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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Commentary From the Edge - Week 9
Kevin Ratterree
October 30, 2007

While perusing the player standings in my leagues this week, one name kept jumping out at me. No, I’m not talking about Tom Brady. Lost in all this season’s hype over the Patriots is a pretty amazing story, Derek Anderson. Who is this guy, and who does he think he is he hanging out with Romo, Carson Palmer, and Peyton Manning in the quarterback rankings? More importantly, why isn’t he on my fantasy team? Not one of them.

I suppose I thought I didn’t need him back when he was still available on waivers. Maybe I bought into the “Brady Quinn will be starting soon” hype. Or maybe I just didn’t believe what I saw just about every time this guy hit the football field. He makes things happen.

Anderson burst onto the scene late last season, leading an improbable come from behind victory over the Chiefs with two touchdown passes after taking over for the injured Charlie Frye in the third quarter. He has been scoring touchdowns, and lots of them ever since. And at this point, he is just about to lose his status as the “best kept secret” in football, fantasy or otherwise.

Anderson is making the most of his talented skill players in the passing game, and Braylon Edwards has really come into his own since the change from Frye last season. Edwards had only 3 touchdowns before week 12 last season, but matched that total in his first 3 games with Anderson. Anderson has been really good for Edwards and Winslow. And more importantly for the morale of the Browns faithful.

Anderson so far has gotten very little attention in the national media, but either he has been doing a pretty good Carson Palmer impersonation, or he might just be the real deal. I for one can’t help but be impressed. This guy was barely mentioned in preseason fantasy circles, or in the Browns plans in general, but he is a bonafide difference maker in fantasy leagues at this point in time. I’m a fan. Sign me up. I’m still not sure how he is doing it, but he is doing it. 

He is currently the 3rd ranked QB in fantasy leagues. After a rough week 1 against the Steelers, Anderson has had a good string of games in fantasy terms. Here are his point totals over the last 6 games: 33, 21, 16, 20, 29, 21. Of course, I don’t need to rattle those numbers off for those smart enough (or desperate enough) to have snagged him off waivers about week 3. Those that had the stones to roll with Anderson have been rewarded with consistent production. Those that still have him on their bench are asking themselves why.

And I am saying to myself, do I really want to go up against this guy in week 16 when he plays the Bengals? That thought makes my blood run cold. Not as cold as the Brady / Moss thought, but cold I tell you. If you think you might be going up against Brady in your league’s championship game, Anderson could prove handy, yes?

Of course, fortunes can and probably will change a lot before then. It is still early. Anderson is probably an Edwards injury away from turning back into a toad. So maybe I shouldn’t hate myself for letting him slip by me on the waiver wire. Not yet anyway. There is plenty of time for that later.

Are You Ready to Rumble?

It is finally here. The super heavyweight fight of the century. Super Bowl in November. I can’t remember a regular season game I anticipated more than this one. And yes, surprisingly that even includes the London game between the Giants and those other guys.

Manning v Brady. Colts v Patriots. Dungy v Belichick. Good v Evil. Yes my friends, believe the hype. This one is huge. The season is hanging in the balance. The very notion that there is more than one possible, painful, excruciatingly painful conclusion to this season will be on the line. The Colts have to convince us once again. Only the Colts can save the league from this menace.

Belichick designed this offense to beat the Colts. Plain and simple. And in doing that, he designed an offense that is laying the league to waste, it’s living legends, and people that go up against his players in fantasy football. Belichick has showed no mercy. If the Colts get down early in this game, Belichick will bury them up to their necks in front of a national audience. The man just got done stomping Joe Gibbs face in the mud. That was just practice for what he has planned for the Colts next week. He wasn’t running up those scores against inferior competition just for kicks. He was just tuning up his machine for the ass thumping he has planned for the Colts this Sunday.

I’m not sure how the odds makers set an under / over number on this game, but I’d have to say I feel pretty darn safe up until about 70. We could push 90. It is going to be ridiculous. But then again, the Patriots seem to redefine the word “ridiculous” every week. It is probably the sickest thing I have seen in sports, and I for one hope this game is the giant points orgy of all time. I am expecting an epic legendary game. I have nowhere to go but down. Unfortunately my optimism for a Colts victory is lukewarm at best.

You know the really ironic thing about this game? The Colts went and grabbed Vinatieri from the Patriots, but the Patriots don’t kick field goals any more. And if the Colts end up kicking field goals, they will probably end up losing. Huh.

Still, if the game was tied 45-45 in OT wouldn’t it be sweet to see Vinatieri blast one. Oh yeah. That’s my dream. And the money shot of Belichick on the sideline at that moment. Oh yeah. That’s my dream on this any given Sunday.

Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week

After a 1-1 week, the CAHPOW is 5-4. It’s been a rough year so far for the Crazy as Hell Pick. If I had only climbed aboard the New England train and just stayed there the record would be 0-8. But how fun would that be? Predicting the Pats to cover the spread is like telling you the sun will rise tomorrow. Not a lot of glory with that pick. Only self loathing. The Patriots kept me afloat the last two weeks, but I am casting aside the life preserver and making a swim for it. I just wouldn’t feel right laying 6 points against the Super Bowl Champions at home. Though it would be a nice consolation for the fact that the rest of the season will be ruined for me. Hmmm. May have to think about that one a little bit more.

