Tuesday, November 26, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 13

Stevan Ridley is forcing Bill Belichick to look for other options at RB. (GETTY)
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 most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

As sports fans, we like to romanticize games in our minds. When many of us forget the epic Pats and Broncos game Sunday night, we will most likely remember the story of two halves. Peyton Manning leading his juggernaut Broncos team to a commanding 24-0 lead at halftime, only to have Tom Brady do Tom Brady things and bring his Patriots back to secure an overtime victory. This was certainly a huge win for the Pats, and time will tell if this victory served as a warning of the Patriots tenacity, or just a reminder to keep the pedal to the metal for the Broncos once the playoffs get underway. 

Yes, it's easy to want to look at the offensive side of things, but what really caused this raucous affair to unfold on national television was something much uglier. Turnovers. 

Each team can attribute 17 points allowed due to seven total turnovers (3 for the Pats, 4 for the Broncos) which wildly swung the game from start to finish. 

Two of the main culprits of the turnovers were Stevan Ridley and Montee Ball. Two running backs who have almost made it their calling card this year. Ridley, the primary back in New England, leads all non-QB players with fumbles lost (3 rushing, 1 receiving) and Montee Ball, the rookie back who has fumbled and lost the football 3 times on minimal carries as the back up to Knowshon.

Both were immediately benched for the rest of the game. Presumably not as "punishment," which is an antiquated thought since this is the NFL and not preschool, but so these two couldn't go back on the field and fumble again. 

Ridley and Ball have shown time and time again that they have trouble securing the football. When opposing teams know this, I'd say their efforts at ripping the ball from these RBs loose grips increases about 72.1%. They are a liability on the field and whether it's mental or a flaw in their technique, this isn't going to get any better for these struggling, albeit talented backs.

So far this year, both have had fantasy relevance. Ridley was the 24th player taken on average in ESPN fantasy drafts, and Ball is the highly rated rookie out of Wisconsin and took my #22 RB ranking pre-season, and the player whom many thought was going to be the starter in Denver by this point in the year. He's even been sneaking into some goal line opportunities recently despite his issues. Given their individual hype, both have been a bust so far this year. The final hammer may have fallen on these backs Sunday night, with the fear being that both would be relegated to the bench for the rest of the season. Let's look at each player's situation and see if that's the case.

Starting with Ridley, he is both the more important fantasy player, but also the one in the most jeopardy. Ridley was the undisputed starter for the Patriots, granted with a lot of competition. Shane Vereen has his role as third down back, Brandon Bolden as well, and LeGarrette Blount as a change of pace. Vereen and Bolden have had injury issues throughout the season, but now both are back and healthy. 

This leaves Ridley in the doghouse of Bill Belichick with plenty of viable options to take his place. Belichick, of course, has the gumption to outright bench Ridley for his crew of other runningbacks. Belichick has a system in place on offense with players that are interchangable, unless it's Tom Brady. 

Bolden had a solid game filling in for Ridley running for 58 yards and a TD along with an 11 yard catch. If he can up his game, he is a legitimate threat to take Ridley's spot. 

Vereen will continue to be utilized primarily as a pass catcher, and I'm sure BB will feed him the ball if he's on his rushing game. 

Blount, who had a fumble of his own, isn't really a threat to anyone. 

The positive thing for Ridley is that he is the most talented every down back the Patirots have, and they are looking to win a Super Bowl. Suddenly benching him and limiting the offensive options the Pats have won't help anyone. Belichick has some trick up his sleeve that will help Ridley overcome this issue one way or another. If that's drilling during practice or limiting his touches on the ball, Belichick will pull out all of the stops. Ridley is too important a player for the Pats to become an afterthought, but the primary risk I see is if Bolden has a big game. That could have Bolden and Ridley swap roles.

Ball has been looming over the past couple of weeks. He's fumbled three times on 75 carries, but he's still gotten double digit touches in his last two games; including a 2 TD performance against Kansas City. This whole time Knowshon Moreno has been a destroyer of worlds in fantasy. Currently rated the 7th overall player in fantasy this year, Moreno carried the ball 37 times for 224 yards and a TD on a bruised ankle. While Moreno has been underappreciated all year, he really put his stamp on the starting RB position with that performance. 

Along with Moreno's herculean performance, Ball's latest fumble also paved the way for C.J. Anderson - an undrafted rookie from California - to get some significant action. He's only gotten to line-up next to Petyon in two games this year, but is averaging over 5 yards per carry. Certainly a limited sample size, and no one knows what his ball handling ability is (he almost lost a hand off on Sunday), but there have been positive returns. 

