Category Archives: Studs duds and pickups

Bye to a Roody Poo candy ass

Farewell, old friend. You will be missed.

This goodbye isn’t meant for a person, or even a faithful canine companion.

It’s for a fantasy football league named after the premier pro wrestler at the time – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

For the past 16 years, basically my entire post-collegiate life, the Roody Poo Fantasy Football League filled the fall with competitive fervor, smack talk, companionship and the occasional riches of a high-payout.

The Roody Poo wasn’t the typical fantasy league. In its early (and in this writer’s mind better) years, points were hard to come by. The league was a scoring league. Touchdowns, like real football, meant more than yards. Quarterbacks, the most important players in the game, were the most vital to Roody Poo success. Passing touchdowns counted the same as rushing, receiving or defensive touchdowns. Throw an interception that was returned for a score? Well, that was six points off the quarterback’s point total.

The league was quirky. Owners had to reach the championship to earn a share of the pot. The champion usually won around a grand.

And the trash talk. Oh my, did it fly fast and furious.

Like everything else, things change. Over time, owners wanted more points awarded for yards and the third-place team to earn a share of the pot. As commissioner, I permitted such changes, but the original intent of the league was bastardized. It still owned its quirks, but the Roody Poo slowly became like the majority of other fantasy football leagues.

Drafts, which always took place at my apartment, started occurring online. The trash talk dwindled to a murmur, then grew silent.

Yet, the league remained highly competitive as the payouts proved fruitful – a nice bonus after the holidays.

But then, about six weeks ago, a realization hit me.

Even if the Roody Poo was no longer what I wanted it to be, I still took fantasy football seriously. Too seriously.

On this fateful Sunday, my Roody Poo team – Hadji’s Skeleton Achers – rolled with Matthew Stafford at quarterback and kept Joe Flacco on the bench. Just about noon, I was ready to insert Flacco into my starting lineup. My daughter, Anna, called upstairs to me.

“Dad, it’s time to go to church.”

I thought to myself, “Stafford’s been in your lineup all week, don’t second-guess yourself. Keep him in there.”

Flacco threw five touchdowns – in the first half.

Stafford, as he had done for much of the 2014 season, sucked.

I simmered over the decision the rest of the day. Seriously. It dominated my thought process.

That’s when the realization came to me … it was time to give it up. The Roody Poo needed retired, and I’m contemplating leaving fantasy football entirely.

And I’m OK with that.

As today’s 1 p.m. kickoffs near halftime, my Roody Poo run is about 90 minutes from being over. No starters Monday, or in Sunday’s late games. No playoffs this year. No adding to my league record number of championship game appearances. Over. 16 years. Just like that. I’m a little sentimental today, thinking back to the early years of the league and how much fun we all had competing. Moments from those in-person drafts that still make me smile. It was a great run, but everything, even fantasy football leagues, has an ending.

Fantasy stud, dud and pickup

Some years, every decision made is the wrong one.

About 11:30 a.m. last Sunday, I opened the home laptop and cued up the home page to the Roody Poo Fantasy Football League, founded in 1999 by yours truly and running strong in its 16th season. The league is an homage to quirky fantasy football. It favors scoring, and is the only league I know of to dock a quarterback six points for throwing a pick six.

It’s been a rough few weeks for Hadji’s Skeleton Achers, making strong lineup decisions essential. And I faced a dilemma at the quarterback position.

Matt Stafford or Joe Flacco.

Seems like a no-brainer most weeks. Stafford is one of the better quarterbacks in fantasy, a point-producing, throw-first quarterback capable of rushing for a touchdown every week. Flacco is in the midst of a bounce-back season. Still, we’re talking about a guy that couldn’t beat out Tyler Palko at Pitt (#PalkoFacts).

It wasn’t a no-brainer last Sunday. Stafford was missing Calvin Johnson and Flacco was facing the Buccaneers. Still, when I went to my team page, Stafford was in his usual starting spot. The temptation to insert Flacco was strong.

“Daddy, we have to go to church.”

