Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 12 (Thanksgiving Edition)

Rather than write something elaborate about what I’m thankful for in Fantasy Football this year, I’ll just leave this here…


…and say Happy Thanksgiving.

Mail Time!


TE – Have you seen how bad the Packers defense is? They are allowing the 5th most yards to TEs per game (72) and have allowed at least 60 yards and a TD to the position in each of the last 3 games. Trust in Ertz!

Flex – Tough call. The Mariota-Matthews combo is almost too hot to pass up. Despite the Bears being a dreadful football team, Tracy Porter just shut down Odell Beckham Jr. and has similar results against most #1 WRs. That, and the fact the Dolphins play the Niners, is why I would go with Jarvis Landry.



First off, that is a really silly flex situation. Why not just have 2 QBs in your lineup? Regardless, you should play Kirk Cousins, because he’s thrown multiple TDs in 5 straight games.

Luck was officially ruled out yesterday. So there you go. And talk to your commissioner about that flex position. If you’re the commissioner, shame on you.


I feel like your gut is telling Julian Edelman, and that’s what you should trust. The #TomBradyRevengeTour is clicking on all cylinders and with Gronk out, J-Edel is reeping all the benefits. Ya know, like 17 targets last weekend…


RB – Especially in a PPR, Devonta Freeman. Even with Coleman returning, Freeman was getting the same amount of touches when his backfield-mate was and wasn’t in the lineup.

Flex – Kyle Rudolph has 2 TDs in his last 3 weeks and he’s basically the only Vikings red zone option. He’s the safer pick.






1st – Jennings and I would say leave Benjamin in your flex. While the Raiders have improved in their secondary, that will still be the Panthers best shot at beating them. Start him for the potential of shootout.

2nd – Unless one of the guys is an absolute scoring stud, I’m always going to suggest taking the full-time bell-cow back over one that splits carries. Have to go with Jordan Howard’s volume this weekend.

3rd – While I like Jameis better overall, I like Carson Palmer’s matchup way more.



Eli is playing Cleveland. That is all.



WR – Crowder

RB1 – Shady

RB2 – Ware


Have more Fantasy lineup questions? Don’t hesitate to ask on Facebook or Twitter

What To Love About Fall Around Chicago

Happy First Day of Fall, Chicago.

If you were up early this morning, I hope you got a good look at “Chicagohenge” as the sunrise lined up with the city’s East-West grid. You can check it out again at sunset, in cased you missed it, but it only happens twice a year.

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Fall is my favorite season in Chicago, and I know I’m not alone saying so. Sure it means “Winter is Coming“, but it’s more like opening a fresh jar of peanut butter than it is scraping the bottom of one.

So what makes Fall worth loving? I’m glad you asked…

1. Sweater Weather and Flannel

Sweater Weather

Sweater Weather is so good that The Neighborhood recorded a song about it…Some of us are much more in our element with long sleeves and a cool breeze.

Has fashion ever blessed us with anything better than the hoodie?

Poehler Party

I think not…

And when else is Al Borland’s getup ever sexier?

Al Borland

mmm…checker patterns and stripes.

While sweaters and flannel are fantastic on their own, they both pair perfectly with the always lovable “puffy” vest. At least you’re getting ahead of the curve for Star Wars: Episode VII.

“I love you.” / “…I know.”

2. Them Leaves

Chicago Leaves

Fall foliage is a thing in Chicago. It may be the most stunning part about living in a region with four seasons. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the Loop area, you can get lost in the changing of the leaves around Grant Park. Perhaps take a walk around Lincoln Park as the zoo tigers are camouflaged with the trees. I’m also looking forward to the views along the new 606 Trail and West Ridge Nature Preserve.

If you’re looking for a nice getaway from the city, take an hour and half trip west on Rt. 80 toward the Illinois Valley and see what Starved Rock is all about. The hiking is fantastic and nearby are the greatest wings ON THE PLANET at Skoog’s in Utica.

Starved Rock Fall

While you’re already heading west, go see what the Quad Cities are all about. The first half of my college years were certainly highlighted by the unbelievable view at Augustana College walking the Slough Path to class.

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Hey now…You can take a train from Chicago to Rock Island, so it counts.

3. Sports, baby…Sports.

Soldier Field

I know, Bears fans. Not the start to a season that anybody wanted…but when did that ever stop you from throwing on your blue and orange and fill up Soldier Field? Seriously. Those games are always sold out…At least you have Fantasy Football and tailgating, right?

It won’t be too long before the United Center tenants are back at it making 1901 W. Madison into a Madhouse again. The Blackhawks drop their new Stanley Cup banner and set to defend it starting with the New York Rangers Oct. 7th, and the Bulls tipoff with their season against LeBron James and the Cavs on their NEW home floor Oct. 27th.

