Are You For Real? Peterson, Shiancoe, Echemandu

Before we get to football, there are three things lately that have the two of us scratching our heads:

  1. The huge lack of creativity in Halloween costumes this year. We're talking bad "Saturday Night Live" tributes, British rock stars and beer wenches. Whatever happened to the sexy witch costume? Or … well … let's just start with the sexy witch… Bring it back for 2008!

  2. The lack of people who drink Cuervo Black. All the fun of tequila, but the taste is designed to be mixed with Coke Zero. We can't see how this is a bad thing.

  3. The players we have chosen for this week.

Before you start reading this week's column, Hector and Victor strongly suggest you stay away from all hallucinogens, alcohol or other mind-altering substances. Why? Legal issues aside, you're going to need all your faculties to find these guys on the waiver wire. It's going to get harder before it gets easier.
Without further ado, then, we give you:

"It Came From the Waiver Wire!"

Adrian Peterson, RB, Bears

We all had some nice laughs at the draft when one of our friends selected Minnesota's rookie running back for his team and our commish wrote "RB, Chicago" next to his name on the draft board. Good times were had by all; it quickly was changed to "RB, Minnesota"; and the draft continued without even a peep of the Chicago backup.

Fast-forward eight weeks, and we are faced with a struggling Cedric Benson, backed up by The Other Adrian Peterson, who has been slowly building up steam without many people noticing. Weeks 3 to 8, his point totals in a points-per-reception league were: 3, 5, 6, 8, 8 and, finally, 11. Once you hit double digits in scoring after a slow climb (not dissimilar to the yodeler on "The Price is Right"), you have earned a spot in the annals of Are You For Real. It's just how things work around here.

So, Adrian Peterson, RB, Chicago, we would be fools if we did not ask: Are You For Real?

Hector: There's a German word for an "evil twin" or identical double. It's doppelganger. It is said that such a person can plant ideas in his victim's mind and cause confusion. Such is not the life of Adrian Peterson. Had he that power, perhaps he'd have talked his way into the Bears' starting lineup by now. But he's not running the ball much, and isn't getting out of his namesake's shadow despite frequently catching the ball out of the backfield, most recently six times against the Lions. However, his fantasy point totals -- combined with Benson's mediocre-at-best output -- have persuaded everyone in the state of Illinois except Lovie Smith to give this AP the ball. He could be for real. He should be for real. But he's destined to remain the "other" Adrian Peterson.

Victor: I learned the word "doppelganger" from one of the last episodes, maybe the last episode, of "Twin Peaks." Just FYI. Here's why I'm designating Adrian Peterson of the Bears as For Real: Benson is due for an injury. I don't see Peterson taking his flag and sticking it into the moon that is the starting job; that's Benson's job, and he earned it. But Peterson has a chance to break through by way of a convenient Benson injury, which is becoming more and more of a possibility as he plays on that banged-up knee. It's true that this Adrian Peterson might never reach the heights of his namesake in Minnesota, but if Benson has to sit out a couple of weeks to rest his knee and the starting job gets handed to Peterson, there's no reason to believe his point totals won't scrape the 20s. He already is involved in the passing attack, so a feature role can only increase his value.

Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings

We were actually pretty close on this one. Hec and Vic told you to expect 12 points from Shiancoe, as Kelly Holcomb seems to like the Morgan State product a lot more than Tarvaris Jackson did. How did Shiancoe respond? Five receptions, 50 yards and a touchdown, good for a whopping 11 points. Just to put that in perspective for you, the man he was stuck behind in New York -- Jeremy Shockey -- hasn't scored more than 14 in a week so far this season.
Boiling down Shiancoe's success seems to be easy enough for a fourth-grader to figure out; if Holcomb plays, he does well. If it's Jackson, he does not (two weeks with zero catches before Week 8). So, naturally, the fantasy powers that be have thrown us a huge curveball in the form of Brooks Bollinger. How will Shiancoe respond? A Jackson-esque zero yards? Or will he want to make Kelly proud and get a nice rapport with Bollinger? Is Shiancoe, in fact, for real? Or a hard-to-spell figment of our imagination?

