Who I’m “Cuffing” With This NFL Season

With the NFL season kicking off a week from today, I’m doubling up on fantasy football because honestly it’s what everyone is thinking about these days. While you’re “working” you’re obviously checking out rankings or scouring the waiver wire. Driving your kids around to soccer practice, yeah I’m sure you didn’t hear anything they said in the backseat because you’re thinking about that trade offer your buddy sent you. Hell, you’re probably not even 100% focused while having sex with your wife…a part of you is wondering if you should have handcuffed CJ Anderson with Ronnie Hillman instead of taking that flyer in the last round. Okay, maybe that’s just me (just kidding babe – I LOVE YOU), but I digress.  As a side note, if this ISN’T enough fantasy football for you – also check out my 10 Commandments for Fantasy Football)

This past November my wife and I had a friend come to visit us from NYC. In the process of catching up, my wife had to ask him of course about his love life. Things were going well, but he mentioned not having a woman in his life right now despite it almost being “cuffing season”. I thought to myself…what the f**k is ‘cuffing season’? No I don’t live under a rock, but I had just gotten married and was with my wife for 8 years before we got hitched…so I’m totally oblivious to the problems facing single folks of our generation.

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Anyway, if you’re a fan of Matthew Berry TMR or just frequent the Fantasy Football page on ESPN, you’ve probably seen at some point his annual column where he talks about the guys he’s all in on. He calls it his “Flag Planting”, so this is my take on that. The guys going into this upcoming NFL season that I’m “cuffing” with from September until January, that will hopefully lead me (and you all reading this of course) to the fantasy football glory land…a championship. I’m going to try to spread it across the rounds (i.e. I’m not just going to “cuff” with the top 10 players on the draft board, that’d be pointless) to show you who I love throughout the course of the draft. So let’s get to it…

Early Rounds:

Adrian Peterson – seems like an obvious name, I know, but I’ve been shocked at the level of skepticism and concern surrounding AP going into this season. I get that he’s 30 years old, missed essentially all of last season and carries a very steep draft price (top 3 pick). I also get the moral dilemma some people face and I certainly don’t support how he chose to discipline his son…but listen, this is fantasy football and all I care about is his production on the field. For me he’s the clear-cut #1 overall player on the board. Call it a gut feeling, but I just think he’s coming out with a vengeance this season – determined to remind everyone across the league how transcendent a player he can be when healthy. Plus, he’s never had this much talent around him. He’s got a good young quarterback, downfield speed threats at WR on the outside in Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson, and a solid tight end in Kyle Rudolph. I know everyone points to how AP will make things easier for those WRs on the outside because teams will bring an extra man into the box. That’s fair, but I think there will also be times where the reverse is true, because once teams start to get burned by 40-50 yard bombs downfield to Mike Wallace, I think they’ll be moving those safeties back a few yards…and that’s all AP needs to turn some 4-5 yard runs into huge plays. If I have the #1 pick, he’s my guy…I’m all in.

CJ Anderson – I understand the doubters who point out he’s unproven, but frankly I think you’re all missing out on what’s important. He’s the running back on a team with Peyton Manning at QB, and to boot it’s coming off a season in which Peyton clearly broke down at the end of the year. They’re obviously going to be more conservative on offense to manage his throws and keep him healthy for what matters – the playoffs. So that means heavy doses of CJ in the run game. Plus, he’s their best back in pass protection and he’s a good receiver out of the backfield. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s now running in a Gary Kubiak offense – one that is predicated on running the ball, particularly in the red zone. He made Justin Forsett into an all-Pro running back last season and the Broncos have much better weapons at every skill position. Anderson will face soft fronts all day long and take advantage.

Julio Jones – outside of a healthy Megatron, I don’t think there’s a more physically gifted receiver in the entire NFL. I think Julio has that kind of upside if he can stay healthy for a full season, which has tended to be his issue. He usually has some kind of nagging injury to slows him down for a few weeks, but when healthy last year he put up some monster games (both receptions and yardage-wise). I’m a believer that touchdowns are fluky, but with Roddy White on the back nine of his career, the running game in a state of flux and no reliable tight end on the roster, I think Julio’s red zone looks will go through the roof. So I’m predicting double-digit touchdowns for JJ this season, and with his upside I think he can be the #1 receiver in fantasy (even though he typically is drafted as the 3rd – 6th). I’m grabbing the dirty bird on every roster that I possibly can.

