Friday, September 4, 2009

2009 WVFL Season Preview

Along with an abundance of tomatoes and people complaining about the setup of the league, Labor Day brings us the annual WVFL preview. Now that the draft hijinks are behind us, let’s look at who will make the playoffs, who will miss the playoffs and who’s fence riding like a kid who got the back belt loop of his jean shorts caught on the chainlink.

To the teams on this list, I’m sorry your season is already over before the Black Eyed Peas kick off the season Thursday, but you should be mad at yourself, not me. On another note, can we have any big event ever again without the Black Eyed Peas? They are the guacamole of television events.

The year was 2003. LaDanian Tomlinson was the best running back in fantasy and reality. Peyton Manning was the best quarterback. Easily-persuaded Americans thought Saddam had WMD. Now it’s 2009. Peyton is still pretty good, but The Bullet Train is pulling into the last station on the line, Saddam is dead and so is the 2009 version of the Elbow.

It’s fitting that Nate and LaDanian are together for one last run. One last, sure to be brutal run. The thing is, Nate knew he was making bad picks as he was making the picks. He was as incredulous as the rest of us that Antonio Bryant is his #1 receiver. The man can’t even name Antonio Bryant’s quarterback.

Thomas Jones is part of a three-man rotation, Nate Washington’s hamstring fell off in practice, Le’Ron McClain gained 30 pounds on coaches’ orders so he could play fullback and Marshawn Lynch has a four-game suspension to start the season.

But at least Nate and Tomlinson are back together, and he didn’t even have to rig the #1 overall pick to make it happen.

During the draft, there was some wonder as to whether this team was being drafted by Phil using an alias for some reason, or a colleague subbing in for Phil. Also, who is Phil? But there is no wonder as to the non-quality of this team. In reality, Jacobs and Slaton would be a great backfield tandem. Slaton could drive down the field and Jacobs could slam into the end zone. In fantasy reality, Jacobs and Slaton will probably just alternate disappointing weeks.

Colston will probably be great since I had him last year and he let me down, but the Terrell Owens first year with a new team magic is probably a thing of the past. At least in Buffalo. Hightower, Santana Moss, Driver and Chester Taylor will mainly combine to do nothing, but the Minnesota defense will be good. They’ll need to be 30 points good most week for the Pounders to win.

It doesn’t seem like Clint likes or follows football, and it’s definitely the case that he bails on his WVFL franchise by Week 5 each season, but he still shows up every season and pays his money to the winner. He is either a better person than me or a worse one, I can’t decide which. In a related story, Nate is his boss.

Clint packed it in earlier than ever this season, not even bothering to draft his team. Cauien floated an excuse that Clint is in Montana. Big Sky Country. MT. But he could be on Mt. Washington and still autodraft, so whatever. And autodraft, friends, is how you end up taking Brandon Marshall in round 4.

Steven Jackson and Frank Gore are big names, sure, but they’ve gone from top five picks two years ago to being on the same team. And Jackson’s QB at some point this season will be Kyle Boller after Marc Bulger schedules his annual injury.

The good news is, none of this really bothers Clint too much. Oh, reminder. If you want Greg Olsen on your team, get that trade offer in now, while the WVFL link is still in Clint’s browser history.

It could go either way for these teams. The sweet smell of success? Or the stank stink of stench? Only time will tell.

Although Barber and Addai seem average at best on paper, thanks to the Krogmann effect, they will probably both have 1500 yards and 15 TDs this season. That is, I had Addai last season and he was terrible, and I have Felix Jones this season and I would like to have him get on the field occasionally.

Jennings is destined to be a top 5 receiver this season and we all know how good Brees is. But this team is not without its holes. In fact, everywhere else in the lineup is a hole. Willie Parker’s useful fantasy season was a long time ago, Gonzalez is still more hype than results as of now and Hester still doesn’t know how to run anything but a go route.

But between the top four and the still aggravating Baltimore defense, this team should be able to slide into the playoffs barring catastrophe.

It is my hope that Old Man Tony sent a note to Caulen after the draft saying that even though he’s out of the house, he’s still a Kress and he still has to play by TK’s rules. Because Caulen was just plain old rude making fun of my draft picks. Doesn’t he know that I’m the one who mocks everybody else? Rude.

As usual, Caulen really likes his team and, as usual, he’s probably correct to. It’s just so uncanny. I mean, look at this guy! If you told most of the beefheads who have sales jobs and play fantasy football that somebody who looks like Andy Warhol’s more arty, less athletic cousin was great at this, they would throw their plastic bottle of Miller Lite at you.

However, this might be the year I finally outdo Caulen in football. Yes, beating him in hockey is pretty much a given at this point. I’m concerned with the oblong now, not the biscuit. Kevin Smith does have great hype this year, but he still plays for Detroit, and won’t be churning out yards as the Lions burn the second half clock too often. Pierre Thomas is already injured and McFadden, though explosive, faces the same game situation as Smith, plus three other backs competing for carries. But Fitzgerald and Royal are really good and McNabb is always good for half a season.

Still, the Dude does not abide by taking a defense in the sixth round. That stuff is amateur hour. You’re better than that, Caulen.

Goddamn, does Larry Johnson suck. I’ve actually watched a few Chiefs preseason games this year, for whatever reason, and the main thing I noticed was Matt Cassel running for his life on every play. I actually predicted he would get hurt at some point this season because the Chief line is so bad. And then he did. Johnson doesn’t have the speed or elusiveness or desire to turn a 3-yard loss into a 2-yard gain. Kansas City’s first game is in Baltimore and if Johnson has more than 3 points, consider me gobsmacked.

Of course, Jamal Lewis may get cut and Derrick Ward might only get eight carries a game, so Johnson could end up being the Bangers’ #2 back this season. All I can say is wow. And ouch.

