Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NXT and the Land of Forgotten Toys

NXT is the hottest thing in pro wrestling. It's great, as it gives you a glimpse into the WWE's future, and the future is clearly bright. That's what everybody talks about, but there is another, admittedly smaller, aspect of NXT, and that is the wrestlers who have had success before who are trying to build back up to main roster relevancy. These are the forgotten toys of the WWE. They're not bad; it's just that fans haven't really thought about why they loved them so much before, and NXT is giving them that chance to bust out of the toy chest and back into the main rotation.

Zack Ryder
Let's start with the most insane example. Zack Ryder was a huge deal. Z! True Long Island Story changed how WWE treated the internet. Honestly, I'm not sure if the WWE Network exists without Zack Ryder getting the ball rolling. That show sparked WWE getting a YouTube channel, so yeah, he was way ahead of the curve when it came to pro wrestling and technology.

He used that to create a huge following and even a US Title run. Unfortunately, the WWE never really knew what to do with him; they just knew that fans really liked him. They didn't understand that fans related to him, and although he was big on the internet, it never really translated to WWE TV.

Even saying that, this is now a guy who isn't just doing NXT Tapings, he's doing the house shows as well. In fact, he even walked around and took pictures with fans before the show. He's now in a tag team with Mojo Rawley, and that is the best thing that could have happened to Mojo, as they have done a good job of hiding his weaknesses in the ring, while exploiting his main attribute, which is energy (also known as staying hyped). It was really cool to get to see Zack Ryder, but he's a guy who can still make an impact on Raw.

One more thing: Zack Ryder is a true professional where there is no job he won't do. He proved that by taking the pin to Dash and Dawson at an NXT House show.

I feel like the entire world has forgotten that Emma was the shit. Before the "Divas Revolution" took form with the Four Horsewomen, Emma was on Paige's level, and they were tearing it up on NXT. They were the two dominant women wrestlers, making it to the finals of the inaugural Women's Title Tournament when Sasha Banks and Bayley were too green to make an impact.

Emma came in as this Australian lady that people were kind of indifferent towards, and she became beloved due to some awkward dancing and some damn fine wrestling. Unfortunately, the WWE could only focus on the former when they brought her up to the main roster and made her a comedy act with Santino. It did not go well, as they just aimlessly had her wander around until Santino retired. There was also a day where she was fired from stealing from Wal-Mart, but seriously, people should steal from Wal-Mart. She was hired back the next day, but they never really put her into anything meaningful on Raw.

Now, she has paired with Dana Brooke, and she's back to putting on good matches on NXT. She seems to be more of the sidekick in that team, which is insane, but it's at least leading to something positive. But it was a little shocking to see her at an NXT house show surrounded by up-and-comers as opposed to someone who has already shown she belongs. It's great for a fan who lives in Florida, but I'm still hoping she gets the chance to rejoin the Raw roster soon.

Tyler Breeze
The last person I want to talk about is Tyler Breeze. He doesn't fit into the same mold as the previous two people, as he has only had one match on Raw. But Tyler Breeze seems like he is, at best, getting passed by, and at worst, he's being forgotten. Sure, he's always around, but he's more there to make others feel important than actually being important. Back to that Raw match; the reason he was there was to promote the main event for NXT Takeover. This is a guy that was in the main event of the second Takeover, where he wrestled in a Fatal 4-Way with Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, and Tyson Kidd. And it would not have been all that surprising if Breeze won that match.

And now, he's just there. Don't get me wrong; he's still putting on great matches, and his entrances at Takeover events are always a highlight, but there doesn't seem to be any direction to where he's going. I know wins and losses don't matter in the long run, but the guys who have gotten pushes onto the main roster have been NXT Champions, cultist hillbillies, and Xavier Woods. Tyler Breeze doesn't fit into any of those categories (although when you think about it, he's not too far from the Xavier Woods category). Next up, he's got Apollo Crews, and it should be another great match from Breeze, because it was pretty great when I saw it at a house show in Largo. But let's be real: Breeze ain't winning that match, and I don't know where he goes from there.

The goal is that WWE is just giving Tyler Breeze the beginning of his own "Chris Jericho: Conspiracy Theorist" angle, and Breeze turns into the most fun wrestling character on the planet. That would be ideal, but I would settle for John Cena restarting the US Title Open Challenge and immediately be defeated by Tyler Breeze. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, September 28, 2015

2015 Iowa Hawkeyes: What Do We Really Know?

After four weeks, Iowa is undefeated at 4-0. This is the most excited the fan base has been since Ricky Stanzi was professing his love for America. It feels like a really great time to be a Hawkeye. Still, even though 4-0 is ideal, I'm not totally sure what we really know about this Iowa team. Let's break it down and find out.

How good is CJ Beathard?
Everybody knows that without a quarterback, your team can only go so far. Beathard is definitely off to a better start than the former starter who's slinging the ball up in Ann Arbor (although Rudock has made this the first year that I can actually cheer for Michigan). But despite Beathard having big arm strength, he hasn't really been throwing too many deep balls. Where his arm strength has proven most valuable is on the quick passes out to the sideline as the ball gets there quicker and he gives his receivers time to make plays. Beathard has also been impressive with his legs, most notably against Iowa State, as he will take advantage of open space to make a play with his feet. I'm still left with the feeling that this offense hasn't changed as much as Hawkeye fans would like. I miss the deep post that was a simple concept brought on by a successful run game and play action that led to big plays half a dozen times a year. I think Beathard is good, but I would like to see him attack the middle of the field and air it out a little more before I can throw my full support behind Iowa being a legit contender to win the B1G West.

Answer: Better than Jake Rudock, not as good as Andrew Luck.

Does Iowa know how to utilize its skill players?
For running backs, the answer seems to be yes. Jordan Canzeri has become Iowa's version of Danny Woodhead. It's always ideal to use him as a change of pace guy, but if you need him to pound it between the tackles, he'll probably shock you with his success there too. He had four touchdowns this weekend, so that's pretty neat. LeShun Daniels has struggled with injuries early on, but having a back that you can pound between the tackles is going to be a necessity when playing against the B1G schedule.

As for the receiving options, Matt VandeBerg has seemed to find himself a nice niche in the system, but I don't think he is the biggest threat out of Iowa's receving corps. Tevaun Smith is averaging only three receptions a game, yet is still nearly the leader in yards for the team. Getting him more involved would be ideal, as he is the type of receiver where if you get the ball close, he has the ability to go up and make a play. Iowa is still waiting for Jake Duzey to come back from injury, but the tight ends still seem slightly underutilized since Iowa is still rarely using the middle of the field.

Answer: They are doing a great job of utilizing the running backs, but get the ball to Tevaun Smith more.

How good are Iowa's offensive tackles?
These guys may not be great, but they are the biggest surprise of the year for me. They have greatly exceeded my modest expectations. I really thought it would be a bloodbath, but so far, they have shown they will not hold the team back. This is the first time they've really gotten a chance to play, so by the end of the season, their could be massive improvement. I don't think either one is going to be Bob Gallery within a season, but with how well the interior line has played, they don't have to.

Answer: Serviceable, and that's a really great surprise.

How dope is the defensive line?
They're stopping the run, collapsing the pocket, and making plays.

Answer: Pretty dope.

Does Desmond King get crunk on the field?
I miss the early days of social media, as Iowa players could do and say whatever they wanted, because Kirk had no idea what social media was. I don't really remember anything awful, but I do remember something awfully hilarious, and that came from the criminally underrated, Jovon Johnson. He started a fan group on Facebook called, "Jovon Johnson 'lockdown 26' Fan Club." The description gave you a glimpse into how awesome Jovon was off the field, as he stated, "If you love to see me gettin crunk on the field..returning punts...returning and picking off interceptions...making big hits..doing what I do best then join the club cause I love it too!!"

A buddy of mine and I bring this up every year, hoping that we have a new player that will get crunk on the field. Finally, after a decade of waiting, we have that man in Desmond King. He makes big hits, he picks off and returns interceptions, he returns punts, and when you combine all of those aspects together, you can only come to one conclusion: Desmond King gets crunk ON THE FIELD.

Answer: An emphatic YES!