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DeAndre Hopkins – Don’t care that the quarterback situation isn’t great (for the record, Brian Hoyer is a serviceable option at QB). I’m buying up all of the shares I can of Nuk, because I think he’s taking the leap into stardom this season. No Arian Foster, possibly for the first 2-4 weeks (as a best case scenario), and who the hell else are they going to throw to? Seriously, who’s their next receiver in line for targets? Cecil Shorts? Oh, wait, he really might be their other starting receiver? HAHAHAHAHAHA…yeah give me DeAndre all day every day, and hopefully a couple times on Sundays. Seriously, this guy will be a target monster this year – especially in the red zone without Foster on the field.

Brandin Cooks – He’s a popular name, and I think it’s for good reason. Nobody doubts the guys talent, and it’s hard to argue against the opportunity in front of him this season…he’s still playing in a Sean Payton offense, with Drew Brees at QB and they traded away Jimmy Graham this offseason. Plenty of extra targets to split up, and I think Cooks gets the lion’s share of those. Yes, most of his targets will be close to the line of scrimmage. But this guy has the quicks to turn a 5-yard pass in the flat into a big gain. I think he’s PPR gold this season – if he stays healthy all season has the potential for 100+ receptions. He’s drafted as a WR2, but has low-end WR1 upside in my opinion. I’m firmly on the bandwagon…WHO DAT!

Middle Rounds:

Allen Robinson – I know he plays for the Jags, and I’m not a believer in Blake Bortles. But you know what I am a believer in? That junk time yardage and touchdowns still count the same in fantasy football. The Jaguars will be playing from behind….A LOT, and Robinson is by far their best receiver and most polished route runner. I think he has a great year, particularly in PPR formats. I don’t see any Jags offensive player having a high TD total but I could easily see him eclipsing 80 catches and 1,000 yards.

Davante Adams – I had to move him from the ‘Late Rounds’ section due to the Jordy Nelson injury, so now he’s an obvious choice. I’ve been high on Adams from the beginning because of how many 3-wide sets the Packers run, and because he caught my attention at the end of last season once he got comfortable with the playbook. He obviously jumps up into a starting role to replace Jordy and has the potential for a big year catching passes from Aaron Rodgers every week.

Ben Roethlisberger – It pains me to write nice things about him because I think he’s a complete slimeball of a man, but he’s a great option as a fantasy QB. He’s got amazing weapons around him: arguably the most polished route-runner in football…Antonio Brown, the best all-around back (once he’s available week 3) in Le’Veon Bell, and a freakish downfield threat (again once he’s available) in Martavis Bryant. Frankly, I think you can snag Big Ben for good value because some people are worried about the impact of no Bell for 2 weeks and no Bryant for 4. I’m not concerned, you know why? Because the Steelers’ defense is total garbage and Ben will be throwing all day. If they don’t put up big points, they’ve got no shot…and this is about fantasy football, not real football.

Greg Olsen – He’s routinely getting drafted as the 4th (sometimes 5th) tight end and I think that’s just ludicrous. I get that Travis Kelce is a flashier name – when you draft Olsen nobody else in the room will go “ooooh and ahhhhh” or “damn I really wanted him”. But you know what he is? He’s a steady, dependable, and extremely productive player who has a legit chance to improve upon his career year from last season. I don’t think it was a fluke that Cam Newton targeted Olsen 9 times in the 1st half of their last preseason game against the Patriots. I think that’s because he has no other options that he has faith in – Kelvin Benjamin…out for the season. Devon Funchess, the kid everyone assumes will replace him…hasn’t practiced. Olsen is the clear #3 tight end in fantasy, but he’s going behind Jason Witten in some drafts. That is just insane…take advantage and enjoy the results all season.

Later Rounds:

Tom Brady – Everyone has been skittish about drafting Brady, and understandably so. He’s in line for a 4-game suspension and the Patriots have a week 4 bye so he had potential to miss the first 5 weeks of fantasy; fair concerns. But at this point the odds are pretty high that Brady doesn’t miss 4 games this season – hell he might not miss any if the judge approves an injunction allowing him to play while the appeal process runs its course (or even crazier, if he rules in his favor). Worst case scenario you have Brady from week 6 on, in which case you know he’d come back ready to set the league on fire. Best case, he’s available all season and you’re getting a top 5 or 6 QB option at great value. Swing for the fences and grab Brady if you can while his price is still cheap, and just protect yourself with an adequate backup like Sam Bradford or Ryan Tannehill.  Editor’s Note:  Obviously the ruling this morning will send Brady’s draft stock sky-rocketing.  I’m still cuffed to him in the middle round because he will be a beast this season (just slightly motivated you know)

