I have days that I love. Christmas. Family birthdays. Thanksgiving in extra-stretchy pants. Billy Preston’s and Oscar Gamble’s birthdays – those were heads of hair that required constant attention from a professional.
But, one of my favorites is Black Monday. Not the day when coaching staffs get greased, but when the fellas from our fantasy league come into The Shop to bitch about their teams. They’re the same teams they were bragging up for two weeks since our draft, but now there is nothing but question marks. Tommy Pants looked like the Riddler Monday.
The reason I love this time of year is because, hopefully like many of you, when I draft a team, there is a never a flight from quality. Typically, anyone can script with a certain level of confidence the first 25 picks. They may not go in the same order, but as you make the turn into the third round, there will probably only be a couple of players from your top 25 still available.
Championships aren’t won in the first four rounds of the draft. They’re the foundation of championship teams, but every roster is filled with star players at the top who are going to be counted on. When they come through, it’s heaven. Marshawn Lynch, Julius Thomas, Matty Ice, Megatron, They all earned their high picks a week in. But what about the other guys?
There was more complaining Monday than I’ve heard in a long time. Why do I love this day? You’ll have to promise not to tell the fellas. It’s because I say nothing.
Listening can be the most important thing a fantasy owner does during the course of a season. I have a tendency of drafting talented veterans like Anquan Boldin and Reggie Wayne and Knowshon Moreno. They’re guys who only get respect once the live ammunition starts flying. On draft day, they get Dangerfield-style respect…except in my house. They aren’t asked to start. They’re asked to open the noses of others.
At one point or another, every member of our league spent some time in The Shop on Monday. Some were bragging. Some wanted an unnecessary shave – and wouldn’t mind if I went Barber of Seville on them. Those are the guys you listen to.
We dispense advice in The Shop. At times, it’s aggressive. At times, it’s passive. This is one of those passive moments.
Those who have got off to a 0-1 start are salty. They want answers. None of them are willing to blame the general manager – which I like to call JJS (Jerry Jones Syndrome). It’s the players that are the problem.
Jamaal Charles. Wes Welker. RG3. Bishop Sankey. Vincent Jackson. Tony Romo. They’re all getting the bad-mouth treatment. This can serve to your advantage.
If you’re one who believes that human nature is what it is and that fantasy owners who struggle early are looking to excise the cancer from their rosters, you may be shocked to find out what is available on the open market if you are willing to offer magic beans for the cash cow.
All some of these guys need is another bad week or two and those owners will be willing to part with them for pennies on the dollar.
Whether you won or lost this week, if you have roster depth, you are going to be able to swing in-season to add star players for a discount price. This strategy isn’t for everyone, because few things are worse that trading a guy who got off to hot start while the market was bullish only to have that same player step on your toes later in the season.
But, the opportunity is there for you to assess your roster and offer up magic beans for somebody else’s cash cow and make the type of trade that will pay off in the long term.
It may mean nothing, but I love Pops Watson because he told me the same adage my daddy used, “You don’t learn nothin’ by talkin’. You only learn by listenin’.”
This week is a good time to keep your mouth, your ears open and listen to what the complainers have to say. It may pay off in couple of weeks.
The “Closed” sign has been flipped. My work is done here.
- The Patriots lost their regular season opener for the first time since 2003, when Drew Bledsoe was their starting QB. Before Pats fans stick their head in the oven, they should know that in 2003, the Patriots got blown out by Buffalo and ended up winning the Super Bowl that year.
- It was a rough Raiders debut for Maurice Jones-Drew. He had just 11 yards on nine carries, gaining 12 yards on one carry and having minus-1 yard on his other eight rushes.
- Peyton Manning joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to beat all 32 teams. That was justified. Unfortunately, Clyde the Bookie was sitting next to me when they showed the list of those who have beaten 31 teams. We both saw Kerry Collins’ name on the short list art 31 and two jaws dropped. Our eyes met. There was a tense silence before he said, “I thought I was the only one making money off that number.” Now he’s really pissed.
- The NFL may be in for a long, hard discussion with the Ray Rice issue. In The Shop, we keep it real. When I saw the initial footage of Ray-Ray and his fiancée getting into the elevator appearing intoxicating and, when those doors opened, he’s dragging her unconscious body out of the ‘vator and onto the floor. It seemed obvious to me and most of the boys in The Shop that Rice hit her, considering that domestic assault charges were filed. Part of keeping it real was understanding they were in a casino. They have cameras everywhere. If you drop a deuce in an A.C. casino, they probably have footage of it. There isn’t an inch of public area that isn’t under camera surveillance. Now the only question for Roger Goodell is what did he know and when did he know it? With power comes access to information and one can only imagine that the NFL has a close business relationship with Nevada and New Jersey officials because of the potential for gambling on games and gambling in general among wealthy young players. To claim ignorance to the existence of elevator video is either incredibly stupid or a bald-faced lie.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
10. Safety Dance – A standard rule in The Shop is that you rise or fall as a team. No man left behind. That said, we’re distancing ourselves from Bears safety Chris Conte. Fred Jackson should have been arrested by Chicago P.D. for robbing Conte of his dignity. Pops Watson thinks Conte should get a one-game suspension under the dignity abuse policy. It should be noted, we also saw you, Pacman. Smithy face-masked you, but that’s highlight material. You’re on the list.
