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posted: Jan. 3, 2006  |  Feedback

You know how I was slacking a little over the holidays? Well, that's over.

Looking at the landscape of these next four months, I don't have a book to promote anymore, although I would love if you (A) still bought it, or (B) recommended it to your friends if you liked it. Not only am I skipping the Super Bowl in Detroit this year, I have only one prolonged trip scheduled for the next four months (the NBA All-Star Game in February, which could be the weekend I finally get run over by the Light Rail in Houston). I already had my severe winter cold that sidelined me for a week. My baby has settled into a solid sleeping schedule (knock on wood). I don't have any other major projects to sideline me for the foreseeable future, other than these two:

1. Getting ready for this summer's World Series of Poker (yes, I'm going) by making some quickie Vegas trips.

2. For comedy's sake, I might start playing golf again.

(Note: I used to play golf fairly regularly into my early-20s, right up until the famous 37/53 in Falmouth, which was one of the greatest stories that I have never written about on ESPN.com and nearly caused a Jim Pierce/Mary Pierce-level estrangement between my father and me. And sure, even though Dad was an absolute jerk that day and deserves partial blame for driving me from the game I loved, the real problem was that I wasn't mentally stable enough to play 18 holes without melting down like the 2000 Trail Blazers somewhere along the line. Now I'm older, calmer and more stable -- relatively speaking -- and solved all my Trevino-like back issues. So the time is ripe for a comeback. Stay tuned.)

Here's the point: For the next few months, I'm going to be cranking out columns, columns and more columns. Prepare for a Larry Johnson-level hot streak or your money back. All right, you're not paying anything. But you know what I mean. For this week, I have new columns coming Thursday and Friday, as well as the possible premiere of the SG Glossary, an SG Vault featuring a column you already read, and maybe even some nude photos of my eight-month old daughter. We're pulling out all the stops in 2006.

(FYI: I did write two columns last week in case you missed them, one on "Monday Night Football", one on Week 17 of the NFL.) In the meantime, the readers came through with an impressive array of dopey Fantasy Football Awards (after I got the ball rolling in Friday's column). Here were some of the best ones:

The Tara Reid Award (for the one fantasy player who looked good at first but was eventually passed around the most during during the season without anybody really admitting they were with the player) goes to Jamal Lewis, I think just about every person in my league had a fling with Jamal Lewis this season, but after Week 3, everybody acted like they did not own him by placing him deep on the bench. I had a two week fling with him in the middle of the season, but I never showed him off, even though I was desperate.
-- Jermaine, Richmond, Va.

The Vince McMahon "No Chance In Hell" Award goes to Mike McMahon, clearly a nephew of Vince, whose Monday night performance against Seattle on the final week of most fantasy regular seasons couldn't have looked more staged if "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan was swinging the 2x4 and yelling "HOOOOOOOOOOO" in his corner. How many owners felt fairly secure with something resembling my 39-point lead and only the Seattle defense in the way, only to watch McMahon throw a pair of touchdown passes to a lousy road defense, get sacked eight times, have tag-team partner Ryan Moats fumble away a third touchdown and then make zero credible attempts at scoring the rest of the night? I'm almost sure if somebody like L.J. Smith ad-libbed and broke away for a score, McMahon would have attacked Reid to steal the challenge flag and, while the play was being reviewed, drilled the head official with a steel chair while he was under the review tent and had twin brother Earl reverse the play on some unknown technicality. I would have felt better if McMahon immediately signed with Seattle after the game, or at least pile-drived Brian Dawkins immediately afterwards, a la Paul Orndorff ... instead, like Teddy KGB after seeing the jack come up on the turn, I was left feeling so unsatisfied, and so out of the playoffs.
-- Craig Sachson, Bensalem, Pa.

