Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Hangover: The End Is Near

This week's biblical reference brought to you by Tim Tebow who spent the weekend simultaneously proving everyone right and wrong.
Say what you will about the people who love Tim Tebow and the host of intangibles he brings to the table that allows his team to keep on winning, but they are right about one thing: he is obviously Denver's best chance to win this year, and certainly the best chance we have of seeing John Elway burst into flames on the sidelines as his QB becomes less and less replaceable.
At the same time, say what you will about the fantasy owners and their inability to value the things that matter in the NFL (things like amping up your teammates and making the league a little less secular one Tebow at a time), in their devotion to statistics they have been able to identify one irrefutable metric: Tebow is not good at throwing a football. This slight imperfection may or may not become important down the line since Denver can't play the AFC West, Sanchez and the Dolphins every week. And we can all agree on one thing, the AFC West makes the NFC West look like the NFC North, except with better views.
To stay on point here, the chargers are ho-horrendous. Philip Rivers' arm has not benefited from the recent bout of syphilis that has clearly rendered his brain cottage cheese. This particular bout of mushiness brings into relief the age old question: do receivers make quarterbacks or vice versa? My feeling is that this question is entirely situational...and in this situation Vincent Jackson was quite obviously the beneficiary of River's formerly elite arm, 'cause he's not exactly saving his QB from a dismal year.

On to the week:
-I think this sums up my season: in two leagues in which I started Dez Bryant I was playing against Laurent Robinson. The effect of this pairing is doubled pain. Every time a catch was made, all I could see was the number 8 bouncing around in the end zone and was left to wrongly presume that Dez had scored only to find on each occasion that Robinson was the guy with the ball, mocking me.

-All was not horrible though. Even though Dez, VJax, Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson and pretty much every other receiver in the league disappeared this weekend Wes Welker and Roddy White showed us that it was, in fact, possible to catch and run with a football.

-If you use Yahoo! for your fantasy league you are treated on a regular basis for the mass droppings of a particular player. Most recently it was Fred Jackson after the midweek admission that he's all busted up and done for the year. But after Kevin Smith's explosive return to football two weeks ago everyone and their brother was scrambling to drop Maurice Morris. Having missed the bus on Smith I decided I'd just go ahead and keep Morris and in one league I was even forced to start him. You can imagine how excited I was to turn on the TV to see Smith limping around on the sidelines. The lesson here: Just because everyone is zigging doesn't mean you should underestimate Kevin Smith's ability to get injured.

-My friends/family league has entered uncharted levels of parity. I'd like to think this is because we all have matured into competent fantasy owners, but more likely we've all got too many kids to hustle the waiver wire successfully so the owners who don't pay know squat stand as much of a chance as those who have previously been dominant. At this point in the season there are 6, 6-6 teams, two teams with byes, two teams with snowballs chances and 2 teams that are composting as we speak. Potentially the season could end with with 8 6-7 teams. As any commissioner knows, this will result in 4 pissed off owners whining about the league settings and me trying to find the patience not to tell each of them to eat a bag of the aforementioned compost.

-Chances of the colts winning a game this year have probably been reduced to zilch having wasted their last best winnable game. I sure hope Andrew Luck loves the Midwest. I know the path from Silicon Valley to Indy has been well worn as people looking to escape scenic northern California made it halfway back to the east coast before planting their roots in Indiana. I'm sure Luck will be very happy.

Speaking of dumping games, I figured I'd be in good shape next year in my keeper league if I ended up with a top 4 pick (AP, Ray Rice, LeSean and Arian Foster will all be available in this league). And the way my team has dropped games when I've put a lot of thought into the lineup, I assumed when Vick went down, followed by Cutler (my backup), leaving me stuck with Vince Young I was guaranteed to get whipped this week. Alas, Vince looked like his days at UT and bam! I'm in the dreaded middle of the pack once again. Which just goes to show that it's easier to lose a game in reality than in fantasy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Broncos waive Kyle Orton - Lovie Smith's prayers answered by Tim Tebow

USA today is reporting that the Denver Bronco's have released once and future quarterback Kyle Orton. Seems like the prudent move, I mean when the rest of your stable of QBs is stocked with the likes of Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn, why not get rid of a competent passer. Who needs 'em.

