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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Commentary from the Edge - Week 15
Kevin Ratterree
December 14, 2010
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I have dragged you down the dark path into the madness that is my fantasy football world this season. I fear I may have worn you out with it. I mean, how many grisly accident scenes must you see before you become numb to them?

But since we’ve come this far together, I feel compelled to play the story out to the end. Surely you can endure a few more weeks of the theater of the absurd.

The week past was the first week of the FFPC Players Championship round. I qualified by ending up a “one seed” in my league, subsequently getting run from the league playoffs in the first round, the distasteful details of which were discussed in this column.

But anyway, it was the first step of my “last chance” at fantasy glory of any substance this season. There are just over 300 players in the Championship round, and the grand prize is substantial. $100,000. Lots of losers entry fees in that kitty.

I really felt my entry fee would end up one of those losers going into this round. I mean the odds of beating out 300 teams in a 3 week sprint are not that great.

Especially when I limped in seeded 287th with a 137 point a week average. Starting in such a hole, where the top seeds are pushing 170 points a week, means I have to overcome a 33 point head start at the very least. And the way my luck has been this season, I found no compelling reason to even dream the dream.

When I assembled this team, and even up until a few weeks ago I envisioned rolling with my 4WR set of Wayne, Wallace, Steve Smith (NYG), and Austin Collie. But Collie is still MIA, and despite Smith playing this week, I didn’t feel like gambling on him for his first week back. So my “strength” going is was actually a weakness. Not good.

Interestingly, the patchwork running back collection I had amassed over the last half of the season in a never-ending attempt to find a suitable RB2, suddenly all looked like great starts last week. Torain, Hightower, Westbrook, Choice, Ivory. Heck, you can start 4 RBs in this format. How ironic that in the first week of the big money round, this scrub crew of RBs I have gathered off the waiver wire would have to carry the load, and maybe for the first time this season, they were all viable.

Gee, maybe I was some kind of a mastermind after all. I allowed a seed of hope to sprout in my fertilizer filled mind. Dammit.

So, Thursday night rolls around and its Manning and Wayne first up for my team. I’ve placed a healthy wager on the Colts -3.5, and I am ready for my amazing fantasy performances and my easy money against the spread. I remember how optimistic I was before the game started. Like an innocent child in a beautiful garden, with a cobra lurking behind the bush.

Oh it was all going according to plan my friends. Until Blair freaking White cut off the pass intended for Reggie Wayne in the end zone. The Colts settled for 3. I lost about 15 critical points. 15 points that could potentially cost me $100,000. I have never hated a player more than I hated Blair White at that moment. Not Rodney Harrison. Not Bill Romanowski.

Just when I thought I couldn’t get any more depressed, the Colts rookie running back (Edge James “brother” as stated by the clueless Matt Millen) decides to do the Titans and Las Vegas a huge favor by running out of bounds and stopping the clock with about 3 minutes left.

Still though, the Titans surely wouldn’t drive the length of the field for a touchdown to kill my wager. But yes, they did. And not only that, Jeff Fisher decided that it was more important to help the odds makers than to actually try to win the game, so rather than making the only decision that gave his team a chance to win (kick the field goal while there was still time on the clock) they would just drive for the touchdown regardless if there was any time left on the clock or not.

All that was a pretty ugly scene. Depression. Ho ho ho? Aw shut the hell up!

Sunday didn’t start any better as I watched Aaron Rodgers play “hero” and dive into a pile of 4 Lions helmets. That was the moment that my teaser bet to make up for the Colts bet died. Nice work Aaron. Did not figure that into my handicapping. Now I’m lower than a paparazzi angling for an up skirt shot of Betty White.
So anyway, back to the Championship round, it turns out having all these choices at running back sucks even worse than having none. I screwed up just about as bad as I possibly could. I started MJD, Hightower, Ivory, and Choice.

It all seemed logical at the time. Why start the creaky Westbrook when I had the young and healthy Ivory in what figured to be a blowout with plenty of junk-running time? No contest. I was no fool. Until Ivory got injured after 7 carries.

Long story short. Started: Ivory/Choice = 9 pts. Bench: Westbrook and Torain = 43 pts.

And if that wasn’t a big enough kick in the clackers, Rashad Jennings was also left on the bench with his 16 points, as was the sleepy Hines Ward, who once again crotch kicked me for benching him with 19 points.

In other words, I managed to find just about the lowest scoring combination possible, and put them up against some of the world’s best players. I dropped 40 points off my total score for the week due to the wrong roster decisions.

You read all kinds of message board fodder this time of year about teams intentionally “tanking.” How the hell do they do it? The only way I can tank is if I am expressly trying not to do so. How hard must it be to tank on purpose? Perplexing.

So take the 40 points I deprived myself of, and add to that to the 15 points I never saw thanks to Blair White, and I experienced physical illness, kind of like I feel when one of those disturbing Ray Lewis commercials comes on, only worse. I mean, I am in a contest for life-changing money, and I have a team capable of winning it. But I am going nowhere. Bamboozled over how to scale the mountain of stupidity that separates me from the winners.

