We look back at Atlanta's worst games this year to see what weaknesses New England might exploit. Those weaknesses include pretty much everyone on defense, but is there a secret to stopping the Falcons offense?
by Jason Beattie
What's the Loser League? It's our anti-fantasy league where the goal is to pick the worst players. The rules are summarized here, but 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.
When we last left the Loser League, Ian had a narrow lead heading into Week 17. Could he hold on? Would Jay win an unprecedented fourth week in a row? Would I make a strategical math error to give myself the lead? All you Loser League fans have been nervously waiting for the resolution to these important questions, and finally the wait is over! The answers are: Yes, no and no.
Yep, Ian takes the Loser Crown this year. Led by everyone's favorite clunky, immobile AFC East QB, Drew Bledsoe, Ian's team scored just 36 points in the final week to roll to victory.
(The scoring system was explained back when we introduced the Loser League.)
Here are the guys who put on some high-quality poor performances in Weeks 9-17:
QB: Drew Bledsoe, BUF. In the season's second half, Drew threw 4 picks, lost 6 fumbles, and only threw for over 200 yards once (against the lowly Giants).
RB: Jerome Bettis, PIT. The Bus resumed Loser stud status upon regaining his starting role. Averaged only 6 fantasy points in six games drafted.
RB: Marcel Shipp, ARI. Someone had to pick up Emmitt's torch. Had four consecutive games with 6 fantasy points or fewer.
WR: Jerry Rice, OAK. Actually had solid Loser numbers all year. We just didn't catch on until recently.
WR: Tim Brown, OAK. Only caught more than his age in yards (37) twice in the final eight weeks.
K: Neil Rackers, ARI. Hail the return of Rackers, and to the hapless Cards at that! Averaged just over 4 points a game for the last seven contests.
While there were plenty of crappy players in 2003, these were the ones who were the biggest boost to our Loser League squads:
QB: Kurt Kittner, ATL. With a 32.5 QB rating, Kurt edges out teammate Doug Johnson. Loser League thinks Vick returned way too soon.
RB: Curtis Martin, NYJ. Drafted every week, yet never pulled penalty and only scored two touchdowns. Thanks, LaMont Jordan!
RB: Troy Hambrick, DAL. Second only to Curtis. Totaled three or fewer fantasy points on six separate occasions.
WR: Dez White, CHI. Averaged a paltry six fantasy points in nine weeks drafted.
WR: Peerless Price, ATL. A benefactor of Kurt Kittner's stellar stats, Peerless was drafted eight times this year.
K: Seth Marler, JAC. Made only 60% on field goals all season, but somehow managed to keep his job.
Jason 18 pts. Week 3
Ian 21 pts. Week 1
Jay 36 pts. week 16
Ian 36 pts. Week 17
I'm proud to have recorded the lowest weekly score. This team was highlighted by Doug Johnson's -2 points (95 yards passing and 3 interceptions) and Cedrick Wilson's 1 point (two catches for 12 big yards). Also included: William Green (4), Amos Zereoue (8), Peerless Price (4), and Seth Marler (3).
Then again, I also recorded the highest weekly score...
Jason 100 pts. Week 5
Pat 91 pts. Week 13
Jason 85 pts. Week 2
Pat 85 pts. Week 5
So I have the dubious honor of being the only player to ever crack triple digits in a week. Let's just say an injured Emmitt Smith and a very annoying kicker penalty were involved. And since recording six player penalties would total a score of 90, Pat and I are the only two people who would have lost to a blind, drunken monkey selecting players by throwing darts at a list of deceased and/or XFL players.
Sometimes a player has such an awful performance, it becomes the stuff of Loser legends. This year's most notable days included:
|QB: Tim Hasselbeck||-6 pts.||Week 15||26-56 pass, 4 INT||Tim is no Matt.|
|RB: Amos Zereoue||1 pt.||Week 6||10-15 rush||Say hello to the bench, Amos.|
|RB: Eddie George||2 pts.||Week 4||11-21 rush||
A veritable who's who of top
|RB: Jerome Bettis||2 pts.||Week 8||12-42 rush, fumble|
|RB: Troy Hambrick||2 pts.||Week 12||12-26 rush|
|RB: Tiki Barber||2 pts.||Week 13||12-20 rush|
|WR: Todd Pinkston||0 pts.||Week 1||2-7 rec.||Philly fans boo.|
|WR: Az-Zahir Hakim||0 pts.||Week 16||2-9 rec.||Hey, at least it was two more yards than ToddÃ¢â‚¬Â¦|
|K: Billy Cundiff||-6 pts.||Week 1||0-1 FG, 1-2 XP||How 'bout them Cowboys?|
Hasselbeck and Cundiff are now tied for the all-time lowest weekly Loser score. Their mothers must be so proud!
|QB: Doug Flutie||33 pts.||Week 10||29-248 pass, 2 pass TD,
6-18 rush, 2 rush TD
|Flutie thawed out against Vikings.
Put back in freezer for the rest of the year.
|RB: Lee Suggs||30 pts.||Week 17||26-186 rush, 2 TD||Who is Lee Suggs??|
|RB: T.J. Duckett||30 pts.||Week 10||7-33 rush, 2 TD, penalty||2 TD in seven tries? Ugh, I need a drink.|
|WR: Chris Chambers||27 pts.||Week 13||5-96 rec., 3 TD||Chambers tears the Dallas D a new one.|
|WR: Peerless Price||22 pts.||Week 5||12-168 rec., TD||Even a Loser MVP has the occasional off dayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦|
|WR: Andre Johnson||22 pts.||Week 3||7-102 rec., 2 TD||Andre does his best Anquan Boldin impression, at least for one day.|
|K: Billy Cundiff||21 pts.||Week 2||7-8 FG, 2-2 XP||Insane 27 point upswing from his previous week's effort.|
Well that about does it for the Loser League 2003. Here's to a healthy off-season to Curtis Martin, Neil Rackers and the whole Loser League gang! See ya again in the 2004 season.
Questions? Comments? Love letters? Idle threats? Send your feedback to me at jason-at-footballoutsiders.com