State Of The League 2015
Published Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:15pm PST
Oh, hi there. I was just reading quarterback Ryan Mallett's self help book titled The Sure Fired Method to Getting Sure Fired. It reads, "Step one: Oversleep and miss work. Step two: Pout on the sidelines at work. Step three: Miss your plane to work. Step four: You've been fired." It's... It's really more of a leaflet than a book.
I think it's pretty obvious Mallett wanted out of Houston. Hell, with Arian Foster now gone for the season, even the "Hou" wants out of Houston. That team is terrible. Their gameplay is worse than the stretcher team taking care of an "injured" soccer player.
In other football--real football--news, Jason Pierre-Paul and the Giants finally came to an agreement on a one-year deal. Either they're both desperate or they both love each other. So what if JPP is missing fingers. With that pro money he's making, he can afford to get himself a pair of shoes that will do the tying for him.
The first half of the season passed by quick and we've got even fewer games left in the second half. How can a half be smaller than a half? *shrug* Seven weeks down means it's time I break it down. It's time for the midseason checkup.
As always and forever, Week 10 is the only week full of meaningless, interconference face offs. It's Weeks 8, 11, and 13 that are nonstop, action-packed divisional and conference thrillers. Week 9 has a bunch of conference games, too. So if your team is looking to gain a foothold on the climb to that conference championship cash, winning in those weeks gives you the best advantage.
This season, we shook up the divisions, and what a shake up it was. Only The Black & The Goaled, STLiens, and The Comeback Kid remained in their previous divisions. EXPLOSIVE stayed within the Vertical Conference and Back 2 Black and Allstate Mayhem swapped divisions in the Horizontal Conference. The other six teams moved clear out of state. The North Division gained one each from the East and South (Hitmen and Savage Life) while the East Division did the same with the North and South (Da,Pope and RAC ON RAC ON RACKS). The East also coughed up GameTime Decision to the South while the South shipped off Detox to the West. You got all that?
Except for last year's dead equal record, the conferences are as even as they've ever been at the midseason eval. At 22-20, the Vertical Conference holds a slight edge in wins, but trails even more slightly in points at 5,569.8. If the playoffs began today, only one team from this conference would miss it. The race in the South Division stands tight with all three teams at 3-4 and bunched up at the bottom of playoff seeding. Meanwhile in the North, two teams account for nearly 40% of the conference points and 45% of the wins. Let's meet them now.
[Hm] Hitmen 6-1, 1,062.5 pts
Taking 'em out one by one.
Hitmen can't miss. The team has scored in the 170s three times this season and tapped 160.1 last week against Comeback Kid in the battle for the clear #1 spot. Hitmen handily proved that he deserves the pole position despite Russell Wilson delivering his worst fantasy output of the season. Wilson is not who the experts thought he would be this year; neither are the Seahawks. Unfortunately for Hitmen, the alternative is Kaepernick who looks worse than a drunk baby under center. But with fantasy's top receiver and tight end in Hopkins and Gronk, and with Lamar Miller waking up hard now that Coach Philbin has gotten the boot, Hitmen can afford a mediocre game or two at QB. With division foe Black & Goaled being the only over-.500 team left on the schedule, Hitmen should have an unfettered trip to his Vertical Conference coronation.
Div. matchup wks: 8[B&G], 11[SL]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[GTD], 13[STL]
[B&G] The Black & The Goaled 4-3, 1,055.5 pts
Steely-eyed on the prize.
In Week 7, B&G posted Gateway's 2nd highest score of the season with the 180.6 he put up against conference adversary EXPLOSIVE. Averaging 150.8 points per game, it's no wonder most of Black & Goaled's losses have only come at the hands of 170-point scores. The deal that got Jeremy Hill to the team is not the steal it first seemed with Hill sucking wind in 3 of the 6 games he's played. Hill hasn't been a total bust but has proven untrustworthy. Meanwhile, Doug "Stop Calling Me Muscle Hamster, Call Me Dougernaut" Martin has been unstoppable in his last 3. With Steelers Bell and Bryant, a reinvigorated T Y Hilton, and a dangerous-when-not-injured Jordan Reed rounding out the squad, The Black & The Goaled presents a team no one wants to match up against in the playoffs.
Div. matchup wks: 8[Hm], 13[SL]
Conf. matchup wks: 11[GTD]
[SL] Savage Life 3-4, 806.4 pts
Conf: 6th (last)
Div: 3rd (last)
All bark, no bite.
The team got derailed before the season began when Rodgers' fave target Jordy Nelson went down forever. Actually, just for 2015. Savage replaced Nelson with new Buffalo Bill LeSean McCoy only to have Shady miss two games to recover from a preseason hamstring injury that hadn't fully healed. While those injuries are hard on the win record, roster inattentiveness got a few kicks in, too. The aforementioned digitally impaired Jason Pierre-Paul spent the first two weeks of the season starting while not starting. And even last week, unemployed kicker Randy Bullock found himself with a comfy spot on Savage's go team. Ranking dead last in points, Life needs to add some life. Quickly. What he lacks in power he teems with in opportunity: Savage still has to face every team in his conference the rest of the way. But if he's looking for easy wins, he's in the wrong division with high-powered scorers Hitmen and Black & Goaled.
