Playoff time in Alice in Chains league
Appropriately enough, members of Alice in Chains dominate the field of teams that compose the final four in the third annual Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League.
Sean Kinney overtook guitarist Jerry Cantrell last week to earn the top seed, lining the drummer up against singer William DuVall in the semifinal game that takes place over the next two weeks of the NFL season.
Kinney's Team Nosering (8-5) tied Cantrell's for first overall but won the tiebreaker because it scored more points (1,226 compared with Cantrell's 1,194).
"It feels great to slap the blond one. It was the only demand I put on my elite team of nerds," Kinney said via email about winning the regular-season title.
Cantrell, the second seed, faces former Queensryche guitarist Chris DeGarmo in the other semifinal.
"Losing the No. 1 spot was a killer. My team severely underperformed against William's team two weeks ago, allowing him to get a shot to make it to the playoffs and began a two-game slide for me," Cantrell said via email. "Anything can happen in fantasy football, but I don't like my chances against Chris' team."
Cantrell's Aroma Of Tacoma (8-5) finished a half-game ahead, but Mach Six's (7-5-1) have led the league in scoring since Week 1.
"I like my chances. The Aroma will be tough to beat, but I'm hoping to upset Jerry's Super Bowl plans," DeGarmo said via email.
DeGarmo has the No. 1- and No. 4-ranked running backs (Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy and Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, respectively) but also the unpredictable seventh-rated quarterback, Tony Romo of the Cowboys.
"I'll be lucky to make it to the next round," said Cantrell, who boasts the second-best fantasy QB (Carolina's Cam Newton) and the fifth-ranked wide receiver (Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace).
Cantrell's team will suffer because Redskins tight end Fred Davis is suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, leaving him with few options for a replacement.
Alice in Chains FFL charities
Each member of the Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League will put a valuable item up for auction. After the season, the net proceeds from the auction will go to the league champion's chosen charity. Here are the charities each member of the AIC&FFFCL is playing for this season:
Charity: Boys And Girls Clubs of America
Charity: Little Kids Rock
Charity: Ronald McDonald House of Milwaukee
Charity: Boys And Girls Clubs of America
Charity: American Diabetes Association
Charity: Ronald McDonald House
Charity: Make a Wish
Charity: The Gentle Barn
Charity: The Little Baby Face Foundation
"What a drag. [Detroit's Brandon] Pettigrew, [Houston's Owen] Daniels, [New York Giants' Jake] Ballard … take your pick. Not excited about any of them," Cantrell said.
Tight end issues aren't the only concerns for the fantasy football nut in search of his first title in the AIC league that he created to combine fun and raising money for a worthy charity. Cantrell missed the playoffs in the first season and lost to Meat Loaf in the final last season.
"There are three rookies in the playoffs; just goes to show anybody can play fantasy football," Cantrell said. "They've all done really well obviously. [Having] never played before I suggested the guys get some help running their teams. Mark Wakefield from our office is helping William. Baldy [Todd Shuss], another rookie, has been helping Sean. Chris has Heather Ankeny guiding his team. She really knows her stuff and is my ex girlfriend … if I lose I'll never hear the end of it."
One guy who will catch some flak is bassist Mike Inez, a fantasy football veteran but the only member of Alice in Chains not to reach the playoffs. Inez's Your Real Dad Al Davis (5-8) finished ninth out of 10 teams.
"Oh … poor little furry fella. It must hurt, with him being such a super sport guy," Kinney said. "In Mike's case I would say 'you can't polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.'"
DuVall, however, wouldn't knock Inez when he's down.
"You know, I have nothing but good things to say about my brother Mike Inez. His enthusiasm for the game is the stuff of which sportsmanship is made," DuVall said via email. "I feel badly that he didn't make it this time. A showdown between the four members of Alice In Chains would surely have been epic and memorable. But I congratulate Chris DeGarmo and my two Alice comrades and look forward to a great series."
Team DuVall is riding a three-game winning streak and won the tiebreaker over Heart singer Ann Wilson's Annie's Dogs because of more points scored (1,312 versus 1,221). DuVall gave full credit to Wakefield for getting to this point, although the singer joked, "I've given a few inspirational pep talks and stoked the fire at key points throughout the season."
He's got a strong squad with top-five players at four positions -- Lions QB Matthew Stafford (fifth), Ravens RB Ray Rice (second), Lions WR Calvin Johnson (first) and Packers TE Jermichael Finley (fifth) -- as well as the second-ranked defense (49ers), but DuVall still has some tough roster decisions to make.
"After discussing it at length with Mark, I think our biggest dilemma is who to start between Brandon Marshall, Steven Jackson, or C.J. Spiller," DuVall said. "Marshall and the Dolphins are hot right now but he's playing Philly, which makes us nervous. Their secondary hasn't lived up to the hype but still raises a red flag nonetheless. Steven Jackson has been a horse for me until recently. I feel like he's due for a breakout game. I'm just not sure it's going to be against that Seattle D line. Lastly, Spiller had a good week last week but much of his production came from a big run in the first quarter. Otherwise, he was quiet, which is typical for Spiller. He gets a lot of touches but his inconsistency worries my head coach, which, in turn, worries me. I'm sure each of these guys will rotate in and out of my lineup throughout the week until a final decision is made just before game time on Sunday."
