Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2014 Week 13 Fantasy Advice

It's that time of year when we all engorge ourselves on Turkey, Family and Football. Mainly that last one though. It's not that family isn't important because it is, but really, what says America more then spending an entire day on the couch watching football and stuffing your face with food? (Probably many things but they can't be said here so keep them to twitter if you can).

Who to Start:

QB Tony Romo (DAL) vs. PHI THU: I was wrong about the Dallas Cowboys. I think many people will admit they were wrong about the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo has played exceptionally well this season; maybe better than he has ever played before. The Eagles are not the same team away from home, and when they play good teams, so Romo could be in for a feast Thursday afternoon.

RB Rashad Jennings (NYG) vs. JAX: Either it's karma or just what it's like being a Jaguars fan, but not only do former Jags do really well when the leave Jacksonville, they'll do even better when they play them. Rashad Jennings falls into that latter category, and now that he's healthy, he could have a big game on Sunday.

WR T.Y Hilton (IND) vs. WSH: He's almost a must start in every league now, as he consistently performs week in and week out, even when his QB has an off day. The Washington defense is an insult to the word defense, so he could have an even bigger day Sunday afternoon.

WR Josh Gordon (CLE) vs. BUF: He looked like he hadn't missed a beat in his return to action last Sunday against Atlanta, and that should continue against the Bills on Sunday, who have not had the best luck in the secondary this season, Monday night aside.

TE Greg Olsen (CAR) vs. MIN: The matchup isn't amazing, but Greg Olsen always seems to produce even in those circumstances. With Cam Newton's offensive line being a turnstile at best, Olsen will be a safe target and probably rake in the points in Minneapolis.

DEF Miami vs. NYJ MON: If you watched any or all of the Jets disaster against the Bills on Monday, then this won't be a surprise to anyone. Miami's defense is also really good too.

Who to Sit:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. BAL: Something is off with Rivers, and the Chargers offense. They didn't look good at all against the Rams and Raiders, and they never look even close to how they do at home when they travel. The Ravens are on a bit of a roll now, and even though their secondary has holes, it's doubtful Rivers will be able to exploit them.

RB Trent Richardson (IND) vs. WSH: Sometimes he surprises and puts up a decent performance, but more often than not he doesn't. Not only does he have to split carries and workload with Daniel Herron, the Washington rush defense isn't really all that bad.

WR Vincent Jackson (TB) vs. CIN: Even though he is coming off one of his best games of the season last weekend in Chicago, he has two things working against him here: One is Mike Evans, and two is the Bengals defense has been incredibly consistent (and good) this season even when the offense hasn't.

WR Andre Johnson (HOU) vs. TEN: He's fallen off the fantasy cliff so to speak this season, and he has not performed well against the Titans recently either. Even though Tennessee's defense is pretty woeful, Johnson is a risky play.

TE Martellus Bennett (CHI) vs. DET THU: It's November, and Bennett's performances in months not named September have been pretty bad, as this column has loved to point out once the calendar flipped.

DEF New England vs. GB: Even though the Pats defense has been so impressive this season, the Pats haven't faced Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau yet this season, but have to this Sunday, which means that you should firmly root the Pats D to your bench.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Alex Smith (KC) vs. DEN: Denver's defense is not the same unit it was last season, and in these big games, usually Smith performs well. He did so against New England back in September, and he needs to in order for Kansas City to beat Denver. He has a chance to on Sunday.

RB Justin Forsett (BAL) vs. SD: It's amazing to think how far his stock has risen in Baltimore after his disastrous season in Jacksonville in 2013. After a 200 yard outing in the Superdome, he could be in for another big day against the Chargers who aren't spectacular defending the run.

WR Marques Colston (NO) vs. PIT: Even though the Saints are mediocre at best and the Steelers play better defense at home, it's hard not to be tempted by this matchup based on the Steelers propensity to slip up in the secondary regardless of where they are playing.

Buyer Beware:

RB Jonas Gray (NE) vs. GB: Is he even on the Patriots roster anymore? Didn't seem like it against Detroit. Based on the Hoodie's running back rotation, it's hard to see Gray getting the Lion's share (pun intended) of the carries in Green Bay.

