Blewitt, Nominative Determinism, and Loser League Names
NFL Week 8 - There is nothing new about mocking Chris Blewitt's name. It was late-night TV fodder before he ever made the NFL, back when he was breaking records for the Pittsburgh Panthers. And now that he's Loser League fodder, the jokes are even easier.
Blewitt has been bad in an interesting way, too—three of his five kicks have been no good, but he technically hasn't missed. Instead, all three have been blocked. I am fairly certain, without doing any research whatsoever, that Blewitt is the first kicker in NFL history to have his first three misses be blocks as opposed to shanks or doinks. Blewitt has tied Zane Gonzalez for the most blocked kicks since 2018, and Gonzalez has attempted 86 field goals compared to Blewitt's five. Normally, you would put most of the blame on a blocked kick on the protection, at least at the NFL level. Then again, most kickers on the NFL level are capable of kicking the ball higher than their linemen's backs.
Chris Blewitt's kicked wasn't blocked!
— Darren M. Haynes (@DarrenMHaynes) October 31, 2021
If you're the kind of person who would feel wary about signing a guy named "Blewitt" to kick your field goals, you might be the type who would support a running back who can Gainwell. This week, however, your faith would have been misplaced. The Eagles gave Kenneth Gainwell 13 carries in their blowout against Detroit but he managed just 27 yards, tying him for the lowest score of the week. It's a Loser League Classic performance; one that would have been near the top of the leaderboards even under the old 10-carry minimum. At 2.1 yards per carry, it's not the least efficient day by a running back this season, but it's near the top. He has been beaten twice, of course, by, er, D'Andre Swift, the man across the field from him on Sunday. Swift averaged just 2.3 yards per carry against Gainwell's Eagles, though his receiving value bailed him out somewhat. So Swift wasn't, and Gainwell didn't.
I love nominative determinism, the idea that someone's name will have some direct impact on their careers. It slots nicely in the center of the Venn diagram between stupid and funny, which is really the niche we're hoping to hit here with the Loser League. One of my all-time favorites was Cody Pickett, a 2000s-era quarterback for the 49ers who managed to throw two interceptions in his first five career pass attempts. Then there's 1980s Lions quarterback Chuck Long, who didn't—his 6.2 yards per attempt were the third-lowest during his career.
There has never been a better fullback name than Mack Strong, a better offensive lineman name than Will Shields, or a better linebacker name than Junior Seau. And we will forever be mourning the lost potential for juvenile jokes that would have come with a star tight end named Jake Butt. Joking about names is certainly low-hanging fruit that people like Blewitt have had to deal with a million times before this weisenheimer came along (yes, yes, Bryan Know-Less is doing very bad with his weekly picks), but, I mean, it's fun.
And it's a great segue into another Loser League tradition: celebrating the best (and worst!) of the team names this season. On your lineup page, there's a little orange box you can use to change your name from "Username's Loser Team" to something creative and original. A bunch of people have taken the opportunity to do just that, and now is as good a time as any to pull out my favorites and celebrate them. Does having the best name win you anything? Technically, no. And also literally, figuratively, metaphysically, and practically no. But it's still a chance for your creativity to shine, even if your picks don't.
First of all, when we asked you to come up with a hilarious name, at least three different teams went with "Hilarious" or "Hilarious Name." Yes, yes, you are very clever.
One of the all-time classic Loser League names, back this season, is the Matt Millen All-Stars. It has, in turn, spawned an entire subgenre of Lions-themed nicknames. The Matt Patricia All-Stars is the same joke, updated for a new generation. Millen Deserved a Second Extension is more of a threat than a team name, but a threat certainly befitting the Loser League. And Campbell's Soup—with Extra Kneecaps is my favorite new edition of the joke. One day, the Lions might be good for an extended period of time, and the jokes may stop. Maybe. I mean, in theory, it's possible.
But of course, the Lions weren't the only team slammed—plenty of other fans of teams with, shall we say, less than stellar recent histories found ways to attack their own teams with their names, with the Future Dan Snyder Free Agent Signings being arguably the best. For the most part, though, people liked to attack former coaches, as there's always some faith that your current guy will turn it around. Lots of Adam Gase dunks, a couple Hue Jackson blasts, and my favorite, the Rod Rust Roughriders. Quality alliteration there, and people holding a grudge over a 1-15 coach from 1990 despite all the Patriots' success since then deserve acknowledgement and perhaps counselling.
