Monthly Archives: August 2013

SHORT BREAK FOR PRESS BOX PILLOW TALK

Pillowtalkers…with O’leary and I going back to school this week, it has been very difficult to get posts up. It has been chaos lately, so we decided it would be best to take a short break until we get settled in and our classes start. When we get back in our class routine, we will go back to our daily posts. In around a week and a half…

…we’ll be back.

 

 

– Steve Butabi

Advertisements

PRESEASON: 4 TEAMS WHO HAVE IMPRESSED

Image

Apologies Pillow Talkers, Connor has spent the last couple days moving back into his college house down in Florida, and I have been running around getting ready to move back to mine on friday. We should be getting back to our daily posts now.

Today i’m gonna break down some of the teams that have looked sharp this preseason. I’m only talking first team units here, sorry but when Rex Grossman goes in the game, i stop paying attention.

1. Chicago Bears: 

Image

The boys! Cutler and Marshall’s love affair has reached new heights. Last year Cutler targeted Marshall an absurd 192 times. New coach, new offense, but the absurdity has continued into this preseason. Cutler keeps throwing “the beast” the rock, and it’s working out. New addition Martellus Bennet has looked good early as well. Matt Forte looks like he’s back to 2010 form, and Michael Bush has looked good as the #2. With Tressman at the helm, this offense is poised for a big year. The defense has looked crisp early on led by Peppers. He’s getting up there in years but you wouldn’t notice it. Peanut Tillman is the man, but other than those guys this defense isn’t full of studs, but they always end up at the top of the league regardless.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Image

Smith and Andy Ried…the saviors? It’s funny how a coach who was just ran out of town, and a QB who has been criticized his whole career come into town and all of the sudden they’re  a playoff threat. But it’s the truth…Andy Ried is a great coach he just needed a change of scenery, and Smith is a quality QB who can ball out. Those 2 guys will help, but Jamaal Charles is still the guy on offense, he looked great before his injury, and if he stays healthy they will be solid on offense. I know the 49ers beat them up pretty good, but that was without Charles. Charles, Smith and Dwyane Bowe, with the hybrid spark plug that is Dexter McCluster is solid, but they do need 1 more receiver to step up…perhaps recently traded for Aj Jenkins?…ha. Defensively this team might be the most underrated in the league, and they’ve looked legit this preseason. Their linebackers can rival San Fran’s…Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Akeem Jordan are legit. At corner they’re riding with Brandon Flowers, Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith – 3 legit starters. Not sure which one of them will be the nickel and cover the slot. Last but not least, they have one of the best young safeties in the league, Eric Berry. If Andy Ried can work his magic with that offense, this team has a chance to be dangerous in a very weak AFC.

3. New England Patrios

Image

No Welker, no Hernandez, no Lloyd, no Gronk, and yet the Patriots have looked as sharp as ever. Before the preseason, I was not one of those guys who believed that Brady could run out there with any random group of receivers and do work. But so far this preseason, he has proved me wrong. Amendola, Dobson, Kembrell Thompkins? So far it doesn’t matter who “The greatest living American” has thrown to, all that matter is he’s completing passes. It looks like the Pats will be going to Ridley in a power run game. They have been an underrated rushing team the past couple of years, and will crank it up on the ground even more this year. They straight up bullied the eagles on the ground in their 1st preseason game. The defense has looked pretty average this preseason. It doesn’t need to be great though, it just has to be good enough. In a year with the Steelers down, the Broncos banged up, and the Ravens rebuilt, the new-look Pats just might be the favorite.

4. Buffalo Bills

Image

I’m sure i wasn’t the only one who said, “What in the hell?” when the Bills drafter EJ Manuel. I was actually with a couple Bills fans during the draft, and they were not pleased. But now the new Bills regime looks like prophets, because this kid has been for real. Now there’s no telling if it will continue when the regular season starts, but as far as preseason performances go, this kid has put 2 special ones up. He had minor knee surgery but will be back for week 1, hopefully the Bills let this kid cook when the time comes, because they have no chance with Kevin Kolb. CJ Spiller is a top 5 RB talent in the league, and now he finally has his chance. Robert Woods has impressed everyone as well. Stevie Johnson, Woods, Spiller, and Manuel at the helm running the read-option? Could be fire. The defense has looked improved as well, stifling Andrew Luck and the Colts in their first game. Now of all 4 of these teams,  I would say that the Bills have the highest chance of not translating into the regular season. Teams will cover the quick throws much tighter, and will game plan for Manuel. Manuel has shown me enough to where i believe he can still be a good playmaker though. With Manuel, the bills will put up points, but can their defense hold up…that is the question.

