Friday, December 20, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 16)

Friday Morning - 

QB - Cam Newton, Kirk Cousins
RB - Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Riley Cooper
TE - Julius Thomas
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - NaVorro Bowman, Nick Roach

I picked up Kirk Cousins to start in place of Joe Flacco, partly because Flacco has a minor injury, but mostly because Cousins had a great game last week and is going up against the worst passing defense this week. It might be a risk, but at this point it's one I'm willing to take.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 15)

Tuesday Morning - 


A great ending to a lackluster fantasy week. Joe Flacco's incredible fourth quarter saved my week from being completely abysmal, but I was kind of killed by the fact that my kicker (Detroit's, of course) didn't get a single point in that crazy blizzard, and all of my wide receivers (two of which were also in that game) had pretty sad games. The silver lining is that no one on my bench had a great game either; my best possible score this week would have been just seven points above what I got.

I have two players in Thursday night's game, both of whom I'll probably start. (It figures that Julius Thomas finally has a game before my backup Fleener's... now that he's healthy again.) I'll take a look at the rest of my roster later this week.

Thursday Afternoon - 

QB - Cam Newton, Joe Flacco
RB - Matt Forte, Knowshon Moreno
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Riley Cooper
TE - Julius Thomas
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - NaVorro Bowman, Nick Roach

Friday Morning - 

Wow, Thomas and Moreno both had pretty disappointing nights. Seems to be my running theme lately...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 14)

Monday Morning - 

I'm back in third, and the two people ahead of me aren't even done yet...

On the plus side, I don't have anyone in the Thursday game next week!

Friday Morning - 

QB - Cam Newton, Joe Flacco
RB - Matt Forte, Knowshon Moreno
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Riley Cooper
TE - Julius Thomas*
K - David Akers
D/ST - Ravens
D - NaVorro Bowman, Nick Roach

*Thomas once again has a late kickoff while Fleener has an early one, so I may need to make that call before I want to. But it sounds promising that he'll be back this week.

(Can you tell I'm losing my enthusiasm for this? I don't think I'll be doing fantasy again next year...)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 13)

Monday Morning - 

This was a much better week, and it's not even over yet! I'm back in 1st place, I still have two more players to go tonight, and everyone within 100 points is done for the week, so I get to pad that lead a bit heading into Week 13. Still, I'm not totally without disappointment, since my highest scoring quarterback and highest scoring running back were both sitting on my bench.

Tuesday Morning - 

Well, I didn't get much padding last night... only 4.8 points from my wide receiver and a respectable if not impressive 7 points from my defensive guy. But at a total of 170.22 I had the most points in the league last week... which is actually pretty sad. Guess it wasn't a great week for anyone.

This is a weird week; I have players in all three of Thursday's games, including at least one player in every position except for tight end. So I have to make the majority my decisions early this week, and then wait three days before finding out if I made the right ones.

Wednesday Evening - 

QB - Cam Newton, Eli Manning
RB - Eddie Lacy, Reggie Bush
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Riley Cooper
TE - Julius Thomas
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - NaVorro Bowman, Nick Roach

Blargh... I hate Thursday games.

Monday, November 25, 2013

I Just Don't Get It

For those of us living in the U.S., Thanksgiving is this week. A time to get together with family... which may or may not be a good thing. Last week, I was part of a Twitter conversation that left me completely flabbergasted:

I swear. Thanksgiving is the worst holiday. We both have family in town. Which means we have to fight every fricking year about where we're going and when and it's AWFUL.

My parents and my MIL live two blocks from each other, so we get that any time we visit for the weekend. For holidays we just alternate and too bad for whoever doesn't like it.

Well, both sides of the family would stop talking to us completely if we did that.

Umm... what?

I didn't continue the conversation, because I honestly didn't know how to respond to that, at least not without completely ripping on this person's family. But my knee-jerk response is simply, "Their loss."

I get that it's disappointing not to get to see people on holidays because they're spending the time with the "other family," but really?!

Where did this idea come from that family is such a sacred bond that you can be so disrespectful and it doesn't matter because the other person will always forgive you? This whole "nothing is more important than family" thing is actually kind of crap. There are lots of things that are more important than simply BEING a family. For one, how about ACTING like a family? Like you actually care about each other... that includes dialing down the guilt and manipulation.

Personally, I like the way we do it. Thanksgiving with one side, Christmas with the other. And every year we switch. On Pat's side, all family get-togethers almost always involve the same people, but with my side, it gets even more complicated because we might be with my mom's side or my dad's side. Which means that, the people we don't see one year, we won't necessarily see them the next year. And when you factor in the fact that others might also be dividing their holiday time... there's really never a guarantee.

(The "no guarantee" thing is true to an extent with Pat's family too, but it's pretty uncommon to go two years without seeing someone... whereas that's the norm for a lot of my side.)

So, trust me, I can see the benefits of trying to fit everyone in... but personally I think it's too much of a headache. Especially if those who are insisting on it won't compromise. So, family is important... but the other side of the family doesn't deserve the same quality time?

If seeing your family is really that important, make time to see them throughout the year. And if you do see them throughout the year, then why make such a fuss over one day? I know there's something to be said for tradition, but when people come together and create a new family, you can't expect everything to always stay the same.

If our parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins can't respect the decisions we make for our new family, then that's their problem. And if they'd take it so personally to the point where they'd actually stop talking to us because of it... then why would I want make more time and effort to see them? Just because they're family?

Family is NOT a get-out-of-shitty-behavior free card.

And I know I shouldn't be judging this other person's situation, because I don't know all the people and all the factors involved, and it has nothing to do with me. But I feel like I see so much of this kind of thing. And I just don't get it.

Maybe it's because I've never been involved in family drama. Maybe someday I'll end up in a situation where an outsider would say, "It's not worth it, why do you put up with that?" and I'll respond, "Well, they're family."

But I hope not. I hope I go through my whole life never "getting it." The price of understanding is too high.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 12)

Thursday Afternoon - 

Last week was a little more reasonable, despite the fact that Eli Manning had his best game in weeks the minute I bench him (of course). A couple other disappointments, but at least I was in the top half of scores in my league, and I'm sitting solidly in 3rd place.

Starters for the coming week:

QB - Cam Newton, Eli Manning
RB - Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Rueben Randle
TE - Coby Fleener
K - David Akers
D/ST - Ravens
D - NaVorro Bowman, Nick Roach

I'm following the collective NFL suggestions, which for the most part match up with Yahoo!'s (is that the correct way to punctuate that?) projected points.

The only time I went out on my own was for Coby Fleener. Once again, he kicks off before Julius Thomas this week, and Thomas didn't practice yesterday and was limited today. I'd probably be hesitant to start him even if he does play, plus Fleener has a great matchup this week. I'll keep an eye on Thomas's status, but probably won't be changing anything.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 11)

Monday Night - 

I had a pretty bad week. I won't officially know how bad until tomorrow, but I'm already bumped down to 3rd place and I don't have anyone playing tonight... though 4th place is pretty far back so I don't think I have to worry about anyone else passing me up this week.

Both my starting quarterbacks were terrible. My receivers were actually pretty good, as was my tight end (I did end up going with Julius Thomas, trusting the "probable" status as of the early kickoff). But neither of my running backs met their projections, my kicker had a really slow game, and my defense - team and individual players - did fairly well but just not enough to make up for the low numbers in other areas. My final score was 141.06, my lowest all year. With a few starter switches, I could have had 158, which still would have been my lowest all year. And if I hadn't taken my other kicker off my roster, I could have had 165... which STILL would have been my lowest score all year.

So, yeah, this clearly wasn't going to be a good week for me.

And on top of that, the Bears lost an extremely winnable game because Cutler got injured AT THE END OF THE FIRST HALF and the coaches didn't put in his backup until the final drive of the game.

