Archive for category Football

Someone Shut Marshall Faulk Up and Get Chris Johnson a Contract

According to this report from ESPN, NFL legend Marshall Faulk is encouraging the Chris Johnson Miracle Train to continue holding out for more money.

In the words of early-WWF Chris Jericho, someone should tell Marshall Faulk to pleeeeeease just shut…the hell…UP!

Seriously Marshall, shut up. Yes, Chris Johnson is holding out for more money. I understand that – he was by far the best running back in the NFL last season, and is due to make just $550,000 this season, less than almost every other unning back.

CJ28 deserves more cash, for certain. In the last year of his three year, $12M rookie contract, the Titans are probably open to the idea of an extension, because there’s no way you can risk losing a franchise-altering back like Johnson because you wouldn’t open up the pocketbook. This is the NFL, and everyone has to spend. But Faulk doesn’t think that will happen:

“Without a doubt, if more money is what he wants, he has to hold out,” Faulk, who is now an NFL Network analyst, told the newspaper. “You have to know who you are dealing with. The Titans aren’t known for caving in or paying, it doesn’t matter who you are. In my opinion, there is no way he can come in and play under the current contract.”
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Family, Fixings, and First Downs: NFL Thanksgiving Scattershots

As a Canadian, I joined my countrymen in the giving of thanks over a month ago. But as a sports fan, I cannot help but feel a part of the American version of the holiday. The reason for this is simple: the North American sports leagues flood us with content to coincide with the holiday.

How deep does my commitment to the holiday go? In high school, I had a tradition of playing sick every Thanksgiving Thursday, without fail, so that I could be assured of not missing a moment of watching the Lions get embarrassed and whatever mediocre match-up David Stern threw our way.

Let the most obvious of observations reign: Thanksgiving football is an institution on either side of the border. So, with the day of feasting and family upon us once again, why not use the opportunity to unleash a succession of NFL Tangents.

Nothing captures the spirit of the holiday season like a string of non sequiturs! Onward and upward…
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1st and Five: Quinn v. Anderson, TO v. Media, Leftwich/Garcia, The Lions Roar, and Duckett v. The World

I couldn’t decide on an article topic today, so I’m rolling with five shorter ones in one (what a deal!). I could see this becoming a more common theme here as I struggle for writing time at work, and this style is invariably easier to chip away at. Name suggestions for this style of article are welcome, but for now we’re going with the following (ultra-creative, I know):

NFL: 1st and 5
NHL: Five for Fighting
NBA: Four Point Play
MLB: Four-Ply Wallop

The Brady Quinn Experiment
The Cleveland Browns decided they had had enough of the Brady Quinn Experiment this past Sunday, pulling him in favor of Derek Anderson at halftime. The logic is not that Quinn has made a lot of mistakes over his two-and-a-half game tenure, it’s that he hasn’t made much of anything – he’s shown a fear of passing downfield, and even his check-downs and dump-offs inside of 15 yards have been inaccurate. A 62.9 QB Rating is not cutting it, I guess. The alternate choice is Derek Anderson, a Pro Bowler in 2007 who is, to use a Favrism you’ll all understand, a gunslinger. Just throw it downfield, the motto goes, and it may get picked off (three times in the second half Sunday, for example), but it may net you enough touchdowns to make the Pro Bowl even with a shaky 82.5 QB Rating.
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Tim Tebow: Jaguar Savior?

There are eight months until the 2010 NFL Entry Draft. There are 15 regular season games remaining for every team in the NFL. The NCAA College Football season is but two weeks old.

It is, obviously, very early in the football season. However…

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 0-1. The Jacksonville Jaguars are about to play their first home game of 2009. The Jacksonville Jaguars are about to fail to sell out their first home game of 2009. The Jacksonville Jaguars are about to blackout their first home game of 2009.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, one game into the NFL season, are in a lot of trouble. It’s not on the field, where they played a defensively inspired Week 1 game against Indianapolis and have a top-10 talent in Maurice Jones-Drew to hang their collective hat on, but off the field. Jacksonville is a city no longer supporting its team, leaving them no advertising revenue and forcing the team (by NFL rules) to blackout home games on local television, thereby forcing ownership to consider its options across all strategic platforms.

