Panic and Podcasts!

Welcome everybody to my first blog of the 2015 EFFL season. As some of you may know, some may not, last year I wrote about my weekly trials throughout the season in relation to my decision making and my thoughts on the players I was working with in any given week. I have decided to change the format this year as I feel I don’t want to do the same thing and I doubt anyone else would want to read the same stuff over with only the names changing. That said, I’m in a very different position this year than I have been in the previous two seasons of the EFFL. Heading into week 3 win less with a team who have  failed to deliver on every front, a waiver wire that is so thin it’s anorexic and injuries popping up daily, it would appear that the record of 0-3 seems like an inevitability. Here was me thinking this sort of thing only happened to Rab and Nicky. So do I panic, the answer to that is……..not quite. The talent of my players, I believe, has not just disappeared but certain factors of their individual teams set up has changed. I still feel that if the Broncos and Eagles sort out their offensive lines then Murray and Anderson will come on strong after all Eddie Lacey didn’t start well last year and was looking like a complete bust before picking his game up and finishing strongly, the same is true for Tom Brady who was written off then ended up with some new jewellery on his fingers. In my last  two seasons I have started very well and been on the cusp of a comfortable play-off berth for it all to go a bit pear shaped before spluttering out of steam and exiting after the first play-off game. In a standard scoring redraft league I feel there is benefits to a early waiver pick into mid season to establish yourself with a solid deep team, hopefully I’m the kind of coach who can pull that off. Only time will tell.

This year our league was joined by Shaun and Stuart who replaced Russell and Harry and it got me thinking about how I go about my research into all things fantasy and if there was anything I could do to help these two rookies out, and anyone else for that matter, so I thought I would set out some of my tools and links to them with a bit of reasoning into why I like and use them.

On our first year Twitter was my crutch, I had never really got a handle on the old Twitter up to that point but there are so many great analysts and on the spot beat reporters working on the medium that it is the on tool that I can check quickly and get a great deal of information from in a short space of time. At the end of this I will put some Twitter handles that should be followed for reliable information.

My next research tool, as anyone who knows me, is the podcast. I love a podcast, it was another thing that I hadn’t really paid much attention to pre EFFL but it has been a saving grace for me. All my working life, 28yrs(!), I have always listened to the radio. If I’m doing anything around the house, in the car, out walking/running I need either music or radio as company, helps me focus I suppose, I have never thought of it as a distraction at all and I absorb more info that way than by reading screeds of articles, web pages and the likes.

The first podcast I got on board with was ESPN’s Fantasy Focus with Nate Ravitz, Matthew Berry and Stephania Bell. Nate has now went off to “push paper” and Field Yates now has the task of keeping TMR in check. They may tout the advice as “mediocre” but I can safely say over the years I have gleaned some solid heads ups on future stars weeks before they became the number one pick on the waiver wire. Nate was always a great foil to Matthew and would bring him back to earth when he was running away with a player, Cordarrelle Patterson being a fine example of this. Field has yet to get there but comes across as a very good evaluator of talent and how they fit in the organisations for which they play. Stephania Bell was my first injury analyst and does great work deciphering injury reports and has me primed every week that if they don’t practise Friday then things aren’t going to be good this weekend. There is great chemistry within the team and it has some real laugh out loud moments and features. Almost forgot Podvader and now Secret Squirrel are the guys on the buttons.

Through Matthew Berry I invested in the Rotopass subscription which gives you access to Football Guys, ESPN Insider, Rotowire, Pro Football Focus, Rotoviz apps, Fantasy Insiders and a couple of DFS sites, the cost for Rotopass for the year is about £35 which may seem pricey but that’s a night out in the Red Lion if truth be told.

Out of these I first used Football Guys. They are brilliant. The site is jam packed with all the facts and figures you need with really well research articles on every facet of the game. The Audible is their podcast and is presented by Cecil Lammey, Sigmund Bloom, Matt Waldman and Doctor Jene Bramel.  These guys know their stuff, are really enthusiastic about Fantasy Football and have a depth of knowledge of the game that really puts them as leaders in the market. Sigmunds On The Couch pod is a philosophical take on the approach to Fantasy Football and the guest he has on are top notch. Dr Jene will go back and watch tape on player injuries and can give a solid breakdown of time scale and long term effects of said injuries on players ability to perform if back early. Matt Waldman is your go to guy for rookie evaluation. Cecil is a specialist on the Broncos but has more firepower in his cannon than that, as a team they have the lot covered. It can be a bit intimidating when you initially listen, as fact,and figures fly about at a hundred miles an hour but sticking with it these become your bread and butter when you are evaluating your players and, hopefully, your future pick ups on the year.

