Friday, January 28, 2011

Yes! Chief Fool named Football Writer of the Year!

I don't know how to break this to you, Fools; but the Fantasy Sports Writers Association just named me "Football Writer of the Year." This is the most prestigious award in the fantasy world.

For once, I'm a bit speechless, so I'll let the press release do the talking.


This was such big news, my local papers even caught fantasy fever. Check out the coverage from The Dallas Morning News and the Flower Mound Leader.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Football Writer of the Year?

I'm pleased to report that your humble Chief Fool is one of three finalists for "Football Writer of the Year" honors from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

I figured I'd better crow about it now, before the winner is announced Jan. 25 in Vegas...

I was a finalist for "Best Humor Article" last year, but fell short of the prize. This year, though, I'm up for the Big Kahuna, the Top Dog, the Grande Enchilada!

It's an honor simply to be considered one of the top three writers in the business, so I'm happy just to be in the conversation.

Keep your fingers crossed, fools!

Friday, January 7, 2011

2010 Biro’s Heroes and Zeros Awards

As we are shoved, kicking and screaming, into another interminable fantasy offseason, with the specter of a possible lockout draining us of our will to live (uh, perhaps I’m speaking only for myself here), we have some unfinished business left to wrap up from the season just concluded.

After all, it’s the awards season across this great land of ours, and I can only take so much Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Lady Ga-Gag.

So let’s take a quick stroll back through 2010 to examine the players we rooted for and against and – with as much objectivity as we can muster – give credit where credit is due.

Our annual accolades (and condemnations) have but a few important criteria:

1. Consistency on a weekly basis is next to godliness.
2. Performances during the fantasy playoffs – for our purposes, NFL Weeks 14 through 16 – are given extra weight. Players who let their owners down at the worst possible time earn our eternal scorn. (Hear that, AP?)
3. Week 17 performances are disregarded since most fantasy leagues hold their championship in Week 16, per the wishes of the late, great Don Meredith.
4. As always, I’m open to your feedback on these awards, including those that cause you heartburn. Feel free to email me, and be sure to begin your message with “You’re an idiot because…”

Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 2010 Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards:

Most Valuable Player: Michael Vick. If you disagree with this selection, you either didn’t own him or didn’t play against him. Tom Brady was awesome, particularly down the stretch; but Vick’s rushing exploits made him Top Dog on a week-to-week basis. Runner-up: Brady.

“Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year: Randy Moss. Over the last nine games of the season, the “elite” receiver accumulated a worthless seven receptions for 88 yards and no TDs. He had just four decent games prior to that (two apiece with New England and Minnesota). Brandon Gibson, Louis Murphy and about 60 other wideouts delivered more fantasy value. Runner-up: DeAngelo Williams.

Surprise of the Year: Brandon Lloyd. In his seven previous seasons, with four different teams, Lloyd cracked the Top 40 just once (2005) and consistently ranked outside the Top 80. In 2010, he was the No. 1 receiver in the land. What a country. Runner-up: Stevie Johnson.

Rookie of the Year: Mike Williams. He reached the end zone in a whopping 10 games and was among the most consistent players at any position all season. Tampa Bay’s stellar fourth-round pick ranked among the Top 12 fantasy wideouts by season’s end. Runner-up: LeGarrette Blount.

Comeback Player of the Year: Vick. No one else even comes close. Runner-up: Matt Forte.

Best Waiver Wire Acquisition: Peyton Hillis. This could also go to Vick, but let’s spread the love to the Cleveland workhorse, who scored in all but one of his first dozen games as a Brown. Hillis carried his mediocre team on his back all season, and paid the price when his battered body simply wore down. Runner-up: Vick.

Mr. Big Play: DeSean Jackson. He scored on a 31-yard run, a 65-yard punt return and on receptions of 9, 34, 45, 61, 88 and 91 yards. Since this category was created for him last year, the award will carry his name in 2011. Runner-up: Mike Wallace.

Most Devastating Injury Loss: Ryan Grant. Plenty of candidates here – including Tony Romo, Pierre Thomas, Sidney Rice, Austin Collie, Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley and Dallas Clark – but Grant (a second or third-round fantasy pick) was lost in the opener after gaining just 45 yards. Runner-up: Frank Gore.

Steal of the Draft: Arian Foster. Depending on when you drafted, you could have nabbed the former practice squad player anywhere from the fourth to the 10th round. Either way, you were rewarded with fantasy’s top tailback. Runner-up: Darren McFadden.