How do you feel about the linebackers, the other three defensive backs, and special teams?
Marshall Koehn hit a 57-yard field goal to win a game, and they have punted well too, so good to go there. The other defensive backs aren't as good as Desmond King, but even though guys can find open spaces, they aren't getting beat by big plays like they have the last few years. The linebackers have made some alterations to help them in coverage, and the quicker, smaller linebackers are a better fit to go up against spread offenses. They're not Greenway and Hodge, but they ain't too shabby either.

Answer: Pretty good.

Has Kirk Ferentz actually changed?
The answer to this one is shocking, because the answer is yes. I'll admit that it sounded terrible when Kirk said that they probably needed to watch more tape in the offseason, but football coaches aren't always the smoothest talkers, and he meant it more in the way of altering the way of doing things than not properly preparing for opponents. The shield punt is the most noticeable change, but there have been some subtle changes to the run game, which is something that I never thought Kirk would change. Kirk is a very logical thinker, and when you're logical, you understand that staying the course is almost always the best option. It took a lot of bad outings before Kirk realized that staying the course would not deliver the results it has in the past. They went to the drawing board and have given new things a try. Good for them.

Answer: It may be shocking, but yes, Kirk Ferentz has changed.

Is this Iowa team actually good?
Aw, shoot; I was hoping you weren't going to ask this one. They're not great; I can tell you that much, but the B1G West is not great, so they don't really have to be. The only team that is probably better than them throughout the rest of their schedule is next week at Wisconsin, but even Wisconsin isn't great. The Hawkeyes have a small margin for error, so they likely won't go undefeated, but there is no team that should blow them out. I'll pick them to lose to Wisconsin, but just one other time outside of that to end up 10-2.

Answer: Good enough for the B1G West, which, luckily, is the division they are in.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Five Biggest Jobbers of Goldberg's Undefeated Streak

When working with Lukewarm Jonah on our instant classic piece of writing on Glacier, Jonah mentioned that Glacier lost to Goldberg. I looked into it and found out that Glacier didn't lose once to Goldberg. He lost three times to Goldberg. The streak was simply too high for him to go through 173 different opponents. So I decided to go through the list and break down the five biggest jobbers involved in Goldberg's streak. Instead of subjectively finding out whether Wayne Bloom is a bigger jobber than Chase Tatum (those names may be made up, but they made the list).

5. Brad Armstrong - 6
This is the type of jobber I would expect to see on this list. He's good enough to be in the ring with Goldberg on television, but he's bad enough where you don't really need the match going longer than three minutes. Four of his losses were at random house shows, but he did manage to get one loss on Nitro and even a match on SuperBrawl VIII. They both went something like this...

The only reason he gets in any offense is to anger Goldberg so he has a reason to finish him off. This makes a lot of sense. Also, if you have an Armstrong Curse sweatshirt, you are either the world's greatest wrestling fan or Brad Armstrong.

4. Curt Hennig - 7
It is ironic that the former Mr. Perfect was the victim of someone else's perfection seven times during this streak. Also, Curt Hennig is way too good to be jobbing out to Goldberg that many times. There was a loss on Nitro and at Bash at the Beach, but, by far, the most important loss that Hennig had was at the Goodwill Games. I'm just going to assume that in 1998, the Goodwill Games recognized pro wrestling as a legitimate sport and Goldberg won it all. Either that, or as an honor to Goldberg, they replaced the traditional first prize medals with Goldberg Medals, which had Bill's face on the gold medal so the athletes could aspire to something greater.

3. Jerry Flynn - 8
Jerry Flynn may be the most perfect jobber for a guy like Goldberg. I mean, the guy posed zero threat, but he was large enough to make all (two) of Goldberg's moves look impressive. This is probably my favorite Bill Goldberg match of all time.

The beginning of the match involves one of my favorite things, and that is pro wrestling not understanding how MMA submissions work. They trade submissions, and I think two out of seven were actually applied correctly. But it's nonstop, and then Goldberg slams him, hits his two moves and calls it a day. These two were pure magic together. It's kind of amazing that Jerry Flynn only lost eight times to Goldberg.

2. Saturn - 11
Most of Saturn's losses came on house shows, which makes sense. But still, he managed to get two PPV matches against Goldberg in Spring Stampede and Slamboree. Two weeks before his match against Goldberg, Saturn lost to Hammer and was kicked out of the flock. But after that, Saturn was able to beat Jerry Flynn in the week leading up to his US Title shot. Somehow, none of these epic matches are on YouTube. Honestly, that's probably for the best.

1. The Giant - 18
Yep, the biggest jobber is also the world's biggest athlete. When I saw that The Giant was number one, I was surprised, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. He is bigger than everyone, so he should be this dominant force that can only lose by fluke, but instead his entire career has him going on massive losing streaks where he is asked to look like shit in order to build up other guys. He is the shit guy far more than the dominant force guy, so it doesn't even build up his opponent. The Giant should lose maybe three times in a year, but instead he managed to lose three matches to Goldberg on Nitros, all within a month. He just kept going out there and losing. It was near the end of The Giant's contract with WCW, so his most notable win in those last few months was either Disco Inferno or Raven in a no disqualification match. He also had a three week string of getting dominated by Goldberg at house shows, and those losses added up fast. In fact, they made him Goldberg's biggest jobber, both figuratively and literally.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Got My Ass Handed To Me By A Girl

As I mentioned a while ago, I have started grappling again. Call it jiu-jitsu, call it submission wrestling, call it whatever you want, but it's fighting without strikes (because I need to protect my pretty face). Not to brag or anything, but after a few weeks, I'm pretty well-respected for my skills in class. I'm not great, but I can beat a good portion of people and can push anybody.

So as practice starts, our coach will always pair people together. Since I'm getting pretty good, they will either pair me with somebody else who is pretty good, or they will pair me with somebody new to help teach them the moves that we are working on. My coach called out my name, and then he called out a girl's name. Since there was only one girl in the class, and she was very new, I'm like, "Cool, this should be an easy class where I can relax a little bit." What happened next was something out of a movie, as behind this girl stepped another girl who was about 5'5" and built like a brick shithouse. I'm not a big guy by any means, but I've got some decent-sized pipes for a skinny guy, and this girl's arms dwarfed mine. She was not fat at all, but she was just solidly built. Good for her, bad for me.

As we warmed up and went through some new techniques, she felt solid, but I'm pretty confident in my wiry strength, and I assume that anybody bigger than me just has popcorn muscles, you know, all fluff, no stuff. But I knew the moment was coming where we would have live sparring, and I'd have to prove myself.

Finally, it came time. And right before we were about to go at it, somebody tells me, "You know she's a wrestler, right?" and my only thought was, "Oh shit." Because I know that somebody with a ton of strength isn't all that difficult to beat if they don't know how to use it. I can usually out leverage bigger and stronger people due to my junior high wrestling abilities (this sounds like a joke, but somehow it is actually the case). Luckily for me, she had a foot issue so we locked up from our knees as opposed to starting on the feet. All it took was that first lockup for me to realize that she definitely did NOT have popcorn muscles. Her muscles were not fluff; they were all stuff. I have never been manhandled like that from that position. She threw me around like I was nothing, and then flew around like a damn ninja to take my back. I managed to get out of that bad spot, only for her to throw me against the cage and start passing my guard while grinding my head into the steel. It was not a pleasant experience.

But don't worry faithful readers, I was not going to give up. Because even though she had more strength and wrestling ability, she wasn't great with submissions, and she hadn't grappled in a while, so she didn't have a ton in the gas tank (which she admitted would be her issue before we started). As she grinded away at me from the top, I waited for my opening, and eventually, she went for a pass and I got her off balance and managed to end up on top of her. Since she was gassed at this point, I passed to side control and locked up my favorite submission, a key lock. I had beaten a girl, fuck yeah.

Although I did get the submission, don't get this story twisted; I got my ass handed to me. Had we been in a street fight (and yes, this would require me to live in some weird alternate universe where I fought random girls on the street), I not only would have lost, I probably would have had a hospital visit afterwards. And for me, that's not embarrassing; it's just a fact of life. I got my ass handed to me by a girl.

Through this experience, I feel as if I have learned some valuable lessons:

1. I take pride in my wiry strength, but there are still girls who can outmuscle me (fun fact: I later learned that she can squat 440 pounds, which is basically three of me).

