Week 10 Starts and Sits: Chris Johnson lives! Maybe. Sort of.

Even if Chris Johnson will only have one more good game this season, this is the game to start him. The Jaguars owe us that.

And Matt Forte could be in for a big game of his own if Matchups is correct that Trestman will lean on the run to protect a possibly not 100 percent Jay Cutler.

Is DeMarco Murray a safe bet the rest of the way? Keepers will take that chance. Continue reading

Week 2 Starts: What do we know now?

Week 2 gives us a little more clarity, but a number of poor showings have us concerned. I wouldn’t go betting an eyebrow on the outcome of any of your fantasy performances.

My big roster question comes down to whether I can trust T.Y. Hilton to get involved this week. Despite all the matchup love he’s getting, he’s going to be benched on my fantasy squad until he has a worthwhile performance.

As always, I recommend you start your week with Evan Silva’s matchup analysis. Be sure to read all about Marlon Brown and the other sleepers Silva highlights in the mix. Continue reading

If you screw up my team, I'm going to cut your penis into thin slices of salami

The League S03E13: The Funeral for Kevin’s Championship [Season 3 Finale]

This is why we can’t have nice things. Ruxin stroked out. Kevin got everyone busted for redrawing the draft order, and Andre still doesn’t have an ICE. How can we save this season?

We all got a bit of a scare in the last episode. Could Ruxin be dead? Will his face really stick like that? And who takes over his team?

You’ll be delighted to know that he lived — at least long enough for Rafi to rack up several attempted murder charges.

In my view, killing Ruxin would be a step in the wrong direction, so I’m glad Rafi’s thinly veiled attempts to smother his brother-in-law were a complete failure. He probably made more progress in spitting game at the gruff nurse.

Of course, Rafi first ensured Ruxin’s legacy by procuring his sperm in the most humane way possible. That’s all a decent guy could ask, right?

How? I jerked you off. Like a dog.

While Rafi may have a special way of coping with his brother-in-law’s close encounter with death, the rest of the league is a little more level-headed. Only Taco, sensitive soul that he is, feels changed in ways he nor we fully understand by the “near-death” experience of being near Ruxin’s near-death experience.

But the rest of the league just needs to know who’s going to take over Ruxin’s team for his showdown with Pete in the Sacko Bowl. For that answer, they turn to Ruxin’s video will, carefully crafted by his own law firm. And it’s a piece fit for the message boards itself.

After dictating that his golf clubs should be sold on Craigslist or thrown away rather than given to any of his very disappointed friends, Ruxin goes on to torture them even further by confessing that he was the one to trash Pete’s favorite vinyl and that he never really understood what Kevin saw in Jenny.

One might have expected that to be the other way around. But then again, evil Ruxin has always been full of surprises.

Eventually (and maybe the stalling was all part of the game for him), Ruxin finally gets to the issue at hand. He leaves his team to Andre — a surprise option D for most odd makers — before  finishing with a final, sounding “Suck It!”

So we can gather that, in the event of his death, Ruxin wanted to leave us all with a joke.

The anxiety of managing Ruxin’s team in the Sacko Bowl immediately starts to show on Andre, who tries to channel his own inner Ruxin around the gang by swilling vodka and offering to buy hotel rooms  as if it will somehow empower him to run Ruxin’s team more effectively.

Couldn’t he just laugh maniacally and second-guess all his lineup decisions? Seems to work for Ruxin-everyone-calls-me-Ruxin himself.

But Andre’s job gets a little more difficult when Rafi discovers he’s been left out of the family fortune and demands they run the team together, as Rafi is the rightful next of kin. And Rafi’s knifey conversation style can be pretty convincing.

A visit to Ruxin provides them with only positive reinforcement…
If you screw up my team, I'm going to cut your penis into thin slices of salami

But Jenny has better luck.

Knowing her husband, Kevin, is hopelessly dependent on this season counting to validate his abilities as a fantasy football addict and as a man (because of the bet Jenny and Kevin made), Jenny pays Ruxin a visit to beg him to allow this season to count.

Dressing as Sofia to bypass the nurses station (“That Puerto Rican slut is my husband’s mistress!”), Whore-Jenny meets with Ruxin and gets him to agree to allow the season to count as long as he doesn’t win the Sacko.

But the charity is not strong with the Pete one. He’s done  his St. Pete duties. Now he’s just the old, mean Pete, unwilling to take a dive in the Sacko Bowl to save  the season for Kevin’s championship because it would be too dangerous for him as the ruthless Sacko del Toro commissioner.

One ray of hope does emerge from this intervention with Pete in the form of Taco — who else? Finally making sense of the life-altering moment that was peeing on a post-stroke Ruxin, Taco donates his money to Matt Forte’s charity, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. The donation warrants a visit from Forte to Ruxin’s bedside, which could motivate the fallen villain just enough to get him back on his game.

But Matt Forte’s official visit is hijacked by Andre, who’s sizing up Forte’s knee in order to properly set Ruxin’s lineup. Forte’s only real encouragement for a very excited Ruxin is a jersey and a slap of the football into Ruxin’s nuts. But I have to say Ruxin seemed to enjoy it, even through the post-stroke duckface.

As the Sacko Bowl showdown draws near, Ruxin learns how to use a mouth device to type and click the trackpad on his laptop, which allows him to make add/drops that confuse and upset both Andre and Rafi. Rafi just wants Bruce Banner on the team so The Incredible Hulk can win it all for his brother-in-law. Is that so much to ask?

It’s Shiva that finally comes to Ruxin’s rescue. While being wheeled out to see his own wife, eager to see him start walking so they can get him out of the hospital, Ruxin spots Dr. Shiva — the person, not the trophy — in the hallway.

The sight of her and the accompanying vision sends Ruxin stumbling down the hallway to exchange a sloppy, duckfaced kiss with the embodiment of the trophy he still owns, at least for now.

Much like kissing a frog, kissing Shiva cures Ruxin of all the effects of his stroke, and, instantly, he speaks clearly and walks without a limp.

Back at Kevin’s house, the Shiva Bowl is wholly uneventful. Taco blows off even watching the games because he wants Kevin to win anyway and has more important things to do, and the lackluster experience just takes the fun out of bringing home the trophy, at last, for Kevin.

What good is a trophy without a face to rub it in?

The Sacko Bowl ends up the same way. Against the combined powers of stroked Ruxin, Andre, and knifey-Rafi, Pete wins easily to doom Ruxin to a term as the Sacko and put the very legitimacy in the league in danger.

But the gig is up! It’s then that the  invites to the funeral arrive.

