. . . where we watch every game and reserve the right to change the commentary at the line of scrimmage.
13 Throwaways for Thursday
1. Torrey Smith’s virtuoso performance on the heels of personal tragedy reminded me of his backstory as one of the most likable people in the NFL. Sunday night was a beautiful game played by a beautiful person.
2. Daryl Washington may have sideswiped Patrick Willis and taken over Ray Lewis’ mantle as the best linebacker in football. (Washington was a key piece of the bounty I paid to acquire RGIII in the PFF Dynasty league. While Griffin is the highest-scoring player through three weeks, Washington is the top linebacker and almost certainly has more points above replacement.) Washington’s play on the Cardinals 99-yard fumble return touchdown illustrates why he’s so easy to root for. With James Sanders surrounded by a convoy of teammates who were struggling to keep up and one Eagle left to beat, Washington blazed by at full sprint and laid the touchdown-springing block 70 yards down the field.
3. Speaking of Cardinals players who are easy to root for, Larry Fitzgerald turned in what might have been his fastest forty in a while as he caught the group of defenders celebrating in the end zone a mere instant after the score. Fitzgerald, who later flipped the ball calmly to the officials after his own touchdown, should be revered for his character as much as his talent. While Peyton Manning’s body language has been terrible through three weeks, Fitzgerald barely registered a frown at the Cardinals’ horrific preseason quarterback performances.
4. The antithesis of the Larry Fitzgerald/Barry Sanders model is encapsulated in the trend of pointing to the name on your jersey after a score. It’s almost as though these players don’t realize they’re preening for a punch line. Who’s got two thumbs and is a narcissistic jerk? This guy! Continue reading Kill! Kill! Kill! – Week 3
Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Lebowski III is the nom de plume of a man whose nom de guerre happens to be the most interesting man in the world. I was critical of the first part and skeptical of the second part, but as he explained, ‘the Big Lebowski is One, the Dude is Two, and I’m the Third, fairly obvious.’ When I suggested that’s not how ‘the Third’ worked exactly, he responded simply, ‘Capitalizing.’ As for the other part, he claimed he’d never ‘run a marathon because it was on his way,’ except for when he delivered the news of Athens’ victory, but that ‘they got the rest of it right.’ I can confirm that JLIII is one of the best fantasy football players in the world and that he uses a strategy he calls ‘force of will.’ JLIII doesn’t always write football columns, but when he does, he writes them for the Banana Stand.
The Officials Are All Right
Well, this was going to be a more convincing column before that atrocity of a final drive on Monday night, but I’m standing behind the replacement officials. Sure, that last play cost me an undefeated season with my juggernaut squad, Obsolete Vernacular, but, hey, that’s why you bat the ball down. If you catch it, then a guy can do what Golden Tate smartly did and simulate simultaneous possession.
I feel like I’m back at the Salem Witch Trials. Have people forgotten how bad the regular officials are? Have they forgotten that plays like this are the reason commentators have been arguing for full time officials? I may have missed something in the negotiations, but I don’t believe that’s on the table.
If you have forgotten, the officiating was so bad in Super Bowl XL that when you google ‘Pittsburgh Seattle Super’ the third possible search category appends the word fixed.
Apparently nobody remembers Calvin Johnson’s stolen game-winning touchdown. The ruling on that play was so absurd the comically evil and surprisingly incompetent Bill Polian is quoted as saying ‘those of us who know the rule understand that’s the call’ at the same time that the NFL was supposedly admitting they missed the call in one of those clandestine communiques to the Lions. Continue reading The Officials Are All Right
Combining Power Rankings, Start/Sit advice,* and game predictions, the Oracle is a Sunday morning smorgasbord out of the spread formation.
* The variety of fantasy formats means conventional start/sit columns won’t address your dilemma. Shallow League Bench lets you know which star to keep in reserve in 10-team leagues. Deep League Start provides the deep sleeper for 14-team leagues (or leagues like the one I run that require you to start four wide receivers).
No. 18 Bucs 17 at No. 12 Cowboys 27
This is a referendum game on the Dez Bryant fantasy hype. Look for Miles Austin to score twice and Dallas coaches to suggest he benefited from coverage rolled to Bryant. Even in a loss, I like the talent of Doug Martin to outshine the overhyped DeMarco Murray in his one.
