Wow. Just…wow. How much does my life suck? Let me count the ways.
1. My once-dominant Colts are maybe the worst team in the NFL, but have a scary enough pass-rush (and apparently an improved run blocking line) to tease me with a primetime near-win on SNF vs. a Steelers team that should be a legit title contender. The bad news is that if they play that well every week, they’ll never have a chance at a star Manning replacement like Andrew Luck. The good news? There f*cking isn’t any.
2. My fantasy team in the TFN league includes Arian Foster, Knowshon Moreno, Peyton Manning, Kenny Britt and Reggie Wayne. All are either seriously injured, moderately injured, or are now forced into horrible situations that involve Curtis Painter.
3. My fuc*ing 10-year high school reunion was supposed to be at a decent venue: a German park/beer garden with good beer and decent food, just five minutes from my house. Hell, I could walk home from there, and chances are I would have needed to. Now, due to lack of interest and low ticket sales (thanks to Indiana brain-drain induced diaspora) we have to have it at a God d*mn bowling alley that I was once banned from as an adolescent. I wouldn’t be shocked if my picture’s still on the wall, hanging there inexplicably like some lowermybills.com ad, as a warning for all other pre-maturely bearded teenagers to not f*ck with the powers that be of the greater Beech Grove metro area. And oh yeah, what was once a semi-swanky affair, where I could show off my hot wife and moderate financial success (at least compared to the drug addicts and degenerates with whom I associated in high school) has become a redneck feeding frenzy/monetary anal raping. The $25 I paid per ticket for booze and shmooze will now go toward two games of bowling, shoes and “maybe” a drink. “Maybe.” Fuc*ing maybe.
4. The fantasy team aforementioned, with all the awful injury/sucking problems, isn’t half as bad as the one I have in a $100 buy-in league. THAT’s the one where I just completed a trade for Michael Vick…two days before he badly hurt his *ucking hand.
On top of all that, I’ve still managed to become a better cuss-word editor. That’s fucking great. Oops.
Here’s a trite and unoriginal jock off of a tired concept, often used by Bill Simmons. The only difference is I’m not an asshat.
Power 5 Tier
1. Green Bay (3-0): The Packers were billed as a studly, championship caliber defense, and they finally looked the part vs. NFC North rival Chicago, sacking Jay Cutler three times and forcing two picks.
2. Buffalo? (3-0): I include a question mark not as a knock on the Bills, but because I want you to read that as “Buffalo? Really?” Yeah, apparently really. Shit teams don’t come back from 21-0 on the Pats (but what does that say about New England’s defense?).
3. Detroit (3-0): No question mark here, the Lions came back against a team they should have dominated from the get-go. I’m not hatin’ though. A win is a win, and it means even more on the road in the division. Yeah, the NFC North is scary good.
4. Baltimore (2-1): I guess we’re to believe that the Tennessee game was an utter fluke, because I’m not ready to anoint the Titans as anything more than slightly lucky (Kenny Britt injury not-withstanding). The Ravens have dominated two bad teams like title contenders should, and apart from some secondary concerns in weeks 1-2, they’ve looked relatively balanced in the process.
5. Oakland (2-1): The Raiders are one choke-job away from 3-0, and already have a division win and a statement win against a contender. And oh yeah, Darren McFadden, until he gets injured, is far and away the scariest offensive player in football.
The “Contenders” Tier
6. New England (2-1): Dude, this secondary is awful. Through three weeks, the Pats have allowed almost 200 more passing ypg than the #1 Steelers.
7. New York Jets (2-1): Quietly a bad rush defense. Thanks to a thrashing at the hands of Darren McFadden, the J-E-T-S are 31st in the league against the run.
8. Pittsburgh (2-1): Probably should be 1-2, and that opening week division loss wasn’t even the most embarrassing moment of this young season. That came Sunday Night when they almost lost to the Colts.
9. New Orleans (2-1): At times fun to watch and clicking on all cylinders, at times disheveled and clearly past their prime. The NFC South is too good for this many missteps.
10. San Diego (2-1): The last of the “contenders” (teams that you don’t feel right calling contenders without putting quotes around it), the Bolts could barely handle the incredibly bad Chiefs at home on Sunday, and Rivers looked ordinary. That’s bad news.
The Pretenders Tier
11. Houston (2-1): The Texans can hang points on anyone, but in their first challenge vs. a dominant offense they failed miserably (454 yards and 40 points allowed vs. NOR).
12. Washington (2-1): Tough loss last night, but if I’m a ‘Skins fan I’m still proud of the way that defense played in an extremely hostile environment.
