Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 AFFL Season Preview

For years, I've graced my other league with a season preview in which I've laid out each team's playoff chances, as well as weekly previews predicting the outcome of each game. (Spoiler alert: I usually like my team the best)

Last year, I had 5 out of our 6 playoff teams pegged correctly (nailing 4 positions dead on) and my weekly picks record was something like 55-28. This proves definitively that I am a genius and that I have mastered a completely worthless skill. What could be more American?

I didn't do an AFFL preview last year because I didn't know half of the league;s owners and all I could tell was that Christian left turds in the team's front office before quitting the league. Oh, and also that Brian Williams was somehow the only guy with superstars that cost him under $1.50. This year, I still don't know half the owners, and I don't even like the ones I do, but at least I have things figured out. So! Not asked for and probably not cared about, I present the 2012 AFFL Season Preview. (All predictions legally binding in perpetuity throughout the universe)

Think of this as Jeff Ross previewing your team, except if Jeff Ross was dazzingly handsome and athletic like myself.

Fortunately, the Michael Bush for a 12th round pick trade came down moments before I started writing, so I didn't have to set my first draft on fire. Brian Barker sent out the call for a running back and by objective measures, he succeeded. Subjectively, eh.

Franchise player Rashard Mendenhall is pretty cheap for a franchise guy, though expensive for a guy who doesn't actually play and isn't very good. If his salary was based on number of spin moves, he'd be the most expensive player in the league. (Full disclosure: Before last season, I offered Peterson for Mendenhall and was rejected. The rare trade that wouldn't have worked out for either team)

Between Bush and Blount, Sproles and Spiller, this team has the market cornered on handcuff backs, so hopefully Desean Jackson and Roddy White perform up to their high salaries. Between those two and Cruz, this team's weekly points chart is going to look like an EKG. A lot of 65 point weeks followed by 105. But they'll get Robert Griffin Junior Junior on a long-term contract, which will help with marketing and shirt sales.

This might be the only team to release 5 running backs on cutdown day. Goddamn Backfield of Depressing Dreams lined up.

PLAYOFFS? Maybe one year. Not this year.

Animal House clipped my very next draft pick in three different rounds last week, so on that alone I respect them. And because I respect them, I would like to kill them. Like a small-mouth bass or a 12-point buck, to put it in Western PA terms. Between Jammal Charles and Ryan Mathews, Animal House has the All-Paper All-Stars, though perhaps there's a perverse thrill in watching Charles sprint down to the 10-yard line, get shoved out of bounds and then stay out of bounds as Peyton Hillis comes in. And based on every summer's fantasy projection, Ryan Mathews is going to retire in 2014 with 2200 career rushing yards and somehow end up in Hall of Fame discussions.

There is going to be a week this year when Kenny Britt and Dwayne Bowe alone win the week for Animal House, though there will be several other weeks where Britt is injured, suspended, benched or some combo of the three. He keeps it interesting, I'll give him that much.

If Charles can get back to speed and Mathews actually plays this year, this team could make some noise. But Brady and the receiving corps should at least get them into the news come December.

PLAYOFFS? Yes, but not a lot of playoffs. Just a dash of playoffs.

The CR has 3 different players who cost at least $2 (and Calvin JUST misses), and yet they'll have another $2 of cap space to start the season. I can't tell if this is impressive or concerning. It's like hearing what number Romney's actual tax payments are. I guess that's the fun with numbers you can have when Roy Helu is your RB2 even though he's the NFL's RB42. It has to be a thrill ride watching a Redskins offensive possession when you need Helu points. "No! Why are they subbing out every single snap?! I'm tired of Alfred Morris!!!"

Chesty didn't have a 2nd round or 5th round pick this year, which partially created this Kardashian-like lack of depth, but in the heat of trying to reach .500 and the 2011 playoffs' 5 seed, regretful decisions are made on the fly.

Larry Fitzgerald had better enjoy his last season with this team, which will be running as many one back sets as his own Arizona Cardinals. This team might even see Randall Cobb make a few a starts. That being Green Bay's 5th receiving option, and not famed actor Randall "Tex" Cobb, who frightened us all as the heavy in Raising Arizona and also Fletch Lives.

PLAYOFFS? The Barkers will able to watch the Week 14 games together without a care in the world.

Every time I start to think I'm figuring out this league, I stumble across something like a team having a kicker on a 2-year contract and panic, figuring that there must be something I'm not getting. I mean...this team is bi-managed and has been around a lot longer than me, so the Occam's Razor here (ie, "That is a bad contract") can't be right.

