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Bloom and I not only grew up as the original members of the MTV Generation, but we were also the first audience of the summer movie blockbuster. From an early age it has been ingrained in us that music is a part of the story line of our lives. If you're one of us who remembers things like Poison Arrow, Fish Heads, Headbanger's Ball, and Martha's Muffin, then you also remember making mixed tapes for your friends - especially girlfriends.
I was a musician in a previous life. In college I used to watch Raiders' games with my roommate's synthesizer at the edge of the couch so I could play sound effects of bombs dropping whenever James Jett went deep:
Bloom lived a soundtrack as a Phishhead. Put the two of us together and it's only a matter of time before we have to inject music into the football conversation. It only made sense that our 2013 season preview would be a soundtrack and mixed tape set to YouTube videos.
However, Einstein is the only video you're going to see on this post due to account rights with YouTube that prevent us from embedding music here. Still, we're providing links to each song and they will open in a separate window so you can have a soundtrack as you read our takes on players and their outlook for the year. This is us blowing off steam with three YouTube mixed tapes.
Album I, Side A: "It's always Tease, Tease, Tease" [The Clash]
Should I stay or should I go now? . . . Should I stay or should I go now? . . . If I go there will be trouble . . . An if I stay it will be double . . . Come on and let me know . . . Should I cool it or should I blow?
Who better than the Clash to sum up the angst fantasy owners feel about so many players? They draw us in with talent so seductive and intoxicating that we stick around even after getting burned. Yet even as the logic of giving them another try wears thin, the promise of "what could be" is almost too great to resist - even when you know better.
It seems you always find yourself staring at their name on draft day and wishing you knew what to do. Bloom and I would love to intervene, but we're too busy exorcising our own player-demons or giving it one more chance with the hope we're not crying in our beer in December.
(Bloom) Track 1: QB Josh Freeman - My Minds Got a Mind Of Its Own [phish]
Maybe it's his mechanics. Maybe it's that he was in a new system. Maybe it's his unwillingness to rely on his legs as often as he did earlier in his career. Or, maybe Josh Freeman is just as baffled by his inconsistent play as we are. His mind prompts him to make throws that are incomprehensible. Last year, he looked like a QB1 until he cratered with eight interceptions in the all-important weeks 15 and 16. Think twice before you add Freeman this year.
(Waldman) Track 2: RB Maurice Jones-Drew - We Had Joy, We had Fun . . . [terry Jacks]
He was a huge reason I won my first experts' league. Using a Studs and Duds strategy, winning Jones-Drew's services for a mere $1 was the bargain of all bargains. Watching him duel with Chris Johnson a few years ago was one of the most fun showcases of two running backs in a game that I have ever seen. The Jaguars' little teapot has been an RB1 for most of his seven-year career and a cornerstone for many fantasy champions. Despite averaging at least 4.7 yards per carry the past two seasons, the familiar tug to get on board the S.S. Jones-Drew is there but my feet won't leave the dock - even at a bargain price as the 23rd pick/RB15.
But he has taken a pounding and without a proven quarterback to keep defenses from crowding the line of scrimmage and daring the Jaguars to throw, I'd rather be a year too early than a year too late. Terry Jacks says it best: "Good-bye my friend it's hard to die when all the birds are singing in the sky . . . but the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time."
(Bloom) Track 3: RB Darren McFadden - Won't Get Fooled Again [The who]
Keep your "contract year" and "zone blocking scheme was holding him back" arguments. Oakland's offense looks like a dumpster-fire without left tackle Jared Veldheer for a good part of the season. Matt Flynn is a backup quarterback and Terrelle Pryor isn't even a backup-quality passer. Even if McFadden had a spotless durability record, it would be tough to like him this year.
