Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Creeper Report: Fantasy Football Week 13 - Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Thanksgiving, Creeper fans, Vultureheads and fools who just wandered in here from the World Wide Wasteland.

And because of Thanksgiving, this is going to be a more concise but more focussed version of my weekly fantasy football goofballery. I have a turkey to brine and a busier than usual work week ahead of me. I can usually park myself in the office and spend a couple wandering hours on this thing. Not this week. You get one hour. Boom.

Please take the time to investigate Kathe Frahm's "Seattle Seahawks and Old Women" series here at Eighty Six the Poet. No one, guaranteed, delivers a post-game wrap like she does. Way back when we actually wrote up restaurant checks with pencils, Kathe and I tended bar together. She was the salty veteran and I was the peachy youngster. To understate, I learned a lot. Now she lives with a wild collection of well experienced people who are not as prim and proper watching football as your grandma might be.

Just read them. I'm so happy to have her as a guest writer.

But we're here to prep our fantasy teams, right? It's Week 12, so you're in one of the three following situations:

1. Playoffs Clinched

Congratulations. Your season is successful. Maybe you make some money, too, but getting this far is a win. Victory in the playoffs is somewhat random, so bask in a little glory now.

In Nate's league, I'm clinched. But he has a 3 week playoff with two teams on a bye, so I have no time to coast. A bye means one less chance to lose by bad luck, so I'm taking one if I can.

If you're in, look past the next two weeks. They mean nothing to you. Make no personnel moves based on your Week 13 and 14 match-ups unless you have a potential bye situation like me.

Look at the first week of the playoffs and plan for that. Especially look at defensive match-ups. Make your moves before your opponents do. Week 15 the Chiefs host the Raiders.

2. Fighting for a Spot

You've been fighting all year, so don't change much. No need to go crazy and hit home runs with high risk/high reward players. Continue to use the most reliable guys.

Yet don't be afraid to dump Montee Ball or Cordarrelle Patterson now. They ain't done nothing for you yet, so if you need to clear space to grab Dan Herron or Martavis Bryant, drop them.

And play your hunches. Not your crazy hunches. Just the regular ones. Don't sit all off-season regretting that you played it safe. Go down swinging. If you think Tim Wright catches another score or two in a shoot-out with Green Bay, play him.

3. You're Out

Never forget that you owe it to the rest of the league to try and win. Someone is fighting for a playoff spot against your opponent. Don't make it easy. Make roster moves and put up your best players.

Besides, soon enough you'll not be playing fantasy football for a while. Consider it a one week season. Go 1-0 this week. It's more fun than fizzling out.

Looking to Thanksgiving's Games

Bears at Lions

When they're done scrubbing "Bills" out of the end-zones, this will be a classic NFC North matchup. The 5-6 Bears still have a chance and the 7-4 Lions are dueling with the Packers for the division title. Expect a show-on-turf. Your big names will put up numbers: Cutler, Marshall, Jeffery, Forte, Bennett and Stafford, Megatron, Tate. Alshon in particular wants me to regret trading him and Denard Robinson for Antonio Brown. I'm sure that's all he's thinking of.

You're playing Calvin Johnson of course and you'll be happy to. He's frustrated after what the Patriots did to him and he'll go off.

I don't trust Reggie Bush. He's Questionable and could disappear at any time. I hope you have better options than Joique Bell. This is going to be an air show, but he'll pick up a few dozen yards running and catching.

I don't like either defense here.

Eagles at Cowboys

The Eagles are ranked #30 against the pass. That's the most telling stat. Philly has started slow but been a great second half team. This will be another air show. Dallas gets up early and Philadelphia plays catch-up. Mark Sanchez gets an equal number of touchdowns and turnovers on the way to a double-digit loss.

McCoy and Maclin are startable, but the rest are unreliable. Terrance Williams I'd play in deep leagues. Murray, Bryant, Witten and Romo, of course.

As for defense? The Eagles have scored a D/ST touchdown in almost every game this year. You almost have to. Sanchez should account for enough turnovers and sacks to warrant use of Dallas' D, but I'd rather have St. Louis versus Oakland, NYG versus Jacksonville, Miami versus NYJ, Cincinnati versus Tampa Bay or Indianapolis versus Washington.

I guess I just covered the defenses segment. Moving on.

Seattle at San Francisco

This is going to be the lowest scoring game of the day. No more than 40 combined. First team to 20 wins. Nasty, chippy, emotional divisional battle between two teams fighting for the same playoff spot. Cannot fudging wait.

But not high scoring for anyone. Both Lynch and Gore finish under 100 with a chance of touchdown. Wilson and Kaepernick run for 50 or so each and throw for about 200 with one or two scores each.

Receivers? Best bets are Boldin and Baldwin, although I wouldn't be surprised to see neither crack 10 points.

My crazy prediction? Cooper Helfet outscores Vernon Davis. Highway to Helfet.

To conclude: Seattle wins by 7 or less. In crunch time, Russell Wilson executes a game winning drive. Colin Kaepernick turns the ball over twice in the fourth quarter and fails to win the game when he has the chance.

Jim Harbaugh coaches the Raiders next year and is broadcasting in 2017.

Jonas Gray

I wrote nothing about Jonas Gray last week and I'm disappointed in myself. I never said pick him up and start him, although I tried to grab him.