Nope, not a good week...

Thursday Morning - 

Remember how last week I was nervous about the three-hour difference between my backup and starting tight ends? And how I was like, well, at least it's only three hours, it could be worse? Yeah... this week it's worse -- Thursday night vs Sunday night. But Julius Thomas doesn't look nearly as iffy this week as he did last week, so hopefully it won't be an issue.

I'm pretty frustrated with my quarterbacks right now. The NFL fantasy guys are still putting Eli above Joe Flacco, but at this point I think I have more faith in Flacco. I don't know what happened to Cam last week, but I'm going to go ahead and start Cam Newton and Joe Flacco.

I'm solid at the running back position, like I mentioned last week. My guys are projected at #5, 6, 7, & 9 on the NFL rankings. With that in mind, there's always a chance that one of my benched players is going to have a breakout game, but I'm going with Reggie Bush and Knowshon Moreno this week.

In the wide receiver position, I picked up Riley Cooper in free agency this week. He's been hot the last couple weeks, and while it might not continue, he seems worth a shot considering neither Steve Smith nor Denarius Moore have had double-digit games in weeks. Calvin Johnson and Pierre Garcon are my other two starters, as usual.

Tight end, Julius Thomas, unless he doesn't play... in which case hopefully I know about it early enough to pick up someone to replace him.

Kicker, David Akers.

For my defensive players, NaVorro Bowman and Nick Roach.

As for my team defense/special teams, neither San Francisco nor Baltimore looks all that promising... I may change my mind before Sunday, but right now I'm leaning 49ers if only to avoid the conflict of interests that comes with the Ravens playing the Bears this week. (On the other hand, getting fantasy points out of the Ravens could be a silver lining if we end up losing the real game.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 10)

Tuesday Morning - 

Bears win! Plus, after a rather mediocre Sunday, both my running backs had great games Monday night, and I'm still at #1 in the league (with Pat creeping up close behind me).

Unfortunately, Kyle Rudolph got hurt this week and is going to be out for several weeks, and Julius Thomas is still questionable coming back from an ankle injury. So, I need a new backup tight end.

Wednesday Morning - 

Roster changes for this week: I dropped Kyle Rudolph and picked up Coby Fleener. This one I actually used my waiver option for, figuring I definitely didn't want to be without a decent backup for Julius Thomas. I also swapped my kickers so I have David Akers again after his bye week. Forbath has had some good weeks, but Akers just seems to be a little more consistent.

Thursday Morning - 

The NFL analysts (on average, of course) and the Yahoo! projected numbers for this week are in agreement as to who I should start and who I should bench, so I'm going with their suggestions; I have no real reason not to. Some of the calls are close, and I might end up getting more points from the guys on the bench, but I don't have anything to base that on one way or the other. Also, it's weird sitting guys in one position who are better than my starters in another, which makes me wish this league had a flex position.

My main issue is that I have four running backs ranked in the top 10 this week (and most weeks) by the NFL guys. Looking at the points so far this season, my "worst" running back is 13th overall, and that's because he missed a couple games and had a slower start, being a rookie. My wide receivers, on the other hand... after Calvin Johnson, my next best guy is ranked #12 this week, and is #15 by total points for the season. ALL of my running backs are (comparatively) better than my 2nd best receiver... let alone my 3rd and 4th. I guess maybe that's an imbalance I might want to correct...

But anyway, here are my starters this week:

QB - Cam Newton, Eli Manning
RB - Reggie Bush, Eddie Lacy
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Steve Smith
TE - Julius Thomas*
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - NaVorro Bowman, Nick Roach

*Julius Thomas is currently listed as questionable. If it doesn't look like he's going to play, I have Coby Fleener to put in. But, Fleener plays at noon on Sunday and Thomas not until later... if he's going to be a true game-time decision, I'm going to have to go with Fleener just to be safe... which is probably going to suck for me if Thomas ends up playing. But, a few hours difference in kickoff is a lot more promising than, say, Fleener playing Thursday night and Thomas playing Monday night.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Lackluster Rant

I know I've been doing pretty crappy lately on posting anything that's not about fantasy football (and even those posts are becoming more and more lackluster as the weeks go on, aren't they?), and there's a reason for that...

Writer's block!

I always used to think of writer's block as just not knowing what to write about, or maybe not knowing how to start. That was usually my main problem. Lately though... I have specific things I want to write about, and I just... can't.

Which makes it a terrible subject to try to WRITE a rant about, I know. Times like these it would be helpful if I were a gif person, so I could just write a hundred words and fill the rest of my post with crazy moving images. But, since those things give me a headache, you just get a half-hearted rant because the thing I want to rant about makes it impossible for me to do the rant justice...

Or something like that.

(Prompt courtesy of Ginger's Bring Back the Words.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I gave blood last week

Switching gears a bit here. For whatever reason, I haven't been looking forward to writing any of my Bears blog posts with the exception of the first one. So, instead I'm just going to write whatever comes to mind. Ok, back to the title of the post.

Given that my mom used to be a nurse and my dad was always in and out of the hospital, I've had a bit more exposure to that sort of thing than a lot of people. For example, I've known my blood type for as long as I can remember. I thought it was weird when Charleen didn't know hers. (she does now by the way). I'm type O+. Basically what that means is that I'm the second best blood donor by type there is. About 85% (source) of the people in the US are RH positive, and my blood can be used to donate to all of them.

So basically I should probably  be donating at least a few times a year. The reason I haven't been? Well, I never donated through high school or before. There's no real reason why, I just don't think I remember too much exposure to blood drives or anything like that. In my freshman year of college however; there was a blood drive on campus. Knowing my blood type, I figured, "why not?" I've never been a big fan of needles. I'm don't have an irrational fear of them, they just kinda hurt and I'm not a large fan of pain. Anyway, I go through all of the preliminaries (height, weight, hemoglobin test, blood pressure). Everything checked out fine so on to the donation. They get the needle in my arm and while it wasn't the most pleasant feeling in the world, I figured I could deal with it for 5-10 minutes...and then they noticed that blood wasn't flowing. I had clotted the needle. The method for addressing this? Shake the needle a bit while it's still in my arm to try and knock the clot loose. It worked (and it hurt...a lot) and we went on with the donation...until I clotted the needle again. Wash, rinse, and repeat and by the 3rd time I had clotted the needle, I decided that I was done. The disappointing part is that since they didn't get a full pint, they had to throw it out. So all of that for nothing. That was 11 years ago, and hadn't tried donating since. Every time it came up, I just thought of that experience and couldn't convince myself to do it.

On Tuesday, John Deere had a blood drive at work. A coworker of mine was planning on going and had mentioned it earlier in the morning. I was still trying to play catch up since I was on vacation on Friday and Monday so I didn't even remotely think about going. Well, later that day after things had calmed down for me, he still hadn't gone and again asked if anyone wanted to come with. I spent about 5 minutes mentally talking myself into it and we headed off to the factory auditorium to donate.

ZERO PROBLEMS! Long story short, it hurt more in the 30 seconds while I was holding gauze on the wound after the fact than the entire donation did. Piece of cake. I got up, had my cookies and juice and went back to work. I got a little light headed later that evening, but other than that, I was fine. In 51 more days I can donate again, and I think it'll be something I do more regularly.

It's an unfortunate fact that donations don't go well every time and even more unfortunate that it went so badly on my first try, but I'm glad my second experience went so well. Anyway, my point in all of this is that I'm glad I gave it another try.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 9)

Tuesday Morning - 

Long, busy weekend, and not the greatest of fantasy weeks, but at the end of it I somehow managed to end up in first place!

This week I need a replacement for my kicker on bye and a second active defensive player, and I really don't know who to drop to make room for them. I might just drop my kicker to pick up a new one... and if he gets snatched up in the meantime, stick with the new one for the season. I'll have to see who's available though, if it would be worth the risk.