2. Although Junior High wrestling in Iowa gives me a strong wrestling base, there are girls out there who have slightly better technique than that and can use it to manipulate my body in ways I never thought possible.

3. Although I had never really considered it, this just cements the fact that I should not challenge random girls to street fights, as I might just get my ass whipped.

You probably should have already known these three things, but if you didn't, I'm glad I could help you avoid the humbling experience.

Monday, September 21, 2015

I Support Players Celebrating While Getting Blown Out

I, as a hip young fella, generally support celebrating. I think most people in my age group do, because if somebody does something great, they kind of deserve to celebrate. I'd say I get little less comfortable if a player tries to rub somebody's face in their success, but it's gotta be pretty blatant before I start caring. Like, if a guy scores a touchdown and then immediately runs up to the defender to taunt him with the football, that's not cool, but I am in full support of a player watching his home run, because hitting a home run is super awesome, and you should be able to admire that without a pitcher being a fussy baby.

One place where I greatly differentiate from most sports fans is when it comes to celebrations from a player while his team is getting its ass kicked. People seem to think this is something that is truly awful, and I fully embrace it. It seems that people think that a guy who celebrates when his team is down big is an idiot (That may be the case;I think most athletes are stupid people; you kind of have to be to put yourself through that sort of pain and to have the sort of focus that is necessary to excel in such a singular field), but I don't think that's totally true.

I would actually say that celebrating when down big is actually the intelligent thing to do. Let's look at this logically. Think back to a time where you were getting your ass handed to you in a competition. It sucks, and honestly I still get irritated thinking back to these times. Anyway, if you are in the heat of the moment and the only thing you can think about is how badly you are getting your ass handed to you, you are going to perform even worse than you have been. An athlete needs to reset his mind. If he's thinking, "Man, my team is down 42-7" before every play, there is no way he will be celebrating. It takes a strong mental attitude to stay positive and continue to want to kick ass when things aren't going your way. If a guy finally succeeds and makes it into the end zone; let him high step, let him dance, hell, let him kiss a cheerleader (as long as she's cool with it). He's not thinking I just cut the defecit to 28 points; he's thinking he just did something awesome, and awesome things deserve a little celebration.

So take a note from these heroes. Don't continue to be negative no matter what happens; learn to enjoy the positives even on shitty days. You'll be a whole lot happier if you do.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Florida State League: Where Nobody Shows Up And Dreams Come True

As a former employee of a minor league team, I am a huge proponent of minor league baseball. It's cheap, it's fun, and you get to be outside in (usually) nice weather. That's a pretty good combination. These minor league games don't have the crowds you would see in the majors, but most places still average a few thousand a game. Weirdly, most places does not include the Florida State League.

Going to games in the Florida State League is like entering into a weird alternative universe where baseball is as popular as darts. It is a ghost town at these games, as they are attended sparingly, and not much goes on besides baseball. It's probably an old sportswriter's wet dream as it is baseball without any sort of flash or showmanship, just plain ol' baseball.

Now don't get me wrong. Baseball is fine. But it can be a little slow, and it could use a little something extra to fill in the gaps. So why doesn't Florida support minor league baseball? I mean, it's full of old people, and old people love baseball. But these Floridians are spoiled, as they only like to go to Spring Training games where they can see fancy major league baseball players instead of the gritty, young hustlers working their way up the ladder.

So nobody shows up. I mean, not nobody, but probably around 100 people. And these people are missing out, because it's kind of amazing. It's this wonderful ghost town where, even though it is not major leaguers, great baseball is played. And considering the home team always throws the ball in the stands, every kid gets to go home with a baseball that was given to someone who they think is larger than life. And yeah, maybe that guy will never see Double-A, but there's also the chance that he's a future All-Star. Hell, a third of the kids get to go out to the field for some goofy minor league baseball contest.

You can hear and see everything. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I enjoyed it. A kid got six foul balls at a game. SIX. Another brought a glove, and had a player toss him a ball. One little girl got asked to race the mascot, and her Dad's reaction displayed joy that many have not felt since they were a child. It was amazing, because the little girl was unsure about doing it, but her Dad was so genuinely excited that she had to go for it.

When I started writing this piece, I titled it, "Minor League Baseball in Florida Gave Me a Preview of the Apocalypse." It wasn't catchy, but it seemed apt at the time. After I thought about it for a while, I realized that even though it wasn't well attended, there was still a lot of life at these games. From an outsider's perspective, it looks dead, but upon closer examination, it's actually kind of wonderful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Reviewing My Fantasy Football Draft - Part 3

My latest fantasy football draft happened Monday night. For the uninformed, it is part of a three sport keeper league with baseball and basketball, and you can trade between sports. I am an impatient person, so I am always wheeling and dealing, and that helped lead me to a hilarious end of this draft. Not many people get multiple picks in the last round of the draft, I had four of them, but we'll wait to get to that excitement and also to get to a review to see who my greatest challenger will be.

Round 11
121 Deez Nuts RB Charles Sims TB
122 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President TE Larry Donnell NYG
123 You Just Have To BELLieve! WR Brian Quick StL
124 Graham Cracker WR Breshad Perriman Bal
125 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks QB Ryan Tannehill Mia
126 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman WR Roddy White Atl
127 Hot Joel WR Torrey Smith SF
128 Run And Hyde RB Andre Williams NYG
129 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap K Stephen Gostkowski NE
130 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable WR Brandon Coleman NO
131 Geriatric All Stars WR Anquan Boldin SF
132 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable QB Teddy Bridgewater Min

Keepers: Ryan Tannehill

Best Pick: Teddy Bridgewater
I’m a total fanboy for Teddy, so I could debate whether he or Torrey Smith was the best pick, but the tiebreaker always goes to Teddy. He’s going to be good, really good. I get very angry thinking about how well the Vikings have drafted the last couple years, and Bridgewater is the most important person that they have drafted. He has some more weapons around (including a real life running back), so I think he takes a major step forward this year. I still doubt he is worthy of starting most weeks, but I think he’s a very viable keeper option going into next season.

Worst Pick: Stephen Gostkowski
Dude didn’t even have a defense yet. I usually wait until the last second for both, but if you’re going to reach for one, I’d at least make it a defense.

My Pick: Nobody
I traded this pick in a very confusing situation where I wanted someone to stash Paul George on their roster for me so I could use him as a keeper for the upcoming season. I probably should have tried to pay less for the cost of using an IR spot for most of the year, but if you make a lot of trades, they can’t all be winners.

Round 12
133 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable TE Zach Ertz Phi
134 Geriatric All Stars RB Matt Jones Wsh
135 Wegher Bombs WR Jordy Nelson GB
136 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap TE Tyler Eifert Cin
137 Run And Hyde RB Roy Helu Oak
138 Hot Joel D/ST Bills D/ST Buf
139 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman TE Julius Thomas Jac
140 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks D/ST Rams D/ST StL
141 Graham Cracker TE Antonio Gates SD
142 You Just Have To BELLieve! QB Carson Palmer Ari
143 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President D/ST Texans D/ST Hou
144 Deez Nuts D/ST Dolphins D/ST Mia

Best Pick: Tyler Eifert
I loved Tyler Eifert last year, and if his arm hadn’t snapped like a twig, it would have been a good pick. Of course he starts getting a bunch of hype before the draft this year and somebody decided to take him, which really screwed over my strategy of not taking a tight end until the final round strategy. But we’ll get into that later.

Worst Pick: Antonio Gates
Since suspended players can’t be put away on the IR, he’s just wasting a roster spot for the first few weeks. After that, he was very inconsistent, so do you really want him as a starting tight end in your lineup? Oh yeah, and he’s also one year older, and that athleticism has diminished to the point of mere existence at this point.

My Pick: Jordy Nelson
I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that Jordy Nelson for a tenth rounder next year will probably be a pretty good deal, so I’ve already got one of my keeper spots occupied. This pick made me very happy as people got upset in the draft room, and I even got a text the next morning where someone admitted that they had trouble sleeping because they were so pissed about this pick. That alone made this draft a tremendous success.

