The League S02E09: Never Use Your Friend as an “Expert Witness”

We never have gotten to see the league members in their unnatural environment: their jobs. Sure, in Season 1, we saw Kevin and Ruxin negotiate a plea bargain and a trade of the No. 1 overall pick, but we never saw them in court.

Pete’s been in an office, but we’ve never seen him working. And Andre’s been seen in scrubs and in commercials, but he’s never performed a surgery on the show.

We’re in for a treat this week, as the league decided it was “Take Your Fantasy Football Leaguemates to Work” Week in “Expert Witness.”

Taco is at Kevin’s trial this morning. It seems his cable’s out so he’s subbing out “Judge Joe Brown” for Kevin’s workplace, plus popcorn. But Kevin won’t have it, and the judge will have even less.

At the bar, Ruxin explains his big case. A fugly got in a car accident, sued the brake company, and used the money to pay for her plastic surgery. Now, as a super hotty, she’s suing for emotional distress. It’s in the bag, or so Ruxin thinks. In Ruxin’s own words, they “paid for her own personal episode of The Swan.”

His secret weapon is his “work flirt,” the judge for this trial.

This launches a discussion of “work flirting” as a practice. Ruxin swears by it, but Kevin completely shut his “flirt thrusters” down when he got married. Pete explains that he “strained a testicle” by not keeping his flirt muscles active during his marriage. Sounds painful.

After that PSA from The League, I have to be a little worried. I’m engaged and my flirt thrusters are completely shut down. In fact, they have been for years. So hopefully, I’m never forced to spring them back into action. Am I the only one? Do any married guys out there have “flirt thrusters” on full throttle?

Hearing about Ruxin’s case, Andre adds that women who have plastic surgery lead better lives. It’s the discovery of the century: Hot women have it easy. Who knew?

In what will never be seen as his finest hour, Ruxin seizes the moment and asks Andre to be an expert witness in his case. Andre gets far, far too excited about it. First warning sign!

Andre proceeds to start a conversation about sausage places downtown, which gets Pete involved. If you’ve followed the show, you’ll know that Pete often likes to steal Andre’s thunder via one-upmanship or trade rape. He lets no moment pass when he might be able to make Andre feel like less of a man.

Pete claims his sausage joint is the best, and he invites the gang to eat at HIS place, his treat, so that they can see how right he is, which infuriates Andre to no end.

Back at home, Kevin finds out that Peyton Hillis is out this week. What?!? Oh, right. This is fictional. And it’s not like I own Peyton Hillis in any of my leagues anyway.

It’s not like I would care if he’s hurt and not racking up double-digit points for his owners this week in fantasy football. It’s not like I’M BITTER about that, after having thought of him as a great late-round sleeper and then neglecting to lock him up in the early part of the season. NOT. BITTER. AT. ALL.

But Kevin makes the mistake of revealing his need for a running back in front of Jenny, who happens to have the first priority on the waiver wire this week. Poor, poor Kevin. Never talk about your waiver wire needs in front of another owner unless you know, for certain, that they have a later pick than you. In fact, just never talk to another owner about the waiver wire.

Enter collusion. Kevin himself proposes a bribe: Good sex for Mike Bell, Hillis’ backup. Jenny counters by forcing Kevin to do all of Ellie’s thank you notes in order to earn the right to pick up Mike Bell. And it’s a deal.

By the way, did you notice how Jenny’s drinking a beer and holding the remote to the TV while Kevin sits on his laptop and begs for a draft pick in this scene? Clearly, Jenny wears the pants in this relationship…but we already knew that.

Back at the courthouse, Taco catches up with the courtroom artist to get a play-by-play of the day he missed. Ruxin ducks away from having to talk to him and runs right into his “work flirt,” the judge. He lays it on thick for her, as usual, before blowing off Taco and getting back to work.

At Kevin’s house, Ruxin and Kevin have Andre in Kevin’s mancave garage trying to talk him through how to be an expert witness. Andre wants to wear “To Catch A Predator” glasses, against the advice of Kevin and Ruxin. They have to coach him out of using “double guns,” to stop trying to play humble on the stand, and on how to tell the truth no matter what. But the pressure becomes too much for poor Andre. He goes into a blinking fit.

