V for Vendetta – NFL Week 9

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The revenge factor in pro sports is commonly overlooked – athletes love nothing more than sticking it to their old teams. Revenge cannot be measured by statistical analysis, but one thing experienced DFS players know – revenge is real! Football and basketball provide the perfect setting for one player to make the ultimate difference in any given game.

Each week this article will explore certain players, coaches, and teams with something extra to play for. I am not necessarily advising everyone to play these guys, but the extra motivation will be there, so these plays are something to consider.

V for Vendetta by Slim Gaede

Washington at Seattle

Grab Doc Brown and take your DeLorean back to 2012 – the NFL was dominated by a Rookie of the Year QB – Robert Griffin III. RG3 threw for 3,200 yards, 20 TDs, only five INTs, and added another 800 yards and seven rushing TDs. The Redskins went 10-6 and held a 14-0 lead against the Seahawks at home in the Wild Card playoff game. The world was a great place for Skins’ fans…

Then it all came crashing down as RG3 injured his already surgically repaired right knee and spent the remainder of the game limping around the field. Coach Mike Shanahan refused to remove him after becoming completely ineffective, the team blew the two TD lead, then RG3 went down for good with six minutes remaining.

Just like that Griffin’s career as we knew it was over. He could no longer run, move around, throw downfield, or do anything relevant with a football in his hands. A 5-15 record his final two seasons in Washington left him banished to Cleveland, where he looked like a dead man attempting to walk. It’s easy to forget how amazing this guy was before that injury against Seattle and how quickly he was forgotten and labeled a bust.

The playoff victory for Seattle that year proved to be only the beginning of the dynasty as the Seahawks won the Super Bowl the following season and should have gone back-to-back the next year (thanks Malcolm Butler and Pete Carroll). RG3’s debacle cost Shanahan his job and allowed for the hiring of Jay Gruden. Now, Gruden struggles to piece together an offense which lost several essential pieces, with Shanahan’s chosen QB from the same 2012 draft as RG3.

What exactly does this mean for Washington’s added motivation in this one? Probably nothing. Are any of the remaining players still upset about RG3’s career ending against Seattle? Probably not. Is there any fantasy impact here whatsoever? Doubt it, but the story is one we shouldn’t forget. I cannot remember such an incredible rise an immediate fall quite like that of Mr. Griffin.

Steve Spagnuolo vs LA Rams

Los Angeles enters this road contest with a Top 10 offense and surprising 5-2 record, and the Giants have been the most disappointing team in football at 1-6. New York has been equally anemic on both sides of the ball, ranked 27th overall in both offense and defense. Coming into the year the Giants’ offense didn’t appear stellar by any means, but the defense was largely intact from last year’s juggernaut. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo should receive the most blame here, and, in his 3rd year back in this position, Spags sits firmly on the hot seat.

Despite the matchup with another top offense, Spags and his unit have all the extra motivation they need Sunday. Spagnuolo took his Super Bowl-winning success as DC into the head coaching job in St. Louis from 2009-11. To say Spags failed would be a massive understatement – he finished 10-38, which included a 1-15 start and 2-14 finish as Rams HC.

No greater motivation exists in sports than failure, especially when you have the opportunity for revenge against the organization you failed. The Rams certainly don’t care for Spags, but he would love nothing more than to derail their successful season with a shutdown performance at home. Remember, the Giants are talented defensively, but cornerback Janoris Jenkins was suspended for this game, so the challenge continues to build. I suspect the remaining players will rally around their coach and put together a strong performance, and they better – Spags is trending towards unemployment at season’s end.

Detroit at Green Bay

Monday Night Football no longer features the incomparable Aaron Rodgers vs the NFL’s highest paid player (Matt Stafford), but the importance of this matchup remains meaningful. With Minnesota looking strong at 6-2, the 3-4 Lions and 4-3 Packers could be playing a mid season elimination game in the NFC North.

Detroit battles every game to the wire, thus providing intrigue weekly, but their recent inability to score TDs in the red zone continues costing them wins. Why can’t they score in the red zone? It’s called a complete ineptitude in the running game (28th overall). Sunday night’s game vs Pittsburg demonstrated this to a “T” – play after play inside the Steelers’ five yard line, and zero TDs in the game. Stafford continues piling up yards, but cannot find a consistent end zone hookup.

The Packers entire season relies on Brett Hundley pitching in relief of A-Aron, and people in the DFS community (and NFL pundits on several networks) sang his praise last week…before the Saints game. Hundley failed miserably, looking like the backup QB he’s always been, even at home against a questionable defense. He’s an exceptional athlete who makes plays with his legs, but he’s demonstrated a limited ability to involve the tremendous weapons at his disposal in the passing game.

The last three meetings in this series were decided by seven points or less, and due to the importance, the rivalry, and the Monday Night stage, I expect a competitive and entertaining football game. Two big questions in this one – which team has more to lose? My suspicion is Detroit – the Lions are finished with a loss. Which QB has more to lose? Mr. Big Money losing to a backup, or the backup who people actually want to believe is good looking bad on the national stage? This one I’m not so sure about…