Well, folks, we learned quite a bit this past weekend. One thing is for certain: The Patriots and Tom Brady have plenty of life left in them. They’re also have classy cheerleaders, who donned Devon Still‘s jersey in support of his cancer-stricken four year old daughter, Leah. It brought tears to Still’s eye on the sideline and reminded us all to be #LeahStrong.
We also learned that Aaron Rodgers is back in the groove and up to his old mischief. He is simply unbelievable. How does someone in such a pass-happy NFL throw so many touchdowns and just ONE interception? Speaking of touchdowns, we learned that Peyton Manning is good at what he does. Manning threw his 500, 501, 502 and 503 touchdown this past Sunday, leaving him five shy of Brett Favre‘s record. Will he break it this week?
The Saints have a much needed bye this week. They had to fight back to beat the lowly Tampa Bay Suck-a-neers and Rob Ryan’s future has to be in question. The Kansas City Chiefs also have a rest week as they recover from a tough loss at San Francisco. That leaves 15 games on the menu. Which are the ones we should watch closest? That’s what I’m here for!
Week two in the NFL was highlighted by a bunch of lowlifes. Adrian Peterson stole the show with his child negligence, but Greg Hardy wouldn’t let him have the limelight all to himself. Then Ray Rice jumped in and is appealing his suspension. All three need to just go away for a little while, because if the NFL Network and ESPN can stop talking about them, we may all realize that there has been some awesome football going down thus far in 2014.
Seven undefeated teams remain after week two, and the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals are amongst them. There are also seven teams who have yet to win a game, with the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints surprisingly headlining that list. Week two was full of exciting comebacks by the Packers, Bears and Browns, had the best defensive player in the game catch a touchdown, and watched Antonio Gates rejuvenate himself in dominating the defending champs.
How does week three top all of that? One thing is for certain. I can’t wait to find out!
We are a few days away from the start of the greatest six months of the year. We tolerated a Stanley Cup Final, managed to get through the NBA Finals and are just about through with the marathon that baseball season is, and our ultimate reward is the beauty of NFL football. It all gets underway this Thursday at 8:30 PM when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle for a bout with the defending World Champs. One of the premiere defenses in football takes on The Discount Double Check and one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. It’s like football porn.
If we learned one thing from me and my group of NFL prediction makers (more endearingly known as The Thread), it’s that we aren’t very good at predictions. So, instead of trying to predict what the future holds five months from now, Wayniac Nation is going with a simpler approach… or at least one that makes us look less like a group of monkeys making uneducated guesses, which would, in fact, be one hell of a blog in itself, but that’s for another time. But I digress. Without further ado:
THE TOP THREE THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN WEEK ONE OF THE NFL SEASON:
3. The Post Ralph Wilson Era of Buffalo Bills football begins in Chicago.
When the NFL opens its season Thursday, it will be the first time since the AFL/NFL merger that Ralph Wilson won’t be a part of it. Since 1959, Wilson and the Bills were synonymous with AFC football and now the new era begins. The team is in flux as there is a battle over who the new ownership will be. Will the Bills move to Canada? Will feather-haired, denim-wearing, 80s pop icon, Jon Bon Jovi by the team and give it a shot (WHOOOOOAAAA he’s halfway there)? No one knows for sure, but here’s what we do know. The Bills, on paper, look like a terrible team. EJ Manuel may be the worst starting quarterback in football. The majority of this team, like Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, are much like their coaching staff: young and inexperienced in the NFL. Teams have rallied around disasters before (see the Boston Red Sox) and with the passing of the man who bares the name of their own home field, the Bills may be poised to make some noise this season. Starting things off right against a highly touted Chicago Bears team would be a great start.
2. Jay Gruden takes over the Washington Politically Incorrects.
Mike Shanahan’s tenure in the Capitol City ends with a whimper on the heels of a 3-13 season. Shanahan, who’s four year reign in DC ended with a 24-40 overall record, did nothing to change my mind that he is one of the most over rated coaches in the history of the NFL. Shanahan was heralded as the architect who finally brought Denver their long awaited Lombardi Trophy, but the reality was is he was surrounded by Hall of Fame talent. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe were two of the best ever at their positions and Terrell Davis was the best running back in the game at the time. Shanahan and his power happy, run heavy offensive schemes didn’t seem like the right fight for a player as dynamic as Robert Griffin III. Maybe that’s why he kept playing him on a torn ACL? Anyway, now the one time Arena Football League MVP (no lie) Jay Gruden is at the helms. Considering this is the guy that just made Andy Dalton a multi-gazillionaire, I think what he can pull off with RGIII and his bevy of talented receivers that are all finally healthy or on new contracts will be exciting to watch. Unfortunately, they kick things off against my beloved Texans, and while I think they will win, I sure hope they don’t.
1. Peyton gets some Luck on the first Sunday Night Football matchup of the year.
Andrew Luck is fourteen years younger than Peyton Manning, but they will be forever linked. Manning, arguably the greatest Colt to ever suit up (sorry Johnny U), and his heir apparent go head to head for the second time this coming Sunday. Last season, Peyton Manning got his Denver Broncos out to a 6-0 start by amassing 265 points over their first six games. This guy threw SEVEN touchdowns in a game and heading into Week 7 of the season, Manning had 22 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Right when everyone was saying this team was unstoppable, right when the undefeated talks really started to pick up steam, the Colts “next Peyton” Andrew Luck wanted nothing to do with it. Luck went out and amassed four total touchdowns and the Colts defense did just enough to hold off Denver’s fourth quarter run for the victory. With the bitter taste from his Super Bowl loss last season, and revenge on the mind against his one-time Colts, we can only imagine what Peyton has in store. Last year, he had seven touchdowns on opening night. What can he and Luck give us from the Mile High City this year?
