Archive for the ‘Fantasy Sports’ Category

By Nathan Hammer

Cardinals VS. Panthers:

Must Starts: Tim Hightower. Panthers rank 25th in rush D and Hightower is coming off a monster game. I also expect Arizona to go up early, which could mean 20+ carries.  Arizona D/ST. My rule all season has been pick up and play any D that faces the Panthers. The Cards D is also coming off a game where they racked up 6 turnovers and a TD against Denver. Oh, and the Arizona D has the most TD’s in the league. Jonathan Stewart. The clear cut number one in Carolina with an appetizing match up.

Strong starts: Larry Fitzgerald. He is borderline must start as he saw 14 targets in week 14. QB issues are the only thing holding him back.

Sleeper: Steve Breaston. The Fitz man will have more blankets then all of the fans at Minnesota University this weekend. Breaston should reap the benefits.

Saints VS. Ravens

:               Must starts: Drew Brees, Maqreus Colston, Ray RIce, Anquan Boldin.

Strong starts: Lance Moore.DO NOT be fooled by the common misconception that Baltimore D is what it was.  Try and tell me who their corners are and who else fills out the secondary. Derrick Mason. Coming off a 2 TD day and has 5 in the last 6 games.

Sleeper: Jeremy Shockey. I believe you will see a Baltimore D playing on their heels to defend the deep ball, which will open up the middle for the big TE.

Falcons VS Seahawks:

Must Starts: Michael Turner, Roddy White (I’m really feeling it), Tony Gonzalez.

Strong starts: Matt Ryan. Border line must start, but looked shaky against Carolina last week. Mike Williams. If truly healthy, he could go off, but I would like to see him back in action before committing in the playoffs.

Sleeper: Ruvell Martin. Had a chance to shine last week and ran with it. Williams being back should free him up even more.

Broncos VS. Raiders:

Must starts: Darren Mcfadden. Knowshon Moreno. Moreno has quietly had 5 consecutive weeks of 15 or more points (ESPN standard) and with Kyle Orton struggling, he becomes ole reliable. Brandon Lloyd. (Due to injuries in the Raiders secondary, most notably Nnamdi Asomugha.

Strong starts: Louis Murphy. About time, but finally healthy and dangerous

Sleeper: Jason Campbell. Hell after last week, he isn’t much of a sleeper. All eyes will be on Run DMC, allowing Campbell will make them pay.

Jets VS. Steelers:

Must Starts: Rashard Mendenhall. He has been a victim of a diminishing offensive line but remember the rule, start your studs. Hines Ward. Always comes up big towards end of the season and he proved so last week. Santonio Holmes. I would bet he gets over his case of the Steve Johnson’s and returns to form. Plus think he has extra incentive? Both D/ST’s.

Strong starts: Mike Wallace. Hard to bench him, but do you really want to take a risk of being stranded on Revis island in the playoffs?

Packers VS. Patriots:

Must Starts: Greg Jennings. Irrelevant of who is tossing to him. A guy with that much skill can catch balls from anybody. Tom Brady, Benjarvis Green-Ellis, and Wes Welker. Consistency wins in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers if he is active

Storng starts: Donald Driver (if Rodgers plays). The guy sees so many targets. Rob Gronkowski. Border line must start, but is yet to prove himself in front of his home crowd.

Sleeper: James Starks. His value shoots way up if Rodgers can’t go. A solid play either way.

Bears VS Vikings:

Must starts: Matt Forte. Adrian Peterson. If he was healthy, I could see this turning into a monster game with rookie QB Joe Webb pretty much calling “Hut Hut 28” every play. Shame they probably won let him carry more then 15-20.

Strong starts: Sidney Rice. The kid has to throw to somebody and Rice can make the rookie look good.

Sleeper: Toby Gerhart.  He will, at the very least, ease the load off of AP and remember kids he is a former Heisman runner up waiting for an opportunity.

