Putting the fun back in the NFL, one rule change at a time

Written by :
Published on : May 25, 2017

 

In an about-face from the way the league has been operating in recent years, the NFL has voted to give its players a chance to express themselves. The league has spent years stifling their players’ creative instincts by penalizing them for end zone celebrations. Instead of embracing something that fans and players both enjoy, the No Fun League has been throwing flags and even fining players for putting a little soul in the game, but it appears that Roger Goodell and the powers that be have seen the error of their ways.

 

At the spring league meeting, the owners voted to ease restrictions on touchdown celebrations and proponents of common sense everywhere rejoiced. What was it about dancing in the end zone or celebrating a touchdown that irked all these owners so bad in the first place? Maybe they were jealous of the dance moves, or maybe they are so far removed from our meager plebeian society that they forgot how normal, non-billionaires have fun and express joy. Either way, they are starting to get their heads out of their asses and come around on this one. I, for one, can’t wait to see some of the pent up celebrations that people have been sitting on during these dark days of prohibition.

 

The obvious winners in this decision are the fans. If football fans wanted to see a bunch of soulless robots they would watch baseball. Pigskin aficionados like the unpredictable nature of the game and want their favorite players to surprise them in new and exciting ways, and with the game being damn near a century old, it’s time to get creative. That’s where celebrations on big plays come in. The players still aren’t allowed to do anything that might be seen as taunting (throat slash), or anything sexually suggestive, but they are allowed to do group celebrations and to use the ball as a prop.

 

 

The players who will no longer have to risk being fined for getting excited are winners in this too. By extension the teams also win because they won’t have to endure ridiculous penalties when players inevitably celebrate regardless of the rules. Guys like Antonio Brown are excited to get the whole team in on the fun and we should be too. I imagine Odell Beckham Jr has a few things up his sleeve and I’m sure Cam Newton will hop on whatever dance trend is happening and then beat it to death.  

 

While the rule change is definitely a step in the right direction, I’m not sure that the NFL went far enough. There’s still a few annoying things, like that you reportedly still can’t dunk the ball through the uprights like Calvin Johnson used to (despite what the below video says). Also, the 40 second play clock starts immediately after a touchdown, meaning that teams could risk a delay of game if the TD scoring player isn’t quick about his celebration. Think of the wonderfully choreographed masterpieces that we will miss out on. For a little more explanation on what is, and what isn’t allowed, check out this informative video featuring former Detroit Lions TE and TD celebrations pro, Joe Fauria.  

 


I say let these guys go to town. Maybe they could even work on dance numbers with predetermined music. The crowd would love it and so would the players. These guys got soul and they need to share it with the world.

 

Let them dance.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Week 16: Antonio Brown Stretches For Game Winning TD and “The Killer Shrews”

Written by :
Published on : December 31, 2016

 

Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…

 

The lights have dimmed, the black candles gutter, and the dark lord has been invoked.

 

Week 16: Antonio Brown Stretches for Game Winning TD

 

 

Can it be? Act like you know.

 

It’s damn near impossible to pick anything except this in week 16, with Antonio Brown showing the kind of skill and effort that makes him one of the league’s top receivers in a play that all but wrapped up the AFC North for the Steelers. Y’all know Roger Pretzel’s a run kind of guy in the red zone but that’s obviously not the way the league works anymore, and you’re not gonna do it regardless with a scant fourteen ticks left in the game and no times out.

 

I love this play. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s not rewriting the book with a short cross pass, but making the route just shy of the goal line and trusting your receiver to fight for the touchdown is pure gold. Brown stands up to three D-men and has the power to not go down and the smarts to stretch that arm out. This should be a contender for play of the year.

 

Week 16: The Killer Shrews

killer_shrews_poster_02.jpg.html

 

Director: Ray Kellog
Released: 1959

 

This surprisingly intriguing B-movie is rightfully famous today for its atrocious special effects, in which greyhound dogs were outfitted with toothy facial prosthetics and some sort of shaggy fur suit in order to depict the titular shrews that are let loose against a hapless group of humans holed up for a last stand. I’m not going to say the visuals aren’t often ridiculous but you owe it to yourself to give this one a chance.

 

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Here’s the concept behind the silly title: in the real world, shrews are tiny little guys related to moles who, because of their diminutive size, have a bonkers fast metabolism rate that requires them to eat more than their body weight every day. So what if you sized up these crazed predators to a stature that could take down humans? In reality the animal would have a lower metabolic rate, but this is Hollywood baby, so let’s suspend the disbelief.

 

The writing is easily the strongest element of the picture with not only the conceit of the hyper predatory shrews becoming giant, but also the concept of a scientist trying to shrink down humanity so we’ll have more resources to go around (“The Big Shrink” by The Dead Kennedys, anyone?).

 

killershrews2

 

There’s some good human drama here too, with hero James Best evading assassination attempts from wannabe-top-dog Ken Curtis all while the slavering beasts are pounding the gates. Finally, the depiction of violence is far more serious here than one might reasonably expect. Shotgun blasts knock over well trained dogs-cum-shrews within the same frame without a cut, which is really quite impressive for such a low budget picture.

 

And yet it’s clearly this combination of positive elements and schlocky visuals that elevates The Killer Shrews from a worthwhile programmer into the pantheon. The threat of death is so palpably real for these lousy actors, but on the other hand, their attackers come off so distinctly as dogs dressed up as monsters.

 

Killer-shrew-1

 

View the trailer here:

 

 

And the masterpiece in its entirety:

 

 

 


NFL Turkey Day Priveiw 2016

Written by :
Published on : November 23, 2016

 

For many, watching NFL action on Thanksgiving is as essential as mashed potatoes. Most of my Turkey Day memories include the Detroit Lions and eating way too much. Then watching watching the Dallas Cowboys and eating a little more. Then complaining about how the Lions played while having coffee and pie. Let’s look at the menu for Thursday’s football feast.

 

9:30 am (PT) – Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

 

Time to wake up and jump straight into fire. The lead in the NFC North hangs in the balance as both teams are 6-4 and coming off wins. Lions beat the Vikings in OT just a few weeks ago and this looks to be another close one. The winner will have a commanding lead with only 5 games left. All while Green Bay continues to implode and Chicago celebrates the Cubs. This Thanksgiving day game may decide the division.

 

Make at least a light snack during or before the game. Better yet, do a full breakfast or meal. You may think skip the early meal and save the room for dinner but it’s the early calories that kick start your metabolism and allow you to consume the most food possible. When you skip an eating, your body goes into reserve mode where it burns calories slowly. That’s not what you want, you want a roaring fire of an appetite. Let there be meat! Let there be football! Glorious Turkey Day to you all!

