At this time of year, fantasy owners get into an autumn funk. Their necks start to swell as if they’re in full rut. They get salty and don’t know exactly why. I can tell you why. It’s sniper season.
At this point of the fantasy year, those of us strapped into the driver’s seat for a first-round playoff bye – it would take a nasty, major pantload not to assume a playoff spot has already been written in ink – the worst thing you can have this time of year are snipers.
Those who were lucky enough (Sunday morning) to play against Tavon Austin as a flex player know from where I speak on the topic of snipers. In the previous six games, he had 13 receptions for 89 yards and no touchdowns as a receiver and 19 punt returns for 100 yards and no TDs. There’s a roster spot where little is expected. On Sunday, he returned a punt 98 yards for a touchdown and caught two passes for 138 yards and two TDs. Fortunately, it didn’t happen to me, but, in our league, because of Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, Kyle Rudolph and Dwayne Bowe sharing an untimely vacation, an owner had to play Tavon. The sniper struck…with great vengeance and furious anger.
Fantasy football can be painful. You have final scores of 132-131 when nobody else broke 90 that week. But, when it’s a sniper that does the damage, it’s doubly painful.
Nick Foles got the Bronze Star for his sniper ability against Oakland. Marvin Jones has multiple kills on his resume. Andre Johnson hadn’t caught a touchdown in 11 months and went off for three TDs and 200 yards. Denver hadn’t seen a three-touchdown game from a receiver since Shannon Sharpe was eating apples with his horse teeth a decade ago until Sunday. Being a sniper isn’t exclusive to bench players. Big-timers that fantasy owners remain loyal to despite weeks of marginal production can be one-week snipers. Chad Johnson was the poster child of snipers. He’d score 10 TDs every year, but eight of them came in three games.
The feared sniper, guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, etc., is someone with a track record of spine-breaking point totals. You don’t expect that he’s going to deliver the weekly knockout punch against you, but you know what he’s capable of. I fear few slug players more than Owen Daniels and Pierre Thomas, who I refer to as a poor man’s fire and gasoline. When either of them ever plays me, I go Keyser Soze and my week goes “Poof!”
The one-time sniper is the most dangerous. More times than not, he’s a dice roll. Jordan Cameron. Eddie Royal. Darren Sproles is always a cannon ready to cut loose. Riley Cooper is a racist sniper who kisses his Stars and Bars tattoo before shooting. The ultimate sniper (Percy Harvin) is coming back and he’s locked and loaded.
When you get beat by a general, the guy you knew was going to be the one to put a bullet in you that week, you can at least accept the fact that you lost to the best they had going. Brees went for four-hundie and four. Peyton lit up the town. Peterson was angry All Day. Megatron isn’t human. You can accept that. You’ve been robbed of your dignity by the best. That’s what happens. But it’s the lone sniper that remains burned in the long-term memory years after the killing. He doesn’t have enough ammo to be in a firefight. He fires his shots when they count and usually it’s against you.
The longstanding term with the sad head shaking around The Shop has always been, “A buck-fiddy-and-three,” immortalizing some bench scrub who ran or caught for 150 yards and three touchdowns. If you lose to a team that had Brees and Calvin Johnson, you don’t feel as bad as you do losing because Riley Cooper or Jerricho Cotchery inexplicably went “baby fish mouth” on you.
It’s sniper season, my friends. Like the changing of the seasons, sniper season began once Christmas commercials starting airing on TV. Remember when you saw the first one? Sniper season had already started.
Walk softly, my friends. Fantasy season kill shots are starting to be fired.
- Coming into Week 10, the Buccaneers, Jaguars and Vikings were a combined 1-23. In Week 10, they went 3-0. Not too shabby, but they may regret those wins when all three are looking for a quarterback in May’s draft.
- Dallas ran 43 plays against the Saints defense under the tutelage of the Really Big Lebowski. New Orleans carved up the Cowboys for 40 first downs against Rob Ryan’s former defense. The fellas in The Shop raise their glasses. The Dude abides.
- For fantasy owners who won because of the fluky A.J. Green touchdown should gird their loins in their celebration. Karma that nuts usually comes back to kick you in the same vicinity at some point later. Keep the celebrating on the low-low.
