Thursday - Oct 22, 2020

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Keeping Ahead: Understudyin’

When is the last time you went to see a theater production?

I’m not talking the one your niece is in, with a 99-cent, wrinkled backdrop and half of the nearby nursing home acting as sugarplum fairies. I mean a true, Broadway-type production, with big-name actors popping off the marquee.

It is an exciting experience to say the least. You dress up in your finest sport coat or skirt, have a nice meal at a restaurant that doesn’t have a drive-thru window, and walk into a beautiful, ornate complex that harkens back to a day when we weren’t worrying about selfies or tweets.

[Side note: Are you aware that more people die from selfies every year than shark attacks??? Let that sink in a little bit. Where we once had the Jaws theme song to scare us at night, now we have the fear of missing out on that one great profile pic while dangling over a 50-foot crevice. If I were a shark, I would be profoundly embarrassed by this statistic]

Ok, back to the theater.

You grab your program and settle into your very expensive rented seat for the evening and glance at your loved one with a smile as you hear the live orchestra tuning up in the pit in front of you. “I’m great,” you think to yourself, as you contemplate all the Sundays you will get in the future to watch football as a result of these two tickets to see a legitimate Broadway performance.

Then you hear this: “Tonight, expected Broadway star will be replaced by crappy understudy that only her/his family has ever heard of and even they are not that impressed and feel she/he should have stayed in Law school and gotten a “real” job.

Enjoy the show.”


Suddenly, that loving, confident glance to your significant other turns to panic. You quickly envision chores piling up right as the Sunday games are about to start, Bar Mitzvah’s to attend, FAMILY TIME WHERE YOU TURN OFF THE T.V. & TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS.

No. This cannot be happening. How did this go so wrong?

Every year, this is the panic I feel about two weeks after the fantasy draft as the NFL season starts to play musical chairs with all your well-researched predictions and expectations.

You expected prime rib from your first few rounds of the draft. You’ve ended up having to put gas station purchased pork rinds into your starting lineup. It isn’t pretty.

This always begs the question: should we have known better? After all, a quick phone call or a little more research would probably have informed you whether or not the lead actor were being replaced that evening, and instead of hearing about the co-worker your wife can’t stand, you could be relaxing with a beverage in a Red Zone-induced football coma.

Perhaps we have seen this happen before …

In 2015, the role of Stevan Ridley will be played by: Jeremy Hill

Bengals RB Jeremy Hill.

As a longtime Ridley supporter, the benching of Jeremy Hill last week gave me Tarantino-style flashbacks. Simply put, you can’t drop the football and expect to retain your starting job. Add to that, options in the backfield that catch the ball more efficiently (Giovani Bernard), his lumbering style, and a relatively short amount of time as the lead dog, and Hill owners may have their very own Belichickian nightmare on their hands.

In 2015, the role of C.J. Spiller will be played by: Eddie Lacy

Undeniable talent. Three-down back skills. Potent offenses. CAN’T. STAY. HEALTHY. If it feels like you rushed to your waiver wire last year to pick up James Starks after an early-season Lacy injury, it should. It seems to happen every year. Spiller, while talented in space and competent between the tackles, seemed to constantly be replaced by the more reliable Fred Jackson a few years ago in Buffalo and now is stuck in a timeshare with Mark Ingram in New Orleans. He is worth the risk, but you can’t expect him to stay upright.

In 2015, the role of Montee Ball will be played by: C.J. Anderson

Shudder. Remember waaaaaaay back in 2014 when Montee Ball was a potential top-5 pick in fantasy drafts? Remember waaaaaaaay back in 2015 when Anderson was the same? I am not giving up on Anderson quite yet, as: 1) I believe his toe injury, offensive line issues, and Peyton Manning’s general anti-coach Gary Kubiak-ness are huge factors to his disappointing start; and 2) because I just traded for him. But if it does happen, and Ronnie Hillman becomes the starter, can any of us truly say we are surprised?

In 2015, the role of Trent Richardson will be played by: DeMarco Murray

Other than that little thing known as the 2014 rushing title, what makes us all sure that DeMarco Murray is, in fact, a great running back? He played behind the best offensive line in football last year, carried the ball an obscene 392 times, and managed to stay on the field for a full 16-game slate for the first time in his short career. But does that mean he is an excellent runner, or just had a great year? Invoking the name of Trent Richardson is akin to insulting someone’s momma, I know, but Murray has half as many rushing yards this year (11) as Julio Jones has catches (22). Don’t worry about the comparability of those two statistics; just realize it ain’t good.

In 2015, the role of Doug Martin will be played by: Justin Forsett

“They are who we thought they were … and we let ‘em off the hook!” – Dennis Green

In 2015, the role of Toby Gerhart will be played by: Alfred Morris

Let’s be honest – none of us felt good about Gerhart last year. But suddenly, after years of playing behind Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, Gerhart got his chance to shine down in Jacksonville where he would be the true lead back. He shined like a sunbaked turd. He was slow, gave you nothing in the passing game, and the franchise seemed to constantly be looking elsewhere for a starter, but seemed beholden to their big-contract plodder out of pure stubbornness. Sound familiar?

In 2015, the role of Reggie Bush will be played by: Ameer Abdullah

See Anderson, C.J., above. We’ve seen the Detroit Lions do this before. And here we are again.

In 2015, the role of Zac Stacy will be played by: LeGarrette Blount

They even kind of look the same don’t they? Plus, they share the fact that neither are very good. Isn’t that sweet?

Lesson in all this? Not sure. Guess you are going to that 2-year old’s birthday party this Sunday after all.

About MJ Brown

MJ Brown has been an avid fantasy football keeper league enthusiast and player for over a decade. A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, MJ delivers weekly content on multiple platforms, bringing a combination of advice, humor, and tips to keep your team at the top of your league.