It seems Taco, disgusted by his fantasy football league this season, has been plotting all along to put it down. So he’s prepared a viking funeral for all the league’s memorabilia, including the Sacko, the Shiva, Kegel the Elf, and Andre’s laptop (“This is where the evil all began”).

Rafi arrives in the Bobbum van just in time to deliver the dead — err, not so dead — body of Ruxin to the festivities.

But only the crazies (Do I have to say? Okay, Rafi and Taco) and Ruxin really want to see this season burn.

Kevin desperately wants the season to count so that he can finally put his name on the Shiva, but Ruxin is determined not to let that happen.

It’s at that touching moment, standing by a boat full of fantasy football memories and a torch-wielding Taco, that Jenny reveals the news: she’s pregnant. So whether or not Kevin wins the Shiva, at least he won the bet.

That seems to calm him down, but they have to fight over something, right?

Ready to do this thing, Taco and Kevin become locked in a struggle for who gets to light the funeral pyre. When Pete tries to intervene, he gets knocked to the ground right on top of the hot SACKO brand from Andre’s weekly forced steak ceremony, searing “SACKO” into Pete’s own flesh.

Appropriate for the Sacko del Toro commissioner, you might say.

While Pete’s tending to his damaged skin and pride, he distracts everyone just enough for Ruxin to light the boat on fire and Taco to kick it out into the water.

For a moment, it’s actually quite peaceful as they all watch the memories of three seasons of bickering, trash-talking and tomfoolery float away.

It was good times, wasn’t it? You were there…and you were there…

However, touching moments are for losers, not champions. Kevin can’t settle for that. So Kevin, not content to be just a father, dives in the water after his Shiva — Shiva blasting all the way.

Will he drown? Is his life in danger? And more importantly, will they recover the Shiva?!?

In any event, the credits roll, and once again, we’re without The League for a few months. I don’t always comment on the overall quality of the show as we go through it episode by episode. I prefer to keep these as recaps rather than reviews — I’m no TV critic — but I enjoyed Season 3 a bit more than I did Season 2 of The League. I  think it found a bit of that spark that gave Season 1 so much hype without losing the depth and character they developed in Season 2.

I can’t wait to see what they put together next year. Oh, and yes, there will be a Season 4.

“We are thrilled to do more shows with a cast that makes us laugh hard everyday, on a network that actually lets us put those jokes on air,” the Schaffers, executive producers of ‘The League,’ said. “In the words of Taco: ‘The League’ on FX on Thursday nights is a law, like water or dinosaurs.”

Water or dinosaurs indeed.

What do you want to see out of The League in Season 4?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Memorable quotes from Episode 13:

RAFI: “You had a stroke, okay? So it’s time to die…Great news! Your dick still works. I harvested a bunch of your sperm, so you’re going to live forever.”

RAFI: “It was a murder boner. What do you think it is?”

TACO: “You know what? He’s been through a lot. We should just give him the Shiva.”
KEVIN: “You shut your goddamn mouth!”

RUXIN [on video]: “Hello, I’m Rodney Ruxin, everyone-calls-me-Ruxin.”

TACO: “So you would pay to see two guys having sex?”

RAFI: “Now we’re having a conversation!”

RAFI: “I am allowed to carry a gun if I don’t tell anybody I have it. It’s called a concealed weapon!”

RAFI: “It’s fantasy football. So the Hulk should be able to be on the team.”

RUXIN: “If you screw up my team, I’ll cut your penis into thin slices of salami.”

RAFI: “You know what I like about you? You’re making me work for it.

JENNY: “Are you trying to ‘high-na-tize’ me right now?!”

KEVIN: “Ew. Feels like I’m kissing Al Davis.”

RUXIN: “Liar.”
JENNY: “There you are!”

RUXIN: “Why are you dressed like a whore?”
JENNY: “I had to dress like your wife to get in here.”
RUXIN: “Fives.”

KEVIN: “This is the most important thing that’s ever happened to me in my life! [To Jenny] No offense.”

RUXIN: “Classic Forte burn.”

KEVIN [to Taco]: “Hey, Vincent Van Slow, what are you drawing over there?”

RAFI: “Hey, do you still have those  butt plugs  with Bert and Ernie’s face on them?”
KEVIN: “Those were my daughter’s tubby toys…”
RAFI: “She should not play with those. Those should be burned.”

RAFI: “Is he from Super Mario Bros.? Because, if it was on me, I would have picked up Luigi.”

RUXIN: “Andre? Oh, no, that human kumquat’s got my team.”

PETE: “…it is decided!”

PETE: “It’s an honor. It’s a Dre-peat!”

KEVIN: “Oh, where did this platypus get a boat?”

TACO: “This whole league is tarnished. We need burn it, bury it, and start clean just like Pete did with his wife.”

RAFI: “You sure it’s not my baby? I did jerk off in your underwear drawer.”

RUXIN: “You can take my draft pick…but you can never take my Shiva! This season never happened!”

KEVIN: “Any asshole can be a father. I want to be a champion!”

TACO: “My brother’s such an idiot.”

Images thanks to the wonderful work of  RAFI BOMB!

Jamaal Charles owners: How to replace your stud running back

If you lost Jamaal Charles on Sunday, you don’t have a lot of options. He was your first round pick, and unless you play in a very small league, it’s unlikely you have someone else of Charles’ caliber on your roster to pick up the slack.

You also aren’t going to find many first-round quality players on the waiver wire. So at this point, you are left with the desperation options.

It’s time to beg, borrow, cheat, or steal.

One note before we start — you don’t have to do these in this order. Begging is for the worst off of the Charles’ owners, but all of us could benefit from “stealing,” even if we didn’t lose Charles. In fact, “stealing” is probably a good place to start for the majority of you. That’s why I put it at the end…

BEG

A trade is the fastest way to fix your roster when you face a catastrophic injury like losing Charles. You won’t ever have as strong a team as you had before, but just like getting burned on a bad investment, you have to take stock of what you have, package your assets, and sell off what you can to improve your net worth (in this case, your team).

Now I’m assuming you’re in dire straits without Charles. You might not have another running back capable of even RB2-quality production. Maybe you were rotating a stream of flex-level running backs in alongside Charles. Maybe the only other stud on your roster was your top-5 quarterback.

If you can field a respectable roster in Week 3 without Charles, hold off and move on to the less drastic strategies below. But if you’re rocking back and forth in the fetal position while screaming “Jamaaaaaal. WHY?!?,” stay with me here…

Hopefully, you drafted some good depth at at least one position. It’s probably safe to assume it’s not running back, so let’s pretend you have a little extra talent at quarterback or wide receiver.

