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Two Minute Warning: Newport Dreaming

December 11, 2008 | By Derek Jones | comment on this post

The Road to Glory Begins

It’s make or break time for many fantasy owners out there. The decisions made over the next few days will decide whether owners have a little extra money to buy their significant others more gifts or if they’ll swallow the bitter pill of defeat.

This time of year is often nerve wracking for yours truly. In fact, my hysteria will be at an all-time high this season. No, not because I’m benching Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch in favour of Pierre Thomas and LenDale White, but for a far more significant reason.

This week, I’m working on Sunday during the afternoon games and then, the following week — which will serve as the championship game for my league — I’ll be in Washington, D.C., to cover a basketball game during Week 16 action. While I’ll see jumpers flying in the air, I’ll be wondering whether Calvin Johnson can grab a garbage time score for my team.

Fantasy sports have become ingrained into the culture of sports to such a heightened state that it often blurs the line for fans. I’m not ashamed to say this, but if Donovan McNabb of my beloved Eagles goes out on Monday Night Football and throws six interceptions in a 47-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns, I might be more devastated about Drew Brees of my fantasy team throwing four picks and getting held to 175 yards without a touchdown versus the Bears.

Is there something fundamentally wrong with such irrational thinking?

Brees is my fantasy team’s flagship player. My squad is 12-2 and should win the championship. In my heart of hearts, I know that McNabb and company have a big fat expiration date on their season. Whether it ends in Week 17 at home versus Dallas or in a playoff loss at the Meadowlands, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Yet, dropping a league playoff game to me might as well be Team Russia’s hockey team losing to the United States in the 1980 Olympics. I’ll sulk for months. Meanwhile, if the Eagles are fortunate enough to make the playoffs and then lose 27-10 to the Giants, I’ll say I told you so.

Nonetheless, not being able to follow your team in a playoff game by watching the action on television is not a pretty thing. I would never pick up smoking, but if I trail at any point on Sunday, I’ll consider it. Instead of sitting down in front of a 46-inch TV screen on Sunday, I’ll be putting my nose to the grindstone at work.

I think I’ll be okay until I read the first online update during the Texans/Titans clash that reads:

25-L. White left guard to TEN 41 for -1 yards

I’m a creature of habit and Sundays at 1 p.m. during the fall and winter is my habit. Taking me away from it is akin to taking a fish out of his bowl, putting it on the ground and watching it flap away while away from its natural habitat.

Hence, the challenge begins. I’ll have to survive the next two Sundays as my fantasy team hopefully flies to a championship — I hope.

Ten Things We Learned in Week 14

1. The Philadelphia Eagles obituary isn’t quite ready yet: The only way the Eagles could salvage their season and possibly save their quarterback’s seemingly fragile state was to just hand the keys over to Brian Westbrook. After looking beaten up and worn out over the past few weeks, Westbrook compiled six touchdowns over two games including a 203-total yards, two-touchdown outburst to help the Birds upset the Giants last Sunday. Next up will be the Cleveland Browns, who should be in store for a massacre.

2. The 2008 season has been a bizarre ride: With the many oddities that have occurred thus far during the 2008 season, it didn’t sink in just how strange a year it has been until reading a line in Mike Lombardi’s Saints/Bears preview on the National Football Post web site:

Bears need to double Lance Moore on every key down. He is the man the QB looks for to make a play. Jeremy Shockey has no touchdowns this season.

On the list of things I didn’t think I’d read this season, doubling Moore is one of them. After all, remember Marques Colston? Furthermore, before season’s start, of the receivers I’d double in this league, Moore would have been 171st on my list, right behind Dallas’ Sam Hurd. It just proves how strange the NFL can be.

3. Pierre Thomas is a fantasy star: With the steady erosion of Deuce McAllister’s career and Reggie Bush being injured and basically becoming a glorified scat back, Thomas has forged to the front of a crowded Saint backfield to post solid numbers. Amazingly, Thomas has the same number of touchdowns (seven) as LaDainian Tomlinson.

