The Season Begins

Welcome to the first installment of The 40ft Post!

For you highly selective, attractive and intelligent regular Wait . . . Dad? readers, (A demographic suspiciously made up of females 25-60) this will probably be your least favorite day of the week.

Sorry 'bout that.

For the other six of you, sometimes seven, this is going to be about beer, nachos, and a game where multi-millionaires parade around in lycra outfits and fight over an oblong toy that used to be made of pigskin.

We shall call this game football.

This will be a pretty long post, since we have an entire offseason to cover, and I've never written a sports blog before. The format we'll start with is Headline News from the previous week, What to Watch for the coming week, Injury and Bad Decision Reports (ACL to THC), NorCal Notes with the Raiders and 49ers, A Trip Through FantasyLand (Both of My Leagues), and CrazyStupid Predictions.

As per usual I invite heavy critisicm and trashtalk as long as it's civil and there are no babies being put in corners.

So without further ado:

{Cue Rascall Flatts inspired Theme Song}

The season kicks off (Yay!) Thursday Night @ 5:30pm PST with Green Bay taking on Seattle and the Twelfth Man. I will be halfway through my son's soccer practice so will most likely miss Percy Harvin's first kick-off return for a touchdown, but I will be back in time to see Jordy Nelson and Richard Sherman decide that they can, in fact, just get along, and the later halftime special where they share some of Lynch's Skittles, and hug it out.

Speaking of hugging it out, the two NFL rules regarding receiver contact after the first five yards, and the no pulling of the jersey is going to castrate a lot of defenses this year, but the NFL is dedicated to faster play and higher scores, which is the exact reason Americans don't watch soccer.

On TV.

Parents, like myself, still have to spend opening kick-off in the swealtering heat at a municipal park watching their children kick each other in the shins. Thank goodness the NFL has a play by play ap for the iPhone.

Anyway, speaking of higher scores and faster play . . . 

My father is fond of mentioning that the NFL is a copy-cat league. If it works one year, then everyone is gonna try to do that the next. Nothing is a better example of that than last year's Chip Kelly offense. Out of college and into the driver's seat of the Philidelphia Eagles, he took a last place team in 2012 and pushed it to a first place team with a 'No Huddle Meets Methamphetamine' approach in about the same time it takes me to remember to get the oil changed in my Toyota Echo. He also lost his premier quarterback in game seven and didn't even pause to pass go and collect $200, he just hands the keys to the back-up and watches the dude break all kinds of records.

Now, the Steelers, the Dolphins, the Niners, the Cowboys, the Saints, hell, even the Giants are talking all kinds of speeded up play.

The Patriots are quiet though.

Go figure.

What this means is - and why I think it's the thing to watch - is that we're going to find out if Kelly's approach is either revolutionary, or now that defenses have had an entire year to look at it in slow motion, just a gimmick.

The thing is, if it is revolutionary, it's also a running scheme. 

Every analyst everywhere right now can't get enough words down on paper proclaiming how the NFL has become a passing league, though none of them seem to want to point out the 2013 versions of Seahawks, Niners, Eagles, Chiefs, and a Rogers-free Packers Team.

There's a good chance that the ground and pound offense starts making a serious comeback this year, even if the statistics don't show it, and the analysts disregard my uneducated guesswork.

Didn't we all watch last year's Super Bowl?

That cold February afternoon where the disciplined, feet on the ground team, obliterated the most powerful aerial offense ever seen?

Yeah, that one.

The Super Bowl that allowed Eli back onto his father's iPhone contact list.

The Super Bowl that's going to be playing on-loop in every locker room in every stadium that Denver plays in for the next five years.

I'm not saying not to draft Peyton on your fantasy team (I totally would have grabbed him if my brother hadn't handed me McCoy), but I am saying that Kelly may have brought balance to the force even if he is a little short to be a storm-trooper.

And speaking of coming up short . . . 

