09 September 2012

Bonus Tuesday Football: They're back. Except for actual referees.

Illegal use of scabs, 15 yards.  No, 15 yards the other way:  This season, the NFL owners have decided to lock the referees out instead of the players.  Today, I counted at least two instances, in two different games, where the officials could barely figure out where the ball even belonged.  As much as we love to curse officials, it's better when they're the real articles instead of the subs scabs we have babysitting now.  Ugh.

Introducing the Cat's three fantasy teams:  A funny thing happened to The Ghost-Grey Cats while they migrated from Yahoo! to the official NFL game.  On Monday, I set a draft order for the Cats and waited for the NFL servers to assign them players and a league.

And I waited.  And waited.

And waited until about late Tuesday, when I lost patience and told the NFL to just put the Cats in a live draft.  In a 10-team league, I got stuck with the tenth position, which should have shut me out of any chance for a superstar headliner.  Thanks to a couple of opponents who used exotic drafting strategies1, Calvin Johnson fell to me in the first round, then I nabbed Matt Forte with the next pick.

Besides Forte, five other players return from last year's semifinalists, including my entire tight-end battery of Antonio Gates and Brandon Pettigrew.  Matt Ryan, another returnee, has two capable backups2.  The trick will be to avoid the cockiness that sank the Cats last season.  If I can, the Cats should be champions come late December.

With the live draft over, I thought I was through.  I wasn't.  Rather than just moving the Cats into one new league, the NFL servers submitted my draft order again, and ran it through the autodraft for which I had originally signed.  When I woke up Wednesday, I discovered that I had not one, but two teams on NFL.com, in two different leagues.

Suddenly gifted with a new team, I decided to name it Time and Again, after a CBS Radio Mystery Theater episode that I've reviewed on this blog.  New team, new colors, new logo, but, oddly, four players who also play for the Cats.  The Timers drafted third, so they also nabbed Ray Rice.

Of course, they also drafted the likes of Cedric Benson and Santana Moss.  That's like successfully casting a "summon wolves" spell, only to have to deal with two Yorkshire terriers who inevitably appear along with the grey wolf.  Time and Again is solid at QB, RB and defense, but patchy elsewhere.  I can get to the playoffs with this team, but it will take work.

The Fluttering Horde might be as weak as it's ever been, but that's largely because the family league expanded to 16 teams for 2012.  Also, I had the first pick, which I spent on Ray Rice; so Darren Sproles ended up being the only survivor of the expansion carnage.  Peyton Manning, who made league finalists of the 2010 Horde, does return, backed up by Jay Cutler.  Wes Welker and Eric Decker, who served short tours with the Horde in the past, return as my top two wideouts.  It's not much, but that's the cost of having at pick at an extreme slot (first) rather than the middle slot (eighth or ninth) the Horde usually gets.  Yahoo! expects an 11-2 mark from this squad.  It's playoff-worthy as is, but that prediction is a stretch.

1. One rival spent three top picks on defenses.  Another drafted three quarterbacks in the first four rounds.  They can keep whatever they were ingesting.
2. Dudes, those early picks aren't going to help you, not even as trade bait.  But thanks for handing me Cutler and Roethlisberger.

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