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images - USA Today)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images – USA Today)

John Brown – He’s started to dart up everyone’s draft board, so you might not get him as cheap as people did earlier in the preseason. But he’s worth it, even if you have to reach a little to grab him. Bruce Arians has consistently referred to him as a clone of T.Y. Hilton. That’s pretty high praise from your head coach, and since Arians was a huge part of Hilton’s development in Indy, I feel pretty confident that he’ll maximize this kid’s talents. Plus, when Carson Palmer was healthy last season this kid always seemed to show up on film with big plays downfield. With Larry Fitz on the back nine of his career and Michael Floyd recovering from three fractured fingers, Brown will get his opportunity to run away with the job. See what Brown can do for you…

Eddie Royal – The hype train has starter to gain a lot of steam for Royal thanks to all the injuries in training camp to the rest of the receiving core (Kevin White out potentially all year and Alshon Jeffrey battling a calf injury). He can still be had for a good value on draft day and was a favorite of Jay Cutler back in their Bronco days. I expect him to be Cutler’s security blanket out of the slot, and think he’s got a shot to finish with a sneaky 85-90 receptions this year…making him a great WR3/Flex play in PPR formats and a good bench stash in standard leagues.

Matt Jones – Some guys just pass the eye test, you know what I mean? I know that Alfred Morris is the starter, and their offensive line has looked pretty miserable all preseason. I also don’t feel great about Kirk Cousins as the starting QB, but this kid just looks like a dynamic playmaker. Not many running backs at his size (6’ 2”) can move like he can. The Redskins are going to be bad – no way around that – and I think he’ll get involved in their offense sooner rather than later. If I’m throwing darts at the end of the draft, he’s my guy.

Disagree with me? Want to state your claim on another guy for this season? Or just want to tell me how much you LOVED the article (which is obviously what I live for), leave it in the comment section.

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Fantasy Draft Recap

Had the live draft for one of my fantasy football leagues last night (a league I’m the Commissioner of), so I figured I would throw together a recap of the draft results.  A better version of the ‘Draft Grades’ handed out by Yahoo after the results are in.  Just to give you some context, this was a 12-team draft; 0.5 PPR scoring, and the draft was held at a sketchy ‘Knights of Columbus’ where we were likely the only people with full-time jobs and all of our own teeth. So, I’ll run through each team, by draft position, with overall highlights and grades. Sneak preview: it was a very competitive race for Worst Overall Draft and Biggest Reach.

Team #1 – Team THC

With the #1 overall pick, this guy took Le’Veon Bell. I don’t have him atop my big board but I can’t really argue with it…he was an absolute monster last season. Other highlights were Aaron Rodgers at the end of the 2nd round, and wrap-around picks of Travis Kelce and John Brown in the 7th/8th. Outside of that, there were some big reaches which is bound to happen when you’re picking at the end of a draft. Edelman at the top of the 3rd was probably the most egregious one, and that’ s coming from a Pats fan, but he came off the board before Brandin Cooks, Alshon Jeffrey and Emanuel Sanders. That one could come back to bite this guy in the ass. He did secure the rest of the old hot-box duo in LeGarrette Blount. So two of his top three running backs will be out week 1 for smoking weed together last season…well played sir…Official Grade: B-   Yahoo Grade:  B

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I’m sure Le’Veon is real happy they legalized weed since then

Team #2 – AP and the 2011 Pro Bowl Team

He got AP to start off his draft and came back with Andrew Luck in the 2nd round, so that’s certainly a hell of a foundation for a fantasy team. The other highlights were Jimmy Graham in the 3rd, T.J. Yeldon in the 6th and Devon Funchess in the 10th – which is great value for a guy who could turn into Cam’s top target. He seems to be a believer in the revitalized Muscle Hamster hype this preseason, and took Dougie to be his RB2. I don’t buy the hype because I’ve been burned by him too many times in the past, so I think that pick will be vital to this team’s success. From there, I think this dude either got bored or just forgot what year it was because he was taking guys who were studs 2 or 3 years ago: Steve Smith Sr., Victor Cruz, Reggie Bush and Stevie Johnson. I think they all have different levels of value, but I’m a big believer in stocking my bench with young, high-upside guys…and he decided to go a different route. Official Grade: B   Yahoo Grade:  B-

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Team #3 – WTF happened to QB??

