Fantasy Football

Mega NFL Kickoff

The NFL is finally back! Celebrate good times people. Each week on the Millennial Man we’ll be giving our thoughts on the season, both fantasy and reality. Including games to bet on, fantasy studs and duds, game winners, and funniest moments of the week.

Let’s kick things off with a little free advice, never do two fantasy football drafts in the same night. It is too much, a fantasy overload. I learned this the hard way last night as my attempt to defend two titles against college buddies and west coast league got off to a rocky start. Both are keeper leagues, but one is an auction draft and the other is a snake. My preparation for the two slacked off in the last week or so and it showed come draft time.

The auction draft was first and I committed the ultimate auction sin of being timid. Agressiveness pays in auction drafts, especially in keeper leagues when so many top players are off the board. I like to save my money for the end to scoop up all the sleepers I’m high on, but I had so much money left that I ended up overbidding on them and thus damaging their keeper value.

After the exhausting auction draft, which includes video chatting with everyone throughout the draft, it was a short turnaround to gear up for my west coast league. Since I kept my first and second round picks and traded my third round pick I did not draft in the first three rounds. For the first time in my career I decided to make a Big Board pre-draft, Mel Kiper style, which backfired on me in a big way. First off, I was tired and loopy from the beers I consumed in my first draft and couldn’t keep up with the players that were selected, so when it came time to my pick the guy next up on my board turned out to not be available. This lead to a lot of panicked, last second picks and in the end a very shitty draft. It is a long season and the draft is just one part of the championship equation, but projecting out the season it appears that my college buddies’ league will get far more of my attention. Just look at the two rosters.

College League                                                                  West Coast League                                                    

QB: Russel Wilson                                                                   QB: Jay Cutler

RB1: Shady McCoy                                                                   RB1: Matt Forte

RB2: Zac Stacy                                                                          RB2: Stevan Ridley

WR1: Alshon Jeffery                                                                WR1: Calvin Johnson

WR2: Larry Fitzgerald                                                             WR2: Anquan Boldin

TE: Jordan Cameron                                                                TE: Julius Thomas

W/T: Coradelle Patterson                                                       W/T: Justin Hunter

Flex: Rashard Jennings                                                           Flex: Kenbrell Thompkins

D: Browns                                                                                    D: Browns

K: Who gives a fuck                                                                    K: Who Gives A Fuck 2, Electric Boogaloo

BE: Justin Hunter, Brandin Cooks,                                        BE: Russel Wilson, Lamar Miller,

Ryan Tannehill, Kyle Rudolph                                                  Andre Williams, Christine Michael,

Tavon Austin

Sleeper Fantasy Studs

  • Justin Hunter/Coradelle Patterson – One, if not both, are this year’s Alshon Jeffery breakout receiver. They are both physically dominant freaks that can both run past and jump over defenders. They both also received the gifts of new offensive schemes from proven, successful offensive minds. Ken Whisehunt is a good coach whose undoing in Arizona came down to the inability of the front office to find a quarterback. The Titans is my pick to win the AFC South this year. I like what they have on offense. Everyone seemed down on them sticking with Jake Locker, but before he got hurt he was having a hell of a season. Whisehunt’s ground game expertise combined with Kendall Wright on the other side should provide a lot of big play opportunities for Hunter. As for Patterson, he gets the best deep route schemer in the NFL in an offense that will face a lot of loaded boxes. Yes, having either Matt Cassel or a rookie throw him the ball is a bit concerning, but Turner knows how to use speedy receivers like him in his offense.
  • Russell Wilson – The ultimate game manager, not anymore. This is the year Wilson takes the leap and becomes a playmaker in this offense. Marshawn Lynch is getting older and despite losing Golden Tate, the Seahawks receiving core is the most underrated in the NFL. There is a slight stipulation of getting a mostly healthy year out of Percy Harvin, but either way except Wilson to carry more of the load this year. 3,842 yards, 65.4%, 33 TDs, 12 INT, 7 rushing TDs 
  • Tom Brady – Father time may be undefeated, but he’ll have to wait on defeating Touchdown Tommy for at least another year. Manning vs Brady, the best individual rivalry in football over the last decade plus. Brady is stewing after seeing what Manning did last year and will be determined to match him. While 55 TDs are out of the question, he will have a big year regardless if Gronk stays healthy or not. All his young receivers will be improved this season and the depth at that position as well as running back will give him a lot of fresh options. 4,767 yards,  64.6%, 38 TDs, 10 INTs
  • Carlos Hyde – Every season a rookie running back breaks out into a top 10 fantasy back. Figuring out whom that back will be is a tricky task, but I’ve got my finger on Hyde. He’s on a team that knows how to run the ball, played college ball with a mobile quarterback, and has a veteran back in front of him. Hyde may carry on a new tradition of 49er running backs.