13. New York Giants (2-1): I respect the Giants, especially after a huge win vs. Philly, but no way a team this injured doesn’t come unraveled sometime soon in the ultra-competitive NFC East.
14. Philadelphia (1-2): Dream Team, huh? How about nocturnal emissions? Vick’s hand, Maclin’s tweaked hammy and VY’s delusions of grandeur equal out to a pretty poor imitation of a Super Bowl contender if you ask me.
The Should Be Better Tier
15. Tampa Bay (2-1): On paper they’re good-right atop their division-but in reality this is not the same plucky, conservative-yet-effective Tampa team we saw nearly take the NFC South last season. Freeman, and the once-great pass defense for that matter, need to get it together.
16. Atlanta (1-2): On paper this team is bad. But it’s been turnovers, not lack of yardage, that has killed the Dirty Birds. Expect some sort of bounce-back soon.
The “Wait, they have a winning record?” Tier
17. Dallas (2-1): It’s a little shocking that Dallas has a winning record. Their QB choked away week 1, then punctured his lung and Willis Reeded it week 2. But my expectations for the ‘Boys are low this year for two reasons: The first is that I hate them. The second is that Jason Garrett is secretly in over his head.
18. Cleveland (2-1): One of only two winning clubs with a negative point differential (SD is the other one).
19. San Francisco (2-1): Doin’ it ugly, at this point the ‘Niners get a boost just for having a winning record. Blech.
The Surprising and Disappointing at the Same Time Tier
20. Chicago (1-2): Everyone was fine counting out the Bears before the season started, then after a week 1 shellacking of Atlanta the nutswingers were back on board. Well, get ready to enjoy a rollercoaster of a season from your NFC North’s most unpredictable team.
21. Carolina (1-2): It’s a pleasant surprise that Cam Newton and the Panthers have been so dominant on offense. It’s actually disappointing that they couldn’t hand those arrogant Cheese Heads a loss (after going up 13-0) a week ago.
The “Ignore at Your Own Risk” Tier
22. Cincinnati (1-2): I don’t think the ‘Gals are good by any means, especially after last week (boy, that was ugly). But you’re making a mistake if you overlook some of the talent on this team, on both sides of the ball, and it starts with the Dalton-to-A.J. Green connection, which has produced 2 TDs and a 100 yard receiving game through three weeks.
23. Seattle (1-2): Congrats to the Seahawks for winning their first game; you simply can’t overlook them at home, as the Cardinals found out. Remember, this is a team fresh off of a homefield playoff win vs. the defending Super Bowl champs, so anything’s possible.
24. St. Louis (0-3): Before this week St. Louis had a case for the “should be better” tier, but man did they get their asses handed to them by the Ravens? Injuries aside, 0-3 is not a killer in the NFC West as it is in most divisions.
The “Yeah, go Ahead and Ignore” Tier
25. Arizona (1-2): Even with Kolb in town there’s just not enough offensive firepower or experience on defense for the Cards to make noise, even in the NFC West.
26. Tennessee (2-1): I’m sorry, maybe it’s because I’m a hater, but with CJ2K struggling and Britt out, the Titans will have to put their playoff hopes on the creaky shoulders of Matt Hasselbeck, and I just don’t buy he can keep this up.
27. Jacksonville (1-2): Seemingly tanking before the season began, the Jags are already on their third starting QB since training camp. At least they drafted this one to start (and no, Gabbert looked much worse than Cam Newton has, despite the numbers when they went head-to-head).
28. Denver (1-2): Not only do the Broncos lack the talent to compete for the playoffs, they don’t execute. The currently lead the NFL in penalty yards accrued.
The Race for the Cure Tier
29. Miami (0-3): The ‘Phins have some bright spots, including an offense that has shined, for the most part. But bad luck, mixed with a defense that has regressed, equals a high draft pick on the horizon.
30. Minnesota (0-3): With Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin on the roster, the Vikes are always one play away from changing a game. Unfortunately you don’t win with one big play a game (but you do win by, um, playing defense when you have a lead?).
31. Indianapolis (0-3): I don’t know where to begin with my Colts, so I’ll just say this. On Sunday night we may have learned that Kerry Collins was our plan for tanking all along, and Painter may be the guy who leads us to one win, and thus out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
32. Kansas City (0-3): Kansas City’s anemic passing offense finally picked up some steam vs. the Chargers, but it wasn’t as impressive as Indy’s pass rush dominating the Steelers’ o-line. Therefore, for now anyway, KC wins the weekly race for Andrew Luck.
* Kenny Britt is out for the year. FML. Nate Washington is the obvious add, while second year guy Damian Williams should be on your radar in deep, deep leagues.
