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Commentary From the Edge - Week 9
Kevin Ratterree
October 31, 2006

Mike Bell and Wali Lundy were both players that found their stock rising at a feverish pace right around fantasy draft time.  Then the season started, but they didn't.  It was all just a mirage.  Fantasy players that took the huge risk on Bell, and to a lesser extent those that took a late round flyer on Lundy were left holding the bag by week 3 with two players that obviously weren't going to factor in fantasy leagues.  At that point, or shortly thereafter Bell and Lundy hit the dreaded waiver wires in all but the deeper leagues.  I drafted them both in one league or another. I dumped them both.  And now they are back on the map.

After the inevitable Ron Dayne flameout, and Tatum Bell's turf toe dancing, these two find themselves back on the radar, and back on rosters.  Luckily I kind of saw the Mike Bell thing coming.  Whenever I hear turf toe, I start looking for the guys back-up.  And I found Bell right where I left him on the waiver wire.  For free.  The interesting thing is that the guy in my league that owns Tatum Bell is the guy that is right behind me in the standings.  Think of the money I saved him this week, when the bidding war for Mike Bell would have been ugly.  I like helping people when I can.

Which brings up an interesting question for this week in fantasy football.  If Mike Bell is by some chance still on your leagues waiver wire this week, what do you do?  We have seen this kind of situation before in Denver.  Naming Mike Bell the starter in pre-season thing turned out to be Shenanigan mind games to motivate Tatum.  It was all a smokescreen.  Before last week, the situation in Denver was quite clear.  Tatum Bell was the man.  Plain and simple.  But what now?

This is not an easy situation to predict.  Turf toe can be a lingering injury, and limited production for the rest of the season as a result are a very real possibility for Tatum.  And if that is the case Mike Bell will most certainly play a large part in the equation.  But before you get too giddy over Mike Bell, don't lose sight of the fact that his huge performance was against a Colts team that specializes in allowing huge running back performances.  If you are a Tatum owner, and Mike is on the waiver wire, you grab him.  That's a no brainer.  I don't know how this will shake out, but those carefree days of plugging Tatum in your starting lineup without a worry appear to be in jeopardy.  And Mike Bell is suddenly hot property again in the always entertaining Denver backfield.  

Was it my imagination, or did the Panthers seem to be sleepwalking through the Sunday night game.  It's almost like the Michaels/ Madden broadcast was being transmitted into their helmets, which as we know causes drowsiness.

The Parcells "love tap" slap upside Owens head after the Cowboys took the lead Sunday night was interesting.  One could only imagine how many times Parcells had wished he could do that, only with just a tad more force. 

Which reminds me, if Romo passes to his best buddy Owens on every attempt this season will the league eventually catch on?

The Cowboys victory over the Panthers was huge, as was Romo's performance.  Romo took Parcells off the hook immediately for making the quarterback switch, and that keeps Jerry Jones at bay.  The bottom line is, like it or not the Cowboys are back in this thing, and Romo just might be enough to get them over the hump.  They looked like a different team with him behind center.  And for the first time this season, the sidelines looked like a fun place to be (aside from the revolting Parcells kissing fest that is).

By the way, the Cowboys are going to the Superbowl.  I don't know if I really believe that or not, but I just thought I'd get it on record just in case.  America can't get enough of a feel good story.

But seriously, right now there are two dominant teams.  One from each league.  Undefeated Bears and undefeated Colts.  It sure looks like they are headed toward a Superbowl showdown doesn't it?  This seems like a familiar feeling for some reason.  Why do I have a feeling neither will be there in the end?  Again.

Tiki Barber made me happy last week when he joined me, and a large segment of the viewing public in pronouncing in a public forum that Michael Irvin is an idiot.  Tiki, if you think Irvin is an idiot, you are the kind of guy we want to hear from.  You can take the idiot's chair at ESPN anytime you are ready.

I still can't get over the fact that Shawn Merrimam was allowed to get over on Sunday, and play with a banned substance in his system.  I understand Merriman wants to claim ignorance thus innocence.  I understand appeals and procedures and due process.  But if the purpose of a drug policy to keep players with an unfair advantage off the field of play, it seems to be flawed if it allows the offender two weeks of free play after testing positive.  Why weren't the Rams offensive linemen given a supply of steroids to take in preparation of Sundays' match-up?