I don't really want to do that with my defensive guy who's out on bye because he's pretty consistent, and I don't necessarily want to drop Lance Briggs for the same reason... he's out for several weeks, but it'd be nice to see him back to form once he gets back, if I have room to keep him through this bit of bye week shuffling.

A few of my receivers have been rather sub-par lately... I might drop one of them (though I only have one to spare this week with Calvin Johnson being on bye.)

Frickin' bye weeks...

Wednesday Afternoon - 

Free agency is open for the week, and I picked up the players I needed to fill out my roster -- Kai Forbath as kicker (he's the guy I had as a backup early on before dropping him back in Week 3) and Nick Roach as defensive player (a former Bear who's now with Oakland... he's good, and has a decent matchup this week and a great one in Week 11 when my new defensive guy goes on his bye... assuming I don't just keep Roach as my second starter and relegate last week's acquisition to back up).

With these couple pick-ups, my starters for the week are now set. I have no backups. Anyone not starting is either on bye or out with injury. If anything bad happens to make one of my actives inactive between now and Sunday, I'll have to scramble, or just eat the point loss.

QB - Cam Newton, Joe Flacco
RB - Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy
WR - Pierre Garcon, Steve Smith, Denarius Moore
TE - Kyle Rudolph
K - Kai Forbath
D/ST - Ravens
D - Alec Ogletree, Nick Roach

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 8)

Monday Morning - 

Two of my three defensive players are now out. I'm not sure if Bobby Wagner's is an extended injury, but Lance Briggs will be out for weeks. I think it's time to sign some new players. Luckily, defensive players are plentiful. I also need to be thinking about another kicker; my guy's bye is coming up, not this week but next week.

Tuesday Morning - 

Surprisingly, I ended up with the highest score again this week. Surprising because my score wasn't ridiculously high -- I guess no one had a really good week -- but at least this time I did about as well as I could have done, unlike last week. I was right to put Moreno in over Bush, although Eddie Lacy outscored both of them (though only by a few points). Also, all of my quarterbacks fell short of their projections this week, and I would have gotten an extra point and a half if I'd played Flacco instead of Eli.

I still need to make some roster changes, but I'll wait till tomorrow for free agency rather than using up my good waiver position... there may come a time when I really need it, and I don't think that's this week.

Thursday Afternoon - 

I don't really have time to give a rundown of my decisions this week, other than to say it's the usual combination of analysts' predictions, byes/injuries, projected points according to Yahoo, and strengths/weaknesses of matchups.

QB - Cam Newton, Eli Manning
RB - Knowshon Moreno, Eddie Lacy (first time starting the rookie, let's see if it pays off)
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Marques Colston
TE - Julius Thomas
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - NaVorro Bowman, Alec Ogletree (another rookie, just picked him up, let's see how he does)

We're headed to Chicago this weekend (actual Chicago, not 20 miles west of Chicago) so I don't know how actively I'll be keeping up on my team. No, we didn't plan this mini-vacation to coincide with the Bears' bye week, but I'm definitely not complaining that it turned out that way.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 7)

Tuesday Afternoon - 

I'm back in 2nd place. At 180 points, I actually had the highest scoring game in my league this week... and yet I could have had over 50 more if I'd made some different decisions. Joe Flacco outscored Eli Manning. Calvin Johnson played but didn't do much (nor did my other receivers). For the first time this year, Kyle Rudolph had a better game than Julius Thomas. And while I was right to swap Knowshon Moreno for Reggie Bush, Bush ended up doing better than Forte did on Thursday.

That Thursday game is always frustrating. Luckily, I don't have to worry about Thursday this week...

Thursday Night - 

Looking over my roster, there are no big surprises or agonizing decisions coming up this week. My backup receivers are on bye, and one of my defensive players is out with an injury, so those positions are locked. Where I have decisions to make, the predictions I'm seeing are pretty consistent for most of my players. I'm a little torn on defense/special teams; seems most analysts are still saying 49ers are the better bet, but Pittsburgh (whom the Ravens are playing) has given up more points to defenses this season than Tennessee has. Also, I've got three pretty solid running backs and only two open spots, but that's not exactly a terrible problem to have.

Going with the following starters:

QB - Cam Newton, Eli Manning
RB - Matt Forte, Knowshon Moreno
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Steve Smith
TE - Julius Thomas
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - Lance Briggs, NaVorro Bowman

(Pierre Garcon is playing against the Bears this week, so here's hoping for "good, but not good enough.")

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 6)

Monday Morning - 

Well, with a couple exceptions, my offense was lousy this week. I was so busy scrambling to replace Calvin Johnson that I didn't think about the fact that Reggie Bush probably wouldn't have a great game in a one-dimensional offense and I might want to put him on the bench. The other really big disappointment is that Marques Colston only got 1.5 points; if the Saints were going to beat the Bears, I would have at least liked my fantasy receiver to rack up some points in the process.

On the plus side, the 49ers did great as my defense, and Briggs also had a great game (while the supposedly higher ranked linebacker on my bench did terrible).

All in all, it was a better week than it felt like it was while I was checking in on my scores. Really the only thing I should have done differently was put Knowshon Moreno in for Reggie Bush. If Johnson is out another week, I'll be keeping that in mind.

Tuesday Morning - 

I'm solidly in 3rd place this week, more than 20 points behind 2nd place and more than 30 points ahead of 4th place. Pat, it should be noted, had a blowout game this week and is now sitting in 1st for the first time this season.

I have three players playing Thursday night in the Bears/Giants game -- Matt Forte, Lance Briggs, and Eli Manning. I'll be starting all of them. The rest of my roster can wait for now. (Technically I have a RB on the Giants as well, but he's out this week with a neck injury. I haven't played him since Week 1 anyway.)

Friday Morning - 

I went with Eli over Joe Flacco for a couple reasons... Eli has more interceptions, but he also has more yards and touchdowns, and consistently gets more points despite his mistakes... but after last night I don't know that that's going to be the case this week.

I definitely don't have the points I was hoping for after three players, but we'll see how Sunday goes.

Cam Newton will be my other starting quarterback, Julius Thomas my tight end, David Akers my kicker, the 49ers my defense/special teams, and NaVorro Bowman my other defensive player. My other running back and my three wide receivers will depend on if Calvin Johnson (currently questionable) plays or not.

If he starts, then my wide receivers will be Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, and Steve Smith, with Reggie Bush as my second running back. But if Johnson doesn't play, I'll swap in Marques Colston for him, and Knowshon Moreno for Bush. As I discovered last week, Bush probably won't have a great game if he and Johnson aren't working together in a multi-dimensional offense.

To be honest, I'm debating subbing in Moreno anyway; he and Bush are projected to be relatively close, and this way I'm covered if Johnson starts but goes down or just doesn't play extensively...

Gah! So many variables! So much uncertainty! Even the experts are proven wrong all the time, and if I follow their advice and it doesn't pay off, then I kick myself for not following my gut... but what's my gut worth? What do I know?

Next to nothing!

I know I'm doing way better than I thought I would, but I just don't know if I'm cut out for fantasy football.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

2013 Chicago Bears: Week 5

Opponent: New Orleans Saints
Location: Home
Outcome: Loss
Record: 3-2 (1-1)

2-2 (1-0) Green Bay Packers
1-3 (0-2) Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week)
3-2 (2-1) Detroit Lions

I may have mentioned this before, but now that the bye weeks have started, I'm not really going to talk about the division standings. The whole "half game" thing just gets too convoluted for my taste. Besides, by week 9, we'll have a better overall idea of how teams are actually doing.

This week the Bears again lost by 8 points, but this one wasn't as painful to watch as last week. The team looked much better than they did against the Lions despite some early bumps.

