Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» 2017 Adjusted Games Lost

Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

Scramble for the Ball: Losers are Winners

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

The End of the Beginning

Tom: So, Mike, I don't know about you.

Mike: Damn right you don't! You're not my real dad!

Tom: But between the Austin Collie hit, the hit earlier in the drive that went unflagged, the Collins hit on Roy Williams, Cam Newton's actual and alleged transgressions, and watching the Houston Texans pass defense, I'm not sure how much more of this I can take.

Mike: Er, how much of what?

Tom: Good question. By which I mean my usual definition of one to which I do not know the answer.

Mike: Watch yourself, I'm going to start demanding fabulous prizes.

Tom: Speaking of ... did you know first half Loser League just finished? That fabulous prize will be going to Darab Zarrabi for his team CromartieAndKatePlus8. So, bully to him.

Mike: Hip hip hooray!


Tom: Let's talk about our first half Loser League MVPs. The great thing was, both our lowest scoring quarterback and the actual lowest scoring quarterback played for the same team! Yes, the Arizona Cardinals boasted both Max Hall's 83 points and Derek Anderson's 89. The two quarterbacks were so bad in the weeks they played that it made up for the weeks they pulled penalty because the other one played. Unfortunately, only Anderson was available for Part I of our contest, but good luck picking between the two of them for your second-half Loser League team.

Mike: Actually, you could just pick both of them.

Tom: That's actually not a half-bad strategy. Oh, the next-lowest scoring quarterback was another part-timer, in Trent Edwards. Your worst full-time starter in Loser League: Brett Lorenzo Favre!

Mike: Wait, his name is Lorenzo?

Tom: Didn't I talk about calling him Don Lorenzo in a column last year? His middle name is Lorenzo.

Mike: I don't actually have a joke for that. Set-up fail.

Running Backs

Tom: We come to the running backs. Your two best Loser League running backs the first half were Ronnie Brown, 75 points, and Ryan Mathews, 76 points -- as I well know, from having both on fantasy teams.

Mike: Your ideal loser running back is the lesser half of a mediocre tandem, as we can see.

Tom: Ryan Mathews, KUBIAK sleeper ... can we go back and erase that from the Staff Predictions article?

Mike: But the problem is that tandems are going to shift and possibly get broken up near the end of the season, as it becomes clear that things are going south.

Tom: I actually picked up the No. 3 first-half scorer, Marshawn Lynch, on one of my teams as a possible situational start back. Given the Seahawks' offensive line issues, he'll probably make a good Loser League back.

Mike: Yeah. Brown is similarly a strong second-half candidate, since he's clearly not going anywhere.

Tom: Ricky Williams was also among the top Loser League backs, so the Dolphins' approach is not working as it's been in years past.

Mike: Nothing is working out the way the Dolphins had hoped, which is pretty sad. They're a better team than they're getting credit for.

Tom: They're 4-4 and 15th in DVOA. Average isn't too much of a surprise. They just have the misfortune of being in the AFC, where they're 10th in DVOA and 11th in the playoff standings.

Mike: I acknowledge that and merely state that I think they've had a lot of bad breaks and generally been unlucky. I don't think the Patriots are appreciably better than the Dolphins, for instance, but that is not really on topic.

Tom: Have we ever stayed on topic? Anyway, the second half of the year seems to be where the random backs spring up, so I'd almost feel more comfortable with half of a tandem to go with two mediocre starters.

Wide Receivers

Tom: And now we come to one of the greatest wideout performances in recent history. The New York Jets had their bye in Week 7. And so, alas, Jerricho Cotchery put up 15 points because of the penalty. That amount was more than one-third of his points for the entire first half. Beyond that 15, he put up eight points in both Week 2 and Week 8. The rest of the time: 1, 2, 2, 4, 1, 2.

Mike: The hilarious part is that the Jets passing offense has improved so much. Cotchery is just ... not part of that.

Tom: They're 21st in pass offense DVOA. That's not gr -- yeah, it is much improved.

Mike: Indeed.

Tom: Next up, and almost as good, is Jordy Nelson, who put up 55 points, only 12 more, because he endured the bonus twice.

Mike: Jordy Nelson is not nearly as much fun to mock.

Tom: In the same class was Jason Avant's 57 points, again hitting the bonus twice. In this case, I suggest hitting the possession receivers on teams with deep threats. Or at least deeper threats. Jordan Shipley is a guy I might take a flier on, assuming he'll get more work as the season progresses. Danny Amendola finished with only 59 points, and he won't be the one catching all those deep passes the Rams don't throw. And, just so we don't have a monochrome receiving corps, Jabar Gaffney fits the same general profile.