I do hope this year the Player's Union renegotiates the NFL restrictions on marijuana use. It's kind of silly to rob the world of Josh Gordon and Justin Blackmon and next year's entire Steeler's RB core especially while Johnny Football is still allowed in Vegas. Performance Enhancing Steroid use is cheating, DUI's are down right stupid, and I'm not even gonna get started on Ray Rice, Michael Vick, or a college aged Ray Lewis, but a penchant for lava lamps and reggae music isn't going to undermine anyone's current feelings toward player professionalism.

In injury notes, well . . . so far . . . Sam Bradford is down for the year, along with David Wilson, and a bunch of Niners. Wes Welker is gonna need a bigger helmut (and some common sense when someone hands him a pill at the racetrack) and "Pick-Six" Shaub is gonna be busy on the sidelines rubbing ben-gay into his elbow while Derek Carr faces the Jets in Week One.

Everyone else, if you believe everything you read, is 110% and ready to play all sixteen games.

Every Tight End looks as good as Gronk. Except Gronk. Who will be watched carefully by every Patriots fan and Tom Brady fantasy drafter. Other high alert injury candidates include Percy Harvin, Arian Foster, Steven Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and just about every football player ever.

Except Frank Gore.

He's not made of people stuff.

and speaking of Gore . . . 

The Niners are gonna be so much awesome this year. Don't let Harbaugh lull the other 31 teams into a preseason sense of peace. Sure the defense might be a little down, but the offense is gonna open up like the eyes of a fourteen year old boy who realizes what he's looking at during a Geogia O'Keefe exhibit. Pupils dialated, manhood confirmed.

It shoulda been my boys last year handing Peyton his hat.

But . . . you know . . . them's the breaks.

I just thinks they'll play good this year. Good and angry. 

On the other side of the bay . . .

Can the Raiders really be that bad this year? I mean, of course they can, but they did this crazy thing and spent a lot of money for seasoned verterans instead of off the shelf lottery tickets. Matt Shaub, James Jones, Maurice Jones-Drew. It's crazy, because why would you spend money on guys struggling at the end of their careers to rebuild a franchise? But . . . what if?

What if outplaying Shaub was just the ticket to get Carr fired up to take on a pro-defense?

What if MoJo and Run DMC stay healthy and create a one-two punch that keeps defenses honest enough to give Carr space to get the ball to a sure handed Jones?

They don't even really have to win, they just have to get close, and play with some heart.

That's a lot of "What If's" but gimme an underdog any day of the week.

I'll don my Michael Bush Raider's Jersey proudly wherever I go.

Until they move to LA.

Then I'm gonna have to start rooting for the Browns.

I'm really liking this Hoyer guy.

and speaking of Hoyer . . . 

In 2013 I had Hoyer on my bench (Cause throwing to Josh Gordon was gonna score me some points) and started him over Michael Vick. Hoyer went down that game. Vick went down a game later, and my other backup QB, Sam Bradford, went down fifteen minutes after Vick. I picked up Foles just in time for him to have that disastrous game in which he scored me only 4 points and then dropped him like a brick only for him to follow up the next week with 60 points.

Welcome to my 2013 Fantasy Season.

(The next few paragraphs are more about me and my experience than actual football stuff, so feel free to skip it and scroll to the CrazyStupid Predictions)

In the three seasons I've played this fake little game, I've come in last, second to last, and dead last.

If experience is a leading indicator of performance, then it's very safe to say that I am not very good at it. But I try real hard (I really do own a Raider Jersey). And I read a lot. A lot a lot. And I remember most of the stuff I read so as long as I'm reading the right stuff, I should know what I'm doing.

In 2011, I didn't know, well, really anything. I just drafted off of magazine list and crossed my fingers. Hence, I got Adrian Peterson, but a QB core of Eli Manning and Josh Freeman. I did not fair thee well, however, I learned how to scour the waiver wire and how to play the match ups and my IDP has always been pretty top notch. Oh . . . and I got all kinds of addicted.