Happy Thanksgiving and Good Luck in Week 13!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2014 Week 12 Fantasy Advice

There's only one week left until Thanksgiving, so it's time to start thinking about what we're all thankful for. I have a few ideas, and surprisingly, the Jacksonville Jaguars are not something I am thankful for. I now believe they may be a spite on my soul for something I've done in a past life that I can't quite articulate. But I am thankful for fantasy football and this column, which has made me look at least a little bit smart.

Byes: CAR, PIT

Who to Start:

QB Colin Kaepernick (SF) vs. WSH: Even as the 49ers struggle to decide what their offensive identity is, Kaepernick might be starting to find his feet. The 49ers schedule gets tougher as the season winds down, so this Sunday's matchup against a Washington secondary that made Josh McCown look like a world beater is a favorable one.

RB Matt Forte (CHI) vs. TB: If the Bears are to climb back into the playoff race, they're going to need Matt Forte to run the ball with efficiency... at least more than he has done recently. He might get off to a good start on Sunday against a Bucs rush defense that has struggled recently.

WR Josh Gordon (CLE) vs. ATL: He's back. Even though I'm hesitant to start someone who is cold like Gordon will be Sunday, the matchup against the Falcons is just too good to pass up. They are the worst in the league against the pass for a reason.

WR Odell Beckham (NYG) vs. DAL: Despite Eli Manning's struggles recently (and there are plenty of them), Beckham has still found a way to have a big game every week despite that. Dallas' defense isn't quite what some people think it is, so even if Manning and the rest of the Giants struggle, Beckham probably won't.

TE Dwayne Allen or Coby Fleener (IND) vs. JAX: If Allen is healthy, he's about as close to a must start as possible. Not only do the Jaguars struggle to defend Tight Ends, Allen is a red zone pilferer of touchdowns. But, his injury status remains a question. If he's healthy, go with him. If not, go with his partner in crime in Coby Fleener.

DEF Buffalo vs. NYJ: The weather in Western New York is frightful, and it's almost as frightful as watching the Jets. Even though they're coming off a bye and a great performance against Pittsburgh, the Jets are still a really bad team on offense. The Bills need this game, and they'll probably get it against a Jets team that hasn't won a road game yet this season.

Who to Sit:

QB Alex Smith (KC) vs. OAK THU: Even though Smith has been very consistent this season, that means his numbers haven't been spectacular. Going with him as your #1 on a short week and on the road is a dicey proposition, and the Raiders defense has been playing much better of late.

RB Jonas Gray (NE) vs. DET: The winner of the Patriots running back Russian Roulette this week is... Even though he was awesome last Sunday night in Indianapolis, there are 2 factors going against him this week. One, is that the Lions still have the best rush defense in football. Second is that there could be another UDFA running back that Wally Pipp's him.

WR John Brown (ARZ) vs. SEA: Despite the QB changes around him, Brown has still managed to put up big fantasy numbers anyway. His roadtrip in Seattle this week is a tough spot for him though. Even though the Seahawks aren't the same team from a year ago, they're still third against the pass and obviously tough to beat at home.

WR DeSean Jackson (WSH) vs. SF: Jackson has been the one constant in the constant turnover that  is the Washington offense. With the struggles that unit has been having (and the calls for Colt McCoy (!!!!!!)), and the 49ers defense still being what it is, he is a risky play on Sunday.

TE Jared Cook (STL) vs. SD: His numbers this season have been iffy, and the Chargers defense has been pretty good against Tight Ends this season as well. The Rams are also prime for a letdown after a big win against Denver as well.

DEF Chicago vs. TB: This matchup might seem like a decent one. It's the Bucs on the road, in the cold, and almost everyone knows the Bucs struggle in the cold. But, it's Lovie Smith coming home to Chicago, and I bet he wants a good measure of revenge against his former team.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Mark Sanchez (PHI) vs. TEN: He looked a lot more like the New York Jet Mark Sanchez last Sunday and not the guy that set the world on fire last MNF. I think he'll be back to the form of the latter against the absolutely putrid Titans defense on Sunday. The Eagles also don't seem vulnerable to trap games, as this one certainly can be.