 

Good news for Minnesota is that their defense is legit and that will keep them in any contest. Good news for Detroit is that all 10 of their games this season (NFL record) have been decided within 7 points and Stafford seems to have a knack for winning it late. So we know this is going to come down to the last few possessions. Great, another holiday filled with screaming and tension.

 

1:30 pm – Washington R-words at Dallas Cowboys

 

Another tough divisional bout. NFC East leading Dallas defends their 9-1 record against 6-3-1 Washington who have found their stride recently, winning the last two. It’s hard to pick anyone to beat the Cowboys in Texas but Washington is sneaky. Alright, time to eat. First plate strategy is to get a small taste of everything the dinner has to offer. This may be tough depending on how many side dishes your Aunt brings. Resist the urge to make some mountain of first portion or else there will never be seconds.

 

I’ve mentioned this before but why does the league always schedule the Cowboys against one of the Native American themed franchises on Thanksgiving? Washington is in the division, so that kind of makes sense but it seems more than just luck. It’s kind of like someone at the NFL thinks it’s cute to play cowboys and indians on Turkey Day. Also, I’ve stopped using the Washington mascot name in my writing and I hope Washington ownership makes a change.

 

Good news for the Cowboys is that rookie QB Dak Prescott is playing great and limiting turnovers. Good news for Washington is they found a spark with RB Robert Kelley and QB Kirk Cousins is slinging. Time for a second plate. This time load up on all the best stuff, extra gravy please. But do it quick, the second half is about to start. The Washington defense needs to slow down the Dallas rushing attack or there is no chance they can win. Let’s hope Washington can score enough so this stays interesting.

 

5:30 pm – Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts

 

More football? Pile it on. This third game was added a few years back and can be any two teams, while Dallas and Detroit always host games. The last matchup features two 5-5 crews that both need the win to keep their playoff dreams alive. Grab a strong cup of black coffee, cream or sugar not needed because of what’s next: a piece of every pie, cake, pie or pie that’s available. Add ice cream or whipped cream where applicable.

 

Indy has trouble slowing down opposing offenses and Pittsburgh knows how to score a gang of points but those 5-5 records means we aren’t really sure who is going to show up. The Steelers’ ground game is solid with Le’Veon Bell and Big Ben to Antonio Brown is money in the bank but they don’t always seem to be able to put it all together. The Colts and QB Andrew Luck are building some steam with back-to-back wins over Green Bay and divisional foe, Tennessee.

 

Good news for Indy is they are at home and indoors which doesn’t sound like much of an advantage until you consider playing outside, at night, at Heinz Field. Good news for Pittsburgh is that QB Ben Roethlisberger has feasted on the Colts in his career. Ben Hungry. This could be a shootout. Which is the best case scenario because we are all very sleepy, so if this isn’t gripping, I’m napping.

 

nfl-thanksgiving-madden-jpg

 

Remember, Thanksgiving is day is about family and those close to your heart. Eat, drink, be merry but take a second to thank those around you. If you are away from the ones you love, call, text or fax. And if you go out into the world on Turkey Day, please be appreciative of the men and women who are working on the holiday.

 

Nap time.

 

 


Re-Drafting the First Round of Fantasy Football after Week 3

Written by :
Published on : September 29, 2016

 

Hindsight is 20-20. If only we knew what we know now, back then. It would all be so different. If only we could go back in time and change things. This season saw a new trend from many fantasy football experts who suggested selecting wide receivers early and that the era of running backs first was over. I didn’t buy that and pushed for the classic RB heavy draft strategy. 3 games may not seem like much but when the playoffs start week 14 then 3 games is a huge chunk. Only time will tell who the real winners are.

 

So we’ve re-picked the first round based on the stats and info collected over the first 3 weeks. Here is your new top 12. All scoring is from ESPN standard fantasy leagues (non PPR). This is not the list of the top 12 scorers because that would be almost all QB’s and that’s not how people pick when you only start one quarterback.

 

1. RB David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

217 rush yards and 3 TDs. 169 receiving yards on 17 targets. Johnson is the most important piece of the Arizona Cardinals’ offense. If he stays healthy then he should be a top back for the whole year. If you had a chance to draft this guy and didn’t, then you suck.

 

2. RB DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans

 

When he left the Cowboys and tanked with the Eagles, many thought he was done. Well he is running hard in a system that feeds him the ball. He has 245 rushing yards and 1 TD plus 132 receiving yards and 2 TDs. That’s over 125 yards average of total offense per game.

 

3. RB LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

Easily one of the biggest surprises. For reference, LaGarrette was selected with the #99 pick in my very competitive and informed league. Blount’s 298 rush yards and 4 TDs top the NFL. He is a true fantasy diamond in the rough. Plus he has a great name.

 

4. WR Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions

Jones only has 2 TDs so far but his 408 receiving yards are over 100 yards higher than the next guy on the list. He has the best start, in terms of yards, for any Lions player ever. Including the late, great Calvin Johnson. People wondered how Detroit would replace Megatron and I think we have an answer.

 

5. RB Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons

 

Not the Atlanta ball carrier that most took early but he is the one to own so far as Coleman has outproduced Freeman 49 to 39 in overall fantasy points. On less touches I should add. Tevin’s 3 TDs in the last outing gave owners a monster stat line.

 

6. RB Matt Forte, New York Jets

Another familiar face in a new place. Age and years of heavy workload in Chicago scared most away from Forte. If you were smart or lucky enough to look past that then you found an RB1 somewhere in the mid rounds. AKA a total steal. 261 rush yards and 3 TDs with 67 receiving yards.

 

7. QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

The first quarterback on the new board. No one predicted this. Not even Matty Ice himself. He is currently the #1 overall scorer in fantasy with 70 huge points. That’s 23.3 points per game on average. That is epic in terms of production and consistency. All that with only one turnover.

 

8. WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Only the second wideout on this revised list. Evans has been beastly with young QB Jameis Winston looking for him early and often. Mike Evans is 5th among WRs in yards at 301 but second in targets with 38 and has 3 TDs. No reason to see this pace slow at all. Evans is a must start each week.

 

9. QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Drew’s team is 0-3 but you wouldn’t know from his stats. He already has over a 1,000 yards passing which leads the league and is tied for the lead with 8 TDs. The Saints defense sucks and can’t stop anyone so Brees should be launching it down field plenty to play catch up. These numbers should continue to balloon.

 

10. RB Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers

With touchdowns in all 3 games (4 overall), Gordon, has become the steady force the Chargers have been searching for. This is what they hoped for when they drafted him. The most impressive stat for Melvin is that he hasn’t scored less than 13 points in any contest.

