Saturday, November 27, 2010

Graham Gano

I used to think college football was a waste of time. Hundreds of teams who play 2-3 meaningful games a year and are under the constant pressure to remain undefeated lest their season be ruined, coaches be fired and alumni cry foul. Then I went to a Penn State football game and my perspective went from "whoop-de-doo" to "woo-hoo!"

I still think college football is doing it all wrong, but the experience of a single big time college football game in person changed my entire perspective. And if you know me, you know that life is all about perspective.

On that note, let me provide some perspective about a young man with an annoying last name: Graham Gano.

Gano, who is playing in his first full NFL season, played college football at Florida State,  before being drafted (and later cut) by the Baltimore Ravens. He eventually was signed to the Las Vegas Locomotives. Which, in fact, is not a toy company but a United Football League team.

Gano was signed by the Redskins, after they cut that miserable slouch Shaun Suisham (recently signed by the Steelers), and played in the final four games of the 2009 season, never missing a field goal in that time.

So far in 2010, Gano has missed seven field goals and is under an exorbitant amount of scrutiny from Redskins fans in the DC Metro area.

I get it, its easy to hate a kicker. Especially the Washington Redskins kicker. But before you go bashing this guy, making him an incurable head case and ruining his career, lets think logically about this. Perhaps I can give you a little perspective you don't already have.

He plays for the Redskins, which means he is put in tight spots more often than not, being forced to net long field goals. This season, half of his attempted field goals have been from 40 or more yards away. He's kicked 30 field goals. That's 15 attempts from 40+ yards! I'm spelling this out for you because this is a meaningful stat. Let me repeat, 15 of his 30 FG attempts have been from beyond 40 yards.

The league average for FGs between 40-49 yards is 70%. Gano? 83% making 10 of 12 kicks from that distance.

He's probably had more game winning field goal attempts in his first year than any other kicker ever (Note: I have no statistical evidence to support that, nor will I go looking for it). You'll just have to accept this as truth. The same way we have to believe that Dumbledore is gay. A writer told you to believe it and you have to.

When Graham missed the 47-yarder in regulation against the Tennessee Titans last week that sent the game into overtime, there was a flurry of Facebook hatred towards him. If you look deeper you realize the 47-yarder was directly into the wind and came up about 3 yards short. When he attempted the 48-yarder in overtime, he was facing the other direction, wind at his back and he cleared the goal posts by nearly 15 yards. Meaning, if that kick was from 63 yards out he would have made it...and tied the NFL record for longest kick in a game.

However, thats not good enough for me. Remember earlier this year against the Texans when he netted a 50 yarder to win? Only to have it called back because Gary "I'm going to be fired this week" Kubiak called a time out? Sure he missed the second field goal and it worked for the Texans, but you have to understand not many kickers in the NFL are better than 50% from 50 yards or more (That is statistically true, I looked it up. 52% is the league average for 50+ yard field goals).

What about the 20-some yarder against the Texans that was blocked because Fred Davis decided that jazz fingers were an effective method of blocking Bernard Pollard?

Still not deep enough for me! People piled on Gano for missing the 47-yarder in regulation and never mentioned his name when he won the game for us in OT. I did a little digging. Gano, when playing in the UFL, not only set a UFL record for longest field goal made (53 yards) he also finished the season (his first ever) leading the league in scoring AND field goals made. 

Still not enough! He also netted a game winning field goal for the Locomotives in the championship game leading the Locos to be the first ever UFL Champions.

But you didn't know that did you? Cause you were too busy bashing the guy for being an insufferable slob who can't be 100% from 60+ yards. 

I heard someone say in reference to Gano, "When you can't trust your kicker its time to move on." Interesting. Should we go sign Jeff Reed, recently cut from the Steelers for routinely missing 26 yard field goals and punching gas station paper towel dispensers? Or should we sign a 40+ year old who is washed up and can't kick further than his age? Or should we get the second best kicker in the UFL? Whoever finished behind Gano in points scored and field goals made. How's that for perspective?