In 2012, I had all the angles. The preseason buzz that year was all about quarter-backs. If you didn't have Rodgers/Brees/Manning/Brady, you were sunk. I nabbed Rodgers first round and filled up slots evenly and precisely. I got an A+ that year for drafting (Top of the league), and my first three picks, Rodgers, Demarco Murray, Steven Jackson, were all dropping in the first round of some of the analyst drafts, so I felt good.

What happened then? Well, Murray goes down, Jackson goes down, Gates never found the end-zone, Harvin got hurt, and my entire team consisted of Rodgers throwing to Jordy Nelson. Then Nelson goes down. I did, however, beat my brother head to head when Gates stopped playing the invisible man. I still have the screen shot of that victory.

Then 2013, we decide to do a live draft - and armed with my iPad - I decide to go digital. A few minutes spent plugging our league's scoring system into Roto-Wire and I'm gifted with the greatest Top 200 list there ever was.

'Cept a curious thing happened. The 2013 buzz was all about The Breakout Candidates. 

2011 had been RB's

2012 had been QB's

2013 The Breakout/Comback Candidates.

Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, CJ Spiller, David Wilson, Lamar Miller, the guy in Denver who was going to easily beat out Knowshon Moreno for the starting job (I think his name was Ball . . . that's right . . . Monte Ball . . . whatever happened to that dude?). Steven Jackson was going rip it up for the Falcons and Kendall Hunter was the man to pick up if you had to own a Niner. Sam Bradford was going to have this career year now that he had this monster rookie named Tavon Austin to throw to.

I read this stuff all summer and knew I couldn't lose.

My Team was made up of nothing but breakout candidates and lottery tickets. My sleepers rocked, DeSean Jackson, Anquan Bolden, Charles Clay, some guy named Josh Gordon, but the rest of the picks flopped.

I had two games where my kicker was the highest scoring player.

It was miserable. I was two games into the season and I didn't have a single trade chip. (I did eventually trade Gordon for D. Murray, handing my brother the championship, and removing some egg from my own face, but that was my twlefth round pick for his second round pick and it was a good trade.)

So the thing I learned is that, well, I've got a lot to learn. Rankings and Projections were all fine and dandy, but maybe you have to consider things like . . . oh . . . I don't know . . . the actual offensive lines . . . and the possible fact that analysts get paid to blow shit out of proportion . . . oh, and my favorite . . . coaches can lie.

(Gonna run Spiller until he throws up, huh? Or, you know, until Fred Jackson finishes tying his shoes).

So now it's the 2014 Season.

And Let's see what the Hype is all about this year.


Have you been listening?

Cause everyone and their mothers are talking about Wide Receivers.

WR's are you're best bet.

You could go WR, WR, TE, and back fill your RB core so much later.

Also, don't bother taking a QB until before or after taking a kicker.

Cause there's like bijillions of them.

But because I've been burned by hype and bad luck three years in a row, I'm a little suspicious.

I had three Top fifteen WRs last year with my 5th, 8th, and 12th picks.

Now, I agree, that you can't argue with the healthy big guys connected to good QB's and bad defenses. I'd take Dez Bryant over Demarco Murray all day long. But would I take Marshall over Forte? Nope. Obviously Calvin over Reggie, but Wallace over Moreno? Perhaps.

And the industry analysts post their expert drafts as early as June, and no one seems to take a QB until like the 8th round, but truth be told, QB's start disappearing like Antonio Gates' 2012 red-zone opportunities in about the late 4th round early 5th.

I've mocked it at least fifty times. Once everyone has got two RB's and at least one WR, you start seeing Stafford, Ryan, Brady, Romo, Rivers, and Kaepernick drop like flies. By round 6 you start losing Cutler, Big Ben, Palmer, and Tannehil. Then there's that one guy who aways gets Dalton.

Some men just like roller coasters.

So I did my homework. Created drafting strategies. Added dimension. Where 2013 was all about ceiling, 2014 starts with proven record, good situation, high floor, reliable handcuff, and fun to watch.

