Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Hangover: Midseason Retort

Curse you Reggie Wayne!
The kids grow up so fast these days. Seems like just last weekend I was drafting a little bundle of new fantasy awesomeness. But turn around and all they sudden the leaves are brown and little baby FreeJax is bringing home the fantasy bounty of the season.
FreeJax, I just made that up. Just now. I wonder if anyone actually had the temerity to own and start both Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson last weekend in what was probably one of the finest QB/WR performance since Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson lit up Houston last week.
Has Freeman found his groove? Has VJax finally found a place to cradle and nurture his enormous ego? Can Mike Williams still be a viable WR if Jackson gobbles up targets like a toddler in a cotton-candy factory? Can I ask more unanswerable questions?

I learned last week that Bill Simmons and NFL players agree that they hate Thursday night games because the shortened week is so detrimental to player safety. And greedy NFL owners who don't care about safety are pandering to their pocketbooks by forcing this gladiator-like product on the football-watching world.
It's hard to disagree that players have gotten injured on Thursday night. What I can't tell -- so hamstrung by my limited patience for research -- is if Thursday creates more injuries than any other day. People who spend their lives running face first at 350 lb muscle factories are bound to see more time on a stretcher than your average customer service rep. What I do know is that for me the Thursday night game has been a transformative addition to my TV viewing habit. Limiting my football-less nights to Tuesday and Wednesday, sort of an anti-weekend. With this new gift my weekend ends on Monday night then starts again on Thursday - a very manageable two-day hiatus I can use to reconnect with my family, or compose nasty emails to the other owners in my league. So tidy is this arrangement that I have a hard time understanding why Sports Guy dislikes it so much. He's taking the high-road and all, which is nice, but I suspect he's got a standing poker game or he has a Thursday date night written into his marriage contract or his kid's got soccer practice and he's forced to miss the action. Or maybe his cable provider doesn't offer the NFL Network. Something. I mean, I love the players, but it's their job to worry about not getting cracked in half and it's my job to watch to see what they've come up with. That's how it works.

The mid season retort brought to you by the World Series:

The Home Runs - The Tom Brady Award
Aaron Rodgers - The mid season award for the best QB would have gone to RGIII two weeks ago. But in a mere two weeks Aaron Rodgers has not just won two big games, but he's done so in astounding fantasy form. Admit it, we love to watch a good game and we want our favorite team to win, but we also want to see lots of scoring and (unlike Matt Stafford and Philip Rivers) Rodgers has been delivering in spades.

Honorable Mentions - Drew Brees, RGIII, Tom Brady. The only surprise on this list is RG, and frankly this national swoon seems vaguely reminiscent of last year's swoon. Exciting new QB with great strength and rushing ability is going to transform the position. And he does (RGIII). Until he stops (Cam Newton). And we are left yammering about Brees and Brady and Rodgers again. I feel bad for my buddies who love the Redskins. They've jumped back on the bandwagon so fully, and have given their hearts and minds so completely to their new QB it's going to be a little sad when nature runs its course and they have a down year next season. Stay firm guys, year three is bound to be better.

The Double Plays - Did I say you should draft Chris Johnson Award?
Arian Foster - This is not a second place award. This is an award for making me eat my words about Foster not being the best available RB and best overall no. 1 pick. Shame on me, shame, shame. Foster doesn't get the ink, but let's face it, he is super reliable, always good for a TD or two and pretty durn close to averaging 100 yds a game. He hasn't had one of the wacky Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles weeks, but on fantasy scoreboards he's the clear winner.

Honorable Mentions - Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Frank Gore. Two surprises on this list, Gore and AP. Where's Run DMC? Where's LeSean McCoy? Where's Demarco Murray? Frank Gore is almost as old as Steven Jackson but he's carrying the load for a pretty successful 49ers team. And AP? Well, what can be said about AP that hasn't already been said about Mego Elastic Super Hero? He's unbreakable. I gave him zero chance for this type of return. But I also traded for him after week 3, so at least I'm able to see things that are right in front of my face.