Its the guy's first season. He knows how to win games. And he will continue to do so in the future. Make sure you have the right perspective before you bash one of my players. 

Now, I wonder if I can get a good Black Friday deal on a Gano jersey....

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Joys of the Holidays

It's Thanksgiving weekend people, and you know what that means...your day has (no doubt) been filled with uncreative people saying things like "Happy turkey day!", "What are you thankful for this year?", "Friends, family and health!", and "I'm so stuffed you could milk me!"

I jest, Thanksgiving is a great holiday. The day after Thanksgiving is even better. Think about it- you can sit in your own home all day, you don't need to make any food, you don't need to get dressed up, you don't have to watch a 6 hour parade all morning. It's brilliant! And, if you're like me, you get the day off from work which means you have nothing left to do but resume blogging!

The joys of the holidays.

This is more accurate...
So, in lieu of my wife being at work, (ever seen the Balrog in Lord of the Rings? You know the fire beast Gandalf shouts, "You shall not pass!" at? Striking resemblance to her boss) I'm at home with two cats, a fridge full of leftovers and a mind full of ideas. Let it begin.

...but this one is cuter.
I've decided (at the whining request of Bones) to do one last "Predictions" blog about the Fantasy Football league. I cannot turn down the request of an adoring fan (or bored employee) so lets jump right into it.

The Ducal Crown Thoughts and Predictions Disguised as Awards-

The Verizon Droid Commercials Award- Much like you, when the first Verizon Droid commercials came out I was intrigued, inspired even.  I fancy myself a Verizon guy over AT&T or iPhone or anything else that I can't afford or would cause me to change carriers so I can be trendy. And, much like you, when a Verizon Droid commercial comes on now, I vomit slightly in my mouth and start to bleed from my ears.

I assume these award posts affect you similarly (unless you're actually in the league). So I'll take this award, keep it short and to the point, and try not to force the invention of something called ear tampons (Apologies, Mom and other readers who get uncomfortable at the mention of the word...."ear").

The "I'm dying slowly inside" Award- Creasman, on the wrong side of a 7 game losing streak, is fading fast in the league. Not his involvement, he's been stockpiling players to keep for next year, but in his ability to score more than 80 points a week.

The Easy Transition Award- Speaking of 80 points a week, Perry STILL has not scored between 80-100 points. He's either in the 70s and below or over 100. How does this keep happening?? Seriously? How? Someone call Ripley's, they'll care!

The "Stop me Before I Trade Again!" Award- Bones took a dominant team (comprised of 4 players chosen in the 1st or 2nd rounds of the draft- Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Frank Gore, MJD), the best late round keeper- Ahmad Bradshaw, taken in the 9th me (Eat that Tommy Carrico!), and turned it into a team featuring Nate Burleson as his number two wide receiver. Sure, he added Peyton Manning to his roster (having a sub-par season), but he's also now relying on Nate Burleson week to week. And, using his strategy of "trade all my bench players away" he no longer has anyone serviceable on his bench. We'll see how that affects his playoff run...but being 9-2 and in first place you can pretty much do what you want and we have to respect it.

At least that's what Laker's fan tell me. I can't wait until any other team in the league beats them in the playoffs. Speaking of the Lakers, do you know who I just learned is a Lakers fan?

Everybody. Everybody I talk to about basketball is now a Lakers fan. You guys suck.

The True Colors Award-  Noord's team, which just really isn't all that good, but rode a six game win streak early has now lost his last three games. Call me crazy, but when you're relying on Danny Woodhead, Cedric Benson and Mario Manningham your team has become a lot less threatening. Not that DeAngelo Williams was ever threatening this year. Probably should have tried to trade them earlier in the season...but what the heck do I know?

Everything! Considering I'm on a 4 game win streak, jumped up to 2nd place and am about to win the league!!!....Award.

