Thursday, December 31, 2015

Did You See That: The 2015 Year-End Awards

A New Year's Eve (ish) tradition unlike any other... no, it's not Auld Lang Syne, nor the College Football Playoff Semifinals, it's the Matt's Sports Musings Year End Awards! These awards do not go to the great successes, accomplishments and records broken in the 365 days gone by. These awards are more for the under-appreciated, undervalued and also the underwhelming in 2015. Nobody tried to win them, nobody is getting dressed up to accept them: the 2015 year-end awards!

The "Punters are People Too" Award: Michigan Punter Blake O'Neill

Rich Eisen popularized the phrase "punters are people too", in order to give some love to the nonathletic and foreign on the football field: the punter. The punter is a unique species of athlete and character, particularly if you're Australian or a 3rd round draft pick from Cal. Blake O'Neill during the game against Michigan State had the highest of highs (????) and lowest of lows: an 80 yard punt, and then muffing a snap that lead to one of the craziest finishes in college football history as well as a slightly more epic Sean McDonough voice crack. The good news is, you didn't become an internet meme like shocked Michigan fan guy did. Speaking of memes:

The "Arthur Fonzarelli Award for Shark Jumping Excellence": The Crying Jordan Meme

Once the internet at-large latches on to something, good luck stopping that runaway freight train. The origin of this inane meme isn't even from 2015, but you sure as hell wouldn't know it for all of the times you've seen it. He's been photoshopped on the head of basically everyone, including animals for some reason. At least it was funny... until October. Then, the meme became enshrined on a cake. Even Fonzie is trying to dust off his old jet-ski now. Then again, he probably wouldn't totally screw up how memes is pronounced like Bryce Harper did. (What the hell is a Mehme? Ottoman? Turkish? Drunk?)

The "Is Paul Wall Still Relevant" Award: Tom Herman

As I'm writing this piece out, Herman's Houston Cougars are boatracing the Florida State Seminoles in the Peach Bowl. He promised his team that if they won the American Conference this season, he'd get fitted for a grill. Which he did. Apparently it's 2004 again and I've been transported back in time. Does this mean the Jaguars are somewhat decent again? I'd take that. Not so sure about the 2004 Presidential Race though.

The "What does Hubris mean" Award: Chip Kelly

After his "famous" power-struggle with then Eagles GM Howie Roseman, Kelly won total control of the Eagles franchise on the football side, including player personnel decisions. And he promptly took a team that won the NFC East in 2013 and was close to doing so in 2014 to a dumpster fire in 2015, and he's fallen on his sword because of it. Turns out giving megalomaniacs total control and power isn't a wise idea, Jeff.

The "Subtly Racist Faux Controversies" Award: Jose Bautista's Bat Flip and Cam Newton's Dabbing

If you are old, impressionable, sheltered and white, you may just want to skip over this award. Jose Bautista's bat flip and Cam Newton's dabbing both became faux controversies because apparently in sports you aren't allowed to celebrate doing well. Even the notoriously buttoned up Canadian fans were going bonkers over Jose Bautista's bat flip which probably landed in Mimico. EVEN DON CHERRY APPROVED OF IT. And on the subject of Cam's TD dances, I've already eviscerated Nashville's finest already, so go take a look at that if you haven't already. That lady is probably ringing in the New Year with Owl City, a prayer circle and O'Douls. Avoid that party like the plague.

The "Rich Kotite Award for Coaching Excellence": Jose Mourinho

I guess he got sick of being serenaded with "you're getting sacked in the morning" at every ground he traveled to. Or, he really wanted to have his name misspelled by an overzealous and overeager Manchester United fan on a bootleg scarf. Either way, from champion of England to the butt of jokes across the globe, Jose Mourinho won't be celebrating the New Year on Roman's yacht just outside of Monaco, I'd guess. How do you think that conversation over a glass of champagne would go?

The "Strange Brew" Award: Jake Anderson, UVA Club Hockey Goalie

"Strange Brew" is a film for die-hard hockey fans, wannabee Canadians and Canadians who have absolutely no shame. Jake Anderson is not Canadian (at least that I know of). But, he certainly acted like it here:

 Rivalry game, unruly frat bros and a Keystone Light. The perfect combination.

The "NFL has too much Power and Influence" Award: Luke McCown's Verizon Commercial

Since when did backup QB's not named Tebow get commercial time? Apparently Luke McCown earned it because... he's not Josh and playing in Cleveland? He's not Cade McNown? He won a game starting for the Jaguars once that nobody outside of me remembers happening? Verizon is really desperate? An ad executive was drunk?

And finally...

The "Uniform Promotions Gone Badly Wrong" Award: The Bakersfield Condors "50 Shades of Grey" Uniforms

Let nothing more need be said.
Your trophies are in the mail. No refunds.

2015 Week 17 Fantasy Advice

Wait, you mean there is a week of fantasy football after Championship Sunday? Yes, some leagues do play in Week 17, and they need some love too. So here is a tribute to those who forget to set their lineups in Week 17 when they've drank too much champagne beforehand.

Who to Start:

QB Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. CHI: He's been very goo of late, especially after the change at offensive coordinator. Too bad the Lions have been practically irrelevant since then, but for fantasy owners he is quite relevant. His matchup against the Bears weak secondary is also pretty good Sunday as well (other starts: Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan)

RB Todd Gurley (STL) vs. SEA: In a terrible matchup, Gurley performed admirably, and far better than expected. His season has been up and down for St. Louis, but that should change against the 49ers who are nothing more than a folding lawn chair at this point (other starts: Tim Hightower, DeAngelo Williams, Frank Gore)

WR A.J Green (CIN) vs. BAL: This is still fairly obvious despite the presence of A.J McCarron, but Green has always torched the Baltimore Ravens whenever they play each other. He had 227 yards and two TD's against the Ravens in Week 3, and the Ravens had their moment in the sun last week against Pittsburgh.

WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) vs. CLE: Yes, he had a massive dud last week which probably killed some hopes and dreams last Sunday, but the matchup against Cleveland is still pretty favorable, especially since the Steelers are going to be fairly desperate for a win here (other sits: Eric Decker, Jordan Matthews, Ted Ginn)

TE Zach Ertz (PHI) vs. NYG: He has been one of the best TE's in fantasy football recently, and you could do worse starting him against the fairly pathetic Giants defense, who are even worse against TE's than you might imagine (other starts: Gary Barnidge, Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce)

DEF Denver vs. SD: The Broncos need a win, and the Chargers don't have many players left on offense. The Broncos held San Diego to three points in Week 13, and there's no reason to think that they can't put up a similar performance this week (other starts: Rams, Bengals, Texans)

Who to Sit:

QB Kirk Cousins (WSH) vs. DAL: Your NFC East Champion Washington Potatoes! They are the only team in the playoffs who are locked into their seed, and even though Jay Gruden has said that he will play his starters, Cousins was flummoxed by Dallas in Week 13 so the combination is worrying when everything is on the line (other sits: Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Tyrod Taylor)

RB Jeremy Hill (CIN) vs. BAL: Touchdowns are obviously very good in fantasy football, but yardage also definitely helps too, and Hill doesn't get those. The Ravens basically held him in check in Week 3, and there's no reason to think they won't do that again (other sits: Latavius Murray, Darren McFadden, Lamar Miller)

WR Sammy Watkins (BUF) vs. NYJ: He was shut down by Dallas last week, and the Jets secondary and Revis Island is still pretty good, and he only had 14 yards when the two teams met in Week 10.

WR Mike Evans (TB) vs. CAR: This is the last time I'm going to get a chance to mention his name in this column this season, but I'm excited to do it again: JOSH. NORMAN. Even if he didn't have a good game against the Falcons last week (other sits: Randall Cobb, DeSean Jackson, T.Y Hilton)

TE Jordan Cameron (MIA) vs. NE: This matchup is nice on paper, but Cameron has been tough to trust this season for fantasy owners and since Week 17 means everything is on the line, it's certainly tough to trust him here (other sits: Jason Witten, Jordan Reed, Heath Miller)

DEF Philadelphia vs. NYG: They have a Top 10 fantasy defense, but would you trust them without a coach, without motivation, and on the road in Week 17? (other sits: Bills, Cardinals, Vikings)

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Brian Hoyer (HOU) vs. JAX: Hoyer is returning this Sunday and even though Houston practically has the division wrapped up, he needs to get some form heading into the playoffs. The Jaguars secondary is the perfect way to round into shape, as last week's evidence against Drew Brees shows.

WR Reuben Randle (NYG) vs. PHI: There could and probably should be a ton of points scored in the matchup to avoid playing the Rams in London next season, and Randle should benefit from that, even though he did next to nothing last Sunday in Minnesota.

TE Zach Miller (CHI) vs. DET: Former Jaguars legend Zach Miller has become a bonafide fantasy Tight End as the season has evolved, and the matchup against the poor Lions defense is a nice one to imprint some memories for drafts next August.

Buyer Beware:

QB Carson Palmer (ARZ) vs. SEA: He has been the architect of a fantastic offense this season, and he did have a great game against Seattle in Week 10, but consider this before Week 17: Arizona's motivation is there but won't be nearly as present because of their thumping of Green Bay last week, and preserving Palmer for the playoffs is of the utmost precedence.

Good Luck in Week 17, and happy new year! This is the seventh consecutive season I've written this fantasy football column, and I hope you've been given a little smidgen of advice that has helped you this season. This may or may not be the last season I write this column, so if it is the last one hopefully the many of these posts on this blog over the last six years have been helpful to you and has done something to enrich your Wednesdays/Thursdays. Have a great and healthy 2016!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Week 16 Fantasy Advice

'Twas the night before the fantasy football Championship Sunday and all through the land... this writer can't rhyme worth a damn so he's not going to even try to fake it. It's pretty apparent what the significance is of this week if you weren't aware, and if you're not in any important games... take heed in that you can watch Redzone without worrying about Charcandrick West, I guess.

