Commentary From the Edge: Week 14
Kevin Ratterree
December 4, 2012

So Harbaugh’s new toy flamed out. And here comes the Alex Smith crowd and the conventional wisdom crowd on a Monday wagging their collective fingers in Harbaugh’s face. See. We told you.

The 49ers head coach has made a few moves that pissed me off on a personal level this season, seemingly arbitrary late game decisions that cost me in my little imaginary game I play. But I defended and applauded his then impending decision to start Kaepernick in St. Louis. Harbaugh did a very tough thing in this modern society. He went with his gut. He went with what he believed to be truth. Against convention. He put his ass on the line for what he believed was the right decision.
Too many times in football and in life, you see prominent people take the easy way out. Play it safe. Nobody will fault you if you do it like everyone else has done it, and you fail. But if you take the less traveled road and fail, you will be mocked and reviled. Not only by influential people, but by two bit columnists and bloggers, and now the whole universe thanks to Twitter.

But Harbaugh has taken a smart route with this Kaepernick deal. He didn't paint himself in a corner. He can back out any time he wants. I don’t think he should. I don’t think you can win the championship playing it safe. Just having a quarterback that doesn’t make mistakes isn’t good enough. It was when the Ravens won it all with Dilfer, but we are living in a different NFL universe now. I think Harbaugh knows that.

Kaepernick had a bad game. The Seahawks won on the road. The 49ers lead in the division now doesn’t seem quite as safe. And Harbaugh says he is sticking with his guy. I’m still onboard with that. Shine on you crazy diamond.

I dropped Donnie Avery in my dynasty league last week. I’m holding TY Hilton and jumped the mental hurdle that Hilton was the one to have going forward. Avery was coming off two single digit efforts where he only caught 50% of his targets. I am not surprised that he had a huge day. Every player I drop has a big day, I mean come on. It’s mandatory. But I would be surprised if my decision is regrettable in the long-term. For the season Avery has been targeted 100 times and caught 49 balls. Red flags.  Avery's 5 catches on Sunday were a result of 15 targets.   

By contrast Hilton has 39 grabs on only 69 targets, and he’s a rookie. Avery is 28. How much better is he going to get? Regardless of long-term plans, Luck is producing some nice WR numbers, and proved everybody who buried Wayne wrong. I don’t think you can go wrong latching onto Luck’s receiving targets as a strategy going forward. Avery is a free agent so he could find himself in a different uniform, but the Luck to Hilton combo will be cooking for awhile, and we are just seeing the embryonic stage. We are just scratching the surface. That’s a ride I want to be on.

I traded Daniel Myers in that same league a couple of weeks ago, so the remorse meter is pretty much pegged out in the red this week. I’m simply amazing. Thankfully the trading deadline is passed, and I’m not dropping anybody this week. The hell with it. I’ll be damned if I make one more slug a star this year.

What can Brown do for you? Okay, maybe it’s just “fresh legs vs. tired defenses” syndrome, but Bryce Brown is destroying anybody in his path in fantasy leagues. These guys seem to come along every year; I picked him up for chips and giggles in my keeper league week before last. There was so little interest for him in that league he made it all the way down to the bottom of the waiver wire order. I was kind of surprised when I got him. I was stunned when he ripped it up in week 12 while he sat on my bench, and absolutely floored when inserting him in my starting lineup didn’t put the kibosh on his week 13 performance.

In any case, this Bryce Brown coming out party may be bad news for one of the few remaining “stud RB’s.” The bad part about trying to handicap this situation is the seeming probability that a whole new brain trust may be brought in this off-season. So regardless of whether McCoy comes back this season, we will really have nothing definitive about how the two backs will be used next season.   

My gut feeling is that McCoy will not be rushed back given the Eagles situation, and Brown will be a starter quality RB for teams during the fantasy playoffs. Even if McCoy does come back one would think Brown will still be heavily involved, so that cheap lottery ticket could be “that guy” that propels some teams to unlikely championships. Teams previously weak at one RB slot are suddenly looking very scary. Brown so far is producing about double what McCoy was in terms of fantasy points.

