Tuesday, December 24, 2013

btn #713

The KayakPirates join the podcast to celebrate their first championship and btn signs off for the final time.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

btn #712

btn interviews the championship contenders prior to Fantasy Bowl XIII.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

btn live blog week #15


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

btn #711

The KayakPirates join the podcast for the first week of the playoffs.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

btn #710

The Commish joins me to discuss playoff scenarios and behind the numbers makes an announcement about the future of the podcast.

Monday, November 25, 2013

btn live blog week #12


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

btn #709

Jerry's Belt Buckle joins the podcast for the most intelligent discussion of fantasy football all year.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


TRUM = "Thoughts, ramblings, useless info and musings"

I went to the Justin Timberlake concert last night at PNC Arena in Raleigh. Bought the tickets months ago without knowing really what to expect. I've liked the albums he's put out this year and he seems like the rare celebrity who can manage to be famous for a long time without getting weird or taking themselves too seriously.

JT put on a 3 hour show that was quality entertainment that has to be one of the more ambitious and challenging tours and setlists  making its way across the country. At the intermission, I was talking to my date (aka the beautiful and talented btn correspondent) about the fact that Justin Timberlake did not have to be there. He is one of the more famous and recognizable people in the movie and music industry. He can put out an album whenever he wants. It will go to number one. He can do movies. He host awards shows. He has a beautiful wife, and by all accounts, a happy life. Kind of living the dream.

And yet he's touring the country behind a double he released over the course of this year doing three hour shows on Wednesday nights in cities like Raleigh, North Carolina. So that tells me one thing.

He must love doing this.

Timberlake is a masterful performer and entertainer. He should be. He's been honing that craft since his days on the Mickey Mouse Club.

Yet he still is taking chances, pushing himself and trying to be great. Why would anyone do this? They like to hear screaming fans? The ego boost? Self importance? Money? Success?

Yes to all of these. But a guy like Justin Timberlake can choose his path to adulation. And he chose this music and this album and this tour. So he must love it.

This is how it parallels to fantasy football. You have to love it.

If you don't love it, you won't try. You'll forget to set your lineup. You'll watch few games. You'll get out of touch with the weekly machinations of NFL rosters. And you'll lose. Consistently and badly.

If you don't love it, walk away. There's no point in participating in a hobby you don't enjoy. That you have to be begged to give fulfill the minimum requirements.

If you want to be great at something, do something you love. If you want to be great at something, stop being distracted by the things you don't.

As the playoff race and season ramp up and come to an end, regardless of the outcome, I hope to rediscover the simple love of the game that makes fantasy football fun, exciting and heartbreaking at the same time.


Things that are cursed
The Curse of 27
Hope Diamond
The Crying Boy Painting
The Book of the Dead
Solar eclipses
Madden cover honorees
Indian burial grounds
Boston Red Sox
The Commish

I recently discovered in the secret vault of the ten teams in our league their yet to be unveiled logos, theme songs and promotional materials. There's a lot of ad wizards among us apparently. I can't wait to see these new motifs released to the public later this season.

The Institute

Because the only thing more broken than the VZRI is

         40 acres & a mule


K Rabbits

Jerry's Belt Buckle

The Commish (aka Ozymandias)



black is for sunday

the icon

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

btn #708

btn returns and is joined by the icon to discuss "faux pas" and the state of the league.

Monday, November 4, 2013

btn live blog week #9

Thursday, October 31, 2013

zombies! aliens! vampires! dinosaurs!

I considered a Scooby Doo musical sequel this year as I know how much everyone enjoyed the first one. But it's just such a work of art I think I'd rather leave it undisturbed to fascinate avant-garde fantasy football minds for years to come. That being said, I couldn't let Halloween come and go without looking at what's haunting the league this week so let's get to it.

The carryover storyline from the weekend of course is The Commish getting monster mashed out by The Institute. And the predictable reaction of the league to this crushing and humiliating defeat.

The unlikely sudden popularity of VZ in league circles was enough to match the ratings for one AMC cable drama hit featuring moaning reanimated carcasses and lots of head shots. But that's not the only thing that The Institute has in common with The Walking Dead. His team is back from the dead.
Obviously, I have enjoyed the down year so far for my rival (and still hope to get two wins out of it).
And I don't have much of a beef with a manager choosing to pursue a strategy that I would not adopt for my own team. You don't get to tell me how to manage my team and I don't get to tell you how to run yours. Those are the rules and when everyone is trying to win that sovereignty leads to the most entertaining league.

What I have worried about is the fire sale coming before the trade deadline for The Institute's best assets that don't have any value going into next year. (The name "Calvin Johnson" comes to mind.) Now VZ is at least ostensibly a contender for the playoffs. A game and a half out of the playoffs with 8 days before the trade deadline hits, The Institute is some inexplicably in the mix. I could even make an argument that he has a better shot at the playoffs than some teams above him because other squads have a definite ceiling while VZ at least has the upside of players coming back from injuries in the next few games.

There's every reason to believe that The Institute will have a stronger second half of the season than first half given the realities of his roster. Much to The Commish's chargrin, VZ will have a say in who makes the playoffs whether he manages to sneak his own team in or not. I just hope his effect is felt as a spoiler on the field and not as a kingmaker through trades.