Div. matchup wks: 11[Hm], 13[B&G]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[EXP], 9[STL], 12[GTD]
[GTD] GameTime Decision 3-4, 890.7 pts
Day to day.
If not for two Monday night miracles, GameTime would be looking at a 1-6 record. Week 7 saw GTD jump from 10th in the league and last in his division to 6th and first. It took Andrew Luck six weeks and two sit outs, but the QB seems to have returned to 2014 stature. With latecomers Arian Foster and Antonio Gates, it looked like GameTime was finally turning it around. Despite missing the first half of the first half of the season, Foster was a true candidate for team MVP based on his consistency. But that's all gone now along with Arian's achilles and GameTime's running game. At 3rd place in the conference, winning that title and its cash is not out of the question, but it's a loooong effin' question. Decision still has to face the entire North Division. If Gates can stay healthy, Brown can be Brown, and Luck make it do what it do, those tent poles and their kinda consistent support players should put up a good weekly fight.
Div. matchup wks: 8[STL], 13[EXP]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[Hm], 11[B&G], 12[SL]
[EXP] EXPLOSIVE 3-4, 883.9 pts
This team makes more moves than Bill Cosby at a slumber party. So many NFL players have come through his doors, you'd think he was a courthouse. With so many transactions, a team is bound to snag a great one at some point. For EXPLOSIVE, that pick up came in Week 3 with QB Carson Palmer who is averaging nearly 27 points per game. With Stafford as backup, Team Boom is set for passers. It's the catchers that are giving him fits. Beckham, Jr. is nowhere near the 25 ppg player he was in 2014. And Jimmy Graham? Psssh! Inconsistency is the name of that game. That's why EXPLOSIVE's record is an even mix of trompeds and got trompeds. Score 177 one week, get scored on 180 the next. Win by 24 with 119, lose by 2 with 127. EXPLOSIVE has already faced off with 3 of the top 4 teams in the league. If he can settle on a roster, he's got a good chance to shift the rest of his schedule into the win column.
Div. matchup wks: 11[STL], 13[GTD]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[SL]
[STL] STLiens 3-4, 870.8 pts
Div: 3rd (last)
The middle man.
Currently holding the 8th and last seed of the playoffs, STLiens is about as close to 6th place as he is to last. Only 20 points separate him from the other teams in his division while only 2 points and 1 loss separate him from the 12th place team. Julio Jones took a tiny dip right around the time of STL's biggest losses establishing the correlation between the big name keeper and the team's success. Cam Newton has also been a big tell for STL's success as the team has only won when Cam scored 24 or more. Cam faces the likes of Indy, Tenny, Dally, and New Orly over the rest of the way and Julio has Tampa twice, so the stars look like they have aligned. STLiens has four more shots at conference wins, the first three being against opponents with his same record and similar points. If he can close those out plus topple Hitmen in the season finale, there's a good chance he'd win the conference crown.
Div. matchup wks: 8[GTD], 11[EXP]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[SL], 13[Hm]
With a total of 5,591 points, the Horizontal Conference leads in scoring. That only comes to 0.5 points per game over the Vertical Conference, but ahead is ahead. At 20-22, half the wins come from the leading teams of each division. The West Division is no contest as the top team has more wins than the bottom two combined. Meanwhile, the East is heating up and looks totally different than it did 4 weeks ago. Let's size up these musical chairs players.
[DP] Da,Pope 5-2, 1,055.9 pts
All he do is win win win no matter what. That could be said about Da,Pope or his QB Tom Brady. Brady has scored below 30 only once this season and that was Week 4 when he was off scuba diving somewhere on bye. It's hard to tell whether the Super Bowl champion (Pope, not Brady) is lucky or smart. He drafted Devonta Freeman late and the Falcon's RB has scored more in the last three weeks than he did all of last season. And that doesn't even include his two 3-touchdown games! Pope is undefeated against his division and still has the entire West Division to go through, so he's looking pretty unstoppable for the Horizontal Conference title. Thanks to Week 3's 200-point game, Pope ranks 2nd in points, but only by a slim 0.4 margin. Averaging 143 over the last three weeks, Pope seems to be cooling off. But that shouldn't matter for the reigning champ as his remaining opponents combined are averaging 133.1 on the season.
Div. matchup wks: 8[RRR], 11[AM]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[Dx], 12[B2B], 13[TCK]
[RRR] RAC ON RAC ON RACKS 3-4, 940.9 pts
Back on back on track.