I don't trust Belichick's running backs. Never have and do less this week. I just wish I'd have put it in print last week so I could look wise when he went from 200 and 4 to zero snaps while the ex-Steeler LaGarrette Blount walks off the street and gets 2 touchdowns.

Won't touch them. Not one of them.

Your Haiku

It's totally your turn. Right now, my wife wants me to go upstairs and crack some dungeness crab for her and the kids. I don't do that for just anyone. I must really like you if I'm cracking the crab for you to eat.

So write me a football haiku. Represent the 5-7-5. Most certainly getting shared next week. Did you ever dream of being read in The Creeper Report?

Me neither, but here I am.

Good luck and happy creepings.

Seattle Seahawks and Old Women: Pluck the Cardinals

Contributed by Kathe Frahm

The old woman who always brings the Mickey Mouse doll and blanket wasn't at the home for the Chiefs game. There were only two old women in the rec room for that game. Naturally it was her fault that their boys lost.

She was here for the Cardinals game with Mickey and somewhat edible muffins. Old women are tough critics.

From the first kick-off, the old women buzzed about a different attitude they were seeing. Their Seattle Seahawks were already having fun. When Steve Hauschka got on the board with a field goal, the old women relaxed a bit. For a while some of them were saying that the Hawks would just field goal the Cardinals to death. That seemed to be OK. This way they would see a lot more of Steve.

Russell Wilson made the old women proud. Comments about him being so cute and sneaky topped the conversation. They screamed when he got sacked... every time. But when he rolled right or left and took off running “Run Russell, Run” must have been heard all over the home. Into the game it looked like the Cardinal replacement QB Drew Stanton was taking lessons from Russell: taking off with the ball and sliding to keep from getting hurt.

It did come up that Carson Palmer had just signed a new contract for 50 million and then soon after ended his season with a torn ACL. Well, at least the old women thought his 20.5 million guarantee would probably help him get by while he was off work.

A big worry for the old women was Marshawn Lynch. After all these months of watching him bulldog right into the front line defense, they knew he would probably get hurt. And he did. He even took some time off the field to get some rest for his back. The good news was that he did continue to play and run up some more rushing yards.

The old women were happy to see some favorites back in the game after injuries: safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker Bobby Wagner.

It seemed that with all of these boys back, the Cardinals could not win. The old women couldn't explain the 'legion of boom' but they thought they saw it working. When Cooper Helfet picked up Cardinal Rob Houlser and threw him, it gave the spark the Hawks needed and the ball. The only TD was made by Cooper with a 20 yard catch and run to the end-zone.

There is nothing that can make old women a part of a home Seahawks game like the sheer volume of the 12th man. Little gray-haired old women in their Hawks t-shirts, blue and green earrings, home-made junk food, yelled as loud as they could and chanted along with the Hawk chant.

It mattered that their boys won against the 9-1 Cardinals

But what meant more, was that the old women shared the excitement of winners. In their lives, they haven't always won. Some hardly at all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Creeper Report: Fantasy Football Week 12

Is it metaphorical that all my Creepers teams feel just like the Seattle Seahawks right now? All four squads are performing just well enough to stay above .500 and remain in the playoff picture, but if we don't do something serious we'll be watching the post-season.

A brutal weekend. My only win was a whimpering 79-74 in Andy's league. Fortunately, that's my biggest money league and the one in which I most needed a win. I snuck back into 4th place, at least.

In Nate's league, I ran into the two-bladed buzz saw of LeVeon Bell and Jamaal Charles. 108 isn't a bad score, unless the other guy has 161.

In all 4 leagues, Brandon McManus kicked me one whole extra point. Is that what you'd expect from Denver's offense? More on that later.

So if you're on the ropes and in the same boat as me, to mix boxing and sailing metaphors, then it's time to get going. Make bold moves. Be fearless. If you're going down the drain, make sure you splash the whole way.

And on top of that, don't do anything stupid you'll regret all winter, spring and summer. You probably can't take both pieces of advice at the same time, but that's how guys like me ensure they're not completely wrong all the time.

It's time to confuse you more specifically and less generally. Here come ten things about and not about fantasy football:

#1 Will the Seattle Seahawks Evolve Already?

Last year they got away with playing base defense, running predictably and passing conservatively. This year, they're taking fewer risks and not surprising anyone. The league had the whole off-season to figure them out and it did.

I just said something about going down the drain and splashing for dear life the whole way. Seattle is circling quietly with the occasional mumble about Percy or Marshawn or injuries.

What it really looks like to me? Seattle is a group of Neanderthals and the rest of the league are Homo Sapiens. (Or to paraphrase Beck: in a league of chimpanzees, they are monkeys.) While the Seahawks are rubbing the same poop on the walls of their cave and wondering why it's not a different color, other teams are building fires and chipping stones into spearheads.

The Sea-Pterodactyls need to evolve or die. To be more literal and less figurative, their defense needs to be more like Tennessee's. No more expecting four linemen to pressure the quarterback. In a valiant losing effort, the Titans were sending crazy stuff at Ben Roethlisberger.

One play they'd rush seven and the next they'd cover with eight. Blitzes would come from all angles or they wouldn't. For most of the game, the Steelers offense was off balance. And they were doing it with a no-name defensive backfield.

