Tuesday’s Takeaways from the Trenches -– Week 4

Famed boxing trainer and manager Lou Duva famously said, “You can sum up this sport boxing in two words: You never know.”

ESPN
ESPN

After four weeks of the real and fake football season, those two—or would that be three?—words have never been more appropriate.

 

In one of the more telling stats I’ve seen this year…

Um. Wow.

As I shared last week in this very column, I’m having a very Brady-esque start to my year, especially in a couple leagues. To quote a classic line from one of my favorite movies of all time, Fletch, leaguemates are regularly asking me, Boy, what in THEEEE hell is the matter with you?

In one league, I’m now in the midst of my first four-game losing streak. Ever. In my history of playing fantasy football (over ten years now). But I’m not bitter. Wait, I think I am. Yes, I am bitter. Bitter, party of one.

I was feeling desperate, at 0-3, so made a blockbuster trade, attempting to bolster my incredibly lame, incredibly weak Week 4 #ByeNado-ridden WR corps. I brought in Brandon Marshall (plus spare parts), and departed with Gronk (plus spare parts). Looks good on paper, right? Well, had I not made the trade, I would have won my Week 4 matchup. Sigh. The great Bob Eucker once opined that he “led the league in ‘Go get ’em next time.’” I’m feelin’ ya, Bob. I’m feelin’ ya.

I think I actually may be one step closer to that fantasy bridge jump.

1. Stats That Make You Go Hmmmm

Stats that will certainly make you question your fantasy football intelligence:

  • QB: The Tom Brady struggle is real. He finished behind EVERY starting QB in Week 4—as well as behind backups Derek Anderson, Matthew McGloin and Jimmy Garoppolo (his real backup).
  • QB Part Deux: Joe Flacco finished as the fourth-best fantasy QB in Week 4. He had finished no higher than # 12 during the first three weeks.
  • RB: Matt Asiata, Trent Richardson, Justin Forsett and Lamar Miller all finished Top 8. JUST like we all called it.
  • RB Part Deux: Another LeSean McCoy mention. Of all the RBs who registered points in Week 4, Shady finished ahead of only 5. His 1.7 points put him at #59. And these resulted from McCoy playing on 45 of 60 snaps. Holy wow.
  • WR: Oakland’s Andre Holmes (18.4) finished with more points than the combination of Michael Crabtree (9.3), Cordarrelle Patterson (5.8) and Calvin Johnson (3.2). Um. OK.
  • WR Part Deux: Steve Smith Sr., Eddie Royal and Reggie Wayne finished Top 7. And yes, I played against a team that started all three. Oh, and I lost that matchup.
  • TE: Larry Donnell and Heath Miller finished as the top 2 TEs in Week 4. And Clay Harbor finished at #7, catching all eight of his targets from Blake Bortles for 69 yards.

2. Quick Hits

Being Trent Richardson: The quicksand-like start for one LeSean McCoy is being well-documented.Heck, in this very column last week, we relayed that SIXTY other RBs finished with more fantasy points in week 3 (PPR).

David Maialetti/Staff Photographer Philly.com
David Maialetti/Staff Photographer Philly.com

But now, he has dipped well under Trent Richardson’s infamous line of averaging less than 3 yards per carry. On the year, Shady is averaging 2.7 YPC; over the past two weeks? An astounding 1.35 YPC. Fantasy owners who took him Top 3 overall (which is essentially every league in the world) are drinking heavily.

Clipboard Jesus’ Fifteen Minutes Are Now Over:

#TBH, I wish one Charlie Whitehurst was a better player. And by “better player”, I obviously mean I wish he could last a full game on the field for the Titans, as the backup to Jake Locker, so that he could be in the news more. But not too good. Ya know, because if he was actually really good, one of the best nicknames of all time wouldn’t make any sense. [Whitehurst would not be proverbially holding said clipboard if he was too good.]

Associated Press
Associated Press

As former Montana Tech football coach Bob Green so eloquently put it, “It’s kinda like watching your mother-in-law go off a cliff in your brand new Cadillac. You got mixed feelings.” I like the image the nickname conjures so much, that my Twitter handle—I made one minor edit; I’m the ClipboardJaysus—and image reflect as much. Check me out, Tweeps, @FFHottieAsst.

The Black Unicorn Is Actually The Big Weirdo

Who’s the leader in the clubhouse after four weeks, at the TE position?

