Saturday, September 27, 2014

California Glove: 6 sporting events in 3 cities in 7 days

I'm going to lead off this post with the following: 
1) Full disclosure: this was my mom's idea
2) Since the readership of this blog is limited, many of you will have heard much of this already.

Deal with it.

Every year, a group of guys from work go to a different NFL city to go to a game and do some outdoors / touristy things in the surrounding area for a long weekend.  In previous years, that led them to places like Dallas, New Orleans, Chicago, and Denver.  This year, the choice was San Francisco, notable because of the weather, the quality NFL team, and the other activities that would present themselves in that area -- in particular, other sporting events.  The Bay Area sports two baseball teams, two NFL teams, and a handful of college football teams, all of whom play at around the same time in the year.  As it turned out, the weekend of September 12th featured a Giants series, a Stanford football game, and the home opener for the new 49ers stadium.  Costly, but awesome.

As it turns out, I have a friend who lives in LA who I had not seen in a while, and it seemed like a trip to California would be a good opportunity to make a pit stop a short flight away to visit her.  However, since the trip to San Fran was from Thursday to Monday, I would have to force her to take multiple days off work mid-week to roll out the red carpet for my awesomeness.  That didn't seem very nice, so I thought about what I could do to burn a couple days in the middle of the week so I could get to LA by Friday and put less strain on her schedule.

At that point, it became obvious that this was a superb opportunity to not only do some touristy things in the area, but also take a big bite out of the list of MLB stadiums I need to visit.  I had already gone to 8 (PHI, PIT, BOS, WAS, BAL, ATL, CHC, MIA), and had recently decided that I had a life goal to see all 30 teams at home (I wouldn't bother with re-visiting if they built a new stadium, unless it was super-special-awesome).  As there are a total of 4 teams in California (after the Giants) and four days between Monday and Thursday, this was a prime opportunity.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, the schedule wasn't totally kind, but I was able to find games Tuesday in Oakland, Wednesday in San Diego, and Thursday in Anaheim (as it turned out, the following Monday would have been a Dodgers game, but we live and learn).  That ended up with a total of 6 professional / big-time-collegiate games live in the span of 7 days.  In the spirit of the trip,  my parents gave me the book "I Don't Care If We Never Get Back" about two recent graduates who went to games at all 30 baseball stadiums in 30 days.  I read the first couple chapters before leaving for the trip, but I promised myself that I'd find a way to finish it before I returned, in some kind of poetic fashion.  Anyway, here is the story of my substantially-less-stressful edition of that trip concept.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Frameshmania 2014 Draft Review!

Hey, look up there!  It's a bird!  It's a plane!  No, it's Josh Gordon getting high.

Too soon?

Anyway, for the nth year in a row, I have to do a review of the draft results for my family fantasy football league, Frameshmania.  This year is the first year we've had the whole cast of characters repeat, and that should give us some opportunities to forge rivalries and develop meaningful matchup statistics for me to feed you at the end of the season.  

OK, for the format: you'll see everyone's team, I'll rate each team's positions (NOT ranked, just a number to compare teams -- there could be repeats, and no one is rated below a 4 on anything).  Then I'll take an overall rank based on a composite of those ratings.

Let's go to work. (Apologies in advance for weird formatting, copying from Excel is a bummer).

QBColin Kaepernick
RBEddie Lacy
RBMontee Ball
RB/WRRoddy White
WRDemaryius Thomas
WRRandall Cobb
TERob Gronkowski
D/STBengals D/ST
KSteven Hauschka
BenchVictor Cruz
BenchRobert Griffin III
BenchTrent Richardson
BenchLamar Miller
BenchFred Jackson
BenchCarlos Hyde
BenchJordan Reed
Those who were in the room at the time know that all I could say after about the 8th round was “I hate my team”.  I took Kaep and RGIII in the middle rounds when guys like Brady and Wilson fell until much later, I don’t have any good players behind Lacy and Ball, and even my stud-receiver collection doesn’t stand up that well against other groups when you really look at it.  The team relies on a lot of guys who have injury or consistency concerns, and that just doesn’t inspire much confidence.

QB Matt Ryan
RB Zac Stacy
RB Giovani Bernard
RB/WR C.J. Spiller
WR Calvin Johnson
WR Pierre Garcon
TE Jimmy Graham
D/ST 49ers D/ST
K Mason Crosby
Bench Percy Harvin
Bench Shane Vereen
Bench Marques Colston
Bench Pierre Thomas
Bench Danny Woodhead
Bench Riley Cooper
Bench LeGarrette Blount
QB 3
RB 5
WR 9
TE 10
With the 7th pick, as most of the league zigged with RBs, Laurie was forced to zag with Megatron and Graham as her top picks, which obviously loaded up those positions, but her need to fill up on running backs caused her to wait a little too long at QB.  She ended up as one of only two teams with a single quarterback, and Matt Ryan just doesn’t have the stability or upside to be left on an island like that in an 8-team league.  She has some depth at RB, but I don’t feel confident enough in the Stacy/Bernard/Spiller trio to rank the group highly.

