Tag Archives: 2013

My Favorite Albums & Movies of 2013

The following are my favorite albums and movies from 2o13. They’ve connected with me on some level, through nostalgia and pulling my mind back to old memories or taking me on a journey away from reality and into a story I’ve not yet heard. If you have yet to hear these albums or see these movies, I hope you get inspired to at least check into them a little bit and see if you too can be gripped by these stories.

20. Matrimony- Montibello Drive

19. Imaginary Friend- Fire Escape

18. Relient K- Collapsible Lung

17. Local Natives- Hummingbird

16. Pacific Air- Stop Talking

15. My Epic- Behold

14. Houses- A Quiet Darkness

13. Daughter- If You Leave

12. Air Review- Low Wishes

11. Moving Mountains- Moving Mountains

10. Ghost Ship- The Good King

9. Jimmy Eat World- Damage

8. Sleeping at Last- Atlas EPs: Darkness/Light/Space 1/Space 2

7. Leagues- You Belong Here

6. Dustin Kensrue- The Water and the Blood

5. Citizens- Citizens

Worship music has come a long way from when I first became a christian. Citizens really put out an album full of worship songs that have more depth than most of the K-Love hits, and they are upbeat and fun. This album has honestly helped me grow in my spiritual walk this year and I am glad to have found some genuine and accessible worship music I can enjoy.

4. Gungor- I am Mountain

Gungor has tuned the table around on us again. It seems every time they put something new out it is a new breed of Gungor. This album has it all. From western songs about war to a song completely done with auto tune. It’s eclectic spread of songs make it a good listen any time. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the mood for something upbeat and happy or slow and thought-provoking,  I am Mountain fills my thirst.

3. Twin Forks- EP

Chris Carrabba’s new folk band is the best musical outlet he’s had in a while. Dashboard Confessional has been in a downslide, and Twin Forks has become Carrabba’s premiere venue for his musical tastes. This album always gets me stomping my feet and clapping my hands as I join in with the band. If you get the chance to check these guys out live I highly advise that you do it.

2. Lydia- Devil

Lydia seems to have no shortage of music to make with putting out new music about every year and a half. This time around lead singer Leighton Antelman has some joyful things on his heart which make for an uplifting album (which is a rare occurrence with this band). Lydia is one of a kind, and a musical inspiration that has been with me since I started college. Usually Lydia songs are perfect fall or winter music, but this disc is just so lovely it fits with spring and summer, which just means Lydia will be on year round for me now.

1. I can Make a Mess- Enola

I don’t know if it’s because I had no expectations at all for this, or because I wanted it so badly to be great that it would’ve been no matter what, but this album captured me. Ace Enders first introduced himself to me with The Early’s November’s The Room’s Too Cold (which was one of my favorite albums throughout high school), and shortly after that Ace created my favorite full length disc ever: I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business self-titled album. I can still remember buying it from F.Y.E. and listening to it constantly that October and November. I still cherish the songs from that album. Ace went on and make more music with The Early November and a few alone as I Can Make a Mess, but nothing has ever rivaled that first ICMAM album… until now.

Enola is great because it holds nothing back. Guitar solo in the middle of the song? ‘K. Heavy techno infused songs mixed with stripped down acoustic songs? Done. Soaring and soothing guitars to balance out the peaks and valleys? Of course. Enola and the self-titled I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business will be sitting on my musical pedestal for years and years to come. Thank you Mr. Enders.

Click here to listen to my Spotify “Best of 2014” playlist with songs from the above albums and more!

Below are my five favorite movies I saw in 2013. There are a few more I am waiting on seeing, but I’ll list them afterwards.

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I think Peter Jackson can do no wrong. Plus Martin Freeman is incredible. And Benedict Cumberbatch is in it. This movie is hysterical and action packed and I watched it all from the edge of my seat.

2. Pacific Rim

The little boy in me loved everything about this movie. The monsters. The giant robots. The pet bulldog. Everything.

3. Now You See Me

Magic that captivated me the entire movie and with a great twist at the end!

