Monthly Archives: August 2013

BTL’s Fantasy Football Preview-Part 1- QBs

It’s the most……wonderful time……of the year

The Beginners Intro (seasoned vets can skip ahead)

The fantasy football season is in full swing. We have terms thrown around like mock draft, sleeper, bust, value and crazy deep (nod to matthew berry). As a football purist since 1995 and a die-hard Packers fan for that time, I knew vaguely what fantasy football was about. But as I said earlier, I was a purist. If you’re not rooting for your own team, you’re not a real fan! All that changed in the summer of 2009 I was introduced to my first league by my friend James. He had finished last in his league the year before and wanted me to co-own his team to help him. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew the league well enough to be an asset that year. The rest, as they say is history. I was hooked. I started my own league (4 years running now) with my best friends and have joined countless others. Spreading the word about fantasy football to me is like spreading the gospel to others. I try to encourage as many people as possible to try it at least once. More often than not, it sticks. And why you ask? Its the fundamental principle of control. As fans of teams, we love them to death, but we have no direct control over the games’ outcome. That concept rings true in fantasy, our level of control is increased. We decide what players are on our team, we decide who starts and who sits. If a certain player goes off, well goddmanit it’s because I started him, and not because this certain player is an elite level athlete with off the charts skill sets. Simply put, fantasy football removes the fan hat and puts on the GM cap, we’re in control.

BTL’s Draft Strategy/Positional Strategy 

The Draft. it’s probably the most memorable and also crucial part to your fantasy season. Its a time when you, preferably, gather all of friends around for a live draft. Team jerseys being worn, laptops out, the beer cold and the shit talk flowing. It’s also the birth of your team that you will be managing for the next 3 months for pride and maybe some Benji’s if so fortunate. Anyways every year a player will have a draft strategy they will abide by. Some go by what the experts pass down through popular opinion. Others craft their own strategy, while some mix and match pieces of advice from all comers. Two things to remember here; 1) Be prepared, it’s just like an exam, not being prepared generally means poor performance. 2) Have fun, it’s your team, go by your instinct. While competitive, fantasy football is suppose to be about enjoyment. On to the preview:

(FYI, all advice is for a standard 10 team league)

Quarterbacks: “Good things come to those who wait”

After a couple years of deviation from the norm in the fantasy QB draft strategy, 2013 returns the QB spot to a position of VALUE. It was sexy to pick a QB in the 1st rd in 2011 and 2012. But in the span of two years, the market has been flooded with gobs of talent. In two years we’ve seen Cam Newton, RGIII, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick all be viable top 10 fantasy QBs. Now while we still have the elite tier of Rodgers, Brees, Manning and Brady. The youngsters plus the emergence of Matt Ryan as a possible top 5 producer makes the position probably the top value in fantasy.

Now while our mock drafts and ADP’s (average draft position) suggest it is wise to wait. That doesn’t mean you should let Rodgers or Brees fall out of the 2nd round. Manning out of the 5th so on and so forth. But if you decide to wait on a signal caller, the choices in round 4 and beyond are enticing for one reason. RUNNING YARDS. The league has never had more running/mobile QBs than it does right now.

Think about it, the difference between Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. Yes Ryan threw 32 tds (4 pts/each in standard leagues) compared to Newton’s 19. But Newton also had 8 rushing touchdowns (6 pts each). The X-Factor, Ryan’s rushing yards, 141 and 1 TD. Newton put up 741 and 8. Ryan will average less than a 1 pt/game rushing output, while Newton’s per game rushing totals put him at a 4.6 pts/game output. While Newton doesn’t make up for the passing stats of Ryan, he more than smashes Ryan in every run category by a country mile. Ryan or Newton? I’m going Newton everyday and twice on sunday.

So if you do decide to wait on a QB, make sure you grab one the will run the football. Newton, RGIII, Wilson, Kaep and even Luck will provide you with more total value than say a Ryan, Brady (this year), Romo or Rothlisberger. An extra 3-4 pts a game from your QB can be the difference between a win and a loss. Choose wisely.

