Manly House of Football: Don't give up the ship!

A special message from Squirt Lurtsema, coach of Nick Bakay's fantasy team, Nick Bakay's Love Handles:

Hey, Folks, Coach Squirt here. Mr. Bakay asked me to sit in for this week's column as he was stuck overseas managing his vast empire of Alpaca farms. I told him it would be an honor to pinch-hit for a man who I consider the finest owner in all of fantasy football, thanks to his willingness to open up his deep pockets, and let his football people do their job. Many's the night I have struggled with the cost of adding a waiver free-agent pickup, when Mister B put me at ease by selling a Picasso, or signing over some o' them talking cat residuals so the team could add a stud, not a dud!

'Scuse me while I wipe away a single tear ... and get on to the business at hand. Listen, we may only be heading into Week 8, but the sorry fact is the writing is on the wall for some of your squads. You know who you are -- sitting there at 2-6, pointing fingers, hatin' life, feelin' like a dork. And to make matters worse, now you have to decide whether to fish or cut bait on a Deuce McAllister 'cuz you got a do-nothing tight end and a middle-of-the-road kicker on bye weeks with no depth on your bench! Let's face it; your season has turned into ...

A turducken of misery: Disappointment, shoved inside heartbreak, rammed deep within a gaping cavity of anger.

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Well, guess what? It's time to take a knee, get a blow, and listen up, 'cuz I'm going to share with you a few secrets that have helped ol' Squirt through his share of doomed campaigns.

I get 50k a night to get corporate leaders all fired up with this stuff, but today I am working pro bono… because I feel your pain. Back when I was assisting Mr. Bakay after he'd been put in charge of re-purposing all the helmets that were used in NFL Europe (FYI, I still have a Rhein Fire in the trunk of my car -- I can give you a great deal on it), we ran into trouble on a biblical level. Our "Nick Bakay's Love Handles Country Buffet" restaurant chain got hit hard with what I still maintain were some pretty frivolous lawsuits after folks found out we were serving synthetic gravy that may or may not have had traces of aluminum in it. I blame China, where we bought it in bulk, but it was still a damn shame. The Love Handle Buffet concept was primed for take off. I mean, who wouldn't get excited about a place where a man could hunker down to our infamous "Mile of Meat," or move around the facility with ease thanks to our individual Rascal scooters? The scooters were Mr. B's idea, so, as he liked to say; "Your meal needn't be ruined by the heartbreak of movement."

Alas, it wasn't meant to be, and as if that weren't enough trouble, the Love Handles practice bubble collapsed on Fan Appreciation Day! Mix in a spate of injuries to our starting roster, and it was enough have me seriously consider taking a hike and getting my butcher's license. Thank God we hung in there, and fought our way back into being a playoff team within one season.

So believe me when I tell you you're not alone -- every franchise has its dark nights. The point is to make what you can of a bad situation and prepare yourself to do a few things differently between now and next year's draft.

Send a message to your roster

Get real -- your championship is in the dumper, so why not get some of that anger out by telling a do-nothing superstar to hit the bricks? Know what your QB fears more than getting traded to Detroit for a case of vintage Kramer's Heat Rub? You picking up the ol' mouse and clicking his traitorous ass off into oblivion! Punitive? Sure. Effective? You bet. Sends a message to the other lollygaggers and whirlpool wonders. Watch the trainer's table clear off fast! Take a page from Mike Singletary's notebook: It's time to figure out who your players are, and who your pretenders are.

Keeper league hoodoo

Everyone tells you to "Be here, now!" "Live in the moment!" I guess they didn't pin their hopes on Tom Brady, now did they? I say if the present is leaving streak-marks on your dignity, it's time to make trades with an eye on the future.

Look, if you suck, you know you're going to strike a match and blow your roster up at the end of the year anyway, so why not make some hard lemonade! If you compete in a keeper league, particularly a league that only lets you protect one or two players for the long haul, trade an old stud now for a young stud of tomorrow. Let's say a rival owner is in the thick of the playoff hunt, and he just lost a wide receiver to injury, suspension, or a staph infection contracted when his team plane merely flew over Cleveland. Help him help you - take a shot at getting a young RB with big upside - you know, a Chris Johnson, a Steve Slaton, a Matt Forte -- in exchange for an aging Band-aid for his sudden roster need, like T.O., or Hines Ward (even Torry Holt if you can still get anything for him beyond a carton of Winstons). It frees up an early slot in your '09 draft if you aren't chasing RBs early. Hell it's worth a shot.

Revenge best served blatantly

When you sign up to manage a fantasy football team, you never know what kind of a hornet's nest you might be poking with your dreams of greatness. One time I drafted against 11 owners who, at one time or another, had all stolen girlfriends from me. Truth be told, I made it easy for them. It's no secret that when you date a Squirt Lurtsema, you know he comes with a mistress - a pretty little gal name o' Fantasy Football! I spent many a night on the cot in my office in the practice bubble. And despite my hard-charging public persona, I'm also shy with the frauleins -- an old-world gent with a genuflective style that doesn't always click in today's fast and loose, "Hey let's all go to Bennigans" world ... so I lost quite a few girls. But an elephant never forgets, and I spent that entire draft stealing their handcuff RB backups -- I win!

Enjoy spoiler role

You still owe it to yourself to try to beat the division leaders -- don't make it a cakewalk for 'em! Of course, you may not have a prayer with that WR tandem of Chad Ocho Stinko and Marvin Harrison. In that case, your last resort may be making a trade that helps an owner you like, and hurts an owner you don't like before they go head to head. It's petty, it's low, it's destructive, but let's face it -- what the hell else is going to give you pleasure when you're staring down the barrel of starting Dan Orlovsky for the next five weeks?

What have we learned?

You don't win trophies with your bell cow up on blocks!

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Take a look ahead: Maybe it's also time to get a handle on the draft day nerves that landed you in this predicament in the first place. We all know the symptoms -- edgy, maybe a rash spreading unchecked, sweatier than usual -- it's draft day, and you are right where you should be. Mr. Bakay throws up before every draft - but that might just be the binge drinking ... Anyhoo, you have to learn how to turn any situation into an advantage. For instance ...

Last year, I got invited to draft in a top-secret Hollywood league with a lot of juice. Big names, big egos, big stakes. The draft table was crowded with captains of industry, above-the-title talent, even Robert Evans. When I walked through the mansion's lobby, I noticed they even had a Hooters girl preserved in amber! When we were all fitted for solid gold catheters, I knew I wasn't in Ashtabula no more ...

But I used it to my advantage. Being in Hollywood, I knew these pansies were probably all drunk on USC Kool-Aid and still thought Matt Leinart was going to be the man in Arizona. So I let them take him early, then stabbed 'em in the back by drafting Kurt Warner four rounds later.

Advantage, Lurtsema! Of course, they love Leinart -- he's a playboy, and while you want your quarterback to have a healthy appetite in the shorties, how 'bout a little less date night at Koi, a little more study the Cover 2 defense? Am I right? While he's busy squiring hot Hollywood starlets like Linda Day George and Charlene Tilton around town, yours truly knows the current Cardinals coaches didn't draft him, he's not too expensive to sit, and meanwhile Kurt just happens to be a Super Bowl MVP with a steady home life. Bingo!

Know the room, never get intimidated, and use your acumen, no matter how many times Pam Anderson catches you staring down the top of her teddy!

BOTTOM LINE: You got to keep chopping wood.

Now go out there and make the rest of this miserable season stand for something!

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