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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Commentary From the Edge - Week 15
Kevin Ratterree
December 12, 2006

America's team?  How about the Saints.

Even the mighty Romo was no match for the steamroller that mashed the Cowboys bubble on Sunday night.  Talk about a massacre.  The Saints, the team nobody wanted to take seriously blew the doors off the team many, including myself had already handed the NFC title.  Are we ready to take the Saints seriously now?  Folks, this is not an illusion.
The Saints blew the Cowboys right off their home field, and Payton dusted off his mentor with frightening ease.  I really haven't been a big Payton supporter, but you can't deny what is happening.  Payton carved up Parcells like an electric knife through a Christmas turkey.  Every trick in the book.  They all worked.

The Saints defense may be seen as a possible problem in the playoffs, but when you can trot out some guy named Karney in the biggest game of the year and turn him into your go-to receiver, and it works to the tune of 3 touchdowns?  Give me a break.  Joe Horn out?  Big deal.  This team has a bunch of guys that nobody knows (yet), and it seems all of them can plug into the lineup and get it done.  They have scored over 30 points in 5 of the last 6 games.  And all that largely without rookie sensation Marques Colston.

It's looking more and more like the 2006 version of  "NFL team out of nowhere ascends to the championship".  It's all the rage.
You have to be excited about the chances of a Saints / Chargers Superbowl.  Brees against Rivers for the title belt.  Old man Marty against the kid.
The Saints looked like a champion on Sunday night.  We may just get a round 2 on this game in January.  Maybe Parcells will be better prepared for what is coming.  But will it matter?
  
The Bengals and Jaguars appear to be peaking at just the right time, and if they weren't in the same conference with the Chargers there might be reason to celebrate.

Really, I think the Bengals are the only team besides maybe the Ravens that have even a prayer against San Diego.  The Bengals could go toe to toe with them.  If the Bengals can somehow get there.

Reggie Bush paid big dividends for his fantasy owners in the first round of many playoff formats.  As did Drew Brees.  Timing is everything, and these guys are red hot at the perfect time for their fantasy owners. 

Another red hot player is Vince Young.  Wow!  Yeah, I know it was against the Texans, but his heroics just seem to be getting bigger and better every week.  Unfortunately this week he is up against Jacksonville.  So if you are thinking about riding Young's hot streak in the next round of the playoffs, you might want to temper your enthusiasm.  He threw 3 interceptions at Jacksonville earlier, and the Titans were blown out 37-7.  Young was held to 14 yards rushing, quite a few less than he had in the closing 3 seconds of the Texans game.

Meanwhile, Steve Smith owners have to be gripping hard right now.  Count me among the gripping.  With Weinke flinging the pigskin, he appears to favor Drew Carter.  That's typical.  I assume Weinke and Carter have worked together in practice way more than Weinke and Smith, so they have a built in chemistry that shows up in the box score.  Not great timing for Smith owners.  I am starting Smith in one league, and will be facing him in another, so my results will be mixed regardless of what happens.  I hate it when that happens.

Mr. Romo crashed and burned when it mattered most to fantasy ballers.  Immediately after he had convinced every owner that stashed him to put him in the starting lineup.  Would we have it any other way?  

And then there is Tomlinson. (aka: Supreme Fantasy God)  Round one of the playoffs in many leagues turned into a killing field at the hands of Tomlinson yet again.  The guy is in the process of re-writing the record books.  And his performance this season is the greatest in fantasy football history.  We may never witness this kind of debauchery again.  LT2.  We salute you.

I have the misfortune of playing against Tomlinson this week.  (yes against the same guys that has Steve Smith) The Chargers will be playing a deflated Chiefs team.  I am not amused.  If there is anything worse than watching your favorite NFL team get their ass kicked, it is watching them get it kicked by the guy you are playing against in the fantasy playoffs.  This is not setting up well at all.  I better stock up on Peptol Bismol, I have a feeling Sunday could be a nauseating day.

Thank God I drafted Gore and Westbrook.  Hopefully I won't be going down without a fight.