The Alvin Harper Award for "Worst breakout season by a 'new' star" goes to Nate Burleson. During the draft you had to fight people off with a stick from getting this guy, you jump on him, you think you've got the next Randy Moss ... and you find out you're getting Harper after he jumped to the Bucs.
-- Elliot, New York

The Arlen Harris Memorial Award for "Best Unknown Running Back Who Has to Play Because of Six Injured Players in Front of Him on the Depth Chart, Then Puts Up 2-3 Games of Monster Numbers" goes to Samkon Gado (honorable mention to Ryan Moats).
-- Mark S., Baltimore

The Tiki Barber Award for "The player everybody swore they wouldn't pass up at the end of the prior season, only to talk themselves out of taking him for five rounds this year, until some schmuck of an owner took him and watched as he led his team to a fantasy championship, causing everybody to swear they won't pass him up next year" ... this goes to Tiki Barber. I've played fantasy for years -- never took Tiki and never won a championship. This year -- I took Tiki. I won the championship. Coincidence? I think not. You even said as much in your fantasy preview column -- you compared him to a Reuben sandwich. You never order it when it's on the menu, but the second your friend gets it, you suddenly wished you had gotten it, too.
-- Michael Byrnes, Las Vegas

How about the Aaron Brooks Award for "Worst real-life quarterback who has a great fantasy season"? I think it would go to Drew Bledsoe this year -- 3,400 yards and 24 total TDs heading into Week 17. He's a top-10 QB in any conceivable scoring system, even top-five in some leagues. The best part about this is that Aaron Brooks is so terrible, he can't even win an award that's named after him.
-- Chris M., Bowmanville, Ohio

What about the Aaron Brooks Award for "The guy who manages to single-handedly kill you every week with his disgustingly consistent inconsistency"? He'll throw 15 picks in three weeks, which most likely caused you to bench him at some point for the flavor of the week. Then, your scrub hangs up five points, while Brooks hangs up 20. You think he finally gets it, then he screws you again. Yet somehow, at the end of the season, you look at the position rankings, and he's in the top 12 quarterbacks (he is 15th in my league THIS year). You see the ranking and figure he can't be that bad, and then you draft him again the next year as your steal in Round 10, thus cementing your losing season. As the namesake of the award, Brooks receives a pass. My nominee for this year's recipient is Willie Parker. Although he did not have the trademark Brooks brain-farts, he would routinely play Houdini by disappearing, then managing to reappear at inconvenient times. If Parker gets the nod again next year, owners beware.
-- Neal Cope, Knoxville, Tenn.

I would like to propose the "Kevin Jones Week 17 Fluffer Award" for the player who was mediocre all season but in a meaningless Week 17 matchup has a killer stat-padder game. This year's award goes to Randy Moss, who almost single-handedly destroyed my team this year, then goes out and puts up a 7 for 116 and two TDs after my team is 6 feet under. Kerry Collins looked like he had those horse blinkers on his right eye during most of the season! After a summer of tanning, you look at your FFL magazine in August and say, "Randy Moss, 60-1005-8, not bad!"
-- Josh, Newtown, Pa.

Don't forget the Michael Pittman Memorial "Most Yards Gained Without Scoring a Single Fantasy Point," which would have to go this year to Reuben Droughns. The guy runs for 1,200 yards, but in our league he only had six more points than Priest Holmes (who split carries for 7 weeks and then broke) ON THE SEASON.
-- Jim McDonnell, Avon, Conn.

The Fred Taylor's Groin Award (injury that sidelines/nags Fred Taylor for weeks without him actually going on IR) goes to ... Fred Taylor's ankle.
-- Jim, Albany, N.Y.

The Mushin Muhammad award for "Aging Vet Thought To Be Irrelevant For Fantasy Football That Busts Out a Big Season" goes to both Joey Galloway and Mike Anderson, who scored 10 and 12 TDs this season at ages 32 and 34, respectively. Lucky for me, I drafted both players.
-- Eric Bent, Gaithersburg, MD

The Ollie the Manager Award for "Player least likely to make a play to knock you out of the playoffs" goes to ... Kyle Boller. OK, here's the scenario. After being down 68 points (after Saturday's games) in our semifinal game (thanks to Tiki Barber's and Larry Johnson's monster games), my team cut the deficit to three points going into the Monday nighter. I have Donald Driver and my opponent has Todd Heap. I figure I have a decent chance, since the person throwing the ball to Heap is Kyle Freakin' Boller. So what happens? Kyle plays the greatest game of his life, throws for three touchdowns, with two of them going to Heap. I fell asleep watching it and didn't see the stats until I got to work the next morning. It was 7:45 in the morning and I wanted to start drinking heavily.
-- Patrick, Fairfax, Va.