(Waldman) Track 4: RB Ryan Mathews - Cold Shot [Stevie Ray Vaughan]
Mathews isn't just singing this song to fantasy owners; he's belting the lyrics to a standing room only audience in his locker room. The Fresno State runner is a borderline rare talent. If you've truly seen Mathews at his best then you know what I mean: exploits small creases, makes adroit cuts that kill defenders' angles, a third gear to outrun corners, and rare balance against hits from first-level defenders. It's one thing to lower the pads and truck a defender straight-on; it's a completely different story when a defensive lineman with a good angle and plenty of steam gets his pads into the side of a running back's thigh and slides off like butter on a hot skillet tilted sideways.
I saw Mathews do this enough times that I thought I was in this fantasy football relationship for the long haul. But the rare skills couched in boneheaded acts of immaturity has reached the point that I can't make any more excuses. It doesn't help that Danny Woodhead (DANNY WOODHEAD?!!!) is the player the Chargers are relying on as much as Mathews. It shows just how far this once-promising fantasy situation has gone down the tubes.
Mathews says his NFL career to this point as merely been "average" and while I like the attempt at honesty, the fact that he can't bring himself to say his career has been below average to his first-round expectations tells me that he's still in denial about not only what he has done, but he truly doesn't realize how good he can be. If he doesn't believe in himself, then how can I?
I still want to believe because I see glimpses every week he plays. But by game's end, watching him is a cold shot.
(Bloom) Mathews Alternate take: It Ain't No Use [Stevie Wonder]
Mathews may be looking good in camp and the preseason, but it ain't no use. I'm done - at least while he's running behind maybe the worst offensive line in the league. The new regime doesn't have the draft pick or emotional investment in Mathews and you shouldn't, either. I'm not saying that Mathews won't have some big plays and games, but he'll also frustrate with injuries and lost games as the Chargers struggle.
(Bloom) Track 5: RB Chris Johnson - Heartbreaker [led Zeppelin]
Johnson is conjuring visions of CJ2K running behind a revamped offensive line, but the second round is too rich for a running back that made you nauseous when you put him in your lineup for the last two years. Even if he stops half-assing it over multiple game stretches, his team isn't exactly set up to control a lot of games with Jake Locker at quarterback and Shonn Greene looms. If you make him a cornerstone pick, he'll break your heart.
(Waldman) Johnson Alternate Take: Here I Come [the Roots]
This ditty can go both ways. If you believe the singer of the lyrics, get ready for both barrels comin' at ya with a vengeance. If you don't, it's empty words from a cornered suspect showing-out for those watching the police about to take him down.
Shonn Greene has never inspired me, but the Titans offense will be an upgrade to the Jets' unit and if Johnson decides to bounce runs in directions that make him look more like a finger painter than a ball-carrying artist, Tennessee could go with the hot hand.
These are the competing messages I hear in my head when I even think about picking Chris Johnson. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry last year, but for weeks on-end he was wholly uninspiring. Is 2013 the year he returns to Public Enemy No.1 for defenders or will it just be empty promises of glory past that smell like No.2? The jury is still out for me unless my opponents got me surrounded after taking all my preferred guys and Johnson is still around at RB18. At this point, I may have to ride or die.
(Waldman) Track 6: RB Jonathan StewarT - The Thrill is Gone [B.b. king]
Promise unfulfilled. It's what defines Jonathan Stewart's NFL career that should have the Commodore's singing "Brick House" but I'm left calling B.B. King to the stage. The saddest part is that like King, who has collaborated with anyone and everyone, the Panthers have paired Stewart with DeAngelo Williams, Mike Goodson, and Mike Tolbert. B.B. King with three talented performers on a stage is awesome; Stewart sharing the stage with three talented performers has been awful. Then there's the fact Stewart's strings are always popping from the neck and the wire supplying juice to the amp has a short. I can't even pretend his highlights at Oregon were with the Eagles. Bad times.
(Bloom) Stewart Alternate Take: You made me love you [harry james/helen forrest]
Why did Jonathan Stewart have to look like the next elite fantasy running back at Oregon? He was big, agile, fast, strong, and had a play maker's killer instinct. Eventually the Panthers were going to jettison DeAngelo Willaims and give this back that they took at No.13 overall a shot and a long-term deal. Why . . . why did you make me love you?
