State Of The League 2017
Published Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:10pm PST
Hi. How ya been?
I know I've been gone for a while, but I've got a good excuse. I've been boycotting the NFL until O.J. was freed. But he's out and now I can talk fake football again!
Just to be clear, this is not a regular thing. I'm only back to deliver the State of the League report. There will not be another article next week. Not from me, anyway.
With that being the case, better get in some fun stuff while I can.
The "Russian Flag On The Play: Number 45. Collusion. 4-Year Penalty. Automatic Impeachment" Award - Kickers
Dan Bailey, 2 pts
Brandon McManus, 0 pts
Matt Bryant, -3 pts
And the Screwy goes to Matt Bryant.
How the f**k? How you go'n come in, take 3 points and then leave? Your fantasy team lost by 2.3! Black woulda been better off if you sprained your toe getting into the shower that morning or if you took a knee in Jerry Jones' office.
Definition: A trick play where the quarterback hands off to the running back who starts up the middle, stops, and tosses the ball back to the quarterback who then throws deep downfield to a receiver.
In a sentence: A mangy dog's tail is his flea flicker.
Or: In prison, O.J. and his cellmate ran the flea flicker every night; and whatever you think that means, it's worse.
For the crime of: IED (Improvised Explosive Device)
Last seen: Blowing up my goddamn phone
If you should find fantasy trades, turn off your phone immediately or you'll never get a moment's peace. I thought my phone was having a seizure from all the dings and beeps and boops. Good thing I don't have a Galaxy Note 7 or I might be splattered against the ceiling and parts of the refrigerator.
Those were fun. Now that that's out of the way, on to the business at hand.
Oh how time flies. Seems like just yesterday we were all drafting the perfect team. But now, we're seven weeks in and we see what sorry sacks of booty juice we really ended up with. That's gross. It's the midseason mark which means it's time to get your mark from That Bearded Mofo's evaluation. Will it be a big red checkmark or a big brown skidmark? Gross again. Let's find out.
As always, these final six weeks are filled to the brim with division and conference matchups, leaving every team ample opportunity to take a conference crown. Weeks 8, 11, and 13 are division and conference face offs from top to bottom, while Week 9 has a nearly full slate of conference games as well. Week 10 is the only week without any conference battles, but don't sleep on Week 10: every game counts!
For the second straight year, the overall point total for the league has gone down from midseason the year before. It appears that, as the enjoyment of watching football has declined, so has the quality of fantasy football. One must be causing the other. For only the 2nd time ever, the Vertical and Horizontal Conferences are tied with 21 wins and losses each. However, thanks to housing four of the top five scoring teams in the league, the Horizontal Conference outranks the Vertical Conference by 252.5 points. That's a significant advantage of 6 points per game.
Despite taking a backseat in points, the Vertical Conference is doing something right. If the playoffs were to start today, 5 of its 6 teams would make the cut compared to only 3 in the Horizontal. At 21-21 with 4,991.8 points, the VC's North and South Divisions are pretty evenly split with the North having one win more than the South which leads by 37.6 points (or 1.8 per game). First place in both divisions holds on by a slim margin while both third place teams are wondering what the hell is going on out here. Let's get to the breakdowns.
[Hm] Hitmen 5-2, 847 pts
And the hits keep coming.
Hitmen started the season off with a division loss and the loss of 2nd Round pick Allen Robinson on the Jaguars very first passing play. Yikes. But the team has been living the life of Riley reeling of five straight wins after that Week 1 setback. Keepers Gronkowski and Hopkins have continued to deliver as expected and Reshad Jones is the best fantasy DB in the league. QB Palmer was meh, but is starting to come up now. He just needs to stay healthy--annnnd nevermind; he's out for the season. The competition has gotten easier of late. While Hitmen's first three games each came down to a margin of 4 points or less, his last four were by an average margin of 21.9. Unfortunately, that last one swung in the favor of his opponent and it could be a sign of things to come. Hitmen's last six opponents have a combined record of 16-26, but the next four are a combined 20-8. This upcoming stretch will prove whether the team is lucky or skilled.
