Reid’s NFL Mailbag: Deflategate, Cowboys, and Vegas, Baby

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

It’s kind of a dead time in the NFL. The draft and free agency are over, rookies are signing their contracts and mini camps are underway, and since players now have things to do, they won’t be getting arrested any more. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and we didn’t even have the usual “bad news dump” on Friday where the NFL announces all the awful stories they hope no one notices like suspensions, fines, and anything having to do with Buffalo.

Time to catch up on current events with another edition of Reid’s Mailbag.

Q: Did Dallas help themselves in the draft?
A: Absolutely! And yet, not at all. Ezekiel Elliott is a stud, and if he lasts past the first round of your fantasy draft, you’re playing with idiots. But is he that much better than anyone else the Cowboys could have put behind that all-star offensive line? Is giving up a first-round pick you could have used on pass rush worth it to get a great running back? Or could the Cowboys get close to the same results with Matt Bellner in their backfield, running with me on his shoulders? Only time will tell, and that “time” is the amount of time opposing quarterbacks have to throw against the Cowboys.

Dallas is in an interesting position, they’ve got about a three-year window with Romo as their quarterback. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. I shouldn’t have to remind you how bad the post-Aikman, pre-Romo era was for Dallas, so I’ll just say “Hey, remember that year Dallas started a quarterback whose name rhymed with ‘Ryan Schleaf?’”

Can the current crop of Cowboys provide enough talent to take advantage of having a top-flight quarterback in that time span? Maybe, but I need to see some pass rush before I’d favor them over the Panthers, Seahawks, or Packers.

Q: What’s going to happen with #Deflate…
A: Oh, please no.
Q:#Deflategate?
A: Well, the legal case that refuses to die rolls onward. Right now the NFL has won the last case, which means Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games of this coming season. Brady has appealed, and his counsel made a very good point about the NFL only fining players for other equipment violations such as using Stickum, so this one could still go on for a while. Possibly years. Maybe decades.

At this point, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind on this case. Originally, I thought Brady was cheating and Goodell’s punishment was just. After reading through all the case work, I still think Brady was cheating, but four games is unprecedented, especially when the NFL has done an awful job of proving anything was done wrong. When it’s all over, this will be a very odd footnote in both Brady’s Hall of Fame career, and the story of the mid-2010’s NFL.

Q: What about Las Vegas?
A: Sounds great! Let me grab my go-bag, and let’s go hit the blackjack table. I’ve got a new scheme I learned from a guy in an airport bathroom. I can’t lose!
Q: No, I was talking about an NFL team there.
A: Oh. Well, that’s something else. The fact that the NFL is actually even discussing the possibility of putting a team in Las Vegas is amazing. For decades, pro sports have rejected any connection to gambling, even while playing to gamblers with things like mandatory injury reports.

Remember Tony Romo’s Fantasy Football Convention last summer in Vegas? Of course not, because the NFL killed it. It’ll be in Pasadena this year in mid-July, and I’ll be there.

In 2016, protecting the NFL from gambling seems to be a dead issue, or at least one they’ll revisit. If the Raiders don’t get a new stadium, they’ll try and bolt to Vegas, and I’d put even money they’d be successful in doing so. The NFL seems to be putting the thought of a new market over the old concerns about associating with the gambling industry.

Of course, now you don’t have to go to Vegas to lose money betting on sports. You can do it from your home. You can lose big money on fantasy football for a season, or lose it week-to-week playing Fanduel and Draft Kings. ESPN is now openly talking about point spreads. The NFL can’t just pretend it doesn’t happen, especially since it drives a significant portion of their fan interest.

And by “significant portion,” I mean me, and this column, and my retirement account. Which thanks to my long careers in television and radio, will allow me to live in comfort for the rest of my years, as long as I get hit by a bus no later than the weekend after I retire.

- Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s novel “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” is available from Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

Dotdon’s Fantasy Football Preview

By Tony James
PSDC Contributor

It’s that time of year again. The weather gets a bit cooler, kids return to school and the rest of us prepare our minds and bodies for football. No, not playing football—elite athletes do that. I’m talking about fantasy football, the true test of a man’s heart and genius.

This article will give you a picture of who you may be able to steal early in your fantasy football draft this year, or, if you’ve drafted already, who you can pick up on the waiver wire now before they make a giant impact and disappear to another competitor before your eyes.

RUNNING BACKS

Depending on the size of your league and scoring rules, RB could be the thinnest of all positions and the most important to grab early and for depth. Although there are rare exceptions, generally speaking you need at least one good RB to win any league. With more and more “RB by committee” teams the pack of workhorse backs continues to dwindle. The key to becoming a consistent champion (like me) is spotting and nabbing RBs that emerge due to injury, opportunity or are poised for a breakout year. It is important to claim them now or at your draft so you’re not in a bidding war or relying on waiver-wire priority. Here are some breakouts and sleepers to target in 2015:

BREAKOUTS

1. Lamar Miller, Miami - Miller is poised to have a fantastic season. Ryan Tannehill is progressing as a QB, producing solid stats and improving year after year. Lamar Miller will be a top 8 RB this year in that Miami offense, so don’t be afraid to reach for him if needed.

Lamar-Miller-Dolphins

2. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay - Martin is quietly going in the sixth to eighth round of most mock drafts at this point, which is an absolute steal. Martin is shifty and fast. His down year last year was ended by injury, but he has great RB1 potential. Add in the WR corps and a rookie QB that is adept at moving the sticks for first downs, Martin could see top 15 production easily. [Read more…]

Fantasy Fallout: NFL Draft

By Matt Rogers
PSDC Fantasy Expert

Greetings, Project Shanks Nation!

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The NFL Draft is in the books. Teams have had a first look at their new blood in rookie mini-camps. Now it is time to exhale, relax and consider what we all really care about. Which of these rookies will help us win our fantasy football league this year? That is the burning question. That is my cue. I am Project Shanks’ fantasy expert, here with the ointment of knowledge to cool that burning sensation. I’m here to tell you who will help you win and who will help the other guys lose. By all accounts this draft was better than last year, but looks can be deceiving when it comes to fantasy football. So, shall we begin? [Read more…]

Fantasy Fallout: End of Football Season Review

By Matt Rogers
PSDC Fantasy Football Expert

Happy New Year Project Shanks Nation!

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I thought it would be a good idea to hit you folks one more time with a complete wrap up of the season. By now all the celebration and heartache should be concluded. So maybe the pain of a losing season will sting a little bit less. All things considered, I have to view this season as a personal success. I lost my mind during the registration period and committed to six fantasy football leagues. The settings for each league varied, but each league was stocked with quality competition. So it was a brutal year.

In the end, I walked away with one championship after making the playoffs in five of six leagues. My lone title came in my Dynasty League. I finished the regular season in second placed and faced off with the first place team in the finals, just as it should be. I was without my franchise QB, Aaron Rodgers, in the second half of the season, but when the dust settled, I was the last man standing. [Read more…]

Fantasy Fallout: Playoffs – Round 1

By Matt Rogers
PSDC Fantasy Football Expert

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I lack the words to describe how happy I am that this weekend of football is over. Don’t get me wrong. I loved watching all the snow games. It was great for real football. My fantasy teams took a beating though. It was really ugly. If it hadn’t been for earing byes in two leagues through stellar regular season performances, I would be completely down and out right now. As it is, I went 1-2 on the weekend and hope is still alive in three leagues. This is how it played out.

