Monday, December 7, 2009
Week 13 Column: Complaining only gets you so far
As the great Joe Walsh once sang, “I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.”
That deep thought came to mind as I surveyed my results from this weekend’s games. It was one of those rare four-win weeks that never seem to cheer me as much as the four-loss weeks depress me. Perhaps that’s the sign of a good owner, always looking for ways to improve. More likely, it’s just another manifestation of my obsessive devotion to this game.
Which is why I’m kicking myself for taking the safe route in one league by benching Kurt Warner in favor of Donovan McNabb. It was the prudent thing to do, given Warner’s iffy status and late starting time, but those extra yards and TDs sure would have been sweet. With games against the 49ers, Lions and Rams up next, though, you can bet Warner will be safely entrenched in my starting lineup for the duration.
I’m glad I was prescient enough to bench the streaking Terrell Owens against Darrelle Revis for Pierre Garcon, but what was I thinking starting Donnie Avery over Roddy White? Oh yeah…I was concerned about the Falcons moving the ball against the Eagles defense. I guess I forgot that garbage-time stats count, too.
On the other hand, garbage time can be a beautiful thing, as those of us banking on Percy Harvin were reminded late Sunday night.
I should be celebrating that I was able to nab Garrett Hartley before my competitors in two leagues got wind of his ascension to the starting lineup. Instead, I’m irritated that I missed out in another league, settling instead for five measly points from Ryan Longwell.
Fortunately, none of those decisions cost me a victory – as they have in the past – or a postseason berth. But this is the time of year when lineup errors are magnified, and late-breaking developments can boost or doom your team.
No doubt, plenty of fantasy owners find themselves on the outside of the postseason looking in, thanks to faulty starting calls and untimely swoons by their key players.
Adrian Peterson’s owners surely expected more from their top pick against Arizona.
Laurence Maroney picked a rotten time to end his scoring streak, DeAngelo Williams was sorely missed, and LeSean McCoy was a bum in Atlanta. Reggie Wayne, T.O. and Mike Sims-Walker owe their owners an explanation.
But I guess I shouldn’t complain. The postseason is here. And besides, life’s been good to me so far.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch 'em while you can
Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Raiders. Since becoming Oakland’s starter three weeks ago, he has passed for 691 yards, six TDs and just one interception. Mind you, I’d rather go to a Susan Boyle concert than pick up a Raiders QB; but who’d have thunk Gradkowski would hang 308 yards and three TDs on the Steelers? He has tough matchups against the Redskins and Broncos ahead, but Week 16 at Cleveland is enticing. Don’t laugh…injuries and teams resting their studs early could make Gradkowski the latest in a perennial line of unexpected title-week heroes. Okay, you can laugh a little.
Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns. With 97 combined yards and two receiving scores against the Chargers, Harrison seems well-positioned to carry the load for the Browns down the stretch. Tasty matchups against the Chiefs and Raiders in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively, could make him a sneaky flex play for those lacking RB depth.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints. With seven touchdowns over the last five games – including yesterday’s dramatic fumble return – it’s hard to believe he is still available in roughly half of fantasy leagues. That’s undoubtedly due to the low number of targets Meachem typically sees each game. That changed dramatically Sunday when Drew Brees looked his way 10 times, connecting on eight passes for 142 yards and a score. His days as a free agent are over.
Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins. I normally steer you away from breakout receivers on run-oriented teams. But when you consider that Miami faces the sieve-like secondaries of Jacksonville, Tennessee and Houston over the next three weeks, Bess offers significant upside. Chad Henne targeted him 14 times against the Patriots, the second time he’s done so this season; so Bess is no one-week wonder.
Garrett Hartley, K, Saints. Those of us paying attention Sunday morning got a nice upgrade at the kicker position, while others were stuck with John Carney’s goose egg. After connecting on four of five field goal attempts – missing only a desperate 58-yarder at the end of regulation – Hartley appears secure in his old job, and he should continue to produce well thanks to his prolific offense.
Don’t be fooled
Daunte Culpepper, QB, Lions. Now that Matt Stafford has re-injured his non-throwing shoulder, the going-nowhere Lions are likely to shut down their franchise QB. Enter Culpepper, who hasn’t belonged on a fantasy roster since 2005. He has a great weapon in Calvin Johnson, but lacks the consistency and offensive line protection to help you in the postseason.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles. The chances of Westbrook (concussion) returning this season are getting slimmer by the day. If he does return – most likely no earlier than Week 16 – he won’t be a safe start anyway, as the team will surely ease him back slowly. If you need roster space, feel free to bid him adieu.
Devin Thomas, WR, Redskins. Might Sunday’s 100-yard, two-TD performance serve as Thomas’ long-awaited coming-out party? Perhaps, but don’t expect a repeat performance any time soon. Washington’s passing game can’t be trusted, every matchup is a tough one for the Redskins, and the second-year wideout has been a disappointment up till now.