I Am Going to Miss the NFL Replacement Refs

The NFL and its "regular" referees  have agreed to the terms of a new contract, and the regular refs will begin calling games immediately (ie. tonight's game).  After watching portions of many of the last three week's NFL games, I can see why many fans are cheering the return of the old referees.  However, I am going to miss the replacement refs.  Here are five reasons why.

Clip art courtesy of Microsoft Office
1) More NFL Football: That's right folks. With the replacement refs calling the shots, NFL games that usually run about three hours were lasting a whole lot longer.  Who wouldn't want to watch more of the game they love?  It's like getting an extra 20% of an item.  Er, well, perhaps not in this case...

2) Could Empathize with Refs: Usually, I do not feel like I have much in common with the athletes (who can do things on the field I could never dream of), the owners (whose combined wealth probably is greater than all of the citizens in my locality), and the referees (who have done this gig for what seems like eons and spent hours/years in study).  Let's face it, we might berate the regular refs when they miss calls, but how many of us could actually get those calls right?  I felt quite differently about the replacement refs.  They cam across as average Joes and Janes.  I could see myself having a lot in common with them. 

3) Bonus Fights: For all of its violent hits, an NFL game is usually pretty tame.  Players rarely get into donnybrooks, and when they do, well, the refs. break it up quickly.  The replacement refs seemed, at times, unable to keep the players under control.  I thought it was great.  I got to see some bonus fighting to go along with the football games. 

Clip art courtesy of Microsoft Office
4) Unpredictability: The NFL's use of replacement refs added a little spice to the games.  I was always on the edge of my seat wondering what the refs would call next (or if they would make the right call, etc.).

5) Drama: The replacement refs, and the controversies they helped created, added some drama to the NFL.  It almost turned the league into a reality show--complete with angry coaches and tweeting players.  Fun, fun...

In all seriousness, I think the replacement refs did a great job given the circumstances.  My hat goes off to them for calling the games during the NFL referees lockout.  However, I am glad the normal refs are back.


My Fantasy Football Thoughts, Week 2

My fantasy football teams have done well so far this season.  All three teams won their games in the first week of play.  Two of my teams have sealed victories in Week 2.  I may hit the trifecta again this week if Matt Ryan and/or Julio Jones has a big game (eg. Ryan would probably need 250-300 yards and 2 touchdowns). Here are some of my fantasy football thoughts after watching the Week 2 games.

I have spent the last two Sundays watching the NFL football games at a local bar/restaurant (I had coupons for steep discounts on the food).  During that time, I had a chance to watch portions of most of the games.  Here are a few of my thoughts:

Four Teams Prone to Giving Up Big Games to Fantasy Defenses: I wold suggest targeting any defense that plays against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Tennessee Titans, and the Arizona Cardinals (and yes, I know the Cardinals are 2-0).  I think that a solid defense will be able to rack up some fantasy points against these teams in most weeks.  Of course, the season is still young.  One or more of these teams may pick-up the offensive pace and come off this list.

Seattle Seahawks Defense: I own the Seattle Seahawks' defense in all three of my leagues and plan to use that D next week.  I know that the idea of playing the Seattle D. against Green Bay might seem crazy (and might be crazy--we'll have to see), but I was mightily impressed by the team's performance against the Dallas Cowboys.  Additionally, Rogers has been susceptible to sacks.

Looking Back at My Preseason Players to Watch List: Right before the season began, I listed several players who I thought would have big years (or at least be worth a value pick-up).  I am quite happy (so far) with my choices at QB and at WR.  I have been somewhat disappointed with Donald Brown; however, I will continue to hang on to him.  Alfred Morris has done more or less what I expected him to do (though, sadly, I dropped him in one league to pick-up Kevin Ogletree--argh, what a mistake)...I am most disappointed with Greg Olsen.  I have dropped him in one league (did it last night) and will drop him in my other league as well.  I picked up Martellus Bennett in his place.  I will look tonight to see if Bennett is available in my other league (and try to pull-off the same transaction). 

Fantasy Surprise of the Week: Like everyone else, I was shocked when the Arizona Cardinals beat the New England Patriots.  However, I was more surprised by the New York Giants' offensive explosion.  I was not feeling good about my chances to win any of my leagues early on during the day, especially given how poorly Eli Mannig (owned on 1 team), Victor Cruz (owned on 2 teams), and company were playing.  Needless to say, I was shocked to see Eli and the Giants turn things around.  Manning's and Cruz's performances helped catapult me to victory in two fantasy football leagues and have given me a fighting chance in the other one.

