This article is part of our East Coast Offense series.
Don't Take Work Home
When we all used to work in offices – or other work-specific sites – there was theoretically some separation between our work and home lives. Work occurred in a prescribed place, and your home was separate from it. With the arrival of the internet, that line became increasingly blurred for a large segment of the population, and people found themselves answering emails at all hours and catching up on projects over weekends. This was especially the case if you worked in sports, where your services were most in demand when other people were off work, and if what used to be one of your prime leisure activities, watching and betting on sports, was now your actual job.
I'm not complaining – being forced to watch football is better than being forced to break rocks, or the mental equivalent that constitutes so many jobs – but it's a fact there's often little separation between work and home if you're in fantasy sports, particularly if like me you work remotely, and your office is located inside your home. It reminds me of the 1979 horror movie "When A Stranger Calls." Spoiler: "The call is coming from inside the house!"
But as my legitimate hopes of winning a minimum of $3,200 in the NFFC Primetime with a 50/50 chance at $7,000 and a small chance at the $200K grand prize evaporated Sunday, I had a choice to make: Agonize over the mistakes I made (as well as not being able to change my lineup 10 minutes before lock three weeks ago due to internet congestion that cost me 19 points), or shut off the TV, walk down the hall past my sleeping eight-year old daughter, spend half an hour watching whatever TV show Heather had on in the background while she worked and pet our five-month old dachshund who was sleeping on the sofa. I chose the latter. While I've had moments of enraged regret and anguish, I've mostly succeeded in separating life and work so far this week. So what if I had a work-related setback, something that didn't go my way?
This might sound like an obvious and trivially easy decision for some of you – after all, I'm not broke, and the money wasn't from life changing – but for someone like me, someone who can stew over an injustice, a gripe or an unforced error for months, to stem the flow is an engineering feat akin to constructing the Hoover Dam. But it comes down to the work/home separation, even more urgent in the midst of pandemic where so much of our social and work lives have become entangled on social media. So that's it. I'm done with it. I lost, and the story, reasons, regrets, would have/could have/should haves don't matter.
It reminds me of the time in 1997, when I was talking to a friend on the phone on a Tuesday morning, and I remarked of the Monday night Jaguars-Steelers game, "I told you Jaguars minus three was easy money." And he replied, "Dude, did you see what happened?" I hadn't actually, only knew the Jaguars had won by nine. As compelling as it might be to re-live yesterday's possibilities, the actual results, no matter how fortuitous, arbitrary or unjust, are now certain and irreversible. They are the truth.
Week 14 Sporcle Quiz
Apropos of Alex Smith knocking off the 11-0 Steelers, can you name all the quarterbacks who knocked off teams that were 11-0 or better?
Guessing The Lines
|Game||My Line||Guessed Line||Actual Line||ML-AL||O/U||Actual O/U||MO-AO|
|Patriots at Rams||2.5||4.5||6||-3.5||43||44.5||-1.5|
|Vikings at Buccaneers||7.5||6||6.5||1||55||52.5||2.5|
|Cardinals at Giants||4||2.5||-2.5||6.5||45||45||0|
|Chiefs at Dolphins||-6.5||-5.5||-7.5||1||51||49||2|
|Titans at Jaguars||-5.5||-4||-7.5||2||53||53.5||-0.5|
|Cowboys at Bengals||-6||-3.5||-3.5||-2.5||46||43||3|
|Texans at Bears||4||2.5||-2.5||6.5||47||45.5||1.5|
|Broncos at Panthers||3.5||3||3.5||0||47||47||0|
|Jets at Seahawks||13.5||14||13.5||0||52||47||5|
|Colts at Raiders||0||-2.5||-2.5||2.5||48||51||-3|
|Football Team at 49ers||3.5||3||4.5||-1||44||43.5||0.5|
|Saints at Eagles||-6.5||-7||-7||0.5||46||45||1|
|Falcons at Chargers||0||-2.5||-2.5||2.5||55||50||5|
|Packers at Lions||-6||-6.5||-7.5||1.5||52||55||-3|
|Steelers at Bills||3.5||3||-1.5||5||52||47.5||4.5|
|Ravens at Browns||3||3||-1||4||53||45.5||7.5|
Wow, I'm far apart on some of these lines. I guess I'm on the Bears, Patriots, Giants, Bills and Browns by fair margins. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind in Beating the Book.
Week 13 Observations
- The Chiefs-Broncos was a comedy of errors. Why was Vic Fangio constantly punting back to Patrick Mahomes on 4th-and-short between the 40s? It took 30 seconds and two plays for the Chiefs to move the ball to the spots from which Denver punted nearly every time. The worst was the punt on 4th-and-3 at the end of the game. The Broncos got the ball back down six with a minute left and no timeouts, and even that was fortunate. The other hilarious folly was Tyreek Hill bobbling and accidentally catching a long TD that was called incomplete, which Andy Reid neglected to challenge. As much as I got screwed the last few weeks by my QBs, imagine the Hill owners, being cheated out of that TD and then having another called back on a holding penalty later in the game.
