Conformity: The RGIII and Colin Kaepernick story

In the 2013 NFL Offseason, no quarterbacks put themselves through more rigorous physical training than Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick.

RGIII spent the offseason rehabbing his knee after surgery on both his ACL and LCL ligaments in order to play in the season opener. Kaepernick trained with Olympic sprinters and at one point, was working out so hard, Jim Harbaugh publicly asked him to “Go easy on the weights.”

RGIII and Kaepernick were also arguably the most hyped Quarterbacks as well.

There wasn’t a day you could turn on ESPN without someone mentioning the status of RGIII’s knee and how he could be ready for week one. The San Francisco 49ers were Super Bowl favorites leading into the beginning of the year, largely because of the arm and legs of Kaepernick.

Well, week three has come and gone, and the Redskins and 49ers have a combined 1-5 record, and aside from brief moments of brilliance, both QBs are looking like ghosts of their 2012 selves.

The question is: What happened to two of the most exciting rookie* starters in NFL history?

Of course, there are other factors impacting their team’s records. With Aldon Smith in rehab for a month and Patrick Willis injuring his groin, coupled with an already weak secondary, the 49ers defense is falling apart faster than a Graham cracker in milk. The insane lack of depth in the San Francisco receiving corps is also a major contributing factor. And in Washington, their defense is so porous it’s making a sieve look like a Shamwow.

That being said, the quarterbacks are often considered the field generals and blame will always find them. But is this blame justified? I submit that it is not.

When watching RGIII and Kaepernick, it is very easy to see their playing styles have drastically changed from a year ago.

They are set instead of sporadic in the pocket. They are passive instead of aggressive in their decision-making. And most disappointingly, they have their eyes on the sideline instead of the end zone when they tuck it and run.

However, this is not the mark of a quarterback. This is the mark of the front office, the GM and the coach and the scar of an organization overprotecting their main asset like he’s a newborn.

This is a relatively new trend in the NFL, as this hybrid model of quarterback is a somewhat new concept to the league, especially when they produce results.

This offensive style, which has exploded in popularity (especially in College football) in recent years, drastically differs from the traditional “big white guy throwing from the pocket” offensive strategy most NFL teams have used for decades. Up until the recent introduction of the read-option in the NFL, coaches and owners have only had to worry about protecting their QB in the pocket.

Of course there are exceptions, most notably pre-PETA sanctioned Michael Vick when he played for the Falcons. He never threw for 3,000 yards, but nobody cared because he was running like crazy. Vick differs from RGIII and Kaep in two key ways: (1) He was a true scrambler who would much rather tuck it and run than throw, and (2) His organization didn’t bog him down with protection, mainly because player safety concerns were pretty much non-existent.

The latter of the two has drastically changed in the past couple years. Player safety concerns are at an all time high with the seemingly never-ending stream of concussions and lawsuits that follow.

Training Kaepernick and RGIII to avoid hits on the field by staying in the pocket and aiming for the sideline when they scramble will minimize their chance of serious injury, but at what cost to the team? Despite their organizations’ good intentions, the hampering of their read-option hurts their teams’ chances of winning games. In the long run, this is an excellent strategy at keeping a key asset healthy, but what good is a healthy quarterback who can’t win games?

Just ask the hundreds who don’t have a starting job in the NFL.

Allowing these quarterbacks to be themselves is the key to winning games. It’s how Alfred Morris racked up 1,600 yards as rookie alongside a QB who ran for 700 of his own, and the Redskins made the playoffs for the first time since 2007. It’s how Colin Kaepernick overtook Alex Smith midseason after Smith went 18-19 with 3 TDs, and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

The aggressiveness and determination to get the big yards has seemingly disappeared from their play, which is now dictated by the front office. By curbing their natural abilities and supreme talent, this style of play takes the defenses off their toes and keeps the biggest playmakers on the field in check. All the excitement and hype surrounding these two is quickly disappearing, and fans of both teams are left with a hangover and the big question: what happened?

Now, I wouldn’t be so daft as to say this is the end of RGIII and Kaepernick. They both have excellent arms and incredible football smarts, and will have great success in the NFL in the years to come, but it’s nothing compared to what they could enjoy if they were allowed to run free. The forced conformity of the quarterback position kills the uniqueness and individual talents of those who can truly make a difference in the game with their legs.

Since this is a fantasy football blog, I would be remised to exclude a prediction about the rest of the season for these two preseason top-ten QBs.

For now, I consider both Kaepernick and Griffin matchup pending low-end QB1s.  Griffin has a lower ceiling, but higher floor than Kaepernick, as he has a stronger supporting cast in terms of receivers.

Colin Kaepernick

Prediction, Week 4- 228 Pass yds, 2 TD, 46 rush yds

Prediction, rest of season- 3,208 pass yds, 18 pass TDs, 7 Ints, 479 rush yds, 5 rush TDs

Notes:

-Low end QB1. Success largely dictated by health of Davis and Boldin and strength of the opposing secondary. Real value will if and when Crabtree returns.

-In his nine 2012 starts, Kaepernick only eclipsed the 70-yard rushing mark twice (only once in regular season) and rushed for 31 yards or less five times.

RGIII-

Prediction, Week 4- 376 pass yds, 3 TDs, INT, 26 rush yds

Prediction, rest of season- 3,647 yds, 28 TDs, 16 INTs, 513 rush yds, 5 TDs

Notes:

-Success will be largely dictated by his own health and the ability of his defense to keep the opposing offense off the field.

*Technically, Kaepernick was not a rookie last year, but it was his first year starting

**I know none of those QBs ever won the national championship, and one of them was essentially excommunicated from the University for selling awards and various OSU paraphernalia for tattoos, but they won lots of games for the school.

Advertisements

How to Cope with Fantasy Football Defeat

Of my many natural traits and talents, losing graciously is noticeably absent.