Game of the Week: Thursday’s matchup between Aaron Rodgers and his Packers and Russell Wilson and his Seahawks will certainly be exciting. As I just mentioned, any time that Luck and Manning face off will always be highly anticipated and full of action. The Wayniac Nation Game of the Week for week one has bigger implications than those two games, however. Fresh off their acting debuts on Hard Knocks, Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones are armed and ready to prove last season was a fluke and that they are in fact way less boring of a team than they portrayed on Hard Knocks. Drew Brees has some new toys to play with, but he has his biggest and best one (Jimmy Graham) ready to go and earn even more money than he just got paid. This isn’t simply a marquee matchup of two good teams. This game can lay the foundation of how the NFC South will be won.
Survivor Pool Pick of the Week: Every year I enter the infamous Beat The Pooch survivor pool and every year I seem to go home empty handed by week three. That being said, there are two ways to approach a survivor pool. One way is to just take the best matchup and not care about saving the good teams for later on in the season. The other approach is to gamble and take a team that no one else will pick, leaving you all of the good teams for an end run. So, if you want to play it safe, the San Francisco 49ers against that horrid Dallas defense should be a lock for week one, even giving up the five points. But if you got a little gamble in you, I really like the Vikings covering on the road against the Rams. If Bradford was there it would be another story, but I don’t see Shaun Hill keeping this team on the field long enough to keep Adrian Peterson off of it.
Alrighty, folks. That’s week one in a nutshell. So, rest up and get ready. Kickoff is just days away!
A few days ago, Wayniac Nation brought you the Inaugural WN Fantasy Football Report answering 5 Burning Questions for the 2014 Fantasy Season.Today, we will break it down further and bring you our picks for the MVP, some breakout stars, some busts and some rookies you may want to gamble on. First, you need to meet the Wayniac Nation Fantasy Experts.
Nomi the Greek is a member of The Thread and commissioner of The Brookhaven Fantasy Football League (BFFL) that I joined last season. He is a die hard Atlanta Falcons fan and knows the NFL up and down. Sperry is a member of both The Thread and the BFFL as well, although he will be taking a one year hiatus in his pursuit of law schools and a career. Damn higher learning, see where it gets you? Still, one year removed from being champion of the BFFL, Sperry has agreed to chip in on some fantasy advice. You probably remember Saucy T as Wayniac Nation’s NFL Draft expert and his first annual Mason’s Mock Draft. He is also the commissioner of his own league, THE LEAGUE (which Nomi the Greek is currently reigning champion of), and member of the BFFL. Benny Smalls is reigning champion of my 17-year league, The Nitro League. He defeated me last season as I went for back-to-back championships. Anyone who wins the coveted Nitro Trophy is worth listening to for some sound advice. Wayniac Nation’s golf expert, Mike Dunton, is also a member of The Nitro League. His name is on the trophy as well, and would have been even more if I hadn’t beaten him for my first championship back in 2005. Fee is the Commissioner of The Nitro League. He hasn’t won a championship since 1999, however, his team strung together one of the longest playoff appearance streaks in our league history. His Swami Squad has the distinct honor of running into the hottest team every post season. JD is my team mate in fantasy baseball. He also joined our Old School Football League three years ago and was in the championship game a mere one year later. Mike Cochran is the single greatest fantasy sport mind I know. I am in two of his baseball leagues and The Old School Football League with him for 11 years. He easily has close to 20 combined championships over that time. He will be the first to tell you that I would have at least three more championships in fantasy sports if it weren’t for him. He has knocked me out in the semi-finals or finals in three of the last four years. Ted Reed is not in any leagues with me, but has worked with me for the last three years and we talk fantasy football every day… even during baseball season. He is the reigning champion of his league and his 2014 draft is underway. Cavadi #2 is my brother Jonathan. We teamed several years ago to form the powerhouse Gumbel-2-Gumbel but that was the only year we have ever played together.
Now, that we are all acquainted, let’s get to it:
Nomi the Greek (reigning THE LEAGUE champion)
Fantasy MVP: Peyton Manning. If he has a season where he puts up 75% of last years stats, he is a fantasy stud. Fantasy ROY: I like Teddy Bridgewater a lot….. if he plays. I’ll go with Jordan Matthews. He has the size and speed to be an elite receiver in the NFL. Chip Kelly’s offensive system is also going to help Jordan. Biggest Bust: Rookie: Odell Beckham, Jr. is my guy here. He has all the tools and talents to be great. He has one problem though. He doesn’t seem to want to play through any pain and Tom Coughlin, historically, doesn’t seem to care much for players who can’t tough out small injuries. Veteran: Eric Decker. Geno Smith is not Peyton Manning. Do I need to continue? First non-running back taken: Calvin Johnson in a PPR league. He is Matt Stafford’s favorite weapon in a very pass happy offense.
