Tuesday Teabag, July 31

Olympic Gymnastic Parents

The Machine can’t help but be in awe when watching gymnastics (yes, the Machine has Olympic fever).  Whether it’s the men or women, what they do is simply unreal.  However, as impressive as these athletes are, there’s a little secret that’s bubbling to the surface during the Olympics:  their parents are crazy.  I mean bat shit crazy.  Take every article you’ve read about soccer moms fighting in the stands, dads getting thrown out of little league games (the Machine can’t wait to get tossed from his sons’ baseball games when they get older, btw), and throw it away.  Move aside, overbearing suburban parents, there’s a new crazy in town, and they’re on full display in London.  Anyone see the dad trying to get the crowd to join in his rhythmic clapping?  How about the parents having seizure-like convulsions in the stands during their kid’s routine?  We did.  After watching 2 days of gymnastics (our fever is starting to break) you have to ask yourself:  how many of these kids were pushed into gymnastics by domineering, highly critical, super intense parents?  Our answer:  100%.  Christ, John Orozco is from the Bronx.  How many kids in the Bronx—on their own—decide, “hmm, I think I’ll take up the pommel horse.”  Exactly.

Hey, we’re all about being proud of our kids.  Kevin Durant’s parents at Thunder games?  Heart-warming.  America’s newest sweetheart’s, Missy Franklin’s, parents at the swim meet?  Adorable.  But these parents drive straight past adorable to creepy.  Their screams pierce the arena, and their movements and actions scream “look at me” and “you’ve practiced this routine 8,000 times, I know because I uprooted our family and drove you to all your practices since you were 3 years old, so don’t mess it up for us, I mean me.”  These kids are treated like collectable dolls (well, they are doll-like in stature).  This isn’t Toddlers and Tiaras, although we get the vibe it’s a lot closer than it should be.

Listen up Olympic Gymnastic Parents, and listen good:  Your children, impressive athletes as they are, are relevant for about 15 minutes every four years (given the men’s epic collapse in the all-around, you can cut that down to about 5).  We get that you’re into it, that you’re excited to watch your kids compete at the Olympic level.  However, your excitement shows the worst in modern day parenting:  fanaticism.  You’ve sacrificed a normal childhood for a slavish devotion to gymnastics.  Fine, but tone down the antics.  The Olympics should be about the pure joy of sport, yet, when we see a gymnast nail the uneven bars, we don’t see joy.  We see relief.  Then, we see Ma and Pa Crazy Pants in the stands, and it all makes sense.

Congrats on the Tuesday Teabag award, Olympic Gymnastic Parents.  The way things are shaping up in London, it may be the only award you come home with.

You can’t kill the Metal!

The Machine has already explained our disgust (here) with NBC and IOC for whoring out their “primetime” timeslots to their corporate pimps instead of protecting the glory of live sports.  And all for what?!  So far it’s been pretty hit or miss with the advertisements.  The P&G “Best Job” spot makes us thrown up in our mouths every time; whereas the Cadillac ATS commercial with those two douchebags bombing around back roads the world over makes us want to, well, buy a Cadallic and be d-bags.  We’ve gotten the usual McDonald’s and Coca-Cola non-sense (how many of these Olympians not named Michael Phelps are slamming Big Macs and 44 oz Cokes?!)  And speaking of Phelps, Visa might want to do themselves a favor and pull those “lightning strikes twice” ads.  Not going to happen. #TeamLochte!  We’ve got to give props to Sears of all companies, (yeah, we didn’t know they were still in business either) for producing a funny ad with two beach frolickers that run into a fridge.  Not bad.  But the ad that takes down the ‘Gold’ is none other than Nike’s “Find Your Greatness”.  Nike scores big without using any of their million-dollar spokesmen (how often does that happen?)!  So much to love about this commercial though:   the muslin women’s soccer team; the pogo stick front flip; the little dude at the end fighting with himself before he finally takes the plunge off the high dive platform.  But the icing on the cake of this commercial is the Beastmode-esque stiff-arm at the 00:14 mark.  Boom!


2012 Top 10 Fantasy Ks

Ok, if you’re reading our Top 10 Fantasy Kickers list, one of the following statements is true:  (i) you’re a degenerate gambler (the Machine prefers “sports enthusiast”); (ii) you’re a family member of an NFL kicker, or (iii) you’re really into all things fantasy (saving up for Comic Con 2013 baby!).  Whatever your reason, the Machine likes it.  In fact, we know you’re reading this because drafting the right kicker matters.  Sure, a run on kickers usually starts in round 16 (of 16).  However, did you know the difference between the #1 scoring kicker last year (David Akers) and the #10 scoring kicker (Jason Hanson) was 51 pts, which equals to more than 3 pts each week (how many games did you lose by less than three points last year?).  That’s some knowledge you need to know.  Now, what you need to know is who the right kicker is.  We got you covered for that.  (FGM/FGA/50+/PAT).

