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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Most Stressful Survivor Pick Of 2014 - A Tale Of Near Heartache On Thursday Night

Did you almost lose your mind watching the Patriots almost ruin your 2014 Survivor League? I did.

The New England Patriots were far and away the most favored survivor pick (based on game spreads) for Week 7, if they were available to you. From scoring a 49 yard touchdown in the opening minute and a half and feeling like a genius to watching the Jets fly up the field in the final minute and almost throwing your remote control straight through your television, this was the most stressful pick of the season.

The Real Housewives are Better than Taco Bell: Early Week 7 Fantasy Football Pickups

Do you watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey?

Probably not, and I don't either.  Or at least I'm not willing to admit it and I'm betting you're not willing to admit it either.  Smart move, my friend.  But lets just say that we did watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey, or at least like to cruise around the TMZ website from "time to time" (meaning "basically every hour of every day that I have internet access"...oh wait, hold on a sec, I'm getting a TMZ alert...OK, I'm back, sorry about that.  Just Kim Kardasian eating more Taco Bell...and I'm actually not kidding about that), it's hard not to hear about Joe and Teresa Giudice's sentencing on bankruptcy, mail and wire fraud charges.  
This may or may not be Kim eating Taco Bell.
If you didn't hear about this, Joe and Teresa apparently tried to file for bankruptcy while hiding assets and then also had a long-running conspiracy to illegally obtain millions in mortgages, construction loans and lines of credit using falsified W-2 forms and tax returns. And to put the icing on the cake, they also failed to pay income tax on nearly $1 million in earnings over five years.  Now I'm not a criminal lawyer, but I have to say, based on years of experience watching Law & Order, that doesn't sound like a good thing.  And the judge in that case agreed, sentencing Joe to 41 months in prison and Teresa to 15 months in prison.  

My favorite part about this was Teresa's emotional statement to Andy Cohen (that guy from Bravo that just instigates people in reality show "reunions" -- how the heck did this become an actual paying job?) "We're good people. I don't understand why this is happening to us."  Um, yeah.  I guess the lesson here is "don't commit millions of dollars in fraud while on a Bravo TV program".  If you were on Comedy Central, yeah, go for it.  But not Bravo.  That's a classy station.  But I digress.

The point is that sometimes you think you know someone (ahem, Joe and Teresa), but then it turns out you've been completely fooled and that person actually just committed fraud while on TV.  And the same is true in fantasy football.  Sometimes you think you know the player and how good he'll be, and sometimes he lives up to it.  And sometimes he becomes Matt Asiata or Zac Stacy.  So hopefully I can help you find the next big thing with early week 7 fantasy football pickups (again, all available in over 50% of standard Yahoo leagues):

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ron Burgundy Hates Jar Jar Binks: Early Week 6 Fantasy Football Pickups

I love scotch.  And so does Ron Burgundy.

I just so happen to really like Rob Burgundy as well.  But who doesn't?  Clearly only people who don't like fun don't like Ron Burgundy.  And you certainly don't hate fun do you?  In fact, to make this point, our friends at Ben & Jerry's made an ice cream for Mr. Burgundy called "Scotchy Scotch Scotch".  Check it out.

Unfortunately, "Scotchy Scotch Scotch" doesn't have a lick of actual scotch in it.  Which seems to me like a problem with that entire "truth in advertising" thing.  But I guess that isn't all bad, since some things you definitely DON'T want to be as advertised.  Like this Jar Jar Binks Monster Mouth Candy Tongue.

Not only did Jar Jar Binks almost single handedly destroy the Star Wars universe by being a completely racist caricature and by being terribly annoying, but he also managed creep out all candy loving kids with this terrible candy concept.  But I digress.

The point is sometimes you get what you see and sometimes you get something that's totally different.  The same is true with fantasy football.  Some players are just as advertised, and some just end up being over hyped (Bishop Sankey anyone?).  So let me give you hand finding some free agent pickups that hopefully WILL be as advertised (and as usual, all under 50% owned in standard Yahoo leagues):

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Closing the gap of Dominance

Sunday presented two interesting matchups. Over the many years of the NFL there have been many inter divisional dominances. But Sunday has two of the ones we expect to just pass up without any question of whether it will be competitive or not. 

The Pittsburgh steelers with big Ben have been 18-1 against the browns. Someone, that being Vegas, thinks that the browns have a chance because they are being FAVORED by 1 point at home. Both teams are at the top in the rushing category.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cleveland Browns v. Pittsburgh Steelers Breakdown

Something peculiar is happening to the Cleveland Browns. They have become competitive. The Browns, who have had only one winning season in the last eleven seasons, have been the butt of every NFL joke in recent years. A revolving door of coaches, general managers and even owners has surely not helped. A seemingly unending string of quarterbacks have been brought in as the answer, but none has ever gone and staked a true claim to the role. There have been public concerns, questionable characters brought in, and just a total lack of cohesive structure in place.

