Hey, welcome back! To those who skipped last week’s rant, thanks for coming back. To those read it and commented, thank you for not engaging in homophobic name-calling. And for those who DID engage in homophobic name-calling, thank you for your feedback. I hope you and your lover make each other very happy. (Kidding! I’m kidding. I actually hope you’re miserable.)
Okay, back to the point of this whole thing:
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH
FANTASY GAME OF THE WEEK: STONER VS ROBBIE
As I’ve often written, the two times per year that Stoner and Robbie meet in fantasy football is less a game and more a fistfight wrapped in a car crash covered in a blood sacrifice with a view of a holocaust. (Sort of like a violence turducken.) This was no different in terms of the invective leading up to the game and following it, but the game itself was one for the weird record books. Nobody–and I mean pretty much nobody–had a good week this week. This was particularly true of Robbie, who started the Zombie Corpse of Peyton Manning, the useless-without-Tony-Romo stylings of Jason Witten and A.J. Green, who like the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals offense, spent Monday night reading Goethe on the crapper. On the other hand, Stoner, who’s brought the Belichickian philosophy of winning with mostly crappy players to fantasy football, could not be stopped. If Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil for his guitar talent, I don’t even want to think who Stoner made a deal with to produce these results. Cam Newton and Robbie Gould? Sure, they generally get it done. But Brandin Cooks? On a week when Drew Brees was apparently getting his prostate examined during the game, Cooks managed to catch two TDs. The Buffalo Bills defense, who heretofore had gotten their best results putting pins in a Rex Ryan voodoo doll, when nuts. Ronnie Hillman scored a TD. Antonio Brown was insane. By the end of the afternoon, Robbie was sending me drunken texts questioning the sexual practices of Stoner’s family and wondering who put the horseshoe up Stoner’s ass. I was at a loss to give him an answer. In fact, I let it go unsaid that, unless they meet in the playoffs, the season sweep gives Stoner bragging rights for the next year. Let the fistfights begin!
FANTASY PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Adrian Peterson
Peterson ran wild on Sunday, gaining over 200 yards and scoring two TDs. For the second week, he defended the Best Running Back in Football title belt against an upstart challenger (in this case, Latavius Murray.) In fact, he beat that Raiders defense like one of his own kids. (I’m sorry, I just did that to irritate Robbie. Been a bad week for the guy. And he deserves it.)
NOSTRADAMUS AWARD: Me
A few weeks back, I pooh-poohed the notion that the Denver Broncos had drawn up the blueprint for stopping Aaron Rodgers, saying they were the only defense in the league with the personnel to pull that off. In my defense (pardon whatever pun is there), I was willing (though I didn’t state it) to consider the possibility that the Carolina Panthers also fit the bill. So I wasn’t entirely bothered when they kept Rodgers in check for about three quarters last week. However, I was not, under any circumstances, willing to put the Detroit Lions in that category. And yet there they were, causing Rodgers to spend three hours stumbling around like an extra in a State Farm commercial. I’m willing to entertain the possibility that the Broncos really DID provide the blueprint for stopping Rodgers. But that would mean Rodgers would immediately catch fire and lead the Packers to a Super Bowl title, winning himself the MVP award in the process. Come to think of it, though, that would really get Robbie’s goat, because it would mean the Vikings would be Rodgers’ first victims. In that case, I’m saying the Broncos clearly drew up the blueprint for neutralizing Aaron Rodgers. You’ll never hear from him again. (You’re welcome, Robbie!)
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK: Ian Fisher
Fisher, a columnist for ESPN.com, got his undies in a bunch when Rex Ryan sent out IK Enemkpali, released earlier this year by the Jets for breaking QB Geno Smith’s face, to be one of the Bills’ captains for Thursday’s Jets-Bills game. Ryan’s bit of gamesmanship may have been in poor taste, but Fisher seems convinced it was the sort of thing that makes the Baby Jesus cry. I can see Fisher’s point that Ryan was being an agitator (a fair cop) at a time when the NFL is dealing with domestic violence issues (again fair, but I would argue that comparing one grown punching another to a grown man nearly killing a woman half his size is a bit of a stretch.) Fisher lost me, though, when said Commissioner Roger Goodell should have stepped in to prevent Ryan’s actions. Dealing with domestic violence by telling coaches who they can and can’t send out for the coin toss is EXACTLY the kind of misplaced overreach the commissioner is habitually accused of (because he’s habitually guilty of it.) Clearly, the NFL has a serious issue on its hands when it comes to domestic violence. But it won’t be solved by engaging in the kind of knucklehead stuff Fisher is advocating. Just let Rex be Rex (i.e. an a**hole) and move on.