1. Sebastian Janikowski (31/35/7/36).  Al may have been crazy for drafting him in the first round (17th overall) of the 2000 Draft, but come on, was there any doubt he’d be a Raider.  We love Seabass.  What’s not to love about a 6’2” 250 lb kicker that drinks vodka for breakfast, loves to get in bar fights, and oh yeah, can kick the ball out of the stadium.  Dude’s got a left foot of gold.  He’s especially gold in leagues that give bonus points for 50+ yarders.  Seabass tied for the league lead with 7 (out of 10) 50+ yarders, including a 63 yard bomb.  He was also consistent…he only missed one FG under 50 yards.  In 2012, da Raiders should have a more potent offense , which equates to more field goals and PATs.  Kick some ass Seabass!

2. Rob Bironas (29/32/6/34)Rob nailed 6 of 7 50+ yarders last year, and only missed 3 FGs.  We like the Titans to be able to move the ball a little better in 2012, but not that much better where they’ll be scoring a ton more touchdowns.  Look for the offense to breakdown in the red zone, as teams put 11 in the box and force Locker to throw (they’ll still run CJ on 3rd and 6).  This translates into more FG opportunities for Rob.

3.  Stephen Gostowski (28/33/1/59)While only making one FG longer than 50 yards, and missing 5 FGs overall, Gostowski made it up with 59 PATs.  The Pats will continue to score in 2012 at will, so look for Gostowski to maintain solid numbers.

4.  Robbie Gould (28/32/6/37).  Robbie was a perfect 6 for 6 from 50+.  That’s impressive, especially playing in the Windy City.  Da Bears should have no problems moving the ball, and Robbie should have no problems cracking the Top 5 in points.

5.  Dan Bailey (32/37/2/39).  As an undrafted rookie, Bailey came out of nowhere, nailing 32 FGs for the Cowboys.  He showed he can hang with the big boys.  The Machine likes youthful exuberance, and this 24 year old’s got a ton of it.  We also like the Cowboys offense, which should give Bailey plenty of opportunities to prove he’s worthy of a Top 5 pick.

6.  Mason Crosby (24/28/3/68).  Mason needs to get his attempts up, but that’s hard to do when the Pack score touchdowns all the time.  He easily led the league with 68 PATs, and the Pack’s offense should be just as potent.  Mason will always be in a position to score.

7.  David Akers (44/52/7/34).  Akers led all kickers last year in points, by a sizeable margin.  Why then, does the Machine have him 7th overall?  Well, for starters, kickers never repeat as league leaders.  And, if you’re David Akers, you had the best year of your career, by far.  He made 44 FGs last year, which covers up the fact that he missed 8 FGs.  His previous career highs was 33.  He also turns 38 this year, which we know is young for a kicker, but still.  Even if last year was a fluke, with the greatest game-manager of all time at the helm (that’s not a compliment), Akers will get plenty of opportunities.  Just don’t be surprised if his numbers are a little south of where he was in 2011.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

8.  Neil Rackers (32/38/4/39). Playing with Houston last year, Rackers had a good season, finishing as the #8 kicker overall.  He can still nail it from downtown (4 of 5 from 50+).  Now with Washington and RGIII, look for Neil to put up similar numbers this year.

9.  Jason Hanson (24/29/5/54).  At the opposite end of the youth scale, Hanson just turned 42!.  He was drafted in 1992, you remember 1992, right?  The Colts took Steve Emtman #1 overall, and the Machine was an extremely awkward teenager.  Holy shit that was a long time ago.  Anyway, that 42 year old leg still has some juice, nailing 5 of 7 from 50+ yards.  Playing in a dome with a high-powered offense will help grandpa stay in the Top 10 for another year.

10.  Matt Bryant (27/29/2/45).  When in doubt, go with a dome kicker.  Although it makes absolutely zero sense why there’s a dome in Atlanta, Bryant’s not complaining.  Although he only took 2 50 yarders, he made them both, and only missed 2 FGs all year.

Skeet Skeet Skeet Skeet!

That’s right.  Kimberly Rhode, your 2012 Olympic Women’s Skeet shooting champion.  K-Rhode hit a world record tying 99 out of 100 targets.  The Machine doesn’t know much about the sport of skeet shooting (quite frankly, white chicks with guns scare us), but we do know how to skeet, thanks to Lil’ Jon.   Seriously, they should, for one time, replace the playing of the anthem with some Get Low.  “To all skeet skeet motherfuckers, to all skeet skeet god damn!”*  Congrats Kimberly!

