Friday, October 24, 2014

The Randomly Timed 2014 FGR Quarterback Rankings

As complicated as the NFL has become of late with its read-option offenses, its elaborate defensive schemes, it's make it up as we go personal conduct policy and its campaign to raise breast cancer awareness by selling pink stuff and then pocketing most of the profits,* it's ultimately a very straight-forward league with one simple question at the heart of it. "Do you have a quarterback who can win the Super Bowl?" Well, do you? Let's run through all thirty-two teams and see who's set at the most important athletic position on Earth and who's stuck on the Jay Cutler Roller Coaster from Hell. From the top Maestro!


Eli gets a spot at the adult table
until he retires. Deal with it.
Right out of the gate we're going to grandfather in everyone who has been to the Super Bowl over the last three years because (a) if you've made it there, you're probably capable of winning it (and in fact, everyone in this group has except Colin Kaepernick), (b) you've been so recently that you probably have enough in the tank to go again and (c) that's as far back as we could go before running into Ben Roethlisberger (we'll get to him later). This group includes Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco, Kaepernick, Eli Manning and Tom Brady. If you have one of these guys, you may not be going on your dream date but you know you've got a shot. You also know that no one in the next group will be available so you've really got nowhere else to go (and no, I will never pass-up an opportunity to insert that clip).


Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck and (without a ton of conviction) Drew Brees . . . This category was going to be reserved for the players who would be included in the discussion of "if you could have any quarterback to start your team with today, who would it be?" and then I realized I hadn't found a spot for Brees so I snuck him in through the kitchen. Rodgers is obvious because he just won a Super Bowl four years ago with a seriously clutch performance, he's at the top of his game right now and he's only thirty years old which means that you probably have at least a five year window. Luck is equally as obvious because, unless you put him on a team that is clueless in the fine art of drafting and signing men who are good at football (currently the Jets, Raiders, Jaguars and Buccaneers . . . and by "currently," I mean since 2011), then he is going to take you to the playoffs at least four out of every five years and the more you go, the better shot you have to pull-off a winning run (no, I am not a scientist . . . I just know things like that). As for Brees, let's say that if the window is still open, it's just enough so the dog can get some air while you run into 7-11 for smokes and a Slurpee.** Out of respect for the ring he's already won and the fact that he's one of the few quarterbacks in the league who can outscore having Rob Ryan coach his team's defense, we'll continue to rank him among the elite.


Alex Smith and Nick Foles . . . Johnson and Dilfer proved that, if you support your quarterback with a lights-out defense and a decent running game, all you really need from him to win the Super Bowl is the threat of being successful without the reality of turnovers. In their two wins, Johnson and Dilfer combined for 3 touchdown passes, 1 interception and 368 yards while their defenses created a combined 10 turnovers and held their opponents to 3 points that mattered. (The Raiders scored first against the Bucs to take a 3-0 lead and then proceeded to fall behind 34-3 before they scored again. The Ravens defense actually shut-out the Giants who only scored on a relatively meaningless kickoff return touchdown). Smith and Foles are better quarterbacks than Johnson and Dilfer ever were but they would have to be because they don't have those dominating defenses and they each have a historical burden to overcome. For Smith, it's Andy Reid and for Foles it's being the quarterback of a team that everyone fully expects to blow it in the end . . . especially its own fans.

MAYBE . . . OK . . . YES . . . WAIT . . . I MEAN NO . . . SHIT, I DON'T KNOW

Tony Romo and Phillip Rivers . . . Rivers and Romo are currently ranked 2nd and 3rd in QBR (the ESPN concocted quarterback rating system that has become all the rage among ESPN NFL analysts but, for some reason, doesn't seem to be catching-on elsewhere). Rivers has actually been on some Super Bowl caliber teams and come-up short for a variety of reasons, most notably Marty Schottenheimer and Norv Turner who could have coached the '85 Bears to a first round upset. 
"Told you we shouldn't draft
Johnny Football heh heh heh."

