Monday, November 29, 2010

The Gravy Boat

When my wife and I got married. We made a conscious, calculated decision to save some of our gift cards for the holidays so that we could spoil each other a bit without breaking the bank.

I've always tried to have a well-rounded Christmas for my wife where she gets a book, some clothes, a couple of fun things, some things she wants, and then the big surprise gift that just blows her away and makes her say..."oh wow, I was NOT expecting this. You are soooooo thoughtful, funny, cool" you get the idea.

Last year, I hit a home run. No, not the gravy boat, I'll get to that in a  minute.

Shortly before we moved, we started playing with the Super Nintendo that my parents had passed off to me when they moved out of my boyhood home. It mostly sat in a box un-played collecting dust. For some strange reason, we decided to pull it out and start playing games on it again. Mostly Mario Brothers. One of the signature games for the Super Nintendo that my family never had was Mario Kart. These days, you can find one of those games at a fairly inexpensive price on eBay. So, I found it, bought it, and gave it to her for Christmas. Home run. I pretty much expect all my gifts to be home runs. Such was the case with the gravy boat.

When we were engaged, we registered at several different places, one being Crate and Barrel in part because my office (at that time) was close to one. After the dust settled and the gifts stopped coming, we had a little bit of money left over on our Crate and Barrel gift card. So I told her I'd run over there and take a look. Before I did that, I looked at our wedding registry to see if there was anything that we didn't have that we really wanted. It popped off the page. The beautiful, white gravy boat that nobody had gotten us. How could they/we have missed such an oversight? I would not let Christmas pass with us gravy-boat less. As I stared at it in all of its $14.99 glory, I thought of my wife's reaction when she opened it on Christmas morning. The happy-surprised expression on her face would say it all. This, was a surefire home run.

Getting the gravy boat was a bit of a challenge. I had to make three separate trips to Crate and Barrel to secure the crown jewel of my wife's Christmas. On the second and third trips, I called in advance to make sure they had it and I was assured they did. Both times I came up empty, but I had someone dig one out of the back. Finally, the gravy boat was ready to come home and sit under our tree until the big day.

Christmas morning finally came. I placed the gift towards the back so that it would be one of the last things that would be opened. As the wrapping paper flew and the gifts were open, I could barely contain my excitement. Finally she got to the gravy boat. She peeled back the paper, opened the box and there it was...I could swear there was a bright light emitting from it, that's how cool I thought it was and how excited I was for her to open it. "Oh, neat," she said.

Neat?

"Yeah, you know it's from our registry, pretty cool that I remembered huh?"

"Yeah, that's nice. Okay, your turn."

Apparently, the gravy boat was not the out of the park home run I thought it would be. She thought it was nice, but how often do we really serve gravy? It was not the make or break Christmas gift I thought it would be...so you could say that rather than a home run, it was more of a bunt...it gets you on base, but not in impressive fashion.

Some friends of ours got a kick out of this story when we told them a few years ago.

Guess what they got for Christmas?



Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Treat Threshold

It starts with Halloween, and it ends with Valentines day. We are currently right in the middle of the parade of treats. It happens every year, and you know what I'm talking about don't you? The weather gets a little cooler, the clothes we wear might be a bit more baggy and there will be more of them...so it becomes less necessary to be in shape perse. Oh sure, we have a shape, but it usually goes from a cucumber to a pear...or in my case, a small pear to a big pear!

The thing I've noticed about this time of year is that every holiday or occasion usually involves a treat of some kind. The problem is, by the time you've consumed too much, it's too late. You have passed the treat threshold!

Let's take some of my favorite treats individually and break down their threshold, shall we?

Halloween:






Candy Corn - Candy corn is one of those treats that used to be seasonal. These days you get pastel candy corn at Easter and red, white, and blue on the fourth of July. However, most treat purists such as myself reserve candy corn for Halloween, the holiday for which it was intended. Candy corn is often grabbed by the handfuls and shoved into ones mouth. By then, it's too late. A few handfuls later, your belly aches and your mouth feels like you'll never be able to get all the sugar off your teeth.

Reece's Peanut Butter Cups - I'm pretty sure I could eat these year round, and I often do. In fact, I requested a peanut butter cup cake for my birthday this week. It was yuuuuuuummmmmmmy! While there may be a threshold for this treat, I will choose to ignore it because it is so good!

Thanksgiving:

Chocolate Moose Pie - This is another one where you really have to ask yourself, is too much of a good thing a bad thing? Let's be honest with each other here, by the time you get to pie on Thanksgiving, you're already stuffed. You just do it because it is the big payoff at the end of a good meal. I think there's some part of each of us also that sees 1, maybe 2 pieces of pie left that makes us say "I must have." Once that second piece of pie is consumed, immediate regret follows. Eat one piece of pie this thanksgiving, you'll thank me later!

Christmas:

Sugar Cookies - Again, something that we see throughout the year, but somehow the idea that we're making them for Santa and the Reindeer, makes it okay for us to eat and eat and eat annnnnnnd eat! And the frosting on these? Get right out of town! It is fantastic!

Divinity - True to its name, divinity is quite divine. These small white puffy treats seem relatively innocuous, but eat 7 or 8 of them and you'll be feeling the pain.



Valentines Day:

Message Hearts - Much like candy corn, this seasonal treat is consumed by the handful, often rendering the eater too late once he or she has eatin too many. Not only do these hearts say "Text Me" they also say "roll me out of here!"

