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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Commentary From the Edge - Week 4
Kevin Ratterree
September 27, 2005

The Ego-Bowl in Philly with Moss and Owens was highly anticipated but in the end fairly anti-climactic.  During the weeklong build-up to the game we heard sound bites both old and new from both players describing themselves as the number one receiver God in all of football.  And the question of which one of these egomaniacal giants was number one was waged in talk radio and television commentary.  I look at it like this.  They are both great, and both bring different skills to the table.  But the bottom line for me is that Owens can catch the ball and score from any point on the field, while Moss is much more limited to scoring on the long ball.  According to Moss's comments, catching that deep ball makes him the best.  But it is about the only thing he can do, and when his speed fades he is done as a receiver unless he at some point decides to dedicate himself to his craft the way Terrell Owens has.  Owens is a far bigger head case, the like of which Freud himself would throw up his hands and walk away from.  But brain bee's aside, Owens is the man.

Right now is a wonderful time to be a Brian Westbrook owner.  Especially if you drafted him in a keeper league in about the 10th round before last season. (chuckle) Westbrook is too small.  He can't be a full time back.  He gets pulled at the goal line .  He will get injured.  Blah blah blah.  Yet, as of week 3 Westbrook is the number one fantasy player in the league and he was taken late 2nd round in most fantasy drafts this year.  So there are plenty of teams out there that just laid a giant ass whoopin' on somebody with Tomlinson and Westbrook.  And if that same guy picked up Steve Smith?  Ladies and gentlemen, your new league champions.

The Bengals defense is the surprise of the year.  Not to me of course, since I drafted them in most of my leagues.  In the last or next to last round.  (and was ridiculed for by fellow drafters sitting smugly on their 6th round Ravens pick).  Yes, these are good times.  But even so there is no way the big cats can keep up the pace they are setting.  They have intercepted 12 passes thus far, and a huge portion of those were seemingly thrown right at the Bengal defender.  Some luck.  Some talent.  But as long as the offense keeps chugging, and there is no reason to believe that it won't, the Bengals defense is a worthy fantasy start.  And that my friends is the yet another sign of the apocalypse.

I predict that "your man" will take a beating early this year if you ride the Cincinnati Express.  Minus 9 1/2 at home against the Texans this week.  Too low.  Grab it before it stretches to 10 and smile.  The spread should be 13.  I sense a lag in "public perception" about the Bengals and until the numbers guys catch up there are some good plays to be had.  They have covered 3 in a row.  Always bet with the trend.

Chad Johnson may not be the number one receiver in the league just yet, but he is the most consistent of the upper echelon.  Using point per reception scoring Johnson has tallied 19, 27, and 22 points in the first 3 weeks.  When you are playing head to head leagues you just can't beat that kind of consistency.  Also scoring well on the dependability scale is Darrell Jackson (as always) with 18, 21,20.  And neither of these guys has had that occasional huge game.  You know, the kind Steve Smith has had two of the first three weeks.   

They say three times is a trend, and the Colts just completed the trifecta.  Three close, low scoring games.  Three weeks of disappointment for those unfortunates who apparently paid too steep a price for all their Colts. (except Edge)  Uh oh.  The surefire draft strategy that, and let's be honest now -ALL of us were buying into of filling your team with Colts looks to be going down in flames.  Here's hoping you made up the difference by picking up good value elsewhere in your draft. 

The people hurt most in the Colts offensive drought are those who took the seemingly logical Peyton Manning first round pick in this years fantasy draft.  That's what I hate about the first round pick.  You've got nowhere to go but down.  And Manning is flushing down fantasy teams like a crack-house flushes the rock when the cops show up.

Monday Night Football's new version of halftime highlights features the best plays of Sunday put to the music of Tim McGraw.  I hate it I loathe it. I want no more of it.  It makes, me want, to punch somebody in the face.  I don't know what it is that makes them cram this crap down my throat, but I hate it, I loathe it, I want no more of it.

Dear Rodney Harrison:  Yeah, that's what it feels like when you get a knee jacked up.  All the players whose knees you have racked, watching the Sportscenter highlights of your sorry hide being dragged off the field, probably grinning quietly.  Or possibly pumping a fist, "Yeah, take that.......Jack!!"  Of course what happened to Harrison was a clean hit, it wasn't like the guy was gunning for the knee like you have done so many times in your career.  Gee, I really hated to see that happen.  Best wishes Rod.  Here's hoping you don't have to endure more than a year or so of debilitating unbeararable pain. That would be a shame.

And I know all of you Harrison apologists are getting ready to torch me with hate mail.  "How can you take joy in someone else's pain"?  Or, "Rodney isn't a dirty player any more..."  yada yada yada.  While you are wasting keyboard strokes defending a sociopath, why not throw a few dollars to Saddam Hussein's defense council.  Or petition the history book publishers to lighten up on Hitler and Mussolini.  You won't spoil my satisfaction over Harrison's injury.  The only thing that would make me happier would be O.J. crashing his rig into a telephone pole and ending up a quad.

MISERY INDEX   

10) Titans:  The good news is that they are not as bad as they were supposed to be.  The bad news is that they aren't as good as they hoped they'd be.  They came about one dumb mistake away from stunning the Rams in the dome.  There is hope.  But wins may be as scarce as controlled substances when left in the vicinity of Travis Henry..

