I have recently seen a few articles about NFL teams’ Strength of Schedule (SOS) for the 2013 season. Never mind that the SOS means nothing, as every season teams who performed poorly last year rebound and teams who played well fall off. And in the midst of one of these discussions I see the phrase that always tells me the writer/commentator is trying hard to sound like they know something:

“Team X has a first place schedule.”

This is normally used in an effort to make it sound like some team will have a much tougher time of it now that they have a first place schedule.

Here’s the thing: where a team finishes in the standing affects ONLY TWO GAMES on their schedule. Two games out of 16.

Each team plays their divisional rivals twice each (six games). And based on a pre-determined rotation, they also play all of the teams in one other division in their conference (four games) and all the teams in a division in the opposite conference (four games). That means that those fourteen games are all locked in and have NOTHING to do with the team’s finish the prior season. The remaining two games are played against teams in each of the other two divisions within their conference that finished in the same position in the standings.

So, when some writer or TV analyst spouts off anything about a first place schedule, just be smarter than them and know what that REALLY means. Also know that they are probably full of shit.


They forgot the “who gives a flying fuck” option.

It’s that time of year! The NFL regular season begins next week and millions of people have drafted, or will be drafting their fantasy teams. Fantasy football is a great game, a great way to expand the NFL experience beyond your favorite team.

Long ago in the stone ages, people had to keep track of scoring and statistics by hand and later with spreadsheets, so things were kept pretty simple. With the emergence of the internet and a variety of web sites that will manage your league for you, things have gotten much easier. But with the ever increasing options a lot of people have tried to get too cute and have created some pretty stupid leagues.

My personal philosophy is that scoring points is the single most important thing in an NFL game. After all, in every single game ever played in the history of the NFL, the team that scored more points won. Yards are nice, but every week you will see several teams who amassed more yards but still lost. Interceptions hurt, but if your team still outscores the other it doesn’t matter. I think fantasy football should run the same way, points scored are king.

Before I begin, I say whatever makes you happy is how you should run your league. If I’m not playing in it I don’t care how stupidly you want to do things. But since this is my web site I’ll tell you the things that I believe have made many fantasy football leagues suck.

In no particular order:

  1. Drafting weeks before the season – Why is your league in such a hurry? Drafting with cuts still to come and preseason games still to be played means that owners will, despite their best efforts, end up with cut or injured players. What is the point of this? It just introduces more luck to the equation. I am not speaking of dynasty style leagues, of course.
  2. Too many points – I guess a lot of people have ADD and if someone isn’t scoring every few minutes they feel cheated. If the scores in your league are like 170-158, your league sucks. The more scoring involved, the more luck enters into the equation. If you get more points from yardage and receptions than you do actual points, your league sucks.
  3. Starting two quarterbacks – Why? NFL teams don’t start two QBs, what could possibly be the reason for starting two in a fantasy football game?
  4. Drafting punters – I heard a friend say he was in a league that did this, and all I could think is WHY? Do they draft holders too?
  5. More points for longer TDs – In the NFL a one yard TD counts for 6 points, as does a 99 yard TD. I have a friend that has a league where TDs from inside the two are only worth 3 points. I did a study of all TDs scored the prior season and there were far more TDs scored from three yards and out then there were from the one or two yard line. So why discount TDs from those spots? In fact a TD from the 2 yard line is not such a sure thing. All 11 defenders are only covering 12 yards of field, so there are more players packed into a smaller area. More players can commit to the line of scrimmage and any pass play of more than 12 yards is out of the equation. Meanwhile that 54 yard TD is often the result of a player beating one guy and then being in open space. And most of the leagues who have dumb rules like this are also handing out points for every ten yards, so a guy scoring from the 50 gets more than six points, plus five more points for the yards ran during the TD.
  6. The magic yard¬†– That same friend’s league counts TDs from three yards at 5 points. So scoring from one yard further out a TD is worth two more points? In his league that is the only yard worth two points more than the yard before it. Why is a three yard TD so much tougher than a two yard TD that it’s worth two additional points?
  7. More points for longer field goals¬†– Same as TDs, a FG is three points from all distances in the NFL, your league should be the same. In fact, if you insist on having different point values for different lengths of kicks, longer kicks should be worth LESS. Why should your kicker be rewarded for his team’s inability to get closer to the goal line? His offense sucks, but your kicker gets more points because of it.
  8. Point per reception – Some genius decided that it wasn’t OK that running backs were worth more than receivers in fantasy football, so he created this ridiculous rule. One point scored per reception by a player. This means that these leagues think that six catches are as valuable as one TD, which is just silly. What if they are six one yard catches in a team’s own end of the field? This is the fantasy football equivalent of every kid getting a certificate at a grade school award ceremony. If one position is more valuable than another, so what? Draft accordingly.
  9. Decimal scoring – WHAT? The only sports with decimal scoring are things like gymnastics, ice skating, and most of the shit in the X Games. If you have decimal scoring, feel shame!
  10. Negative points – Most of the time that I see this it’s for interceptions. But how many picks do you see during a season that are not the QBs fault? The receiver lets it bounce off of his hand to a defender, or someone runs to the wrong place. You want to be in a league where you can lose a game because your QB throws a pick on a Hail Mary at the end of a game and you lose points?
  11. Less than 10 teams – If you have less than 10 teams everyone is just drafting an all star team. Make more friends so you can challenge yourself a bit.
  12. Your league is on Yahoo – There are so many better choices, why would your league be there? Once upon a time it was because it was free, but NFL.com is free and far better.

Since it’s that time of year, training camp and all, I thought I would share my all time favorite autograph story. A handful of NFL players get a lot of negative press for the stupid things they do off the field, but most of the rest of them are great guys who do a lot for the communities they play in, and for kids. This story is about one of my favorite NFL players EVER, and why he is.

In 2001 I took my nine year old son Tyler to Chargers Fan Fest out at UCSD. There was a practice, a bunch of inflatable toys for the kids to play on, face painting, and an autograph session. My son was having a good time with everything else, so he got to the autograph area late. He wanted to get Junior Seau’s autograph, the most popular Chargers player at that time, but the line was a mile long line. With only about five minutes left in the session, I suggested he head for one of the less crowded tables. We were standing near one of the defense tables, so he headed over there with the program book that I had gotten him earlier. There were a lot of bigger kids pushing their way in, and he was having trouble finding the player’s pictures in the book. He got a bit flustered, and was fighting back tears when Gerald Dixon (a linebacker with the Chargers from 1998-2001) noticed what was happening. He asked me Tyler’s name and said “hey Tyler, come on over here.” Dixon signed his book, and called over Raylee Johnson and Marcellus Wiley. All three of them talked to Tyler and signed his book as I got some photos (crappy photo, I know). Needless to say, it went from being a bad situation to a great one, Tyler was smiling and having a great time the rest of the day, and asked me if we could come back next year.

Gerald Dixon will always hold a special place as one of my favorite Chargers, but also one of my favorite dudes. Thanks Gerald!

I have to admit I have never watched it. But if it keeps that tool Rich Eisen off of NFL Total Access (which I do watch) it’s a great thing. Hopefully a lot of people find him more amusing than I do, and he has that podcast show for the next ten years.