-Steve Butabi

Tagged

TBT: Jason “White Chocolate” Williams

Image

(Check out a young Pau in the background…classic)

Jason Williams in my opinion was one of the most underrated point guards in the history of the league in terms of entertainment value. The guy consistently dropped jaw-dropping dimes from all angles and with both hands.

Originally from West Virginia, White Chocolate stayed in state to play for Billy Donavan at Marshall. Williams was the star point guard for a solid team. When Billy Donavan took the Florida job, Jason Williams followed. His senior year he was averaging 17 points and 7 assists per game before getting suspended for failing his 3rd drug test (all for weed). Even after the drug tests, the Kings drafted him with the 7th overall pick. Williams, C-Web, Vlade and Peja were a fun group to watch. Until Jason Williams failed another drug test and was traded to the Grizzlies. After a couple solid years in Memphis, Jason Williams was sent to Miami in a blockbuster. That year in 05-06, Williams was the starting point guard for the D-Wade-led heat that won the NBA championship. After he retired he was named as one of the Heat’s top 25 players of all time.

Image

But it wasn’t what J-Will did that made him a legend, it was how he did it. Not once did he make the smart play…he went the flashy route 100% of the time. Again, in my opinion he was the most fun point guard to watch of all time. Not a game went by that Williams didn’t make at least 1 pass that made the crowd go nuts. Behind the back, through the legs, no looks, he did it all. He literally played street ball in the NBA, and i don’t think thats an exaggeration. He also pulled THE single greatest pass in basketball history “the elbow pass” that will be remembered forever. Take a look at this unreal highlight tape. (Elbow pass comes in at the 2:10 mark).

– Steve Butabi

Tagged

HDH: August 14th, Manny Ramirez

manny 1

Where to start with manny? The guy used to be able to hit the stitching off a baseball, but thats not why he’s this weeks hump day hero. Whether it was his anger issues at the plate, lack of shit-giving in the outfield, or ability to goof off no matter what the situation was, Manny was a legend. Check out this vid to get a quick reminder of how awesome he was back in the day…

if you didn’t laugh at that cutoff play than I’m not sure what you would laugh at.

If you watched that video till the end you saw him enter the Monster on a mound visit, well that wasn’t a special moment because he did it quite often.  Rumors used to circle the league saying he would use the bathroom back there all the time, and sometime just sit down and relax. Who else in baseball has the nads to just pop a squat mid-game? I know manny does.

Image

He jumped from team to team just throwing temper tantrums and hitting mediocre, which lead to his hilarious random retirement.. which happened to be very short-lived. He was just let go by the rangers earlier today so sadly it might be the end of this smiling face.  Manny’s hall of fame chances got hurt when he failed a drug test in ’09, but for a hall of fame talent, manny had the most fun on the field, hands down. Happy hump day from the pillow talkers and Manny!

– Throc Morton

FANTASY GURU: UNDERRATED WR’S & TE’S

Butabi here, informing you that our fantasy guru Philipp J. Ferstenblatt is back to give you some more underrated players in fantasy for the upcoming year. In this post he breaks down 3 underrated WR’s and TE’s.

Top 3 Underrated Wide Receivers

1.) Alshon Jeffrey

Image

This player has been turning heads since his Gamecock days when his chemistry with full time USC party legend and part time quarterback Stephen Garcia was beyond explosive. He has a fiery temper, which is displayed in all of the penalties he tallies up and absolutely thrilling fights (particularly with Alfonzo Dennard), have lead to some face palming moments, but do not let that scare you because his job is definitely on the line this year. He can make a successful career for himself as long as he listens to his mentor, Brandon Marshall (scary thought, right?! Never thought mentor and Brandon Marshall could be used in the same sentence.), stays healthy and reduces the amount of penalties he obtains from just playing far too aggressively. As a fantasy owner, you always want that hot head mentality in your players, but you also want consistency, which is clearly lacking. His 3 “tuddies” were far from acceptable for the number two man on the Bears, however, if you can get your hands on him towards the second half of your 12 man draft, snag him. He’s a good guy to have once you have an established wide receiver corps. For those of you who want to see this fight, here. Okay, maybe I hyped this up a lot, but as far as NFL football brawls go, I think its pretty sweet. (0:52)