RB Denard Robinson (JAX) vs. IND: Robinson has established himself as the #1 back in Jacksonville, and despite their record, Robinson has become a viable fantasy option for the Jags. The Colts were gashed by Jonas Gray last week, so it figures that Robinson could almost pull off the same feat.

RB Dan Herron (IND) vs. JAX: With Ahmad Bradshaw done for the season, Herron is going to see more touches in the backfield. The Jaguars have allowed the most receptions by running backs this season, so Herron could be a decent option in PPR and standard leagues.

Buyer Beware:

QB Russell Wilson (SEA) vs. ARZ: He's not the same Russell Wilson as a year ago. Also, the Cardinals defense is incredibly aggressive, so even though he'll have the home field advantage, it could be a long day at the offense for the Seahawks signal caller.

Good Luck in Week 12!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The 32nd Team at a World Cup isn't an "All-Star" Team

The World Cup of Hockey will be returning in 2016. It hasn't been formally announced yet, but it's a formality. The ability to hearken back to the old Canada Cups of yore, and even the 1996 World Cup which was a breath of fresh air for USA Hockey is going to be amazing television, and who doesn't want to see more USA-Canada games? The NHL and NHLPA have wanted to control a major tournament themselves for the longest time, and this is finally their avenue to do it. But there's catch. Once you get passed the US, Canada, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Russia, there are not enough NHL players to populate an international roster of say Switzerland or Slovakia (even Russia is a stretch) without dipping into the Euro leagues. The powers-at-be would like nothing more than to avoid that. So what do you do? Can't have a six team tournament, can you?

One team, according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, is going to be a Ryder Cup style "Euro All-Star" team, essentially the best of the rest. So, I guess playing with the logo of the EU (even though Switzerland is not part of the EU so the irony will be palpable), Zdeno Chara, Jonas Hiller, Anze Kopitar will all compete for... actually I have no idea what. So that's team 7, what about team 8? The other squad will apparently be a North American all-star team of some kind. What kind? Either a cast-off team of USA/Canada rejects (I wish I was kidding), or a young all-star team, or in essence the best of North America's under 23 that wasn't already picked for Team USA or Team Canada.

If it's a struggle to fill out the 8 team roster with just NHL players for a World Cup (meaning countries competing against each other), then it's not a World Cup. It's a glorified shinny tournament.

An ideal World Cup would have the best roster possible of players from all leagues representing their countries, but the only difference from the Olympics would be the NHL controlling the whole thing instead of the IOC. There would be qualification for the 2 open slots that couldn't be filled by NHL players (3 if you really want to stretch for Russia), and players from the KHL, Swiss League, Czech league, etc. would be able to compete. Obviously, the NHL wants to keep this whole pie to themselves, meaning that this solution is impossible. The NHL wants to do something fresh and new to keep a little slice of intrigue about a World Cup... and yet it makes the tournament seem like a gimmick and money grab more than anything.

The Olympics maintain their intrigue because of the genuine country on country battles that take place. Winning a Gold Medal is one of the highest honors any athlete can achieve, and in soccer, that same feeling comes from winning a World Cup. This tournament would achieve neither of those things, especially if team Euro-reject All-Stars has to play a 3 game series against Canada to win the World Cup in Toronto. It doesn't really feel like a level playing field.

Since, if we're being honest, many of us just want to see US-Canada as we do almost every year at the World Juniors, here are couple of ideas that may be better solutions than having an "Euro all-star team of countries we couldn't fill out because not enough of them play in the NHL".

1) Just do a 7 game US-Canada super-series. Sure the other countries get excluded, but if under oath, most of us would say we only care about 3 teams in truth: The US, Canada and Russia. Since this Russian team wouldn't nearly be the best they could ice, just have the US and Canada play each other in 7 games before training camps start. Have 4 in the US (NYC, Boston, Chicago and LA) and 3 in Canada (Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto), and in 2 years, have a Canadian city host the 7th game if needed. Alternate the sites in order to keep it fresh. People would still tune into NBC or CBC and watch it because it's USA-Canada.