Most Overrated Player: Beanie Wells. Would it surprise you to learn that Wells played in all but three games this season? Yet you would have regretted starting the injury- and fumble-prone back in all but two of them. Runner-up: Ronnie Brown.

“Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated Player: Joseph Addai. Jones could arguably rule this category again, but I’m going with Addai, whose injury in Week 6 left the Colts bereft of a rushing threat, particularly from a fantasy perspective. Indy doesn’t run particularly well to begin with; but without Addai, they are pathetic. (Don’t get me started on Donald Brown…) Runner-up: Derrick Mason.

Made Chicken Salad from Chicken Scratch: Hillis. Rising above the muck and mire that is the Cleveland offense, Hillis somehow emerged as an elite performer. None of his teammates – with the occasional exception of Ben Watson – merited a spot on any fantasy roster this season; yet Hillis was in the MVP conversation until the end. Runner-up: Steven Jackson.

Biggest Postseason Disappointment: Adrian Peterson. The Giants stifled him in Week 14 (26 yards), then he was a late and unexpected scratch the following weekend due to ankle and knee injuries. He delivered in Week 16, but that was too little, too late, for too many. Runner-up: Aaron Rodgers.

Too Little Too Late: Ryan Mathews. Over the first 15 injury-plagued weeks of his rookie season, Mathews amassed just 598 yards and two TDs, while Mike Tolbert stole the show. Not exactly what you bargain for from one of your top RBs. In his final two games, a healthy Mathews racked up 222 total yards and four TDs. Gee, thanks, Ryan. Runner-up: Vincent Jackson.

Most Spectacular Bench Performance: McFadden. He deemed himself just “70 percent” recovered from a bum hammy as Week 7 approached, leading us to believe that Michael Bush would carry the load. Instead, Run DMC amassed 196 combined yards and four touchdowns against the Broncos. Runner-up: David Garrard (260 passing yards, 5 combined TDs vs. Dallas, Week 8).

Lived Up to the Hype: Foster. He burst onto the scene out of nowhere during the preseason, but we’ve all seen shooting stars flame out when the games really matter (I’m looking at you, CJ Spiller). Foster never missed a beat. Runner-up: LeSean McCoy.

Most Marginalized by Pathetic QB Play: Larry Fitzgerald. With Kurt Warner under center, Fitz was arguably the best wideout in the land, fantasy and otherwise. This year? Not so much. Runner-up: Carolina’s Steve Smith.

“Frisman Jackson Memorial” Irrational Exuberance Award: David Gettis. Star-crossed fantasy owners flocked to the rookie after his 125-yard, two-touchdown “breakout” performance in Week 7, then realized they bought a big bag of nothing when he returned to obscurity immediately thereafter. Runner-up: Seyi Ajirotutu.

Worst Sophomore Jinx: Shonn Greene. With Thomas Jones banished to KC, and “over-the-hill” LaDainian Tomlinson expected to mentor from the sidelines, Greene was considered a steal in the second or third round. Instead, LT stole his job and Greene was essentially unstartable for his owners all year. Runner-up: Michael Crabtree.

Team Bust of the Year (aka “They Are Who We Thought They Were”): Carolina Panthers. DeAngelo Williams was awful before he landed on injured reserve, and Jonathan Stewart didn’t get rolling until his second chance late in the year. Four quarterbacks combined for a whopping eight passing TDs on the season, only two of which went to the wideout formerly known as Steve Smith. Best I can tell, they don’t even employ a tight end or kicker. What a mess. Runner-up: Arizona Cardinals.

“Plaxico Burress Memorial” Bonehead of the Year: Brett Favre. He had the chance to retire on a high note, but he just had to push it. Favre’s off-field antics proved even more embarrassing than his deteriorating skills. Runner-up: Vincent Jackson.

Most Likely to Succeed in 2011: Jimmy Graham. The former college basketball star posted four touchdowns over the final three weeks of the regular season, emerging as one of Drew Brees’ most reliable red-zone targets. Jeremy Shockey’s clock in New Orleans is ticking. Runner-up: Josh Freeman.