I turned down a trade for Brown in dynasty last week. In truth, I probably should have taken the deal. It may have cemented a championship. It certainly would have led to a victory in week 13 when I needed one to wrap up a first round bye. More self loathing. All I had to give up was Ben Tate and an unfavorable draft pick swap 2nd for a 3rd.   But what the hell.  Bye weeks are so overrated anyway…

No, I was bound to wait for Ben Tate. And until last Sunday I was convinced I was holding a winning lottery ticket. Gary Kubiak was running the tread off Arian Foster’s tires.

I wonder if someone put a bug in Gary Kubiak’s ear about the “curse of 370?” (RBs that have in excess of 370 carries in the regular season or 390 including playoffs have an average of 35% reduction in stats the following season - Football Outsiders) Arian Foster was on almost a 400 carry pace as of a couple of weeks ago, but his workload has been reduced significantly over the last two games with 20 and 14 carries. Foster is now on a much better pace, and the team may be in a position to further lighten his load during the final weeks, once they have achieved all they can as far as seeding. Good for Foster. Potential disaster for fantasy teams that rode his heavy workload to the playoffs.

If Foster does end up with 370 plus during the regular season or 390 total, he will be off my draft list next season, and I‘ll be anxiously waiting to cash my Ben Tate ticket. Only one player in the modern era has bucked the 370 carry curse and that was Eric Dickerson. This rarely comes up any more with the proliferation of RBBC’s, but this is as close to the cliff as any back has been for a few years now. Kubiak will likely have the luxury of being able to avoid disaster if he wishes. But that may lead to disaster for fantasy teams depending on Foster. Ain’t life cruel sometimes?

Best of luck to you in your playoff games. And your Toilet Bowls. Hope you break out a can of scrubbing bubbles on the rest of those losers.

Misery Index

10b) Saints: The NFC South has had no repeat champions since its inception in 2002. And the pattern over the last 4 years has been Saints/Falcons/Saints/Falcons. I think you guys are gonna miss your turn. Oh well, maybe the NFL will suspend the Falcons coach next year for ordering HGH be injected into Michael Turner’s ass or something, and we can get this thing back on track.

10a) Lions: Clueless coaches and undisciplined players. Hard to figure where this thing went wrong. Stafford will be able to grow a cool biker mustache by the time this team is any good. Nah, probably not even then.

10) Eagles: This was all very predictable, and were I not so humble I would probably take this opportunity to remind you how I foretold that Mike Vick would lead to the downfall of Andy Reid. Humility. That’s the cross I bear. Well, that and dropping players about to freaking go off.

9) Chargers: I think the only thing to do now is to take bets on whether Norv Turner ever coaches anything more relevant than non-Texas high school football, or A.J. Smith is ever in control of anything more significant than a boiler-room telemarketing scam. I’ll take the under.

8) Titans: Some believe Paris is the pastry capital of the world. That may be true, but Nashville is a great place to go for turnovers. They served up 6 nice fluffy ones for the Texans. Yum.

7) Browns: Beating the Raiders is like taking your cousin to the prom. Yeah, you got a date. But nobody was impressed. And you probably don’t want to brag about how you scored.

6) Panthers: As inspiring as the Chiefs may have found their victory over the Panthers, it was just as dreadful a loss for the Panthers. Cam Newton did some mean gum chomping threw 3 Tds, and the running game was effective. But the defense managed to let the Chiefs score an opening drive TD for the first time in a couple of years. Lots of bad teams haven’t accomplished that. Not even the Raiders. With multiple attempts. On the bright side you are going to end up with more wins than the Florida Panthers so that’s something.

5) Raiders: Losing to the Browns at home? Do you know how hard that is to do? It’s nearly impossible. I saw it happen and I still don’t believe it. I’m just surprised the Al Davis eternal flame didn’t flare up and burn the place down.

4) Jets: Okay, so you won the worst football game in the history of the sport. Shall we throw a ticker-tape parade or will the key to the city be thanks enough?

3) Cardinals: Kevin Kolb sucks. But when he comes back to the lineup he should get a standing ovation anyway.

2) Jaguars: A Henne for my thoughts? This team blows.

1) Chiefs

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