This would be where the early bumps were. On the offense's first play Matt Forte dropped the ball...literally. Cutler pitched it to him and it just slipped through his fingers. Starting out 2nd and 20 on your own 10 yard line is no way to start the game. 3 and out. The next possession started with a fumble causing sack where the offense failed to adjust properly for a blitz. Cutler is included and possibly most at fault for this. Long story short, the Bears started out way too slow against a very good Saints team and were behind the rest of the game. The offense really started to click after about the first 22 minutes of play, but you can't come to play 2/3 of a game and expect to win against a good team. One particularly bright spot though, was Alshon Jeffery. He set a new Bears' receiving record with 218 yards on 10 receptions. Let other teams be warned, if you continue to double cover Brandon Marshall, we have a #2 receiver who is more than capable of stepping up.

The defense looked much better this week. Their tackling was much improved, they held the Saints to a season low 347 yards (yes, that's their low), and did not give up nearly as many big plays as they have been the last couple of games. The one big slip that I noticed was Lance Briggs falling for a hard count on 4th and 1 where the Saints probably weren't actually going for it. He's a veteran player and knows better than that. The other thing that was less than ideal is that the Bears did not generate any takeaways, but Drew Brees is one of the more accurate QBs in the league so it's not so worrisome.

Special Teams
The Saints did a good job of not letting Hester do much in the return game. He had very few opportunities and he played smart by not trying to force anything. Adam Podlesh was much better today and we never gave up field position due to special teams play.

Overall the team looked better than they did in week 4, but the offense needs to do more to get rolling sooner. Punting from your own 20 yard line to start the game just sets a bad tone and forces you to play from behind all day. One other thing I have noticed is that Cutler seems to play better when he's in a hurry. I almost wonder if trying to play a no-huddle type of offense would benefit him. Next week (tomorrow) the Giants come to town. They are 0-5 and even though they have some great players and coaches, the Bears should be able to get back on the right track and make them 0-6. BEAR DOWN!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 5)

Tuesday Morning - 

I'm in 2nd... by less than three points.

The first bye week of the season went alright. I could be nine points farther ahead had I made a couple different choices. Probably the biggest disappointment is that Calvin Johnson didn't have a better game, but he usually doesn't do great against the Bears. Their kicker, on the other hand, was the highest scoring kicker this week... small silver lining to the Bears' loss, but I guess it's something.

Looking ahead to next week, my bye week players are my backup tight end and one of my receivers, so those starter positions are locked. I do wonder if I want to pick up another wide receiver for more options while my guys are rotating through bye weeks, but I don't know if there's anyone I could get right now that would be better than the options I have (assuming no injuries... which is a dangerous assumption to make, but I can always pick up another player if that happens).

Friday Morning - 

(Huh, and now I'm back in third... again, by less than three points. I wonder if they were late factoring in Monday night players, or there was some stat correction later in the week. Oh, well...)

(ETA: Or because Week 5's already started and the guy who passed me up probably had someone playing last night. *facepalm*)

Most of my picks this week are fairly straightforward. Like I said, my wide receivers and tight end are set. I'm sticking with my usual starters for most everyone else.

My defensive players are where the trouble is. It's not really trouble, per se; even when I make the "wrong" choices, my players are all within a few points of each other, so it's not a big deal. It's just frustrating. On the one site that I've found that ranks defensive players, either the analysts are extremely biased against Lance Briggs for some reason, or they're using a points system that's vastly different than the one my league uses... because he's consistently ranked far, far below my other two players - NaVorro Bowman and Bobby Wagner - yet he's outperformed both of them three out of the four weeks so far, and in two of those three weeks he had the least promising match up (based on how many points the opposing offense usually gives up to linebackers, which all three of my players are).

So, I'm done listening to the "experts" for this category, and unless someone has an injury, I'll be sticking with Bowman and Briggs from now on.

For the record, then, my starters this week are:

QB - Cam Newton, Eli Manning
RB - Matt Forte, Reggie Bush
WR - Calvin Johnson, Marques Colston, Steve Smith, Denarius Moore
TE - Julius Thomas
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - Lance Briggs, NaVorro Bowman

And in "conflicts of interest," Colston is playing against the Bears. We'll see how that game goes.

ETA: Sunday Morning (an hour before kickoff) - 

Well, crap. Calvin Johnson is inactive, and my backup WR is on bye. This is just what I was afraid of. Time to scramble...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2013 Chicago Bears: Week 4

Opponent: Detroit Lions
Location: Away
Outcome: Loss
Record: 3-1 (1-1)

1-2 (0-0) Green Bay Packers (Bye Week)
1-3 (0-2) Minnesota Vikings
3-1 (2-0) Detroit Lions

I'm not going to sugar coat it. It was an ugly game for the Bears. Detroit showed up to play in the 1st half, the Bears didn't.

The offense had 3 interceptions, 1 fumble, a couple of costly offensive penalties, 2 sacks, some bad throws, some dropped catches, and no third down conversions until the 3rd quarter. To be honest, it felt a bit like last year. Often the other team's defense didn't have to beat us, we were beating ourselves.

When the opposing running back is averaging 10 yards/carry, you're not doing well. This is something that has been worrying me for the last couple of weeks. There has been sloppy tackling and too many big plays by the opponent. The cover 2 scheme is supposed to be a bend but don't break defense and the Bears D has been breaking a lot this season. They did generate some takeaways, but the Lions scored on every possession but the first in the first half.

Special Teams
We allowed a 57 yard punt return. Our gunner got there and slowed up the returner, but the 2nd and 3rd guys on the coverage team were out of position and the left side of the field was completely open. After that we kicked out of bounds and gave the Lions great field position all day. Last I checked WE had the scary kick returner, not everyone else.

We knew there'd be bumps in the road this year. I was just hoping that a game against the Lions wasn't going to be one of them.

I do think it's kind of funny though. The media now seems to be completely ready and willing to throw in the towel on the Bears this year after one loss. I saw a Bears team have several things not go their way, but this organization has preached resiliency. It's one game and next week is a completely new one. It was also nice to see the team turn things around in the second half. The defense was getting stops, and the offense started to get back in sync. Unfortunately they had dug themselves too big a hole. The Bears were composed and Cutler didn't give the media any drama bits that they seem to be starving for. In fact, he pointed the thumb at himself for all of the turnovers. It was a disappointing game overall, but I have no reason to think that they won't move on and come back fighting next week.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 4)

Tuesday Morning - 

I'm in 3rd!

I had a pretty good week. Both of my new acquisitions paid off. And while not all my highest scoring guys were active (WR Colston had a marginally better week than Smith, QB Flacco had a marginally better week than Eli), if I'd had a crystal ball and made all the perfect decisions, the difference would have been less than 5 points on offense.

Defense, though . . . ouch. My starters, the 49ers, got 1 lousy point. The Baltimore Ravens, sitting on my bench, got 21. That hurts. Even that wouldn't have been enough to push me into 2nd place (it's still hard to believe I'm in 3rd!), but later in the season I might be wishing I had those extra 20 points.

Week 4 marks the first of the bye weeks, so I'll have fewer options when it comes to putting my roster together . . . but I'll worry about that later in the week. I DO have some guys playing Thursday night this week, so those decisions will need to be made early.

Wednesday Afternoon - 

I'm picking the Ravens for my defense/special teams this week. They seem to be favored on most ranking lists I see, and after the abysmal game the 49ers had last week (at least as it affects my fantasy team) I'm more than willing to take their advice.

The downside of the Thursday night game is that it's so far removed from the rest of them. If I put someone in, and they have a great game, that's great. If I leave someone out, and they have a lousy game, also great. But if the 49ers have a good game tomorrow night, I have to wait until Sunday to see if the Ravens have a better one. I think I would have liked fantasy a lot more back in the days when the only Thursday games were on Thanksgiving.