Who to Start:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. BAL: Do the Ravens have anyone left that feels remotely like a Baltimore Raven defender? The answer is probably not. The Steelers have torched just about everybody through the air this season, including defenses far better than Baltimore's, which means Big Ben could have big day on Championship Sunday (other starts: Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins (SAT), Teddy Bridgewater)

RB Doug Martin (TB) vs. CHI: He hasn't lit up the stat sheets all that much of late, but the Bears defense has been susceptible to big games on the ground, so Martin, who is one of the NFL's leading rushers, could have a decent day out on Sunday (other starts: David Johnson, Latavius Murray (THU), Frank Gore)

WR DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) vs. TEN: Despite the Texans QB uncertainty, Nuk could be in for a big day anyway against the porous Titans secondary. He had a big game against Tennessee in Week 8, so even with the QB questions, Hopkins is still a good play.

WR DeSean Jackson (WSH) vs. PHI SAT: Revenge games are the best, forever and for always. Jackson is always capable of busting a big play, and not only does it help that the Eagles secondary is bad and injured, Jackson should be extra motivated against his former team to make the play that propels Washington to an NFC East title (other starts: Martavis Bryant, Jarvis Landry, Jeremy Maclin)

TE Benjamin Watson (NO) vs. JAX: He's quietly done a very good job in replacing Jimmy Graham down by the Bayou, and he's been playing really well of late. This week he's going up against the Jaguars who are one of the worst teams in the league at defending against the Tight End, so another big day for Watson is probably in the offing (other starts: Antonio Gates (THU), Zach Ertz (SAT), Gary Barnidge)

DEF Kansas City vs. CLE: Johnny Football against the red hot, surging and opportunistic Kansas City defense with the playoffs on the line. Sign me up (other starts: HOU, PIT, CAR).

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. CAR: He was decent last week in Jacksonville, but Carolina is another animal entirely (yes Panthers and Jaguars are similar, what of it?). He barely mustered five fantasy points last time out against the Panthers, and it's hard to imagine him doing any better this time around (other sits: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, Brock Osweiler (MON))

RB Eddie Lacy (GB) vs. ARZ: Running back carousels are always difficult to parse out, and Green Bay's certainly has been one worth avoiding to prevent whiplash and dizziness. Arizona is tough against the run, so Lacy is one to dodge on Championship Sunday (other sits: DeMarco Murray (SAT-Duh), Chris Ivory, Ronnie Hillman)

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. BUF: Kellen Moore. It doesn't matter that the Bills secondary has been iffy.

WR A.J Green (CIN) vs. DEN MON: It's hard to trust any great receiver with a backup QB tossing them the rock (see the above for proof positive), and this is especially true against good defenses. Denver's defense is still rock solid even in the face of last week's evidence, so Green is a risky play with everything on the line (other sits: Tavon Austin, Julio Jones, Anquan Boldin)

TE Travis Kelce (KC) vs. CLE: In Andy Reid's offenses, one would expect the Tight End to be wildly successful. Kelce has been... but not recently. The Browns have been tough on the position this season, and even though there is little depth here across the board, this is still a risky play (other sits: Heath Miller, Jason Witten, Jordan Cameron)

DEF New York Jets vs. NE: It should be apparent why they are here, and even with the Pats hamstrung on offense a bit, a matchup against them in fantasy-land is never a good thing (other sits: GB, STL, MIN)

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Drew Brees (NO) vs. JAX: He's a must start if he's healthy... so if he's here, he must not be. In fantasy championships, it's hard to risk injured players, and even though it would be a shock if he sat, it's a risk to play him even in the face of a very tasty matchup. He's a sleeper because he may or may not play, but if he does, watch out.

RB Lamar Miller (MIA) vs. IND: It's been hard to trust the Dolphins RB this season because of some inconsistencies, but this week those should not be present against the Colts, who look toothless up front and against the run, as they have recently.

WR Kamar Aiken (BAL) vs. PIT: It's Jimmy Clausen, but Aiken has found a way to put up numbers in the face of the guy throwing him the ball. Pittsburgh's defense is still really bad, so Aiken could be a sneaky Championship decider on Sunday.

Buyer Beware:

QB Aaron Rodgers (GB) vs. ARZ: It's usually impossible to sit someone like Rodgers, especially in Week 16. But if you have someone with a better matchup, it may be worth considering. The Cardinals defense even without the Honey Badger is fierce, and Rodgers has struggled of late, especially away from Lambeau. Buyer beware.

Good Luck in Week 16 and your fantasy championships and have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2015 Week 15 Fantasy Advice

Fantasy playoffs are now no doubt here, so it's winner take all for all the marbles, all the cash and all of the pride. You've got one shot left to make a statement; to prove yourself, so you'd best take it. Even though my successes this season were limited, I'll take psychic pride in knowing someone else did really well with my help.

Who to Start:

QB Russell Wilson (SEA) vs. CLE: I would put Carson Palmer here, but I thought that would be too obvious. Is there a QB hotter in the league right now than Wilson? He's been dialed in, not making mistakes, and now gets to face the Browns secondary without Joe Haden. Must-start (other starts: Carson Palmer, Matt Stafford (MON), Philip Rivers)

RB David Johnson (ARZ) vs. PHI: With all of the injuries and shuffling in the Cardinals backfield, Johnson has come out on top, and has taken advantage of his new-found focus in the Cardinals offense. The Eagles defense has been pretty terrible of late, so Johnson could end up becoming a fantasy playoffs hero (other starts: DeAngelo Williams, Lamar Miller, Chris Ivory (SAT))

WR DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) vs. IND: It's a large unknown right now as to who will be tossing him the rock on Sunday in Indianapolis. Yes, that does affect his fantasy status. But it's hard to bench him anyway, especially against a Colts team that just gave up 51 (!!!!!!!!!!) to Jacksonville.

WR Sammy Watkins (BUF) vs. WSH: Watkins has been consistent this season when Tyrod Taylor is throwing him the ball, and that should continue this Sunday in Washington against a secondary that is starting to get quite banged up (other starts: John Brown, Danny Amendola, Jeremy Maclin)

TE Gary Barnidge (CLE) vs. SEA: The matchup against the Seahawks is actually quite favorable for Tight Ends, much to the surprise of many. With Johnny Football under center, Barnidge has actually seen his targets and catches go up, so he could be in for a sneaky good day on Sunday (other starts: Richard Rodgers, Ben Watson (MON), Eric Ebron (MNF))

DEF Kansas City vs. BAL: Does anyone know who the Ravens have on offense anymore? Neither do I (other starts: SEA, NE, CIN)

Who to Sit:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. CAR: The rollercoaster season had another up on Monday night against Miami, but Carolina's defense is an entirely different animal. Josh Norman, that pass rush, and Eli's general inconsistency make it hard to push for him to start (other sits: Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston (THU))

RB DeMarco Murray (PHI) vs. ARZ: All that money for a fourth string job in the crowded Eagles backfield. Us owners of Murray's should have seen the forest through the trees, but we were blind. To make matters even worse, the matchup against Arizona is ugly too (other sits: Darren McFadden, Javorius Allen, Ronnie Hillman)

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. NYJ SAT: Since Matt Cassel has returned to the Dallas hot seat, Dez's production has fallen off a cliff. And with the Jets still posing a stiff defense on the other side, it's hard to start him in any circumstances considering the fantasy playoffs are all or nothing.

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. OAK: It's been a rough ride for Cobb recently in fantasy-land, and last week even though not amazing was his best performance in quite some time. The Raiders defense is better than you'd expect, so Cobb is another mark in the sit column this week (other sits: Mike Evans (THU), Brandin Cooks (MON), Amari Cooper)

TE Delanie Walker (TEN) vs. NE: A permanent fixture in the "start" portion of this column recently, he's found himself here this week. Why? The Pats take away your best playmaker consistently, and the Titans in lack of others... you know the drill (other sits: Travis Kelce, Jason Witten, Kyle Rudolph)

DEF Minnesota vs. CHI: The Vikings defense has struggled in recent weeks thanks to all of their injuries, and even though Chicago can usually be quite a favorable matchup, it's still a risky play considering the circumstances this week (other sits: PHI, BAL, DET)

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. JAX: Yes, he's been incredibly awful of late. Yes, the Falcons are in a tailspin. But Ryan is going up against a Jacksonville defense that is inconsistent at best. They were dominant a week ago but gave up 31 points to a Chargers team that has since scored 6, and then gave up 42 to the Titans who have since scored 8.

RB Bilal Powell (NYJ) vs. DAL SAT: The only holdup in playing Powell has to be the rotation in the backfield with Chris Ivory. Powell was potent against the Titans last Sunday, so this week it could be an iffy start, but against a Dallas defense that gave up nearly 250 rushing yards to Green Bay, Powell will probably be fine.

WR T.Y Hilton (IND) vs. HOU: The QB question is a large one here too, just like with DeAndre Hopkins on the other side, but with the Texans defense being as poor as it is, it's hard to bench Hilton all things considered, even if Charlie Whitehurst starts.

Buyer Beware:

WR Odell Beckham (NYG) vs. CAR: You can't sit ODB, you just can't. I know, but it's Josh Norman, he shuts down everybody in his path. The only one he didn't shut down was Hopkins because the Texans chucked it to him at every opportunity. This is a tough call obviously, but as the title says, buyer beware.

Good Luck in Week 15 and in the Playoffs!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

2015 Week 14 Fantasy Advice

      Did you have a lucky Week 13? Fantasy playoffs are either starting already, or about to, so even though this intro is basically the same from last week's column, but the importance of the commentary remains. There is (probably) money at stake here, and reputations to go with it!