Lacy in the 1st round was probably the highlight and in hindsight it started to go downhill from there. DeAndre Hopkins and Brandin Cooks at picks 2 and 3 have huge potential and upside…but if they don’t pan out, this team could be in serious trouble because of the gaping hole at QB. But I’ll get to that in a minute. Love the overall WR corps, with Jarvis Landry, Charles Johnson and Eddie Royal. I think people might have forgotten this was a 0.5 PPR league, because Hopkins, Cooks, Landry and Royal are all guys who could catch between 85-100 balls this season. This team also took a gamble on Arian Foster in the 7th round, which in a 12-team league I think is fair value given the upbeat reports coming out of Houston right now. The big, GIANT issue with this team is at QB. I love Teddy Bridge to take a leap in his 2nd season, but would not feel comfortable with him as my starter…this team will probably be hitting the trade market early looking to pry away a QB from one of the many teams that doubled up at the position (before he even drafted 1). For the record, this was MY team, and I want to throw myself into oncoming traffic for drafting Joseph Randle in the 4th…so FML; Official Grade: B   Yahoo Grade:  B

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That actually might have been an improvement on what I ended up with

Team #4 – What did I do to piss this guy off?

Now that you know I was picking 3rd, I’ll give some context as to why this bastard was a thorn in my side all night long. He took Marshawn Lynch in the 1st, fine…nothing to get upset about there. In the 2nd round, A.J. Green started to slide and I was hoping he’d make it to me…only to have him go right before my pick to THIS guy. Okay, no big deal. Then, in the 4th round I sat there watching as Melvin Gordon kept sliding…right into my lap I thought. Until THIS guy took him again one spot before me. Happened again with Chris Ivory in the 8th round…and the icing on the cake, he took Sam Bradford one pick before me in the 12th round when he already had Drew Brees on his roster and I desperately needed a QB. I’m going to look up a voodoo witch doctor in the yellow pages tomorrow morning to put a fucking hex on this guys’ team.

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Not saying that I ordered this…but not saying that I didn’t either

Now that I vented and got that off my chest, back to the actual analysis. Aside from him stealing 4 guys right out of my hands, he also made the poor decision of drafting Jason Witten one pick before I took Greg Olsen in the 6th round. That was a HUGE misfire, which prompted me to get on my soapbox and ask everyone if they ‘knew who Greg Olsen was’…what can I say, I enjoy my spot on my high horse. He also took Reggie Wayne in the 14th round, which is just laughable…but at least he knew it when he made the pick. Official Grade: A-  Yahoo Grade:  B+

Team #5 – Team Hipster

This guy was quiet all night – no trash talk. He just sat there in his skinny jeans and went about his business. He had some success early on – Jamaal Charles fell into his lap at #5 and he got great value on Alshon Jeffrey in the 3rd round. But he was yet another victim of drafting guys that used to be big names 3-4 years ago when they were in their prime. He took Larry Fitzgerald in the 6th and Marques Colston in the 8th. Not terrible value on either guy…but I believe both guys have their best football way in the rearview mirror. I think he’ll be cruising the waiver wire for better options in a few weeks, and will wish that he spent less time gelling his hair and more time preparing for the draft. Official Grade: C+  Yahoo Grade:  B

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Team #6 – Maybe two heads aren’t better than one

This team had two guys co-managing the team. The youngest, a newbie to our company, was supposed to be my assistant with the draft board and have absolutely zero input into the actual draft. All the guys agreed that having an extra brain with input was an unfair advantage. Alas, I decided to NOT be Roger Goodell and let it slide…after all, this is supposed to be fun, right? Anyway, their draft started out amazingly – they got Antonio Brown in the 1st and Jeremy Hill fell to them in the 2nd. Mark this down, I firmly believe that Jeremy Hill has the potential to finish as a top 5 running back this season. I thought they reached a little on Alfred Morris and Davante Adams in the next two rounds, but definitely hit the jackpot with Big Ben in the 6th round. That must have been all the knowledge crammed into those two heads though, because from there all they did was scoop up the Giants RBs and draft two mediocre tight ends (Owen Daniels and Zach Ertz). Official Grade: B+  Yahoo Grade:  B

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Team #7 – At least one team’s QB situation is worse than mine