9. JAG: Just Another Gash – The typically festive Philadelphia Eagles fans were questioning their faith when Jacksonville – in their house, no less – took a 17-0 lead to halftime. What were the halftime adjustments? Let’s suck now? Let’s lose one for the Gipper? Jacksonville gave up 34 unanswered points and are now wondering what the first draft pick next May is worth? Nothing short of brutal.
8. Classic Romo! – Hate to repeat bits, but every time Tony does, The Shop buzzes all day when Classic Romo hits. Clearly, The Shop ain’t based in Texas. It has become a buzz phrase that has replaced “Hello” in too many Monday conversations. As butt-ugly as the Cowboy defense is, throwing three picks to hand put the defense on a short field has two that doesn’t include an “F” – Classic Romo!
7. The Really Big Lebowski – The fact he doesn’t cut his hair makes me dislike Rob Ryan on principle. His daddy had a fabled flat-top that required what we in the business call “manicured mowing.” But, no defensive coordinator is shown on camera more than Ryan. That gor him fired in Dallas. After giving up 500 yards to the Falcons, perhaps it’s time for some dude to abide.
6. Start Spreading The News – Last year, the Giants ran in down their leg so often that diapers are sideline necessities. Nothing helps define a stereotype like repetition. Apparently, Megatron didn’t hit the preparatory game plan for the Giants defense. All he did was put the game out of reach early. New year. Same story.
5. The Dolphins Are Coming! The Dolphins Are Coming! – In the Old North Church, the light wasn’t on when Tommy Boy’s boys were up 20-10 at halftime in South Beach. Thirty minutes later, it was too late. The Patriots not only lost, they got beaten down on both sides of the ball – outscored 23-bone in the second half. The last time Bill Belichick started 0-2 was in 2001 – and 9/11 prevented that from being a two-loss-in-eight-days situation. Minnesota, bring your “A” game, fellas. Big Bill don’t go 0-2. If he does, Beantown will stink worse than that name implies.
4. Whine and Cheese – The Packers weren’t expected to win at Seattle, but the peg-legged performance they in was embarrassing, especially in the trenches. Who knew B.J. Raji was so important to the defense and the offensive line looks like bridgework in need of attention. Suddenly, the presumptive favorite in the NFC North not only looks human, but looks like a team that can be dominated.
3. Throwing Rice – The Ravens decision to dump Ray Rice on Monday has all the looks of a knee-jerk reaction. When it was made public Rice would only get a two-game suspension, the Ravens did nothing significant to address the issue of whether Rice would be gone for good. A fourth-round draft pick and signing journeyman Justin Forsett is not addressing the answer to not having Rice long-term. The Ravens rarely make franchise missteps when it comes to drafting, re-signing players, letting players leave via free agency and occasional free agent signings. This time, they were caught off-guard…and shouldn’t have been if they had any knowledge of what happened in A.C. Joe Flacco threw 62 passes Sunday. 62! Ravens running backs ran just 17 times. That is a lopsided percentage that usual results in losing.
2. Charles In Charge? – Around The Shop when it came to picking ratty teams from 2013 that had a chance to improve, Tennessee was one of them. But, the Titans defense isn’t overpowering. Still, what they did to Jamaal Charles should have got the attention of the Kansas City P.D. He only touched the ball 11 times – not what you want from a guy who went in the top three picks in most drafts. He ran just seven times for 19 yards and caught four passes for 15 yards (14 yards on one catch and one yard on the other three). As long as Kansas City doesn’t have viable options to take the heat off of J.C., he’s going to get crucified on a weekly basis with the exception of a big play here or there. That’s not what fantasy owners playing a 16- or 17-week schedule want to hear. I was scared of O-line and went on record as such, dropping him to my seventh running back on my draft list – knowing I wouldn’t get him there. His value is dropping fast.
1. RG3-and-Out – Last year, Robert Griffin III pushed himself to get back as early as Adrian Peterson from a torn ACL and he wasn’t close to the player he was before his knee ligaments got shredded. He was a shell of his rookie self in 2013. He didn’t run and didn’t push the big-play offense like he did as a rookie when he led the Redskins to a division title. He struggled all season and, when push came to shove, Mike Shanahan was shown the door. With a new offense, nothing seemed to change. RG3 looked incredibly uncomfortable and indecisive, checking down on almost every pass that wasn’t open. Defenses realize that and, unless it changes, he’s going to get pummeled…and potentially replaced.