to Joe Tessitore try to sound like John King? Here are a few suggestions.

1.) Live Tweet the Ceremony from the Theater Floor: Just make sure that you do that when the cameras are not facing you. That would be pretty awkward.

2.) Play Heisman Buzzword Bingo: We've all seen this before, so why not add the Heisman Ceremony to the mix? The mentioning of Archie Griffin is a free space, by the way.

3.) See how many former Heisman Winners You Can Name: Sure, it's easy to name guys like Bradford, Griffin, Leinart, etc. But try remembering Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier, and Rashaan Salaam off the top of your head (those first two were not a slight against Nebraska, by the way).

4.) Play the Heisman Ceremony Drinking Game: On second thought, better leave that one to the college football bloggers on twitter.

5.) Chat up the media covering the event: They can't even cover the ceremony from the inside, and have to watch it on TV, so they're likely to be just as bored as you are, and will be happy to talk to someone about something other than the vote.

6.) Photobomb: Seems childish and stupid, but wouldn't you love to tell your buddies back home you did that? You'd also be written about on Deadspin, although that might not be such a good thing.

7.) Gloat to your friends: This also seems childish, but you're in the audience during the Heisman Ceremony and they aren't. As an aside, isn't gloating fun? Texting is the easy way to do this, but be low key about it.

8.) Remind yourself that at some point, you'd be sick about being gushed over 24/7: The Heisman finalists are thankful for getting proverbial media lap dances for the week leading up to the vote on the surface, but at a point, they have to get sick of it... right?

9.) Remind yourself you are probably more successful than some Heisman Winners: Chris Weinke, Jason White, Danny Wuerffel, etc. were all pretty big NFL flops, so at least you're not a flop like them.

Try these things out if you are lucky enough to be invited to sit in on the ceremony next year... Actually, it's more fun to watch it at home since you don't have to suffer through the first 55 minutes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2012 Week 14 Fantasy Advice

We're already here, and the NFL season should not go by this fast (me being a Jaguars fan excluded). It's now truly fantasy playoff time, so every pick is crucial. That's why you're reading this... I hope.

Who to Start:

QB Andrew Luck (IND) vs. TEN: He was on fire against the Lions last Sunday, and his matchup Sunday against the Titans is also very favorable. Their pass defense has been atrocious this season, and Luck has been very good at home as well.

RB Shonn Greene (NYJ) vs. JAX: He's a bit of a risk to start, but going up against the Jags rush D that got shredded last Sunday in Buffalo, he should at least put up some sort of decent stat line.

WR Marques Colston (NO) vs. NYG: The Giants secondary has been up and down this season, and the downs have happened mainly at home. That bodes well for Colston, who is due for a good game after a 10 day layoff.

WR Hakeem Nicks (NYG) vs. NO: On the other side, Hakeem Nicks is going up against a Saints secondary that has been pretty terrible this season as well, and Eli is due for a good game after a less-than-stellar effort on Monday Night.

TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) vs. CHI: Even though the matchup on paper is poor, Rudolph has scored a TD in 3 straight games for the Vikings. Since Percy Harvin is now on IR, there is a good chance Rudolph will continue his pace.

DEF Seattle vs. ARZ: Despite losing Brandon Browner to suspension, these are the Cardinals, and the 'Hawks are at home.

Who to Sit:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. PIT: Since the Chargers haven't beaten a team not named Kansas City since September, it's hard to trust Rivers at this point, especially against the Steelers D which is now on a roll.

RB Beanie Wells (ARZ) vs. SEA: Wells was poor last week against an iffy Jets rush D, and now he goes up against a rush D in Seattle that has been stout against everyone not named Adrian Peterson. I'd bench Beanie.

WR Miles Austin (DAL) vs. CIN: The Bengals have an underrated secondary, and they've won 4 in a row now. Austin's fantasy numbers can either be fantastic or non-existent, and against the Bengals, they're more likely to be non-existent.

WR Justin Blackmon (JAX) vs. NYJ: There are two reasons why you should bench Blackmon. One, he'll likely be matched up against Antonio Cromartie, and two, everyone saw last week why Chad Henne isn't the answer for the Jags at QB, while Blackmon had a bad case of the dropsies.

TE Brandon Pettigrew (DET) vs. GB: He's been very good in his last couple of games, but the Packers have shut him down big time in the 4 times he's played the Pack. Also, Green Bay has been very good at defending the Tight End this season.

DEF Houston vs. NE MON: Do I really have to explain this one?

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Colin Kaepernick (SF) vs. MIA: I know he was bad last Sunday, but the Fins don't have a very good pass defense, as evidenced by the last couple of weeks. Kaepernick is also due for a good game on home turf.

WR Jeremy Maclin (PHI) vs. TB: This is the definition of a super-sleeper. While the Eagles offense has been mediocre under Nick Foles, the Bucs secondary is easily torched by opposing QB's. Maclin has a chance on Sunday to put up big numbers.

TE Dennis Pitta (BAL) vs. WSH: I know Joe Flacco struggles on the road, but the Redskins defense is still pretty bad, and they have major issues defending the Tight End, in fact they are the worst fantasy wise against the position at home.

Buyer Beware:

WR Mike Wallace (PIT) vs. SD: He's hard to bench, but he's really struggled since Big Ben was shelved. Even if he does come back, I'd expect Pittsburgh to run more than pass on Sunday, meaning Wallace once again could be limited.

Good Luck in Week 14!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2012 Week 13 Fantasy Advice

Games in December are almost here, and now the weather starts to play a huge role in setting your lineups as we get close to playoff time. For some people, that is. As Mike Mularkey said about playing Buffalo on Sunday, "It's cold for them too".

Who to Start:

QB Tony Romo (DAL) vs. PHI: I actually underestimated how bad the Eagles have been in their 7 game losing streak, until I watched them play Carolina on Monday Night. By that token, Tony Romo can right all of the wrongs he has accumulated with a big performance.

RB C.J Spiller (BUF) vs. JAX: He should see the majority of the carries on Sunday, and going up against a sketchy Jacksonville rush defense (with newly acquired Jason Babin), should provide some big benefits for Spiller's fantasy owners.

WR Hakeem Nicks (NYG) vs. WSH MON: Nicks has been fighting injuries most of the season, but he seems to be healthier now, and it couldn't come at a better time. The Redskins secondary has been pretty bad this season, so Nicks figures to have a big game at FedEx.

WR Eric Decker (DEN) vs. TB: The Bucs will now be without Eric Wright as he serves a 4 game suspension, and that won't help them going up against Peyton Manning at Mile High, so Eric Decker figures to see major benefits from that.

TE Owen Daniels (HOU) vs. TEN: Daniels had a huge game against the Titans in Week 4, and he can very easily do that again on Sunday, since the Titans are one of the worst teams at defending the TE, fantasy-wise.

DEF New York Jets vs. ARZ: The Jets have 10 days between their New England drubbing and Arizona coming to MetLife, so the sting of the loss should have worn off. Oh, and Arizona is starting Ryan Lindley.

Who to Sit:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. CIN: He has been pretty poor this season fantasy-wise, and it doesn't help that the Bengals are coming to town, who do have an underrated secondary in tow.

RB Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) vs. BAL: Not only is the matchup for the Steelers bad in Baltimore, but rumors have Mendenhall falling to 3rd on the Steelers RB depth chart. Considering what's ahead of him, that hurts.

WR Dwayne Bowe (KC) vs. CAR: Brady Quinn. That says it all, along with Carolina having a good secondary.