Anna beckoned. I had to go. Stafford stayed in the lineup. Flacco threw five touchdowns. He outscored my entire starting lineup. Hadji’s lost.

Last week, Branden Oliver was the stud selection. The Chargers tailback delivered with 101 rushing yards, four receptions and a touchdown. Terrence Williams was the dud, and, despite a a highlight-reel catch on a third-and-20 to help Dallas beat Seattle, he had just two catches for 70 yards. Brian Quick was the pickup and, well, let’s hope the young man has better games than what he had Monday against San Francisco.

On to this week’s selections.

Stud – Ben Tate, Cleveland. Love the Browns offense. Really love the Browns running game, and Tate is a big reason why. He had two touchdowns last week against Pittsburgh. The guess here is he finds the endzone at least once and tops 100 yards against Jacksonville.

Dud – Zac Stacy, St. Louis. Seattle’s defense is going to be angry, and they’re going to take it out on a bad team in the Rams. Stacy didn’t look good against San Francisco. Avoid.

Pickup – Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville. Sure, the Jaguars stink. But chances are they’ll be throwing a lot against Cleveland, and the Browns are primed for a letdown after beating the Steelers. Shorts is finally healthy and worth owning.

Fantasy stud, dud and pickup

The No. 1 factor to fantasy success? It’s probably luck. If not, it’s being alert.

My defense of a championship in one highly competitive league I’m part of got off to a miserable start. Aaron Rodgers struggled. Eddie Lacy did nothing. Ben Tate was injured. So was Jordan Cameron. Zach Ertz fizzled. It goes on and on from there.

How bad was the first month? Try an 0-4 record and the low point total in the league. But, following the third week, fortunes began to change even if it didn’t show up in the win column in Week 4.

That’s when some poor sap of an owner cut T.Y. Hilton. Yep, the same Hilton who went for 1,000-plus yards in his second season and caught seven touchdowns as a rookie. Sure, Hilton hadn’t scored a touchdown, but had this owner watched the Colts? Andrew Luck throws it 40 times per game, if not more. Hilton’s too good to cut.

Yet, there he was. The Florida International product sitting on the waiver wire.

Surely, with the eighth waiver pick in a 12-team league, there was no way my sorry, winless bunch would get Hilton. No matter. I made the waiver claim. To my surprise, he landed on my roster and was quickly inserted into my starting lineup.

My team nearly won Week 4 with Hilton in. Finally, Revis Christ broke through the win column in Week 5 and, this Thursday, Hilton put together a game to remember – 9 catches, 223 yards (one shy of a team record) and his first touchdown of the season. His 39.3 points certainly gives me a chance to get to 2-4.

One game at a time.

Why tell the story? Well, for one, it’s not wise to give up on Pro Bowl-caliber talent. Two, fantasy leagues aren’t won in September.

Stud – Branden Oliver, San Diego. Chances are most owners in your league didn’t know who Oliver was before he gashed the Jets’ tough run defense for 119 yards and was a key figure in the passing game. Chances are he’s no longer available in your league. San Diego is physically imposing and the best team I’ve seen to date this season. Oakland stinks and the Chargers are riddled with injures in the backfield.

Dud – Terrance Williams, Dallas. Williams is a touchdown machine and a big reason why the Cowboys are the surprise of the NFC. The problem? Well he’s produced an awfully high percentage of touchdowns on a low number of targets. Against Seattle this week, expect Williams’ touchdown streak to stop and his low number of targets to continue.

Pickup – Brian Quick, St. Louis. Quick has quietly and consistently produced top 15 numbers at the position. He’s had nine targets in three of four games, and already has career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Sure, the Rams have an unproven quarterback in Austin Davis and a tough opponent in San Francisco, but Quick is a must own.

Last week, Eli Manning was the choice for stud and he finished with 200 yards and two touchdowns. Hardly, studly numbers but enough to get a win if you started the right people. Larry Fitzgerald finished with three catches for 57 yards and no touchdowns, a worthy dud selection. No touchdowns for Fitz through four games. Travis Kelce was the suggested pickup and the big tight end found the end zone last week.