Romo may actually belong in the next category but for some reason I see him as this generation's Steve Young (note that I wrote that before looking-up the fact that Young's career passer rating was 96.8 and Romo's is currently 96.3 . . . maybe I am a scientist). Let's put it this way, you don't give-up on a quarterback who has been as consistently solid as Romo with the suspect offensive lines they've given him before this year. Even Jerry Jones recognizes that which means it's fairly obvious.   

And that covers the quarterbacks who currently give their team a shot. Sorry if your guy's name hasn't come up yet.


Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton . . . We could also have called this group all kinds of things inspired by their collective abilities to not win playoff games but I never pass-up the opportunity for a Top Gun reference especially when I just introduced the next generation to it a couple weeks ago (mixed reviews with a big thumbs-up from FGK2 and early departures by FGK1 and FGK3. We'll excuse the latter because she is a seven year girl and probably not the intended target audience for a 1986 movie about Navy fighter pilots). If for some inexplicable reason you haven't seen Top Gun or worse, you've forgotten the exchange, here's how it went down:

Jester: Fitness report says it all. He's a wild card. Completely unpredictable.
(Some non-relevant dialogue that doesn't help prove my point).
Viper: Tell me, if you had to go into battle, would you want him with you?
Jester: I just don't know.   

Pretty much sums-up the five quarterbacks in this group right? I see Jay Cutler as the poster boy, especially after last week's debacle against the Dolphins. His enduring legacy will be the guy who was thrown into the most fantasy football trade offers to make them look better than they really were. "OK, but what about T.Y. Hilton AND Jay Cutler for Marshawn Lynch?" To paraphrase Gordon Gecko (staying with the 80's movie theme) Ryan, Dalton, Stafford and Newton might be a shade better than Cutler but really they're just dogs with different fleas. 


Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer . . . This category is for the guys who have either won a Super Bowl or at one time had dreams of Lombardi Trophies dancing in fans' heads but have since lost their fastball. (The reference in the title is to my favorite This is Sportcenter ad of all-time which you can check-out here). Roethlisberger looks like a heavyweight boxer hanging-on for one too many paychecks and watching Palmer play is like watching your kid ride a bike down a steep hill for the first time. "JESUS WATCH THE POTHOLE!!!"   


Might want to return that call from
Maxim while you're still relevant.
Ryan Tannehill . . . This is only Tannehill's third season and he hasn't quite shown the bust potential of the crew we're about to get to in our next category but he ain't Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson either. Then again, he is married to Mrs. Ryan Tannehill so we're going to give him the benefit of the doubt.


Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Orton, Mike Glennon and Brian Hoyer . . . These guys are like seat fillers at the Oscars and, in most cases, the team and the fans know it. They're either waiting for a recent draft pick to get his shot or for next year's draft to yield new hope. The exception of course is Hoyer because anytime the Browns stumble onto a quarterback who can throw a five yard pass on 3rd and 9 AND chew gum at the same time, they convince themselves they've found their savior. (See also: Derek Anderson, Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy, Charlie Frye and Kelly Holcomb).


RG, III, Sam Bradford, Jake Locker, E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith . . . Every time a head coach is fired for putting his life savings on the rookie quarterback roulette wheel spot and coming-up empty, a new head coaching job is created. Thanks to these five young quarterbacks, Mike Shanahan, Steve Spagnuolo and Mike Munchak are already gone while Doug Marrone and Rex Ryan will not be far behind. Coaches who don't fall ass backwards into a Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers like John Fox and Mike McCarthy did often find themselves in a Catch-22 where the general manager who drafts a crappy quarterback then has to cover his ass and, because he can't fire the quarterback he just drafted (because that would be an admission of failure), he fires the coach. That was one of the reasons the end of the Shanahan era in Washington was so entertaining. He picked and coached the quarterback and, when things went south, he basicallly did everything but start calling Dan Snyder "shorty pants" to get himself fired so he could keep the $5M or so left on his deal and watch the current Redskins train wreck from a beach somewhere. There's a lesson in there somewhere about hiring 60+ year old coaches who already have two Super Bowl rings and a year round tan.


Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater . . . So far, none of these three newbies have shown the instant gravitas that we felt with Wilson, Luck and Kaepernick but that doesn't mean they won't one day rise into the Alex Smith/Nick Foles category. If there is one lesson that we should be learning, however (other than the 60 year old tan coach lesson), it is that you don't want to draft a quarterback with a spindly/fragile base a la RG, III, Sam Bradford and Jake Locker which does not portend well for Bridgewater who looks like he could get broken in half on every play. Remember kids, 80% of life is just showing-up and every team in the league is one hit away from being 4-12 so durability counts (cut to every Redskins fan nodding). Come to think of it, after accuracy and arm strength, there may not be a more critical scouting component for quarterbacks than "looks fat in those jeans."


So that's thirteen out of thirty-two teams that have the goods under center to win the title. Even if you moved a few more borderline guys like Roethlisberger, Newton and Stafford into that category, that would still only be half the league. For the rest it's back to the scouting trail to try to find the next Wilson, Rodgers or Brady. Well except for the Browns who will continue to prove Segal's law that the team with one starting quarterback has a starting quarterback while the team with two starting quarterbacks has none.***


Come on NFL . . . your
moral compass is now
actually spinning.
* According to this Business Insider article, only about 8% of the money collected through the sale of NFL pink merchandise actually goes to cancer research while about 87.5% of the money goes to the retailer and the manufacturer of the merchandise. That doesn't seem too egregious until you consider the amount of NFL merchandise that is sold by the NFL making them the "retailer" in that scenario. Oh NFL, you've done it again.

** Is there a more underrated "refreshment" than the Slurpee? Ten times better than a crappy Sno-Ball, lighter than a milkshake and more satisfying than a soda. Maybe it would have enjoyed greater success if its name didn't sound like a porn search term.

*** Segal's law is actually that a man with one watch always knows what time its is while a man with two watches is never sure but you get the picture.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The FGR Week 8 NFL Picks

Last week's 10-5 shindig partially dislodged the writer's block and inspired some real content which will appear in Friday's edition of the FGR. Today, however, we'll take care of the administrative side and see if we can continue climbing-out of our early season crater.

Who's excited for a Sunday
night shootout? I am.
Denver by 7.5 over San Diego: The Pick - Broncos 
Detroit by 4 over Atlanta: The Pick - Lions
Tampa Bay by 2.5 over Minnesota: The Pick - Bucs
New England by 6.5 over Chicago: The Pick - Bears
Kansas City by 6.5 over St. Louis: The Pick - Chiefs
Seattle by 4.5 at Carolina: The Pick - Seahawks
N.Y. Jets by 3 over Buffalo: The Pick - Bills
Miami by 5.5 at Jacksonville: The Pick - Jags
Houston by 1 at Tennessee: The Pick - Titans
Cincinnati by 1.5 over Baltimore: The Pick - Ravens
Arizona by 2.5 over Philadelphia: The Pick - Eagles
Indianapolis by 3 at Pittsburgh: The Pick - Colts
Cleveland by 7 over Oakland: The Pick - Browns
New Orleans by 1.5 over Green Bay: The Pick - Pack 
Dallas by 9.5 over Washington: The Pick - Redskins

Last Week's Record: 10-5 . . . 
Season Record: 50-54-1.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

The FGR Week 7 NFL Picks

This week's version of the FGR's latest feature, "The Excuse of the Week" is a two day golf junket to New Jersey which wiped-out about 65 hours of potential writing time between the event, the prep and the recovery. The result is another week of low-rent NFL picks, a Philadelphia area Carrabba's* busboy rocking a pretty sweet RLX golf jacket and the staff of the host club shipping a pair of shoes to me that have now spent more time traveling from country clubs to my house via FedEx than they have on my feet. Many of you will recognize this as the classic George Costanza move of leaving something behind to ensure that you will be invited back. (The similarities between George Costanza and myself are really starting to pile-on. Come to think of it, I may have eaten part of a chocolate eclair off the top of a trash can when I was away . . .or maybe it was a fried shrimp).

