Another football season is nearly upon us, and as always we meet in this place called the Huddle. Our private little world where we can share our passion for the game. Where our obsessive behavior raises no eyebrows, and everybody understands our affliction.
Why one of the major networks hasn't done a sensationalistic expose of this once underground, now mainstream hobby I just can't understand. Why do all the other illnesses and addictions get all the glory? Where is our piece of the pie? Where is the interview between Diane Sawyer and Huddle member Spain, ending when the interviewee hands Diane a hotel key on camera and tells here he bet he can guess what color underwear she has on? Where is the Mike Wallace interview with DMD and WW, where the boys are grilled on the success rate of their predictions, only to have the interview ended when Whitney clubs Wallace in the head with his last championship trophy? That's not great television?
Lots of things have irritated me in the off-season, and I'm here to share and testify my brothers and sisters. We have discovered that most baseball players have been 'roiding their way into the record books for years. And according to the actions of Kenny Rogers we can assume the trend continues. And before the non-shock of that fact wore off we then had confirmation that our clean and pure football players have been doing the same. Though the NFL has put up the best face of all sports on this issue, as in actually banning steroids, the fact remains that players are and always have been one step ahead of the system. I find this fact disturbing.
I find substance abuse in football very disturbing considering I play a game for money based on the statistics of all these juicers. I mean let's face it. Your fantasy league championship could be decided by which teams players hooked up with the best chemist. What the hell do I know about chemists? Now I have to add Chemistry to my fantasy research? That sucks.
Then we hear more rumblings from the NFL and the Players Ass. about paying licensing fees for the use of the players names for the purpose of fantasy football. We drop a bundle on football tickets, NFL gear, Directv Sunday Ticket, fantasy leagues, fantasy services, and on and on and on. We finance all those expensive steroids. And now those greedy bastards want to stick us again because we use their names? Hell, they'll probably want me to pay them for every time I mention a players name in my column. Maybe I should just use (insert greedy bastard) instead of names in all my columns. And we can all have our fantasy squads consisting of 15 guys named (insert greedy bastard) of the (insert greedy bastards) of the (National Greedy Bastard League).
I'm a little lost for words on the team name changing thing in one of my leagues. What is up with that? I've got a guy in my league that changes his team name every two weeks. And it usually is some hateful title directed at me (like Boot up *****'s Azz) or something clever like that. I don't mind that so much, its part of the price you pay of being a league champion. But whatever happened to the good old days where people made a decision on a team name and kept it? Your team has to have an identity to win on the field or in the fantasy league.
It's that kind of reactionary decision making that loses you a championship. Or never allows you to make one.
So stand up and be an American today, pick a name for your fantasy team and stick with it. For your own good, and for the good of the country. Even if that team name is something incredibly immature and lacking in class, by God make a decision and stick with it.
(Let Freedom Ring........)
Okay, now I've got some stuff of my chest that had kind of built up over the summer. On to the business at hand. Last year I wrote a column about 10 players to avoid in your fantasy draft, and I didn't end up looking like a complete idiot. I'm going to ride that pony again. Without fear of retribution or ridicule, here we go..........
10 Players to Avoid (or draft cheaply) in Your Draft
Willis McGahee: He's looking like a 6th overall pick in mocks. He looked good last year. Real good. And if I had more confidence in his teams offense as a whole I probably wouldn't have him on this list. New quarterbacks that can scramble make me nervous. I'm looking at a guy that could have a whole lot of downside picked this high. I'm not saying he isn't worth the chance, but I think there are less risky picks below McGahee and I'll be glad if I'm not put in a position of choosing him. He should be alright, but I want a little more track record of greatness before spending a 6th overall.
Randy Moss: Alright, I know a lot of you are all telling me right now that I am just plain goofy out of my mind. Randy Moss on the Raiders? The home of the long ball? Kerry Collins can throw the long ball. Randy loves to catch the long ball. It's a match made in heaven. Right? That is, until Collins does something not to Randy's liking. And Moss starts riding Collins like a rented mule. How will all that play out? I'm thinking by Thanksgiving Collins is watching the Lions game in his boxers putting away a fifth of Cuervo. I hate to pee in the punchbowl, but this just might not play out the way everyone thinks. If you must draft a Raider receiver try to get Curry in the 14th round and rake in the benefits when Moss pulls up lame after a 1-5 start and suspension for mooning the black hole.
