words // Brandon Richard
Perhaps the biggest move of the NFL off season had nothing to do with players, but rather apparel licensing rights. After a 10-year partnership, the NFL parted ways with Reebok and Nike took the reins as the league’s official outfitter. Nike introduced new Elite 51 Uniforms, team-specific game accessories and a new lineup of colorful cleated footwear.
While Nike has a leg up on the competition with apparel rights, the balance between the major sportswear brands and superstar endorsers is actually quite surprising.
Under Armour has a two-headed monster quarterback tandem of Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers/Under Armour/Signature Cleat) and Tom Brady (New England Patriots/Under Armour/Custom Cleats); perhaps the league’s best running back in Arian Foster (Houston Texans/Under Armour/Nitro Diablo); a receiving core of Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons/Under Armour), Miles Austin (Dallas Cowboys/Under Armour) and Anquan Boldin (Baltimore Ravens/Under Armour); and two of the league’s most intense defenders in Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens/Under Armour/Fierce Havoc) and Jason Pierre-Paul (New York Giants/Under Armour).
Representing Reebok are the Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli (Denver Broncos/New York Giants/Reebok/Custom Cleats). San Diego’s Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers/Reebok) rounds out the top QB trio, while Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars/Reebok) and Ahmad Bradshaw (New York Giants/Reebok) rep the Vector on the ground. Reebok wideouts include Roddy White (Atlanta Falcons/Reebok), Brandon Marshall (Chicago Bears/Reebok), Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis Colts/Reebok) and Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers/Reebok). DeMarcus Ware (Dallas Cowboys/Reebok/Custom Cleat) and David Harris (New York Jets/Reebok) wear the brand on defense.
How about adidas? They impressed us all this past spring by agreeing to terms with perhaps the league’s most marketable player, Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins/adidas/5-Star). They also inked rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins/adidas) and added Kendall Wright (Tennessee Titans/adidas/5-Star Mid) to their young receiving core. Reggie Bush (Miami Dolphins/adidas) and C.J. Spiller (Buffalo Bills/adidas/5-Star Low) carry the rock in 3-Stripes, while reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller (Denver Broncos/adidas/5-Star Mid) joined the brand last season.
Of course, there’s Nike. We’re talking Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers/Nike), Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles/Nike), Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts/Nike) and Alex Smith (San Francisco 49er’s/Nike/Vapor Talon Elite) taking snaps. Try LeSean McCoy (Philadelphia Eagles/Nike/Superbad), Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens/Nike/Superbad) and “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks/Nike) at running back. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals/Nike), Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions/Nike/Vapor Talon Elite), DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia Eagles/Nike) and Victor Cruz (New York Giants/Nike) on the receiving end of deep bombs. Need defensive playmakers? Darrelle Revis (New York Jets/Nike), Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers/Nike/Vapor Talon Elite) and Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers/Nike) aren’t bad options.
With this in mind, we thought it’d be interesting to play our very own version of fantasy football. Each week in fan-chosen, fantasy football style we’ll highlight the ultimate lineup of athletes chosen by you, the fans. In the Eastbay Fantasy Challenge, a quarterback, running back, wide receiver and a defensive player will be selected for every brand each week. Scoring is being based on NFL.com’s standard Fantasy league format. Passing, rushing and receiving touchdowns earn 6 points; quarterbacks get a point for every 25 passing yards; running backs and wide receivers get a point for every 10 yards gained; turnovers result in 2-point deductions; kickers earn 3-5 points for all field goals and a single point for each successful extra point conversion.
In our game, we’re selecting one defensive player instead of an entire team defense. Defenders receive 2 points for safeties, interceptions and fumbles recovered. Sacks are a point a piece, while defensive touchdowns are worth 6. As a bonus, we’re going off of the chart and giving .5 points per tackle.
Now that you know how the games are being scored, check out our recap of the first two weeks of the season.
The obvious attention-grabber in Week 1 was the quarterback match-up, featuring four studs projected to put up big fantasy numbers throughout the season. Veterans Aaron Rodgers representing Nike and Peyton Manning in his Reebok Custom Cleats rolled out impressive totals, while Cam Newton representing Under Armour in his signature Highlight cleat struggled to get going. However, it was Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III taking snaps in his adidas 5-Star Cleats who stole the show, winning the war of the QBs with two touchdown passes and 25 total points. Another adidas athlete stole the show for the running back group as well when C.J. Spiller in his adidas 5-Star Low Cleats of the Buffalo Bills had 169 rushing yards and a touchdown to top solid performances by his counterparts.
“Megatron” Calvin Johnson wearing Nike Vapor Talon Elite’s figured to be the week’s top receiver, but it was second-year sensation Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons and representing Under Armour who emerged as the top deep threat. Jones caught six balls for 108 yards, two touchdowns and 22.8 fantasy points. Chicago’s Brandon Marshall held up strong for Reebok with 119 receiving yards and a touchdown, while rookie Kendall Wright in his adidas 5-Star Mid didn’t provide much pop for adidas.