The "Bad Idea Jeans" award goes to any owner who looked at the Priest Holmes/Larry Johnson tandem and thought "Holmes looks sturdy and those bench spots are too impersonal, I'll just cut Johnson." In my league, we'll call this guy "Tim." Normally I wear protection, but then I thought, "When am I gonna make it back to Haiti?"
-- Garnet, Fredrick, Md.

How about the award for "The biggest piece a crap that is just good enough to keep in your lineup every week?" For me this year it was Lamont Jordan. He was heading to the bench, I kept him in for the Bills game and then he killed me the rest of the year.
-- Steve, Rochester, N.Y.

The Grant Hill award for "Season That Most Closely Mirrored Grant Hill's Career" goes to the Green Bay Packers running corps(e). After thinking you had the comeback player of the year and a third round steal, Batman Green produced four weeks of nothing but a season ending injury. So, you decide to spend $5 on a transaction and pick up his backup, Najeh Davenport, who proceeds to tear his ankle up after one week. Another $5 goes to Tony Fisher, who produces 51 yards and a fractured rib. However, this is a blessing in disguise, as your next $5 goes to some guy named Gado, who carries your team to the playoffs. Boom, Torn MCL. So in a futile attempt to revive your Super Bowl chances, you spend $10 on a playoff transaction for Noah Herron, who ran himself and your bank account into an offseason of what could have been.
-- Mark Rothschild, New York

There should be a "Second stringer who is teased to start every freaking week but never does till it's too late in the season" award. I had Chester Taylor AND DeShaun Foster on my team.
-- Donovan, New York

The "Surreal Life" Award for "Too Little, Too Late" goes to Corey Dillon, who scored five touchdowns in weeks 14-16, ensuring big weeks for his owner's teams. These are the same owners that missed the playoffs and were out of action for those weeks because Dillon took the entire month of November off. Thanks, Corey.
-- John M., Waterbury, Conn.

The Anquan Boldin Award for the best receiver who gets 70% or more of his stats during garbage time. (Larry Fitzgerald)

The Kenneth Davis Award for the Backup running back who you keep on your roster all year in case the guy ahead of him gets hurt, AND NEVER DOES. (Maurice Morris)
-- Jonathan Wagner, Chicago, IL

THE ROY HORN "INJURY BUST OF THE YEAR" AWARD -- I'm still mad at myself for never seeing the Sigfried and Roy show in Vegas before Roy had his head gnawed on by Montecore the Tiger. (Winner: Donovan McNabb)

THE KATIE HOLMES "GONE CRAZY" AWARD -- This one goes to the established player that totally blows away all expectations and has a completely unexpected 2005. In January 2005, Katie Holmes was a virgin and engaged to Chris Klein. Now she's Kate Holmes, engaged to Tom Cruise and pregnant. Now THAT'S a year! (winner: Santana Moss.)
-- Jaime Mather, Roanoke, VA

"The Buddy Walker, where were you in the middle of the season Award" To Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, who mysteriously disappeared in week 4 with a foot injury only to reappear suddenly in week 11. Aren't 23 year-olds supposed to have indestructible bodies? Isn't that in fact the chief virtue of having a rookie RB on your fantasy team? My god, even Eddie George was a paragon on good health in his first few years in the league. I found it singularly frustrating that this otherwise excellent acquisition was compromised by injury -- the one thing he should have been immune to. Fumble a lot, have trouble integrating yourself into the passing game, don't pick up your blocking assignments, but for the love of god, stay healthy.
-- Ben Dimock, New York, NY

The Alex Rodriguez Award for "Piling up huge numbers in a Week 16 game that's irrelevant because all of your fantasy owners have been knocked out of contention by your awful play" to Julius Jones for his 194 yard, 2 TD performance against the Panthers. Just go to hell, Julius. And take Marion Barber with you.
-- Mike Cincotti, Bellingham, Mass.