4. Star Trek: Into Darkness

My man crush is Benedict Cumberbatch…

5. Despicable Me 2

The minions completely steal the show here. Much improved from the original too.

I have yet to see a few highly acclaimed movies and am waiting on the cheap, easily available route (Redbox) before enjoying them. Here are a few I’m looking forward to viewing soon:

  • Gravity
  • Captain Phillips
  • American Hustle
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • About Time

One final thing to touch on for the year is my favorite television shows! I have really enjoyed a few years and would encourage others to look into them if they’ve been looking for something fun to watch!

1. Sherlock

Led by Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock) and Martin Freeman (as Dr. Watson), this hour and a half television show is my favorite show of all time. It plays out much more like a movie than a show (which can easily be done in it’s long, but well worth it run time). Cumberbatch and Martin are as great a duo as their is in TV currently. Sadly the show only offers us three episodes per series (season), but if you’re just now finding out about you are in luck! Series three is airing in the United States January 19th with the following two episodes the next two weeks as well!

2. The Walking Dead

Boy oh boy, have things strongly progressed since season three ended. I think each episode so far this season has had something great to offer either in the way of character development or a major plot twist. The zombies have become more of a “background noise” type of occurrence, but more and more dangers are popping up that the group cannot seem to avoid! I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for our Walking Dead characters!

3. The Goldbergs/ Trophy Wife

Admittedly these shows are my guilty pleasures. Just some pretty funny sitcoms that consistently make me laugh! The Goldbergs is perfect for anyone born in the 80’s due to all the old school references like Atari, the Delorean, and Run DMC. The Trophy Wife has some very uniquely intertwined family relationships that somehow work don’t overwhelm the show. All of the actors are given just enough time to shine and they each have their own quirks that make it hard to not continue coming back for more!

This is a reflection of my entertainment this previous year, and I look forward to all that 2014 has to offer!

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Fantasy Football: Top Five Tight End Tiers

Vernon-Davis-San-Francisco-49ers

 

 

The tight end position in the NFL is ever-changing. They can be players that are one dimensional and only are receivers or are only blocking tight ends. They can be great all-around players (both blocking and receiving), but due to team need stick to one of those skills instead of having a steady balance. They can play as an H-back, can be split out wide, can play along the offensive line, and can also play in the slot. There is almost too much of a variety when it comes to this position. So when “ranking” them for fantasy football purposes, it is important to look at each case individually. Player role, health, and obviously skill will determine the rank, but also it will be influenced by how much I perceive each player will be utilized. For example, a guy like Brent Celek could be ranked fairly high, if not for the fact that the Eagles drafted a tight end in the second round this year (Zach Ertz), picked up another in free agency (James Casey), and still have Clay Harbor who they have previously used on their roster. Compare that to a guy like Dustin Keller or Fred Davis and I know who I’m rolling with. My rankings ahead…

Tier One

Jimmy Graham

Graham finished last season as the number one fantasy tight end, putting up 982 yards and 9 touchdowns. People were disappointed in that production though, because it was worse than his previous year. Graham played with a wrist injury and without his team’s head coach most of the season and still put up solid numbers (despite what fantasy owners think). I think that is floor, and his ceiling is very, very high.

Tier Two

Jason Witten

Witten put up over 1,000 yards in 2012 but only had 3 touchdowns. Witten’s touchdowns have been decreasing the since his career high of 9 in 2010 (5 in 2011, 3 in 2012), so that is definitely something to be a little worried about.

Tony Gonzalez

This hall of fame tight end had 930 yards and 8 touchdowns in the regular season last year. He is the third receiving option on the Falcon’s team, but he is about as dependable as they come, having caught 93 out of his 124 targets last regular season (and 14 of his 15 targets in the postseason).

Rob Gronkowski

The Gronk situation is a very difficult one to predict right now. He would normally be the number one overall tight end, but his multiple surgeries this offseason have put him in danger of missing games. He could even start the season on PUP list and miss the first six games. Still, at some point in your draft even half a season with Gronk plus the production from a waiver wire tight end is worth it. It’s up to you to decide when that gamble pay off.