Playing against Tomlinson in the playoffs this year is like a "get out of jail free" card.  If you lose to the team with L.T., hey, what can you say?  You never had a prayer.  But if you slay the mighty dragon?  It makes that championship game all the better having left the Supreme Fantasy God in your wake.
Unless of course you get dusted by a 6-7 team in your championship game.  That would leave a mark.
     
The happiest people in the world right now are the ones that had the third overall pick in this years drafts, and watched Johnson and Alexander go one and two.  That probably didn't happen a lot.  But it did happen in some leagues.  Sometimes it's better to be lucky.....

On Thursday night football Bryant Grumble used the word "cute".  He said he had a "cute" story to tell.  Grumble, you sad, clueless reject from the man factory.  The word "cute" should never be heard during a football broadcast.  Okay, maybe.....maybe, if you were describing a cheerleader.  But probably not even then.  I still think it would give me the willies just to hear that word come out of your mouth, even in an unfamiliar testosterone motivated moment like that.  I mean, that's the kind of stuff your grandma might say if someone stuck a microphone in her face.  Grandma's like to tell "cute" stories. It is proper and expected to hear "cute" stories from our grandma.  But a football broadcaster?  That is just plain creepy.  All too familiar territory for the Grumble.

And as an added bonus, just for the record, the story he regaled us with was not "cute".  As a matter of fact it was not particularly interesting at all.  Much like Grumble himself.

If you think you have a cute story, don't tell us you have a cute story.  Just tell the damn story.  We'll decide if it is cute or not.  And if it is maybe we will tell it to our grandmothers.

Okay Grumble, I'm always here not just to hurt but to help.  So here is a list off the top of my head of other adjectives you should not be using:  darling, precious, adorable, chic, scrumptious, delightful, lovely, yummy, to die for, .....I'm sure there are a lot of others, but that list should hold you for awhile.  And while I am at it, the phrase "heavens to Betsy" is also a no no.  Or as you might say, a boo boo.

While I am at it, there are a lot of things that should not be discussed during a football broadcast.  This list includes:  doilies, flower arranging, your "time of the month", scrap-booking, Barry Manilow cd collections, show-tunes, cat shows, figurine or plate collecting, the gay rodeo, and the movie 'Beaches'.

And Mr. Grumble, there are also people we don't want to hear about during a football broadcast.  Liza Minelli, Barbara Streisand, Charles Nelson Reilly, Truman Capote, Mr. Blackwell, Oprah, Dr. Phil, Katie, and Willard Scott.  And especially Richard Simmons.  Once again, this list is just for reference.  There are many more.  Just a place to start.  Basically just try not to talk about anything you like, and that should just about cover it.
I'm just trying to help.

Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week

The Titans certainly made it interesting last week, but Vince Young and the Titans came through again, as did the Crazy as Hell Pick.  An overtime victory.  You really get your moneys worth out of those types of plays.  The record is 6-10.  63% and well in the money if you play against my official pick weekly.

I was also unfortunately correct in my feeling about the demise of the Chiefs amazing December home winning streak.  I had to warn you.  It just felt bad, and it ended up bad.  I hardly ever bet against a streak as strong as that one, so that was a good call.  It softened the blow and personal pain it brought this long suffering Chiefs fan.
The plays on the board last week were tough, and I don't see any improvement this week.  I see a whole lotta numbers that look a whole lotta hard to beat.

The 49ers at the Seahawks are 10 point underdog.  But after the 'Hawks putrid performance against he lowly Cardinals, do you really have stones enough to lay ten 4 days later against a better team?  I mean that is the way I would lean, but I wouldn't lean too strong.  The Seahawks are 7-3 in the last 10 games against the 'Niners, and over has been 4-1 in the last five.  But the Seahawks have been a little soft to be laying 10 points on.  I mean, they lost to the Cardinals.  And now they are 10 better than the 49ers?  That's a tough one.