It’s time to start talking to every owner in your league who has a hole at wide receiver or quarterback and a running back worth starting every week. Package what you have and shop it.

Start your negotiations by making a reasonable offer, but if that goes south, beg. Beg like you’re life depended on it. Play the pity card, and maybe someone will grant you a chance at their prize running back.

Target the owners of Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Arian Foster, and Shonn Greene, who may be disappointed in what they’ve brought to the box score so far. You don’t have the luxury of being disappointed in them. You just need high-ceiling starters.

Chris Johnson would be the first player I’d target. Foster or Jackson might come at a discount since they are currently injured, and Greene owners might be convinced that he won’t rise to the occasion this season either.

For the right price, I’d take a chance at Greene.

Float your starting-quality backup quarterback out there packaged alongside one of your WR2 or WR1-level wide receivers. If you feel good enough about your QB2, try offering your stud-level starter to the guy that drafted Peyton Manning.

It’s a great time to trade Matthew Stafford to the highest bidder if you smartly drafted a quality alternative in case Stafford didn’t make it a full 16 games. Maybe you’ll miss out on his breakout season, but you could end up with a fantasy stud to replace what you lost in Charles.

BORROW

If trading for a stud or potential stud doesn’t work, it’s time to look at the lesser options and “borrow.”

You’re not actually borrowing in this situation. You’re still trading, but you’re looking at the potential to upgrade this player down the road.

If left with no other options, go ahead and look at trading depth for depth. Maybe you could deal a backup tight end, WR3, or your backup quarterback to give yourself some more depth at running back.

Nabbing someone like Joseph Addai, Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller, or Ryan Grant could still prove valuable. Don’t write anyone off. But don’t take any terrible deals either just to add a running back to your squad. You have to get a decent value for the package you put together. A bad trade would pretty much sink your season.

You might try to sneak a deal for a promising up-and-comer.

Make a play for Ben Tate whose owner may not need his opportunistic play for the next several weeks while Foster heals up as much as you could. Look for James Starks, who is rising in Green Bay. Maybe the rest of your league hasn’t noticed yet. Finally, it pays off to have a guy in your league who lives under a rock!

While getting a running back out of the deal would be preferred, it’s okay to consider a trade that upgrades your other positions. Anything that improves your team will help, and maybe that additional strength at quarterback or wide receiver could be turned into running back depth at a later date.

While you might not start these running backs right away or have no need for the additional depth at another position, these players are good to have. You can hold onto them for now, start them when they have decent matchups, and maybe somewhere down the road, they’ll have a big enough game for you to deal them again.

On that next trade, that’s when you might land a stud to replace Charles.

CHEAT

Okay, I realize most people don’t want to cheat. But some do. And I feel it’s my duty to cover this even if I don’t wholeheartedly endorse it. In fact, I’ll despise you if you pull it off. But hey, we’re in it to win it. So here goes…

This one’s the hard one. You might not have a chance at swindling an owner in your league, and even if you do, you might not get this trade past the rest of the owners in your league. But…rumors and misinformation might be a decent way to get a fantasy starter off another owner.

All it takes is a text, presumed to be a forward from Twitter, with “RT @AdamSchefter” in front, and you could have another owner thinking they need to sell high. (Kidding, of course. Who would do that?)

Haven’t you always wanted to be “that guy?”

You could make a play for Matt Forte by talking up Marion Barber’s upcoming return and his ability to vulture every touchdown from Forte the rest of the way. It is possible, even if it’s not probable. So it’s not a lie, MOM!

Sure, you still have to worry that it comes true, in some part, but Forte’s a decent recovery from losing Charles.

Steven Jackson owners might be willing to believe he’ll never be healthy again this season. He looked slow in the first game of the season, didn’t he? Might as well get a decent value for him rather than deal with his questionable status all season long.

Ryan Mathews certainly isn’t going to get enough touches to be worth anything in San Diego. So what if every analyst out there seems to believe he’s the better back. Tolbert is clearly the guy that’s going to get all the fantasy points, right?

Use rumors and speculation to your advantage, and you just might “negotiate” your way into a nice consolation prize.

But yes, if you pull this off, several people in your league will call you out for it. You’ll be cursed for the rest of the season, and you probably won’t even make it to the championship game due to karma. All wins have their price.

STEAL

There’s not going to be a lot on the waiver wire, but there’s enough. Now that you’ve lost Charles, it’s time to take everything you can and “steal” value for free off the wire.

First, your Kansas City replacements. Unfortunately, they’ll cost the most and probably produce the least.

Thomas Jones + Dexter McCluster + Le’Ron McClain

I covered this in this week’s waiver wire post, but Jones probably assumes the lead back duties here. He’s not exciting; in fact, he’s looked totally finished so far this season. But he’s the guy listed second on the depth chart, and he’s likely to get the goal line looks, at least initially.

Jones is the running back I’d try to pickup first, but don’t break the bank to get him. He’s not worth it, especially with how lackluster the Chiefs offense has been thus far. Thomas Jones is not going to spark anything for them.

Dexter McCluster’s been used as a gadget guy by the Chiefs and has gotten more touches than Jones so far this year up until Charles was injured. With his ability to act as a receiver or running back (not to mention his eligibility as both a WR and RB on some fantasy sites), McCluster may actually see the most productive touches in Charles’ absence. He’ll also come at a lower cost than Jones if you’re having to bid on McCluster in a FAAB.

The dark horse in this is Le’Ron McClain. We’ve seen him take more than his fair share of the work during his time in Baltimore, and now he’s in the mix in Kansas City.

Jones is old, and McCluster is undersized. So the bulk of the workload could easily land in McClain’s lap. Again, he’s not going to blow the doors off anyone, but he could be productive if the Chiefs pick themselves up off the floor.

Assuming you miss out on Jones and McCluster, stash McClain. You never know.

And here’s where the real stealing comes in. If you have the roster space, I’d claim every single decent handcuff back still on waivers that you can. That list includes Deji Karim in Jacksonville, Kendall Hunter in San Francisco, Delone Carter in Indy, and Michael Bush in Oakland.

Bush and Carter have carved a role of sorts on their offenses for now with the potential to do more, especially if there’s an injury. Hunter’s not getting a lot of touches, but he certainly looks like he could do plenty with them after leading the league in rushing during the preseason. And Karim will continue to protect Maurice Jones-Drew’s long-term health by taking a few touches each week until MJD suffers a setback or another injury.

