Saturday - Feb 16, 2019

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COUCH TOMATOES: Roger, please pass that jar of strained peas

Warning: Reading this column about fantasy football can be hazardous to your health. If you cannot handle humor and satire, mixed in with a few juicy tidbits of NFL facts, this may not be for you. But if you are ready—read on my friends.

Watching that MNF game between the Seahawks (yawn) and Cardinals (yawn-yawn) was really, really trying. Not only was the game a clunker, the NFL’s new standard primetime offering, but with me, Bonnie, Toby and his latest paramour Mabel, all on the couch, I was going nuts.

I mean going to get nuts. As the good host, I was running to get snacks for Toby and Mabel all night. For Bonnie, it’s one thing, but for a pair of ^$^&$ rabbits, it is quite another. And when they weren’t eating, they were rubbing ears and bumping their little bumpy bunny tails. As far as I could tell, they left it at that!

Since moving in last week, Toby cleaned out our bedroom closet, threw our stuff on our bed and the floor and moved Mabel right in. I was so angry with Bonnie. She even knitted them a cozy little bed—way too cozy if you ask me. She is also making about 10 little bunny sweaters. I know what that means and I am not happy. I keep telling Bonnie I am going to take the rabbits on a weekend ride somewhere, but that suspicious woman just shakes her head and says, “NO WAY!”

As the game progresses, Toby affectionately addressed me. “Hey, fat boy! Tell me how this game with no scoring is different than a soccer game? This is about as exciting as watching you two old farts make out.” What could I say? He was right, on the soccer part anyway. I chased the little dumb a__ around the room to chat with him about the Bonnie stuff, but I am just a step to slow to catch him. Oh all right, way to slow, but I like to live in my glory days.

I promised him a better game for the Week 8 Monday Night game. What could stink worse than a 6-6 tie? Then I looked. Oh my goodness—Bears and Vikings! What is this crap? NFL TV Ratings are down. The Flag protests—really?

My goodness, Roger Goodell. You are feeding us crap worse looking than what babies and dogs eat. Heck, at this stage, Toby should run for commissioner. And who knows, maybe with that big salary, he could swing for a second couch here and a bigger TV.

I let Mollie and Toby pick some interesting points for this week’s Couch Six Pack.

Points to ponder with this week’s Couch Six-Pack

1) My wondering cup runneth over this week. A QB that was deemed too short to play when he came into the league seems like a good place to start. Russell Wilson has been too short, accused of running too much and not passing well. He has proven critics to be wrong up until this point. His Seattle Seahawks have done well with him being the field general. Even this year, with the offensive focus shifting due to Wilson’s injuries, they are sitting atop the NFC West with a 4-1-1 record heading into Week 8.

So far, RB Christine Michael and TE Jimmy Graham have been the offensive catalysts that have made this happen. Wilson has a high ankle sprain, a sprained MCL and most recently has suffered from a right pectoral strain. He was originally told that the knee sprain would sideline him for four weeks. He has not missed a game yet.

We see other players going down and miraculously returning. Broken whatsit? No problem—out two weeks. Broken back? No biggie—out for a few weeks. Dead on the field? Not to worry—our motto is resuscitate and get back on the field.

What is the cost of winning? As the Seahawks risk Wilson’s health not quite half way through the season, what are the real odds of them making the playoffs? What are the chances of him getting hurt dramatically worse because he is a sitting target for behemoths trying to rip his head off?

2) The media seems to control what we think and how we respond to their stimuli. We have seen it in politics and world affairs for years. In the bygone era of Walter Cronkite we were given the news in one vanilla flavor. Now we receive it in big doses of whatever “they” want us to think.

Apparently, the sports media wants Jacksonville owner Shad Khan to fire HC Gus Bradley. Bradley has compiled a 14-41 record in his coaching tenure with the Jaguars. The media has settled on the ownership/coaching relationship as one to make an issue of. Chip Kelly, Hue Jackson and John Fox are not on their radar screens yet. But wait, maybe they are the news focus next week, or the week after.

There are problems with our game that are more important to focus on. People say the NFL TV ratings are down because of anthem protests. The answer is simple. DO NOT SHOW them. For years, decades in fact, the NFL has hardly ever shown the singing of the national anthem for a regular season game. After several weeks of this, the whole thing would stop if the networks did not say that three of 53 players on this sideline and two on the other were protesting. Nobody would care. Are there social issues that need to be addressed and resolved as these protesters say? Heck yes! And they certainly need to be! However, disrespecting the flag and our country, as well as the men and women who serve in the military, is not the way to do it.

Maybe NFL viewership is down because of injuries and the fact that there are so many one-sided games, or boring games. Games with all field goals, or one team getting their butts whooped are not entertaining. If the NFL wants to come into our homes four days a week, then they had darn well better work on their quality control.

As for Gus Bradly and Shad Khan, their business needs to be resolved by them, not by the circling vultures of the national media. Maybe consider getting a real RB to help balance the offense, or some defensive help. A coach can only do so much with the players he is given to work with.

3) I ran across an interesting news tidbit this morning. After the undefeated Vikings lost to the Eagles, the players were greeted by an ominous sign in the locker room saying that “Fat Cats Get Slaughtered.” In case they were unsure about what that meant, there were also stuffed animals with slit throats and splattered with red paint.

HC Mike Zimmer denied slaughtering the stuffed animals. All this hand wringing was done over a team losing its first game of the season. If it had been loss #5 would the sacrifice have been human?

