Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fantasy Football Week 3 Preview - Early Edition

Even though I'm writing this column much earlier than I typically do, I find myself under no less time induced pressure. Rather than discuss deadlines or the miniature amounts of time I have to write this, let's jump into the weeks games.

In the only battle of 0-2s this week,

Mr. Scott's F**kUps (0-2) vs. LT Get Outta My Way (0-2)

Last week the F**kUps showed promise, thanks to an incredible game by QB Eli Manning. The team also made several new acquisitions, which could have helped lead the team to a win (such as RB Willis McGahee), however, most did not make the week 2 starting roster. This week the holes on defensive have been plugged, but injured WR Domenik Hixon and LB Brian Urlacher are still listed as starters while McGahee sits on the bench. It's a questionable strategy to implore when seeking your first victory, however, given the F**kUps opponents this week, it may still prove to be successful.
Last week LT was pushed out of the way by his older brother, who laid a 57 point beatdown on his best man's best effort. The offense, other than Frank Gore, really let LT down with both WRs Greg Jennings and Antonio Bryant being shut out. At least Bryant has an excuse, he's injured. RB Brian Westbrook wasn't much of a factor in the game against the Saints, that'll happen when you're down and Drew Brees turns the game into an aerial shootout. This week they'll look to rebound and get the elusive first win. Greg Jennings faces the Rams so he should have a touchdown catch by the 2nd quarter and Brian Westbrook should be relevant all game long against the Chiefs.

NY DAs Office (0-2) vs. Vick's Vet Service (2-0)

The DAs Office lost a tough one last week, falling by 5 to the Giant Ten Pins. On the bright side though, they did get to savor one of their biggest wins, as Plaxico Burress began his jail sentence this week. Ironically enough, it was Burress' former teammate, Brandon Jacobs who was one of the key players unable to carry the load for the DAs office, scoring a measly 2 points against arch-rival Dallas. WRs Antwaan Randle El and Michael Clayton have been released and benched respectively and the team has gone in a new direction at some of the defensive positions. They hope not to end up on the short side of the scoreboard this weekend. Big things are expected from their Big 6 (QB, RBs, WRs and TE) with Peyton facing Arizona's secondary. But Chansi Stuckey against Tennessee and Correll Buckhalter against Oakland seem a big far fetched.
Vick's Vet Service (VVS) couldn't have asked for a better start to the season being 2 and 0 and this being the first week that their namesake is eligible to play in an NFL game. Well, some things could be better. RB Derrick Ward is looking like a unwise investment early in the season with Cadillac Williams healthy and getting the majority of carries and WR Devin Hester is still not a reliable receiver, even with a decent quarterback under center. But when you haven't lost a game all season you not exactly sitting around panicking and the VVS is letting things come to them. This week features favorable matchups for just about all of their stars, especially Tony Romo who will be happy to see anyone other than the Giants defense lined up against him. That privilege will go to former Giants RB and current Tampa Bay part-timer Derrick Ward who will try to run into open space against his former team. So far the Browns offense has not impressed anyone and VVS will be getting points everytime the Raven's D stops them. Ya know, for Vick's game back it would have been nice to see him in Cleveland, facing the Dawg Pound.

Beer Burgers & Blue (1-1) vs. Wandering Jews (0-2)

Despite benching QB Matt Schaub on his best Drew Brees impression day, BBB was able to notch their first victory of the season last week thanks to the defensive presence of Charles Woodson. With WR Wes Welker a late gametime no-go, WR and early season sleeper, Josh Morgan stepped in and promptly did nothing. He's no longer with the team. This week Welker is again a question mark and may not play. BBB has gone out and gotten a more capable replacement in the form of St. Louis' Laurent Robinson. With everyone's favorite pre-season bandwagon pick at RB, Pierre Thomas still recovering from a messed up MCL, Rutgers RB Ray Rice is likely to start opposite of secondary bane of my existence, Steven Jackson. Schaub will start and more than likely will repeat his performance from week 1 against the Jets. However, if that is not the case look out, as this team is the tools if they can ever get on the field at the same time.
It's been a long and hard 40 days for the Wandering Jews, who hope that this week will send them to the promised land of winners. Last week they were overrun by the Drew Brees experience, though the team score of 83 did outscore Brees by himself, something to take pride in. WR Brandon Marshall has still yet to do something other than complain and Roy E. Williams was shut down by the Giants secondary. Either that, or because he was wearing a Cowboys jersey Romo decided not to throw to him. The running game features only one back at present, with DeAngelo Williams doing his fair share. Last week's compliment Le'Ron McClain did nothing and is gone, replaced by New Orlean's Heath Evans, another #3+ on the depth chart. However, with the way the Saints score that makes him equivalent to a #2, at least, in theory. Will he be the hidden gem that gets the Jews over that last sand dune? Or will he be just another cheap spare part.

Any Given Sunday (2-0) vs. Giant Ten Pins (1-1)

Sunday is 2-0 and again looking like a strong contender. However, if Fantasy Football is anything like Fantasy Baseball, you don't want to face a team on the week that they are getting married. Sunday is hopes that her opponent uses up all his magic moments on Saturday, leaving her to invest heavily on Sunday afternoon. And what better investment has their been this season than RB Adrian Peterson (okay, Drew Brees is a possible answer but it ruins my transition). In 2 games Peterson has already rushed for over 250 yards and 4 TDs (or 100 yards and 2 TDs shy of Drew Brees in week 1 - I get it). The injury to RB Marion Barber is sure to given Sunday some concern, or would, if boyfriend RB Leon Washington wasn't on the roster to step in and take his place. The inconsistent Santana Moss has been benched in favor of emerging Giants WR Mario Manningham who looks to continue an impressive introduction to the NFL. Will all of that be enough to take down the latest competitor to be taken down the aisle?
Giant Ten Pins probably has a lot on his mind this weekend. Like how will Matt Ryan fair against Belicheck and the Patriots defense. Last week rookie Mark Sanchez made them look vulnerable and confused, not something anyone would expect Bellicheck to allow to continue. Has he been inventing new defensive packages to try to confuse the sensational sophomore QB? Is Ryan as real as people are proclaiming him, and about to shred the Pats as if he were Peyton Manning? Is Michael Jenkins worth keeping on the roster if I already have 2 other Falcons who you can make arguements for having? Who is my team's #1 receiver? And of course, will the wife mind if I wake up at 10am to watch pre-game on our first full day as a married couple?