Before I get into the dire straits that this squad was left in at the quarterback position, there were lots of positives. Julio Jones is the most explosive wide receiver in football in my opinion, and getting Matt Forte at pick #18 is just absurd. Did everyone forget that he caught over 100 passes last season? I don’t care if Marc Trestman is gone and Jay Cutler is still his quarterback, the dude is PPR gold. He then came back with Justin Forsett in the 3rd (who by the way is now playing in a Marc Trestman offense) and then C.J. Spiller and preseason superstar Ameer Abdullah in the 7th round. His running backs are absolutely stacked. Like, stacked more than Eric Decker’s wife…

I just wanted an excuse to throw her into the post
I just wanted an excuse to throw her into the post

The only negative, and it’s a BIG negative, is that he totally missed out on all of the QBs and got stuck with Andy Dalton. There’s no way to say this nicely…when your quarterback is a ginger, you know you’re totally fucked. At least he’s got enough depth at other positions that he should be able to swing a trade for a serviceable QB. Official Grade: B (would be an A- if not for Dalton)  (This guy also takes a hit to his credibility for asking in the 5th round, “Is Aaron Rodgers still available?”)  Yahoo Grade:  B-

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Team #8 – Fill-in guy/the Ringer

The real owner of this team couldn’t be at the draft, so we found him a fill-in. Unfortunately for all of us, we found him a fill-in with probably more fantasy football knowledge and experience than he actually possesses, so this couldn’t have worked out better for him. In reality, he made his own rankings and this guy was going off his sheet, so I have to give him some credit…but we’ve already decided this guy should be able to co-manage the team; that’s how well the draft went for them. C.J. Anderson in the 1st, which was immediately met by a loud “FUCK” from the guy picking 9th…Beckham in the 2nd, Jordan Matthews in the 4th, Latavius Murray in the 6th, Romo in the 7th and Martavis Bryant in the 8th round. He even grabbed Markus Wheaton in the 12th round. This team is just stacked, all across the board. I feel like this dude made a copy of my personal rankings when I got up to use the bathroom during the day, because he was reading my mind all night. He even took my “sleeper” at tight end, grabbing Tyler Eifert. I have nothing bad to say about this team; literally the only questionable move was picking my handcuff in James Starks, instead of their own for CJ Anderson (Ronnie Hillman). I wish it was my own so I could have come home tonight and done some serious roster-bating. Official Grade: A  Yahoo Grade:  B

Team #9 – This guy MIGHT have been drunk

I’ll start with the few positives that existed in this guys’ draft…DeMarco Murray in the 1st round was a reach in my opinion, but I can’t fault him too much for drafting last years’ rushing leader at #9 overall. Personally, I think he’s going to share touches with Matthews and Sproles – plus I don’t think he stays healthy all year after the absurd workload he had in 2014…but I digress. He took Cobb in the 2nd, who just sprained his AC joint on Saturday…but okay, I’m at least somewhat on-board through this point in the draft. 3rd round is where the wheels fell off the wagon….TODD GURLEY.

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Kid’s got plenty of talent, but is coming off an ACL injury and will be eased into things. I’ve already been threatened with a picture of his balls mailed to my house when Gurley runs for 1,800 yards and 17TDs…so lucky for me those are just absurd predictions. If Gurley turns into a legit RB1, then his team might be okay…but if not he’ll be in serious trouble because of these wonderful picks he made later in the draft: Montee Ball in the 8th (by the way he’s their 3rd stringer) and Julius Thomas in the 9th (who had hand surgery yesterday). Those beauties are definitely in the running for worst picks of the night. Official Grade: C  Yahoo Grade:  C

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Team #10 – Cam Newton always ruins the draft for someone

This guy was the one who brought us to the magical establishment that we drafted in, so maybe he was too worried about us not embarrassing him in front of his 80-year-old buddies to focus on the draft. He lost interest very quickly, and legitimately wanted to “check out and auto-draft”. He made some solid picks early with Shady McCoy, Megatron and Lamar Miller to start off his squad…but all of his hopes and dreams came crashing down when he drafted Cam Newton in the 6th round (well before Eli, Rivers and Tannehill). He then cursed himself for the next few rounds, repeatedly saying “I can’t believe I drafted Cam Newton”. At least he was smart enough to draft Eli in the 12th round, so he might as well cut Cam loose and chalk that up to a wasted draft pick. By the end he was drafting guys in the form of a question because he had no idea who the hell they were…but Perriman and Latimer might actually turn into something for him. Official Grade: B-  Yahoo Grade:  C+

