Two days away from the start of the NFL season, and I'm getting all my ducks in a row for kickoff Thursday night.
I have the Texans schedule loaded in my calendar so I know exactly how many Sundays I'll have to watch a total menu of other teams' games during the season. (Total? Three. October 12 after a Thursday Texans game, October 19 before a Monday Texans game, and November 9 on the bye week.)
My fantasy auction is tonight, so combing through the last round of updates and roster tweaks from around the league. I won't bore you with what my roster looks like after the auction here or on Twitter. I hate people that do that.
All you need to know about my fantasy league is this:
1. We do an auction, not a draft. If you are still drafting in 2014, you're doing it wrong. Auction is better on every level. More strategy, equal access for everyone to every player. (Want Aaron Rodgers badly enough? Fine, pay $40 for him....which would be dumb, by the way.) We've been doing an auction since 1997, I've been touting it every year, and yet I still don't know of one other league that does it this way. If you want to know how it works, email me. You won't regret it.
2. As I mentioned, we are heading into our 18th season as a league (holy shit!), and I am proud to say we still have seven of our twelve original owners still in the league. Considering everything that comes along with life -- changing jobs, moving to new cities, kids and more kids, wives and more wives -- that's a pretty amazing number, which probably explains....
3. ...for a period of eight straight seasons, going from 2000 through 2007 (and then another got tacked on in 2009) we had at least one owner get divorced, an amazing string that speaks to about a hundred different layers of likely dysfunction. (True story: Our league made the first edit of Matthew Berry's fantasy football "real life story" book, but was left on the cutting room floor because he deemed it "too dark" a story. He told me this on the air on my old radio show on 1560 with John Granato, who coincidentally is an owner in our league who is on his second marriage. But Granato's divorce came years before he joined, so it doesn't count in our overall stats.)
And finally, I've honed in on my season win total wagers that I will be investing in, and they go like this:
JAGUARS OVER 5.5 (+100) There will be a season soon when the Jaguars under Gus Bradley massively overachieve versus the number that Vegas puts on them. When they get better, it won't be gradual, I think it will happen quickly. And I think it will be this season. They were 4-4 over the final eight games of 2013 (granted, two of those were against the Texans), they play hard for Bradley, and QB Blake Bortles looks like he may be the real deal, which means when he ends up starting that the rookie growing pains could be less painful. For me, it boils down to this -- if you think the Texans will be better than 6-10 because of their easy schedule, just know the Jags play virtually the same schedule, and with far better quarterback play, and with a coach in his second year, not his first. And their posted win total is two wins fewer than the Texans.
SEAHAWKS UNDER 11 (-130) I feel like we do this exercise every year, but it's worth doing -- every year going back for about the last decade or so, one of the two Super Bowl participants from the previous year suffers a major drop off from the previous season, most of them being an all out playoff miss. Looking at the two participants in last season's Super Bowl, I think the Seahawks are the pick to fall off (despite the 43-8 romp on Denver back in February), for a few reasons:
1. I don't see a Peyton Manning quarterbacked team going less than 12-4 in the regular season, especially with the additions of DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib on defense. (NOTE: Denver's win total is 11.5 in Vegas.) If there's one thing Peyton is really good at, it's destroying in the regular season.
2. A bunch of Seahawks got paid this past offseason, most notably Richard Sherman ($10 million per year extension) and Earl Thomas (highest paid safety ever). Maintaining hunger is always an issue for the regressor under this theory, and that's not always easy to do when "rookie contract" guys are suddenly "second contract" guys. I think the Seahawks have the earmarks for potential complacency.
3. They open the season with Green Bay at home, Chargers on the road, and Denver at home, and close the season with the final seven games containing road trips to Kansas City and Philadelphia to go with five division games. The Seahawks must get to 12-4 to win this bet. I don't feel good about the "must" part.
COWBOYS UNDER 7 (+110) How bad is this Cowboys' defense going to be? Well, it was already the worst in the league last season as measured by yards allowed, and 27th in points allowed. Then they cut loose Ware for cap reasons, and lose Sean Lee in OTA's to a season ending knee injury. But you want to know how bad it really is? I was driving through Dallas in late July, listening to our sister station 105.3, and the hosts were debating "Who is the Cowboys best defensive player?" The consensus? Orlando Skandrick. ORLANDO F'NG SCANDRICK. So I ask you, what's worse -- having Orlando Scandrick as your best defensive player, or being forced to fret that he's suspended for the first four games of the season?
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PACKERS OVER 10 (-115) Yes, the defense was awful last season, but to lose this bet, the Packers would have to go 9-7, and they were 8-7-1 last season with Aaron Rodgers missing half the year with an injury. If they can make it to the bye week (eight weeks in) at 5-3, I feel really good considering the second half of the season features five chilly homes games and three road trips against teams picking in the top ten in last season's draft (Minnesota, Buffalo, Tampa Bay).
RAIDERS UNDER 5 (-105) The Raiders were the one team in the league who not only thought it was a good idea to trade something for Matt Schaub (a sixth round pick that became Alfred Blue), but also give him a hero's welcome, all in the spirit of trying to resurrect his bruised and battered ego. Now, it turns out Schaub might not even start the season, that honor may got to rookie Derek Carr. So I ask you -- can you trust a team where a rookie member of the Carr family is starting, but moreover can you trust a team that traded anything for Matt Schaub?
No. The answer is simply no.