Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fantasy Football Update - Receivers

Now let's move on to my situation at receiver in the Trash Talking is a Must fantasy league.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS -

DRAFTED:
Roy Williams (DET); Joey Galloway (TB); Donte Stallworth (PHI); David Givens (TEN); Heath Miller (PIT); Devery Henderson (NO); Chad Jackson (NE); Marcus Robinson (MIN)

WHAT I SAID IN AUGUST:
"I'm a bit weak at wideout when it comes to front line talent but I got a lot of depth and phenomenal value in the middle and late rounds. I picked Roy Williams as my first wideout with my third pick. He's got great size and speed and hopefully will flourish under Mike Martz in Detroit. I got Joey Galloway from Tampa (who may not get as many looks with Michael Clayton healthy) and Philly's recent pickup Donte Stallworth, who'll be one of McNabb's main targets once he grasps the west coast system. Givens was a value selection but I'm not a big fan of his. I like the Heath Miller pick - tight ends aren't required in this league but Pittsburgh will likely utilize Miller quite a bit this year as they don't have a lot of options in the passing game with the loss of Randle-El. Henderson from New Orleans gets promoted to the starting lineup with the trade of Stallworth so I love that pick in the 15th round. Chad Jackson from New England is a huge reach, since he's been injured all preseason but if he's healthy, he'll make an impact since Branch is a goner in Patriot land. My last pick of the draft was Marcus Robinson, the number 2 guy in Minnesota. Great value there."

CURRENTLY ON TEAM:
Roy Williams (DET); Joey Galloway (TB); Wes Welker (MIA); Devery Henderson (NO); Donte Stallworth (PHI); Heath Miller (PIT); Marcus Robinson (MIN)

What a sorry state of affairs here. I've had two mainstays in my lineup at this position in Williams and Galloway, who have started for me every week (not including their byes). Let's start with my hoss Roy Williams. I drafted him in the third round and he's easily been my most consistent receiver, compiling 183.5 points (16.68 average) which puts him as the 9th best fantasy receiver in the game. Detroit has been brutal this year but it just goes to show how talented this guy is that he still gets decent fantasy numbers without getting the touchdowns to show for it. He's a marginal #1 receiver in fantasy but would be a bonafide #1 if he had a better support staff.

My #2 has been Galloway and he's compiled 140.9 points (12.81 average) so far. What's impressive is that he's had TWO ZERO POINT WEEKS where he didn't even get a single catch but he's still rated as the 21st best receiver in fantasy based on his totals. He's been an average (at best) #2 guy and was a stretch as a fifth round pick.

My sixth round pick was Donte Stallworth and it's hard to rate this guy. He's been TREMENDOUS when in the lineup and seemed to gel with quarterback Donovan McNabb right from the outset. However, a nagging groin injury has sidelined Stallworth for four weeks, limiting his impact in fantasy. He's picked up 97.7 points in 7 games (13.96 average) and two of those games he was struggling with the groin and wasn't effective. When healthy, he's a fantastic #2 but that's always a challenge with Stallworth. Once again, he's favouring the groin and I may have to keep him out of the lineup this week against Harris.

My next receiver selected was David Givens and he was a complete bust this year. He wasn't getting looks early in Tennessee and then got injured. I dropped him in week four and never looked back. As I said in my analysis in August, I didn't like him then and I sure as hell don't like him now. Bad pick.

Another bad choice was Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller, who's still unfortunately on my team. He had one productive week this whole year and that was week one when he caught a long TD. However, he was on my bench that week so I couldn't utilize his one good performance. Due to the Stallworth injury and byes, I was forced to use Miller twice this year. He put up about 5 points in each game. I miscalculated on his impact in Pittsburgh this year and is one of my worst picks in this draft.

My last three receivers chosen were shots in the dark for the most part although I thought Devery Henderson was going to assume the #2 receiver position in New Orleans after the departure of Stallworth. I was wrong there too. That slot went to unheralded Marques Colston, who's had a HUGE year for the Saints when healthy. Henderson was relegated to the slot receiver position and had some decent weeks on my bench. However, with Colston hurt recently, Henderson has moved into the #2 position and has put up three huge weeks in the past month. My best move as a GM in this league was putting Henderson in my lineup for the first time last weekend in place of Stallworth. It worked out tremendously, as Henderson put up a spectacular 25.8 points while Stallworth sputtered with Jeff Garcia throwing, catching only 2 balls for 9 yards.