If they’re out there, I’d go get Willis McGahee, who could end up winning John Fox’s favor if Moreno can’t stay healthy, and LaDainian Tomlinson, who still might be the most productive back on the Jets, first.

You’re goal with these backups is to be first in line to benefit when the next devastating injury hits fantasy owners. And in the meantime, you can tell your tale of woe over a campfire to the rest of your league to scare them into trading you for their own handcuff.

It’s not going to make you any friends, but this strategy is an act of desperation.

And if you can’t “steal” your way back into fantasy relevance, well…you better start trolling the waiver wire and maximizing every spot on your roster. You’re going to need every point you can get the rest of the way.

RIP Jamaal’s ACL. Pour some out for your homies’ knees. And fingers crossed this doesn’t happen to any other first-round picks this season.

http://youtu.be/dqHKf5NuVtg

And seriously, what’s going on in KC? Charles is their third ACL tear this season.

Believe it or not: Brandon Lloyd, Hakeem Nicks Prove They Are Legit and More Top Scores from Week 5

This week’s top performers weren’t too surprising. A few of them we’ve heard of before, and a few of them have already been consistently working their way towards greatness over the first four weeks of the season. Then, there are the defenses.

Matt Forte, Bears RB: 166 yards, 2 TDs, 2 catches for 22 yards

Surprise, surprise, Forte can still run the ball. With Cutler out, Martz finally let them keep the ball on the ground, and Forte produced. It was the only possible strategy with Todd Collins starting at quarterback, but only time will tell if Martz ever lets it happen again.

Martz’s offense is really all about the passing game, and Forte’s doing well enough in that. But it’s always good to see that, if called upon, he can run the ball, even against a defense that expects him to be the entire offense and focuses on stopping him.

Malcom Floyd, Chargers WR: 8 catches for 213 yards, 1 TD

When Vincent Jackson decided to sit out 2010, Floyd owners hoped he’d be able to step right into Jackson’s shoes as the big play threat. While Antonio Gates has gotten most of the fantasy points thus far, Floyd finally had a “breakout” level performance against the Raiders in a loss. Let’s hope he keeps getting the looks.

Ray Rice, Ravens RB: 133 yards, 2 TDs, 4 catches for 26 yards

If you’ve been waiting for the Ray Rice you drafted to show up for your fantasy team, I think it’s safe to say he’s back.

Detroit Lions D/ST: 6 points allowed, 2 INTs, 1 fumble recovery, 2 TDs

Unfortunately, they don’t get to play the Rams every week. The important thing to note here is that the Lions’ defense isn’t without its playmakers, and they are hungry for wins this season. They may not be a top dog in the NFC North just yet, but they are beginning to turn the corner.

Oakland Raiders D/ST: 27 points allowed, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 TD

The much-feared Raider defense? No, not so much. But they did turn in a big day as the Chargers’ gave the ball away, even while putting points on the board. The Chargers really shot themselves in the foot in this one.

Brandon Lloyd, Broncos WR: 5 catches for 135 yards, 2 TDs

I hate, hate, HATE that I missed on Lloyd, especially after seeing a week like this one. The Broncos may not have a consistent No. 1 receiver, but Kyle Orton is definitely looking Lloyd’s way each and every game. He’s been huge, and this week’s performance was his biggest yet.

I was offered Lloyd for Michael Bush during the first two weeks of the season, but I passed…and laughed it off, in fact. Now it seems that might have been a bargain. (To my credit, the owner who offered him to me dropped him the very next week. They didn’t see it either. I’m still not sure if I should believe.)

Hakeem Nicks, Giants WR: 12 catches for 130 yards, 2 TDs

So I guess this is going to happen more than once this season. Nicks is finally the Plaxico Burress replacement that the Giants needed out there, and Steve Smith will have to take a backseat in the touchdown department. That’s the good and the ugly of it.

And the ones we expect to be up there: Chris Johnson, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Miles Austin, Josh Scobee (There is nothing more to be said when a kicker makes this list.), Shaun Hill, and Kyle Orton.

The League S02E02: Rafi Vom. That’s a shot, right, “Bro-Lo El Cuñado”?

What goes up must come down. That’s a law of marriage. In this week’s episode of “The League,” titled “Bro-Lo El Cuñado,” the married gents try to score points with the wives while Rafi begins to run amok throughout the league’s inner circle. Lots of vomit in this one so let’s get started with two fingers down the throat.

Kevin has Week 1 issues, but I really don’t understand them. He needs to know whether to start Ricky Williams or Toby Gerhart. Unless the writers predicted that the Vikings would trade Adrian Peterson for a receiver, that decision seems pretty cut and dry. Start Ricky Williams against the Buffalo Bills. (SPOILER: Ricky didn’t do that well, but neither did Gerhart.)

Maybe this is just a softball question for Jenny to see if she’s still pissed that Kevin wouldn’t let her in the league (SPOILER: She is), but rules be rules. Every commish knows that. He also knows how to end an argument in the bathroom: BM, or in this case “intimacy” while the wifey is in the bathroom. Jenny, well, she no likey: “Intimacy is spooning. This is like watching the Nature channel.”

This may be a little in the category of “things that I notice when I shouldn’t,” but did anyone else notice that Kevin looked tall enough to see himself in the bathroom mirror when he was sitting on the toilet. Does that mean…? I mean, do you look at yourself?

Now we’re at the bar. Sweetness. Kevin’s justifying his BM defense and says it’s “payback for the placenta” — “It looks like a Hefty bag that washed up on the shore.” Note to self: I don’t ever want to see a baby delivered.

Pete suggests the married guys figure out a way to make the Vegas trip up to their wives. No longer married but still thinking like a champion, that’s what I like about Pete.

Ruxin reveals his evil, maniacal way of making sure his hot wife stays happy: a grand gesture called “Terrific Lady Day.” But he gets cutoff when it comes to talking about sex with his wife. I have to agree with Pete on this one.

Once you put a ring on it, it’s just not worth sharing anymore. That’s your wife now, not some random you picked up at a bar. Dude stories no longer originate from your bedroom.

Ruxin kills the mood by telling everyone that Rafi is coming by for a drink. Buzzkill. But at least Taco isn’t here this time — no risk that the universe will collapse on itself. We find out that the gang calls Rafi “El Cuñado,” which means “brother-in-law” in Spanish but, as the league demonstrates, sounds dirty.

That’s true of a lot of Spanish words. Do you know what “cleanse” is in Spanish?

I feel justified in disliking Rafi as a character because the rest of the league does, but I’m afraid that as the season goes on, I’m going to start to like him, even if he is “a homeless, ethnic Santa Claus,” as Ruxin used to describe him.

