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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Commentary from the Edge - Week 8
Kevin Ratterree
October 26, 2010
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I’ve spent a lot of time this season commiserating about my epic struggle to find acceptable RBs for all my fantasy teams. But I’ve beaten that horse into the ground. You are probably tiring of it, most of you being in the same sort of agony and all. So let the bitching begin about my new epic struggle, replacing a fleet of broken stud TEs.

I am a proponent of the stud tight end theory. The common wisdom coming into this season was that the tight end position was full of quality and depth. And to some extent, that has proven true. As the game has progressed in the passing realm, tight ends are more involved than ever.

But I still found that no excuse to discount the position. I felt coming into this season that Antonio Gates was head and shoulders above the rest of the field, and made it a point to draft him late in the 3rd round of my WCOFF draft.

A few weeks ago, I was living the stud tight end high life. Running out Gates, Cooley, Jermichael Finley, and had the luxury of using Dallas Clark as a flex play in my dynasty league. Life was so simple and sure back then.

Then a meteor struck planet stud tight end, and in a flash, they seemed on the brink of extinction. Off to the waiver wires I went, rabidly trading in my RB collection for any tight ends with a pulse, Anthony Fasano, David Thomas, Fred Davis, Heath Miller. Slim pickings. Not good. But I gathered them up by the armful, like a man hauling “treasures” from a dumpster.

So, yeah. I benched Gates. It was a late game. I figured he would make a go of it but wasn’t feeling like taking a goose-egg if I was wrong. Bad decision. Cost me a win. No big deal. Looking stupid isn’t just a hobby of mine, it’s a way of life.

I could blame ESPN’s resident alien being John Clayton who insisted all along that Gates would sit, but if I blamed ESPN every time they were wrong I wouldn’t have any space left to write about my own ineptitude. But it makes you wonder. Does Clayton play fantasy football under an alias? Anybody have a league with a team called Wally Cox Xerox or Grown Up Stewie?

The only one of my new tight end toys that produced was David Thomas, and you know before I even tell you that he was on my bench.

And if that wasn’t enough, my WCOFF team also became the proud owner of new waiver wire acquisition Darren Sproles. You know, it is one thing to have a gut feeling about something, quite another to act on that feeling. I felt Sproles had a decent chance to produce last week with all the wide receiver injuries. And as desperate as I have been for running backs, Sproles was a no-brainer pick-up off the wire, where his impatient owner left him.

But did I start Sproles and win my game? No. Of course not. I kept him on the bench and started Chris Ivory. So I have now started Chris Ivory 3 of the last 4 weeks, and the week I benched him was his “breakout week.” Nothing sucks more than having the key to the door but being too drunk to hit the hole.

And what is the result of all of this rosterbation? First place. I’m 6-1 in one redraft and 5-2 in the other. It’s like a freaking magic trick. No matter how much I screw up, I can‘t kill these teams off. They are like Teflon to my Benny Hill management techniques.

Maybe its because I’m not the only one leaving big points on the bench.

I poked around the results from last week I see a few more examples of lineup misery.  Just to make myself feel better.  Remember that kids, other peoples misery is a wonderful anecdote for yours.  Here are some other painful benchings, these are just from my WCOFF league.

Benched Ochochinco (26) started Desean Jackson (0) - This guy has not made a waiver move all season long and this week he benched Ocho for the OUT DJax. I wish I had money to throw away like this. The bad part is that he was playing against a team right on my tail in the standings. So this guy’s lack of involvement compromises the entire process, and could jeopardize my playoff position. He is pretty much just what I would call a douche bag. Thanks for the money douche bag. The problem with taking douche bags money is that you have to suffer douche bags along the way. Very tiring work. I hate that teams need only climb over corpses to keep pace with me in the standings.

Benched Jordan Shipley (28) started Donald Driver (0)- Okay, I know. Most people would have gone the same way with this one. But this happens to be the brutality that occurred to our league’s resident big time poker pro I told you about a few weeks ago. He’s running a little lean during these bye weeks and finding out that the flop is as full of surprises in fantasy football as it is in poker. This week he was bluffed into starting Driver after the Donald said Friday he was “feeling great.” Welcome to fantasy football playa.

Benched Lee Evans (35) started Brandon Lloyd (5) - Lloyd owners have been playing with house money, and there was just about no way you were going to bench him. Not for Lee Freaking Evans. Yeah, you know it is a bizarre fantasy season when the topic of discussion - benching Lloyd for Evans is viable.

Overall, it was a bizarre week past in the NFL. It seemed to be an “all hands on deck” kind of week in the sense that other than these glaring examples, there were very few points left on benches in week 7, but some of the ones that were, were eye popping. Steve Johnson still couldn’t crack the starting lineup in my FFPC league. But he came through again. I’m not really sure why I didn’t stash that guy. He has been putting up numbers every step of the way.

I closed my column last week with the Honeymooners bit where Alice was trying to convince Ralph to pick up Ryan Fitzpatrick off the waiver wire. Well I can report to you that even though Ralph did have Fitz on his waiver list he was not the top option, and there he sits on the waiver wires still. Advice it seems is easier to give than to receive.

Fitzpatrick has notched 20 points or more in each of his first three starts, and he just finished ripping the Ravens a new one. Once is a fluke, twice is a pattern, three times is a trend. And when that trend makes the Ravens look lost, I think it is time to start taking the bearded Ivy Leaguer seriously. Let me be among the first to say it. This guy should probably be starting in every fantasy league, or at the very least rostered just to keep him out of enemy hands. This is not a drill.

