Tag Archives: NFL

Top 10 2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers

If you are a serious, no-nonsense, balls-to-the-wall fantasy football player like I am, then you already know what I am about to say, so feel free to skip ahead a bit.  As for the rest of you, here goes: there is no offseason in fantasy football.  Right now you should be paying attention to who, among the teams in the playoffs, is getting the ball and how much they are getting it.  Bernard Pierce’s game against the Colts told me more about him then all 16 games of the regular season did combined.  To prove my point, I submit the fact that Matthew Berry, the preeminent fantasy guru, has already released his top 200 players for 2013, which got me thinking.  I know its early, but I immediately identified more than a handful of players whom I think were undervalued based on his initial rankings.  In the words of fantasy athletics these are known as “sleepers”.  So here you go, for your reading pleasure I submit my list of 2013 fantasy football sleepers.  And just so we are on the same page, here is my definition of what a “sleeper” is:  I define a sleeper as a player who will outperform his average draft position by no less than 10 spots, or one full standard league round.  So a fifth round sleeper would be expected to perform as well, if not better than, a player selected in the fourth round.  So, without further ado, here they are.

  • #53 Greg Jennings, WR22, 6th Round.  In 2012 the 22nd best WR was Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers with his 73 receptions for 1,174 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Jennings missed most of 2012 with an injury but did show he was back at 100% in Green Bay’s season finale in which he caught 8 balls for 120 yards and 2 TD’s.  He will be one of the most highly coveted free agents this offseason and at only 30 years old should have no problem being a top 15 WR next year worthy of a selection within the first five rounds of the draft.  1200 yards and 8 touchdowns are easily attainable.  Even if he were to stay in Green Bay it changes nothing as Jennings is Rodgers favorite target.
  • #69 Torrey Smith, WR29, 7th Round.  In 2012 the 29th best WR was Austin Miles of the Dallas Cowboys with his 946 yards and 6 touchdowns.  In 2012, Smith’s second year in the NFL, he had 984 receiving yards and 10 TD’s.  Traditionally, a wide receiver usually really starts to come into his own during his third year in the league.  Anyone who watched the Baltimore-Denver AFC Divisional game last week knows that it is laughable to actually think that Smith will regress in 2013.  Barring any unforeseen setbacks, if you’re on the clock in the fourth round and he’s still available then he has the potential to be the steal of your draft.
  • #70 Vick Ballard, RB25, 7th Round.  In 2012 the 25th best running back was Willis McGahee and his 952 total yards and four touchdowns.  Come on!  What the Colts have going on the offensive side of the ball is something special.  The Donald Brown era is all but over.  I fully expect Ballard to enter 2013 as their primary, if not feaure, back who will get all the goal line work.  In today’s NFL no primary+goal line back lasts until the 7th round of a fantasy draft.  Barring a move via the draft or something unexpected during free agency, Ballard is no worse than a top 15 RB worth selecting during the first five rounds of the draft.
  • #86 Jacquizz Rodgers, RB29, 9th Round.  The 29th best running back of 2012 was Denver’s Knowshon Moreno and his 748 total yards and 5 total TD’s.  Much of my argument for Rodgers is the same as above for Ballard.  Michael Turner’s role in the Atlanta offense is being reduced, if not phased out entirely by next year, and Rodgers is who they are going to turn to.  To sum it up, as a rookie, in a part time role, Rodgers totaled 836 yards of offense and 2 TD’s.  With him having an increased role next year, there is no reason not to think that he won’t compile another combined 400 yards of offense and an additional 4-6 TD’s.  He is an ideal flex candidate with RB2 upside worth selecting by the 6th round.
  • #89 Josh Gordon, WR40, 9th Round.  In 2012 the 41st best WR was Santana Moss and his 592 yards and 8 TD’s.  Josh Gordon was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 supplemental draft.  What that means, the nuts-and-bolts of it at least, is instead of joining his team in April like all the rest of the rookies did, he didn’t join the Browns until July. But that didn’t stop him from leading the Browns in receiving yards with 805 receiving TD’s with 5. And, oh by the way, did I mention he didn’t even play a down of competitive football in 2011 because of off the field problems?  At 6’3” 225lbs Gordon has the potential to be a star in the NFL and should be drafted as a WR3 with serious WR1 potential no later than the 6th round.
  • #90 TY Hilton, WR41, 9th Round.  In 2012 the 41st best WR was Larry Fitzgerald and his fantasy season-ruining 798 yards and 4 TD’s.  In 2012 Hilton, a rookie, had 927 yards and 7 TD’s.   506 of those yards and 5 TD’s came over Hilton’s final seven games, which means to me, as the season progressed, he and fellow rookie Andrew Luck, really began to develop some chemistry.  Next year Reggie Wayne, who Matthew Berry lists as his 13th best WR, 37th overall, turn 35.  I expect Wayne to produce closer to where Mr. Berry projects Hilton to be and vice-versa.  I’ll say it again, what Indianapolis has brewing on the offensive side of the ball is something special and fantasy owners had better pay attention.
  • #97 Kendall Wright, WR46, 10th Round.  In 2012 the 46th best WR was Donnie Avery with 793 yards and 3 TD’s.  Last year, as a rookie, Wright led the Titans in both receptions, 64, and targets, 104. His 626 yards were good for second on the team and his 4 touchdowns put him in a four-way tie for the team lead.  I expect him to easily surpass those numbers in 2013.  Why?  If for no better reason than we are not even through January yet, and Kenny Britt has already had to talk to the police about a shooting/stabbing.  There is no way this guy lasts another seven months without some type of off the field incident which will undoubtedly negatively impact his fantasy value.  Wright is a steal as early as the 8th round and should be viewed as a WR3 with WR2 upside.
  • #119 David Wilson, RB41, 12th Round.  In 2012 the 41st best fantasy football was Bilal Powell and his 577 total yards and 4 TD’s.  I know, Wilson can’t pass-block, I get it.  He does everything else at a nearly elite level.  The whole pass-blocking thing will get figured out, the Giants need Wilson on the field starting game one in 2013 and 1,000 combined yards, 8 total TD’s is what I set the minimum bar at.  Draft as a flex no later than round 8 and expect big time production from him as you become the envy of your draft.
  • #132 Bernard Pierce, RB45, 14th Round.  In 2012 the 45th best fantasy running back was LaRod Stephens-Howling with 463 total yards and 4 TD’s.  If in 2013 you own Ray Rice, than you need to also draft Pierce.  He is a necessary handcuff that may wind up sneaking into your lineup, even with Ray Rice playing, as a viable flex option.  You don’t take a player in the third round of the NFL draft, as Baltimore did with Pierce, to have him sit on the bench.  The Ravens will find a way to get the ball into Pierce’s hands and I expect him to make the most of his opportunities.
  • #135 Kendall Hunter, RB 48, 14th Round.  In 2012 David Wilson was the 48th best fantasy running back with 395 total yards and 5 TD’s.  Before tearing his Achilles tendon, Hunter was doing a great job as Frank Gore’s backup, averaging 5.2ypc.  Hunter is another player who falls under the category of must-have handcuff with serious upside.  Frank Gore had a superb 2012 campaign with 1,200+ yards and 8 TD’s but will be 30 next year and at some point he will start to slow down.  I’d feel comfortable taking Hunter in the 10th round knowing, at the very least, if Gore were to get banged up, then I am sitting on a lottery ticket by way of having a RB1 on my bench.  (On a side note, if LaMichael James were to be #2 on the 2013 SF depth chart, and not Hunter, then insert him here instead.)
  • #141 Ronnie Hillman, RB51, 15th Round.  The 51st best fantasy RB in 2012 was Maurice Jones-Drew who got hurt in the Jaguars’ sixth game of the year.  Another young, talented back, who was a third round draft pick, playing behind a productive, but aging (by NFL running back standards) veteran.  Willis McGahee will be 32 years old next year and can not be counted on to carry a full workload, which is where Hillman comes in.  Draft him around round 10 and you won’t be disappointed.
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BRONCOS-RAVENS PREVIEW

