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posted: 10/12/2012 5:30 AM

Fantasy football: Go ahead, panic and take a chance

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  • Jermichael Finley can't catch a pass in front of Lance Briggs during their game earlier this year. Finley has been killing fantasy owners this season as he has just 198 yards receiving and 1 TD.

      Jermichael Finley can't catch a pass in front of Lance Briggs during their game earlier this year. Finley has been killing fantasy owners this season as he has just 198 yards receiving and 1 TD.
    Associated Press

  • Green Bay Packers' Jermichael Finley (88) fumbles as he is hit by Chicago Bears' Charles Tillman (33) during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Bears recovered the fumble.

      Green Bay Packers' Jermichael Finley (88) fumbles as he is hit by Chicago Bears' Charles Tillman (33) during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Bears recovered the fumble.

  • Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway stops San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates during the first half of a NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in San Diego.

      Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway stops San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates during the first half of a NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in San Diego.

 
 

About seven years ago, I remember getting up from my chair at work, taking a walk to the water fountain and feeling an odd pain in my abdominal area.

"That doesn't feel right," I thought.

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Sat back down and the pain went away. Stood up and it came back.

Uh oh. Something's wrong.

Having never truly been injured my entire life, I took an educated guess and Googled "hernia" about 10 minutes later.

Every symptom seemed to fit, so I went to the doctor the next day.

Bingo. I was right.

Having a low-key, zero-panic personality, I was like, "OK. Hernia surgery. No big deal. Good as new in a couple of months. On the golf course by May 1."

Well, the second part was true, but the "no big deal" part was a big miss.

The excruciating pain of trying to stand up for days on end after the surgery is something I'll never forget. I'm sure many of you have been through worse (kidney stones, heart surgery, etc., etc.), so I won't bellyache too much.

But, wow, I can still remember the stab-you-in-the-gut-like pain.

My initial non-panicking reaction to the whole ordeal, though, is pretty much the way I live my life. Panicking over trivial details -- you know, like going under the knife! -- seems like such a waste of time.

When it comes to fantasy football, however, I'm OK with sounding the alarm, especially when a team is 0-5 or 1-4 or when a player (Antonio Gates) is causing so much pain (Jermichael Finley) that you are considering surgically removing him from your starting lineup.

So let's go ahead and focus on a few top-tier tight ends who are causing fantasy owners heart palpitations on a weekly basis.

The biggest waste has been Gates (13-143-0), who ranks an unsightly 33rd at his position. Thirty-third! Close behind is Green Bay's Finley (22-198-1), who is injured and may miss Monday night's contest in Houston. Dallas' Jason Witten and Washington's Fred Davis haven't exactly been lighting the world on fire either.

In my case, I'm done with Gates. I'm sure this means he'll catch 3 TD passes this weekend, but he looks slow and my feeling is injuries have simply caught up to him. So in a league where we do not split out tight ends, he's grabbing some pine and I'm starting the immortal Andre Roberts of Arizona.

If you own Gates or Finley (or have had it with Witten or Davis), the best course of action is to somehow fleece the owner of Vernon Davis. Give up a decent running back, a good QB or a second WR -- and maybe throw in a top-notch defense -- and see if you can pull it off. Davis should finish as the league's top tight end, especially with Rob Gronkowski banged up and Jimmy Graham playing for a New Orleans offense that clearly misses Sean Payton.

If the Davis option doesn't work, think about getting Pittsburgh's Heath Miller (third among TEs before Thursday night's game), Houston's Owen Daniels (TDs in three straight games) or Minnesota's Kyle Rudolph (4 TDs). Rudolph is a pretty dicey pickup, though, because his yardage totals since Week 1 are 35-36-8-23. Still, Vikings QB Christian Ponder loves him in the red zone and he's clearly producing better than Gates or Finley.

Whatever you decide, Gates and Finley owners officially have my blessing to panic. They've caused you enough pain already.

My teams: The auction-league squad is getting killed by the fact that Gates has completely disappeared. That team lost 82-66 and is 2-3. My regular squad (3-2) is in a three-way tie for first place despite a 107-101 loss.

Good bets

•Texans QB Matt Schaub vs. Green Bay. Schaub has been a fantasy disappointment this season with 8 TD passes, 4 coming in one game. I like him in this spot, though, playing on Sunday Night Football in a game that should end up around 28-27.

•Broncos QB Peyton Manning and WR Eric Decker at San Diego. No reason to sit Manning now after three straight 330-yard games.

•Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb, WR Andre Roberts and RB William Powell. The Bills have allowed 35.2 points per game and haven't been able to stop the likes of Mark Sanchez (266 passing yards, 3 TDs) or Alex Smith (303-3). Time to click and drag all Cardinals into your starting lineup.

•Bengals QB Andy Dalton at Cleveland. Dalton had an bad week against Miami and was terrible against the Browns last season. So why am I recommending him? Those 8 TDs in Weeks 2-4 don't lie: He'll post good numbers more often than not in 2012.

•Seahawks WR Sidney Rice vs. New England. Darkhorse candidate alert, here. Rice has 9 catches for 108 yards the last two weeks and will post decent numbers against a Patriots team that allows 291.6 passing yards per game.

•Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray at Baltimore. Averaging just 70 yards from scrimmage with just 1 score, Murray has been flat-out abysmal the last three weeks. The Ravens can be pushed around, though, as the Chiefs and Jamaal Charles showed. Murray's a great start.

•Colts RB Vick Ballard at New York Jets. Against the second-worst rush defense in the league, Ballard gets a chance to play for the injured Donald Brown and will go over 110 yards from scrimmage and score.

Bad bets

•Ravens QB Joe Flacco and WR Anquan Boldin vs. Dallas. The Cowboys are pretty stingy against the pass (best in the league), so watch for the Ravens to inject a heavy dose of Ray Rice in this one.

•Patriots QB Tom Brady and RB Stevan Ridley at Seattle. Crazy pick here? Sit Brady? That may be tough to do -- and I probably wouldn't do it myself -- but the Seahawks completely flummoxed Aaron Rodgers (zero TDs) and Tony Romo (1 TD) at home. As for Ridley, coach Bill Belichick is sick of the second-year RB's fumbling. Watch for his touches to diminish a bit until he proves he can hang onto the football.

•Bills RBs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson at Arizona. These two are nothing more than flex plays until further notice.

•Lions QB Matthew Stafford at Philadelphia. The Eagles have allowed the fifth-fewest points to QB, making the erratic Stafford a somewhat risky play.

•Packers WR Randall Cobb and RB Alex Green at Houston. This is the first true test for the Texans' defense. No way am I sitting Aaron Rodgers, but the rest of the Packers should be considered very closely, and I'd be especially wary of Cobb and Green. Getting more than 50 yards out of either one would be considered a win.

jdietz@dailyherald.com

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