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.
One thing I have to admire is a person who can admit he was wrong. A few years ago Terrelle Pryor came into the NFL as an Oakland Raider. He did not make much of a grand entrance because back then the Raiders stunk and they had a new, lousier-than-the-last-quarterback year after year.
This summer his name popped up in Cleveland and I was intrigued because every time I heard Pryor’s name mentioned, it was talking about how he was hauling in pass after pass, many of them for big yardage. I drafted him on a couple teams as a WR7 and said what the heck.
Last Sunday, Terrelle Pryor had eight catches for 144 yards. He added four rushes for 21 yards with a touchdown and he also completed 3-of-5 passes for 35 yards. None of those numbers taken individually, or as a pairing even, make us raise an eyebrow. But when you look at them combined you get something very rare, even rarer than a triple-double as they call it in basketball.
By exceeding 120 receiving yards, 30 passing yards and 30 receiving yards, Terrelle Pryor accomplished something that has not been accomplished in the NFL since Frank Gifford did it in 1959. That goes back so far that I was only 10 years old and just getting into watching football about that time. Not only didn’t I notice it then, but if I had, waiting 57 years in sports for a milestone to be repeated or beaten is a long time.
Not only did he accomplish that, he also is the only player to ever complete three passes and have more than 100 receiving yards in the same game.
Think of his potential. As a triple-threat fantasy scorer he can be a very good wide receiver and may also pick up some passing and rushing stats to give you a few more points. He runs routes well and plays very physical, with good hands. He could be a gold mine. Seeing parts of his game Sunday made me happy to have him on some of my teams.
Calling Tim Tebow … Calling Tim Tebow … Please pick up the phone in the airport golden boy passenger lounge! Nope — no answer — he would rather flounder around the minor leagues in baseball and ride those great buses.
Now that the season is going into Week 4, some numbers start to show trends and make our previous decisions either valid or a bunch of bunk. Toby my fantasy football rabbit chipped in with a comment that he isn’t much for bunk. He likes his bunches to be long, orange and very crunchy. Bonnie — please whack him on the back of his head and shut him up. Sheesh! How can I write with all that noise he makes? He must be the loudest *&%& rabbit around!
I have decided on highlighting a six pack of observations each week.
Belting down this week’s Couch Six Pack
1. When you watch fantasy football for a long time and you have dynasty teams, there are players you draft and sit on for a while waiting for them to develop into stars. After last season, I gave up on Shane Vereen. He had always shown flashes, but being relegated to being a third down back, he never really had an opportunity to succeed.
Last Sunday, he had his big chance. I still had him on one team and had him in the lineup. Not watching that game, I was surprised when his stats stopped growing. He wound up with 11 rushes for 67 yards and a touchdown, and two catches for 28 yards. That’s about 17-18 fantasy points depending on rounding. I was pleased like a new dad. My man Shane had finally made it.
Then we heard the news that he tore a triceps muscle and was put on short-term Injured Reserve, with a possibility to come back in the last month or so of the season. It is news like this that really crushes you sometimes. There is so much absolute garbage in the world and when it hits the game we all love it really stinks. Shane Vereen is special to me and it seems so unfair.
2. Watching that second Monday night game three weeks ago, Los Angeles looked like St. Mary’s Orphanage playing Ohio State. Not only was Los Angeles unbelievably bad but San Francisco, who pretty much had its way that game, was thought to be pretty bad itself. Afterwards we were certain that Los Angeles was the worst team in the NFL, bar none. There was no way Los Angeles could get more than a single win, or possibly two, this season.
But, of course, each week in the NFL brings us surprising turns of fortune. We have all learned to expect and even accept the unexpected. I am getting good at that. I remember one day in January 1967 when it was about 70 degrees and we had a 21-inch snowstorm the very next day. Yet seeing Los Angeles shut down Seattle in Week 2 (9-3) and then win again in Week 3, just blew me away. Now at 2-1 and holding the tiebreaker against Seattle, Los Angeles is in first place in the NFC West. Who would have guessed that?