If Moreno can't go (it appears he will) against a weakened Kansas City defense, I would imagine Anderson and Ball will split carries. The Broncos aren't going to give up on Ball, but if his fumbling issues can't be corrected, then there will always be next year for him. Ultimately, barring injury, it doesn't look like Ball will be the primary back in Denver for the rest of the season.

It's interesting that these two backs, in this one game, can have their issues boil over and truly jeopardize their involvement in the team moving forward. That's not to say that there isn't a bit of bad luck on their side (I'm sure Bill Barnwell agrees). Plenty of running backs have fumbled as much as Ridley and Ball. Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Reggie Bush, and Jamaal Charles all have 3 fumbles, but only Peterson has lost all three. Statistically, Ridley and Ball should have had some better fortune on their own team recovering these errors, but at the same time, no one will mistake either of their on-field impact in the same terms of an Adrian Peterson. The mistakes for these two backs are much less forgivable. 

Sorry for all the doom and gloom pre-Thanksgiving. I would have liked to just watch this .gif over and over again. Man, did anyone's afternoon go from awesome to terrible faster than Scott Tolzien?




Carson Palmer, QB - ARZ (40% owned) @ +Philadelphia Eagles 

Good Gawd, it's Carson Palmer! The Cardinals ar 7-4? I had no idea. Palmer has really clicked with Michael Floyd recently and he also has that Larry Fitzgerald guy which has produced back to back 20+ point games. A road game in Philadelphia is a bit tougher than it was earlier in the year, but the potential is still there for Palmer to make this his third straight 20 point day.

Jacoby Jones, WR - BAL (12%) +Pittsburgh Steelers 

A word of warning, there are a lot of Ravens and Steelers on this list. The primary reason is that both of these teams were terrible at the beginning of the year, but are starting to emerge right now. Their Thanksgiving Day game has a lot of talking heads saying the winner of that game will be the favorite for the last playoff spot in the AFC. Go figure! Oh, as for Jones, he's a constant deep threat, and for Flacco to win, he needs to air it out.

Jerricho Cotchery, WR - PIT (35%) v. +Baltimore Ravens 

He's not the most exciting player to own. Antonio Brown is the undisputed big dog in the Steel City, but Cotchery has held his own as the WR2B to Emmanuel Sanders WR2A.

Bernard Pierce, RB - BAL (24%) @ +Pittsburgh Steelers 

Not that Pierce has taken the job from Ray Rice by any stretch, but the run game in Baltimore has been so pathetic that at some point John Harbaugh just has to give Pierce 25 carries and see what he can do, right?

John Carlson, TE - MIN (12%) v. +Chicago Bears 

This Bears defense is atrocious. If Cordarrelle Patterson has 3 catches for 183 yards and 3 TDs I wouldn't be shocked. Look for Carlson to get a lot of play.

Dennis Pitta, TE - BAL (3%) v. +Baltimore Ravens 

A pre-season sleeper pick, Pitta is working his way back to the starting line-up. He participated in walk-throughs on Monday, but isn't expected to be ready for Thursday. Could be a good stash if you're thin at TE.

PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

Benny Cunningham, RB - StL (3%) @ SF

We've been here with Daryl Richardson (fail) and Isaiah Pead (fail), and Zac Stacy (success). I don't expect much from Cunningham on the road in San Francisco. 

THE 1%

C.J. Anderson, RB - DEN (1%) @ +Kansas City Chiefs 

This isn't your Week 10 Chiefs defense. Aside from having a tough time with Denver a couple of weeks ago and two of their best pass rushers picking up knocks, you can't be going into Arrowhead too nervous. Moreno will likely play, but even if he does you have to imagine the coaching staff will look to take it a bit easier on a guy with a bruised ankle that's carried the ball 64 times in the last two games. I'd expect Moreno to have a more "normal" 15 carries and more catches. Anderson and Ball can split the remaining 15, and it's a coin flip rock, paper, scissor from there.

PERSONS OF INTEREST

Julian Edelman, WR - NE (38%), Brandon Bolden, RB - NE (6%), Nate Burleson, WR - DET (23%), Jacob Tamme, TE - DEN (2%), Dennis Johnson, RB - HOU (11%), Tim Wright, WR/TE - TB (17%), Mike Glennon, QB - TB (21%), Cordarrelle Patterson, WR - MIN (18%), Bilal Powell, RB (39%)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 12

Fantasy owners rejoiced Bobby Rainey's Week 11 performance. Fantasy writers rejoiced being able to make easy puns. (si.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 most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

I can honestly say that I don't recall dishing out fantasy football info as well last year as I have this year. Perhaps I've been too generous with my information because as I look ahead to Week 12, I see a lot of FAABulous favorites still available on waivers. Under 50% owned. So, I must wonder to myself if this is indeed the case, then maybe they need the spotlight put back on these fantasy factors. 