Mike: I'm tempted to say Justin Gage now that Moss is in town, or is he not eligible?

Tom: Well, the latest depth chart has Randy Moss starting opposite Nate Washington. I think Gage opposite Moss is a better fit because Gage is better at the routes Moss doesn't run (like going over the middle), but I'm obviously not in charge in Nashville.

Mike: If you're going for a flyer, Hines Ward might be worth looking at. The Steelers pass offense seems to be in the process of imploding.

Tom: Do all Steelers fans hate their team, or is it just you? That said, Ward does have one and five points the last two weeks.

Mike: I am insulted that you would insinuate I would do anything but offer sound, objective advice in this column. Don't you take this process seriously? Are we not serious fantasy writers? I demand seppuku. Either that or cake, whichever is more convenient.

Tom: Will you serve as my second?

Mike: Depends on if we're going with the ritual suicide or the cake.

Tom: I have no cake mix.

Mike: In that case, certainly.

Tom: I have brownie mix, but I don't have everything I need to make them. And besides, we gave you brownies last year.

Mike: True, true.


Tom: Your Loser League team also needs a kicker. Since kickers aren't penalized for inactivity the same way position players are, we recommend a kicker from a bad team. Your first half winners were Rian Lindell's 46 points and John Kasay's 49. The Bills and Panthers are both likely to continue to be bad.

Mike: Although the Bills have made more offense-like noises recently, so I'd probably go with Kasay.

Tom: Fair enough. And just for the record, your anti-losing first-half Loser Leaguers: Philip Rivers, 195 points; Arian Foster, 184 points; Brad Smith, 147 points; and Rob Bironas, 81 points.

Mike: Bironas is the real surprise there.

Tom: Loser League kickers are weird.

Mike: It's true.

Tom: You actually wouldn't have been too terribly off with Bironas, as he put up a few scores in the mid-single digits. Anyway, just take the kicker on a horrible offense.

Mike: Pick your favorite! Mix and match!

Fantasy Update

Tom: Well, it was back to winning ways for The Fantasy Team I Care About, as I had the league's highest score and won by 22 points. I made a bad start/sit decision, figuring with Matt Moore in the lineup, Steve Smith, Esquire would get the ball, while Ronnie Brown had been eclipsed by Ricky Williams and the Ravens were a bad matchup. Brown had 15 points. Smith had 9 yards. Thankfully, my opponent started Jahvid Best and Michael Bush at RB instead of Peyton Hillis and Brandon Jackson.

Mike: I think the Hillis/Best equation has see-sawed to the other side now. Best has fallen off considerably.

Tom: Yes, well, there is that.

Mike: One interesting thing is the resolution of the earlier "Greg Jennings or Dwayne Bowe" question posed by myself and a few others. The answer seems to be "yes." This week, both outscored my RB2 (Matt Forte) and RB3 (Darren McFadden) by healthy margins in a non-PPR league.

Tom: I'm disappointed by the Chiefs' pretty good rushing defense this year. It's mostly the same players who were lousy last year in the front seven.

Mike: Some teams just get it together. Sometimes it's coaching, sometimes it's just a unit getting comfortable together.

Tom: Actually, if you look at the defensive line table, they're only 13th in Adjusted Line Yards, 19th in Power, and 31st in Stuffed. Power and Stuffed are roughly the same rank as last year (17/32), but they're allowing many fewer long runs and ALY was 32nd last year. Anyway, sorry to distract your fantasy recap with real football talk.

Mike: Real football? Heresy! My big drawback was actually kicker. Stephen Gostkowski was injured early on, so I only received one point, which stung. Then again, Baltimore's defense had a good game (16 points) and so did Rashard Mendenhall (18). I easily overcame my opponent by 22 points and we swapped places in the standings

Tom: Excellent. Where are you now?

Mike: Fourth, although with significantly fewer points than the teams in first and third spots.

Tom: And the top four make the playoffs, right?

Mike: Eight. I have not technically clinched yet, but my chances of missing the playoffs at this point is quite low.

Tom: Good.

Mike: The former worst team in the league is actually burning up the standings now. They've won three in a row (including against me), third in points and now sixth in standings, so that makes the loss a bit more palatable.