As for my defensive players, I'm leaving NaVorro Bowman (who plays on the 49ers) in. I'll probably go with him and Bobby Wagner again this week, with Lance Briggs on the bench (apparently linebackers haven't done well against Detroit so far this year), but Bowman's the one who's locked in.

I'll figure out the rest of my lineup later, although I have several players on bye this week, so my options are somewhat limited.

Friday Morning - 

Experts, you fail me! The 49ers' D/ST got 13 points sitting on my bench; I guess I'll have to wait and see how the Ravens do. Thankfully, NaVorro Bowman had a pretty good game; I would have been pretty annoyed if the team as a whole did great but the one player I had in didn't.

As for the rest of my lineup . . .

Quarterbacks: Cam Newton and the Panthers have a bye week, so (working with the roster I have, anyway) I have no choice but to start Eli Manning and Joe Flacco. C'mon, boys, get out there and have a great game!

Running Backs: I'm starting Matt Forte and Reggie Bush, who are actually playing against each other this week. Hopefully they both have great games (without Bush being good enough to help his team win). Knowshon Moreno and David Wilson will stay on my bench, and Eddie Lacy and the Packers have a bye week.

Wide Receivers: Steve Smith (Panthers again) is on bye, so again, my starters are set by default: Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, and Marques Colston. (And, like Bush, I need Johnson to have a good game . . . but not TOO good . . .)

Tight End: Julius Thomas is in, Kyle Rudolph is out. No bye week here, but also not a terribly difficult decision.

Kicker: David Akers (once again, I have no backup). Now, when the Bears' defense forces the Lions to settle for a field goal, I'll have two reasons to cheer.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chicago Bears: Week 3

Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers
Location: Away
Outcome: Win
Record: 3-0 (1-0)

1-2 (0-0) Green Bay Packers
0-3 (0-2) Minnesota Vikings
2-1 (1-0) Detroit Lions

The AFC North was generous to the Bears this week. The Bengals and the Browns beat the Packers and Vikings respectively. In addition, the Steelers lost to the Bears in Pittsburgh. All in all, a good weekend for the Bears

I was very impressed with how the offensive line held up in their first away game. They looked very good in the first quarter moving down the field and getting a field goal on the opening drive. Marshall was quiet this week, but Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett got in on some passing action. After the first half though, it seems that Mark Trestman pulled back his offense and was concentrating on ball security over scoring more points. It seems that the arrow is still pointing up and from the way the players are talking, Trestman still has a lot of plays that we haven't seen yet.

There were 5 turnovers, 2 pick sixes, and some hits behind the line of scrimmage that made me wonder if the Steelers carry a change of pants with them. The defense was able to get pressure on the quarterback, but often had to do it with blitzes. The front 4 still isn't getting consistent pressure and to make matters worse, Henry Melton is out for the season with a torn ACL. I feel especially bad for him since he was playing under the franchise tag and very possibly may be done as a Bear. With his recovery projected for sometime in the spring, his stock is not going to be very high next year when he hits free agency. Anyway, sorry for the derail. I'm still a bit worried about the Bears defense. The 5 takeaways were wonderful, but they're giving up way too many big plays every game. If they can't find a way to get good pressure with their front 4, it's going to put a lot of pressure on our secondary and our offense.

Special Teams
Our special teams group was very quiet this week. The Steelers were probably scared off a bit by Hester's performance last week so they only allowed him to return 2 kickoffs. I expect teams to forget about him again in a week or 2 so we should see some good returns in the near future. On a special teams side note. I watched a few games this weekend and I noticed a lot of kickoffs being fielded just short of the endzone. It could have been bad kicks, the weather, or avoiding particular returners, but I wonder if it might be a trend towards trying to pin a team with a kickoff. Last year with the new kickoff rule, it was easy for teams to blast the ball out the back of the end zone for a touch back, but I wonder if teams are now playing with the short distance in the same way as a directional punt. Trying not to automatically give the other team 20 yards. It'll be something to pay attention to in the coming weeks.

Play of the game
This game had so many amazing plays. To name a few: Either one of the pick 6s, Matt Forte's long run, the defense slamming through the Pittsburgh line to tackle for a loss, and Earl Bennett's amazing TD catch. My favorite one though has to be when Jay Cutler ran for 13 yards on 3rd and 10 and instead of sliding like everyone expected him to, he plowed over the Steelers' safety and knocked him on his butt. I love having a QB who's not afraid to take a hit.

Up next are the Lions in Detroit. This is going to be a tough game. The Lions were much better than their record indicated last year, and they are going to be hungry to knock the Bears out of first place in the division at home. I think this is going to be a shoot out between quarterbacks. Trestman, time to open up that playbook a bit more. BEAR DOWN!!!

Something NOT About Football!

I've been meaning to do some non-football-related posts, and since I can't sleep right now, this seems like as good a time as any.

We're already at the end of September (wait, wasn't it JUST Labor Day?) and it's finally officially fall. Pat mourns the end of summer; I bask in the gloriousness that is fall.

The main reason I love fall is just because I hate summer. I want to like it, but my not being one who handles heat well sort of gets in the way of that. Even the 80s are too hot for my taste, so when we're dealing with multiple days of 90+, or even triple digits, I can't stand it. And then there are those annoying people who always say, "Oh, just wait until winter and you'll be wishing for days like this!" but no, trust me, I won't. The cold doesn't bother me. Cold is easy; just add another layer. But when you're hot, there's just nothing you can do except hide in the air conditioning until it's over.

So yes, bring on fall.

(Prompt courtesy of Ginger's Bring Back the Words)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 3)

Tuesday Morning - 

I'm in 4th!

This week went much better than last, both in terms of points and my starters outplaying my bench. My benched WR Colston did outplay my starter Smith, 6.3pts to 5.2. And I should have left Lance Briggs in; he earned 9pts compared to Bobby Wagner's 4.5. Other than that, I made all the right calls on my roster (including the Ravens defense over the 49ers... that was probably my riskiest move so I'm glad it payed off).

Wednesday Morning - 

I broke one of my rules and signed two new players this morning. My backup tight end (Brandon Pettigrew) has been underperforming, and Peyton Manning seems to be making great use of Julius Thomas, so I picked him up. Of course, now that I got rid of him, Pettigrew will probably start having amazing games and Thomas will suddenly tank... which is why I didn't want to get into this roster switching stuff in the first place, but... we'll see I guess.

I also dropped my backup kicker (Kai Forbath, who's questionable anyway) to pick up Knowshon Moreno as another running back, since two of my four (Reggie Bush and Eddie Lacy) have injuries, and the third (David Wilson) hasn't been performing like he was supposed to. I didn't want to cut anyone, I just wanted more options in these next couple weeks. Barring injury, I should have until Week 9 to get another backup kicker... and decide who I have to cut to make room for him.

Friday Morning - 

Time to set up my roster, at least tentatively.

Quarterbacks: Cam Newton and Eli Manning; I'm not seeing anything that suggests that Joe Flacco is starter-worthy this week.

Running Backs: I know I'm starting Matt Forte, but my second choice is still iffy. Reggie Bush hurt his knee and hasn't been practicing this week, so I don't exactly have the highest confidence he'll have a great game, even if he does play. Eddie Lacy had (has?) a concussion, and even if he's cleared to play on Sunday, some analysts are saying it'd be smarter for the Packers to sit him out, giving him this week and their bye next week to fully recover. David Wilson hasn't had a great season so far, so I'm hesitant to put him in. This is why I picked up Knowshon Moreno, who's had a great season so far, as another option. For me, it comes down to Bush or Moreno, and that honestly might be a game day decision. If Bush doesn't play, that decision's made for me. If not... then I have to make the call. Who do I think is going to have the better game? The guy who's consistently ranked higher, or the guy who's not coming off an injury?

