Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fantasy Football - Week 7

One of the downsides of taking Cimzia is that it weakens the immune system. I've been a bit congested lately and I thought it was probably allergies, so I opted to take this month's dosage. This morning, woke up with a scratchy throat and now I've got the sniffles - guess I was fighting off a cold after all. I feel as if an elephant is sitting on my head.

In my continuing efforts to be consistent, let's talk about fantasy football instead of snot.

NFL League. I won, so that puts me at 4 - 3. But it wasn't pretty.

Click to see full size. 
Well, if the Bengals had a bad game, at least the Bears did better. Truly, Drew Brees (and the Viking defense) pulled me out of this one - and I feel comfortable starting him for the rest of the season. I thought to hold onto Christian Ponder to prevent someone else from picking him up - but he did so miserably that I dropped him in order to put in a waiver request for LaRod Stephens-Howling, who had a great game. The Cardinals have a decent defense, but their QB and offensive line are just falling apart this season. The way it seems to work is that the less talent you have at QB, the more you rely on the running game. Howling is as good a guess as any at this point, and BJGE has not scored a TD in 3 or 4 games now.

Also, my kicker is going on a bye week, so I put in a waiver request to pick up Robbie Gould.

All in all, going into the final stretch, I'm feeling confident. Once AJ Green comes back from the bye (this week), I should be in great shape. I'm in 3rd place in this league, behind two teams that are 5-2, so I'm only one game out.

Meanwhile, in the ESPN League, I took a thrashing.

Click to Enlarge and thus be able to mock me.
The biggest problem with this week was that the bye weeks forced me to rely too much upon the Bengals and that just went poorly. All my Bengals had their worst (fantasy) game of the year, more or less. Also, my bench did way better than I would have guessed - not enough to have won, unfortunately. Analysts were saying that the Panther defense was a sleeper and that the Giants defense would be in trouble against RG3. Boy were they wrong. I think I was right to be nervous about LaFell, Santana Moss was a lucky pickup, and I didn't expect Andre Roberts to do so well against the Vikings. But I'm rather pleased with my bench and it gives me some trading power (at the time of this writing, I've dropped the Panthers defense and picked up Pierre Thomas at RB).

Now my top receiver goes on bye this week. However, there's active trading in this game, so I'm going to try and fill my deficit at the RB position by trading away a little of my strength at WR. Because, as of right now, I have the #1 and the #6 WR's and after this week, they won't have any byes. My QB has already had his - I'm sitting pretty for the rest of the season after this week. I'm weak on the TE position and I've got no depth at RB, so I can't play the matchups.

This league will be much harder to make the playoffs. I'm 3-4 now and the top two opponents are 6-1. Based on Peyton Manning's return from a bye week this week and AJ Green coming back next week, I should be able to win from here on out, with decent play at the flex position. It'd be nice if Danny Amendola makes a return before then. But if those top guys don't get some losses, I'd say I'm out of contention.

We'll see what happens. Off to down some Vitamin C.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Collection Reflection - wk of October 20 2012

A few months ago, after my near-death experience, I decided that I needed a solid alternative/retirement plan. It's not that I don't have great faith in my writing - it's that publishing is a hard business to break into, and I wanted an alternative 'win strategy', as it's called in Magic: The Gathering.

Essentially, I wanted a hobby that would pay off in 20 years or so. I'm confident that my health will hold up until then, but I'm also realistic about what my limitations will be after a colon resection, when I start to get near to 60.

Initially, I began with Magic: The Gathering. I have accumulated a healthy bit of cards in 2 years, but I don't play much - so, as noted in my update post, I'm just striving to complete the sets, 4 of each ideally, with more than that in cards that have value beyond bulk pricing (as per starcitygames.com).

For my birthday, I got an amazon gift certificate, so I used that to get the new Duel Deck (Izzet vs Golgari) and then a 1000 card deal. Unfortunately, the 1000 card bulk deal wasn't all that impressive, and I forgot to set aside the rares / higher value cards.

Izzet vs Golgari - Because you can never really go wrong with a Foil legendary creature.

Although, I will admit, the 1000 card deal had a bunch of 3rd/Revised cards with it. I may have to save up and get some more 9 pocket pages, and add Revised to my inventory. As of right now, Revised are the oldest cards I have in my collection. 

Also for my birthday, I got a money card from Mom (my Mom rules), so I did indulge in a Return to Ravnica Fat Pack. (Normally, I pick up a booster box for each release, but times are tough, so that's gotta wait.) 

I haven't valued / inventoried Return to Ravnica yet, so here's a few that caught my eye. 