Owner Wayne Weaver has repeated adamantly that he will not move the team. Instead, they’ve lowered ticket prices, offered flexible season ticket arrangements, lowered concession prices, and tried to create a family-friendly at-the-stadium atmosphere. Nothing has worked.

So the team, eight months in advance of the Draft, is setting the wheels in motion to change the city’s attitude towards it’s team.

Enter Tim Tebow.
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An Open Letter to Chicago Bears Fans


In the life of a sports fan, few days on the calendar are filled with as much hope and optimism as the day the NFL season begins in earnest. It is a kind of Spring in Fall – a new birth, a very real chance for renewal. That first honest gaze on Solider Field (the pre-season does not count, after all) offers restoration of the hopes and dreams of a fan base for the season ahead.

It is fandom at its purest. Not yet exhausted by botched play-calling or inept execution, supports truly believe that anything may lay in wait in the months ahead. Bitterness has not yet made its presence felt and the fates remain unknown.

There are, of course, those that would rather remain guarded and detached as fans and point to the optimism felt on Kickoff Weekend as a false hope, a by-product of the summer-long wait fans endure waiting for the season to begin anew. But I would contend, Bears fans, that there is no such thing as false hope – in sports or in life, you learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow. With the records reset and a season of possibilities available, it is only opportunity that awaits every team (…yes, even the Lions).

That is what makes this such a difficult letter to write. Indeed, I am writing you today as a friend, as someone that understands that you deserve better than the reality you awoke to this morning. Good citizens of New Gotham, the truth you are now faced with is anything but pleasant. I do not like telling you this, but…

Your team’s season is already over.
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Canadian NFL Fans and Changing Favorite Teams

I’m torn. In general, I pride myself on being a good sports fan. I cheer for my teams and only my teams, I try my best to support all local teams, and nobody follows their teams (and sports, in general) quite as closely as I do. I will never and could never turn on the Leafs, Raptors, and Blue Jays (though I still contend you should be able to have a favorite National League team). The only exception, I think, would be if I moved out of the Toronto area (I’m an hour West of Toronto), in which case I’d have to consider following my new local team, at least in tandem with my hometown Toronto teams. Alas, even then I think I’m Toronto-for-life when it comes to sports. (Yes, it’s a sad situation, but I am what I am.)

However, a recent Rick Reilly article has me thinking…about football…and my long-distance adopted Jacksonville Jaguars. After much thought and deliberation, I have settled on a corollary for sports fans looking for a change in their rooting habits: Canadian fans of the National Football League should get one free change of favorite NFL team to use in their lifetime.

Before you call me a bad fan, a fake sports enthusiast, or whatever insults you may throw at a treacherous traitor like myself, hear me out. After all, Canadians following the NFL exist in a very strange sports bubble. We have no local team by virtue of the Canada-United States border. We have a laughable watered down substitute for the sport in the CFL. We have very few local players to root for.

Still, though, the NFL is as prevalent in Canadian sports culture as any other sport, save for hockey. We may not be very good at it, and we may not have been brought up on it, but we unquestionably love it.

So why should we have to spend a lifetime cheering for the wrong team?
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Wide Receiver Field Wide Open

Admittedly, I’ve had a long week, am pretty tired today, and don’t feel completely up to divulging more draft information to my counterparts. Alas, I promised I’d cover all of the major fantasy positions, and we still have the mess at Wide Receiver to sort out. If you missed the first few go ‘rounds, you can find them here:

Tight Ends
Running Backs

For receivers, I can tell you one thing – go with your gut. Oh, I can also tell you that every person in the universe agrees that Larry Fitzgerald should be the top wide out off your draft board. My comment: Word.

Generally, receivers are both easy and difficult to predict. Unlike other positions, receivers follow a more standard career arch, and the effect of scheme, coaching, or quarterback changes are fairly intuitive. At the same time, there is very little collective predictive ability in the fantasy world when it comes to separating receivers on a rank-by-rank basis. That is, it’s near impossible to separate #2 from #5, #11 from #16, #40 from #50, and so on.

What it leaves us with is a wealth of fantasy football advice leading us in all sorts of different directions for receivers, save for Fitzgeezy. So with this admittedly brief analysis, I’m going to point out just how clueless we all are with wide receivers on draft day.
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Navigating Running Backs on the Waiver Wire

CADILLAC WILLIAMS Pictures, Images and PhotosAhhh, running backs. The crux of fantasy football. The be-all, end-all, need-all, must-have commodities of the entire fantasy sports realm. Without three, you are lost. Without two, doomed. Without one, truly damned.