Each participant will put one valuable item up for auction by the end of the season. The league champion will get to designate which charity receives the net proceeds of the auction. More details on the auction will be announced soon.
Weekly updates on the Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League, trash talk and interviews with the owners will be published in ESPN.com's The Life and Music sections throughout the season. Members of the league also will drop by for occasional chats on SportsNation, as Cantrell and Paul did last week.
Here is a look at the postseason matchups and last week's results:
Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League final regular-season standings
|1.||Sean Kinney||Team Nosering||8||5||0||1,226||1,163||--|
Last week: Defeated Team Valley Trash 129-50 Next up: Team DuVall (7-6)
|2.||Jerry Cantrell||Aroma of Tacoma||8||5||0||1,194||1,172||--|
Last week: Lost 133-107 to Annie's Dogs Next up: Mach Six's (7-5-1)
|3.||Chris DeGarmo||Mach Six's||7||5||1||1,349||1,164||.5|
Last week: Defeated Dallas' Best 115-81 Next up: Aroma Of Tacoma (8-5)
|4.||William DuVall||Team DuVall||7||6||0||1,312||1,196||1|
Last week: Defeated Team McKagan 142-63 Next up: Team Nosering (8-5)
|5.||Ann Wilson||Annie's Dogs||7||6||0||1,221||1,213||1|
Last week: Defeated Aroma Of Tacoma 133-107 Next up: Dallas' Best (6-7)
|6.||Jay Ferguson||Dallas' Best||6||7||0||1,133||1.193||2|
|7.||Vinnie Paul||The Brickwall Paul||6||7||0||1,133||1,138||2|
Last week: Lost 83-77 to Your Real Dad Al Davis Next up: Team McKagan (5-7-1)
|8.||Duff McKagan||Team McKagan||5||7||1||1,073||1,229||2.5|
Last week: Lost 142-63 to Team DuVall Next up: The Brickwall Paul (6-7)
|9.||Mike Inez||Your Real Dad Al Davis||5||8||0||1,189||1,213||3|
Last week: Defeated The Brickwall Paul 83-77 Next up: Team Valley Trash (5-8)
|10.||Randy Wolf||Team Valley Trash||5||8||0||1,029||1,178||3|
Last week: Lost 129-50 to Team Nosering Next up: Your Real Dad Al Davis (5-8)
Place of birth: Washington, D.C. Age: 44 Fantasy football experience: Rookie Favorite team: 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers
Personal: Joined Alice in Chains as its full-time lead singer in 2007, contributing to its 2009 comeback album, "Black Gives Way To Blue." DuVall previously had been in Comes With The Fall and recently produced MonstrO's debut album.
Place of birth: Tacoma, Wash. Age: 45 Fantasy football experience: 7 years Favorite team: Seattle Seahawks/Pittsburgh Steelers
Personal: Lead guitarist Cantrell's legacy with Alice in Chains includes 35 million albums sold worldwide, 21 Top 40 singles and eight Grammy nominations.
Place of birth: Age: 35
Personal: Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher who has also played for the Phillies, Dodgers, Padres and Astros.
Place of birth: Abilene, Texas Age: 47 Fantasy football experience: 12 years Favorite team: Dallas Cowboys
Personal: Paul, who formed Pantera with his late brother Dimebag Darrell, plays drums for Hellyeah the way Ray Lewis hits people. In other words, hard.
Place of birth: Wenatchee, Wash. Age: 48
Personal: DeGarmo is a co-founder of heavy metal band Queensryche, for whom he was lead guitarist. He is now a professional pilot.
Place of birth: San DiegoAge: 61 Fantasy football experience:: Rookie Favorite team: New Orleans Saints
Personal: Lead singer of Heart, the pioneering female hard rock band that has sold more than 30 million records.
Place of birth: Renton, Wash. Age: 45 Fantasy football experience: Rookie Favorite team: Seattle Seahawks
Personal: Kinney, who has been playing drums since he was 5, has been the only drummer for Alice in Chains and he has also played with the likes of Johnny Cash, Krist Novoselic and Kim Thayil.
Place of birth: Seattle Age: 47 Fantasy football experience: 2 years Favorite team: Seattle Seahawks
Personal: Before playing bass for Velvet Revolver, McKagan spent 13 years with Guns N' Roses. The lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Loaded, McKagan began writing a sports column for ESPN Music in 2011.
Place of birth: San Fernando, Calif. Age: 45 Fantasy football experience: 8 years Favorite team: Oakland Raiders
Personal: Before playing bass guitar for Alice in Chains, Inez was rocking arenas with Ozzy Osbourne.
Place of birth: Dallas Age: 37 Fantasy football experience: 6 years Favorite team: Dallas Cowboys
Personal: Ferguson portrays Stan Rizzo on AMC's "Mad Men," and his other TV credits include "Burn Notice," "Judging Amy" and "Evening Shade."