WR Brandon Lloyd (NE) vs. MIA: With the rise of Julian Edelman in fantasy land, someone on the Pats depth chart had to fall. The one who has fallen is Lloyd. He's not a reliable option, especially against a divisional rival like Miami.

TE Brandon Pettigrew (DET) vs. IND: Despite the Colts having other defensive struggles this season, they have been really good at shutting down opposing Tight Ends. Pettigrew is the next in line.

DEF St. Louis vs. SF: The Rams D had a big fantasy game last week, but that was Ryan Lindley and Arizona. Now, it's Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Colin Kaepernick (SF) vs. STL: Speaking of Kaepernick, he put up some big numbers the last 2 weeks. Even though he still might be raw, he is a very good option off the pine if you have no better ones.

WR Stevie Johnson (BUF) vs. JAX: He hasn't scored a TD since Week 7, but has put up 271 yards in his last 3 games. The Jags are getting very thin in the secondary, so Johnson could finally break through.

DEF Carolina vs. KC: I said it before, Brady Quinn. That is all.

Buyer Beware:

WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) vs. NYJ: I know he's hard to bench, but just look at his performances this year with very mediocre QB's throwing him the ball. Ryan Lindley might be the most mediocre of the lot. Combine that with going up against Antonio Cromartie, this won't be a comfortable day for Fitz, or his fantasy owners.

Good Luck in Week 13!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

2012 Week 12 Fantasy Advice

As Thanksgiving is now here, it is time to start thinking about what we might be thankful for. I am thankful that the NFL is playing, while other leagues continue to prove how stupid they are in insulting the fans by the day. Football is still king.

Who to Start:

QB Andrew Luck (IND) v. BUF: He struggled last week against the Pats, but the Bills defense has been pretty bad for most of the season, and they are much worse on the road than they are at home. Luck could have a big game this week.

RB Doug Martin (TB) vs. ATL: After LaRod Stephens-Howling ran through the Falcons defense last week, the "Muscle Hamster" (worst nickname ever) could do even more damage to the Falcons porous rush defense.

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. WSH THU: So long as Tony Romo is upright, Bryant will see the majority of the targets in any game. Also, the Redskins pass defense is still terrible, despite what happened last week, so Bryant could have another huge game for the Cowboys.

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. NYG: He is this year's Jordy Nelson with all the fantasy points he's racking up, and going up against the Giants at MetLife, he should rack up even more fantasy points. He's a must-start for this weekend.

TE Jermaine Gresham (CIN) vs. OAK: He hasn't had the best of seasons for the Bengals, but since he's going up against the absolute sieve of a Raiders defense, he's a decent option if you need a tight end for the weekend.

DEF Tennessee vs. JAX: Don't let last weekend's breakout performance fool you, the Jags have been awful at home this season for some reason. The Titans are coming off their bye, so they'll be well rested for a game that their defense could very well dominate.

Who to Sit:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. SD: Joe Flacco for some reason doesn't like playing on the road, since he's pretty bad when he does. Not that the Chargers are an amazing defense, but there is legit reason to not trust Flacco in a road start, fantasy-wise.

RB Mark Ingram (NO) vs. SF: He did have a breakout game against the Raiders, but he has two factors working against him for this week. One is the possible return of Darren Sproles, who could eat into his carries. Two is the 49ers rush defense, which is pretty good.

WR DeSean Jackson (PHI) vs. CAR MON: If Nick Foles starts again, it's hard to trust Jackson to put up the big numbers he usually can put up. Even with Vick, he still is a gamble because of his overall struggles, and an underrated Carolina secondary.

WR Malcolm Floyd (SD) vs. BAL: The Ravens defense had a resurgence last Sunday in Pittsburgh, and now they go up against the floundering Chargers offense, which won't help Floyd any. Danario Alexander is also taking away targets from Floyd, making him an even less decent fantasy option.

TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) vs. CHI: He's a risk this week because of his matchup against the Bears defense, but also because his QB, Christian Ponder, could have an absolutely horrid game against a defense that desperately needs to rebound after getting embarrassed on Monday.

DEF New York Jets vs. NE THU: The Pats put up 59 last week. Of course I'm going to suggest benching the Jets D.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Jake Locker (TEN) vs. JAX: Of his bye, Locker could have a big game against a Jags secondary that was absolutely shredded by Matt Schaub and the Texans last Sunday.

RB Marcel Reece (OAK) vs. CIN: Once again, Reece should see most of the carries for the Raiders this Sunday, and the Bengals defense has struggled against the run some, so Reece could be in for another decent game.

WR Michael Crabtree (SF) vs. NO: Since he's going up against the putrid Saints secondary, he could have a big game while the Saints D tries to take out Frank Gore and Vernon Davis.

Buyer Beware:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. BAL: Just look to last week to see why Rivers is a sketchy option, and playing against the Ravens doesn't help that much.

Good Luck in Week 12, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tradition... Tradition?

Full Disclosure: I am currently a freshman at the University of Maryland. 

"Tradition" is a word that is bandied about in sports all the time, especially when dealing with college sports. This explicit narrative has been thrown out during the conference re-alignment madness that has been going on for nearly 3 years now, and it always seems to end with, "Tradition is dead". The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines tradition as, "an inherited, established, or customary practice of thought, action or behavior (as a religious practice or social custom)" and "a belief... relating to the past that is commonly accepted as historical though non-verifiable". That last part should strike a chord with the dis-illusioned amongst the college sports landscape. Are these "traditions" that have been going on for years just beliefs or customs that feel real, but are just mirages?

Look to the University of Maryland, which just jumped ship from the ACC, of which it was a founding member back in 1953, to go to the Big 10. Like many of the other schools that changed conferences since 2010, Maryland had some good reasons to change conferences. The big reason was of course, money. But, this is different from schools like Texas A&M, West Virginia, and others who just wanted to stuff their coffers a bit more. This past July, Maryland cut 7 varsity athletic programs because they didn't have the money to sustain those programs. Compile that with high paying contracts to Randy Edsall and Mark Turgeon, and empty seats in a newly expanded Byrd Stadium, the athletic department was beginning to bleed red ink. In order to assure its survival, the Big 10 comes calling with a lucrative TV rights contract, plus a conference TV network with immense revenue, to save the Maryland athletic department from itself. The academic advantages of switching conferences don't hurt either. So in every respect, this is a money move from the Maryland Regents. They are not the ones (mostly) though, lamenting the loss of 60 years of "tradition" in the ACC. My question is, what tradition?

Maryland doesn't really have rivals in an Ohio State-Michigan sense, or better yet, a Duke-UNC sense. Maryland fans might see Duke as a rival in basketball, but whether the feelings are mutual is highly doubtful. Maryland in the ACC might have made sense in 1953, when ideologies between UMD and North Carolina schools were better lined up, but since they aren't anymore, the ACC has become a Carolina-centric conference while Maryland lies on the outside. And ask a Terp fan about a football rival, and you'll get solely awkward silence. This is not of Maryland's own volition, but a by-product of what has happened in the histories of these athletic programs in the ACC. When Maryland's program was in a down time, the other NC schools were up, and when UNC was down in the early 2000's, Maryland filled the void temporarily. That has switched since then. The "tradition" of Duke-Maryland doesn't really exist on one side of the coin, so does that mean the claim to "tradition" was non-verifiable? Maryland's "tradition" was built in the ACC, but when times change, so do practices and beliefs. Holding onto old beliefs is what gets people in trouble, and is why those who don't adapt with the times often get left out in the cold.