The Broken Bats - The Calvin Johnson Award
Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Dez Bryant - A three-way tie! Here we have three of the top 10 receivers on the board, with Calvin being the no. 1 WR taken anywhere receivers are sold. And currently he's hanging on to a top ten ranking by the skin of his teeth. Sure he's still great, but between the dropsies and Matt Stafford and having little in the way of a running game, he's not Calvin Johnson-great. And Andre, it seems, may simply have lost a step, plus they really like to run the ball. And Dez, well, no one can be too surprised to see this coming. He's got the hands of a late-career Terrell Owens and the killer instinct of Rex Grossman.

The non losers - Victor Cruz, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Marshall. Thanks to Hakeem Nicks being injured 100% of the time, Cruz is just salsa-dancing his way into our hearts. If that Giants team weren't so well-rounded and never playing from very far behind, he might be the most valuable non-QB in fantasy. But since the Giants are all of those things, and Eli needs about 5 seconds to close the book on opponents in the 4thQ, he's only the best WR.  Marshall's comeback this year just goes to show you if you put the right talent in the gentle, loving hands of Chicago sports fandom good things can happen. Unless you are Jay Cutler who is always one defeat away from getting slapped with a rotten sausage on Lake Shore Drive. And Reggie Wayne - drafted out of a retirement home Wayne is probably the biggest value pick of the season. Curse you Reggie Wayne.


Anonymous said...

I played against the Freeman/VJax combo... ouch

J said...

After spending midday Thursday through late afternoon Saturday at a state conference of the professional association I belong to, it was good to get back to football. I'm the state treasurer for this association. Apparently, on Friday, I was having preminitions about the football weekend, because I was working feverishly hard, telling colleagues, "the sooner my treasurer duties are finished, the sooner I can get to the hotel bar. So hurry up!"

The stiff drinks prepared me well. I was mercifully on the road getting back to Charlotte and missed Auburn's 100th loss in a row. (If rants of a raving lunatic entertain you, go on Twitter and search for the hashtag #WorstAuburnTeamEver and laugh at me like everyone else is doing.) I pulled back a little on my Panthers strike, as I set up shop on the NFL Game Mix on Sunday Ticket, and looked over at the corner of the screen every now and then to see how bad the Panthers were botching it. This was only slightly less excruciating than what was happening to my fantasy team. So here are my World Series awards:

The Ted Turner Award - Ron Rivera. Remember way back in the day when the Braves were the dregs of the NL, so bad that owner Ted Turner named himself manager for 1 game? Turner was about as qualified as Rivera, it appears. I feel sorry for any poor schmuck who plays ESPN fantasy football and drafted Rivera as their coach. Drop him quickly.

The Alex Rodriguez Award - Matt Forte. I heard someone say recently that A-Rod used to be Hall of Fame talent. You remember that? Neither do I. The same rumor was swirling about Forte around draft time. For some stupid reason, I bought it.

The Mariano Rivera Award - Victor Cruz. The 5 other readers of this blog, plus the author, are likely tired of hearing me come up with new, cuter ways to describe my rotten fantasy team. But, like last week, I was within reasonable distance of my opponent. But then the Redskins defense decided not to cover Cruz, and the long TD netted my opponent 23 points and blew the match wide open.

The Houston Astros Award - Ravens D. Yes, I knew they were injured. Yes, I knew Houston has a great offense. But with Rivers on bye, I was also starting Schaub, which convinced me that Schaub would repeat Rivers' generosity to the opposing defense from last week - maybe 4 turnovers including a pick-6 - so I could get out of the Ravens-Texans match with 25 points or so. So the Ravens oblige my opponent by giving up 1,278 yards and 21 TDs, and get only 2 sacks.

The Pete Rose Award - Darren Sproles. Back before he got in bed with mob bosses, Rose was a pretty good player. Got more base hits than anyone else ever - 4,256 of them, to be exact. Funny thing is, about 4,250 of them were singles. Sproles has become the singles hitter of the Saints offense - about 8-12 touches a game, nothing for more than 5 yards, and not even a hint of a score.

Maybe I should find some mob bosses of my own to infiltrate my league. Or maybe I just need to go back to that hotel bar in Cary and get a few more Jack & Cokes to dull the emotions until next year...