Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 Fantasy Golf Preview Part 1: The Draft Results

I think I've got an idea for how
we could make the "Elf on the
Shelf" slightly less annoying.
Here we go with the first installment in the Fantasy Golf Report's multi-part 2014 PGA Tour preview (I'm going to try to keep this entertaining for those who don't give a rat's ass about fantasy golf). This year we have some added intel as the annual FGR pick six fantasy league drafted the day after Christmas to get the jump on the PGA's early start date (January 3rd) and believe me, nothing makes for a party like gathering a bunch of beleaguered middle-aged dads together at a bar on December 26th. The guy who had the audacity to suggest a round of shots was beaten about the head and then tossed into the street. (Actually that's not true as it would've required more than one person to actually get out of his seat and that wasn't happening).

We powered through six rounds of nineteen teams drafting in a little over forty-five minutes. (Nineteen teams?!? Isn't that too many?!? Won't that dillute the talent pool?!?) I'm glad you asked so emphatically fictional person sitting next to me because it smoothly segues me to the introduction of our new and improved format born out of my desire to keep the league fresh but more out of my refusal to run two leagues this year. By the way, if you want to annoy people, merge two fantasy leagues, change the rules on a week's notice and then schedule the draft for the day after Christmas. Bah hum suck it.

Despite my best efforts, I still had too many people who wanted to play (what can I say? I have a certain charm) so I was left with the choice of (a) telling some past players to go pound sand, or (b) modify the rules. After much deliberation and a miniature version of the FGW on my shoulder telling me not to be a douche as usual (which I thought was a bit uncalled for), I decided to go with (b). But what to do? Nineteen teams would mean guys like Charles Howell, III and Brendon de Jonge would be getting drafted in the second round and, as a matter of principal, I couldn't have that. This called for something truly radical.

I decided from the outset that the basic format would stay the same - draft six golfers in a modified snake draft (top pick goes first in rounds 1, 4 and 5 while the last pick goes first in rounds 2, 3 and 6) but with one major wrinkle (are you ready for it? . . . . are you SURE???). This year as many as two teams could share the same player so that (a) everyone would have more quality players to root for throughout the season and (b) we wouldn't be scraping the bottom of the barrel for the likes of Chez Reavie and Fabian Gomez in the 6th round (no offense guys). Oh and one more thing, Tiger was ruled ineligible again this year because he made 35% more money than the next best player last year and I think he might widen that margin this year, especially if he improves his cheating.*

Here's how it played-out. The order is based on combined draft position for each player's two picks with the spots where he was picked in parenthesis:**

Why not dance this
year's final dance to
. . . the PACHENGA?
1. Matt Kuchar (1st and 4th)
2. Henrik Stenson (2nd and 6th)
3. Adam Scott (3rd and 5th)
4. Brandt Snedeker (8th and 11th)
5. Rory McIlroy (9th and 10th)
6. Phil Mickelson (7th and 13th)
7. Justin Rose (12th and 16th)
8. Steve Stricker (14th and 24th)
9. Jason Dufner (15th and 23rd)
10. Jordan Spieth (19th and 22nd)
11. Keegan Bradley (17th and 26th)
12. Zach Johnson (20th and 25th)
13. Webb Simpson (18th and 29th)
14. Jason Day (21st and 28th)
15. Dustin Johnson (27th and 30th)
16. Bill Haas (31st and 38th)
17. Billy Horschel (32nd and 37th)
18. Hunter Mahan (34th and 35th)
19. Sergio Garcia (36th and 50th)
20. Charl Schwartzel (40th and 42nd)

So if you add the two numbers together and then divide by four, you approximately get the ranking position. I have a loose mathematical understanding of why this is the case but I don't feel like explaining it. Just know that if you have a draft with a similar format, it's going to come out looking something like this. And hey look, here are a few sample rosters that I found intriguing so you can see how this thing shook-out and so I can fill some more space:

4th Pick (My Team)          
1. Matt Kuchar                
2. Hunter Mahan            
Dude stop the cart. You
almost ran over my boner.
3. Graham De Laet          
4. Lee Westwood            
5. Jonas Blixt                  
6. Scott Piercy
               
8th Pick
1. Brandt Snedeker
2. Bill Haas
3. Sergio Garcia
4. Harris English
5. Gary Woodland
6. Charley Hoffman

12th Pick                         
1. Justin Rose                
2. Dustin Johnson          
3. Nick Watney              
4. Chris Kirk                  
5. Bo Van Pelt              
6. Kyle Stanley              

18th Pick
1. Webb Simpson
2. Jason Day
3. Charl Schwartzel
4. Jimmy Walker
5. Bo Van Pelt
6. Louis Oostuizen

So there you go. It's like having two mock drafts in one. I'll get more into sleepers and overrated players in Part 2 along with the Fantasy Golf Report's top 30 but this should serve as a nice Clams Casino appetizer (and buy me more time to do my homework).

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at FGR@fantasygolfreport.com.

Endnotes

* The Tiger exclusion was first used back in 2001 when he was coming-off a season in which he earned $9,188,321, won three majors and more than doubled Phil Mickelson's second place total of $4,746,457. It was the equivalent of a fantasy running back having 3,200 yards and 36 touchdowns.

"Be that as it may Alex, those people
have never been in my kitchen."
** It should be pointed-out that six of the nineteen teams were drafted in absentia so the picks were made straight off of the 2013 money list. The result was that guys like Billy Horschel, Kevin Streelman and Steve Stricker probably went higher than they should have but who knows? One of last year's no-shows landed Adam Scott, Billy Horschel and Harris English in the same league where my extensive research generated a last place roster that included Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel and K.J. Choi. (For you Cheers fans, note that "Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel and K.J. Choi" is also the clue for the Final Jeopardy question: "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?")




Thursday, December 26, 2013

The FGR Week 17 NFL Picks

We're kind of limping home at this point but, if nothing else, we're currently 19 games over .500 so we've locked-up a winning regular season. If you had bet $100 a week with Vinnie (the name of every hypothetical bookie) using the FGR's picks, you'd be $820 in the black at this point. You're welcome.

No real significance here, just
been a while since we've seen
Ms. Gugino . . . and I missed her.
I count thirteen games this week that have at least a remote playoff implication headlined by Bears-Packers, Cowboys-Eagles, Ravens-Bengals and 49ers-Cardinals where both teams have something on the line. In the other games, we have to weigh the choke factor of the potential playoff teams against whatever motivating factor may inspire the non-payoff team. The perfect example is the Dolphins who pulled a major gag job last week against the Jets who could somehow finish 8-8 with a roster built to go 4-12. Let's put it this way, I just switched my pick to the Jets as I was imagining Rex Ryan belching-out his "us against the world" pre-game speech.

Anyway, it's time to clear the way for some fantasy golf preview action* so here are the picks. Ironically, the game I feel most confident about is the meaningless Lions at the Vikings match-up where I can almost guarantee that the Lions will roll now that they have unburdened themselves from the pressure of playing for anything.**

Carolina by 7 at Atlanta: The Pick - Falcons

Green Bay by 3 at Chicago: The Pick - Packers

At Tennessee by 6.5 over Houston: The Pick - Titans

At Pittsburgh by 7 over Cleveland: The Pick - Steelers

At N.Y. Giants by 3.5 over Washington: The Pick - Redskins

At Cincinnati by 5.5 over Baltimore: The Pick - Ravens

At Indianapolis by 11.5 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Colts

Philadelphia by 7 at Dallas: The Pick - Eagles

At Miami by 6.5 over N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Jets

At Minnesota by 3 over Detroit: The Pick - Lions

At New England by 9 over Buffalo: The Pick - Bills

At New Orleans by 12.5 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Bucs

Denver by 12.5 at Oakland: The Pick - Broncos

San Francisco by 3 at Arizona: The Pick - 49ers

At San Diego by 10 over Kansas City: The Pick - Chiefs

At Seattle by 10 over St. Louis: The Pick - Seahawks

Last Week's Record: 7-8 . . . Season Record: 127-108-3

Endnote

* Fantasy golf draft night is tonight so I can start revealing all of my secrets tomorrow. Look forward to nuggets like this one from last year's preview on why Rory McIlroy would dominate in 2013 - "because he is the best player in the world and, after winning his second major in two years and then backing that up with a strong Ryder Cup performance, he KNOWS he's the best player in the world." Apparently "knowing" you're the best player in the world doesn't add-up to you actually "being" the best player in the world. Sheesh.