2) Make it a 4 team tournament. Lop off two teams if you can't fill them out instead of shoehorning bastardized all-star teams into the tournament. Just have the US, Canada, Sweden and Finland. Or, if you can fill out Russia, have them replace Finland. Or, if you're really concerned, make it a 6 team tournament with the ones you can fill out with NHL/AHL players.

3) Talk to the Euro leagues about them possible releasing their players or starting their season later. Sure they don't want to be dictated to by the NHL, but they could possibly be given a cut if this grows into something bigger. And, fans in Europe will still want to watch the tournament even if their league's players are not participating, so the Swiss League would have some leverage here, for example.

I've been awaiting a return of the World Cup of Hockey ever since the 2012-13 lockout ended, and the idea of another international hockey tournament has always excited me. Now that news has leaked that it won't really be the tournament that most of us expect, the excitement has been frittered away. It's not a tournament for national pride anymore, it's only for money. It was always for money, but at least if it looked like a real World Cup that fact would have at least been  somewhat hidden.

If this is the kind of money grab the NHL and NHLPA want, then I'd rather see ads on jerseys tomorrow, NHL expansion in Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City and Markham all at once, the league controlling all advanced stats on almost anything over this so called "World Cup".

FIFA at least hasn't screwed up the World Cup... yet. This wouldn't be a World Cup, it would be an All-Star game.

And no one likes All-Star games.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Love the Game, Hate the Bosses

FIFA's own report on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup's was released today, and if you expected anything other than the free pass Russia and Qatar got, then you're not well-versed in the ways of FIFA. The 42 page report even went on to criticize England's bid of all things, which drew the suspected ire from almost everyone in the World. FIFA's "independent" investigator Michael Garcia lambasted the report, who is appealing the findings, even though his own thorough investigation can't be released publicly due to "legal reasons", according to FIFA. Is this very confusing? Absolutely. Is it incredibly stupid? You bet. Is it also entirely expected? Again, yes. Even if everyone else on the planet knows about something fishy underneath the surface, FIFA just wants to sweep it all away without anyone noticing. They're terrible janitors in that regard.

The debate over FIFA has certainly heated up (pun absolutely intended) with Qatar's claim that they were never expected to host a World Cup in the summer even though that's exactly what they bid as if they were doing and so did every other country in competition with them did. Qatar's also been tagged with numerous human rights allegations, and of course every single bribing accusation under the sun. But, it's become abundantly clear that FIFA will not put the competition up for a re-vote even despite all of the evidence. And what little hope many people had in Michael Garcia's report was washed away quickly when it was revealed that his report couldn't be released publicly despite his criticism of Joachim Eckert's recent findings. But again, all of this was expected.

The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar no matter what, even if it was proven that FIFA's entire executive committee was bribed to high heaven. It will probably be held directly in competition with either the NFL season or the Olympics (lord knows FOX is excited about that). No number of detailed journalistic investigations from the US, England, Germany or anywhere else will change the ludicrousness of that. At this point, most soccer fans are resigned to seeing the World Cup being held in a place that doesn't deserve at a time that makes no sense because FIFA didn't realize that the desert is hot in the summer, whether they had stacks of cash in front of their eyes or not. There may be only one hope left for disillusioned soccer fans: The FBI.

How? What does the FBI have to do with anything related to an organization based in noted neutral safe-haven Switzerland? The New York Post recently revealed that former FIFA exec and noted racketeerer Chuck Blazer became a FBI informant, which meant silly things like his cats having their own expensive NYC apartment revealed, but also gave the FBI a key in in their investigation of FIFA. The FBI can hopefully use the information Blazer has in order to indite more officials for probable corruption and bring them to court. Possibly then, the FBI will sue FIFA. If that happens however, something interesting may happen.

FIFA automatically suspends federations from international football that bring up lawsuits again them, and if the FBI was to do that, the USSF would be suspended from all competitions, including the World Cup. No doubt FOX, who just spent an arm and leg to gain FIFA TV rights for the States would be ecstatic with that development. They may then jump in on the lawsuit party and sue FIFA themselves in US court. And what of the many international sponsors for FIFA, who would then lose the ability to market themselves in the biggest Capitalist economy on the planet and might raise a stink with FIFA or even pull their sponsorship?