Even though schools like Texas A&M, Nebraska, and West Virginia left "traditions" in their old conferences, they will create new ones because times dictated they had to. Just blindly claiming "tradition" is a reason to avoid change when it is needed is why history often repeats itself, and just look to any history textbook to see that in action. Sports are no exception to this principle. College sports have the most "traditions" of any major player on the American sports scene, but sometimes those have to fade to black in order for advancement. Every time a major school changes conference affiliation, those steadfast to "tradition" lament the death of "traditions", yet over time, new ones develop and those people adapt with the times just like the school. Penn State did it, Arkansas did it, South Carolina did it, and so did many others. Some will even argue they had more "tradition" than other schools who bolted for other conferences. The point is, when old "traditions" die, new ones are born from them, and holding to those old "traditions" to death is not the way to look at the world when it is constantly changing.

If traditions are in fact, "beliefs... relating to the past commonly accepted as historical though non-verifiable", then college sports "traditions" are the epitome of that. Some stand the test of time, while others understandably die off. If another school jumps conferences and "traditions" die, remember that old beliefs and practices don't always stand the test of time, as well they shouldn't.

Humans are the most adaptive species on the planet Earth. Why can't one of their creations be the same?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012 Week 11 Fantasy Advice

I don't what's scarier: The fact that we are already at Week 11 of this NFL season already, or the fact that my fantasy picks are getting better, slowly but surely. You can pick that one for yourself.


Who to Start:

QB Carson Palmer (OAK) vs. NO: Yes, he turns the ball over a ton. But, look at the numbers he puts up, mainly because his team is always trailing. This week, he goes up against the sieve that is the New Orleans Saints pass defense, so he'll be in for another gaudy stat line.

RB Stevan Ridley (NE) vs. IND: Even though the motto usually is "never trust any New England running back", Ridley is the best option of many in that Patriot backfield. He should have a big game against a Colts defense that struggles mightily against the run.

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. TB: Even though he hasn't done very much this season, he is a must start when the matchup goes in his favor. The Panthers host the Bucs this Sunday, meaning that the matchup is well in the Panthers court.

WR Eric Decker (DEN) vs. SD: He didn't do much of anything last week against Carolina, but the Chargers are different animal. Looking at how opposing WR's have been doing against the Bolts recently, Decker is a pretty easy option to start on Sunday.

TE Antonio Gates (SD) vs. DEN: Maybe the lone bright spot for the Chargers all season has been Gates, and his good play should continue against the Broncos defense that does really struggle to defend Tight Ends.

DEF (Not Houston, because that would be too easy) Atlanta vs. ARZ: The Falcons defense isn't very good on the surface, but when they play against a bad offense, they suddenly become an appealing fantasy option. The Cardinals are not a very good offense, therefore the Falcons D is a good start.

Who to Sit:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. PIT: Gaudy numbers aside, Flacco has never played particularly well against Pittsburgh in his career, and he also hasn't been very reliable on the road. The Steelers defense is banged up, but they will give Flacco, and his fantasy owners, fits.

RB Rashad Jennings (JAX) vs. HOU: Since being thrust into the spotlight due to an MJD injury, Jennings has failed to live up to the billing. The Texans defense is on a roll right now, so Jennings will be looking straight down the barrel of another bad performance.

WR Josh Gordon (CLE) vs. DAL: He has been a hot waiver wire name, but since his breakout game, he has struggled big time. Dallas' defense is very good, especially at home, so Gordon could be looking at another game where he doesn't put up big numbers.

WR Danario Alexander (SD) vs. DEN: Yes, he had a huge game against the Bucs last week. Repeat to yourself the team he played against for a second, and then you'll see why he is not recommended for anyone to start him this week, even if you plucked him off the waiver wire.

TE Jermichael Finley (GB) vs. DET: Even though he was a highly rated TE before the season started, he has produced minimal numbers for his owners this season, and that will likely continue in Week 11 in Detroit, because the Lions defend the Tight End very well.

DEF Indianapolis vs. NE: They are banged up, and the Patriots are not the Jaguars. Clearly not.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. KC: He had a huge game against the Giants last week, and the Chiefs are next, and they really don't play very well on their home field, so Dalton could potentially pick them apart.

RB Marcel Reece (OAK) vs. NO: Unless Darren McFadden's ankle magically heals, Reece will get the start against the porous Saints defense. He could be in for a potentially huge day.

DEF St. Louis vs. NYJ: They had a great game last week against San Francisco, and now off that high, they play the Jets. You see why they could have a big week.

Buyer Beware:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. DEN: He's hard to bench, but the Broncos secondary has been very good this season, and Rivers is always game for a bad turnover or two. He is a risky start this week.

Good Luck in Week 11!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If It Ain't Broke... Don't Pay for It

There's an art to rebuilding in sports, which takes the edge off the fans who have to sit through it. You can call it "re-tooling", a thinly veiled euphemism for rapid re-construction of a roster while not addressing every part of it. Also, there is the grind it out type of rebuild, which takes time and patience from everyone involved, but often turns out better results than "re-tooling". No name given by anyone, i.e. "The Plan", "The Blueprint", "The Process", makes rebuilding any more fun to sit through. Alas, there are two words that fans in every sport loathe to hear. The buzzwords of doom: "Fire Sale". One team makes that an art form in of itself. The Florida (Miami) Marlins. Reminding their fans of 1998 and 2004 is not my plan, but what might be happening now blows the other 2 out of the water. And this one might be the straw that breaks everyone's back, which is in order after years and years of frustration.

In short, the Marlins may be trading everyone on their roster that makes any semblance of a salary to the Toronto Blue Jays for every type of prospect known to baseball people. On the face of the deal, this is a jump-start for the Blue Jays organization in every way, and this is the Marlins getting "bad" contracts off the books in an attempt to get younger (cheaper). Sorry Blue Jays fans, but this is not a piece about Canada's only MLB team. This is about the other team, which has a sorry connection to Canadian baseball history with the Expos, but maybe a new sorry piece of baseball history in their own, unique right.

Last year, the Marlins opened a $634 million  palace to modern art and everything Miami (baseball is in there somewhere) on the site of the old Orange Bowl, and the great citizens of Miami-Dade county and the city of Miami paid about 80% of the construction costs of the stadium, and bonds that cost $2.4 billion that lasts 40 years, long after the owner of the Marlins is dead. I can't go into more detail, since I'm writing about sports, and not finance, but simply put, the Marlins themselves paid for almost none of the costs of building this palace. I never expect the team to front all the money for a stadium, but 20% altogether with the debt burden all on the shoulders of taxpayers? That is unacceptable.

The narrative has been written time and time again that the Marlins bleed money, and look to their ridiculously low payroll for evidence of that. Studies have shown the contrary though, that the Marlins make a healthy profit every year, mainly due to frugality, and MLB revenue sharing. Yet, Jeff Loria and David Samson can cry poor all the time, since MLB does not make teams publish their financial books. Remember all the money they spent on Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buerhle, and almost on Albert Pujols? If you want to now, you'll have to look for it, since now every penny of that money and more is now spread about in LA, Toronto, and other cities across the MLB landscape. Yet the Marlins cried poor and were able to spend all the money anyway, so one has to assume they didn't have in the first place, and now it's all gone with a fiery explosion. How is this fair to a market that was promised another fire sale wouldn't happen again if they built Mr. Loria his modern art castle?

If you thought Bernie Madoff was a criminal, Jeff Loria might be a bigger one, just his crimes are thinly veiled under the guise of "cost-effectiveness" for his sports franchise. This team makes money every year according to studies of their finances, but can cry poor with fire sales and admitting they can't pay for the exorbitant salaries of the day. That one year holiday of thinking the Marlins turned over a new leaf when they moved from Miami Gardens to Little Havana has now ended, with the ship crashing into a barge of reality. The people in Miami knew this from the start, yet signed the check regardless. The fleecing of the taxpayers of Dade County and the city of Miami was bad enough, but now a $118 million dollar opening day payroll last year has been bombed down in a new and unimaginable fashion, to where the Marlins now have the lowest payroll in baseball. It's a magic trick, from Loria, Samson, and Beinfest, in the guise of progress and change, everyone just sees more of the same.

Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins lone star now, is understandably mad. Many Marlins fans, like Stanton, have thrown their hands in the air, while people around baseball snicker at the roadside dumpster fire outside Marlins Park that was the contracts to Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle and others. Fans already had little reason to go to Marlins games when they were bad at SunLife Stadium. What reason do they have to go to this monument to empty promises and lying, when this fire sale was the most criminal of them all? Why put money in the pocket of a man who would rather build a monstrosity of a sculpture in center than field a competitive team?

Jeffrey Loria got his stadium at no cost, while he and his cronies quietly cull a large profit and cry about being poor in public with fire sales every time there is hope. And, Loria can shoot his mouth off in public when talking about the city leaders who know they got fleeced and have the balls to speak up about it. Loria called them, "naysayers", and later said, "There'll always be activists in a community who don't know what they're talking about, who have their own agendas." Like possibly feeding their family and paying off their mortgage in a recession, when that money is paying off the debt for a stadium Loria could have chipped in more to build.

The SEC is investigating the building of the stadium, while Loria and his cronies count their money knowing they robbed taxpayers blind anyway. Marlins fans could show their displeasure by not showing up, but they already do that well. There is nothing to root for, no hope in a town that was so enthralled with their new favorite son a year ago. If any fan jumps ship because they were outright lied to again, and can't take it any more, I can't call you out, because I would do the same thing. These fans deserve better, and the taxpayers who are paying for this stadium instead of vital necessities do too. Which brings me back to the title of this piece...

If it ain't broke... don't pay for it. Jeff Loria couldn't be any better at that.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Dangers of a Debate

In the past couple of weeks, there has been a debate in the sports world that has been, and always will be, asinine. The question, "Could the best team in college football beat the worst team in the NFL?" has been bandied about as much as the name "Johnny Football" in the past couple of weeks, but since Mr. Football Manzieled the best team in college football at that time, the debate grounded to a halt. Maybe now, everyone in the sports world will see the dangers of that useless debate.

As most informed sports fans know, the college and pro games are incredibly different, and comparing them is almost entirely pointless. This is why most sane NFL minds loathe seeing bits and pieces of the spread option offense when implemented in the NFL, and also why most college coaches don't exactly translate well to the NFL. But, in the not-so-distant past, examples of all the aforementioned things have broken the mold, especially with the successes of QB's like Griffin, Newton, and others, and coaches like Carroll (although he was in the NFL first), and Schiano. This does not mean that a very good college team could beat a really bad NFL team, however, despite what Steve Spurrier, and callers in to the Paul Finebaum show, might lead someone to believe.

Pete Carroll himself disagrees with the notion. He said, when asked the question again, "I was confronted with that at times (at USC) and the falsehood is to think that it could ever take place. It ain't even close. It's not even close." Of course, this comes straight from the coach of maybe the best college football team of the last decade. Even the oddsmakers in Vegas agree. They put out a hypothetical line on a Jacksonville Jaguars- Alabama Crimson Tide contest, and the Jaguars were favored by 24 points (which is astounding to me, not the size of the line, that the Jaguars were favored in anything by Vegas). Now that Alabama has lost, the line on a Kansas State- Kansas City game would be closer to 30 than 0, not including the 3 point swing for a home team.

But wait, I hear some of you as you rush to your keyboards to slave away, "Didn't college all-stars use to beat the NFL champion in a game before?" Yes, and no. The two sides did play exhibitions, and the college all-stars did beat the NFL champ 3 times out of 10, and drew 2 other times. But, these games took place back in the 1960's and 1970's, when many football historians would argue the college game was better than the pro game, and this was before the introduction of the AFL and all-black college stars. If this was tried again today, I doubt the best college players would even sign up to do a game like this, and the NFL champ would even care enough.

While the really bad NFL teams are truly pathetic (as a fan of one of them, I know), the best college team changes every week. Last week, it was Alabama. Post Texas A&M, it's Oregon, or Kansas State, or maybe Notre Dame... who knows? The styles, and the substance (the best college teams sometimes have 10-15 NFL players, the worst NFL team has 53, no matter how bad), are just too different to accurately compare. Even when advanced metrics are put into the equation, they flesh out exactly the same thought. The impartiality of numbers gave the college team one or two wins, but that is the magic of standard deviation, and I wouldn't be surprised to see one or two games out of 10 swing the way of the BCS national champ, or college all-star team. But that's not a high hit rate.

Now that the consensus best team in the land, Alabama, has been felled, and with their being no distinct best team in their place, the debate should be put to bed for now. Oh, but Lord knows when one Mr. Klein leads his Kansas State Wildcats to Miami and an undefeated season, or when Johnny Football runs the SEC table at some point, the debate will be resurrected. Just remember to look at the numbers, at listen to the advice of the men that coached on campus and in the pros.

"It ain't even close." Thanks Pete.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2012 Week 10 Fantasy Advice

Post-election day blues are fun... mainly because the ads are gone. I want to see more ads for Thursday Night Football, but we never get the chance to. My plea now is for more fantasy football ads, but since we'll never see those, I should just start the column.


Who to Start:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. KC MON: He seems to get better every single week, and now, he gets to face the Kansas City Chiefs. It only gets better.

RB Vick Ballard (IND) vs. JAX THU: Since Donald Brown has been out with injuries, Ballard has been very, very impressive out of the backfield for the Colts. The Jags got shredded on Sunday by Mikel Leshoure, who does not qualify as one of the leagues best backs, so Ballard could see a big game.

BONUS PICK (I'm so generous): RB Michael Turner (ATL) vs. NO: After the Saints got run over by LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown on Monday night, Michael Turner comes in to face the same sketchy rush defense. He should have a very big game.

WR Malcom Floyd (SD) vs. TB: The Bucs secondary has been pretty decimated due to suspensions and injuries, and the Chargers come in on 10 days rest to play them. Floyd hasn't been reliable week-to-week for fantasy, but he should have a big game this week.

WR Brandon Lloyd (NE) vs. BUF: He had a big game in the first meeting between these two squads, and since the Bills defense is still pretty terrible, there are no reasons to see why Lloyd can't do it again on Sunday.

TE Vernon Davis (SF) vs. STL: Even though he hasn't put up great fantasy numbers recently, he always has big games against the Rams, and guess who the 49ers play this week?

DEF Seattle vs. NYJ: The Seahawks have been downright dominant at home this season, and they've beaten QB's that include Romo, Rodgers, and Brady. Next up: Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets. You can see why the Seahawks D is a great start this week.

Who to Sit:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. HOU: Yes, Cutler had a big game last week against the Titans. But, the Texans come into Soldier Field on Sunday Night packing a much better defense, and they might be the best unit in the AFC. Avoid starting Cutler.

RB Felix Jones (DAL) vs. PHI: DeMarco Murray is still out for the Cowboys, and Lance Dunbar has stolen some carries away from Jones recently. The Eagles are prime for a big game on defense, and Jones might be the casualty in that.

WR Denarius Moore (OAK) vs. BAL: Despite all the injuries on the Ravens defense, their secondary has been solid all year, only allowing 5 TD's to wideouts all season. The Raiders going out East playing a 1 PM game doesn't bode well for Moore.