Like, I think Romo's gonna have a statistically slightly better year than Kaepernick, but Colin's more fun to watch. (I've drafted him twice now)

So I started with a generic PPR based Top 200 list (I used the one from Jamie Eisenburgh of CBS, cause he's boring and humorless and severly pragmatic and gets kind of annoyed when people don't see his choices as the most obvious). Then I made my own adjustments (moving Peyton/Brees/Rodgers into the second round picks, the rest of the QBs in-line starting at the 48th spot so I can watch when they start to drop), and because my brother likes to start grabbing LB's in the sixth round, I started peppering groups of six between each tier of bench possibilities.

And in every round (except the first two), I put one dreamer. One guy I wanna watch just blow it up. 

I allowed myself just one of these on my starting team, and as many as were left after back-ups and handcuffs had been selected.

(For example . . . in round three of my For Reals league, I had the option of going Doug Martin or Arian Foster. Now Martin's younger and isn't playing behind a suspect OL and he's being hyped right now like he's the second coming since the rookie went down, but he didn't look all that great before being injured last season. But Foster, man, he's had almost an entire season to heal from back surgery and if he's healthy I don't care what line he's running behind, when you watch him play, you see him get the ball, approach the line of scrimmage, stop for a second, and then magically reappear on the other side of the defense. He is just fun to watch. And, he's got an excellent back-up. Big bet hedged.)

With all my strategies in hand, in late July, I joined a "For Fun" league, filled with strangers, and put my system to the test. Mock drafts help a bit, but half the group drops out by round seven and the autodraft starts grabbing kickers and defenses, so you always end up with the most amazing bench ever. When people draft for real they draft differently.

Everything worked exactly as I had wanted it to, except in the third round.

This was funny.

I hadn't reset my LB list to reflect the size of the IDP, so I was taking time to put them up on my queue while I wasn't drafting, and when it came around to my turn, the wifi kicked me off and grabbed an LB instead of Antonio Brown. Yeah, that sucked. I could've been all bitchy about it, but I'm not that dude.

I ended up with a very sensible team with my solitary dreamer pick as Percy Harvin.

I know Seattle doesn't throw, I know he's never played a full season and I know he's never topped 1,000 yards.

But he's fun to watch.

I also didn't realize that there were two flex positions and no dedicated TE spot. There's a WR/TE and a WR/RB/TE position. Which means that while I was grabbing dreamy RB's, I probably shoulda loaded up on stable WR's instead. And lastly, I discovered that people really like having a bench full of QB's. The guy I'm going up against in Week One, for instance, has Luck, Ryan, and Tannehil. So, I'm a gonna be scouring the waiver wire come Bye Week 9 for names like Fitzpatrick and Carr, or maybe I'll have some Carson Palmer trade bait by then. Who knows?

In my For Reals league a month later, I updated my lists, adjusted my strategies, and was all set to take Forte with my fourth pick (as had been discussed with the commissioner after a game of golf and over several bitter beers.)

But the beer must have got in our way, because thirty minutes till draft, I discovered I was slated with the 1st overall pick.

I mean, I really like Forte this year, but I'm totally not not gonna grab McCoy. Especially when I've got to wait another 22 picks. In the end, all came out exactly the way I planned. Each of my starters has a healthy back-up nestled on my bench, there are a few dreamy flyers, it's as solid and as pragmatic as I could possibly make it.

We're gonna call this year "No Hype, Just Homework"

It could work.

 . . . and finally . . . speaking of possibilities:

With the new "No Contact" rule, we see three QB's pass for over 5,000yrds. Brees/Rodgers/Stafford.

Eli gets benched at some point and has to call his mom to come pick him up.

Moreno is a Top Ten RB only because Lamar Miller's luck is really that bad.

Both my fantasy teams make it to the play-offs, cause my luck can't really be that bad.

Michael Sams gets promoted from the Cowboy's practice team and Dallas becomes the 'New' San Francisco.

"The 40ft Post" gets picked up by several alternative news nets, and I give my family a heart attack by making a living as a sports writer.

(If you liked The 40ft Post, please comment and share. Thank-You)

No comments:

Post a Comment