Fact is after the way Broncos fans treated Orton he would be well within his rights to throw nothing but intentional pick 6s if he ever got his hands on the ball again. For a group that worships at the alter with Tebow, you'd think they'd have displayed a little more compassion than what they did.

But Denver's loss is somebody's gain. Between the injured QBs, the rookie QBs who aren't Cam Newton and Matt Leinart, there are a lot of opportunities for a guy like Orton to find a home rather quickly. Just yesterday the pundits were talking about the Bears needing to run out and pick up Marc Bulger for the love of God. And frankly that may still be their best option since I have a hard time imagining that someone with a better waiver position won;t swoop in and snatch Orton up. Perhaps someone in the same division as Denver? Kansas City can't possibly have enjoyed Tyler Palko's pick fest against one of the worst pass defenses in the league last night. How awesome would it be for Orton to get a chance to face Tebow on the field in week 17 against the Broncos? So awesome that it should be mandatory prime time viewing.

Look even farther down the waiver rankings and gaze upon the once proud Redskins who need two more QBs and two fewer RBs.

If by some magical chance the Bears prayers are answered and Orton comes home to play substitute QB while Cutler heals, I'll enjoy the look on Cutler's face every time Orton throws a TD. Cutler has a wonder way of expressing his innermost feelings with a palette of scowls rivaling Dick Cheney.

Either way, this is wonderful news for Kyle who could use a fresh start, hopefully somewhere where he can play Denver endlessly.

Tuesday Hangover: Your whole team is injured

The consistent theme woven through this season is the thread of injury. Whether it's a season-ending injury (Peyton Manning, Kenny Britt, Jamaal Charles, Matt Schaub, the list goes on), or it just feels like the whole season (Andre Johnson, Darren McFadden, Ahmad Bradshaw, Austin Miles), to the nagging little things that hold guys out of one or two games (Adrian Peterson?, Julio Jones, Shonn Greene, Michael Vick) the weekly CBSSports.com injury report reads like Tolstoy - with fewer Russians.

The biggest question marks going into week 12 will be the status of Adrian Peterson who has been remarkably durable for a guy who is the backbone of his team's offense and gets darn little support from their aerial attack. But given the Vikings 2-8 record and the certainty that they will not make the playoffs, resting a high ankle sprain might be the wiser path - which is why Toby Gerhart went off the boards so fast this weekend.

It would be negligent not to mention the enormous question mark that sits over Michael Vick's return now that his replacement went out and Tebow'd* his way to victory (*doing everything possible to lose except actually losing). For those of you who didn't tune in to the Sunday night game pitting the Giants against the Eagles, Vince Young's Sputnik looking passes have not found any more snap or any less loft in his days waiting in the wings. In fact I couldn't tell who was the more terrified fan base coming out of that game - Eagles fans who watched in horror every time a pass left Young's hand to float in the air for what seemed like days, just begging for a defender to get underneath it and swipe the ball away (which did happen 3 times); Or the Giants who somehow managed to pick only three of these pathetic lobs out of the sky. Since winning masks a lot of pain, I'm guessing the G-Men are more angry.

Bill Simmons posed the question: How many broken ribs must Vick have before fans are happy to start Young? He suggested 9, which seemed a little low to me. But with a 1-game win streak under his belt I'm wondering if Andy Reid is going t0 risk benching the healthy (if awful) Young over the ever-ailing Vick. Considering the Eagles didn't so much revive their season as they kept the plug from being pulled, every game is a must win so I have to think Vick will start, especially against a Patriots team that will not provide the tepid offensive performance that kept the Eagles in Sunday's game.


On to the week

- With Miami practically running away from Andrew Luck like he's got a venereal disease, St. Louis still having an awful lot of NFC West teams on the horizon and Carolina looking like they are bound to start winning games just any second now, the Colts have to feel as good about their chances of grabbing the No. 1 pick. By not playing this week they not only didn't risk losing but they let some of their competition put a little distance between them. Couple more weeks of losing and the Colts might actually peek out from their burrow and decide it is safe to try to win a game and avoid the shameful 0-16 season. I wonder if Luck will ask to use Manning's number?

