Pondering the postseason possibilities

On Fantasy Football

December 02, 2004|By DAVID ALEXANDER

Say so long to Martin Gramatica, Tom Brokaw, that amazing Jeopardy guy, Ken Jennings, and the turkey-induced Thanksgiving semi-coma.

Bring on Julius Jones, endless reruns of 'A Christmas Story,' intolerably long lines at the Best Buy and, well, the leftover turkey-induced December semi-coma.

A new season is upon us, and just in time for the fantasy football postseason.

In a standard fantasy football format, Week 13 generally marks the end of the regular season, with the playoffs contested in Weeks 14-16. This is do-or-die time. Seasons are on the line.

But even after 12 weeks of studying box scores, analyzing matchups and deciphering injury reports, I'll admit to having more questions than answers right now (or are they answers phrased in the form of a question? Think about that for a minute).

For instance, will Priest Holmes, Chris Brown or Todd Heap return in time to make a difference in the fantasy postseason? I have my doubts about all three, whose respective injuries have lingered longer than anyone projected. The conspiracy theorists are popping up in Baltimore, where a 2-4 week speed bump has turned into a 10-week sabbatical for Heap. More on this topic later.

Can the post-bruised sternum Steve McNair be trusted as an every-week fantasy starter? More doubts. The three first-half touchdown passes were encouraging. The three turnovers and postgame retirement talk, not so encouraging.

And what becomes of Jerome Bettis, who has four consecutive 100-yard games and has matched a career high with 11 TDs? He deserves the Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year Award (with apologies to Curtis Martin), but he's going back to sharing time with the now-fit Duce Staley.

For some more definitive insight, we turn to everybody's favorite tailback-turned-holistic hippie. Ricky Williams, who's shacking up somewhere in Northern California and looking an awful lot like Mr. T these days, had this to say in a recent interview with a writer from Sports Illustrated:

"There's so much stimuli coming at you in this world, and all of it combines to distract people from what is true and pure and real," Ricky said. "One day I woke up and I realized that I was part of the distraction."

Right on.

"At least I quit before all the fantasy drafts," he added. "Let's face it - if I'd quit after the drafts, the fans would all hate me."

For those who are too legit to quit, best of luck this week and beyond. Get those rosters set and get ready for the most wonderful time of the fantasy year.

Also, submit your questions - preferably about fantasy football, though I'll consider inquiries regarding eggnog recipes, modern American literature and recent episodes of 'Trading Spouses' - and check back next week for a pre-playoff fantasy Q&A.

Quick hitters

I'm not sure which is more surprising: Browns backup QB Kelly Holcomb throwing five touchdowns in his first start of the season, or Holcomb throwing five TDs - and the Browns losing. Is it any wonder Butch Davis is looking for work?

Holcomb ranked second in fantasy scoring last week (behind - who else? - Peyton Manning) with his five TDs. Jeff Garcia - the player signed to replace Holcomb - threw in 10 games. With Garcia out or at least two more weeks, maybe longer, Holcomb was a popular pickup earlier in the week. But it looks like he's one and done this year after being diagnosed with cracked ribs. Bring on Luke McCown, who has the privilege of facing the Patriots in his first career start.

Those who tuned in to ESPN on Sunday night got a Mile High surprise - and I'm not talking about the snow. Not only did Raiders receiver Jerry Porter catch three TD passes in less than ideal playing conditions, he did it against one of the league's top shut-down corners, Champ Bailey. This from a guy who had three TDs total in his past 25 games.

Porter, who plans to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, made some eyebrow raising comments last week about using this year's remaining games to audition for the NFL's 31 other teams. With Kerry Collins finally getting a good grasp of the Oakland offense, Porter's definitely worthy of a short-term role on your fantasy team. If he's a free agent in your league, sign him up immediately.

The irrelevant injury of the week goes to Buffalo backfield afterthought Travis Henry, whose leg was broken on Sunday, then miraculously not broken on Monday. Does it matter? Since Willis McGahee took over the starting running back role in Week 8, the Bills have averaged 28.2 points per game, up from 12.8 in Weeks 1-7. McGahee has run for seven touchdowns in his five starts, matching the number of rushing TDs Buffalo had in its previous 18 games. McGahee ranks fourth in fantasy scoring among running backs over the last four weeks, behind Domanick Davis, Michael Pittman and LaDanian Tomlinson.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.