|"No Marcus, you still can't tweet about me."|
Also, when I said I'd employ empathy I'm afraid that I meant I'd put myself in the shoes of fantasy owners who are experiencing three distinct stages of suffering.
Stage 1) Alex Smith level suffering - Oh, did you hear that Smith left the game? Yeah, I heard something about that, too. But not only do I not need to check my line up to see if I started him, I don't need to check my opponent's line up, since neither he nor any other rational person started Smith this week.
Stage 2) Jay Cutler level suffering - Unless you are a bears fan, a relative of Brandon Marshall or you spent the first 7 rounds of your draft stockpiling running backs and wide receivers - then you aren't starting Cutler. So unless he's backing up RG3 or Double Check (in which case you were expecting a pretty huge drop off and were thus mentally prepared for it - he's playing the Texans' D after all) then this shouldn't impact your life much. Our apologies to all 16 people in America who got dinged by starting him.
Stage 3) Michael Vick level suffering - This might not be as bad as it sounds. Let's deconstruct the psyche of the Michael Vick owner. There are only two types of fantasy owners when it comes to Vick, those who are willing the bet the house that he's going to blow up with 2010-style numbers and have deluded themselves into inflating his value into that of a top tier QB, and then there are those who would rather wear fiberglass boxers than have Vick anywhere near their team. At the very least the fanatics who drafted Vick have come to realize that he's not getting that step back, and they've been preparing for the moment when Vick took a digger into the mud. In all honesty the moment he limped off to the locker room should have been a huge relief for Vick owners. The dream finally died and it's time to move on to the next phase. Whatever that phase is, as long as it doesn't include clenching your teeth every time Vick gets blindsided, cold-cocked, laid-out, beat-down and lambasted, then it's a more comfortable place.
Personally I traded Vick for Matt Stafford 6 weeks ago so I can attest to how liberating it is to have the anchor removed from my team. No one delivers the constant worry that Vick did this year. Will he throw a pick? (probably). Will he get buried under a pile of defenders and get up looking like my grandmother? (definitely). Do I have to continue to start him since you never can tell when he's going to go all week-6 and drop 300-yds and 2 TDs? (affirmative). At least now everyone can take a deep breath knowing that short of a complete meltdown Nick Foles is probably the Eagles starter from here on out.
This week's performances brought to you by ailments of the cranial region
It's just a shiner, son. Throw a ribeye on it.
1) Adrian Peterson - talk about a guy who rubbed some dirt on an injury and made it go away. AP's last 4 outings have each been 20+ point fantasy days. He has both scored and run for 100+ yards in each of those weeks and his busted ACL isn't even a year old. And while the stats are huge - it's the sense of confidence he runs with that makes you believe every time he touches the ball it's going yard.
2) Calvin Johnson - Megatron hasn't been exactly beat up, but he hasn't been exactly Megatron-y either. Well, he put that behind him with a 200+ yard, 1 TD fantasy day. And this is one of the teams that really illustrates the difference between fantasy owners and team fans. Team fans were delighted with the Lions bland but effective performance last week against the Jags - owners were outraged at the lack of production. This week the Lions fell back into their typical 3 quarter rut, sprang to life in the 4th and salvaged a good fantasy day for owners everywhere (well, maybe not Mike LeShoure owners) but they lost the game. I feel bad for Lions' fans.
3) Tony Gonzalez - read above.Congrats Gonzalez owners. Sorry about that Falcons' fans.
4) Jimmy Graham -Probably no one in their right minds ever benches a tight end of this caliber. But he's had his share of sketchy games this season. But 146 yards and 2-TDs against the Falcons wasn't one of them. Like the Saints he's rounding in to form at the exact right time for a playoff run.
That ringing in your ears means a week off, son
1) Joe Flacco - My buddy was big on the Flacco train this season. And things looked OK until about week 5. Since then he's assembled a string of positively mundane performances that have led to a mass fantasy benching. Which is a shame for those owners who left him on the bench while he was busy crafting his best performance of the year. He'll probably soil the bed next week in Pittsburgh.
2) Chris Johnson - Talk about your internal clocks.CJ must be part bear. Part reverse-bear that is. He hibernates well into the fall and then when the leaves change and the Titans are all but mathematically removed from contention he wakes up and starts chewing great defenses into the ground. He's killed the Bears, the Texans and now Miami. He's got a bye next week, hopefully he can keep himself awake.
3) Greg Olsen -Is there a trustworthy Panther? Show me one. You can't, as Greg Olsen owners learned this week. When you give up on the guy he takes it personally and almost triples his previous high score. In all fairness it's impossible to start any Panther except Cam Newton, and even that's not a great idea.
Your head's still in your helmet, son. But where'd your body go?
1) Andre Johnson - I think if I were going to draft Andre Johnson I'd try very hard to figure out how to draft Arian Foster too. I know that's probably impossible on the scale of rebuilding the transmission of a car that's falling off a cliff. But it's exactly the kind of check and balance system you need. Either one goes nuts, or the other goes nuts - and frankly it's almost always Foster this season (and last season, and the season before that). I'm a patient and trusting guy, and I love me some AJ, but after three seasons of watching Foster's taillights I'm getting the sense that Gary Kubiak would just as soon run the ball than not.
2) Miles Austin - Should you start Miles Austin? Should you sit Miles Austin? Austin and Dez Bryant are trapped in the gravitational pull that warps all reality around the Cowboys. Both are incredibly talented pros, as is their QB Tony Romo, but things happen to that offense that are often inexplicable and detrimental to good fantasy performances. The problem is that the most gifted receiver on the team is the least reliable. So Dez is getting end zone looks (then dropping every single pass - I don't care what the replay team ruled this week, that ball hit the ground.) It's like he's got 99% of it figured out, he hits the route, he makes the play on his defender, he secures the ball for a minute then right as he's about to hit the ground he wonders what's happening on Homeland, or if his mom will let him come over for Thanksgiving, or if Jerry Jones will let him go to his mom's for Thanksgiving, then he puts his hands out of bounds, or lets the ball move around a little. It's always something. I'm going to blame it on ADD (maybe if Jerry Rice grew up playing video games and sexting the way the kids do today he'd have spent his first 3 seasons dropping balls instead of making highlight reels). And for Miles Austin all that's left is some decent slot routes and that feeling of being replaced by a malfunctioning unit that needs constant care and maintenance. No wonder his hamstring aches.
3) Michael Turner - He's had exactly two good games this year and he managed to get completely stiffed by the Saints who are contractually obligated by the league to give up 400 yards a game. Time to pull the plug on that guy.