If it’s possible for someone who shares a bed with one of the world’s leading supermodels to have a bad night, Tom Brady’s Thursday must’ve sucked. I assume Brady howled like a werewolf at the sight of erstwhile blood brother Wes Welker snagging two touchdowns from Peyton Manning. I hope Brady went to bed before Demaryius Thomas’s pair of fourth-quarter scores, because he probably had a hard time talking himself into Kenbrell Thompkins as a pro-caliber deep threat after Thomas’s display. I feel for Tom Brady.
I can also relate, since Thursday wasn’t my best night, either. Back in August, I vehemently argued that Eric Decker was a better fantasy option than Welker, and scoffed at the idea of drafting Julius Thomas. Naturally, Welker and Thomas scored two touchdowns apiece, combined for 177 yards, and generally dominated the defending Super Bowl champs in the opener. Perhaps I should visit a soothsayer before making any more Denver prognostications, lest I start sounding like the Columbus Dispatch.
And yet ... it doesn’t take a seer to predict that Peyton Manning won’t throw seven touchdowns in a game again this season. That means it’d be unwise to let Manning’s awesome-but-aberrational performance skew our understanding of the Broncos’ offense. For example, despite making multiple trips to the end zone on Thursday night, Welker remains a poor red-zone threat compared to other top-flight fantasy receivers. Decker’s 13 touchdowns in 2012 dwarfed Welker’s six, and the two will probably finish with relatively similar totals this season.
Before the second play of his first NFL game, Philadelphia's new head coach, Chip Kelly, a man who made his reputation as the architect of college football's most prolific offense — the Oregon Ducks' fast-break, spread-it-out attack — did the unthinkable: He had his team huddle. He followed this with another knee-weakening moment: His quarterback, Michael Vick, lined up under center, an alignment from which the Eagles ran a basic run to the left. For 31 other NFL teams, this would be as ho-hum as it gets. But this is Chip Kelly, he of the fast practices, fast plays, and fast talking. By starting out this way, Kelly, who repeatedly has said he doesn't do anything without a sound reason behind it, was no doubt sending some kind of message to fans, pundits, and opposing coaches waiting anxiously to see what a Chip Kelly offense would look like at the professional level. It was a message that was unmistakable: See, I can adapt to the NFL.
At least that’s what I thought at first. But after studying Philadelphia's game against New England, I came away with almost the exact opposite conclusion: While there were clear differences from what Kelly’s system looked like at Oregon, his Eagles offense looked a lot more like the Ducks offense than I ever anticipated.
The fantasy football season isn't quite over, but as of this week, the Fantasy Island competition is. After 16 weeks and a very tight race, we're pleased to announce that Matt Borcas has won a spot as our fantasy football writer. This week is Matt's soft open of sorts, and when it comes time for rankings and previews next summer, everyone will get a full introduction as we start ramping up to the season. Thanks again to everyone who participated in this year's competition, and to those who've read.
One hundred years after the sinking of the Titanic, another overblown, too-big-to-fail enterprise — the Philadelphia Eagles — is crashing and burning, and Andy Reid insists on bringing fantasy owners down with him. Case in point: On Wednesday, Reid announced that despite LeSean McCoy’s return to the starting lineup, he would employ the dreaded three-way split between McCoy, Bryce Brown, and Dion Lewis.
It didn’t have to end this way for the Eagles. Their skill position players were meant to carry fantasy teams to championships, not to the first overall pick in next year’s draft. But as Reid spends his final days in Philadelphia brooding like Captain Edward John Smith, owners of McCoy and Brown are left to fend for themselves.
Each week, the Fantasy Island contestants will submit a preview for each of that weekend's games. The best preview from each game will be selected and combined with the others into one comprehensive guide, and points are awarded based on how many individual previews from each writer are selected. Get it? OK. We sorta do, too.
December 2007: Wichita East High School’s Bryce Brown, a five-star running back largely considered to be the nation’s top junior prospect, verbally commits to the University of Miami. With no-nonsense head coach Randy Shannon, dual-threat quarterback Jacory Harris, super booster Nevin Shapiro, and Brown, a dynasty appears to be on the horizon at The U.
February 2008: As it turns out, Brown’s verbal was anything but solid. Handler/cell phone salesman/self-proclaimed “most connected guy in Wichita” Brian Butler — a slimier version of Buddy Garrity, if such a thing is possible — reveals that Brown might instead opt to play in the CFL, likely because of his longstanding affinity for Saskatchewanian literature.
March 2008: After a month of careful contemplation, Brown decides against becoming football’s Brandon Jennings and narrows his college search to six finalists: Miami, Kansas State, Tennessee, USC, Oregon, and LSU.
March 2009: Lane Kiffin lures Brown to Tennessee. In retrospect, it’s a minor miracle that this marriage lasted as long as it did.
Last year, Washington's clean sweep of the Giants was a curiosity lost amid New York's run to a second Super Bowl in five years. It was some sort of anomaly that Giants fans wrote off in their heads as irrelevant, a bad dream with Rex Grossman impossibly slicing through the same defense that brought the Packers and Patriots to their knees. This year, though, Washington's excellent work against their northern neighbors has produced a close loss and a hugely important narrow win.
That victory last night moves Washington into a playoff chase with surprisingly good opportunities available. As I covered yesterday, Washington's win last night gives them a likely tiebreaker advantage over the Giants in terms of in-division record, and if the Giants slip up once more over their difficult final four games, the Redskins would have a chance to control their own destiny with a win over the Cowboys in Week 17. Washington also holds tie-breaking victories over the Buccaneers, Cowboys, Saints, and Vikings, each of which could come in handy in terms of a possible wild-card berth.