While perusing the Huddle message boards Sunday night I noticed a lot of discontent. Lots of people pissed off about lots of things. "My fantasy teams are tanking. I'm never playing fantasy football again. My home team sucks. The league sucks. The officials suck. The head coach sucks. I suck. Everything sucks." This happens every season about this point as people start to realize that the football season they were so excited about just a month ago is not going to turn out to be the year of destiny they hoped it would be.
I understand the feelings you are going through. Self loathing. Depression. Hatred for mankind in general. We've all been there. I nearly quit playing fantasy football a few years ago. I wasn't winning any championships, and getting to the playoffs every year just wasn't enough. I was the Atlanta Braves of fantasy football. And I felt a little burned out. You know, to be a successful fantasy player takes a lot of preparation and time, and maybe most importantly luck. Some people cannot devote hours of their week to studying the waiver wire. Some people actually want to spend time with their families. Make money. Some people actually have lives. (this is what I have been told anyway) Winning in fantasy football is not for everybody. But let's put the game in perspective. In a 12 team league there is only on champion. That means 11 guys will be losers. Being a loser in a group of quality fantasy players is no disgrace. Quitting in the middle of the season however, is. So don't be that guy.
I have a couple of fantasy teams struggling to contend. But you learn a few things after playing fantasy sports for a couple of decades. The season is long. The landscape will change a lot between now and week 13. Very few competitive leagues have a winner that leads wire to wire. (and no, your Yahoo public league does not count) Put your eye on that last playoff position and try to come up with a plan to scratch your way in. Teams will fade down the stretch. Teams will come out of nowhere. At this time last year you could have plucked Drew Bennett, Billy Volek, and Mushin Muhammad either off waivers of in a cheap trade. I'm sure there were teams last season on the brink of extinction before they rode the Volek/ Bennett / Muhammad express right into their fantasy playoffs. I've seen sub .500 teams in the regular season pull off league championships by having a great run through the playoffs. (Usually at my expense I might add) So go ahead and have your little pity party, then get back in the saddle. There are 9 weeks left in regular fantasy season before the playoffs. Try to position your team to get there, even if it seems an impossible goal. With the right moves and a little luck you could rise from the ashes. You just never know. America seems to love losers. But we could care less about quitters.
Life is all about the struggle. Fantasy football is all about the struggle. Fight the good fight. It's ALL just a game. Now get back in the game.
Okay, enough Dr. Phil for one day. I have a bitch of my own, and that is the Washington Redskins. Every year there seems to be one of these teams perpetrating a fraud on the league. The 'Skins are one of the few remaining undefeated teams in the NFL. How has this happened? Seeing the Redskins at 3-0 in the standings is a shock to my senses. It's like seeing a goat with a leg growing out of it's head, nowhere near the vicinity a nuclear facility. It just doesn't register.
If you have watched the 'Skins games this season it seems there is divine intervention, or some kind of industrial strength voodoo at work here. Or maybe Joe Gibbs sold his soul to the devil. I see him take a knee and pray after every win, so he may be apologizing to God for making his unholy alliance with the dark side. Every team that faces the Redskins seems to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. It's just not fair. It's not fair to the Washington fans, who have already suffered the indignation of their new baseball team masquerading as a contender this year., only to go down like a plus size intern in the beltway. Now the D.C. crowd is set up for another crash. Because, and let me be perfectly clear, the Redskins suck. My only joy in this situation is knowing that owner Daniel Snyder is absolutely giddy right now, and building up the significance of this bizarre aberration in his delusion filled head. And the high expectations he has right now will only enhance the pain he will feel at the other side of the 8 game losing streak they are in line for. To every cloud there is a silver lining.
Accountability report: Okay, I led you down the primrose path last week when I pointed out the terrible mistake the Vegas odds-makers had made by making the Bengals only 9 1/2 point favorites against the Texans. They were 3-0 against the spread and scoring at will to that point, and the Texans had played probably the two worst games in their existence. I don't know how I could have been so incredibly stupid as to not see this coming. So I have adopted a new rule. If it makes too much sense, I stay on the fence. If it sounds crazy as hell, I'll buy what you sell. So just for kicks I am adding a new feature to the column to take glory in the wacky and wonderful world of the NFL. I'll pick one game a week that looks like a "can't miss" to me, then turn it. I'm adopting the George Costanza theory of doing the opposite. I preach about going with the trend, and when the trend is insanity, go with it.
The Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week: Unfortunately I don't see anything yet for next week that looks like an absolute lock (as if such a thing existed in the NFL). But after the 49ers muy vomito performance in Mexico, their match-up this week against the born again Colts offense looks to be a slaughter in the making. The 49ers are banged up. They could not score an offensive touchdown against the pathetic Cardinals defense. They have been done hard by lesser teams than the Colts this season. There is no way to even comprehend that the 49ers could come out of this game with anything other than a severe beating at the hands of Manning and company. Therefore, my crazy as hell pick of the week is the 49ers +14. I spit in the general direction of the football gods.
