The 5th Down UK Fantasy Special

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So the inaugural 5th Down UK Fantasy Football league is up and running!!

10 all star teams are now all drafted up, and this week the combat will begin, as KB and Dubs try and win their own conferences!

From The Bortle Bank, to Ep 6 The Return of the Jordy, the team-name game was reasonably sound, although there was whispers of playing it safe when both Dub Steps (Dubs) and Desperados (KB) enrolled – we can only wait to see whether their team selection and waiver wire activity is a little more edgy!

The teams in each conference play each other twice, and will match up just once with each of their out-of-conference rivals. As it’s the first season of the 5th Down league, it’s a fairly vanilla setup – we drafted in a random snake, without any PPR or IDP tweaks – this is pure and clean family friendly fantasy!!

1st Picking – 5th Down Style

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 15.07.32Yes – the very 1st player ever picked in a 5th Down UK fantasy football draft was Matt Ryan.

Matt Ryan?

Yes, Matt Ryan.

Maybe Jack (GM of the plucky INSERT TEAM NAME‘s) knows something we don’t. They always say don’t judge a draft until the playoffs, but Jack is making this rule a little difficult!!

The rest of the 5th Down draft went pretty much as expected, with the big names going quickly – in a 10 team league though, there were still some gems left at the end of the draft – I was pretty chuffed to wait until round 12 for Phillip Rivers, and then get high reward flyers like Tajae Sharpe and Stefon Diggs in the final rounds.

Check out the upcoming Fantasy & Season kick off podcast coming soon – KB and Dubs will be getting some of the GMs from our league on to justify their moves and to brag triumph/cry failure over each weeks results!

You can see our league here:

PS: Anyone interested in the INSERT TEAM NAME 2nd round pick? Broncos D

Week 10

Week 10 kicked off with the Ohio state match, where Andy Dalton laid another egg on primetime TV. The Bengals remain competitive in the AFC North, but they are looking very hit and miss on both sides of the ball, and will have to show heart to bounce back from this humiliating defeat at home to their state rivals. This wasn’t a game for Fantasy players though – winning QB Brian Hoyer only notched a single figure score, and Dalton ended the game with a minus score!

Onto Sunday, there wasn’t too many shocks – Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning churned up their usual 25+pts, and Marshawn Lynch seemed back to his old self, beasting through the Giants at home for 4 touchdowns and 140 yards. The Packers in particular looked strong – they’ve steadily moved on from their opening day defeat at Seattle to prove themselves very much Superbowl contenders – Rodgers, Nelson, Cobb and Lacy all sliced through a non-existent Bears defence, and the Packers D were in help-yourself mode off a wayward Jay Cutler. Elsewhere though, there were a few turn ups – the Steelers proved highly unpredictable, making the Jets defence look somewhat efficient, and the 49ers turning over the Saints in the Superdome – a feat not acheived in over 4 years.

There was some big points for Dez Bryant in London – he was missing in the 1st Quarter, ran wild in the 2nd Quarter, then seemed to be ready to jump on the plane home in the 2nd half, but in just 15 minutes in that 2nd Quarter he smashed the Jags for nearly 160yards and 2 touchdowns. If you’re labelled as an “Impact” player, thats a way to get yourself noticed!!

On rookie watch, this was a big week for the excellent 2014 reciever class – Jordan Matthews, Martavis Bryant, Mike Evans & Odell Beckham all went over 100 yards, while Brandon Cooks added a TD to his 90 yards, and Kelvin Benjamin added 2 TDs to his 70 yards. Previous to this season, only 4 rookie wide recievers had gone over 1,000 yards in their debut season – this year we expect that number to be doubled.

Week 8 Preview

Let’s start Week 8 with the Broncos. The Chargers turned up at their house last night and Peyton picked up where he left off late on Sunday night – by tearing apart the opposition with ease. Make no mistake, this Broncos team is better than the class of 2013. Their defense is far superior and their offense is right up there with last year’s record breakers, although they’ll struggle to equal those stats.