Tom: Our league is pretty tightly packed. I'm in first, ahead on a tiebreaker with the other 6-3 team, with three more teams at 5-4 and an additional trio at 4-5.

Mike: Really, the only spots in contention are 2-8 in our league. The first-place team has 171 more points than the second-place team by points, 1,190 over 1,019, and 241 more points and I have in fourth place. Although he's not invulnerable. He has one loss, to me in Week 6.

Tom: Too bad. That way he gets to avoid the inevitable ignominious fate of unbeaten teams. Like the 2007 Patriots and that team in my other fantasy league last season.

Mike: Mmm, self-knife twisting. I'm still stuck with all these quarterbacks, none of them stellar enough to trade. I guess I could try to get someone to speculate on Garrard.

Tom: Yeah, good luck with that one.

Mike: Hm, looking at Staff League, Team CBORG needs to pick up a QB. The list of available QBs makes my soul hurt: Sam Bradford, Derek Anderson, Seneca Wallace, Bruce Gradkowski, Colt McCoy.

Tom: I'll cut Matt Hasselbeck for you.

Mike: I'm probably going with Bradford because San Francisco's secondary is still a mess. I can't believe I bid $20 on Bradford, but can't afford other team to bid at last minute and leave me without QB.

Tom: I'm starting Ryan Fitzpatrick. And I bid more than $20 for him.

Mike: Exciting.

Tom: I'm not a big fan of this budgeting system, so it serves as a disincentive to make waiver wire moves. Especially if your attempted moves fail.

Mike: It's interesting, but there should be two waiver resolution dates per week.

Tom: It would be interesting, if there were enough transactions and it was transparent enough that you could have a decent market. And there were multiple waiver resolution dates, yes.

Mike: And it is more well-suited for a more active league, but in and of itself it's not a bad idea.

Tom: I still maintain it's part of Barnwell's plot to claim bragging rights for himself.

FO Staff League Update

Equipo del Jefe (Aaron, 6-3) 66 def. Team CBORG (Radar Men from the Moon, 2-7) 40

A decisive win for the Jefes (Los Jefes? Best not go there.), although by a surprisingly low margin. Carolina's industrial-grade offensive suckitude played a large part, with zero points from Steve Smith, Esq. A whopping four points from Marshawn Lynch didn't help. On the other hand, Aaron's bacon was largely saved by decent performances out of the Steelers DST and Willis McGahee (12 points each), after Matt Schaub failed to throw for a single touchdown in five trips to the red zone on Sunday (six points).

Phantic CodeBreakers (Tanier, 3-6) 76 def. Wagstaff's Ringers (Tom, 1-8) 51

And the hurting continues. Tanier pummeled Tom with great games from Matt Stafford (22 points) and Ahmad Bradshaw (20). The less said about Tom's team, the better.

Triple Asian Flu (Doug, 6-3) 83 def. That's Great Hustle! (Sean, 6-3) 77

This is a rough loss for Sean, considering the league's weird waiver system (once again) robbed a team of its kicker when its owner neglected to put a claim in before Thursday. Fortunately for Doug, the kicker wasn't necessary, but it made things very close with his strangely bi-polar roster: Louis Murphy (0), Hakeem Nicks (18), Julian Edelman (0), Visanthe Shiancoe (12), Packers DST (24). Hustle didn't have nearly so much disparity, although Peyton Hillis's 31 points was the main reason this was a contest.

Remain in Matt Light (Barnwell, 7-2) 82 def. Malice Aforethought (Will, 3-6) 67

Barnwell manages avoid eye-laser execution by holding on to the top slot in the Scramble Alumni Division. Playing Santonio Holmes for the 11 points would have made it closer but would not have made up the difference. For Barnwell's part, his team had Eli Manning (23 points), Michael Turner (22), and a whole lot of nothing.

Scramble Forever (Ian & Al, 6-3) 133 def. Consensus Picks (Elias, 5-4) 53

OK, so Elias got stomped. On the other hand, let's look at roster problems he had to contend with: Randy Moss, Knowshon Moreno, Eddie Royal and Vince Young all on bye. Then again, it probably didn't matter, since absolutely everything clicked for Scramble Forever -- points from Aaron Rodgers and 31 from Arian Foster.

Team Verhei (5-4) 84 def. Better Call Saul (Rob, 4-5) 70

It's been a rough few weeks for Rob, whose team hasn't won a game in a month (incidentally, the only week Tom won. Statistics!). Sadly for Rob, nothing is working. Michael Bush, Miles Austin and Jermaine Gresham were all DOA this week with one point each, and the top score on his roster was a relatively paltry 16. Vince had three players above that line (Philip Rivers, Rashard Mendenhall and DeSean Jackson). He even went sans kicker, as is the custom of the day.