Wide Receivers: Again, I have one for sure starter -- Calvin Johnson -- but my other guys are just all so close. I think I'll stick with Pierre Garcon and Steve Smith again this week, if for no other reason than that Marques Colston has a foot injury. He's listed as probable, and maybe it won't make a difference to his game... but I have to make a decision somehow, and the experts' rankings hardly give me a definitive answer.

Tight End: I'm taking out Kyle Rudolph in favor of my latest acquisition, Julius Thomas. We'll see if it pays off.

Defense/Special Teams: Starting the 49ers over the Ravens.

Defensive Players: I have the same issue here as I do with my wide receivers... I don't have clear starters and a clear backup... they all have the potential to outdo each other. Going based off the "opponent has allowed nth most/fewest points to defensive players this season," I'm going to start NaVorro Bowman and Bobby Wagner, and leave Lance Briggs on the bench another week (sorry, Briggs).

And since I no longer have a backup, my kicker is obviously David Akers.

I'm questionable on a few of these picks, but the running back is really the only position I'm still anticipating changing at this point.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chicago Bears: Week 2

Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 2-0 (1-0)

1-1 (0-0) Green Bay Packers
0-2 (0-2) Minnesota Vikings
1-1 (1-0) Detroit Lions

On a sloppy Sunday afternoon in September, the Bears pulled off a second win and in doing so, claimed an early hold on sole possession of 1st place in the division. It was an ugly win so I'm not pulling out the champagne glasses just yet. But factoring in the rainy weather and the overall lack of traction on the field, I'm not all that worried either. Going with that theme, every phase seemed to have that BUT going in their favor.

The offense turned the ball over 4 times. Blame seemed to be shared by all on this one. Cutler, Forte, Marshall, the line, and even the coaches all had their hands in some of the blame for the turnovers. When you turn the ball over four times, it's hard to win games.
When they needed to, the offense drove 76 yards on 10 plays to end up with a beautiful throw to Martellus Bennet in the end zone to pull ahead by 1 point with 10 seconds left in the game. Last year's offense couldn't do that.

For the second week in a row, the pass rush was nearly nonexistent. The Bears allowed Christian Ponder too much time to run around and make throws. They were pretty terrible on 3rd downs, allowing the Vikings to control the game way too much.
They held Adrian Peterson to 100 yards, no touchdowns, and caused him to fumble once. They got a pick six that erased one of our own fumbles, and in the second half, they managed to hold the Vikings to only 9 points and kept us in the game.

Special Teams
They allowed the Vikings to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
They allowed Devin Hester to be Devin Hester. He set a new career record of 249 kickoff return yards starting with a 75 yard return in response to the Vikings. This set us up to tie the game at 7 in the first 3 minutes of play. It also gave us great field position all day long.

Play of the game
With 3:15 left in the game and down by 6, the Bears got the ball back at their own 34 yard line. On the first play of the drive, Cutler threw a line drive ball towards Alshon Jeffery...only for it to be deflected by the referee who couldn't get out of the way fast enough.
The offense brushed it off, continued from 2nd and 10, and marched down the field for the win.

My overall impression after two games is simply that this is a team. No one group is pulling more weight than the others. They all shared responsibility both for allowing the game to be as close as it was and for working together to pull off a win. It's an odd thing after having a dominant defense with an incompetent offense for so many years. Up next is the first away game of the year against a struggling 0-2 Steelers team. If anything this makes them more dangerous as they will be desperate for a win.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 2)

Tuesday Morning - 

So, after one week of play . . . I am dead last in my league.

In this league, there are no head-to-head games. Points are just a cumulative total. So, while a really bad week may be hard to recover from over time, there's no such thing as a close loss . . . or, on the other side, a blowout win. In a head-to-head league, it doesn't matter if you beat your opponent by one point or one hundred. Here, those extra hundred points will continue helping you (or hurting you).

Like I mentioned last time, Joe Flacco (my backup quarterback) way outperformed expectations. To help make up for that, so did Eli Manning. Cam Newton didn't perform as well as expected, but if I'd even considered starting Flacco (it honestly never entered my mind), there's a 50% chance I would have subbed him for the "wrong" guy. So, I'm okay with the way this one turned out.

The swap I made, and then unmade, on the other hand . . . I would have been much better off keeping that switch. Again, projected numbers between these two were very close from what I was seeing. However, Reggie Bush (my backup) ended up having an amazing game; David Wilson (my starter) had an abysmal one, and actually ended up losing me points. I don't mean the points I lost from not swapping him for someone else, I mean he had two fumbles -- and then got benched so he didn't have the opportunity to make up for those mistakes -- and ended the night with negative points. That's one I'll definitely be revisiting before next week.

The other thing that hurt me is that Calvin Johnson had a terrible week. My backup receiver didn't have a great game, so it doesn't hurt so much that I made a "bad decision." (And seriously, how can starting the number one receiver in the league be considered a bad decision?) It's just one more factor contributing to my ending up at the bottom of the scoreboard this week.

As it is, I'm only 5 points behind the next team, and I'm 27 points behind the #4 team. The top three all had amazing weeks, including Pat -- who jumped ahead after Thursday night thanks to Peyton Manning -- but the rest of us are all pretty close. And there's still the rest of the season to go.

Speaking of which . . .

Thursday Morning - 

Though I don't have anyone in the Thursday night game this week, it still seems like a good time to start getting my roster set up.

For my starting quarterbacks, I'm sticking with Cam Newton and Eli Manning again this week. Cam didn't have a great game last week but the experts still put him as the top of my three. And I'm hoping that Eli will have another amazing game going up against his brother this week . . . after all, it was spending all night trying to keep up with the Broncos that prompted Flacco to have the game he did last week.

For running backs, I'm going with Matt Forte and Reggie Bush. I don't know if Bush will have another game like he did last week, but I also don't know how much time Wilson will be spending on the bench after last week . . . and his coach seems hesitant to say much one way or another. Between the two, Bush seems like the safer bet. And while Eddie Lacy had a pretty good game last week, I'm still hesitant to put the rookie in as one of my two starter spots. My own prejudice, maybe, but I'll be the only one paying for my lack of faith if I'm wrong.

Of my four wide receivers, only one needs to go on the bench. Last week, my lowest scoring receiver was Calvin Johnson. I'm sincerely hoping that was a fluke. My other three all have similar projected points, and a mix of predictions from various analysts. I'm going to leave in Johnson and Pierre Garcon from last week, but I'm subbing Steve Smith in for Marques Colston based on the perceived strengths of the defenses they're matched up against.

Both of my tight ends -- Kyle Rudolph and Brandon Pettigrew -- seem to be middle-of-the-pack guys based on the analyst predictions, but Rudolph has the edge both in projections and based on last week's performance, so he's in.

Kickers: David Akers is in, Kai Forbath is out. Again, partially projections and partially last week's numbers. Again, not putting a ton of thought into this one.

I'm wavering on my choice of defense. The 49ers are my drafted starters, one of the top defenses in the league, and they seem like the obvious choice when compared to the rebuilding Ravens. BUT . . .

The 49ers are going up against a strong division rival in the Seahawks; these two teams are pretty much starting their battle for the division this week. The Ravens are going up against a . . . not-so-strong division rival. It seems quite possible (to my novice mind) that they'll end up having the better game. I'm going to let this decision simmer a little.

And my defensive players . . . again, letting it simmer. It doesn't help that most leagues don't play individual players on defense and so there's very little out there in the way of expert advice.

Friday Morning - 

After sleeping on it, I'm taking the chance on the Ravens this week for my defense and special teams slot. Also, while I hate to bench a Bear, I'm going with NaVarro Bowman and Bobby Wagner as my defensive players, leaving Lance Briggs out this week. These two have better numbers (based on the VERY little I could find). Plus, like I said earlier, the 49ers/Seahawks game is going to be intense, so I'm hoping these opposing players will be charged up enough to make some great plays (while not doing anything stupid).