After everyone recovers from the announcement that “El Cuñado” will not only be invading the league but also their social lives, Kevin sees Lily, a rival from work. Sounds like she’s better at rubbing elbows with the bossman than Kevin is. Anyone who uses “synergy” in daily work lingo probably is. They are also probably an asshole.

But as soon as she appears, Lily’s sucking face with Taco. Kevin goes over to them only to get the work-talk treatment.

If there’s one thing that is inappropriate for bar talk, it’s work talk when people you don’t work with are around. Sure, you can say you hate your job or “What day is it?” or “Man, the boss won’t like where I am at 10 a.m. on a Monday” in a bar, but don’t bring up the work talk at happy hour or at night in front of others. Just don’t. *Jumps off soapbox to return to writing recap*

Taco plays the cool card by explaining that he only “humors” Kevin and the league by playing fantasy football. Stab me in the eye.

Anyone who plays fantasy football knows that you can’t play just to humor someone. It takes dedication, and whether you like it or not, it eventually leads to a complete obsession. It’s inevitable. You start out just wanting to learn a few more things about football, maybe follow it in the offseason. Then BAM! You’re scratching at your neckbeard like a crackhead outside of a Best Buy squinting through the glass to see the latest SportsCenter update on Beanie Wells’ injury at 2 a.m. There is no middle ground.

Andre uses the “unblinking eye of Sauron” trash-talk. A classic line–some would even say legendary–but too easily countered by a “Frodo Baggins” reference, but before that can happen…Oh, Rafi’s back. Get him off the screen! What’s he got going on? Oh, he’s bragging about how much he is “killing it” in his fantasy football league? Before Week 1? What? Oh, he’s talking about soccer? And he calls it real football? Soccer is what assholes call it?

If Rafi never appears in another episode, I wouldn’t even question the writing. The league hates him, he takes another man’s beer as his own (Who does that?), and he is terrible at fantasy football. I get that he adds a little to the dynamic to the group, but if we had to eat one cast member to stay alive on an island, I know who we’d choose.

Ruxin, in the dick move of dick moves, tells Rafi that Pete and Andre are going to a party this weekend, but Pete is quick enough on his feet to convince Rafi that it’s his turn to be the designated driver…in Andre’s car. At least it’s almost the weekend.

Kevin decides to turn his work fundraiser dinner into an “adult weekend” with Jenny to win some points on his fantasy marriage team. I’ve never actually seen Ben Bernanke get a woman hot before…and I’m still trying to understand. It’s the stache, right?

At the fundraiser, Jenny’s pimping new earrings, scored as a gift from her mom and passed down from her grandmother. Obviously, she doesn’t bring the grandkid around enough because those earrings are straight bribery. I know how parents work.

Taco’s at the work function bar rockin’ an Uncle Frank suit for Lily, Kevin’s co-worker who is all over Taco’s junk. For a slacker, he certainly knows how to work those Type-A ladies. Jenny and Kevin make smalltalk, and somehow that gives Jenny the Ben Barnanke feeling (gotta be the stache), so the two of them head up to the room.

Maybe this deleted scene explains where Jenny found the inspiration…and then again, maybe not. At least it’s clear that Taco is in love.

Party time! Rafi, Andre, and Pete arrive at a house party complaining about how crappy Andre’s Porsche Cayenne drives. I’m guessing that’s very Porsche, but I wouldn’t know because I’m a Lambo man. Andre immediately begins the search for Molly, the chick he is there to see, but first, he has to give Rafi his number in case they get separated. Too clingy, that Rafi.

Pete discovers that Rafi is flasking it. Clearly, he doesn’t really get what a DD is, but it did give us a new definition to add to the fantasy football lexicon.

Designated Driver: “When you need somebody to drive, I do it.”

And we got this priceless exchange:

RAFI: “Like 30 minutes before we’re gonna leave, you give me the heads up. I’ll go to the bathroom, I’ll crap the booze out, have a mint, good to go.”
PETE: “Crap and a mint?”
RAFI: “Crap the booze out.”
PETE: “It works?”
RAFI: “Sorta. Yeah!”

Sorta Braylon Edwards!

At long last, we finally get a report from “Terrific Lady Day.” Looks like they had a nice little Saturday — a little Farmer’s Market, a little Pottery Barn, I’m sure. Ruxin also won points for getting Rafi into the fantasy football league. Ah-ha, now we see what evil hath Ruxin wrought. That’s so dick…but who can blame him?

Back at the party, Rafi’s swooping in on Andre’s girl. He even uses Andre’s car to his advantage, not unlike the way Taco used Andre’s ATM receipts to his advantage back in Season 1 — another Rafi-Taco similarity. You know, I just realized their names both have only four letters. I think Rafi-Taco is the new Lincoln-Kennedy. Maybe Rafi had a secretary named Taco, and Taco had a secretary named Rafi. This is getting too weird.

Andre tasks Pete with removing Rafi from the situation, and Pete promises to “do to him what I do to you.” Pete tells Rafi that a Matt Forte-lookalike across the room is, in fact, Matt Forte (worked on Andre with Anquan). The Matt Forte doppelgänger is getting tanked, so Rafi needs to trade him before the game tomorrow.

Rafi suggests he kill him first, but yeah, not the best of plans. I’ve seen “CSI.” A guy that hairy would never get away with it.

So Rafi decides to rush off to an Internet café to make a trade. Hold on there, and welcome to the 21st century, bud. We have smartphones, and you’re at a house party. There’s not a single computer or Internet-ready device there for you to use to log in to your fantasy team? TVs can manage your fantasy roster for you now, and Rafi has to go to an Internet café? I thought those were just so homeless people could access porn, as is their right as Americans.

The scheme works. Rafi bolts, but, unfortunately for Andre, he takes the girl and the car with him on his quest to find an “Internet café” late at night in Chicago. They have no hope of calling him because Andre gave him a fake number.

Kevin and Jenny just finished their Bernanke time. To cure his post-coital dry mouth, Kevin chugs a glass of water that just happened to contain Jenny’s brand new grandmother-inherited earrings. Time to join the bulimia team. Binge and purge!

Jenny and Kevin play doctor, but he won’t puke with the medicine-induced vomiting or the sucker punch to the stomach. Time for Phase 2: Jenny-monitored poop-n-sift. But before we get to that, they have to go back downstairs to hear the boss’ speech, and, of course, that’s when the medicine strikes.

We’ll call this Vomit Phase 3: the puke in front of your boss and co-workers phase. Now, not only is Kevin pegged as the character most likely to be killed off this season, he’s also probably the most likely character to join Taco’s ringtone business when he’s out of a job.

