I love Rusty!
Rusty is a Jack Russell terrier who has seen better days. Under city rules and regulations, I can’t typically allow dogs in The Shop. It’s a stupid rule in my view because, as much as I hate to say it, I like more dogs than most people. They’re loyal. They’re almost always in a good mood – bad dogs have bad owners. Period. Rusty is a great dog.
Pops Watson, Rusty’s owner, has his moments of brilliance. The Shop League historian, he knows all the loopholes that can be taken advantage of – in real-life and fantasy settings. Somehow he convinced someone with legal document authority to claim Rusty is a “stress dog.” He gets past more velvet ropes than Pops himself. It’s not just at The Shop. It’s at restaurants. It’s at hotels. It’s at airports. It’s beautiful.
Rusty is living a life the rest of envy, which is sad in its own way. But, even in his advancing age, he does something that never ceases to amaze me. A week doesn’t go by that he knows he’s the topic of conversation and starts wagging his tail. For some reason, he sees it, doesn’t recognize it as his own tail and chases it, as if catching it would result in its removal.
He can go a good 20 or so revolutions before giving up and then laying down in the corner to catch his breath and contemplate his failure to catch his tail. He did it this morning and it coincided with a conversation about the fantasy prospects and I made a connection I had previously missed but needed the metaphor to understand. Too many fantasy owners are chasing their tail.
Who are those being chased? If you’re cursing out some of these guys from one week to the next, you’ve got nobody to blame but you. If you’re counting on these guys consistently, you are doing little more than chasing your tail. It’s the world you’re living in.
Arizona receivers. The first couple of weeks it was Larry Fitzgerald. On Sunday it was John Brown. Michael Floyd gets his. It’s going to be one guy next week, a different guy the next and a different guy the next. Deal with it.
Two-man backfields. Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Jamaal Charles and Spencer Ware. T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory. Any time you have two guys who think they’re the No. 1 guy, you’re going to second-guessing yourself all season and will frustrated more times than not because every TD they score will be wound.
Baltimore Ravens other than Justin Tucker. The Ravens are forcing themselves into lineups, but be honest. Is there any one you would feel confident about playing every week? Not me. A one-week option? Why not. You’re throwing dice with good intentions. But, every week? Pick one and check his weekly numbers moving forward.
Anybody from Cleveland. Face it. The Browns are bad, but have players that are going to put up numbers. Isaiah Crowell. Terrelle Pryor. Gary Barnidge. Excuses can be made to play all of them, but it is a risk/reward proposition.
Colts receivers. It looks like they’re going to be behind a lot, but which one do you play? T.Y. Hilton is always in the mix. But Dwayne Allen, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett are all options and will have big individual weeks. But, being a week late or a week early sucks.
Any Saint not named Drew Brees. When John Kuhn goes off for three TDs, those with Mark Ingram, Brandin Cooks, Coby Fleener, Willie Snead and others are all shaking their heads. It happens in New Orleans. Brees puts up numbers, but they get wildly spread around from one game to the next.
When an old dog like Rusty chases his tail, it’s humorous and it’s cool. That’s why I keep a treat stash with his name on it. Humans chasing their tail? Not cool. Stick with the guys who know you can trust. If you can’t trust them, don’t play them unless you have no other option or are blowing on the dice and believing 7’s and 11’s are coming.
The numbers don’t add up often enough if you have more reliable options.
- Jarvis Landry has 31 receptions through four games, putting him on a pace for 124 this year. His 31 receptions are more than the next three Miami receivers combined.
- Cincinnati hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown yet this year, but have allowed 10 passing TDs.
- Watch out for the Falcons! Atlanta has scored more points every week this season (24-35-45-48) and have taken early control of the NFC South. But, weren’t we saying this last year, too?
- Is it smoke and mirrors? The Oakland Raiders are 3-1 and not only have they gone 3-0 on the road, they’ve gone cross country twice in eight days and won early afternoon games – historically death for West Coast teams.
- How about them Raiders? When their defense allowed 1,000 yards in the first two games, most were rolling their eyes and mumbling about Commitment to Excrement. Now, albeit a bit far-fetched, not only is Oakland 3-1, they’re 3-0 on the road – the typical sign of a playoff team.
- Hands off Jimmy! Don’t touch Jimmy! He’s kind of looking like the Graham of old.
- Give It Up for will.i.am 2.0! Will Fuller was supposed to take the heat off of DeAndre Hopkins. Instead, he’s been the man. Through four games, he caught more passes (19/17) for more yards (323/227), for more yards per catch (17.0/13.4) and more touchdowns (3/2) than Hopkins. That doesn’t happen often.
- For those laughing at the ineptitude of the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, they failed to realize all the Rams defense gave up was field goals when their offense was stinking out the joint. At 3-1 with back-to-back wins against Seattle and Arizona, the “Hard Knocks” days may be in the rearview mirror.
- New Orleans avoided going 0-4 thanks to a gift-wrapped package from the Chargers. In the final seven minutes you have two fumbles and an interception? Presents like that are typically purchased on Black Friday.
- Michael Crabtree has four TDs and Seth Roberts has three. Amari Cooper has none. Expect that to change.
- Early fantasy MVP candidate? Melvin Gordon. Six touchdowns in four games after pitching TD shutout as a rookie. You can’t bench him anymore.