9) Patriots:  How can a team with a winning record crack the Index?  They just had a huge win on the road.  But injuries at some point have to factor in, and the loss of the leagues number one goon will prove costly.  How much more attrition can this team endure before it shows up in the loss column?  The Steelers actually may have won that game on Sunday if not for an extra minute of game time being added by the "professional" game timekeepers.  And they have a suddenly re-focused Charger team coming in this week hungry and poised for an upset.  I have been wrong about the Patriots before.  They seemingly overcome every single obstacle.  But this team has played more football than any team on the planet over the last 4 years.  They seem maybe a little weary.  Brady is almost single-handedly holding this team together right now.  But I get the feeling that they may be running out of magic.  This has the feel of a crumbling dynasty.  They all do eventually.

8) Cardinals:  There is little doubt at this point that the Cardinals won't be winning the division as so many gullible souls led themselves to believe.  We were sold a bill of goods about this team.  They're a sleeper alright.  They are sleeping their way to 0-16.  They have been a fraud right out of the gate.  The defense which was supposed to be a strength allowed 37 points and 4 rushing touchdowns in Seattle.  The play at quarterback has been pedestrian at best but if Warner misses any games Boldin and Fitzgerald owners will be ready to hang themselves in 2 weeks.  They can't run the ball, and being behind so much they won't have the luxury of running even if they could.  Denny Green is fondly remembering his days of fishing and talking into a microphone at ESPN. And wondering why he left it all behind.

7) Chiefs:  The loss of Willie Roaf from the Chiefs offensive line was all the Broncos needed to blow up the Chiefs game plan.  This loss to Denver exposed the Chiefs fatal flaw, which is a lack of depth at almost every position.

6) Browns:  Hey, this is a team most thought would be lucky to squeeze out 4 wins.  At least they aren't getting blown out.  And their accomplishment this week of keeping the Colts fantasy owners on the skids shows that this team, unlike during the Butch Davis era, has a future beyond the Misery Index.  Right now Trent Dilfer is better than the quarterback for the Jets, Bills, Dolphins, Bears, Redskins and a few others could be mentioned.  I'd have to think Browns fans have to be somewhat satisfied with the results so far.  Anything over 4 wins is a success for this team so Crennell has a great chance to do some pressure free building.  I like what I see so far.  But that doesn't get you a pass out of the Index.   

5) Panthers:  Not a great start for a team touted as a contender for the title.  Lost to the two teams they should have beat but took one from the Patriots.  Against Miami the Panthers netted 2.3 yards per carry and lost the turnover battle 3-1.  And that's about all it takes to lose a road game.  John Fox is now considering a game plan featuring 60 passes to Steve Smith, since Keary Colbert has adopted the Koren Robinson theory of "I never met a pass I wanted to catch."  The good news is that the Packers come to town this week and I project Steve Smith to catch 28 passes for 374 yards.   

4) Bills:  J.P. Losman looks like a kid a the airport that just lost his family in the crowd.  And with the loss of Takeo Spikes the defense now has more than just a quarterback that can't keep the defense off the field to overcome.  Think long and hard about dumping your Bills players off on anybody in your league who may not have actually seen Losman behind center for themselves yet.  This guy has been Ryan Leaf bad.  Bills fans now looking back fondly on the relative aerial assault that was the Drew Bledsoe era.  This team looked so promising just 3 short weeks ago.  But now you get the feeling this season is going to be like one long root canal after another.  Without the happy gas.

3) Jets:  An overtime home loss to Jacksonville puts the Jets in a 1-2 hole.  To make matters worse Pennington's shoulder has been deemed a disaster area.  The team will be forced to start 3rd stringer Brooks Bollinger who has all of 9 career NFL attempts.  Upcoming schedule? Baltimore, Tampa, Buffalo, Atlanta.  Pennington (the golden boy) may go down as one of the biggest busts in sports history, and the decision to hand him an open checkbook before last season will go down as the worst front office decision not made by Daniel Snyder.  There is some speculation that the Jets will make a play for Billy Volek, but I can't imagine the Titans would even consider doing that. Patrick Ramsey?  Oh boy.   This could be brutal.  Let's face it, it will be brutal. 

2) Raiders:  You almost feel sorry for the Raiders and their fans at this point.  I mean when Randy Moss was brought in, you had all kinds of Raider fanatics with immediate delusions of grandeur.  I heard some cranks on local radio (nowhere near Oakland) talking playoffs, MVP's and Super Bowls.  I had to laugh.  Looking at the schedule I figured them 1-5 to start the season, and by then the defense will be worn out and I think we all know where it goes at that point.  But to tell you the truth, the team has looked much better than I thought they would.  The trouble is that they just aren't good enough to hang with the crowd they are playing, and by the time the schedule levels out, they may have lost their will to live.  And Randy will be looking hard for that 'blue moon.'  

1) Packers:  After the Packers first loss I wrote in this column that Favre looked like a guy that could bail at any moment.  This statement inspired an e-mail from a reader that stated ".....With all due respect Brett Favre would be the last guy I would expect to bail."  And that may be true.  None of us that follow football like we do would actually think Favre would quit on his team at any time.  But my statement was more than physical.  Favre is there in body, but his mind is already elsewhere.  When the Packers let the offensive line erode during the off-season, and then backed up that move by drafting a quarterback, the writing was on the wall for Favre.  It's probably safe to say Favre won't quit on his team or his fans this season, but the management already has. The organization's goal is not concerned with Favre's goal of "going for one more" and going out in a blaze of glory.  That opportunity was never going to exist for Favre this season.  And he is unfortunately going to leave the game the way so many of our heroes do.