Jenny reminds Kevin to do Ellie’s thank you cards, and Kevin’s immediate acceptance makes Ruxin suspicious. Rightfully so. Ruxin goes on a rant and sniffs through Kevin’s computer, but no luck. He can’t even find an answer in Jenny’s underwear. Is everyone in this episode trying to come off like a sexual predator?

Andre confesses to Kevin that he needs a trade and reveals that he plans to persuade Taco to trade with him. Against all odds, he thinks his sexual predator powers can bend Taco to his will. *Shivers*

The gang gathers for pizza, and Andre brags about having eaten an entire “Wide Load” pizza. Pete, seeing another opportunity to steal thunder, asks Andre if he’s ever tried the “Holy Stromboli.” Pete claims that he’s eaten the entire thing. Twice.

Taco interrupts this sad little game to reveal his love affair with the courtroom artist. She drew him a sex sketch. Now he has to send her one of his own.

Brett Favre must have really good freehand skills.

In hopes of swaying Taco to trade, Andre volunteers to sketch Taco naked. Raising the stakes, Kevin volunteers Andre to shave Taco’s shaft for him since he’s done it as part of his job as a plastic surgeon. That’s the dark side of plastic surgery, kids.

In Ruxin’s office, Pete recognizes the brake lawsuit girl. She used to work in his office.

Pete wants a hook-up, but Ruxin, once again, has a not-so-great idea. He wants to put Pete on the stand as a second expert witness.

Ruxin, even I see how this one is going to fail.

When Taco shows up for his sketch, he finds Andre in a Professor X-looking head massager. It freaks Taco out, but Andre doesn’t have to do much to make that happen. (See: Nosferatu vs. Andre)

Andre dives further into the depths of super-creepy artist mode and sketches Taco down to his junk. It’s both magical and disturbing as they discuss the wilt and the bend of his member, but segueing right off of that horrific conversation, Andre pitches a trade to Taco. Having already logged into Taco’s account, Andre pulls out a laptop to seal the deal. It wasn’t too easy to crack Taco’s password since his team name is “Password is Taco.” Uncreative and easy to crack. Double foul.

The deal they strike is David Akers for Ray Rice, and Taco accepts. This trade is why we have to have vetoes, people. That’s a terrible deal. But it’s not my place to veto trades in The League.

In watching Andre make the trade, Taco brings his junk front and center in front of Andre’s face. It pains me to describe it in full detail, but Taco ends up giving Andre a shoulder massage from the front. So he does do something from the front after all…

When Pete comes in to pick up Andre for a movie, this massage scene Taco has trapped Andre in, of course, looks like a blow job. Game, set, match, Andre.

At the trial, Andre’s nervous, and Pete’s arrival to “steal his thunder” again doesn’t help him.

Ruxin takes the asshole approach to questioning the victim of the brake accident, otherwise known as being Ruxin. He plays it cool and tries to make her look like a hot girl complaining about the pains of being attractive. It works to an extent.

But the case really starts to come apart when Andre takes the stand claiming to be “Slim Shady” and employed as an “expert witness” with the double guns. Ah, the double guns. He even brings out the pedophile glasses and the pedophile jokes.

Andre’s pit stains don’t sway the jury as Ruxin had hoped.

So Ruxin moves swiftly to his next witness, Pete.

Pete’s testimony goes a little more smoothly until he admits to having called the plaintiff “Das Dinga” before her plastic surgery transformation, accented by Ruxin’s thing-like screech at the jury. So much for getting a date with the Das Dinga 2.0, Pete.

At the tail end of his testimony, Ruxin puts Pete on the spot about whether Kevin colluded with Jenny to get Mike Bell. Under oath, Pete can’t lie, and the court erupts with Kevin, Andre, Pete, and Ruxin screaming at each other.

Ruxin’s brought back to the judge’s chambers, and to win his trial, he’s asked to fulfill the flirtation he’s perpetuated with his “work flirt.”