Until next year, I’ll see you at the Fantasy Fools blog. Happy 2011!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Week 17 Heroes & Zeros

This was a terrible week to vie for a championship, but if you had to…

This was a great week to start

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers – Paid off his high draft status a little late, with 120 rushing yards and 3 TDs, and 3 receptions for 19 yards.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans – Seized the NFL rushing title with 180 yards and 2 TDs, plus 2 catches for 10 yards.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers – Ran for 36 yards and 2 TDs, plus a 24-yard catch.
Brian Westbrook, RB, 49ers – Scored twice while running for 79 yards, plus a 14-yard reception.
Michael Bush, RB, Raiders – Rushed for 137 yards and a TD, and caught 4 passes for 34 yards.
Joe McKnight, RB, Jets – Rumbled for 158 rushing yards, and added 2 catches for 15 yards, while LT and Shonn Greene were inactive.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals – Caught 11 passes for 125 yards and a score.
Jerome Simpson, WR, Bengals – Tallied a dozen catches for 123 yards and 1 TD.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots – Caught 6 passes for 102 yards and 1 TD.

Jets defense – Returned 2 of their 4 interceptions for TDs, added 3 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries, and held the Bills to 7 points.

This was a great week to play against

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets – Didn’t throw a pass on his only series.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs – Passed for 115 yards and 2 INTs, without a score.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens – Played all game and only had 125 passing yards and 1 INT to show for it.
Sam Bradford, QB, Rams – Amassed only 155 yards and no scores, plus an INT.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears – Threw 2 INTs without a TD, and just 168 yards.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers – Passed for 313 yards but no TDs, with an INT.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns – Wrapped up the season with a whimper, totaling just 16 yards against Pittsburgh.
Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs – Had 17 rushing yards and lost 2 yards on his only catch.
Ahmad Bradshow, RB, Giants – Totaled 30 yards on the day.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings – Ran for 31 yards and lost 2 yards on 2 receptions.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers – Just 31 rushing yards.
Chris Ivory, RB, Saints – He only had 33 yards.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers – Combined for 35 yards.
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts – Just 44 rushing yards against the Titans.

Johnny Knox, WR, Bears – Posted a goose egg in the finale.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles – Started, but held without a catch.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars – Same for him.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints – Mustered just one 5-yard catch.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens – Concluded a sorry second half of 2010 with 2 receptions for 9 yards.
Devin Hester, WR, Bears – Just one 16-yarder.
Jason Avant, WR, Eagles – Failed to capitalize on his starting opportunity, with a 21-yard reception.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday morning updates - Week 17

Good morning, Fools. I hope you had a safe and enjoyable New Year's, and you're getting ready to settle in for a day of stress-free football. You shouldn’t be playing fantasy this week, unless it’s in something like a Free for All Bowl. That's what one of my leagues does in Week 17: Everyone, including those who sat out the postseason, sets one final lineup. Highest points for the week wins five percent of the pot. It’s a great way to keep hope alive a little longer, and it gives the losers a final shot at redemption.

So, for the crazies whose championships are on the line in Week 17, or the ones playing Free for Alls, here are a few updates to help you set the best final roster.

First, let's figure out which teams have postseason berths on the line and, therefore, something meaningful to play for.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh both have a shot at the AFC North and a first-round bye. Start your Ravens and Steelers with confidence.

The Falcons are vying for the NFC’s top seed, so expect their starters to lay the hurt on the visiting Panthers, who should already have Andrew Luck’s agent on speed dial. The Saints have a shot at the division, but only if the Falcons trip up. Brees & Co. will be trying.

The Rams, Seahawks, Packers, Giants, Colts and Bucs also have playoff berths and/or positioning on the line.

Meanwhile, all bets are off with the Eagles, Chiefs and Jets, who have nothing significant at stake this weekend. The Bears will know by the time they kickoff whether they have anything on the line (doubtful, since both New Orleans and Atlanta would have to lose).

Judging by recent history, it seems safe to assume that the Pats will play to win. I wouldn’t dream of benching Tom Brady or BenJarvus Green-Ellis against the visiting Dolphins, who will be playing out of their elements, literally. The starters may not get a full workload, but they'll be in long enough to rack up the points. (LATE UPDATE: Welker is inactive, along with Branch.)

For the first time in recent memory, Peyton Manning has something to play for in Week 17. Look for another solid performance from the gunslinger and his receivers, as well as good efforts from both Joseph Addai and, yes, Dominic Rhodes.

David Garrard has been placed on injured reserve, after surgery to repair his broken hand. Trent Edwards pulls a delicious start against the Texans secondary. Consider him an intriguing sleeper play with upside.

