Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Seder Slate for Week 4

Second week in a row where I'll be out of town for the week's action, although maybe I'll be able to catch like 5 minutes of what may or may not qualify as an Eagles game on Sunday night.  However, unlike with my week-in-review WD4T post, the fact that I won't see the games has absolutely no bearing on my ability to discuss them before they happen.  It's this whole "time is linear" thing, I don't want to get too much into it.

This is the week where the men get separated from the boys.  27 out of 32 teams in the league are either 2-1 or 1-2, and you would have won a few bushels of apples if you had bet preseason that the Cardinals would be 3-0 and the Saints would be 0-3.  Can the Saints get off the schneid?

WHAT? New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers

WHY? See what I did there?  I know, it's another betting comment, but what do you think the over/under on total team wins for these two going into this game would have been?  3.5?  More?  Well they have one combined.  This game is all about whether the Packers offense (which has gained 100 fewer yards per game this year than last) can get well against the abysmal Saints D, or whether the Saints can right the defensive ship after giving up a league-worst 477 yards per game against the Panthers, Redskins, and Chiefs, not exactly the cream of the crop offensively.

WHO? This may be a bit obvious, but for a guy who was unanimous MVP last year without playing in Week 17 and was the first overall pick in many fantasy drafts, being on pace for fewer than 4000 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions don't impress me much.  What is clear, though, is that it really isn't Rodgers' fault.  He's completing passes at only a slightly lower rate than last season on more attempts per game, but the horrific offensive line play (as was extraordinarily apparent in their Monday Night "loss" to the Seahawks) is likely at fault for the drop of nearly 3 yards per attempt in 2012.  

HOW? OK, this is a bit outlandish, but let's just say you have a time machine.  And one of those dream entry machines from Inception.  Go back to sometime in early January and induce someone into a dream about the Super Bowl.  Chances are you'll be watching this game.  Just, you know, with naked women riding flying centaurs.

WHATMiami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals

WHY? So I guess we'd better buy the new-look Cards, huh?  After dismantling Eliminator pools in Week 2 by beating the Pats (YES, I'M STILL TALKING ABOUT IT!) and destroying the Eagles in Week 3, I wonder what they'll have for an encore against a below-average team.  The Dolphins are actually 12th in the league in total yards offensively, but they're only 20th in scoring, and are facing an Arizona defense that is 2nd in scoring defense.  With all of the attention this Cardinals team has gotten in the last two weeks, I could easily see a letdown game against a much more vanilla offense and a good defense in its own right.

WHO? It will be interesting to see what hyped second-year back Ryan Williams will be able to do with a full workload after Beanie Wells was put on that new mini-Injured-Reserve list (he can come back in two months).  The Dolphins are third in the league in defending the run despite facing three run-favoring teams in the Texans, Raiders, and Jets, and the Redbirds are a sad 27th in rush offense.  However, a lot of expectations are being placed on Williams by fantasy owners, who are hoping for the guy who rushed for 1655 yards and 21 TD on 5.6 yards per carry in his one full season in college.

HOW? I'm guessing nobody cares that Karlos Dansby played for both of these teams?  So I guess nobody will care if I offer to have you sit with his mom, huh.  Oh, fine, just make sure you pick up an ice pack before you head over to the Wells household.

WHATSan Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

WHY? In a division that was decided by one game between first and last place last season, every division game is crucial.  Every team in the AFC West was 3-3 within the division last year, so one game going a different way could have really impacted the playoff race.  The Chargers have a real opportunity to bury the pesky Chiefs, who were 0-4 against the Bolts in '08/'09, but are 2-2 against them since, with three of those games being decided by a touchdown or less.

WHO? I'm pretty sure I wrote about him last week, but now we have evidence that Jamaal Charles is, in fact, Jamaal Charles.  Granted, gaining 90 yards on 22 carries is nothing to sneeze at, but with no touchdowns and an apparent reaggravation of his surgically repaired knee, there was concern.  Well how does 288 yards and a touchdown grab you?  Now everyone can calm down.  However, I'm interested to see how he follows this up, because aside from a 91-yard touchdown run, he gained a relatively pedestrian 144 yards on 32 carries against a putrid Saints defense.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if Charles had fewer than 39 total touches (the amount he had against New Orleans) in the next two games combined, and we'll see how efficient those touches will be.

HOW? You might want to take a satchel of some sort to this game, at least one big enough to take home the pieces of Antonio Gates that are likely to fall off sometime soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Week 3's 'Tonement and Trope

I'm going to preface this post by saying that including half of the Thursday and Monday Night games, I  have watched about four hours of football this week.  More often than not, that number is more than 10.  So this week (and next week as well) I'll be speaking almost exclusively from what I see in the box score.  A nice exercise in deduction, to be sure, but not a formula for knowing things well.  And yet, you've already come all this way, so you might as well stay a while.

And today is Yom Kippur, so instead of the usual Trail Mix section we're going to go with Transgressions, in which I'll offer some suggestions of people that need to atone for their sins, including myself in some cases.


TRIUMPH:  Let's just lump the entire Bengals passing game into one here.  The Red Rifle Andy Dalton had a very solid day (19-27, 328 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT), and the team as a whole was even more explosive, with WR Mohamed Sanu throwing a 73-yard TD to AJ Green on the first play of the game. Green added another 8 receptions for 110 yards, and three other pass-catchers (Andrew Hawkins, Jermaine Gresham, and Armon Binns) had at least 60 yards and a touchdown.  Just a bonus, Hawkins now has consecutive games with two catches, but with one of them being a 50+ yard touchdown.

TRAGEDY:  I don't think this is necessarily just a blip on the radar, but both of these defenses struggled against at best above-average offenses.  The 'Skins were 12th in the league in pass defense in 2011 and allowed 385 net passing yards on Sunday.  The Bengals were 10th in the league in rush defense in 2011 and allowed 213 rushing yards in a game in which they led 24-7 in the second quarter. Yes, Washington lost two members of their defensive front seven for the year this week, and Cincinnati doesn't have the dominant Leon Hall that they've had at corner in the past, but those are the opposite position problems that you would expect to cause the types of struggles they had Sunday.

TREND:  If you remove the broken-coverage-induced 80-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon against a Saints team that we now know can't even cover Call Me Maybe, Robert Griffin III has a per-game average of 20-30 for 220 yards with 1 touchdowns and 0.33 interceptions.  Everyone keeps raving about how great he looks, but this is an offense that is predicated on running the ball (115 pass attempts to 106 rush attempts even in three straight shootouts), and the Redskins haven't played a defense yet that has shown consistent success in 2012.  Cool your jets, fanatics -- unless you're a fantasy player, in which case the fact that he is averaging 70 yards and a touchdown on the ground per game is pretty awesome.

TRANSGRESSION: I think that Mike Shanahan needs to atone for not properly preparing us for a three-week stretch in which one running back (Alfred Morris) dominates the touches for his team with no sign of being summarily pulled from the lineup.  He did, however, prepare us for the fact that it would be some slow guy who came from nowhere (Ryan Torain?).  Morris has 61 of the 74 carries for the Redskins this year, and no one else appears to be threatening his touches at the moment.


TRIUMPH: How about Kevin Kolb stepping it up against his former team, and against a defense that is known for its pass rush?  He went 17-of-24 with 222 yards, 2 TD, and 0 INT in a dominant win.  Last week in the Eliminator-crushing win against New England (still sour about it, yes), Korn Kolb was just 15-of-27 for 140 yards and 1 TD (still no INT, though).  The Cardinals are now 3-0, which is as many wins as they had in the 9 games that Kolb was a part of last season.