Where was Emmanuel Sanders last year? I had him in my fantasy team and he ended up on my bench most weeks as he failed to make a catch for the Steelers. Big Ben is a class act, but it just goes to show what a team player Peyton is. He spends a lot of time with his receivers and Sanders is reaping the rewards. He caught all nine of his targets for 120yds and a touchdown in their 35-21 win over San Diego.

One of the best trades I’ve made this fantasy season is that of Antonio Gates. The veteran Tight End is having an excellent season. He caught 5-of-8 targets for 54yds and two touchdowns last night.

We’ve got Wembley to look forward to this weekend. Antone Smith sees his debut on my starting line-up. The RB failed to make an explosive impact last week, so I’m hoping he finds his mojo under the arch. If anything, picking him makes my visit to the International Series game more interesting as a neutral.

Kyle Orton has been a revelation for the rookie since he took over from Manuel. Watkins is clearly his number one receiver

Drew Brees returns to my line-up. He’s at home to the Packers and he knows he has to step up if the Saints are to make the post-season. They’ve got stiff opposition, but I fancy New Orleans to win in The Dome. Their D is suspect, so on the flip side I’ve got Randall Cobb starting and with him lies the hope of another 20+ points game.

Speaking of big point earners, could my highest scorer be J.J. Watt again? A fortnight ago he clocked up 35+ points at Indy. This weekend he squares up against a very weak Titans team.

Last week we saw Sammy Watkins make an entrance to the NFL stage. He’s facing a struggling Jets in a divisional game. Kyle Orton has been a revelation for the rookie since he took over from Manuel. Watkins is clearly his number one receiver and, like Gates, he’s been a bumper trade for me.

So let’s see how the week unfolds. This is merely my fantasy forecast, but by Tuesday we’ll no doubt be raving about the stories that will come from another fantastic weekend of gridiron.

Week 7

It was a great week for home teams in Week 7. 12 of the 15 games were won by the hosts. There were also some shocks and fantastic comebacks. NFL Red Zone was red hot during the dying seconds of the early games with Detroit, Buffalo and Washington claiming last gasp wins. Let’s not forget that field goal block at the gun in New England on Thursday night!

The drama never ends in the NFL. Each week we talk about unbelievable plots. We need to make the most of it because, believe it or not, we’re almost halfway through the season. We wait so long for it to arrive and before we know it we’re into January.

Should we be concerned with what’s happening to Seattle? They’ve lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2012. They have the quality to turn it around. Russell Wilson threw for 313yds and 2 TDs on Sunday, whilst also rushing for 106yds. He’s doing everything he can, but let’s not forget they lost to The Rams. The Rams! It’s a divisional loss and another one against conference rivals. Sunday’s visit to Carolina will be interesting.

The battle for the NFC North is intriguing. Detroit are tough and they’re winning without their main man. The Lions are doing all they can to keep The Packers at bay. Aaron Rodgers is aw-inspiring and Green Bay are the team to beat in the NFC right now. He’s picking teams apart with the compliment of weapons at his disposal. UK fans could be in for a treat on Sunday because Atlanta are in need of a win and Detroit seem to have forgotten how to lose.

We can’t talk about Week 7 without mentioning the irrepressible Peyton Manning. Savour it because we’re experiencing history in the making. This man will be talked about for years to come. We’re being spoilt and he’s just great to watch. Nerves would have got to us mere mortals on Sunday night, but he just went about his business like it was a practice session against a team that’s normally so dominant on defense. The 49ers had key men missing, but they haven’t conceded more than 24 points since Week 3 last year. It’s as if everything he touches turns to gold. It doesn’t look like there’s another team in the AFC that can match them, at this rate he’ll be given his chance to win a second ring in February.

The heir to Manning’s thrown could be the one who replaced him in Indy. Luck has thrown for more than 300 yards in all but one game this season. The Colts are looking strong and their signal caller is leagues apart from the other young QBs in the league.

Hats off to The Jags. Gus Bradley is working hard at turning things around in Florida and their efforts were rewarded against The Browns. They’ve got an exciting young QB who’s a face of the franchise for years to come. We’re fortunate to have them committed to London for another couple of seasons so that we can see this project grow.