Meanwhile, the courtroom artist tries to tell Taco that her husband is coming. Like with most things, Taco doesn’t connect the dots. When the husband storms in, he gets caught trying to slip out.

In trying to hit Taco, the husband throws a piece of evidence straight into Das Dinga’s new nose, and then chases Taco into the judge’s chambers, where the league finds “Dog Ruxin” taking his licks from the judge with a bone in his mouth.

At the end of an eventful day at the office, the gang takes Ruxin to prove he can eat the “Holy Stromboli” just like Pete did.

Turns out, Pete never did it. He just made it up to steal Andre’s thunder. Poor Andre.

Memorable quotes from Episode 9

RUXIN: “Dude, when you’re married, you have to keep a work flirt. It keeps the flirt muscles limber. Otherwise, you tense up. You could pop a hammy like Pete did when he got divorced.”

TACO: “If I ever got plastic surgery…ASIAN EYES.” [Pointing at his face]

ANDRE: “Ohhh, we’re gonna go out to lunch with my bro-bros!”

PETE: “I’m not stealing your thunder. I merely escorted them to a more interesting storm.”

JENNY: “Do you not try your best now?” [on Kevin's sexual efforts]
KEVIN: “I will give you 100 percent for four minutes, and then like 60 percent for five minutes after that. And then after that, you’re on your own.”
JENNY: “You naughty little commissioner.”

RUXIN: “I don’t know you here.” [Said to Taco as Taco tries to say "hello" to Ruxin in the courthouse]

RUXIN: “My guess is a country entirely populated by fans of Aerosmith.” [on what country Andre's proposed outfit for his court appearance would represent]

RUXIN: “Oh, good, so you look like a crafty sexual predator.”

RUXIN: “Your wife asked you to do something, and you did it on the first ask. It takes my wife three asks before I’ll do something menial like take the trash out. And we have a loving marriage.”

RUXIN: “They brought me in for an evaluation in middle school, but I left before the psychiatrist could give me his final diagnosis (whispering) ’cause he had it out for me.” [on whether he'd ever been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia]

JENNY: “Sad little man, NO!” [while slapping Ruxin's hand away from her underwear]

TACO: “I don’t use front anything.” [on why he didn't come through the front door]

RUXIN: “She really captures your inner hobo.” [on Taco's portrait by the courtroom artist]

RUXIN: “How many shafts do you think you’ve shaved?” [to Andre]

RUXIN: “I could watch you flick it…?” [to the judge, when asked to beg like a dog]

TACO: “Nothing happened, okay? We just had sex.”

[ Jump to Episode 10: "High School Reunion" ]

NFL Divisional Championships: Hot Hands and Cold Shoulders

Once again, this weekend, we get a game that could very literally end with a final score of 3-0 and a game that could have a combined score of more than 70 points. Welcome the AFC and NFC championship games.

When I logged into the site to get geared up for this weekend, I got an extra treat. You want to know what the top search term of late leading people to Fantasy Football Fools is?

Booty. That’s right. I have a sneaking suspicion why that is, but it still doesn’t make it any less funny.

So with booty said, let’s get down to booty, er, business.

If you’re setting your salary cap playoff rosters this week, you’re probably locked in with them until the Super Bowl. There’s two ways to go here. You can either pick a collection of players from both teams that you expect to do well enough in this round and in the Super Bowl or you can suck it up and only pick players from the two teams you see making it all the way.

I’ll admit, I have the fear in me about being bold and only choosing players from my Super Bowl pick teams, but I’m so going there.

NFC Championship

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

I don’t know what to think of the Arizona Cardinals. Many analysts predicted they would match the Falcons in the Wild Card round after their strong final game of the season, but I doubted them when they went into Carolina. I thought their possession of a running game was just an oversight by the Falcons defense and that the defensive plays made the Wild Card round were fluky.

In Carolina, Arizona showed us that they have a defense that will make plays on the ball. Their secondary was outstanding. They complimented it with a little bit of a running game again, thanks to Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower, despite being able to get the ball into Larry Fitzgerald’s hands even if he was covered by a flock of Canadian geese — the kind that brings down planes.