My patience, composure and ability to be dignified in defeat are lost somewhere among my German and Irish heritage.  Some may say I’m “overly competitive” and I “need to stop taking things so seriously” and “it’s impossible to win at setting the table or taking medicine.” I guess…

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Wrong.

There are lots of other things on this earth, like breathing and grass and FedEx drivers. But there is nothing people enjoy more than winning.

Think about it. Everything good in your life that makes you happy is a direct result of you winning in someway. New job? You beat out numerous other candidates in a competition to make money. New girlfriend/boyfriend? You bested other suitors to make out/make whoopee with the person of your choice. Sleep? You beat insomnia, an affliction that affects nearly 60 million Americans.

But as amazing as winning feels, it fails to even compare to the devastating and embarrassing pains of losing.

Losing sucks. To say I hate losing is an understatement. I despise it. I abhor it. I loathe it with a burning passion, stronger than a million suns multiplied by Kanye’s love for himself.

For the most part, losing doesn’t mean you aren’t the best. It means you are not even relatively close to the best. Rarely, if ever, do you compete against the best Madden player, the best pick-up artist or the best cards player. Unless you are extraordinarily talented in your field of competition, you compete against run-of-the-mill average Joe’s, who would just as soon go professional in your chosen activity as meet Michael Jordan at the North Pole for a sunbathing conference.

This terrible sensation of losing is multiplied infinitely when you lose to a friend. When you play team sports, you have a sense of camaraderie and friendship to lean on in defeat. But, when you participate in a solo activity, such as… Oh I don’t know… Fantasy Football… and you lose to a friend? Let’s just say it’s a tough pill to swallow.

These are people you communicate with on a regular basis, and now their main talking point is how they are better than you. I’d rather listen to a monotone professor talk about the economic impact of paint for three hours than listen to my friend talk about beating me for three seconds. Unfortunately, the verbal beat down doesn’t last three seconds, it lasts all week until they either find another victim to pick on or they lose themselves.

Losing in fantasy football can be a humbling experience. Most of you probably spent some time preparing for your draft by researching on them interwebz or watching Sportscenter to find players you like and players to stay away from. You then participated in a draft, either online or offline and selected a group of players you believed to be an adequate solution to making the playoffs or at least compete with your opponents.

Then week one roles around and you get donkey-blasted by Peyton Manning’s seven touchdowns, Adrian Peterson or Anquan Boldin (I heard he wasn’t even supposed to be the best receiver on the team) and your hopes of an undefeated fantasy season are gone quicker than Natty light at a frat part. It’s quite disparaging seeing your handcrafted team crumble week one, especially at the hands of your so-called friend. One minute, they are all buddy-buddy, like “hey man, how’s your brother doing at school?” and the next, they’re “I’M GONNA RIP OUT YOUR LUNGS AND PLAY RAQUET BALL WITH THEM WHILE I BURY YOU IN THE MASSIVE PILE OF CRAP WHICH IS YOUR FANTASY FOOTBALL TEAM!”

What jerks!

In summary, losing is quite possibly the worst thing ever, so try and avoid it as much as possible for the rest of the season.

Week three promises to be interesting. The blockbuster trade sending Trent Richardson to the Colts, effectively ending any semblance of a season for the Browns should make for an interesting matchup with the 49ers.

I’m benching all Patriots this week, as Brady has simply looked awful and Ridley is running like a dying dog on the field. Gronkowski is unlikely to play this week against a stout TB defense, but New England definitely needs him to return quickly.

Thursday night football pits the Chiefs against the Eagles in Philadelphia, as the city of brotherly love welcomes back the coach who looks like he ate his other brother. Both teams are looking very strong through the first two weeks, with the Eagles averaging close to 450 yards of total offense a game and the Chiefs are undefeated behind their new signal-caller. DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy have simply been unreal the first two games, but look for them to come back down to earth just a bit tonight against a surprising KC Defense.

So here’s to a victorious week three of the 2013 Fantasy Football season! But just in case you fall a bit short this week, here a few methods for coping with your defeat:

-Congratulate and compliment your opponent on their well-drafted team and superior management skills.

-Go for a run (exercise releases endorphins which makes you happy!)

-Turn off the T.V. and be thankful for all of your blessings

-Take a long walk on the beach

-Call your grandparents and ask them to tell you stories of simpler times

-Reminisce over old yearbook photos

-Write in your diary/journal/blog

-Remind your opponent they still owe you money from a bet

-Remind your opponent the NFL team you cheer for beat the NFL team they cheer for

-Pretend you didn’t have time to set your line-up before the games

-Tell your opponent they got lucky

-Talk to a therapist

-Angrily tweet something

-Take a good long, hard look in the mirror and ponder what your life has become

-Cry deeply

-Complain incessantly about points your players should have had

-Like a Facebook break-up status

-Go on a profanity-laced tirade about how the universe screwed you over

-Drink yourself into a stupor

-Send tear soaked letters to Matthew Berry begging for fantasy advice

-Delete your fantasy football team

-Write a song about losing (It definitely hasn’t been done before)

-Junk punch a man (it’s probably better if they are smaller than you and alone)

-Spoil an ending to a movie people are waiting in line to see

-Ask a woman when the baby is due (warning: may end up in your decapitation)

-Punch/kick/throw an inanimate object

-Walk on the grass where a sign specifically says, “don’t walk on the grass”

-Eat a gallon of ice cream

-Make loud noises in a library

-Find a high school dropout and start a meth lab in New Mexico

-Take Candy from a baby

-Duct tape your next opponent to their bed Sunday morning so they can’t adjust their lineups

-Tell your best friend you have tickets to see their favorite band and then burn them right in front of their face

-Honk at old ladies crossing the street

-Smack an ice cream cone out of a small child’s hand

-Play home run derby with your mom’s favorite china

-Pee in your neighbor’s pool

-Pee into your neighbor’s pool (There’s a difference)

-Defecate in a public pool (Oooh! There’s a Snickers in the pool)

-Tell a small child that Santa/the Easter Bunny/the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist (bonus points if you ruin all three for them!)