BTL QB Ranks:                                                     

1. Aaron Rodgers (2nd Round Value)      

2. Drew Brees (2nd Round Value)

3. Peyton Manning (3rd/4th Round Value)

4. Cam Newton (3rd/4th Round Value)

5. Matt Ryan (5th Round Value)

6. Tom Brady (5th Round Value)

7. Colin Kaepernick (5th/6th Round Value)

8. Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson (7th Round Value) 

9. Matthew Stafford (8th Round Value)

10. Andrew Luck (8th/9th Round Value)


The Top 5 Best Shows on Television- #3

Dire Wolves, White Walkers and Dragons, oh my!

Game of Thrones has hit the pop culture universe like a hurricane. With a healthy dose of fantasy mixed with HBO’s provoking edge. The two realms have meshed with audiences seamlessly. You don’t need to be a toting member of the book series to fall for Thrones. And that’s the beauty of it. Half the fan base is the loyal guard to what the books have already laid forth and the other half is the TV audience who treat Thrones as solely a show and not the embodiment of J.R.R Martin’s literary vision. Either way, the magic that Game of Thrones delivers is still the same. It’s a show for the fantasy novice and the hardcore alike. With a storyline that includes the adult version of King Arthurs Court, mystical creatures that would hail from a Lord of the Rings movie, along with possible monster zombies a fowl in the North. Thrones offers everything under the sun in the 7 Kingdoms. This isn’t your typical fairy tale world. Let me explain.

If there’s one stronghold that Thrones can hang their hat on, it’s their unpredictable storyline. To sum it up into one line, Arya Stark said it best (1 min mark).

From season 1 all the way through season 3. Thrones has always kept everybody on their toes. Ned Stark (Arya’s father) proved to the audience at the tailor end of season 1 that the show will even behead it’s main character to serve the plot. Time and again Thrones has proved the point, never get comfortable with a character. In season 1 we were turned on our heads with the beheading of Ned Stark. In season 2, Renly Baratheon was killed by something resembling a killer black ghost. In season 3, well………….why don’t you see for yourselves.

If one Stark’s death couldn’t hammer the point home. Rob’s most certainly did. The audience’s favorite family of the Starks, once strong and proud, has been nearly obliterated from the map. There will be no sack of Casterly Rock, no march on King’s Landing, no Stark to sit upon the Iron Throne. We don’t know what’s in store for the future, but there is one thing we are crystal clear on going forward. No one is far from death’s grasp, no one is safe.

While it took HBO a little while to get the full effect of CGI into the 7 realms. Thrones gauntlet of characters and their interweaving stories more than made up for the lack of war battles, white walkers and dragons that the show promised when it premiered. In fact, as a decent judge of modern day television. The only show that could go toe to toe with Thrones’ character list is an HBO legend, The Wire. But even the Baltimore drama didn’t throw this many characters at you.

To pick the best ones would be like picking a best season of Breaking Bad, they’re all great. The notable ones though must be considered for the range of roles. Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage), the imp of Westeros, the smallest and yet most underestimated man in the 7 Kingdoms. The progression of his character from family outcast/dunkard Lannister, is quite remarkable. His ability to play “the game” as good or better than anyone in King’s Landing earned him an Emmy nod in the second season of Thrones. His performance in “Blackwater”, so far is his crowning achievement of the series. Although his drunken wedding night was another gem.

Of course I would be remissed if I didn’t mention the best acting job in this series. Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. Well done Emilia Clarke, well freaking done. Daenerys has ascended through the ranks like a prized knight in the King’s Guard. We first saw her as simple eye candy and a naive little girl who was just a pawn in her brothers scheme to take back the 7 Kingdoms. But the more we watched her, the stronger she became. She tamed a Khal, she killed her brother and she became the Mother of Dragons. At every turn, men of power have underestimated her. And at every turn, they have felt her wrath.

