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COUCH TOMATOES: Toby returns, Sister wives and Roger Goodell

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.

Where is this football season going? Here we are with Thanksgiving a week away and Week 11 of the NFL schedule is upon us already. We were all sitting on the couch Tuesday night with Toby doing some catching up with us about what he has been doing. He has been on vacation, but before he left he confused the heck out of Bonnie and me. Bonnie thought his new hot bunny was Mabel and I thought her name was Mollie.

Well, as it turns out, we are both right. Toby, that suave, debonair rabbit is dating twins. I must admit that they both have two of the fluffiest tails I have ever seen. Bonnie was kind of miffed. Seeing Mollie and Mabel together with Toby it was painfully obvious that 10 tiny bunny sweaters was going to be half of what is going to be needed. That rascal Toby had hit the daily double. Each one of the young female rabbits had 10 tiny little ones on the way,

Toby was so shaken by this that he had gone to Hollywood to audition for a movie role. He struck out on that but in Wednesday matinees he will play the Energizer Rabbit in a theatrical production of Toy Story. He says the only part of the job he hates is when they stick him head first into Cowboy Roy’s battery slot. Personally, I thought seeing that fluffy little tail emerging from the backside of Cowboy Roy would have been a little weird. Bonnie was sure chuckling in anticipation. Mabel and Mollie were all over him with affection.

I had an idea of sending a pilot episode of Where I Met My Rabbit to play at NFL halftimes. I hear the NFL is looking for a way to spike viewership. What better way is there to do that than to exploit some cute rabbits for us to ridicule for 20 minutes? That way we can relax and forget about the poor officiating, seemingly endless reviews of plays, debates over TD celebration penalties, hits that are penalized and fined, yet are in sort of a hypocritical way the lead highlights on Sports Center and of course the place kickers that have lost their rhythm.

Toby told me he only has one silly question… Why not put a prime game in the prime slots? Before I could answer he snuck in a second question, how can the NFL put a bad team coming off a bad season in 2015 like the 2-7 Chicago Bears in prime time games three times already, along with teams like the 49ers, Browns and Jacksonville? I explained that a very intelligent man Roger Goodell is paid over $30 million a year to lead an office loaded with other high-priced wonks to determine what we want and give it to us.

Toby saw a light bulb go on… He replied, “So let me get this straight fat boy. The NFL is acting like a health professional and asking if we want only one laxative after eating, or would we prefer two?”

I told him that was pretty close. He suggested that maybe he could get a job with Roger Goodell and do what he does for Cowboy Roy. I broke the news to him that Goodell already had enough people doing that.

Playing to win with this week’s Couch Six Pack

1) Weeks 11, 12 and 13 give anyone who is 5-5 right now an opportunity to make the playoffs. I did it one year where I took a 1-4 team and mounted a relentless nine game winning streak. You never know when a team above you will get the shaft like you have when it comes to injuries and under-performing players.

If David Johnson or Melvin Gordon got hurt, would those teams losing them survive? I would shudder to be that owner and have my season unravel this late. As we think of the emphasis we place on drafting, make up a list with your Week 1 roster and then next to it write down your Week 11 roster. What do you see?

If you see something very similar with your initial key picks healthy, I bet you have a good record and are near the top in your standings. On the other hand, a roster that has been revised to a large extent shows that you are grasping onto that ledge by your finger-tips.

This whole concept has been drummed into our heads for years and we try to fix it with each draft that takes place. That kind of reminds me of the tale about doing the same thing that does not work time after time and expecting different results. Are we really that stupid? It certainly looks that way sometimes.

2) You know, the week seems to go by so fast during the football season. If it is Monday, we watch ESPN and Thursdays are the NFL Network and sometimes CBS. This is sort of akin to having sign posts building up to Sunday. For a league where teams play one game a week, NFL visibility is magnified by several times to exceed the popularity of the NBA or NHL.

Once upon a time, we were very stat oriented, but in a different sense. Now all we care about is how fantasy points apply to the game. I remember as a child the mathematical adventure of developing statistics. At about eight years old, I learned division and multiplication by jumping into baseball statistics.

We had imagination in those days. I remember reading books and playing outside for hours on end. We did not have TV commercials pushing us to play outside for 60 minutes a game. The technological explosion of the last 30 years has killed our attention spans. A game like baseball with all of its strategy and intricacies is ignored by most kids. They think it is boring.