The New Good Ones (1-1) vs. Dogs and Guns (2-0)

The New Good Ones were up-ended last week by VVS when the running game of Thomas Jones and Matt Forte failed to break 4 points each. Reggie Wayne also contributed a futile 2.5 and the result was a 6 point loss. Now if that reads like a fluke to you as well, you have to feel good about the New Good Ones chances at getting back into the win column this week. JA (Jackass) Philip Rivers faces the Dolphins, and while I'd love nothing more than for Joey Porter and Jason Taylor to squish him like a bug, it is a chance for him to put up some quality numbers. Forte will face the Seahawks, who last week gave up two, yes 2, runs to Frank Gore of over 78 yards. You have to believe Forte has been watching film of those runs. Thomas Jones is expected to be a minor contributor as he faces the 0-2 Titans who would probably like to assert themselves against the 2-0 Jets, in what should be a hard hitter. Expect Reggie Wayne to be at least on par with fellow WR Anquan Boldin this week as the two provide aerial cover fire to Forte's ground game. If things line up in their favor, the New Good Ones could be looking at putting up over 130 points on way to a win.
Dogs and Guns has started out 2-0 in their campaign to repeat as league champion. Jay Cutler rebounded and Chris Johnson went off as Dogs and Guns showed that they can put up insane amounts of points too. But forget about all that. According to a video I just watched, for every pass that he catches this season, Larry Fitzgerald is sending an autographed ball to an ESPN owner who has him in their starting lineup. While it won't exactly increase D&Gs chances of winning, it does make Fitzgerald now the most valueable player in a trade. If we get back to fantasy, Fitz is matched up with T.J. Housh who is on pace for another disappointing season now that QB Matt Hasselbeck has gone down. Pittsburgh's Santonio Holmes will likely need to step in and pick up a larger share and it's unclear if he's ready to become that type of reciever, especially with Hines Ward still their #1 possesion guy. RB Ronnie Brown goes as the Wildcat goes. Indy couldn't stop it and he had a big game. This week the Chargers. If they can stop it, it opens up a big whole in D&G. But if they can't, look for the defending champ to head to 3-0 as he anxiously waits by his mailbox for his Fitzgerald football. I'm sure if he knew, Mr. Scott would have used his #1 overall pick on Fitzgerald, gotten a football, sold it on eBay and considered the season a success.

Finally, our game of the week, mostly because this team (the 2nd one listed) shows no signs of being stopped

Wide Right (1-1) vs. The Breakfast Club (2-0)

Wide Right came up just 2 points shy against Any Given Sunday last week. Kicker Adam Vinatieri had gotten the team back and with a late game tying field goal could have tied or won the game for Wide Right. Instead the Colts took the easy route and scored a TD, giving Vinatierie only 1 point for the point after, and Wide Right a 2 point loss. This week they're playing for the upset and hoping that golden boy QB Tom Brady can get right against the Falcons, a team not known for a strong defense. RB Steve Slaton has raised some concerns with his lack of production, but if you put any running back up against the Jets and Titans in back to back weeks, especially at the start of the season, you'll see their numbers drop. However, people are still talking and that can fuel the Slaton Steam Engine express to a big game against Jacksonville this week. Felix Jones is sure to see more carries with the Barber injury and now Wide Right has found itself with a nice little running game going into the week. It's their running game versus the passing game of...
Drew Brees and The Breakfast Club. Brees is looking to take the single season TD record away from the man he faces this week. With his receiver corps of the re-energized Chad Ochocinco was funny at first but now it's just stupid, and "hey, do you know me? I'm one of the top 3 receivers in football" Andre Johnson, and soon to be Hall of Fame TE pass catcher Tony Gonzalez, The Breakfast Club has an air attack that would rival ze Germans. On the ground Ryan Grant has held his own so far but this week gets an incredibly favorable matchup, which should show his true value going forward. Franchise RB Darren Sproles has had a couple of big time plays so far this season. Perhaps none more memorable than last weeks' game on the line, 4th and 2 where Ray Lewis absolutely blew him up. With Tomlinson hurt the Chargers will need to put the ball in the hands of the undersized Sproles. The question remains if he can handle the load the the big boys do, or if he's better suited as a gimmick like Reggie Bush.

And that everyone is what to look for as week 3 rolls in. Congratulations to Dan and Kimberly. And now if everyone is quite finished with this getting married stuff, I'd like to return to the Fantasy Sports Season - already in progress.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My best friend's wedding - better than any movie

This is obviously long overdue, but I've been incredibly busy. But that's for another post. This one is all about Mike's wedding.

So you may remember from the Mike's bachelor party recap, that I had arrived to JFK at something like 7am on Friday and gone to the bachelor party that night. Saturday was a day of rest and relaxation reserved for me and the family. My mom, sister and I did our best to cram two birthdays in (my sister's b-day was Friday and mine would be Monday, the day I flew back to Cali).