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Team #11 – The Reacher

There’s always one in every draft…the guy who reaches. Well, here he is in our league. It started early and happened often. He reached so often that I was worried he was going to start giving reach-arounds to other guys in the draft room. Was that too far? I never know. Anyway, he took Dez in the 1st which was solid…but then the reaches started with T.Y. Hilton at 14 overall. That’s just insane – ahead of Megatron, Beckham, Cobb and AJ Green?? WTF were you smoking dude? Seriously…I want some, that must be good shit. He also took Peyton in the 4th, which was met with a loud chorus of BOOOOs from the all Patriot crowd (including the old guys playing pool behind us). He then took two back-ups as his RB2 and RB3 – Gio Bernard and Ryan Matthews, another RB who just suffered a concussion this weekend, and Danny Woodhead about 3 rounds before he should have come off the board. He better hope that Dez puts up 16 touchdowns again, because his only receivers outside of him and TY are Malcom Floyd (who one other owner thought was dead) and Kenny Stills. Maybe I should have gone over the roster positions one more time before we started (there are 3 starting WR spots dude). Official Grade: C  Yahoo Grade:  C  (This guy also takes home the prize for most attempted picks of guys taken 2 rounds previously)

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Team #12 – Save the worst for last…

I honestly had high hopes for this guys’ draft after he opened up with Demaryius Thomas and Gronk…and did so with a ton of confidence. But WOW did it unravel really quickly from there. I don’t even know where to start, but I can only assume that this guy developed a brain tumor in the 15 minutes between his second and third pick, because he went with Joique Bell at the end of the 3rd round. I know he was desperate for a running back in that spot, but taking a guy who hasn’t practice all preseason and who’s two backups have both looked explosive in preseason is well…just stupid.  S-T-O-O-P-I-D, stoopid!! As they say on Felger & Mazz. I wish I could say it got better from there, but it didn’t. The tumor must have grown because he took Torrey Smith in the 5th round and Bishop Sankey in the 7th (Brady was sandwiched between those picks).

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But the pick that takes the cake…in the 12th round he innocently asked if Fred Jackson was still on the board. To which another owner genuinely responded, “Yes he is, because he isn’t on an NFL roster right now”. We actually gave him the opportunity to pick someone else and he chose not to…instead drafting a 34-year-old running back who is currently unemployed. He also took his defense and kicker in the 10th and 11th rounds respectively…so I’ve just lost all respect for this guy. May God have mercy on his soul; Official Grade: D+  Yahoo Grade:  B (they must have gotten their weed from the same guy as team #11)

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10 Commandments for Fantasy Football

Training camps are underway and the Hall of Fame game tonight will kick-off the Preseason schedule. NFL football is finally close enough that you can taste the beer and smell those tailgates. Okay, to be fair that might just be your hangover from yesterday’s barbecue…but nonetheless it’s almost time for some football.

With that, I’ve started my divisional previews – in case you missed them I’ve gone through the NFC East and NFC West so far. Now, I want to shift gears to the topic occupying the second largest portion of every man’s daily thoughts (second to sex of course)…Fantasy Football. Right about now you’re trying to cleverly hide that ESPN Mock Draft you’re doing with an excel spreadsheet cued up on your second monitor at work. You’re checking the rankings, reading the training camp reports, doing whatever you can because…

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So I’m here to drop some knowledge bombs on you. This won’t be a post about my predictions for this upcoming season, draft strategies or tips for success. Not because I don’t have strong opinions on all of those topics, but because at this point probably half of my readership consists of people who might be in a fantasy league with me this season. So screw you guys, I’m not telling you squat! What this post will be is my 10 Commandments for fantasy football. 10 rules that every self-respecting man or woman should follow when participating in the pursuit of fantasy football glory.

1. Thou shall give thought to the actual league format:

You should take the time to think about the league and format you want to play in. Seems like a minor detail, but the format you’re playing in will make a huge difference in your draft strategy. Most people start out with the traditional “standard” scoring format, but I’d highly recommend a Points Per Reception (PPR) league once you get your feet wet. Makes the player pool a little deeper and adds a wrinkle to the draft. Unless you’re an infant, you shouldn’t be playing in a league with less than 10 teams. 10 or 12 are both legit – and once you’re feeling on top of the world…think about a Keeper league. Having that extra layer of building your team for the future in addition to that season makes it feel more important. No matter what the format is, just be sure to understand what you’re getting yourself into so you don’t look like an idiot at the draft. Which brings me to…

2. Thou shall not be a jamoke when Draft Day arrives:

Do the research and prepare for your draft. Don’t be the guy who shows up to the draft with nothing and then is asking if ‘anyone has an extra printout of the rankings’. Show up with rankings of your own and be prepared for the big day. Do your own research – know the rookies that could be late-round sleepers, know the offseason moves that impacted player values; do some mock drafts so that you’re ready for any situation that unfolds in your real draft. The point is, you do not want to be the jamoke who takes Randy Moss when he’s retired, or drafts Jhavid Best in the 4th round when he just got another concussion, or drafts a RB who just tore his ACL last week in a preseason game. Be the guy who calls him out and laughs in his face instead…it’s way more fun.

