State of the Fantasy…..0006

Some picks were way off last week, I’ll just admit that right up front. This is that other crazy unpredictable part of the season. Of course the only other wilder part than the end of the season is the start of the season.

Getting the fantasy picks done on Wednesday since three games go off on Thursday and most likely we all have players in at least one of those games. On to the picks!

Thursday – 11/28-2013 – Thanksgiving Day

12:30pm – Green Bay at Detroit – Reggie Bush should have another ok showing as Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson will be playing big as Detroit fights for the division lead. Green Bay is in the same fight for the same division but without Aaron Rodgers it isn’t faring so well. Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy may have some fantasy value. Mason Crosby could be a good kicker this week to have.

4:30pm – Oakland at Dallas – Oakland is a mess, even fantasy wise. Rashard Jennings could be of value if Darren McFadden is another no go. Sebastian Janikowski  is questionable since he had some rare misses in his last outing and who knows if Oakland can move the ball into field goal range. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will be starters but DeMarco Murray is a hit and miss play.

8:30pm – Pittsburgh at Baltimore – If you have any other option than players in this game I suggest using them. I, however, will be starting Torrey Smith since my options are otherwise limited. Antonio Brown is a questionable call but in a two or three slot it may be alright.

Sunday – 12/1/2013

1:00pm – Jacksonville at Cleveland – Maurice Jones-Drew did very well for me last week but look for his production to be halved.  Cleveland??? I guess Jordan Cameron could be used.

1:00pm – Tennessee at Indianapolis – I’m benching Andrew Luck in favor of Alex Smith. That is hard to say given that I really thought Luck would come back but he, and that entire offense, are lost without Reggie Wayne.

1:00pm – Chicago at Minnesota – Forget everything I said about Chicago’s defense and look for Adrian Peterson to have a monster game. I think I could run through Chicago’s defense they way they played last game. I still think you are starting Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery but you better have other options to replace a banged up Matt Forte.

1:00pm – Miami at NY Jets – Keep any player from these teams on your bench.

1:00pm – Arizona at Philadelphia – Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald are friends again. Hopefully that is good for everyone. Nick Foles may struggle after the bye week and against Arizona stout defense.  LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are going to get points but will have to work for them.

1:00pm – Tampa Bay at Carolina – Cam Newton and Carolina’s defense. That’s about it.

1:00pm – New England at Houston – Everybody from New England, nobody from Houston.

4:05pm – Atlanta at Buffalo – Ouch. Matt Ryan if you have too. Fred Jackson if you have a deep need.

4:05pm – St. Louis at San Francisco – St. Louis’s defense has been amazing and I think they can do it again versus San Francisco’s offense even though they showed some life in their last game. I need Anquan Boldin to do well but I am not expecting two touchdowns again especially with the possible return of Michael Crabtree.

4:25pm – Denver at Kansas City – Yep, you are starting Peyton Manning. Kansas City defense has been exposed and will need everything it has to slow down Denver. Look for Wes Welker to make amends. Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Eric Decker will need to come to play with Knoshown Moreno possibly hurt and who know what that might leave in the running game. I’ll be starting Alex Smith as I’ve already stated. Start Jamal Charles if you have him. I still don’t believe Dwayne Bowe is what he used to be but KC will need to have everybody bring their best.

4:25pm – Cincinnati at San Diego – Quarterbacks if you need them. Andy Dalton is ok if you need a fill in and Phillip Rivers has had a resurgence. Good thing I brought that up previously. I’ll have Danny Woodhead in my line up and he may be more important if Ryan Matthews doesn’t play. A.J. Green and maybe Giovani Bernard if you have need at those spots. I’ll also have Nick Novak as my kicker.

8:30pm – NY Giants at Washington – Quarterbacks you should avoid, unless you like rolling the dice or are completely desperate. Both teams running and passing games have fallen apart of late. The only hope here is that both defenses play so poorly that the offense run all over them, or pass. Start players from either team at your own risk.

Monday – 12/2/2013

8:30pm – New Orleans at Seattle – Drew Brees and Russell Wilson should be no brainers in your line up. I would even hedge to use either defense. Of course Jimmy Graham is locked into my line up as well as Marshawn Lynch. Not too much trust in any receivers though. Brees distributes it too well and Wilson is scramble prone.

 

This was put together sort of fast so I may have missed a few here and there. Good luck in all you leagues.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Killzone: Sha-DOH Fall

Killzone: Shadow FallWhether you like this game or not may be determined if you liked the precursor games(here and here). If you never played the previous games then it’s a complete toss-up.

Thirty years after the events of Killzone 3, we find the Helghast living on the home world of their enemies. An uneasy truce has given all the Helghast asylum on Vekta after Helghan was destroyed. True to the uneasiness of the truce, the Vektans are suspicious of the Helghast and are carrying on covert operations to investigate their activities. Lucas Kellan is as close to this situation as possible. When the Helghast were given their asylum, Kellan lost his father to them during the forced exodus of their home. Since then Kellan has been working with Vektan agents against the Helghast. It is now his time to go behind the enemy lines to prove once and for all that they pose a definite danger to all Vektans. He will find however that both sides have been up to nefarious deeds and neither is above reproach.