I liked that stupid cheesy ESPN Halloween derby during halftime on Monday Night football.  And not just because it was the lamest thing I have ever seen on MNF.  But in a fairly neutral environment like Minnesota, the idiotic foam-headed caricatures of ESPN personalities were introduced to the disinterested crowd.  The verdict as the names were announced?  The biggest and only boos of any volume and fervor were for Thiesman and Irvin.  Minnesota, you are alreet by me.     

Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week

Long story short.  I hate the Rams.  They lost by 14.   I said they'd lose by 9 or less.  I'm not going to harp about how the Rams had 2 crucial turnovers in the red zone, and another one in their own end, that made the difference in the game.  But in any event, the Rams seemed scared to tackle Tomlinson, and that is a problem they might want to look into with Larry Johnson coming to their house this week.  The record for the crazy as hell pick is 5-4.  I think I am better than that, but the evidence would suggest otherwise.  This section is supposed to be helpful, but the evidence would suggest otherwise.  This section of the column is as of right now on Double Secret Probation.  One more slip up, just one....... and this little exercise in futility is finished at Faber!
And even worse, as I look at the spreads for next week I don't like what I see.  Rams -3 vs. Chiefs.  Ravens -3 vs. Bengals.  Bills -3 vs. Packers. Saints vs. Buc's pick 'em.  Flip a coin on all of them.  You could convince me to bet any of them, or against any of them.  They are all like playing black on the roulette wheel.

If you are a big trend guy, you might take a look at the Titans.  They are 3-1 as a road dog this year, and they are getting 9 1/2 at Jacksonville.  Although it is hard to bet money on them in games like this because we are all just waiting for them to have that real turd of a game somewhere along the way.  That, and the fact that Jacksonville jacked them up 40-13 at home last season in week 16, has to put a seed of doubt in your mind.   But despite that, the Jags strategy is to squeeze their opponents necks like a boa constrictor with their defense, take the ball away, and hope the offense can control the clock and score 17.  The Titans might come through in this game, but I'd be just a little nervous about betting this trend.  If I had to bet it though I'm afraid I would probably have to take the fistful of points and hope the trend holds up.
This week I am looking at the Broncos at the Steelers for my pick.  I could give you a bunch of analysis and numbers, but the bottom line is this.  The Broncos are the better team here.  Unless there is a quarterback switch to Batch, the Broncos are probably going to win this game.  Why do you ask then, are the Steelers a favorite?  Good question.  Answer?  Because they are at home.  And it almost has the feel of a trap game.  It seems to me that the money should roll in on the Broncos plus 2 points.  I should feel uneasy about this, but I don't.  It looks like a trap but it isn't.  The Steelers wins both came at home, but both were inferior teams to the Broncos.  And while the Steelers are usually a very good bet at home, they have not fared as well against better teams, with lower spreads, like this one.  It might be a trap, but as long as Big Ben is flinging the pigskin, my money goes on whoever is playing the Steelers.  If Cowher comes to his senses and starts Batch, I'm chilly on this bet.   Steelers -2

Misery Index

10a)  Lions:  And so begins the amazing 9 game winning streak this week, as predicted by the uncanny Roy Williams.  Some guys might want to win at least two in a row, before you go mouthing off about 9 in a row.  But that's not the way Roy rolls.  Apparently he hasn't been paying attention to what happens on the field while he isn't out there catching long touchdown passes.  Roy keeps writing checks with his mouth that his defense can't cash.  On a side note, I am going to bag 9 Playboy Playmates before the end of the year.  If you like Roy's chances, you have to like mine.  

10) Panthers:  Going into the bye week at 4-4 might not be such a bad thing for most teams, but this is the team that was supposed to go to the Superbowl.  Weren't they?  They looked completely lost and uninspired in Sunday nights game, and every bit worthy of the ass kicking the Cowboys administered.  It looked like the cast from Night of The Living Dead with shoulder pads out there I tell ya.  This team was much more highly touted before this season than last.  But at this point last year the Panthers were 6-2.  And this team was supposed to be better?  Don't get me wrong,  I still think this team is still playoff caliber, but Mike Vick has discovered the forward pass, and the Panthers are in for a dogfight down the stretch if they want to get there. 

