I try not to name drop on this blog. It gets hard, because I am the ultimate hobnobber. I mean, just the other day I was at the pool with my kids and my daughter started swimming with the little girl whose father owns the Wal-Mart retail space in town. I KNOW!
Today, I just can't hold back. Because today's Dear Abby post comes from none other than Bill Simmons. That's right. The Sports Guy/Grantland editor-big-shot himself. I. KNOW!!!
Okay, okay. The inquiry didn't come directly from Bill. But one of his Grantland staff writers did post an open call for submissions to a Grantland Fantasy Island competition, in which the winning auteur gets to be Grantland's new fantasy sports writer. I read that to be just one step removed from an exclusive invitation to Yours Truly to (a) please share my fantasy sports picks; and (b) join Grantland's writing staff.
You're reading it that way as well, right?
So, without further adieu, I present to you my submission to Fantasy Island. Enjoy.
No Shades of Grey in This Fantasy
Fantasy, meet a dose of reality. We’re building a make-believe roster, but we’re not poaching stars from various teams. We’re sticking with one team – one bound for the Super Bowl. Because identifying a team that is going to be successful means identifying a group of guys that is ready to stats bust. Because Eli sparked Victor, Aaron sparked Clay, and Drew sparked, well, New Orleans. Because it makes sense.
Arthur Blank, real owner of the real Atlanta Falcons, also co-founded Home Depot. The man has given us both a store to build our homes and a team to build our points. Let’s raid his tool chest and build a fantastic team. You can do it. He can help.
Yes, we’re poaching from the Falcons.
Grab your Lane Kiffin. Let’s roll.
As with any house worth its mortgage, first priority is a solid foundation. Enter Matt Ryan, QB. Five seasons in, he has the experience to back up the football intelligence he has demonstrated since his rookie campaign. With an offense primed for an air attack, he spent the off-season developing his arm strength and studying up on red zone efficiency. Come Sundays, he can launch offensive assaults with a mix of backs who can catch, tight ends who can tackle, and receivers who can time-travel. Then he’ll go home to memorize the next playbook and digest game tape. Elsewhere, Brees, Flacco, and Cutler will be helping with nighttime feedings and putting the X’s and O’s on sleep schedules. Mark my words: Matt’s best throw this season will be the No Postseason Wins monkey he throws off his back.
Now, the part of the house that is fun to look at. Roddy White, elder statesman of the Falcons’ WR tandem, is, in American Idol terms, in it to win it. He knows that (a) he’s got a youngster nipping at his heels; (b) Falcons Nation wanted more from him last year; and (c) he remains Matt’s go-to target. Even better, he knows he’s still got it, and he fears nothing. If the guy will call out Roger Goodell on Twitter, imagine the bravery he’ll unleash on gameday. Calvin Johnson, take your Megatron nickname and enjoy being the next thing to self-destruct in Detroit.
The aforementioned youngster is, of course, Julio Jones. With his first true preseason under his belt, he’s had a chance to harness his insane athleticism and quickness to let it loose in the right way at the right time. To watch Julio is to watch a science experiment unfold. He can lay out, leap, catch in traffic, and run downfield faster than a (Usain) bolt of lightning. He’s the reason A.J. Green stopped going by “Adriel.” If anyone could prove that guys one consonant removed from “Ariel” were pure fairy tales, it’s Julio.
No house is complete without a reliable roof. Hello, Tony Gonzalez. The numbers game is easy with him. Jersey number: 88. Going into last season, he’d caught 88 touchdown passes. Touchdown plus extra kick: 7 points. Last season, Tony caught 7 touchdowns. Tony’s years in the league: 16. So Tony will have 16 touchdown receptions this year. It’s the symmetry befitting of the fittest, fiercest tight end in history. Rob Gronkowski only knows the word “symmetry” because he used it in a sentence once to describe his lady friend’s “additions.”
There’s no resting comfortably without a superior security system. For that, hire the Falcons’ defense. New coordinator Mike Nolan studied the chemical compounds of water and applied that chemistry to his defense. A defense that can knock you down, flush you out, and make your hands really, really slippery. A defense that counts some of the league’s best athletes as its starters. Further south, Wade Phillips is entering season two as coordinator of the Texans’ defense. Remember, he followed up his playoffs-making season at the Cowboys by going 1-7 before getting fired. The owner that goes with the Texans’ defense is getting robbed.
Finish with the decoy lawn ornament. Popular opinion says the sleeper from the Falcons is place kicker Matt Bryant. The Falcons are scoring touchdowns this year, though, not kicking field goals. The real sleeper is Jacquizz Rodgers, RB. This 5’6” surprise lurked in the shadows of Michael Turner’s thighs last year. Now it’s his turn to give the pass game a rest. His growth spurt more of a growth sputter, defenders won’t see him until he reaches the end zone. The answer to this pop quiz is Quizz.
More winners. More winning.