Despite their success, it’s hard not to keep betting on their demise…they are the Buzzsaw after all.

Of course, there’s no overwhelming favorite on the other side of the field. The Eagles are practically the same team, only in the NFC East. The Eagles started off looking like one of the best in the division before they sank to the bottom of the barrel after a ferociously embarrassing tie with the Cincinnati Bengals when Donovan McNabb didn’t even know that ties were possible.

Thanks to the failings of many a team standing in their way, the Eagles got hot at the right moment and went on a streak to get into the playoffs. Donovan McNabb has looked great, and Brian Westbrook has been required to do only light lifting. The formula has been working to perfection.

On Thanksgiving, the Eagles began their winning streak against the Cardinals. Arizona was clobbered by the combined scoring power of Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb, but since that game, Brian Westbrook has virtually and literally disappeared from the field.

If the Eagles are going to win this one, the offense is going to need a big game from Brian Westbrook. Otherwise, it’s very possible that McNabb gets Delhomme-d and leaves his team fighting on the wrong side of a turnover battle if Arizona’s suddenly-dominant secondary shows up again.

I’m going with the Cardinals here. They’re at home with a newfound spirit in the playoffs. Maybe that’s crazy. Maybe I just don’t really want to see an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl, or maybe I hate part of myself. Maybe I just want an offensive team to get in the Super Bowl. Whatever the reason, I’m on the Buzzsaw bandwagon.

At least we know their going to put up some fantasy points this week.

Hot Hands: Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook (Q), David Akers

Bubble Boys: Tim Hightower, Anquan Boldin (Q), Neil Rackers, Arizona D/ST, Eagles D/ST, Brent Celek

Cold Shoulders: DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, L.J. Smith, Edgerrin James

AFC Championship

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Personally, I am not a fan of this matchup.

Watching these two teams slam into each other repeatedly for four hours with minimal points on the board just leaves me feeling unsatisfied — especially as a fantasy football fan. The team that makes the most mistakes is going to lose this one, and since I called it twice before, I have to continue my trend of calling on Joe Flacco’s rookie shortcomings to suddenly rise to the forefront.

If the Steelers can successfully take Derrick Mason out of this game, Flacco will become pretty ineffective. Without Flacco, the Ravens have LeRon McClain, who is already a little banged up, and some guy we used to know the name of named Willis McGahee. Sure, they could put something together with that running back committee. They even have Ray Rice, too, but not against the Steelers defense.

Ben Roethlisberger may be concussed, but maybe he plays better when he sees two or three of every receiver. His long ball and a healthy Willie Parker helped the Steelers run right over the Chargers last week, and it’ll help them put up enough of a fight against the Ravens.

If you’re looking for a kicker, I like Jeff Reed in this game. I know that the Cardinals and the Eagles are playing in a more offensively friendly matchup, but Jeff Reed is probably going to be one of the only players scoring points this Sunday night. You might as well get a piece of the action.

Hot Hands: Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes, Jeff Reed, Matt Stover, Steelers D/ST, Ravens D/ST

Bubble Boys: Willie Parker, Hines Ward, LeRon McClain, Joe Flacco, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason

Cold Shoulders: Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Heath Miller, Mark Clayton

Lineup Calls

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to go all-in with the Cardinals and Steelers on my roster this weekend. At least if Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner end up sitting out the Super Bowl, I will know that I tried and failed brilliantly.

Sure, I could throw Brian Westbrook on my roster as a safety valve and capitalize if the Eagles were to make it into the Super Bowl, but where’s the fun in that? Besides, no matter what running back gets to the Super Bowl from the NFC, they’re not going to do much against the Baltimore Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So this weekend, I’m a Buzzsaw-lovin’ Arizona Cardinals fan. Maybe they’ll make it to their first Super Bowl, and that’s a story that might even spare us the press on T.O. and Brett Favre for a few days.

Divisional Playoffs, Part 2: Hot Hands and Cold Shoulders

So the Cardinals have game — and a run game at that. Of course, who really needs a balanced attack when Larry Fitzgerald can do whatever he wants on the field and you benefit from more than five turnovers?

Looks like the Buzzsaw is bound for the next round, so who will get you there in the fantasy playoffs?

San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Chargers come into Pittsburgh after finishing strong and knocking the Indianapolis Colts off in overtime with the legs of Darren Sproles, but the Steel Curtain closes this attack. Without LaDainian Tomlinson, I don’t see Sproles being able to carry the Chargers far against the Pittsburgh defense, and Philip Rivers cannot do it all with Troy Polamalu covering the field.

The Steelers offense is weakened with a concussed Ben Roethlisberger, but they can still pound the ball with Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore. The Chargers will make more mistakes, and the Steelers have enough to capitalize on them. Even though San Diego has been nice to opposing quarterbacks all season, it’s hard to put faith in the arm of a guy who got taken off in a stretcher just weeks ago. I’ll stick with the run game.

Try as he might, Rivers shouldn’t be able to take this one, but he can certainly try with Vincent Jackson and some help from Sproles.

Hot Hands: Willie Parker, Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles

Bubble Boys: Mewelde Moore, Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Antonio Gates, Nate Kaeding

Cold Shoulders: Heath Miller, LaDainian Tomlinson

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

The Eagles, much like the Chargers, had it all fall into their lap at the end of the season. They’re hot right now, and it’s hard to like the Giants more than the Eagles with the Giants cold finish to the regular season.

Despite the return of Brandon Jacobs, the Giants are likely to have a hard time running the ball against this Eagles squad, and the momentum is in the Eagles’ favor. The Giants will miss having Plaxico Burress as a playmaker. They either lose this game or take it in a nail-biter.

Calling it for Philadelphia, I like Brent Celek as a sleeper tight end. L.J. Smith is only going to see limited action, and Celek gets the start. For those of you trying to budget your roster for this week, Celek is a nice ‘buy low’ to go big at other positions.

Hot Hands: Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Brent Celek, Brandon Jacobs, David Akers

Bubble Boys: Eli Manning, Kevin Boss, Domenik Hixon, Ahmad Bradshaw, Derrick Ward

Cold Shoulders: L.J. Smith, Amani Toomer

Wild Card Weekend, Part 2: Sunday’s Hot Hands and Cold Shoulders

After a day’s worth of exciting, close games, Sunday is all about defense. The Ravens, Dolphins, Eagles and Vikings have all made a habit of getting after the quarterback and stopping the run.

In a playoff setting, I don’t think we see a lot of points today unless the Vikings or Eagles blow it open.

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

The Ravens ended on a hot streak, but Joe Flacco has done very little these past few weeks. In the playoffs, the Dolphins are going to shut down the run game, and I don’t think Flacco can compensate with a limited amount of turnovers coming his way from Chad Pennington’s excellent game management.

Miami should take care of the ball and get it done, and I think the star of the game is Chad Pennington. Davone Bess is a nice play as a possession receiver, but unless this game gets broken open, Ted Ginn Jr. should have only a few shots make it into his hands.

On the running side of the ball, it’s hard to like anyone. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, much like Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, have been back and forth all season, but Brown is the better bet here. Baltimore’s running committee has only one name you need to know, McClain.

LeRon McClain runs hard enough to get his, but he won’t be breaking 70+ yard plays in this one like he did against the Cowboys. Other than him, you don’t want to rely on Willis McGahee to make an appearance or Ray Rice to get a chance.

Derrick Mason is probably the best chance of a “big play” receiver in this game, where defense should rule the day. Even though he is injured, he won’t sit out this playoff appearance. Flacco will be targeting him if they need to score.

You could take a flier on Anthony Fasano at tight end, but he and Todd Heap probably won’t be doing much more than blocking.

If you want to take a kicker in this one, I think Matt Stover is a safe bet because the Ravens are bound to find themselves in several long third down situations. And now that I said that, Stover will have one field goal and an extra point in this game.

Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Donovan McNabb and the Eagles are riding a hot streak, and it hasn’t been inspired by Brian Westbrook. That’s a good sign heading into a run-stopping defense like Minnesota. McNabb should play some inspired football and expose a weak Viking secondary. There’s no telling who his leading receivers will be, but I like   McNabb in this game.

The Vikings should lean on the run, but Adrian Peterson, struggling through injuries, should be able to do very little as long as the Eagles bring it like they did against the Cowboys. Brian Dawkins and the Eagles defense are ferocious when called upon.

I think this game gets pinned on Tarvaris Jackson, and he doesn’t have the tools to keep up with McNabb just yet.

For fantasy, I have to like McNabb and Bernard Berrian, simply because Berrian will be a big target in the Vikings offense when the run is stopped. Visanthe Shiancoe should show up to make some big plays, but in the end, I think you’re better off owning Eagles than Vikings.

This contest will probably be back and forth, but the Eagles start scoring on defense, they could run away with it. David Akers and Ryan Longwell are both decent kickers for this game.

Wild Card Weekend, Part 1: Saturday’s Hot Hands and Cold Shoulders

Here we are in the postseason, and just because the regular season is over, that doesn’t mean your fantasy football season has to come to and end.

Before we dive into our offseason coverage on how to make you a better fantasy football player and more attractive to the opposite sex, we’ll be covering the playoffs “game preview” style and starting with this week’s Wild Card Weekend.

In fact, I’ll be playing the ESPN Gridiron Playoff Challenge just to satisfy the itch for a few more weeks. You have no idea how good a hit it is…

I’d offer prizes, but then I would have to give something away — and didn’t we just do enough of that this holiday season. As a worthy substitute, you could consider joining up with the Bruno Boys’ league and stealing some of their prized booty.

Now, on to the previews … that’s why you’re here anyway, not for the Booty.

Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals

Holy crap! The Buzzsaw in the postseason IN Arizona — and they barely sold enough tickets. I am not sure who takes this game. I know the Cardinals have the horrible playoff reputation and the shaky games as of late, but if you don’t think that Anquan Boldin is going to be head slamming people to make a playoff win happen, then you just don’t respect your facial bones.

You have to love Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin here in what could be a high-scoring affair. Matt Ryan won’t be a slouch, but rookie quarterbacks don’t have a good record in the playoffs.

Michael Turner is the best lock there is in this game — and I’m starting him. If Atlanta does get the win, it will be because of Turner. The Cardinals could let him go off early in the game even if the Falcons don’t get to control the clock with a lead in the second half.

The Cardinals, on the other hand, have a risky situation at running back with Edgerrin James likely to get a start and Tim Hightower vulturing touchdowns. I’d take James if you need a yardage guy, but I’m not sure you can bet on the Cardinals scoring enough on the ground to make Hightower a good play.

If it came down to salary cap, I’d pay the price for Turner and Warner if you can afford it. More power to you if you can afford to grab Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald, but I dislike the probability that one goes off in spite of the other. They are two-headed receiving beast, and it’s hard to pick just one.

Roddy White makes a great bargain since we know he’ll be targeted quite a bit by the rookie QB and faces a Cardinals defense always ready to give up the big play — even to Tarvaris Jackson. White’s good for at least one score, and he’s more of a sure thing than the Arizona receivers.

I’m projecting this one ends up on the over rather than the under — currently set at an over/under of 51 points. If you can get your hands on any of these guys, I’d do it. There probably won’t be much kicking in this one, but Jason Elam and Neil Rackers should see a little short action when drives are stalled short of a score. I’d lean towards Elam.

And, obviously, I wouldn’t look to start either of these teams on defense this weekend.

Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers

It’s actually a good thing that this game is away. Even though the Colts looked more at home in their new stadium late in the season, it’s not quite the comfort zone it should be yet, and they already beat the Chargers in San Diego once at h this year. Now, they just have to go back and do it again.

In the first matchup, it was a close contest decided by a game-ending kick from Adam Vinatieri. The Chargers just left too much time on the clock when they tied it up and gave the ball back to Peyton Manning. It’ll probably look a lot similar tonight.

The Chargers, a quarterback-friendly team this year, just don’t have enough on defense to stop Peyton Manning on a game-winning drive. His will should be the deciding factor.

That said, Peyton Manning is probably the best fantasy bet you can take this postseason with Rivers just slightly behind him. Both quarterbacks have gone off several times this season, but Manning has the Chargers defense in his favor and a hot streak on his way into the playoffs.

The Colts defense, while questionable, is pretty good against the pass, and they could at least encourage San Diego to take a different approach.

The Chargers will probably look to LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles to support their efforts and keep Manning off the field, so I like both of them. For salary cap purposes, I’d actually go with a bargain in Darren Sproles, who had two touchdowns to L.T.’s three in the season finale against the Broncos. Sproles’ explosiveness is worth betting on for the price he’ll run you.

UPDATE: With news breaking of L.T.’s injury, Sproles looks like an even better play. L.T. will still make a go of it, but it’s hard to say how much he will be able to do. Looks unlikely that he’ll be a big factor.

The Colts backs are not nearly as valuable. There are too many question marks around Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes to trust them. Even when Addai starts, Rhodes sometimes gets the scores. I’d avoid them if you can.

As far as the receivers, I like Reggie Wayne, of course, and Vincent Jackson just a slight bit less. From there, it gets iffy. I’d rather have Dallas Clark than any other tight end in the playoffs at this point, even over Antonio Gates or Bo Scaife, once the Titans start playing.

Again, there’s not much to bet on with these two defenses. The Colts are questionable and the Chargers are not trustworthy. With such a selection of defenses playing tomorrow, it’d be better to choose between Miami or Baltimore in what should be a contest decided by who plays the most mistake-free football.

With an over/under of 50 in this game as well, it’s a safe bet to go with Colts and Chargers offensive studs when you can get your hands on them. Manning should be worth the price, and Rivers is a decent substitute if the commercial buckethead is out of your price range.

Adam Vinatieri is a good choice at kicker, but other options like David Akers and Ryan Longwell look good for tomorrow’s games as well. It is, as always, a toss up at kicker. Flip a coin, throw a dart at the board and then just pick one.

The good thing about salary caps in playoff fantasy football is that you can just use however much money you have left over for your kicker after you’ve put together your team. Easy call.

Foolish Thoughts on Week 4: Postgame reactions to the week that fantasy forgot

Where did that Carson Palmer injury come from on Sunday morning? I lucked out played against him this week, but I didn’t hear a word about it until I saw him putting up zero points heading into halftime. Enough with the quiet injuries already.

I’m still shocked there was an Ocho Cinco sighting without Palmer in the lineup.

Denver Broncos lose to the Kansas City Chiefs. That was unbelievable enough, but it just sounds silly when you consider that both Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall had big days. Unfortunately, they also fumbled. They’ll have to fix up that offense before Tampa Bay this week. I don’t think Larry Johnson is that good. Denver’s defense is that bad.

Royal had 100+ yards in the loss. I see him taking a Patrick Crayton of 2007 value. When Marshall has an average or less spectacular performance, Royal will have a big game, but when Marshall is out of this world, Royal is limited to something around 80 yards and a rare TD.

David Garrard might be hitting his stride. He’s getting back to being mobile to compensate for issues with the offensive line. Garrard is worth holding onto until after his bye. A Jags transition to a pass-first offense with Garrard threatening to run could make him increasingly more valuable in fantasy.

Is Matt Jones for real or is this just some residual effect of the drugs?

Matt Schaub woke up from his fantasy slumber in Week 4 as well. Was that Kevin Walter or Wes Welker out there? Either way, I want him on my fantasy roster.

By the way, Steve Slaton looks like he can do some big things. I’d make sure he’s on a roster this week if you’ve been ignoring my constant recommendation that you pick him up.

Brett Favre disappoints on Monday night and then fires back with six touchdowns this week — including one to the rookie TE Dustin Keller. (Get him.)

I can’t believe he took it up a notch with the Jets wide receivers so quickly. Coles is supposed to hate him for replacing his best friend, Chad Pennington, but I guess being mad at Favre is like ignoring a rocket-fast bullet flying into your chest. You just have to catch it.