So here comes another round of dry picks. The only analysis I could manufacture for any of these games was that (a) the Bengals v. Colts match-up kind of feels like a playoff game which is bad news for Andy Dalton and the Bengals and (b) we need to take a breath before we get too carried away about the Browns' resurgence (I'm looking at you Peter King). They've got close wins over the Saints who might actually be terrible and the Titans who actually are terrible. Last week they crushed the Steelers who show all of the signs of a team with a crumbling foundation. The truth is we may not know how good or bad the Browns really are until they go to Cincinnati on November 6th because they have the NFL's version of a three week kiddie coaster ride upcoming against the Jags, Raiders and Bucs. If there is any rhyme, reason, order or logic left in this league, they'll drop one of those games so we can get back to the business of ignoring them.

Nothing says, "we've got things
heading in the right direction" like
being 5.5 underdogs to the Redskins.
Indianapolis by 3 over Cincinnati: The Pick - Colts
Washington by 5.5 over Tennessee: The Pick - Redskins
Chicago by 3 over Miami: The Pick - Bears
Cleveland by 5.5 at Jacksonville: The Pick - Jags
Seattle by 7 at St. Louis: The Pick - Seahawks
Green Bay by 7 over Carolina: The Pick - Packers
Baltimore by 7 over Atlanta: The Pick - Ravens
Buffalo by 5.5 over Minnesota: The Pick - Vikings
Detroit by 3 over New Orleans: The Pick - Saints
San Diego by 4 over Kansas City: The Pick - Chiefs
Dallas by 6.5 over N.Y. Giants: The Pick - Cowboys
Arizona by 3.5 at Oakland: The Pick - Cardinals
Denver by 6.5 over San Francisco: The Pick - Denver
Pittsburgh by 3.5 over Houston: The Pick - Texans


* We stopped at a Carrabba's on the drive home to catch the last few innings of the inevitable buzz kill that was the O's-Royals game 4. After dropping an entire pizza and a couple glasses of the finest house Cabernet on top of what had already been a fairly debaucherous couple of days, I left without my jacket while feeling bloated and depressed. At least in that moment, I had to acknowledge the wisdom that Dean Wormer bestowed upon Kent Dorfman . . . "hellooooo."

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The FGR Week 7 Thursday Night Pick

New England by 9.5 over N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Patriots

It's all smiles in New England until
their inevitable January demise.
It's time to stop this ridiculous death/rebirth cycle that we've been projecting onto the Patriots for about the past five years. As long as they have Tom Brady and the rest of the AFC East continues to flounder with the likes of Geno Smith, Kyle Orton and Ryan Tannehill, the Pats will keep winning it before eventually running into a playoff opponent who beats them up (Ravens) or outguns them (Broncos). They continue to be who we thought they were. An 11-5 team in a bad division or the NFL's version of the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Rex Ryan will have the Jets up but they're only averaging 16 points per game and they've only cracked 20 once. That's not going to cut it. This looks like another Thursday night massacre in the making.  