The Commish was not the only team to suffer a fantasy tragedy this week however. As black is for sunday's hopes of a five game win streak succumbed to a grisly death at the hands of the Jason Voohrees of ties of our league: the KRabbits. In the history of our league, there have been 16 ties. Kris has been a manager involved in 5 of them. He is well overrepresented as a serial offender. In 2004, the KRabbits managed to tie The Commish in both of the teams' meetings. In sum, I should have been on the lookout for Golden Tate on Monday night. No one is the master of the come from behind tie like Kris.

We don't have to live this way. We don't have to spend our seasons in fear that our teams will be dragged from our beds by unseen demons of ties that would edge out otherwise worthy teams from playoff contention.

It's bogus. And it's unfitting for the greatest fantasy football league in America.

There are leagues that have fractional points. For each 1/10th of a point added to the decimal place of scoring, you make ties ten times less likely. Every year this situation affects one or more teams that may be jockeying for playoff position. It's only a matter of time before someone ties in a playoff game, or even worse, the championship.

I've seen this happen in a league where I am the commissioner. I tied with someone in a semi-final game. I was determined the winner through the normal Yahoo tiebreaker procedures and the next week my team went on to win the championship. There was some bitterness. Needless to say, the league by unanimous vote adopted fractional scoring before the next season began and we haven't had a tie since.

Every year that we go through the offseason not addressing this issue in our rules we are running a risk. We have had at least one tie in this league every year of its existence except for two and four times we have had multiple ties in the same season. How long until one of this is in the playoff rounds?

We need to fix this rule in 2014 to adopt fractional points. (Or at the very least declare some other system rather than the Yahoo tiebreaker will determine who is the official champion.) We should not wait until there is a blemish on our trophy before we put this issue six feet under.

The talk of the NFL this week has been Dez Bryant and his sideline tirade during the latest heartbreaking loss to beset the Dallas Cowboys franchise. Many were tricked into thinking that Bryant's treatment of Tony Romo and other teammates was a sign of disrespect. But if you watch the video, you'll see that Bryant really was just trying to pump up his teammates and stoke their competitive fire. Now, yes, he was doing it very demonstrably and very confrontationally but he was not doing it disrepectfully. His basic message was, "We're better than this." (A sentiment I'm sure The Commish was yelling at his players on Sunday as well.)

There's nothing wrong with being competitive. If Tom Brady barks at his receivers or his coaches, it's treated as leadership and a will to win. If "diva receiver" Dez Bryant does it, then he just must be complaining that he's not getting the ball enough. First, he wasn't. Second, he should be getting the ball more. Bryant may not be Calvin Johnson. But he's as Calvin Johnson as the Cowboys have on that roster. And catches like this are not going to be had by any other player taking the field on Sundays in Jerry World.

So I say go for it, Dez. Let out that competive spirit. Even if it looks more like Carrie than Casper the friendly ghost. The Cowboys can only benefit from someone pushing them a little harder. Romo, Witten and Jason Garrett just don't strike me as the rah-rah type.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Have fun! Hope the kids are safe trick or treating (hopefully, they don't go too close to Kris' house). And I hope at least one of the league's junior members is dressed like one of these guys.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

the meme team

"You know on Sundays like this that he'd do this for free!"

"It's like watching a little kid out on the field for the first time!"

"He's just having fun out there!"

No, those aren't quotes about The Institute ruining The Commish's weekend by winning his second game of the season. They're about this guy:

I know. Favre has come back more times than Jason Voorhies and this is all a media stunt perpetrated by ESPN to get clicks and views during the long stretch of bye weeks during the NFL season. But it's still fun to speculate, particularly when Favre's agent is saying things like this:

His arms look like a blacksmith's arms. He rides a bike probably 30-50 miles a day. He runs four or five miles a day. He's coaching at the high school and they're undefeated. He loves it. His body fat is 7.5 percent and he weighs 225 pounds. He could play today, better than a lot of them out there today.
Who is coming back? Brett Favre or Paul Bunyan? Is Bus Cook the agent for a quarterback or a mythical greek alien deity? Even John Madden never gushed about the old gunslinger quite like that.
Here's the question. Is Brett Favre at 44 really better than many NFL quarterbacks currently playing in the league? I often hear and have said myself that it is amazing that in the population of the entire world we can't even find 32 guys who can competently play quarterback at the highest level. But I decided to do a little experiment. A power ranking of the quarterback situations of the 32 NFL teams.

1. Peyton Manning, Broncos
2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
3. Drew Brees, Saints
4. Tom Brady, Patriots
5. Andrew Luck, Colts
6. Tony Romo, Cowboys
7. Matt Ryan, Falcons
8. Matthew Stafford, Lions
9. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
10. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
11. Robert Griffin III, Redskins
12. Joe Flacco, Ravens
13. Eli Manning, Giants
14. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
15. Cam Newton, Panthers
16. Philip Rivers, Chargers
17. Jay Cutler, Bears
18. Michael Vick/Nick Foles, Eagles
19. Alex Smith, Chiefs
20. Andy Dalton, Bengals
21. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
22. Sam Bradford, Rams
23. Terrell Pryor, Raiders
24. Jake Locker, Titans
25. Geno Smith, Jets
26. EJ Manuel, Bills
27. Carson Palmer, Cardinals
28. Mike Glennon, Buccaneers
29. Matt Schaub/Case Keenum, Texans
30. Chad Henne/Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
31. Jason Campbell/Brandon Weeden/Brian Hoyer, Browns
32. Christian Ponder/Matt Cassel/Josh Freeman, Vikings

