I'm with you Derek Anderson, this is no laughing matter

I'm with you, Derek Anderson. I take this (expletive) serious. Real serious. I put my heart and soul into this every single week.

What a bummer, then, that two of three fantasy teams won't be going to the playoffs.

I'm not laughing. Nothing's funny. At least not to those of us who, for one reason or another, haven't had the Breesiest 2010. For every yin, there is a yang. For every Qatar, there's a United States.

It's not just me and Derek. The Cowboys, Brett Favre, Denver-based videographers… almost no one's had it easy this year. It seems like every team in the league has suffered major injuries to major players. As they say, misery loves company -- and while the rest of our nation's economy struggles, the misery corporation is booming.

» We all know why Cleveland sports fans are feeling LeBummed these days. But it seems like there's actually reason to be excited about the future in Cleveland. Yeah, they still have Baltimore and Pittsburgh in their division, but at least they now have something in common with one of those AFC North bullies. In 1996, the Steelers landed a cornerstone for their bruising running game when they stole Jerome Bettis from the Rams for second- and fourth-round draft picks. A decade-and-a-half later, Pittsburgh's rust belt rivals have pulled off a similar heist -- getting Peyton Hillis (and draft picks) in exchange for quarterback Brady Quinn. I wonder if that trade, conducted between Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels, will create some uncomfortable moments at the Belichick Family Christmas shindig?

As a sidenote, I was considering Bill Belichick's legacy the other day while watching the Bill Parcells documentary a few days ago. The most iconic NFL coaches of my lifetime all have something distinctive for which they'll be remembered long after I've gone the way of the XFL. Bill Walsh conceived the West Coast offense. Buddy Ryan created the 46 Defense. Mike Holmgren groomed a generation's worth of successful NFL head coaches (Gruden, Mariucci, Reid). Tom Landry had his fedora. And what about Belichick? Well, he's best known for Spygate, he spawned a generation's worth of lousy head coaches (McDaniels, Crennel, Weis), and he dresses like the girl in "Flashdance."

See, Derek Anderson? Nobody's got it perfect.

» It definitely hasn't been a good season for Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder. Like George Steinbrenner before them, these two billionaires are always getting beaten up for not getting out of the way so the experts they've hired can run the show. And just like George, they've both made some awful decisions over the years. I get where they're coming from, though. If I bought an NFL team, you can bet I'd want to be extensively involved with personnel decisions. Owning a real pro football team is the equivalent of fantasy football for rich guys, right? By that logic, would anyone out there be okay with winning a fantasy league championship by having a fantasy expert do all the drafting and waiver-wire work? I didn't think so. In summation, JJ and Danny, I think I speak for Eagles and Giants fans when I say keep on doing what you're doing.

» Same goes for James Harrison. Keep doing what you're doing. Ray Anderson may not be targeting you, but -- as anybody who's seen the last two plays for which you've been flagged for personal fouls -- the game-day refs definitely are.

Which brings me to a related a multiple-choice question: When Rodney Harrison -- the man voted by his peers to be the "Dirtiest Player in the League," admitted user of HGH, and presumed beneficiary of the Spygate videos -- gets up on Mt. Pious every Sunday night to condemn current players and coaches for playing dirty or cheating, he is:
A. The biggest hypocrite since Ted Haggard.
B. Less self-aware than the leftover turkey in my fridge.
C. Hoping Saint Dungy will absolve him of his sins.
D. All of the above

The correct answer?

A & C only. (Sorry, it was a trick question: I already ate all the leftover turkey in my fridge.)

» The Titans must be sick. The so-so AFC South could've been theirs had quarterback Vince Young not behaved like Vince Young, Kerry Collins had stayed healthy, or Rusty Smith hadn't made Rusty Hilger look like a Hall of Famer by comparison. Tennessee was 5-2 with dominant wins against the Eagles, at the Giants and at the Jags. But then they blew a two-score lead in San Diego. And after that they lost in overtime to the Redskins. And let's not forget the inexplicable loss to Denver. Take any one of those games, and they're in first place right now. Good news, though: even at 5-6 and losers of four straight, they're still perfectly positioned to take the division. Four of the Titans' last five games are against division foes, the biggest of which are the home-and-away games against the soft Colts. Hear me now, believe me later: Collins -- who's been known to catch fire for short stretches -- is gonna get on a roll with the talented players who surround him. Running back Chris Johnson and wide receiver Randy Moss haven't set the world on fire lately, but look at it this way: at least they're nice and fresh.