We have a genuine race between Scramble Forever and Remain in Matt Light in the Scramble Alumni division. Who is the money on? Your Scramble writer will risk life and limb and guess that Scramble Forever pulls it out. Barnwell may have a one-game lead, but significantly fewer points for and has benefited from the lowest points-against in the league.

Maybe He Actually Sneaked Off to MILF Island

Mike: This is interesting, because Kayak had a pretty good commercial last year, which if I remember correctly we singled out and lauded.

Tom: By which you mean, I presume, it only kind of bothered me for being horribly unrealistic?

Mike: Silly Tom, demanding realism from ad agencies.

Tom: Yes, well, I may be the only one who demands realism from both ad agencies and sitcoms. But, dammit, I do. I can deal with departures, but make them sensible, reasonable, and logical ones.

Mike: I could go on about the various subtle and not-so-subtle unreality in all media for hours, but I won't because that's boring. I will say that largely nobody cares. Anyway, this commercial snaps that suspension of disbelief in half, then cuts the halves in half, then possibly continuing the cycle thusly for an indeterminate amount of time. The premise is that Kayak is fast. The action is that a woman is on vacation without her boyfriend. The connection between the two must be that he was left behind due to his non-use of Kayak. But the explanation -- that he overslept because he spent all night searching the Internet for fares -- only remotely makes sense if they both booked their flights the night before their vacation started.

Tom: Separately, no less.

Mike: Yes.

Tom: Oh, and apparently Mandy and Dave both love to travel.

Mike: Except Dave sucks at it, apparently.

Tom: Apparently. The insinuation I'm getting is they love to travel together, and are in this relationship.

Mike: But apparently do not plan anything as a couple, and she has not saved her expertise with him.

Tom: Yet, either he's managed to find a flight to Wonderful Vacation Destination every single time not using Kayak, or this is a new relationship.

Mike: Then again, she's used the fact that he's not there to hook up with Mr. Beefcake, so I guess it was part of the plan?

Tom: Well, that's the third possibility: He regularly misses flights, and she regularly hooks up with Mr. Beefcake.

Mike: And Kayak is trying to be more charitable than just calling Mandy a loose woman.

Tom: Some people apparently have that kind of relationship, though. Oh, calling this guy Dante ... it reminds me of this article, and also back in high school, when we had a working theory that all men named Dante are awesome. Based on an n=2 consisting of UNC basketball player Dante Calabria and Dante Bichette of the Colorado Rockies. Neither of whom was actually really that awesome aside from our insipid fascination with the name Dante.

Mike: You can now expand that to include Devil May Cry, which I guess is awesome in a gamerdude HECK YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH way.

Tom: LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEROY agrees with that assessment of awesomeness, I'd guess.

(Tom then tried to introduce a weird and counterproductive tangent.)

Mike: So, we should probably go back to making fun of Mandy and her Island Jungle Boy Lover

Tom: So, have you ever had an early morning flight?

Mike: Oh yeah.

Tom: And not been able to get to sleep the night before?

Mike: I have trouble getting to sleep, period.

Tom: As do I, but the problem is an especially important one the night before a flight. For instance, I had a 6 a.m. flight a couple years ago where I fell asleep between 1:45 and 2 a.m. Yet I somehow managed to wake up and get to the airport in time for my flight. Because I possess this magic technology known as an alarm clock.

Mike: Clearly you are some manner of witch.

Tom: Warlock or wizard. I'm male. Dave apparently has not yet accumulated enough experience points to be able to use this technology. I submit that even if we buy Kayak's premise, that, not his use of other travel sites, is his real problem.

Mike: Well, yeah. This really reeks of a joke that was written before the commercial's premise was locked down.

Tom: Of course, if I were writing this commercial, we'd have a sequel. One where Dave shows up, after having caught a later flight, sees Mandy with Dante, pushes them both in the ocean, then finds a much hotter girlfriend who won't cheat on him for missing a flight.

Mike: "Hey, wouldn't it be great if we had a long shot of a couple, and then it turns out it was some dude instead of her boyfriend?" And then they run with it as a way to highlight Kayak's speed, except nobody stops to think how the two are related and how, in fact, the difference in speed is literally minutes, thanks to magic things we like to call tabs.

