Manly House: Fantasy football makes for strange bedfellows

I'll admit one of my guilty pleasures is watching "Jersey Shore." It isn't something I'm proud of, but at this stage of the game, what is? A part of me always wanted to be Italian, a part of me really misses being a shovel-head stupid 23-year-old, and another part of me is riveted by the depths of unwarranted narcissism on display.

My wife is aghast. This one is definitely not her cup of tea, and I have no doubt she has scorn for my fascination… then again, she forces me to sit through episodes of "Hoarders." So much for her high chair. What helps you unwind after a long day better than mountains of cat feces, seven foot high stacks of garbage bags where the kitchen used to be, all liberally sprinkled with delusions that one day that rusty muffler collection will fetch a king's ransom? A TV show hasn't sapped my will to live on this level since they thought Emeril Lagasse could carry his own sitcom.

On the plus side, "Jersey Shore" has added some novel concepts to pop culture on what you might call an anthropological level. The "grenade" is one of the best. For the uninitiated, it draws a metaphor between either sleeping with the hot girl's ugly friend to help out a bro, or simply settling for a sub-par hookup as closing time limits your options to Alice the goon versus me, myself, and I.

It is a concept that works when you're on the prowl, or if you are simply trying to bolster your fantasy football roster. Normally you don't have to fall on fantasy grenades until the last third of the season, but 2010 has proven to be a complete minefield. Injuries and brutally anemic star players have all of us pulling the rip cord earlier than normal, yet we are deep enough into the proceedings that the pickings are decidedly slim. Where does that leave you? In fantasy terms, it's closing time, which in my native Buffalo comes at 4 a.m., when the beer goggles make the world look like a Dali painting.

If you're looking at three wins or less Y.T.D., you gotta get in bed with some uglies. The good news is, if you can swallow your pride and get over some justified revulsion, there's gold in them thar hills. Case in point:

Nick Bakay's tale of the tape:

Drew Brees vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Brees: One of the two best fantasy QBs in the league.
Fitzpatrick: Journeyman backup.
Advantage: Brees

Haunting questions:
Brees: Can the Saints repeat?
Fitzpatrick: Can the Bills beat a UFL team?
Advantage: Brees

MVP Awards:
Brees: The Super Bowl.
Fitzpatrick: The Ivy League, where run-stuffing nose tackles still need to pass calculus to star.
Advantage: Brees

College teams:
Brees: Purdue Boilermakers.
Fitzpatrick: Harvard Crimson.
Advantage: A team named after a shot and a beer? Brees

NFL draft round:
Brees: First pick of the second round, projected as a first-round pick, second  quarterback drafted overall after Michael Vick.
Fitzpatrick: Seventh round -- for you kids scoring at home, that's the last round, otherwise known as the realm of punters and special team Kamikazes.
Advantage: Brees

Spurned by:
Brees: The Chargers.
Fitzpatrick: The Rams, the Bengals, the Bills for numerous rounds of Trent Edwards roulette, and every other NFL team that had a shot at him on waivers or for a veteran-minimum non-guaranteed camp contract.
Advantage: Brees

So there you have it; it's all so simple when you break things down scientifically, right?


Fitzpatrick may play for a winless team that waited until Week 3 to hand him the starting job out of desperation, but if we take a scientific approach and compare him to Brees from that point forth, things get very interesting:

For fantasy purposes, Ryan has been the better QB. Grenades, baby, grenades … If you're quarterback-challenged, it's time to swallow your pride and do what you have to do: Draft a fugly starter. You know -- players it's quite possible you didn't even know about two weeks ago, or worse, players you did evaluate and said to yourself, "He's for someone else to enjoy." Listen, this is a QB who is going to be playing from behind the rest of his career, he is rocking some big-time stats, and if you are considering him, what have you got to lose?

(Scoring depends on your league's system, but is consistent here: Yards/TDs/Ints)

Week 3:
Brees: 365/3/2 (22 points vs. Falcons)
Fitzpatrick:247/2/2 (14 points vs. Patriots)
Advantage: Brees, but not by a radical margin.

Week 4:
Brees: 275/1/0 (15 points vs. Panthers)
Fitzpatrick: 128/2/0 (20 points vs. Jets)
Advantage: Fitzpatrick, and that's against the Jets D, not the hapless Panthers.

Week 5:
Brees: 279/2/3 (13 points vs. Cardinals)
Fitzpatrick: 220/3/0 (20 points vs. Jacksonville)
Advantage: Fitzpatrick

Week 6:
Brees: 263/3/1 (20 points vs. Buccaneers)
Fitzpatrick: Bye
Advantage: Push -- The upstart Bucs vs. Super Bowl champs? Plus, Ryan didn't have a chance to compete, throw it out.

Week 7:
Brees: 356/2/4 (14 points vs. Browns)
Fitzpatrick: 374/4/2 (28 points vs. Ravens)
Advantage: Fitzpatrick! Not only did he hand it to Brees again, he did it against the mighty Ravens D on the road! Brees faced the Browns with a raw rookie quarterback!

When you picked him in your fantasy football draft: *Brees: Round one.
Fitzpatrick: Undrafted, and I will bet my bottom dollar he's still available in your league.

Not to bag on Brees, but he's not exactly a free agent, and it's time to consider your options after the waiver wire has been picked over like road kill. Since Week 17 last year, in the weeks Fitzpatrick has started he has the highest quarterback rating in the NFL. He may or may not have the Bills thinking they are finally free to pick a left tackle in the first round next year, but he's more than capable of upgrading your sorry squad in need of repair.

If you seek other grenades with ugly profiles and strangely high upsides, you may want to strap on the beer goggles and also consider:


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Matt Moore -- Hey, he got it done this week.

Tarvaris Jackson -- Brett Favre has two ankle fractures and if he can't answer the bell for consecutive start No. 292, Jackson may be the guy who inherits WRs Percy Harvin and Randy Moss, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, and a great running back who keeps defenses honest.

Jon Kitna -- Tony Romo is also shattered, and as bad as he looked on Monday night, here is a veteran with tons of weapons.

Running back

Michael Bush -- Darren McFadden is no doubt unavailable, but is Bush the TD vulture here?

Marshawn Lynch -- Miscreant committee back turns alpha dog in Seattle?

After that you're on your own because I assume Peyton Hillis and Ryan Torain are gone.

Wide receiver

Kenny Britt -- Probably gone, but if some panicky owner dropped him because of his late-night activities, pounce.

Lee Evans / **Stevie Johnson** -- Who the hell else is catching Fitzpatrick's passes? Oh, I guess Roscoe Parrish is in the mix, too.

David Gettis -- Blew up when Moore came back, why not?

Roy E. Williams -- FYI, the default name for untouchable fantasy disappointment was Kitna's favorite target by far.

Need a TE? Good luck brother, there are only so many anyway, but you might want to consider new Packer TE Andrew Quarless. Someone has to fill Finley's shoes, and if you looking for ugly beauty, he was targeted plenty in key situations, he scored a fake TD, and his nerves tripped on a second TD bomb -- boom goes the dynamite.

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