Who to Start:

QB Tyrod Taylor (BUF) vs. PHI: Despite what Tom Brady's performance might otherwise indicate, the Eagles secondary is still pretty abysmal. That Patriots game feels like the exception rather than the rule, and Tyrod Taylor should feast on that. Now that he has his full complement of weapons back, Taylor should have another big day at the office (other starts: Carson Palmer (THU), Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston)

RB Lamar Miller (MIA) vs. NYG MON: With the way Ryan Tannehill has struggled recently, common sense would dictate that the Dolphins try to run the ball more. They really should against the Giants, who have one of the worst rush defenses in the league (other starts: Thomas Rawls, Jonathan Stewart, Shaun Draughn)

WR Alshon Jeffery (CHI) vs. WSH: Even though he hasn't hit the endzone since Week 8, keep the faith folks. This matchup against Washington is pretty favorable, and even more so since this game is in Chicago and not Landover. 

WR Eric Decker (NYJ) vs. TEN: Decker has been consistent if not entirely that flashy this season, and that form should continue against the Titans at home this week. The Titans have been torn asunder by almost everyone they have played through the air recently, including allowing the Jaguars to set numerous franchise records in the process last week (other starts: Martavis Bryant, Mike Evans, Doug Baldwin)

TE Travis Kelce (KC) vs. SD: Thin position in fantasy terms means those who haven't been consistent or have iffy matchups often get favor. Kelce has the former of those two vices, and since the matchup against the Chargers is favorable considering the injuries on San Diego's defense, it's hard to say no to Kelce on Sunday (other starts: Delanie Walker, Jordan Reed, Eric Ebron)

DEF Detroit vs. STL: The Lions haven't been a great fantasy defense this season, but they're going up against Case Keenum and the Rams this week, which means that the Lions after being a poor option all year now has a little hope on its side (other starts: GB, CAR, DEN)

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. CAR: His wildly inconsistent performances have been reason enough to bench the former BC Eagle, but this week he goes up against a team he's had next to no success against: Carolina. Sure the Panthers D was knocked down a peg in New Orleans, but this is still the best defense in the league for a reason (other sits: Matthew Stafford, Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr)

RB Eddie Lacy (GB) vs. DAL: We're reaching a point in fantasy circles where the Packers backfield is becoming the same sort of fantasy minefield that the Patriots backfield once was. Figuring out who is going to get the bulk of the carries feels like solving the mystery of the universe. Therefore, even with a decent matchup, avoid Lacy if you can (other sits: Javorius Allen, Latavius Murray, LeGarrette Blount)

WR Amari Cooper (OAK) vs. DEN: He's had a great season no doubt, and should be in the offensive rookie of the year conversation. But with Derek Carr's form dropping off a cliff of late, and Coop being matched up against Aqib Talib on Sunday, this is a risky play. Cooper had only 47 yards in the first meeting between these two in October.

WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) vs. ARZ THU: I hate putting Stef here because I bleed the Maryland flag, but the Vikings pass offense is so inconsistent and usually punchless, and Stef will be shadowed by a certain honey badger on Thursday night. Honey Badgers are a little bit more potent than Diamondback Terrapins, at least in this instance (other sits: Julio Jones, DeSean Jackson, Randall Cobb)

TE Jason Witten (DAL) vs. GB: Do you trust Matt Cassel? I don't (other sits: Benjamin Watson, Zach Ertz, Charles Clay)

DEF Houston vs. NE: Their dominant streak has come to an end, and they suddenly look more vulnerable than they have at any point since early on in the season. The Patriots might be dinged up on offense, but they are bad matchup no matter what (other sits: MIN, PHI, MIA)

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Matt Hasslebeck (IND) vs. JAX: He says he's healthy, but even if he was 85% effective he'd still likely throw for 300+ yards against the sieve that is the Jaguars secondary of late. They can't rush the passer, so Hasslebeck will likely come out with few grass stains on his jersey and a big day at the office too.

RB David Johnson (ARZ) vs. MIN THU: With all of the injuries in the Cardinals backfield, and on the Vikings defense, David Johnson could be staring down the barrel at another solid performance when fantasy owners need it most. 

TE Scott Chandler (NE) vs. HOU: The matchup isn't amazing on paper, but his rapport with Tom Brady has to be improving. He'll see his fair share of targets for sure, and he should start turning those into yards and fantasy points.

Buyer Beware:

RB Jeremy Hill (CIN) vs. PIT: He's been great the last three weeks, so why would he be here? He hasn't been that great against the Steelers in his career; 69 yards per game in three games without a touchdown. Even though Pittsburgh's defense hasn't been great this season, buyer beware.

Good Luck in Week 14!  

Monday, December 7, 2015

Bowling For Soup

During the whitewash of a typical NFL Sunday, 80 teams found out what bowl game they'll take part in to end the 2015 campaign. There is plenty of excitement in matchups such as Florida/Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, Iowa making its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1992, Ohio State/Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, and the list could go on. But buried (or not buried) were the announcements of other bowls, such as the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, the AutoNation Cure Bowl, the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl... some of these names sound as if Jimmy Fallon made them up. 

Not only are three 5-7 teams bowl participants this season because not enough teams won six games, but Colorado State and Nevada are playing each other in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl. If that sound strange to you, it's because it should; these teams are Mountain West conference mates, though they did not play this season. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson is not pleased with the outcome, despite all his attempts to prevent it. "It is a travesty the Mountain West has been forced into this situation. Clearly, the system is broken." 

Commissioner Thompson is 100% correct. Three teams with sub .500 records in a bowl game should raise alarm, but two team in the same conference playing each other even in a world where conferences are too big to begin with is a bridge too far. But, he can do nothing to stop even more bowls from being created to cash in on this simple truth: even the stupidest and most useless of bowls matching two teams that four years ago were in FCS makes money hand over fist. The crowds may be sparse, but because its football, its free ratings money rolling in for ESPN. 

Is there any coincidence that a bowl created so Sinclair's American Sports Network syndication arm could get a slice of the bowl pie is under the microscope like the Arizona Bowl is? Is there any coincidence that CBS Sports Network's first bowl, the Cure Bowl, pits 6-6 Georgia State (who needed a win on the final Saturday of the season to become bowl eligible) against 5-7 San Jose State? There is no reason for ESPN's complete and total monopoly on meaningless meandering exhibitions of mediocre football, but the solution is breaking it up, not adding more bowls to the mix.

One of the popular narratives permeating this Christmas season is how ESPN is hemorrhaging subscribers, which means they are losing money (although they make it back in spades through advertising and subscriber fees). So free money, as these bowl games are, will be multiplying just for that reason, since ESPN and the suits know that people will watch because its football, and Americans just can't get enough football, even if it's Louisiana Tech vs. Arkansas State. Teams like those two deserve to be rewarded for their good seasons, but if bowl games are sliced even by one third, 7-5 "Power 5" teams will be taken over 9-3 "Group of 5 teams" every time.

It's a catch 22 for not only those teams, but bowl organizers (ESPN themselves in many an occasion) who probably can see the writing on the wall, but are kept on life support because of the money they make, though not necessarily for themselves. And so long as the checks keep flowing in like rainwater, the bowl games are going nowhere, despite protestations to this sad state of affairs.

The ideal number of bowl games seems to be around 25, with maybe 18-19 on ESPN/ABC and the rest spread around to FOX/CBS/NBC and their cable networks. They deserve as much of a piece of the pie as ESPN does, as they do contribute in large ways to the greater college football product. But as the number of bowls increases, the number of bowls ESPN swallows whole will increase too. 

The players, coaches, bowl organizers, cable networks are all beneficiaries to a business that seems too big to fail, and the only ones who are losers seem to be the keyboard warriors (me) who see this outgrowth as unnecessary excess capitalizing on our insatiable appetite for football, even when being starved of Bulldogs vs. Red Wolves would do us as a collective a little good in becoming healthier sports fan.

Bowl season needs Weight Watchers, and we need a bit of a football detox. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

2015 Week 13 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 12 and Thanksgiving? Now that you have woken up from your stuffing and tryptophan induced coma, it's time to get yourself ready for the playoffs that lie ahead. For some, they have already started. For others, this is your last chance to get in and/or jockey for position, so making the right calls this week is more critical than ever.

Who to Start:

QB Cam Newton (CAR) vs. NO: Not only is Cam red hot and playing the best football of his career, now he gets to go against the wet tissue paper that is the New Orleans pass defense. Superman has been dabbing all over the Saints in recent meetings, and there is no reason to think that he won't be able to do it again (other starts: Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton)

RB Matt Forte (CHI) vs. SF: He wasn't awe inspiring against the Packers on Thanksgiving night, and many are worried about how touches and plays will be split with him and rookie Jeremy Langford, the matchup against San Francisco is quite favorable for both of them. There isn't much risk in starting either the veteran or the rookie on Sunday (other starts: Jonathan Stewart, LeGarrette Blount, Doug Martin)

WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) vs. BAL: Hello PPR Superstar. Last week, thanks mainly to garbage time, he went off for 13 catches and 165 yards, and this was against the stout Jets defense. Next up, the Ravens secondary that is depleted by injuries and gave up big plays to Josh McCown and Austin Davis on Monday night.

WR T.Y Hilton (IND) vs. PIT: He hasn't been great of late, but the performance against the Bucs could awaken him down the stretch when the Colts need him most. The Steelers secondary was torched for five touchdowns against by Seattle last week, and even with the aging Matt Hasslebeck starting, Hilton could have another huge game (other starts: Alshon Jeffery, Martavis Bryant, Michael Crabtree)

TE Delanie Walker (TEN) vs. JAX: He went for over 100 yards in the first meeting between the two teams this season, and repeatedly the Jaguars have shown that they cannot defend Tight Ends. Marcus Mariota doesn't have the weapons on the outside to challenge even a bad Jags secondary, so Walker could have another big afternoon (other starts: Kyle Rudolph, Greg Olsen, Coby Fleener)

DEF Cincinnati vs. CLE: Austin Davis is starting. Need we say more? (other starts: ARZ, DEN, CHI).