So there you have it, the treat threshold. If eatin in proper amounts, these treats can all be quite tasty and useful, but if overeatin, hello couch, hello cavities, hello hurtin! You'll spend the next 6 months wishing you had listened to me as you run on that treadmill. Don't cross the treat threshold!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Who Needs Vegas?

If you ever go to the suburbs of Las Vegas, stop by a grocery store and take a look at the people playing the slots there. First of all, it is a grocery store, so you've got people that are too lazy to actually go to a casino to gamble. Second, they're usually smoking. Third, there is just a general misery to that horseshoe of slot and video poker machines area.

Why am I telling you this?

I fear that I am heading down a bad path, and I fear that if they ever place smaller versions of Chuck E Cheese in grocery stores, as they do in Vegas with casinos, I may turn into even more of a degenerate Chuck E Cheeser than I already am.

Several weeks ago, my wife and I decided to take our two-year-old to Chuck E Cheese. It was a big hit, so we decided that it would be a good idea to make Chuck E Cheese a reward for successful use of the potty (it's a big deal, trust me).

The problem is that now, my wife and I are having just as much fun as our daughter and I am becoming a bit of a Chuck E Cheese junkie. Tickets and tokens are my drug of choice...and I can't get enough.

Chuck E Cheese really is kind of a mini Las Vegas, with much more on the line. More you say? Yes! Let me explain! In Vegas, you win or lose money. Fine. It's yours, no big deal. Sure, you might have some explaining to do when your wife sees $1,000 less in the bank account, but other than that, no big deal. At Chuck E Cheese, it's more of a "who is the best dad" competition. These kids rely on us dads to "help" them win these games so that they might claim their prize at the end of the evening. I must win tickets, and lots of them.

First up, the Football toss. 3 holes, 1 minute, rack up the points. CLANG, BANG, POW....2 throws made it in...two tickets. The game proudly proclaims "ROOKIE!"

Next up, Skeeball. 30,000, 40,000, 50,000...now this, is my game! 300,000 points later, 6 tickets pour out of the machine. I'm feeling like a winner until I look to my right and see little Sally knocking down 50k a throw and out-ticketing me at least 2-1. Ugh.

Game after game it's a struggle to win tickets. At the end of the night, 132 tickets later, my two-year-old gets a bracelet and a ring. Other dads are cashing in their 1,000s of tickets for new cars, bikes, dolls, Wiis etc...and I'm just glad my kid hasn't noticed. She'll settle for some plastic jewelry and cotton candy. But that competitive fire within me burns and I know that next time will be better!

It was. Problem now is, I've got a Chuck E Cheese addiction. I'm playing the chance games and winning  big. There is a Deal or No Deal Machine there and when I play, I draw a crowd. Every time I am offered a "deal" for tickets, I look to the audience for guidance. Sure, they're off playing other games, but it makes me feel good as I slam the "No Deal" button.

Now that I've figured it all out, I must go back....soon! So maybe I sneak a sticker or two on to my kid's potty chart to get her to her "reward" faster...whatever helps me scratch that ticket itch I say!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hiatus Over

Well...it's been quite some time since I posted my NFL picks. We're now nearly 5 weeks in and most of the teams in the league are pretty even...but I'll save that for another post. September was essentially postless for me due to a number of different factors, but I will try to get back to blogging as the calendar rolls towards my favorite time of the year, fall.

Over the last few weeks I've had a few experiences and have been able to observe a number of things that should make for good blog topics, so hopefulyl you will enjoy. Plus, I've got to update you on all my fantasy football successes and failures and help prepare you to make that all-important playoff run. I'd like to think that the weekly column will return on Friday, but who knows. As I said, I'm back in the saddle and looking forward to more fun and excitement coming from the blog.

Your humble servent,

The Loose Change Guy

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 NFL Predictions

With the season kicking off tonight, I thought I'd go ahead and make some picks of my own because...I have a blog and this is the kind of thing blogs are for! :)

AFC

East - New England
Wild Card - Miami
Bold Prediction - Riding high off of their season of Hard Knocks, the Jets will miss the playoffs. The schedule and inexperience at QB will do them in as their coach and several players on the team continue to place a rather large target on their collective backs.

North - Baltimore
Wild Card - None
Bold Prediction - The fact that there is no wild card coming out of this division is bold enough. I think the Ravens will claw their way to a 10-6 or 9-7 finish and the Bengals and Steelers will miss the playoffs with records of 8-8 or better.

South - Indianapolis
Wild Card - Houston
Bold Prediction - Not only will Houston make the playoffs out of this division, they'll win a playoff game as well! (not to spoil my picks!)

West - San Diego
Wild Card - None
Bold Prediction - Kansas City will keep itself in the playoff discussion all season long, but will miss out with an 8-8 record, which will be a vast improvement over previous seasons.


NFC

West - San Francisco
Wild Card - None
Bold Prediction - The 49ers will break through this year and will not only win their division, they'll get a first round bye and host a second round playoff game with a record of 11-5 or 12-4.

South - New Orleans
Wild Card - None
Bold Prediction - The Saints will be this division's first repeat champion in a long time and the Panthers under Matt Moore will finish second and remain in the playoff discussion all year long, but miss out by a hair at the end. If there were a 7th team I could put in the playoffs, it'd be Carolina.

North - Green Bay
Wild Card - Minnesota
Bold Prediction - Green Bay will win the division and will split in the regular season with Minnesota. Brett Favre will see his career come to an end at Lambeau field. Also, Detroit will finish with a better record than Chicago.

