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Stop me if you’ve heard this before: an NFL team is on its way to a huge win when a goofy rule/blown call/dumb penalty costs said team the game. Always in the most infuriating way imaginable. Sounds familiar, right? Well, if it feels like we’re talking about asinine calls having an outside impact on who wins and loses every other week in the NFL, let me assure you, we are. This week’s disaster du jour befell the beyond terrible actually somewhat competitive Jets who, if we’re being honest, don’t need the league’s help in making their fans miserable.

In the play above Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins appears to score a touchdown that would bring the underdog Jets in range for a shocking upset against their archnemesis Patriots. Naturally that’s not what happened. The touchdown was reviewed, as all touchdowns are, and not only was the score taken off the board but the ball was also awarded to the Patriots.

Seriously, what? We’re going to need to watch that video again.

Okay, so as he’s approaching and/or crossing the goal line, Seferian-Jenkins clearly loses the ball. He also, just as clearly, comes up with it after completing the catch.1 It’s what happens in the middle that sent Jets fans into hysteria. Since the call on the field was a touchdown, in order to overturn the call, referee there needed to be definitive proof that Seferian-Jenkins did not have possession of the ball when he went out of bounds. Definitive proof is exactly what the league’s officials determined that they had. So the Jets’ touchdown was wiped from the scoreboard and the ball was given to the Patriots at the 25 yard line.

Alex Schillinger: I think the response to Amari Cooper’s 2017 season has been a collective, “What the fuck?” In his first two seasons as a pro, Cooper caught over 150 balls for over 2,100 yards while pulling down 11 TDs. But this year…this year he’s been plain awful.

Mike Bergsman: Awful is an understatement. The crazy thing is he’s actually not been good for quite a while. His last game over 100 yards receiving was in Week 8 of last year. So it’s been 13 games played, and almost a year in real time, since Cooper last broke 100 yards. That’s nuts. Since that last big game, he’s amassed 44 receptions for 484 yards and four touchdowns. That’s only worth 8.95 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues! There’s only one logical conclusion here. Amari Cooper is past his prime. He’s getting old and he just can’t do what he used–wait…he’s only 23? Okay maybe that’s not it.

Alex: It’s not like he doesn’t have skill. He’s proven he can be one of the top fantasy WRs in the league. He’s got character, a strong work ethic and no real injuries.1 Sure he’s dropped a few balls but, c’mon, that can’t be his only issue, can it? He’s not even getting targeted in the first place. Wait…

Look, I know I’m not the numbers guy here but I did some digging. Oakland is averaging seven fewer passing attempts per game than they did last year. My guess: it’s because of their (suddenly, surprisingly) piss poor line. Right now, they are on pace to allow more than twice as many sacks than they did all of last season. That’s disastrous and it’s not like the running game is helping them out at all either. They’re averaging a pedestrian2 4.2 yards per attempt and 30 yards per game fewer than what they ground out3 last year. Honestly, I don’t know that Cooper is the problem…the Raiders kinda suck.

Mike: You’re definitely onto something with the whole Raiders-sucking concept and the numbers back you up. Cooper’s getting targeted 6.6 times per week in 2017, compared to 8.2 per game in 2016. Looking back to Week 9 in 2016, across that miserable 13-game stretch, he’s averaged 6.5 targets per game. That’s really low usage and it’s been going on long enough to suggest that no change is imminent. As a point of reference, Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins, number one and two in targets so far this year, have been targeted 12.8 and 12.2 targets per game, respectively.

Cooper has been targeted outrageously little in the last 13 games but even when he has been targeted, he’s been ineffective, catching only 52.3% of the passes thrown his way. Hopkins has a catch rate of 57.3% with Brown at 62.5%. Is this another Raiders-sucking problem? Well, Raiders wideout Michael Crabtree is catching 79.1% of catches so far this year meaning this one falls squarely on Cooper.