Here's the rest of the league in short hand-
My team- officially jinxed by...myself. Will lose the rest of my games and miss the playoffs.
Team Ralph- all his marbles on Vick staying healthy and the Vikings benching Favre to let Tavaris Jackson hand off to Adrian Peterson 100 times a game.
Jimmy's Team- If the Steelers have a bad week, so does Jimmy (Big Ben, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace). Of course, they all play Buffalo this week so he should crush his opponent...which is....CRAP! Told you I jinxed myself.
Perry's Team- In position to make a late push with the acquisition of Michael Turner and being forced to finally start Steve "All I Do is Score Touchdowns" Johnson.
Wheel's Team- Got screwed when he traded for Randy Moss a week before his career fell apart.
Sam's Team- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Tom's Team- Officially not in last place.

More of this guy tomorrow...
A final note, to do with the Washington Redskins and Graham Gano will appear tomorrow. I wrote it today, but realized the points I make are so good that you should really enjoy them all at once. Kinda like Thanksgiving leftovers...just pile them all up in a bowl, pour some gravy on it and grab a spoon! But seriously, if you hate Graham Gano please stay tuned for the blog posting'll be worth the wait.

Have a terrific Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend. I'll do my best to blog as often as I get the chance.

And it won't all be about Fantasy Football....probably.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Post I Never Wanted to Write

I'm at a fortunate place in my life right now. A few weeks ago I was offered, and accepted, a new position within my company supporting a new client. I'm very excited about the opportunity and the career path its going to send me on. I'm hoping it turns out like when Joel Moore signed on to do Avatar. You realize this moron is going to make millions and millions of dollars because he looks like a giant nerd, right?

Unfortunately, for me, I won't be making millions and millions of dollars (yet), but I will have to dedicate a much larger portion of my day to actually doing work related tasks. Don't tell anyone I said that. In fact, I didn't say that. I was joking. I always write my blogs from home.

Anyway, given the anticipation that I will have a significantly smaller amount of free time in my life, I'm afraid this blog will have to take a bit of a backseat. The two of you who care have noticed a decreased amount of postings recently and I apologize. I've been taking on more tasks for my new team and not dedicating time to writing. My wife promises me that this is the right move. Even though I think your work day entertainment is more important than my career, she's guiding me in the other direction (gotta marry up, know what I mean?).

It regrets me to be a blogger at all, but especially one who does not give time to updating their blog. I figure I should at least give you a heads up. I plan on returning to this as soon as possible to update you on the fantasy league, the Redskins failures, why I'm smarter than most people and other things you wouldn't care about if I didn't tell you.

And with that, my leave of absence begins. Let's hope the Redskins defense's has ended....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fantasy Football Week 8 Mid-Season Awards

We've arrived. The mid-season awards. Probably my favorite awards post, because its fun to write and involves more sarcastic remarks than Lord Voldemort's twitter account.

I'll spend your time reviewing the status of the league, important roster changes and key strategies moving forward.

Lol, nahhhhh. I'll just make fun of the rest of league like I usually do. Gotta stick to what works!

As always, lets start at the bottom. Or, the:

Pauly Shore's Career Section:

Toms R Us- In an effort to reduce the amount of times I must say "sluts" in this blog, we'll refer to this team as "Toms R Us" moving forward. Little known fact about Tom's team, if you trade a player to Tom, that same fantasy player is traded to a child in a third world country! So trade away people!

Tom's team struggled from the start. Some might blame it on a poor draft, which was run by Ricky and myself in Tom's absence, but if you don't show up for the draft thats what you get. Fortunately for this team, Darren McFadden has come on strong this year and has single handedly resurrected his team from the ashes. No longer the sole holder of last place, Tom might be on the rebound. Unfortunately, a team that isn't on the rebound...

Golden Skulls- Creasman's squadron on fantasy dynamos got off to a promising start, winning week 1 convincingly and then losing the next two weeks by a combined 5 points. I thought his team was strong, but unlucky early on. Turns out it was just

Creasman has lost his last 4 matchups, seen his points per game drop and his points against increase. He made a (at the time) savvy trade, selling Greg Jennings for Anquan Boldin and getting Pierre Thomas among others. That, of course, was the week Packer's TE Jermichael Finley went down making Greg Jennings the number one target for my QB man-crush, Aaron Rodgers. I'd go on a date with him. Whatever.