- Melvin Gordon looks terrible for long stretches, and he fumbles too often. But last night, he was great, breaking tackles and bulldozing Chiefs for extra yards. It's hard to evaluate him.
- I started Clyde Edwards-Helaire in two leagues. Both were dead anyway, but it's the kick in the nuts on the way out the door. Le'Veon Bell (11-40-0, 3-2-15) didn't seem to have much spring in his step, either.
- The Patriots-Chargers game suggests head coaching is an important factor in NFL games.
- In 11 games, Cam Newton has five TD passes and 11 TD runs.
- I hope the Patriots make the playoffs just to see how far Bill Belichick can take this bunch of scrubs.
- Did I mention I was going against the Patriots' defense? FFS, was it really necessary to have a blocked field goal TD in addition to a kick return TD and a shutout?
- Davante Adams could have 20 TDs in a full season if Aaron Rodgers throws him the ball every time they get inside the five. No one in the league gets more valuable usage. Adams also has yet to drop a pass this year, a big part of why he's averaging a career-high 9.2 YPT after never surpassing 8.2 in his career. The yards-per-catch is right in line with career averages, but the catch rate (84-for-111, 76%) is through the roof. I've said he was more of a top-15 real life receiver in the past, but this year, I'll concede he's been top-five and undoubtedly the top fantasy wideout, even with the injuries.
- Jalen Hurts looked liked Deshaun Watson to Carson Wentz' Tom Savage. It would be positively barbaric if Doug Pederson sticks with Wentz in Week 14. And Hurts might have led the Eagles all the way back if Travis Fulgham (remember him?) doesn't drop a perfect throw at the 13 yard line. And they definitely would have covered.
- Imagine getting Edwards-Helaire and Miles Sanders in a PPR auction this preseason and thinking you crushed it.
- I mention this every week, but Dave Gettleman sure did a nice job signing James Bradberry (who stayed with DK Metcalf most of the game) and franchise Leonard Williams (who's playing at a Pro Bowl level.) And the Giants defense has been good, despite losing last year's first rounder DeAndre Baker to a fake-armed-robbery-extortion scheme and this year's second-round pick Xavier McKinney (foot) until last week. Even the deservedly-maligned offensive line has played much better of late.
- Russell Wilson over Colt McCoy was less important apparently than the offensive and defensive lines of the Giants dominating those of the Seahawks. Wayne Gallman (16-135-0) and Alfred Morris (8-39-1, 1-1-6-1) were the beneficiaries, but Saquon Barkley would have absolutely smashed had he been healthy. While NLM GMs – or perhaps NLGMs – are mortgaging their futures for the QB prospect du jour that has maybe a 20 percent chance of being worth a second contract, and a 60 percent chance of sinking your franchise for three-plus years, I like the idea of building dominant offensive and defensive lines and getting a generational bulldozer like Derrick Henry or a power-speed pass catcher like Barkley.
- Evan Engram struck again, having a ball go off his fingertips that resulted in an interception. What's it going to take before they stop force-feeding him?
- Russell Wilson's pace has slowed down considerably now that he's getting pressured and sacked so often. He always gives the Seahawks a puncher's chance, but they're a weak team other than him and Metcalf.
- The announcers in the Giants game were brutal. It was like they absorbed some pre-game talking points and were determined to jam anything they saw into that narrative. And they did it with the energy of Scott Hanson had he face-planted into a Scarface mound of cocaine. If I didn't know better I'd have thought Jamal Adams were the greatest defensive player of all time – after all he ran down a sluggish Gallman (60 yards into his run) and missed a tackle – and that Metcalf had shoved Bradberry into another dimension (in fact Bradberry absorbed the straight-arm and dragged Metcalf to the ground without further gain.)
- I didn't watch much of the Rams-Cardinals, but it seemed like Kyler Murray was all over the place and not in a good way.
- T.Y. Hilton's (11-8-110-1) corpse could go for 100 and a touchdown against the Texans. Jonathan Taylor (13-91-0, 3-3-44-1) was clearly the team's best back, made several nice cuts and showed his speed. Maybe he's picking it up yet.
- I still can't believe the Texans fumbled a snap on second-and-goal from the two down six with 90 seconds left.
- The Jets all-out blitzed up four with five seconds left to give Henry Ruggs one-on-one coverage on the sideline. The Raiders still had to execute the throw and catch, but it was as close to flat-out tanking, a close cousin of point-shaving, as you'll see in the NFL. Thank God the cover was in hand, or we'd have to demand an investigation. I hope Trevor Lawrence pulls a John Elway/Eli Manning and refuses to play for them.
- The Jets defensive game plan neglected Darren Waller (17-13-200-2), and who knew their backup running backs, Ty Johnson (22-104-1, 2-2-13) and Josh Adams (8-74-0), might be useful, blocked as they were behind superstar 37-year old Frank Gore (who left with a concussion.)
- I didn't watch much of Minnesota-Jacksonville, but the Jaguars deserve Trevor Lawrence after perfecting the cover-and-lose value-add so often of late.
- TV Advertising is so insulting. It would be better if they just paused the game every so often to tell you what a worthless moron you were. And instead of the network halftime shows, someone's dog could swing by and defecate on your lawn.