Over the past couple of weeks, I've added a Persons of Interest section with previous players that I have mentioned in FAABulous, but now in light of seeing how many of these players are prominently involved in Week 12, it would only make sense to bring it back and build a Week 12 line-up after these undervalued players. Hopefully, this will get most of these players off the Persons of Interest List and into more Yahoo! line-ups.

I was going to base this introduction off of The Purge. A movie that I saw the trailer for and it looked interesting, but more than a couple of people have said the movie is a total disappointment. Paradoxically, this is supposed to be about players that are certainly not disappointments, but since I don't know what this movie is about, nor care I'm pushing forward anyway. Here are your Purge List All-Stars.

Case Keenum, QB - HOU (49% owned) v. JAX

We can all admit. What happened to Case Keenum last week was awkward. Having him benched for the hated Matt Schaub. Schaub getting yelled at by one of the nicest guys in the NFL, Andre Johnson (who, oh by the way, has 1000x more TDs this season with Keenum under center as opposed to Schaub), and all of this orchestrated by the head coach who was recovering from a stroke? It's been that kind of year in Houston, but Keenum is still a strong play against those Jaguars.

Josh McCown, QB - CHI (16%) @ StL

Trust in Trestman! Trust in Trestman!

Bobby Rainey, RB - TB (28%) +Detroit Lions 

Rainey was my The 1% pick for last week, but you added Brian Leonard, didn't you?

Montee Ball, RB - DEN (37%) +New England Patriots 

It's happening! The fear of all Knowshon Moreno owners. Ball, despite being a part a fumble early in the game, managed to plunge himself into the end zone twice against the Chiefs for touchdowns. If Moreno gets those, he has a normal Moreno game. Without them you have 7.90 points. The best thing about Moreno to this point has been his consistency in the offense, but the Broncos seem to be looking to shake that up and get Ball more in the mix.

Donald Brown, RB - IND (27%) +Arizona Cardinals 

He's been better than Trent Richardson for a couple of weeks now, and last week was the official game where Brown is so much more effective than Richardson that you can't really ignore it. A tough match-up with Arizona, but Brown should be addded in all leagues.

Kenny Stills, WR - NO (42%) +Atlanta Falcons 

Have you seen this Falcons team play recently? This isn't just a team that has succumb to injuries, this is an absolute mess of a team. Even being in Atlanta won't help them against a Saints' offense that is out for blood.

Cordarrelle Patterson - MIN (17%) @ GB

Patterson has yet to showcase his offensive potential lining up at the line of scrimmage, but his opportunites should increase in the coming weeks. He started his first game of the year last week, and this week he faces a poor Green Bay secondary.

Marlon Brown, WR - BAL (12%) v. NYJ

Brown does have an injury that needs to be monitored, but if healthy he has shown an ability to use his size to be a great target for Joe Flacco.

Tim Wright, WR/TE - TB (27%) +Detroit Lions 

Tim, I thought we had something. When I picked you as my The 1% and you began showing signs of promise. You looked to have a good relationship with Mike Glennon, and put up two straight weeks of solid perfomances only to fall on your face in Week 10 and 11. Yes, you even hurt me personally when I needed 2.50 points from you that Monday Night in Miami and you netted 1.90. But we can work this out. We still have a future!

Delanie Walker, TE - TEN (22%) +Oakland Raiders 

While not getting as much attention as Jordan Reed in Washington, Walker has been better than Reed. I don't expect that trend to change. His 22% ownership is criminally low.

PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

Brandon LaFell, WR - CAR (25%) +Miami Dolphins 

LaFell has always been inconsistent. With Cam Newton making strides this year, you'd expect LaFell would show some benefits of working with the Big Man, but seems to be the same old LaFell. 