Meanwhile, look for Rashad Jennings to put up better numbers in Houston than he did in his first start last week. MJD is out again.

The Seahawks may be forced to roll with Charlie Whitehurst at the helm when they meet the Rams for all the NFC West marbles tonight. Matt Hasselbeck will be a game-time call, due to his hip injury. Whitehurst is not a safe play by any measure, and Hasselbeck isn't much better. I like Bradford in that game, though.

Kevin Kolb should post some serious stats against the Cowboys’ sieve-like secondary. With Vick (quad) out, Kolb will use the opportunity to audition for a starting job elsewhere in 2011. You have to like Jerome Harrison and Jason Avant in this one, too.

It’s hard to expect much out of Carson Palmer on the road against the Ravens, but after his masterful performance against the Chargers’ once-solid secondary, perhaps we shouldn’t be so pessimistic. With both TO and Ochocinco out of the picture, Palmer will try again to make stars out of his up-and-coming WR corps. Which one finds the spotlight this week is anyone’s guess. My pick: Jordan Shipley.

Assuming he starts with his tender knee, Ryan Fitzpatrick should be a solid play against a Jets defense that is expected to rest its starters (including Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie) most of the game. (UPDATE: Fitz is out.)

Favre has passed his concussion tests and will be a game-time call, but I hope you're not counting on him.

Michael Bush could offer some upside despite a tough matchup on the road in Kansas City, as Darren McFadden (toe, ankle) will be a game-time call. Even if RunDMC suits up, he would not be expected to get many reps.

Don’t be surprised if rookie Joe McKnight is the Jets’ leading ball-carrier against the Bills. LT will sit this one out, while Shonn Greene may see only a handful of touches, along with the rest of New York’s key starters. McKnight is an intriguing flex play against the toothless Buffalo run defense.

Peyton Hillis (ribs) will be a game-time call but is expected to play against the Steelers; but as in recent weeks, you can’t count on much out of his battered body. Especially against that defense.

Ryan Mathews won’t have to yield goal-line touches to Mike Tolbert (neck), now that the latter is on IR. Darren Sproles will see more action today too, but Mathews is finally, belatedly, an excellent fantasy start.

Meanwhile, the Chargers should get Malcom Floyd (hamstring) and Legedu Naanee back in the starting lineup against the Broncos, who will probably be missing star CB Champ Bailey. You have to think Rivers & Company will want to wrap up their awful season by making a statement against their division rivals. Consider Rivers, Floyd and Vincent Jackson prime plays. Antonio Gates has been placed on IR.

Derek Hagan will replace Hakeem Nicks (toe) in the starting lineup in the Giants’ must-win contest at Washington. Mario Manningham is an excellent fantasy play, while Hagan should only be deployed by compulsive risk-takers.

Calvin Johnson (ankle) will be a game-time call.

Sidney Rice won’t be suiting up due to a concussion. Bernard Berrian probably will join him on the sidelines thanks to a quad injury.

Consider Jacoby Jones a solid sleeper option again, with Andre Johnson out due to a bum ankle.

Larry Fitzgerald suffered a concussion at the end of the Christmas night game against Dallas. Though his status for today's game has not been released, I can’t imagine the Cardinals risking their only superstar’s health in a meaningless finale.

Chris Ivory (hamstring) could return to action, but I like Pierre Thomas’ odds better against Tampa Bay’s weak run defense. Thomas tweaked his ankle in practice this week, but is expected to play. (UPDATE: Pierre is out.)

Marques Colston almost certainly won’t play after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee earlier this week. Robert Meachem and Lance Moore are in a great position to deliver in Colston’s absence, along with talented rookie TE Jimmy Graham.

That's it for now. Follow my tweets for what is sure to be a long list of inactives. Good luck to those with something on the line.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Nominations now open for year-end awards

Next week I will publish my year-end "Biro's Heroes & Zeros Awards" column. Your nominations are welcome for the following categories:

The “Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year
Surprise of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Comeback Player of the Year
Best Waiver Wire Acquisition
Most Devastating Injury Loss
Steal of the Draft
Most Overrated
The “Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated Player
Most Spectacular Bench Performance
Biggest Postseason Disappointment
Worst Sophomore Jinx
“Plaxico Burress Memorial” Bonehead of the Year
Most Likely to Succeed in 2011

There will be other categories as well (feel free to suggest one). I look forward to reading your input.