FOX Sports
FOX Sports

The Bears TE Martellus Bennett has a few nicknames—read about them here—but he really wants teammates to call him Marty. Just doesn’t feel right to call the fantasy leader simply “Marty”, now does it? What about The Orange Dino? Yeah. I won’t ask if you won’t.

Projections Schmojections

In the aforementioned league where I am … shall we say, ‘struggling’—have I mentioned I am winless in one particular league?—I’ve been projected to win every week. One week I was to score around 120 points; I scored around 80. Don’t let me get my rant on about automated site projections.

3. Top 7

If one were analyze the fantasy rankings (full-point PPR and 4 points for passing TDs) thus far this season, one would find some interesting findings. Well, lucky for you, I’ve done it for you. OK, get this. In the top 7 scorers, you’ll find 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 TE and 4 WRs. Zero RB strategists unite.

  • QB: Bet you, like I, would have wagered something quite valuable that the QB would be Peyton, Rodgers or Brees. WRONG. The answer is Peyton’s replacement in Indy, Andrew Luck.
  • RB: Again, good money would have said that one RB would be someone from Charles, Shady, AP or Forte. NO SIR. DeMarco Murray is your man.
  • TE: It would be ludicrous to think anyone other than Jimmy or Julius or Gronk would be that guy. THANK YOU FOR PLAYING. One Martellus Bennett.
  • WR: There are a couple of household names included here: Antonio Brown, Jordy and Julio. Then … REALLY?? Steve Smith, Sr., who is resurrecting his career with Joe Flacco in Baltimore. I do love his swagger, when he says things like, I’m 35 years old and I ran around them boys like they was schoolyard children.

4. Shhhh … Let’s Keep It Our Little Secret

I can admit it. I was wrong.

  • Ah, yes. Eddie Royal strikes again. And I was DEAD wrong. With breakout-potential-candidate-to-make-Antonio-Gates-irrelevant-gone-south, Ladarius Green, on the shelf Sunday, Philip Rivers found Royal for a 5/105/2 line, good for the 5th best WR slot this week. Ouch.
  • So I’ve been secretly drinking the Allen Robinson Twitter Hype Kool-Aid. He’s certainly got the tools, and hopefully now the QB to get him the rock. Anyhow, he finished with only 5 catches for 38 yards, barely staying in the Top 50 of WRs. Hopefully, I’m simply a bit early in my call. Help me mix up the Kool-Aid next week, won’t you ARob?
  • Is THIS a glimpse of the Trent Richardson the Colts traded for last season? On Sunday, he again played more than half the snaps and got 24 touches. But he actually produced for the brave—or desperate—fantasy owners who played him, finishing as the sixth best RB for the week. And I. Was. Wrong.

5. My Arm CAN Reach Around To Pat Myself On The Back

I’m also not very humble. I’m the MAN!

  • I boldly told everyone to R-E-L-A-X and then start Aaron, Jordy and Randall. OK, perhaps not a huge risk. But I’ll take the honors anyhow. How’d they do? Well, Rodgers finished with 27.88 points (#3 QB), while Nelson and Cobb came in at #2 and #4, respectively, amongst WRs. Don’t know about you, but I’m relaxed again.
  • I said Bishop Sankey would begin grabbing the backfield job for the Titans, at least from a fantasy perspective. He didn’t change the world, but he did finish as the #14 RB for the week. Your move, Whiz.
  • Again, I didn’t walk out on a brittle limb here, but I did think Antonio Brown would eat. And he feasted on the Bucs D, to the tune of a 7/131/2 stat line. The boy can ball. I think I might just have a new mancrush.

And we’ll bring it back around—to boxing. The iconic Muhammad Ali once said, “If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.” So, I presume there’s hope for my moldy fake football team this year.

As always, stay strong, show kindness and NO RAGRETS.

[NOTE: This week’s NFL stats courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com. Fantasy stats courtesy of eDraft.com.]


Jay Marks is the Fantasy Football Lead for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @FFHottieAsst.

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Friday’s First and 10 –- Week 4

Welcome to Hell Week.

Dreamworks, LLC
Dreamworks, LLC

Crazy, but I always thought Hell Week referred to the week of hazing before initiation into a college fraternity or sorority. Ya know, when the experienced, current brothers or sisters force you to do things against your will, in order to show your stripes, indicating you are worthy. For whatever reason, as I’m typing this, all I can envision is the scene where Will Ferrell runs naked through the streets in the now cult-ish classic flick, Old School.

