tom smith | make green bay weird | aug. 2017
I normally submit my annual football season preview column for publication in the September issue of Frankly Green Bay, which I prefer because I feel you can get the best read on how a football team is going to do after the third preseason game. Unfortunately this year I received an order from upstairs in the FGB hierarchy that it was imperative this column appears in the August issue. When I questioned my editor at FGB on why I had to do it a month early this year he was evasive and then vague on the reason. Ridiculously he first said it had to do with adoptions in Canada and then when I kept pressing the issue he got so agitated he briefly threatened with assigning me a ten-thousand-word minimum piece on the tournament in Rio where Pat Patterson won the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Luckily for me, he decided to tell me the truth – word had got out on the incredible success I had in two of the three fantasy football leagues I participate in. Oddly, the league in which I stunk on ice, its commissioner is also my editor here at FGB. The problem I'm told is that my fantasy information coming out at the beginning of September does no good for those with drafts in August. The ownership of FGB, while attending a fantasy football cosplay convention in Grand Junction, Colorado, realized through their interaction with fantasy football cosplayers that the circulation for the August issue could easily quadruple its normal numbers with my fantasy column coming out early. I myself am totally cool with this because the huge increases in revenue my column will cause will be partially funneled into a museum for Elvis Presley and the Beverly Hillbillies here in Green Bay. Frank himself has guaranteed me that if this museum is built it will lead to Green Bay having its own annual Possum Day Parade. So, as that one bar owner said on that one episode of “Bar Rescue" a lot, I'm all in.
So I'm all in for writing this column, but as I said last year, I'm not all in on the NFL. I hate its grip on me and I hate being chained to a couch on Sundays. Now if these chains were pretzels filled with cheese that would be a different story. All the methods I tried last year to lessen my addiction to the NFL failed. Now before you respond that I should have used a faith-based program I must point out that I prayed to the Lords of Kobol daily to help me in my struggle. I've come to the conclusion that the only thing that is going to release me from my life sentence of NFL addiction is the league being sued out of existence because of concussions or WWIII, whichever comes first. I'm just assuming the NFL will suspend operations during WWIII. During WWII, player shortages caused the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburg Steelers to merge for the 1943 season as the Steagles. Yeah, let's never do that again – I just wouldn't have the heart to see Philadelphia fans have to see their team merge with the Steelers. I mean, come on, it's WWIII; Eagles fans are suffering enough already and then to throw on the indignity of that … makes me want to say what's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?
The 2016 post-season ended on a sour note for Packer fans. I, a Bears fan, was even super disappointed with the outcome of the playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons. Instead of dwelling on that loss, I think Packer fans should be focused on the fact that the Packers, in my opinion, are the prohibitive favorite to win the NFC. Atlanta, all I can say is hello, Superbowl hangover – remember how great Carolina did last year? The New York Football Giants? Nope, that monkey is off Aaron Rodgers' shoulder. From now on, the Giants entering Lambeau equals a loss for the Giants. The Arizona Cardinals? Sorry folks, Carson Palmer is so old his favorite bands in high school are now playing state fairs, or possibly Riot Fest. The Seattle Seahawks are the only legitimate challenge to the Packers in the NFC. I don't think they will go far in the playoffs but the Los Angeles Rams will make the playoffs. Everywhere the new Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has gone that team has made the playoffs in his first season. Take it to the bank.
Now the question is who play the Packers in the NFL Championship. This is easy: The New England Patriots. You can see it in their eyes, the Patriots are dead set on repeating as NFL champions, something they haven't done since the 2004 season. This victory would be a dynasty cementing move, a dynasty not quite as dominating as the Lombardi Packers. Who else do I think will excel in the AFC just in case the Patriots' plane goes down? The Oakland Raiders, I can think of 125 million reasons why the Raiders will have success this year. Yes, I'm referring to the dollar amount of the contract that Raider quarterback Derek Carr recently signed, making him the NFL's highest paid player. If Derek Carr can get paid $125 million dollars a year, what amount will the Green Bay Packers have to pay Aaron Rogers? Since we're on the subject of Aaron Rodgers, I just wanted to say that last year I officially joined the Aaron Rodgers Is Better Than Brett Favre Club. It was really hard for me to admit that, but the therapy is helping. I guess I can finally unblock Ted Thompson on Facebook.
The Tennessee Titans will be one of the surprise teams of the 2017 season. They'll win their division and maybe even win a playoff game. I also predict that the Cleveland Browns will win the AFC North with an 8-6-2 record.
Yes, I had a great fantasy football season last year. Thanks for asking. My team the Dictators won its first title in 16 years. That team is in a TD-only league I have been in since 1990. I also predict success for the Dictators in 2017 because my three keepers are Isaiah Crowell, running back from the Cleveland Browns, who is going to have a huge breakout season. I suggest you take him as high as the second round. The Browns have ramped up their offensive line and head coach Hue Jackson knows how to assemble and run a high-powered rushing attack. I'm also protecting Martellus Bennett, tight end for the Packers. I have penciled him for 10 to 14 TDs already. Bennett is the best tight end Aaron Rodgers has ever worked with. This will be total fantasy gold for the Dictators this season and you also if you draft him. The third and final player I'm protecting is Cam Newton. Seems like every talking head is jumping on the Cam is done as a dominating fantasy player bandwagon. Excuse me, he was the NFL MVP in 2015. I must point out every off season I hear this is the season he won't be calling his own number on the goal line. Don't believe the hype. Draft Cam in a latter round and reap the benefits. Quarterbacks I also feel will be a great value this season are Marcus Mariota, my gut feeling is that he will be a very special player – eventually a championship caliber player. You may laugh at this, but I think getting Brian Hoyer as a backup quarterback will provide very strong value to your team. Last year I was able to get some great production from Colin Kaepernick. If I would have started Kap over Newton in a championship game in another league, I would have won that league also. As runner up I won $400, so I had that going for me. Jameis Winston will start to really dominate fantasy football for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I like players who gamble on themselves with one-year contacts, so I recommend two wide receivers. Alshon “Don't call him Jefferys" Jeffery of the Philadelphia Eagles and Terrelle Pryor of the Washington NFL franchise (or as what I'm now referring to them as the NFL team haunted by the specter of George Preston Marshall). Take these guys in latter rounds. Remember, you make your team in the lower rounds. I would avoid taking Ezekial Elliott too early this year, this dude is past flirting with disaster and has set the controls for the heart of a Roger Goodell suspension. I'm convinced the only reason Ryan Fitzpatrick is still in the league is because general managers who sign him are huge Gilligan's Island fans and love saying he is a Harvard man in a Thurston Howell, III voice. Good luck I hope you all have a great fantasy football season, unless we are in a league together.
Just wanted to quick plead with you, the reader, to consider seeing Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires Thursday, August 17 at the Lyric Room; they truly are one of the most inspired live bands in the world today. Think of a more rocked out, punk, bluesy version of Drivin N Cryin. I also dedicate this month's column to beloved actor Martin Landau who died on July 15. I loved him in “Mission: Impossible," “Space: 1999," “Ed Wood," “Twilight Zone," “Ready to Rumble," etc.
Live Long and never, I repeat, never store nuclear waste on the far side of the moon.
Since 1984, when he first began selling records at Galaxy of Sound inside the Port Plaza Mall, Tom Smith has been part of the Green Bay music scene. Promoting his first show in 1986 and hitting his stride with the Concert Café (1995-2001), Smith continues to promote shows in Green Bay. He first honed his journalistic chops while serving as a student DJ at WGBW, interviewing such icons as Motörhead and the Ramones. Today you can find him championing live music and managing The Exclusive Company in Green Bay.