TRAGEDY: This probably could have been a trend, but I think it's tragic enough to put here.  Michael Vick, really?  REALLY?  9 turnovers and just 4 total touchdowns in 3 games?  According to ESPN's Total QBR rankings, Vick is the 25th best quarterback in the league this year.  Blaine Gabbert is 24th.  When you're 5th in the league in total offense but dead last in scoring, there's something seriously wrong.  Especially when you have gamebreaking skill players, INCLUDING THE QUARTERBACK.

TREND: Larry Fitzgerald loves him some Eagles.  In his last three games against the Birds, starting with the NFC Championship Game a few years ago, Fitz has averaged 8 receptions, 137 yards, and 2 touchdowns.  That was with three different quarterbacks, only one of which anyone would consider above league average.  And the game before that?  He scored two touchdowns.  The man's a monster.

TRANSGRESSION: I have to atone myself here, for writing in my preseason fantasy post that I believed in Michael Vick.  I drafted him and Tony Romo in my family league, and not only have successfully started the guy who scored less each week, but now am concerned that Vick will lose his job and I will be stuck with a suddenly-crappy-even-by-fantasy-standards Romo.  I think that the two series of preseason reps should have been a red flag, and, along with many others, I was blinded by my nostalgia for 2010.


TRIUMPH: With exactly zero regular-season carries to his name, coming off a suspension, and with a reasonably productive guy in Kevin Smith ahead of him, I'm not sure that anyone would have predicted that Mikel Leshoure would touch the ball 30 times in this game.  Now, expectations should be tempered, as the Lions haven't shown much rushing prowess the last few years, and Leshoure did only manage 134 yards on those 30 touches, but to see him kick Kevin Smith to the curb so decisively was a surprise.

TRAGEDY: What was going on with the Lions defense (and special teams, and offense) in this game?  Every one of the Titans' 5 touchdowns (including 1 defensive and 2 special teams) was over 60 yards.  When playing a Tennessee team that had scored just 23 points in their first two games, it's not the best strategy to forget how to cover and tackle.  Now, the Lions were bottom-10 in the NFL in punt and kickoff return average allowed in 2011, so that's not so surprising, but all in one game?

TREND: Titans' defense?  Not so good.  313 passing yards per game allowed, an unreal 76% completion percentage allowed, and even 150 rushing yards per game allowed.  If it weren't for Chris Johnson and his negative average yards-before-contact, there would be a lot more attention on how sub-par this group has been.  Next on the schedule is a balanced and defensively stout Texans team, and I would be shocked if they had fewer than 400 yards of total offense in this game, which would represent a step in the right direction for the Titans.

TRANSGRESSION: Let's be real here, if you're getting paid $10 million a year as a running back and your team scores 44, but you have just 29 total yards and no scores, you've got some 'splainin' to do.  If this is what Chris Johnson looks like when he has no offensive line help, then A) Tennessee had some impossibly good line play in 2009, and B) CJNotOK has as broad a spectrum of possible production as anyone in the league.  Consider that in 19 games since the start of last year, Johnson has had 10 in which he has averaged fewer than 3 yards per carry and 2 in which he has averaged more than 5, and has scored 4 total touchdowns in that span.  In the rest of his career (48 games), he has 7 games of fewer than 3 YPC, 21 games of more than 5 YPC, and 38 total touchdowns.  I had him as a first-round pick in fantasy, as did most people, and somehow managed to avoid drafting him, and have actually only owned him once ever, and that was his rookie year.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Seder Slate for Week 3

Since I'll be out of town for this weekend, I don't know if I'll be able to get to this bad boy later.  So, you get your nibblins just a bit early this week.  Isn't that precious?

There are three matchups this week between teams that are legitimate playoff contenders, so naturally I will not explore any of them in this post.  However, I don't want to go without mentioning these contests between the Falcons and Chargers, Ravens and Patriots, and Broncos and Texans, with the latter two games containing, in my opinion, the only four teams that will legitimately compete for the AFC title this year.  But who wants to hear about that?

WHAT? Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

WHY? Um, hello, Kevin Kolb versus Michael Vick?  Who will produce the turnover that loses the game for his team?  But seriously, the Cardinals are a surprising 2-0 after dispensing of a hyped Seahawks team and, well, destroying 40% of Eliminator pools by taking down the Patriots.  Their defense is very legitimate, allowing just 17 points per game through two weeks.  And they face an Eagles team that has done exactly what killed them last year offensively -- turning the ball over, and over, and over -- but has managed to squeak out two victories.  Should be another tough one for the Iggles.

WHO? I'll be keeping an eye on Mr. $100 million, Larry Fitzgerald.  While he's been targeted the most of any Cardinals player, he has fewer receptions than Todd Heap, Andre Roberts, and Early Doucet, and for a player that was generally drafted second among receivers in fantasy, 67 yards and no touchdowns in two games is, well, not good.  He had 146 yards and 2 touchdowns last year against Philly, so it's not like Nnamdi and Co. have his number, but the Eagles do have the league's second-best pass defense right now.

HOW? I'm feeling generous, so I'll give you two choices: watch while noshing on some Chunky Soup with Donovan McNabb and his mom, or while eating some Ramen with Mike Kafka in his mom's basement.  Either way, you get the entire Eagles' QB depth chart from 2009 or 2010.

WHATSan Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings

WHY? Maybe the best team in the league (I'll still take the Texans though) takes its show on the road against a team that's looked much better than last year (albeit in close games against two other bad teams).  The Niners' pass defense isn't as good as its run defense, which is good for them since the Vikes' pass offense isn't as good as its rush offense (Yo Adrian!  What happened to that Week 1 performance?).  Jim Harbaugh must be throwing some crazy voodoo on Alex Smith, because the dude hasn't thrown an interception since last November and has just 5 in his last 500 attempts, after throwing 22 in his previous 700.

WHO? I've been very impressed with Christian Ponder thus far this season (yes I mentioned him last week, but it's my blog, dammit!).  He's completing over 75% of his passes (best in the league) with 8.3 YPA (yards per attempt -- 5th best in the league), and how could you not when you have a beast like Percy Harvin to throw to.  We all know how much I love me some Perce this season, and he hasn't disappointed from a usage standpoint, ranking 9th in targets, 2nd in receptions, 10th in yards, and 4th in first downs among pass-catchers for a team that is only 13th in the league in passing.

HOW? Go to a football field.  Find a goalpost.  Stand next to it.  Turn and face the middle of the field.  Bend over.  Pretend to moon the stands.  Randy Moss returns to Minnesota.

WHATKansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints

WHY? This here is a battle of two teams with postseason expectations who have fallen on tough times in the early going.  I've already written all about how terrible the Chiefs not named Shaun Draughn have been, but I'll admit I'm surprised at how punchless the Saints have looked without their first or second string head coach.  The offense is 6th in scoring, but the defense is last in the league in yards and points allowed.

WHO? It's gotta be Drew Brees, right?  The guy destroyed the NFL passing record last year while completing over 70% of his passes and throwing 46 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.  Thus far this season, he is on pace for "only" 5300 yards, but with 32 touchdowns, 32 interceptions, and just 55% completions.  And this is against two defenses that were 12th and 24th against the pass (and 20th and 22nd in interceptions) in 2011.  If not now, at home against a reeling Chiefs team that has allowed 5 TD and 0 INT thus far, then when?