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By Phil Bausk

So obviously this isn’t a book, and there will never ever be a book written about my sports gambling history, but you get the point. It was when I turned 13 and realized I could beat all of my friends in most video games and individual sports competitions in which I acquired a thirst for more. Winning wasn’t enough, and I needed something else to keep me going. Similar to college athletes who get paid under the table, I knew that I could get money for my talents, even if it wasn’t technically allowed legally or morally (Those who know me can see how the moral issues wouldn’t be much of a problem, call me Cecil Newton).

During my early high school years, I found that I could somewhat control my gambling fortune. Whether it be betting on games of Madden (which paid for a lot of McDonalds), Free Throw contests, or Home Run Derby’s, I was able to limit the amount of luck that could go against me and force a losing hand.

Then one day I stumbled upon something that I had only heard of, and had not yet experienced. When I was 16, I saw an older friend with a very disgruntled look on his face, handing over a $20 bill to a classmate. I ran over to my friend and asked him if he had owed him money for a movie or something. He said he had officially been knocked out of his Fantasy Football playoffs, and had to pay $20 to the eventual winner.

Now I was very familiar with Fantasy sports at the time, but was unaware that other people were running leagues and offering a cash prize for the winner. I spent the next day of school sniffing out the commissioner of the league to ask him a couple of questions. After an awkward conversation in which he was taking a Post-Lunch Twosie, he explained to me the rules he had set up for his league. It was in this dank bathroom that a new chapter of my life was about to begin, a chapter that would lead to nervous eating, being grounded for cursing at the TV, and some of the most excruciating moments of misfortune in my sports related life.

I had started gambling on sports, not just via Fantasy sports, but betting on teams to win games and players to win individual awards.  Whether it be with friends or via the internet (best invention ever), sports betting has driven me to watch games I never thought I would care about in my life. I wouldn’t call it a drug, but I would equate it to the McRib sandwich at Mickey D’s. It isn’t so amazing when you’re eating it, but the more you think about it, the more you want it for every meal of the day. When it feels good eating it, you’re on top of  the world, but there are times it doesn’t go down as well and you spend half of Sunday Night football listening to the game through your bathroom wall. I always knew gambling on sports was a bad idea, especially with my luck, but I felt like I needed to do it. I couldn’t sit through a Mariners-Angels game in 2004, unless I had taken the Angels to win cause they had Bartolo Colon on the mound.

Five dollar bets turned into 10 dollar bets. Those bets became 20 dollar bets. If you can’t figure out where this is going then you obviously need to get a GED or something. My overall gambling career has been relatively successful. I have placed in poker tournaments online and in person, and have won a decent percentage of the sports bets I have made in the past few years. While these moments are pleasurable, they can not take away the sting of some of the most tormenting and unfathomable losses I have taken in the past decade.

2010, Week 12, Fantasy Football: A must-win week to keep my playoff hopes alive, week 12 was the biggest week of the season for my squad, “ChompinChoiceChode23.” Going into the Sunday Night game, I had San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Jackson playing in his first game of the season. 3 plays in and he tweaks a “mysterious” calf injury and sits for t he rest of the game. Up a minuscule 3 points, I was facing off against San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore. Gore needed over 30 rushing yards to end my season. Gore started the game and earned those 3 points quickly. He then left the game with a season-ending injury. My theory is that he went into the game injured, knew what he needed to get to beat me, even in the case of a scoring mistake by Yahoo!, and then took himself out. I am shocked he didn’t have  an interview after the game saying something like, “Yeah I just needed to lock down 38 total yards to beat Phil. I really played my heart out there for those 4 minutes and I feel like a true champion.”

June 10th, 2006, NCAA Tournament:There is documented video footage of my emotional roller coaster that was the 2006 NCAA Tournament. I had a very clean bracket and had made a ballsy pick in taking Texas A & M to defeat LSU to go to the Sweet 16.  This was key because a lot of people had LSU advancing as far as the Final Four (which they made an appearance in that season). This loss created a domino effect, as more of my teams started to drop like Santonio Holmes’ towel (Yes, more dick jokes). This video explains everything you need to know about this game and its effect on me. I have linked it twice because it was just that devastating.