The off-season did not necessarily hint at any change in that pattern. Ray Farmer was appointed as the new General Manager, replacing his previous boss Michael Lombardi. An extensive search went on for a new coach, with a much publicized flirtation with the idea of trading for Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh. Eventually Mike Pettine was hired, but there have been a series of disparaging and disruptive remarks from his old boss at the Jets, Rex Ryan, which seemed to undermine the new Browns boss. Josh Gordon was lost for the season to suspension, and no wide receiver was drafted, leaving a curious mix of veterans atop the depth chart. They did draft Johnny Manziel, who may or may not have been the owner’s choice. In doing so, they ignored an extensive study that suggested Teddy Bridgewater was the best available quarterback in the draft. The defense swapped some personnel in free agency, but seemed to get a lot older in the process. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Fresh Prince Loves Fanny Packs: Early Week 5 Fantasy Football Pickups

Sometimes what you think is a good idea is just silly.

For instance, there's the Cap-Sac.  For those of you who don't know, and there really isn't any reason for you to know, the Cap-Sac is basically what you would get if a fanny pack and baseball cap had a kid.  And the cap is basically what the Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith before he became an action hero) thought would have been cool in the 80's.  Now, in the 80's perhaps this WAS cool.  I'm definitely not a good source of fashion advice and certainly made my fair share of fashion mistakes in the 80's.  But with this combination, you end up with, essentially, the worst of both worlds.  Now you can get hat hair AND look like a complete douche at the same time!  Hurray!  I mean, really, does anyone really like the look of a fanny pack?  So much that they'd want stick it on their head?  If you answered "yes" to that, then perhaps you need to take a step back and figure out why it is your friends never pointed out the fact that you have terrible fashion sense.  But I digress.

The point is, one never knows whether an idea is good or bad until you act on it.  And this is also true about fantasy football pickups.  Some may be lightening in a bottle, and some may be a Cap-Sac.  So let me help you with my early week 5 fantasy football pickups (all less than 50% owned in standard Yahoo leagues):

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The evolution of the quarterback position: Where is it headed?

In recent years the direction of the quarterback position has been up for debate. Why? Has the value in the traditional drop back passer been diminished? Ineffective? Or perhaps coaches and general managers thought to think outside the box? 

The answer is no, it has not diminished. Drop back passers have and always will be the go-to and most relied upon way to win games. Players such as Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady have built their legacy on simple offenses, being accurate, and "sticking with the script" or system. Sure Manning throws a few wobbly ducks every now and then but there's not a doubt in anyone's mind he can beat a zone or get receivers open on man coverage. He's done that with over 65,000 passing yards and closer to nil rushing yards.

So what has been the difference in the "running quarterback"? What makes them the "outside of the box" option? Well, obviously a strong ground game has been harder to stop when your defense is clueless as to whether the quarterback will take off running with the ball when the play breaks down not utilizing and check down option. That was proven during the era of Michael Vick who has the all time quarterback rushing record with 5,827 yards and 21,459 passing yards. The ultimate duel threat quarterback. 

Were not comparing Manning to Vick. Both have had their impact on the game of football in one way or another. That would be comparing apples to oranges. However, another question arises though with this information. Is the idea of having more options behind the line of scrimmage more effective in winning games? 

Well let's see...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Time for the Philadelphia Eagles to Panic?

Is it time for the Philadelphia Eagles to panic? No, probably not just yet. Should they be worried? In a word, yes. On October 2, 2011 the Philadelphia Eagles took a 20-3 halftime lead into the locker room at Lincoln Financial field against the visiting San Francisco 49ers. In the second half, they slowly and painfully watched that lead evaporate, eventually losing the game 24-23 after only mustering a field goal in the second half. Sound familiar? 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Imperial Stormtroopers Like Coffee: Early Week 4 Fantasy Football Pickups

Aren't you a little short to be a Stormtrooper?

Of course you all remember the line from Star Wars when Luke tries to rescue Princess Leia in the Death Star detention center.  And if you don't remember the line, you need to put this article away and go watch Star Wars IMMEDIATELY.  Don't worry, I'll wait.