Anyway, long story short Jennings is now a stud, and we find out that Pierre Thomas' injury is more serious than we thought and is effectively unusable at this time.

The good news? During the draft Creasman kept taking players I thought were semi-sleepers and were due for a big year. As it were, none of them panned out. So, that is GREAT news.....for me. Sorry, Creasman.

One additional note regarding our oldest member: His twitter followers have noticed an increase in cranky NFL related tweets. Especially those lambasting Redskins fans for tweeting during the games. You should know Creasman is an avid Indianapolis Colt's fan. And, to be honest, if you look at things from his perspective, you can understand his crankiness. You see, its very difficult rooting for Peyton Manning and the most consistently great team in the NFL this decade. I don't know what I'd do if my team won 10-14 games every year and routinely made the AFC Championship game or the Super Bowl.

The absolute indecency Redskins fans (myself included) showed to Creasy by tweeting about their struggling team, and the quarterback controversy that arose during a loss to the Lions (Think about that, a loss to the Lions) was almost inhumane considering Peyton Manning has been the Colts quarterback for, oh, say, 100 years. I can't believe that residents of the Washington D.C. Metro Area would use a form of social media to communicate with other residents of said area about the most popular sports team in, again, the aforementioned area. THE HUMANITY!!

On the Edge of the Cliff:

WheelsGoNonStop- Wheels suffered an unfortunate turn of events this week. After trading for Randy Moss and Ray Rice a week ago (and giving up Chris Johnson), we come to find Moss has been cut from the Vikings. I'm sure Gunst expected a resurgence in Moss' career when he returned to the team that drafted him and started playing with the grizzly old quarterbacker who shall remain nameless. Who saw him being cut three weeks later?

In all seriousness, Wheels' team is probably much better than his 3-5 record would show. Unfortunately, it was a series of mistimed trades that put him in this predicament. As mentioned before he traded for Moss who was waived this week. Who knows if he'll mail in the rest of the season because of it? More importantly, earlier this year, after Wheels realized the two quarterbacks he drafted (Kevin Kolb and Brett Favre) were huge disappointments, he traded with Neil for Tom Brady, giving up Reggie Wayne. The two weeks he started Tom Brady, Brady wasn't even the highest scoring QB on his team and Kyle Orton has easily surpassed him as the must-start fantasy QB week-to-week. With Orton performing so well Wheels essentially gave Wayne away for free. It looked to be a smart trade at the time, but now we're seeing the unfortunate results of uncertainty in fantasy football.

Not to mention, now that Randy Moss is in Tennessee he'll fill in as the deep threat and stretch the defenses so they can't stack eight in the box to stop the run. Expect the Tennessee running back to have an increase in yards per carry with one less defender in the box. That running back? Chris Johnson, recently traded to me from Wheels.

The Four-and-Four Teams, Mediocrity at It's Finest:

Pledge Prez Perry- Austin has never had a week where his score was between 80 or 100 points. Here are his week by week scores: 73, 121, 76, 78, 102, 111, 103, 61. Over 100, under 80. Not surprisingly, but whenever Austin has scored over 100 points he has won and whenever he scored under 80 he has lost.

What would you do without my statistical analysis? I'm like the Rain Man of fantasy football, minus the being a genius part.

B-Button Spin Move- Jimmy would kill me if I didn't spend the entirity of this space explaining his fluke loss to Noord last week. So here goes: Jimmy, coming into week 8, was in the top 2 for points scored. He matched up against Noord, who now ranks lowest in points against (I can take my focus off Ricky benefiting from that, and point out that Noord is now the "lucky" know, until it's someone else).  In the previous 6 weeks Jimmy's lowest score was 92 points, and he averaged 106 points per week. In that same time, Noord was averaging 99 points per week, 7 points (or effectively an entire player) less.