(waldman) TRack 7: WR Mike Wallace - Too Damn Bad [Buddy Guy]
I imagine Ben Roethlisberger singing this song on Sunday, December 8 against the Dolphins as he's dropping from center and chucking the ball down field to Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Markus Wheaton. All the while Wallace has the realization that there is no other quarterback who is as skilled (or as nuts) at buying time, taking punishment, and delivering cannons behind defenses than the Steelers' daredevil. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Ryan Tannehill fan. He's good at buying time in the pocket and has the toughness to hang and take the heat, but it's not on the same level of Roethlisberger.
Wallace's speed is his calling card and I think it only gets maximized with a rare player along the lines of Roethlisberger, Favre or Elway. These three are improvisors of the highest order. I'm not sure Tannehill even has enough licks to hang just yet. Too damn bad, Mike Wallace. Too damn bad for you.
Album I, Side B: "The Second Time ARound" [shalimar]
I make it so good to you . . . Not like the first time (Not like the first time) . . . Not like the first time (Not like the first time) . . . Not like the first time . . . Talking 'bout the second time.
Nope, not like the first time. Maybe not like the second or third time, either. Hopefully our faith in these players will be rewarded.
(Waldman) Track 1: QB Carson Palmer - Redemption Song [bob marley]
Those pirates in Oakland nearly ruined his career. Now that he's in Phoenix mode I expect a lot of mea culpa's from media when Palmer posts fantasy production with a receiving corps tailored to his skills. Perhaps those expectations are high for a player that some think has had all his goodness beaten (Raiders) and dragged (Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco) out of him. I'm thinking Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, and perhaps Michael Floyd will be the tonic that Palmer needs. Only if we could clone Johnathan Cooper and turn Levi Brown into Russell Okung.
(bloom) Track 2: RB Mark Ingram - Keep me hanging on [the supremes]
I was ready to swear off Ingram for good this year, but then the New Orleans beat writers went and wrote about how he was 100 percent for the first time in his NFL career, how he was looking good in camp, and the team was going to try to get him on the field more. I still won't take him before the ninth round, but after the debacles of 2011-2012 I didn't want to have to consider him at all this year. But he has kept me hanging on.
(waldman) Track 3: DB Charles Woodson - back in Black [ac/dc]
If Darrell Green, Rod Woodson, Champ Bailey, and Deion Sanders can hang on, I'm not discounting Charles Woodson. Get old and get injured once and everyone is ready to write you off in the NFL. The old playmaker will get plenty of chances to show he can still get the job done in the wild AFC West. I'm not believing he'll be a top-flight NFL defensive back because his cornerbacks are going to need some real help and I'm not sure there's a viable pass rush in Oakland. However, I know Tyvon Branch can play and it might be enough for Woodson's play to rock the Oakland Coliseum one last time.
(BLOOM) TRACK 4: TE VERNON DAVIS - HERE WE GO AGAIN [RAY CHARLES]
If you ever meet me in person, ask me to tell you a funny story about this song. Ah, Vernon Davis . . . he of the Greek god physique and former elite fantasy football seasons. He of the massive playoff games and strong-like-bull runs after wide receiver-esque catches. He of the massive fantasy dissapointments of the last two years. This year they have to feature him in the passing game, right? RIGHT? Here we go again . . .
(WALDMAN) TRACK 5: RB DEANGELO WILLIAMS - IT AIN'T OVER YET [ALLMAN BROTHERS]
I can't lock the door and keep you . . . I won't stand in your way . . . Guess I've got to let you go . . . But there's just one thing you know . . . It ain't over, it ain't over yet.
The thrill might be gone (Stewart), but it ain't over yet for Williams. The Panthers promise to change the way they're running and Williams still has the wheels to give fantasy owners at least RB2 production. If Ricky Williams can be an RB1 at age 32, Williams can be an RB2 with RB1 upside at age 30, almost as few miles, and a career average of 4.9 yards per carry.
