Commentary

Hail Mary: Back to the well with Lelie, Gray

Updated: November 2, 2007, 3:25 PM ET
By Nando Di Fino | Special to ESPN.com

This is what happens when you get stuck on an idea.

In last week's column, I suggested Ashley Lelie as a deep sleeper option for you desperate owners out there. It got to be such a great idea, in fact, that I decided to put my money where my mouth was, and offered a free copy of "Hellraiser II" on DVD to a commenter at random if Lelie had fewer than 35 yards receiving.

He had 20.

So, one Tristan Cockcroft e-mail later ("Dude, just pick a number between 1 and 13 for me and don't ask why"), commenter "28cent" is the proud owner of one new DVD, compliments of Ashley Lelie.

But that wasn't where it ended.

I got so caught up in thinking that Lelie could go for 35 yards, I started to make wild bets with friends and family (and boyfriends of my cousin's friends) who read the column. The typical conversation, late on a Friday night in a New York bar, would go something like this:

Some dude who was hitting on my cousin but claimed to just be her friend: "You're sick for thinking Lelie will get 35 yards. Give me 'Hellraiser II.'"
Me: "No … but I will bet you anything else."
Dude: "How about a shot?"
Me: "How about a pair of Levi's jeans?"
[pause]
Dude: "You sure you don't want to do just a shot?"
Me: "Levi's jeans! Then you can call them your Ashley Lel-Levi's."
[longer pause]
Dude: "OK."

So now I'm down a pair of Levi's jeans, a DVD, 10 Sharpie markers that I can only obtain by stealing them from work, and I have to eat a pound of bacon in front of my friend Steve next Monday morning. Have I learned my lesson? Not quite.

"Double or Nothing" Pick of the Week

Ashley Lelie, WR, 49ers: I will eventually pay for this -- either through my wallet, my reputation, my small intestine or by getting fired for stealing Sharpies -- but, as much as I hate the man for what he has cost me, Lelie is still the No. 2 wide receiver in the San Francisco offense, he still has potential to put up numbers and he still has caught a combined five passes for 72 yards over the past two weeks. Nobody can take those 72 yards away from him. Nobody!

But they can continue to take things from me …

I'm again predicting 35 yards from Lelie this week. Maybe a touchdown. Use him only if necessary, and only if you are feeling like taking a gamble. But the upside could pay off for teams hurting at WR.

"Focused, Nonterminal Repeating Phantasm" Pick of the Week

Quinn Gray, QB, Jaguars: Yes, I'm bringing Gray back, too. Call me crazy, but I love Quinn Gray. I know he passed for only 100 yards Sunday, and, yes, there was a fumble mixed in for good luck, but I'm bringing him back to Hail Mary for a second week in a row because I feel he's still a great play in fantasy leagues. He had 10 points last week. That's a 16-point swing from the week before, when he was absolutely horrible in relief of David Garrard. And let's not overlook the fact that Gray is an NFL quarterback. A group of great football minds deemed him good enough to back up Garrard. It's not as if they had to grab a guy from the stands and suit him up. Gray has an NFL Europa title under his belt, he's facing a team that knows the Jags want to run (and will therefore challenge him to pass, which he did splendidly in the preseason), and … well, have a little faith, people! Tom Brady's first three games when he was called into duty in 2001 were, by no means, stellar, but his fourth game was excellent (364 yards, two TDs). Give Gray a little time to get acclimated, and you may be pleased with the results.

"Finally, Someone New" Picks of the Week

Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers: Remember Jackson from way back in September? It was Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, super rookies who would hold our hands and lead us all to fantasy greatness. Lynch came through; Jackson hit a roadblock. But he's back now, after suffering through a concussion, and then a shin and knee injury. Who stands in his way?

The Mighty Vernand More -- oh wait, he's got a balky knee and has barely played.

The Mighty DeShawn Wy -- no, hold on, he's out for the season.

The Mighty Ryan Grant!

I said … the Mighty Ryan Grant!

Seriously? I just made that name up.

Look, I'm not the world's biggest Brandon Jackson fan, but he should be owned in more than 42.3 percent of ESPN leagues. A lot more. Like 75 percent. Ryan Grant is most likely going to be that guy who, three weeks from now, sits at the bottom of your bench, and when you click on the little "piece of paper on fire" icon next to his name, you get an update that reads something like this:

Grant had four carries for nine yards, and appears to have lost his starting position to Brandon Jackson.
Spin: Three weeks ago, "Hail Mary" told us to pick up Jackson, and we all laughed heartily and drove the column to obscurity. Now look at us. Fools! Grant was just Samkon Gado all over again, and we all came out looking like idiots. Life is not worth living. I wish I were dead. We should all wish we were dead.

Michael Jenkins, WR, Falcons: With all the attention focused -- as much as there is to go around for the Falcons -- on Roddy White, Jenkins has quietly put together some decent fantasy weeks, compiling three in double digits … and then a smattering of weeks very far from double digits (1, 4, 2 and 3 points). So, which Michael Jenkins shows up?

We're not really sure.

There is no correlation with either Byron Leftwich or Joey Harrington as his QB. He's had as many bad and good games with each behind center. And, let's be honest; if we're going to anoint Ashley Lelie -- San Francisco's No. 2 -- as a Hail Mary pick, it would be foolish not to pick Jenkins as well. Jenkins is owned by 9.5 percent of teams in ESPN leagues, but has put up weeks of 76, 64 and 69 yards. In the week he had 64 yards, he also managed two touchdowns.

The flip side to this? His horribly frustrating weeks of 13, 15, 2 and 23 yards. And the zero TDs he's scored in any other week.

Still, if he can explode for 64 yards and two TDs, and then catch one pass for two yards the following week, he's erratic and explosive enough to be anointed a Hail Mary.

"Rated Rookie" Picks

Michael Bush, RB, and JaMarcus Russell, QB, Raiders: They go hand in hand. Russell has been anointed the No. 3 in Oakland, behind a banged up Josh McCown and a banged up Daunte Culpepper. Do you see where this is going? Vince Young, Eli Manning and Matt Leinart took over the QB reins by relative surprise over the past couple years. And Lane Kiffin was ridiculously secretive about his starter coming out of training camp. Why wouldn't he insert Russell in the second half of a game and then latch on to him from there? The Raiders are 2-5 and going nowhere fast. If I had a QB-shallow team, I'd grab Russell now, cut DeShawn Wynn and wait out the inevitable QB switch.

Bush, meanwhile, is entering a flooded backfield, and will have to wrestle time away from LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas. I realize this sounds tough on paper, but Bush is a highly skilled back who was just taken off the PUP list, thus forcing the Raiders to cut someone to make room for him. It would have been easier, from a team and administrative standpoint, just to place Bush on IR, and give him a fresh start next season. Instead, Oakland activated him, cut a player, and will now give him an opportunity to show what he is capable of. He may get off to a slow start, but chances are he'll find 10-15 carries per game by season's end.

Fun Kicker Fact of the Week

On April 22, Bears kicker Robbie Gould (pronounced "gold," like the precious metal) had the honor of singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field for a Cubs game. The final score was a kicker's dream: Cardinals 12, Cubs 9.