HOW? Take a break from the hustle and bustle and head down to Bourbon Street.  Don't do anything crazy, just stand around and people-watch.  You probably won't have to watch a single second of the game to know what's happening.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Week 2's Talentless Texan Touter

For a person who spends as much time watching and talking about football as I do, I sure suck at knowing stuff.  My fantasy teams are a resounding 5-7 (thank you very much, Matt Forte and Darren McFadden), I've picked just 11 out of 32 games correctly against the spread, and my Eliminator entry is done after just two weeks (how long of odds would you have given the Cardinals of beating the Patriots if their starting quarterback is hurt, Larry Fitzgerald is held to 4 yards, and Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells combine for 24 yards on 57 carries?).

So with that in mind, you should probably totally ignore what's written below.


TRIUMPH:  Um, so, how 'bout that Giants' passing game?  Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz combined to nab 21 receptions for THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY EIGHT YARDS and two touchdowns.  To put that in perspective, that's more yards for two receivers than the Bills, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Jaguars have passed for in two games total.  

TRAGEDY:  Let's just throw an umbrella on this and say that the Buccaneers defense was, well, lacking hustle.  I should point out that in a game in which the Giants allowed 34 points and were throwing the ball all over the lot, allowing just 307 yards total is pretty successful.  The Bucs, on the other hand, were fresh off holding the vaunted Panthers offense down in Week 1, and decided to celebrate by allowing over 500 passing yards.  They even added 94 rushing yards allowed against last year's worst rushing offense in a game where they led for most of the contest.  

TREND:  Let's go back to that Giants passing offense for a second.  Last season, Eli Manning posted 33% of his completions, 30% of his attempts, 35% of his yards, 52% of his touchdowns, and 38% of his interceptions in the fourth quarter.  They just throw a lot at the end of games.  Yes, a lot of that falls on their defense, but it doesn't look like that's really improved.  The Giants were down 27-13 two minutes into the second half, after all.

TRAIL MIX: You may have heard that there was a bit of a stink over the Bucs bum-rushing the Giants' kneel-down play at the end of the game, with Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano saying that he called that because he instructs his team to play hard until the final whistle.  In a league that's obsessed with player safety, pulling that move on an offensive unit that has ZERO idea that they're going to get hit is a recipe for disaster.  Yes, it's bush league, but I'm not really concerned about that.  Don't give up 500 passing yards, and you won't have to worry.


TRIUMPH: CJ Spiller is apparently greater than sliced bread.  Through his first two games of 2012, he has 29 carries for 292 yards, 5 catches for 72 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  Them's Tecmo Bowl numbers right there (OK, not quite -- that number of carries by Bo Jackson would likely produce about 1000 yards and 15 touchdowns).  But after Spiller averaged 18 touches for 105 total yards and just under a touchdown per game last year with Fred Jackson out, so it really brings into question how much the Bills are willing to limit the former first-round pick's touches once Jackson returns.

TRAGEDY: Jamaal Charles... dude...  Through two games, the JC of KC has netted 25 touches (22 carries) for 106 total yards, and no touchdowns.  For a comparison, last season Charles played in just five quarters and had 92 total yards and a touchdown on 17 touches, and in 2010, he had 177 total yards and a touchdown on 24 touches.  He hasn't shown a decline in usage, but he has shown a decline in performance.  He's as explosive as any player in the league, though, and the Chiefs have to play in a competitive game eventually, right?

TREND: Speaking of the Chiefs playing competitive games, can we talk about how the Chiefs have lost their first two games in 2012 by a combined score of 75-41 after losing their first two in 2011 by a combined score of 89-10?  Incidentally, Buffalo was involved in each of those seasons, but that's neither here nor there.  This team appears to have caught the Chargers' early-season-struggle mojo, with the Bolts surprisingly starting 2-0 each of the last two years.  For a team that's built to run the ball and keep Matt Cassel's responsibilities down, they really get blown out a lot.

TRAIL MIX: My vote for the highest ratio of fantasy-relevance to my-awareness-of-his-existence-prior-to-Week-1 might just go to Shaun Draughn, who has dramatically outperformed Jamaal Charles this season.  He had 6 total touches and gained 89 yards in this game, and now has 14 touches for 130 yards and a touchdown, compared to Charles' 25 for 106 and zero.  Seriously, when Draughn started accruing stats Week 1 on ESPN's live updates, I thought they were just mistyping Peyton Hillis or something.


TRIUMPH: Willis McGahee looked positively spry in this contest, rumbling-bumbling-stumbling for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries despite the Broncos trailing throughout the game, the majority of the time by multiple scores.  Yes, this is a small sample size, but after a renaissance season last year with 1200 rushing yards but just four rushing touchdowns, he's now on pace for 1400 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.  And this is a guy who had a devastating knee injury in college and is now on the wrong side of 30.

TRAGEDY: After fans and experts alike had a collective drool-fest over Julio Jones during the preseason and through Week 1, Jones backers got a nice taste of reality Monday night, as he had just 4 receptions for 14 yards on 7 targets.  This is the nature of the beast when you're dealing with receivers, as there's plenty of mouths to feed (and just one football) and plenty of in-game situations that can lead a player to underperform.  He'll still do great this season, but let's reel in the Megatron-circa-2011 expectations.

TREND: I'm pretty sure I wrote about Michael Turner here last week, but hey, a trend is a trend.  The guy looks like he has no explosion, no speed, no power.  It took him a few tries to get a 1-yard plunge TD early on, which is a facet of his game that was considered to be a strength.  In a game in which the Falcons led for all but five minutes, it's pretty disappointing that Turner only netted 11 carries after the first quarter.  Now, let's not go out and say that the Dirty Birds need to put somebody else out there, because the rest of the team has totaled 32 yards on 13 carries in two games.

TRAIL MIX: I don't know if it's a Broncos thing or what, but Peyton Manning looks like he has a little Tebow in him this season.  I already used this analysis on his brother, so that works out conveniently.  Peyton has produced almost exactly 1/3 of his completions, attempts, yards, and touchdowns in just the fourth quarter this season, with his Broncos outscoring their opponents 31-6, after being outscored 40-21 in the first three quarters.  Also, anyone else notice that Peyton went from one horse team (the Colts) to another (the Broncos)?  Conspiracy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Seder Slate for Week 2

Getting into the groove now, if you wanna prove your love to me, now's the time.

It's been a tough work week for my football soul, as the Raiders/Chargers game produced no positive outcomes (McFadden and Rivers didn't do enough, Gates was underwhelming and got hurt, and the Raiders didn't cover), and the Bears/Packers game was even worse (Forte missed half the game and will be out several weeks, Marshall wasn't targeted in the first half and dropped a 30-yard touchdown, and the Bears thus failed to cover).  So perhaps this weekend's games will provide me with a little juice to lift my spirits.

What? Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers

Why? Two teams with potential playoff aspirations meet after the Titans got blown up by New England and the Chargers spooked the Raiders' backup long snapper enough to eek out a Week 1 win. The Chargers always start slow and finish strong, but they have an opportunity to go 2-0 with Ryan Mathews missing the first game and being limited in the second.  As for the Titans, can anyone guess what's on ABC Family right now?  HOLD ON TO THAT BALL, PETEY!

Who? Chris Johnson ran for over 1000 yards and had 400 yards receiving and Philip Rivers threw for 4600 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2011, but they were considered disappointments because of their expectations and their seemingly anomalous other statistics (Johnson's 4 rushing touchdowns and Rivers' 20 interceptions).  Well, CJ2K's bounce-back season started off with an 11-carry, 4-yard performance against last year's 24th ranked defense in yards-per-rush, and Rivers put up a positively Alex-Smith-esque 231 yard, 1 TD, 0 INT game against last season's 27th ranked pass defense.  Meh.