This situation was muddled before, and is probably going to become even more muddled as time goes on. The hope that many harbored was that it would force FIFA to have a re-vote for the 2022 World Cup host, but that hope's faded long ago. Now, it's about the future of organized global soccer and whether change will be made in time for the next go-round at FIFA's HQ. They've already stated they'll put the bid process open to the whole FIFA board instead of just the executive committee, which is like dumping a small bucket of water on a 5-alarm fire. But this whole mess has done nothing other than harden this belief among soccer fans of all types:

Love the game, hate the people running it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2014 Week 11 Fantasy Advice

Can you believe Week 11 is already here? This week we might see the first team eliminated from playoff contention officially in the Oakland Raiders (as if they weren't already in reality), and a team reach 9 wins as well. There are going to be new QB's, great games, and maybe a primetime game that isn't an abomination! Hooray!


Who to Start:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. CAR: While his road splits are very poor in comparison to his home ones, it's hard to think of this matchup and not feel a little giddy. The Panthers defense, especially their secondary is abhorrently bad this season, and Ryan still has Roddy White and Julio Jones to throw to.

RB Mark Ingram (NO) vs. CIN: In the endless merry-go-round that is the New Orleans Saints backfield, it looks like Ingram is on top for now. He's been running the ball very well of late, and is going up against a Bengals rush defense that has lost a lot of its luster over the season. He could be in for another big day.

WR DeSean Jackson (WSH) vs. TB: He's been on quite a hot streak recently, and that's likely going to continue against the Bucs, whose secondary has been absolutely shredded by almost everybody this season.

WR Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) vs. ATL: Despite the fact that Cam Newton has essentially become a crash test dummy behind the turnstile that is Carolina's O-Line, Benjamin if he sees the ball should have a comeback game against a Falcons secondary that might be as bad as Carolina's.

TE Dwayne Allen (IND) vs. NE: He doesn't put up a ton of yards, but boy does he pilfer red zone targets. He has 7 TD's this season and most of them come from short yardage situations. The Patriots haven't defended Tight Ends particularly well this season, so Allen should figure to get at least 1 TD Sunday Night.

DEF Denver vs. STL: Welcome back Shaun Hill! Your first test, should you choose to accept it, is to lead your Rams into battle against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos! Uh... *cowers in fear*... why can't Austin Davis play this week?

Who to Sit:

QB Russell Wilson (SEA) vs. KC: He's very hard to bench even with a matchup as poor as this one looks on paper, but if you have a better option available it might do you well to consider it. The Chiefs are incredibly tough on defense at Arrowhead, and the Seahawks have just not looked the same away from home.

RB Reggie Bush (DET) vs. ARZ: Not only do his carries seem to be slipping away by the minute due to injury concerns or what have you, the Cardinals have one of the league's best rushing defenses regardless. Steer clear.

WR Andre Johnson (HOU) vs. CLE: Up next in the "mediocre QB's to start for Houston" derby is Ryan Mallett, who may have ties with Bill O'Brien but that does little to inspire confidence for Andre Johnson this week, who has to go up against Joe Haden even if Tom Brady was chucking passes to him.

WR Michael Floyd (ARZ) vs. DET: His fantasy production was falling off even with Carson Palmer at the control, and it's harder to have much trust in Floyd to produce when Drew Stanton takes the wheel. The Lions defense is also really really good at the same time.

TE Martellus Bennett (CHI) vs. MIN: The September Stunner, the October Occult, and the November No-Show. In layman's terms, that means Bennett is awesome in September, and not very good in other months. My calendar says it's November 12th right now so...

DEF New England vs. IND: This one should be fairly obvious, but in case it isn't: Andrew Luck is always a torrent at home, and even though New England's defense has been spectacular of late, it can be had in games like this one.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Teddy Bridgewater (MIN) vs. CHI: As most rookie QB's are, he's up and down. But this week he plays the Chicago defense which is certainly not your father's Chicago Bears defense. Bridgewater could be in for a breakout game.

RB Ryan Mathews (SD) vs. OAK: He's back! Even though he'll likely split carries and time with Branden Oliver, he should still be a decent fantasy option all things considering against the Raiders.

