For every football player, the helmet does a little something different. It turns some, like LaDainian Tomlinson, into superheroes. It felt like LT was from the future in part because he looked like he was. For others, it seems almost obligatory. I’m not sure how we’d even notice if Tom Brady played without one.
There’s a select few, though, for whom the helmet seems to make all the difference, and Nick Foles is one of those. Without it, the NaFoleseon Dynamite jokes are inevitable and apt, but with it, Foles looks like a 6-foot-6, strong-armed quarterback who belongs in an NFL huddle. It doesn’t hurt that every time he puts it on, he plays like one, too.
The following trade offer hit my inbox on Sunday morning: James Jones for Reggie Wayne. Given that all proposals are bound to tilt slightly in favor of the person proposing the deal, it seemed fair enough. I considered countering, but the combination of Jones's knee sprain and my bullishness on Indy's offense ultimately resulted in a flat-out rejection. Wayne tore his ACL 12 hours later, so apologies for sounding a bit disenchanted with the 2013 fantasy season. Between HOYER THE DESTROYER's untimely death, Tom Brady's increasing irrelevance, and the Wayne debacle, this has been a difficult year.
Of course, misery loves company, which is why I'm soliciting your fantasy horror stories for next Tuesday's Halloween-themed post. Leave them in the comments or tweet them to @mattborcas, and I promise to deliver the spookiest football column ever. Well, aside from today's, which recommends Peyton Hillis as a waiver-wire pickup and is thus impossible to top on the scariness scale.
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
Robert Mays: Yesterday afternoon, there was a football play that I am guessing we’ll see at least a few more times before this season ends. As Randall Cobb streaked down the seam and hauled in a pass from Aaron Rodgers, he was met by Ravens safety Matt Elam. Five years ago, it would have been the perfect chance for the type of de-cleater kill shot that sends the crowd into a ravenous frenzy. These days, that hit dings your team 15 yards and you about $50,000. Elam knows that. So instead of aiming high, he went low. When the play ended with Cobb rolling on the ground in agony, I said, repeatedly, the only thing that came to mind: “That really sucks.”
It's not entirely Eli Manning's fault, but do you see what's happening so far this year? He's thrown eight interceptions through three games, his team is 0-3, they just got blown out by 38 points, and after the game Sunday one of his wide receivers said, "You've got to control what you can control. I can't throw it to myself."
"Not a smart thing to say," Tom Coughlin grumbled at the next day's press conference.
Meanwhile, Hall of Fame linebacker and announcer Carl Banks popped up to chime in with his own takes. "They don’t like themselves," he said about the offensive line. "That’s what it really comes down to. They don’t like each other. They’re not willing to fight for each other. When you have a premier quarterback in this league, and you don’t have enough self-respect — not for him, but for yourself — to protect him to do your job, I think it speaks volumes. I think these guys really do need to all stand in [front of] the mirror, and it’s gut-check time."
Banks added: "I don’t think I’ve seen a collective group just line up and get punched in the face and stand up and do it again and again and again."
Again and again and again and again and again. That's the Giants through three weeks.
Week 2 awards, Week 3 waiver-wire advice, and a flying pig to boot.
Michael Vick had an incredibly productive game on Sunday, and his stats don’t begin to tell the story. While a line that includes 428 yards, a 63.9 completion percentage, two passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown is certainly nothing to scoff at, it’s veritable chump change compared to what Vick left on the table.
@ChrisWesseling That's even conservative. Counted a potential 69-yarder (just out of bounds), 79-yarder (drop) and 37-yarder (penalty).
The three plays listed above — a would-be 68-yard touchdown that DeSean Jackson caught with his right foot slightly out of bounds; a 37-yard touchdown to Jackson that was nullified because of a penalty on tackle Lane Johnson; and a would-be 79-yard touchdown that Jackson juuuuust missed — all could have easily gone the Eagles’ way, turning a defeat into victory and Vick’s 33-point fantasy performance into a 40- or even 50-point day.