How? If you can keep your head straight while doing so, try watching it while doing up-downs until Blue is no longer tired or thirsty.

What? Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts

Why? Because if the Vikings pull out this win on the road in Indy, they will be alone at the top of the NFC North, in a division where the other three members are considered strong playoff threats.  Christian Ponder went 20/27 for 270 yards in Week 1.  Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, and Jay Cutler, all Pro-Bowlers, have thus far averaged 23/37 for 267 yards, 1.4 TD, and 2 INT in their combined five games.  Yes, I'm exploiting a small sample size for my own benefit.  Lies, damn lies, and statistics, people.

Who? Purple Jesus, All Day, The Cashier (Merril Hoge?  Really?), whatever you call him, Adrian Peterson looked like that guy last Sunday.  All the reports everyone heard before the game had him netting no more than 10 carries, and he ended up with 17 for 84 yards and two touchdowns.  That was against 2011's 5th-toughest yards-per-rush defense.  This week he faces the Colts, who may be going through a massive defensive philosophy shift, but they were 29th in the league against the run last year, and can't have improved much yet.  However, small sample size analysis with a guy 8 months off ACL/MCL surgery is about as solid as the Bears' offensive line.

How? It's Jewish High Holiday season, so grab two shofars, tape them on top of a biking helmet, grow a beard, and cheer on the Vikings!

What? Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

Why? Here's a situation for you: imagine that on the first field goal attempt of the game, the Seahawks get a good push up front and end up trying to block the kick.  Somebody absolutely wrecks the Cowboys' holder, Chris Jones (yes, I had to look this up).  Then, with under two minutes left in the game, the 'Boys are down 20-17, and Tony Romo has to come in to be the replacement holder for the field goal.  You're telling me NO ONE wants to watch the game for that possibility?

Who? As a multiple-fantasy-owner of DeMarco Murray, I'm eager to see how he performs after averaging over 6 yards per carry on 20 carries last week against the GeeeeeeeeeMen.  The 'Hawks allowed 27 yards on 17 carries against the Cards last week and were 4th in the league last year, allowing just 3.8 yards per carry, but Murray gained 139 yards on 22 carries against them last season.  Man, this really is a small sample size week.  I guess there's only so much you can do when there's only been one week of the season.

How? Post up in the rotating restaurant in the Space Needle and get a smart phone, 'cause you're watching 1/3 of the game from on high (and through a bit of room, I imagine), and for the rest, you've got live update apps!  What's better than that???

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shaking the Dust off the WD4T

Let's get right into this.  Every week, I'll produce two pieces, a review and a preview of each week.  You've already seen the preview for Week 1, so here's a review.  Really simple.

First, a little opener.  For all of the hoopla about the record-breaking five rookie starting quarterbacks at the outset of this season, they combined to average 224 yards on 18-of-35 passing with 0.8 touchdowns and 2.2 interceptions (and 200, 18-37, 0.5, and 2.8 if you exclude RGIII).  And for all of the hoopla about the dominant passing numbers from last year (via Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Eli, and Stafford), they combined to average 289 yards on 26-of-41 passing with 1.8 touchdowns and 1.2 interceptions.  Yes, it's just one game, but maybe we'll see a little bit of a defensive resurgence this season.


TRIUMPH:  Last season's Eagles defense was, to put it lightly, porous against the run.  They allowed 695 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns through just the first five weeks.  But they stepped their game up in this contest, If you remove a 35-yard reverse play from the equation, the Browns managed just 64 yards on 21 carries in a game that was close throughout.

TRAGEDY:  If Michael Vick's play wasn't a tragedy, I don't know what is.  If the Browns' player catches the terribly-thrown ball to the corner of the endzone that preceded the game-winning touchdown, we're looking at a 28/56 for 313, 1 TD, 5 INT game for Vick, which is positively Weedenian once you account for the fact that he accumulated all those yards over almost 60 attempts.

TREND:  Yes, Vick was brutal, but this shouldn't really have surprised anyone.  The Browns actually allowed the second-fewest passing yards in the league last year.  And no, Negative Nancy, it doesn't matter that the Browns were consistently losing and thus didn't HAVE to be thrown on.  They were also fifth-best at opponents' yards-per-attempt allowed.  What's really funny (read: not funny) is that the Browns were 30th in the league (21st per attempt) in rushing defense, and yet the Eagles gave pound-for-pound the best running back in the league 7 carries in the first half.

TRAIL MIX: To hammer home this whole why-the-hell-are-you-continuing-to-put-it-up-with-Vick-when-he's-on-pace-to-set-an-interceptions-record thing, Michael Vick had never thrown the ball 50 times in a game.  Ever.  Why, Andy Reid, do you pick a game in which 1) you're facing a defense that is much worse against the run than the pass, 2) you were never losing by more than 6 points, and 3) Vick clearly lacks composure and decision-making ability, to pull out that game plan?


TRIUMPH: You're thinking Julio Jones, right?  Well you're wrong.  Remember, this is about surprisingly good performances, not just good performances.  And Dexter McCluster came out of nowhere to lead the Chiefs in targets, receptions, and receiving yards in this game (10, 6, and 82, respectively).  So much for Jon Baldwin making an impact -- he wasn't even targeted.

TRAGEDY: You're thinking Michael Turner, right?  Well you're wrong again.  The Chiefs lost their first two games last season by a combined score of 89-10, and are heading in that direction this season as well.  Granted, their offense didn't really look that bad this time around, and Jamaal Charles still has an ACL, so there's that.

TREND: OK, now you get your Julio Jones fix.  It's no fluke that he had such an explosive start to 2012 (6 catches, 108 yards, 2 TD) -- in the last four games of 2011, Jones averaged 5 catches for 98 yards and 1.5 touchdowns, and by all accounts the Dirty Birds are looking to air it out more this season.

TRAIL MIX: Speaking of airing it out, how 'bout that Michael Turner?  Before you fantasy owners get all riled up, I should note that he had three games in 2011 in which he had fewer than 15 carries for fewer than 50 yards and zero touchdowns -- and he still was top-five in the league in rushing.  That being said, there's a reason why I don't own him on any of my six fantasy teams.


TRIUMPH: Two of the best running backs in the league, Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson, were both almost entirely disregarded by pundits and fantasy owners going into this week's action (started in just 64 and 52 percent of ESPN leagues, respectively, and that's no doubt inflated by teams who weren't actually paying attention).  They combined for 36 carries, 161 yards, and 2 touchdowns, while their supposed replacements (Rashad Jennings and Toby Gerhart) combined for 14 carries, 49 yards, and 0 touchdowns.

TRAGEDY: With quarterback Blaine Gabbert looking like he may actually deserve an NFL paycheck in the preseason, people were starting to get a little bit excited about rookie WR Justin Blackmon's prospects.  So much for that.  He caught 3 of the 6 passes thrown his way for just 24 yards, which looks even worse when you note that Gabbert actually threw for 260 yards and 2 TD in this contest.

TREND: Percy Harvin remains as integral to his offense a receiver as any in the league (man, that took forever to find a wording, and it still sucks), with 8 targets (6 receptions) and 5 carries, making him the target of the offensive scheme in just under 1/4 of the Vikes' plays.  By comparison, Calvin Johnson accounted for just under 1/10 of his offensive scheme this week.

