- Stephanie Taylor
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It's been a quiet couple of weeks in A Girl's Fantasy … other than finding out that the Patriots cheated! (I don't know if you've heard). We've been trying to give the Dawg Pound, a die-hard Pats fan, a hard time about it on the message board, but she refuses to engage in the conversation. Just like Bill Belichick, she's going to have to make a statement at some point, and I can't wait to hear what she has to say.
As for someone who can't help but make statements, Black Widows, owned by my sister Christina, started a topic titled "Underdogs Prevail" so she could brag about the Browns win in general (we're from Akron, Ohio) and her win over me So, yes, she beat me in the sibling rivalry game. But how can she call herself an underdog when I finished last in points the previous week? I don't know why that irritated me so much, but it did, and I really hope she loses this week. She's playing Purple Haze, so it could be tough. PH's teams traditionally are strong, and she won the championship two years ago. Black Widows never has done that.
Being in a league with a flex position, there are a lot of lineup-setting questions every week. Is it better to start your No. 3 running back or your No. 3 wide receiver? It's a PPR league, so don't go underestimating the power of a good possession receiver. Christina's running backs look solid, with Reggie Bush and Joseph Addai starting and Edgerrin James at flex. I think this game easily could come down to her wide receivers. Obviously, she's sticking with Chad Johnson, but her second receiver is the question. Last week, she started Santonio Holmes, who is ranked 27th in wide receiver points. With a few decent receiver options on her bench, I think it's worth taking a look at them.
The first is Darrell Jackson, who can have a great game every now and then but reminds me of Samuel L. Jackson's fragile character in "Unbreakable." The second is Reggie Brown. I like Brown, but what's up with Donovan McNabb? Perhaps he isn't fully recovered from last year's injury? Or maybe the Kevin Kolb thing really got to his head? Maybe it isn't even his fault; maybe his surrounding cast is to blame. Andy Reid isn't exactly brilliant when it comes to finding talent in skill positions. But without a mentally stable QB throwing to him, Brown doesn't have a chance. And finally, the receiver with the most untapped potential is the Colts' Anthony Gonzalez, but he won't really be playing for at least a few more weeks. I say she sticks with Holmes. And hopefully that's bad advice underdog.
Purple Haze, owned by league morality enforcer Malia, sat in pain last week while watching Jamal Lewis put up 31 points on her bench, but at least she won despite her failure to appreciate the potential of the Browns offense. I'm laughing as I write this, because, as a Browns fan, I find last week's performance inexplicable and I don't expect to see our (yes, our) offense perform like that again in my lifetime. With that said, the Browns play the Raiders this week, and Oakland's defense is down there at the bottom with Cinci's and Cleveland's. If she puts Lewis in, it will be ahead of Cedric Benson, who is playing Dallas. Although the Cowboys are struggling against the passing game this year, they've done much better against the run and have held opponents to just 92 yards per game. Last week, they held Ronnie Brown to just 3 yards per carry.
The Dawg Pound, a perennial powerhouse in our league, is off to an 0-2 start, and that's the only fact that has brought a smile to my face during these first two weeks. Not that I want Kate to lose, but if she's doing poorly, then I don't feel as guilty about my awful team. Even though she still would have lost last week, she left a lot of talent on her bench, including Isaac Bruce, Ahman Green, Julius Jones, and, most importantly, Antonio Gates! When I asked her what the heck she was thinking, she said she started Jason Witten because he had scored the same number of points as Gates the previous week and "Witten was playing against Miami, who sucks and whom I hate, and Gates was playing against the Patriots, who do not suck and whom I love. I played with my heart, not my head, and it will not happen again."
The Red Dogs owner, Sarah, still is debating what wide receiver to use. Last week, it was between Bernard Berrian and Lee Evans, so she started both of them and moved Jerious Norwood out of her flex position. It turned out she was right to go with a receiver at flex, but she picked the wrong one. Now, she has the added dilemma of whether or not to believe Braylon Edwards plays on a team that has offense. Plus, she has Jerricho Cotchery against Miami this week. She's pretty conservative, so I think she'll go with Cotchery.
Melanie's Golden Rules has a nice problem. The best guy on her bench is Jake Delhomme, but you don't bench Peyton Manning. Her next-best option this week is Jerry Porter, since the Raiders will play a Browns team that has had no red-zone passing defense so far. The Browns have allowed 10 touchdowns in the air in just two games. Mel's approach to her decisions each week is all based on past performance -- as a lawyer, precedent is everything to her. I think she'll go with Porter, based on his performance last week. The question remains, who does she bench? She's too obsessed with the Steelers to bench her beloved Hines Ward, so I'm guessing she'll bench Larry Fitzgerald against the Ravens (even though Cotchery had 165 yards against them). Or, perhaps she'll learn from Kate's mistake and play her stud receiver through thick and thin. There also is precedence for that. Don't you just love these agonizing decisions, Melanie?
Despite winning her first two games, Courtney and her Georgia Peaches are up to something, as she changed out most of her starters this week, including benching Larry Johnson! Is this a desperation move because LJ will face the stout Minnesota run defense? Can she really think Clinton Portis and Cadillac Williams both will have better games, and that Javon Walker will be a better start at flex because of the PPR setup? (She also has got Reggie Wayne and Plaxico Burress as her wide receivers.) Or is it just a psych-out ploy of Mike Shanahan-esque proportions, with a swift lineup move to come Sunday just before kickoff? She's keeping quiet as to her strategy.
Dientes Locos lost by half a point last week -- one measly, one-yard reception! And although she would have won if she had put in a different kicker or wide receiver, you can't fault her for starting Ronald Curry over Vincent Jackson or Jason Elam over David Akers. I think she'll probably stick with that lineup this week. As for carrying two kickers? Some might argue that should be against the moral rules. (Read all about the moral rules by clicking the link at the top.) She plays Big Cats this week, and Leila's been making all the right decisions so far, so I doubt she'll change her lineup, either.
And finally this week, you have the two worst teams playing each other for last place: Allie Gators and Blonde Devils, Allie's team versus mine. Is this the week I finally bench Drew Brees in favor of Jason Campbell or Matt Schaub? The ironic thing about the Brees situation is that I never draft quarterbacks before the seventh round because I'm really good at recognizing talent in the later rounds. It's actually something that's so set in my drafting protocol that this year, when I didn't follow it, several people asked what happened to me. I heard "but you never do that" over and over again, and maybe I shouldn't have, because my team is suffering as a result. Allie Gators is having a tough fantasy year so far because she used up all her good karma on wins for her Florida Gators. You don't get to have back-to-back championships in basketball, a championship in football and an undefeated-so-far-this-year-despite-replacing-your-entire-defense team without paying for it, especially when two of those championships came at the expense of my Ohio State Buckeyes. I think watching her fantasy team lose along with her Miami Dolphins is only fair. With that said, she's made some changes this week, putting in Jay Cutler for Donovan McNabb, Benjamin Watson for Tony Gonzalez, and Santana Moss for Donald Driver. The last change is because the Redskins play the Giants, and I think I'll put in Campbell just so I can link her wide receiver to my quarterback. She has a really good chance of beating me, so I have to do something. I can't go 0-3 I'm the defending champ! That's right, Black Widows, I've won a championship and you haven't, so you can stop gloating about last week's win any time now.
Stephanie Taylor writes about fantasy football for ESPN.com. You also can get her college football Pick'Em picks every week on ESPN Motion.