Monday, September 26, 2011

Stop screaming; it’s merely a flesh wound

Remember the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo is frozen in carbonite in mid-scream? That’s how I pictured Mike Vick’s owners, myself included, upon hearing that he’d broken his hand while taking another pummeling on Sunday.

Now, I realize the Star Wars reference only reinforces the image of the stereotypical fantasy “geek,” but I’m not worried about being bullied. It’s Vick’s broken bones that could hurt me.

Fortunately, the news isn’t as bone-chilling as first reported. Vick’s non-throwing right hand is bruised and badly swollen, but not broken. He’ll be iffy heading into this weekend, but a month-long absence is no longer in the cards.

But you can’t help wondering if Vick is playing on borrowed time, given the heavy punishment he keeps absorbing. While his extended loss wouldn’t necessarily cause an offensive tailspin like that experienced by the Manning-less Colts, those counting on DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin must be concerned. Whether the underachieving Vince Young or the inexperienced Mike Kafka took over, the Eagles’ wide-open offense wouldn’t be nearly as explosive. Opposing defenses would shift their attention squarely on budding superstar LeSean McCoy, who might find his running lanes much more clogged.

But Vick’s owners aren’t the only ones sporting the Solo shriek these days. Run into a Chris Johnson or Arian Foster owner lately? They’re easy to spot with the dark cloud hovering over their heads.

Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson is feeling so good, he’s pledged $5,000 for every touchdown he scores to help at-risk youth through his All Day Foundation. The “Football for Good” campaign, launched this weekend in tandem with Hollywood A-listers Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, is the rare off-field story you like to hear from a star athlete. Jackson and Dallas Clark have even agreed to match Peterson’s pledges.

In appreciation for the three touchdowns Peterson has already delivered in two of my leagues, the Chief Fool has pitched in at the online fundraising site ( Imagine the difference 25 million fantasy fanatics could collectively make by “giving back” to Peterson’s cause? Hey, it might even help shed our nerdy image…


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

Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers. Owners of Frank Gore will want to hedge their bets with Hunter, who totaled 38 yards and a touchdown after the starter injured his ankle. Following the game, Gore talked like a guy who didn’t expect to play in Week 4. The Niners have not had much success on the ground thus far, though; so Hunter is only a stop-gap measure.

Bernard Scott, RB, Bengals. With Cedric Benson headed for a three-game suspension, Scott will be the Bengals’ interim starter. Though Brian Leonard should see some carries as well, Scott is the more explosive back. More important, if Scott gets hot, Benson’s starting job might not be waiting for him in Week 7.

Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens. When you rack up 133 yards and three scores on your first three NFL receptions, you attract a measure of attention. The speedy rookie won’t jump ahead of Lee Evans (ankle) into a starting job overnight, mostly due to his reputation for inconsistency; but he has surely secured a spot on Joe Flacco’s radar.

Nate Washington, WR, Titans. Just as I was preparing to recommend Matt Hasselbeck, who currently ranks tenth among fantasy passers, Kenny Britt suffered what appears to be a season-ending knee injury. While Hasselbeck’s stock takes a hit with the loss of the AFC’s leading receiver, Washington’s soars. He tallied eight receptions for 92 yards and a TD on Sunday.

Don’t be fooled

Vince Young, QB, Eagles. If Vick sits out the Week 4 contest with the 49ers, Young could get the starting nod. But Kafka was called upon after Vick went down Sunday, so perhaps he’ll be the man. Young hasn’t been fantasy-relevant since his rookie year in 2006. Kafka has 107 passing yards and two interceptions on his NFL resume. I’ll turn to my bench for help this week.

Roy Williams, WR, Bears. Three weeks ago, I set the over/under on Williams losing his starting job to Johnny Knox at five weeks. If you took the under, you’re sitting pretty. After dropping every pass he touched on Sunday, Williams should be on your waiver wire today.

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