• The Commish Report: Fantasy Football Week 2

    Before I get into some fantasy football talk, I’d appreciate it if you'll indulge me and allow me to go off the board for a bit and share with you my experience from last Friday night.

    I had the privilege of growing up in a High School football hotbed. I come from a large HS. We had 2400 students in grades 10-12 when I was there, and the nearly 700 in my graduating class actually represented the lowest figure at the time in some 30+ years. I was not a member of the football team, but as you have probably figured out, I was the lead trumpet player in our band, which featured somewhere between 250-300 students. For every home game on Friday nights, 6000-7000+ people would show up to cheer on my alma mater, with many of those same people then making the 45-50 minute trek up the road to Happy Valley on Saturday to watch Penn State. The atmosphere for those games was something special, and certainly something I’ll never forget.

    To be honest, I’ve been relatively under-whelmed by what I’ve seen since I moved away 10 years ago. Admittedly, I haven’t seen much HS football since then, but part of that is because I knew it wouldn’t be the same. I can’t cheer for my alma mater, and quite frankly, the product isn’t as good in and around my new surroundings. This year I’ve taken on a new job, working as the assistant band director of a local HS marching band. Last week, for the first time in nearly 15 years, I got to spend my evening under the Friday night lights. And I realized something as I was watching a second-rate football game between two rival schools from within my current district. There is absolutely nothing that kick-starts a late-summer or fall weekend quite like High School Football.

    No matter the stage, and no matter how crappy the product actually is, you’ll never convince me that high school football isn’t awesome. The kids who are playing it are perfectly flawed. Those kids are playing for the sheer love of the game (except, of course, for the chosen few “big kids” who were hand-picked by a coach in desperate need of a backup lineman). From the simplicity of the stadium, to the strangely appealing smell of wrinkled up dogs and hot chocolate at the concession stand, to the bands on the field or in the stands, there’s just something appealing about football on a Friday night. Perhaps I needed the nearly 15 years away from the Friday night scene to truly appreciate what it was all about. Perhaps getting back into the scene earlier would have led a less-mature me to criticize the fact that instead of 5000-6000+ people enjoying the game, there were only 500-600 there with me on Friday night. Perhaps I would have scoffed at the fact that instead of having 250-300 people in the marching band, I’d be helping with a band that doesn’t even have 40 students participating. Perhaps the seemingly diminished quality of the product on the field would have caused me to cast a negative light on the whole experience. Going into the stadium last week, those are exactly the types of things that I expected to go through my mind as the game unfolded. And yet, no matter the level of competition on the field, the quality of performance by the bands, or the smells emanating from a concession stand that had run out of pepsi and water by the time I got there, there was something refreshingly charming about the whole experience. It’s not about quality as much as it’s about effort.

    Every last kid who stepped foot on that field or on that sideline, whether performing as a member of the team, riding the bench waiting for their opportunity, or participating in one of the two bands, had a gleam merely by being there. To them, it was all about having pride in their effort, and having a good time doing something they truly enjoy. While the game was far from perfect, and every level of performance on that night was less than I had grown accustomed to, I learned that none of those details really mattered. The enjoyment and appreciation for the atmosphere of a high school football game isn’t necessarily tied to the quality of the product. The enjoyment merely comes from the product itself, no strings attached. Last Friday night was the first night in which I was truly able to take everything in, and appreciate high school football for what it is.

    OK, now back to fantasy…

    1. Adrian Peterson- It’s official. He’s back. Only 8 months after surgery, Peterson proved last Sunday that he’s still Adrian Peterson. To those who stole him in round 3 of your drafts, congratulations. You may proceed with him as a top 4-5 back every week moving forward. I do have concerns about how he’ll hold up, and may even recommend him as a sell high at the mid-way point of the season, but he’s already proven he’s Superman. Peterson should have little trouble gashing the Colts defense this weekend.