Would it kill the Seahawks to trust the Legion of Boom to cover some guys for four seconds while some linebackers blitz? Or is Ray Horton so much smarter than Dan Quinn?

Russell Wilson is ranked #26 among NFL quarterbacks in air yards per attempt. That is: how far his passes travel before reaching the intended target. He's not throwing the ball downfield. Defenses know it. They're crowding the line to prevent yards after catch and stop the run.

Last year he ranked #3.

Speedy rookie Paul Richardson's longest catch of the year is 11 yards.

The playoffs start now. The 7-3 Eagles and Cowboys plus the 6-4 49ers stand between us and a wildcard spot. Losing is not an option. Beating the Cardinals twice could actually win us the division. We know home-field advantage is yummy.

It can be done. The Seahawks just have to stop playing caveman ball.

#2 One Extra Point for Denver's Kicker?

The Rams might not like going to the playoffs any more, but they sure like to spoil it for other people. All of a sudden, the Broncos look like a wildcard team and the Chiefs look like division champs.

Denver is losing weapons everywhere and their offensive line looked shaky. They gave up 2 sacks and let Manning get pressured all day. He looks human when you get players in his face.

But he'll adapt. If Julius Thomas can't play, get yourself some Jacob Tamme. I also like Andre Caldwell and Cody Latimer if Emmanuel Sanders doesn't pass his concussion protocol.

But 1 point from McManus? I don't think much about kickers, but I figure the kicker for a potent offense should be a good call. If I was brilliant at this, I'd look for good offenses with bad red zone production against bend-but-don't-break defenses.

Montee Ball isn't healthy yet, so I've got to trust CJ Anderson to be the guy. But 9 carries for 29 yards? You don't like Denver backs just because they run. He also caught 8 for 86 and you know that's a lucky number.

No freaking out. Peyton without hideous pressure will make average receivers look good and make covered guys seem open.

Miami's coming to town and, although they have a good pass rush, things should be okay in the thin air for Denver.

#3 Defenses I Like

I like Miami, in general, but not against Denver.

I like Green Bay against anyone right now. Certainly Minnesota outdoors.

Buffalo against the Jets. Just picking on them.

Colts against the Jaguars and Cowboys against the Giants. Throw five picks, I'll pick on you next week.

Mostly obvious opponents, but that's the way I play it. It works at least half the time.

If you are feeling gutsy, roll with the Rams against the Chargers. They did it to Manning. They can do it to Rivers.

#4 What the Hell, Comcast?

I had the most curious experience watching the Bills versus Dolphins. As usual, I recorded it and started to watch about an hour late. I hate commercials and will only watch halftime if I feel like it.

The pre-game was normal but then the play-by-play was completely in Spanish. Not uncool. I was curious to hear what they translated and what they didn't. Team names they did not. No one called Miami "Los Delfines". I found it strange penalties like "holding" were not translated.

All in all, it was kind of neat. Often announcers get so full of blah-blah, I'd rather tune them out. Thursday night, that was easy.

Besides, exposing my bi-lingual kids to a third language can't be bad.

Then, part way through the second quarter, the sound stopped entirely. Halftime was silent. The occasional commercial would have sound, but the whole rest of the game was mute. Was it just my recording? Even tuning in after the game to NFL Network live, I found it silent.

I searched for "NFL network audio problems" and found forum discussions about past incidents but not this one.

I tweeted about it and so did My Gorgeous Illustrator. No one responded.

Was our household the only one infected? Was it a broadcast thing or a DVR thing? Did it happen to you?

If you don't tell me, I'll never know.

#5 Who's Not Suspended Anymore?

Aldon Smith is back, but I don't think that changes whether or not you play San Francisco's defense.

Josh Gordon will return next week against a very generous Atlanta defense. Provided he's been catching more than a buzz during his time off, he should step right back into form. He's on a better Browns team than he was last year when he led the league in receiving yards. Someone in your league probably had the patience to retain him. He's available in one of my leagues and I have a waiver claim to drop Steve Smith for him.

Speaking of Brown things, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West are easier to play now that Ben Tate has as many jobs in the NFL as I do.

Adrian Peterson will not be back. He can't be reinstated any time before April 15. By that time, Minnesota will be spending its cap space on other people and is unlikely to re-sign him. So the off-season's hot topic will be: where will Peterson land? Someone will sign him if he has the brains to act remorseful and do what the league wants him to do.

Does your team want Adrian? How will your fans react?

#6 Just When I Said There Were Never Trades...

...I pulled off a trade. Several days back someone in Nate's league offered me 3 players for Alshon Jefferey and Denard Robinson. Not wanting to dilute my starting lineup, I countered with his Antonio Brown for my Alshon and Denard.

He accepted on the day of the trade deadline, but the trade won't go through until this week because I had Alshon in my lineup.

Let's see how it works out. Robinson was on a bye but Jefferey outscored Brown 20.5 to 15.1 this week. I still lost bad.

My one miscalculation: Brown's on a bye next week. In this league, playoffs are 3 weeks long and start Week 14. I'm in, but for one of the last 2 weeks I'm missing a stud receiver. And for both, I'm missing my handy Auto-Flex.