While looking ahead in this year’s NFL schedule, most circled Weeks 4 and 9 of the 2014 fantasy football season and officially pronounced them Hell Weeks. The schedule-makers take on the role of the experienced frat brothers, making us fake footballers do things against our will. Things like picking up and starting Greg Jennings and Riley Cooper, while Demaryius Thomas and AJ Green are on byes. I’ll be honest; I’m not sure I want to be the guy running through the streets, though.

This week sees Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle and St. Louis on bye weeks. That means dependable 2014 fantasy staples such as Marshawn Lynch, Giovani Bernard, Peyton and his schoolyard friends, as well as the Seahawks D/ST are not available.

Yet, in spite of the impending #ByeNado,—@AdamAizer, I hope you trademarked that phrase—life, or Fantasy Football as we know it, carries on. And you can rest in the comfort that today is TGIFFF: Thank God It’s Fantasy Football Friday. Now let’s get to what I’m watching for this weekend.

1. Start Your _________________ ?

Last week, we said to start your Saints. That ended with a big meh. This week, we’re saying to start your Bears and Packers. Fake footballers everywhere are praying to the football gods that Brandon Marshall plays, and that Matt Forte actually has some yards per carry.

CheeseheadsRodgers and his gang assuredly should bounce back … if we all just R-E-L-A-X. In case you don’t know about this, Aaron Rodgers encouraged the cheeseheads everywhere to simply relax. Then when you’ve finished relaxing, start Aaron, Jordy and Randall on your fantasy teams.

2. Pick a Jag, Any Jag.

I’m actually somewhat interested in seeing some of the young receiver talent the Jags have accumulated for Blake Bortles to throw to. There’s Cecil Shorts, Marqise Lee and the Allens (Hurd and Robinson). [This doesn’t even include their 2012 fifth overall pick, Justin Blackmon, suspended indefinitely for substance abuse.] The only problem is … are any of them experienced/healthy enough to play … effectively? Who knows who will get the looks—my money is on Robinson, long-term—or if they’ll simply cancel one another out for the remainder of the season. But it should be fun to watch.

3. Running Backs … Back

In Week 4, a couple of name-backs return to action.

Kansas City Star/David Eulitt
Kansas City Star/David Eulitt

If all goes according to plan, Jamaal Charles is set to return to action, pushing dependable fill-in Knile Davis back to the bench. Fantasy owners hope that a definitive announcement as to Charles’ health is made … sooner than later. Unless your friend, The Handcuff, has been implemented, you’re left to guess how much work JC Superstar will actually garner, and how much a shared backfield will be implemented.

Secondly, will Doug Martin have any impact whatsoever, as HE is set to return against the Steelers on Sunday? Since his strong rookie campaign of 2012, he’s had one 100-yard game, rushed for less than 500 yards total and caught 13 passes. And then we find out he doesn’t like the nicknames Dougie Fresh or Muscle Hamster. Sigh. OK, now read this.

4. The Bishop Needs Dancing Lessons?

After compiling a whopping 28 yards on 8 carries though the first two games, rookie Bishop Sankey “exploded” for 70 yards on 11 touches.

George Walker IV/The Tennessean
George Walker IV/The Tennessean

In spite of being the obvious bright spot in Tennessee’s backfield, Titans head man Ken Whisenhunt still wonders aloud if the Bishop has the feet for the job. All preseason, I said Sankey would eventually become the man in the Titans backfield—but I preached patience. Perhaps we’ll see that soon after some dance lessons, as suggested by Eric.

5. Running of the Colts

Do you think Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton watch the same games as we do?

 

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

I’m beginning to wonder. How can Trent Richardson continue to “start” and see more touches than Ahmad Bradshaw? SURELY, smarter heads will prevail. I know this fantasy owner hopes that to be the case. Bradshaw just looks faster, more energetic and, simply put, more valuable to Luck and that Colt offense.

6. Royal Flush?

Eddie Royal fooled the fantasy world once. Shame on us.

FOX Sports
FOX Sports

Last year he began the season with 5 touchdowns on 10 catches, over his first two games. Over his final 12 games, he averaged just over 3 catches per game and 3 total touchdowns. Fool us twice, shame on you. After logging a single catch in Week 1, Royal has tallied 11 catches and 2 TDs in the past two weeks. Here we go again? I’m not buying. Are you?