East - New York Giants
Wild Card - Washington Redskins (my homer pick)
Bold Prediction - When the Redskins and Giants lock horns on January second, it will be for the division crown. The Giants will edge the Redskins, but the Skins will finish 9-7 and sneak into the playoffs under first year head coach Mike Shanahan. Dallas will miss the playoffs because of divisional tie breakers and both Wade Philips and Jason Garret will be fired in an attempt to bring in Bill Cower, who will spurn the Cowboys to coach in Carolina.

Playoffs:

AFC Wild Card

Miami @ Baltimore - Baltimore
Houston @ New England - Houston

NFC Wild Card

Washington @ Green Bay - Green Bay
Minnesota @ New York - Minnesota

AFC Divisional

Houston @ Indianapolis - Indianapolis
Baltimore @ San Diego - Baltimore (Norv Turner gets fired)

NFC Divisional

Minnesota @ San Francisco - Minnesota
Green Bay @ New Orleans - Green Bay

AFC Championship

Baltimore @ Indianapolis - Indianapolis

NFC Championship

Minnesota @ Green Bay - Green Bay (I told you Brett Favre's career would end in Lambeau!)

Superbowl






VS.






And your Super Bowl Winner: The Indianapolis Colts

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Welcome to Homeownership!

We woke up on Sunday morning to find that our water, which had previously been working just fine, was not working at all. After a visit from the service authority, it was determined to be a plumbing problem. Nothing like having the water go out on a holiday weekend.

Welcome to homeownership!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Consensus Top Kickers for 2010 Fantasy Football

The only advice I can offer here is to take a kicker in the last round.

Ryan Longwell, K MIN

Nate Kaeding, K SD
Stephen Gostowski, K NE
David Akers, K PHI
Garret Hartley, K NO
Mason Crosby, K GB
Rob Bironas, K TEN
Jay Feely, K AZ
Robbie Gould, K CHI
Matt Prater, K DEN
Lawrence Tynes, K NYG
Shayne Grham, K BAL
Neil Rackers, K ARI
Jeff Reed, K PIT
Joe Nedney, K SF

Consensus Top Defenses for 2010 Fantasy Football

I'm going to start this post out with some free advice. Don't let someone else dictate the pace of your draft. I believe this advice is particularly important as we head into the final two sets of rankings with Defenses and Kickers. Inevitably, someone will take a defense starting in round 7-8. Do not fall into this trap! While important, defenses are very unpredictable and more often than not, the ones you think will be outstanding don't produce nearly at the level they should based on where you select them. My philosophy is to take a defense in the second to last round. I suspect you'll replace your defense at least twice this year (once for a bye and once because it underperformed). Don't lose value at other positions to take a chance on a defense.

That said, here are the rankings:

  1. NYJ Defense
  2. Minnesota Defense
  3. Baltimore Defense
  4. Philadelphia Defense
  5. Dallas Defense
  6. Pittsburgh Defense
  7. Green Bay Defense
  8. San Francisco Defense
  9. New Orleans Defense
  10. Cinncinatti Defense
  11. Giants Defense
  12. Chicago Defense
  13. New England Defense
  14. San Diego Defense
  15. Arizona Defense
  16. Denver Defense
  17. Indianapolis Defense
  18. Miami Defense
  19. Cleveland Defense
  20. Washington Defense
 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Consensus Top TEs for 2010 Fantasy Football

A solid TE is like a solid QB, you put him in your line up every week without hesitation and you forget about him. This year's TE group presents an interesting situation for you as a fantasy owner. Dallas Clark and Antonio Gates lead the way as the elite TEs. More often than not, they're going to give you WR1 type numbers. However, the TE position in general is as deep as it has been in years, with risers like Brent Celek, Jermichael Finley and some veterans out to prove they've still got it like Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez and Chris Cooley. The good news is that regardless of where you draft your TE, you're going to probably get a solid one. You just need to keep in mind that you don't have to reach for a Gates or a Clark because a Celek or a Witten might still be there in a later round, allowing you to bolster other positions.

Consensus TE Rankings:

  1. Dallas Clark, TE IND
  2. Antonio Gates, TE SD
  3. Vernon Davis, TE SF
  4. Brent Celek, TE PHI
  5. Tony Gonzalez, TE ATL
  6. Jason Witten, TE DAL
  7. Jermichael Finley, TE GB
  8. Kellen Winslow, TE TB
  9. Owen Daniels, TE HOU
  10. Chris Cooley, TE WAS
  11. Zac Miller, TE OAK
  12. Visanthe Shiancoe, TE MIN
  13. John Carlson, TE SEA
  14. Heath Miller, TE PIT
  15. Greg Olsen, TE CHI
  16. Jeremy Shockey, TE NO
  17. Dustin Keller, TE NYJ
  18. Kevin Boss, TE NYG
  19. Todd Heap, TE BAL
  20. Mercedes Lewis, TE JAC
  21. Ben Watson, TE CLE

 

Consensus Top WRs for 2010 Fantasy Football

Last year there was major emphasis put on landing an elite Wide Receiver. While drafting guys like Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson paid off for the most part, there were still others who did not live up to expectations like Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson. We also saw the emergence of a few new studs at WR in Miles Austin, Steve Smith (NYG), and Vincent Jackson. This season, there are some old faces in new places that hope to make a splash like Brandon Marshall in Miami or Anquon Boldin in Baltimore. One thing is for sure though, there is a lot of WR depth this year...not all of that is elite depth mind you, so you'll want to try and grab a top guy early, but there is plenty of talent to be had.