TRAIL MIX: Kicker Time!  How about Blair Walsh, fantasy superstar?  Replacing stalwart Ryan Longwell in Minnesota, Walsh booted four field goals in the last 18 minutes of the game, including a 55-yarder as time expired in the 4th quarter and a game-winning 38-yarder in overtime.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Return of Bi-Weekly Football Posts!

In just two days we will be subjected to a slightly-less-than-full 13-game schedule of NFL games for the first time in, well, more than a few months.  And really, who could wait to yell at all the replacement referees, you know, like you never did with the real ones? 

Off topic.  Regular readers (hi Mom!) might recall that towards the end of last season I started writing the Seder Slate, previews for a few contests each week centered around the whole Passover Seder Four Questions thing.  Well, except that the questions were one word long and had nothing to do with dipping anything in salt water.  Why is this night different from all other nights?  On all other nights we watch ESPN for erroneous Tim Tebow coverage.  On this night, you get it right here :-D

What? Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

Why? I'm going to preface this answer by saying that by no means do I think that Mark Sanchez is a good NFL quarterback.  However, people should watch this game so they can realize that Tim Tebow is no savior for this offense.  Sanchez had the highest completion percentage, most yards, and most touchdowns of his career last year, and even ran for 6 touchdowns (as many as Timmy, in a year where Tebow ran the ball 85 more times than Sanchez).  The Jets didn't make an epic draft-day trade and watch Sanchez flail for three years to replace him with a guy who's even worse who they have nothing invested in.

Who? I'll be checking out the duel between Stevie Johnson and Darrelle Revis.  While pretty much every good receiver that's played the J-E-T-S has spent a 3-hour tour on or around Revis' Isle over the past few years, Johnson has managed to (to some extent) swim away, averaging 4 catches for 65 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game over their past four matchups.  The tag-team of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller should keep the Jets honest while Johnson makes a play or two that could swing the game.

How? Where better to watch this bad boy than from the AFC East's proverbial throne?  Don't get too comfortable, though, you're just keeping it warm for the Pats.

What? San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

Why? Because this is what the NFC Championship game should have looked like, and it would have been glorious.  Hi, I don't believe we've met; I'm Unstoppable Force.  Immovable Abject, you said?  Oh, Object.  Got it.

Who? Washed-up-questionable-character-guys, ahoy!  Cedric Benson, the guy who has averaged 4 yards per carry just once since 2006, has fumbled 12 times in the past two years, and has just 106 receptions in 91 career games, will totally fit right in with the high-flying spread attack of the Packers, right?  And Randy Moss, who when we saw him last was warming the bench for a 6-10 team and catching 28 passes for 393 yards in 16 games, is going to pay big dividends for an Alex-Smith-led passing offense that was 31st in the league last year in attempts, right?

How? Step 1: Pick up a sandwich somewhere.  Step 2: Find Terrell Owens' house.  Step 3: Hand him the sandwich.  He could use a lift.  Step 4: Find a clip of his catch against the Packers in the 1998 (?) playoffs.  Step 5: Watch it with him.  Step 6: He'll let you stay and watch this game.

What? Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos

Why? Duh, because we want to see the Steelers' D beat the snot out of Tebow as revenge for beating them last year in the playoffs!  Oh, wait.  OK, I guess I'll settle for the first real game for Peyton Manning since the end of the 2010 season at home against one of the other "teams of the 2000's."

Who? Mike Wallace, of course!  What, you thought I was gonna say Manning?  Whatever, dude's like 35.  Wallace caused all sorts of hoopla over his holdout and got the guy on the OTHER side of the formation a 5 year, $40 million contract, and returns just in time for the regular season and a matchup with "is he off the cliff yet?" Champ Bailey.

How? Watch it while working out some Punnett Squares in an attempt to understand the high school genetics explanation of Ryan Clark sitting out the game because of his Sickle Cell trait.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Frameshmania Year 5 Draft Review!

I’m not going to do much introduction here, because so little to do and so much time to do it in!  Wait, strike that, reverse it.  This is a comprehensive review of the draft of my family fantasy football league (Frameshmania), which is an 8-team league featuring the four members of my household and a few other family and friends.  It would be casual, if there weren’t a commissioner who wrote 12-page draft reviews.

Let’s get going.

Roster structure: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB/WR, 1 DEF, 1 K, 7 BEN

Round 1
(1) Hometown Mamas - Arian Foster RB
(2) J - E - T - S JETS JETS JETS - Aaron Rodgers QB
** (3) Salt Lake City Big Tymers - Ray Rice RB
(4) Detroit Football - Calvin Johnson WR
(5) DelCo's Side-Arm Stud - LeSean McCoy RB
(6) Trophy Me Maybe - Tom Brady QB
(7) 5abotage The League - Chris Johnson RB
(8) Hoosier Daddy - Maurice Jones-Drew RB

Round 2
(9) Hoosier Daddy - Drew Brees QB
(10) 5abotage The League - Matt Forte RB
(11) Trophy Me Maybe - Darren McFadden RB
(12) DelCo's Side-Arm Stud - Marshawn Lynch RB
(13) Detroit Football - Matthew Stafford QB
** (14) Salt Lake City Big Tymers - DeMarco Murray RB
(15) J - E - T - S JETS JETS JETS - Larry Fitzgerald WR
(16) Hometown Mamas - Roddy White WR

The first round went pretty uneventfully, with the exception of the slight upset of Calvin Johnson going ahead of LeSean McCoy.  But then you realize that the owner is a massive Lions fan, especially evident as he took Stafford at 13 (although that’s not a bad pick at all).  More on that later, though.  Despite the whole “it’s a passing league” thing, 9 running backs still went in the top 16 picks, and three teams took two each in their first two picks.  Two teams didn’t take a running back at all here (Detroit and J-E-T-S), and those are the two worst running back groups in the league, in my opinion.  Not a coincidence.  I was pleasantly surprised that neither of the top tight ends went in the first two rounds, as it’s really unlikely that both of them return that value over the season.

Best pick: Matthew Stafford – Dude threw for 5000 yards and 40 touchdowns, saw no change in his scheme or personnel, and is a second-rounder?

Worst pick: Marshawn Lynch – Contract year breakout + back spasms = no thanks.

Round 3
(17) Hometown Mamas - Cam Newton QB
(18) J - E - T - S JETS JETS JETS - Jimmy Graham TE
** (19) Salt Lake City Big Tymers - Ryan Mathews RB
(20) Detroit Football - Adrian Peterson RB
(21) DelCo's Side-Arm Stud - Andre Johnson WR
(22) Trophy Me Maybe - Rob Gronkowski TE
(23) 5abotage The League - Jamaal Charles RB
(24) Hoosier Daddy - Greg Jennings WR

Round 4
(25) Hoosier Daddy - Wes Welker WR
(26) 5abotage The League - Julio Jones WR
(27) Trophy Me Maybe - Fred Jackson RB
(28) DelCo's Side-Arm Stud - Mike Wallace WR
(29) Detroit Football - Brandon Marshall WR
** (30) Salt Lake City Big Tymers - Hakeem Nicks WR
(31) J - E - T - S JETS JETS JETS - Steven Jackson RB
(32) Hometown Mamas - Trent Richardson RB

Lots of risk/reward plays here (Peterson, Mathews, Johnson, Newton, Wallace, Richardson), and these two rounds were dominated by pass-catchers (7 WR, 2 TE).  Mathews and Peterson both went a little too high for my tastes, especially with excellent receivers on the board.  I strongly disagree with Andre Johnson and Mike Wallace going this early, considering that they have injury and attitude concerns.  I love-love-love (Of Monsters and Men?  No one?) Marshall this year at his draft position, and was incensed to find out that he was taken one pick before me.  Steven Jackson is also a very nice grab for a team that didn’t take a running back until the 4th round and so got the 14th guy off the board.