You don't have to agree with my slotting of all of the potential QBs to understand the point of this exercise. It would be tough to argue that the top 19 haven't earned the right to start for an NFL team. If the standard is they give their teams under the right circumstances a chance to compete for a Super Bowl, I think these guys fit the bill. And I could make a pretty solid argument for 20-28 that we need more time before we can make a definitive decision (with the exception of Carson Palmer who is done). That leaves only four teams with a truly awful QB situation that will require a fix as soon as the 2014 draft.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the NFL quarterbacking situation is ideal. I still think there are at least 32 men on earth capable of doing the job. However, what would the teams situation look like if we did a similar list for running backs? Or tight ends? Or left tackles? Would we consistently find 20 teams with highly stable situations or only four teams with a desperate immediate need at those positions? I doubt it. We perceive quarterbacking to be weak because we focus so much on every mistake and foible, however I doubt the state of other positions is any different. Name me 20 "shutdown" cornerbacks in the NFL. You can't. They don't exist. In all likelihood, quarterback is the deepest position in the league. And I couldn't slot Brett Favre in any higher than 27 on the above list. That's not at an elite or even serviceable level. He doesn't need another shot at the league. We need to move on.

While we're on the topic of once great players well past their prime, let's turn to the BackwoodCrazyCajuns.

It seems once again he has not been able to outrun the fantasy gods. In a season that began with such promise, Brandon actually showed up to the draft. (With a woman! Who actually came to draft... Most of it.) Step one in his rehabilitation complete.

As he continued his penance, the Cajuns had by almost all accounts their best draft in years. (Even if also the slowest.)  Getting two of the consensus preseason top 5 RBs and Dez Bryant in what many expected to be an elite season for his production seemed like enough to put Brandon back in contention after so many disappointing finishes in recent years.

Then the Cajuns were who we thought they were when they took the damn field. Rolling to a 4-2 start, looking good for a playoff spot and nearing the halfway point, hope sprang anew in Brandon's locker room.

Then things took a dark turn.

First, it was a shoulder injury to Doug Martin knocking him out of the game early and draining his value for the week. CJ Spiller's struggles continued as his multi-week fight against an ankle injury resulted in one of the poorest games of his career. And just when it was clear week 7 and the momentum was lost? The death blow. Reggie Wayne. Heart and soul of the team. Veteran leadership. Nationally televised game with monster ratings. Torn ACL for all of America to cringe from.

And now I worry if Brandon can recover in time for this week's game. When a team gets rocked like that, it's important to get right back on your feet and keep fighting. Brandon made no pickups  on the waiver wire, no trades, not even a change to the starting lineup. Dead silence coming from Cajun HQ. Meanwhile, he has two QBs on bye, two RBs unlikely to play this week and a WR spot that must be solved both in the short and long term. He also has a winnable game against 40 Acres & a mule who is dealing with their own bye week issues. (And has 3 TEs currently on the roster. Go for the record! *crowd starts to quietly chant "Quinn Sypniewski"*)

After last week, Brandon may not be a champion again following this season but we will get to see if he still has a champion's heart over the next few weeks.

Following on the theme of questionable decisions by team authorities, there's a column I enjoy perusing every week by Bill Barnwell on Grantland called "Thank You For Not Coaching." Basically, it's a review of the best and worst decisions of the week by NFL head coaches. It goes well beyond the obvious choices and really attacks those few crucial moves that will actually affect the outcome of a game on any given Sunday. (BTW, if we listed the 32 NFL teams by their coaching situations we would not get even close to 20 relatively stable coaches. It's a hard job but that's no excuse to be bad at it.)

If I have to give out my own Thank You For Not Coaching Award this week, it goes to Leslie Frasier of the Minnesota Vikings. Not only have you jostled your quarterback position all year and already burned through three QBs, including the one who got you to last year's playoffs. You went Josh Freeman just two weeks after signing him. Freeman is not exactly legendary for his meticulous study of the playbook and you dialed up 53 passes in his first start? It's not as if the score dictated such a game plan. The Vikings were within two touchdowns going into the fourth quarter.

There have been reports that Adrian Peterson is dealing with a hamstring issue. But it wasn't severe enough to save him from running a meaningless play at the end of the first half as Barnwell points out.
For those of you who incurred hazard pay in watching the Giants-Vikings on Monday night, sorry about the Vikings handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson for a meaningless draw just before halftime. Peterson might be more likely to break a big one than just about anybody, but this draw was of little consequence and could have possibly led to a Peterson injury, which nobody wanted to see.
Unfortunately, that was one of only 13 carries for Peterson on the night as Freeman flung the ball all over the field and off the field in completing just 20 of his 53 attempts. (To be fair, he completed 21. It just so happened one was to the Giants.)

That kind of ineptitude can't be explained by injury or game plan or poor preparation. It's inexplicable that any coach would have a talent the level of AD on his sideline and not think within the confines of a 60 minute game that he should putting the ball in his hands far more than a quarterback still trying to learn all of his receivers' names.

This is the game we choose to play. And the Leslie Frasiers of the world will decide our fantasy fates.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

btn live blog week #7


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

unicorns! show ponies! where's the beef!?!

Six weeks into the fantasy season and although I still have no idea why this guy suddenly gets verbal Tourette's on live television, I think we can all sympathize. It's been an up and down season for just about every manager in the Playoffs!?! fantasy league this year. Yes, even VZ, as he won what will probably be his only game this season in week 1. Even the to date dominant Commish squad started slow at 1-1-1. So while confusion might cloud much of the fantasy realm, it's time to pierce the dark skies with the light of logic.


