Returning Josh Lambo to the Dealership
*Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring.*
C'mon, c'mon, pick up, dagnabbit...
"I see the way he works, I see the way he hits it. I've stuck with kickers before and it's been great dividends, so as of now we're going to stick with him."
After an 0-for-3 start to the year, Urban Meyer talked some of Josh Lambo's struggles on Monday.https://t.co/nv4FS8rMZo
— John Shipley (@_John_Shipley) September 21, 2021
*Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring.*
Boo birds are out for Josh Lambo, who has now missed BOTH of his last two PATs. The party is over at kicker, y'all.
— John Shipley (@_John_Shipley) September 26, 2021
*Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring.*
12.#Jaguars HC Urban Meyer on K Josh Lambo: "He's the hardest working specialist I've ever had, but it's also a reality we're now missing extra points. I'm not sure what we're going to do, but I'm like everybody, I want to see him make it because he works so damn hard on it. … "
— John Oehser (@JohnOehser) September 27, 2021
*Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring.*
Good morning, Lamborghini Jacksonville, how can I help you today?
Yeah, uh, hi, good morning. I'm calling again because I'm still having some problems with my Lambo? I've called twice this season ... er ... year already, and it's still not quite working to my satisfaction.
I'm very sorry to hear that; can I have your name?
Uh, let's just, uh, let's just call me Urban for now.
Ah, Mr. Meyer, yes, I can see your call history here. Can you explain the issue for us one more time?
Yeah, uh, I think my Lambo's experiencing some alignment problems. I've taken it out 10 times already this month, and half the time I find it veering off wildly to the left or the right. It's getting really frustrating as I can't seem to get it to stay through the uprights … err, I mean, in my lane. It's getting dangerous!
Mr. Meyer, you were warned about this when you called us last week. A Lambo is a precision automobile; you can't keep sending it out for long drives and expect perfect performance…
No, no, that's just it. I know that nothing long has worked so far, and I'm getting away from that. The last couple of weeks, I sent my Lambo out for 55-, 48-, and 52-yard tries, and none of them worked out. I mean, that's disappointing for something I'm paying $4.4 million for, but things happen, I know. I didn't do any of that this week! I mean, admittedly, I didn't have a chance to, so it was more out of random circumstance than any newfound wisdom on my part, but we're not here to talk about me.
So anyway, on Sunday, I had some friends from Arizona over, and I wanted to show off a little. To be on the safe side, I only called for my Lambo after already doing some impressive things; I was just trying to earn a few extra points after seeing them fail with their Prater…
Yeah, I think it's, uh, German or something. Big engine, though apparently not as big as Kliff thought! Ha-ha, yeah. Good times.
Anyway, I bring out Lambo, right? Just for the icing on the cake. And whoop! Straight off to the left. And then it happened again two drives later. It's just incredibly frustrating, after everything else was finally working properly, to be let down by your kicker … er...supercar. I mean, I have enough problems without worrying about my Lambo, you know? Lord, I have enough problems. Sometimes I regret coming out here to Jacksonville at all; I hear Los Angeles is nice this time of year…
I don't know about that; I've heard that drivers in Los Angeles have been reporting problems with their Vizcainos.
I believe they're Spanish, sir.
You know, you're stretching the whole premise of the bit we're doing right now.
Anyway, I'm at my wits end. I look up at the end of the day, and my Lambo has earned me -9 points … er, on my driver's license. Add in the -3 points from last week and it's clear that I have to do something, and quickly. I mean, sure, it didn't matter this week—like I said, Lord, I have enough problems—but it's conceivable that one day, I'll be in a critical situation, and I'll need to rely on my Lambo; an alignment problem there could leave me with a loss … as to what to do next. Do you have any suggestions or advice?
Well, Mr. Meyer, this is sadly a reality when dealing with precision instruments like this. It might not even be an issue with alignment at all; this could easily be a deeper problem.
