The Wormburner: Solid Starters in 2019/2020

August 22, 2019 — by Rob Kirby

Almost everything changes when you double the sample size. So you can tear up last week's one-week history of nearly everything, because the new data has stomped on it like cleats on a doormat (proceeding to shred it with the studs).  Riyad Mahrez’ one game streak of starting matches ended abruptly. Likewise, and related, his orchestrating role in triple assists and double-digit point hauls disappeared. He neither started nor got an attacking return during his 1-point runout on the pitch in GW2. Harry Kane blanked. Mo Salah also blanked. Raheem Sterling scored two fewer goals than the previous week (but he did score and is joint leading scorer this season, on 4 goals). The corrective effect of a second week saw a spreading of the wealth with a new cast of characters, in addition to the regression of many of week one’s heaviest hitters. In GW2, Teemu Pukki became the new hat trick hero and the first Premier

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The Wormburner: Extrapolating from 1

August 16, 2019 — by Rob Kirby1

Can players be judged to be wildly over-performing after one week? Without a doubt, at least from the point of view of this armchair critic. What better time and place, really. What's most recent is most real. Even if commentary were forbidden, points hauls from the league’s least-likely naturally trigger disparaging comments by reflex. Opening weekend contains the entirety of the known universe of the new season, which means everything. These results foretell the season ahead. Just derive blanket conclusions based on the sample size of one, take a bold binary stance and it’s easy as you like. Back up ’til you hear glass. Extrapolating from GW1 and populating results forward for 37 game weeks, it’s glaringly apparent that Erik Pieters is the best fantasy defender to ever walk the planet. Two assists and a clean sheet, and that was just week one, except, as stated, that's everything, because it's the known universe of all that

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The Wormburner: Late Pick, Last Ditch, Draft Day

July 31, 2019 — by Rob Kirby

Sunday is draft day in the Wormburner league. With pick 8 of 10, it hardly seems realistic or worthwhile to put Salah, Kane, Sterling, Aubameyang, Agüero, Mané or Eriksen in the queue, except sometimes someone picks someone bizarre and you get one of the sleek models after all. It would be delinquent and wasteful not to do so. Somebody could very conceivably not choose Eriksen, for example, so there's that. Either way, the heavy hitters won’t clutter the queue for long once the draft starts. One could maybe score a top-six or top-seven pick with slot number eight, you never know. Dare to dream. But who comes next in that series, assuming those seven come to pass? Who’s eighth-best? Firmino? Vardy? Rashford? Kevin de Bruyne? It's de Bruyne, isn't it. Or is it Eriksen, because the custom first seven weren't calculated correctly? Is Eriksen even a first-ten pick? When you don’t have conviction on first pick,

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The Wormburner: Mock Draft This

July 26, 2019 — by Rob Kirby2

A mock draft is the way to go, 100 percent. I should here admit that I have never partaken of draft mockery and have no immediate plans to do so. No plans to rectify fantasy footballing deficits, no plans to better myself. It would seem pointless then to talk about a hypothetical mock draft--and hypocritical?--having always rejected it for theoretically taking too much time or exacting too steep a cost in the transaction of one’s soul. So, how about we reel that one back all quick-like and I just propose a list. Withdraw from the super-official full-on rehearsal wedding and propose a gentler advance planning in a more minimum-effort sort of way. Unless that sounds too pushy. Welcome back to the Wormburner, where the topic of the day is all things drafting, minus most things drafting. A couple thoughts on prep for the draft. One on mental visualization, at least. Past seasons (for

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The Wormburner: A Whole Lotta Questions (Fantasy Football, Draft)

July 9, 2019 — by Rob Kirby

The transfer window is hardest on the fantasy manager who just asks for a few simple certainties in life. They won’t be forthcoming. The Premier League landscape appeared vaguely comprehensible by season’s end. Since then, shifting sands and tectonic plates have taken on new shape. Would it be a stretch to say it has changed beyond recognition? Yes. In fact, that would be an excellent example of overblown histrionics. But somewhere between here and there. Manchester City broke the club’s transfer record for £62 million holding midfielder Rodri, the former Atlético Madrid man famous enough to command a five-letter moniker but not famous enough to have been familiar to the author of this sentence. One day, it’s “Rodri is a name most people will not recognize.” The next, it’s “Meet Rodri, our new overlord.”  Meanwhile, the job-share between Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus remains tricky. A packed midfield of Raheem Sterling,

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U.S. Takes Top Prize, Fast and Furious; Fellow Daughters of the British Empire Leap Forward, Swiftly, Less Furiously

July 14, 2015 — by Rob Kirby

As breaking news to no one, Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after the famous 1999 Women's World Cup penalty shootout final victory, punctuating the U.S. women's national team’s second taking of the top prize in soccer with a classic photo finish, cameramen lapping up her iconic knee drop and sports-bra reveal. The Americans won the debut trophy in 1991, but 1999 represented the moment when the team first captured the hearts and minds of the American public. Sixteen long years then transpired before the team and country would again celebrate another, on both the day of the 5-2 victory over Japan in Vancouver on July 5 and again in New York City at a ticker tape parade custom ordered for the occasion. In nearly as notable news, England shrugged off the indifference of a nation to make the semifinals and dispatch Germany in the third-place playoff of the 2015

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Winning Ugly: Mourinho Style

April 6, 2015 — by Sanibel

Like a Wes Anderson film or a Kurt Vonnegut book, Mourinho’s teams have a distinct and recognizable style. They’re known to “park the bus” and happily take a 1-0 win. His forwards are fully expected to track back and anyone unwilling to do so will be sold (Mata’s fate) unceremoniously. Mourinho’s style has become full-blown at Chelsea where it was only nascent and semi-developed at his earlier clubs. Unsurprisingly, some scoff that it wants for aesthetic pleasure. There are two basic storylines for a Chelsea under Mourinho (part II) win. First: Score early, play complacently, allow an equalizer, score a last gasp winner. Second: eighty-five minutes without scoring, frustratingly large number of corners that amount to nothing, jammy goal right before stoppage time. Chelsea's recent league match against Hull City was met with disapproval and classified as a typical Chelsea skin-of-their-teeth win. The disapproval is born of a belief that

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Rubio Rubin, Blast from the U-17 Past

March 30, 2015 — by Rob Kirby

[Editor’s note: Rubio Rubin featured as a 67-minute substitute for Aron Johansson in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Denmark and won his first cap for the full-blown USMNT. Originally commissioned by the Sarasota Herald Tribune to Rob Kirby in December 2011 but ultimately unpublished, this article featured a 15-year-old and U-17 Residency Program standout Rubio Rubin, before those heady heights. Congratulations, Rubin!] For two years, the crop of under-17 soccer players in the U.S. national team housed at the 350-acre IMG sports complex in Bradenton live and breathe soccer. They keep their eyes fixed firmly on the prize of representing their country at the 2013 U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. The top trophy represents the culmination of a 24-month dream. This newest group of 15 year olds, 32 boys all born in 1996, left home in August and moved into the all-expenses-paid U.S. U-17 residency program, with a

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