State Of The League 2014
Published Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:50pm PST
If Back to the Future Part II taught us anything, it's that hoverboards exist on October 21st, 2015. And, legally, movies cannot lie to us. That means we've got 364 days until we're gliding in neon pink style.
I wonder... Does Gray's Sports Almanac list Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray as breaking Jim Brown's 100-yard rushing record on the same day that Broncos QB Peyton Manning broke Brett Favre's touchdown record? ... Aha! Trick question. Gray's Sports Almanac only had info from 1950-2000. Now don't you feel silly?
We're at the midseason point. After 7 full weeks, I can now evaluate your future by reviewing your past. If you get through all 12 team reviews, who knows? Maybe there's a nice little visual treat for you at the end. Maybe you'll enjoy it. I don't know. Now, onto the break breakdown... Steady breaking you on down.
Just as it's been since time began, Week 10 is the only week without a single division or conference matchup. Weeks 8, 11, and 13 are all-division, all-conference, all the time and Week 9 is mostly conference matchups. That means those four weeks are your best shot at climbing to the top and Flashdance-dousing yourself with a big bucket o' conference cash. Let's see how we all stack up.
Well, this has never happened before. One conference always has the inverse record of the other conference and the Vertical Conference currently stands at an even 21-21. What does that mean? That means the Horizontal Conference is 21-21 as well. It's dead even. For the first time ever, we've reached the midway point with neither conference dominating the other.
Unless you count points. With 5,346.5 points, the North and South teams are averaging 2.9 points per game more than their East and West counterparts. It's no wonder the conference overloads the upper ranks with 3 teams in the league's top 4. The North continues to crush the South with a 3-game advantage thanks to one southern team that has yet to find the win column. We start our trek by heading to the North Division.
[ARM] ARMAGEDDON 5-2, 932 pts
Cooking up some hot wins.
It's no wonder 'GEDDON sits at the top of his division. The team stormed into the season with a strong 3-0 start. They've split the last four games mostly because of sidelined receiver A.J. Green who insists on getting back in there next week. ARMAGEDDON will need him, too. Next week, he faces that Steelers-loving division opponent The Black & The Goaled who trail him in win (that's right, singular) but not in points. Trading a 2015 draft pick for Alshon Jeffery hasn't paid off yet as Jeffery laid an egg in his first outing for the new team. But if the oft-injured Foster, aged Steve Smith, and fractured Cardinals defense can stay healthy, Mr. a.k.a. EL FUEGO will continue to give the Vertical Conference a run for the money.
Div. matchup wks: 8[B&G], 13[DP]
Conf. matchup wks: 7[STL], 11[Dx]
[B&G] The Black & The Goaled 4-3, 964.7 pts
Don't you... forget about me.
Holy crap, what a Week 7! Thanks to Russell being Russell, Demaryius being Demaryius, and Golden being golden (as in "spectacular", not as in "himself", although he has been regularly spectacular), Black & Goaled put up the second-highest score of the season. That 185.4 propelled the team from 7th place to 4th and #2 in points, essentially putting a sniper's beam on conference leader RACKS and runner up ARMAGEDDON: one slip up and he's got 'em. B&G's losing days seem like ages ago as the team is now gelling, going for over 150 in three of the last five weeks. Goaled is thin at running back, thanks to the Chargers' injuries, but he more than makes up for it at wide receiver with Thomas, Tate, Garcon, and Maclin.
Div. matchup wks: 8[ARM], 11[DP]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[Dx], 13[RRR]
[DP] Da,Pope 3-4, 874.2 pts
Div: 3rd (last)
Bless me, Father, for I need wins.
Pope struggled to break out of the hundred teens for the first four weeks of the season. But half his losses actually came when he finally broke into the 130s. That 130-jinx was snapped in Week 7 largely thanks to Ronnie Hillman, a much much much much much needed pickup at the RB position. Da,Pope just lost linebacker "Don't Need To Say The First Name When The Last Name Is" Posluszny for the season. Posluszny was 5th at the position, so that's a tough 8.7 points per game to replace. The slow first half makes Pope a long shot for conference champ. Fortunately, he has a full 5 conference matches the rest of the way, so he can make his own luck. But sitting in this tough North division, he should just be thankful if he can get a playoff slot.