This feels insane to say but here we are: Cooper is not even worth starting as a flex option at this point in what has been an unbelievably bad stretch for him. Even worse, it’s hard to imagine him turning things around given his porous offensive line, poor QB play,4 and lack of a running game. With that being said, he’s still got all that talent that made him so great in the past and his owner is probably dying to give him away. He could be worth a flyer as a trade target if you’re willing to take on some risk.

Maybe I’m not being fair. You drafted him; what do you think , Gollumpus?

Alex: I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s not worth keeping him on your roster. He’s still the top WR on a team that’s not the Cleveland Browns. That still counts for something. Sure, he’s getting hounded by the press about his abissmal hands which, you know, is never good, but I don’t think he’s done for just yet. He’ll do fine this year once Carr is back to 100%. I say that this year-long slump is mostly bad luck and worse circumstance. He’s due to bounce back soon enough, so I think Cooper’s still a good Flex play going forward.

Kareem Hunt and Todd Gurley are back at it again in this week’s PPGAR rankings, though their leads have narrowed significantly as the season has gone on. After scoring 45.6, 25.9 and 25.3 points in each of the first three weeks of the season, Hunt has actually “slowed down” amassing only 16.1 and 14.6 points in the last two weeks (which is still pretty damn good).

In other PPGAR news, Leonard Fournette has been a delightful surprise this year on a fairly stagnant offense. It’s possible his numbers will pull back to the pack a bit as teams hone in on the run against Jacksonville and dare Blake Bortles to throw on them. Out wide, DeAndre Hopkins might be back, you guys. Remember what a beast he was in 2014 and 2015? Well, this year he’s been a target machine on a surprisingly efficient offense in Houston even if he’s another slow-down candidate as defenses learn Deshaun Watson’s tendencies.1

Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence attended an NFL national anthem performance in Indianapolis. Typically, this would imply that he watched the football game that followed but in this ridiculous stupid maddening curious instance it does not. Because, as soon as the anthem – for which several visiting 49ers players kneeled – was over, Pence exited stage left and he did so with a purpose.

How the hell does something like this even happen? Well, the official story is that Pence, the former governor of Indiana, simply happens to be a devoted Colts fan attending a game that featured a ceremony to honor Colts icon Peyton Manning; upon seeing football players kneeling during the anthem, the vice president’s delicate sensibilities were so offended that he had to abruptly leave the game in protest. Of course, it would be hard not to notice that Pence chose to attend a game featuring a 49ers team that has consistently embraced the kneeling protest that their former quarterback Colin Kaepernick started, and also that Pence was able to release a pretty polished statement almost immediately after leaving the game. Along with some other info, this seems to indicate that this was a premeditated PR stunt. None of which addresses the fact that vice president is willfully misinterpreting the players’ protest: they’re not protesting the flag or the military, they’re protesting police brutality against African Americans, a fact not lost on the significant number of veterans who have openly identified Kaepernick’s behavior as being exactly the kind of thing they serve to protect.

Every league’s got one. Someone who can’t figure out why everyone else in the league doesn’t talk to them anymore. Someone who, for 16 weeks out of the year,1 is simply unbearable. The person whose fantasy takes are so stupidly, scorchingly hot that having your knees blown out by Vontaze Burfict seems preferable to listening to them. I repeat: every league’s got one. Which means that if you’re thinking, “That doesn’t sounds like anyone in my league,” then guess what, bro? It’s you. You’re that guy. But don’t fret, we at The Read Option have got you covered. The most insufferable fantasy players come in five varieties and here’s how you can make sure you’re not a single one of them.

5. The “If I Woulda Started” Guy

We get it. There’s nothing worse than losing your matchup by a few points only to find that the guy you drafted in the fourteenth round and promptly forgot about managed to put up 22 points like he was possessed by the fantasy ghost of LaDainian Tomlinson. That’s a tough loss to take but, dude, shut up about it. No one likes a whiny loser. Plus, there’s a reason you didn’t start Cole Beasley over Amari Cooper and it’s because Cooper is way better.2

How to avoid it: Don’t look at your bench and, more importantly, don’t talk about your bench. It can only cause grief. If you find yourself staring down the barrel of a loss, close your computer and forget about your entire team.3