- Eddie Lacy may be the new Arian Foster. Since getting hurt in Week 2 and missing a game, over the last six games, Lacy has carried 22 or more times in every game, rushing 143 times for 618 yards and three TDs.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
10. Didn’t You Used To Be Larry Fitzgerald? – What has happened to our beloved Honey Fitz? I’m no fan of dreadlocks, but I’m a Fitz man. A Hall of Famer on paper, he hasn’t been making a lot of paper for fantasy owners recently. In his last three games, all at home in front of his tanned, retiree peeps, he has caught just nine passes for 88 yards and one TD. Those used to be standard single-game numbers, not a three-pack of games.
9. The First Cutler Is the Deepest – When Jay Cutler grabbed his junk on national TV with both hands, some of the boys in The Shop said, “Yeah, so?” To the rest of us, injuries in that neighborhood are taken more serious than most. When it happened three weeks ago, it was thought Cutler would miss three or four games (the Chicago bye week giving him a seven-day free pass). He only missed one game…sort of. After Josh McCown came out of the bullpen and put up great numbers against Washington and went on the road to win the Battle of the JV QBs in Green Bay, Cutler reclaimed his job…until he was once again publicly junk-grabbing. McCown has a better passing rating and has looked efficient. Maybe CFL coach Marc Trestman should trust in his CFL-quality QB rather than risk losing Mocking Jay for the rest of the Hunger Games. The Michael Jackson estate called and said, “Knock that off. It’s trademarked.”
8. The Fall of Arian Nation – Clyde the Bookie is big on numbers. One he has always harped on is that fantasy running backs tend to wear down fast following two or three years of overuse. No RB has been used more over the last three years than Arian Foster and the wear and tear is starting to show. Clyde was crowing when Foster was placed on I.R. with a back injury that wasn’t his biggest injury concern. When doctors open up your spinal region with surgical instruments, your days as a first-round pick are done.
7. Miami (Balls In a) Vice – Remember when the Dolphins were 3-0 and riding high? Now they’ve got the left side of their offensive line preparing multi-million-dollar lawsuits and they got smacked around by the fourth best team in the State of Florida Monday night. Laces out, Dan! This season is going into Snowflake’s tank…and the water’s deep, too.
6. Anger the Rams and You Get the Horns – After beating Super Bowl favorites Seattle, San Francisco and Denver, the Colts were making an argument to be one of the favorites to advance deep in the AFC playoffs. But, not only did they get bounced by 30 at home, the game wasn’t even that close. Just as the Colts provided a blueprint of how to beat Denver, St. Louis did the same for them.
5. Forget the Titans – When a team has a goose egg in the win column in November, you can’t dispute that they suck. For Tennessee, a win would have vaulted them back into the playoff discussion. With Indy losing badly and coming into Nashville, the Titans had a chance to be a legitimate playoff contender. Now, having lost four of their last five, the most recent coming against hapless Jacksonville, their postseason hopes are dead…and deservedly so.
4. Falcons Taste Like Turkey – In their first four losses of the season, Atlanta lost by totals of six, four seven and two points. In their last three losses they have been outscored by 14, 24 and 23 points and, in that span, they’ve been outscored 94-33. They hit bottom with a 23-point home loss to Seattle Sunday and now look like a team in line for a blue chip lottery draft pick as Gonzo rides off into the sunset.
3. Washed Up Washington – The Redskins had everything going their way Thursday night to get back into the NFC East race, where it looks more likely that 8-8 will win the division. To get outscored 20-0 by Minnesota in the final 25 minutes of their game may well have stuck a fork in their season. With the Eagles and Giants winning, they lost ground where they shouldn’t have.
2. Whine and Cheese – First Aaron Rodgers goes down. Then his only backup (Seneca Wallace) goes down. Green Bay has had a lot of injuries, but, until Rodgers comes back, Green Bay may not win a game. They didn’t have a backup plan in place because Packers fans and management alike got spoiled by having ironmen in Brett Favre and Rodgers. Now they’re paying for that arrogance and lack of planning.
1. No D in Big D – The last time Dallas tape looked as it bad as it did Sunday night, Abraham Zapruder was filming it. Ironically, the New Orleans connection made some officials question the legitimacy of the game tape. That couldn’t have happened. The Cowboys have more talent than most teams on both sides of the ball. When they look good, they look really good. When they look bad, they look really bad. Sunday night against New Orleans, they got gutted up so completely that, even if they win the Miss Congeniality competition that is the NFC East title, they will be eliminated quickly and with prejudice.