We are two days away from Super Bowl Sunday, the highest of high holy days on the sporting calendar.  This is Easter, Eid, and Yom Kippur all wrapped up into one for even the most casual of sports fans, as across the country the devout and the lapsed sports junkies will gather in living rooms around cocktail weenies and nachos to watch the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints vie for the title of best team ever (well, at least for this year). The two weeks between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl traditionally leads to a whole lot of bloviation by the sports media in an attempt to hype up a game that, in all seriousness, really needs no hyping.  Everybody watches this game.  Super Bowl Sunday has become a national holiday on par with the Fourth of July, so much so that if the NFL ever decided to move this game to a weekday, bosses would be forced to give their employees the day off.  So this year it’s Saints vs. Colts or, as the media has chosen to sell this game, a city whose buildings but not its spirit was crushed by a devastating hurricane four and a half years ago, a spirit that is embodied by its love for its football team vs. Peyton Manning (above left). Here’s our Super Bowl preview.

1. The New Orleans Saints earned their way to Super Bowl XLIV (44) by defeating the Minnesota Vikings in a game that they, in all honesty, had no business winning.  The VIkings outplayed them for the entire game, but were done in by turnovers (especially one egregious interception by the aged Brett Favre), and the Saints won the game in overtime.  Now they are a five-point underdog against the Colts, which seems about right.  For the Saints to win, they will need to be close to unstoppable on offense, because their defense showed against the Vikings that, outside of the ability to force turnovers, they really are not that good.  The Saints will not when this game if they score less than 30 points on Sunday, and still may not win if they do.  Expect big days from quarterback Drew Brees (above right) and wide receiver Marques Colston.  

Super Bowl Party Cheat Sheet

Traditionally, at a Super Bowl party, you can keep your comments short and sweet, and still look like you know your football.   (more…)

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4The fantasy football gods will eventually catch up to almost everybody.  But fortunately, these rules do not apply to you.  No, you are a fantasy savant.  You take other players’ queens with your pawns.  You can order a Big Mac at Burger King and get one.  Tough day for Drew Brees?  So what.  You didn’t start him this week because a little birdie told you that Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard (pictured) would have a huge day against the Titans.  Your co-workers are officially confounded by your fantasy bravado.  Wanna keep the party going?  We’re here to help with this week’s installment of This Week in Fantasy Football.

Water Cooler Cheat Sheet

In most water-cooler type conversations, you will only be required to utter one or two throwaway lines in order to appear knowledgeable.  And being that this is fantasy football, you don’t even need to know anything about actual football in order to look like a fantasy star.

“I had a feeling that Brees might struggle against the Jets defense, so I decided to go with Garrard.  The Titans have looked awful on defense, so I just felt it was time to give Garrard a shot.”

Now we have said before that if you have a good fantasy performer who is going up against a formidable defense (Ravens, Steelers, Jets, Giants, etc.), you should still play the top-notch fantasy performer and good players are good players, regardless of who they are playing.  But it is also true that mediocre players can become great players if they are going up against a really bad defense, which is exactly what Tennessee has become.

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StevenJacksonOkay, so you are now a fantasy god.

People are walking up to you at the water cooler and asking about your fantasy results trying to glean whatever information they can from you as you shamelessly brag about your faux fantasy exploits.  Your tips about Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson have alternatingly flummoxed and fascinated your co-workers, and you need a few more pointers in order to keep the ball rolling and to keep your star in the office on the rise.  Fear not, we are once again here to help with our latest edition of This Week in Fantasy Football.

Water Cooler Cheat Sheet

In most water-cooler type conversations, you will only be required to utter one or two throwaway lines in order to appear knowledgeable.  And being that this is fantasy football, you don’t even need to know anything about actual football in order to look like a fantasy savant.

“Rough week for Drew Brees, but I was able to pick up Pierre Thomas over the waiver wire late last week.  Those two late touchdowns against the Bills really saved my bacon.”

Saints running back Pierre Thomas had spent most of the first two weeks of the season on the bench due to an injury and the emergence of back-up tailback Mike Bell.  But Bell was injured this past weekend, putting Thomas into the starting line-up.  Knowing that the Saints may have a tough time passing on the Bills secondary, you astutely picked up Thomas and were rewarded with his 126 yards and two touchdowns.  You can thank us later.

The More You Know

Over the first couple of weeks, the fantasy axiom of always taking the best running back first during the draft over the best quarterbacks was tested by the exploits of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, the leaders in fantasy points in most leagues.  But do you know who the number three quarterback in all of fantasy football is?  That would be the Houston Texans Matt Schaub.  Meanwhile, running backs like St. Louis’ Steven Jackson (pictured), Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, San Francisco’s Frank Gore and Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew (consensus first-round picks among fantasy draft nerds), are at or near the top in most fantasy categories for running backs.  Schaub, for the most part, was not drafted in many leagues until the later rounds.  The lesson: You can always get a quarterback capable of putting up decent numbers in the later rounds, but top-notch running backs are hard to find.  When a top-notch running back is available, you should snap him up.  Quarterbacks win fantasy games.  Running backs win fantasy championships. And that’s The More You Know.

This Week’s Fantasy Studs: Pierre Thomas, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, Peyton Manning, and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Fantasy Duds: Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme, and the entire rosters of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns.

medium_saints lions dg1173How does one explain the unlikely rise of fantasy football?

Wilfred Winkenbach’s (we are not making that name up) invention may have started as the football stat geek’s answer to Dungeons & Dragons, but it has now, almost inexplicably, become almost as popular as the NFL itself.  And although Winkenbach in the eyes of many a sports-crazed man across the country should be a candidate for sainthood as his brainchild has given them an excuse to follow every single game every Sunday and Monday night, with occasional Thursdays and Saturdays mixed in for good measure, those who do not play fantasy sports are often left shaking their heads and wondering why a co-worker was near tears as he lamented starting Jake Delhomme over Drew Brees (pictured) this week.

That is where we come in.  In our new weekly segment, This Week in Fantasy Football, we will make it our mission to keep you abreast of all the non-happenings in this make-believe world. Never owned a fantasy team, and have no interest in it, but still want to be able to sound like a fantasy genius when chatting at the office?  Check back here every Tuesday.

Now, for a brief introduction to basic fantasy football rules, according to Yahoo!, click here.

Otherwise, a few well-rehearsed lines at the water cooler should make your co-workers green with envy, and if you’re a woman in a particularly sports-frenzied office, may even get you a date.

Water Cooler Cheat Sheet

“Drew Brees was just unbelievable on Sunday.  I can’t believe I got him in the 2nd round!”

The New Orleans Saints quarterback threw six touchdown passes, which has the benefit of being outstanding both in fantasy football and  in real life.  Saying that you were able to nab in the second round makes you look particularly savvy and would also allow you to say:

“Adrian Peterson is such a workhorse.  180 yards and three touchdowns?  That’s just ridiculous.”

Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was the consensus top pick in almost everybody’s fantasy draft and he did not disappoint in his opening day demolition of the Cleveland Browns.  Try not to look smug when delivering this little gem.

Other fantasy studs from this past weekend include: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco, Thomas Edward Brady Jr., and New York Jets tailback Thomas Jones.

Fantasy duds: Carolina Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, Atlanta Falcons tailback Michael Turner, and the Chicago Bears’ tandem of quarterback Jay Cutler and tailback Matt Forte.