Consensus WRs for 20210:

  1. Andre Johnson, WR HOU
  2. Randy Moss, WR NE
  3. Reggie Wayne, WR IND
  4. Larry Fitzgerald, WR ARI
  5. Calvin Johnson, WR DET
  6. Roddy White, WR ATL
  7. Miles Austin, WR DAL
  8. Brandon Marshall, WR MIA
  9. Greg Jennings, WR GB
  10. Marques Colston, WR NO
  11. Desean Jackson, WR PHI
  12. Steve Smith, WR CAR
  13. Anquon Boldin, WR BAL
  14. Steve Smith, WR NYG
  15. Chad OchoCinco, WR CIN
  16. Mike Simms Walker, WR JAC
  17. Michael Crabtree, WR SF
  18. Hines Ward, WR PIT
  19. Dwayne Bowe, WR KC
  20. Wes Welker, WR NE
  21. Donald Driver, WR GB
  22. Jeremy Maclin, WR PHI
  23. Percy Harvin, WR MIN
  24. Hakeem Nicks, WR NYG
  25. Santana Moss, WR WAS
  26. Pierre Garcon, WR IND
  27. Mike Wallace, WR PIT
  28. Steve Breston, WR ARI
  29. TJ Houshmenzahdeh, WR SEA
  30.  Robert Mecham, WR NO
  31.  Malcom Floyd, WR SD
  32. Johnny Knox, WR CHI
  33. Derrick Mason, WR BAL
  34. Terrell Owens, WR CIN
  35. *Santonio Holmes, WR NYJ
  36. *Vincent Jackson, WR SD
  37. Lee Evans, WR BUF
  38. Kenny Britt, WR TEN
  39. Dez Bryant, WR DAL
  40. Devin Aromashodu, WR CHI
  41. Devin Hester, WR CHI
  42. Jericho Cotcherry, WR NYJ
  43. Braylon Edwards, WR NYJ
  44. Nate Burleson, WR DET
  45. Chris Chambers, WR KC
  46. Chaz Shillens, WR OAK
  47. Kevin Walter, WR HOU
  48. Bernard Berrian, WR MIN
  49. Early Doucet, WR ARI
  50. Austin Collie, WR IND
  51. Eddie Royal, WR DEN
  52. Jabbar Gaffney, WR DEN
  53. Mario Manningham, NYG
  54. Mohamed Massaqui, WR CLE
  55. Roy E. Williams, WR DAL
  56. Devery Henderson, WR NO
  57. Mike Williams, WR TB
  58. Golden Tate, WR SEA
  59. Jacoby Jones, WR HOU
  60. Louis Murphy, WR OAK
  61. Demarius Thomas, WR DEN
  62. Laurent Robinson, WR STL
  63. Dexter McCluster, WR KC
  64. Antonio Bryant, WR FA
  65. Davon Bess, WR MIA
  66. Josh Morgan, WR SF
  67. Anthony Gonzalez, WR IND
  68. Nate Washington, WR TEN
  69. Devin Thomas, WR WAS
  70. Legedu Naanee, WR SD
  71. Julian Edleman, WR NE
  72. Joshua Cribbs, WR CLE
  73. Mike Thomas, WR JAC
  74. James Jones, WR GB
  75. Lance Moore, WR NO
  76. Brian Hartline, WR MIA
  77. Joey Galloway, WR WAS
  78. Darius Hayward-Bay, WR OAK
  79. Jason Avant, WR PHI
  80. Michael Jenkins, WR ATL
  81. Arelious Benn, WR TB
  82. Brian Robiske, WR CLE
  83. Mike Williams, WR SEA
  84. Jordy Nelson, WR GB
  85. Deon Branch, WR SEA
  86. Earl Bennet, WR CHI
  87. Justin Gage, WR TEN

 (+)Sydney Rice, WR MIN - Injured, could miss half the season
 (+)Donnie Avery, WR STL - Injured, will miss the entire season

Monday, August 30, 2010

Consensus Top RBs for 2010 Fantasy Football

As we roll on with the consensus 2010 rankings, we'll take a look at a position that will likely make or break your fantasy season; the running backs. Last year, I picked 7th in one of my drafts and I watched as guys like Matt Forte, Steve Slaton and LaDanian Tomlinson were drafted ahead of Maurice Jones-Drew. I happily sat there at 7 and couldn't click the "DRAFT" button fast enough when it was my turn and MJD was still on the board. It wasn't that those guys were bad going into the season, it was just that MJD was more of a sure thing in my mind. As it turned out, Forte and Slaton were total busts and MJD had an excellent fantasy season.

Who will be this year's Matt Forte or Steven Slaton? Who will step up like Chris Johnson and rise up the RB rankings?

Consensus RB Rankings 2010 Fantasy Football:


1. Chris Johnson, RB TEN
2. Adrian Peterson, RB MIN
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB JAC           
4. Ray Rice, RB BAL
5. Frank Gore, RB SF
6. Michael Turner, RB ATL
7. Steven Jackson, RB STL
8. DeAngelo Williams, RB CAR
9. Cedric Benson, RB CIN
10. Rashard Mendenhall, RB PIT
11. Ryan Grant, RB GB
12. Shonn Green, RB NYJ
13. Ryan Matthews, RB SD
14. Jamaal Charles, RB KC
15. Beanie Wells, RB ARI
16. Pierre Thomas, RB NO
17. Knowshown Moreno, RB DEN
18. LeSean McCoy, RB PHI
19. Joseph Addai, RB IND
20. Jonathan Stewart, RB CAR
21. Ronnie Brown, RB MIA
22. Matt Forte, RB CHI
23. Brandon Jacobs, RB NYG
24. Javid Best, RB DET
25. Felix Jones, RB DAL
26. Marion Barber, RB DAL
27. Reggie Bush, RB NO
28. CJ Spiller, RB BUF
29. Ricky Williams, RB MIA
30. Arian Foster, RB HOU
31. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB NYG
32. Jerome Harrison, RB CLE
33. Justin Foresett, RB SEA
34. Clinton Portis, RB WAS
35. Thomas Jones, RB KC
36. Michael Bush, RB OAK
37. Fred Jackson, RB BUF
38. Steve Slaton, RB HOU
39. Cadillac Williams, RB TB
40. LaDanian Tomlinson, RB NYJ
41. Donald Brown, RB IND
42. Darren McFadden, RB OAK
43. Chester Taylor, RB CHI
44. Tim Hightower, RB ARI
45. Laurence Maroney, WR NE
46. Montario Hardesty, RB CLE
47. Darren Sproles, RB SD
48. Willis McGahee, RB BAL
49. Correll Buckhalter, RB DEN
50. Julius Jones, RB SEA
51. Derrik Ward, RB TB
52. Kevin Smith, RB DET
53. Bernard Scott, RB CIN
54. Larry Johnson, RB WAS
55. Marshawn Lynch, RB BUF
56. Brian Westbrook, RB SF
57. Mike Bell, RB PHI
58. Leon Washington, RB SEA
59. Toby Geherert, RB MIN
60. Jason Snelling, RB ATL
61. Javon Ringer, RB TEN
62. Tashard Choice, RB DAL
63. Jerious Norwood, RB ATL
64. Fred Taylor, RB NE
65. Anthony Dixon, RB SF
66. Sammy Morris, RB NE
67. Rashad Jennings, RB JAC
68. Jonathan Dwyer, RB PIT
69. Joe McKnight, RB NYJ
70. Willie Parker, RB WAS
71. Mwelde Moore, RB PIT
72. Brandon Jackson, RB GB
73. Lex Hillard, RB/WR MIA
74. Kevin Faulk, RB NE
75. Payton Hillis, RB CLE

This is a pretty robust list of RBs, but it gives you an idea of who is ranked where amongst the RBs and what guys you could go after later in the draft that might get you some good value.

Consensus Top QBs for 2010 Fantasy Football

It used to be that drafting a QB in the first round was considered to be a big time fantasy blunder. But as Bob Dylan once said, the times they are a changing. Just last night I participated in a mock-draft in which 5 QBs were drafted in the first two rounds.

Below you'll find the consensus top-rated QBs in 2010 for fantasy football.

Consensus QB Rankings:

1. Drew Brees, QB NO
2. Aaron Rodgers, QB GB
3. Peyton Manning, QB IND
4. Tom Brady, QB NE
5. Matt Schaub, QB HOU
6. Tony Romo, QB DAL
7. Philip Rivers, QB SD
8. Brett Favre, QB MIN
9. Kevin Kolb, QB PHI
10. Joe Flacco, QB BAL
11. Jay Cutler, QB CHI
12. Eli Manning, QB NYG
13. Matt Ryan, QB ATL
14. Donovan McNabb, QB WAS
15. Chad Henne, QB MIA
16. Ben Roethlesburger, QB PIT (suspended 4-6 games)
17. Carson Palmer, QB CIN
18. Matt Cassel, QB KC
19. Vince Young, QB TEN
20. Matthew Stafford, QB DET
21. David Gerrard, QB JAC
22. Jason Campbell, QB OAK
23. Alex Smith, QB SF
24. Mark Sanchez, QB NYJ
25. Matt Leinart, QB AZ
26. Matt Hasslebeck, QB SEA
27. Kyle Orton, QB DEN
28. Josh Freeman, QB TB
29. Matt Moore, QB CAR
30. Sam Bradford, QB STL

Last year there were nine or ten 4,000 yard passers in the NFL, including the ageless one, Brett Favre. This year, there may even be more as teams continue to air it out. It is definitely important to grab one of these elite QBs, but if you do, understand that you run the risk of being weak at the QB position. If you wait, you have to hope that Eli Manning repeats his 4,000 season from a year ago, or that Donovan McNabb has little drop off in Washington if you wait. So, there's definitely risk both ways, but the good news is, there are a good number of talented QBs available for this year's fantasy season.

Fantasy Football Bonanza!














Many fantasy drafts have already taken place, but for those of you that are yet to draft, keep it locked here for all your fantasy rankings and information. If you are new to the site, please click on the "Fantasy Football" like on the side for all of my previous tips or rankings.

As for this week, here's how it is going to go:

Monday - QBs, RBs
Tuesday - WRs, TEs
Wednesday - Kickers, Defenses
Thursday - A review of two of my drafts from this week
Friday - A full and comprehensive top 200 Consensus rankings for 2010. These rankings have been compiled from a group of 9 different fantasy experts and took me all of last week to compile.

I hope you will find the information useful as you draft.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Finding Your Targets

As your preparation continues for your draft and as the time to draft draws near, you’re going to want to really focus your efforts on formulating a draft strategy. This strategy is largely based on two things: where you pick and who you like (sometimes not in that order!).

Obviously it is going to be difficult to have every single pick planned out, but I think you’ll find that as you go round by round and map out your targets, you’ll be better prepared and ready for the unpredictable.