Chad Jackson was a reach when drafted and never got a chance to play in my lineup due to injury and lack of playing time. He's since been dropped. My last pick in the draft was Marcus Robinson. He's battled the injury bug as well but when healthy has contributed to the Vikings. However, I haven't had him in my lineup yet due to his inconsistency.

I haven't been forced to make too many pickups this year but one of my better ones was Wes Welker. I picked him up in week five and he was in my lineup for three weeks during byes and as Stallworth's injury replacement. While not spectacular, Welker picked up about 13 points per week and was an effective replacement. He's still on my team and I may have to give him a look this weekend.

I also had sieves like Hank Baskett (1 week) and Eric Johnson (2 awful weeks) in my lineup because of injuries and I lost every week those guys played. They're goners now.

Not a great year overall for my receivers but funny enough, they are doing really well for me right now. With Henderson putting up mad points and Williams' consistency, I'm starting to get good production from the flankers.

I'll be back tomorrow with the final discussion on my kicking game and my team defence.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fantasy Football Update - Running Back

Here is a look at my running back situation in the Trash Talking is a Must league.

RUNNING BACKS -

DRAFTED:

Ronnie Brown (MIA); Warrick Dunn (ATL); Mike Bell (DEN); Deuce McAllister (NO); Brandon Jacobs (NYG); Jerious Norwood (ATL)

WHAT I SAID IN AUGUST:
"I got Ronnie Brown with my first pick and I'm pretty happy with the choice. This is a running back heavy league so I picked another with my second choice in Warrick Dunn. I'm not so happy with that pick but at least I know what I'm getting with Dunn as opposed to the other guys that were available there like Chester Taylor and Rueben Droughens. I was later able to handcuff Dunn to his backup Jerious Norwood (which is good fantasy strategy) so I'm happy about that. I got good value with the rest of my RB's. Mike Bell is the opening day starter in Denver and Mike Shanahan just loves using unheralded backs in his system so I should be good to go there. I also picked up Deuce McAllister in the middle rounds - he's looked great in the preseason and will likely share the load with Reggie Bush to start the year. I also scooped Tiki Barber's backup in New York, Brandon Jacobs. This is a good pick just because of the fact that Jacobs gets most of the goalline carries in New York and will likely score at least 6 touchdowns this year. I'm really happy overall with my backs."

CURRENTLY ON TEAM:
Ronnie Brown (MIA); Warrick Dunn (ATL); Mike Bell (DEN); Deuce McAllister (NO); Brandon Jacobs (NYG); Jerious Norwood (ATL)

I've made no changes to my running backs all season and to be honest, I'm a bit disappointed with my results. Most of the disappointment lies with the performance of my first pick, Ronnie Brown. I had the 10th pick in the draft and was REALLY hoping that Steven Jackson would fall to me but he went a couple picks earlier. Brown was the best option but I really felt he'd be a force both running and receiving. That hasn't really been the case. He's the 11th best running back in our league right now, picking up 148.2 points (13.47 average) and that's not really great for a 10th overall pick. The offensive coordinator in Miami, Mike Mularkey, hasn't done me any favours with his shady playcalling either.

With Dunn, my second round pick, I knew that I wouldn't be getting many touchdowns and it looked like the pick was going to turn out great after a scolding hot start. However, the Falcons have been going through an identity crisis for most of the year and it has resulted in Dunn getting fewer carries than usual. Dunn is my third best back and ranked 18th in fantasy football at his position with 127.3 points (11.57 average), not good enough for where he was drafted.

My third back chosen and fifth round selection was Denver's Mike Bell, who impressed in camp and was Shanahan's choice to start the season. Bell had a solid first week but really stumbled in week two and that's all it took to get in the coach's doghouse. I was forced to put Bell on the bench and almost dropped him but he's had a few huge starts in the past five weeks - unfortunately, he was on my bench both of those weeks so I didn't benefit from the 20+ point performances. He's only been in my lineup for three weeks this year and was only productive in the first week so needless to say, Bell has disappointed.

However, I made up for the Bell miscue with my next back: the Saints Deuce McAllister. The other GM's must have been scared off by his injury from the year before and the drafting of 'the Franchise' in Reggie Bush. I was able to scoop Deuce in the 8th round and hoped he could build on a great preseason. Indeed, Deuce has received the majority of carries in the Saints backfield and is the main man in short yardage situations, which has resulted in an impressive 9 touchdowns through 11 games. With 145.8 points (13.25 average), he's ranked 12th in fantasy football at the position and is about to become my top running back with the injury to Ronnie Brown. This was a great pick for me.