Round 13
145 Deez Nuts RB Cameron Artis-Payne Car
146 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President WR Jaelen Strong Hou
147 Geriatric All Stars D/ST Jets D/ST NYJ
148 Graham Cracker WR Michael Crabtree Oak
149 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks TE Richard Rodgers GB
150 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman D/ST Ravens D/ST Bal
151 Hot Joel RB David Cobb Ten
152 Run And Hyde K Adam Vinatieri Ind
153 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap WR Ty Montgomery GB
154 You Just Have To BELLieve! K Justin Tucker Bal
155 Geriatric All Stars WR Dorial Green-Beckham Ten
156 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable D/ST Cardinals D/ST Ari

Best Pick: David Cobb
David Cobb was probably my number one sleeper for this season. Had he not gotten hurt, I was going to pick him in round 8. He was awesome for Minnesota last year, and I have no doubt that he could have beaten out Bishop Sankey for playing time. Unfortunately, he got injured. I knew this would make him slip in the draft and was hoping I could snag him in the 14th. And I would have gotten away with it had it not been for that stupid auto draft, because Joel is such a dummy he couldn’t make a pick in the allotted time, and it auto-selected David Cobb. So he’ll just stash him away on IR, because it doesn’t hurt anything, and he’ll probably get a nice running back for the second half of the season.

Worst Pick: Cameron Artis-Payne
If you’re going to pick a backup running back for the Panthers, you probably should have picked the dude who is the real deal and going to steal the show once Jonathan Stewart inevitably gets injured. Unfortunately for Deez Nuts, that guy was taken later in this draft (Hint: it was by me and may have something to do with my team name).

My Pick: Nobody
I traded this pick so I could finally get rid of Jaime Garcia for Gio Gonzalez. Jaime Garcia has somehow continued to pitch out of his mind and become Cy-me Garcia. Gio has been inconsistent, much like he has been all year. It’s almost like past results indicate something about future performance. But I have faith that Gio will shine when it’s playoff time, at least that’s the hope that I’m holding onto. Long story short: I’m an idiot.

Round 14
157 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable K Steven Hauschka Sea
158 Geriatric All Stars K Cody Parkey Phi
159 Wegher Bombs D/ST Broncos D/ST Den
160 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap WR Stedman Bailey StL
161 You Just Have To BELLieve! TE Owen Daniels Den
162 Hot Joel QB Jay Cutler Chi
163 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman K Dan Bailey Dal
164 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks K Matt Bryant Atl
165 Graham Cracker D/ST Panthers D/ST Car
166 You Just Have To BELLieve! D/ST Eagles D/ST Phi
167 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President WR Rueben Randle NYG
168 Deez Nuts K Dan Carpenter Buf

Best Pick: Jay Cutler
I can’t really commend anybody for taking a defense or kicker, because trying to predict those stats, so that doesn’t leave me a whole lot of options. Although I think Jay Cutler is a garbage quarterback, he is a decent fantasy quarterback, so to snag a decent backup in the 14th round is pretty good value.

Worst Pick: Stedman Bailey
If I was going to take a chance on a former West Virginia wide receiver currently playing for the St. Louis Rams, I probably would have gone with Tavon Austin.

My Pick: Broncos D/ST
I really like the Broncos defense for this year. I think Von Miller takes it to another level this season and is my pick to lead the league in sacks. They also have two really good corners, so the pass defense should be on point. If they can stop the run, they should be a top-5 defense.

Round 15
169 Deez Nuts TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins TB
170 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President K Mason Crosby GB
171 You Just Have To BELLieve! RB Lorenzo Taliaferro Bal
172 Graham Cracker K Chandler Catanzaro Ari
173 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks WR Donte Moncrief Ind
174 Hot Joel WR Terrance Williams Dal
175 Hot Joel K Matt Prater Det
176 Wegher Bombs RB Brandon Wegher Car
177 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap D/ST Packers D/ST GB
178 Wegher Bombs TE Kyle Rudolph Min
179 Wegher Bombs QB Colin Kaepernick SF
180 Wegher Bombs K Josh Scobee Pit

Best Pick: Colin Kaepernick
Yeah, I’m breaking my rules of giving out bests to my own pick, but looking at these selections, it’s pretty clear that Colin Kaepernick stands out above the rest. Snagging him in the final round is pretty nice, as they have some solid weapons on that offense, and with the defense being worse, they will have to score a lot of points to keep them in games. Since I am terrified of the Rams defense, I may even start Kaepernick the start in week one just to let everybody know that they have to earn their starting spot in my fantasy lineup.

Worst Pick: Josh Scobee
And I’m also going to break my rule for giving myself the worst pick. I am writing this on Friday morning, and two things became very clear. I made a smart decision by picking up Pittsburgh’s kicker, because they are going to score some points. Also, I made a very dumb decision by picking up Josh Scobee, because he is awful at kicking the ball. I was so mad after he missed his second field goal that I turned the game off shortly after that to watch Dog with a Blog. I should have just drafted Nate Kaeding.

My (Other) Picks: Brandon Wegher and Kyle Rudolph
WEGHER BOMBS! The only thing that I think I yelled more while watching Iowa games at a bar is “Mox is a fox!” in regards to James Vandenberg. And the only reasons that got yelled more is Brandon Wegher was a phoenix for the Iowa Hawkeyes whose fire burned out after one season of splitting carries. The dude has incredible natural talent, but it’s amazing that he’s actually harnessed everything after basically falling off the face of the Earth for a few years. Most young people do stupid shit. He did, but it seems like he has his shit together now, and good for him. He was very impressive in the preseason (you kind of have to be to make the team as an undrafted free agent), and I know he has the talent to put up numbers when Jonathan Stewart inevitably gets injured.

Kyle Rudolph is a tight end. In fantasy, it is wise to fill all open positions. Kyle Rudolph fills this requirement. Hooray, Kyle.

So looking at the best and worsts of how people did in this draft, let's look at who my greatest challenger will be. Also, I gave an extra point for each keeper, as they all seemed to be very good value...oh, except for Cam Newton, who I subtracted a point for, since he was kept in the third round. Ties are broken by general feel. Without further adieu, here are the likely final standings for the 2015 fantasy football season.

1. Wegher Bombs 
2. Hot Joel 3-0
3. You Just Have To BELLieve! 3-1
4. Ready, Willing And Tom Cable 2-0
5. Larry Donnell Trump 4 President 2-0
6. Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap 3-2
7. Too Many (Brandin) Cooks 3-2
8. Graham Cracker 2-1
9. Geriatric All Stars 1-0
10. Deez Nuts 1-2
11. Run And Hyde 0-2
12. Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman 1-4 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Jordan Burroughs Is the Michael Jordan of Wrestling

The NFL kicked off while college football cruised into week two this past weekend. There were some very fun games (Iowa vs. Iowa State) and some games that made me sick to my stomach (Iowa vs. Iowa State), and amazing things happened on football fields around the country. And none of those things can even hold a candle to what happened in Las Vegas this past weekend, where Jordan Burroughs won his third world championship (four, if you count his Olympic Gold Medal, which you probably should). Burroughs is not just a great wrestler; he is the Michael Jordan of wrestling and the most underappreciated athlete of his generation.

It's impossible to describe how great Burroughs is in words. He is currently on a five year run of dominance. In 2011 and 2012 in his first years of international competition, he blew through everyone to get a World Championship and an Olympic Gold. That led to my favorite sports photo in history.
This is why sports matter.

After 2012, wrestling overhauled the scoring, and it didn't slow him down a bit. He is 23-1 in world championships, and his only loss was in 2014 to the eventual World Champion who he had to wrestle after spraining his MCL. The knee is super important to a wrestler, and despite Burroughs spraining it in the first match of the tournament, he still went on to win the Bronze Medal.

You may have noticed that I skipped over 2013. That's because I'm not totally convinced that 2013 is humanly possible. Like, I know that it did happen; there's record of it and everything, but logically, my brain cannot wrap my head around Jordan Burroughs at the 2013 World Championships. Burroughs won the World Title while outscoring his five opponents by a score of 34-3. These are the best wrestlers in the world, and Burroughs ran threw them like they were nothing. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, he did this all on a BROKEN ANKLE.

