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Thursday, September 18, 2008
FANTASY WORLD: RIDING TANDEM


"I couldn't have done it alone, and I ain't talking about you, mom."

Since the dawn of time, when the first subatomic particle rotated around the first nucleus, duos have ruled. The Yin and the Yang, the Sun and the Moon, Batman and Robin, and most recently, Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. And no sport exemplifies the beauty of a well-oiled two-person partnership quite like the quarterback and his favorite wide receiver. Alright, a pitcher and catcher is a tad better, but this is football column people!

In The Fantasy World, there's no greater feeling than owning both sides of a high-flying QB-to-WR tandem. Sure, it might make that one bye week particularly grueling, but it's worth it when those single touchdowns become a double, just like Ralph's coupons! Let's take a look at some of the best pass-catch pairs going today and what you should expect from here on out: Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall, Broncos The fellas held a love-fest last Sunday, when Cutler hooked up with his BFF Brandon Marshall 18 times for 166 yards and a TD. Don't expect this to be a one-night fling. Last year, Marshall accounted for 38% of Cutler's yardage and 34% of his completions. (To compare, Randy Moss accounted for 31% of Tom Brady's yards and 25% of his completions last season.) Cutler just loves throwing to Marshall. And since Marshall is only 24 and Cutler 25, this could be the new Montana-to-Rice for years to come. It doesn't hurt that Mike Shanahan seems to have fallen in love with his new aerial assault, calling 75 passes to 58 runs during this young season. Famous Duo Equivalent: Zak Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. The two are still young, so anything can go wrong, but if they do stick together, don't be surprised in they continue to rake in the dough with a new High School Musical coming out every year until 2035.

Tony Romo to Terrell Owens, Cowboys Don't worry about the minor crack in the duo's relationship Monday night, when T.O. seemed pouty after snagging only three catches; he's always been more about quality over quantity, as evidenced last year when he finished 5th in yards and 20th in receptions. He'll keep on getting his unsportsmanlike penalties in the end zone as long as he can still run. That, however, might be the problem. At 34, Owens only has a few years left before hitting the wall and forcing Romo to turn to someone else. Strangely enough, that's when Romo will be looking for a replacement for Jessica Simpson as well. Wait, we meant three months—give or take. Famous Duo Equivalent: Peg and Al Bundy. Sure, they're constantly quarrelling, but when an outside force threatens the sanctity of their family, there's no more resilient pair around.

Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne, Colts The only problem with these two has been that Manning's had so many other options to use: Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai and the ageless gun-lover Marvin Harrison. In fact, since 2004, when Wayne officially became option numero uno, he's only accounted for 26% of Manning's completions. Don't expect that number to rise even though Harrison is rapidly aging; his lost targets will go to up-and-comer Anthony Gonzalez. Famous Duo Equivalent: Penn & Teller. One's a pitchman extraordinaire, and the other never speaks (I don't recall ever seeing Wayne utter a word), but together they make a glorious mockery of the defense. Jake Delhomme to Steve Smith, Panthers While their relationship hasn't had a chance to blossom yet this year, be on the lookout for things to get hot-and-heavy this week. Take out the 2004 season when Smith got hurt in the first game, and 2007 when Delhomme lasted only three games, and Smith has been on the receiving end of 35% of Delhomme's completions and a whooping 41% of his yards. This one's bound to stay productive as long as Smith can keep himself from punching his teammates in the face, which is no sure bet. Famous Duo Equivalent: Cheech and Chong. While the two have a bunch of highlights together (worst joke ever) the pair will only remain productive as long as the authorities don't interfere.

Jon Kitna to Calvin Johnson, Lions This one is only worth mentioning because of Johnson's freakish athletic ability. With the team constantly behind because of their atrocious defense, Kitna's going to be airing it out even without the Mad Martz calling plays—so far this year, the team has 78 pass plays to only 33 rushes—and Johnson will be on the receiving end of most of them. That said, don't be surprised if the Lions give backup Dan Orlovsky or 2nd-year man Drew Stanton a look when they're out of it, but which I mean, Week 7. Famous Duo Equivalent: Regis and Kelly. One is young, spry and full of energy, while the other is old, has seen everything and is also full of energy.
He's dynamic, but not alone.
Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings, Packers Two games into the post-Favre era, and I'm already onboard this bandwagon. Seeing Rodgers throw in Jennings' direction 10 times last game, to the tune of five catches and 167 yards, is just the first step for these two 24-year-olds. While the start of this year might be a dogfight between Jennings and Driver for Rodgers' affections, look for Jennings to quickly take over as the go-to receiver for the next half-decade or so. Famous Duo Equivalent: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Their bond remains strong, despite the road of fame having its share of ups (the Bourne movies) and downs (Affleck's career). Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward, Steelers While the two never account for a whole lot of yardage, Big Ben loves nothing more than looking in Ward's direction in the end zone; the gritty wideout has accounting for 36% of Ben's career passing TDs. And they've already gotten off to a good start this year, connecting three times already. Watch for this to continue until Ward retires sometime in the next millennium. Famous Duo Equivalent: Murtaugh and Riggs. The young gun will continue to have his share of reckless behavior (say, riding a motorcycle without a helmet), but the old pro will always be around as a calming force for all of eternity. Despite quotes to the contrary, he'll never completely get too old for this … stuff. ----- Player on My Team of the Week: Justin Morneau, who continued making his case for the MVP by hitting .360 with a HR and 7 RBIs. For me personally, it's win-win. If Morneau gets the MVP, I get a nice monetary bonus, but that'll only happens if the Twins overcome the White Sox for the division, something I'd be happy with not happening. How to Heckle One Of My Players of the Week: "Hey Jason Varitek, does that 'C' on your jersey stand for Captain? Or for Completely Awful? Now if you'll excuse me, I'm just going to hang back and wait for you to finish your meal, 'cause you just got served!" The Annual Brian Westbrook Award for Greatest Inciter of Fantasy-Based Rage: DeSean Jackson, who literally threw away a touchdown at the one-yard-line when he tossed the ball down in premature celebration. Buy High: The sanctity of family in Nigeria, after 84-year-old preacher Mohammed Bello Masaba was arrested for breaking marriage laws after being found with 86 wives and 107 children. Sell Low: The sanity of the art world, after Damien Hirst's piece "The Kingdom", essentially consisting of a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde, sold for $17 million dollars.