 

11. QB Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions

 

Very similar numbers to Brees and Ryan. Stafford has 985 passing yards, 7 TDs and 2 INTs. Matt is the 3rd overall in scoring and ahead of such superstars as Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. All who were taken way before the Lions QB. Look for Stafford to keep hooking up with Marvin Jones for big gains.

 

12. RB Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers

Not a sexy pick but Hyde keeps rumbling along and picking up yards. 225 rushing and 4 TDs is nothing to sneeze at. Only 2 points in week 2 but sandwiched around performances of 2o and 24 points gets him the last spot of our round one re-draft.

 

 

See any patterns other than guys whose name starts with M? Most of these dudes were not considered first round talent. Shows what you know. Big names missing that dominated many draft boards are Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Odell Beckham Jr, Julio Jones, Ezekiel Elliot, Adrian Peterson (IR/RIP), Todd Gurley and Devonta Freeman. A special shout out to Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams who is the fourth highest scoring back in the league. I did not put him on the list as Le’Veon Bell is set to return and take his place, therefore he isn’t worth drafting in this new mock first round. But valiant effort so far. Cheers.

 

This order is sure to jumble itself in another 3 weeks of play. But the lesson is that #1 RB that gets a full workload is still the most valuable commodity in fantasy. The NFL is a throw first league and backs who snag a few catches a game, get 10-15 carries and goal line touches are worth their weight in gold. If you disagree, let me hear it in the comments.

 

Trade Bait.

 

 


Fantasy Football Draft Strategies

Written by :
Published on : August 1, 2016

 

 

Thank God, football is coming back. And with it, comes the evil step brother known simply as fantasy. Many drafts are still weeks away but some crazy leagues do them at the start of training camp. So it’s not too early to start talking about it, even though my girlfriend would disagree. But for once, this isn’t about her. This is all about the fantasy football draft and how you should decide to pick players. I’m talking Winston Churchill war room level. The draft is one of the biggest determining factors to who wins the championship. Waiver wire is hugely important but if you select a top trio of QB, RB, WR and they all stay healthy and productive then your path to a trophy is much easier. The big question is, who do you take? And when?

 

If the draft scares you or you think this sounds like too much work then just set your team to auto-draft and sleep easy. We call these people “draft dodgers.” To be fair, I’ve had some pretty decent squads the few times I let the computer pick. My first team back in 2003 was auto drafted and I made the playoffs. Another year, I was hungover and a slept through the draft. Still made the playoffs. Damn, maybe the robots know more than me? Fuck that. I reject that theory. Let’s get to business.

 

1st pick

 

The old fantasy football draft rule was go running back, running back with your first two picks. This is still a viable route because the value of a solid RB is unmatched. Then we saw freak wide receivers and quarterbacks going in the top ten. Players like Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson changed the game. These guys are fantasy studs. No question. But is it smart to use your first pick on a WR or a QB? I say no, because of the the drop off between the production of ball-carriers versus other positions is way out of balance.

 

That means a top QB may get 30 points in a week while a waiver QB may score 20. But when it comes to RB’s it will be a difference of 30 to 3. If you play in a 10+ team league then there just aren’t quality and consistent players available to add. You can find a serviceable QB while there will be zero starting RB’s. For example, last year, I used a combo of Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick (both claimed off the waiver wire) in the final weeks and playoffs. They equaled or out performed my highly drafted competition. I also won the championship. There will always be these type of finds.

 

So, your first pick should be a running back. You can never guess who will get hurt but try and draft someone with a decent o-line and hopefully, a short injury history.

 

2nd pick

 

With your second pick, go either a top pass-catcher (WR/TE) or another clear starting RB. If the back is in a timeshare situation then I go with the receiver who is most likely to either see higher volume and or lots of red zone targets.

 

Note: tight end is another role that has little middle class. Getting an every week starter is a blessing. One less slot to stress over. Just leave Gronk in the lineup until the bye.

 

3rd pick

So we have an elite running back, a big WR and we are back on the clock. I’d still go after a RB. There are lots of attractive QB’s and number two wideouts but they will mostly be there next round. Get that other bell cow now and then you can move to deep threats while everyone else is scrambling and buying high on guys who only see 10 carries a game.

 

4th round and beyond

So far we picked RB, WR, RB. Now get that TE. The top three names will be gone but there’s plenty talent left. If for some reason, all good the tight ends are drafted then grab another WR or your favorite of the remaining QB’s. These are the suggestions for next round anyways. After rounds 4 or 5, it’s hard to recommend position picks, mainly because we don’t know what the board will look like. The draft is all about finding value.

 

The one stat that would best explain this concept is the baseball metric WAR (Wins Above Replacement). WAR relates to a players performance against the average athlete. Keep that idea in mind when you are picking. Where are you finding the best values? And don’t fall into trends. If WR’s are going like hot cakes, don’t sell out your plan just to not be left out. Because after all those teams have receivers, they are going to start taking the other things you need. Stick to your guns.

 

The double down and handcuffing

 

No, I’m not talking about a wild weekend in Las Vegas, I mean the double down aka the double dip, which is drafting players on the same team. Like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. So when Ben tosses a TD to Antonio, you get points from both players for one touchdown. It’s nice when it can happen but I try and not count on it. Don’t move up/change your draft plan just for a double down. The NFL season is crazy. Tons will get hurt, traded, arrested. Who knows. Diversity is key to a deep squad. Don’t bet the farm on Tony Romo playing all year with Dez Bryant.

 

Handcuffing is when you draft the backup to a popular player. Just in case they get injured. I like this for one skill player per roster. Find that guy you would be screwed without and invest in their nightmare. Look, if your first round pick goes down and someone else scoops the backup then your team lost a huge asset and you handed it to your jerk friend. At least this way, no other franchise gains because of your loss.

 

Wrap up

Take backs early and often, then top pass catchers and more backs. Wait on the QB and stock up on depth. Standard formats see lineups with two RB and two WR with one TE and a FLEX (can be any RB, WR, TE) so it makes sense to address the biggest need. Yes to hand cuffing but no to the double down. And always beware of the celebrity trap. It tricks us, makes us take Russell Wilson too early or draft a defense in the 6th round. Stay strong and you can get through this.

 

Champs

 

 


Pro Football’s Changing of the Guard

Written by :
Published on : March 12, 2016

 

The NFL lost some of it’s all time greats this offseason. A handful of Pro Football’s best players at their respective positions decided to walk away from the game. Some before their time, and some who had long and fruitful careers before deciding to hang up the cleats. Whether too soon or at the right time, the game of football, the NFL and the sports world in general will miss them.