Tom: Yes, this shocking reveal that ends up not so shocking. If you really wanted to run this commercial, then Mandy books three weeks in advance using Kayak and gets in just before the fare deadline. Dave books separately because they can't both put the fare on the same credit card, and because he's not using Kayak doesn't find the fare quite as quickly. And can't afford the fare increase from $175 to $625 after midnight.

Mike: Yes, but then the joke is ruined.

Tom: The joke is already ruined, at least for someone like me.

Mike: I'm not arguing the joke is worth saving, just that the joke led them down the primrose path to their marketing doom.

Tom: Good point. Let that be a warning to you, marketers of the world: Don't start with a premise and a product without a way to connect the two. Otherwise you, too, might suffer the wrath of the Scramble writers!

Mike: And then you would have to hide your commercial from us by refusing to post it to YouTube. Yeah, you know who you are, giant corporations. We're on to you.

Tom: Yes, keep playing your corporation games. We're on to you, even if you keep changing your corporation names.

Mike: ... I don't think they've actually changed their names.

Tom: Fine, the corporations sit there in their ... in their corporation buildings, and ... and, and see, they're all corporation-y ... and they make money. Anyway, we're on to them, and we're keeping our eye out. Even if it means we have to take drastic measures.

Mike: Indeed. Play us off, keyboard cat.

Loser League Update (Weekly Edition)

Quarterback: It was an exceptionally good week for quarterback play, as Chad Henne's 6 points was actually the lowest Loser League score of the week. Jimmy Clausen put up a -1, but alas he wasn't eligible for first half Loser League.

Running Back: Cadillac Williams had 1 point, but unless you're a big fan of LeGarrette Blount (Tom is not), he's at least the best running back on his team. The same cannot be said of your trio of 3 point backs: Thomas Jones, Ryan Mathews, and Tim Hightower are all probably getting carries at the expense of a more effective teammate. Oh well.

Wide Receiver: Deon Butler had 0 points, while ahead of a quartet at 1 of names good and less so: Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon, Miles Austin, and Brandon LaFell.

Kicker: No, sorry, Ndamukong Suh was not eligible, and he's still not eligible in second half Loser League. You would've been perfectly well off with Rian Lindell and his -4 anyway.


Keep Chopping Wood: The Dallas Cowboys played like they were a team that wanted their head coach fired. Well, congratulations, you got that wish. Next time you want something, please try to avoid annoying pretty much the entire viewing public in the process.

Mike Martz Award: OK, so his team gave up on him and it's extraordinarily unlikely it would've changed anything about the game beyond probably the final score. Wade Phillips still shouldn't have used a challenge on Brandon Jackson's second quarter touchdown on first-and-goal, and then maybe he'd have been able to challenge the alleged fumble on the kickoff that led to the Packers going up 28-0 before the two minute warning.

Colbert Award: You play to win the game. Eric Mangini knows this, and despite being up two scores in the first quarter elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 36. McCoy picked up the three yards on a sneak, and while Hillis would fumble the ball away the next play, the Browns still went on to the victory.

Scramble Mailbag

charles_star: I'm giving you my whole lineup just so you can tell me if I'm overlooking anything glaring, but I have Terrell Owens vs. Indy, Steve Johnson vs. Detroit, Jeremy Maclin vs. Washington, Jamaal Charles vs. Denver, Ray Rice vs. Atlanta and Hillis vs. NYJ. It's a .5PPR league and otherwise standard scoring.

Most of this seems like a no-brainer but I'm struggling between Maclin and Hillis at flex. It is a classic case where Hillis should be easy but the matchups are so distorted. Nobody runs on the Jets and everybody passes on the Redskins. What do you think?

Mike: The PPR is what really makes this decision difficult.

Tom: I concur with that assessment.

Mike: I'd probably go with Maclin. The Jets rushing defense is just way too good, and even though Maclin probably won't gobble up tons of yardage, he has a decent shot of getting a bunch of receptions and therefore points.

Tom: There's no clear answer.

Mike: Well, we have to tell the man something!

Tom: I think the Jets could really have success against Colt McCoy with creative blitzing, and Mangini will go in with a run-heavy gameplan to offset that.

Mike: Which means having to rely on the second-best rushing defense in the league against a surprisingly but still dead-average Cleveland rushing attack

Tom: The problem I have with Maclin is DeSean Jackson. Yes, he could have a 62-yard touchdown pass that outscores Hillis's entire day, but you can't trust that.