Ruxin checks out of “Terrific Lady Day” and finds a trade waiting for him. He’s a true player–laptop logged in and ready to go at all times.

Rafi’s just offered him Matt Forte, and he doesn’t know why. So he ties up his wife, Sofia, and blindfolds her, using his dirty talk delay to check the latest updates on Forte. Ruxin is the weakest spanker ever.

Pete and Andre show up to try and track down Rafi, but instead, they find Ruxin accepting the trade and about to dominate Andre on Sunday. Andre demands he drop Forte, and Pete and Andre follow him back into the bedroom to make it happen.

In the confusion of the silent argument over a half-naked, tied-up woman, Sofia mistakes Pete for Ruxin and starts given him the foot jibber treatment, which forces Ruxin’s hand. He makes the drop, and Pete and Andre vanish into the night.

But won’t the league now have to fight over who gets to claim Matt Forte off waivers as soon as Week 1 games are over?

Rafi shows up in Andre’s car and storms right into the bedroom to thank Ruxin for the trade, shutting “Terrific Lady Day” down for good. And as we close, we come full circle when Rafi comes down with Vomit Phase 1, caused by all the vanilla-scented candles.

Memorable “Might Be His Last Episode” Rafi One-Liners from Episode 2

RAFI: “I am going to have non-consensual sex with your face and your butt, and then I’m coming for your wife and your kid. I’m just kidding, man…”

RAFI: “Jukebox! I’m gonna put $7 worth a Hoobastank in it, and I’m coming back to hang with you, bros!”

RAFI: “Let’s all get the same girl pregnant tonight.”

ANDRE: “This is our 9/11.” [about Rafi]

RAFI: “Relax, man. You don’t have to cover her up. We shared a room until we were 18.”

Looking ahead at the next episode: Okay, okay, I get that Rafi is here to stay. He’s even growing on me a little. Just get us some fantasy football talk in there and school him up a bit. I’m hoping a Week 1 loss will give him a little drive to achieve.

[ Jump to Episode 3: "The White Knuckler" ]

Believe it or not: Arian Foster, Hakeem Nicks and More Top Scorers from Week 1

If you played against Arian Foster this week, you lost. This rule applies to Peyton Manning. But what should we expect in Week 2?

Arian Foster: 231 yards, 3 TDs, 1 pass for 7 yards

Believe It – Foster came up big in Week 1 for the owners who jumped on his sleeper bandwagon. This week’s performance even makes drafting him as a No. 2 running back, and not the sleeper he was this offseason, reasonable. Will he repeat a performance like this? Maybe when he faces the Colts’ miserable run defense again in Week 8. But until then, expect him to hold down the RB2 spot on your team just fine.

If you want a Foster on your roster (yeah, I just said that), wait a few weeks. He faces the Redskins and the Cowboys in Week 2 and 3, which should chip away at his epic Week 1 performance and make his owner’s asking price a big more reasonable. The price won’t go down after Foster blows up the Raiders in Week 4, and there are a few more nice matchups for Foster in the chewy center of the Texans schedule.

Matt Forte: 50 yards, 7 passes for 151 yards and 2 TDs

Believe It – Another popular sleeper candidate makes the list this week. We spent all offseason trying to figure out which Bears’ receiver would benefit the most from the new offensive system by Mike Martz. Turns out, it was Forte in Week 1. It was worrisome that he had trouble punching one in on Sunday, but we’ll have to hope that improves. For now, just be glad he’s a big part of the passing game in this mad scientist system. Expect a few more weeks in which he looks like the Forte of old (2008) and makes for a very nice RB2.

David Garrard: 16-of-21 for 170 yards and 3 TDs

Not Buying It – It’s hard to believe that the Jags won through the air with Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield and when facing Champ Bailey and the Broncos…but they did. Garrard did throw primarily to his tight end Marcedes Lewis, who scored on both his touches.

Needless to say, when the Jaguars defense doesn’t get them the prime field position they benefited from against the Broncos, Garrard will have a more difficult time putting up these kinds of numbers, and Garrard doesn’t have many pushover secondaries on his schedule. Fool me twice before I believe in you, Garrard.

Marcedes Lewis: 2 passes for 31 yards and 2 TDs

Not Buying It - It certainly is efficient to score on both your touches in one game, but it doesn’t lead me to believe you’ll do it again. Lewis may have improved this offseason and may now be the red zone target in the Jaguars offense, but that still doesn’t mean his next 31 yards will get him into the end zone. Don’t jump on this bandwagon just yet. Plenty of talent at tight end this year anyway.

Hakeem Nicks: 4 passes for 75 yards and 3 TDs

Believe It – Nicks was supposed to be the guy that replaced Plaxico Burress in the Giants offense. In Week 1, he did. He wasn’t the most targeted receiver on the field (Steve Smith), and he didn’t get the most yardage (Mario Manningham). But he did get all the scores against a passing defense that kept a tight lid on wide receivers last season. Without Kevin Boss (injured Sunday) in the lineup, Nicks is the lone big man in the passing game.

I was a big fan of the Giants’ Steve Smith last season, but this season, all bets are off in the passing game as long as Nicks stays healthy. Eli Manning now has three excellent receivers to target, and Nicks could end up with the most points at the end of the day because he’s the easiest to hit in the end zone. Get him on your roster if you want to play the receiver lottery with the Giants this season. Eli Manning might just show us that last year wasn’t just a fluke.

Austin Collie: 10 passes for 131 yards and a TD

Not Buying It - Collie got most of his yardage on just one play for a touchdown, and even though I expect him to be a regular weapon in the Colts’ offense all season, I can’t fully buy his big Week 1 performance because it won’t be a lock to happen again. He’s a great weekly sub if you have an opening for an occasional WR3, but don’t rush out to grab him. You’ll be taking a chance every time you start him.

Darren McFadden: 95 yards, 6 passes for 55 yards and a TD

Not Buying It (Long-term) – Even a blind squirrel finds the end zone every now and then. McFadden had free reign in the running game this week against the Titans with Michael Bush still recovering from surgery on his hand, but I don’t expect him to get the majority of carries once Bush is back to full healthy. He does have a promising matchup against the Rams in Week 2, but as Bush works his way back on the field, McFadden is likely to work his way out of your heart. If his current owner is willing to sell him cheap, take that price and see what you can get out of him. But I think the better gamble is to “buy low” on Michael Bush while McFadden is getting all the attention.

