Formerly an email newsletter about all things NFL, it's now a blog about all things NFL, but mostly all things Dallas Cowboys. Probably with a dose of politics, food, and college football.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

SI's Don Banks hates fantasy football, I don't

I stopped playing fantasy football about 10 years ago, but I'm still a consultant. I like fantasy football, but stopped having my own team because I couldn't stand rooting for players on other teams, or rooting for a TD pass instead of a run, or having a starting receiver scratch at game time and have his backup catch 332 yards worth of passes while on my bench.

But playing fantasy football was interesting, and really helped me gain knowledge of players across the NFL. It made me watch young players and college players more closely, and understand why a guy might be a fraud or a gem down the road.

SI's Don Banks detests the fantasy football "craze." Calling it a craze is strike one against his argument. A craze is a "short lived popular fashion; a fad" according to the dictionary. Since I was playing in the late 80's I hardly think it's a craze.

Here are Banks's top ten reasons he's not a fantasy guy, and my responses:

1. It changes how you watch a game.

I'll buy that. He equates this with bettors, who don't care about a win, but a win by how much. I admit that if I had Troy Aikman and Dallas won but he threw 0 TD's while Emmitt ran for four, the victory was bittersweet.

2. It glorifies stat accumulators at the expense of team players

Well, duh. And so what? And, I'm not even sure that's correct. It may glorify a guy with stats, but it's at no one's expense. It's in isolation. If a QB plays for a team with a porous OL, or no running game, or no receivers, the fantasy player is probably keenly aware.

3. It makes heroes out of problem children.

I could go on a long time with this one. I don't know about "heroes" but I think the fact that guys like Randy Moss get picked high shows that the vast majority of fans really don't give a damn what these guys do off the field. The media cares if Moss smokes dope. For the most part, fantasy players and fans in general don't.

4. The geek factor.

I don't buy this at all. Is there a geek factor? Maybe. But football stats, unlike baseball stats, especially nouveau geek baseball stats, like DIPS or VORP or Win Shares, are much more straightforward. Even the straightforward baseball stats are unlike football stats. A .300 hitter who doesn't hit homers, steal bases or drive in runs is not very good, but a 1,000 yard rusher, even one that doesn't score has value, and his value is easily understood.

5. The death of the NFL offseason.

This is filler to fill out his list of 10. The draft, free agency calendar, and overall popularity of the game make the NFL offseason short or nonexistent.

6. It's ridiculously and unfairly skewered toward offense and touchdown-makers.

The fantasy leagues I played in accounted for defense and special teams. Too heavily in one case.

7. All those confusing and divided loyalties.

This did queer it for me. The worst situation was when a rival team would score a TD to beat the Cowboys, but it would be the wrong player. Like, I might have Rodney Hampton on my team, but Simms would hit Bavaro for the gamewinner and I'd be doubly screwed.

8. The expert phenomena.

"Fantasy football transforms average fans into quasi-general managers..." I hate this argument. We're just fans, so we don't... know. Fantasy players can become experts in whether the players on their favorite team are really any good or not. Not all great players put up the best stats, but fantasy football can cause you to watch a player with a more critical eye. It causes you to look critically at matchups.

I think fantasy players may be the only one who understand why two different coaches took Barry Sanders out in goal line situations. It wasn't because he couldn't score TD's, it was because his running style did not lend itself to compressed field situations. Sanders would rather lose four yards trying to gain 10 than just put his head down and gain three and , you know, score.

9. The money aspect.

Never played in a money league. Banks thinks it might corrupt the game. Far-fetched; specious. This is more filler.

10. The trendiness of it all.

If Banks had written this in 1995, when I stopped playing, it might make sense. Fantasy football is almost venerable, and can it really be "trendy" if there is absolutely no sign of a downward trend?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Offense: Stinks less like cat box

And more like fresh garbage. Garbage stinks, but you still don’t take it out until the bag is full. It’s a tolerable stink.

The OL was sub par, but that’s a step up from the Arizona game. Rookie RT Rob Petitti was not a statue. He might be OK with help and a couple more weeks of practice. C Al Johnson has one gear, reverse, but at least he sticks with his blocks until the play is over, unlike his competitor for the starting job, Andre Gurode. Johnson is not good, but he’s better than Gurode. Larry Allen and Flo Adams were OK.

Bledsoe was not good, but again this is a non-issue. Bledsoe is the QB, and he will be all year. He got a lot more time in the pocket this week but still didn’t do much with it, and even scrambled a couple times. One time he put his head down and made a diving attempt at the first down marker. He didn’t make it and took a hit. Ordinarily I’d admire that, but he looked like a giraffe on roller skates doing it.

Julius Jones looked great. He won’t need much daylight to make things happen. A threat every time he touches the ball.

WR Terry Glenn has been invisible, and apparently Keyshawn has never been a big preseason player. Third WR appears to have been locked up by Patrick Crayton, and he looks solid. Along with Witten, the receivers are a good group.

This could be a frustrating unit. Good enough to win most games, but the line and QB are so far below elite that they’ll always lose to the good teams.

Defense: Curbing my enthusiasm

My enthusiasm has a pretty good governor anyway, but I have to put a little extra effort into not getting excited about DE/OLB DeMarcus Ware.

Sack, forced fumble, recovered fumble, plays the run well, runs across the field and makes an INT, forces another fumble, gets Parcells water.

But like Parcells said, don’t put him in Canton yet.

He was a force. Now do it again. And in the regular season. And more consistently. Ware played a lot, but in the 2nd half he didn’t really do anything.

It’s been a while since Dallas has had a guy who could rush the passer on his own. If he can do that, he’ll make a lot of the guys around him look better.

So will NT Jason Ferguson, who was not in the lineup again. It’s not saying much, er, it’s not saying anything really, but the D looks like it could be a lot better than last year.

That would be due to the front 7, because Matt Hasselbeck consistently found open receivers, completing 80% of his passes for substantial yardage. I hope that the PR from the Cowboys is right. They say it’s the learning curve of the new defense and/or the preseason is when these things get worked out. That’s plausible. I’d feel better if it were Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper lighting them up instead of Kurt Warner and Matt Hasselbeck, but I’m hopeful.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Looking forward to a pasting

No, not of the Cowboys, by the Cowboys. What? Where my negativity at?

Seattle, last I knew, was a sieve on defense, and a perenially inconsistent tease on offense.

The buzz says Dallas is going to have a game plan this time, after not having one for Arizona.

Julius Jones ran for, I don’t know, almost 200 yards against them last year.

The less worse of the two Cowboys’ centers, Al Johnson, will be starting.

Ty Walter, an underrated plugger, will start at RG, and rookie RT Rob Petitti can’t possibly be as bad as he was against Arizona.

It’s Monday Night Football, so maybe even Adams and Allen show up like it’s a real game. They’ll probably wager who John Madden will talk about more, so they’ll be actively trying to bury their opponent.

I hoped Jason Ferguson would be starting at NT, but he’s still out with an ankle. Still, Dallas did a nice job against the run in Arizona, and there’s no reason to think the D will regress off that effort. It’s just Matt Hasslebeck.

So I expect Dallas to score a couple times with the first team in there, and another couple times after that.

Check out Seattle backup QB Seneca Wallace. I saw a Seattle preseason game last year and he really impressed me. He has a freakishly quick drop, and I think their offense really suits him.