Sunday morning I woke up bright and early. Well, my version of bright and early - around 10, 10:30am. My mom had pancakes and bacon waiting, because she is just as good as I tell people she is and there was a Revive Vitamin Water in the fridge. Whether it's placebo or that bottle actually contains magic in it, I don't know or care, but it's how I start big days like this or recover from really great nights. I jumped in the shower and got myself ready like it was 9pm and me and the gang were getting ready for a night of legendary partying. In essence that's what I was getting ready for, just with the eternal love and commitment part crammed in the middle there. Oh, and there would be more people than we have ever rolled with. So out of the shower I had the music blasting as I dressed, slowly and methodically. I checked myself after adding each layer to make sure it was just right. After all, I was going to my best friend's wedding, no time for wrinkles, creases, static or anything like that. After finally applying the ceremonial brass buttons to the tux shirt and buttoning up the vest I was out the door, jacket in hand to Mike's to meet up with the rest of the groomsmen for pictures and to catch our ride.

Upon arriving at Mike's I discovered that our tuxes did in fact come with those little pocket squares. I thought it was odd that we weren't getting them. After questioning everyone where they got there's I ran back home and checked a small, inconspicuous bag that hung from the hanger. The pocket square was obstructed by a business card type thing that made me believe it was nothing to concern myself with. So back I raced to have someone fold the square for me. After a few attempts we had it. Well, sort of. The newly declared Mrs. Sergiano was kind enough to refold for me just before the ceremony. It was still early in the morning at this point, noon at the latest so even though we should probably have been throwing back drinks before getting in the limo we couldn't. Instead we snapped a few pics.