Tier Three

Vernon Davis

Reports have come out of San Francisco that Davis has been practicing often split out like a wide receiver ever since Michael Crabtree sustained his injury this offseason. This could bode very well for players willing to take a chance on Davis. He’s got an incredible skill set and could easily post numbers to make himself the second best fantasy tight end, but he’s been known to not show up in the regular season, only really producing in the playoffs. Will things change this season?

Greg Olsen

Olsen is the second passing option for Cam Newton and the Panthers. He lead his team in receiving touchdowns last season with 5. During the 2012 season Olsen’s wife was pregnant and they had found out that their unborn son had a heart defect. His son is now born and has been through two open heart surgeries, but is doing well. Having the stress and pain of that situation may help and inspire his play this year.

Kyle Rudolph

Last season Rudolph only had 53 receptions for 493 yards, but made up for it with 9 touchdowns. The 6′ 6″ behemoth should continue to catch a lot of touchdowns, and with the addition of Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, he may see softer coverage throughout the year to beef up his yardage.

Tier Four

Martellus Bennett

You can tell that Bennet was a big priority for the Bears this offseason just through how well they paid him (4 years, +$20 million). As I’ve stated before, the Bears will throw it a ton this year, and Bennett was a huge redzone threat for the Giants last year, so I expect that to continue. Bennet very likely could be the third receiving option behind Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte.

Brandon Myers

Once an unknown, Myers now is playing in the Big Apple. Eli Manning has made his tight ends fantasy relevant for years. Players like Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard, and Martellus Bennet have seen solid numbers with this team, and Myers is a better pass catcher than any of them. He is not as physically imposing as some tight ends, but he is a reception machine and that should continue in 2013.

Owen Daniels

Daniels is a very serviceable tight end. He had 732 yards and 6 touchdowns in the regular season last year. My concerns lie in the fact that the Texans are very run oriented, and added more of a deep threat in Deandre Hopkins so that may take away even more targets from Daniels in 2013.

Tier Five

Jermichael Finley

Aaron Rodgers has said repeatedly this offseason how impressed he’s been with Jermichael Finley. His route running and catching have improved and he has been much more focused. Finley is in a contract year this year and may finally put it all together, but the Green Bay line is falling apart so I worry that he may be asked to block more (or at least stay back and chip before getting out on his routes). It’s a risk, but in the later rounds it could really reward you.

Fred Davis

Davis was suspended in 2011 for drug use, and in 2012 he suffered an Achille’s tear and missed nine games. In his first preseason game back this year Kirk Cousins hit Davis for 3 yard touchdown. Davis has upside in this offense, but he also could have his fair share of struggles. Hopefully RGIII and Davis strike up some chemistry and he finally stays on the field a whole season.

Jared Cook

Many people had high expectation for Cook last year in Tennessee. Whether it was the fault of Cook, the coaching staff, or the young Jake Locker no one knows, but the Rams paid Cook richly and reports are out that Sam Bradford has said that his confidence is growing in Cook each time the two step on the field together. He is a veteran receiver for that St. Louis team, and could find himself as the primary receiver.

When it comes to fantasy football defenses and kickers should be scooped up at the tail end of the entire draft. Defenses can earn you plenty of points from time to time, but it is too tough to predict the best units. Some teams are easier to predict (49ers, Seahawks) but just one or two injuries and even those teams can falter. I always play it safe and just take the best available defense as late as possible and attempt to play the matchup game via the waiver wire when necessary. Kickers can become rather streaky, so it important to pay attention to free agents on your waiver wire that are earning many kicking opportunities.

Top Ten Defensive Units

1. Seattle Seahawks- This is a defense that is solid at every position. No weaknesses. And a team with a great run game always helps the defense by eating up the clock, and not allowing the opponent’s offense to have time on the field.