(BLOOM) TRACK 6: WR MILES AUSTIN - PLEASE BE PATIENT WITH ME [WILCO]
Austin has struggled with injuries in recent years, but he is still a good receiver in a very good pass offense. He'll line up opposite the best in receiver Dez Bryant so you know he'll earn single coverage. Even last year, Austin produced at a WR2 clip before he got banged up. If he falls to the eighth round of your draft, you get some value out of him if you are patient with Austin.
(Bloom) Track 7: QB Michael Vick - Maybe We can Try Again [Champagne]
A Chip Kelly offense and one of the best camp/preseasons of his career? At a price tag of pick in the 10th or later? Yeah. Maybe we can try again.
Album II, Side A: Sabotage [beastie Boys]
This collection of characters will either sabotage your opponents or destruct your chances at a fantasy season worth remembering.
(waldman) Track 1: QB matt Flynn - Always on The Run [lenny kravitz]
Carson Palmer is praying for you . . .
(Bloom) Track 2: RB Chris Ivory - china Doll [Grateful Dead]
Oh how I want this Lynch-Lite talent to show everyone how uninspiring Shonn Greene was last year by ripping off some big runs for the Jets and his fantasy owners this year. An inauspicious start to camp with hamstring issues only reminded us that Ivory has had trouble staying on the field as a backup . . . forget about the wear and tear of being a starter. Just a little nervous to take this China Doll before the seventh or eighth round.
(Waldman) Tracks 3-4: A Rashard Mendenhall-Ryan Williams-coen Brothers [Raising Arizona/oh Brother, Where Art thou] mash-up
I can tell you this from life experience: If you've seen "Raising Arizona" and you find yourself in a situation with another human being where this yodeling pops in your head, buckle your seatbelt, and hold on tight until you reach the nearest exit. When the exit arrives, the car isn't slowing down, and the music is getting louder, jump out of the car!
I hear this music when I see Mendenhall in a Cardinals uniform.
While I see the possibility of Mendenhall making out like The Dude at the end of the Big Lebowski, if the yodeling gets louder I'm not hesitating. A split second before the highway whizzes beneath my feet I know I'll see John Goodman and John Tuturro in three-point stances and facing down a blocking sled. Behind them in a wheel chair will be a fully-padded Ryan Williams singing "Man of Constant Sorrow" using a crutch as a microphone. Surreal and perfect.
(Bloom) Track 5: WR Pierre Garcon - Feet Don't Fail me now [utopia]
This one is simple. Garcon is so perfect for Robert Griffin III III's eerie long-ball accuracy and the Redskins' play-action game. he just needs that foot to hold up better than it did last year to deliver the goods in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
(Waldman) Track 6: WR Austin Collie - hurts so good [john Cougar mellencamp]
Dr. Jene Bramel has to be covering his eyes and humming this tune when he imagines Collie on the field again after multiple serious concussions and a patella tendon injury. I thought it was fitting to use this song - especially directed at one (BYU) Cougar from another. Let's hope for Collie's sake that Bramel is wrong. Unfortunately, it's going to take a lot longer than 2013 to find out.
(Bloom) Track 7: WR Greg Jennings - You Talk Too Much - [Run DMC]
Jennings sure is talking a lot of smack about his old team for a guy that had trouble staying on the field or playing well for the last two years. The Vikings-Packers pipeline and bad blood continues to make it one of the more entertaining rivalries in the league, but Jennings seems like someone who is more concerned about what his ex thinks than what he is doing in his new relationship.
(Waldman) (Back-masked Bonus) track 8: TE kellen Winslow - Crank That [Soulja Boy]
If you take this recording of Winslow singing his 100-receptions tune and play it backwards, you'll discover the scary truth.
Album ii, Side B: Freakshow on the Dance Floor [The Bar-Kays]
Good, bad, or ugly, these prospects are always compelling on the field, in the headlines, and hopefully in the box score.