Div. matchup wks: 8[BFS], 13[B&G]
Conf. matchup wks: 11[EXP]
[BFS] Black Francis Soyer 4-3, 817 pts
Steady as he goes.
Black Francis has established an alternating win-loss pattern. At this rate, the team will finish the season 7-6... and then out in the first round of the playoffs. Aside from a blistering 175.7 points in Week 3, the team hasn't cracked 125 in a game this season; and after keeper QB Aaron Rodgers went down with only .9 points on the board in Week 6, it seemed like BFS never would. But after trading 1st Round pick Brandin Cooks for another team's 1st Round pick Tom Brady, the thought-to-be sinking ship has a new captain to right it. In Rounds 3-6 at the draft, Black Francis drafted a slew of RBs who either haven't played much (Doug Martin) or haven't played well (Joe Mixon). Hence the reason the team is 9th overall in points. Also, with three defenses and one wide receiver, the roster is lopsided to say the least. More roster tweaking is in order, especially since the rest of the schedule is filled with teams that tend to find ways to win.
Div. matchup wks: 8[Hm], 11[B&G]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[EXP] , 13[MF11]
[B&G] The Black & The Goaled 2-5, 813.1 pts
Conf: 6th (last)
Div: 3rd (last)
The Terrible Towel.
I'm just gonna say it. The losses have been brutal. Forget about last week's sneak away 10.8-point loss to HUNTing; Black & Goaled's margin of defeat in the team's other four losses averaged 22.38. Prior to Week 6, the team averaged 108.8 per game and never saw 120 points. Keeper and ace RB Le'Veon Bell was slow to start the season, but is finally back in form. And other keeper RB Melvin Gordon is an ace, except for two clunkers in Weeks 4 and 7 that were more reminiscent of his rookie season numbers. So with those studs, why has the team struggled? Wide receivers. Martavis Bryant wants a trade, Sammy Watkins is a ghost, and Terrelle Pryor may win the title for most overhyped player. Pryor should have been big like all the analysts said; there's just no good reason that he's not. With five conference matchups left, Black & Goaled could still win the Vertical if he runs that table. But he'll need to find more points to do that.
Div. matchup wks: 11[BFS], 13[Hm]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[STL] , 9[MF11] , 12[EXP]
[EXP] EXPLOSIVE 4-3, 833.8 pts
Big Bang Theory.
EXPLOSIVE got his two closest wins thanks to huge games from Tom Brady. Now Brady is gone and the wins have dried up. The team started the season averaging 122.3 points over the first three games but has slipped to 116.7 over the last four. His next four opponents are averaging 117.3 over the same stretch. Sooo, eh. He should get a couple wins in there. It would be nice to have Odell Beckham, Jr. at this time, but of course he's done for the season after the NY Giants Great War On Feet Weekend a couple weeks ago. Brandin Cooks was acquired via trade to replace him. He should be number two to Julio Jones, but Julio's been having a number two of a season. Averaging 14.43 may be fine for most WRs, but Jones averaged 18.94 last season and 22.48 the season before that. That's a heckuva decline. While the RBs and WRs have been inconsistent, EXPLOSIVE has the top IDP group in the league with Calais, Telvin, and Devin all ranked in the top-3 at their positions.
Div. matchup wks: 8[MF11], 13[STL]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[BFS], 11[Hm], 12[B&G]
[STL] STLiens 4-3, 763.3 pts
Ranked last in points, it's a miracle STLiens is a game above .500. The team has only topped 111 twice this season. That's surprising when you see QB Matt Ryan on the roster. But both Ryan and STLiens must be having a Super Bowl hangover. Ryan has almost as many interceptions as touchdowns on the season and hasn't hit 25 fantasy points in a game yet. The team may have to start looking toward Andy Dalton as its leader. My mouth tastes gross just saying that. Rookie RB Dalvin Cook started the season on a tear. Then he had a tear and was lost for the year. Now it's up to WRs Davante Adams and Jarvis Landry to bring in the bulk of this meager stack of points. STL has another four weeks until he faces off within his division again. The playoff picture could change significantly by then. But with his point total so low, he'll need to keep collecting wins or he'll miss the playoffs if it comes down to tiebreakers.