4. December and Tony Romo are not friends: During his two years and change as a starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, Romo’s Decembers live a little to be desired. After another winter meltdown against Pittsburgh, he has thrown 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in games played in December. His play is likely to end your fantasy season.

5. Get ready to jump off that Jet bandwagon: Following a great performance against the Titans, the New York Bretts laid two straight eggs including a surprising loss to the 49ers. Only Thomas Jones possesses fantasy value of any merit at this point of the season. That Favre fella should already be on your bench.

6. Here’s a rule of thumb for 2009 — leave the Bronco running back situation to the waiver wire: Let’s avoid the headache that will be Denver’s backfield situation during the offseason and wait to see who takes control before jumping to conclusions on who will be the man in the Mile High city. I have a thought. Isn’t it possible that perhaps none of these guys are that good and it’s another example of how Mike Shanahan can’t really evaluate personnel?

7. Operation Shutdown is in full effect in Jacksonville: Besides San Diego, Jacksonville represents the league’s biggest disappointment. Jacksonville’s David Garrard was supposed to utilize the skill set of an athletic group of receivers and breathe new life into the Jaguars’ passing game, while the running game was supposed mow down the opposition again. Neither happened and the Jag offense ranks 21st in the league.

8. Joseph Addai’s value continues to fall: Ranked as high as third at running back by some publications, Addai’s fall has coincided with the struggles of Indy’s offensive line. Addai only cracked the 100-yard mark once and that game represents the only time he surpassed at least 80 yards rushing. Averaging just 3.5 yards per carry, the last hope for Addai to be a big time producer is this Sunday when the Colts host the winless Lions.

9. Keep your eyes on trends down the stretch: Typically, teams that struggled throughout the season finally get it together towards season’s end. This year’s example might be the Houston Texans. With Matt Schaub back in the fold for Houston, its passing game is back in form. Just ask the Green Bay Packers. Always look for those hot teams at season’s end that have guys who are on a roll.

10. Don’t be afraid to gamble in the fantasy playoffs: Names like Tomlinson, Jackson and Moss may not carry you to fantasy glory in 2008. Instead, guys like Pierre Thomas and Antonio Bryant might be the men of the hour. Sometimes, the only way to succeed in the playoffs is by sitting some of the bigger names and going with the lesser known, but more productive commodities.

Fantasy Power Poll

Last week’s rankings are in parentheses

1. Drew Brees (1) – It’s going to be awfully cold in Chicago on Thursday night, but Brees has played well, statistically, in his last two visits.

2. Kurt Warner (2) – Unless there is a letdown for ‘Zona, Warner poses a bad matchup for the Vikings.

3. DeAngelo Williams(5) – Speaking of bad matchups, the Broncos best hope that Williams is a bit winded from Monday night.

4. Adrian Peterson (3) – With Tarvaris Jackson back in the lineup, he can expect a bunch of eight man fronts on Sunday.

5. Michael Turner (6) – Tampa’s pride was greatly bruised on Monday night. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs take it out on Turner.

6. Thomas Jones (4) – Jones is the last Jet with any redeeming fantasy value this season.

7. Brian Westbrook (NR) – Six touchdowns in the last two weeks is a surefire way to put you back on this list.

8. Larry Fitzgerald (8) – Another week, another touchdown for Fitz.

9. Anquan Boldin (9) – He’s due for another bust out game.

10. Tony Romo (7) – He’s due for another bad performance in December.

Link of the Week

Years ago, I bought a Saturday Night Live Best of 1983 video. It featured the funniest skit I’d ever seen in my life at the time. After the first couple of viewings, I almost injured myself from laughing so hard. Twenty five years later I’m not sure how well this holds over time considering the litany of gross out humour thrown our way these days, but Buckwheat Buys the Farm is mandatory viewing for any SNL or Eddie Murphy fan from the ’80s. It teaches an important lesson: fear anyone with three names.

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