-I'm officially starting Torry Smith from here on out. He has outlasted the rookie maybes and is now a genuine threat to score huge plays when he is on the field. Anyone who knows Lee Evans' track record is not even a little surprised that he's completely lost his spot to someone who can actually catch a football. I'm not saying Smith is going to post up 150 yards a game, but his speed is evident and frankly the 49ers DBs won;t be able to keep up with him Thursday night. As a Niners fan it pains me to say but I'd start both Anquan Boldin and Smith on Thursday night. On the other hand I'd consider keeping Ray Rice on the bench - even if he is the first player to score a rushing TD on the Niners this year, he's probably not going to break any fantasy records with Patrick Willis crushing his little body all night.

-Did you know that Vincent Jackson and Roddy White both had 100-yard +TD days on Sunday? Feels a little like the warming glow of 2010 when those two were reliable 100+ yards a week guys. Aside from a few QBs and AP is anyone truly reliable year over year? Calvin Johnson, Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe are the only three guys who were top ten in receiving last year and are top 10 this year.

-You know how QBs have their favorite receivers? Tony Romo loves Jason Witten and Austin Miles, Tom Brady loves Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees love anyone with two hands. Well, with Matt Hasslebeck maybe out for another game is it time to pick up Nate Washington who had a monster day with Jake Locker throwing him the ball? Not sure I'd take a chance on Locker (unless Jay Cutler is your starter - in which case you are beyond help) but if Washington has one of those simpatico relationships with Locker he might be valuable.

-Love that John Elway is able to see the forest for the trees. All the Tebowphiles may be distraught that Elway isn't yet committing to his QB, but what else is he to do? Tebow has a long track record of responding well to criticism and adversity with horrible passes followed by seemingly immaculate touchdown runs. He might be the Broncos QB for the next 10 years and every Sunday Elway has to take the stage and announce that he is not sure of Tebow has the job. Brilliant move if you ask me. If it motivates Tebow to higher levels of improbable victories - great. If he fails miserably Elway gets a new QB - great. Win Win for Elway.

-Speaking of which, the look on Elway's face when Tebow scored the game-winning touchdown was priceless. There was zero excitement in his body language, he just clapped and forced a grin that said: "Great, now I'm stuck with this guy for another week at least. So much for Andrew Luck."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Hangover: Houston we have a problem

By this point you might have a good idea where you stand in the great world of fantasy football. You are either in, or out, or on the cusp. There's not much flirting left. With 3 or 4 games to go before the fantasy playoffs depending on your format, it's likely that up to 1/3 of your league has mentally checked out and has moved on to their NBA fantasy teams or is hatching an awesome scheme for next years draft, one that will probably, but should not, include 2 dozen shots of Jagermeister. If only these bums had stopped paying attention to the waiver wire long ago you would have been able to pick up and drop Ryan Torain 6 more times without having to worry about some other jerk swooping in and stealing the worthless back from under your nose.

If only.

And in a week were quarterbacks are nearing extinction it will be a nice breath of fresh air for owners of Matt Schaub to freely go out and pick up Tavaris Jackson or John Skelton without concern that they've become too hot a commodity to be available. Sure, you could rush out and pick up former poster boy Matt Leinart, but I have it from good sources that he's more upset about Schaub's injured foot than Schaub is. But not nearly as upset as Gary Kubiak and Andre Johnson, who have both been spotted on suicide watch lists by Leinart, who uses those lists to pick up girls in Houston. Don't judge.

The only fan base who has to be more upset than Houston are those Philly fans who, 3 games out of first and one re-injured Michael Vick, must travel to New York to face a very irritated Giants team, and do it with Vince Young under center. Those two names take me back to aught 5 when Leinart was a Heisman winning quarterback in Southern Cal and all Vince Young did was win games. Seems like so long ago. Today neither one of those guys is fit to back up Tim Tebow and if trends persist Tebow'll become the first quarterback in the history of the NFL to ever start and finish a winning effort while throwing zero passes.