WR Sidney Rice (SEA) vs. NYJ: About that Revis fellow... Antonio Cromartie has been great all year for the Jets, and I doubt Russell Wilson will attack Cromartie at all during this game, so Rice will not likely have a big game on Sunday.

TE Jared Cook (TEN) vs. MIA: He was seen as a fantasy sleeper prior to the season, but he's done next to nothing for most of the season. The Dolphins have not allowed a TD to an opposing Tight End all season, so the immediate future doesn't look any brighter for Cook.

DEF Atlanta vs. NO: The Saints offense is starting to pick up in steam, and Atlanta's defense hasn't been a juggernaut to begin with. Here's the classic example of a terrible matchup.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) vs. NE: The Patriots secondary has been sketchy all season, and Fitz has been pretty good against the Pats in recent meetings. He could have another good game, since the newly acquired Aqib Talib won't play on Sunday.

TE Greg Olsen (CAR) vs. DEN: The Broncos defense has been good, but not great for most of the season. They have had struggles defending the Tight End this year, and Greg Olsen could be the next benefactor of that.

DEF Miami vs. TEN: Yes, the Dolphins D got torched by Andrew Luck last week. But, the Titans are not the Colts, especially if you saw the stat line from the Bears-Titans game.

Buyer Beware:

QB Carson Palmer (OAK) vs. BAL: Tons of yards are a certainly. Some TD's are also possible. But so are many turnovers. This matchup doesn't look favorable for Palmer on Sunday in Baltimore.

Good Luck in Week 10!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Filler! Filler! Filler to make the Season go by Faster!

       Anyone with their finger on the pulse of the NFL noticed peculiar reports yesterday surrounding suspended Saints skipper Sean Payton. According to those reports, Payton is a "free agent" after one Mr. Goodell voided Payton's contract extension. Not a big deal, one might say, why wouldn't he return to the Saints after all the successes he's had with the franchise? Oh, but no one saw those stories yesterday. Instead, the media reproduced the same headline over and over again, "Sean Payton to Dallas?" As if everyone wasn't sick of rancid Tebow headlines. Media hype, especially baseless hype, is fun isn't it?

       No one is indicting the suspicion that Payton in fact will jump ship to Jerryworld. In fact, every single trend seems to indicate that this move is perfect for both parties. I don't need to flesh out the evidence for that theory to bear itself out. What is clearer than that, though, is how the media jumped on this story like tigers on raw meat, and now this non-starter is the story of the dead. Not Chuck Pagano. Not the 8-0 Atlanta Falcons. The Dallas Cowboys have a new coach, when they are 3-5 and their season is far from dead. Washington Redskins players decried Mike Shanahan for declaring their season "over" at 3-6, and most will agree with that sentiment, but the media is allowed to speculate wildly over the future of 2 men when the team in the middle is by no means dead? What a fun double standard to beat to death.

     While Jason Garrett isn't everyone's favorite coach in the NFL, he has a ship to rite, and by no means should he worry about the safety of his job. He did that with almost every game last year, and it seems every game this year warms the flame underneath his chair. Only the world's largest microscope looking down at him could increase the heat on his seat, and it always seems to. Here's another question: What good does it do Jerry Jones and the Cowboys to fire Garrett now, or next week if the Cowboys fall in Philadelphia? And here is the most important question of them all: What good does it do the media to speculate on a perfect storm (too soon?) of circumstances that would make Sean Payton the next head coach in Dallas? There are only two teams whose season is "over" now, and saying that isn't even fair: Kansas City and Jacksonville. Playing out the string is a media term, and that's all.

     The media microscope is as large today as it has ever been over the NFL, but that doesn't mean this tool should be used on everything. Yes, this Cowboys team has the most talent it has had in some years. Yes, it looks like much more a fault of the coaching than the talent in the Cowboys' failures this year. But, as the NFL has constantly proved, no one is dead until the math says you are. Even though the NFC might not bear out the appearance now of letting in a team with 6 or 7 losses into the postseason, there are still 8 games to be played. If we sit on December 30th and the Cowboys are on the outside looking in, then discussing the security of Jason Garrett is fine. It's November 5th (the day I write this). 

     Remember, remember, the fifth of November applies to Guy Fawkes, not to Jason Garrett. The media should recognize that.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Week 9 Fantasy Advice

No hurri-mega-super-franken-Nor'Easter-thing storm is going to stop me from writing this column every Wednesday. Sandy, you have lost. I'd probably be able to beat her in fantasy every week, but after I get hit with a 70 mph wind gust, I don't think that would matter.

Byes: NE, STL, NYJ, SF

Who to Start:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. NYG: The Giants secondary may have had 4 interceptions against Dallas last Sunday, but they were complicit in blowing a 23-0 lead by the end of the 3rd quarter. Big Ben could have a big week against another NFC East team this week after he torched the Redskins last week.

RB Alfred Morris (WSH) vs. CAR: In the Shanahan carousel of running backs, Morris seems to have been the only one to stay on course. He faces a terrible Carolina running defense this week, who have given up 8 rushing TD's on the season.

WR Denarius Moore (OAK) vs. TB: Is it true that every Tampa Bay corner aside from Ronde Barber is suspended for using Adderall? Sweeping generalizations aside, Moore could be in for a big game against the Bucs secondary that hasn't been much good with their best corners in the lineup.

WR Reggie Wayne (IND) vs. MIA: He has had a resurgent season with Andrew Luck under center, and this week, he faces a sketchy Miami secondary, who had their lapses last week even when they were fairly dominant. He could have a big game this Sunday.

TE Owen Daniels (HOU) vs. BUF: Remember all the money that the Bills spent this offseason to fix their defense? I can see it burning a hole in Mr. Wilson's pocket from hundreds of miles away. They are 29th against the pass, which bodes well for Owen Daniels to have a big game.

DEF Detroit vs. JAX: Even though I am a Jaguars die-hard, I know one thing: Fantasy defenses are great against the Jags. Detroit is up next.

Who to Sit:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. CLE: This is one of those matchup sits that I hate putting here, but with the way Cleveland has played in their last 3 games, and the way Flacco looked before the bye in Houston, you know why he's here.

RB Donald Brown (IND) vs. MIA: He has two things working against him this Sunday: One of them is the emergence of Vick Ballard, and second is Miami's rush defense, which is one of the most underrated units in the league. Avoid starting him.

WR Kenny Britt (TEN) vs. CHI: The Bears pass defense is one of the best units in the league, and Britt has been a major fantasy disappointment this season (along with most of the Titans offense), and the matchup makes things worse.

WR Santana Moss (WSH) vs. CAR: Even though the Panthers have problems defending the run, they have been very good at defending the pass. Moss could be in trouble this week fantasy wise, when we might see more of RG3 running than passing.

TE Anthony Fasano (MIA) vs. IND: His fantasy stature might be heightened a tad if Matt Moore starts, but all he does really is score TD's, and he hasn't been doing to much of that this season. The Colts are great at defending the Tight End, too.

DEF Philadelphia vs. NO MON: Yeah, I don't really have to explain this one.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Josh Freeman (TB) vs. OAK: What was in his water for the past couple of weeks? It has helped that he's been facing terrible pass defenses in KC, NO, and MIN, and now gets to face the Raiders. He might be in for another big day.

RB Mikel Leshoure (DET) vs. JAX: The Jags haven't been that impressive in defending the run this season, so Leshoure might be in for one of his best days yet on Sunday, even though he's a sketchy flex option otherwise.

WR Lance Moore (NO) vs. PHI MON: This game is going to be a track meet. Therefore, anyone and everyone could have big numbers on Monday Night, including Moore.