Ironic, since I already have one of these from the Duel Deck.
I do like Green. Not White so much. I wonder sometimes if the cards I find are trying to tell me something.

I don't think this card's going anywhere anytime soon. Plus, I got one in Foil. 

My collection plan has a 3 prong attack. The third prong is signed photographs. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten any, yet. But I am following a bunch of playboy models on twitter. LOL. This is one of those things I'm keeping in the back of my mind; investing in social icons is slightly more speculative. Still, if I accumulate 1000 signed photos in the next 20 years, that's going to be worth something. (But getting 50 a year would be awfully expensive, that's one a week, and they average about $50 each). I'm still in the planning stages, let's say. 

Which brings us to Tier 2, football cards. This has basically boiled down to picking up cards on a whim and sticking them in penny sleeves and putting them in a box. My roommate has hundreds (thousands?) of cards, and most of them are either autograph and/or jersey (memorabilia) cards. I'm following three teams this year: Miami, Tampa and Carolina. 

When I started off, I focused on finding Cam Newton rookie cards, but as the year went on, the good cards were already out of my price range. But, as I pointed out recently, I paid attention to the draft and the analysts this year. Truly, while there are some veterans that are great - the last two draft classes, particularly in QB's, has been pretty awesome. It's still possible to go out and pick up a 2011 pack and get lucky. Which  I do on occasion. 

But, for the most part, when so inclined, I scour EBay for good 'lot' deals and take my chances. I recently sold a bulk pack of Magic cards, so I had a few bucks to spend. I grabbed these: 

Ryan Tannehill rookie numbered Jersey cards. 
He's getting better with each game, plain and simple. The last rookie QB that the Dolphins drafted in the first round? Dan Marino. I know there's not a lot of Dolphins fans out there in the universe, but Tannehill is smart, stays poised under pressure and can take a hit. He doesn't repeat mistakes. Yes, he's still learning, but his passer rating is high and consistent. You really can't want more out of a rookie quarterback. Those cards might be the best $14 I ever spent. 

I spent the rest of my Ebay sales on another bulk pack, so we'll see if it shows up next week and if there aren't some good cards in there. Until the next, have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fantasy Football - Week 6

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I have a couple of Fantasy Football leagues. I suspect that serializing these posts would make more sense and be more interesting (from a historical and progression perspective), but that's not going to happen.

Let's dive right in.

NFL League. This league is completely random. I don't know any of my opponents. I just got tired of seeing the ads to join their FFL so I joined.
Carolina Coyotes (3-3). Here's how this weekend went.

Click to enlarge

I got lucky, because my high scoring guys did poorly. But my opponent did worse, by leaving 50 points on the bench. I watch NFL Fantasy Live daily, and they were pretty enthusiastic about Christian Ponder, so I went with him while Drew Brees was on a bye week.

Since my defense goes on a bye, I'm going for the Cleveland Defense on waiver wire pickup. Joe Haden's return changes their usefulness. Along those lines, with my receiver core doing so poorly, I'm dropping Davone Bess and Martellus Bennett and going to try and pick up Mike Williams. I'll stick with Drew Brees for the rest of the season - but I'm going to hold onto Ponder so that no one else can pick him up.

ESPN League - Gridiron Battlegrounds. Carolina (Kickin YoAss) Coyotes. This one is more meaningful to me - there's some good friends involved in this league. They are also die-hard, experienced fantasy players who know way more than I do about players and stats. I'm 3-3 in this league as well.

Here was my last game. You're going to see some of the same players; I've traded and picked up and waived players somewhat sporadically, in both leagues, up to this point.

Click to enlarge

I'm a big Miami fan, in case you couldn't tell. I thought that with Daniel Thomas out (concussion) that Lamar Miller would provide relief for Reggie Bush. I expected the Rams to be strong against the pass - I didn't expect them to stop the run and for Miami to get run over by Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson. 

Fortunately, I caught a break with AJ Green having an amazing night against the Browns (which was somewhat predictable - it was shocking that the Browns won), and then I clinched it with Peyton Manning's Monday night performance. Also noteworthy, if my opponent had played Greene (Jets) and Hakeem Nicks instead of Michael Crabtree, he would have won. 

This league doesn't have waiver wire priority (like NFL does), so earlier today, I made the following trades. I dropped Lamar Miller, picked up Brandon Gibson (someone has to replace Amendola). Dropped Dennis Pitta and picked up Anthony Fasano (with Miami going on a bye week, this may have been a mistake. It just seemed to me that Tannehill finally found some chemistry with Fasano, and Fasano was reliable clinch scoring last year). Lastly, I dropped Davone Bess and picked up Santana Moss. 