Today’s Broncos-Ravens matchup is one of quarterbacks who are at polar opposite ends of the “pressure-spectrum.”  On one hand you’ve got Canton-bound, all-world Peyton Manning who, if he retired today, before this game’s 4:30pm kickoff, would still be destined to be in the discussion for one of the game’s all-time greats.  Manning’s legacy has already been defined, now he is just looking to add some hardware to his resume. Due simply to the fact that at this time last year we were wondering not when but if he would ever play again, Manning is the quarterback with the least amount of pressure to win this weekend.

Then on the other end of the pressure-spectrum you’ve got Baltimore’s Joe Flacco who might be the most accomplished fifth year quarterback in NFL history to never be selected to the Pro Bowl or play in a Super Bowl.

Flacco has set NFL records for playoff wins by a rookie (2), most regular season wins by a quarterback in his first five seasons (54), and is the only quarterback in NFL history to win a postseason game in each of his first five seasons.  But despite all that, the self-proclaimed “best” quarterback in the NFL is without a contract for the 2013 season which makes him the only starting quarterback left in the postseason who is playing for his next paycheck.

Unfortunately for Flacco, as an NFL quarterback, until you have proved you can do “it” (and by “it” I mean win, or at least make, the Super Bowl), you are not defined by what you have done, but rather by what you haven’t.  Furthermore, fans of the “ADD  Generation” do not remember circumstances; they remember results.  They don’t care if Lee Evans dropped the game winning touchdown in last year’s AFC Championship game which would have sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl, nor the fact that Billy Cundiff subsequently missed an easy 32-yard field goal which would have tied the game.  No, all that gets remembered is Flacco lost, again, and is now 0-2 when a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line.  Right or wrong, that’s the way it is.

Finally, there are 42 other combined starters for the Broncos and Ravens who aren’t named Manning or Flacco that will also have a say in how this game ends.  For my money, there are four key factors which determine the outcome of any football game.