As an audience I believe her dragons are the reason why we tune into Thrones. But it’s not just her dragons though, but Daenerys Targaryen herself. She seems to be the last person of power who still has a good heart and a true rightful claim to the throne. She is also the lone woman of power in the show. She exhibits for the majority of the series that a woman can be strong and independant, especially in a time and place where women are expected to be subservient. She might be the best chance Westeros has at a fair ruler. But we all know the catch. She is still separated by a barrier of ocean from the Iron Throne. All of us know the endgame. Question is, how long will it take Daenerys and her ever growing army to land on the shores of Kings Landing? If there will be a Kings Landing left to attack that is. With Game of Thrones finishing their 3rd season this past June, the threat of the North is very real. Will the 7 Kingdoms unite in a common stand against the White Walkers from beyond The Wall? Will Joffrey and the Lannisters be forced to have to fight a two-front war from the Walkers of the North and the Dragons of the South? What will become of what’s left of the Starks? What about Stannis and Melisandre?

All these are valid questions. Some of these may be answered in Game of Thrones Season 4. But all these are reasons why Thrones sits in the Top 5. While it’s not the king of television, it’s very good in its own right.


Breaking Bad Recap 5.09- Blood Money



It nearly took a full year but Breaking Bad is back and better than ever. This past Sunday’s episode was explosive right out of the gates. We were treated to yet another flash forward that showed Walt; bearded, with hair and with a deadly edge to his persona. We as an audience have known from Season 1 that there was an endgame for Walt and it was going to be messy. But to have part of the visual to this endgame shown in the two flash forward’s (Season 5- Live Free or Die and Blood Money), just gives me the chills. Only our imagination can somewhat contemplate what is going to happen and even then it still drives us crazy.

The Flash Forawrd

After a slow intro of skaters shredding in an empty pool, we see the White’s residence as a shell of itself (much like Walt’s appearance above). Windows boarded up, graffiti tags on the house and decay everywhere. We see a familiar red car pull up to the front, Walt comes out, surveys the destruction that is his former house. Perhaps he’s surveying the destruction his actions brought to his life, his household, all in the name of family. Whatever has happened up till this point in the flash forward, it hints that actions Walt and the persona of Heisenberg are very much public knowledge……

The flash forward continues as Walt walks through his house to the bedroom. He eyes the outlet plug. It’s the plug where he hid the last of the Ricin. Who will he use it on? Hank, the cartel, Jesse? He sits and stares at himself in the mirror, as if contemplating his plans. He’s come this far, almost trying to convince himself he needs to go “that place” to finish the job. What that job is, I will not even try to pretend that I have a clue. He walks out to the car, closes the trunk and notices his neighbor is looking at him, frozen in fear and disbelief. He turns, as she has a petrified look on her face. “Hello Carol”, she drops her grocery bags.

I wracked my brain countless times to try and piece together the first flash forward in Live Free or Die. It was a puzzle I had no chance of solving. So I’ll be short and sweet with my thoughts on this latest teaser. One can only grasp from this that Walt has come back to Albuquerque to finish something. After all, he is Lambert from New Hampshire. He has changed his whole identity, he in a sense escaped the clutches of Albuquerque. So why return? He has some sort of unfinished business. Is it to finally settle his predicament or maybe, just maybe he’s here to save someone who couldn’t make it out. Either way, he’ll be equipped with an M60 and some Ricin.

Present Day

The episode starts right where Gliding All Over left off. Hank just paralyzed in disbelief. He hides the book, zombie-walks outside. The symbolism of Marie saying, “he’s the devil” as Hank comes to the table is just piercing as we see Walt/Heisenberg in his facade as father and family man. Hank has to leave, he is sick to his stomach both literally and figuratively. He speeds off in a daze and nearly crashes the car as he has a panic attack.