Brandon Jacobs and Jarious Norwood were depth selections and neither has been able to crack my lineup even once this year. Jacobs has actually exceeded my expectations, garnering an impressive 8 touchdowns in 11 games (I guessed six in the preseason) as Tiki Barber's backup and the Giants go-to guy in short yardage situations. However, he only sees about 5-8 carries a game and can't be relied on as any more than a flex-option. I will give him a look this week, however, with Brown out of my lineup. He has compiled 94.8 points (8.62 average) and is probably one of the better backups in the league. Norwood was selected as insurance against Dunn going down but the little guy has proven to be resilient this year and Norwood, while spectacular in spots, has been a non-factor for most of the year.

I have 3 of the top 18 backs in fantasy, so it's not all bad. However, none of my guys are true #1's and it has hurt me this year, especially in the middle portion of the season during bye weeks.

Up next will be my wide receiver report.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fantasy Football Update - Quarterback

I thought it would be fun to look back at what I said about my fantasy team in the Trash Talking is a Must league back in August and compare that with the results thus far. I'm about to improve to 7-5 on the year and effectively will lock up a playoff spot on the strength of 4 wins in a row. I'm safely in fifth place right now out of the twelve teams in the league and am in the process of destroying the second placed team this week.

Let's start with the man behind centre.

QUARTERBACKS -

DRAFTED:

Tom Brady (NE); Chris Simms (TB)

WHAT I SAID IN AUGUST:
"It's not a quarterback league but I got a real good one in Brady with my fourth round pick. I just wanted a guy who isn't injury prone and Brady can turn water into wine with pretty much any scrub. Brady is an excellent fantasy player and will do well for me. Simms will suit up for my team for only one week - week six when New England has a bye. I picked Simms because Tampa is at home against a pretty crappy defensive opponent in Cincinnati in week six; the only other alternative was Mark Brunell from Washington as they play lowly Tennessee but I just hate Brunell and he's having a horrible preseason."

CURRENTLY ON TEAM:
Tom Brady (NE)

My analysis was spot on before the season started. Brady has been up and down this season but is the 6th best fantasy quarterback in the league this year (behind Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer) and is my best player, having compiled 216.9 points (19.7 per week average).

Unfortunately, Chris Simms took a huge hit in Week Three and suffered a ruptured spleen, knocking him out for the year. I was forced to pick up Vince Young from Tennessee for Brady's Week Six bye and Young picked up only 13.05 points but I was able to win that week, actually notching my best point total of the year in the process.

So, needless to say, I've been happy with my quarterback play thus far.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Updates to Come...I Promise


I'll have some more from my recent wedding and subsequent honeymoon in Kauai up in the next few days. I've been busy celebrating another Fantasy Football victory in my Trash Talking League that I'm in with Harry. He once again got smoked by another team who had a career week...it's pretty comical how Harry gets the best player in football (L.T.) and just can't build a team around him.

I can't wait for the trash talk to begin tomorrow among the Quebec participants. I'm now getting closer to locking up a playoff spot. Harris should just trade me LT for some bum right now so an Ontario resident has a chance of winning...food for thought Harry!

I might skip over the wedding and just talk about the honeymoon for now, simply because I don't have any pictures from my photographer yet! We'll see...

While in Kauai, I played golf twice and I have some pictures from both courses: Princeville (Prince Course), which has been rated in the Top 100 US Courses by Golf Digest Magazine and Poipu Bay Golf Club, which is the home of the PGA Tour's Grand Slam of Golf, which coincidently is being played this coming weekend.

The picture above was taken from the pool area of the Princeville Resort where Jacky and I stayed while in Kauai. Just gorgeous...lots more photos to come!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Brush with Poker Superstardom

The night before my wedding, Friday October 27th, we held a rehearsal at the St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Jacky and I arrived a bit late as I continue to live up to my 'Tardy' nickname. There were a couple of others who were even later than us from our wedding party but we finally got started around 6:10pm. After the rehearsal, everyone was invited back to our house for some pizza, wings and refreshments.

We had a full house, entertaining about 25 people that evening. A few of Jacky's friends wanted to head over to the Casino later that night and Jacky put on her best sad face, wanting to go as well.

I wasn't convinced that going to the Casino the night before our wedding was a good idea but I realized shortly thereafter that getting Jacky's mind off all the planning was in our best interests and said we were in.

So Jacky's friend Shelly and her husband Vito (who went to PGA Village with Harry, Preston and I earlier in the year) and Jacky's friend Jodi and her husband Dave (the former Canadian Football League star) were off for some Casino entertainment at about 9:30pm.

