Fantasy Wootball: That's Gotta Hurt

by Randall Cleveland

Hoo boy. Remember that "ultra stacked" team I was all excited about? Peyton Manning! Chris Johnson! Peyton Hillis! Dwayne Bowe! What were these jokers thinking, letting me draft all these great players? My confidence wasn't even shaken when it turned out Chris Johnson wouldn't play football unless everyone in the state of Tennessee gave him $100. "Feh," I thought, "I've still got Peyton 'Points Machine' Manning. And the rest of my running backs ain't bad at all." Then it turned out Peyton Manning needed some Frankenstein bolts put into his neck or his head was going to roll right off the top of his body. "Hmm," I thought, "this is going to be closer than I thought." Well it turns out my fears were unjustified because it wasn't close at all!

In fact, I got my ass pretty thoroughly handed to me. 

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My witty slogan did NOTHING!


There's a lot of blame to go around, and obviously none of it is my own so I'm left to foist it on the players. Dwayne Bowe (1. Freaking. Point.), along with the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs, forgot there was a football game on Sunday. Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur refused to use 240 lb. running back Peyton Hillis (8 points) near the goal line (and if you don't know American football, this would be like opting to throw away your hammer and try to drive a nail with your face instead). I knew Chris Johnson (4 points) wouldn't put up gaudy numbers since he missed all of training camp and the preseason with a contract dispute, but at the last minute I decided to play him anyway, and I was punished for it. Ben Roethlisberger (8 points) basically took my fantasy football team into a bar bathroom and forced himself on it in unspeakable ways, including THREE interceptions.

It was an all day, up and down butt kicking. 

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Pro tip: there should never be zeroes on your team's point totals.

There were bright spots, though. Michael Turner put up 17 points even without scoring a touchdown and even with a fumble. Anquan Boldin (13 points) and Stevie Johnson (12 points), my receivers who actually bothered to play, put up decent numbers. Jason Witten (16 points) was on fire and could have been a difference maker had he gotten a TD or two. And Tim Hightower (15 points), a guy I picked up at the last minute as insurance against the uncertainty of Daniel Thomas (0 points, didn't even play, may have lost his chance to start), would've looked great had I not left him on the bench.

And speaking of bench, now I'm stuck with Peyton Manning, who's out for at least two months (and therefore probably half the season) with his neck injury. Yahoo has mercifully taken him off the "Can't Cut" list, allowing me to ditch him, but what if he comes back just in time for a late season push? If anyone can bounce back from a neck surgery and be just as good as he was before, my money's on Peyton Manning. I'm not a huge fan of the guy or anything, he just has a bizarre, borderline-autistic dedication and focus when it comes to studying, preparing for, and playing football. The guy's a savant.

Or maybe he just watches a lot of helpful instructional videos.

But I need performers on my team NOW. Do I cut him, so that someone else can inevitably swoop in and snatch him up and possibly burn me with him weeks down the road? Or do I absorb the roster hit and limp through the season with only one serviceable quarterback (as soon as I ditch Big Ben) and hope Manning comes back at 100%?

Currently I'm scheduled to use four of my five roster moves for the week already. I won't say who I'm picking up, because with my position in the waiver wire someone in my league who reads this could try to block me. But what to do about Peyton Manning? 

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And which of these goons do I take in his place if I do drop him?