There, I pimped him two weeks in a row. That ought to kill him. Or at least help push his bid price out of my range, and that’s always nice.

Just in case you weren’t paying attention while the Saints were getting their ass handed to them, Jimmy Graham is being slowly worked in. Four targets and four catches. Keep one eye on Graham’s development and the other on Shockey’s rapidly deteriorating body.

I’m sorry, but listening to Rodney Harrison pontificate on the issue of dirty hits over the last two weeks has made me want to puke in his general direction. That’s like having Bernie Madoff commenting on the atrocities committed by Enron. Of course Rodney, we know, you are against hits to the head. You are all about hits to the knees. We get it. It is much classier to cave in a guys knee rather than his skull. It is more merciful to leave an opponent unable to walk than unable to feed himself. Step aside Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Tony Dungy, Rodney has the high ground staked out on this one.

Misery Index

10) Saints: I‘m not sure what kind of an alternate universe we have slipped into here, but I know something is bad wrong here. When you get blown off the field by a Mangini coached team, you have serious mojo problems. Let me guess, after you finally found the right voodoo lady last year, she caught a nasty case of the “little tiny baby feets?”

9) Bengals: The good news? Carson Palmer had just his third career 400 yard game, including a third quarter that featured a 13/14 performance with 211 and 2 tds. The bad news? He had to. The worse news? It still wasn’t enough. Not really news at all I guess…

8) Broncos: In a league infested with parity, it was most impressive and refreshing to see a good old fashioned ass whomping. And when that whomping is delivered by a Misery Index darling like the Raiders, against a team with a name like the Broncos, it can only invariably lead to some sort of lame reference to playing like a bunch of horses asses.  Check.

7) Panthers: I wouldn’t get too excited about beating the ’Niners at home. Jetlag is a great 12th man, but you really can’t count on it as a weekly strategy. Unless you want to set up shop in the U.K. Bloody cheap trick that would be. Moore is alright. Gettis alright. They just need a little D. Surrender, surrender, give your season tickets away, away, away!

6) Chargers: When a visiting team with the lead, has balls enough to line up for a 4th &1 against you at mid-field in the closing minutes of a three point game, that tells me something. And when they fail to convert, but get the win anyway, that tells me everything.

5) Vikings: At 4-2, minor personality issues between a quarterback and his head coach (like not speaking, and a healthy mutual hatred) are like a pebble in your shoe. At 2-4 it is more like a boulder landing on the hood of your Ford truck, causing your nose to bleed all over your Wanglers. Yes I meant to say Wanglers. I’m milking this for all it’s worth. Wait a minute, let me rephrase that…What I meant to say was, it certainly appears that this whole experiment in slipping your fingers under the slamming window of opportunity has not worked out well. The only person on the Vikings that is happy right now is Tarvaris Jackson. He has an expensive toy to play with for his impending umpteenth opportunity.

4) Lions: While we had a merciful break in the Lions schedule, I thought I would take a shot on predicting the Detroit QB timeline for the rest of the season.
Week 8 - Stafford close, but still not quite ready, Stanton starts, gets nicked.
Week 9 - Stafford finally ready, sacked and out after the first quarter, gimpy Stanton comes in and barely finishes game.
Week 10 - Stafford announced out for the season, Stanton questionable and goes down in the 4th quarter. Week 11 Lions start Jeff George after signing him in desperation. George leads the team to their 2nd victory. Detroit is jumping on the Jeff George bandwagon.
Week 12 Jeff George falls down and breaks a hip in the first quarter. Calvin Johnson offers to throw bubble screens to himself, and the coach reluctantly agrees. (it starts getting really ugly at this point and I really don’t want to talk about it anymore, there may be children reading)

3) 49ers: Oh, I guess you could blame Sunday’s loss on the East Coast trip, the desperation of an 0-5 team, or any number of factors. But in the court of public opinion, it looks like the quarterback and the head coach are lined up at the guillotine. Alex Smith is busted up anyway, so those misguided ’Niners fans chanting to see a David Carr crash will probably get a good look at the grisly wreckage.

2) Cowboys: To be perfectly honest, I already had the Cowboys penciled in for number 3 before the game last night. When they took a 20-7 lead in the first half I had a twinge, but I didn’t bother scrambling to concoct a plan B. These were the Cowboys after all. When Romo went down with a broken clavicle I considered moving them to number one. But this is the Misery Index and we do have a certain decorum. As soon as Buffalo catches someone off guard it’s a done deal. Rock bottom baby. Last night I got down on my knees and thanked a whole list of possibly responsible entities for the fact that I have one team, one lone team without Miles Austin at anchor. At least I have the one team…(sobbing)

1) Bills: It sure looked like this was going to come crashing down on Sunday with Fitzpatrick winging it. But losing teams do what losing teams do, and winning teams do what winning teams do. The good news is that Sundays performance has sparked some of the “best 0-6 team ever” kind of talk. So you Bills fans can hang your sock caps on that. And you were probably the only ones that noticed Steve Johnson, the top 20 fantasy receiver nobody has ever heard of. Is is Johnson or Jackson? Aw, who the hell cares. Anyway, with Fitzpatrick flinging it at least your team is watchable now. Okay, I’ll buy in. This is the most watchable 0-6 team in league history. I mean, I still wouldn’t watch them but if you have to watch them it is nice that they are watchable losers rather than unwatchable losers. They’d kick the Kitna Cowboys ass all over the field I tell you what…

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