 

Luckily for all of us, the game is in good hands. Those who decided to walk away this offseason will be passing the torch to the new generation of superstars, who will make sure that our Sunday afternoons are still full of joy and wonder. Let’s take a minute to reflect on the great players we are losing and see which players will help us forget about them.

 

intothesunset

 

 

Megatron shutting down

 

This is especially hard for me to process. Calvin Johnson is a future hall of famer, despite what some people might say. He played for nine seasons and for more than half of that period he was the undisputed best wide receiver in football. He consistently faced double and triple coverage and still caught almost everything thrown in his direction. I’ve never seen someone of his size have that kind of speed, agility and body control. You don’t earn the nickname Megatron for nothing and while I’m sad to see him go, the next big star wide receiver is nothing to sneeze at either.

 

I really think Antonio Brown is going to be the one to carry Calvin’s torch for years come. I’ve already thought that he is the best wideout in the league for a year or two now. He has a knack for making eye popping plays just like Megatron, and with LeVeon Bell’s rash of recent injuries, I see him as the most important part of that Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense. He’s lucky to have had the same quarterback for his entire career and their chemistry is something to behold. If I were a Steelers fan it might even be enough to feel better about Calvin Johnson’s early retirement, but at least I’ll still get to see someone making unbelievable catches every week.

 

 

The Sheriff has turned in his badge

 

I think we all knew that Peyton Manning was going to retire after he and his Broncos won Super Bowl 50. It shouldn’t be surprising, especially when you consider that he wasn’t exactly propelling his team to victory in that game, or the playoffs for that matter. It was the Broncos’ defense that was the driving force behind that championship run and anyone with cursory knowledge of the game could tell that Manning was struggling out there. Like Megatron, injuries had begun to wear away his ability to stay on the field for a full season, but unlike Megatron, those injuries had also begun to take a huge toll on his ability to make plays. For most of the last two decades he was the best QB in the league but it is now evident that his arm can’t keep up with his beautiful football mind. There’s not a more perfect time to walk away and that’s exactly what he did, but don’t fret, the game is in good hands.

 

It’s kind of fitting that Peyton would be handing the torch off to Cam Newton, the losing QB of Super Bowl 50. Cam gets a lot of criticism from people because of his attitude or the way he carried himself after losing the big game, but you can’t deny this kid’s talent. It took me a little while to come around, but now that he has fully developed his pocket passing, it’s clear that he isn’t going anywhere and we should expect him to be one of the best quarterbacks in football for years to come. Last year he had 35 passing touchdowns to go along with 10 on the ground, and only had 10 interceptions. Expect to see him in a few more Super Bowls because he is finally putting it all together and that should be scary for defenses around the league.

 

 

Charles Woodson’s next phase

 

Man, what a career this dude has had. He was the first and only defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy and won a National Championship with the Michigan Wolverines that same year in college (1997). In the NFL, he won AP Defensive Rookie of the year (1998), Defensive Player of the Year (2009), was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times, and won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers. He literally has nothing left to accomplish, as a player at least… I think the next phase of this amazing player’s life should be a foray into coaching. With few years as an assistant he can eventually ascend the ranks and become a head coach. First in college, where he obviously wins the College Football Playoff, then into the NFL where he wins a Super Bowl. After that he will transcend his earthly vessel and rise to the heavens as the greatest soul ever to participate in the sport of football, on any level. They’ll probably rename the Lombardi trophy after him. But until then, let’s see who will be filling the void that Chuck is leaving.

 

There were quite a few different players that I had to choose from here but I decided that Chuck Woodson would be handing his torch off to Arizona Cardinals defensive back, Tyrann Mathieu. I put him at the top of the defensive back totem poll because of his knack for making big plays and his ability to play all over the field. In the Cardinals aggressive, hybrid style defense, he is asked to play both cornerback and safety and he excels no matter where he’s at. He can play the run, he can rush the passer, he can play man, he can play zone. There’s really nothing that he can’t do in that defense, or any defense for that matter. There might be some defensive backs who are slightly better in coverage but there’s none that can to the variety of things that he can. It’s a shame that he tore his ACL in week 15 last year and missed the Cardinals’ playoff run because he could have been a difference maker. But he’s only 23 years old and will be making a difference for many years to come.

 

 

So long, Beast Mode

 

Oh Beast Mode, the NFL is really going to miss you, but not as much as I will. Marshawn Lynch was always a unique personality but just as unique was the talent he displayed out there on the football field. Fellow SBS sage, Roger Pretzel, talks a little more about his demeanor here, but I’m here to reminisce about his ability to run through an entire defense and leave them in his dust. I’ve never seen someone get swallowed up by tacklers only to come out on the other end of the pile and keep running the way that he did. He won’t go down as the best running back ever, but if you ask me, he’s the best tackle breaker ever to carry the rock. Fans in Seattle will be left wanting more from their now departed running back but at least NFL fans as a whole will have a new back to look forward to.

 

When the Rams, who at that point were still in St Louis, drafted Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft, I was both surprised and relieved. Surprised because he was still coming off of an ACL tear that was going to make him miss at least some of his rookie season, and relieved that he didn’t fall to the Lions. I was scared that they would jump on the chance to draft him because of his high level of potential despite recovering from such a serious injury. I was an idiot because I now realize that my team, and every other team in the league, would be very lucky to have this guy. He won the offensive rookie of the year award and was selected to the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Rams. It’s obvious that this kid is going places. I can easily see him being the best running back in football next year and beyond.

 

newdawn

 

As the sun sets on one group of legends, the dawn of a new age of NFL superstars is upon us. While there’s nothing wrong with remembering all of the good times that these now-retired legends brought us, we shouldn’t be sad. Life goes on, and with the talent that these young badasses have, it won’t be long before we are forget all about those old fogies. So pour out a little liquor for guys like Megatron and Beast Mode and get over it, because next season will be here soon and then it’ll be time to move on and enjoy some highlights from the new kids on the block.

 

 


How to Fix the NFL Pro Bowl

Written by :
Published on : January 31, 2016

 

 

Sunday, the stars of the NFL head to Hawaii for a showcase of the league’s best. This break in playoff action is the Pro Bowl. The game has become some strange appetizer we are supposed to enjoy before the Super Bowl. Trouble is, no one likes it. The NFL wants a cool and entertaining All Star game but it doesn’t work like it does in baseball or basketball. Football is full-contact. You can’t play it for funsies. You have to play for blood. Over the last few years, the Pro Bowl has undergone a bit of a facelift to help make the event more interesting but only few ideas have really stuck. Here is a little advice on how to fix the Pro Bowl.