Div. matchup wks: 11[B&G], 13[ARM]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[STL], 9[RRR], 12[Dx]
[RRR] RAC ON RAC ON RACKS 5-2, 964.1 pts
Averaging 137.7 points a game, RACKS only loses when his opponent scores over that amount. Twenty points over, to be specific. The Week 1 loss put a bitter taste in Triple-R's mouth and it showed in the 4-week tear he went on afterward. It seems his Week 6 loss may repeat the pattern as RACKS easily dispatched of Week 7 opponent Hitmen and next faces Detox, Da,Pope, and Allstate who have a combined 6 wins and average 112.5, 124.9, and 116.5 points respectively. RACKS' QB Manning just set the NFL TD record and continues to overdo it fantasy-wise to the annoyance of all who face him. The team doesn't have running back depth and the receivers are vulnerable to the occasional stinker, but none of that matters when Peyton's there to bail you out.
Div. matchup wks: 8[Dx], 11[STL]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[DP], 13[B&G]
[STL] STLiens 4-3, 823.8 pts
If Weeks 2 through 6 were a parachute that gently lowered STLiens from 1st to 4th, Week 7 was a cruise missile that tore through his knees. STLiens dropped 2 spots in 1 week. After setting the high mark in Week 1 with 157.7, the team has failed to reach triple-digits in back-to-back weeks. Trace that drop to the absence of Jimmy Graham. This team needs Graham more than the Saints do and the Saints need him baaaadly. With Matt Ryan faltering, STLiens will find himself having to make the tough decision between him and Rivers every single week. The team has a stud at running back in Giovani Bernard and an inexplicably reliable Mike Wallace at wide receiver. But the rest of the team is full of maybe-ifs and let's-hope-thats.
Div. matchup wks: 11[RRR], 13[Dx]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[DP]
[Dx] Detox 0-7, 787.7 pts
League: 12th (last)
Conf: 6th (last)
Div: 3rd (last)
What needs to be said? It's nearly impossible to make the playoffs at 6-7 and Detox already has the 7. Last in record and points, he'd have to win out and win out big to play in Week 14. And he still has to face RACKS, Goaled, Savage Life, ARMAGEDD--forget it. It's done. And Detox knew it, that's why he got 2 choice 2015 draft picks for 2013 keeper Julian Edelman and 2014 first round pick Alshon Jeffery. Detox still has worthy keepers in QB Romo and breakout rookie receiver Sammy Watkins. Plus with 5 picks in the first 3 rounds of next year's draft, he's primed to build a strong comeback contender. Detox's highest mark this season is 122.9, three notches under the league average of 125.9. He should set his 2014 goal on crossing the league average.
Div. matchup wks: 8[RRR], 13[STL]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[B&G], 11[ARM], 12[DP]
We already know the Horizontal Conference has a 21-21 record and its 5,225.7 points trail the Vertical Conference by a mere 120.8. But unlike that other conference, the divisions in this one are neck and neck. Despite having the league's wins and points leader, the East holds only 1 more win than the West. The West doesn't have a single team in the top 4, but appears to be the division with the most playoff spoiler potential. That said, let's start with the East Division.
[GTD] GameTime Decision 6-1, 1085.1 pts
Getting Things Done.
Through the first six games of 2013, the team formerly known as That Bearded Mofo only managed to scrape up 1 win. Through the first six of 2014, GameTime only took 1 loss. GTD has gone over 165 a league-high 3 times this season, including Week 4's record-breaking 206.6 outing. So who what when where why how the turnaround? Finally, some help for keepers Charles and Lynch. Colts Luck and Hilton are trying to be the new Manning and Harrison. Plus receiver Antonio Brown hasn't delivered less than 17 points but once this season. Decision still has to face three top-5 teams which will surely throw a wrench in his Cinderella year. But at 6-1 with a full 120-point lead, one more win essentially cements a spot in the playoffs.
Div. matchup wks: 11[Hm], 13[BVS]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[ASM], 9[SL]
[Hm] Hitmen 4-3, 789.2 pts
Are you supposed to be here?
Hitmen has the 2nd-least amount of points but currently sits in the second-to-last playoff spot. That means this is the luckiest team in the league. He's had four games below 100, one of which he won. By comparison, division rival B.F. Vandal Savages actually leads Hitmen in points, but trails him by a whopping 3 wins. That's luck. And if anyone needed that luck, it was Hitmen. Plagued with Megatron and RGIII injuries plus Adrian Peterson idiocy, it's impressive the team was able to cobble together the wins. The rest of the season is an even split of three top-5 and three bottom-5 teams. Hitmen is going to need more games like Week 6's 163.4 blow-up if he hopes to hang on to his playoff spot, much less capture the conference crown.