Yet they play soccer, which if there was ever a fast moving game, this is it. It is a great strategic game, but the offense is rendered powerless by rules heavily slanted towards 0-0 or 1-0 outcomes. But truth be told, children hardly play sports or read anymore and prefer fighting dragons and mythical enemies on a screen to doing anything physically demanding. Maybe fantasy football could be a lure that gets the kids outside once again.

3) Over the years, many of us have been exposed to the basic spreadsheet program. The evolution of spreadsheet technology began for me with a 13-column pad of paper. Used with a pencil, ruler and calculator, it was a cool method of recording numbers.

Then Apple came out with their machines and nifty software called Apple Works. It was like the old 13-column paper, but eliminated the need for that pencil, ruler and calculator. With this you could manually calculate fantasy football scores and then build statistic tables like standings, score sheets and player stats to keep track of your 1980’s fantasy league. The only limit was your imagination.

Then along came programs like Lotus, Quattro Pro and eventually Excel. The possibilities seemed unlimited. Then Mike Hall and the guys created software that you put on your computer and it had EVERYTHING you could possibly want. Around a decade later, an Internet based MyFantasyLeague.com was launched. Since the early 2000’s that has been, in my opinion, the best web-based platform for playing fantasy football, bar none.

So now the question becomes, what is next for our industry? What would you like to see be available? What resources do we need that we do not have now? Email me at mnease23@yahoo.com and let me know.

4) The other day, I got an email from a reader asking a simple, basic question. After I thought about it for a moment I realized that the answer was not as easy as I had first thought. He asked whether I would always play studs at playoff time, or if I would play matchups. I have always been a firm proponent of always playing your studs and I came close to typing that and considering it done. This was after all a basic tenet of fantasy football and as firm as the 10 Commandments pressed into a rock tablet.

Suddenly, I felt like Moses as a voice from nowhere I could see shouted out—“what is a stud?” My whole fantasy football belief system suddenly shattered, like a Star Wars disruption to the Force. What indeed is a stud? Out of nowhere came countless questions and answers, Are studs players like Cam Newton (22.3 FPPG), Devonta Freeman (15.3 FPPG) or Demaryius Thomas (15.5 FPPG) better choices than “average Joes” like Blake Bortles (22.8 FPPG), Latavius Murray (16.5 FPPG) or Davante Adams (16.5 FPPG).

It doesn’t really look like it does. Throw names like Russell Wilson, Todd Gurley and Allen Robinson into the discussion. It appears we just may have a tablet with a major rule carved in stone that is crumbling in our hands. Maybe, just maybe, we need to realize that there are seasonal trends within a season. For example, Russell Wilson has played and not missed a game, but he is a better fantasy football option today than he was a few weeks ago. It looks like this will be a good subject to address after the season ends.

5) I have begun to ponder a way to reduce the effects of injuries and under-performing players on our lineups. We talk about attributes like consistency, injury history, potential, opportunity and more. Yet there are always surprises. If we could have a deep, healthy lineup all year then we could dramatically improve our chances of winning championships.

By grading certain criteria for players we could develop a “safe draft choice” type of rating by which we could rank the players along with their points potential. We could have categories like RB1, 2, 3, Flex and other. It would guide us during the draft and although nothing is certain, we could see trends in things like age, games missed, total touches, games over xx points, targets and other leading indicators.

Are you interested in this sort of analysis? If you have any input on how you would do this research yourself, please email me with your thoughts mnease23@yahoo.com.

6) I have thrown out a few ideas about topics I am curious about. What would you like to know? Contact me and maybe between the two of us we can figure out some new concepts that will make winning championships a tad more likely.

As I tell people that I consult with about their businesses, one of my major beliefs as a coach is that a lot of the answers are hidden within the numbers. I have spent the last few months telling you what I think. Now the question is this. As you approach the playoffs, you pretty much know if this year has been a success or failure.

Here we have many why’s to be answered. What did we do right? Wrong? And what would we do differently? What sort of league is this—public or private? IDP? Number of teams?

Please take a moment over the next few weeks and let me know. January through July is a long time and maybe we can get a lot of that discussed over those seven months.

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.