0319 – April 04

So finally the FFL is getting back on track. The probability of snow for Sunday is 0%, and nothing can stop the games from being played (with the possible exceptions of lightning, flash flooding, an earthquake, a meteor strike, a plague of locusts or an alien invasion – and even then I’m willing to bet at least one person will walk right up to the invaders and tell them to push off until the game is over). The Swamp in Gent is the location for a pair of games, so let’s see what we can make of them.

Game previews

Antwerp Diamonds (0-2-0) vs Brussels Black Angels (1-1-0)

Last 5 years : Black Angels 6, Diamonds 0
Last game : April 15, 2012 in Gent. Black Angels 15, Diamonds 5

This year has been pretty tough for the Diamonds, and it won’t get any easier as they face the Black Angels. The Angels defense, as usual, is suffocating (opponents are converting just 10% of their third down attempts), and it’s going to be up to the offensive hogs of Antwerp to make room for their backs. The Diamonds are averaging 112 yards per game on the ground, but they’ll need to make more if they want to be competitive in this one.

The offense of the Black Angels has been varied, QB Noel has lead them to the league lead in passing yards, and they’re still effective on the ground. The Diamonds will have their work cut out for them, especially the front seven, who are going to have to stuff the run and get pressure on the quarterback as well, guys like LB Wisniewski and LB Morales Rosales will have to have big games.

A loss for Antwerp would all but end their playoff chances, they’d have to win out and get help from other teams to get back to the post season, while the Black Angels have to win to keep in touch with the Bulls as they chase the Flemish Championship and number one seed heading into the playoffs.

Computer says : Black Angels by 32
I say : I can’t see it happening for the Diamonds. Hopefully they’ll get some players back on the offensive side of the ball so they can make a game of it, but this win is going back to Brussels. Black Angels by 22

Gent Gators (0-1-1) vs Puurs Titans (1-0-0)

Last 5 years : Gators 3, Titans 3
Last game : March 11, 2012 in St Agatha. Gators 41, Titans 0

Finally the Titans are back in action. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen them on the gridiron, and I’m keen to see what changes that they’ve made. This is clearly a good team, but can they take the next step? A win against Gent would put them in an excellent position to qualify for the playoffs.

These are two offenses of clashing styles. The Gators are the only team to have more passing yards than rushing yards, and the Titans have by far the least passing yards per game this season.

The Titans pass defense hasn’t been tested this season, but I am very sure that they will be tested in this game. The Gators have the two leading players in the league as far as receptions go, WR Lezy and TE Defour (both with 7), and Defour also has the most receiving yards, 104.
I think I’ve said enough about Titans LB Lagae and LB K.Meersmans over the last weeks, but we should also mention that the Titans Combined Hog Rating is the best in the league. However, Puurs’ turnover differential (-4) is the worst in the league, even though they’ve played less games than everyone else, so this is obviously a cause for concern.

Computer says : Titans by 16
I say : It’s hard to disagree with the computer on this one. Both teams are too one-sided on offense, but it could make for an entertaining game. The Titans just have too many playmakers for the Gators. Titans by 20

FFL Fantasy Football Challenge

Seeing as we didn’t get to play two weeks ago, I still hold the first pick in the draft. Klaas is leading the season 2-1 but I think I have a solid team to even things up again.

Team Dale

QB Wauters (ANT – 7)
RB Banza (BBA – 3)
WR Lezy (GNT – 5)
DEF K Meersmans (PUU – 1)

Team Klaas

QB Killens (GNT – 4)
RB Smet (ANT – 8)
WR Lebek (BBA – 6)
DEF Lagae (PUU – 2)

The most improved players

Here’s a little something extra for you. I’d planned a big review of the season during the easter break but with all the cancelled games there really wasn’t much of a point. So instead I bring you a little list of the most improved players in the league (so far).

Antwerp Diamonds – RB/CB/QB Piet Wauters

Not just the stats, this guy looks like a totally different player to last year, like he’s taking on the game rather than let it come to him.

2012 stats – 4 rush, 7 yards. 4 rec, 24 yards, 1 td. 13 tak.
2013 stats (2 games) – 1/1, 6 yards. 14 rush, 42 yards. 2 tak.

Brussels Black Angels – WR/S Thomas Bouron

He did alright last year, but just his speed and hands make him look like a guy who can take a simple catch and break it for six points.

2012 stats – 12 rush, 18 yards. 10 rec, 120 yards, 1 td.
2013 stats (2 games) – 0/1, 0 yards. 3 rush, 0 yards. 6 rec, 95 yards, 1 td. 2.5 tak, 2 pd.

Brussels Bulls – DE Michael De Nolf

I must admit that I don’t really remember this guy last season, but that has changed in 2013, as he’s become a force to be reckoned with.

2012 stats – 10 tak, 1 sack.
2013 stats (2 games) – 11 tak, 1.5 sack, 3 tfl.

Gent Gators – DE Bart Sautois

To rank 4th in the league in tackles and 9th in fantasy points (2nd of players who only play defense, and even 1st in fantasy points per game of players who only play defense) is a remarkable turnaround, and one of the best stories this season.

2012 stats – 4.5 tak, 1 int.
2013 stats (2 games) – 16.5 tak, 0.5 sack.

Izegem Tribes – LB Arash Saadatmandi

This kind of goes against the grain of things because he didn’t play last year, but he had done (at least a bit) in previous years. He’s turned himself into a hard hitting linebacker.

2012 stats – did not play
2013 stats (1 game) – 2.5 tak

Leuven Lions – RB Seppe Delmeiren

Just a very quick look at the numbers will tell you that if there was an award for the most improved offensive player of the first half (and there isn’t), it’d be this guy, no doubt. Leads the league in rushing, receiving touchdowns and all purpose yards.

2012 stats – 13 rush, 41 yards. 3 rec, 11 yards
2013 stats (4 games) – 44 rush, 221 yards, 1 td. 4 rec, 96 yards, 2 td

Puurs Titans – RB/S Cedric Steenbeke

I’m not sure if this is fair or not, because he was great last year too, he just missed time through injury, and even when he did play he wasn’t right. Now he’s back and 100%, showing everyone what he can do on both sides of the ball.

2012 stats – 13 tak, 1 int
2013 stats (1 game) – 9 rush, 77 yards. 5 tak

Outro

I’m looking forward to football, and I know I’m not the only one. Game on!

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