Friday, October 25, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 8)

Monday Morning - 

Two of my three defensive players are now out. I'm not sure if Bobby Wagner's is an extended injury, but Lance Briggs will be out for weeks. I think it's time to sign some new players. Luckily, defensive players are plentiful. I also need to be thinking about another kicker; my guy's bye is coming up, not this week but next week.

Tuesday Morning - 

Surprisingly, I ended up with the highest score again this week. Surprising because my score wasn't ridiculously high -- I guess no one had a really good week -- but at least this time I did about as well as I could have done, unlike last week. I was right to put Moreno in over Bush, although Eddie Lacy outscored both of them (though only by a few points). Also, all of my quarterbacks fell short of their projections this week, and I would have gotten an extra point and a half if I'd played Flacco instead of Eli.

I still need to make some roster changes, but I'll wait till tomorrow for free agency rather than using up my good waiver position... there may come a time when I really need it, and I don't think that's this week.

Thursday Afternoon - 

I don't really have time to give a rundown of my decisions this week, other than to say it's the usual combination of analysts' predictions, byes/injuries, projected points according to Yahoo, and strengths/weaknesses of matchups.

QB - Cam Newton, Eli Manning
RB - Knowshon Moreno, Eddie Lacy (first time starting the rookie, let's see if it pays off)
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Marques Colston
TE - Julius Thomas
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - NaVorro Bowman, Alec Ogletree (another rookie, just picked him up, let's see how he does)

We're headed to Chicago this weekend (actual Chicago, not 20 miles west of Chicago) so I don't know how actively I'll be keeping up on my team. No, we didn't plan this mini-vacation to coincide with the Bears' bye week, but I'm definitely not complaining that it turned out that way.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 7)

Tuesday Afternoon - 

I'm back in 2nd place. At 180 points, I actually had the highest scoring game in my league this week... and yet I could have had over 50 more if I'd made some different decisions. Joe Flacco outscored Eli Manning. Calvin Johnson played but didn't do much (nor did my other receivers). For the first time this year, Kyle Rudolph had a better game than Julius Thomas. And while I was right to swap Knowshon Moreno for Reggie Bush, Bush ended up doing better than Forte did on Thursday.

That Thursday game is always frustrating. Luckily, I don't have to worry about Thursday this week...

Thursday Night - 

Looking over my roster, there are no big surprises or agonizing decisions coming up this week. My backup receivers are on bye, and one of my defensive players is out with an injury, so those positions are locked. Where I have decisions to make, the predictions I'm seeing are pretty consistent for most of my players. I'm a little torn on defense/special teams; seems most analysts are still saying 49ers are the better bet, but Pittsburgh (whom the Ravens are playing) has given up more points to defenses this season than Tennessee has. Also, I've got three pretty solid running backs and only two open spots, but that's not exactly a terrible problem to have.

Going with the following starters:

QB - Cam Newton, Eli Manning
RB - Matt Forte, Knowshon Moreno
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Steve Smith
TE - Julius Thomas
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - Lance Briggs, NaVorro Bowman

(Pierre Garcon is playing against the Bears this week, so here's hoping for "good, but not good enough.")

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 6)

Monday Morning - 

Well, with a couple exceptions, my offense was lousy this week. I was so busy scrambling to replace Calvin Johnson that I didn't think about the fact that Reggie Bush probably wouldn't have a great game in a one-dimensional offense and I might want to put him on the bench. The other really big disappointment is that Marques Colston only got 1.5 points; if the Saints were going to beat the Bears, I would have at least liked my fantasy receiver to rack up some points in the process.

On the plus side, the 49ers did great as my defense, and Briggs also had a great game (while the supposedly higher ranked linebacker on my bench did terrible).

All in all, it was a better week than it felt like it was while I was checking in on my scores. Really the only thing I should have done differently was put Knowshon Moreno in for Reggie Bush. If Johnson is out another week, I'll be keeping that in mind.

Tuesday Morning - 

I'm solidly in 3rd place this week, more than 20 points behind 2nd place and more than 30 points ahead of 4th place. Pat, it should be noted, had a blowout game this week and is now sitting in 1st for the first time this season.

I have three players playing Thursday night in the Bears/Giants game -- Matt Forte, Lance Briggs, and Eli Manning. I'll be starting all of them. The rest of my roster can wait for now. (Technically I have a RB on the Giants as well, but he's out this week with a neck injury. I haven't played him since Week 1 anyway.)

