© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2002
You want advice on who the best running backs and wide receivers are and who to play against what defense? Forget it.
The best advice: have two teams.
Or three, four, even five. Then, if things fall apart, the odds of achieving some fantasy satisfaction are greatly improved.
I know from whence I speak. In the league I'd prefer to win more than the others, the wheels have fallen off, causing it to careen down a steep hill, crash into an oil refinery and disintegrate in a flash of bright explosions.
Thankfully, I have other more successful teams to fall back on. Teams that are winning and help ease the sinking feeling in my gut.
Yes, I am the not-so-proud owner of an 0-7 team, which I swore would be a title contender and instead has become a heartbreaker. In a 14-team league, there is no fixing such a mess via the waiver wire. Other league owners have demanded I change my team name to the Cincinnati Bengals (I have).
Once the losses start piling up, desperation sets in. You make a bad trade (I did), drop some good players for some hot ones (Josh Reed and Quincy Morgan, where have you gone?), get bitten by the injury bug (Derrick Mason, Chris Chambers, Thomas Jones), and end up having to start Cory Schlesinger consecutive weeks.
That's right, I said Cory Schlesinger.
And dropping Todd Heap, only to have my opponent pick him and get two touchdowns, wasn't such a grand plan.
At least I have my top pick, the indestructible Brett Favre ... oh, wait.
Favre's hurt -- that's the power of a bad fantasy team.
Thank God for my other six.
MARSHALL, MARSHALL, MARSHALL: Mike Martz is a genius. He has decided to give the ball to Marshall Faulk 25-plus times a game, which is great news for those who spent a high pick on Faulk and weren't getting a return. Sunday, Faulk had the top day among running backs with 183 yards and 4 touchdowns on 32 carries.
But would you take him over Priest Holmes? That's a tough call, though Holmes shredded Denver's stingy run defense for 113 yards and three scores.
WR=NEW LIFE: Last week we mentioned the effects of quarterback Tommy Maddox on Plaxico Burress' once-disappointing fantasy output. This week, let's look at the Jets' Chad Pennington.
Since replacing Vinny Testaverde in New York, Pennington is averaging 280 yards and completing 73 percent of his passes in three games. And Sunday he completed 24-of-29 for 324 yards. Sure, his touchdown numbers (just three) could use improvement, but consider the effect on Laveranues Coles and Santana Moss, who looked bust-like through the first three games and had been dropped in many leagues:
Coles -- 6 catches, 46 yards pre-Pennington; 22 catches, 299 yards and a touchdown since.
Moss -- 2 catches, 52 yards pre-Pennington; 9 catches, 168 yards and one touchdown since.
Chances are at least one is available in your league and worth a pick-up. And there's a good chance Pennington is sitting there as well.
MAKE WAY: If Faulk had 158 yards and LaDainian Tomlinson had 153 the past two weeks against Oakland, how many will Holmes get this week?
ONE GAME WONDER: Seattle's Shaun Alexander had 139 yards rushing and five touchdowns against Minnesota in Week 4; in the Seahawks other five games, he is averaging 47 yards, with four games of fewer than that and one touchdown. Sunday, he had a season-low 30 yards.
BYE BYE: Ahman Green, Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk -- four of the league's top seven rushers -- are off.