I mean who would have thought THAT
car would be unsafe in the event of a
rear-end collision? Couldn't we make
the rear window just a bit bigger?
** And the amazing part is that Jim Schwartz will probably keep his job because the Ford family are the only ones who can't see that a team coached by Schwartz and quarterbacked by Matthew Stafford (who has thrown 73 interceptions in 60 career games) will never compete for a championship. Then again, we are talking about the same family who, upon learning that the cost to recall the spontaneously combustible Ford Pinto would be more than the money they'd have to pay in injury/death claims, decided to pay the claims. At least that explains the Matt Millen era (I think).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wait, I've Seen this Movie

I started writing this post about Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito over six weeks ago but I could never quite get a handle on what it was supposed to be about which made it kind of hard to finish. (By the way, this is also the explanation for season 3 of Homeland.)* First it was about locker room bullying being just the latest example of the NFL having more blind spots than a cruise ship considering it failed to see the following icebergs looming off its starboard bow: Bountygate, concussions, the replacement refs and making sure the electric bill was paid before the Super Bowl. And now we have Bullygate or whatever name will eventually stick (I wish it had happened to the Cardinals so we could have called it "Hazing Arizona") and again the NFL is dealing with a shit show that it absolutely should have seen coming.**

Then, it was about an out of control locker room and a head coach in over his head but the Dolphins have miraculously won four of their last five games so that position kind of lost some of its momentum (and by "some" I mean "all"). Then it morphed into a review of one of my favorite movies of all-time (that part stayed) but it still didn't have a point. And finally, after re-writing it about six times, I think I finally figured it out . . . but I'll leave that up to you to decide.

Let's just say that the Cowboys and
Meredith were meant to be together.
At some point during all of this analysis, it dawned on me why the Martin-Incognito situation fascinates me. It's because I've seen this story before, only it took place forty years ago and it was called North Dallas Forty, a novel by Peter Gent published in 1973 and then made into a movie of the same name starring Nick Nolte.*** It has to rank as one of my favorite books of all-time based on the fact that I read it in my early teens without anyone telling me I had to . . . and then I read it again. Gent played wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys and North Dallas Forty is a semi-biographical novel about him and his friend, quarterback Don Meredith who, shall we say, liked to say "woo" to the ladies.****

The book chronicles a week in the life of my namesake, wide receiver Phil Elliott, beginning on the morning after one game and ending after the game the following week and here's the best part, Richie Incognito is in it, only his name in the movie is Jo Bob Priddy. If you don't believe me, watch this Incognito scene and then watch the beginning of this Jo Bob scene (and that's before Jo Bob starts getting really handsy . . . more on that later). But wait, there's more. Just to make sure I was on the right track with the Jo Bob Incognito thing, I went back and re-watched it and there were even more parallels than I remembered including the following exchange between Phil Elliott and future love interest, Charlotte Caulder, who he meets at the same party where Jo Bob Incognito throws a T.V. in the pool and gropes more women than Jack Nicholson at a Laker Girl audition (HEYOOOOOO!!!!!):

Elliott: Jo Bob is here to remind us that the biggest and the baddest get to make all the rules.

Charlotte: Well I don't agree with that.

Elliott: Agreeing doesn't play into it.

It's not much of a stretch to imagine that scene happening with Incognito at say a Miami Dolphins celebrity golf outing. Oh wait, it allegedly did happen in 2012 when he got hammered and decided to play gynecologist on a volunteer with his pitching wedge. The woman reportedly settled for $30,000, the team covered-up the incident with a confidentiality agreement and Incognito stayed on the roster. (Everybody wins!) But let's keep exploring because the parallels don't end with Jo Bob Incognito.

One key difference between
Hartman and Tannehill - wives
of back-ups don't look like this.
One of the other characters in North Dallas Forty is a devout Christian back-up quarterback named Art Hartman who even looks a bit like Ryan Tannehill. One of the implied story-lines is that the only reason Hartman isn't the starter despite having a better arm than the cagey veteran, Seth Maxwell, is that he doesn't have what it takes to control the locker room whereas Maxwell commands instant respect from his teammates (hmmmmm). Clearly Tannehill has raised his stature this season and maybe his handling of this incident had something to do with that but there is no way he was wading into the Martin-Incognito mess as a rookie beyond maybe praying for the devil to get bored and possess the body of an offensive lineman from a different team (or move back into the body of Ndamunkong Suh).

The head coach of the North Dallas Bulls, B.A. Strothers, is played by G.D. Spradlin (a/k/a disgraced Senator Pat Geary from The Godfather: Part II). If they didn't know who they wanted for what is clearly the Tom Landry role before they watched Spradlin's performance in the Robby Benson college basketball classic, One on One (70's movie sleeper alert), then that certainly clinched it because it's almost the exact same character. Landry was best known for his innovative coaching style and his attention to detail and those are on display in Spradlin's performance, especially when he taps on the keyboard of his Tandy 1000 computer a few times during a meeting with Elliott, scrolls through what appear to be some statistics and suddenly says, "now that's it, that's it . . . Phil, that's what it all boils down to, your attitude." (Apparently the man could glean all kinds of character information from a player's yards per catch). The implication of course was that the essence of each player was his statistical tendencies and attention to the most minute detail was everything.

"Well don't you see it?!?
Then pick it up!!!"
And that brings us to Dolphins' head coach Joe Philbin who was featured in a scene from Hard Knocks walking to practice when he noticed a scrap of paper on the ground and bent down to to pick it up as the voice over guy made a comment about his unbelievable attention to detail. I remember thinking that Philbin wasn't going to make it as a head coach because a guy who's distracted by scraps of paper is going to miss the big picture and because Vince Lombardi, Bill Parcells and Chuck Knoll never would have bothered to pick-up a f-cking scrap of paper.

So NFL teams have apparently had bullies, Christian quarterbacks and anal retentive coaches since at least 1973 . . . big deal. Does this book report actually have a point Mr. Elliott? (Holy 9th grade flashback). Well, I think it does - here goes. What sent me down this path in the first place (other than the fact that I always wanted to do a movie review . . . until now) was a scene from North Dallas Forty that always comes to mind when the NFL finds itself in one of these Catch-22 situations where it's trying to run a respectable business despite the fact that a significant percentage of its most qualified employees are giant raging psychopaths. In this scene, an offensive lineman played by real life Raiders defensive end John Matuzak has finally had enough of the constant riding from a short plump abrasive assistant coach (played to perfection by Charles Durning), and unloads one of my five favorite movie lines of all-time, "every time I call it a game, you call it a business . . . and every time I call it a business, you call it a game!!!" Watch this scene for yourself and tell me that Matuzak isn't drawing on some real life deep seeded frustration and rage from his days with the Raiders. 

And this gets us back to Martin-Incognito. Coaches, owners and fans demand that players compete with a fury that borders on homicidal for three hours once a week and then turn it off when the clock hits 00:00. At that point, they're supposed to become students of the game and role models in the community for the next 6 days and 21 hours. That's absurd. We don't ask other entertainers to do that. Imagine if the day after doing a three hour show at Madison Square Garden, the guys from Metallica had to get up and go over all of their missed notes with a music coach and then go visit sick kids at Mount Sinai Medical Center. And then they had to do the same thing the following week in Philly, then D.C. and then Charlotte. By the time they got to Atlanta, the music coach would be in intensive care with a guitar neck sticking out of his ass and the sick kids at the Atlanta Medical Center would hear a Richard Pryor concert's worth of f-bombs.

This would explain why the NFL has never done anything about bullying despite the fact that Peter Gent documented it in his book 40 years ago and it also explains why the league isn't doing anything about it now. The league clearly isn't going to pay this issue the same attention they've recently paid to player safety, off-field misconduct and the Whizzinator scandal because they know they have to give players somewhere to blow-off steam without limitation and the only safe place to do that is in the locker room where the players' code keeps it out of sight (I am trying very hard to get through this without quoting Colonel Jessup but it's not easy). Locker room bullying is as much a part of football as fighting is to hockey, beaning batters is to baseball and crooked judging is to figure skating. Richie Incognito's behavior may have been excessive but it certainly wasn't unprecedented. As Tony Kornheiser noted, Richie Incognito isn't smart enough to start a trend.