What IS right, though, is having Aaron Rodgers locked up permanently for $1.07. That is so, so right. McGahee could be nice, Gronk is a good value at $1.07 for receiver-type numbers, and the Niner defense should be good for some turnovers. Unfortunately, that spoonful of rightness was only a sidebar before I have to delve back into what's wrong. There is so, so much.

By the time Jahvid Best actually plays this year, MRN might be formally eliminated from the playoffs. Frank Gore is old and slow, and Mark Ingram is young and slow. Laurent Robinson was useless with a maybe decent young quarterback on a shitty team, so I'm not sure how moving to a shitty team with a certainly bad quarterback helps. Kendall Wright is a sleeper who will not wake up any time in 2012.

It's fitting that this team has 3 different Niners on it (Gore/Moss/DST), because like the Niners, they will not come anywhere close to last year's 13-win season.

PLAYOFFS? Potentially the only fantasy team in America on which Aaron Rodgers won't make the playoffs.

Neil Armstrong's death didn't bring out as many conspiracy theorists as Gary landing the #1 pick this year. All I know is that I received a flurry of emails with a draft order, then another draft order where I was suddenly picking top 3, then an email about a lottery system that we could all watch happen together, then an email that the lottery was over and Gary magically had the #1 overall pick despite missing the 2011 playoffs by a single game. Oh by the way, this all in a year where the consensus #1 pick in a very thin draft is a running back and by the way, Gary needed a running back, and by the by the way, Gary already had 2 quarterbacks. The rules for Calvinball weren't this made up.

(Also, only the 1st round is decided by lottery and the rest of the draft settles back into order of standings? What the hell is that?)

With Ryan, McFadden, Rice, Bradshaw and Kevin Smith (for about 3 weeks) in the mix, this is a pretty interesting team. Interesting enough to overcome a total lack of wide receivers. Though I did enjoy that Gary drafted Alshon Jeffery without even knowing how to spell his name. Too bad he didn't take Ray Reiss #1 overall.

Also, this is extremely petty, but in the updated team sheet released today, Gary labeled a section Two Tear Contracts. I assume this is where you put the guys who broke your heart. Yeah, that's right. You enter 150+ players into a fully-automated spreadsheet that breaks down contracts in half a second, but make two little typos and I mock you. Such is life.

PLAYOFFS? For sure. Which somehow won't rule out Gary landing the 2013 #1 pick.

This is a good team with a great owner. Christian left a few pieces in place (Green, A.J.), but also left a lot of detritus in his wake. After cleaning out last year's bad ideas and cap penalties, now the ISIS is ready to roll. (Or fly. I think the mythical Isis was a bird, not a truck.) 

Adrian Peterson's rebuilt knee is going to determine whether my team is just really good or truly amazing this season. The biggest problem I'm going to have is figuring out which of my five #1 receivers deserve the start each week. Unless Cedric Benson is mildly functional, in which case my main issue is going to be keeping my weekly score under 150 so I don't seem showy.

Also, MJD? Don't come back. Me and Rashad Jennings are getting along nicely and really don't need you getting in the way.

PLAYOFFS? Yes, all of the playoffs.

Despite going 2-12 with the fewest points scored in 2011, Out For Revenge only managed to land the #2 draft pick. I don't know what he did, but it seems like the universe is out for revenge against Bill McCamey.

After putting said pick up on the trade block, Bill fended off any and all offers for that pick like a Kansas Republican fending off free condoms. Then, despite having 3 running backs under contract and a metric shit ton of cap space, Bill passed on Brady and Brees in favor of Trent Richardson. Now, I get the idea of eventually franchising Richardson, but Cleveland running backs follow one of three career arcs:
     - They fumble in a huge game (like Earnest Byner)
     - They put up their best seasons in Baltimore (like Jamal Lewis)
     - They are the best player in the league before retiring to become an actor and civil rights activist (both Jim Brown AND William Green)
     - They suck (like all of the other ones)

But, in fairness, Richardson is already ahead of the rookie curve in one sense. He already has his first knee injury. Behind him, Out For Revenge boasts a full stable of backup running backs. But at least the receivers are also second options on their teams, so there won't be any ugly locker room division, like when Greg Lloyd almost beat up Neil O'Donnell because he was tired of the defense carrying the Steelers. This team is so colossally bad that I hope that Bill has a good job and rich, fulfilling personal life so he can focus on the positive this fall.

PLAYOFFS? No. Possibly not ever.