3. While noticing the resurrection of Los Angeles, I noticed some other interesting facts in the standings. How can Arizona be 1-2? Arizona has a strong rushing game, a sturdy defense and a decent passing attack. That’s all you need to be a winner, supposedly. I guess it’s just another one of those surprises.
Then across the country we have Carolina. Cam Newton’s fantasy numbers look OK, but he has been hit harder than a baseball in a sandlot baseball game. Thank goodness he hasn’t lost his stitching like those balls usually do. Last week he could not even complete one pass to Kelvin Benjamin. Last year, the run option quarterbacks led by Newton and Russell Wilson made people believe that it was a plausible offense. From its advent a few years ago, the run option offense has been criticized as being too risky for quarterbacks. It looks like 2015 when both quarterbacks remained healthy was the exception rather than the norm. The bottom line is that the powerful Carolina and Seattle teams are both 1-2 out of the gate and their quarterbacks are both on the ropes.
And at the other end of the spectrum, Philadelphia is kicking back on its couches this Sunday and enjoying a day off after a 3-0 start. Speaking of quarterbacks, young Carson Wentz has gone from that not-ready-yet rookie to a wise old veteran pretty quickly. Let’s judge him a little later in the year after that new car smell fades away and he stinks up the place once or twice. See how he responds to adversity.
4. Have you checked out who the leading rushers are? I could not help but chuckle a bit when I saw they were LeGarrette Blount (298 yards), and behind him Isaiah Crowell (274 yards) and Ezekiel Elliot (274 yards). Those are not the guys that are supposed to be there! Maybe Elliot, but Blount and Crowell, no way.
And then I thought, thank goodness the wide receivers always fall into line. But hey, there was Marvin Jones (408 yards) followed by Stefon Diggs (325 yards) and Jarvis Landry (314). Nope, no Antonio Brown, Julio Jones or Odell Beckham in this group yet. Antonio Brown is averaging more than 100 yards per game, but Marvin Jones is still 103 yards ahead already.
Once again, this 2016 season is full of surprises. Depending on your own circumstances some surprises have been good, but others have bitten a big chunk off your posterior.
5. Next to Jay Cutler and Eli Manning, Andy Dalton is a quarterback who seems to draw negative comments like a magnet. One thing he usually does extraordinarily well though is to avoid the pass rush. In 2015 (20 sacks) and 2014 (21 sacks), he was really good at staying on his feet. That helps keep a quarterback healthy, wealthy and wise. Then 2016 rolled around and in the first three games he has been sacked 12 times already. That puts a quarterback who has been sacked 70 times in the last three years on a pace to get sacked 64 times in only one season.
He always gets the blame for adversity with Cincinnati. Thursday night the commentator mentioned that the running game has gotten off to a slow start. Nowhere do I see the offensive linemen taking any heat. Does anybody else see that as a problem? How can someone do “analysis” on these things and shortcut their thinking process to not blame the line, even a little bit? That is just plain anal and not analytic. Some people confuse those terms.
6. Time to call in the FBI! There are 13 extra points missing out there and fantasy owners are losing games over this. How in the world can kickers miss 13 simple kicks already? Yes, they moved the play back 13 yards, but that makes it the equivalent of a 33-yard field goal. Many kickers are automatic at 33 yards. Blair Walsh has already missed two extra points and he is a guy who can nail field goals from 50 yards with regularity. Like a golfer, he really needs to work on his short game.
As for that second-round draft pick in Tampa Bay, Roberto Aguayo, he is 1-for-3 in field goals so far and only 7-for-8 in extra points. People talk about draft strategies, being both good and bad. In my opinion, any general manager who drafts a kicker in the second round must have a little bit of pressure when the typical free agent kicker from Bittersweet University could do just as well. That is especially true when you realize that the same wasted second-round selection could have been used on a blocker to give the kicker the time he needs to make the darned kick. Even fantasy owners know that for the most part, kickers are the last guy you draft.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. All fantasy football questions are welcome.
Good luck! Have fun!