By: Matt Kroeger
It’s here: the midway point of the NFL season. Everyone has played eight games. I’d like to do a Ferrells and Fallons fantasy breakdown of the first half, segregating the players according to their performances thus far.
But here’s the hook: the division namesakes are derived from Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon movies. You’ll see what I mean. I know it seems like a lot to read through, but I assure you that most of the sentences are short and sweet. So stick with me! Here we go…
NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY Division:
This is Will Ferrell’s first movie in a leading role, and a movie I have a soft spot for. Though not spectacular, NATR holds its own, and Ferrell does his job admirably. The NATR Division is reserved for the best rookies.
Mike Williams (TB): Clarification necessary. This is the MW who is on pace for double-digit TDs and 1,000+ yards…with the Buccaneers.
Dez Bryant: The only Cowboy who seems to give a crap.
Sam Bradford: Look out NFC West. God help you all if the Rams ever get a legitimate receiver.
Jahvid Best: Started strong, but has majorly tailed off. The reverse of Kevin Smith’s rookie season. Let’s hope he’s not KS II.
Aaron Hernandez: Major beneficiary of the “Share the Wealth” offense.
C.J. Spiller: Not quite as explosive as I (and many) expected, but still a productive player.
Colt McCoy: Fantasy-wise, Colt doesn’t deserve to make this list. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention him in the rookie conversation. Colt is Luke Skywalker to Cleveland sports with Hillis as Han Solo. Together, they might be able to exorcise the area’s sports demons, and usher in a new era of hope. And yes, LeBron is Darth Vader.
FALLON’S SNL STINT Division:
Here, we have the players who showed a lot of promise early on in the season but were crunched by the injury train, kinda like an skit on SNL with ol’ Jimmy: there’s a few laughs, then Jimmy ruins the rest of the sketch as he proceeds to break character and laugh at himself. Some of these players are fortunate, though, that they will be able to return to action later in the year. Others weren’t so lucky.
Tony Romo: Romo goooooood. Team baaaaaaaad.
Malcom Floyd: He should be back week 11, but he was having a startlingly good statistical year until he got hurt. Was one of the best fantasy receivers.
Reggie Bush/Pierre Thomas: Honestly, once these two come back, we should see the old Saints again.
Dallas Clark: NOOOOOOOOO!!!
Ryan Grant/Jermichael Finley: Think of how good the Packers would be right now with these guys healthy. A crushing blow to their owners and Cheese Heads everywhere.
Kenny Britt: Another sad blow, but anyone who lucked into Britt should be grateful for the six weeks (if that many) they had him. Now the Titans get to replace Britt with Randy Moss. Hmmmm…this doesn’t bode well. Wait, what am I saying? This is great news for the Titans! This won’t end badly at all!
OLD SCHOOL Division:
Essentially, with Old School, we knew Will Ferrell was funny based on his time with SNL and Zoolander performance. It was no surprise that he would be comical in Old School, but I don’t think anyone was really prepared for just how hysterical he was. He dominated that movie. So here, though not necessarily overly-surprising, we have the players who still shined in the shadows:
Percy Harvin: We knew he was good, but I didn’t know he was this good. 519 rec yards, 635 return yards. Maybe Brett should start looking his way more, you know, if he could see that far.
Austin Collie: In the mold of Brandon Stokely during Peyton’s then-record-breaking season, Collie has a knack for getting open. Did you know he has six TDs already? He’s tough as nails but suffered a crippling concussion last week. We hope for the best.
Arian Foster: Remember on draft day when people were arguing over who would be the better Houston running back: Arian Foster or Ben Tate? Yeah, I think that debate has been officially put to rest.
Darren McFadden: McFadden has finally unleashed all the potential we attributed to him early on. Fourth in rushing yards despite missing two games. Wow.
Hakeem Nicks: After a decent 2009 season, Nicks has launched himself to the popular kids table for wide receivers. He’s like the dweeby fourth-grader who comes back after summer break to reveal puberty did wonders for him; the Spongebob voice gave way to sultry Barry White pipes, the baby fat evaporated, and disgusting mustache hairs sprouted above his lower lip to give the impression of maturity. Now the fifth-grade babes can’t stay away.
