Close But No Cigar

The Rams won! They weren’t spectacular, and they couldn’t get any offense going, but they won 9-3! And they beat the Seahawks, even! You know how happy that would make me even if it wasn’t a divisional rivalry! Their first home game in Los Angeles in two decades, and they won it. They won!

And the Bruins too! They even outplayed their opponent BYU for (very nearly) the entire game! On the road, no less! Their defense was rock-solid, and their offense was productive, and they took the lead early and held it all night. They looked great! I’m so proud of all my boys in blue and gold this weekend!!!

That’s it then, right? Nothing else football related from this past weekend to talk about?

Wait, there is something else?

My own fantasy team?

Not sure what you’re talking about there, I think we’re done here…

Okay, so you caught me. I don’t want to bring up Team BlueAndGold because… it was another loss for me this week. I’m reassured by the fact that it was a much closer loss, and by the fact that much of what I needed to happen did happen. But it’s still a loss. And going 0-2 is no fun.

Here’s the box score so you can see how it all broke down:

w2-results-shot

I know that the QB scores probably jump out at you first of all – they certainly jump out at me – but let’s leave that alone for a moment and focus on the positives. My running backs are amazing. Ezekiel Elliott is a rookie all-star, reliably overperforming for me every week. Melvin Gordon is killing it, 17 points again this week. I’m not sure that I can count on him crushing it like that every week, even though with Danny Woodhead’s injury he now has the #1 spot on the Chargers’ depth chart, but if he even comes in at half of that reliably he’s a killer RB2. I mean, my opponent got 10 points out of his running backs. I got 29. And that doesn’t even count Frank Gore, who was on my bench this week and had 11. This is a position of strength for me, and hopefully will remain so going forward.

WR is not as strong, or wasn’t this week anyway. A.J. Green should be better than a 3-point performance. As a reminder, he had 24 in Week One. But this week he had the rivalry game against the Steelers, in Pittsburg. I get why his performance was depressed, and it won’t be that low again, I’m sure of it. Julian Edelman again turned in 7 points, which I don’t feel is enough for him season-long but is probably about what it’s fair to expect from him while the Patriots are in this limbo of Brady’s suspension. It’s just another way that I expect my Week Five performance to dramatically improve. My team is weak in several ways while Brady’s out, and that’s a shame, but it should be correspondingly strong when he gets back.

The disappointment for me so far in WRs is Randall Cobb, who has been my flex guy for Weeks One and Two and has given me 6 and 4 points respectively. I’m not sure he’ll be my flex guy for Week Three. I can play a WR, an RB, or a TE in the flex position, and I’m leaning towards moving one of my kick-ass RBs into that slot. (Frank Gore would fit nicely here, at least until I have to start getting creative when the bye weeks come.) It’s going to be a matchup-by-matchup decision, probably, so we’ll revisit this decision later on in the week when it’s time to review matchups.

My tight end showed improvement, even though I could have wished for better. It’s hard to be thrilled with 3 points. But it’s more than zero, which is where he was Week One. Of course, his (second) QB Josh McCown is injured now, so I have no earthly idea what to expect going forward. I want to give it another week or two before I panic here, but it would behoove me to look at waiver and trade options.

My defense and kicker, however, are stone-cold killers. 15 points on defense?!? 11 from a kicker?!?!? These are insanely solid scores. I’m even more thrilled with the fact that the Texans have given me double-digit scores in both of the first two weeks. That’s the kind of consistency I need right now. And I love having a piece of Arizona’s explosive offense. Every time they score a touchdown, my man Catanzaro is there to kick the extra point through and give me another point. If they end up with a field goal instead, that’s just more points for me. Arizona scores high, and every time they do, I score too. I love it.

So how did I lose?