*For those not familiar with Lil’ Jon and skeeting, first, shame on you.  Second, go listen to Get Low.  Third, go to urbandictionary.com and look up “skeet”.  Then, re-read this post.

Tape delayed, are you f’ing kidding me!?!

Ok, it’s taken the Machine all of 6 hours of Olympic coverage to be annoyed (although, the Spain/South Korea Women’s Handball Prelim was pretty sick).  Seriously, the Machine’s all pumped to watch the Phelps/Lochte throwdownn tonight, but guess what, the Machine has an internet connection and that shit happened 5 hours ago!  Yeah, we know who won.  It’s not like the live event was at 4:00 am EST (note: the Machine generally has an east coast bias with sports, people, and life, so everything is measured by EST), the live event was at 2:30 pm!!!  Show that shit live NBC!  That’s what the Olympics are all about…getting to see your country’s heroes compete against the world as it unfolds.  Instead, let’s be honest, the Olympics have never been about the honor of sports and competition, at least, not since that shit’s been on TV.  Now, it’s all about the Benjamins baby.  It’s more important to show the events people want to see in primetime, because primetime = higher ad revenues, which = more $$$ to NBC and the IOC.  If the IOC had the balls, they would demand that ALL EVENTS BE SHOWN LIVE.  Pretty simple rule, right?  But no, what we’ll get live is air rifle, badminton, and cycling.  The events we really want to see (Dream Team 2.0, Phelps/Lochte, 100m dash) will be shown tape-delayed, all so they can be in primetime and generate more dollars.  On the flip side, we do get more couch time with Bob Costas, so I guess it’s not all bad…

Look, we get it.  We understand capitalism and all its beauty.  But there comes a point.  And that point is ruining the sanctity of the Olympics (ok, that may be overreaching, the Machine just wants to see shit live).  Now, all the important events will be ruined because the results will be streamed live on the internet, to your smartphones, and you know some asshole at the check out counter will say “hey Lochte beat Phelps in the 400m Individual Medley.”  Thanks asshole.

Opening Ceremony = SNOOZE FEST!!!

Sorry Bob Costas, but try as you might, that opening ceremony was uninspiring, weird, and boring as shit, which pretty much sums up the Brits.  Even though the Queen had a cameo role with James Bond, who is pretty badass (the Machine is fond of fictional Brits), her Royal Sourpuss never cracked a smile, and looked about as enthused as a colonoscopy patient.  Sorry Queenie, you’re showcasing your country to the world, you’re supposed to put on a smile and show the global community the cultural depth of your society.  Instead, we get an opening ceremony prominently featured with Mr. Bean.  Seriously, Mr. Freaking Bean.  We would’ve accepted Bennie Hill chasing around a sexy nurse in a golf cart.  How about some Monty Python?  A hologram Freddy Mercury?  Hell, we’ll even take the Spice Girls.  But no, we get a continuous dribble of dull, dry, and unexciting British pomp and circumstance (filthy wankers).

And don’t even get the Machine started with that lame-ass torch lighting (don’t worry Barcelona, your place in history as the Greatest.  Torch Lighting Ceremony.  Ever. is still firmly in tact).  Clearly, the IOC didn’t bother to read any of the Machine’s letters with our numerous torch lighting suggestions.  We’ll share two with you (the others have already been forwarded to Rio).

1.  Iron Maiden.  With Number of the Beast blaring, Bruce Dickenson walks into Olympic Stadium with his guitar on fire!  The field opens up, and Eddie emerges!!! Bruce throws the guitar at Eddie, who bursts into flames, and boom, EDDIE’S THE TORCH, everyone in the world community are now huge Maiden fans, and all children under the age of 10 in are scared shitless.

2.  Pippa.  What better way to light the torch than with Pippa? (honestly, the Amy Winehouse crack pipe would’ve been a huge hit…but someone had to go and ruin that one).  Anyway, picture this:  Pippa goes all Katniss Everdeen, and waltzes into Olympic Stadium with her dress on fire!  Pippa jumps into the ring of fire, sets the torch ablaze, rips off her clothes and proclaims her love for the Machine (ok, that last part may have been mixed up with a reoccuring dream of the Machine).

Point is:  mix it up a little Britain.  Trade in your tea and crumpets for a Vodka/Red Bull and let’s get the party started.  And come on, we’re your friends America.  We got your back.  In fact, we’ll send over our finest ambassadors to make sure the party never ends (paging Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan).