Mike: Hillis isn't going to get any traction. He'll grab yardage here and there, which is why I'm swayed by the PPR, even if it is only .5 points.

Tom: Yeah, that seems like an attractive argument. I'd still start Hillis, just because I hate wideouts. And it's not like Maclin is a volume receiver who really benefits from the PPR like, say, Danny Amendola would.

Mike: Fair enough. Washington also has an abysmal Adjusted Sack Rate, so it's not like Maclin won't have opportunities deep.

DS: I'm being relentlessly pursued with this trade offer, and my conviction is starting to waver. I get: Terrell Owens, Todd Heap; He gets: Antonio Gates, Hines Ward.

Thing is, in my league Gates has scored only 5 points less overall than Owens, the No. 1 WR, and almost twice as much as any other TE. This is mostly a standard scoring league, but with half a point per reception. I keep expecting the T.O. show to come crashing down, and yet here we are. I'm weighing Owens' head versus Gates' feet. The rest of my WR are Randy Moss, Jennings, and Crabtree. I also still have Zach Miller at TE (we have to carry two).

So, going forward, would I rather line up Owens, Jennings, and Miller, or Jennings, Moss/Ward, and Gates? I should note that I'm really looking at playoff implications, as I've more or less locked up a spot. Also, the team I'd trade with is by far the league's juggernaut -- he's not even starting T.O. because he has Megatron and Roddy White. Do I want to help eradicate his one weakness if I have to face him in the playoffs?

Tom: If you're confident of your playoff spot, then this trade is about playoff matchups. Week 15 and 16: TO faces Browns and Ravens at home. The Browns are a good matchup and Ravens are a bad one.

Mike: The Ravens are not a bad matchup for any wide receiver. Cincinnati's line is mediocre, but I'm pretty sure their wide receivers will be open about .3 seconds after the snap.

Tom: Against opposing No. 1 wideouts, they're eigth in DVOA, face fewer than seven passes a game, and only give up 45 YPG. Their weakness is against No. 2 wideouts.

Mike: "Face fewer than 7 passes a game" is the important part there. The No. 1 wideout is more well-covered than the No. 2 wideout, which is to say, not covered by "defender fell down." That doesn't mean they're good at it. It's not like you're making a conscious effort to avoid Darrelle Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha.

Tom: There are seven teams that face fewer targets, but yes, they're clearly on the lower side. My initial point was you already have that kind of matchup issue in Moss. We don't know quite how we'll fit in with the Titans yet (I'm reserving full judgment until we see him on the field), but they play the Texans Week 15 and the Chiefs Week 16. Chiefs aren't a good matchup, but the Texans are a big juicy one. And Jennings will be going up against the Patriots Week 15, which is another juicy matchup. Your issue is you want a better Week 16 matchup, since none of your wideouts have what looks like a particularly good one. TO doesn't solve that problem for you.

Mike: I think you're getting far too into it. You're gaining, as you said, some fractional points per game, and handing the best team in the league what he needs to essentially steamroll everyone. There is no way you should take this deal.

Tom: I concur.

Nick:: Our league has a limited number of waiver wire additions. One of the teams in the other division has used all of theirs up and their kicker, Nate Kaeding, is on bye this week. They've proposed we trade them our kicker, Robbie Gould, so they can have a kicker this week. The reason they want us to do this is they're playing the team that's second place in our division, right behind us. We'd have to use one of our two remaining waiver wire pickups so we could start a kicker this week. Should we do this?

Mike: Gould has been pretty mediocre this year, and it would harm your closest competition.

Tom: I agree Kaeding has been an upgrade on Gould.

Mike: This strategy gets a resounding yes from me, provided you are absolutely certain it won't result in a complaint to the commish.

Tom: One question for me is how confident you are in your starting lineup. If you have good depth and could handle an injury, then I'd ok doing this for a kicker upgrade and the competitive edge. Otherwise, I'd be worried going the rest of the year with only one chance for a waiver pickup for injury or matchup advantages.

Mike: He still has one slot for an injury, and he's not going to be fishing for value this late in the game

Tom: Sure, when Patrick Crayton or Seyi Ajirotutu inevitably gets hurt and the Chargers find some even more random player for Rivers to throw passes to.

Mike: It's a concern, but I'm less worried about it. I'm more concerned with complaints to the commish about gaming the system, which can be serious, depending on the league.

Tom: Or completely not, depending on the league.

Mike: Right. So, go for it if it's politically feasible.