On to the week.

-There's a guy in my auction draft league who picked up Reggie Bush two weeks ago and seems to think Bush is awesome. The real life analogy of this is when the new guy in high school picks up the hottest girl who unbeknownst to him is only single because she's the biggest tramp on campus. Only once she starts dating the new guy she totally cleans up her act and turns them both into the big winners along the way. Everyone else is left scratching their heads waiting for her to screw it up, but so far the new guy is just sitting there with a huge smile on his face, barely aware of her past. I never should have dropped Reggie Bush.


-Speaking of Reggie Bush and people with trampy pasts, reports have surfaced that the weekend before Kim Kardashian dropped her husband she "met" with Reggie in New York when he was in town to play the Giants. That Sunday Reggie took the field and statistically hasn't looked back since. Whatever happened between Kardashian and Bush, about a million fantasy owners need to buy her new perfume as a way of saying thank you. Also for the videos, thank her for those too.


-Rodgers, Rodgers, Rodgers. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king. And the Packers and Rodgers are quire clearly the one-eyed team in this season's barrel of the blind. So with no offensive powerhouse left to cheer for ESPN has informed its pundits (Trent Dilfer) that Rodgers is the second coming of Christ and not only that but the greatest QB of all time. Well I can't speak to his being the son of God (though I doubt Jesus would do car insurance ads) but he's definitely not the best QB ever. He's awesome and he's taking full advantage of the new world the NFL lives in - but last night Stuart Scott posed the question to Dilfer and Steve Young: Is Aaron Rodgers the best ever? After Dilfer slobbered all over Rodgers for what seemed like a lifetime, Young, who you may recall played with Joe Montana, delicately chose to answer a different question rather than tell the truth: Rodgers is probably not even as good as Brady in his prime, much less Montana. And I'd like to add to that...

-The Packers aren't really all that unbeatable themselves. There. I said it. They will not win the Superbowl this year because their defense is just not all that great. Allow me to demonstrate: Their biggest win came in the first game of the season against the Saints (who, by the way, posted 34 on them in Green Bay). They eeked by Carolina. Beat the Bears before they remembered that Matt Forte was on the roster. They beat Denver but got 23 points hung on them (none of which could be attributed to Tebow, somehow). Probably their next best win is going to Atlanta and beating a very pedestrian Falcons team by 11. Then the McNabb Vikings. Followed by the Chargers who are currently horrible. And then the rookie Ponder Vikings. People want to talk about undefeated season? From here on out the Packers will get the Lions home and away, the Giants on the road, Oakland, and the Bears once again featuring Matt Forte. I see two losses in there easy. Maybe 3. Possibly 4. Look, the Packers are awesome, maybe the best team, and I get media hyperbole, but let's settle down, the Giants and the Steelers are both probably better because they both can play defense.


-Did Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch just go for almost 170 combined yards and a TD in the Seahawks win over Baltimore? Yes. Yes he did. You still probably shouldn't start him. Better to let him perform on your bench then to let him fool you into thinking he's actually good.


-Larry Fitzgerald on the other hand? I think we've found him a starting quarterback. See you later Kevin Kolb. Is it possible that the Eagles knew how bad Kolb was (knowing he was still way better than McNabb) - pumped up the expectations for a great Kolb era in Philly while bringing Vick in the back door as a "project"? Then after Kolb does little in the first few games last year they pull an injury stunt, swear the Eagles are still his team, give the team to Vick, wait a year then trade the promise of Kolb? I think that for a team full of geniuses the Eagles sure can't figure out how to win a freaking game. I'd hate to be an Eagles fan.