This may be the only scene in
which Mr. Blonde isn't shooting,
maiming or igniting someone.
In the end, I don't blame the Dolphins for having Incognito on the roster because he's a good player and if he wasn't playing for Miami, he would certainly be playing somewhere else. Where they went wrong was allowing him to elevate to a position of power within the locker room. Why would they do that in light of the 2012 golf course incident? It's like adding Mr. Blonde to the bank job crew in Reservoir Dogs and look how that turned out. If you're going to have that guy on your team, you better stop picking-up scraps of paper and keep an eye on your locker room dynamic. Or maybe the Dolphins needed B.A. Strothers' super computer to tell them that a raving lunatic like Incognito could be a problem. (This is where it should be noted that Dolphin' GM Jeff Ireland asked Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute before the 2010 draft so clearly they're struggling with this whole scouting thing).

Let's circle this back to North Dallas Forty so we can tie this thing up neatly with a pretty bow (makes sense considering I waited until Christmas to finish it). Check-out this excerpt from a Philadelphia Enquirer review printed on the inside cover of my dog-eared paperback copy:

"THE CURIOUS LITTLE SOCIETY THAT IS A PROFESSIONAL TEAM, THE DRUGS, THE SEX, THE PAIN, THE COACHES WITHOUT CONSCIENCE, THE FANS WITHOUT PITY, . . . . FUNNY AND POWERFUL AND DISTURBING."

Besides the fact that I want those last five words written on my tombstone, that pretty much sums-up today's NFL doesn't it? (And smile . . . bow to the judges . . . and exit).

Endnotes

* I think my favorite way to describe how awful Homeland was this season is to point out the fact that Quinn, who is supposed to be a combination of Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne, had the following Season 3 highlights: (1) he accidentally shot a kid during an assassination mission, (2) he let Carrie get nabbed from her house by the Iranians when he was parked across the street (dammit . . . no one told me there was a back door!), and (3) he managed to get photographed by a residential security camera while in the process of covering-up a murder for the CIA (ADT - 1 . . . CIA - 0). The only thing he did right was intentionally shoot a fellow agent in the shoulder without killing her though, if he had been a little high and left, it would have made the season a lot more interesting.

** You know why we know they should have seen it coming? Because HBO has been broadcasting the warning signs on Hard Knocks for over ten years. The NFL getting blindsided on this one reminds me of the classic Cheers episode when the guys made-up a fictional secret admirer for Carla. As the whole scheme inevitably fell apart, one of them noted, "man, I didn't see this coming" to which Diane replied, "yes, this from the group who every year fails to see spring coming" to which Norm replied "man that reminds me, I need to get those storm windows down."

*** Another "R" rated movie I saw in the theater before my 12th birthday (along with Animal House, Saturday Night Fever, The Warriors, Stripes and Annie Hall which was just a little over my head at the time. And those were just the ones I remember and don't include the early days of HBO with The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack and The Jerk). If you enjoy reading the FGR as much as I enjoy writing it, then you can thank the laissez faire approach to parenting that prevailed in the late 70's and early 80's for a major part of its inspiration.

At least then I knew I definitely
wanted to go to college.
**** When I was in college, I randomly met Don Meredith once . . . in a liquor store (true story). I said "hey, you're Don Meredith" and, in his smooth southern drawl, he said "why yes I am." He then autographed a six-pack of Budweiser for me meaning that for approximately three hours, I owned the autographs of two Cowboys quarterbacks (Meredith and Roger Staubach). Believe it or not, I lost the Budweiser container. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The FGR Week 16 NFL Picks

An inverse correlation has developed between the amount of analysis I put into the picks and their ultimate success so we're going to put the theory that less talk means more wins to the ultimate test and find something else to opine about later in the week.

Miami by 2.5 at Buffalo: The Pick - Dolphins

At Carolina by 3 over New Orleans: The Pick - Panthers

Dallas by 3 at Washington: The Pick - Redskins

At St. Louis by 5 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Bucs

At Philadelphia by 3 over Chicago: The Pick - Eagles

At N.Y. Jets by 2 over Cleveland: The Pick - Browns

At Kansas City by 6.5 over Indianapolis: The Pick - Chiefs

At Cincinnati by 7.5 over Minnesota: The Pick - Bengals

Denver by 10.5 at Houston: The Pick - Broncos

Tennessee by 5 at Jacksonville: The Pick - Jaguars

At Seattle by 10 over Arizona: The Pick - Seahawks

At Detroit by 9.5 over N.Y. Giants: The Pick - Giants

At San Diego by 10 over Oakland: The Pick - Chargers

At Green Bay v. Pittsburgh: OFF (Pick TBD)

At Baltimore by 1.5 over New England: The Pick - Ravens

At San Francisco by 12.5 over Atlanta: The Pick - 49ers

Last Week's Record: 7-9 . . . Season Record: 120-100-3

(Editor's Note: I know 120-100-3 does not add up to the 224 games that have been played so far this season and I actually spent a couple of minutes trying to find the missed game the other day but I tend to be easily dist . . . hey, is that Kate Upton?)

So how about all that snow last week?
(Hey, just because I'm not writing much
doesn't mean I'm completely dead inside).
Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The FGR Week 15 NFL Picks

Well I blew-off the individual game commentary last week and went 11-5. That's the good news. The bad news is that I walked out of Ravens stadium last Sunday with two minutes left in the game after watching Dennis Pitta catch what I thought was the game winning touchdown. As it turned-out, Pitta's touchdown was just the flicked cigarette at the Exxon station and, in the time it took me to walk to my car, the Vikings and Ravens combined to score twenty-eight more points. But hey, at least we beat the traffic (sheesh).

In my defense, I had a bunch of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 at the game with me, the temperature was in the 20's and it was sleeting (isn't this fun?). I'm very tempted to break the FGR rule of no specific references to family or friends and post the picture of my six year old daughter's face from halfway through the 4th quarter but that's a line I won't cross. I will say that her expression was a combination of "I hate you more than a tetanus shot right now" and "when I'm 15, I will date a motorcycle riding 17 year old with more tattoos and piercings than Dennis Rodman who plays drums in a Sex Pistols cover band to make you pay for this."

Inspired by that uplifting prospect and my disastrous Thursday night pick, let's do this.

At Atlanta by 6 over Washington: The Pick - Falcons

"You know, I've been thinking a
lot about what you said and maybe
the answer does lie in Scientology." 
Look, no one enjoys a complete Redskins meltdown more than me but this situation in D.C. is turning into the high school prank that got way out of hand. When we jokingly sent the hooker from Craig's List to RG, III's house, we never thought it would end with a stab wound, a dead dog and a meth fire. At some point in the next few months, Jon Gruden, Lovie Smith or Josh McDaniels* will step-up to the podium and become the eighth head coach in the fifteen year Dan Snyder era. Keep searching Danny. You'll get to the root of the problem eventually.

San Francisco by 5.5 at Tampa Bay: The Pick - 49ers

Greg Schiano Job Security Check: The Bucs have won four of their last five and, before that run, they took the Seahawks to overtime in Seattle. More importantly than that, however, is the fact that, if they do try to replace Schiano, the Bucs are going to be in a high leverage market for coaches along with the Redskins, Texans, Jets and possibly the Vikings, Titans, Falcons and Giants (Tom Coughlin has nothing left to prove and he's got to be getting tired of this grind and the face chafing so a graceful exit this offseason is probably 50/50). Good luck landing your first choice against the Giants and the wheelbarrows full of money the Redskins, Jets and Texans can roll-out. Though in the cases of the Skins and the Jets, it may take eight digits a year for Jon Gruden to come run your clown college.

Arizona by 2.5 at Tennessee: The Pick - Cardinals

I predicted a 10-6 finish for the Cardinals (my 2013 sleeper team) and now they're just a 2-1 finish away from achieving it with the mediocre to average Titans coming-up this Sunday. That's the good news. The bad news is that they finish with Seattle on the road and then home against San Francisco. Missed it by THAT much.