THE 1%

Chris Ogbonnaya, RB - CLE (4%) v. PIT

Oh, those crazy Cleveland Browns. Still putting up a fight with their third string quarterback starting, trading away their former 3rd overall pick in what now looks to be a great deal for them, ignoring their star TE Jordan Cameron for no apparent reason, and now it looks like Ogbonnaya is their starting RB. Pittsburgh has been uncharacteristically shaky against the run this year. He's worth an add.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Looking for a Fight @ UFC 167: GSP v. Hendricks

Johny Hendricks looks to end Georges St-Pierre's reign at welterweight. (scifighting.com)
I mentioned that with the UFC celebrating it's 20 years this week that there's a lot to discuss and review. All networks that cover the UFC as well as the organization itself has done a great job showcasing how far the sport has come along in a short time. There's a lot to digest and a lot to take in, so I highly suggest you go peruse everything places like mmafighting.com and UFC.com have to offer. There is a mega card this weekend, so I'll just pass along a couple of quick thoughts on the UFC and how it's affected my sports fandom then get right to GSP v. Hendricks.

Personally, I first started getting into the UFC the first year after I graduate from college. My best friend from home had apparently gotten into it his senior year with his roommates, so he invited me over for a pay per view. I knew a little about the UFC. Very little. This was probably a couple of months before Roger Huerta's Sports Illustrated cover came out.

I'm a big sports fan, so I was intrigued by a sport that had caught the attention of my friend, who at the time, probably didn't know who Peyton Manning was.

We are sitting in the living room of his apartment, and I just start asking basic questions. Not about the rules, as I thought I'd be able to figure those out, but about the fandom of the UFC.

"Who's the biggest star?"
"Chuck Liddell."

"Who is the biggest fan favorite? The guy everyone likes?"
"Randy Couture."

"Who is your favorite fighter?"
"This up and coming guy, Georges St-Pierre (or how I transcribed it in my mind at the time: George St. Pierre)."

These basic tenants are what started my path to become a UFC fan. I can't remember what really made me decide I'm in on this sport. There wasn't a moment where I realized this sport was for me. What I do remember is just wanting to know about the fighters.

This actually proved to be kind of difficult way back in 2007. There was the Ultimate Fighter, but that didn't show UFC stars fighting. There weren't many options for free fights on YouTube or at UFC.com, and the amount of media (Fox Sports, ESPN, Yahoo!, and such) were barely or non-existent. I've never been a big message board guy, so I wasn't digging a bunker in Sherdog world, just looking around.

Over time though, as my friend and I would order the pay per views and watch them I just couldn't get enough. I quickly acted as my n00b self liking the champs, but as my knowledge of the sport developed I started liking other "non-champs" as well.

Slowly but surely I just kept consuming information. Remembering fights and fighters. Of course also finding a passion for the sport itself. My friend and I also grew up on the WWF. So while the UFC wasn't the spectacle the UFC (except for Dana White) was, I was happy to engage in the realness of the fighters and the storylines that UFC marketing put together. Let's face it, to get into this type of occupation, you probably have an interesting history.

Becoming a fan of the UFC wasn't a matter of getting into it, but rather just opening your eyes to the obvious. This is an exhilarating and thrilling sports event. There isn't a regular season in the UFC, it's the Super Bowl every month.

To this day, when people - notably: my friends who are primarily (not to be sexist, the UFC is fine for the whole family to love) 20-35 year old males - don't like the UFC, don't get it, think it's too slow, or most horridly find it to be homoerotic (another note: this specific person is not my friend he was a friend of a friend) I can't even begin to explain how wrong they are. To have those thoughts while watching the UFC is beyond my realm. I have no idea what these people are watching.

But hey, that's their right. If they're not into it, I'm not going to put them in a gogoplata to make them understand. I just don't get it.

So with the 20th Anniversary approaching and a great card about to take place Saturday night I'll be driving to South Jersey to that same friend's house to have some beer, smoke a cigar, eat some pizza, and watch some fights. Congrats, UFC and thanks.

BREAKDOWN

Johny Hendricks wants to knock out Georges St-Pierre. You don't say? Well, he's going to have to in order to get the belt on Saturday.

It seems every GSP fight is surrounded by the strength of his opponent. What the opponent brings to the table and can do to GSP. The spotlight is on the Champ, but when it comes to the storyline, it's about how GSP's opponent exposes certain risks in GSP's game, thus alluding to a close fight or that shocking potential upset. Kind of like when the Batman movies were always about the villain and never about, you know, Batman. "Hey guys, we got Schwarzenegger to be Dr. Freeze!"

The stance with Hendricks is easy. He might be the hardest pound for pound puncher the UFC has. Regardless of weight class, you don't see people get their consiousness clicked off quite as easily has Hendricks has been able to do in his recent fights. This is one-punch knock out power. No follow up ground and pound, no person that got hit attempting to defend himself. This is punch and goodnight.