He broke his ankle four weeks before the tournament, required a surgery where they put in five screws and a plate in his ankle and told him he should be able to start training again in 6-8 weeks. Instead, he got back on the mat 11 days before the World Championships, and then beat the shit out of everyone competing in Hungary. Michael Jordan gets lauded for the flu game (rightfully so), but that is nothing compared to what Burroughs did.

So even though Burroughs lost last year, everybody knew that he was the guy to beat this year, and he went out and proved why by outscoring his opponents 36-5(I highly recommend watching his semifinals matchup: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzUklhcwRDU). I mean, he did it on two fully functioning ankles, so it's kind of a ho-hum performance. And that's where we're at with Burroughs. There is no way for him to impress us at this point, because what he's done so far is mind-bogglingly impressive. He is America's most dominant athlete, and it's not particularly close.

But it's wrestling, and although wrestling is gaining in popularity (partially because of Burroughs who doubles as an incredible ambassador for the sport), it may not even make it in the top 10 of most popular sports in the United States. But don't miss out on Burroughs's greatness; it is truly historical, and even if wrestling isn't your jam, watching someone excel to this level at something is an opportunity you don't want to miss.

Jordan Burroughs is the Michael Jordan of wrestling? No, no, no. Michael Jordan was the Jordan Burroughs of basketball.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Reviewing My Fantasy Football Draft - Part 2

My latest fantasy football draft happened Monday night. For the uninformed, it is part of a three sport keeper league with baseball and basketball, and you can trade between sports. I am an impatient person, so I am always wheeling and dealing, and this draft would be no different, as I moved up from 10 to the top overall pick a half hour before the draft. Was it a good deal? Well, we'll get to the details in the post today as I break down the middle five rounds of the draft.

Round 6
61 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable RB LeGarrette Blount NE
62 Geriatric All Stars  QB Ben Roethlisberger Pit
63 Wegher Bombs RB Isaiah Crowell Cle
64 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap  WR Mike Wallace Min
65 Run And Hyde WR Martavis Bryant Pit
66 Hot Joel QB Tony Romo Dal
67 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman QB Matt Ryan Atl
68 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks WR Brandin Cooks NO
69 Graham Cracker RB Ameer Abdullah Det
70 You Just Have To BELLieve! RB Ryan Mathews Phi
71 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President  RB Tevin Coleman Atl
72 Wegher Bombs WR Allen Robinson Jac

Keepers: Brandin Cooks

Best Pick: Ameer Abdullah
I don’t see a way that Abdullah isn’t the Lions top running back this year. He’s just more talented than Joique Bell. He can do everything, and Joique Bell is already hurt. I could see them shying away from goal line carries, but he’s such a threat in the passing game that I think his receiving and rushing stats will counter balance a possible lack of touchdowns.

Worst Pick: Martavis Bryant
If he wasn’t suspended for four games, I think this is a reasonable spot to take him, but he is suspended for four games, and then he’s going to have to ramp up to get involved in the offense the first few weeks. I don’t think the coaching staff looks fondly on guys who get suspended, so it’s not like they’ll have extra motivation to get him involved. He’s a receiving threat, but for some reason I doubt he is going to eclipse Antonio Brown as Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target.

My Picks: Isaiah Crowell and Allen Robinson
I like Crowell as a running back. The Browns trading away Terrance West made me like Crowell more. The fact that Duke Johnson is struggling with concussions is a reason for me to like him even more. Even if Duke Johnson gets involved, Crowell is going to be the bruising half of the combo, so he’s going to be the guy getting the goal line carries. Early on, he should be great, and if he fades later in the season, that’s when I’ve got Bell and Gurley to take over the running back duties.

Allen Robinson is getting so much hype that it’s getting a little out of control. Still, the guy is a physical marvel as the only guy who tested with more athleticism than him in the last ten years has been Calvin Johnson. I also don’t mind Bortles as a quarterback. People always want to jump to conclusions on rookies, but there are so many aspects of how prospects grow and develop, and the biggest key in that development is time. Bortles will be given the time, and with Robinson, he has a weapon that many people expect to have a breakout year. I hope those people are right.

Round 7
73 Deez Nuts QB Eli Manning NYG
74 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President  WR Charles Johnson Min
75 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman RB C.J. Spiller NO
76 Graham Cracker RB Giovani Bernard Cin
77 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks TE Greg Olsen Car
78 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman RB Darren McFadden Dal
79 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman RB Jeremy Hill Cin
80 Run And Hyde WR John Brown Ari
81 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap  WR Larry Fitzgerald Ari
82 Run And Hyde TE Jordan Cameron Mia
83 Geriatric All Stars  WR Steve Smith Sr. Bal
84 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable RB Alfred Blue Hou

Keepers: Jeremy Hill, which almost makes up for the Cam Newton keeper.

Best Pick: Giovani Bernard
Remember going into last year when Giovani Bernard was a second round pick? He was good, and people expected big things. But last year he struggled with injuries and lost his job to Jeremy Hill. That’s not as good, but he’s still a good back, and if he’s healthy, the Bengals are going to find ways to get him involved, especially since he is much more versatile than the one-dimensional Hill (but his one-dimension is very, very good).

Worst Pick: Darren McFadden
In what universe is Darren McFadden a good idea? He is losing the starting battle at running back for the Cowboys to Joseph Randle. Randle is so unimpressive himself that they traded for Christine Michel. So it is going to take Randle getting hurt, Michel not impressing at all, and McFadden actually staying healthy enough to take advantage of Dallas’s offensive line. I don’t believe that we live that universe, so I would not have made that pick.

My Pick: None
I traded my seventh round football pick for Max Scherzer right before he started shitting the bed in every one of his starts. So, hooray me.

Round 8
85 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable RB Duke Johnson Cle
86 Geriatric All Stars  WR Eric Decker NYJ
87 Wegher Bombs WR Kendall Wright Ten
88 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap  RB Tre Mason StL
89 Run And Hyde WR DeVante Parker Mia
90 Hot Joel TE Martellus Bennett Chi
91 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman RB Knile Davis KC
92 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks WR Marques Colston NO
93 Graham Cracker WR Devin Funchess Car
94 You Just Have To BELLieve! WR Mike Evans TB
95 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President  RB David Johnson Ari
96 Wegher Bombs QB Russell Wilson Sea

Keepers: Russell Wilson and Mike Evans

Best Pick: Martellus Bennett
I don’t think it would be crazy to expect Martellus Bennett to take another step forward and be a top three tight end this year. John Fox is a fairly conservative coach which means his offenses have usually maximized the production of the tight end. Of course there was Julius Thomas last year, but Martellus Bennet has the potential to be the next Wesley Walls, and that dude was no joke.

Worst Pick: Knile Davis
He’s a backup, and he’s not all that good. If I was looking for a running back to take a flyer on, there were about ten guys I would have taken before considering Davis.

My Picks: Kendall Wright and Russell Wilson
I am a huge fan of Kendall Wright. Like, I understand Emmanuel Sanders put up big numbers last year, but I think Kendall Wright could have definitely done that in the right offense; he just hasn’t been in the right offense. I think that begins to change this year, as Kendall Wright would have been an ideal target for Marcus Mariota’s skillset at Oregon, and I think those two will have a lot of fun carving up defenses this year. I think he puts up 1000 yards this year.

Russell Wilson was never the quarterback I wanted during the draft last year. I don’t even think I put him on my list of draftable players. But he kept falling and falling. Still, I had no intentions of taking him. Who did I want instead? My plans were Josh Gordon, who got taken two picks before mine, and Kyle Rudolph, who got taken one pick before mine. So I was stuck with Russell Wilson. And now I’m thinking that’s pretty cool. He’s got a brand new tight end, and they actively made their offensive line worse, so there is the likelihood that they will be forced to pass more. Russell Wilson is now my main man.

