I love Fantasy Football.
It increases your knowledge of the game, it forces you to be more invested in the sport and it gives you an excuse to watch the fourth quarter of a horrible blowout game. Hey, garbage yards still count.
I also hate Fantasy Football.
It highlights how little you know about football, it reminds you how luck and health are more important than talent, and it has an evil way of forcing you to root against your favourite team. More on this final point in a moment.
|Cauz vs. Canada|
So when I agreed to take part in 'Cauz vs. Canada' I thought it would be a fun way to add a fantasy element to the website while getting to know some passionate CFL fans in the process. It would allow me to learn more about some obscure skill players all the while getting to poke fun at my competitors via twitter. What could go wrong?
One of the biggest rules about fantasy is you don't get cute with your picks. Don't make the hipster pick of choosing the second best wide receiver for the Blue Bombers just because they had a good game two weeks ago and have a solid college pedigree, when Fred Stamps is just waiting to get picked.
Don't be the hero and take whatever quarterback Montreal is trotting out when Mr. Dependable, Henry Burris, is practically begging you to take him and his 300 yards and two touchdowns.
Well I have broken those rules so many times this year. The reason I am writing this column (really this is more of an angry manifesto) is because I am in the middle of a horrible four game losing streak all because I decided to put on my fantasy cape, be a hero all the while forcing me to root against my favourite team.
Let me explain.
So there I was last Saturday rooting against my favourite team (Toronto) because I decided to go with the hipster/hero pick (Will Ford) over the safe play (Kory Sheets). Am I an idiot? Of course I am.
But is there at lest some rationale behind this pick? A tiny bit. Remember Toronto was second to last in rush defence, while Sheet's opponent, the Lions are third in rush yards allowed. Factor in that over the past two weeks Ford had rushing for a combined 253 yards and I thought it was a clever pick.
Also I'll be honest I needed to break free from the running back combo of Jon Cornish and Sheets. I needed something different, I needed to break free from those picks; I needed someone to give me a shake. If I just gone with the safe pick I would have beaten @AllKindsOfClay, I would have stopped my losing streak and would be back in the warm confines of .500.
Instead my emotions were in a juxtaposition between rooting for a Toronto win while wanting Ford to rip off a 50-yard touchdown run. We have all been there before and I can tell you it stinks.
Speaking of things that stink I have two weeks left to somehow even my record at .500. I would ask you all good readers to root for me to hit this mediocre record but from what I have learned on Twitter most of you are rooting for the weekly candidate and not your friendly neighbourhood Toronto Argonaut fan/CFL writer.
I can’t believe Canada would root against a wine sipping Torontonian who doesn’t know how to edit himself. Odd.
As a result of playing fantasy football I would like to share what I have learned about the 2013 season.
1) When in doubt just take Cornish or Sheets. The gap between those two running backs is slim; the gap between them and the rest of the league is about as large as Kanye West’s ego. The next best player statically is Andrew Harris who trails Sheets by a staggering 736 yards.
2) Sometimes, receivers don't need elite talent getting them the ball to put up big numbers. Fred Stamps is set to register career highs in receiving yards while putting up six 100+ yard games and out-pacing every other pass-catcher in the league. He has done this with Mike Reilly, Jonathan Crompton and Kerry Joseph all playing quarterback.
Is there a strong whiff of garbage yards? You bet there is but considering who has been under centre I’m going to look the other way and just celebrate the season Stamps is having.
3) If you don't know which defence to take, just check to see which team is playing Winnipeg and take them. Let's face it the Blue Bombers have been a mess all year on offence. From a revolving door of quarterbacks and injuries, no team boosts the collective confidence of an opposing team's defence quite like Winnipeg.
Poor Terrence Edwards, we need to start a campaign to find him a quarterback. If Bob Barker could force some elephants from the Toronto Zoo to California, then we can surely find a way to get a quarterback who can maximize Edwards' skills.
4) On the flip side I found Hamilton's defence was a safe bet early in the season if you were hoping for a rebound game from whatever receiver you were looking at starting. The Argonauts defence has supplemented this role and don't sleep on the porous prowess of the Eskimo's defence especially with JC Sherritt out for the season.
5) If you can help it, try and avoid the Tiger-Cats receivers, you never know who is going to the star. Their leading receiver Bakari Grant has only one 100+ yard game and has seven games with under 60 yards receiving. It seems that rookie Greg Ellingson either has a big game or you don't even notice him on the field and I have given up trying to figure out when Andy Fantuz is going to have one of his monster games.
6) Speaking of Hamilton, the safest non-Cornish/Sheets player is Henry Burris and it isn't even close. With every other starter either being nicked up, benched or suffering season (and possibly career) ending injuries, Burris has been as sure as it gets. Yes, he'll toss up the occasional interception but you know he is going to start every week and there is a very good chance he'll have a big day. In 2013 that is all you can really ask for.
7) Fantasy-wise, Calgary is having a strange year. They lead the league in scoring and net offensive yards yet I have no idea who to take beyond Cornish. Will Calgary start Kevin Glenn? Probably, but I can't guarantee it. Who is going to be the #1 wide out now that Nik Lewis is done? I have no idea. Be honest, do you really look at Marquay McDaniel as a “no doubt this guy is going to produce every week” sort of player? I know I don't.
8) Here is how bad it has gotten in Vancouver. I rarely even look their way when deciding who to take, and that was BEFORE Lulay got injured. Just a disappointing season all around. I have more faith in Roberto Luongo’s mindset than I do in the Lions' skill players.
9) This is not a knock on the Roughriders passing attack but I just can't trust their receivers. It's not that they don't have talent, far from it, but must like Hamilton I feel like I'm in the middle of a rigged game of Craps trying to decide who will step up.
That's great for Saskatchewan and Darian Durant but it's lousy for us in fantasy land. Speaking of passing numbers I would be remiss if I didn't congratulate Durant on hitting the 30 touchdown barrier for the first time in his career while cutting down on his interception rate.
With so many quarterback storylines focusing on either young guys stepping or which quarterback has been knocked out I feel that Durant's season has flown under the radar.
10) The last thing that I have learned, don't listen to a word I have said. I haven't won in a month and I need a minor miracle to finish with an "average" season.
God I hate "Cauz vs. Canada", I spend way too much time deciding who to take (not that my record would reflect that) and my level of rage this week is far higher than it should be. I sure hope we can do this next year!
Matthew Cauz is the Weekend Host for 'GAME DAY' on TSN 1050 Radio. Previously, he was a producer and football analyst for SUN TV where he appeared regularly on the “Casino Rama Grill Room” and he spent seven years working for TSN's “Off The Record”. Follow Matthew on Twitter @mcauz56.