1)      Win on third down

2)      Protect your quarterback

3)      Be the least penalized team

4)      Win the battle of field position

That’s it, winning and losing in the NFL in a nutshell.  The Denver Broncos hold the edge in all four of those factors.  On offense they convert 45.1% of their 3rd downs while Baltimore converts at only a 36.9% rate.  On defense, the Broncos held their opponents to a conversion rate of 30.6% which led the NFL whereas the Ravens 35.8% was eighth.  Peyton Manning was only sacked 21 times compared to Flacco’s 35, and, as a bonus, the Broncos’ D led the NFL with 52 sacks whereas Baltimore’s 37 had them in a three-way tie for 15th.  Denver was flagged only 100 times, versus Baltimore’s 121, and in 16 fewer punt returns than Baltimore (33 versus 49) Denver amassed more yards (445 versus 404).

What does this all mean?  It means that despite all the hub-a-ba-loo regarding Peyton Manning having never won a playoff game in which the temperature was below 40 degrees at kickoff (0-3), I expect the Denver Broncos to win and win big today (and by big I mean by more than the nine point spread which they currently are) and for the controversy regarding just how valuable Joe Flacco is as an NFL quarterback to continue to be determined another day.

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Like statisticals?  I got one for you: When Greg McElroy takes his first snap against the Chargers on Sunday he will be the first quarterback selected in the 7th round of the NFL draft to start ahead of not one but two former first round draft picks!

Not a stat guy?  No problem, here’s it put another way:  On Sunday the New York Jet-ropolitains will have the dubious distinction of having  the most popular backup quarterback in NFL history, Tebow, AND it’s most expensive, Sanchez, both play clipboard-jockey to a former 7th round draft pick.

Either way on Sunday the New York Jets are making history, only the wrong kind.

Links:

Here is something I found when I Googled “Greg McElroy draft analysis”.  It lists that he was a finalist for the “Wooden Citizenship Cup”. I don’t know what that is but I think it means he is good at golf and friendship.

Great article I found while researching the specifics of the contract extensions Sanchez signed.  You can skip it all until you get to the fifth point Manish Mehta made and take it from there.  Here are my two favorite parts of the article, ” If Sanchez disappoints in 2012, the Jets may be able to trade him. They aren’t necessarily locked into keeping him for the next two seasons. Why would anyone want to trade for Sanchez at that point? Well, teams would only have to make a $8.75 million commitment ($20.5M minus $11.75M paid in 2012) for a four-year contract. That could happen unless Sanchez regresses badly.

And, “The worst case scenario for Gang Green: Sanchez regresses badly in 2012 and can’t be dealt after the season. If he underperforms again in 2013, the Jets could simply release him.”

Can anybody say foreshadowing?

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It’s Finally Happened! #NFL Referee Flags a Player for Hitting Too Hard

no fun league

I have been predicting  for years that eventually NFL referees will begin flagging  defenders for “tackling too hard.”  Well, in yesterday’s Bengals-Cowboys game that is exactly what they did.  Sure, they didn’t explicitly say that’s the reason why they flagged CIN safety Reggie Nelson for this hit on DAL WR Dez Bryant (fast forward to the two-minute mark) but Roger Goodell himself couldn’t convince me otherwise. 

Do they understand that defensive players have to earn their paychecks too?  In today’s NFL, with Goodell’s player safety initiative, that was as clean of a hit you can get.  What is Nelson supposed to do in that scenario, just give up and let him catch the ball?  That’s absurd!

And how does the back judge, aka the ref with the worst point of view on the play, make that call?  He has no business at all throwing that flag based on his position on the field.  These personal foul calls have gone so way beyond ridiculous at this point they’re laughable.

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Week 14 Picks & Fantasy

Tennessee at Indianapolis (Colts -4.5)

I love the Colts at home where they are 5-1 ATS while the Titans are 2-4 against it on the road.  If this Colts team really wants to make the playoffs, and they should, they need to win this game.  The are currently in with their 8-4  record but still have to play division/conference leader Houston twice over their last four.  That turns today and week 16 in KC into “must win” games.  The Colts keep rolling and I don’t see them having a let down at home.

San Diego at Pittsburgh (Steelers -9)

The Chargers are putrid and they are playing for nothing.  Even if they win out the Norv Turner pink slip is already written, it’s only a matter of time now.  Roethlisberger is playing  and Polamalu is stringing together a few games in a row and should be rounding into top form.  The Steelers D is first in the NFL allowing only 166.7 yards per game through the air and I don’t see San Diego traveling across the country in a meaningless, cold weather game bucking that trend.

NY Jets at Jacksonville (Jaguars +3)

The Jets are bad and Sanchez is worse.  Sure, this may be his last chance to save his NFL career (at least in New York) but I don’t care, he is playing bad.  He is turning the ball over way too much and has no confidence in himself nor his teammates.  You can not compete at the NFL level without confidence.  The Jag’s are playing for nothing EXCEPT 2013 roster spots, don’t discount that.  Backup turned starter Chad Henne wants a job next year and is very familiar with Rex Ryan and they Jets from his days as Miami’s signal caller.  Take the home dog here.

Other games i like: Miami +10 @ SF.  Dolphins always play the West tough.  Philly +9 @ TB.  The Buc’s win this game but 9 is way too many points for a defense that’s last in the NFL against the pass allowing 309.4 ypg.  Houston +3.5 @ NE.  This will be a close game either way.  New England won’t be able to protect Brady enough against the NFL MVP candidate JJ Watt led pass rush nor will they be able to run the ball effectively on the leagues second ranked (87.6 ypg) rush defense.

