Thank goodness Halloween is over! There was this very suspicious Victor-shaped ghost that rang Hector's doorbell every 15 minutes smelling of Night Train, mumbling something about a golden ticket that he needed to find and could he please have some more candy. Finally at around midnight, he screamed that the little orange men were coming for him and Hector could finally get some sleep. However, the smell of slowly melting chocolate permeated the air all during Sunday's games and made it nearly impossible to focus on all the action. But now, with a clearer head, we take a trip to the waiver wire and see if we can't determine which of the names near the top of the list are in fact, real, and which come from the world of pure imagination. Take our hand…
So maybe there is a little good to come out of Notre Dame this season…
Since tearing up Denver's defense for 104 yards rushing in Week 8, Ryan Grant has been a point of contention for fantasy owners and experts alike. He is currently found on only 31.6 percent of ESPN fantasy rosters, yet is No.1 on the Green Bay depth charts, and put forth a solid -- if unspectacular -- 92 total yards against Kansas City in Week 9. The Notre Dame product, who came to the Packers in a late August trade from the Giants, had spent the previous two seasons inactive; in 2005, he was on the practice squad, and in 2006, he was on injured reserve.
In 2007, however, he has made a name for himself, if for no other reason than being the "flavor of the week" waiver-wire running back, being just good enough to not set Green Bay back, and keep the Packers at 7-1.
But this is fantasy, and -- more specifically -- this is Hector and Victor. So we take our focus off the real world and bring it deeper into fantasy. Therefore, Ryan Grant, we must ask … Are You For Real?
Hector: We're talking about a team that for the first six weeks of the season would have sent a running back who gained 75 yards to the Hall of Fame. In a world in which everyone is dying of thirst, the man with a spoonful of water is king. The Packers have been running in the deep Sahara for much of the year, and Ryan Grant has revealed to them a road map to the oasis. Now, it might take twice as long to get there as other teams, but get there they will. Grant is for real.
Victor: No no no no no no. I mean, if Brandon Jackson and Vernand Morency didn't exist -- well, fine, if Brandon Jackson didn't exist (Morency has been a wholly disappointing nonfactor) -- then maybe I'd give Grant the "for real" designation. But you can't seriously try to convince me that the Packers are going to just keep handing the ball off to Grant when you have two more sets of fresh legs on the sideline to spell him and change the pace. And you want to go a step further? In two seconds, I challenge you to name the guy who was the starting running back for the Packers three weeks ago. GO!
Can't remember, can you? It was DeShawn Wynn, and in three weeks from now, we may be playing the same name game (from Spain in the rain) with Ryan Grant.
Not only is Kellen Clemens the supposed savior for all the Jets fans who wear their green and beg for the removal of Chad Pennington, even if it is when he hobbles off the field! They try to convince Mangini to listen to fans in the stands and replace him with Kellen Clemens, ("It always works when we urge him to go for it on fourth down!") but he was also a sixth generation cattle farmer growing up, a fact that was brought to everyone's attention in a New York Times article in September. So where does this leave us?
On one hand, being raised a cattle farmer and then becoming an NFL quarterback in the world's busiest city is a lovely story. On the other hand, it pains Hector and Victor to see any group of annoying fans be right about something. Just kills us. So what happens? Clemens throws for 226 yards and a touchdown, while running for 43, but the Jets lose the game. Perhaps we have found a way to embrace this paradox presented to us.
Clemens had a 19-point day, but has a rather tenuous hold on the job, and he could face some problems down the road. Then again, Clemens apologists can always counter anything bad we say by reminding us -- in a southern drawl-kind-of-way -- that he faced more challenges roping cattle when he was 10. This ain't nothin to the Clemens boy. You New Yorkers always think the world revolves around you.
Still, we would be shirking our responsibilities as cartoons if we didn't pose the question to one another: Kellen Clemens, Are You For Real?
Hector: Cattle farmer, huh? So next home game will we expect the announcer to say "They're not boo-ing, they're moo-ing" or what? Look, Clemens is a far better option than many of these fill-in options … the Cleo Lemons, the Matt Moores, and the Brooks Bollingers of the world. But he's still a far cry from the elite, as well. There's going to be a steep learning curve and one decent performance against a team that was still shell-shocked from getting destroyed by the Patriots is not going to make me mortgage the ranch on this QB.
Victor: Take a hard look at the receivers listed in the Week 9 game against the Redskins. There's one conspicuous absence: Laveranues Coles. Clemens took over as the starting quarterback, threw for 226 yards and no interceptions, almost led the Jets to a victory, and did it all without his top receiver. Don't short-change the absence of Coles here, either. He's owned in almost 100 percent of ESPN leagues, and will most likely return from the bye week fully recovered and ready to play. Once Coles is added to the arsenal of weapons, I expect Clemens to really turn it on, Quinn Gray-style! Kellen Clemens, I dub thee, "For Real"!
We are in some muddy waters now.
If the name "Maurice Hicks" rings a bell to any fantasy owners out there, it's probably from a string of games at the end of 2005 when he took snaps away from -- Hey! Would you look at that! -- Frank Gore. An ankle injury knocked Gore out of Sunday's game against the Falcons, so Hicks and former Penn State QB Michael Robinson shared the carries, with Hicks gaining an incredibly efficient 7.0 yards per carry (7 carries, 49 yards) and a touchdown. Robinson, meanwhile, got the bulk of the carries (17) and gained 67 yards.
So now we are faced with this scenario. Gore has been ineffective in the offense so far this season and is a little banged up. Hicks and Robinson, meanwhile, combined for 116 yards and a touchdown. If you were Mike Nolan, what would you and your tie do here? Stick with the insufferable (for his fantasy owners, anyway) Gore? Go with the formula that worked in seasons past (Hicks)? Or make Michael Robinson one of the few players in recent memory to make a successful transition from college quarterback to NFL running back? For the sake of this column, we're going to explore the middle option, and ask Maurice Hicks: Are You For Real?
Victor: Without a doubt, Hicks is not for real. Yes, he had excellent YPC numbers, but the existence of Frank Gore and Michael Robinson -- who got 10 more carries than Hicks -- kill his value. In fact, I won't even waste time rationalizing this any more. Hicks should be on your roster only if you're desperate, and, then, only if Robinson has already been claimed.
Hector: The fact that my good colleague is even entertaining this question should be a cautionary tale to you all. Larry Johnson gets hurt and everybody rushes to pick up Kolby Smith. Ronnie Brown goes down and you can't find a Patrick Cobbs anywhere. Now, we've got a case of Frank Gore-itis. Let's all get Maurice Hicks. It's time to stop this vicious cycle. Yes, if you're desperate, take anybody who will get carries, but otherwise, use the bench you've hopefully drafted. There is no such thing as an everlasting gobstopper at running back. Eventually, each one will simply disappear, and you should be prepared BEFORE this happens and you need to consider a guy like Hicks.
Now, get out! You lose! Good day, sir! I said, good day!