Kyle Orton: The bearded fellow who has helped Lloyd bust out in 2010. Somehow third in the NFL in passing yards, ahead of both Mannings, Rodgers, Brady, Flacco, and Schaub. Who saw that coming? I liked him a lot in week 1, if you recall, but I didn’t expect this. Congrats to those who took a chance on Captain Underrated.
WEDDING CRASHERS Division:
I don’t know about you, but I had no idea that Will Ferrell was going to be in the movie, Wedding Crashers. I remember distinctively sitting in approximately the tenth row in the full theater, watching the movie, and as we approach the part before the big reveal of Ferrell’s character, I’m utterly flabbergasted as to who it could be. The rest is history. He killed it in the few chunks of air time he got. And I had no idea it was coming. The same can be said for these players, who should better be known as the most shocking fantasy studs at the midway point. Let’s dive in.
Peyton Hillis: The hands-down winner of the prestigious Fantasy Saver Award. This distinguished honor comes with a golden statue of Will Ferrell as his “More Cowbell” character. Resume: 850+ total yards, 8 TDs (on pace for 1,700 yards and 16 TDs…and remember, this is PEYTON HILLIS we’re talking about). More recently, he massacred the Patriots last week in one of the most unlikely slaughters of the year. I don’t want to take any credit for my definite motivation of the Browns to win last week, but let’s keep the good times rolling. Go Browns!
Steve Johnson: Random Receiver X who is on pace for 82 grabs, 1000+ yards and 12 TDs after only grabbing 2 receptions for 10 yards in all of the 2009 season. That’s about as random as it gets.
Danny Amendola: My man crush. Best catch of the year.
Brandon Lloyd: This one goes out to aaaaaall you ECON majors out there. Lloyd is another lucky waiver-wire snag who has had tremendous return-on-investment. Boom!
Marcedes Lewis: 2009 version of Vernon Davis only without the quitting.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: Obligatory bad joke: Ryan Fitzpatrick has been so surprisingly good that he’s giving defenses Fitz!
FEVER PITCH Division:
After Taxi, we all knew this Fallon flick would suck. Here are the guys that not-so-surprisingly, but still disappointedly, underperformed:
Donovan McNabb: Granted, he was getting old, but really…who could have guessed drama would be associated with Donovan? I mean, when was the last time THAT happened?
Brett Favre: Let’s just say, week 9 saved him from Taxi status.
Larry Fitzgerald: When you have Max Hall and Derek Anderson throwing you the ball, you aren’t going to be turning heads.
Chad Ochocinco: Wait, the TOCHO experiment isn’t working out? Both guys couldn’t coexist? Someone was going to be upset? No way!
All Niners players not named Frank: Fantasy-wise, this bunch is like a litter of dogs that got squashed by their mother and only one puppy survived. Thanks, Alex Smith!
Jerome Harrison: I include Jerome here because I might have been the only one who thought he would have a monster year. If you look at how he finished ’09, you would’ve expected something similar. Unfortunately for me (and my fantasy team…let’s just say I acquired Harrison via trade, and Antonio Gates was involved), Hillis became The Guy in Cleveland, relegating Jerome to the bench before being traded for peanuts to the Eagles where he hasn’t been heard from again. And I’M the fantasy expert. Woohoo!
Here is the description for this movie: “A mouthy and feisty taxicab driver (Queen Latifah) has hot tips for a green (green???) and inept cop (Jimmy Fallon) set on solving a string of New York City bank robberies committed by a quartet of female Brazilian bank robbers.” Now, at first glance, this seems like a disaster that should’ve been avoided entirely. However, at the time, Fallon’s career was on fire. Needless to say, this movie was Kazaam-level bad. Not surprisingly, it features Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, in a large role. Anything that guy is associated with is sure to blow.