Round 9
97 Deez Nuts RB Bishop Sankey Ten
98 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President  QB Matthew Stafford Det
99 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman WR Eddie Royal Chi
100 Graham Cracker RB Danny Woodhead SD
101 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks RB DeAngelo Williams Pit
102 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman TE Dwayne Allen Ind
103 Hot Joel RB Devonta Freeman Atl
104 Run And Hyde D/ST Seahawks D/ST Sea
105 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap  QB Philip Rivers SD
106 Deez Nuts WR Markus Wheaton Pit
107 Geriatric All Stars  TE Jason Witten Dal
108 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable QB Sam Bradford Phi

Best Pick: Philip Rivers
I don’t really understand what separates Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, and Tony Romo where they are Round 6 guys, and Rivers goes three rounds later. I guess they have elite #1 wide receivers, but San Diego has slowly gotten more and more talent around Rivers, especially with upgrades to the offensive line. He was hot fire at the beginning of last year, and I wouldn’t bet against him doing it for a whole season this year.

Worst Pick: Seahawks D/ST
I’m just not a fan of taking defenses this early. They’ll be good, but predicting the top fantasy defenses is extremely difficult, so I have my doubts of this paying off.

My Picks: Nobody
Although I didn’t pick anyone, this did conclude my trade where I gave up Rob Gronkowski, Amari Cooper, and Markus Wheaton for Le’Veon Bell, Allen Robinson, and Kendall Wright. Honestly, that looks like a fairly even trade. I definitely like my guys more, but I picked my guys, so that gives me a bit of a bias.

Round 10
109 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable RB Terrance West Ten
110 Geriatric All Stars  RB Ronnie Hillman Den
111 Wegher Bombs RB Christine Michael Dal
112 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap  TE Travis Kelce KC
113 Run And Hyde WR Victor Cruz NYG
114 Hot Joel RB Shane Vereen NYG
115 You Just Have To BELLieve! TE Delanie Walker Ten
116 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks RB Denard Robinson Jac
117 Graham Cracker WR Michael Floyd Ari
118 Run And Hyde WR Cody Latimer Den
119 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President  WR Pierre Garcon Wsh
120 Deez Nuts WR Jordan Matthews Phi

Keepers: Travis Kelce and Jordan Matthews

Best Pick: Pierre Garcon
I don’t really like Pierre Garcon, but I have to recognize him as good value at this point in the draft. With everything falling off a cliff for the Redskins last year, he really did not produce, but two years ago, he had a huge impact. He’s probably not great, but if he isn’t, you drop him after a couple weeks, because you know there’s no improvement on the way. Otherwise, you might have yourself a nice flex option as he’s likely to get more balls than DeSean Jackson, but Jackson will get the big yardage.

Worst Pick: Delanie Walker
If you get excited about Delanie Walker, there is something wrong with you. It’s not that I’m against him, but there were tight ends that have much higher upside, while Walker will just get you pedestrian numbers each week. Nothing wrong with that, but not a whole lot right with it either.

My Pick: Christine Michael
I figured that since Dallas doesn’t like their running backs and were willing to trade for a new one; I should probably look into getting that new one, since Dallas’s offensive line is really, really good. This has about an 80% chance of being a totally worthless pick, but if it does hit, it could hit big.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Reviewing My Fantasy Football Draft - Part 1

My latest fantasy football draft happened Monday night. For the uninformed, it is part of a three sport league with baseball and basketball, and you can trade between sports. I am an impatient person, so I am always wheeling and dealing, and this draft would be no different, as I moved up from 10 to the top overall pick a half hour before the draft. Was it a good deal? Hell, I didn't know at the time, but it was a deal, and it fed my addiction which is all that matters. But we'll get to the details of that later. Let's break down the first five rounds, because I need to post something before the season actually gets going later tonight.

Round 1
1 Wegher Bombs RB Le'Veon Bell Pit
2 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President RB Adrian Peterson Min
3 You Just Have To BELLieve! RB Eddie Lacy GB
4 Graham Cracker RB Jamaal Charles KC
5 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks WR Antonio Brown Pit
6 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman RB Marshawn Lynch Sea
7 Hot Joel RB Matt Forte Chi
8 Run And Hyde RB C.J. Anderson Den
9 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap RB DeMarco Murray Phi
10 Deez Nuts TE Rob Gronkowski NE
11 Geriatric All Stars WR Dez Bryant Dal
12 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable WR Demaryius Thomas Den

Best Pick: Dez Bryant
I had Dez as the sixth best guy in the draft. That is partially because I underestimate Marshawn Lynch every year, but I just don’t see much of a chance of Dez not producing as a top-5 receiver this year and he has a very good shot at being at the top of the list. I also really liked the Eddie Lacy pick, as the Packers have a very good offensive line, and Rodgers has less receiving threats with Nelson out for the year. I was slightly worried about his injury history, and that’s what stopped me from going in that direction, but I could easily see him as the top back this year.

Worst Pick: Rob Gronkowski
You really have to nitpick to find faults in first round picks. Rob Gronkowski will be the highest scoring tight end this season, as long as he can stay healthy. That second part is what concerns me, because he has dealt with numerous injuries, some quite serious, so it really makes his health the biggest concern of anyone drafted in the first round.

My Pick: Le’Veon Bell
As I said earlier, I was between Bell and Lacy, but I think the Pittsburgh offensive line has steadily improved where they are not much worse than the Packers (although not having Pouncey early on will not help), and even though he misses two games early, I like his durability and production to be the best fantasy running back during those last 14 weeks of the season.

Round 2
13 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable WR Julio Jones Atl
14 Geriatric All Stars RB LeSean McCoy Buf
15 Wegher Bombs WR Calvin Johnson Det
16 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap WR Odell Beckham Jr. NYG
17 Run And Hyde RB Carlos Hyde SF
18 Hot Joel WR A.J. Green Cin
19 You Just Have To BELLieve! WR Randall Cobb GB
20 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks WR T.Y. Hilton Ind
21 Graham Cracker QB Aaron Rodgers GB
22 You Just Have To BELLieve! QB Andrew Luck Ind
23 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President RB Lamar Miller Mia
24 Deez Nuts RB Alfred Morris Wsh

Keepers: Andrew Luck

Best Pick: Lamar Miller
Everybody raves about how great the Chip Kelly offense is for running backs in Philadelphia, but Miami is basically attempting to do the same thing and nobody talks about how great things are for Lamar Miller. Miller goes into the season as the clear lead back in this offense, and when he got carries, he put up impressive numbers. I don’t see why his output wouldn’t increase this year, and there’s a good chance he puts up first round stats for a second round cost.

Worst Pick: T.Y. Hilton
I pretty much liked all of the receivers taken in this round…except for T.Y. Hilton. It is nothing against him as a player, but the Colts have way more weapons this year than they had last season, so the ball is going to be spread around. I just don’t see him quite on the level of the other receivers in this round.

My Pick: Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson was hurt for most of the season last year and still put up pretty impressive numbers. He’s a freak of nature, so if he’s fully healthy this season, he should have no issue being a top-5 receiver and making my opponents miserable all year long.

Round 3
25 Deez Nuts RB Melvin Gordon SD
26 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President WR Emmanuel Sanders Den
27 You Just Have To BELLieve! WR Alshon Jeffery Chi
28 Graham Cracker TE Jimmy Graham Sea
29 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks QB Peyton Manning Den
30 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman QB Cam Newton Car
31 Hot Joel RB Justin Forsett Bal
32 Run And Hyde QB Drew Brees NO
33 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap RB Mark Ingram NO
34 Deez Nuts WR Amari Cooper Oak
35 Geriatric All Stars RB Frank Gore Ind
36 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable RB Latavius Murray Oak

Keepers: Cam Newton (Yes, somebody kept Cam Newton for a third round pick. Yes, Cam Newton was projected to be a tenth round pick. Yes, nothing made me smile wider than when I got the email notifying me of the decision, especially since the guy passed up keeping Carlos Hyde for a seventh rounder in order to keep Cam)

Best Pick: Alshon Jeffery
I don’t know why Alshon Jeffery is slipping to 27, but that’s excellent value at that point. Jay Cutler loves number one receivers more than he hates vaccinations. There is no one to threaten his spot at the top, and although he’s been dealing with some minor nagging injuries, it sounds like with the rest he has gotten, he’ll be at full strength going into the regular season.