New Orleans by 5.5 at St. Louis: The Pick - Saints

Since opening with a win over the Cardinals, the Rams have gone three losses, two wins, three losses, two wins and are now on a two game losing streak. Going with the formula almost seems too convenient but, in this case, it was meant to be.

Seattle by 7 at N.Y. Giants: The Pick - Seahawks

There was a part of me that thought the long road trip coming-off a really physical loss to the 49ers for the Seahawks combined with the fact that the Giants have actually won five of their last seven could make this a competitive game. And then I looked at quality of those five wins by the Giants and realized that, on the day each of those games were played, they were up against one of the three worst teams in the NFL. How is this for timing? They got the Packers after Aaron Rodgers was hurt. They got the Vikings for the three hour Monday night Josh Freeman comedy showcase (which has since been cancelled). And they caught the Eagles in the last week of the Matt Barkley/Michael Vick turnoverama experience. Their other two wins were over the Raiders and the Redskins (enough said). To reverse paraphrase Gordon Gecko, "if the Giants owned a funeral parlor over those seven weeks, everyone would have died."

At Cleveland by 1.5 over Chicago: The Pick - Browns

Only on a team that has had 27 different starting quarterbacks in the last 25 years would the head coach bench the guy with the 110 passer rating in favor of the guy who hasn't played in a month with the playoffs on the line. I had the Bears in this game until Marc Trestman made that move. On the other side, you have Rob Chudzinski who has kept the Browns competitive despite having to go from Brandon Weeden to Brian Hoyer to Weedon to Jason Campbell to Weedon and back to Campbell. As a Ravens fan, I'm really hoping the Browns swing and miss on the quarterback they will inevitably take in the draft because Chudzinski has proven he can make caviar out of corned beef hash (I was going to put a picture of corned beef hash here but oh my God who eats that?).

Buffalo by 2 at Jacksonville: The Pick - Jags

This is the only game of the week with absolutely no playoff implications. At the start of the season, who would have thought you could say that in Week 15 about a Buffalo-Jacksonville match-up? (Oh right . . . everybody). So let me take this opportunity to vent about something that's been grinding my gears for the better part of six weeks and I'm going to borrow from the teachings of the great 20th century philosopher, Harold Callahan (his friends called him "Dirty"):

Not sure the Jags are long for
this continent. I sure hope you
speak British sweetheart. 
"No, this stuff isn't getting to me, the shootings, the knifings, the beatings, old ladies being bashed in the head for their social security checks, teachers being thrown out of a fourth floor window because they don't give A's.** That doesn't bother me a bit . . . or this job either, having to wade through the scum of this city, being swept away by bigger and bigger waves of corruption, apathy and red tape. No, that doesn't bother me. But you know what does bother me . . . you know what really makes me sick to my stomach? . . . It's ordering a Harvest Salad from Chick-fil-A and finding strawberries on it . . . nobody . . . I mean nobody puts strawberries on a salad."*** (Click here for the full Dirty Harry rant, it's worth it).

New England by 2.5 over Miami: The Pick - Dolphins

Just when the Patriots are in a position to actually help the Ravens with a win over the Dolphins, down goes Gronk (nice move Cleveland . . . very clever . . . we owe you one). This is going to play out one of two ways: (1) The Pats slip-up against the Dolphins and then come to Baltimore next week and beat the Ravens on a last second drive aided by three consecutive dubious pass interference penalties, or (2) the Patriots take care of business this weekend and then come to Baltimore and get absolutely manhandled by a Ravens defense that appears to be rounding into shape (if you don't count what appeared to be their attempts to tackle Toby Gerhart and Cordarrelle Patterson last Sunday). I know these teams too well. There is no third option.

At Indianapolis by 6 over Houston: The Pick - Texans

Did you know that Wade Phillips' career record as a head coach is 82-63? And if you take out the nine games where he had to step-in as the interim coach of a floundering team, that career record improves to 79-57. And in 48 games as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, he was 29-19 . . . and then they fired him. (The Bills' record since is 78-125). And did you also know that the Colts have allowed over 31 points per game over their last seven and that they haven't beaten a team not named the Tennessee Titans since November 3rd? Oh yeah, did you also know that the Colts' scoring differential is -3? Well now you do. I like the Texans to pull the upset in a "why can't Wade Phillips be our coach? . . . please Mr. Owner, please, we really like him" effort.

Philadelphia by 4.5 at Minnesota: The Pick - Eagles

The success of my last fantasy team standing rides on this game as my long term gamble on the Chip Kelly offense has started to pay dividends with Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy. On top of that, we may even give Toby Gerhart a start because nothing strikes fear in the heart of your opponents like the sight of a big lumbering white running back in your flex spot. (That actually sounds kind of painful).

At Carolina by 11 over N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Panthers

Really? another hot teacher pic? Ok.
Geno Smith on the road against one of the league's best defenses which was just humiliated by Drew Brees and Co. on national television. I think I would give the points on this one up to about 20 because it wreaks of a 31-6 beatdown. Here's a fun stat. The Jets are only one game under .500 but somehow have a scoring differential of -111. Their last six losses have been by an average of 23 points and their six wins have been by an average of 5. I'm no statistician but I don't think that's the sign of a team trending in the right direction.

Kansas City by 4.5 at Oakland: The Pick - Chiefs

I must be missing something with this line considering the Chiefs just manhandled the East Coast version of the Raiders last week in Washington. After starting with their traditional "hey, the Raiders might not completely suck this year" 3-4 record, they have lost five of their last six with the only win coming against a Houston team that went on strike for better cafeteria food but forgot to tell anybody.

At Dallas by 7 over Green Bay: The Pick - Cowboys

OK Cowboys, since Josh McCown was apparently way more than you could handle, we've dumbed down the test even more for you with Matt Flynn instead of Aaron Rodgers. If that's still too tough, we've got the Redskins lined-up for next week. If you can't win a game in December under those conditions, then Jerry Jones has to replace the current general manager with someone who can find some clutch players (what? . . . he is? . . . oh that was awkward).

Cincinnati by 3 at Pittsburgh: The Pick - Steelers

A Bengals' loss combined with a Ravens' win puts us on a collision course for a week 17 game in Cincinnati for the division title so Raven fans find themselves in the awkward position of rooting for the Steeooolers . . . the Stee . . . the St . . . oh fuck it, I can't say it.

At Detroit by 6 over Baltimore: The Pick - Ravens

"Come on Meat. Just one more
pick and we get January off."
I honestly don't have any problem with Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam calling-out Calvin Johnson for being "old" (doesn't mean I understand it but I don't have a problem with it) and getting Megatron all fired-up because the Lions may be the worst big game team outside of Dallas so anything that makes them want to win more can only help their opponent. I'm a little surprised that Matthew Stafford hasn't picked-up the nickname "Nuke Laloosh" yet.
 
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Last Week's Record: 11-5 . . . Season Record: 113-91-3

Endnotes

* Don't rule-out a guy like McDaniels for a few reasons: (1) Gruden and Smith are too smart to walk into the shit show that is the Redskins organization so it's going to be someone desperate for a head coaching gig or someone who is cocky enough to think he can overcome the structural deficiencies - McDaniels is both, and (2) with previous head coaches like Mike Shanahan, Joe Gibbs and Steve Spurrier, Dan Snyder has proven that the splashiness of the hire may be more important than the quality. Now that I think of it, I wouldn't rule-out Ditka.

** Kids in San Francisco were throwing teachers out of windows for not giving A's? Were these gang kids with high aspirations or nerds with anger management problems? Either way, you have to give them credit for being so passionate about their grades.

*** I mean seriously Chick-fil-A, there are two kinds of salad. There's vegetable salad with lettuce and carrots and shit and then there's fruit salad and never the twain shall meet (that's Rudyard Kipling and Dirty Harry in the same rant bitches). The only exception is the Waldorf Salad because its name is badass. No one fucks with the Waldorf Salad . . . not even the Cobb (truth is, the Cobb is kind of wuss).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The FGR Week 15 Thursday Night Pick

At Denver by 10.5 over San Diego: The Pick - Broncos

This is Sam. I think she could actually
 sell me on the green eggs and ham thing.
With Gronkowski now out for the season, it would certainly appear that the AFC is the Broncos' for the taking. Consider that if the playoffs started today, their toughest scenario would probably be hosting an offensively challenged Ravens team followed by a conference championship game against the banged-up Patriots or the overmatched Chiefs.* No problem right? I mean John Fox and Peyton Manning don't gag away playoff situations where they're heavy favorites (hmmmm). But we don't have to pick that game yet. The one thing we do know is that the Broncos are trouncing teams at home on their way to the top seed and it's time for the Chargers to finally crush the playoff dreams of their fans.