(Bloom) Track 1: WR Kenny Britt - Didn't i blow your mind [the delfonics]
Kenny Britt is only 24 years-old. Rookie Kenbrell Thompkins is a year older than this Titans veteran entering his fifth season in Tennessee. Britt had 14/271/3 in the first two games of 2011 with a 36-year-old Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. By all accounts, he has regained his 2011 form. the reults could be mind-blowing - especially for a seventh or eighth-round pick. Of course, his "good" knee has been a little troublesome in camp and he has one of the longest rap sheets of anyone in the NFL - a mind-blowing length for someone whose mistakes have become so public. Perhaps backing a choice of Britt will be my latest public mistake.
(waldman) Track 2: WR Steve Johnson - Stuck in the middle with you [Stealers Wheel]
I've always felt this way about Johnson. He's the self-made man in fantasy football - an unheralded prospect who worked his way into a prominent role. Yet he seems to congratulate himself a little more than he should. In recent years I looked at the jokers one side of his ADP and the clowns on the other and had no choice but to roll with him.
This year is a different story. To my left is the likes of Shane Vereen, Russell Wilson and Cecil Shorts; to the right is T.Y. Hilton, Anquan Boldin and Mike Williams. Now it's Johnson and his gimpy groin that got me feeling something just ain't right.
(Bloom) Track 3: TE Jermichael Finley - Who Are you [the who]
We have seen Finley the budding superstar for about four games in 2010 and we have seen Finley the underachiever for two years since. Which Finley will we get this year? So far, signs point to the good one. He's in shape and he has been a downfield weapon in the preseason. If you can wait until the ninth or tenth round, it ight be worth finding out who Finley is on your roster this year.
(waldman) Tracks 4-5: "The Streetbeater's" WR Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld [Quincy Jones' Sanford and Son Theme] and coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady - Thrift Shop [Macklemore & Ryan Lewis]
It's perfect really: Belichick as Fred and Brady as Lamont salvaging junk on the street and turning it into cash money. No offense to Thompkins and Sudfeld - two players I thought had talent to produce in the NFL, but I figured the football world was going to leave them at the side of the road in April.
It's exactly what happened. What's fascinating is who is hitting the thrift stores these days. It has to make sense that as a writer by trade that I frequent the second-hand stores, but look at Brady with his shopping cart. That said, you knew The Hoodie popped some tags. Something tells me he and Brady are still gonna look frickin awesome.
(Bloom) Track 6: QB Cam newton - Superman Lover [Johnny "Guitar" Watson]
Something has been wrong with the quarterback bearing the "S" under his jersey for the last two years. Uneven play and fantasy valleys have marred his reputation, but that should just add fuel to the fire you should have for Newton as a top-five quarterback this year. Newton has been carrying himself differently this offseason and he is getting more work as a pocket passer in a division that should have plenty of shootouts. If you look up in the sky, you'll see his 2013 point totals flying by.
(Waldman) Track 7: RB David Wilson - LIttle Red Corvette [Prince]
But it was it was Saturday night, I guess that makes it alright. You said what have I got to lose, and I said . . . Wilson, you're much too fast. Yes you are.
I hope Tom Coughlin lets your horses run free.
(Bloom) Bonus Track: WR Josh Gordon - Rumors [Timex Social Club]
It is impossible to deny Josh Gordon's talent and his fit in Norv Turner's more vertical-oriented pass offense. You also can't deny Gordon being one strike away from a year-long suspension. His behavior has caused folks at every level of the organization to say publicly that he has "one more chance". Between his checkered past at Baylor and Utah, his suspension, and all of the bad vibes coming from the Browns, there are plenty of rumoers circulating about Gordon's ability to deliver on his considerable talent. I would still take him in the ninth round or later.
