“All aboard!” Stevens called out, standing at the rear of a semi-truck he had been using to drive the RazzBowl tournament participants across the country for the last twelve weeks. He pulled out a clipboard, took a swig of his blue raspberry slurpee, and read names off a list. Such was the life of the #2 seed in the Razzbowl: always the 1.02, never the 1.01. 

“Jerry Jan–” Stevens started when he was interrupted by a hand shooting up out of the crowd. “HERE!” the voice shouted, its face covered by an Antonio Brown vintage helmet. The figure shoved forward, toward the Razzball trophy that sat un-loved on the asphalt. The figure rushed forward, grasping the trophy’s handle like a lover’s hand. The trophy was cold, its silver-lining frosted frosted from the morning mist in the mountains. “What have they done to you my precious?” the figure whispered through the mouthguard. 

“OK, Jerry, you’re sitting up front with me,” Stevens said. “Everybody else, you’ll be enjoying a free showing of Batman and Robin in the trailer. Now, let’s get the champions in! Next up, Will Weiler…” Stevens trailed off, ignoring the helmet-ed figure heading towards the cab of the semi.

That helmet-ed figure was, of course, not the Razzbowl #1 seed Jerry Janiga. Where Jerry was, nobody could quite tell. In the darkness that followed the hellscape that was Wednesday Afternoon Football in Week 12, the former #1 seed The Joey Wright had “dropped” Jerry from his “roster.” 

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Well, well, well. Week 12. Do I need to introduce what ended up being one of the weirdest weeks in NFL history? From a fantasy perspective, we watched Patrick Mahomes chase the Chiefs’ record for single-game passing yards (held by Elvis Grbac, you Trivial Pursuit maniac), while also watching Denver Broncos practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton make his NFL debut as a QB. One of those situations did not end well. On top of all of that, we’re looking forward to Tuesday Wednesday Night Football. In case you forgot, when Tuesday Night Football that happened earlier in the year wreaked havoc on stats providers who hadn’t prepared for “Y2K,” and some fantasy providers went weeks without accurate scoring. And now we’ve got a WNF, which is also the name of my favorite Korean boy-band. SEW (<- not a boy band). I’m giving you the best information that’s available at the time of writing, and hopefully Week 13 will be a bit easier to navigate. Next week will be the final installment of the rest of season QB rankings, so if you’re hoping to follow me here at Razzball, I’ll ask you to navigate over to the basketball section, where I’ll be doing a weekly player highlight column. 

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Deep in Razzball Headquarters — probably somewhere in Donkey Teeth’s third basement where he keeps his Jay Cutler jersey collection — a phone rang. The ringtone, Carley Rae Jepsen, but not the song you’re thinking of. This phone call broke the rules of decorum, where Donkey Teeth was not to be bothered while attempting to ascend to the status of bodhisattva. The un-becoming would wait.

“Aye,” Donkey Teeth answered, returning to the material plane and answering his Blackberry. 

“We’ve got a problem here, boss.” It was EverywhereBlair, weekly columnist for Razzball and the 18th most-read ranker on Reddit. “Seems Joey’s not coming out of his bubble.” 

“Leave it to me. I’ll be there in a minute,” Donkey Teeth said, leaving his lotus position and ending the call. Naked, he stood in front of his miniature shrine to Rex Grossman, his focal point for meditation. “Blue 42,” he whispered, and disappeared. 

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Who’s ready for Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving means three things: Matt Stafford, the turkey and contentious political commentary. Wait, what’s an Oxford comma again? OK, that was one thing. Hopefully you’ll be safe in your mansions this week. For the rest of us, let’s take a look at the thing keeping us hopeful: the upcoming fantasy playoffs and the quarterbacks that lead our teams through darkness. 

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The Joey Wright was a king without a prince, even though the song 1999 pulsed in the background of the VIP section at Sticks, the only football-themed nightclub on the West Coast. The Battle of Lake Tahoe was won, but the War of the Razzbowl had taken its toll. 