Tom: I'm less in favor of this move than I am not opposed to it.

socctty: What do you guys do in your leagues about teams that are tanking? In my league ($125 to get in), people are clearly tanking their teams, and the commissioner doesn't feel it's his job to make sure this doesn't happen. I've suggested that he start people on their teams that are projected to score the most points, but acknowledged that this does nothing for the games that have already been played. He says they have rejected trade offers he's sent them, which is something I can't verify myself. It also doesn't really prove anything to me, and maybe even lends credence to the thought that they don't care about their teams anymore. However, lots of other people feel the same way as the commissioner.

It would be easy if these guys were all living in the same city, and you could talk some sense to them in person, but we are geographically dispersed (I am in Alaska, some are in Europe and Asia).

Mike: Easy solution: do not join random public leagues.

Tom: Would you buy in to a random public league with a $125 fee? I wouldn't.

Mike: No way in Hell.

Tom: And most people aren't willing to pay a fee of that amount without really caring, knowing the people well, or both.

Mike: But more to the point, it's not really the commish's job to manipulate rosters, even if you do have an idea that people are behaving "badly."

Tom: If they're intentionally screwing over their team, that's one thing. But it sounds like these people just stopped caring.

Mike: Yeah, and it's really not the commish's job to fix that. The solution, as flippant as it is, is to just avoid leagues like this.

Tom: Agreed.

Scramble is your place for petty fantasy football politics! Send your questions to Scramble-at-footballoutsiders.com!


by Jim C. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 6:01pm

I think you've missed the obvious unspoken backstory to the Kayak commercial: Dave missed the flight on purpose, so he could stay home and jump Mandy's sister. The joke's on her!

by Jonadan :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 10:55pm

I'd kind of become a fan of that Kayak commercial.

And then these guys made me think about it. No fun, guys!

by Gabrosin :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 6:18pm

"Week 15 and 16: TO faces Browns and Ravens at home. The Browns are a good matchup and Ravens are a bad one."

Not true. Bengals at Ravens is week 17. Chargers at Bengals is week 16.

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 10:18pm

Ah, crikey, I was looking at the wrong schedule page. The bad matchup point still stands with the Chargers.

by ammek :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 6:55pm

After the Austin Collie hit, I also wondered whether I could take any more football. Even Phil Simms struggled to burble over the top of replays of a guy going through what looked like a death rattle. I was particularly spooked by the way Peyton Manning then carried on as if nothing had happened, throwing over the middle to a defenseless receiver on the very next play. The concussion issue isn't going away, and while there's probably nothing to be added to the arguments all over the net about rules and helmets, from the first few lines of this column I thought you were going to open up about how it makes you feel, as spectators, to realize, from time to time, that you are paying money to watch people hurt each other for your entertainment. I guess, as lawyers, you decided not to go down that road. But Tom gave us a brief glimpse into a darker, non-bantering side of fanship. I wish you'd gone further.

How did Mike not know Brett Favre's middle name? Do you watch games with the sound off? Did you also not know that he just has fun out there, or that he likes to mow his lawn instead of showing up to training camp?

Why are Bill and Mike "Barnwell" and "Tanier" in the FO Fantasy League? Is it a frat boy thing? Or do they just have boring first names?

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 10:20pm

We touched on the depressing aspects of football a little bit in this column last year. We may re-visit the topic again this year if we decide we have something more we want to say about the topic. Right now, it just depresses me more than anything else.

by Mike Kurtz :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 10:28pm

There are two Mikes. There are technically two Bills, but more to the point it's "BARNWEEEELL" as in "ROBOT HOOOOOUSE!"

by BigDerf :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 5:14am

I felt like Manning carried on that way for Collie. I felt like when he walked over and talked to him on the stretcher it was basically a "Im gonna go get this TD for you" Cause he came out in super pissed off Peyton Mode for that drive.

by John (not verified) :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 11:03am

After the Austin Collie hit, I also wondered whether I could take any more football.