If I don't miss the playoffs because of this, it's a good trade.

#7 Rat-a-tattoo My Ass

I got it done. My 86 the Poet tattoo. I had to earn it first.

I had always wanted a tattoo of the title of the first book I ever published. I hadn't anticipated the ease of ebook publishing. I have not earned enough money in a few years on ebooks to afford a drop of ink.

So I changed my plan. I had to earn enough money with my pen name to justify tattooing my logo on myself. A month before my 40th birthday, I started working 4 rather than 5 days a week at the restaurant and freelancing part time.

That justified it, so I went to Anchored Art in Spokane and had it done. Very clean and professional, by my rookie standards. They were selected best local tattoo shop by the local voters, so I did not look much further. I'm pleased with the work.

If you're in Spokane and need one done, look up Billyjack.

By the way, taking a selfie of one spot on your arm is hard. 20+ takes later...

#8 Don Rafael Vintage 2004 6" x 54 Box Press

Bottom Right with the White Band
Another item from the Victor Sinclair sampler I grabbed a few weeks ago. For $17.95, I'm about to say those 10 smokes were a great deal. Thanks, Thompson.

I'm liking the wide gauge box presses. A good solid feel with an easy draw. This was the perfect mellow maduro: rich and earthy without any edges. Smoked smooth from start to finish. And the ash?

I'm not a long-butt guy. I don't smoke 'em vertical hoping to create the longest ash I can. I will tap it after a while to make sure the ash doesn't fall in my drink or my lap.

While I believe a good cigar should grow a good firm ash that doesn't want to drop, it's not the only measuring stick. But as a general rule, I hope to only ash a cigar twice before stubbing it. Cheap cigars will shed ash like your dog in the summer.

But this Don Rafael? That ash went for days. I didn't have a tape measure or a camera with me as I sat by my fire pit. The cigar at one point was 3/4 ash and 1/4 cigar. Only about an inch of cigar was left when it finally fell.

The ash is still sitting on the edge of my fire pit a few days later.

That's a solid build, my friends, with a great flavor to match. I'll buy them again.

#9 My Kids are More Awesome than Yours

I could brag about my kids for pages, but that's not what this column's for. What is it for? You tell me.

But I will brag a bit.

My 5 year old has share day (what we used to call Show and Tell) at his preschool every week. He decided to bring his sawfish. He has to supply 3 clues and his classmates guess what he brought. I was wracking my brain that morning for the technical term for the protuberance on the upper lip of swordfish, paddlefish, sawfish and the like. I asked my son.

"Rostrum," he said. "It uses its rostrum to catch prey."

Are you smarter than a 5 year old?

My toddler, although he won't be 3 until March, has already been invited to join the 3 to 5 year old gymnastics class. He has good balance and strength for a kid that age and never runs around like the other rascals. He doesn't talk to his coach, but he does listen and follow.

If a slobbering "pbpbpbpblt" is a word, then my baby just said her first word. She says it all the time.

#10 Ink for my Pen Arm

Stamped into my skin
So I don't forget: I am
Poet and temple.

Good luck and happy creepings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Creeper Report: Fantasy Football Week 11

Dissatisfaction, although not complete disappointment, in the Village of the Creepers this week.

My teams went 2-2. One team is in second place. Two are in third. One is a half game out of the playoffs in fifth. Ain't no problem that I can't fix 'cause I can do it in the mix.

My failings were due to 2 positions I historically draft late: tight end and defense. Defenses I stream and roll the dice on. Sometimes I hit. Sometimes I don't. But the tight end thing I need to get better at. More on that later in the list.

More dissatisfaction with the Seattle Seahawks. I've been shooting down people early this week who want to say they beat up on the New York Giants. Don't let the score fool you. They barely won.

They were down 17-14 at the half and tied after 3 quarters. They turned the ball over too much. They were lucky to not fumble away the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson was not throwing it well. Only because Seattle's offense wore out the Giants' defense were they able to run the ball well in the fourth quarter.

Seattle would have lost to a playoff-quality team. They'd better tighten up.

I can't wait for the finish of this year. The pressure will be on and I think the Seahawks play best with their backs against the wall. After Kansas City this week, Seattle finishes the season with 2 against Arizona, 2 against San Francisco, 1 against Philadelphia and another against St. Louis, who is always down to play spoiler.

Taking the division won't be easy, but it's in their hands.

What's in my hands? A list of 10 things relative and not relative to this week in fantasy football.

#1 Putting Butt Fumble Jokes on Hold

Maybe Mark Sanchez will not be the death of the Eagles' dreams.

He was supported by a good defense mauling a bad Panthers' offense, but he didn't screw anything up. In fact, his passes looked tight and he had a better vibe about him. Winning does that. The chance of scenery can too. In a pre-game interview, he was ecstatic about the Chip Kelley organization.

So for us fantasy people, don't bail on Sanchez's weapons. You're sticking with Shady. Jeremy Maclin will produce. Brent Celek is back on the radar. Darren Sproles is healthy and dangerous again, but I think he'll be a streaky play. Your situation may vary. Jordan Matthews just became a hot pickup.

And if your quarterback situation is iffy, you can give Sanchez a shot. They go to Green Bay this week. The Packers put up 42 in the first half against Chicago. The Eagles will have to air it out to keep up.