From a technical stand point, the game achieves and falters. If the graphics were not improved I would have serious concern about the new console but the graphics are much better than the last PS3 installment. The most obvious visual improvement is the overall environment with a dramatic increase in detail and movement.  At times though it seemed that the programmers were trying to show off how many particles and objects they can control on the screen at a given time. If this lent something to the game play I would be fine with it but it reminded me of 3D movies doing things just to use 3D. I did like the controls and most of the weapons. The OWL is a drone that can be used for offense, defense, and technical tasks. Use it well and it will be your best friend in the game. I will state that some of the worst and most frustrating game play is in the free fall instances. I hope you don’t find yourself in the loop of failing over and over again like I did.

Along the lines of the previous Killzone games, the story is lack luster if that. Kellan’s story line doesn’t exactly fit together well and felt pushed at times. When he aligns himself with a Helghast agent just because she helped him escape it seemed like he put forth a lot of trust that was unwarranted especially since he basically betrays someone he has known for thirty plus years in the process. The story line also effected the game play. Whereas the previous games were frontal assault games, for the most part, this game has the player doing a lot of sneaking around much to the likeness of Black Ops or other stealth games. Not that this is necessarily bad, be prepared if you were expecting something else.

Then there is the online component. It is pretty much a rehash of Killzone 3’s online play. Warzone did not feel any different other than the maps. The ability to earn and mix items like weapons and abilities shows how everybody is still trying to copy Call of Duty.

Not that this was a bad game, it just wasn’t a great game. Being one of the first out on new hardware had to be challenging and scary. I think maybe I expected more from this game just because of the next-gen console hype. If I discount the hype and look at the game objectively I can say it was somewhere in the range of ok to good. The new game price of $60 is a little hard to swallow though for what you get. May be wait until people start trading it back in and the price drops to $40 or below.

There Already Is Blood

There Will Be BloodIt’s a long movie but a great movie.

Daniel Plainview is an oil prospector and fortune soon smiles upon him with a major oil find. There is a sacrifice paid when one of his workers dies in an oil rig accident leaving behind his small boy. Plainview decides to take this boy as his own and raise him. Some years later, a young man comes to Plainview’s office and offers him some valuable information about the location of a possible huge find of oil. Here is where he will be pitted against nature, his fellow-man, himself, and god.

This movie clocks in at almost two and a half hours but is well worth it. The cinematography is absolutely beautiful and every scene looks completely authentic. They do a fantastic job convincing you that you are experiencing America as it was between 1898 and 1927. To complement great visuals comes a subtle but compelling sound track. Never over-bearing or out-of-place, it helps set tone and feel for every scene. Even with a slow start, the movie holds your interest. You’ll find later in the movie that so many little things were setups of things later to come, some obvious and other not as much. I won’t speak for the historical accuracy of the film but it did an excellent job to show the struggle and drive of people during those times.

Great stories need great actors for a movie to be great as well. Daniel Day-Lewis delivers a stellar performance. He did win an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 2008 for his part in the film and deservingly so. It wasn’t the make up that made his transformation through time make his character show age. Day-Lewis brilliantly used mannerisms and voice to convey not only his characters age but also his ferocity. His facial expressions throughout the film could have won him the award by themselves.

If you have Netflix then this is a must watch as it is available right now. After you watch it, you will be very drawn to watch it again and maybe even have it to own for the ridiculous price of less than $8 from Amazon. This is a movie that I want to watch again just in case I missed anything and so that I can experience it again.

Xbox One – A Few Days In

Yes, I bought both consoles. I briefly gave my thoughts on the PS4 already and now some on the Xbox One.

I expected to be dazzled by the graphics and baffled by other things, I was not surprised. Of course the new console has better graphics than the console that is six years old. If it didn’t there would have been about a 98% return rate. I don’t think I need to talk about the graphics any further.

Did you like the switch to the Metro…sorry, we’re not supposed to call it that anymore…What I meant to say was – did you enjoy the change to the tile based interface on the Xbox 360 that is shared with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8? No??? Really??? Yeah, me neither. I’ve used the interface on a touch screen and it works just fine there but it is too cumbersome and clumsy when tethered to a controller. You can try to use the voice commands, that is if you connect your Kinect. Now that you don’t have to — do you want to?(More later.) They did try to simplify it but they also added confusion. The Xbox home button is used for multiple purposes now and depending on what context you are in or what you are doing will depend on what you get when you press it. They also reorganized and did some renames on things to confuse you even further. It’s not a good sign when they have a tutorial on the home screen to help you learn the new home screen.

As far as the Kinect goes, I think the jury is still out. From the reports that compare it to the original Kinect it has been drastically improved. I sit less than the previously needed six foot minimum and it seems to work fine. What I stumble over is what are the commands and when I can use them. I did the tutorial I mentioned earlier but it is not very comprehensive and some of the list I’ve found on the Internet will just make you cross-eyed if you try to read them. I am cautious of the Kinect’s potential. A lack of commitment by Microsoft was stated very clearly when they did an about face and decided not to require the device to be connected. They still required you to purchase it regardless.