-Go streaking through the quad

-Go streaking through town hall

-Go streaking anywhere (except places with small children…it won’t end well)

-Throw a drink in someone’s face

-If you live in Naperville, start burglarizing houses (apparently that’s the hip ‘n’ happening thing to do these days)

-Hire Jack Bauer to torture Adam Schefter for inside fantasy information

-Hire a team of professionals to kidnap your fantasy players and bring them to an undisclosed, secret location (like the batcave) and hold a team meeting encouraging them to score more points

-Legally change your name and social security number and then move out of the country

-Ride on a wrecking ball (naked) through Miley Cyrus’s house and see how she likes it

-Leave a horse head in the bed of your opponents starting QB

-Fake your own death and write a letter to your league, stating your dying wish is to win your fantasy league (what jerks wouldn’t agree to that?)

-Become a recluse in the sewers, raise an army of rats and crab people and wait…soon the day will come…

-Burn down a playground (if you can’t be happy, why should little kids get to be happy?)

-Throw snakes into a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit

-Ride an ostrich (Don’t really know how this would help or if it is physically possible, but how badass would that be?)

-Go to the zoo and have a feces fight with a monkey

-Sell American secrets to foreign governments

-Give the AllSpark to Megatron (Not Calvin Johnson)

-Win the Powerball jackpot and buy your own NFL team (who needs fantasy when you OWN a real team! Plus, I think the Jags are available for $20 and a chia pet)

-Send sexually explicit photographs to a member of the opposite sex and then run for mayor of New York

-Sell your soul to Satan

-Drive a tank through a building

-Drive a tank through a Westboro Baptist rally

-Drive a tank through anything

Or lastly

-Get drunk and write a blog about how to lose in fantasy football!

Fantasy Football is back!

It has come to my immediate attention that I am seemingly incapable of writing blogs shorter than a couple thousand words. So starting next week, I’m going to self-impose (just like universities trying to avoid real punishment) a 1,500-word limit on these posts, so I’m not writing pieces of biblical length. Hang on, my toilet is still flushing. Let me go fix that, and we’ll get started.

Much better.

With week one in the books, I advance to week 2 with an 4-1 overall record, one of those wins includes a massive comeback win against a team with both Peyton Manning and Demariyus Thomas. But, it’s the nine-point loss that is garnering attention in this post.

Let’s start with the three Patriots players (Ridley, Thompkins and Sudfeld) who combined for a heart-stopping 6.8 points AGAINST THE BUFFALO BILLS. Ridley, a consensus second round pick, managed 46 yards and 2 fumbles (1 lost) before being benched in favor of Shane Vereen, who consequently had a fantastic day (minus breaking his wrist and landing on the IR for 8 weeks). Now, while I will never (publicly) cheer for injuries to players, and I feel bad that he will miss playing time (not really), this unfortunate event could not have been timelier. Had it not been for this injury, my second overall pick would have been nothing more than a glorified bench warmer for the upcoming week against the hapless Jets.

Kenbrell Thompkins received 14 looks from Brady, but only manage to weasel four receptions for 46 yards. However, it only took one week for Amendola to suffer an injury, so it’s going to be hard to stay mad at him next week. Zach “Not Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez or even Tim Tebow” Sudfeld, managed a whopping ZERO POINTS. He deserves negative points because he dropped a catch right into the hands of a Bills defender. I’m sorry, you are 6’7” and can’t manage to catch one pass, or get open enough to generate targets in an offense designed to get the TE the ball in the redzone? Hello waiver wire.

But, the piece de resistance of my fantasy calamity including three touchdowns taken away via instant replay in the Lions game, two Alfred Morris fumbles and Phil Dawson missing his first field goal as a 49er (what the hell Phil?), had to be Danny Trevethan, linebacker, Denver Broncos.

This dingbat factory intercepted a poorly thrown Flacco ball (redundant, I know) and ran it back for a touchdown to improve the Broncos’ lead and add six more points to fantasy owners of the Denver defense everywhere. OH WAIT! NO HE DIDN’T, BECAUSE HE DROPPED THE BALL AT THE ONE-YARD LINE! IT WASN’T EVEN CLOSE TO A TOUCHDOWN! HE COULDN’T HOLD ONTO THE ONLY IMPORTANT THING ON THE FIELD LONG ENOUGH BEFORE HE STARTED CELEBRATING!

This is like Charlie finding the last golden ticket, running all the way home like the good people of the village told him, and then dropping it into a sewer twenty feet in front of his house. EXCEPT IT DIDN’T COST HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE SIX POINTS ON THEIR FANTASY TEAM.

On a separate note, Leon Lett will be holding a “thank god I’m not the biggest idiot in NFL history anymore” parade celebrating imbecilic nature of Trevethan’s premature celebration. Naturally, he made some excuse and apologized, but THAT’S NOT ENOUGH AND I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU FOR THE BRIEF MOMENT OF FANTASY AGONY YOU CAUSED ME, EVEN THOUGH I STILL WOULD HAVE LOST IF YOU RAN IT IN AND DID YOUR JOB!

In other news, you probably had other players, who were not on my fantasy team, so hopefully I cover them in this next section.

Game Recaps and Fantasy Notes

Baltimore Ravens (0-1) v Denver Broncos (1-0)

If you played Peyton Manning this week, I’m sorry. It’s crushing having your first fantasy loss of the season handed to you on a Thursday night game. If you own Peyton Manning, don’t get used to that. No QB has thrown 7 TD passes since the 1960’s and that wasn’t even football by comparison. No doubt, Peyton will be a fantasy stud all season, but don’t count on him single-handedly winning games for you week in and week out.