After we were all dressed up in our monkey suits (none of us were really excited about it. I mean, we looked nice but those jackets made it really hot) we went outside for what we thought was getting into the limo and heading over to the wedding. No, of course not that'd be too obvious. So instead there were more photos to be taken, this time thought with the whole group, including the groom, who really took his sweet ass time getting dressed. I suppose we could/should have cut him so slack. We didn't.
Anyway, after that was finally over with it was into the limo for the completely non-climactic drive to the reception hall. It was a tad surreal riding in a limo now, dressed in a monkey suit down the same streets I'd been driving on in a t-shirt and shorts since I was 17. Those times it had been to grab some food, or pick up friends or head to the bars. This time, I was going to watch my best friend get married. It was odd to say the least. One thing I will say though, is that it was completely Mike. We're a lot alike and we're very different, and this, this was him. Something simple like this - local and with relatively little production. I'm the over-the-top major blockbuster production type. This stark contrast in our personalities hit me during the ride over and I was glad that we were going where we were going.
We got to the hall and me and the other "lesser groomsmen" were just sort of hanging around by the bar area (which was not open) in front of the room where the ceremony was going to be held. The families were off taking pictures and doing whatever inner circle stuff they do. As guests started to arrive I had an early crack to see who had made it. Jay and Walter, who I hadn't seen in some years (well, I saw Walt at the bachelor party but still), Mike's friend Bobby who I've known for years, his family, our group of friends, and of course my mom and sister. When it was finally time to get the show on the road we groomsmen sprung into action, handing out wedding programs (I'm sure there's a fancier word for it) and yarmulkes (Gentile's pronounce Ya-Ma-Ka) as guests entered. After we had ushered everyone in I got a chance to meet Laurie-Jean, the bridesmaid I would be escorting throughout the course of the evening. See, the rehersal dinner had happened a day or two before I flew in so we had never met. Fortunately, she was really cool and our personalities clicked immediately. Also, I had met her husband during the bachelor party so there was no awkwardness about "man i don't want to look foolish and blow my chances with this girl." By the way, that thought in my head, mixed with some alcohol will always equal a good time. So after deciding to start on the right foot, we had our entrance all worked out and did a couple of trust fall exercises in case one of us tripped and was going down. The plan was for the other to detach their arm from the falling tree and move on as if we had never met. We were the first bridesmaid/groomsmen couple in so we had to set the tone - this wedding will stop for no one.
We made our entrance successfully and the others followed suit, although with the exception of the flower girl and ring bearers, none did it with as much pinash as we did. Then the bride made her entrance and the ceremony was underway. It was a lovely ceremony, because I don't really know how or why you would try to critique something like that. Take my word for it, it was nice. Some of the Hebrew parts I didn't understand and some of the English parts Mike obviously didn't get because his first act as a married man was to head towards the rabbi to thank her rather than to kiss his wife. I think that's another difference between us. At least I hope so, or my first marriage is going to be even shorter than I thought. I rejoined my escort for the evening and we headed out where we got to stand in line and receive thanks from everyone. Now people who know me, know that I hate getting praise or recognition for most things, but especially minor things. I just don't know how to respond to compliments. I mean if you want to thank me for curing cancer I'll find a way to handle it, but thanking me for walking and not falling - eh, it's going to make me uncomfortable to the point of laughter. Fortunately many of the bridesmaid's felt the same way so we were able to share some laughs in between receiving our congratulations and thanks for the wedding guests. After the line that would not end eventually ended we got to follow a photographer guy upstairs and out onto the balcony for more pictures. At this point it was brutal, pretty humid and I was hungry. And knowing that my mom and sister were enjoying a cocktail hour full of food wasn't helping. Eventually a waiter came up and asked for our drink orders while we were posing like the Mod Squad or a very dressed up version of the cast of 21 Jump Street. I asked the kid if they had Mountain Dew, he kinda laughed and I told him to try it with Vodka. He reluctantly told me they didn't but said he'd give it a shot. When he does it'll change his life. It was a shot in the dark that a fancy catering hall would have the single greatest carbonated beverage in the world, so I settled for a Grey Goose and Sprite. When the pictures were finally done we got our crack at the hours d'oeuvres waiting in the bridal suite. My drink came at the same time so I was able to satisfy my need for both food and drink. While we were eating and chatting Mike finally seemed relaxed. I guess he should be, the hard part of the day was over. After a relaxing 15 minutes or so we were informed that we had to leave and get ready to line up for our entrance to the reception.
None of the bridesmaids/groomsmen had anything planned, again because I wasn't at the rehearsal dinner, but Laurie-Jean was game to do something. I really lucked out there. Since we were going first again we had very little time. I shotgunned the rest of my Goose and Sprite as we were getting ready. A little pre-game bouncing (just like before a big beer pong match) and we were ready. We entered doing the presidential wave until we reached the dancefloor. From there we broke into the Temptation sway as we crossed to where we thought we were supposed to go. The spotter had to come grab us and redirect us to where we should have actually landed. As the remaining couples entered Laurie-Jean and I greeted them with the running man as they passed us and took their positions in the ever growing line awaiting the arrival of the bride and groom. Every bride and groom does something different for their intro. Scott and Kristen came out of the floor on a rising platform (awesome), and I was interested/worried about what Mike's entrance would be. Like I said, he's not the theatrical type and honestly I was more concerned about what music he'd be entering with. I'm protective of my best friend and I was deeply worried that he'd be dragged in there in front of friends and family to some stupid pop-song of the week, or cliched wedding or just something not fitting of him. The doors closed and it was time for he and Kelly to make their entrance. The lights went out and the music cut through the silience like a chainsaw. None of us knew, but within a nanosecond we were all happy for him. Enter Sandman pumped through the DJ's system and Mike got to make his entrance like Mariano Rivera coming in, in 9th, in a big game at Yankee Stadium (the old one). It was perfect. I may have shed a tear I was so happy for him.
From there the wedding progressed like they do. A traditional first dance between the bride and groom. As people were able to take their seats I grabbed my mom and sister and we made our way to bar, as a family. It was one of the happiest moments of the night for me. I bought my mom a drink and we sipped while listening to the trio of maid's of honor give their speeches, each requiring us to drink a little bit more than the last. Then we paused as Richie took the Mike. He's the little brother I never needed but have always had. I knew he was a bit worried about what to say so I wanted to be ready in case he needed me or something. His toast was everything it should be - a tad sentimental, a bit funny, no bull and concise. After that it was time for the real fun to start.
Early on, before I had even made it to my third drink, I got my second wish fulfilled. Just like I had at Scott and Kristen's wedding, I picked up on the first few notes of Earth, Wind and Fire's "September" and bolted from my seat to my mom's table. I took her hand and we headed out to the dance floor. It was one of the, if not the first dance of the night and she didn't know it yet, but her son was on his way to become the talk of the town - like he predicted. But none of that matters. I was so excited that this moment was happening. I had first thought of it back in June while starring at my mom through the glass in ICU and at the time it was the only thing I wanted in the world, to share that dance with her. At the time I what I was praying for as getting to do it at my own wedding, but given the indefinite time frame of that occurrence, I was perfectly happy that my mom was up, happy and healthy and with me out on the dance floor. Even if the old bat couldn't stay out there past the song. ;-)
I went back to my table to refresh myself with some vodka-y goodness when the DJ announced that it was Salsa time. Another big moment for me during this wedding. I had found a very helpful instructional salsa video on YouTube and emailed it to all of my gringo friends a couple of weeks before the wedding, declaring that the Caucasian Invasion would take over the dance floor. As menioned, I was consuming more alcohol when the DJ made his announcement and I looked over towards the tables where my friends were sitted, and noticed there was very little stirring taking place. I then inspired them, by proclaiming loundly, "Gringos! Vamanos!" completely with hand gestures. This got them on their feet and soon the flood I had hoped for had hit the floor. Most of us weren't very good, some people had watched the video and learned a little but we didn't care, we had a great time. That's a theme that would continue throughout the night. As the night grew longer, and the alcohol flowed like well the way alcohol usually flows when my friends are involved, the event turned into one of our nights out, just with a lot more friends to share it with. There was me cutting it up on the dancefloor -, and then subsequently teaching Jay how to do the same.
In one of the odder, yet more memorable moments of the wedding, I was talking to my mom near my table, cooling myself down from a recent dancecapade with another Goose and Sprite when the DJ began playing "It's raining men" and knowing that Scott, Jay and the rest of the gang were about to go crazy, I put down my drink, looked my mother in the eyes and said, "mom, I'm sorry but I have to go. They expect this." as I ran off. Well I didn't so much as run off, as I did run directly into the middle of the dance floor and start dancing around like I was flaming all over. I'm not going to lie, it was fun as hell. I may have to check out the Castro some night. Anyway, the gang loved it as we were bouncing around, hands in the air and me and boys (Scott and Jay, no I didn't name my buttocks "the boys" - I'm flat assed) shook it down. From there it only got better or worse, depending on whether or not your my mother. Shortly after that I believe I was again heading off to replenish fluids when I was prevented by another familiar beat. This time the king of pop. And just as I had done at Scott and Kristen's wedding, Billie Jean became my time. This time my mom was around to watch it (she had missed the earlier dance sequence that was caught on video). Unfortunately, the rental tux shoes weren't very smooth and my normally high 70s % moonwalk was reduced to something around a mid 60s. I realized this quickly though and all but abandoned the move, opting for more spins. Plus this time Jay jumped in and that helped to keep it from looking and feeling like a bad copy of Scott and Kristen's wedding.
We ate, and danced and continued drinking. Eventually it was dessert time and we were treated to a Viennese Hour that was so good, that Mike no longer has to apologize to me about my date to the senior prom (his gf at the time's, best friend). It had cookies, cakes, chocolate covered strawberries, zeppoles (fried dough), these little oreo like shooter things but you couldn't shoot them because they were so thick and delicious, fruit for the health conscious (whoever they are) and ice cream. It was literally a culinary explosion of the greatest kind, the kind that after you eat it all you feel bad and want to cry yourself to sleep while eating more of it. Then to top it off there was a dessert beverage station. I wasn't sure what this was and was nervous when Matt rounded up the rest of the bridal party to go over there. Turns out my fears were in my head. This was shots of after dinner liquors - Irish Creame, Amaretto, etc. in small chocolate shot glasses. Or to shorten the name, the greatest idea ever. We toasted, downed our shots and returned to our tables. I then informed my group of friends as to what lie beydond the main table and we returned to do our own round of shots. Fantastic.
After dessert was cleared away we knew it was only a matter of time before the night ended so we made sure to put everything we had into our kick (runner's term). We worked off calories and probably worked in blisters as we kept on dancing the night away. Just near the end of the night, I got my other wish for Mike, when the DJ started playing "Don't Stop Believing". Just about each one of my friends has a signature song or two. This is Mike's and we all know it. He and Kelly had just happened to be near the middle of the dance floor at the time and it worked out perfectly for us, as the whole group, 15-20 strong circled around them to sing and dance with them to Journey's classic. To the parents in attendance, distant relatives, Kelly's side of the wedding, we probably looked pretty odd, but this is how we are. 20 people, in a circle serenading the bride, who's just a small town girl, living in a lonely world, and her husband, a city boy, born and raised in south Detroit. To cap the evening off, we got back together to sign "I had the time of my life" completely with Bobby doing the Dirty Dancing leap into Matt's arms. We party hard, we have great times, and we make memories.

