My son, at long last, is big enough to play pool. He didn't want to learn how to play pool though.
At seven, he's finally tall enough to stand comfortably at our basement table and hit the cue ball with his mini cue. He's finally beyond rolling the pool balls back and forth and occasionally getting his fingers smashed by a rogue eight ball coming in hot. He made his announcement last week: Dad, I'd like to play pool.
I tried to play it cool. Sure, yeah, whatever. Let's play some pool, kid. Let me show you how it's done. We chalked up our cues and racked the balls. I broke, then approached my kid for his first and most basic lesson: how to hold the cue. It was then that he let me know if no uncertain terms that he was not here to learn the game. He was here to play. And if he couldn't get better without any help or guidance, he wasn't meant to be a pool player.
Making my disappointment after being denied my seemingly inevitable role as billiards tutor, I watched in agony as my son held the cue like a human-sized crab might hold it and slash wildly at the cue ball, threatening the pool table's felt with every jab. Shank after shank, his frustration grew. I said nothing, naively believing that modeling the proper pool form would serve as the night's lesson.
But no. He was consumed by the frustration and fury of not being able to hit one lousy ball into another lousy ball at a precise angle. I wanted to push, to tell him he'd have to sleep outside in the cold if he didn't listen up and take a brief pool tutorial. But I refrained. On we went, him jabbing crazily with his wildly incorrect grip, me playing as if I were alone, listening to Miles Davis or the Stones or Iggy Pop or some 80s new wave album, consuming a beer or six.
By the end of our third game, my son had relented. He sighed and leaned his cue against the wall. How do you do that, he wondered aloud after I rolled the eight ball in the side pocket. Come here, let me show you, I said, basking in the glory of a rare moment of parental competence.
Week 12 Review
Graham Gano, activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list in time to suit up against the Bengals, finished Sunday as fantasy's second highest scoring kicker, putting up a 13-spot on the strength of four field goals. Ka'imi Fairbairn, despite missing an extra point on Turkey Day, scored a reasonable nine fantasy points, the ninth highest total of Week 12. Tyler Bass also scored nine points. Jason Myers managed 11 points against the Eagles. He was fantasy's sixth highest scoring kicker in Week 12.
A quick note on Harrison Butker, who has slowly driven fantasy managers insane this season: 15 NFL teams have more field goal tries than the Chiefs, and Butker has one or zero field goal tries in three games this season. That's not ideal. He's had multiple attempts in seven games, making him serviceable for fantasy purposes. But you weren't looking for serviceable when you drafted him in August (you shouldn't have drafted him unless you did so in the last or second to last round). You were looking for spectacular, and you haven't gotten it.
Butker is now 11.13 field goal attempts under expectation. That's what we in the kicker industry call "noteworthy." KC's red zone touchdown percentage has begun to regress (they've scored a TD on 58.3 percent of their red zone possessions over the past three games, down from their season average of 62.5 percent). And the Chiefs continue to effortlessly churn out yards in their never-ending creation of positive game script. Even in a down year, Butker is fantasy's No. 11 kicker, a mere eight points behind fantasy's sixth highest scoring kicker.
Long story much shorter: I think there's reason to stay patient with Butker and/or pick him up in leagues where furious managers have soured on him. KC has a league-high 31.5 point implied total this week against Denver. The process would punch me in the mouth if I didn't mention Butker as a top option. I don't want to be punched in the mouth.
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Week 13 Kicker Plays
Dan Bailey (MIN) vs. Jaguars
Expected field goal attempts: 25.57
Actual field goal attempts: 12
We have an expected field goal emergency here. No kicker -- not even Jason Myers -- has a bigger gap between expected and actual field goal tries this season. Bailey has fallen victim to the Vikings' red zone efficiency: Minnesota has scored on 77.8 percent of their red zone possessions, the highest rate in the league. He's had multiple field goal tries in three of the Vikings' five wins this season, including two against Carolina in Week 12. Even a sliver of expected field goal attempt regression and Bailey could be in for a big outing against a Jacksonville team giving up the sixth most field goal tries this year. Importantly for process purposes, Minnesota has a 30.5 point implied total against the Jags, the second highest total of Week 13. Bailey is available on 68 percent of waiver wires. I don't understand how he's rostered in any leagues; I guess the power of name recognition is not to be underestimated.
Matt Gay (LAR) at Cardinals
Expected field goal tries: 25.71
Actual field goal tries: 14
The expected field goal tries here represents the Rams as a team, not just Gay, who joined LA just a few weeks ago. Either way, it's quite the gap. He's made four of five field goal tries in his two games in a horned helmet, and his Week 13 matchup is hardly hateful. The Rams are 1.5 point road favorites sporting an implied total of 25 points against the Cards, who have allowed an average of 2.4 field goal attempts in losses this season. Few teams have given up the consistent kicker opportunity Arizona has allowed in 2020: nine of the 11 kickers to face the Cardinals have multiple field goal tries. Gay could be the next kicker to benefit from said opportunity -- the only thing that matters.
Mike Badgley (LAC) vs. Patriots
Expected field goal attempts: 26.28
Actual field goal attempts: 17
We've spotted another kicker very much on the right side of his expected field goal tries. Badgley is in a good spot this week: the Bolts are 1.5 point home favorites against New England with an implied total of 24.25 points. Not great, but not terrible. Badgley, coming off a slow Week 12 in which negative game script led to just one field goal against Buffalo, has seven multiple field goal attempt games this year. Only the Cardinals and Chiefs have churned out more yardage this season than the Chargers, giving Badgley a solid weekly floor. And a bonus: LA has scored a touchdown on just 57.88 percent of their red zone possessions, the ninth lowest rate in the NFL.