I’m sure Julius Thomas was picked up in almost every league on Thursday night after his dominating performance (5-110-2). While Dreessen and Tamme are out, Thomas is a lock in the top-ten for TEs. To the hair-tearing-out Decker owners, get used to it. Welker won’t put up two TDs every game, but he will easily see 10+ targets a game, snagging a lot of Peyton’s attention away from Decker. Demariyus “only winners get wings” Thomas (5-161-2) got lucky with the screen pass that went 78 yards for a touchdown, but he is still the Broncos clear-cut number 1. If you own them, don’t start any Broncos backs until a decision is made for the starter.

Ray Rice posted a serviceable game with 71 total yards and a TD, but if the Ravens fall behind early, they take to the air. Flacco essentially ignored Rice in the second half, on his way to throwing 62 passes to the Ravens shaky receiving corps. If you are in need of a TE, look by the way of Dallas Clark. He saw 12 targets and hauled in 87 yards, and would have had a TD if he just kept his eye on the ball.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) v Chicago Bears (1-0)

The Chicago Bears said their defensive game plan for the week was stopping AJ Green. Yea, that didn’t really happen. Green caught 9 of 13 targets for 162 yards and two TDs, and were it not for pass interference, he would have had three. News flash for the rest of the league: you can plan on covering Green, but it’s just not going to happen.

However, I think the biggest story of the day was the Bears Offensive Line. Zero sacks allowed on Jay Cutler. That’s like a Santa saying no to Christmas. That is a great sign for the Bear’s offense, as Jay should be more inclined to make good decisions without fearing for his life. Without taking the ball to the ground once, Cutler tossed for 242 yards, 2 TDs and only 1 pick. Brandon Marshall, yet again, was the main beneficiary, posting an 8-104-1 stat line. Martellus Bennett grabbed a score in his bears debut, and Forte racked up 91 total yards and a TD.

Dalton threw for 282-2-2 and Eifert and Gresham caught 5 a piece for 47 and 35 yards respectively. Benjarvus Green-Ellis was uninspiring rushing for 25 yards on 14 carries (1.8 YPC), but managed to bully his way into the end zone for a TD. Giovani Bernard, on the other hand, carried the ball for 22 yards on only 4 attempts. While the law firm is getting the bulk of the carries now, Bernard will be the one to own come season’s end.

Buffalo Bills (0-1) v New England Patriots (1-0)

Unsurprisingly, Tom Brady connected well with newcomer Danny Amendola (10-104), but the rest was fairly surprising. Julian Edelman emerged from the fantasy sleeper crypt for 79 yards and 2 TDs and wildcard Shane Vereen totaled 159 yards after the benching of Stevan Ridley (9-46). Vereen would have next week’s top RB spot locked on the Patriots depth chart, had he not suffered a broken wrist. Ridley said he understood the reason he was benched, but now he has to prove it this week. This is a BLESSING for Ridley owners (myself) as I bought high on this “sure fire” RB2. I predict he will have a huge game next week against the somehow undefeated Jets.

The Zach Sudfeld experiment is over after one target from Brady. However, don’t give up on Kenbrell Thompkins. He was targeted 14 times and had a chance to make a catch that would have resulted in a touchdown. Brady loves Thompkins and he won’t give up on him that quickly. I’m starting him with confidence next week.

EJ Manuel served the Bills well, and Stevie Johnson ended up with a TD, but the Bills’ passing game is a very high-risk, low-reward situation. And Fred Jackson is not dead after all.  Spiller owners will not be thrilled with Jackson’s 13 carries for 67 yards and 41 receiving yards. Jackson bested Spiller in both yards per catch and yards per carry. This trend won’t last long though, as Spiller is too explosive to be held in check for long.

Miami Dolphins (1-0) v Cleveland Browns (0-1)

So, one week and Mike Wallace is already complaining about being in Miami. Let’s do a little math here. Wallace makes $12 million a year and plays 16 games. That equates to $750,000 a game. Wallace also had one catch in this game. “I don’t feel like talking… Ask coach, not my game plan.” Shut up. Shut your mouth. You get paid to play a game. You are getting grossly overpaid to open up the Dolphins offense and you aren’t even that great in the first place. I, along with about 99.5% of the world’s population, would gladly get paid $12 million a year to run around on a field and catch a football. Just shut up.

In the other game news, Thomas and Miller combined for 17 yards on 18 carries (woof) and Brian Hartline (9-114-1) matched his touchdown total from last year. Don’t give up on Miller yet, he will be the heart and soul of the Dolphins offense in the near future, he just had a rough go against the Browns stout run D. Caleb Sturgis looked pretty impressive too.

On the Cleveland/losing side, Trent Richardson didn’t live up to his preseason hype, but I wouldn’t read much into that either, as the Dolphins run D is just as impressive as the Browns. The big news out of Cleveland is the big man Jordan Cameron (9-108-1). I wasn’t sold on him last week, and I’m still not, but you can’t deny he is going to be Weeden’s go-to guy when the pressure is on.

Detroit Lions (1-0) v Minnesota Adrian Petersons (0-1)

That’s not a mistake in the heading. Minnesota will live and die by Adrian Peterson, because there is nobody else on this team that can consistently move the ball. Jerome Simpson somehow posted seven receptions for 140 yards, but he, along with every other Vikings receiver, will be plagued with Ponder’s inability to accurately throw to his own players. Peterson mustered 93 rush yards, 78 of which came on his first run of the game, and came away with 3 TDs. However, there are definitely some questions that need to be answered after yesterday’s game. Mainly, after his first run, he ran the ball 17 times for 15 yards. Did he lose a little explosiveness or is the Lions frontline that good? It’s definitely something to keep an eye on, especially since teams will be keying in on him after last year’s dominance.