It occurred to me Sunday night, while Tashard Choice was getting stuffed on both his goal-line carries, that I might possibly be the stupidest person alive. How do I continue to draw in breaths and exhale them with my mental incapacity? How do I function in this society? Why has the government not whisked me away and sent me to infiltrate and destroy Al-Qaeda from within? Mysteries.

I came one dumb rookie receiver mistake, and a couple of mouse clicks from turning this tournament on its ear. I’ve got a Ferrari in the driveway and I have no idea how to drive it. I guess I’ll just stare at it for a couple more weeks until it gets repossessed. Just come and take the sonofabitch. I can’t do anything with it.

But alas, there was a reprieve from what has become my personal “Groundhog Day.“ The pain finally ended late Sunday night when Jon Kitna ran for a 4th down conversion late in the game, that led to a Cowboys touchdown, pushing the score over the total, and getting the ’boys within the 4 point spread. And all the Andrew Jackson’s I had lost came back and brought some friends. Good news kids! Christmas is back on. Sorry I threw the tree out in the back yard before, I’ll drag it back in. Yes, you will get presents this year. I was just kidding about that. And as long as Auburn covers against Oregon you can keep them.

God I love football season.

Misery Index

10) Packers: From Super Bowl darlings to also-rans with one ill-advised head first slide. Note to Aaron Rodgers: “Taking one for the team” is to quarterback as “dating the babysitter” is to married man.

9) Redskins: Well, right on cue Donovan McNabb came through in the clutch for a meaningless game. Luckily the snapper picked up the slack and gave the holder a Yao Ming special to save the day. Fail to the Redskins! Fail Victory! Knaves on the Warpath! Plight for old D.C.!

8) Seahawks: Hasselbeck is competing less than 60% of his passes and has a 12/17 TD-INT ratio. Hey, whatever happened to that Charlie Whitehurst guy Carroll gave up a 3rd round draft pick in the ’11 draft for and gave 4 mil a year despite being a 3rd stringer that has never thrown an NFL pass? Too bad. I bet you could have got a QB that at least has a chance of being viable in the NFL with that 3rd round pick. Hey coach Carroll, I’m guessing you might be able to land Carson Palmer with your 3rd round 2012 pick. He’s no better than Hasselbeck, but you guys can hang out and talk about the good old days when you didn’t suck and stuff.

7) Vikings: Gee, it’s a good thing you guys built a dome so you don’t have to worry about snow. I’m just trying to figure out how Favre got Mother Nature to dump all that dandruff just when it looked like his consecutive start streak was in jeopardy. Maybe he threatened to text her or something. In any case, the extra day was not enough, and hallelujah the streak is over so everyone can shut the hell up about it now. After being beaten to a pulp this year, I’m guessing Brett’s next retirement speech will be relatively tear-free so that will be refreshing.

6) Lions: I guess you showed the Packers what life is like with a quarterback that sucks. That’s the ticket! Drag ‘em down to your level and beat them with experience.

5) Titans: Coach Fisher, I realize you are trying your damndest to get run out of town. And who could blame you? But that clock management fiasco at the end of the Colts game was like pulling out in front of a speeding bus full of gamblers. Could you please find some means of suicide that doesn’t entail tragedy for the masses? 80% of the betting public ended up with Jeff Fisher brains splattered all over them last Thursday night. Come on man!

4) Browns: This season is far more tragic than it appears at first glance. Yes, you did win some games, just enough to keep Mangini hanging around. And that probably would have never happened if Denver hadn’t dropped Hillis in your laps. Hillis is the type of punishing runner that never has a long shelf life, so this brief fling with “success” is akin to a night with a call-girl. It won’t last. What’s more, Hillis has inspired every plus-size runner in the league to hurdle would-be tacklers, and it’s only a matter of time before that leads to tragic results. In addition to all that, you woke up the Patriots and sent them on a killing spree across the league that may not end until February. On the bright side, since Lebron took his talents to South Beach, the city is stretched a bit thin hate-wise so your suckitude is still on the back-burner.

3) Broncos: You fired the chef that destroyed the kitchen, but the new guy has empty cupboards and a hell of a mess to clean up. The crew didn’t seem too all fired up for the new guy as best I could tell.

2) Panthers: Sorry Mayberry, Carson Palmer one upped you again. Remember, the worst team doesn’t always win this thing. Sometimes it’s just the team that plays the worst at the right time. You guys have no flair for the dramatic. No style points. Come on, give me something to work with here. Help me help you. Actually get a lead and then blow it. Have a game changing play called back on a penalty. Watch some Bengals games, you’ll catch on.

1) Bengals: I didn’t think it was possible, but Carson Palmer is getting progressively worse as the season goes on. So here is what I have decided. Palmer has had enough. He would rather be out of the league than spend another season with this bunch of losers. Normally I would frown on tanking of this sort, but at this point it’s kind of like a battered wife finally gunning down her husband in his sleep. I don’t condone it. But I understand it. Keep squeezing the trigger Carson, sweet freedom is just a few more rounds away.

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