2. San Francisco 49ers- Solid defense, but a shaky secondary. They’ll cover up that trouble with their great pass rush. Not a real problem.

3. Houston Texans- JJ Watt. Need I say more? Ok, I will. Just like Seattle, Houston run game will greatly help their defense kill the clock and maintain low scoring games.

4. Cincinnati Bengals- The Bengals have premier defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and a solid linebacking corps. They’ve consistently been a good defense for years thanks to Mike Zimmer.

5. St. Louis Rams- The Rams have been drafting stud defensive players for years (James Laurinaitis, Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Janoris Jenkins, Alec Ogletree, Michael Brockers) and with the addition of Cortland Finnegan last year they took a big step forward. Their defense may win them (and you) a few games this year.

6. Baltimore Ravens- The loss of Ray Lewis will hurt, but this team has some major veterans on it. Ladarius Webb returning healthy plus the addition of Elvis Dumervil really helps.

7. Arizona Cardinals- The Cardinals recently signed John Abraham to boost their defense, but it’s the jump from Patrick Peterson that should truly help them out. Also, his return game can only help fantasy owners.

8. Chicago Bears- The Bears let go of Brian Urlacher this season, and that is a good thing. They have two good cornerbacks, linebackers ready to step up, and Julius Peppers. Plus Devin Hester. Don’t sleep on him.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Revis Island. I don’t know if this team will be able to muster up a pass rush, but they have good linebackers, safeties, and Revis. That’s gotta count for something.

10. Denver Broncos- Trindon Holliday may have a chip on his shoulder after getting cut by the Texans last year. He was great on special teams, and should be again. Von Miller and Champ Bailey will anchor this unit.

Keep an eye on: New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Top Ten Kickers

1. Blair Walsh

2. Sebastian Janikowski

3. Greg Zuerlein

4. Matt Bryant

5. Stephen Gostkowski

6. Matt Prater

7.Lawrence Tynes

8. Dan Bailey

9. Justin Tucker

10. Josh Brown

Check back next week for my quarterback tiers and my list of 20 sleepers that may help you steal your draft!

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Fantasy Football: Top Five Wide Receiver Tiers

Larry_Fitzgerald_2012_Nightmare_Season_Worst_Ever

Keeping up with the theme of placing fantasy players in tiers, today I’ll be covering the wide receiver group. Next week I will continue my “tiers segment” with the tight end position as well as ranking the top ten kickers and defenses as I see them. In two weeks I will finish my tiers off with the quarterbacks, along with sleepers for fantasy football. Once we are a few weeks into preseason games I will do a recap of my tiers, and I’m sure that there will have been some movement. Now on to the main attraction.

Tier One

Calvin Johnson

Six times. Six times he was tackled at the one yard line last year. If you were getting cute and thinking of taking another wide receiver ahead of Megatron, think again. He is the focal point for a team that throws a ton, and it doesn’t hurt that he is one of the best receivers to ever play the game.

Tier Two

Dez Bryant

Dez hit his stride in the last half of the season, and it became apparent he is an elite receiver. I’m looking for the Cowboys to lean on him, especially when they’re in shootouts due to their lousy defense. If he can keep up his production all year he might reach 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall caught 118 receptions last year, which was tied for second with Wes Welker (behind Calvin Johnson’s 122). With new head coach Marc Trestman leading the attack the Bears will be throwing more. Marshall is a lock to get +115 receptions, and he’ll make them count.

A.J. Green

A.J. Green scored a touchdown in nine consecutive games last year. He did have a dry spell for a few weeks, but with the Bengals’ new offensive weapons (Tyler Eifert, Giovanni Bernard, and whoever emerges as the number two receiver) defenses should be kept at bay giving Green more open looks throughout the season.

Demaryius Thomas

Thomas had 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Last season was his big breakout season, this year I look for him and Peyton Manning to make him a household name across the country. I believe this guy is still perfecting his role and refining his skills, and with a teacher like Manning he may see a lot of improvement.

