Fantasy Football seems to rule the world. Okay, maybe not the world. But I don’t know too many football fans who aren’t in some sort of Fantasy Football league. The NFL has to be chuckling because while it’s not the biggest reason that the NFL is the premier sports league in the United States, it’s definitely partially responsible. Gamblers are thinking, “Hey, what about us?”
Players seem to act differently when it comes to Fantasy Football. Maurice Jones-Drew challenges all the “fantasy experts” when he disagrees where he’s ranked, but he does it with a wink and a nod. He gets it. Other players seem to not enjoy being ranked against their peers because of the idea that stats are all that’s important.
Last year, Fantasy Football team owners who took a chance at drafting Arian Foster when Ben Tate went down from injury probably had great seasons because of how low his draft ranking was and how well he performed. You could say that what made Arian Foster so visible early last year was that Fantasy Football players were crowing about how well he was playing for their teams. Earlier this season, Foster seemed irritated at Fantasy Football owners who were wondering about his health as he healed from a hamstring injury. Those same Fantasy Football players who blew him up last season were now putting more visibility on his injury.
1. But Arian Foster is back and he’s back with a vengeance. Since I have him on two out of my three teams, I hope he hates all of us Fantasy Football owners so much that he runs on everyone like he did on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Houston Texans’ 17-10 victory. Foster went 30 for 155 with the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. They did lose Andre Johnson for the game, so all was not roses. They host the Oakland Raiders with a chance to go 4-1 next weekend.
2. I didn’t lead with my 49ers because I didn’t want to be biased, but I can do a little bit of gloating right? The 49ers rolled into Philadelphia ready to shock the football world. But after the first half was over, they were down 20-3 and I was left wondering how ugly this game might get. But low and behold (I love the phrase “low and behold”), Alex Smith saved some of the best football of his career for the second half of this game. He threw two touchdown passes and then Frank Gore brought the 49ers all the way back with a touchdown run with just three minutes left in the game that put the 49ers up by one. Michael Vick (who had an amazing game by his own right) slowly but surely lead the Eagles down the field but Jeremy Maclin was stripped from behind by Justin Smith with just over two minutes left in the game and Frank Gore ran out the clock for the shocking win.
(One of my favorite parts of this game was at the end of the first half. Alex Smith had just fumbled in the series prior which lead to an Eagles field goal. The 49ers had only 38 seconds in the half, but came out throwing the ball. The announcing crew had no idea why the 49ers weren’t just taking a knee and ending the half. It’s my theory that Harbaugh wanted Smith and the offense to finish the half on a positive note rather than on the fumble. It nearly took out the bitter tastes in their mouths and gave them a positive outlook to start the second half.)
3. My best friend Eddy Zucko is a Dallas Cowboys fan. In the 90s, we seemed to be at war every year. From 1992-1995, you could say that the 49ers and Cowboys were the top two teams in football. The rivalry hasn’t really been much of late as both teams have struggled since those same mid-90s. Two weeks ago, we were able to kickstart it a bit when the Cowboys came back to beat the 49ers in a competitive game. It was Eddy’s birthday today and I hoped the Cowboys could give him a nice present. They staked out a nice lead in the first half and were up 27-3 at one point until Tony Romo started throwing the football to the other team. And then Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson started to play basketball with the Dallas DBs and they came all the way back to win 34-30. Dallas needs to play better on their fans’ birthdays.
4. If the 49ers are a pesky team, the New York Giants are a sneaky team. After looking terrible against the not terrible Washington Redskins in week one, they’ve won three in a row, capping off the latest win in a come from behind victory against the game Arizona Cardinals. Eli Manning is quietly having a great start to the season. There was a little bit of a controversy near the end when the Giants were making their comeback. Manning threw a pass to Victor Cruz who fell down, got back up, and then decided to go back down again and left the ball on the ground before anyone touched him. The referees declared the play wasn’t reviewable since he gave himself up, but I’m sure Cardinals fans thought it was a fumble.
(My friend Paul DuVal gave this quote on my Facebook page today after I congratulated him on his team’s win: “Yeah…even though I’m getting all kinds of smack about how we won via the Victor Cruz “pseudo-fumble”. Whatever.” Whatever indeed is what you can say when you’re 3-1.)
5. Is Wes Welker the best receiver in football? Most people would say no. They’d say Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, or Rowdy Roddy White before Wes’ name would come up. Wes isn’t tall and as super-athletic like those guys, but he’s most definitely Tom Brady’s go-to guy. In the first four games this season, Welker has 40 catches for 616 yards. If he kept those gaudy averages, he’d obliterate the single year receiving records with 160 catches and 2464 yards. He’ll eventually have a bad game here or there, but would it surprise you to see him go for 120 and 1700 with 12 TDs? The Pats beat the Raiders 31-19 in a game where Jason Campbell was intercepted by Vince Wilfork. Yes, Vince Wilfork.
6. You’d think that after coming back to beat the Patriots at home, the Buffalo Bills would be able to carry that momentum into Cincinnati to beat the 1-2 Bengals who only scored 8 points the previous week. There’s a reason they call them trap games. Andy Dalton lead the Bengals back from a 14-point deficit and tied the game on a three-yard run. Mike Nugent kicked the game winner with no time remaining.
7. In his week 4 picks post, Bill Simmons wrote the following:
Let’s look at this rationally: The Vikings played San Diego, Tampa and Detroit close and blew all three games. If I wrote a power rankings column this week, I would have ranked Detroit fourth, San Diego eighth, Tampa 11th … and Kansas City 32nd. Minnesota can’t win this game by three?
No, Bill, they couldn’t. Poor Donovan McNabb. I blame TO.
9. And the rest … the Carolina Panthers are the most exciting bad team in the NFL. Cam Newton nearly threw for 400 yards again in their loss to the Chicago Bears. But Matt Forte ran for over 200 yards to take the spotlight from Cam. If the 49ers are pesky and the Giants are sneaky, then the Tennessee Titans might be frisky. They’re now 3-1 after being the Cleveland Browns fairly easily in Cleveland. The Washington Redskins turned away the St. Louis Rams 17-10. The Rams were supposed to be one of the darlings of the NFL this year, but they’re now 0-4, with only five remaining home games. The Atlanta Falcons had to fight back in Seattle to avoid being upset by the Seahawks. Matt Ryan’s arm may fall off by the end of the season as he had to throw another 42 times on Sunday. He now has 164 attempts in just four games. I know the Indy Colts are the leaders in the clubhouse in the “Suck For Luck” campaign, but don’t forget about the Miami Dolphins. After losing 26-16 to the San Diego Chargers, they are now 0-4. Mark Sanchez had New York Jets fans saying, “If we only had that kid out of San Francisco, Alex Smith on our team,” after going 11-35 passing against a heavy blitzing Baltimore Ravens defense. He also fumbled three times, setting up 17 points for Baltimore in the loss.
10. I know this wasn’t set up to be the stinker that it might be, but Indianapolis travels to Tampa on Monday night. I fully expect Tampa to take care of the game and how can you not bet against Curtis Painter? But the Colts played with some pride against Pittsburgh and they very well might keep the game closer than it should be on Monday as well. But I expect Josh Freeman to open up some eyes on the National scene and lead his team to victory.