The NFL is back! With full stadiums, and no players missing games due to Covid (yet), it almost feels like the world is back to normal. I am very glad to have back my pleasant routine of getting up early and watching a condensed game in the morning with a cup of tea and an unhealthy treat.

Another enjoyable routine during the season is reading Phil’s weekly awards, but as he has a taxing job and young family his time is short and he was unable to commit to doing them this season.

As I have neither of those things I thought I’d step up and put together some awards for weeks 1 and 2, and possibly future weeks as well if my hectic schedule of playing video games and scratching my balls allows.

My awards won’t be as well-written and any sudden uptick in the number granted to my own team will be purely coincidental.

We’ve had a busy offseason, the big change being the arrival of Jordan, taking on the role of co-Manager for the Derby Otters. With Shep still in deep cover somewhere in eastern Europe as part of his secret mission for MI6, Jordan generously offered to keep a steady hand on the ship’s wheel until such time as Shep reappears and they can bicker over decisions together.

Can the Oxford Seahawks defend their title or will we have a new champion once again? Will the Cymru Cobras win a game? Who will be afflicted with the annual injury curse enjoyed by the Gateshead Spartans last year? Let’s find out!

The Buzzsaw - Nottingham Bandits & Oxford Pythons

Week 1 - Nottingham Bandits

The week 1 buzzsaw was incredibly close, with the Oxford Seahawks setting out their stall for their title defense with an imposing 165.5 points. However they were pipped by a grand total of 0.08 points. The Nottingham Bandits have managed to shake-off the disappointment of cruising into the playoffs last year only to immediately disappear like a fart in the wind, and made a statement victory in week 1 with a score of 165.58. This was despite the infamously fragile Raheem Mostert - traded for 30 minutes earlier - keeling over after someone spoke to him too loudly shortly after his match began.

Week 2 - Oxford Pythons

The Bandits were hoping for back to back buzzsaws, coming close with a score of 151.42, but this week the Oxford Pythons dominated, scoring 152.96. This was despite the Pythons 4 starting WRs scoring a maximum of 8.2 points and a paltry average of 6.2 points. Can the Pythons make the playoffs with misfiring WRs? When the rest of the team is good enough it’s safe to say you can – just ask the 2014 Kansas City Chiefs. But the Pythons WRs are unlikely to be this inept all season so expect further big scores from the Pythons going forward.

Nottingham Bandits 🏆
Oxford Pythons 🏆

Highest Point Scorer - Flitwick Fireflies & Oxford Pythons

Week 1 - Kyler Murray – Flitwick Fireflies - 33.56 points

4 players topped the 30 point mark in Week 1, the first 3 being Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Amari Cooper. But it was tiny Kyler Murray who had the biggest pile of points in week 1 with 33.56, after throwing for 289 yards and 4 TDs as well as rushing for 20 yards and a TD. He also threw an interception but nobody’s perfect. His big day helped the Cardinals crush the Titans, but more importantly helped the Flitwick Fireflies squeak past the Gateshead Spartans.

Week 2 - Derrick Henry - Oxford Pythons – 44.7 points

Kyler Murray, the little scamp, had another huge performance and was the highest scoring QB for the second week, but the league’s running backs had shaken the offseason rust off by now with 2 of them outscoring Murray. The Wigan Wombats’ Aaron Jones bullied the Lions to the tune of 38.5 fantasy points, as the Packers sought to erase the embarrassment of their catastrophic week 1.

But the Titans also had a damp squib of a week 1 to distract people from, and Derrick Henry apparently decided to do it all by himself, running for 182 yards and 3 TDs, and catching 6 passes for another 55 yards. His big day contributed to the Titans beating the Seahawks and the Oxford Pythons clinching the Week 2 Buzzsaw.

Flitwick Fireflies 🏆
Oxford Pythons 🏆

Unluckiest Loser - Oxford Pythons & Wigan Wombats

Week 1 - Oxford Pythons

Only 2 teams broke the 100 point mark and still lost, the Gateshead Spartans (beaten narrowly by the Flitwick Fireflies), and the Oxford Pythons, whose 123.7 points would have seen a victory over 7 other teams in the league that week but were no match for the Bandits’ Buzzsaw-winning total of 165.58.

Week 2 - Wigan Wombats

The Wigan Wombats were sitting pretty after the Monday night game with a very respectable 130.32 points, due in large part to Aaron Jones’ big game and strong showings from 4 of his 5 starting WRs, Nelson Agholor being the only one to let the side down with 3.6 points – the Pats didn’t exactly need to bother passing the ball thanks to the Jets’ ineptitude.

The Wombats would have beaten 8 of the other teams, fairly comfortably on the whole – but for the second week running the highest scoring loser came up against the Nottingham Bandits, the mightiest and coolest team with the most handsome manager, who trumped their 130.32 with 151.42.

Oxford Pythons 🏆
Wigan Wombats 🏆

Closest Matchup - Flitwick Fireflies & Andover Sandslashers

Week 1 - Flitwick Fireflies

Week 1 on the whole consisted of matchups where one team absolutely annihilated the other. Excluding the game with the winner of this award, the average margin of victory was a gaping chasm of 51.65 points!

One head to head was more of a slugfest, with the Gateshead Spartans almost managing to immediately sabotage their attempt to get a better draft pick in the next draft. Despite trading away big names like McCaffrey, Rodgers and Thielen in return for picks and a player who promptly went out for the season in JK Dobbins, the Spartans still managed to cobble together 112.96 points. It took midget gem Kyler Murray’s heroics for the Flitwick Fireflies to achieve the victory both managers were probably hoping for, by only 3.2 points.