Sperry (the doesn’t even play fantasy fantasy expert)
MVP: Jamaal Charles. His ceiling will get even higher this season when Aaron Murray takes over at QB in week 6. Rookie of the Year: I think Brandin Cooks and Drew Brees are going to get on the same page and thrash some coverages. You know what? Scrap that. SAMMY WATKINS! Having the most talent and being, virtually, the only option I say he explodes in Buffalo and makes EJ look like a Pro Bowler (not really). Biggest Bust: I love Beast Mode, but something isn’t sitting right with me about him this year. It might be the hold out. It might be the gifted young RB nipping at his heels. Whatever it is I would not take Marshawn as high as you would have to. Best Comeback: I am going with Jay Cutler. I have bet on him in the past and he has let me down, but I think this just might be the year that he puts it all together. Breakthrough: I want to be different here, but I just can’t see anyone having a bigger breakout year than Montee Ball. With light boxes all year Ball will be able to imitate Knowshon’s success from last season. First Non-RB: Megatron. Megatron. Megatron. If it is not Calvin Johnson, then I would want to be in whatever league that is seeing as how you could probably get Jimmy Graham in round two. Sleeper:Ladarius Green isn’t a name that most of your buddies will know offhand, but it should be. 6 feet 6 inches of 4.5 running goodness coming off the line for Phillip Rivers to play long ball catch with. He could very well be Jimmy Graham before he was Jimmy Graham.
Saucy T (fantasy legend and Wayniac Nation NFL Draft expert)
Fantasy MVP: Calvin Johnson. Megatron played the last month or two of last season injured and playing through it still managed to be a top 3 fantasy receiver. Fantasy Rookie of the Year: Carlos Hyde. I don’t love this rookie classes for fantasy purposes, but if I had to pick one I would take my chances with the most talented RB in this class who’s playing behind a RB past his prime on one of the most run heavy teams. Biggest Bust: Arian Foster. Sorry Wayne, but I don’t know that he can stay healthy and if the Texans are 1-4, what reason does he have to play through it? Breakout Candidate:Michael Floyd. Larry Fitzgerald is still a great receiver, but if you look at their numbers after the bye week last year, Floyd started to become Arizona’s number one. Sleeper: Travis Kelce. Kelce is a Gronk-lite playing in Andy Reid‘s pass happy system on a team who’s RB was their leading pass catcher last year. I expect Kelce to challenge Charles for that honor this year.
I think Megatron is first non QB to go. I’d say pick 7 in standard, pick 5 in PPR
Bounceback: Roddy White. Maybe it’s the homer in me, but I could see Roddy having a 90 catch, 1200 yard bounce back.
Benny Smalls (reigning Nitro champ)
Fantasy MVP: Adrian Peterson – All Day has been consistently atop the rankings for the past few years. ROY: Brandin Cooks – speed, catching ability and a dangerous weapon throwing to him. Biggest bust: Le’Veon Bell – he’ll still be productive, but Blount will pull from his numbers. Best comeback candidate: RGIII – weapons to throw to, no knee brace & options in the backfield…lets not forget how scary good he was prior to his injury. Breakthrough candidate: Monte Ball – the backfield is all his and Manning takes pressure off any RB as D’s will have a hard time stacking the box against him. First non RB taken and when: Unless folks draft with their hearts, the smart pick here is Calvin Johnson at 5 – guaranteed production. Taking a qb seems risky, can’t waste this on a Eddie Lacy, only other option would be Jimmy Graham at 5. Biggest sleeper: Since I rarely discuss any fantasy anything with folks in my league I am hesitant to answer this question more than the others…HOWEVER, in an effort to support The Wayniac’s Fantasy Edition…I will go with Kai Forbath!
Mike Dunton (my 17-year arch rival in Nitro)
Fantasy MVP: Petyon Manning. This could be Peyton’s last ride in Denver and it’s Super Bowl or bust for these Broncs. Rookie of the Year: Sound like a homer here but I’m going with Eric Ebron. This guy is on a team of offensive weapons and he may become Matthew Stafford‘s second favorite target. Biggest Bust: Cam Newton. He will be taken way too early in drafts, he has no WR’s and this ankle thing bothers me. Best Comeback: Roddy White or Julio Jones are great candidates but that Atlanta offensive line scares me. So with that being said, I’m going with Jay Cutler. He has weapon upon weapon and a healthy Jay Cutler could put up numbers similar to Aaron and Drew. First Non RB Taken: Our league is known to be non traditional. Don’t be surprised if the first non RB taken happens at #2 when Swami Squad picks. Back to back Jimmy Graham years? I would not put it past them.