Fantasy stud, dud and pickup

Anyone think Steve Smith had something to prove against Carolina? Smith delivered in a big way for the pass-happy Ravens and the receiver is a big reason why Joe Flacco has been one of the best fantasy quarterbacks. Smith finished with seven receptions, 139 yards and, most importantly, two touchdowns.

Jason Witten had five receptions for 61 yards, sadly both are season-highs for the Cowboys tight end. Dallas is running the football with greater regularity, and Witten is losing targets to emerging players like Terrence Williams.

LeGarrette Blount had four carries for 25 yards. He’s the established backup in Pittsburgh, but this was certainly disappointing production in an embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay. Even with Le’Veon Bell emerging as a top five running back, Blount will get touches, assuming the Steelers keep producing on offense.

Last week, Smith was our stud, Witten our dud and Blount the pickup. Blount was a bust, but we’ll stick with the previous picks.

On to choices for Sunday.

Stud – Eli Manning, New York Giants. Manning is so up-and-down that he’s not owned in about 1 in every leagues and usually relegated to bye-week starting. If you have Manning, get him in your lineup this week. Atlanta’s defense is not good. OK, it flat out sucks. Anyone watch the Vikings gash them last week? The Giants are home and Manning has an elite red-zone target in tight end Larry Donnell.

Dud – Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona. This one hurts. I covered Pitt football during Fitzgerald’s time there, and he still ranks as the most amazing athlete I watched regularly during my former life as a sports writer. (Full disclosure, the Observer-Reporter’s Heisman Trophy vote went to Fitzgerald during his sophomore season.) But that was then. This is now, and while Fitzgerald remains a big name in the game, his production isn’t anything to brag about. He’s no longer Arizona’s primary target.

Pickup – Travis Kelce, Kansas City. If you’re in a league that starts tight ends, and this guy is available, go grab him. At 6-5, Kelce offers a big target for Alex Smith, who prefers the short to intermediate passes. Kelce has touchdowns in each of the past two games, and don’t be surprised if he grabs one at San Francisco.

Fantasy stud, dud and pickup

Let’s revisit last week’s stud (Knile Davis), dud (Jay Cutler) and pickup (Khiry Robinson) before jumping into this week’s choices.

Full disclosure: one hit, one miss and one draw.

Davis was a definitive hit. The Chiefs backup rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown at Miami. The lone drawback – no receptions in a passing game that is anything but vertical. Cutler was a miss, though he did have his worst outing of the year by a decent margin. He still managed 225 yards and two scores at the Jets and avoid costly interceptions. Robinson was a draw. He rushed for 69 yards but was held out of the end zone and failed to catch a pass, though Pierre Thomas is the primary pass catcher out of the New Orleans backfield.

On to this week’s picks:

Stud – Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore. Motivation. Motivation. Motivation. No longer wanted in Carolina, Smith landed in Baltimore to add a veteran presence in the passing game. To date, he’s delivered. Smith has 32 targets, nearly 300 yards receiving and two double-digit games. Plus, he’s emerged as Joe Flacco’s favorite target in a passing attack Steelers fans in Western Pennsylvania don’t want to admit is as potent as it is. Smith scores one touchdown, maybe more.

Dud – Jason Witten, Dallas. Wasn’t that long ago when Witten was seemingly targeted 15 times per game as Tony Romo’s favorite safety valve. Through three games, Witten is averaging six targets per game with only 10 catches. The matchup against the Saints is attractive, but Dallas is going to need to run the football effectively (very effectively) to keep Drew Brees on the sidelines as much as possible.

Pickup – LeGarrette Blount, Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay stinks. The Steelers’ offense is good. And Blount rushed for 118 yards and a TD in garbage time Sunday night at Carolina. He’s nowhere near as good as Le’Veon Bell, but he’s as good a backup as there is the NFL. There’s an outstanding chance he adds to his two rushing touchdowns on the season.