As the old saying goes, defense wins games, and it held true again in this match-up. Von Miller (Denver Broncos/adidas/5-Star Mid), DeMarcus Ware (Dallas Cowboys/Reebok/Custom Cleat) and Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers/Nike/Vapor Talon Elite’s) each recorded modest fantasy numbers, while 17-year vet Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens who helped Under Armour pull out the overall victory with an impressive 8 points.
Despite the fact that adidas had the week’s top two scorers, Under Armour’s balanced attack helped them strike first. With that quartet of athletes, we shouldn’t expect this to be the last week that they lead the way.
TEAM Under Armour
Cam Newton – 12.52
Arian Foster – 19.50
Julio Jones – 22.80
Ray Lewis – 8.0
Total = 62.82
Aaron Rodgers – 22.82
LeSean McCoy – 11.60
Calvin Johnson – 11.10
Troy Polamalu – 2.5
Total = 48.02
Peyton Manning – 20.42
Maurice Jones-Drew – 9.50
Brandon Marshall – 17.90
DeMarcus Ware – 4.5
Total = 52.32
Robert Griffin III – 25
CJ Spiller – 23.40
Kendall Wright – 3.70
Von Miller – 4.0
Total = 56.10
How would RG3 follow-up last week’s performance as the top scorer? Only by doing it again. The Redskins dropped a close game to the upstart St. Louis Rams, but Griffin threw a touchdown and ran for two to rack up more than 30 fantasy points. Tom Brady subbed in for Cam Newton, but struggled to get going against the Arizona Cardinals and ultimately lost a home opener for the first time in his career. Alex Smith’s mistake-free, two touchdown performance in San Francisco’s win over the Detroit Lions helped him net a solid 17.74 point showing. Eli Manning packed the stat sheet with more than 500 yards passing and 3 touchdowns for the week’s second highest total.
As long as Arian Foster stays healthy, he may be one of the biggest keys in how this whole thing plays out. Foster found the endzone for the third time this season and ran for 110 yards to top all backs this week. Ray Rice put up respectable ground and pass-catch numbers to give Nike a needed boost; Maurice Jones-Drew was held without a touchdown for the second-straight game; and San Francisco’s Frank Gore ran for 112 and scored to give adidas a 16.5 point boost.
Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith and Titus Young left a lot to be desired as far as receiving numbers go. Once again, the week’s top receiver came from the Atlanta Falcons, the honors this time going to Roddy White. Roddy caught eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown against brandmate Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to secure 16.2 points for Reebok.
On the defensive side of the ball, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews devastated Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears, recording 3.5 sacks in 23-10 win. DeMarcus Ware held steady with 4 total points, while Under Armour’s Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and adidas’ Mario Williams didn’t do much to help their respective brands’ cause.
Reebok walked away with the Week 2 victory and the theme was once again balance. RG3 and the adidas core of running backs can keep putting up crazy numbers, but if the receivers and defenders don’t step up, they’ll have a hard time getting on the scoreboard. Nike has the talent to compete every week, but when a guy like Calvin Johnson isn’t giving you superstar numbers, it leaves you with a lot of room to make up.
TEAM Under Armour
Tom Brady – 14.54
Arian Foster – 20.70
Steve Smith – 10.40
Dominique Rogers Cromartie – 0.5
Total = 46.14
Alex Smith – 17.74
Ray Rice – 15.20
Calvin Johnson – 9.40
Clay Matthews – 7.0
Total = 49.34
Eli Manning – 26.20
Maurice Jones-Drew – 12.70
Roddy White – 16.20
DeMarcus Ware – 4.0
Total = 59.10
Robert Griffin III – 30.44
Frank Gore – 16.50
Titus Young – 1.10
Mario Williams – 1.0
Total = 49.04
Now it’s your turn to let us know who you think should represent each brand in Week 3. Is Cam’s all-around game more appealing than Tom Brady’s consistency? Do you bench “Megatron” for the red hot Victor Cruz? Which Manning brother do you give the ball to? C.J. Spiller and Reggie Bush may be the best running backs in the league through two weeks – who’s running for you this time? Cast your votes and let us know who you think should participate in Week 3 of Turf Wars!
Week 3 Player Options
TEAM Under Armour
QB – Cam Newton or Tom Brady
RB – Arian Foster or Willis McGahee
WR – Julio Jones or Steve Smith
D – Ray Lewis or Jason Pierre-Paul
QB – Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck
RB – LeSean McCoy or Ray Rice
WR – Calvin Johnson or Victor Cruz
D – Clay Matthews or Troy Polamalu
QB – Eli Manning or Peyton Manning
RB – Ahmad Bradshaw or Maurice Jones-Drew
WR – Roddy White or Brandon Marshall
D – DeMarcus Ware or David Harris
QB – Robert Griffin III or Ryan Tannehill
RB – CJ Spiller or Reggie Bush
WR – Kendall Wright or Titus Young
D – Mario Williams or Prince Amakuara