#2 You and I have Tight End Problems

Your scoring is different, but in my Euro league only 6 tight ends are averaging over 9 points a game. If you drafted Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham or Julius Thomas, you got repaid. Yet, about 50 wide receivers and running backs are scoring over 9 per game.

Right now, I'm stinging partially due to Martellus Bennett's bye in two leagues. My gamble on Luke Willson, in particular, did not pay off. After the top few tight ends, it's quite random. My other two leagues, I'm in trouble at tight end. It's definitely a weakness that superior depth at WR is only partly hiding.

Trade deadline's coming soon. I may have to get wheeling.

#3 Fantasy Football Trades are a Myth

Women like nice guys. Cars with big mufflers are always fast. People singing on the radio can actually sing. Trades happen in fantasy football.

All of those things are mostly false almost all the time.

You don't want a guy. You want another guy. You offer a trade and the other owner agrees with you: he doesn't want your dude either.

You want to trade multiple players for one player, hoping the other owner thinks two fives equal a ten. The problem here: he can't start any more players than you. He doesn't want to weaken his starters and strengthen his bench. He'll have to drop someone after the trade anyway.

So fantasy football trades only happen if you trade with a dummy, right? Not quite.

You must search your whole league for someone with a fortunate surplus and an unfortunate paucity. My best trade, and one of my only ones, was one of these. It also pissed off half the league.

Just because you didn't see it and I did doesn't mean you can be upset.

A few years ago, I was having QB issues. I drafted Peyton Manning the year he sat out with the neck injury. I forget the details of this one, but someone traded me Matt Schaub. Then Schaub got hurt and I was in trouble again.

I scanned every team in the league and found one owner with Cam Newton backing up Aaron Rodgers with the byes behind them. No way he's ever using Cam, so I asked him what he wanted. A running back, he said. Which one? I asked. James Starks, he replied.

Okay. He wants my third or fourth running back. I'd have considered a better one, but that's what he offered and that's what I took. The guy in question was in fourth place and firmly in the playoff hunt, but grumblers still wanted to talk collusion.

In a free league, mind you.

Just because you didn't see it and made the move doesn't mean you can get grumbly.

Someone somewhere in your league just might be rich where you are poor and the other way around. Take a shot. You'll probably get shut down anyway.

#4 Pickups this Week

Like I said, look at Jordan Matthews. The Eagles will be chucking it against the Packers.

CJ Anderson may get stuck in a Denver RB committee, but if Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman are less than healthy, he could be an ace.

I still don't know what to think about the Giants' passing game. They keep putting up ugly numbers. Rueben Randle seems to be falling out of the back end while Odell Beckham Jr. looks like the truth. Preston Parker is an interesting acquisition if you need the depth.

If you need another tight end to drive you crazy, Kyle Rudolph is coming back in a week or two. Will he become Teddy Bridgewater's good buddy? Watch and see.

Overall a tricky week for pickups. So many questions with so few answers. I'm sitting with guys like Rashad Jennings and Montee Ball on the verge of coming back. I'm trying to be patient and keep the faith.

Unlike the guy who just dropped Giovani Bernard in Andy's league. He's a Creeper now. Maybe the bit of luck that 5-4-1 team needs.

#5 Defenses I Like

My usual question is: who am I picking on? Pittsburgh failed to crash the Jets last week. They're on a bye so I don't have to decide if I'm still picking on them. So are the Jaguars.

The Oakland Raiders travel to San Diego, so the Chargers are a favorite. After Derek Carr passed to one of his linemen, who fumbled the ball away, I can feel good about this.

The Eagles put up big numbers against the Panthers, but won't do it against the Packers. Will Atlanta hit Carolina as hard? You take that guess. Will the Packers find beautiful Sanchez or ugly Sanchez?

Cleveland looked sharp against Cincinnati on Thursday. They get a long week to prepare for... Ryan Mallett. New starting quarterbacks are always a tempting snack, making the Browns my second favorite defense to stream.

#6 Can I Start an Offensive Tackle?

Garry Gilliam played tight end and defensive end in high school, where he caught 20 passes for 4 scores. At Penn State, he started his career at tight end but shifted to tackle in 2013. He was signed as an un-drafted free agent by the Seahawks this year.

The 6'6" 306 pounder has been seen most often lined up as an eligible extra blocker in power formations. With Zach Miller, Anthony McCoy and now Luke Willson injured, Seattle has been using more 6 offensive lineman sets.

They're throwing to Gilliam one of these days and it will be a touchdown. Don't tell anyone. It's a secret Pete Carroll doesn't want me to tell you.

#7 Is Anything For Certain Anymore?

So many things seem upside down in the league right now. But just past the halfway point, they usually are. That's why they play the games.

Arizona with the best record in the league? Cleveland leading the AFC North? Everyone in the AFC North with a winning record? No one in the NFC South with a winning record? Justin Forsett outrushing Jamaal Charles?

Who'd have called these things? This week looks crazier than most. Looking up and down the schedule, I see no locks outside the Broncos/Rams.