The emotions of Hank are almost too many to count. We all knew that Hank would find out, We all knew it wouldn’t go well. But how would ASAC Schrader play this. Hank might have just had his “oh shit” moment on the crapper but he played it very well, or at least as well as he could have. He’s just opened Pandora’s Box and now has to deal with the truth. But this also gives Hank a second chance. Let’s face it, Hank and the DEA had all but dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on the Fring’s operation at the tail end of last season. Only to have Walt, like he has done time and again, pull the rug out from under Hank’s feet. The massacre of all of Fring’s employees and their lawyer nearly devastated Hank. He’ll be playing this one close to the vest, almost as if this is his last shot. No mistakes this time.

Walt has no idea and as far as he is concerned, is about to start the car wash chapter of his life. Lydia makes an appearance at the A1 car wash, practically begging Walt to come back. She mentions something about 68%. As if that relates to her meth purity or drop off in business I’m not too sure. Whatever it is, other factors require Walt’s help. An already unstable person in Lydia is coming off really, really desperate. Walt dismisses Lydia, Skyler inquires about her. In a rare turn of the truth, Walt tells her exactly what had happened. Skylers confronts Lydia in cold blunt manner, “Leave and don’t ever come back, ever”.

Jesse is stuck. Wether that’d be in his house, life or in his own head. Badger and Skinny provide the comedic relief as always. But Pinkman has other plans. A visit to Saul reveals he feels guilty about his money and the people he has hurt in the way. Hence the title Blood Money. Jesse will see to it that little Kaylee Erhmantraut and the family of Drew Sharp(the kid who got shot at the end of Dead Freight) get there due ($2.5 million each) because Jesse feels unworthy. Walt tries to ease his mind later but to no avail. Jesse is sick to himself, he knows all too well who he is, who he’s been in business with and the bloody truth behind Walt since he left the operation. For a potential loose end, Walter stills shows an understanding and soft spot for Jesse. He is not in the least bit concerned of Jesse’s state of mind…… But maybe he would if he saw Pinkman littering the ABQ one $10K stack at a time.

I will tell you one thing, Breaking Bad isn’t afraid to be bold. I would’ve have been satisfied if the inevitable Hank/Walt confrontation happened in the middle of the season. But Vince Gilligan threw that at us in the first freaking episode. Walt notices the Whitman’s Leaves of Grass gone from the toilet area (side note, Walt’s cancer is back). One has to wonder for a man being so careful, why would he leave such an incriminating piece of the puzzle in public view, even if its the master bathroom. Walt connects the dots and his suspicion is confirmed as he finds a bug under his car. Game Set Match

Like I said before, we would’ve been fine if the episode ended there. But with only 7 episodes left, this shit is happening now. Hank is scouring through files and pictures and more files as he sees Walt drives up. Hank clears all the files away, Walter enters the garage. Both dance around the truth, speaking in vague interest in each other lives as each size one another up. Walt is about to leave, and then he gets that look, the same look he had before he chased after Mike and he killed him (Buyout). Walt pulls the bug out and confronts Hank point blank about it. Hank closes the garage, as the anger is boiling over. Hank snaps on Walt, years of frustration and days of betrayal come out at once as he punches Walt, throws him against the garage. Throwing out every accusation he’s tied Heisenberg and now Walt to. Walter denies it as if to spit it all back in Hanks face. While not confirming what was just said, Walt sure as hell doesn’t deny it. He lets Hank know that the cancer is back and IF convicted, he’s be dead before the jail cell could even close. He intimates he’s a car wash owner who is dying of cancer. IF these accusations are true, is it really worth it considering the time he has left. Hank stares back in disbelief. And then it hits him, for a man he called a friend and a brother-in-law, he states he has no idea who Walter White is anymore. A request to bring Skyler and the kids to the safety of the Schrader household is denied by Walter. As both men stare daggers into each other, Heisenberg utters his first threat. “If you really don’t know who I am, I would tread lightly”.