I have picked up two more podcasts this year and I find I’m getting different spins on things from both, which goes to show that not one group of people have it all down pat.

The first one is the Harris Football Podcast, the little podcast that could. Christopher Harris worked for ESPN last year and did the Fantasy Underground pod, I listened a couple of time but didn’t really get into it. This year I found out he had set himself up in the market so I thought I would give him another try, and I’m glad I did. His mantra is ignore the box score and look at the tape, he watches every game, I assume this is coach film and assesses the players on ability, can a back cut to make extra yards or just balloon through a crater style hole for 8yds, can a wideout make separation and run a clean route or is he a yard short on pace for what’s required on the play. This is invaluable  stuff when your studs aren’t performing and you just want rid of them in a hurry. He has helped me focus on where the problem lies, be that with the player or with the o-line or even the quarterback. He also gets good guests on and gives them room to air their thoughts. He has quirky segments including a music slot and a weekly spot for his cousin Josh.

The last one now, found via the Harris Football pod, is Living The Stream. I have always streamed my defence, quarterbacks and Tight ends to some degree. Hosted by J J Zachariason and C.D. Carter this pod concentrates on which of the aforementioned positions are likely to score well at the weekend. This is a weekly pod and the guys have there own secret formula as to who to pick up on waivers that week, as with all these podcasts none of this is guaranteed but I like their approach and can see positives in the results so far. These guys live and die by the predictions so they have to be on their game. I’m tracking them thus far and they may not have been killing it but they are far from duds, let’s face it weeks 1 and 2 have been bizarre to say the least.

That’s enough from me, I’ll put Twitter handles below,

From behind the Purple Door.

Twitter Handles: Matthew Berry @MatthewBerryTMR

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Eric Karabell @karabellespn

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

Greg Cosell @gregcosell

Stephania Bell @Stephania_ESPN

Adam Rank @adamrank

Michael Fabiano @Michael_Fabiano

Tristan H. Cockroft @SultanofStat

Christopher Harris @HarrisFootball

Chris Mortensen @mortreport

Sigmund Bloom @SigmundBloom

Jene Bramel @JeneBramel

Matt Waldman @MattWaldman

Cecil Lammey @CecilLammey

That should do for a start.

Welcome to my Fantasy: Week 14.

 

I’m sitting here tonight with a heavy heart as I come to terms with the end of my season. I will now pass on my congratulations to Coach Gav and his Nitten Pickaxe team on their victory. Should I be out, should I have been beaten? No, no I bloody well should not! Some weeks it just doesn’t happen and this was one of those weeks for me which was harder to take after how it all began……..

 

Last week I decided I would put Jay Cutler back into the team, I also decided I would put him in late on Thursday night so ,hopefully, Gav went to sleep thinking I was going to start Eli Manning and then BOOM, Friday morning he wakes up to a kick in the spuds with Jay scoring big.

Now apart from not knowing if I fooled Gav the rest of it went pretty close to the plan. Cutler scored big, he had Dez Bryant for the Cowboys and he underscored but I lost Marshall in the process. I was up and what made it better was that I had made the right choice and even if Manning scored more points I was comfortable living with my selection.

So Friday I went to Tigerlillies in Edinburgh and after some cocktails and a dance-off in the nightclub I was pretty happy with how the weekend was progressing.

Ok, in the back of my mind there was a niggle that Jennings wasn’t going to cut the mustard but he had practised Friday and was travelling to the game. It became too much on Sunday morning and I dropped him for Jarvis Landry, again it was the right choice, but just think what could have been with a line up of backs that was Foster @ Jacksonville and Jennings @ Tennessee if both fully healthy. Stick McCoy(v Seattle) at flex and don’t tell me that’s not a bit special. unfortunately things didn’t go as planned and bar Foster and Cutler no-one else put up any numbers that were near their potential.

In the end I went down trailing by 14pts and looking at the box scores that should never have happened but that is fantasy. A touchdown from Golden Tate, Marshall not getting injured(he was looking good), the Eagles not having their worst ever day on offence under Chip Kelly, Larry Donnell acting like early season Donnell and on and on……..

 

I will sign off tonight by crowning my fantasy player of the week. Tonight this young man performed on stage at Earlston Primary as Fred, the nephew of Ebeneezer Scrooge, and was on stage for the majority of the show in one guise or another. He delivered his lines with clarity and panache, he danced in time and sang with a smile. It may be a different type of fantasy but I give you my son, Gareth, as this weeks fantasy player.