TRADE OF THE YEAR: Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford
During this league’s first season, I experimented with outlawing trades. This was because I had never seen a fantasy trade that worked out for both sides. It was usually one owner fleecing another or, in a worst case scenario, two owners cutting an under-the-table deal that gave one a better chance to win the league in exchange for a pay-off-to-be-named-later. I received enough blowback to scrap the rule for the next season. But if the Rams and Eagles are any indication, Roger Goodell may want to consider it.
The two clubs decided to swap mediocre QBs this past spring. So far, Foles has a 56 percent completion rate, nearly as many picks (6) as TDs (7) and a passer rating lower than my buddy Mike’s average grade in college English. Bradford has a slightly higher completion rate and passer rating. But he’s also a guy who could tear a quad muscle while eating chips and dip, a point he proved again on Sunday, suffering both a concussion and a left shoulder injury. This, I’m assuming, is what happens when two teams debate a trade while thinking, “I can’t believe they actually WANT this guy.” I guess if there’s a bright side, it’s that both coaches have job security. Eagles coach Chip Kelly was essentially made dictator for life for the whole city of Philadelphia and Rams coach Jeff Fisher (who’s produced 6 winning seasons in 21 years as a head coach) is a living example of the Peter Principle. But hey, it’s not like one fan base has been hopelessly tortured for more than five decades and the other has an owner that’s mentally redecorating Los Angeles. So there’s that…
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart, (soon to be ONCE AGAIN, the funniest man on TV) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: The best week of football so far.
This week’s booze and football gathering was at Carol’s place, which means the food was great and the decor made all of us uncomfortable. By the end of the day, though, even Mike and I were clutching frilly throw pillows as we watched the action. To whit:
-The Lions did their level best to give away their game against Green Bay, even blowing an onside kick, only to see their incompetence undone by the work of Mason Crosby. A 52 yard field goal isn’t a gimme and Crosby underscored that by badly shanking the attempt as time expired.
-The Buccaneers and the Cowboys faced off in the Incompetence Bowl. Jameis Winston managed to fumble away a QB sneak in the final minute, but the Cowboys rescued him with a defensive holding call. Given a second chance, Winston scored, giving the Bucs the win and touching off another round of nationwide schadenfreude at the Cowboys expense.
-Sam Bradford was injured early in the Eagles- Dolphins game, but don’t worry Eagles fans, Mark Sanchez is coming off the bench. That’s like going from the frying pan to the fourth ring of hell. The Dolphins managed to not lose, coming from behind late and holding off an Eagles rally. It should be noted that this had less to do with the Dolphins winning and more to do with the Eagles being the NFL equivalent of Michael Scott from The Office.
-Ravens LB Elvis Dumervill delivered a facemask penalty on what should have been the final game of Baltimore’s tilt against the Jaguars. The Jags got an untimed down, which they used to hit a 53 yard field goal for the win. Ravens coach John Harbaugh supported Dumervill after the game and wished him luck starting his car.
-The Patriots and the Giants went back and forth in the best NFL game of the year so far. The Patriots are generally the better team, but are breaking down faster than the Dodge Omni my father gave me for my 17th birthday. And the Giants are now and have always been the Patriots’ brand of kryptonite. The Pats managed to pull out the win on a 54 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal as time nearly expired. No confirmation that Tom Brady’s willing to settle the whole Deflategate thing if Goodell can guarantee he’ll face only PEYTON Manning from now on.
-The Arizona Cardinals raced out to leads of 19-0 and 22-7 only to have QB Carson Palmer almost literally give the game away. Palmer’s two fumbles both resulted in late touchdowns, allowing the Seahawks to take the lead. Palmer then found his inner 2005-Carson-Palmer and lead the Cardinals on a pair of game-clinching 80 yard TD drives. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have added another to their growing collection of “what the hell happened?” losses.
Seriously, if the NFL can keep producing weeks like this, they might be able to make some real money…
Peyton’s Heroes (Carol) 8-2
Chuck (Chuck) 6-4
The Winter Soldiers (Mike) 5-5
The Rat Pack (Me) 5-5
The Sex Machine (Lars) 4-6
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 7-3
Deflated Balls (Robbie) 5-5
Favre’s Dong (Jack) 5-5
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 4-6
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 2-8