Update (9/18/2012): I managed to eke out a win in the league game that was in question.  I am now 2-0 in all three leagues.  Of course, with my luck, I will probably be 2-12 by the end of the season. :/


Some of My Favorite Fantasy Football Players

The NFL football season official starts tonight with an 8:30 p.m. game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys.  I can't wait for the season to begin.  I am playing in three fantasy football leagues this year (I thought I was going to play in a fourth one but that fell through late).  In honor of the start of fantasy football season, I decided to provide a list of the fantasy football players I am most excited about.  I have included some top ranked players but have shied away from the biggest names, eg. Drew Brees, Ray Rice, Calvin Johnson, etc.  We all know that most of those names will have stellar seasons unless they get hurt.


Matt Ryan, Atl.: Last year, I picked Matt Stafford up in all of my leagues (he sat on the bench behind Drew Brees in two of those leagues).  I was impressed with his strong training camp and preseason performances.  I hit the lottery.  I am hoping to work the same magic with Matt Ryan.  Can I hit the lottery two years in a row?  I think (fervently hope) that Matt Ryan will have a top 3/4 type of season.  Two of my fantasy teams will depend on it.

Eli Manning, NYG: I think (hope) that he will finish among the top 5 quarterbacks.  He is on one of my fantasy teams.

Running Backs:

Donald Brown, Ind.: I think Donald Brown will be the surprise running back of the year.  I was especially impressed with Brown's performance late last year, and look for him to have a great year catching passes and running the ball.  I am staking my fantasy football season on this prediction, as I have him on all three fantasy rosters.

Alfred Morris, Wash.: Yes, I know that Morris plays for Mike Shanahan--a coach who changes running backs about once a week (kidding--but it feels like that sometimes).  And yes, I realize that Morris is part of a crowded backfield and might not start in Week 1.  With all that said, I have a feeling that Morris could be a great fantasy pick-up this season.  Unfortunately, my gut intuitions are often wrong.  Nevertheless, I have Morris on one fantasy team and will try to pick him up in the other ones if/when he becomes the starter.

Wide Receivers:

Antonio Brown, Pitt.: I watched several of the games he played in last year.  I was extremely impressed with his ability to make difficult catches and to elude defensive players.  I think that Brown will finish the season as a top 3 wide receiver.  I hope he does, as I have him on all three of my fantasy teams.

Victor Cruz, NYG: I picked up Cruz on a couple of my fantasy football teams last year, and he outperformed.  I think he will do just as well if not better this time around.  He is on two of my three fantasy football teams this time around.

Julio Jones, Atl: Assuming he can stay healthy, I think Julio Jones will finish in the top 5 among receivers in terms of yards.  At least I hope so...I have him on one of my three fantasy football teams.  I tried very hard to get him for a second team, but that didn't work.

 Tight Ends:

Greg Olsen, Car.: Olsen's coach, Ron Rivera, thinks that he will have a tremendous year, so that's all I need to know.  I'm kidding...but I do think that Olsen will finish the season as one of the top 4 tight ends in the NFL.  I am so confident in this fact, that I have him on two of my fantasy teams.

Well, those are the players (apart from the established superstars) who I am most excited about.  I have demonstrated my fantasy love for these athletes by drafting them for at least one (and in many cases, all) of my fantasy teams. 

At the end of the season, I will probably look back at this list and say, "Wow, how could I have put this or that player on the list."  We will just have to wait and see....


Footbal Season is Fast Approaching

The NFL football season is fast approaching.  I can't believe that the first game of the season, between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, takes place in less than a week (on Wednesday, Sept. 5).  With that in mind, here are some random, football related questions.

Clip art courtesy of Microsoft Office
1. I wonder How Many Retired Players Would Return If...? If retired football players (the ones who retired due to age and not due to injuries) were asked, "Would you return to the game if you woke up tomorrow and you were 25 again?  How about if you were 25 again, yet you still possessed any football related injuries (including brain injuries)?  I assume that most players would answer yes to the first question.  It would be interesting to see how many of them would respond aye to the second question.

2. Will Maurice Jones-Drew End His Holdout Soon? That is a question on many fantasy football players' minds (and probably on the minds of most Jaguars fans).  I do not own Jones-Drew in any of my fantasy leagues; however, I do have his back-up, Rashad Jennings, on two of my fantasy rosters.  The longer Jones-Drew holds out, the happier I am.

3. How Will the Replacement Refs Perform? I've seen numerous articles, videos etc. detailing the refs' bloopers.  However, I've watched some of the preseason games on T.V. (at a local restaurant/bar), and I think they are doing okay.  Regardless, the replacement referees' real tests will come next week, when the football season begins in earnest.

4. Will the Steelers Beat the Broncos in Week 1? Let's hope so. :)

That's all for now....