If there is ever a time I hate replay, it was yesterday. I lost a Matt Stafford passing TD and 2 Reggie Bush TDs due to instant replay. Granted, the correct calls were made, it killed a little bit of my soul each time a TD was awarded to my player and then stripped away. Reggie Bush, as long as he is healthy, will be a top 5 back this season. Boom. Be sure to cuff him with Bell if you own him. Calvin Johnson lost a touchdown yesterday to the dumb rule named after him, leaving him with nothing to show for the day.

Tennessee Titans (1-0) v Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) 

This game started off bad, and ended even worse. As a matter of fact, I can’t say for certain whether they actually finished this game or they just stopped playing and gave the Titans the win. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, this was an utter embarrassment. The Steelers went up 2-0 on the OPENING KICKOFF when Dunce McGillicuddy (not his actual name) fielded the ball at the half yard line, then took it back into the end zone to down it for … A SAFETY! GO TITANS. The Steelers then proceeded to lose Maurkice Pouncey for the season when David DeCastro decided to chop block HIS OWN CENTER! Look at the video and try to figure out for yourself what happened. It would be downright hysterical if it weren’t such a serious injury to Pouncey.

Isaac Redman was so bad (8 carries, 9 yards and 2 fumbles) that the Steelers re-signed Jonathan Dwyer, who they cut a couple weeks ago. My suggestion, don’t waste a waiver priority on Dwyer. Let your friends do that, because the Steelers showed no semblance of a team who will do anything positive this year. Jericho Cotchery caught a touchdown, which is stunning because did anybody actually know he was still in the league?

For the undefeated Titans, CJ?K was average and unlucky as Jackie “used to be on the Chiefs” Battle came in to vulture a touchdown. If you own any other Titans player aside from Chris Johnson or Rob Bironas, you’re doing it wrong. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) v New York Jets (1-0)

If you saw the end of this game, you know the Jets should be 0-1. Of all the dumb, idiotic, moronic things you can do, hitting a quarterback when he’s running out of bounds, out of field goal range, when you team has the lead is probably up there on that list. That 15-yard penalty put the Jets in field goal range and cost the Bucs a win they desperately needed for the NFC South. Otherwise, it was a fairly uninspiring game for both teams.

Vincent Jackson picked up right where he left off last year, catching 7 of 13 targets for 154 yards. Mike Williams (4-52-1) was right on par for where you’d expect him to be, and Doug Martin (24-65-1) was fairly grounded. Again, the success of Buccaneers fantasy players rests on the ability of Freeman to throw accurately on a consistent basis.

For the Jets, Geno looked mediocre as expected, but the win will definitely buy him time as the starter for a few more weeks. He was the leading rusher on the Jets with 6 carries for 47 yards, which says something, as Powell and Ivory combined for 22 carries for 44 yards. I would look somewhere else in terms of ground game help. This apparently could be the year of the resurgent old TE’s as Winslow was the Jets leading receiver with 7 receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. For now, he’s a serviceable back up for fantasy.

Oakland Raiders (0-1) v Indianapolis Colts (1-0)

The story of this game is Terrelle Pryor. As a Buckeyes fan, I’m mixed on how to react to Pryor’s success, but since no one really cares about how I feel, we’ll move on to fantasy.  His passer rating will never be pretty, but he has potential to be a solid back-up QB because he can do things like lead the Raiders in rushing with 112 yards on 13 attempts. I wouldn’t waste a waiver on him, unless you are desperate for the QB help, and I mean desperate.

McFadden stayed healthy, which is a Raider’s victory in itself, and he managed to tally 64 yards and a TD. It remains to be seen how consistent he can be over the course of the season, but Pryor taking carries away won’t help his cause.

For the Colts, Luck looked sharp, going 18-23 for 178 yards, 2 Tds and no INTs, but it was by no means his most productive game as a passer. He did however, out rush Ahmad Bradshaw, who showed little signs of life in his Colts debut. It’s going to be a very frustrating season for both Bradshaw and Ballard owners. As usual, Reggie Wayne (8-96-1) was Luck’s main target. A couple weeks ago, the Colts said they planned to balance out their offensive attack, however once they figure out they don’t really have a running game, they will turn the ball back over to Luck, leading to more production from the Colts’ receivers.

Atlanta Falcons (0-1) v New Orleans Saints (1-0)

The triumphant return of head coach Sean Payton to New Orleans. This was a pretty typical game for both teams in terms of fantasy production.  Drew Brees threw for 357 yards spreading the ball around to 7 different receivers, Sproles racked up 110 yards mostly through the air and Colston and Graham both caught TDs. For Ingram owners, it might be time to look another direction, as Thomas outperformed Ingram on the ground and in Sean Payton’s offense, that’s usually grounds for a switch on the depth chart. 

On the other side of the ball, Tony Gonzalez (3-36-1) is probably never going to retire, because nobody can really stop him. Matt Ryan looked impressive 304 yards on 25 attempts for 2 Tds and 1 INT, and that interception was the result of a ball just tipped out of Gonzo’s hands. Julio Jones owners are happy while Roddy White owners are sad, and next week it will be the other way around. Jones (7-76-1) and White (2-19-0) never seem to be able to put up two consistent weeks in a row. Steven Jackson totaled 122 yards and dropped a pass that could have produced a touchdown, so it was a decent week one performance. Keep an eye on Harry Douglas (4-93). He’s definitely not worth a pick-up now, but could be in the future if his production stays consistent.

