2012 Watch List #8

2012 fantasy football watch listIt’s mid-season as we are on the verge of MNF that will draw an end to week 8. For my teams, it’s been a season of mediocrity at it’s finest. I have gone to the wire and picked up players at an alarming rate. This tells me I did not draft as well as I once anticipated early in the season. Between leagues leagues I used used the wire 35 times (15-ESPN, 14-Yahoo, 6-CBS). No matter how I examine it, it’s too much, especially the 6 transactions in the CBS league, since each move is $10. I rarely spend more than $20 a year. I am still a big believer in building a successful team during the draft, not through FA and the waiver wire.

With only 5 weeks remaining until H2H playoffs begin, it’s time to take a good, hard look at your team and decide if you have enough to bring home a championship. I have already done this and believe I could be done very early (again) this season. For those owners who still believe then it’s time to make the most of those wire moves.

With that said, here is the watch list as we go into week 9 of the NFL.

QUARTERBACK
Blaine Gabbert JAX 27-49-303-1
Gabbert had his first 300 yard performance vs GB. Still not a intended to be a strong starter, he continues to struggle finding the endzone with multi-TD games this season. Considering JAX will usually be trailing, he could end up posting decent yardage and a TD a week.

Russell Wilson SEA 25-35-236-2-1, 1-9
Wilson put up good numbers versus a strong Lions pass defense completing 75% of his passes and 2 TD passes. Much like Gabbert, you might have to pick starts if you decided to grab Russell. He has skill and talent, but still just a rookie starting his 9th game.

Other notables: None

RUNNING BACK (number in (#) represent targets)
Ronnie Brown SDG 4-17, (8)7-85
There are no bright spots in San Diego these days, but Ronnie Brown continues to be a factor in the passing game. It seems he has taken on a Sproles-like role for the Chargers. Consider Rivers passed 11 times on Sunday with 7 catches by Brown. He has more value in a PPR format, but if you are in dire need of a RB you might look at Brown.

Jacquizz Rodgers ATL 8-60, (5)5-20
Rodgers is the change of pace back in the ATL who combined for 13 touches on Sunday vs Philly. This was his best game of the season and it’s still difficult to predict just how much he will be used on any given weekend. Still better to have Rodgers if you own Turner rather than as a starter in your line up.

Other notables: Joique Bell DET 7-25, (4)4-33,

WIDE RECEIVER (number in (#) represent targets)
Titus Young DET (9)9-100-1
Young was dropped by many owners early in the year as his numbers were weak. The injury to Burleson has given Young the chance to contribute to the Lions offense. Young caught all 9 balls his way and scored on a 1-yard TD pass. Megatron should continue to draw heavy coverage, hopefully Young is able to step up after back to back good games. He should be added and could be a good start in JAX in week 9.

Clyde Gates NYJ (11)7-82
Gates led the Jets in receiving, but that wasn’t saying much Sunday vs MIA. Most of these catches were garbage time, as the Jets were out of the game. He was targeted 11 times finishing with 7 catches. Only a viable WR is deeper leagues, as there should be better WRs to grab off the wire at this time.

Cecil Shorts JAX (12)8-116
Games of 74, 80, 79 and now 116 have made Shorts a good option off the wire. This week was his fist 100 yard effort, in which he also found the endzone. Shorts has been more involved in the offense and Gabbert seems to be looking his way more often. In week JAX played DET and is worth a spot start.

Danny Amendola STL
STL is on a bye in week 9, but watch the news about Amendola’s return. he was posting good numbers again before a shoulder injury knocked him out. He could return in week 10 vs SF. He should be available after week 9.

Other notables: Josh Gordon CLE (5)3-46, Ryan Broyles DET (5)3-37-1

TIGHT END
Dustin Keller NYJ (11)7-67
Keller, now healthy has posted back to back 7 catch games and saw a season high 11 targets vs MIA. Keller is a viable starter, even with all the issues the Jets are having. He could lose a bit of value if Tebow takes over as starter out of the bye week.