Fee (The Commish of Nitro, playoff regular)
Fantasy MVP: Aaron Rodgers Fantasy ROY: Sammy Watkins Biggest Bust: Cam Newton Best Comeback: Roddy White First Non-RB taken: Peyton Manning – 1st round Biggest Sleeper: Lamar Miller
JD (my fantasy baseball team mate and fantasy football guru)
MVP: LeSean McCoy ROY: Sammy Watkins Best Comeback: Julio Jones Biggest Breakthrough: Toby Gerhart First Non-RB Taken: Peyton Manning Sleeper: Ladarius Green
Cochran (the greatest living fantasy sports player alive) MVP: Aaron Rodgers or Jamaal Charles depending on scoring (4 points vs. 6 points QB touchdowns) ROY: Mike Evans, but Blake Bortles if he gets the job Biggest Bust: Reggie Bush Best Comeback: Julio Jones Biggest Breakthrough: Ben Tate or Montee Ball. Tate may be crazy good this year. First Non-RB Taken: Megatron at sixth pick Sleeper: Toby Gerhart
Ted Reed (Reigning champ of Braxton’s Shoulder League)
MVP: Peyton Manning ROY: Bishop Sankey Biggest Bust: Steven Jackson (again!) Best Comeback: Julio Jones Biggest Breakthrough: Josh McCown First Non-RB Taken: Peyton Manning anywhere between 4th and 7th Sleeper: Eric Ebron
Jonathan (My brother and only guy I know in a 14-team keeper league)
Fantasy MVP: Peyton Manning (and nfl MVP) Fantasy ROY: Carlos Hyde Biggest Bust: Arian Foster if you get him Round 1 or 2, Victor Cruz if Round 3 Best Comeback: Julio Jones Breakthrough: Dennis Pitta First non-RB: Peyton at 6 in a Standard scoring league, but Megatron at 4 in a PPR Sleeper: Kyle Rudolph – all Norv Turner does is make 1,000+ yard TEs (Cooley, Gates, Cameron)
And last but not least, The Wayniac:
Fantasy MVP: Peyton Manning. Ball may turn out better than Knowshon Moreno and Emmanuel Sanders could be better than Eric Decker. Fantasy ROY: Johnny Manziel. Oh come on, people, you know I think this guy is a bum. I really like Mike Evans down in Tampa. Biggest Bust: Colin Kaepernick. No way this guy remains a Top Ten QB for much longer. Best Comeback: Percy Harvin. If he stays healthy he is one of the most dynamic players on the field. Breakthrough: I’m going homer here. I don’t care if it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, DeAndre Hopkins is going to make a huge jump this season. He had a pretty good rookie campaign playing catch with three different QBs and no steady offensive personnel. First Non-RB Taken: I honestly think Peyton should go number one overall, but I don’t think the Fantasy world is ready for that. I’m going with Megatron. Sleeper: Gerhart. He’s the only real guy in Jacksonville, and Maurice Jones-Drew led the league in rushing for a terrible Jaguars team a few years back.
It’s that time boys and girls. Fantasy Football drafts have started across the nation. So today marks the first of Wayniac Nation’s Fantasy Football Reports. Each week, we will bring you insights, good starts, better sits and a smorgasbord of information to help you look like a fantasy football genius.
I know what you’re asking yourself. There are millions of fantasy football resources out there, why listen to The Wayniac? It’s justified. What makes me any better than any other fantasy expert? Let’s take a look at the ol’ resume and perhaps I can convince you that out of all the fantasy geeks out there, I am one of the biggest.
I am entering the 17th year in my Nitro League. That’s right, folks, 17 years with essentially the same original owners in a 10-team league. This league is so old it started back when you had to tally scores by hand. We don’t really have bad teams as it is ultra-competitive and has always been more about the trophy and bragging rights than the money. I have been to the last two back-to-back championship games and if I didn’t run into Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson and the Junior Mafia, I would have two wins in a row. I have been in my other league, The Old School Football League, for 10 years. It is a 12-team league that has had essentially the same owners for the bulk of its existence as well. Over the past three seasons, no team has more regular season wins or points than my Fightin’ Blue Hose. Unfortunately, although I have finished in the money all three of those years, I have no rings to show for it as a major injury has derailed me seemingly every Week 15 in the semi-finals. It is your typical scoring league and in the history of the league only four times has a team broken the 200 point barrier. Three of those times were the Fightin’ Blue Hose. Last year I joined a third league run by Nomi the Greek and has every member of The Thread in it. The Englishman is the reigning champ in his first year ever of fantasy football.
Am I bragging a little bit? Sure, but I also want you to know that I do have an idea about how this fantasy thing works. I also bring you insight to how to succeed in a 10-team league as well as a deeper 12-team league. My panel of Wayniac Nation Fantasy Experts that I have put together is an All Star selection of people who I have run in fantasy circles with for nearly the last two decades.
Later this week, we will bring you insight to key players and busts to look out for, but first let me take a selfie.
No, seriously, folks, before we get into player breakdowns, we need to first answer THE TOP FIVE BURNING QUESTIONS COMING INTO THE 2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASON.
5. When will the first non-running back come off the board?
This is an entirely new fantasy football era and the conversion from running back heavy teams to dominating through the air is complete. That being said, AP, Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles will be the first four off the board (in no particular order). I personally don’t see a running back worth taking after the Big Four until the second round. Wide receivers, especially in PPR (point per reception for those not savvy) formats are way more valuable in the right system, and the way quarterbacks amass forty to fifty point Sundays makes a few first round worthy.
4. Can Peyton Manning come close to last year’s production?
Of course not. Peyton Manning set records last season and had the single greatest season for a quarterback in fantasy and NFL history. It’s a lot like watching Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. You knew no matter what, you were watching the best he had to offer and nothing would ever again match that. Now, I’m not suggesting Peyton Manning numbers are going to fall off the way Keanu Reeve’s acting abilities have (Johnny Mnemonic, anyone?), but you do have to tame your expectations. While the Broncos lost Eric Decker when he unforgivably signed his career away to the New York Haven’t Had a Legitimate QB in a Decade Jets, they brought in an even better Emmanuel Sanders so the offense won’t miss a beat. They did also bulk up their defense with big names like Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware. That means more ball control and less shootouts for Manning. While his numbers will be down to human level, he is still the best QB fantasy has to offer and may even be in consideration for the fifth overall pick. Plus, he’s already a better actor than Keanu Reeves.