2. Brian Quick

I was the laughing stock of my league for taking him last year, but then again, I was made fun of for taking Jimmy Graham in the 6 so, child please. Brian had an atrocious year last year, but he may be able to step it up this year. There’s a lot of talent all of a sudden on the Rams aerial attack, and he is one of the reasons. With Givens, Pettis, Austin, and Quick, there is a lot of competition for field time. This offseason should’ve given the former second round draft pick time to learn the playbook since clearly last year, he had no idea what sport he was playing. I know I’m not selling him well thus far, but let me remind you of his competition. Seahawks, a team he must face twice a year, have Sherman and Browner who seem to have the speed, instincts, and coverage skills to take out anyone of these 6-foot or shorter wide receivers. This is where Quick comes in. Quick’s niche comes in play when he is utilized for the fade routes and jump balls. If Brian Quick has the hops to get over these secondary players, there is no one in the league who’ll be able to sufficiently cover him in the red zone. That is why he will be a tremendous fantasy player. I don’t care how well his out routes or his drags are, he is a red zone player and that is all the reason I need to save him a spot on my WR bench.

3. Darrius Heyward-Bey

Image

The best overall receiver Oakland has finally departed for the Midwest and joined the Indianapolis Colts. Darrius will probably be the most productive player to line up on the other side of the hash marks from Wayne since Marvin Harrison (except for Austin Collie but his brain was always half functional due to an unbelievable amount of concussions, so his lack of presence on the field gives me the ability to count him out as a consistent AND productive tool). This star has had a history of knee problems, which is a huge red flag so beware! However, out of all the sleepers I have discussed, he will be the most productive, but is also the biggest risk at the same time so don’t say I didn’t warn you. He will challenge the AFC South secondaries along with T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne. Not to mention Luck’s longtime friend and favorite target, Coby Fleener. I can see Darrius finally living up to his potential and demolishing his measly 5 TD career high season from last year.

Top 3 Underrated Tight Ends

1. Rob Housler

Perhaps one of the fastest 6’5” guy you’ll ever come across. At 250 pounds and running a 4.4, this makes him one tough dude to cover. He has been compared to Jimmy Graham and we all know how athletic he is. Larry Fitzgerald has nothing but praise for the guy. He can run, jump, block (but who cares, no fantasy points for that) and most importantly, has been significantly improving his catching skills. Honestly, with all these positive reviews on the guy, I can’t see a good reason why you wouldn’t take him…Oh, yeah, because he is completely unproven! Look, if you are looking at how Bruce Arians utilizes his tight ends (South Park ski instructor meme input), “your gonna have a bad time”. Bruce has been known to ignore the tight end in the passing game’s scheme and would rather use a wide receiver and take tight ends off the field. However, if you are one to see the glass as half full, then examine how Palmer targets his tight ends. According to http://www.4for4.com’s John Paulsen, when Carson has “talent” at the tight end position, he will throw to them on average 6 times a game, putting him in the upper half of the league for quarterbacks aiming for the tight end. To cut to the chase, size, height, and speed do not lie, but his poor hands from last season have me worried. If he can adapt to Arian’s vertical offense well, sky is the limit, which he could certainly reach. There is no doubt that he will be a key element in this new offense, but it is really up to you to gamble on Rob. Is he worthy to have a bench spot on your team? The skill set is present, but the professional experience is clearly vacant.

2. Jordan Cameron

Image

I’ll inform you all right off the bat, injuries have been the name of the game for this guy, so he is walking on a thin line. This behemoth was a basketball player who decided to return to the sport he truly loved, and I couldn’t be happier. Well, honestly, I would be happier if he wasn’t on the Browns, but beggars/sleepers can’t be choosers. Also, I am not a fan of how he has two first names; very untrustworthy. Cameron will probably be the most targeted person on the team since Gordon has been “discovered” and will be facing some serious coverage all season long. I have a feeling the Jordon will be beyond capable of beating most defenders to the jump ball, which is a huge plus when examining his red zone usage. On a weak offense, he really is one of the few shining stars. There isn’t much I can say about this guy, but I have a gut feeling that he will be Cleveland’s hero this season.

3. Travis Kelce

WHO? Yeah, I’m psychic and knew you were going to say that. Cool, so lets go over what his deal is. Let me introduce him as nothing short of a pure athlete. This rookie was the wildcat quarterback for Cincinnati, an absolute bear in run blocking, and a beast in hauling in passes in the end zone as he caught 8 last season in college. Understandably, he is a rookie, and I despise going with rookies as sleepers, but lets zoom in and examine the trees instead of the forest. The tight ends for KC are Tony Moeaki and Verona’s very own Anthony Fasano. The problem with these two? Moeaki’s knees are essentially the same pieces use for Lego’s Bionicles at this point so you can be pretty sure they won’t hold up for an entire 16 game season. Anthony is a blocker, and catches as if he were wearing oven mitts (not saying I can do a better job, but c’mon man, its your full-time job). So, considering Alex Smith has been spoiled with Vernon Davis, I am sure he will want to break in the new glove, and that glove is named Travis Kelce. Smith loved getting rid of the pigskin to his tight ends in SF and something tells me he won’t be changing up his tendencies all too much. A pretty deep, heavy sleeping pick, but a rewarding one at that.

