A Fantasy League Of Their Own: No Excuses

Through a series of recent inter-league email exchanges, Sharon has accused me of being unsympathetic and of exploiting her breakup last week. True, I blamed her bad coaching decisions on her recent drama and set our Moral Enforcer, Malia, on her trail for starting a player with a bye. But in all fairness to myself, I never actually considered her drama to be a valid excuse for disregarding her fantasy team. I view breakups as all the more reason to completely immerse oneself in fantasy football, not to ignore it. Regardless, the update on the situation is that Sharon has promised not to let men affect her lineup anymore, and Malia has instituted a new rule called the "Break-up Exemption" on Sharon's behalf:

"Since I've let a lot of other people slide this season who have done the same thing (um, um -- Steph), I'll let this one slide as well. But, from now on, I will be watching lineups and other infractions very closely. Now that I may have a chance to make the playoffs (despite last week's performance), I want that pot to be bigger than ever!"

From the sound of it, I believe this is a one-time exemption, not necessarily applying to any future breakups. But, seeing as I've been called out in the above statement, I will refrain from further comment.

Last week Sharon failed her Dientes Locos at tight end once again, but this time it was because she started Jason Witten instead of Jeremy Shockey, and it cost her 25 points and the game. I know Sharon wants to stick with Witten since she just recently traded for him, and that might not be a bad choice against a Washington secondary that gave up four touchdowns and tons of fantasy points to Philadelphia last week. But it's a tough decision as Shockey faces the weaker Detroit defense that's been making players like Greg Olsen, Tony Scheffler and Leonard Pope look like top fantasy tight ends the past few weeks. My concern with Shockey is that he seems to have big games only every other week, while Witten is more consistent.

Tight ends have also been the issue for the Red Dogs this year. In Week 10 Sarah finally ended her flirtations with Donald Lee and decided to stay loyal to the man she entered the season with, Vernon Davis. It turned out to be a horrible decision last week, as Davis and the 49ers had a forgettable outing against Seattle. And now she's lost Lee for good, as Christina scooped him up and made him the new starter for the Black Widows. Smart move by Christina considering that Lee just signed a nice contract extension, ranks in the top 10 in our league at his position and has Brett Favre throwing to him.

I'm not sure that's any consolation for Christina, though, as I'm certain she is still mourning the defeat her Black Widows suffered at the hands of my Blonde Devils. And I know I was lucky because Tom Brady had a bye, but she really can't complain with the performance her backup Marc Bulger gave her.

It looks like Christina may consider using D.J. Hackett now that he's back in the lineup for Seattle. He's had touchdown catches in each of the past two games, and this week his matchup is against a very average Chicago defense. Not only do they give up a fair amount of yards this year through the air, but the Bears went from having the second most interceptions in the league in 2006 to the second least currently. If Deion Branch is still out this week, Hackett deserves a spot in her lineup. She can put him in either at flex instead of Edgerrin James or replace Santonio Holmes with him. James has a good matchup against the Bengals, and Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt is familiar with this defense from his days as offensive coordinator for the Steelers. So I think the better option is to bench Santonio Holmes. While Ohio State could have used him back in their lineup against Illinois, Holmes was just average against the weak Cleveland secondary. And as much as Hines Ward and Holmes complement each other on the field, they don't put up huge fantasy numbers in the same week.

Another top-ranked team that went down was Courtney's Georgia Peaches, who fell to the last-place Dawg Pound. Courtney's ever-lingering quarterback situation is a little easier this week, as Eli Manning and Jon Kitna's teams square off against each other. While Eli faces the much easier secondary, Kitna looks like he may have found his rhythm again. Plus, I fear this could be the beginning of the end for Eli and the Giants. They entered Week 10 at 6-2 and suffered a devastating loss to the Cowboys, which sounds all too familiar. Let's not forget 2006 when the Giants entered Week 10 at 6-2, lost to the Bears and woke up four weeks later at 6-6. That's not good for Eli's confidence or his stats.

Kate was fortunate that Kurt Warner gave her 26 fantasy points last week, and she really couldn't ask for much more than for him to be facing the Bengals' secondary this week. The strange thing about Warner is that he has yet to hit 20-plus fantasy points two weeks in a row this year. so Kate might want to consider Vince Young at Denver as an alternative. The Broncos secondary has given up some unexpected big games lately, and it might just be Young's chance to finally have one of those big games.

Another Titans player being overlooked in our league this week is LenDale White, who Allison has already benched for Week 11. She might want to reconsider, though, in light of the fact that he's returning to his hometown in Denver for Monday Night Football against one of the worst rush defenses in the league. I can already envision White being interviewed by Michelle Tafoya after the game discussing how meaningful it was for him to return home and have such an impressive performance in front of his friends and family. But this is a tough decision because her other option, Willie Parker, actually faces the league's worst rushing defense in the New York Jets. Despite Parker's matchup, I've never considered him a first-round fantasy back such that he deserves a starting spot each week, and I would actually bench him this week in favor of Jesse Chatman. Chatman has been playing well and scored 17 fantasy points against a Bills defense in Week 11 that statistically isn't that different from the Eagles he'll face this week. He has the added incentive of needing to prove himself before Ricky Williams somehow makes it back into the lineup after being reinstated by the NFL. Plus, Miami is trying out rookie quarterback John Beck this week, so Chatman will need to help carry this team.

Speaking of Beck, I think Leila should pick him up off of waivers. Leila's Cats suffered defeat at the hands of the Dogs in Week 10, (team names are purely coincidental) and it may have had something to do with the fact that she's alternating between Brian Griese and Jeff Garcia at quarterback. No one has seen Beck play yet, so he may get lucky this week. Plus, he threw for 11,021 yards and 79 touchdowns while at BYU. Although we really don't know what he is capable of as in the NFL, the Dolphins saw enough potential in him to pick him up in the second round of last April's NFL Draft.

As for Melanie and I, we both seemed to have found running backs in unexpected places. She has Warrick Dunn, and I have Ryan Grant. Dunn won't replace the injured Adrian Peterson on her Golden Rules roster in terms of points, but he's decided to break out at a rather convenient time for Mel. As for me, I'm just excited to take DeAngelo Williams out of my starting lineup for good.

While we can't quite take advantage of the breakup exemption for technical reasons, Mel and I will be out this weekend toasting our running backs and perhaps discovering a new exemption rule of our own. Sharon, want to join us?