Congratulations again Mike and Kelly, it was pretty spectacular night.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fantasy Football Week 2 Preview

Week 1 has come and gone, and hey, Tom Brady is still playing so this could be Wide Right's year. Then again, the 60 points that Drew Brees put up for The Breakfast Club may beg to differ. With an astounding 168.5 points in week 1 they look to be contenders all season long. Until that Brees injury of course. AnyGivenSunday snuck past the Wandering Jews with a 2 point victory and it came down to the wire as defending champs Dogs and Guns were able to hold off Beer Burgers & Blue by 1 measly friggin point. Now with 11 out of the 12 teams being run by actual owners, we head into week 2. Let's start on the loser side of things.

Mr. Scott's F**k Ups (0-1) vs. Beer Burgers and Blue (0-1)

Mr. Scott certainly got f**ked up last week at the hands of Drew Brees. The 102 point loss will be tough to topple for this year's beatdown award. But that was when the team was on it's own, without any direction. They had a name, but no one running the show. Sort of like the Oakland Raiders. Now that Mr. Scott is standing up for his namesake he's making some changes. Gone are Plaxico Burress and Donte Stallworth, in is Osi Umenyiora (although he's not in the starting lineup) and DeVry Henderson. Brian Urlacher was lost for the season in week 1 and it will be interesting to see how the F**kUps try to replace his production. This week WRs Randy Moss and Terrible Owens both look to have big games. Although the Jets defense is solid, they did run their mouths (I'm looking at you Kerry Rhodes) and usually when you do that to Moss you wind up on SportsCenter looking foolish. TE Chris Cooley is always a consistent play and against the Rams efense (no d for a reason) he'll likely be Jason Campbells security blanket and have a good game.
You've had a rough first week of fantasy football when your #1 QB scored less points than your opponents QB... who threw 4 interceptions! Such is Matt Schaub who now finds himself on the bench thanks to a very vindictive owner who lost games in 2 leagues because of the "sleeper" QB. Perhaps calling Vick's Vet Service to have Schaub put down would be best. (Funny bit of irony, Schaub used to be Vick's backup in Atlanta). Anyway, in steps the traitorious, ageless Brett Favre with a simple goal - don't f**kup against the F**kUps. RBs Ray Rice and Steven Jackson are facing formidable opponents but should be able to put up some numbers and the WRs could be in for a big day with the Jets focusing on Moss, the great white hope Wes Welker should have room to operate. If Favre can connect on a long score to Bernard Berrian, it'll be double your pleasure, double your fun for BBB.

In the other battle of teams looking to get their first W
NYDAs Office (0-1) vs. Giant Ten Pins (0-1)

The DAs Office got out-dueled in week 1 thanks to some costly 0s on the board and some less than stellar production from Brandon Jacobs, Donnie Avery and Laveraneus Coles (no longer on the team). This week they look to rebound with Peyton Manning in primetime on Monday Night. Jacobs will likely get the ball 20+ times as the Giants try to tear up the field at the new Texas stadium and TE Jason Witten is likely to have a big game, because all pass catching TEs do against the Giants. It's just how it goes. RB Cedric Benson showed signs of returning to life and relevance last week and should factor heavily into how this game goes.
The Giant Ten Pins fell in week 1 after getting a combined 6.5 points from their running backs. The 10 total points from the WRs didn't help much either. But that was just week 1 and now they're hoping for some better production. Clinton Portis should find it delightful running against the Rams after spending last week getting knocked around by the G-men. And while Carolina's defense is usually quite formidable, the disarray caused by another craptacular Jake Delhomme game may have left the team focusing more on offense, rather than how to stop Michael Turner. The Steelers Defense should be able to hold down the Bears offense, unless Jay Culter manages to throw the ball to someone on his own team, and could be the deciding factor.

Dogs and Guns (1-0) vs. LT Get Outta My Way (0-1)

D&Gs certainly wasn't impressed by new QB Jay Cutler's actions in week 1, but it was enough to get a win - just not the way the owner is used to. When you are used to having Drew Brees as your QB you tend to ignore that position when building your weekly lineup. Now, faced with questions and criticism, how will the champ deal with the fact that he's not getting 40-60 points each week from his QB? Probably just fine since he still has Chris Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and T.J. Houshmazod (which you know means championship). TE John Carlson just got added to my personal hate list after 2 TDs last week in that soul crushing 1 point loss, but gives D&G something else to fall back on should Cutler forget which team to throw to. Backed by the Titans defense which look very good last Thursday night, could we be looking at a team that will make it 2 straight?
Last week WRs Antonio Bryant and Braylon Edwards didn't show up to play, and it cost LT. Solid production from RBs Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook along with WR Greg Jennings had them in the hunt. This week, despite injuries, they'll be going with the same starting lineup. Unless half of their opponents roster gets hurt before halftime, it's likely that LT will wind up 0-2 at the end of Monday Night (with live scoring no need to wait until Tuesday morning). Such is what happens when a team is left to manage itself.