3. Who do you consider at running back once the big four are off the board?
I have already said that after McCoy, Charles, Forte and All Day AP are gone, I really feel this is the season that running backs get put on the back burner. But if you insist on being a traditionalist (also known as The Guy Who Finishes Last) and feel you must pick an RB in the first round then there is only one choice. As much as I love Marshawn Lynch and his Beast Mode, I don’t feel he is first round worthy this year. That is based on his past. He held out a few days for a bigger contract and made it open that he considered retirement. When he wanted out of Buffalo, he played like he didn’t care, and with Seattle’s deep arsenal of RBs, we may easily see that down season from Lynch. So if you must take an RB, you go with Eddie Lacy. The guy is a total beast and will have a full season with Aaron Rodgers for the first time in his career. This is a kid with potential for a 2,000 total yard season in that offense, however, I don’t think that season is 2014.
2. Where is the best place to look for top fantasy advice?
Wayniac Nation, of course. Seriously though, the simple answer is your notes. If you are reading this blog, you are most likely competitive enough that you are beyond the casual twenty dollar “for fun” fantasy league. If you aren’t already, you need to become your own fantasy expert. The best thing to do for starters is to grab a few friends and do some mock drafts on (I can’t believe I am saying anything positive about these shlubs) ESPN. Secondly, do some research on ADP (that’s the average draft pick of a specific player for you newbies). A lot of leagues will have a draft lottery weeks before the draft. Once you know your spot, you can begin researching what players are most commonly going in that location. You can also do your own mock drafts from that slot and practice, practice, practice until you have the team you want. Lastly, and this comes from my own old school mentality, take notes. Make a list of your Top 20 at each position and cross them off as you go. Colin Kaepernick is in everybody’s Top 5 quarterbacks, but this guy would never start on my team. So, my list is going to be very different from other “experts”. So should yours. Nothing sucks more than when you are unprepared and the guy right before you takes the player you had queued. If you are properly prepared with your own notes, you don’t need to spend your minute thirty googling “fantasy advice”!
1. Ok, so who is the first overall pick?
This is a tough question. My Hongbits team in The Nitro League has the first overall pick, so this is something I have been contemplating for some time. All of the big four (again: Charles, Forte, McCoy and AP) are complete studs, yet they all also come with injury risk. All four play for very questionable offenses. Charles’ Kansas City Chiefs are notorious for having a terrible season when following a strong one. While everyone sees Chicago as a legitimate contender this season with a high octane offense, one must remember that Jay Cutler is still at the helms. Was Chip Kelley’s offense for real or was it a flash in the pan like the Wildcat that defenses can now prepare for? And who the heck is going to be the quarterback in Minnesota, Matt Cassell?
That being said, I think there are two ways to go with this pick. If you want the home run hitter, the guy that is capable of getting you 50 points in a game by himself, you go with Charles. He is lightening quick and is a lock for 50 receptions, but can be relied on for over 60 like last season. But if you want to play it safe, the answer is simple. No running back has been more consistent with less talent around him than All Day Adrian Peterson. His lowest touchdown total over the past five seasons is ELEVEN. Last year, despite missing two games and abysmal quarterback play, he still ran for over 1,200 yards. He is not your PPR dream back, but if Teddy Bridgewater takes over, you can be sure there will be a ton of dump offs and last year’s change of pace back, Toby Gerhart, is gone to Jacksonville.
So which direction will I go with my first round pick? I’ll let you stew over it, so be sure to check in weekly for up to date Fantasy Football advice this NFL season!
It’s that magical time of year. The time of year when the grills are afire and the Coors Light are acoolin’. What better way to celebrate dear old dad than with BBQ, beer, and baseball?
Throughout the course of sports history, there have been quite a few powerful gene pools across the major US sports. Every one knows about Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds, and if you don’t, you really need to put down the Dungeons and Dragons and come outside for a little while. The Bonds’ father and son duo combined for 1094 drug induced home runs over their notorious careers and stand as one of the most famous combos of all time. The Griffey’s were so nice, they had to name them twice! Ken and Junior not only combined for 782 home runs themselves, they actual hit back-to-back bombs in the same game. When my dad and I bonded, he snuck me to get ice cream when my mom said I couldn’t have any. These two were bashing back to backers. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad and I love ice cream, but the closest me and my dear old dad came to baseball immortally was when he coached my 3rd grade little league team (which Wayniac Nation’s own Sport Illuminati was a member of 31 years ago!). Keep reading for the newest Father/Son Sports Combos!!!
What a week, folks. There was a lot going on even without football and baseball. Saban grabbed 19 of ESPNs top 50 recruits to form yet again, the top freshman class in the nation. A-Rod came to his senses and dropped the lawsuit, although I still think he’s a jerk and there is something more behind it. Syracuse beat Notre Dame to stay #UNDEFEATACUSE and remain #1 in the land. Lastly, over in Sochi, the most bizarre Olympics to date kicked off with the US, of course, capturing the first gold.
Despite all that, I still rather write about football. With the 2013 NFL season all wrapped up, one thing I learned it’s that I suck at projecting the Super Bowl! All I can say is Wow, tip my cap, and congratulate the Seattle Seahawks. They went out there and totally thrashed the greatest offense of all time. It was the most anticlimactic end to an otherwise exciting season, even worse than the infamous fade to black Sopranos ending. Seriously, the Seahawks had the lead for 59 minutes and 48 seconds. It was total domination.