Friday Morning - 

I went with Eli over Joe Flacco for a couple reasons... Eli has more interceptions, but he also has more yards and touchdowns, and consistently gets more points despite his mistakes... but after last night I don't know that that's going to be the case this week.

I definitely don't have the points I was hoping for after three players, but we'll see how Sunday goes.

Cam Newton will be my other starting quarterback, Julius Thomas my tight end, David Akers my kicker, the 49ers my defense/special teams, and NaVorro Bowman my other defensive player. My other running back and my three wide receivers will depend on if Calvin Johnson (currently questionable) plays or not.

If he starts, then my wide receivers will be Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, and Steve Smith, with Reggie Bush as my second running back. But if Johnson doesn't play, I'll swap in Marques Colston for him, and Knowshon Moreno for Bush. As I discovered last week, Bush probably won't have a great game if he and Johnson aren't working together in a multi-dimensional offense.

To be honest, I'm debating subbing in Moreno anyway; he and Bush are projected to be relatively close, and this way I'm covered if Johnson starts but goes down or just doesn't play extensively...

Gah! So many variables! So much uncertainty! Even the experts are proven wrong all the time, and if I follow their advice and it doesn't pay off, then I kick myself for not following my gut... but what's my gut worth? What do I know?

Next to nothing!

I know I'm doing way better than I thought I would, but I just don't know if I'm cut out for fantasy football.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

2013 Chicago Bears: Week 5

Opponent: New Orleans Saints
Location: Home
Outcome: Loss
Record: 3-2 (1-1)

2-2 (1-0) Green Bay Packers
1-3 (0-2) Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week)
3-2 (2-1) Detroit Lions

I may have mentioned this before, but now that the bye weeks have started, I'm not really going to talk about the division standings. The whole "half game" thing just gets too convoluted for my taste. Besides, by week 9, we'll have a better overall idea of how teams are actually doing.

This week the Bears again lost by 8 points, but this one wasn't as painful to watch as last week. The team looked much better than they did against the Lions despite some early bumps.

This would be where the early bumps were. On the offense's first play Matt Forte dropped the ball...literally. Cutler pitched it to him and it just slipped through his fingers. Starting out 2nd and 20 on your own 10 yard line is no way to start the game. 3 and out. The next possession started with a fumble causing sack where the offense failed to adjust properly for a blitz. Cutler is included and possibly most at fault for this. Long story short, the Bears started out way too slow against a very good Saints team and were behind the rest of the game. The offense really started to click after about the first 22 minutes of play, but you can't come to play 2/3 of a game and expect to win against a good team. One particularly bright spot though, was Alshon Jeffery. He set a new Bears' receiving record with 218 yards on 10 receptions. Let other teams be warned, if you continue to double cover Brandon Marshall, we have a #2 receiver who is more than capable of stepping up.

The defense looked much better this week. Their tackling was much improved, they held the Saints to a season low 347 yards (yes, that's their low), and did not give up nearly as many big plays as they have been the last couple of games. The one big slip that I noticed was Lance Briggs falling for a hard count on 4th and 1 where the Saints probably weren't actually going for it. He's a veteran player and knows better than that. The other thing that was less than ideal is that the Bears did not generate any takeaways, but Drew Brees is one of the more accurate QBs in the league so it's not so worrisome.

Special Teams
The Saints did a good job of not letting Hester do much in the return game. He had very few opportunities and he played smart by not trying to force anything. Adam Podlesh was much better today and we never gave up field position due to special teams play.

Overall the team looked better than they did in week 4, but the offense needs to do more to get rolling sooner. Punting from your own 20 yard line to start the game just sets a bad tone and forces you to play from behind all day. One other thing I have noticed is that Cutler seems to play better when he's in a hurry. I almost wonder if trying to play a no-huddle type of offense would benefit him. Next week (tomorrow) the Giants come to town. They are 0-5 and even though they have some great players and coaches, the Bears should be able to get back on the right track and make them 0-6. BEAR DOWN!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 5)

Tuesday Morning - 

I'm in 2nd... by less than three points.