2012 Top 10 Fantasy WRs

None of the positional group rankings have as clear-cut, unanimous number one as the wide receivers; enter Calvin Johnson.  MegaTron brought his talents to Mo’Town to the tune of 1600+ yards and 16 TDs (MVP type numbers for a WR) and many, many fantasy championships last year.  After MegaTron however it gets really interesting.  In both the real world and fantasyland, wide receivers are the most volatile skill position in the league.  Their success, as much as any position, is tied to a number of factors: offensive scheme, game-plan, quarterback, offensive line protection, etc.  Not only that, with the increasing number of 4 and 5 WR sets, more and more WRs are contributing (and becoming fantasy relevant).  Fortunately for you, The Machine is here to make sense of it all and tell you who will be the Top 10 WRs for 2012.  Getcha popcorn ready! (Rec/Yards/Rec TDs/Targets)

  1. Calvin Johnson (96/1681/16/157) – The easiest positional player to rank in 2012; Megatron has established himself as the most dominate wide-receiver in football.  You can’t play up on him because he’s so physically strong he’ll run through you.  You can’t play off of him because he’ll run right by you.   He is a deep-threat and an absolute BEAST in the redzone. Your only chance is to roll coverage to his side of the field or assign two DBs to him.  And even then he can out-run, out-muscle, out-jump and outreach (82” wingspan) your coverage.  A signature Calvin Johnson play was Week 4 vs. Dallas. Early in the 4th quarter, with the Lions down by 14, on a 1st-and-10 from the Cowboys 24 yard line, Stafford throws a “jump ball” to the back of the end zone and with a safety draped all over him, ‘Tron out jumps a corner and an underneath linebacker for a TD.  Simply incredible.  Not only that, Megatron saved some of his best work for the playoff push, averaging 26+ fantasy points (non-ppr) from weeks 14-17.  Unless a team shows up with Optimus Prime as the defensive coordinator, there is no stopping Megatron. (Sorry, that will be The Machines only corny Transformers joke when it comes to Calvin, promise).
  1. Andre Johnson (33/492/2/51) – God willing, ‘Dre will be on every single one of The Machines fantasy rosters this year.  He is an absolute match-up nightmare and is coming at somewhat of a discount due to the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude that plaques so many fantasy owners.  AJs injury was a complete fluke last year.  Not only that, he rehabbed to the point where he dropped (13/201/2) in two playoff games last year…and that was with TJ Yates at the helm!  We’re not doctors (even though we proudly own a t-shirt that reads ‘Free Breast Exams’) or physiatrists for that matter, but The Machine has pretty strong intel suggesting AJ is completely healthy and motivated to prove he is still elite.  He’s got the talent, a steady offensive system, an adequate enough QB to translate into a 1300yrd/9TD season.  Get him!
  1. Larry Fitzgerald (80/1411/8/152) – Meet Mr. Reliable.  It doesn’t matter how shitty of a QB Whizz marches out there – Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Richard Bartel – Fitz continues to put up numbers.  The Machine doesn’t buy into the “he’s the hardest working man in football” routine; listen if somebody paid us $10M a year to catch footballs we’d work our asses off too!  But we can appreciate that Fitz’s conditioning is legendary and he has stayed relatively injury free.  Larry’s fantasy floor is incredibility high; however his QB (or lack there of) prevents his ceiling from reaching the top rank.  Draft Fitz with confidence, just try not to watch the boxscore, or let alone a Cardinals game if you don’t have to.
  1. Greg Jennings (67/949/9/101) – Yes, we will take a piece of that Aaron Rodger pie thank you.  Okay, so that sounded really gay, but the point is that Jennings is tied to the best offense, the best quarterback and the best play-caller in football these days and that more than makes up for his lack of elite talent. Jennings is a smooth route runner and has the full trust of Rodgers.  Plus, the Packers can’t run the ball for a lick.
  1. Hakeem Nicks (75/1183/7/129) – Most people will tell you that ranking Hakeem Nicks at #5 is too high.  Well, most people don’t win fantasy championships either.  Nicks is an absolute monster.  We’ve already confessed our man-crush on Brother Eli; and Nicks is on the receiving end of most of those Manning fire balls.  The Machine isn’t going to second guess Jerry Reese’s eye for talent.  He knew he had a stud in the making when he drafted him, and this will be Nicks “breakout” year.  Barring a setback from his rehab (on track for preseason), The Machine fully expects an 85/1300/10 type of season.  You’re welcome.
  1. Julio Jones (54/959/8/94) – If you’re starting a keeper league this year there are three must-have players: Cam Newton, Trent Richardson and Julio Jones.  Jones is as physically gifted as they come.  Consider this: had Julio returned for his senior season (and had the type of season he is capable of) the Rams probably stay put and take him #2 overall in the 2012 draft.  He is that good.   Admittedly, he is a bit rough as a route runner, but he bursting with raw potential.  The Machine strongly feels he could have a TO-type impact (minus all the baggage) on the football field.
  1. AJ Green (65/1057/7/112) – Speaking of the 2011 draft class, Green was selected two picks before Jones, but he ranks just behind Julio on our list.  We absolutely love the talent, skill set, route-running, catch-radius and potential to put up big time numbers.  Green will be a dominate force for years to come.  At this point in time, however, the Bungals offense isn’t as far along as Atlanta’s, and defenses will be keying on taking away Green.  They won’t have much success.  Plus, he has the ultra-reliable, dependable, cannon-armed, gun-slingin, good-looking Big Red Icon, Andy Dalton slinging him the rock, what’s not to love about that?! (We take care of our own!).
  1. Wes Welker (122/1569/9/173) – This little shit never stops.  It seems like he’s targeted 29 times a game and catches everything (except during Super Bowl defining final drives that is).  He is an integral part of the New England Offensive Machine, and there is no reason to think he won’t catch 100 balls.  The touchdowns may be down a tick with Lloyd in town and their two-headed TE monster doing their thing, but you can always seem to pencil him in for 7 catches a game and solid yardage totals.
  1. Roddy White (100/1296/8/178) – Roddy Roddy Roddy!  It speaks volumes to the depth of the receiver position this year when you have a guy that is coming off back-to-back 100+ catch (and 178 target) seasons as your #9 receiver.  As it sits now, The Machine just can’t get over the potential (and youth/stud factor) of the guys ranked above Roddy.  We would certainly have no qualms with Roddy as a WR1 on our squads this year, as Matty Ice and he have as strong a connection as any QB-WR combo in the league.  But there could be a slight regression in his numbers as the offense (and Julio Jones) evolves.
  1. Percy Harvin (87/967/6/119) – Percy, bro, you’re not going anywhere.  With AP nicked up you are the only juice that offense has left!  The Machine loves versatile players that play angry and have imaginary headaches to get out of practices; and guess who fits that description?  Ding, ding, ding.  Percy is a jack-of-all trades, master of most! To go along with the listed stats, Percy also had 520 return yards, 1 return TD, 345 rushing yards (on 52 attempts) and 2 rushing TDs.  It certainly took offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave long enough to figure out how to utilize Harvin; he only had 43 targets in the first half of the season compared to 76 in the second half.  With AP on the mend, the “migraines” under control and the O-coordinator on board, it could be a monster season for Harvin.

