Smoke ‘Em, Pass ‘Em - Week 6
Editor’s Note: Readers with sensitive eyeballs or a love of censorship may want to skip this post. Ken is about to sneeze a moist potpourri of beautiful and foul language all over this digital page.
There’s this village in Japan called Tsuwano. It’s located in the hills and is affectionately known as Little Kyoto. There’s a temple with orange torii running up the side of a hill, and before you drive down the road into town, the torii are starkly visible against the trees. It feels like a place Basho let butterflies tickle his nose under moonlight. Or some such Haiku shit.
And up on the top of this hill at this temple, you can pull fortunes from a box. If the fortune is good, you take it home with you. If the fortune is bad, you leave it behind at the temple by tying it to a string. This way, your bad fortune stays behind at the temple.
The damnedest thing is I was there twice and never brought home a fortune. I’ve told my wife I must go back and get one worth bringing home. But, then, perhaps I don’t need good fortune nearly as much as others. And I should shut-the-fuck-up and enjoy what I have. As Burl Ives said, “Keep your eye on the doughnut, not the doughnut hole.” I read that in Ken Kesey’s “Sometimes a Great Notion,” a wonderful book everyone should read at least once.
Anyway, the thing about bad fortune is you can’t let it follow you. So if your team is truly in the shit and you’re staring down 1-4 with Alex Smith as your quarterback because Jimmy Garoppolo has abandoned you and you fooled yourself into believing Peyton Barber would be good, do not panic yet.
You must not let bad fortune follow you. Replace all the shitty players on your team with the highest upside from the wire. I’m talking complete shots in the dark. Wendell Smallwood. Taylor Gabriel. CJ Uzomah. This could be a case of actually bringing a bad fortune home with you. The problem is you have no choice but to violently overthrow your bad fortune with Hail Marys and prayer.
Those three guys aren’t gonna change your fortune.
However, it’ll at least make you feel like you were proactive. And it’s always better to fail this way. I’m not sorry your team sucks, though. You should’ve drafted better.
Baker Mayfield vs. LAC
Baker proved a solid start at home against a tough divisional opponent last weekend. The Chargers, however, seem to perpetually fail right when we think they’re about to achieve greatness. They are always right there. It’s like wanting to sneeze but unable to finish. That feeling would be my least favorite way to spend eternity. That and watching Philip Rivers yell. That’s what the Chargers are to me: Perpetual almost-sneezers. And they’re on the road (Rivers has never read Kerouac, I assume, because if he had, he’d know anything in excess is terrible, so please stop having kids already, you grinning asshole). And Mayfield with the Confidence of a Tiger driving a shiny autovoiture. Get the flour, it’s time to make the doughnuts.
Wendell Smallwood at NYG
This whole situation stinks like Jerry Jones. Not a particular part of him. Not a fart. Not his shriveled balls. Just him. That hint of decay wrapped in desperation and regret. But, let’s face it, the wire has long since abandoned us. We left our hope beside the road weeks ago. This is where we are now and if you missed Corey Clement, who is possibly more talented and likely to takeover completely, I guess you put your hand around Smallwood and get to pulling.
Phillip Lindsay vs. LAR
Here’s what I’m thinking: the Rams don’t know how to stop. They’re like me smoking marijuana and talking. Some friends of mine the other night simply stopped listening to me mid-sentence after I had been rambling for three minutes. I don’t blame them. But I kept talking. The Rams offense reminds me of this. And they’re gonna take it to Denver here. Mile High is a tough place to play, but there will be points. Lindsay has had 15 and 14 touches the last two weeks. The hope is he pops one here in a game where they’ll need to take shots. Of course it probably won’t matter because McVay is a genius, right? Did you know he arranges his collection of Rams polos by the most memorable play that happened when he was wearing it? I guess he’d have to burn the shirt from the Atlanta playoff game last season.