 

From Behind The Purple Door.

 

Bah Humbug!

 

Welcome to my Fantasy: Week 13.

The play-off showdown against the Flush was as tense a game as I can recall. I’m no stato so when it comes to working out the finer points of if I made it into the play-offs or not my philosophy was a simple one, if I win I’m in. I went into Monday nights game needing a couple of points from Jarvis Landry and Caleb Sturgis and when I checked, some time into the 1st quarter, they had achieved the goal. I would have liked a bigger final total but you can’t get too greedy so I’m happy enough with my 110.88-95.80 destruction of the pitiful Mercy Flush(love you really Paul).  Into the play-offs I trundle as I take on Gav and his team Nitten Pickaxe.

The reason for the lateness of this blog is down to the fact that reality took over from fantasy this week as my wife celebrated her birthday on Tuesday. It is a bit of a landmark one so the majority of my attention was geared towards her as we partied in Glasgow on Saturday night, so much so I was unable to eat anything until 5.30pm on Sunday night. I was nice and full when the games started though. On her birthday we dined out with family at Herges on the Loch which we all enjoyed very much. I do like it there.

I suppose the reason I am dishing out this info is that my team is pretty much sorted now and barring any major injury disasters things are pretty much going according to plan. I’m not saying my team is perfect, far from it, but I have planned for this part of the season for the last month and with the acquisition of McCoy, quiet in the cheap seats, I feel I’m in a pretty strong position within my roster of players. I’ve worked out match-ups and have multiple scenario’s whatever injury issues come calling, like Mr Jennings this week for instance.

I’m getting ahead of myself, my main issue at this time is at Quarterback. Jay Cutler is quite simply doing my nut in. My whole draft philosophy this year was wide receiver heavy and when I snagged Marshall I was determined to get Cutler, they have(had?!?) great chemistry and with Forte, Jeffrey and Bennett the Bears have the weapons. Unfortunately when that train goes off the rails it hits you hard and through injury to Marshall and Cutler running hot to cold to freezing it has not been the goldmine I was hoping for. I’ve waived and dropped and waived again trying to snag a replacement, a lot of guys have been on the Quakes roster for a matter of minutes while some have stepped up and had a go, Jay always manages to put up the numbers in those cases( week 13 Eli Manning 9.88pts starter, Jay 15.10pts bench). My lesson I’m learning, in amongst this, is that by punishing Jay I’m hurting myself  and that is a bitter pill. Battle on we must though and by jingo I will see this out with young Jay if its the last thing I do.

Other position of trouble is tight end, outside the top 3 it is just a horrendous position so I try not to let it take up too much brain space so I won’t bore you with it here.

This one is short and sweet, until next week were I will either be in or out, later.

From Behind The Purple Door.

Welcome to my Fantasy: Week 12.

Well that sucks, the chance to take the Kirk division and do the double on the Boo-Hoomians for the second year in a row slipped through my fingers as my team decided to stutter and stall at the total of 83.50pts. This left Eric Decker the chance to win in for Coach Ally by only needing 3pts, the balloon only got 6.3pts in the game against the Bills but it was enough for the Boo-Hoos so they clinch top spot, I think(it’s very mathematical at this point), and I’m left to go toe to toe with Mercy Flush next week to cement my place in the play-offs.

Some, of course, may say this is my just desserts and I tend to agree. I bargained a lot of my year on 2 players from the Bears and being a Vikings fan for all these years it’s only right that it’s the Bears players that let me down. Thank you very much Messrs Cutler and Marshall, thanks for eff all.

As this is a blog all about my fantasy team on a week by week basis my goal was to blog about things that had happened in that week, some weeks are harder than others because your team picks itself and not much goes on so you can drift into a tangent and ultimately it can be all filler and no killer. Not this week though, by jings, not this week.

Scooby-Doo shimmy thing!

It began at a Halloween party that a lot of the league members attended, we spent some time chatting about how things were going in our teams etc.. Coach Nicky from TIT was very aggrieved that week in week out he was playing Shady McCoy and he wasn’t putting up the numbers, he was the first overall draft pick and should be your mainstay when it comes to amassing points and that he was not. He was getting yardage but no touchdowns, frustrating. The next we heard from Nicky regarding McCoy was on the 16th of November when he posted a rant about him and said if he didn’t make a certain points total he was up for a trade, that week he made 10.6pts taking his yearly total to 94ish points and the 16th ranked running back on the year. To put perspective on that I have Arian Foster who has missed 4 weeks, including the bye week, and he has a total of 161.1pts and is ranked 5th in the year. Both frustrating but for very different reasons.