My keeper league team dropped like Kardashians at a hoedown. After finishing the regular season on a two-game losing streak and falling from first to third, my boys didn’t bother showing up for the opening round. The matchup was completely over by the time Romo took the field last night. So his 20.53 did little to help and I lost by over 34 points. AJ Green did his job with 12.30 points but there wasn’t another player on my offense that topped nine points, and only one of my IDPs hit the eight-point mark. It was a pitiful end. [Read more…]

Fantasy Fallout: Regular Season Recap

By Matt Rogers
PSDC Fantasy Football Expert

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We have successfully navigated the regular season for fantasy football. Sure some odd ball leagues may still play regular season matchups this week, but they don’t really count. Any league playing this week is doing one of two things. They are adding an extra week to the regular season and only having a two-week, four-team playoff or they are running the playoffs through Week 17. Either case is pretty stupid. So we’ll ignore those situations and move on as if the regular season has ended and the playoffs are starting.

It pains me to report that my teams crawled to the finish line instead of finishing strong. Week 12 was acceptable. Working through the final week of byes, my teams went 3-3 and all was well. Then Thanksgiving hit and the tryptophan whipped my ass. For the first time all year, my six-pack fell flat and only had one team manage a win in the final week of action. Despite my teams going 1-5 in Week 13, I was pretty much already set for the playoffs. Plus, my lone win of Week 13 earned the top seed in my money league along with a first round bye. So there really isn’t much to complain about.

This is how my teams wrapped up the season:

Money League: 10-3, First place in the regular season and a first round bye.
Dynasty League: 9-4, Second place overall and a first round bye.
16-Team Keeper: 9-4, Third place and face the six seed in the opening round of an 8-team playoff.
Biggy League: 7-6, Sixth place and face the three seed in the opening round of a 6-team playoff.
Lounge League: 6-7, Seventh place and face the second seed in the opening round of an 8-team playoff.
UCIL Keeper: 6-7, 11th place and missed the playoffs.

Yes, all in all, it has been a fine season for my fantasy football teams. There is no way I’ll play in six leagues next year. It was a lot to track and manage. I only have three teams to focus on this week. Hopefully they will still be active next week when the semi-finals start in the Money and Dynasty leagues.

For now, I’m going to take a little time to reflect on the regular season and look at who helped us all make these playoff runs and who left us wondering where we went wrong.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS

Best QB:

Peyton Manning was hands down the best fantasy QB in the regular season, leading the world with 325.13 total points scored and a 27.09 point per game average. Since the fantasy playoffs take place during the NFL regular season, teams shouldn’t be worried about a playoff letdown from Manning.

Drew Brees finished the regular season ranked second in total points and points per game. I have no idea what the hell happened to him Sunday night against Seattle. I don’t own Brees in any of my leagues, but anyone who does should just be thankful he didn’t run into the Seahawks during the fantasy playoffs.

Matthew Stafford was just behind Brees ranking third in total points and points per game. Stafford is young, healthy and gifted. It doesn’t hurt that he has the best WR in the game as well. The improvement in the Lions running game with Bush and Bell continues to keep the field wide open for Stafford. [Read more…]

Fantasy Fallout: Week 11 Review

By Matt Rogers
PSDC Fantasy Football Expert

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Let me begin with a quick, painful stat correction from Week 10. When I wrote my bit last week I had a win in our Dynasty league by 0.09. The next day Yahoo entered a stat correction which cost me that narrow margin of victory. So my final count for Week 10 ended up being 4-2 instead of 5-1. I stayed in second place with an 8-2 record in the Dynasty league, but losing a close one always sucks. Screw you, Yahoo!

Week 11 offered much of the same. My teams walked away from the weekend 4-2. I hold down first place in two leagues and clinched a playoff spot in both of those leagues. Despite yet another close loss in the Dynasty league, I’m holding down second place in there and anxiously awaiting the return of Aaron Rodgers. I have a three-game win streak going in another league that has me in second place. Then my other two leagues find me in sixth and 10th place. So I’m still on track to make the playoffs in 5 of 6 leagues. [Read more…]

Fantasy Fallout: Week 9 & 10 Review

By Matt Rogers
PSDC Fantasy Football Expert

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Greetings folks, I have returned. I know you missed me and I apologize. It couldn’t be helped. Sometimes you just have to take a break and enjoy life. That’s why I didn’t get you a review of Week 9 or offer up any assistance for Week 10. Have no fear. I have returned to take a look back at the past couple of weeks and will try to offer some assistance for the stretch run. First, you know I have to brag on my teams.