The Cowboys will have a short week to lick their wounds, as they play Saturday in Atlanta.  The Cowboys are 3 1/2 point road favorites.  I have had a pretty good bead on the Falcons over the last month cashing in on their demise and resurrection.  This week I am a little stumped.  The logical side of my brain says that Romo will bounce back and carve up this less than stellar secondary.  But the experienced bettor in me says laying that 3 1/2 points on a road favorite?  Not such a good idea.  I got burned on this same spread a couple of weeks ago with the Cowboys at the Giants.  After that recent butt kicking I'm thinking I would shell out the bucks to buy that extra half point down to 3 if I felt the need to bet big on this game.  They will probably bounce back fine, but the Falcons are against the wall, at home, on NFL Network.  I'd probably leave it alone.  Mora is going to pull out all the stops just like Payton did.  Dangerous.  I'm thinking the over may be the play on this game.

What about last weeks anti-pick of the week, the Titans?  The play the Jaguars at home and find themselves 3 1/2 point underdogs.  There is that nasty 3 1/2 point spread again.  Before you jump on the Jags in this game, keep in mind that the Titans are 5-2 straight up and against the spread in home games vs. Jacksonville.  Are you really going to bet against Vince Young at this point in time?   No, I'm not going to suggest that this is the week the Titans stop covering the spread.  What am I, crazy?  This reminds me of the Panthers a few years ago and the Ravens a year or so earlier.  Those teams kept getting points every week down the stretch, and kept winning every week.  The Titans are on a similar great run against the spread and betting against them right now is just suicide, regardless of the opponent.  Until proven otherwise.
The Monday night game is looking pretty good.  The Bengals travel to Indy to take on the Colts, who have been taking on water.  The Colts are 3 1/2 point favorites.  Look, the Colts don't blow most teams away even when they do win.  And I am far from convinced that the Colts can win this game at all, let alone by those brutal 3 1/2 points.  No no Mr. Bookmaker.  I will decline your invitation to lay 3 1/2 points to one of the hottest teams in the league over the last month.  One that desperately needs to win this game.  And can.  Probably will.  I like the Bengals with the 3 1/2, and I'm pretty sure I like them outright. They still have 2 or 3 active running backs, don't they?
  
You could look at the Giants/Eagles game as their first game of the playoffs.  Both are in if the post-season started today.  But one must knock the other out of the perch this week.  The home Giants are a 5 point favorite against the Eagles. Five points?  In a divisional game between teams with even records? Five points?  Ahhhhh, paydirt.  This line doesn't look right to me.  It looks like it should be a 3.  Or maybe the bookies favorite, 3.5.  The Eagles plus the points looks even more attractive when you examine the recent history in this series.  The Eagles are 5-1 ATS in last 6 with the Giants. And the Giants are 1-3 ATS vs. Philadelphia in the last 4 home games in December.  Yeah, I know that the Giants beat the Eagles by 6 back in September.  And that's when McNabb was still the quarterback.  It's crazy as hell to think the Eagles can go into the Meadowlands and pull this one out.  But that's exactly what I am predicting.  Take the points.  Take them straight up.  The Eagles control their own destiny. Garcia is convinced he is going to the Superbowl.  The Giants win over a hapless Panthers team doesn't impress me all that much.  Five Points?  Thank you sir may I have another?  My pick:  Giants -5

Misery Index

10a)  Patriots:  The Patriots are the playoff team nobody is talking about.  And Sunday's shutout loss to the Dolphins demonstrates why.  Because they are capable of a game like that.  After sleepwalking their way to a 6-1 start, this team is 3-3 over the last six.  And they barely survived the Lions at home in week 13.  THE LIONS!!  And they are fresh off getting jacked by Harrington.  Not particularly impressive.  They will coast their way into the playoffs, but unless they have a higher gear in their arsenal, it looks like the Patriots are just a speed bump on the Chargers way to the Superbowl. 

10) Cowboys:  I haven't seen a thumping like that since my wife threw out my adult video collection.

9) Jets  Well, so much for that easy schedule we all thought would propel the Jets into the playoffs.  The Bills didn't get the memo.  If you bought into the Jets as a contender, you might want to try to get a refund.

