Well… we’re at that point in the season where we’ve separated the men from the boys. Sorry ladies. It’s just an expression. Those of you that have already clinched a playoff berth, congratulations. Those that are no longer setting their lineups, SHAME ON YOU. Please notice the CAPS. There is very little I despise more than when someone does not set their lineup. Leaving a player that is on a bye or out due to injury is UNACCEPTABLE at any time of the season. I get it, we all have lives and hiccups are going to happen along the way, but more than once is a season is enough for me to want you out of the league. Sorry, but if you can’t find the little bit of time it takes each week to make sure you at least have a lineup of active players, you don’t belong in my league. You’re affecting the outcome of the league when you do this and I won’t stand for it. I won’t sit for it either. In one of my leagues I have gotten my league mates to agree to a fine of $20 for every inactive player left in a lineup. I could go on, but I actually had a different agenda today.
Like most guys (sorry girls) that grew up in the 1980s, I will always have a place in my heart for Rocky. There are very few movies from my childhood that still get me as pumped up as those from the Rocky saga. Eddie Murphy has a great bit about Rocky in his standup special Raw (explicit language). Man do I miss the old Eddie. Anyone else love Beverly Hills Cop? Back to Balboa. My current workout and running mix is dominated with songs from the various Rocky soundtracks. There is only one song to which I will conclude a treadmill or street running session. Training Montage from Rocky IV. There’s no other option!
Given my current life schedule, I don’t have the opportunity to get to the movies. I do, however, already have my ticket to see The Force Awakens on opening night. Nerd alert! But back to the Italian Stallion. I’d really like to see Creed. I might try and sneak out at lunch and check it out. Have any of you seen it? Thoughts? I like the premise, and let’s face it, if we want more Rocky, it’s going to have to be someone else that gets in the ring. Stallone is just too old to make it even somewhat realistic. Plus, I’ve been a fan of the other Michael Jordan since his days as Wallace in The Wire. Loved The Wire. Highly recommended. As a big fan of Friday Night Lights, his role as Vince Howard, the star QB of the East Dillion Lions, gives me more reason to want to support him. I’m not saying he’s a great actor, perhaps he’s just been in a few things that I have really enjoyed. I will say this, I like him much more than his doppleganger Nick Cannon.
Matthew Stafford – In my opinion Stafford has been little more than a dud this season. Compared to Peyton Manning he’s been Tom Brady, but that’s not much of a comparison. Which by the way, if comparing him to Peyton makes him Brady, who does that make the real Tom Brady when comparing him to Manning. Something to ponder. Stafford has had two good games this season. Back in week 6, in an overtime game, he threw for 405 yards and 4 touchdowns. Last week he had his second in which he threw for 337 yards and 5 touchdowns. On the season he is averaging 263 yards, 1.83 touchdowns and an interception per game. Google “pedestrian quarterback stats” and you should find something along those lines. In Yahoo! leagues, he is averaging about 18.8 points per game which puts him 12th. That’s a fringe starter who only gets the nod based on matchups. Burning Heart.
Running Back (PPR)
Adrian Peterson – AP is quietly having an MVP-like season. I say quietly because all we’ve heard about this season at the running back position is Devonta Freeman and Todd Gurley. And when it comes to MVP, the only name really being tossed out there with any consistency is Tom Brady. Peterson leads all running back in rushing yards with 1164 yards and trails only Freeman (9) in rushing touchdowns with 8. I will say this, Peterson (237) has had 70 more carries than Freeman (167). At Freeman’s current yards per carry, he would have 1084 rushing yards if he were to run the ball the same number of times as AP. Freeman’s contribution to the passing game (PPR) gives him the clear advantage this season, however. With Freeman out last week, Peterson took the spotlight, carrying the ball 29 times for 158 yards (5.4 ypc) and 2 touchdowns. Old reliable. Hearts on Fire. No Pain!
Adrian Peterson – See above
Honorable Mention: C.J. Anderson
Wide Receiver (PPR)
Markus Wheaton – Here’s what I said about Wheaton on Wednesday. “I had much higher hopes for Wheaton coming into this season. Perhaps higher hopes are for dopes. Get it? But looking at his game logs, perhaps he’s just not getting enough opportunities and looks. Prior to Sunday’s game Wheaton was averaging just 3.2 targets per game. What the heck can a player do with just 3 targets per game? On Sunday he saw 13 targets. How’d he do? He caught 9 of them for 201 yards and a touchdown. Only two other receivers have gone over 200 yards this season (A.J. Green 227 and Antonio Brown 284). Despite this monster performance I’m taking a pass on Wheaton.”
What makes this performance more impressive is the fact that it came against the Seahawks. Coming into this game Seattle’s defense was giving up the least yards per game to opposing wide receivers. He must have eaten his Wheaties! Or would that be Wheatonies? Living In America!
Markus Wheaton – See above
Doug Baldwin – It seems I have a habit of including players in my Wednesday post that end up in my Friday post. Pure coincidence. I don’t run The Stats Machine until Thursday. I can see why this happens. A player with a good enough performance to make the Who Are These Guys list certainly has a fair chance at being recognized by TSM. Instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel, here’s what I said in that post. “Doug E. Fresh scored a hat trick last week, scoring 3 touchdowns in the Seahawks win over the Steelers. In that game he caught 6 of 8 targets for 145 yards. In two of his last three games Baldwin has gone over 100 receiving yards. On the season, however, he is averaging only 4.5 catches per game. That’s not very enticing. It will be interesting to see how Jimmy Graham’s targets are dispersed.”
Allow me to say nearly the complete opposite of what I said about Wheaton’s performance against Seattle. The Steeler’s defense has been rather generous to opposing wide receivers giving up 198 yards per game. That is second worst in the league after Kansas City (201). So you can pump the brakes on Baldwin a bit…
Tight End (PPR)
Julius Thomas – I can’t believe this is the first time The Stats Machine has mentioned Julius Thomas this season. I guess considering he’s only played 7 games and with competition such as Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Eifert and even Gary Barnidge at tight end, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Last week he caught 9 of 10 targets for 116 yards and a score and won his first spotlight by TSM. He does have a touchdown in two games in a row now and some decent matchups coming up. So if you need a fill-in, perhaps give him a look. Does he have an endorsement deal with Orange Julius yet? Seems like a no brainer.
Julius Thomas – See above
According to The Stats Machine’s forecasting, here are some players/teams at each position that cumulatively seem to have favorable matchups between now and week 16 based on opposing defenses.
Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill, Alex Smith and Brock Osweiler
Running Back: LeSean McCoy, Bears, Doug Martin and Chiefs
Wide Receiver: Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Chiefs and Dolphins
Tight End: Greg Olsen, Broncos, Arizona
Honorable Mention: Tommy Gunn