The first bye week of the season went alright. I could be nine points farther ahead had I made a couple different choices. Probably the biggest disappointment is that Calvin Johnson didn't have a better game, but he usually doesn't do great against the Bears. Their kicker, on the other hand, was the highest scoring kicker this week... small silver lining to the Bears' loss, but I guess it's something.

Looking ahead to next week, my bye week players are my backup tight end and one of my receivers, so those starter positions are locked. I do wonder if I want to pick up another wide receiver for more options while my guys are rotating through bye weeks, but I don't know if there's anyone I could get right now that would be better than the options I have (assuming no injuries... which is a dangerous assumption to make, but I can always pick up another player if that happens).

Friday Morning - 

(Huh, and now I'm back in third... again, by less than three points. I wonder if they were late factoring in Monday night players, or there was some stat correction later in the week. Oh, well...)

(ETA: Or because Week 5's already started and the guy who passed me up probably had someone playing last night. *facepalm*)

Most of my picks this week are fairly straightforward. Like I said, my wide receivers and tight end are set. I'm sticking with my usual starters for most everyone else.

My defensive players are where the trouble is. It's not really trouble, per se; even when I make the "wrong" choices, my players are all within a few points of each other, so it's not a big deal. It's just frustrating. On the one site that I've found that ranks defensive players, either the analysts are extremely biased against Lance Briggs for some reason, or they're using a points system that's vastly different than the one my league uses... because he's consistently ranked far, far below my other two players - NaVorro Bowman and Bobby Wagner - yet he's outperformed both of them three out of the four weeks so far, and in two of those three weeks he had the least promising match up (based on how many points the opposing offense usually gives up to linebackers, which all three of my players are).

So, I'm done listening to the "experts" for this category, and unless someone has an injury, I'll be sticking with Bowman and Briggs from now on.

For the record, then, my starters this week are:

QB - Cam Newton, Eli Manning
RB - Matt Forte, Reggie Bush
WR - Calvin Johnson, Marques Colston, Steve Smith, Denarius Moore
TE - Julius Thomas
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - Lance Briggs, NaVorro Bowman

And in "conflicts of interest," Colston is playing against the Bears. We'll see how that game goes.

ETA: Sunday Morning (an hour before kickoff) - 

Well, crap. Calvin Johnson is inactive, and my backup WR is on bye. This is just what I was afraid of. Time to scramble...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2013 Chicago Bears: Week 4

Opponent: Detroit Lions
Location: Away
Outcome: Loss
Record: 3-1 (1-1)

1-2 (0-0) Green Bay Packers (Bye Week)
1-3 (0-2) Minnesota Vikings
3-1 (2-0) Detroit Lions

I'm not going to sugar coat it. It was an ugly game for the Bears. Detroit showed up to play in the 1st half, the Bears didn't.

The offense had 3 interceptions, 1 fumble, a couple of costly offensive penalties, 2 sacks, some bad throws, some dropped catches, and no third down conversions until the 3rd quarter. To be honest, it felt a bit like last year. Often the other team's defense didn't have to beat us, we were beating ourselves.

When the opposing running back is averaging 10 yards/carry, you're not doing well. This is something that has been worrying me for the last couple of weeks. There has been sloppy tackling and too many big plays by the opponent. The cover 2 scheme is supposed to be a bend but don't break defense and the Bears D has been breaking a lot this season. They did generate some takeaways, but the Lions scored on every possession but the first in the first half.

Special Teams
We allowed a 57 yard punt return. Our gunner got there and slowed up the returner, but the 2nd and 3rd guys on the coverage team were out of position and the left side of the field was completely open. After that we kicked out of bounds and gave the Lions great field position all day. Last I checked WE had the scary kick returner, not everyone else.

We knew there'd be bumps in the road this year. I was just hoping that a game against the Lions wasn't going to be one of them.

I do think it's kind of funny though. The media now seems to be completely ready and willing to throw in the towel on the Bears this year after one loss. I saw a Bears team have several things not go their way, but this organization has preached resiliency. It's one game and next week is a completely new one. It was also nice to see the team turn things around in the second half. The defense was getting stops, and the offense started to get back in sync. Unfortunately they had dug themselves too big a hole. The Bears were composed and Cutler didn't give the media any drama bits that they seem to be starving for. In fact, he pointed the thumb at himself for all of the turnovers. It was a disappointing game overall, but I have no reason to think that they won't move on and come back fighting next week.