Worst Pick: Peyton Manning
This is obviously in the non-Cam Newton keeper category. I’m just very down on Manning this year, and not in the fact that I think he’s done, but I just don’t think he’s going to be lighting up scoreboards this year under Gary Kubiak. They are definitely running the ball more, so I see Manning having Tom Brady like numbers. He’ll be a top-10 guy, but there’s a good chance he isn’t in the top-5. There were plenty of quarterbacks that I see producing similar numbers that are going many rounds later in the draft.

My Pick: Nobody
Since I was originally gifted the 10th pick in the draft, I decided to trade up by giving up my first, third, and ninth round pick for the first pick in the draft, along with a sixth and eighth rounder. I feel good about the talent I was able to acquire and am happy that I made the trade.

Round 4
37 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable RB Arian Foster Hou
38 Geriatric All Stars WR Golden Tate Det
39 Wegher Bombs RB Todd Gurley StL
40 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap QB Tom Brady NE
41 Run And Hyde RB T.J. Yeldon Jac
42 Hot Joel WR Keenan Allen SD
43 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman WR Davante Adams GB
44 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks RB Joseph Randle Dal
45 Graham Cracker WR Andre Johnson Ind
46 You Just Have To BELLieve! RB Andre Ellington Ari
47 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President WR Julian Edelman NE
48 Deez Nuts RB Jonathan Stewart Car

Best Pick: Arian Foster
If Arian Foster was completely healthy going into this season, he’s a first round pick. His injury is nothing to scoff at, but it looks like he’ll be ready to go by week 2 or 3. Yes, injuries are an extra concern for Foster, but at that point in the draft, there are no sure things, and he was by far the most proven commodity available.

Worst Pick: Tom Brady
As you can probably tell, I was not a big fan of taking quarterbacks early this year. Can you really expect Tom Brady to perform better than Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, or Philip Rivers? Those guys are going 2, 3, and 5 rounds later respectively than Brady. And I think everyone keeps thinking back to the time he had Randy Moss and set the world on fire, but the Patriots do not have that receiving corps anymore. Yes, Gronk is an absolute beast, but as I said earlier, he’s not the healthiest guy in the world. I just see his best case scenario as meeting this draft spot with a good chance that he falls short.

My Pick: Todd Gurley
Holy shit is my team going to suck the first couple weeks. Todd Gurley wasn’t really a guy I was targeting in drafts as he didn’t end up on my other two squads, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love me some Todd Gurley. It’s just that in other drafts, I liked other guys more when I was drafting. Todd Gurley is legit, and he does everything you need a running back to do well. He can catch passes, he can block, and most importantly, he can run like an absolute beast. He looks like Adrian Peterson, and considering how well that guy came back from his knee injury, I think that after the Rams have a bye in week 6, he’s going to turn on the jets and be a fantasy monster. The Rams wouldn’t have used a first round pick on him if they thought anything less.

But yes, I’m really just hoping for a .500 record early in the season considering my issues at running back.

Round 5
49 Deez Nuts WR Brandon Marshall NYJ
50 Larry Donnell Trump 4 President WR Vincent Jackson TB
51 You Just Have To BELLieve! RB Chris Ivory NYJ
52 Graham Cracker RB Joique Bell Det
53 Too Many (Brandin) Cooks RB Doug Martin TB
54 Al Pacino From Scent of a Woman WR Jarvis Landry Mia
55 Hot Joel WR Jeremy Maclin KC
56 Run And Hyde WR Nelson Agholor Phi
57 Steele Jantz’s Jock Strap WR DeSean Jackson Wsh
58 Wegher Bombs WR Sammy Watkins Buf
59 Geriatric All Stars RB Rashad Jennings NYG
60 Ready, Willing And Tom Cable WR DeAndre Hopkins Hou

Keepers: Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins

Best Pick: Doug Martin
I am easily influenced by seeing people do good things in person, and Doug Martin was off the chain in the Buccaneers second preseason game that I attended. He was finding holes and exploding through them with quickness that he hasn’t had since his rookie year. I think the Muscle Hamster is back, and I am not happy that he is not a part of my team.

Worst Pick: Jarvis Landry
I really like Jarvis Landry, but the Dolphins added a ton of receiving options this offseason, and he’s probably not going to be a prime red zone target with his skills. I think he’s more in the range of possible flex option, first guy off the bench as opposed to the true starting receiver that were drafted in this round. I have a hard time imagining Jarvis Landry putting up bigger numbers than Jeremy Maclin.

My Pick: Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins was one of my two keepers for the year, and it was a bit of a borderline call. Hypothetically, he may have been available at this time, and I may have been able to get somebody I liked better. But looking at what was available, there is a good chance he wouldn’t have been there, and I definitely would have taken him had he been there. I think Watkins is getting underrated, partly because of injuries last year, and partly because of the Buffalo quarterback situation. I like Kyle Orton quite a bit, but I don’t think Tyrod Taylor is going to be a tremendous step backwards for this offense, and I could see Sammy Watkins taking a tremendous step forward.

I'll be back with part two as soon as I can. That, as you may have guessed, will be followed by part three.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Overreacting to Iowa's Win Over Illinois State

I'm not gonna lie, I was super low on Iowa coming into the season. I felt like the question marks that Iowa had were huge concerns that seemed to be downplayed. The offensive tackles were reportedly the hottest, stinkiest garbage that has ever been allowed to play college football. The guards weren't all that fantastic last year, so Iowa likely had their worst offensive line since Kirk Ferentz's first season. On top of that, they needed to replace both defensive tackles, and it's not like they were overflowing with amazing talent at linebacker. I liked the secondary, I liked Tevaun Smith, I was excited for CJ Beathard, and I figured the running backs couldn't be any worse.

So when Iowa took on last year's National Championship Runner-Up (don't worry about what level), Illinois State, I was shocked by how good Iowa looked. They ended up winning the game 31-14, but had Iowa kept in the starters, they probably would have scored once or twice more, and there's a good chance that Illinois State wouldn't have scored at all. It was an impressive performance all-around.

So of course I have done a 180 and am now all-in on Iowa this year. Is this irrational? Of course it is, but I can totally justify it. The tackles, whch were my biggest concern had no issues with Illiniois State's pass rush. Some of those guys were big recruits before transferring out to a smaller school? Does that mean they likely weren't all that good? Yes, but they at east have impressive physical attributes, and Iowa's tackles withstood that, which is more than I expected. I honestly expected a bloodbath in every game, but I am happy to say that I was very wrong.

The offense truly shocked me with how good they looked. Beathard definitely didn't disappoint as he made smart decisions and carved up a defense that was overmatched. The running backs were the true shining stars as LeShun Daniels tore it up on the ground, and Jordan Canzeri tore it up as a receiver. The offensive line took care of business in the running and passing games, which means the only mild concern so far is that the tight ends were a total non-factor, but that's being pretty nitpicky about things.

And defensively, the defensive line shined the brightest as Drew Ott was a monster and Jaleel Johnson showed that he is more than ready to make an impact as a starter. The secondary played very well, as Greg Mabin was making plays in both the running and passing games, while Desmond King is one of the best corners in the conference. And Josey Jewell led a solid effort from the linebackers as he was able to diagnose plays and attack the runners. Illinois State has some legitimate threats on offense, and Iowa absolutely overwhelmed them on that side of the ball.

And it's not like Iowa's schedule is all that difficult. To demonstrate how soft it is, let's just do a quick power rankings of Iowa's opponents from how they looked in week one.

1. Northwestern
2. Illinois
3. Maryland
4. Iowa State
5. Minnesota
6. Pitt
7. Indiana
8. Nebraska
9. Wisconsin
10. Texas State
11. Purdue

Yeah, that is seriously their schedule. I mean, judging by how these teams looked in week one, this might be the easiest schedule in the nation. I'm not sure what is most laughable about this, Northwestern at 1, Illinois at 2, or Iowa State at 4, but that's a pretty accurate portrayal of how these teams performed in their first game. It's not like Iowa couldn't beat any of these teams.

Every year, I go into the Iowa football season with way too much optimism, always seeing how things could break right. I inevitably end up disappointed. But this year, I was skeptical going into the year, so maybe this is the year that they shock me and the rest of the world and actually put together a great season.