Endnote

* Yes, this playoff scenario is predicated on the Ravens beating the Bengals in Cincinnati but I don't care where the game is being played if you're giving me John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco against Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton. That is simply a matchup of two guys who find ways to win against two guys who find ways to lose.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The FGR Week 14 NFL Picks

I have no good excuse for the lack of commentary. Last week's 5-11 record didn't help, especially when it included three really foolish road picks in the Rams, Bucs and Saints. What can I say? I got cocky and got burned but we're already in bounce back mode with a Thursday night winner and, in the words of the goddess Fergie,* I gotta feeling.

Can I make it up to you
with a Fergie montage?
Kansas City by 3.5 at Washington: The Pick - Chiefs

At Baltimore by 7 over Minnesota: The Pick - Ravens

At New England by 11.5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Browns

At N.Y. Jets by 3 over Oakland: The Pick - Jets

At Cincinnati by 5.5 over Indianapolis: The Pick - Colts

At New Orleans by 4 over Carolina: The Pick - Saints

At Philadelphia by 3 over Detroit: The Pick - Eagles

At Pittsburgh by 3 over Miami: The Pick - Steelers

At Tampa Bay by 2.5 over Buffalo: The Pick - Bucs
Those aren't legs. They're
lightning bolts with feet

At Denver by 12 over Tennessee: The Pick - Broncos

At Arizona by 6.5 over St. Louis: The Pick - Cardinals

At San Diego by 3 over N.Y. Giants: The Pick - Chargers

At San Francisco by 2.5 over Seattle: The Pick - 49ers

At Green Bay by 3.5 Atlanta: The Pick - Falcons

At Dallas by 1 over Chicago: The Pick - Cowboys

Last Week's Record: 5-11 . . . Season Record: 102-86-3

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

Endnote

* I have seen The Who, the Stones, U2, Eric Clapton and the Wiggles multiple times each and I can tell you that no concert moment in my lifetime compares to the ten jaw-dropping minutes I spent within fifteen feet of Fergie's legs at a Black Eyed Peas concert . . . unless you count some of the things I saw while wandering the RFK Stadium concourse for 45 minutes at the '91 Grateful Dead concert but I'm pretty sure most of that wasn't really there. I mean they didn't actually have popcorn vendors dressed as ears of corn and wearing cowboy hats did they? And for the love of all that is holy, please tell me that that the urinals were not singing Broadway show tunes that night (though if they were, hats off to the two on the end that did an amazing duet of Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better from Annie Get Your Gun . . . really quite inspired).


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The FGR Week 14 Thursday Night Pick

Houston by 3 at Jacksonville: The Pick - Jaguars

I thought I told you to take
Pour Some Sugar on Me off
of the halftime playlist!
This game lost whatever limited intrigue it had when the Jags started winning games and elevated themselves to only about the 4th or 5th worst team in the league. An 0-16 watch in Week 14 actually would have been kind of entertaining. To make matters worse, it may feature the worst fantasy football quarterback match-up of the weekend with Case Keenum squaring-off against Chad Henne.* The only guys with any real interest in tonight's outcome are Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr because two of them are almost surely going to be playing in Houston and Jacksonville next season.** Poor bastards.

Endnote

* The sad part is that there may be a worse match-up in New York where Geno "Which Jerseys are We Wearing Again Today" Smith is up against Matt "Don't Call Me 'Pat'" McGloin. ESPN.com has Keenum ranked 23rd, McGloin 26th with Henne and Smith unrated because the list only goes to 26. I'm going to give the nod to the McGloin-Smith match-up because, according to ESPN's QBR formula, Geno has a "QB PAR" of -3.8 which, if I'm reading it correctly, means that he has contributed -3.6 points more than "a quarterback who plays very rarely and is on the fringe of the NFL" a/k/a Blaine Gabbert.  

** Remember the last time the Texans picked that high and smartly resisted the urge to take Vince Young? Are they going to be able to do that again with Manziel? Can you imagine if they do and then the Jags take Manziel and he turns-out to be Russell Wilson 2.0 and he haunts the division rival Texans for the next 12 years and I use the word "and" seven more times in this sentence?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The FGR Week 13 NFL Picks

Let's continue with the Thanksgiving themed picks. (Hey, way to knock yourself out on the introduction).

At Indianapolis by 4.5 over Tennessee: The Pick - Colts

I am thankful that the Colts are going down the tubes and it's driving the Mad Tweeter out of his mind. Here is a sample from his November 26th multi-tweet tantrum that was apparently set-off by someone putting their nut sack on his drum set:

"I didn't break the bank, millions cash over cap/Load Brinks Truck, only to be hijacked n stormed on way 2 stadium by machine gun MANIACS!" - @JimIrsay.

"Daddy daddy look at me!!!
I'm funny right? . . . Dad?"
First of all ass hat, apparently you missed the memo but no one wants to hear about money woes in any form from the petulant 54 year old man child who inherited a football team from his daddy that Forbes estimates is now worth $1.2B. Second of all, if you had any real stones, instead of tweeting "we gotta get our heads out of r butts-WAKE UP!," you'd walk into the locker room, excuse your bodyguard and say it directly to the players. And thirdly, if it's time to start removing heads from butts, I'm pretty sure the players and coaches would love a demonstration.

I've got nothing on the Titans. Call us when you get a quarterback who is not mobile/injury prone because I'm pretty sure that's not sustainable.

Denver by 3.5 at Kansas City: The Pick - Broncos

I am thankful that Peyton Manning completely ignored his own Achilles heel and decided to sign with a team that is guaranteed to play in cold weather during the playoffs. In games played where the temperature at kickoff was under 40 degrees, Manning's record is 8-11 with 27 touchdown passes and 27 interception. I will never understand why he didn't go to Arizona to play with Larry Fitzgerald though I must admit that the Manning face is never better than when he makes it with while wearing a turtleneck with his hands stuffed in that man purse around his waste.

As for the Chiefs, I see things getting very dicey after their fast start and I'm thankful that there is almost no chance that I will ever have to see Andy Reid eat a plate of ribs because I would imagine that is not pretty.

At Cleveland by 7 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Browns

I am thankful that Paul Tagliabue decided to screw over Baltimore and put a team in Jacksonville. Otherwise, we could have been saddled with that mess of a franchise. Instead, Baltimore got the Browns, Ozzie Newsome and two first round draft picks in the 1996 draft which yielded Jonathan Ogden (4th) and Ray Lewis (26th).* You're still an a-hole Tagliabue but thanks anyway.

I am thankful that the Browns are in the Ravens' division and I don't think I need to elaborate on that. (Sorry this is a bit Ravens heavy . . . but it's my website).

#3 - Catrinel Menghia from The
Tour Championship Preview
At Philadelphia by 3.5 over Arizona: The Pick - Eagles

Not much to say about this one (though it could be the game of the weekend and I am thankful that we may be seeing the rebirth of Larry Fitzgerald's career) so I'm going to be thankful for the eclectic group of beauties who grace these posts on a weekly basis. Let's pay homage to what I believe our the top three based on FGR traffic to date with a brief montage. Enjoy. (I'd be kidding myself if I didn't believe that the FGR is like one of those steak house/strip joints in that no one really pays the cover charge for the steak though when it's good they think, "well that was a nice bonus").

At Carolina by 8.5 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Bucs

I've got nothing on this game either so I'll be thankful for the invention of satellite radio and downloadable podcasts. I have to believe that, as a society, our collective IQ has been increased by the reduction in local radio advertising that permeates our brains. Those ads used to send me lunging for the dial but now, on those random occasions when I hear a spot for a used car dealer or a local rehab clinic, I get a warm nostalgic feeling like when I see someone use their turn signal.**

Chicago by 2.5 at Minnesota: The Pick - Bears

I am thankful that I will get to see Adrian Peterson live next Sunday while he is still in his prime. Despite all of my issues with attending games that I vented about in the Thanksgiving picks (see below), there is still something very cool about seeing one of the all-time best play at the peak of his powers . . . even if the Ravens are going to put eleven on the line of scrimmage and dare Christian Ponder to beat them thereby limiting AP to a bunch of 2 yard dives.

