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.
Cardinals at Falcons
Player to Start: Larry Fitzgerald
If you have other options, you’ve probably thought about benching Larry Fitzgerald lately. Facing the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11, there’s a good chance you’ll have Fitzgerald on your bench until 12:55 EST, when you come to your senses and take T.Y. Hilton out of your lineup. Look, the Falcons have allowed the eighth-highest YPA of any team in the NFL, and the Cardinals are quietly one of the most pass-heavy teams in the league. Only the Raiders, Saints, and Jaguars have rushed less frequently than Arizona. Fitzgerald isn’t automatic like he once was, but that last-minute Fitzgerald-Hilton swap needs to be made. Just make sure you hit "Submit."
Peyton Manning's return to the NFL has not exactly been a fairy tale. His team sits at 3-3, they've routinely fallen behind early in games, they average a paltry 93.8 rushing yards per game, and Manning's top receiving targets include young but inconsistent players like Demaryius Thomas and the ageless but hardly explosive Brandon Stokley. It’s not just those around Manning who have come in for criticism. Manning is still recovering from his neck injury, and there have been whispers — some quieter than others — that his arm strength isn't, and will never be, what it once was.
Maybe so. Yet, for those still craving some of that old Manning magic, those moments when Peyton shows us all what quarterbacking is all about, Monday was proof that the 36-year-old can still deliver.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
The New Orleans Saints have named top assistant Joe Vitt interim head coach during Sean Payton's year-long suspension, despite the fact that Vitt will serve a six-game suspension of his own to start the season. During those six games, the Saints will be led by offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who is serving a four-game suspension for watching cable television (Bridezillas, specifically) in the film room. For the first four games, Saints kicking adviser Marcus McCovey will take over, despite his two-game suspension for rhyming Sean Payton with "Sean Satan" in a Skype call with his daughter. The first two Saints games will be coached by New Orleans citizen Ernest Lambreaux, who is serving a one-game suspension for plotting to coach without a proper coaching license. For that first game only, Russian emigre and renowned castrato animal impersonator Gustaf Karpov will head up the Saints, though he's suspended for a quarter because he won't stop calling chocolate doughnuts "meatless pirozhkis" during strategy meetings. In the first quarter of the first game, the Saints plan to just fumble the ball and run into each other until someone dies.
1. Lionel Messi, Best Athlete in the World
We dole out a lot of false praise in Rankonia. So understand that I'm saying this with the intensity of 1,000 Daniel Day-Lewises: Lionel Messi is the best athlete alive right now. Last season, he scored 51 goals for Barcelona and Argentina in the 2010-11 season. He's already got 33 this season, taking his club tally to 211. Maybe you need a refresher course: