Spice up your postseason with Buffalo Wild Wings and 10 Yards on DVD

I’ve been meaning to get to a giveaway for some time now, but wrapping up my fantasy football leagues and trash-talking the ones in which I won the championship — it’s a requirement of any champion, you know — took more of my free hours than expected last week. With the fantasy season coming to a close (unless you’re playing playoff fantasy football with FF Librarian), I still have a few prizes to give out to you, my awesome readers.

And so, I’ve come up with an idea for a contest.

Buffalo Wild WingsThose of you who stopped by every week, reading my articles and probably not laughing at all the witty banter I thought was entertaining, deserve to get something for sticking it out. So here’s what I’ve got:

  1. A bottle of your very own Buffalo Wild Wings sauce. I’ve chosen Mango Habanero because, as long as you can stand the burn, it’s the tastiest sauce at BWW. Trust me.
  2. 10 Yards: Fantasy Football on DVD. This movie documented our addicting habit, and I reviewed it earlier this season. Now, you can own it and get a chance to review it for yourself in the comments.

How do you get your hands on one of these lovely treats? Well, we’re going to play a game. Mind the bold.

To enter the contest, in the comments below this post, tell me which NFL player will have the best fantasy performance this weekend in the Wild Card games. All offensive players are eligible, including quarterbacks, but don’t go picking a team defense or an IDP player. For the detail-oriented, assume standard ESPN scoring will be used to judge who had the best game.

Please also tell me whether you would prefer to receive the bottle of wing sauce (Mango Habanero!) or the 10 Yards DVD. Just say “Mango Habanero!” or “10 Yards DVD!” in your comment. Yes, you can only win one. I know you want them both, but hey, we must share the wealth.

Example Submission: Chris Johnson. Mango Habanero!

(And no, those of you who copy my example answer will be awarded no points, will not pass go, and will not collect $200, especially since the Titans did not make the playoffs.)

I know our comments can be edited, which means you sneaky devils can change your answer, but any edits you make to your comment must be finalized by the time the Jets and Bengals kickoff at 4:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, Jan. 9 (my birthday, by the way).

If you edit your comment after 4:30 p.m. Eastern Saturday, it will be ineligible for the contest, and you shall feel the shame of cheating to win wing sauce or a DVD. That’s some kind of shame.

It also goes without saying that you can only enter once. But there, I said it anyway.

After the final Wild Card game on Sunday, I’ll review the comments and pick our two winners. The first commenter selected will get their preference on the prize, and the second selection will just have to live with the sloppy seconds.

If exactly two of you guess correctly, those two will be our winners, and my job will be easy. If more than two of you guess the best fantasy performance, I’ll select two from the pool of correct commenters at random. If less than two (or none) of you guess the right guy, I’ll move on to those who guessed the second-highest fantasy performance correctly and so on, choosing a comment at random if we have a pool of more than two to choose from until we have two winners.

Hopefully, we won’t have to go as far as the fifth, sixth, or seventh-best fantasy performance, right?

So get your comment in now. Feel free to go out on a limb. Just don’t do anything too crazy like guess Wes Welker (injured, as if you didn’t know). Best of luck to you all and thanks for reading Fantasy Football Fools this season.

As an added thank you to Buffalo Wild Wings for not only providing a bottle of sauce for this contest (and myself) but also including me in their All-Star Bloggers League this season, let me also make you aware of the promotion they’re running right now on gift cards…

Does your deadbeat fantasy football leaguemate still owe you $5? Rather than abuse his voicemail relentlessly, just use his next gift-giving occasion to buy a $25 gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings, which earns you a $5 gift card in the process.

Buffalo Wild Wings - Buy $25 Gift Card, Get $5 Back

That’ll show him.

Thanks again for reading, and best of luck in this week’s contest.

Disclosure: Buffalo Wild Wings provided the sauce as a sample, and I am not obligated to return it [http://cmp.ly/2]. I received a review copy of 10 Yards: Fantasy Football that I am not obligated to return and received permission to give it away after my review was complete [http://cmp.ly/1].

UPDATE: Congrats to our winners wingateg3 (10 Yards DVD) and ericdickens (Mango Habanero!)

Foolish Thoughts on 2009 Season: So why didn’t we all draft Chris Johnson?

It’s insanity. That’s what fantasy football is when it comes to the playoffs. Jonathan Stewart and Jerome Harrison become huge fantasy steals in the final two games, and studs that you’ve depending on all season like Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers clam up and shut down early, even in blowout wins. At least Chris Johnson has continued to be magical every week.

I forget how bizarre it really becomes until it’s this time of year again.

Now Harrison will likely compel some fantasy footballers to draft him as an RB3 or maybe even an RB2 next season. Jamaal Charles could be right up there with him. We can only hope that neither is next year’s Steve Slaton or Pierre Thomas, hot in the playoffs but average or inconsistent the following season when given the full responsibility and trust of fantasy owners.

In Charles’ case, I think he’s got a real chance to thrive in the Kansas City offense as long as the current coaching staff stays intact. He’s a great receiving back, and even if the Chiefs decide that they need to bring in a bigger runner to take some of the carries and compliment Charles in the offseason — LenDale White is available, or so I hear — Charles should get plenty of chances to put up big numbers as part of the explosive offense Todd Haley is trying to create.

Out of the five fantasy football leagues I played in this season, I made the playoffs in three and had the chance to play for three championships this week. Of those, I won two and lost one by just a single point (as long as current calculations hold up) after Peterson racked up those two short-yardage touchdowns last night. It was incredibly frustrating, but I can’t be completely unhappy with the results. Even losing that one championship game out of three, this year has been my best season so far.

And next season, I want to focus even more on the leagues that were truly competitive. I’ve reduced the number of leagues I played in over the past two seasons. This year, I was down to five, and next season, I’ll probably take it down another league or two until I find the sweet spot for managing leagues, writing fantasy football analysis, and enjoying the game.

Here are some questions you can answer in the comments below: How many leagues do you play in? Do you find it more fun to play in a small number of leagues or as many as possible? These are the decisions I always debate this time of year.

I think I’m one of the few fantasy football fans out there, especially among fantasy football bloggers, who cares more about their real team winning (in my case, the Cowboys) than their fantasy team. It excited me to no end when the Cowboys shutout the Redskins last night and secured a playoff spot.

I wasn’t nearly as pumped when my fantasy football teams made the playoffs. Satisfied? Yes, but excited? Not off-the-wall excited. That said, it wasn’t a close call for any of them either. I knew weeks in advance that I was bound for the playoffs.

I’d hope we’re all fans of the game and the action-packed saga that is the NFL. If not for it, we wouldn’t have fantasy football.

So even if you lost your league, even if you got shot down in the championship game, even if your league dues were wasted as soon as you drafted Brian Westbrook and Matt Forte, I hope you’ll sit down and watch a few more games next week and deep into the playoffs.

Playoff football is a treat that only comes around once each year, much like the holiday season that just passed. Our presents? The Super Bowl, one of the most extravagant and exciting sporting events in all the land.

If you truly want to win in fantasy football, I think you first have to love the game because you have to understand how to translate what you watch and get excited about on the field into what works on your fantasy roster. So sit down, crack open a cold one (or a nice, frosty beverage of a less alcoholic persuasion if that’s your thing), and enjoy some football over the next month.

Of course, it’d be nice to know you’re all doing it with a championship trophy on your mantel, like me, but if you didn’t win, there’s no shame in cheering your fantasy studs on to a Super Bowl as you start to prep for next season.

And don’t feel like the fantasy season has to end. I’ll still be posting to Fantasy Football Fools because we have to start looking ahead to 2010 and because I still have some prizes to give to you, my dear readers. If you need help with Week 17 decisions (for those terrible, terrible leagues that go into the dreaded final week of the regular season), drop me a line on Twitter or in the comments.

Thanks again for reading Fantasy Football Fools this season and being part of the foolish community. Stay tuned for more over the coming days. Even if you didn’t win your championship, you deserve to take home some prizes.

Why the Colts Won’t Win the Super Bowl

I usually don’t write these kinds of posts, the ones that look at just one particular team’s chances in the NFL playoffs, but considering the fantasy season is winding to a close, I felt compelled to share my take on one of this week’s big storylines.

In the midst of a 15-10 third quarter with the Jets this week, the Colts, on the path to perfection, decided to sit their starters, Peyton Manning included, rather than push through to finish the game with a chance to go undefeated next week. The Colts had the lead at the time, but they by no means had the game locked up, especially not when their backup quarterback, rookie Curtis Painter, was ill-prepared to control the clock against a New York Jets team fighting to remain in the playoff hunt.

Coach Jim Caldwell had to know what would happen if he pulled his team out of the game with the score still so close.

The Colts lost in brutal fashion. First, Painter was stripped for a fumble that the Jets recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Painter would later be intercepted, and the Colts never scored again. The Jets just ran away with it, right in front of the Colts’ starters’ eyes as they watched from the bench.

All the while, the highly competitive Peyton Manning stood on the sidelines, helmet on, brooding over what might have been had he stayed in the game.

It’s one thing to sit your starters. It’s another to spit in the face of a record that’s almost impossible to reach.

Earlier this season, Michael Irvin said that he would trade all three Super Bowl rings and his Hall of Fame membership for one undefeated season, a notch on the belt that only one NFL team in the history of the game has ever had.

But the Colts, just a little more than five quarters away from being perfect through the regular season, decided it wasn’t worth another quarter of play. It wasn’t worth the risk of injury.

Without any consideration for the fact that when the Manning-led Colts won a Super Bowl, the Colts were coming off a regular season in which they didn’t rest starters and entered as a Wild Card, Caldwell opted to let his primary players take a breather for the big one.

I don’t think that players get rusty. Some NFL stars don’t practice much in the offseason and come in Week 1 ready to dominate, but there’s something to be said for playing it out all the way to the end, especially when you have something to accomplish. I think the teams that have the momentum on their side should keep that momentum by at least playing until a win is secured in their final games.

By giving up on a historic record, and doing so in such a brutal fashion by feeding a rookie quarterback to the wolves of an attacking defense, the Colts got their spirit broken, their dreams crushed, and no lollipop when it was finished.

Peyton Manning had to watch as a rookie quarterback blew apart his perfect season in just a little less than two quarters of play. In his entire career, Manning may never get another chance to do that.

So don’t tell me that all the players agreed it was the best idea, Caldwell. Don’t tell me that the record doesn’t matter, Colts. To your fans, to your players, and to the many NFL icons around the league, the Colts looked like an unstoppable force because they were undefeated, and now, they’ve become just another team.

Look at the Saints. One week after losing to the Cowboys, they lost to the miserable Bucs. Sure, they’re still the No.1 seed in the NFC, but the Saints are exposed. They’re no longer the monster they seemed to be weeks ago. They can lose. They can give up.

And for the Colts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lose again — maybe not against the Bills next week, but to Chargers in the playoffs? Yes. San Diego has far more hype than the Colts now that Indy doesn’t have an undefeated streak at their backs, and the Chargers have had the Colts’ number in the postseason.

Once you give up, even in a game that doesn’t matter, it’s easy to get caught doing it again. Maybe it will strike in the playoffs; maybe it hits them in the Super Bowl. It’s only a matter of time before this morale-killing loss catches up to the Colts.

If you want to win a Super Bowl ring, something that takes a no-quit attitude, you simply can’t quit — not in any game, not on any record. You have to keep the wind at your back. You have to keep the momentum in full swing.

And that’s why the Colts won’t win the Super Bowl, no matter what they say these next two weeks. They quit in the third quarter. They quit too early, and they can’t forgive themselves for doing that.

Buzztime Fantasy Football: Fun game even during the time you aren’t buzzed

A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to play Buzztime Fantasy Football. If you’ve never played it at your local watering hole or seen it in real life before, it’s much like the trivia games you’re used to seeing at sports bars and restaurants. In order to play, you have to get a keypad console, or Playmaker, from the establishment that allows you to login to your Buzztime account and participate in the games that are scrolling across the various Buzztime-dedicated TV screens.

Like many of the games I’m sure some of you are seeking this time of year, Buzztime Fantasy Football allows you to pick an entirely new team every week. Just like college graduation, your past defeats no longer continue to haunt you like they would with a traditional fantasy football team after a poor draft.

Each week, you select two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker, and one team defense as well as a tiebreaker question. Buzztime gives you five players to choose from for each position, and once your picks are entered, you’re good to go.

The onscreen experience enhances your pick selections by running through player stats. I would have liked more side-by-side comparisons or a commentary provided in video format about each of the players, but in a busy bar environment, the Buzztime selection screens worked for what they are.

It was a little nerveracking to select my team on location at Buffalo Wild Wings, which I chose to draft at because I’m a company man like that (Buffalo Wild Wings had me participate in their All-Star Bloggers League this season).

I brought along some friends, which made the evening more enjoyable but added an extra layer of difficulty to selecting players.

Between each position pick for your team, there’s a break. That could sometimes lead you to forget about selecting your next player, but the Playmaker does beep at you to let you know it’s time to get your head back in the game. If you came to your local Buzztime location ready to do some serious drafting and with a few fantasy football friends in tow, I don’t think you’d have as much of a problem.

If you do miss anything, as an added bonus, you can always login to the online site, Buzztime.com, to make picks that you left blank or change your picks before the games start.

Luckily, I found that it wasn’t too difficult to make your pick if you know your fantasy football, but the player selection is no cakewalk. Buzztime creates an interesting mix, not just the top five at each position or the most highly projected in any given week. You have to know when there are favorable opponents for a fantasy stud, which the Buzztime stats help you see, but you often have to make a call between a stud and a sleeper.

Buzztime.com and the mobile site, Buzztime.com/m, allow you to track your scores and see how you stack up each week.

I was impressed that Buzztime had the mobile site, especially considering sites like Yahoo! and Fleaflicker still haven’t caught up to ESPN’s mobile offerings when it comes to fantasy football management. I found myself more involved in my ESPN leagues this season and more comfortable tracking scores from my phone thanks to their mobile sites — although an application for Android phones would be great, whichever one of you big guns wants to make one first.

It’s clear from Buzztime’s mobile site offerings that they have thought about accessibility, and I like that. You don’t have to go to a restaurant or bar that has the Playmakers available, but they certainly do make it more social and sports bar-friendly.

While the Playmaker itself leaves something to be desired, it’s not bad. So it’s pretty much just a keyboard with a two-tone green-on-black input screen? So what? The real visuals here are the TV screens that show you the players that you’ll be selecting. You’re just inputting numbers into the Playmaker to make your selections. If you want more aesthetics, they do have that mobile site I just plugged.

It’d be nice if there were more times available to draft your team “on location.” The Buzztime locations I found all offer fantasy football selection times several times on Wednesday nights, but no other nights of the week were available.

As long as you plan to be there on time, you’ll be around for the selections, and even if you miss it, you can always put together your team on Buzztime.com. But it’d be nice if I could do it on Thursday night before Thursday Night Football begins or on Monday, right after the Monday Night Football game has ended. For those of us who can’t frequent sports bar establishments, it would allow us to maximize our football watching time.

Then again, maybe we deserve an excuse to go out with some fantasy football buddies on a Wednesday night?

Overall, if you’re looking for a fun way to relive the fantasy football draft throughout the season, or if you need a fantasy football fix when your playoff hopes have run dry, head down to your local sports bar, restaurant, or watering hole and try out Buzztime Fantasy Football. Use Buzztime’s Site Finder to find the location nearest you equipped with Playmakers.

As an added bonus, after selecting my players on the Playmaker, I used it to enjoy some football trivia. The questions weren’t your typical “going to commercial” tossups that you see during football broadcasts. They were tough, but Buzztime keeps it interesting by providing clues, the last of which would often give away the answer for lesser sports fans with logic skills.

Buzztime also offers an interesting game called QB1, where you try to predict the play just before a team runs it. I might have to give that one a try next time I’m in there on Sunday.

Even if you don’t get a chance to try out the fantasy football game this season, the trivia and other games are worth battling in next time you’re out and in need of some midgame entertainment.

And it’s hard to beat the price. All of Buzztime’s games are free.

If you’ve played Buzztime at your local house of sports, share your thoughts in the comments. I’m interested to see what others think of the games and the experience.

Full Disclosure: Buzztime covered my visit to Buffalo Wild Wings to experience the Playmaker device and play some Buzztime Fantasy Football (http://cmp.ly/2). No wing sauces or Playmakers were injured in the writing of this review.

Jerome Harrison’s Week 15 Fantasy Playoff Surprise: A Tragedy in Three Parts

There’s no way someone in the fantasy football playoffs was starting Jerome Harrison this week, is there? If so, you must have just received your Christmas miracle.

Did you save an old woman trying to cross the street? Donate an organ to an ill friend? Give a dollar a day to a child in a third-world country? Develop the swine flu vaccine? Whatever you did, it worked, my friend.

No one expected Jerome Harrison, the recently forgotten back in Cleveland, to get a significant amount of carries in Sunday’s not-at-all-playoff-relevant battle between the Browns and the Chiefs. The Mangenius himself hinted that Cleveland’s electric special teamer Josh Cribbs could play a larger role in the running game. Chris Jennings had gotten the 20 carries against the Steelers for 73 yards and a touchdown just one week ago. If anyone was going to be the “traditional” running back in Week 15, it was surely going to be Jennings.

But no. It was Jerome Harrison that stole the show with the third-best rushing performance in NFL history, behind only Adrian Peterson and Jamal Lewis. He also passed up Jim Brown’s single-game team record of 237 yards with his 286-yard, three touchdown blowout. Harrison added 12 receiving yards just because he could.

Outside of a few phenomenal quarterback showings, including Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Joe Flacco, no one even came close to scoring as many points as Jerome Harrison’s 47.8 in standard fantasy scoring.

Josh Cribbs got his, two kick returns of over 100 yards for the NFL record eight he now has, but he didn’t factor into the running game as some suspected he might.

Both Cleveland’s Week 15 stars will be remembered in Canton for these performances, but fantasy football owners will struggle to recover from the depression that comes with losing to the rare, brave soul who started Jerome Harrison this week or be haunted by the self-loathing that comes with losing by just a few points in the fantasy football playoffs while Harrison added 47.8 points to your team’s bench.

And the most tragic part of this tale? Harrison may not even be a good start in Week 16 against Oakland. Would you dare?

Feel free to vent if Jerome Harrison wasn’t your Christmas miracle.

The Team That Knocked You Out of the Playoffs in Week 14

The playoffs are truly fickle. Just like your high school girlfriend (well, if you had a girlfriend), they tire of you after about two weeks.

If you lost in Week 14, you can probably identify a few names on your new hate list, updated daily while you rub lipstick on your face and cry, from the “Team of the Week” that the FF Geek Blog assembled.

At least they were big name guys. It’s not like you wouldn’t see Ray Rice or Chris Johnson coming. Well, you might not see Chris Johnson coming, but that’s only because he breaks the speed of light every now and then on his way to the end zone.

Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson, and DeSean Jackson have all been phenomenal this season, and Dallas Clark is a fixture of the Indianapolis Colts’ offense. No unknowns there.

True to their form of yesteryear, the Titans won off their kicking game (Rob Bironas) and defense. That’s easy to do when you play St. Louis and have to sub Kerry Collins in for Vince Young mid “wrecking shop.”

No, the only two potential “surprises” that I can identify are Eli Manning and Ryan Grant. Grant because he has never quite regained the hype he had at the end of 2007 when he complemented Brett Favre deep into the playoffs, and Eli Manning because… well, he’s the dopey Manning brother we all love to hate, right? He’s not supposed to be the one pulling out all the stops in the passing game.

In truth, the defense of the week was San Francisco’s opportunistic performance against the Arizona Cardinals Monday night, but that was after the FF Geeks put together their list. The Cardinals couldn’t hold onto the ball at all on the MNF stage. Something tells me that Arizona will no longer serve popcorn or any other butter products in the locker room.

But you have a good right to be mad if you lost to Quinton Ganther or Devin Aromashodu. They truly came out of nowhere in the final weeks of the season — and by nowhere, I mean the depths of the depth chart.

Ganther, a name that sounds about as horrible as you want it to be, was the “next name on the list” for the Redskins. He wasn’t even on the roster at the beginning of the season. Now, he probably ate your babies in Week 14 if one of your opponents took a chance on starting him. Two touchdowns in just his first NFL start? That burns. It really does. But remember, it was the Raiders.

Devin Aromashodu is not, as I learned today, a samurai warrior destined to roam the hills and valleys of the Windy City battling the power of scent. He is, in fact, the “other Devin” on the Bears roster.

And yes, I lied about not knowing who Aromashodu was for the sake of using that joke. I have no boundaries. I’m like Richie Incognito.

The “other Devin” is a big target the Bears haven’t been able to use thus far this season, but it looks like he might be worth keeping on the field. Against the Packers, Aromashodu racked up 76 yards and a touchdown. Just the kind of performance a desperation playoff opponent would have loved to supply, but it’s hardly likely that anyone in your league did it.

Ganther, though, we can all hate freely.

Along with these good days, there were a couple of notable bad performances: Aaron Rodgers and Randy Moss.

I was lucky enough to have a bye for the team on which I own them both — whew — but if you weren’t as lucky, you might not be in the playoff hunt any longer.

This week, I have to believe that both will get on track. Rodgers faces the Steelers spirit-less secondary, and Randy Moss gets the Bills. As long as the weather is not “kind of frightful” in Buffalo, I think there’s a good chance we see more of the Randy we’ve been used to in Patriot blue.

Foolish Contest: Weekend Subscriber Drive

Update: We have a winner. Keep an eye out for our next giveaway.

I know. I promised contests, and contests ye shall have. This time, I’ll be awarding one of our lucky subscribers. Come Monday, I will select one email subscriber (at random) to receive the greatest of thrones.

May I have a drum roll please?

Yes, the greatest of all chairs: The Buffalo Wild Wings Tailgater Spectacular!

BWW Lawn Chair

Two cup holders? Oh, the possibilities.

I know you want it, so here’s how you get it. If you’re already an email subscriber, great. Fantastic. Good work, sir. You’re in the running. If not, go subscribe by email right now either by adding your email address on our handy subscribe page or in the top right corner of Fantasy Football Fools. If you’re subscribed by other methods, that won’t cut it. You have to subscribe by email at least until next week.

On Monday, I’ll select one email address at random, and email that wonderfully lucky person to let them know that they have won. If I don’t hear back, I’ll go to the next email selected at random and so forth.

Why email? Well, if you’re an RSS, Facebook, or Twitter subscriber, we still like you, but email is the easiest way for us to confirm that you are, in fact, actually subscribed. Plus, I don’t think we show enough love to email, spam-plagued as it is. So with this contest, email gets the love.

I’ll update the post when we have a winner. Thanks for playing.

Foolish Thoughts: A Thank You Before the Playoffs

It’s over. Done. Finished.

After 13 weeks, we enter into the period of time most leagues block off as their fantasy playoffs. It seems like only yesterday we were drafting…

Sigh.

The fantasy regular season is no more, except in those barbaric leagues that still play a championship game in Week 17 or leagues with two-week playoffs that begin next week.

Either way, I hope many of you are sitting pretty awaiting your shot at a championship trophy.

For me, this week is a welcome break from the craziness of the past 13 weeks. All but one of my leagues just finished the regular season, and I’ll now get a week off from some of my leagues with a bye week as the No. 1 seed.

Sorry, I don’t mean to brag… okay, okay, I very much mean to brag … but it’s nice to have the week off to some extent.

For those of you who are still in the heat of things, the waiver wire and start/sit postings will continue in limited form this week, but as I’m sure you’ve realized in the past two weeks, there isn’t much left to grab off the waiver wire at this point in the season.

If you’ve lost out already, no longer needing fantasy advice this season, that’s okay, too. I’ll have a few prizes and contests this week and next to keep things interesting, and I’ll wrap up a few articles that I’ve been working on this season.

For those of you who read and took my advice this season, I thank you for continuing to support Fantasy Football Fools. This blog has become more of a commitment than I ever thought it would be, but I thoroughly enjoy talking fantasy football with you each and every week. I hope you feel the same.

I’m sure my coworkers, friends, and family thank you for sparing them from all the complaints about Brandon Jacob’s failures this season… until this week, of course, when no one wants to see him do well.

If you have any questions as you prepare for the playoffs, feel free to contact me directly, and best of luck to you all.

Foolish Thoughts: My Beef with Fleaflicker’s Coach Rating

It’s one of the most frustrating occurrences in fantasy football.

It’s not a Baltimore fan complaining about the refs or John Carney missing three kicks when just one would have won the fantasy game you lost by a point.

No, the most sickening feeling in fantasy football hits you when you start the wrong guys. There’s nothing more infuriating than watching the points pile up on your bench only to flap in the breeze next to Percy Harvin’s or Justin Forsett’s stat line.

You can do your research. You can ask an expert. You can pray to the fantasy football gods and tweet the players themselves to ask them if you should start them.

At the end of the week, you’re still going to end up starting the wrong guys more than once in any given season. And if you could project exactly how a given football player was going to perform each week, why would you waste that skill on fantasy football? Vegas, son. Go to Vegas!

But there’s one thing that makes the “started the wrong guys” regret even worse: Fleaflicker’s Coach Rating.

While your self-loathing grows, the Fleaflicker Coach Rating judges you with a percentage based on how well you set your lineup. You only get 100 percent if you started every single one of your highest performing players at each position.

It’s one thing to lose because you set a bad lineup. It’s another thing for an automated computer system to mock you.

I don’t need your 75 percent rating thrown in my face, machine. Why don’t you just turn into the Terminator and kill me now? I need not your silly completion bar.

I can go outside right now, and I can talk to women. What can you do? Make charts? Graph things? Good. You do that. When I come back, I want you to explain to me when you earned the right to judge me in line graph form, and it better have something to do with fantasy games won.

*The rest of this column was written after fifteen minutes of listening to Enya

It’s fine. I’m used to automated mockery. It’s why I have friends anyway, right? Every fantasy football league is practically an automated mockery tool when you lose.

My real beef with Fleaflicker is that it doesn’t judge itself. Aren’t computers supposed to be self-aware, Skynet?

Sure, I sat Percy Harvin and Laurence Maroney. I regret that, but even your nice little projection system within Fleaflicker told me that Joseph Addai and Roddy White were better starts. Where’s your little 65 percent correct bar for that poor prediction?

Not that I would listen to you blindly. I did my research. I started the best lineup, and I don’t need your abuse. So take that, Fleaflicker mockery rating. I won’t have it anymore. From now on, I’m putting electrical tape over that part of the screen and never scrolling, and I’m giving myself a gold star for every starter I pick correctly.

Damage Done This Week

What is with you people? You talk about how few injuries have happened this season and now they’re piling up before Christmas like Santa’s toys.

Matt Ryan stubbed his wee little toe, and Jake Delhomme broke a finger. I’d say the NFC South lost half their quarterbacks, but let’s be honest. Drew Brees counts double, or even triple, the value of any other quarterback in the NFC South.

Atlanta fell off in a big way because they also lost Michael Turner, who returned from his ankle injury a bit too early and immediately went back on the shelf with Clinton Portis, Brian Westbrook, and Kurt Warner.

Big Ben sat out after all, but he should return in Week 13, just in time to concuss himself again before the fantasy playoffs. At least Cedric Benson will be back… Those are words you just don’t see yourself saying in the preseason.

For owners who were relying on his big fantasy booms, DeSean Jackson may sit out this week after sharing in the concuss party the NFL has been throwing. There’s no telling when you’ll get him back, so here’s to hoping that you’re already a lock for the playoffs.

Studs in Strange Places

Julius Jones sat another week and allowed Justin Forsett to score twice against the Rams. Jamaal Charles had another big week for the Chiefs alongside Chris Chambers. Looking ahead, I like Charles better than Forsett. That’s whether Jones returns this season or not. Charles just has too lovely a playoff schedule to turn down.

Larry Johnson became a part of the Bengals offense in Week 12 and shared the rock with Bernard Scott. L.J. Had 107 yards while Scott had just 87. Let’s all hope that this one game doesn’t mean that Benson will have to share with others when he returns. Cincy may not be sure, but fantasy owners sure would like to see Benson get all the work against the Lions in Week 13.

Vince Young reenacted the 2006 Rose Bowl on Matt Leinart’s face late against Arizona, much to my excitement as a Texas fan and Vince Young apologist, and Miles Austin found his way to 20+ fantasy points again. If you sold early on Austin based on the belief that he would be a fluke, well, sucks to be you, my friend. I bet the Fleaflicker Coach Rating tore you apart for that one.

Turn the Lights Out When You Go

This week is the last one to make a move and be relevant in the fantasy football playoffs. I hope you’re all playoff-bound (as a result of my sage advice, of course), but if not, do it up this week and see what you can make of your team. There’s always next season.

If you get the chance this week, do your best to ruin someone else’s chance at the playoffs. There’s nothing that makes me happier than making someone else sad. You have to try it. I find taking candy from babies to be a great way to practice.

Foolish Thoughts: Forsett, Snelling, Scott, and McCoy offer instant gratification

When one of your fantasy football studs gets injured, fantasy owners usually face a tough decision. Should you go get that backup, the one who hasn’t seen more than five touches in any game this year? Or should you just find another running back or wide receiver on the waiver wire who’ll get it done until your stud returns?

Especially early in the fantasy season, I’ve often avoided taking the backups and gone the other way. Why? Well, I like instant gratification.

In rare cases, NFL backups outperform the former starter as Steve Slaton did last season, and it’s not easy to expect them to match the production of the starter they replace. Most of the time, backups need a week or two to get accustomed to their new role in the offense and to gain the trust of the rest of the team.

But in Week 11, you didn’t have to wait.

Ricky Williams, Justin Forsett, Jason Snelling, Bernard Scott, and LeSean McCoy all went off for the owners of Julius Jones, Michael Turner, Cedric Benson, and Brian Westbrook who were able to find some help on the waiver wire.

Even those who started desperation-play Jamaal Charles against the Steelers or Beanie Wells as a good-on-paper start against St. Louis were rewarded.

The only bad replacements this week were Chris Simms, who was pulled for a still-injured Kyle Orton after failing to score on the Chargers, and Ladell Betts, who tore both his ACL and PCL against the Cowboys and will miss the rest of the season.

In the case of Forsett and McCoy, this week could be a changing of the guard. Julius Jones has never lived up to expectations since signing with the Seahawks, and Westbrook might never see the field again this season after suffering his second concussion.

For Charles’ and Wells’ fantasy owners, this sets up a nice looking playoff picture.

Williams seems like he’ll be okay without his Wildcat partner Ronnie Brown as he secured the top spot for running backs in most fantasy scoring formats. His performance should serve as a reminder of how much you can benefit from stocking your bench with guys who are just one small injury away from a lucrative starting job.

Scott rushed for 119 yards and caught three passes for 32 yards against the Oakland Raiders defense in a loss, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll get a shot against the Browns and the Lions since Benson could return.

Snelling’s in the same spot. Despite scoring twice and coming in second in fantasy scoring for running backs, Snelling could see Jerious Norwood cut into his carries if Norwood’s healthier in Week 12. There’s also a chance that Michael Turner could make an early return.

But you can’t be disappointed with this kind of late-season “early bloomers.”

Maybe it’s a good sign for those owners who suffered more injuries this week.

Kurt Warner bowed out at halftime after suffering a couple of blows to the head. With that playoff schedule, Matt Leinart would be in high demand if Warner misses a game.

Big Ben “fall down, go boom” in overtime against the Chiefs with a hit to his noggin, and soon after, backup quarterback Charlie Batch injured his wrist enough to keep him out the rest of the regular season. That leaves Dennis Dixon sitting in the quarterback seat unless Big Ben is healthy enough to start on Sunday.

With Betts out, Rock Cartwright ran for 67 rushing yards and had seven catches for 73 yards in the loss to the Cowboys. The Redskins might soon regret not taking a shot at Larry Johnson. Without the services of Portis, Washington may be forced to go get Shaun Alexander as depth at running back.

Heaven forbid you were counting on Marc Bulger for your team, but he’ll miss the rest of the fantasy regular season with a fractured tibia. Kyle Boller takes over, which could be a blessing or a curse for Steven Jackson’s owners.

Just for the sake of noting a tree falling in the forest and not making a sound…Terrell Owens caught nine for 197 yards and a touchdown, most of that on one long touchdown strike. You leave that guy open and he’s dangerous.

But how often will the opposing team make that mistake against the Bills?

In what might qualify as a charity game, Matthew Stafford and Brady Quinn had multi-touchdown days. Stafford threw for five touchdowns; Quinn had four. It must have seemed just like practice for them to play against such terrible defense. At least leading receivers Calvin Johnson and Mohamed Massaquoi had a good time with it.