A mythical, reportedly beautiful creature used to shield children and their joyously enraptured hearts from the truly frightening implications of apocalyptic scenarios, the unicorn symbolizes a sense of longing for the unknown and impossible. This longing is not to be outdone by the pangs felt by Chris Umphlett for Matthew Stafford.
I do realize that the northern Midwest can be a cold, hard, desolate place with brutal winters and dwindling economic prospects. Certainly, no one would claim East Lansing falls into this category. (Insert name of obscure "celebrity" who was born/lives there but isn't famous enough to even be recognized from obscure, low-rent reality shows.)

Jerry's Belt Buckle was loosened as his inner desire spilled forth in a questionable trade this week.

Drew Brees and his second to only Peyton Manning point total for the season was sent to Pirates like he was Tom Hanks looking to get back in Academy Award contention. In return, Umphlett's prized show pony, Stafford, boarded his boat just as a defunct Ray Rice washed ashore alongside him. It's not fair to call Rice washed up but it his fair to declare his now-31st ranked run blocking unit DOA. Rice didn't get that much worse just because Ray Lewis is wearing suits on the sideline. But too many Ravens' offensive lineman are now injured and sharing that sideline for his fantasy fortunes to change much going forward.

All in all though I'm not as down on this trade as I might be. Jeff has officially turned the page on the RGIII era as I don't see how he can ever regain the trust of his supposed franchise player after this vote of no confidence. This locker room and relationship could quickly turn uglier than the Shanahan-Griffin relationship.

On the one hand, Brees is likely the only QB with the potential to duel with Manning in a weekly shootout (now that Aaron Rodgers has lost one of his top weapons in "Reggie" Cobb). But on the other, we're all chasing The Commish this year at the QB spot and we're going to lose that fight. The only question is by how much. Jeff needed to make up some points from the loss of his WR1. He did that and more with this trade and the pickup of Keenan Allen.

And Umphlett won't have to suffer through the brutal winter of Siberia--or wherever he lives--alone. (Sidenote: How many weeks will it take for Stafford to adjust to the time difference?) Watch out little sweetener family, papa's got a brand new bag (of sugar).

(I'm starting the lobbying now. If gay marriage becomes legal in Michigan and Chris walks the aisle with Stafford, I say we nickname him "Equal.")


Started from the bottom, now we're here/Started from the bottom, now the whole team here/...We don't like too much explainin'/Story stayed the same, I never changed it

So croons Drake, the rapper/wannabe singer and all-around hype machine on his new Nothing Was the Same album's first single. (Available for purchase on Amazon. I'm a company man! Does Amazon have a theme song?) Parlaying a pretty decent mixtape and a start on Degrassi into hip hop stardom seems unlikely, but Drake's "lady-friendly" beats have made him a new school Ladies Love Cool James. It might not be a career path you want to retread if you want to make it to legendary MC status but it's not bad for paying the bills.

Some hype trains set their tracks toward greatness, however.

Since the beginning of the year, yours truly, black is for sunday has been hoping nothing will be the same.  Unfortunately, it started out exactly the same as for the fourth time in franchise history my squad dropped our first three contests of the fantasy football season.

Then, Jeff posted this picture.
And the win streak began. Now having scored the third most points in the league to this point, I'm right back in the thick of the playoff hunt while my star players are beginning to hit their stride after various slow starts out of the gate.

I never changed my goals for the year. I still plan to see The Commish engraving my name into the side of that trophy right about next February. And you all can thank the KayakPirates for awakening a sleeping giant and filling him with a terrible resolve.

The Hype Train Cometh.


I'd say there's a lot of common legend between the triumvirate of unicorns, The Commish and Peyton Manning. Much like the proclaimed managerial genius of The Commish and his dwarf-like minions, EVC and SVC, the prowess of the unicorn is more mystical than factual. But for a few fortuitous pickups in recent years, The Commish would have already gone the way of the unicorn--disappeared from this earth, more a tall tale than a real champion. A reminder that all magic in the end is but smoke and mirrors.

Meanwhile, his beloved Peyton Manning has even less hardware to base his mythology on. A fact that Jim Irsay may have ill-advisedly brought to the forefront in an interview this week when he said:

You make the playoffs 11 times, and you're out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love (rings).

I'm sure this could leave Manning none too pleased. But instead of firing back himself, he allowed his coach to do his dirty work for him. What does Fox say?

Well, not exactly. Actually, he said:

To me, in my opinion, (Irsay's comments) were disappointing and inappropriate. I mean, Peyton would never say anything. He's too classy to do that. But they sounded a little ungrateful and unappreciative to me for a guy that has set a standard, won a Super Bowl, won division titles, won four MVP awards. I'd be thankful with that one Super Bowl ring because there's a lot of people that don't have one.

There are a lot of people who don't have one. Including John Fox... who is hoping to ride the arm of his 37-year old quarterback to his own ring this year. But look back at what Irsay said again. What exactly out of that has Manning himself not been quoted as saying in the past? Are we really supposed to believe that Manning prefers huge numbers to Super Bowl rings? Where's the beef?

This is the classic case of the story not unfolding as the establishment would hope. Manning is supposed to be the greatest of all time. Cut from the cloth of stellar QBs, the first family of football, challenging records from the moment he stepped on a field but not enough hardware to justify all the sound and fury of his career. Manning can beat the Colts by 50 on Sunday night but it's not going to change the fact that decades after his career is over and his most ardent defenders aren't around any longer to skew the facts of his playoff failures people will ask one question consistently about his career, "Why didn't he win more?" In other words, "Where's the beef?"