Of course, I still have 48 hours to second guess myself on all of this . . .

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chicago Bears: Week 1

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 1-0 (0-0)

0-1 (0-0) Green Bay Packers
0-1 (0-1) Minnesota Vikings
1-0 (1-0) Detroit Lions

Ah, the return of football Sundays. Glorious, glorious football Sundays. So the Bears are one of 16 teams to start the season with a win. It's a good feeling. I imagine it's an even better feeling to Marc Trestman who is one of only four Bears coaches to win their first game as a new head coach. Anyway on to the game review. 

We had four out of five starters on the offensive line playing their first game in a Bears uniform. Two of those four were playing their first NFL game ever. With those two thoughts in mind, let me hit you with three other game stats: zero sacks, zero pre-snap penalties, and zero sacks! Ok, so that was only two stats, but come on! ZERO SACKS against a very good Bengals front line. Oh yeah, and our new tight end caught a touchdown pass, Brandon Marshall was Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte ran for a touchdown up the middle. On top of that, Cutler was able to spread the ball around to five different receivers. Marshall of course had the most, but he is our number one receiver. The only real bad play I remember was the interception, and when I saw a clip of it later, it was obvious that a defender got a hand on Cutler as he was throwing which probably threw off his aim. I'm trying to keep my optimism in check since it was only one game, but if it's a sign of things to come, we're in for a great season on offense.

Charles Tillman was sick as a dog and dehydrated on Sunday and still managed to come up with two interceptions. Unfortunately, that was the primary bright spot for the day on defense. Overall, tackles were sloppy, the defensive line had no teeth whatsoever, and the Bengals had two scoring drives of over 90 yards in the first half alone. Julius Peppers was never even a blip on the radar. But I will say this: they came through at the end when they really needed to. After the Bengals got a touchdown early in the 3rd quarter, they never scored again. Hopefully there's just a bit of rust to knock off, because I'm not sure how to respond to a Chicago Bears defense that is only ok.

Special Teams
He didn't get a return for a touchdown, but Hester had some good returns. The Bears started with great field position all day long. On top of that, Robbie Gould raised the bar on his previous franchise record for a long field goal by hitting a 58 yarder (with room to spare) to end the first half. Special teams has not lost a step under the new coach, Joe DeCamillis.

Overall it was a great team win. The offense and the defense both came through in the end when we needed them, but play of the game in my book goes to rookie right tackle, Jordan Mills. The Bears were trying to run out the clock with under 2 minutes remaining and had just come up short on 3rd down. Defensive lineman, Rey Maualuga, apparently didn't like being beaten by a rookie and ended up throwing Mills to the ground well after the whistle. I love Mills's post-game quote. 

“When he came up, I locked on,” Mills said. “I was not letting him go no matter what. Till that whistle blew, I was not letting him go. He kind of got a little frustrated, pushed me. I wanted to retaliate, but that would have been selfish on my part, so I kept my composure and we got the first down.”

That's a team player! He kept his cool. He didn't retaliate, and the resulting personal foul against Maualuga ended the game. It gave the Bears an automatic first down and they were able to take a knee to run out the clock for the win. BEAR DOWN!!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 1)

As I mentioned on Tuesday, this is my first year participating in fantasy football. I thought it would be fun to write about.

(Just a note . . . since Pat does his Bears recaps after the weekend, I thought it would be best to post these before the weekend, just to space them out. This also makes sense in that this is about my decision-making in setting up my team as much as it is the results. I may come back and edit the post later with my numbers, or I may include that in next week's post, or I may just ignore them altogether . . . really, I'm not expecting to do well.)

Tuesday Night - 

The draft! I really didn't know what I was doing. I made sure I had at least one backup for every position, and mostly tried to pick players I was familiar with, even if they weren't the top player on the board at the time. Beyond that, I didn't have much of a strategy.

Once it was over, I was looking at the stats on my roster, and it seemed like a couple of my "backups" were actually looking better than my "starters." I made one swap right off the bat, but after checking to make sure none of my potential starters were playing in Thursday night's opening game (I do have Joe Flacco as a backup quarterback and the Ravens as my backup defense/special teams, but I chose them as true backups, for bye weeks or sudden injuries), I decided I had plenty of time to tweak my starting roster.

Wednesday Morning - 

Looking at some NFL analysts' predictions, the swap I made last night was . . . well, not to say it was wrong, but definitely not as obvious a decision as the Yahoo! numbers indicated. So I switched back. And then, after more hemming and hawing and reading and trying to figure out which experts I should listen to, I decided that, at least for Week 1, I'm going to leave my starters as I drafted them. Smart or not, these are the choices I made, so let's see how they do for me.

Thinking along the same lines, I'm quickly realizing that it would be easy for me to get sucked into all the nitty gritty of running a fantasy team, listening to the chatter, trying to make trades and search the undrafted players each week, looking for hidden gems based on who has the most promising matchups . . . but, no.

This is my team. This is who I have to work with. Maybe later in the season, once some of the bye weeks are over, I'll look at who's available and maybe drop some of my backups to sign a couple new players, MAYBE! But for now . . . if I don't just limit myself to what I already have, I'll drive myself crazy.

(On another note, how did I end up with FOUR players from the Lions on my team?! I HATE the Lions! Now, I don't have an issue with any of the guys I drafted specifically, and two of them are new to the team this year anyway. But still, it just feels wrong.)

Thursday Night - 

Football is finally back! "Game's starting now..." *da-dum, da-dum*

(Best radio commercial ever.)

Friday Morning - 

And Joe Flacco completely blew away his projected points, and the projected points of both my starting quarterbacks . . . and he's not one of the players I was even considering when I was looking at the numbers earlier this week. Clearly my fantasy football career is off to a fantastic start.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wait For It...

I know, I've been quiet for a while. I'm going to get better at that, I promise.

This last month was an interesting one. Last time I checked in, I was having a bit of a crisis, and Pat and I were getting ready to head out of town. I actually ended up staying in Lombard for three weeks. I may or may not go into more detail about that later (let's be honest, I probably won't . . . although a couple other things of note happened while I was there, so maybe I actually will . . .) but for now I'll just leave it at, my dad's recovering well. (And the last three weeks did nothing to help my weight-loss, so I guess my crisis is on hold for now.)

Anyway, today I signed up for my first ever fantasy football league. It's with some friends from back home (along with a few people I don't know). We had our draft tonight and it was a rather nerve-wracking experience. Not only had I never done this before, but I only decided two days ago to join (Pat bullied me into it), and I hadn't done any research, so I was making all my decisions on the fly through a mixture of the player rankings and my gut . . . which admittedly is pretty useless when it comes to players outside of the Bears and the NFC North, but hey, I don't want to play with a bunch of guys I don't know anything about. I may not have always picked the best player, but I'd rather have fun playing guys I've at least heard of before.

My final roster is as follows (bold names are my starters . . . for now):

Cam Newton (CAR)
Eli Manning (NYG)
Joe Flacco (BAL)

Running Backs
Matt Forte (CHI)
David Wilson (NYG)
Reggie Bush (DET)
Eddie Lacy (GB)

Wide Receivers
Calvin Johnson (DET)
Pierre Garcon (WAS)
Marques Colston (NO)
Steve Smith (CAR)

Tight Ends
Kyle Rudolph (MIN)
Brandon Pettigrew (DET)

David Akers (DET)
Kai Forbath (WAS)

Defense/Special Teams
San Francisco

Defensive Players
Lance Briggs (CHI)
NaVorro Bowman (SF)
Bobby Wagner (SEA)

So, that's my team. I guess we'll see how they do for me.