* If you hadn’t already assumed this, Peyton Manning is probably out for the year, per comments Jim Irsay made Monday. But of course he backtracked and tweeted that the team will keep him on the active roster, making it impossible for bad (but not terrible) fantasy teams to drop him. FML.
* Michael Vick broke bruised his non-throwing hand. And he hates officials. And Bill Plaschke is most likely an out of touch racist. His status for next weekend is up in the air. Don’t bother adding any of his backups at this point. Did I mention FML?
* Torrey Smith tweaked a hammy in Balmer’s week 3 blowout of the Rams. Never heard of Torrey Smith? Well, the Rams have. His three receiving TDs were the reason for the blowout. Hard to say if it’s serious.
* Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper were both injured for Philly in Sunday’s loss to New York. Maclin suffered a hamstring pull and is considered day-to-day, but initial reports on Monday is that he would miss week 4. Cooper, if you care, had a concussion. Steve Smith stands to benefit the most from Maclin’s injury, as he’s an underneath type, possession guy like Maclin.
* Beanie Wells was a game-time scratch after a late-week hamstring injury, but Ken Whisenhunt says he’ll likely return next week. Good thing, too. Chester Taylor and Alfonso Smith were atrocious in replacement work.
* Peyton Hillis was a game-time inactive for the Browns because of strep throat. All together now: F….M….L! A few years ago I suffered from strep throat as an adult, and I wouldn’t wish that on Bill Belichick. And I f**ucking hate Bill Belichick. I’d actually be surprised if Hillis is 100% next week, if his strep was as bad as mine. Montario Hardesty was largely
underwhelming in his stead, but as I’ve said before, Hillis owners should handcuff him.
* While he’s not injured, Cedric Benson will start serving a three game suspension this week. The suspension may be reduced, as Benson is set to appeal. Current backup Bernard Scott is the obvious short-term add. Larry Johnson, who will try out for the ‘Gals this week, is not.
Guys to Keep an Eye On
* Torrey Smith, WR BAL (2% ownership in CBS leagues): Smith’s first three receptions were for touchdowns. That’s not his first three receptions on Sunday…that’s his first three NFL receptions. And they were long ones. That 2% ownership (as of Monday) is going to skyrocket into the 60-70% range, I reckon. Don’t go crazy. When a guy goes off for 5-152-3 in his first NFL game, the only way to go is down. That’s not to say he shouldn’t be considered, but he certainly shouldn’t be universally added, especially if you’re dropping a decent, more consistent and experienced WR who you’re just frustrated with. The M-O on Smith coming out of Maryland was that he was super fast and super good at running straight lines, but not so good at catching or really anything else. Trust me, that’s pretty easy to game plan for. Just ask every defensive coordinator who’s ever planned for the guy Smith was replacing on Sunday, Lee Evans. The Ravens run a lot of vertical routes, and like other low-volume, high speed receivers (Devery Henderson, Pierre Garcon and Mike Wallace before he became unstoppable all come to mind) Smith will be off and on. Replace Britt with him, but that’s about it.
* Dane Sanzenbacher, WR CHI (1%): Sanzenbacher is like the anti-Torrey Smith. He’s really good at the underneath stuff and as a possession threat, and while Smith was struggling in the pre-season, Sanzenbacher was making an unexpected name for himself, and eventually carving out not only a roster spot and a chunk snaps in the Bears’ WR rotation. Unlike Smith, he went undrafted because of physical limitations, but he’s obviously a hard worker. Think of him as a less athletic Wes Welker; basically a poor man’s Danny Amendola with fewer opportunities. Jay Cutler has targeted him six times in each of the past two weeks, and he’s scored in both games. But there’s still Roy Williams, Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett to contend with for looks, so consider him only if you’re replacing Britt and lost your claim on Smith, or if you’re in a very deep PPR league.
* Victor Cruz, WR NYG (2%): Another single-digit owned, week 3 wonder, Cruz may be the most intriguing prospect going forward. Cruz missed last year to a knee injury, but his size/deep threat ability made him a worthwhile investment for the G-Men. Given their rash of injuries this season, it makes sense that Cruz could be in line for a major uptick in workload at some point this season. Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are currently the team’s only two reliable WRs, and both have had bouts with injury already this season. With Manningham back next week, temper expectations, but remember that Eli Manning is pretty indiscriminate; if you can get open, he’ll air it out to you.
