I had my very first Bill Engvall moment recently. If you're not familiar with Bill Engvall, he's a comedian famous for his "Here's Your Sign" routines in which someone asks a question that has an obvious answer, and in the process, he responds with a smart ass answer. The metaphorical "sign" is given to the person to warn others about his/her stupidity. So, I was closing down the swimming pool at home and took the round, blue solar cover out front to lay out and dry. The neighbor next door felt the need to insert himself and say "Is that your pool cover?" Without missing a beat, I replied, "Nope, the giant down the street lost his contact lens and I'm just bringing it back". It had come out so quickly that I never even thought about it.
Go ahead and give me the sign though, because that's exactly how I felt this week about not starting Ray Rice. I had considered the fact that Rice was facing Denver who was giving up the 2nd fewest points to opposing RB's along with the fact that he was still favoring his knee and the fact that he had yet to see the endzone (and was only averaging 10 points/game in this ppr league). I had started Ryan Mathews against an easier Oakland run defense instead, and boy do I wish I had the benefit of hindsight on that one. It was the difference between winning and losing that game. Fantasy Football Rule #1: don't bench your studs. Here's your sign.
Each week we take a look at the best and worst match ups across the NFL and highlight some of those to aid in some of those sit/start decisions. I felt good about recommending Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, and Terrell Owens last week. I felt good about recommending LaDainian Tomlinson two weeks ago when he finally went off for a monster day and suggested sitting All-Pro Steve Smith the week prior to that. It doesn't matter how often we correctly pick the right guys to sit/start, it gnaws at me all day on Sunday for the picks that didn't pan out (curse you Jay Cutler!!). It happens every week and the only thing that comforts me is the following story which remains one of my all-time favorite fantasy football stories.
Matthew Berry from ESPN shared this great story and I think it's worth repeating (you can read Matthew's story in its entirety here). In Week 5 of Matt Hasselbeck's first year playing fantasy football, he benched himself and put Brett Favre in his lineup instead. Favre had just finished off the Packers and was tearing it up in fantasy leagues. He was set to face one of the league's worst pass defenses in the St Louis Rams. Hasselbeck was out the previous two weeks with a back injury and his first game back was against the Jaguars. Given the known conditions, how could you argue with Matt? Well, Favre threw for 232 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Hasselbeck threw 4 touchdowns and was the #1 fantasy QB in the league that week. The point is that even someone like Matt Hasselbeck, who has the ability to directly influence the outcome of a game, would have made that call.
Life in the NFL can be cyclical. A team can be on top of the world for years and then spend years dwelling at the bottom. The 49ers were once the most dominant team in the NFL with names like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, and Roger Craig. With current talent like Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis, one would assume that the 49ers would be at the top of the NFC West. Unfortunately that's not the reality that San Francisco finds itself in. It all starts at the top with Mike Singletary, who I have tremendous respect for as a Hall-of-Famer and football legend but have difficulty understanding his coaching strategy at times. His confrontational nature, whether with his players or with local tv sports reporters, is in stark contrast to those coaches that are at the top of their games and have been for years. Looks like I'm not alone. John Madden recently told KCBS radio via the San Francisco Chronicle, "That's something that, a lot of things go on in a game that you're not proud of as a coach. That's really not part of coaching, that's sometimes I worry about that. I see youth football and I see high school football and coaches yelling at players and I cringe when I see it. I think people get the picture that's what coaching is and believe me, that's not what coaching is."
I'll admit that I felt bad for Alex Smith. I mean when you have an entire stadium chanting for your backup, you gotta feel for the guy. The last thing you want to see is your head coach chewing you out for all of the dumb mistakes that you've been making. There isn't much that Singletary can say that Smith isn't already aware of.
It reminds of the time I went fishing, and when we pulled back into the dock, one of the locals looked at our string of fish and asked "Hey, did you guys catch all of those fish?" "Nope. We convinced them to give up." Here's your sign.
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