QB Peyton Manning
RB Matt Forte
RB Andre Ellington
RB/WR Rashad Jennings
WR Andre Johnson
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
TE Julius Thomas
D/ST Broncos D/ST
K Adam Vinatieri
Bench T.Y. Hilton
Bench Eric Decker
Bench Knowshon Moreno
Bench Cecil Shorts
Bench Devonta Freeman
Bench Justin Hunter
Bench Jay Cutler
QB 9
RB 7
WR 6
TE 9
Phil noted during the draft that his mostly-nonexistent plan was uprooted when Peyton fell to him in the middle of the second round, and his slight reach for Julius Thomas soon after prevented him from having top-level RB / WR starters.  I like the Ellington / Jennings picks behind Forte, though, considering draft position, so the roster as a whole doesn’t look as bare as one might think from a team that took QB and TE early.  Teams that take those positions early are likely to look worse than they perform, though, so I have this squad pretty “up there” and poised for a repeat championship.

QB Cam Newton
RB Arian Foster
RB Doug Martin
RB/WR Alfred Morris
WR Jordy Nelson
WR DeSean Jackson
TE Kyle Rudolph
D/ST Panthers D/ST
K Justin Tucker
Bench Jeremy Maclin
Bench Chris Johnson
Bench Michael Floyd
Bench Bishop Sankey
Bench Shonn Greene
Bench Sammy Watkins
Bench Khiry Robinson
QB 4
RB 8
WR 5
TE 5
Jon-Michael didn’t draft his own team and finished in last place last year, and he was rewarded with the last pick this year.  He loaded up on running backs early to compensate for his missing the top guys, netting three top-15 guys at the position.  Leaving Cam as his only quarterback is a risk considering the injury and receiving corps concerns, so we’ll see how that goes, but there’s a big chance Jon-Michael looks really smart or really dumb as a result.  I thought he was a steal this year until he had the rib injury, and now I’m not so sure.  I think there’s some upside at receiver but not much in terms of proven performers , so I could be wrong on my rank there.

QB Aaron Rodgers
RB Marshawn Lynch
RB Le'Veon Bell
RB/WR Emmanuel Sanders
WR Antonio Brown
WR Vincent Jackson
TE Dennis Pitta
D/ST Seahawks D/ST
K Dan Bailey
Bench Nick Foles
Bench Ryan Mathews
Bench Ray Rice
Bench Wes Welker
Bench Kendall Wright
Bench Brandin Cooks
Bench Terrance West
QB 10
RB 8
WR 6
TE 5
Kyle didn’t follow his usual grab-dem-RBs strategy, instead grabbing A-Rod as the first QB off the board, and also taking two solid receivers.  However, having Mathews and Rice on the bench is pretty solid in this climate, so there isn’t too dramatic a drop-off when the byes hit.  I initially wasn’t a huge fan of the receivers, but having the Sanders/Welker combo with the upside of Cooks is pretty solid, so I moved him up to a tie with Jesse.

QB Matthew Stafford
RB Jamaal Charles
RB DeMarco Murray
RB/WR Reggie Bush
WR Brandon Marshall
WR Larry Fitzgerald
TE Jason Witten
D/ST Cardinals D/ST
K Phil Dawson
Bench Russell Wilson
Bench Toby Gerhart
Bench Reggie Wayne
Bench Julian Edelman
Bench Darren Sproles
Bench Terrance Williams
Bench Anquan Boldin
QB 7
RB 10
WR 6
TE 6
Jesse got maybe the steal of the draft in Russell Wilson in the last few rounds, which is great insurance for the potentially-erratic Stafford.  I’m obviously a fan of the RB group headed by Charles and Murray but with Bush and Gerhart as solid depth.  This roster is chock full of aging possession receivers (I count 4, plus one moderately-aged one in Edelman), so I just don’t see much upside in that group.  I think this roster is pretty bust-proof, but might lack the “oomph” to get over that 7-6 hump that Jesse hasn’t summited.

QB Drew Brees
RB Adrian Peterson
RB Ben Tate
RB/WR Frank Gore
WR Julio Jones
WR Alshon Jeffery
TE Greg Olsen
D/ST Rams D/ST
K Stephen Gostkowski
Bench Keenan Allen
Bench Torrey Smith
Bench Steven Jackson
Bench Mike Wallace
Bench Golden Tate
Bench Jeremy Hill
Bench Philip Rivers
QB 9
RB 6
WR 10
TE 5

Matt had his SIXTH CONSECUTIVE top-2 pick in this league, and made it count.  He benefited from Alshon Jeffery falling a bit, and that gave him a ridiculous set of five receivers where the worst is the #1 receiver in what should be a vastly improved offense.  The running backs behind Peterson have some serious question marks, but, oh wait, is that Drew Brees?  Crap.  I hate liking this team.