Buyer Beware:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. PIT: I know he's hard to bench, and the Steelers defense has been banged up this season, but they have been playing much better since their bye week, after the first 3 games when they got torn apart. I wouldn't bench him unless you have a vastly superior matchup.

Good Luck in Week 9!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy NBA Season... It's starting?

According to ESPN, the NBA season is starting tonight. Could have fooled me. If I never watched ESPN as much as I do, I might have never figured out that the NBA season was starting tonight (I just survived a Hurri-Nor'Easter). I could tell you what day the baseball regular season starts next year, when the hockey regular season starts, and recite the schedule of a good chunk of NFL teams from memory, but I'd never be able to tell you when the NBA regular season starts. It's not because I don't care about the league, far from it, in fact, I hate the league with a burning passion (which many people will argue is a heightened form of caring). But, there are a number of reasons as to why I don't care to watch Celtics/Heat tonight, or any big game all season, and why I'd just rather ignore them.

The 82 game grind of an NBA regular season might be the most meaningless entity in all of sports. A random game between Utah and Milwaukee, for example, means absolutely nothing to anyone except the fans of the two teams, and people who work for the two organizations. You could say that about any league, I know, but even from supposed die-hard NBA fans, they don't care either. I, as a crazy hockey fan, would sit down and watch a terrible Columbus-NY Islanders game because I love the sport and sometimes just watching a hockey game would be worth my attention. I'd go to any MLB game because going to the ballpark is something that you can't experience on your couch. Every NFL and college football game means nearly everything, so of course we'll watch those with eagerness. Even European soccer makes me want to get up early to watch crappy games because they all have an air of meaning and drama to them. An NBA regular season game plucked off the line from January could be dogged by both teams and be a total waste of time to watch. There is no other sport where that is the case.

Even the first 2 rounds of the NBA playoffs don't matter. All that's being done is weeding out the terrible teams that somehow made the playoffs because there are 8 teams from each conference that made it. Does anyone want to watch a first round series between amazing Miami and mediocre Toronto when you know the Heat will win the series in 4 or 5 and it won't even be close. At least the MLB Wild Card game, problems in all, is a one game playoff! Win or go home says it all. The NBA playoffs don't matter until the Conference Finals, but in every other major American sport, every playoff game matters. There is nothing more tense than sitting through an NHL playoff game in OT, but an NBA playoff OT game? I don't feel the tension. In the first 2 rounds of the NBA postseason, there is a sense of inevitability that you feel when you watch first round series that you know who is going to win, and you're stuck watching the games. I don't get that sense from any other American sport.

The most top-heavy sport for me is European Soccer, where it is a guaranteed certainty that one of 3 teams will win a title in most major European leagues. But, there is a sense of drama in the supposed meaningless games because of relegation, which doesn't exist in any other sport. Anyone who watched Survival Sunday (the final Sunday of the EPL season in May), knows what I'm on about. It's crazy amounts of tense. The NBA can't offer you that in a Bobcats-Wizards game. It's meaningless and even the fans of the teams involved know it's meaningless. I'd still watch a Jags-Chiefs game this season (aside from the fact I'm a Jags fan), because even if it's a terrible football game, it's a football game. A terrible hockey game is a terrible hockey game, but I'll still watch it. I'll never watch a terrible NBA game, as it just might be an infomercial. There are so many more of them in that league than any other.

In the NBA preseason, almost everyone predicts that the Finals will be Heat-Lakers. If you completely ignored the NBA until the Finals began in June, and you saw that Finals, you would know that everything else in the season was meaningless. In that respect, I'd much rather be totally off in my preseason predictions  than totally right.

In short, the NBA has games that clearly don't matter, but in all the other sports I love to death, every single game matters, even in baseball, if solely for awards purposes. Every game has to matter for me to care. And in the NBA, since they don't all matter, then I feel I shouldn't give my all in watching them, or caring about them.

Hate is one thing. Apathy fuelled hate is another.

They Might be Giants... Twice over.

Yes, I did predict them to make the World Series before the season started (you can check that one out for verification). Yes, I also predicted that they would win the World Series before the postseason started. My apologies to Giants fans went unfounded, actually. But even the man who put so much faith in them this season, was surprised to see how good the San Francisco Giants really were. They were 6-0 in elimination games, 4 of them on the road. Their bullpen, which was supposed to be sketchy, was dominant. No Brian Wilson, no problem. About that whole Melky Cabrera thing? Yeah, no problem. The Giants just role with the punches, and they rolled with it, all the way to lifting the Comissioner's Trophy.

"Giants Baseball: Torture!" was the slogan for the Giants in 2010 when they won the World Series. I'm not sure how many times Duane Kuiper used that slogan on the way to the World Series this year, but it certainly was present, especially when Brian Wilson went down in April. Big trades were made to get Hunter Pence, Marco Scutaro, amongst others, and the Giants went from being a fringe playoff team, to a runaway NL West champ, while the Dodgers spent money like the U.S government. That's how it's done.

How the Reds and Cardinals choked, I won't ever figure it out, especially the Cardinals, who made coming back an art form. The Tigers might have well not shown up for the World Series. That left the Giants, who went about winning with a calm and collectiveness, aside from Pablo Sandoval's 3 homer game in WS Game 1.

Congrats to the Giants on their second World Series in 3 years. Not many thought it could happen (except me), but now that it has happened again, the people of San Francisco can celebrate a champion again, like they well deserve.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Week 8 Fantasy Advice

I'm hoping to ride the momentum I have from correctly predicting the World Series preseason in this column today. Lord knows since my real team is so awful, that my fantasy team and picks should be much better by comparison, right?


Who to Start:

QB Andrew Luck (IND) vs. TEN: While Luck and the Colts have been poor on the road compared to at the Luke, the matchup against the Titans is a very appetizing one. The Titans defense has been abysmal this season, especially in the secondary. Easy call this week.

RB Reggie Bush (MIA) vs. NYJ: He's very quietly had a good season for the Dolphins, taking some of the pressure off of Ryan Tannehill. The Jets rushing defense has been nowhere near Rex Ryan caliber all season, so this matchup is a good one for Bush owners.

WR Eric Decker (DEN) vs. NO: I expect each of the Saints and the Broncos to score 40 plus on Sunday Night, therefore, Decker will have a big game because Peyton will dice apart this terrible New Orleans secondary.

WR Miles Austin (DAL) vs. NYG: A week after the Giants secondary got torched by RG3, Tony Romo and the Cowboys, hot off a decent win, could be primed for a breakout performance. Austin will be the beneficiary of that.

TE Heath Miller (PIT) vs. WSH: Big Ben's goal for awhile now has been to get Heath Miller into the Pro Bowl. With his start to the season, I'd expect that to be an attainable goal. Miller's case will improve some more against the Redskins, a team that has been terrible at covering Tight Ends this season.

DEF Green Bay vs. JAX: Even though the Packers won't have Charles Woodson, this is a lock because Chad Henne might sniff the field. Did you see him against Oakland last week?

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Stafford (DET) vs. SEA: It seems every week he's falling into this particular spot, which is bad news for Lions fans, and his fantasy owners. Into the Motor City come the the Seahawks, with 10 days of rest and the league's best secondary in tow. Maybe the fans should just wait until Game 4 later that night.

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (ARZ) vs. SF MON: He had a big game last week against Minnesota, mainly because of the whole next running back up thing going on in Arizona right now. The 49ers defense looks much better, and will be well rested, so this is a risky start.

WR Brandon Lloyd (NE) vs. STL in London: Despite the Rams not being an amazing squad, they do have a very good secondary duo. Lloyd is at risk of being shut down big time on the Wembley pitch.