NFL Division Predictions

AFC North 

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) – The Steelers finished strong last year and if it wasn’t for a Kansas City missed field goal that allowed the Chargers to make the playoffs they would’ve been a scary wild card team. The days of the Steel Curtain D are long gone, but the offense is going to be a juggernaut that will be enough to carry them in a weak division in the weaker conference.

2. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) – The Bengals received a lot of criticism for the contract extension they gave Andy Dalton. Count me as a Red Rifle supporter still. In our ADD generation we expect instant results, but forget that it takes failure to find success. MJ had to get through the Pistons before rattling off six straight titles. Plus, just look at the eerily similar numbers for Dalton and Peyton Manning thru three seasons. 

3. Baltimore Ravens (8-8) – Big Dick Joe comeback season falls just short. The Ravens have a lot of distractions, but the one positive from this is that it is distracting people from the lack of talent.

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12) – Better luck next year Johnny Clipboard.

AFC East

1. New England (11-5) – Death, taxes, and the Patriots winning the AFC East.

2. Miami Dolphins (8-8) – The new high octane offense will take a little getting used to, but it could yield some very positive results. I fluctuated between 10-6 and 6-10, so just decided to split the difference. But Ryan Tannehill will have a breakout season and pass RG3 in his QB class.

3. New York Jets (7-9) – Rex Ryan has entered the Lovie Smith Zone. His players love him so much that they try hard every game and it is impossible for them to bottom out, even though management probably desperately wants to.

4. Buffalo Bills (3-13) – Poor Buffalo. This season has disaster written all over it and even worse Jameis Winston will most likely stay another season at Florida State in order to play baseball.

AFC South 

1. Tennessee Titans (10-6) – As mentioned above, I love this Titans team. A sneaky offensive juggernaut and an upper half defense this shitty division is theirs for the taking.

2. Indianapolis Colts (9-7) – The team should change its name to Andrew Luck cause he is the team. It feels like the front office from the 2004-2010 Cleveland Caviliers has infiltrated the Colts and left the playbook for making life as hard as possible on a dominant star athlete.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10) – A year away, but this team is on the rise and whenever they finally give the reigns to Blake Bortles it will be a threat to win this division.

4. Houston Texans (5-11) – I just don’t buy in to Bill O’Brien. He’s going to ruin this team and what could be a dominant defense.

AFC West 

1. San Diego Chargers (11-5) – I am very high on the Chargers. Phillip Rivers is an elite quarterback when healthy and given time in the pocket. Mike McCoy has helped out with both by using shorter routes and getting the ball out of Rivers hands quickly. The return of Malcolm Floyd bolsters a receiving core that already includes Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown, Antonio Gates, and Ladarius Green.

2. Denver Broncos (11-5) – A difficult schedule combined with some regression from the best offensive season in NFL history will knock the Broncos down at least two wins this season and losing a tie-breaker with the Chargers will put them in Wild Card weekend.

3. Kansas City (6-10) – The fact that everyone and their mother is picking the Chiefs to regress in a big way almost scares me into thinking they’ll stay where they are, but a much harder schedule and thinner talent pool means that it is destined to drop.

4. Oakland Radiers (4-10) – The Raiders were my pick for the worst record in the league until it announced Derek Carr as its Week 1 starter. A bag of balls or even Jake Delhomme would be upgrades over Matt Schaub, but Carr has flashed some real potential. However, playing the NFC West means it will be a struggle regardless.

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) – The streak is over, a team finally repeats as NFC East Champs. I believe in Chip Kelly, he just seems destined to become the new Belichick and be the smartest guy in any room.

2. New York Giants (8-8) – Tom Coughlin will not let this team bottom out.

3. Washington Redskins (6-10) – The RG3 vs Kirk Cousins debate will heat up this year and after a disastrous start to the season Cousins will eventually win this starting job, going 5-3 and giving fans some false hope for next season.

4. Dallas Cowboys (4-12) – This feels like the season. The season when the wheels finally fall off the Dallas Cowboys and 8-8 suddenly looks good to them.

NFC South 

1. New Orleans Saints (12-4) – The offense is re-loaded with some young, speedy receivers that Sean Payton will be sure to put to good use. Rob Ryan’s aggressive defense will do enough to let the offense outscore opponents.

2. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) – A healthy Julio Jones is good for two or three wins on his own, but after watching Hard Knocks it is impossible for me to pick this team to return to playoff glory.

3. Carolina Panthers (6-10) – Riverboat Ron suffers a setback as karma for reverting to his true conservative self in the playoff game agains the Niners last year. Tisk, tisk Riverboat Ron.

4. Tampa Bay Bucs (5-11) – A trendy pick by many experts that makes zero sense to me. Josh McCown was a product of Marc Trestman’s QB friendly system last year and will not be nearly as effective this season. Lovie’s defense is out of date. This team will struggle.

NFC West 

1. Seattle Seahawks (13-3) – It seems like every expert has said the same thing, “I want to pick the Seahawks, but team’s struggle to repeat.” What a dumb excuse to bet against this juggernaut on the verge of a dominant dynasty. They lost so few key pieces and have watched the teams in its division disintegrate due to injury or suspensions.

2. San Francisco (9-7) – For awhile I felt that this team was due for a disastrous season that saw it miss the playoffs for the first time in the Jim Harbaugh era, but then I thought some more and realized there is no way Harbaugh would let that happen. They will be 3-6 and he’ll rally the troops and rattle off 6 wins in the final 7 games to make the playoffs.

3. St. Louis Rams (8-8) – The team I wanted to replace the Niners with as it will have a much better defense this year. But the offense is a huge question mark. Can Zac Stacy repeat his rookie year? Do any of these speedy receivers have the discipline to run good routes? Can Shaun Hill lead this – wait what the fuck? Shaun Hill is still in the league? And he is starting for the Rams? My God this team is doomed.

4. Arizona Cardinals (7-9) – Carson Palmer staying healthy for an entire season seems impossible from here. Andre Ellington is explosive, but can he handle 20+ touches every game? This team has a lot of question marks as well and not as good of a defense as the Rams.

NFC North 

1. Green Bay Packers (11-5) – As much as it pains me to pick them, I have to go with my brain over my gut. Aaron Rodgers has been an elite QB without ever having much of a running game. This year he has one and there is no telling how good that will make him.

2. Chicago Bears (9-7) – My mind has done more loops than a roller coaster trying to predict how the Bears season will go. It has ranged from winning the division, earning a bye, and losing a hard fought NFC Championship in Seattle to falling apart, going 4-12, and having to start from scratch. Ultimately, as I tend to do, my pick falls in the middle. It was 8-8 for awhile as I’m worried we’re the new Dallas Cowboys, but I believe in Trestman and Cutler to find a way to get one more win and make the playoffs.

3. Detroit Lions (7-9) – The Lions have made some nice moves to bolster the offense, but have ignored a defense that will be on the same level as the Bears. Detroit and Chicago have eerily similar teams, but I trust Stafford and Jim Caldwell much less.

4. Minnesota Vikings (6-10) – A feisty team that will lose a lot of close games in a tough conference. The Vikings are on the rise, but they need to hope it happens quickly before Father Time finally catches up to Adrian Peterson.

Playoffs

AFC Byes: 1. Patriots 2. Chargers

Wild Card Weekend: 

3. Titans over 6. Bengals – The angry mob against Andy Dalton continues to grow as he loses his fourth straight playoff game.

5. Broncos over 4. Steelers – A classic matchup comes down to the wire and Peyton adds to his brilliant resume as he makes the plays that Big Ben can’t down the stretch.

Divisional Round: 

2. Chargers over 3. Tennessee – Jake Locker magic finally runs out as Phillip Rivers grows determined to add a Lombardi to his trophy case.

1. Patriots over 5. Broncos – Touchdown Tommy gets his revenge and proves his superiority over Manning once again. A devastated Peyton is left to stew and consider retirement.

Championship Weekend: 

2. Chargers over Patriots – In a stunning upset, the clean trash talking QB shocks Belichick and Touchdown Tommy on their home field to reach his first Super Bowl.

NFC Byes: 1. Seahawks 2. Saints

Wild Card Weekend

3. Eagles over 6. Niners – Chip Kelly gets some revenge for Oregon as he defeats Harbaugh in the best Wild Card Weekend game ever.

5. Bears over 4. Packers – Cutler finally gets one over on Rodgers. It doesn’t make up for the 2011 Conference Championship game, but it still feels good none the less.

Divisional Round

1. Seahawks over 5. Bears – Anyone that watched the pre-season game between these two knows the gap is too far to close by the time January rolls around. Bears make it competitive for a 2.5 quarters before the Seahawks pull away.