-You know what I love being? A 49ers fan. My team is 8-1 yet up until this week all people could talk about was how the Cowboys came back on them, or how the Eagles blew it, or how Harbaugh is a jerk who shakes hands too hard. Instead they should have been focusing on the body parts that Patrick Willis is ripping off of people left and right. And the OLine that is keeping Alex Smith relevant for the first time in his 7 year career and at the same time is letting Frank Gore run wild (you know, until this week when it let Kendall Hunter run not-quite-wild). I know, the 49ers are a long shot to win the Superbowl, or probably even the NFC, but it won't take much more than a little luck for them to get home field advantage throughout, and when you get a little luck, who knows. There, now that I've openly said that, the Niners are going to drop 4 in a row to the Cardinals, the Ravens, the Rams and the Cardinals again. It was fun while it lasted.


-I'm taking Chris Johnson with the first pick next year. Just you watch.


-Michael Bush just showed us what kind of line the Raiders have. Anyone the Raiders start is worth starting.


-Know what the only good bet in the NFL is this year? That the Colts will win no more than one game. And that one win will only happen if all the other Luck-focused teams have two wins. No one wants to go 0-16, 1-a5 is much better if you can do that and still get your boy.


-I am currently in 1 playoffs, out of 1 playoffs, looking really good in another and pretty bad in the 4th. I just hope I can remember which teams I have to pay attention to.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Hangover: Oops, Miami accidentally won

It is not as hard to lose football games as it is to win them. But it might be as hard to lose every football game as it is to win every football game. Sometimes life just gets in the way. Sometimes Reggie Bush remembers what it was like when people thought he was good at football. Sometimes you just stare across the field and see the unshaven, self-satisfied, deeply annoying face of Todd Haley and you say to yourself: I cannot lose to this fuzzy dirthole.



And I suspect that's exactly what happened Sunday in Kansas City where the hapless Miami Dolphins walked into Arrowhead with a perfect record and walked out losers in the "Suck For Luck" sweepstakes. In a game where Matt Moore passed for almost 250 yards and 3 TDs and Reggie Bush pitched in nearly 150 of his own plus a TD the Dolphins showed us that even when faced with the possible thrill of going 0-16 and drafting Andrew Luck there is something so horrible about Todd Haley that will not let a team lay down for him, no matter the price. And the price tag on this one is huge because while Miami had been dangerously flirting with victory all season, the 0-9 Indianapolis Colts have run in the opposite direction and have been remorselessly pounded by everyone they have played since being embarrassed 62-7 by the saints on Sunday night.

So what's next? Clearly the game is over. Indy is the last zero win team in the league and their superior will to lose would seem to indicate that they are in no danger of picking up a W.

Of course even though this seems like they are a lock for Luck, the Stanford QB might just take a quick tour of the malls of Indianapolis and decide that midwest living isn't what he had in mind. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Luck was researching good masters programs offered by Stanford to see if he can't find a reasonable excuse to stay in college for one more year rather than hunker down on the bench behind Peyton Manning and his new robotic neck.

And I don't hate the Colts, I'm just rooting for humor here. And in my mind the funniest possible outcome is for a team to lay down all season in the hopes of landing the crown jewel of college quarterbackery only to have the jewel bypass the draft yet again rather than playing in Indy.


On to the week.

-One of the main differences in fantasy football and real football is that just because a fantasy owners gets annoyed with a fantasy player and benches him doesn't mean that Norv Turner will. And so my attempt to teach the underperforming Vincent Jackson a lesson by letting him cool his heels this week resulted in my leaving 32 points on my bench and losing a game to Aaron Rodgers who has become just about the only truly reliable fantasy player left. This drops my best team of the season to a 3-way tie for 3rd place where I will likely end up losing to some idiotic Cleveland Browns fan.


-Speaking of Rodgers, there's been a lot of rumbling about how he's the greatest quarterback ever of all time in the whole world including Joe Montana. Which makes me want badly to point out that back in the day when Montana was putting up sick statistics he was doing it in an environment where it wasn't a criminal offense for a linebacker to crush a QBs spine, and cornerback were not playing two-hand touch with the receivers. Quarterbacks in the NFL today get more protection than endangered species do. There's a 6 square inch spot located just above a QBs belly button where it is permissible for him to be hit, everything else is off limits. To this day Joe Montana has little pieces of Lawrence Taylor lodged in his skull and deep in his bowels. Don't ever compare Aaron Rodgers to Joe Montana, it's just dumb.