How about the inaugural Jake Plummer QB Award for "I can't believe how not bad he's doing," which of course would go to the Snake this year, with David Carr and JP Losman as early front runners for next year. I'd also give the Scottie Pippen Award for "Most success due to playing opposite a superstar" which goes to TJ Houshmandzadeh with a bow to Santa Claus Johnson.
-- Nicolas LaMont, Springfield, Va.

The Frank Reich Award for the most unprecedented performance by a guy who was only in fantasy lineups by default ... to Chris Cooley, for his 71-yard, 3-TD performance two weeks ago. When he scored his first TD and the "He only needs 70 more yards and 2 more TDs" joke was busted out, due to the fact that my buddy PJ was playing Cooley by default and down 24 points in his playoff game with Cooley being the only player left to go on either team. Greatest fantasy swing ever.
-- John Walsh, Boston

The Peter North award for "Most Explosive Finish" goes to Larry Johnson.
-- Chris, Carrboro, N.C.

I would like to nominate Todd Heap for the "Tim Duncan: Never Been Screwed by a Nicer Guy" award. In Week 15, I was ready to knock off the No. 1 team in our fantasy league with only Todd Heap and a "Monday Night Football" game between me and the Championship game. With a 10-point lead, I was walking around Boston with the 1997 Rick Pitino "This situation can't lose" face on. I didn't even watch the game I was so confident. The next morning I was shocked to see that I lost after Heap blew up for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Too make matters worse, I don't know how to hold a grudge against an above-average tight end that just goes out and plays every week. I supposed this is what it feels like to actually be licked to death.
-- Joey, Boston

The Chris Tucker Award for "What the [bleep] happened to him!" goes to both Michael Clayton and Andre Johnson for promising seasons early in their careers that suckered you into selecting them in your second round and then turning into complete flops.
-- Sam, Boston

I'd like to recommend the Kristy Swanson "Best Immediate Fall From Grace" award" for Mike Anderson, who in back-to-back games, ran 26 for 113 and three TDs vs. the Jets and in the following week, versus the Cowboys, ran 11 times for 31 yards, managed a fumble, and gave up his day job to Ron Dayne (who inexplicably had a career game that night). Anderson's performances meant a 31 point difference in my fantasy league; I don't know anyone else who could've pulled that off this season.
-- Joe Nihiser, Cincinnati

The Brooks Hatlen memorial award for "Guy who'll never be the same after getting out of the joint" goes to Jamal Lewis.
-- Jeff M., Minneapolis

I have a couple of quickies ...

The Kelly McGillis "Attractive but Stuck in an Amish Family" Award: Reuben Droughns.

The Mike Demone "Scores Quickly but Doesn't Last Long Award": Stephen Davis.

The Paris Hilton Award for "The player who moves fast, isn't attractive, is highly contagious and yet remains incredibly popular": Michael Vick
-- Brandon Trissler, Iowa City

Don't forget The Peter King "Vote of Confidence" Fantasy Curse Award for 2005 goes to RB Julius Jones. He was my second round pick this year. Damn you, Peter King. Damn you.
-- Joe K., Auburn, Mass.

You need an award for Willis McGahee, the man who killed me in the playoffs. I think the "Glenn Close in 'Fatal Attraction'" Award would be appropriate. Anyone who owned Willis McGahee this season is like Michael Douglas. He had the affair with Glenn Close, got some really hot sex out of it, but us watching knew that at any moment she was going to turn psycho on him and make life a living hell for him. You could see it coming. In the beginning of the season, he was my first round pick as my keeper from the previous season. Everyone was touting him as one of the elite backs. Before the bye week, he had weeks where he gave me 15, 24, 16, 15, 26, and 18 points. I felt like I was on cloud nine racking up all of these points, just like Douglas' character must have felt with Glenn Close. It was exciting stuff. But after the bye it was suddenly weeks of 5, 3, 5, and 9 points. But I stuck with him in week 14 for my playoff game. He proceeded to drop a big fat goose egg on my head with 0 points that week, making me lose the playoffs. He ruined my fantasy football life. And I have this feeling like most of the fantasy football world saw this coming with McGahee, except me. If I try to drop him next year, I feel like McGahee will show up at my door step with a butcher knife saying, "I will not be ignored!"
-- Steve Skalish, Philadelphia