The next bit is all about my needs and reasoning behind those needs. My running backs are Foster(sicknote), Jennings(coming back from the sick), Charles Sims(unknown quantity/Tampa) and Jerick McKinnon(talented Viking but underused). The other thing for McKinnon was an uncertainty that Adrian Peterson may return, he won’t, so my running back depth was becoming an issue. Looking on the waiver wire for running backs is a blowout in our league as any decent ones are snapped up at least a week before podcasts/beat writers/NFL fantasy shouts their names from the rooftops and your left with dudes that need a touchdown run to make 7pts. Things were looking grim as it was looking like Foster was on his ‘day-to-day’ injury report and not training(never a good sign) so I had to pull a rabbit out of a hat from somewhere.

We were in our last week in which we can trade so here is what I came up with. McCoy, although not producing number 1 running back numbers, would give me the depth I needed, he had been openly put up for trade by his Coach who was at the end of his tether with him so I thought I would chance it, he would either say yes or no.

Here is what I sent to Nicky on the 19th:

 You still interested in trading McCoy? I’ll trade you Keenan Allen and Charles sims for him then you can drop ball who is of no use to you now. Allen would strengthen you at wr, good match up this week and sims could be a good shout at flex this week. Let me know your thoughts.

He replied:

  Fuck it, aye I can’t bear to look at McCoy on the team sheet.
Now you may think I’ve been a bit cheeky there but Allen had a good match-up against the Rams, he scored 12.4pts, and he has a good match-up against Denver in week 15, always does well against them and he gets a ton of targets week in week out. Sims can be seen as a bit of a stretch but remember Lovie Smith, the Tampa coach, is playing with inherited runners and he and his coaching staff drafted Sims so they obviously believe in him. Sims could save Smiths career at Tampa, stranger things have happened.
 On the McCoy side for me was the chance to start him at flex with the likelihood of getting 10-12pts from him, there was nothing in his season so far that said that was more than you could expect.
 Our very own Coach Ally touched on this in his blog regarding Trades when he wrote the following:
 Our second examples involves LeSean McCoy. He’s had a complete bust of a season for our second overall pick. He was the subject of a number of trade offers early in the season and if Coach Nicky had cashed in he may have recouped some value for him. Unfortunately he hung onto him hoping for a turnaround. He’s a great example of cashing in when you can as McCoy’s value has deflated so much and the body of work has grown to such an extent that his value is no longer RB1 with hope or RB2 but is probably closer to RB4 or RB5.
I genuinely expect that come the season end that Allen/Sims points tally will not be to far away from McCoy.
 The other thing about doing a 2 for 1 trade is that you can pick up another player straight from the waiver wire and I thought a decent replacement for Allen would be Jarvis Landry, he scored 17pts on my bench and would have won me the game if I’d have played him over Marshall(mind so would have McCown).
 So, the morning after the trade went up the shit hit the fan. Post were going up on our chat platform regarding the finalising of the trade being after the deadline, it was an underhand manoeuvre by me, cutthroat, not in the spirit of the league…….it when on and on and on. All this time, may I add any league member could have voted against the trade and stopped it dead in the water but no one did. If it was against the league rules regarding the completion then it would have been kick out, it didn’t. I asked, Nicky agreed. What more needs to be said?
 Well this, I suppose, I play in and am proud to be part of the EFFL, I want to win and I know the guys I play against want to win and that comes down to a group of athletes taking to the field to play the game they get paid to play and for them it’s not to important that a bunch of guys in the Scottish Borders(a couple are further afield) are bickering with each other over something that is a distraction from the day to day bollocks that we have to go through. I myself have gotten too carried away with the whole thing this year and I’m guilty of forgetting that we don’t all do this with the same intensity and that for some it’s just a way of keeping in touch with friends. We will be loosing Coach Harry at the end of the season and I am partly responsible for that as I felt he wasn’t engaging like he should. For that I would like to apologies. I love playing in the EFFL and wouldn’t change it even though sometimes it changes me, it’s all about balance I suppose. In the real world we all have bigger issues to concern ourselves with and hopefully this is a bit of an escape from that, I know it is for me.
 Don’t hate the player, hate the players that play the game!
 From Behind The Purple Door.

Welcome to my Fantasy: Week11

He may have tried to wine me, he may have tried to dine me but Coach Richie definitely failed when he tried to 69 me! The thing you need to know when going into a match up with the SanFran-Gordon 69ers is you will get a week long barrage of trash talk, the other thing you need to know is, it doesn’t really matter as his team is rubbish and the head coach makes some “interesting” choices. On paper going into this game it looked as if I was the underdog but as they say, every dog has his day, and I certainly had mine. The Quakes now move to 7-4, sharing that record with the Boo-Hoomians who we play next week in the biggest divisional game of the season.

This week didn’t go as smooth as I would have liked as my oil worker, Arian Foster, was on shore leave with a groin injury he sustained in week 9. I did have Rashad Jennings back but he was up against a good D and just back off, what felt like, a long absence due to injury, so I wasn’t expecting a big workload for him. The options that left me was McKinnon or Sims at rb2, I opted for McKinnon. If AP was going to be back I was hoping he would seize the moment a go out with a bang. Still don’t fully get why the Vikings don’t game plan for him a bit more as he averages over 4yds a carry, frustrating for a fantasy coach that is.

I had also made the decision this week to bench Cutler after he had lost his way over the last couple of weeks and had appeared to be playing his way out of Soldier Field rather than the franchise QB he should be. I went with Josh McCown, up against Washington, massive thrower of the ball, say no more. It was the kick up the arse Cutler needed as he produce a 23pt game. It didn’t backfire too much on me as McCown put up just over 20pt. Welcome back for week 12 Jay, your my boy(in)blue.

It was my receivers that made the difference this week with Marshall, White and Donnell at TE putting up numbers that swung the game. Roddy White has impressed me this year, he’s not putting up the numbers of, say, Cobb but as a second receiver he has been consistent and is a good flex play. I’m not too worried regarding Tate this week as no Lion scored big in a week were the Cards D kept them down pretty well. Megatron is back and that dents his numbers but Stafford has now learned he can trust him and with match ups against weaker defences to come and Megatron getting doubled that should open things up for him nicely.

My aim this year was to be more consistent in my scoring and, bar my 2 weak weeks, I’m a lot happier with how that’s working out, just got to keep that up into the next few weeks. I’m averaging 96.32pts a game against Ally who is  95.77pts per game. This week could be good. Come back next week.

From Behind the Purple Door.

Welcome to my Fantasy: Week 10

Well, that was awful. Week 10 will go down as a low point in my campaign. Readers of my blog will know that I went into this week expecting defeat and it was handed to me most royally by Coach Harry of the Oakbank Oddities. The final tally of 110.5 for Oddities to my 70.28 looks better for me than you would think due to the fact that when I stirred from my slumber on Monday morning I was sitting at 48pts with one quarter left to play. Fortunately Ally got tanked but Paul won so now the entire Kirk division sits at 6-4 with 3 games left to go. All that leaves me to say is well done to Harry who takes his record to 5-5. On the flip side I will never be beaten by him again(unless we meet in the play-offs!?!) as he has decided that this will be his last year in the league so everyone may just give up now as anyone who watches any kind of reality TV will realise he is now firm favourite to go on to become the champion. Good luck H.

Where did it go wrong then, well you have to go back to the draft for that. I’m always very particular in my mock drafts to avoid massive bye week clashes but I must have taken my eye off the ball in the heat of a very tense draft room this year because in week 9 I had no receivers to speak of and in week 10 I had no runners. To make matters worse I was waiting for my RB1 to come back from injury but mid week it was confirmed he was looking unlikely and a rookie back I had picked up who was designated to return in week 9 was going to start in week 10 but was going to be limited. This meant burning roster spots on picking up backs whose only upside was either TD carries or a back up who can do a bit on limited carries and would get a serious bump if the starter went off injured and that, I can tell you, is no way to run your team.

To make a bit more sense of this here was my problem from the outset. 15 player roster. Starting line up is 1 QB, 2 RB’s, 2 WR’s, 1 TE, 1 Flex(RB/WR), K and D.

Players out on bye week: Arian Foster(RB), Jerick McKinnon(RB), Keenan Allen(WR) and Texans(D)

Players injured: Rashad Jennings(RB)

Players coming back from long term injury: Charles Sims(RB)

In week 9 I had to loose some backs to cover my receivers and I decided to go with rookies with high ceilings mainly because they are expendable, they filled the spots but s with week 10 you need them to do something when they are there so after picking up John Brown in week 9(0.7pts) and dropping him in week10(13.3pts) and the same for Donte Moncrief, week 9 only 0.2pts but on a bye in week 10 you can see my plan turned out bust instead of boom.