Fantasy

Week 14 (in most leagues) signals the beginning of the playoffs.  It also is the time where you need to forget about names and draft positions and let matchups and “what have you done for me lately” be the top two factors to determine who you start and sit.

Start: Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman. Freeman has been a pleasant surprise this year.  He is the 11th overall QB in standard scoring leagues.  But as i said earlier, matchups should be the number one determing factor in who to play this week and Freeman has a saucy one.

Start: Tampa Bay WR Mike Williams.  This is one of my favorite matchups of week 14.  The Eagles are putrid against the pass and will have their hands full trying to shut down Vincent Jackson.  Who reaps the benefits of that? Williams does.  I say he is good for no worse than 90 yards and a TD maybe more.

Start: Indianapolis RB Vick Ballard.  At some point the Colts will need to become at least mildly effective on the ground.  Donald Brown is out so that means Ballard gets the lions-share of the carries.  The Titans D give up 129 yards on the ground and that is not out of the realm of possibility in this game.  Last time these teams met, D Brown and Ballard rushed for 135 yds combined and Ballard got into the end zone on a 16 yard TD pass.

Start: St Louis WR Chris Gibson.  This just in, Danny Amendola is out and Buffalo is awful against the pass.  Someone on the Rams is going to have to catch the ball and Gibson has been the most effective at doing so.  I’d start him over Larry Fitzgerald.

Start: Tennesse WR Kenny Britt.  It all depends on what you are looking for.  If you are desperate for a WR2 or flex then  i love Kenny Britt.  Britt has caught a TD in two straight games, he is the healthiest he’s been all year and, all about the matchup again, the Colts have let up 15 TD’s to opposing WR’s and are giving up an average of 24.3 fantasy ppg to them.  Realistically Britt is a flex options with WR1 potential.

Start: Pittsburgh RB Jonathan Dwyer.  Here is the case for him, Tomlin has said no more “hot hand” approach.  Dwyer is the starter, Redman the backup and Mendenhall is inactive.  Opposing RB’s are averaging 129 yards on the ground over San Diego’s last three games and the Steelers are going to want to limit Roethlisberger’s drop back to protect his achy ribs.  Expect Dwyer to have an unspectacular but solid game against the Chargers.  80 yards and a TD is easily attainable.  It might take him 33 attempts to get there but that doesn’t matter as ypc has no effect on your fantasy game.

 Start: Minnesota TE Kyle Rudolph.  He’s had touchdowns in three straight games and he scored last time these two teams met plus the Vikings have no one else to throw to.

Deep Start: Philadelphia WR Riley Cooper.  This start might not be for everyone but if you’re really hurting and/or in a PPR format, I’d go with the former Florida standout.  As mentioned above, the Bucs’ are last in the NFL against the pass.  When these backup QB’s like Foles come in, sometimes they have more success going to guys like Cooper who aren’t the teams’ big name players but rather the player they are more comfortable with because they get reps together in practice.

Other guys I like: INDI WR TY Hilton, NYG RB Ahmad Bradshaw, STL RB Steven Jackson, WAS RB Alfred Morris, PIT WR Antonio Brown and NO WR Lance Moore.

Sit: Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald.  If you are lucky enough to be in the playoffs and have Fitz on your team, congratulations.  Now sit him down and scour the waiver wire if you haven’t already.  Just based on the matchup alone I’d probably go with the aforementioned Riley Cooper over the future HOF.  SEA CB Browner is playing and should be effective against the John Skelton led pass attack.  Fun fact, Larry Fitzgerald has the most red zone targets without a touchdown catch ( in the rz) in the NFL.

Sit: New York Jets RB Shonn Greene.  If i had to, I’d rather start Bilal Powell.  Who, when healthy  has been more effective than Greene. To describe Greene’s running style as “plodding” would even be generous.

Sit: Dallas QB Tony Romo.  Only two QB’s all year have thrown for multiple TD’s against the Bengals and only one passer has topped 300 yards.  There are better options out there.

Sit: San Diego RB Ryan Matthews.  See Larry Fitzgerald above.  Matthews won’t bust his slump against the Pittsburgh defense in Pitt.  He’s only had double-digit fantasy points once all year!

Sit: Miami RB Reggie Bush.  Usually you should sit every RB who faces the vaunted 49er defense and Bush is no different.  He’s had to compete with second year runner Daniel Thomas for carries over the past five games to the point where it is definitely a “time-share” situation with Bush on the losing end because Thomas gets the red zone touches.  FYI sit Thomas as well.  Oh by the way, all-world LT Jake Long is on IR after sustaining a season ending triceps injury last week.  I want nothing to do with the Miami backfield.

Sit: Buffalo WR Steve Johnson.  The Rams defense might not have much but it does have a legit shutdown corner in Cortland Finnegan who should have no problem taking  a second-third tier WR1 like Steve Johsnon out of the equation.  In fact, he has made a career out of shutting down Steve Johnson types.

Sit: San Francisco RB Frank Gore.  It has been a very nice year for Gore who is the ninth best RB in standard scoring leagues.  BUT Miami only gives up 97.7 yard on the ground and defense travels.  It might be hard to do figuring you rode Gore this far and i still like him as more of a flex option but do not expect Gore to be the typical RB1 he usually is and single handedly win your playoff game for you.  I expect guys like BJGE, Mikel Leshoure and Jonathan Dwyer all to have better games.