Tuesday Teabag, July 24th

Larry Johnson did help The Machine win a fantasy championship, so it’s not all bad.

(note:  before reading, insert your Twister Sister Stay Hungry tape, Side A, Song 3, Burn in Hell).  Enjoy.

Sure, they may have taken a hundred wins from you, but congratulations Joe Pa, you’ve won your first Tuesday Teabag Award, posthumous!  Sure, The Machine generally frowns upon speaking badly about the dead (on the contrary, our Dick Clark celebrity death pool celebration may have been a bit over the top), but you sir deserve every piece of dribble and trash coming your way!  So, fuck you!  You gainfully employed a KNOWN pedophile and covered for the creep while he destroyed so many young lives, just so you could protect your bullshit football program!  Then you negotiated your golden parachute just as the scandal was breaking!  And the best you could give us was Todd Blackledge, Courtney Brown and Ki-Jana Carter?!  Thanks Joe!

The only thing more sickening than this whole story is the fact that NOTHING will actually change in the cultural fabric of college football.  Really, this travesty could have happened at any of the big college football programs:  Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Notre Dame (oh wait, ND is a religious institution steeped in the Catholic faith, a sex scandal involving little boys….err); take your pick.  Big time college football equals big time money.  The greed and lust of these major universities is more important than morality, reasonability, education, and apparently even sexual crimes against children.  If Mark Emmert really wanted to drop the proverbal hammer he should have cancelled ALL NCAA Football for a year.  But he didn’t.  So instead we are left to pile on you, Joe Pa, and all of your bullshit supporters.  That includes you Lou Holtz.  You were well on your way to losing all credibility with your shitty ESPN College Gameday coverage.  Those “coaches’ corner” segments are brutal (seriously ESPN, just tell him the camera’s on, he won’t know the difference).  But with your recent comments that the penalty was too harsh, and the NCAA is destroying Joe Pa’s legacy, you stepped over the line old man.  You’re absolutely what everyone hates about college football right now:  protecting the coaching fraternity above all else.