Julio Jones

Jones struggled with a few injuries last year but still ended up with 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns. He missed one full game, but I can remember multiple times of him leaving the game for a quarter, only to come back out and light his opponents up. The Falcons will have a well balanced offense with Julio, Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, and Steven Jackson, but Jones has become Matt Ryan’s go to receiver, so his production will most definitely grow.

Larry Fitzgerald

Carson Palmer. Bruce Arians. Michael Floyd. Eric Winston. Rashard Mendenhall. Those are all reasons to look Larry Fitz this year. The guy is hungry for some wins. He wants to carry this team. There are no stats or anything to give good reason for him being in this group, but there is a strong chance he could finish as a top five wide receiver. In math terms, Palmer + Arians+ Fitz= Many yards and many touchdowns. My prediction is he tops 1,200 yards and has 14 touchdowns.

Tier Three

Victor Cruz

Cruuuuuuuz is back in town! Vic had over 1,000 yard and 10 touchdowns last season, and that’s a reasonable expectation for this year as well. The Giants have one of the most well-rounded offenses in the league so no defense will be able to lock down #80. Eli will spread the ball around to receivers like Vic, Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle, and new tight end Brandon Myers, and the tandem running attack of David Wilson and Andrew Brown will keep defenses on the toes. I look for Cruz to catch around 7-10 passes a game and contribute consistently for fantasy players.

Randall Cobb

Aaron Rodgers recently said that he expects Cobb to catch 100 passes this year. SOLD! Cobb is a playmaker that the Packers utilize in many, many ways. They like to line him up in the backfield, in the slot, and on the outside, and Rodgers loves to throw to him. Cobb had 954 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns last season, and I’d look for that to increase to 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns (plus some extra rushing yards).

Andre Johnson

Andre was once locked in as a first round pick in fantasy. A few things are building up against him to knock him down this far in the last few years: 1) Arian Foster is the bell cow for the Texans’ offense, 2) he is now 32 years old and is falling out of his prime, and 3) when the Texans get into the red zone they do not throw the ball.  Johnson had only 4 touchdowns last year. Maybe that number will increase up to 7 or 8 this year, but that is his ceiling. Albeit with 1,600 yards attached to that number, that’s a great ceiling.

Roddy White

The other half of the Falcons wide receivers is still a major fantasy receiver. White posted 1,351 yards and 7 touchdowns last season (compared to Julio’s 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns). White is less dynamic than Jones, and will not be as utilized on the offense as Jones was with reverses, screens, and such, but he gathers up yards like crazy. The two receivers definitely play off of each other’s strengths well.

Vincent Jackson

Vincent Jackson only caught about half of his targets (72 out of 147), but he was obviously being targeted down field more due to his higher average yards per catch which was 19.2 (second most was Cecil Shorts and Danario Alexander at 17.8). He had 1,384 yards in 2012 on 72 catches. That’s pretty outstanding when other receivers are needing at least 90 catches to reach that same plateau.

Tier Four

Wes Welker

Peyton Manning once made Brandon Stokely and Austin Collie very usable fantasy receivers. Enter Wes Welker. Manning and Welker will form a new tandem in the league similar to Brady and Welker. I think Welker may be more of focus with Manning running the show, and even though the Broncos have Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker already, I think Wes catches over 110 balls this year and puts over 1,100 yards.

Jordy Nelson

Due to injury, Nelson only played 12 games last season. He tallied up 745 yards and 7 touchdowns though. In 2011 Nelson played all 16 games and had 1,263 yards and 15 (!!!) touchdowns. I do not expect him to have 15 touchdowns even if he stays healthy all year this year. My expectation is around 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Hakeem Nicks

Nicks is the number one receiver for the New York Giants, even if your friends tell you that it’s Victor Cruz. Nicks has the ability to make incredible plays, but he lacks the ability to stay healthy all year. Nicks played injured for over half of the season in 2012 and it showed. The Giants are even taking it slowly with him right now in training camp. In 2012 he only played in 13 games, he had 692 yards, and 3 touchdowns. His preseason form will really let us know what to expect come September.