Other notables: None

3 Teams. 1 Strategy. No Results.

I should be writing a piece on my mid-season performance in fantasy football this week. Maybe I am being a bit too pessimistic to my approach, but having experienced 29 years of fantasy football I know chances to take home a championship have dwindled this season for a myriad of reasons. This year was the first (and last) year of participating in a 14 team league and having a terrible experience currently 1-7. In my opinion 14 teams is too many. At work I started off well going 5-3, but have drop 3 games in the last 5 weeks. As for the league I manage, the TFL I am 4-4 but in 9th place overall based on total points.

Being 1-7 is tough, now 8 weeks down with 5 remaining, all I would need to win to have an outside shot at a playoff spot. Based on how poorly my team has performed, I can’t even put a positive spin on my team. The loss of Fred Jackson early on hurt me. This injury was followed by Cedric Benson, which left me DeMarco Murray who was injured in week 7 and didn’t play in week 8. Need I mention he was my #1 pick in (13th overall) the draft. To be honest, my team is unrecognizable in week 8 compared to who I drafted.

At QB, Philip Rivers has killed me all season long. I decided to pick up Christian Ponder and start him the rest of the way, as I have long lost faith in the coaching and management of the Chargers. Another Charger who hasn’t impressed, Antonio Gates, who has showed up for exactly 1 game this season. I also had Nate Kaeding before I lost him to injury earlier this year, but made the decision not to pick up his replacement opting for Greg Zuerlein.

Oh players I drafted Steven Ridley has probably been my best performer, but even his play has been inconsistent. Speaking of inconsistency, Dez Bryant was quiet though 3 weeks, but has come to life in 3 of the last 4 games, hopefully this is a positive sign for during a dismal season.

The last few weeks I have picked up Jonathan Dwyer, Chris Givens, Mikel Leshoure and Titus Young. Players who had been jettisoned by other teams to make way for other hot talent on the wire. Currently there are no players on the wire who could turn my season around. I suspect I will finish the season with a 2-11 record. My team has been unable to score, even the victory I had 2 weeks ago was only by a slim 3 point margin. So put a fork in this team, I will play out the season and not play in another 14 team league again.

At work we use ESPN and I am the commissioner for the 3rd year in a row. I won the league 2 years ago and thought I was on the winning track to start the 2012 season. I have been derailed the past few weeks suffering 3 loses and dropping me to 5-3. Still with that record I am in a position to make the playoffs and looking at my remaining schedule I play only 1 team with a winning record. So while the match ups favor me, I just need to see production out of a team that posted a 153 point score in week 5. I know the team can score, but inconsistency seems to have gotten the better of this team the past 5 weeks.

The team is anchored by Drew Brees, who came off his worst performance of the season last night. Injuries to Ahmad Bradshaw and Reggie Bush during the year have slowed their play recently, in which I suffered two of those loses. I don’t see Daryl Richardson as a legit starter for either of these RBs. Given we have only 5 bench spots (12 team league) I am only carrying 3 RBs. Not a wise move on my part.

I am very strong at WR with Eric Decker, Marques Colston and Julio Jones are my regular starters. All have played well this season and more importantly have remained healthy. They are the reason why I have gotten off to a 5-3 start this season. I expect these WRs to carry me the rest of the way. During the bye weeks I have been fortunate picking up Josh Gordon and Chris Givens. At TE I lost Fred Davis to injury, but this year there have been some very good play at the position. I picked up Martellus Bennett and Dennis Pitta during the season and have filled in admirably. Currently Bennett is the start and unless another better TE becomes available, I will run the season with “The Black Unicorn.”

This was another league that I had Nate Kaeding in, with his move to the IR due to injury I went with Shayne Graham initially, but after 2 weeks moved on to Greg Zuerlein who seemed to have more field goal chances. That move has paid off as well…until this week when STL score only 7 points.

