Let me being by saying thank you to the senior staff of Fantasy Sharks for the opportunity to write this column, most notably Rob Schare. I will be taking over for Ron Anish, and my hope is that it will be half as good as his columns of the past. I hope I can keep everyone from nodding off and provide some valuable insight into the previous week’s games in the months ahead. Also, I give many thanks to my wife, who is expecting our first child in January, and will most likely strangle me by the end of the season for my commitment to fantasy (just kidding honey). Ok, enough of the touchy feely stuff and on to football…
After a long anticipated wait, Week One has finally come and gone. The days of men wandering aimlessly in the house trying to avoid the dreaded “honey-do” list on Sundays and staring blankly at the TV is finally over. Let me give some advice to the women that don’t know their men very well yet. If you spent Sunday with your man of choice, what you observed was football. Yes, it is normal for men to watch every game possible, which includes flipping between games during commercials. If he is a Sunday ticket subscriber, he may have several TVs going at once, feverishly running back and forth trying to fulfill the void that has been empty since early February. Also, please do not, for any reason, try to discuss important matters or ask him to remember something on this day. It is a waste of time, as his mind will be taken up by how many touchdowns Priest Holmes scored and whether or not there is a chance that Drew Brees could be the fantasy sleeper of the year. If you have no interest in football find a hobby for Sundays. It will make you (and him) much happier and agreeable. Now we have that said, on to the games.
Let me start by saying I am officially petitioning the Webster’s people to have the word “emphasis” removed from the English language. Not only did I have to hear it about every eight seconds during pre-season, but in every game too. Thanks to the announcers for being so thorough, however I think that even wildlife understands that the chuck rule will be stressed in games. As if I didn’t have enough reasons to consider suicide when John Madden speaks, but I have to hear him talk about the rule and then explain it wrong.
Speaking of Madden, has ABC not realized their ratings tumble in the last few years could be attributed to him? Every week (and twice this week) we hear the ramblings of a great football mind that is still in the seventies. Al Michaels is the only thing that keeps that show sane, thankfully. On a political note, Al got in a zinger during the season opener, as Madden was rambling something about a flip-flop game and Al said that they were in the right state for it. You make the connection.
Starting with the Colts and Pats, how disappointed is Dungy with three turnovers inside the 5? He thought his only problems were with the defense, now he has his star RB put the ball on the ground twice at the goal line and his all world QB throw into double coverage and get it picked. Wow! I think this game showed me a few things. One, the Pats are fallible. Though the Colts couldn’t convert on a field goal to send the game to OT, the Pats defense is showing some age. This is the first time since early last year that the team showed signs of weakness. Bellichick has shown that he can win ugly, as long as he wins. I also spotted another first. Manning made a crucial misread in the defense on the last play before the game tying field goal attempt. He actually shifted his blitz pickup away from the blitz, leaving McGinest to run free. I have seen some misreads in coverage during the play, but I have never seen him make a pre snap mistake of this magnitude with the game on the line. I guess Bellichick really does have Peyton’s number after all…
Speaking of misreads, there are two players that probably misread the cereal box on Monday based on the shots they took on Sunday. Eli Manning got lit up by Jerome McDougal and summarily coughed up the football. Welcome to the NFL crybaby. Also, on punt coverage, Jeff Feagles was jogging lightly to make sure the return didn’t get past him and got tattooed like I have never seen. On the next twelve punts (at least it seemed to be that many, as inept as the offense was) I was expecting to see the exorcist as his head was moving more than a bobble head trying to avoid being unloaded on again.
On another note, the Ravens need to change travel agents because I think they missed the flight to Cleveland. Maybe Ray Lewis chartered his own flight, because he was the only defender that actually played on Sunday. Now given, the offense of old is back, turning the ball over three times in the second half, keeping the defense on the field. Now admittedly Ogden was not at the left tackle spot but can Kyle Boller look any worse than he did? I guess they miss not getting TO after all…
One more thought about the Ravens. 37-year-old Deion un-retires to be a third DB and punt returner for the Ravens. Now I know everyone was underplaying his impact to the defense and special teams but I can’t contain myself. One return for five yards and exactly zero tackles on defense. He didn’t even stiff contact in the game nearly falling helplessly to the turf faced with two Cleveland special teamers in front of him on his return. At least he was a team player, keeping with the general team concept that day.
Oh, did anyone see that great game on Saturday between the Dolphins and Titans? Now that was one for the ages, let me tell you. What? You didn’t see it? Well I didn’t either, until Sunday on the ticket. With the unfortunate third hurricane threatening the already battered populous of Florida, the game was moved to Saturday. I was giddy in anticipation of having three days this week of pro football. So about eleven on Saturday I started checking the satellite guide to see where the game was broadcast. Nothing. I flip to the hundreds of sports channels it seems like I have. Still nothing. I go to the web and find it’s on CBS at 1 ET. Great. I flip to CBS and what do I find? A great college football game? Auto Racing? A crucial political debate? No. They chose to broadcast tennis. TENNIS!!! I get more excited watching grass grow. Since I don’t watch grass grow, what in the hell makes them think I want to watch tennis? Give me the football man! In honesty it wasn’t a good game after all, but who cares about tennis?
My final thoughts for the week:
If your favorite team didn’t win this week, don’t despair. Six teams that lost their opener went on to the playoffs last season. You can start to worry if they are 0-4 and still looking for an identity a few weeks from now.
It is obvious how the aforementioned rule change has affected fantasy football, as well as the real game. Who would think that Vinny Testaverde and David Terrell would top the league in yards at their respective positions? The top five receivers for yards are Terrell, Gates, Bruce, Bryant and Keyshawn. Fear not, the league will right itself.
Be active on your associated waiver wires. In my league, the market opens up at 8AM on Tuesday and some people were waiting the very second it opened, so if you want someone that is a hot commodity don’t wait until Thursday to think about it.
Why can’t replay be used in a way that makes sense? Isn’t the whole point of replay to get the calls right? If so, the coaches should get one challenge. If they are right, they get the challenge back. I don’t think they should be penalized for making the correct call. If you challenge something and are wrong, too bad. No more challenges. This bonus challenge thing is still dancing around the issue. May way may slow the game play a little but replay has already done that. Let’s either get the game completely right or allow the human factor in it. Please get off the fence Tagliabue and pick a side please.
And with that, we are on to week two…