It also looks like there WILL be October baseball in Chicago. Even though not all of us are Cubs fans *cough* me *cough*, it’s hard not to appreciate the fun they’re having on the north side. I don’t know how long the run will last, but you can’t help imagining how insane the city will be if a certain team hoists a certain trophy in a certain ballpark…

…and don’t forget Northwestern Football. Coach Pat Fitzgerald won’t let you.

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Go Cats…?

4. Gone Pickin’…

Apple Picking

According to my Facebook feed around this time each year, couples and families LUV to go apple picking. For those of you interested in this sort of thing, here’s a helpful directory for you.

For those less inclined to do free manual labor on the weekends, might I recommend APPLE FEST in Long Grove? Starting this Friday, Sept 25th through the weekend, all the fun shops and vendors in tiny and quaint Long Grove gather to share apple treats and all the joy Fall can bring. There’s music, cider doughnuts, apple sangria, and I hear the Confectionary is making white chocolate and cinnamon sugar candy apples.

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Can someone please try to recreate this photo and post it to the Facebook page? Thanks!

5. Halloween’ness

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Why yes, yes that is Daley Plaza…

While you’re not glued to your television being “Shawshanked” into an AMC Marathon of bad slasher franchise sequels, you’ll probably notice all the Halloween popup stores in what used to be your favorite nearby businesses. (*Skypoint* Blockbuster)…

Quick remedy? How about a trip to your nearest terrifying Haunted House? For years I’ve been trying to gather friends (and the nerves) to try the Statesville Haunted Prison. If you’re interested, just Tweet at me.

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If you’re less than willing to have the begeezes scared out of you, I would recommend doing what I have for the past few years…hit up a Bulls game and count how many “Where’s Waldo” costumes you find. It’s absurdly entertaining.

6. Fall Beverages

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I know, Pumpkin Spiced Anything is the fad this time of year…but so are several seasonal adult beverages. The patios are still open across the city, and what’s better than a “warm apple pie” or some other warm cocktail while siting along the the Chicago river walk?

I’ll sit and wait for your response…

That’s what I thought.

If you happen to have some recipes for excellent Fall-coholic beverages, please feel free to share them on the Facebook page and I’ll post them to the site as well!

7. Fun Runs

Chicago Fun Runs

You may be like most of us who didn’t train for the Chicago Marathon, but still want to feel like you accomplished something fitness-wise this Fall. FEAR NOT! Here’s a schedule for the remaining “run for fun” races, including various Thanksgiving Turkey Trots and the famous Hot Chocolate Run…

Hot Chocolate Run

That totally looks worth running a 15k or 5k.


Not necessarily something Chicago-centric, but it’s the F’ing Peanuts. Who didn’t grow up on Snoopy and all the holiday specials? With the new movie coming out in November, it’s hard to imagine there won’t be a ton of fun promotions around the city for it.

9. Indoor Concerts – Big and Small

Festival season is over, but the music lives strong in Chicago year-round.

From the big stadium venues like the United Center and Allsate Arena

To concert halls like House of Blues, The Riviera, The Metro, The Vic, and The Aragon Ballroom

Wilco Riv

and small venues like The Beat Kitchen, Reggies, Double Door, and Bottom Lounge. You never know who’s going to show up…


You let me know on Facebook and Twitter!

NFL Week 13 Fantasy Mailbag

I’m thankful for a lot of things this year.

I’m thankful for #DancingManning and any opportunity I have to use him.

I’m thankful for JJ Watt…for being fun to watch, and for being a good dude.

JJ Welp

And my sick running back combo of Eddie Lacy, CJ Anderson and Justin Forsett in Week 12.

I’m also thankful for Homeland being REALLY GOOD again…Jennifer Lawrence Chris Farley impressions…anything with former WWE ringside announcer Jim Ross dubbed in…more Game of Thrones Beer…pizza…Jay Cutler post game fashion…and YOU GUYS for making this fun for me to blog again. 

Let us know what you’re thankful for by tweeting by tweeting at @Mike_Piff03 with #PiffsGiving.

And now we’re just ONE WEEK away from the playoffs…that is, if you’re in a normal league. Because nobody in their right mind should leave their Fantasy Championship up to Week 17 when players get rested.

Quick Hits

  • Ever since he made his debut in Week 5, Odell Beckham Jr. has been a human highlight reel. You’ve seen the catch and all the memes that followed (Kelvin Benjamin was not that impressed). He’s also a target machine. In the last 4 weeks, Eli Manning has looked ODB‘s way for 11 targets per game and he’s catching nearly 8 of those passes per outing. Shouldn’t be any different when the Giants see Jacksonville this weekend.