Seattle Seahawks (1-0) v Carolina Panthers (0-1)

So, Super Bowl contenders, huh? The Seahawks are going to need to play much better than a 12-7 win against the Panthers if they want to make it into February. I’ll give them credit they held Cam in check, but still 12-7 against the Panthers? Russell Wilson threw for 320 yards on 25 attempts and the Seahawks only managed one touchdown against a very suspect defense. Lynch turned in an unbeastly 17-43 performance and Doug Baldwin was the leading receiver with 7 receptions for 91 yards. Everyone who reached on Sidney Rice is probably banging their head against a wall, and I can’t tell you it will get better. Doug Baldwin will be more productive this season than Sidney Rice, so it might be time for a switch.

DeAngelo Williams actually looked pretty good against the tough Seattle defense, which should inspire confidence in his owners. With Stewart out for the better chunk of the season, Williams has the potential to be a decent RB2/flex player especially if Cam gets him involved in the passing game. Greg Olsen caught 5 of 10 passes thrown his way for 56 yards and Steve Smith added 51 yards and a touchdown. Nothing really exciting to see here folks, move along.

Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) v Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

How bad are the Jaguars? They lost 28-2 to the Chiefs. That should answer that question.

Granted the Chiefs are actually shaping up to be a somewhat decent team with Alex Smith at the helm, they are in no way a team anybody should only score 2 points against. Scoring two points means the Jaguars weren’t even savvy enough to move the ball into a range where somebody could kick it 55 yards through the big yellow thing. MJD was a dud, taking 15 carries for 45 yards, and posting fewer yards per carry than Blaine Gabbert. Cecil “Matthew Berry’s “The Truth”” Shorts pulled in only 3 of 11 targets for 40 yards. I won’t get on Cecil’s case here because when your QB throws 16 of 35 for 121 yards and 2 interceptions, there really isn’t much you can do as a receiver.

Jamaal Charles posted 100 total yards and a touchdown on 19 touches, despite leaving the game for a minor calf injury. No need to worry, he will be good to go next week. If you are a Dwayne Bowe owner, pay attention. Dwayne Bowe is never going to have big numbers. Alex Smith doesn’t throw down field, because he isn’t confident in his abilities, thus taking away all of Bowe’s value. Even when he had Crabtree on the Niners, who is a better receiver than Bowe, Crabtree was never utilized to his full potential. Get used to a lot of 40-yard performances with a TD sprinkled in every couple weeks for good measure.

San Francisco 49ers (1-0) v Green Bay Packers (0-1)

Shout out to Kurt Felson! He owes me $10: $5 for the 49ers beating the pack and $5 for James Jones not scoring a TD!

I think Green Bay is a very strong team, however until they learn to adapt in game time scenarios, they have zero chance of making it to the top of the NFC. Last year Kaepernick torched them on the ground, this year he did it through the air using one receiver. Looking at the 49ers depth chart at the receiver position, it’s one name and one name only that sticks out. Anquan Boldin. Aside from Vernon (6-98-2) who had a beastly game, Anquan Boldin is the only other player to throw to, and the Packers couldn’t stop him. Thus, he racked up a league leading 208 yards and a TD.

Boldin is a stud receiver. He’s not fast, but he has strong hands and makes plays when his team needs him the most. Don’t expect that many points from him ever again, but it’s definitely a good sign that him and Kaepernick are connecting at such a strong level. Kaepernick has definitely been coached to stay in the pocket and protect himself on runs, which is great for the 49ers but terrible for fantasy purposes.

For the Packers, Lacy was (fat) unimpressive and James Jones was held without a catch. The verdict is definitely still out on Jermichael Finley, who is a head case with a terrible tendency of dropping the ball. If you grabbed Jordy Nelson despite his injuries, you are probably feeling pretty good right now. It’s clear Cobb and Nelson are the main men in GB. And Rodgers looked pretty damn good too.

St. Louis Rams (1-0) v Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

He lives! Larry Fitzgerald emerges from the depths of fantasy receiver purgatory after being bogged down by virtual QB crap, to grab 8 of 14 targets for 80 yards and 2 TDs. Do you think he’s happy to have Carson throwing to him? Does a one-footed duck swim in a circle? Carson Palmer (327-2-1) threw to a bevy of other receivers including Andre Roberts (8-97) and Michael Floyd (4-82), but it remains to be seen how Housler will be incorporated into offense upon his return from injury. Mendenhall was decent, sporting a 3.8 YPC, however the incorporation of Alfonso Smith curbed his production significantly. Look for this trend to continue in the near future in order to save Mendenhall’s knees.

I believe Matthew Berry said “wake me up when [Jared Cook] produces.” Well, wake up Mr. Roto. Jared Cook led the Rams with ten targets, pulling in 7 receptions for 141 yards and 2 TDs, and would have had another, if that pesky Honey Badger didn’t strip him of the ball at the 3-yard line. Cook managed almost half of Bradford’s total yards on the day, so that should tell you something about owning other Rams’ receivers. Richardson totaled 96 yards on 25 touches, and should be considered a low-end RB2/Flex position.

New York Giants (0-1) v Dallas Cowboys (1-0)

The overrated and overpaid Quarterback Bowl! It’s amazing how different public opinion can be on two brothers who play the same sport and the same position. Why is Peyton so loveable and Eli so easy to hate? What happened there? It was almost impossible not to laugh when his first throw of the game was straight to a defensive lineman standing ten yards away from him. Yet, despite his three picks, he tossed for 450 yards and 4 TDs, leading to another strong yet terrible performance.  Victor Cruz (5-118-3), Hakeem Nicks (5-114) and Rueben Randle (5-101) all had strong performances, but don’t expect these numbers to continue consistently in the coming weeks. I like Randle over Nicks for the immediate future.