Either that, or I just waited one week to get my hopes way too high only to see Iowa shit the bed against Iowa State. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: Leaked RAW Script From 8/31/15

Hey, I don't know how Lukewarm Jonah got the goods (and honestly, I don't want to know), but he somehow managed to get his hands on this leaked script from RAW last week. He told me this is real, and honestly, it seems fairly legit (although for legal purposes, this may not be legit in any way, shape, and form). LJ, take it away:

RAW opens with Sting’s music hitting as he makes his way to the ring for a promo.

Sting: It’s great to be back here in Tampa.  But now onto the important stuff.  The last time I fought in the WWE I fought The Game, The Asskicker, The greatest, funniest, smartest, most handsome wrestler, no wait person, ever in the history of the entire universe Triple H.  Even though I spent months being angry at him for abusing his power and he had to resort to hitting me in the head with a sledgehammer to win our match at Wrestlemania, him shaking my hand was the greatest moment of my life, way better than my wedding or the birth of my children.  Now I have to fight Seth Rollins who despite being the World Heavyweight Champion and US champion is a complete joke, especially when you compare him to The Cerebral Assassin Triple H.  Coming out here week in and week out and performing at a high level ain’t shit when you compare it to a 46 year old guy who wrestles once a year.  Just on a personal level, I would also like to point out that I’ve seen Triple H in the locker room and let me tell you that he’s always carrying around a sledgehammer if you know what I mean.

Sting leaves, cut to backstage where Seth Rollins and Stephanie McMahon are standing.

Rollins: I’m understandably upset that Sting just completely ran me down.

Steph: Whoa there no one has ever been better than my husband so don’t say, think, or even wonder about it.

Two hours of stupid wrestling that doesn’t include Triple H.  Important note: Make sure to say Diva’s Revolution as much as possible without any irony while putting on incredibly short diva’s matches.

Final segment- Seth Rollins comes out to the ring to cut a promo.

Rollins: Sting sucks, he’s the reason WCW went out of business.  Now since I’m the champion of the world and the United States I think I’m as good as Triple H, note I didn’t even say better just that I think I’m as good, and that I hope that one day I can surpass him because I have career goals and such.  Now come out here Sting.

Steph’s music hits.

Steph: Don’t talk about Triple H, he’s obviously the greatest most popular wrestler ever despite what facts say.

Rollins: Well remember when Triple H was actually an active wrestler?  He was in Evolution with Ric Flair.  Now people think that Ric Flair was the greatest of all time, but Triple H still wanted to be the best and thought that he was better than a much older part time wrestler.  Also remember I literally said I think I’m as good as him, not better.

Steph: Never mention Triple H again unless it’s about a WWE.com list that he’s on the top of.  Don’t let Sting get in your head.

Rollins: You’re right, Sting get out here.

John Cena’s music hits and Cena makes his way to the ring.

Cena: I hate the authority and everything they stand for.  I’ve been battling them forever, one time my team even got them fired for awhile.  But let me tell you something about respect, I respect Triple H because he’s the man.  Now, then, forever, that’s not a WWE slogan, that’s when you should be thinking and talking about Triple H.  You’re just some chump who’s the World Heavyweight and United States champion, clearly I respect those belts because I’m telling you how much you suck even though you hold both of them.  I challenge you to a US Title match.  Steph make it happen.

Steph: Yep that’s happening.

Rollins: Gosh darn it!

Cena’s music hits, Sting’s music hits, then Triple H’s music hits and he comes out, both Cena and Sting shake his hand and bow to him before he Pedigrees them both through the entryway.  Note: We may have to cut out the very end due to time.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Savio Vega Is Mr. In Your House

Shawn Michaels earned the moniker of Mr. WrestleMania as he put on a ton of legendary performances on the biggest stage of all. Now, I find it more than slightly debatable than The Hearbreak Kid is the true Mr. WrestleMania. Since I am a lifelong Hulkamaniac, I obviously put Hogan very high on the list, and Undertaker could definitely make a claim. Still, it got me thinking about who would be the guy known as the embodiment of other pay per views. After thinking about the impact that people had and what those PPVs meant, there was really only one clear choice to take that honor. And that is why Savio Vega is Mr. In Your House.

Think about it: In Your House is probably one of the worst PPVs that the WWE has ever had, and that sounds like I am demeaning Savio Vega. In a way, I am, but any PPV is better than no PPV, and although I was never a huge Savio Vega guy, it is better to have Savio Vega instead of nobody at all.

And don't get it twisted, this man made an impact at many of the In Your Houses. He debuted on it to help out Razor Ramon, and proceeded to personify a dark period in WWE history. Savio was a good guy, because the WWE decided you should cheer for him. He was an honorable dude, but he never really did anything. He was basically Rocky Maivia without the looks and charisma. He was the transitional WWE Superstar, to get people doing more important things, much like In Your House was a transitional PPV to get to something that was actually important.

He hung out with Santa Claus for In Your House 5, and Million Dollar Man tried to buy Savio, but Savio wouldn't let him, because of his belief in Santa Claus. Then Santa Claus attacked Savio, as he had been bought by Million Dollar Man. It turns out that it was actually Xanta Klaus, who is from the South Pole and steals presents. Xanta Claus lasted one other night, which is about the most In Your House thing possible.

If you think that was the end of his run against Million Dollar Man, you would be sorely mistaken. First, he lost to Stone Cold Steve Austin, but he vowed revenge in a Caribbean Strap Match. Ted DiBiase was so confident that he said he would retire if Savio won. Well, Mr. In Your House took it to Stone Cold and won the match to boot DiBiase over to WCW. Vega managed to do this a month before Stone Cold won the King of the Ring and began his ascension to superstardom. Stone Cold may have been great, but he was not Mr. In Your House.

Oh, and in one of the most In Your House things ever, he literally had the same feud with Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw that he did with Stone Cold in that Bradshaw won their first match, and then Vega beat him in a Caribbean Strap Match. Yes, Savio Vega could definitely be called, Mr. Caribbean Strap Match.

Instead, he became Mr. In Your House. A forgettable superstar matching a forgettable string of Pay Per Views. But In Your House was a Pay Per View, and Savio Vega was a WWE Superstar. Savio Vega embodies the importance of just making it there. His career may be forgettable for a WWE Superstar, but it is still more memorable than 99.9% of the general population. Mr. In Your House may not be Mr. WrestleMania, but it's still one hell of an impressive accomplishment.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I'm Training MMA Again

Let me just start by making one thing clear: I am not tough. Although I have learned how to deal with a moderate amount of pain through training, I do not like pain. If I see a bee buzzing around, I freak out, because getting stung sounds awful to me. Pain is terrible, and I would way rather be comfortable. But for me, MMA has never really been about the pain, it has been more about hte competition. As we become adults, we really don't have many outlets for competition. Most sports are beer leagues, which may be fun, but it doesn't really fill that competitive void.

I have had the itch for a while. Some of that itch is an admitted Napoleon Complex. Other times I think it is just the pursuit of competition. Maybe I'm just the world's biggest sissy masochist where I want to feel pain but not too much pain, because pain hurts. And it may just be that I want to be good at something. Since my job search has been a frustrating mess, just being able to go out and be good and get even better at something definitely has appeal.

Last time, I had the time and lack of responsibilities to go to a world class gym. This new place is different. As far as I know, they haven't produced any UFC fighters. Still, they have legitimate trainers who are good enough to help me keep improving for the foreseeable future.

On my first day, I got partnered with another guy who had not done it for a while but had experience training. I realized I had definitely retained some knowledge as I ragdolled him like I was a boss. I was feeling really good about myself.

I should have left after the grappling side of things.

Instead, I stuck around for Muay Thai. I strike like an 8-year-old girl So after flailing around for an hour, at the end of practice we went three rounds and took turns kicking each other's thighs. In the final round, I got partnered with a girl, and I had to bite down on my mouthpiece as hard as I could just to avoid tears from streaming down my face. I am not a tough guy.

But it's okay to not be a tough guy. Fighting is for tough guys. Training in MMA is not for tough guys, and I'm living proof of that. I don't know exactly what void MMA fills for me, but the physical pain usually ends in mental bliss (after practices, I have so much adrenaline that I feel nothing; unfortunately, the adrenaline wears off after a while, and I feel like death about 15 minutes later), so we'll see how long a wuss like me can stick with it.