Since I gave such a moving tribute to Derek Anderson to start the column, why don’t I put my money where my mouth is. The Browns are a 1 1/2 point favorite at home against the Seahawks. You already know how Derek Anderson has been putting up the numbers. And you know that the Seahawks are traditionally a bad road team, especially outside their division. In their last 15 road games, the Seahawks have covered the spread exactly 4 times. They have lost 4 of their last 6 on the road. They were trounced by the Browns divisional foe Steelers 21-0 and barely got by the Bengals at home 24-21. Their lone road win this year was against a battered 49ers team. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Meanwhile Cleveland is 5-1 ATS and 4-2 SU over the last 6. They are quietly one of the best teams against the spread as of late. And even more impressive than their 4-3 record, they hold the distinction of losing by the fewest points (17) to the Patriots this year. I don’t think the Seahawks can outscore the Browns. Not in that house. I think the Browns win this game and cover the spread. Seahawks +1 1/2

Misery Index

10) Football Injury Gods: Pssst, don’t mention it too loud, but I think we got through a week without any catastrophic injuries for fantasy teams. Yes the fantasy Gods have finally lifted our heads out of the toilet after an 8 week swirlie. And we are grateful. If only for a moment. Take a deep breath.

9) Bears: So it has come to this. Super Bowl team out of contention in their own division. Swept by the Lions. Let that sink in. Swept by the Lions. The Lions have only won 2 divisional road games since Millen took over in 2001. And the Bears just got the second one hung on them. Just for spite, I picked up and started the Lions defense against the guy that started the Bears defense against me last week. Just for kicks. Outscored him by 4 on that matchup. Oh, I lost the game anyway, but I still think I proved my point.

8) Vikings: Well, it has been a tough couple of weeks for the Vikings, and even worse for Adrian Peterson owners. After his big blow up game against Chicago, in which some Peterson owners may have benched him, Childress threw water on the fire telling everybody that Taylor was still the starter. Then he backed that up by giving Peterson only 12 carries in a 10 point loss to the Cowboys. That caused a huge uproar, with people like me calling him an idiot for the next week, and Peterson owners going ballistic. Then finally Childress came to his senses and named Peterson the starter before last weeks game, and lo’ and behold Peterson came up empty. Peterson owners feel like a guy that snags a hot chick and can’t find anyplace to be alone with her.

7) Bengals: Well, well, well. Rumor has it that Chad Johnson has been spreading the word that he wants out of Cincinnati. Be careful there Chad. Randy Moss wished that wish, and then spent three years in hell. You only think you are in hell. Believe it or not, it could be worse than this.

6) Raiders: Culpepper has apparently overcome his tragic knee injury. Unfortunately he cannot overcome his freakishly small hands, which tend to drop the football on a regular basis when he is under pressure, which is quite frequently.

5) 49ers: Gore is distressed. Alex Smith has regressed. Vernon Davis hasn’t progressed. Coach Nolan is well dressed. Fans are depressed. They suck way more than we could ever have guessed.

4) Falcons: Does a bye week really make you feel better, when you know you still have Joey Harrington playing behind a pathetic offensive line waiting for you when they come back? I think not.

3) Jets: Pennington couldn’t hang any points on the Bills, so the Jets are finally hanging him up. I like Pennington. But he’s just never gonna be “that guy.” He is the guy that comes into the game when “that guy” gets injured. Now the Jets will likely spend the next 8 years determining whether or not Clemens is “that guy.” To everything, turn turn turn……

2) Rams: Jacked up at home by the Browns. S.Jax and Bulger didn’t make it all the way through the game. Shut down by the vaunted Browns defense. Oh yeah. Its funny how bad a team can look with a horrible offensive line, that has new season ending injuries every week. Rams fans now looking back fondly to the Mike Martz era. And as if things weren’t bad enough, the ‘07 Patriots are doing the “Greatest Show on Turf” better than the Rams did back in the day. So, to sum it up. They have no past. They have no present. They have no future. That’s grim. But at least the Rams can be thankful for one thing. (see below)

1) Dolphins: The great experiment worked out okay I guess. The game was only slightly less boring than soccer. The Brits, seemingly unaware that what they had just witnessed was not football, actually booed when the Giants took a knee at :30. They actually wanted more. The incredibly sloppy field, (designed for 150 lb men, not our 300 pounders) and the jet lag did indeed bring the Giants game down to the level of the Dolphins. So now we have established that. For the Dolphins to have a chance in hell to win, all they need is a playing field that would best be navigated by ATV, and for the other team to be quite tired and off their normal bodily function patterns. Well, that isn’t so bad. What is bad though is the very notion that the NFL wants to play a Super Bowl in London. After witnessing that game I’m not singing “God Save the Queen” over that idea. I’m singing “God Save our Super Bowl.” I wasn’t thrilled with the “rain game” in last year’s Super Bowl. I don’t want the weather to determine the outcome of the biggest game of the year. And I don’t want a sprained ankle or torn ACL determining the champion either. The NFL probably needs to move onto the next idea if that is what we can expect. Running in the muck is probably not the best way to determine a champion, as witnessed by the Dolphins ability to masquerade as a somewhat competitive team last Sunday.

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