Best pick: Brandon Marshall – The guy is a guaranteed 1100-6 and has 1500-10 upside, but had 7 guys go ahead of him?

Worst pick: Andre Johnson – As much as I love his gloves and his team, he has been ravaged with injury (including already this preseason) and hasn’t even been that productive lately.

Round 5
(33) Hometown Mamas - Jordy Nelson WR
(34) J - E - T - S JETS JETS JETS - Michael Turner RB
** (35) Salt Lake City Big Tymers - A.J. Green WR
(36) Detroit Football - Frank Gore RB
(37) DelCo's Side-Arm Stud - Ahmad Bradshaw RB
(38) Trophy Me Maybe - Willis McGahee RB
(39) 5abotage The League - Antonio Brown WR
(40) Hoosier Daddy - Victor Cruz WR

Round 6
(41) Hoosier Daddy - Darren Sproles RB
(42) 5abotage The League - Peyton Manning QB
(43) Trophy Me Maybe - BenJarvus Green-Ellis RB
(44) DelCo's Side-Arm Stud - Eli Manning QB
(45) Detroit Football - Matt Ryan QB
** (46) Salt Lake City Big Tymers - Antonio Gates TE
(47) J - E - T - S JETS JETS JETS - Dez Bryant WR
(48) Hometown Mamas - Marques Colston WR

The fifth round had many one-year wonders at wide receiver (Nelson, Green, Brown, Cruz), but I can’t gripe too much with any of them at this point in the draft (although Brown was a reach at 39 with Cruz, Colston, and Harvin still on the board).  The quarterback train started rolling in the sixth round, as three signal-callers went within four picks.  I’m fine with the order of those three guys, although I think they’ll all be really similar.  The running back depth really dropped off after these rounds, which put a few teams in precarious positions with only two backs taken in the first 6 rounds.

Best pick: Marques Colston – As the 15th receiver off the board, I really like Colston’s value, considering he was 11th last year and lost competition in Robert Meachem.

Worst pick: Matt Ryan – When you spend a second round pick on Matthew Stafford and a third round pick on Adrian Peterson, you really should look to solidify the running back position instead of getting a backup you will probably only start once.

Round 7
(49) Hometown Mamas - Reggie Bush RB
(50) J - E - T - S JETS JETS JETS - Percy Harvin WR
** (51) Salt Lake City Big Tymers - Michael Vick QB
(52) Detroit Football - Dwayne Bowe WR
(53) DelCo's Side-Arm Stud - Stevan Ridley RB
(54) Trophy Me Maybe - Steve Smith WR
(55) 5abotage The League - Doug Martin RB
(56) Hoosier Daddy - Jermichael Finley TE

Round 8
(57) Hoosier Daddy - Beanie Wells RB
(58) 5abotage The League - Jeremy Maclin WR
(59) Trophy Me Maybe - Demaryius Thomas WR
(60) DelCo's Side-Arm Stud - Vernon Davis TE
(61) Detroit Football - Brandon Pettigrew TE
** (62) Salt Lake City Big Tymers - Brandon Lloyd WR
(63) J - E - T - S JETS JETS JETS - Vincent Jackson WR
(64) Hometown Mamas - Steve Johnson WR

While the running back stability falls off a cliff after Doug Martin’s off the board, the receivers still look mighty tasty in these rounds, as half of the picks in the 7th/8th are wideouts.  Tight ends start going off the board, which is right where I would expect (although not at all what I would do personally).  My two picks were really questionable, as taking Vick forces you into taking a second quarterback too early (more on that later), and Lloyd has nice upside but I think he’s overrated because of the whole McDaniels/Brady thing. 

Best pick: Percy Harvin – One of a few players I have an unhealthy obsession with this year (also including Marshall, Steven Jackson, and McFadden), Harvin touched the ball way more than any receiver over the last 3/4 of the season, played in a significantly lower percentage of his team’s snaps, and still was top-ten at the position last year.

Worst pick: Demaryius Thomas – He’s been inconsistent through his short career and is still mostly a raw athlete, which is not the kind of receiver that Peyton Manning usually likes (think Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Brandon Stokley).  I like his teammate, Decker, more, as well as several other receivers taken later.

Round: 9
(65) Hometown Mamas - Philip Rivers QB
(66) J - E - T - S JETS JETS JETS - Ben Tate RB
** (67) Salt Lake City Big Tymers - Tony Romo QB
(68) This is your team name - Lions D/ST D/ST
(69) DelCo's Side-Arm Stud - Shonn Greene RB
(70) Trophy Me Maybe - Pierre Garcon WR
(71) 5abotage The League - Eric Decker WR
(72) Hoosier Daddy - Miles Austin WR

Round: 10
(73) Hoosier Daddy - Robert Meachem WR
(74) 5abotage The League - Torrey Smith WR
(75) Trophy Me Maybe - DeSean Jackson WR
(76) DelCo's Side-Arm Stud - Jonathan Stewart RB
(77) This is your team name - Jason Hanson K
** (78) Salt Lake City Big Tymers - Peyton Hillis RB
(79) J - E - T - S JETS JETS JETS - Michael Bush RB
(80) Hometown Mamas - Malcom Floyd WR

This is the cutoff for playable receivers, in my opinion, with some sleepers in Garcon, Decker, and Smith (all guys I really like this year as third or fourth guys), as well as forgotten assets like Jackson and Austin.  The running backs are all committee-members, which is bad news for RB-starved teams like J-E-T-S, who took Tate and Bush as his third and fourth backs.  The last two acceptable quarterbacks go off the board in the ninth round, and it’s interesting to point out that Romo and Rivers went as backups in the ninth when both Mannings, who I think will play pretty similarly to Tony and Philip, went as starters in the sixth.  Real opportunities for value lost by Sabotage the League and Side-Arm Stud. 

Best pick: Any of Smith, Decker, or Garcon – These guys are all top targets on offenses on the rise, and could all return top-15 value at a top-30 price.

Worst pick: A DEFENSE AND A KICKER IN THE 9TH AND 10TH ROUND????  I know, I know, Lions fan.  But there’s just no statistical reason to do that with potential top players at high-scoring positions still on the board, and especially when you’re thin at both running back and receiver. 


Salt Lake City Big Tymers – Lance Moore, Donald Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey, DeAngelo Williams, Texans D/ST, Garrett Hartley

Brown was another guy I was salivating over, because he presents the same profile as Arian Foster before his breakout (late-round guy, small sample size of success).  That also looks like Felix Jones last year…  I couldn’t resist D-Willy in the 14th round after he dropped so far, because I have owned him when he was the top RB in the land.

Hometown Mamas – Aaron Hernandez, Isaac Redman, Anquan Boldin, Roy Helu, Eagles D/ST, Alex Henery

Aaron Hernandez was the single best pick in this draft, in my opinion.  More on him later, but getting him in the 11th round as the 7th TE off the board is a mega-steal.  Nobody else really stands out, except that homerism clearly motivated the defense and kicker picks.

Sabotage the League – Ryan Williams, Reggie Wayne, Devone Bess, Jared Cook, Bills D/ST, David Akers

If Hernandez was my favorite pick, Williams could have been that guy if he had been taken a bit later.  Wayne is a very undervalued guy after a brutal 2011 quarterback situation.  Being the last person to take a tight end is a good strategy this year, but ending up with Jared Cook in an 8-team league has to be a little disappointing.