Album III: The right Stuff - Yeager's Triumph (Chuck Yeager style) [Bill Conti]
The final scene of the movie "The Right Stuff" is fantastic. The scene begins with a search party driving to the fiery remnants of Chuck Yeager's (played by the awesome Sam Shephard) latest test of the limits of sanity. As the duo gets close to the smoke rising from the desert sand, one of them sees something emerging from the wreckage and asks, "Is that a man?" and the other says with as much bravado and confidence as one can in this situation, responds, "You're damn right it is."
I can't help but think of great football players who manage to emerge from the wreckage every Sunday after facing the demon. These men have the right stuff.
(Bloom) Track 1: QB Robert Griffin III III - Super Freak [Rick James]
Just like Charlie Murphy and Rick James, I've seen Robert Griffin III's orange aura and believe me, it's a real thing. If Adrian Peterson hadn't destroyed the expectations for how quickly a player could come back from ACL surgery in 2012, we would be in awe of Griffin right now. Instead, we wil be in awe of Griffin during the season when his freakish constitution will allow him to regain his freakish skills on the field and put on a football show again this year. He will never let your spirits down.
(WALDMAN) TRACK 2: RB MARSHAWN LYNCH: THORO(UGHLY)GOOD AND BAD TO THE BONE [GEORGE THOROGOOD AND THE DESTROYERS]
Play this video while listening to the track above. What else is there to say other than Prince's tune "Housequake" would have been equally fitting.
(Bloom) Track 3: QB Russell Wilson - Short People [Randy Newman]
The NFL didn't' want short quarterbacks in the first two rounds of the 2012 draft and now your league-mates don't want no short people 'round their QB slot in the first 5-6. This is your prompt to wait until at least eight or nine quarterbacks are gone to take a player who was a top-three scorer in the second half of 2012. Russell Wilson is not the same as you or I, but he will get you every time.
(Bloom) Track 4: TE Dwayne Allen - Right Here Waiting [Richard Marx]
After we heard about a possible foot injury and second opinion, the wind was out of Allen's sails just a few weeks ago. Now, he's running again and expected back for Week 1. Meanwhile Coby Fleener has been terrible in the preseason and suffered a concussion and minor knee injury to add to the misery. Even if Allen was going to be out Week 1, I believe he is becoming one of Andrew Luck's "main men" and I hae tried to get him on every roster I can. When Allen arrives as a fantasy TE1, I'll be right here waiting for him.
(Bloom) Track 5: TE Rob Gronkowski - Nothing Compares 2 U [Sinead O'Connor/Prince]
And I end with this. Why would I spend a third-round pick on a player who has been on the operating table for seemingly the entire offseason? When it comes to scoring touchdowns, no one compares to Gronk. And while we were fretting about his various maladies, Gronk's main competition for targets in the middle of the field has gotten himself a likely one-way ticket to the big house. I went to the doctor and guess what he told me? Gronk is on schedule to play in Week 3.
(Waldman) Track 6: RB Adrian Peterson - I'm Bad [l.l. Cool j]
Bloom, I agree that this Jackson Five cover of a well-loved tune is fitting after what I said about Peterson last year. I was naughty and I've seen the light. But I can't roll with that tune because when I think of Peterson tearing through defenses like a wild horse through a bunch of bewildered cowboys, I hear L.L.
No runner can run quite like I can. I'll take a musclebound man and put his face in the sand . . . If you think you can outrun me, yeah boy I bet. Cause I ain't met another runner who can do that yet . . .
I'm the pinnacle that means I reign supreme. And I'm notorious, that means I'll crush you like a jelly bean.
I'm bad . . .
I'm as strong as a bull of course you know I am pull. I enjoy what I'm doing plus I'm paid in full. Not Buckaroo Bonsai but busted out as I. Make the kind of runs that make LBs wish that I die.
Never retire or put my mike on the shelf. The baddest runner in the history of runnin' itself. Not bitter or mad just provin' I'm bad. You wanna hit give me a hour plus a helmet and pads.
DBs they retreat cause they know I can beat 'em. And eat 'em in a battle and the ref won't cheat 'em. I'm the best takin' out all rookies.
So forget Oreos, eat All-Day Cookies . . .