But I haven't had any problems with my Lambo before! We picked it up second-hand in 2017, and until now, it has been near-perfect. Here in Jacksonville, he had attempted 46 field goals between 2017 and 2020, and had made every single one of them. Even with a few misses on the road, he made 95% of his field goals, better than anyone with at least five kicks over those four years!
He was 34-for-37 on extra points, too! Not perfect, but more than reliable enough for our purposes. And now, I can't count on him for anything! I mean, I once said that I had yet to be in a game where luck was involved; apparently, all those lucky games are here in the big leagues. When I played against Alabama…
Sir, I must ask you to calm down and remember the metaphor we're using, or I will terminate this column early.
Thank you. This is sadly all too common with these hyper-performance cars. There's nothing physically wrong with your Lambo; it's a case of the yips, a lack of confidence, a complete collapse of the mental part of performance. Sometimes, this is a permanent problem—all the Walshes were recalled years ago. But not always. Sometimes, it just takes some time off to reboot the system and return to the original level of performance. Our advice would be to return the Lambo to the dealership and get something new to see you out the rest of the year. With some rest and recalibration, your Lambo may be able to find a new home somewhere and return to performing at the highest level.
But I have a road trip scheduled for this Thursday! I'm supposed to be heading up to Cincinnati! What am I supposed to do now?
Well, sir, in that case, I'd stick with your Lambo for one more week, and then replace it upon your return. Drive safely now.
Well, thank you anyway. By the way, uh, you don't happen to know the fastest way out of Jacksonville, do you? Just for, y'know, future reference…
Week 3's Biggest Losers
Worst of the Worst
In Week 2, Zach Wilson and Justin Fields shared the honors as worst passers of the week. Well, seven days can make a massive difference as THIS week, it was, er, Justin Fields and Zach Wilson sharing the honors as worst passers of the week. Ah, but in Week 2, they scored 4 points, whereas in Week 3, they scored, um, 4 points.
Seriously, what the hell?
For Wilson, it was more of the same as it had been against New England—a tough defense causing him to have a nightmare of a day. This time, it was Vic Fangio's men taking turns using Wilson as a tackling dummy as the Jets so-called offensive line allowed him to be sacked five times. Again, handling pressure is on the quarterback, but it would behoove the Jets to try to give Wilson a little less pressure to handle. Wilson didn't play quite as bad as his stat line would have you believe; dropped passes really started to add up. But at the same time, his stat line looked utterly terrible, so there's only so much improvement you can actually acknowledge there. Wilson's schedule finally lightens up a bit with the Titans this week, so we can finally start seeing if the last couple of matchups have left any permanent scars on his psyche.
As for Fields, he's not ready. Or, at least, not ready to play in an offense that makes him drop back 30 times without any sort of creative play calling; Matt Nagy left Fields out to dry. The Bears have existed for over 100 years; the nine sacks they allowed against Cleveland was a franchise record. They had 1 net passing yard, the fewest in an NFL game since 2009. Fields had more sacks than completions, the first time that has happened for someone with at least 20 attempts since David Carr was made part of the Reliant Stadium turf by his offensive line in 2002. And to make matters worse, Nagy claimed Fields had a hand injury at the end of the game (though Fields claims he's fine). I don't want to make it sound like it was all the offensive line or Nagy's play calling—Fields needs to learn to get rid of the dang ball when someone like Myles Garrett is about to clobber him—but using a quarterback like Fields without taking any advantage of his mobility is coaching malpractice of the highest order. We don't know who's going to start for the Bears in Week 4 against the Lions, but you should feel safe starting Fields, Andy Dalton, or Nick Foles as appropriate.
MYLES GARRETT. 4.5 SACKS.