This is what Tony Moeki looks like underneath his pads.

From your favorite and number 1 fantasy football guru,

Philipp “Phil” J. Ferstenblatt

Fantasy questions? Email me at Baldinaf@miamioh.edu

Tagged ,

3 more Bold Predictions for 2013 NFL season

Steve gave you his 3, now its time for Throc to let you know what he thinks is about to unfold. Lets get right into it.

1. Tyrann Mathieu Will Be The Defensive ROY

Image

I know that its just preseason, but Honey Badger was outstanding against the Packers.  He was jarring balls loose, making people miss on returns, and making athletic plays all over the field. Bruce Arians has been extremely high on Mathieu all throughout training camp, and we got a quick glimpse of why that is this past week.  With a mentor like patrick peterson, and a chip on his shoulder the size of Vince Wilfork, Honey Badger looks like he is motivated as all hell. Who cares if the guy was packing the bowl like Willie Nelson a year ago, he is still a heat-seaking missile when the pads are on, and that why I think not only will he be a force in the secondary with Peterson, but make enough big plays throughout the year to get him the Defensive Rookie Of the Year award.

2. Stephen Jackson Will Score 12+ TDs

Image

probably one of the most consistent players in the NFL in the past 8 years… and the scary part is he was doing it in St. Louis, where all hope left once Kurt Warner left.  He runs strong, fast, and with a purpose no matter what team he is on. A lot of people think his time is over as an NFL stud, but I think hes got at LEAST one more monster year.  Jackson has been over 1,000 yards 8 straight years, but he has only eclipsed 10 TDs once, I think that changes this year.  With Matty Ice ripping the rock around the outside and opening up holes for his bruiser, Jackson should benefit big time.  Julio Jones and Tony G are two of the best redzone threats in the game, which will help Jackson get some goal line carries without having all eyes on him (something he has never been blessed with in St. Louis). The Falcons are dangerous, and that is why I think Stephen Jackson will find a big 2nd wind and bust into paydirt more than 12 times this year.

3. Russell Wilson Out-Performs Luck and RGIII, In a Big Way

Image

its not a secret that Russell Wilson is good, with the potential to be great, everyone knows that… what I think people don’t know is that he will have a better season than any sophomore QB.  Luck is soooo promising and soooo talented, but I think he is still missing a few pieces around him.  RGIII is in the same boat, but he doesn’t benefit that teams have had an offseason to prepare for his offense. The pistol helped him tremendously, and a lot of people don’t understand that although he is a very talented football player, he might get picked on a little bit by defensive coordinators this year, especially coming off the ACL tear.  Russ Wilson is my favorite to win the three man sophomore stud race because his ability to do it all, from multiple different formations.  Marshawn Lynch is still in Beast Mode, and draws much more attention than alfred morris or whoever is going to start for the colts. Russell Wilson has the advantage in the run game, which is an asset that every QB needs as a sidekick. In my opinion, he throws the ball better than RGIII, and can run just as affectively, maybe even more now that RGIII has the knee question mark.  Luck might be more talented as a pocket passer, but right now Russell Wilson has a better opportunity to shine. I think he out plays both of them, and brings the Seahawks back into the post season, this time possibly going deeper. This season we are going to see a lot of GREAT quarterback play… look for Russ Wilson to be a bigger success story than he was last year.

– Throc Morton

3 BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR 2013 NFL SEASON

Boy am i glad that the NFL season is around the corner. Nothing better than weekends in the fall. Great college games on saturday, followed by NFL sundays. Throc and myself are both hitting you with 3 bold predictions each for the upcoming season. Here are mine:

1. Larry Fitzgerald Finishes Top 3 in Receiving Yards

Image

I stil think Larry Fitz is the second most talented wide out in the league. He had his worst year as a pro last year, hauling in only 4 td’s to go with his abysmal 789 yards. It’s not that his quarterbacks were bad, it’s that his quarterbacks were pathetic…worst in the league by far. That’s saying a lot considering the Jets’ Sanchez-Tebow nightmare. So this year the Cardinals brought in Carson Palmer, a massive improvement from last year, but still no star. But luckily for Fitz, Palmer doesn’t have to be a star, he just has to be able to get Larry the rock, which he is surely good enough to do. In addition to Palmer, the Cardinals brought in Bruce Arians,  who has consistently built great passing attacks over the years. Last year he made what everyone thought was going to be a horrible Colts offense into a downfield passing machine. Arians loves to throw it deep, and attack down the field…sound at all like Larry Fitz’s game?