On the plus side, Aaron Rodgers is the most popular guy at the party this summer and Reggie Wayne is still good. And Larry has the Green Bay defense, which is led by Dom Capers, who led the Blitzburgh defense in the mid-‘90s. And when that Dom Capers defense won the AFC Championship in 1995, I saw Larry cry and nearly fall out a 15th floor window as he yelled out of it. When we hugged, he grinded his beard into my cheek for some reason. So at least he’ll have those positive memories to fall back if the WBG struggles this season.

I have a weird history with running backs in this league. In 2006, I watched Tiki Barber run up and down the field, then come to the sidelines inside the 10. Tiki finished the year with 1800 total yards and 2 touchdowns. Why? Because Brandon Jacobs took them all. Jacobs had 9 TDs that year. In 2007, Tiki had retired, so I eagerly drafted new Giants starter Brandon Jacobs. He owed me. Jacobs then spent that season coming out of the game inside the 10 and finished with only 4 TDs. 2007 is also the year I managed to draft Frank Gore both one year too late and one year too soon. Last year, I took Joseph Addai fifth, which was enough to send Addai from a guy who was a lock top-6 pick to a guy who’s not even top-6 rounds this season. A friend of mine is a Bears fan and he literally offered to pay my league fee this year if I had a high pick and didn’t take Matt Forte.

But I didn’t have a high pick. I had a low pick. The lowest pick. So to me, passing on Frank Gore and Steve Slaton for possibly the two best receivers in the league was not that hard. Of Ray Rice, Cedric Benson, Leon Washington, Felix Jones and James Davis, one will be okay, two will get hurt, one will disappoint and one will be off my team by Week 3. But with Johnson, Moss and Rivers, I have the best passing game in the league in a year most people seem to think fantasy football officially switches to a receiver-driven game. We shall see.

And if Rice and Benson turn out to be even average starters…look out playoffs! If not, believe me, I know how to deal with missing the playoffs. Like the year I had the 5th most points in the league and finished 8th out of 10 teams total. Man, the WVFL and I have had some crazy times.

Sexy good times are probably ahead for these teams, party boy!

Dreampads is back but not better than ever, because nobody can match that 2007 season, but he’s probably still pretty good. Calvin Johnson is so good than people are willing to ignore that he plays for Detroit. Vincent Jackson is really coming on. Whenever Chris Wells finally seizes the bulk of the carries from Tim Hightower, DFA is really going to be something to deal with.

I wish I had something pithy to say here, but the good teams, like Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres) don’t lend themselves to jokes too much. Hey, what’s the deal with helping people with AIDS and malaria free of charge? See? It’s hard.

If I had the #2 overall pick, I would’ve taken Forte. I like him that much. Portis is boring, but solid, at least early on, and Houshmanzadeh is the same. Uh…let’s see, what else? If Berrian can figure out how to catch balls in triple coverage, he’ll have a big year with Favre, and even though I seem to be the last person in America to still doubt Roddy White, everybody else likes him.

Roethlisberger is better in the fourth quarter of real games than the fantasy realm, and Crabtree would be a keeper, yes, if this was the year we started keepers. Tony won’t do it, but if I had him, I would start LeSean McCoy in week one. Side note, is McCoy the first guy ever to have double capitalization in both of his names? Oh wait, I forgot about former Washington Senator outfielder McDouglass McCrackers.

Let me just say upfront that I think this team is terrible, even by autodraft standards. But I’ve counted out Skip Henry and been wrong too many times to have not learned a lesson. I do know that one Steeler is not nearly enough to slake Henry’s black and gold thirst, but I can’t figure out who I would trade SanAntonio Holmes for. Maybe Chris Johnson, but I’ve had my fill of backs who only play 80 percent of the field.

Kurt Warner and Brian Westbrook will probably get hurt in the same week and Bowe and Hines will have weeks where they don’t combine for 10 points. Jonathan Stewart can’t stay healthy and Torry Holt is old. There is nothing good about this team.

Expect Brookline to clinch a bye week.

Heading into the season, this looks like the best team in the whole shebangle. Though, personally, I do believe that Michael Turner will disappoint. Atlanta is due to drop back a little, the majority of his points last year came in a handful of games against creamy cupcakes and somebody on that line is bound to get hurt this year, which didn’t happen last year. Plus, as TK can attest, the Curse of 370 is real.

Speaking of injury risks, everybody says Matt Schaub is fragile and I watched him sprain his ankle running out of bounds untouched, so everybody might be right. But if those guys hold up, this team is lethal. The biggest problem will be figuring out who to start at flex, and because I’m generous, I’ll give them this cheat sheet right now.
MORENO – Not that often because Denver will be getting killed every week.
EVANS – Only when too drunk to watch Evans play.
JONES – Never
SPROLES – When Tomlinson gets hurt again.

Even the Jets defense will be good with one of those chubby Ryans running the show. You know, when it comes to football family trees, the Ryans and Kresses are pretty different.

I pretty much burned out my collection of Ayn Rand/libertarian jokes last season, so I’d better come up with something new this season. Or, I could follow Rand’s own tome and stop writing this junk, thereby proving my intrinsic value to the league. Hey, my health insurance is fine! Why should anybody else get some if I don’t need it?!

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnyway, right now, Alex Smith is New England’s 4th string tight end and will probably be cut. That is this team’s only problem. Oh sure, Wild Ronnie Cat Brown won’t repeat his performance of last year, but he should be decent at least. And Kevin Walter is probably a better flex play than Reggie Bush, but Peterson, Cutler, Welker and Boldin should rack up enough points on a weekly basis to keep Atlas shrugging.

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