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2021
Other Loser Leaders
Another week, another appearance for Trevor Lawrence (8). Unlike Fields or Wilson, Lawrence did generate some highlights worth remembering on Sunday—check out his touchdown pass to DJ Chark in the corner of the end zone and dream about what might be, someday. Some day is not today, however; Lawrence had yet another multi-interception day. He's tied with Wilson as your league leader with seven interceptions; no one threw more than 15 last year. You'd expect things to get better, but if not, well, both rookies are on pace for 40 interceptions this year thanks to the new 17-game schedule. That has never been done in the NFL, though George Blanda had 42 for the AFL's Houston Oilers back in 1962. It's far too early to really begin Record Watch there, but Peyton Manning's rookie record of 28 may well be in play. We'll check back in a couple of weeks to see how that's going.
We'd also like to welcome Carson Wentz (9) to the Loser League Leaderboards. It turns out that working with two sprained ankles doesn't exactly help one's quarterback play. Wentz was hit 10 times, which is impressive considering he was throwing the ball away every time a Titans defender so much looked his way. He didn't even have any turnovers to tank his score; he just failed to hit 200 yards passing on a day when he was clearly nowhere near healthy. The Colts likely would have been better off starting Brett Hundley—or, for that matter, Jacoby Brissett, if we can rewind time and undo the decision to trade Wentz to the Colts in the first place.
Baker Mayfield (19) had his toughest matchup of the season to date against a Bears defense that had generated four turnovers the week before in Cincinnati. Plus, Mayfield was nursing a shoulder injury suffered against Houston, meaning that his run-heavy offense would be even more run-heavy in Chicago, right? Well, Mayfield didn't exactly shatter any records, but 246 passing yards, a touchdown toss, and 31 more yards on the ground pushed him past the penalty. It could have been worse as Mayfield missed some passes he normally makes, but he also went his first game this year without throwing an interception.
Worst of the Worst
To the AFC East we go, where a pair of running backs had 2-point days.
We said before the season that the Buffalo running back situation was worth watching for Loser League purposes, as a true committee in a pass-happy offense was prime for some just-past-the-penalty days. And so it turned out this week, where Devin Singletary's 26 yards on 11 carries against Washington led the way. After two weeks where Singletary dominated the workload in the backfield, Week 3 saw Buffalo go to a true committee approach. Guess which back won't score in a given week, and you have yourself a Loser League pick.
Nothing quite so rosey for Michael Carter. A week after being New York's most intriguing skill position player (damning with faint praise, I grant you), Carter got the start for the sick Tevin Coleman and proceeded to do not much of note, with just nine carries for 24 yards. The Jets got down early and quickly against Denver, so there wasn't a lot of time to mess around with the running game; Carter got his last carry on the first play of the fourth quarter as the Jets ended their day with 13 consecutive pass attempts. One day, the Jets will have an easier matchup, and Carter might be a real play in regular fantasy football. Until then, any and all Jets are Loser League fodder.
Dre'Mont Jones almost beats Michael Carter to the ball. pic.twitter.com/hvbQRCykC4
— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 26, 2021
Other Loser Leaders
The Jaguars had a touchdown drive composed of eight consecutive runs; it was one of the highlights of their day. Those highlights notably do not include Carlos Hyde (4), who had 44 yards on eight carries against Arizona, compared to James Robinson's 134 yards on 21 touches. At least Hyde had fewer touches than Robinson, which indicates Jacksonville is learning a little bit—remember, Hyde out-touched Robinson back in Week 1 against Houston. Hyde is not a safe week-to-week pick, but will probably be a regular feature in this section when he does manage to get past the penalty. You know, in all those games where the Jaguars are running out the clock in the fourth quarter.
A number of running backs earned five points, most notably Kenyan Drake. Why is he most notable? Because I had him on a number of my bloody DraftKings leagues as an emergency replacement with Elijah Mitchell and Darrell Henderson not playing. Drake was benched for Peyton Barber on third downs because he missed a blocking assignment. I continue to not understand the Raiders; if you would have told me Barber would be out-touching Drake with Josh Jacobs out, I would have called you crazy. But then, that may be the main requirement to be the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. That leaves just David Montgomery as your other five-point scorer in a solid week for running backs as a whole; he got caught up in the Chicago disaster.