Other guys I don’t like: SF TE Vernon Davis, CAR WR Steve Smith, DAL WR Austin Miles, BUF RB Fred Jackson, ATL RB Michael Turner, DAL RB Demarco Murray and PHI RB Bryce Brown.

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New England 23 Miami 16 Game Notes

Tannehill Scores

Tannehill Scores

“‘Tom, 24/40 238yds 1 TD 1 INT and 4 sacks isn’t very Brady-like now is it?”

For those of you in a hurry I’ll give you the twitter-ized version: They (NE) have Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez and we (MIA) don’t.   Miami loses to the Patriots 23-16.  That’s all you need to know in 140 characters or less.

I’ll keep going for those of you who’d like to know more.  I watched every single snap of the Miami-New England game.  Some multiple times.  On every play I asked myself, “Who more accomplished their goal during that play?”  and assigned a winner based solely on that criteria.

For the game, the Patriots won 89 of 167 plays, or 53% of them.

Miami shot themselves in the foot early.  After receiving the ball to start the game they couldn’t even execute something as simple as a ” 3 and out” on offense.  The punter Brandon Fields couldn’t handle the low snap and New England took over first and 10 from Miami’s 12.

A touchdown run by Ridley ensued.  7-0 Patriots.

On the Patriots next possession the Dolphins did a nice job of playing a “bend but don’t break” style of defense which kept this game reasonably close all day.  Aided by a holding penalty and some well-timed 3rd down pressure on Brady, Miami held New England to zero points after Gostkowski missed a 49 yard FG.

Miami got the ball at midfield but failed to do anything with it and is forced to punt.  On second down, Tannehill overthrew a wide open Brian Hartline.  It would have been a touchdown had it been completed.  This was the first of two occasions in which Tannehill showed that he struggles to hit wide open receivers.

Miami pins New England inside their own 3 and three plays later #20 Jones does a great job of covering #81 Hernandez.  He picked Brady off  it off and took s it to the house! BUT…FLAG.  Two of them actually.  Off-setting and on the return.  Miami keeps the ball but loses the touchdown.

The Miami penalty hurts them.  They wind up trading seven for three when all they can muster is a 44 yard Dan Carpenter FG.  And are lucky to get that because #33 D Thomas put the ball on the ground but #68 Incognito bailed him out and RG John Jerry got flagged for holding.  7-3 Patriots.

END of the 1st QUARTER

On the opening drive of the 2nd quarter Miami committed their second special teams turnover of the game.  On 3rd & short Miami goes all out for the punt block, missed the ball but nail the punter, 15yd personal foul, 1st down Patriots.  Awful job out of #27 Jimmy Wilson on the play.  That can not happen.

After a soft pass interference penalty on #2o Jones and some missed tackles by #25 ( I don’t know who he is and don’t feel the need to look it up) and #58 Dansby, on 2nd & G from the Miami 7 #12 Brady makes the perfect adjustment at the line and hits #83 Welker on a screen for an easy touchdown.

 14-3 Patriots and there is  a lot of time left for this game to get out of hand.

Miami gets the ball and it gets worse.  The offense goes nowhere on 1st and 2nd down.  Then on 3rd & 4 the Patriots backup LB #99 Trevor Scott dominated Miami backup (Jake Long left early with a triceps injury and did not return) T #75 Nate Garner and gets the ever valuable sack-fumble on Tannehill which Wilfork recovers (and promptly gives to Mrs. Wilfork).

Miami does a good job of holding The Pats to a field goal.  Its 17-3 Miami and not looking good.

Miami takes over 1st & 10 at their own 20.  HOLDING #80 Fasano.  1st & 20 at their own 10.  This is starting to get ugly.

FALSE START #82 Hartline.  1st & 25 at their own 5.  It’s going from bad to worse with way too much time on the clock.  It looked like things were about to get ugly…

Only they didn’t.

From there, Miami goes on an impressive 13 play 95 yard drive which ends with #17 Tannehill calling his own number and diving into the end zone off a nice play fake.  TOUCHDOWN!

17-10 Patriots.  We got a game folks.

On the drive Miami “won” 10/13 plays and had nice individual efforts by Fasano, Hartline and Bess picking up critical yards to keep the drive alive and by #68 Incognito and #51  Pouncey paving the way for them.

New England takes a knee to end the half.  They go into the locker room with a seven point lead but the game very much still in doubt.

New England gets the ball to start the 3rd quarter but goes three and out.  On 3rd & 3 #55 Misi gave a superior effort by taking on not one but two blocks to set the edge and force NE to punt.

For the rest of the 3rd quarter Miami and New England trade punts.  On a critical 3rd down #91 Wake got his 10th sack of the year which knocked Brady and the Patriots out of field goal range.  And on a just as critical 3rd & 14 for Miami #15 Bess turned what looked to be a sure 1st down into punt.

I don’t know what #15’s problem is but I am not impressed with him at all.  I have never seen a WR who catches the ball on 3rd down short of the sticks more often than he does.  It’s like he is allergic to first downs.  Between the drops, not being on the same page as his QB and plays like this which are all too frequent, I’m done with him.