This was repeated with this weeks pick ups, and before I get laughed at for them please note there is nobody out there in our league worth anything at running back. When Jennings was inactive I picked up Chris Johnson, Harry had Ivory and in week 9 Johnson had outscored Ivory by 8pts and with Vick coming in at QB full on style I thought Johnson may get a bit of a better look in, fact is they both scored low with Ivory getting a little bit more of a lead role. Next up was my choice of rolling the dice on rookie Sims, who still hadn’t set foot on a regular season game or pick up someone else. I picked up James Starks who was 2nd to Eddie Lacey but still getting a few carries and Lacey is having difficulty proving himself this year…..up to now that is Starks 1pt, Lacey 17.8pts. Like I said, roll the dice.

There were other let downs, Cutler is going to a very bad place just now and I’m hoping he can turn it round, picked up the Jags D for a bit of interest in the Wembley game(they’re not stopping) and Larry Donnell is becoming a typical mid range TE who needs a TD to make 7pts.

Thankfully it’s all over now and barring niggling injuries I should have my full strength team back in action to take on the 69ers and Coach Richie. Time to turn this shit around and get back to taking names, wish me luck.

From Behind the Purple Door.

Welcome to my Fantasy: Week 9

So it has began, the 2 weeks I have feared the most, weeks 9 and 10. Monday night offered some small glimmer of hope but with Fog’s Reggie Wayne back in action for the Colts my thoughts of another stellar performance from Donte Moncrief seemed very unlikely. As with all in fantasy, reality can be more painful so after another exceptional outing from Big Ben and company my fate was sealed and my current standing of 6-3 is now in the books. That means I now have to congratulate Mr Guthrie in his fine victory that now sets him atop of T J Hooker, well done my son.

Week 9 saw the bye weeks hit me hard and if some of you can recall in week 6 I said it was important for me to go into week 9 having won the 2 previous games. Having done that I had given myself a bit of a cushion to play about a bit. My first issue was my main core of wide receivers were all on bye but I had Keenan Allen, granted hasn’t done much, so I only needed one more wide receiver. Having discussed some rookies to pick up in another article on the site and having no-one move on them I rolled the dice on John Brown. Some may say that with 10yds receiving and -3 rushing on the night that it backfired on me but I disagree. I picked him up for the rest of the season and I believe he will be of some use down the stretch. My main issue came from 2 other areas, firstly the Chargers got humped, really humped, and Allen never even got any garbage time action due to Pip Rivers departing in the 3rd quarter which put Clemens on the field shaking like a shitting dog and scared to throw the ball, dick.

My next issue was that I was expecting Rashad Jennings to return this week. I found out around Wednesday that this wasn’t happening so went after another back, thin on the ground may I add. I risked a bit for one Charles Sims or the poor man’s Matt Forte as he is known. This guy had been on the IR designated to return and the Bucs were going to activate him for the weekend. Activate they did, start him they did not. That only left me Moncrief to play but with the Fountains of Wayne he just sank deeper into the depths of the Colts but take it from me he is talented and may just be a name for the future.

I now head off to play Coach Harry and his Oddities and with the Boo-hoo’s adding pressure in the Kirk division with the Flushed just one game behind I have to ask myself this one question, is this my must win game of the season? Part of me says yes, going 7-3 with a depleted team with my full squad itching to come back strong in week 11 is a mouth watering thought. There is also a part of me that says no, this week I could play a team with a low floor but with a ceiling so high that you would think your walking into the great hall at Hogwarts and regardless of the outcome come back in week 11 and back to business.

I was told a tale at the weekend about a pool player who played the local league, for him it was a night out, one he enjoyed greatly, until, that is, he came to a straightforward match winning shot. As he positioned himself for the shot all he heard was mumblings from his team mates and at that moment the fun disappeared from his Thursday night. After that he stopped playing pool in the league and doesn’t play much anymore. This weekend I will go with bold choices, boom or bust, because I still want this to be fun and I want my enjoyment of this fantasy to stay in the game. Did the pool player make the shot? Truthfully, I can’t remember if he did or not because I was a bit drunk. I tell you what, come back next week and we will see if I can make the shot. If you’ve witnessed me at pool then you will now I’m hitting hard and fast cos I’ve got physics on my side.

From Behind the Purple Door.

Welcome to my Fantasy: Week 8

Two weeks ago I made the statement that, due to being heavily effected in weeks 9 and 10 by bye weeks, I needed to win weeks 7&8 against the league leader then the highest points scorer of the league. So what did I go and do, only bloody well that! After victory against Russell I came up against my oldest and dearest friend in the league and I completely destroyed him to take my season record to 6-2. My average score is now the highest in the league(by some way I think) and I’m cementing myself into top spot in the Kirk division.