Hendricks' power along with his elite wresting is certainly a threat. At this point he's probably better as an all around MMA artist than Josh Koscheck and even Matt Hughes in GSP and Hughes' third fight. I must admit, I wasn't a believer at all in Hendricks until his Carlos Condit fight. He was tenacious, closed ground, and made things difficult for Condit the entire fight. Hendricks ability to continually move forward and threaten his opponents is a unique skill for a UFC fighter, especially once you begin taking on elite competition.

Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch serve as good highlight reel fodder, but let's be honest with those two fighters. Kampmann has made his livelihood getting clocked and either rebounding or not to win/lose a fight and Fitch just lost to Josh Berkmann. Neither were equipped with the proper tools to defend against Hendricks' assault while standing. GSP has great striking defense, and it doesn't translate to an easy target for Hendricks and his left hook.

We know the wrestling is there for Hendricks, but we also know GSP has some of the best MMA wrestling in the UFC. He's done well against every fighter, including collegiate champs like Koscheck. It is worth noting though that GSP did have to work harder for those take downs the second time against Koscheck.

Hendricks won't eliminate GSP's wrestling, but he will be able to neutralize it greatly. For that reason, I'm expecting this to be much more of a stand up battle early on. Hendricks will look to pressure and challenge GSP, and GSP will look to utilize his jab and leg kicks to attempt to keep Hendricks at bay.

Hendricks' dogged approach and seemingly reckless ability to keep moving forward does present a challenge for GSP, but GSP also has a devastating jab to work with a 7 inch reach advantage against the stocky Hendricks. Hendricks may want to come forward and be aggressive, but GSP has the physical capabilities to make it hard for Hendricks to get near GSP without incurring a lot of damage. Not to go back to Koscheck again, but that fight was a mighty struggle for Kos once GSP popped his orbital bone. This is something Hendricks cannot take lightly.

Furthermore, in regards to GSP's offensive attack, I expect him to be able to maintain distance, force Hendricks to be highly active and be able to stay away from sustaining major damage. The main thing GSP has to keep in mind that when he looks to counter Hendricks, that Hendricks will keep moving forward. When GSP was rocked by Carlos Condit, it was the result of Condit throwing a two punch combo he had probably thrown a dozen times by that point in the fight, however the time he caught GSP, he finished off that two punch combo with a head kick. GSP had expected the same combo, dropped his hands, and got caught. Hendricks will throw multiple punch combinations and won't stop at one or two, but use his power to force his way inside by throwing three or four punch combos to close the distance. This is something GSP has to be cautious of and not be too aggressive in his counter striking.

For GSP to win, I expect him to be highly elusive from Hendricks and utilize his great jab and leg kicks to attempt to quickly tire the #1 contender.

Speaking of that jab, I had an idea yesterday while I was reading up on coverage of the fight. GSP seems to be keeping back a "secret" that he is looking to show off tonight. Speculation has been that this is a possible retirement, rekindling a super fight, or movies or whatever. People have also positioned this secret to happen post-fight, but I think GSP's surprise is a strategy he will utilize against Hendricks to catch him off guard. I think he's going to come out fighting southpaw style. Call it the reverse Rocky II strategy.

Think about it. GSP's striking is dynamic, but when he does fight orthodox, he doesn't typically fight in a standard muay thai stance, which is more upright and tall in order to better utilize leg kicks and avoid incoming strikes. His stance is based in his karate background with some wrestling modifications. This leaves his base wide, but also keeps his head right in the pocket - even leaning forward a bit. He's been clipped multiple times in the nose and forehead against BJ Penn and Koscheck and Condit as a result.

Standing in a southpaw stance keeps him in a better defensive stance against Hendricks' left hand and will certainly disorient a fighter that is expecting to fight an orthodox fighter. In boxing particularly, where the jab is so highly utilized, many trainers have suggested moving to a southpaw stance because if you're throwing your jab, why wouldn't you use your stronger limb to deliver those blows? I'm sure GSP's jab with his right hand doesn't lose any mustard when he throws it. Even during the weigh-ins yesterday, did GSP give away his secret? He started orthodox then jump switched to his southpaw stance with a smile on his face. Granted GSP usually lines up this way for face offs, but the jump switch struck me as interesting.

GSP lined up in his southpaw stance last night.
Wouldn't this be such a GSP thing to do? He always unveils a new trick. Something he's practiced thousands of time at Tri Star. Away from cameras rolling or reporters reporting.

I think GSP looks extremely focused or even obsess with this fight. In interviews, he doesn't look stoic or frustrated like he did leading up in his last couple of fights, he looks energized. I think Hendricks will struggle to get a hold of GSP in the ring and will incur a lot of damage trying to get to him. As the fight wears on, Hendricks will move a bit slower. If he tries to shoot in and take down GSP early, then you know he's in trouble.