We turn our attentions to Week 8 and yet more unscripted drama. What will The Seahawks do? Can Rivers and The Chargers halt Manning on Thursday night? But, better still, we’ve got a Wembley game!

Week 7 Preview

It’s crunch time in the fantasy world. Choose the right players and you could be opening a gap between you and the rest. You don’t want to be relying on a six-game winning streak at the end of the season to give you any hope of a play-off spot.

You’ve used your draft and traded guys off your roster.The foundations are in place and now the decisions you make will define your season.

We’re in Week 7 and we’ve got form to guide us. I’m coming into the week 4&2. My strength has been in the magnificent Philip Rivers. He’s having the season of his life and this week he’s got a tricky test against division rivals KC. The Chiefs are looking good, but I can’t see The Chargers slipping up at home. San Diego’s form has auto-picked Rivers and Gates in recent weeks. Gates has been up and down this season, but when he’s hot he’s really hot so it’s a risk I take.

It’s nice to have Jamaal Charles back after his bye. My weak spot is in the back field. I’m starting Blount this week, but a voice keeps telling me to should start Antone Smith. I traded for him late and all he’s done is sit on my bench. He has a couple of big runs in each game. Runs that take him into double digits. My concern is he’ll have a week when those runs don’t happen and that week will be the one when I start him. I’ll play him next week because it’ll make the Wembley visit even more fun.

I’m expecting Sammy Watkins to clock up some yards this week. I can’t see Minnesota’s D being able to rush the pass. Kyle Orton is at home and Buffalo is sold out. It could be a big weekend in west New York.

Speaking of the west, I’ve made a few bold predictions in the NFC West this week. The Cardinals have been grinding out results in recent weeks and I think they’re going to get found out in Oakland. Derek Carr was impressive last week and Sparano had them looking rejuvenated. I can’t see Arizona leaving the Black Hole with a W. As for Seattle, they looked ordinary at home to Dallas. The Cowboys might be on a fine run, but they’re not an outstanding team. The Seahawks appear to have been found out. The trade of Harvin baffles me and I think morale will be low. They’ve got a division game against a team that looked good during parts of their game against the 49ers on Monday.The loss of Harvin takes away any dynamism from The Seahawks’ offense and The Rams’ strength is on defense. That’s why I’m going for a Rams win.

Call me biased, but I’m picking San Francisco to win on the road at Mile High. Kaepernick has upped his game and the he’s got a wealth of options on offense. The game might be decided by the kickers and Phil Dawson’s already kicked four field goals from 50+ yards this year. He’s at altitude, so who knows how far he’ll kick it!

A midseason review of our draft

So, does anyone really care about somebody elses fantasy team? probably not. But I’m going to go through the 1st two rounds of our 2015 draft to reflect on how some high draft picks are performing this year – with some surprising results!!

Round 1

Adrian Peterson
Jamaal Charles
Jimmy Graham
LeSean McCoy
Peyton Manning
Matt Forte
Eddie Lacy
A.J. Green
Calvin Johnson
Matthew Stafford
Montee Ball
Marshawn Lynch

So, my 1st reflection was shock – what were we thinking!! The top four have been massive disappointments this season, and shows that you shouldn’t look at last years results when planning your draft. The Peterson situation was unforeseen, but from this list Charles, Shady, Lacy and Ball have been underperforming, while Graham, Green and Johnson have picked up injuries, while only Manning, Forte and Lynch are maintaining 1st round value.

PS – the owner who picked up Stafford in the 1st round, ahead of some the monsters in Round 2 is obviously insane.

Round 2

Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees
Arian Foster
DeMarco Murray
Brandon Marshall
Gio Bernard
Dez Bryant
Cordarelle Patterson
Demaryius Thomas
Jordy Nelson
Tom Brady
Reggie Bush

So having lost all faith in my fellow owners in Round 1, our Round 2 picks reassured me that we’re not all total clowns. Foster, Murray, Bernard, Bryant, Thomas and Nelson are all putting up Round 1 numbers, while Brees and Brady have had difficult starts, no one is going to laugh in your face for taking an experienced signal caller early. So no freaky picks like in Round 1, but still a couple of disappointments – both from the NFC North, in Patterson and Bush.