The Razor’s Edge
10. Let’s Just Call Him Josh Gor-done – When some young men get to the bright lights and fat stacks, it proves to be too much to handle. In Cleveland, apparently, it’s much worse. The same people who brought you Johnny Manziel also bring you Josh Gordon. Kicked out of school for violating team rules, when he has been on the field, Gordon has been impressive. But, the kid has a taste for weed that has derailed his career much in the same way it did Justin Blackmon. Four days before he was supposed to rejoin his team after a 20-game suspension, he checks into rehab. Hopefully he can do better with his life than he has with his employment in the NFL.
9. Just Build a Dome Already – Anyone who have ever spent time in Tampa in the fall knows that bands of rain roll through on almost a daily basis. But, for the second time in two eight days, a Buccaneers game has been halted due to lightning in the area. It didn’t matter this week, because, since their Week 1 win, the Bucs have given up more than 100 points, but something needs to be addressed here, whether it means forcing Tampa Bay to play three of its first four games on the road and have their mandatory Thursday night game at home early, because, when a game is on the line like it was last week against the Rams, sitting for 90 minutes does nobody any good.
8. How’d That Happen? – The Baltimore Ravens have to be shaking their heads at how they lost to Oakland on Sunday. The Ravens outgained the Raiders 412-261, ran 26 more plays (80 to Oakland’s 54), held the ball for almost 35 minutes and had just one turnover. Yet, when all was said and done, they lost 28-27 and fell from the ranks of the unbeaten. Sometimes the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
7. The Golden Goose Coming Back for His Egg – The Patriots have been clean living during Tom Brady’s suspension, winning their first three games and doing it with their second and third quarterbacks. But, losing to Buffalo at home and getting shut out in front of the paying customers for the first time in the Belichick era was a hard horse-intended pill to swallow. The Patriots are on this list only for that. Every team that played them with Brady out and, when he played, Gronk at the less-than-half-Gronk setting, they all expected to win. Only the Ryan brothers did
6. Doom Over Miami – There were high hopes for the Miami Dolphins coming into the season, but the only team they’ve been able to beat is Cleveland, which everyone seems able to do. They have only run 74 times in four games – almost half as often as their opponents – have turned the ball over nine times and have been outscored in the first half 59-23. Granted, all three of their losses have come on the road, but they’ve been their own worst enemy because they’ve fallen behind early and spend the game digging themselves out of an early hole, which is never a recipe for success.
5. What About Bob? – When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved up into the second round of the 2016 draft to select kicker Roberto Aguayo, the thinking was that they were locking down a kicker that was just too good to wait around for – despite the conventional wisdom was that nobody else had him on the Day 2 radar. Through four games, Aguayo is the fourth-leading scorer on a Bucs team that has put up just 77 points. He has 11 of them. He has made one of three field goals and eight of nine extra points. Opposing kickers have scored 36 points in four games. Less than three points a game doesn’t get it done for fantasy owners – much less for a kicker.
4. Fail to the Chief – Kansas City dominated the Jets in Week 3 and knew that heading into Pittsburgh at night was a daunting challenge. But, the Steelers so entirely dominated Kansas City, they were exposed as being fraudulent against a team that can dial up a game plan that thoroughly owns them. K.C.’s first nine possessions ended punt, fumble, interception, punt, punt, punt, missed field goal punt, downs. Pittsburgh’s first seven full drives ended punt, TD, TD, TD, punt, TD, TD. The Walking Dead hasn’t started yet, luckily for NBC because their version of The Walking Dead wasn’t well received.
3. J-E-S-T. Jest! Jest! Jest! Jest! – A week ago, the NFL’s Grizzly Adams/Lorax hybrid Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions in a humbling loss to the Chiefs. This week against Seattle, he cut that number in half – only throwing three. The Jets are claiming he’s still their guy and he won’t be benched. At least Geno Smith only threw two or three picks a game. He will need to be light’s out for a month just to make up for four touchdowns, 10 picks and a passer rating 57.6 – made even more humiliating by opposing QBs sporting a combined passer rating of 116.5. Ouch, babe!
2. You Should Have Paid Josh Norman – The Panthers were 14-0 when they went to Atlanta a year ago and got upset by the Falcons, but they were on the fast track to the Super Bowl. Yet, the pounding the Falcons laid on the Panthers Sunday, which included 571 yards of offense and 300 of those coming from Julio Jones. In the last seven quarters, the Panthers have allowed 70 points and the shine is clearly off Cam Newton and the boys, who have lost three of their first four games and are currently tied for last in the NFC South
1. The Land of the Setting Sun – The Arizona Cardinals were viewed by many as the team to beat in the NFC. Through four games, they’ve lost three of them and there is only one stat that needs to be pointed out. 27-0. That is the total points scored by the Cardinals and their opponents. The 27 doesn’t belong to the Cards. As often as offenses script their first 10-20 plays, having an egg in the first quarter is the first sign of one-dimensional playing – something Super Bowl teams rarely do, much less routinely do. Compounding the problem is that three of their first four games were at home, the Cardinals need to dig themselves out of their hole on the road. Oh yeah, in case you missed it, backup QB Drew Stanton had passer rating of 3.6. How bad is that? Kellen Clemens of the Chargers has thrown one pass. It was incomplete. His passer rating is 39.6.