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. TB: Some of his throws recently have been beyond head-scratching and have gone into "should the Falcons bench him" territory. Now even though in reality that wouldn't be a wise decision, in fantasy you absolutely should bench him considering Tampa's pass defense has improved and due to his inconsistencies (other sits: Russell Wilson, Tyrod Taylor, Brian Hoyer)

RB Latavius Murray (OAK) vs. KC: Kansas City's defense has been very solid against the run all season, and while there aren't many options left at the running back position, Murray is a risky play on Sunday due to this (other sits: T.J Yeldon, Eddie Lacy (THU), Frank Gore)

WR Brandin Cooks (NO) vs. CAR: Josh. Norman.

WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) vs. SEA: Even though Seattle's formerly fearsome pass defense isn't quite what it used to be, they can still shut down opposing signal callers and pass offenses especially those prone to it like Minnesota's, which means the former Terp is not necessarily the best option (other sits: Jordan Matthews, Doug Baldwin, Mike Evans)

TE Jason Witten (DAL) vs. WSH MON: The Matt Cassell factor here obviously comes in to play, but he's not the elite fantasy Tight End he once was, and the Washington defense is way better at FedEx Field than it is on the road (other sits: Zach Ertz, Benjamin Watson, Martellus Bennett)

DEF St. Louis vs. ARZ: The Cardinals offense on the road is not the same as it is at home, but the Rams defense has dropped off a cliff from a fantasy perspective. They're now a very risky proposition (other sits: PHI, NYJ, BUF).

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Marcus Mariota (TEN) vs. JAX: When these teams met a couple of weeks ago, he was very solid all night long. He wasn't incredibly effective, but this week facing next to no pass rush and a secondary that was torched against San Diego he could be in for a better day than even the first Thursday night.

RB Javorius Allen (BAL) vs. MIA: The center of the Ravens no-name brigade on offense, he could be in for a big game because he is the focal point of the offense going up against a woeful Miami defense.

WR Danny Amendola (NE) vs. PHI: While his health might not be in the best of shape, he's going to be one of the more reliable of the few weapons Tom Brady has left, and the Eagles defense is still a sieve.

Buyer Beware:

WR Sammy Watkins (BUF) vs. HOU: He can take the top off of almost any defense, but the Houston defense has been insanely good since getting their tails kicked by Miami in late October. In fact, they've allowed only two touchdowns since then in four games! Watkins is a major risk on Sunday even though he's become an almost assured start every week.

Good Luck in Week 13!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015 Week 12 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 11? The fantasy season is beginning to wind down fast, so time is of the essence to pad your lead or play catch up. Thanksgiving can often be the beginning of playoff season, but this season it's a bit slower to generate. Doesn't change the importance though.

Who to Start:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. WSH: He's always due a turnover or two, but this matchup in Washington bodes well for him. He's thrown 10 TD passes in his last three games against DC and they were just torched by Cam Newton and Carolina one week ago (other starts: Carson Palmer, Brian Hoyer, Carson Palmer).

RB DeMarco Murray (PHI) vs. DET THU: He's burned many a fantasy owner expecting big things out of him (see, me), but this Thanksgiving matchup against the Lions is a tasty one. The Lions run defense has been gashed repeatedly this season, and with a short week and the Eagles possibly not having Ryan Mathews, Murray could have a nice day (other starts: Chris Ivory, Jonathan Stewart (THU), Doug Martin)

WR Calvin Johnson (DET) vs. PHI THU: Usually I shouldn't have to tell you to start Calvin Johnson, but this season starting him hasn't been quite as obvious a play. He hasn't been putting up points lately, but the Eagles secondary has been carved up better than your turkey tomorrow. He's worth starting again, at least this week.

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. CHI THU: He's been a sit recently, and for good reason not only because of the teams he's gone up against. But Chicago isn't Denver, Carolina or Minnesota. Cobb and the Packers offense seemed to find their groove against last week, so against the Bears normalcy should return (other starts: Jarvis Landry, Eric Decker, Travis Benjamin (MON))

TE Antonio Gates (SD) vs. JAX: He and the Chargers are really dinged up, but the matchup in Jacksonville on Sunday is very favorable. The Jags have never been able to defend Tight Ends well, and with limited options, Philip Rivers is going to have to throw the ball to someone (Other starts: Delanie Walker, Jimmy Graham, Crockett Gilmore (MON))

DEF Arizona vs. SF: The Blaine train is pulling into the station! This is very good news for Arizona! (Other starts: NYJ, KC, GB (THU))

Who to Sit:

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. STL: He did bounce back against the Cardinals last Sunday, but that is seemingly an outlier to his recent performances which have been anything but inspiring. The Rams defense, despite what happened to them against the Bears two weeks ago, is still pretty stout against the pass, so Dalton is a risky play on Sunday (other sits: Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith)

RB Latavius Murray (OAK) vs. TEN: I keep waiting for him to break out and become a bonafide fantasy #1, and I'm still waiting. The matchup against the Titans is surprisingly not favorable, as their defense has been pretty stout against the run all season (other sits: Frank Gore, C.J Anderson, Lamar Miller)

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. CAR THU: "You can't sit Dez", would be a comment that I'd get if people actually read this column. But remember who he is going to be matched up against on this Thanksgiving: Josh Norman. Only one number one had any sort of success against him this season, and that was DeAndre Hopkins after he was targeted it felt like 20 times. This is a tough play despite the name and relationship with Tony Romo.

WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) vs. ATL: I hate putting a Terp here, because I love all of them especially Stef, but his recent performances have been slipping of late, and the Falcons secondary has been pretty good this season. This is a tough matchup (other sits: Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Maclin, Anquan Boldin).

TE Jordan Cameron (MIA) vs. NYJ: He scored a TD last week! It felt like a miracle! The Jets have been really stout against Tight Ends this season, so expecting a repeat performance isn't really worth the energy (other sits: Ben Watson, Charles Clay, Jason Witten).

DEF Indianapolis vs. TB: The Bucs offense looked really good last Sunday (against a far worse defense) while the Colts defense feasted on some terrible play from Matt Ryan. The trend might continue for the Bucs offense, while switching for the Colts defense (other sits: DAL, BUF, NYG).

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Brian Hoyer (HOU) vs. NO: *Checks who Houston is playing* Start Brian Hoyer immediately if you have him.

RB Chris Johnson (ARZ) vs. SF: The former CJ2K has been up and down this season, but he probably will be up this week against the 49ers defense, which is a shell of its former self and was gashed by Thomas Rawls last Sunday.

WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) vs. SEA: The Steelers pass offense is dynamite, and the Seahawks Legion of Boom is not what it used to be. Bryant can feast on big plays, and his fantasy owners might well do the same on Sunday.

Buyer Beware:

QB Tony Romo (DAL) vs. CAR THU: He looked perfectly fine against Miami on Sunday, even with a little rust. The question is can he put together a great performance against the incredibly stout Panthers defense on Thursday? They've shut down almost everyone they've faced this season, so this matchup is sketchy even though the temptation is there.

Good Luck in Week 12 and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Perspective on Putting Sports in Perspective

   As I have written here in many different forms before, and will no doubt do more of in the future, I loathe the phrase, "puts sports into perspective". This phrase was in noxious overuse this weekend because of the tragedy in Paris. Despite what horrors all of us witnessed that Friday night wherever we witnessed them, tragedy doesn't beget life, which as cruel as it sounds does go on whatever grief we are stricken with.

  Sports is not only a fantastic coping mechanism, but a great way of reminding ourselves that life will go on no matter what may have changed because of tragedies along the way. France's secretary of sport said to the AP recently that this weekends Ligue 1 games will be played (albeit without traveling fans) because, "life must go on" and that calling the games off is "exactly what these barbarians want". Without mincing words, Thierry Braillard nails the sentiment that I'm surprised more people haven't championed: sports are evidence of normal life, and often times can be the indicator that life will move on after tragedy.

   On September 21, 2001, the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. This was the first professional sports game to be played in New York City since 9/11, and no matter what impact on the standings there was for the game, it was a sign to New York and the world that even after the deepest and most horrible tragedies, and despite the fact that the world and our lives would forever be different and changed, life is going to go on whether we want to be scared or not. It took quite a bit of gumption for New Yorkers to try to stop grieving, even for three hours and remember why living in New York and being a New Yorker is so special, and the Mets playing at Shea Stadium did just that.

   So yesterday at Wembley with France playing England, despite the remembrances, moments of silence, wreaths laying on the pitch and attempts at 90,000 trying to sing La Marseillaise, soccer was an attempt at reminding the world that life will go on. Even with the Belgium/Spain and Germany/Netherlands friendlies being called off for security reasons, watching France and England, enemies in history and the butt of each others jokes on most other days, so many of us could be reminded how powerful sports are as a coping mechanism and a reminder that life will go on whether we're grieving heavily or not.

  Each of you reading this probably has your own story about how sports helped you cope with tragedy in your personal lives, because even when sports do stop to pause and grieve with everyone, at some point they will pick up again as a sign that life moves on, and that we should all do the same too. On that day, even if the phrase "putting sports in perspective" means something to you, for one brief moment you will believe that sports was the first sign to you that it's time to move on. It has been for me on many an occasion, and that feeling isn't unique to just me.

  I've written this column in many different forms in the past, and as I mentioned off the top I'll probably do it again someday after another tragedy that shakes the world to its core. But remember that whatever sports means in a macro sense to the world, on a micro level they will go on, and remind all of us that life moves on too even after as something as tragic as the events in Paris last Friday night.

  "The show must go on" and the show will go on, but in this case the game will go on, and help us remember why we all can't live life in fear.

2015 Week 11 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 10? Fantasy football this season continues to confound the greatest thinkers in the land, and makes many of them look like the village idiot in the town square with a dunce cap on. But, unlike those village idiots, we keep trying to prove ourselves as smart people, and at least this week we have another chance to attempt to prove ourselves.