At N.Y. Jets by 1.5 over Miami: The Pick - Dolphins

I am thankful that the NFL has used the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation to jump out in front of this bullying issue with a series of public service announcements featuring high profile players and sending the message that bullying isn't cool. (What's that? Nothing? You mean Ray Lewis and Deion Sanders haven't even found their way in front of a camera to speak on this? Wow).

I am thankful that the Ravens said thanks but no thanks to Rex Ryan and hired John Harbaugh instead. And in the end, it kind of worked-out well for everyone. The big market Jets got a big mouthed coach and a couple of runs to the AFC Championship Game that never would have happened without him. Unfortunately for them, they didn't recognize the tight window that was the Rex Ryan era. If only they'd had some kind of warning sign back around December of 2010 right before things started coming unglued (Mmmmm feet).

At Buffalo by 3.5 over Atlanta: The Pick - Bills

#2 - Rosie Jones from The Waste
Management Phoenix Open
.***
I am thankful that I don't live in either of these cities. One doesn't have a sports soul and the other's is cold, dark and currently at the mercy of a 95 year old owner who thinks it would be a good thing to hear the Canadian national anthem before NFL games. (Just writing that felt weird).

At San Fran. by 7.5 over St. Louis: The Pick - Rams

I am thankful that the Ravens got the Harbaugh who has spent his whole life answering the question, "what's the deal with your brother?" I am also thankful for the Rams' helmets because they're pretty sweet.

New England by 8 at Houston: The Pick - Patriots

I am thankful that, despite having one of the three greatest quarterbacks of all-time, the Bill Belichik led Patriots have not won a Super Bowl since the 2004-05 season. Since that win over the great (ahem) Donovan McNabb, the Patriots have been knocked-out of the playoffs by the following quarterbacks: Eli Manning (twice), Joe Flacco (twice), Peyton Manning, Jake Plummer and Mark Sanchez (yes, that Mark Sanchez). If the NFL season ended today, first there would be mass hysteria and rioting in the streets but then once that was subdued, we'd be looking at a very strong chance of a Chiefs-Patriots Divisional Round game. How great would it be to add Alex Smith's name after the pedestrian quarterbacks at the end of that list? Pretty great . . . that's how great.

I am thankful that no one ever got the opportunity to buy Arian Foster stock. If you're not familiar with this story, check it out here but in short, Foster was going to sell stock in himself for $10M and shareholders would get 20% of his football related earnings in return. On it's face, this would appear to be a very risky proposition for investors in light of Foster's injury history and the fact that he plays a position not known for its longevity. But when you really give it some thought, you realize that it would be like buying shares of Blockbuster out of the trunk of a Cadillac with a license plate that reads "Madoff1."

At San Diego PK against Cincinnati: The Pick - Chargers

I am thankful for the impending implosion of both the Bengals and Chargers which will begin with this week's match up for one of them ("Implosion Bowl I"). After this, the Bengals head home to play the Colts ("Implosion Bowl II") and then they go to Pittsburgh. By the time they're done, we should be looking at a 7-7 team on the verge of collapse. The Chargers get a bit of a pass as they are only the third best team in their division but upcoming losses to the Giants and Broncos should put the finishing touches on another mediocre effort in 2013 (the Chargers record over the last four seasons is 29-30 with a high of 9-7 and a low of 7-9 which pretty much tells the whole story).

At Washington by 2.5 over N.Y. Giants: The Pick - Giants

#1 - Lucy Pinder a/k/a
Amber Watney. ****
I am thankful for the never-ending saga that is the RG, III era Redskins. If you've never been around Redskin fans for an extended period of time, you probably can't appreciate the assoholic arrogance that they exude. It can best be described as a more refined form of douchebaggery than that found in Boston sports fans. It's a little less rough around the edges and Redskins fans don't get mad when the season turns sour, they just kind of turn sour with it.

I am thankful for Eli Manning beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl . . . twice. And if you ever doubted my pure hatred for the Patriots, the fact that they inspired me to root for a New York team should tell you everything you need to know.

At Seattle by 5.5 over New Orleans: The Pick - Saints

I am thankful for Marshawn Lynch who produced one of the greatest runs in NFL history on this play the last time the Saints visited Seattle. On the other side, I am thankful for Jimmy Graham who has almost single-handedly dragged one of my fantasy teams to first place despite a revolving door of quarterbacks which has included starts by Michael Vick, RG, III, Nick Foles and Joe Flacco. It's been a bit of a bumpy ride.

And finally I am thankful for NFL scheduling which, starting with the Broncos-Chiefs match-up in Week 11, has and will produce some major impact games as they play out the season. In Week 12 we had Broncos-Patriots, this week its Saints-Seahawks and on the horizon we have Panthers-Saints (twice), Seahawks-49ers, Ravens-Lions (OK, that's a stretch), Patriots-Ravens and five games in Week 17 that will likely have playoff implications for both teams involved: 49ers-Cardinals, Chiefs-Chargers ("Implosion Bowl III"), Rams-Seahawks, Ravens-Bengals and Eagles-Cowboys. Remember, you can't spell "parity" without "party." (Not necessarily sure that's at all relevant but ending these things can be a pain in the ass).

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Record against the spread to date: 98-77-3.

Endnotes

* That entire first round has to go down as one of the best ever as 15 of the 30 players picked went on to be Pro Bowlers including Eddie George, Simeon Rice and Marvin Harrison. Who were some of the teams that missed their 50/50 shot at one of those impact players? Pretty much who you would expect - the Raiders, Lions, Bucs, Dolphins, Redskins and Rams (twice). And of course you can't forget the Browns who lost their team just as it was about to draft two future Hall of Famers. I'm not sure "God hates Cleveland covers it on that one." I think that's more a of a "Cleveland slept with God's wife and then left an unflushed bomb in the toilet" situation.

Sorry, but that one's on you bro for
letting her drive in the first place.
** For my younger readers, a "turn signal" was a blinking light on either side of the front and back of a car that you would activate to courteously tell other drivers that you were preparing to make a turn. It also used to serve as a safety feature before driving while talking on the phone made it more dangerous to use because it would result in a lack of hands being available to operate the steering wheel. But don't worry, driving while talking on the phone isn't any more dangerous than say, driving while filleting a halibut.

*** Rosie Jones is to the FGR what Alec Baldwin is to Saturday Night Live but I went with the Waste Management Preview because (a) it's one of my personal favorites and (b) I know there are a lot of crossover fans between Downton Abbey and the FGR.

**** Lucy first appeared in The Zurich Classic Preview when I mistook a picture of her for Nick Watney's wife Amber. The next thing I knew, the FGR was getting bombarded with hits and a new editorial direction for the website was born. The fact that there is actually a picture of her taking a turkey out of the oven while wearing Ravens purple for the Thanksgiving edition just tells me that we have a bond that runs deeper than simply stalker/stalkee (how can "stalkee" not be a real word)?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The FGR Thanksgiving Day Picks

Welcome to what may become the first annual Thanksgiving themed edition of the FGR NFL picks (now if I can just remember to do it again next year). Here are just a few things for which I am thankful: (1) I am thankful that I am traveling no further than the bar in my brother in-law's basement across the street on this post-apocolyptic Wednesday afternoon; (2) I am thankful that we are not hosting Thanksgiving dinner which means that I will not be in my kitchen tomorrow night wearing an itchy sweater with a low-grade wine buzz trying to futilly scrub turkey grease out of a pan; and (3) I am thankful that your are reading the Fantasy Golf Report right now because if you keep reading it, I'll keep writing it. Deal? Good. Now let's get on to some Thanksgiving themed picks.  