These same Vikings have just been in the news about having a big bounty program several years ago. Yes, like the one that got the Saints organization in so much hot water. Oddly enough, I find tales of mutilation much more disturbing than offering a big-play bounty.

There is just a sick, wacko connotation when it comes to stuffed animals cut up and splattered with paint to symbolize blood.

4) It seems like just yesterday we were drafting our 2016 fantasy teams. The other day I was looking back to early August rankings. The unexpected was just starting to overwhelm me and I needed some shock treatment. Here are the Top 10 QBs then, their current scoring ranks and FPPG averages, as well as games missed in parentheses:

 

  1. Cam Newton, Car        #4/25.5
  2. Russell Wilson, Sea   #27/17.0
  3. Aaron Rodgers, GB   #7/24.0
  4. Andrew Luck, Ind   #5/25.5
  5. Drew Brees, NO   #2/28.2
  6. Blake Bortles, Jac   #16/20.6
  7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pit #6/24.7 (1)
  8. Kirk Cousins, Was #15/20.7
  9. Jameis Winston, TB #10/22.0
  10. Eli Manning. NYG #22/17.5

Except for Ben Roethlisberger, none of the Top 10 QBs have missed a game, although Russell Wilson likely should have. On the other hand, would Wilson’s replacement be doing better than a 17 FPPG average?

Among other QBs injured, Tony Romo, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, RGIII and Teddy Bridgewater are borderline starters at best in this stage of their careers. Of course, Tom Brady had a discounted preseason (#11) ranking due to his four game suspension. Since his return, he has been the #1 ranked scorer, averaging 28.4 FPPG. Matt Ryan had been buried in the 20s in those early rankings and has performed thus far as the #3 QB with a big 26.8 FPPG average.

All in all, fantasy players have to be relatively happy with QB scoring and reliability so far. Now when we get to RBs that is a different story…

5) The RB is a scary topic to even explore. There are very few fantasy owners that have a stable RB situation and it keeps getting worse.

 

  1. Todd Gurley, LARM  #21-13.9
  2. David Johnson, Ari    #1-25.2
  3. Adrian Peterson, Min Injured-IR
  4. Lamar Miller, Hou  #19-14,5
  5. Devonta Freeman, Atl #15-15.4
  6. Jamaal Charles, KC Injured
  7. Ezekiel Elliott, Dal  #5-20.2
  8. Le’Veon Bell, Pit #2-22.8 (3 Susp.)
  9. Jeremy Langford, Chi  Injured
  10. Mark Ingram, NO #16-15.1

As you can see, only three Top 10 RBs have performed as such. Out of the #11-#20 ranked RBs back in early August you find this injured, retired, or just plain underperforming group—Matt Forte, Arian Foster, Doug Martin, Thomas Rawls, Carlos Hyde, Dion Lewis, Eddie Lacy and C.J. Anderson. I am starting to sweat writing this scary stuff. Phewwwwwwwwwwwww!

Then we look up today and see big question marks on the backs of Lamar Miller, DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy.

We look at the scoring rankings and see Todd Gurley snuggly lying between Latavius Murray and Isaiah Crowell who are at #20 and #22. We see Melvin Gordon (#3-20.5), Spencer Ware (#7-18.5) and Christine Michael (#10-16.3). DeMarco Murray has moved up to #3 with a 21. 63 FPPG average, but he is starting to show signs of breaking down now to.

I guess the best way to look at this is that almost everyone has been affected. We just have to concentrate on the players we do have and do the best we can with them.

6) So far we find relative stability among QBs and utter bedlam at the RB position. Unfortunately, WR scoring among the higher ranked players is pretty convoluted, almost as weirdly so as for the RBs:

 

  1. Antonio Brown, Pit       #4-19.5
  2. Odell Beckham, NYG    #10-17.3
  3. Julio Jones, Atl.      #2-21.0
  4. Brandon Marshall, NYG #34-12.7
  5. DeAndre Hopkins, Hou #31-13.3
  6. Dez Bryant, Dal Injured
  7. A.J. Green, Cin  #3-20.8
  8. Jordy Nelson, GB #24-14.9
  9. Jarvis Landry, Mia  #13-16.1
  10. Allen Robinson, Jac #39-12.3

And it does not stop there. When we look at the next group, ranked #11-#20 we find a slew of injured or underperforming players—Keenan Allen, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Eric Decker, Jordan Matthews and Alshon Jeffery.

Demaryius Thomas at #17 with a 15.4 FPPG average is close at least to where he was expected to be. The #1 scorer right now is Mike Evans averaging 21.8 FPPG.

Since we have several games left before the playoffs, we can be sure that even more challenges will rear their ugly heads. By now the waiver wires are bare and trades are hard to come by. The price of breathing RBs that were worthless 30 days ago is soaring.

Be an active owner to enhance your chances of winning. Managing the waiver wire, prudent trading and careful lineup decisions are the key to success on this journey we started together in Week 1.

When we play fantasy football we are so busy with our teams that we forget about the football game as a whole. Be sure to remember that the answers to our fantasy football questions can usually be found within the numbers. And if all else fails, feel free to ask me. You can reach me at mnease23@yahoo.com. All fantasy football questions are welcome.

 

Good luck! Have fun!

About Mike Nease

Mike Nease is a member of the FSWA and has been playing the game since 1985, while also writing about it since 2001. Over the years he has sampled about all the playing scenarios that fantasy football offers, including re-drafter, keeper, dynasty, auction, IDP and salary cap leagues. He and his wife Bonnie reside in West Chicago, IL You can contact Mike at mnease23@yahoo.com anytime and during the football season follow him @mikeinsights.