Michael Vick: 16-for-24 for 175 yards and a TD, 103 rushing yards

Not Buying It (Long-term) – Whaaaa? Now that’s not a name you expected to see on the top of the pile Sunday, but when Kevin Kolb got concussed, Vick showed us why the Eagles coveted him the most this offseason of all the Eagles quarterbacks. He’s a nice security blanket for Kolb until the young guy finds his football legs, and Vick could start in Week 2 if Kolb is not cleared from his concussion.

Watch the latest updates (or follow me on Twitter) to see whether Vick gets his second chance to shine, but as long as Andy Reid insists there is no quarterback controversy, Vick is nothing more than a long-term gamble who might pay off if Kolb suffers another injury or struggles to get back on the field after this concussion. Still, you might entertain the idea of grabbing him if you have some room on your roster and no affiliation with PETA.

Notice a name I didn’t cover among the top scorers this Sunday? Feel free to spark up a conversation in the comments, but note that I assume you’ve heard of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Chris Johnson, Miles Austin, and Chad Ochocinco, which is why they weren’t listed here.

THERE IS FOOTBALL TONIGHT

I’VE BEEN TYPING IN ALL CAPS FOR THE LAST 12 HOURS. I CAN’T STOP. TONIGHT IS FOOTBALL. THE NFL IS BACK…BACK, BABY!

OH, THERE IS A BUTTON TO TURN THIS OFF? Ahhhh, well,  that is better. I just thought it was an adrenaline thing.

Welcome to Week 1. Tonight, the Saints and the Vikings play for the honor of being the first explosive, on-top-of-it-all team and battle the letdown of being the first surprising loser of the season. I don’t think the Vikings will appreciate being the first team to disappoint.

As a fantasy GM, I’m sure you’re sweating who you’re going to start, so let’s have a mini-”Hot Hands and Cold Shoulders” huddle up.

You can start your studs. That’s perfectly acceptable; in fact, I highly recommend it.

Even though Ray Rice and Michael Turner don’t have the best matchups on paper, I have a hard time  benching either one of them. You used a first round pick to get these guys, so one would assume they are the best you have.

Look at the positive side. Rice is fairly matchup-proof with his involvement in the passing game, which is why you drafted him, and Turner could, at the very least, get to the goal line for you. That’d be sweet of him.

But if you are one of the lucky few who drafted a stacked team, which you are because you followed my advice, and you have a phenomenal matchup on your bench this week, don’t be afraid to take it.

Cadillac Williams is this week’s golden boy. He faces an unproven Cleveland defense with his young quarterback, Josh Freeman, nursing a broken thumb. I’m guessing the passing game might suffer as a result. If Freeman does pass, expect the fact that he threw less than 10 passes this preseason to show a little bit.

All of this makes Week 1 a perfect week to test the Cadillac experience. Get the leather interior. Worth it.

On the sleeper side of things, Arian Foster gets to start his breakout campaign against the Colts poor run defense, and Ryan Mathews sees the Chiefs, who won’t hold him back much this week as one of the worst defenses in the league. These two were high on plenty of radars during the peak of fantasy football drafting, so I’d expect that you drafted them to start if you got ‘em.

I really dislike Shonn Greene and Pierre Thomas more than I dislike Turner and Rice this week. Baltimore and Minnesota’s run defenses are stingy. Since Greene and Thomas may not have been first-round picks for you, you may not feel as risky starting Cadillac/Foster over them to see what your bench depth can do. I’d take that chance this week.

It also might be nice to give Greene and Pierre a chance to show you how they are going to split up the carries in New York and New Orleans. L.T. is old, but he could touch the ball far more than he needs to if Rex Ryan allows it.

Other than Rice, I’m not a big fan of the Baltimore offense this week. Revis Island and the rest of the Jets’ defense is no place to go for broke passing the ball, which will keep the Joe Flacco “sleeper” train in the station for one more week. They may open things up, but not enough for me to embrace him as a good start. He’s definitely a cold shoulder. And that means Housh, Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin will start quietly as well.

Chicago gets to play Detroit. You know what that means. They’re all superstars. No matter how good the Detroit offense has become, their defense still has a lot to prove.

If you’re really digging deep, there are  sleepers out there. But come on, are you really going to go digging for a starting roster in Week 1? Not a good sign if you are. Not a good sign.

For the most part, I’d stick with the studs who you drafted this week. Have faith that you built a good team, and enjoy the fact that FOOTBALL IS BACK TONIGHT.

NOW I NEED ONE ORDER OF WINGS AND A TV REMOTE. STAT!

Martz be crazy: Why you should draft your Bears this season

As we await the Chicago Bears debut tonight in preseason action, I can’t wait to see if their little offseason experiment worked.

When it comes to offense, Mike Martz is a kamikaze. His “leap of faith” system is as likely to blow up on a game-by-game basis as it is to succeed. While respected at first for his work in St. Louis, in recent years, NFL coaches seem to feel that bringing him in to run an offense is the equivalent of waving a white flag, a last-ditch effort to get their teams on the scoreboard.

Still, Martz’s system shows results. He built the “Greatest Show on Turf,” revived the Detroit Lions passing attack with Jon Kitna, and made J.T. O’ Sullivan fantasy relevant for a time in San Francisco. But one thing he hasn’t had to work with since his days with Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger in St. Louis is a true franchise quarterback.

Why, hello there Jay Cutler. Whatever you think of the shruggy Vanderbilt product, Cutler has an arm, and he’s shown the characteristics of a franchise quarterback in Denver. Granted, he no longer has a true No. 1 receiver like Brandon Marshall to throw to now that he’s in Chicago, but don’t count out Devin Hester and Johnny Knox just yet.

Quick receivers who can get to their spots on time are all an offense like Martz’s really needs, and if you believe in the third year breakout for wide receivers and Hester’s quotes, Hester’s ready to make it big. But you don’t have to take his word for it.

Cutler has bought into Martz’s quarterback-friendly system. So even though we can’t expect Cutler’s interceptions to be drastically reduced when he starts firing passes before receivers are even in place, he should do some serious damage in the passing game–the good kind of damage.

Cutler threw a career high 26 interceptions last season pre-Martz, but he also threw a career high 27 touchdowns. His offensive line wasn’t doing him any favors last year either.

With Martz and a new offensive line coach in Mike Tice, Cutler may excel in the W column and fantasy point columns again just like he did in Denver.

So when it comes to drafting Cutler, I’m all for it. He’s currently going early in the seventh round as the No. 9 overall quarterback, according to Fantasy Football Calculator. While I’m okay with him there as a late starting QB1, I think I’d really love him as a QB2 behind an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or Tony Romo.

