What a difference a year makes. Last season, Washington’s nationally televised Thanksgiving-week game was an exhibition for the league’s most exciting new offense — a 38-31 win in Dallas that was never actually that close and saw Robert Griffin III throw what is still a career-high four touchdowns. With the late-November stage again last night, the results couldn’t have been more different. The win over the Cowboys was the second in a run of seven straight toward the playoffs. Yesterday’s sputtering, almost pitiful performance against the 49ers was Washington’s third loss in a row, and Griffin’s four touchdowns were replaced with numbers like this:
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.
Did you know that Denver is the only place in the whole wide world Wes Welker would’ve left New England for? I did, because I read Chris Ballard’s revealing profile of Boston’s biggest traitor since Johnny DamonRoger Clemens Benedict Arnold. Some other crucial tidbits from the piece:
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.
Congratulations, you won the five-day holiday war and the fantasy postseason remains a distinct possibility. Thanksgiving meant forced pleasantries as NFL guardians combined to pile on 202 points — the most ever scored on a Thursday. Black Friday was for second-guessing your lineup, reeling from Matthew Stafford’s big day. The weekend brought conventional stress. I’m sorry you had to keep tabs on the Eagles and Panthers, but the goal is still four more weeks of chaos. Office parties are for the weak-minded. Ice-skating and hot chocolate with lovers is an exercise for quitters. Vapid consumerism is for victims of manufactured consent and people that traded for Dwayne Bowe.
You are George Costanza in the bunker. Gather inspiration from luminary thinkers with their backs against the wall: Winston Churchill, Tom Landry, Lil Wayne: “All I have in this world is a pistol and a promise / A fist full of dollars, a list full of problems — I'll address them like P.O. Boxes.”
Sever ties with good luck charms like Randy Moss. Stop waiting for Antonio Gates to do something. Don’t be the contending force that eventually loses by standing pat when it most matters. Most leagues no longer allow trades, and that means the waiver wire has never been more important. With so many ripe prospects breaking, today’s claims are a critical guessing game. There’s so much intriguing talent available, in fact, that I’ve itemized these gentlemen into distinct A and B Teams.
In an otherwise grim day for rookie quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III's debut against the New Orleans Saints went about as well as it could possibly go. He went 19-for-26, threw for 320 yards with two touchdowns, and, most importantly, led the Redskins to a 40-32 Week 1 win. Following the win, many were quick to applaud the Redskins’ approach, which seemed to allow Griffin to get comfortable with quick, easy throws. But the real hero of Washington’s offensive success wasn’t Kyle or Mike Shanahan. In fact, he isn’t even on the staff. It was Art Briles, Griffin’s college coach at Baylor, and, based on what the Redskins showed in Week 1, the team’s de facto co–game planner along with Washington’s head coach.
Coaching is about putting players in positions to succeed. Griffin’s potential is nearly limitless, but as a rookie playing his first game, he’s not Tom Brady just yet, and asking him to throw 40 or 50 traditional drop-back passes was not going to give Washington its best chance to win. Shanahan has clearly gone into this year with an open mind — something many otherwise excellent pro coaches don't do often enough — and he’s blended his tried-and-true West Coast/zone-blocking offense with some of the best and simplest principles Griffin executed so well at Baylor.
Although it might not seem like it right now, there actually will be more to free agency than Peyton Manning. While the talent pool isn't quite as deep as the group that hit the market last year, in Mario Williams, it has a franchise player that might be more valuable than last year's star, Nnamdi Asomugha. And while there are some thin spots at quarterback and offensive tackle, the list of available players goes pretty deep at key positions like wide receiver and cornerback. You could put together a pretty solid starting 22 without even having to touch restricted free agents or franchised players. No, really, look: