After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?
by Jason Beattie
What's the Loser League? It's our anti-fantasy league where the goal is to pick the worst players. Here are the basics: We re-draft each week and the goal is to score the fewest points possible. But you can't take backups, because you get hit with a 15 point penalty for not having enough attempts (2 for WR, 10 for RB and QB). There's a delicate balance between picking that running back who gets 45 yards on 12 carries and that running back who gets 30 yards on 9 carries with a dreaded touchdown. The cast includes Outsiders Jason, Aaron, Ian, and Pat, along with our buddy Jay.
After eight weeks, here's how we stand in the Outsiders Loser League:
Amazingly, less than 100 total points separate the five of us. It's still anyone's game!
(As a refresher, we're aiming for the fewest total points scored. MDSS awards 5 points to each week's winner, on down to 1 point to fifth place...Just wanted to make it absolutely crystal clear that I'm currently in the lead.)
First half MVP honors go to the Jets' Curtis Martin, one of only two players to be drafted every week his team played. Mr. Martin has not disappointed, averaging only 7 fantasy points a game, he's never pulled a penalty, and has the most rushing attempts in the NFL without scoring a touchdown. Thanks, Lamont Jordan! We expect more of the same from Curtis in the second half.
Runner-up is a tie between Eddie George and Troy Hambrick. Both were drafted 6 times, averaging fewer than 10 points a game. George's 2.9 yards per carry ensures mediocre totals each week. The only concern is that unlike Martin, he makes an occasional visit to the end zone. Hambrick's 3.2 yards a carry is not much better, and he's only cracked the century mark once.
It's hard to be a Loser MVP as a receiver, but Dez White is making a run at it. He's averaged 3 fantasy points a game in four selections, and just over 4 points a game in seven weeks of play. I hope he's not on your regular fantasy roster.
Oh poor Emmitt Smith! You were doing such a great job as a Loser. Why'd ya have to go and bust up your shoulder? And Stacey Mack, you were just too bad to keep starting weren't you? Kordell, please take a seat on the pine. Hey J.J. Stokes, did you enjoy the first four weeks before Jimmy Smith returned? Because I've enjoyed your one catch in the last four weeks. Owen Pochman and Jef Chandler both fired by the Niners already? How long 'til they sign Neil Rackers? (PLEASE sign Neil Rackers!)
Without mentioning over-ratedness, media hype or absolutely anything to do with anyone's addictions to pain-killers, how about that Donovan McNabb? He's averaged just 7 fantasy points a game thus far, scored no more than 12 points, and would have been a better draft pick than 25 of our 35 actual picks. He was drafted for the first time (by me), in Week 8. I think the secret is out now.
All of us have favorite players we draft, but this is a bit ridiculous: Jay has drafted Cincinnati kicker Shayne Graham every week the Bengals have played except one...Ian spoiled the streak for him by taking Graham in Week 7.
Nobody tell Pat, but in the past three weeks he's picked Keyshawn Johnson, who has recorded 14 points, then 15 points, then 21 points. Maybe Pat just wants to see how high Keyshawn will climb.
Which team has had the most players drafted in our league? Why the Arizona Cardinals of course! They had 17 players selected as Losers, which makes sense since they're pretty much lousy across the board. Tied for second with 16 each are the Bengals and the Texans. So who had the fewest? It's a four-way tie between the Chiefs, Dolphins, Broncos and Packers. Denver wins the arbitrary tie-breaker I just made up, as they were the last team to have a Loser drafted, Danny Kanell, who joined the party in Week 8. What does this all mean? I have no idea. But hey, if you wanted cutting-edge analysis, you'd be reading a different column by now, wouldn't ya?
In future weeks, the Loser League Update will be moving! Look for it at the end of the Scramble for the Ball column. Believe me, it's not a pretty sight to be behind Ian and Al (but on the other hand that might be a good place for losers).
Questions? Comments? Love letters? Idle threats? Send your feedback to me at jason at footballoutsiders.com