So to further embarrass my fellow owners, where did our early-season point leaders get picked up?

QB - Andrew Luck
RB - DeMarco Murray
WR - Antonio Brown
TE - Julius Thomas
K - Stephen Gostkowski

The leading DEF, the Philadelphia Eagles, went undrafted, but got picked up in the 2nd week!!

As a league, I give our drafting skills a D-, but there is still plenty of football to come!!

Week 6

That’s another week of the 2014 season in the books and what a week’s it’s been. Not many people picked Dallas to win in Seattle, but they went there and totally dominated the champions. It would have been daylight robbery if The Seahawks managed to steal a win. Credit to their special teams though because they looked poor on both sides of the ball. Many of us questioned The Cowboys’ credentials as NFC contenders and they proved that they are the real deal.

On the issue of surprise packages, what about The Browns? They’re grinding out wins and they’re right in the mix in the AFC North. Wasn’t this year supposed to be all about Johnny Football? Johnny who? Brian Hoyer is guiding them through some gritty wins. He threw for 217yds and 1 TD this week. The rate he’s going we won’t be seeing Manziel any time soon.

Tom Brady did what he does best – stepped up in October. It’s as if he needs September to warm up. After annihilating Cincinnati last week he went up against a tough Buffalo defense and threw for 361yds and 4 TDs. He says Gronk is back to where he was before his injury. That can only mean alarm bells for the rest of the AFC.

Their biggest threat appears to be in the AFC West. KC were on a bye this week, but they’ve looked impressive in 2014 and are in the running with San Diego and Denver. Peyton threw another 3 touchdowns to take his career total to 506, two short of Brett Favre’s record. That record can be broken on Sunday night against The 49ers, although Manning is typically playing it down. He’ll have to beat a solid defense that doesn’t look like it’s missing Aldon Smith or NaVorro Bowman.

Philip Rivers is the standout QB so far this season. He threw for another 313yds and 3 touchdowns in The Chargers’ late victory at Oakland. Aaron Rodgers, though, has become more impressive each week. His fake spike during the final drive that led to a winning touchdown, with only a handful of seconds left on the clock, will be relived for generations to come.

Isn’t amazing what a change of personnel can do for a team? The Raiders looked like schoolboys at Wembley in Week 4. That performance cost Dennis Allen his job. In steps Tony Sparano and suddenly they look like they can play. Derek Carr looked lost in London, but on Sunday he threw for 282yds and 4 TDs.

Chicago continue to baffle us all. The good Bears showed up in Atlanta. Matt Forte looking hot, rushing for 80 yards, 2 TDs and 77 receiving yards.

Let’s not forget Thursday night, it seems so long ago! J.J. Watt paid off another huge chunk of his $100m salary with a dominant performance that included yet another touchdown. Andrew Luck, on the other hand, continues to throw like a man possessed – 370yds and 3 TDs. It’s a joy to think that, barring injuries, we’ll be treated to more displays from him for another decade and a half.

We can’t wrap the week without mentioning The Bengals and Panthers. What a game! 37-37, we get a tie in the NFL for the third season running. It was a great advert for football and it proved just what a fantastic season this is. There’s still so much to play for and we can’t call who will take any division.

It’s great to have our Sundays back.

Week 6 Preview

On paper this weekend has the makings of a big score for my fantasy team. I come into Sunday full of confidence thanks to J.J. Watt’s performance in Thursday night’s game against The Colts. Just how good is Watt right now? He’s consistently dominant in every game. His 45yd touchdown from a fumble return was his 3rd TD this season. He’s scored more touchdowns than Frank Gore, A.J. Green and Megatron so far, not bad for a DE. The man is a machine and he’s sent me into Sunday with 36.50 points.