Who to Start:

QB Derek Carr (OAK) vs. DET: Don't let what the Lions did last week fool you, their defense is still pretty bad and has been ravaged by injuries, especially in the secondary. Carr has been playing lights out even against good defenses, so this matchup against the comparatively poor Lions defense should have fantasy owners salivating (other starts: Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford)

RB Lamar Miller (MIA) vs. DAL: Despite the Cowboys relative success at containing the pass, the same can't be said against the run. Miller has been inconsistent all season and at times has been quite hard to trust, but against this Cowboys defense that probably won't be the case at all (other starts: Charcandrick West, Chris Ivory, Darren McFadden)

WR Mike Evans (TB) vs. PHI: He has certainly had troubles with the drops this season (watching that Giants game is tough viewing), but if his hands aren't slicked with oil, he has a great chance at putting up a big stat line against the Eagles secondary, which has been torched consistently this season.

WR Sammy Watkins (BUF) vs. NE MON: The Patriots defense hasn't been as strong this season as one might have expected, and Eli Manning's Giants certainly were able to find some soft spots in that defense and took advantage of it. Watkins did not have a good game against the Jets last Thursday, but he should be able to rebound on Monday night (other starts: Brandon LaFell, Amari Cooper, Steve Johnson)

TE Delanie Walker (TEN) vs. JAX THU: He has been inconsistent all season on the stat sheets, but this matchup against the Jaguars is quite favorable. The Jags have struggled to defend Tight Ends this entire season and were dinged by the Ravens TE's quite a lot last Sunday, and Marcus Mariota will probably look their way quite a bit on Thursday night (other starts: Jordan Reed, Eric Ebron, Travis Kelce)

DEF Seattle vs. SF: They're angry, and playing Blaine Gabbert. Sign. Me. Up. (other starts: NYJ, ATL, OAK)

Who to Sit:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. DEN: He has been dynamite the last two weeks, even last week against a supposedly stiff Rams defense. The Broncos defense is going to be an even more formidable opponent, especially as Aqib Talib is back from his one game suspension, and Smoking Jay Cutler has to return at some point, right? (other sits: Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins)

RB Justin Forsett (BAL) vs. STL: It's hard to sit him with the bye weeks and injuries around the league at the position, but he has struggled of late and the Rams defense has been stout against the run, only giving up 90.1 yards per game on the ground (other sits: Doug Martin, Melvin Gordon, Eddie Lacy (though he may now be a permanent sit)).

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. MIN: As the Packers offense has seemingly fallen off a cliff, so has the production of Cobb. The Vikings defense has been quietly stout this season, and has held Cobb to only 39.4 yards a game against them in five career games against the Vikings. It's hard to sit him, but his owners may have to bite the bullet here.

WR T.Y Hilton (IND) vs. ATL: Not only is Matt Hasslebeck tossing him the rock and not Andrew Luck, but the Falcons defense despite their issues has been pretty stout against the pass this season, so Hilton is a risky play even with the bye weeks and injuries that abound (other sits: Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews, Kamar Aiken)

TE Vernon Davis (DEN) vs. CHI: So many thought his fantasy prospects would be revived with his move from San Francisco to Denver, and in fact nothing has changed at all. He's not only going up against a Bears defense that has been stingy against Tight Ends, but it's not Peyton Manning throwing him the ball on Sunday (other sits: Crockett Gilmore, Jordan Cameron, Charles Clay)

DEF Buffalo vs. NE MON: Even though Tom Terrific is now down Julian Edelman and Dion Lewis, he's going to find someone else to give the ball to and make a superstar. The matchup even then for the Bills defense isn't great on paper nor for fantasy owners alike (other starts: MIN, CIN, WSH).

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Carson Palmer (ARZ) vs. CIN: The matchup on paper isn't especially enticing, but Palmer has been a fantastic fantasy QB at home this season, and there's that little "the Bengals drafted me #1 overall in 2003 and I haven't played them since 2012 and I lost that game 34-10".

RB Frank Gore (IND) vs. ATL: Without Andrew Luck, it would not be a surprise if the Colts ran the ball more than usual. Atlanta's rush defense has been anything but stout this season, so Gore could have an uncharacteristically good game (this season, at least).

WR Tavon Austin (STL) vs. BAL: He's a sleeper because of the QB tossing him the magic bean and because the Ravens defense was actually really good against a far better offense last Sunday. But it doesn't figure to last and Austin could see his share of short passes to rack up some easy numbers.

Buyer Beware:

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. ARZ: It's hard to bench him at this point in the season, but consider this: The Cardinals defense has been incredibly opportunistic this season, and Andy Dalton in primetime, as Monday night showed, is not a mix that really works together.

Good Luck in Week 11!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Dab to Touchdown Dances

    When Cam Newton scores a touchdown, he usually will give the ball to a Panthers fan in the crowd. Even after former Panther Julius Peppers tried to prevent Newton from doing so against the Packers, he found another ball to give to a young fan anyway. Before he gives a ball to someone who will then have a memory that will last a lifetime, Cam Newton likes to dance. Those dances may never top the Ickey Shuffle, but it's not the dances that have seemingly angered a few people. It's the fact that Cam is dancing, period.

   A Tennessee mother took her nine year old daughter to her first Titans game on Sunday. She and her impressionable daughter bore witness to the horror of Cam's dance moves in person that put the game against the Titans out of reach. She sent a note directed at Newton after the game through the Charlotte Observer, and what is contained within is nothing short of amazing:

    "Because of where we sat, we had a close up view of your conduct in the fourth quarter. The chest puffs. The pelvic thrusts. The arrogant and the 'in your face' taunting of both the Titans' players and fans. We saw it all."

   She sounds like a Vietnam POW with "we saw it all". How could the FOX cameras even begin to capture the terror of a man celebrating his own accomplishments and translate it to the home viewer who isn't at the game? You don't know man, you weren't there. Of all of the possible bad things for a nine year old to view at a football game, Cam Newton's dancing is maybe tenth on the list, including being behind watching the Tennessee Titans play football. I wouldn't take a nine year old to see that in person; even on TV it's terrifying. And if Cam's "pelvic thrusts" offend you, here's another pelvic thrust that is far more terror-inducing:

   That should bring night terrors to all sensible human beings. But, wait, there's more to this letter!

   "I refuse to believe you don't realize you're a role model. You are paid millions of dollars every week to play hard a be a leader... With everything the NFL has gone through in recent years, I'm confident they have advised you that you are, by virtue of your position and career choice, a role model." 

   Whatever your life decisions are, I'm going to try not to follow in the footsteps of a man who ended up in a yogurt commercial. That's not an indictment of Cam in any way, or anything less than saying I wasn't gifted with the athletic abilities he has, but that's not my ultimate goal in life nor should it be for you Ms. Rosemary Plorin or your daughter, unless you have already posed for the fill-in pictures found in Hallmark picture frames when you buy them. And as for being a leader, Cam Newton lead Auburn to a national championship and the Panthers to two consecutive NFC South titles while also wanting to play the Sunday after he had a massive car accident. Leading a church potluck isn't really analogous, but also not on the same level of leadership, either.

   "Some of the Panthers fans in our section began taunting the hometown fans." OH NO! Someone wants to celebrate their team doing well and did so by making fun of someone? That feels like it might be... entirely common! (On another note Ms. Plorin, I recommend not taking your daughter to any Jaguars-Titans games in Nashville. You thought Panthers fans had an edge...) "Many Titans fans booed you, a few offering instructive, but not necessarily family friendly, suggestions as to how you might change your behavior." And Cam's dabbing offends you more than those "not necessarily family friendly suggestions"? Apparently you want your daughter to take after those people instead of following Cam Newton's lead by dabbing (which in fairness isn't a terrible idea considering white girls shouldn't dab... ever, especially nine year olds).

  "My daughter sensed the change immediately- and started asking questions." The first question should be "why did you take me to a Titans game instead of a Predators game you sadist?" "Won't he get in trouble for doing that? Is he trying to make people mad? Do you think he knows he looks like a spoiled brat?" I'll answer these questions, Ms. Rosemary Plorin's daughter: 1. It's the NFL, and surprisingly dabbing is one of the few touchdown celebrations you don't get flagged for, so no. 2. Yes, that's the point. You're perceptive for a nine year old. 3. If I was the QB of a team that had won 12 straight regular season games, I'd look pretty spoiled too.

   "I don't know about your family life, Mr. Newton..." It's called Google. Use it. "but I think I'm safe in saying thousands of kids watch you every week." Yep. And they all started dabbing in Charlotte area classrooms on Monday, and everyone loved it! "You have amazing talent and an incredible platform to be a role model for them. Unfortunately, what you modeled for them today was egotism, arrogance and poor sportsmanship." What would Ms. Plorin have thought of the Ickey Shuffle, the Dirty Bird, or what the Miami Hurricanes used to pride themselves on doing after they scored touchdowns? Those might well have been acts of war. And this letter ends with one helluva closer:

   "Is that what your coaches and mentors modeled for you, Mr. Newton?" Since Marcus Mariota will probably be fined by his new coach for celebrating after a touchdown, maybe he should be coached by Mike Mularkey, and none of this would have happened! Although, he probably would be nowhere near the QB he is right now. And, for the record, here is the current Panthers coach:


   And this is the Titans current coach:

    Hmm... tough call.

    After all of the jokes are through though, why can't athletes celebrate on the field? Is there something inherent about the game that should force them to hold back raw emotions? We don't hear the trash talking and the like that goes on during games, and if we could no child would be allowed with 500 yards of a sporting venue... ever. Celebrating by dancing, giving a ball to a fan, jumping into the crowd, pretending like you're pregnant with a soccer ball, etc. is part of sports, and the way leagues have tried to scrub the personality out of the games and athletes themselves is flat out disturbing and wrong. Sports are fun, so let the people playing them have as much fun as those watching them. Let the athletes show their personalities for once. They are as human as those watching in the stands, so let them act like human beings and not like robots.

   Watching Cam Newton is the epitome of football joy; the smile on his face when he plays is contagious and and infectious. But not to Ms. Plorin and her nine year old daughter I guess. Join in with Alabama fans in that corner.