The Wandering Jews (0-1) vs. The Breakfast Club (1-0)

Facing the Wandering Jews during Rosh Hashannah is either a really good thing, or a really bad thing. I'm sure it's one of those. Last week the Jews got Peterson'd after their starting QB Donovan McNabb got knocked out of his game. RB LaDanian Tomlinson also got hurt putting the pressure on the rest of the roster, who simply were unable to make it up. Sunday, as the high holy days shine down on fields across the nation, the Jews will put their faith in a man named Flacco. It could be worse, it could be Falco, and we all remember what happened in that Sugar Bowl game. If Brandon Marshall shuts his mouth and plays football this team could have one of the best 3 man receiving corps in the league, with Colston and Roy E. Williams. All 3 are number one options for their team and can put up numbers on Sunday. The running game took a bit of a hit losing Tomlinson, and I say a bit because personally I think he's climbed over the top of the hill and is quickly heading downwards (remember Priest Holmes?).
The Breakfast Club comes into this game with as much undeserved confidence as any team that has Drew Brees as their QB should. Not a knock against Matt, I just really hate Drew Brees - fantasy wise. I don't know enough about him as a person to really hate him yet. Anyway, after putting up 60 on the Lions he takes aim at a somewhat reasonable Philadelphia defense, which should serve as a good barometer of what his scoring will look like in an average game. In case you didn't pay attention to his supporting cast week, RBs Ryan Grant and Kevin Smith aren't going to get the name recognition but are both certainly #1 backs on their team, likely to get 15-20 carries a game. WR Andre Johnson didn't do much in week 1 - courtesy of Matt Schaub - but is like a time bomb waiting to go off and make this team even more high scoring. Just what we all needed.

Someone is going to get their first lost
Wide Right (1-0) vs. Any Given Sunday (1-0)

The Brady plan worked for Wide Right, but the running game did not. Half a point, combined. The Jets defense really ate up Houston and Tampa Bay kept Felix Jones down and out. It won't get any easier this week though, as Slaton will go up against the Titans and Felix Jones gets to see Big Blue coming at him. This means that the pressure will once again be on Brady and his receivers - Dwayne Bowe, Lee Evans and the rookie, Percy Harvin. TE Kellen Winslow can be a pass catching offensive weapon and help ease the burden but in his Tampa debut didn't give Wide Right any reason to be confident. Wide Right may need to squeeze out an extra point from each member of the defense and an extra 40 yard field goal from kicker Adam Vinatieri if they hope to squeak by again this week.
After a week 1 win, thanks to Adrian "I look good in purple" Peterson, Sunday has revamped her receivers to better compliment the backfield. Justin Gage and Mario Manningham are the New Editions ( hoping to help the team cool down and take some of the pressure off of Peterson. Even he can't put up 3 TDs every week. QB Aaron Rodgers looked better in the second half of the Sunday Night game against the Bears and this week gets the Bungles defense who gave up that last second miracle to Brandon Stockley. Despite an impressive shutout of the Rams in week 1, the Seahawks defense is getting a much greater test in the Singletary led 49ers who are seriously thinking division championship after beating the Cardinals last week.

And our game of the week, with only 3 project points separating them
The New Good Ones (1-0) vs. Vicks Vet Service (1-0)

The New Good Ones managed a week 1 victory despite RB Matt Forte being basically un-heard from during the game against the Packers. WR Anquan Boldin also made a less than stellar contribution, but in fairness he was a game time decision. This week they're both back and healthy and are looking to help move the New Good Ones to 2-0. Reggie Wayne's performanced dominated the WRs for week 1 and he'll look to do it again on Monday Night Football against the Dolphins. Remember when the Jags defense was something on par with the Steelers or Ravens? Yeah, that's not the case anymore. Anquan Boldin back at full strength means he's a potential 9/110/1 kinda guy, and those numbers can get bigger if Jacksonville puts all their effort into stopping Fitzgerald. Thomas Jones is still the lead dog in the Jets running game but figure Bill Belicheck to know that and have a plan to limit or stop him and force the game into rookie QB Matt Sanchez's hands. However, the biggest matchups will be Forte, who now has to take on the Steelers defense who shut down Chris Johnson in week 1, and Philip Rivers who faces the Ravens. In a game this close, these decisions are what make or break you.
Vick's Vet Service got off to a fast start in week 1 thanks to stupid, f'ing Tony Romo. Key contributions were also made by former Giant Derrick Ward, cold filtered MJD, and WRs Vincent Jackson and Devin Hester. This week though, Romo faces the Giants who would love nothing more than to ruin his homecoming, and start the Texas media speculation again on if he can win the big game. MJD will face the Cardinals, whose defense has improved steadily, but still is not in a position to stop his multi-faceted game. Unless they just tell Karlos Dansby to "follow that guy" all game. WR Roddy White figures to factor more into the action this week as the Falcons travel to Carolina for a divisional matchup, while Jackson and Hester will have their hands full with the Raven's and Steeler's defenses respectively. TE Dallas Clark is sure to make an appearance on Monday Night Football, making his just enough catches for just enough yards infinitely more annoying knowing that there are no more games to make up the points.