WR Brian Hartline (MIA) vs. NYJ: He is very inconsistent, as noted by his performances right after the 253 yard outbreak in Arizona. Antonio Cromartie has been very good since Revis Island was washed up, so Hartline could be in for a tough day.

TE Chris Cooley (WSH) vs. PIT: He's back! While it may seem tempting to take this former fantasy standout and pop him right into your starting line-up, don't do it. He and Logan Paulsen will share snaps most likely, and the Steelers defense is looking good right now.

DEF Philadelphia vs. ATL: While I do think Atlanta will lose this game, it might be more of a shootout variety than a defensive struggle. The Eagles will have their first game under new D Coordinator Todd Bowles, so this could be a feeling out game for the star-studded unit.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Brandon Weeden (CLE) vs. SD: He has been picking up the pace lately for a once lackluster offense, and he could have another good week against a favorable Chargers team. He might be a good option if your fantasy starter is on a bye.

WR Kenny Britt (TEN) vs. IND: He has to have a good game at some point, right? The Colts in their 2 road games have been torched by Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez, so why can't Matt Hasselbeck do the same thing? Britt may have a big game in Nashville on Sunday.

DEF Oakland vs. KC: I said last week that they had a good matchup on their hands, and they didn't disappoint (except in the points department). This week, they face another backup thrust into the starting role in Brady Quinn, and another bad offense. They could have a big week again.

Buyer Beware:

RB Shonn Greene (NYJ) vs. MIA: He's been very good in the past 2 weeks for the Jets, yet Miami's defense will provide a good test for the back. They've only allowed 2 rushing TD's all season.

Good Luck in Week 8!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Plight of a Kicker

They come from all over the globe. These people hail from places like Armenia, Hungary, Denmark, Australia, and many other places where you would not think to find these people. They are those who have been educated in the game later, and in some cases they just wanted to fit in. They are the oft under appreciated, yet more often hated, kicker. There is no other position in sports around the world like that of a football kicker. And yet, I doubt anyone actually wants to be a kicker (maybe that's why punters exist). Why am I writing about these people? There was an experience this weekend that jogged my thoughts about these , in some cases, poor people.

In the game between NC State and Maryland, the Terrapins kicker, freshman Brad Craddock (who hails from a land down under, by the way), missed an extra point, and later, the game-winning 34 yard field goal. The poor guy was ripped a new one by almost everyone, from the student that left the game at halftime, to his coach, in a roundabout way. These guys are often the lightning rod for criticism when a team loses a game like Maryland did on Saturday, and nearly all of the time it's not fair to these poor souls. How else are they going to sniff the field turf of the gridiron otherwise if they didn't try their luck being a kicker? Kickers are often some of the most humble, and honest people on a football team, and yet they never get the credit they deserve for being under immense pressure when the game is down to their kick. There are so many things that can go wrong on any kick, and the kicker almost always gets the blame. It's not fair.

To those that want to whine and cry about their kicker not being able to make the clutch kick when called upon: I would like to see you try to do that yourself. Yes, that has been said probably thousands of time in defense of kickers, but it never hits home more than now, for me. Terps running back Wes Brown took the blame himself for their loss because of his fumble on the third to last drive for the Terps, and that takes some stones to do, no matter how culpable you actually are. But to those who believe that kicking is the easiest thing to do on the football field, you'd probably be best at channelling in your inner Adam Sandler and staying as the waterboy. Just because kicking a ball through some uprights doesn't seem difficult doesn't mean it actually isn't (I've tried it before, and it is much harder than it looks).

It is assumed that every kick under 40 yards is easy (unless you're Billy Cundiff, as one astute student pointed out). But go ask any kicker and they'll tell you it really isn't. That's not a groundbreaking observation, but at a stage of pure anger and vitriol, it might as well be the only response worth receiving. There are enough other things that can go wrong in a football game that make missing a field goal look like chump change (I'm a Jaguars fan, so a missed field goal is the least that can go wrong). "When your kicker makes the game winning field goal, he is treated as a hero, but if he misses, he might as well change his name to Alan Smithee", is a thought often dreamt up by many, if not all football fans. It's outdated and should be thrown aside.

Yes, it is very easy to blame the kicker, as opposed to blaming all the other mistakes a team might make on their way to a loss like that. Just ask the Vikings of 1998, the Chiefs of 1995, and the Ravens of 2011 what they think about their kickers. Put, without them, those teams would have been nowhere near where they actually ended up. And give them credit as well for this factoid: No one else on the football field in uniform is older than they are, so they can put off cashing in that 401K. They're also not going to be the ones suing the league due to concussions, so there's that too.

Just either appreciate, or loathe kickers in silence. The same tired, jaded thoughts about them have been regurgitated over and over again, so hearing them for the 100,000th occasion is nothing new, and is in fact, very annoying...

And, don't forget: Icing the kicker often fails, so they at least are better than some of us when under pressure.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2012 Week 7 Fantasy Advice

2 points before we begin this column proper. One, this column had a higher hit rate than my Week 6 picks did (I went 5-9). 2, how the heck are we already at Week 7 already? This goes by too fast.


Who to Start:

QB Carson Palmer (OAK) vs. JAX: Despite the fact that Palmer himself gave away the game against Atlanta, he should have a good game against a Jaguars secondary without its free safety who is a major stabilizing influence, and that will have problems dealing with Oakland's speed.

RB C.J Spiller (BUF) vs. TEN: He is the most explosive playmaker on Buffalo's offense, and even though he is not top choice due to Fred Jackson's presence, he could have a big game against a Titans defense that has had major problems stopping the run.

WR Reggie Wayne (IND) vs. CLE: The Browns just gave Andy Dalton a career high in pass yards a week ago, and even with Joe Haden, they struggle to defend the pass. Wayne could have another huge day for the Colts at home.

WR Vincent Jackson (TB) vs. NO: He had a big week against the porous Kansas City secondary, and next up are the Saints whose secondary is still a sketchy spot. He could have another huge game if Josh Freeman cooperates.

TE Jason Witten (DAL) vs. CAR: The Panthers defense has been bad at defending Tight Ends so far this season, so Witten might have another big game going up against these linebackers.

DEF Minnesota vs. ARZ: The Cardinals offensive line is, and there is no other word for it, a sieve. With John Skelton now under center, the Vikings defense could have a big bounce back game at the homerdome on Sunday.

Who to Sit:

QB Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. CHI MON: The Bears defense has been absolutely ferocious this season, especially forcing turnovers, and with the Lions still struggling to hold onto the ball, especially Stafford himself, this is a start to avoid.

RB Shonn Greene (NYJ) vs. NE: I know that he just had a huge game against the Colts. But, if you would, please repeat the last 3 words. Now you know why he had that big game. The Patriots are much better at defending the run, so ground and pound might fizzle a bit this week.

WR Brandon Lloyd (NE) vs. NYJ: Despite the Jets having Revis Island washed up, Antonio Cromartie has been very good in his absence. He will force Brandon Lloyd to be uncomfortable, meaning Tom Brady might not get him the ball very often.

WR Michael Crabtree (SF) vs. SEA THU: My guess is that you should probably sit all of your 49ers receivers because of how good the Seahawks defense is. But Crabtree could truly be in for a bad night against the league's best pass defense.

TE Fred Davis (WSH) vs. NYG: Hard to believe, but the Giants defense has not yet surrendered a TD to opposing Tight End's this season. Due to that, Fred Davis could be in for a tough afternoon on the stat sheet.