OK, now that you've watched Star Wars and know what I'm talking about, let's get to the point.  If you didn't know, Stormtroopers in Star Wars are clones.  It's a little unclear, but it appears there was a little genetic engineering done to make them good soldiers.  Which is why I was always surprised by how terrible they were at aiming their weapons and, well, generally doing Stormtrooper stuff.  You know, like securing prisoners, checking for hostiles in enemy vessels, keeping the core of the Death Star secure, shooting things, finding droids that they're looking for, marching randomly down corridors, learning an Australian/Kiwi accent (and if you've managed to watch the Star Wars prequels, you know what I'm talking about and you're still angry about it), taking care of Stormtrooper laundry, getting coffee and other assorted Stormtrooper tasks.  But I digress.

It turns out that we've already genetically engineered humans and they're graduating from high school this year.  I kid you not.  Check out the article here.  Will they be Stormtroopers?  I hope not, because that would be terrible.  I mean, imagine finding out that you were genetically modified and then finding out that instead of being super human, you're best genetically engineered asset was not being able to shoot anything you were aiming at?  Or not ever finding the droids you're looking for?  I imagine that would suck just a little bit.

Regardless, wouldn't it be cool if you had genetically engineered football players for your fantasy team?  Well, can't help you there, but I can help you with some early Week 4 fantasy football pickups:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

NFL Stragglers - Winless Teams in the NFL

After three weeks of the regular season, there are still three teams left without a win. It's a case of the usual suspects here, as those teams are the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Those teams haven’t had a winning season since 2007, 2002 and 2010 respectively. 

With hopes already in tatters, is it possible that any of these sides can turn things around this season? Let’s take a look back at their season so far, and see where it’s all going wrong.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Derrick Rose Might Not Like Godzilla: Early Week 3 Fantasy Football Pickups

I had dinner with Derrick Rose this past weekend.

OK, so we weren't at the same table, but he was at the same restaurant and he was only a table over from me.  And while he was sitting at the table next to me, I was thoroughly distracted by trying to figure the best time to go to talk to him.  I remembered the entire Reggie Jackson thing (and if you missed it, I detailed that chance meeting here), when I finally asked him to sign my napkin in a plane as we were getting up to leave and Reggie looked at me like "wow, you really need to work on your timing".  Either that or something in the airplane food didn't sit right with him.  Which is totally possible because we had a ham sandwich, and the ham kinda looked like Godzilla shed it off as an extra layer of outer skin and then proceeded to dry it out in the sun for a week.  Oh, and then added some pink food coloring.  But I digress.

Bryan Cranston basically can make any movie good.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Arizona Cardinals v. San Francisco 49ers Breakdown

Where big football games are to be played, the NFC West will usually be pretty close to the action. The Seattle Seahawks are the ones currently setting the bar for football teams to match, no matter what the San Diego Chargers might say. Yet they were pinned to the tails of their collars by the San Francisco Forty-Niners for long spells in two big games on their way to that Super Bowl win, and were lucky to come through those games unscathed. Similarly, the Arizona Cardinals went to Seattle and won a regular season game that they simply had to take. The Cardinals were arguably the team most unlucky to miss out on the post-season, finishing 10-6 in this notoriously difficult division. The St. Louis Rams have also built a solid football team, one who can mix it with the best on the rare occasions that they can actually put all their best players on the field on the same day. Unlike most teams who finish bottom in their division, the Rams remain competitive against all comers.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the teams of the NFC West are going to be involved in some of the more promising contests of the weekend.  The Seahawks are set to face off against the Denver Broncos in a much-hyped re-match from last year’s Super Bowl. The Rams will take on the Dallas Cowboys, which might not sound terribly exciting or important on the face of it, but the Cowboys games are always followed closely around the world, for good or ill. Yet the most intriguing contest of all may well be the clash of NFC West sides, as the Forty-Niners travel to Arizona to take on the division-leading Cardinals.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Single People Love New Coke: Early Week 2 Fantasy Football Pickups

Not all new ideas are good ones.

I know many of you remember "New Coke".  And if you don't remember it, that's OK, it was terrible.  For those who need a little history lesson, back in 1985, Coke thought that perhaps they could jump start sales by making Coke even sweeter.  Really?  You bet.  It wasn't good enough that Coke is so acidic it could be used to clean dirty car battery leads (and I'm not joking about that) and that it was so sweet that it could literally eat through your teeth in half a second.  Coke thought people wanted even MORE sugar in their soda.  I'm fairly certain that when people were at the super market, they weren't thinking "if only Coke had double the sugar so that I could go into a diabetic coma when I drank it, I'd totally buy another six pack."  And lo and behold, 3 months later, Coke figured out that customers in a diabetic coma had difficulty buying more Coke and took "New Coke" off the market.  Well played, Coke.  But there are even worse ideas than that.