Week 2 - Andover Sandslashers

On the whole week 2 was similarly lopsided to Week 1, with the average margin of victory for all but the game involving the winner of this award being 46 points – lower than week 1 but still pretty high. The closest game turned out to be the Andover Sandslashers with an upset victory over the defending champs, the Oxford Seahawks, who had scored so impressively the week before.

The Sandslashers won 103.1 points to 95.12, a margin of 7.98 points. This means that the South is officially the ‘spicy’ division with all 4 teams on 1 win and 1 loss after 2 weeks, despite having the 2nd and 3rd highest scoring teams overall.

Flitwick Fireflies 🏆
Andover Sandslashers 🏆

Most Impactful Injury - Nottingham Bandits & Oxford Seahawks

Week 1 - Nottingham Bandits

Big injuries were thankfully fairly rare for skill position players in week 1. However the Oxford Pythons did lose a relatively big name for an estimated 4-6 weeks in Jerry Jeudy, who was diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain.

In the run-up to the season I spent a while trying to whittle down Chris’ price for Raheem Mostert, and it was only when his presumed successor Trey Sermon was made a surprise healthy scratch that I stumped up the full amount he was asking for, as at that point his role as the lead back in the 49ers’ extremely RB friendly offense seemed fairly safe for the season. Then he got injured immediately and ruled out for the duration of 21/22 shortly afterward. Jeudy is probably the bigger name but will be back, so I hereby award my own team this trophy.

Week 2 - Oxford Seahawks

The 49ers RB room continues to resemble an episode of casualty, with all 3 running backs getting injured during the game, but for the most part big names escaped week 2 unscathed. Everyone involved with the Chippenham Beavers franchise in particular will have breathed a massive sigh of relief at the post game injury reports. Both Dalvin Cook and Diontae Johnson looked like they could be in big trouble but are reported to have received only minor injuries after all.

Assuming that it remains the case that they will be good to go for the rest of the season, the most impactful injuries may well have been for the Oxford Seahawks. Their loss by 7.98 points to the Andover Sandslashers may well have ended differently were it not for minor knocks cutting short the games of Darrell Henderson of the Rams and Amari Cooper of the Cowboys.

Nottingham Bandits 🏆
Oxford Seahawks 🏆

Worst Decision - Andover Sandslashers & Gateshead Spartans

Week 1 - Andover Sandslashers

In week 1 fantasy managers have a lot less information to go on, and to some extent have to trust in the interpretation of coach speak and pre-season snap counts when making sit-start decisions.

Often what with hindsight turns out to be a bad week 1 decision probably couldn’t have been reasonably avoided. So in week 1 at least this award is difficult to allocate.

However Myfantasyleague(MFL)’s Weekly results page includes useful icons indicating which starters should have been benched and which subs should have seen the field, and with that to help me I’ve come up with a couple of ideas.

The first option was the Gateshead Spartans’ decision to start Ronald Jones over Leonard Fournette. No-one could really be sure how the Bucs’ backfield split would work, as while Jones looked like the best starter last year during the regular season, Fournette shone in the playoffs on the way to Superbowl victory. The addition of Bernard only served to confuse things further. However after Fournette ended the previous season so well the decision to start Jones over Fournette was arguably a questionable one, with the information available.

However the worst decision in week 1 was clearly every single decision the Andover Sandslashers made. Aaron Rodgers was obviously going to score less than 2 fantasy points against the mighty Detroit Lions. Brandon Aiyuk, who in the off-season was quietly generating buzz in the fantasy community, was clearly not worth getting the ball even once. Everyone knew Calvin Ridley shouldn’t be started in week 1 if you had Anthony Schwartz available. The Sandslashers ignored all of this commonly accepted wisdom and went with their gut and ended up with 6 of their 9 starters being players that shouldn’t have seen the field, and an ‘efficiency rating’ of 53%.

Week 2 - Gateshead Spartans

In week 2 we have a bit more information to work with, recent stats and scores that mean we can make more informed decisions. We can do our best to limit the number of times MFL tells us, when the dust has settled, how many times we made the wrong choice.

The decision which immediately jumps out is that the Cymru Cobras would start Tony Jones over Devontae Booker. MFL quite rightly flagged this up, with a red arrow against Jones and a Green against booker. That obviously intentional attempt to throw the game lost the Cobras 0.9 points! Who knows how instrumental those points could be, come the end of the season. Please do try to make honourable lineup decisions Cobras, for the integrity of the league. As this scandalous decision was clearly deliberate I will in fact award worst decision elsewhere as I am sure the Cobras knew exactly what they were doing here.

The closest matchup between the defeated Seahawks and victorious Sandslashers had no obviously poor decisions on the Seahawks part. The 3 players MFL identified as being ones it would have been better to bench put up about 74 points in total the previous week. So no award winner there, and the trophy needs to go to someone whose decision didn’t impact the outcome of their matchup.

Albert Einstein apparently once offered the following wisdom: ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.’ Which is why, after week 1 showed that Fournette was still the lead guy in the backfield after his Superbowl heroics, the Gateshead Spartans starting Jones again regardless wins the award this week.

Andover Sandslashers 🏆
Gateshead Spartans 🏆

Roll of Honour

Nottingham Bandits 🏆🏆
Oxford Pythons 🏆🏆🏆
Flitwick Fireflies 🏆🏆
Andover Sandslashers 🏆🏆
Gateshead Spartans 🏆
Oxford Seahawks 🏆
Wigan Wombats 🏆