Enough about Super Bowl XLVIII. It’s in the books. Now we reflect on what was. My Houston Texans were the most overhyped team in years. They were projected to be in the Super Bowl by a lot of experts. I watched every game, folks, and they were literally two or three plays away from an 0-16 season. In the end, Kubiak and his entire regime paid the price. Despite having to endure the worst season I’ve had to sit through as a Texan fan – and that says a lot people – there were a few tidbits I was able to take away from the ’13 season.
WHAT WE LEARNED IN 2013
1. Bill Belicheck is a genius and the best coach in football.
If you believe that there is a correlation between Spygate and Belicheck’s ability to win a Super Bowl, I’ll have the Easter Bunny come pick you up and discuss how the Red Sox were held title-less for 86 years because of a fat, dead Babe Ruth. Look at his resume this millenium: 158 wins, double-digit wins 11 years in a row, 11 AFC East Titles, a 3-2 record over 5 Super Bowls, and an undefeated regular season campaign. It’s not even about the numbers with Belicheck, it’s how he has done it. In the early 2000s, before Brady was merely super human and not a football god, he ran a run first, defensive minded team. Then in 2007, he got new toys he never had before in Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and they went 16-0 as Brady unleashed himself through the air as one of the NFL’s most dominating QBs. This season, he lost his best WR in Welker. He lost the NFLs best TE to multiple injuries and his back-up TE to the penal system. Vereen was down for most of the year, and it seemed he lost a key defender each and every week. He still won 12 games and the AFC East, and he still was on the cusp of making it to the Super Bowl. Belicheck seems to get it done with any combination of players, any style of offense or defense, and as long as he has Brady, even as he begins to decline in talent, the Patriots are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
2. Chip Kelly was better than advertised.
I assume many of you were like me. Entering 2013, I thought Kelly was another great college coach who thought he could change the NFL with his crazy schemes. Through 4 and a half games, the skeptics looked to be right. The Eagles started 1-3, but late in the 2nd quarter of game 5 against the Giants, Nick Foles replaced an injured Michael Vick and changed the Eagles season. They would go 9-3 with Foles at the helm and capture the NFC East title. Kelly helped make Foles the next big QB (2891 yards passing, 27 TD, 2 Int, and a league leading 119.2 QB rating over 10 and a half games). His offense helped return LeSean McCoy to stud-dom as he lead the league in both rushing (1607) and total yards (2146) with 11 combined TDs. The Eagles still have work to do, but Kelly has them going in the right direction.
3. The Dallas Cowboys are a joke.
I’m tired of hearing about these guys. Over the last 10 seasons, they are a mere 87-73 with 2 NFC East titles and a 1-3 playoff record. Compare that to the other team in Texas, the aforementioned under achieving Houston Texans. The Texans have the same amount of division titles and more playoff wins over the same amount of time, and until recently, they have mostly been an afterthought. It’s time the Cowboys are, too. Somehow, the Cowboys are always a “threat” for the NFC East even though they lose out on the last game of the season every year. Tony Romo is always on the verge of becoming and elite QB, but he simply is not. This team is good but needs changes from top to bottom.
4. Megatron… You have company.
Throughout Calvin Johnson’s tenure, there were many good WRs in the NFL. We have even watched quite a few future Hall of Famers like Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. None came close to the sheer talent that Calvin Johnson possesses… until now. Josh Gordon had a spectacular 2013 campaign. What is more remarkable? Was it that he led the league in receiving (1646 yards) in just his second season? Or was it that he did it despite missing the first two games of the season? No, it was that fact that he was the ONLY weapon on a terrible Cleveland Browns offense that provided Gordon with Brandon Weedon, Brian Hoyer, and Jason Campbell behind center. The debates have already begun in fantasy circles. Who is the best WR heading into 2014? It sure will be fun to find out.
5. The Seattle Seahawks 2013 defense is one of the greatest of all time.
Halfway through the third quarter of SB48, Jay Holloway turned to me and asked If you blogged that the 2013 Broncos team was the best offense ever, doesn’t this make the Seahawks the best defense ever? Well, Jay, they certainly have earned the right to be in the conversation. Let’s compare them to what many consider the top defenses of the Super Bowl Era:
1985 Bears: 4,135 yards allowed, 198 points allowed, 61 turnovers, 64 sacks, and 5 TDs 2000 Ravens: 3,967 YA, 165 PA, 58 TOs, 35 sacks, and 1 TD 2002 Bucs: 4,044 YA, 196 PA, 47 TOs, 43 sacks, and 5 TD 1974 Steel Curatin: 3,074 YA, 189 PA, 60 TOs, and 3 TDs
(sacks were not yet an official stat) 2013 Seahawks: 4,378 YA, 231 PA, 57 TOs, 43 sacks, 4 TDs
Their numbers are very comparable. The yards allowed and points allowed are inflated because, let’s face it, it’s a different NFL where offenses rule and defenses can’t hit. You could argue that makes their defense all the more remarkable. What can’t be denied is that the 4 teams listed above won their Super Bowls defeating Tony Eason/ Steve Grogan (Bears), Kerry Collins (Ravens), Rich Gannon (Bucs), and Fran Tarkenton (Steelers). The 2013 Seahawks completely dismantled Peyton Manning, one of the Top 5 QBs of all-time who just completed the single greatest season of all-time. Are they the greatest? Maybe, maybe not, but they are clearly now part of the argument.
Well, there you have it. The 2013 NFL season is officially wrapped up. It’s time to turn our attention to the NBA, college hoops, and the Olympics for a few weeks until the NFL Combine and Spring Training is under way. Until next time, GO ORANGE!!!