In other news, the library will be open on Sundays again . . . starting the same week that football does. Well, I won't be spending all afternoon there the way I was during the spring, I guess. Still, it'll be nice to get back to the routine of going over there every week, instead of the sporadic visits I've been making all summer.

(Oh, and since you're probably still wondering on the title, the name of my fantasy team is "Wait For It...")

Friday, August 30, 2013

And We're Back!

I've been meaning to write this for a while now, but at least I got it in before the regular season started. :) Photo and tickets to the game last night, courtesy of my friend Nathan.

Now that the Bears have their 3rd 4th preseason game under their belt, I feel that I can actually make some educated observations about this relatively new team this year.

The defense seems like it's picking up right where it left off last year. Yes, we've lost Brian Urlacher, but we've got enough veteran leadership with Tillman, Briggs, Peppers, and others that the team will move on. Things will get very interesting around week 2 or 3 when middle linebacker D.J. Williams is recovered from his injury. Right now Jon Bostic is doing a great job, but the Bears didn't sign Williams to a (potentially) $1.75 million contract to be a back up, at least not at the beginning of the year. It should be interesting to see how that turns out in a few weeks.
Outlook for the year: Solid

Special Teams
We lost Dave Toub to the KC Chiefs, but we also lost Devin Hester as a wide receiver. Yes, that second part is a positive. Now that Lovie Smith is gone, the Devin Hester experiment is finally and officially over. He sounds excited to bring his focus back to the return game. I'm excited to watch it! He's had slumps before, and I'm eager to see if he can come back again. I think he can. In other news, dedicated specialists Patrick Mannelly, Adam Podlesh, and Robbie Gould will continue their excellent work.
Outlook for the year: Solid

This is going to be the hardest to nail down. I'm excited to see Jay Cutler play without (legitimate) excuses to hide behind. I think he has much higher potential than he has been able to achieve for the last 4 years with the Bears, and I'm eager to see him reach that potential this year. He's had unstable coaching, play calling, targets, and protection for most of his time here. This year, those handicaps should be gone and I'm looking forward to a Bears team that can let its offense do some of the talking. We look to have a strong offensive line this year (never thought I'd say that), we have plenty of great targets for our QB to throw to, and we have an offensive coordinator who will not only get the plays to the QB well ahead of the play clock, but will probably call some creative plays while doing it. All the pieces are there, I want to see them fall into place.
Outlook for the year: Excited, but cautiously optimistic

The Bears have looked good in the preseason both as a team and as individual players. But as Brad Biggs pointed out, their pre-season opponents had a combined record of 23-41 last season so it's not like they're the cream of the crop. In addition, the 2008 Detroit Lions proved beyond all doubt that a preseason record means absolutely nothing by going 4-0 in those games and then 0-16 in the regular season. But all in all, I like what I'm seeing so far. No matter what happens, it's going to be an exciting year for the Bears.

Bear Down!!!

Friday, August 9, 2013


The last couple days have been intense.

Naturally, I'm about to make it all about me.

On Wednesday, I learned that my brother's best friend's younger brother had been hit by a car. I don't know the details of what happened, but it was bad. He was on life support. He wasn't gone yet, but it was an inevitability. I just couldn't believe it. It seemed impossible that he could be there and then suddenly gone. I never knew him well, but he'd been on the periphery of my life for a long time. I was friends with his sister when we were in high school -- never super close and we haven't kept in touch, but I'd been to their house a few times -- and our brothers have been best friends for years. I couldn't imagine what his family was going through.

On Thursday morning, I got an email from Pat telling me to check Facebook and to call my mom. I haven't been on Facebook much recently; if I was, I would have seen the post as soon as I woke up.

Chris's family was donating his kidney to my dad.

My dad has had kidney disease for years. He had his first transplant in 2000, on New Year's Day in fact. But apparently, transplanted organs don't last forever, and he's needed a new one for some time. Last year, I was going through testing to see if I could be a donor, and it was looking good for a while, but my last couple tests had been less than conclusive, and the doctor wanted me to lose another 10 pounds anyway before he'd consider the surgery, so we were going to wait until I lost the weight and then run the tests again.

I never lost the weight.

In fact, I've been moving slowly in the opposite direction, to the point where I'm almost back where I was three years ago, before I made the decision to get healthy. Which would be frustrating regardless, but with this transplant situation hanging over my head, it makes me feel even worse about it.

And I've been trying... not hard enough, obviously, but TRYING... to get back to making healthy choices. And -- yesterday's stress eating aside -- I feel like I've been doing better recently. Earlier this year, I was at a pretty low point, where I really didn't give a crap about anything. And now, I feel like, mentally... I'm not back to where I was at the peak of my efforts, but I'm closer. I'm moving in the right direction again...

And then this happens, and it messes with my head. Because it was supposed to be me.

After my initial weight loss, I've slipped and started and slipped again so many times in the past couple years, and if this is the time that I finally don't slip... what does that say about me? That subconsciously I never wanted to go through with donating?

Well, eff that.

(Perhaps this would be a good time to start seeing a therapist.)

So anyway... that's where I am... all of my own crap mixed in with the already conflicted emotions of the situation. But back to the current events...

My dad had the surgery last night. He's doing well. Pat and I are driving out for the weekend once he gets off work. There's a service for Chris on Sunday.

The past 24 hours I've been alternating between a numb haze and ALL THE EMOTION, and I have a feeling this weekend is going to be more of the same.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


If you somehow missed the drama that is our computer situation, here's a couple links to catch you up:

My Kingdom for a Trouble-Free Computer (April 3)
Blargh... (May 6)

Even if you don't feel like clicking the links, the dates alone will tell you that this has been going on for A WHILE (and my laptop had already been having issues for several weeks when I first wrote about it). So basically, I had an intermittent laptop through March and April... and then no laptop at all through May and June, as we finally had Staples send it away to a repair depot just after my May 6th post. These guys, we were assured, would fix the issue we were having, along with anything else they found wrong with it, and we'd essentially be getting it back in new condition, probably in a couple of weeks.

Obviously, that didn't happen.

But although it was frustrating and inconvenient not to have my own computer, between my smart phone for little things and Pat's desktop for big things, I got by. There were file incompatibility issues (the desktop used Office 2003, the laptop had used Office 2009) and just the general awkwardness of using a computer that wasn't my own, but it wasn't too bad... aside, of course, from the fact that we hadn't planned on this arrangement lasting more than a few weeks. We'd paid good money, we'd expected results, and as weeks turned into months, the frustration (if not the inconvenience) continued to grow.

AND THEN, we came back after the Fourth of July weekend to discover that the desktop monitor was dead for some reason. Thankfully it was only the monitor and not the computer itself, so we were able to hook up to our TV and use that for a monitor... only we don't have one of those nice new flat-screens, it's an old TV, and everything looks incredibly fuzzy and distorted, no matter what resolution we pick. I mean, it was nice to be able to get all our data off the computer, and to use it if there was something we absolutely couldn't use our phones for (I was doing a little bit of blurry blogging these last couple weeks), but for the most part we were computer-less.

MEANWHILE, either the computer depot that Staples uses is full of morons, or they had a string of incredibly bad luck. I'm not even going to recount all of the updates we got over the past couple months (and getting those updates was like pulling teeth). Suffice it to say that they tried one thing after another after another, went through faulty parts and needed to replace them multiple times... and in the end, they finally gave up and sent the laptop back to the store MORE BROKEN THAN IT WAS WHEN WE SENT IT TO THEM!!!

The good news in all of this is that Staples gave us a full refund, plus a compensatory coupon, and so last night we bought a brand new laptop -- my first one since 2001 (!!!) and a nice upgrade from the old one -- for about $60 more than what we would have paid for the repairs. Obviously it would have been better to get this resolved months ago, but I'm just glad it's finally over.