3. Eagles over 2. Saints – Kelly avenges last season’s playoff loss in what will be far from the last matchup between these two offensive masterminds.

Conference Championship

1. Seahawks over 3. Eagles – The Seahawks are too damn good at home for anyone to have a chance.

Super Bowl:

Seahawks over Chargers – Again, the prevailing logic behind no picking the Seahawks is that teams don’t repeat, which is true of most teams, but it has only been 10 years since the Patriots repeated and no team since has come close to matching Belichick and Brady, till now. The Seahawks are the next great dynasty and will seal it by repeating.

 

 

Pick Five Against the Spread

Each week Billy and I will be picking five games against the spread and keeping track of our records. The winner seizes control of Millennial Man, while the loser is forced to wear a baby bonnet till football season returns. Here’s my picks this week, winners in bold.

Seahawks (-6) over Green Bay – The Seahawks at home at night are money. They blow people out and are determined to get the title defense off to a rousing start.

Jets (-5.5) over Raiders – Two betting corollaries in this one. Rex Ryan against a rookie QB making his first start and a west coast team traveling across the country for a 10am PT kickoff.

Bears (-7) over Bills – The Bills are a disaster and the Bears dominate on home openers. The last time they lost was in 2008 and they covered the spread in all of those wins.

Vikings (+3.5) over Rams – Mike Zimmer will want to make a statement in this game. It will be a hard fought, defensive battle and that half a point makes a huge difference.

Dolphins (+5) over Patriots – The Dolphins play the Pats tough at home and with the Gronk’s status still up in the air I’ll take the Dolphins and the points.

 

 

 

 

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The Ultimate Fall Fantasy

Football is America’s most popular sport for two reasons, gambling and fantasy sports. Each are billion dollar industries on their own and have devout followers. Gambling is an American past time and football is the sport best set up for gambling. There is a week between games to do research, the lines are easier to set, and there is an incredible amount of prop bets on which to throw money away.fooootball-gambling

Fantasy sports is America’s newest obsession. It combines the illusion of being a GM with the thrill of gambling, an equation that explains its huge impact on the culture. Football is the most exciting fantasy sport. Again, the week between games creates great anticipation and plenty of time to research whom to pick up on the waiver wire, as well as whom to sit or start that week. Plus all the games, with two exceptions, are played on Sundays, a day most people have off, which means everyone in the league is watching. This makes it easy to talk shit to one’s opponent as Antonio Brown catches his second touchdown over 50 yards leading to a 40 point fantasy week and total domination.

I’ve played fantasy football since 2006, a year in which I rode the Colts offense to fantasy glory with Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Reggie Wayne all staring on “ManBearPig’s” road to fantasy glory. I chased that glorious first season and failed to come even close to matching it for the next five years, including the embarrassing 2009 season where I finished 9th out of 10 and I failed to have a receiver or tight end catch a touchdown. Then came the heartbreaking 2012 season where in two leagues I finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. The second place finish involved losing by 0.5 in the championship game thanks to a Miles Austin 19-yard touchdown catch with less than a minute to go. While the third place loss saw me turn around a 4-5 team to win my last five games, scoring the most points in the league each week, on the backs of Tony Romo to Dez Bryant only to lose in the semi-finals on the only week of the final seven that I did not score the most points in the league.

This is illustrates what I did to my opponents last year.

This is illustrates what I did to my opponents last year.

The devastating finish to the 2012 season served as the fire to mold the Iron Throne I built in the greatest Fantasy season of my life. Two Fantasy Football Championships in one season, easily on my Mt. Rushmore of life accomplishments. Better than winning the two championships was the way in which I did it, total domination. My teams were untouchable juggernauts that destroyed and embarrassed other teams like Brock Lesnar did to John Cena at Summerslam. Each Sunday felt like Christmas as I woke up with a smile on my face ready to conquer another pathetic fantasy opponent.

I finished the regular season with the most points in each league, a triumphant feat that was begging to end in disappointment. The playoffs were a nerve racking time as the sting from last season’s bitter defeats was still fresh. However, outside of a narrow seven point win in the semifinals of my Yahoo league, the domination from the regular season carried over to the playoffs.

The only downside to the glory of last Fall is that it will be impossible to ever top. It is hard to get motivated for another season of Fantasy Football after reaching the pantheon of the sport. The memories of last year will stay with me forever, but the determination that made me so great may never return. It is too hard to manufacture.

