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updated: 10/20/2011 1:50 PM

Taking out my frustrations on some underperformers

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  • Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has become a "checkdown machine" who is hurting fantasy football owners, says John Dietz. Still, he's giving Ryan one last shot this week to throw the ball downfield.

    Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has become a "checkdown machine" who is hurting fantasy football owners, says John Dietz. Still, he's giving Ryan one last shot this week to throw the ball downfield.
    Associated Press


Well, it was a good run.

From 2000-2010 -- 11 straight seasons -- I reached the playoffs in my 12-team unit league. But this year, thanks to a dismal group of underperformers constantly spitting out Curtis Enis/Marty Booker-like stats, it appears the streak is over.

Much of the blame falls on my shoulders. Had I kept Fred Jackson (at 3 units!) and not put my trust in Matt Ryan, things would be different.

Still, after leaving the draft, I was confident. I'd grabbed three of the top five players available -- and granted, being a keeper league, these were definitely not top-tier guys -- but still, I thought 7-6 was certainly realistic.

Nope. The ragtag group is at 2-4 with the fewest points scored.

So, I'd like to dedicate this column to all my toilets who are gumming up the works for The Evil Empire and fantasy teams all over the country.

•Matty "Cold as Ice" Ryan. I've always hated Ryan's nickname (Matty Ice!), but this year it suits him. I've watched three Falcons games and he refuses to throw the ball downfield. He's a checkdown machine. And it's killing fantasy teams that believed in him.

•Stinkin' Steven Jackson. One touchdown? Forty-nine touches after five games? I had a funny feeling Jackson might get dinged up -- it is his eighth year -- and the injury bug struck after a whopping 2 carries. He's healthy now but is on a Rams team that scores about twice a month.

•Lumpy LeGarrette Blount. The Bucs' battering ram has actually given owners two good games, but now he's hurt and may not return until Week 9. Thanks for the 3 TDs, though, Lumpy.

•Missing Mike Tolbert. Ryan Mathews' emergence as a super-back has nearly eroded Tolbert's usefulness. The worst part is I started him three times out of five, and he scored in the OTHER games.

•Wretched Roddy White. In fantasy points per game, White sits 27th, tied with Green Bay's James Jones, 18 spots behind Eric Decker and 16 behind Pierre Garcon. He has been banged up with a quad injury, but it would be better if he rested because his putrid production is killing owners.

•"Plant"onio Gates. Spent 35 units on the Chargers' TE, thinking his plantar fasciitis was OK. Wrong. Now I'd like to use MY foot on his backside.

Honorable mentions (two guys from my other league):

•Fragile Felix Jones. Spent a third-round pick on a guy who I thought would be a strong RB2, but Jones has done nothing since Week 3. Now he's out with a high-ankle sprain, giving rookie Demarco Murray a chance to shine.

•Jackwagon James Starks. Who else wants to throw a box of Kleenex at the Packers' RB? Grab the job and take it, ya jackwagon!

My teams: The regular-league team continues to fall on hard times as it couldn't muster enough points out of Drew Brees, Darren McFadden, A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson and Jeremy Maclin in a 118-105 loss. That team is 3-3 with the most points in the league. The unit-league team (2-4) fell 48-41 thanks to my decision to start Eli Manning (5 points) over Matt Ryan (14).

Good bets

•Chargers RB Ryan Mathews at Jets. He's nursing wrist and calf injuries, but don't get cute and bench the talented Mathews, especially against a Jets team that has trouble stopping the run.

•Vikings QB Christian Ponder vs. Green Bay. Hey, why not? Ponder showed off his mobility last week and will be playing in a game in which Minnesota will most likely play catch up. Figure 200 yards passing, 40 rushing and 2 TDs, 1 of which will be rushing.

•Broncos QB Tim Tebow vs. Miami. Hey, why not Part II? Against the hapless Dolphins, Tebow will easily score 20 fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues.

•Bears WR Roy Williams vs. Tampa Bay. Some Bear is going to explode in this game, and it could be Williams. Every opponent has had at least one receiver eclipse 75 yards against the Bucs this season with Pierre Garcon (146, 2 TDs), Roddy White (140) and Marques Colston (118, TD) posting the biggest numbers.

•Cowboys RB Demarco Murray vs. St. Louis. No Felix Jones means the rook will cook and bam right through the Rams.

•Saints RB Mark Ingram vs. Indianapolis. Ingram has hit pay dirt in three of four games. He'll find the end zone again against the Colts.

•Falcons QB Matt Ryan at Detroit. Last chance, Matt. Last. Chance.

•Chiefs QB Matt Cassel at Oakland. Coming off a 4-TD game in Week 5 and also coming off a bye, I like Cassel to throw at least 2 TD passes vs. the Raiders.

•Browns QB Colt McCoy vs. Seattle. Lots of QBs in the good bets this week, and that's because many of you are missing Eli Manning, Tom Brady and Michael Vick. McCoy has a TD pass or 2 every week and ranks 15th in fantasy points per week.

•Cardinals RB Beanie Wells vs. Pittsburgh. These aren't your father's Steelers. They can -- and have been -- run upon.

•Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin at Cleveland. I grabbed the impressive rookie in both of my leagues. He's gone over 80 receiving yards in three of five games and is a great WR3 going forward.

•Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall vs. Denver. A solid performance by Marshall (6 catches, 109 yards) Monday against Darrelle Revis should have opened your eyes.

Bad bets

•Jets QB Mark Sanchez vs. San Diego. Here's my semi-bold prediction: Every QB listed in the good bets will out-point Sanchez this week.

•Chargers QB Philip Rivers and WR Vincent Jackson at Jets. Few have disappointed more than Rivers (2 TDs, 3 INTs last three). He faces a tough foe and a long trip East.

•Bucs RB Earnest Graham vs. London. Great show by Graham vs. the Saints last week, but the re-vamped Bears just shut down Adrian Peterson and figure to hold Graham under 75 yards.

•Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Baltimore. With plenty of good RBs on the bye, it will be difficult to sit MJD, but I don't see more than 80 yards from scrimmage on Monday night.

•Packers RB James Starks at Minnesota. Any time Ryan Grant would like to permanently find the bench would be fine with Starks owners.

•Chargers RB Mike Tolbert at Jets. This figures to be a low-scoring affair. Tolbert will have 3-5 catches and get a goal-line look or two, but you'd have to be desperate or in a 16-team league to start him.

•Packers WR James Jones at Minnesota. If you need him, go ahead, but realize that Jones is going to be very hit-and-miss. He scored last week, but it was the only time Aaron Rodgers threw the ball his way.

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