7. What Can Brown Do for You?

Eight months back, I wrote that Antonio Brown would be a Top 5 fantasy WR in the 2014 season.

Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

After three weeks, AB is the #3 fantasy scoring player (PPR), not just receiver, trailing only Julio Jones and Andrew Luck. It seems Big Ben looks to him every time he drops back to pass. And it certainly helps that Pittsburgh’s ground attack has picked up steam, opening up the passing game. As the 1. and 1.A. option for Roethlisberger, Brown is poised to continue his rise to fantasy stardom. I know what Brown can do for my fantasy team. Do you?

8. Scones—and Kickoff—at High Noon

There’s been so much off-the field shenanigans through the first three weeks of this NFL season, it feels like the on-field play has taken a backseat to the tabloids. So I wonder how many others heard that the Miami “at” Oakland game would be played across the pond and wondered why this hadn’t gotten more press?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oh yeah, I guess it got buried on page 13 of the NFL press releases, behind some headlines involving Rice, Roger, Adrian and Greg. I almost feel sorry for the London game ticket purchasers. They’ll be treated to that magical Tannehill-to-Wallace connection. The NFL London Experience will be getting to see which past-his-prime, injury-prone back the Raiders trot out to get stuffed by the Miami D. If the Packers v. Bears game is a bonanza, is this one a Costanza?

For Week 4, in homage to Old School, I’m going all college life by ordering pizza and drinking cheap beer. You know, PBR in the can or some Natty Light. Or if you really want to class the joint up, you could go all out and get some Coors Light. Live a little.

So enjoy the waiver wire pickups playing their British hearts out for your fantasy teams, the pizza and beer. And go watch Old School again. Or Animal House.

Until next time, stay strong, show kindness and NO RAGRETS.


Jay Marks is the Fantasy Football Lead for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @FFHottieAsst.

 

The Voice of Reason: It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

With apologies to George Wyle and Andy Williams, it is the most wonderful time of the year!

I know, I know, it’s not the holiday season. BUT, bear with me now, for avid sports fans, you cannot beat this time of year!

This is the sports version of The Perfect Storm. At different times of the year, you get sick to death of the sport “in season.” I love baseball as much as the next guy, but at around game 90, I start to get a little meh. The same thing happens during basketball season, and ditto with hockey.

This time of year has a little something for everyone. You have football for the masses, hockey for those “hosers” who like the ice, baseball playoffs for those lucky enough to withstand the torture of 162 games, and NBA training camps are starting up.

You literally have a sports smorgasbord! Take your pick. If you can’t find a sport to suit you, then maybe golf, cycling, or fall track and field are your cup of tea.

As for me, it makes my “sports dingus” go nuts. When I can’t watch something live, I DVR it and watch it later. Otherwise, I wear out the PIP feature on my television.

This early in the season, we’ve already been treated to some fantastic collegiate games, and some that were, well, not so worthy. In the NFL, we have seen so much parity that if you would have told me that both Green Bay and New Orleans would be 1-2 after three weeks, I’d not believe you.

Enjoy this time, because it won’t last long. Before you know it, we’ll be griping about our favorite teams not doing well, and by then, it WILL be the traditionally recognized “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” when it begins anew with the NFL playoffs, college bowl games, and NBA and NHL seasons in full swing.


Ronnie Garcia is the voice of reason at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @CapnDD.

Theo Epstein’s Black Magic

Phil Velasquez/McClatchy News Service
Phil Velasquez/McClatchy News Service

I believe it was the great Winston Churchill who once said, “Gather all the prospects you can.” Though I may be mistaken. Nonetheless, Theo Epstein, current Chicago Cubs general manager, has done a pretty nice job since assuming that role in 2011.

When he became the GM of the Red Sox in 2002, he was, at 28, the youngest in Major League Baseball to ever hold that position. Two years later, the Red Sox broke the Babe Ruth curse and won their first World Series since the Civil War. Okay, it was since 1918 but it felt like it was that long. He resigned in 2005, but was then rehired in 2006; they won the World Series again in 2007.

Was he some sort of wizard?

Had he suddenly gone from “Theo the Grey” to “Theo the White?”

He resigned from the Red Sox again in 2011, and took the same job with the Chicago Cubs. He had already reversed on curse with Boston; could he now reverse the Cubs’ “curse of the goat?” It’s certainly looking that way when you consider the moves that he has made.