2. NFC East Comes Back This Year to be NFL’s Best Conference

Image

The NFC East was horrible last year. The Eagles were a disaster, the Cowboys couldn’t put it together, the Giants were a little above average, and the Redskins were solid but never a big threat. This year it seems like everyone loves the NFC West with the 49ers, Seahawks, and improved Cardinals and Rams. Personally I am a big NFC North fan. Packers are always good, Bears will be good again, Vikings were solid last year and will be even better with Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, and the Lions added Reggie Bush and have the talent to go from 4-12 to 12-4. But i think this year is the revival of the NFC East.

-Eagles go from a nightmare to a dream (not dream-team). Chip Kelly’s fast paced offense will be effective, especially with Vick at the helm. Chip Kelly is more than just a play-caller though, his offense overshadows his motivating and overall coaching skills. They really could have used Maclin, but still will be fine and will put up points. They have a solid front 7, and with Nnamdi gone their defense will improve, that guy can’t cover his own damn bed.

Cowboys will be improved as well. They paid Romo big money, and he will back it up. When Dez Bryant stays out of trouble he is scary good, and has shown that in the preseason. If Demarco Murray can stay healthy they will be able to pound the rock as well as dish to weapons like Dez, Miles Austin and Witten. The defense has talent and can rush the passer.

Giants finally have everyone on their offense healthy going into the season. Nicks and Cruz are both legit, and camp reports say that Rueben Randle has been unreal this august. I like David Wilson and Andre Brown to replace Bradshaw. Wilson has big play ability, Brown is great on the goal line. JPP is out right now but i think he will be fine once the season starts. Osi is gone which doesn’t hurt, he was a liability in the run game. Giants don’t miss playoffs twice in a row.

Redskins were a solid team last year. RGIII has obviously re-energized the franchise. Alfred Morris is a good consistent runner, and Pierre Garcon and company are speedy weapons. It’s going to be interesting to see what Kyle Shanahan does in year 2 for RGIII coming off his injury. The defense is pretty solid, and will get Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan back. Defense will be improved a lot, but i don’t think the offense enjoys the same success as last year. I think the Skins will be solid, but could actually finish last in the division somewhere in the 6-10 to 8-8 range.

3. Jets Will finish .500

Image

Hey…it’s a bold prediction. Let the world know that yes, i am indeed a jets fan so i am a bit subjective here. But by no means am i saying the Jets will be good or make a playoff push or anything like that. I just don’t see how people are calling them one of the worst teams in football. Their roster top to bottom is not that bad. Plus the AFC East is no juggernaut this year. They can at the least go .500 within that division. Their defense was top 10 last year without Revis, and all they did was add Dee Milliner, Sheldon Richardson, Antwan Barnes and a couple other guys. Muhammad Wilkerson is a stud, Coples has started to come on, David Harris is a stud…their front 7 is legit. Cromartie and Dee Milliner as corners with Kyle Wilson as the nickel…i’d take that any day. Their defense can and will be top 10 again. Now their offense…It was horrible, it was pathetic, it was hard to watch last year. I was at the Thanksgiving Night game in which the “Buttfumble” occurred. The Jets organization should pay back all the people who bought tickets to that game. Anyway, Tebow is out of town, and Sanchez finally has to try hard now that they drafted Geno. It’s been a good competition so far, and Geno has actually seemed to adapt a little better and quicker than people thought. Chris Ivory is no stud, but he is absolutely an upgrade from Shonn Greene. Stephen Hill looks improved from last year, and the signing of Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow should help even though they are both nearing the end of their careers. Willie Colon was a good sign at left guard as well. Jeremy Kerley is a great little slot receiver, and If Santonio Holmes comes back, this offense can be much improved from last year. Holmes, Kerley, Stephen Hill, Edwards, Winslow, and Ivory…not a fearsome group by any means, but much improved from last year.

Now let’s go eat a goddamn snack.