Trophy Me Maybe – CJ Spiller, Santonio Holmes, LeGarrette Blount, Randy Moss, Ravens D/ST, Dan Bailey

Not really impressed with any of these guys, although the hate has definitely gone way too far on the Jets, and no player shows that more clearly than Holmes.  He was a top-20 receiver before last season and is now getting drafted in the 30-40 range.  Blount and Moss are all right as “wait and see” guys, but I feel like there are better options at those draft points.

DelCo’s Side-Arm Stud – Cedric Benson, Jason Witten, Ben Roethlisberger, Kendall Wright, Mason Crosby, Steelers D/ST

When was the last time you saw the Steelers defense taken in the last round of a draft?  Or Jason Witten go in the 12th round?  Some nice value here, although I’m really not confident that Benson will do anything useful in the pass-happy Packers’ offense, and Wright is a pretty questionable guy to have as your third receiver.

Hoosier Daddy – Kevin Smith, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Schaub, Michael Crabtree, Bears D/ST, Sebastian Janikowski

Nobody that really gets you fired up about their potential, but all guys that should be consistently productive while on the field.  In a league that’s as shallow as this I don’t really agree with it, but if injuries come, you’ll want guys that will actually score week-to-week. Smith is a good value in the 11th considering he will be starting for a top offense for at least the next two weeks.

J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets – Kenny Britt, Mark Ingram, Titus Young, Seahawks D/ST, Stephen Gostkowski, Jay Cutler

I really like the upside of Britt and Young so late, and while I don’t talk about defenses or kickers much, I think the ‘Hawks and Gostkowski are as good of bets to be top-five at their position at the end of the year as any pair.  And yes, this is a theme, but getting Cutler in the 16th round is a steal of all steals compared to taking either Manning or Ryan in the 6th.

Detroit Offense – Toby Gerhart, Denarius Moore, Owen Daniels, 49ers D/ST, Robert Griffin III, Nate Kaeding

I consider it to be the victory of all victories that it took until the 14th round for the San Fran defense to go off the board (albeit with the Lions going off in the 9th).  Gerhart is a must-handcuff to Peterson early in the year, and with only three running backs, it’s critical.  Adding a third quarterback and a second kicker is just overkill, but I’m through trying to convince people who will do such things that they should do otherwise.


My system this year for ranking teams involves giving each team points according to their rank among other teams at each position of importance (read: no kickers or defenses).  That is, 8 points for first place, 7 for second, and so on.  With that in mind, let's go to work.

Salt Lake City Big Tymers (That would be me)

QB1: Michael Vick
WR1: Hakeem Nicks
QB2: Tony Romo
WR2: AJ Green

WR3: Brandon Lloyd
RB1: Ray Rice
WR4: Lance Moore
RB2: DeMarco Murray
WR5: Darrius Heyward-Bey
RB3: Ryan Mathews

RB4: Peyton Hillis
TE: Antonio Gates
RB5: Donald Brown

RB6: DeAngelo Williams

QB -- 3: I was definitely looking to revive the old magic of my team from two years ago, in which I drafted Romo, who broke his clavicle, and then plugged in Vick, who led me to a championship.  This year, both guys came at a nice discount from last year (deservedly so), so I decided to roll the dice once again.
RB -- 5: A stud at the top in Rice is always a good place to start, especially with the risk/reward picks of Murray and Mathews coming after.  Hillis and Brown will be bigger contributors than their draft positions indicate, and, though I really don’t care for Williams, I couldn’t let him go undrafted. 
WR3: Not a very good crop here, mostly because a lot of the depth at receiver was drafted when I took Romo and Vick.  Lloyd has good upside, but could be a dud, and Moore and Heyward-Bey have limited upside in my opinion.  This unit’s success relies on the health of Nicks and continued growth of Green with extra defensive attention.
TE -- 6: I love Gates this year, as Vincent Jackson’s targets will now filter down to him and all reports indicate that his health is as good as it’s been in years.  Very worth the mid-round pick compared to the top two guys.

Hometown Mamas

QB1: Cam Newton
WR1: Roddy White
QB2: Philip Rivers
WR2: Jordy Nelson

WR3: Marques Colston
RB1: Arian Foster
WR4: Steve Johnson
RB2: Trent Richardson
WR5: Malcom Floyd
RB3: Reggie Bush
WR6: Anquan Boldin
RB4: Isaac Redman

RB5: Roy Helu
TE: Aaron Hernandez

QB -- 4: Newton at 17 is potentially a bust with the whole sophomore slump / rushing touchdown regression thing, but having Rivers, a viable bounce-back candidate, is a nice insurance policy.
RB -- 4: Foster is a monster, and there’s no argument here for him at 1, but the rest of her backs have question marks galore.  Can Bush or Richardson stay healthy?  Will Redman or Helu get enough action to be useful?  I don’t have much confidence in either.
WR -- 8: As solid a receiving corps top-to-bottom as you could get, with solid production from White and Colston and potentially explosive production from Nelson, as well as on-the-down-low output from Johnson and Floyd on bye weeks.  Boldin is a nice insurance policy for bench depth, but I might have taken another running back there.
TE -- 5: All reports I’ve heard indicate that Hernandez is going to be a big target in the Patriots’ offense this year, and getting him as late as she did is a major victory.

Sabotage The League

QB: Peyton Manning
WR1: Julio Jones

WR2: Antonio Brown
RB1: Chris Johnson
WR3: Jeremy Maclin
RB2: Matt Forte
WR4: Eric Decker
RB3: Jamaal Charles
WR5: Torrey Smith
RB4: Doug Martin
WR6: Reggie Wayne
RB5: Ryan Williams
WR7: Devone Bess

TE: Jared Cook

QB -- 1: Yes, Peyton Manning looks solid here, but in an 8-team league where Rivers, Romo, and Ryan are backups, this is definitely the weakest quarterbacked team.  I’ve seen some really inconsistent play from him this preseason, so we’ll see.
RB -- 8: A late first round pick stings, but Phil really picked up a lot of good, solid players with little bust potential, as well as two of the top breakout candidates in Martin and Williams (who I’d much rather have than Beanie Wells).  Most people would disagree with me here, but for my money the best top-to-bottom set of running backs in the league.
WR -- 5: I’m really disappointed in myself for putting this unit so low, because it’s chock full of potential breakouts – but they are only potential breakouts.  Jones is a stud, but he’s injury prone.  Brown has a small sample size.  Maclin has an injury prone quarterback.  Decker has a new old quarterback.  Smith has a conservative offense and inconsistent quarterback.  Wayne is getting old.  I love these guys on paper, but I need to see it.
TE -- 1: Again, this position is made weaker by the fact that a few teams took two tight ends, so Phil had to settle.  Cook has nice upside, but had the same hype last season, and was largely useless.