8) Chiefs:  The Chiefs picked a fine time to lose a game at home in December.  They completed the sweep.  The lost to every team in the NFC North.  The bad part is that two of those teams really sucked.  Therefore one could make the assumption that the Chiefs also really suck.  And I'm afraid that would be really correct.  But as a Chiefs fan, I can honestly say this might be a better way to bow out than at the hands of some kicker like Lin Elliot (playoff choke 1996 vs. Colts)  Yeah Lin, we still remember.  Happy eleven year anniversary you lousy piece of $#&* mother&%*&*$ @$$wipe son of a %@#.  I'm just glad I'm not bitter anymore.
  
7) Texans:  Getting jacked up by Vince Young is becoming a popular trend in the NFL.  Then again, the Texans have met few quarterbacks that didn't jack them up, so I guess this last crushing home loss was not much different than the dozen they collect every season.  Just the latest to help provide a stage for Vince Young to shine.

6) Colts:  The Colts a month ago looked poised to cruise into the playoffs with homefield advantage.  Now they have lost 3 of 4 and look very mortal.  Or is it morbid? Maybe you could look past this loss to Jacksonville if you are wearing rose colored glasses.  After all, the Jags were playing a must win game at home.  But anybody watching the Jaguars trot out every running back on the roster to chew up the Colts non-existent run "defense" would come to the same conclusion.  The Colts are toast.  They can't stop the run, and every likely opponent in the playoffs will have a good running game.  And don't try to tell me that Sanders would have made a difference in that game.  After Taylor and Drew were worn out, the Colts were getting gashed by Alvin freaking Pearman for Christ's sake. Just in case you missed the gory details, the Jags rushed 42 times for 375 yards.  That is almost 9 yards a carry.  Average.  That isn't an NFL game.  That is USC v. Santa Barbara Community College.  That was the 2nd highest rushing performance allowed since 1970.  It was bad in a legendary proportion.  I had no real rooting interest in the slaughter.....er.... game, but I couldn't bear to watch it.  It was like watching a wounded and suffering animal.  You just wanted to shoot them and put them out of their misery, but the Jags kept throwing salt in the open wound for 4 full quarters.  That was hard to watch as a football fan, and as a humanitarian.  Gruesome.  By the way, wasn't Dungy a defensive coach or something like that back in the day?  I seem to have some recollection of something like that........

5) Broncos:  I guess when the Rams beat the Broncos back in week one, we should have all seen the warning signs.  No, it was just a fluke.  Or so we thought.  And now it comes crashing down.   It was better this way Bronco's fans.  Shanahan knew was kind of an ending was coming, come Jake, Jay, or hell or high water.  But hey, at least it was much more swift and merciful than the long drawn out playoff chase, which would have ended on some horrible Jake Plummer bonehead play, which you would have spent the next ten years bitching about the way I still bitch about Lin Elliot.  It's just better this way I think.

4) Panthers:  There will be no late season heroics this year.  The Panthers are officially neutered, de-clawed, and suffering from mange.  The Panthers might want to concentrate on getting some kind of running game before we start anointing them as championship material.  Let's call this team what they are at 6-7.  Losers.  The catbox is full and stinking up the house.  

3) Buccaneers:  151 points for the season.  That's less than anybody else in football.  Even the Raiders.  That is sad.  Unfortunately there are only so many offensive fronts to go around, and the Buc's were last in line.

2) Raiders:  They have scored over 14 points only 4 times this year.  And that was only because of the defense.  Why oh why must our best college players be sacrificed to outhouse organizations like this one.  Some reward for a great college career.  Banished to the black hole.  Abandon all hope ye who enter here....and pay no attention to that man behind the jumpsuit.

1) Lions:  Hey, this is getting serious now.  Looks like the 2 wins are all you are going to get.  Brad Johnson just rose from the dead against your worthless carcasses.  Man that was pitiful.  I really wish that the Lions played the Raiders, because this is just about too close to call.  I guess the deciding factor for me is that the Raiders don't play in a division with the Vikings and the Packers, but if they did, they would probably come a lot closer to beating them than this putrid crew.   Meanwhile, somewhere Brady Quinn prepares to take on his next challenge, which may well be raising this corpse of an organization from the dead.  During the off-season, he might want to practice up with some sea parting, feeding the multitudes, and squeezing a camel through the eye of a needle.