So this is the division for the biggest fantasy disappointments at the midway point:
Maurice Jones-Drew: It’s a shame because I love MoJo, despite the fact that he plays within my team’s division. He just hasn’t warranted that top 5 draft position. But who knows; of anyone on this list, he has the most potential (by far) to rebound in the second half.
Shonn Greene: Boy, Greene took quite a fall from grace, didn’t he? A first or second round fantasy draft choice as a result of his play in the 2009 playoffs, and now he isn’t even the starter for his own team. Yikes.
Randy Moss: (Smiling).
Wes Welker: (Maniacally laughing).
Ryan Mathews: I guess we all just assumed he would be a superstar immediately. Was it that big of a stretch? I don’t think so. The Chargers had an explosive offense, and he would get the opportunities to shine in San Diego with LT on the way out. The problem is he has never got it going. One of the major issues (in addition to being hurt) is that he’s only gotten 15+ carries twice, but his YPA hasn’t been atrocious. Instead, they’ve let Rivers carry the load. Nonetheless, I don’t think Mathews owners are very happy with how he’s played so far. Thus, I’m awarding Mathews the Fantasy Murderer Award of the first half (and if you’re wondering what this award looks like: a figurine of Jimmy Fallon covered in lead paint). Congratulations!
Kevin Kolb: Remember this: “Oh man, Kevin Kolb is going to have a MONSTER year, duuuude. HUGE. Mark it down.” Luckily, I didn’t drink this Kool-Aid.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh: I think Housh owners have suffered enough. Step back from that ledge, my friends.
All Carolina players: Ditto.
STEP BROTHERS Division:
Or, BACK FROM THE DEAD Division. Ferrell went through a (relative) dry spell between Anchorman and Step Brothers (with the sports genre being a recurring hook-up). Step Brothers was a major reclamation of his funny-man status. So let’s take a look at the players so far who have rebounded after some time without a pulse:
Michael Turner: C’mon, Matt. Who didn’t see this coming? He was hurt last year.
Eli Manning: Okay, that’s not that surprising. He has the weapons.
Matt Forte: Yeah, I guess I thought he was dead weight, too.
Terrell Owens: Wait a minute…did you say 55-770-7?
LaDainian Tomlinson: Whoooaaa, now this is downright spooky.
Michael Vick: ZOMBIE VICK RETURNS! He cannot be killed! Do you realize Vick has zero turnovers? ZERO. If it weren’t for a devastating blow in week 4, his stats would be much more impressive at the halfway point. Icky Vicky (yep) is going to feast on the brains of the NFL in the second half. He just needs to stay healthy, which actually is a lot to ask. One question remains, though: has he officially been forgiven for the dog-fighting thing? Does anyone remember that that happened?
This space is reserved for the usual suspects. We knew this movie was going to be amazing before we even saw it. Check out the cast: Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Fred Willard, Chris Parnell. Not to mention the extensive list of fantastic cameo appearances by Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins, Vince Vaughn, and Luke Wilson. That’s a murderer’s row of comedy. Did anyone expect this movie to flop? I think not.
Adrian Peterson/Frank Gore: Superb despite crappy supporting casts. The offense literally goes through them and only them.
Philip Rivers (he earned it here)/Peyton Manning/Drew Brees/Aaron Rodgers: Superb despite depleted forces.
Chris Johnson: Not as spectacular as a year ago, but still flashy enough to scare the poop out of anyone he faces.
Antonio Gates: Should be fine after the bye. A true warrior so far.
Roddy White: I suppose he’s not necessarily a “usual suspect” yet, but he has been stunning so far. The main reason the Falcons are Super Bowl contenders.
WEEK 10 FERRELLS AND FALLONS:
Ferrells: Eli Manning (NYG); Arian Foster (HOU); Mike Wallace (PIT)
Fallons: Joe Flacco (BAL); Frank Gore (SF); Santana Moss (WAS)
MY FANTASY RECORD SO FAR (BECAUSE YOU SO WANTED TO KNOW): 6th of 12 (5-4), 2 games back