Let’s take a look.

The Texas Rangers made back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011, and were looking for that one pitcher in 2012 who could help them like Cliff Lee did two years earlier. The Rangers made a deal for Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who was having a pretty good year playing for Chicago. Rangers fans were excited…for a few minutes. Dempster struggled in the American League, and Texas choked (no thanks to a struggling Josh Hamilton), losing the AL West to the Oakland Athletics.

In 2013, the Rangers saw themselves in the same position, and gave up prospects Mike “I love to strikeout” Olt, C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm for Matt Garza. Garza was a guaranteed addition to the Rangers starting rotation who would surely help bring another division title. Once again Texas slipped and the A’s won the division.

Now go to the current season where the Rangers have been plagued with injuries unlike any team in the history of the game. The Oakland A’s spent the majority of the season in first place, and made some pretty significant moves at the trade deadline, which seemed to assure them a third division title in a row.

So who did they trade with?

The Chicago Cubs.

The A’s landed pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for top prospect Addison Russell, outfield prospect Billy McKinney and pitcher Dan Strailly. The A’s later went on a collapse of epic proportions, and are currently hanging onto a wild card spot by the thinnest of threads after losing the division title to the Los Angeles Angels.

Meanwhile, the Cubs are loaded with prospects and looking forward to a division title run in the next couple of years.

The lesson here: don’t trade prospects for Cubs’ pitchers. Theo Epstein is a mad genius and is working magic on his side.


James Holland is a Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesHollandMLB.

The Voice of Reason: Enough Is Enough

When is it going to end?

Andrew Weber - US Presswire
Andrew Weber – US Presswire

When is the off-field violence going to end? Are these “warriors” who fight for us on the gridiron being given a fair shake? Is society asking too much for them to just be able to turn off that “killer instinct” when the clock hits zero?

I say yes, they are being given a fair shake. It is a choice. 

Agree with me, disagree with me, or hate me. The fact is that we all have a choice. Free will. It is the ability to choose an action that WE determine. WE are in control. Up until that moment when we aren’t. (But even then, it is our choice to go through with that out-of-control action.)

The fact of the matter is that we all lose our cool. We may utter a profane word, throw something or smash something. Anger is a normal feeling to have. When we step over the bounds that result in harming other people is when it becomes problematic.

When did it become acceptable to hit women?

Domestic violence has happened for generations, mostly in silence, because the female did not want to say anything for fear of retribution or losing her husband/family. The old excuse that, “I tripped and hit a door,” does not hold water. We know better. We have seen the black eyes, the bruises, the broken limbs.

I grew up with alcoholic parents, yet I never saw any physical violence. I never heard any physical violence in the home. I grew up, got married and had a child. Guess what? I have never hit my wife. Have I wanted to? No. It is about choices. The choices we make affect our lives. I am sure, had I ever struck my wife, I would have been divorced and lost my child.

In the last two weeks, there have been so many stories in the news about professional football players abusing their wives, girlfriends, and even kids. The problem does not just end there. Now we are being told that the Baltimore Ravens may have “misled” the NFL in the Ray Rice investigation. The problem has gone beyond individuals making bad decisions to organizations trying to protect them. You KNOW it’s bad when Ray Lewis starts to make comments.

It may not happen this year or the next, but the NFL better be careful, because if this trend continues they could lose women by the droves. They may lose the fans that have helped create a 9 billion dollar enterprise. There are incidents of spousal/significant other abuse in the NBA, MLB, and NHL, but there are NONE as front-and-center as the NFL, which employs 300+ men on football teams.

David Goldman - Associated Press
David Goldman – Associated Press

The bungling of the Ray Rice incident by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been embarrassing. What did he know? When did he know it? Did it affect his decision to suspend Rice for 2 games? We know now that the NFL offices DID get the video tape of the incident in the elevator. It’s the smoking gun. If it’s proven that Goodell knew and saw the videotape (good luck with that), then he should be fired and or resign. The man formerly known as a disciplinarian desperately needs to get on top of this and recuse himself from the Rice imbroglio.

The once-mighty NFL has a proverbial “black eye.” The NFL used to mean the National Football League. If the league is not careful, it may wind up as the National Felon League.

What is the league going to do about it?

I’m not sure, but Enough is Enough!


Ronnie Garcia is the voice of reason at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @CapnDD.