Names based on current players often make just as much sense for real fantasy teams as they do Loser League teams, with Davante's Inferno, Ekeler? Damn Near Killed Her! and Ja'Marr Ja'Merrier standing out as highlights for names which would look just as good in an ESPN league as they do here (though it's entirely possible the Ja'Marr Chase theme came when he was dropping things left, right, and center in preseason). Perhaps more interesting are the ones that celebrate Loser League stars and Keep Chopping Wood moments. Plaxico's Gun Safety School is in poor taste, but I would be lying if I said I didn't laugh far too hard at it. Hey Peterman, Check Out Channel 9 might be the best of the "Hey, it's a popular culture reference!" names, though that will depend in part about how much you like Office Space and five-interception days. And you can take your pick as to whether Carson Wont'z or Carson Going, Carson Gone, Carson Wentz is the better joke there; they both work well for me.
Not every name needs to be a pun of some kind to work. I'm a huge fan of Quixotic Smashmouth, Force Majeure Bitch, Free Safety Dance (one of my wife's favorites), Chunder Down Under, Strawmen F.C., Wide Left, and Lord Baltimore's Folly. Both Three Inches and a Cloud of Dust and How To Lose a Game in 10 Plays nearly were my overall winners.
The Grey Cup Champions is an unnecessarily harsh slam on the Canadian Football League. I include them because, presumably, we'd measure their success with DVO-EH?
Of course, we all live in the world in which we live, and our Loser League names reflect it. Covid Shutdown Corner (too soon?) is a name that hopefully won't recur in future years. If it does, we can all stop by Kirk Cousins' Plexiglass Emporium to keep ourselves well protected. If this goes on and on, we'll find ourselves the next Pandemic George Plimptons, but hopefully we'll be fine with the liberal use of McCaffrey Anti-Virus Protection. (If only it could protect against pulled hamstrings!)
But there is, ultimately, one winner in my book.
A man walks into a South Beach medical clinic. "I'm depressed," he says. "The world seems harsh and cruel. My football team was supposed to contend this year, but we're sitting at 1-7, well out of anything close to being competitive. Our offense can't move the ball at all." The doctor tells him that the treatment is simple. The great quarterback prospect Tagovailoacci is in town. Go watch him play; that should pick you up."
The man bursts into tears. But Doctor, I *Am* Tagavailoacci.
Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.
Week 8's Biggest Losers
Worst of the Worst
With backup quarterbacks lighting up the league, there weren't a ton of low scores to work with. Matt Ryan (7) ended up as the low scorer as he was affected by his bloody left hand after it was stomped on mid-game. Ryan was still 20-for-27 passing, but for just 146 yards, and his one touchdown was cancelled out by a pair of interceptions. Not having Calvin Ridley likely didn't help either, and while Ryan's hand will heal, Ridley's out for an undetermined length of time. Ryan doesn't become a highly-desired Loser League pick without Ridley or anything, but in a week without weak performances, he takes the top spot.
SHAQ THOMPSON MAKES HIS RETURN KNOWN!
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 31, 2021
Other Loser Leaders
The only other eligible quarterback to score 10 points or less was Jameis Winston (10), who threw one touchdown before leaving with a season-ending ACL tear. Every other quarterback who played a complete game was well into double digits, though there were a bunch of 11s (Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff, and Mac Jones). Eleven eligible passers outperformed the penalty—not a record by any stretch of the imagination, and the average passer still was under 18, but this was not a week to go searching for an ideal quarterback score.
After weeks of either leading the league or coming close to it, Justin Fields (24) finally had a breakout game. Sure, he was still under 200 yards passing, took four sacks, and threw a poor interception, but he finally got to use his legs, picking up 103 yards on the ground and what should have been a game-tying touchdown. The fact that Fields got to do all this with Matt Nagy out of the picture may or may not be relevant.
Worst of the Worst
We mentioned Kenneth Gainwell (2) up above, but he tied for the lowest score with Rhamondre Stevenson (2), who got the nod over J.J. Taylor for Damien Harris' backup du jour. Gainwell's 13 carries are the most for a Loser League Leader to this point in the season; being the third choice in an already anemic running game will do that for you.
Other Loser Leaders
Leonard Fournette (3) would have been your leader if his fumble near the goal line had been ruled a catch-and-fumble and not an incomplete pass; you be the judge.
Fournette fumble and the Saints get it pic.twitter.com/FddbfzR7AV
— EJ (@BourbonAndBeer) October 31, 2021
Elsewhere, Alex Collins (4) continues to benefit from both the diminished Wilson-less Seattle offense and Pete Carroll's love of slamming people into loaded boxes; he has now had just seven combined points the last two weeks. Myles Gaskin (4) had 15 touches but still couldn't get out of the basement as Buffalo just swallowed up anything Miami tried to do on the ground.