Well that's it. The only thing left is to play the games.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fantasy Football Offseason Recap and Week 1 Preview

Every year during Fantasy Football season I write a weekly column for all of the participants in my league. It's only been available to members of the league - until now. Each week I'll post the same column that goes on the league page here, so that you can experience the analysis, laughter and tomfoolery.

Ah yes here we are getting ready for our first Sunday of another incredible Fantasy Football season. The names have all changed (with the exceptions of AnyGivenSunday, Wide Right and the Wandering Jews) and so has the place - we're coming at you from thanks to a misunderstanding of the phrase "last year's settings" on the part of Yahoo. So ESPN is auditioning this season to be the league's permanent home, but that's just a side story to the biggest news this offseason...

People just upped and got married.

Defending league champion, Mike Silver (Dogs and Guns) most notably tied the knot in August and then relocated to northern New York. Will the wife and lack of a stable electrical current prevent him from repeating? Will a new challenger emerge from the ranks to lay claim to the league title? Or, will the crown fall on the familiar head of, well me.

In NFL news Michael Vick is out of jail. Plaxico Burress and Donte Stallworth are both in jail. Tom Brady's knee is healthy again and Brett Favre is still playing - this time with the Vikings. There are new coaches and new coordinators, who dictate the game plans. Aging veterans and emerging young players who are fighting for playing time. And of course, the crapshoot gamble that is trying to predict the contributions of the rookie class. Well, except for Michael Crabtree, it's pretty easy to predict how useful he'll be this season.

The Steelers and Titans got the season officially underway on Thursday night, so most of the games are already in progress. We'll start however, with the 2 games that have yet to begin.

Vicks Vet Service vs. LT Get Outta My Way

In a big time move on Saturday night, Vicks Vet Service (VVS) claimed the Chicago Bears defense and special teams to pair with the Baltimore Ravens unit that they acquired in the draft. VVS is lead by Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo and a backfield of cold, refreshing MJD-light and former Giants running back Derrick Ward. Chronically underrated Falcons WR Roddy White is captain of the receiver corps that includes Vincent Jackson and Devin Hester. Returning to Brandon's squad from last year is TE Dallas Clark, Peyton Manning's favorite receiver. High priced free agent Albert Haynesworth is anchoring the defense and looking to show that his fantasy value is as high as his paycheck. Jason Elam will be doing the kicking duties, and I promise here and now not to analyze kickers at any point throughout the season.

Still, Vicks finds itself as 3 point underdogs against the currently un-managed LT Get Outta My Way (LTMY). Super Bowl QB Kurt Warner leads this squad with injury risks Brian Westbrook and Frank Gore as the primary running backs. Having both guys on the same team could be feast or famine depending on their ability to stay healthy. Especially since each team (the Eagles and 49ers) have young backups who have electrified their fan bases. The receivers are solid 1-3 with Greg Jennings, Antonio Bryant and Braylon Edwards as a #3. Breakout candidate Owen Daniels is the starting TE and the Dallas Cowboys defense and special teams help to round out the starting roster with kicker Gostowski.

The New Good Ones vs. NY DAs Office

Projections have this as a walkover for The New Good Ones (NGO) and coach Johnny G. Then again, if projections were enough the Patriots would have gone 19-0 as opposed to 18-1. Still, no one can deny that the New Good Ones have a formidable lineup. Quarterback Philip Rivers is a jackass in real life, but puts up fantasy numbers that will make most people over look that. The Matt Forte and Thomas Jones backfield could rank as one of the best in the league, but with Leon Washington's younger legs and big breakout runs, will Jones end the season as the #1 back in the Meadowlands? It's an interesting question, but it may be moot when your receivers are Reggie Wayne, Anquan "seriously check out my numbers compared to Fitzgerald's" Boldin and DeSean "People still don't remember that fumble on the 1 yard line, do they?" Jackson. TE Visanthe Shiancoe quietly put up 7 TDs last year and now has TE friendly Brett Favre as his QB. To make matters worse for opponents, NGO doesn't let up on the defensive side, with the Vikings defense and special teams. Kicker Mason Crosby is also on the team.

The NY DAs Office will attempt the upset, and who better than Peyton Manning as your QB to make it happen. Well, probably Tom Brady but that's about it. Anyway, the running game features Big Blue's Bruiser, Brandon Jacobs as well as the Colt's Joseph "Live and Let" Addai, who fell late in the draft on concerns of injuries. The receivers are a notable weak point for the DAs Office, lead by Donnie Avery. Veteran Tory Holt is out to prove that he has something left in the tank with his new team, the Jacksonville Jaguars as is former Jet Laveraneus Coles. TE Jason Witten may be this teams best receiver (statistically) by the end of the year. The NYDA is bringing the formidable Giants defense and special teams with them, hoping that they can convert NFL dominance into fantasy points.

Wandering Jews vs. Any Given Sunday

The Wandering Jews (WJs) currently have a 5 point advantage thanks to kicker "dunna nunna nuh nuh" Rob Bi Ronas! QB Donovan McNabb may wind up splitting snaps with Michael Vick by the end of the year, but for now is a legitimate fantasy starter. The 1-2 punch of RBs DeAngelo Williams and LaDanian Tomlinson, now to be known as "DeLa", have combined 40 touchdown potential. Will they stay healthy? Will Stewart and Sproles take away scores? Will I find a way to nickname another player "Soul" and create the best nickname combination in football? The WRs aren't shabby either with Marques Colston, coming off of an injury filled and less than productive season, with current malcontent Brandon Marshall. TE Greg Olsen is another breakout candidate this season and could put this team over the top. The Eagles defense is likely to put up points all season long with their blitzing style, but potentially could give up a few big scoring plays.