At Detroit by 5.5 over Green Bay: The Pick - Lions

I am thankful for Jim Schwartz and the Ford family's track record of retaining underperforming employees when anyone else would have fired them long ago (see: Matt Millen). That means that we can expect the headset smashing hothead to entertain us for at least another three years which should just about waste Calvin Johnson's prime so, while he will continue to rack-up other worldly stats, he will never quite make it into the greatest receiver of all-time discussion with Jerry Rice and, um, Jerry Rice because the playoff runs won't happen.*

"God I hate the two minute drill."
On the Packers' side, I am thankful that I didn't draft Aaron Rodgers on any of my fantasy teams though it wasn't for lack of trying. Someday Rodgers is going to learn that there is no regular season first down worth running for (note: this does not apply to about 75% of the quarterbacks in the league who might as well run for as badly as they throw). Until then, the Packers need to figure-out a way to keep him in the pocket. Maybe they could put him in the shotgun and put a ball and chain around his ankle and then have the center carry the ball between plays. It would be like incorporating a bit of the World's Strongest Man Competition into the game and that would be nothing but a positive.

At Dallas by 9.5 over Oakland: The Pick - Cowboys

I am thankful that the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and saved me from continuing to root for the favorite team of my youth. Yes, I was a Cowboys fan but if you grew-up surrounded by Redskins fans, you'd understand that I had no choice. Add Staubach v. Theisman to the mix, and it became a no-brainer. Theisman was a preening schmo and Staubach was revered as the guy who served his country first before joining the Cowboys.** Oh who am I kidding? I liked the Cowboys because everyone around me hated them and I've been a wise-ass since I was five years old. At least that made it easier to abandon them when they started going down the tubes in the late 90's.

I'm not sure what to be thankful about with the Raiders. They got blown-out in the Super Bowl about ten years ago and they haven't finished over .500 since. Their quarterbacks over that period have included washed-up guys like Kerry Collins and Daunte Culpepper, stopgap guys like Andrew Walter and Jason Campbell and a guy who is heavily involved in the biggest draft bust of all-time conversation in JaMarcus Russell. Their first round pick this year, D.J. Hayden, almost died on the field a year ago and they didn't see that as a potential concern because, like a charlie horse, almost internally bleeding to death is the kind of thing you just shake-off before the next play. Their last first round pick before that was in 2010 when they took Rolando McClain who is now out of the league. Oh yeah, they've had seven head coaches since 2002 including Lane Kiffin who has the people skills of Nick Saban but compliments them with being a terrible football coach. I guess I should just be thankful that I'm not a Raiders fan.

At Baltimore by 3 over Pittsburgh: The Pick - Ravens

I am thankful that I sold my tickets for Thursday night's game and since I seem to be coming clean on some things today (and I haven't even started drinking yet), I might as well add the fact that I don't really like going to the games anymore. I'm not going to get into the overpriced beers ($10), the long bathroom lines (20 minutes), the outrageous ticket prices ($120), the parking hassles or the traffic. For me it comes down to two things: (1) I don't want to watch anything for three straight hours anymore unless it's the best goddamned movie ever made . . . I mean we better be talking Goodfellas meets the Godfather with more quotable lines than Wall Street and better sex scenes than Body Heat and Bound (sorry, you'll have to find those on your own, the FGR isn't that kind of site . . . yet); and (2) the colossal douche bags who sit at the end of my row who act like you're making them give birth every time you try to get out to go get an overpriced beer or to spend twenty minutes in line for the bathroom.

Bravo Jennifer and Gina . . . Bravo!!!
I am thankful that the Steelers exist because everyone needs a few things in this world that they can unconditionally and unequivocally despise. For me, it's the Steelers, people who don't use their turn signals, people who throw trash and cigarettes out of their car windows, people who wait until the lane ends to merge (I have some road rage issues) and, most of all, the douche bags who sit at the end of my row for Ravens games.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Last Week's Record: 8-6 . . . Season Record: 97-75-3

Endnotes

* In what appears to be a debate in its infancy, there are rumblings that Megatron may one day challenge Rice as the greatest receiver of all time. Before we get there, let's just remember that in four Super Bowls, Rice AVERAGED 8 catches for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson has been in one playoff game* so let's just simmer down for now. In his defense, however, Johnson did catch 12 passes for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns in that one playoff game so he's got that going for him . . . which is nice.

** Two things: (1) I stole "preening schmo" from Tony Kornheiser which is how he used to aptly describe Brian Billick; and (2) Staubach played at the Naval Academy and then fulfilled his four year military obligation before turning pro. As someone who grew-up in Annapolis, this served as a constant reminder of why I never want to attend the Naval Academy. Four year commitment after college? Do you have any idea how much I thought I was going to accomplish in those four years? As it turns-out, I think those four years yielded about $70,000 in gross income, some credit card debt and the aspiration to one day manage my own Herman's Sporting Goods Store (since gone bankrupt). I don't really have a joke here. Not sure I need one.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The FGR Week 12 NFL Picks

"There's a new sheriff in town . . . and
his name is the FGR, y'all be cool."
After a two week hiatus, I finally cranked-out some fully analyzed picks and, as of this moment, I'm on track to post them before 11:42 a.m. on Sunday. Why the sudden inspiration? Well for one, I actually wrote some of this stuff a while ago so if it has a stale feel to it, don't worry, that's going to be nothing compared to when I finally put the finishing touches on my Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin piece. More importantly, however, I am about to spend the better part of 36 hours standing on soccer fields in a place called Fallston, Maryland which is (a) in the middle of nowhere and (b) just far enough from my house to be annoying* so it's now or never for this week's picks.

The Fantasy Golf Report is currently 89-70-3 against the spread. How are we doing it in a season where there doesn't seem to be any particular rhyme or reason? Bullshit and experience . . . so sit back and experience some of our bullshit.

At Detroit by 9 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Lions

I've taken my fair share of shots at Lions' head coach Jim Schwartz but now that he has his team at 6-4 and tied for the lead in the NFC North, I guess I should finally admit that the man knows what he's doing. I mean we're talking about a team coming off a complete second half gag job that also boasts a last second home win over the Cowboys and another close one on the road against a Bears' team quarterbacked by a guy who looked like he spent every minute on the bench getting kicked in the nuts by Robbie Gould. That's quite a resume. And another thing. It's not easy to pull together a roster that features a No. 1 overall pick at quarterback and No. 2 overall picks at running back, wide receiver and defensive tackle . . . all of whom are meeting or exceeding draft day expectations. So smash away on those headsets Jimmy. You've certainly earned the right.

At Houston by 10.5 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Jaguars

The Jaguars are terrible for a variety of reasons but if you had to pick just one, the epic manner in which they have botched their first round picks is a good place to start: 2010 - DT, Tyson Alualu (taken 10th despite being projected as a second round talent . . . now playing like a 6th round talent); 2011 - Blaine Gabbert (his 36.0 passer rating would place him last among current quarterbacks by 16 points . . . if he had enough attempts to qualify); 2012 - Justin Blackmon (taken 5th overall despite numerous character red flags . . . was recently suspended for the rest of 2013 for violating the league substance abuse policy); 2013 - OT, Luke Joeckel (season ending ankle injury on October 8th . . . welcome to Jacksonville Luke).**

At Green Bay by 3.5 over Minnesota: The Pick - Packers

At some point the FGR needs to acknowledge the brilliant work being done by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford** and we might as well use the Green Bay-Minnesota game to do it because (a) Wisconsin and Minnesota might as well be Canada anyway and (b) this game stopped mattering the moment Aaron Rodgers' shoulder hit the turf. Anyway, there are so many great Rob Ford moments that it's hard to pick just one but, since this is ostensibly a football website now (thus the name Fantasy Golf Report), let's go with the fact that the commissioner of the CFL actually asked Ford not to attend the playoff game in Toronto last Sunday. I'm guessing it went down something like this:

"Well if you're going up anyway, I'd love a
corn dog and four Molsons. Thanks."
Commissioner: Mayor Ford, with all due respect we think it would be in the best interest of the league and the Toronto Argonauts franchise if you did not attend the game on Sunday.

Mayor Ford: I don't know.

Commissioner: What do you mean you don't know?

Mayor Ford: Argo fuck yourself!