2007 Fantasy Football Semifinals: With a team on fire, I was not worried about “BigBenBonesBlacks7” losing in the 2nd round of the playoffs. After a hot start from my team, I figured I was on my way to a finals appearance. One of the biggest reasons I made the playoffs in the first place was Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook. He had a stellar season as was doing his thing against my poor Dallas Cowboys the week of the semifinals. With under two minutes remaining in the game, Westbrook appeared to have an easy Touchdown, but instead, went down intentionally at the one yard line, taking a cupcake Touchdown away from me. With a big lead at the time, I was not worried about the potential repercussions of  this play. As the day went on, I became more and more nervous as the score became closer. After the Monday Night game was ending, so too was my fantasy season, losing by 4 points in the semifinals. I should have realized that Westbrook going down at the one yard line was going to be a slap in my dumb, mushy face. I still have his five fingers outlined across my cheek. In addition, I went on to lose by less than two points in the semifinals the following season.

2006 NBA Finals, Miami Heat defeat the Dallas Mavericks:I would like to say this was the last time I bet on the Dallas Mavericks, but that would be a filthy lie. I took the Mavericks to win the finals over the Heat that season, basically falling head over heels for Dirk Nowitzki and his flowing gold hair and his organized German approach to life. The Mavs went up 2-0 in the series and appeared well on their way to capturing an NBA championship. Game 3 comes along and Nowitzki, who shot 90% from the charity strip that year, missed 1 of 2 pivotal FT’s, resulting in a Miami Heat victory (Did I mention the Heat trailed by 13 in the 4th quarter of that game?). The rest is history as Dwayne Wade (who took about 3,500 Free Throws that series) and the Heat went on to win the title. I am no longer a fan of blonde haired people, though my affinity for Germans still remains strong.

Week 14 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Washington Redskins: This game is what sparked the idea to share my horror with the public. This game was part of a 3 team parlay that I had taken this past Sunday. The Bucs needed to win by 2 points, and then Phil wouldn’t have to worry about paying for his addiction to Peanut Butter M&M’s. With the score 10-9 in favor of Washington, the Bucs got the ball down to the Redskins one yard-line with about 10 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. QB Josh Freeman fumbled and gave the Redskins the ball back. Alright, fine, I can deal with that, it happens. Then with 3:46 remaining, the Bucs scored a TD and completed the 2-pt conversion, giving them a 17-10 lead, and me a drawer full of candy. Led by Donovan Mcnabb (who looks like has has a drawer full of candy in his locker), the Redskins drove the length of the field in under 4 minutes, and scored a TD on 4th down to make it a 17-16 game. So an extra point and the game can go into overtime, where Connor Barth can get me my snacks. Unfortunately for me and the Redskins, the snap for the extra point went through the holder’s hands, and a laughable scramble to cover the ball. Final score, Tampa Bay 17, Washington 16.

If you are ever having a tough time in life and need some guidance, reassurance, or just something to make you feel better about yourself, think about Phillip Bausk, sitting on his couch in his apartment, with a thousand mile stare in his eyes wondering, “I may never eat candy ever again…”

By Phil Bausk

It’s Week 13, you have fought injury and a crappy internet connection to get your Fantasy Football team on the cusp of making the playoffs. You are down 19 points with 2 players remaining in an “epic” Monday Night Football showdown between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.

You were raised a New York Jets fan and have dealt with disappointment for most of your life. Finally, the Jets have a chance to win a division title and make their playoff road 300 times easier. The whole season can come down to this one game in Foxborough. There is just one problem; You are starting Benjarvis Green-Ellis and Deon Branch, and those 19 points that you need will have to come against your beloved Jets.

You sit there and justify it.  Well BJE has averaged 11 fantasy points the previous 3 weeks and his 72.3% chance of getting into the end-zone isn’t going to change if you start him or you don’t. You figure that he is going to score regardless and you may as well reap some of the benefits, even if it is against your favorite team.

Then there’s “Neon” Deon Branch. If you have taken into account what you expect from BJE, then there is no harm in starting Branch against the Jets, for his projected 4 receptions for 52 yards are seemingly harmless and should help get you into the playoffs. You have done the research, you have read the other blogs and reports on the Patriots offensive game plan, and you are emotionally alright with starting these two key players against your hometown J-E-T-S. (That acronym under Rex Ryan should be Just Eat The Steak!)