3rd quarter ends with New England leading 17-10 but deep in Dolphin territory with a 3rd & 1.

Which NE’s #81 Aaron Hernandez converts.  Only fitting, he had the catch on 2nd down to set up 3rd and short then he finished it.

Trouble.  NE has it 1st & G from the 2.

But wait.  Again, bend but don’t break.  Sacks by #20 Jones and #55 Misi book ending a 2nd down Welker drop in the end zone (nice pressure by #98 Odrick may have played a part in that) and all of a sudden the Pats have to settle for a FG.

20-10 New England and if you believe in moral victories, Miami’s defense just scored a huge on there.

Miami gets the ball on their own 20 and goes on another impressive 13 play drive which ended in points.  Unfortunately they have to settle for a field goal after their own trip to the red zone.

But it is another drive where Miami left points on the board.  On the third play of the drive, from their own 33, Tannehill severely under-throws a wide open #82 Hartline on another play which could have easily ended with a touchdown instead of an incomplete pass.

The drive was highlighted by a tough 4th & 1 conversion by #33 Thomas on the NE 22.  #68 Incognito basically won the play himself by flat-out dominating Patriots’ all-world DT #75 Vince Wilfork.

With 8:28 remaining Patriots 20 Miami 13 and the Dolphins have all three of their timeouts.  It’s official, game on.

But, being the savvy veteran team they are, led by the mad scientist Bill Beli-cheat himself, New England gets the ball and all but ends the game.

They take over on their own 20 and march down the field on a 16 play drive that ends in a field goal which makes it a two score game but more importantly they strangled 7:18 from the clock and ate up all three of Miami’s timeouts AND the two-minute warning.

With only 70 seconds remaining, Patriots lead 23-13 and a two score game means Miami chances of winning are all but over.  But they do make it interesting until the bitter end with two big “chunk” yards completions to the sidelines.  They muster a FG to make it 23-16 and ensure they at least cover the spread as a 9pt underdog but that’s all.  New England easily recovered the onside kick attempt, game over.

It was a loss, a tough one at that but there were some positive things to come of it.

For Miami #55, #96 and #20 all had exceptional games to lead the defense.  I thought the Incognito-Wilfork battle was pretty even and very fun to watch.  Wilfork dominated early but Incognito did a nice job of battling back and did some dominating of his own.  The Patriots entered the game having given up only 15 sacks on the year and the Miami defense got to Brady a season high four times.  

Click to watch the full game highlights here.

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Turkey Day Football Notes

  • Brandon Moore’s butt meets Mark Sanchez’s face

  • In case you missed it, on Thursday night the Jets proved they only need 53 seconds to lose an entire football game.
  • Stat of the Day: Brandon Moore’s ass had more sacks then the entire Jets defense.   Sanchez hits the hole, hard.
  • The Jets and Patriots played the funniest game of football I’ve ever seen.  The Jets have comedic timing that is surpassed maybe only by the 3 Stooges.  They can’t even fumble right, the ball goes flying through the air.
  • Looking for a fun game to play with your buddies?  Watch the Jets-Patriots game and drink every time they say the name of a former Miami Dolphin player. You’ll be wrecked by halftime. Donald Thomas leads the way, drink.  Clyde Gates checks into the game, drink.  Lex Hilliard is the starting fullback, drink.  Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has his hands full, drink.  That’s special teams coach Mike Westhoff, drink.  Rob Ninkovich gets the sack, drink. Welker for 14, Welker for 9, Welker for 16, drink, drink, drink.  Welker gets brought down by Yeremiah Bell, drink double.
  • Every time i watch RG3 play i remember that he is better than i think he is.  Are there better examples of quarterbacks who do “more with less” than he and Andrew Luck?  There are question marks and rookies all over both of their offenses but somehow they get it done.
  • On the other side of the coin, is there a better example of a quarterback who does “less with less” than Mark Sanchez?  I get it, your team sucks, deal with it, I’m sick of hearing about it.  What those rookies are accomplishing with their offenses puts your argument to shame.  Great QBs find a way to make it work, inferior ones use it as an excuse.
  • Just because the play would have been reviewed (and thus overturned) if Jim Shwartz had not violated the stupidest rule in the history of the NFL does not let the referees from the Lions-Texans game off the hook.  Both the runner’s elbow and knee touched the ground.  It’s inexcusable that the refs missed that.
  • So far this NFL season we have seen two touchdowns scored which have ultimately decided games that everybody watching  knew was not a touchdown except for the employees of the NFL.
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Charges Dropped Against Adrian Peterson

The resisting arrest charge against Adrian Peterson from a July 7th incident outside a Houston area night club has been dropped.

This is good because, in Texas, the punishment for resisting arrest is death by electrocution plus firing squad then they hang you, and I really need AD alive and well for the fantasy playoffs stretch run. (Seriously, screw the money, my league has a trophy, that’s all I want.)

But on a serious note, when these “star athlete arrested” stories first happen, they’re breaking news. Then when the outcome is like this,charges dropped, the story is  nowhere near as sexy, so it gets treated as less than an afterthought, more of an unwanted obligation really, and that annoys me.