Div. matchup wks: 8[BVS], 11[GTD]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[BFS], 12[ASM], 13[SL]
[BVS] B.F. Vandal Savages 1-6, 789.4 pts
Conf: 6th (last)
Div: 3rd (last)
...But somebody's gotta do it.
It stands to reason that if some rise, others have to fall. While 3 teams that missed last year's playoffs currently sit in the top-6, Vandal Savages, who finished 2013 at #3, finds himself taking their place. B.F.'s only win has come against last place Detox. One can only wonder how different the results would be if the team hadn't traded away NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray in Week 1. Don't wonder; I can tell you. Swapping in Murray for trade mate Vincent Jackson would have only given the Vandals one more win: the Week 4 match against Savage Life. Just call it bad luck, luck of the draw, or suck for Luck. Despite selling off keeper QB Cam Newton, the team is full of players who have the potential to go off any week but likely won't.
Div. matchup wks: 8[Hm], 13[GTD]
Conf. matchup wks: 11[BFS]
[SL] Savage Life 4-3, 848.3 pts
It's smooth sailing.
In Week 2, Savage Life set the league high with 165.3. The very next week, he notched the league low with 62.9. The high has since been broken, but the low still stands, daring anyone to try to sink below its unfathomable depths. That score is a lie unto Savage's character as the team has managed to cement itself into 5th place even after its Week 7 loss. Rodgers and Nelson are a combo that keeps the rest of the Horizontal conference up at night. Savage will need to gain some wins, though, if he wants to snatch up that conference goodie bag. His weak late-half schedule provides the perfect opportunity. If tight end Witten can stop blocking for Murray and become a pass-catcher again, Life could make a savage run through the rest of his schedule.
Div. matchup wks: 8[BFS], 11[ASM]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[GTD], 13[Hm]
[BFS] Black Francis Soyer 3-4, 898.1 pts
The game where the points don't matter.
A hard dip early in the season took Black Francis on a 3-game losing skid. He's currently 8th in the league, but only 33.9 points behind the guy in 3rd. That's less than 5 points a game. Soyer's gotta get some wins. He doesn't seem to be in any real danger of missing the playoffs as 5 of his final 6 opponents have scored fewer points than he has. Brees has loafed this season, still yet to get 30 points or more than 2 TDs in a game. Forte is the beast BFS is riding of late; after starting 4 weeks without a touchdown, he now has 5 on the season. The playmakers are there, but, as Soyer griped to me earlier this season, "You gotta score 140 to win games in Gateway." Actually, it's tougher than that. 140 would've only saved Soyer in one of his losses (Week 7).
Div. matchup wks: 8[SL], 13[ASM]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[Hm], 11[BVS]
[AM] Allstate Mayhem 3-4, 815.6 pts
Div: 3rd (last)
Now or never.
Allstate leads the league in trades with 3. He bartered for both of B.F. Vandal Savages' keepers and subsequently used them to sneak past B.F. last week. Allstate's moves have cost him for next year's draft, so it's do or die right now. It's fitting since Mayhem has been very feast or famine averaging 135.7 in wins and 102.2 in losses. He needs consistency. Five different players have led the team in points week to week. DeMarco Murray hasn't finished a full season since he entered the NFL and the Cowboys have him on pace for either 2,100 yards or 2,100 leg fragments. Perennial suspendee Josh Gordon will be available the last two games of the fantasy regular season, but that might be too late: Allstate faces the top 3 teams over the next 3 weeks.
Div. matchup wks: 11[SL], 13[BFS]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[GTD], 12[Hm]
And that, my friends, is the state of our league. Despite the large disparity between the top and the bottom, the records have never been more balanced. Every division has two teams currently slotted in the playoffs and one team currently out. A lot can change in six weeks and I'm sure a lot will.
What's that? A treat? Oh, yeah. I did sorta kinda not really promise you a little something extra. Let's see what I have here... Ah. How about the newly released web short Good Cop, Bitch Cop from Udder Entertainment? Enjoy, while I sneak out the back like Marty McFly avoiding his '80s self in the '50s.
~That Hoverboards Don't Work On Water Mofo~