Fantasy Football Week 4 – Farewell to the Hot Mess Replacement Refs

By M3Swagger

I have secrets to happiness: 1. learn from history, don’t relive it; 2. evaluate media and crowd consensus, then do the opposite; and 3. tolerate entertainment, but do not take it seriously.

I have another secret: I liked the replacement referees. They were a hot mess whose chaos, confusion and controversy made the game much more interesting.

If you had the foresight to add the Seahawks’ Golden Tate, who “scored” a replacement referee-aided touchdown, and if you already had the Ravens’ Ray Rice, who received “extra carries” after a replacement referee-aided phantom penalty, then you too are among those who liked the replacements.

Last week, a broadcaster said the replacements’ mistakes harmed the integrity of the game. Integrity? Pro football is entertainment, period. The image created by the late, great NFL Films mogul Steve Sabol was nice, but not 100% real. For every touching Torrey Smith story, there are 10 police blotter reports to the contrary. If you ever meet an NFL player in a non-league sanctioned event, brace yourself to receive worse treatment than did Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt’s character in the 2009 movie “Big Fan”).

As for real fantasy football (oxymoron intended), week 4 is as promising as a phantom penalty flag that won’t be thrown when your team’s running back breaks into the open field.

The value of Bengals’ receiver Andrew Hawkins has risen substantially due to two straight productive weeks and because quarterback Andy Dalton has found a groove. But that is for those who look back. If you look ahead to games with Jacksonville, Miami and Cleveland, then this acquisition it worthwhile.

The same cannot be said for the Giants’ running back Andre Brown, who will be limited when Ahmad Bradshaw returns. While on the topic of the Giants, the moment Hakeem Nicks is healthy, drop Rasmes Barden. He made the most of his opportunity, now move on.

The Cardinals’ defensive surge ought to continue against the banged-up Dolphins. Many have claimed Daniel Thomas off waivers in fear of Reggie Bush’s injury. That is all speculative at this time and, if all goes as expected, the running game will be the last thing on the Dolphins’ collective minds by about the 12 minute mark of the third quarter.

Need more running back insurance? Consider the following pickups: the Jets’ Bilal Powell, the Bills’ Tashard Choice, the Cards’ Ryan Williams, and the Lions’ Mikel Leshore or Joique Bell.

The Johnson Watch is easy on the eyes for owners of Stevie, Andre and at long last Calvin. But Chris is being stared upon like an accident scene. He is a mystery that causes heads to shake. One can either hold on to him, and hope that his day is coming, or trade him now – if anyone will bite.

The Vikings shocked the 49ers last week and are about to be shocked back to earth by a Lions’ onslaught. Any silver-and-blue-clad offensive player is apt to erupt this week, but my choices are CJ and Nate Burleson. Are you worried about the health of Lions’ QB Matt Stafford? Maybe he is OK – he has reportedly practiced this week – but having his backup Shaun Hill is not too bad a safety net. As for the Vikings, many owners are focused on tight end Kyle Rudolph, but the high-flying Jerome Simpson has landed. He returns from a suspension and could make an impact in the weeks ahead.

Bills’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has to be the key in this week’s matchup with the Patriots. With a ground game that is a little banged up, he will have to produce big numbers to keep pace with Tom Brady.

Please note the bye weeks have begun, so don’t allow your team to be shorthanded. Also, use the waiver wire to its limits. There is that steady, year-long talent that you drafted, and then there is a pool of one-game wonders to be found and discarded.

Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the level of anger among analysts, fans, coaches and players that will now focus on the regular refs, who will not be much better. In the future, none of this will matter because levitating drone refs resembling striped waste cans will patrol the field and announce penalties in an annoying monotone or, worse, the Siri iPhone voice.

They will process feeds from 1,000 cameras focused on every angle of each play, review video and render accurate calls within seconds. That is the only way to eliminate human error, but who wants that? Oh, their only weakness is that they could be hacked by a computer geek (maybe played in a movie by Patton Oswalt) who wants to win at fantasy football because he was once bullied by real football players. But that is another story. By the way, any budding science fiction writers or computer engineers must realize that I expect royalties for this concept.


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