Other than his bone crushing handshake, I’ve never heard anyone say anything even remotely negative about Peterson so his name being cleared should be news.

On a side note, am I the only one who finds it fishy when someone is arrested for resisting arrest and that’s it? Shouldn’t there be another charge accompanying it in which you originally resisted and so the police charged you with both?  Could you imagine what that conversation would be like?
“Hey you’re under arrest.”
For what?
“Nothing”
Okay then bye.
“You resisted, now you’re really under arrest! Fool you!”

read the full story here on ESPN

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#Sports Rant

I want to start off by giving a big FU to the NFL for assuming that I have 3 days to devote to watching people’s names get called out on tv. 80% of whom I’ve never heard of before and probably will never hear again. This new draft format is awful and anyone who tells you different is just a whore to the NFL that thinks they (the NFL) crap gold.

New York Knicks

With Baron Davis and Mike Bibby as your PG’s, I don’t expect you to actually beat the Heat but I do expect progress, so this is my challenge to you: stay competitive. Prove to me that you belong on the same court as Miami. Steal the next road game, take the series back to The Garden tied 1-1 and give your fans at least the illusion of hope. Then win one game at home to reward the patience of your fan base who have watched you under-perform since 1999. Do that and consider it progress and the season a success.

New York Yankees

Michael Pinieda out of the year with a torn shoulder = worst case scenario realized. How the hell did you let the Seattle Mariner’s hose you like that? Who are you, the Mets? Here are some direct quotes from GM Brian Cashman, “Right now our hopes and dreams for this player are in jeopardy” and “This is a massive decision gone wrong right now.” If I consulted my Magic 8-Ball it would read outlook not too good.

Phil Hughes. I’m done with you. I don’t know what the problem is and nor do I care anymore. I can’t wait for your banishment to the bullpen so you can toil in your own squalid mediocrity out there. You are destined to be the answer to a trivia question and just a footnote in Yankee history, nothing more.

New York Rangers

If you want to continue participating in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs then at some point your goal scorers (ie Gaborik, Richards etc) are gonna have to start doing their job and put the puck in the back of the net.

Damn, Kreider looks like he’s the genuine real deal.

And finally (for the Rangers), all hail The King!

Miami Dolphins/Jeff Ireland

By taking the best quarterback available, Ryan Tannehill, at the eighth spot instead of the best player available, you proved to me that you have no idea what you are doing and are clueless when it comes to reading/manipulating a draft board. Simple question, if you don’t take Tannehill at 8 then who does and when? I contend he wouldn’t come off the board until Cleveland at #22.  If you were dead set on selecting Tannehill then at least you should have moved down a few spots to take him in the early to mid-teens and pick up a couple extra picks in the process. And don’t give me some BS about not having a partner to trade with because with all the shuffling and wheeling and dealing that went on in the first round I dont buy it for a second. If you couldn’t find someone to trade with on Thursday that means you didn’t try.

With the 8th pick I would have taken whoever was rated as the best overall player available instead of just the best QB. Whether it was Luke Kuechly or Michael Floyd or whomever. Then, if I really believed Tannehill was that good, I would have traded back into the first round somewhere between 9-21 and drafted him there. I’m thinking next years 1st, this years 2nd and one of the extra 3rds from CHI would be a fair price. Think of it this way, losing next years 1st is a wash because you’ll have two this year. Essentially you’re using next years pick now. And a 2nd and a 3rd is a small price to pay for a player who you deem to be a “franchise” quarterback, plus you’d still have your own 3rd rd pick. All you did on Thursday is prove that I know more about then NFL draft then you do.

You are not good enough, nor do you have enough elite top-tier NFL talent on the roster to be drafting players based on “need’ rather than “talent.” That is a luxury which only teams who are the proverbial “one player away” (like NE, PIT, GB) can afford. Right now the Miami Dolphins are one player, at EVERY position, away from being good.

More Draft Notes:

Best value pick: SD taking DE Melvin Ingram at #18. He fell that far only because teams were concerned his arms were “too short”. What a bunch of draft combine driven garbage. That’s the same type of nonsensical player evaluation logic which led to hall of fame players like Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas falling to the 3rd and 5th rds respectively, while workout warrior scrubs like Mike Mamula and Vernon Gholston became million dollar busts that left the Eagles and Jets looking like idiots. This guy is going to be a stud and make anyone who passed on him for that reason look like a moron.

Worst pick of the first round by a team not based in Miami: Seattle #15 DE/OLB Bruce Irvin. Talk about red flags, high school drop out, done jail time and arrested as recently as last month. Seems as if  Pete Carroll is still recruiting the ghettos just like he did at USC.  Most teams had him rated as a 3rd rounder.

Best draft party: Whitney Mercilus #26 Houston. Check out the video below. In addition to the girl who nearly flashed her hooch to the world, look behind the couch and notice how he basically surrounded
himself with hot white and Asian broads. Well done.

http://youtu.be/SBvK9mS5cOc

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Jeff Ireland needs to go

Jeff Ireland is turning the Miami Dolphins into a second-rate franchise that struggles to bring in top free agent talent unless they grossly over-pay them like Cleveland or Buffalo, if he hasn’t done so already.  How much longer does he get to try to convince us that he actually knows what he’s doing and isn’t just horrible at his job?