Last Week's Record: 6-8 . . . Season Record: 40-49-1

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The FGR Week 6 NFL Picks

The following scenario pretty much sums-up the current state of the NFL. At some point as last week's one o'clock games were all in the third quarter, every single FGR pick except one was either covering or, in the case of the Steelers (playing the hapless Jags), on their way to covering. The one outlier was the Browns who were getting manhandled by the Titans, arguably the worst team in football. This prompted me to say out loud, "serves me right for missing a shot at running the table because I picked the freakin' Browns." What happened next proves that the NFL has overshot parity and reached a point where we have the Seahawks at the top, the Raiders, Jaguars and Titans at the bottom and in the middle there are twenty-eight different shades of carpet stain. Let us review.
  • The Bears had a 21-7 lead over the Panthers with two minutes left in the first half and then played the last thirty-two minutes with their hands around their necks (which was not easy because their heads were up their asses at the time) and lost the game 31-24.
  • The Falcons led the Giants 20-10 halfway through the third quarter. Matty "Ice" and company would not score again and lost 30-20. (I think that nickname is actually starting to fit . . . just not the way it was originally intended).
  •  The Lions were at home and led the Bills 14-3 with two minutes left in the third quarter before losing 17-14. Oh yeah, the Bills quarterback was Kyle Orton. And oh yeah, the Lions are still a joke in the mellowed post Jim Schwartz era.
  • The Eagles led the Rams 34-7 with thirty seconds left in the third quarter. With 1:19 left in the game, the Rams had the ball at midfield down 34-28 after Austin Davis' 43 yard pass to Brian Quick. That was Davis' 97th NFL completion and Quick's 50th NFL catch so we're not exactly talking about Montana to Rice. The Eagles managed to hold-on for the win but blew the cover on the 6.5 point spread. Sons a bitches.
  • If not for the game below, the Saints-Bucs would have taken the cake as first the Saints gagged away a 13-0 first quarter lead before the Bucs gagged a 31-20 fourth quarter lead to eventually lose 37-31 in overtime. Fortunately for the FGR, the spread was 10.5 and I'm on an anti-Saints campaign until they start playing like a team that's at least half as good as they think they are. (Cut to another sideline shot of Rob Ryan playing the role of the worst coordinator in football).
  • And then we had the Browns at the Titans. Cleveland spotted the home team a 28-3 lead with 2:44 left to play in the first half. From that point forward it was 26-0 Cleveland on the strength of three Brian Hoyer touchdown passes, a safety and a Billy Cundiff field goal (and I can tell you from experience, if Billy Cundiff is beating you, it's not your day).
So that is the current NFL environment in which "experts" like myself are forced to pick games. With that being said, ground has been gained over the last few weeks and, with another Thursday night win, Mount .500 is no longer a speck in the distance . . . now it's more of a daunting summit towering over me, daring me, almost taunting me to climb it. (This is the Michael Jordan approach of convincing yourself that your opponent is disrespecting you so you'll be motivated to not just beat him but destroy him. Jordan was like a really angry Sun Tzu). One step at a time. Here we go.

Denver by 9.5 at N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Broncos

I know this is a trap game with a number that high but to cover, the Jets are going to have to score more than 14 points and I just can't see it . . . wait . . . nope, still can't see it.

Cleveland by 2 over Pittsburgh: The Pick - Browns

Forget the spread. One of these teams is going to win 13-10 and not even God knows or cares which one but what he and I do agree on is that there is no way these two teams are going to combine for 47 points. (Psssst . . . take the under). 

Tennessee by 4 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Jags

When I first wrote the lines down on Thursday, this number was 5.5 and then people started trying to concoct scenarios under which the Titans could beat anyone by almost a touchdown. Now it's down to just over a field goal and the scenarios are not much more plausible, even against the Jags. Yikes.

Atlanta by 3 over Chicago: The Pick - Falcons
This just never gets old.

I watched Top Gun for the 47th time the other night and one of my favorite underrated lines is when Viper gets chewed-out by the guy from the tower after Maverick buzzed him and made him do a spit take with his coffee. As he walks by Maverick and Goose, Viper says, "that just about covers the fly-bys" meaning that no more discussion on the topic is warranted. I think we can say the same about the Falcons and the Bears Super Bowl chances in the Matty "Ice" Ryan and "Smokin'" Jay Cutler eras. 

Green Bay by 3.5 at Miami: The Pick - Packers

I'm pretty much locked in on the Packers (and by the Packers, I mean Aaron Rodgers) unless they're more than a seven point favorite on the road against a decent team. The Dolphins' March to 8-8 begins in earnest now.