- Mercifully I didn't see much of the Dolphins-Bengals, though Hanson seemed very excited about the beefs and ejections after the real Michael Thomas drilled kick returner Jakeem Grant. Much respect to Brian Flores for trying to join the fray. In cases like this, fans should be able to push a button on their screens, and if enough vote for it, the head coaches would be forced into an MMA match at midfield, the winner of which gets 10 points for his team. What could go wrong?
- Did I mention I sat Mayfield for Trubisky? I made the decision Friday night after seeing the implied point totals for both teams as roughly the same and thinking the Browns were more likely to score on the ground with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. I also figured Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney were more likely to score from long distance than the Browns receivers. That said, I actually tried to panic-switch Mayfield back into the lineup at 1 pm ET, but kind of knew it might be too late and was actually relieved it was because you never make a rash, last-second change. But I was getting a worse and worse vibe about it as lineup lock drew nearer, and had I been 30 seconds earlier, the change might have taken.
- Mayfield had four TDs and 300 yards in the first half, and they were trying to get him a fifth before settling for a Nick Chubb TD toward the end of the second quarter. Trubisky, on the other hand, wasn't terrible, but David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson broke multiple tackles on TD runs from outside the four.
- As a Chubb (18-80-1, 1-1-26) owner, it gets pretty annoying to see Kareem Hunt (whom they extended this year) on the field so often near the goal line. Hunt has useful skills, but Chubb is a top-two early-down and short-yardage runner.
- Corey Davis (12-11-182-1) is showing why he was the fifth overall pick in 2017. AJ Brown is a monster, but he's had trouble with drops and fumbles.
- The Browns have a good offensive line, but I've never seen an opposing pass rush get less pressure. Mayfield had years to throw.
- The Bears were up 30-20 with two and a half minutes left and somehow blew this game to a Lions team without Kenny Golladay.
- Adrian Peterson has four TDs the last two games. He's better than Gore at least.
- Alvin Kamara (15-88-1, 3-2-9-0) had some big runs, but still was barely used in the passing game. The other Michael Thomas (11-9-105) had his typical high-catch-rate-with-a-long-catch-of-18-yards game.
- I can't remember what happened exactly, but it seemed like the Falcons would cover the three-point spread, and then they turned it over on downs. It would be cool if teams kicked the senseless field goal to cover once in a while instead of going for a win that will only move them down in 2021draft for no good reason.
- josh Allen looked like Patrick Mahomes – everything so smooth and easy. Every third-down conversion, every fourth-down one, except on the first drive. He finished with 374 yards, four TD passes, no picks, one sack and 9.4 YPA. Smooth, poised, accurate. That version of Allen can win a Super Bowl.
- Zach Moss fumbled, so Devin Singletary (18-61-0, 4-3-22-0) got all the work. He strikes me as just a guy.
- Cole Beasley (11-9-130-1) is better than I realized when he was in Dallas. And Stefon Diggs (11-10-92-0) keeps stacking stats.
- Brandon Aiyuk (9-5-95-1) and Deebo Samuel (9-6-73-0) are both good. Aiyuk is shifty, fast and elusive, and Samuel is a monster after the catch. When they get George Kittle and a real QB back, look out. Unfortunately, they're a long shot for the playoffs after that loss.
- The Bills probably would have won anyway – it was so easy for their offense – but the roughing-the-passer call on 3rd-and-18 was really bad. I didn't see the foul – I was watching the condensed version of the game – but fine players, electric shock them midweek or do whatever you have to in order to deter those fouls without making it an automatic first down. The other issue with it is a personal foul on 1st-and-10 from the 20 is just 1st-and-10 at the 35, no big deal. But a personal foul on 3rd-and-18 at the opponent's 35 is nearly as bad as a turnover. It has way too big an impact on the game.
- The Bills also got screwed on a huge fake DPI call from the 49ers goal line, that fueled San Francisco's first drive, so it was probably about equal. And in any event, the Bills were far and away the better team.
- Alex Smith seemed like a guy who brought a knife to a nuclear war, down 14-0 and checking it down every play, but he made a few big throws to Cam Sims and Logan Thomas against a tough defense. It's crazy that of all the people who would take down the 11-0 team, it's the third-string QB who I assumed was on the roster for inspirational rather than real-life football purposes. Smith is no longer the feel-good story for non-football fans: He's the quarterback of the team tied for first place in its (albeit terrible) division that just took down the 11-0 Steelers on the road.
- J.D. McKissic (5-8-0, 10-10-70-0) was getting some of the easiest fantasy points I can remember in the third quarter. It was Alvin Kamara-esque.
- What a blow for Antonio Gibson (knee) owners who needed a decent game to make the playoffs.
- Ben Roethlisberger looked good to me – he was accurate and poised in the pocket, despite the low per-play output. But the Steelers needed to run the ball in the second half, and they got totally one-dimensional. There's no need for the added degree of difficulty of completing a four-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster when a zero-risk handoff to a back should accomplish the same thing.
- Eric Ebron is the Evan Engram of the AFC – an elite athlete who cannot get through a game without a gaffe or a drop.