I have two ways that I like to target players in my fantasy drafts. First, I take my pick number and I go three spots up and three spots back, so I am essentially selecting from a pool of 7 players, some of which may or may not be there. The second method I use is to target by position. I take the same 7 spots and assign a position to them. Let’s see how it might work in either scenario.

Let’s say you pick 4th overall in your draft. Here’s who you would target in the first round (based on the consensus rankings)

1. Chris Johnson, RB TEN
2. Adrian Peterson, RB MIN
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB JAC
4. Ray Rice, RB BAL
5. Frank Gore, RB SF
6. Michael Turner, RB ATL
7. Andre Johnson, WR HOU

In the first round picking 4th, the above list is pretty nice. If you assume that the draft goes according to plan, then you’re picking from 4-7. The Rankings say to take Ray Rice, and he is probably the guy you want to target here, but let’s just say that he went 3rd…then what? You’re looking at putting Maurice Jones-Drew up against the rest of the list. Believe it or not, I have seen Andre Johnson go this high in a number of mock drafts. But the bottom line here is that, based on the list, you’re probably still targeting a RB and as such, you’re probably choosing from MJD and Frank Gore. I love MJD, and he did great things for two of my teams last year, but for this year I would take Frank Gore at #4. That’s not to say that MJD is bad, he’s not, I just like Gore a little bit better…and he falls with in your target range.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Now, let’s get a little trickier and move to the second round…
 

In the second round, you pick 21st, that’s a good distance away from your first pick. Based on the rankings, the following players could be available.

18. Ryan Grant, RB GB
19. Shonn Green, RB NYJ
20. Ryan Matthews, RB SD
21. Calvin Johnson, WR DET
22. Roddy White, WR ATL
23. Miles Austin, WR DAL
24. Tom Brady, QB NE

3 RBs, 3 WRS and a QB are what you have to choose from as you target your second round pick. Now, if you are an old school fantasy player, you’re looking at those three RBs and saying “stud, stud, potential stud.” A team with Frank Gore and any of those three guys has a seriously formidable backfield tandem. However, several fantasy experts have also stressed the importance of having an elite WR…and three of them are staring right at you. Then you have Tom Brady, currently ranked 4th among QBs.


The nice thing about finding your targets is that your net widens every round. Here I’m showing you seven players that could be available to you if the previous picks go according to form. We all know drafts don’t work like that, so not only do you have these guys, but you potentially have the guy ranked 15th, 13th and 17th sitting there to choose from. Given that there are only six picks separating you from your next selection, I would go ahead and grab one of your targeted elite receivers. Given that I don’t trust Calvin Johnson, I would pick White or Austin. You probably can’t go wrong with either, but Miles Austin won’t sneak up on anyone this year and should demand more coverage, especially with a rookie and an unimpressive Roy Williams on the other side. The pick then would be Roddy White.
As you go through the draft using rankings-based targeting as a component of your strategy, I think you’ll find that you’ll understand your options better than you would were you going in blind.

The other part of the strategy involves targeting a specific position. It allows you to narrow your choices based on who might be available and who you like. If you take the same 7 spots, I would look to target 3 RBs and 2 WRs every round and then add in a QB or TE (or multiple) as needed. Applied to the previous scenario, you can be more realistic about who might be there, and who you like. If we use the previous example, I’m fairly high on Ryan Grant, so if I line him up next to all the other guys available to me at 21, I might be compelled to take him despite the fact that I’ve already got one stud RB and I’m being told to take a WR early.

 The next time you pick, you’ll continue to target 3 RBs, because you always want to know who the best available players at key positions are, and then if someone falls, you can at least be educated as to who else he is up against and who you might want/need at that spot.

None of this is an exact science, but I think you’ll find that as you set out round-by-round targets, including sleepers in later rounds, you’ll be better prepared than your competition, and you’ll be able to land solid players later in the draft and keep your team deep and competitive for the upcoming season.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What The...? Part II














I was just minding my own business walking through the kitchen at work when something caught my eye. It's not every day that you see a toilet brush sitting under the vending machine. Much like my last What The...? I am left to ask myself how the heck it got there?














It's like my brother always tells me (and now I'll totally butcher the saying) you can learn a lot by just paying attention.

Candy Bar anyone?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cookie Crumbs










Life is all about fun little surprises Well, fun for me at least.

Several year's ago while I was at the University of Utah, I lived with a couple of really good guys. In fact, all of my roommates during my time in SLC were fantastic. One of my roommates was as nice as they come. He was one of those guys that you would hear described as one that you would want your daughter or sister to marry, he was that nice a guy.

One such day while we lived together, I came home for lunch and made myself a tuna sandwich. You see, during my college days I tried to make lunch as quickly as possible so as to not cut into my study (video game) time. So I made a tuna sandwich, probably had some chips and a drink and headed back to my room to, ahem, study.
My roommate came home shortly thereafter and saw my plate of crumbs sitting on the counter.
He must have figured that I'd made cookies or something, but just did not save him any. This would've been an unlikely scenario given that most of our food was community, but there's no telling what goes through someones mind who sees a plate of crumbs and decides to take action.
With nary a smell or a sniff, he scooped as many of the crumbs into his hand as he possibly could so as to get the maximum benefit of the taste. As you already know, they werent' cookie crumbs. Imagine his surprise when he got a mouthful of tuna crumbs and not cookie crumbs.

He was a pretty good sport about it. He came back to my room and confirmed with me that I had indeed not made any cookies. We had a good laugh at his miscalculation and chagrin over his attempt to nibble on the few morsels of tuna sandwich I had left on my plate unwittingly.