    Other RB Risers- CJ Spiller, Stevan Ridley

    2. Robert Griffin III- To everyone who said that he was unlikely to do what Cam Newton did last year, you were right. He looks even better than Cam did. Yes, it was against New Orleans, but to put up that kind of performance on the road in your first career game with your best WR playing only 8 snaps is pretty ridiculous. Griffin looked poised in the pocket, kept his eyes down field while moving in and out of the pocket, showed tremendous burst, great accuracy, and a rifle arm. There’s nothing not to like. For all of the analysis of QBs coming out of college, comparing the differences between pro-style and spread, perhaps the most important thing that the elite spread QBs like Newton and Griffin are learning is simply how to read coverages. Those QBs are being taught how to read their progressions from deep to short, and in the shotgun, it allows them to examine the defense right from the snap. When a good college QB struggles upon entering the NFL, the typical reason is because they’re having a hard time adjusting to the speed of the game. But through the case studies of Newton and Griffin, it seems that the elite college QBs with pro-like skills who are running the spread are having their learning curve reduced because they are already able to make what is traditionally the most difficult transition for a QB to make—reading pass progressions. Griffin will have some rough patches for sure, but this week against St. Louis should not be one of those games.

    Other QB Risers- Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning

    3. Reggie Wayne- It’s amazing how just a little injection of life in the QB position can make an aging receiver look young again. Wayne was a target monster in week 1, leading all WR with 18 targets last week, on his way to a 9 catch, 135 yard performance. Wayne also had 4 Red Zone targets, so while he didn’t catch a TD last week, he was close to scoring at least 1, drawing an interference penalty in the end zone. Wayne is already clearly Andrew Luck’s favorite and most reliable target, and should have another good game this week against the Vikings.

    Other WR Risers- Julio Jones, Randall Cobb

    Weekly Upgrades and Downgrades- Essentially, this will serve the same purpose as a start/sit list. However, I hesitate to use those terms because they tend to be a little too finite for my liking. So instead, I’ll refer to these players as weekly upgrades and downgrades, referring specifically to this week’s games (I tried surge and purge last week, but that also didn’t feel right). This isn’t the NFL Network, so I’ll try to avoid the obvious names here. I shouldn’t have to mention that Tom Brady, Arian Foster, or Calvin Johnson are good plays this week, nor should I need to point out that Mark Sanchez, Beanie Wells, or Heath Miller should remain on your bench. I am including my weekly rankings for each player in ( ). This should be used as a rough guide as to exactly how well I feel they’ll do this week. If you have specific questions as to where each rank in relation to who else is on your team, please respond in the comments, and I’ll do my best to adequately address each question.

    Week 2 Upgrades
    QB- Matt Ryan (5), Robert Griffin III (6), Andrew Luck (10), Alex Smith (16)

    RB- Adrian Peterson (3), CJ Spiller (5), Stevan Ridley (11), Trent Richardson (14), Jonathan Stewart (20)

    WR- Steve Smith (4), Percy Harvin (6), Reggie Wayne (13), Dwayne Bowe (16), Stevie Johnson (21)

    TE- Aaron Hernandez (4), Martellus Bennett (9), Kyle Rudolph (10)

    DST- New England (1)

    Week 2 Downgrades
    QB- Matthew Stafford (8), Michael Vick (11), Tony Romo (13)

    RB- DeMarco Murray (11), Chris Johnson (15), Alfred Morris (22)

    WR- Dez Bryant (20), Mike Wallace (27), Jeremy Maclin (33)

    TE- Jason Witten (12)

    DST - New York Jets (10)

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Late movers.

      QB- Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers have always seemed to have more success against good defenses than most teams anyway (and at times worse success against bad defenses), but with Revis out, I'd have confidence in starting Big Ben this week if you don't have a better option. I'd actually start him over both Tony Romo and Philip Rivers if given the choice.

      RB- Jonathan Stewart is active. I think he gets at least 15 touches and is a top 20 back this week against NO.

      WR- Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Jeremy Maclin, and Desean Jackson are all active this week. DJax concerns me this week, but I'd have no hesitation starting the other 3. Smith and Nicks in particular are both top 12 plays, with Smith being the better of the 2 options.

      TE- Keep an eye on Gates. If he's active, have no worries in playing him.

      Deep Sleeper of the day- Especially with the Steelers likely being without Polamalu and James Harrison, I'm expecting a big play and a score from Stephen Hill.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      {Also, for those planning on starting Jimmy Clausen this week, he's inactive.}