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Keep calm on draft day, even if things don’t go according to plan
3. Thou shall do the Draft the right way:

I know most people do their drafts online because it’s easy and convenient. I get it. Not saying that you’re wrong per se, but unless you’ve got a league where everyone is spread out across the country AND it’s impossible to plan a destination draft that everyone can make, well then you’re a bunch of pussies. Get together in person and make the draft what it really is…something you’ve all been waiting on for months. Get some food, some drinks, an actual draft board and have a live draft in person. If you’ve never done a live draft, I cannot begin to explain how much more enjoyable it is than sitting at your laptop making picks through ESPN or Yahoo.

Plan it for a weekend afternoon; block it off on the calendar and tell the wife way in advance. None of this garbage of drafting online on a weeknight after work. You’ve got the dog barking at you because it needs to go out and pee. Your wife is barking at you because one of the kids needs a bath. And meanwhile, you’re trying to figure out if you should wait one more round or whether you’ll miss the “run on tight-ends” as a friend of mine likes to say. That’s just not good enough; you deserve better and so does your fantasy team. So sack up, and draft in person where nobody can hide behind their laptops and ESPN rankings. Where everyone’s exposed to immediate public ridicule if they make a stupid pick (just as God intended it) and they can’t rely on autodraft to make their picks. Or as the best sports commentator once put it, “where we separate the men from the boys, and the awkwardly feminine from the possibly Canadian.”

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4. Thou shall be prepared to feel like an addict and hate thyself:

Fantasy football has an inexplicable impact on all of us. It gives us a reason to be interested in the worst games on the NFL schedule each week, because we now have a rooting interest in teams other than our own. It’ll get to the point that you’ll be watching a Jaguars – Titans game, screaming at the television as if you’ve got twenty grand riding on the outcome.   All because you need Bishop Sankey to do something, ANYTHING to get you the points you need for a win. It’s unavoidable, so frankly just accept it and learn to love it. At least you’re not an actual degenerate gambler who bet $20,000 on a Jaguars – Titans game, right? You didn’t, right?

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5. Thou shall say no to “Tinker Stinker” time:

We’ve all been burned by it before, and yet we will all inevitably do it again at some point…but try to avoid tinkering with your lineup. The longer you stare at that matchup your WR1 has vs Darrelle Revis and the Jets, the more you’re going to want to replace him with that ‘boom-or-bust’ receiver on your bench going against a friendlier defense. In the end, nothing good comes from tinkering because you will always choose wrong and kick yourself for it later. A friend of mine has this affliction, so we’ll call this the “Buddy Curse”. He could hold a filibuster recounting all the times his tinkering backfired on him. So don’t be “Buddy”. Stick with your gut and resist the temptation to grab that iPad before you go drop a deuce at 12:30pm on Sunday afternoon.

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6. Thou shall be creative with your team name:

Don’t be lame…take the opportunity and come up with a creative team name that you can be proud of and that will hopefully give your league at least a chuckle.  I’ll pick on “Buddy” again. Don’t name your team something lame like “Buddy’s All-Stars”. This isn’t middle school. You can do better than that. So take some time and put actual thought into your team name. Something that has meaning to you and your leaguemates is always good, or you can’t go wrong with a name that’s absurd and hilarious. The point is, have fun with it.  Some of my personal favorites from past seasons (and from The League):

  1.  Miley’s Side Boobs
  2.  Fear Boner
  3.  Pete Top Kevin Bottom (customized to people in your league of course)
  4.  Discount Belichick
  5.  You Sankeyed my Battleship
  6.  My Ball Zach Ertz
  7.  2 Mannings 1 Cup
7. Thou shall not be a slime ball:

We’re all in it to win it, but have some morals while you do it. Don’t get this confused with my commandment below – getting the best of someone in a trade doesn’t make you a slime ball. You know the difference. Want to add a player that you don’t really need because your opponent this week has a glaring need at that position and is just below you in waiver priority…nothing wrong with that. That’s just good strategy and I commend you for it. I’m trying to draw a clean and clear distinction between that and the classless acts that I’m referring to with this commandment.

