There are NFL fantasy teams, and there are NFL fantasy teams based in reality.
Reddit user Mark McKinny, 28, of Boonton, N.J., wanted to put a unique twist on his lineup, compiling competing rosters of players named "Smith" and "Johnson" -- which are the two most popular last names used in the United States.
That fact, along with success of Calvin, Andre and Stevie Johnson at WR and the number of Smiths on the San Francisco 49ers (Alex and Aldon chief among them), gave McKinny, a Buffalo Bills fan, the inspiration for the rosters posted on Reddit Wednesday. His "Battle of the Common Surnames" generated more than 200 comments and was trending near the top of the NFL Subreddit while scoring even more points for originality, given the fact that these lineups could actually compete, once all the players were healthy.
"I got curious if it would be possible to field a team of just the two most common last names, and how they'd match up," he told Playbook via Reddit message. McKinny searched an online depth chart and worked his way down each position, searching for players by the appropriate last names. A couple of hours later, he had his lineups.
His biggest challenge -- finding a QB for the Johnsons. Using an online list of available free agents, he chose former Bucs and 49ers QB Josh Johnson, who worked out for the Seahawks earlier this month but remains unsigned. Johnson played with the now-defunct United Football League in September. He had to get most creative at center, given the lack of Smiths and Johnsons at that position. He went with centers named "John" instead and flipped a coin to assign them. He also took a few "liberties" with some players currently on IR and passed on the kickers and punters, since there were none available, although another Reddit user noted that free agent Chad Johnson could be used at either position.
Now, which side would win: "The Johnsons have a very weak O-line versus some elite pass-rushers, but [have] three of the most playmaking skill position players in the game today," McKinny said. "I don't care if your QB is Josh Johnson; anyone who can throw to Andre and Calvin and then hand it off to Chris isn't really going to have to be elite. I think Mark Sanchez might succeed with that offense. The Smith defense is stout, and a Torrey/Steve WR combo with Alex throwing to them could likely be a persistent, if not overly electric, combination, especially with the strong O-line Alex will be able to hide behind. Overall, I see the three-pronged offensive threat along with Jimmy Johnson's coaching bringing the Johnsons to a victory."
Here's his lineup for the Johnsons, coached by Jimmy once he comes out of retirement:
Defense: S-Rashad (2nd string, Arizona); S-Tyrell (3rd string, Detroit); CB-Leonard (Starter, Tampa Bay); CB-Chris (2nd string, Baltimore); LOLB-James-Michael (Starter, Cleveland); MLB-Derrick (Starter, Kansas City); ROLB-Jarret (Starter, San Diego); DE-Charles (Starter, Carolina); NT-Antonio (Starter, Indianapolis); T-Spencer (2nd string, Buffalo); DE-Michael (Starter, Cincinnati)
Offense: WR-Andre (Starter, Houston); OT-Mike (2nd string, Atlanta); LG-Charlie (Starter, Minnesota); C-John Estes (IR, Jacksonville); RG-Carl (New Orleans, 3rd string); OT-Rishaw (2nd string, Seattle); TE-David (IR, Pittsburgh); WR-Calvin (Starter, Detroit); QB-Josh (FA, former San Francisco); HB-Chris (Starter, Tennessee); FB-Will (Starter, Pittsburgh); KR/PR-Damaris (Starter, Philadelphia)
And the Smiths, coached by Mike of the Falcons:
Defense: S-Harrison (Starter, Minnesota); S-Eric (2nd String, New York Jets); CB-Sean (Starter, Miami); CB-Jimmy (3rd string, Baltimore); LOLB-Brian (Practice Squad, Buffalo); MLB-Malcolm (2nd string, Seattle); ROLB-Aldon (Starter, San Francisco); DE-Will (Starter, New Orleans); T-D'Anthony (IR, Jacksonville); T-Justin (Starter, San Francisco); DE-Antonio (Starter, Houston)
Offense: WR-Torrey (Starter, Baltimore); OT-Tyron (Starter, Dallas); LG-Wade (Starter, Houston); C-John Sullivan (Starter, Minnesota); RG-Evan (Starter, Green Bay); OT-Andre (Starter, Cincinnati); TE-Lee (2nd string, Buffalo); WR-Steve (Starter, Carolina); QB-Alex (2nd string, San Francisco); HB-Kevin (2nd string, Detroit); FB-Alex (Starter, Cleveland); KR/PR-Brad (Starter, Buffalo)
— steven stamkos (@RealStamkos91) December 19, 2012
• There's no NHL, but hockey is still alive and well in Canada, despite the worst efforts of Gary Bettman and the NHL owners. Nike posted this chilling "Hockey is Ours" spot on YouTube Wednesday featuring Steven Stamkos, P.K. Subban and Alex Ovechkin and paired it with a #HockeyIsOurs hashtag on Twitter. The commercial will give any hockey fan (Canadian) goosebumps. It asks: "What are you going to do? ... Take away our rinks, we've got a lot of cold ponds. ... Take away Canada, I'll go to Russia. ... If you want to take away hockey, you'd better take Canada and everything in it."
Many fans in America might feel the same way.