The Weekly Gut Check examines the players, strategies and guidelines fantasy football owners use to make personnel decisions.
Open Letter to Fantasy Football Santa
Dear Ti -
Excuse me... Dear Fantasy Football Santa,
I have to start with a confession. I'm not a Christian. Not that it matters, since you're the Santa of Fantasy Football and not the Christian holiday in late December. Still, most of my peers don't believe in you. They slap a couple of stats together and suddenly they are social scientists - a bunch of fantasy football economists that take you through the most painful elaborations to arrive at the obvious.
While I'm one to rely on data, I'm also a pragmatist - I never draft the guy on the cover of Madden no matter how bent out of shape my mathematically-inclined, but common sense-challenged brethren get about this "so-called" annual football curse. It's hilarious that these FF economists don't know what they are talking about, but they make you feel it's your fault.
I'm sure you've noticed that football pre-game shows look like a financial news program? Not that I want to see Cecil Lammey on TV seated in a lawn chair in a wife beater and boxer shorts...then again, at least he wouldn't be a hypocrite.
Forget them FF Santa, keep doing your thing. Plus, you've got the hippest names for your reindeer: Willis, Decker, Von, D.J., Demaryius, Champ, and Elvis.
Anyhow, I'm hoping you can use that long wind-up of yours and deliver some good tidings to these the final leg of the fantasy football season. After all, it's the season of giving and who better to share that spirit than you?
General Football Wish List
First please continue to give the general public and former football players-turned-analysts a clue that the game is based on running the football and if you gain yardage on the ground, limit turnovers, and control the clock, it's just as effective a way of winning football games as throwing the ball. It worked for the first 55 years of the sport's existence.
Also please send this answer to everyone on Twitter, television, and other media that wonder aloud what you'll do in 3rd and 25 situations in the fourth quarter and down by 4 with time running out when you aren't a good passer: Like most of the good starting quarterbacks in this situation, you do what they do most of the time - Fail.
Maybe the question they should be pondering before they ask it again is how often is any quarterback in this situation? Is there a realistic expectation for any quarterback to succeed in this scenario? I don't think so.
Please find me a fantasy football economist willing to track in the last 10 years the number of quarterbacks that have missed time due to an injury suffered in the pocket or act of passing versus breaking the pocket and running the ball by design? I have a feeling we'd learn that the majority of injuries come from the pocket. And if they don't, I'd like to know how many of them are built like fullbacks. Most of the running quarterbacks I've seen in this league were built like wide receivers. And the bigger ones seemed to get hurt taking crazy shots in the act of throwing.
I bet this fear that you can't take the punishment as a runner is rooted in the same ignorance that some people have about flying when driving is actually far more dangerous.
Most of all please bring John Elway a division title, a divisional playoff win, and a 90-yard game-winning drive in a conference championship. Earnest Byner, Bernie Kosar, and I have been waiting 25 years for football karma to kick in.
Fantasy Football Wish List
Please keep Marshawn Lynch out of dumb trouble this offseason, he's way too good to back slide now. He might have the three best individual runs of the past 12 months. Although I'm sure he hopes he has a long way until his career is over, he can walk away from the game today and be proud of what he did to Ray Lewis a few weeks ago. Badass.
You, Arian Foster, and Ricky Williams in the wishbone - we could call you guys the preacher, the philosopher, and the yogi. Cam Newton will be the quarterback.
Find an athletic trainer for the Raiders with an understanding about the human foot (keep your day job Rex). It cannot be a coincidence that Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, and Chaz Schilens all have foot injuries, can it? The Raiders need to be good if you're going to force Elway and company to keep you. The good versus evil drama will be too much fun to resist.
Please make it abundantly clear for fantasy owners which players will be benched in the final weeks of the season so they can field suitable teams that don't lose due to something as bad as pre-playoff game rest. I don't need another round of annual sob story tomes from some of my long-suffering readers.
If you have any pull with Mother Nature, can you keep winds below 30 mph for my buddy Sigmund Bloom? Nothing worries him more than a large gust and a heavy downpour in December.
Deep Dynasty-IDP-Below the Radar Wish List
Please give equal doses of sense to at least one NFL organization and Kansas City Command quarterback Nate Davis. The former Ball State quarterback could be every bit as good as Matt Stafford and Cam Newton. His improvisational skills are off the charts good. He has the arm and natural accuracy of a Pro Bowl passer and feels the pocket nearly as well as Tony Romo. However work ethic and patience don't seem to be in strong supply with Davis and the NFL, respectively. We need more good quarterbacks, and when this third-year pro can make the ultra-critical Chris Collinsworth gush on national television, you know there's something special that just needs to be tapped.
Please give Jonathan Dwyer a nutritionist because if he can stay away from Primanti's he flashed enough talent to develop into a viable starting running back somewhere.
How about keeping defensive ends Brandon Graham and Corey Wootton some healthy wheels? These two players have skills to develop into terrific pass rushers. Graham's has a chance to be like Robert Mathis and Wootton is a mammoth with good athleticism. I gave up on Justin Tuck and Cliff Avril too early, FF Santa, and I need some dynasty redemption.
If you don't mind, Matt Ryan needs some blinders to pressure or hypnotherapy so he's less sensitive to it. On the other hand, Blaine Gabbert needs a pair of those blinders, Tony Robbins, and the Wizard of Oz to give him courage.
Here's a much easier one for you. Give coaches a clue that running backs Joique Bell and Chad Spann have committee level NFL talent, at least. I think they'll do a lot to help you give them that clue. In fact, Bell and Spann just need a couple of weeks in a starting lineup to prove it.
Most of all, give Giants safety Chad Jones that extra determination he needs to continue back from a horrific leg injury that nearly cost him the ability to walk. Now he's running 40s and could possibly be in New York's training camp this summer. When Jones was healthy, I thought he had the raw ability to develop into a player with the skills of former LSU teammate LaRon Landry. Think Kam Chancellor with better skills in the passing game. I have a gut feeling we're going to see Jones succeed.
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