What do I feel good about? The Patriots/Colts game will be a high-flying quarterback duel. You should be able to count on big money from Brady, Luck, TY, Gronk, Wayne, LaFell, Bradshaw, Edelman and one of Belichick's running backs. As a desperate TE seeker, I'm liking Dwayne Allen over Coby Fleener.

#8 5 Vegas Series A Apotheosis Revisited

I first got one of these in my face back in Week 4. I gave it a solid review, but like all new smokes right out of the package, it needed to season.

7 weeks later, it has. I had another. The burn was smoother, the draw was easier and the flavor more expansive. I pick up on more of the cocoa notes. The box press feels a little more puffed up, like the time out of the tight wrappings has allowed it to relax.

This just jumped from an OK cigar to a very good one. I'm glad to have a dozen more aging in the box.

I suggest the whole Series A line and badly want to get cracked in the head with a notoriously intense Triple A.

#9 Is That My Alter Ego, or Just My Ego?

Something I wrote for College Factual about the best academic schools for Division 1 football ended up at USA Today. The site preferred a name that does not sound like it belongs to a robot prototype, so the byline reads "David Klenda". Somehow, that feels weird now.

I'm happy to be published and shared under any name. Call me Betty Boop, just pay me. Still, I've been trying to consolidate my brand and seeing my birth name next to my writing is odd once again.

Where's the best football school for academics? You'll have to look. Not all of the schools on the list are perennial powerhouses, but they will get you a degree that matters in case you are part of the huge majority that goes professional in something other than football.

#10 A Haiku for Al Davis' Zombies

Wideouts are covered
So pass to linemen. Brilliant.
They're always open.

Good luck and happy creepings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Seattle Seahawks and Old Women: They Might Not Be Giants

Contributed by Kathe Frahm

Some old women are crepe hangers. They hang a black crepe wreath on the door when someone dies. They always think the worst is going to happen. If you catch a cold, you are surely going to die of pneumonia. Bad luck and losses are not uncommon in this room of old women and a few old men.

When their boys were looking bad the first half of the game with the hapless New York Giants, they sunk lower into their chairs and walkers and hoped it wouldn't be too bad. Others just shook their heads at the "loser's attitude" and suggested a cookie or some cheese ball might cheer them up a little.

The Giants QB Eli Manning, little brother of the old women's least favorite Peyton, looked pretty good at first. But when the Seahawks' defense started wearing the Giants' offense down, they could see a little panic show on the young Manning's face and in his performance.

The old women were worried at the half when their 'Hawks were down 17-14. Most believed their boys would bounce back in the second half of the game. The "we'll probably lose" side were giving the I-told-you-so-look. They feared that their adorable Russell Wilson was in a real slump. Two interceptions and a fumble brought groans and cries for their boys to shake it off and get going.

At the beginning of the 4th quarter, the whole attitude of the rec room changed. Marshawn Lynch can do that to the old women. He started his famous Mack Truck carries into the face of the Giants' defense, dragging defenders and blockers with him as he just kept falling forward. The old women screamed when his helmet got ripped off.

Old women sometimes are given to uses of very colorful profanities. This was one of those times. Little gray-haired grandmothers in Seahawks t-shirts yelling profound curses at any opposing player who could hurt one of their boys is a remarkable vision.

A big worry was that one of their boys would get hurt. And it is the nature of the game that they do. Brandon Mebane and LukeWillson were both helped off the field with injuries. S Kam Chancellor is still out but may be back next week for the game with the Kansas City Chiefs.

A win is a win for the old women. But a final pounding of the other team is more fun. For many old women in this home's rec room, it isn't how you play the game. It is how bad your Hawks beat the other team. Old women are not always fair and they don't care if anyone thinks they are bad sports.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Seattle Seahawks and Old Women: Running through Raiders

Contributed by Kathe Frahm

The rec room was nearly full for the Oakland Raiders game. Even a few more old men straggled in. After all, how could their Seattle Seahawks lose against the winless Raiders and their baby QB, Derrek Carr?

A few old women felt a little put upon when some of their favorite chairs were taken by what they called fair weather fans. And with twice the women there, the noise of so many conversations going on at once blocked out the announcers. On occasion one of the old women yelled for them to shut up so the play calls could be heard. The old men thought that was funny.

At least some of the old women who haven't been there during the hard times brought food. Even one of the old men brought a bucket of fried chicken to share. Some leftover Halloween candy and cake made it to the snack table. Old women are past competing for the best food prize. They were all about the snacks, though.

It was hard for the old women to watch their boy Russell Wilson looking a bit off. The lack of steely confidence and intent concentration of their boy was scary. True, many of the regular offensive linemen were out with injuries. Russell played with his 4th center. Max Unger and Russell Okung could be back next week against the New York Giants. Many players stepped up to fill the injury holes.

Bruce Irvin, KJ Wright, Robert Turbin and Christine Michael all showed They knew what they were doing.

The old women were most happy to see their favorites Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, and Steve Hauschka do so well in the game. They did not get how John Ryan's punt could be blocked, which brought a lot of screaming and yelling. A great sigh of relief was heard when Jermaine Kearse fell on the onside kick to guarantee the win.

QB Derrek Carr of the Raiders showed he could be great one day. The old women thought he was too skinny and wondered what made him appear as though he had breasts. The old women who knew assured the other that that was the bindings used to keep his shoulder pads in place with the protective gear he has to wear.