At Kansas City by 5 over San Diego: The Pick - Chiefs

This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to get back to creating the illusion that they will win a playoff game this year before they have to play the Broncos again next Sunday and we all say, "oh yeah." If the season ended today, they would play at the Bengals in a game that would struggle in the ratings against the tail end of a Police Academy movie marathon (which would include the last hour of Police Academy 6: City Under Siege and a full showing of Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow and the fact that Mission to Moscow was made in 1994 and does not feature Yakov Smirnoff has to make it one of the greatest upsets of the 90's along with the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas fight).

Carolina by 3.5 at Miami: The Pick - Panthers

Carolina proved last week that they can closeout a game against a quality opponent on a primetime stage as long as they are allowed to tackle that opponent's receivers on the last play of the game. More importantly, after winning six in a row, they have proven to have one of the league's best defenses and Cam Newton finally appears to be comfortable getting paid over the table.

At Cleveland by 2 over Pittsburgh: The Pick - Steelers

Don't bother Cleveland with
your sports team woes.
Just when you thought the "Factory of Sadness" had run out of ways to crush the hopes of its customers, along comes the 2013 season where the Browns have somehow managed to go from hopeless (Brandon Weeden) to hopeful (Brian Hoyer) to hopeless (Weeden) to hopeful (Jason Campbell) to hopeless (last week's game when they turned a 13-0 lead into 31-13 halftime deficit). If you're a Browns fan, you almost need to take the Ron Burgundy approach when Baxter ate the wheel of cheese and pooped in the fridge and just say, "I'm not even mad . . . that's amazing."

At Oakland by 1 over Tennessee: The Pick - Titans

Speaking of factories of sadness, I'm still carrying Jake Locker on the roster of one of my fantasy teams because when three of your first four picks were Doug Martin, Stephen Jackson and Tom Brady, who really cares anymore? As for picking this game, good luck. You'd have a better chance of walking into a little league girls basketball game and asking a random parent if they want to put a hundy on the red team. (I wouldn't advise doing that by the way).

At Baltimore by 4 over N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Ravens

If the Dolphins lose to the Panthers and the Ravens can pull-out a win against the Jets at home (didn't think I'd be writing that three months ago), then I believe the defending champs will move into control of the second AFC wild card spot with a record of 5-6. It's sad but not quite as sad as the clock management display put on by John Harbaugh last week after he magically found his team with first and goal at the 5 yard line with 1:11 on the clock and two timeouts left (they would have had all three if not for a completely wasted challenge call but that's a whole other topic).

On first down, Ray Rice ran it to the 2 yard line and the Ravens called timeout with 23 seconds left. Fine. Now here's where brainlock set-in. The Ravens had second and goal from the 2 yard line with one timeout which they would need to stop the clock for the game tying field goal if necessary. If they run it there and don't make it, they (a) have to use their last timeout so they can run one more play before kicking the field goal and (b) the third down play will have to be a pass because they will need a touchdown to win or an incompletion to stop the clock. If, however, they pass on second down and don't make it, they will still have a timeout left for third down so the defense won't know if a run or pass is coming. So what did they do? Handoff to Ray Rice for a loss of a yard. Timeout. Fumbled snap. Incomplete pass. Field goal. Overtime. Loss. Blech.

At St. Louis by 1 over Chicago: The Pick - Rams

Note that I was all set to blast Marc Trestman for what I initially thought was his superior clock management screw-up against the Ravens but then I read this explanation and, I must admit, I agree with him. I'm glad to see someone's finally thinking this stuff through. Unfortunately for the Bears, this whole Josh McCown thing can't keep rolling and the Rams are just the defense to derail it.  

These ridiculous outfits are
what happen when you move
a team from LA to St. Louis.
At Arizona by 2 over Indianapolis: The Pick - Cardinals

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere on or about September 5th that the Cardinals were going to go 10-6 this year and take one of the NFC wild card spots (oh wait, here it is FGR Week 1 NFL Picks). Well after ripping-off three consecutive wins over the murderer's row of Atlanta, Houston and Jacksonville, the Cardinals are sitting at 6-4, tied for the second wild card spot with the 49ers and Bears. I like them here because I'm starting to think that the Colts might be frauds without Reggie Wayne. At least their recent shaky play has had a pie-hole shutting effect on Jim Irsay and we can all be thankful for that as we head into this holiday week.

At N.Y. Giants by 2.5 over Dallas: The Pick - Giants

For years Pat Summerall was the voice of the NFC East. Every Sunday on CBS, it seemed like their was a match-up involving the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles and Redskins and it always seemed to matter. Pat Summerall died on April 16th of this year and the NFC East apparently died with him as these four teams are scratching and crawling over each other to see who can reach 8-8 first to earn the right to get blasted out of the playoffs at home in the first round. At this point, I'm envisioning a three interception game by Eli Manning against the Panthers so I'm riding the Giants to that inevitable beatdown.

Denver by 2.5 at New England: The Pick - Broncos

Hey look it's the Broncos playing another night game. Or to quote Alan Arkin from Little Miss Sunshine,**** "what's that the Broncos? . . . every night it's the fuckin' Broncos . . . Holy God Almighty . . . is it possible just once we get something to watch around here that's not the Goddamned fucking Broncos . . . I'm just sayin'." (Clearly losing steam on the picks at this point).

San Francsico by 4.5 at Washington: The Pick - 49ers

Remember not so long ago when we were debating the best young quarterback in the league and Ron Jaworski was saying things like, "Colin Kapernick could be the best of all-time." And remember when Kaepernick wore sunglasses inside at the ESPY Awards. And remember when RG, III was "all-in for week one." And remember when his best throw last week was the one where he threw his coaches and receivers under the bus after the game. And remember when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. Ahhhhh . . . the salad days. What? Oh yeah, the 49ers should dominate this game but it's really a no-lose scenario for those of us who despise both of these teams because there is a strong chance that we may get to see the head of at least one really unlikeable coach explode.

Last Week's Record: 9-4-2 . . . Season Record: 89-69-3

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

The FGR Fantasy Squad

You may have noticed that I kind of abandoned the fictional fantasy squad and I just wanted to let you know that there is a good reason for that. Everything I write is judged by the same standard: "would I want to read that?" The answers to that question generally ranges anywhere from "yes" to "maybe" to "no" to "can I have that 30 seconds of my life back?" When looking back over the fantasy stuff I had written, I found that most of it fell into one of the last two categories. Besides, I drafted a starting line-up below so I'm pretty sure I'm kicking the crap out of every other fictional fantasy lineup (to the extent there are any) thereby proving my point (season long fantasy rank per position in parentheses):
"Oh my . . . where in the
hell is that kick going?"

QB - Matthew Stafford (3rd)
RB - LeSean McCoy (1st)
RB - Chris Johnson (10th)
WR - T.Y. Hilton (15th)
WR - Alshon Jefferey (11th)
TE - Jason Witten (7th)
FX - Knowshon Moreno (6th)
K - Jay Feely (17th)(Nobody's perfect)
D - Ravens (11th)

Average Points Per Game: An Assload

Endnotes

* For me, that means anything in the 45 to 60 minute range. It's just not quite far enough to get a hotel room for the weekend but just a little too far to drive home between soccer games so you find yourself sitting at the Chick-fil-A asking your kids if they want another refill on their drink like Mark Ratner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High when he forgot his wallet. Speaking of Fast Times, is there a more painful scene to re-watch than Mike Damone and Stacy having sex in the pool house? I know we all looked like that the first time but Jesus, I don't need to see it on screen.

** If you want to know why bad teams stay bad, you need look no further than that 2012 draft. In addition to the Jags taking Blackmon who was a suspension waiting to happen, the Browns screwed-up the chance to trade-up and get RG, III and then used the 3rd pick on Trent Richardson (since traded to the Colts) and the 22nd pick on Brandon Weedon, a 28 year old rookie (seriously) who is currently the 33rd rated passer in the league.

Do the Rob Ford pictures even
need captions anymore?
*** I'm going to be very disappointed if Rob Ford doesn't get his own Kenny Powers style show when his political career finally runs its course. In the meantime, we need The Daily Show or Jimmy Kimmel to hit the streets of Toronto and start asking people the number one reason they voted for Ford because, when you look at pictures like this one, even we Americans are entitled to an explanation as to how this man was elected mayor of the largest city in the third most important country in North America.

**** One of the all-time classic scenes from one of the all-time most underrated movies. If you've never seen it, just enjoy this 14 second segment.