Now some of you may have heard some of the stories from my past life regarding my relationship with Coach Jimmy but I’m going to chronicle some of them here and now to try and give some understanding as to why this game, and no doubt future EFFL games, are what I consider my derby game. I’m not going to lie, I can’t fully recall how we ended up as friends, I just remember a couple of groups of lads with some common ground somewhere started drinking together and the rest was, as they say, history. Back then I was a decent kid who enjoyed my sport but never really liked the competitive side of things, I loved training, having a kick about down the park and if anyone suggested a new sport I was always willing to give it a shot for something to do and possibly have a laugh doing it. Now Jimmy, on the other hand, was(still is mind) very talented at sport he was mainly into his football but give him a club/racket/bat he was pretty solid at those things too. He also had something I lacked greatly. If he was playing he was playing to win, he also had very little time or patience for anyone who didn’t feel the same as you were just wasting time. That may be harsh because we’ve played team games in our past like pub league cricket and that was for fun….hang on, we won the league at our second time of asking and followed it up the year after…..it was still just a bit of fun mind.

I don’t know, you would have to ask him, if he set out to change my mentality when it came to winning or whether it was a by product of getting beaten when I was on his side but he did make it one of his goals to change my attitude in regards to winning. The clearest example of this for me was when 4 of us took up badminton. If memory serves it was on a Thursday evening in Kelso High School games hall for about an hour and we would rotate the foursome after every game. He was a pain in the arse to play against due to the fact he was brilliant at telling you what he was going to do, why you didn’t have an answer for what he was about to do and then go ahead and do just what he laid out and execute it perfectly, didn’t always work but he did have a pretty high hit rate. All that said, that was the easier games to handle, when you teamed up with him that’s when it got very tough for me. “What was that?” “Your pittin it right where he wants it” and more, so much more. This used to boil my piss, I would start off by telling him to “shut the eff up”, “let me play my shot” then after a bit I would go quiet and that’s when he knew he’d got me, I would see his grin come over his face and that’s when I would want to smack him in the puss. I never did, I just got my head down said nothing and in my quiet rage would start playing with a killer instinct just to get him off my team and out of my effin face. After the hour was up though it was always over for him, he’d won, lost or drawn(never that happy with the latter two) but he left it there. Me, not so much, I would be still at boiling point for quite a while and more often than not storm away home without speaking to anyone.

Now what is the moral to all this, you may ask, and to be honest there may not be one because this was how it was, as I recall it, and it can never be changed. I have change from the young lad that wanted to just play, I do now like to win and never do things just to compete but as proved earlier this year after a week of trash talk that led to a defeat I hit my default setting, I went very quiet, got my head down and got my killer instinct back. This is now my weakest time, historically this is were I take my foot off the gas, the hard work is done. This is where I have to tell myself my biggest challenges are yet to come and that failure cannot be an option. Right now this could go either way, let’s see what happens against the 187’s to see if it gets any clearer.

From Behind the Purple Door.

Welcome to my Fantasy: Week 7

Week 7 is in the bag. This week I was up against Captain Russ and his high flying Dodgy Touchdown team, his record going into this week was 5-1 which had him at the top of the overall standings, and a victory would put us both on the same record so for me this was a must win and win I did. I may have left it late but your fantasy team can play up to 540 minutes and if it takes you to the final 2 minutes of that to secure the win then so be it. This was a perfect example of the 10 point rule, meaning you have 9 players and if they can score 10 points each then you stand a decent chance of winning, even if the projections are telling you that you should hit 120 points. I ended up at 90.7(95.26proj) with Russell at 84.82(119.42proj), so I get my 10 point average with Russell, not so much. I’m now back atop the Kirk Division and 2nd in the overall standings, I may add I’m the top points scorer with the biggest points difference too(it’s my trumpet to blow).

This week I thought I would share my thoughts on what the fantasy league has change the way in which I view American Football now and how that has changed since getting into the game back in the 80’s. As with every other male of a certain age in the UK(sigh)it was Channel 4 that introduce this wonderful game to me and along with my group of friends we all picked a team to follow. I chose the Minnesota Vikings mainly, I think, for the Hershel Walker trade and my desire to pick the next big thing. This has never quite happened for my Vikings but at the beginning we made the play-offs regularly in the early 90’s with Coach Green and his band of purple people eaters. My mates would come round to my flat for the Wednesday night club were we had our own Madden league on the Sega Mega Drive in which we went head to head with each other with our teams, my get out of jail play was a HB Toss Right w/man in motion to Hershel who would then be unstoppable down the sideline.

