Tuesday - Jan 22, 2019

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COUCH TOMATOES: Back This Week With A New Six Pack

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.

Some of you may have noticed an absence of the Couch Tomatoes column last week. My beloved wife Bonnie had a simple urinary tract infection develop into a serious bacterial blood infection. Wednesday night we headed off to the hospital with her riding in the ambulance and me tagging along in our car. Other than a brief trip home on Friday, I was with her the entire stay until she was released Monday.

Such events really make you think, especially when we are golden agers like us. Any medical visit is a bit scary, but the need for an ambulance and an infectious disease specialist only serves to make things more intense.

Fortunately, the doctors were able to pinpoint the health issues and treat them. She is expecting a full recovery. The worst part of the visit was the hospital food. I ordered eggs over easy one morning and got their out of the box version of scrambled eggs. Yuck! Bonnie had already discovered they were putrid the day before. I returned them and asked to get the eggs the way I ordered them. The instructions on the order ticket had eggs over easy showing on it. It then showed scrambled eggs as being prepared.

The second plate of scrambled eggs showed me I was not likely to eat that morning. At noon, Bonnie ordered her lunch. I had already decided to fast until dinner time and order out. At about 2:30 her tray showed up, only about 1 ½ hours late. She is diabetic and eating meals all hours of the day is not an option. I complained and they sent a food service rep to see us. I got the $10 fee for my guest tray back and basically told him what I thought about their crappy food and lack of service. I often wonder in amazement about why nobody ever told me in school that I had the aptitude to be a diplomat.

We were able to watch the Sunday football games and thankfully the hospital had just added FS1 so patients could watch the Cubs playoff games. On Saturday we were told that Bonnie was doing much better, so Sunday was kind of relaxing.

Monday morning we went home and I just about bent down and kissed the door step. The problem is that I just cannot bend and stand up again. The golden age stuff is a lot of *%$%^^!

I walked into the bedroom to get things setup for Bonnie, and I was shocked, just absolutely flabbergasted. There in the middle of our king-sized bed was my little buddy, Toby, the fantasy football rabbit. Next to him was Mabel, a cute little rabbit, kind of known as being the kind of rabbit that plays around, if you know what I mean. They were laying back, paws interlocked, watching Bugs Bunny on TV.

Describing the scene is difficult. I was laughing so hard. Mabel is a cute little critter with long, slender, tightly packed, ummmmmmmmm, rabbit ears. Besides that, she has the cutest little bunny ta__. Hey, I am overstepping our writing rules of decorum. Sorry, Mr. Editor!

From now on I will limit the locker room banter and leave that up to the professional comedians, or maybe the politicians…

One good thing about being confined for a few days is I was able to think of some interesting points for this week’s Couch Six Pack.

Points to ponder with this week’s Couch Six Pack

1) Quick, name three players playing in MLB’s Arizona Fall League. This is the training ground for top prospects on their way to the big leagues. Can’t think of any, can you? You may have noticed that former NFL bust Tim Tebow, now 29 years old, is playing in the league representing the NY Mets. So far, he has been saluted for helping a fan with a seizure and was all over the news with that.

Baseball wise he recently broke an 0-13 slump to start his baseball career with a single. That is about 1/3 the batting average Michael Jordan had when he failed to become a two-sport professional athlete. Bo Jackson comes to mind as being a success in both football and baseball. In watching sports since the late 1950’s, there have been a handful of crossover athletes, but not many at all.

And as for the seriousness of Tim Tabor’s venture into baseball, how can you only play on a Monday to Thursday basis because of your weekend broadcasting job with ESPN? Somewhere there is a real baseball player being held back to accommodate his whimsical charade.

2) With the NFL seeing falling TV ratings we find that they are in a state of denial. With the daily games not beating us over the heads with win-win-win commercials this year, chances are the DFS revenues are down. The NFL needs to realize that gambling drives viewership.

Instead, they hand us pap like how great Carson Wentz is doing. Through Week 6 he is averaging 18 FPPG, making him #25 in QB scoring. Low-ranked draftee, 4th round draft pick Dak Prescott, who has been properly acknowledged for his great start, is the 15th ranked scoring QB with a 21 FPPG average.

Aaron Rodgers from a fantasy standpoint is #8 on the scoring list with 23 FPPG. Listening to the announcers talk about this low percentage and that below average stat would think he was playing at low levels like Brock Osweiler (#31) or Cody Kessler (#32).

With all the BS the NFL controlled announcers and commentators feed us fantasy players many are discouraged. With the advent of tablets and smart phones there are alternate ways to view games and track fantasy game statuses in real-time.