These could be famous last words, but I’m expecting Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates to clock up similar figures at Oakland. I’ve probably jinxed it and Tony Sparano will lead The Raiders to victory against their AFC West rivals in his first game in charge of the troubled side.

Randall Cobb stays in my receiving corps because I can’t see Miami’s secondary being able to stop the in-form Rodgers and a Packers offense that appears to be getting better and better each week.

My concern this week is with my running backs. Chris Johnson and his Jets host Peyton and co. I don’t have much faith on Denver’s ability to stop the run, but CJ2K’s points tally will depend on how many carries he’ll get behind Chris Ivory. Meanwhile, I’m starting LaGarrette Blount in place of Jamaal Charles whilst The Chiefs sit out this week on a bye. The Steelers travel to their division rivals, Cleveland. The Browns have become gritty and they’ve managed to find a way to win with some impressive victories along the way.

So, will I go into Monday night’s game sitting comfortably? Vernon Davis looks like he’s going to start after missing Week 5 with a back injury. The 49ers travel to a Rams side that has looked pretty shoddy this year. The St Louis D has been their strength in recent years but they’ve been disappointing this season, which is why I’m starting VD and Stevie Johnson in what should be a rout for Kaepernick and company.

Tactical genius? Let’s see if I make it to 4&2 on Tuesday.

Week 5

I won in Week 5. It took me to 3&2 for the season. My team won by the skin of their teeth. I scored a meagre 88.16 points and took the victory. I should be elated.

My condolences go out to the Miniapplelis Souperbowlers. They went into Monday Night Football knowing 8.27 points from their Seahawks D and Percy Harvin would win the game for them. Cue my double-take when I raised my bleary head this morning. They clocked up 7.4 points. I won by 0.86! How did that happen? It clearly doesn’t matter how you win, so long as you win.

I came into Week 5 off the back of my biggest win ever in Fantasy Football. A lot of planning went into this week’s victory, so I guess I should be feeling good about myself. Pre kick-off I talked about dropping Jamaal Charles and playing Arizona’s John Brown ahead of Sammy Watkins. Those decisions didn’t sit right for me so I reinstated them to the starting line-up. Charles didn’t quite rush as much as he did against the Patriots in Week 4 but he did have his longest carry of the season. Sammy, on the other hand, was the go to guy for Orton on his first start. These are decisions that won me the game.

A win is a win. I’m sure the Saints are saying that this week. The Bills celebrated like they’d won the Super Bowl! This small margin victory makes my season a winning one and puts me on the front foot as I aim for a play-off spot. I’ll take whatever I can.

Week 5 Preview

With less than ten hours until kick-off we can only guess what will happen once that ball is launched deep into opposition territory. We’ve spent the week working on our rosters. Last week’s flops have been benched, but brought back to the fore as soon as we realised who they’re up against.

It’s just a guessing game. It’s not even a forecast! We can’t see what’s going to happen. We can see trends, for example we can pretty much say the Jags will go 0&5 against the Steelers. Or can we? Weren’t the Steelers dead certs to win last week?

Jamaal Charles had a field day against New England on Monday night. I’ve chosen to bench him today. I can’t see him breaking through that San Francisco defensive line. Look at what they did to LeSean McCoy last week. Yes, the 49ers were up against a third string offensive line, but is Chiefs’ O-line any better?

Enter LeGarrette Blount. Compared to my first round draft pick he had a quiet week last week, like I predicted he would. This week he’s coming up against Jacksonville and I fully expect him to be handed some lanes to run down.

My receiver corps is the battle of the rookies. Do I start Sammy Watkins now that he’s got Kyle Orton throwing to him? The wide out has already come out in praise of his new signal-caller. Meanwhile, John Brown seems to be the leading target in Arizona. The Cardinals look like the real deal and their trip to Mile High is an acid test for them. I can see Brown & co coming out on top and that’s why I’m starting him.

Doubt will almost definitely settled in between now and kick-off. I’ll tinker right up until 6pm/9:25pm. I’m sure to rue a decision, but we can’t see everything coming.