David “fumbletron” Wilson, was so spectacularly miserable, the Giants went out and re-signed Brandon Jacobs after his historic five-carry-cut-in-December season for the 49ers last year. If you wasted a waiver on Jacobs, I am truly sorry for not getting this post out sooner, as he will be injured about 20 minutes from now

Meanwhile, the Cowboys performed as expected, with the exception of Dez Bryant who reeled in four receptions for 22 yards, before spraining his foot. It’s going to be a rough go of things for Bryant owners for awhile as he deals with his ailing left foot as well as extra coverage. And the Cowboys won at home against the Giants! How sad is it that this is big news for Cowboys fans?

Washington Redskins (0-1) v Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

Chip Kelly said the Eagles were too slow on offense against the Redskins… Good God, woman. The Eagles offense looked better than it has in years under the new direction of Kelly, which is great for three owners. DeSean Jackson owners (7-104-1), LeSean McCoy Owners (31-184-1) and anybody who owns offensive players playing against the Eagles. With the super fast moving Eagles offense, opposing offenses will have more attempts to make things happen on the field.

Vick played well, so if you are smart, you will trade him now before he gets injured or loses stock after playing against a stronger defense. It’s clear DeSean is the only Eagles receiver to own right now.

RGIII made his return after SportsCenter spent all summer hyping him up more than Jesus before the last supper, but it wasn’t anything to celebrate about. Alfred Morris was awful, but salvaged his performance with a TD, and Garcon was slightly disappointing. It will be interesting to see if Leonard Hankerson overtakes Morgan’s spot somewhere down the line after his 5-80-2 performance, but for now RGIII spreads the ball around too much to count on any receiver other than Garcon at this point.

Houston Texans (1-0) v San Diego Chargers (0-1)

The San Diego Chargers box score looks like they only played one half of a game, minus Rivers’ four TD tosses. They ran 51 total offensive plays, which I know if pretty high for one half, but still. Ryan Mathews caught a TD, but was otherwise his usual terrible self, only managing 33 yards on 13 carries. Eddie Royal led the team in receptions with three, and two of them were touchdowns! BUY BUY BUY! Just kidding, please don’t own any chargers, unless they are in backup positions.

For the Texans, Schaub actually looked pretty good completing 34 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson grabbed 12 receptions for 146 yards and Daniels (NAPERVILLE PRIDE) posted a 5-67-2 stat line. Foster definitely did not look like his usual dominant self, only managing 57 yards on 18 carries for a 3.2 YPC. Tate on the other hand looked explosive and ready to pounce on any chance he received, carrying the ball 9 times for 55 yards (6.1 YPC). Keep an eye on Foster’s workload as the season continues, but unfortunately his best days are over.

Week one recap complete! I need a nap.

Predicting the future: 2013-2014 NFL Season Style

As the leading NFL expert in my house and resident sick person on the couch, I have taken it upon myself to 100% correctly predict the outcome of the 2013 NFL season. As this is the last boring Sunday for the next 6 months or so, I have dedicated an hour or so to bring you, my loyal readers, entertainment to hold you over until next weekend. Some people say patience is a virtue; others say those who wait, get left behind.

So take what you will from that pearl of wisdom.

I’m not going to lie, my health is declining for the night, so before I start babbling non-sense, I’m just going to finish up with the introduction right here. Ladies and Gentlemen: The 2013 NFL Season.

 AFC

AFC North: Offensively challenged or defensively superior? I’m inclined to believe the former.

1. Cincinnati Bengals- The continuous development of Andy Dalton coupled with the late season emergence of Giovani Bernard and the stout Bengals Defense will lead them to the division title.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers- Tomlin wants to balance out the running and passing game differential, but that will be hard to do unless he can keep his backs healthy. Expect the Steelers to limp into the playoffs in a fairly weak AFC this year.

3. Baltimore Ravens- The Ravens lost a lot of talent in the offseason due to roster moves and injuries, which will hurt their production on both sides of the ball. The Ravens were dumb to give Flacco all that money.

4. Cleveland Browns- Cleveland without Phil Dawson is like Cleveland without Lebron… oh, wait. With a constantly improving defense and stud running back, Weeden will be the reason the Browns hold down the cellar this year.

AFC East: The Dolphins are working their way up, but it’s still the Patriots division to lose.

1. New England Patriots- They are going to win the division, but the question of dominance hinges on Gronkowski’s health and the ability of Brady to bond with his new receivers. The running game and defense will take care of themselves.

2. Miami Dolphins- They are actually getting to a level where they can compete again. Tannehill is still too young and inexperienced to get them to the next level, but offseason moves and the beginning of Lamar Miller’s rise should make them a competitive team.

3. Buffalo Bills- Once Manuel gets back into action, the Bills could actually be a fun team to watch. CJ is a dynamic playmaker that Buffalo can lean on for a bit, but they will need a better solution than Jeff Tuel.

4. New York Jets- SELL! SELL! SELL! This is a dumpster fire of a team and organization. They should just gut the team and clean house. Silver linings do not exist for the Jets.

AFC South: Colts and Texans are the only teams to watch here. The Titans and Jaguars are only good for fantasy running backs.

1. Indianapolis Colts- If Bradshaw stays healthy, I think the Colts are a virtual lock for the division. The passing game is studly with a bunch of different options for Luck, and the defense isn’t half bad either.

2. Houston Texans- Welcome to the decline of the Texans. Foster is over-worked and Schaub and Johnson are getting older and less explosive. The defense should be able to hold this team afloat for a couple more seasons, but they definitely need to start looking into long-term solutions.

3. Tennessee Titans- Jake Locker is your QB? Pass. The Titans O-line has drastically improved, which will be nice for Locker and Chris Johnson, but that’s about the only bright spot on this team. The receiving group situation is as clear as a piece of painted over glass.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- They just need to move to London already.

AFC West: The only interesting thing about this division is how the Chiefs will look with Smith under center. That says something.