If he has a huge season, you can start him and trade away your elite guy or just trade Cutler for a high-performing running back to make your championship run.

And without having to rely on him completely as your QB1, you can play the ups and downs that are likely to strike the Bears this season. I expect there will be some growing pains in learning Martz’s system and putting it into action each week.

As for the wide receivers, there’s plenty of speculation out there about how to value them. Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu, and Earl Bennett could all see time on the field.

This offseason, the early favorite has been Devin Aromashodu, the tallest Bears wide receiver who came on strong at the end of 2009 and scored four touchdowns. But Aromashodu’s sleeper hype has him overvalued now. He’s being drafted before both Hester and Knox, and that just doesn’t make sense.

I’d much rather draft Hester, the forgotten man in this offense who was holding down the No. 1 role until late in 2009, or Knox, the rookie who picked up the offense and caught Cutler’s eye last season.

Hester worked in the offseason with Isaac Bruce to learn what he could from the Martz-made veteran wide receiver, and I think he’ll be ready to play come Week 1 like a top wideout, rather than just as a converted special teamer.

Now don’t get me wrong, Aromashodu shouldn’t be overlooked. He could play a big part in the red zone, but I just don’t think he’s worth a pick in the eighth round when you can get Hester in the tenth.

Martz isn’t really known for increasing the role of the running back in his offenses, but he has two skilled pass catchers in Matt Forte and Chester Taylor. Forte seems more like his old self now that he’s recovered from 2009′s injuries. Maybe we all just expected too much of him when we launched him into the first round rankings last season.

With injuries, a new quarterback, and a questionable offensive line, it was hard to live up to the hype around his impressive rookie season. This season, he could turn things around, especially if Martz makes him a big part of the offense. Even though Martz isn’t known for making running backs better, he certainly doesn’t neglect them.

Chester Taylor will take some of the work out of Forte’s hands, but that could be a good thing. Forte wore down late in his rookie season when he was carrying the full load, and as long as he gets to take the carries near the goal line, sharing might be caring for Forte. I can learn to love a timeshare that allows Forte to go full speed all season and keeps him free of injuries.

So think about Forte in the fourth round before you start looking at running backs who have the lesser half of a timeshare situation.

The one position we can’t predict with Martz is tight end. Greg Olsen is a star at the position, but Martz has traditionally left tight ends to block at the line while the receivers steal the show. Time will tell if Olsen can sway him. I am not taking that chance in my drafts right now.

So in short, don’t overlook your Bears this season. I expect to see some significant improvements in the passing game, and as late as Jay Cutler and Hester are being drafted, they’re definitely worth a look.

And while you’re kicking yourself for not drafting these guys in the first place

Here’s a look from Sports Data Hub at the top fantasy performers at each position as of the beginning of December. [Update: Link no longer available]

We all wish we could go back to the draft and change something, whether we want to draft Miles Austin or not draft Matt Forte, but looking at the cold, raw numbers after almost an entire fantasy football season shows us many of our mistakes (and in bar graph form, which makes it slightly less depressing).

Where did we get surprised?

Quarterbacks

The big surprise at quarterback this year for me was Brett Favre, who not only joined the ranks late but also became a fantasy stud down the stretch. He may be fading now, but he still established himself among the top at the position for another year. As much as I loathe him, I’ll give him credit for that.

Jay Cutler, on the other hand, bottomed out more than expected. Clearly, the receiver situation in Chicago isn’t to his liking, and he’s not comfortable in that offense just yet.

Time will tell whether the team takes a new direction by getting a new offensive coordinator or makes a move to acquire a top talent at wide receiver like Anquan Boldin. The only problem with the latter solution is all the picks they gave away to get Cutler in the last offseason.

Cutler’s performance against the Vikings on Monday Night Football could be a good sign that they’re getting on track for 2010.

Running Backs

Chris Johnson was an iffy top running back prospect to start the year. Some took the chance and were greatly rewarded. Others warned that LenDale White would still steal all his scoring opportunities. It’s clear he’s become a fantasy force, one who will continue to be highly drafted. He’s probably the No. 1 overall pick in your draft next season.

But the big surprise was Ray Rice (even though I predicted he’d be good, I didn’t know he’d be this good). He jumped from a murky Baltimore running back situation to become one of the top backs in fantasy, and he’ll probably stay among the elite with Willis McGahee on his way out.

Ricky Williams and Thomas Jones certainly have more staying power than any of us realized. They’re still getting it done, even at their advanced age. Williams owes his scoring chances early in the year to Ronnie Brown, who made the Wildcat a legitimate threat at the goal line throughout his reign of terror until he was injured.

It’ll be interesting to see what Miami and New York do in the offseason. Ronnie Brown is likely to assume the starting duties again once he is healthy, but New York could part ways with Jones if they so choose, opting instead to ride Leon Washington and rookie pounder Shonn Greene.

In recent weeks, they’ve given Greene more than his usual number of carries to see what they have behind Jones for next season.

Wide Receivers

DeSean Jackson came up in the world in a big way as McNabb’s favorite target this season. Is it finally safe to start a Philadelphia receiver? It seems that way for 2010.

The hot names to add to the list of the elite are Miles Austin and Sidney Rice. Both were touted for their physical attributes and explosive talents, but neither had lived up to expectations, falling victim to injury or being buried on the depth chart the past two seasons.

Rice broke out this season as the Vikings’ biggest threat in the passing game, and he’ll only get better, regardless of who comes in to quarterback Minnesota once Favre finally leaves — but will that EVER happen?

Austin should continue to be one of Tony Romo’s favorite, most trusted targets, and that’s extremely valuable with a quarterback as determined to make a play as Romo is every down.

Tight Ends

Vernon Davis, we hardly knew ye. He did it. He finally did it. All it took was a new coach and a new offense geared around his ability to separate from mismatches. Well done, sir.

Brent Celek also proved that the Eagles had really been missing L.J. Smith’s contributions in recent years when injury and ineffectiveness kept Smith from playing the part. Celek’s role at tight end in the Philadelphia offense only adds to the stockpile of weapons at Andy Reid’s disposal.

Kickers

Ha, just kidding. Nothing’s drastically shifted here, but there was a lot of musical chairs being played around the league as certain kickers lost their leg and teams were forced to make a change.

This year has been a surprising one once again, at least for me. A lot of players that we’d looked forward to seeing finally made a show of themselves. It’s safe to say I wish all my leagues were keeper leagues. The young talent we’ve seen this year should be a factor in fantasy football for years to come.

So now, armed with the knowledge of what’s altered the fantasy landscape this season, what can we say? Better luck next year?