Coincidentally, The Commish could be asking the very same questions by season's end.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

btn live blog week #6


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

btn #707

The Commish joins the podcast to discuss the current state of The Institute franchise and other fantasy football disappointments.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

btn #706

This week's podcast features the manager of the K Rabbits as we discuss feuds, fall beers and fantasy football predictions.

Monday, September 30, 2013

btn live blog week #4


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

btn #705

The present and the future of the KayakPirates franchise join the podcast before rivalry week.

Monday, September 23, 2013

btn live blog week #3


Thursday, September 19, 2013

our pets heads are falling off

So this is basically what sums up the first two weeks of the NFL season.

Up is down, down is up. Wide receivers are outproducing running backs. Drew Brees is terrible. Philip Rivers is amazing. And teams are trading away their franchise running backs for pennies on the dollar.

Oh yeah. And AJ is in first place.

The fantasy zombie apocalypse is upon us.

black is for sunday vs. KayakPirates
Some would say my luck has been extra horrible the first two weeks of the season considering I am sitting alone in last place while having the second most points in the league. Some would even say it is frustrating to lose in back to back weeks because of career games from players that were on my team last season. You know what I think some should say? Nothing. I'm tired of their incessant chatter. My luck may not be about to change but Jeff's is... for the worse. Not only is he being plagued by the questions swirling within the team about the true status of RG3 (and out)'s knee. But the sharpest jabs are coming from within his own locker room... from Griffin's own WR1. I don't care if they settle this with a foot race or what but they need to settle it somewhere other than through the media. Between their blatantly racist name and the drama inside the team, I don't want to be anywhere near DC right now. That town is more toxic than ever. I would give Jeff the upperhand as it must be Joique Bell's turn for the best game of his career but there is no one on his team that I traded to him so he has no chance this week. Since Jeff's other running backs are nothing more than a "slow-moving rhombus of plastic spoons," I think I've got it this week.

BackwoodCrazyCajuns vs. The Institute
If the Browns think they know how to tank and play for next year, they need to realize that there is still much to learn from the VZRI playbook in that regard. After a soaring week 1, the league's temporary phoenix just as quickly as he rose from the ashes of his draft came crashing back to earth with twice the momentum. With Spiller sputtering to start the season, the wreckage of the Buccaneers careening to a heap all around the feet of Martin, Fitzgerald and Bryant both slowed by injuries and no answer at quarterback, the Cajun is already looking a lot less formidable than he did back in that hospitality suite. This championship contender is going to need a turnaround in the next few weeks if he hopes to be anything more than a paper tiger. Playing VZ will certainly give him a good start in making progress toward that goal. We're in week 3 and already The Institute is struggling to field nine healthy players.

Jerry's Belt Buckle vs. showmedmoney!
The curse of the number one pick is taking hold with Umphlett's team early. He picks Drew Brees first the one year that every quarterback in the league is playing like Drew Brees except Drew Brees. Then he rounds out his early round selections with the doomed Maurice Jones-Drew and the lame Roddy White. All is not well. Billy snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a Mike Lombardi type general manager move of benching his most seasoned veteran for his rawest rookie. Too cute by half. But White's loss is Julio's gain. Without the services of Steven Jackson for the foreseeable future, you can expect the Falcons offense to be that much more aerial. This is very bad news for Chris who one day will stop drafting Steelers wide receivers. (BTW, unpopular opinion alert. Seattle will not cover at home versus the Jaguars this weekend. There is no chance that team and those fans get as hyped up for Jacksonville as they were last week. I expect the Seahawks to win by two touchdowns but this won't be a pure blowout. Everyone in the game is getting paid.) Still, Bill shows Chris who the second best team from Gates County is this week.

K Rabbits vs. 40 acres & a mule
At this point, Kris' season and draft strategy is turning out like the end of a Scooby Doo episode. Not drafting Rodgers and bypassing him for Brady is the equivalent of "And I would have gotten away with it too if not for you pesky kids." The problem is those "kids" are grown men who get paid to catch footballs but apparently instead of stone blocks for hands. If Tom Brady is screaming at you in the middle of the game, you know you messed up. That guy rarely gets upset and I mean, honestly, if you were him, would you? He rarely has anything to complain about. Meanwhile, Kris' former beau is dating a new team now. One that is somehow far uglier and yet more successful. We should just rename AJ's team "40 points & mediocre talent." Rodgers may be matchup-proof but 40 Acres hasn't yet seen a matchup of Peterson and Charles against a newly despondent Cleveland and Philly's turnstile of a defense. Expect Kris to put an end to this madness this week.

The Commish vs. the icon
As much crap as I have given the Browns over the last 24 hours, I think I see the strategy somewhat. They don't believe in their current lineup. They want to rework the whole team. Lombardi has been angling for this job for years and he finally has it. He's not going to waste his one shot. Stockpiling a bevy of picks and tanking for Teddy is the way to start fresh and finally reinvigorate a once proud and now struggling franchise. The Commish knows a little bit about what that process looks like over the last 4 years. Speaking of which, these are the only two managers to capture a Fantasy Bowl since 2009. This is a prime early season matchup and I like Jimmy this week to use it to catapult himself once again to the top of the league.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

btn #704

The Institute joins behind the numbers ahead of week 2.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

btn live blog week #1


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

draft battles

During the draft last weekend, in the multitude of time afforded by waiting for Brandon to make his picks, Billy, AJ and I began a GIF battle. In fact, I likely spent more time researching new GIFs than I did researching the players I drafted last Saturday. I had already studied anyone I considered taking so it didn't matter much for me. Apparently, this strategic allocation of time didn't work out as well for AJ. That's why he ended up a part of the draft battle for last place.