3) Michael David Smith posted some interesting statistics on Pro Football Talk last week. That little old routine extra-point has gone through a transformation of late and it bothers Smith that for the most part, NFL coaches are ignoring it. The numbers I present are those presented on PFT. In these days of fact checking, I must admit I am accepting their word on all this.

The basic premise Smith presents is that the 2-point conversion attempt is a better bet than a simple 1-point kick. Through Week 5 of the 2016 season, teams have converted 17/28 (60.7%) on 2-point conversions and 344/361 (95.3 %) on those regular old 1-point kicks. That yields a rate of return of 1.21 on the two pointers and .95 on the 1-pointers.

This pretty much validates the same sort of numbers reported for 2015. In fact, the 2016 partial numbers make even a stronger case for going for two. It will be interesting to see if more and more coaches go for two more often.

4) With Week 7 here, I see more of a flurry of trading and working that good old waiver wire. Being in multiple leagues, all of those free agent lists look alike. We are down to the dregs at the bottom of the barrel. Every week though a name pops up out of nowhere that everyone has to have. Picking up guys like Knile Davis and Cameron Meredith three weeks ago would have had your friends laughing. Suddenly both are projected high-point prospects for the next few weeks.

We have had huge numbers of casual fans join fantasy leagues with the growth of the DFS industry. Now that the states are cracking down and regulating the big $$ betting, those casual fans are falling by the wayside. Many people have complained to me that players using the free game platforms are dropping out already, supposedly killing the competitiveness.

Take advantage of this situation and increase your chances of winning. Hey, you started off as one of 12 teams. A win is a win. In NASCAR, cars falling by the wayside are common place. Nobody ever says, or cares that only 14 cars were running at the end. Along the way to a championship you have to finish on top of all the teams. In our cut throat game, winning is always the end result we are seeking. Every year things change, but the actual way things play out remains pretty much the same. Injuries and countless surprising circumstances, both good and bad, confront us every year.

5) I love looking around online and seeing what people are saying about fantasy football. One of my favorite resources is CBS Sports. They have a lot of good information and I sort of soak it up like a sponge. They have three of their experts prepare ongoing rankings, both by position and also a Top 150. With so many changes on the fantasy landscape I checked in the other day seeking some hot players moving up or down in people’s minds.

Here are five names that jumped out at me from their Top 150 listing and the rankings each of the three CBS experts have assigned to them.

WR Antonio Brown, Pit    12-38-9

RB Todd Gurley, LARM   24-17-12

RB Christine Michael, Sea 26-13-21

RB Jacquizz Rodgers, TB    29-29-55

WR Ty Montgomery, GB   58-61-85

When you think of what all this means it is mind boggling. Going into Week 7, Antonio Brown, a consensus Top 3 pick in August is now ranked as high as #9 and as low as #38. One of the experts has Christine Michael, and Jacquizz Rodgers ranked ahead of him, Todd Gurley, according to these guys, edges out Christine Michael. Ty Montgomery who just a couple weeks ago would have not been ranked in anybody’s Top 150, is now the equivalent of a 5th round draft choice according to two out the three people doing these rankings.

Obviously, these are re-drafter rankings and the long-term player values are not reflected here, or are they? How do we determine what is a short-term anomaly and what is a long-term change? We have to analyze the numbers and check all the facts and circumstances. I know one thing I would do is, I would jump into the trade market with rankings like these in hand.

Who knows what championship caliber trades you can make. When I see free rankings like these I think about our Fantasy Sharks VIP reports, costing less than $1.00/week and what a true value they are. I see “experts” coming up with ludicrous bull *^%& like these rankings and cringe. When something is free, you indeed get what you pay for.

6) Two of the surprise teams so far have been the San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers. Chicago and Cleveland have stunk too, but that was pretty much expected.

The 49ers kicked off the season with a 28-0 shellacking of the Rams. Since then, they have lost five games and have given up 37 points/game in doing so. Chip Kelly has taken his game from Philadelphia to San Francisco and is still a big loser. With a minus-58 points scored to points given up variance after six games, it looks worse when you realize it is a -86 difference in the last five weeks. The trend for the 49ers is headed down, down and further down.

It seems like just yesterday that the Panthers were undefeated and all was well. Now, they cannot stop anyone with their defense. With their 176 points given up, their highly touted defense has gone the way of the Browns and 49ers at the bottom of the standings.

Once again we see why we should not draft team defenses too early. It is too much of a crapshoot to guess how they will do at draft time.

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.