Monday, November 9, 2009
Week 9 column: Close encounters of the fantasy kind
As a nationally syndicated fantasy columnist, I am in constant contact with the subjects of my columns. As far as you know…
For example, JaMarcus Russell called to tell me he thought he had another “pretty good game” yesterday. I reminded him that this was his bye week, but he said “that’s not my fault” and hung up.
Kurt Warner sent an email thanking me for the show of support in Friday’s “Starters & Benchwarmers” column, following his five-interception implosion the previous Sunday. “You’re welcome,” I replied. “But would it kill you to give Beanie a red-zone carry once in a while?”
Smilin’ Miles Austin (above) left me a voice mail saying he liked the nickname I coined for him in last week’s column. “I hope it catches on,” he said. Then he asked if I thought “Killjoy Roy” could work for any of his teammates.
LaDainian Tomlinson texted last night asking me to pass along this message to his fantasy owners: “I just turned 30. What were you expecting?”
Eli Manning forwarded me a link to his hotel reservations in Miami for Super Bowl weekend and asked if I was interested. Said he had just booked a tee time in Arizona instead.
I sent a letter last Thursday to the Steelers’ club offices addressed to Fast Willie Parker. It came back with a “Return to Sender” stamp and a note that read “Nobody fitting that description works here.”
I called Steve Slaton to congratulate him on getting into the end zone against the Colts. “Thanks,” he said, “but can you believe Moats fumbled at the goal-line? Dude cost us the game!” That was weird.
Brett Favre called to say he had been pondering his future over the bye week and had made up his mind to return to the Vikings again next season. Then he just started laughing hysterically and said “Just kidding.”
Had a voice mail message when I woke up. “Hey, it’s Olsen. Thanks for chatting with Cutler for me. I think he gets it now.”
I called Jamal Lewis to congratulate him on a fine career and wished him well in retirement. “Thanks, but I’m not retiring until after the season,” he replied. “Oh, I thought…um...never mind.”
Got a tweet from Chad Ochocinco. Actually, I got about 60 of them. That guy needs a wife.
Steven Jackson called and asked if I had any good quarterback recommendations. “I didn’t know you played fantasy football,” I said. “I don’t,” he replied. That was awkward.
I tried calling, emailing, texting and even sent an instant message to Willis McGahee. Nothing. His neighbors said they haven’t seen him either, and his lawn hasn’t been mowed in weeks. Very disturbing.
Larry Johnson sent me a text this morning after he got the news of his release from the Chiefs. Unfortunately, I can’t print it here; but, for the record, Larry: No, I’m not.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a perfect draft. But assuming you missed the mark at some point, tapping into the free agent pool can help significantly. Here’s a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else’s line-up.
Catch ‘em while you can
Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins. I’ve been preaching all season to Clinton Portis’ owners that they’d better have Betts waiting in the wings. My concern was primarily over Portis’ various leg ailments, but it was a scary-looking concussion that knocked the starter out of the game. Betts responded nicely with 93 combined yards and a TD; and though he draws a tough assignment against Denver next weekend, it’s safe to assume he’ll carry the load while Portis recuperates.
Chris Chambers, WR, Chiefs. I wasn’t surprised to see the Chargers’ castoff reel in three catches in his first game as a Chief. But the two touchdowns, including one spanning 54 yards, were a shock. The nine-year veteran is clearly past his prime, but he could be worth a spot start in favorable matchups if he continues to build rapport with Matt Cassel.
Don’t be fooled
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers. You have to like what he did in his first career start, racking up 201 yards and a trio of scoring strikes while leading the Bucs to their first victory of the season. But you don’t have to pluck him off the waiver wire. Rookie passers experience far more ups than downs – just ask Mark Sanchez and Matthew Stafford – and the talent surrounding Freeman is about as thin as it gets.
Jason Hill, WR, 49ers. With Vernon Davis finally making the most of his talents, Michael Crabtree still learning the pro game, and Alex Smith being, well, Alex Smith, San Francisco is fortunate to have two receivers worthy of fantasy consideration. Hill’s four receptions and two TDs were his first of the season in both categories, so steer clear of this shooting star.
James Jones, WR, Packers. Sunday marked the first time this season that Jones caught more than two balls in a game. Though he now has three touchdowns on the year, his all-or-nothing production makes him too risky for most fantasy rosters. As long as Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are healthy, Jones should remain a free agent.