GSP will take his normal calculated approach, but Hendricks will put up a fight and put himself in harms way more than previous challengers. GSP may not have knock out power, but his strikes are damaging. GSP will never move away from his takedowns because it's an important part of his striking game and keeping his opponents guessing, but I don't think he'll lean heavily on the takedowns until the third round. As Hendricks tires, he will expose that and utilize his MMA wrestling and jiu jitsu.

GSP wants a finish and fans have been waiting for a virtuoso performance, and I think accomplishes both tonight. GSP by rear naked choke in the 4th round.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

UFC: 20 Years

Matt Hughes takes on B.J. Penn. (kickassmma.com)

There's a lot of reasons I love the UFC. As it reaches the 20th anniversary, set to culminate on Saturday at UFC 167 in Las Vegas, there have been multiple media outlets and the UFC themselves parading out some of the greatest of. A retrospective for a 20 year-old sport seems premature, but at the same time the growth and story of the UFC amazing enough that it needs to be documented. I don't have the time or wherewithal to dive deep into my history with the sport, but I'm sure I'll share a couple of thoughts in my Looking for a Fight column later this week when I discuss the Georges St-Pierre v. Johny Hendricks fight, but for now, I wanted to pass along a quick ranking I did on ESPN.com for the best UFC fighters over the past 20 years.

My rankings are also listed below, and you can vote for your own selections as well.

SportsNation RankingsPoints#1 VotesYour Rankings
1.Anderson Silva63123031.Anderson Silva
2.Georges St-Pierre5552892.Georges St-Pierre
3.Jon Jones52561013.Jon Jones
4.Chuck Liddell4478434.Chuck Liddell
5.Randy Couture3933315.Matt Hughes
6.Royce Gracie3762656.Randy Couture
7.Matt Hughes293877.B.J. Penn
8.B.J. Penn268348.Tito Ortiz
9.Tito Ortiz258859.Royce Gracie
10.Frank Shamrock2260410.Mark Coleman
11.Mark Coleman1407611.Frank Shamrock

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 11

Eagles' WR Riley Cooper apologizing for using a racial slur before the 2013 season. (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 most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: 

Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

I do my best to avoid preaching on here. Without a proper dialogue, anything that rubs someone the wrong way nowadays can be misconstrued, taken out of context, and tossed as kindling and catches fire that burns a flame of controversy whose ember never dampens. 

Last night, the NFL had the misfortune of putting the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football a week after the world's microscope has been focused on them for abusive behavior that reached a point where starting tackle Jonathan Martin left the team. The main culprit in this abuse was starting guard Richie Incognito. 

This has been a #HotSportsTake to say the least bringing in all aspects of race, bullying, football culture, warrior culture, leadership, and anything else that talking heads on sports television and radio want to stoke the flames with. What makes this so interesting is that the people talking about this Dolphins situation all have different perspectives. Some are current and former football players, some are writers, some are bloggers, some are investigative reporters, some are lawyers, some are members of Dolphins' brass, some are parents and normal everyday people.
Yes, what has made this such a BIG DEAL is that everyone is able to chime in. Furthermore, everyone can look at this from their own perspective and have their own opinion, and the tricky part is that no one is really wrong.

Each person that has their own opinions is entitled to them, but everyone has to realize that personal experiences dictate how you'll look at this or any siutation. I put the quote from A Few Good Men at the beginning of the article to show how different opinions contradict different views. While Col. Jessup was doing what was best for his country, all Kaffee was doing was defending two potentially innocent Marines who followed orders.

Ultimately Jessup was arrested and charged for ordering the "code red" but he didn't think he was wrong. From his unique experience that Kaffee's Harvard mouth could never understand is the brutality and real life decisions that take place within the Marine core.

Everyone wants to be omipotent and speak on behalf of everyone when it comes to having an opinion. No one wants to be wrong in their opinion or seem ignorant for how someone else might feel. Well, we don't live in a utilitarian society. Never have and never will. People are allowed to express their feelings and can make it a personal one.

As this investigation develops, there has already been special committees and investigations launched. People will probably lose their jobs. There is punishment to be dealt and policies to be reviewed. There is a common need to not want a situation like this to happen again, but attempts to understand what happened or cancel out the so-called warrior mentality and culture that probably floods NFL locker rooms is something maybe we don't want to know. Maybe we want to praise performances and commend players on the field, but seeing first hand what it takes to become that player is too dark for a Sunday afternoon.