The “memorable” match up ends and the final score is New England Patriots 45, NY Jets 3. BJE, 2 Touchdowns, Neon Deon, 1 Touchdown, whatever is left of you and your dignity on your 3-piece arrangeable couch, 1 playoff berth.

Sure, you are upset about the Jets getting abused like this little kid by his babysitter, and you will complain and think of what they could have done to make it a close game and whatnot, but in the end, you will have enough of a feeling of satisfaction for making your Fantasy Football playoffs that by the middle of the week, you are already balls deep in statistics, debating whether or not Ed Dickson is a smarter TE play then Zach Miller.

Now, I am not a scientist, nor have I ever been confused with one, but I am pretty sure there are some lines being crossed here. Being a Dallas Cowboys fan, this year has been easy on me in the Fantasy Football sense. I feel comfortable starting people against their defense (and by comfortable I mean I need a towel after seeing that match up) and am less worried about the outcome of their games. I don’t have to worry about the Stay Puft Marshmallow man ruining my Cowboy’s season anymore.

Yet I have been there before. I have been watching Cowboys- Eagles game, praying for the Cowboys to somehow win, while Desean Jackson and Brian “I went from 32 to 87 in about six weeks” Westbrook still had big enough fantasy games to help my fantasy squad. I have seen the Cowboys blow a 4th quarter lead (Oh yes, more than one) to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but realizing I was playing against Tony Romo and that his last 2 INT’s that sealed the game, ultimately led to a victory for my team, FelixFucksFatties28 (He was a rookie back then, I am sure he’s dating more attractive women now, at least I’d hope).

What does this say about us as fans? What does this say about us as sports enthusiasts? We follow the sport to such a degree that we can tell you how Zach Duke pitches in west coast games, against primarily right handed lineups, on a Tuesday afternoon. We can look up Adam Laroche’s career numbers in outdoor games, against recently called up pitchers whose parents attended the game, but couldn’t afford field level seats.

I have been fighting this for a while but I can come out and say it now, I am a Nerd! I read these stats, I find them out on my own without help from a “tutor” or a “guru” (Matthew Berry, have someone else write your columns, they suck). Sure I am not researching the War of 1812, or examining the diction in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, but I am putting just as much  time and effort into something so outrageously meaningless, that I am a pocket protector and a Texas Instruments Graphing Calculator away from being a full fledged nerd (Or a Harvard degree away from being one. Greenstein, I am talking to you).

Is this what fantasy sports have come to? Us neglecting the ultimate interest of our beloved sports teams? While this doesn’t hold true for everyone, there is that feeling of satisfaction that comes from winning a fantasy football week, even if your hometown team loses in a close game. One can go through the measures of not drafting division rival’s players, and having replacements lined up instead of starting players against their own hometown team, but very few do this and take such time to prepare.

While this past Monday night contest didn’t decide the outcome of the regular season, it did play a massive role in determining  that the Jets will most likely have to go into New England and beat them to get to the Superbowl. Of course there are Jets fans out there who, whether or not they would like to admit it, found themselves in a similar situation to what I explained above.  Well in today’s world of fantasy sports, setting your lineup from a cellphone, and watching TV shows about both (Side Note: I love “The League” on FX, but it has to update its fantasy football talk. One week they are talking about Pierre Thomas having a big week against the Steelers. I am sure that enraged Pierre Thomas owners who haven’t seen him play in what feels like years. In addition, the waiver wire collusion over Mike Bell….. Just irresponsible), it has become understandable to be happy with your team losing and your fantasy squad winning, as long as its not a season killer.

We have become a bunch of Benedict Arnolds and Steve Urkels, doing whatever it takes and whatever makes us happy to advance in our fantasy sports leagues. I worry about the day when we start making our own jerseys for our fantasy football teams, with your team name on the front, and your own name on the back. Hopefully, it will never reach this point and that the first person who does this will take a good, long look in the mirror at himself and ask, “Did I do that”?