 

Tuesday’s Takeaways from the Trenches –- Week 3

Week 3 provided more fantasy ulcers, and literal pulling of hair and / or teeth (whichever happens to be your anger method of choice). Mine happens to be hair, which I yanked compulsively when Antonio Brown caught his second touchdown of the game Sunday night.

The League - FX
The League – FX

Just last year, 2013, I played in six fantasy football leagues. I had a winning record in all six, never lost two weeks in a row, made the playoffs in all, went to the championship in five and won four. Yes, my name last year was legally changed to The God. Or to others, LSP, which obviously stands for the Luckiest Sumbitch on the Planet. It was the perfect fantasy storm for me.

This year? Let’s just say I have already experienced a three-game losing streak, and have lost a game in every other league; I’m beyond lucky to have only one losing record. Now Week 4 hovers like a dark cloud of doom, with key players on bye weeks and longer term injuries looming with evil laughter. Here’s looking at you, Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster, AJ Green, Percy Harvin and Dennis Pitta. That’s a pretty decent lineup … all sitting on my bench for Week 4. I’m feeling like the perfect storm is about to rain all over me.

But quickly, before I jump off the fantasy bridge, let me shoot you some knowledge, fantasy football Week 3 style.

Stats That Make You Go Hmmmm

To quote one of my favorite old-school movies, Chevy Chase in Vacation, “This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy.”

  • QB: Kirk Cousins and Austin Davis had more fantasy points than Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
  • QB Part Deux: Rodgers and Stafford finished at number 28 and 32, respectively, amongst fantasy QBs in Week 3. Both played the full game, so no injuries to blame. That’s right; rookies Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater outscored both, despite not starting or playing full games.
  • RB: SIXTY RBs outperformed LeSean McCoy in fantasy points on Sunday. You read that right. SIXTY. On a day when the Eagles put up 30 offensive points. Yikes.
  • RB Part Deux: Also, Shady, the reigning NFL rushing leader, rushed for 22 yards, and was outgained by THREE different guys on each of the following teams: Jacksonville, Buffalo, Tennessee and the Rams.
  • WR: Houston’s Demaris Johnson (11.6 pts), 4th string journeyman, outscored the combination of Megatron (8.2) and Randall Cobb (2.9). Wow.
  • WR Part Deux: Arizona speedster, not abolitionist John Brown (17.2), scored more than Jordy (5.9), Cordarrelle (5.4) and Percy (4.2) combined.
  • TE: One stat is all you need in the TE bullet point from this week. The Saints’ 3rd string TE, Josh Hill, outscored some guy named Jimmy Graham 10.8 to 5.4. Commence weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Quick Hits

  1. Will the Bishop Finally Trump the Field? Titans rookie Bishop Sankey—the first RB taken in this year’s NFL draft—finally got some quality snaps, carries and bit of production. His 70 total yards on 11 touches won’t scream “Bonanza!” to anyone, but he was their best offensive option Sunday against the Bengals. Hopefully for the Titans, he can continue the positive work. They need it.
  2. Kickers Are People, Too? A couple weeks back, I pondered aloud—or at least in my laptop for all of you to read—if kickers are people, too. I came to the conclusion that they are, and can certainly help win, or in many cases, lose your fantasy week. Case in point. This week, I started the trifecta of Mason Crosby, Shayne Graham and Phil Dawson. (In three leagues, obviously. I’m not in some bizarro “Three Kicker” league. Though I’d bet there’s one out there somewhere.) Anyhow, between the three of these generally highly productive kickers, I got a total of 5 points.
  3. Fireworks Bring an End to Summertime. The Philadelphia versus Washington game featured four of the top six fantasy WRs from Week 3, in Jeremy Maclin, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Matthews and DeSean Jackson. A fun game to watch, but defenses optional apparently.
  4. From Hitman to Touchdown Maker. Jacksonville wideout Allen Hurns showed up on the scoresheet again this week. In three weeks, the rookie now has three touchdowns on seven catches. Can it last? I have my doubts, but if you’re in a TD heavy league, certainly worth watching.
  5. foxsports.com
    foxsports.com

    Who’s Feelin’ Lucky? Someone in Indianapolis, that’s who. After three weeks, one Amish Andrew Luck leads all of fantasy scoring. Now, about that facial furniture you got going on there, Andrew.

Shhhh … Let’s Keep It Our Little Secret

I can admit it. I was wrong.