 

The first issue is this is not the league’s best. The really good players are gearing up for Super Bowl 50 and the other remaining top Pros are getting ready for surgery or are too pissed off to play some meaningless pick-up game. This year’s meeting can now boast the most rejected Pro Bowl invitations ever. Stars like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, LeSean McCoy, JJ Watt, Antonio Brown and many others all said “no thanks.” The players that really take advantage of this spotlight are the younger stars. For them, it’s still fun. They get a trip to Hawaii, they get paid, and they get to show off. Maybe we name the All Pro list then let the under 25 year olds take center stage. This sounds fun but that isn’t the point. How can we make a game that guys like Watt and Brady want to play, even after they get booted from the playoffs?

 

pro-bowl 2016
Most of these guys will not play

 

 

Pay Them a Crazy Amount

scroogecash

 

What if each player got 10 million dollars for playing in the Pro Bowl? You think they’d say “no” then? I don’t think so. I understand that 86 players are named to the combined roster so this plan requires 860 million dollars for one game. But believe me, everyone would watch that game. And those guys would play full speed. This is the best idea so far. Dear Owners, start saving your pennies cause we got a big party we want to throw at the end of the season and we need you to pay for it (only 27 mill per owner/year).

 

 

Add a Real Incentive

 

In baseball, the MLB All Star game means something. The American League stars play the National League equivalents and the winning squad gets home field advantage in the World Series for their conference. Players are encouraged to go for it because they might be playing in the big game and hosting a series is a serious bonus. The NFL could learn this lesson, maybe not for home field but for another perk. Currently, we have a Pro Bowl player draft but what if we went back to AFC versus NFC? And what if the winning team gets to decide possession and kickoff? Get rid of the coin toss and let the winning team choose. Or maybe something about draft picks? This adds a level of importance the contest currently lacks.

 

 

Change the Rules

double dare

 

They already don’t let the defenses blitz the QB. It’s a neutered game. So let’s go all the way and ruin it. What if the Pro Bowl was just a skills contest? Like an All Pro combine. Who can throw the farthest, who runs fastest, who can bench press the most? Maybe we go full Double Dare and see which athlete can find an orange flag inside a giant nose.

 

So looks like the heart of the issue is that the game happens too late and then we don’t get to see our favs play. On top of that, the matchup is never as good as advertised. We need to shake this system up. Start the game earlier, tweak the scoring to make it more like MTV’s Rock ‘N Jock, or add some intense stakes like cutting off fingers or losers get awful tattoos. At the end of the day, I think it’s unfair to ask the NFL elites to try harder. That’s why football is awesome: there are limited number of games and every meeting matters.

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 9

Written by :
Published on : November 11, 2015

 

Week 8 is in the books, a special thanks to all of those who came to see some of the SBS staff at the tailgate at USC on Saturday. Wish I could have been there but hey, someone has to separate the heroes and villains each and every week. After all, when your team loses like my Spartans did on Saturday night, it helps to know there are some weekly champs out there that could use your support. This week, the gridiron monopolizes our Champ and Chump sections, taking home almost all of the hardware. We celebrate a great individual effort, a clutch late game performance and a total team effort for slowing down a speeding train. On the flip side, some zebras got in the way of a great football game (again) and a legendary winner appears to be an absolute loser. Let’s get to the picks.

 

 

Champ: Antonio Brown

Can’t stop him

 

17 catches, 284 yards in a 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders

In a game where the Steelers again saw their quarterback leave the game due to injury, Antonio Brown and backup running back Deangelo Williams took over and put the team on their backs. Just for the hell of it, Brown also carried the ball twice for 22 yards and even made two tackles. With the win, Pittsburgh improved to 5-4 on the year and is in the thick of the wild card race. With Cincinnati off to an 8-0 start, the wild card is likely all the Steelers can hope for but with Antonio Brown playing like this, even the Bengals will be taking note. Big Ben is expected to be sidelined for at least one week and the Steelers have a brutal stretch following their week 11 bye.

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Carolina Panthers- It isn’t always the prettiest, but Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are 8-0 after 3 straight wins vs the Seahawks, Colts and Packers. Not a bad stretch.

 

Reggie Jackson- Jackson scored 26 of his 40 points in the 4th quarter on Sunday night. The Pistons outscored the Trail Blazers 41-11 in the 4th after trailing by as many as 18 earlier in the game. The Pistons went on to win 120-103.

 

Alabama- Held Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette to just 31 yards on 19 carries in a big 30-16 win over LSU on Saturday.

 

 

Chump: Jerry Jones

Looks evil

 

Last week, some very graphic images were released that showed the extent of the assault Greg Hardy put on his girlfriend last year. As we all know by now, Greg Hardy is an absolute garbage human being who is somehow allowed to cash in on the football field when he should be behind bars. What we didn’t know, or maybe what we always thought and now know for sure is that Jerry Jones, Cowboy’s’ owner is also a despicable person who values dollar signs more than actual values that a respectable human would care about. We’ve all since lifted our jaws back up off the floor after seeing the disturbing photos and found ourselves wondering what the Cowboy’s would do with Greg Hardy after these photos were released. Would Dallas bench him, or hide him by not having him available on Sunday, suspend him perhaps, or what many NFL fans hoped, would Dallas be so appalled at the severity of what Hardy did that they would outright release him? The answer, none of the above. Jerry Jones stands by everything he had previously said regarding his “leader” Greg Hardy and continues to support him. I disagree with many who think Jerry Jones is so naïve and is so willing to invite his players into his family that he sometimes defends them to a fault, instead I feel that if Jerry Jones is so blind to think you can sweep all of this under the rug and that the wins and revenue that Greg Hardy can create will somehow repair the bruises and welts he dealt, well then Jerry Jones is almost just as vile as Greg Hardy. And if the Dallas Cowboy fans, and sponsors, have any moral fiber to actually put the well-being of human lives above your glorified football team, then prove it. Make a stand and force the hand of the Dallas Cowboys to do something right.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

 

Michigan State Football- With under 2 minutes left, Michigan State led by 12 points. Undefeated and playing a 3-6 team, the Spartans broke down defensively and blew a huge opportunity, potentially ending their possible playoff run.

 

Referees- Alex wrote a great piece with some ideas on how to solve the issues with referees in football. This past weekend another absolutely inexcusable call may have cost a team a win. Nebraska’s touchdown with 17 seconds left over the Spartans was absolutely illegal with the Wide Receiver taking himself out of bounds only to come back in and catch the football. He was ruled forced out, and after further review it was somehow not overruled. The Spartans blew it by letting Nebraska hang around, but the refs stole their victory.