Hector: Well, it certainly is hard to recommend a player by starting with the words "as long as Kelly Holcomb is starting …" but let's look at the alternatives. Bobby Wade? Sidney Rice? Troy Williamson? Not exactly bringing back memories of the Marks Brothers, is it? Bollinger, if he's the lucky winner of the Vikings quarterback lottery this week, has to do only two things: (1) Hand the ball to the "real" Adrian Peterson, and (2) not turn the ball over. But he has to throw it to somebody, and the best way to keep a pass from being intercepted is to throw it quick and short to the tight end. A Tinkerbell-like vote for his being real, as long as his QB believes.

Victor: Bollinger, as funny as it might sound to everyone out there, is actually a running quarterback. You know who usually benefits from the running quarterback? The big tight end who rolls out for a series of short passes. I agree with Victor here: Wade, Rice and Williamson have all been equally ineffective so far this year (although, to be fair, the lack of consistency at quarterback can't be helping), so why not Shiancoe? He's in a good situation with a running quarterback, and his numbers when Jackson isn't behind center (as opposed to his numbers while Holcomb is) have proved him worthy of being declared Real.

Adimchinobi Echemandu, RB, Texans

Samkon Gado, Ron Dayne, Ahman Green, Vernand Morency, Domanick Williams, Chris Taylor. These names have littered the roster of the Houston Texans the past few seasons, and we have a new entrant in the sweepstakes: Adimchinobi Echemandu
How does Echemandu fit this week's "confusing" theme? Well, we could go for the low-brow and say his name is hard to spell, but we kind of already used that with Shiancoe. Instead, we're going to take it a little deeper and simply throw his name into the mix of running backs the Texans have burned through in the past few years who may or may not be starting "next week," as they all seem to be. Seriously, has there been a Texans running back who could stay healthy? Or at least grab on to the starting role and not let go for three weeks? Echemandu was just brought up from the practice squad after last week's surprising cut of Gado. So what does he do? Carries the ball 10 times for 62 yards. One week ago, Echemandu was pretending to be LenDale White. This week, he was challenging him for yards-per-carry supremacy in an actual game. Can this hold up? Will Echemandu fulfill his destiny as the Chosen One by grabbing the starting reins and shedding the blood of Dayne and Green? Or will he eventually go back to pretending to be B.J. Askew in the Houston practices?

Confusing to keep track of or not, we must ask, Adimchinobi Echemandu, Are You for Real?

Hector: Yes, he sounds like the only hope of a cold remedy for a Jedi. Yes, he's the biggest mouthful to emerge at running back since Obafemi Ayanbadejo. Yes, it looks as though we let the cat walk along the keyboard to spell his name. All nomenclature joking aside, though, he is for real. How do we know? Coach Gary Kubiak loved Gado. He cut Gado this week in favor of Echemandu, who was signed to the practice squad only three weeks earlier. Dayne? He has had plenty of opportunity and done little. Green? Can't stay healthy. Perhaps this dose of Echemandu will cure Green's knee and keep him from missing any more action. We don't care. Eventually, that knee will give out, and the proud owner who can say he picked up Adimchinobe will be smiling (even if he can't actually pronounce it).

Victor: I agree that you should run out and sign Echemandu, if for no other reasons than those listed by my esteemed colleague above. But don't expect much more from him than you would from Benson. Dayne -- whether we like it or not -- still lurks in the shadows. He is there to do little besides sit on the waiver wire and tempt us into picking him up, in the hopes that he will be the starter or at least score a vulture touchdown; history has taught us that neither of these things ever occurs. Echemandu's large role -- less than a week after joining the roster off the practice squad -- speaks volumes. Sign Echemandu to the spot left open when Ronnie Brown went on injured reserve, and sit on him (note: This is still illegal in five states and the District of Columbia) until his situation forces you to start him.