» I don't want to leap right past Christmas, New Years, Spring Break and July 4th, but the 2011 fantasy football draft will be here before you know it (whether or not there'll be a real football season is less certain). It's never too early to start planning, though… especially considering next year's draft will share only a few of the same names being taken at the top this past August. Here's my best guess for how the first two rounds will shape up:

RD 1
1. Adrian Peterson
2 Arian Foster
3. Chris Johnson
4. Peyton Hillis
5. Shady McCoy
6. Darren McFadden
7. Aaron Rodgers
8. Michael Turner
9. Maurice Jones-Drew
10. Michael Vick
11. Jamaal Charles
12. Rashard Mendenhall

RD 2
13. Roddy White
14. Andre Johnson
15. Ray Rice
16. Calvin Johnson
17. Phil Rivers
18. Dwayne Bowe
19. Ahmad Bradshaw
19. Matt Forte
20. Hakeem Nicks
21. Mike Tolbert
22. Shonn Greene
23. Drew Brees
24. Frank Gore

No, omitting the likes of Moss, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Rams running back Steven Jackson, Bengals running back Cedric Benson and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was no accident. Matter of fact, if I had to choose right now, I'd take Eli over Peyton next season. And as the fourth overall pick in my mock draft indicates, I'd also take Peyton over Peyton.

Then again, I don't swoon over the transcendence of Manning like most people, who continue to heap undue praise upon the guy the NFL Network calls "the eighth-best player of all-time." In spite of the woeful two-game, seven-pick run he's in the midst of, I'm still hearing how remarkable he is for making his "no-name" receivers look great. You know who should be more upset by that than me? Reggie Wayne. I'm pretty sure he'd have put together a fantastic pro career whether No. 18 was throwing him the ball or not. Besides, all the top QBs make their receivers look great. Brady, Rivers and Rodgers have all thrived this season in spite of messy situations with their ballcatchers. Instead of praising the Great Peyton Manning, how 'bout giving credit to the Colts' personnel team who identified under-the-radar guys like receivers Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Blair White and tight end Jacob Tamme as players who'd thrive in their system?

» With so many important games on this weekend's schedule, you might overlook the Broncos at the Chiefs. Don't. It was just three weeks ago that Chiefs coach Todd Haley refused to shake Broncos coach Josh McDaniels' hand after Denver put 49 on first-place KC. I can't wait to see how the two men (well, one man and one teenager) and their respective teams respond in an important AFC West game.

» If you look at it on paper, there's every reason to think the Jets will win in Foxborough on Monday night. They're able to pound the ball on the ground. They stuff the run. Their secondary is built to prevent Brady from performing his usual brand of football surgery with the help of his no-name receivers. So why am I so thoroughly convinced the Pats are gonna win? Because of the hair transplant candidate who's ranked thirteen spots below Peyton Manning on that all-time list.

» Baltimore will beat Pittsburgh on Sunday night. And for the record, I was saying that even before I knew about the sorry state of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's fifth metatarsal. An optimist would point to the fact that a win against the Ravens, combined with a Jets' victory over the Pats, would set up a battle for the AFC's top seed when the teams meet in Heinz Field two weeks from now. I'm not an optimist. The Steelers are a fatally flawed team. They have an atrocious o-line due to a multitude of injuries and general ineptitude. Their sometimes-scary pass rush can be negated by spreading them out four-wide. All a quarterback needs to do is identify where on the field cornerback William Gay is, then throw at him all day. Simple. Then again, as my more optimistic Steeler-lovin' pal Richie points out, the Ravens aren't without their share of injuries along the o-line and at fullback. In other words, both quarterbacks could be taking some big hits on Sunday night. Like they say, misery loves company…

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