James Conner (17) was your loser-league leading scorer through two weeks, being completely cut out of Arizona's passing game and routinely being stuffed at the line as a runner. I said I'd ride with him until he showed he could do literally anything in Kliff Kingsbury's offense. Well, consider the ride at least partially over as Conner scored two touchdowns against Jacksonville, both coming inside the 5-yard line. He still hasn't topped 60 yards this season, but you just can't survive two touchdowns in this contest. Conner is still probably an OK pick most weeks, but those goal-line opportunities should give you at least a little pause.
Worst of the Worst
A new trio of Goose Eggers this week, although we're seeing a trend—through three weeks, only one player, Marquez Valdes-Scantling in Week 2, has had three targets and no receptions for a pure zero points; it is apparently a dying breed with our new cutoffs. All three of our zero-pointers this week—Darnell Mooney, Parris Campbell, and Adam Humphries had at least one reception, and came so close to getting a point on the board, with between 7 and 9 yards for all three. Last time I checked, however, 7 and 9 were both less than 10, and so we round down to zero.
At least Mooney drew a defensive pass interference call, Chicago's biggest play of the day. The other two did nada. Mooney and Humphries were two of our top picks for you last week; Campbell would have joined them if we were positive he was going to get the start. No surprises here this week.
Other Loser Leaders
Both Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney scored one point for the Giants, and the one made way for the other—Shepard went out with a hamstring injury early, which allowed Toney to come in and actually play, which is a shocking change of status for the, erm, first-round pick. Together, the two New York receivers would have rounded up to three points, which perhaps isn't surprising considering Joe Judge is not aware that you can score points by moving the ball over the goal line on offense. With Shepard and Darius Slayton both probably out next week, Toney has to get more run against the Saints … right?
Kadarius Toney first catch as a New York Giant and makes a man MISS! pic.twitter.com/NaA64XPVKg
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) September 26, 2021
Nelson Agholor and Scott Miller round out your one-point scorers.
Emmanuel Sanders (21) was coming off of five- and four-point days coming into Week 3, so maybe you were tempted to slot the Buffalo receiver into your lineup. Well, that probably didn't work out so well. Five receptions for 94 yards and two scores welcomes Sanders to fantasy relevancy for 2021; it was only a matter of time before his heavy target numbers translated into receptions and touchdowns and points. Sanders also earned the NFLPA Community MVP award this week for his work addressing child hunger and healthy living. Nice to see at least one Buffalo receiver caring about the health of his community!
Worst of the Worst
We covered Josh Lambo (-9) above. As of press time, Lambo is still a Jaguar. That could change at literally any moment, however, so keep your eyes peeled.
Other Loser Leaders
We briefly mentioned Tristan Vizcaino (-6) above as well—just like Lambo, he missed two extra points, but at least he had a field goal to make up for it and avoid getting slammed repeatedly in the Worst of the Worst section. Still, whoops!
The over/under in the Chiefs vs. Chargers game was 54.5.
This missed extra point from Tristan Vizcaino kept the total at 54 pic.twitter.com/4djbzWuknD
— Pickswise (@Pickswise) September 26, 2021
Not to be outdone, Joey Slye (-2) missed an extra point on Thursday, but you probably forgot all about it thanks to Lambo and Vizcaino up there. What's a guy gotta do to get some attention in Houston, anyway!
Aldrick Rosas, Greg Zuerlein, and Matt Ammendola both scored zero points, with Rosas missing a pair of field goals, Zuerlein missing an extra point, and Ammendola never having to get off the bench for the hapless Jets.
Chase McLaughlin (14) got the worst of both worlds for a Loser League player—a defense that kept giving his team short fields, and an offense that wasn't the most efficient at finishing off those drives. It's not that they were all gimmes—McLaughlin earned his points with 52- and 57-yard field goals to go along with a pair of shorter ones—but if the Browns could have turned some of those drives into touchdowns, McLaughlin would be sitting much prettier with six points or so and in the middle of the pack. Not great for any of you Chasing a player who had just one field goal attempt in the first two weeks, sorry not sorry.
