Notes from a Frustrated Fantasy Footballer
Before I get into full whine about how frustrated I am about the performance of certain NFL players thus far, I should mention that my fantasy football league, the one I've been in for over 25 years, does not reward points for players receiving for a measly 30 yards or rushing for 20, it's all about scoring plays and, as Randy Moss would say, it's straight cash homey. It's for this reason that this season is driving me outta my mind. Let me explain.
It all started a couple of weeks ago when I decided to play Carolina Panthers' wideout Steve Smith against an incredibly banged up New York Giants defensive backfield. Though I hadn't seen Smith play this year, it seemed like a safe move. To get right to the point, watching that game was a painful experience. Smith looked fantastic, like he hasn't lost a step, but the Carolina offense, which is all Cam Newton all the time, was atrocious. Rather than max protect and take some shots at the Giants secondary, Carolina decided to run a junior-college-type option with Newton. It was horrible. When Newton finally punched one in, because he has to score all of his team's touchdowns, the Panthers were already woefully behind. This didn't dissuade Cam from doing his Superman routine in the end zone though. Smith finally shook loose for a nice long gain, only after backup Derek Anderson came in to mop up. As I watched him almost break it for an improbable td, it occurred to me that he would be an absolute monster on a good team with a real offense. I sincerely believe he would put up touchdown numbers close to what Randy Moss once did were he to play for the Patriots.
This Thursday it was deja vu all over again. I had Larry Fitzgerald, one of the best receivers in the game, going against the Rams. As St. Louis' defensive line began treating the Cardinals O-line like the doors of WalMart during a Black Friday sale, Arizona did very little to stem the tide. Quarterback Kevin Kolb had almost zero time to go through one read let alone multiples. On the one instance he had Fitzgerald wide open for a td, he didn't see him at all. Through it all, Arizona decided to take their chances by emptying the backfield and sacrificing their QB instead of protecting him a bit and trying to hit Fitzgerald or one of the other receivers.
But it's not just these types of situations that drive Fantasy Football owners crazy. How about having a great kicker on a team that's consistently down double digits by halftime or a speed receiver on a team whose offensive coordinator prefers to dink and dunk? Or how about just having Chris Johnson? You finally get around to benching him and that week he goes for 181 yards and two scores... though probably not this season. The thing about Fantasy Football is that you can literally have a roster of legitimate superstars but it doesn't matter if they're playing in the wrong system for the wrong team on the wrong week. While I admire guys like Smith and Fitzgerald staying with the same team for their entire careers, you have to look at them, and others, and always wonder, what if? As for this week, I am left to wonder, what if I start Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham ends up going off against the Chargers? Yet another curse. Too many choices are never a good thing.