“Another New Coke?” the bottle girl asked Joey, her referee-striped uniform reminding him of the Super Bowl Shuffle. 

“IT DOES NOTHING FOR ME!” Joey shouted, tossing a red flag on the floor to indicate he was done with his VIP session. The tech bros at the booth across the aisle poked their eyes up from their Nachos Grande and noticed Joey cradling a picture, whispering to it. One of them came over. 

“You OK, man?” the tech bro asked Joey. 

“Not since I lost The Mick,”

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When Covid isn’t flattening QBs and teams left and right, massive windstorms have completely shut down QBs several times this year. In Week 10, another Vortex Giant (CR25 for you nerds) stomped into many stadiums, leaving giant killers like Nick Chubb and [checks notes] Ben Roethisberger (hmmm) to save the villagers. I’ve asked fantasy managers to be proactive about rostering useful streaming QBs, if not to provide options in case of Covid or weather, but at the very least to deprive your opponents of a starting QB. This last week, your opponents would have gotten useful streaming games from bottom-tier QBs like Alex Smith, Kirk Cousins, and Philip Rivers. Now, I’m not applauding their games. But when other QBs are facing off against sustained 25MPH winds, gusts to 50MPH, and rain/sleet, those fair weather QB streamers look awfully nice. 

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Their gas tank empty, The Joey Wright and The Mick Ciallela stood on the side of a Coloradan road. It didn’t matter which one, they all looked the same here. “Tumbleweed West” is what Joey called it. “The death of us” is what Mick called it under his breath. 

“Check the trunk again,” Joey said, shaking his slurpee container and trying to get the last rocks of sugar into his straw. Mick pounded the trunk of the baby blue Buick Skylark, the latch popping and the trunk opening. “Yeah, I told you, it’s gone. Just this manifesto!” Mick picked up the zine, the color of a rainbow without contrast. The lede: STEAL THIS RAZZBOWL. 

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Earlier in the summer when I was ranking pitchers over on the baseball side, there was a moment early in the baseball season when less than 60 starting pitchers had played; the rest were injured or quarantined or got caught at the club and sent home. The starting quarterback landscape is increasingly looking that way: tons of injuries are taking their toll, and the NFL has a baffling Covid policy where they’re punishing teams for practicing during the week yet still marching teams out every Sunday rather than delaying the games. Was Tuesday Night Football really that bad? I mean, other than screwing up the fantasy scoring systems for like two weeks. ENYWHEY. Outside of Dak Prescott, most of the injuries and quarantines haven’t affected the bulk of fantasy managers playing in standard leagues. Those who are in deep leagues, dynasty leagues, or superflex leagues, however, are probably in massive frustration mode. Here’s how I’m seeing the QB landscape unfold. 

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Through the hole in the floorboard near the gas pedal of the baby blue Buick Skylark, The Joey Wright and The Mick Ciallela watched the pavement pass underneath, mile by mile. The sky was the color of toast, burnt on both sides. 

“How much gas we got, Mick?” Joey asked, his hands jittery on the wheel and his eyes on the horizon. He had heard Nebraska was flat, but he had never heard about how the crows –thousands of a crows aloft in the sky — flew in mesmerizing patterns. He felt they were waiting for something. For them. 

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I like it when there’s a penalty in football. The ref comes out, takes center stage on national television, and in avuncular tone, tells us what exactly went wrong and what the consequences will be. There’s a sincere clarity to a football penalty. It’s like my team’s on-the-field problems are my own. When my team’s cornerback interferes with a pass, it’s like I was getting vicariously handsy with the receiver. Then the ref comes out and tells me I was a bad boy, and that I better keep my hands to myself next time. But then the ref says “Half the distance to the goal,” and I think to myself, I haven’t gotten any of my goals achieved. Now I’m halfway there!

Thanks to you ref, maybe I’ll achieve something this year. 

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