9) 49ers:  They ran into Leatherface's cuttin' shed in Chicago, yet came out with most of their limbs intact.  Things are looking up. They didn't get shut out, yet they shut out the Bears for the final half of the game.  Of course, that may have to do with the fact that the Bears were tired from running to the end zone so many times in the first half.   
8) Dolphins:  Hey, look what happened Fish fans!  You took a week off and some other pitiful teams actually managed to put themselves in a situation more grim than yours.  I'll say this though, it is a sad testament to the league when a team with one win going into week 9 can sit this low in the Misery Index.

7) Redskins:  For a team that sucks like the 8th sequel from a bad horror movie, a bye week is golden.  No chance of losing.   Now we return you to your regularly scheduled program: No chance of winning.

6) Browns:  Ok, so you beat the Jets at home.  Almost impressive.  Unfortunately I can't shake the feeling that this game told us more about the Jets, and the Zombie-like state of officiating, than it did about the Browns.

5) Raiders:  Raiders, Raiders, Raiders.  What can I say.  You played the Jekyll and Hyde card on us.  You fooled us all.  You aren't one of the worst teams of all time after all.  You are just one of the worst teams of this time.  And when facing an opposing team just as hell bent on pissing away games as you are, sometimes you will actually come out on top despite yourselves.  Congratulations Raider Nation.  You won an NFL game with less than 100 yards of offense.   That is quite impressive, even if it was only against the Steelers.  Even so, I can't help shake the feeling that this moment is the high point of the season.  Soak it in Raiders fans.  This feeling you are experiencing is what they call "hope".  I understand you are confused by these emotions, but rest easy, soon you can return to your regularly scheduled self loathing.
4) Buccaneers:  Someone needs to call for an exorcism on this bunch, they are obviously possessed by the urge to emit foul odors on game-day.  Cadillac Williams owners continue to wait for Chucky to shake the voodoo and remember that he is on the roster and available for service.

3) Texans:  This team sucks like a vampire let loose in a girls dorm.  But at least with Dayne on the bench, they are a somewhat less offensive bag of flaming dog crap than before.  But a flaming bag of dog crap all the same.

2) Cardinals:  This was a tough call.  The Cards are probably a worse team than the Steelers, but both have has the misfortune to lose to the Raiders over the last two weeks, so this was just a case of the lesser of two evils.  I guess the biggest difference is that most people would be surprised to see the Steelers residing in this drowning pool of broken dreams known as the Misery Index.  The Cardinals have a lifetime membership.

1) Steelers:  Ladies and gentlemen:  Your Superbowl Champions?  My how the mighty have fallen.  After a loss to the Raiders the situation is grim as the selection of candidates on your average voting ballot. This team is a mere ghost of the one that hoisted that big trophy last February.  Steelers fans, even those most blinded by loyalty must now come to grips with this horror story turned reality.  I thought that Cowher's decision to start Roethlisberger in this game was irresponsible, short sighted, and as ill-advised as Dr Frankensteins decision to reconstitute human beings from spare parts he had laying around the lab.  In the process of letting Big Ben "work through" his problems, Cowhers blind loyalty has led to a 2-5 start.  Batch has 5 touchdowns and no interceptions.  Big Ben has 5 touchdowns and 113 interceptions.  I may not be head coach material, but I can do math.  And Bens numbers add up to 1-4.  The loss to the Raiders was clearly attributable directly to Roethlisberger, and that is just a stone cold fact.   I realize that BB is God in Pittsburgh, but at this point, with the season in toilet, wouldn't it be better to let Ben go a few months or at least games without a major collision?  Am I thinking like a crazy person for saying this?  Shut him down.  Let him heal.  See if the team can win without 3 interceptions a game.  How much worse will it be with Batch?  You just got your ass kicked by the Raiders.  Newsflash:  This is rock bottom.