Welcome to Hell Week.
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.
Rodgers 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.