Trophy Me Maybe

QB: Tom Brady
WR1: Steve Smith

WR2: Demaryius Thomas
RB1: Darren McFadden
WR3: Pierre Garcon
RB2: Fred Jackson
WR4: DeSean Jackson
RB3: Willis McGahee
WR5: Santonio Holmes
RB4: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
WR6: Randy Moss
RB5: CJ Spiller

RB6: LeGarrette Blount
TE: Rob Gronkowski

QB -- 7: The recent talk about the turmoil on the Pats’ offensive line concerns me, but if they can get past that, Brady is going to have a monster season.  Check under your bed.
RB -- 6: I am on the record as saying that McFadden will be the fantasy MVP this season, but he is still a major risk to have as your top running back.  The Jackson/Spiller combo is nice, and McGahee and Green-Ellis were undervalued in drafts, in my opinion, so there’s some nice depth here.  Blount just punched a guy for not hearing his name.
WR -- 2: This is the weakest pair of starting receivers in the league, in my opinion, with Smith being boom-or-bust last year and getting older and Thomas being very unproven.  However, Garcon, Jackson, and Holmes are nice backups with solid upside, and Moss is the ultimate lottery ticket at receiver, and the best part is that you’ll know after just one game whether he’s worth keeping.
TE -- 7: I’m also on record as saying that Gronk won’t be nearly as good as last season (see Hernandez, Aaron), but he’s still a beast.  Just look at those dance moves.

DelCo’s Side-Arm Stud

QB1: Eli Manning
WR1: Andre Johnson
QB2: Ben Roethlisberger
WR2: Mike Wallace

WR3: Kendall Wright
RB1: LeSean McCoy

RB2: Marshawn Lynch
TE1: Vernon Davis
RB3: Ahmad Bradshaw
TE2: Jason Witten
RB4: Stevan Ridley

RB5: Shonn Greene

RB6: Jonathan Stewart

RB7: Cedric Benson

QB -- 2: He loaded up on running backs in an epic fashion, so having two back-end quarterbacks was pretty much expected.  At least he’s got two so he can play the matchups.
RB -- 7: Like I said, Kyle loaded up on running backs, and with the uncertain climate at the position, depth makes me a lot more confident in your team.  McCoy is great, but after that I have serious injury / workload / career year questions about everyone else, so I couldn’t have this group higher.  Plus, Cedric Benson’s on the team.  No shot at the top.
WR -- 1: He did this last year, too (only rostering three receivers), and his team was the worst in the league during the regular season.  Johnson and Wallace are two of my bigger bust candidates this year because of injury and holdout malaise concerns, but they also have big-time talent and upside, so who knows?  Kendall Wright better hope that Kenny Britt can’t get on the field, that’s all I’m saying.
TE -- 4: One of those teams that took a couple of middle-of-the-pack tight ends, this is a pretty good combo to have.  Upside is plentiful with Davis (anyone remember that he was the best tight end in fantasy a couple years ago?), and Witten is as consistent as anyone with a spleen.

Hoosier Daddy

QB1: Drew Brees
WR1: Greg Jennings
QB2: Matt Schaub
WR2: Wes Welker

WR3: Victor Cruz
RB1: Maurice Jones-Drew
WR4: Miles Austin
RB2: Darren Sproles
WR5: Robert Meachem
RB3: Beanie Wells
WR6: Michael Crabtree
RB4: Kevin Smith

TE1: Jermichael Finley

TE2: Tony Gonzalez

QB -- 5: Brees is likely to regress just a bit after, you know, massacring the single season passing record, but he’s still a beast.  Schaub is a serviceable backup, but pretty unnecessary in my opinion considering Brees’ track record of health recently.
RB -- 3: Not deep at all, but MJD and Sproles will be just fine as a starting pair.  Smith and Wells can pick up the slack early for MJD as he eases into action, but when both of those guys get hurt this team will be in trouble.  And they will get hurt.
WR -- 6: Running back and wide receiver strength are generally mutually exclusive, and this team is no different.  Excellent depth here, as well as high-floor studs in Jennings and Welker.  Crabtree is “meh,” given the Niners’ conservative offense and the addition of Manningham and Moss.
TE -- 3: Just like the above team, two middle-of-the-pack tight ends, but I think both of these guys are worse than Witten or Davis.  Really unlikely that he’ll be the worst at tight end, though.

J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets

QB1: Aaron Rodgers
WR1: Larry Fitzgerald
QB2: Jay Cutler
WR2: Dez Bryant

WR3: Percy Harvin
RB1: Steven Jackson
WR4: Vincent Jackson
RB2: Michael Turner
WR5: Kenny Britt
RB3: Ben Tate
WR6: Titus Young
RB4: Michael Bush

RB5: Mark Ingram
TE: Jimmy Graham

QB -- 8: Taking Rodgers at the second pick can’t really be argued considering his track record, and Cutler as an insurance policy is nice.  Nothing to see here, move on.
RB -- 2: Matt consistently ended up on the back end of running back runs (sorry, that was unintentional), but Jackson and Turner are serviceable starters.  The bench has upside if injuries occur, but without that they have limited use in an 8-team league.
WR -- 4: I probably should have this group higher, but I have concerns about everyone below Fitzgerald, despite the excellent upside.  Britt is an excellent lottery ticket, and Young is a popular pick to emerge as a productive receiver in the pass-obsessed Lions offense.  Oh, and Dez Bryant has a babysitter.  Gotta get that in there.
TE -- 8: If you take the top-projected tight end, in my opinion, you get the top rank.  ‘Nuff said.

Detroit Football

QB1: Matthew Stafford
WR1: Calvin Johnson
QB2: Matt Ryan
WR2: Brandon Marshall
QB3: Robert Griffin III
WR3: Dwayne Bowe

WR4: Denarius Moore
RB1: Adrian Peterson

RB2: Frank Gore
TE1: Brandon Pettigrew
RB3: Toby Gerhart
TE2: Owen Daniels

QB -- 6: Huge production from Stafford plus excellent upside and trade bait on the bench allows this group to leapfrog a roster with Drew Brees.
RB -- 1: The shallowest position group of any team in the league, right here.  Gerhart and Peterson are essentially one Vikings Running Back, so there really are no backs on the bench to cover for bye weeks or further injury.  But it is Adrian Peterson.
WR -- 7: To get only four receivers and have me rank that group as second-best in the league means you really landed some solid production, and I think that Megatron and Marshall are as money-in-the-bank as any receivers in the league this year.  Bowe is a solid third option, and Moore has some nice upside, but with only 3 receivers maximum required to start, this is a pretty good group.
TE -- 2: Pettigrew is going to be very consistent this season, but really doesn’t have much upside because of the routes he runs in the Lions’ offense.  Daniels is a pure backup in my opinion, and only worth anything in Week 5 when his entire team is on bye.

It should also be noted that Detroit Football rostered two kickers and two defenses (including the Lions D and kicker), which, while totally discouraged by yours truly, is going to make those positions pretty productive overall for him, especially for his epic Week 5 (aka Lions) bye week.

The Verdict

To aggregate these scores, I used a weighted average of the scores at each position, with the weights directly related to how many players you start at that position each week (counting the RB/WR position as 1/2 of a slot for each position).  That makes the quarterbacks and tight ends less important than the backs and receivers.  So who’s number 1?

8. DelCo’s Side-Arm Stud – Solid at RB but weak elsewhere.
7. Detroit Football – A lot of QB/TE/D/K/Lions, but really thin at RB/WR
6. Salt Lake City Big Tymers – Jack of all trades, master of none
5. Hoosier Daddy – Again, nothing great, nothing terrible. 
4. J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets – Top QB/TE but question marks at RB/WR
3. Trophy Me Maybe – Very good at three positions, should be fine at WR
2. Sabotage the League – Excellent RB/WR depth should counteract weak QB/TE
1. Hometown Mamas – No weak points and great WR depth.  The champ strikes back.

Thought I’d just mention that I do not view my team through rose-colored glasses, and am in fact quite concerned about my roster.  So there.