Days like Sunday, October 10th, 2004 in the NFL are the reason this is such a great game and the reason fantasy football owners seem a bit manic on game day. One minute I am comfortably ensconced in the thrashing of a previously unbeaten (and mercilessly bragging) owner, the next (measured in eight game minutes) Marc Bulger literally threw my win into doubt with 2 touchdowns in the final 5:32 of the fourth quarter and the game winner 3 minutes into overtime. I lead by more than 25 points and then “boom” I need ten points from Javon Walker to snatch victory from defeat. Luckily for me Walker came through and the thrashing was officially in the books at 121-109.
Priest Holmes on a bye and Brett Favre in mourning combined to hand me my only loss in the Fantasy Academy Xpert League. A mediocre game from Hines Ward and Travis Henry’s ankle finished the job as I went down 78-100.
After a miserable 0 and 3 start in the Atlantic Hammerhead League I started wondering about a move down the ladder and away from the Showcase Leagues. Thanks to the free agent pickup and start of Reuben Droughns and a stellar week from Eric Johnson, I’m 2-3 and suddenly there is hope.
Even better, I beat Action this week…which made victory just a little sweeter.
The Great White Shark Showcase League is the creme de la creme of fantasy football. The ultimate swimming with the Sharks. It’s new and bold and about damned time. A community of smack talkers competing in a gigantic king of the hill competition. For a year the person standing on top can beat his (or her) chest and all the rest of us can do is wish it were us at the top of the heap. And if it’s her we all want lawn chairs and coolers of beer so we can watch.
Hey, we’re guys. It’s part of our DNA.
Talk about a melt down. The Seahawks blew a lead harder than Mount St. Helens popped her top. For fifty two minutes Rams receivers were covered like butter on toast. Seattle’s defense apparently had chalked up the W and walked off the field, because suddenly the Rams were so wide open I could have completed passes to them. St. Louis chose that moment to attack, and while Holt and Bruce owners watched in disbelief, Marc Bulger threw three quick strikes to names like Manumaleuna, Curtis and McDonald, the last one in overtime to seal an improbable victory.
Props to <gasp> two tight ends not named Gonzalez. Antonio Gates has been everything and more coming into the season. The second year pro from Kent State has already surpassed what many tight ends get in a full season, with 31 grabs for for 342 yards and 3 touchdowns, all three having come in the last two games. Gonzo in comparison sits at 18 grabs for 228 yards and one touchdown. Now is the time to try to make that trade, as Kansas City has turned the corner and you can expect Gonzo to go off soon. The real story early on however is 49’er tight end Eric Johnson. Johnson has emerged as the team’s go to guy, reminding me of former Dallas Cowboy Jay Novacek. An athletic receiver with great hands, Johnson isn’t in the game primarily for his blocking skills. If you sat him this week because he was listed as questionable you missed out on a 13 catch, 162 yard marvel that included one touchdown. For leagues that give a point per reception, it was a huge game from the tight end spot.
Tiki Barber now leads the NFL in rushing and yards from scrimmage after the fifth week of the season. More importantly, he hasn’t fumbled once. I probably jinxed him just now, so Barber owners beware!
Barber has 577 yards rushing, averaging 115.4 yards per game. Add 3.8 receptions and 48 yards per game and Barber is the reason the Giants are 4-1 and only a half game behind the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. The Giants only loss came in the season opener at Philly, making their week 12 rematch in the Meadowlands a game of potentially epic importance in the battle for a division championship and possible home field advantage.
Finally, Tim Rattay’s heroics edged out those of Marc Bulger only because Bulger is being paid the big bucks after signing a four year contract that included a hefty nine million dollar signing bonus. Rattay threw for 412 yards and two touchdowns, both in the final 4:32 of the fourth quarter, and converted two two-point plays during that same stretch to lead the Niners to their first win of the season. Rattay has been on my radar all season, and it looks like his off-season injury problems are over for now. Rattay makes San Francisco a more dangerous team so don’t be surprised if they rise to mediocre from just plain horrible for the rest of the season.
Week Five Sharks and Chum
Tim Rattay, Marc Bulger, Daunte Culpepper, David Carr, Byron Leftwich
Props to Culpepper, who only threw for five touchdowns and 396 yards. David Carr has officially arrived this season as he and Andre Johnson continue to show they are one of the top duo’s in the league and will be for years to come.
Kerry Collins, Vinny Testaverde, Michael Vick, Mark Brunell, Joey Harrington. Collins continues to disappoint, with his second straight game throwing three picks. Tom Brady statistically stunk up the place, but he didn’t need to do much as the Patriots easily handled the Dolphins therefore doesn’t make this weeks chum list. Honorable mention to Jeff Garcia, who continues to under perform in Cleveland.
Tiki Barber, Reuben Droughns, Mewelde Moore, Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James.
Droughns actually out gained Tiki in yards from scrimmage, 211-198 in his first start of the season. It looks as if the Q watch is officially over. Droughns has the size and speed and has emerged as the next in a long line of Denver running back surprises. Don’t be surprised to see him get the majority of the carries for the balance of the season, barring any injury. Honorable mention to Deuce McAllister, who returned from a high ankle sprain, surprising many owners with his first 100 yard game of the season.
Any back from Cleveland, Clinton Portis, Kevan Barlow, Travis Henry, Marshall Faulk. This was supposed to be a star-studded lineup, but after five games all but Faulk have been huge disappointments. Cleveland is just terrible, with RBBC stamped all over an inept offense.
Andre Johnson, Marcus Robinson, Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, Javon Walker
Johnson continues to impress. With Anquan Boldin sidelined, Andre emerges from his shadow after an impressive rookie season and is a top five receiver so far this year. Warning to owners of Robinson and Burress. Robinson’s stats last year came from only a couple games, including a game against the Seahawks where he caught 4 TD passes.
De ja vu.
Randy Moss is still the top option in Minnesota, so expect erratic point totals on a weekly basis. Burress has seen a steady advance in points this year, but I’m not convinced he’s put his troubles behind him.
Rod Gardner, Donte Stallworth, Roy Williams, Laverneaus Coles, Marvin Harrison
Surprises continue at this position as some high expectations have, for the most part, been full of hot air. Williams has had a good season, but this week was a huge let down for most owners. Harrison continues to lose catches to Stokely and Wayne as his currency is significantly devalued.
Johnson, Gates, Manumaleuna, Ken Dilger, Jeremy Shocky
Shockey has been consistent this season, and has two back to back solid weeks to move out of the dog house and into the starting lineup.
If you don’t get a point per reception, this becomes a long list.