 

Aqib Talib- In a loss vs the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Aqib Talib received a penalty and ultimately a one game suspension for poking Dwayne Allen in the eye on Indianapolis’ final drive. In a game where the Colts ended up winning by 3 points, Indy was allowed the opportunity to run out the clock because in part of the penalty.

 

 


Fantasy Football Saints, Sinner and Sleepers: WR Edition

Written by :
Published on : September 3, 2015

“Here we lay bare the souls of those who play the game for our entertainment. We praise the saints, condemn the sinners, and root out the sleepers who can help your fantasy football team stay on the righteous path.”

 

The third installment of Saints, Sinners and Sleepers will explore the wide receiver position heading into the 2015 NFL season. These are the best of the best, the worst of the worst and some of the most underestimated in their field. The following players can help you gain entry into the pearly gates of a fantasy football championship, or send you to the seventh circle of a losing season. Heed the words you are about to read, and know that it is truth.

 

Saints

There’s going to be a lot of this going on with Antonio Brown.

 

Antonio Brown-  For the last two seasons, Antonio Brown has ranked in the top two in league for receiving yards (1,698 and 1,499) and was third in touchdown receptions last season (13). Coming into his 6th season in the league, he looks to build on his already strong relationship with quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger and improve on his stellar numbers from last season. He completes the Holy Trinity of Saints in Pittsburgh and like the other two, is going to have a huge season in 2015. Despite his rather small frame (5′ 10″, 186 lbs), he is able to win battles against larger defenders and is a threat all over the field, whether it be in space on a short bubble screen or catching the deep ball after blazing past opposing defenses. Saint Antonio is going to continue to prove this season that he is one of the best pass catchers in the league.

 

Dez Bryant- On a personal level, I find it very hard to call Dez Bryant a saint; his attitude and tendency to cause drama on the field and in the locker room are big turnoffs for me. That said, this guys is a unique talent, and after ranking in the top three in receiving touchdown for the last three seasons, including leading the league last year (16), his status as one of the best is secure. He caught 51 more passes than the next closest receiver on his team last season, and considering they didn’t add any special talents at the position this offseason, it’s hard to see that changing. Saint Dez’ physical ability are on a level that hasn’t been seen since Calvin Johnson was healthy, and he brings the hammer of God down upon any DB who is unfortunate enough to try to break down and tackle him in space. Add that to his ability to win contested catches in the air, and it’s easy to see why he is one of the best young talents in football.

 

Calvin Johnson- Saint Megatron has been getting slept-on hard this year in fantasy football and I just don’t understand it. This is a guy who missed three games last season, and was used exclusively as decoy in another two, yet he still managed to 1,077 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. Now he has to have a chip on his shoulder after hearing all the talk of him being washed up at the ripe old age of thirty. This is the first time in a few seasons that the future hall of fame receiver will come into the season healthy, and from reports out of Lions’ training camp, it sounds like this saint still has plenty of miracles up his sleeve. Look for Saint Megatron to get back to his dominating ways and make jaw-dropping plays all year long. If there are doubters now, there will be plenty of true believers by the time January rolls around.

 

Sinners

Thinking about all those drops he had in college.

 

Devin Funchess-  I still can’t believe how much the Carolina Panthers paid to move up and draft Devin Funchess. I had high hopes for the tight end turned wide out when he was at Michigan, and although he did provide the occasional big play, he routinely dropped balls and hurt his team. Sure, he has some size (6′ 4″, 236 lbs), but he is not very fast and has hands of stone. He and the team would probably benefit from a move back to tight end, but that may not be feasible due to his lackluster run blocking. This sinner is bound to enrage the fanbase in Carolina more often than not, just as he did in Ann Arbor. While the loss of Kelvin Benjamin for the entire 2015 season makes it tempting to consider allowing this heathen to join the ranks of your team, but he is beyond salvation and should be cast out.

 

Sammy Watkins- I expected Sammy Watkins to be very good last year… if he got drafted into the right situation. It turned out that he wound up in Buffalo. True, the Bills are in a much better place than last season but Rex Ryan is now running the team and he is known for a few things; good defense, strong running game and poor quarterback play. I’m still not sold on the Bills’ newly named starting QB, Tyrod Taylor, who will likely be benched at some point before November. The addition of other offensive weapons in Charles Clay, Percy Harvin and LeSean McCoy, make sure there’s no chance Watkins sees anything near the 128 targets he saw last year (no receiver has ever gotten that many targets in a Rex Ryan offense). Lastly, he has become somewhat injury prone and has been in and out of practice this summer while recovering from hip surgery. Sammy Watkins is a sinner of circumstance, but a sinner nonetheless, and you should beware.

 

Dwayne Bowe- I don’t understand how this sinner keeps getting starting wide receiver jobs in the NFL. He hasn’t gained 1,000 receiving yards since 2011, and hasn’t had more than 5 receiving touchdowns since 2010. Last year he had ZERO receiving touchdowns (no wide receiver on the Chiefs had one) and as a reward he got $9 million in guaranteed money from the Browns. I know it seems like I’ve used this recurring segment to rag on the Browns players (except for Duke Johnson), but I feel a responsibility to warn fantasy football owners about just how bad this team is. Regardless of which sinner is throwing the ball to Bowe, you can expect him to continue his sinning ways and drag down your entire team.

 

Sleepers

Look for Kamar in an end zone near you in 2015.

 

Kamar Aiken- Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of the former UDFA out of UCF; a couple weeks ago I hadn’t either. Breshad Perriman’s injury could be the best thing that ever happened to the speedy 4th year receiver, who is currently listed as a starter for the Ravens. With guru, Marc Trestman, running the offense in Baltimore, look for Aiken to get a good amount of balls thrown his way. He is a sleeper in the truest sense, and is barely being drafted in most leagues. If you can get him in the last few rounds or even better, as a free agent, you could be getting the biggest steal in your entire league.

 

Jeff Janis- The second year receiver out of Saginaw Valley didn’t see the field much in 2014, but with Jordy Nelson out for the season with a torn ACL, that’s going to change. You can believe that fans in Green Bay and around the league will be hearing this guy’s name much more often now. There’s nothing that an under-the-radar wide receiver should wish for more than the chance to have a future hall of fame QB throwing them the ball (just ask every no name who’s ever been lucky enough to land in New England). Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best in the game and he has the ability to make everyone around him better. Janis has already impressed in the preseason, and with Randall Cobb’s week 1 status in doubt, he could be a very busy man when the Packers head to play the lowly Bears in the Windy City. Look for big things out of Mr. Janis this year.