Week 3 Contest Results
Our first two weeks saw a staff member and a comment section veteran take home the top spots. This week, we're breaking in some new blood, so let's give three cheers for the newbie. Hip hip, Jooray!
Jooray clocked in with 11 points, taking the crown and this week's prize of a Football Outsiders shirt and a signed copy of Football Outsiders Almanac 2021. Like last week's winner, Jooray trusted his team to the comforting hands of Zach Wilson at quarterback, pairing him in a stack with Elijah Moore to earn just six points from the Jets. Rounding out his roster were all players listed in the Other Loser Leaders section up above—Devin Singletary, Carlos Hyde, Nelson Agholor, and Joey Slye. There's an impressive level of strategic variance there. Half of Jooray's starting lineup came from terrible teams expected to do nothing, but picking a Buffalo running back and a Patriots wide receiver shows an attention to detail which could see him go far; he's hovering just outside the top 30 in our overall standings at the moment, positioned quite well going forward.
Your top five for Week 3:
1. Jooray (11)
T2. Stmedard (13)
T2. TheFriar (13)
T2. Swift0712 (13)
5. Carolina (15)
As for the overall standings, Aaron Schatz has been dethroned, at least for now. He remains in the top five, but had some struggles at his skill positions, forced to go with Melvin Gordon's 14 points at running back and either Kendrick Bourne or Amon-Ra St. Brown's 15 at wide receiver. That gave Awfinkelstein the chance he needed to slip past him into first place through three weeks! Awfinkelstein was one of many to take advantage of Josh Lambo's -9-point day, wiping out his poorest pick of Jakobi Meyers. Zach Wilson, Darnell Mooney, David Montgomery, and Sony Michel carried him the rest of the way to a 16-point week, good for sixth-best in Week 3. That won't cut it for a weekly prize, but it gives him a two-point lead on the overall field through three weeks.
Your current top five:
1. Awfinkelstein (74)
2. DK13 (76)
T3. Judell500 (77)
T3. JHParker (77)
5. Aaron Schatz Has a Posse (78)
In case you're wondering, Aaron isn't the only staff member doing well. Andrew Potter and Ian O'Connor each have 108 points, tied in 66th place, and you'll find former Scrambler Extraordinaire Al Bogdan just behind them with 110 points. The rest of us … well, there's honor in participating, don't you know.
You can check your results and the rest of the Loserboard here!
Plays for Week 4
With the way rookie quarterbacks are playing so far, it seems like good value to just keep going with the inexperienced starters early and often until they prove they can hang at the professional level. We'll find out more about Zach Wilson this week—after two games in a row against defensive gurus Bill Belichick and Vic Fangio, the Jets get to take on the Titans, who are near the bottom of all of our defensive metrics. If you still believe in Wilson's potential, maybe you should go somewhere else. I'm not entirely sure I do believe in him, however, and with how shell-shocked he looked by the end of the Denver game, it'll take a lot to get me off of Wilson as a week-in, week-out option. You have to fear his confidence being shattered as he has been left out to dry for two weeks straight.
Davis Mills performed better than expected against the Panthers—his 12 points weren't bad, by any means, but it was only sixth-best among quarterbacks. David Culley says he's going to open up the offense for Houston this week against Buffalo, which I suppose could mean good things—or it could mean turnovers as Mills tries to force passes against Buffalo's defense. His saving grace against Carolina was holding on to the football. I imagine Buffalo will double Brandin Cooks all day and force Mills to make some ill-advised decisions, which could be gold for your team.
