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Pre-Season Soap Operas
Kevin Ratterree
August 13, 2010
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Every year at this time there are soap operas that play out in the NFL. Will rookie X hold out? Will veteran Y hold out? Will veteran Z make the team or find a team that will still sign him in his declined state? Will so and so steal the starters job away from that other so and so. Will Brett Favre be Brett Favre? And these kinds of issues can have a big impact on fantasy leagues. The problem is that we can get too wrapped up in the daily back and forth and lose sight of the big picture. I thought I would try to add some clarity and sanity to a few of these issues we are dealing with this preseason.

Vincent Jackson

What happens when an obtuse owner meets a hard headed (and apparently hard-drinking) wide receiver? Trouble. Mr. Jackson wants paid and Mr. Owner says here’s 3 mil, shut up and suit up. Jackson says no. And just to spice the situation a bit more, Vince has received a three game suspension from the commish. This, after a horrible mental mistake that cost his team a chance at a Superbowl appearance back in January.

Mr. Jackson, for a guy that wants the owner to back up the Brinks truck, you sure picked a hell of a time to screw up. And now you say you will sit out the season until you get what is coming to you?

Obviously this ugly turn of events has the fantasy community held hostage as well. We all know what Gates and a couple of run of the mill receivers can do. The Chargers probably will be a good team without Jackson. The AFC West isn’t exactly a murderers row. More like a victims row. But if Jackson does hold out for a large chunk of games, we could reasonably expect Antonio Gates to get a nice bump in stats, and we could have a sleeper emerge from the pack waiting behind Jackson. From a fantasy perspective Jackson’s value is of course the most in question. Where should you draft him? Should you draft him at all?

To hear the chronology of events up to this point in time, Jackson’s prospects look grim for this season and for getting that big payday he wants. His value in fantasy drafts is dropping daily. He is like poison. To listen to the reports coming from the media, it is almost a forgone conclusion that Jackson will miss most or all of this season. Case closed. But is it?

I don’t mean to be cruel here, but let’s be real. Jackson has shown some real issues with maturity and judgement. He obviously deserves more money, but the problem is that he has virtually no leverage whatsoever to pull this off successfully in his favor. I give him his due for looking out for himself and trying to get that payday he deserves. But sometimes life just isn’t fair. The Chargers hold all the cards.

What is unsettling to Chargers fans, beyond some of the regular bile induced by this owner, is the perception that the team’s “window of opportunity” is closing. From the fan’s point of view, this is no time to be dropping more chess pieces off an already deleted board. It seems to me that the owner would want to save face and get something in trade for Jackson to extricate himself from the situation, but A.J. doesn’t strike me as the sort that gives a damn what the people that fill his pockets thinks.

NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora reports, that if the Chargers want to play hardball with Jackson, they could place him on "roster exempt" status. This would mean that his suspension could not be served. This would force Jackson to sign in week 7, serve his suspension through week 10, and then accrue the final six games." - NFL.com

VJax says he can ride out this financial storm just fine. He is willing to wait for his payday. But how long until that payday comes? I ask you, what are the odds that a guy that has shown such immaturity issues has his finances rock solid, and can live without a paycheck until week 10? Or until the lockout is settled next season? He is taking a huge gamble if he goes the route he says he will go. Does anybody see any potential flaws in this plan? Will VJax?

A.J. does. He has stopped communications with his star receiver. He knows the score. A.J. 1/ V.J. 0.

We have gone through these kinds of holdouts before, and when they occur, it hardly ever works out well for the player. The team marches on. One would imagine that at some point the futility of this adventure will dawn on Jackson, he will swallow his pride, and he will get on the field where he belongs. At least, that’s the way I see it. Most everyone has it in their head that this thing is going the distance, but I just have a hard time believing that. The Chargers won’t want to let him go without some sort of compensation, and Jackson will resist the urge to be so stubborn that he jeopardizes his entire career. I think somebody will blink, despite the overriding sentiment to the contrary.

Darrelle Revis

Ditto. You’re a cornerback, not a quarterback. I’d cash the check.

Brett Favre

Yea! Everybody’s favorite preseason soap opera program Favre v4.0. When Favre shed tears during his “retirement” news conference a few years ago, I actually let myself believe for awhile that he really was quitting. I bought it. And I still do. Every time Favre changes his mind and has a good cry on his tractor I honestly believe that is what he is thinking. He just happens to change his mind a lot. But the path he chooses always leads back between the stripes. I am convinced that Favre takes the same attitude about the pigskin that Charleton Heston had about his gun. They’ll pry if from his cold dead hands.

I do believe that Favre texted teammates and told them he was “done” when pressured by the Vikings to give them a return date. I believe him when he later told a reporter that he would play if he was healthy. And he will. I do believe that Favre wakes up in a different world every day. Maybe every hour. He doesn’t lie, he just changes his mind a lot. It’s a boys prerogative to change his mind. Right?

Brett Favre will play football until his body will no longer allow it, or nobody in the league will let him tote their clipboard. But that doesn’t necessarily make him a player you should count on as a fantasy starter. Favre says he can’t take a step without pain in his surgically repaired ankle, and his mobility certainly won‘t be getting any better going forward.

I would be willing to bet that once Favre’s ankle feels better (assuming it does) he will join the team. Favre might not exactly be champing at the bit to test that ankle for the first time in live action against the team that helped him injure it in January. Remember, the re-match of the NFC Championship game in New Orleans opens the season on a Thursday night. My official pick for the pool is that Favre starts, starting week two.

The Dynamic Duo

Ahh yes, Cincinnati has cornered the market on wide receiver tomfoolery. They call themselves Batman and Robin. The role of Alfred will be played by Marvin Lewis. Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. together at last. I doubt too many of you got any more excited about the Bengals after the arrival of Owens. But it is a story worth noting. Two of football’s biggest divas on the same team.

This could work. Maybe Owens was humbled by his numbers from last year and the relative disinterest around the league in signing him until the Bengals went off the rails on a crazy train.

But, as far as being a difference maker? T.O. just isn’t T.O. any more. And the Bengals ranked near the bottom in passing yards last year, so how much worse will they be with Owens? Granted, I’m not going out looking for trouble by drafting either of these guys, but I think there is a chance it might work out okay for the Bengals. Of course, if the season gets ugly, Ocho and T.O. show could go from a comedy to a drama. These guys can’t get enough attention, and I don’t doubt for a second that they will milk this thing for all it is worth.

In any event it was a great move for the Bengals front office, signing Owens. I’m not sure it was great move to give him an incentive laden contract, being as how they really need him just to be a guy on “the team” rather than “the guy” on the team. But, the Bengals have been a circus for years. And everyone knows you need some clowns around or it just isn’t a real circus. I half expect these two to arrive on the field in week one climbing out of a tiny little Batmobile car. But I could be wrong. They may save their “jump the shark” moment for later. But you just know it‘s coming. Getcha popcorn ready! (insert calliope music)

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