1. Denver Broncos- Peyton and his steeds will run away with this division faster than sanity fleeing away from Gary Busey. It doesn’t matter who is running the ball with the receiving corps Peyton has. Their defense doesn’t hurt either.

2. Kansas City Chiefs- Before Smith came, I’m not sure the people of Kansas City even knew what a Quarterback was. The success of the Chiefs depends on their ability to get the ball into Charles’s hands and plug up the massive holes on defense. Remember this from last year? (Play the soundwave clip)

3. San Diego Chargers- Rivers is on the decline, and there is no real running threat to keep this offense moving. Their defense is randomly pretty solid, but it won’t help them when the offense can’t keep control of the ball.

4. Oakland Raiders- If Pryor starts, this could be a pretty fun team to watch. Don’t get any ideas though. They will still be awful. Run DMC’s durability is equal to that of an egg at an anvil-dropping factory and their defense leaves everything to be desired.

AFC Playoff teams:

1. Denver Broncos 2. New England Patriots 3. Cincinnati Bengals 4. Indianapolis Colts 5. Houston Texans 6. Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC

NFC North- Tough division with very little parity. I feel like almost anyone of these teams could make the playoffs in a wild card spot.

1. Green Bay Packers- A running game in Green Bay? Bring out the Ryan Grant jerseys. Aaron Rodgers will pretty much single-handedly carry this team to the playoffs, but he has a bevy of help on both sides of the ball to help him do so.

2. Detroit Lions- Do I really think the Lions will place second in this division? I’m not counting on it, but I have 20 bucks on them finishing with a better record than the Bears. Hey, it’s not that crazy. They have a stacked offense with the addition of Bush, and their defense isn’t anything to scoff at either.

3. Chicago Bears- The success of the Bears is depending on the success of Trestman’s offensive scheme. They certainly have the talent on both sides of the ball to make a case for taking the division.

4. Minnesota Vikings- Ponder needs to get on his game and quick. I know he led them to the playoffs last year, but it was with a lot of help from other teams. I don’t think Peterson will be as godly as he was last season.

NFC East: The picturesque division of mediocrity. All teams will have a record hovering around .500.

1. Washington Redskins– RGIII will be the key factor in the Redskins taking the NFC East.

2. Dallas Cowboys- Well, Tony Romo got paid. Do you think all the extra cash to a player with one playoff win in his career will help get the Cowboys back into the playoffs? Not likely. I feel like the Cowboys just signed their death warrant.

3. New York Giants- Eli isn’t elite, their defense is suspect and their running game is unproven and shallow with the injury to Andre Brown. Need I say more?

4. Philadelphia Eagles- How will Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme fit translate in the NFL? My guess is probably pretty well, but the Eagles don’t have enough talent in the supporting cast to make a serious run anywhere.

NFC South: I don’t think the NFC South believes in defenses. Each team has the ability to put up 40 or 50 any given day.

1. Atlanta Falcons- The addition of Jackson in the offseason will benefit the Falcon’s offense, but it’s the losses on defense that could cause concern.

2. New Orleans Saints- The return of Sean Payton will help get the Saints back to their winning ways. Expect Brees to crush it through the air, as usual.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Inconsistency continually plagues the Buccaneers, who have the talent to take the division, but never seem to hit their full potential. The addition of Revis on D could be an X-factor, as long as he stays healthy.

4. Carolina Panthers- Their running game, aside from Newton, is extremely suspect, and there still isn’t anyone to take away the pressure from a 5’9” Steve Smith. One of their teammates predicted a Super Bowl last year (before he was injured). This year, I think expectations are a little lower.

NFC West: The toughest division in Football.

1. San Francisco 49ers- A suffocating defense, highlighted by the best linebacking corps in all of football, is the reason they remain on top. Kaepernick is on his way to stardom and the running game never seems to fail. If the secondary plays consistently strong football and someone steps up in Crabtree’s absence, it’s hard to ignore the 49ers as Super Bowl favorites.

2. Seattle Seahawks- I truly believe Russell will struggle this year. I think teams will figure him out and an injured receiving corps does him no favors. That being said, they will still be a playoff caliber team. They have the toughest environment for opposing teams in all of professional sports and their defense is right up there with the best.

3. Arizona Cardinals- Don’t sleep on the Cardinals this year. A new head coach and a Quarterback not picked out of a vending machine, paired up with surprisingly strong defense could cause some teams real problems this year. The Cardinals downfall is their weak O-Line and the knees of their running backs.

4. St. Louis Rams- Their offense has definitely declined since losing Jackson and Amendola last year, but their defense might be able to keep them alive. Don’t forget, they managed to beat and tie the 49ers last year.

NFC Playoff Teams:

1. San Francisco 49ers 2. Green Bay Packers 3. Atlanta Falcons 4. Washington Redskins 5. Seattle Seahawks 6. New Orleans Saints

Playoffs:

AFC

Wild Card Round:

24 Bengals – Steelers 13

38 Colts – Texans 28

Divisional:

45 Broncos – Colts 24 (ESPN will have a field day with Peyton Manning)

31 Patriots – Bengals 28

Conference:

35 Broncos – Patriots 31 (The Pats should have kept Tebow)

NFC

Wild Card Round:

21 Redskins – Seahawks 31 (RGIII spontaneously combusts, ready for next opener)

28 Falcons – Saints 34

Divisional:

38 49ers – Saints 24

24 Packers – Seahawks 21 (Suck it Pete Carroll!)

Conference:

27 49ers – Packers 24 (Rob wins money off of various Packers friends)

SUPER BOWL:

35 49ers – Broncos 28 (just like old times)

SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS: 49ers! DEFINITELY NOT A BIAS PICK!

There you have it folks. How the 2013-2014 season will unfold to the t. Now that you know how the season will end, you can spend the rest of the season playing fantasy football and reading my blogs! Go Football!