Draft Battle #1: The War of Attrition
40 acres & a mule vs. The Institute (#9 vs. #10)

40 acres
Best pick: Aaron Rodgers (Round 2)
Worst picks: If keepers counted, I'd say Michael Bush (Round 10). So instead I'll go with the 5 wide receivers (Greg Jennings, James Jones, Kenny Britt, Stevie Johnson, Lance Moore) of identical value drafted between rounds 5-9 or the wrap-around tight ends selected at the turn of round 13-14 (Martellus Bennett, Antonio Gates).

AJ made a solid pick in Round 2 with Aaron Rodgers (aspirations to be the new K Rabbits?) but then didn't select another player that I would want on my squad this year. Slotting in Montee Ball as a second RB basically screams I read a fantasy magazine from June on my way to the draft.

The Institute
Best picks: Christine Michael (Round 11), Colin Kaepernick (Round 7)
Worst picks: Le'Veon Bell (Round 6), Jeremy Maclin (Round 12), Jonathan Stewart (Round 14)

With $12.50 in the bank for next year and underwhelming keepers like Andrew Luck and Rashard Mendenhall starting out the roster I understand the inkling on my nemesis to play for next year. And if he had assembled a team of Christine Michaels (a player with massive upside and the chance to be in a great situation for the future) and Michael Crabtrees (a player with a proven track record going for below market value because of injury) then I would have backed the move. But what value is there in drafting a borderline WR3 and sending him straight to the IR slot? Or in trading all those picks away just to get David Wilson a round early? Why not just go all out on every player with any chance of breaking out, let the chips fall where they may and sort it out through trades and keeper cash before next year's draft? In the end, I think VZ tried to have his cake and eat it too. Competing in the short term while building for the long term. He failed on both accounts.

Winner: No one. Ends like a Russian love story. They all die in the end.

Draft Battle #2: Anthem of Our Dying Day
showmedamoney! vs. the icon (#7 vs. #8)

Best pick: Kenbrell Tompkins (Round 9)
Worst pick: Jonathan Dwyer (Round 11)

Truthfully, Billy's best pick probably would have fallen to him in round 11 if he had waited. And that would have been a much better outcome than ending up with Dwyer. Not only was Dwyer an undertalented player in a crowded backfield, him getting cut mid-draft sent Billy into a tailspin. I would have been interested to see what this team was like with Aaron Rodgers leading it. (Not that I don't like Matt Ryan but I'm not sure getting Andre Johnson instead of Nicks/Colston/Steve Smith/Wayne makes the difference worth passing on Rodgers.) Might have missed an opportunity there.

the icon
Best pick: Eddie Lacy (Round 3)
Worst pick: Danny Amendola (Round 3)

Overbay didn't have a bad draft by any stretch but I'm not sure he capitalized on the trade with VZ. I'm not a big believer in the ability of SJax and Gore to continue being productive as the hurtle toward the age and workload that has put similar backs down for good in the past. And there is just no chance Amendola plays more than eight games this year. I love Lacy as a breakout candidate and think the icon was very smart with his tight end situation in pairing Gronk with someone who can keep the fire warm in Cameron during his absence. Five picks in the first 33 though with two solid keepers? That team should look better than this one.

Winner: Regret

Draft Battle #3: The Clone Wars
Jerry's Belt Buckle vs. The Commish (#5 vs. #6)

Jerry's Belt Buckle
Best pick: Maurice Jones-Drew (Round 2)
Worst pick: Emmanuel Sanders (Round 10)

Maurice Jones-Drew was an excellent value at the end of round 2 but they don't give out points for draft day value. A back of his age and size can only last so long against eight man boxes and a brutal carry load. I just can't buy in to a huge bounce back season. And two Steelers wide receivers again? How many times do you have to learn the same lesson? The Sanders pick cost Umphlett a shot at Lynch's backup Michael. If Lynch goes down or is let walk at the end of the season by the Seahawks, Umphlett will wish he had reached for Lynch's clone one round earlier for both now and the future.

When Chris found out he couldn't get Stafford on his team this year:

The Commish
Best picks: Trent Richardson (Round 1), Justin Blackmon (Round 12)
Worst pick: Knowshon Moreno (Round 13), Pierre Thomas (Round 16)

By the time draft day had come and gone, Trent Richardson had made me a believer but The Commish still hasn't. I love the value Jimmy got on Blackmon and Golden Tate. Both will start games for his squad this year. But why take washed up retreads for backup running backs unlikely to see the field very much if at all when they are both hopelessly stuck in committees? Vintage Commish teams get strength from the bench. It looks like waiver wire roulette is once again where Jimmy expects to find a championship. One sometimes can wonder whether a real human being still lurks below the Darth Vader mask The Commish dons in the league. I think that answer is yes after this weekend. In twelve live drafts I have completed with Jimmy I have never seen him surprised when it was his turn to pick until Saturday. With the turmoil that has obviously infiltrated The Commish's office, it's no wonder you can find the top man distracted. This is a developing story for this season.

Winner: The Commish but only because the plot of Empire demands it.