 

Markus Wheaton- The 3rd year receiver out of Oregon State was a bit of a disappointment last season after he only accumulated 644 yards and 2 touchdowns, but don’t give up on him just yet. The Steelers and their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, still believe in him, and you should too. The offense in the Steel City is going to be very good and with Martavis Bryant missing the first 4 games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, this could be the perfect time for Wheaton to fill the void and have his breakout. He will be going pretty late in most drafts, if at all, and with the way that the Steelers are going to be scoring points this season, there’s a very good chance the Wheaton puts up the numbers that I thought he would last year. Take him late and reap the rewards.

 

 

 


Fantasy Football Saints, Sinners and Sleepers: RB Edition

Written by :
Published on : August 28, 2015

 

“Here we lay bare the souls of those who play the game for our entertainment. We praise the saints, condemn the sinners, and root out the sleepers who can help your fantasy football team stay on the righteous path.”

 

The second installment of Saints, Sinners and Sleepers will explore the running back position heading into the 2015 NFL season. These are the best of the best, the worst of the worst and some of the most underestimated in their field. The following players can help you gain entry into the pearly gates of a fantasy football championship, or send you to the seventh circle of a losing season. Heed the words you are about to read, and know that it is truth.

 

Saints

Look for Le’veon to be stiff arming and breaking ankles all season long.

 

Le’veon Bell- There’s that two game suspension to worry about but even that isn’t enough to knock the halo off of this saint’s head. He’s just that good. DeMarco Murray got all the hype last season but the they both averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Bell is going to be much fresher though, having rushed the ball 102 less times than the now Philadelphia Eagle, Murray. He is going to benefit considerably from defenses focusing on Antonio Brown, and he will make them pay for leaving the box to cover the deep part of the field. Look for him to keep improving and solidify his role as the best running back, fantasy or otherwise. The offense in Pittsburgh will be miraculous this season and it will be Saint Le’veon who leads them to the promised land and elevates all those around him.

 

Marshawn Lynch- After some speculation that he was thinking about hanging up his holy cleats, Saint Beastmode re-upped with the Seahawks this offseason. The heavens have smiled upon the Skittle loving running back in recent years and he has shown no signs of slowing down. He has started all 16 games in the last three seasons, and rushed for 13 touchdowns last year. There is a little bit of concern surrounding the interior of the Seahawks line due to the fact that they lost their starting center and left guard from last season, but don’t be surprised to see Marshawn making miracles happen all season long. The addition of big play threat, Jimmy Graham, will only make the offense scarier and leave opportunities for Lynch, as defenses try to defend against the deep ball.

 

Adrian Peterson- After the suspension and arrest last season for child abuse, it’s hard to consider Adrian Peterson a saint, but we must remember that this is solely related to this player’s performance in fantasy football. I condemn the acts of AP the person, but praise the deeds of AP the saintly football player. This man is going to come back and immediately put the fear of God into opposing defenses. Last time he had a chip on his shoulder (after he tore his ACL) he went on to rush for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdown. And this time its personal. Peterson believes that he was mistreated by both the league and the Vikings organization. He is hell bent on showing the world that he still belongs in the pantheon of great running backs, both past and present, and is most certainly still a number one running back in fantasy football.

 

Sinners

This duo is just bound to upset and disappoint Cowboys fans.

 

Darren McFadden- I don’t know how there are people out there who believe that this fantasy football sinner can still redeem himself. Sure, the Cowboys have a great offensive line, but not even they can cleanse this man. He just can’t play anymore, plain and simple. McFadden hasn’t averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry since 2011 and has had the second lowest yards per carry of any back over the last three seasons. The writing is on the wall for the former 1st round pick from Arkansas, and with him splitting reps with Joseph Randle this season there just isn’t any reason to believe that he can turn his career around and shake his status as a sinner.

 

Reggie Bush- As a Lions fan, I’ve had the chance to watch every game that Reggie Bush has appeared in over the last two seasons. In 2013 he was a breath of fresh air for the team up in Detroit, but in 2014 he couldn’t shake the injury bug and it seemed as if he had lost a little bit of the burst that made him a threat on the outside corner and in the passing game. The former Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl champion doesn’t seem to be durable enough to run between the tackles, as he did in Miami. With the deterioration of all of these skills, as well as his body, it’s hard to see how anyone could justify drafting this sinner. He has yet to appear in a preseason game which points to the questions about his durability, but either way, stay away from Mr Bush, lest he turn you into a sinner as well.

 

Isaiah Crowell- Last year people were high on the undrafted rookie out out of Alabama State after he rushed for 2 touchdowns in week 1, but this is an entire team of sinners that should be banished to the fires of Hades. The Browns are a mess and in the Cleveland’s two preseason losses, Crowell has rushed for a sinful 20 total yards. To be honest, I don’t see many players at any position on the Browns roster that are worth drafting this year in fantasy football. The only possible exception, Duke Johnson, has a good amount of hype (we’ll get to that later), but has yet to see any preseason action. Either way, this offense is not going to be very good, especially when you consider that defenses have nothing to fear in the passing game. Because of that, the run game is going to struggle even more with sinners like Crowell getting carries. I think there’s a strong chance he stays on the sideline until he can atone for his poor play.

 

Sleepers

Tre will be getting his groove on in the end zone a lot this season.

 

Tre Mason- All the hype in St Louis this season revolves around 1st round draft pick Todd Gurley, but former SEC Offensive Player of the Year and last year’s 3rd round draft pick, Tre Mason should not be forgotten. In 12 games last season he rushed for 4.3 yards per carry in an offense that ranked near the bottom of the league. If Gurley’s left knee isn’t ready to go by the beginning of the year, it’s easy to see Mason making his mark on the ground in St Louis and hanging onto a large share of the total carries for the Rams. He will probably be available in the later rounds of most drafts and will be a definite steal for anyone with the foresight to draft him. Plus his dad is Maseo from De La Soul, which is totally badass.

 

Ryan Matthews- Hopes for Philadelphia’s running game were high when they signed Ryan Matthews early in the offseason. Then they also went and signed DeMarco Murray, making the backfield very scary, while simultaneously turning Matthews into a bit of an afterthought. Make no mistake though, Matthews will see the field early and often come game time, and with Murray’s injury history, there’s a strong chance that Matthews starts a few games this year. He has averaged at least 4.3 yards per carry in four out of his five seasons as a pro and will benefit from the downhill running style that is typical in Kelly’s high flying offense. If he falls to you in mid-to-late rounds, you would do well to draft him.

 

Duke Johnson- I already talked about the young man out of Miami (Fl) when telling people to avoid the evil doer Isaiah Crowell in the Sinners section above. He was much talked about coming into April/May’s NFL Draft and to tell you the truth, I’m pretty surprised that he dropped all the way to the 3rd round. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry during his career with the Hurricanes, which is pretty damn impressive. With the running backs in front of him looking pretty awful during the preseason and two quarterbacks who have looked the same, odds are that the ball is going to be in the explosive running back’s hands more often than not. If he continues to fly under the radar, then you should grab him late.