But enough about Lou, let’s get back to the Machine’s first ever Tuesday Teabag winner.  Joe Pa, you built a 40+ year career preaching honor, discipline, and integrity.  How could you possibly live with yourself, and more importantly, why?  Simple:  money and ego.  The NCAA fined Penn St. $60 million, which sounds like a lot, until you realize that represents the ANNUAL revenue of the football program.  That’s all you need to know.  Joe Pa wouldn’t let anything ruin that cash cow, or tarnish his image or quest to be the all-time winningest coach.  Irony’s a bitch, huh?  Your name will always be associated with this scandal, and you will never regain your place as one of the greatest coaches of all time (sorry bro, but they don’t put statues back up after they’ve been torn down.  Just ask Saddam).  

And to State College, please stop wallowing in your ignorance; get your head out of your ass and show the rest of world that you won’t turn a blind eye to the facts, unlike Joe Pa.  The simple truth is no penalty could have been too harsh.  Burn in hell.

2012 Top 10 Fantasy TEs

People ask the Machine all the time:  when should I draft a TE?  The answer, much like the answer to “is she hot” and “do you think I have a shot” is:  it depends.  Most Fantasy Football “experts” will tell you not to draft a TE until at least Round 5.  That’s sooo 2005, and the Machine is here to call bullshit on that outdated thinking.  Like Shakira’s hips, the numbers don’t lie.  The new-age TEs have become an integral part of the passing game…and are more than just big, dumb meatheads that block and occasionally run the seam.  In some cases they are the first option in the offense (see 49ers, San Francisco).  In fact, 4 of the Machine’s Top 10 are from the c2010 Draft.  Fact: top flight TE’s should be viewed as #1 WRs.  Here are the Machine’s Top 10 TEs for 2012 (Receptions/Yards/TDs).

1.  Rob Gronkowski (90/1327/17).  Gronk had more TDs than Megatron, and more receptions than Fitz.  Case closed.  Always thought of as having first round talent, Gronk dropped to the second round in 2010 due to injury concerns.  However, in his first two years in the league, he’s never missed a game, proof that the NFL has the best trainers (and access to pain meds) in all of sport.  Whatever the reason, he’s Tom Brady’s go to target in the red zone, and an integral part of the Pats offense.  Look for Gronk to reign supreme as your 2012 TE fantasy champ.

2.  Jimmy Graham (99/1310/11).  There was a lot of hype about Jimmy at the beginning of last year, and he more than backed it up.  Jimmy thing finished #3 in receptions, in the entire fucking league, trailing only Wes (“token”) Welker (122) and Roddy White (100).  Perhaps even more impressive, Jimmy led the pass-happy Saints in receptions, yards, and tds.  Another year in that high octane offense should only further increase his role.  You heard it here first:  Jimmy will top triple digits in receptions this year.  Jimmy and Gronk are in a class by themselves.

3.  Jermichael Finley (55/767/8).  Jermichael was finally healthy for an entire season, and backed it up with some solid numbers.  Although there are several TEs that had more productivity in 2011, 2012 is all about projecting baby…and the Machine likes what Jermichael’s selling…we also like saying Jermichael, it’s right up there as one of the top made up names that begin with “Jer” (a close second to Jermajesty Jackson).  Anyway, Jermichael, if healthy, should shine in 2012.  With Donald Driver taking on even less of a role, Jermichael is definitely the #2 passing option behind Greg Jennings.  And, because the Packers rotate so many WRs in and out, he’s going to be on the field more than Jordy Nelson or James Jones, leading to more balls going his way on a consistent basis.  Certainly not on the level of Gronk or Graham (now is where you start drafting a TE in Round 5) look for Jermichael to have a dramatic increase in production, surprising many, but not the Machine or its loyal fan base.

4.  Jason Witten (79/942/5).  You simply can’t go wrong with Witten on your team.  What’s not to like about him (except that he’s a Cowboy)?  He puts up consistently solid numbers, has only missed one game his entire career (and that was back in 2005) and he’s Tony Romo’s best friend.  That bromance leads to action (on the field of course).  While his numbers were down compared to the two previous seasons where he caught 94 balls and had 1,000+ yards each year, he’s still Tony’s “roommate” on road trips, and that close, plutonic bond should continue to produce solid fantasy numbers, and whispers in the locker room.

5.  Vernon Davis (67/792/6).  Vernon blurs the distinction between TE and WR, probably more so than anyone on this list.  Not just because he has the speed and route running ability of a WR along with the power of a TE on his chiseled 6’3”, 250 lb frame, but also because he’s a diva, which is traditionally reserved only for WRs.  Sorry Vernon, but there’s no crying in football, unless you’re Dick Vermeil or a WR, and Vernon’s post-game crying after catching the winning touchdown against the Saints is more T.O. than Vermeil.  Don’t forget he was banished to the locker room DURING A GAME.  Also, do a google image search for Vernon Davis and you’ll see just how into himself he is…either that, or he doesn’t realize he has enough money to buy a shirt.  While this would normally get him top diva honors on most teams, Vernon ranks #3 on the niners in that regard (behind Randy Moss and wanna-be Randy Moss Michael Crabtree).  Whatever, you’re not drafting for personality, you’re drafting for results, and although Vernon had career lows in receptions, yards, and tds in 2011, he’s still the best receiver (and athlete) on the 49ers offense, and even with Alex Smith at the helm, Vernon should get his.  Look for Vernon to get back to his usual stats, roughly high 70’s/900/10.