Most of the rest of the five-point club were familiar faces from previous weeks—Zack Moss (4), Javonte Williams (4), Sony Michel (5), and Antonio Gibson (5). We're beginning to see some clear leaders in the race for Loser Running Back of the Year; we'll check in more on that next week.
Michael Carter (22) was a very popular pick. After all, the Jets had lost by 40 points the week before and the Bengals had won by 30; it didn't seem particularly likely the Jets would be trying to run out the clock. A touchdown and 77 yards on the ground would have been more than enough to call this a great day for the struggling rookie, but nine receptions for 95 yards as part of the Mike White show pushed him to the highest loser score of the week among players who didn't take the penalty. Maybe all it took was a positive game script for once for Carter's efforts this season to turn into actual production.
Worst of the Worst
A full quartet of Goose Eggers this week. Emmanuel Sanders had the 0-fer, with no receptions on four targets. He had 108 air yards thrown his way, so there was opportunity; he just came down with bupkis. If Josh Allen had been able to connect the one time Sanders broke free from the defense, we'd be talking a different story. That does happen from time to time with deep threats who don't work much underneath. Tavon Austin, Danny Amendola, and Marcus Johnson round out your zero-point scorers.
Other Loser Leaders
Kendrick Bourne's fumble turned a mediocre day into a Loser League day. 38 yards on seven targets isn't exactly going to set the world on fire, but we wouldn't be talking about it if Derwin James hadn't thumped him.
Derwin James forces a Kendrick Bourne fumble.pic.twitter.com/rDEjAhLts0
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 31, 2021
Some stars had particularly poor games. T.Y. Hilton was just 2-for-5 for 16 yards before a concussion forced him out of both the rest of Week 8 and Week 9. Mike Williams' run of slow play continued with a 2-for-5-for-19 day against the Patriots; that's three of the last four weeks where he has failed to hit 30 yards. Of course, the fourth week was his 165-yard day against Cleveland, so swings and roundabouts, there.
Equanimeous St. Brown, Laviska Shenault, K.J. Osborn, and DeVonta Smith rounded out your one-point scorers.
With Dak Prescott out, some people decided to load up on Cowboys and take advantage of the Cooper Rush show. Well, whether it was Amari Cooper (18) or, more likely, Cedrick Wilson (15), things didn't work out so well for you. Wilson's numbers do include his 35-yard pass, earning him an extra point.
Worst of the Worst
It was actually Austin Seibert (-2) who had the worst day among kickers. He didn't have as many blocked as Blewitt, but his 47-yard miss wasn't coupled with even another attempt, as Detroit went nowhere early and often against the Eagles.
— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) October 31, 2021
Other Loser Leaders
But yeah, Chris Blewitt (0) is here as well, with his two blocked kicks being perfectly balanced out by his field goal and extra point. Ka'imi Fairbairn (0) was shut out as well, cancelling out two extra points with a miss of his own.
Zane Gonzalez (13) was the beneficiary of Carolina snapping out of their four-game slump. He benefitted from two trends of bad teams—being forced to settle for long field goal attempts (he nailed 57- and 51-yarders), and being stuffed with goal to go (he added 23- and 29-yarders).
Week 8 Contest Results
A brand-new winner this week, as the Disadvantaged Soccer Club has kicked their way to the top!
28 points wouldn't have won most weeks but, again, this was a relatively high-scoring week, so no tiebreakers necessary here. Having one of the two quarterbacks to score 10 points or less (Jameis Winston) is huge in a week where "correct" choices were hard to come by. Every other slot on their roster was filled with solid, if not spectacular, picks—Myles Gaskin and Mike Davis at running back, Allen Robinson and Mecole Hardman at receiver, and Ka'imi Fairbairn at kicker. Some weeks, your primary goal has to be avoiding a bomb, and avoid a bomb they did. The Soccer Club will hopefully become a little more advantaged with a Football Outsiders shirt and 2,200 Madden Ultimate Team Points. Winston might be done for the season, but you could put him on your MUT team in honor of your Week 8 victory!
Your top five for Week 8:
1. Disadvantaged Soccer Club (28)
2. Ryry954 (29)
3. Ehigh (30)
T4. Heysetch (31)
T4. Penny Dave (31)
T4. Alvastar (31)
In the overall standings, Aaron Schatz Has a Posse's lead has fallen from 17 points to just six as everyone starts reeling him back in. Aaron had significant troubles at both quarterback and running back, costing him big time this week. Justin Fields and Davis Mills have been great options to this point, but both were 20-plus-point scorers this week as Houston's garbage-time comeback bit into their Loser League usefulness. On the ground, Michael Carter benefitted from the Jets actually looking solid on offense, Phillip Lindsay got the penalty in the new-look Texans backfield, and Melvin Gordon found the end zone twice, giving all three of his running backs at least 15 points. Ka'imi Fairbairn, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Zach Pascal salvaged the day some, but 56 points from the leader is an opportunity for others elsewhere.