In Week 9 my teams went 4-2. Then we ran up a 5-1 record in Week 10. That puts me in first place in two leagues, third in another (but four of us have the same record), third outright in another, sixth in another and bringing up the rear is my one injury riddled, suck ass team sitting in 10th. Overall, I have nothing to complain about. Of six teams, I have five in playoff position with two or three lined up for first round byes.

Now we all stand at the starting gate of the final three-week run to close this thing out. Four teams still have byes, but they are spread out. The trade deadline for most leagues is this coming Friday. This is it. This is your last chance to make a move. The middle of the pack will separate over the next three weeks. There is little time left for comebacks. The time to sink or swim is now. I wish you all the best of luck.

Now, let’s run through a quick review of the past two weeks and jump into finding you all some help.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS

Week 9 MVP

Nick Foles pretty much set the world on fire this week and is opening eyes around the league. He almost matched Peyton Manning’s Week 1 fantasy output, falling just 0.34 points shy. Had I actually written this following Week 9, I may have cautioned you to proceed slowly before jumping on the Foles’ bandwagon. After seeing his follow up performance in Week 10, it is clear Foles is for real and Vick should put his Philly house on the market. I fear what this means for the Cowboys in Week 17.  [Read more…]

Fantasy Fallout: Week 8 Review

By Matt Rogers
PSDC Fantasy Football Expert

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Damn son, Week 8 was rough. I was lucky to escape with a 4-2 record. I have to admit, one of those wins was a surprise. I had chalked up a loss entering the weekend because I was playing a couple backups at RB due to injury and byes. Then low and behold, Matt Stafford and that beast named Megatron went off. Instead of losing, I scored the most points of the weekend and took over first place in that league.

By the time the curtains fell on Monday night, five of my teams sat in playoff contention. Unfortunately, my weak team took another loss and is damn near done at 3-5. My best players are lost to injury and it is a low activity league. So there is no salvation for that team. It makes it easier to figure out which league to withdraw from next year. My 4-4 team isn’t far behind. Another loss there and I’m on the way out.

Anyway, that’s enough about my success or lack thereof. Week one of the bye week gauntlet is in the books. I hope you found some gems to lead you through. Now we have another killer week with six teams out of action. As with last week, this will either sink some teams further into depression, or allow them to steal a win against a shorthanded team and keep hope alive. Surely the trade deadline looms in your league. This is your best chance to make a move or two if you plan to do anything this year.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS

Even though we had a pair of QBs throw for five TDs and an emerging secondary WR haul in an unprecedented four TDs, I have to tip my hat to the guy who had more receiving yards than damn near every team in the league this weekend. Calvin Johnson is a complete and total beast. I really want to thank Dez Bryant for lighting a fire under this guy. It greatly helped my fantasy team this weekend.

Sean Lee continues to make his case for Defensive Player of the Year and is now the leading IDP scorer in the league. Here is a scary thought. Lee is doing all of this without having even gotten to the QB. He is a tackling machine that may be the best cover LB in the game at this point. He has four INTs and six passes defended and his next opponent is coming with another weak passing attack. You may salivate now.

Here is your Week 8 MVP Team. [Read more…]

Fantasy Fallout: Week 7 Review

By Matt Rogers
PSDC Fantasy Football Expert

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Greetings to the Project Shanks Nation! It was another good week for the Redneck. My six pack of teams went 5-1 and things are looking good. I survived a couple of scares and managed a couple of blowouts. I sit at 6-1 in my Dynasty league despite suffering some bad injuries to Jay Cutler and Reggie Wayne. My keeper team held a 15-point league against Adrian Peterson on Monday night. My two weakest teams have each tallied back to back wins to bring me up to 4-3. All in all, my teams are in good shape.