Tuesday afternoon he said, “We are halfway through the player acquisition period,’’ and “Let the process play out.”  I think he thinks that he’s going to have a big second half.  I don’t see how that is even possible, unless he knows some big huge secret which we don’t.  There will be no more players available that are anywhere near the caliber of Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, Eric Winston, Mario Williams and Vincent Jackson. The right way to look at the Miami Dolphins current situation is, it’s already at the halfway point but all the free agents actually worth acquiring are gone and the Dolphins failed to get any of them.  That is a big time fail.

In regards to the acquisition of David Garrard, this is what he said, “I’ve kind of been chasing him since Chad (Henne) got hurt last year.”   There are so many problems with that statement I’m not sure where to begin.  I guess I’ll start with the obvious first: maybe if you spent less time chasing David Garrard around you would have actually caught PeytonManning.

Second, what does the fact that you even had to chase David Garrard say about your overall job performance?  It can’t be good.  If you’re the GM of an NFL franchise, and have to do anything more than just pick up a phone, call an unemployed David Garrard and say ” Hey Dave, this is an NFL team, want to be a millionaire again?”  in order to get him, then you are horrible to the point that you’re a joke.  That should be the final nail in the coffin to your firing.

Third, what’s Jeff Ireland trying to say here? What’s his point, purpose, goal, etc?  Does he really think that he is going to convince Miami fans that we didn’t lose the Peyton, Matt Flynn, and (to a much lesser extent) Alex Smith sweepstakes but rather we won the David Garrard 50/50? Does Ireland really think fans are going to start buying season tickets in droves for the chance to see David Garrard play QB?

Here is some more insight into the Dolphin free agent strategy from Ireland, “We’re going to always make value-based decisions,’’.  I don’t get this bargain basement, value shopper mentality that has permeated the Dolphin front office for years.  This constant need to scrounge through other teams trash hoping to find some buried treasure.  Fans are sick of the front office running the team like its a pawn shop by jamming second-hand players like David Garrard, Kevin Burnett and Marc Columbo down our throats. There is a reason their former teams either let them walk or let them go, it’s because they are just polished up turds and not diamonds in the rough as Ireland and Co would have you believe.

This makes me so angry that in protest I’ve cancelled my plans to buy a new Dolphin jersey this year (It was gonna be Odrick based purely on his awesome Pee-Wee Herman sack dance. Respect).  In fact, for as long as Ireland is with the team, I vow not to buy a new jersey, unless it’s a player he either signed or drafted and is now on clearance because they are no longer with the team.

Name me one thing, one move, one decision, that Ireland made which has worked out.  If you say Jake Long, then you must be kidding.  You really think that it’s a notable accomplishment when the team with the #1 draft pick makes a good decision?  Doesn’t that fall into the category of just “doing your job”?  What has Karlos Dansby really done?  You traded two 2nd round picks for a player (Marshall) who you traded after two years, and no playoff appearances, for two 3rd rounders.  Second round pick Pat White is not even in the league anymore and I’m pretty sure Shawn Murphy isn’t either.

Cameron Wake?  Maybe, but is that the best you got?  Because if that’s all, then I contend Ireland’s most notable accomplishment in his Dolphins tenure so far is calling Dez Bryant’s mother a prostitute, and that is ridiculous.  Right now if any reasonable GM in the league who was faced with the possibility of a wide receiver corps led by Brian Hartline would rather have Dez Bryant instead of Jared Odrick and Koa Misi.  And can someone please explain to me why in the 2010 draft, which was stocked full of tight ends, they did not get Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez or even Dennis Pitta, when it was obvious that the team needed an explosive tight end?

I  do not understand the lowballing of Matt Flynn.  I have to admit, when I thought it would take no less then 5 years and at least 50 mil to sign him, I wasn’t so sure it was a good move.  But when I saw he signed for only 3 years 26mil total and only 10 guaranteed that seemed like a more then fair price to pay for a potential 26 year old starting quarterback who already knows your brand new offensive system.  Maybe he would have worked out, maybe he wouldn’t.  It’s widely speculated that Miami is now going to draft a quarterback, Ryan Tannehill with the 8th overall pick in the draft.  Maybe he’s the real deal, maybe he isn’t.  But if both players are going to involve significant levels of”maybe” then why not sign Flynn and use the 8th pick to fill one of the teams other glaring needs like SS, RT, WR and a second pass rusher?  That would seem like solid strategy to me.

And speaking of the draft, that stunt you pulled with Andy Dalton last year was ridiculous (during his standard pre-draft interview, getting to know you vist to Miami before last year’s draft one of the asst coaches barged in pretending to be a “diva receiver” and started yelling about getting the ball more).  I’m sure when that plan was concocted you probably thought it was so smart, you couldn’t wait to watch it play out, the suspense was killing you.  You were sitting there on the edge of your seat enjoying the smell of your own farts, thinking it was the most brilliant breakthrough in draft evaluation since the Jimmy Johnson value chart.  Wrong, it is the second dumbest thing I have ever heard of a professional sports franchise doing (2nd to calling someone’s mother a prostitute of course).  I’m willing to bet Andy Dalton still cracks people up with that story as he warns players around the NFL not to sign with Miami because they are a joke.

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