I had the same reaction. As a Colts fan, it's hard to imagine not watching Peyton through the twilight of his career, but I'm not at all sure I want to risk watching someone be paralyzed or killed out there. How much culpability do I share as a fan of the game?

by hbh_uk :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 12:43pm

Interesting point about Peyton going to a receiver over the middle on the very next play; my immediate reaction was that Peyton figured that the Eagles defenders might be a bit skittish about putting a big hit on a receiver. So he went right at them, guessing that his receiver would get a little bit more time before getting nailed. Ruthless, and totally effective (if that's what he was thinking).

by James-London :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 7:45pm

I missed the 1st LL this year. It's good to be back.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Independent George :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 10:21am

Me, too; I finally thought of a good team name, and then completely muffed the sign-up. Never again!

by roguerouge :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 8:12pm

So, I have Kyle Orton as my QB and I wanted to know if any of my backup QBs have matchups in the next few weeks that merit starting one of them over Orton. It's a yardage heavy league, with 1 point per 20 yards passing and 6 points for a passing TD. My backup QBs are: Chad Pennington, Shaun Hill and Derek Anderson. Thanks for any advice you can offer about the stretch run!

by AHBM (not verified) :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 8:40pm

Not that this necessarily affects the outcome of LL Part I, but some teams were listed twice in the weekly standings and the combined scores of each weekly were put into the same team's running total. This affects the last four teams on the list (explaining how they got such high numbers).

by Marko :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 9:33pm

If you slightly changed the copy for that commercial and spiced it up a bit, it could actually be a commercial for ashleymadison.com.

by BlueStarDude :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 9:56pm

I wanted to take Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike for the 2nd half loser league but, alas, no Tony Pike.

by Dr. Knee Deep in the Hoopla (not verified) :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 9:57pm

I can just see Dave singing now... "Tomorrow doesn't matter tonight... I'm holding you and it feels so right. I know you didn't plan it this way... Let yourself go if you want to stay!"

Why yes, I do own that album on cassette, why do you ask?

by dmb :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 2:22am

I can't recall if I've only seen this during basketball games or if it's also infiltrated football broadcasts, but I think that many things could be said about the KIA hamster commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfJnqbudMzs

by DrunkenSuperman :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 3:27am

Wish I wasn't following the ugg spammer, but I wanted to say thanks for answering my question. Seems like everyone is more or less in agreement here, and I'm going to start eyeing potential week 16 starters as trade targets.

by Snowglare :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 4:07am

Why the lack of options in LL? There's no way Mangini lets Colt McCoy be the only Browns QB to get significant playing time the rest of the season, Clausen has a tenuous grip in Carolina, Vince Young's questionable this week, Charlie Whitehurst subbed last week for an injury-prone 35-year-old, etc.

Also of note: Roscoe Parrish is on IR.

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 10:13am

Dear God, a Jefferson Starship reference? We built this city on shlock and droll. Yuck.

by Rich in Atlanta (not verified) :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 11:36am

What reference? I thought I read the whole thing and I didn't see it.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 11:59am

To be precise, it's a Starship reference. A friend who had a relative who was a member of Jefferson Starship but not Starship was kind enough to explain to me once that the two were not quite the same, just so I didn't accuse him of having any responsibility, even derivatively, for "We Built This City."

by Rich in Atlanta (not verified) :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 12:26pm

Ahh, ok - the corporation thing. Sorry, I never bothered to retain the lyrics to 'We Built this City,' which is as you noted Starship and not Jefferson Starship. It should be noted that Starship had none of the original Jefferson Airplane members in it, which is why they got sued to drop Jefferson from the name. I note that only because I retain some fondness for the original band and would prefer not to sully their name with later incarnations.

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 4:28pm

I'm convinced that "We Built This City" is the reason MTV no longer plays music videos.

by MAD AT PINK (not verified) :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 10:31am

Good call on reason for the Mike Martz award. I knew it was a TD on that play or if overturned it was a TD the next play. That was pathetic. Sort of sums up Phillips's whole season in one fell swoop.

by ChrisInCT (not verified) :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 10:35am

To prevent team tanking in my league, any team that doesn't get to at least 4 wins owes a $50 penalty. The same 12 guys have been in the league for 5 years, so it works.

by Mike Kurtz :: Thu, 11/11/2010 - 4:37pm

That actually seems like a good solution, although it would really suck to be the guy who tried really hard and didn't manage to hit 4 wins.

Like Tom in the staff league. Don't let his rhetoric fool you.

by agauntpanda :: Fri, 11/12/2010 - 7:13pm

I dunno why this didn't get in the first time, but: in our league, we award prizes equal to buy-in for 2nd-to-last place and consolation bracket winner (we use Yahoo). This keeps both the middle-of-the-road teams and the basement teams competing, since good management can keep you out of dead last and get your money back (and, with 10 owners, that means everyone is basically always playing for something -- the top 4 for the big prizes, the next 4 for the consolation prize, and the last 2 duking it out to get the "management prize").

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