-Do you have any idea how hard it is to end a fantasy game in a tie? It's virtually impossible, even more so in a league with fractional scoring. So when Michael Vick laid a Bear-sized egg in Philly last night his 14 point performance somehow managed to give me just enough juice to end my game in a tie with the second worst team in the league. 97.5 to 97.5. I did a little unscientific research and learned that there are better odds of me scratching a winning lottery ticket while being eaten by a shark who is being eaten by a bear in Jake Delhomme's living room. My season was bad enough, now I have a tie on my record. I have half a mind to not start a QB for the rest of the year a protest.


-So this DeMarco Murray is pretty good huh? Funny story, when the Cedric Benson suspension was announced I zipped out and picked up Bernard Scott so I could have a starting RB for 3 games. The incensed owner of Benson offered to trade me Murray and Tashard Choice for Scott, claiming that we are all aware of what a huge sissy Felix Jones is. I laughed at him. Two weeks later Benson's suspension was cut to 1 game, Felix was in full sissy mode and DeMarco Murray was making Jerry Jones wet himself. I'm an idiot.


-My good friend proudly announced Sunday morning that he was going to make some big changes in his lineup. he was going to start Tim Tebow and he was going to bench Jordy Nelson in favor of Darius Heyward Bey. Exactly 50% of that decision turned out to be a good idea. Tebow had a pretty good day coming up with 2 TD passes and more than 100 yards rushing, not too shabby, but unknown to the fantasy world, Heyward Bey had taken a PTO day on Sunday and was seen on a mere 12 snaps and had one ball thrown in his direction. You win some, you lose some.



-Remember back in the good ole days when Tom Brady was throwing for 1,000 yards every two games? Those days are over due in no small part to Ochocinco being really bad at playing football. I'm starting to think that maybe the Tight End, Tight End, Welker, Running Back of the day business model isn't working as well as you might think.



-I won't generally agree with my friend who complains nonstop about how fantasy football is not an accurate reflection of real football, but I have to admit that this week there were two QBs out there who by all reports were at least partially responsible for their team's respective defeats, but statistically had enormous fantasy days. Like if you didn't watch the Raiders or the Chargers play and you only saw that Philip Rivers put up 36 points and Carson Palmer posted nearly 30 you might think they had successful outings. I'm at peace with this teensy discrepancy.



-Speaking of Palmer and Rivers, they get to face off in the year's first Thursday night game where they will try to out interception one another. My money is on Rivers. Let this be your reminder to set your lineups early this week. Good Luck.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reggie Bush breaks out. Kim Kardashian breaks up. Coincidence?

I think not.

Which came first ... The Kardashian Break up or the Bush break out? It's almost impossible to say. But like any good fantasy owner would do, I'm dead set on uncovering the truth.

Reggie Bush, a bit like his ex girl Kim, gets a lot of media coverage for not really having done much to entertain the world since the early days. Kardashian has a sex tape, Bush had a Heisman (note tense). And for a while things were going pretty well. Bush got drafted and got to be a supernumerary on a Super Bowl-winning football team. Kim continued to get whatever exposure her oddly shaped glutes would allow her.

But at some point we realized that Bush's Magazine Cover to Touchdown ratio* was completely out of whack and so they split. Bush may have thought he was freeing himself up to focus on his stats. but in reality, he could never get Kardashian out of his head.

Bush was obviously heartbroken. Who wouldn't be? His 2010 season reflected his pain and he finished with fewer fantasy points than Chester Taylor. Reggie hoped to find new life in Miami but a combination of his lack of talent and heart, and the addition of an average rookie to compete with him made him pretty much useless. I know because I drafted him and even started him a few times.

But then on Oct. 30 Bush recorded his first 100 yard game of the season, and as far as I can tell, his professional life.

The very next day Kim ends her marriage. A union that could not outlast the NBA lockout. Why?

Obviously the sight of Reggie Bush running unimpeded for the first time since he was returning punts as a rookie made her remember why she fell in love with him in the first place: The NFL is just more popular than the NBA. Even in LA.