Div. matchup wks: 11[MF11], 13[EXP]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[B&G]
[MF11] Mofo's Eleven 2-5, 917.5 pts
Div: 3rd (last)
If it wasn't for Andrew Luck, I'd have no luck at all.
What do you do when you have the 3rd-most points in the league but can't win games? No, I'm asking. Please tell me. What do I do? The losses can only be blamed on inconsistency: one or two players not showing up when they obviously should. For RB Isaiah Crowell, that was every week. The 1st Round pick--Yes, that's right. First round. Shut up.--hasn't seen the end zone nor double digit fantasy points all season. QB Philip Rivers had a rancid stinker in Week 3, but has been okay/not great the rest of the season. He's just warming the seat for keeper Andrew Luck who is expected to be back in action the day after never. With his setback, it seems Luck is the true blame for the team's ugly record. But the wait on QB at the draft did allow for picking up gem RBs Fournette and Montgomery. Well, former gem Montgomery. I mean, a guy breaks a couple ribs and the Packers completely give up on him. Geez. Anyway, long story short, any given Sunday, it is what it is, blah blah blah, what can I do?
Div. matchup wks: 8[EXP], 11[STL]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[B&G], 13[BFS]
At 21-21 with 5,244.3 points, the Horizontal Conference is up 3 games and down 143 points from last year. Both the East and West divisions have 6-win teams. The East also has a 1-win team and, despite having the most points of any division, would only seed one team if the playoffs started today. Meanwhile, the West sees a new league owner this season and a power shift as last year's 1st place is now 3rd and vice versa. Let's see how these teams have fared so far and what their outlook is.
[X] X 6-1, 938 pts
Spots the mark.
X averages a league high 134 points per game. And he doesn't even need to. Four of his opponents failed to reach triple digits. Most of X's success can be attributed to QB play. Matthew Stafford started the season with 38 points in a 4-TD game. And when Stafford was gone on bye? Why X just picked up and plugged in lackluster Josh McCown who decided to go for a 4-TD game of his own. TE Greg Olsen was lost to injury early in the season, but he's not missed with keeper Travis Kelce and his 14 points a game holding things down. Also averaging 14 is RB LeSean McCoy who just busted out with his first 2 TDs of the season in Week 7. So how does X's future look? His final six opponents have a combined record of 20-22 and a combined average of 122.7 points per game. That's 11.3 points below X's average stated above. The future looks pretty damn bright.
Div. matchup wks: 8[AM], 11[DP]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[HFT], 12[Dx], 13[Blk]
[AM] Allstate Mayhem 2-5, 914.4 pts
So far so not so good.
It's been a tough year for the reigning champ. Apparently, having the 4th-most points in the league doesn't count for much anymore. Despite swooping up juggernaut fantasy QB Deshaun Watson in Week 3, Allstate has only triumphed twice. You could chalk it up to timing: his three highest-scoring losses came against teams having their biggest scores of the season. You could also chalk it up to the bad luck of losing keeper and stud RB David Johnson in Week 1. Or you could chalk it up to not having a single draft pick for Rounds 2-5, though that certainly hasn't ruined him the last two seasons. You can't chalk it up to inconsistency. Mayhem has done a good job on the waiver wire collecting players such as RB Chris Thompson, the aforementioned Watson, and his Texans teammate WR Will Fuller V. While Dez Bryant hasn't been the stud he was in the past, he has delivered at least 15 points most weeks, and that ain't bad. The rest of the season is no cake walk and it starts off with a rematch against division opponent and league leader X next week. Oof!
Div. matchup wks: 8[X], 13[DP]
Conf. matchup wks: 11[HFT]
[DP] Da,Pope 1-6, 775.7 pts
League: 12th (last)
Conf: 6th (last)
Div: 3rd (last)
Unless Pope can run the table, it's over. Just put up the "Gone Fishin'" sign now. The team is 12th in record and 11th in points, so they need the golden 7-6 combination to enter the playoffs. Going 6-7 leaves the team susceptible to the tiebreaker. How did things get this bleak? Big big names doing small small things. In Week 1, Russell Wilson played like Rita Wilson. *crickets* You know. White actress? Married to Tom Hanks? *crickets* Ah, forget it. He played bad. In Week 2, keeper Jordy Nelson got hurt and came up with a gooser. And Demaryius Thomas, well... he plays for the Broncos and they suck now. Keeper A.J. Green has been a constant, until he wasn't last week coming off the bye. All Pope asks for is a little help here. A little effort from his team. A little get right from the fantasy gods. Unfortunately, Pope still has to face the top three teams in the league over this last stretch, starting with Detox in Week 8. If he can't jump that hurdle, it's time to get out the tackle box.