My backup QB is Philip Rivers and had thoughts about going to him early on while I put Drew Brees on the trade block, where he has been for 8 weeks with no interest from other owners. I was expecting a #1 RB and still believe he is worth that in return. Maybe as teams jockey for playoff position I will deal Bress and hope to see Rivers turn things around. If not there is always Christian Ponder and Brandon Weeden on the waiver wire. Of the three leagues, this is my best chance at taking a championship.

Finally, the TFL the league that is near and dear to my heart where I have been the commissioner since we christened the league back in 1983-1984. Unfortunately it’s been rough in this 10-team league this season. It’s a league where the main payout is for total points, while the H2H is a separate payout. This allows the possibility of more owners having an interest in the season. Currently I am in 9th place in total points, already 188 points out of the top spot. While that lead isn’t insurmountable, I have a hard time finding those points and making up that lead. After MNF I will be 4-4. Each odd week I seem to win, but every even week I seem to lose. That has been the pattern this year.

I felt this was one of the stronger teams I had built the last 10 years. After drawing the #1 pick I opted to drop to 4th and built my team around Drew Brees with Christian Ponder as my surprise starter as the QB2 every week but one. Injuries to Matt Forte and Reggie Bush put me in a bind early at RB, but the loss of Cedric Benson has put me in a bind. I continue to start Darren Sproles, who like many other players isn’t having the sort of year like he did last year. He has put together 2 good back to back week and the Saints continue to score. The only talent on the bench is Jonathan Stewart and Lamar Miller, who was a last minute pickup last week to cover a bye. Stewart hasn’t been in the starting line up to date.

The best part of this team, the WRs build around Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Dez Bryant. Unfortunately all three have been inconsistent, but at least they have been healthy for the most part. On the bench I have Brandon Lloyd and Mike Williams, both who have seen action in recent weeks to help me win a few games. I need to see more production from Fitzgerald and more importantly Andre Johnson (drafted round 3 and round 4). Of all the WRs I have Mike Williams is having the best season. On a positive note points have been on the increase for Johnson and Fitzgerald, hopefully that trend continues as it will be my only hope. It comes as no surprise that I could be starting 4 WRs the rest of the season.

I drafted Fred Davis and lost him to injury. I picked up Martellus Bennett and Dennis Pitta, much like I did in my work league. At the time of their pick up they were the hottest couple of TE in the league. The past few weeks they have returned to pack in terms of statistics. Bennett has been the starter the past few weeks is well off his early season pace. An omen before week 1 started was the loss of both my kickers, one to IR the other to being cut. I picked up Shayne Graham and Greg Zuerlein. Both have played welled and Zuerlein has been very impressive for much of the season.

I can see my strategy through all three leagues. This strategy didn’t work well in the 14-team league, a draft I did prepare for very well. I figured with the showing I had in this league last year (when it was 12-teams) losing the championship game by 2 points I figured I could build another good team. Unfortunately not getting a good draft position I have struggled all season long.

At work I still feel confident this team will produce and bring me a championship, especially with the weak schedule I have remaining. As long as I can avoid further injury at RB, I should put myself in a position to have a strong run in the playoffs. I will continue on trying to work a deal to trade Brees for a legitimate RB1, no idea if I will have takers. I might start looking at playoff match ups a bit closer after week 8 ends.

The TFL is the tough one to call (10-team league). I know I don’t have enough in my starting line up to compete. If I make the playoffs it will be luck pulling me through. While I have big names, I don’t believe they will impact my team as I anticipate. With the exception of week 8 I had surpassed 100 points each week, but no longer is 100 points the standard, it’s more of the low end average. So I ride the remainder of the season out performing my commissioner duties and look towards our 30 year draft in Las Vegas next year.

New Approach: Stronglifts

I have decided to take a new approach at the gym since I have been a bit discouraged with the results I have not been seeing. This could be attributed to have no partner to lift with, someone who is also there to push you, someone to bounce questions off. The way I see it, going to the gym is better than sitting on my ass on the couch and playing XBox, so ANY exercise I am getting is better than none. I have been very dedicated as well, getting to the gym 3 to 4 times a week, but have lacked the strength and muscle gains. Enter Stronglifts 5X5.

Still looking at my body log, which tracks measurements I have not see much of a change. The only exception my waist, where I have dropped 3 inches. I figured after 6 months I would see some better definition in my arms and chest. While surfing the Internet last weekend in search of who knows what I ran across a site called Stronglifts.com by a guy named Mehdi. I started reading about him and identified with him.

After I got through reading, I decided to sign up and get his free 5×5 starter kit, which required nothing more than my e-mail. I started reading The 5X5 Report, which Glenn Pendlay, MS USAW, Olympic coach says “will work for virtually everyone.” His method is nothing revolutionary, but a simple program that will gain muscle, develop strength, eliminate stubborn fat and improve my health. What’s not to like about this program. Best of all it’s only a 3 day a week program with a combination of 5 exercises.

I watch many other guys at the gym and watch their routines. I was on a 4 day weight program that isolate muscle groups (arms, chest, back and shoulders), rarely working on my legs or gluteal muscles. Still I was hoping to increase muscle and gain strength, but I wasn’t see that happen. “Muscle size is directly related to strength gains.” This is a themed echoed through Mehdi’s report.

The “5X5 stands” for 5 sets of 5 reps. At this point, some 40 pages into his report I am skeptical. So I jump ahead and start reading some of the 50 real life success stories included in the report. I jump to those guys in the 40-49 year old bracket. I was able to identify with many of their comments and figured if they could do this, I know I could. What was even more impressive were seeing the before and after pictures of guys after they had been on this program for 6 to 8 to 12 months and the gains they had made in strength and muscle.

So I decided to take the 12 week challenge that Mehdi discusses in his 5X5 Report. Without going into the many details that would probably bore you, the workouts are divided in Workout A and Workout B. So starting yesterday, Monday I did Workout A, Workout B comes on Wednesday and Friday it’s back to Workout A. At the start of week 2, I begin the week with Workout B. Easy, huh? Workout A consists  of squat, bench press and barbell rows, while Workout B is squat, overhead press and deadlift.

I have already taken my “before pictures” and recorded my body measurements. The rest is up to me. Yesterday I spent maybe 30 minutes doing Workout A, but today I feel the results unlike the 5-7 exercises I had been doing when I was isolating muscles. Hopefully this is a good sign of things to come.

 

Plant-Strong: Year 1

Hard to believe it has been 1 year since I decided to change my diet and take control of my health. Today marks my first anniversary since giving up meat, dairy and oil and eating plant-strong. It has been an amazing start on the road to health and believe it of not it does seem to get easier. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would I could do this. Ask me a few years ago and I would say I could “never go vegan.” Not only have I done so, I have gone an extra step and I have been rewarded with excellent health based on my doctor’s opinion, more importantly based on the numbers.

I don’t focus on what I chose NOT to eat, rather all the choices I do get to eat. It wasn’t easy at times and I struggled, but I never strayed too far from what Dr. John McDougall teaches. I learned of him in the documentary, Forks Over Knives. I was also introduced to T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn. These three gentlemen are my found on which I have built a strong pillar of health. Without their research, studies and teaching I would continue to eat poorly and rely on big pharma and the medication establishment to care for me as I age.

Now at age 42 I am in the best shape of my life and it will only improve. While re-learning nutrition is continuing, it was interesting to see just how jaded the government and big business were in regards to our health. Special interests and profits are the main goals of industries like meat and dairy. They don’t care about YOUR health. They will feed you lies, as long you continue to buy and support their product. Many fallacies surrounding milk as well, does it really do a body good? Research it for yourself.