DEF New Orleans vs. TB: Based on their first 5 games, I don't think this should come as a surprise to anybody.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. HOU: This is the definition of a super sleeper. We know the Texans defense can be very good, but it did just get shredded last week. Flacco has been very good on the road this season, so he might attack the now vulnerable Jonathan Joseph early to build up some fantasy stats.

RB Felix Jones (DAL) vs. CAR: No DeMarco Murray for the Cowboys on Sunday means it's all on Felix Jones to carry the load. But, it might go well against a sketchy Carolina rushing defense.

DEF Oakland vs. JAX: Once again I dig deep into my bag of tricks for this one. They picked off Matt Ryan thrice last Sunday, and now they go up against the worst passing and scoring offense in football. If they can get a pass rush going, this could be a big day for that unit.

Buyer Beware:

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. DAL: Even though the Cowboys secondary struggled last week, they have only allowed one opposing #1 wideout to go into double digit fantasy points according to Smith might struggle on Sunday.

Good Luck in Week 7!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Peyton Manning is Back... Kind Of

Most of us not tuned into the NLCS were watching the astounding comeback by the Broncos from 24 down at halftime to beat the Chargers on MNF. Peyton Manning showed some of his "vintage" form in that comeback by orchestrating the no-huddle offense to perfection and making the Chargers defense look like one of the worst in football, as he often did when he was a Colt. Cue the "Broncos comeback, as does Peyton" columns all across the NFL world (this piece is one... sort of). But, Peyton was never really not himself, but the Broncos lack of talent made him look like he was way off his game.  This is the kind of game that sets a team on a season long run, so for the Broncos, this will be a marker of future successes, so marking this as Peyton's true comeback game will be common, but a misjudgement.

On the talent front, Peyton Manning hasn't had this little talent on offense maybe since his rookie year. This is not a slight at Willis McGahee, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, or any other of the Broncos skill position players, but more a comparison to remind people of what Peyton worked with when the Colts were one of the class teams in football. Those great Colts teams had 2 top flight receivers in Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison, an all-pro at running back in Edgerrin James, and Dallas Clark, to boot. Don't forget about the consistency of an offensive line staying together for years at a time. Compared to what Peyton has now, most every Colts team from 1999 to 2010 looks like it was better on paper. Put any of these receivers on Jacksonville right now, and they'd most likely be invisible on the stat sheet.

But, I hear some of you already chomping at the bit to say, "But what about the Falcons game earlier in the season?" Peyton, like every other quarterback in football, has those games, and there were some pretty egregious examples when he was a Colt (see the 2003 AFC Title Game). But even in that game, that was more a result of good defense by the Patriots than the Colts lack of talent. The 2010 Colts were one of the least talented teams to win a division title in a long time, 2008 Chargers notwithstanding, and that was on the lack of talent the Colts had. But even that team I believe could beat these 2012 Broncos in a game.

The Broncos might have started 2-3, which was Peyton Manning's worst start to a season since 2001 (the last time a team with Peyton as its opening day starter missed the postseason), but that can be chalked up to the caliber of opponent, and overall lack of players on offense that defensive coordinators must gameplan against. Peyton Manning is well used to compensating for a lackluster defense, but coming back from a 24 point deficit to win by double digits, which had never been done before until last night, is new. Whether it was mainly the Chargers choking or what, you need a QB to snatch the win for you, and there is no better at that than Peyton Manning.

All of the talk that Peyton Manning was a shell of his former self looks to be a bit unfounded now, doesn't it? He's just as good as he ever was as a Colt, even with less talent on offense than he maybe has ever had. The Broncos are AFC West favorites now because of that.

Peyton Manning isn't back, but that's because he was never done to begin with.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2012 Week 6 Fantasy Advice

I might actually be getting better at this. Or, I'm just getting lucky. I'll go with the latter.


Who to Start:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. OAK: I should just put him permanently in this slot, but I'd like to recommend other QB's at times for the rest of the season. Even though the Raiders are coming off a bye, the Falcons signal caller will tear the terrible secondary apart.

RB Trent Richardson (CLE) vs. CIN: In Week 2, Trent Richardson had a big game for the Browns. He did last week as well against the Giants, and he should have another good game against the Bengals, maybe even topping the 140 total yards he got last time.

WR Reggie Wayne (IND) vs. NYJ: Who would have thought he's had as good of a year as he has had, despite losing Peyton Manning? Despite going up against Antonio Cromartie, Wayne should probably have another big game for the Colts.

WR Demaryius Thomas (DEN) vs. SD MON: After the Chargers defense got lit up by Drew Brees last Sunday Night, Peyton might be licking his chops. Thomas has over 500 yards receiving already, and going up against the shaky Chargers pass defense, he might have another big game.

TE Heath Miller (PIT) vs. TEN THU: The Titans are statistically the worst team in the league at defending the Tight End, so Miller should have a big game against the terrible Titans defense.

DEF Baltimore vs. DAL: Even though the Ravens defense has shown to have some issues in the past couple of weeks, they go up against the ever-so-reliable Dallas offense. This should be a good bounce back week.

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Stafford (DET) vs. PHI: The Lions have had their lion share (pun very intended) of problems on both sides of the ball so far this season, and it gets no easier coming off their bye when they face the very stout Eagles defense. Stafford is one to avoid.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) vs. SF: Yes, he did have 200 yards last week. Yes, maybe the Giants have a semblance of a running game this season. And yes, they are facing the 49ers this week, so that form is likely to die off at Candlestick on Sunday.

WR Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. HOU: He had 15 touchdowns last season, but he is not even in the Top 30 of fantasy wide receivers in terms of points this season. It doesn't help that he's going up against the outstanding Houston secondary, either.

WR Brandon Lloyd (NE) vs. SEA: The Seahawks have allowed 19 points total in 2 home games this season, and their defense has been nasty. While you won't bench your Pats must plays, Lloyd is a man that should be avoided due to this matchup problem.

TE Scott Chandler (BUF) vs. ARZ: He has been the biggest fantasy surprise at the TE position this season, but he could have some troubles against the stout Arizona Cardinals defense on Sunday. He might be a man to avoid.

DEF New York Jets vs. IND: Even though the Colts offense is not quite the Texans offense, it still has the possibility to put up some points. The Jets D is shaky, obviously, so this unit is not one to start.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Christian Ponder (MIN) vs. WSH: He's not been a statistical marvel this season, but he's been very consistent this season. The Redskins secondary is not very good, so if you need a spot starter, Ponder is a very solid option.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (CIN) vs. CLE: He's struggled some this season, but despite that, he's going up against a rush defense that allowed 200 yards to Ahmad Bradshaw last week. Easy call.

DEF St. Louis vs. MIA: This unit has undergone a renaissance of sorts under Jeff Fisher, and is silently a very competent one. Going up against a rookie QB in Ryan Tannehill, the Rams D could put up some decent points for you.

Buyer Beware:

WR Dwayne Bowe (KC) vs. TB: The guy tossing him the magic bean is Brady Quinn, and this is not 2005. He could struggle big time, even going up against the favorable Bucs secondary.

Good Luck in Week 6!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My 2012 MLB Postseason Predictions

Now that I have reminded you all how human I am in preseason predictions, now it's time to remind you how human I am in postseason predictions. I wonder...

AL Wild Card:  TEX over BAL
NL Wild Card: ATL over STL

ALDS: DET over OAK in 5
           NYY over TEX in 5

NLDS:  WSH over ATL in 4
             SF over CIN in 5

ALCS:  NYY over DET in 5
NLCS: SF over WSH in 6

2012 World Series: SF over NYY in 6

Sorry in advance to Giants and Yankees fans everywhere (actually, I'm not sorry for Yankees fans).