Detroit by 1.5 at Minnesota: The Pick - Vikings

I would love to make this a one word analysis but I can't figure-out a way to say, "the Lions suck" in one word. TheLionsSuck. Hey, I did it.

Cincinnati by 6.5 over Carolina: The Pick - Bengals

The Bengals probably thought they were hot shit after starting 3-0 and then they came off their bye week and got trounced by the un-killable zombies out of Boston. I still think they're pretty good and now they're pissed . . . or in Marvin Lewis' case, really darned perturbed you guys. 

New England by 3 at Buffalo: The Pick - Patriots
"Want to split some nachos or somethin'."

The Bills have had a nice run off of their new ownership's "WE'RE STAYING IN BUFFALO FOREVER" campaign. Unfortunately, the reality has now set-in for the players that, "we're staying in Buffalo forever."

Baltimore by 3 at Tampa: The Pick - Ravens

Ravens fans who've been through all of the ups and downs know that Joe Flacco and company are good for at least one manure spreading performance on the road (like last week against the Colts) but they rarely have those games back to back. It's going to be a long day for Mike Glennon. 

San Diego by 7 at Oakland: The Pick - Chargers

The Raiders are 0-4 with an average margin of defeat of 13 points per game. The Chargers are 4-1 and their four wins have come by an average of over 17 points. So I guess the number is 7 because this is a rivalry game?

Seattle by 8 over Dallas: The Pick - Seahawks

I had the Cowboys covering here until I remembered that they practically invented the art of convincing people to think that they're good before parking the car in the front lawn, traipsing through the flowerbed and then waking-up the neighbors because they went to the wrong house (not that that makes them bad people).

Arizona by 3.5 over Washington: The Pick - Redskins
"Go Jimmy from the
accounting department!"

I'm going with the Redskins here solely based on the theory that neither of the two guys the Cardinals would prefer to have at quarterback (Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton) will finish the game meaning that it's going to be close, ugly and barely watchable. 

Philadelphia by 3 over N.Y. Giants: The Pick - Giants

Always take the points in an NFC East game unless you have a very good reason not to like it involves Tony Romo trying to secure a playoff spot which is not the case here. 

San Francisco by 3.5 at St. Louis: The Pick - 49ers

So now everyone in the 49ers organization from the owner to the players can't stand Jim Harbaugh. It's funny how when you're so close to someone, it limits your ability to see who they really are, until it hits you in the face like a frying pan. The good thing for the Niners, however, is that they seem to be playing better as the hate meter rises into the red.

Last Week's Record: 8-6-1 . . . Season Record: 34-41-1. 

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Week 6 Thursday Night NFL Pick

Indianapolis by 3 at Houston: The Pick - Colts

"GO YOU %#$*& NERD!!!"
After stumbling out of the gate (pun intended), the Colts have gotten their act together with blowout wins over the hapless Jags and Titans followed by a grinder over the Ravens. Meanwhile, the Texans have proven to be a feisty bunch by going 3-2 despite having Harvard's own Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback but their wins have come against the Raiders, Redskins and Bills (with E.J. Manual at quarterback) a/k/a the dregs of the NFL. This will be the first Thursday night game of the season where the losing team keeps the score within twenty, but not by much. Colts - 31 . . . Texans - 17.

Last Week's Record: 8-6-1 . . . Season Record: 34-41-1. (Thursday night record: 4-1).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The 2014-15 PGA Tour Preview (sort of)

Since the next PGA Tour season technically starts on Thursday, I feel obligated to generate some kind of preview despite the fact that last season literally ended sixteen days ago. I'll be honest, when I look at the tour schedule page for the rest of 2014, I can't tell you with a whole lot of certainty which tournaments are legit and which ones are fluff.  I will assume that if you're starting your fantasy golf season now: (1) you are probably basing your league on FedEx Cup points which will be awarded from the Open through the OHL Classic in November before they take a holiday break until the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and (2) you should probably be writing this post instead of me because you are clearly more invested at this point than I am. (Yeah right, a guest writer . . . good one).