Kerry Collins: (see above)
Tatum Bell: He has the skills necessary to put up huge numbers. And he could be a relative bargain on draft day lurking around the 3rd round. But if you are pinning your dreams of glory on a running back whose fate is in the hands of "the rat", you are living dangerous indeed. I see this pick as one that could put you in a championship game, or could blow up in your face when Shenanigan does what Shenanigan always seems to do. I think most of you know this, but Bell certainly merits inclusion in this list. Shenanigan goes through backs like hookers go through johns. I bet he can't even remember some of their faces..................
Ahman Green: Green is being drafted as an early 2nd rounder in mocks, and he may well be worth a pick that high. But there are probably younger guys I would rather have in the same neighborhood. My sense of Green, and his situation in Green Bay is that his best days are definitely behind him. And as you are painfully aware, sometimes when a player loses is, he loses it in a big way. (see Eddie George). I'm not sure that Green is going to fall that hard this year, but I am always nervous about runners on the brink of the dreaded 3-0. Green has really racked up the carries during his stint in Green Bay. You might squeeze another good year out of Green, but I generally try to grab players on the way up rather than down. Green is yet another player with virtually no upside but tons of downside.
Kurt Warner: Okay, this one is kind of a laub, but don't I deserve one after carving up the upper echilon? It's amazing that Kurt lived to make this column for the second consecutive year. That would tend to suggest I was wrong last year when I advised against drafting Warner. And wrong I was.....for about a month. Then the Giants ran him out of town. And now to the last stop. Lightning in a bottle? Or a meltdown in the desert. Or maybe...just maybe Kurt will gain his magic potion in the dry hot air of the desert. Suddenly, his throbbing thumb magically heals. He stops throwing twice as many interceptions as touchdowns, and he leads the Cardinals to a most improbable Super Bowl victory!!! Bill Bidwell still believes in Santa Claus. Why can't you?
Donte Stallworth: By now Stallworth should have been taken off everybody's annual "sleeper" list. I see that he is an average pick in fantasy drafts of around #120 overall. That is a lot more realistic than his loftier position in years past. But probably still more than he is worth. There will still be a legion of Santa and Easter Bunny believers calling for yet another breakout year for Stallworth. But apparently Stallworth for all his potential just will never be the many of us thought he might be. He's a number 3 receiver, and not a very reliable one at that.
Lamont Jordan: After wasting valuable roster space on many of my teams over the last several seasons, the perennial "deep sleeper" pick is finally going to get a chance to tote the rock full time. Or so it would appear. His average draft position is around 24th overall, after all the top tier backs. I think drafting him here may be a stretch, and if you are loading up on receivers in the first 2 rounds you may find yourself in a position of relying on Jordan as a #1 RB. I would not want to be in your shoes. I have the same kind of feeling about this guy as I did Kevan Barlow last year at this time.
Michael Bennett: Here is another case of "when is this guy going to get his chance?" Bennett every year seems to be poised on the brink of stardom, yet it never seems to happen. Either he has a good year, but his TD totals are low, or he gets injured. Or a cast of thousands are brought in to share the load. Why would this year going to be any different? I'm not so sure it will. Bennett is a guy that teases you with his explosiveness, but just never seems to pan out as a viable fantasy option. If he isn't injured, there are other backs stealing his carries. It's always something. If you load up on receivers and a QB in the first rounds and end up with Bennett and Lamont Jordan as your starting backfield, you may be happy for a few weeks. Until you realize in about week 3 that you have 2 RB's putting up the stats of one. If you are gambling on Bennett to be your #1, you may be in for a long long season of discontent.
Culpepper & McNabb: I lump these guys together because I feel both are equally a risky pick. If you are looking to spend big bucks on a QB plan on getting Manning in the first round. He's money. These guys could come close in fantasy points but they may just as well end up with lower numbers than others drafted much lower. I'm a little more nervous about Culpepper than McNabb. With McNabb, you know T.O. will be back, doing what he does. Terrell loves the spotlight too much to go through with a lengthy holdout. Trust me, he will be there. But Moss is gone from Culpepper's arsenal. Will this make him better or worse? According to his average draft position as of right now, people seem to think he will be just as good or better without Randy. I think I might take a pass on Culpepper this season and shoot for a Bulger or maybe a Green a few rounds later.
Keep in mind these picks are just my "first impression" of the new season, and my opinions may change as we move through the training camps & pre-season. And I am not saying "Do not draft these players", I am just saying these guys will not perform at the level one would expect based on the average position drafted.