10) Seahawks: There are teams with worse records in the league. There are teams with lesser talent in the league. But there are so few teams with a coach so capable of dropping his pants and dumping a load on his team. Maybe Mike Martz, maybe Dawber up in Minnesota. Any other coach in the league would have chosen to try to actually get the ball as close as possible to the goalposts before trying the field goal to win the game. But not the Walrus. Mind bogglingly stupid to even the most simple minded of fans. But a mystery to a coach that makes more money per game than I will make in a lifetime of bitching about.
9) 49ers: The Mexican Super Bowl. Wasn't that nice. Sunday Night football at an elevation of 7000 feet. A smashing success. Supposedly there are a huge amount of 'Niner fans in Mexico, and if that is true it was nice of them not to go "soccer crowd" on us, though being charged admission for what they saw certainly would have warranted it. But hey, we're talking about a country where the big event is watching some dude in fruity looking gear take stabs at a bull. Yes, Mexico is an easily entertained country. Maybe we could strike a deal to give them a real game next year with the Eagles and the Colts if less than 1% of their population enters the country illegally between now and then. See, now this is the kind of thinking we need on Capitol Hill. Incentives! It's all about incentives.
8) Chiefs: Getting blasted at Denver on a Monday night. No shame. Getting blasted at home after building a 24-6 lead in the 3rd quarter? Now that's the pathetic Chiefs defense we have become accustomed to. Now they have a bye week to reflect on how they are pissing away their season, and maybe try some new concepts like actually trying to put a defender on a receiver now and then. It has been known to work. Vermeil now praying daily that Willie Roaf and the rest of the offensive line will stay healthy for the whole season, because if they don't, Dick's last hurrah may end with those "unhappy" tears.
7) Patriots: Even George Foreman went down after he got punched enough times. Ali got jacked up by Leon Spinks. The Patriots aren't "Mike Tyson in his prime" any more. Nobody fearing, everybody smells blood in the water. With a brutal upcoming schedule the Pats look to take some more body blows in the coming weeks, and Tom Brady will have the chance to prove that he is the greatest quarterback ever. If Brady guides this depleted team through this season, and gets them to the Superbowl again there will be little doubt that he is the greatest of all time. Because at this point the load is all on him. I'm not holding my breath. But you'd have to be a moron to count them out. Late in his career Ali went to the rope a dope, and it worked......until Leon.
6) Lions: We have all seen highlights of how the Lions got jobbed in Tampa Bay. I'm not sure what good the replay system is when they can blow one like they did in this game. I feel bad that the Lions and the beleaguered Harrington got ripped off by the cataract stricken replay officials, but lets face it, the Lions are going nowhere anyway so losing that game doesn't matter much to them in the big scheme of things. They've won 19 games since the turn of the century, they aren't overdue this season yet. But I was starting Marcus Pollard on Sunday, and yes that 10 points would have made a difference in my standings. That's the real tragedy in all this. I just wonder if that call would have been reversed if it were Brett Favre throwing the pass. Indisputable visual evidence to overturn huh? I guess I don't know exactly what that term means after all.
5) Vikings: Those who used a late 2nd or early 3rd round pick on Culpepper in this years fantasy drafts will probably be off the "early quarterback pick" theory next season. Culpepper: 71 points. McNabb (late 3rd round) 109 pts. Bulger (early 4th) 95 pts. C. Palmer (7th) 87 pts. Bledsoe (waiver wire) 87 pts. Vikings apologists will be quick to point out that the team's 3 losses were to teams with a combined record of 11-1. But I'm guessing if you are a playoff contender you might have to beat a team with a winning record at some point. Or at least show up for the game. Culpepper is getting sacked more often than the drunk fat chick that always seems to be the last one left at the party.
4) Texans: Gave the Bengals all they could handle, and in the process probably earned bookies across the land a nice steak dinner. Would it have killed them to wait one more week to actually show up for a game?
3) Bills: Drew Bledsoe has as many passing touchdowns right now as Losman will have all season. I could be wrong, but I get the feeling maybe the Bills let Bledsoe go a year too early. All that rebuilding shot to hell. Unfortunates still holding onto Bills players on their fantasy teams final shred of hope is for a switch at quarterback to Kelly Holcomb. How sad is that?
2) Jets: Well, this is going to get old quick. I hate just having the same teams in the misery index all the time, but the shocker of the season is that the AFC East is contributing heavily to the index. Has a division in football ever taken such a nosedive in such a short amount of time? Before the season started it was conceivable that 3 teams from this division would make the playoffs. Now we are wondering in any of them will deserve a berth. The big winner in the AFC East decline is the Dolphins who figured to be a division doormat, now sitting in first place coming off a bye week. Say what? Before you snag Vinny off the waiver wire, and I know you will, never mind, I won't try to talk you out of it.
1) Packers: It was fun to see Favre doing what he does on Monday night, enjoying himself for awhile as John Fox (who apparently is not familiar with Favre's work) took his team into turtle shell mode way too early. But the football gods seem very angry with the Packers and for only the 3rd time in their history they start the season 0-4. At the bottom of the worst division in football. Vince Lombardi is rolling over in his grave.