AnyGivenSunday got her man this season. Rather than make a comment about gay bartenders or guys who wear mascara, lets move on. RB Adrian Peterson provides the complimentary running game to QB Aaron Rodgers. Marion Barber will fill out the backfield, provided he stays healthy and can fend off Felix Jones to get the majority of the Cowboys carries. Super speed receivers Steve Smith and Santana Moss provide deep threats, although only one of them can consistently catch the ball. Anthony Gonzalez should play a big role as a possession receiver in the Colts offense, much the same way that Brandon Stokely used to. Sunday snatched up top TE pick Antonio Gates who, now healthy, should be able to make up for the occasionally frequent Moss drop. The Seahawks defense is a matchup play, one would assume, but we'll have to wait and see how Sunday plays it this season.

Mr. Scott's F**k Ups vs. The Breakfast Club

League newcomer Scott did us all a favor, by agreeing to help fill out the league. Then he did us another favor by selected Randy Moss first overall in the draft. Or was it a favor? With Tom Brady back is Moss primed for 30 TDs this season? QB Eli Manning, RBs Ahmad Bradshaw and Reggie Bush weren't high on most people's fantasy lists but could wind up being productive contributors. While the odds are that at best only 1 of the 3 will, the F**k Ups will likely need to adjust their roster over the coming season. TE Chris Cooley was a great sleeper pickup for the team. The Patriots defense is unproven, however for the most part they'll be playing against weak offenses. Unless of course Ronnie Brown decides to score 5 TDs again.

The Breakfast Club (TBC) currently leads 16.5 to 2, thanks to now injured (via the Madden Curse) Tory Polamalu. TBC landed fantasy football scoring stud Drew Brees as their QB and from that moment on had a leg up on just about all other teams. The running game of Kevin Smith and Julius Jones has high upside but going into the first game remains a question mark. Superstar WR Andre Johnson is good enough to be a 1 man receiver corps but if Chad Ochocinco can return to form, the team will surely take off up the standings. TE Tony Gonzalez is getting older and adjusting to a new system, but is still one of the games best. If the running game can get it's legs under it this offense because one of the most potent in the league - barring an injury to Brees. The Arizona Cardinals defense was less than super during the regular season, but put it together during their Super Bowl run. Which is the one that The Breakfast Club drafted?

Wide Right vs. Giant Ten Pins

Wide Right hasn't started playing yet, but start Sunday with the second largest deficit, down 21 to 0. Wide Right is putting their faith in Tom Brady again and hoping to get more than 5 minutes out of him this season. RBs Steve Slaton and Felix Jones are versatile threats. If Jones can take carries away from Marion the Barbarian he becomes a great fantasy compliment. WR Dwayne Bowe will now be catching passes from Brady's former backup, Matt Cassell. How's that for your Kennedy/Lincoln coincidence? Buffalo favorite Lee Evans will face more single coverage this season thanks to the acquisition of T.O. and rookie Percy Harvin could develop into big time contributors throughout the season. TE Kellen Winslow is hoping to resurrect his career in Tampa Bay and the Chargers defense and special teams are hoping to do the same after a major drop off last season. Kicker Adam Vinatieri is clutch when the game is on the line, but that rarely happens in fantasy football.

The Giant Ten Pins are staked to a 21 point lead thanks to a trio of Steelers (Hines Ward, LaMarr Woodley and the defensive unit). After a phenomenal rookie campaign, QB Matt Ryan leads this team into the season. His real life backfield backup, Michael Turner is also along for the ride, partnered with Clinton Portis. These two have a lot mileage on them after last season, so durability will be key. As far as the air attach goes, Eddie Royal and Donald Driver flank Ward as the other receivers, and Dustin Keller is looking to develop rapport with new Jets QB Mark Sanchez and build on a successful rookie season. Kick John Carney is sure to get plenty of opportunities thanks to the Saints high powered offense.

Week 1 Game of the Week
Last year's champion starts his title defense against the wining-est team in league history

Beer, Burgers and Blue vs. Dogs and Guns

Beer, Burgers and Blue (BBB) hasn't gotten out of the starting gates yet, and they find themselves in a massive 22 point hole. BBB has a lot riding on QB Matt Schaub who is a constant injury risk, despite being some analysts picks as a Top 10 Fantasy QB this season. After declaring last year "Steven Jackson will never be on my fantasy team again", Steven Jackson is the #1 running back on this year's squad. He was supposed to paired with this years Mr. Big Things Expected, Pierre Thomas, but Thomas will be missing week 1 with an MCL injury. Stepping in to replace him is Rutgers legend Ray Rice. Given BBBs history with Rutgers graduates though, this should work out well. The aerial assault of Megatron (a.k.a. Calvin Johnson), the Great White Hope (Wes Welker) and former Bear Bernard Berrian (see how I made that BBB - clever no?) can do it all. Of course with Welker and Berrian listed as questionable, the success of the team this week is listed in the same category. TE Zach Miller is probably the best Raider you could have on your roster and may get some name recognition this season. The Jets defense is revamped has a Ryan in charge of it and provides a solid return game with Leon Washington. Kicker Neil Rackers can put up points from 50 yards out, and could be a solid acquisition.

Dogs and Guns (D&Gs) got 22 on Thursday from the Titans defense, James Harrison and RB Chris Johnson putting them in a favorable position. Last year's championship came thanks to the consistently high scoring Drew Brees, and this year D&Gs has another strong armed QB in Jay Cutler. The other running back in the system is Ronnie Brown, who is sure to run, catch and pass at various points this season to rack up plenty of points. While Brown doesn't provide a sense of reliability that championships are built on, the receivers are excellent, with Super Bowl standout Larry Fitzgerald and the fresh out of Cincinattica, T.J. Houshmanzadeh (having him on my team last year I got the spelling down pat). TE John Carlson is expected to do big things this season and provides another level of depth to the champions roster. Kicker John Kasay is consistently one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL giving the champion something to rely on for steady production throughout the season.