My keeper team's annual battle with Team Hicks is almost always marked by an uninterrupted string of players on bye week. The result of this scheduling phenomenon has, for the past 4 years, been a "L" delivered to yours truly from one of the loudest mouths ever to escape from Philly to the south.
The emails, the phone calls, the restraining orders, all part of this guy's full frontal assault on my peaceful nature.
This season promised to be no different. My starting lineup would be without my best player (Calvin Johnson) and my starting tight end (Brandon Pettigrew) and my QB (Mike Vick) was playing a pass-rush happy Giants team bent on hospitalization. Team Hicks let me hear it from every available platform, which for him is a generous text messaging budget and the league's message board. He even went out of his way to pick op Vick's backup off the waiver wire just to taunt me with the promise that when Vick breaks in half, Hicks would benefit from the otherwise outstanding Philly offense.
It was at that moment that our league's most trade-crazed owner stepped in with an offer I couldn't refuse. He'd give me Matt Stafford (one of my favorites), Adrian Peterson and Vernon Davis - his 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks - for Vick, Megatron and Pettigrew, both removing my bye week blues, giving me a top tier TE and relieving me of having to constantly worry about Vick's fragile grasp on life and limb. The price - Calvin Johnson. I love CJ, but I can live with that deal.
The outcome? After a grueling match that lasted late into the night on Monday, I emerged with my first ever victory over Hicks, the lead in my division and a spirit lifted by the removal of the constant worry that dogged me ever since I traded for Vick 2 season ago. I also got my tail whipped in every single other league I'm in, but for this one victory it was all worth it.
This week's winners and losers brought to you by vanquished, annoying foes:
Cam Newton (courtesy of Team Hicks): The promise with which Cam entered this season was rivaled by almost no one. Few pundits even mentioned the possibility of a sophomore slump since Cam's freakishness surely was enough to thwart any such mystical nonsense. Or not. Until this week Cam has been at least average and last week in Atlanta we can agree that he was downright startable. But when Hicks needed him the most, Cam came unglued. At home. To the tune of 12 completions in 29 attempts and 141 yards. That's practically Sanchezian in its ineptitude. The key play, of course, being the dead, rotting duck he threw into the end zone which fell was short of its target. Thanks Cam.
Andre Johnson (courtesy of Team Hicks): My love of and devotion to AJ has been well-documented. And no one has mocked me more for said devotion than Team Hicks - right up until this year's draft that is. You can't imagine my fear going into Monday's game with a 28-point lead facing Andre and Owen Daniels. When the first drive ended with a Daniels TD and 12 points chipped from my lead, I literally started watching reruns of Family Guy rather than witness a redux of past seasons' defeats. Imagine my delight when I checked back in after midnight to find the initial flurry of activity was the only flurry of activity. Watching the remaining 3 quarters needing only 16.5 points to win must have been infuriating. Sorry, Hicks. I feel your pain. Tight Ends Everywhere: Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates. What happened to the most touted TEs in the league? This was supposed to be the dawn of the tight end, was it not? After last year's TE revolution and the way that Bill Belichick stockpiled TEs in the offseason it seemed safe to assume that we were one step closer to a league that consisted of linemen, QBs, TEs and Kickers. Guess that idea got tabled.Glad I didn't overspend for Gronk or Graham.
Michael Crabtree (courtesy of Team Hicks): If only. If only the 49ers' breakout performance of the year hadn't been sitting on my opponent's bench. Bummer, big guy. You hate to lose by 12 while you have a solid 24 points resting harmlessly off to the side. To be fair, only an insane person would have benched Andre Johnson for Michael Crabtree - but to be fairer, Hicks' sanity is questionable.
Stevan Ridley: Seriously Ridley, pick a side. Three out of five weeks including the last two weeks in a row Ridley has been outstanding. But how do you trust a RB who plays for Belichick? It's asking a lot. Of course he's leaving a lot of points on a lot of benches lately. I might be tempted to trade Ridley for Julio Jones (call me Hicks.) Ahmad Bradshaw: Don't feel too bad. You were a little worried to start Bradshaw coming off that injury. And then he promptly fumbled and you thought: "Whew, good call leaving him on the bench." Then he ran for 200 yards and a TD and now you'll never forgive yourself. Live an learn. Little known fact: Bradshaw's High School Mascot was "The G-Men." Littler known fact: mine was too.
The Bears D (courtesy of Team Hicks): If every thorn has its rose, then the Bears D was that rose. Just a dominating performance against a worthless Jaguar team. Every time I looked at the TV I saw the Bears defense running the ball into the end zone. On top of which they very nearly pitched a shutout. Adding in 2 picks, 3 sacks and a fumble recovery, the Bears D was almost enough to make up for Cam and Andre Johnson. But not quite. Sorry bud.
Jamaal Charles: We are now three weeks into his reign of terror. The biggest fear Jamaal Charles' fans had coming into this season was Peyton Hillis and how strong he looks and how he's going to split carries with Charles and dominate in the red zone. Well. Whatever.
Marques Colston: It seems like its been a long time since Colston lived up to the Hype. But in his last two starts he's been just about the best receiver in the league with almost 280 yards and 4 TDs. If the Saints can continue to keep him fed they may be able to hold on to the ragged edge of relevance. But probably not.