Danny Amendola

Amendola is the fantasy poster child for high risk, high reward. He is Tom Brady’s number one wide receiver and replaces Wes Welker, who caught 118 passes from Brady last year. As long as he can stay healthy, which is a huge question mark, he will produce number one fantasy receiver stats. I just don’t know if it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Pierre Garcon

Pierre Garcon played with a foot injury last year (when he actually did play). He only played in ten games and had 644 yards and 4 touchdowns. He showed great chemistry with RGIII, and Mike Shannahan made a point to get Garcon the ball. If he can stay healthy before my draft he’s a mid-round receiver I’m willing to take a flier on.

Dwayne Bowe

The Chiefs have had a lot of change this offseason. Bowe now has pass-happy head coach Andy Reid calling the plays, and Alex Smith is his new QB. The Chiefs have few options when it comes to receivers. Tony Moeaki, Jonathan Baldwin, and Dexter McCluster have been underwhelming. It’s up to Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe to pick up the slack.

Marques Colston

Colston has been very consistent over the last four years. Here are his basic stats since 2009:

2009- 1,074 yards, 9 touchdowns (16 games played)

2010- 1,023 yards, 7 touchdowns (15 games played)

2011- 1,143 yards, 8 touchdowns (14 games played)

2012- 1,154 yards, 10 touchdowns (16 games played)

I think the stats say it all. I’d take that production in the fourth round and feel great about it.

Tier Five

Reggie Wayne

Bruce Arians is gone from the Colts and so Andrew Luck may not be throwing it deep all day. Reggie Wayne was highly targeted last season with 194 targets (behind only Calvin Johnson), and that is a sure bet to decrease. The Colts have said that they are going to focus on the run, and with another offseason on the young receivers’ resumés T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, and Dwayne Allen are sure to be more involved. Wayne will be good, just don’t expect the same as last season.

Steve Smith

Steve Smith gained 1,174 yards and 4 touchdowns last season, and nothing has changed with the Panthers offense, so I do not expect anything to change with Smith’s stats. In 2011 he did have 200 more yards and 3 more touchdowns, so know there is room for improvement, just not too much.

Eric Decker

The Broncos have 3 good receivers in Demaryius Thomas, Decker, and Wes Welker. Decker is still number two on that list, but the rock will definitely be spread around more. He may still get 1,000 yards this year, but I do not see him getting anywhere close to the 15 touchdowns he had last year.

Cecil Shorts

Cecil Shorts biggest downfall is that he plays for the Jaguars. His quarterback will either be Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne. Luckily, Maurice Jones-Drew is coming back healthy this year so defenses will have to stop Pocket Hercules first, and Shorts may be able to take advantage of that. Shorts averaged 17.8 yard per catch, behind only Vincent Jackson. He also trained heavily with Larry Fitzgerald this offseason and has looked great in camp. If he had a good QB I’d put him in tier three.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson had 1,000 yards and 6 touchdowns last season, but is changing offensive systems, head coaches, quarterbacks, and even the receivers around him are changing. There are a lot of unknowns here, but his talent is real. Hopefully whoever emerges as the starting quarterback is competent enough to get Johnson the ball often.

Miles Austin

As Dez Bryant emerges, Miles Austin falls into the limelight. Austin is the second and sometimes third option behind Bryant and Witten, but still produces well. He had 943 yards last year and 6 touchdowns. He was only targeted 118 times in 16 games, but he is going late in drafts and is definitely a good plug-and-play receiver.

Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon is gaining a ton of hype this offseason as he really emerged on the Browns during the second half of last season and his new coach, Rob Chudzinski, likes to throw deep. Gordon makes a living going deep. He will be suspended for the first two games of the season, but after that I expect the Browns to lean heavily on Gordon in their passing attack.

Feel free to leave your comments and let me know how you disagree or what you enjoyed about this post. Thanks for reading and make sure to come back next Thursday for my tight end tiers and my defense and kicker rankings!

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