Like I said, life is full of fun surprises. You can never assume that those crumbs you're scooping up are cookies and not something else, but if you do...scoop at your own risk!

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fantasy Football: Value Drafting

It’s very easy during the first few rounds of a draft to get lost in the flow of how others are drafting. It is in those first several rounds where the core of your team will come from and as such, some people make the mistake of following the crowd so to speak.


Anywhere from three to five years ago, the no-brainer strategy in a fantasy football draft was to go RB/RB with your first two picks. In this year’s draft the top 4 to 6 picks are likely to be RBs (though from mock drafts I’ve done that is no guarantee). Picks 7-12 in the first round will be a mix of RBs, WRs, and QBs. When looking at what your options will be, don’t automatically assume that because everyone else has taken a RB, you need to. Some people will just automatically fall into the aforementioned strategy and take a couple RBs to start things off. It’s not a terrible strategy, and this column is not to suggest that it is, but it is worth seeing who is available and more importantly, what the best value available is before you just go draft a RB to draft a RB.

Here’s a scenario. Say you pick 8th in a 12-team league. The following players have been drafted: (based on consensus rankings)

Chris Johnson, RB TEN
Adrian Peterson, RB MIN
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB JAC
Ray Rice, RB BAL
Frank Gore, RB SF
Michael Turner, RB ATL
Andre Johnson, WR HOU

This leaves you with the following legitimate options at 8: Drew Brees, QB NO; Steven Jackson, RB STL; Aaron Rodgers, QB GB; Randy Moss, WR NE; DeAngelo Williams, RB CAR; Rashard Mendenhall, RB PIT. (Ranked 8-13 in the consensus rankings)

6 of the first 7 picks in this draft have been RBs. The player picking ahead of you has taken the top WR off the board. He or she will pick again at 18, where you know a RB will then be a high priority. So, you are faced with taking the number 8, 9, or 10 RB, the number 1 or 2 QB or the number 2 WR. Given that you pick again before any of the top 7, you’ve got an opportunity to add a top 3 QB/WR and then potentially still nab a top 10 RB depending on how things shake out. It is likely that all three of the RBs available will be gone though, so you have to factor that in to your selection thought process. For now, let’s count those RBs out. This leaves you with Moss, Brees, or Rodgers. Any of these three will be great start to your team. When looking at the rankings, for me, it comes down to Brees or Moss. Moss is having a great camp and is one of the least risky of the WR picks at the top of the draft with questions surrounding Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson (two more of the top 4). There is definitely a compelling argument for Moss here at 8. The question you have to ask yourself at this point is, “If I don’t take a QB here, when can I get one?”
Despite the fact that Brees is the consensus #8 player in the rankings, we’re going to shake things up here and select the #2 WR and #11 overall player in the draft, Randy Moss.

Your next selection is 17. Here, you’ll probably be tempted to take Peyton Manning after missing out on Brees and Rodgers. Based on the rankings, you’re probably looking at Shonn Green, RB NYJ, Cedric Benson, RB CIN, Ryan Grant, RB GB, Ryan Matthews, RB SD, and Jamaal Charles, RB KC. Charles is slipping a bit after having a pretty big jump in the rankings early on. Truthfully, any of these players are solid picks at 17, so I would go with a safer pick and take Ryan Grant from Green Bay.


At #32, you’re going to have a chance to bolster your backfield with another RB, or, take a top 7 QB. It’s possible that someone like Tony Romo or Matt Schuab might be there. If you want one of those guys, you’re going to have to select them with your third pick, otherwise you may miss out. Both have pretty big upside going into this season and both provide great value at this point. So take the higher ranked player.

Your next selection (and final for this scenario) is at #44. You could make life easy on yourself and take #44 Dallas Clark at pick #44. Clark is currently ranked #42 in the consensus rankings. That’s three spots ahead of Antonio Gates (45) and seven ahead of Vernon Davis (49). It is likely that all three of these TEs will be gone by the time you pick again, so if you want a top 3 tight end, you have to pick one here. At this point you still only have one RB and one WR. A top TE like Clark will give you #1 WR production for sure, but it is risky to put off taking your RB2 until the next round. I think in this scenario, you would be better off to grab RBs with your next two selections (4th and 5th round) and then grab a WR or TE with your 6th rounder. The truth is, if you pass on a TE here, you may have to wait a few rounds to get good value out of that position. The pick here: RB Arian Foster, HOU. Foster is rising fast with the recent news of Ben Tate’s injury and may even be ranked as high as a 2nd or 3rd round value. If you can get him as your RB2, it could be a steal. Other considerations include Lesean McCoy, Ronnie Brown, and Matt Forte.












Here’s what your team looks like through four rounds:

QB Tony Romo (#5 QB 31 overall)
RB Ryan Grant (#12 RB 18 overall)
RB Arian Foster (rising fast up the boards)
WR Randy Moss (#2 WR #11 overall)

All of those picks are good value for where they were drafted and give you a starting solid foundation from where you can build your team with sleepers and other high value players that may slip into the later rounds of the draft.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Consensus Top 75 (76) for 2010

A few weeks ago I posted the Top 60 for 2010 based on a set of 7 different rankings of fantasy experts. For my top 76, I've expanded that out to include 3 more rankings making for a grand total of 10 different sets of fantasy rankings that I was working with. For this set, a player had to receive 6 "votes" in order to be added to the list.

Two players ended up getting their 6th vote on the same line when I had one more slot to fill at 75, which is why it is actually 76 and not 75.