WR Mike Wallace (MIA) vs. BUF THU: Ryan Tannehill might be inconsistent overall, but he's consistent at home. The Bills have a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot even on defense, so this could lead to a big game for Mike Wallace.

Buyer Beware:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. TEN MON: While the Titans are very terrible, the Steelers may be equally terrible away from home. Their only wins were against Carolina and Jacksonville, and they just lost to the Jets on the road. Forgive me for not wanting to trust them away from home at all, even in Nashville.

Good Luck in Week 11!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Week 10 Fantasy Advice

Sorry for this being a day late, I was ill yesterday and couldn't write. I am better now. Was I ill because I was lugging heavy equipment around a major city on little food and water, or was it because I really wanted to find an excuse to not have to write for a day? You be the judge.


Who to Start:

QB Colin Kaepernick (SF) vs. STL: He struggled mightily last week against the Rams at home, but this game against New Orleans could kick-start his season. The Saints defense is usually porous (last Thursday against Carolina aside), and Kaep has been consistently effective on the road in his career.

RB Ronnie Hillman (DEN) vs. OAK: I think we've found who Denver's new running back is, and it's Hillman. Now consistently getting the bulk of the carries, Hillman should be in for a big day against the Raiders, because most everyone has success running the ball against Oakland.

WR Julio Jones (ATL) vs. TB: Now while he and his team have struggled mightily this season, the Bucs are the perfect tonic to cure what ails you. Jones has had really good success against Tampa in his career, and it also helps that the Bucs are generally really bad.

WR Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) vs. PHI MON: Benjamin is one of the best rookies in the NFL this season. His stature and hands are something to behold, and he has single-handedly made Carolina's offense not be the worst in football. The Eagles secondary is prone to give up the big play, and Kelvin Benjamin can usually make the big play. He could have a monster game.

TE Owen Daniels (BAL) vs. TEN: The former Texan is still trucking along quietly, and having many big games to boot. The Titans are generally quite terrible, and usually can't defend tight ends either, so Daniels could have a nice rebound game from last week's quiet showing in Pittsburgh.

DEF Arizona vs, STL: Austin Davis, meet another one of the NFC West's gauntlet. He's been able to beat both San Francisco and Seattle this season, but Arizona and this defense is at another level. The Rams have scored 20 points combined the last 2 weeks combined, and they'll score fewer than that on Sunday as well.

Who to Sit:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. GB: As the Jeff George comparisons look more and more apt, that means Cutler will throw more and more interceptions. Also, the former Vandy QB has never played well at Lambeau in his career, and you can bet the Packers will be ready for him this Sunday Night.

RB Lamar Miller (MIA) vs. DET: Did you know the Lions still have the league's #1 total and rush defense? Well now you do, and now that you know that, it's likely you won't start the inconsistent Lamar Miller on Sunday.

WR Percy Harvin (NYJ) vs. PIT: While Pittsburgh's defense may not be the same steel curtain of old, it's still pretty solid and opportunistic. With the questions at QB for the Jets, Harvin is absolutely one who should be benched on Sunday.

WR Reuben Randle (NYG) vs. SEA: While the Seahawks defense isn't the same unit as a season ago, they're still pretty tough to beat at home. Randle has seen his share of targets with Victor Cruz on the shelf, but this game presents a multitude of matchup problems for him.

TE Delanie Walker (TEN) vs. BAL: It's not gone well for him this season, and against the Ravens who are typically stout at home defensively, it could continue for Walker this Sunday in Baltimore.

DEF San Francisco (SF) vs. NO: It's the Superdome, the Saints, and the 49ers defense hasn't looked great on the road all season.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Mark Sanchez (PHI) vs. CAR MON: He looked surprisingly competent against Houston last week, and this week's matchup against Carolina is quite favorable. Their defense has not given up fewer than 28 only 3 times this season, and 2 of those games were at home and the other was against Tampa Bay. He could have a huge Monday Night.

RB Bobby Rainey (TB) vs. ATL: If Doug Martin is still on the shelf due to injury, Rainey could have a massive day against the sieve that is the Falcons defense, especially their porous run defense.