  But I do have one question for Ms. Plorin: What do you think of J.J Watt's comments after the Texans beat the Bengals? Anything? Bueller?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2015 Week 10 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 9? We're past the halfway point of the fantasy season, and the fun is beginning in earnest now. This fantasy season has been incredibly weird, and this is probably going to continue this week too. Since many teams are mediocre, that means fantasy players have a multitude of options to choose from as the season gets ever more important.

Byes: ATL, IND, SF, SD

Who to Start:

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. HOU MON: Andy Dalton has been a great fantasy QB this season, and that form should continue Monday night against the Texans, whose porous pass defense has been notable this season against basically everyone. (Other starts: Joe Flacco, Blake Bortles, Cam Newton)

RB DeAngelo Williams (PIT) vs. CLE: Cleveland has been poor against opposing running backs this season, although they've been better recently. With Williams now the feature back in Pittsburgh, and with their QB issues already well documented, he could have another massive day at the office. (Other starts: DeMarco Murray, Doug Martin, Matt Jones)

WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) vs. PHI: In regular and PPR leagues, he's a good start this Sunday against the Eagles. Their pass defense has not been very good this season, and had notable issues last Sunday against Matt Cassel and the Cowboys.

WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) vs. OAK: The Raiders defense is not the Rams defense to be sure. When Ben Roethlisberger was in the game last Sunday, the Raiders secondary was battered from pillar to post. Diggs will thrive on all types of routes on Sunday in the Black Hole. (Other starts: Brandin Cooks, DeSean Jackson, Amari Cooper)

TE Jordan Reed (WSH) vs. NO: If he's healthy, he's a must start every single week. He's a favored target of Kirk Cousins, and if last week is any indication, the Saints pass defense is one of the worst in football. (Other starts: Eric Ebron, Gary Barnidge, Richard Rogers)

DEF Carolina vs. TEN: This start has a multi-faceted opposition, but hear me out. Yes, the Panthers defense is not good when they're up by a bagillion, as we saw in the last two games against Indianapolis and Green Bay. And yes, Tennessee's offense was dynamite against New Orleans last Sunday. But the Panthers are not the Saints, and Marcus Mariota isn't Aaron Rodgers, or even half-baked Andrew Luck. (Other starts: STL, BAL, TB)

Who to Sit:

QB Russell Wilson (SEA) vs. ARZ: He's had a tough season from a fantasy perspective, and that probably continues this week against the opportunistic Cardinals defense. Wilson hasn't been great in his career against Arizona, and that will probably continue Sunday night. (Other sits: Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota, Carson Palmer)

RB Chris Johnson (ARZ) vs. SEA: The former CJ2K has had a desert rebirth, which is one of the quieter cool stories of the season. Though this Sunday night in Seattle, Johnson has a tough matchup against the Seahawks, who have been stingy to opposing RB's at home this season. (Other sits: T.J Yeldon, Rashad Jennings, Darren McFadden)

WR Jeremy Maclin (KC) vs. DEN: Outside of last week, the Denver Broncos pass defense has been on absolute lockdown. Maclin has been struggling recently too, so this matchup is one to definitely avoid.

WR Mike Evans (TB) vs. DAL: His performance last week was one of the most bizarre I've ever seen. He had 152 yards on eight catches, but was targeted 18 times and had some head-scratching drops. The Cowboys secondary may be weak, but it has played well for most of the season. (Other sits: Larry Fitzgerald, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington (MON))

TE Jordan Cameron (MIA) vs. PHI: He's been one of the biggest fantasy busts of the season in all positions, and it is hard to imagine him seeing an uptick in performance on Sunday in Philadelphia, who has only given up one TD to opposing Tight Ends this season. (Other sits: Heath Miller, Julius Thomas, Jimmy Graham)

DEF Minnesota vs. OAK: Based on the way the Raiders offense is humming along, it's hard to start anyone against them on the defensive side of the ball anymore. So Vikings, you're up next. (Other sits: DET, MIA, HOU)

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Kirk Cousins (WSH) vs, NO: If the Saints can be torched by a rookie QB coached by someone whose idea of discipline is making sure their helmets are lined up perfectly in a row, Kirk Cousins should have no trouble doing the same on Sunday. Yes, he's been up and down all season, but this is the Saints.

RB LeGarrette Blount (NE) vs. NYG: The Patriots backfield carousel is always a tough riddle to solve for fantasy owners, but with the sad injury to Dion Lewis, it looks like Blount is the man for the Patriots. The Giants defense isn't the best matchup, but with a clear #1 in New England, it's time to start him.

TE Delanie Walker (TEN) vs. CAR: He was fantastic last week against New Orleans, and while the Panthers defense is far better, it has struggled to stop Tight Ends this season.

Buyer Beware:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. STL: He has been better this season to be sure, especially of late, but the Rams defense has been very consistent and very good this season, so this is a risk. And there's always a chance that Jay Cutler reverts to being Jay Cutler again.

Good Luck in Week 10!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015 Week 9 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 8? It might not feel like November outside, but the calendar says we're in November, which means chances to make hay in fantasy are dwindling fast. This year has been brutal for fantasy owners mainly thanks to crippling injuries, expected stars not living up to the hype and everyone thinking daily fantasy and weekly fantasy are similar (when they're not, since I can't be prosecuted for playing weekly fantasy). This week will be even tougher because of six teams on a bye and the injuries just starting to wreak havoc on rosters.


Who to Start:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. CHI MON: His team is 2-5, just lost its best receiver in Keenan Allen, but Rivers is still a fantasy must play this week despite all of that. The Bears defense has struggled to contain any QB this season, so despite an insanely short deck, Rivers' performance will likely stay the same. (Other starts: Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning)

RB Chris Ivory (NYJ) vs. JAX: Not only is the matchup favorable on paper, the Jets QB situation makes Ivory almost a must start anyway. If Geno Smith is playing, do you really think the Jets will trust him to make the same decisions against a defense that just forced four turnovers against E.J Manuel and Buffalo? (Other starts: Jeremy Hill, DeAngelo Williams, Jeremy Langford)

WR Amari Cooper (OAK) vs. PIT I said "sit him" last week (whoops) against Darrelle Revis and the Jets, but this week against Pittsburgh's porous pass defense, he's squarely in the other side of the column. We're almost reaching a point where Cooper should be starting despite the matchup, which this week isn't an issue.

WR Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) vs. IND: The Colts defense has been Swiss cheese practically all season, and you know Peyton Manning will be extra motivated to play against the Colts in Indianapolis again, Last week was his best performance of the season against a far better Packers defense, so all of his receivers stand to benefit on Sunday. (Other starts: Julian Edelman, Stevie Johnson, Malcolm Floyd)

TE Heath Miller (PIT) vs. OAK: The Raiders have been impressive in so many ways this season, although one area in which they haven't been is against Tight Ends. Miller had a huge game last week against the Bengals, and with some good Tight Ends on the shelf due to bye weeks this week, Miller is a great option. (Other starts: Jordan Reed, Ben Watson, Greg Olsen)

DEF Cincinnati vs. CLE THU: Johnny Manziel is back under center for the Browns, whose offense is being drained week after week. Their last two performances against St. Louis and Arizona haven't elicited any confidence, and the Bengals defense is rolling right now. (Also a must start but I deemed it too obvious: Atlanta against Blaine Gabbert).

Who to Sit:

QB Andrew Luck (IND) vs. DEN: Bye weeks stink. Changing offensive coordinators mid-week before a major game also stinks. Rib and shoulder injuries aren't fun too. But looking like you have regressed beyond salvation is the worst. Oh, and the Broncos defense held Aaron Rodgers under 100 yards passing last Sunday night. I'd dumpster dive in the waiver wire before starting Luck on Sunday. (Other sits: Ryan Tannehill, Blake Bortles, Sam Bradford)

RB Darren McFadden (DAL) vs. PHI: The Cowboy backfield is his now that Joseph Randle has been handed his pink slip. The Eagles have been poor in more than a few facets of their game, but their rush defense has not been one of them. This is a tricky matchup despite McFadden's increased role. (Other sits: T.J Yeldon, Latavius Murray and Rashad Jennings)

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. CAR: Josh. Norman. Is. Amazing. 

WR Allen Robinson (JAX) vs. NYJ: Allen and Allen (attorneys at law) have been fantasy superstars this season for the Jaguars and their newly found passing game. Even though the Jets were torched a bit by Derek Carr and the Raiders last Sunday, it's hard to trust any opposing wideouts against the Jets defense, especially going up against Darrelle Revis. (Other sits: T.Y Hilton, Mike Wallace, Travis Benjamin).

TE Jordan Cameron (MIA) vs. BUF: The matchup isn't awful, but Cameron hasn't consistently produced this season, especially in the first meeting with the Bills when he put up less than two points. It's hard to start him even with the bye week options that are lost. (Other sits: Julius Thomas, Kyle Rudolph, Vernon Davis).

DEF Carolina vs. GB: Bend but don't break is the motto for the Panthers, but it's hard to imagine the Packers offense having the same sort of performance they did against Denver last Sunday even against the Panthers stout defense. (Other sits: Green Bay, Indianapolis, Dallas)

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Derek Carr (OAK) vs. PIT: Is it time to take Carr seriously not just on the field but in fantasy too? He has been outstanding outside of only a few moments this season, and the Steelers defense is nowhere near what it was or has been. Old Raiders-Steelers matchups were slugfests, but this one could be a shootout, which favors Carr.

RB Ronnie Hillman and C.J Anderson (DEN) vs. IND: Either one of them are sleepers in their own right because it's hard to predict which one will get the bulk of the carries, but both go up against the same putrid Colts rush defense, which means either could have a massive day.

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. PHI: Normally, he's a must start because he's Dez Bryant. But with Matt Cassel, questions are asked. Despite that, this week he could be back to his old self against the Eagles secondary which has been torched by practically everyone this season.