Taylor Gabriel at MIA
The Bucs are bad, but Gabriel had 10 targets and 6 catches (albeit for 34 yards) the week before his explosion of 7-7-104-2. You can’t expect those numbers every week, but the target share is there. And if Trubisky isn’t as bad as he first appeared, this becomes more interesting than the old Dos Equis guy. I love the city of Chicago and I hope for the fans he ends their drought of shitty QBs. I was up there this past weekend. My wife ran the marathon. And I was so impressed with her courage to do something so fucking insane, from the training all the way to the race. And to see the Elite runners and the wheelchair marathoners go past reminds you that humankind can do insanely beautiful things when they decide to. You starting Gabriel might not be as beautiful, but you’re getting there.
Mohamed Sanu vs. TB
Atlanta, also a perpetual almost-sneeze, is embarking on a nine-game stretch that should result in lots of fantasy points. Now would be a good time to invest in that offense and grab any of the pieces available. Only Sanu is probably hanging around on the wire and he’s got that Bucs defense we were already discussing. Take comfort knowing the regular season is when Atlanta shines. Reggie Jackson was Mr. October, which is also what teammates call Matt Ryan.
CJ Uzomah vs. PIT
I don’t know. I don’t. Somethings are unknowable. You could live four lifetimes and never understand humanity, never comprehend the size of the universe. And despite all this confusion and cosmic chaos, the great, ironic comfort is the darkening nescience we share with each other. Each and everyone of us knows that there is only the unknown. That’s the world we live in. I’m sorry if that frightens you.
Green Bay Defense vs. SF
Well, Jesus Juszczyk on a cracker, this should be a barnburner. CJ Beathard is throwing to a bunch of mopes and his whole team is moments away from going on IR. What if this whole thing is a Mormon hex Steve Young put on them? Like they finally have a savior and boom, Young’s warlock senses kicked in. I’d say Brett Favre did some Louisiana Voodoo on Aaron Rodgers, but Favre’s dumber than a bag of hammers in a shallow swamp, so I’m betting not.
Dak Prescott vs. JAC
You don’t need me to tell you which way the wind blows. We know Dak is blowing with it. Last week, I put Josh Allen as the Pass ‘Em quarterback. Some wiseass on Twitter said “Oh, way to go out on a limb.” Here’s the thing: don’t get in my fucking mentions about this nonsense. Make your own fucking decision. Write your own column. Come up with your own nonsensical allusions so you can escape the hell of reality where Wendell Smallwood is your RB1.
Latavius Murray vs. ARI
I get the temptation, but you have to be strong. That’s what life is all about. Finding what tempts you and then resisting it. Murray is like an ex that just won’t disappear. The whole thing smells of desperation and should be avoided at all costs. Getting wrapped up in old shit is simply not worth it. Life is essentially acknowledging your regrets and then using this reflection to mitigate future regret.
Nick Chubb vs. LAC
In what will be a foot race, one would think you’d get the ball in the hands of your most explosive athletes. But you can take your logic and go shit in your hat. There’s little question that Carlos Hyde has been great, but that might even be more of reason to get Chubb involved. It’s a long season and this team suddenly looks decent enough to win some games. Why not see what this guy does with 10 touches.
Kenny Stills vs. CHI
What a disappointing season so far for Stills. And it’s not getting any better this weekend. This Chicago defense is going to be fun to watch during the home stretch. They get the Jets, Bills, and Giants over several weeks, then get the Packers at home and Niners for Weeks 14 and 15. Grab them or slip them into a trade. Return of the Mack. Has anyone said that yet?
Doug Baldwin at OAK
I hope it’s not over for him. This guy has been fun to watch play. But at 30, it feels as though his best fantasy days are behind him. It could very well be a combination of lots of things. And when some of the stars align elsewhere, he will return to a short stint of fantasy prominence. Until then, I’m afraid we must say good-bye and good luck. And just know that I loved you in the best of times and I will continue to love you in the worst. I think I’m gonna sneeze.
Geoff Swaim vs. JAC
He’s caught nine passes in three years. You don’t really think that now he’s suddenly figured it out? Or maybe he was just never given a chance. Shit, crazier things have happened. I mean, Uzomah is starting for you this weekend.