– Steve Butabi

Tagged

DUFNER BREAKS THROUGH

Image

I said it in my Open Championship post, Dufner is one of my favorite guys on tour. I joked about the fact that he packs fat lips on the course, but the truth of the matter is I’ve never heard a negative thing about the guy. Everyone on tour loves him and his poised demeanor as well. Always calm, never complains, just goes out and plays. Yesterday he captured his 3rd win on the PGA tour and his first major, overtaking ole Jimmy Furyk in the process. Everyone is Dufnering today:

Image

Dufner had all of the headlines after he took full advantage of the soft-as-carvel golf course on friday, and shot a competitive course record 63. But it was actually Furyk who had the 54 hole lead after playing 3 days of consistent golf. We’ve seen Furyk do this before recently, and has failed to come through on sunday. Many people will say that by shooting +1 on the day yesterday, Furyk blew another opportunity, but that simply isn’t the case.

Image

It was Dufner who came out hot early, and spun some unbelievable wedge shots within a couple feet of the hole. Duf Daddy erased that 54 hole Furyk lead early after he birdied 4 and 5, then he also birdied 8. Furyk came out and birdied 6, but then took a bogey on 9, giving Dufner a 2 stroke lead making the turn. Dufner and Furyk were trading par for par until the 16th, when Dufner dropped another wedge less than a foot from the hole. Furyk responded with a very solid medium-ranged birdy putt, to keep his deficit at 2 strokes. Great back and forth action. The 2 hardest holes of the course were up next, so Dufner knew he could probably get away with par bogey and still win it. After they both took bogeys on 17 it was all but over. They also both took bogeys on 18, giving Dufner the win.

Dufner put the pressure on Furyk early, and didn’t let up. I’ve never seen anybody stick some of those approach shots so close, as consistently as Dufner did yesterday. He had 3 tap in birds. Once he was up, he continued his quality tee to green play. Crush the ball in the fairway, pick up the tee, put the approach in the heart of the dance floor, and two putt par. It was like clockwork. On 16 he knew he could really go for the throat and took an aggressive line at the pin, and put it a foot away. Maintaining a 2 stroke lead on the 2 hardest holes, he did what he had to do to finish Furyk off.

ESPN showed Dufner highlights, then talked about him for a good 45 seconds before talking about what Tiger did wrong and what he needs to do for next year in order to win another major. Come on fellas before the tournament you can talk Tiger all day, but sunday was Dufner’s day, Tiger was irrelevant and an absolute non factor.

For now on when Dufner tees off he will be introduced as a major champion winner. Congrats Duf, possibly a Duf dynasty now? Everyday im Dufnering? After all it is extremely Duf to win a major. And boy Tiger was really Dufing his shots all week. Ok i’m done.

PS…wouldn’t expect anything less from Duf Daddy than giving his good looking wife a couple of ass slaps on the 18th green.

– Steve Butabi

Tagged

Round 1 at the PGA Championship

Image

The PGA Championship is back at Oak Hill for the first time since 2003. “It’s one of the best setups I’ve ever seen, the way the PGA has set it up, I just think it’s incredibly well thought out,” said Phil Mickelson. The rain last night in Rochester, New York softened up the course, which made for some optimum scoring conditions this morning. Like Matt Kuchar illustrated after his round, the players with early tee times had the advantage. Some players like Kuchar took advantage of that, while others failed to capitalize. Here is a look at some of the more notable scores so far about three 3 quarters of the way through day 1.

Tiger Woods: Like love or hate him, it always starts with Tiger. Coming off of his dominating performance last week, Vegas had Tiger as a considerable 4 to 1 favorite. Given the fact that there well over 100 players in the field, 4 to 1 is a heavy favorite. Tiger did not justify that on day 1. He started on the back 9 and looked sharp, birdying 13 and 15, but struggled after he made the turn. It seemed like he was scrambling all day. A rare bogey of a par 5 for Tiger on 4, was compounded by his awful double bogey on 9 to finish +1. He had an up and down for par, but shanked it right into the sand, then left his sand shot very short and missed the putt. +1 is not where Tiger wanted to be, but theres plenty of golf to be played.

Rory McIlroy: The defending champ has struggled this year, but was on point early. He came ready to defend his title, birdying 1, 3 and 4. A bogey on the 5th puts him back to -2 but a good start should instill some confidence in the struggling star. Rory is on the 7th hole as I write.

Image

Jim Furyk: The awkward swing was firing on all cylinders today. Furyk has been quiet this year, missing 2 cuts out of the first 3 majors. But today he sent a message to the rest of the field by posting a score of -5. He was bogey free and 6 under through 17 holes before he bogeyed the difficult 9th hole. Jim put himself in scoring position all day, and his putter took advantage.