On a team with Peyton Manning and C.J. Anderson, who would have guessed that Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson would be the head honcho of points? The Saints' Mark Ingram has been surprising as a top-6 fantasy running back. And the addition of Jamaal Charles' replacement Charcandrick West is sure to be a big coup for RACKS' running game. RACKS had a rough 0-4 start to the season, including a hurtful nearly 30-point loss followed immediately by an even more stinging 1.5-point loss. But now, on the longest win streak of the league at 3 straight, RACKS finds himself at 3-4 and in 5th place. He's still got a shot at the conference lead, though the odds are more under than over. Division foe and conference leader Pope would be foolish to count him out, though. RAC ON RAC's scoring has increased each of the last four weeks culminating in Week 7's hefty bye-week-proof 164.9 blast.
Div. matchup wks: 8[DP], 13[AM]
Conf. matchup wks: 11[Dx]
[AM] Allstate Mayhem 3-4, 855.1 pts
Div: 3rd (last)
After Week 3, Mayhem was one of only two undefeated teams in the league. Four weeks later, he hasn't seen a win since. Allstate has unraveled under a 4-game losing streak, getting outscored by an average of 21 points per game. The team has tried to reinvigorate itself with the trade acquisition of red hot rookie running back Todd Gurley and the pick up of nice newbie wide receiver Stefon Diggs. They're averaging 16.3 and 19.4, respectively, at the start of their fantasy careers. And veteran tight end Gary Barnidge has come out of nof**kingwhere to average 16.3 after several seasons of 2-point games. Unfortunately, that hasn't been enough for Allstate. Mayhem has four conference matchups left including the season-ending rematch with division mate RAC ON RAC ON RACKS. Allstate barely won the first one, edging out RACKS by 1.5 when RACKS' TE Eifert went 0 for 3, clocking 0 points.
Div. matchup wks: 11[DP], 13[RRR]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[B2B], 9[TCK]
[TCK] The Comeback Kid 5-2, 981 pts
Week 7 saw the prodigal owner slip from barely out of 1st place to barely holding onto 3rd. The Kid is the only one of the top 4 teams that has yet to crack 1,000 points on the season. He's also 1 of only 3 teams yet to score more than 146 in a game (11th- and 12th-placed Detox and Back 2 Black are the other two). Despite The Comeback Kid's low ceiling, he has a high floor, having yet to score below 131.2; no other team can say that. QB Philip Rivers has been the team leader of late followed by week-to-week standouts Amari Cooper and DeMarco Murray. The Packers' Randall Cobb started the season strong in Jordy Nelson's absence, but has laid up duds in his last three starts, thanks in part to a shoulder injury. Da,Pope is Comeback's only remaining opponent with a winning record and his main challenger for the conference crown. Their matchup in the last week of the season could be for all the marbles.
Div. matchup wks: 8[Dx], 11[B2B]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[AM], 13[DP]
[Dx] Detox 2-5, 890.1 pts
If it wasn't for bad luck...
Despite having the 7th most points, Detox finds himself in next-to-last place. Weeks 1 and 3 saw big outputs but resulted in even bigger let downs. Why has it all gone wrong? Because fantasy football sucks and nobody knows nothing. That and unfortunate matchups. Sure, Detox has made his own contributions to the problem, too. Keeping Tre Mason was a head scratcher. Could've kept Romo who now resides on his team anyway thanks to last week's trade with Mayhem. Of course, Romo would have missed time for Detox, but his absence pales in comparison to that of Detox's keystone Jamaal Charles. Once Charles went down, the season was lost for Detox and the Chiefs. Detox does have a good set of tight ends in Kelce and Clay. And if John Brown can stay healthy and Romo can get back soon, there's a slight chance Detox could run the table the last 4 games.
Div. matchup wks: 8[TCK], 13[B2B]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[DP], 11[RRR]
[B2B] Back 2 Black (Charged UP) 2-5, 868 pts
League: 12th (last)
Conf: 6th (last)
Div: 3rd (last)
In the red.
The good news for last place Black is that he's close in points to many of the teams that are 1 game ahead of him. The bad news is that half the rest of his schedule is against top-4 teams. The last two weeks have been Black's best two weeks but they resulted in losses against opponents having their best weeks. The silver lining is that the team is improving, going from averaging 108.3 in the first three games to 135.8 in the last four. It looks like he made out on the preseason Jeremy Hill trade after all as he got receiver Jeremy Maclin with the pick he received from Black & Goaled; Maclin is averaging 16.4 against Hill's 10.2. Trading Gurley for Chris Ivory wasn't too shabby either, netting Black a top-5 running back plus an extra pick next season. But somehow, those winning deals haven't translated to wins. A playoff berth is unlikely unless Big Ben and Beast Mode can get back and get into 2014 form.
Div. matchup wks: 11[TCK], 13[Dx]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[AM], 12[DP]
There you have the state of our league in 2015. Seven teams hover around .500 with six of them being below it. In all, only four teams have winning records. And with points as evenly distributed as they are, we may actually see a 6-7 team in the playoffs this year. Somewhere, the 2010 Seahawks and 2014 Panthers just applauded. So it's not time to panic or give up yet.
That comes when you lose next week.
~That Footballoween Mofo~