These back corridors of society where the elite occupy aren't happy and care free. They are brutal and competitive and stressful. It's easy to paint Jonathan Martin as a victim because that's probably how most people respond to hearing this story. The only place you hear differing opinions are among the players that know that world the best. It seems odd that while many players voiced displeasure during Riley Cooper's incident earlier this year, a seemingly worse incident with Incognito is getting a mixed reception. Is this because this had more to do with the culture of football as opposed to say at a Kenny Chesney concert? Maybe words used by both Cooper and Incognito were both unacceptable and acceptable in their locker rooms/one-to-one relationship as teammates? These are all aspects of this complex case that can't be unfurled through an investigative report.

In today's message board culture, it's easy to just post a response. It's harder think about why something happened.

The truth of this matter lies deep within the people and the individuals involved in this case. With the generations of football from the NFL level, to college, to high school that breed these types of people. People that have transgressions just like anyone - athelete or not - but maybe have to be hard wired to truly succeed and be an NFL player or a UFC fighter or a CEO or a General or a scientist. Everyone has their own motives and reasons for why something happens. If you're not one of those people, and you try to understand it, you won't. And if you dig deep enough you probably won't like what you find.

Tavon Austin showing some footwork in Week 10. (sportsgrid.com)

Shane Vereen, RB - NE (49% owned) +Carolina Panthers 

Vereen is due back in the fold in New England. This isn't great news for Stevan Ridley owners as Vereen appeared on the cusp of taking over a higher percentage of carries in the New England offense before his injury. As Andre Brown showed us last week, just because you're back from IR doesn't meant your team won't feed you the ball.

Tavon Austin, WR - STL (44%) BYE

By definition, Austin's blow up performance last week was an outlier of a game. Over his past 6 games Austin averaged 1.15 fantasy points per game. He could have scored 75 points against Indy and it wouldn't have made up for all the damages he's caused this year. He has a bye this week, and is facing some pretty solid defenses for the rest of the year, so I'm still not a believer, but in the off chance the guy did finally have the light bulb go on - he's worth an add just to see.

Dennis Johnson, RB - HOU (21%) v OAK

Arian Foster is done for the year and Ben Tate has busted ribs. Johnson looks to be in the fold and get a good amount of touches. Should anything happen to Tate, then Johnson would be the man.

Rashad Jennings, RB - OAK (49%) +Houston Texans 

Our failed fantasy savior is back. After we all hoped Jennings would rescue Maurice Jones-Drew owners only a little while back, he's now firmly entrenched in Oakland with Darren McFadden injured (shock!). If you can't add Andre Brown this week, Jennings is a good and cheaper alternative.

Rishard Matthews, WR - MIA (4%) v SD

He looks to be taking to that slot receiver role very well. Worth a look for this week against the Chargers.

Tyler Eifert, TE - CIN (18%) v CLE

Second on the team in targets last week with Jermaine Gresham out. Of course that could mean something if Andy Dalton isn't your quarterback. The first tight end selected in this past year's draft looks to be rounding into form a bit.

PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

Mark Ingram, RB - NO (16%) v SF

It's nice to see one Alabama running back trying to not be terrible this year. But unlike Austin, where at least there is upside, there isn't much for Ingram this year. He's still mixing things up with Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, and he doesn't have a good match-up next week against the 49ers.

THE 1%

Bobby Rainey, RB - TB (4%) v ATL

I wasn't on the Mike James bandwagon, and he actually looked pretty good filling in for Doug Martin. Rainey looked impressive against a poor Dolphins team, so I wouldn't put too much stock into that overall, but Rainey has the ability to out pace Brian Leonard for snaps.

PERSONS OF INTEREST

Josh McCown, QB - CHI (8%), Jarrett Boykin, WR - GB (44%), Kenny Stills, WR - GB (40%), Mike Tolbert, RB - CAR (37%), Case Keenum, QB - HOU (30%),  Riley Cooper, WR - PHI (49%), Andre Brown, RB - NYG (49%), Donald Brown, RB - IND (16%)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 10

Aaron Rodgers in street clothes is not what fantasy owners wanted to see Monday night. (nbcsports.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 most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

Sometimes I will ask myself why not just write FAABulous on Monday? I usually have more time, and this usually lousy Monday Night Football game is what's keeping me from getting this article up faster. It's a petty complaint I have, but it's quickly rebuffed as I realize things can happen on Monday Night. Not necessarily fantasy altering, but little nuggets here or there. 

