Tuesday, September 25, 2012

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 4

Time to get real about replacement officials. (cbssports.com)

FAABulous will recap the week of football activity and point fantasy owners where to spend their hard earned (not really) FAAB or waiver priority. Players will be owned in at least 30% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

Well that was a nice dream.

The idea that these replacement or SCAB officials could step in for proven or veteran NFL officials officially was lowered into the ground and covered in terra firma in week 3 of the NFL season. The cherry on top was of course the monstrosity of a miss-call on the game ending Hail Mary from Russell Wilson  to M.D. Jennings Golden Tate.

There will be more than enough reaction pieces, pundits screaming, and treating the NFL's inability to find some change in their $9 billion budgets to pay the actual refs. By the afternoon news cycle Skip Bayless is going to need to be hooked up to an IV to replenish the fluids he's going to lose screaming all morning. Around the Horn will probably cut the wire on the Mute button, and Pardon the Interruption will bring things home with Michael Wilbon in utter disbelief while Tony Kornheiser brings everything back in perspective with his intense stare, open palm down on the PTI table and telling all of America this has to be the end of the line for the NFL's posturing with the real officials.

Like Weezer said, "If you want to destroy my sweater / pull this tread as I walk away...".

That call was the errant thread on your finely-knit sweater and fans, players, and NFL intelligencia are starting to pull, and the whole system is breaking down.

People will talk about player safety and greed as factors for why this is or isn't getting done, but after last night, what we've really seen is the degeneration of the replacement refs, and the realities of week in, week out calling NFL games catching up to these refs who mean well and try hard, but in reality are completely unqualified for this job. A job where hundreds of millions of people watch you perform every week, everyone thinks they know as much or more than you, and there are a dozen cable channels whose jobs are to talk about sports and more than likely pick you apart even more. It's a no win for the refs, and now a no win for the NFL.

Above all, once the integrity of the game is called into question, you have to react. More than injuries, more than money, more than anything if the sport you put out there isn't deemed legit?...well, that's a big problem. The NFL isn't going anywhere. They could send an email to every season ticket holder in the league with two big middle fingers and say tough shit and it would survive. But it is embarrassing that the most lucrative and popular sport can seemingly let this pass.

Roger Goodell has been contradiction thus far as NFL commish. He is known mostly as a disciplinarian. Trying to clean up the players off the field as well as on it. Stricter fines and closer examination of hits that may lead to concussions. However, as the link and Jason Whitlock's piece beautifully illustrates, he's also been looking to endanger players vis a vis Thursday night football every week, an 18 game regular season, and while throwing some money at brain studies or trying to eliminate kick returns (still never understood that) sounds good, ultimately compared to what he's tried to implement, they are empty gestures.

This all brings us to fantasy football, where let's face it, with poor officiating, affects points. Players are getting or being denied opportunities based on the poor discretion of the officials. If you had Wilson last night, that TD is a gift. If you lost by 2 and you had the Packers D, well that should have been a tick in the W column.

Integrity of the game, both real and fantasy, is why Goodell needs to do something.

Let's see what players need some cash splashed on them...

Hip hip hooray for big plays. (Getty)

Nate Washington, WR - TEN (64% owned)

Granted spectacular catches and blown coverage aside, Washington owns the best receiving yard average in the NFL through three weeks at 26.4. Washington has always had ability, but now with Jake Locker more relied upon in the Titans offense since Chris Johnson is laying an absolute stink bomb, you can count on a couple of deep plays getting called for #85 in the coming weeks. Plus, you can't begrudge a receiver some luck. It worked for Victor Cruz last year.

Kyle Rudolph, TE - MIN (40%)

I'm going to try not to repeat people on this, but Rudolph has a special place in my heart. This is the last stop on the bandwagon. Food and drink carts will be coming down your aisle shortly.

Jerome Simpson, WR - MIN (11%)

Strike while the iron is hot in the Twin Cities. Simpson is coming off his 3 week suspension, and with the Vikings looking more than competent with Christian Ponder delivering passes at a high efficiency, Simpson could add a deep threat to all the ruckus Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin cause underneath coverage. SKOL!

Ronnie Hillman, RB - DEN (9%)

I can't tell you why I like the 5'9 tailback from San Diego State. The 3rd round pick hasn't made an impact yet, but with Willis McGahee nursing some bruised ribs and the mercurial Knowshon Moreno serving as back-up, I find it hard to believe that Hillman doesn't fit what Peyton Manning needs more than Moreno or anyone else on the depth chart. Work on that play action fake, Ronnie.


Jake Locker, QB - TEN (38%)

The first three weeks have been kind for Locker. He's put up big numbers and looked good doing it. However, even with playmakers in the route running department, the biggest crux of Locker's success is the dreadlocked one in the backfield. It's still early in the season, so teams preparing for the Titans probably have Chris Johnson on their mind. Three weeks in and he's produced zero. This may be a Jamaal Charles situation where Johnson could bust out in a big way, but probably not. Johnson just has to be somewhat effective at some point this year, but starting now, I would imagine a defensive coordinator would be a lot more focused on pressuring Locker, forgetting about Johnson. An increased focus on taking away potential targets for Locker at the expense of Johnson potentially gaining more that 2 yards will be well worth it.

THE 1%

Damaris Johnson, WR - PHI (0%)

This would be a total speculative add. Johnson is the 4th WR on the Eagles, but with Jeremy Maclin battling injuries already and DeSean Jackson waivering between wanting to play and not, a spot could open up for Johnson to get on the field and make plays. He did have 84 yards against Arizona, and his speed could make him a tasty option for the struggling offense.

Also, should Michael Vick be replaced or more likely injured from the punishment he is taking by a pass first offense behind a depleted offensive line, then Johnson does have a lot of reps with back-up/potential savior Nick Foles 

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