Anquan Boldin certainly isn’t afraid to take a monster hit or run right into coverage. Glad he’s okay. There’s no way you should trade for him now when his value is at its peak, but if the owner gets scared of the injury or Boldin misses some time, make an offer. Boldin could win you several games down the stretch.

The Jets defense is becoming a potential fantasy play…but so is Kyle Orton.

J.T. O’Sullivan was underwhelming in this one, but he’s no Drew Brees. The 49ers will continue to develop a rhythm with their passing game should remain a fantasy threat on offense down the stretch. O’Sullivan’s a great QB2, but he’ll enter into a rough patch the next few weeks before he hits the next nice patch of matchups.

Atlanta corners are just bad — and especially bad against Steve Smith. Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith like being together in that offense. Delhomme likes them there, too.

When Tennessee plays Minnesota, you don’t expect to see 30 points on the board. Chris Johnson benefited from the LenDale White fumble and had a bigger game than anyone expected. Johnson’s basically become a must start in the Tennessee offense even though he splits time. More TDs would be nice though, Chris.

Greg Jennings finally scores a touchdown…and then another one. I know Aaron Rodgers got banged up and mistreated, but it was the Bucs defense. He’ll bounce back, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t start in Week 5 to torch the Atlanta corners (and get Greg Jennings another TD for this season).

Don’t sleep on Jordy Nelson. The rookie has talent and Rodgers’ trust.  As long as James Jones is out, Jordy Nelson is a borderline starter or WR3.

Where did Jerramy Stevens go this week? Jail?

Warrick Dunn is reducing Earnest Graham’s value. They are both being paid the same amount of green, and if you take away the two big runs that Graham has broken, he isn’t getting a lot of action. I think I’m worried if I am a Graham owner. Might be time to buy low on someone else. (Psst, Ryan Grant)

I am convinced that I have mind control after I commanded the Buffalo interception return for a touchdown and the long bomb to Lee Evans. Seriously, I was looking at my ESPN live scoring, and I asked myself why Buffalo had done nothing on defense…and why hadn’t Lee Evans gotten more than ONE throw. Prayers answered.

Trent Green is NOT a better quarterback than Marc Bulger, but maybe the Buffalo defense went a little easy on him since no one wanted a death on their hands if they sacked him into his last concussion.

What happened to the Cowboys on Sunday? Yes, being from Big D, I am a Cowboys fan. Loathe me.

I respected the Dallas corners, but this far into the season with no interceptions? Pacman really did just become just “Adam” this season. I no longer give them credit for their skills until the get an INT.

The Cowboys offense fell asleep in the second quarter — along with the corners — and Felix Jones has got to get at least one carry. Wade Phillips said the Cowboys have no plays designed for Jones in comeback situations. How about every game-changing run he’s had so far this season?

The Chargers really have given up a touchdown to a tight end every week this season. Even Zach Miller gets one for the Raiders. I’m starting Anthony Fasano if I have him this week against the Chargers. The TMR agrees.

JaMarcus Russell may still be young, but that guy can throw. Dynasty leaguers should note that potential.

DeSean Jackson finally gets his first TD in the NFL. I don’t think he let the ball go at all, but he caught this one in the end zone. Then, he fumbled a punt. Rookie.

Is Kyle Orton becoming a decent fantasy play? Someone pinch me…or slap me…or knock me out. This fantasy surge just can’t happen.

But Neckbeard has Detroit and Atlanta the next two weeks. Is it the mustache?

Can David Akers make field goals anymore? Rocca doesn’t like his chances. How close does he need to be these days?

If Westbrook had been in this game, he would have gotten that touchdown.

Joe Flacco can extend the play, hit his receivers and, like Russell, he’s got a gun. Unfortunately, he’s still a rookie. He’s going to fumble and make mistakes, and he did.

Where is Ray Rice? I hate you LeRon McClain and your last TD that cost me a match this week. That big boy might just be a waiver wire gem all season as long as McGahee can’t stay healthy.

Weeks like Week 4 are why projections can drive you crazy. Better lineups next week, and cheers and beers to all who started Brett Favre.