What I’m talking about it is obvious ‘roster-churning’. Don’t add/drop every team defense on Sunday morning so that the rest of the league can’t pick any up before kick-off. If you come to a verbal trade agreement with another owner, don’t back out because you got a better offer from someone else or because the guy you’re acquiring just pulled his hammy in practice. You made a deal – be a man of your word and stick to it. You get the idea…don’t do anything that you’d be embarrassed to tell your mom about later.

8. Thou shall not veto a trade just because it makes your opponent better:

This is probably my biggest pet peeve. When your fellow owners reach a trade agreement, don’t use that little ‘Veto’ button – or ‘Vote against the trade’ – or ‘Contact the Commissioner’ just because you’re pissy that one of your competitors just acquired the missing link to their team. That’s a coward’s way out. To be fair, I hate the trade veto in almost every situation. Short of obvious and blatant collusion between two owners, a trade is a trade. Your opinion on the perceived value that each owner is getting from their end of the deal DOESN’T MATTER. IT’S NOT YOUR TEAM, IT’S THEIRS!!! Think they could get a lot more for that running back? Not your place to decide. Unless your buddy was literally trade raped because your other friend slipped him a roofie, stay out of it and worry about your own team. They’re both consenting adults and they made an agreement; they’ll have to live with the consequences – good or bad.

Which also brings me to another point…even if the trade isn’t fair and one team is obviously getting the better side, THAT’S PART OF THE GAME. Being able to wheel and deal and take advantage of other owners is part of the strategy of this glorious game. So don’t be mad that ‘Joe’ beat you to the punch and got the best of “doesn’t know any better Timmy”. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. If you can’t resist the urge to vote against those trades, then maybe you should try Fantasy Golf…I hear the etiquette may be more to your liking, you pansy.

9. Thou shall have fun, but talk lots of shit while you do it:

I get that at the end of the day this is a game and it’s meant to be fun, yadda, yadda. I understand, but respectfully think that fantasy football isn’t nearly as much fun if your league isn’t active in the trash-talking department. Listen, most fantasy football leagues are playing for money so the cash on the line is a great incentive. Even better motivation to win is laying a pounding on your co-worker so that you can show up on Tuesday morning with a huge grin like…

U mad bro

Yes it’s a game, and yes you should have fun no matter what happens. But trust me, it’s WAY more fun to win if you’ve been trading garbs with your friends all season and then that WR that he gave you shit for being a “huge reach” on draft day, goes off for 2 TDs against him. That’s just sweet poetic justice, and being able to rub it in his face will make that W so much sweeter. So have fun, but don’t be afraid to talk some smack all season. Think your buddy made a terrible trade, let him have it! Think you’re going to steam-roll your opponent this week…light up that discussion board! Always keep in mind certain untouchables (like wives and mothers) but otherwise everything is fair game. Believe me when I say that everyone in the league will enjoy it more with some healthy trash talk.

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Okay, that might be too far
10. Thou shall follow through on your commitment:

If you’ve played fantasy football for long enough, we’ve all had a season (plural for some poor souls) where everything goes wrong. Your stud RB goes down week 1…or decides to use a switch to discipline his kid…and suddenly your hopes of glory are dashed. It happens to the best of us. You’re 0-5 with no sign of hope and know that your season is lost. But here’s where my commandment comes into play. Follow through and finish what you started. Because you know what’s worse than having no chance at the playoffs, and knowing as much with several weeks left to go in your season? Being a COWARD and throwing in the towel. We’ve all been in leagues where THAT guy gives up and stops checking his team. He’s starting guys on their bye weeks, guys that are injured, and meanwhile your competition is picking up easy wins against him week after week because he didn’t have enough self-respect to man up and follow through. Don’t be THAT guy.

Personally, I just don’t get it – I’m not wired that way. Because even if I’m out of it, I have enough pride that I still want to destroy my opponent each week and play the role of spoiler as my buddies try to make the playoffs themselves. That’s why I love keeper leagues AND why I’m a huge fan of punishing the last-place finisher with some form of public humiliation. Keeper leagues give actual meaning to the phrase “there’s always next year”, because you can actually start planning for next year before your 2016 draft day. And if the owners in your league don’t have my level of personal pride, well then punishments like these for finishing in the basement should do the trick…

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Pretty ruthless, but I’d be HONKING for sure