Buyer Beware:

WR Jordan Matthews (PHI) vs. DAL: Raise your hand if you expected him to have a monster season /slowly raises hand in hopes no one can see him. His drops have been a problem, let alone everything else that has gone wrong for the Eagles this season. The Cowboys defense has been stout-ish (even putting the first Eagles game aside), so Matthews is a risky play.

Good Luck in Week 9!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2015 Week 8 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 7? If you can believe it, by Sunday we'll already be in November, and half of the NFL season will have passed (or there about). In this weird season of top heaviness, debilitating injuries and shaky fantasy play all around, winning has become tougher and tougher to do. Weeks like this one could end up being the difference between winning leagues or being in that NFL commercial for second chance fantasy with the crying Steelers fan in the shower. And you don't want to be a crying Steelers fan in a shower.


Who to Start:

QB Cam Newton (CAR) vs. IND MON: He's still prone to turnovers, but he could be in line for a big Monday Night show against the Colts. Their secondary has been torn apart by almost everyone this season, which means even as Newton isn't the best of fantasy options normally, this week he most certainly is.

RB Todd Gurley (STL) vs. SF: His fantasy stock has soared in recent weeks, and for good reason. He's been consistent and getting better every time he takes the field. The 49ers defense is by no means the 49ers defense of old, so Gurley is as close to a must start as it gets this week.

WR Alshon Jeffery (CHI) vs. MIN: Jeffery's best games have often come against division opponents, and here is his stat line for his last three games against the Vikings: 25 receptions for 418 yards and three TD's. Jeffery had a great game against the Lions before the bye, and there's no reason to think he won't replicate that performance against Minnesota.

WR Keenan Allen (SD) vs. BAL: While the Chargers are pretty pitiful away from home, Philip Rivers puts up gaudy numbers no matter where he is playing (and for the Chargers every game feels like a road game right now). The Ravens secondary is a sieve, so Allen, who has been one of the best fantasy wideouts this season, could have another big day.

TE Tyler Eifert (CIN) vs. PIT: He's not really a secret anymore, is he? He's been one of the best fantasy TE's all season, and that means he's really a must-start almost every week. The Steelers have been dinged by decent TE's this year, so another big day could be in the offing for Eifert.

DEF Arizona vs. CLE: They are as opportunistic as it comes, which means for fantasy owners they can put up boatloads of points. The Browns have QB issues to deal with, which makes this even more of a tantalizing matchup. (Bonus: Rams against SF is a gimme, but since I already recommended a Ram to start I wanted to do something a bit different).

Who to Sit:

QB Derek Carr (OAK) vs. NYJ: He's improving dramatically week by week, and it helps when you have Amari Cooper to throw passes to. But he's going up against the incredibly scary Jets defense, which means he's a fantasy must-sit (as most players going up against the Jets are now).

RB Jeremy Hill (CIN) vs. PIT: He's hard to sit with four teams on a bye, but the Steelers have been incredibly stingy defending the run at home. They haven't allowed a rushing TD at home this season.

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. DEN: His numbers are sliding consistently, which was already worrying. On Sunday Night, he gets to go up against Aqib Talib and that fearsome Broncos secondary which has already held Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith and Amari Cooper in check.

WR T.Y Hilton (IND) vs. CAR: Josh. Norman. Enough said.

TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) vs. CHI: Tom Jackson used to say on NFL Primetime that all former Viking Cris Carter did was "catch touchdowns". That phrase could be re-appropriated for use when talking about Rudolph, who has 19 yards receiving in his last two weeks but two TD's. That's not start worthy.

DEF Miami vs. NE THU: The Dolphins have racked up fantasy points the last two weeks against an injured Marcus Mariota, Zach Mettenberger and Brian Hoyer. Tom Brady is up next, therefore reality will set in fast.

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Matt Stafford (DET) vs. KC LONDON: He's still a bit of a fantasy double-edged sword, but the Chiefs have been a favorable matchup for opposing QB's in fantasy this season. He's also been on fire the last two weeks after his benching against Arizona too.

RB Mark Ingram (NO) vs. NYG: This matchup is a bit weird considering even when the Saints have good defenses to run on they never seem to do so. But I have a feeling that will change on Sunday. When the Saints run the ball well, they seem to look more complete as a team, and the Giants are susceptible to being run on (as DeMarco Murray showed two weeks ago).

WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) vs. CHI: HE. A. TERP. But college biases aside, Diggs has become the Vikings number one receiver and for good reason (see his TD catch last week against Detroit as evidence). The Bears secondary is still pretty woeful, so the 5th round pick could put up another huge stat line.

Buyer Beware:

DEF New York Jets vs. OAK: Even though they're usually a must start here, it's hard not to be a bit squeamish when talking about the matchup against the high-powered (!!!!!!!!) Raiders offense. Even when the Jets defense has exerted its will, they give up points. 30 against New England in a good performance should be worrisome. You'll probably start them anyway, but the Raiders can look good, even throwing out their Cincy and Denver performances.

(BONUS) QB Peyton Manning (DEN) vs. GB: His fantasy star has been falling fast, but it seems like he may be finding a little bit of consistency. Even though the matchup isn't that terrible, especially after the Packers gave up over 500 yards passing to Philip Rivers two weeks ago, it's hard to start Manning anymore, even as a bye week replacement.

Good Luck in Week 8!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Did You See That: Where in the World is Marlins Man?

   In sports, there is a kaleidoscope of color, especially during the playoffs. White is common, so is black, blue and almost every color in the spectrum enough that Roy G. Biv would blush. Orange is somewhat common in sports, but often it sticks out like a sore thumb. So when that orange shirt pops up behind home plate in Chicago, or at the Preakness, it's jarring. So is the story of Laurence Leavy, better known as Marlins Man. So where will he be found next? Thankfully, I've received some important help...

   There's only thing left to do and you know what it is... do it Rockapella:

    Well he flies around the country from San Fran to Chicago
    He's a superfan in orange in Miami and beyond
    And nobody knows where he will find his way to next so tell me
    Where in the world is Marlins Man?

    Behind home plate in Chicago
    To black-eyed Susans at the Preakness
    He has the best seats in the house to watch Manny and Floyd
    Soon he might become Spike Lee's best friend at MSG so tell me
    Where in the world is Marlins Man?

    He goes from Cleveland to Calgary
    LA to Philly
    Then DC and Denver and Detroit and back

    Well he'll be courtside with the Lakers
    Now friends with Jack and Magic Johnson
    Then he'll pop up on the glass to watch Sid and Ovi
    Pitbull will sit with him when the Fish are in the playoffs tell me
    Where in the world is Marlins Man?

    Tell me where in the world... where can he be...

    Pittsburgh to Phoenix
    Then Vegas and Columbus 
    Indy and KC, Green Bay and away 
    He goes across the country
    Watching games in every city
    We don't know how he does it but he does it anyway
    Look around for that orange shirt to let you know he's here so tell me
    Where in the world is Marlins Man?

    Where in the world is Marlins Man?
    Where in the world is Marlins Man?

    And we still don't know where he'll pop up next.

2015 Week 7 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 6? Parity? What parity? There are five undefeated teams in the NFL today, and no winless teams. Parity at the bottom means that mediocrity is widespread, yet the power is concentrated mainly in the top six or seven teams in the league. What that means is up for you to decide, but with a fantasy week that sees three of those seven teams off on byes, depth will be tested, and so will your fantasy chops.


Who to Start:

QB Carson Palmer (ARZ) vs. BAL MON: He's been a staple at this part of the column all season, and that is absolutely going to continue against the Ravens, whose secondary has been torched by just about everyone, including a Colin Kaepernick that admits he doesn't make reads and a "revived" Josh McCown. With the Cardinals weapons, Palmer could be in for a big night.

RB Todd Gurley (STL) vs. CLE: As the next coming in the backfield, or the "revival" of the running back position, Todd Gurley has many expectations on his shoulders. But so far, he's met nearly all of them. Against the Browns, his stock could soar again considering how poor the Browns have been at stopping the run all season.

WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) vs. HOU: If Landry doesn't go low to try to break someone's leg (wrong side of the defense, sorry), he could have a massive day against the Texans despite some weary performances of late, including last week. The Texans defense has been incredibly poor, especially the secondary.

WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) vs. KC: While the matchup is incredibly favorable, the QB worries for the Steelers make this slightly less of a good play than it would have been otherwise, despite Landry Jones (!!!!!!!!) tossing him a TD against a far better defense in Arizona.

TE Charles Clay (BUF) vs. JAX LONDON: No matter who the QB is for Buffalo, Sammy Watkins is likely out and LeSean McCoy still isn't 100%. Clay has been Buffalo's best receiver this season, and the Jaguars have a knack for getting killed in the open field by Tight Ends, especially on short and underneath patterns. Clay could have a huge game, if you find out where to watch it, that is.

DEF Atlanta vs. TEN: Sure, the unit didn't look good against the Saints last Thursday, but the Titans offense has been stuck in neutral since their bye week and old Mett is returning under center, which means the Falcons defense likely rebounds in a big way.

Who to Sit:

QB Sam Bradford (PHI) vs. CAR: Coming into the season, Bradford was one of the best 2 QB options out there. His performances of late threw that status out the window, and even in Eagle wins he hasn't been that impressive. Carolina's defense is getting healthy, and Josh Norman is the best corner in football you don't know enough about. Bradford could be back to his early performances Sunday night.

RB Carlos Hyde (SF) vs. SEA THU: He's not only dealing with a bum foot on a short week, he's dealing with a Seahawks team that is probably fuming about the way they lost to Carolina. In a rivalry game, that motivation is probably as good as any, and could spell doom for Hyde and his fantasy owners.

WR Allen Robinson (JAX) vs. BUF LONDON: Whatever the term "leg contusion" ends up meaning, his matchup against the Bills is anything but pretty. Going up against the Bills has proven to be troublesome for opposing teams #1 receivers, which have included Odell Beckham, T.Y Hilton and A.J Green thus far this season.