* Nate Washington (51%) and Damian Williams (<1%), WRs TEN: Washington was already Tennessee’s best possession receiver, even before Britt went down. But in his Brandon Lloyd-like seven year career he hasn’t developed a reputation for consistency. In fact, he’s already matched his career high in catches in a game (7) and exceeded it once (8). The last time he had multiple games with six or more receptions was 2009. Look for a career year out of him now, as Hasselbeck’s favorite target, but remember that that doesn’t mean much. As for Damian Williams, well, he’s got the college pedigree and body for big numbers, and he’ll be much cheaper than Washington who, more than likely will already be owned in your league by the time you read this. Someone has to step up opposite Washington, and my bet is it’s Williams. If you have Britt and no one’s looking very attractive in your waiver pool, consider Williams as a deep, deep sleeper, but only if you have nothing to lose.
* Blaine Gabbert, QB JAC (5% Yahoo!): I don’t suggest Gabbert for just anyone; he was underwhelming in his first career start. I do suggest him for people in multi-QB leagues or people in 12-team or greater formats. He’s a flier, but in my start-2 format league he’s one of just three full-time starting QBs on the wire. I doubt he makes as much of a splash as Cam Newton has his rookie season, but coming out many experts had him as the better pro prospect, so if you’re desperate, put in the claim. He’s cheap and the Jags suck, so they don’t have much of a choice. It likely won’t turn into a Jimmy Clausen situation because he’s frankly much better than Clausen.
* Bernard Scott, RB CIN (12%): With Benson out, Scott is readily available. Normally I’d say don’t get to excited about the Bengals’ offense; it is what it is. But this time, you can look at the sched and see some tasty matchups on the horizon, especially during Benson’s three-game suspension (if he serves it all). There’s no reason why Scott can’t average double-digit fps vs. BUF, @ JAC and vs. IND.
Guys You Can Go Ahead and Drop
* Peyton Manning, QB IND: I am one of the 47% of Yahoo! users who still employs Peyton Manning. I still consider him my QB1, as sad as that sounds. Jim Irsay told some rich dudes that the Colts were likely going to shut him down, then back-tracked. Do what you want, but if you drop him for a position of need, there are very few owners with the balls to pick him up. The only owners who can afford to are the best teams in the league, and maybe that’s you already. But most of those good teams have too many good players to justify dropping one of them to pick him up.
* Greg Little, WR CLE: This guy has the goods, athletically, but Colt McCoy has proven time and again that he doesn’t really throw to WRs, especially if they have normal-sounding names.
* Lance Kendrick, TE STL: Same as Jared Cook. Kendrick was a popular sleeper this pre-season, but he hasn’t produced. Feel free to drop. There are plenty of useful TEs in this league, and Kendrick isn’t one of them.
My Fantasy World
Cumulative Record (three pay leagues): 2-7
I’m typically not one to complain, so I won’t call this “complaining,” but rather pointing out my tragic luck.
In league 1, the TFN league, while Pandamonium and Redbraham are knocking heads, I’m saddled with an 0-3 team. We drafted before the ever-clandestine Colts (I’ll never trust them again) revealed Manning’s neck injury required a third surgery, and before Arian Foster injured his hammy during the pre-season. My team is a veritable melting pot of injuries and other tragic situations:
QB-Manning (neck), Sam Bradford (hand, toe), Cam Newton (ankle)
RB-Arian Foster (hamstring), Cedric Benson (suspension), Knowshon Moreno (hamstring)
WR-Reggie Wayne (sucks), Kenny Britt (knee)
Between my top 5 draft picks, 15 total games should have been played by now. Instead, I’ve gotten 7.5, with six of them coming from my largely ineffective WR duo of Reggie Wayne and Mike Williams (TB).
Do you ever just sit there and wonder how fantasy football can make a person so crazy? Is it really that deep? I mean, the money’s important, but it’s no more than I’d spend on beer and wings (and enough fruity adult beverages to convince my wife to let me get handsy) on a typical date night. Last night, after my epic failure of a team couldn’t muster a triple-digit score in a league that averages around 125 per game, went into MNF up 6 on the guy who had Jabar Gaffney. So I had to sit there and watch Jabar freakin’ Gaffney beat me with underneath catches for like 8 fps. We all know how infuriating and demoralizing of a feeling that is.
It gets worse.
In another league that’s just as competitive but even more expensive, I’m 0-3 and looking at a rotation that CBS projects to win every week…only to inevitably play the guy who scores the most points. Scoring-wise, my team has been average, never terrible, but never reaching the lofty projections. I’m still waiting, Mike Vick, Mike Williams and Matt Ryan. Still waiting…
Luckily I can lean on my LOI (League of Idiots), that I yearly dominate. I’m 2-1, but the second-highest scorer and won $10 this week for scoring the most. But of course, in that league everyone makes the playoffs and I’ll inevitably be knocked out in the first round. Such is the life of a fantasy junkie.