  • There are some performances from this season that make you think “These guys are playing Madden on Easy Mode.” Latavius Murray was that guy last week – 112 yards, 2 touchdowns…4 carries. Murray suffered the first concussion of his football playing career but looks to be on track to play against St. Louis this weekend. If he’s available in your league, change that.

Latavius TD

  • Your Thanksgiving Football Schedule is a triple header of conference rivalry games. The Bears head to Detroit to keep their playoff dreams alive. Jay Cutler is 7-4 against the Lions for his career, throwing 15 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and 2,389 yards for a 91.7 Quarterback Rating…The Cowboys host the Eagles with Tony Romo coming off 7 touchdowns in 2 games. Philadelphia’s defense, while they are fantasy scoring maniacs, are allowing 300 yards to opposing quarterbacks in 4 of their last 5 games…And the night cap will be a fun one as the Seahawks travels to San Francisco. Russell Wilson is averaging 70 rush yards per game since Week 5 and throws the ball a little too. Check out this Kansas City Shuffle move he put on Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals defense. “Everybody looks left, and you…”

And now for something completely different.

Sam Kalmar on Facebook: “Larry Fitzgerald or Kelvin Benjamin?…And in need of a TE (assuming Julius Thomas is out) Ertz, Reed, Paul, anyone?”

Nobody sounds very confident that Larry Fitzgerald is going to go this week, but I would still go with Kelvin Benjamin regardless. We’re already seeing some early seedlings of a wide receiver rivalry between Benjamin and Odell Beckham, and really we’re all better for it. Benjamin ranks 5th in target percentage in the league and he is clear and away Cam Newton’s favorite target around the end zone. Panthers receivers have caught 10 touchdowns this season and Benjamin has accounted for 8 of them. He also faces a Vikings defense that is susceptible to big receivers in red zone situations. Case in point: Brandon Marshall.


Now regarding your TE situation…the word on Julius Thomas is encouraging that he may go this weekend. But obviously you want to have your bases covered. I think out of the 3 you brought up, I like Jordan Reed paired up with Colt McCoy. McCoy’s game is very tight end friendly, but Reed is dealing with some injury issues himself. However if he goes, Reed will be a go-to option when Washington is playing catchup against Andrew Luck…If they are available though, go get either Mychal Rivera from Oakland or Kyle Rudolph from Minnesota. Both have rookie quarterbacks who rely heavily on them in the red zone. I like both better than Jordan Reed.

Craig Bucy on Facebook: “McKinnon, Simms, Stewart, or Ivory at RB2?”

First off…I don’t want to take anymore questions on Charles Simms while the Bucs have 2 other running backs healthy. They are also bad at using them…Second, Bucy. Your options. Woof! With that said, Jerick McKinnon is your best option. Sure he hasn’t seen the end zone yet, but he’s due. And the Panthers are just the team who can let that happen as their defense has given up 13 rushing TDs, 2nd worst in the league.

Sam Latham on Facebook: “Kelvin Benjamin or Mike Evans in Flex?”

I’ve already laid out my affection for Kelvin Benjamin this weekend, but this does seem to be a tough if you have to choose between the two. Mike Evans has 8 touchdowns in his last 7 games. The Bengals defense, though, has only allowed just 6 scores to wide receivers all season. Based on the matchup, I like Kelvin more this week.

Emmet Fairfield on Facebook: “Pick 2: Rashad Jennings, Fred Jackson, and Josh Gordon.”

I think Josh Gordon proved in his return to action last week that he IS the Browns offense. First week back and he gets 16 targets? I think they like him, despite how “alienated” he felt during his suspension…Both Rashad Jennings and Fred Jackson looked good last week getting their fair share of action coming off injuries. I like Jennings more though, based on the matchup with Jacksonville. So Rashad Jennings and Josh Gordon are your two.

Brennan Casey on Twitter: “Calvin Johnson, Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin and Alshon Jeffery. Which 1 should I sit?”

The answer is Sammy Watkins and I’ll tell you why…First, he doesn’t seem entirely healthy. Watkins should have lit up the Jets pass defense on Monday Night Football. He wasn’t necessarily limited, but just 3 catches and 5 targets? Against the Jets?…Reason #2 is Joe Haden. Yes, Julio Jones got by him for one but Haden had his revenge. Oh did he ever.

Everyone have a very Happy Thanksgiving. You’re welcome to keep the questions rolling, but if you awaken me from my post meal slumber, it will quickly turn into Slapsgiving…in which I would gladly deliver.