 

 

 


Fantasy Football Saints, Sinners and Sleepers: QB Edition

Written by :
Published on : August 15, 2015

 

“Here we lay bare the souls of those who play the game for our entertainment. We praise the saints, condemn the sinners, and root out the sleepers who can help your fantasy football team stay on the righteous path.”

 

The first installment of Saints, Sinners and Sleepers will explore the quarterback position heading into the 2015 NFL season. These are the best of the best, the worst of the worst and some of the most underestimated in their field. The following players can help you gain entry into the pearly gates of a fantasy football championship, or send you to the seventh circle of a losing season. Heed the words you are about to read, and know that it is truth.

 

Saints

Number 12 will be giving opposing defenses trouble once again this season.

 

Aaron Rodgers– The best quarterback in the NFL is also your best option in fantasy football this year. He and Andrew Luck are just about neck and neck, but Rodgers is much more of a proven commodity. He has been slinging the pig skin with pinpoint accuracy for years now, and doesn’t look to be slowing down. Despite some nagging injuries last season he managed to throw for 4,381 yards and 38 touchdowns. He can make plays on the ground as well as through the air, and with a running game led by Eddie Lacy, he’ll have less pressure on him and more defenders in the box than in recent years, which should translate to some big play opportunities. He is a perhaps the biggest saint among QBs in the world of fantasy football and can do no wrong this year if he is your starting quarterback.

 

Andrew Luck- The football chucking ogre in Indy will be carrying his team once again this year and that means lots of yards through the air and touchdowns. In the last few seasons, the Colts have left a lot to be desired in the areas of running game and defense, and this year doesn’t seem to be any different. Hoping that an over the hill Frank Gore can resurrect the ground game seems like a long shot and they just didn’t add enough pieces to improve a bad defense. Once again, the Colts will be trying to hang 50 points a game and outscore their opponents. For owners charmed enough to land Luck this is great news and there’s no reason he can’t come close to the 4,791 passing yards and 40 touchdowns he racked up last season. He is still a very young saint with room to improve on his already very good numbers. If he is still available in the end of the first round then draft him.

 

Ben Roethlisberger- The Steel City has been fortunate to have Big Ben as their quarterback for the last decade. He has helped them win two Super Bowls, and is coming off of his best season yet, statistically speaking. His 67.1 completion percentage, 4,952 yards and 32 touchdowns were all high points in an already impressive career. Oh yeah, he also has arguably the best receiver in the game, Antonio Brown. These two are just hitting stride together and should be a potent combination for years to come.  If that wasn’t scary enough, Le’veon Bell will back after he serves his two game suspension and will have defenses stacking the box and leaving plenty of room for Ben to work miracles. The offense in Pittsburgh is going to score a ton of points, and if Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy he will be a true saint as your fantasy football QB, helping you win it all.

 

Sinners

Expect more of this if Ej Manuel takes the field for the Bills.

 

Whoever starts in Buffalo- Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor; it’s all garbage. The three QBs combined for an astounding 1,263 yards, 8 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last season. Compound their collective ineptitude with new head coach, Rex Ryan, who is notorious for staunch defense, strong running game and terrible quarterback play, and you have a recipe for an awful passing attack. I don’t think this really warrants further explanation, but they are bound to live up to their reputations as bums. No matter who wins the starting job, they are sinners and should be banished to the depths of fantasy football hell. Should you be unfortunate (or stupid) enough to end up with them on your roster, don’t say you weren’t warned, and may God have mercy on your soul.

 

Whoever starts in Houston- When Arian Foster went down with a gruesome groin injury in the opening days of training camp, life got considerably harder for whichever QB comes out on top. The two guys vying for the starting job are Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, and neither of them should have fans down in Houston very excited. Mallett passed for 400 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in three games with the Texans last year. Hoyer actually gave fans up in Cleveland a fleeting moment of hope last season, only to collapse in the second half of the season and finish with 3,326 yard, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Without their starting running back to keep opposing defenses occupied, you can be sure that both of these guys will see the field at some point, and will perform poorly when they do. DeAndre Hopkins can only do so much to cleanse these sinners and mask their deficiencies. Avoid them at all costs.

 

Whoever starts in Cleveland- This committee thing is becoming a common theme for the QB sinners, but hear me out. Gone are Brian Hoyer, a troubled but talented Josh Gordon and pass-catching TE Jordan Cameron, and in their place are Josh McCown, Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe. None of these names are scaring anyone and the fact of the matter is that Josh McCown and his competition, Johnny Manziel, combined for 2,381 yards, 11 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last year (Manziel contributed zero touchdowns to that total). Neither of these guys have ever given the indication that they were any good at the pro level. If you draft either of these sinners you are either desperate or crazy, and guaranteed to a fantasy football season full of pain and despair.

 

Sleepers

The number 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft will be putting up some numbers this year.

 

Jameis Winston- It’s never all that smart to put your faith in a rookie QB in fantasy football, but you could do a lot worse than former Heisman winner and national champion, Jameis Winston. Having two stud wide receivers, in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, to help ease the transition to the big leagues doesn’t hurt either. There will be interceptions for sure, but look for Winston’s talent to shine through often. Leading to good numbers in his first season under center in Tampa Bay.

 

Matt Stafford- It’s hard to consider Matt Stafford a sleeper at this point considering the fact that he has put up some very big numbers at times. Passing yards have always been fairly easy for Mr. Stafford but he has been inconsistent and had issues with interceptions at various points throughout his career. That changed last year with the arrival of head coach Jim Caldwell, and Stafford threw the fewest interceptions in any of his seasons as a full time starter. Stafford was much more careful than in years past and even seemed to be going against his gunslinger instincts. As a result, touchdowns were down along with interceptions. Look for Caldwell to give his young QB a longer leash and allow him to sling the ball downfield to the bevy of weapons at his disposal this year.

 

Derek Carr- The young quarterback in Oakland did an admirable job in his debut season for a Raiders team that was not very good, passing for 3,270 yards and 21 touchdowns. With the addition of Amari Cooper, look for Derek Carr to improve vastly over the course of the 2015 season. Cooper is a game changer and will be an easy target for Carr, and I see them connecting for at least 12 touchdowns this season. Opposing secondaries will learn very quickly that they must key in on the rookie wide receiver out of Alabama, leaving Carr plenty of opportunities to spread the ball around, and build on a strong rookie campaign.

 


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