1. Chris Johnson, RB TEN

2. Adrian Peterson, RB MIN
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB JAC
4. Ray Rice, RB BAL
5. Frank Gore, RB SF
6. Michael Turner, RB ATL
7. Andre Johnson, WR HOU
8. Drew Brees, QB NO
9. Steven Jackson, RB STL
10. Aaron Rodgers, QB GB
11. Randy Moss, WR NE
12. DeAngelo Williams, RB CAR
13. Rashard Mendenhall, RB PIT
14. Peyton Manning, QB IND
15. Larry Fitzgerald, WR ARI
16. Shonn Green, RB NYJ
17. Cederic Benson, RB CIN
18. Ryan Grant, RB GB
19. Reggie Wayne, WR IND
20. Ryan Matthews, RB SD
21. Jamaal Charles, RB KC
22. Roddy White, WR ATL
23. Calvin Johnson, WR DET
24. Tom Brady, QB NE

There were not too many dramatic shifts in the top 24 from this group of rankings to the last. The biggest riser was Michael Turner who moved from 8th overall to 6th, which is a fairly dramatic shift when you talk in terms of drafting him or Andre Johnson or Drew Brees. The biggest faller was Steven Jackson, he went from ranked 6th last time to number 9th in these rankings.

25. Miles Austin, WR DAL
26. Brandon Marshall, WR MIA
27. Beanie Wells, RB ARI
28. Knowshown Moreno, RB DEN
29. Greg Jennings, WR GB
30. Marques Colston, WR NO
31. Tony Romo, QB DAL
32. Lesean McCoy, RB PHI
33. Pierre Thomas, RB NO
34. Desean Jackson, WR PHI
35. Matt Schuab, QB HOU
36. Philip Rivers, QB SD
37. Jonathan Stewart, RB CAR
38. Steve Smith, WR CAR
39. Steve Smith, WR NYG
40. Anquon Boldin, WR ARI
41. Joseph Addai, RB IND
42. Dallas Clark, TE IND
43. Sidney Rice, WR MIN
44. Matt Forte, RB CHI
45. Antonio Gates, TE SD
46. Ronnie Brown, RB MIA
47. Chad OchoCinco, WR CIN
48. Mike Simms-Walker, WR JAC

The next 24 (25-48) saw a few more dramatic changes. It is unclear if the rankings had accounted for Knowshown Moreno's hamstring injury (I suspect not). The risers in this group were Marques Colston (+3), LeSean McCoy (+5), Pierre Thomas (+3) and Steve Smith from the NY Giants (+6). The biggest faller of the group was by far Sidney Rice, WR from Minnesota. He ranking reflects the uncertainty of Brett Favre's return. Rice fell 11 spots from 32nd last time to 43rd this time.

The other interesting thing to note here is that certain players in every ranking system fall into a very short and specific range. For example, Marques Colston's highest ranking was 26 and his lowest was 35. Most guys not named Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson don't have that short of a range. Take Matt Forte for example, his highest ranking was 27th and lowest was 90th. That is a dramatic shift. So, one thing this ranking comparison does is it gives you a feel for where some guys are slotted by everyone across the board. By the end, you know that if you are targeting Colston or OchoCinco, you'll probably have to take them in the 3rd or 4th round. But a guy like forte might slip to the 5th or 6th round despite the fact that he's currently rated as a 4th rounder.


49. Vernon Davis, TE SF

50. Michael Crabtree, WR SF
51. Brandon Jacobs, RB NYG
52. Felix Jones, RB DAL
53. Javid Best, RB DET
54. Dwayne Bowe, WR KC
55. Hines Ward, WR PIT
56. *Vincent Jackson, WR SD
57. Justin Forsett, RB SEA
58. Marion Barber, RB DAL
59. Donald Driver, WR GB
60. Percy Harvin, WR MIN
61. Jerome Harrison, RB CLE
62. Hakeem Nicks, WR NYG
63. CJ Spiller, RB BUF
64. Pierre Garcon, WR IND
65. Ricky Williams, RB MIA
66. Brent Celek, TE PHI
67. Tony Gonzalez, TE ATL
68. Jermichael Finley, TE GB
69. Cadillac Williams, RB TB
70. Mike Wallace, WR PIT
71. Jay Cutler, QB CHI
72. Clinton Portis, RB WAS
73. Jason Witten, TE DAL
74. Wes Welker, WR NE
75. Eli Manning, QB NYG
76. Santana Moss, WR WAS

*suspended first three games

The final grouping (49-76) saw some interesting shifts and changes. It is interesting to note here that of my original top 60 rankings, only two players, Ricky Williams (-12 spots) and Brent Celek (-7 spots) failed to once again crack the top 60 of this set of rankings. I will watch with great interest when I do my third set of rankings to see how far the needle moves inside the top 60. This will give you a really good idea for who to target beyond round 6. If members of your league start drafting players outside this grouping and you can land a few more top 60 players, you might be wise to do it, particuarly at the QB and TE position.

Desipite the fact that he is suspended for the first 3 games and is threatening to hold out the first 10 weeks of the season, Vincent Jackson actually moved up one spot from 57 to 56. He is the only suspended player to make the top 75 (76).

Some other interesting shifts include Vernon Davis (+5) and Felix Jones (-9). Jones is interesting because his drop moves him from a 4th round value last time (43) to now a solid 5th rounder (52).

The overall breakdown for this set of rankings is as follows:

RB 32
WR 28
QB 9
TE 7

This will probably be my last set of rankings for a few weeks. The preseason kicks off in full swing this weekend so pay attention to how players are performing and what injuries go down.