They sounded relieved.

The old women know it wasn't a nice win. Old women take victories where they find them, nice or not. That is what they learn just by living long enough.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Creeper Report: Fantasy Football Week 10

A tough week in Creeperville. 0-3 for my Russell Wilson led teams. My Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas based team won, holding my lead atop Bethanie's league.

The moral: it's better to have your quarterback gunslinging from behind than coasting ahead of a team he's sure he'll beat.

But creep on creepin' on. I still have the #4 spot in my free Euro league. In Nate's league, I'm holding tight to my #3 position. I'm still in #4 in Andy's league by a mere half game. No time to freak out. Still in the playoffs across the board. Keep streaming the best defense and snagging free agent W/R/Ts. Keep faith in my quarterback.

In woulda-coulda-shoulda news, I would have won in the Euro league had I hung onto Miami's D. But who thought they'd shut out the Chargers? Let me go back and edit last week's Report to show that I knew it all along.

I got blown out in my other 2 leagues. Nothing I could have done would have helped. In Nate's, every player on my bench had a bye.

With no regrets, let's get into 10 things about fantasy football and things we can smoke while watching.

#1 Does Your Team Need More Boobie?

When Anthony Dixon came from the San Francisco 49ers to the Buffalo Bills, his team-mates started calling him "Boobie" after Boobie Miles from Friday Night Lights. The name grew in popularity with fans until it was officially switched from Anthony on the team roster.

Whatever you call Mr. Dixon, you can now call him the starting running back for the surprising 5-3 Bills. Coming off a bye, they face a Kansas City Chiefs team that leads the league against the pass but is 19th against the run with 116.1 yards allowed per game. They give up 4.7 yards per carry.

With CJ Spiller on injured reserve and Fred Jackson questionable to play, that gives Boobie and Bryce Brown the rock. Dixon's only gained 639 yards in 4.5 seasons so far, but a starting back is a starting back.

#2 Denard "Auto-Flex" Robinson

Coming out of Michigan as a quarterback, the NFL didn't know what to do with Robinson. The Jacksonville Jaguars played around with him as a kick returner, wide receiver and running back. Last year he threw one pass, caught none and carried the ball 20 times for 66 yards.

Suddenly over the last 3 games he has 57 carries for 329 yards and 2 scores. Better yet, he's still listed as a hybrid WR/RB. Auto-Flex. Last week I used him as a WR. This week I'll start him at RB. Useful.

He's a big play waiting to happen and one of the only good offensive things happening for the Jags.

#3 Giant's Offense

Should be written as "0ffense" except I'm not sure you can tell I used a zero instead of an O.

Out west, I don't get much chance to see the Giants play. Monday Night, it was obvious their passing game is a wreck. But go go gadget garbage time. Eli Manning still ended up with 359 and 2 scores with amazingly no interceptions. Odell Beckham Jr. (ODB's son to me) grabbed 8 for 156. All of that was much too late in a blowout that ended 40-24 somehow.

Eli's passes and receivers were never in the same place. Rueben Randle still hasn't figured him out. The defense that was lit up by the Steelers was confusing to the Giants.

Coming to Seattle next week, I don't feel good about anything NYG. I may still have to start Old Dirty's kid, but I hope not to. Boom or bust indeed.

#4 Speaking of Seattle's Defense

Always watch the transactions of your league-mates. You might see that someone dropped Seattle for Darren Sproles so they could start Philadelphia against Houston. Snag.

The Seahawks are showing why you shouldn't go nuts and draft a defense early. But as a free agent grab to play the Raiders at home? Thanks. Best matchup of the year for them. Sure, they gave up too many points to Al Davis' zombies, but they were handed 3 turnovers and a touchdown.

And I'll take them at home against the Giants, too.

Other defenses this week? I like Dallas against Jacksonville and Pittsburgh against the Jets. Do you think Mark Sanchez isn't Mark Sanchez? If you think he still is, take Carolina against Philadelphia.

#5 Return of the Butt Fumble

I was working at a huge sports bar at the time of the infamous Sanchez moment. I'd heard a lot of noises during football games at that place, but I'd never heard the whole joint fall out laughing until then.

But that was then. Sanchez did just win the game against Houston after Nick Foles busted a collar bone. He threw for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns plus 2 interceptions. He's bound to turn it over a couple more times at least versus Carolina.

You probably have to start Jeremy Maclin in case he catches another bomb or two. Don't feel good about it. LeSean McCoy is still Shady, but I don't like much else Eagle-flavored this week.

#6 All Brain and No Heart

I keep reminding myself to play fantasy football with my head only and keep the heart separate. I'm wondering now if I always do that.

Having Russell Wilson in three leagues is a smart move regardless of the fact I love that team. Being pessimistic about Percy Harvin as a Jet rather than a Seahawk I think is logical.

Saying his first game in New York would be the best game of the rest of his career? I was trying to get a reaction. Sometimes you need to be bold to be heard, like in the 90s when I used to say the internet was a myth and computers didn't work.

Look at me now.

Maybe my Harvin call is correct if I really meant this week. I figured the Jets would feed him the ball to prove they made a good trade. With 11 catches for 129 in a blowout loss, they did it this week. I benched him for Rueben Randle and I was wrong. Didn't cost me the game, but maybe I was getting emotional.