Now, 12 month later I don’t miss that slice of cheese or that steak on a special occasion. I have found a heart healthy way to enjoy food and thrive on a plant-based, whole foods diet. But I am not here to push this lifestyle on anyone. I would much rather push good nutrition so well intended individuals can make their own decisions. I like being in the 1%, the small minority that make up the group who base their diets around plants. I have gotten comfortable with people looking at me with a queer stare and saying, “You don’t eat meat? Or dairy? Or oil? But olive oil is healthy for you…”

You can read just how far I have come in my latest addition under McDougall titled, 1 Year Review. It provides a run down of the last 6 months and the steps I took to achieve goals I had set, including the last 10 pounds I wanted to shed, along with lowering my cholesterol under 150. I also layout some of my future goals to accomplish in the next year. That actually started today with a new weight lifting program called Stronglifts 5×5. More on that tomorrow.

2012 Watch List #7

2012 fantasy football watch listThe Watch List wasn’t published last week, as I was on a bye. I figured if they are good enough for NFL players, I too could slide one in there. It was another long week of of action, as we began on Thursday night. One thing we haven’t been short on this season…injuries. Key players this week Maurice Jones-Drew, Fred Davis, Shonn Greene, Ben Tate and Blaine Gabbert. To go along with the injuries, we did have a few surprise performances as well during week 7 that could have owners running to the wire.

We are now 7 weeks into the NFL and looking at the mid season point of the season. One thing I have noticed is talent starts to thin out the deeper we get into the season. During the draft, some owners (bench allowing) will draft depth in the form of sleepers. Even then some of those players could become possible drop candidates if early season injuries pop right.

With that said, here is the watch list as we go into week 8 of the NFL.

QUARTERBACK
John Skelton ARI 25-36-262-1-1
Skelton returns to the helm in Arizona, as Kolb exited stage left last week due to injury. This could be the opening Skelton needs to win the starting job for the rest of the season. Unfortunately he couldn’t put a ‘W’ on the board for the Cardinals, but was effective through the air. Arizona home to SF in week 8.

Other notables: None

RUNNING BACK (number in (#) represent targets)
LaRod Stephens-Howling ARI 20-104-1, (5)4-45
Speaking of being health, “Apostrophe” is one of the few RBs in Arizona that is healthy. Going into the game vs MIN, it was expected that Powell and Stephens-Howing would split carries, but that was not the case. The 104 yards was a career high and came against a good MIN defense. He might have won the starting job, but faces a tough task vs SF in week 7.

Rashad Jennings JAX 21-44-1, (9)7-58
Not an overly impressive game for Jennings coming in relief of MJD who left with a undetermined foot injury. He combined for 102 yards, but the 2.1 YPC isn’t good. Jennings will become the starter week 8 at Green Bay, he is a must add.
Other notables:

Jonathan Dwyer PIT 17-122
I’ve gone back and forth on Dwyer the past few weeks, but he is one of he healthy back in PIT right now. With Mendenhall and Redman still injured Dwyer finally exploded on Sunday for 122 yards (7.2 YPC)! Look for him to remain the starter in week 8 against WAS.

WIDE RECEIVER (number in (#) represent targets)
Santana Moss WAS (4)3-67-2
With the injury to Fred Davis, the wide receivers could end up playing a bigger role in the upcoming weeks. Still only 4 targets on the week, wasn’t the top targeted WR (Hankerson). Still if you are looking for a BYE week cover you might look at WAS match up and start Moss on a game by game basis. Week 8 has WAS in PIT.

Leonard Hankerson WAS (8)6-70
With Garcon still inactive, Hankerson and Moss end up being the starters for WAS. Hankerson was the top targeted WR on Sunday with 8 targets. Hankerson hasn’t been all too consistent, could be a flex option vs PIT in week 8.

Other notables: Chris Givens STL (5)3-73, Brandon Gibson STL (7)5-60, Cecil Shorts (10)4-79-1

TIGHT END
Martellus Bennett NYG (7)5-79
After a few down weeks, Bennett posted his best yardage of the year, 79 yards. Still one of the better options to own at the TE position, as he posted 70+ yards times this season along with 3 TDs. Bennett has a good match up against DAL, which he scored on back in week 1.

Other notables: Brandon Myers OAK (10)7-44, Dustin Keller (7)7-93-1