Now I don't remember this one, but just ran across this in an article on MSN.  Apparently, in 1974, Gerber tried to make baby food for adults.  I kid you not.  Basically, they thought that single people were so lazy, that they didn't even want to bother with inconveniences like picking up the phone to order a pizza, heating up a frozen dinner, or, apparently, chewing food.  So they made a line of blended food called Gerber Singles. According to the MSN article, Susan Casey in the October 2000 issue of Business 2.0 wrote "They might as well have called it 'I Live Alone and Eat My Meals From a Jar'".  Now that would have been a sweet name for a product!  But I digress.

The point is that no one can tell the future.  You may think something is a good idea today, but tomorrow it turns out you were a complete moron.  So here's some of my pre-moron picks for early Week 2 fantasy football pickups (again all with Yahoo ownership under 50%):

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The NFC East continues to be the NFC Least

A division that is rich in history and is one of the most celebrated in football has taken a skydive from grace. The NFC's eastern division boasts 20 Super Bowl appearances and 12 titles (no help from the Eagles by the way), but in this age of instant gratification, the past doesn't matter all that much. The most recent event is what NFL fans tend to remember. The division went 1-3 in week one. It was saved from 0-4 by the Eagles' second half thrashing of the Jaguars.

Here's where we stand:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Miami Dolphins v. Buffalo Bills Breakdown

There will be plenty of choices this Sunday for quality games to watch in the 1pm slot. Detroit at Carolina should be fierce.  Atlanta going to Cincinnati could be a real barnburner, while New England faces an intriguing test when they go to Minnesota. But the most interesting game could well be the clash of two up-and-coming sides from the AFC East, where Miami head north towards Buffalo.

The AFC East was widely heralded as another cakewalk for the Patriots yet again. The Dolphins have no offensive line; the Bills lost Kiko Alonso for the year, while the Jets still have Rex Ryan. To be fair to Ryan, he will always keep the Jets competitive, especially in divisional games. But the real story from the division is that the two teams perennially in rebuilding mode may finally be about to crack the code and make some progress.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Isn't That Kangeroo Cute?: Early Week 1 Fantasy Football Pickups

Anyone catch that Dish Network commercial with NFL football busts?

Well, I sure did, and I thought it was great…once I figured out who “The Boz” was of course.  Heck, I remember Matt Leinart from the infamous "Reggie Bush Push" where Bush pushed him into the endzone to beat Notre Dame as time expired.  That was a dark day for me, let me tell you.  But if you’re going to pick NFL busts for a commercial, why not Ryan Leaf, who might be the ultimate NFL bust.  After busting out of the NFL he apparently then busted out of making intelligent life choices by resorting to stealing prescription meds from his neighbor’s house.  At some point you have to take a step back and say “Even doing Dish Network commercials that make fun of me is better than this.” and just bite the bullet and start making fun of yourself.  Or at least avoid breaking and entering, I’m mean, that just sounds like the minimum you can do.  One of my guiding principles in life is “don’t commit any felonies”.  The other, of course, is “don’t tip a waiter less than 10% if you ever intend to return unless you have a high tolerance for unsavory covert additions to your food”.  And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, try watching the movie “Waiting”.  As Ryan Reynolds says “don’t mess with the people who prepare your food.”  Eek.  And, by the way, isn't kangeroo cute?  But I digress.

The point is I can’t go back to college, so here I am again giving you subpar semi-passable fantasy advice.  Without further waste of your time, here are my early pickups for week one, including percentage ownership in standard Yahoo leagues (most of which are under 50% Owned).

Derek Carr – QB - 9% Owned

There was much to do about Matt Schaub’s move to Oakland.  Turns out the Raiders front office were among the only people on the planet who failed to watch Schaub play last year.  And it also turns out that Schaub was just as bad as we remembered him and we actually weren’t going to wake up from some strange dream a la the movie “Wisdom” (and if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, don’t worry, it wasn’t that good of a movie.  It’s just that it happened to be the movie of the month on HBO when I was 12 or something like that and I ended up watching it like 100 times, so I’m forever scarred by the poor acting of Emilio Estevez).  So Oakland smartly turned to its new rookie QB, Derek Carr.  Unfortunately, all that I can think of when someone says “Derek Carr” is Derek’s bust of a brother, David Carr, who was also good in college and not so good in the NFL.  I’m surprised they didn’t get David Carr to star in that Dish Network commercial with Matt Leinart and “The Boz”.  Whoops, another digression.  My bad.