Div. matchup wks: 11[X], 13[AM]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[Dx], 9[Blk]
[Dx] Detox 6-1, 928.1 pts
2 Fast 2 Furious.
One point. One full point in Week 5 is all that's keeping Detox from being undefeated and number one in the league. But because of that .9-point margin of defeat, Detox finds himself 2nd in the league and 2nd in the conference. The back half of the schedule is just a touch harder than the front half. Mr. Number 2 has to face off with Numbers 1, 3, and 4. But he's got the power for it. Detox's points have increased significantly of late, his average going from 124.3 over the first three games to 138.8 over the last four. QB Derek Carr was drafted in Round 4, but it's 12th Round pick Carson Wentz that has been leading this behemoth. Wentz's 29.44 points per game is 4th-best in the league. Pair that with "he-suspends-me/he-suspends-me-not" Ezekiel Elliot and "don't call me Shirley" Todd Gurley each getting over 120 all-purpose yards per game and you've got an unstoppable force on your hands. Did I mention keeper WR Mike Evans? Yeah, he's got one of those, too. And Detox must have all the points because his opponents sure don't. The team is averaging 106.6 points against, which is the lowest in the league. Which means he's growing in points when he doesn't even have to. How about sharing some of that wealth?
Div. matchup wks: 11[Blk], 13[HFT]
Conf. matchup wks: 8[DP], 12[X]
[HFT] HUNTing for a title! 4-3, 865.1 pts
In the crosshairs.
The team's namesake and breakout rookie RB Kareem Hunt has fewer points in his last three games than he did in his first game (40.3 versus 43.1). So it's no wonder this team's scores haven't been so blistering of late. Fortunately, every week, some player shows up with a gonzo score to make sure the squad crosses the 100-point threshold. Last week it was Amari Cooper who went for 44 face-punching points. Cooper must've been storing up points for the winter because the 3rd-year wideout had been anemic to the point of nationwide fantasy frustration for the previous five games. Cam Newton laid a smackdown in Week 4 and bailed the team out for a squeak-by division win in Week 5. HUNTing still has to face the league's top two teams in the final stretch, but the other four opponents are a combined 10-18. But HUNTing has had more points scored against him than any other team above .500. And two of those lame upcoming opponents are among the highest scorers in the league. So HUNTing may need more than one player to go big week-to-week if he wants to survive the upcoming slate.
Div. matchup wks: 8[Blk], 13[Dx]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[X], 11[AM]
[Blk] Black 2-5, 823 pts
Div: 3rd (last)
There's a lack of firepower that is holding this team back. You can basically say, "[INSERT PLAYER HERE] isn't what he used to be" for the whole damn roster. Go ahead. Try it. LeGarrette Blount, DeMarco Murray, Emmanuel Sanders, Danny Amendola. They've all had flashes this season, but have mostly fizzled. The team averages 117.6 per game. When you take out Week 2's 171.6-point bonanza, that average drops 9 points to 108.6. Black only has one below-.500 team left to play on the schedule. That means things are looking dire. QB Drew Brees needs to stop doing just his share and start doing more to carry the team. Last season, Brees had four 40-point fantasy games. This year, he has yet to crack 30. Keeper RB Devonta Freeman has been the true barometer of Black's success. When Freeman gets 20+ fantasy points, Black wins. When he doesn't, well... Black won't need to run the table to get into the playoffs, but he'll need to win at least four of the final six to have a chance.
Div. matchup wks: 8[HFT], 11[Dx]
Conf. matchup wks: 9[DP], 13[X]
And that's the state of the league for this half-season. As always, it's never over until you give up.
Or you lose 8 games. You know, whichever comes first.
~That Bright Side-Looking Mofo~