I hereby nominate Dianna Agron to
play you know who's wife in the
movie. Just seems like a good fit.
The most valuable tool for evaluating the upcoming season is probably last season's regular season FedEx Cup standings before the playoff results started screwing with them. You then have to account for players who came on strong like Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk. And then you have to find a place for wild cards like Tiger, Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner but, word to the wise, nothing will crush a fantasy golf squad like injuries, drugs, crazy chicks and, worst of all, complacency (right 2013 Bubba?).

So the way I'm going to handle this is to list my top thirty
based on how I see them finishing the 2015 regular season. Remember that it's tough to accumulate points when you play somewhere else so guys like Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer are at a disadvantage. On the other hand, if you're playing lights-out, it doesn't really matter how many times you tee it up as Rory and Sergio proved. The number in parentheses is where they finished in 2013-14 FedEx Cup regular season points.

1. Rory McIlroy (1): The best player in the world. End of story.

2. Sergio Garcia (7): He's having fun and I expect a big year but do you want to root for him?

3. Jordan Spieth (8): Two seasons and a Ryder Cup under his belt. Now it's time to win more.

4. Matt Kuchar (4): Take him and relax. Picking Kuch is like buying a Subaru.

5. Adam Scott (14): No more Stevie Williams on the bag = no more inferiority complex.

6. Tiger Woods (218): Because this is where you go all-in with pocket tens.

7. Jimmy Walker (2): The Ryder Cup and three wins last season proved he's the real deal.

8. Dustin Johnson (6): Because this is where you go all-in with pocket eights.

9. Rickie Fowler (16): T5, T2, T2 and T3 in the 2014 majors . . . yes please.

10. Justin Rose (18): The U.S. Open hangover should be gone and a second major is imminent.

11. Billy Horschel (69): Playing as well as anyone on the planet (Earth that is).

12. Jim Furyk (5): He'll keep finding a way to threaten the top ten without winning.

13. Chris Kirk (10): He's a lock for the 10-15 spot. The Ryder Cup snub should be a motivator.

14. Henrik Stenson (70): Betting that 2014 was an anomaly and not the start of a tend.

15. Hideki Matsuyama (22): Great all-around game and took home the 2014 Memorial title.

16. Zach Johnson (11): Can't imagine him finishing much lower. God won't allow it.

17. Patrick Reed (9): He'll keep succeeding just to stick it in your face . . . bitch.

18. Keegan Bradley (23): Two year winless drought. He's due for at least one hot week.

19. Jason Dufner (57): Set to play later this month but neck injuries are scary . . . like spiders.

20. Brendon Todd (12): Great putters like Todd tend to lurk around the top 20.*

21. Jason Day (34): Was ready to re-enter the picture and then only played eleven times. Huh?

22. Cameron Tringale (61): My first of three breakthrough picks. Just has the look of a player.

23. Martin Kaymer (14): I could see him finishing in the top five or around fifty-five.

24. Ryan Moore (19): He's going to land around this spot and he's yours if you want him.

25. Ryan Palmer (30): Can bomb it and finally started showing signs of consistency.

26. Brooks Koepka (N/A): Breakthrough No. 2. Finished 12th in the All Around stat category.

27. Hunter Mahan (62): Prime candidate for another baby related slump. Waiting on more intel.

28. Bubba Watson (3): Could be another version of 2013. See above re: "complacency."

29. Phil Mickelson (45): Put some heat on himself at the Ryder Cup which is a good thing.

30. Russell Knox (48): Breakthrough No. 3. Gut feeling. He's from Scotland so he must be good.

So there you have it. We'll revisit this list before the Tournament of Champions when you should be starting your fantasy league anyway (kids today . . . harumph). In the meantime, we'll have the chance to gather a little data to load into the FGR super-computer as I try to keep a low profile while hanging onto the back of the Orioles' bandwagon. 

But I am smiling.

* And in Todd's case, I do mean lurk. Let's hope his highly successful 2014 season gives him enough clout to upgrade that profile picture.

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