Regardless, it’s more clear than ever that Chip Kelly’s coaching can bolster his offensive personnel's fantasy value, largely because of the sheer amount of plays Kelly tends to run per game. More plays mean more chances to gain yards and score points, and not surprisingly, the Eagles are third in the NFL in points scored and second in total yards through two weeks.
Of course, more plays also mean more chances to get injured, and the most salient takeaway from the Eagles-Chargers game was that Vick got "shaken up" by Chargers defensive end Jarius Wynn late in the fourth quarter, triggering a Nick Foles appearance. Granted, Foles’s one play (an incompletion) was mandated by league rules, but it was surely a sobering sight for Vick owners, who would have to be a remarkably naïve bunch not to believe they’ll be seeing a lot more of Foles as the season progresses.
Robert Mays and Bill Barnwell break down four games from Week 1, answer reader questions, and recap the winners of their weekly bets.
Mays is then joined by former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman to discuss his thoughts on Week 1 in the NFL and the origins of his "Lights Out" nickname and sack celebration. Video of that conversation can be seen below.
Chip Kelly did it. On the league's biggest weekly stage, against the archnemesis division champions, on the road, Chip Kelly's Eagles whipped Washington. That 33-27 final score masks a dominant performance in which Philadelphia had a win probability of 87 percent or higher from the moment it made it 19-7 onward. Washington came back because the Philadelphia defense played conservative zone coverage for most of the second half and the offense dumbed things down. It seems pretty likely that the Eagles didn't want to put anything else on film that they could unveil in future weeks while they were up multiple touchdowns.
That's not to say the offense Kelly ran or the performance the Eagles put together was perfect. In fact, Philadelphia might be even more menacing after fixing a number of notable flaws. Michael Vick played well enough, but he made a number of mistakes that highlighted his limitations as a quarterback and his inexperience in Kelly's system. Those flaws were masked by the constant focus on how fast the Eagles were going, which wasn't really the most notable, exciting thing about the Philly offense on Monday night. If you want to talk about what was truly breathtaking and game-changing on Monday, you shouldn't start with how fast the Eagles snapped the ball. In fact, Kelly said after the game that he genuinely thought the offense went relatively slow. Instead, you should start with how fast the Eagles were after they snapped the football.
All day Monday, people were trying to prepare me for reality.
“You know they’re going to lose right?”
“You know they’re playing the Washington NFL team, not Washington State, right?”
“The Eagles might score 50, but the Redskins will score 52.”
"RG3 is back."
“Riley Cooper is going to run across the middle and four Redskins players are going to hit him in the spleen at once and he’s going to explode.”
“P.S. One of those Redskins players will be Cary Williams wearing a Washington uniform over his Philly uniform and then he will tear off the Washington uniform and scream, ‘Are you not entertained!?’”
“There’s no way this Chip Kelly offense is going to look like the football version of the light cycle race from Tron. Stop thinking in terms of Tron. This isn’t the 2010 Oregon Ducks and they aren’t being led by 2004 Michael Vick. You need to be realistic.”
I am an Eagles fan in 2013. I have no use for reality. Now lets go light cycle racing.
The greatest play in football history was not drawn up by Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, or Chip Kelly. It was diagrammed by a boy genius named Nubie in 1994 and is called The Annexation of Puerto Rico, a modern spin on the fumblerooski. (Naturally, Ron Rivera — who is a solid decade or two behind the curve on gridiron strategy — used it in 2011 against the Texans.)
While Nubie deserves all the credit in the world for devising such an unbeatable play, it’s telling that he did so in a cinematic classic, Duwayne Dunham’s Oscar-snubbed Little Giants, as opposed to reality. (Dunham is not Lena’s rambunctious little brother, but I like to pretend he is.) Without fail, everything works better in fiction than in real life, and likewise, your fantasy roster looks wayyyyy better now on paper/megapixels than it’ll prove to be this weekend. (EDIT: Unless you have Peyton Manning. Then your team is FLAWLESS.)