Reggie Bush owners can only hope that Bush remains inspired by his chance to rekindle his affair with Kardashian and continues to post above average, if not earth-shattering statistics. I bet if he finds the end zone this weekend Kim might give him a second chance. I know I would.


*Tom Brady's MCTD ratio is still fairly heavily weighted toward touchdowns, but let's face it, wearing man uggs around town isn't helping his tough guy image.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pickup-of-the-week - Jonathan Baldwin

Kansas City Chiefs rookie wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin's first move out of the gate was to break his thumb in a locker room fight with Thomas Jones. We assume this pent up aggression was based on Baldwin having owned Jamaal Charles in too many fantasy leagues last season - so we're giving him a pass.



Fortunately for Baldwin his 50-yard TD reception over the head of a defender happened early enough in that abysmal game that many fantasy owners were still awake to see his athleticism and take notice. Baldwin, who had 5 catches for 82 yards on the day rocketed up the waiver list Tuesday.


Coach Todd Haley has dragged inspiring performances out of his decimated team this season and he says he's quite pleased with the Baldwin's work ethic and performance. Dwayne Bowe was clearly the beneficiary of most of Matt Cassell's looks, but Baldwin is a long target on the field for Cassell and is worth a look as a bye week replacement and definitely as a prospect in keeper leagues.

Tuesday Hangover: Steven Jackson did WHAT to the Saints?

While attending the monthly poker game to which I generously donate a small sum of cash, I ran into two fantasy owners who I happened to be playing this weekend. And though they were nicely at 6-1 and I was DOA at 1-6, I mentioned to them that with Aaron Rodgers on bye this week and Wes Welker playing the Steelers he was in for a traumatic beatdown, and don't they wish they had taken Calvin Johnson rather than Steven Jackson in the first round.

It occurs to me now that the moment I declared Jackson a bust I should have picked up my phone and posted a message to all interested fantasy owners and gamblers that Jackson was about to rape the Saints for more than 150 yards and 2 TDs. They fact that he was playing against me may or may not have been enough to bring the aging Ram his biggest fantasy game since the great winter of aught 8 (though so far this year I have have managed to shake Ahmad Bradshaw, Darren McFadden and Marques Colston out of their slumps) but the trash talking guaranteed his success.

This phenomenon puts me in a tricky spot, since I value trash talk as highly as I do winning. Sure, in an important situation I can tone it down for the sake of good karma, but if I had to stop all demeaning comments for a season I'm not sure if the game would be as much fun. Besides, the best laid fantasy plans easily get derailed by injury (Jamaal Charles) generally crappy performance (Chris Johnson) and just plain bad luck (Reggie Wayne). So even when wins are hard to come by trash talk is a constant reminder that there's more to fantasy football than money. There's the camaraderie that comes from telling your opponent you would rather catch the clap than lose to him. The joy of sharing pictures of Arian Foster's X-Rays with the weepy owners who drafted him minutes before he took to twitter. The fellowship of forcing your arch rival to perform menial and possibly degrading draft day chores simply because he failed to come come through on some random wager.

When you are in the cellar there is nowhere to go but up so you might as well talk up a storm.


ON TO THE WEEK

-Maybe Anquan Boldin can play a little ball after all? 145 yards is handy no matter how you slice it. The end zone would have been nice, but let's not be greedy.

-My friend and I have been involved in a fairly heated debate about Tony Romo. I've had Romo on my team for years and I tend to stand behind him especially in the face of a rabid Redskin's fan who hates everything about the Cowboys. So I can't tell who the bigger loser is this weekend? Romo for sucking the life out of the Cowboys offense or the Redskins who are clearly fighting their way back to the bottom of their division where everyone thought they would be when the season started. Since I'm not a Cowboys fan I think he's more bitter. I can shake off a Cowboys loss as long as the 49ers are winning, and no one says I have to draft Romo in the future, he's stuck with the skins until he dies.

-Speaking of the Redskins, I have to admit that on their rapid descent into the depths of the NFC East they have at least made Fred Davis a valuable fantasy start. The same, however, cannot be said for Ryan Torain or Roy Helu.