I have so, so, so many questions about this franchise, and they are coming to me so quickly that all I can do is capture them with a James Joyce stream of consciousness-style.

Did Timmy try to change his team name to Boots To Asses and just didn't do it right Why is it that last year he demanded a 2nd round pick in exchange for Sam Bradford only to cut Bradford later Why is it that he wouldn't even hear offers for Mike Wallace last year, but threw him on the trading block this year Why did he take 7 full minutes to make his 2nd round pick, Phillip Rivers, whom he is now offering to every team in the league How in the world is he getting this roster under the salary cap Why did he take Michael Turner with the 3rd overall pick when literally skipping the pick would've been a better option Why did he take a kicker in the 3rd round How good is he thinking San Diego is going to be if 3 Chargers were among his first 5 picks Did he think Robert Meachem was still on New Orleans

Whew. Time for a deep breath.

PLAYOFFS? Come on, don't be rude.

If this was fantasy rugby and Bri could just put guys who run with the ball on the field, he would run away with his title. But at some point he's going to have to put a wide receiver on the field, and right now he's the only football team owner in America who has Plaxico Burress anywhere near a field. And the thing is, Bri really needs to enjoy this season, because Foster (or McCoy) and Stafford are going to have new addresses in 2013. If it's been frustrating trying to get what he thinks is proper value for Stafford, I can't imagine how much hair will be pulled out if he tries to move Arian or Shady. Probably lots, as Bri is a pretty furry guy.

But at some point Stafford is going to be traded for a #1 wide receiver, although a Google search for AFFL teams that want a QB and have WR depth to spare has quite limited results. In fact, it might only be me. Sorry, Bri.

PLAYOFFS? Oh, for sure

I can't even imagine how exciting it must have been to franchise Chris Johnson at only $0.88. So I can only imagine how frustrating last season was for The Knight. Probably as frustrating as sitting through one more season of Steven Jackson at $3.36. (Fun fact! Jackson is THE most expensive player in the entire league)

On the plus side, Ben is going to have a huge year between Todd Haley, no real running backs, and the freedom to call his own plays. AND the inevitable Week 9 sideline screamfest between Ben and Haley will be lots of fun. If there's even a tiny bounce back from Chris Johnson and Beanie, and Jennings and Welker do what they should, and Mike Williams plays more like his 1st year and not his 2nd, this team could do a little something mild.

Side note: As much as I know about the NFL (almost everything + infinity squared), I have NO idea who Leonard Hankerson is. But the WR-WAS next to his name tells me he can't be very good.


This roster is so hilarious and screwy right now that if I didn't know Larry and semi-respect him and speak with him regularly, my review of his team would make the Sigmund review look like a hagiography. But in the interest of fairness and hilarity, let's take an honest look at what's going on here.

First, this team is $4.63 over the cap, far and away the most into the red. His franchise player is super expensive, holding out with no sympathy from his NFL team, and didn't help all that much last year, even when leading the league in rushing. Felix Jones is under contract, even though he's barely still signed in Dallas. There are FOUR quarterbacks on the roster. Larry apparently loves crowded confusion so much that he drafted DeAngelo Williams (1 of 3 backs in Carolina) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (too many name words). He wanted Doug Martin so badly that he took him in the first round, thereby giving him a salary raise before a single snap.

The crazy thing is, with things breaking the right way, this could be a decent team. All Larry has to do is figure out the right QB or two to keep, get Nicks, Rice and Steve Johnson to perform as they should, and get something out of this running back mess. Oh, and sign Brian Quick to a 2-year contract. That guy is probably good luck.

UPDATE! Maurice Jones-Drew is officially on the block! If you're looking for a franchise player that costs almost $3 and doesn't actually play, boy, does Larry have the guy for you!

PLAYOFFS? Looking like it.

Having Tim Tebow as a franchise player - when even an actual NFL franchise didn't consider him one - is so hilarious that I'm going be sorry when Scott cuts Tebow and picks a new main dude. I guess the next FP will be Antonio Brown, which isn't even 1/16th as exciting or fun. It's sensible and good, which is super boring in fantasy football.

Scott somehow squirted his way into the title game last year after an 8-6 regular season, and figuring it's better to be lucky than good, decided to rely on a backfield of Reggie Bush and Donald Brown, with Alfred Morris getting the occasional 8-carry start. He also drafted two Jets receivers despite the fact that the Jets have yet to score a preseason touchdown. (Update: Their 3rd string got one tonight)

I...i unno. This team sucks. What else do you want from me? I've written half a book here.

PLAYOFFS? Prognosis negative.