4. The Ridiculous Trade Guy

Enough is enough. I get why you’re proposing ridiculously lopsided trades but seriously, stop. No one is going to trade you a top 10 RB for your second string QB. Sure, there are going to be times when a player is struggling and their owner might be willing to listen to trade offers just to shake things up but make sure that what you’re offering at least approximates equal value. Your preposterously uneven trade offers make you seem like a condescending asshole who thinks your leaguemates are a bunch of dumb yokels who’ve never seen one of them there foosball games before. Keep this shit up and soon enough you’ll find yourself blacklisted so that people won’t even bother opening up your trade offers. Then what, trade master? Then what?

How to avoid it: You can use math and trade analyzers if you really want to aim for fair trades but your best friend here is straight up common sense. Stop overvaluing your players and you might find that people stop hating you. Hell, you might even make a few trades once in a while.

3. The “I’m Undefeated In My Other League” Guy

Oh really? Cool. No one cares. Just because you’re tearing it up in some mythical league no one else is in, doesn’t mean you’ve gained any more cred in this league where, coincidentally, you’re getting your ass beat week in and week out. This is the fantasy sports equivalent of bragging about your hot girlfriend who lives in Canada.

How to avoid it: Stop bringing up your other leagues. We’re starting to think they’re not real, anyway.

2. The “I Won The Whole Thing X Years Ago” Guy

Remember that year you drafted LaDainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander and Marvin Harrison? Good for you. No one else does. Nor does anyone care to hear about it. The thing about fantasy is that everyone plays in a couple of leagues4 and that each of those leagues anoints a champion every single year. You’re not special because you won your office league in 2007, Derek.

“Seriously, don’t be that guy. The one up there.” – Shaun Alexander

How to avoid it: The only year that matters in fantasy is the current year. Any past seasons are moot at this point. You wanna brag? Make your team unstoppable this season. Otherwise, just shut up already.

1. The Champion

Let’s be real. No one likes the champion. With their smug disposition, their air of undeserved accomplishment, their…oh God, please just let me win it this year.

Here’s how to avoid it: Don’t. Win the whole damn thing and bask in the glory of every single person in the league hating you for the next several months. The greatest reward in fantasy isn’t prize money or a stupid trophy. No. The greatest reward in fantasy is seeing the utter, crushing defeat on everyone else’s faces once they have to crown you champion. Bask in that shit. At least until next year starts.5

A week after benefitting from the institutional incompetence of the Detroit Lions1 the Atlanta Falcons found themselves on the other side of a victory-swinging cock-up against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. When Bills defensive lineman Jerry Hughes tackled Matt Ryan from behind in the third quarter, the ball was jarred loose and returned by Bills corner Tre’Davious White for a touchdown. The Bills would ultimately prevail over the Falcons by six points so this touchdown was absolutely the difference in this game. The problem, of course, is that replays clearly show that Matty Ice has incredible finger strength: the ball may have shifted in his hand but he never lost control until his arm was moving forward. That means that this was an incomplete pass and that the Falcons absolutely got screwed. But this – the most recent example of the never-ending fumble vs. incomplete pass shitshow – is boring NFL incompetence. We can do better.

Well, Marquette King can do better.

Another week, another Kareem Hunt explosion of fantasy output. Will he slow down?

As promised last week, we’d start to see some of the guys we are accustomed to seeing in the top tier of PPGAR. Tom Brady, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Devonta Freeman, etc. are all working their way up the charts.

Despite this, with next week being the quarter mark of the season, Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley, Chris Thompson, Ty Montgomery, and Stefon Diggs make up the top five players in terms of PPGAR through the first three weeks. Like a Donald Trump tweet, this season in Fantasy Football has been so unpredictable.1

One of the reasons RBs are ruling the roost so far this season is that RB output is down about a point per game compared to years passed. In the past five years, replacement tier PPG has been around nine for RBs. This year, replacement tier PPG for RBs has been about eight. Basically, the highest performing RBs are playing really well and the gap has widened between the highest tier and replacement tier output, compared to other positions.