Other promising picks: Trevor Lawrence (@CIN), Mac Jones (v. TB)
I keep suggesting Damien Harris, and I keep getting burned. Two weeks ago, he scored a touchdown and ruined an otherwise fine Loser League day. Last week, he only had six carries as the Patriots turned to Brandon Bolden as their lead back. The reason? Harris was having a nightmare day in pass protection. The Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan had Harris with allowing a sack against New Orleans, and two pressures on seven pass blocking snaps to this point. That seems losery to me, but you don't get points for that, frustratingly. With James White out for the foreseeable future, more snaps are available in the Patriots' backfield, so what the hell—we're tripling down on Harris and hoping for different results.
The world got to see the Texans' offense in primetime on Thursday, and Houston showed just how questionable a running game led by Mark Ingram can be in 2021. Ingram was not a good pick in Week 3 as he had just six rushes and hit the penalty, but those six rushes were so ineffective (just 21 yards!) and Houston's depth is so non-existent that I have to keep riding Ingram going forward. I'm guessing that Culley and the Texans will spend more time trying to establish the run against Buffalo to take some of the pressure off of Mills. I keep promoting players right on the eight-carry penalty line, but you have to take a few risks to get a week-low score, and Ingram has shown he has the lack of explosion and the poor vision to lead a Loser League team if given the opportunities.
I'm rounding out the main picks with Latavius Murray, who has a nasty matchup against the Broncos this week. That's right, I'm going with three players who hit the penalty last week, if only just. Murray seems to be the lead back in the Baltimore backfield at the moment, passing Ty'Son Williams with his plodding forward momentum. I'm not going to pretend to understand this as Williams has been the better player when put into the lineup, but I am going to use it to my advantage here in the Loser League. The Broncos have yet to let anyone top 50 yards rushing this year, with Saquon Barkley, James Robinson, and Michael Carter all coming up empty. A Ravens back is likely to join them; the trouble is figuring out which one gets the most work. Murray is my bet.
Other promising picks: James Conner (@LAR), Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones (@NE)—monitor that Tampa Bay backfield with Giovani Bernard hurt!
Give me the Bears! Current Bears, former Bears, any kind of Bears; just let me load up my Loser League lineup with the powerhouse that earned 1 offensive yard last week!
I'm running both Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson in my lineup for Chicago against Detroit. Mooney is a regular pick here, having earned 2, 6, and 0 points the past three weeks, all while easily going over the three-target minimum. Robinson is, well, not; he's generally considered one of the best receivers in football, albeit one dragged down by his quarterback for basically his entire career. Well, so far, Robinson has had Loser League scores of 3, 8, and 2. That's not that much better than Mooney, and Robinson's supposed to be WR1! Robinson only has 10 catches on 21 targets, and now might have to watch Nick Foles throwing him passes if Justin Fields' hand acts up. At some point, Robinson is going to have to produce, even despite his quarterback play, or he's going to be a safe pick in Loser League contests—lots of volume for very little results.
Anthony Miller isn't in Chicago any more, but he's still performing at Bears-like levels in Houston, so he gets an honorary Ditka patch for this week. A touchdown against Carolina hurt his Loser League value in his debut last week, but four catches for 20 yards is exactly the sort of stat line you want from your Loser League staples. Really, though, I'm just tripling down on Houston for as long as Davis Mills is in the starting lineup.
Other promising picks: Laviska Shenault (@CIN), Zach Pascal (@MIA), Jamison Crowder (v. TEN)
I see no reason to get off of the picks I made last week. If Josh Lambo is, indeed, the kicker on Thursday night, you have to go with him; he has yet to make a field goal all year! The Jaguars have brought in competition for him, and Lambo was listed on Tuesday's injury report with a personal day—I presume doing whatever he needs to do to try to get his head screwed on straight. I don't think he'll get everything straightened out by Thursday.
And until the Jets prove they have an offense worth writing any words about whatsoever, I'm sticking with Matt Ammendola in my other kicker slot. You have to move the ball into field goal range to attempt field goals, or so I am told by experts.
Other promising picks: Jake Elliott (v. KC), Ka'imi Fairbairn (@BUF)