Well, my opponent outfoxed me and did something I didn’t expect, but probably should have. He picked up a new tight end when Rob Gronkowski was officially called out for Sunday instead of relying on the one he had on the bench. And it was a good pickup too, giving him 10 points there. (Now, as it turns out, that backup TE he didn’t play also went for 10 points on Sunday, so I’d lose either way, but still.) This is a good lesson to me, to think week-to-week and not season-long on the makeup of my team. I’ll try to apply that going forward. Alex Smith solves a QB problem for me in Week Nine, but as it turns out he created one for me in Week Two, so I probably shouldn’t have gone in his direction so early. I should have looked for a QB with a weak matchup instead and played opportunistically.

Which leads us into the QB position. Alex Smith severely underperformed for me this week, there’s just no getting around it. The silver lining there is that he was facing the Texans defense, and even his failures helped me by adding points to my defense. But I hated watching that game, feeling helpless as my scoring opportunities cannibalized each other. In my quest to be both a football fan and a fantasy owner at the same time, this was a failure. I will be trying to avoid putting myself in that position again if at all possible.

Then there’s Tyrod Taylor. Sweet, enigmatical, almost bipolar Tyrod Taylor. I don’t understand what’s going on with him or his offense, which is why I don’t even feel bad about sitting him even though he went for 23 points this week. I would have won, easily, if I’d stuck with him instead of jumping ship. And yet, like I said, I don’t feel bad about it.

QB scoring works like this: I get 1 point for every 25 yards passing a QB has, plus 4 points per touchdown they throw. I lose points if they fumble or throw an interception – 2 points each. If they rush, too, I get points for that – 1 point per 10 yards and 6 points per TD, the same as a running back (or a receiver) – but the primary scoring opportunity for most QBs (particularly mine) is the passing game. For most of the game, by this metric, Taylor was unspectacular. About 145 yards passing, one touchdown, one interception, about 20 yards rushing. 9 points.

He had two lucky plays, however, that lifted him. Two long touchdown passes that added 150 yards worth of passing and two TDs onto his stats. 14 of his 23 points came on those two plays alone. Without those, he’s as mediocre as ever.

Can I count on him to hit shots like that every week? Or will he miss them, like he did in Week One, and leave me bereft? He’s too inconsistent so far for me to be comfortable playing him. So I’ll be looking to trade him this week, while his value might be higher, or to keep holding onto him until I understand his offense better and know the right way to use him.

Which leaves me with a question mark again at QB this week. It’s going to be a headache trying to solve that one.

One last lesson from this week’s scores that I want to take away, and that’s reviewing the performance of my foe from Week One, Team Coleman.

coleman-w2-shot

Reach your mind all the way back and compare his Week One and Week Two performances. 137 points in the first week, led by absolutely amazing performances by Andrew Luck (35), Kelvin Benjamin (15) and a pair of Pittsburg weapons, RB DeAngelo Williams (28) and WR Antonio Brown (24). He made some trades this week, so Williams and Benjamin are no longer on his team, and the guys he played in place of them, Jeremy Langford and Willie Snead, were downgrades. But the biggest things that hurt him were the much-worse performances by Luck (9) and Brown (3).

Team Coleman was the highest-scoring team in my league last week. This week he’s the caboose.

That’s not an indictment of making trades or making moves. It’s the two guys he didn’t trade who hurt him more than the two guys he did. It’s an indictment of being caught up in a week-to-week score. Everything fluctuates. It’s unpredictable. Even a crystal-clear #1 draft pick like Antonio Brown can have a dismal week. He can have it at the same time that your no-brainer-awesome QB has his own dismal week. Even amazing players like those two don’t come with guarantees.

So much of this is luck. There’s skill too, and I can work on controlling the things I can control to improve my standing, but so much of this is luck. And eventually, if I keep improving on the skill stuff, the luck has to turn my way.

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2 thoughts on “Close But No Cigar

  1. Best line of the blog: “My tight end showed improvement…”

    Too bad you lost again, but it was a close one. I’m feeling good about next week.

    Like

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