In their matchup, Jimmy's Steeler-heavy lineup (Big Ben and Hines Ward) was hurt by injury (Vernon Davis leaving after 1 catch for 12 yards). With the Steelers lacking any semblance of a passing offense last week, Jimmy's team struggled to get 54 total points. Meanwhile, Noord was having an especially mediocre week as well, posting 83 points (good for the 4th lowest total in the week). The team's he beat out? Jimmy, Creasman (the last place team) and Austin. Austin's team having two players post 0 points. That's some stiff competition...

Its not so much that Noord won, because Jimmy wasn't beating anybody with that score. It was the misguided trash talk that took place during, and after the game by both sides. Ultimately, Noord benefited from an opponents timely Bye week (Jimmy had Ahmad Bradshaw and Matt Forte on Bye) and his team did enough to win (aka, show up to the game).

Not much to brag about. Then again, what do I know?

Thats right: EVERYTHING!

deSPEcable me- My team. I don't need to tell you its the best managed team in the league, or that every loss I've incurred has been unjust and a complete fluke. Not to mention the weeks I post over 120 points are my normal weeks, and any week other than that is an anomaly. My team is like any team from New York. When I win its because I'm clearly superior to you. When I lose? Fughettaboutit. I'll smash ya head with a sewer lid if ya think ya betta than me! Dirty hippie.

Oh, just so you know I had Tony Romo on my team. Unfortunately, he now lacks the bones to hold his head up. That's why I'm starting Ryan Fitzpatrick. On second thought, maybe I won't be winning this league...or anymore games.

Touchdown Jesus- A true, middle of the pack team. I suspect that if Matt Schaub was performing up to his expectations this year Sam's record would be much better than 4-4. Unreliable quarterback play has limited his scoring potential and led to a few regrettable losses. After going on a three-game winning streak, followed by a three-game losing streak, Sam's team is like Charlie Sheen in a hotel second he's scoring at will, and the next he's lying naked on the floor breaking bottles of champagne yelling, "I am a good dresser! That bowling shirt cost me $200!!"

Team Ralph- Surprise, surprise. As I've mentioned in previous weeks I thought Ralph had a very strong team that was subject to untimely matchups. A few short weeks later he's sitting in 3rd place with a 4-4 record working on a three game win streak.

Now that his confidence has been boosted, we must destroy him. We all must destroy him.

Who Does Number Two Work For!?

Corn on the Schaub- Once again my predictions prove accurate. Ricky, after beating a bunch of teams who had trouble scoring (like Jimmy on a Friday night, hey-oh!), faced two consecutive teams that put up a reasonable amount of points and he lost both matchups. Slowly, he is coming back down to earth.

Fun fact: Ricky officially has only one player on his team that he originally drafted. Don't tell me he has commitment issues! He's the George Clooney of fantasy players. He trades in for a newer model every few weeks.

The Big Bear:

O Rak Rak Rakpo- Look, we all know a certain amount of luck goes into every fantasy success. The game is so unpredictable you can't plan for everything. After the draft I considered this one of the weakest drafted teams. I didn't like Cedric Benson or DeAngelo Williams (and, to be honest, both have failed to impress this year). I didn't like Percy "Migraine" Harvin or Chad "T" Ochocinco and I thought Desean Jackson would have a down year. Yet they've all pulled through for Noord when he needed it. At 7-1 it's a long shot he doesn't make the playoffs, but I'm not sure he'll make it there the number one seed. That seat is reserved for me, duh. I mean, we're talking about a guy who is starting Darren Sproles AND Danny Woodhead this week.  He's been starting Felix Jones and Danny Woodhead in past weeks as well. I mean, to say a large amount of luck isn't involved in this 7-1 record is ignorant. It's like when I try to convince you I'll win this league no matter what.

You know me, I'm like a Mike Shanahan press conference...full of excuses and made up stories as to why my team isn't undefeated. And I make it all about me.

Maybe I should be the one mismanaging the Redskins...