QB Andrew Luck
RB LeSean McCoy
RB Maurice Jones-Drew
RB/WR Michael Crabtree
WR Dez Bryant
WR A.J. Green
TE Jordan Cameron
D/ST Chiefs D/ST
K Nick Novak
Bench Vernon Davis
Bench Joique Bell
Bench Stevan Ridley
Bench Tom Brady
Bench DeAngelo Williams
Bench DeAndre Hopkins
Bench Tony Romo
QB 7
RB 5
WR 8
TE 7
Emily went a little out of her way to grab her team’s namesake in Andrew Luck, but picking up Brady AND Romo late was a great (if overzealous) performance.  Her top 3 receivers are awesome but a lack of depth could be a problem, and speaking of a lack of depth, that RB group behind McCoy is very suspect.  She also grabbed two top-7 tight ends, which should serve her pretty well considering both players’ inconsistency last year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Football! Again!

I’ve done a few different formats for preseason predictions in the past, and this time around, I’m going to kill some amount of birds with some smaller amount of stones and put real football and fantasy football predictions into one place.  I’ll start with fantasy stuff, including how I did with last year’s picks.  This is going to be long-winded, so let’s just get to it. 

Last year I only listed guys that I liked for the season, so let’s see how that went.

Peyton Manning – Well, that turned out awesome.
Matthew Stafford – I feel like I have kind of a “thing” for him, and he did me pretty well until the last few weeks, at which point he tanked my fantasy team in the championship.
Tony Romo – I definitely have a “thing” for Romo.  He just never finishes outside the top 10 if he’s healthy, and he proved that last year.
Eli Manning – Well, that turned out awesome, for my Eagles fandom, at least.  Poetic with Peyton’s season though. 


David Wilson – I wasn’t actually high on him, it was more of a circumstantial thing based on the way my mock drafts were going, and he ended up having a career-ending injury.  I didn’t actually end up owning him so I don’t feel too bad about this one.
Reggie Bush – I didn’t end up owning Bush either, and although Joique Bell took a lot of looks away from him, he had a pretty good per-game output.
Lesean McCoy – I love this man.
Jamaal Charles – I really like this man.
Matt Forte – That whole Bears team had a strong season, with Forte establishing himself as one of the high-floor options at the top of the draft..
Chris Ivory – I noted at the end of my blurb about him that “injury / Jets-ness could ruin it”, and that pretty much sums it up.  Had some moments, but never really got going, and now Chris Johnson is overshadowing him.
Fred Jackson – This was a huge win, with Spiller not being hurt but just not being as explosive as last season, and Jackson continued to defy age.
Lamar Miller – Womp.  That Dolphins offense was brutal for most of the year thanks to an offensive offensive line, and with some added talent there and a new Eagles-South system, I am pretty high on them this year.
Stevan Ridley – He was brutal, no two ways about it.
Maurice Jones-Drew – The offense as a whole was terrible, but I can’t dodge this one.
Ryan Mathews – He was somewhat undervalued last year and delivered a top-15 season.  He might have the same outcome this year.
Daryl Richardson – Now at the back end of the Jets’ roster.  You tell me.


Steve Smith – This was another one of those players where the draft situation dictated my interest, so I don’t feel terribly, but he was pretty useless.  Except in the fatherhood department, apparently.
Miles Austin – Yeah, not so much.  Spoiler alert: I’m falling into the same guy-opposite-Dez trap this season.
Torrey Smith – He barely scored any touchdowns, but had a whole lot of targets and yards in a Ravens offense that massively disappointed.  You’ll hear from him again soon.
TY Hilton – He had a breakout season, although it’s hard to say how that will translate to this coming season because there was so much ineptitude in the running game and so many injuries in the passing game.
Greg Jennings – Last year: “He can’t be THAT useless, right?”  Yep, he sure can.
Mike Wallace – This was another only-if-the-situation-arises guy, and all of those guys bombed.  However, as I said before, I think a bounce-back is coming.
Reggie Wayne – I was on my way to being WAY right about him before he tore his ACL. 
Danny Amendola – I guess I underestimated the value of Brady’s trust, and overestimated the value of a guy who is hurt for half the year.
Antonio Brown – If only I actually ended up drafting him.  Just watch him play and you know he’s a stud.
Larry Fitzgerald – Well, the Cardinals’ offense had a nice rebound, but Fitz ceded a lot of the action to Michael Floyd.
Andre Johnson – Considering how much the team as a whole flamed out, this worked out pretty well.
Jordy Nelson– Liked him last year, love him this year.
Dwayne Bowe – I have a problem.  And I said the same thing last year!  And I’ve already drafted him this year!
Pierre Garcon – Leading the league in receptions?  Sounds solid to me.
Kenny Stills – Didn’t have consistent week-to-week production, but was certainly useful for a guy drafted as late as he was.