Vito is an employee of the Casino and is strictly forbidden from playing at the Fallsview Casino so we decided to lay low instead at Club 365, where a few bands were playing.

The place was packed and you could tell that there were a number of poker pros in attendence due to the World Poker Tour event being held at the casino. We were able to get a table pretty quickly, surprisingly enough and got comfortable watching the band play with our drinks in hand.

A big guy with a backwards 'Full Tilt Poker' hat was sitting beside us. He took out his cellphone and promptly snapped a picture of my wife-to-be and then showed it to her. Jacky quickly realized that the dude was flirting with her and shot back with the words "I'm getting married tomorrow!".

"You're kidding? To who?", he asked.

Jacky pointed to me and he smiled, offering his congratulations. The guy looked REALLY familiar.

My mind started working when I saw him signal for the waitress. While talking to her, he motioned towards our table and circled his hands in the air.

"Oh man", I said to Dave. "That guy is buying us a round of drinks!"

Wouldn't you know it but two minutes later, the waitress comes back with a full round of drinks for our entire table.

We raise our beers and drinks to him in thanks and I lean over to Jacky and say "you have to ask this guy what his name is...I'm sure he's a poker pro but can't place him."

She was a bit shy about it so I motioned for him to come over to our table. "What's your name?", Jacky asked. "I've seen you on TV before haven't I?".

He laughs. "Maybe. My name is Gavin."

I blurt out "Oh, Gavin Smith right? The Canadian."

We exchange small talk from there for a few minutes about poker, about his hometown of Guelph and other things. We thank him again, shake hands and he sits back down with his crew at the table beside us.

A few minutes later, I see him get up and go over to the bar and watch him make another gesture toward our table.

He seemed a bit frustrated a few minutes later when nothing was happening and got up again to talk to the bar. Wouldn't you know but a minute later, the waitress was at our table, presenting a bottle of Dom PĂ©rignon and six chilled champagne glasses to us, courtesy of Gavin Smith.

Unbelievable.

Gavin wouldn't join us for a toast, saying "I never touch the stuff! I'm a Bacardi guy!" so the six of us enjoyed the bottle with a bunch of interested onlookers taking in the action in the bar.

Gavin did relent and let us take a picture with Jacky and I by his side with our Dom in hand using Jacky's cellphone.

The fun was just beginning.

Gavin was chilling out with a few ladies and another poker superstar, who I later found out was recent WPT winner Joe Bartholdi, who won an incredible $3.7 million dollars for that victory. Both guys were holding huge wads of money throughout the night (especially Gavin) and true to form, they decided they needed to do a bit more gambling on this evening since they were out of the Niagara WPT event.

They asked Dave to get up and do a few spins for them. Gavin and Joe were playing 'Guess his weight' for money. Gavin 'set the line', going first by saying 210 pounds. After careful deliberation, Joe shot back with "209!".

Dave said something like "215" and Gavin was out of his chair, fist pumping. After taking Joe's money, he said "Matt, it's your turn!".

I bolted out of the chair and started doing a few turns, even lifting up my shirt to show them my svelte waist (haha), getting our table to burst out in laughter.

Gavin set the line at 155 pounds and after about 20 seconds of thought, Joe went with 154 pounds.

"168!", I exclaimed and Gavin had won again, eliciting howls from his table and ours.

This likely would have went on all night but we had a wedding to get ready for and it was almost 12:30am by this point so we once again went over to Gavin's table, shook his hand and said goodbye to our drinking partners.

I even told Gavin that if "you and your friends are bored, stop by the DoubleTree across the street tomorrow around 9:30pm. The drinks are on us."

"Don't be surprised if we show up", he said as he shook my hand for the last time.

Unfortunately, they didn't come to our reception but this ended up being a night none of us will soon forget.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Married Man Returns

Well, I'm officially hitched!

The wedding took place on Saturday October 28th and (quite) a few hiccups aside, everything went great.

Jacky and I ventured to Princeville, Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands for a ten-night honeymoon and we just returned to Canada earlier this evening.

There are A LOT of great things that I'll be discussing on my blog regarding the last few weeks. I had the fortune of meeting hugely successful professional poker players Gavin Smith and Joe Bartholdi the day before the wedding and it truly is a great story.

Of course, there's also the wedding and the honeymoon, which featured unbelievable weather, a lot of relaxation, some fantastic golf and the easily the scariest and craziest thing I've ever done in my life.

See ya tomorrow!