6.  Brandon Pettigrew (83/777/5).  The Machine is a big Pettigrew fan.  He had a banner 2011, with career highs in receptions, yards, and tds.  He has the talent to be a top 3 TE.  The only thing holding him back is Megatron, who (rightfully) is the first, second, and third option, especially in the red zone.  From a fantasy perspective, this makes it unlikely for Brandon to crack double digit tds, which is what separates the great from the good.  Still, there’s plenty of balls for him to catch in that offense, and he seems to have developed good chemistry with Stafford.

7.  Jermaine Gresham (56/596/6).  Jermaine should improve upon his 2011 stats.  With Jerome Simpson no longer flipping over folks (or slinging the rock) in Cincinnati, Gresham becomes the #2 passing option behind dynamo A.J. Green.  One knock on Jermaine is durability…he’s yet to play a full season.  If healthy, the sky’s the limit.  There’s a good, young, offensive nucleus in Cincy, think of them as a poor man’s Detroit Lions (did you ever think you’d say that?).  What this amounts to is greater involvement, and production, from Jermaine.

8.  Tony Gonzalez (80/875/7).  At age 97 (ok 36 but still that’s fucking old for a TE) you would think Tony would break down by now.  I get it.  He’s old.  How old?  Well, when he came into the league (1997), the Machine was in college, Bill Clinton had yet to be blown by Monica (we think), and the number one song was Mo Money Mo Problems.  That’s how old Gonzo is.  However, the dude doesn’t break down.  Out of a possible 240 regular season games, he’s played in 238.  And he hasn’t slowed down like so many of his contemporaries.  He’s been with Atlanta for three years, and has averaged 77/799/6.  Oh, and he hasn’t missed a game as a Falcon.  Look for Tony go have a 2012 similar to his three year average.  Not bad for a dude born during the Carter administration.

9.  Antonio Gates (64/778/7).  For sure the best undrafted TE of all-time, for years Antonio has been at the top of the fantasy TE list.  However, although he’s 4 years his junior, Antonio is the anti-Tony Gonzalez.  Injuries have taken toll (he hasn’t played a full season since 2009), and Antonio should no longer be thought of as a top flight TE.  Notwithstanding, he’s still a good TE and, when healthy, a very productive one.  The Machine sees him coming into the twilight of his career.  Age, plus injury concerns, means you’ll soon be talking about the games on Sunday instead of playing in them.

10.  Aaron Hernandez (79/910/7).  Hernandez not only bookends the Patriots on this list (something that before last year would be unheard of) but he rounds out the solid class of 2010 TEs, along with Gronk, Jimmy, and Jermaine.  He makes the Top 10 even though he’s the #2 TE on his team (again, something that’s unheard of).  Don’t let that scare you too much.  The Patriots do things differently because they can, and Hernandez is in line to put up solid numbers again.  He hasn’t played a full season yet, and that’s pause for some concern, but Tom Brady loves to spread the ball around, so, if healthy, he should have no problems putting up solid numbers.

All Arrest Club – 2012 Edition

Not only does the Machine provide you with cutting edge, expert analysis, but we can also see the future (if the Machine’s bookie is reading this post, just kidding, we’re just lucky).  Anyway, you don’t really need a crystal ball to know the following:  lots of NFL players get arrested, and will continue to get arrested.  In fact, as I’m writing this post, Elvis Dumerville just posted bail after what sounds like a pretty sweet bender in Miami.  Aggravated assault with a firearm…way to represent the U!  And T.O. may be headed to the pokey for failing to pay child support (note to all professional athletes:  Wrap it Up!).  So, since training camp is still weeks away, there’s plenty of time for the shenanigans to continue.  Thus, here are the Top 5 players likely to get arrested during the 2012 season (per the Ray Lewis Rule, the end of the season for purposes of this exercise is the morning after the Super Bowl).  Feel free to add your favorites in the comments.

**UPDATE**  Obviously unhappy at being left off the list, within 24 hours, Dez Bryant and Marshawn Lynch were arrested.  Dez for shoving his mom at a family BBQ and Marshawn for DUI.  Don’t forget, Beastmode also pinballed a lady off his Porsche while in Buffalo, so he does get some props (and likely suspension) for being a repeat offender.  Keep it up fellas, you’re well on your way to being on the Machine’s mid-year arrest review list.

**UPDATE 2** Proving that character concerns in college lead to character concerns in the pros, Kenny Britt was popped for a DWI (DUIs are for pussies) at 3:30 am Friday (7/20) morning.  Britt gets extra points because, allegedly, he was stopped while trying to access an army base with a female soldier.  There’s nothing wrong with giving back to the troops, but when it involves a suspension (release?) from your employer, maybe you should just wear a flag pin.

**Update 3** Aaron Berry, CB for the Lions (shocker).  Berry, who hails from the rough streets of Harrisburg, PA, was arrested for assualt on 7/21.  This on the heels of his June 23 arrest for suspicion of DUI.  If you’re keeping score at home, Berry has more arrests than career INTs.  Thus, don’t be surprised if the Lions release Berry, and use this opportunity to show the world they are holding players responsible for their actions (translation: we only hold underperforming players responsible for their actions).

5.  Adam Jones, CB, Cincinnati Bengals.  Yes, this is probably the lowest hanging fruit of all time, but come on, how does Pac not make this list?  He’s only 28, but has the arrest record of seasoned criminal.  What’s truly impressive is that he’s still in the league.  Only playing in 8 games last year, Pac’s interceptions and fumbles recovered matched Bluto’s GPA in Animal House (0.0).  Complicating matters, Pac just got hit with an $11 million judgment for his role in Make it Rain night in Vegas.   With a base salary of only $950,000, Pac will need to supplement his income.  The Machine predicts an arrest for (i) a night job as a Street Pharmacist and/or (ii) a “misunderstanding” with a stripper (yes, we’re actually calling the arrest on this one).  However, we’re giving Pac the benefit of the doubt (sort of) by listing him #5.  With his recent life-coaching to NFL rookies at the Rookie Symposium (which followed Tim Tebow’s Snitches get Stitches talk) maybe he’s turned a corner…or maybe he needs another story to tell next years’ rookies.

4.  Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots.  Big, oafy, white meatheads in the club are just asking to get arrested.  Enter Gronk, who dazzled us with his post-Super Bowl loss dance moves.  If it weren’t for football, Gronk would be a cast member on Jersey Shore or a professional Spring Break attendee.  He’s got Disorderly Conduct written all over him

3.  Richie Incognito, OG, Miami Dolphins.  Widely regarding as the biggest d-bag in the NFL, it’s truly a surprise to learn that Richie has yet to be tased by law enforcement.  He seems like a guy who has trouble separating his game-time persona with is off-the field persona.  All this leads to a Friday’s employee with a broken nose (“I said no onions on my burger mother fucker!!!”).

2.  Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears.  Marshall’s definitely got the “it” factor.  What it factor is that you say?  Ability to create separation from DBs (check).  Big physical route runner (check).  He’s got it all, but he also has one special trait that puts him #2 on our list.  He’s got the crazy.  Brandon’s got a list that makes Pacman blush.  Assaulting a police officer at Denny’s (check), returning stolen bed sheets to Burlington Coat Factory (check), a slew of domestic violence incidents (check), DUI (you know it).  He’s also been stabbed by his wife, who sounds like she’s got her own case of the crazy.  This really doubles his chances of getting arrested.  Brandon (or his agent/PR team) claims to suffer from borderline personality disorder (“BPD”) (seriously).  Look, the Machine’s no doctor, and we don’t really want to rag on someone with a legitimate medical condition.  However, medical degree or no medical degree, we’re not aware of any illness whose symptoms include multiple (alleged) assaults, violence towards women, and problems with alcohol.  If that’s the case, the entire NBA, and fans of country music, suffer from BPD.

1.  Nick Fairley, DT, Detroit Lions.  Why would Nick Fairley, who was arrested twice in two months this year (April for weed and May for driving triple digits in his Escalade), risk getting arrested again.  Well, Nick takes the coveted spot as #1 for a couple reasons.  One, he’s a Detroit Lion.  The Lions, while quickly gaining respect as a football organization (the Millen years almost caused irreparable damage) are also piling up the arrests.  They make the ’09 Bengals look like a Boy Scout Troop.  Two, it’s obvious there is little, if any, institutional control in Detroit.  With bat-shit crazy teammate Ndamukung Suh anchoring the d-line alongside Fairley, the Machine guesses these two have a competition to engage in all sorts of nefarious activities.  Three, well, simply put, good things come in threes.  While Nick missed going three for three with an arrest-free June, there’s still plenty of time in the calendar to prove the Machine right and bring home the triple crown (bonus points if the third arrest is something new).  The Machine’s money is on a post-Thanksgiving Day game fight at a club.  You got this in the bag Nick!