Happy Groundhog’s Day, folks! As my home base of Atlanta finally thaws out and returns to normalcy, that little fur ball Phil popped up and saw his shadow. On top of that, my SYRACUSE ORANGE BEAT DUKE AND ARE THE NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE COUNTRY!!! If that all wasn’t enough, today, we get to watch the Super Bowl.
If you have followed my posts this week, you know my thoughts. But a quick recap wouldn’t hurt: Super Bowl in New York = bad idea and Broncos are your Super Bowl champs. This Super Bowl means so much to Peyton, and I think the heart of the warrior brings home the Lombardi Trophy to Denver.
Why does Peyton need to win this Super Bowl? It’s simple. In the NFL, more than any other sport, rings define greatness. Notice I used the plural form. You need multiple rings. In other sports, you can be considered elite without any rings. Take the NBA for example. Many consider that the top Power Forward to ever suit up is either Sir Charles or the Mailman. They have a combined 0 rings, but it’s forgivable because they played during the Jordan Era, and no one could win rings unless you joined the Bulls. Baseball is mostly about statistics. Cal Ripken has one ring and barely even made the playoffs during his career, but many consider him the greatest Short Stop ever. Tony Gwynn never won a ring at all and many baseball enthusiasts will argue he is the purest, most natural hitter of our lifetime. But in the NFL, it’s all about the bling.
Brett Favre will always be in the conversation for the best QB ever, but despite his records, despite his 3 MVPs, most people still think Brady and Montana surpass him. Why? One ring. Jim Kelly led his team to four straight Super Bowls, a feat that in this era of parity, we will never see again. But he didn’t win a single one and he has a hard time breaking a lot of people’s Top Ten. Poor Dan Marino would be the greatest QB ever if he could have just gotten a few Super Bowls. Drew Brees has some of the most insane numbers any QB has ever put up since he joined the Saints and he’s not even in the Top Ten conversation despite his statistics showing otherwise. Why? One ring. One ring is the same amount that Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler, and Jim McMahon have. No offense to those guys, but they are not even in a top 50 conversation.
Two or more rings, though, and all these crazy conversations start. Is Eli Manning elite? Seriously? This guy has two good drives in his life and people start anointing him better than his brother. Come on, people. This is why Peyton Manning needs to win. If he holds up that trophy tonight, not only will one of my good friends, Jay Scott, be thrilled, but Peyton Manning will solidify himself as the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time. It can be supported by opinion, it can be supported by rings, and it can be supported by FACTS. Let’s look at the facts, folks, and stack him up against the other people in the Greatest QB ever argument.
Who is in the argument? Brett Favre, based on rings is eliminated. Dan Marino, who was deprived of any rings, is also out. Bart Starr is hands down a Top Ten QB based on his winning pedigree, but he doesn’t have the numbers to compete, so cross him off. So, for me, that leaves Johnny Unitas, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, and John Elway in the hunt with Peyton for the best ever. Well, last night, while Syracuse was beating Duke to become number one in the land, Peyton took home his fifth MVP. That’s two more than anyone else has ever had and four less than the others in this conversation had combined (Unitas has 3, Montana has 3, Brady has 2, and Elway has 1).
Montana and Brady are in the argument because of how they played in the post season and especially the big game. So despite the fact that if Peyton wins his second ring tonight they will still have one more ring, I still think Peyton will best them. Why? In my opinion, all you need are rings. It doesn’t matter if it’s 2 or 3. Want proof? Terry Bradshaw has four rings and even a drunken Steeler fan knows he’s not the GOAT. So after that, we look at statistics, and Peyton dwarfs them all.
Manning: 64,964 yards at a 65.5% rate, 491 TDs, 219 Ints, 97 QB Rating
Elway: 51,485 yards at a 56.9% rate, 300 TDs, 226 Ints, 79.9% QB Rating
Brady: 49,159 yards at a 63.4% rate, 359 TDs, 134 Ints, 95.7 QB Rating
Montana: 40,551 yards at 63.2% rate, 273 TDs, 139 Ints, 92.3 QB Rating
Unitas: 40,239 yards at 54.6% rate, 290 TDs, 253 Ints, 78.2 QB Rating
(Johnny U only has one Super Bowl ring, but he has two pre-Super Bowl NFL Championships so he is allowed in the conversation)
You can see it’s not even close. If you do happen to be a statistics guy and want to argue Favre, you have a good case… right now. If Peyton’s neck is ok and he gets clearance to return, he will break Favre’s records. The only reason there is even a Greatest QB of All-Time conversation is because of Manning’s post season record and lack of rings. Tonight he can change all of that. Tonight he can cement himself as the greatest of all time.
Well, folks, it’s that time for me to cool off. Enjoy your Super Bowl parties and to my people in the service industry stuck working, make that money. Let’s go Broncos, and remember: CUSE IS NUMBER ONE!!!
Well, folks, it’s Sunday and that means Super Bowl week is officially upon us. It’s a busy week for the sports media, even small bloggers like myself, in keeping up with the whirlwind that ensues. For many, it’s the most fun week of the year, coming to a climax with the world’s biggest game. For the NFL and Roger Goddell, it may become at nightmare.
If you haven’t heard, which means you’re living under a rock or are just too concerned with the collapse of Justin Bieber’s career, Super Bowl XLVIII is being played up north this year. I remember at the beginning of the season everyone I knew was saying What are they thinking? With the game a mere seven days away, people are now saying What WERE they thinking? Aside from the replacement refs and the current concussion debacle, this could end up being football’s biggest mistake yet.