The point is Derek Carr handled himself just fine. Carr was 20 for 32 for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns, and most importantly, no picks.  Can’t really hope for more from a Raiders QB, as with Matt Schaub it wasn’t a question of IF he got intercepted, but a question of whether one of his picks gets returned for a touchdown.  Need a backup QB in 12-team leagues and deeper?  Carr might be a good stash.

Chris Ivory – RB - 31% Owned

Come on, you didn’t think CJ2K was going to be CJ2K again, did you?  Or maybe you just thought that Chris Ivory really wasn’t that good?  Well, he’s no CJ2K, but neither is Chris Johnson anymore.  And although shared carries abound in the future, I have no worries that Ivory will get his share and have further highlights like showing off his speed (but almost getting caught while celebrating down the field) in his 71 yard TD.  Ivory tallied 10 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown against a subpar Oakland defense, but you could do worse for an RB3/4 in your 10-team fantasy league or deeper.

Mark Ingram – RB – 54% Owned

I know what you’re thinking. Not again.  Yeah, I know, we all thought Ingram was going to be the man last year.  And the year before.  And we all know how that turned out.  But just hear me out.  Ingram was clearly the primary ground option 3-of-4 quarters and came through with 13 carries for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He had a great preseason, and so far, it looks to be carrying into the regular season.  Along with one reception, his 14 touches led all Saints running backs.  He’s not going to be reliably consistent from week to week, but it looks like he’ll be given the lion’s share of the committee for now.  Worth a look as an RB3/4 in a 10-team league or deeper.

Steve Smith – WR – 39% Owned

Remember back when people said Steve Smith, there was only one?  And then there were two, but the older Smith started to fade into obscurity?  Then he became revitalized in Carolina and the other Smith disappeared?  Then the senior Smith gets traded away because we all think he’s done?  Well, turns out the story isn’t over yet.  Steve Smith Senior caught 7-of-15 targets for 118 yards and a touchdown and looked every bit as spry and strong as he ever was.  Sure he started slow with some drops, and sure a big chunk of his stats came from an 80-yard touchdown, but he looked good earning those yards by breaking two tackles on the way to the endzone.  He won’t be this every week, but the potential for this type of production earn him a spot on your WR4/5 radar in 12-team leagues or deeper.

Injury Backups

There’s a slew of injuries as well, so keep a close eye on the injuries to Eddie Lacy, Ben Tate and Doug Martin.  James Starks (16% Owned), Terrance West (38% Owned) and Bobby Rainey (3% Owned), respectively, are all potential upside stashes in case these injuries are serious.

So get out there and make those pickups!  No time to waste!  You don't want to be like Ryan Leaf do you?  I didn't think so.

By Ha Kung Wong
(Twitter: @Rhihan)

An Imperfect 10: Washington's biggest question mark in 2014 is RG3

The Washington Redskins turned over almost half the roster from the Shanahan regime. With that said, the offense that was ranked fifth in 2012 and led the team to the playoffs remains virtually unchanged. Out of 11 starters, eight remain, and the three new guys (DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, Shawn Lauvao) are improvements. If you throw in another good option like Andre Roberts, you'd think the offense would get rolling again, right?

Not so fast.

The problem is under center.

Will the Cowboys defense prove all of us wrong?

The Cowboys fielded the worst defense in the NFL last season. In most cases you would just wipe the slate clean and move on. You can't do that with this team.

A unit that allowed 415 yards and 27 points per game did not make any improvements. On the contrary, they got worse. Jason Hatcher is in Washington, Demarcus Ware is a Bronco, and Sean Lee is out for the season. For what it's worth, Orlando Scandrick is also suspended for the first quarter of the season. Feeble attempts like signing Rolando McClain and C.J. Spillman don't fly with me, so I'll have to give Jerry Jones and his front office a big fat F for this offseason.

They should call it “Big A” this year because there's no “D” in Dallas right now.

Atlanta's quest to reclaim the NFC South begins Today

It was the worst season of the Mike Smith administration in the dirty south.

The Falcons' 2013 season was marred by injuries to the wide receiver position, poor offensive line play, and a defense that could only be classified as soft. A season in which they were expected to do a lot of damage turned to disaster and they finished with a 4-12 record.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Five Teams that Might Finish on the Bottom

The first week of the season is upon us, which inevitably means that hopes are high for all the teams around the NFL. People talk a lot about it being a league of parity, that struggling teams can bounce back like Kansas City did last year, from picking first in the draft to making the playoffs. The likes of Atlanta, Oakland and Tampa Bay all struggled last year, but have had big off-seasons and may feel like they are on an upward trajectory. But someone always has to be the worst team in the league, and it seems a worthwhile endeavor to examine who the teams likely to end up with the first overall draft selection in 2015 will be. 

Here are five candidates: