You're the best, Seattle (USAT)
And yes, I've got a brunch to prepare for you.
I generally find myself in a philosophical mood at the end of a fantasy season. Here are some snippets to digest as you look back at the elegant violence we just witnessed and enjoyed.
• Head to head is more fun. Total points is more fair. As Ron Washington might say, that's how roto go.
The skill of a fantasy team is scoring points, ostensibly so you can make the playoffs. The short run, what happens to you in the playoffs, is the biggest luck of all. Don't let the results of Week 15 and Week 16 define your season; the big picture tells the truest story.
• There's been a lot of debate as to who was first on the Russell Wilson Bandwagon, but I know it was my friend and colleague Doug Farrar. Exhibit A and Exhibit B; I thank you, amigo. Wilson was on several of my teams (including a pair of championship teams in 2-QB leagues), and it was primarily because of our tireless Seattle scribe. (Sorry to crush the Wilson Discovery Myth out there. And while we're at it, Al Gore didn't invent the Internet, either.)
I could talk about Wilson all day, albeit it's been a story we've been through all season. When I saw his preseason tape against Kansas City, a perfect game, I just about fell out of my chair. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell did a masterful job with Wilson in 2012, letting the rookie get his feet wet before the offense became more complicated and multiple. Wilson also started to run more liberally in the second half, once he had his NFL bearings. There was nothing fluky about that second-half surge.
• Bill Belichick and Mike Shanahan will roll with a feature back if you give them someone talented enough. Stevan Ridley and Alfred Morris fit the bill for 2012. Next assignment for both runners: get more comfortable in the pass-blocking and pass-catching game.
• The list of Christmas Songs I can stomach consistently is a very small one. Christmas In Hollis, the best of all. Christmas Wrapping. Father Christmas. Do They Know It's Christmas? There are a few others. Feliz Navidad is fine so long as it's not in heavy rotation.
• I avoided Dez Bryant all summer, unsure if he really wanted to grow up and commit to being all he could be. So much for that angle. I think you have to rank Calvin Johnson above the entire class of receivers next year, but Bryant is in the debate for the No. 2 spot.
• Heath Miller, underrated fantasy hero. I hated to see his major injury from Week 16.
• Want less flukes in your fantasy league results? Convince your group to start more players next year. It gives you more guys to root for, too.
• Ryan Grant, Garbage Time Hero. Fred and Lamont salute you. Andy Behrens does, too.
• I wouldn't want every league to use Week 17, but I'm glad a few of mine do (especially the best-ball leagues). You want to have something at stake in every week.
• Here's hoping the NFL wakes up and adds a second bye week to every club next season. Nobody should be forced to play a Thursday football game without adequate rest; let's use the second bye week as a pre-Thursday buffer. That would also give us 18 weeks of regular-season football to enjoy, not just 17.
• I don't know what would rank second, but the home field advantage for the Seahawks is far and away the best in pro sports. Unreal atmosphere. No one cares if it rains. This is the one NFL stadium which is worth more than the standard three points in the line.
• Marshawn Lynch didn't have the best fantasy season at his position, but he might have been the most underrated. He scored touchdowns in seven of his last eight games and currently sits at 5.0 YPC. He's a terrific closer as well.
• Arian Foster's season was bailed out by volume and usage; all those carries and goal-line reps kept him in a good place. But he didn't look like the same runner on the tape or on the spreadsheet, and the Texans run blocking was mediocre all season.
• I'd rather watch Tim Tebow fail than watch any other Jets player succeed. We didn't see much of either in 2012.
• Expanding the NFL playoffs to 16 teams would be a monumental error. Don't strip the regular season of its full meaning. Don't turn this into the NBA.
• NFL Rewind is the greatest thing in the history of great things. Short Cuts are pretty great, too, albeit you can't get the coaching tape there. Any room can become your film room in 2012, what a wonderful world.
My Old School
• Matt Schaub needed to steer the Texans offense against Minnesota and he couldn't get it done: 5.6 YPA, 178 yards, 11 crummy first downs. He's probably better than the league-average quarterback, but I'd never put him in the Top 10. If Houston goes far in the playoffs, it will be because of the defense (albeit that defense has slumped in recent weeks). And no matter how the seedings fall, you have to figure Denver and New England will be the top two AFC favorites.
• You get the idea this was Mike Shanahan's most satisfying year, not counting the two titles in Denver. And Kyle Shanahan deserves a bow as well. Griffin and Wilson both had outstanding years with ordinary receiver groups.
• Chris Johnson still hits a home run now and again, but he doesn't look anything like the back we saw a few years ago. He used to have a physical nature to his game; that's been missing for two years. He runs like a back who desperately wants to avoid contact.
• Ryan Mathews, untrustable for life. You too, Darren McFadden.
• It's time for the Eagles to part ways with Andy Reid, but let's appreciate how successful this man was over the body of work. Posting a .586 winning percentage over 14 years is outstanding, and Reid also went to the playoffs nine times. In a reshuffle league, that's a terrific resume. I'm not sure I'd want my team to hire Norv Turner as a head coach or offensive coordinator, but I'd give Reid a contract in a second.
• The Bengals are a solid team in all phases, but I'll be shocked if they beat anyone in the playoffs.
• As important as talent is, the wrong coaching or scheme can submarine or shackle just about anyone. I feel for you, C.J. Spiller. I know your efficiency numbers were off the charts, but it's criminal how underused you were in 2012. The sooner the Bills move on from Chan Gailey, the better.
• Somehow Ryan Lindley threw just one interception in 30 passes against Chicago; roughly 6-8 passes were nearly picked off. Props to Cardinals radio men Dave Pasch and Ron Wolfley: they were sharply critical of Lindley and Beanie Wells during Sunday's call, not sugar coating it for the home team. I'm still not sure what happened to Wells on that end-zone fumble, and he left yards on the table on two other runs.
• If you rank all fantasy quarterbacks in points-per-game from Weeks 6-16, Eli Manning comes in 30th. Think about that for a second. I wonder if the rumored "dead arm" was a problem for most of the second half.
I'm sure a few more nuggets will come to me as the egg nog flows. In the meantime, I wish all of you a safe, happy and healthy holiday season. Be good to one another. We appreciate you.
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