What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NFL season? Well, you're in luck! We here at the Triangle are set to spend the next few weeks providing a daily reason to get excited about pro football's return.
Two weeks! Two weeks. Somehow we've made it this far, and after swimming through an ocean of despair all summer long, professional football starts in just two weeks. The shore is officially in sight. Mays is busy today, so I'm taking over the Warning series for the afternoon. We need to talk about the Eagles.
It's hard to get all that excited about anything during the preseason. The games mean nothing. The players don't want to talk. The coaches speak in a special kind of clichéd gibberish that makes everyone dumber. And then most of the media updates from training camp look something like this:
In case you were busy arguing about the correct definition of "blue moon," here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Red Sox superprospect Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-3 in his major league debut, and Marco Scutaro drew a walk-off RBI walk to give San Francisco a strange 3-2 win over Boston. "We're disappointed with the loss, but we think we have something good here with Bogaerts," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington over a cacophony of ringing phones. "Hold on, let me just get this. Yeah, hello, this is Cherington. No Billy. No. No. It's just one game Billy. No. No deal. How stupid do you think I am Billy? That stupid? Really? Wow. I've literally never said anything like that to another man's face in my life. No. No. Still no. Yes, I understand that phones aren't faces. No. I'm hanging up now, Billy. Bye. Bye. No. Bye."
Los Angeles phenom Yasiel Puig was benched and fined for being late to the ballpark in Miami, but still found a way to be his team's hero, blasting the decisive home run in the eighth inning of the Dodgers' 6-4 win over the Marlins. "Rules are rules," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, "and I'm going to enforce them until its strategically untenable to continue to do so. Literally nothing but a moment in which I will gain a strategic advantage as a baseball tactician will stop me from enforcing them. Or if I forget about the rule I'm in the middle of enforcing. Or if I think the person who broke the rule is really sorry. Those are the only three ways I'll let anyone on my team get away with anything."
It’s that time of year — when snakes, auctions, ADPs, keepers, and sleepers start to rule our football hearts and minds. This season, last year’s Fantasy Island contest winner, Matt Borcas, will be providing some fantasy insight, starting with the tools you need for a league-winning draft.
1. I wasn’t able to catch Sunday’s Colts-Bills game live, regrettably. Family and friends were at my house for a birthday party, and only a monster would skip out on burgers and ice cream and cornhole for a PRESEASON MATINEE featuring world-beaters like Jeff Tuel and Chandler Harnish. So when I saw on Twitter that E.J. Manuel went 16-for-21 with a touchdown, I became super giddy and basically spent the next hour rubbing my hands together like Birdman. Of course, this was because I ranked Manuel 22nd among all quarterbacks three weeks ago — sky-high compared to most of my colleagues in the booming fantasy rankings industry — and thought I’d consequently be hailed as a prescient identifier of undervalued assets. Like a Warren Buffet for fantasy quarterbacks, sans all the money!
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.
Before we rank the new NFL head coaching hires on the basis of fantasy-friendliness, it’s important to note that each coach’s ranking largely depends on the situation that preceded him. For example, if the Chiefs had hired, say, Charlie Weis to replace Romeo Crennel, Weis would’ve earned high marks here solely because Romeo was so breathtakingly terrible. (Seriously, with the ungodly QB platoon of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, why didn’t Jamaal Charles crack 300 rushing attempts last year?) But if the Patriots randomly decided to can Bill Belichick and name Weis his successor, Weis would almost definitely finish dead last in these rankings, barring Lane Kiffin being hired by the Cowboys, which would cause the universe to collapse on itself. With that in mind, here’s 2013’s freshman class of NFL head coaches (plus Andy Reid), ranked from least to most fantasy-friendly.