Draft Battle #4: The War to End All Wars (#3 vs. #4)
KayakPirates vs. K Rabbits

K Rabbits
Best pick: Tom Brady (Round 3)
Worst pick: Kyle Rudolph (Round 8)

I've said this to several people since the draft. Though I wouldn't say the K Rabbits had the best draft of anyone last Saturday, I walked away the most impressed by his strategy. Everyone in our league has a personality that defines most of their teams. Jeff takes a slow and steady wins the race approach. Overbay opts for established early in drafts before taking shots on breakout candidates. Jimmy builds around cornerstone players for their respective offenses. I'm the hype train. Kris always drafts Aaron Rodgers (or insert other quarterback man crush of the moment). Except he didn't. He changed his strategy thinking that whatever he was doing had brought him as far as he could go. I respect that as all of us our resistant to change (particularly people at the advanced age of the K Rabbits manager). This may not be a championship season but it could be the dawn of a new day for this franchise.

Aaron Rodgers when he found out that Kris passed on him in the first round:

Best picks: T.Y. Hilton (Round 6), Josh Gordon (Round 10)
Worst pick: Dwayne Bowe (Round 4)

The more I look at Jeff's draft, the more I like it. He has solid players starting at every position and a lot of talent on the bench looking to push his starters for their spots. I love his breakout hype-laden package of WRs on the bench. The Griffin-Garcon connection will be strong as long as both can stay healthy. He's insured himself in case Griffin goes down with Matthew Stafford (who would have thought I'd talk about Stafford as a paragon of health two years ago?) And he took some calculated risks for the future. Jeff is getting more serious every year about putting his name on this trophy. I could tell by his late night pre-draft study session. Maybe it has something to do with the Crouton beating down his door for a chance at management but I think he gets rewarded this year for his tenacity. Jeff scooped some good players.

Winner: The K Rabbits never win anything.

Draft Battle #5: The War of the Roses
BackwoodCrazyCajuns vs. black is for sunday

Best pick: Larry Fitzgerald (Round 2)
Worst pick: Chris Ivory (Round 6)

You can't argue with the value that Brandon got any of his players at in the first five rounds. He started with the strongest keepers in the league and built a powerhouse around those players. However, he had to know better than to wait past Round 7 to select a quarterback. That is Fantasy Draft Strategy 101 stuff right there and we're not talking about some green rookie here. Brandon may be a champion of yesteryear at this point but he's better than missing on one of the top 12 QBs to snag a player of Chris Ivory's caliber. In the end, he'll pay something for this obvious mistake. He just has to hope it's the many hits and not this one miss that defines his season.

black is for sunday
Best pick: Lamar Miller (Round 3)
Worst pick: E.J. Manuel (Round 12)

Yep. Crushed it.

Winner: #TeamShade

Monday, September 2, 2013

btn #703

The draft recap podcast as told during three red eye flights to be known as Bill and Brent's excellent adventure.

Monday, August 26, 2013

may the odds be ever in your favor

Odds of this league making its inaugural trip to Vegas without me doing an odds column to preview the trip: 10,000 to 1

Odds that Kris Norris selected his beloved Aaron Rodgers with the #4 overall pick: 3 to 1

The question here is not the K Rabbits' desire to reunite with his longtime man crush but rather the opportunity that Rodgers falls so far. If Brandon takes a QB, I think he goes for Drew Brees. That or he can never again cross the Louisiana state line. VZ could take Rodgers just to be an a-hole or in some weird scheme to secure future draft picks in 2034. Umphlett hasn't been known to take quarterbacks early in drafts but he's not exactly been known for employing the same strategy two years in a row either. I think it's a safe bet to assume Kris will be nuzzling Rodgers' non-ironic mustache very soon.

Chances Billy does this move at some point in Vegas: 2 to 1

Chances that this is Jimmy's reaction: 1 to 5

Safest bet ever.

Odds on first junior Playoffs?!? league members to take over management duties in the next five years:

Flying Crouton/Bacon Bit: 5 to 1
Executive Vice Commish/Senior Vice Commish: 150 to 1
Sweet-N-Low: 25 to 1
double click: 30 to 1
Thunderette: 50 to 1

Mostly this is a function of age (although it's safe to assume The Commish might have to be committed to an asylum before he ever gives up control of his team... Al Davis went more quietly into the night than he will) as well as the future ability of promising progeny to handle the reins of a big league franchise. This kind of transition hasn't exactly worked out well for Hank and Hal Steinbrenner or Jim and Jeanie Buss. (Christina Pagniachi pretty much saved football in Miami though.) Too many more fifth place finishes and the restless of the Crouton might give in. You might remember him taking over an interview with behind the numbers last year. Rumor has it he is making a power play to oversee draft day operations on the ground for the KayakPirates squad in Vegas. The future is now.

Chances that Brandon gets married in Vegas over the weekend: 500 to 1
If he does, odds on his betrothed being his current girlfriend vs. the field: PUSH

I don't think it's going to happen but if you're inclined to bet on a long shot, I say bet the field on this one. Just a pure math play.

Over/under on the number of times the words "drunk like a fox" are said: 70

I'm taking the over. Way over.

Chances AJ makes the worst pick in the draft: Off the board

Six years running. No reputable casino is putting odds on that. Might as well bet on an SEC team winning the national championship. No money in it for the bookmakers.