Maybe I dwell on the little things but isn’t the devil in the details? Let’s just take a look at a few of them.

  • The controller has improvements and feels good overall. I can’t describe it well but it seems like the top is too narrow and my hands have to point to far inward. What really irks me though is there is still no good notification when you are running out of power. I use the same rechargeable AA batteries I have been using in my 360 controllers. Sure the 360 controller circled the rings on the controller when power was low but who is looking at the controller? I found the same issue on the new console. Smack dab in the middle of an on-line match a message comes on my screen stating that controller one has been disconnected. Did the rings circle on the controller? I don’t know, I wasn’t looking!
  • Microsoft made a big deal about their tv integration. If you are going to put it in the forefront then you need to make it work right. Submitted for your review – I connected my Comcast cable box to the Xbox One, fumbled through getting the IR blaster to work but managed to get it. Although the setup process could have worked better, I was able to accomplish a successful setup. Or did I??? Over the weekend I wanted to watch a college football match that was carried on ABC. I get the Xbox OneGuide on the screen, scroll to the channel I want to watch with the controller, press the button, and get tuned to the wrong channel. You see, I wanted the HD feed of the game but the Xbox One tuned to the standard definition feed. On Comcast, at least in my region, HD feeds have separate channels than standard definition. I had wanted 804 for the HD but got tuned to 4 for standard definition even though I scrolled to and selected the HD station. I would think that if I scroll to 804 then select it I would then be tuned to 804, not 4. If I had used the Kinect and tried tuning that way I could have given some leeway.
  • More on tv integration. Sure it works but it did not look as good. There was a noticeable lag or quality loss when watching tv through the Xbone. It had an unnatural look and motion did not look as smooth as it does through the cable box itself. This condition was worse in snap mode(a new feature where you can put an app in a small window on the right and show another app/game in a larger screen portion on the left). What caused me a lot of concern was that even though this is labeled as a HDMI passthrough, you have to have the Xbone on and running at all times to watch tv. Too many stories and worries of the dreaded “red-ring-of-death” will keep many users from actually doing this. A small issue is that if you use your cable box remote to change the channel the Xbone has not idea and still thinks you are on the last channel it tuned you to regardless. That could get confusing.
  • Some apps that worked on the 360 don’t work as well on Xbone. My case in point is the ESPN app. Several times I was watching it and it just locked up never to recover. I had to go open another app and then reopen ESPN. At first I thought this was just because I had it snapped. However, I found the freezing problems to continue even when ESPN was the only app that I was running and had it in full screen mode. Furthermore, while snapped I could not find a way to select all of the content that was available while in full screen mode.
  • Snap mode needs some work. Along with the lag and feature issues I already mentioned, I cannot find a way to adjust the volume of the full screen versus snapped app. It seems that the Xbone determines how loud it wants each app to be and you have to accept it. Small item I know but I would like to have more control in this case.

Potential? Sure, tons – just like PS4. I expect there to be patches before Christmas, heck maybe before Thanksgiving. Microsoft already said that Twitch broadcasting will not be available until 2014 even though this is a feature that PS4 launched with. I also expect patches to address HDMI capturing to address issues people are having with captures and broadcasting. I just don’t understand why both Microsoft and Sony are trying to inhibit the community that is supporting them. It is nice that they are adding integrations to Twitch and/or Ustream but that does not suit all the needs in the gaming community.

Look for updates and tweaks to be forthcoming. I will say again that this console just launched and will not be perfect. Long term potential is just as big for this console as it is for the PS4.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll do a personal comparison of the two systems after a little bit more time with each.

What’s in the Box? – It’s an Xbox One

We have it in hand now, the second and final of the next generation consoles – the Xbox One, specifically the Day One Edition. Let’s get in this box.

xbone-box

The box itself is square and flips open from the handle side(on the bottom of the picture above).

xbone-box-open

First thing you get to see is the Kinect controller. You know, the one that you don’t have the option to not buy.

xbone-box-contents

Where the Xbox logo is printed opens to reveal some additional contents such as some documentation, HDMI cable, power cord, power brick, wired headset, and batteries. Here’s a better look.

xbone-contents

Then we removed the Kinect from the box.

xbone-kinect

Getting that out of the way, we are finally to the meat of this meal.

xbone-box-console

Here the console is nicely and tightly packed into the very bottom of the box.

xbone-console

There is the console! Behold it in all its glory.

It’s hard to get  a feel for the new system with out a point of reference. With that said, here are some bonus pictures to compare.

Like, the Xbox One beside an Xbox 360 from the top…

xbone-consoles-top

and from the side…

xbone-consoles-side

Now, the power bricks! From the top…

xbone-bricks-top

and the side.

xbone-bricks-side

For the final submission, the controllers.

xbone-controllers

That’s what’s in the box. If you get one of these for yourself, get ready to hurry up and wait as you download and install the day one, mandatory patch. It actually went fairly quickly.

Bonus: the audio unboxing. Thanks for checking us out.

[audio http://k007.kiwi6.com/hotlink/zcvo0st9no/witb-004-xbone.m4a]