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The Lowdown – Week 6

Living on the edge, setting a TE free, playing “spot the difference” and the Interesting Players of the Week, in this edition of the Lowdown.

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Jon Gruden

Welcome to this edition of the Lowdown. This is my little corner of the fantasy football universe — feel free to pull up a chair and stay a while!

Living on the Edge
Watching Chargers’ games has been a blast this season, as Justin Herbert continues to play at an elite level. Adding to the entertainment, coach Brandon Staley continues to make unorthodox decisions and play calls: going for it on fourth down, eschewing field goals for touchdown tries, fake punts from the negative side of the field, etc. All of his shenanigans have mostly panned out so far– and thus is painted as a genius by the media. But guys who understand probability understand why we have so-called “rules of thumb”: these are truisms that have been validated empirically after repeated trials. No matter how successful Staley has been thus far, the law of averages is going to kick in soon– and it’ll be interesting to see how many of the journos currently on the Staley bandwagon quickly transfer to the “Staley is an idiot for running that fake punt that cost his team a wildcard berth”… probably the same journalists who repeat the idiotic “the only thing the Prevent defense prevents is a victory”.

Free the TE
So happy to learn of this week’s trade of TE Zach Ertz to the Cardinals in exchange for rookie cornerback Tay Gowan and Arizona’s 2022 fifth-round pick. As I mentioned with the Marlon Mack situation, it does my curmudgeonly heart good to see a player and team working together to bring about a mutually beneficial outcome to a shared problem. It was obvious for the past year or so that Ertz and the Eagles were in the late stages of their relationship; it was just that they weren’t quite ready to split. After losing to the Bucs in Week 6, the Eagles decided to pull the trigger on dealing Ertz– whose contract expires at the end of the season– and get as much as they could get in return for their rebuilding effort, as opposed to letting Ertz walk and getting nothing in return.

So the Eagles can claim victory, but both Ertz and the Cardinals can also rightly be termed winners in this deal. Ertz goes from a 2-4 team to a 5-0 club with Super Bowl aspirations, while the Cardinals get a 3x Pro Bowler who provides a missing piece to an already potent offense.

Let’s keep the good will between players and teams going… free Deshaun Watson next.

Time to Take a Breather
Between the Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden incidents, NFL coaches have had a rough two weeks. While Meyer having a woman grind him has yet to result in him losing his gig, Gruden “resigned” as HC of the Raiders and essentially saw his NFL career ended.

Focusing on Gruden, one has to wonder about the mechanisms that led to his resignation (which let’s face it, was probably the result of the NFL leaning on the Raiders to get rid of him). No, I’m not endorsing anything Gruden wrote in those emails, but one has to wonder about the NFL’s motives in ensuring that Gruden disappeared. I know that many of you will point out that there’s no room for “hate speech” in this world, and that the NFL certainly has the right to expel anyone that threatens their income streams. Fair enough.

But let me throw this out: this week, in this article in Sports Illustrated, former Nike executive Larry Miller admits to hiding the fact that as a teen gang member, he murdered an 18 year old rival gang member in cold blood. Nike has billion dollar apparel deals in place with the NFL. And yet, no calls for the NFL to divest itself from Nike. Weird, huh?

Again, I’m not necessarily advocating that the NFL divest itself from Nike; but why the urgency to erase a man from the NFL (the Bucs removed Gruden from their Ring of Honor) for 10 year old private speech, while the willingness to ignore, perhaps even praise, the relationship with a company headed in part by an admitted cold-blooded murderer? Are we saying that there’s a path to redemption in the NFL for murder, but not for offensive speech? Again, let me remind everyone: it’s not illegal to hurl nasty epithets in emails, while it is certainly illegal to kill someone.

If you find yourself thinking I’m an ass for questioning why Gruden has been erased while the NFL continues to do business with Nike, then perhaps you should worry less about my moral compass and examine yours a bit more closely.

NEXT: the Interesting Players of the Week!

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Nerd John is a 25+year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. John’s Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on nine occasions.

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