Putting hindsight behind me where it belongs, let's look at this week. At home against a red-hot Pittsburgh offense, the Jets might do it again. Harvin may barely average 10 yards a catch and be held scoreless one more time, but he'll be a good play especially in PPR.

He gets the start over Rueben this week.

#7 Ben Roethlisberger's 12 Pack

Will this keep up? How often can a guy throw 6 touchdowns? The Jets are second-to-last in the league surrendering 28 points a game. It just might keep up.

Antonio Brown is one reason I'm leading Bethanie's league. Martavis Brown and Markus Wheaton are both worth starting if you need them. This could be another mauling. Big Ben could leave New Jersey with Rex Ryan's job.

#8 I Will Miss You, Serie N

I believe the La Gloria Cubana Serie N was the first cigar I ever reviewed on the Creeper Report for The Penalty Flag. They've taken the page down, so I'll never know.

I just smoked the last one in my humidor. A little melancholy.

Yet I'm reminded why the 5.5" 54 gauge JSB is my favorite cigar of all time. Once again, a bit of pepper smoothing into an earthy leatheriness like a favorite bomber jacket. No bitterness. Meaty. This is the reason I fell for oscuros.

And this is why you need a good humidor and must let your favorites rest. It took me well over a year to go through 10 of these. I only grabbed them for special occasions. But tonight? Maybe just because.

After more than a year, it was softer, more complex and more intense than ever. Grabbed me by the boo-boo, it did.

One more lesson: keep an eye on your favorite smokes on multiple sites. Everything goes on sale from time to time. I got 10 of these way back when for $39.99 plus a $10 gift card.

The Serie R Black and the Wavell Maduros are also great. LGC makes fine big rich cigars at good prices.

Watch for a Serie N sale for me, will you?

#9 Continuing the Freelance Dance

Heading into my third month as a part-time freelancer, I'm hunting for bigger fish. Snagging $20 or $30 bits and pieces is fine, but I need a real jobby-job.

Sure, I can write about just about anything, but I should stick to what I know. And that's not even football.

I've racked up some experience as an NFL writer, but I've been in the restaurant business much longer. I know more about the game than most managers you'll meet (except for mine, who happen to be geniuses) so if I'm going to be an expert at anything, it's that.

How to organize your staff, what to cook, what to pour, what not to do, how to prepare yourself and how not to get fired. Learned it all, hard way and otherwise.

I need to find someone who values that and will pay me to teach it. I don't want to run all over a restaurant until my plantar fasciae are filled with micro-tears again.

Furthermore, when my son starts going to school 5 days a week, I don't want to head to work as soon as he gets home.

I want to move away from writing jobs that take only an hour or two. I want something more permanent.

#10 Brady Versus Manning Forever

 Take my record. Chase
Brett Favre. My team doesn't care.
We just lit yours up.

Good luck and happy creepings.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Seattle Seahawks and Old Women: Pink Panthers

Contributed by Kathe Frahm

Old women aren't too big on miracles. So, when they think they see one, it is unexpected.

Russell Wilson to Luke Willson in the final seconds TD of the Seattle Seahawks game in Carolina for some of the women qualified as a miracle.

There were only 4 women in the rec room for this game. Some had had their fill of disappointment and did not want to wish too much for a win. The food selection was sparse though one old woman brought coffeecake to bake in the rec room. The smell of baking was comforting. Potato chips, microwave popcorn and Halloween candy was all the snacks and even that wasn't eaten much.

As a vocal group, the old women were disgusted with the Panthers' QB Cam Newton and yelled unkind words every time he looked at the field camera and swaggered off with look-what-I-did gestures. The old women wanted the Seahawks to win if for no other reason than to see that smirk wiped off his face.

It was a hard game. The old women were getting quieter through each of the first 3 quarters. They just knew their boys would bounce back in the 4th. At least that was the hope. When Russell was sacked, when the Hawks were intercepted and did not score a TD in their drives downfield, they cheered loud and strong for Kicker Steve Hauschka to at least get something on the scoreboard. They did not expect he would break his own distance field goal distance with a nearly perfect 58 yards. Again many comments were made about him not only being a good kicker but also very pleasant to look at.

Halfway through the 4th quarter, one of the 4 old women said she couldn't stand the way this game was going. She was going up to her apartment to pick up the sewing on her Christmas projects for the grandkids. The others could understand, but they hung in. She took a few chips and some coffeecake with her.

With the abrupt removal of the troubled Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin and Luke Willson were placed by their handsome surfer boy coach Pete Carroll with Marshawn Lynch to carry the ball. Add the yardage gained by Robert Turbin and the old women began to have a happier outlook. The Panthers saw Baldwin as the logical replacement for Harvin and mistakenly discounted Willson to receive the ball. He did struggle but was able to catch Russell's brilliant pass for the last seconds game winning TD. Yelling and screaming and cheering for their boys is what the old women do best. They even heard the one old woman who went up to sew, screaming on her way down in the elevator.

So the now 4 old women hugged and kept up the yelling for a long time. Mostly the final look on the Panther QB's face was worth this anxious, worrisome game. Old women know the arrogance lesson always gets learned. Cam Newton should benefit from this opportunity.