Pre-draft odds to win Fantasy Bowl XIII:

BackwoodCrazyCajuns: 5 to 1
black is for sunday: 8 to 1
The Commish: 10 to 1
the icon: 12 to 1
KayakPirates: 14 to 1
Jerry's Belt Buckle: 18 to 1
showmedamoney!: 25 to 1
K Rabbits: 30 to 1
The Institute: 50 to 1
40 acres & a mule: 100 to 1

Chances this is Jimmy's reaction to being ranked third on this list: 1 to 5

Chances this is my reaction to his reaction: 2 to 1

Odds that this is in AJ's wardrobe for Vegas: 5 to 2

Chances that these are the full contents of Kris' suitcase: 2 to 1

Chances we ever have another Vegas draft again after this year: 10 to 1

We all have to make it back alive first.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

pay for performance

You may have heard about Dan Wetzel's column this week proposing to pay players in the Little League World Series. One can only assume this is a tongue-in-cheek pushback against those who are clamouring for college football players to get their share of the billions of dollars being profited from their labor. Wetzel though does his part to style the column as an actual argument deadpanning every line he writes.

The term "pay the Little Leaguers" tends to send those incapable of seeing nuances into intense anger. Take a deep breath. This isn't about paying every kid who's playing ball in your neighborhood, just the ones who reach the big stage and are put on television. This isn't going to cause the formation of a union with an inevitable strike or contract holdout.  

And no one is really getting "paid." Call it "prize money" or a "scholarship" or something if it makes you feel better.  

The players deserve something from this booming, expansive event, even if it is just a few grand that go directly into a college scholarship fund or some kind of trust (if they don't go to college) that can't be accessed until age 18 or 21. A similar system could be worked out for international players based on their own cultural norms.

He goes on to cite how Little League Baseball, Inc. turned a profit of $2.8 million last year and ESPN has signed on for a $4 million cost to put these games on television.

I hardly want to give this unserious argument more credit than it deserves but as a little league coach myself I feel the need to respond to Wetzel's hyperbole.

As a coach, I'm a volunteer. I don't get paid or negotiate a contract. Not hoping that exposure here will get me to the next level in my profession. There's no shoe contract or endorsement deals to chase. There's just the thankless job of herding a dozen 12 year old boys and their parents through a season of ups and downs in the summer.

And I love it.

The kids love it, too. And, who knows, maybe some of them one day go on to play baseball professionally at some level. However, unlike college football players nothing is keeping them from doing it now. If the New York Yankees want to sign a 12 year old kid, why not? There is no age limit to participate in Major League Baseball. These kids at the LLWS aren't held back because of an arbitrary number on their birth certificate (for some more arbitrary than others, Danny Almonte) but they are held back by their skill level. The MLB is a meritocracy (at least when it's not corrupted by PEDs) and these kids are fun to watch but not ready for the big leagues by any stretch.

College football players face the opposite problem. Is there any doubt JaDaveon Clowney is ready to be lining up against his peers on Sundays? But the reason he can't be paid to excel at his sport is because of an arbitrary age limit imposed by the NFL and in which college football is a co-conspirator. After all, who is going to protect their product if the best players in the game can leave?

While $2.8 million is a nice sum for a company like Little League Baseball, Inc. and certainly helped by the lucrative ESPN deal, it's not even scratching the surface of college football money.

In college football, just the 15 richest programs are bringing in more than $1 billion in revenue. And there are about 100 more schools to account for in Division 1. When the NCAA recently decided to go to a playoff system for major college football, ESPN paid $5.6 billion for the rights to televise the games.

So while it might be a fun or cute thought exercise for Dan Wetzel to talk about paying Little League players, let's not confuse it with the actual injustice going on in college football. That's the nuance we should spend more time exploring.

Monday, August 19, 2013

btn #702

The Vegas preview pod featuring my new btn correspondent as well as a conversation with the Commish about the past, present and future of the Playoffs?!? fantasy league.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

btn #701

behind the numbers returns with the icon announcing breaking news detailing his trade with The Institute. We go on to discuss if The Commish is overrated, the injustice of NCAA rules and look ahead to the keeper deadline in this megapod.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

behind the numbers renewed for season 7

Creator touts “best season in our show’s history”

Media contact: Brent Woodcox,

Raleigh, N.C.—btn network President and CEO Brent Woodcox announced the renewal of the behind the numbers podcast for a seventh season today. Along with the renewal behind the numbers founder and executive producer Brent Woodcox was rewarded with a lucrative contract to continue managing the website, social media and online presence of the various btn multimedia endeavors.

The CEO said, “Working with an incomparable talent like Brent Woodcox is its own gift. Honestly, when the time came to sign the check to keep him onboard my only question was when I should stop writing zeroes.”

Woodcox initially demurred, “This is really a team effort. Actually, no it’s not. Not at all. I do all the work and I am incredible at it.”

“Doing this show for seven years has been a joy. We’ve seen a lot of changes and I didn’t know that we would ever be in this position. There have been many imitators over the years but most have been forgotten by the crushing judgment of history. Meanwhile, we’re focused on building out our global brand. Our ratings have never been higher and I am excited to kick off what I am sure will be the best season in our show’s history.”

The popular podcast’s seventh season will include 13 episodes and be supplemented by blogs and other online content as in the past. Woodcox promised “surprises” to come as well as new formats and more of the experimentation that has pushed the mold of fantasy entertainment and become synonymous with btn.  He also pledged extensive coverage of the league’s signature event and milestone—Draft Day in Vegas.
“It’s a real pleasure to continue to cover the personalities, the rivalries and the controversies of the greatest fantasy league in America,” Woodcox said.
The podcast will return with new episodes on August 15.