OK, not absolutely everything is great. The one loss I took this weekend drove a team down to 3-4 on the season and I lost multiple players to injury, including my alleged star RB, Doug Martin. It may be time to call in the dogs and piss on the fire in that league. Or it may be time to overhaul that team and try to make a run. This weekend will be the key for turning that team around, and a lot of you are in the same boat. We sink or swim. 4-4 offers hope of making a late playoff run. 3-5 leads to planning for next year. [Read more…]

Fantasy Fallout: Week 6 Review

By Matt Rogers
PSDC Fantasy Football Expert

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Hello Project Shanks Nation. It’s that time of the week where I spread my Redneck Rhetoric about Fantasy Football. Life is good, life is good! The Cowboys scraped together another win and sit primed to finish 8-8 for the fourth year in a row, which may just be good enough to win that scrap heap known as the NFC East. Fall is in the air, and I can hear the squeak of sneakers on hardwood. Basketball will tip off soon, and my Rockets look better than they have in a long, so very long time. Yes, life is good.

On the fantasy front, I continue to have a good football year. My six-pack of teams went 4-2 this weekend, including a couple key wins by my struggling teams which brought me back above .500 in all leagues. I’m 5-1 in my Dynasty league, 4-2 in both my Keeper and Money leagues, then the rest are 3-3. I vowed to pay more attention to my two weakest teams last week. I took some of my own advice regarding bye week fill-ins, made some roster changes and pulled off a trade. Both of those teams won as a result.

We are pretty much at the half-way point for Fantasy Football. Most leagues play a 13-week schedule. I hear some only play 12, but I have never played in one of those. If you happen to be one of the sad sacks sitting at 0-6 or 1-5, well please just continue to field the best team you can as you prepare for Fantasy Basketball. 2-4 teams face their last chance to make a leap back into contention. 3-3 teams control their own destiny. If you are 4-2, 5-1 or 6-0, just don’t screw it up. The season is yours and life is good.

Now, shall we proceed on to looking back at last week and forward to the next? I think we shall.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS

I have to tip my hat this week to Cam Newton. I have no idea what kind of coaching went on during the Panthers’ bye week, but the results were clear. Cam shredded the Vikings’ defense, both on the ground and through the air scoring four total TDs and amassing 32.05 fantasy points to lead all scorers.

On the other side of the ball, I have two shout-outs. First, to Jason McCourty who finally had a game of significance with 21.57 points. Second, to Jason Hatcher who, although he is the lowest scored on this entire list, scored 11.50 points with matched the total of the top five most highly owned DLs in the game COMBINED. [Read more…]

Fantasy Fallout: Week 5 Review

By Matt Rogers
PSDC Fantasy Football Expert

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I was let down by a couple of teams this weekend. I still went 3-3 but took a loss that hurt. There is nothing worse than losing with points on the bench. Calvin Johnson was a game day scratch, and I swear I never saw his name pop up on any injury report all week. So I ended up with a zero at WR while a guy on my bench posted 13 points. I also chose wrong on a late RB swap and the guy I left on my bench outscored my starter by about five points. Yeah, I lost by 17. That one stings a bit.

Overall, I have two teams sitting at 2-3 and am a bit concerned about them. Both are in re-draft leagues. So I probably didn’t put as much thought into them as I should have. I sit at 4-1 in two leagues and 3-2 in the others. Those four leagues are keepers, a dynasty league and my lone money league. So it is hard to be too unhappy at this point. Next year, I will not play in this many leagues. For now, my goal remains the same. I will overcome the miscues and slow starts to make the playoffs in all six leagues.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS

I know people are going to bag on Tony Romo for his late interception. Those people are idiots. Tony had the greatest day of any Cowboys’ QB ever. He completed 69% of his passes for 506 yards, five TDs and a league leading 43.12 fantasy points. Yes, he threw a late interception that left many fans, self-included, broken hearted. However, that is the real world. This is fantasy. In the fantasy realm, Romo Ruled! [Read more…]