WR Mohamed Sanu (CIN) vs. CLE THU: It almost looks as if it won't matter that A.J Green is back and healthy, since Sanu will still get his targets and catches every week. The Browns will look to try to take away Green, so Sanu will be left open to reap the rewards.

Buyer Beware:

QB Ryan Tannehill (MIA) vs. DET: While he's starting to look like a bonafide top-tier QB in this league, this matchup against the Lions may quickly send him back to earth. The Lions defense has been incredibly good this season, especially at home.

Good Luck in Week 10!

Monday, November 3, 2014

To Tank or not To Tank: That is the Question

Tanking is one of those words in sports that always incites a reaction no matter what. When someone mentions "tanking", everyone's ears perk up. Normally, talk of tanking was restricted to the NBA and the NBA only... that is until this NHL season, when it became clear that tanking is now a crossover term. Since the 2015 NHL Draft is so loaded with amazing and even generational talent, it would make sense that teams like the Buffalo Sabres would try their hardest to put themselves in position to put Connor McDavid in a blue and yellow sweater next season, or at worst Jack Eichel. But the way they've gone about it is so... deliberate that it has made people wonder whether not only is it good for the game, but whether they'd want their team to do it too. The answer is not as clear-cut as you'd think.

The NBA's proposed anti-tanking measures would have made it almost completely fruitless to throw away a season in the hopes for a better draft pick, even if all it would have done is make teams tank to get in the bottom 4, not just the bottom 1. The NHL's sudden Lottery changes can be construed as the same thing, even though the Sabres have every right to cry foul. But while the NBA has been used to tanking for so long, it feels so alien for NHL onlookers. The last generational talent, a one Sidney Crosby, had his draft completely randomized by a lockout that wiped out the season. Eric Lindros, the one before him, made deliberate and brazen machinations so he didn't have to play in Quebec City (even though they ended up just fine in the end anyway), and we will never know what would have happened to Wayne Gretzky since he never had to be drafted by any team anyway. So that's why watching a team like the Sabres deliberately ice one of the worst teams in the modern era of the NHL is such a shock to the system. NBA fans are used to seeing teams like the Sixers brazenly suck in the hopes of finding the next LeBron James or Derrick Rose, since one player can so dramatically change the fortunes of an NBA team. But in the NHL? Nope.

While the Sabres are historically bad, and it certainly stinks that season-ticket holders had to pay good money to go in and watch 41 games of that slop, I don't think many of them are complaining about the strong likelihood that Connor McHockey (hi Wysh and Marek!) or the next American hockey hero Jack Eichel will don Sabres colors next season. It certainly is painful to watch the current iteration of the Sabres, but the future is bright enough that the darkness of this season doesn't matter much. Whether other teams will join them in the race for the bottom is not clear yet, especially since teams like Calgary and Winnipeg are performing above expectations at the moment, but there will certainly be teams joining them come the trade deadline.

But would you want your team to do what Buffalo has decided to do, even knowing the results aren't assured? I'd bet the majority would say go for it. One key difference between the NBA and the NHL is that the chance that one players totally transforms the fortunes of a team is almost nil for the latter, compared to a much higher rate for the former. Players worth tanking for almost never are available, and even the 10 year gap between Crosby and McDavid is sort of small once mulled over. You weren't seeing teams like the Avs tank for Nathan MacKinnon, or the Oilers (as hard as it is to believe) tanking for Taylor Hall. Being bad still has an element of luck to it, unless you are this year's Sabres, so tanking until now was almost completely worthless in the NHL.

Does that mean tanking will go into mothballs until the next Connor McDavid is draft eligible? Probably not, as there will be teams who feel their futures are best served by being as bad as possible (deliberately or not) and putting their hopes on chance, but tanking like what Buffalo is doing this year is likely to become an artifact of a past time until a generational talent comes again. The new draft lottery rules are part of this, but there aren't many players that it's worth being so bad for.

That said, if your team replaced the Sabres as the deliberate tanker, you'd probably champion it. There may never be a draft like the upcoming one ever again, so why not cast your lot?

It's not like the Sabres have much choice anymore.