WR Brandin Cooks (NO) vs. IND: Sometimes, you throw the matchup out the window and look at production as the determining factor in deciding whether to start or sit someone. In this case, Cooks has not produced at all this season, which means it is hard to trust him even against the Colts sieve of a secondary.

TE Heath Miller (PIT) vs. KC: The Chiefs despite their poor start have practically erased opposing Tight Ends from the stat sheets this season, which means even with a third string QB, normally the bat signal for fantasy tight ends, Miller is probably someone to avoid starting, even if you need a bye week replacement (which is likely).

DEF New York Jets vs. NE: They have one of the best reality and fantasy defenses in football. But despite that, it's incredibly hard to start them against the Patriots thanks to the matchup and history between these two teams.

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Drew Brees (NO) vs. IND: The shine has worn off on one of history's best fantasy QB's, hasn't it? But this week, if you're in the need for a bye week replacement, Brees could be an interesting play against the pathetic Colts secondary.

RB LeSean McCoy (BUF) vs. JAX LONDON: I'm honestly surprised he's a sleeper here, but his performances this season have merited it. But this week, his matchup against the Jaguars on the Wembley pitch is a positive one, especially since the Jaguars seemingly forgot how to defend the run and/or tackle recently.

WR Mike Evans (TB) vs. WSH: There might not be a bigger bust in fantasy football this season than Mike Evans. But this week in Washington, he's going up against a secondary that has been ravaged by injuries and is out of form, so he could kick start his season at long last.

Buyer Beware:

QB Ryan Tannehill (MIA) vs. HOU: The matchup against Houston is good, for sure, but it doesn't feel like Tannehill has taken the step to the next level that his contract would merit. Even though he could still have a great day, his recent play feels ominous.

Good Luck in Week 7!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

2015 Week 6 Fantasy Advice

      Did you have a good week 5? The Injury Ninja (thanks to my old friend from Twitter Chris Wassel for this staple) was particularly ruthless this week, taking Jamaal Charles and many others with him. The dregs of the fantasy season now are in full swing, and with bye weeks and injuries now playing major roles in fantasy seasons, it's becoming a struggle for many. How well you do in your league may well come down to how well you do in these critical weeks.


Who to Start:

QB Carson Palmer (ARZ) vs. PIT: He's found the fountain of youth after his season ending injury last season. He has been elite this season for the Cardinals on the field and for his fantasy owners. That form is likely going to continue against the Steelers, who have well documented issues in their secondary. Palmer could rack up serious numbers once again on Sunday.

RB Dion Lewis (NE) vs. IND: Yes, my own rule for fantasy that should be followed religiously (because it's bitten me in the rear end too often to admit), is that you should never trust a Patriots running back. But... Dion Lewis is making me want to buck the rule. He has been not only good, but consistent to start the season, and the Colts have never been able to effectively stop the run. 

WR DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) vs. JAX: Against everyone not named Josh Norman, Hopkins has been incredibly effective this season, even with the QB flip-flopping. The Jaguars secondary is still hobbled with injuries, and Brian Hoyer is a better QB than Ryan Mallet, so Hopkins could enjoy another good day at the office.

WR Brandon Marshall (NYJ) vs. WSH: He's quietly revived his career even with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his QB. He has been putting up solid numbers in every game, and even though the Washington secondary played well against Atlanta last week, they are saddled with injuries. Marshall could have more success Sunday.

TE Travis Kelce (KC) vs. MIN: Absolutely everything that could have gone wrong for the Chiefs has in the past four games. Now with Jamaal Charles out, consistency is going to be critical for the Chiefs offense. Kelce provides that consistency, especially against a Vikings defense that has been susceptible to Tight Ends this season.

DEF Cincinnati vs. BUF: Tyrod Taylor is hobbled, LeSean McCoy is hobbled and Sammy Watkins is hobbled. The Bengals defense was solid against Seattle last week, but against the Buffalo backups, could be in for a bigger day Sunday.

Who to Sit:

QB Cam Newton (CAR) vs. SEA: Playing in Seattle is never easy, especially for Cam Newton and the Panthers who have struggled against the Seahawks no matter where they play each other. 

RB Jeremy Hill (CIN) vs. BUF: He's quickly losing touches to Gio Bernard week by week, and not only does he have a tough matchup against Buffalo staring him in the face, but his only points are coming from TD's and not yards, and that's frankly not a sustainable trend.

WR Jordan Matthews(PHI) vs. NYG MON: It's painful to type his name into this section of the column, but it's way past due. The Giants secondary is paper thin, but has only allowed two receiving TD's thus far this season. And with Chip Kelly's offense starting to become wide open, Matthews is losing targets too.

WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) vs. TEN: Once he was an underrated potential fantasy gem that many deep divers were trying to stash away in hopes that he would come good. Now, he's a bust like most players on Miami's offense. Going up against a stingier than expected Titans defense (opponents they've played certainly helps), is not going to help his case.

TE Jimmy Graham (SEA) vs. CAR: So you're telling me that asking a Tight End who never blocked in New Orleans to block consistently in Seattle and take a hit in production is going to cost him fantasy points? Wow, that's almost like telling me what Mike Huckabee tweeted during the Democratic Presidential Debate was racist or something.

DEF San Francisco vs. BAL: They were dynamite in Week 1, and terrible ever since. Even though matchup looks semi-favorable on paper, this unit really cannot be trusted. 

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Teddy Bridgewater (MIN) vs. KC: He's been a solid QB in reality, if a bit week on the fantasy stat sheets. The game against Kansas City is a somewhat favorable one for Bridgewater, meaning he could put up some better than expected numbers. He looked comfortable against a far better defense when the Vikings played the Broncos two weeks ago.

RB Arian Foster (HOU) vs. JAX: He's becoming healthier, which is a good thing. He's going to take pressure off of the QB carousel, which is also a good thing. But keep note of the injury report for the Jaguars this week. If Paul Pozlusny can't play, Foster could be elevated into starting territory. Without him last week, the Jaguars were absolutely carved open by Doug Martin. Keep this in mind as the week rolls on.

DEF Baltimore vs. SF: The 49ers looked competent last week! But that doesn't tell us very much about how they'll do this week. In a rematch of Super Bowl XLVII (where both teams are now 1-4), the Ravens defense could be a sneaky little play considering how the 49ers offense is trending of late.

Buyer Beware:

RB Melvin Gordon (SD) vs. GB: His last two games have been pretty good, but the Packers defense is so stingy against the run, especially at home. Todd Gurley was held effectively in check last week, and another running back could be held in check all the same on Sunday.

Good Luck in Week 6! 

Monday, October 12, 2015


   Deadspin's twitter account gets suspended, and everyone flips. When the popular consensus sides with quite possibly the internet's most divisive sports website, eyebrows are raised. Then, SB Nation's GIF handle, which is solely responsible for tweeting out GIF's and Vines of recent moments was also suspended. Early reports say that MLBAM, MLB's new media arm (now its own company) was responsible but it could be the NFL, or the NHL, or the Premier League, because all sports leagues suffer from this inferiority complex when it comes to the proliferation of their material.

  Sure these leagues aren't making money when vines and GIF's of Jack Eichel's brilliance populates twitter like wildfire, or someone doctors Michael Jordan's head onto a coach after his team just spiked the ball on fourth down. But they are getting free publicity, and when something goes viral, it often sticks. MLBAM does a great job posting vines and GIF's themselves, but other leagues do not have the same capabilities, or social media nous. The Premier League is notorious for taking down vines of goals or controversial moments almost immediately after they spread through social media, even though a large majority of their audience can't see the games live (this is the league that prevents TV broadcasts of games in England during a specific window to promote attendance, as if its still 1956).

  Emerging forms of media are always going to be faster to the punch than copyright law can even dream of putting a fingernail on. Vines and GIF's are one matter, but what about someone Periscoping warm-ups at a hockey game? The NHL has already banned that from media members, with those streams only coming from the teams or rights holders. What is the NHL losing if the Canucks beat writer periscopes a short warm up to see if a player is taking line rushes? If more people are talking about your product, isn't that a good thing? Isn't going viral supposed to make you more money, and make you more famous?

  Someone on the internet got famous for working the checkout line at Target, so it's quite possible that a GIF of Connor McDavid doing Connor McDavid things isn't going to be that harmful to the NHL's bottom line.

  Leagues establishing progressive policies towards social media and working with websites like Deadspin and SB Nation to establish guidelines for vines, GIF's periscopes, snapchat and whatever the next hot app is the way to not only build trust with your fans, but extend your reach even further. Non sports fans may see the crazy monkey-riding-dog GIF on social media if they weren't banned, limiting the reach of who could see the GIF of the amazing athletic accomplishments.

 Some leagues, like MLB, the NFL and the Premier League don't comprehend where the audience is growing the largest and fastest and how to reach them. TV plays a huge role, but it's importance is being shared by social media. There might not be a way to monetize GIF's of diving catches, or sick shootout goals, or Odell Beckham catches galore, but they can lead to new eyeballs flocking to your product, meaning the money will keep rolling in otherwise. That 12 hour wait to see a crazy Mike Trout catch means the window for viral spreading has already long been shut, no matter how fancy or official the product is. The formula isn't that hard to solve.

   This goes for old game footage on Youtube or anything of the like around the internet. Its vastness and reach goes beyond that of TV, the newspaper, radio and conventional websites. Once something goes viral, there is no taking it back, and wouldn't leagues want that in spades? TV networks are embracing the viral and second screen experience and they're hemorrhaging money compared to sports leagues. If the NBA can crack the code and let social media and copyright co-exist, why can't everyone else?

  These leagues are costing themselves money for every DMCA claim they peddle.

For further reading, go to Lookout Landing on SB Nation when they had issues with MLBAM DMCA claims earlier this year, or or this article from Complex about the NBA's progressive attitude.