Week one of the NFL season is less than 24 hours from being in the books, which means it’s time to talk fantasy football. Because if there’s one thing I know and want to talk about, it’s what I like to call The Three F’s: Fantasy F*cking Football.
You’re probably wondering why you should trust anything I have to say about fantasy when there are guys out there like Matthew Berry (nerd alert) and Brandon Funston (he works for Yahoo, which is the Detroit Lions of sports info websites) who make a living out of talking about fake football. The difference between guys like that and guys like me is that I can tell you the truth, while they have to worry about the repercussions of pissing off real-life football players who might eat their children if anything bad about said player is published.
Me, I’ve got two legs to stand on and eight fantasy teams, plus one survivor pool, and one Pac-10 league to worry about. If Steve Slaton is upset with me because I need his ass to put up numbers, then so be it. Bring it, Steve.
Speaking of Steve Slaton, did anyone have a worse performance in Week One than the Texans running back? Nine carries for 17 yards? Nine effing carries?! Seventeen effing yards?! That’s abysmal! I actually feel bad for your family and friends that were forced to watch you have that crappy performance.
Give credit to the Jets defense for shutting Slaton down (and yes, the Jets D/ST is right up there among the best this year), but come on. You’ve got wideouts who spread the field, a quarterback that loosens up the defense, and the best you can do is truck for 17 yards. It was so bad that Chris Brown saw action behind you. Chris Brown. Chris Brown is so broke that people just assume he’s the guy that beat up Rihanna (for the record, that was the singer Chris Brown, who at this point in his life might actually be a better runner than Chris Brown the running back).
Fact is, Steve, you deserve this negative reinforcement so that you come back stronger and angrier in Week Two. Though next week you face another tough defense in Tennessee, so you best put your Nikes on and hit the pavement running.
Slaton wasn’t the only disappointment in Week One, however.
What about Anthony Gonzalez? Gonzalez, as I’ve alluded to before, is not your typical NFL receiver. He’s not black, but he’s not a Wes Welker-type, which makes him an enigma in football terms. You see, in order to be a worthwhile pass catcher in the NFL, you must either be of African American descent or fall into the category of Welker-types, which for the record should be its own entry in the urban dictionary:
Welkertype (n): An American rules football player of Caucasian descent that plays the wide receiver position in the National Football League. Often characterized by a light skin tone, diminutive stature, and surprising quickness in spite of their ethnic background. Generally quiet and know their place on a football team. They rarely, if ever, step out of line and are as surehanded as they are well-mannered.
So here’s Gonzalez, who looks like a white guy, isn’t a Welkertype, and possesses a Mexican surname and what does he do? He gets injured in the first quarter of the first game of the season. Out two-to-six weeks. Dammit!
Everybody who drafted this guy is thinking the same thing: What the hell was I thinking on draft day?
Yeah, Gonzalez is a talented enough receiver. And yeah, he does have one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history throwing passes to him. And yes, he is a starter now. But in spite of all the positives, all of us Gonzalez owners ignored all the warning signs that go into drafting certain players.
Warning Sign No. 1: He’s not black. Goes without saying.
Warning Sign No. 2: He’s got a Mexican last name. Mexicans are not bred for their skills in football, unless you count kickers.
Warning Sign No. 3: He’s not a Welkertype. Which means he could be a loose cannon, may not be surehanded, and is not necessarily as speedy as his positional counterparts.
We should have seen this coming.
Enough with the bad, let’s take a look at a few under-the-radar players who had big performances in Week One.
Nate Burleson, WR
We weren’t really sure what to expect from Nate, but all of a sudden Matt Hasselbeck was tossing him balls like he was Chad Ochocinco Johnson. At least that’s probably how T.J. Houshmandzadeh saw it.
Fact is, Housh was supposed to be Hasselbeck’s main man, but back from the dead stormed Nate the Great who is looking to rebound from a 2008 season lost to injury.
The thing about Burleson is he’s a deep threat who just as deadly in short yardage thanks to his slippery elusiveness. The Seahawks coaching staff had him running streaks, fades, corners, and even a screen here or there. All of which makes Burleson an attractive option for your fantasy team, assuming he stays healthy.
Patrick Crayton, WR
I thought you were dead. No, really. I didn’t even know you were still living until you showed up and caught four balls for 135 yards and a TD on Sunday.
This was supposed to be Roy Williams’ team after T.O. skipped town, but all of a sudden the forgotten man has made himself relevant again.
Crayton had a decent 2007 campaign, but was pretty much worthless in ’08. Now he’s back with his first 100-yard-plus receiving game in two years.
He may not be this consistent every week out, but with Terrell Owens in Buffalo, Tony Romo needs someone he can trust in the passing game. Between Williams and Crayton, he’s got two solid choices.
Joe Flacco, QB
Flacco was okay in his rookie season of 2008, but he might very well be better than that in 2009. The Ravens QB possesses a rocket arm that was often holstered last year because of a lack of faith in the young thrower’s decision-making skills.
This time around, the trust is there and so are the physical skills.
Flacco should be unleashed upon every opponent this season, and even though Baltimore’s receivers are old as dirt, they have the veteran savvy to make plays on balls that a lot of younger guys would have trouble with.
After going 26-43 for 307 yards, three TDs, and one pick in his first game of 2009, expect big things week in and week out from the sophomore quarterback.