How about "The player that has an amazing Week 1, causing owners and friends to fight over him but sucks for the rest of the year" Award. I think this is a tie between Frisman Jackson and Chris Baker (yeah, he got injured, but his last 6 games were nowhere near his Week 1 performance). In my 13-team league, there were 12 waiver requests for each of them. I sat back, laughed and picked up Larry Johnson.
-- Ken Capperell, Rochester, N.Y.

The Kurt Warner Memorial "Replacement Pickup of the Year" Award -- for when an unknown, undrafted player replaces an injured solid player and some crap team gets lucky to pick him up and save their season goes to ... Willie Parker.
-- Matt R., New York

The 2005 Michael Westbrook Award for "Wide Receiver who had a decent year and then fell off the face of the earth" goes to Michael Clayton. He's the Clayton from the Bucs. The fact that I needed to clarify that for at least 50 [percent] of your readers says it all.
-- Kupe, Washington, DC

The Donte Stallworth Award for "Promising sophomore wide receiver who goes in the tank" to Michael Clayton. I swear on the lives of my family that I was thinking about Stallworth's postbreakout season when I drafted Clayton instead of Larry Fitzgerald (go ahead ... laugh). I went ahead and drafted him anyway, figuring I was overthinking it. Nope.
-- Pete Lacombe, Somerville, Mass.

The Thurman Thomas Super Bowl Killer Award for "The player to whom without there would be no way your fantasy team would get to the Super Bowl, only to watch him kill you once you're there" goes to LaDainian Tomlinson, who led two of my Yahoo teams to the Super Bowl and absolutely killed me in the playoffs thanks to his combined 8 Yahoo points in Weeks 15 and 16 and no TDs the last 4 weeks of the fantasy season. Quite frankly, I'm still reeling from this. I mean, how did it happen?
-- Tom Cammalleri, Westlake Village, Calif.

The Mia Sara award for "The guy who comes out of nowhere to dazzle, then disappears into obscurity" goes to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Nobody had heard of him, he tosses 310 in 3 quarters, everyone grabs him ... and he disappears.
-- Evan, New York

The Clubber Lang Award for "Most feared player heading into a fantasy matchup" goes to Steve Smith, Chad Johnson and Santana Moss. Although they didn't have stud games every weekend, just the knowledge that they could put up three touchdowns was enough to ruin a Saturday night.
-- Eric Lubochinski, Stamford, Conn.

The Charlie Garner Award for the "Guy who puts up great yards but has an astounding lack of TDs" goes to Warrick Dunn.
-- Ed Garrett, Harrisburg, Pa.

The "Best Artificial Fishing Lure" Award goes to Plaxico Burress who, after scoring four touchdowns through the first four weeks of the regular season had every fantasy owner willing to trade their best running back for him, then he proceeded to score a measly two touchdowns over the next 12 games!
-- Spencer Wideman, Chicago

The Chong Li Award for "Betting Way too Much on a Player I Knew Was Going to Fizzle Out at the End of the Year" goes to Drew Bledsoe -- an absolutely pathetic finish to a season where he was the top rated passer in the NFC for the first 10 weeks. You just know in everyone's league there was one diehard Bledsoe or Cowboys fan who thought Drew could pull it out, and you could have easily (and should have) traded him for someone, but that voice inside his head kept telling him, "Hey, Keyshawn is looking good. Jason Witten is an All-Pro TE. Once Julius Jones gets healthy, the Cowboys' play action attack will be clicking." Just like those poor Korean businessmen in "Bloodsport" who kept betting on Chong Li until the end, even though he was obviously evil and destined to lose to the quicker, more flexible American, you fell victim to the "What if's" in the world and couldn't listen to your common sense.
-- Rob Grundlock, Stratford, N.J.




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