There are several reasons The Meadowlands may have been the wrong choice for the Super Bowl. The weather is the clear and obvious choice for reason numero uno. However, the one decision that was the deciding factor is clear: the almighty dollar. The Super Bowl is the World’s Biggest Game, and New York is certainly the biggest stage to play it on. The money the NFL, New York and New Jersey can profit from a Super Bowl if, and only if, it goes well will probably be enough to build the Statue of Liberty a boyfriend. That money won’t be worth jack if you blow the greatest game on earth. Seriously, think about it. The only event that compares, and perhaps surpasses the Super Bowl, is the World Cup. The last World Cup Final in 2010 had 619.7 million viewers, whereas last years Super Bowl had 108.41 million. However, The World Cup involves every major country in the WORLD and it’s viewers wait four full years to watch it. The Super Bowl is solely an American game, yet is still broadcast in 232 countries. Corporations spend up to $4 million for a 30 second spot in between drives whereas a World Cup commercial caps out at about $450,000. The average pay day for the World Cup has been just north of $100 million. The Super Bowl? The big game has an average yield of $379 million. Every bar and restaurant, not just Irish and English pubs and sports bars, are going to have some sort of promotion going on. And the parties across the nation will seem endless.
So, why would you schedule a Super Bowl in winter time in New Jersey knowing that the weather will be the real 12th man? It is supposed to be cold with highs between 35-40 and the lows that may hit 20. If you have ever been in MetLife Stadium, you know that once the winds start swirling, 20 degrees feels like 0. There is a 30% chance of freezing rain or snow, and NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman has announced the Super Bowl may be played anywhere from Friday to Monday.
Huh? Did I just type that? Super Bowl Sunday may be Super Bowl Friday. IT DOESN’T EVEN SOUND RIGHT!!! Why would you put all this money, all these fans, all these schedules at risk?
Maybe one thought (and the word thought is used loosely here, because it doesn’t appear many brain cells were used in this decision) was that this is how the NFL Championships used to be played. The 1958 NFL Championship Game has earned the nickname “The Greatest Game Ever Played” and that was successfully played in Yankee Stadium, but that was an extremely different NFL. Those were the games that defenses controlled, where the hard-nosed players were allowed to hit, the era where the old adage Defense wins championships comes from.
Today’s NFL is different. We want offense. It’s a passing game these days, and if you are lucky enough to have a feature running back, you want to see him explode. Want proof? Let’s compare this Super Bowl’s elite to that 1958 game. The 1958 Championship pitted the Colts versus the Giants. The quarterback was a one Johnny Unitas, whom many consider one of the greatest to ever play the game. He threw for 2000 yards with 19 touchdowns that year and a 90 QB Rating. I know, the seasons were shorter, but if you take his averages and extend it to a 16 game season, he throws for 3200 yards and 27 touchdowns. Now, take the guy who had to live in Unitas’s shadow for all those years, Peyton Manning. This year he threw for a record 5,477 yards, a record 55 touchdowns, and a 115 QB Rating. Want more? (Of course you do, you thirst for it!) Frank Gifford was the Giants running back in that game, and he was considered one of the premier backs in the NFL. That year, Gifford ran for 468 yards and 8 touchdowns while tacking on 330 yards receiving and 2 more TDs. Marshawn Lynch, aka Beast Mode, aka Yum Yum Give Me Some Skittles, aka one of the top backs in the game, ran for 1257 yards and 12 TDs while adding on 316 yards through the air with 2 more TDs.
So why would you put these type of players in brutal weather conditions? The Super Bowl is being watched by thousands of people who don’t really care about football or are from other countries and want to see what all the hub bub is about. It is the ultimate billboard for the NFL. It is in my mind that we should then want to see the very best of what the NFL has to offer. I want to see Manning go off for 400 yards and 4 TDs on Sunday (or Friday, or Monday). So does everyone else except Seahawks fans. I also want to see Beast Mode rampage all 11 Bronco defenders all day long, and so does everyone else except Bronco fans. In the snow and cold, we won’t see that. We will see a lot of three and outs, and it will be a defensive stronghold, which is a huge advantage for Seattle because they are hands down the best in the business.
I get it the whole it’s football weather mindset, but that’s why we have the NFC North. That’s what makes Pittsburgh legendary. That’s why we watch the Patriots zamboni FGs for Vinatieri. But then, when those teams ravage through those tough conditions, they are rewarded by playing a Super Bowl in sunny San Diego or inside a dome where there is no weather at all.
Never mind the hypocrisy of the NFL preaching for player safety and then wanting an 18 game season. Forget about the fact that a league so concerned with the health of its players is possibly adding a team to the playoffs and prolonging their season (all because Jerry loses out on the playoffs in the last game of every season, but that’s another rant!). If you really want to go traditional like that 1958 Championship, if you really want to play in football weather, then you are truly putting our greatest players at injury risk and reversing every last thing the players union and lawsuits have been fighting. While there is no guarantee that injuries are less abundant in warmer weather than colder weather, it just seems that purposely placing the NFLs best in even the slightest possibility of treacherous conditions is a bit silly from a sport that is evolving into a player-safe league.
I need to cool off. We have a busy week in store. Keep an eye out for my Super Bowl predictions and a little bit more on Peyton’s greatness. And don’t forget to check in with my daily rants at @UofDWayne in the Twitterverse. Till next time, hopefully my internet won’t freeze over.