This league is much more active and competitive, and the waiver wire is seriously slim pickings. With Miami going on bye, and Chicago coming off their bye week, I'm feeling pretty good about my matchup this week. I've got Andy Dalton starting, and when you consider he's got the #1 receiver in the league in Green, it's not a terrible choice, despite the Steelers being a decent team. Coming off that loss to the Browns should hopefully be inspiring. I'm wavering a bit on Brandon LaFell - I gained him in a trade (for Eric Decker - I'm so kicking myself now), unless someone catches my eye, I'm going to see how he does as #2 receiver in Carolina this week. At some point, the Panthers will get it together, but sooner would be better than later. 

I'm increasingly anxious at the TE position, in both leagues, and I just dropped Antonio Gates this past in one of the leagues (and Jermichael Finley in the other). The RB position is pretty much blind faith at this point. 

First post on this topic - not sure what to elaborate on or what to omit, so I'll leave it there.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Update October 2012

A few days ago, I glanced over here and realized it's been over 3 months since I've posted. Tsk. Things evolve, circumstances happen, and to be completely honest, I'm not sure what I want to do with this writing space. In the meantime, a brief summary that I can use to springboard into other posts.

Catalyst: I got my first rejection for Catalyst. It's psychologically useful to point out that all authors get rejected. You may recall that earlier in the year I was trying to streamline and edit and chop up the manuscript, to make it more submission-friendly. Tempo. However, if I'm going to be honest with myself, the truth is that I write pastoral fantasy. There's really no reason to believe that readers of the fantasy genre are not going to be able to handle additional complexity and details, so long as they add to the richness of the story. I feel that I scrubbed away too much, and in so doing, couldn't compete with either the meandering epics or the fast-paced page turners.

Ironically, it was suggested to me before, through Beta readers, when I complained about word count. Why not turn it into two books? "No, no, all the agents and publishers want fast and furious pacing." Says the man who read Rothfuss this year, who has seen A Song of Ice and Fire spend the year on the NY Times best seller list. To be revisited... there's a lot more story to tell. I think I'm going to have to embrace it, not run from it.

Health: I've been taking Cimzia for my Crohn's Disease for a few months now. It appears to be working, although I have struggled with weight loss, appetite loss and food sensitivity on and off for the past month or so. The stress of some things in my personal life has been unfriendly towards my recovery. However, on the upside - I was facing a 90% chance of intestinal surgery in May, and I am confident I have managed to escape the possibility for the near foreseeable future.

Personal: Circumstances, expectations and health issues have rippled outwards to make things pretty uncomfortable and stressful this year. I started a new job a couple weeks ago, which will alleviate some of the concerns. I reached out to family, in my efforts to be a better person and not a hermit on a hill. Not everything has turned out the way that I thought I wanted, but in the process I have learned more about myself and the areas in which I need to improve as a human being.

Magic the Gathering: My MTG post is my most-viewed post on this blog. And I haven't written about it since. Thing is, the only time I play is on my PS3. The friend who got me into MTG - ended up selling me his collection. So, moving forward, for the time being, I'm approaching MTG as a Vorthos and a collector. I've made it my goal to acquire at least one of every card printed - and then in 10 or 20 years, I'm going to sell my collection and retire.

Later today, you'll find a new page where I'm going to track my progress. As it stands now, I have cards from nearly every set (except Alpha and Beta). However, I only inventory and track what I have when the quantity of individual cards reaches a decent amount. So, for instance, I may have 50 cards of a 350 card set in a box on the shelf - but that wouldn't be worth the time and effort to put them into protector sheets while accounting for unacquired cards. I do a full inventory (of what I have and don't have), when the cards in the box reach a certain quantity threshold beyond a handful of commons.

Fantasy Football: This is the first year I've played fantasy football. Man, am I hooked. When I was in the hospital, I was bedridden and pretty much watched all 60 hours of the draft. Ha! I only work part time, so all summer I've been glued to the NFL network, their website, absorbing data. My friends? They still know more than me - I simply haven't paid attention to football in such a long time, that it's quite an effort to close the knowledge gap.

I'm in a league on NFL.com and ESPN.com - and I'm not doing too badly - so maybe once a week I'll post my FFL progress and thinking.

Reading Journal: I haven't been doing a lot of reading for enjoyment, which I -know- plays a role in my writing productivity. As well as my command of language. For me, reading a good book inspires the stories in my head. I won't make any promises here, not yet. But I believe that as I settle into the new job and new circumstances, that I will finish off my TBR pile and pick up a few more.

And that's it. For now.

What's new with you?