Well last night, during an actually interesting MNF game, something very significant happened. On the first drive of the game, Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked and fell on his non-throwing shoulder. He did not return to the game.

There was growing concern this morning. ESPN's omnipotent Adam Schefter just reported that Rodgers has a fractured collar bone and will miss 3 weeks. Not as horrible a blow as many were thinking, but something that requires immediate attention. Gone is a favorable match-up for Rodgers against the Philadelphia Eagles, and with Seneca Wallace as the back-up there's nothing to see here.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago with a slew of injuries all over the field, that having depth is important. Now with a three week absence, and typically owners of the best fantasy quarterback not focusing too much on a QB2 it's time to attack the waiver wire. There's one guy I talked about for the past three weeks that could be of service, but there's also an unlikely candidate that was at Lambeau Monday night.


Jay Cutler says he'll be back 3 weeks ahead of schedule and start Week 10. (bleacherreport.com)
Jay Cutler, QB - CHI (31% owned) v DET

Cutler is reportedly coming back next week. I mentioned last week, that I Trust in Trestman so I was rewarded with a  stellar performance by Josh McCown. Both are intriguing options if you are a Rodgers owner, but you can get creative as Yahoo!'s Andy Behrens tweeted out last night.


Now that it is being reported that Rodgers is only out for 3 weeks, this is still useful info, but I doubt anyone has the FAAB/waiver priority to snag both quarterbacks.


Jake Locker, QB - TEN (37%) +Jacksonville Jaguars 

The beauty about Locker is that he has a high floor. The only time he put up less than double digit points was Week 1 against the Steelers. He doesn't turn the ball over and can run a little. These all equate to a safe 12-15 fantasy points. If you're team is stacked and you're confident in your offense, Locker presents a conservative add.

Case Keenum, QB - HOU (11%) @ ARZ

Case Keenum! Kevin Kolb has nothing on you! I gave Keenum a brief mention last week, but he deserves a full couple of sentences now. I'll say this, Keenum is why I dislike college football. The guy is the all-time leader in passing yards (by 2,000 yards by the way) and he can barely get an NFL job. I mean look at this list of Hall of Famers. Liking college football and liking the NFL is a non-sequitur. They play the same sport by name and there might be some similar positions and rules, but everything else is a disconnect. Keenum has looked good though, but he has a tough match-up in Arizona.

Andre Brown, RB - NYG (37%) v OAK

He's ready to be activated, but I would expect him to get going a bit slowly. Brown was basically the same as David Wilson statistically last year, but with Peyton Hillis still operating somewhat well, there's no push to get Brown going from day one. 

Riley Cooper, WR - PHI (9%) @GB

Foles is presumably starting next week in Green Bay, and he and Cooper have a great relationship on the field and it's shown. The two biggest games of his career have been with Foles under center, and you can never overlook how a new quarterback runs an offense. His tendencies and ability can open the door for some potential solid fantasy plays.  Also, he has to be breathing a sigh of relief that he's no longer the most hated player in the NFL. Although, I wouldn't exactly be sending Richie Incognito a thank you card.

TE du jour

One of the more overlooked injuries in a crazy week of shenanigans on and off the field is Kyle Rudolph. He hasn't been as good as advertised, but at this point with him out and anyone that owns him was probably twiddling their thumbs and hesitant to make a move, well now is the time. I mention a lot of TE here, so without beating a dead horse, there are two TE widely available in my Persons of Interest section I would go after. 


PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

Mike Brown, WR - JAX (11%) v TEN

So, Justin Blackmon gets suspended again for drugs and now everyone is flocking to Mike Brown? No. Just no. Oh, and by the way, if anyone ever complains about how Dez Bryant got passed on by all of these teams, this is the reason. Blackmon was selected 5th overall and has certainly been a bigger headache than he's worth for the Jaguars. 

THE 1%

Andrew Hawkins, WR - CIN (2%) +Baltimore Ravens 
FAABulous favorite Andrew Hawkins is back! He can fit in perfectly for what the Bengals need as a slot receiver who can take short passes and make big plays out of them. Depending on his health and what Marvin Lewis wants to do with Gio Bernard, this could be a great add.

And yes, we are at the point of the year where I'm upping the ownership to less than 5%.

PERSONS OF INTEREST

Nick Foles, QB - PHI (12%), Chris Ivory, NYJ - RB (45%), Mike Tolbert, RB - CAR (37%), Aaron Dobson, WR - NE (35%), Tim Wright, WR/TE - TB (11%), Marlon Brown, WR - BAL (10%), Colby Fleener, TE - IND (50%)