However, I have no choice, but to keep playing, keep chasing he impossible. As another season is upon us, it is up to me to dig deep and re-discover that fire. It may never lead to the euphoric place of the Fall of 2013, but there is a pleasure in trying. Here are a few fantasy tips to help reach that magical place.

  • Embrace Luck – As Woody Allen wrote in Match Point, “People are afraid to face how big a part is dependent on luck.” Nowhere does this phrase fit better than Fantasy Football. A person can research for months, watch the combine, scout rookie’s college tape, tinker with a formula, but in the end the biggest factor in success is luck. Luck in avoiding major injury, luck in the schedule, luck in finding this year’s breakout player, etc. The lie between wins and losses is drawn almost completely by luck, just think about that while listening to the 100th different Season Preview Podcast.
Thanks, Linds!

Thanks, Linds!

  • Know the League’s Scoring Settings – This is an overlooked aspect in preparation. Most leagues follow generic scoring guidelines, but a few have its own scoring quirks. Is it PPR, point per reception, league or a half a point per reception? Then receivers become more valuable and pass catching running backs as well.
    • What are the defensive stats? How much are sacks worth? Defense is often ignored till the later rounds, but in some leagues they are more valuable than others. Sacks might be worth two points in some leagues or defensive bonuses, like shutouts or holding a team under 300 yards of offense may be worth a lot of points. In these instances, the top few defenses become immensely important as they may be able to drop 30+ points on any given week.

      This is a running back that knows how to catch.

      This is a running back that knows how to catch.

  • Rate Pass Catching Running Backs Higher – This is an obvious rule in PPR leagues, but it should be standard regardless. The NFL is becoming a passing league, which is eliminating the workhorse back that carries the ball over 20 times a game. Only Adrian Peterson truly fits this mold. Instead coach’s prefer to throw the ball to their backs to get them easy touches out in space. A good route running, pass catching back will be on the field more often and be more likely to get over 20 touches a game, then a power back that just runs the ball.
  • Quality over Quantity – Targets is a fantasy football buzzword. Each week during the season waiver wire articles will try to convince readers to pick up a receiver, tight end, or running back based on the number of targets, passes thrown to them, from the previous week. Most of these players will be top skill players on shitty offenses where they are the only skillful option. It is great that Andre Johnson will be thrown at 14 times a game, but when those throws are coming from Ryan Fitzpatrick, only seven of them will be catchable and only two of them will be over 10 yards. It is much better to own the third option on a top offense with a great quarterback like the Broncos, Saints, or Patriots. Six or seven targets from Peyton Manning or Drew Brees is better than 14 from Ryan Fitzpatrick or Brian Hoyer.
  • Stockpile A Position in Auction Drafts – An auction draft is where a person nominates a player for auction than every team bids on him till the highest bid wins. This means that every player is available to every team. A secret to use in these drafts is to load your bench with one position. It doesn’t matter which one, preferably whichever is cheapest, but I prefer to focus on wide receiver because I feel most confident in my evaluation of them. The reason to do this is to have trade bait. Every year injuries occur and someone will be desperate to fill a thin position. When this happens you need to have the assets to make a trade for a top player at a different position. The reason this is important is the next rule…
  • Always Make a Trade – A common mistake is fallen in love with a roster. It is easy to do since everyone wants to be the draft day wizard that came away with the perfect team. The problem is that rarely happens and a trade is necessary to strengthen the team. Last year I made one big trade in each league that helped me secure the championship. One was trading high on Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, as well as pass catching RB Pierre Thomas for Demarco Murray, Vernon Davis, and Zac Stacy.
    • The reason I did this was one to protect myself against a bad week from the Bronocs, as it turned out this never happened, but also because I was already loaded at receiver and tight end with Antonio Gates, Alshon Jeffery, Dez Bryant, and Antonio Brown, but only had Lesean McCoy at running back. This trade strengthen my weakness, running back, while not taking away from my strength thanks to my depth at the position. Plus it was a nice bonus that Vernon Davis ended up with more points than Julius Thomas. 
    • In my other league, Russell Wilson was my quarterback and while not being terrible, his numbers were not consistent and he was not used much in the offense. I felt the need to get a top quarterback to round out my team and sacrificed a third round pick this year and Wilson for Drew Brees and a seventh rounder. Although I gave up a lot of potential in the future, the move turned out working as Bress helped me squeak by the semifinals when Wilson would not have, which lead to me taking home the trophy.
  • Talk A Lot of Shit – Shit talking is the most important aspect of Fantasy Football. If you’re not doing it, then you’re missing out in a big way.

Follow these rules, or don’t, either way have a fun Fantasy Football season.