-When your fantasy game is on the line and you need a mere 12 points for the win, how many wide receivers do you currently place above Vincent Jackson on a list of players likely to come through in the clutch? 20? 30? By any metric his performance has been miserable. Yardage Bonus? Miserable. PPR? Miserabler. Standard format? Miserablest. I can't tell if he's destroying Philip Rivers or if it's the other way around. But I know that Rivers insisted on forcing the ball into double coverage to find Gates. In case you cared, the answer is 84. Over the past 4 weeks he has been outscored by 84 other receivers in the NFL. Sure, he had a bye, but so did lots of other players. Over those 4 weeks he's totaled 8 fantasy points in standard formats. Dead to me.

-Michael Vick on the other hand has turned into king Midas, including a bye week he's turned in the 7th best QB performance over the last 4 weeks, the only comparable player to do better is Aaron Rodgers.

-Is there anyone not starting Cam Newton at this point? My brother owns Vick and Newton and is somehow having trouble unloading Newton in a trade for guys half his value. At this point in the season you've pretty much seen everything you need to to know that Newton is going to produce points. The guy who picked up Cam in the 15ht round of my keeper draft is sitting on a pure goldmine.


-The one nice thing about drafting in the top four of my keeper league next year is that I'm assured to walk off with LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice or Arian Foster. The question is do I keep Jamaal Charles or is he done?

-Considering it's the year of the quarterback, why isn't it also the year of the receiver? Once you get past Calvin Johnson, Wes Welker and Steve Smith (wow) you get pretty quickly to Greg Jennings who shares the ball with half the city of Green Bay. Pierre Garcon sneaks into the top 10 in WR scoring in some leagues and the Colts aren't even trying to win games. Where is Desean? Roddy? Fitzgerald? Dez? Why are Victor Cruz and Dwayne Bowe in the upper echelon of receivers.


THE RACE FOR THE LUCK UPDATE


It's been a highly competitive season but it's looking like we are down to 2 finalists. Indy, the presumptive favorite to figure out how to show a negative number in the win column for the first time in NFL history. I don't see nay way the Colts are going to be talked in to winning a game. They don't even care. Indy GM Bill Pollian says he sees no flaws in the coaching job being done by Jim Caldwell which is like Oscar the Grouch finding no flaws with a steaming pile of rat dung. If what you want is rat poop, Caldwell's performance has been a masterpiece. Could you possibly need more evidence than that?



But just because Miami is keeping up appearances by staying close in games does not mean they are not just perfectly content to go 0-fer, but are in fact commit ed tot he cause. All I need in the way of evidence is that they lose at home to the Broncos, and the Broncos might very well be worse team in the game. I'm not sure how they are going to figure out which of these winless teams will earn the right to propose to Luck, but watching them stumble toward their unstated goal is remarkably entertaining. It might be pathetic to watch one team flail helplessly about incapable of winning a game even against other cruddy teams, but watching two moderately talented teams try to lose games without openly declaring that they are tanking brings a level of competition to it. There can be only one worst team in the league after all. At the moment my money is on Indy. Even though the Colts have a slightly tougher SOS (which might make Miami's winlessness more valuable at the end of the year) they're commitment to letting games get safely out of reach is impressive. And Miami won't always have Tim Tebow to pull them from the fire if they get too close to actually winning a game.


SPEAKING OF TEBOW

I believe in justice, and while I believe that while Tebow has ridden his verve about as far as he can in the sport of football and ought to justly be put out of his misery, I think the bigger dose of justice needs to be saved for the Bronco's fans who begged for this situation. First the didn't listen to the coach who said Tebow didn't have the stuff. Then they failed to pay attention to his atrocious play against a Miami team dead set on losing. Then after this week's putrid performance they are claiming that Fox didn't call the right plays for Tebow to have success - which is like Jimmie Johnson fans demanding that he compete in the Coca-Cola 600 on a Segway then wonder why he wasn't able to maneuver for the victory. The fans wanted this, they booed Kyle Orton onto the bench so they could have it, no they've got it and I hope they enjoy they rest of a very Tebow season.