Jermichael Finley – Man, two guys with what currently looks like career-ending injuries?  Bummer.
Kyle Rudolph – The passing game for the Vikings wasn’t great in general, but Rudolph didn’t have the TD production he had the year before.
Jordan Cameron – He faded a bit down the stretch, but this was obviously a win.
Brandon Pettigrew – Don’t even.
Ed Dickson – Tried to sneak this one by with Dennis Pitta’s injury, but he ended up ceding looks to an over-the-hill Dallas Clark.


OK, now we’ve taken a look back.  I feel like I did pretty well for the most part, with some of those guys that failed suffering brutal injuries that we weren’t in a position to anticipate.  Now let’s look to the future.  I’ll give my predictions for each team’s record, and one positive or negative fantasy player opinion for each team.  Let’s see how that goes.

NFC East
(10-6) Eagles (Low on Zach Ertz – too many mouths to feed, Celek’s not dead yet)
(8-8) Cowboys (High on Terrance Williams – see Austin, Miles)
(7-9) Giants (High on Rashad Jennings – had a nice late ’13 and Giants run a lot)
(7-9) Redskins (Low on Desean Jackson – not “the guy”, goes back to boom / bust)

NFC South
(11-5) Saints (High on Drew Brees – I know, but he’s a guaranteed 5000/40, take him 1st)
(8-8) Buccaneers (High on Doug Martin in the late 2nd; new coach, more receiving threats)
(8-8) Falcons (High on Roddy White – came on strong late last year, now has fresh start)
(6-10) Panthers (High on Cam Newton – terrible offseason, but he’s going way late)

NFC North
(11-5) Packers (High on Randall Cobb – pace for 100 catches last year, now healthy)
(9-7) Bears (High on Jay Cutler – Trestman clearly “gets” him, another year of comfort)
(7-9) Lions (Low on Matthew Stafford – just not sure he’s that good, Megatron-dependent)
(7-9) Vikings (High on Adrian Peterson – would take him 1st; offense around him improved)

NFC West
(13-3) Seahawks (High on Russell Wilson – Harvin expands offense, rushing raises floor)
(10-6) 49ers (High on Colin Kaepernick – Crabtree healthy, more weapons, worse defense)
(8-8) Cardinals (Low on Larry Fitzgerald – getting up there, Floyd emerging)
(5-11) Rams (Low on Zac Stacy – no passing threats, Benny Cunningham getting looks)

AFC East
(12-4) Patriots (Low on Julian Edelman – other weapons healthy / more experienced)
(8-8) Dolphins (High on Mike Wallace – more creative offensive scheme, bounce-back year)
(6-10) Jets (High on Eric Decker – Geno’s not awful, and Decker was useful with Tebow)
(4-12) Bills (Low on Sammy Watkins – Rookie receiver, questionable QB, bad team)

AFC South
(10-6) Colts (High on Reggie Wayne – looks good after surgery, Luck trusts him)
(7-9) Titans (High on Jake Locker – was solid when healthy last year, underrated receivers)
(7-9) Texans (High on Texans D – won’t be as much of a pick-6 frenzy, plus Clowney/Cushing)
(5-11) Jaguars (High on Marquise Lee – really late option, but talented with little competition)

AFC North
(10-6) Bengals (High on Andy Dalton – 5th in ‘13, drafted 15th in ‘14; too many weapons to fail)
(9-7) Ravens (High on Torrey Smith – see above; too much involvement for low TD total)
(6-10) Steelers (Low on Le’Veon Bell – Blount involved, not explosive enough if job is split)
(4-12) Browns (High on Miles Austin – so sue me)

AFC West
(11-5) Broncos (Low on Peyton Manning – Welker out, Ball unproven; not ‘till late 2nd)
(10-6) Chargers (Low on Keenan Allen – had a lot of lucky TD games, lots of WR injuries in ’13)
(8-8) Chiefs (High on Travis Kelce – Smith likes short passing, has to throw to someone)
(4-12) Raiders (Low on Maurice Jones-Drew – this team’s just awful)

NFC Playoffs
Eagles def. 49ers
Packers def. Bears

Saints def. Packers
Seahawks def. Eagles

Seahawks def. Saints

AFC Playoffs
Chargers def. Bengals
Colts def. Ravens

Patriots def. Colts
Chargers def. Broncos

Patriots def. Chargers

Super Bowl
Patriots def. Seahawks