  • I said to start your Saints. Pretty much all of them. Brees showed up, to the tune of 293 yards passing with 2 TD’s. Beyond that? No one with a Saints jersey finished in the Top 65 scoring.
  • Now, I didn’t say to sit DeMarco Murray or anything, but I also didn’t think he’d maintain his pace. I was wrong. He had 100 yards rushing, 31 yards through the air and a touch. Well done, DMurray. I have you in several leagues, so feel free to keep proving me wrong.
  • Well, Colin Kaepernick’s tats came to play … and against a fairly stout Arizona D. Well done, bro. I didn’t think you’d show up like this. Passing: 245 and a touchdown; Rushing: 54.

My Arm CAN Reach Around To Pat Myself On The Back

I’m also not very humble. I’m the MAN!

  • I said to temper expectations on James Jones, Darren Sproles and Andre Johnson. They say even a broken clock is right twice a day.
  • I thought Jeremy Maclin would kick it, old-school, Sunday against the Washington football team. Um, yeah. I’d say he did. Eight catches for 154 and a touch. You did Show-Me. See what I did there? He attended U of Missouri.
  • Knile Davis is the ultimate handcuff in the NFL. Presuming Charles didn’t go—which he obviously didn’t—I did figure roughly 100 total yards and a score for KD. His line? 132 yards rushing and a touchdown. Not bad for a fill-in against that Miami D.

Well gang, they say half the battle is showing up. So, I guess I’ll show up again for Week 4. Reluctantly, I’ll set my lineups. I’ll brag. And I’ll pout. I’ll try to get someone to take Stevan Ridley or Hakeem off my hands via trade, and effort to find a replacement for Dennis Pitta. My work is cut out for me. Good luck to you this week as well.

Meantime … stay strong, show kindness and NO RAGRETS.

[NOTE: This week’s Half-Point PPR scoring stats courtesy of NFL.com.]


Jay Marks is the Fantasy Football Lead for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @FFHottieAsst.

An Angels World Series Title and Eating Our Vegetables: Nobody Wants it But it Would be Good for Us

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won the American League West Championship last week.

Kirby Lee - USA Today Sports
Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports

As I type these words, they have the best record in all of baseball. And with only a handful of games left, they must be considered one of the favorites to make it to the World Series.

Is anyone excited about this prospect? Are there huge throngs of fans who are giddy at the concept of the Angels playing deep into October?

I have been a resident of Southern California for a while now. I have witnessed up close both the Dodgers and the Angels making it to their respective LCS. In my years of living in California, I have met maybe 10 Angels fans, and very few wearing Angels gear.

I remember seeing someone with an Angels cap and sweatshirt not long after Albert Pujols signed his long term deal with the Halos.

I said to him, “You must be excited about Pujols coming over, right?”

He responded, “Oh yeah, the new first baseman. I hear he is pretty good.”

Angel-Stadium-of-Anaheim1At that moment I heard screams coming from St. Louis, a fan base that does not have a Rally Monkey nor a stadium with a fake Disney rock in centerfield.

Listen to sports talk in Southern California, and save for the playoffs, the Angels will scarcely get a mention.

And as a fan base, the they hardly can be considered one of the strongest. Yes, I know there are individual Angels fans out there whose love and devotion to the team has no boundaries and who wept a tear when Jim Fregosi passed away last year.

But as a whole, they are not a team that inspires much emotion, negatively or positively. There are not a lot of transplanted Angels fans across the country. People who move from where they grew up tend to keep the teams of their youth. That’s why Arizona has so many Cubs fans, and Florida’s most popular team is probably the Yankees.

Not a lot of people move out of California. Maybe that’s why California has many “Boston Bars” and “New York Bars,” but you would be hard pressed to go to Brooklyn and find an “Orange County Bar.”

Figuring out who Angels fans are is mysterious.  In an annual study conducted by Emory Sports Marketing, every MLB fan base was ranked in terms of financial support and social media presence.

Their metrics put the Angels near the bottom in all categories, including the worst Social Media Equity in the American League. I confess I do not understand all of the math. But I do know that doesn’t look good.

Who do the Angels play for anyway? California baseball is intriguing, with the North and South rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers, and the chip on the shoulder and carnival atmosphere in Oakland.

Even San Diego fans, few that there are, have pride in their city and their underrated misery.

But the Angels?

Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times
Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Since 1996, the Angels haven’t moved, but have had three different location names, a state, the city they actually reside in, and the metropolis in another county that the residents of Anaheim seem to resent.

With the awkward “of Anaheim” suffix in their name, they represent the 56th biggest city in the country, playing for fans that only exist in between Irvine and Long Beach, who need prompting from a primate to cheer in a ballpark that has the Thunder Mountain Railroad in center field.

Ladies and Gentlemen your World Series front runners!

Fox might consider bringing back The X Factor because ratings for the World Series might be too low to record.

But before the cyanide capsules are consumed, the TV executives should keep something in mind:

While the Angels could be the World Champions nobody WANTS, they could be the exact champions that baseball NEEDS!

Kind of like eating vegetables, the Angels winning it all might not be so pleasurable, but it will be good for us.

What is the nourishment of the Angels?

Photo: Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports)
Photo: Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports)

Seafood… specifically Trout. Mike Trout.

As Derek Jeter fatigue has swept the nation a year after the Mariano Rivera celebration got the best of us, baseball finds itself lacking a marquee national star.

There are wonderful players to be sure . Die hard fans of the game like myself see that Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Kershaw,  Andrew McCutchen, Felix Hernandez and many more are thrilling and worth watching.

But no player has yet become that bigger-than-the-sport figure that a new generation can have as their own star.

The Angels just happen to have a candidate for that role. Mike Trout is the best in the business and arguably its greatest all-around player. Loved by traditional fans for being a 5-tool, hustling player, and the new stats crowd for his off-the-charts numbers, Trout has something for everyone.

He plays with a flair for the dramatic, and has the humble, team-first quality that gave Jeter his aura while still being a decent pitchman.

Trout could be the new face of the game as attention shifts from the Northeast out west. In fact, the anonymity of the Angels franchise could work to Trout’s advantage.

Most of the annoyance fans have regarding Jeter’s farewell is based on their hatred for the Yankees. People have hated the Yankees for generations. Often times, their team lost at the hands of Jeter and the Yankees.

But the world doesn’t hate the Angels. There is no musical called Damn Angels. Save for a few A’s and Rangers fans, or maybe someone who doesn’t like those strange Head and Shoulders commercials where women are sniffing C. J. Wilson’s hair, people aren’t lining up to HATE the Angels. They have no baggage as a franchise.

When Michael Jordan took over the NBA, he played for the Bulls, a franchise that didn’t have the animosity of the Celtics or Lakers. Most people could not find Edmonton on the map when Wayne Gretzky showed up.

If the rest of the country could discover Trout, they would be rooting for HIM rather than the team. And what better showcase for Trout than a World Series?

Baseball has had potential national stars, especially in the wake of the 1994 strike, but they never took off with the World Series as a showcase.

MLB.com
MLB.com

Ken Griffey Jr. was a transcendent talent playing for an obscure team. He got the 5 homers and the Division Series-clinching mad dash home in 1995, but never saw a pennant with the Mariners nor the Reds.

Barry Bonds was one of the great players of all time. But nobody ever liked him, even before his body expanded faster than Bruce Banner on a bad day.

Alex Rodriguez couldn’t win a pennant in Texas nor Seattle, and by the time he arrived in New York, he was public enemy number one. Seeing him fail in October became a national pastime.

Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were the Milli Vanilli of baseball.

Cal Ripken became that beloved pre-Jeter figure, but his lone World Series took place in 1983 when his consecutive game streak was only a few hundred long.

With Trout, the best young superstar in the game is currently in his prime. Since traditional northeast teams are out, and that regional bias will not not applicable this October, this could be a time for Fox, MLB, ESPN and Turner Sports to shine their spotlight on a new superstar.

He isn’t going to jail. He isn’t on steroids (we hope). He is in his prime. He is signed long term. He is the consensus pick for best player in the game. And he plays on a team that most have no ill will towards.

Other than that, he has nothing going for him.

So sitting here in late September, does anyone WANT to see the Angels in the World Series?

Not many do.

But not many enjoyed eating carrots and broccoli, either. In the end it was good to do, made bodies stronger and helped you live longer.

Baseball could use some of that nourishment.

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Time to eat your veggies. A post-Jeter, bigger-than-life star plays in a tiny sliver of land between Los Angeles and San Diego. That could be the game’s future.

 


Paul Sullivan is a Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @SullyBaseball.