Yes, the collective wisdom in recent years has been that fantasy running backs are an absolute necessity, a treasure, and a God-send. That is, if you have them. Strategists have bought into the RB-RB draft model, preferring to load up on the league’s scarcest (and most talent disparate) position. And this logic has worked, for the most part.

But recent trends in real and fantasy realms have begun to change this thinking. Running back platoons are now the norm, with teams even going as far as to employ a three-headed running back stable. This is obviously frustrating for fantasy owners – while it creates a much larger pool of roster-able running back talent, it also increases parity between running backs, decreases the number of ‘home-run’ draft picks, and makes the position far more difficult to predict and scout.

This change in real-ball philosophy has created a de facto fork in the road for fantasy strategists – stick with the old conventional wisdom and hope that your RB scouting is better than that of your competition, or move to a new way of thinking. This new way of thinking values top WR in the same echelon as running backs, with quarterbacks sneaking back into the discussion. It’s no longer season suicide to go RB-WR-QB, WR-RB-WR, or any other combination not loaded with RBRBRBRBRB.

While this makes leagues a little more open in terms of strategies, and gives those who miss out on top RBs a fighting chance, it doesn’t change the fact that RBs are becoming increasingly difficult to analyze.

Between changing workloads, platoons, injuries, and sly coaches not willing to divulge a shred of in-game strategy for us fantasy deviants, choosing an RB outside of the 15-20 or so who have clear roles is cumbersome. A great deal of fantasy RB posturing, especially in thinner leagues and later weeks, will come down to the waiver wire.

With my ongoing desire to withhold strategic draft information from my league-mates (like in my QB piece, but unlike my TE piece), here is a look at how to approach RBs on the waiver wire.
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"Good QB" Does Not Mean "Good Fantasy QB"

Hey, remember two weeks ago when I said I’d be doing fantasy football position focuses leading up to your draft? It wasn’t a lie, but I’m switching up the format. The last one gave away too much information for free to my league competitors, who all read the site because, well, I’m awesome.

So for today I’m going to focus on a nuance about fantasy football that bothers me a little bit. While not universal, analyzing real football and fantasy football are different beasts. There are things players can do that simply don’t translate to the three or four stats used to accrue points for his position, and nowhere is this more true than at Quarterback (unless you play in an IDP league, in which case you can just ignore me).

Quarterbacks have a strange fantasy history – long considered staples of winning fantasy teams, the RB-RB strategy pushed them down draft boards, and now with the RB point differential shrinking, they are re-entering the conversation as high as the first round. And there is no hiding the studs – everyone wants Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady. Those who don’t get them will convince themselves to follow one of two strategies: optimistically buy into one of the second tier quarterbacks, self-hyping the player to the level of Tier One (and we see this every year); or gamble on two or three lower-tier quarterbacks while promising to ‘play the match-ups’ or ‘let them compete.’

Regardless, without a clear top-tier quarterback, one can be left rather aimless in terms of quarterback strategy. So today’s article has a tip for you: actual on-field performance or results don’t necessarily translate to fantasy gains.
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Navigating the Tight End Landscape

It’s almost time for fantasy football drafts, and so I guess I should provide some coverage for readers who partake. Unfortunately, that means divulging information to competitors since some of my opponents no doubt read this site. With that in mind, I’ve kept away with clear predictions and my own personal feelings, but I will try to assist you in navigating the landscape, position by position.

Today, we start with Tight Ends. Generally, TEs are drafted in this manner: someone jumps on the top guy a little too early, then there is a run on the next few top guys, and then everyone else panics to grab whatever is left. In reality, tight ends are both inconsistent for touchdowns and fairly standard in production once you get outside of the top few guys. So really, the draft should look more like this: someone jumps on the top guy a little too early, then there is a run on the next few top guys, and then everyone else waits it out to draft the 10 or 12 coin-toss TEs later on.

So who are the top guys? To figure it out, I amalgamated the rankings from five different sources to create a composite positional ranking. Again, this is based entirely on the work and predictions of others, not my own, so the value in the below chart extends as far as you think professionals are smarter than me. The sources for these rankings are found at the end of the article.
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