The good, bad and ugly

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It was a fine week for bad football.

I should know – I watched a lot of it. Thank you, fantasy football, for making me care about two games that under normal circumstances wouldn't warrant more than a channel-clicking interest.

It started with the Sunday night showdown between the Niners and Bears. But wait, I'm confused. Craig Krenzel? Ken Dorsey? Is this the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl?

Sadly, it was not. It was what passes as professional football for teams whose best days came in the 80s. Kind of like Eddie Murphy.

But I tuned in, because my fantasy opponent started Kevan Barlow and the Chicago defense, and because I'm too young for Desperate Housewives.

The game wasn't pretty, and I wasn't swayed by comments from the announcers, such as, "There's no quit in the 49ers," or, "These are two of the hardest working teams in the league."

Really? Because I looked at the standings and they were both 1-5.

I intended to change the channel, but something else happened instead. I remember downing a half-pound burger with "the works" from the joint up the street. I remember thinking I might be more comfortable in a slightly more horizontal position. And I remember waking up about two hours later, just in time to watch the Bears run back an interception for a touchdown.

Wonderful.

I was down 10 at that point, but not to worry – I still had the Jets defense going against the disgraceful Dolphins on Monday night. And my team, like the Ravens, wins with defense. In fact, the J-E-T-S Jets have outscored every player on my team other than Ahman Green.

So the next night, I loaded up my Yahoo StatTracker and tuned in to Al and John, passing on The Swan to watch my beloved Jets throw Jay Fiedler around like a cat toy.

Four sacks, three turnovers and three-plus hours later, I had scratched out a hard-fought win, in spite of Terrell Buckley's maddening indifference on a last-second TD heave.

And so, despite entering the week with the lowest point total in a 12-team league, despite cutting Rod Smith right before he went for 208 yards and a TD, I managed pull myself into a first-place tie at 6-2.

Thank goodness for bad football.

Quick hitters

  • Peyton Manning became the new king of fantasy football, the Chiefs offense partied like it was 2003 and Drew Brees gave us a five-touchdown October surprise. Those were just a few of the highlights from a week that was dominated by great QB play and a fantasy fireworks show between K.C. and Indianapolis. It's no surprise that three of last week's top five players came from that wild game –Manning, who threw for 472 yards and five TDs to supplant Daunte Culpepper atop the fantasy ranks, and Priest Holmes and Trent Green, who accounted for three TDs apiece. The Chiefs have scored 101 points in two games, giving them two top-five players in each of the last two weeks. Brees and Jake Plummer also cracked the top five.

  • Brees has also been the fifth-best player in the fantasy game this season, something no one foresaw – least of all the Chargers, who drafted Philip Rivers to be their QB of the future. Brees ranks behind Manning, Culpepper, Holmes and Donovan McNabb, and his emergence has given a boost to the value of the entire San Diego offense. With that in mind, consider grabbing WR Eric Parker, who has 16 catches for 214 yards and a TD in his last three games.

  • On the other end of the QB spectrum, Byron Leftwich's knee injury is a major cause for concern. There's a chance he could get better with rest during the Jaguars' bye week this week. But if he's out 4-6 weeks, as has been speculated, that would put his return right around the start of the fantasy postseason. His potential replacement, David Garrard, is a big (6-foot-2, 244-pound) QB with a strong arm who has attempted 60 passes in his three-year career. He's not Leftwich, but he could prove to be a useful fantasy fill-in if Leftwich misses more than a game or two. He'll need a few weeks to settle in, though, so bank on at least a short-term dip in the values of receivers Jimmy Smith and Ernest Wilford.

  • Baltimore's Jamal Lewis (see below) isn't the only player returning from a suspension this week. Minnesota RB Onterrio Smith is back after a four-game break and he's one of this week's hottest waiver wire pickups. Smith should regain his starting role in a jam-packed backfield that also includes Mewelde Moore, Michael Bennett and Moe Williams. Moore proved a capable fill-in but was held to 29 yards on eight carries last week and is questionable this week with a sprained ankle. Bennett had 20 yards on five carries a wek ago. The door is wide open for Smith.

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