Shallow League Bench: Vincent Jackson. The Cowboys haven’t given up much in the passing game, and the Josh Freeman to V-Jax connection should be hit-and-miss all season.
Deep League Start: Kevin Ogletree. The Dallas No. 3 receiver wasn’t much of an option against the swarming Seahawks defense, but the matchup with Tampa is very similar to the one he blew up against in Week 1.
No. 31 Jags 20 at No. 20 Colts 38
This game has the potential to be a lot more exciting than most think. Blaine Gabbert should find his rhythm with Justin Blackmon against the Colts’ atrocious secondary. Overshadowed by RG3, Andrew Luck is off to a spectacular start in his own right. With Austin Collie joining the fray, it may be time to start generating fun nicknames for the Colts offense.
Shallow League Bench: Reggie Wayne. As was the case last week against Minnesota, there’s a chance the Colts get ahead and don’t need to pass the ball. Collie was the clear No. 1 in this offense before suffering his most recent concussion and could quickly resume that role.
Deep League Start: Donald Brown. Brown is off the radar after two quiet weeks but has played well. He could see a much heavier touch load if Indy takes an early lead. Continue reading The Oracle – Week 3
. . . where we watch every NFL game and reserve the right to change the commentary at the line of scrimmage.
20 Takeaways for Tuesday
1. It’s easy to claim foresight after the fact, so if you want proof that the Banana Stand saw Manning’s Monday meltdown coming, you should read The Potential Peyton Problem where I detail the struggles of elite elderly quarterbacks from posterity. I also note how overrated the Broncos’ offensive line and defense were in 2011, two areas where they were handled by the Falcons.
2. Sam Bradford’s emergence is the biggest story of Week 2. Through two seasons, Bradford’s historically similar QBs were almost all busts, and he appeared to quickly be heading into Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman territory. Then Sunday happened. For those who didn’t see the game, Danny Amendola’s explosion will seem to indicate a checkdown-fest, but Bradford continually stretched the field with his big arm. Speaking of Amendola, the new Welker profiled as a possession receiver breakout candidate heading into 2011, but injuries delayed his explosion. His 36-point week should forever be his fantasy high point, but his performance was not a fluke. The bad news: St. Louis may have the most difficult remaining schedule of opposing defenses in the entire NFL.
3. It’s impossible to understate how good Robert Griffin III was on Sunday. Left with a ramshackle assortment of underachievers, has-beens, and never-wases with Pierre Garcon on the shelf, Griffin put on an incandescent display against a suddenly salty Rams secondary. Combining almost mythical arm strength and uncanny deep accuracy, Griffin’s 68-yard strike to Leonard Hankerson is a throw no other quarterback in the NFL can make. Storm clouds loom, however. RG3 was visibly exhausted and beaten up by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, a vivid reminder of the way in which a running quarterback accrues the injury risk of both quarterback and running back positions. As a Griffin owner in the PFF Dynasty league and many other formats, I’m both encouraged by and very, very worried about his usage in the Washington offense.
4. Tom Brady drafters are in big trouble. The loss of Aaron Hernandez is devastating, and Josh McDaniels is quickly cementing his own overrated status in his New England return. The declining success of McDaniels’ scheme the first time around led to the drafting of Rob Gronkowski and Hernandez. McDaniels’ tenure in Denver was marked by an inability to make adjustments. In St. Louis he was a disaster. Both of these experiences were chalked up to a dearth of talent, but Sam Bradford’s renaissance under another formerly disgraced coordinator has quickly called that into question. On Sunday I actually heard the commentators suggest the Patriots were once again ahead of the curve by returning to the run game. For years, Tom Brady was New England’s advantage over the rest of the NFL. If you de-emphasize him, the Patriots become just another team.
5. After struggling for two quarters against the Raiders, Reggie Bush finally put on the type of show folks have been waiting for since he was drafted second overall in 2006. I’m not a big proponent of wasting roster spots to handcuff your starters – especially in small leagues – but Lamar Miller is a good add for Bush owners. An argument could be made for Miller as the top back from this past year’s draft, and his slide into the fourth round demonstrates how far behind the analytical curve NFL franchises still are. You could argue that he looked even better than Bush on his handful of carries.
Continue reading Kill! Kill! Kill! – Week 2