The Mojo Momenteers rise into second place and are in position to win the grand prize at the moment. They, too, had passer troubles—Justin Fields and the out-of-nowhere production of Mike White hit them hard—but strong running backs in Myles Gaskin and Antonio Gibson salvaged a 41-point day, keeping them in the top 60 for the week and helping improve their position in the overall competition. Last week's second-place team, Hattrick12488, slips down to third; having four Jets in your 10 picks has been a great strategy to this point, but it led to a 50-point day for him in Week 8.
Your updated top five:
1. Aaron Schatz Has a Posse (261)
2. Mojo Momenteers (267)
3. Hattrick12488 (269)
4. In French it's Spelled Losre (270)
5. AlecV (271)
You can check your results and the rest of the Loserboard here!
Plays for Week 9
The only reason Justin Fields wasn't a good pick last week was his rushing value. I get that's not much consolation for people who plugged Fields into their roster, but it was the first time Fields topped 50 rushing yards in his career, and it was against a 49ers defense that has historically had trouble bottling up scramblers. Take away his fourth-and-1 cut-and-run and Fields would have been at a much more palatable, if still not great, 16 points. I expect the Steelers and their pass rush to give Fields a very hard time this week, and I expect the return of Nagy to return Fields' feet very much to the bucket of cement they have otherwise been in.
Trevor Lawrence draws a tough matchup against the Bills this week. The Bills have allowed 11.6 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, with just five touchdown passes allowed and 11 interceptions, all of it best in the league. The Jags' checkdown-heavy offense does not seem fit to suddenly bust the Bills' defense wide open, and Lawrence has experienced enough rookie growing pains to make him a very solid option.
Other promising picks: Whoever Starts For The 49ers, Especially If It's Jimmy Garoppolo (v. ARI), Baker Mayfield (@CIN)
Parsing the Texans' running back situation post-Mark Ingram is challenging. Against the Rams, no one got above the penalty. Scottie Phillips led the way with five carries, Rex Burkhead had four, Phillip Lindsay three, and David Johnson two. If this is going to be a four-back committee, you can write the whole dang team off. I'm giving Phillip Lindsay one more week in my lineup, as no one establishes the run quite like the Texans, but he's on my last straw here.
And speaking of confusing backfield situations, I'm going with Latavius Murray out of Baltimore. I think he's most likely to get the volume for the Ravens, but there are so many other backs out there who could skim touchdowns from him, I think you might well get the best of both worlds.
James Conner is only a bad play when he scores a touchdown. Unfortunately, he has scored a touchdown in five of the past six games. I am still counting on some touchdown regression for Arizona, so I'm going to keep plugging Conner into my lineups, and continue to be disappointed.
Other promising picks: Salvon Ahmed (v. HOU), Adrian Peterson (@LAR), AJ Dillon (@KC)
Everything I said about Buffalo's pass defense against Trevor Lawrence applies to his receivers as well, so I'm doubling up with Laviska Shenault and Marvin Jones against the top fantasy passing defense in the game. Both have taken advantage of DJ Chark's absence to claim bigger roles in Jacksonville's offense, which is bad for the Jaguars, but potentially good for you.
Jakobi Meyers has yet to hit double-digit points this season, and has scores of 5, 4, 4, and 3 over the last four weeks. While Mac Jones has somewhat gotten out of his "no deep throws ever" philosophy, no one has told Meyers, whose job is currently to gobble up any and all failed completions New England wants to throw. That's value, there.
Other promising picks: Kadarius Toney (v. LV), Allen Robinson (@PIT), Darnell Mooney (@PIT)
I'm siding hard on the idea of the Jets' offensive resurgence being a one-week fluke. And while I'm letting most of their skill position players sit against the Colts, I see no reason not to plug in Matt Ammendola, the most consistent Loser League kicker of the year, once again.
The other slot is tougher, but counting on the Texans to do next-to-nothing hasn't backfired too much this season. Ka'imi Fairbairn's my choice until the Texans prove they can consistently produce offense when their opponent has their starters on the field.
Other promising picks: Dustin Hopkins (@LAC), Matthew Wright (v. BUF)