Matt Kuchar: Kuch was one of those guys who had an early tee time. He took advantage of the prime conditions posting a bogey free round at -3. Kuchar played all the par 3’s and par  5’s even, and birdied 3 par 4’s. Kuchar hits it pretty straight which should give him a pretty good chance on this unforgiving golf course.

Henrik Stenson: Stenson is having an incredible 2013. He is climbing his way back into the top 10 in the world with consistently solid golf. Today he was consistently inconsistent. He finished with a quality score of -2, but was very up and down all day. 5 birds and 3 bogeys made for an erratic day. He failed to capitalize on some quality opportunities but also made some great scrambles.

Jason Dufner: Dufner continued his solid play this year by ending day 1 of the PGA at -2. Like Stenson, Dufner was pretty erratic in his 5 birdy, 3 bogey day. If Dufner wants to make a run at this thing he is going to have to scramble a little better (easy for me to say…that rough is thicker than Ron Burgundy’s mustache).

PhIl Mickelson: Lefty’s Open Championship hangover seems to be continuing early on. He bogeyed 3 and double bogeyed 4. But he is only on the 5th hole right now, so he has plenty of golf ahead of him.

Brandt Snedeker: Sneds is off to a solid start. He is -1 through 8. A couple nice par saves and some vintage Snedeker putts is the reason he is under par right now. We all know this guy can roll the rock, I think this could be the 1 for Sneeeedeker.

Image

Other Notables:

Lee Westwood: -2 through 7

Ricky Fowler: Even — F

Adam Scott: -2 though 5

Justin Rose: Even through 5

Luke Donald: +1 through 5

Nicolas Colsaerts: -3 through 8

Steve Stricker: -2 — F

Bill Haas: -2 — F

Hunter Mahan: Even — F

Jason Day: -1 through 8

Graeme McDowell: Even — F

Obviously there is a lot of golf to be played today. But after day 1 to me it looks like Tiger is in his usual post 2008 major form, erratic off the tee but scrambling well. That is not the way to win majors. Phil struggling early but will have chances to claw his way back. The surprise to me is Rory coming in strong. If he can post a solid under par score, it could spark another classic Rory run.

– Steve Butabi

Tagged

FANTASY PREVIEW: TIGHT END

Image

The tight end position is traditionally a tricky one to rank, and this year is no different. There are so many question marks out there. When will Gronk be back/how will he be when he returns? Gates is 33 years old, and had only 49 catches last year, is he finished? Can the godfather of TE’s Tony Gonzalez still get it done at 38? Can Owen Daniels stay healthy? Vernon Davis’s production went down when Kaepernick took over, will that continue? Outside of Jimmy Graham I can’t really name any sure fire, consistent studs.

1. Jimmy Graham: He came back down to earth a little bit last year, but still finished with close to 1,000 yards and 9 td’s. With the aerial attack that they have down there in New Orleans, Jimmy will have plenty of opportunities to get back to his incredible numbers from 2011. The NFC south doesn’t exactly boast inordinate defenses either. I think Graham improves on his number from last year, and gets back to his 2011 form.

2. Tony Gonzalez: There are a lot of weapons in ATL, but that didn’t stop TG from reeling in 93 balls last year.The best tight end of all time is 38 this year, but is still productive. He was close to the 1,000 yard mark last year, and had 8 td’s.  In an offense that boasts weapons all over the field in Julio Jones, Roddy White, and now Steven Jackson, people often forget about that old guy in the middle of the field.

Image

3. Rob Gronkowski: He’s at 3 almost by default.  So many question marks surrounding this guy with his countless injuries and surgeries. But when healthy he’s the best in the league. If he can get back on the field, he could come back in a huge way. Think about it…who else on god’s gracious earth is Tom Terrific going to pass to? Something tells me that Brady will be looking Gronk’s way often. I think even if Gronk misses a couple games early on, he could still finish #1 in TE points. It’s just a matter of whether you want to take that risk.

4. Jason Witten: He’s still a viable target. Witten was the only tight end in the league to get to the 1,000 yard mark last year. He had an unreal 110 catches. But only 3 td’s? For whatever reason Romo just does not look Witten’s way in the red zone. I think that changes this year. It will be very hard to replicate 110 catches and over 1,000 yards, but i think Witten at least doubles his touchdown count from last year.

