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.
Jaguars at Bills
I’m planting my fantasy playoff dreams on this early kickoff despite the rainy weekend forecast. Too many valuable components in play: Cecil Shorts is an automatic force (291 receiving yards and three touchdowns over the last three weeks); Justin Blackmon is playing like he’s being covered by Big 12 corners again; Steve Johnson has six catches in three straight games; Rashad Jennings faces the 31st-ranked rushing defense in his return to the starting backfield; C.J. Spiller is a top-10 rusher in the league and has gotten there with almost 100 fewer touches than Adrian Peterson (Chan Gailey is finally defining the depth chart with Spiller up top). In short, this is the fantasy game of the week and I can’t wait to be the guy who insists on making others follow its progress at Casa Ramirez on Sunday Ticket.
The NFL’s real preseason started in earnest this past weekend (I refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Hall of Fame Game), and with the first set of games in the books, we’re here to sling around the latest football news.
1. Andrew Luck's debut
Andrew Luck’s NFL career sort of began on Sunday, and now we will forever get to hear that Andrew Luck’s first pass was a 63-yard touchdown. In reality, Andrew Luck’s first pass was a three-yard shovel pass and 60-yard run by Donald Brown (the latter of these being far more surprising), but even with that, Luck looked excellent. The highlight wasn’t Brown’s score or even Luck’s second touchdown throw, but rather a deep, deep out to fellow rookie T.Y. Hilton on the left sideline. Luck’s decision making, poise, and athleticism all looked as advertised, but on the toughest throw there is, the velocity on Luck’s ball was a telling answer to questions about his arm strength.
As the long, hot summer drags on, we here at the Triangle figured we’d provide a steady stream of NFL goodness as a reminder of the light at the end of the baseball-lined tunnel.
Finally, our long regional nightmare is over. After a contract dispute that began as he was lighting up his 2011 lame-duck season, Matt Forte finally got his long-term deal from the Bears. As Bill Simmons said on Friday about Drew Brees’s situation in New Orleans, the most frustrating part of the Forte saga for Bears fans was just how silly it all seemed.
I would absolutely love to write a semi-objective piece about Monday night's showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears. I'd like nothing more than to celebrate the game as a nationally televised coming out party for Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy (LESEAN MCCOY), the two best running backs currently playing in the NFL. Unfortunately, I have to bury the dead bird in my back yard first.
Yesterday on Grantland, my esteemed colleague Bill Barnwell handicapped the race for the 2011 NFL MVP award. Because the list was designed to predict whom a bunch of sportswriters will vote as the Best Quarterback on the Best Team, it provided few surprises. Among the six candidates three are superstar NFL quarterbacks and Eli Manning. What I'm interested in has less to do with who will receive the most votes for an award once given to a kicker, and more to do with who's actually been the most valuable player through seven weeks of the NFL season.