I lost touch with the NFL when it went to Sky so there was a few years in the wilderness that was mainly covered by staying up to watch the Superbowl and not much else, sad times indeed. Then came broadband internet where I hear you can get access to many sports without having to sell your soul to the man and be a bit of a thorn in the side of the man, that’s what I hear anyway. Then mobile apps with loads of NFL coverage, another great step, but throughout this I was still only interested in the Vikings and was content to catch a game in the pub or watch highlights on the app. Then came fantasy.

Thanks to fantasy I have watched some mind blowing plays from some extraordinary players, in week 7 alone the Rams special teams unit pulled off not 1 but 2 not to be missed game changing plays. I now marvel at the sight of Arian Foster breaking the line, cutting and battling his way for big gains, he is coming back after major back surgery but you would never think it watching him. I’m cheering for the Chicago Bears, WTF!

Last night I was down by 12pts, after midnight I put on Madden 15 and played the Texans at the Steelers. At the half I was down 10-3(I was the Texans, I have Foster and the D), at 1.15 I get onto twitter to check everyone is starting, at 1.30 I go to bed with Gamepass on my phone and my headphones on. I finally succumb at 2.30 and I’m ahead by 12pts, I stir again and check, the game is going into the fourth quarter and I’m now trailing by 2pts. I wake again at 5.30 to check, I’ve won by 6pts, happy couple of hours sleep before I get up to use this weeks smackdown on Russell.

Fantasy hasn’t just got me back into a sport that I drifted from years back, it has changed my way of thinking in regards to sport and how it is quantified in the modern sports arenas, but sport can never be a simple by the numbers game, just ask Johnny Hekker the Rams punter.

From Behind the Purple Door.

Welcome to my Fantasy: Week 6.

Last weeks team talk did it, I didn’t drop anyone and, nearly, everyone showed enough improvement for the Quakes to come home victorious against Coach Rab and his Panthers fae Pilton. Now I love Rab, he’s a top class guy who is a very generous soul and my life is better for knowing him, but when it comes to the EFFL it’s no mercy and he must be destroyed. So I destroyed him, much akin to Ivan Draco in Rocky IV I stood over his teams twitching body(collectively speaking) and on Sunday night proclaimed “If he dies, he dies!” 4-2, top of the Kirk division.

I’ve come to realize that the NFL projections can act as a great deceptive weapon. Take my contest against Rab for example, I was projected for a score of 95.02 whilst Rab was projected to score 112.88. Now that looks like a hiding for me so how did I swing it from a deficit of 17pts to a winning margin of 18pts? I’m not sure myself but the one thing I learned from last year was not to buy into the projections, they are more often than not the ceiling for players rather than the floor and believe me when I say not many of them touch the ceiling. This week I had 4 players over their projections whereas Rab had 2, problem for Rab was 3 of mine blew through their ceilings while 4 of his didn’t even get out the basement. Now Rab should be fine going forward but that’s not my concern so I shall say no more about it.

The only real issue I had this week was my flex position, I initially liked Keenan Allen for the job but he just isn’t getting any real love from Pip Rivers this year and although I loved his match up against the Raiders I still wasn’t sold. My other options were Jerk Chicken(Jerick McKinnon) or Rowdy Roddy White. Now Jerk is not, at that time, a starting back(turns out he was though) and he had a tough match-up so I needed to see more of him before I put him in my team, so comfortably on the bench he went. Rowdy Roddy was going to be in a shoot out with the Bears, that’s good, but that would be a lot of focus on one game, I don’t like that as a rule. I then looked up a few different rankings to find I had 3 receivers in the top 20 this week and Allen wasn’t one of them so that led me to the decision to play Roddy. Team was now sorted.

So, to the outcome. Golden Tate did nothing with his opportunity to make hay while Megatron was lame, disappointing. Brandon Marshall hit double digits, happy. Roddy bombed out with 4pts, rubbish. These guys were top 20 FFS! They amassed 15.7pts, Arian Foster got 26.1pts, thankfully. The thing is, in regards to Roddy and Kennan I made the right call, Allen only scored 2.7pts. My mistake was that McKinnon should have been in scoring 8.2pts.

My receiving corp is a mess and needs to be rectified sharpish or I go into the next few weeks on the end of a kick-in. There are big, tough choices coming in my future, ones that need me to put on my big boy pants because there will be criticism coming my way when I make them but the next 2 weeks are crucial for me moving forward. If I take the next 2 weeks with this team as it stands it will not just be a miracle but it would mean I have taken out the leader of the overall standings and then the highest point scorer in the league, now that would be something to blog about.

Until next time, eyes down and look in,

From Behind the Purple Door.