5. Kyle Rudolph: The golden domer alum nabbed 9 tuddy’s last year. But he was extremely inconsistent with only 53 catches and not even 500 yards receiving. In Rudolph and Ponder’s 3rd year together, I see improvement. The game plan will continue to be feed the beast that is Adrian Peterson, but Rudolph can work off play-action and will rarely get double teamed now that Greg Jennings is in town. He also sees soft defenses in the Packers and Lions twice a year. Look for the Vikings O to be improved, and Rudolph’s catches and yards to go up.

Image

6. Greg Olsen: Olsen has been Scam Newton’s number 2 receiver thus far. The entire panthers offense got off to a horrid start last year, but actually started to make big under the radar improvements as the year went on. I think Cam was humbled by the lack of wins last year, and will come back this year ready to shine. Olsen is a huge target with great red zone leaping ability. I like Olsen to get back to consistent fantasy relevance in 2013.

7. Owen Daniels: Daniels is another guy who can’t stay out of the training room. He has dealt with hammy and back issues his whole career. But like Gronk, when healthy, this guy is good.  The Texans have evolved into more of a run first attack, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be plenty of balls for Daniels to catch. With Andre Johnson and now DeAndre Hopkins on the outside, Daniels will be able to own the middle of the field, and Schaub will hit him there.

8. Vernon Davis: The guy is a physical specimen. If Alex Smith was still the quarterback in San Fran, Vernon Davis would be number 2 in my rankings. But as we saw last year, this Kaepernick read-option offense is so perimeter oriented, it is hard for Davis to get looks in the middle of the field. The offense is all about winning the edge, and utilizes a lot of sideline comeback routes. There have been camp reports that the Niners have tried him a little at WR to get him more involved. But Delanie Walker is gone, and Crabtree is hurt, so maybe Kaepernick will prove me wrong and use his TE more this year, but i just can’t rank him too hight after he averaged less than 2 catches in the 7 games that Kaepernick started last year.

Image

9. Antonio Gates: Finally Gates was relatively healthy last year, and had a somewhat decent year. He was able to find pay dirt 7 times which was solid, but his yardage did not impress. But Rivers will continue to look to the big fellow in the middle of the field. Yes, Gates is 33 now. But he’s never been a speedy tight end anyway, he uses his size and crisp route running to get open, and i think he’ll continue to do that for a couple more years. Plus Rivers doesn’t exactly have supreme outside targets, so look for Gates to go up in yards.

10. Brandon Meyers: Meyers had a very good year in the woeful raiders offense. This year he comes East to the G-men. I feel a pretty good offensive year from the giants now that Nicks is healthy and Cruz is signed. Eli traditionally has made average tight ends look good, so what can he do with Meyers?

11. Jared Cook: Cook is a lot like Vernon Davis in terms of his physical ability. But he has never really broken out the way people thought he might. Well it’s tough to do that in Tennessee’s awful passing game. Now he is in St. Louis with Sam Bradford and rookie Tavon Austin. Chris Givens is a solid target as well. St Louis has built a pretty solid passing attack, and hopefully Cook will enjoy more targets than he is used to.

12. Martellus Bennett: Jay Cutler really hasn’t had anyone to throw to other than Brandon Marshall. The addition of Martellus Bennett could help this Bears offense a lot. Bennett had 5 td’s with the giants last year, but i think he could improve on that with the Bears. Cutler needs a second option, and Bennett has the talent to become that.

13. Jermichael Finley: The guy with a huge mouth had a small amount of td’s last year, 2 to be exact. But now Jennings is gone, and Jordy Nelson is out for training camp after having knee surgery. Cobb is still there and James Jones is solid, but neither guy is a prime red zone target. I think Finley has a chance to get back to his 2011 numbers when he grabbed 8 td’s from within 12 yards. All of this can only happen if Rodgers stays upright, which will be difficult with the offensive line woes.

14. Ed Dickson: Dickson has never really shown me that much, but i put him at 14 because, well, somebody has to catch passes in Baltimore. Boldin is gone and Pitta is out for the year. Both those guys did all their work in the middle of the field. Torrey Smith is legit, but he does all his work on the perimeter. The opportunity for Dickson to step up and be the guy is there.

Image

15: Brandon Pettigrew: He’s a receiver on the Lions not named Calvin Johnson i know. But Pettigrew is a pretty talented young tight end. Stafford drops back so many times a game that there will be opportunities a plenty for Pettigrew to rack up stats. Plus we all know how much attention Megatron gets.

16-25:

16: Coby Fleener

17: Tyler Eifert

18: Fred Davis

19: Dustin Keller

20: Jermaine Gresham

21: Dwyane Allen

22: Jordan Cameron

23: Delanie Walker

24: Heath Miller

25: Rob Housler

– Steve Butabi

Tagged ,